Jul 23 2011

God-based Abortion Policy: FAIL (Open thread on episode 719)

I’m going to talk about abortion again this week. This time, I’m taking a completely different tactic. I’m going to apply my own personal moral principles to the problem and see how well I do against those of the religious right, supposedly backed by their god.

Guess which one will come out objectively better? Hopefully, this leaves the question of why an individual atheist is doing better than American Christendom backed by the Author of morality.

Feel free to treat this as an open thread on episode 719.

Postscript: I found out late that Greg Paul was to be a special guest caller on the show, so I wasn’t able to get to my topic. I’ll save it for next time.


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  1. 1

    Christian Terrorism and the Andrew Berwick manifesto by far the top story.

  2. 2

    I hope you bring up the hypocrisy of Christians being against stem cell research yet not having an incubation program for abandonned embryos. The "snowflake" children are "adopted" by couples that can't have children. Why aren't other so-called Christian women volunteering their wombs for these "babies?" Think of all the nuns who could experience something akin to immaculate conception for God's cause!

  3. 3

    It's about putting religious doctrine in the bedroom. If sex and marriage is controled by the church then the church has untold control over society. Christian fundamentalists couldn't care less about embryos or fetuses. It comes down to tactics and battlegrounds for furthering the cult.

  4. 4

    (Some) christians opposing stem cell research is quite hypocritical. It's just a trend, a fashion. Decades ago christians opposed in vitro fertilization for the exact same reasons ("they are playing god"). Today almost no christian opposes it anymore, and in fact many resort to it and other fertility treatments. The stem cell research is just the latest fad. Hypocrites.

  5. 5

    Yes, but if there is no God, who did you get your morals from?

  6. 6

    As a Christian said on a comment thread elsewhere today, moral dilemmas do not exist when you have divine inspiration. He stated unequivocally that he is spiritually, ergo morally, infallible.The moment you present a moral dilemma with regard to propagated Christian morality (frozen embryos and a little girl in a burning building; lying to nazis to save hidden Jews; causing the death of an innocent person to save another) there are four possible responses I've come across:a) run away, ignoring the question was ever posedb) condemning the dilemma as unrealistic or disgusting, then a)c) claiming moral infallibility and therefore the nonexistence of dilemmasd) acknowledging that undifferentiated commands or laws can not resolve all possible or even likely situations and that the Ten Commandments or similar sets of rules are too simplistic to be useful in more than a very broad and arbitrary sense, and do not improve moral perception beyond sane, innate and developed empathyGuess which one I've never seen from Christians.

  7. 7

    @Felix There is no forumula involved. Christians reason morality mostly the same as any non-believer or any other religion, even if they don't admit it. Christians are also the beneficiary of secular morality. It's really only a few issues they get hung up about.

  8. 8

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2011/06/27/do-they-really-believe-abortion-is-murder/Snip:"…the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to punish women who have sex."

  9. 9

    I've heard the point raised that anti-abortion laws are a violation of the 14th amendment outlawing slavery because, by mandating what a woman can or cannot do with her body, you have reduced her to the condition of slavery. I think it's an interesting position to discuss.

  10. 10

    Bob from Austin's voice sounds incredibly like Mark from Austin Stone Church…

  11. 11

    Was a pretty good episode. Silly theist trying to use pascal's wager on us in the chatroom.

  12. 12

    In case anyone's wondering, the last caller (if I recall correctly) was talking about that 210 IQ guy's proof here:http://ctmu.org/ and you click on "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe.", because apparently he's not smart enough to have a bookmarkable separate page and not have the entire page a stupid iframe.I've occasionally pondered if I was masochistic enough to tackle it. The tactic seems to be to make yourself so incoherent with big words that when no one can refute it, it therefore has "won".The one thing that "smart" people should be able to do really well is explain something they've figured out to those who don't understand yet – not crank the gibberish up to 11.(Seems appropriate that my captcha code was "wooff")

  13. 13

    Read the paper. It's basically explains a lot of irrelevant concepts from maths, discreet maths, computer science, information theory and then concludes with the non-sequiter: therefore god exists. It even uses a diagram to prove that 1 + (-1) = 0. Absolutely brilliant.

