25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 15 and counting)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 15 and counting) March 21, 2019

Doesn’t time fly? It seems like forever since we checked in with our favorite sitcom, “Christians say the silliest things,” our list of stupid arguments Christians would do well to avoid.

We’ve blown past our initial goal of 25 arguments and are now at argument #46. If you want to start at the beginning, that’s here.

Stupid Argument #46: “God is like a father” and similar comparisons

We don’t see supernatural beings in daily life, so Christian apologists try to compare God to things we do see. In this blog, we’ve seen claims that God is like a father who gets angry when we make mistakes (here and here). God is like a child or an artist who deserves praise (here). Or maybe God is like a romantic partner (here).

Whenever I read such a comparison, I feel like a cat chasing paper tied to a string. As soon as I grab for the analogy to make sense of it, the apologist jerks it away and tells me that it’s not a perfect analogy.

No, it’s not a perfect analogy. It’s not even a good analogy. These comparisons fail because the most boring thing about the person God is compared to (he’s like a spouse, like a father, like a judge) is that that person exists.

A “God is like” analogy is a deepity: to the extent that it’s true, it’s trivial and unhelpful, and to the extent that it’s useful and insightful, it’s false.

More here.

Stupid Argument #47: Appeal to ego

This argument sounds like this: “Don’t be a wimp! You’re smart enough to weigh the evidence for evolution [or climate change or vaccinations or the Big Bang or some other scientific issue]. You don’t need scientists—figure this out yourself.”

An example of this is a long, fruitless discussion I had with Dr. Jay Wile about evolution here. He’s a scientist (nuclear chemistry), but he’s not a biologist. He can speak with authority in his field, but that’s no warrant to correct errors in other scientific fields. Nevertheless, he dumped on me his version of the Appeal to Ego:

If you are a lazy layperson who doesn’t want to think for him/herself, then you have no choice but to accept the scientific consensus. However, if you are a layperson who actually enjoys learning and thinking for him/herself, you can examine the evidence and come to your own conclusion.

Golly—my options apparently are to be an indolent puppet in the hands of my betters, or to stand like a man and decide for myself.

Or maybe there’s a third option: that sciences like biology are very specialized fields that I will always be an outsider to, and, as a result, I am obliged to accept science’s consensus view (where it exists) as the best approximation to the truth. That doesn’t mean that the consensus is necessarily right, just that it’s the layperson’s best bet.

That this is simply a desire for a more pleasing reality rather than a quest for the truth becomes clear when these tough-minded skeptics only challenge the science they don’t like—evolution, Big Bang, climate change, and so on. Their agenda shows when they let stand the science that is truly counterintuitive like Relativity or quantum mechanics.

Sometimes this is an attempt to bypass science. Science isn’t saying what they want to hear, so these armchair scientists bypass science and appeal directly to other laypeople. The Disco Institute is an Intelligent Design thinktank that does this. They don’t spend their money on unbiased research that might change the scientific consensus. They’ve already lost that war, so they write popular-level books and newsletters to appeal to individuals.

The most popular example that I come across is the typical fundamentalist attitude toward evolution. No ivory-tower geeks are going to shove nutty atheist science down the throats of these red-blooded Americans. And yet they accept Christianity! It would be nice if a little of that tough skepticism were applied to Christianity.

Or, we can look at it from the other side. Christians often tell atheists to drop their arrogance and have some humility, to admit they don’t know everything, and to open their minds to the possibility of the supernatural. The irony is when some of these Christians go on to push the Appeal to Ego, which is 190-proof arrogance.

More about the scientific consensus here and here.

Stupid Argument #48: Wishful thinking

The idea here is to adopt a worldview simply because it’s more pleasing than the one with the evidence. The SMBC comic above neatly illustrates this view with this syllogism:

If P is false, I will be sad;

I do not wish to be sad;

Therefore, P is true.

(h/t Greg G.)

Here’s a specific example. Atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell illustrated the Problem of Evil with the example of a dying child and asked how a good god could allow such a thing. Christian apologist Greg Koukl answered this way:

Christian philosopher William Lane Craig offered this response: “What is the atheist Bertrand Russell going to say when kneeling at the bed of a dying child? ‘Too bad’? ‘Tough luck’? ‘That’s the way it goes’?” No happy ending? No silver lining? Nothing but devastating, senseless evil?

What??? “No happy ending?” The child is dying! No, there’s no goddamn happy ending. (And notice that the original problem remains: they’ve offered no defense for why this would be part of an all-good god’s plan.)

An atheist comforting the dying child would do what a Christian would: read books or tell stories or remember happy events or in some way help the child feel comfortable and loved. The difference would be that the atheist wouldn’t handwave comfort, either for themselves or the child, through stories from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Greek myth of Hades, the Hindu idea of reincarnation, Christian heaven and hell, or whatever afterlife story happens to be popular in the local culture.

Koukl responds with claims about the Christian worldview—God is patient and merciful, God has a plan, and so on—without evidence, as if that counts for something. He skips over that messy supporting-evidence step and just takes his worldview as a given, claiming the win because he thinks his worldview is happier.

This is the Pragmatic Fallacy—some custom or practice is worthwhile because it makes me feel better, not because its claims are true. More here and here.

To be continued.

If your faith is so fragile
it cannot handle questions, doubts, and honest inquiry,
if it is so threatened by the full engagement of your heart & mind
it runs from potential challenges,
that’s not faith; it’s fear.
— Christian apologist Rachel Held Evans

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Image from SMBC, used with permission

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • epeeist

    I am reminded of this list on Strange Notions. My favourite is “There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore there must be a God”. Before I was banned there I posted a whole slew of YouTube videos of music from a variety of religions (and none) but of course none of it was proper religious music.

    EDIT: One of the pieces I posted was this one

    • Ficino

      Wow, Strange Notions is a very different place today. Now it’s largely a Thomist echo chamber with most of the content supplied by Dennis Bonnette.

      • Can you possibly point me to books which critically examine Thomism? I’m afraid that it’s Greek to me. Bonnette claims he can’t explain terms like “sensitive appetite” without weeks of course work. I find that a pretty damning statement really.

        • Ficino

          I can only think of Anthony Kenny’s The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (1969) and Aquinas (1980) as books written by someone with critical distance, who is not a Thomist. Unfortunately, most of the people who study Aquinas in enough depth to publish on him are themselves Thomists; other philosophers mostly ignore Thomism or pick up on Aquinas in narrowly defined areas.

          Combox warriors and bloggers like Feser and Bonnette will tell you that Kenny is too infected by analytic philosophy to understand Aquinas. This is the usual strategy, as I’m sure you’ve seen, i.e. when someone disagrees with Aquinas, reply that the person fails to understand Aquinas.

        • Michael Neville

          Aquinas has been described as the finest mind ever wasted. A thorough scholar, he devised his Five Proofs of God™ at great length and with rigor. However the god he’s “proving” is a deist deity but he automatically assumes that any existing god is his favorite pet god, which is special pleading.

          His massive Summa Theologica makes Das Kapital look like light beach reading. It is renowned as the epitome of Christian theology and philosophy by the Catholic church. The Summa is his point-by-point summation about who he thought God was and, as such, how the universe worked. His original seed thought, of God as the un-caused Cause, thus explodes into multiple volumes detailing most major tenets of faith upheld as dogma since then by the Vatican. An introductory text for Catholic theology students, it is considered one of the classics of the history of philosophy.

          The Summa was written with a mind both attuned to Scripture and to Aristotelian philosophy. It can be very difficult to understand without first understanding Aristotelian philosophical concepts such as “movement”, “potentiality”, and “actuality” (which, incidentally, play a major role in one of Aquinas’s arguments for the existence of God).

        • Ficino

          The Summa was written with a mind both attuned to Scripture and to Aristotelian philosophy. It can be very difficult to understand without first understanding Aristotelian philosophical concepts such as “movement”, “potentiality”, and “actuality” (which, incidentally, play a major role in one of Aquinas’s arguments for the existence of God).

          There are a good number of people who do understand those concepts. When they disagree with Aquinas, in my experience, they are told by the combox warriors that they simply fail to understand Aquinas.

        • Sample1

          Amongst the oodles of reasons for my deconversion from believing things irresponsibly, Aquinas gets a bit of that credit. His emphasis on following one’s conscience was the door to my escape from Catholicism. I’ve said it before, if I had to be born into a relgious indoctrination system, I’m thankful it was Catholicism over say Islam or Baptist.

          Just speculating but I think in some ways other brands of Christianity might make it more difficult to escape. Definitely the Amish types who live isolated. But more than isolation, in my experience, other brands don’t seem to foster philosophies or metaphysics and the skills that go with them. Skills that can be repurposed to critique the brand’s foundation itself. JWs are well known to be unattracted to public education or higher learning.

          Would be interesting to see a graph that displays which religions are most likely to have defectors go straight to atheism. I’m guessing Jews and Catholics are going to be, per capita, well represented. But I don’t know.

          Anyone have a graph? I’ve searched and can’t find a good one.

          Mike

        • One wonders what would happen if some of these Christian intellectual giants from centuries past were teleported as infants to the present and given a modern education.

        • Hard to say. If they had still been raised devout Christians, it still might have only a slight effect. There are theologians still after all.

        • Thanks. Yes, that seems common. Orwell once wrote that “the Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent”. That reminds me of this.

        • Pofarmer

          Thomism started dying as soon as it was finished. It died a death by a thousand philosphers.

        • Some few still hold out on their lonely ice floe.

        • Pofarmer

          Basically. No modern philosopher is going to mess with it,

        • From what I’ve read, it’s been rejected by most philosophy from at least the early 1600s, maybe earlier. Of course, that won’t stop them. Even with Christians though, it’s a fringe.

        • Pofarmer

          Not just rejected, supplanted, replaced. Thomism can’t predict anything. It’s literally useless.

        • That’s true, but of course they think that’s when it all went wrong. Yes, they say their philosophy is compatible to any scientific finding, which as you say really means its just unfalsifiable (despite making empirical claims, supposedly).

        • Greg G.

          It died a death by a thousand philosphers.

          !!!

      • dorcheat

        Yep, Strange Notions has more or less become a cob-web site. They post a new article at best these days only once every two weeks. Sometimes the times between articles approaches upwards of six weeks. I check on them about once a month these days by backdooring into Facebook (not logged into Facebook, mind you). If I find something of interest, I will read an article using Google Cache.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    the thing that amuses me about the ‘do your own research’ crowd is that if you actually buckle down and do the 10,000 odd hours of work to become an expert then you are no longer a layman, you are an expert, and if you did it honestly then you would almost certainly end up agreeing with the consensus as that is what all the other people qualified to contribute to the consensus did. They seem to think a couple of hours at google U gives them the intellectual right to challenge centuries of man hours of study and experimentation

    • eric

      I’m somewhat flabbergasted by Bob’s example. A nuclear chemist deals with radioactive isotopes as a matter of course. Dr. Wile should know about Oklo, about how isotopic dating works, and the thought of one of those guys being young earth…well it’s kind of like if (illustrative example only) we found out someone working in Lenski’s lab was a creationist. How do you do your day to day job and hold that belief? As you say – if you do the work, how do you not end up at the consensus result? Oh well, I guess fundamentalism knows no intellectual barriers…

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        witness the power of compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance, truly the human mind is an incredible thing,

      • And then you have positive examples, like Ken Miller (a Catholic biologist who was an important witness in the Dover case) and Francis Collins (evangelical biologist, head of Human Genome Project and now NIH). Maybe they compartmentalize.

      • NS Alito

        Sam Harris pointed out that a human mind can know how to build a nuclear bomb and still believe he’ll get 72 virgins in heaven.

      • Taneli Huuskonen
        • Excellent!

        • Michael Neville

          I read your link and thought of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous quote:

          Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

        • Greg G.

          Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but are encouraged to steal one from someone smarter.

    • Raging Bee

      And once you’ve committed yourself to becoming an expert, the “do your own research” crowd will just ignore you as one of the experts they don’t need advising them.

    • RichardSRussell

      You think Google U is bad? At least it’s free. Imagine how downhearted you’d feel if you’d spent thousands at Trump University for a worthless education.

      • Better: go to my alma mater. Our motto: “Get your doctorate online in minutes!” Beats the hell out of Harvard’s Veritas.

        http://thunderwoodcollege.com/

        • Michael Neville

          I like Thunderwood College. Their writeup on accreditation is actually quite good.

    • Great point. They don’t want you to be an expert but a shill.

    • skl

      On the other hand, a couple of hours at google U might be
      comparable to the modern 10,000 hour expert, when compared to 2,000 years of Christian
      teaching.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        do you even think how dumb your response is before you write it? i know it really bothers you that your holy book is not what you want it to be but that doesn’t change reality. And for clarity you don’t need 10,000 hours of study to know that magic is not real.

        • Ignorant Amos

          do you even think how dumb your response is before you write it?

          This is skl we’re talking about…so that would be a big fat negatory.

      • MadScientist1023

        Anyone who thinks that needs to look up Dunning-Kruger. A couple hours of Google might make someone who doesn’t know jack feel like an expert, but only because they don’t realize how shallow their understanding of the topic is. If you think you understand evolution, for instance, from a couple hours of googling, all you need to do to disabuse yourself of that notion is to read any article from Nature Ecology and Evolution. Ten minutes trying to understand one of those and you’ll realize how much you don’t understand about the subject.

        • al kimeea

          somehow I doubt ski will see it as his failure of understanding

        • MadScientist1023

          True. Assessing his open failures is not a strong suit of skl.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Stupid Argument #46: “God is like a father” and similar comparisons

    One of my favourites. Usually if one examines the analogy closely, one will see that it actually leads to the opposite conclusion from the one intended.

    For example: God lets bad things happen to us. This is like a parent who lets their children learn and grow. Why do parents do that? Because they are mortal and finite. They know that some day the children will have to be able to survive on their own. Is God going away, that we will have to do without him some day? Is He unable to foresee and deal with all the difficulties that we will face? It becomes obvious that God is not an actual existing being, but a larger-than-life projection of the ideal parent within the arguer’s mind.

    • Greg G.

      Good point. God is there for you “in spirit only” when you are young so he doesn’t have to be omnipresent for you when you are old.

      • Kodie

        Is this why my grandmother thinks she was forgotten?

    • Jennny

      There’s also the argument I hear from a female vicar I know. She thinks she has a god-given task to make the liturgy and prayers etc of the anglican church, inclusive in language. She’s evangelistic about using ‘mother god’ and the female pronoun. I think she had an abusive father, so understand a little where she’s coming from. But, like most x-tians who are sure they know the reason for their church’s decline, she’s sure that until inclusive language becomes the norm, folk won’t come back to church.

