Religious fundamentalism is blasphemy!

2000 years ago, Jesus warned his early followers: “Not everyone who calls to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do my Father’s will may enter. On the Judgement Day many will say to me, ‘Lord, didn’t we prophesy, cast out demons, and do many miracles in your name?’ But I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you that do evil!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

I would suggest that the thing which will condemn someone to hell, even though they profess to believe in Jesus, will be the person’s placing the Bible above God Himself. Fundamentalists have claimed for over a century that the Bible is the Word of God and is therefore infallible. This claim has no support whatsoever. Attempts to support it by references to the Bible are circular reasoning. Only God Himself should ever be seen as infallible, and since we have no direct contact with Him, we have nothing that may be considered infallible. The Bible, the Quran, and other religious books may be inspired by faith in God, but they are still human products, and are thus prone to error like all other human products. The Quran itself condemns the tendency of man to make partners with Allah, so should it be acceptable for any Muslim to make the Quran a partner with Allah?

In this physical world, there is NOTHING and NO ONE that may rightfully be called infallible!

Evolution 101

Evolution is the scientific theory that is intended to explain the diversity of life on Earth. The most basic definition of it is “cumulative change through time”. In biology, it says that populations of organisms are subject to change as a result of environmental factors acting on them and causing them to adapt to specific environmental changes.

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Assuming the worst of others

In June of 2007, I learned that a Care2 member had died violently. I was shocked at this news, and wondered if the member’s Care2 profile was to be removed as a result of his death. I asked a question to that effect in Care2 Feedback and Suggestions, and then another member sent me a message calling me a “heartless SOB”. I was amazed at this vulgar language, and sent a reply back to this member stating that “your sarcasm is not appropriate at this time.” I NEVER would have called for the dead member’s profile to be removed, and was disturbed that anyone would even think that of me.

It seems to me that if people already hate me, then anything I might do, however innocent, will be twisted by the haters in the worst possible way simply for the sake of bashing me, and that any attempt I make to defend myself against the haters causes them and those who wrongfully sympathize with the haters to attack me more! To me, this sort of attitude is the same as racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, or any other form of bigotry. It is unethical and should be tempered by reason and tolerance. I’ve just about had it with trying to figure people out and why they make other people targets. If I had defamed the dead person in some way, I’d understand the slamming I got over him. But I firmly beleive that I was lied about by another member and I have no tolerance for that. And my proving that I was lied about should have given the supporters of that other person pause about the position they took, but instead they attacked me again for DEFENDING MYSELF! What they are really saying, in essence, is “Hey, Dale, do the rest of us a favor, and SHUT UP even if we slander you all over the place!” You might as well murder me, then. I don’t lie about anyone, period, and no one can prove otherwise!

Three opponents, three different results

A few months ago, I started a discussion in a Care2 group on the need to use scientific methods to test ethical standards. Before you begin reading that, look at this:

Now we will proceed with the discussion itself:

I had to deal with three different opponents in this discussion, as well as several others who did not oppose me outright but merely asked questions or made helpful comments. The first opponent was CheWorks L, who is also known as Ted K. His comments were as follows:

CheWorks: “how can we base ethics on what may be a myth?  religion has no place in ethics.”

I saw this and went “HUH???” until I remembered that CheWorks was a Communist, who thus regards all religion as serving the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes and thus unethical. Of course, people like Dr Martin Luther King and Mohandas Ghandi might strongly disagree with that simplistic view. I’m always amazed that Communists regard all religion as irrational, yet they themselves are so dogmatic about what Karl Marx wrote.

Dale Husband:  “Religion was the ONLY basis for ethics in most ancient societies because there was no conception of science or scientific methods in them back then. So religion served a good purpose then. My argument is that we need to go beyond that now.”

