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Principles of Applied Epistemology (APPLIED EPISTEMOLOGY)
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Mick Harper
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From a strictly polemical point of view his best course was to ignore me. I'm always urging this policy on people, it's a very powerful weapon. Instead he decided to take me on. Whether his pride was hurt or because he genuinely believed his thesis I don't know but his justification holds some lessons for polemicists. He begins with a complete irrelevancy

Caetano was the nominal head of a collegial dictatorship, as were Videla and Galtieri in Argentina. Collegiality doesn’t make a dictatorship less dictatorial if you’re a tortured imprisoned dissident. A single Fuhrer isn’t required to oppress a population that can’t fire its leadership.

Notice his sly attempt to get the audience on his side. A policy he continues with his second defence

In 1982 Argentina seized and occupied islands where the population was not Argentine. Both were colonizers, in sequence, though the Falklands were uninhabited when Britain claimed them, which makes the British in the Falklands an empire with penguins as subjects. A pity Anatole France didn’t include this as a chapter in Penguin Island.

He is quite cute with the third

Italy lost Libya to the British in 1942. Sicily was invaded on July 10, 1943. The Fascist Grand Council deposed Mussolini on July 25, 1943. Italy’s failed war against Greece starting October 1940 brought Germany into the Balkans. They all looked like failed wars of colonial conquest to me.

But of course he did not address, much less concede, my point that it wasn't losing colonies that did for Mussolini. He then, quite unusually, responds to my invitation to provide other examples.

Other regime-killing colonial wars: Germany’s Lebensraum invasion of the USSR, Japan’s invasion of China and SE Asia, Russia’s war of imperial rivalry against Japan in 1904–05, Spain in Cuba in the 1890s and the Rif, Morocco, 1909–21, the USSR in Afghanistan, 1979–89, France in Algeria, 1954–62, LBJ’s presidency died in Vietnam. Autocracies that fail in war fall harder than elected governments.

This is a truly 'bogus list'. I'll leave you to examine which of them are examples of failed colonial wars killing off dictatorships (none, maybe one would be my verdict) though characterising the Fourth Republic and LBJ as dictators probably tells you all you need to know.

I will take my own advice and not reply despite Lester (and I imagine the audience) thinking I've been crushed. I'm not proud.
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Mick Harper
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A lovely example of the 'bogus list' cropped up this morning (though the reference is years old)

On Harper’s claim that Language A cannot be ‘grammatically and syntactically distant from Language B and yet share a vocabulary with it’ (page 92): yes, it can. To give just one of many possible examples

So, the dude has many examples and they are drawn from several thousand possible languages. The first thing to note is why one? It is true that my use of 'cannot' means that one is enough but since he is writing a polemic it would serve his purpose much better to list half a dozen, implying, "He didn't have to look far, the jizzock." This is important for AE purposes because when someone does something that is correct but sub-optimal, one's attention is drawn. Anyway, this is the example he did use

Tok Pisin, in origin a pidgin language and now one of the official national languages of Papua New Guinea, shares almost its entire vocabulary with English, but its grammar is wildly different from English grammar.

In other words an artificial language that has grafted the vocabulary of one language (English) on to the structure on another (Papuan of some sort presumably). The spectacular dishonesty of this tells us that I was right.
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Mick Harper
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I actually just had a literal Eureka moment. A triff new idea while in the bath. But more... I thought to myself, 'I must post this up.' But then had second thoughts, 'It wasn't that triff, suppose they demand details.' But that spurred me on to furious ex-bath cogitations and now it is!

I owe you all so much.
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Ishmael


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Mick Harper wrote:
only the one I sent to Graham Hancock's website (quite why I still don't know) had any lasting effect. And then only because you were the editor.


I've been riding around Tanzania on a motorbike. I wanted to get to Lake Victoria to at least lay my eyes on it. Sadly, I just got exhausted and had to turn south, before crossing the Serengeti.

I may yet go. But next time I'll take the train.
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Mick Harper
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You always were a wuss.
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