      I taught in a school in a poor area where kids came to school hungry and badly clothed cos dads, well,usually dads, had spent every penny on addictions the day before…so teaching RE, I kind of skirted around the loving fatherhood of god, though I was a x-tian back then, the concept, I felt, had such bad associations for some pupils. And though we made Mothers’ Day cards and gifts, we decided, reluctantly, not to mention Fathers’ Day, after some embarrassing encounters with ‘dads’ asking why the card their child made hadn’t been given to them but to another man. Or kids themselves asking ‘which dad should I give this to?’

      • wtfwjtd

        “But, like most x-tians who are sure they know the reason for their church’s decline, she’s sure that until inclusive language becomes the norm, folk won’t come back to church.”

        Lol, I think it’s going to take a little more than that around here to get folk back to church. It’s not that people don’t know what churches are selling; the problem is that people know full good and well what churches are selling, and the people just aren’t buying. It’s going to take a lot more than a band-aid like “inclusive language” to change that.

      • Greg G.

        But, like most x-tians who are sure they know the reason for their church’s decline, she’s sure that until inclusive language becomes the norm, folk won’t come back to church.

        That is probably more positive than the churches that are renaming themselves and leaving out “Baptist” while maintaining the Baptist theology because “Baptist” is what gives the church a bad name.

        • Jennny

          Yes, another idea, promoted as The Best Way of Halting Decline, a couple of years ago was that churches must ‘serve the community’.As a vicar said, unfortunate choice of slogan, community service is what you get instead of prison if convicted of certain offences. So some churches renamed themselves. They’d been ‘Xtown Baptist/Methodist’ for decades but were rebranded as ‘Xtown Community Church.’ And nope, didn’t bring folk flooding back!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      To me, “God is like a parent” seems to be a concession that God is not all-powerful or all-knowing or maybe not all-loving.

      As you point out, in parenting, we do things like let our kids learn from their mistakes. We teach them to ride a bike by letting go of the bike and letting them fall over if it comes to that. The reason we do that is because we aren’t able to teach them to ride a bike without letting them test their skills this way.

      As a loving father, if I could teach my child to ride a bike without ever having to crash in the process, you don’t think I would do it in a heartbeat? You damn straight I would. If I had the ability to do, so I would teach my kids to ride a bike without them ever crashing or getting hurt. However, not being omnipotent, I don’t have that ability. So I use the mortal approach.

      If I had the ability to teach my son to ride a bike without crashing and getting hurt, and I let him do it anyway, that’s not a loving parent, or an ideal parent. It’s being an asshole.

      So much of the God apologetics relies on the presumption that God is no more powerful than a mortal person. Granted, a lot of the old testament descriptions read that way, but is that really the position you want to argue from? That God is not all that powerful?

      • Kodie

        Once you’re into the metaphor, it’s probably hard to get out of it. The justifications for god resemble how people act. He won’t give you what you want, not because he can’t, but because it’s not what you actually need! God treats you like shit to evoke a positive response, just like abusive parents withholding love to get their children to beg them. Well, the people who wrote the bible didn’t have any better parenting theories than they had, so, the questions is, did they make god in their image as a parent, or did they learn to parent from the way they were parented by an absent, yet abusive, father figure? Mostly, I find it instructive to see they rationalize why “god” doesn’t make it easier for his followers (than anyone else, for example), God is the typical harsh father with high expectations and passive-aggression, so you keep groveling for his approval. When they accuse atheists of being fatherless or having a father who is absent, or weak in his authority, they really think that’s why we “want to be our own god”. What I think is that these are many grown men who are fathers themselves, but they cannot cope in life without another father above them. They cannot cope as adults who have to manage living and having a family without a parental figure to keep them in check.

      • wtfwjtd

        And if you ever actually been a parent, you know that the business of parenting is fraught with potential pitfalls, mistakes, and mess-ups. And for many of these, there’s no take-backs or do-overs. The reality is, there’s no reliable manual for parenting, and horrible mistakes are often made even with the best of intentions.
        Is this really the image that theists want to project for their god? It seems rather…short-sighted at best, and just down right ignorant, foolish, and simple-minded at its worst.

    • NS Alito

      Good analogies are informative and thought-provoking; bad analogies are like the Holocaust.

      • WTF?? Bad analogies are like the … ah, I see what you did there.

        • NS Alito

          😉

    • Ignorant Amos

      Also, human parents are not multi-omni, so must use the tools they’ve got to obtain the best outcome they can…at least if they care they do. YahwehJesus, supposedly, is under no such restrictions…so is either really fucking things up purposely, or likes things this way, and that means it is non-existent as described. Epic fail Christians.

      • wtfwjtd

        Great minds think alike Amos! I posted a similar comment to yours, just below, at about the same time you posted yours. As human parents, we aren’t infallible, or know what the future holds, how people are going to react, what unintended consequences our actions might have, and so forth. God supposedly has no such limitations, and yet he still manages to cock things up rather badly, and on a regular basis at that. Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but Christians consistently cherry-pick only the positive outcomes while ignoring all the horrible ones.

        “Epic fail” indeed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed, I wasn’t a perfect parent and made plenty of mistakes I wish I hadn’t. If I knew everything and could do anything, that would never have been a problem I’d have encountered. I’m trying to reduce those mistakes with my grandchildren.

          God is nothing but a mind virus.

          The God virus fucks people right up.

  • Raging Bee

    Stupid Argument #46: “God is like a father”…

    …and not a good one either, or even a middling one. This is an AMAZINGLY stupid argument for Christians to use, since a plain reading of the Bible will tell us that God is one of the most abusive, capricious, narcissistic, abusive, neglectful fathers imaginable. I had a pretty decent dad, so it’s kinda hard for me to worship, or even take seriously, a God who isn’t even as wise as my dad.

  • RichardSRussell

    I see that Bob has illustrated this essay with a cartoon from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Zach Weiner-Smith’s intelligent and funny take on life in general, science and religion in particular. If you like Cross Examined, you owe it to yourself to bookmark http://www.smbc-comics.com and check it daily. (It doesn’t come out only on Saturday mornings.) You’ll be glad you did.

    • Greg G.

      There is always a pop-up comment when you mouseover the cartoon, or press and hold with a cell phone. Then there is another related joke when you push the big, red button below the bottom right corner. If there are any other side jokes I don’t know about, please tell me.

      • Kodie

        I have to say, if you like it on facebook, you almost never see a new comic, but if you interact with the ones in your newsfeed, it will take over your newsfeed. I still haven’t unliked it, and I’ve found a lot of them not actually worth it. They post something like 20x per day on facebook, and if it’s old enough, there is not always a pop-up comment when you mouse over the cartoon. I want to say that might have started some time in 2012 or 2013.

        • Greg G.

          I have only used a browser, never Facebook, to visit it. I get Bizarro on Instagram, though.

        • Kodie

          My instagram is work instagram, just keeps it easy. SMBC floods the fb newsfeed, and I can’t stop looking – they make you click through to see the whole strip most of the time, the mouseover and the red button. If you click on content, fb thinks you want more of that in your feed and less of something else you probably like too. I complained a couple times they post something like 19 comics per day – and never a recent one! I can count maybe on one hand the times I’ve clicked through and seen the most recent one. I might unlike it soon, because, as prolific as they are, I have seen several more than once, and surely missed many they never repost. I go to the site to read the full comic, any mouseovers, and the red button, and that’s it. I don’t get sucked in to start at the beginning or the end and go backwards. I had xkcd bookmarked on my old laptop too, and, up to a point, I think I read all of them, but it gets pretty boring and overwhelming after a while, and you just can’t stop the “one more, one more, ok, just one more”. Same thing with the Far Side books and, when I was about 10, Garfield. It’s not like a tv show if you miss one, you don’t know what’s happening, but you feel like you’re going to miss the funniest or most spot-on one if you stop. I feel like I’m not going to be complete if I don’t click on that stupid fb SMBC panel and get the punchline, it’s devious, I might unlike it altogether. They don’t need to post that much and manipulate me in a way I start hating myself for loving it so much. You know?

        • Greg G.

          My Google News app on my phone provides a good variety of article to read except it get hung up on something. Before I went on vacation, everyday, there was an article about Jada Pinkett Smith. I don’t have anything against her and have enjoyed her work but I got tired of a new article everyday. Now it is that woman who started Theranos everyday, even articles about her using a fake voice. Did I click on an article once? I don’t recall doing so. /venting over

        • Kodie

          Does it have the same email as something else you use to comment? Like, if I ask you what the fuck is Theranos, yes, the cookies are following you, and now they’re going to follow me. I don’t even use this email for anything else, but it’s munching cookies all over my computer and leaving crumbs.

        • Greg G.

          I am sure I never had Jada or Pinkett in my emails but I doubt if Smith would trigger it.

        • Kodie

          The place I work tried advertising and it was explained to me, the ads follow you around, even if you don’t click on them. Someone told me about a brand of thing I never heard of, and I googled it and read a review on an unrelated website, and now I see the ads for that brand thing on my facebook and iphone and every-goddamn-where. They have sniffed my curiosity as interest in buying something I can’t really afford, and don’t believe the claims. Algorithms for the things facebook thinks I want to be advertised about… I mean, if I know I didn’t follow a page and it’s taking up space in my newsfeed, I automatically hate that thing and promise never to click nn it or buy it. Occasionally, I get furious enough to complain about it, and get an AI response, thank you for reporting a violation of our terms, we will look into it. Is this helpful?

          Also, I google “what the fuck is… ?” a lot, and it always knows what I mean, and never misunderstands what I meant by “fuck” in the sentence by showing me porn links. I see or hear about a lot of weird things, and of course google it. I don’t always use this format when it’s something normal, but when it’s something fucked up, I want to fucking know what the fuck that fucking thing is. Someone at google expected that to happen, or programmed the algorithm to learn that that may happen.

        • Apologies if you’ve heard this one before: I heard about a Christian commenter at an atheist site who said something like, “I see lots of ads, and some for gay porn. I shoulda known–you guys are hellbound moral deviants” and blah, blah, blah.

          Someone broke the news to him that the kind of ads you see are largely because of the cookies on your computer (that is, because of what you’ve been looking at), not because of the site you visit.

          The Christian wasn’t heard from again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s still hilarious even though I have heard it before.

          Before I was aware that was how advertisers target individuals, I couldn’t figure out why I was getting so many ads for all sorts of woo-woo, religious included. Obviously it was based on my browsing patterns and the shit I was searching for in support of particular discussions.

          The Christian wasn’t heard from again.

          I’m reminded of The Wide Mouthed Frog Joke and the legendary Dave Allen version…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct69mx1Ozc8

      • Grimlock

        I did not know about the big red button. That’s awesome!

        • Greg G.

          I read SMBC for years but only found out about it a few months ago. I am still trying to catch up.

  • Rational Human

    “If you are a lazy layperson who doesn’t want to think for him/herself, then you have no choice but to accept the (religious dogma). However, if you are a layperson who actually enjoys learning and thinking for him/herself, you can examine the evidence and come to your own conclusion.”

  • Jane Ravenswood

    #46 is always a good one. this god is the most abusive SOB in writing.

    • NS Alito

      Most abusive, perhaps, but Kali is probably the toughest.

  • NS Alito

    Stupid Argument #47: Appeal to ego
    He’s a scientist (nuclear chemistry), but he’s not a biologist. He can speak with authority in his field, but that’s no warrant to correct errors in other scientific fields.

    That’s just a faintcy name for a type of physicist, and therefore gives me an excuse to post from xkcd.com/793:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e28cdf056e13e0b0a0153d21a94aa2e32184aaac5f81610da60e62baa63a0de5.png

    • Apparently, Feynman did some biology from first principles. I read something from a biologist he bounced his ideas off of. IIRC, the biologist said that all the correct observations of Feynman would’ve been in a freshman biology textbook. Impressive as an intellectual project, perhaps, but nothing that would advance the frontier of biology.

      • NS Alito

        He is forgiven.

      • Sample1

        As an aside, David Deutsch
        (“father” of quantum computation) tells a story about meeting Feynman. Deutsch formulated the first quantum computer algorithm and as he began to explain the basics to Feynman, Richard told him to stop and say no more. He then went to a chalkboard and wrote down in minutes what Deutsch took months to figure out.

        All this is to say that I’m not sure what to conclude from that biologist’s observation. Was Dick being coy? Feynman was very interested in biology, devoting a year of study to it in the 50s focusing on molecular biology and later on genetics. It caught the eye of Crick, who has cited Feynman’s biological work.

        I don’t like hero worship but Feynman is up there. An extraordinary mind and yes, a goofy one too. The best mix. 🙂

        Mike
        https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.03854.pdf

  • Dr Sarah

    I’m a layperson who enjoys learning and thinking for myself. I therefore thought for myself about creationist claims, figured there were probably some scientific explanations out there, and started looking into the subject so that I could learn about it for myself. As a result, I discovered that the claims I was reading invariably either had satisfactory explanations that fitted with established scientific models, and/or involved downright fact-twisting in clear attempts to mislead. I thought about this evidence for myself, and drew the conclusion that creationists were not a source of information that could be trusted, and that I needed to take any future claims from them with a really large pinch of salt.

    I definitely recommend this learning and thinking for yourself business. It has served me well so far.

    • Your problem is that you didn’t stay in the Creationist echo chamber. If you did, you’d be a happy, mindless Creationist, certain that evolution was a conspiracy.

  • Michael Neville

    Re #47, I read the discussion between you and Dr. Wile. Just about the first thing I read was Wile calling Judge Jones, who decided the Kitzmiller-Dover case, “lazy”. Jones’ decision was 137 pages long. That’s not a sign of laziness. Sorry, Wile, not impressed.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Or maybe there’s a third option: that sciences like biology are very specialized fields that I will always be an outsider to, and, as a result, I am obliged to accept science’s consensus view (where it exists) as the best approximation to the truth. That doesn’t mean that the consensus is necessarily right, just that it’s the layperson’s best bet.

    Bob, you can function as a scientist. – – – Anyone can.
    Scientific skepticism is similar to the political and religious skepticism that you make use of in your blog.

    The way to stay grounded in scientific discovery is to develop a sense of probability.
    When you have a little bit of evidence and you think that you understand its implications, then you should believe your conclusions just a little. As evidence grows and your understanding of what that evidence means increases, then your confidence in the conclusions should grow in proportion.

    In other words, practice sitting on the fence.
    This might take some practice for some folks who don’t do much scientific thinking.
    Your degree of confidence or certainty should always be greater than 0% sure and less than 100% sure.
    Remain somewhere between those limits.

    As a child in the 1950s, I has science textbooks which led us to believe that the continents we see on Earth had been permanent fixtures for billions of years.
    This seemed to be true, and I didn’t give it much thought.

