What quoting the Bible to an atheist looks like when you’re an atheist

What quoting the Bible to an atheist looks like when you're an atheist

Seriously, this is what quoting the Bible to an atheist looks like when you’re an atheist. Spouting lines saying Jesus is the only way to heaven or whatever is genuinely less than meaningless. It may be a standard apologetics or evangelising trick, but it doesn’t work. Preachers need to be honest about how many people they’ve ever converted with this sort of thing; I cannot imagine it being very high.

Citing the Bible is not an argument designed to convince; it’s designed to maintain, or to keep people who already have faith. Indeed, most theistic arguments stem from this solely because they cannot connect the a priori arguments, such as the cosmological or teleological arguments, to the actual prescriptive dogma. If you pre-suppose that the Bible is inerrant and true then it makes sense, it keeps your faith. But that’s true of presupposing anything; if we assume Middle Earth is real, then the Silmarillion is proof that Middle Earth is the one truth mythology of England (besides, we also have Tolkien’s intent to back that one up).

So, to anyone who has ever done this; what do you actually expect us to do? Go “oh, gee whiz mister! I never knew that! Tell me more about this Jesus guy!” Because, frankly, I can’t see how you can even expect anyone but the terminally stupid to follow you after that.

Actually, that probably explains creationism.

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Dear Mr Cameron

Dear David Cameron, you right-wing fucktard (no, wait, a bit harsh)

Cameron! How, man, ye little radgey!! (no, bit too Tyne and Wear, they’ll assume I’m stupid)

Dear David Cameron, (alleged) quasi human,

I read with a combination of bafflement and alarm (that’s suitably middle class, right?) of your proposals to solve All The Problems In The World by attacking that horrid beast known as Internet Pornography. I would like to express my disagreement (read; am about to shred your entire argument into small chunks and pass them through my digestive system) with your proposals and your motive.

Firstly, I must question your choice of target. Creating an opt-out only filter for all pornographic images and video at the ISP level is tantamount to the old idiom of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (or perhaps using the UK’s stock of atomic weapons on Belfast in order to deal with the IRA). It sets a dangerous precedent for a government enforced, high level censorship campaign against content generators on the Internet. This is something we expect from China and North Korea, but not the United Kingdom. I fear that this is the thinner end of a wedge that will seek to remove the online presence of any dissidence once the precedent and infrastructure for such a move is in place.

You aim to clamp down on pornography depicting child abuse, yet there is already sufficient momentum across the internet to deal with this. The Internet Watch Foundation, for instance, is remarkably zealous in policing the internet (well, blacklisting the cover of Virgin Killer was fucking hilarious, at least) and can be very effective (when it’s not making a cunting balls up censoring Wikipedia, of course). Google, which despite its flaws (Evil. Evil bastards) deals with indecent images of children very effectively by taking a zero-tolerance approach. Further, being one of the leaders in internet technology, it is undoubtedly better equipped to deal effectively with the cited problem of illegal images and acts (Google is scary-fucking-good at what it does) than any government endorsed filter. Content hosting websites also police themselves effectively, and always report as much detail as possible about offenders to the relevant authorities – those that don’t are usually dealt with by the search engines and ISPs that do deal with it effectively. If this is somehow insufficient, then how would making further amendments to the law without further provisions for enforcement, as was the case with The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, improve the situation? (Let me answer that one for you; it won’t, you stupid piece of shit)  There is very little evidence available that current laws and practices are not sufficient to deal with a problem that will only be driven more underground, and become more subversive, should we attempt to take broad (and stupid) actions against it online.

