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Comments by dilated_in_disbelief

Go to: How to tell if you’re an atheist

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Thus I find either an expression of belief or disbelief meaningless. You might as well ask do I believe the univere has 57 dimensions. The only conceivable response is......I haven't the faintest idea.

That is a very interesting point. In this sense, to claim atheism requires biting on more than there is to chew. I know some people say that being an atheist is too certain (what Michael Shermer calls hard or strong atheism) to be intellectually honest, but I think the atheism in your sense can entail refusing "concepts regarded or labeled as theistic/deistic because they are incoherent." Hmm, would that require knowing more about what you're against to be able to say that? Could you reject the possibility of the concept given that it doesn't have enough to be plausibly conceived?

Thu, 31 May 2012 01:41:33 UTC | #944684

Go to: Violent anti-science anarchists vow to strike again

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by dilated_in_disbelief

I realize that I made a reference to forced vasectomies, but didn't follow it up with the right quote. Well, that quote is still reflective of the ideas in these ideologies. As for the drastic deaths that would entail an overthrow of industrialized civilization, every time I've heard these people get asked about the human cost, they side-step the question. It makes you wonder how much people take the modern world for granted.

Thu, 31 May 2012 01:22:08 UTC | #944680

Go to: Violent anti-science anarchists vow to strike again

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by dilated_in_disbelief

It's also important to know that these folks really are against industrialized civilization. They think it would be better to live like indigenous tribes. Here is a book that people like these anarchists read:

One of the authors, Derrick Jensen, actually responded to the author of a 2-star review on Amazon. This statement is more about feminism and masculinity, but one of the authors of the books thinks that all men should have vasectomies:

"Men, as a class, beat women, as a class. Women, as a class, do not beat men as a class. yes it happens once in a while, but the overwhelming majority of cross-gender violent crimes are committed by men against women, not the other way around. And the definition of masculinity in this book is not based on innate maleness: there have been plenty of non-patriarchal cultures where masculinity has not been defined as it is in this current patriarchal culture. In this culture masculinity is defined by declaring others (women, children, other races, other cultures, nonhumans, the earth) as inferior, and therefore as violable, and then by violating them. For men under this patriarchy, these acts of violating others are how we become who we are. They validate who we are. They then reaffirm who we are, as through these repeated acts of violation we come to perceive each new violation as reinforcement not only of our superiority over this other we violated but as simply the way things are. Thus the rapes. Thus the violation of every boundary set up by every indigenous culture. Thus the extinctions. Thus the sending of probes to penetrate the deepest folds of the ocean floor. Thus the bombing of the moon."


Wed, 30 May 2012 04:00:22 UTC | #944385

Go to: Violent anti-science anarchists vow to strike again

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by dilated_in_disbelief

You know, there was a time (I was a teenager) when I shared (more like adopted) the same attitude as these anarchists. I used to be a vegan, pseudo-radical environmentalist type who thought that all forms of direct action, like "rescuing" animals from farms or the actions of that specific ELF led by Danial McGowen, were necessary and that much of technology was ruining the world. Same with science. I was also into a lot of existentialist literature and essays by anarcho-primitivist types like John Zerzan, a guy that goes so far as criticize symbolic language and time. I would buy issues of Earth First, print all sorts of pamphlets or old essays by Bakunin and Emma Goldman, visit this nihilist website called Counter Order, and buy books from this collective called CrimeThInc who produced anarchist manifestos like Days of War, Night of Love. I stopped reading that stuff because I went to music school and chose to focus on that instead. Having gone back and read those ideas, wow, it's remarkably laughable. It's amazing what you can believe about something, like science and technology, when you're utterly incurious about it. I have a friend who is into the radical icon Derrick Jensen. This guy recently came out with a book called Dreams where he attempts to take on materialists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. The guy is convinced that anyone that tells him that he isn't having contact with real forest spirits in his dreams has bought into the oppressive myths of scientists working on the behalf of capitalism.

I still read that stuff from time to time. I'm more interested in what led me to think that it made sense and why other people still think it does. I do think something can be learned by reading such different perspectives like that, but I rarely agree with any of it. I also like a good argument. I guess it's similar to Steven Pinker's motivation to write a book like The Blank Slate. He was willing to take on attitudes he didn't have to. Some of my friends are becoming anarchists, so I'm willing to give them my time.

Honestly, the visitors of this site might get a kick of the people like Derrick Jensen and John Zerzan. I recommend looking up their videos. Same with black bloc anarchists. They're an entertaining bunch. Total spontaneous individuals!

Wed, 30 May 2012 02:49:45 UTC | #944362

Go to: Scientific evidence proves why healers see the 'aura' of people

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by dilated_in_disbelief

It almost seems obvious after reading about it. I feel like I should have been able to entertain this as a possibility!

Tue, 15 May 2012 17:21:33 UTC | #941634

Go to: Three articles by Steven Pinker, Russell Blackford and John Gray

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by dilated_in_disbelief

@ Jos Gibbons

Thank you very much for that reply! I'll be reading it again soon. TBAOON is such a great book that I plan on reading it again sometime this year, but I have plenty of other books that will give me an opportunity to apply your methods. I've read about Popper's first book A LOT. It's at my local library, but it seems like the kind of book that is worth owning. I think the book I own that is the most similar to it is David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity. The first chapter is a history of scientific explanations, why some failed, and which ones work now. That chapter blew my mind, honestly. I'm a casual science reader. I don't have any training in anything other than performing music, but as Hitchens once said (I'm paraphrasing), it is worth reading ideas for the sake of it. This thread has been very interesting and I bet I'll read it again as well! Thanks again for your time and effort.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 03:20:56 UTC | #931805

Go to: Three articles by Steven Pinker, Russell Blackford and John Gray

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by dilated_in_disbelief

@ vilenkin

I admit, I was sloppy with my use of "aggregate human knowledge" instead of "statistical aggregate of us." Instead of quoting Jos, I merely came up with my own choice of words based on my memory of what he said, which was inaccurate. You're right to point that out (I'm not being sarcastic). However, Jos' comment 24 is a good response to your claim and I'll just refer you back to that reply instead doing any work myself!

I should have been more clear about what I meant by focusing on Bakunin. I used Bakunin as a guidepost to discuss your point about "...that who is relevant depends on what part of a society you are talking about." In terms of numbers, I think focusing on large statistics that indicate which Enlightenment thinkers had more influence is Pinker's approach, which is being promoted by Jos. Once again, Jos has replied to this in a much better way than I could in comment 24.

