There have been millions of more important things to write about during Christmas but the real-world events were exhausting and the blog audiences would be severely reduced, too.
Russophobe Harding ended the interview abruptly when he apparently realized that he has proven his book and his brain to have no beef.
Let's start the post-Christmas traffic by a random story. In this 30-minute-long interview, Aaron Maté of the Real News hosted Luke Harding, a journalist from the Guardian who wrote a bestselling book on the "Trump-Russia collusion" (Amazon rank 614 now, 4.2 stars).
There have been lots of reactions, e.g. at The Duran, The Medium, and Twitter and most of those basically agree with your humble correspondent.
I am not sure whether you want to sacrifice 30 minutes: I was uncertain whether anything new could come out of it. But at the end, I did watch the whole interview. And I have no regrets because it was brutal. It has reinforced my impression that a majority of the contemporary political disagreements doesn't follow the old-fashioned left-and-right political divides. These conflicts divide the people to the rational and irrational ones instead.
In other words, Harding, the Russophobe, spoke just like some fanatical believers in the supernatural phenomena or Young Earth creationism or loop quantum gravity or science-as-democracy or any stuff like that – which exposes the true believers' muddy thinking, constant and often apparently deliberate distraction, inability or lack of will to distinguish the hard facts and rigorous proofs from a wishful thinking, group think, random accusations, and unsubstantiated hypotheses.
So Maté has obviously asked whether Harding had any evidence of some collusion, any evidence for his conspiracy theories. During those 30 minutes, Harding hasn't presented a damn thing. He hasn't even provided Maté with a glimpse of a damn thing. OK, Mr Harding, do you have some evidence? – Putin isn't a nice person. – Do you have some evidence for the collusion? – Some people around Trump have been to Russia. And I also spoke to Russians. – I have also spoke to Russians but they don't agree with your claims.
Maté keeps his common sense. Agents of intelligence services are defending their countries' interests etc. Russia isn't too different from others. Harding constantly tries to nurture some kind of a mysterious fog out there and whenever he deals with Maté's arguments, often rock solid ones, he jumps to a different topic and some "big picture" which is that Russians are evil – and that's apparently why you should believe any proposition that says something bad about Russians. And he has nothing to say when it's pointed out that even if Russians are evil, that doesn't imply any of his claimed conspiracies.
Also, we may see that Harding sort of realizes that he has addressed the book to complete morons and they're his target audience in the interview, too. At one point, for example, Harding explains that Estonia is a country. The people who need to be explained that may indeed be promising readers of his book. Whenever Harding knew why some of the statements were false – e.g. the claim that Russia is known to have interfered to the French elections, he jumped elsewhere, to Germany. Whenever some problems with similar German claims were debunked, Harding whined that he was a journalist who wrote stories and didn't have to give any accurate information which is only the work for the NSA or CIA. Oh, really? In the good old times, journalists were prouder about their accuracy than the agents.
Maté hasn't read the whole book – and I don't plan to do it, either, because this interview says a lot about the quality of that writing – but he has found some interesting pieces. For example, on one page, Harding claims that the conspiracy has been nearly proven because someone around Putin or the Kremlin added a smiley face to a message! ;-) Imagine that. You add a smiley face and that will be used as a proof of your involvement in a giant conspiracy. Needless to say, Harding had nothing to reply – because this "smiley face argument" is rather obviously representative of his whole book, his way of argumentation and of thinking (more precisely the absence of it).
Also, Harding persistently praises some other people who have said bad things about the Russians, Trump, or Trump's collaborators – he praises the authors of all kinds of libels and accusations. Those are said to be "credible" or nice people. When Maté effectively asks whether Harding can distinguish the proposition "X" and "a person named AB said X", it becomes pretty clear that Maté can't distinguish these two. Harding, like others, is basically cherry-picking the people who say what he wants to hear, he lionizes them, and never wants to question them – i.e. he never wants to question any of his beliefs. From his perspective, the belief in X is indistinguishable from X.
At the end (and also at some points in the middle), Maté asks whether they could agree that there's no proof etc. Unsurprisingly, Harding says "it's just Maté's view". I am so allergic to this proposition that I hear and read so often. Whenever some person who has absolutely no arguments, no evidence, who is completely stupid, who was just given a proof that he is wrong, or who suffers from any similar lethal problem gets in trouble during an argument, he or she starts to scream that everyone's opinion is equally good – and in this way, he completely ignores and denies the problem. It's just your opinion blah blah blah. We need to agree that everyone is equal and his or her opinions have the same value.
Needless to say, this "egalitarianism" is only used when their inferiority is way too obvious. When they feel self-confident, e.g. supported by an aggressive mob or some political power, these people always act as if their defective side were superior. When they're facing some rock solid counterarguments, e.g. that their "proofs" are as lousy as "a smiley face proves a giant conspiracy", they suddenly need to cry, rely on compassion, the generosity of their rivals in the debate, and so on.
Sorry, Mr Harding, but you – just like the defenders of telepathy, just like Lee Smolin, just like some of the dumbest creationists etc. etc. – aren't equal and your arguments aren't equal. You're full of šit, your brain is composed of šit as well, and šit is worth much less than a rational argument, solid evidence, let alone a proof.
The Duran's Alexander Mercouris mentions Gish Gallop, a debating tactic in which the muddy side emits lots of disconnected or loosely connected weak arguments or non-arguments in an apparent effort to create the illusion that they combine to a strong one, an overwhelming picture, if not a solid proof (and the fallacious debater believes or relies upon the likely outcome that at least one of the numerous weak arguments will turn out to be good enough to impress each listener, especially in debates with limited time to debunk everything). Well, they don't and they can't.
The hyperlink in the previous paragraph goes to the left-wing server, Rational Wiki, which uses the term linking the fallacy to a notorious creationist debater. And indeed, the selective blindness and inability (or lack of will) to focus on particular facts and arguments used to be associated with traditional religions and the beliefs that depend on religions. But in the real world at the end of 2017, this trick is much more frequently used by various extreme left-wing nut jobs. By the climate bedwetters who foresee a climatic apocalypse, by the Trump-Russia conspiracy theorists, but also by those who believe that string theory is a conspiracy theory, and similar mentally challenged opinion bubbles.
Aaron Maté remained incredibly calm and professional – as if he were an actor whose task is to behave in this way (perhaps like Ms Scully) so that it almost looks artificial. I couldn't do such a job. Whenever I hear some arrogant hardcore idiot similar to Luke Harding who pompously sells his idiocy, prejudices, denial of self-evident facts, and incoherent muddy thinking as a mankind's intellectual revolution or at least as an equally good alternative attitude that handsomely competes with rational thinking and hard facts, I get angry and I am immediately thinking how to liberate the world from similar scum.
What can we learn from the fact that Luke Harding's book has made it to #1 in the New York Times bestseller list at one moment? It shows that the number of idiots in the West is breathtakingly high. It's so high that they are severely distorting the book market. Millions or tens of millions of people buy a book with an ambitious title whose author can't provide a glimpse of evidence for that title during a 30-minute-long interview. Well, it has probably been the case for a very long time (that idiots dominate the buyers of books) – even though the type of stupidities and prejudices that these idiots wanted to be confirmed by their books was changing with time.
Needless to say, the people who don't read books at all are probably even dumber in average than Luke Harding's readers. That's not a pretty realization and I choose not to elaborate upon it because it would make me too frustrated. ;-)