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Melody Dye
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‘That’s what we both hate about fiction, or at least crappy fiction,’ Nelson muses... ‘It purports to provide occasions for thinking through complex issues, but really it has predetermined the positions, stuffed a narrative full of false choices’

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"Many women have aspired to ‘conquer’ men. Some have sought to be muses, under the impression that enabling a man’s creative work is itself a form of genius. It takes a strange personality indeed to see it as her mission to inspire powerful Jewish men to worship her in order that she could then liberate them from their Jewishness."

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"What had, to a large extent, begun as a modern, liberal minded attempt at the imposition of universal values had turned into something more sinister. And when, in time, the Nazi state implemented its Final Solution, “the closed list of Jewish patronyms made the task of genocide terrifyingly simple.”"

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 "There is no art or discipline for which the nature of reality is a matter of indifference, so one ontology or another is always being assumed if not articulated."

"'Linguistics has not in general been one of the sciences in which the relevance and correctness of statements are determined by controlled methods of observation and argumentation. It is therefore desirable to consider what methods are relevant in linguistics, in the hope of establishing criteria for investigation and analysis. Choice of method is not less important than responsibility in data, and the choice should be determined not by personal preference or current custom but by the nature and the problems of the data." -Zellig Harris, "A Theory of Language and Information"

“The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

There's a striking parallel between arguments for intelligent design and arguments for linguistic nativism: Both are arguments from ignorance. In one instance, a supernatural creator is the explanatory placeholder; in the other, it's our supposed "innate endowment".

Here's Jerry Coyne on intelligent design:
"ID is unscientific, for it consists largely of untestable claims. How, for example, can we determine whether mutations were mere accidents in DNA replication or were willed into being by a creator? But we can still ask if there are adaptations that could not have been built by selection, and therefore require us to think of another mechanism. Advocates of ID have suggested several such adaptations, such as the bacterial flagellum... and the mechanism of blood clotting. [...] IDers argue that such traits, involving many parts that must cooperate for that trait to function at all, defy Darwinian explanation. Therefore, by default, they must have been designed by a supernatural agent. This is commonly called the "God of the gaps" argument, and it is an argument from ignorance. What it really says is that if we don't understand everything about how natural selection build a trait, that lack of understanding itself is evidence for supernatural creation." (2009, p. 139). 

Compare this to the language mad-libs version:
"Linguistic nativism is unscientific, for it consists largely of untestable claims. Yet we can still ask if there are facets of language that could not have been learned, and therefore require us to think of another mechanism. Advocates of nativism have suggested several such puzzles, such as early patterns of nominal overregularization. Nativists argue that such phenomena defy a learning theoretic explanation. Therefore, by default, they must be specified by some innate developmental program. This is commonly called a "poverty of the stimulus" argument, and it is an argument from ignorance. What it really says is that if we don't understand everything about how learning can explain some phenomena, then that lack of understanding itself is evidence for nativism."

"...even the sheets of paper on which one endeavors to put together a few words and sentences seem covered in mildew. For days and weeks on end one racks one's brains to no avail, and if asked, one could not say whether one goes on writing purely out of habit, or a craving for admiration, or because one knows not how to do anything other, or out of sheer wonderment, despair or outrage, any more than one could say whether writing renders one more perceptive or insane. Perhaps we all lose our sense of reality to the precise degree to which we are engrossed in our own work, and perhaps this is why we see in the increasing complexity of our mental constructs a means for greater understanding, even while intuitively we know that we shall never be able to fathom the imponderables that govern our course through life." -W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

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"Complete irony and the complete absence of irony ultimately meet in the same place."

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu
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