As for Pinker's statistical method, I'll let Pinker speak for himself:

"In absolute numbers, of course, civilized societies are matchless in the destruction they have wreaked. But should we look at absolute numbers, or at relative numbers, calculated as a proportion of the populations? The choice confronts us with the moral imponderable of whether it is worse for 50 percent of a population of one hundred to be killed or 1 percent of a population of one billion. In one frame of mind, one could say that a person who is tortured or killed suffers to the same degree regardless of how many other people meet such a fate, so it is the sum of these sufferings that should engage our sympathy and our analytic attention. But in another frame of mind, one could reason that part of the bargain of being alive is that one takes a chance at dying a premature or painful death, be it from violence, accident, or disease. So the number of people in a given time and place who enjoy full lives has to be counted as a moral good, against which we calibrate the moral bad of the number who are victims of violence. Another way of expressing this frame of mind is to ask, "If I were one of the people who were alive in a particular era, what would be the chances that I would be a victim of violence?" The reasoning in this second frame of mind, whether it appeals to the proportion of a population or the risk to an individual, ends in the conclusion that in comparing the harmfulness of violence across societies, we should focus on the rate, rather than the number, of violent acts." - page 47 of TBAOON

@ AtheistEgbert

I can sympathize with the fact that you don't want to read the entirety of Jos' response, but I think it is worth the effort. I had to re-read parts of it and there were a couple of statements that I didn't "completely" understand, but clearly he is working hard to make cogent points. He is also polite, which you seem to disagree with. You haven't cited the personal attacks he allegedly made, nor have I experienced them while reading every single letter he has posted. I really respect both vilenkin's and your posts, especially since I don't have knowledge to refute Pinker's thesis. I made sure to read every review of TBAOON while I read it, and only Snyder offered a reasonable rebuttal. I can't get behind Gray's review. He seems like (beware of my desire to read minds) he wants to do his best to disagree with Pinker, so he comes up with uninteresting contradictory statements (Jos has gone through them). Perhaps Gray needs to retain his hold in the marketplace of ideas and needs the same people who bought Straw Dogs to come back for more, but I find his reviews and articles to be tiresome at this point, especially when he repeats statements he made a decade ago. That is a slightly tangential statement, but it reflects how unexcited many people are about Gray's ideas. I admit, he is very provocative and intelligent. Straw Dogs is a good book, but when I read Gray now it's for the purpose of comprehending a counter argument to ideas I identify with, even if he misrepresents them.

@ Jos Gibbons

I appreciate the amount of work you're putting into this discussion. I read TBAOON, yet I don't think I could tackle a review like Gray's or Snyder's to the degree you can. Perhaps you can give me some tips on studying, summarizing, and understanding a thesis in a book like TBAOON, or good methods for retaining the information. A year and a half ago I made my first discussion post on RFD asking visitors to the site for advice on how to go about learning science and which subjects would be interesting. I'm still a novice and expect to be one for a long time, but I need to be able to accurately represent the ideas in a book I read. Any advice would be incredibly helpful!

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 19:43:03 UTC | #931212

Go to: Three articles by Steven Pinker, Russell Blackford and John Gray

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by dilated_in_disbelief

@ Jos

I've read this entire discussion so far, and though I can't competently engage in a conversation about memes or information theory (I would have to sit and listen/read), I have no dispute with your methods. The way I see it, you refuted Gray's conception of memes and provided a more coherent conception of memes, which vilenkin thinks you didn't do. What I mean by refuting is that you actually provided a definition that doesn't include one's disapproval of the theory, which is all that Gray's is. I can't understand why vilenkin thinks that you're misrepresenting Gray, seeing as you outlined Gray's view perfectly in your first refutation and then offered your view. There appears to be a difference of opinion over memes, and while I would need a more erudite explanation of how memes supposedly "work" in order for me to understand the nature of this argument between the two of you, I don't think it would validate Gray's review more if his position on memes proved to be correct. It has almost nothing to do with what Pinker is talking about.

As for vilenkin providing a justification for why an intellectual like Bakunin is relevant (for the purpose of demonstrating that Gray's view of the historical influence of disparate thinkers from the Enlightenment is valid), it doesn't make your idea of aggregate human knowledge (and which thinkers from the Enlightenment has had the most influence on it) as it currently stands invalid. Vilenkin could only offer anarchists as an example of where Bakunin has influence. Anarchists hardly compete with the majority of intellectual development and influence in the last century, and that's before you get into the varying types of anarchists.

In regards to Synder's review, it is definitely the best critical one I read during my reading of TBAOON, but it doesn't necessarily refute Pinker's entire thesis. Snyder provides interesting examples from the WW2 period that conflict with Pinker's analysis of the power distribution law and social conditions that fostered totalitarianism, but it merely made me desire a more thorough analysis of that period. Prior to that, he makes a case against Pinker's statistical method, which avoids the other side of Pinker's method, which is that in a society where less people are affected violently, more people ARE NOT. Snyder also misrepresents Pinker by suggesting that Pinker's alleged libertarianism is affecting the hypothesis. I don't know if Pinker is a political libertarian, but he is documenting a historical trend that he would likely support even if he wasn't a political libertarian, seeing as he is demonstrably apolitical throughout the book.

The dispute the two of you are having isn't really about the overall accuracy of Gray's review. If anything, it's a distraction from the real essence of Gray's review. You're charitably taking on vilenkin's claims, but perhaps it would be better to ask vilenkin to focus on what the review is really about instead of focusing on minor disagreements. Although, vilenkin is taking Gray's side, arguing for at least two views proposed by Gray (anti-meme and the historical influence of many Enlightenment thinkers, even ones that had influence near the end of the 19th century).

I find Gray to be very interesting, but ultimately a professional contrarian that misrepresents the people he criticizes. I read his book Straw Dogs and was fairly disappointed by it. Anybody who claims that atheists aren't atheists because the very name refutes itself is desperate, to say the least.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 04:14:29 UTC | #931108

Go to: Science and cinema

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by dilated_in_disbelief

I'm really glad this subject was brought up because this is something I have thought about a lot. Of course, there are plenty of films where scientists are depicted as good guys, but I think it depends on the subject matter or the kind of story (someone mentioned "idiot plots" above). The mad-scientist or arrogant and ambitious scientist have been characters in the cautionary tales of sci-fi and horror films. This was depicted most recently in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which dealt with human nature, biology, and experimentation of sentient beings like apes. Fears about the future or misuse of technology and science are completely understandable to me, as long as the issue is framed towards promoting helpful and ethical science and not anti-science (that is bias on my part). When it comes to science fiction literature, the majority of sci-fi (or SF) writers seem to love science. Michael Crichton was an obvious supporter of science and his stories were about "WHEN SCIENCE GOES WRONG." Every book about cyberspace that William Gibson wrote reveled in the possibilities of "the Net," maybe even the negative ones. As J.G. Ballard wrote about the fusion of humanity and the automobile in his novel Crash, he seemed to be perversely supportive of it, but much of his later work comes off as slightly postmodern and treats industrialization and materialism (or consumerism) as a dehumanizing process, which is an idea that philosophers like John Gray are very supportive of (and myself, to an extent).

I think a lot of negative attitudes towards science in cinema may have roots in Existentialism and run-of-the-mill spirituality that responded to industrialization, capitalism, and the diminishing importance of religion in culture during the twentieth century. Art and literature also reflected this.

The first example of cinema that pops into my head is the French film Eyes Without A Face (1960). It is about a doctor who kidnaps young women for the purpose of transplanting their face to his daughter's face, which was disfigured in an accident. He is a very ruthless, calculating, and cold individual (but not so cold as to not be driven insane by his emotional response to what happened to his daughter) and makes statements like "I like order," which is obviously meant to be a bad thing in the film.

