Handy Dandy Blogging Advice!

Blog_New Yorker cartoon (Medium)

This weekend, I went up to Baltimore to attend a session of the Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The session was called, "An Encounter With Social Media: Bishops and Bloggers Dialogue" and included a presentation of survey results about Catholic blog reading habits, a panel discussion, small group discussion, and then a period where the bishops asked questions of the bloggers en masse and then we switched and asked them questions.They encouraged us to … [Read more...]

Am I my schismatic’s keeper?


This post is part of a series discussing Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell.By the end of Breaking the Spell, Dennett has shown the reader that religions may have memetic staying power independent of their truth.  And, even if a religious reader isn't convinced that their own religion is explained away by evolutionary processes, he hopes his book will awaken the religious to their unique duty to short-circuit dangerous religious memes. He writes: "There is more work to be done, and it is th … [Read more...]

Ideological Fight Club

Julian Sanchez offers an antidote to poisonous political discourse that reads like a hybrid of the Ideological Turing Test and steelmanning (the opposite of strawmanning - deliberately trying to improve your opponent's argument and rebutting that attack). I offer a modest proposal for American universities. All freshmen should be required to take a course called “Offense 101,” where the readings will consist of arguments from across the political and philosophical spectrum that some substantial … [Read more...]

Why Won’t You Argue What I Know You Believe?

phil translation

Yvain has been reading Feser's The Last Superstition, and he has an excellent gloss of one of Feser's main points: Feser's argument is that most atheists arguing with Christians are pretty much the equivalent of a Calvinist going up to a Hindu saying "Look! John Calvin's writings totally oppose abortion! Why can't you see that?!".And then when the Hindu isn't convinced, the Calvinist gets angry and says "Any reasonable person could see that John Calvin opposes abortion. Therefore, you must … [Read more...]

Fending off near occasions of sin

Late last week, Xanthate asked: I got to ask, as a Christian, how do you feel comfortable watching media which frequently glamorises violence, non-married sex, and other sins? I’m a recent convert, and I’ve chosen not to watch/read this sort of stuff, so I’m interested to hear your thoughts. I don't watch much TV, just The Thick of It (for the vigorous and inventive invective) and Switched at Birth (for the ASL practise).  So I don't run into much sex on either show.  (Plenty of wrath-as-humor … [Read more...]

“Just one more thing” on LARPing

Via statistician Andrew Gelman's blog, this description of Columbo's method seemed like a nice example about how something like the LARPing exercise can return a negative result. Here’s what Columbo does. He hears the killer’s story and he takes it very seriously (it’s murder, and Columbo never jokes about murder), examines all its implications, and finds where it doesn’t fit the data. Then Columbo carefully examines the discrepancies, tries some model expansion, and eventually concludes that he … [Read more...]

You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits

nerf gun

Bob Seidensticker of Cross Examined (the one who sparked the discussion of the Atheist Prayer Experiment), put up a post earlier this week titled “I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You” where he talks about three groups of atheists. Let me quote the relevant part: Group 3. These are the well-informed atheists. They understand both sides of the ontological, teleological, cosmological, transcendental, fine-tuning, and moral arguments and more. They are at least well-educated amateurs on evo … [Read more...]