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Oct 17 2010

Open Thread for #679

Here’s the open thread for tonight’s show – have at it!

Here’s a recap of some of the conspiracy theories we’ve received by email in the last year or so. I’ve omitted names and summarized the claims to protect the anonymity of the authors. I see no need to feed anyone’s persecution complex.

  • A guy wrote to us a few months ago with his cosmological model that he claims is better than the Big Bang Theory. He wanted us to review it. When I asked why he hadn’t submitted his ideas to peer-reviewed journals, he said his ideas were too threatening and the scientific orthodoxy wouldn’t let him publish them.
  • Vaccines are a Big Pharma plot designed to keep us from the knowledge that all we really need to prevent disease is sufficient vitamin D3. And maybe some colloidal silver.*
  • 9/11 was an inside job, and the proof is that the US government has previously engaged in conspiracies and genocide. Plus, Zeitgeist.
  • Christianity is a big conspiracy designed to keep everyone in line. The leaders of the major denominations all know this, but they are sworn to secrecy. Plus, Zeitgeist.
  • HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. HIV is actually a harmless virus, but Big Pharma and the CDC need you to believe HIV causes AIDS. This is used to control certain segments of the population (gays), to generate profits for Big Pharma, and for genocide. It’s actually the anti-retrovirals that cause AIDS. If you just exercise, take your vitamins, eat an organic vegan diet, and reduce your stress, you won’t die from AIDS. If you actually do die of AIDS, it’s because you made a mistake in steps 1-4.

Most of the people who write to us are pretty entrenched in their beliefs and can’t be persuaded that their pet theory has no merit. The guy with the alternate cosmological model has invested about 20 years of his life in his theory, but he’s never gotten around to getting that advanced degree in physics that would actually qualify him to do this kind of research. Why? Obviously, he’d learn enough to know what utter nonsense his theory is.

The 9-11 truthers are often a special case of conspiracy theorist. This is because many of them were convinced by evidence that was deliberately distorted or that was interpreted for them by people who simply lacked the qualifications to do so. Once presented with unadulterated evidence, it seems that many are willing to abandon their conspiracy beliefs and accept the conclusion that a bunch of religious zealots really did fly some planes into buildings on 9/11/01.

For more information on the self-justification that drives conspiracy theorists, as well as other a lot of other ways we deceive ourselves, I recommend a book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson called “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)”.

Parting shot – in response to the call from Cesar this evening – if you’re interested in what’s been done in the field of abiogenesis since the Miller-Urey experiments, take a look at the book “Genesis” by Robert M. Hazen. It’s an excellent survey of the kinds of research going on and the results of that research, written by a scientist who does that research.

*As I noted during the show, colloidal silver does have antimicrobial properties when applied topically. It does not have similar properties when ingested, which is a good thing. If it did, it would kill your normal intestinal flora and leave you open to colonization by something really nasty – like C. difficile. Oral ingestion of colloidal silver can also cause a condition known as argyria, so unless you want to look like a Smurf, you should probably avoid drinking it.

93 comments

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  1. 1
    alargerview

    I took some umbrage to the mildly condescending attitude toward Cesar's educational achievement. He's incorrect, that's for sure, but he is not incorrect because he is unlettered. And he did make a credible attempt with at least a basic understanding of biology, more so than most university graduates.On a side note, matter and energy are the same thing, just two different measurements. Even "massless" particles like photons exhibit mass as pressure.Otherwise, great show!

  2. 2
    Valerie

    You missed one conspiracy theory: Raelians are trying to take over the world. They have started by eliminating skeptics, and leaving their followers wallowing in theistic-blasphemy withdrawal. Without regularly shouted blasphemy, they hope to associate Atheism with Raelianism and not the lack of theistic belief. I have proof too. You see, there is this internet podcast called the non-prophets. Back on October 02, this guy in classic shades and an over-sized raincoat called Martin (of course, this is really a Raelian infiltrator pretending to be Martin) claimed they had a brand new guerrilla episode featuring him, Gia Grillo, and Chris Conner. But the truth is: that is a lie! It's all a conspiracy, man! It's all a delusion….there is no new non-prophets! This "long break" has been an elaborate plot to overthrow everything all along!!!

  3. 3
    Scott

    Huge fan of the show, but I want my hour back. Epic fail, to not snap Caesar off in the first few minutes.

  4. 4
    optifaster

    It was of fun to hear a good ole fashioned common as muck argument from ignorance/incredulity, even if Cesar dodged around the majority of questions you asked and failed to acknowledge anything before changing tack.You don't get those nice long conversations with dyed in the wool Behe parroters that often these days. Partly 'cause Matt either dumps them or intimidates them :PHis lack of understanding of the scientific method was pretty impressive considering he's called in before and I'm guessing has watched a bunch of the show. Ah well, good show. Hopefully you'll get some fun emails to put up on the blog about conspiracies!

  5. 5
    MethodSkeptic

    YES!!! "Mistakes Were Made" is awesome. It belongs on every critical thinker's bookshelf–it's one of those books *everyone* should read.

  6. 6
    JT

    They really need to let go of this idea that complexity must come from more complexity, because it's simply untrue.I love John Conway's Game of Life for this reason. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life)You have this universe that's essentially a 2D grid. It has (though there's some differing ways of putting it) 2 rules:1) Any cell that is active, and has 2 or 3 active neighboring cells, continues to be active into the next iteration, else, it becomes inactive.2) Any cell that is inactive, and has exactly 3 active neighboring cells, becomes active into the next iteration, else is stays inactive….and with these two basic rules, and a purely randomly seeded grid, complexity and order explodes from the woodwork, often into what could be considered machinery or mobile life.If you want a real life example of complex from simple, you can take a look at the human reproductive cycle. A single cell (The embryo) eventually grows up into an increbily complicated organic thinking robot that can do all sorts of tasks.You could say that the complexity is in the original cell, but all the final cells have the same complexity as the original, more or less.The idea that complexity must come from higher complexity is incorrect.

  7. 7
    JT

    I'd also add that these discussions about complexity are almost entirely useless.How do you measure complexity? How can you tell that Item A is more complex than Item B?It's like we're having debates about whether a thing is beautiful, or not, unless it can be defined properly.

  8. 8
    MikeTheInfidel

    alargerview: The point about asking Cesar's education likely had to do with the fact that he was claiming absolute knowledge about the nature of chemistry and biology that contradicts the consensus of scientists who actually have a degree in relevant fields.

  9. 9
    bkb

    Here's a couple of beautiful graphs of the mass resignation from the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church (state church by the way), mention at the beginning of the show.http://eroakirkosta.fi/static/ek-tilastot/(With Google Translate:http://bit.ly/9G9BzR)Missing translationsToissapäivänä: the day before yesterdayEilen: yesterdayTänään: todayEnnuste: expectationLokakuu: OctoberKaikki vuodet: all years

  10. 10
    gaijin

    Oh my God, I'm in the middle of Ceasar's call and I'm just so frustrated that I have to write this comment here and now. I'm sorry, Tracy and Jen, but you're handling this call badly. Really. Ceasar's blatant ignorance just makes want to scream and bang my head against a wall, but what's even worse is that you're not exposing the logical fallacy behind his thinking clearly enough. Worse still, you've basically allowed him to shift the burden of proof that the universe/life has to be created by intelligence to you. When he said that only life can create life, you correctly referred to Miller-Urey and other experiments to show him he's wrong. But then when he said that this example doesn't count because aminoacids are nothing compared to, for instance, humans, and he still claimed that it's a god who had to create the universe, you take the discussion in an entirely wrong direction, saying 'is there anything science could offer to convince you your claim is false?'. WRONG, goddamit! Even if Miller and Urey didn't succeed in creating a human from non-organic matter and electricity, HE still has to give evidence in favour of his claim that the universe was created by a god. And when he just says 'It couldn't have happened any other way', you simply, as million times before, tell him it's a classic argument from ignorance until he shows that it's really so END OF TOPIC. ARGGHSHAJDSKHJKSFAjkdhajksdjksdfsdfklsdfl.Sorry, now I feel better. PS. Ok, only at the end of the talk you say it clearly: 'It's the argument from ignorance'. Thank you.

  11. 11
    lonomoholo

    Good fun as always. Enjoyed the back-and-forth with Cesar, although I agree with alargerview that his educational background is irrelevant. He clearly had done some reading and researching (albeit not enough and not with critical thinking in tow), so kudos to him. I think that, given enough time he could have been swayed to at least admit that abiogenesis is feasible as he did not come across as stupid, merely ignorant-two entirely different things. Pity that you guys only have the hour now. WAY too short.

