“Classical” Atheism vs. “Contemporary” Atheism

Once again, I find myself dealing with the tiresome issue of the competing definitions of Atheism. See my previous blog entries on this subject for references:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/make-up-your-minds-atheists/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/richard-dawkins-is-an-agnostic/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/is-agnostic-an-obsolete-term/

Now I learn that Aron-Ra, a fellow Texan and activist against promoting Creationist bigotry and lies in public schools, has not only accepted the “contemporary” definition of atheism, he asserts that the “classical” definition of it was a lie all along! Really??? Continue reading

Racism among Atheists too?

Jen McCreight, author of the blog Blag Hag, now finds herself having to confront the ugly issue of racism among her fellow atheists after she and other women dealt so much and for so long with sexism among them. I will provide links to her blog entries in question along with excerpts from them.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2013/08/on-silencing-anger-to-silence-minority-voices/

My favorite thing to wake up to in the morning is white straight cis men insisting they get to decide who your allies are and that you should not ever get angry, but rather calmly explain basic topics to hostile questions from every person that wanders across your path as if it were your personal duty on this earth. Continue reading

Style over Substance in the Presidential Debate

 

To be honest, I did not watch for very long the Presidential debate last night, because I was quite sure I would only hear what I’d already heard a great many times from reading Facebook posts and articles in news sources, hearing personal comments from friends and relatives and seeing political ads on TV. Five minutes of the debate was all I could stand, because Obama compared his economy policies to that of President Clinton before him, which I already knew about. Neither candidate impressed me much.

I was therefore surprised to learn afterwards that most people thought Romney won the debate because he was more aggressive and charismatic than Obama, never mind that before Obama became President he was known for being quite charismatic. So what happened?

I could not care less how slick a person’s presentation may look or sound if it is full of nonsense or lies. You win a debate, in my view, by doing two things: Telling the truth consistently, and having a position that treats fairly the most people possible. And by that criteria, Obama is the superior candidate. If people vote for Romney and not Obama because one of them is better at the gift of gab, why not just elect someone like Hitler, who was one of the most dynamic speakers of the 20th Century?

 

A question of incest

I just got a comment from someone named Sally. Rather than approve it where it was placed, I will copy and paste it here, along with the identifying information on it, and attempt to respond to its  points in red.

Sally
sallyfancy@hotmail.com
200.127.106.252

I have a question for you, please don’t consider that I’m attacking you.

Usually when someone opens with something like that, he is about to make a statement that really IS an attack. 

I like how you expose ignorants and bigots in this blog, but I fail to notice something important now you’re bringing up the subject of homophobia. As a bisexual woman myself in a same-sex long term relationship, I am definitely against homophobia, and as a liberal person I condemn any kind of discrimination. I’m also agnostic, so I don’t refrain from critizing religions. So far I guess we pretty much agree in our views, but I haven’t seen you (maybe you did and I’m not aware) critizing the criminalization of consensual incest between adults.

Of course, she would equate the prohibition of incest with the prohibition of homosexuality, since both were condemned in the Bible and in all Abrahamic religions. But just because the Bible condemns something doesn’t make that thing good for atheists to accept. Unless you think atheists should also accept stealing and murder.

Please note that I’m not talking about incestuous rape or incestuous abuse of minors, only consensual incest and between consenting adults. I’m sure you’re aware that consenting adults involved in consensual incestuous relationships are going to jail, punished by archaic laws because of a victimless crime like this.

I wonder if she saw my blog entries about prostitution. But even prostitution is not the same as incest, just as homosexuality is not the same as incest.

I’m not incestuous myself nor planning to ever be, but seeing how a good number of people is threatened with a long imprisonment (until 14 years in Canada, for example) only for loving a person of their family causes me too much indignation, even more noting that almost none of these self-avowed liberal activists seem to care or speak in their favour.

Loving a family member? Sorry, but in fact I do not equate “love” with having sex. If you do, I think you have some serious issues.

Please, if you really hate hypocrisy and bigotry this much, I encourage you to show support to consenting incestuous adults, they deserve to live and love in freedom.

Hypocrisy is when you profess a system of values that you fail to live up to in practice. Since I have never professed support for legalizing incest, I would not be a hypocrite. As for bigotry, that charge would make sense only if it could be proven that incest was something as fundamental to human nature as skin color. All the evidence indicates just the opposite. Unlike homosexuals, who are compelled by their nature to engage in sexual relations with members of their own gender, there is no evidence that people who practice incest are obeying some natural instinct. In most cases, there are plenty of other possible mates for the incestuous partners to avoid having sex with each other.

And I beg you not to perpetuate the offensive “deformed offspring” myth, deformed is NEVER an aceptable [sic] word to qualify a human being. 

Why not? It’s only descriptive of the person’s physical nature. It’s not a racial slur like the N-word is for black people of African descent.