We all know this will be ineffective (that is, it won’t do jack shit) overall. Anyone who has used the internet for any length of time will quickly come to a few conclusions on the subject. Firstly; internet porn isn’t as easy to merely “stumble” across as is widely advertised (if you stick Google’s safe search on, and look up “Disney Princess”, you’re not going to be immediately met with one of the countless pieces of “fan art” depicting Jasmine riding Aladdin’s rock-hard and oversized cock) and simple precautions are already widely and freely available for responsible adults and parents to use. Secondly; where generic web filters are in place (Fucking Scunthorpe!), they usually don’t work. Trying to instigate an opt-in policy for indecent images will likely create a false sense of security for parents, leading them to avoid the basic courses of action they should be taking when raising children in the internet age. (but, hey, it’s just too much fucking effort to supervise Little Timmy’s internet usage. He’s just fucking fine having a DeviantART account age 8.) There are many problems with attempting to block “pornography”; how to define it, for one, is a major hurdle. What about, say, DeviantART, where the line between “smut” and “artistic nudes” is blurred, or YouTube, where people post explicit material daily, but only just get through by making sure nipples are sufficiently covered? The line needs to be drawn somewhere for such a hard-and-fast (hurr hurr) approach, and it is almost certain that innocent material will be taken offline while offending material gets through. Normally, it would be fallacious to say that less-than-100% effectiveness means we should avoid attempting a reduction in harm, but here we are talking about state-wide censorship based on zero evidence that harm will actually be reduced. In this case, such a problem is not a fallacious one, but a serious issue that casts doubt over whether such a proposal is anything more than a complete waste of our collective time. (Also, Cameron, don’t lie; I bet you’ve tossed one off to a pair of barely-18 tits in your time. Though, back when you had a functioning sex drive we were probably all still on 28k dial-up)

What is most disturbing, however, is the targeting of “extreme” pornography in the 2008 act and the current focus on depictions and simulations of rape. Not rape. Depictions and simulations of rape (see, you’re not going to get a fucking heading saying you want to ban rape, as that was dealt with nicely in the Sexual Offences Act years ago).  “Depiction” and “simulation” notably implying that consent was exchanged prior to the act; what does this sort of message send to the population, and our children, about the nature of consent in sexual activity?

Let’s be frank here (i.e., the sexually repressed should skip to the next paragraph). “Extreme” pornography is, by and large, not a problem. Because laws against rape and child abuse, as well as physical abuse to adults, are already in effect, producers of “extreme” pornography (“BDSM” if you want the actual factual technical term) have to tread very careful grounds in order for their material to be sold; yes, it’s also policed effectively by credit card processors (often, the adults involved will happily go way further than they do, with full consent, but the legal eagles working for the payment processing companies say “no”).  This started a movement towards what is known as “ethical” pornography; a move towards business transparency, codes of conduct, fundamental rights for the talent and more openness about how what was occurring was simply fantasy. This often includes bookending scenes with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to underscore both the fantasy and consensual aspects of the scenes being produced (for those interpreting this as “porn addict”, this sort of information is readily available online to research and is basic and fundamental knowledge for anyone who is not a complete fuckwit expressing an informed opinion regarding online censorship). Contrast this to the experiences in so-called vanilla pornography, where fewer legal restrictions are in place. Women rail-roaded into the business, underpaid, overworked, forced onto drugs, controlled by pimps, taken in, chewed up and spat out, and regularly beaten and abused by directors; all of this stems from “normal” pornography rather than its “more interesting” sub-genres. So, indeed, this extreme form of pornography that you personally find most sickening is the most ethical, consensual and progressive of all pornography (admit it, it’s all just right-wing squeamishness about the sick fact that people fuck and dare to enjoy it).

As for the choice of motive, this is also questionable (read; royally fucktarded). How can someone, with a straight face, declare that they’re taking a decision to protect children (a decision that won’t actually protect children) while simultaneously dismantling the welfare state and taking country-wide financial decisions that are actively driving people into poverty? (Really, how the fuck do you sleep at night?)

Statistically, the greatest potential harm to a child is its own parents, whether it be physical or psychological abuse, or simple neglect. Being exposed to a pair of naked breasts (or even a pair of massive quintuple Ds getting splashed by 6 ball-sack’s worth of salty Man Juice at the same time) is unlikely to lead to everlasting trauma. You know what does cause harm? It’s assertions such as the fact that girls can only wear pink, or that boys must play with cars rather than dolls. It’s the idea that we should never discuss issues such as consent and personal agency with young children because that would “destroy their innocence” (I mean, for fucksake, most sex education has pretty diagrams of internal reproductive organs, but the first time a young boy might see the outside of a growling vagina is when, aged 16 he awkwardly tries to stick his cock in her bellybutton).

In short, what is being proposed is the perfect combination of ineffective and pointless, headline-grabbing but meaningless, and needlessly oppressive to free expression. It serves to undermine legitimate, consensual activity, while generating some air of useless complacency amongst the “concerned” and those easily susceptible to such scaremongering.  But most of all, it sets a dangerous precedent for how a government can control the content communicated between its citizens.