Another example is Kafka, which is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Jeremy Irons as the title character. In the third act (spoiler) Kafka enters the elusive castle and meets doctors who are experimenting in the social engineering of the most efficient individual. To me, this is trademark existentialism and reflects the fears of a changing world that could lead to alienation and an absence of spiritual support in an industrialized, "ordered" society. It seemed to support a view of science as a force to strip the individual of their "soul." After watching the film, I felt as if this view of the world is rather dated. The world has changed since then. There are major economic problems facing the world today, but there have been many positive economic and technological changes that have occurred since Kafka's novels were published. As someone mentioned earlier, Soderbergh recently directed the film Contagion, which depicted a global epidemic in a very rational, logical, fair, and hopeful way. It even made conspiracy theorists look bad! That made me very happy.

Antichrist, directed by Lars Von Trier, has Willem Dafoe as a psychologist attempting to help his wife deal with the trauma of losing their son, but inevitably his desire for a rational explanation leads him into "hell."

My favorite films that deal with science and technology are usually somewhat surrealistic and hallucinatory. I nearly worshipped the cinema of David Cronenberg and identified with the characters in his films, especially Max Renn in Videodrome (I'm not exactly a voyeur, but I've been a "viewer" of dark art and entertainment my entire life). Cronenberg is a bit ambiguous and even ambivalent about whether or not he supports the science in his films. He actually reminds of J.G. Ballard, which is no surprise, considering that he adapted the novel Crash into a feature-length film (one of my favorites). He studied as a biochemist, then switched to literature as his major. He is from Toronto and describes himself as an atheist and existentialist. This might be unfortunate for some people that visit this site, but he also describes himself as a wishy-washy liberal who reads post-structuralist theory. He recently directed A Dangerous Method, a historical drama about Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. I don't think the film takes a position on which psychoanalyst had the more accurate view, but it's based on the "historical" record, and Jung appears to be a bit of a hypocrite and intellectually compromised by his spiritual beliefs. I guess all of this is meant to be an example of an existentialist view via cinema that is neither positive or negative. Cronenberg lets the viewer decide what is good or bad.

I hope this offers something to the conversation. I just realized I might be rambling, but I will say something else. The most common description of science that I've encountered from people who don't totally respect it, whether it is in film, art, or in regular conversations, is that it is "cold and sterile." Many of these people are also far leftists. Not liberals, but lefties. I think some of the refuse of the leftist intellectual tradition that developed during the mid-twentieth century and on, some of it inspired by Existentialism, has been discussed many times on this site and currently in books by authors like Sam Harris. To some of these leftists, science is just a destructive tool of capitalism. Has anyone ever read the work of anarcho-primitivist literature, like Derrick Jensen? This man is positively against science and has some of the nastiest, slanderous, and most incurious statements that one could possibly make about scientists. Anyway, there may be left-leaning filmmakers that are inspired by "intellectuals" of this kind.

I think the best statement made in this thread is that cinema is usually anti-authoritarian. Science may be the one form of authority we should trust, but that doesn't matter to people who are obsessed with making "think for yourself" look like the thoughtless defiance of teenagers. Someone else said that people who don't know that much about science will still write about it in films. Clearly, a lack of understanding doesn't always get in the way of a confidence.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 05:02:56 UTC | #919480

Go to: Has religion made the world less safe?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by dilated_in_disbelief

Unfortunately, the fact that this article was adapted from Pinker's recent book will be lost on everyone. I hate to use a retort commonly expressed by those who subscribe to one of many religious belief systems, but Pinker's words have been taken out of context. His book is on violence, so he is giving his response to the question what role has religion played in regards to violence. His intention wasn't aimed at analyzing all the varying ways religion affects the world positively or negatively (hi Steve Zara). Having read the book, I can also say that this article might seem like a generalization to some (hi Schrodinger's Cat), but that's because it wasn't meant for an article on just one issue. Pinker had to fit this part of his thesis into a 700-page book that many people will never read. He brings up religion throughout the book before he arrives at the point of the adapted article. He "paints a larger picture" throughout the entirety of the book.

SleeveDagger, just read the book. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 06:30:10 UTC | #903217

Go to: Islam, Charles Darwin and the denial of science

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by dilated_in_disbelief

I just read this article. It seems relevant.

"Should We Challenge Student Beliefs?" by Peter Boghossian

"A teacher is obligated to use cognitive dissonance to inspire students to shape a more reliable picture of reality that informs their sense of cause and effect.

The alternative would be mass customization of teaching in a way that supports only the beliefs each student brings to our classrooms. Such a regime would leave many students in the dark, believing knowledge need not be based on facts. Bridges would collapse. Those inclined to escape their ignorance might not believe it important enough to do so."

I'm sure many will disagree with one or two of the premises in this article, but it's worth the read.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 20:40:47 UTC | #896573

Go to: Islam, Charles Darwin and the denial of science

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 5 by drumdaddy :

Support networks are needed to help the brainwashed to bridge the gap to reality, thereby affording them full, productive and satisfying lives. If they are bright enough to pursue science then we can't just let them fail because they were intellectually abused as children.

And they say that you need religion to care about others. Job well done, drumdaddy.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 20:09:07 UTC | #896561

Go to: Human Nature’s Pathologist

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by dilated_in_disbelief

I find this book to be immensely enjoyable. It's rare to find a book that deals with such dark, dreary, horrifying subject matter but then demonstrates why there is much to hope for or be happy about. What it doesn't do is try to paint a rosy picture of the future, but by taking historical progress into consideration it makes me think about what can be done NOW to make our lives and everyone else's better. It is one of those books that inspires me to think. I'm very new to a life of reading science publications routinely, so maybe this inspiration of mine has more to do with my lack of knowledge. It has much to do with the vision of the book too.

Pinker seems like a very logical person to me. He knows how to frame a topic, idea, point, etc., remind you of important details later on in the analysis, and anticipates criticisms. He even points to problems with certain bits of data, but not that kind that damage his thesis in any significant way. It is truly a breathtaking work. There are so many fields of science and inquiry employed to understand what has and may have contributed to a decline in violence. I'm almost finished with the book, but I have to finish the chapter on the psychology of "Better Angels," the psychological mechanisms of self-control, restraint, moralizing, etc. The previous chapter, "Inner Demons," was mind-blowing. Of spent a lot of my life thinking about violence, bad intentions, the psychology of sadism, so I found it to be riveting.

I like that people offer questions or rebuttals to Pinker's thesis, especially since there is no way a person can get a comprehensive understanding of it without reading the whole damn book. However, I recommend that people to lax their filters or blinders that make optimism IMPOSSIBLE and give this book a chance. There are dozens of reviews, interviews, and lectures with Pinker popping up at the moment. If you can't get around to the book look up one of those. There is a lecture/discussion/Q&A at Intelligence2 with Matt Ridley asking Pinker questions that is thoroughly stimulating even after reading the thesis several times over. Check out all reviews from Peter Singer's positive reaction to John Gray's expectedly negative reaction. What people need to avoid is this line of thinking that never fails to show itself: that current acts of violence, force, suppression, violations of rights, etc., can't be reconciled with the thesis. One has to appreciate the gradients towards success and degrees of good and bad behavior to understand that this idea of violence being reduced over time is far more nuanced than people want it to be.

Give it a chance!