Yes, disabled children may be born from incestuous couples, but most of consenting incestuous couples are NOT interested in having offspring and even if they can’t help loving a relative they’re consciously against inbreeding, besides sex is not longer only for procreation purposes (my partner and I are both women and still have sex, that’s pretty much self-explanatory), and contraceptives and sterilization exist for a good reason.

You earlier called the issue of “deformed offspring” a myth, then admitted it is not so. It seems interesting that you try to make incest more palatable by claiming that incestuous couples need not have children, but in fact there are cases of such couples who do, and often those children ARE deformed. Indeed, ONE such child resulting from such a union would be one too many!

Consensual incest between adults cause no harm to anybody, people shouldn’t be punished for loving or having sex with another consenting adult. Please, help us end the hatred and spread the tolerance, it’s very much appreciated.

Incest is harmful because it limits genetic diversity in the offspring that result from it, and thus it negates the most obvious evolutionary benefits of sexual reproduction, indeed making it pointless.  The accumulation of recessive genetic mutations results in a inbred line being weakened over time. Consider this sad case:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inbreeding#Royalty_and_nobility

  • One of the most famous example of a genetic disorder aggravated by royal family intermarriage was the House of Habsburg, which inmarried particularly often. Famous in this case is the Habsburger (Unter) Lippe (Habsburg jaw/Habsburg lip/”Austrian lip”) (mandibular prognathism), typical for many Habsburg relatives over a period of six centuries.[24] The condition progressed through the generations to the point that the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II of Spain, could not properly chew his food.[25]
  • Besides the jaw deformity, Charles II also had a huge number of other genetic physical, intellectual, sexual, and emotional problems. It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in the last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty.

And it’s not just humans that are affected badly by inbreeding. Animals like dogs in Japan have also suffered as well!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/business/28dogs.html?pagewanted=all

Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000. But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.

There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say.

Kiyomi Miyauchi was heartbroken to discover this after one of two Boston terriers she bought years ago suddenly collapsed last year into spasms on the living room floor and died. In March, one of its puppies died the same way; another went blind.

Ms. Miyauchi stumbled across a widespread problem here that is only starting to get attention. Rampant inbreeding has given Japanese dogs some of the highest rates of genetic defects in the world, sometimes four times higher than in the United States and Europe. 

<snip>

Hirofumi Sasaki, a pet store owner in the western city of Hiroshima, has seen so many defective dogs that last year he converted an old bar into a hospice to care for them. So far he has taken in 32 dogs, though only 12 have survived.

One is Keika, a deaf 1-year-old female dachshund with eyes that wander aimlessly. Her breeder was originally selling her for about $7,500 because she is half-white, a rare trait in dachshunds.

“That is an unnatural color, like a person with blue skin,” Mr. Sasaki said.

The breeder told Mr. Sasaki that he had bred a dog with three generations of offspring — in human terms, first with its daughter, then a granddaughter and then a great-granddaughter — until Keika was born. The other four puppies in the litter were so hideously deformed that they were killed right after birth. 

Therefore, my decision is that I will NOT support legalizing incest. I don’t want to see any more people like Charles II or those unfortunate puppies in the future.

The ultimate blow to global warming denialism

Denialists are not interested in truth or consistency of any kind. Instead, they have a dogma and an agenda and will take advantage of any arguments that serve these things, even if those arguments don’t really fit together. Nowhere does this become more obvious than in the issue of global warming.

John Cook, who runs the website Skeptical Science, has assembled a long list of contradictions made by global warming denialists. With this, he and other contributers totally wreck what little credibility these political and pseudoscientific hacks ever had!

http://www.skepticalscience.com/contradictions.php

 

Rebecca Watson vs Stef McGraw

The controversy over “Elevatorgate” just keeps getting more riotous. Now Rebecca Watson has gotten into a catfight with another “freethinking” blogger and student named Stef McGraw.

First, McGraw attacked Rebecca for her supposed hypocrisy:

http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-32.html

Someone who truly abides by feminist principles would, in my view, have to react in the same manner were the situation reversed; if a woman were to engage a man in the same way, she would probably be creeping him out and making him uncomfortable and unfairly sexualizing him, right? But of course no one ever makes that claim, which is why I see Watson’s comment as so hypocritical.

If you really want social equality for women, which is what feminism is, why not apply the same standards to men and women, and stop demonizing men for being sexual beings?

I found the ignorance of McGraw’s criticism appalling. Several years ago, I was at a gas station when I was approached by a woman I soon realized was a prostitute. She asked me if I wanted to go on “dates” with her and then asked for money. After figuring out that she was propositioning me for sex, I was so repulsed that I immediately went into station and told the employees about the woman, and the promised me that they would get rid of her, even as she was proceeding to hit on other men at the station!