Argumentum abusi fallacia

This is an import from a RationalWiki essay originally started last year following some argument or something about something, I forget. The links are all still to the RW inter-linked articles, as copy-pasting HTML-formatted text is remarkably efficient! There are a few stylistic/rhetorical changes for this version.

Argumentum abusi fallacia (Latin for “argument of the abused fallacy”) is the incorrect use of a formal or informal logical fallacy. As there is an absolute myriad of fallacies to choose from, it’s quite easy to not be entirely familiar with all of them.

False accusations that someone is making a fallacious argument, even when they’re not, become common. Someone might be making a bad or incorrect argument, but there are ways to be wrong without really being fallacious about it and there are ways to be right while still being fallacious.

One example might be the assertion that “women deserve equal treatment because they’ve been second-class citizens for years” – a morally sound conclusion but, technically, a non sequitur when you think about it (see the “is-ought” problem).

There are also ways to counter an argument without providing a list of fallacies – in the business we call these things “counter” arguments. Science does this all the time; we correct things by presenting superior evidence, rather than declaring previous theories to be somehow fallacious (and if you think “being incorrect because of evidence you didn’t have access to at the time” is a fallacy, you’ve largely missed the point).

The use of argumentum abusi fallacia is something of an argument by assertion, in which an attempt is made to refute an argument simply by citing the name of a fallacy. Almost certainly without any further explanation of why.

This is often a result of falling into skeptical jargon, or just discovering that there are terms not just to describe that someone is wrong but why they’re wrong. So, thanks to convenience and in an effort to show off this new-found knowledge – and, hey, some of it’s in Latin! – someone might be very keen to drop the name of a formal or informal fallacy into conversation. However, just because you can reduce why someone is wrong to a single, fancy name, doesn’t mean the names of fallacies can be thrown around at will and automatically be correct. Arguments need to be demonstrated as being fallacious, and usually this is possible without using any Latin at all. Although this list is a little pedantic, the important thing remains to understand why something is incorrect or fallacious, rather than get the name right.

Unless you’re attempting to answer a Gish gallop in real time, in which case you might not have much choice but to just go for the shorthand. So long as you use the shorthand correctly, of course.

Formal and informal

In short, a formal logical fallacy is a fallacy in the structure of an argument. If you distil the argument down into symbolic logic, which is the quasi-mathematical way of representing arguments and implications, a formal fallacy is one where the pieces simply don’t fit together. Because this is all represented symbolically, what those letters actually mean doesn’t count. In a formal statement like “PQ, P, therefore Q” it doesn’t matter what P and Q stand for.

The formal fallacies are rarely misused; though mostly because it’s far easier to take issues with content and style than to break an argument down to a logical form and track down the errors – and if one was to do that, then the fallacies become evident and difficult to misinterpret or produce a false positive. For instance, accusations of a non sequitur argument are usually valid, since that disconnect is easy to spot and demonstrate.

Informal logical fallacies are issues with the content of an argument. I.e., what the P and Q actually stand for. Unlike the formal logical fallacies, the informal fallacies are rife with pitfalls where they are misused, creating a ton of distracting false positives. At worst, their misuse comes from an inability for someone to create a new argument of their own or to address an opponent’s points; they simply accuse them of making a fallacy and have done with it.

The examples below chart the most common offenders.

Example: Special pleading

The cosmological argument as made famous by St. Thomas Aquinas and others reads roughly as follows:

Everything that exists requires a cause. There cannot be any infinite regression of causes. Therefore, the universe must have a first cause: God.

The trouble with this argument is that it exhibits special pleading. God is arbitrarily, without any supporting reason, exempted from the requirement that “all things require a cause”. Often the response to this argument is “why can’t the universe be acausal if God can be?” and thus the special pleading begins. Either God is made an exemption “by definition” (a very strong case of special pleading) or other wild assertions are made that make God “not count”. This is a legitimate fallacy: God needs a real reason to be exempted from the premises of the arguments.

So, in response to this, the argument has been modified slightly. This is the Kalām cosmological argument, touted ad nauseam by William Lane Craig, which usually uses this slight alteration over the version above:

Everything that begins to exist requires a cause. There cannot be any infinite regression of causes. Therefore, the universe must have a first cause: God.

