More Fun with Karl and Joe

See Karl.

Karl Giberson and colleague Randall J. Stephens say that the Earth is more than 10,000 years old. They say that humans and dinosaurs did not live together. They say that America’s founders were not evangelical Christians and that Christianity is not established as America’s official religion. They say that heterosexuality is not a choice.

They also say that these aren’t just their opinions. They insist that these are “facts,” and that facts such as these are true whether or not we want them to be.

Rejecting facts, they say, facts supported by evidence and proof, is a rejection of reason.

See Joe.

Joe Carter says this makes Giberson and Stephens “fundamentalists” who “simply outsource [their] thinking to whatever experts have been approved by the New York Times.” Giberson and Stephens, Carter says, have not “bothered to think for themselves (or at least do their homework).”

If they had thought for themselves and done their homework, Carter says, they would have learned that what they regard as facts are matters of dispute and valid contention with no settled answers one way or the other. Giberson and Stephens only think these things are facts, Carter says, because they are  not “capable of a rational evaluation of their own biases” and “they are simply parroting the liberal secular line because it will impress readers of the NYT.”

If that sounds a great deal like Charles Fort’s critique of the “priestcraft” of science, that’s because it is. (And if that also sounds like a nasty diatribe written by someone who has forfeited any right to complain about uncharitable readings, that’s because it’s that, too, in a big way.)

Here’s Carter:

According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you are an evangelical who: dismisses evolution as “an unproven theory”; deny [sic] that “climate change is real and caused by humans”; think[s] that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation”; defend[s] spanking children; believe[s] in traditional roles for the sexes; think[s] that reparative therapy can “cure” homosexuality; and/or oppose[s] gay marriage.

Most evangelicals who read that list would agree with some and disagree with others. The responses would vary because most of us evangelicals have been taught to think for themselves.

Carter is trying to muddy the waters there by including the bits about spanking, traditional gender roles and same-sex marriage. Giberson and Stephens don’t argue that these are matters of fact, but they note that many evangelicals who believe in anti-factual claims use those claims to support those positions.

But it remains clear what Carter says there. He says, explicitly, that it is right and good and appropriate to “agree with some and disagree with other” items in that list. He does not suggest that some particular items in the list are rightly agreed with while others are rightly disagreed with.

That only makes sense if these things in this list are not objective facts but merely subjective preferences. That only makes sense if, for any given particular from that list, “agree” and “disagree” are equally valid choices.

That only makes sense if facts and truth are subjective matters of opinion.

Did he say that in those words? No, and I’m sure he doesn’t believe any such thing. But that didn’t stop him from making such logic the cornerstone of his nasty hatchet-job on Giberson and Stephens.

This becomes clearer if we focus on just a single item from Carter’s list. The following paragraph is distilled from Carter’s muddier version. This is not a verbatim quote, but it in no way alters the logic or meaning of his argument in the paragraphs quoted above:

According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you think that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation.” Some evangelicals who read that would agree and some would disagree. The responses would vary because most of us evangelicals have been taught to think for ourselves.

Again, that argument only makes sense if you regard the proposition that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation” as something other than a fact — as something that cannot be investigated, examined, looked up, verified or falsified, proved or disproved.

Carter’s argument does not make a lick of sense unless you accept that there is no right or wrong answer, that it is equally valid to agree or disagree.

Now, as it happens, Joe Carter has since assured us that he does believe there is a right and a wrong answer for this particular proposition. He now tells us that he agrees with Giberson and Stephens that the claim that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation” is, in fact, false.

Glad to hear it. Glad, but confused. Carter agrees with Giberson and Stephens that Bartonesque history is factually wrong. But he apparently still disagrees with them that clinging to ideas shown to be factually wrong constitutes a rejection of reason.

OK, then. I would try to make sense of that, but one thing I’ve learned today is that if you try to make sense out of Joe Carter’s arguments you’ll wind up being accused of all sorts of awful things.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    If that sounds a great deal like Charles Fort’s critique of the
    “priestcraft” of science, that’s because it is. (And if that also sounds
    like a nasty diatribe written by someone who has forfeited any right to
    complain about uncharitable readings, that’s because it’s that, too, in
    a big way.)