    I remember an occasion where I was daydreaming (school lessons were pretty often boring to me) as I looked at the large world map on the wall.
    And I noticed that the east coast of South America was shaped like the west coast of Africa.
    Like a jigsaw puzzle.
    That’s odd, I thought, is this a coincidence?
    What could explain this surprising geometry?
    An interesting discovery.

    Asimov:
    ” The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries,
    is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ “

    • Bob, you can function as a scientist. – – – Anyone can.

      Agreed. Now tell me how I can have a warrant to discard the scientific consensus.

      Scientific skepticism is similar to the political and religious skepticism that you make use of in your blog.

      I’m just talking about the scientific consensus.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Agreed. Now tell me how I can have a warrant to discard the scientific consensus.

        Firstly, always regard scientific consensus carefully and with skepticism.
        Consider it to be more than zero percent likely to be true and less than one hundred percent likely to be true. That’s what competent scientists do.

        Secondly, the scientific consensus that you are talking about is your own perception of what the consensus really is. You might be wrong.
        People with more scientific knowledge than you might have a somewhat different consensus in mind.

        The consensus that Newton’s laws of motion were perfectly accurate and precise turned out to be false.
        The search for truth is full of surprises.

        • Firstly, always regard scientific consensus carefully and with skepticism.

          Why? The consensus may be wrong, but I’m certainly not going to be the one who corrects that error. That’s why we have the experts in that particular field.

          Consider it to be more than zero percent likely to be true and less than one hundred percent likely to be true.

          Yup.

          Secondly, the scientific consensus that you are talking about is your own perception of what the consensus really is. You might be wrong.

          I’m assuming that we have an accurate view of the consensus, but sure, we need to make sure that the poll or survey or other source is correct.

          The consensus that Newton’s laws of motion were perfectly accurate and precise turned out to be false.

          In the first place, they weren’t false, they were just incomplete. You can get to the moon and back with Newton’s laws as is, so they’re pretty useful. Relativistic corrections are rarely needed in everyday situations.

          And in the second, yes, there were surprises, but so what? You know that now because that’s the scientific consensus. If, before Relativity, you’d said, “Let’s not get too comfortable with Newton’s laws; who knows what surprises science will give us?” that would’ve been correct but unhelpful. You’re still going with the consensus as the best bet laymen have.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “In the first place, they weren’t false, they were just incomplete.”

          You got that wrong.
          I said that the consensus was false, not the details of Newton’s theory.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Did the relevant scientists consensus say that it knew with absolute certainty that Newton’s theory was complete and the issue was now moot?

          It is not because of the sheer number of scientists. After all, science is not conducted by poll. As Albert Einstein said in response to a 1931 book skeptical of relativity theory entitled 100 Authors against Einstein, “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.”

          https://michaelshermer.com/2015/12/consilience-and-consensus/

          Even at that, the consensus wasn’t false. It was correct until it was shown to be incomplete. And even if the consensus was demonstrated to have been wrong with superseding better data, the layperson should still be expected to go with the scientific consensus.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “The consensus that Newton’s laws of motion were perfectly accurate and precise turned out to be false.”

          That was the consensus that turned out to be false.
          The agreement between the formulas and experiment was seemingly perfect for the laboratory tests.

          It wasn’t until Newton’s laws were applied to the measurements from celestial observations that small errors were discovered.

          Eventually all sorts of data came in regarding objects traveling at very high speeds. Then the lack of precision became more obvious.

          It then fell to Einstein and others to come up with formulas and explanations as to what adjustments in Newton’s formulas were needed.

          Einstein did not come up with his math and his explanations just because he was so smart. He was in the right place at the right time. The data were there to show the scientific world that some new explanation was needed to give additional precision to Newton’s formulas. Einstein provided that new explanation.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That was the consensus that turned out to be false.

          You haven’t demonstrated your conjecture.

          “The consensus that Newton’s laws of motion were perfectly accurate and precise turned out to be false.”

          That is, that there was a “consensus” that Newton’s laws of motion were “perfectly” accurate and precise.

          But the problem we are trying to explain to your dumb arse is that it doesn’t even matter. The consensus of fucking experts in the field of physics believing it was the best explanation of the data at the time is the best we have. A know nothing about the subject isn’t going to overturn the consensus of experts in any field of expertise.

          The agreement between the formulas and experiment was seemingly perfect for the laboratory tests.

          And with nothing else to go on, a non expert will still be a stupid cunt for challenging those tests while having fuck all better. Newton wasn’t false at the time. It requires better data that explains everything on the table and more. Newton wasn’t so much wrong, as he wasn’t completely right. As far as I’m aware, Einstein had to make sure his work covered Newton’s and then some. No consensus of experts thought Einsteins work was “perfectly accurate” either…even Einstein himself apparently. But as far as both scientists work was applied to real life applications, it has worked and is useful, so not false.

          And this is how I know you are talking ballix. You rely on the the consensus of the scientific world all the time and never question it once. If you didn’t, and questioned everything, you’d fail to function as a rational human being.

          All the rest of that blah, blah, blah, you’ve rattled out is irrelevant. You’ve been told a number of times already that science is provisional, based on the data available at any given time. The consensus is therefore reliant on such, but knows this state of affairs already. Nevertheless, knuckle-dragging fuckwits with no expertise in a given subject have no other alternative other than to run with the consensus of experts. Ya don’t have to be a genius to know that if you need a brain tumor removed, ya don’t go to a burger flipper at Mackie Dee’s. Stop being a contrary fuckwit. You use the scientific worlds consensus, even if it turns out to be superseded, like all the rest of us, and ya know it.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are babbling.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No it’s YOU that’s babbling…that you can’t see that, is part of the problem…your problem.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “If, before Relativity, you’d said, “Let’s not get too comfortable with Newton’s laws; who knows what surprises science will give us?” that would’ve been correct but unhelpful. ”

          Correct and helpful at the same time.
          Scientific skepticism and open-mindedness is part of the reason that Einstein was able to discover what he discovered, and a part of the reason that both the scientific communities and the public adopted and made use of Relativity.

        • Correct and helpful at the same time.

          Correct and obvious. I’m struggling to find a situation where we disagree.

          While you’re thinking about that, here’s my example: let’s imagine that it’s 1926, 10 years after Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and all physicists think that it’s crap (I realize it didn’t work that way in reality). You’re a layman living at that time, and you know all this. What should your position be on Relativity? Focus on the areas where you and I would disagree.

        • Chuck Johnson

          What should your position be on Relativity?

          I can’t predict where you and I would disagree.
          You tell me.

          Here is the proper attitude for a science-educated layman who knows science in general, but doesn’t specifically know Relativity theory:

          Curiosity.
          What’s all the controversy about ?

          Then if he is interested in Relativity, that example layman will try to understand the details that Einstein writes about, and try to understand any details that any scientist sympathetic to the Relativity theory might have written about.

          Reading the work of physicists who think that it’s crap is also vital to try to understand the controversy.

          Conversations with other people who are curious about Relativity are also useful.

          Then the proper level of belief in Relativity would be an evolving belief, or an evolving disbelief in the correctness of Relativity theory.

          Credibility grows in proportion to increases in understanding how Relativity works and how Relativity agrees with empirical data.

          Doubt grows when theoretical objections seem to be valid or when experiment and observation seem to make Relativity unable to explain the results.

          Patience is also needed.
          Relativity theory is complicated and sophisticated science.
          The observed phenomena are often cutting-edge empirical science.

          The scientific community will eventually provide better guidance for understanding Relativity.

          Einstein himself will be obliged to answer the objections of those scientists who who say the theory is crap.

          In this way, the scientifically-educated layman can enjoy the unfolding show as Relativity gets publicly tested and discussed.

          If the layman is scientifically clueless, then it’s best to just watch the public controversy and offer no personal opinion.

          Unless at this point, Relativity is so interesting that he decides to educate himself and is willing to gradually become a scientifically-educated person.

          Meanwhile, empirical data will continue to be gathered.
          This is important.
          Because if it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.

        • Then if he is interested in Relativity, that example layman will try to understand the details that Einstein writes about, and try to understand any details that any scientist sympathetic to the Relativity theory might have written about.
          Reading the work of physicists who think that it’s crap is also vital to try to understand the controversy.
          Conversations with other people who are curious about Relativity are also useful.
          Then the proper level of belief in Relativity would be an evolving belief, or an evolving disbelief in the correctness of Relativity theory.

          So he should decide for himself and ignore the consensus of the people who truly know the field?

          The scientific community will eventually provide better guidance for understanding Relativity.

          How is this relevant? Maybe you can explain what this means.

          In this way, the scientifically-educated layman can enjoy the unfolding show as Relativity gets publicly tested and discussed.

          “The show” isn’t what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the most sensible route a layman should take. When the laymen is so well educated that he’s a member of the scientific community, that’s another story, so let’s set that aside. We then have a layman who’s so undereducated that he’s not part of the scientific community. I can still find no option for him but to accept the scientific consensus.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The scientific community will eventually provide better guidance for understanding Relativity.

          How is this relevant? Maybe you can explain what this means.

          It means that since you have given me both a hypothetical Einstein and a hypothetical community of scientists, I have no way of knowing in this hypothetical scenario who is correct, the Einstein character or the Physicists characters.

          But here is the scientific bottom line:
          When the controversies are finally sorted out, the winner will be the scientist who has the best idea about Relativity.

          If Einstein’s explanation fits the empirical data best, he will win.
          If the Physicists have the best explanations, then Relativity will be proven to be false, or at best just partially true.

          This is like saying that the universe has the final say.
          All scientific ideas have to be empirically verified to continue to be regarded as being true.

        • Background: my thought experiment was this: “Imagine that it’s 1926, 10 years after Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and all physicists think that it’s crap (I realize it didn’t work that way in reality). You’re a layman living at that time, and you know all this. What should your position be on Relativity?”

          It means that since you have given me both a hypothetical Einstein and a hypothetical community of scientists, I have no way of knowing in this hypothetical scenario who is correct, the Einstein character or the Physicists characters.

          Laymen never know whether the maverick or the scientific consensus is correct since science is always provisional.

          Since no one can ever know for sure, your challenge is to pick the one that’s most likely to be true. So which is it: is it the consensus view of science or the maverick? Consider the last 1000 instances of a maverick vs. the consensus–which would be the smarter bet?

          When the controversies are finally sorted out, the winner will be the scientist who has the best idea about Relativity.

          You keep coming back to meta comments about science overall. That’s not our topic. You have just one question to answer. Focus.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It means follow the First Rule of Trapezes: Don’t let go of what you’ve got UNTIL YOU’VE GOT A HOLD ON SOMETHING ELSE.

          Trapeze artists have a net…Reality often doesn’t.

        • Kodie

          As a child in the 1950s, I’m sure Chuck Johnson is familiar with the old gas station maps, too. Since then, a lot of the roads have changed, that’s why they printed updates to the road maps and atlases every year. If that’s all you had, you did ok. If that’s all you have now, you will probably still be able to get from one place to another. But let’s even say google maps or waze is your go-to. Those are also out of date over time, but at least as far as I know, waze is crowd-sourced (it depends on how many drivers in your area are willing or able to contribute to the current conditions). New local laws prohibit some traffic on side streets if you don’t live there, due to residential complaints of congestion and speeding. If you are a little out of date, a GPS that you bought 8 years ago might also be ok. Roads and bridges are constructed, and sometimes towns are wiped off the map. It might tell you stores are where they aren’t anymore, and not be able to tell you McDonald’s moved across the street, and you have to recalculate a lot more than you were planning if you wanted to stop there. It would probably be more difficult to navigate with a map much older than the 1940s anymore in most places, but using the sun as a guide, if you know which direction you need to go and what time it is, can still get you by in a lot of situations, if you need to find your way badly enough. I wouldn’t use it to find the nearest emergency room or to find the office where you have a meeting at 2:00, but you can walk across the country if you weren’t in a hurry.

          Does that make the sun wrong? Occasionally, it’s not there, like at night, so you’re fucked for a couple of hours, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

        • Lark62

          Learning more is not the same as discarding evidence learned to date.

          We did not chuck the Heliocentric Theory of the Solar System when Pluto was discovered. We added to our understanding. And when Kuiper Belt objects were discovered and Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet, we did not return to the “Apollo Pulls the Sun With His Chariot” Theory.

          What was debunked stayed debunked.

          Adding to our scientific knowledge /= discarding scientific knowledge.

          The fact tgat there is more to learn is not an excuse for rejecting what we already know.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Newtonian mechanics is always taught in schools before Relativistic mechanics is taught.
          Relativity makes no sense until the foundation that it rests upon is understood.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why? If that foundation is so wrong?

          Wait….because it isn’t so wrong. A consensus of scientists believe that at a particular level it is very useful. So useful in fact, that they used it to get human beings to the moon and back.

          Newtonian physics can explain the structure of much of the visible universe with high accuracy. Although scientists have known since the early twentieth century that it is a less accurate description of the physical world than relativity theory and quantum physics, corrections required for objects larger than atoms that move significantly slower than light are negligible. Since Newtonian physics is also mathematically simple, it remains the standard for calculating the motions of almost all objects from machine parts, fluids, and bullets to spacecraft, planets, and galaxies.

        • Greg G.

          Newtonian mechanics are accurate enough to put a robotic mobile science station on another planet but not accurate enough to do GPS on your phone.

      • Chuck Johnson

        I’m just talking about the scientific consensus.

        Science is not completely different from politics and religions.
        Science has better truth to offer (usually), but science is not a suitable thing to worship. Worship would be its downfall.

        There are many Christians who will tell you that it has been scientifically proven that Darwinian evolution is bunk.

        The scientific proof that they refer to turns out to be Christian apologetics disguised to look like science. But they really did think that they were learning science at the time.

        No one is immune to error, ignorance or fraud.
        Richard Feynman was especially resistant to being fooled.

        • Science has better truth to offer (usually), but science is not a suitable thing to worship.

          And science is different from public policy. “Raising taxes is the correct action to take” isn’t something you say true or false to. It depends on what your goals are. That’s different from a claim about nature—a law, theory, or observation.

          There are many Christians w ho will tell you that it has been scientifically proven that Darwinian evolution is bunk.

          True, but we don’t get the scientific consensus by polling Creationists, Christians, or even the general public. It’s a meritocracy, and we laymen don’t count.

          No one is immune to error, ignorance or fraud.

          You keep saying that, and I keep wondering what your point is. Yes, science is provisional, but so what? It’s still the case that laymen have no warrant by which to reject the scientific consensus as our best bet for the truth. Maybe the consensus is wrong, and when we discover that, the consensus will change, and so will those laymen’s view.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You seem to think that when it comes to science, there are there are two kinds of people: Laymen and Real Scientists.