Rebecca certainly did not say that men shouldn’t object to women hitting on men in an elevator at 4 AM, did she? No, and that made McGraw’s rebuke of her pointless, if not flat out stupid!

Rebecca then dealt with the attack by taking it right to McGraw’s own territory. No, not her blog, but at the CFI Student Leadership Conference, in Amherst, New York, on June 26, 2011.

That video is almost 50 minutes long. To focus on the part relevant to the dispute referred to here, look at this:

http://aratina.blogspot.com/2011/07/talk-by-watson-at-cfi.html

[12:04] There’s another comment I found on a blog from actually one of your own. And, I wanted to use it as an example, not to embarrass this person, but to point out that we have a serious problem when young women [quoted part of McGraw's blog post shows up under previous YouTube comment] are this ignorant about feminism. So let me read it to you. This is from the UNI Freethought blog. Stef McGraw, she posts a transcript of the story I just told you, the elevator story, and she writes:

[12:37] “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her. What’s wrong with that? How on Earth does that justify him as ‘creepy’? Are we not sexual beings? Let’s review. It’s not as if he touched her or made an unsolicited sexual comment. He merely asked if she’d like to come back to his room. She easily could have said–and I’m assuming did say, ‘No thanks. I’m tired and would like to go to my room to sleep.’”

[13:00] So, there are many things wrong with this paragraph; I won’t really go into them all. I’ll mention that asking someone back to your hotel room at four in the morning who you’ve never spoken to is the definition of ‘unsolicited sexual comment’. And in the transcript that Stef posted, she conveniently edited it to begin after I told everyone at the bar that I was exhausted and going back to my room–kind of an important point in which I state exactly what my desire is because later this man in the elevator specifically tried to talk me out of doing that. So I did actually make it quite clear that I was tired and going to my room to sleep.

[13:45] But the real problem is actually in the first sentence, and it’s sort of the same problem that the other commenter has [note that McGraw's quote is still shown below the YouTube comment ending with "Congratulations" on the screen]. “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her.” This is unfortunately a pretty standard parroting of misogynistic thought. And it’s not new; it’s something that feminists have been dealing with for ages. In fact, it’s Feminism 101. [Slide changes to a page taken from some website.] In fact, it’s covered on a blog called Feminism 101 [laughs] which you should definitely check out because it’s great. They go over a lot of concepts that may be new to many of you. But in this case, what we’re talking about is the difference between sexual interest/sexual attraction versus sexual objectification.

McGraw responded with this:

http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-33.html

Then, a day later at the conference, Watson delivered a keynote speech on the religious right’s war against women. Before she got to her main content, though, she decided to address sexism in the secular movement, which she views as a rampant problem. I shared her disgust as she showed screenshots of people online calling her demeaning names, making comments about her appearance, and, worst of all, making rape comments.

Then, switching gears, Watson made a remark to the extent that there are people in our own community who would not stand up for her in these sorts of situations; my name, organization, and a few sentences from my blog post then flashed on the screen before my eyes. She went on to explain how I didn’t understand what objectification meant and was espousing anti-woman sentiment.

My first reaction was complete shock. I wasn’t surprised that she had seen my post, but I didn’t think she would choose to address it during her keynote, let alone place it in a category with people advocating for her to be raped. In fact, I was excited to possibly speak with her afterward in order to discuss the matter face-to-face. Instead, all I could do was just sit there and watch myself being berated for supposedly espousing anti-woman views and told that I wouldn’t stand up for women in sticky situations with men, as one hundred of my peers watched on. I found both of those accusations to be completely and utterly incorrect, as anyone who actually knows me could tell you I care deeply about fighting sexist thought. I started thinking, how can I respond? It didn’t feel right to have to endure a widely respected keynote speaker’s accusations that I was a living example of what was wrong with our movement while I sat there unable to defend my position.

There was no time at the conference where I, as a student attendee, could appropriately make any sort of public statement addressing what Watson claimed about my argument and me. She has said over Twitter that “An attendee has every right to counter during Q&A or by publicly blogging again later,” but there are issues with both of these approaches. First, the Q&A was not an option in my mind, as I wasn’t going to get up after her great talk and argue with her about something unrelated; I have more respect for a speaker than that. And second, yes, I currently am blogging about the issue, but this won’t reach everyone who went to the conference; I write for a successful student blog, not one like Skepchick that a large percentage of the secular community reads.

The real issue, of course, was that Rebecca used McGraw’s own words against her, right in front of her no less, in such a way as to make her look clueless before her peers. That would never have happened if McGraw had not actually made a complete idiot of herself on her blog in the first place!

And for that, Rebecca has been called a bully, and her critics have said what she did was unprofessional and inappropriate. Oh, and Richard Dawkins’ sarcastic response to Rebecca several weeks ago wasn’t?!

