Not Freethinking: Street Epistemology Creeps Me Out

Not Freethinking: Street Epistemology Creeps Me Out July 23, 2018

Aren’t we supposed to question everything, including our own beliefs?

The Socratic Method (“I Drank What?”)

Anthony Magnabosco recently gave an interview to The Thinking Atheist where he described his concept of “street epistemology.” He talks to strangers on the street and asks them how they know their beliefs (usually in God, ghosts, or the supernatural) are true. In this way he tries to get them to doubt their beliefs. He calls this method “a turning point for atheism.”

Anthony describes his use of the Socratic method like this:

[Socrates] was asking, How do you know that that’s true? People rarely slow down to think about the beliefs that they’ve formed. They’re forming them, but they don’t usually reflect on the formation process. Whether you believe in a god or you don’t, it doesn’t really matter; the beliefs that we hold, we don’t usually take the time to inspect the steps that we use to get there.

I don’t dispute any of that. Skepticism is about judging the validity of claims and understanding the basis for our beliefs. Does street epistemology really do this?

Speak Softly and Carry a Clipboard

In the interview, Anthony talks about the many fruitless debates he had with believers. Finally he decided to adopt an approach that was less about confrontation and more about dialogue. On his YouTube channel, you can see plenty of videos where Anthony has discussions with strangers about their beliefs. He asks them questions in a very polite and empathetic manner, probing deeper and deeper with each question into how they developed and maintain their belief in religion, mysticism, or the supernatural. Though a few of the interviewees get angry at Anthony’s constant questioning, most of the conversations are civil and pleasant.

I find it hard to object to any attempt to foster better dialogue between atheists and believers. The God-is-God-ain’t debate is something I find futile and irrelevant, and Anthony is at least trying to get atheists to listen to religious people instead of just falling back on mockery and ridicule. So what’s my beef with street epistemology?

Dialogue is a Two Way Street

The problem with this method is that it’s one-sided. Anthony has picked a category of beliefs—those that are religious or supernatural—and decided to make people question those beliefs. In other words, Anthony wants people who believe things he doesn’t believe to start doubting.

Anyone else see the problem here?

In the videos where Anthony’s interviewee turns out to be an atheist, he never goes deeper into their belief system, unless they admit to a belief in kooky things like ghosts or karma. Anthony doesn’t seem to think he needs to probe deeper into why the nonreligious believe the things they do about truth, science, history, or morality. It implies that as long as we don’t have religious or supernatural beliefs, we have no need whatsoever to examine our way of forming beliefs.

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Even though some of his videos have titles like “So What Is Truth?” and “Appraising Truth,” Anthony never explains exactly what he means by truth, or how we’re supposed to establish the validity of our beliefs. It’s as if true things are just self-evidently true, and that’s why Anthony feels no need to question them. He mentions falsification, and even insists that unfalsifiable beliefs are groundless; but I’m a skeptic when it comes to this rule. If you believe that all humans are mortal, that there are fish in the Atlantic Ocean, or that you were conceived, then you have unfalsifiable beliefs just like the rest of us.

It’s important that we acknowledge our own blind spots and understand the grounds for our beliefs. There are valid reasons to profess belief in things we don’t completely understand, or to appeal to the authority of experts. And we need to realize that there’s no one universally applicable yardstick for truth: the way we judge beliefs about the age of the Earth true is different than the way we judge beliefs about what constitutes a good society true.

Street epistemology, then, is an idea that panders to our intellectual cowardice. If we feel more comfortable making others question their beliefs than forcing ourselves to question what we believe, then we’re not really dedicated to skepticism or freethinking. Skepticism isn’t about exempting our own beliefs about truth, reality, and knowledge from critical scrutiny. Freethinking isn’t about making sure that everyone else thinks exactly the way we do.

Anybody want to play street epistemology? Tell me something you believe and I’ll grill you mercilessly!


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  • > that there are fish in the Atlantic Ocean,

    I understood the rest of the beliefs in the list which included this as non-falsifiable, but how is this one?

    Wouldn’t the belief be falsifiable in the antecedent by catching fish in the atlantic? like using a trawler or something?

    is it falsifiability i don’t understand? isn’t something falsifiable if it can be demonstrated? not just if it can be disproved, but if it can be tested? even if that test leads to an affirmative?

    i could see it being unfalsifiable if you never caught any fish, but that would also ignore the pretty easily documentable fact that fish are pulled from the atlantic, right?

  • simpledinosaur

    Yes, there’s something fishy about that fish example. For the proposition to be unfalsifiable, it would have to be impossible to find out whether there are in fact any fish, or no fish in the given body of water. It would be hard to determine that there are NO fish in the Atlantic, but given the right technology, not impossible. But all you need is one fish to prove there are fish somewhere. The author clearly misspoke.

  • That’s what i was guessing as well. It’s good to see you here simpledino.

    Shem’s discussions are pretty thought provoking. And frankly, I don’t often have occasion to level a question like this toward one of his posts – he’s thorough. I suspect a typo or otherwise as you say, Shem misspoke.

  • simpledinosaur

    I know the “new atheist” type the author is referencing here — they’re smug, usually young-to-middle-aged, usually male. They seem to think “reason” is the answer to everything. It’s the answer to a great deal in life, to be sure — certainly we should try to be reasonable about most of our affairs, and to apply reason and logic to solve practical problems. But some things in life don’t respond well to reason and logic, and for that part of life, it seems to many that poetry, art, religious beliefs, and so forth respond to them better. To deal with the terrors of growing old and finding yourself abandoned by those you depended on, I think Shakespeare’s King Lear is probably more worthwhile than a scientific treatise on the aging process, or a copy of Gray’s Anatomy.

  • #realTalk

    =D

  • simpledinosaur

    #dinosarealwaysrightexceptwhenthey’rewrongandeventhentheirsnarlingwillconvinceyou

  • Walter White

    Hey — when you got it, you got it! 😉

    I know the “new atheist” type the author is referencing here — they’re smug, usually young-to-middle-aged, usually male.

  • My point is that it’s not feasible to demonstrate that there are no fish in the Atlantic, and thereby falsify my belief that there are fish in the Atlantic.

    Like I said, I’m a skeptic as to the utility of the falsifiability concept. Once we get into whether it’s at all conceivable to falsify a claim “given the right technology,” then the sky’s the limit on things like God-detector devices and time machines, and then by definition nothing is unfalsifiable.

  • lol.

    On a related note to your earlier comment about King Lear.

    Forgive me for invoking a contemporary exploration of mortality and morality in service to a future beyond himself – in Breaking Bad’s Walter White character.

    I think it was brilliant. Maybe one of the best stories to ever grace a screen.

    There are very few explorations of the human condition through fiction I’d hold to Shakespeare’s efforts.

    But Breaking Bad is one, IMO, even if saying so makes me sound like an unwashed, uncultured American heathen. =D

  • simpledinosaur

    Yo Walter White, we all thought you were dead, man! I mean, that last episode and all. But then, people think I’m extinct. People are often wrong. In fact, they usually are.

  • i just got done invoking walter white from breaking bad in this discussion, and here you are.

    are your ears burning?

  • Gary Whittenberger

    SP1: The problem with this method is that it’s one-sided. Anthony has picked a category of beliefs-those that are religious or supernatural-and decided to make people question those beliefs. In other words, Anthony wants people who believe things he doesn’t believe to start doubting.
    Anyone else see the problem here?

    GW1: No, I don’t see any problem here. Anthony is just using the same strategy used by many religious evangelists.

    SP1: It implies that as long as we don’t have religious or supernatural beliefs, we have no need whatsoever to examine our way of forming beliefs.

    GW1: Of course we do, but that is not Anthony’s goal. His goal is to get religious people to examine their way of forming beliefs. That is a laudable goal.

    SP1: If you believe that all humans are mortal, that there are fish in the Atlantic Ocean, or that you were conceived, then you have unfalsifiable beliefs just like the rest of us.

    GW1: Do you think these beliefs are unfalsifiable? If so, tell us why.

    SP1: And we need to realize that there’s no one universally applicable yardstick for truth…

    GW1: Actually there is. In general, it is reason.

    SP1: Street epistemology, then, is an idea that panders to our intellectual cowardice.

    GW1: I disagree. It takes a lot of courage and patience to do what Anthony does.

    SP1: If we feel more comfortable making others question their beliefs than forcing ourselves to question what we believe, then we’re not really dedicated to skepticism or freethinking.

    GW1: This is a red herring. Both those who are dedicated to skepticism and those who are not are probably going to feel more comfortable making others question their beliefs rather than questioning their own beliefs.

    SP1: Anybody want to play street epistemology? Tell me something you believe and I’ll grill you mercilessly!

    GW1: Sure. I believe that God does not exist.

  • i agree with the intent, but also i could say the inability to prove a negative might be read as a more general logic problem and not specifically related to falsifiability.

    That said, I share your skepticism of falsifiability. It’s a useful concept that has its limits.

    And frankly it’s pretty fungible even in the messy extents of science, like theoretical physics.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Reason is the best method for tackling such questions as “What is true?” “What is morally correct?” If you think there is a better method, please describe and defend it.

  • I’ll only respond if you commit to clarity and stop deliberately formatting your posts to make them confusing and hard to follow.

  • Walter White

    Heh! Must’ve been! 🙂

  • Walter White

    Naw, I faked it! 😉

    I’ve got two of your type in my home right now — they’re my kids’ budgerigars.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    I’m already committed to clarity. My posts are deliberately formatted to make them clear and easy to follow. They accurately quote the other person and present a direct response. What could be better?

    You may respond or not.

  • simpledinosaur

    Oh for the love of homo sapiens! I’m not suggesting that reason isn’t tremendously valuable. All I’m saying is that “reason” sometimes lets us down — there are times when people are in need of support or comfort, and just telling them the unvarnished “truth” doesn’t quite do the trick. You can base morals on reason and utility to some extent, but it also involves other qualities and sensibilities. Read John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography on this if you haven’t already: he was raised by Utilitarian stalwarts to believe everything had to be looked at on utilitarian grounds (based in the application of reason to human life, sensibilities, etc.) to bring about “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” possible. But that was a rather mechanical and reductive way of thinking about human life, about what “makes people tick.” Mill found this out painfully when he had what we would now call a “nervous breakdown.” Know what he found most useful thereafter? Poetry.

  • then you’re doing it wrong.

    And I’m not the only one that has explicitly told you this.

    The person you responded to has also told you this.

    Your posts are an attempt to cram too much irrelevant information into them.

    When you are responding to someone you don’t need to use their initials before every quote. Nor does appending a numeric do anything but confuse.

    It clutters.

    It’s especially redundant when you initial yourself.

    redundancy is bad writing

    There are several ubiquitously understood ways to quote people that don’t clutter your post with redundancy.

    <blockquote>…</blockquote> tag is one.

    quotation marks are another.

    and there’s also the universally understood line-quote used ever since pre-internet email, and later usenet, and now on the web

    > quoted text.

    There’s reason Only You format your posts the way you do.

    Nobody else does it because it’s counterproductive and would make them harder, not easier to read.

  • Annerdr

    I’ve used this method in the occasional one-on-one conversation with Christian friends who bring the subject up. Mostly, asking “how do you know that?” makes them stop and question themselves for a moment. It’s never turn a Christian into an atheist, but that’s never been my aim. I just wanted them to be less sure about their more harmful beliefs in the hopes that their more harmful beliefs will be less likely to overcome their conscience.

  • simpledinosaur

    Well, good — we were worried about you for a while there.

  • i’ve found the same with village atheists and their incessant de facto appeals to logical positivism.

  • But some things in life don’t respond well to reason and logic, and for that part of life, it seems to many that poetry, art, religious beliefs, and so forth respond to them better.

    That’s another thing that bothers me about the “street epistemology” thing: it’s not like every one of our beliefs is amenable to reason in the same way as our beliefs about the orbit of the Earth. I’m by no means suggesting that the sky’s the limit on speculation, but without acknowledging the distinction between empirical reality and the value-laden way we conduct our lives and societies, this is an exercise in “just asking questions” and refusing all answers.

    SE seems like a great way for atheists to become like those religious guys with the sandwich boards that read JESUS IS LORD who hang around subways and everybody tries to avoid making eye contact with.

  • chemical

    I think falsifiability was more designed to keep science grounded. The purpose was to prevent the scientist from making a claim, and then thinking it’s true because it’s impossible to prove it’s false. This keeps science focused on topics where there is evidence to support viewpoints and prevents wild, baseless speculation.

  • i would agree with that, as it seems to jibe with what Popper wrote about it.

    I’m not sure Shem would strictly disagree.