          That’s a false belief.
          Expertise is always a matter of degree, a sliding scale.
          A person’s competence will sometimes turn out to be much more than expected, and sometimes much less than expected.

        • Give me an example of a current scientific consensus (I’m only interested in an overwhelming consensus) that you think we (or you) shouldn’t accept.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You said “consensus”, but here (instead) is something that you told me many months ago is a scientific fact:

          “Quantum mechanics shows us that there are effects that can be observed that have no cause.”

          That’s what you told me, but was not convinced, and I am not presently convinced. It sounds like superstition to me.

          I told you that some observed quantum mechanical effects have no present explanation. You replied that the effects not only had no explanation, they also had no cause.

          Effects that can happen without any cause are not a part of science.
          Effects that can happen with unknown causes certainly are a part of science.

        • here (instead) is something that you told me many months ago is a scientific fact:
          “Quantum mechanics shows us that there are effects that can be observed that have no cause.”

          Not really. The Copenhagen interpretation (which includes not every effect having a cause) is the most popular interpretation within QM (though I don’t know if it’s the consensus).

          That’s what you told me, but was not convinced, and I am not presently convinced. It sounds like superstition to me.

          Just this?? Heck, pretty much all of QM sounds like complete bullshit to me. That doesn’t change the fact that the evidence argues that it’s correct, and it’s the scientific consensus. So we laymen are stuck with it as our best guess.

          I told you that some observed quantum mechanical effects have no present explanation. You replied that the effects not only had no explanation, they also had no cause.

          Right—the Copenhagen interpretation says that the cause isn’t as yet unknown; it says that there is no cause.

          Effects that can happen without any cause are not a part of science.

          Yeah, and quantum entanglement isn’t part of science, either. And yet it is. Common sense isn’t a useful tool, I’m afraid.

        • Michael Neville

          If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics. –Richard Feynman

        • Chuck Johnson

          The Copenhagen interpretation consists mostly of controversy and confusion.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_interpretation

          Acceptance among physicists[edit]
          Throughout much of the twentieth century the Copenhagen interpretation had overwhelming acceptance among physicists. Although astrophysicist and science writer John Gribbin described it as having fallen from primacy after the 1980s,[43] according to a very informal poll (some people voted for multiple interpretations) conducted at a quantum mechanics conference in 1997,[44] the Copenhagen interpretation remained the most widely accepted specific interpretation of quantum mechanics among physicists. In more recent polls conducted at various quantum mechanics conferences, varying results have been found.[45][46][47] In a 2017 article, physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg states that the Copenhagen interpretation “is now widely felt to be unacceptable.”[48]

          But these are side issues.
          Show me, Bob what makes you think that effects exist that have no cause.

          Science has depended for centuries, if not thousands of years upon the understanding that all effects have causes, and those causes are the foundation of scientific investigations.

          Mysteries within the realm of quantum mechanics does not undo the longstanding association of cause-and-effect within science.

          Cause-and effect is empirical science.

        • The Copenhagen interpretation consists mostly of controversy and confusion.

          I don’t care about the Copenhagen interpretation. I was just trying to help you out with the curious idea of actions not having causes.

          But these are side issues.

          Correct. The issue is that you think that, in certain circumstances, a layperson is entitled to reject the scientific consensus. I disagree and am waiting for an example to illustrate this.

          So far, you’ve written much about how scientific inquiry works, and I believe I accept all of it. None of it addressed the issue.

          Show me, Bob what makes you think that effects exist that have no cause.

          ?? This is a side issue.

          Science has depended for centuries, if not thousands of years upon the understanding that all effects have causes, and those causes are the foundation of scientific investigations.

          Science has depended for thousands of years that lots of things within quantum physics don’t happen, and yet they do. Who cares what people in a Middle World thought about quantum effects when they had no knowledge of them until a century ago? Why are you hung up on just this one? You’re quite happy with quantum superposition or quantum entanglement, I’m guessing, and they’re also counterintuitive.

          If your common sense is offended by a scientific discovery, update your common sense or corral it somehow.

        • Chuck Johnson

          If your common sense is offended by a scientific discovery, update your common sense or corral it somehow.

          There are no scientific discoveries that show us that there are effects that have no cause.

          It is apparently your personal opinion that there are effects that have no cause. Show us the proof for this opinion of yours.

        • The Copenhagen interpretation isn’t the topic.

          Where I come from, the usual response to being informed of something new and interesting is “Thank you.” Don’t waste my time whining about it again.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You made the Copenhagen interpretation a part of the topic, I did not.
          I just followed your own arguments.

          You might thank me for telling you that all effects have causes.
          But this is something that you do not want to believe.

          But I do not “thank you” for showing me how gullible and scientifically ignorant you are.
          To me, this is a very negative thing.
          Not a thing to be thankful for.

        • You made the Copenhagen interpretation a part of the topic, I did not.

          Nope. You seemed to be unaware of it, so I pointed it out to you. That doesn’t mean that it becomes the central point of the conversation.

          If you don’t like to be informed of new information, let me know and I’ll make a note. For most people, it’s a good thing.

          You might thank me for telling you that all effects have causes.

          Thanks, Aristotle. But I’m afraid ancient common sense doesn’t always hold in the face of modern scientific discoveries.

          But this is something that you do not want to believe.

          I’m happy to believe it—show me that it’s the scientific consensus. Remember how this works?

        • Chuck Johnson

          You created the “effects with no cause” story and then you believed it.

        • Right–I made up that whole Copenhagen interpretation thing. You caught me.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “If you don’t like to be informed of new information, let me know and I’ll make a note. For most people, it’s a good thing.”

          Very good.
          The new information needed now is: is where can we find the words of scientists who tell us that there are effects which have no cause ?

        • Cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin said:

          If there was nothing before the universe popped out, then what could have caused the tunneling? Remarkably, the answer is that no cause is required. In classical physics, causality dictates what happens from one moment to the next, but in quantum mechanics the behavior of physical objects is inherently unpredictable and some quantum processes have no cause at all.

          Source

        • Chuck Johnson

          I am familiar with Vilekin’s scientific quackery.
          Hawking and Krauss promote the same kind of quackery.

          It’s very similar to “effect with no cause”.
          It’s a universe that emerges from emptiness.
          It’s a modern superstition.
          Too similar the the Genesis creation story.
          It’s a miraculous answer to a scientific question.
          Not just unscientific, but also anti-scientific.

        • How lucky for us that we have you to correctly interpret physics for us.

        • MR
        • Which gets us back to the image that accompanies this post. Just let P = the “Law” of Causation is false.

          https://wp-media.patheos.com/blogs/sites/253/2019/03/sad.jpg

        • Chuck Johnson

          It’s the quackery that I am interpreting.

          If you want interpretations of physics, there are many resources on the internet, you don’t need me for that.

          You have told us that you don’t understand the physics yourself.
          So you keep confusing physics with the pseudoscience of quacks.
          You wouldn’t know the difference.

        • you keep confusing physics with the pseudoscience of quacks.

          And that’s where you come in. I’m sure you’ll dispense your judgment. How lucky for us to have you around.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I already did dispense my judgement.
          You told us here in the comments section that you do not understand physics, so I didn’t explain any further.

          Without understanding physics, you apparently rely upon fame and reputation to decide who has credible science.

          I rely upon my understanding of science to decide which person might be a scientist or a quack.

          You and I are approaching this problem very differently.

          Also, I’ll add another bit of scientific quackery: Michio Kaku’s String Theory.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What method do you use to separate quackery from Chuck Johnston fuckkwittery?

          Being an atheist is no commendation for being a self proclaimed rational human being. I’ve engaged with self proclaimed “no god” believers that have believed in UFO’s being the result of extraterrestrial alien intervention and others that think AGW denial is pukka.

          Also, I’ll add another bit of scientific quackery: Michio Kaku’s String Theory.

          You really can’t see the irony in such a sentence.

          Is that a “consensus” opinion, “absolute certainty” opinion, or a “dickhead Chuck Johnson” opinion?

          Do the atheist community a favour and fuck away off to the theists with your like minded arseholiness Muppet thinking, you are a complete embarrassment to the the normally sensible thinking side.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You wouldn’t know the difference.

          How do you know the difference? What method do you use?

          How do you know what is quackery or pseudoscience and what isn’t?

          How do you know what drugs are safe to take with “absolute certainty”, or do you just “sit on the fence” when you and your’s need medical attention?

        • Greg G.

          Doctors are sometimes wrong so you should sit on the fence when you get the diagnosis and not bother to fill the prescription.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Mate, I know full well…if there is anyone on this site that knows this, it’s fucking well me.

          Back in 1991 I was accused of murdering my wife, the mother of my my two babies. It was reduced to manslaughter by the time a got to trial. But long story short, I was acquitted and two doctors were found guilty of negligence, though a slapped wrist was all they got. A third, radiographer, was just a lazy bastard….given the wee hours of the morning and the inconvenience and such, and the symptoms….a fat fuck off was okay apparently.

          Doctors are wrong all the fucking time…. they are human beings that make mistakes all the time…what ta fuck….do we give up n consensus?I still go to the doctor…I’m far more apprehensive, but I’m not an expert, so know no better.

          This week, when my wee two year old granddaughter who has got the chickenpox at the minute, says to me, “Granda, get yer finger out, get into that kitchen” because I know where the ice-cream is, I take the better judgement of the experts that I have reduced confidence in, because they know more than me.

          I got a call two nights ago to attend the A&E where my boy was undergoing treatment after being retrieved from a house fire. His best pal had been killed in a vehicle accident early on Saturday morning on the way to work…my lad was supposed to be with him. Had the pal called to pick my boy up, he wouldn’t have been on the bit of road he was killed.

          Junior is devastated. I had to go retrieve him from A&E two nights ago. He went on a bender and “Apparently” put the chip pan on and fell asleep. The house burnt down and it was an act of luck that the medics, fire brigade, and police, saved him from being toast.

          Long story short…ave just watched Ricky Gervais new series back to back on Netflix and it is reminiscent of me 30 years ago…including the drug taking. I’m going to recommend it ma lad….he was 18 months old when his Ma past.

          Btw…it’s 4:04 a.m. here and am as you’d like me….pished as a fart.

          I guess what am saying is, I still rely on the medical professionals even though they are problematic, because I, in an emergency, have no worthwhile fucking idea.

          Too much burbling; don’t read…ooohps….too late.

        • Pofarmer

          Good Lord.

          Good luck man and keep yer chin up.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Never mind me….a was a bit maudlin in drink last night/this morning and a bit concerned about the lads ability to cope. His mate crammed the car into a a 40 ft articulated lorry trailer parked up in a lay-by. Died instantly so we are told. It’s my son’s first experience of a close loss, and being of the snowflake age, is wearing his emotions on his cuff. I was nearing my career in the military by the time a was his age ffs.

          Point a was making…no matter what level of confidence one has in something like the medical profession (the experts?), seeking out a woo-woo merchant is not a good alternative move for the man on the street…just ask Steve Jobs…oh, that’s right, we can’t.

        • Sample1

          There are MDs who are technicians of varying skill and MDs who are scientists of varying skill. Goes for all in the medical community from firefighters to RNs to MDs to researchers.

          But neither technician or scientist is among the skill set taught to practitioners of woo. They start with a different theoretical foundation farther removed from science and have like minded politicians who enable their wares. The gullible, indoctrinated or vulnerable see the latter as a stamp of approval in the same way some Christians see God on our money as evidence for existence. Sigh.

          You should always question even the most accomplished doctor, they are only human and not supermen, having stressful days and problems like anyone else. My doc loves my questions and we often leave appointments laughing our asses off. When possible, I highly recommend developing a professional friendship with your doc, it is often beneficial for both.

          My dog had nine veterinarians involved with treating his cancer, he survived and thrived. My friend, an ER doc, just returned from Seattle after experiencing wet gangrene from an ingrown toenail, said she had the brightest docs offering opinions and while that’s fortunate, it also belies the fact that too many cooks in the kitchen isn’t necessarily a slam dunk. But it is what it is. Science isn’t perfect, it’s just better than anything else we’ve tried. Like democracy, ha.

          Sorry to hear about your son’s mate. Don’t be too hard on him, we all grieve in our own way. It’s healthy he’s being open rather than closed. Or so, that’s what the experts recommend. :-). You and I come from a tighter lipped generation about grief with grandparents and relatives, even yourself, seeing gross depravity and lawlessness. But each generation can only relate to their own experiences, it’s not a fault. It’s progress of a sort. I know people who grieve more for the loss of a pet than their own relatives and I’m in no position to discount their grief. It’s real and it’s theirs. The effects are often the same even if our experiences are different. I take it you know this, just sharing on the off chance you didn’t (lurkers, etc.). Hug your kid. 🙂

          Mike
          Edit done.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOU are asserting there can be *no* effects w/o a cause.

          Demonstrate that.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Do a Google search on the phrase:
          “Effects that have no cause”.

          The top response is this:

          By definition, an “effect” is the consequence of a cause. Specifically, the Oxford Dictionary defines “effect” as “[a] change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.” Accordingly, there is no such thing as an effect without a cause, as something that has no cause is, by definition, not an effect.

          So all effects have causes “by definition”
          This is common knowledge.

          In addition to that, skeptics, scientists and rationalists have for centuries and for thousands of years, done their thinking and provided proofs based upon the idea that all effects have causes. For that to change now would be extraordinary.

          Effects without a cause is an extraordinary claim.
          Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
          Provide that evidence.

        • epeeist

          Do a Google search on the phrase:
          “Effects that have no cause”.

          Seriously? That is your demonstration?

          Let’s go back to Hume shall we. Let’s take a couple of billiard balls, we can determine the relevant properties of these, which would include mass and extent.

          Now I show you a video of a section of a billiard table. You see a white ball moving towards a red ball, a collision occurring and the two balls moving away from each other. We have the properties of the balls, we can measure positions and momenta.So where is the causality in this little experiment? How do we observe this?

        • Chuck Johnson

          You already did observe this in your video.
          And then you lied about it.

        • epeeist

          You already did observe this in your video.
          And then you lied about it.

          I did? So where is it?

          Oh, and desperate stuff to accuse people of trolling and lying when it comes to questions you are incapable of answering.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The collision caused a change in momenta.
          The collision is the cause, the change in momenta is the effect.
          But you knew that.

        • epeeist

          The collision caused a change in momenta.

          So where is the “causality”, how do I measure it, how do I observe it. All you have done here use the word as a synonym for “change in momenta”.

          It is at this point that I reveal that what you were actually watching was a video played in reverse. What was actually happening was a red ball moving towards a white ball, a collision occurring and the two balls moving away from each other. So, how is “causality” affected by the reversibility of the physics?

        • Chuck Johnson

          I did not watch the video.
          I am telling you in general terms what “cause and effect” mean.

