Monday, September 08, 2008

Obama: my Muslim faith

Around 1:20, Obama says that "McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith". Now, because this is not a cheap blog abusing three words for political reasons, let us analyze the slip a bit more closely.

At the very beginning of the video, the host (George Stephanopoulos) talks about Obama's Christian faith. The discussion becomes a bit contrived and Obama suddenly mentions "my Muslim faith".

So what did he mean in that sentence? I see three basic answers:
  1. he meant "my Christian faith", as the host corrected him
  2. he meant "my alleged Muslim faith [that doesn't exist]"
  3. he meant "my Muslim faith" because he just happened to open his heart at that moment.
At some moment, I found the answer "2" to be the most likely one. Imagine that someone may claim that you're a gay but you're not. Would you say "McCain hasn't talked about my homosexuality?" I doubt it. You would use a formulation that makes it clearer that it is a false accusation.

Also, if Obama meant "my alleged Muslim faith", I find it unlikely that he would "okay" the host's correction afterwords. The host suggested a correction "my Christian faith" and Obama agreed with the correction. If he meant "my alleged links with Islam", he would have insisted on that when the host tried to correct him. He kind of did it, too - but only another second later. Obama simply looked very confused about what he actually wanted to say. So does it mean that "1" is correct and Obama was talking about his Christian faith?

I find it unlikely, too. First of all, the term "my Christian faith" doesn't make much sense in the context. Whether McCain talks about Obama's Christian faith is almost completely irrelevant. In fact, no one does so because all these politicians are Christians, at least formally. There's nothing to talk about. Moreover, "my Muslim faith" seems to be a compact term that you probably wouldn't say if you haven't trained it sometime in the past. So "1" seems strange.

We are led to "3". He just wanted to say that the press shouldn't deconstruct private things such as Palin's pregnant daughter - and I agree with that. He deeply feels that his Muslim faith is analogous because it is his private thing - and I tend to agree with it, too. It's just a taboo that he may have broken it. Do you agree?


  1. This is off-topic. I am a usual reader of your blog, and I fully support your views on physics and climate change. I just thought you'd like to know about this news I just read:, which for the first time (as far as I know) shows a collision the interests of climate activists (like Sir David King) and the LHC itself. This makes me really mad, because it could really make layman have a negative view on LHC and other real science projects, and therefore have real, negative implications on the participation of UK to present and future projects in particle physics and astronomy. Maybe you'd like to post something on this?

  2. Dear helvio, thanks for your comment. As you can imagine, I've been angry up to the level of assassination once I saw the piece. You can check it up in my reply to a fast comment with the same link.

    At least, John Ellis replied so the BBC article was updated. He had to pay a lipservice to the climate hysteria, too, but at least, he explained why King's opinions are rubbish even from a practical viewpoint.

    I don't want to promote these words by King in a special text because I know that I would not be effective. This situation is just way too serious today. This shithead is a top science adviser in the U.K.

    This particular "cold war" between particle physics and climate hysteria started decades (or 15 years) ago when people close to Gore et al. helped to kill the supercollider (SSC), originally politically designed by Reagan. They had similar anti-scientific, "practical", activist sentiments.

    The only thing that was gradually changing since the early 1990s is that these intellectually inferior people were getting more self-confident, loud, and powerful as the standards in science and the media were plummeting. At some moment, it may be "too late" already and we will have to wait for a spectacular collapse of their system of "managing" science, analogous to the collapse of the Third Reich. It might be that the U.K. will have to be on a losing side of another world war about similar rather important matters.

    I don't think it is meaningful at this moment to fight against these people by "their tools", so to say, because the twats like King have contaminated all possible chairs that are actually deciding about the management of institutionalized science.

    Pure science is one of the key values of a true culture of our epoch, in the words of Feynman, and whoever disagrees should fuck off, using words of Dawkins (borrowed from New Scientist). ;-)

    But even if an ordinary person really gives no damn about the fundamental truths about the Nature, having similar, pure, fundamental, ambitious dreams about learning the truth is what has historically motivated the creative minds in the best possible way.

    It's no accident that the nuclear energy or the web were born in the physicists' large facilities. The most spectacular future technologies to produce a lot of energy will come from particle physics, too.

    If someone switches these people to managing new kinds of biofuels or something like that, they won't be "brilliant minds" but rather farmers and peasants which is something completely different (and much lower on the scale of brilliance).

    Best wishes

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  4. After listening to the passage a couple of times, I think that Obama was actually clarifying that he meant #2. I'm not fan of him, but I find it hard to 2nd guess him on this. Many of us who speak for a living sometimes use a word (Muslim) that formed part of our thinking process ("McCain hasn't claimed I was Muslim, no I'll say he hasn't talked about it.") and the spoken version of the thought comes out garbled. He didn't seem to be hiding anything in THAT statement.

    To the other subject that was brought up, I have a big question: What's so horrible about climate change? Let it happen and adjust. Seems like something Dawkins would love.