    I read Shem here as dismissing the universal utility of falsifiability – as in saying it has its limits. And perhaps being overly relied on even when it’s not necessarily appropriate. But then, that’s just the impression i get after reading Shem quite a bit in general.

  • I agree, it’s a reasonable constraint on speculation and not an iron-clad law.

    However, I’ve heard a lot of people state that “we shouldn’t believe unfalsifiable claims,” Anthony included.

  • Yeah, I was thinking that this is similar to Christian proselytizing

  • That opens up a whole can of worms. I’d be a lot more interested in challenging people’s beliefs on the grounds of whether they’re good for society than whether they’re true.

    Anthony explicitly asks his interview subjects whether they believe something because it makes them feel good, whether or not it’s true. In a very real sense, I really don’t think it matters to me whether my basic beliefs about social justice are true. Now, I don’t mean that it doesn’t matter whether incidents like police shooting an unarmed African-American are true, or that the pay gap for women is a statistical fact. What I mean is that I wouldn’t know how to substantiate with evidence my belief that African-Americans deserve the same treatment as white people or my belief that women are not inferior to men. I can’t in all honesty say I’d change my mind if “evidence” proving otherwise were presented, because I have no idea what such evidence would consist of.

  • Jim Jones

    quotation marks are another.

    As are italics.

  • Jim Jones

    It’s a good response to proselytizing. My home is now red lined by Mormons and JWs.

  • Jim Jones

    > All I’m saying is that “reason” sometimes lets us down — there are times when people are in need of support or comfort, and just telling them the unvarnished “truth” doesn’t quite do the trick.

    Of course. For example, human fetuses which have certain deformities are often spontaneously aborted by the mother’s body because they will not thrive.

    But I would never point that out to a grieving mother.

  • sometimes. i don’t prefer them, because of ambiguity, and also it’s better used in other arenas, styles of writing, such as technical writing or even prologues in novels and such, but on a forum they can be problematic.

    Meaning i don’t disagree with you. It’s valid. But I wouldn’t be the one to list them to george since my goal was to help him *clarify* rather than trade clutter for ambiguity.

  • Jim Jones

    Black Swan.

  • Jim Jones

    > My point is that it’s not feasible to demonstrate that there are no fish in the Atlantic, and thereby falsify my belief that there are fish in the Atlantic.

    It’s not possible to prove that there are no space aliens living among us, disguised as humans.

    And G W Bush may be an example of one.

  • Jim Jones

    > Tell me something you believe and I’ll grill you mercilessly!

    The universe is bigger than we think.

  • Jim Jones

    Most discussions start with a “What is the …?” question or similar. After that, “How do you know?” is the only response needed, repeated as required.

  • Jim Jones

    Wot?

  • > I wouldn’t know how to substantiate with evidence my belief that African-Americans deserve the same treatment as white people

    I’m glad you concede that much, because i’d even argue that notion seems Bad For Society(TM) (at least in my estimation)

    Because it runs counter to how people *will* operate regardless of that belief. It’s not feasible unless you can get society to agree, and yet, i think socially liberal notions like yours in this case, tend to understate the permanence of the influence of tribalism.

    I’d also suggest that a drive to treating everyone the same is a tacit call for everyone to act the same.

    Why should a constitution written by people that enslaved black people, and almost entirely (with a couple of exceptions) was written without black people as human beings in mind be used to define the parameters of acceptable socio-legal behavior of black people?. I mean, sure the 13th and 14th amendments are i guess “helpful”, but how has that prevented the US from enslaving a disproportionate amount of black citizens even today using the carve out in the 13th amendment for convicts? I’m betting against a black person with personal exposure to slavery from the slave end of things would have been as eager to produce the convict exception.

    It was never suited to equalize treatment of people either – like, the CRA had to be justified by the commerce clause, the same catch all loophole for shoehorning otherwise unconstitutional decisions into law. The same clause that all but killed bottom-up worker organizing by way of Taft-Hartley.

    So why should this document which was written with white men in mind, with everyone else as an afterthought, be the basis of law under which black people must live?

    Isn’t that oppressive? Doesn’t that in practice require black people to adopt a social/legal contract specifically optimized for white men?

    Is that really justice?

  • holding science as the holy grail of all human knowledge as though science is even capable of achieving a complete and unassailable explanation for all aspects of human existence, if not now than Someday(TM)

  • Jim Jones

    Let me know when not-science explains anything.

  • can you parameterize or at least expound on who this “we” is?

  • Genesis 18-19 explains why the US is experiencing ever more frequent mass shootings.

    Science isn’t there yet.

  • Lurianic Kabbalah explains the direct events leading to the big bang, and explains Genesis’ conception of the creation of the universe, and its creation ex nihilo, and arguably de novo.

  • Philosophy is an umbrella term for methods of inquiry far beyond science itself. But it includes the philosophy of science, and the logic behind the scientific method.

    Which itself isn’t science, but the rationalization for scientific inquiry itself.

  • But but but where’s your evidence??

  • Science thus far is barely even flirting with the questions like “what is the purpose of the criminal?”

    since CASt is still in its infancy, it will probably be decades before there’s a solid scientific answer for that.

  • Jim Jones

    > “what is the purpose of the criminal?”

    Why do you think there is one?

  • because they are inevitable.

    because no socially networked human collective beyond the size of Dunbar’s Number, or even its derivative variants has ever existed without the criminal.

  • Jim Jones

    Wot?

    Not even close. There are more mass shootings because people have realized they can do it, and don’t see a good reason not to.

  • Jim Jones

    Humans. Owls are OK with it.

  • where’s your evidence that people didn’t realize that they could use guns to shoot a bunch of people? The use of firearms in war seems to be a glaring counterexample to your suggestion.

  • well then i can dismiss your claim of we on the basis of me. a counterexample, since i have little reason to believe we can accurately determine the size of the universe.

    And even less reason to believe it’s of a fixed size.

  • also your comment is an own goal with respect to your initial objection.

    you just explained a thing, without using science. (I think your explanation is bogus, but that’s an opinion of mine, absent evidence to the contrary and in any case beside the point)

    so thanks for that. because you asked me to show you where non-science explains anything.

    and you just used non-science to explain the increase in frequency of mass shootings.

  • As ObstacleChick pointed out, though, it’s pretty comparable to Christian proselytizing. Trying to get strangers to “see the light” has a long and not very noble history.

    My home is now red lined by Mormons and JWs.

    Putting the street back in street epistemology: “If it was up your ass you’d know it!”

  • > I wouldn’t know how to substantiate with evidence my belief that African-Americans deserve the same treatment as white people

    This deserves an alternative solution, not just my criticism, so here goes.

    What about *mercy* as a grounding principle?

    Especially mercy for the outcast, the criminal, the poor, the mad, the black, the queer, the artist, the invader, and the sojourner?

    What about the restorative justice of redemption, which can only really be realized through the application of mercy?

    What if “what people deserve” is a red herring? What if how we feel toward the “despicable” or “detestable” or “ignoble” transgressors in our lives isn’t justification for us transgressing them? What if the most important thing is mercy for the people we love to hate?

    What if we imagine a society built on mercy instead of “equality”?

    Imagine if that was in our pledge? in our constitution, as the justification for a nation?

  • Gary Whittenberger

    HC2: then you’re doing it wrong.

    GW2: There is no “wrong” way to do it. You just don’t like my way and you like your way.

    HC2: And I’m not the only one that has explicitly told you this. The person you responded to has also told you this.

    GW2: I agree with those two claims. So what?

    HC2: Your posts are an attempt to cram too much irrelevant information into them.

    GW2: I disagree. All my posts include statements made by others which I think are significant and my responses to them. They are all relevant.

    HC2: When you are responding to someone you don’t need to use their initials before every quote. Nor does appending a numeric do anything but confuse. It clutters.

    GW2: I don’t need to, but I choose to. That enables me to at times respond to more than one person in the same post. The numeric is not confusing if you know why it’s there. It indicates the round of response to one person in the thread. So, this time “2″ is the number because you and I are responding in the second round. Get it?

    HC2: It’s especially redundant when you initial yourself.

    GW2: The initials clearly distinguish persons. I don’t need to use quotation marks.

    HC2: redundancy is bad writing

    GW2: I agree. I avoid redundancy.

    HC2: There are several ubiquitously understood ways to quote people that don’t clutter your post with redundancy.

    tag is one. quotation marks are another. and there’s also the universally understood line-quote used ever since pre-internet email, and later usenet, and now on the web > quoted text.

    GW2: Yes, I am familiar with them. They don’t work as well as my method.

    GW2: Also, there is a well accepted way to write sentences. Capitalize the first letter of the first word. Put a punctuation point at the end. And usually use a noun and verb. Try it.

    HC2: There’s reason Only You format your posts the way you do.

    GW2: That’s because people have not tried it enough to see how well it works. Some other people have tried it, liked it, and adopted it. It is an excellent format for written debates.

    HC2: Nobody else does it because it’s counterproductive and would make them harder, not easier to read.

    GW2: I disagree. It is very productive and easy to read. It is similar to the dialogue written for play or movie scripts. Try it; you’ll like it.

    GW2: Are you going to continue to harp about format or are you going to comment about substantive issues relevant to the original essay?

  • i’m blocking you once again since you refuse to post clearly.

  • simpledinosaur

    That oughtta be the name of a rock band. Love it.

  • simpledinosaur

    There — exactly so. It would be barbaric to do that.

  • ephemerol

    I don’t think anyone should feel alone in being a little queasy about “street epistemology.” I think there’s plenty in the atheist community who aren’t convinced it’s a workable idea. Myself, I think there’s something not entirely above-board about the gambit. No matter how it’s defenders talk up the theory behind it, the vibe I get from it is the same kind of vibe I get from Scientologists with their table set up outside a big box store touting a free “stress test.” It’s not a fucking stress test. If John Q. Citizen doesn’t buy a thing with the straight-forward approach, I’m not sure the down-low approach changes anything except to add an extra layer of objectionableness for the lack of honesty employed by its salesmen.

    That being said, what I detect in the rest of this post, to get straight to the point, is much fallacious leveling, equivocation, or conflating of things that are not the same, and much of it hinges around a use of the word “belief” that seems intended to muddy the unerlying evidential waters.

    Shem is propping up a straw man when he says, “If you believe that all humans are mortal….” I don’t “believe” that. My experience suggests it’s highly probable, but I’m not dogmatic about that. I’d be surprised if a case of a 200 or 2,000 year old man were ever documented. Still, if C. elegans, just by tinkering with their rsks-1 and daf-2 genes can have a 5-fold increase in lifespan, then it’s not theoretically impossible for people to have lifespans of biblical proportions. I’m not sure that qualifies as immortal though. Based on everything I know about humans, the inevitablility of eventual mortality seems like a wholly reasonable expectation, but there’s no religious overtones to that, as the use of the word “belief” might suggest. Is there any case to be made for a human individual to survive eternally, like, longer than billions and trillions of years? Is there any evidence or theoretical basis for any human individuals to be immortal. such that we should expect that instead? I’m not aware of any.

    To couch all this in the language of religious dogma may be colloquial, but to have an actual discussion requires that the language be elevated above that toward the level of precision that allows the water to be unmuddied. When we have a long history and a large body of documented evidence suggesting something is provisionally true, typically we call that “knowledge.” When we have only a history of scant and poor quality evidence, but plenty of excuses for why nobody can seem to document a phenomenon, we might be justified in calling that a “belief.” If someone wants to conflate the knowledge that there are fish in the Atlantic ocean with the belief that there’s a dinosaur in Loch Ness by simply referring to both of these as “beliefs,” I’d say that person didn’t really want to have an honest conversation about the sharp differential in the evidence for each. There’s a difference between them, and that difference is evidence.

    That Magnabosco has chosen to specialize on skepticism of religious belief is no more a problem than the fact that a zoologist specializes in animals he can observe, but is skeptical of cryptozoology. Science may be grounded, but the reason why it is, is because the things that have been placed on provisionally solid ground have been placed there on the basis of evidence that was sufficient to overcome the skeptics. Not to say there couldn’t be an earthquake that unseats anything that for now appears to be grounded, just to be clear. But religious belief is groundless and it remains so after thousands of years of tryng and failing to ground it. The difference between these is evidence.

    Second, to call the claim that all men are mortal “unfalsifiable” when it isn’t the sort of thing that lends itself to direct deductive proof, but only an indirect inductive case, how is that not a category error? It’s fine to use the adjective “green” to describe the healthy leaves of a Ginko tree, but to use that modifier to describe a scent or a texture, or a sound is out of place. So in this respect, this is Jabberwocky. Something that can only be proven inductively doesn’t correspond to any usage of the word unfalsifiable that I’m familiar with.