    Oh, snap.

    ::Gets out popcorn, etc.::

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Was intending to reply to Mister Carter in the other thread, but being at work I could not spare the time for a lengthy explanation there.  

    Richard Feynman said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”  However, I would like to add a quote from Carl Sagan, “There are many hypotheses in science that are wrong. That’s perfectly alright; it’s the aperture to finding out what’s right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.”

    Both are right, but I would like to emphasize Sagan’s last sentence in that quote.  It is perfectly fine to have ideas that run counter to conventional wisdom on the subject being consider, that is the only way science makes any progress.  However, those ideas need to be backed up, rigorously researched, and survive peer review and reproduction in order to be accepted as credible.  If we have long held expert scientific determinations on subjects, it is because those subjects have been scrutinized to the point that we found no flaws in them which compromised their adoption.  There are gaps in our knowledge, certainly, but if so it is only because we have yet to find an experiment or explanation which fills those gaps to the satisfaction of the rigors expected.  

    And this is what I would address to Mister Carter.  While doubt of experts is healthy, that doubt must be applied to oneself as strongly as it is applied to others, and this is where I take issue with people like David Barton and Ken Ham.  They do a few experiments, true, but the experiments they do lack a lot of the rigor and self-doubt that are necessary for science.  If someone is not willing to play by the rules of the scientific community doubts the experts in that community, they the subjects they study do not really count as being in dispute.  The only time when a differences of scientific ideas can legitimately be called a dispute is when no clear experiment can be conducted to determine which idea is more likely to be true.  

    A good way to conduct science is this:  Do you have an idea?  Good for you.  Now go about trying as hard as you can to prove yourself wrong.  If you can continue to fail to prove yourself wrong, then share your idea with others, and let them try to prove it wrong.  If other people can duplicate your experiments and come to the same conclusions, then your idea is probably right near so far as we can determine the truth, and is likely to be adopted.  However, if someone else can, at any time in the future, prove your idea wrong insofar as it applies, the full acceptance of your idea will be revised by the community to accommodate the new data.  

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    If there is a legitimate dispute here, I think it’s over the following question:

    How sure is sure?

    That can be seriously discussed, but such a discussion has been known to degenerate to the various arguers all denying each other’s existence.

  • Anonymous

    One thing I just realized is how similar Joe’s argument about “outsourcing thought processes” is to the libertarian/objectivist ideal of heroic self-reliance. As if specialization was a bad thing because it encourages “dependency.” Truly their ideals are even less attractive than I imagined.

  • nanananana

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with spanking.I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad thing.

    And this is something that always annoyed me about some Christians.They say they “think for themselves” because they don’t believe in global warming. That they’re not saying they believe in it because it’s what “everyone else is believing”.I’ll admit I’ve only read over a few of the actual studies, but the people that have been doing these studies are qualified scientists with degrees and a government funded lab.Not a pastor.These sorts of people have clearly don’t know what a credible source is.

  • Anonymous

    @fa1d07d7b0d360df2caa3773b2234081:disqus 

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with spanking.I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad thing.

    I am not a child psychologist, but I believe that the issue is that spanking is a physical solution for a social problem.

    Spanking is a very extreme punishment.  It literally inflicts pain on the child, and that has a powerful effect — that’s why it “works” to begin with.  The child has a powerful motivation to avoid the spanking, and so (in theory) doesn’t do those actions again.  That is really, really limited moral thinking, however — the child does (or doesn’t do) X specifically in order to avoid the disproportionate punishment.  That reasoning does not translate well into older childhood and adulthood, where the child needs to reason “obey the rules because they are the rules” or better-yet “obey the rules because the rules reflect the right thing.”

    And that’s the best case, where spanking is sparingly but consistently applied.  If spanking is inconsistent, unavoidable, or worse yet done more as an act of revenge on the caregiver’s part, it crosses the line into physical abuse.  The child “learns” the lesson that they are not safe and that their caregiver(s) seek to harm them.

