Joe Carter says facts and truth are subjective matters of opinion

Joe Carter of First Things is horrified that Karl Giberson and Randall J. Stephens would dare to besmirch the honor of intellectual giants like David Barton, Ken Ham and James Dobson.

Carter leaps to their defense with a two pronged strategy of First Things’ usual self-aggrandizing  huff-and-puffery (calling their op-ed “the type of sophomoric, bias-confirming piece that no reputable publication would touch”) and of some kind of post-postmodern radical rejection of all epistemology.

The core of Carter’s argument is that there is no such thing as truth or fact or reality. “Most of us evangelicals,” he says, “have been taught to think for themselves [sic].” Well, OK. Thinking for yourself is good, right?

But as the saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. And by “think for themselves,” what Carter means is that everyone is entitled to their own facts. People who “think for themselves,” he says, should be free to come to whatever conclusions they choose about whether evolution is true, whether climate change “is real and caused by humans,” whether “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation,” and whether “reparative therapy can ‘cure’ homosexuality.”

Here is the core of Carter’s disagreement with Giberson and Stephens. Giberson and Stephens regard those questions as objective matters of fact that ought to be answered according to evidence. Carter regards those questions as wholly subjective, to be answered according to personal preference.

Were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine “evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation”? Giberson and Stephens would say no, in fact, they were not evangelicals and they did not intend America to be a Christian nation. Joe Carter says “think for yourself” — what do you want to be true? Go with that and don’t let any sophomoric, bias-confirming facts sway you one way or the other.

Is climate change “real and caused by humans”? Giberson and Stephens look at the evidence and say that yes, in fact, it is. Carter says this slavish devotion to evidence and fact is just another form of “fundamentalism.” Free your mind and the facts will follow.

What seems to have upset Carter the most in their op-ed was their criticism of James Dobson for advocating “reparative therapy.” Carter, oddly, cites a study that he says claims to show that reparative therapy works. So, wait, suddenly studies and evidence and science matter? Because just a minute ago Carter said they didn’t. This reflects another great advantage to rejecting reason and reality — you don’t need to worry about consistency. If Carter isn’t concerned with contradicting reality, then he doesn’t need to be concerned with contradicting himself either.

After saying that all criticism of reparative therapy is “politicized,” Carter writes:

However, for open-minded researchers, the efficacy of repartive therapy is still open to scientific investigation. Recently, Stanton Jones, a psychology professor and provost at Wheaton College, and Mark Yarhouse, a professor of mental health at Regent University, published a study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy that showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual orientation may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation. Will that cause the APA to reconsider their position? Of course not. The APA is not an organization to be swayed by empirical results.

Carter includes a link from the words “published a study.” It does not link to the study. It links, instead, to a deliriously misleading article about the study from The Christian Post. Yes, The Christian Post. Now we know what Carter means when he sniffs about “reputable publications.”

Carter says Jones and Yarmouth “showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual orientation may be able to do so.” Jones and Yarmouth themselves say that their “results do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone or anyone, but rather that meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.”

And that’s different. The study does not show what Carter claims it shows. I suppose that’s just evidence that he’s not a fact-fundamentalist and that he’s “thinking for themself.”

Warren Throckmorton offers a much more fact-driven consideration of that study, of what it does and doesn’t claim to show, and of how it is being misused by people like Carter:

Categorical change — moving from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one — is not what has been reported by the Jones and Yarhouse. Clearly some people reported changes which allowed them to make an attribution change to themselves – they feel more straight and so they identify with the label. However, the absolute shifts on average were modest, leading to the assessment from Jones and Yarhouse that “meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.”

… the concept of bisexuality is not satisfactorily addressed by the study or by reviewers. Bisexuals I have spoken to describe their lives as a series of shifts. For whatever reason, the direction of their attractions shifts with time and/or with relationships. From their point of view, they are not changing orientation when they fall in love with an opposite sex person after a period of same-sex relationships. Instead, they are flexing along a continuum, all of which is understood to be within their essential orientation. …

I am disappointed that the study has re-ignited the “change is possible” political machine. There is fluidity for some people in their sexual attractions, however this says very little about the experience of people who don’t experience that fluidity. Change of orientation for a small group of people is one hypothesis. However, there are other explanations. I think explanations incorporating the reality of bisexuality, cross orientation relationships, and male-female differences are also plausible. In fact, I think they are more plausible.