So who’s the damned hypocrite now?

Why peace activists (and critics of religion) sometimes fail

I just read something interesting in this article:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4749/why_liberal_religious_arguments_fail/

I participated for a time in a Los Angeles-area peace and justice group, an interfaith group filled with good and righteous people. Following the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, it was decided that we should be reaching out to area congregations to ask if we could provide them with guest speakers who would then tell the members of those congregations just how wrong and pointless the war and occupation was. There were few takers. Meanwhile, but on a separate track, this same group was establishing relationships with returning soldiers and military family members who opposed the war. I suggested that we might ask congregations whether they would care to hear from a service member or a military family member, someone who would simply tell their story, rather than hear from one of the well-briefed peaceniks. My suggestion was rejected, as this would have deprived the peaceniks of a chance to sound off about how wrong (how very wrong) George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld had been in regard to principles of international law. I withdrew from the group shortly thereafter.

Continue reading

Keith Olbermann responds to a stupid “tweet”.

christine espinosa
aller3 christine espinosa
@KeithOlbermann Tell you idiot friend O’Donnell that we will fight socialism. Nothing in life is free. Social programs have failed dumb dumb
Keith Olbermann
KeithOlbermann Keith Olbermann
@aller3 Kindly send the government the tolls you didn’t pay on all free highways. Also all of your relatives’ social security, Medicare etc
Make of that what you will.

A denialist makes seductive, but hollow, claims

Check out this comment at the Intersection blog at the Discover Magazine website:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/08/18/will-you-shut-up-just-a-second-will-you-stop-shouting-hard-lessons-in-science-communication/#comment-67676

39.   Steve Says:
August 19th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

AGW proponents argue from a faith in models, implying that we can only postulate what will happen because a real experiment cannot be run. Sadly for AGW proponents, Earth has run the massive atmospheric CO2 experiment. Proxy data shows that atmospheric CO2 has been 10 – 20 times what it is today. The result? The planet survived. It even thrived. Was it warmer than today? For certain periods, yes, it was. But, for other periods, it was colder. These facts alone should be enough to educate an open mind that CO2 is NOT strongly correlated to temperature and catastrophic global warming is impossible.

Lest one think that the proxy data cannot be trusted, we have evidence within recent history of the same result. First, however, a primer. It is well known that temperature follows a logarithmic function in the presence of rising CO2 levels. That is, temperature rises more at a lower CO2 range increase (say, from 100ppm to 150ppm) than at a higher CO2 range increase (say, from 300ppm to 350ppm) . From roughly 1940 to present, CO2 has been increasing. If AGW theory is correct (i.e. CO2 is THE major variable controlling global temperature), then there should be a strong, logarithmic correlation between temperatures and rising CO2 levels after 1940. That is, a larger temperature increase between, say, 1940 – 1950 as opposed to 1990 – 2000. What we see, though, is that global temperature actually decreased slightly between roughly 1940 – 1970 (culminating in the ice age scare) before beginning a roughly 3 decade increase (culminating in the AGW scare). In addition, over half of the global temperature increase of the 20th century occurred BEFORE 1940, when CO2 levels were fairly constant. An open mind that follows data to arrive at a conclusion would rightly conclude that CO2 is NOT a major variable in global temperature.

Frankly, I don’t care if any kind of cap-and-trade system passes. Energy use will not dissipate. And since fossil fuel holds the most energy density, it will be used. Cap-and-trade will simply increase the cost of everything. People will either: 1) demand more money for their labor in order to maintain their standard of living or 2) get poorer. In the period of economic instability, several individuals and companies will get VERY rich.

By 2100, CO2 will have increased even more. If the trend of the past 200 years continues, global temperatures will increase steadily with 20 -40 year modulations that follow the warm and cold phases of the oceans. Our understanding of bioshpere mechanics will have increased immensely and enough data will have been gathered to know that CO2 is not the boogeyman that grant-seeking “scientists” thought it was. If fossil fuel usage is not declining, it will be much more costly (even in inflation-adjusted terms). If we are smart, nuclear energy will be much more abundant. If we are even smarter, we will have found a way to reprocess the waste for re-use. Energy storage technology will have increased to the point that wind and solar energy can provide a steady stream of power around the clock. They will, however, still be a niche technologies.

Our great-grandchildren will look back on this time and wonder what the f*#k we were thinking and curse us for putting politics ahead of common sense and sound science.

First, the models Steve refers to are based on the physical and chemical laws that govern all of matter. If you wish to debunk those models, you must show either that the models are incomplete or that the laws are incorrect. He has not.