    In my own view, if a child is so young that no other punishment will be effective, then they are so young that they probably can’t properly understand the rule that the caregiver is trying to enforce in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    An oldie but a goodie.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with spanking.I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad thing.

    Well, I have known several people who do not see spanking as controversial and in fact enjoy it, mainly because they find it appealing to have a contrasting sensation between pleasure and pain and–

    … oh, wait, you were talking about spanking children?  What kind of sicko would do that?  

  • Michael P

    Wow. Carter is projecting so much, you could put him in front of a screen and sell tickets.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    An oldie but a goodie.

    Like Frank Fontaine said in Bioshock, “These sad saps, they come to Rapture thinking they’re going to be captains of industry, but they all forget that somebody’s got to scrub the toilets.”  

  • Anonymous

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with
    spanking.I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last
    resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if
    you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they
    fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad
    thing.

    Spanking is not effective or necessary as a punishment.  It doesn’t teach kids to think about right and wrong, and encourages them to hide bad behaviors rather than stop doing those things.  It also teaches them that the strongest person has a right to dictate the behavior of others.

    People are never completely ration actors who base their decisions on potential pain vs. potential reward.  Pain generally makes people modify behaviors, not stop them.  Think about a baby learning to walk.  When she falls down, she feels pain.  But she doesn’t just give up and stop walking.  Instead, she learns to modify her walking so that she doesn’t feel pain as often.

    My preferred method of “punishment” is get the kid’s attention with a time out, but then to give them a lecture and make them answer questions to reinforce what I just told them.    I ask them why they had a time-out, why it’s wrong to do that thing, and what they are going to do when they are done with time out.  People behave a certain way because of many factors, but threat of punishment is only one factor.

  • Anonymous

    I think there’s a great Philip K. Dick quote for this whole line of bunk, “Reality is which that when you stop believing in it doesn’t go away.” 

  • Anonymous

    As with all things, it is how it is implemented (how it’s done).  My mother (she was the one who did most of disciplining in the family) spanked me I was always immediately picked up and put in her lap.  When at home we would be in her grandmothers rocker.  I would be held and rocked why we talked.  She always made sure I understood why I had been spanked and that the spanking had nothing to do with her loving me.  I came to understand that when a child has to be hurt, either physically or psychologically, by a parent it is absolutely necessary to be sure why he/she understands why they were punished and reassured that the punishment has nothing to do with their parents love for them.

  • Anonymous

    I was wondering why many of the same people who most strongly object to ‘moral relativism’ support ‘scientific  relativism’?  Strange.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with spanking. I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad
    thing.

    Would it work with adults?  Would it work to correct your behavior? If not, why do you think it will with kids?  It doesn’t even work well with animals.

    I have to admit, I have spanked my son … but I knew even when I was doing it that I was doing it because I was out of control. And/or frustrated and couldn’t think of anything else to do. Not good reasons I think you’d agree.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Like Frank Fontaine said in Bioshock, “These sad saps, they come to Rapture thinking they’re going to be captains of industry, but they all forget that somebody’s got to scrub the toilets.”

    Actually, to elaborate a little on this, Fontaine demonstrates why an entirely Objectivist society just cannot work, at least not unless everyone is a paragon of Objectivisim who never waivers in their belief.  The way such a society is structured it would necessarily be a kind of “every man for himself” system, since that is the only way to ensure individuals can pursue their own happiness without being encumbered by the needs of others.  Such a system will always produce an underclass of people who, through bad decisions or just bad luck, will be at the bottom of the barrel, dissatisfied with their lot, and unable to get a leg up.  Even disregarding compassion, such people will necessarily strive to change the system to better meet their needs, and they might be driven to extreme measures to do it.  After all, by that point they have nothing to lose. 

    As Fontaine said, “I hand these mugs a cot and a bowl of soup, and they give me their lives.” 