CherWorks: “Maybe you are mixing up religion with spirituality, Dale. Science proves there are ethical standards such as recycling.  Would God tell us to recycle?  No.  But nature, a spiritualist, would tell us that we need to respect the environment. Nowhere more than in the Judeo-Christian tradition do I see a pathetic God trying to gain respect.  This has nothing to do with ethics. Nopwadays religion supports wealth at any cost, which menas enslaving 99% of the human population.  This is hardly ethical.” (sic)

Later, CheWorks said: “You seem to be everywhere at the same time and rather confusing. Science cannot dictate ethics, but it can demonstrate that some ethical acts are good for the public.  For example, free health care provides for a healthy population.  I’m not sure if you’re in agreement.”

Dale Husband: “I’m certainly not asking that anyone dictate ethics dogmatically. That’s what religions do.  Scientists should not. What I’m calling for is that any ethical ideas be tested scientifically before they be proclaimed to be valid by anyone. Only fear of their values being discredited would motivate, for example, laws against gay marriage by people who insist that homosexuality is immoral without actually dealing with homosexuals as people. If empirical analysis proves that tolerance of homosexuality leads to social disruption, then the anti-gay bigots would have a case. [And] ethical standards of some kind, such as honesty or open-mindedness, are essential for scientists to do their work. That’s why I trust the findings of the scientific commmunity above any religious dogma, because they tend to go where the evidence leads them and are not afraid to challenge conventional ideas, even among themselves. That’s the opposite of what religious communities are known for. Hope that clears things up!”

CheWorks: “We seem to be on a similar page. Can you please explain how science can help homophobes? Is it by showing that they are of the same chromosomes as heterosexuals?”

Interesting that he accepts my premise as valid and moves the discussion forward by bringing in an issue for which it would be a good demonstration of the truth of my idea.

Dale Husband: “Science is still investigating the causes of homosexuality, but if a physical cause was indeed found, it would blow away forever the notion that gays follow a lifestyle that is their free choice, and then there would be no legal basis for them to be punished for expressing their true nature. Homosexuality could no longer rightfully be called a “sin”. But since so many people do not accept evolution as true for religious reasons, they won’t accept those findings either.”

I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned evolution, because I also had to deal with an anti-evolutionist named Freediver who has been a routine thorn in my side for over two years.

Freediver: “Science has no contribution to make to ethics. Those scientists who belive it does just have delusions of grandeur. Stephen Jay Gould agrees with me on this.”

Right from that opening statement, Freediver had already lost the debate. Quite simply, it is a fallacy to make personal attacks against either your opponent or anyone else instead of really dealing with the issues. And appealing to a supposed authority figure like Dr. Gould is another common fallacy. Plus, didn’t Freediver know that Gould is already DEAD?! Finally, for Freediver to state that Gould agrees with HIM about anything seems to stem from an attitude of extreme egotism. I considered ignoring the idiot, but I decided to engage him for a while instead to give him more rope to hang himself with. And as it turned out, I was not disappointed.

Freediver: “Now you definitely don’t know what you are talking about.” “…appeals to reason tend not to work with Dale, who constantly insists that I provide examples of other people who agree with me, rather than focussing on the merits of the argument. It is kind of ironic (or is that hypocritical?) that he would commit this fallacy repeatedly, in it’s truest form, despite me continuously pointing out his error, then pull me up the first time I come close to using it. It shows that he recognises the error, just not when he commits it.”

Freediver was lying here. What I have demanded he do is support his claims about evolution not being a scientific theory by showing websites or other references that indicate that most scientists agree with him about how he defines science, to prove he didn’t make his definition all up on his own. He never did, except for a website he created to showcase his own writings on evolution and other subjects. He knows quite well that most of the references he’d have to make otherwise would be Creationist websites. Most scientists do not follow his narrow standard of what science is, of course.

Dale Husband: “Is it possible that you are motivated, in your opposition to me on both evolution and ethical issues, by your extreme religious bias? In any case, I’m not going to waste any more time attempting to explain what should have been obvious. If you choose not to accept it, that’s your business.”   “You don’t appeal to reason, really. You appeal only to the prejudices you happen to have and hope that some people in your audience happen to share. In many cases, you fail to make an impression precisely because most people see right through your empty claims for what they really are. I don’t believe you are really stupid, but you seem to think most of us are if you keep putting out arguments like you’ve been doing all these years and expect them to be taken seriously. You overestimate your own powers of reason by blindly assuming whatever you say must be right. You never learn anything from others with that attitude.”