We should note as well that Jones and Yarhouse conducted a “longitudinal study of individuals seeking sexual orientation change through involvement in a variety of Christian ministries affiliated with Exodus International.” John J. Smid, who served on the board of Exodus for 11 years and served as director of one of those affiliated ministries, sums up his more than 20 years of experience in that work this way: “I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”

Smid considers the evidence of his experience and, unlike Carter, he thinks his beliefs should adapt to that evidence. Carter believes that the freedom to “think for themselves” and to be entitled to our own facts means that the evidence should be forced to adapt to our beliefs.

That’s why he expends so much energy explicitly attacking any fact-based arbiter of reality — scientists, historians, The New York Times, the American Psychological Association, etc. Can scientists, historians, the Times and the APA ever be wrong? Of course, and they frequently will be. But Carter’s isn’t interested in criticizing or correcting any such particular errors, he’s attempting to tear down any influence they may have and the entire epistemology of tested and confirmed facts that they represent.

How else could he possibly go about defending people like David Barton and Ken Ham? How else could he continue defending those who say evolution is a myth, climate-change is a fabrication, heterosexuality is a choice and Thomas Jefferson was a theocrat?



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  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Phillip K. Dick, IIRC.

  • Anonymous

    OK, I was wrong in my assumption about what “quasi-experimental” meant and i apologize for using my ignorance as a criticism.  Thank you Joe Carter for pointing that out. 

    However, the core issues still stand.  You seem to be suggesting that interpretations of studies are predisposed to politicization and then present a study without notating or summarizing the peer review which is precisely the part of the methodology that best defends against such alienation.  So, thinking for yourself (and us), how do you fit this particular study into the array of studies on sexual orientation?  Or, if you do not have the expertise to do this, then which experts in the field or some other discipline do you abjure toward?  Your original statements seem to devalue expertise and allow the people who look to you for guidance to enshrine the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    Simply presenting studies like points on a scorecard is part of the problem, not the solution.  Lives are at stake.

  • Anonymous

    You’ll never see a legit quasi-experimental study done with a sample so biased (because self-selected by choosing therapy and Christian therapy at that). Just doing it in the quasi-experimental form doesn’t actually mean anything.

    Quasi-experimental studies are done a lot in education and social sciences where it is difficult or unethical to do a random sample. Usually there are paired populations who differ as little as possible aside from the experimental treatment. And nobody thinks they ‘prove’ anything … they’re usually considered a data point requiring additional and more rigorous study.

  • Also, I read Carter’s op-ed.  And the one in the Times.  And re-read Fred’s piece.  He’s harsh, but I agree.  Carter is claiming things about that study that aren’t true.  And he’s calling this blog an echo chamber?  Ugh, please.  And he’s been doing nothing but backpedaling in his comments here– that’s not what I said, continuum, etc etc.  None of the common sense he’s trying to display here in comments are reflected in his original piece.  Maybe instead of lashing out at Fred, he should spend a little more time polishing his own work before sending it off? 

  • Anonymous

    You really need to go read a book on logic.

    That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    If your stated position necessarily implies a secondary belief,  I don’t see a logical problem with stating that you in fact, believe the secondary thing.

    You, by virtue of your own words, think that gay people can be “turned” straight.
    Since you are not AGAINST this (and appear to ignore the offered evidence that it is in fact harmful to people, and even your own evidence that it’s not painless and simple) it implies that you think it’s desirable in some circumstances. Therefore, it is implied that you think there is sometimes something “wrong” with being gay (at least in some instances.)

    There is one rational and one irrational reason for holding the position that there is something “wrong” with being gay.  The irrational reason is that basically, you’re kinda grossed out by the idea of same sex relations, and would rather not think about it.  This is also known as “you’re just a bigot.”  Can’t argue with irrationality so I won’t try.

    I’ll let you guess the rational reason.

  • I would just like to share this

  • Mr. Carter: Point of correction. Jones and Yarhouse did a study of people who were involved in Exodus International, an evangelical ministry. Spitzer’s study included people who had tried to change with a variety of methods, including reparative therapy. Neither study provides support for reparative therapy since the Jones and Yarhouse study was not a study of the effects of professional therapy. Spitzer’s study was retrospective and did not evaluate the potent elements of anyone’s claim to change.