  • P J Evans

     Well, speaking as someone who got spanked on occasion, it’s an effective form of reinforcement for ‘don’t do that again’, for children old enough to understand the concept (under about six years old, not). It needn’t be painful, it certainly shouldn’t be done to the point of not being able to sit or lie down (breaking the skin is a reason to file charges), and if it hurts the psyche of either the parent or the child then that psyche is damned fragile.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with spanking.I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad thing.

    I think that spanking can be administered in a way that is corrective and has a net positive effect. But I do not think it is reasonable to expect any particular parent to be able to deduce, for the one particular child that is theirs, where exactly the (ick) “sweet spot” is between “ineffectual” and “abusive”, and in light of that, it would be irresponsible to advocate it, or to treat it as anything other than gambling with a child’s safety.  

  • Zackp

    My mother’s opinion on spanking was that it was only appropriate to do in situations where the child does something extremely dangerous, like if a child would just run out into the middle of the road. The idea is that the child should be afraid to do the act, because it’s very dangerous, but as a child they don’t completely understand the very real danger of death, and so need to fear the spanking until they get old enough to grasp the real danger.

  • nanananana

    But that’s the thing.If it’s used as a punishment there has to be a line drawn as to when.It’s not suppose to be done when the parent is angry but when the child is severly misbehaving.I say severely because if a kid’s not doing the dishes or being stuborn about goign to bed, something like a timeout would probably work.But if a kid is throwing a complete tantrum and running around yelling and screaming, something drastic might be needed.And of course the reason for the punishment should be laid out clearly before during and after so that they understand what they ere doing was wrong.

    I don’t know I guess.Around where I grew up spanking was pretty common.Most of the kids I know today who are well behaved and polite got one or two as a kid,including myself.But the rest of the people who were just stuck in timeout for punching another kid turned into rather smug and disrespective teens and adults.Of course this is by no means the rule about stuff like this but I just thought I’d put in my two cents.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    My mother’s opinion on spanking was that it was only appropriate to do in situations where the child does something extremely dangerous, like if a child would just run out into the middle of the road.

    That was the only time either of my parents ever spanked me, and it was for exactly that reason.  My father explained to me afterward why he did that.  Through my tears, I protested that I looked and made sure there were no cars coming, and I wanted to show him he was being too worried. 

  • rm

    For the out-of-control kid, adults can restrain the kid without hitting him or her. For the not-out-of-control kid, spanking is wrong and counterproductive and harmful for all the reasons everyone has stated. If you spank appropriately — never in anger, never with an object, never hard enough to injure in any way — you are under control enough to do better methods of discipline, like talking to your kid or using time outs.

    It drives me nuts to hear Christians quote “spare the rod and spoil the child.” That rod is  a shepherd’s crook. Shepherds do not beat their sheep with them. They guide them, gently, onto the right path.

  • nanananana

    I’m not Christian.And I agree with you about the non-out-of-control kids.I wasn’t advocating spanking a kid for doing something trivial like not going to bed on time.And I agree physically punishing a kid for stuff like that is beyond counterproductive it’s downright abusive.But if a kid is screaming his head off and knocking down everything in the isle at the grocery store,just restraining him and waiting for him to run out of energy isn’t doing anyone any favors.

    Ross kind of said it.No one can advocate spanking as a whole because there are plenty of people as who would take it as an excuse to slap their kids for not folding their cloths right.But at the same time I don’t feel spanking needs the violent backlash it gets because I believe it can be beneficial in some cases.If you’ve tried explaing to a 5 year old why punching his sister is wrong,you’ve tried time out,making him apologise, and taking away toys, and he still does it, I think a spanking is needed.It’ll sting and he won’t like it but it’ll get the point across that what he was doing was a bad thing.It’ll be the most basic sort of learning,but that’s why it’s a last resort.And it certainly beats putting a kid on drugs because he’s not acting the way his parents want him to (as I’ve seen a lot of parents who are afraid to discipline their kids do).Of course the question comes up if spanking doesn’t work,what next? I’d personally say there might be something wrong with the family life but at the same time the same could be said if someone who has resorted to spanking.