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 01:14:37 UTC | #894264

Go to: Tired of arguing with friends and family

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by dilated_in_disbelief

Hey Daniel

Many good points have been made in this discussion. However, I'm guilty of thinking that everything I say is important, so I insist that you read this self-indulgent post of mine. Here are several approaches to a debate that should be utilized:

1.) Ask a lot of questions and listen as much as possible. If you make someone feel or think that you're listening to them rather than making them listen to you, they will relax and feel more comfortable because the level of conflict, real or perceived, has lessened. Also, sometimes it is better to help someone else prove that THEY are wrong rather than proving that you are right. When someone's mental barriers have fallen down due to weak architecture, the floodgates open and your kick ass rationality may sway them like Patti Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Joking aside, working the argument to where your opponent is doing more to take a stand can be good because many people think there's something wrong with having an opinion, as long as someone else is saying it. Heck, I would even say some people are afraid of knowledge. I know far too many people that won't hasten to say "Well, that's your opinion" or "It's all relative" or "You're just as dogmatic as the rest." Many people have been convinced that arguing is only a competition, that having or stating values makes you a strident absolutist akin to a religious fundamentalist, and that we arrived at the point we're at in humanity not because of conflict and working to reconcile our differences but because life works out wonderfully ALL THE TIME as long as people shut up. Such people probably copied the answers for their history quiz as they peaked over your shoulders.

People don't like tension, discomfort, being challenged, or changing their mind. The truth is most people don't have a nuance, reasoned, erudite understanding of many of the things they believe in. When someone else does, they either have to concede to the points being made or engage in all the varieties of denial. Obviously, "there's no way to discuss with you" because the person that is accusing you of this can only be correct. However, people can adapt. Always assume that possibility. That's why you're debating, right?

2.) Be polite, calm, and slightly deferential. This takes self reflection. Are you actually nice, calm in tone, and considerate of what others are saying? Your sense of self might be telling you this against reality. The affirmations demanded of your ego might be telling you that you're being more respectful than you really are. Most people think of an argument in a tone/decibel sense; arguing is a heated exchange. If you argue in the same tone as you would when you're forcing yourself to say something nice about your girlfriend's horrendous home-cooked meal ("Wow, that's delicious honey" becomes "Well, maybe a velociraptor could coexist with a human, but..."), then the way you communicate your points might have the equivalent effect that a well reasoned statement should ideally have. If you're arguing with someone who believes in something due to consolation content, confirmation bias, or group-think, you have to speak as if you're speaking to that kind of person. This is why rhetoric is important. I was recently complimented for my rhetoric in a political debate. I said I read too much Christopher Hitchens.

3.) Be as logical as possible. You need to justify your beliefs. You need to be able to demonstrate how you get from one point to the next. Part of being logical also requires that you understand language. Having an extensive, but appropriately used, vocabulary will ensure that you make precise and coherent statements. Plus, you need to know why and when you make sense. I have a friend who is convinced that he slaughters people in debates, but I know that he is dodgy, evasive, uninformed, and didn't comprehend the books of classical antiquity that he claims to have read. You don't want to be that guy. If you're logical, you'll also decimate any shameless relativist or nihilist who decides that nothing can be known when they have to explain their views. Many people do this without realizing it. I come across it all the time because I know more "artistic" people rather than "scientific" people.

Most people don't know exactly what they're saying. Many people think patently disparate statements are actually the same. I've listened to, and read online, conversations that could not have been conducted by people who knew what the other person was saying. It's mind boggling what you can come across when lurking in on someone else's conversation. Non-sequiturs run amok, misinterpretations are in surplus, excessively simplistic language devalues the subject, and the need to agree allows people to forget that they were even arguing in the first place. If you truly understand a subject and master the tools used to learn/communicate it (language), then you will have the upper hand over someone who is noticeably under-skilled.

4.) Use humor. Many people don't pay attention to what's important because the important things aren't fun to think about. Really, how GOOD does it feel to think about the state of the euro? Are you skipping through a field of flowers as you declaim the fallacies in the plan to help Greece avoid default? Maybe if you're insanely ironic, but most people don't desire to have that kind of grip on reality. The Daily Show is successful because people are laughing as they're learning about politics. Politics isn't supposed to be funny. I'm disgustingly serious about politics, which is why I almost never watch The Daily Show. But I'm weird and always an exception, so I can't speak for others. If you can make a joke, even make fun of yourself or others you agree with, your opponent might be more accepting or even agree with what you're saying. "Wow, had I known atheism was so funny I wouldn't have carried out my daily self-flagellation at church! Laughing is so much more fun than carrying out divinely approved self-inflicted wounds!" This should be one of many desired results from debating.

5.) Don't give up or shut up. Seriously. It's one thing to manipulate conversations to talk about what you want to talk about, but it's another thing to say nothing when everyone else is equally engaged in an intellectual conversation. Don't MAKE people debate with you or insert your priorities in conversations where they aren't warranted. However, when bullshit is abundant you must destroy it. It's a social service, really. In Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami, there is this wonderful theme about responsibility. The idea is that if you can imagine something, you must take responsibility for it. That idea was first expressed in a history book that narrator was reading about Adolf Eichmann, so you can see why that idea is important.

Speaking your mind can change other people's minds, for better or worse. If you lose a friend over your beliefs, well, maybe they were never your friend in the first place. Maybe their idea of friendship isn't your idea of friendship. I like to think that I can scream at a friend that fertilized eggs aren't as human as an adult human while they scream that I'm immoral for not agreeing with the new Personhood Movement in Mississippi, but then we can go to a bar and get plastered over a giant pizza. If you never find yourself doing something like this after a debate with a friend, then make sure they get plastered and take the pizza for yourself. Really, what else can you do?

Again, don't shut up. When you do, you're like the atheist everyone wants you to be. When you're sick and tired of being expected to shut up and choose to speak your mind instead, you become an evangelical atheist in the eyes of everyone else. Most people don't want to see that you've found your spine because they don't want to admit they don't have one. Stay strong, be reasonable, and speak up because that is the kind of voice that changes the world. What if Voltaire hadn't been the Voltaire that we still read to this day? What if Socrates chose to plead innocent? Well, I'd probably be clubbing you over the head. We must take part in the civilizing process instead of acting like it's not happening.

6.) Listen to what I'm saying. That's the most important key to success. Nobody follows it yet, and that's why I'm posting at RFD and they're not. Cheers!

Tue, 25 Oct 2011 04:38:47 UTC | #883856

Go to: September 11, 2011

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 110 by dilated_in_disbelief

Fellow atheists, when we talk about Stalin, or Hitler, or any other FASCIST TYRANT, can we please place the EMPHASIS on the right factors of history? Stalin may have been an atheist, but he was also a tyrannical leader of a communism. He signed death warrants every evening. When people, religious or not, try to cast blame on these figures of the past for not being religious, tell them that their point isn't that important when you take into account what Stalin was ACTUALLY about. Sam Harris didn't quite make this same error in the above essay, but he didn't say much to make it seem like he wasn't making that same mistake. In "Letter to a Christian Nation" he did make this distinction, however.

Sun, 11 Sep 2011 09:42:57 UTC | #869307

Go to: Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 4 by msbav8r :

Yet, the exponential growth of government and the absolute destruction of the economy, by it's insatiable appetite for taxpayer money and incestuous relationships that foster the very conditions you mention, is never brought up by those who laud Marx.