There followed a long period in which Freediver threw out one argument after another in a desperate effort to save his position. Clearly he was growing frustrated.

Freediver: “I use very simple arguments for you because you can’t follow logic.”

Yep, another personal attack.

Dale Husband: “By the way, Freediver, your constant attitude of absolutist dogmatism is the exact opposite of scientific thinking, a contradiction I’ve always noticed.”

Finally, my third opponent arrived. This one was known as Shadow Bear or Silly Old Bear. Unlike the first two, this one was a friend of mine.   He is also Jewish.

Silly Old Bear:This has me a little concerned – because this reduces a person down to what he or she can produce in terms of what is beneficial to Society. It opens a whole lot of cans, I’d rather see kept closed.  It raises the question “Who is to decide what is beneficial to Society?” That has been tried – it didn’t work from a Humane point of view – both the Nazis and the Fascists used this “touch stone” in their politics, and it destroyed a lot of knowledge, experience and human history.  The idea that what is good for Society is what a human is worth only works if Society’s basic ethical and moral standards are such that they take into account that we do not always know what is good for Society.  What then should be the scientific test to determine this? How do you scientifically measure that which cannot be measured?”

Dale Husband:As I see it, the Nazis and fascists made a point of judging other races of people as inferior without any empirical justification. That was the opposite of scientific thinking and led to their downfall when they were proven wrong. It is true that we do not know the potential value of people and it cannot be measured empirically. But if we do not come up with an empirical reason to prohibit murder, what can we say to a person who rejects all religion and wants a reason to justify whatever he wishes to do, including murder? And keep in mind that many senseless killings have been done in the name of religion. There is the potential for corruption in all things, which is why free inquiry is so important. If we cannot question authority, it can destroy us.”

Silly Old Bear: That is not quite true – both the Fascists and the Nazis based their ideas about races of people, disabled – both mental and physical , homosexuals, political and religious beliefs on what they considered to be empirical evidence – such as homosexuals not being likely to reproduce, Jews being a genetic contamination, mental and physically disabled not being productive etc. All based on the science they had access to. Those empirical evidence might not be satisfactory to you and me, but that is only because you and I are measuring the evidence using another scale – based in what we consider ethical. Not because of the science as such.”  “Religion is not necessary for making sound ethical decisions or f.i not to murder. I have not always been a religious man – still I have always held the opinion that all people are equal with equal rights to life. This can be arrived at by simple logical deduction. Atheists and Secular Humanists are not unethical, murderous or amoral. It doesn’t exclude that there certainly do exist such atheists or secular humanists, just as there are unethical, murderous or amoral religious people.  Let’s not make Science another religion, Dale – it is quite defendable without needing all the trimmings of religion. Simple logic is enough.”   “Scientifically it cannot be proven that Homosexuality is not a choice, so if all I had to go on was science I might be inclined to agree with the fundamentalists that homosexuality is indeed a sin according to Torah. There would be nothing to tell me otherwise. But because I do indeed choose what dogmas to incorporate in my ethics I have gone out of my way to find other ways to view homosexuality and Torah, so that the two do not contradict each other. Where there are no scientific data, we still have to make a choice as to how to act ethically.”

Because Silly Old Bear didn’t use personal attacks or other stupid fallacies like Freediver had, I was able to end the debate on a civil note with him.

Misusing the term “intellectual”???

Today I was accused by an enemy of mine of misusing the term “intellectual” by applying it to myself. That would only be valid if in fact someone could prove that I was not intellectual. First we need definitions of “intellectual”:

  • appealing to or using the intellect; “satire is an intellectual weapon”; “intellectual workers engaged in creative literary or artistic or scientific labor”; “has tremendous intellectual sympathy for oppressed people”; “coldly intellectual”; “sort of the intellectual type”; “intellectual literature”
  • of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind; “intellectual problems”; “the triumph of the rational over the animal side of man”
  • cerebral: involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct; “a cerebral approach to the problem”; “cerebral drama”
  • a person who uses the mind creatively

    An intellectual is one who tries to use his or her intellect to work, study, reflect, speculate on, or ask and answer questions with regard to a variety of different ideas.