  14. 14

    The smartest man in America crashed my browser with his brilliant web design, which is no doubt the wave of the future, and the 150-I.Q. imbeciles at the Mozilla Foundation just don't get it.

  15. 15

    My captcha was "reascedg", which I'm pretty sure is an initialism used on page tl;dr of CTMU.

  16. 16

    I remember us discussing the CTMU argument about Chris Langan in the thread "In which Mike demonstrates once and for all that god exists".

  17. 17
    Improbable Joe

    BOB was "Mark from Austin Stone"… right? What a creep.

  18. 18

    Let me point of this movie that you should watch about fanatic Christians versus sciencehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agora_(film)Thanks to those wonderful evangalist, the works Great Library of Alexandria were burnt and a scientist and labeled a witch and killed. The poor was forced to accept religion and reject science and wait for the 2nd coming (way back in 200 AD). 1800 years later the 2nd Coming has not arrived.In fact thanks to all the "witches" mankind can survive the 2nd Coming. Question: What is the difference between religion and witchcraft?

  19. 19
    David McNerney

    I didn't get to the end of that proof thing because the holes were starting to upset me.First, he seems to be equivocating between "The Universe" as in the physical or material universe we exist in and the "The Universe" as in everything – which is a basic "nothing from nothing" argument.Second, he's talking about self-including sets, which is all well and good, but then he's subject to Russell's (Bertrand, not Glasser) Paradox of self-inclusive sets – which is axiomatically solved by building not self-inclusion into the definition of the term 'set'. (I think the expression of this paradox is demonstrated by the question: which set contains God? If God is outside the set, then the set is not U – and if God is inside the set, then who created the set?)But my IQ isn't up in the double centuries – so I could have this completely wrong.

  20. 20

    Yes, Bob from Austin was Mark from Austin Stone. I believe that cements his status as nothing more than a troll.

  21. 21

    There is no evidence that Bob was Austin Stone Mark. I spent a cumulative 45 minutes talking to the guy and it really didn't sound like him to me. The accent is different. The argumentation style was different. Every time we get two people on whose voices have a similar pitch, we get wild speculations that they are the same person. You could assume that Mark was just a fictional character all along invented by a Mel Blanc-like person who does cartoon voiceovers, but I'd say that is a more extraordinary claim than the alternative.

  22. 22

    A quick googling found this:http://anamericanatheist.org/2011/04/07/my-criticism-of-chris-langans-ctmu-theory/I am far from a scientist, and am poor at math, but I'd call this check and mate on CTMU.

  23. 23

    I got about this far before I got mad at the guy:"Not only is every formal or working theory of science and mathematics by definition a language, but science and mathematics in whole and in sum are languages. Everything that can be described or conceived, including every structure or process or law, is isomorphic to a description or definition and therefore qualifies as a language, and every sentient creature constantly affirms the linguistic structure of nature by exploiting syntactic isomorphism to perceive, conceptualize and refer to it. Even cognition and perception are languages based on what Kant might have called “phenomenal syntax”. With logic and mathematics counted among its most fundamental syntactic ingredients, language defines the very structure of information."There are so many problems with this one paragraph that it's hard to get into them all without spending more time than it's worth tearing it apart, but I'll say a couple things. First of all, science and mathematics are not languages (unless you redefine "language" specifically to include science and mathematics). Languages are symbolic, and communicatively focused, and while mathematical notation and discourse meet these criteria, math itself does not. One and one equal two regardless of whether there is a mind to conceive of one or two or a language to speak about them. He's committing both a fallacy of equivocation (in equating references with referents) and a fallacy of division (in treating units of language, e.g. "description[s] or definition[s]" as languages in and of themselves) throughout this paragraph. Based on the other critiques I'm seeing of his "theory", he does similar stuff throughout, abusing terminology to get where he wants to go and hoping nobody notices.