One of the reasons behind this modification is that it appeals to our experience of naturalistic reality; everything we see come into existence does, in fact, have a cause. So, if somebody were to dismiss this modified version of the argument with “that’s special pleading!” it would be an incorrect use of the fallacy. This is is because the modification explicitly exempts an “eternal” God from the need for a cause, so does not contain any special pleading. The underlying logic is on better and less fallacious grounds as “special pleading” is a formal logical fallacy – a problem with the structure, not content. Special pleading is stating AB, and giving ad hoc exceptions. There are a multitude of other issues with the Kalām argument, but since the exceptions are, in fact, built into the logical conditions then there is nothing “special” about the pleading, ergo, no fallacy.

Example: Ad hominem

An ad hominem argument, from the Latin for “to the man”, is something that doesn’t attack the questions and points at hand, but the messenger and the person delivering it. This is one of the most common misuses of an assertion of fallacy because people can all too easily confuse ad hominem with “crass insult”.

If someone calls someone else a ‘total douchebag cunt-faced prick-stain’ out of the blue in a discussion, it might be mean, it might be unproductive, hell it might even be fair and correct, but it is not necessarily fallacious. It doesn’t have any particularly flawed logic to it, it’s just an insult. Ad hominem attacks dismiss an argument because of a completely unrelated property of the person delivering the argument.

Consider the following:

The war in Iraq is illegal because George W. Bush is an incompetent buffoon.

This sort of thing is an ad hominem attack (and is a specific logical fallacy)  because, buffoon or not, Bush’s intellect has little bearing on the validity of a war; the validity of the war is what impacts the validity of the war. However, we can rephrase this slightly.

George W. Bush is an incompetent buffoon because the war in Iraq is illegal.

This is on slightly firmer ground. In short, while it might still be irrelevant, Bush’s lack of brain isn’t being used to justify a legal status. But his actions and comprehension of a legal status can be used to infer his state of mind. It’s easily arguable and conceivable that someone engaging their country in an illegal war could be described by the words “incompetent” and “buffoon” amongst several others. Yet, if faced with no alternative rebuttal, this might well be accused of being an ad hominem attack, just because it makes an egregious personal insult.

(Note: the two above are forms the same ideas with the implication reversed: AB and BA. For a treatment of why these aren’t the same statement, see affirming the consequent and its statistical cousin confusion of the inverse. The logic is non-commutative in these cases.)

A few others

Here is a brief run-down of a few other pieces of skeptical jargon that occasionally get misused:

