Events and relations over entities

A member asked a few days ago whether anyone really held the event-to-event view of causality. Two unfortunate examples of it appeared the same day (4/4/24) on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal.

“Ideology, ‘Information’ and the New Censorship” counter-attacked recent attacks on free speech. The author deals with a supreme court Justice’s hypothetical question about what could be said on social media:

Suppose someone started posting about a new teen challenge that involved teens jumping out of windows at increasing elevations. . . . Kids all over the country start doing this. There is an epidemic. Children are seriously injuring or even killing themselves in situations. Is it your view that government authorities could not declare those circumstances a public emergency and encourage [!] social media platforms to take the information that is instigating this problem?

The op-ed writer’s response? He says there’s no information involved here, it’s opinion.

What’s cool to confused kids is a matter of interpretation and judgment, which are far beyond mere information.

Look at what both sides are evading: What kind of entity is government? What kind of action of that kind of entity is encouragement? What is the function of government? What are the limits of government action? What kind of entity is a teenager? Since the answer involves it having parents, what is it to be a parent? What are the responsibilities of a parent? What kinds of entities are on social media? What might they do, given their natures? What should they do? Why can only government act here?

If you put these and other issues about the natures of the entities involved, you come up with an entirely different answer: teenagers who allow themselves to be influenced by others, even to the point of doing self-destructive acts, can be influenced by others not to do. Parents are responsible for their children. Government may not use physical force to interfere with private activities, unless they involve force.

There is the issue of government protection of minors, but that is not an essential here.

The second article had the encouraging title “Climate Alarmism is Bad Science.”

But it was about a single climate nonsense article, asserting a patently event-to-event claim:

The authors claim that there is an optimal average temperature of 55.5 degrees Fahrenheit for economic growth.

And they “prove” it by that event-to-event staple: statistical correlation!

Worse: the debunking of it by the author of the WSJ op-ed consisted of showing that the statistics were fudged!

What would an entity-based view be? It asks questions about the nature of things: What is wealth? What is growth? (An increase in wealth; whose wealth?) Is it per capita, as the alarmists assume, or can we use some other measure? Who are the entities who create wealth? (Human beings.) If the cause of wealth is production (“the application of reason to the problem of survival,” in Ayn Rand’s definition), what conditions make it possible? (Individual freedom, including property rights.)

Instead of all this analysis of the nature of the entities involved, all that’s looked at—and all that the conservative can think of to criticize—is relationships, relationships between events. Here now higher GDP numbers and here now cooler temperatures.

You might as well have related the economic growth (government collected) statistics to the average number of termites in each country.

“What is it?” is the question that precedes and informs “How do its statistics compare to these other statistics?”