    Third, what’s with the tu quoque “gotcha” thing going on here? Why is there the accusation of hypocrisy embedded in this? Religious apologists use this tu quoque “gotcha” trick all the time. A frequently occurring example of this is the leveling or equivocation between the properly basic assumption and the improper, or the circular and the viciously circular. They’ll berate scientists for having “faith,” call it a “religion,” and tell them that they “believe” in the 5 properly basic, circular assumptions of science (as though they were unnecessary, and humans were somehow actually in the position of not having to make a few assumptions just in order to productively proceed with science), making an accusation of hypocrisy, when actually it’s just a straw man, and then turn around and suggest that it’s not really a bad thing after all, except that the assumptions they should be making instead are of the improperly basic and visciously circular variety instead.

    And that’s what we see here. OTOH, you’re a hypocrite for not being skeptical enough of the things I want you to be skeptical of, while OTOH, he doubles back around to say he’s skeptical that unfalsifiable beliefs are actually groundless after all. If it weren’t for all the muddy water, maybe I could tell what he was really talking about, but it sure sounds like he wants me to reject the properly basic while accepting that which is improperly so.

    Which brings me to my final point. If I feel queasy about street epistemology, I also feel queasy in the same sort of way when I read this post. While I understand one of the things that’s being sold here is postmodernism, and my qualms with that are similar to those that Rick Snedeker pointed out recently, there’s something else, something on the low-down, something that requires the scuttling of the possibility for an honest conversation. I can’t quite put my finger on what unfalsifiable things Shem thinks are grounded, but that queasy feeling makes me doubt that if and when I ever do find out, my nausea will only increase. If Shem could make his case with just evidence and sound, clear reasoning and without having to employ the down-low dishonest tricks of the religious apologist and the hated street epistemologist, then it’s my initial supposition that he would. If he can, then I advise him to begin doing so.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    SD1: Oh for the love of homo sapiens! I’m not suggesting that reason isn’t tremendously valuable. All I’m saying is that “reason” sometimes lets us down — there are times when people are in need of support or comfort, and just telling them the unvarnished “truth” doesn’t quite do the trick.

    GW1: Reason might direct one to tell them the “varnished truth” (truth properly framed) or to postpone the truth. So, this is a case in which reason would not let you down.

    SD1: You can base morals on reason and utility to some extent, but it also involves other qualities and sensibilities.

    GW1: Other qualities and sensibilities might have some bearing on the derivation of a moral code, but reason should be the last arbiter. Can you think of any example where it would not?

    SD1: Read John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography on this if you haven’t already: he was raised by Utilitarian stalwarts to believe everything had to be looked at on utilitarian grounds (based in the application of reason to human life, sensibilities, etc.) to bring about “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” possible. But that was a rather mechanical and reductive way of thinking about human life, about what “makes people tick.” Mill found this out painfully when he had what we would now call a “nervous breakdown.” Know what he found most useful thereafter? Poetry.

    GW1: I doubt that his education in utilitarianism had anything to do with his “nervous breakdown.” Perhaps by the application of reason he determined that poetry would help him cope.

    GW1: Reason is like a Swiss Army Knife. It has so many applications. If you think it has let you down or others down, I’d like to hear some examples.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    You’re blocking me because you can’t handle it when somebody disagrees with you.

  • Jim Jones

    I rarely go out of my way to do it, but if they come for me I like to screw with them.

    It’s only fair.

  • Jim Jones

    Maybe you don’t know what science is.

    It’s the study of repeating or repeatable phenomena.

    Mass shootings keep occurring. And for all its faults, psychology has some basis in reality.

  • Jim Jones

    There’s an epoch effect. Before and after 9/11. Before and after Columbine.

  • Jim Jones

    Human society runs on rules. Some people wan’t follow them.

  • Jim Jones

    The Hubble telescope.

  • No problem here.

    It’s just that the point is we shouldn’t be accosting strangers to get them to think the way we do.

  • Coincidence…or conspiracy??

  • Jim Jones

    Although the US is desperately short of rationality.

  • Missed the point yet again. I’m done with this now.

  • The people that won’t follow them are the architects of societies.

    A criminal acts, and society creates a law in response.

    A society is a response, not an initial proposition.

    If no human ever murdered another human it would not even occur to pass a law against it.

  • i can name numerous watershed moments in mass shootings, columbine only being one in a larger series.

    which is now accelerating with

    each
    passing
    year

  • I know what science is. Which is why i said your response wasn’t science.

    and psychology isn’t science.

    it’s a stovepipe system. may as well read tarot.

  • smrnda

    Maybe it would be more balanced if, instead of just doing this ‘Socratic method’ for beliefs that are false, he’d do some dialogs with people about things that are true? Ask ‘does the earth go around the sun or the other way around? How do we know this?’ I’m sure many people who believe the right answer would be hard pressed to explain.

    I doubt it’s feasible for most people to know the ‘why’ of everything, but given that someone can know the right answer but not know why sort of shows a fault in the Socratic method.

  • smrnda

    The problem with a term like ‘mercy’ is that I don’t think it’s very meaningful. I’ve seen people argue that ‘mercy’ means a sort of ‘get out of jail free card’ – it’s why Christian clergy caught doing unethical things can simply apologize and anyone who brings it up is ‘not showing mercy.’

  • smrnda

    Logical positivism seems to be the wrong thing – I think the correct term of derision is ‘scientism.’

  • smrnda

    How does it explain the absence of mass shootings elsewhere?

  • smrnda

    As long is it tests a falsifiable hypothesis using experiments and data, psychology is a science. How up to date are you on psychology? Freud is no longer psychology. People who say ‘psychology isn’t science’ are usually not up to date.

  • > As long is it tests a falsifiable hypothesis using experiments and data, psychology is a science.

    That’s why psychology isn’t science. Most of it is not falsifiable.

  • easy.

    other societies aren’t as awful toward the people the society undervalues or despises – the least of these among us.

    other societies don’t lock up as many of their own citizens as the US does.

    other societies don’t throw most of their mentally ill in prison or murder them in the street.

    other societies tend to do more for the people that have the least.

  • logical positivism was essentially an attempt to formalize and prove scientism.

  • it’s totally meaningful.

    more meaningful that equality.

    at least with mercy i have slide rule that helps me apply it any situation using Torah appropriately.

    equality? that’s not even meaningful.

    how is the murderer equal to the peaceful citizen?

    it’s a fairy tale.

  • i should amend my statement.

    it’s “bad science”

    which is arguably worse than “not science”

  • Brother TC

    I didn’t believe absolute truth could be known until I was saved.

  • Ask ‘does the earth go around the sun or the other way around? How do we know this?’ I’m sure many people who believe the right answer would be hard pressed to explain.

    Exactly. Crackpots and conspiracy theorists make a lotta hay out of exploiting our less-than-comprehensive knowledge of how things work and our inability to immediately contextualize their factoids. If we’re not sure why the gas chambers at Dachau were never used (hint: because the inmates were being very accommodating about dying from disease and starvation already), then we’re sitting ducks for the Holocaust denier’s leading questions and selective appraisal of the evidence.

  • yeah but in practice that helps almost nobody.

    not very many people are actually saved.

    and most people who are sure they are will not be.

  • the hubble telescope is so powerful it can show you what “we” think?

  • Brother TC

    Strait is the gate.

  • and very narrow.

    so, like i essentially said, salvation isn’t a reliable mechanism to transfer truth.

    1. You can’t save people. That’s between them and christ.

    2. Most people will not be saved.

    3. Since it’s not within your capability to transfer salvation, and since most people will not see it, there’s very little utility for anyone else in your notion of absolute truth.

  • Brother TC

    1. You can’t save people. That’s entirely up to God.

    2. Most people will not be saved.

    3. Jesus calls His followers to preach the gospel to all the world. It pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    Knowing the power of God, I don’t bother to question the utility of His prescribed salvific techniques and epistemological modalities.

  • many of the conditions listed in the DSM anyway are rooted in fallacious logic.

    Autogynephilia for example, is completely unfalsifiable, and its diagnostic is rooted in a fundamental tautology, to wit: If you say you have the feelings associated with it, you’re telling the truth, if you say otherwise, that itself is evidence of the condition.

    Delusion is another one. It’s rooted in the notion that the what someone believes flies in the face of evidence, but ultimately it comes down to a doctor deciding your truth is false. Sometimes, the doctor doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Psychosis is another one, which suggests a break with reality. But a psychotic event can (though typically doesn’t) produce productive understanding of reality. So how can it be a break with reality in the cases where it produces meaningful insight?

  • your first 3 points, taken together, underscore the problem. it is not a very useful way to transfer truth.

    > Knowing the power of God, I don’t bother to question the utility of His prescribed salvific techniques and epistemological modalities.

    Then you’re on the wrong thread.

    You should probably go and hit the religious section of patheos.

  • Brother TC

    We’re talking about epistemology, truth and beliefs, right? I think I’m in the right place.

    I find it interesting that you’ve used the words “utility” and “usefulness.” What are you trying to achieve, exactly? Do you know the truth about anything?

  • No I don’t know the truth about anything.

    But I know where my faith is placed.

    And I know the cost of my choices.

    And that’s what matters.

  • Why do you believe you have the absolute truth?

    God doesn’t reveal his whole truth to us, and we couldn’t comprehend it if He did.

  • smrnda

    The problem is that ‘mercy’ can make the murderer equal to the peaceful citizen.

    I’d go so far as to say I don’t think ‘equality’ is meaningful enough, and I’d like to see all this inspiring poetry replaced with bland legal wordings that spell out explicit rights and obligations.

  • smrnda

    I asked about how your Christian Bible reference applies. There are few mass shootings in Japan, the PRC, or Denmark for that matter. All of those countries are fairly secular, but yet all of them have very different societies, legal systems, governments, and not all show equal concern for the ‘least among’ them. The PRC is pretty authoritarian and has little respect for human rights, though violent crime is low. The lack of availability of firearms seems the likely explanation for the lack of mass shootings. Japan does better on human rights though there is a huge push towards conformity – violence is rare and guns are totally illegal.

  • Brother TC

    “No I don’t know the truth about anything.”

    With all due respect, you shouldn’t be giving anyone advice regarding the truth, then.

    “Why do you believe you have the absolute truth?”

    I believe in Jesus Christ, and the truth is Jesus Christ. Furthermore, as a believer, the Holy Spirit indwells me and brings to my understanding the truth in God’s word.

    Why did you slip in the word “whole?” I never claimed to know everything. I only claim to know the absolute truth about something absolutely crucial.

  • smrnda

    Maybe you can get an advanced degree in psychology and publish some papers and then you can talk about the field. Look up papers in cognitive psychology and tell me they are ‘not science.’

    I also note that in your previous posts you’re confusing ‘psychiatry’ with ‘psychology.’ Psychiatry is a medical practice; psychology is a field of scientific inquiry. When it comes to deciding ‘what is a mental illness’ we’re going to be stuck with definitions that hinge on things like ‘is this person capable of functioning in society?’ This is why many religious ideas are exempt for the category ‘delusions’ – despite having no basis in reality, the medical profession has (diplomatically) decided against categorizing them that way. Diagnosis is more a practical concern.

    At the same time, most religious belief can be explained by psychology, though cognitive biases that are common to everybody instead of mental illnesses which are not.

  • smrnda

    The DSM is a manual for psychiatrists, useful in diagnosing mental illnesses so they can treat people and still be compensated by insurance. You seriously don’t get the gap between clinical practice and the field of psychology as an academic discipline? Wow, you’ve got some reading to catch up on then.

  • smrnda

    There have been mass shootings since the invention of firearms. It’s just that the firearms have become more effective thanks to technological advances. There are fewer serial killers. Why? DNA evidence most likely, as well as other technologies that make evading capture harder for murderers.

  • > With all due respect, you shouldn’t be giving anyone advice regarding the truth, then.

    I’ve not offered anyone advice on the truth because the only thing i know about truth is that it is a paradox.

    > I believe in Jesus Christ, and the truth is Jesus Christ

    Jesus is Christ. You are not. So you don’t have complete access to the truth.

    The truth is something else. God has it ergo, Christ has it.

    Sometimes he deigns reveal some of it.

    But you’re prideful to think you have it, yet it’s humility that breeds awareness.

    You said you had the absolute truth. You didn’t qualify it. That’s why i said whole.

  • smrnda

    People need to be able to explain ‘why do you trust this source and not another?’ Crackpots like to pretend that trusting peer reviewed scientific research is exactly the same as trusting fourth hand rumors. But if people understood the peer review process, they totally wouldn’t fall for it.