Argument from adverse consequences
This is the fallacy that states that because X is unfavourable, or would cause problems, X isn’t true. It is fallacious because the effects of a hypothesis have no bearing on its truth value – objective reality cares little about whether it screws us over. However, there are cases where there is no “truth value” to be found. For instance, social policy. Here, consequences of a decision are all we have to determine a correct course of action – in terms of setting a policy or making a decision, the consequences are a stand in for the “evidence” you would expect to see from a testable hypothesis.
Appeal to authority
As noted in the relevant RW article, appeal to authority is perfectly valid when it’s an appeal to a relevant and experienced authority. Talking to Brian Cox or Stephen Hawking about physics, and Richard Dawkins about evolutionary biology, for example is fine because they have studied and contributed to these subjects. While it is true that even in these cases their arguments need to be judged on their own merits and aren’t correct because they are authorities, this fallacy is often mistaken as a carte blanche to ignore anything said by an authority, or to ignore anything externally referenced to a person.
Begging the question
People often use this to mean “raises the question”… but that’s something else entirely. Circular logic can often be easily confused with just normal logic as any individual logical step should be so undeniably sound that it might seem, to the untrained eye, just to state the obvious. Consider PQ, P, therefore Q, for example – this is formal logic working at its finest, but “P, therefore Q” might very easily appear circular.
Confirmation bias
Remember, just because you’ve found evidence that still supports your hypothesis, doesn’t mean you are necessarily guilty of confirmation bias. The standard model of particle physics has withstood a lot of testing, but those testing it aren’t guilty of confirmation bias; because this fallacy is a description of how you go about searching for that evidence by building experiments and tests that can only prove your point and may never fail. Specifically, whether you bother to look for something that will disprove your point. The Wason card problem illustrates the point of a confirmation bias nicely: if you first seek out evidence to disconfirm the hypothesis of the problem, you can solve the problem in fewer card turns and the falsifying test always needs to be performed, while the confirming test is irrelevant to the hypothesis given.
Correlation does not equal causation
Often, this can be cited in a way that almost completely denies the correlation too. If two events (P and Q) correlate significantly, then the probability of you getting P when you have Q is still higher than when you don’t have it. A lack of causality between the two still won’t stop this if the correlation is experimentally verified. For instance, in the textbook example of shoe size correlating with reading ability, the main cause is that both correlate quite nicely with age – but unless you control for age, experience and education, the correlation between reading ability and shoe size will still exist. Indeed, more precisely determining causality from data is done this way; by controlling for confounding variables to see what relationships remain.
Equivocation
Equivocation is effectively an illusion of language only – the fact that words can have multiple meanings and definitions in different contexts and so might get confused. It’s a simple mistake, really. For example, conflating biological evolution (Darwinian natural selection) with stellar evolution that tracks the lives of stars. Sometimes people will call “equivocation” when someone is using an analogy – but providing the person making the argument by analogy knows what they’re saying and where the analogy works and where it fails, there is certainly no equivocation involved.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
This quip has often been used to describe how believing in ghosts requires a substantial degree of evidence because such a concept would go against what we already know – it would rattle the whole of science far more than merely not finding the Higgs boson would. But sometimes it can produce a straw man that’s used to dismiss any and all evidence for something because it simply isn’t miraculous enough. Homeopathy would just need a statistically significant improvement over a meta-study to prove it works for a particular illness, it wouldn’t need to magically cure every cancer it’s tried on to prove itself (the fact it does neither is beside the point, it’s about correctly judging what evidence is required).
Slippery slope
“If you allow X, then Y and Z are certain to follow – therefore X is bad.” This is only an invalid argument under certain conditions. Specifically, how realistic is the slope involved here? Raising house prices on one property is likely to cause a race to increase the prices of the surrounding houses, this slope is fairly realistic. Gay marriage leading to the legalisation of bestiality is significantly less realistic on account of the principle of informed consent. This is tied up with argument from adverse consequences.
Straw man
A straw man argument is one where a person deliberately (and perhaps knowingly) sets up a false version of what they’re arguing against in order to defeat it. Straw men are often seen in protracted arguments where a particular “party line” exists; for instance, the crocoduck as a supposed “example” of evolution – straw man versions of creationist beliefs appear equally often, particular amongst parodists. However, true straw man arguments tend to exist mostly when speakers or writers have had time to process what the other has said, and the straw man is really identified as such when they continue to use those arguments despite repeated corrections. The misuse of the straw man idea appears in a few different ways.
  1. What tends to happen in quick-fire debates is that someone will accuse the other of forming a straw man argument, when really all that has occurred is a misunderstanding – and 90% of the time, the responsibility for the misunderstanding is the person doing the talking, not the listening. Accusing an opponent of forming a straw man argument forms a tactic to deflect people from noticing that the point may not have been laid out very well to start with (in short, people are stupid and don’t explain themselves well; but doing this intentionally is something else entirely and may even count as obfuscation).
  2. A “straw disclaimer” can exist in which someone is saying that they’re arguing for x but specifically say they’re not arguing for a slight modification of x. If a counter-argument suggests that there is no practical difference between the two, it’s very easy to counter it completely by shouting “straw man”. This often crops up when defending mentioning slavery in the Bible; as the Biblical rules refer to how to treat fellow Hebrews and don’t refer to “chattel slavery” – even though, for most practical and moral purposes, there’s not a tremendous amount of difference.
  3. As a response to using a reductio ad absurdum where someone is shown to endorse a position they didn’t explicitly endorse initially. While a reductio ad absurdum argument can produce a straw man, this isn’t always the case and the correct response is to demonstrate the fallaciousness of the reductio argument, not to dismiss its conclusions outright.

Conclusions

Okay, so that’s long, and slightly rambling. I’m not even going to say all of the above is even “true”, because I’m not a prescriptive authority on what “is” and “is not” logical. All I can say is how I see it. But I can end with this piece of advice; don’t even bother learning the “correct” use of fallacies. Just say what you mean, say what is wrong with what someone says. Is someone making a “straw man” of your argument? Don’t say a straw man, just say “that’s not what I mean, and I would like to know how you came to the conclusion that I said it”. Is someone insulting you? Don’t say ad hominem, just move on and focus on what substance you can actually find amongst the dreck. It’s not that hard, surely…

How Do You Tell if Someone is a Real Scientist or Not?