    There are, broadly, three modern definitions at work in discussions about intellectuals. First, ‘intellectuals’ as those deeply involved in ideas, books, the life of the mind. Second, ‘intellectuals’ as a recognizable occupational class consisting of lecturers, professors, lawyers, doctors, scientist, engineers, etc. Third, cultural “intellectuals” are those of notable expertise in culture and the arts, expertise which allows them some cultural authority, and who then use that authority to speak in public on other matters.

    Some people, including the one who attacked me today, seem to think that intellecuals must express no emotions, like the Vulcans of Star Trek. That strikes me as unrealistic, since all humans do have emotions. It is the combination of intellect and emotions in people that make their characters what they are. To call myself intellectual is hardly unethical, if one can read my writings and see for themselves what I am capable of.

    Dogmatic “deniers”

    The problem with many people (deniers) who have arguments on any issue is that they are not looking for facts to establish their own viewpoints. This becomes obvious when they, not content to say, “I strongly disagree with [idea] and believe [counter-idea],” but bluntly say, “[counter-idea]” and then proceed with that premise regardless of what anyone else says. Once that happens, those who reject the counter-idea find themselves becoming dogmatic in return to avoid appearing weak, thus degrading the general content of the discussion. The deniers rely on ingrained prejudices they know exist in many other people in order to build a following.

    The opposition to evolution is entirely based on religious prejudices supported by semantic ploys, and nothing else. A lot of the “evidences” used to attack evolution are things that are exceptional in nature and when the Creationists see them, they say, “We do not know how these things could have happen, so we may safely assume that God did it.” That attitude totally denies scientific thinking. Evolution is scientific precisely because it is consistent with physical and chemical laws that were previously established via the scientific method. That Creationists do not note this obvious fact discredits them from the start.

    As for the global warming issue, people have a natural tendency to deny facts that make them uncomfortable, because they know that then they will have to make great sacrifices to undo the damage that is being done and prevent more damage. The corporations and the politicians who support them play on this laziness to give excuses for not doing anything to change things. For example, the statement that increased solar output is a factor behind global warming only adds to the urgency that we keep the emissions of greenhouse gases at a low levels in the future; it does not negate our responsiblity to deal with the problem. That a few areas in the world are colder than normal is a result of warmer atmospheric conditions causing greater evaporation of water, resulting in greater cloud coverage and precipitation in areas that are prone to them, and of course this causes temperatures in those areas to fall. But the deniers forget one thing: The DESERT regions, which make nearly a third of the land area of Earth, are NOT affected by this trend and the temperatures there will remain high, resulting in great instabilities in the atmosphere, producing a greater frequency of storms.
    Natural reality is complex, and science is supposed to measure that reality in all its forms. Those who attempt to reduce it to a simple formula via “logical” arguments are in fact the worst enemies of science.

    Global warming deniers’ claims about a conspiracy driving the concern about global warming are a classic attempt to “turn reality upside down”. In fact, the real conspiracy is between the rich executives of the fossil fuel corporations and the conservative politicians whose servicies are paid for by the executives. Some scientists also side with the deniers, but that only indicates the extent of corruption that may exist in any profession, as well as the tendency of even people who should know better to decieve themselves.

    The “chain of reason” in the global warming issue

    There are four links in that chain, and all must be solid for the man-made global warming issue to be valid. Nothing else matters.

    1. Has CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere been increasing over the past century? Scientific reports indicate that is the case.
    2. Is CO2 a gas that causes heat to be retained in an atmosphere, thus making it a “greenhouse gas”? Scientific reports indicate that is the case.
    3. Does human industrial and transportative processes produce vast quantities of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere? Scientific reports indicate that is the case.
    4. Has the average global temperature actually increased over the past few decades? Scientific reports indicate that is the case.

