Gregory Cochran is what you’d call a “hyphen man.” Formerly a physicist, now an anthropologist, with ancillary interests in various other topics, it is said that if you speak a falsehood to a mirror three times, Greg will appear in the reflection and yell at you.
I’ve collected some of his quippage.
[Innumerable uses] “You’re wrong.”
“When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong. Movement conservatives have learned this lesson well.”
“Ron Unz explains that his model took no more than five minutes to produce. I believe him.”
[On the origin of homosexuality] “The Emmdees say that when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. When explaining homosexuality, people think of pterodactyls and unicorns.”
[On the existence of the Kinsey Scale] That would make exactly as much sense as a bell curve of food preferences ranging from steak at the left to granite at the right, in which people in the middle liked steak and rocks equally well. Is an even split between a behavior that works and one that never does what you expect from biology? Do you expect half the geese to fly north for the winter?
“Homosexual men are nature’s Petri dishes”
[On Iraq] “There are now a number of talkative idiots saying that Bush has made a mess of Iraq…I compare this to someone who has had a bad sexual experience with a porcupine and is now trying to decide just where he went wrong. Should he have used Brylcreem on the quills? Should he have sent flowers? Did he ‘come on too strong’?”
“There is no threat out there that can be usefully addressed by a larger ground army. In fact, there’s not much of a short-term threat out there at all. Except the threat from within: crazy people. That one is serious, as always.”
[Later] Many of you seem to think that invading a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 was a reasonable response, just as we always attacked the Navaho or the Cheyenne in response to Comanche attacks. Ah, but we didn’t, because that would have been pointless and incredibly stupid. Nor did we talk as if the redskins were the coming threat to Western Civilization, even though jihadists are actually relatively weaker than Sitting Bull was. […] If accuracy or making sense mattered, I can think of a a few hundred pundits who would be cleaning septic tanks right now.”
“…if Iraq had been about 50 times cheaper, in terms of money and casualties and reputation, I could maybe see someone reasonable arguing that it wasn’t a mistake, or at least wasn’t the stupidest thing this country has ever done. But it wasn’t 50 times cheaper.”
[On the Chelyabinsk meteoroid] “If this meteor had exploded at a lower altitude, it would have smashed that city flat and killed hundreds of thousands of people. How likely that was depends on the details—most meteors are not strong enough to hold together during that kind of re-entry, although some nickel-iron meteors may be. The Tunguska explosion would have utterly destroyed any city it hit. It’s not quite as bad as a nuclear weapon: It would only kill you with fire and blast, rather than fire, blast, and radiation. You’d only die twice—Sean Connery might survive.”
“What’s Arcturus really like? The real Arcturus, not the touristy parts?”