  • The Christian bible isn’t relevant to this. Genesis is Torah.

    > There are few mass shootings in Japan, the PRC, or Denmark for that matter. All of those countries are fairly secular, but yet all of them have very different societies, legal systems, governments, and not all show equal concern for the ‘least among’ them.

    All of them show far more concern for the least of these than the US does, with the exception of the PRC.

    I don’t know much about the PRC, but in the DRC congo stuff is pretty awful. And the least of these are the children that are forced to kill their parents and become soldiers.

  • that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    redeeming the murderer is more powerful than executing them.

    redeeming a not-see is more powerful than punching one.

  • smrnda

    I’ve lived in the PRC, so perhaps I can be allowed to weigh in?

    You can’t have mass shootings without access to firearms capable of being used in mass shootings. The PRC has a strong, centralized government. Same as Denmark or Japan – the only difference is that the government of the PRC is not democratically elected, while the other 2 countries have democratically elected governments. The PRC makes possession of firearms illegal – even many police are unarmed, since why would they need guns? If there are no firearms, there are no mass shootings.

    Some criminal factions within the PRC do possess firearms, but they also know that, if they were to cause any trouble, the centralized, undemocratic, authoritarian government would crack down and crack down hard, so they don’t risk causing trouble.

  • smrnda

    redeeming the murderer is more powerful than executing them.

    Why are there only 2 options? Many nations do not ‘redeem’ murderers, but they don’t have the death penalty either.

  • smrnda

    I think not – logical positivism was cooked up by Wittgenstein, who was not a scientist.

  • and yet we’re not talking about number of people killed.

    we’re talking about number of shooting incidents where 6 or more people were shot (using the FBI’s metric)

    a revolver can do that.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/81ad3c0f82120d6d0d67352b04bc5d5a7d4278bcbef117eb21cdeba84ed46a9c.png

  • you don’t need to tell me what it is.

    the diagnostics are bogus.

    that’s what i was addressing.

  • smrnda

    you do realize that even revolvers have advanced since the flintlock? People used revolvers in the English Civil War – they were muzzle loading affairs, same as rifles. You can’t really pull of a ‘mass shooting ‘with one of those, can we?

  • why not just get an advanced degree in Reiki and palm reading?

  • i’m not confusing psychiatry and psychology.

    you’re just assuming i was.

  • smrnda

    So, there is no such thing as mental illness? There are no medications proven in clinical studies to reduce the incidents of any mental illness, so everybody who supposedly has a ‘mental illness’ just needs a kick in the ass?

  • the guy that killed my friends used a shotgun and a pistol. two of the most common weapons used in mass shootings.

    you can pretend this is about fancy guns. but fancy guns aren’t what lead someone to do things like The Capitol Hill Massacre of 2006

  • smrnda

    Because neither has a track record of success. Many mental illnesses can be treated, and the people suffering from them can function better as a result of either medication of some form of therapy.

    But thanks for you bigotry against the mentally ill. I guess they all just need to be kicked in the ass until they ‘act normal?’

  • smrnda

    So, are you suggesting that a person can kill just as many people with a pocket knife?

    Even shotguns and pistols will kill more people than a knife, or no weapon at all. In nations where guns are illegal violence still happens, but it’s likelihood of being lethal is much smaller.

    I mean, I’ve lived in the USA, and several nations where firearms are completely banned. The latter nations didn’t report shootings of any kind – they just didn’t happen. I’m well aware that the highly publicized ‘mass shootings’ involving things like AR-15s are not representative, but you still realize that a modern pistol does more damage than a 18th century flintlock?

  • Brother TC

    You said, “I’ve not offered anyone advice on the truth.”

    But three hours ago, you wrote, “Salvation isn’t a reliable mechanism to transfer truth,” and then you told me how my three points underscore some utilitarian problem of yours. You don’t think you were giving me advice regarding the truth?

    “The only thing i know about truth is that it is a paradox.”

    That’s the postmodern dilemma, indeed.

    “Jesus is Christ. You are not. So you don’t have complete access to the truth.”

    I have the Holy Spirit and the word of God, and Jesus Christ promised that He would guide believers into all truth (Jhn 16:13).

    “Sometimes he deigns reveal some of it.”

    Wait a minute. Back up the truck. I thought you didn’t know the truth about anything. Now you’re telling me how God works?

    “But you’re prideful to think you have it, yet it’s humility that breeds awareness.”

    My pride was crushed when I was saved, after decades of unbelief. I’ve learned that my own understanding is worthless, and now I lean entirely on the wisdom of God to guide my path.

  • Logical positivism and logical empiricism, which together formed neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was verificationism, a theory of knowledge which asserted that only statements verifiable through empirical observation are cognitively meaningful. The movement flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in several European centers.

    Efforts to convert philosophy to this new “scientific philosophy”, shared with empirical sciences’ best examples, such as Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, sought to prevent confusion rooted in unclear language and unverifiable claims.[1]

    The Berlin Circle and Vienna Circle—groups of philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians in Berlin and Vienna—propounded logical positivism, starting in the late 1920s.

    Wittgenstein wrote the notes for the Tractatus while he was a soldier during World War I and completed it during a military leave in the summer of 1918.[3] It was first published in German in 1921 as Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung. The Tractatus was influential chiefly amongst the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle, such as Rudolf Carnap and Friedrich Waismann. Bertrand Russell’s article “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism” is presented as a working out of ideas that he had learned from Wittgenstein.[4]

    Wittgenstein didn’t propose LP specifically. He influenced it though.

  • smrnda

    Empiricism is the best way to evaluate truth claims. If you’ve got a better one I’d love to see its track record for producing results. I know people who use empirical methods to document things like sexism, racism and all that. The fact that they can produce empirical data instead of relying on anecdotes is why those things cannot be easily dismissed.

  • because i only listed two. i never claimed it was exhaustive. I’m allergic to charred straw men, so i’d appreciate if you observe the burn ban on this thread.

    redeeming the murderer is more powerful than condemning the murderer.
    redeeming the murderer is more powerful than imprisoning the murderer.

  • So you want a police state?

    Yeah, i think there are probably better ways to stop mass shootings than “cracking down” on society.

    Better to stop cracking down on the mad, the homeless, the queer, etc.

  • smrnda

    I think neither of your statements are meaningful. They’re poetry, not public policy.

    “What do you do with murderers” is a public policy question that should be resolved using empirical data. Should some murderers be locked up and never let out again? Depends on the nature of the crime and their propensity to re-offend. Should some be released? Depends on the evidence.

  • Instrumentalism is more pragmatic than empiricism.

    LP proved the limits of empiricism

  • > But three hours ago, you wrote, “Salvation isn’t a reliable mechanism to transfer truth,” and then you told me how my three points underscore some utilitarian problem of yours.

    That wasn’t advice.

    You’d know if i was offering you advice if it began with something like “you should”

    Your pride wasn’t crushed. It fills the room, neighbor.

  • smrnda

    Do people in Japan or Denmark live in a ‘police state?’ I’m no fan of the government of the PRC. But yet plenty of free nations which respect human rights do not accept a ‘right’ to own firearms, and they have lower violent crime rates. I see no relevance to this and homeless, insane or queer people. The PRC fails in those 3 regards, but I never held it up as an ideal. I was just pointing out that you don’t get mass shootings without guns.

  • I am not telling you how God works. There’s scripture for that.

    I’m just distilling it for you.

  • smrnda

    I’m too busy using data-driven methods to provide people with useful insights to waste time on philosophical debates. Isms are a waste of my time.

  • Jim Jones

    It showed that a great deal of what we thought was wrong.

  • > So, are you suggesting that a person can kill just as many people with a pocket knife?

    a) Mass killings aren’t primarily about the number of deaths. 6 deaths in mass killing shocks our collective conscience the same way 12 does. The frequency of events – repeated social traumas – matter more. Better to have 1 mass shooting with 100 deaths than 10 with 10 each in the same 6 month span.

    b) guns aren’t the only way to kill people.

    c) you’ve offered correlation but no causation to suggest that folks won’t find another way to kill. Like the austin bomber, the boston bombers, or Ted Kaczynski etc.

  • neither does psychology nor psychiatry by their own metric.

    there were far fewer cases of “mentally sick” people 100 years ago, and 50 years ago than there are now. Per capita.

    So they’ve failed by their own metric to actually make people better.

  • that’s not what i said.

    i said the diagnostic path for autogynephilia, and defining traits of psychosis and delusional disorders were logically fallacious and otherwise bogus.

  • smrnda

    6 deaths in mass killing shocks our collective conscience the same way 12 does.

    Not really. Plenty of ‘mass shootings’ never make the national news because they happen in places dismissed as ‘high crime’ where crime is not an event. If a mass shooting claims middle class white victims, it’s news.

    With your b and c, you realize that nations other than the USA exist? Despite ‘other ways to kill people exist’ they vary in their homicide rates. You would think that we could learn something from the nations with lower murder rates?

    Even with ‘other ways to murder people’ – the USA stands alone among industrialized nations for its high rate of violent crime. Why? Guns.

  • Brother TC

    Don’t mistake knowledge of the truth and bold declaration of Him for pride.

    “That wasn’t advice.”

    After you told me that my understanding of the truth isn’t useful, you told told me I should take it to a religious forum. And now you call me prideful?

  • smrnda

    You might as well say that there were not people with autism in 1700, therefore, nobody has improved things. Previously people who are now diagnosed as ‘mentally ill’ were either considered morally deficient, expected to suffer in silence, or were locked up in jails. Today, people who would have been shit out of luck in the past can now get help.

    But again, thanks for you bigotry against the mentally ill and stigmatizing treatment.

  • > Even with ‘other ways to murder people’ – the USA stands alone among industrialized nations for its high rate of violent crime. Why? Guns.

    More likely because it’s a criminal enterprise and a slave state.

  • smrnda

    Are you a LCSW are or a licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist? Otherwise, you are unqualified to diagnose people or editorialize on diagnosis.

  • > Not really. Plenty of ‘mass shootings’ never make the national news because they happen in places dismissed as ‘high crime’ where crime is not an event. If a mass shooting claims middle class white victims, it’s news.

    Just because you don’t care about people that aren’t affluent white and suburban doesn’t mean other people aren’t horrified.

  • but it shows you what we think about the size of universe?

    you can peer into my thoughts with the hubble?

  • smrnda

    I’ve lived in some of those ‘high crime neighborhoods.’ I get pissed off when a mass shooting gets the news but violence in MY neighborhood is just another day. And people in my neighborhoods pretty much know the problem – it’s fucking GUNS. Way too many of them. How do you think I know about ‘those neighborhoods?’ I lived there.

  • you don’t use data driven models.

    you don’t even know how to build a cogent one.

  • No they do not. They live in states that don’t treat the least of these like dirt.

  • Discussing public policy doesn’t matter, because neither you nor i can dictate it.

    besides, it’s defined by the subversive elements of society. the social order only reacts to them.

    the criminal is the architect of our laws.

  • smrnda

    I’ve been a data scientist since the job existed. Get a PhD and come back and tell me about data driven methods.

  • general gun violence is not a mass shooting.

    it’s generally more effective, if you plan to live in a poor neighborhood, to move into one that’s mostly immigrants.

    at least in the US.

    then you won’t have to worry about all that violence.

  • smrnda

    You and I cannot ‘dictate’ public policy because we do not live in a dictatorship. We can influence it though, and people have, through voting, petitioning, and activism.

  • no, and i am also not a licensed palm reader.

    but i know a scam when i see one.

  • smrnda

    Well, we might agree there. If the USA wasn’t committed to having a permanent underclass, we’d see less crime.

  • your appeal to authority is a logical fallacy.

  • so they just find excuses to medicate more and more people and call that progress.

    seems like the opposite.

  • smrnda

    A licensed palm reader would be the best person to show the secrets of the trade.

    I’m not appealing to authority, but to competence. Mentally ill people have obtained help from mental health professionals. Sure, we diagnose more people as mentally ill today, but more people are physically ill today. We just have higher standards for health.

  • smrnda

    Thanks for being a bigot. I’m one of those people who take medication, and thanks to medication I’m totally functional, as opposed to a walking mess. If the medication works, what’s wrong with it? Why stigmatize taking medication?

  • oh look, a neurotypical person is calling me mentally ill.

    autism isn’t a mental illness. it’s an ability.

    bipolar one isn’t strictly a disorder. it’s rough live with, but it comes with some unique abilities.

    but hey, if you want to label people as mentally ill then pretend like you’re a champion of the mad, be my guest.

    but as someone given to madness (particularly BP1 to go with my multiplicity) i think you’re full of it.