Jay Seegert recently wrote a guest article titled “How Do You Tell if Someone is a Real Scientist or Not?” Being riddled with so much derp that just cannot be allowed to stand, I thought I’d write a response. Alas, I was beaten to the punch by one of my partners-in-crime on Facebook. Here is what he had to say on the subject:

Nice strawman, Mr. Seegert. You really are a class act, here, knowing full well that your target audience will have no inclination or desire to overcome their internal confirmation bias to either confirm or deny your claims.

Consider the following exchange…

Please source this “exchange”, or admit that you made it up entirely. No one who seriously engages a creationist on terms of defining “science” or other terms would make the careless misstep of circular reasoning that you portray here. Science is not something to “believe” in, in the first place. It is something to be observed, tested, and questioned, even when one thinks that they know all there is to know about a given subject.

Creationists, one the other hand, such as Eric Hovind, Paul Taylor, and Sye Ten Bruggencate are on record numerous times in print and video admitting that their worldview not only RELIES but is ENTIRELY BASED ON circular reasoning (i.e., Creation is true, because the Bible says it and the Bible is true, because it’s the word of God, and the Bible is the word of God because it says so in the Bible, which also says that Creation is true, …)

Publication:

Produce a single publication refusal stating “We can’t publish anything from you… You’re not a real scientist!”

A high school dropout could, theoretically, publish in a major peer-reviewed science journal without a credential to their name IF the science is sound and passes peer review. The problem with creationist articles is that they cannot pass peer review because they are bad science. Any field of science needs to take into account the observations and data from related and often disparate fields of science that impact the hypothesis being tested.

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”:

Please. Citing a propaganda film of that nature is on par with using “Super Size Me” as a dietary guideline. You insult the intelligence of your readers by using it. Instead, perhaps you could post some links to scanned copies of rejection and censorship letters that explicitly say words to the effect of “This journal will not publish your article because you believe in God”? My guess is that such documents don’t exist, because the rejections are based on fundamental scientific errors that are readily apparent upon reading, even to novices in the appropriate field.

Kirschner quote:

My good sir… This is a BREATHTAKING example of a “quotemine”. Absolutely stunning. I marvel at your ability to take a quote so far out of context as to mean exactly the opposite of what its speaker intended. This quote ignores the fact that the ENTIRE ARTICLE was about a shift in biology away from reductionism (e.g., the way that Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, etc.look at individual parts of life to study their intricacies) and toward an interdisciplinary approach to describe and study evolutionary processes on a macro scale.

To wit:

For too long, they say, researchers in its different domains-from evolutionists in the field to cell biologists in the lab-have remained isolated. ‘I wouldn’t call it an antagonism as much as one not knowing anything about the other,’ Gerhart offers.

Kirschner likes to invoke the much-quoted declaration of famed 20th-century biologist Theodesius Dobzhansky that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’ (the title of a 1973 essay). ‘In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself,’ Kirschner declares. ‘Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.’

As a result, scientists working on genetics, cells, and molecules-a background Kirschner and Gerhart share-have not always considered how components of an organism reveal both its physiological properties and evolutionary properties and provide a window into the history of the organism. Evolutionary science, argue Kirschner and Gerhart, will advance as more biologists place their lab research within this evolutionary framework.

Nonetheless, many scientists think a convergence of biology’s disciplines is now at hand. Whereas evolutionary biologists have famously debated whether the gene, organism, or even species is the proper unit of natural selection, current research increasingly integrates these things. ‘This is where it’s happening,’ says Daniel Hartl, an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard. ‘Evolutionists and others in the field are not arguing about reductionism any more. What’s exciting is putting it all together, from the genetic level to the organism.

http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/58104:missing-links

Relevance to medicine:

You provide an orthopedic surgeon’s response. Ask a pathologist, epidemiologist, or virologist the same question and see what kind of an answer you get.

Founding of disciplines of science:

So? Algebra was founded by Muslims. Does that mean that mathematics owes its existence to the Koran? Geometry was founded by polytheistic Greeks. I guess we should thank Zeus for the value of Pi (which the Bible gets wrong, by the way)! Pagan druids founded astronomy. That’s why telescopes require the sacrifice of a virgin goat in order to work properly.

Do you see how silly you sound yet?