The domination of large companies, is SOLELY the result of bribery of elected officials, who trade favorable tax code and legislation for campaign contributions.

The big difference between the government and the corporations is that corporations don't have the power to deprive you of liberty and freedom if you don't purchase their products.

Remember, corporations can't affect laws without corrupt, complicit politicians.

Hey, how are you doing? I want to be polite at the onset.

It is obvious that the government AND the market played a role in the destruction of the global economy, which naturally affected the United States economy. To get more specific, investment firms and specific companies, who "play" in the market, had a major influence. The government definitely has an appetite for taxpayer's dollars. However, some people have a lower tax percentage than their secretaries. Obviously not everyone is getting the bad end of the tax deal, and those people who aren't have support from the corporate world for remarkably noticeable reasons. Don't forget that limited regulations of a free-market play a role in the power of corporations (Some people don't think there are enough regulations, some think there are too many). Legal legislature by lobbyists happens to influence nicely as well. There are more lobbyists for corporate autonomy than any other issue or special interest group. Candidates only stand a chance at successfully getting their voice heard with contributions from the ultra-wealthy and those who work in corporations.

Considering how many jobs have been lost in the government and how much defense-related work is outsourced to corporations, I doubt there has been an exponential growth in the United States government recently. We may have different definitions of "government," although the United States government has pretty much expanded under every president over the last fifty years, especially under Bush Jr., if I remember correctly.

The bizarre reasoning that corporate domination is only due to the bribing politicians is a patent dismissal of what you've implicated; the ill intentions of those who seek to bribe. It's okay, it turns out there are a few more bad guys than you originally thought. However, they want you to point the finger in only one direction.

Corporations may not take away freedom but they certainly don't provide it. They limit what you can read, watch, eat, use, etc. They limit your options. The freedom then comes from being able to seek out an alternative, but not everyone knows of that possibility.

There's a lot of frustration on all sides these days and the truth is we're all mad at the same people. I'm trying to learn more about our problems every day and, not to sound like a "hippy," I honestly hope more people can come together and agree on a reasonable way to fix our dire situation.

Sun, 21 Aug 2011 07:43:56 UTC | #862919

Go to: God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by dilated_in_disbelief

Well, at least this thread took an interesting turn! It's nice to see a "science" website branch off into other topics. I appreciate the thoughtful words on libertarianism. I'm glad I brought up Shermer. Others have wonderfully explained the difference between him and Penn and how that reflects a deeper difference in libertarian ideology/philosophy. Cool!

Wed, 10 Aug 2011 04:08:57 UTC | #859567

Go to: God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by dilated_in_disbelief

Penn's libertarianism is mentioned a lot in these comments. Given what your average libertarian thinks about reciprocal altruism, including the ones who admire Ayn Rand (I've read that she said she wasn't a libertarian, but she seemed damn close to one!), that view may be in conflict with evolution and natural selection. Most of what I read about evolution and natural selection seems to promote the idea of reciprocal altruism playing a role in the development of society and morality, most of all the survival of a species. However, Michael Shermer is also a libertarian and he has written extensively on how a Darwinian, or evolution based, view of life affirms libertarian views, or at least a libertarian view of the marketplace and economy.

I do have a superficial understanding of Shermer's work, so if I've missed the point I apologize.

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 04:34:03 UTC | #859319

Go to: The WTF Fallacy, and others

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 75 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 58 by Cartomancer

Thanks for the reply, Cartomancer. I appreciate your points as well as the experience you've had that you're willing to share. However, I do have some things so say about what you've said. I'm going to quote the things you've said in such a way that will help me deliver my points.

As someone who has been as yet unrequitedly in love for the last ten years, I can tell you now that this is a pernicious misunderstanding of the situation.

Telling people to move on or find someone else is implicitly insulting and belittling. It implies that their love is not special or important or central to who they are. It implies that it could be altered or swapped or changed without consequence. It implies that their love does not matter, simply because it is as yet unrequited, where that of those who, by sheerest dint of circumstance, have by this point got their love requited, is better, more special, more important and more worthy of praise. In effect, you are demeaning the most important thing about that person, the most intimate, personal and special thing they have. You are telling them that others are more deserving of respect and admiration than they are. If the one doing this admonishing is themself in a requited relationship, the insult is doubly apparent, and doubly personal.

We share something in common: The role of love in my life, independent of love from family and friends, has been solely unrequited. There has only ever been one person that I've ever truly loved. I know how much it hurts, I understand the struggle. I also lived with this person and was in constant pain and agony over the way I felt and how it complicated matters. At times I even felt creepy, but the person I loved (and still think about every night) had many admirable qualities, like not being too judgmental. She was willing to overlook some of the things I did because we had a good friendship.

I can honestly say that whenever I talked to other people about this and they made the kind of suggestions that I made I my fallacy, whenever I did express the SAME KIND of feeling you have expressed to me, upon reflection I felt it was rather deceitful and self-centered. Deceitful, in the sense that I was deceiving myself because I didn't want to face up to the fact that it was more likely that the person I loved would never feel the same way about me. 'Self-centered' because I only cared about the way that I felt instead of the way she felt or cared more about my ideas than my friends. I honestly feel that love is one or the most powerful, yet irrational and selfish forces around. When love is mutual and understood, it can be selfless, but the build-up to it, especially when we're at a young age an without experience, is remarkably selfish.

I think you're doing a whole lot of projecting, and possibly as a defense mechanism. Believe it or not, when people do offer advice on what to do in a situation like the one I included in my fallacy, it's not because they don't care or are belittling. It's because they do care about the way that you feel. You cannot expect everyone to deify your feelings to the extent that you do. People offer this kind of advice because they have the experience and know what it is like. They understand how hard it is and what has to be done to overcome it or live with it.

For example, when my father passed away, I talked to my grandpa about it and he said, "I'm sorry to hear that he died. It's tough, but you have to move on." That was the very first thing, and only thing, he said. I hated it. I wanted him to respect my suffering in a way that I wanted him to. I had so much pride behind my mourning because I felt that as a son it was required that I feel the way I did. Of course, it wasn't a choice to feel as awful as I did. It's expected. But his advice helped me more than anyone else's. It made sense. My grandpa has since passed and when I first heard about it, I remembered his advice. I was still sad, but I felt I had a better understanding of how to deal with such a situation while being able to feel the profound sadness that comes from loss and witnessing the fragility of life.

I am in no way suggesting that the love someone feels does not matter, or that it can easily be changed, or that a person feeling that way doesn't deserve respect(that is a truly bizarre claim), or that it is demeaning to give them that kind of advice. The error here is thinking that anything is demeaning as long as it doesn't affirm the foundations for the way a person thinks or feels. In your experience this love may be on a pedestal, and everyone else can empathize, but you cannot expect people justify everything that you do. I'd say you're problem is pride, perhaps the kind of pride the comes from obstinate tenacity. The refusal, or inability(as you seem to suggest), to accept the possibility of change can foster the farthest reaching justifications imaginable.

And it also implies that there COULD be someone else who could ever mean as much to them as their true love does. Very often there could not be. Very often a person will have realised that there simply is nobody else for them. I know this is the case for me, because I know that I love people who represent the happiness, stability and joy of the golden age in my past when I was happy. Since there is nobody else from that period but my beloved who is of the appropriate sexual orientation, I know categorically that there will never be anyone else for me. Five years of desperate failed attempts to find such a person have ended in complete failure, and I have come to realise that this is because there cannot be anyone else.