    Those who throw around issues like nuclear power, questionable reports of exceptional weather, recent solar output, or natural climate changes in ancient or prehistoric times, only seek to cloud the issue. Unless and until you deal directly with the four central issues at the heart of the global warming issue, you have no real case.

    The chain of reason remains unbroken.

    The ultimate solution to environmental problems

    Any discussion about environmental problems that does not include an effort to stop human population growth and ultimately reduce the population to levels far less than that of today is a waste of time. There are 6 1/2 billion humans on Earth now, and that alone is a serious cause of pollution, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and wars.In addition to this, we must reeducate the people not to be so materialistic, and make sure that multi-national corporations no longer have so much political influence around the world!

    Questions Israel-bashers need to answer

    If Israel is so evil, and the Palestinians are merely its innocent victims: 

    • Why did the Arabs, and not the Jews in Palestine, reject the UN offer in 1947 to divide the land between the two groups so both peoples could have separate states side by side?
    • Why did six Arab states declare war on Israel as soon as it declared its Independence from the British Mandate in 1948?
    • Why was Israel at its founding the only democracy in the Middle East, while its Arab enemies were either absolute monarchies or military dictatorships?
    • Why does Israel maintain within its borders an Arab minority that lives in peace with their Jewish neighbors?
    • Why, when the Arabs failed to destroy Israel through conventional warfare, did some of them resort to terrorism, including suicide bombers?
    • Why is it OK for Arabs to have several nations of their own in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain, but it is not OK for the Jews to also have a state of their own there?
    • Why did Egypt and Jordan sign peace treaties with Israel?
    • Why, during the war between Israel and Hezebollah in the summer of 2006, did Hezebollah shoot so many rockets at the city of Haifa, which is well known as a place where Jews, Christians, and Muslims live together in peace, as well as the location of the World Center of the Baha’i Faith?

    I find it strange that Israel bashers never want to address these issues.

    What makes an empire fall?

    Throughout history, great empires have risen and fallen and fought each other over land, resources and people. It seems like a vicious cycle that these empires build themselves over several centuries only to fall later. The Romans, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Ottomans, the Mongols, the British, the French and now the Americans have all been known as great powers in the world. What is it that causes the disruptions that occur later to destroy great empires?

    First, I think it is contentment of the people with the status quo instead of seeking the best possible way to govern a people. “It worked for our ancestors, so it must be good for us too!” we say. Without progress and reform of the government, expansion of an empire can create many problems. The Roman Empire grew from a small city-state into controlling the entire Mediterranean region in a few hundred years. Likewise, the United States of America has grown from 13 small states along the Atlantic coast of North America into 50 states and several territories stretching from Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea to Guam in the western Pacific Ocean and from Alaska in the far north to Florida in the south, yet the same government designed for 13 states is still being used for all of them!

    Second, we may consider the frog in boiling water concept. If you toss a frog in water that is already boiling, it will immediatly jump out. But the same frog placed in cool water that is then sssssssllllllloooooooooowwwwwlllllyyyyyy heated will end up dead because it will not jump out, it’s cold blooded body “adapting” to the heat until it gets too hot to live. Likewise, I would suggest that if George W. Bush was doing the kinds of things 50 years ago that he is doing today (like starting a war in Iraq under false pretenses, or trying to give away our wildlife refuges to exploitation by oil companies), he would have been IMPEACHED by now or at least he would not have been reelected by the people. Sadly, it seems that the Bush administration thinks we are all frogs, but we are PEOPLE and we know what corruption and hypocrisy is, so we must fight it! Tolerance of corruption in government is another reason why empires fall.

    Third, empires break up or are destroyed because of one people seeking to impose their will on other peoples. Eventually, the other peoples rebel leading to violence, destruction, hatred, killing, and ruin. While powerful military forces may build up an empire, the rebellious subjects inevitiably learn how to build up their own military, causing splits in the empire.