Those are the major points and I think I’ve made my case clear. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. You should be ashamed of yourself. Not on some theological “God vs. The Haters” level or even a “Creation vs. Evolution” one, but on the simple fact that you would even attempt to publish this tripe in defense of your creationist view when your points are so easily and readily rebutted and debunked.

What the f….

The following is a selected list of “search terms” that WordPress tells me have driven traffic to this blog. They are copied verbatim from the statistics page (note, this post is semi-regularly updated).

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Is this normal?!?!

Femme Heil!

As the RW server is still being a very naughty boy, I thought I’d copy this here (well, publish the draft that was saved here). 

In response to recent accusations from Reddit, RationalWiki’s feminist contributors have prepared a brief statement.

We have been biding our time, we have been waiting. But now, now is the time to strike. We are coming out, we are making it known; we are here to take over RationalWiki. From here on RationalWiki will now be known as RadfemWiki, and will concentrate solely on the issues of our Lesbian Sisterhood.

Our mission is simple, and covered in four points. These are adapted from the Old Patriarchal system, in order for Pathetic Men to be able to accept the transition slowly:

  1. Analyzing and refuting Patriarchy and the anti-woman movement.
  2. Documenting the full range of terrible Male ideas.
  3. Explorations of Men and how they should have no rights.
  4. Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are denied by the media.

Right now, we have our own Lesbian Sisters waiting to carry out our orders to complete the transition to our own ideology of Femme Superiority. While our main goal is the enslavement of all male contributors, we must not forget the other goals. All non-lesbian womyn authors of RationalWiki will be banned forthwith. All transgendered womyn will be denied the so-called “right” be labelled womyn, and will be classified as Men, as they so obviously just are as we are accepting only of the superiority of Womyn-born Womyn, also known as True Womyn, who have been oppressed by the patriarchy by being forced to share the better gender with these quasi men. Gay male contributors can stay, but since all Gay Men are into BDSM, can be our willing whipping boys as we stomp our big, flat (Not high heels! They’re Male Oppression) boots into their testicles repeatedly.

We would also like to note that, in a change to established tradition and established by-laws, with immediate effect the RationalWiki Foundation will also take a more active role in this new editorial stance. We shall be appropriating new funds in order to campaign against these so-called mens “rights”. “Rights” such as, but not limited to:

  • The freedom to rape any woman wearing a skirt above ankle-length – not that we condone wearing anything but trousers.
  • The right to demand sex in exchange for dinner.
  • Breathing.

All articles about Male subjects will be demoted to UNWORTHY brainstar status, as all men are unworthy of it. Articles on Males like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers and Charles Darwin will be re-framed in their proper social context; that of their immense contributions to the worldwide and systematic oppression of True Women. Articles critical of True Womyn are unacceptable, as this merely contributes to further Patriarchal Oppression. We don’t care how wrong Phyllis Schlafly, Margaret Thatcher and Ann Coulter are, as members of the Lesbian Sisterhood, they should be given the True recognition they all deserve.

New articles to look out for include:

  •  How razors oppress True Womyn by forcing them to divert from their Natural State for the pleasure of unruly paedophile men.
  •  A new editorial slant on the blowjob, dictating the best angle of attack for using teeth to remove the penis in a single action.
  •  How mansplaining is what ALL men do whenever they open their mouths.
  •  General re-writing of the article on “homo sapiens” to remove the male-leaning bias – i.e, any mention of the male aspect of the species.

Finally, we shall crusade against all off the following: computer games, pornography (even consenting adults are just brainwashed), the existence of testicles, and allowing Male children to wear the colour Blue.

We aim to make this transition as peaceful as possible. Those who accept willingly shall die first, those who resist shall first be driven mad.

Femme Heil!

Armondikov
Gamma Mangina-in-Chief

How to stop sucking at non-belief (Part 4)

Religion causes more wars than any other factor. Right?

It’s pretty hardy received wisdom amongst non-believers that religion is a violent, oppressive, terrifying force that causes nothing but harm to society.

Is this actually true? And I don’t mean in a “I can dig up at least one example” type of true (that’s trivial, just look up the number of infants who have died while their parents prayed over them rather than taking them to a hospital) I mean actually statistically true. Is it such a cause that can be reliably and repeatedly demonstrated? Is it a cause that tangibly alters the course of human events?

