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.

https://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:  https://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:

https://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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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:

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2007/07/21/we-need-a-scientific-not-religious-approach-to-ethics/

Now we will proceed with the discussion itself:

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=5462&pst=706123&archival=1&posts=74

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.

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.
  11. Last. but not least, CREATE NEW PROFILES TO INFILTRATE AND THEN DISRUPT GROUPS YOU WERE PREVIOUSLY BLOCKED FROM, THUS VIOLATING THE GROUP OWNER’S PROPERTY RIGHTS!

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.