  12. 12
    rrpostal

    I thought it was a great hour, personally, and he was handled just fine. I would much rather have gained insight into Cesar's thinking than hearing atheists kudos and questions all hour. I admit I also had a knee-jerk reaction to asking about his education level, but it was somewhat appropriate because he was claiming to know things better than the experts and I think that was the point.I'm afraid the stupid burden of proof shifting opening salvo is becoming a meme within the internet apologists. It is so insanely dishonest and it always fails if you allow the person to explain why it's a non-question "what proof do you have that atheism is right, correct, true, and the master of all time and space? Hmmm? Why can't you give me evidence?" Grrr, and then 45 minutes of "it can't be any other way!" arguments. And not to pile on the guy after insulting his education, but his voice sounds so…so…not smart. It's a horrible thing to say, and it doesn't mean anything. But we've only gotten it in small snippets before and his nasal prattling would have had me disagreeing even if he was the most sensible intelligent person on the planet. "But someone must have made cells, because they must have. I'm being scientific, so you can't disagree…"

  13. 13
    Steve

    When Caesar said you put your faith in "scientism", I couldn't listen to any more of his dribble and stopped the podcast. I think you let that call go on way too long.

  14. 14
    vallwarrior

    Valerie brings up a good point. That Raelian promised a new NonProphets episode. While waiting for the radio show to start back up, I found further proof of the Raelian infestation of your inner circle….I propose Matt is also an imposter, and was switched in early 2006. The REAL Matt has hair. Thinning, but hair none the less. When the Raelians took him, they needed someone to fill his time slot, so they called the SciFi channel and got the dude from Ghost Hunters to fill in while the clone was grown in an acceleration vat. I'm still reviewing old episodes to find an explaination for the missing hair, but have uncovered nothing yet. So obviously this conspiracy runs deep, maybe all the way to Gov. (Freedom Hatin') Perry.

  15. 15
    Richard

    I really look forward to downloading 'The Atheist Experience' every Monday, but this episode was a massive disappointment.When we first heard about this transition from 90 to 60 minutes, the point was made that 1) Announcement time would be shortened, and 2) Long rambling calls would be cut off in a more reasonable time frame.What did we get this episode? No announcements, which was terrific – but other than that we get one call, maybe 10 minutes long, from an angsty atheist, and then a long massively rambling call from Cesar. 34 minutes and counting. At the end the hosts pointed out, "Well, we had no other theist callers." Perhaps if they actually said on the show, "We don't have any other theist callers, which is why we're sticking with this one – but we would appreciate any other theist callers who would like to call in." It sounded like the hosts were kind of surprised at the end when it turned out that Cesar had completely finished out the show. Perhaps the crew could drop $5 at Wal-Mart and buy them a call-timer to put on the table in front of them.

  16. 16
    Sean (quantheory)

    A reminder: things are not made of energy, for the same reason that things are not made of "mass" (rest mass is a type of energy).Everything *has* a property called energy (just as everything has a center of mass and an average velocity and a net angular momentum). Nothing is *made of* a substance called energy (because there is no such thing). Even the massless fundamental forces, electromagnetism and gravity, are not "energy" (in the physics sense of the word). They are transmitted by particles: photons and gravitons (which, when you get more technical, are quanta associated with ubiquitous fields).Every time a science promoter agrees that "everything is made of energy", Deeprak Chopra makes $5,000 and has an orgasm. If that's not what you want, don't let statements like that slide!

  17. 17
    Raymond

    @MaciejYour comments are spot on.At the very beginning fo his call Cesar says "I am a believer" and then asked the question"What is the evidence that makes your atheism true?"This is a simple switch in the burden of truth.Cesar effectively asked "I believe in god, now prove it doesn't exist".I am kinda disappointed that Tracie and Jen did not switch the burden back.However the look on Tracies face of disbelief when the credits appeared however was priceless.

  18. 18
    tgimlin

    Allowing Cesar to blather on without firmly nailing him down in his fallacies just give him credibility to those that don't understand critical thinking. To some people, I'm sure that Cesar's call looked to be an actual "debate". There's even the "gotcha" moment with the matter/energy thing that he can point to to show that the atheist side didn't know as much as they thought they did.When he started with the "only life makes life, only intelligence makes intelligence" meme you should have forced him to justify the statement, not allowing him to continually sidestep like he did throughout the call.Still, love the show.

  19. 19
    kennykjc

    That phone conversation did not need to go as long as it did. Whatever happened to cutting off rambling callers due to the 1 hour format. After 10 minutes things got repeated.

  20. 20
    Robert

    So who is to blame on the show wasting all that time on Caesar? I understand he's a theist and that gets priority, that's fine, but obviously Jen and Tracie displayed surprise at all the time spent on the call. Did the crew not give them an idea of how much time was left every now and then?If they did, did they ignore the time?It was a good conversation in many ways. Yes, Jen and Tracie "owned" Caesar and personally I did not find the education comment belittling, it was appropriate when he was dismissing ideas that are cornerstones of some of these issues. But it still felt like a wasted show and I hope it doesn't happen again.

  21. 21
    CSJaus

    What I found interesting about Cesar's call was that he obviously heard the "what proof is there that atheism is correct?" argument and actually thought it was a way to close down the atheist position. I think he was genuinely surprised when he found out this little piece of theistic wordplay doesn't work in the real world.I'm glad Tracy and Jen took the time to expose how this argument does nothing but try to shift the burden of proof and fails. Even if you play along you end up with "Okay let's say there's no evidence to definitively say there's no intelligent design at play. We haven't heard any other ideas, and we won't know what's correct without looking at evidence (let's ignore the fact that's what atheism means…), so what evidence do we have that points to any other ideas?" and the theist is back to trying to prove their position (which is exactly what happened to Cesar's call). It might be useful to point out to theists the pattern of scientific inquiry: first comes the evidence, then come the hypotheses, then we test hypotheses to see if they fail under pressure, and only then do we end up with a plausible theory that is supported by evidence. Coming up with ideas that only seem to match reality in "reasoned argument" and not in evidence risks poor solutions that aren't tested in the real world.I got the feeling though that Cesar also had an unstated assumption that complexity in inorganic matter was "natural" (e.g. heavier molecules created in suns) and thus didn't need design, but that increased complexity in organic matter required "design" because "organic equals alive" without understanding organic versus inorganic.I could be totally off-base but if true, then a starflake analogy could have been helpful: each starflake appears unique and has an intricate symmetrical pattern which appears designed. But in reality it's the result of the structure of the simple water molecule; the temperature of the air; the wind currents; time to fall to earth; etc that builds up six nearly-identical patterns over time. Then we humans come along with our pattern-seeking brains and see what we label as "symmetry & design". Ironically, we get close to this truth when children fold a piece of paper and then cut out a series of random holes to make a "snowflake" decoration when unfolded.The idea that Cesar's call was too long is a bit unfair: this was the first real test of the new one-hour format and I was genuinely surprised when the show credits started rolling so early. Maybe a call time monitor could be useful to help note length of calls for the hosts so that they can more easily avoid going overtime on one call?

  22. 22
    John K.

    I'll add my own constructive criticism on the Cesar call.I agree with Raymond, you let him get away with shifting the burden of proof.You also let him get away with equivocation fallacies in that he never had to provide a definition of the god he was arguing for.There are also some good arguments against the possibility of a god that would have let you start out on the offensive. The "can god create a rock so big he can not lift it?" paradox comes to mind, the problem of evil, take your pick. You did not have set the goalpost so far back as to say "there is no evidence so I am justified in not believing", it is accurate but was not warranted until you got a "you can't prove god does not exist". After you went on the defensive, he used up all the time in a giant argument from ignorance jumping around on random things he had no explanation for in a blitzkrieg tactic that gave you no time to attack his position. If he had presented a definition you would not have to spend all your time on the defensive.I would also have liked to see you present the ID problem of infinite regress, i.e. "what created the intelligence that created life?". Intelligent design is demonstrated by simplicity and not complexity would also have been a useful argument.All the counter arguments were great though. I am really only giving some tactical suggestions. I did not think the show was a waste. I personally like the all theist shows, even if they manage to pull some fast ones on the hosts from time to time.

  23. 23
    skepticmatt

    This was one of the few times when I had to stop listening to the show before the end.Ceasar was staggeringly ignorant and astonishingly unintelligent. In all probability he is too stupid to be educated, but in any case it isn't your job to educate him. I realize you are polite people, but tell him to look at talkorigins.org and hang up on the fucktard.That said, I love the show and it's great to see intelligent skeptical women representing the cause.

  24. 24
    Dave

    I like watching the show exactly for this sort of thing.It takes real patience to deal with the ignorant.I learn how to talk to theists in that I come across in life by watching the show.I was a bit worried at first that Tracie and Jen wouldn't hit the right points but I think they did. They just took their time doing it which is sometimes all you can do when talking to a theist friend. You need to give them a lot of rope.Thanks for a good show.

  25. 25
    Jeremiah

    I disagree with the other commentors a bit on this one. I actually think Ceasar was a good caller. While he obviously drew some specious conclusions, he at least has made an attempt to learn about the underlying science. The problem is the entire middle of the discussion got lost in minutiae. It sort of lost sight of the forest for the trees.The one thing I would bring up is that in these conversations the creationist will inevitably say something like "all the examples of something like a machine have creators like humans, there are no natural examples of that." I wish every time that comes up people would point out that we absolutely do have natural examples of that, it's called life, but they just are not accepting that as an example and are just by fiat claiming a creator for it. It's like if someone said all red cars were made by Honda and I point out a red Mustang and they just say "No, that doesn't count as an example, even though it says Ford, Honda really made it." That is what they are doing, "Sure life seems natural, but god really did it, therefore you have no examples.".