And I mean really caused by religion. As in, one leader got a message from God to declare war and everyone within that religion rose up to join them. Or the war was started by one religious group specifically to eradicate another religious group. Most importantly, though, if you want to say religion is The Cause (capital letters and all), then that war would have to  be impossible without religion. After all, religion could be a confounding variable. There’s the story that George Bush was “inspired” to invade Iraq by God, but that alone would never have passed under the US political system. The political machinations for a war in Iraq were brewing for decades, it wasn’t declared on a whim because of religion – in fact, even taking the “God told me so” message at face value it’s not religion, as in the abstract social phenomenon, that caused the war, but lone single beliefs of an individual. In that respect it’s no different to any other perfectly secular totalitarian declaration of war!

Back in the dark days of only a few years ago, some bright sparks had this great idea to make information available on this thing that they called “The Inter Net”. So looking up this sort of thing has become remarkably easy – if you can broadcast your opinion on the internet, there is no legitimate excuse for you being unable to use it to gain some facts. And so, with that back-hander out of my system, let’s take a look at the list of ongoing military conflicts.

Now, this is just the ongoing ones, but it’s good enough for our purposes (see below). The first thing you would notice looking at the Wikipedia list would be the two categories of >1,000 and <1,000 deaths per year (2013) – conflicts escalate and trail off, ebbing and flowing as they progress whether they’re resolved or not. So the best thing to do with the list is to order them by cumulative casualties. This gives you a better overall view of what’s happened in the last 50 years or so.

You then see, quite readily, the top ongoing conflicts in terms of total deaths caused by them. This is pretty much the established metric for how bloody a war is, or how “bad” it was. These are:

Once you get below that, you’re into the long tail, but these are the ones that dominate the entire list dramatically and take up the lions share of death and destruction. Anyone see religion in there? Anyone? Nope, me neither. They’re almost all exclusively politically-motivated civil wars. State-to-state invasions are practically unheard of in the grand scheme of things! And notably, one of the top ones for deaths this year alone is the drug war in Mexico.

You have to dig through that list of ongoing wars quite thoroughly to find a religious basis for the listed conflict. There’s the Nigerian Sharia conflict, which fits the bill pretty well. There’s the Lord’s Resistance Army, which despite being political I’ll just about accept as religiously motivated because Kony thinks he’s some spiritual medium in contact with God and wishes to install a theocracy (he has many things in common with Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin, it seems). There’s the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines, which is being fought by Jihadists… and that’s about it, really. The Israel-Palestine thing is really more about territory and occupation, rather than religion. Northern Ireland is about separatism and independence, and it’s only a combination of religion tradition dating back to the reformation that means that it’s vaguely Protestant on one side and Catholics on the other. To say that those are about religion would be like saying the second world war motivated by tensions between blonde haired and brown haired people because Hitler liked the Aryan image.

That’s ongoing current wars and civil conflicts. What about the other biggies from the 20th century? The first world war, the second world war, Vietnam… well, if you think those have anything to do with religion you need to and read a fucking history book. Right. Fucking. Now.

“Ah!” says favourite Straw Man sparing partner, “but what about the Crusades, and the Inquisition?”

Well, my darling dearest voice-in-my-head, what of them? What about them? No, really. What of it? Are you seriously considering judging modern religion by the standards of how it operated centuries ago? Are you seriously saying we should take someone going along to a church to sing a hymn or two on a Sunday, and judge them based only on the whims of Pope Urban II 1,000 years ago? Seriously, it’s a 1,000 years ago. If we were living in a fantasy novel this would have been called “The Second Age” or the “Epoch of Elves” or something like that. That’s why I opened this with the list of ongoing conflicts (well, here’s the list of bloodiest wars ever, again, note the dearth of religious motivation).

But let’s take that a bit further. Though I hasten to add that I’m not qualified to talk about this time period, I’ll take some informed stabs at it. What about the political situation of 1,000 years ago? When most of Europe was effectively a theocracy, the distinction between a religious and political cause was practically non-existent. There was no real separation of Church and State. Just like with George W. Bush, a leader didn’t have to be told by God, they just needed the political reason to and then use God as a post-facto justification of it.

So, in conclusion of this rant-in-miniature, stop it. Just stop it. Please just fucking stop it already. Right? Please? Stop simplifying global socio-political turmoil into a case of who has the best God, because that’s not even wrong.