    Today, we see evidence of all three of these tragic trends in present day American society. Ironically, the very principles of freedom and democracy that we are supposed to treasure have become so twisted that it is hard to see the difference now between America as it is now and the British colonial empire that Americans originally broke away from. With that in mind, I would recommend a second American Revolution to save ourselves from the fate of the empires that came before us!

    Was our Solar System Intelligently Designed?

    The concepts of “young-Earth” Creationism and Intelligent Design, which may seem halfway plausible in the field of biology, completely fall apart when attempts are made to apply them to the field of planetary astronomy. The very structure of the Solar System casts doubt upon the notion that an Intelligent Designer created it only a few thousand years ago.

    1. The orbits of the planets do not exist as circles, but as ellipses. In ancient times until the 17th Century, most astronomers insisted that the planets moved in circles because circles were held to be “perfect”.
    2. The surfaces of most solid bodies in the Solar System are battered with craters, indicating a violent and chaotic process of formation.
    3. As the recent controversy over the (dwarf) planet of Pluto showed, it is almost impossible to consistently categorize the various bodies of the Solar System.  Several moons of the gas giant planets, for example, are bigger than Mercury.
    4. The space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are filled with thousands of rocky masses known as asteroids. They serve no practical purpose and even pose a serious threat to life on Earth. The extinction of the dinosaurs, for example, is thought to have occured due to the impact of an asteriod 65 million years ago. Many asteriods even have orbits that take them dangerously close to Earth.
    5. The Earth’s rotation period (the basis of our “day”), the moon’s revolution period (the basis of our “month”), and the Earth’s revolution period (the basis of our “year”) do not match up precisely, making the formulation of calendars a very complicated business.
    6. There is no consistency to the rotational period of the planets. Earth and Mars have 24 hour days, but a day on Jupiter is less than 10 hours long, while a “day” on Venus is 243 times longer than that of Earth. In addition, Venus rotates BACKWARDS!
    7. Venus itself is a planet so hostile to life that astronomers, including the late Carl Sagan, have compared it to the Judeo-Christian vision of Hell.
    8. Far beyond the orbit of Neptune, there exist millions of tiny comets, some of which are drawn close to the Sun, resulting in a spectacular display as its ices sublime, producing the comet’s “tail”. But these comets could also collide with Earth, posing another threat to life on that planet.
    9. All four gas giant planets have rings, but there is no consistent pattern to them. 
    10. Most of the planets have an axal tilt, but Uranus and Pluto are turned more than 90 degrees from the vertical.

    If I were an Intelligent Designer, would I have made the Solar System only a few thousand years ago in such a chaotic way as to fool scientists into thinking that it had formed billions of years ago of entirely naturalistic forces?

    Certainly not!

    We need a scientific, not religious, approach to ethics!

    For thousands of years, people have created for themselves societies to live in and have expressed moral codes to both define those societies and to recommend improvements to them. Because all human beings are imperfect, the moral codes they create are also imperfect, but the principles of free inquiry, experimentation, and empiricism enable us to determine those ethical codes that work better than others in creating and maintaining societies that work for the good of the most people.

    The danger comes when misguided people attempt to impede one or more of these processes. They suppress free inquiry though censorship, they cut off social experimentation through political tyranny favoring the status quo, and/or they deny empiricism by invoking religious dogmatism to claim without proof that a certain moral code from ancient times is as applicable today as it was when the moral code was first formulated. The results have been clearly shown repeatedly throughout history: social stagnation leading to violent revolution, leading again to social stagnation. Various forms of bigotry and extremism expressed by people either favoring one group of people over all others, or attempting to be “consistent” with a narrow point of view that itself cannot be supported empirically, result in social divisions that lead to violence when those impulses are not restrained.
    Science by itself cannot dictate ethics, but it can and should test ethical standards and rules that originate from religion and philosophy to either support or falsify them. The best rules are those that provide for the welfare of the most people over the longest period of time, rather than those that help a group of people in the short term.