    (ignore all the bad spelling and sentence structure,I’ve been up all night working on essays x( )

  • Donalbain

    Maybe a bit off topic, but i’ve always wondered what was wrong with
    spanking.I mean it’s certainly something that should be used as a last
    resort and by no means should a full on beat down be allowed.But if
    you’ve already told them a millions times not to do something and they
    fully understand why they’re being punished,I don’t see why it’s a bad
    thing.

    Errr… because violence is wrong. And violence against children is wrongerer.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t know I guess.Around where I grew up spanking was pretty common.Most of the kids I know today who are well behaved and polite got one or two as a kid,including myself.But the rest of the people who were just stuck in timeout for punching another kid turned into rather smug and disrespective teens and adults.Of course this is by no means the rule about stuff like this but I just thought I’d put in my two cents.

    I’ll counter your anecdata with: I was ‘spanked’ as a child and I’m considered a well-behaved, polite adult. I was also aware that it was more about a parent reacting to their anger than engaging in rational discipline so I resented said parent for a long time. Then, I noticed as a teenager an inclination towards violence against others younger than me when I was angry, and was pretty horrified about it so stamped down on it hard. Hey, maybe being hit made me a pacifist!

    I know lots of kids now who are diciplined without any violence at all, and they are awesome, well-behaved, boisterous kids. So there’s another two cents.

  • ako

    But at the same time I don’t feel spanking needs the violent backlash it
    gets because I believe it can be beneficial in some cases.

    I was spanked (rarely) as a kid, and I think some anti-spanking advocates end up making seriously overblown claims.  I don’t think spanking (of the non-injuring, open-handed smack on the backside sort) is the worst thing a parent can do, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to cause serious psychological damage to a kid, and I don’t think it’s as bad for a child as a complete lack of discipline. 

    It’s still not something I would encourage or recommend.  I know that my experience with spanking always ended up being more about fear and/or resentment of “Now the bigger people are going to hurt you” than recognition of my own misbehavior, and other disciplinary tools were equally or more effective.  Being sent to my room would lead to me eventually getting past the wounded pride and “It’s not fair they can do this just because they’re bigger!” feelings, and focus on my own misbehavior.  Spanking never would. 

    My parents always approached spanking with as much calm as one can reasonably expect from a parent dealing with a misbehaving child, they never injured any of the kids, it was rarely even painful, and I don’t think I was spanked more than half a dozen times growing up.  And based on that, I wouldn’t categorize spanking as inherently abusive or as a helpful way to discipline a kid.

  • Anonymous

     Pardon me, but to me, Joe Carter looks like just another partisan hack.

    When I went to First Things last night, here was the piece (by Carter) that was at the top of the home page:

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/10/foreign-policy-and-the-first-freedom

    “The liberal critics of George W. Bush were right about one thing: The President did help usher in a theocracy.

    “The
    reason the progressives didn’t seem to notice—or seem to care—was that
    the theocracy wasn’t being lead by Dominionists in Idaho but by
    Islamicists in Kabul. It was, in other words, a genuine theocracy, the
    kind that never seems to bother them.

    “But in 2004 those of us who prize freedom of religion had reason to be concerned…”

    Sorry, but in 2004, all I remember from evangelical conservatives on our foreign adventures was unbridled triumphalism: Bush had liberated both Iraq and Afghanistan.  (Sure, things were kinda bumpy in Iraq in 2004, but the right ignored that as much as possible.)  Clearly that’s the message that spilled down into the ranks, because Bush won the 2004 election on extremely elevated (pro-Bush) evangelical turnout.

    If your side doesn’t “seem to care” about an issue of concern to you, you can hardly dump on the other side for missing the boat.

    And while progressives were concerned about the very real possibility of loss of religious freedom, particularly in Iraq (everybody’d pushed Afghanistan to the back burner by 2004, remember), we were also aware that it wasn’t in our power to do much about it.  Meanwhile, we were more concerned about more basic stuff: Iraqis were killing each other by the thousands, electricity and clean water were hard to come by, and millions of Iraqis didn’t have jobs.  And literally billions of dollars that were supposed to fund the reconstruction of Iraq were quite simply disappearing; I don’t think we ever found out where several billions went.

