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Miguel de Cervantes (2) vs. Henry David Thoreau (3); Eddy advances

Yesterday’s best argument came from Zbicyclist:

I suspect the actual Mohammad would be regarded as a heretic by at least some branches is Islam. . . . I’d rather be in an audience with a bunch of radical Christian Scientists than a bunch of radical Islamists.

Good point. Controversy’s ok, but I don’t think I could handle the security arrangements that would be necessary if the Prophet were to be coming to town.

Today’s second-round matchup pits the philosophical storyteller vs. the civil disobedient. This one goes to Quixote by default unless you can persuade me otherwise!

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Steve Reilly says:

    Thoreau. Getting to ask some preachy ur-environmentalist about the time he burned down 300 acres of forest is an opportunity too good to pass up:

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think I met Thoreau. He was the oldest Phd with a pony tail I’ve ever seen working the checkout counter at Barns and Nobels.

  3. jrc says:

    Abstract from Cervantes Talk: “Among males of many species, observable displays of aggression in the form of violence-signalling behavior directed against non-biological objects for the purpose of attracting mates is common (Kong, 1933; Gojira, 1954). I document the first evidence of such violence-signalling behavior in adult humans. 18 subjects, all Errant Knights (sic), were exposed to aggressively turning windmills. Treatment group Knights were exposed while in the presence of holographically projected Damsels, while Control knights were exposed in the presence of holographic Squires. We find statistically significant differences in probability of attacking the windmill (diff = 0.289761; p<.05), forcefulness of attack (diff = 1984.896; p<=.01) and marginally significant difference in probability of post-intervention speechifying (diff = .19884; p 135 words related to the valiantness of the attack in post-intervention debriefing). Our results suggest that attacking non-biological objects is reliably associated with the desire to reproduce, and that male desire for domination, long assumed to be directed solely towards living things, is also targeted at non-biological entities.”

    • Conor says:

      I’m not even going to keep scrolling down, because I know none of the other comments can be as good as this one.

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      A follow up study by Dukes et al (at Insula University) considered the effect of priming. That is, the holographic companion (Squire/Damsel) was made to discuss an abstract topic (Squires/Damsels). Though the original findings could not be reproduced in this context, it is suggested that this is because of an interaction effect. Aeolic aggression was maximized in the Squire/Damsels case (p=0.038), suggesting that Errant Knights are more motivated by reproduction prospects when they are abstract rather than literal. Further study is needed to explore this effect.

  4. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Cervantes on self-delusion, confirmaton bias and Freakonomics argumentation in 16th Century Spain. I like it.

  5. zbicyclist says:

    Windmill Controversy generates >250,000 hits on Google. Cervantes is timely.

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