    I interviewed Bob Spitzer for my 2004 documentary I Do Exist. At that time he expressed a sense that change in orientation was infrequent, perhaps less than 10% of cases, although he was not sure.

    Over the years, I have come to regret the I Do Exist video and the support for the change paradigm. While I did the video in good faith and carefully recorded the stories presented to me, two of the five people in the video did not stay changed as they described in the film. I have since then learned reasons that I could question a third story. Also, beyoud I Do Exist, of the people I have interviewed in follow up, many people tell me that they thought they were changed and later discovered they were not.

    My more recent work has found much less fluidity and a recent study reported in the Christian journal Edification by Yarhouse found no change in orientation among same sex attracted men and women in heterosexual marriages. Their behavior changed but their attractions had not over an average of 16 years of marriage.

    The proof texting of studies (this one or that one says people can change) is not good science and is a great example of the points made by NYT op-ed which generated this discussion. It is a discussion Christians need to have. Many Christians have not really faced the studies in detail. Rather they stop with the finding that some small number of people claim to have changed under conditions where the participants feel strong motivation to report that change. However, apologists for the change paradigm are touting the exceptions and missing the general finding, which is that sexual orientation for males (women as a group may be more flexible) appears to quite durable.

  • Let me add to my comments above that the Jones and Yarhouse study did not use a control group. Thus, we do not know whether or not the modest changes reported were due to the passing of time or the religious mediation. Other studies of sexual orientation have reported that bisexuals shift around a couple of Kinsey points over time without any therapy or religious observance. Lisa Diamond found that with her participants over 10 years also shifted some without any effort. It is quite possible that one feature of a bisexual orientation is context related shifts in attractions, back and forth but within a range.

    In the ex-gay world, some people become ex-ex-gay or even ex-ex-ex-ex-gay, meaning that they are bisexually attracted but see themselves differently based on current religious or value considerations. My impression from the studies I have seen and work I have done is that such shifting is not common for men but a little more so for women.

  • Wow.  Thanks for that.  I experienced something similar to what you mention– instances where I felt cured of my transsexualism, especially after praying or talking to a counselor.  It’s sort of that church high (for lack of a better word) that some people get, the kind of thing that inspires people to get on the field during one of Greg Laurie’s harvest crusades but doesn’t ever get them into a church. 

    I used to think I was one of those seeds that never got into good soil and I was terrified about what it meant for my spiritual life.  And then one night, I just took the whole thing, the entire system of thinking, and dumped it upside down.  I turned it on its ear and left it behind.  Every so often, I wonder about the church and faith I lost but I realize that I can’t believe in something that is so grounded in an utter ignorance of reality. 

  • Ursula L

    Fair enough. Here is what I said: “[The study] showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual 
    orientation may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation.” And here is what the author of that study said, “. . . there seems to be some capacity for some people to shift their sexual orientation in a way that has personal meaning to them.”

    Mr. Clark says “that’s different.” I disagree. I think Yarhouse’s study merely confirms what another study (Robert L. Spitzer, “Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual 
    Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to 
    Heterosexual Orientation,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 23 (2003)) has already shown: ““Thus, there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following 
    some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and 

    They are different.  “Shifting sexual orientation” is not the same as “changing sexual orientation.”  

    The study is talking about people who are bisexual having subtle but personally meaningful variations in their sexuality.  That is, sometimes they fancy someone of the same sex, and other times they they fancy someone of the opposite sex.  Which is what bisexual means. 

    That is not the same as someone who is gay or lesbian becoming straight.  Because bisexual is not the same as gay or lesbian.  And shifting sexual orientation is not the same as changing sexual orientation.

    You’re playing games with vocabulary and language, to try to make a study say what you want it to say, that gay or lesbian people can become straight, rather than what it actually says, that some people have subtle shifts in where they are on a spectrum of sexual attraction.

  • Anonymous

    It’s purpose if for people with an unwanted same sex attraction to change their sexual feelings. That is the stated goal of most reparative therapy counselors.

    All right.  That brings one obvious question to mind: do reparative therapy counselors also work with people who have unwanted opposite sex attraction?  If not, why not?

  • hapax

    what do you call it when someone makes up something and attributes it to you when you didn’t say it?

    Apparently we call it “Being Joe Carter”.