    So in this environment, Joe Carter regards it as progressive hypocrisy that the loss of religious freedoms in Afghanistan wasn’t on our front burner – even though evangelicals didn’t give a flip about it either.

    He’s a hack.  Nothing more, nothing less.

  • rizzo

    Actually, spanking is effective as a punishment.  It should not be done to inflict pain, but to inflict embarrassment.  Anyone who has ever spanked a child and hurt it in any way was doing it wrong.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    He’s a hack.  Nothing more, nothing less.

    And your comment is yet another example why coming to Slacktivist with nothing but arrogance, rhetorical fallacy, and ad hominem attacks is bringing a proverbial butter knife to a gun fight.  Take note, Joe Carter, if you’re still paying attention: not only do the people here actually read the links in the posts, we also do follow-up research.

  • Anonymous

    On the original post, Fred is wrong on one point:

    Carter is trying to muddy the waters there by including the bits about spanking, traditional gender roles and same-sex marriage. Giberson and Stephens don’t argue that these are matters of fact, but they note that many evangelicals who believe in anti-factual claims use those claims to support those positions.

    No, that’s not what they argue. Here’s the article:

    This [anti-science] is how he knows that the earth is 10,000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and that women are subordinate to men.

    If that’s not lumping traditional gender roles with matters of fact, I don’t know what is. Now, the “these are not matters of fact but they are often supported by false claims of fact” argument is a good one, and it’s one Fred and others have made many times before. But Giberson and Stephens don’t even get close to it; they run straight in the opposite direction, making additional factual claims about non-scientific things like “They [new evangelical leaders] recognize that the Bible does not condemn evolution and says next to nothing about gay marriage.”

  • Anonymous

    My mother’s opinion on spanking was that it was only appropriate to do
    in situations where the child does something extremely dangerous, like
    if a child would just run out into the middle of the road. The idea is
    that the child should be afraid to do the act, because it’s very
    dangerous, but as a child they don’t completely understand the very real
    danger of death, and so need to fear the spanking until they get old
    enough to grasp the real danger.

    I’ve heard this before and I’m unimpressed.  If a child can understand that running into a street will hurt because Mommy will hit them, then they can understand that running into a street will hurt because a car will hit them.  Kids who can’t understand this because of mental or emotional problems are not the kind that will respond to spanking.  Every day millions of kids manage to get corrected for things without being hit.  Kids aren’t stupid, even at very young ages.  And if you actually have a problem with a 1 year-old wandering into the street, you need to put up a fence, pay closer attention, or do something else besides spanking.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, spanking is effective as a punishment.  It should not be done
    to inflict pain, but to inflict embarrassment.  Anyone who has ever
    spanked a child and hurt it in any way was doing it wrong.

    Wow, this is a really weaselly argument.  Hitting a child is ok as long as it doesn’t hurt?  Embarrassment is a better punishment than talking to a child?  No thanks, I’m still not convinced enough to ever hit a child.

  • Anonymous

    I was spanked on occasion as a child, mostly because time outs did not work on me at all; I would just get more angry and obstinate the more time I was left to ruminate. I never felt that I was being hit out of anger or frustration, I was never physically harmed, I was always given an explanation and advance warning, and basically I think it worked quite well to change my behavior. Just an anecdote of course, but we are already on that train here. :)

  • Anonymous

    Would it work with adults?  Would it work to correct your behavior? If not, why do you think it will with kids?  It doesn’t even work well with animals.

    There are plenty of things that work well for kids but not adults. Telling me “If you don’t do this, we won’t go out for ice cream,” is not really going to convince me now, but it would have been an extremely effective motivator at age 5.

  • Donalbain

    My mother’s opinion on spanking was that it was only appropriate to do
    in situations where the child does something extremely dangerous, like
    if a child would just run out into the middle of the road. The idea is
    that the child should be afraid to do the act, because it’s very
    dangerous, but as a child they don’t completely understand the very real
    danger of death, and so need to fear the spanking until they get old
    enough to grasp the real danger.