  • smrnda

    so, everybody I know should just pick up and move? You realize that costs money, and their houses aren’t worth much, and that there may not be affordable housing where they can find work?

  • your initial post was all about you and the truth you possessed.

  • i told you that you won’t be able to do much in terms of transferring your truth and directed you to a forum where you could post on topic.

  • Brother TC

    “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1Co 1:31).

  • i didn’t say you should move. if i had said you should move, you’d know because i would have said “you should move”

  • you don’t seem very functional, frankly.

  • smrnda

    I don’t think autism is a mental illness. I am mentally ill, but people with autism are merely different.

    bipolar one isn’t strictly a disorder. it’s rough live with, but it comes with some unique abilities.

    Bullshit. I have schizoaffective disorder, which is similar. Without medication, I get hallucinations. On medication, I do not and I’m quite productive. Please, stop romanticizing ‘mental illness’ as if it’s a gift.

  • you’re appealing to authority. Credentials don’t translate to competence. See also, Dr. Paul McHugh.

  • and yet all this time you’re fighting me over it, just because i said it by way of referencing genesis

  • smrnda

    I’m sure you can tell that from a comments section 🙂 Particularly one where it’s clear your only purpose is to be antagonistic.

    Your attempt at trolling is amusing though.

  • you can’t influence it.

    politicians don’t answer to you because they already have your vote no matter what they do.

  • smrnda

    No, I’m pointing to the fact that millions of people today get help, and in the past they were just treated like rubbish.

  • smrnda

    If you make a case for public policy based on an easily dismissed reason, no matter how good the policy advanced, you’re setting yourself up to lose.

  • smrnda

    Really? I have engaged in activism that led to the resignation of a long standing politician, who was replaced with someone with better ideas.

  • Using OLAP doesn’t make you a scientist.

  • smrnda

    Thanks for demonstrating you can do a google search. I don’t work in ‘business intelligence’ but nice potshot.

    Though properly speaking, I’m a statistician and mathematician, and not a scientist. I collaborate with scientists, but I prefer not to apply that title to myself.

  • and yet here we are.

    and the US is still a shit hole.

    because your politician has a boss too.

    and it isn’t you.

  • Brother TC

    If your goal is to learn how one human can transfer truth to another human, you will indeed find little utility in anything people have to say. Not sure you realize that.

    If your goal is the know the truth, then I’m telling you where it’s at.

  • and if you make a case for public policy based on good ideas, it never even comes up for discussion among people that matter.

    but you can always couch it in hate for the poor, the immigrant or the queer, or you can center it around the worship of money, and suddenly everyone’s interested.

  • they’re still treated like rubbish, but now pharma makes more money.

  • smrnda

    I have no dispute about the USA being a shit-hole. There are few politicians who have any principles, and with lobbying most are for sale to the highest bidder. Just that, on at least one occasion, I can see that people can get what they want if they push hard enough.

  • you’re spending so much time arguing with me i figured on blocking you.

    at least when i wrote the functional remark.

    and now you’re projecting.

  • smrnda

    Depends on where. That sort of politics doesn’t fly in my region, but we have large number of immigrants and POC and a vibrant queer scene. Regrettably, we aren’t everywhere…

  • i guess your hallucinations aren’t useful. they don’t give you anything important.

    bummer for you.

    mine helped me learn CASt

  • smrnda

    Really? I’m treated like rubbish? 3 times a year I meet with a psychiatrist who mostly looks at blood tests, and I take meds that, since I started them, eliminated all negative symptoms?

  • that’s not what you wrote though.

    it was about glory for you.

  • smrnda

    What % of people have useful hallucinations?

    Please tell me what CASt is, I’ve never heard of it.

    It seems like some sort of branded teaching method, if I’ve found the right results.

  • and yet, “mental illness” is still a stigma.

    i bet there’s a lot of people you don’t tell.

  • if it’s in the US, it does fly in your region.

    capitalism is capitalism. it’s right wing bullshit that transfers wealth and social benefits upward.

    just modern aristocracy.

  • smrnda

    I tell everybody. Among educated people being mentally ill is no longer a stigma. The danger is the other way – it’s glamorized, to the point where people think that being mentally ill boosts productivity.

  • that’s called politics.

    it has always been that way.

    elections are a pageantry of narcissists.

    i helped 2 families get asylee status over the past year.

    how many politicians is that worth?

  • smrnda

    How do you define ‘capitalism?’ If Denmark, Sweden, Japan, the USA, and the PRC all have ‘capitalism’ is it really a meaningful label anymore?

  • Brother TC

    Here’s what I said:

    “I didn’t believe absolute truth could be known until I was saved.”

    Like I said, don’t mistake knowledge of the truth and bold declaration of Him for pride.

    “it was about glory for you.”

    You can only come to that conclusion if you think it’s arrogant to claim to know the truth. Do you think it’s arrogant to claim to know the truth?

  • it’s not my goal, but it is rather the topic and the point of “Street Epistemology” at the end of the day.

  • Brother TC

    At the end of the day, the question of knowledge is the point of epistemology, and real knowledge points to truth. If you don’t know the truth about anything, then all your knowledge is provisional, suspect and error-prone.

  • smrnda

    Or the guns.

  • i don’t need google to know what OLAP is and what data scientist means.

    there’s fair odds i contributed code to the operating system you’re using right now.

    if you have the background you say, it suggests you should understand me when i tell you that complex adaptive systems theory and its ramifications on economics and all the behavioral sciences are why i compared psychology to palm reading.

    i was being a bit uncharitable. Technically it’s a “stovepipe system”

    and stovepipe systems are at least “more useful than not” if they are mature but still fraught with problems.

    But I didn’t have reason to think you knew what “stovepipe system” would mean, or had the background to know what it means from an engineering standpoint, but given the credentials you listed, you shouldn’t have any trouble with it. Most people aren’t going to have that background so i didn’t assume.

    and if you aren’t familiar with CAS(t) (most people aren’t), and its impact on those fields, some time ago i found a happy little paper that distills most of what you can dig through at pubmed, but a lot easier to see all the moving parts – whereas studies tend to deal in microcosms of phenomena. CAS deals in emergence, so the bigger picture is the primary. http://www.eidelsonconsulting.com/papers/cas.pdf

  • the aberrant agents in the “death drive” of an ordered adaptive system will always find a way to be disruptive – cataclysmically so when the overall system is destabilized or under a lot of pressure

    but that’s big picture.

    our society is creating these agents.

  • yes, all my knowledge is provisional.

    but my faith is the bedrock on which i build my house. and i made it as God instructed me to.

    knowledge isn’t how you find God, and has little to do with mastering your choices, such that you follow God.

    All of that flows from faith.

  • smrnda

    Have you ever heard of the now defunct journal ‘art-language?’ Just curious, wondered if you’d been a contributor.

  • smrnda

    I’ve contributed code to the OS I’m using 🙂 Yay for open source.

    When it comes to ‘need to read’ or ‘need to know’ things, I usually prefer to get that from colleagues of mine in fields like economics, social psychology, stuff like that. The link does sound interesting though, and I can say I’m at least sympathetic to the goals of the person on the site. I’m just skeptical of ‘theory of everything’ type approaches, since I think it’s more prudent to restrict one’s self to more modest conclusions.

    I mean, I am worried about the toxic influence of wealth on politics and the whole ‘corporations are people’ but yet, having lived in a number of countries I tend to think ‘hey, some other places don’t have the same problems. What can we learn from them?’ Most have stronger welfare states, more affordable higher education, stuff like that.

  • yeah it’s arrogant to claim to know the truth.

  • Brother TC

    You use the word “bedrock,” but if you don’t know the truth, your foundation is sand. Saving faith in Jesus Christ is the conviction of the truth, the certainty of knowing reality and an unshakeable foundation of rock (Matt 7:24-27). This is the whole point of faith in Jesus being a rock, the truth and the knowable medium between man and God.

    “knowledge isn’t how you find God,”

    I’m telling you the gospel, not some gnostic garbage. I never said knowledge is how you find God.

    Faith comes by grace from God, and faith is substance and evidence (Eph 2:8, Acts 17:11). First comes salvation, and then the indwelling of the Holy Spirit brings truth through God’s word. True faith is not blind. Faith in God is a seeing faith.

  • smrnda

    I wish there wasn’t a belief that reason and emotion were mutually exclusive. When it comes to aging, why not use both? If you are ever caring for an aging relative, asking a medical professional ‘what can I expect’ can be really helpful. What they tell you is right out of medical journals and textbooks. Literature is helpful because we like to find stories that relate to what we are going through, which often ‘say it better’ than we ever could.

    At certain point in my life I’ve cared for children – sure, part of that is emotion, but there’s also logic and reason. Once you deal with enough small kids you learn to think ‘why is this child crying’ and go through a totally reason based checklist.

  • Brother TC

    That’s a truth claim, you know.

  • they’re all capitalist.

    not all capitalism is created equal, but at it’s root it operates such that it creates aristocracy.

    Even if you have CME capitalism and a generous welfare state like most the nordic countries for example, you might control for some wealth redistribution, but the companies are still privately owned, not worker or citizen owned.

    And more importantly every one of these is ultimately given to a perpetual growth model.

    And having to compete on a global marketplace with runaway LME capitalism (like the US has) only perpetuates that.

    “Green tech” can only do so much, and we’ve already crossed the rubicon anyway according to most major climate models.

    So it’s just trying to extend out what is a fundamental thermodynamic problem:

    Perpetual growth = Perpetual increase in consumption over time = perpetual increase of energy consumption over time.

    Slowing that is all any of this does. It doesn’t change the equation categorically.

    You’d need economies not predicated on perpetual growth, and unfortunately, capitalism isn’t quite compatible with that in practice.

  • smrnda

    I won’t disagree with you about perpetual growth. It’s just that I think that if the term ‘capitalism’ means something so vague as ‘private non-collective ownership of businesses’ then I don’t see how that’s going away. One person owning a lemonade stand is them ‘capitalism.’

    My take is that we’re going to need increasing centralized control of resources, production and energy, because leaving those things ‘up to the market’ is unsustainable. But I don’t see how any and all private ownership will be abolished.

    Let’s look at something like food. In the USA it’s already somewhat socialized (subsidies) but also working alongside business concerns. It used to be that government policy encourages sustainable farming – leaving fields fallow was compensated. Later, policy was shifted towards maximizing production. I see no reason why a government can’t incentivize private agents to be responsible in a mixed system.

  • God’s word is the only thing to root faith in.

    and we can’t have full knowledge of that – no absolute knowledge. it’s through a glass darkly.

    ultimately everything outside of The Word is illusion. In fact, not subordinating it to The Word makes it a lie.

    The Word is The Truth, but humans can’t know the whole thing.

    and frankly talking about this with most christians (with some important exceptions) is frustrating.

    i wish more of you understood Torah.

    You seem to think the metaphysics behind abrahamic theology is bullshit.

    but it’s not. Although the gnostics wouldn’t be my goto.

    i only use the gospels because most of what Jesus said (except the statements of his own divinity attributed to him by some foolish greek fans) is continuous with Torah.

    And Paul is roughly useful because he had a jewish understanding of the full measure of the laws. They’re more than just rules, so his epistles where they deal with the law are also continuous with torah.

    not that the law is the path to God. But the bible contains a whole lot of apocrypha.

  • simpledinosaur

    I don’t know how you could have read my post and come away from it making that supposition. Be that as it may, of course I agree with your premise.

  • capitalism is a necessarily general term and there are multiple varieties of it, but at its root it means private interests own and control the Means of Production

    This simple definition though, has far reaching ramifications.

    It is predicated on the necessity of private ownership of property.
    It is predicated on a market economy, with printable money.
    Growth curves on wealth are exponential by nature because usury is baked into the system through private property (landlordism, and capital gains – wealth created by wealth)

    Centralized control is a great idea until “the wrong people(tm)” end up running things because your state goes out of control. See also, every single attempt at implementing Marx’s vanguard state.

  • > One person owning a lemonade stand is them ‘capitalism.’

    Actually it’s also socialism, until the moment that person hires someone.

    if they were equal partners tho, it would still be socialism.

  • Brother TC

    “God’s word is the only thing to root faith in.”

    I wouldn’t put it that way. I’d say God’s word is inerrant and sufficient for guiding believers in all matters of faith, but believers put their faith in God.

    “i wish more of you understood Torah.”

    Bring it. What do you want to talk about? I love how all of it points to Christ.

    But then you said something interesting:

    “ultimately everything outside of The Word is illusion.”

