Some Quick Links For Today – And Read How Not To Judge An Argument By Its Conclusion

I have work piling up – so here’s a quick update so you can enjoy the read.

If there was two things I suggest that you read today and keep bookmarked (and by ‘read’ I mean read fully, and preferably in order), they would be:

People Don’t Read, and Why It Matters to Skepticism – by Ben Radford.

As a professional writer, it’s amazing to me how often people simply don’t read-or, if they read, they don’t understand what they read. As any teacher can tell you, simply reading words does not mean you are comprehending those words or understanding what’s being communicated. Comprehension takes skill and effort; no matter how clear or strong the writing is, the reader must do his or her part to make an effort to understand it.

In light of that article, I highly recommend: You Can’t Judge An Argument By Its Conclusion – by Barbara Drescher.

I will not speak for everyone who has “harped” about this issue, but I can tell you that this has always been my bottom line in these arguments, so those who would take it out of context and build straw men like “she says that religion is off-limits”, don’t bother.

What I really want to talk about is about here is why this isn’t good skepticism. I’d also like to refute the tired argument that only atheists are good skeptics.

Since there are several versions of this argument and I acknowledge that they carry different meanings, I am also arguing against the following claims:

  • Only atheists are rational.
  • Theists/Deists may be good skeptics when it comes to other areas, but they are not skeptical about religion.
  • Agnostics and theists/deists do not ‘go far enough’. [aka “They’re Not Skeptical Enough” – KS]
  • There are no reasons to believe in/is no evidence for the supernatural.

The problem with these claims is that they are based almost entirely on a conclusion – the conclusion that there is no god (atheism). It is human nature to judge the validity of arguments by the believability of the conclusion.

Read both of those posts. In full. They’ve nearly restored my faith in Twitter.

Alom Shaha’s The Young Atheist’s Handbook (pictured above) is now out in the UK, with a bright purple cover instead of the aqua version we’ve enjoyed in Australia – you can read all about it on the official website and some more on the publisher’s website. If you’re in the UK, there’s a launch and drinks reception on 10th July:

In other book news, Michael McRae’s book Tribal Science is now out in the USA, with a rather snappy-looking new cover as well – you can find it via Prometheus Books (who are one of the advertisers for the Freethought Blogs, just as a disclosure).

Paul Fidalgo has been doing a great little series of links (far better than I’ve ever done, quite frankly) over the past few weeks (over a month?) that have become a must-read every morning – they’re called The Morning Heresy and you can find them over at the website or just subscribe to the Twitter feed at Center4Inquiry and that way get all of them as they appear, as well as other links and updates from CFI.

Later today – new Token Skeptic podcast episode – in fact, I think I’ll make it two episodes, as I’ll be snowed under with work for quite some time and it’ll keep you entertained. I’m out!


About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a former Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide. She regularly presents a news and current affairs show on RTRFM's The Mag (tune in on Tuesdays!).
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science. She files her nails while they drag the lake.