    To wit, you said in the piece linked:

    According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you are an evangelical who: … defend spanking children; believe in traditional roles for the sexes; …; and/or oppose gay marriage.

    However, these accusations are NOT in the NY times op-ed.

    True, these essay implies that these positions are associated with science-denying fundamentalism; but it very carefully does NOT say that these are themselves evidence of denying facts.

    Why?  Because unlike evolution, human-caused climate change, and the failures of reparative therapy, these are NOT facts, not science, but political opinions.

    It is possible that you do not know the difference.  If that is the case, I suggest that you stop writing essays that address the topic.

  • Wow.  Thanks for that.  I experienced something similar to what you
    mention– instances where I felt cured of my transsexualism, especially
    after praying or talking to a counselor.  It’s sort of that church high
    (for lack of a better word) that some people get, the kind of thing that
    inspires people to get on the field during one of Greg Laurie’s harvest
    crusades but doesn’t ever get them into a church.

    For whatever it’s worth, you could snip the “transsexualism” from the sentence, “I experienced something similar to what you
    mention– instances where I felt cured of my transsexualism, especially
    after praying or talking to a counselor,” and basically be anyone who has ever experienced “spiritual conviction” at a Christian rally.  I realized when I was moving away from Christianity that a large amount of my Evangelical megachurch-ish experience was basically engineered to create exactly that sensation.  We’d go on retreats and spend a weekend doing worship and study and discussion and discuss how to take that “mountaintop experience” back with us to school or work or whatever.  We’d have amazing worship services that I eventually realized were specifically (although, I believe, unintentionally in most cases.  I think the people responsible for the services were seeking to create that feeling in themselves because they liked it, not because they were intentionally manipulating the congregation.  However, I can see exactly how a more cynical person would be able to use it for great harm) geared to create exactly the sort of endorphin high that would, for a moment, make you think that you can defeat sin and live the life you’re supposed to live.

    One of the real problems with a lot of these Christian movements is that they don’t actually care what your sin is.  They just want you to be thinking, “Oh, I’m wretched and need to be fixed.  Woe is me.”  It’s easier to do with someone who does or is something obviously outside of their normative stance on humanity, but all you really have to be is human.  The human condition is something that stands against their teachings.  So if you’re gay you obviously need to be fixed and can be easily manipulated.  But if you’re straight and do things like, I don’t know, masturbate, then you also need to be fixed.

    Basically, they have a list of inappropriate behaviors/qualities that apply in some way to everyone.  Then they tell you that it’s wrong and shameful.  So you’re afraid to admit that you do/are one of those people and spend your time focused on trying to not screw up.  After that happens you’re in the thrall of the movement and they can sell you the cure to the disease they told you that you have.

    The ironic thing is that the people who are so strongly anti-gay are just as much a victim as the people they persecute.  The prisoners run the jail, you could say.  A lot of that, “Oh, so-and-so is totally anti-gay, when are we going to find out that he likes men, too?” is misplaced due to an absolute misunderstanding of the misery that accompanies life in those movements.  Some of those people are self-loathing closet homosexuals.  We have ample proof of that.  But a lot of them are self-loathing closet-other-totally-unacceptable-things cases and they’re just hoping that if they redirect to a more convenient and obvious target they’ll get some respite for themselves.

    I pity people like that.  I also empathize.  Because I was once one of them.

  • Anonymous

    Psychology is not like physics. You can’t create an experiment where the results are beyond question.

    Here’s your problem … you don’t understand psychology OR physics. Neither can create an experiment where the results are beyond question. If you understood science as well as you claim, you’d know that.

  • Anonymous

    All right.  That brings one obvious question to mind: do reparative therapy counselors also work with people who have unwanted opposite sex attraction?  If not, why not?

    Yes, think of all those stalkers who could be helped … hopefully before they actually kill the ‘object of their affections’. If only it worked …

  • Anonymous

    That brings one obvious question to mind: do reparative therapy counselors also work with people who have unwanted opposite sex attraction?  If not, why not?

    Don’t be silly!  You’re comparing apples and oran — OH HEY LOOK BEHIND YOU!


    …Wait, if I’m reading these results right, and I’m not sure I am, 28% couldn’t be categorized, 30% only managed to make it as far as self-hating celibacy, sorry, “stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation”, and 20% said, “Fuck it, I’m gay.”  How is that indicative of any kind of success?