  26. 26
    Eyedunno

    You are a sheep, Jen. Wake up to the fact that 9-11 was an inside job perpetrated by Big Pharma and the producers of Zeitgeist to spread AIDS to the cabal of autistic Christians who make up the Illuminati by distracting us while they doped our supplies of colloidal silver with vitamin D3.Are you people BLIND?!

  27. 27
    Louis

    Actually, I am writing my first year bio lecture on Abiogenesis right now, while listening to Cesar's call.I thought that Jen and Tracey handled the call fairly well, but they may want to spend a bit more time looking into abiogenesis. RNA world seems like the most reasonable hypothesis to me. There are several reasons for this 1) RNA chains of up to a few hundred nucleotides can and will form spontaneously under the right conditions. 2) RNA can catalyse its own reproduction, however this is not very fast, nor very accurate [which allows for rapid improvements in stability and copying speed, ironically]. 3) RNA is a fundamental component of ribosomes, the building "machines" of proteins (personally, I would have let Cesar have his machine analogy, then I would have cut him down on the evolution thing). 4) ribonucleic acids were formed both in Joan Oro's experiments heating aqueous solutions of ammonium cyanide. 5) Amino acids will spontaneously form proteoids – which have some catalytic ability. Mutation of an RNA molecule which binds with (and hence specifies for) certain amino acid chains, which then aid in the replication of that RNA chain, would set up a hypercycle.Finally, I would like to point out that evolution doesn't just explain the diversity of life, but also its complexity.

  28. 28
    Sue

    Caesar was great. He is a smart guy. Wrong on one thing but smart. He knew biochemistry at least as well as you. He had read but discounted the abiogenesis hypotheses and you were not prepared to defend them.One hitch was the complexity of the cell. The first cells were nowhere near as complicated as cells today. And depending on what you call life, the first life was probably not cellular.Early Caesar was frustrated and a little angry. Then he was frustrated and polite. Kudos to him. He suffered the onslaught but kept his decorum. And it was an onslaught. While you made many good points (Why would God need to hijack mitochondria? The flowers in my garden must come from fairies) you used many unfair tactics. E.g. Putting words in his mouth, assuming he was Christian rather than deist. The ad populum fallacy: "ID is not the consensus". And worst of all was, "You called us." It was you who had invited him to call.I hope Caesar gets to continue his education. He has potential. He might learn that mineral substrates could catalyse nucleotide polymerisation.

  29. 29
    Nick

    I could not agree more with the idea that saying, "because most of the scientists agree" is either an argument ad populum or an appeal to authority. I don't know which, but it seems evident it is one of them.Although you may have to fall back on expert knowledge at times to make decisions, believing the experts is knowing through authority and not by rationalism or empiricism. If you don't know something through your own understanding, you should not hold the believe as strongly.Also, it is an ad hominem to try to dismiss his argument based on his education level. Besides that I thought you went in all the right places, but it left a bad taste in our minds, because you brought out most of the correct traps to lock-down his argument from ignorance, but he present his argument in a way that made it a feisty little critter.He knew just enough to get out of your traps, but obviously not enough to see why his argument should be trapped in the first place. It was a hard fight.I liked the discussion, but like many I was frustrated, probably under the very very wrong assumption that if you had just said this or that a little different, or maybe brought up point X instead of Y, it would have taken him down. Clearly, he was tenacious and even if you had pinned him down, I think that would only left us more satisfied and he would have remained unconvinced.The one hour format sucks.Keep up the good fight,Nick

  30. 30
    ßrono

    His whole argument was: "something complex can not exist without something even more complex to create it."his fallacy becomes so clear when you remove all the science jargon.

  31. 31
    Anonymous

    His whole argument was: "something complex can not exist without something even more complex to create it."his fallacy becomes so clear when you remove all the science jargon.

  32. 32
    Michael Nam

    I really have to agree with John K. and ßrono…Cesar's whole argument was a non-starter with the problem of infinite regress. Regardless of the science of abiogenesis, etc., his position was that anything complex required an intelligence to have created it, but an intelligent agent, by his definition, would have to be incredibly complex and would also require an intelligent creator, and so on, and so on.Of course, there are those who just cut that off and say that this creator was either always here or popped itself into existence, which then becomes a special pleading argument.

  33. 33
    Michael Nam

    BTW, probably should ixnay the argyria talk in case it gives more Avatar fanatics some ideas! :)

  34. 34
    Plain Simple

    @ßrono and Michael Nam: He even pointed this out himself iirc. At one point he said something along the lines of "I would also accept aliens as the creators of life, but that would only be a stop gap, because something had to create these aliens."

  35. 35
    Ing

    @SueCeaser was NOT smart. His understanding of biochemistry is painful. He doesn't understand or know biochemistry he's latched on to some jargon and is an utter moron. That's why it's reasonable to ask his education.

  36. 36
    Ing

    Reposted since I wasn't patient enough to wait for the threadSpeaking of not knowing anything about what you're talking about, please please please stop letting Ceaser ramble on and on. His butchering of basic chemistry, biology and bio-chemistry is PAINFUL."Amino acids make proteins" that s the ONLY thing he got right. Every single other statement was worse than wrong.what's more complicated than a cell? How about TWO cells. The mind is made of the interaction of bridges between countless cells. So Sue, please don't bullshit us and say that Ceaser was "smart" and knew the science. Some of us who actually went through the 4 years of chem classes required to understand the abiogenesis hypothesis and learn how to use biochemistry take offense that you think that moron "knows" our work

  37. 37
    Ing

    @ Sue and NickThe consensus of science is based on DATA. It's not a fallacy if the person knows what they're talking about, if they actually ARE an established expert. The pope saying masturbation will turn you blind is bunkThe collective physics community giving a statement on black holes has some weight. Pointing out that ID has no traction isn't Ad Populum, it's pointing out it has no support because it has no data or evidence supporting it. Consider how great an insight you two have on what science is or how "smart" Ceaser was I'm not surprised you morons couldn't grasp this.

  38. 38
    Nathan

    Just a comment on the caller you had before the Cesarsplosion.I can relate to that guy when he said that he doesn't get the chance to explain his for or talk about it. Few years ago I was in a group of people where there was one born-again Christian (previously had a drug-addled life, etc), a life-long Christian, a presumably agnostic fellow, and then another atheist and myself. The individual whom I presumed was either agnostic, or a very open minded theist, was trying to ask me and the other atheist our opinions and why we disbelieved. Neither of us could get out more than a sentence before the life-long Christian woman would try to either talk over us or change the subject. This went on for a few minutes before the investigating party became frustrated enough to give up on the issue.Oddly enough, the born-again person seemed not to care less what we thought.

  39. 39
    rrpostal

    It's always easy to monday morning quarterback a particular debate. "I would have said this…" thinking will frustrate you more than anything else. Heck, I do it with Hitchens, Dawkins et al. But I freely admit that if I were actually there and on the spot I might not come off as a robust example of human rational thought and insight. I think our representatives did a wonderful job. After all of the meandering, obfuscation and peripheral nonsense, they showed that the totality of the argument for intelligent design for Cesar comes down to "it seems like someone or something smart must have done it". I do find it funny that it took so long to reach such a basic simple disagreement. The burden of proof shifting was insulting. He seemed smart enough to know this was dishonest. The everything is energy/ mass/ whatever disussion was a rabit hole of pointlessness. Overall I found this wandering discussion to be kind of refreshing and different, at least as a change of pace. I get frustrated with Matt for being a bit brief or using the hang up as if it were a nuclear option. But one thing Matt is very good at in most cases is quickly discovering the point at which the two sides disagree. All things said, though, this discussion seemed legitimate and real. It's the kind of thing that no other show or program offers. People who are not professional debaters or paid mouthpeices, talking about a subject I find interesting. ThanksOh yeah, the hour length sucks.

  40. 40
    Lene Taylor

    Is there some rule, informal or otherwise, about repeat callers? This is about the 4th time Cesar has called in, and although it's fun & educational to hear his weak arguments refuted, he never covers any new ground. It doesn't seem that his thinking has changed, or that he has any new evidence, and it was really frustrating to listen to him dodge and weave for 45 minutes. I respectfully suggest that he not be allowed on the air for a couple of weeks, unless he's got some new material – and even then, he shouldn't be allowed the whole show. Let's give someone else a chance.I also bristled at the reference to his education.The one hour format is not good.

  41. 41
    Dave

    "I could not agree more with the idea that saying, "because most of the scientists agree" is either an argument ad populum or an appeal to authority. I don't know which, but it seems evident it is one of them."It was neither in the context of the conversation.The hosts were just trying to tie the conversation into the topic about conspiracy theories.They just wanted to know what he thought about people disagreeing with them. Maybe I need to watch it again but I did not hear a claim that they were right because other people agreed with them.They just wanted to know what he thought about it, presumably hoping that he thought there was a conspiracy there.