You seem to be misinterpreting what is meant by 'could'. 'Could' indicates a possibility, not a guarantee. This leaves room for the idea that just as there is a possibility for something to happen, it is also possible that it may not. You're assertion that "very often there could not be" is inextricably linked with this kind of statement. Even then, what's to say you simply don't want there to be someone else? Our experiences leave an indelible mark that can define us forever. It's possible that we can be defined by a feeling of fleeting love or love never attained. I have to wonder though; if there can never be anyone else to love but the person that won't return your love, what can you expect out of such a life? I'm not suggesting that such a feeling can be turned off, undermined, ignored, or repressed. I'm suggesting that a person has to change the way they choose to live with such a feeling if it is going to persist. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and I think it is almost disingenuous to suggest that giving this kind of advice is insulting. I say disingenuous because I'm granting the idea that you're far more experienced in life than I am, and with the kind of knowledge you undoubtedly have from varying experiences, you might not be willing to treat this part of your life in a way that you may treat others.

I truly believe that many people, such as the kind I have befriended, are addicted to self-inflicted neurosis. I know many self-destructive romantics. I can understand where they come from. I read plenty of Haruki Murakami and have watched plenty of Wong Kar-Wai films because I understand the feeling of perpetual dissatisfaction. Sometimes I think I'm just young and dumb(I'm not the overly self-congratulatory type). I understand that attraction is uncontrollable and can completely take over your identity. I have to say that you might be exalting your experience to such a point that you think your perception of it may be the definitive way of looking at it. Maybe not so literally as that, but you seem to treat it that way in the face of opposing perceptions.

I don't know how old you are or what kind of life you've lived, but I know you know that life changes us and paradigm shifts are always a possibility. How can you be so sure that there may not be a new person for you to love in the future? There is no way one can guarantee such a thing, no matter how confident you are. This goes back to my idea that perhaps you don't want there to be the possibility that someone else can be the object of your unrequited attraction.

So I have no choice but to wait until circumstances change. When they do, and my beloved is no longer in a relationship with a usurper, I will have my chance at happiness. Until then I must cope with the realities of being denied the one person who will make my life complete. And it does not help in this task when insensitive people like you come along and, rather than offering supportive messages like "don't worry, things will change in time, he'll be there for you one day", they insult and belittle you with "move on, your deepest longings and desires, what makes you the person you are, those are worthless. Cope with the world in the way I prescribe. Do not cope in the way you think is best. I know what's best for you."

There is nothing insensitive about giving informed advice on a situation when you understand the position someone else is in. The problem is that you only want a certain kind of advice. The advice may be directed personally, but you take it FAR TOO personally. I don't want to be sarcastic or rude, but I suggest that you reflect on they way you feel in this case and ask yourself whether you're truly justified in feeling this way. This isn't to say that feelings require justification. I treat feelings as ends in themselves, as something to cherish, as something to value regardless of how it came about, but to me a person has to wonder whether such a feeling is productive and whether or not they have to imprison themselves to it.

Remember what 'could' happen? He could be there for you one day. He also could not be there for you. If that happens, what are you going to do? What if this person dies? Are you going to continue thinking that there is only one person for you to love even after they've 'left' this world?

What these people are telling you is "you haven't a clue what's going on here. Stop hurting me with your misguided and malicious attempts to interfere". Except most of them are probably trying to be a lot more diplomatic about it that I have ever felt the need to be.

Once again, this is projection and, to me, reflective of a staunch refusal to accept the fact that things may not turn out the way that you want them to. I think you may in fact be guilty of the very fallacy that I propounded. No offense. I'm not belittling your sincerity, but I've been in a similar situation as yours. I am going to suggest that you're being more demeaning and insulting in thinking that someone couldn't give the kind of advice I would suggest to give if they had experienced what you have experienced.

Unrequited love hurts. But it does not hurt nearly as much as having the people who are supposed to be your friends choosing not to support and comfort you, but instead trying to make you feel pathetic and wrong for loving the person you do, and waiting for such time as the two of you can finally be together.

Yes, the perfect world that we want inspires much pain and suffering in light of its absence, especially when our friends try to help us understand that this imperfection. I don't know what you're friends have told you. Maybe you have had your friends tell you such over-simplistic things as, "Get over it," or, "Go out and meet someone new! It'll be easy!" If someone has given you mindful and empathetic advice and you still respond this way, I would take a look at yourself and ask whether or not you're even willing to accept advice.

Once again, I appreciate your response and your views. I hope I represented my motivation for the fallacy I've propounded.

Mon, 27 Jun 2011 21:35:10 UTC | #843569

Go to: The WTF Fallacy, and others

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by dilated_in_disbelief

I'm going to give this a shot.

The most common fallacy I come across is this:

  1. X is false because it is negative.

By negative, I mean it has a negative connotation. Mothers are the most common perpetrators of this one. It presupposes that all truth claims have to be congruent with the perpetrator's sense of what makes him/her feel good. The conclusion that the perp arrives to is that 'x isn't true because I don't like it'. Mothers aren't the only ones who are guilty for using this. People who are hopelessly in love are susceptible to such fallacious thinking. This kind of individual will tell you everything about a person they're in love with, but that the love will most likely never be shared due to the circumstances. The moment you suggest that they should move on or at the very least get used to the fact that they will never be together, they say, "Oh, but that's negative!" In which case, you hand them some tissues, walk away, and leave them in their agony over unrequited love.

I think the other one that I've heard the most comes from the residual effects of crude or unsophisticated (I'm being fair with that one) post-modernism or relativism in pop culture, especially from the west coast of the United States:

  1. X is false because you cannot prove anything, and you cannot prove anything because anything can be true.

(Are these two fallacies? Is is alright that I have coupled them together as one? You know, one plus one equals one?!)

Now, I don't doubt that there have been serious philosophical inquiries into the nature of reason, mind, and knowledge, or that we run into problems when we start thinking about 'truth'. Language, consciousness, and the belief-structuring aspects of the mind most certainly present us with a possible lack of confidence over what we can truly know. I say this as a lay person who has only dabbled in introductory philosophy and doesn't haven't the expertise or know-how to be able to demonstrate that something is incontrovertibly true. However, with the above fallacy, I think that the people who use this have less reasons to think that this proposition is true than I would in the contrary position. Usually, this fallacy is used as a cop-out. Whenever a person is put to the task of explaining their views, this is the default position they resort to. It is done to absolve themselves of the responsibility of having to justify their nonsense, or 'fashionable nonsense'(that one is for the strident anti-relativists out there!). Perhaps the fallacy is different in light of the intention of the individual who would use this. However, this isn't their only method of refusal. This kind of thinking usually leads to an embarrassing use of logic which I call 'ill-logic', which is the use of logic to undermine logic or any reasonable ideas. This is usually done by a person who cannot handle being wrong or who is simply being an evangelical contrarian. In light of all of this, to be redundant, the fallacy might lie elsewhere, but it is all interconnected, to use another phrase by the usual abuser of 'ill-logic'.