Second, Steve does not specify when the CO2 levels were 10 or 20 times higher than today. Indeed, we can be certain that the Earth’s atmosphere was full of CO2 about four billion years ago, just as Venus’ atmosphere is today. The critical difference between the two planets is that Venus is closer to the Sun, and it has no oceans like Earth does to absorb some of the CO2 and lock it away. It also does not have life, including plants to absorb even more CO2. The reason the Sun did not burn us up hundreds of millions of years ago when the CO2 levels were much higher than today was because the Sun was also much less luminous, as you would expect with a star that had less helium and more hydrogen in its core (Helium is at least four times denser than hydrogen and helium is also what hydrogen fuses into to produce its sunlight. Denser concentrations of gas in the cores of stars will indeed be hotter. Strange that Steve overlooked that). And at most geologic periods,  Earth WAS warmer than today and the sea levels were much higher. But that was not a problem because our civilization did not exist. The concern today is that our civilization is so highly adapted to the specific global climate of the late 20th Century that ANY significant deviation from that will do great damage to that civilization.

Third, Steve ignores that fossil fuels are nonrenewable and when they begin to grow scarce, the price of them will skyrocket anyway. Indeed, the best way to lower the price of fossil fuels at present is to REDUCE DEMAND FOR THEM!  Which is a compelling reason to switch to renewable sources; the only reason we haven’t yet is because the fossil fuel companies have rigged our so-called “free market” economy to support their perpetual dominance. That has to be stopped, or we will end up with fossil fuel companies only getting richer and richer at the expense (literally) of the rest of us, global warming or no global warming. That’s why we need governments to step in and use some kind of force to stop them.

Fourth, CO2 is not THE only factor in climate change. The drop in global temperatures between 1940 and 1970 could have been a temporary halt in global warming, not a sign of cooling, due to factors such as the advent of nuclear energy which largely replaced fossil fuels for a time before accidents like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl lessened public support for the use of nuclear fuels, making fossil fuels more popular once again. And since we have had reliable CO2 measurements only since the 1950s, we cannot say for certain what global CO2 levels were prior to that decade. So his claim that “over half of the global temperature increase of the 20th century occurred BEFORE 1940, when CO2 levels were fairly constant,” is unfounded.

Steve is not open-minded at all. He is an idiot who beleives the denialist claims without testing them, as I have.

The Two Central Dogmas of the Climate Change Debate

The two sides of the climate change or global warming debate are:

  1. Man-made Global warming theory (MMGWT) Proponents (MPs)
  2. MMGWT Denialists (MDs)

Each side is backed up by a “central dogma”. The central dogma is a claim that if debunked discredits the entire movement.

The central dogma of MPs is “that there are greenhouse gases that act to retain heat, which in turn can change climate over time”.

The central dogma of MDs is “that man cannot change climate, no matter what he does”.

Ironically, the MPs’ “central dogma” is NOT a dogma at all, since it can be tested via experiment on actual samples of gases said to be “greenhouse”, which can be peer reviewed and is reproducible by others.

By contrast, the MDs’ central dogma really is a dogma, since there is no way to debunk it. No matter what records you present to show an increase of greenhouse gases like CO2 since the 1950s, no matter what temperature records over the past century or so you present, no matter what records of solar activity you present, MDs will always come up with excuses for rejecting the case of the MPs, including arguing that the records must have been faked. So the position of the MDs is unscientific because it is non-falsifiable.

Well, you cannot fake experimental data. If the “central dogma” of the MPs were indeed false, it would have been debunked many decades ago. Instead, it is so well supported that this “central dogma” is considered as much a fact as anything else in science could be.

So MDs avoid the MPs’ “central dogma” and instead constantly argue around it. They confuse uncertainty about global warming models and projections with reasons to deny them completely. They also note the many natural causes of climate change as if that alone supports their central dogma. Both of these are logical fallacies called  non-sequiturs. They harp about the few remaining scientists who are MDs as if their credentials alone make them credible. But they don’t, because even scientists with PhDs and tenures at universities can be profoundly wrong, especially if they have ideological or financial reasons to corrupt their science.

MPs do not have to attack the central dogma of MDs because, as I showed above, it is unscientific. They just have to point out that it really is a dogma, nothing more.

VenomFangX, the biggest liar on YouTube!

VenomFangX, aka Shawn, is a teenager (or at least appears to be one) and self-styled Christian evangelist who has made a total @$$ of himself on YouTube for at least a couple of years. He has gained quite a following among his fellow Christians there, as well as redicule and scorn from skeptics who have had the misfortune of dealing with him. And in a battle with one user in particular named ThunderfOOt, he got totally clobbered for engaging in violations of the YouTube terms of service and for legal reasons was forced to admit his wrongdoings on a video for all to see.

 

Now, if this “Christian” had any sense of honor or humility whatsoever, you would expect him to never bother with Thunderf00t again. But instead, he has just pulled this stunt:

Shawn, Shawn, SHAWN! Ray Comfort is no match for Thunderfoot, and that’s obvious. For you to call Thunderfoot wrong when YOU are the one who engaged in dishonorable behavior against him is totally bogus!