  42. 42
    chrisp

    I've never heard anyone give a succinct explanation of how scientists propose abiogenesis likely happened, so I'll offer one in hopes it'll help:1) A product of interactions of the early earth's environment were organic molecules.2) Energy in the form of UV rays, cosmic radiation, and lightning broke up those molecules, which then would recombine in different fashions.3) This process of repeated breaking down and recombination repeated for hundreds of millions of years (likely more) until a molecule arose that could replicate itself crudely from scratch organic components that surrounded it4) This repeating molecule would make mistakes, which began the process of evolution and the start of life as we know it.At least, that's what I've gleaned from the second episode of "Cosmos."I think only by explaining these steps can mentioning the Miller-Urey experiment be relevant; we've constructed those organic molecules in conditions similar to early earth- we just don't have the billions of years for random deconstruction/recombination.Also, I bet Louis could probably correct/update those steps I've mentioned considering that Cosmos episode is about 30 years old now.

  43. 43
    Phil

    Great call! I've heard cesar's call in before and it was pretty lame, but this time it had some golden moments ripe for youtube greatness :) It was all over the various subjects, which is formally a bad thing, but was great for the show. It really got a lot of frequent questions and answers going and nice points made.One thing I wanted to point out, which I'm sure plenty have already, which has to do with the formal logic of the intelligent design argument, which you guys did not mention. (Probably on purpose as it would have nipped the call in the bud and you wanted to grill him instead? Heh heh…)The point is that if order requires design, and that design is the product of an intelligent designer, than he himself is ordered and the question of orderedness has not been answered at all! You could have asked cesar on many separate occasions something like: if your logic is that a cell is so complex that it requires a designer, isn't your designer also ordered and complex, and wouldn't he require a designer? Doesn't your explanation, if followed through logically, require infinite regress?Even shorter, the question is about us: where do we come from? We are intelligent designers, of course, but the answer is that we were designed by another intelligent designer. In other words, the answer to the question where do we intelligent designers come from is that an intelligent designer made us, which doesn't answer the question at all! :)

  44. 44
    baraeris

    Decent show. At least it was better than not having a show completely. However, letting Caesar steal the vast majority of the (shortened!) show was a huge turn off in my opinion. I must admit after I realized the episode was half over – and he was still talking – I kept skipping ahead in hopes that at some point he would have been shelved in favor of another caller.If we're going to have to put up with these short shows for awhile then let's take Matt's advice and get people like Caesar to either poop or get off the pot.

  45. 45
    TDR

    To change topics slightly from the issue of Cesar, I think the focus on conspiracy theories was an interesting one. The human tendency towards making them is interesting, and it seems very similar to the human tendency to making religions.To me, there seems to be two main reasons for this. The first is to explain a very complex world in simple terms. When it comes right down to it, I think most people really want simple answers. Despite the fact that both conspiracy theories and religions can get incredibly complex, they are really simple at heart.They are simple at heart for the second reason, which is the human tendency to anthropomorphize. Having some intelligent individual or group of individuals who act for certain reasons being the cause of everything is comforting on a certain level. The reality seems to be, of course, that the universe consists of the interplay of a huge number of impersonal laws of nature. Likewise, although human history is made up of the actions of thinking individuals, the numbers of people involved and the complexity of what is going is really staggering. On a certain level, religion itself is the oldest conspiracy theory there is, the oldest attempt to put a human face on a world far too complex for such a thing to work.

  46. 46
    Nathaniel

    I have to say that I was disappointed with how clumsily Cesar's call was handled. Right through the call I feel that neither Jen nor Tracie were sufficiently fastidious about asserting the burden of proof. Between his opening "proof and evidence of atheism" challenge to his assertion that life/intelligence only comes from other life/intelligence, nearly 10 minutes were wasted trying to justify the atheist/evolutionist side where a simple insistence for Cesar to meet HIS burden of proof would have sufficed. The charge of "argument from ignorance" did come up a few times, but each time the charge was simply ignored and they permitted him to go on with his argument and waste everyone's time.Particularly disappointing was how they handled Cesar's definition of proteins/organelles as machines. It was a clear attempt to shoehorn in the intelligently designed attribute of man made machines into the conception of proteins/organelles which have NOT YET been shown to have been designed. It's sad that this was allowed to pass, because even more time was then wasted dealing with this.I could go on, but basically the rest of the show drags on with Cesar making arguments from analogy and being permitted to go on without offering evidence for a thing he says, for 20+ minutes. With the show being as short as it is now I feel that air time is ill spent letting callers to blather on, making claims they won't back up.I'm a big fan of the show. I've seen quite a few episodes and I've learned quite a bit about dealing with theist arguments by watching. I feel this recent episode, however, was a rather weak example of how to deal with bad argumentation. I'm still a fan, but I have to say that my esteem in Jen and Tracie as hosts has diminished today.

  47. 47
    scorinth

    I know I'm late to the party, but I just had a flash of insight concerning Cesar's arguement. At one point, he said that all of our experiments showing that random processes give rise to amino acids are pointless because they couldn't assemble themselves into bigger things.What immediately sprung to my mind is that he's clearly never heard of, or at least has never understood, monomers and polymers. Here's a class of molecules who's defining characteristic is that they *do* snap together automatically to form larger, more complex structures.So, from now on, I'm going to try to remember nylon, and how two liquids poured into a glass together will make a thread just as quickly as you can pull it out."Can't assemble themselves" Bull! you can't make them stop!

  48. 48
    Croatian Atheist

    I think we atheist should stop defending science, and start attacking theists on their ground: Who is god? where is he? What are the properties of god? HOW did he do it?They NEVER answer the question "how", only "who". These should be the rules:1) Allow only one argument. Positive claim.2) Short.3) Do not defend science, ask about "alternative" theory.4)Ask HOW god did it!Love the show! Greetings from Croatia!

  49. 49
    Johannthecabbie

    @ing and the other elitistsSo, only scientists are smart? What incredible arrogance. Caesar may not have the education that you do, but hes is obviously intelligent. Just because one did not finish college, does not make him a fool or moron. I suspect that he is a working man, busting his ass to support his family, and to have you dismiss him because he hasn't received a doctorate is insulting.Tracie & Jen, other than mocking his education level, I thought it was a great show. I would much rather spend 45 min listening to a debate with an earnest theist than call after call of atheists who want to debate some obscure philosophical point.

  50. 50
    Plain Simple

    @Johannthecabbie: I fully agree with your point that education does not equal intelligence. Intelligence is hard to define in a meaningful way to begin with (Asimov has written some nice essays about that, worth a read). But to go from there to "he is a working man, busting his ass to support his family" is completely unwarranted. As I recall there was nothing in his call that supports such a conclusion (perhaps in his earlier calls?). For all we know he spends his days sitting on his couch thinking of new reasons to call AE. So why make that statement? I can't shake the uncanny feeling that you're trying to set up a false dichotomy here between uneducated hard working people and educated `elitists'. Hope I'm wrong.

  51. 51
    Phil

    @ing u mad bro? u mad? :)

  52. 52
    Jeremiah

    I agree a bit with our Croatian friend here. I mean, it is great to try and help someone understand science and correct them when they are mistaken, I'm all for that, but honestly science is in a way almost irrelevant to the question of god. If we all got zapped back to the dark ages we still wouldn't have any more reason to believe in a god due to the complete lack of any casual chain between this supposed being and any occurrences in the real world. People shouldn't disbelieve because of how much we know about how the world works, but because out of what we do know, no matter how small, doesn't include the discovery of any divine beings.I think it is like the old Dawkins quote about evolution making it easier to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. I think that can be extrapolated to all of science really. Science makes us feel good about the fact that it leaves fewer gaps for a god to hide in, but ultimately I don't think the amount of our knowledge is that important to holding an atheistic position. Atheism isn't defined by what we know, but what we don't know, specifically not knowing of any direct evidence of a god. And that hasn't ever changed.

  53. 53
    Ing

    Yes I'm mad. Caeser is not smart. He doesn't know what he's talking about. And he does it in a moronic fashion. Caseer isn't an idiot because he hasn't finished college, he's an idiot because he speaks bullshit and claims to understand concepts he clearly doesn't. Some of us actually spent the time to learn the information, and I for one don't take kindly to some yahoo calling me an elitest for pointing out that Caeser is speaking nonesense. No one who has stayed awake for a week of biochem could honestly say Caeser understands the subject. I'm not the best or smartest by a long shot but saying i'm better than Caser sure ain't arrogance.

  54. 54
    Johannthecabbie

    @Plain Simple: Yes, you are wrong. I am not saying that educated people are elitists. I am saying that the educated types who look down on the less educated are elitists. And, as far as Ceaser being a "working man," I didn't say "is" or "probably is." I said "I suspect." As in an educated guess or a hunch. You could also call it an "uncanny feeling." I base this suspicion on experience and the odds. He is a Latino man living in Brooklyn, and I can tell you, having lived in a Latino neighborhood for the last couple of years, that most Latino men are hard working, and usually underpaid. I could be wrong, of course, but my suspicion is not unwarranted.@ing: For someone who is so quick to call others idiot or moron, your feelings bruise awfully easily. It is elitist to call one stupid just because he does not share your specialized knowledge of biochem. Ceaser may not match your levels of scientific knowledge, but he obviously reads up on the subject(could choose better sources, though), and his level of understanding is greater than most Americans. I, for one, give him points for studying, and being willing to challenge his own beliefs. I am sure that there are some areas that you lack in expertise. Does that make you a moron?And, I did not call you an elitist "for pointing out that Caeser is speaking nonesense." I called you an elitist for calling him an "utter moron." There's a difference. And, saying that you're better than Ceaser, while claiming not to be an elitist, is simply stupid, er, I mean ignorant. Not to mention arrogant.