    The measure of psychological distress did not, on average, reflect
    increases in psychological distress associated with the attempt to

    I submit that when you hate yourself to begin with, learning to hate yourself that much more is not as psychologically distressing as learning that you don’t have to hate yourself at all.

  • I submit that when you hate yourself to begin with, learning to hate
    yourself that much more is not as psychologically distressing as
    learning that you don’t have to hate yourself at all.

    Wow.  Can I, like, steal that and use it, like, everywhere?

  • rm

    Mr. Carter, you are mistaking reductio ad absurdum for “lying about a person’s claims.” Fred Clark linked to your post so that readers could go read for ourselves, and then judge for ourselves whether his absurd characterizations are, or are not, the real logical endpoint of everything you inferred but were not quite ready to say so baldly.

    I do think he is more on target than off. But if you cannot see irony, or cannot read for tone, then you will misread his own rhetorical posture. Your own reading of Fred is overly literal.

    I think the point is not that you overtly claimed a right to one’s own facts, but that if you think rejecting the entire scientific establishment in favor of non-scientific opinions (on matters of science, it should be noted) is “thinking for oneself,” then Fred’s reductio ad absurdum is very fair and accurate.

  • rm

    Oh, and, opinions on spanking may be political, but psychology has shown as clearly as anyone should ever need that spanking is counterproductive and harmful.

    In moral terms, spanking is wrong because it harms the child and also does nothing to promote discipline.

    In Christian terms, pro-spanking folks completely misread “spare the rod and spoil the child” — the metaphor is to a shepherd’s crook. Do shepherds beat their sheep, or do they use the rods to guide the sheep to safety?

  • Atwinters

    He probably just has a google alert on his name. I don’t think it’s realistic to believe that anyone sits and google’s themselves that compulsively.

  • Atwinters

    *googles* (oops)

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this thing blew up like a banshee.  If someone responded to me, I’m not ignoring you: I just don’t have time to read all 122 comments.

  •  Oh, thank you!

  • Oh look, everyone.

    Joe Carter blew on in here and tried bludgeoning his point home with repeated officious word usage, playing fast and loose with scientific terminology, a smattering of a few links here and there, and in general hoping that posting fast and often, being sure to nitpick a lot in the process, will bury any criticism in the dust and prove him right.

    Protip, Joe Carter: if you’re mad at Fred and think he made an inaccurate post, trying to score rhetorical points by bringing his readership into your pissing match is not the way to go.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What’s with the scare quotes around ‘experts’?

  • mmy

    -I’m sorry, but I have a Master’s degree and I have never heard the phrase “quasi-experimental” used in any sort of a serious research context.

    I’m sorry, but I have a PhD and I know of many well-respected works by rigorous/serious/internationally well-respected methodologists that employ the phrase “quasi-emperimental” –for example: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference 

    It is the name used for one of many methods of trying to use/apply statistical modeling to circumstances which do not allow for pure/unrealworld laboratory protocols.

  • Apocalypse Review

    O_o Huh. The more you know, etc.

    Guess that’s why I never heard the term; it’s rarely used in the physical sciences.

    That being said, Carter’s link to a report that seemed stuffed to the gills with excess verbiage would tend to naturally lead one to suspect him of trying to use scientific terminology incorrectly to cast an imprimatur of legitimacy over his rather barbed arguments.

  • mmy

    Oh, I wasn’t defending Carter in any way…..and I have had a belly-load of people who like to use statistical terms without understanding what they really mean (my pet peeve is the misuse of the word “random”)

    but (and you know there is always a but) one of the beefs we always had in teaching upper level statistical modeling is that many people got to the ph.d. level with comparatively weak training in methodology.

    In fact quasi-experimental modeling is used in a number of physical sciences since it involves situations in which one cannot manipulate the independent variables oneself but one can find situations in which nature has manipulated them for you. 

    Also, in some areas there are no ways in which you can do ethical experimental work so you looked for quasi-experimental situations.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    What’s with the scare quotes around ‘experts’?

    They’re not REAL experts unless they agree with him.  If they don’t, they’re just Elitists.

  • Anonymous

    Yup!  Words are free.