    Now where did you get that whacky new age idea? Certainly not from God’s word! The Bible affirms that the world is very, very real. Remember, you said “God’s word is the only thing to root faith in.”

  • since you know the absolute truth, what day will Jesus return?

  • My faith is anything but blind.

    it’s because i see that i understand the dollhouse of existence and my knowledge of it as provisional.

    but i do know where my faith is placed, and i can discern my path as it is revealed to me.

    the rest is provisional.

  • Brother TC

    Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt 24:36).

    I use the term “absolute truth” to distinguish it from “relative truth,” an oxymoron that’s become popular among postmodern thinkers (typical worldview today). Like I clearly told you earlier, I don’t claim to know everything about God — only what He’s revealed in His word and brought to the understanding of believers through His Spirit.

  • it’s not a ToE.

    it’s just a repeating pattern that crops up in complex systems.

    it’s all a byproduct of self-organization.

    but it will do nothing to explain say, nanolithography, or how to build a bridge, and it doesn’t explain many of the properties of the dollhouse of existence.

    all it is is a repeating type of *system* (as in systems science system) that recurs over and over again as a byproduct of self organization.

    and as far as i can tell, the reason they seem so ubiquitous is because systems are ubiquitous, and because this particular type of system is resilient and adaptable, ergo they tend to survive.

  • Brother TC

    “it’s because i see that i understand the dollhouse of existence.”

    So you believe existence is an illusion?

  • this one?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_%26_Language

    no but it might be interesting. i deal pretty heavily in computational linguistics.

    i use chomsky type-3 and chomsky type-2 languages for pattern matching in software. i can build force directed grammar decision graphs for both types based on exposure to material in the source language. Working on a (type-1+type-0) implementation i can fit into a practical LBA.

  • whoops, that probably didn’t make sense.

    i not only consume artistic literature. i also like to try to apply pattern matching to it (as per other reply)

    i also use “sacred” texts. Torah is a good working set. Hindu stuff would probably be pretty fruitful, but it’s best in native language, and i don’t speak hindi so i won’t be able to make sense of it.

    i can read ancient hebrew and english tho. lol

  • ultimately. it’s a division of God’s divine light (Ohr Ein Sof).

    but our universe is delineated through those divisions.

    but they’re only here for our benefit. they’re not the truth.

  • Brother TC

    I see. You’re an occultist.

  • > “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt 24:36).

    Funny, this is what i’ve been trying to tell you about truth.

    This plane of existence is ultimately an illusion created for us to exist in.

    this transient earthly vessel is just a meat suit we ride around this rock in. but they are just illusions for our benefit.

    as far as I know, the only way to even get to yechida is just at the point of your death.

    and almost nobody ever manages that. Jesus did, according to the gospels, or already started that way, if you believe Paul and the gospel of John

  • Probably because we use The Word slightly differently because of our different backgrounds.

    And its not new age. Christianity is new age compared to this

    I’m using not even to mean The Torah, but Torah (divine revelation from God)

    The Torah was an attempt to write down Torah, but words can’t capture everything in it directly. It can point to it.

    Torah is what’s real and what is The Word as Christians typically would call it.

    And not only that The Word is “alive” – such that “I AM THAT IS I AM” – divine command is itself the creative force of everything. We can’t get to all of it – only the parts that God makes available to us – such as by way of Moses, or Jesus Christ.

    Words barely capture some of it. And no human can grok even close to all of it. We are not God.

    And The Word is basically magic as fk.

  • Brother TC

    You need to stop swearing, pagan.

  • Nope. Hebrew is not occult.

    and abrahamic metaphysics are pretty well grounded by way of The Torah and Lurianic Kabbalah.

    Unfortunately, the new testament isn’t entirely continuous with Torah.

    For which I blame the greeks mostly, not Jesus Christ.

    But Jesus’ sermon on the mount seems sound both theologically and metaphysically, such that he used one of the most powerful acts to upend the laws – mercy – invoked through his “turn the other cheek” statement in that sermon.

    He justified upending the laws by way of mercy, only to fulfill them in the end.

    That appears sound, although I’m sure I’d get arguments from more than one rabbi on that.

    But between mercy and charity, you basically have a hand of aces compared to all the laws.

    Couple that with the recipe in Isaiah 53 and he massively amplified the impact.

    It’s the most profound act I can find in terms of using the mitzvot – to force/justify/produce a new covenant

  • i’m pretty sure fk isn’t a curse word as written, anymore than saying “cheese and rice” is blasphemous when spoken. but whatever. you do you.

    you can worry about your own sins first, neighbor.

    i got mine covered anyway.

  • Brother TC

    The NT is entirely continuous with the OT, and Jesus appeared in the middle.

    Do you really believe all that magical Kabbalah stuff is true, or is it just some lifestyle thing that brings you pleasure?

  • Brother TC

    We all need to worry about our own sins, but I can see well enough to get that speck out of your eye. Your abbreviation for swearing wouldn’t be the first time you cursed during this discussion.

    “i got mine covered anyway.”

    “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Rom 6:15).

  • > Do you really believe all that magical Kabbalah stuff is true,

    what do you mean by true?

    didn’t we already talk about true?

    do you mean *useful*?

    > The NT is entirely continuous with the OT

    The NT is not entirely continuous with Torah.

    Jesus’ statement of his own divinity breaks with the mitzvot on *humility*,

    And there’s no justification offered anywhere, even by Jesus himself, for breaking that mitzvah. Everywhere else that Jesus appears to step outside the law, he uses the law and explains the law, in order to justify it through edict.

    But, on the humility law, he offers no similar thing.

    And because of that the law on humility is never “nullified.”

    I still think the greeks were the culprit. they wanted him to say he was God so they worked it in.

    Continuity here just means one doesn’t interface entirely with the other.

    But I don’t honestly care about that. It just means i can’t use those bits the way i can use the rest of the gospels or paul’s laws.

  • you should be concerned with the plank in your own eye brother.

    you policing my language and calling it godly doesn’t make it so.

    and your conceptions of what a swear word is don’t matter to me.

    anyway, as i said, i’ve got mine covered. I don’t your help.

    Romans 14. Think about that when you call me a pagan for swearing.

    And as i said “i [have] got mine covered”

    Romans 8

    My salvation is not at the hands of you enforcing the laws.

    You are not called to enforce the law. You are called not to violate it yourself. Same as me.

  • Brother TC

    “what do you mean by true?”

    It’s sad that you need to ask that.

    “didn’t we already talk about true?”

    Yes, so you should know what I mean by true.

    You’ve been declaring a whole lot of things about reality, and I’d like to know if you actually believe it’s true or if you just think it’s cool, fun and stylish.

    “Jesus’ statement of his own divinity breaks with the mitzvot on *humility*”

    Since Jesus is God, it does not break with any mitzvot.

    “And there’s no justification offered anywhere, even by Jesus himself, for breaking that mitzvah.”

    Please. “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Jhn 10:36-38).

    Why do you keep blaming the Greeks? The apostles were Jews.

  • Brother TC

    “you should be concerned with the plank in your own eye brother.”

    You’ll need to be more specific.

    “Romans 14. Think about that when you call me a pagan for swearing.”

    I called you a pagan for your pagan beliefs. I told you that you need to stop swearing because you need to stop swearing. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. James says your tongue can lead you around like a horse by a bit.

    “My salvation is not at the hands of you enforcing the laws.”

    Never said that. Why do you keep mischaracterizing me?

    “You are not called to enforce the law. You are called not to violate it yourself. Same as me.”

    I’m called to preach the word, to encourage, and yes, to rebuke sinners because it’s in their best interest to know the truth. You’re deeply in error with this occult thing.

  • It’s not sad that i need to ask that.

    If you’re asking me if it’s true by your idea of true, i can’t make sense of the question because Jesus Christ and Torah are not synonyms. but as i recall you defined truth as Jesus Christ.

    It would make more sense to ask if it was useful.

    > You’ve been declaring a whole lot of things about reality, and I’d like to know if you actually believe it’s true or if you just think it’s cool, fun and stylish.

    Nope. But it is a product of something you probably haven’t experienced. A kind of beautiful madness.

    As far as I can tell that’s what happens when the holy spirit blows your hair back.

    the idolators in labcoats put labels on it.

    but the question is always, is it useful?

    Torah is pretty useful.

    Isaiah 53 not only predicted Christ, but MLK Jr.

    when a human gets called to it, it’s a recipe for mass social change

    when Jesus Christ used it it was something even bigger. he delivered a covenant using it.

    > Since Jesus is God, it does not break with any mitzvot.

    I know it doesn’t. But in order for the scripture to be sound, Jesus would have to have declared it by edict in the texts. As he did every. other. time he was teaching by “breaking” the law

    there’s at best, a gap. in verse. but more likely, the greeks (or possibly a greek speaking jewish author) made it up. Even the book of Matthew was written decades after Jesus died.

    i suspect the greeks because they’re the ones that put the big twist on early scripture and we didn’t exactly preserve chain of custody. Besides, some of the gospels seem suspiciously hellenistic especially John,

  • > You’ll need to be more specific.

    No i don’t. There is not a soul among us that follows the laws entirely.

    Account for your own sins.

    If you think you don’t have any to account for, you’re just stopped looking.

  • Matthew 7 is the tool i use for discerning false prophets.

    Jesus made it easy.

    so preach all you like.

  • well i guess you’re not bipolar one then

    that even scares the clinicians.

  • Brother TC

    Just because I define the truth as Jesus Christ, you ought to know what the truth means. Look it up!

    “It would make more sense to ask if it was useful.”

    You sound like a witch. This is how witches think about spirituality: What can I get out of it?

    “A kind of beautiful madness.”

    Sounds satanic.

    “As far as I can tell that’s what happens when the holy spirit blows your hair back.”

    That ain’t the Holy Spirit, but it’s a spirit all right.

    “i suspect the greeks because they’re the ones that put the big twist on early scripture and we didn’t exactly preserve chain of custody.”

    We know what the originals say. We have more manuscript evidence for the NT than any other work of antiquity, by orders of magnitude. Any discrepancies at this point are relatively minor.

  • no, it’s short for Complex Adaptive Systems theory.

    it leverages systems theory and is part of the larger field of complexity science

  • Brother TC

    “Account for your own sins.”

    You seem to think that just because we sin, we can’t judge each other. That just ain’t so. Jesus commands us to judge righteous judgment (Jhn 7:24).

    Or do you think that’s a Greek corruption?

    “If you think you don’t have any to account for, you’re just stopped looking.”

    Never said I was perfect, but I do claim I’m in a position to judge bad behavior.

  • Brother TC

    “Matthew 7 is the tool i use for discerning false prophets.”

    Ugh. You shouldn’t do that because it shows your lack of biblical understanding.

    Have you read past Matthew 7:1? You ought to read through to verse 5.

    Jesus isn’t saying to never judge anyone — He’s saying that when you judge, don’t judge hypocritically.

    I’m not swearing here. In fact, I’m sticking pretty much to straight-up gospel messaging. Therefore, I’m in a place to advise you to stop swearing if you know what’s good for you.

  • > Just because I define the truth as Jesus Christ, you ought to know what the truth means. Look it up!

    I know what it means. That’s why asked you to be more specific and clarify truth.

    Truth can mean “what is directly material”
    Truth can mean “what can be established empirically”
    Truth can mean “what can be agreed upon”
    Truth can mean “what can be verified”
    Truth can mean “what is useful”

    I tend to rely on the latter most often, since it’s the most reliable, and also is the root justification for the ones that precede it – meaning the other ways to establish truth are only meaningful because of the tacit assumption of utility in those.

    > We know what the originals say. We have more manuscript evidence for the NT than any other work of antiquity, by orders of magnitude.

    That’s not saying much. And that shakiness of authorship is well established for much of the NT. Hebrews is a great example.

    And the gospels are questionable, but some are more established than others.

    Matt was written decades after Jesus’ death. As I said.

    > That ain’t the Holy Spirit, but it’s a spirit all right.

    Demons don’t convince you to love God.

  • Actually i think you haven’t read past it.

    I was referring to the middle of the chapter.

    Read it

  • you can judge me all you like, and you’ll receive all the judgement you mete out as well, exactly as you want.

    i don’t mind either way. I’m not worried about your judgment of me.

    I’m only concerned with God’s judgment.

    And the middle of the chapter of matt 7 is how i know you.

  • Brother TC

    Do you believe we know what Plato said? Aristotle? Cicero? Or is it all just hand-waving suspicious nonsense?

    If you think it’s all suspicious, why in the world do you believe the spoken traditions of pagan mystics?

  • I believe the authorship is simpler since they were single authors.

    that’s much different than the NT.

    or the council(s) that established the canon.