  55. 55
    rrpostal

    Generally when someone calls someone else an idiot or an utter moron it is most likely because they think they are an idiot or an utter moron. You may disagree and think the person is actually quite astute, but it doesn't make them wrong or necessarily an "elitist". If someone gets just enough knowledge to come to a completely unwarranted and simultaneously unwavering decision based on either a lack of creativity or an a priori conclusion, then I don't find their deeper than layman research especially noble.I think what my colleagues were trying to express is that, while he may have read up a bit, he has made some very stupid assertions. Kind of like saying "I assume he's a working man, busting his ass for his family". Why not assume "he hasn't worked in years because every time he tries he thinks he knows things better than the people trying to teach him and nobody can stand being around him. Plus he's lazy"? It is an equally preposterous claim. And your defense is you lived in a Latino community? If you can't see where you stepped in it with that one, it's no wonder you are supporting him.

  56. 56
    Plain Simple

    @Johannthecabbie:"And, as far as Ceaser being a "working man," I didn't say "is" or "probably is." I said "I suspect." As in an educated guess or a hunch. You could also call it an "uncanny feeling.""Okay, you suspect it. So what? Still has nothing to do with whether or not he is a moron (which, again, is not a word I would use to describe him). And what is your educated suspicion based on? :"I base this suspicion on experience and the odds. He is a Latino man living in Brooklyn, and I can tell you, having lived in a Latino neighborhood for the last couple of years, that most Latino men are hard working, and usually underpaid. I could be wrong, of course, but my suspicion is not unwarranted."Ah, okay, stereotypes and prejudice. So yes, your suspicion is unwarranted. If you would have some data showing that the majority of Latinos in Brooklyn are auto ass busters, then you might be justified in trusting "the odds". It would still come dangerously close to being prejudice, but if there is a tendency to underpay Latino men (again, more data we need), then it would be a valid question to study the consequences this has for their work ethics (as opposed to for example studying the work ethics of men called Ceasar) and your odds argument would probably steer clear of prejudice. But again, in the absence of good data it is just an unwarranted generalization. What I'm trying to say is that Caesar (Cesar?) is part of many groups. There should be a pretty good reason to single out the Latinos group as the one to base your suspicion about his work ethics on.And anyway, it is besides the whole point. What does it have to do with whether or not Caesar is intelligent? And what does that in turn have to do with the validity of his arguments? (After all, he gave his arguments and we can inspect them. We're not talking about hypothetical arguments that he might give, but hasn't in actuality, in which case it would possibly be important to know something about his `intelligence'.)

  57. 57
    Jeremiah

    Well, to jump into the fracas, the point is that his education level is irrelevant. A person could never go to college or go and study literature but spend as a hobby quite a lot of time learning about biology and alternatively a person could go to college as a biology major and not actually come out understanding things any better than they did before. So, attacking a persons erroneous claims is what needs to happen. You need to say "Yeah, amino acids build proteins but…." not "You didn't study biology at a major university? Piss off moron." Honestly, harping on if he completed college or not is far more of a cheap ad hominen that is simply being rationalized.

  58. 58
    Jeremiah

    You may disagree and think the person is actually quite astute, but it doesn't make them wrong or necessarily an "elitist".To me this is kind of taking an escape hatch down into a subjectivist wonderland where everything is just 'opinion'. Calling someone a moron because they said something stupid is fine, but calling someone a moron because they didn't attend a public university is fallacious. Anyways, we all agree that Caesar got some science wrong, but it is wrong because his facts or understanding was wrong, not because of his education/work background/whatever.Finally, just nit-picking on logic now but it is not equally preposterous to claim that he is a working man or a bum. Considering the current unemployment rate is around 9.6% it means that any randomly selected person is far more likely to be gainfully employed than not. This is the old theist failure to confuse the equally possible with the equally probable. Of course Johannthecabbie was adding some emotional flavor to his claim with descriptions like 'hard-working' and 'busting his ass for his family', and those are really the weak parts of the emotional appeal, but asserting that he is a working man is pretty justifiable.

  59. 59
    Phil

    I know college dropouts who are a lot smarter than organic chemistry grads. One way or the other, that argument about formal education is a dead end.Personally, I have found a lot more value in cesar's calls than in @ing's posts. Just sayin'

  60. 60
    mattias73

    Why didnt you ask ceasar how the aliens in that case were created? He must believe in the supernatural if life cannot be created by nature.

  61. 61
    Ing

    Ok seriously Phil? Caeser is wrong on fundamental things. That's it he's wrong and he's stupid because he talks about it as if he understands it. It's not even complex things he's wrong about, it's some very simple obvious stuff. Caeser is not a bio-chem expert, an Organic-chem expert or a biology expert. He's not an expert, he's not even competent. His lack of degree does not disqualify him from being knowledgeable or having anything of value to speak about the subject, his lack of knowledge does.And if there's any elitism it's because studying science at a higher level is difficult and thus acheiving a degree is an ELITE position. Not everyone does it, not everyone has the patience to do it. A degree is an agreed upon proof of work, it indicates you have done the necessariy work and studying to understand a subject competently (ideally). Not having a degree doesn't disqualify you from being knowledgeable, but when you have not done the ground work and say things in contradiction to the science, and are in disagreement with the collective of people who HAVE DONE THE WORK, then no it is not an argument from popularity. It's an argument from expertise.

  62. 62
    Ing

    I stress the Done the work part because that's the key. You're calling me elitist for thinking doing studying and work has some value. Surprise, it does. It's not like the degree is granted by birth right, it's earned. The knowledge isn't given by divine revelation, it's earned. This insistence that Caeser was knowledgeable despite being fucki0ng wrong about damn near everything is bizarre. Seemingly people are giving his ignorance weight to the argument. He is factually wrong. I'm just confused that people are surprised that someone might put in large portions of their life and devote their professional time to might actually care and have some passion about the subject! Saying Caeser was knowledgeable was like saying Joe the Plumber was a profound economist, it's an offense to people who actually have knowledge.

  63. 63
    Ing

    @PhilWould you let an unlicensed doctor operate on you? This anti-education anti-intellectual line of discussion is troubling. Yeah you know some drop outs who are smarter than some college grads…Therefore all education is worthless and makes no difference. Seriously, the fact that you know some exceptional people is no more of a point than that i know drop outs who are too dumb to eat.

  64. 64
    Ing

    Oh and John the Cabbie? Thanks for the implication that I don't work hard and just sit on my ass all day at my job. Way to assume you're better than me because I'm just one of those lazy elitists who have a dun der education. I work. I work hard at my job. You're worship of the working man and demonization of skilled labor is noted. But again hey what do I know? I just you know, know the topic Caeser was butchering and was rude in calling him a moron, so therefore I clearly have nothing to say.

  65. 65
    Johannthecabbie

    @Plain Simple"And anyway, it is besides the whole point. What does it have to do with whether or not Caesar is intelligent? And what does that in turn have to do with the validity of his arguments?"True. I was trying to defend the uneducated, which in New York is often poor and working class. Perhaps I should have chosen my phrasing better.I do not like the implication that I am prejudiced. I am not making any negative stereotypes against the Latino community. I did resort to generalizations, but I said nothing prejudicial.@Ing"This insistence that Caeser was knowledgeable" I do not recall anyone calling Ceaser knowledgeable. I did say that his understanding is better than most Americans, but we all agree that his level of understanding is lacking. I'm just pointing out that lack of knowledge does not equate with lack of intelligence. A lack of knowledge does not make one stupid or moronic. It means one is ignorant. I presume, considering your education, that you are capable of understanding the difference.What anti-education anti-intellectual line of discussion are you referring to? I have seen no comments that are anti-intellectual or anti-education. Perhaps I missed them, or perhaps you need to work on your reading comprehension."Yeah you know some drop outs who are smarter than some college grads…Therefore all education is worthless and makes no difference." What? That's quite a leap."Oh and John the Cabbie?" Um, that's Johann the Cabbie."Thanks for the implication that I don't work hard and just sit on my ass all day at my job. Way to assume you're better than me because I'm just one of those lazy elitists who have a dun der education."I have said nothing to imply that I consider you to be lazy. Nor do I assume that I am better than you. I am not in the habit of thinking myself better than others. It is rude and arrogant."You're worship of the working man and demonization of skilled labor is noted." I am not demonizing people, either white collar or blue. BTW, skilled labor fits in the blue collar category, as does the working man.I'll try to be very clear, because you seem to have trouble understanding my point. I have nothing against education. On the contrary, I believe education is important, and I am often dismayed by the woeful ignorance of the American people. Though I only have a layman's knowledge of science myself, I have great respect for scientists and admiration for science in general. I have said nothing to decry education or scientific knowledge.My main point is that calling Ceaser stupid because of his lack of education or knowledge is wrong. He may be ignorant, but he is not stupid. Stupid and ignorant are not the same. They are different. Calling Ceaser stupid is an ad hominen attack.And, I consider educated people who look down on the uneducated to be elitist. That does not mean that I consider all educated people to be elitist. Only those who think their advanced degrees make them better than others. And, that includes you.