I'm sure these fallacies(at least my idea of a fallacy) have been dealt with elsewhere and are from from new, but I felt like contributing!

Mon, 27 Jun 2011 05:17:38 UTC | #843264

Go to: Science and Philosophy

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by dilated_in_disbelief

I think that philosophy will never die because of the sheer fact that all human beings that will ever exist will have to ask questions they've never asked. Just because a bunch of professionals fine tune the use of our language and reasoning to get to the "big answers" doesn't mean that simple layman like myself will ever not have a need for it. I'd rather someone try to figure out why something is true or logically sound than be told at the onset of their education what is true or logically sound. Imagine a person who has never dabbled in serious philosophy, runs into Hawkings quote, takes it rather literally (there seems to be a disparity on what he truly meant by it), and then never even considers the works of all the various intellectual geniuses that have ever existed. Of course, that is their choice.

Sorry if all of that comes of as trite and banal, but I think it's a simple truth.

Sun, 15 May 2011 19:03:53 UTC | #627132

Go to: [Update-YouTube] The Big Questions - Series 4 - Is the Bible Still Relevant?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 174 by RomeStu

If you actually think about the statement, it is pretty harsh really - no forgiveness without cost. What of human (or divine???) kindness? Why must forgiveness have a price? The more I think about it, the more I dislike the statement and the fact that the bishop got off the hook lightly on that one.

Not only that, it seems to contradict everything we hear about the concept of forgiveness according to the Christian perspective. I have always been told that Jesus forgave for the sake of it and that everyone should forgive in the same way. The bishop makes it sound like God forgave unforgivingly. Naturally, this man was applauded for that statement. I'm surprised no other Christian in that room picked up on this, unless of course my interpretation of their idea of forgiveness was never part of their values in the first place.

Not that it matters completely, but the word "unforgivingly," as it appears on here, has the markings of a misspelled word in my comment box, but it is spelled that way in my dictionary. I don't understand the discrepancy. Oh well.

Tue, 10 May 2011 02:32:10 UTC | #625191

Go to: [Update-YouTube] The Big Questions - Series 4 - Is the Bible Still Relevant?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 136 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 133 by dilated_in_disbelief

"I might be an atheist, and I agree with Richard Dawkins on many points, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone who was watching this video, someone WHO HAS never thought about their source of the morality..."

Just thought I'd make a correction. For some reason I can't edit by the usual means.

Mon, 09 May 2011 09:20:01 UTC | #624825

Go to: [Update-YouTube] The Big Questions - Series 4 - Is the Bible Still Relevant?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 133 by dilated_in_disbelief

The impression that I got from this episode was that this particular discussion is going to be happening for a very long time. I'm sure we can all find holes in the theist's arguments and logically demonstrate what could be wrong, but a lot of the time I didn't find everything that was said from the theist standpoint to be entirely unreasonable. By that I mean that the positions, or stance, that the people took are reasonable, but whether they were reasonable in regards to how those positions interpret the Holy Bible could be an altogether different story. It seems like any vantage point can be used to make any statement work. For example, when the Jewish woman talked about the first couple of commandments, she said, (paraphrasing) "It makes you realize that you're not the center of the universe." My response was, "But it makes someone else the center." If one were to stick to her position, stridently, perhaps, then the whole idea of subservience to a God can be ignored and it can seem like you should think that you should think that you're not the center of the universe before you love your neighbor. On the surface that seems to make sense, but you could be a completely self-centered and need the love of others, and the best way to get that love is to love them first. Call it taking advantage of someone with your kindness.

Anybody who doesn't dig as deep into these kinds of questions and more like them could easily find religion to be reasonable, it seems. I might be an atheist, and I agree with Richard Dawkins on many points, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone who was watching this video, someone never thought about their source of the morality, became convinced that their moral intuitions are divinely implanted, as the Bishop asserted. If someone makes a historical case for it, it could make sense. I have to say that I feel very sorry for people that think this way. People who think that their morality comes solely from the Bible, and then went on to influence all of western culture and society, are admitting that their moral reasoning abilities are no better than that of a bonobos. By the way, that is meant to give bonobos credit! If bonobos can muster up social bonds and codes without external guidance, unlike a higher primate mind with the most brilliant display of neural connections and cognitive functions known to exist on this planet, then maybe we should worry about humans. Doesn't it seem like that if a person admits, "I don't have an innate capacity for morality, so I need someone or something else to provide it for me," shouldn't we be afraid of people like that? Maybe they should hold up a sign that says, "Don't challenge my book, otherwise I might kill you!"

Of course, I take that humanist fellow's position, which is that people don't realize that they are in fact using their own moral reasoning ability. I'm sure that if the theists were presented with a hypothetical thought experiment that asked if the Bible turned out to have a divinely mandated commandment, as communicated by Jesus, that explicitly and literally demanded that we create a pit of fire to throw ugly children into, they would disagree with it, despite the fact that it was inspired by the word of God. They would easily defy God's authority. However, they would rather embarrass themselves and discredit everyone else and demand that we think of ourselves as having less intelligence than we actually do. Truth be told, I have met people that have admitted that if they didn't have the Bible for a source for morality, there wouldn't be any need for morality, and that they may even go out and do something bad. I was frightened.

I don't think non-believer should give up, but it appears that religion isn't short of rationalizations for itself. I think this will go on until we become extinct.

Mon, 09 May 2011 08:39:51 UTC | #624818

Go to: Richard Dawkins is the best argument for the existence of God

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 133 by dilated_in_disbelief

I'm not at all surprised by this article and it doesn't change my view of Russell Brand. I think he can be funny. However, this article seems more like promotion and an exercise in one's comedic skill; more style than content. I think what bothers me more than what he says is what he doesn't understand, something which can be found in many of the comments of those who agree with him that follow the story. Can anyone seriously think the Professor Dawkins was a Thatcherite, in the sense of endorsing greed? I'm starting to think that those who don't believe in God and don't mind letting the world know, when asked or when promoting something more beneficial than a non belief, like valuing science or separation of church and state, are starting to bother A LOT of people. Even people that agree with them can somehow manage taking offense.

I have read Dawkins and other non-religious writers. I have also read some works by religious writers and even watched debates with William Lane Craig. I also try to understand ideas, and more importantly, logic and meaning as best as I can so that the real value in what is being said is fully comprehended by my uninteresting mind. Yet, when ever I read the commendations of these so-called anti-Dawkinsians, I feel like they have sorely missed the point. Are there any actual Dawkinsians in the world? Tribes of atheists? This is pure projection. I think those that don't like Dawkins and not-so-quiet atheists want those sort of people to be a tribe, to be a collective, to be a fundamentalist group, precisely because they are not that kind of group. Most people I know that like Dawkins or Sam Harris don't agree with everything they say. I personally find it remarkably irritating that many atheists choose to bring up the flying tea pot of flying spaghetti monster arguments. Regardless of the logic behind the ideas, the language and explanation for the idea is almost crass and can even sound immature or like playground rabble rousing. There are far more interesting arguments against theism. That's me personal take on it (duh.)