You are a FRAUD and so is your religion, period! If you cannot learn from your mistakes and just GROW UP and live like a man and not like a little boy, you can GO FUCK YOURSELF!

In the description of his video, VenomFangX says:

“Thunderf00t displayed all the weaknesses in the naturalistic philosophy. It robs people of a basic appreciation and value of human life over that of animals, and ultimately all life is seen as nothing more than complex machinery with our consciousness being little else than a spark of electricity. When morality and ethics are brought up, it is impossible for Thunderf00t to articulate a coherent answer, after all, speaking of right and wrong according to an electrical current is pretty silly, don’t you think, Thunderf00t?”

No, what is silly is you engaging in such a lame strawman. The notion that life is merely glorified chemistry is exactly what modern science has revealed over the past few centuries, and if you are too much of a coward to deal honesty with that, that’s your problem. It need not be anyone else’s.

Who are you to assume that because we are an assembly of extremely complex molecules, we have been robbed of anything? That is entirely an unfounded assumption on your part. If you need your delusional religion to feel that you have some dignity in your life, then YOU are the one that is robbed……of rational thinking! People are valuable because we as a species are unique, just as every species is unique and adapted to their environments and lifestyles. You don’t need religion at all to live in harmony with your fellow men or with other species. You just don’t! And how can you imply that putting man on the same level of value with animals somehow makes man worthless? Do you need us all to be as arrogant as you to feel better about yourself? What a terrible weakness!

No wonder your religion is dying, hypocrite!

UPDATE (Jan 7, 2010): After another round of dishonorable behavior, VenomfangX has been called out by another YouTube user, dprjones:

Think he will listen this time? I think not.

The Great Depression debate

This is my third blog entry in a row about economics.

If you have never lived through the Great Depression, it’s possible that you either don’t know what you are talking about, or are lying outright to promote some form of ideological extremism.

First look at this:

This is a video by Shane Killian, a Libertarian activist. While I admire the man for his work on defending evolution and attacking pseudoscience, he seems to be out of his league when it comes to economics, as the next video clearly shows:

Killian then proceeds to rewrite history regarding the Great Depression:

What bull$#it! Quite simply, if the New Deal was such a failure, then why did FDR not become a one term President?. Why, indeed, was he elected no less than FOUR TIMES!?

Because the Great Depression was the worst economic crisis ever in American history, it may be considered uncharted territory. Our government had to experiment to find a solution. Some things attempted during the Great Depression worked better than others, but it was hardly true that the New Deal was a total failure and that World War II finally got us out of the Depression! Indeed, if our economy had not recovered to a reasonable degree by 1941, we would never have been able to wage World War II so well! The right-wing extremists got the issue EXACTLY backwards! War is more likely to destroy a struggling economy than to strengthen it!

So why did Killain make the claims he did? Two reasons.

  1. He is a Libertarian. While the ideals of free market economics promoted by that party are indeed admirable, they are also purely a theroetical concept. In the real world, a completely free market CANNOT EXIST FOREVER! If you allow a capitalist economy to run on its own without any government intervention, we will only fall into a depression eventually and stay there PERMENANTLY! Killian’s faith in the “free market” is no better than religious fanaticism.
  2. He is brilliant on some subjects, therefore he assumes that he must be right on ALL subjects. But that is simply not true of anyone. No one knows or understands everything equally well. Myself included.

Battle on YouTube between two atheists

The opponents in this confrontation were gogreen18 (Laci) and The AmazingAtheist (TJ). Watch these videos and decide for yourself who was right.

These are Laci’s two YouTube channels:

http://www.youtube.com/user/gogreen18

http://www.youtube.com/lacigreen

This is TJ’s channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAmazingAtheist

In my opinion, Laci was expressing her honest revulsion at the sexist comments TJ made and it’s clear that as a young woman, she takes it very much to heart any attacks made against women which refer to their body parts. Why should anyone in a debate do that, no matter how offensive the woman’s opinions may be? I might call a woman like Ann Coulter a bitch, but I wouldn’t make specific reference to her breasts or suggest that she should only go shopping. But the fact that Laci used foul language to get her point across as much as TJ did weakens her case against him. Finally, anyone who refers to himself as an “Amazing Atheist” and is not James Randi needs to have his ego smashed. I was repulsed by this guy’s attitude as soon as I started watching his videos. An intellecual, this bozo is NOT!