  66. 66
    Johannthecabbie

    @Ing"This insistence that Caeser was knowledgeable" I do not recall anyone calling Ceaser knowledgeable. I did say that his understanding is better than most Americans, but we all agree that his level of understanding is lacking. I'm just pointing out that lack of knowledge does not equate with lack of intelligence. A lack of knowledge does not make one stupid or moronic. It means one is ignorant. I presume, considering your education, that you are capable of understanding the difference.What anti-education anti-intellectual line of discussion are you referring to? I have seen no comments that are anti-intellectual or anti-education. Perhaps I missed them, or perhaps you need to work on your reading comprehension."Yeah you know some drop outs who are smarter than some college grads…Therefore all education is worthless and makes no difference." What? That's quite a leap."Oh and John the Cabbie?" Um, that's Johann the Cabbie."Thanks for the implication that I don't work hard and just sit on my ass all day at my job. Way to assume you're better than me because I'm just one of those lazy elitists who have a dun der education."I have said nothing to imply that I consider you to be lazy. Nor do I assume that I am better than you. I am not in the habit of thinking myself better than others. It is rude and arrogant."You're worship of the working man and demonization of skilled labor is noted." I am not demonizing people, either white collar or blue. BTW, skilled labor fits in the blue collar category, as does the working man.I'll try to be very clear, because you seem to have trouble understanding my point. I have nothing against education. On the contrary, I believe education is important, and I am often dismayed by the woeful ignorance of the American people. Though I only have a layman's knowledge of science myself, I have great respect for scientists and admiration for science in general. I have said nothing to decry education or scientific knowledge.My main point is that calling Ceaser stupid because of his lack of education or knowledge is wrong. He may be ignorant, but he is not stupid. Stupid and ignorant are not the same. They are different. Calling Ceaser stupid is an ad hominen attack.And, I consider educated people who look down on the uneducated to be elitist. That does not mean that I consider all educated people to be elitist. Only those who think their advanced degrees make them better than others. And, that includes you.

  67. 67
    Johannthecabbie

    @Ing"Thanks for the implication that I don't work hard and just sit on my ass all day at my job. Way to assume you're better than me because I'm just one of those lazy elitists who have a dun der education."I have said nothing to imply that I consider you to be lazy. Nor do I assume that I am better than you. I am not in the habit of thinking myself better than others. It is rude and arrogant."You're worship of the working man and demonization of skilled labor is noted." I am not demonizing people, either white collar or blue. BTW, skilled labor fits in the blue collar category, as does the working man.I'll try to be very clear, because you seem to have trouble understanding my point. I have nothing against education. On the contrary, I believe education is important, and I am often dismayed by the woeful ignorance of the American people. Though I only have a layman's knowledge of science myself, I have great respect for scientists and admiration for science in general. I have said nothing to decry education or scientific knowledge.My main point is that calling Ceaser stupid because of his lack of education or knowledge is wrong. He may be ignorant, but he is not stupid. Stupid and ignorant are not the same. They are different. Calling Ceaser stupid is an ad hominen attack.And, I consider educated people who look down on the uneducated to be elitist. That does not mean that I consider all educated people to be elitist. Only those who think their advanced degrees make them better than others. And, that includes you.

  68. 68
    Plain Simple

    @Johannthecabbie: "I do not like the implication that I am prejudiced. I am not making any negative stereotypes against the Latino community. I did resort to generalizations, but I said nothing prejudicial."Good, I'm glad you don't like the implication that you're prejudiced. So inspect your argument to see if there is really no prejudice in there. I didn't say negative prejudice, but prejudice. To quote Wikipedia (and please let's not get into discussions about the validity of Wikipedia or the role dictionaries play; I'm just quoting it because it saves me the time of explaining what I want to say in my own words):"A prejudice is a prejudgment: i.e. an assumption made about someone or something before having adequate knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy. The word prejudice is most commonly used to refer to a preconceived judgment toward a people or a person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. It also means beliefs without knowledge of the facts[1] and may include "any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence."[2]"With the possible exception of that last sentence, I'd say that's pretty much the nail on the head if it comes to describing your statement.

  69. 69
    Sharon

    Guys, Tracie & Jen weren't calling Cesar ignorant – they said he was using "The Argument from Ignorance" which is a logical fallacy like "the God of the Gaps". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance). When Cesar says "I don't believe or can't see how the laws of chemistry could create a complex structure like the cell", he is basing his opinion on his personal ignorance of the laws of organic chemistry. Unfortunately the ladies weren't very clear when they used the term.Also, it would have been better if only one of them "lead" the debate with Cesar. Matt often passes the question off to his co-host to answer, then adds his own comments at the end of the call. It is easier on the caller and easier to keep track of the flow of the debate when the back & forth is between two people, not three.

  70. 70
    Plain Simple

    @Sharon: I don't think the commenters in here confused the argument from ignorance with general ignorance. The comments were about Tracie or Jen asking for Cesar's educational background followed by what could be interpreted (even though it might not have been intented that way) by a derogatory reaction to his answer.

  71. 71
    Sharon

    Plain Simple, I would have to agree with you. Sometimes they meant "The Argument from Ignorance"; but at one point they talked about his educational background, which would be an ad hominen.It is a very narrow fence – is it an ad hominem to question how someone is qualified to dispute the accepted scientific principles of 99% of the biologists & organic chemists on the planet; or is that just a personal attack putdown?

  72. 72
    Plain Simple

    Sharon, it is not an ad hominem. It would be if they said "we think your arguments are wrong based on your lack of education". That's not what was said. It was more along the lines of "your arguments are wrong because of x, y, and z. How did you come up with them? What's your education?" At least, I think that was the intention, but it was rather prone to misinterpretation.

  73. 73
    Ing

    I have to defend the hosts, again. I don't know about other Unis but at my Alma biochem is a class that requires at least three years of prerequisite classes in order to qualify to take it. Caeser is talking about a subject that is real higher ed in a specialized hard science, it's reasonable to ask with him getting stuff so wrong if he's ever really studied any of the subjects (he has not).Part of my reaction is because I know Caeser is a repeat caller. I remember watching the show when he was a Ray Comfort parrot, and it seems to me that response to his stupid apologetics have just caused him to go out and pick up some lame misunderstandings of science to try to prop up and hide the usual Curt Cameron bullshit. Experience tells that Caeser is not knowledgeable or bright when it comes to science.

  74. 74
    Phil

    @Ing Dude, get a grip. Elitism has a place in the picture when you want elite pilots and elite firemen and so forth. But all you are being elite at is being a douchebag.I don't think cesar is a nimrod, although he does get stuck in the rut sometimes, and some of his notions are simply logically flawed. My point was that I got a lot more value out of listening to cesar talk, than from reading your negative ass posts.Chill the fuck out.

  75. 75
    Ric

    I just love Tracie's disarming smile and wild head of hair. She fixates your stare and makes you think something is going on behind the camera. I guess it must be a fairly surreal thing to do just sitting looking at yourself on a screen and trying to be serious. My dream team is Tracie and Martin whose unfortunately infrequent hilarious takes on the absurdity of misguided ideas are right up there with the best. I loved that comment he made sometime back about someone's foolishness being comparable to a 'great big swinging dick' …he timed it beautifully hahahaha

  76. 76
    Quantum Skeptic

    I just got around to listening to the show today.I was not really expecting it, but I was wondering if there would be any discussion of the book, "Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus," by Joseph Atwill. Ha ha that is about a different Caesar, Titus Flavius, who fulfilled Jesus' prophecy of Jerusalem being encircled and laid low, to the letter and just on time. The idea that the Flavians invented Christianity has been around for a while and is not implausible on its face. I would say it passes all the tests that were provided for rejecting a conspiracy theory. It is really more of an act of government, at that point. But Atwill goes further than previous conjecturors, arguing that not only did the Flavians do the dirty deed, they wanted posterity to appreciate their feat. So, they made it clear by having their propagandist, "Josephus," write a history of the Jewish war that refers to the canonical gospels, and in a way that gets the message across that they were trying to subvert militant messianic Judaism.I like to think that I'm one of the least gullible people around, but I'm convinced that there can be no doubt that Christianity is a deliberate invention of the Roman Flavians. I think this is a very important fact that should be exploited more in the battle against dangerous magical thinking.

  77. 77
    Quantum Skeptic

    I would like to add that I long ago started a discussion about CM on the Iron Chariots discussion board, and it's currently on the front page of general discussion, since I recently updated it with the information that the book can be downloaded for free from esnips. And also my rebuttal of the Richard Price that many people seem to mistakenly think is somehow devastating to the CM thesis. Really he raises no substantive objections. He is simply happy with the old explanations that Christianity arose innocently and genuinely. That is not impossible but seems more unlikely to me than that some people with power and motivation for doing it did it deliberately. Circumstantially, there are many apparent links and similarities between the RCC then and now and the Roman cults of the Caesars.