  • Brother TC

    “Actually i think you haven’t read past it.”

    Yeah, I’ve read it.

    When I asked you to be more specific about the beam in my eye, you said you didn’t need to, on the basis that you know we’re all sinners.

    So when I asked you to show the bad fruit that I’m bearing, you said you didn’t need to. In essence, you’re not not judging according to Matthew 7 — instead, you’re judging based on inference. That’s just terrible.

  • Brother TC

    “I’m only concerned with God’s judgment.”

    Do you think God is cool with you swearing?

  • Brother TC

    “or the council(s) that established the canon.”

    What council(s) are you talking about?

  • > If you think it’s all suspicious, why in the world do you believe the spoken traditions of pagan mystics?

    because at least with Torah it has mechanisms for verifying itself against itself, and verifying constructed propositions back against scripture, such that you can compose them.

    and the alphabet of it is part of the magic of it, which is part of why i prefer it in hebrew.

    it’s continuous and self-coherent.

    The NT isn’t quite. But the parts that line up with Torah are.

  • Brother TC

    “and the alphabet of it is part of the magic of it, which is part of why i prefer it in hebrew.”

    So you’re into gematria. Totally meaningless. This will lead you astray. You may as well read tea leaves.

    “it’s continuous and self-coherent.”

    I spend a lot of time comparing scripture to scripture. The whole Bible, from Genesis to maps. It’s all coherent. Too bad you can’t see it. You need the Holy Spirit.

  • I’m referring to the convenings of the council of nicea and their edicts about what was scripture and what wasn’t.

  • > So you’re into gematria. Totally meaningless.

    No. I am not referring to the numeric relationships between any of this.

    I’m referring to the hybrid glyph/letter system used in hebrew.

    Which makes concepts like mother and father form together to make child.

  • Brother TC

    They never discussed the biblical canon at the Council of Nicaea. That’s a Dan Brown fabrication.

    You believe random stuff on the internet, but not the NT. That’s sad.

  • > I spend a lot of time comparing scripture to scripture.

    LOL, I’m not talking about using the bible as an appendix for your confirmation bias.

  • they canonized the concept of the trinity!

    lol. i don’t know who dan brown is.

  • i addressed the bad fruit.

    the looking for heathens everywhere among believers that don’t share your rather wooden interpretation of scripture.

    and your calling the faithful pagans, thus engaging in unrighteous judgement.

    etc.

    not that you’ll ever take your own account. you only care about the sins of others.

    like “fk” which you think breaks some law.

  • Brother TC

    Suit yourself. Goodnight.

  • i think we’re all worthy of death under the laws.

    but for want of grace, we’d all be screwed.

    including you.

    God’s not cool with most of what any of us do.

    Every unclean thought you’ve ever had, for example.

    Most of us, even the faithful, break at least one law before breakfast.

  • You sure have. Sleep well, neighbor.

  • Everyone here knows I have a big ol’ soft spot in my heart for the term scientism.

    It’s just the perfect way to describe a bias that makes people profess that science is our only source of truth, and then deny that they’re biased.

    Never. Not. Funny.

  • mobathome

    You write that SE only addresses one kind of belief. Have you searched YouTube for “street epistemology atheist”?

  • simpledinosaur

    I don’t know that you can adduce “reasons” in the sense of trial-court evidence in favor of a proposition like, “we should treat all groups of people with equal respect.” The minute one has to “prove” such a proposition, I suspect, all is lost — it’s a matter of basic fairness, a matter of what we call the human heart, the soul. It’s closer to metaphysics than to science. Here’s an example drawn from the controversial book “The Bell Curve” by Herrnstein and Murray. Their claim was that intelligence among humans varies by race, and they located black people farther down on the IQ scale than Asians and whites. Personally, I think the IQ test is sort of hokum, but let’s leave that aside. Even if we were to grant the truth of the authors’ claims (which I don’t), of this “evidence to the contrary,” what would the upshot be? At best, a paternalistic society in which the allegedly superior groups take charge of the supposedly inferior ones and find them something useful to do to keep them out of trouble? Who would want that? It would be unacceptable even if we found ourselves unable to offer up data or other scientifically valid reasons why it’s unacceptable.

  • simpledinosaur

    HC, I don’t see that — to invoke a term like “mercy” seems to me to imply that black people need to apologize for being black. But it isn’t wrong to be black, and I’m sure you wouldn’t suggest that it is. People need mercy when they have done wrong. There is no wrong committed in this case.

  • Kevin K

    Saved from what?

  • > seems to me to imply that black people need to apologize for being black.

    that’s not mercy, that’s arrogance.

    mercy can only work if at first, the merciful are humble.

    how can you be merciful and arrogant about your status at the same time?

    mercy requires solidarity.

    mercy requires deep empathy.

    but maybe you’re laboring under a secular western understanding of mercy, rather than what it means with respect to say, Torah, and judaism which covers all of this.

  • to be merciful you have to realize what eugene debs understood – and relayed to the court:

    Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

  • simpledinosaur

    I understand, and the mention of EVD is apt, but I think there’s still a problem with the term. Perhaps something more like “empathy,” in this lizard’s lexicon.

  • simpledinosaur

    Yes, I wouldn’t call it “laboring,” but that is the tradition I come from (leaving aside my firm belief in the Dinosaur Gods, of course), and in that tradition, a term like “mercy” implies that one is showing compassion towards someone who is a wrongdoer in need of that compassion. That is how a great majority of Americans would interpret it, and they might have trouble understanding it any other way.

  • a wrongdoer?

    how about someone we just like to see as a wrongdoer?

    it was the knowledge of good and evil that caused us all this trouble in the first place.

    right and wrong miss the point in all of this. there are bigger forces at work.

    good and evil, right and wrong are so utterly, myopically human.

    was what Lee Harvey Oswald did good or evil?

    MLK Jr’s legacy would be far less potent had he not been martyred. Did Lee actually help more people than he hurt?

    Was what Judas Iscariot did good or evil?

    Without his betrayal, Jesus Christ would have never been crucified and the covenant left undelivered.

    But more likely in either case, someone else would have filled the shoes of Lee Oswald or Judas Iscariot. Were they simply the last ones standing when the music stopped?

    We can’t really know if the martyrdom was foregone (even if one doesn’t believe in god)

    So Judas took on a sacrifice, and became hated, for 1000s of years his legacy was poison.

    But then someone else didn’t have to.

    Good and evil are blinding.

  • mercy is radical solidarity.

    charity is radical empathy.

    humility is radical awareness.

    Edit: accidentally switched up a couple of words. typed before coffee. bad idea for me. LOL

  • there aren’t strict western corollaries for these concepts. they’re expressed in detail in torah.

    but words being what they are, things get lost in translation, and shifted over time.

    i think a lot of the baggage around mercy came from christians in the west.

    the noblesse oblige toward “the lesser other”

    rather than real empathy.

  • we’ve all done so much wrong, simpledino. not for you to respond here, but more as an exercise –
    what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? and what does your heart tell you you deserve because of it?

    what a terrible world this would be if we all got what we deserved.

    in truth i am no better than the most wretched human being on earth.

    in truth, i am no better than Trump. and in my own heart, i know i am worse than anyone i have judged. my judgment of others pales in comparison to my judgment of myself.

    Mercy for oneself. Mercy for others.

    Precisely because we are all worthy of death.

    so “wrong” is a non-starter. when wrong becomes universal it becomes meaningless.

    i am no better than the meanest man in prison.

    and the reason mercy is so powerful, is because it just cuts past whatever it is we think we deserve.

    you already have mercy toward the black man. you do not despise him.

    but many people do.

    you need mercy toward trump. because you do despise him.

    and it’s as hard for you as it is for folks to get over their own feelings about say, black people, immigrants, etc.

    i need to have mercy toward the people i detest.

    the people i undervalue.

    the people i love to hate.

    mercy mercy mercy. that’s the only way we move past stoning each other all the way back to the caves.

  • Brother TC

    Saved from destruction.

  • Guys. You’ve reached my threshold for God-talk. This will stop now.

  • Brother TC

    Thanks for allowing some God-talk, at least. I think it’s kind of relevant to the subject of knowledge. Descartes thought so, anyway.

  • smrnda

    Can’t it be sort of both?

    There are people who believe in the supernatural; I’ve met at least one paranormal investigator who spent free time hanging around buildings looking for evidence of ghosts. You could say it’s as strange or untrue as many beliefs in fundamentalist Christianity, but it clearly isn’t doing the same level of damage. When you have limited resources, you can attack untrue beliefs for being untrue, or have a smaller list of ‘untrue and harmful’ that get priority.

    With racism, you can also use evidence to know how to fix the problem. Some employers remove applicant names from resumes so that candidates are judged with less bias. The reason is there is documented bias in what resumes get selected and what candidates are given interviews based on the ethnic information provided by the name.

  • smrnda

    True – I wonder if we should refer to what citizens do as ‘activism’ instead? Though citizens often fight for the status quo on their own without corporate sponsorship, and I don’t know if I want that to be called ‘activism.’

  • smrnda

    This is why you never ignore local politics. Just look at what happened in Charlottesville after the white supremacist protests. So many people in local government resigned or were removed, and now new people have emerged as leaders looking to change the city.

  • smrnda

    I think that would depend on what sort of ‘truth’ we’re applying.

    If someone says ‘Hollywood needs to think of something to do aside from superhero movies’ that’s not a scientific claim. You could even say that it’s a statement that goes against the evidence – if Hollywood continues to make money from superhero movies, isn’t the evidence that they should make more?

    Public policy debates can sort of be empirical, but not entirely. Someone could make a pragmatic case that drug legalization would save some quantity of money and that the harms are not quantitively large enough to justify being illegal. But a person stating ‘the government should not tell people they can’t take drugs and this is why’ is an totally different sort of argument. Many people who hold the latter don’t like that the debate ends up entirely focusing on the pragmatic reasons. A discussion about human rights is being turned into a budget debate and they feel it’s missing the point.

  • Can’t it be sort of both?

    There are people who believe in the supernatural; I’ve met at least one paranormal investigator who spent free time hanging around buildings looking for evidence of ghosts. You could say it’s as strange or untrue as many beliefs in fundamentalist Christianity, but it clearly isn’t doing the same level of damage. When you have limited resources, you can attack untrue beliefs for being untrue, or have a smaller list of ‘untrue and harmful’ that get priority.

    Well, I guess you have a much more idealistic approach to these things, because I don’t see truth as being quite the important, explanatory concept as you do. In fact, it’s the social and institutional utility of concepts that make us consider them true in the first place; there’s not some property the beliefs have that cause them to be true.

    I know how useless you find philosophy, but if you want to separate the truth value of a claim from its usefulness to society, you’re getting into philosophical territory.

    With racism, you can also use evidence to know how to fix the problem. Some employers remove applicant names from resumes so that candidates are judged with less bias. The reason is there is documented bias in what resumes get selected and what candidates are given interviews based on the ethnic information provided by the name.

    And that fixes the problem how?

    Sure, you’ve made it so that prejudiced hiring managers can’t just summarily exclude candidates with black-sounding names. But the most intractable problem with racism is its structural nature; the fact that black candidates are likely to have had less access to good education, experience, advancement, credit, and overall opportunity than white ones just because of the statistics of socioeconomic inequality is going to lead to the black candidates being excluded more often even if there are no names on the resumés. “Color blindness” doesn’t magically make systemic inequities go away. People who have been privileged in a society are naturally going to have an advantage, an advantage that has been gained in and perpetuates an unequal system.

  • Kevin K

    Destruction? I don’t understand. I am not a building.

  • Sorry, KK, the low hanging fruit cocktail is off the menu. Can I interest you in something a little more nutritious?

  • Brother TC

    destruction [dih-struhk-shuh] the act of destroying

    destroy [dih-stroi]
    1. to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.
    2. to put an end to; extinguish.
    3. to kill; slay.

    We don’t fear weapons of mass destruction because we love buildings so much.

  • Kevin K

    No problem. I was just practicing street epistemology until he figured it out. My sense is that he never would.

  • You ARE cunning.

  • Kevin K

    Plato would wonder why you continue to stay in the cave even when the fetters have been removed.

  • Brother TC

    Do you believe in the theory of Forms?

  • If you ask me, a fundie and a neo-atheist battling it out is a slapfight over the coziest stalagmite in Plato’s Cave.

  • simpledinosaur

    There’s a problem I see with all this: I think you are trying to redefine well-known and common terms. Example: a professor I’m familiar with tried to convince people that only white folk can be “racists” because by that term he meant you had to have an established order backing you up to be a proper racist. It was a smart argument, but I don’t think it ever really took. Just too radical a reordering of the lexicon. I recall that he ran into a lot of resistance: people generally didn’t buy it, didn’t go with it. That’s the issue with using a term like “mercy” the way you are using it, in my view.