Anyway, these folks that are so uncomfortable with the notion that a belief actually can de demonstrably inaccurate and even shown to be wrong seem to be so uninterested in actually looking at the data. They don't like the confidence that can be displayed by those who are more informed than themselves. They also don't want to admit how seriously others take their beliefs. More over, they don't want to actually acknowledge the content of certain beliefs. I think these appeals to spirituality and even the irresponsible approval of fanatical practices of religion, like Brand's article, even in light of his half-serious tone, continue in this way because anyone that can accurately attempt to disprove someone's beliefs will bring that person one step closer to disproving the beliefs of the apologist. Russell Brand is a former drug and sex addict. He is a creative person and an advocate of the arts. He is like many appreciators of the arts; a slave to their sensual desires. He needs his experience and interpretation of transcendental meditation to keep him on track. What will happen if it turns out he has sorely misdiagnosed his experience? More heroin storage-space in his ass for his next flight?

That last sentence is something I can say without reservation, given that Russell talks about that part of his life in large doses, and he can laugh about it, which is a good thing.

I guess what I'm really getting at is that it seems that people are criticizing atheism these days because they actually don't understand what motivates it, much less what it actually is. They also don't understand enough science, they also haven't asked all the questions or thought about the issues that deeply, or they're reading pseudo-science and can't recognize how fallacious it is. They have perceptual safety nets that serve only to maintain the survival of their beliefs, like that fail-safe concept that allows you to think that what you believe is obviously true, and if it can't be proven or demonstrated with science or evidence, it is something that isn't meant to be understood or known with science or evidence. How convenient!

I think if the people I'm talking actually visited this website, or websites like it, they would find a group of people far more tolerant, intelligent, and diverse with their ideas and beliefs than they currently think.

Rant, rant, rant!

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 01:44:21 UTC | #614747

Go to: Do atheists need their own bible?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 39 by SeanSantos

(Edit: The comment I quoted was changed.)

Yeah, I edited it because I was confused. When I typed "secular," I was pretty sure I had just read that the title was "A Secular Bible." But then I doubted myself, went to Amazon USA, and saw that the word "humanist" was being used instead. The main point of the comment was to show that the emphasis wasn't on atheism, but a view of life that includes atheism or agnosticism; non-belief. I thought I edited it before anyone had a chance to comment on it. I'll use the "edit" and parentheses formula from now on!

Fri, 08 Apr 2011 18:32:39 UTC | #613322

Go to: Do atheists need their own bible?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by dilated_in_disbelief

Isn't it called "A Humanist Bible?"

I haven't read the book, and I doubt many others have yet, but it seems to me like the publicity surrounding this book's release is painting a potentially inaccurate picture of Grayling's intentions. To me, judging solely by interviews and reviews, it seems that he is challenging the notion that one could only derive moral value or ideas from religious texts. I would hate to think that he set out to write an actual bible for atheists, but if he set out to make a book that could provide people with a history of ideas and ideas that can help or influence their view and attitude towards life from a non-RELIGIOUS perspective, I don't see the harm. I plan on reading it, so I suppose only after I do so will I be able to truly understand his intentions. At the very least it will probably show that moral values have been around for a long time, that religion doesn't have the monopoly on values, and that people can be good on their own and be confident with their ability to think for themselves. I don't see Grayling's book becoming an actual new bible. Perhaps he is playing with the form and context?

Fri, 08 Apr 2011 07:31:54 UTC | #613189

Go to: Muslim de-converted by the God Delusion

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 13 by KAhmedCdn :

BlockquoteA lifetime of praying/reading the Quran/and being educated in the Islamic way was coming to an end.

Yeah, right. Good luck in your "de-conversion". Reading the Qu'ran cluelessly, even in a lifetime, will never serve a Believer. I bet you never even understood what you were reading in Arabic or never read the biography of prophet Muhammad (s).

You now turn to system that has no moral foundation for anything, except human selfishness and "i won't hurt you because i don't want you to hurt me" mentality, whereas the Abrahamic tradition in human history challenged those self-serving notions by providing the ethics that still influence our societies today -- the ethics that Western atheists today now try to claim ownership over by putting blinders on and denying what happened in human history.


It's a bit trying to endure erroneous accusations. There will always be those who simply don't get it. Enjoying D'souza's 'What's So Great About Christianity?" It's funny because atheism has no moral foundation for anything, but that isn't what it is about. Nobody is denying human history here. Well, except maybe those who think the age of the Earth was somehow missed by those who conduct experiments and tests rather than reading patently false scripture. Yes, we all know who to trust with the answers to our most interesting questions about the world around us.

Sun, 03 Apr 2011 07:09:16 UTC | #611156

Go to: Who wants to go through life defining themselves as a 'non-believer'?

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by dilated_in_disbelief

This just seems like a case of someone complicating a situation to provide lip service to their values. The question that is being asked is, "What is your religion?" If you don't have a religion, what do you choose? No Religion. Why does it have to be more complicated? He makes this point as if there aren't any other questions on the census that may indicate a 'positive' stance on something. Like, "I'm married," as in, I'm for marriage. Oh, but that's just a little silly now, isn't it? It seems like the public really isn't use to people speaking out against religion, even those who aren't religious. They should just join if they aren't willing to admit they're a bit soft on the matter.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 18:21:43 UTC | #608390

Go to: We should be thankful to Charles Darwin

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by dilated_in_disbelief

That is a good one, sacred texts. I will have to remember that. I don't think Charles Darwin is literally a "prophet of atheism" but that some atheists (many on this blog) treat him as though he were. Religiousity is is specific type of behavior, and this behavior is clearly seen here.

It is unfortunate that you draw this straw man picture, and seem to believe that religious people are unable to be introspective or to see the world in the same way you see it with all of its diversity. I assure you that you are wrong, and I am well aware of what you believe and why, in part because I was an atheist for 15 years.

No one thinks they follow "dogma", not even atheists.

Yes, the journalist Rod Liddle used the term "sacred texts" in his documentary on atheism, and an image of On the Origin of the Species was shown. Once again, this is mere projection, as you continue to demonstrate by insisting that atheists treat Darwin as a prophet of atheism. Darwin simply had some great ideas that have been expanded on, developed, and continue to be true to this day. I don't know what behavior you're talking about, but perhaps seeing things as you want to see them is a higher priority than asking, "what is going on here?"

On your second charge, I don't think it is a straw-man fallacy. Perhaps I could have been more specific on which specific religious folk I was referring to, but at no point did I suggest that I don't think that the religious are not introspective or capable of seeing diversity in the world. Well, all diversity at least. I have met many people who are very much like the kind of person I described. I find them all the time online and whenever I find myself in a small town or visiting relatives back in the mid-west of the United States, I run into them again. I guess, to be fair, we both made the error of conflating one group of people's behavior with another. I tend to think that some religious people are subservient to their emotional needs, while you think that every religious person is either like yourself (assuming you are religious) or like the ones you have known.

Of course no one thinks they follow dogma at this point in time. It has a negative connotation. "Why yes sir, I sure am dogmatic!" I take it this isn't something you hear often. I also don't hear this, at least in such simple terms. I come across people that color this exact statement by listing their so-called eloquent and theologically sound reasons for being dogmatic. The next thing for you to do is to explain to the atheists what this dogma is that they are being dogmatic about. It makes me feel like you really don't know that much about it, considering the fact that you have since crossed over.

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 22:53:22 UTC | #595151