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June 29, 2006

rhymes with “morose”

In his new book, “The Age of Fallibility: Consequence of the War on Terror,” financial speculator George Soros attempts to patiently explain to those of us who are not billionaires how the world works. As he points out, “America is an open society, but people are not well versed in philosophy and they do not fully understand the principles of open society.”

You see, George Soros understands philosophy. As he says in his chapter on Thinking and Reality, “The fact that our thinking forms part of what we think about, has far reaching implications both for our thinking and for our reality.”

So you see, you only think you think what you think but it is your thinking that makes you think that.

We think.

He goes on: “Our view of the world will never correspond to the world as it is because we are part of the world, and what we think automatically becomes part of our world too. The way we look at the world changes the world.”

Oh, right, now we get it.

Okay, no we don’t.

Maybe the mere act of thinking about the concept changes it into something completely incomprehensible. Call it the social Heisenberg principle.

Or, as Mr. Soros modestly notes, “the truth is not as self-evident as the Founding Fathers thought when they signed the Declaration of Independence.”

(Hey, did Thomas Jefferson ever run an international hedge fund successfully trading currencies and interest rate derivatives? No? Didn’t think so.)

One of the biggest revelations that come from Mr. Soros’ thinking is his contention that “our understanding of reality is inherently imperfect and all human constructs are flawed in one way or another.”  In other words, the world is complex and we don’t always know everything.

He thinks you don’t know this. 

The core thesis of the book is that “America has become a ‘feel-good’ society unwilling to face unpleasant reality.”

Indeed, regardless of your position on Iraq or on the war on terror in general, we can certainly all agree that spending hundreds of billions of dollars and sacrificing many thousands of lives is mostly just a coping mechanism. If only we had the courage and fortitude to face unpleasantness.

After spending millions of his own dollars not getting John Kerry elected in 2004, Mr. Soros realized that he had to “dig deeper and explore what is wrong with contemporary American society.”

Among the many problems identified by Mr. Soros is our prosperity.  He has found to his dismay that as this century has progressed, “Firms no longer catered to needs but to desires and they manipulated and stimulated those desires.”

You see, you only think you want an iPod. The reality is you’d be perfectly happy with a hollow tree and a stick but for “sophisticated methods of market research and motivational research.”

But it gets worse, this consumerist mentality has in the past half century also managed to corrupt a once pure electoral process as “politicians learned to cater to the desires of the electorate instead of propounding policies they believed in,” strongly suggesting that Mr. Soros has managed to live 75 years without ever going near any kind of book covering American political history.

And after spending 183 pages noting how our knowledge of the world is hopelessly imperfect, Mr. Soros ends by noting that “I checked it out with scientists, and they confirmed that scientific opinion is unanimous about the dangers” of global warming. Apparently, the very act of Mr. Soros thinking about global warming altered reality itself thus eliminating all the opponents.

Ultimately, Mr. Soros does prove himself correct on his core point regarding imperfect knowledge when a French court this month upheld his conviction on insider trading charges related to purchases of stock he made in 1988 after learning of a planned takeover of a company.

Bet he didn’t see that coming.


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June 29, 2006 at 01:19 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Oh, don't worry, that was just the beer talking that I drink after the margaritas.

As for the BT models, I’ve decided they don’t exist.

You use your coping mechanism, and I’ll use mine.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Jul 1, 2006 9:26:08 PM

AKK! Don't cut down on the Thursday Margaritas!

And, anyone know the phone numbers of those hot Bt models?

Posted by: D'n | Jul 1, 2006 5:28:26 PM

So it would seem that the universe itself can no longer contain any fundamental truths, for as soon as we humans discover those truths and ponder them, we contaminate them. This would, of course, forever scandalize their truthiness. A little asterisk in the record books of everything there ever was, or ever will be.

It would also seem that Mr. Soros is confirming what many think of him and the political spectrum he represents...that the only real way to confront the reality of the world around us is through the total absence of thought. Or as Descartes put it..."I think therefore I'm screwed."

Posted by: SarcasmIncarnate | Jun 30, 2006 12:06:22 PM

I just love this "progressive" idea that if you just think hard enough about how the world should be different, your thought will change the world to conform to it. Thoughts do change the world, but almost never in the desired direction, and they certainly don't have the power to alter reality to the extent Soros seems to think they do. I mean, if they did, wouldn't the world have actually *been* flat?

Posted by: Wacky Hermit | Jun 30, 2006 8:56:04 AM

I was going to respond but the act of reading your comment has irretrievably altered reality.

Either that or I really have to cut back on the Margaritas on Thursday.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Jun 29, 2006 11:02:17 PM

Though I enjoyed your feature on Soros, I think you may be selling what he's saying a bit short.

He goes on: “Our view of the world will never correspond to the world as it is because we are part of the world, and what we think automatically becomes part of our world too. The way we look at the world changes the world.”

As confusing as this going-on is, if tis madness then there's method in't. Soros is saying that you can't analyze the world without that very analysys changing what you're looking at -- just like, oddly enough, what happens at the Quantum level of matter.

Sort of a cosmic, "you touched it, you own it."

In other terms, he seems to be saying that you can never have an "ivory tower" analysis -- once you start looking at a problem, that looking at morphs the original.

Isn't this a rejection of the classic liberal thought pattern, "hey, we sat down and looked at Global Warming (or Universal Health care, or the Mets in '06) and THIS is what we have to do" -- and the policy that spews forth has nothing to do with reality?


The core thesis of the book is that “America has become a ‘feel-good’ society unwilling to face unpleasant reality.”

Again, we have validity here: fighting a war isn't NICE, it doesn't feel good to struggle for unimportant ideals like "Freedom" or "Liberty", let's set a date and scoot...

Posted by: D'n | Jun 29, 2006 8:14:02 PM

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