    I will stick with the perfectly cold and sterile insistence that “all humans are created equal.” I honestly don’t feel qualified to determine who does or does not deserve my “mercy.” To me, the term reads as binary in its implications: to show mercy, or not to show mercy.

  • simpledinosaur

    I understand but please note the way he positions himself here as a subject who somehow needs to lower himself to the level of others deemed inferior (either by him or others). That seems to me a problem with this kind of formulation.

  • why is that a problem?

  • i can’t really change hebrew or torah. my words are based on that.

    christianity and its poisoned well have perverted the terms, and even if the western understanding of many of these concepts is far from the judaic concepts than whatever.

    i’m not going to discard it in favor of nonsense from the likes of Aquinas and all his bullshit, for example.

  • simpledinosaur

    How could it not be a problem, if my description is accurate? Why should one do this in the first place? I don’t see it.

  • simpledinosaur

    The word “empathy” is something that sounds to me like it has a more common understanding cross-culturally. Mercy has a very specific meaning, I should think, in the Christian discourse that affected Europe, and I don’t doubt that it has different connotations and implications in the Torah. I just don’t know the latter tradition well. But if you’re saying “mercy” is basically empathy, then sure, I can understand that being a positive thing.

  • mercy isn’t empathy.

    you can be empathetic, but mercy is beyond empathy because it deals in action.

    but also empathy is greatly helpful to being able to be merciful, but acts of mercy can’t depend on empathy because we lose empathy when it comes to those we despise.

    Radical mercy is turning the other cheek. Even if you don’t empathize with your assailant.

    Humility can bring one closer to empathy because humility expands awareness.

    So empathy, mercy, and humility are all interoperating concepts, but they aren’t interchangeable in the general sense, though in some specific contexts you might meaningful interchange there.

  • Kevin K

    I am not neo-anything. I am an old-fashioned atheist.

  • Kevin K

    No.

  • Brother TC

    If you don’t believe Plato’s main thesis, which is the theory of Forms, then why did you bring him up? Just name-dropping? I mentioned Descartes, so maybe you wanted to see my Descartes and raise me a Plato? Well, I call your bluff:

    You said Plato would wonder why I continue to stay in the cave. I strongly disagree, seeing as how Plato counted himself and everyone else among the cave dwellers, looking at material expressions of pure Ideas. Plato would not wonder why I continue to stay in the cave because he thought the realm outside the cave would be completely incomprehensible.

    Indeed, Plato would wonder why you think someone could leave the cave. He wasn’t proposing a path to spiritual enlightenment, you know. Maybe you’re confusing Plato with Buddha.

  • That’s another thing that bothers me about the “street epistemology” thing: it’s not like every one of our beliefs is amenable to reason in the same way as our beliefs about the orbit of the Earth.

    Then might the Street Epistemology’s utility be in revealing to a person who believed that their belief about a topic was based in some sort of deductive-inductive justification framework that it actually isn’t? It seems to me that getting people to perceive the shift between “I believe this because it is reasonable” to “I believe this because it makes me feel safe/good/comfortable” is the most important bit of the whole project; getting people to shed their illusions about presumed justification.

  • Then might the Street Epistemology’s utility be in revealing to a person who believed that their belief about a topic was based in some sort of deductive-inductive justification framework that it actually isn’t?

    Sure thing. But what Anthony seems to be doing is insisting that people apply standards of justification to beliefs that he knows can’t be justified according to those standards. I don’t think people profess religious faith for the same reason that they profess belief that the Earth orbits the Sun. And I don’t think Anthony accepts that judging things true is at all contextual, complicated or value-laden; I’m sure he’d say that a claim is only true if science says it’s true.

    It seems to me that getting people to perceive the shift between “I believe this because it is reasonable” to “I believe this because it makes me feel safe/good/comfortable” is the most important bit of the whole project; getting people to shed their illusions about presumed justification.

    I’m with ya. And I find it funny when Anthony infuriates a dyed-in-the-wool Scripturebot with his polite but persistent questioning. There are indeed people who deserve to have their worldviews challenged. I just dispute the assumption here in Groupthink Gulch that only religious people or conspiracists need to be challenged. It would be funny to see a village atheist or two in the SE hotseat, trying to justify his or her rarely-challenged beliefs about things.

  • Kevin K

    It was a metaphor — a literary reference to someone who is only seeing shadows of things others want him to see and has decided that those are the real things — despite there being objective evidence that they’re only shadows.

    You’re seeing shadows. That was my point. Shadows which are very much not real.

    One doesn’t need to be a Platonist to understand Plato and to use him as a reference. You’ve probably referred to nihilism and existentialism, but I doubt very much you’re a follower of Nietzsche or Sartre.

  • Brother TC

    You believe you know the truth of reality?

  • Anthony Magnabosco thinks I’m attacking and misrepresenting him, according to a message I received on Twitter this morning:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37da430cb8093186a78064da8efb84174abcf28ff0a4dd5b7fa5b026db78be9d.png

    I’m not very good on Twitter, because the format is so limiting I guess I come off as hectoring when I’m just trying to fit statements into the limited character Tweet format. Anthony and a couple of his fanboys acted insulted, then stopped responding.

    For the record, I tried to ask Anthony an honest question, but he’s obviously too butthurt to respond:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5fdaf8929b9dd0610c6bbe29261385d099a3a06cfdd13fd8716907dda2cd77b4.png

    What can I say? Some people just choke during interviews.

  • Tommy

    Of what?

  • Brother TC

    Of your body and soul.

  • Tommy

    My body is intact, and there’s no such thing as a soul.

  • Brother TC

    Is that just your intact body speaking, or something else?

  • Tommy

    What do you mean?

  • Brother TC

    You asserted that there’s no such thing as a soul, so do you believe you’re nothing but a body, or something more than just a body?

  • Tommy

    I’m just like you, a living breathing biological machine. Souls do not and never did exist. They’re myths like ghosts.

  • We’ve replaced myths with machine fantasies. Talk about progress!

  • Brother TC

    Machines are neither living nor breathing, though we may simulate such things. Do you think your consciousness is a myth, like a ghost?

  • Tommy

    Avoiding your rabbit trail, let’s get back to your original post. You said you didn’t believe absolute truth can be known before you saved from destruction of your body and soul. It is known that everbody dies and their bodies decompose, plus they’re were never such things as souls.

    Therefore, you’re not “saved”.

  • Brother TC

    You don’t know that everybody dies, though you do have evidence that their bodies decompose. You also don’t know that there’s no such things as souls. You believe that souls don’t exist because you have blind faith in a materialistic universe.

  • Tommy

    Every dies. No exceptions. You will die and decompose in the indefinite future. That’s the way it goes. Deal with it. I know there are no such things as souls the same way I know there’s no such thing as Superman – people made it up. I don’t care about blind faith – it’s useless to me. I don’t believe in souls because THEY ARE MADE UP. You’re going to die and decompose like me. You’re going to cease to exist like me. DEAL WITH IT.

  • Brother TC

    “Every dies. No exceptions.”

    That’s just a belief statement on your part, and a redundant one at that.

    “I know there are no such things as souls… people made it up.”

    Who told you that, and why do you believe them?

    “I don’t care about blind faith”

    Blind faith is what you’ve got, whereas my faith is a seeing faith.

    “I don’t believe in souls because THEY ARE MADE UP.”

    Another redundant, and circular, assertion.

    “You’re going to cease to exist like me.”

    Unlike you, I have everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

  • GUYS. I already warned you about the religious talk. This ain’t the place for it.

    Do NOT fuck with me on this.

  • Sorry, the low-hanging fruit orchard is closed. You’ve both had your say.

  • I try to respect your boundaries on this although i forget myself sometimes for which I’m sorry.

    Other times if I stray, it might be because i use torah philosophically and secularly to illustrate points, and i suppose blurring the lines there is inevitable. So i get confused, probably.

  • Oh, don’t sweat it.

    I’m click-thirsty enough to let people ramble and bicker plenty, but I draw the line at the Scripturebot vs. Sciencebot slapfights. When the ALL CAPS start flying, and my ever-so-gentle warnings go unheeded, the end is nigh.

  • fair play. i detest those particular clashes as well. they’re fruitless. that doesn’t always prevent me from getting sucked in, but i am as always, a work in progress.

  • Tommy

    You didn’t need to delete comments to say that.

  • Dude. I gave you guys a warning yesterday.

    There’s only about a million other places online where you could play slap-the-fundie, ain’t there? Try contributing to the discussions instead, you living breathing biological machine you.

  • Brother TC

    Do you believe your words indicate what’s in your heart?

  • Rubem Azenha

    On a scale to 0 to 100, with 0 meaning you don’t believe it at all and 100 meaning you absolute believe it, how much do you scale into the belief that Street Epistemology is creepy?

  • SO WHAT? – to your whole criticism.

    No matter what you do, there’s something else that you’re no doing. If you’re doing an interview, you’re not doing a dialog – unless you class inverviews as a subset of dialogs. If the interviewee questions Anthony, Anthony answers the question.

    If the interviewee is an atheist, Anthony has no where to go, because he defines atheism as lacking a bleief in a God – not the belief that a God doesn’t exist.

    If he insists that unfalsifiable beliefs are groundless, he doesn’t do it in his interviews. And SO WHAT again. All falsifiable beliefs are ultimately based on unfalsifiable premises.

    If you want to do SE on Anthony from a theist viewpoint, I bet $100. he will comply.

  • SO WHAT? – to your whole criticism.

    And that’s not a response in any sense of the word, is it? Don’t you know how this street epistemology thing works?

    You’re not acknowledging the extent of my critique here. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ask religious believers probing questions about what they believe and why; I’m saying that we should be subjecting our own beliefs to that sort of criticism as well. The discussions in the atheist com-box, however, fixate on what’s wrong with everybody else’s beliefs and never with the ones we hold dear.

    This isn’t nitpicking. I’m saying this is what street epistemology is designed to do in the first place: relieve us of the responsibility for justifying our beliefs by putting people we already know we don’t agree with on the hot seat instead.

    If the interviewee is an atheist, Anthony has no where to go, because he defines atheism as lacking a bleief in a God – not the belief that a God doesn’t exist.

    Like I ask in this article, don’t we have lots of beliefs about things like knowledge, society, morality and progress that deserve scrutiny as well?

    Again, I’m not claiming this is some kind of oversight on our part. It’s a deliberate escape from responsibility. Calling oneself an atheist is just characterizing one’s position on one question, the existence of The Big G. If we’ve convinced ourselves that that’s the only relevant question that we could conceivably ask in our public discourse, I think that’s a sign of intellectual dishonesty.

    We’re the ones who consider ourselves rational and reasonable, after all, but we’re extremely selective in applying rational scrutiny to beliefs. Holding other people to a standard that we don’t hold ourselves to isn’t the hallmark of intrepid freethinkers. It’s a sign of cowardice.

    All falsifiable beliefs are ultimately based on unfalsifiable premises.

    To quote a wise man, SO WHAT? Popper’s falsification criterion is like the Model T of the philosophy of science. The fact that people like Anthony still treat it like a foundational assumption of skepticism is evidence that atheists should be more familiar with legitimate epistemology than with the “street” kind. Like I say in this article, anyone who believes all men are mortal, that there are fish in the Atlantic Ocean, or that he or she was conceived, holds unfalsifiable beliefs. Why are our unfalsifiable beliefs okay, but those of others need to be critiqued and discarded?

    If you want to do SE on Anthony from a theist viewpoint, I bet $100. he will comply.

    Save your dough. On Twitter, Anthony complained that he felt “attacked” and “misrepresented” by my analysis of SE. No one likes to be in the hot seat, huh?

    And I’m not religious, so a “theist viewpoint” is neither here nor there. I’m talking about just grilling people on what they believe and why. I could be just as insistent and overbearing in asking other nonbelievers what grounds their beliefs about reality, knowledge, morality and truth as village atheists are in analyzing problems with religious belief. “Is belief in science just blind faith in what experts tell us?” “How do we know when we’re being rational and when we’re just rationalizing beliefs we didn’t initially form through reason?” “How can we measure the accuracy of our modes of inquiry in terms of a correspondence to reality if we only know reality through the modes of inquiry we’ve invented to study it?” “Does science work because it’s discovering truths about the world, or is it merely a self-validating construct?”

    There’s no end to the list of questions we could ask one another that have nothing to do with gods and the supernatural. Why we never ask them is another question altogether.