  • @Geds–
    (sorry, the reply function didn’t seem to be working) Yes, you’re absolutely right.  Something I’ve learned over the years of
    transition, and talking about it to greater and lesser degrees is that
    we all have some kind of underlying issues that we’re told are wrong in
    us.  People that aren’t trans find plenty of relate-able material
    because, as you point out, it has more to do with being human than being
    gay or trans.  All of these traits are really about being human, about
    being ourselves, and it is when authority tries to make us feel wrong
    about ourselves that we either give up on it or double down on their

  •  I think it was a science fiction writer, ironically enough (not L. Ron).

    Nope, one of L Ron’s favorite bits of doublethink was “Think for yourself” – guess what was, in all innocence, in my .sig when I first started posting to alt.religion.scientology. Oops!

  • jackd

    [Giberson and Stephens] are as “anti-intellectual” as Ham or Barton. But while the Hams and
    Bartons of the world may be merely annoying, the Gibersons and Stephens
    are completely insufferable.

    This is grotesque.  Men with huge followings, who have the ears of candidates for President, men who tell lies for money in the name of a god you yourself claim to believe in are “merely annoying”? 

    What is utterly clear here is that you clearly care not a whit for honesty or facts. You don’t care that Ham and Barton are telling lies and that millions of people are being deceived, you only care that positions you agree with have been attacked and therefore the attackers must be discredited.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    They’re not REAL experts unless they agree with him.  If they don’t, they’re just Elitists

    Elite being a bad thing except in sport, in which being elite makes you deserving of god-like adulation and more money than anyone can reasonably spend.

  • Anonymous

    my pet peeve is the misuse of the word “random”

    To be fair, for a large part of the 20th Century there was quite heated debate among Statisticians as to just what should be meant by the word “random”. It’s not that surprising that a lot of lay-folk get confused.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I also take exception to anyone’s saying that my sexual orientation’s immuatability is in any way, shape or form, a politically based belief.

    I was about to say something similar. Choosing to accept the descriptions of my gay friends and relatives about their experience (which matches my own experience as a straight person) is not in the same category as opinions on how money should be distributed or what aspects of life society has a right to expect to be allowed to influence through government.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Awesome. Thanks for posting this.

    It is a discussion Christians need to have.

    Amen. I have devout Christian friends who have the strongest possible incentive I can imagine to change their sexual orientation and they haven’t. There would be a lot less pain in their past (and present) if it weren’t for this idea even among many moderate Christians that accepting their sexuality makes these amazing men deeply disordered (whereas it would be much more encouraging where they to continue to desperately sturuggled against themselves).

  • mmy

    my pet peeve is the misuse of the word “random”

    To be fair, for a large part of the 20th Century there was quite heated debate among Statisticians as to just what should be meant by the word “random”. It’s not that surprising that a lot of lay-folk get confused.

    Nope, not in the mood to be “fair” at all. When someone with reasonable pretensions to being a statistician uses the word “random” they don’t mean “one among several people who live in exactly the same kind of neighbourhood, make roughly the same income, have the same education —- but whose opinions I will generalize to people in different neighbourhoods, with different incomes and different levels of education.”

    The argument has been about how to achieve true randomness not the general underlying concept.

  • By the way that condescending comment was about my little pony, and what socialist hellhole they actually live in.

    The government controls the weather in Equestria! It’s oppressing the Free Market of natural disasters!

  • Anonymous

    So i’m going to side step the argument with Joe for a minute and bring up a personal experience I had within the last two months that I think illustrates what Fred is talking about. I had a conversation with a UMC chaplain working with Samaritan’s Purse in North Carolina and we got to discussing biblical criticism, particularly the Deutero-Isaiah passages. He told me that: “It doesn’t matter that some people say not all of Isaiah was written by the same person, because other people say it was. Who’s to know? I just believe the bible”. So basically, it doesn’t matter who has the better argument, since some people disagree on the issue, it must mean we can’t really know and must rely on what he says the bible says who wrote the entire book of Isaiah. So this logic really does exist with some, and apparently some pastors, that: There are disagreements about evolution, climate change, and homosexuality being a choice. Therefore, I choose what I believe about those topics based on my interpretation of the bible. This is further built upon the idea that the bible is a set of “innerrant presuppisitions ” upon which we are to view the world, and upon an a priori assumption that, as Francis Schaeffer said: “What sense then would it make for God to give his revelation in a book that was wrong concerning the universe? The answer to both questions must be, ‘No sense at all!'”

  • N44

    Truthiness at its best.