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!


Behind The Scenes And At The Start Of Perth’s #FringeWorld
Unholy Trinity Melbourne Review (AKA From Up The Gods Without God)
ATHEIST / SKEPTIC EVENTS – Perth, Melbourne, Bookclubs, Podcasts, Oh My…
Australia And Friday 13th – A Skeptical Viewpoint
About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a 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’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.

  • khms

    What a contrast.

    Good first article, though it didn’t actually tell me anything new.

    And the second article was actually worse than I feared reading your abstract. It felt as if pretty much every paragraph of the actual article, there was some of “But that’s no true” or “Bad logic” or “You’re mischaracterizing your opposition” or “Irrelevant” or something like that.

    I’ll just mention that if you tell me you’ve proof that 2+2=5, I don’t need to see your argument to know that it is wrong – only to be able to point out how it is wrong. While this doesn’t map exactly onto non-math subjects, it’s still a good approximation.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      The author doesn’t read here, so I suggest you take those criticisms (as they are vague?) to that site.

  • shand

    You lost me on the second part when you stated “There is no reason/evidence to believe the supernatural”…..

    Ohhhh Im sorry have you found some evidence? Have you given this evidence to James Randi and collected your million dollars?

    Replace supernatural with Chakra’s and it doesnt sound any better, what about the ghost that never lies? are you suggesting that if I believe in the ghost that never lies that I am not being skeptical? because the ghost that never lies has shown me the supernatural? why dont you believe me? you are judging my argument from its conclusions, how dare you, you must be close minded!

    • Kylie Sturgess

      1) It’s not my post and 2) please take it to the other site and I politely suggest reading it again.

  • shand

    Thanks for the response Kylie, my mistake for not recognising that the author will not see my comments here.

    as for “just defining skepticism”, whatever, I dont care what you believe, let the christians be skeptic members and the muslims and the new agers, we are not going convict people of thought crime? but at the same time we shouldnt put boundaries about what is and is not off limits. Im part of sustainable community garden group and i do not compost at home, I just grow vegies, everyone keeps telling me i should and i know i should i just havent got round to it yet and its winter now and yadah yah….I’m not scared of being kicked out though….nor am I afraid of being called “Not a true gardener”, I just havent addressed that part of the equation yet.

    For me skepticism is not about finding the ultimate truth its about making an asserted effort to be less wrong over time, as for religion, if you believe then your not being skeptical in that aspect of your life…thats all

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Again – as I said in an email, feel free to take it over to Barbara’s site and I think rereading the article may help with discussing it with her.