  78. 78
    snaylor

    While i don't always agree with the attitudes and on the show, I think your program has a lot of value in trying to come to rational mutual understandings. I am an atheist and also what you would probably refer to as a 9ll Truther though I simply suggest looking at all the information will lead to the conclusion that a new and proper inestigation of all the things left out of the official theory needs to be done to get the things that were missed and are often left out of the common explaination. I would suggest any one who is up for the challange to look at the King Street Mural Van video available on youtube. This is the live NYFD conversation on 9/ll reporting a van stopped which had a Plane Flying into NY city and exploding painted on the side driven by foreign nationals who fled the van (but were caught). The van itself is described to have exploded (to what degree I'm not sure). Rational thinking would lead anyone to assume that a van full of explosives in NY on 9/ll which had the days attacks painted on the side most likely had something to do with the attacks 9description of the Van available at the 5:00 mark of the King Street Mural Van video). Once you get to this point and then recognize how many CIA and government whistleblowers are speaking out about foreknowledge of 9/ll as well as the over l300 architects and engineers who are risking their reputations to stand behind the push to do a new and proper investigation of the 3 towers, as well as the coutless amazing coincidences and incredible happeings on 9ll, you should rationaly conclude that at the very least, revisiting the informaton in a proper independent investigation is worthwhile.Please open your mind to the very real possibility that you do not know the full story as to what happened on 9/ll or who carried it out so we can move forward and try and hold people, whoever they are, accountable.

  79. 79
    Martin

    This is an atheism blog, and though I suppose they're related under the general topical umbrella of "skepticism," we'd rather not get into 9/11 conspiracy theories here. Thanks.

  80. 80
    Quantum Skeptic

    Martin, this is after all a conspiracy theory thread, albeit on an atheism blog.Snaylor's post illustrates a point I would ike to make. That is, it is clear beyond a doubt that there was a 911 conspiracy, in the sense that multiple airliners didn't just fly themselves into nearby buildings in NYC coincidentally and independently. Obviously somebody coordinated the events. So there was a conspiracy, the only question is how to characterize it. There are reasonable and much less reasonable and less supported explanations that have been offered about how the conspiracy happened and who was involved (and for the record I want to say that I see no substantial reason not to accept that there's an organization called Al Queida and that they're responsible). But it is often overlooked that the problem with conspiracy theories is not the conspiracy, it's the nature of it. There are crazy conspiracy theories and reasonable ones, and the reasonable ones are perfectly well accepted by most people.Which brings me back to the Caesar's Messiah hypothesis that the christian religion was deliberately created with malice aforethough by the particular people who are known to have executed the encirclement and destruction of Jerusalem and its temple "predicted" by "Jesus," and at exactly the time it was promised. It seems clear to me that this hypothesis is in the realm of the perfectly reasonable conspiracies. Indeed it is a conspiracy but so is any act of government, which it was if Atwill has it right. We can know that it did happen that way because there is a historical written record that can't be reasonably interpreted any other way (that is, the mutual references between Josephus and the gospels and vice versa) and the nonexistense of any directly refuting evidence, and a vast amount of corroborating and circumstantial evidence. Plus, the alternative theory, that christianity arose innocently, was always unlikely itself and is contradicted by evidence such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, that show an indigenous religion that is only the militant messianic Judaism the Romans wanted to replace, not actual christianity. The messiah of the DSS is nothing like Jesus the Christ. It's actually easy to draw parallels between the CM hypothesis and the Al Queada hypothesis for 911. In both cases we have an organization that routinely performs the kinds of feats attributed to them. For Al Queada, it's terrorist acts, for the Romans it is that they had a bureaucracy for creating and administering religions through the cults of the Caesars. The second parallel is that there are undisputed historical links between the events and the proposed perpetrators. We have put Al Queada people in the plane cockpits and we know Titus was at Jerusalem. A third parallel is that both groups claimed responsibilty. Understanding this will probably require people to read CM but if you want to cut to the chase read chapter 8, "Until All is Fulfilled," to see how Josephus has events and characters in his history (which after all is official Flavian propaganda, undisputably) fulfill the prophecies of Jesus of the gospels. I don't believe there can be any other reasonable explanation than that the Flavians invented Christianity as a replacement theology for militant messianic judaism, and that they wanted to claim credit for doing so. To read that chapter you just have to go to esnips dot com and search "atwill caesar." If you register (it's free) you can download the whole book. Atwill doesn't object because it's out of print now anyhow.

  81. 81
    Quantum Skeptic

    I hope my previous comment made it up. I got an error message. This is supposed to be just a follow up with a link, not just a spam link.http://www.esnips.com/doc/b67761f4-ecd2-423a-93a0-0ff2b9eb6149/Joseph-Atwill—Caesars-Messiah—The-Roman-Conspiracy-to-Invent-Jesus

  82. 82
    Quantum Skeptic

    Dammit there was a long and well-reasoned post prior to the link post! I will try to reconstitute it later. In the meantime, I recommend going right to chapter 8, "Until All is Fulfilled," to understand how Josephus refers to the gospels. This proves that the Flavians new of the gospels, and were claiming that Titus Flavius was fulfilling Jesus' prophecies, as of course he indisputably did.

  83. 83
    Quantum Skeptic

    Knew of not new of, apologies.

  84. 84
    Quantum Skeptic

    My post never made it up, but it somehow got sent to me nonetheless through the notification system, so here it is:Martin, this is after all a conspiracy theory thread, albeit on an atheism blog.Snaylor's post illustrates a point I would ike to make. That is, it is clear beyond a doubt that there was a 911 conspiracy, in the sense that multiple airliners didn't just fly themselves into nearby buildings in NYC coincidentally and independently. Obviously somebody coordinated the events. So there was a conspiracy, the only question is how to characterize it. There are reasonable and much less reasonable and less supported explanations that have been offered about how the conspiracy happened and who was involved (and for the record I want to say that I see no substantial reason not to accept that there's an organization called Al Queida and that they're responsible). But it is often overlooked that the problem with conspiracy theories is not the conspiracy, it's the nature of it. There are crazy conspiracy theories and reasonable ones, and the reasonable ones are perfectly well accepted by most people.Which brings me back to the Caesar's Messiah hypothesis that the christian religion was deliberately created with malice aforethough by the particular people who are known to have executed the encirclement and destruction of Jerusalem and its temple "predicted" by "Jesus," and at exactly the time it was promised. It seems clear to me that this hypothesis is in the realm of the perfectly reasonable conspiracies. Indeed it is a conspiracy but so is any act of government, which it was if Atwill has it right. We can know that it did happen that way because there is a historical written record that can't be reasonably interpreted any other way (that is, the mutual references between Josephus and the gospels and vice versa) and the nonexistense of any directly refuting evidence, and a vast amount of corroborating and circumstantial evidence. Plus, the alternative theory, that christianity arose innocently, was always unlikely itself and is contradicted by evidence such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, that show an indigenous religion that is only the militant messianic Judaism the Romans wanted to replace, not actual christianity. The messiah of the DSS is nothing like Jesus the Christ. It's actually easy to draw parallels between the CM hypothesis and the Al Queada hypothesis for 911. In both cases we have an organization that routinely performs the kinds of feats attributed to them. For Al Queada, it's terrorist acts, for the Romans it is that they had a bureaucracy for creating and administering religions through the cults of the Caesars. The second parallel is that there are undisputed historical links between the events and the proposed perpetrators. We have put Al Queada people in the plane cockpits and we know Titus was at Jerusalem. A third parallel is that both groups claimed responsibilty. Understanding this will probably require people to read CM but if you want to cut to the chase read chapter 8, "Until All is Fulfilled," to see how Josephus has events and characters in his history (which after all is official Flavian propaganda, undisputably) fulfill the prophecies of Jesus of the gospels. I don't believe there can be any other reasonable explanation than that the Flavians invented Christianity as a replacement theology for militant messianic judaism, and that they wanted to claim credit for doing so. To read that chapter you just have to go to esnips dot com and search "atwill caesar." If you register (it's free) you can download the whole book. Atwill doesn't object because it's out of print now anyhow.