    The Curse of Urban Sprawl

    In recent years, much has been said in America about the phenomenon of urban sprawl, the expansion of cities and their suburban regions into areas that were formerly rural or natural, crowding out wildlife. If it were a matter of population growth in the cities, this would be happening at a much slower rate, since the population of the United States has been increasing at “only” a few percent each year, yet the cities seem to be EXPLODING, almost like squid stretching out their tentacles to grab more and more land until, in some areas, giant cities are starting to blend into one another and there is little or no natural land between them. WHY?   Here’s a fictional story to illustrate why:

    Many of the people of Giant City were getting fed up with the pollution, the heavy traffic, the crime rate and the corruption there, as well as the feeling they were little more than sardines in a can. Desperate for relief, many of them took frequent vacations to the Country, where they felt at peace, but only for a short time. Eventually, some of the residents of Giant City decided to move to the Country permanently. In doing so, they built Small Town. With natural beauty, many wild animals, and fresh air and water, the people were happy….for a while.
    But later, the new residents of Small Town began to miss some of the conviences of life in Giant City such as shopping malls, movie theaters, and fancy restaurants. They would go to Giant City for such things, but after a year or two they grew tired of having to go so far back and forth. Then the mayor of Small Town had an idea: “I will being revenue to Small Town by having new businesses establish themselves here!”
    So a tiny shopping mall was built, with a few business moving into it, and it DID bring much money into the coffers of Small Town. Over many years, the mall grew, adding a small movie theater and several restaurants. More and more people moved from Giant City to Small Town, and more and more businesses came to establish themselves and compete with businesses already there.
    After about 50 years, the council of Small Town voted to build a highway network in and around their land to make the movement of traffic easier and increase still further the flow of business in the town. Only by the time they were done, Small Town was no longer small. It had grown into Big Suburb, with air and water pollution now rampant there and with the wildlife disappearing. The older residents who remembered Small Town lamented the loss of the peaceful, quiet life they had known, but the younger ones didn’t care. They were just obsessed with the latest fashions, trends, and junk, which the businesses moving into Big Suburb were all too happy to provide. Instead of the people escaping from Giant City, they had merely recreated it in a different place!

    How to Make Enemies and Irritate People

    As much as I enjoy debates in the internet, I have noticed that certain people tend to engage in tactics that cause the debates to degenerate into slugfests instead of allowing them to end on a civil note. Here are some examples of what they do:

    1. Lie constantly. It does not matter if what you say has no basis in fact whatsoever. As long as you can make a counter to any statement of fact or logical argument that someone makes, you will appear to be on an equal level with your opponent.
    2. Never bother to provide a basis for your assertions by linking to a credible source of information or providing a reference regarding a matter that is not common knowledge. Of course, if you are already doing No. 1, then No. 2 comes naturally.
    3. Engage in the practice of what I call “parroting and nitpicking” constantly: Making an exact copy of your opponent’s arguments and answering them point by point exactly instead of stating a new point of your own to move the debate forward. This has two effects: It makes you appear equal to your opponent, no matter how dumb your statements turn out to be, and it encourages your opponent to respond to you in the same way, taking the debate into an endless circle.
    4. When you are accused of lying, just call your opponent a liar as well.
    5. Engage in frequent sarcastic insults to annoy your opponent.
    6. When your opponent complains that your tactics are unfair or dishonorable, accuse him of not really wanting a debate.
    7. If you know your opponent has a short temper, wait until his patience has run out and he has gotten angry and then take advantage of the situation to torture your opponent still more!
    8. Never admit you are wrong about anything. Always accuse your opponents of not thinking or of being stupid, brainwashed, ignorant, mindless, etc.
    9. Use religion as a excuse to justify your extreme position. If your opponent is not of the same religion, use that fact against him.
    10. Keep the debate going as long as possible until your opponent gives up in frustration, allowing you to claim “victory” later.

    If you use these tactics repeatedly, you may appear very successful in debates. But you will also gain the contempt of most people who have a sense of honor and ethics. And that contempt for you personally may also lead to a rejection of your position as well, even if the position has some truth in it.