    So, running into a street when mummy is not there would be OK, since then it won’t hurt?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    Both the post and the tangential thread on spanking were really interesting to read. I’ve always had a problem with spanking, but mostly I was in situations where everyone insisted that every single person needed to get the business or else they would run out of control and never develop morals. 

    I was spanked, very occasionally, as a kid, and it hurt and it was humiliating, as intended. I don’t know if I can say 100 percent, but I’m pretty sure it also didn’t instill any morality in me that my parents hadn’t already by being, you know, good, intelligent people.

    In discussions, I couldn’t effectively put into words what other people already have, the idea that spanking doesn’t foster morals except on the absolute most basic level. “If I do this, I’ll get my ass beat.” It barely even qualifies as morals so much as informed self-interest. (See: “I’d be raping babies without God here to send me to the hot place”)

  • Em

    From Joe Carter’s article:  “but the idea that counseling groups like the APA have been mau-maued by homosexual activists isn’t exactly news.”

    Seriously? There was a secret society of homosexuals who were trying to drive the British settlers out of the APA by terrorist actions? And after much fighting, the British army won, but then the APA gained independence a few years later? Seriously?

    My actual first thought involved Egyptian maus, but I always have had a soft spot for spotted cats.

  • Anonymous

    My dear man, what do you think bonuses are?  Especially in sales type jobs.  ”If we sell X amount of product, there will be bonuses/a trip to Vegas/ice cream.”

  • Apocalypse Review

    The main confusion about spanking seems to be that the morality of striking a child is mixed up with a body of sizable anecdata that would seem, at first hand, to indicate it’s not “really” a problem. And part of it may lie in the fact that when a parent is angry and frustrated and the child just will not quit acting up, hitting the child works (usually).

    However it may be precisely because such anger to such an extent is rarely exhibited that is the key. Humans can get used to a lot of things, among them perpetually angry parents. But when a parent exhibits atypical behavior, this usually red-flags the situation as a “holy crap, better not do THAT again” kind of thing.

    In the end, however, I would prefer that discipline be conducted in a way that never involved child-striking because physical violence is, in the end, an admission of failure of communication.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Of course, at the other end of the spanking scare are the professional PTSD-farmers who advocated beating infants until they stop crying.  I think everyone here can agree THAT’s bad, right?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t really know what to think about the effectiveness of spanking, or its practicality, but I would say that the situations where you suggest spanking as a punishment are situations where there’s a fairly good chance that the adult might be nearing the end of their tether. It’s probably right to say that people shouldn’t spank children out of anger, but we aren’t an especially rational species, and parenting can frequently be a highly stressful task; I’m not sure how you would prevent your feelings from influencing the frequency or force with which you apply the punishment. If you decide to solve that problem by avoiding spanking the child when you’re angry, then you’ve created a situation where the punishment the child receives relies largely on how the adult happens to feel, rather than what the child has actually done, which is something the child has no control over. That feels uncomfortably arbitrary, to me. I suppose I just don’t really trust people enough to recommend it as an option. 

    And, to be frank, unless you’ve actually surveyed a reasonable sample of the smug people you know, and a reasonable sample of the non-smug people you know, your anecdata about basically everyone who weren’t spanked as children turning out to be smug jerks is kind of worthless, in light of the number of people (such as myself) who did not receive such a punishment, and did not turn out to be smug or disrespectful. Well, as far as I’ve been told, anyway. It also kind of implies that you think people (such as myself) who were not spanked as children are more likely to be smug and disrespectful, which, ironically enough, would kinda be a smug and disrespectful thing to say, whether you intended it that way or not. You cannot slap the disrespect out of a person, thank you very much. 

  • Anonymous

    Spanking can be a problem simply because when we lose our temper it’s probably the last time we should be striking someone smaller than ourselves. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean we should endorse it as OK either.