          No, I do not use it as a synonym for “change in momenta”.
          The change in momenta is the effect, not the cause.

          The cause is the collision.
          The collision is an event which can be analyzed if further understanding of that event is desired.

        • Susan

          I did not watch the video.

          Yet you’re claiming epeeist watched it in the video and that he lied about it.

          The cause is the collision.

          No. The collision is the collision. The cause is your claim.

          The collision is an event which can be analyzed if further understanding of that event is desired.

          Then, further analyze it because you’re claiming the cause is the collision without providing an explanation.

          Of course, further analysis is desired if you wish to make your point.

          That is what epeeist seems to be getting at.

          And what you seem to be evading.

        • MR

          Evasion is his game. He’s as dishonest and as much of a troll as half the apologists we get.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Once again, you are trolling.

        • Susan

          you are trolling.

          Nothing in my commenting behaviour is consistent with trolling.

          Nothing about epeeist’s comments is consistent with lying, either.

          But you are happy to call people trolls and liars when it becomes clear that you can’t support your claims and someone asks you to.

          It’s pretty transparent.

          You still haven’t supported your claims.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I support my claims when no trolling is present.

        • Susan

          I support my claims when no trolling is present.

          It’s obvious that you don’t support your claims when no trolling is present.

          You cover over your inability to support your claims by calling people trolls and liars.

          And you don’t support that, either.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Of course I don’t support that.
          It is best to not feed the trolls.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You say that you are not trolling.
          You are still trolling.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Arsehole!

          Your expertise that we should recognize?

        • epeeist

          I did not watch the video.

          A good way around the fact that you cannot tell me where the “causality” occurs in my little scenario, how one observes it or measures it.

          No, I do not use it as a synonym for “change in momenta”.
          The change in momenta is the effect, not the cause.

          So what you want to write is “The collision of the balls causes a change of momentum in each ball and this causes the balls to move away from one another” (correct me if I am wrong in this).

          Whereas a physicist would probably state “The balls collided and moved away from each other as described by the appropriate equations of motion”.

          To take some points from the philosophy of science, one of the attributes of a good theory is parsimony, i.e. one should not include entities which do not add to the explanation. Now my second statement (the physicist’s) is parsimonious, given an initial set of conditions and a theory (in this case something like Newton’s theory of motion would be sufficient) we can predict the outcome. We don’t need to invoke the additional entity “cause” in the the situation, it neither provides additional explanatory power or empirical fit. In other words it does no work.

          Secondly, science is concerned with observables and some philosophers of science would claim that something that cannot be observed is not real. So, let’s ask the question; is “causality” ontic (to use the jargon) or is it merely a concept which we impose on the situation.

          Oh, and if you don’t like the philosophical approach, here is one based purely on the science. As Einstein stated, there are no privileged frames of reference and quantities that change under a change of frame cannot be real.

          So, as it is at the moment my little example is described in a frame in which the Earth is stationary and the red ball moves towards the white one. However I am free to choose a reference frame in which the red ball is stationary and the white ball (and the rest of the system) moves towards it. So where is the causality in this reference frame and how does it compare to the original frame?

        • Chuck Johnson

          It looks like you don’t know what cause and effect means in science.
          And then you go on to boast of this ignorance.

        • epeeist

          And then you go on to boast of this ignorance.

          Lots of things I am ignorant of, I wouldn’t even claim to be an expert in the philosophy of science.

          But one thing I don’t do is lie to cover my lack of knowledge and expertise.

        • Chuck Johnson

          When I told you that the collision is the cause and the change in momentum is the effect, you said no.

          That’s the lie.

        • epeeist

          It looks like you don’t know what cause and effect means in science.

          Well I had to get an early train this morning, so I was only able to make a brief response.

          Let’s dispense with attributive and metaphysical causation since they are not relevant for science. Here one would have to consider regularity theories of causation as well as probabilistic, counterfactual, manipulability, difference-making and process theories.

          So what are you referring to when you talk of “cause and effect”?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Just cause and effect in general.
          The semantic explanation and the scientific explanation.

          Type into Google “effects that have no cause” and this is the top search result:

          By definition, an “effect” is the consequence of a cause. Specifically, the Oxford Dictionary defines “effect” as “[a] change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.” Accordingly, there is no such thing as an effect without a cause, as something that has no cause is, by definition, not an effect.

          Type into Google “scientific cause and effect” and this is the top search result:

          Oh, cause and effect. … Cause and effect is the backbone of the scientific method; it drives everything from our hypotheses to our conclusions in an experiment. The job of the scientific method is to tell us if a cause produces an observed effect.

        • epeeist

          Just cause and effect in general.

          Ah, so once again we can see that you have no clue as to what I am talking about.

          I think we are about done here. Let’s review shall we, you came claiming that all effects had causes and that the idea of cause and effect lies at the basis of science.

          I and others pointed out that quantum processes are probabilistic and not causal, I gave you two examples and the quantum mechanics behind radioactive decay. This undercuts your claims. You had no substantive response to any of your interlocutors (claiming something is “mysterious” does not count as a substantive response).

          I gave you a couple of macro-level physical examples, one drawn from David Hume and one from Aristotle. The former I gave in a number of guises. It was plainly obvious that you were unaware of the sources of my example and that once again you had no substantive response.

          I have asked you a number of times how we observe causality and how we measure it and have drawn upon ideas from the philosophy of science from people like Bertrand Russell and Christopher Hitchcock. Once again it is plain that you have no acquaintance with any of the ideas I have presented, instead referring to general dictionaries and resorting to simplistic Google searches.

          This is the limit of what you have provided as justification for your claims, no references to anything within science, the philosophy of science or philosophy more generally. All you have offered is essentially a set of unjustified assertions.

          More than anything you resemble the occasional creationist we get here, dogmatically certain of their position but completely unable to defend it against contrary evidence. One of their defining characteristics is the use of the “reset button”, simply repeating their claim as though none of the refutations had been made. We have seen you do this in the post to which I am replying.

          Some of the other characteristics of the creationist are a complete lack of knowledge of the subject in hand, at best they possess some kind of straw man version of the topic.

          And of course they lack any sort of intellectual integrity.

          Two things, the reason that we tend not to get causal arguments in science is because we don’t actually observe causality, we infer it.

          Secondly, if you are going to argue in favour of a position it is always wise to actually know something about the subject before hand.


          26.
          The unwise man thinks all to know,
          while he sits in a sheltered nook;
          but he knows not one thing, what he shall answer,
          if men shall put him to proof.

          27.
          For the unwise man ’tis best to be mute
          when he come amid the crowd,
          for none is aware of his lack of wit
          if he wastes not too many words;
          for he who lacks wit shall never learn
          though his words flow ne’er so fast.

          28.
          Wise he is deemed who can question well,
          and also answer back:
          the sons of men can no secret make
          of the tidings told in their midst.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Are you running with the “consensus” here, or do you know it for an “absolute certainty”? What happened to “sitting on the fence”?

        • Chuck Johnson

          I know you, Amos.
          You like to troll.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So that’ll be a non-answer then. I wonder why?

        • Chuck Johnson

          YOU are asserting there can be *no* effects w/o a cause.
          Demonstrate that.

          If you would demand that I must prove that rice is an important part of the Chinese diet, I wouldn’t bother.

          Because you could easily prove that rice is not at all a part of the Chinese diet. – – – All you would have to do is lie.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You sure your not a closet theist, because that analogy is as shit as I’ve seen by the worst theists that have commented here?

        • Chuck Johnson

          I keep my response to you brief.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I could give zero fucks, I’m replying to your bullshit nonsense for the benefit of entertaining others.

        • Donalbain

          Where is the evidence for the causes of quantum events. Actual, measured evidence?

        • Chuck Johnson

          The causes of quantum effects are partly known, partly unknown.
          You can read the literature online.

          Since the causes are only partly known, all sorts of speculation arises. This is different from more developed areas of science where the cause and effect is better known.

          Gaining more knowledge waits upon the development of more precision tools and techniques for making observations at quantum levels.

          It is the lack of sufficient information that produces confusing or paradoxical results.

        • Donalbain

          Fair enough. You can’t actually show any evidence. Thanks.

        • epeeist

          It’s almost straight out of this website isn’t it.

          (From which I am currently getting:

          the temporal differential we call wakefulness is the cosmic interaction of subatomic particles operating in the quantum field, the (quantum)leap represents a fundamental universal constant that we can only speculate upon in the macro scale of wave form frequencies.

          )

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Today, science tells us that the essence of nature is guidance. To embark on the journey is to become one with it. This life is nothing short of an awakening harmonizing of unified potentiality.”

        • Chuck Johnson

          The existence of matter on a subatomic scale is one cause of quantum effects.

          The existence of energy in extremely small amounts is one cause of quantum effects.

          The existence of matter in extremely small amounts is one cause of quantum effects.

          Quantum effects only become detectable when extremely small amounts of matter and energy are examined, so that seems to be the basic cause of Quantum effects, the small amounts of matter and energy that exist in nature.

        • Donalbain

          And you don’t know the difference between a description and a cause.

        • epeeist

          He can’t actually define “cause”, the best he can do is point to the description in a general dictionary. He can’t tell us whether it is real, i.e. an observable, or merely a concept.

          I too have pointed him at quantum mechanics (my doctorate covered quantum tunnelling in small molecules), he simply states that there are causes but we don’t know what they are, it is a “mystery”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t believe ya. You tell lies. Why should anyone take you seriously?

          How do you know that stuff?

        • Chuck Johnson

          You can know that stuff, too.
          Books and online information are sources.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But how do ya know the books and online information is correct or accurate?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Learn the basics of science.
          Once you know the basics, it is easier to figure out the difference between correct and incorrect scientific claims.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Weaseling. It’s you that needs to learn the basics of science. Or use a different source.

          But sure, let’s play your silly game.

          Learn the basics of science from where? What basics of science are you talking about? How do you know you’ve got the correct basics of science and not the incorrect ones when assessing scientific claims?

          See, unless you are omniscient, which you definitely are not, you have to rely on the work of others. Evolution for example, is a scientific consensus built on consilience of evidence from the experts.

          The scientific consensus is a consequence of the Scientific Method. You don’t seem to be aware of that fact.

          Although often colored by personal values, biases, competing motives, and desires, humans generally make decisions based on what they perceive to be true. This is true both on the individual and group levels. Not everyone can be an expert in a scientific discipline, and nobody can be an expert in all of them. Consequently, people routinely have to assess what is likely to be true in areas on which they are not experts, and make decisions based on it. Scientific Consensus represents the most reliably accurate knowledge available to human beings on a given topic at any given time. It’s far from infallible, but then again, so is every other epistemological framework available to humans (albeit even more so). To reject it on the grounds that it is not infallible in favor of even less reliable approaches to knowledge would be an example of the Nirvana Fallacy. The best available option, even if imperfect, is nevertheless still the best available option. Scientific consensus also serves as a launching point guiding further scientific study of related questions, and helps facilitate the generation and accumulation of new knowledge.

          http://www.crediblehulk.org/index.php/2017/08/09/scientific-consensus-isnt-a-part-of-the-scientific-method-its-a-consequence-of-it/

          I really wish you’d learn the terms you bandy about and then try to put the blame on the rest of us for your stupidity at not knowing what they mean. You’re worse than a Christer ffs.

          “Sitting on the fence” and the “scientific consensus” are not what you think they mean. And if you think you can arbitrarily assign definitions that are not used in common parlance and then blame the rest of the world for not getting your asinine arse thinking, the problem is yours.

          So, again. What method do you use to conclude a correct claim over an incorrect claim?

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do you know?

          Are you a Quantum Physicist?

        • Chuck Johnson

          For actual, measured evidence, you should refer to scientific literature.

          For the evidence that quantum effects are caused, we refer to the definition of “cause and effect”.

          By definition, an “effect” is the consequence of a cause. Specifically, the Oxford Dictionary defines “effect” as “[a] change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.” Accordingly, there is no such thing as an effect without a cause, as something that has no cause is, by definition, not an effect.

        • Donalbain

          OK. You can’t actually point to any evidence. Fair enough.

        • epeeist

          Show me, Bob what makes you think that effects exist that have no cause.

          Place two Radon 222 atoms in an isolated container in order to ensure that they share the same environment. Atom A decays at time Ta and atom B at time Tb. Why the difference?

          Science has depended for centuries, if not thousands of years upon the understanding that all effects have causes, and those causes are the foundation of scientific investigations.

          Aristotelians possibly, these days you will find very little in science that deals with causal explanations. As Bertrand Russell points out:

          All philosophers, of every school, imagine that causation is one of the fundamental postulates of science, yet, oddly enough, in advances such as gravitational astronomy the word “cause” never appears.

          and

          To met it seems that…the reason why physics has ceased to look for causes is that, in fact, there are no such things. The law of causality, I believe, like much that passes muster among philosophers is a relic of a bygone age

        • Pofarmer

          MnB liked to point out that modern physics wasn’t based on causality, but on probablity. It’s really pretty eye opening,

        • epeeist

          MnB liked to point out that modern physics wasn’t based on causality, but on probablity.

          I am not even sure that classical physics is based on causality. I am not even sure what is meant by “causality” when it comes to science in that there are at least half a dozen descriptions of it within the philosophy of science.

        • Careful. Don’t make Chuck Johnson give you a good thrashing with Aristotle.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Place two Radon 222 atoms in an isolated container in order to ensure that they share the same environment. Atom A decays at time Ta and atom B at time Tb. Why the difference?

          I don’t (specifically) know why the difference.
          This is the scientific answer.

          Your answer is that there is no cause that makes one atom decay first.
          That’s the unscientific answer.

        • You must be outraged at those nutty physicists with doctorates who say that some effects have no cause. You should go slap some sense into them. Better: write a paper than shows that that interpretation is bullshit.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Bob, you made up the story that effects have no cause.
          I followed the link that you gave me years ago, and no physicist said that the effects have no cause. – – – It was you.

        • Sure, whatever you need to sleep at night, I guess.

        • epeeist

          I don’t (specifically) know why the difference.
          This is the scientific answer.

          I can accept the first sentence, but the second is a non sequitur.

          Your answer is that there is no cause that makes one atom decay first.
          That’s the unscientific answer.

          And there you would be wrong.

          Think of the way this would be described in quantum mechanics, the state equation is

          √p |Rn> + √p' |Po+α>

          The first term shows that probability that an observation will show a radon atom (which could be considered as a polonium atom with a nucleus containing a trapped alpha particle) while the second term shows the probability that an observation will show a polonium atom and a free alpha particle.