  85. 85
    Quantum Skeptic

    My post never made it up, but it somehow got sent to me nonetheless through the notification system, so here it is:Martin, this is after all a conspiracy theory thread, albeit on an atheism blog.Snaylor's post illustrates a point I would ike to make. That is, it is clear beyond a doubt that there was a 911 conspiracy, in the sense that multiple airliners didn't just fly themselves into nearby buildings in NYC coincidentally and independently. Obviously somebody coordinated the events. So there was a conspiracy, the only question is how to characterize it. There are reasonable and much less reasonable and less supported explanations that have been offered about how the conspiracy happened and who was involved (and for the record I want to say that I see no substantial reason not to accept that there's an organization called Al Queida and that they're responsible). But it is often overlooked that the problem with conspiracy theories is not the conspiracy, it's the nature of it. There are crazy conspiracy theories and reasonable ones, and the reasonable ones are perfectly well accepted by most people.Which brings me back to the Caesar's Messiah hypothesis that the christian religion was deliberately created with malice aforethough by the particular people who are known to have executed the encirclement and destruction of Jerusalem and its temple "predicted" by "Jesus," and at exactly the time it was promised. It seems clear to me that this hypothesis is in the realm of the perfectly reasonable conspiracies. Indeed it is a conspiracy but so is any act of government, which it was if Atwill has it right. We can know that it did happen that way because there is a historical written record that can't be reasonably interpreted any other way (that is, the mutual references between Josephus and the gospels and vice versa) and the nonexistense of any directly refuting evidence, and a vast amount of corroborating and circumstantial evidence. Plus, the alternative theory, that christianity arose innocently, was always unlikely itself and is contradicted by evidence such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, that show an indigenous religion that is only the militant messianic Judaism the Romans wanted to replace, not actual christianity. The messiah of the DSS is nothing like Jesus the Christ. (end of post part 1)

  86. 86
    Quantum Skeptic

    (post part 2)It's actually easy to draw parallels between the CM hypothesis and the Al Queada hypothesis for 911. In both cases we have an organization that routinely performs the kinds of feats attributed to them. For Al Queada, it's terrorist acts, for the Romans it is that they had a bureaucracy for creating and administering religions through the cults of the Caesars. The second parallel is that there are undisputed historical links between the events and the proposed perpetrators. We have put Al Queada people in the plane cockpits and we know Titus was at Jerusalem. A third parallel is that both groups claimed responsibilty. Understanding this will probably require people to read CM but if you want to cut to the chase read chapter 8, "Until All is Fulfilled," to see how Josephus has events and characters in his history (which after all is official Flavian propaganda, undisputably) fulfill the prophecies of Jesus of the gospels. I don't believe there can be any other reasonable explanation than that the Flavians invented Christianity as a replacement theology for militant messianic judaism, and that they wanted to claim credit for doing so. To read that chapter you just have to go to esnips dot com and search "atwill caesar." If you register (it's free) you can download the whole book. Atwill doesn't object because it's out of print now anyhow.

  87. 87
    Vincent

    I can agree with you on some of the 9-11 claims and conspiracies regarding Zeitgeist parts 2, 3 & addendum but, I cannot agree with hardly anything you've said about ZG part 1. I've done my own research long before the Zeitgeist movie was ever heard of and your claims are wrong – embarrassingly wrong and you're embarrassing all atheists by repeating the nonsense I've seen in your youtube video #634. The comments there by 'Hercules2345' proved that.I notice that most here at the atheist experience consistently commit the fallacy of 'guilt by association' by conflating part 1/Acharya S with everything else. Acharya S had nothing to do with parts 2 or 3. She has consistently substantiated part 1 when it has come from her own work and I've yet to see anyone here go to her website or videos or forum or read any of her books or even make any attempt to contact her at all. So, the anti-Acharya S position here is about as intellectually dishonest as it gets. As an atheist, I find your website & videos regarding ZG1 & Acharya S a monumental disappointment that isn't any better than fundy Xians. Take that as constructive criticism. If you have any interest in being honest invite her on your show via the phone or something but, it would be wise if you knew her work first or you will look like a dumb-ass. Or do a show on her mythicist position. Read Acharya's Frequently Asked Questions at her Freethought Nation forum. Read this FAQ & you'll see why atheists should not be SMEARING her: "Do atheists disagree with Acharya's basic premise?"Search for the "Zeitgeist Part 1 & the Supportive Evidence" thread and the post "The New ZEITGEIST Part 1 Sourcebook (2010)"Ciao

  88. 88
    OneAmatoryScam

    [Look, people, was I speaking fucking Swahili? DO NOT DEBATE 9/11 THEORIES IN COMMENT THREADS THAT ARE NOT ABOUT 9/11! The banhammer comes down on the next person who ignores this. —Martin]

    Addendum: Okay, I only looked very quickly in the moderation queue, and originally thought this comment was in the “closed-minded” thread. But as the show thread here isn’t really about 9/11 either, I’ve canned the comment. It never fails that people posting various 9/11 Truther theories inevitably turn a comment thread into hundreds and hundreds of increasingly flamey posts berating one another, and I don’t want that to happen here. —MW

    1. 88.1
      Russell Glasser

      Martin: Plus, it was the same giant cut and paste job that this guy tried to post on another thread, and you moderated it down there too. Arguing by YouTube links is never cool.

      1. OneAmatoryScam

        I am the original author of the entire post, and it was written originally for the thread on the closed-minded accusation. I pasted it here as I thought this was an entirely appropriate place for it.

        This thread is titled “Open Thread for #679″. Does that not imply it is open to all topics related to the show? Was the show not specifically about conspiracy theories, with a significant portion dedicated to 9/11 conspiracy theories?

        Arguing by YouTube links is never cool.
        I could burn the video file directly from the NIST dataset release and offer to mail it to anyone interested on a cd, but pointing to where these clips have already been uploaded just seems a bit more practical. Did you look at any of the links? I’m not pointing you to others’ arguments – I’m saying “I’m going to talk about molten metal now, and if you need to verify for yourself that it was there, see for yourself in this video.” Most of these don’t even have any commentary.

        I didn’t and don’t intend to make any flamey posts – I’m interested in a rational debate.

        If you just don’t want me posting anything pro-9/11 conspiracy theory anywhere on your ftb, just say so and I won’t.

        1. Martin Wagner

          If I had my druthers, we wouldn’t talk about 9/11 conspiracies on the show either, mainly because we are — presumably — The Atheist Experience — and thus we should deal with matters theological. I’ll grant that the same principles of skepticism and critical thinking apply when discussing conspiracists, and that many atheists have strong views (wholly independent of their atheism) on 9/11. However, I see 9/11 theories as in the same ballpark as “Who Killed JFK?” theories: related under the umbrella of skepticism in general, but not atheism in particular. (By the same token, it would be appropriate to discuss the intelligent design movement and its various absurd “Big Science” conspiracy craziness, as that’s an area that directly relates to people’s beliefs about God and origins.)

          If we were a general skepticism show like SGU or Point of Inquiry, I’d be willing to bend a little more.

          My main problem with 9/11 comment threads — irrespective of their being off-topic in regards to religious matters — is what I see as their utter futility. A Truther posts his views with extensive links, a handful of people turn up to tell him he’s full of shit, the Truther responds defensively, everyone doubles down, flamewar and thread derailment ensues. Again, this is probably the kind of thing that a number of online forums thrive upon. I just prefer not to see it here. I disagree with the appropriateness of discussing 9/11 theories on our TV show, and I really don’t like to see our comment threads descend into angry chaos. I mean no offense but this is just how I feel about the matter. Sorry.

  89. 89
    tloano

    I just stumbled on AE vids on YouTube recently and have been having marathon viewings. This is the only video which made me want to ask a question. Show 679, Cesar speaking with Jen and Harris, at 46:30 the discussion turns to beauty. Beauty can be measured by measuring the brain response to something perceived as beautiful and the energy can be quantified. Therefore, beauty (or the conception of it and its magnitude) manifests in a manner which can be measured, thus beauty exists, thus God also exists for the same reason? I had never thought about it before but I guess beauty doesn’t exist, only my impression of what is beatiful exists.

    Just because I can imagine a spaceship operated by very intelligent grasshoppers (VIG) doesn’t make them real, therefore, although you can monitor my brain while I’m thinking about it, and measure the energy consumed, you don’t necessarily say that that energy consumed is proof of VIG. Therefore, there is no actual beauty. Beauty is the intangible perception that something is beautiful. Perceptions are made of energy (brain activity) but the fact that this manifestation occurs doesn’t mean that the subject is real. If possible, even Hitlers mother could look on his face and see all the beauty and promise of a happy, healthy son, while millions of others would see something almost opposite.

    We’ve all experienced meeting someone we thought was incredibly beautiful but once you get to know them, you don’t see them as beautiful at all, although their appearance may have actually improved according to your standards. Beauty doesn’t exist. The perception that something is beautiful does exist and is measurable.

    VIG doesn’t exist. The perception that VIG are really good at star-fighter maneuvers does exist and is measurable.

    The episode left me hanging a little and didn’t spoon feed me the answer I’m used to getting. Waaaa. I love the show. Extremely seldom have I ever been able to hear open honest discussions of these concepts which were implanted in my soft little skull as a youth. I’ve ALWAYS questioned them but have ALWAYS been disueded. I love the show.

    Debate wins battles for a side, but open, honest discussion on all sides with the willingness to admit errors and accept correction wins the war for everyone.

  90. 90
    Dave Peres

    My beef is the continued abuse of the term, “theory”, as in calling all alternative ideas “theories”. NO, if they’re not backed by evidence, they’d rightly be labeled “conspiracy HYPOTHESES”. Until the people who create their fanciful ideas come up with a shred of proof to support their ideas, then they need to be called on the carpet for daring to use the word, “theory”.

    Just as Richard Dawkins rightly calls theists on the carpet for labeling theology as a theory (vs a God hypothesis), then the same should be applied for conspiracists.

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