Seeking balance in politics and activism

For starters, I wish to state that in an issue like politics, extremism among some individuals is inevitable. There are two reasons for this. First, many people mistakenly apply religious impulses to politics and thus attempt to be consistent with a certain political viewpoint, even at the expense of ignoring or denying clear empirical evidence that is against it. Quite simply, it is easier (if you are intellectually lazy) to just blindly follow a dogma of some kind that happens to appeal to your ego than to dig for the truth, apply consistent logic to all issues, and thus have a perspective that is subject to change and moderation over time. Second, extremists on any issue tend to work the hardest for their chosen causes and thus tend to rise to leadership positions within political organizations as well as single-issue pressure groups, by virtue of their extensive track record of having done so much for their causes as well as appearing to be experts on the issues they represent. This explains why so many otherwise worthy causes, such as animal rights, get so absurdly corrupted by groups that claim to represent them, such as PETA or ALF, and people who might be motivated by natural compassion to support animal rights are repelled by seeing extremist groups like the aforementioned ones claiming to be the best examples of those causes’ representatives. Let me assure you, they are not and I would be quite happy to see them destroyed without thinking for one second that this would be damaging at all to the cause of animal rights. If you, by your words or actions, make a cause look loony, that’s the best way to ruin it, and you might as well just oppose the cause altogether.

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My recent statement about Israel-bashing

I wrote this during a discussion about a friend of mine:

“I try to make subtle distinctions to be as accurate as possible. I’ve noticed that when I do this, people who think in the opposite way slam me for being inconsistent. Take Israel, for example. Israel-bashers take the real examples of Israel’s dismal treatment of the Palestinians and translate that into outright labling of the Israeli state itself as criminal. When you do that, you are expressing prejudice. So even if the human rights violations by Israel ended, the Israel-bashers would still demand that the Jewish state should not exist because the act of establishing it displaced some Palestinians.

What they don’t tell you is that if Israel had never come into existence, the Jews still living in Palestine would be under ARAB rule and would be subject to whatever treatment the Arab rulers felt like doing. Given that most Arab states even today are either absolute monarchies or military dictatorships, how can efforts to establish a democracy for Jews like what was done in 1948 not be justified?

So I will slam Israel for specific acts that are excessive, but defend its right to exist and protect its citizens within lawful limits.”

And that’s the only decent way to operate. Anyone who takes a different route is a hypocrite, looking for excuses to have a second Holocaust in the Holy Land.

Why debates are often unethical in nature

Today, I saw this statement in Care2:

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=7939&pst=1030979

there are some discussions pre-loaded with so much faulty premises and inaccuracies and false assumptions, that you just don’t know where to begin. these are the ones that i find are normally too exhausting to get involved in, and the chances of anything constructive coming out of it is extremely small, given that the biased starting premise indicates little to no desire to entertain understanding rather than confrontation. one cannot have a fruitful discussion about another worldview by being firmly anchored in another. so people who do that can’t provide any kind of useful exchange. take it from someone who actually knows at least two worldviews, and can see the one from the other interchangeably.

i’ve always disliked debates in school, you know. even though my teachers are forever nominating me on debate teams. the silliness of picking whatever side of whatever topic with the pre-intention of ensuring your side prevails whatever the truth is, is too philosophically pointless for me to overlook.

It’s not only “philosophically pointless”, it’s downright dishonest, yet most people debate in just that way.

Usually, I don’t. When I debate, I am open to being proven wrong because I ALWAYS rely on FACTS for my positions, not dogma.

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2007/07/21/an-honorable-skeptic/

(((Because I am honorable, I sometimes willingly concede points made by my opponents in debates with them. This should never be seen as a sign of weakness. When I know I am right about something, I will fight like a pit bull to prove my case and defeat my opponent because in some cases I do see my battles here as a struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, ignorance and knowledge. But I am also willing at times to listen to my opponent and consider his point of view, especially if that person is known by me to be honorable. If we do not listen to others, how can we ever grow in knowledge?)))

The “EXPELLED” of Global Warming Denialism

Last year, a documentary was made titled, “The Great Global Warming Swindle” which seemed to be a direct rebuttal to Al Gore’s film “An Inconvinient Truth”. I have just seen that documenary and quite simply, it is a load of CRAP!
There are several things blatantly wrong with it.