          In classical mechanics the system will exist in one of these two states and energy is required to move from one to the other. However for quantum mechanics the situation is different, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle comes into play, one normally sees this in the position/momentum form but energy and time are also complementary variables and we can write:

          ΔE Δt ≥ ℏ/2

          This, and the fact that the probability does not fall to zero between the two states allows quantum tunnelling to take place.

          So, given this can you please point me to where “cauality” occurs in this description.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are trolling.
          You can prove anything with your style of dishonesty.

        • epeeist

          You are trolling.

          You can prove anything with your style of dishonesty.

          I generally use alpha decay as an example since it is more familiar to people than tunnelling in other situations.

          For example my doctorate was concerned with the potential barriers to rotation in molecules such as 5-methyl isoxazole

          https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41FvmSDeahL._SL1000_.jpg

          In this molecule the methyl group can rotate like a top, each 120 degree rotation takes it back to the same configuration. There is obviously a potential barrier to rotation and this can be tunnelled through in the same way as the alpha particle tunnels its way out of the radon atom. One can determine the height of the potential barrier from measurement of the A-E splitting in the microwave spectrum.

          So, I will ask again, in the radon/polonium example and in my molecular spectroscopy example where is the causality?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Within atoms and within molecules, the causality is the forces and matter within the atom or molecule along with possible outside forces.

          Those forces and matter do their causation with or without your observations or your formulas. This has been going on for billions of years, at least. They have no need of your understanding or mine to proceed.

          The atomic and molecular examples that you refer to have causations that are partly understood by science, and are partly mysterious.

          Before the concept of an atom was thought of, the atoms were competent at doing their thing.

          Why would you expect that an understanding of causation is necessary for causation to exist?

        • epeeist

          Within atoms and within molecules, the causality is the forces andmatter within the atom or molecule along with possible outside forces.

          But in your other post to me you associated “causality” with a change in momenta, so what do you actually mean by the term?

          If I have a solution containing hydrogen peroxide and sulphuric acid and I mix it with a solution containing potassium iodide, sodium thiosulphate, and starch then I get a dynamic equilibrium (it is known as a clock reaction)? Where is the causality here?

          The atomic and molecular examples that you refer to have causations that are partly understood by science, and are partly mysterious.

          You claim that all events have causes and yet when presented with a situation which is probabilistic in nature you simply resort to hand waving.

          Why would you expect that an understanding of causation

          Tell you what, why don’t you tell us what you mean by “causation”.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Tell you what, why don’t you tell us what you mean by “causation”.

          What I mean by “causation” is what the dictionary tells us that it means.

          I typed “effects that have no cause” into Google search and I got this description:

          By definition, an “effect” is the consequence of a cause. Specifically, the Oxford Dictionary defines “effect” as “[a] change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.” Accordingly, there is no such thing as an effect without a cause, as something that has no cause is, by definition, not an effect.

          So “causes” are those things preliminary to an effect or simultaneous with an effect that contribute to that effect happening.

          There are known causes and unknown causes.
          You seem to not know that there are unknown causes.

        • epeeist

          What I mean by “causation” is what the dictionary tells us that it means.

          So why are you using a general dictionary and Google to describe a scientific concept? Why are you not consulting the literature of science and the philosophy of science?

          I note that you didn’t manage to tackle my other example. Here is a simpler one:

          I have a ball in my hand, I throw it upwards. What causes it to continue rising after it has left my hand?

        • Chuck Johnson

          “What causes it to continue rising after it has left my hand?”

          I could easily answer that one.
          But your lies would prove that the answer had no validity.
          So look up the answer yourself.

        • epeeist

          I could easily answer that one.

          Why is it that I somehow doubt that. After all, if you could have why did you not. It might have done something to rescue the complete lack of credibility you have here.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Because of your trolling.

        • epeeist

          When considering the decay of an α particle the transmission coefficient (the probability of a partially bound particle within a finite potential well appearing as a free particle on the other side) is given by:

          T = exp(−2/ℏ . ∫ [Ro, r1] √(2m |E -V(r)|) dr)

          where R0 is the atomic radius, E is the energy of the particle and r1 is the radius at which E = V (r).

          So go on, where does “causality” appear in the description?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Causality does not appear in the equations.
          The people who created those equations did not intend to describe causality.

        • epeeist

          Causality does not appear in the equations.

          Correct

          The people who created those equations did not intend to describe causality.

          And why do they not intend to describe “causality”?

        • Sample1

          Thanks for this. Been coincidentally having a minor discussion about PSR and causality with @Ficino:disqus on SN.

          I usually throw entropy into the explanation for decay in addition to probability distribution theory/randomness hoping not to infer classical causation but rather description. Is that potentially problematic from your POV?

          Hopefully Ficino will travel over here and read your responses about decay not having a cause.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, I will ask again, in the radon/polonium example and in my molecular spectroscopy example where is the causality?

          Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp. chirp…that’ll be the sound of crickets.

          Chuck is on the fence on the answer to that question, because he can’t tell whether you, as an expert, could be lying about that stuff and he doesn’t know enough about the subject to tell with “absolute certainty” what ta fuck you are even talking about.

          I wonder does he ever eat mushrooms? Or travel in aircraft? Life must be really fucked up in Chuckland…his hole must be aching with all the fence sitting he must have to do…or he’s just a lying bastard who has said something really fucking stupid and the place he’s dug for himself has got too deep to get out of without losing face.

          Trolling and dishonesty seems to be his go-to projection in order to avoid answering the comments that demonstrate he is a troll and dishonest.

        • MR

          Trolling and dishonesty seems to be his go-to projection in order to avoid answering the comments that demonstrate he is a troll and dishonest.

          Precisely my thought.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bwaaaahahahahahahaha!

        • Kodie

          When I have a question about something scientific I don’t understand (or historical or political, etc.), I often ask someone who is not a professional at those things. They are not experts in the way they did the experiments themselves, but know how to read the experiments and research and are good at explaining it back to someone like me. That doesn’t make those people scientists in those fields! That makes them literate, and maybe more literate at different subjects than I am. I think you’re trying to insinuate that ID is science, for example. I mean, you’re just making the impression that you deny climate change because different people with varying levels of expertise can arrive at different conclusions, so you may think there are racial differences in athleticism and academics, for example. Different people think these things who aren’t scientists, and you seem to be standing up for them. You seem to be alluding to an accusation of science being a conspiracy of white lab coats, and someone who had a different idea, which they could publish an experiment legitimately wouldn’t see the light of day because science is a cult against new thought, all the while, accuse science of changing all the time, so some of these new voices must be making an impression that isn’t shut down by the conspiracy. Please stop pussy-footing and say what the fuck you mean already.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I think you’re trying to insinuate that ID is science, for example.
          The religionists who push ID gain credibility by saying that it is actually science.

          The ID is a scam.
          The claim that it is actually a science is another scam.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I mean, you’re just making the impression that you deny climate change because . . . ”

          Decades ago, the possibility of global warming was predicted by scientists on a theoretical basis.
          I used to see the Bell Telephone Science Hour when I was a child.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-AXBbuDxRY

          And now, this is no longer speculation.
          http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

        • Kodie

          Do you not see that you’re giving off the impression of being suspicious of scientists or “scientism” as the creationists call it?

        • Chuck Johnson

          I know what kind if impressions you get, Kodie.
          My advice to you is to be more honest.

        • Kodie

          You’re an irritant with nothing to say. Honest enough for you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Plenty to say…whether any of it makes much sense or not…well that’s debatable.

        • Chuck Johnson

          No, you are lying again.

        • Phil Rimmer

          The US had not been politically corrupted by its corporations yet. Wise Cassandras like Rachel Carson could stir action against them and trigger the formation of the EPA and be praised across all sectors of society.

          These malign (only self serving) giants were only just getting their dissimulating act together in the fifties, interestingly sponsoring religious meekness at first, so folks would know their place and trust in the Lord.

          “One Nation Under God” Kevin M. Kruse.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The culture wars were not yet underway back then.
          Now, politics gets polarized and becomes extreme due in part to the culture wars.

          A big part of the culture wars comes from the confusion and distress that religionists experience as they see the ancient foundations of their understanding and morality fade away before their eyes in today’s culture.

          This is especially true here in the USA where many people have used patriotism and Christianity as a way to congratulate themselves.

          Now, some of these people are using fake science to congratulate themselves that they are wiser and know better.

        • Phil Rimmer

          The point about the culture wars is that they have been actively fomented by would be kleptocrats.

          Religionists are above all (!) manipulated. In the free market of kleptocrats a cartel of parasites has formed comprising, corporate, political and traditional shamanic, all pushing and pulling more or less in the same direction and for the same end, to divide and conquer, prevent a healthy society forming and exerting its own self-breeding power.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes.
          Also, here in the age of information, many people have found that lies and deceit are very efficient at getting what they want.

          Religionists, of course, but all sorts of other people who are not good at using logic, evidence and reason.
          They are easy targets for deceit.

        • Kodie

          And science is different from public policy. “Raising taxes is the
          correct action to take” isn’t something you say true or false to. It
          depends on what your goals are. That’s different from a claim about
          nature—a law, theory, or observation.

          I’m going to say this is partially not true. If you know what outcome you want, it is possible to learn the most effective way (I think) of socially effecting that outcome. Marketing works this way. If you want to manipulate someone into spending money on a thing or service, there are efficient uses of economics and social pressure to create that outcome, but it’s different in that you do have to have an outcome in mind, and you do have to study your audience. Raising taxes would obviously be a horrible idea in some areas where people rebel a policy that might be best for them because they don’t want high taxes. Would it still be correct? It works all over Europe, but then their outcome preference is a lot more socialistic than the US currently.

          I am not advocating any particular public policy, but people are not Martians and we don’t know how they operate. Dictatorships also operate on this principle, not that I’m saying dictatorship is correct, but some people would. I guess that’s what you’re saying – dictators and people who live under a dictator regime often find it in their best interest to agree with the dictator, because it makes the dictator happy. The dictator has effectively manipulated people to effect his favorite outcome in the most efficient way. That doesn’t make dictatorship correct at all. The preferred outcome of a dictator may probably not be achieved any more efficiently.

        • If you know what outcome you want, it is possible to learn the most effective way (I think) of socially effecting that outcome.

          Possibly not, but let’s forget that. The question is: what outcome do you want? Are you tough on crime (more cops and prisons!), or would you rather focus on the root causes of crime (more education, more jobs, better living conditions!)?

        • Kodie

          Ok, those are social attitudes, but I think social attitudes have goals. Do you want to lock up all the rule-breakers, because you are authoritarian? Not all rules are just, so some people ignore that too.

          I mean, some people might be tough on crime and not care about the law. I think most people have their own personal morals, and wish certain acts were illegal, but they’re not. Maybe they turn right on red when the sign says no right on red, or they are the person who judges people for not reading signs and hopes they get punished, but if there weren’t a sign at that intersection, they would not care if someone turned right on red. If you are doing something like legalizing marijuana, a lot of people think it should be legalized, and a lot of people seem skeptical about it… not a lot of people (in Massachusetts) are shown to be adamantly opposed to it, except where pot shops want to open up in places where kids and teens might be exposed to it (not that they could shop there, but might think smoking pot is ok as drinking booze or beer!).

          Do you want to cut down on drug use? Do you want to legalize something mostly harmless so not so many people are in jail? If you can’t untangle it, you can’t justify any action. It goes up for a vote, Massachusetts legalizes marijuana and the naysayers have to ostensibly live with it, and then locally try to keep the pot shops out of the plazas where their karate studios and dance classes are. I am not a pot-smoker myself (anymore), and can see the habit as potentially destructive or demotivating to people, but alcohol is distinguished for some reason?

          If there is a known outcome, I think there can be (with possible variables) a best way to achieve it. If you want to throw reasons in there, that’s a different thing, like you like to smoke pot, so you’re going to make a lot more pro arguments and ignore any against arguments even any that are valid. If your goal is to make pot available in convenience stores all over your state, then there is probably a measurably best way to achieve that goal. Doesn’t matter why, and doesn’t matter if any of the steps in the plan are legal where you live.

          If science says climate change is real, policy would seem to lead us to act quickly in significant ways to slow it to a halt, and that is neither a goal nor a plan. Not going extinct is a goal, and xyz not relying on fossil fuels, not eating meat, etc., parts of the plan. If climate change is real, then another policy seems to be to ignore it and deny it. The goal is not to go extinct, or run out of resources to sustain humanity, so that plan will not be very effective in achieving the goal.

        • Michael Neville

          There are many Christians who will tell you that it has been scientifically proven that Darwinian evolution is bunk.

          These people deny reality or, to use the proper technical term, they’re fucking idiots.

        • Chuck Johnson

          They seem very smart and well-informed to themselves and to each other.
          They live in an echo chamber of false information.

          This psychology is somewhat like Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
          Data is concocted to serve their emotional needs.

    • NS Alito

      In other words, practice sitting on the fence.

      For the newest or least-tested stuff, maybe, but there’s a whole lot out there that has been cross-confirmed out the wazoo, and other things that are excellent approximations within given boundaries.

      The basic relations of the elements on the Periodic Table have so much working science based on them that we rely on the PT as fact. Newton couldn’t account for the orbit of Mercury, but it was Newton that got us to the Moon. And chaos/shmaos, engineers can make effective designs within well-defined linear portions of a physical attribute.

      So many things were considered wildly theoretical until we had technology to look for them, like germs, black holes, abyssal life forms, buckyballs (in soot!), extremophiles, genetic chimeras, extrasolar planets, etc., at which point they very quickly reached consensus status.

      P.S. An additional upvote for my favorite Asimov quote: ^

      • Chuck Johnson

        The basic relations of the elements on the Periodic Table have so much working science based on them that we rely on the PT as fact.

        Thanks for your comment.
        There is a world of scientific knowledge that should be regarded as being true, but not absolutely true. The periodic table is such a collection of insights and relationships in physical chemistry.

        When you know about the chemistry of chlorine, you then also know about the chemistry of the other halogens, but only somewhat. The halogens are full of surprises.
        And each time another new element is discovered, some of the predictions turn out to be true, but there are some surprises.

        The world of “scientific facts” should be regarded as facts for convenience only. It would be inconvenient to doubt or to rethink the periodic table each time that we would want to put it to use. That would be a waste of time.

        But to keep chemistry and physics on the right path, the periodic table needs to be revised and updated as new scientific details are available concerning the chemical elements.

        What about imagining a future of science where the periodic table might be seen as irrelevant because it was replaced by something better ?

        Well, don’t dismiss such a notion as “impossible”.
        But it sounds like science fiction to me.
        And extraordinary claims such as that one would require extraordinary evidence.

        The strength of the evidence, the quantity, the reliable quality, the preponderance of the evidence etc. makes all the difference.
        We would wait on real evidence.