  • ako

    Yeah, that’s why I made a point of clarifying what I meant by spanking.  Because the occasional non-injuring swat is in “I wouldn’t recommend it, but I’m willing to agree to disagree” territory, but there are people who think that it’s okay to beat a child so long as you scrupulously label every beating as a spanking, and I wouldn’t want them to think I was approving of their actions.

  • Anonymous

    “If that’s not lumping traditional gender roles with matters of fact, I don’t know what is”

    Some context for the quote from the article: “Mr. Ham built his organization, Answers in Genesis, on the premise that biblical truth trumps all other knowledge….This is how he knows that the earth is 10,000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and that women are subordinate to men.”

    Giberson and Stephens are not lumping traditional gender roles in with matters of fact. Their point goes the other way- that fundamentalists take political concepts like traditional gender roles and insist that any truth claims made by the same source as those political claims- the Bible- must never be questioned. The lumping is done by Ham, Barton, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Most two to five year olds are simply not capable of moral reasoning on an abstract level.  They have a fairly simple “things which get me punished I shouldn’t do” level of moral know how.  This isn’t casting aspersion on kids – it’s simply the way kids are.  You SHOULD talk to your kids about why it’s not okay to hurt other people, but you should also punish them for it – since that’s the stage of moral development that most toddlers operate at.  I mean Kohlberg has it’s problems but it’s not totally out in left field.  Trying to explain the principle of least harm to your four year is like rubbing your dog’s nose in it’s mess.  They just ain’t gonna get it.

    I don’t advocate spanking children frequently or often, but it’s somewhat akin to training a puppy.  Some puppies you have to really hold in dominance positions for a long, long time before they calm down.  Some puppies, as soon as you roll them over will pee themselves and go on a little mental breakdown, so for them, you just pet them on the shoulders. The same is true with kids and spanking.  When I was a kid, nothing, but nothing and I mean nothing could get through to me except for being confined to my room (often in ways that involved physically FORCING me to stay in there – I fought spanking to the point that it was dangerous to try it on me.) With my brother, this approach just made him MORE stubborn.  He once sat in time out for an entire day because he didn’t want to admit he had misbehaved.  But, he could be merely threatened with a spanking and he snapped into line.  I can count on one hand the number of times he actually GOT a spanking – because the threat was enough.

    I don’t spank my son because it just doesn’t work.  He just gets more angry and upset – he can’t draw the connection between behavior and consequences.  If I take his toys – NOW I’ve got his attention.  I can’t say I’ve never spanked him – because there have been times when I have – searching for a solution – and it was pointless.  But on the other hand, I know people who say the only way to snap their kids out of the unholiest of unholy fits is a swat on the rear.

    I’m not against spanking, per se, I’m against people using it because they don’t know what else to do.  Children ARE people, but they are not just shorter versions of grown ups, each of them responds to different stimuli as they grow up, and from each other.

    There’s no universal answer to “should I spank my child” just as there’s no universal answer to “should I put them in timeout” or “should I take away their toys.”  It’s quite literally different strokes for different folks.

  • http://twitter.com/uncouthyouth Phil Lucia

    If evangelicals are so good at thinking for themselves, why are people constantly telling us what to think?

  • Anonymous

    Speaking as someone who was spanked every time she did something wrong (intentionally or not) because she was too easily-amused for time out and tended to zone out during lectures–yeah, spanking teaches you to either hide everything you do, avoid trying new things out of fear, or both.  I was a both.

    And bear in mind, I wasn’t ever spanked hard enough to break skin–I was a little red and sore for a few hours, but that was it.

  • Anonymous

    You got sent to your room without being spanked first?

    I am beginning to feel like an outlier here.

  • Apocalypse Review

    Possibly oversharing here but past a certain age I was pretty much just “timed-out” or I had privileges withdrawn instead of being whapped on the butt.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    One of the funny things about my parents is that they had very few rules to lay down or punishments to administer.  They later told me it was not because they were unwilling to do so, but simply because I never gave them much reason to think that I needed strict discipline.  I was mild mannered and did not do anything which would have given them cause for concern, so they concluded that such rules were unnecessary in my case.  


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X