  1. The film asserts, without any actual evidence, that the Medieval Warm Period was indeed warmer than today. For the explanation of that assumption and its refutation, go here:  http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/debunking-the-mwp-myth/
  2. The film nowhere mentions the planet Venus, yet it is there that the power of the greenhouse effect, which the film seems to deny, becomes most obvious. Venus, on both its day and night sides, is far hotter than the day side of Mercury, which is much closer to the Sun! Although the clouds of Venus shield the planet’s surface from most of the sunlight, the atmosphere, which is mostly carbon dioxide (CO2), traps the little heat that gets through.
  3. The film indicates that there was one obscure scientist that claimed that the greenhouse gases could cause global warming in the 1970s and that he was ridiculed by most scientists at the time. This is simply a lie! In fact, the relationship between carbon dioxide and global temperatures was understood by most scientists since the 1900s.  The scientist who discovered it was world famous, even winning the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  His name was Svante Arrhenius. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrhenius#Greenhouse_effect_as_cause_for_ice_ages   http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=5971  http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1903/arrhenius-lecture.html http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Arrhenius_pdf
  4. The film claims that “all the climate change models” predicted that the temperatures of the lower atmosphere would be less than the upper atmosphere and that the discovery that this was not the case falsified the models. But this is flatly contradicted by a statement in Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth”. He said, “Global warming heats the lower atmosphere but actually cools the stratosphere…”  This makes sense when you realize that CO2 is heavier than the nitrogen and oxygen that make up most of the Earth’s atmosphere, and therefore would tend to be lower in the atmosphere. An increase in the proportion of CO2 would only be felt closer to the ground, not farther from it.
  5. The film claims that water vapor is a far more important greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But that is not true, because water vapor forms clouds that actually block sunlight and thus act to cool the Earth, providing a counter to the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. By contrast, CO2 never forms clouds and thus can ONLY be a greenhouse gas.
  6. The film claims that the global warming movement was started by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a way of promoting nuclear power at the expense of fossil fuels. This is nonsense, because while nuclear power may not release greenhouse gases, it causes other types of pollution and has its own grave risks, plus like fossil fuels it is nonrenewable.
  7. The film claims that efforts to wean poor countries in Africa off fossil fuels and onto solar energy is harmful to their well-being. Never mind the fact that depending on fossil fuels would require an unlimited number of monthly payments to the big energy companies. But using solar panels, however expensive they may be at first, would only require a one-time payment. Plus, efforts to mass produce solar panels would eventually drive their costs down, if only the big energy companies would permit it. And there is an entire vast region, the Sahara Desert, where millions of solar panels could be built and maintained to supply most of Africa with energy.

Need I go on?

We don’t know enough?

I can’t stand anyone who employs a double standard to attack and deny an idea he hates. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the debate over global warming.

One of the arguments used by denialists on the issue is, “We don’t know enough about this issue to make changes to our economies that will affect the lives of millions.” There are two problems with that claim. First, the emissions of greenhouse gases we made in the past were done in total ignorance of how they would affect the global climate. Only in the past few decades have we gained enough knowledge to understand how the various factors work together over time to change the climate. Second, the denialists NEVER define when we WOULD have enough knowledge to conclude that man’s pollution must be curbed to stop global warming. Since they haven’t done this, how can their claim that we don’t know enough be justified?

Another claim made by the denialists is that “The movement to stop global warming is a scam to destroy capitalism.” Well, how can anyone know that, since there is no proof that anyone can read the minds of Al Gore and others on his side of the debate? Nor has there been any documentation produced to prove that claim.

Seriously, how can one claim that we don’t know enough about the science of climate change to conclude that humans are the main cause of the problem, yet at the same time claim dogmatically that the efforts to combat global warming are a scam? There is one word to describe such an attitude: HYPOCRISY!

A Real Skeptic vs. a Denialist

A skeptic is defined as someone who reserves judgement on an issue until enough evidence is found to support a claim beyond a reasonable doubt and also clearly defines what would make him disbelieve a claim. This is scientific thinking.

By contrast, a denialist has no such defined limits, either of belief or disbelief. The denialist starts from a position of dogma, asserting opposition to an idea by presenting a contrary idea as absolute truth and interpreting all evidence according to that unalterable dogma, rather than draw conclusions based only on the evidence. This is the opposite of scientific thinking, although denialists often use scientific terminology to make their positions seem legitimate to fool the ignorant.

Denialism vs geuine skepticism is found in debates over evolution vs. Creationism, global warming, religion, and politics. If there were no denialists, most of those debates would have either ended long ago, or would be a lot more cordial than they tend to be.

A useless debate

The crazy thing about debating with Creationist hypocrites is that they have ZERO facts that actually support their case, but plenty of rhetorical tricks. I was reminded of that by a “Sirius Knott” who plastered some lame comments on one of my blogs. Here’s the confrontation between him (SK) and me (DH), for those who care to follow it:

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The Blunder from Down Under

An Australian member of Care2 known as Freediver has been a pain in my @$$ for nearly 2 1/2 years. He is mentioned in this earlier blog of mine:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2007/07/21/three-opponents-three-different-results/

Among other disgraces, he opposes the teaching of evolution as science in high schools, favors the harvesting of wild animals as an alternative to eating meat from factory farmed livestock, and even champions whaling, which is totally unnecessary since all the things that whales provide can come from other sources, whether natural or artificial. His arrogant manner of expression is highly offensive to many other Care2 members, who see him as a useless buffoon. But he somehow is possessed by delusions of grandure typical of sociopaths.

http://www.youmeworks.com/sociopaths.html

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