        And that’s what has put science, engineering and technology in the position that they are presently in.
        Carefully considered skepticism along with competent methods of gaining good quality evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          What about imagining a future of science where the periodic table might be seen as irrelevant because it was replaced by something better ?

          Whatever replaced the periodic table would have to be even more useful and informative. I strongly suspect that any such replacement would be a modification rather than an ab initio construction.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          This would be a good place to mention Asimov’s The Relativity of Wrong.

          https://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, most likely a modification.

      • Kodie

        For the newest or least-tested stuff, maybe, but there’s a whole lot out
        there that has been cross-confirmed out the wazoo, and other things that
        are excellent approximations within given boundaries.

        It’s probably not the same thing as suggested, but just about a week ago, stuck in traffic, I checked my perspective. I’ve done this every once in a while, mostly to try to see if I believe in god, or if that idea remains nutty. This time, I did with science and politics.

        What is it like to be so sure of something that seems so ridiculous to me? What is it like to be on that side, or rather not that side, but my side, and what if everything I think is true or good or wise or kind or whatever, is dangerous propaganda? What if I am so blinded and fooled as they accuse me, that I can’t even tell that I’m completely wrong and they’re right.

        Then I laughed. I love to amuse myself. I mean, nobody likes to think they’re having a psychotic break with reality, but how would you know if you were, if everything you see seems some other way than it is? How do you know you’re not in a cult, or “just following orders” or whatever? It’s apparent that humans can fall into a pit of not only misinformation, but repeating it, applauding it, and violently opposing anything against it. What if that was something I was guilty of? I like to think about it. I mean, in this modern ridiculous environment, people can be incited to violence just because the sheer volume of morons out there. They are taken in by the caution to “think for yourself” and then told exactly what to think. It’s prestidigitation. Bob is saying NOT to think for yourself, but relax, let the scientists who are smart and educated do the thinking for you. Isn’t that quite a situation? For religious people, who think “consensus” means, what the most people believe is true, is true, and who have been convinced (like Chuck Johnson somewhat), that science keeps coming up with new stuff! Because who needs progress, right? Who needs scientific research to keep the US relevant and advanced, at least in MAGA country, who needs to make America great again with stupid stuff like shifty science that can only make our world better, because it’s America first!

        This also plays with smaller and other personal things – like, do I really like this person or do they have some kind of control over our friendship? Do I really like the food from that place I’ve been ordering food from for several years, or is it just the salt and grease that I love? I think my most common self-check is “should I get a dog?” and it keeps coming up no. I don’t want to walk a dog, pick up its shit with a thin plastic bag, hold that plastic bag until I find a trash receptacle, or talk to other people with dogs or let my dog sniff and catch fleas and other stuff from other people’s dogs. I have also heard the vet fees are outrageous, which I never thought about. I definitely, it’s the talking to people about dog stuff all the damn dog time, not having time to be polite, not really liking to socialize about doggie stuff, and all the stairs in my building and weather outside. The things dog people do for dogs, well, some just open the back door and call the dog back in a minute – I don’t have that situation.

        Yes, there is such a thing as overthinking something, but I think people should overthink some things.

    • Lark62

      The introduction of and eventual acceptance of the Theory of Plate Tectonics is a case study on the evaluation of evidence.

      The similarity of continental coasts was one data point, but not enough on its own.

      Wegener put together a lot of evidence, including coastlines, similar geological formations, fossils and living species on lands now separated by oceans. Wegener was right, but he did not have quite enough data. He couldn’t explain the mechanism of plate movement.

      Fast forward a few decades. Seismic monitoring revealed the ring of fire and the pattern of earthquakes world wide. Discovery of mid ocean ridges, deep ocean trenches, magnetic clues solidified in rocks, etc. provided more data to add to what Wegener had identified and resolve questions on how plate movement happens.

      Now anybody who “sits on the fence” about plate tectonics is ignorant. Because evidence.

      And anyone, especially a non-geologist, who proclaimed “I know more than geologists, and I don’t believe in plate tectonics” would be laughed out of the room.

      If someone intends to challenge the scientific consensus, they must
      1. learn what that consensus is,
      2. gather a full understanding of the evidence that supports that consensus and
      3. offer an alternative explanation that addresses all existing evidence.

      People who challenge the Theory of Evolution, for example, usually run 0 for 3. The have no clue what the Theory of Evolution actually says, as evidenced by use of terms like “it’s random.” They have no clue about the wealth of evidence that supports Evolution. And they have no alternative explanation of the evidence. “Sitting on the fence” in the face of overwhelming evidence is ignorance.

      • Otto

        Very well said….you deserve more than the one up-vote I can give.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Sitting on the fence is avoiding absolute certainty in belief.
        Absolute certainty is to be avoided in science, religions, and in all types of thinking.

        • Lark62

          What!? There is a football field of gradations between “sitting on the fence” and absolute certainty.

          For one, we aren’t talking absolute certainty about everything that will ever be known about a topic, we are talking about confidence in the evidence we have to date.

          Are you “on the fence” about germs, atoms or the Heliocentric solar system?
          How about the existence of continental plates and the causes of earthquakes and volcanos? How about the relationship between lightning and thunder? Because anyone who is “still on the fence” about well-evidenced science is ignorant.

          Anyone “on the fence” about what we now know of evolution is likewise ignorant.

          OTOH, most people are “on the fence” about the presence of microbial life elsewhere in our solar system. There are hints of microbial life on Mars, Europa and other solar system bodies, past and/or present. But these hints are not conclusive and “on the fence” is exactly the right reaction. But is a person “on the fence” about intelligent life on Mars? Little green men with antennae who built canals? If so, they are ignorant because there is more than enough evidence for strong but not absolute certainty that there has never been complex, intelligent life on Mars.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Folk that are claiming to be “on the fence” about the things on your list are stupid. There’s just no excuse. If one can say they are “on the fence” they can do the bare minimum that would get their lazy arse up off it…they are just being plain stupid.

        • Lark62

          Exactly. There is so much we don’t know, and where there isn’t yet evidence, “on the fence” is appropriate. But these areas tend to be small portions around the edges of settled science.

          One can be “on the fence” about planet X or intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy or whether viruses are alive or the relative importance of genetic drift versus natural selection. There isn’t enough evidence yet.

          But anyone who is “on the fence” about the heliocentric solar system, the fact that viruses cause disease or the fact that life evolved from a common ancestor is willfully and inexcusably ignorant.

        • “I’m on the fence” is sometimes a euphemism for “I know what the science says, and I don’t like it.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…AGW deniers spring directly to mind.

        • Lark62

          Yep. The desire to not look ignorant yet continue to be ignorant.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          pretty much always if the subject is a fact rather than an opinion, one can be on the fence about the advantages of capitalism over socialism, one cannot be on the fence about heliocentrism

        • Ignorant Amos

          A number of years ago a few of the regulars here had reason to engage an ultra-conservative Roman Catholic going by the name of Rick Delano at a place called “Strangenotions”, established as a place for non-believers and believers to engage in each others arguments, it so deteriorated because the theists struggled to keep up with the atheists and got smashed at every hands turn. The site owner, one lying fecker by the name of Brandon Vogt felt the need to cull the atheist numbers and banhammered a pile of atheists and scrubbed thousands of their comments. You might know DeLano from his infamous movie “The Principle” which he co-produced with another Muppet called Robert Sungenis. The lying toerags tricked a number of scientists and celebrities and misrepresented their position on heliocentricism.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Principle

          Sungenis has a BA and MA…with a “PhD. from what some might call a “Mickey Mouse” institution, still, he has a third level education, not in science btw. A Catholic, turned Protestant, turned Catholic again…he too is at the extreme fuckwit end of his denomination.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Robert_Sungenis

          If all you did was to read Sungenis’ “About” page, an ignorant could be forgiven for being impressed.

          http://www.robertsungenis.org/p/about.html

          DeLano was so extreme he was too much for even the mainstream Catholics, which was handy for Vogt, because he was able to banhammer DeLano for his mind-numbing extreme views and point to him as an example of Vogts moderation being balanced. It was anything but.

          My point in bringing this up? Here we have two absolute buck-eejits that had the resources to produce a documovie that has the air of authority about it because of the shenanigans employed to scam experts. Imagine anyone who is daft enough to be sitting on the fence on the heliocentric model of the solar system and the only research is the clusterfuck nonsense pushed out by these two cretins?

          I know it is an extreme example, but they do walk amongst us. This is why if one knows fuck all about the subject, it’s best to hat-tip the “consensus” until a lot better educated and up to speed on a subject and can make an argument with support that can stand up to that consensus.

        • epeeist

          Ah yes, Rick Delano, “In relativity there are no privileged frames of reference; therefore we are free to choose a geocentric as a frame of reference; therefore this must be the correct frame of reference given it matches the holy bible”. The sleight of hand is in the last clause where he privileges a particular frame of reference.

          The one thing that we never got from him was an estimate of how fast Neptune moves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Delano is a prime example of a fully functioning human being, who is so otherwise fucked up by the God virus it, is like he is off his face on acid when it comes to his ridiculous woo-woo beliefs. If ever there is an example of what is wrong with religious belief, it’s Delano and his oppo, Sungenis.

        • Greg G.

          But is a person “on the fence” about intelligent life on Mars?

          Mars is the only planet that we know of that is exclusively inhabited by robots.

        • Lark62

          It those robots start reproducing, watch out! ☺

        • A peek into our future … ?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Another commenter can tell you what I mean by sitting on the fence.
          Don’t try to generate controversy by misstating what I have said.
          That would be trolling.

        • Lark62

          No. Your choice to use a common phrase with no elaboration or explanation, then get pissy because other people apply the common meaning of the term is what comes close to trolling.

          I am not responsible for your lack of clarity.

          If to you “sitting on the fence” does not mean a total refusal to pick a side or make a conclusion, then you need to define your terms.

          Per Wikipedia:
          “Sitting on the fence” is a common idiom used in English to describe a person’s lack of decisiveness, neutrality or hesitance to choose between two sides in an argument or a competition, or inability to decide due to lack of courage.

          Per online dictionary:
          sit on the fence

          avoid making a decision or choice.

          synonyms: undecided, uncommitted, uncertain, unsure, vacillating, wavering, dithering, hesitant, tentative, doubtful, irresolute, ambivalent, torn, in two minds, in a dilemma, on the horns of a dilemma, in a quandary;

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I am not responsible for your lack of clarity.”

          Yes you are, every time that you tell me what I meant instead of asking me what I meant.

        • Lark62

          Did you bother to read the definition of “sitting on the fence”?

          Normal people would respond with “Wow, I’ve been using that phrase wrong all this time. That isn’t what I meant at all. What I meant was ______. Apologies for being unclear.”

          Boom. Done.

          But no. According to you, I the reader must ask for a clarification of how YOU define the words and phrases you choose to use. No, I must not assume you are educated enough to use words and phrases according to their common dictionary definition.

          Thus, before we continue, I ask you to clarify each of the following words and phrases:

          Another
          Commenter
          Tell
          You
          What
          I
          Mean
          Sitting on the fence.

          Don’t
          Try
          Generate
          Controversy
          Misstating
          What
          I
          Said.
          That
          Trolling

          I eagerly anticipate* your thorough and thoughtful reply.

          (Note “eagerly anticipate” really means “don’t give a flying fuck about”)

        • Ignorant Amos

          We are all trolls because Chuck hasn’t a feckin’ clue what he is talking about…go figure!

        • epeeist

          According to you, I the reader must ask for a clarification of how YOU define the words and phrases you choose to use.

          This is known as “Humpty-Dumptying”.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Your reply is trivial and dishonest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bwaaaaaaaaahahahahahahaha!

        • Lark62

          What does “trivial” mean?

          What does “dishonest” mean?

          I’m afraid I cannot understand you unless you explain all of your terms.

          Til then, I’ll just have to sit on the fence about your trolling.

        • “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

          https://www.abc.net.au/news/image/8226082-3×2-700×467.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hint: “sitting on the fence” doesn’t equate to “avoiding absolute certainty” in any language or use in common parlance. And your commenting in this thread demonstrates a severe lack of comprehension and honesty on this point.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Troll.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Spoiiiinnnng!!!!

        • Ignorant Amos

          He’s a fucking liar who is getting hoist by his own petard.

        • Lark62

          Hoist on his own petard is a phrase I misunderstood for ages. I assumed “petard” meant ass, but it actually means “small bomb.”

          So “Hoist with his own petard” means “blown up by his own bomb” and not “lifted up by his own ass.”

          Must be your fault. ☺

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…being an ex-military engineer, am well versed on the idiom of being “hoist by ones own petard” for more practical purposes, than literary ones. Also known colloquially as an “own goal” it is a form of poetic justice.

          https://www.independent.co.uk/news/terrorists-killed-by-their-own-devices-1319857.html

          Petards weren’t usually “small” bombs in my time, that said, originally they were small shaped breaching charges. The trick is to set the fuse long enough to allow the person placing it to be able to retreat to a safe distance, but still not enough time to allow the enemy enough time to move forward to defuse it and remove it.

          Incidentally, petard originally had an association with the ass as it referred to the act of farting.

          The “flying dustbin” was more the sort of thing I was aware of in my time.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armoured_Vehicle_Royal_Engineers

          Breaching charges today are much more refined.

          The quote was made famous by Billy Shakespeare in Hamlet…

          There’s letters sealed; and my two schoolfellows,
          Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,
          They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
          And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
          For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
          Hoist with his own petard; and ’t shall go hard
          But I will delve one yard below their mines
          And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
          When in one line two crafts directly meet.

          ~ Prince Hamlet, in Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4.

        • Lark62

          Yep. I had always just assumed that it was cousin to pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. Picturesque, but not anatomically feasible.

          It’s amazing what happens when one is willing to learn something new.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ballix…if you think science is about “absolute certainty” in belief, then you don’t understand what the definition of the term “science” is about. The problem is then yours, not anyone else’s. And certainly not sciences, or just as importantly, empiricism.

          Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that “knowledge is based on experience” and that “knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification”. Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.

          No “absolute certainty”…solipsism is always a possibility.

          Some things are as near “absolute certainty” as makes no difference. I can guarantee you’ll not be testing the near as dammit “absolute certainty” of gravity by jumping out of a plane without a parachute, any time soon. That sort of “sitting on the fence” will get ya fucked right up.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Ballix…if you think science is about “absolute certainty” in belief, then you don’t understand what the definition of the term “science” is about. The problem is then yours, not anyone else’s. And certainly not sciences, or just as importantly, empiricism.

          You are trolling again, Amos.
          It’s a hobby of yours.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Trolling again?

          That’s something else ya appear ta know fuck all about Chuck.

          If anyone is trolling here, it’s you. But I’ll tell ya what. Point out where my comment is trolling and I might apologise. Not where you think it’s trolling, your judgement is apparently fucked up, but where the population of this blog will agree it’s trolling that am doing.

          Betcha can’t?

          It seem’s being a contrary arsehole is a hobby of yours. So we can’t all be perfect.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, by using profanity you can easily prove that you are not a troll.
          In your own mind.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…Try again…by bringing up my profanity, you are the dickhead that is trolling. Look it up ya Dime Bar. It’s called “tone trolling”.

          It is fallacious. It’s a variety of ad hominem and antidebate appeal based on genetic fallacy.

          You’re a gift.

          A case of “Look over there, squirrels!” in an attempt to use the colorful language content of my comments as an excuse to detract from the points that have your position fucked. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I will let you look it up.

        • Nope–bad advice. You know how you like a reality distortion field now and then. Who knows when a word in Webster’s will be defined wrong for you.

          My advice to Amos would be to get my truth from you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dumb fucker….just proving that even atheists are not exempt to being such.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Sitting on the fence also doesn’t get any work done.

          Pick a side, but be willing to admit to being incorrect when all the data’s in.

        • Chuck Johnson

          By sitting on the fence I mean avoiding absolute certainty.
          By deliberately misstating what I have said you can prove anything.
          You are a con artist.

        • Lark62

          “Sitting on the fence” does not just mean avoiding all certainty. It means avoiding any certainty.

          It appears you do not know the definition of the phrase you chose to use.

          The con artist would be you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          By sitting on the fence I mean avoiding absolute certainty.

          And that is the straw man you want to impale yourself upon?

          May I suggest you go learn the meaning of the idioms you choose to use in discussion. Because “sitting on the fence” as you are applying it, doesn’t work.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitting_on_the_fence

          You’ve been told enough times already that the scientific consensus has fuck all to do with “absolute certainty”, but it has just as less to do with “sitting on the fence”, so why are you persisting on this trope?

          Now, whatever happened to your advice that…

          But I think that honesty is the best policy.

          Because given your discussion on this thread elsewhere, you are being anything but. The question of Einstein and the problems of Newton are demonstrations of that predicament and your assertion that by “sitting on the fence” you mean avoiding “absolute certainty”. You are acting like a theist and you have the bare-faced cheek to accuse me of trolling? Give us a break.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Trolling me doesn’t work.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The audience will be the judge of whether I’m trolling you and if it works or not.

          As it goes, you seem to have been pwn’d because you haven’t got anything coming near to a refutation of anything being put to ya.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are pandering to an audience of trolls.
          And you are proud of it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whenever you are psychotic enough to think that everyone else around you are the trolls, that’s the point you should think about seeking professional help. Just saying Chuck.

          Ya sad fucker.

        • Kodie

          How do you manage on your own? I don’t know how most people truly operate, but dependence on absolute truth seems to be the sales pitch for any given religion. You’re lecturing this blanket agnosticism to people who don’t find evidence of any god in the many claims and the shittiest arguments every theist thinks is their best, most urgent and convincing argument. Science, and the scientific consensus, are giving us the best information to go by today. Scientists are generally better prepared to notice flaws in data or research than you, the dummy non-scientist, are, and we expect any to point it out. You are paranoid and suspicious about a science conspiracy, where the things you might commit to believing could be undermined by a scientific dictatorship, where someone could effectively threaten anyone who didn’t agree with the findings, and every scientist is fearful enough to keep their position that they kneel and pray to that scientist, as if anyone disagrees with it, or questions is, the cabal of scientists will suppress their future studies, regardless of their correctness.

          This is how you think science works, politically. You are afraid to believe anything if there might be funny business in the industry that might make you look stupid. Well, you look stupid saying “sitting on a fence” vs. “absolute certainty.” Can’t you operate provisionally like the rest of us? Can’t you understand that science isn’t an encyclopedia for you to look up facts, but look up where we are so far, and the research that supports it, and the scientists who assure you that first scientist’s findings aren’t total bullshit?

          If you’re trying to make a point, why dnn’t you make it? Are you afraid of saying the words, in case you’re wrong to commit to a position at all?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Exactly…

          “Science doesn’t work by plebiscite, by sheer numbers, but it does work by something called consilience. Consilience is something that goes back to William Whewell at Cambridge; where you have a great number of sources of different evidence … dozens of different inputs together building up a picture of what’s going on.” ((11:43-12:07) ‘The Science Show’)

          http://www.betweentwolaws.org/theory/consilience-science-part/

        • Chuck Johnson

          You continue to make things up and then attribute those made-up things to me.
          You should be more honest.

        • zenmite

          I agree. “Sitting on the fence” does seem to imply 50% / 50%. But I doubt that’s what you mean. I operate via probability. The probability that Zeus is real and sitting (invisibly) on Mr. Olympus is very small, but is not non-zero. The same with Christianity. I think the likelihood of it being ‘true’ in the sense of miracles, resurrection, son of god, etc. is nearly as unlikely as Zeus. I don’t usually assign numbers to the probabilities, but I do try to consistently base my thinking on it. You can never be absolutely certain, you may be in a simulation or a brain in vat.

          I recall watching Rev. Jerry Falwell sr. asking his congregation; “How many of you are sure you are going to heaven as you are that your are sitting here?” Nearly the whole congregation raised their hands…..they were certain they were going to heaven. That is the answer he was looking for. Believers are usually “sure” they are right and doubting is generally a bad thing. Only a Sith thinks in absolutes, and I ain’t no freakin’ Sith!

          From the OP: “The Disco Institute is an Intelligent Design thinktank that does this.” I think I’ve been there. It was 1978 and Donna Summer blared from the speakers while the mirrored balls twirled around. White powder in all the restrooms. I kept thinking; “Now this place is intelligently designed.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Only a Sith thinks in absolutes

          I was bemused by the fact that this is, in itself, an absolute 😉

        • Greg G.

          Only a Sith thinks in absolutes

          I was bemused by the fact that this is, in itself, an absolute 😉

          The logical conclusion is that zenmite is a Sith.

        • zenmite
        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, always having a 50% probability belief is not what I meant.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Then don’t say “sitting on the fence”…because that is what the term means.

          https://www.theidioms.com/sit-on-the-fence/

          What it doesn’t mean, is not taking a position because of a lack of “absolute certainty”…nor does the the term “consensus” mean “sitting on the fence” or “absolute certainty”, so don’t blame the rest of us because of your stupidity. Just be honest and admit ya fucked up and move on.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          i see your point, in theory, however there are many things in the this world where you cannot sit on the fence, we can say that we do not know if there is a god, however you must live your life as if there is or isn’t one, you cannot be neutral on the matter because there is literally no way to do that.

          so where things will have to be lived rather than just theorized you need to pick a side. now the rational will turn to the experts, respect that expertise and agree with the consensus, only a fool assumes they know more than the collective wisdom of experts in the field, particularly in in a world where it is increasingly impossible to know more than the basics in any given field of study / knowledge outside of your own.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I recommend all sorts of degrees of belief or doubt, except zero percent sure or one hundred percent sure.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          While a laudable philosophical stance, this does not address the question at hand, you may be intellectually on the fence about proof of the existence of god, however you live your life either as is there is or there isn’t for all practical considerations there is no fence on which to sit. As with many things when the rubber of theory hits the road of reality you have to pick a side.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I see the world as if the Christian God is just a fictional character.
          I remain open to new evidence on this topic.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          I agree with this sentiment, however that is not sitting on the fence, that is taking a position but being open to possibility of error, so a rational one.

    • Robert Conner

      No one needs to be sitting on the fence when it comes to Christianity. Christianity’s central prophecy, the imminent Parousia, abundantly attested in the gospels and the letters of Paul Did. Not. Happen. It is a verifiably false belief. All the thousands of End Times predictions spewing from the pie holes of Christian prophets since then Have. Not. Happened. Either. Christian belief is a collection of fables and folklore hung from a framework of historically plausible but meaningless events: a Galilean peasant, imagining the End was nigh, gathered a noisy group of followers and got himself crucified for his trouble.

      • Kodie

        Near where I live, there is a store parking lot light pole with a sticker on it with a date for the rapture that has long since passed. Earlier today, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said (what it looked like), “Ask me about RUH”, but I got a closer look, the word was tRUtH, with crosses for the t’s that were far fainter than the rest of the text. It’s like, why. Hardcore Christians are so weird.

        • GalapagosPete

          RUH-row!

      • Chuck Johnson

        The miraculous claims of any religion have little credibility to me.
        Scientific thinking cautions us about believing miraculous claims.

        The non-miraculous claims can be true or useful.
        Parables, proverbs, stories that reveal ancient ways of thinking, etc. can be useful to us.

        Apparently, the ancient storytellers and writers along with the early Christian church believed that the stories did not have enough punch, pizzazz and wow-factor, so they reinforced them with miraculous details.

        But I think that honesty is the best policy.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          There is a problem in that there is NOT ANY evidence to support the guy even existed.

        • Chuck Johnson

          There is all sorts of evidence for gods of various descriptions.
          The religionists are not working with “no evidence” they are working with evidence that has little credibility to me.

          The evidence that I value shows me that the Christian God is a fictional character and a human invention.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The Christians have plenty of evidence, loads of evidence.

    Evidence supplied by emotions, traditions, parental guidance, punishment or violence, wishful thinking and fearful thinking, social pressures, glittering prizes, and a whole host of others.

    Saying that Christians do not have evidence is one way to state the problem.
    But let’s also state it as a failure to know what good evidence might consist of.

    They don’t just need science lessons and reality lessons, the Christians also need lessons to teach them what constitutes good evidence or bad evidence.
    Lessons that aim towards discovering the truth, not just discovering comforting falsehoods.
    Or catering to their wish to not be sad.

  • SHANA MARIA VERGHIS

    Christians can be excessively self righteous, over judgmental, hypocritical parochial and inherently ridiculous.
    And I’m not just describing myself here.

  • Robert Conner

    I’d invite anyone to read the accounts of the resurrection as if you’d never heard of it before, like an outsider. Help starts here if you’re one of those lazy laymen who wants the Cliff Notes (first of seven short installments):

    https://new.exchristian.net/2019/02/so-just-how-dumb-were-jesus-disciples.html

    Then, having done this modicum of homework about the most crucial part of Christianity, ask yourself what are the odds this religion would produce a logical, coherent, credible argument for anything, an argument that avoids question begging, every logical fallacy known and several yet to be discovered, all manner of special pleading and mental fuzzy math.

    Ancient Christianity invoked visions, veiled prophecies, authority and “revelations,” not anything moderns would consider “evidence.” Only since the Enlightenment has there been any recent social pressure for Christians to conjure up some rational explanation for their sizzling gobbledygook. Rational explanation doesn’t fit Christian belief because rationality is an anachronism. Christian belief has never been a matter of “evidence” in any technical sense. Evidence of insanity perhaps, of delusion certainly, but not of facticity.

    • Kodie

      In discussion with Christians, I quickly label it a superstition, and they, of course, think of superstition like things like black cats, walking under a ladder, lucky pennies, or other “lucky” items. I really can’t the distinction. They believe some extra-lucky outcome from praying, or from being a “good Christian,” even though that often exposes them as a sick fuck, as I like to say. Kneeling in praise, essentially, in the comment box, because god reads Bob’s blog…. excusing their imaginary friend from what the bible portrays as some sickening acts that god did on purpose, I mean, maybe that’s just plain fear, but it’s the same plain fear an irrational person gets when they can’t find their lucky socks, or break a mirror, or whatever. Their salvation depends on god always being right, no matter what, which no “true” Christian fears that another interpretation gives them a better chance. They always know that other interpretation of the bible is mistaken by its followers. They can easily point out (but never do in the blog comments), what wrong Christians believe, but never recognize why those Christians sincerely believe they are the one true version of Christianity. They’ll even say they aren’t true Christians and we’re not all like that, but they will not recognize the process by which those Christians were fooled into their false beliefs. They will almost never correct another Christian they think is wrong, but all the way up and down the day, they will accuse atheists of thinking those Christians saying stupid things are correct, and haven’t heard of the real, authentic Christianity.

      They are just being superstitious. There is nothing different from religion and believing the universe can tell you what’s going to happen in your life today because of when you were born, or Friday the 13th, the full moon, or a 4-leaf clover.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        But what if you had a four leaf clover picked under a full moon on the friday the 13th. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME O_o

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…Petwahac….

          [A]n acronymical term, Petwhac (Population of Events That Would Have Appeared Coincidental). This is defined as all those events that may be considered to be a ‘coincidence’ if studied casually, but are both possible and statistically probable.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unweaving_the_Rainbow#Petwhac

          Anno, anno, yer being sarcastic…but not everyone knows without the bat signal “//s”.

    • Michael Neville

      Resurrecting gods are a dime a dozen. Osiris was not only killed but his body parts were scattered all over Egypt. They were painstakingly gathered together (except for his penis, which was eaten by a crocodile) and, after suitable mumbo-jumbo was pronounced, he’s all better. Rama (an avatar of Vishnu) got resurrected several times. Once he was in a battle and was killed by a demon in the morning. At noon he was resurrected and fought the demon again in the afternoon, killing it (the demon stayed dead). Loads of agriculture gods would die every winter and get resurrected in spring. Jesus being resurrected was guaranteed because of the boiler-plate god contract, no permanent dying.

      Visions and prophecies are quite common as well. The Greeks even had oracles (there were more than the one at Delphi) who prophesied professionally. Just keep the prophesies vague enough and you too can become a prophet.

      Nope, nothing particularly special about Christianity compared to other religions. Plus it shares one notable characteristic with every other religion, zip point zero evidence to support any of them.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        Yup, sit over a crack in the ground that spews out poison gas and mumble away while the priests ‘interpet’ your words.

    • epicurus

      I zipped over to your link and read your seven installments – good stuff!

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    I am obliged to accept science’s consensus view

    It’s worth noting apologist equivocation with this point. They love to pretend claims made by a scientist or in a scientific journal are just as much an appeal yo authority as those made by a preacher or in the Bible. What they miss (or pretend to miss) is the difference in underlying methodology.

    Neither the scientifist or publication in question is of particular importance; what is appealed to was the process used to acquire the information. Likewise, scientific consensus avoids being an appeal to popularity for the same reason.

    By contrast, the merits of biblical claims comes from the supposed authority of the Bible itself. It’s not even remotely similar.

    Their agenda shows when they let stand the science that is truly counterintuitive like Relativity or quantum mechanics.

    Precisely. I don’t recall where I read it (it may have been here for all I know), but i stumbled over a great point about how apologists approach the two spheres. With science, being hard to grasp or counterintuitive is considered evidence of error, whereas the same qualities in god are brushed off as mysteries or even treated as evidence of majesty. It’s really quite silly.