  24. 24

    @simmsI was struck with the same thought so I listened to the two back-to-back. Now I'm more convinced. Since this is such a contentious issue, we absolutely must send in tapes to be analyzed by people trained to spot badly faked southern accents. This is too important to leave hanging…

  25. 25

    Yeah "Bob" is definitely the same guy that's behind the "Mark character"… I thought it was obvious and that Matt and Don just played along, for some reason. :\ Think this is the recipie for his characters:- Starts of abit "aggresive" in his tone.- A character that hasnt really thought about his belives and puts his faith on the shoulders of others. – Brings up pretty easy to debunk arguments, and then quickly caves in on them when challenged."Bob" will keep calling, and just like "Mark", he will (relatively fast) turn more and more atheistic… At least thats my prediction ^^

  26. 26

    Tue: I assume you have some kind of evidence for this claim now, apart from simply repeating the assertion in the hopes that it will become true.

  27. 27

    Yeah can we drop the "this caller is definitely that guy(Mark)" discussions….who cares? If we find out that it is Mark somewhere down the road, then that will be something to discuss. But I would much rather talk about some of the other topics discussed in yesterday's show. Like this Chris Langan guy and his CTMU "theory". I've tried finding some detailed analysis around the web of his "theory", but haven't found anything but forum discussions, and a simple analysis by American atheist. Other than that not much. It seems like no professional scientists or philosophers really take this guy and his theory seriously.

  28. 28

    http://www.iscid.org/papers/Langan_CTMU_092902.pdfFeel free to read the 56 pages that's nothing but Argumentum verbosium and word play.I'll save you the trouble of reading all 56 pages of nonsense with 2 words:Intelligent Design.

  29. 29

    @Kazim Why do you think I want it to be true? I dont like "prank callers" :\

  30. 30

    I don't know why you would want it to be true. Why do you keep insisting it's "obvious" without supplying any actual evidence other than vague correlation?

  31. 31

    @Kazim Havn't you ever recognised a frequent caller by their voice before? I know you said you don't think it sounds like him, but to my ears its the same voice (and the same act). I like you guys, and I dont like when people I like gets fooled, that's why I felt like commenting and suggest that you be on your guard with him if he calls back.

  32. 32

    Chris Langan's life story has all the elements of a self-congratulatory fable exceeded only by L. Ron Hubbard, and even if I took him at his word, the fact of the matter is, he's self-taught at absolutely everything. He obviously has a high opinion of himself and his own intellect, so to my mind this is a man who has never been confronted with a single contradictory idea in his life. His "education" is one big long exercise in confirmation bias. He's in a perfect position to edit out of his education anything that disagrees with any of his beliefs. I'm quite sure he believes the CTMU is unassailable, no matter how many times people blow giant gaping holes in it.

  33. 33

    Tue: Yes I have, and after all the time I spent talking with Mark I would recognize him. It's not him.

  34. 34
    John K.

    I am just not masochistic enough to wade through 56 pages of language that is intentionally designed to scare off dissenters. I really doubt this argument is why the caller believes in god if he cannot even give a rundown of it. I don’t have a problem with an appeal to an expert in fields you do not study, but don’t get all glassy eyed as soon as someone says “quantum physics”.Besides, an entirely philosophical proof, even one that uses mathematics or advanced physics theories, does not prove anything in reality. It remains in the hypothesis stage of scientific inquiry. Get back to me after making a prediction with your theory and experimentally verifying it. I may not be able to comment on the airplane schematics, but if you can build and fly one around I can infer the schematics have something worthwhile on them, not before.

  35. 35

    An IQ of 210, huh?Now THAT requires a different universe (one that is god itself by convience)

  36. 36

    "Bob from Austin's voice sounds incredibly like Mark from Austin Stone Church… "When the phone quality is sub par all but the most extreme outliers sound similar.

  37. 37

    @RusselI think people have…skepticism/lack of faith in the screening booth due to the number of times Charlie has gotten through. You ready to feel stupid!?

  38. 38

    I must admit I've been wondering what's going on in our most excellent crew's heads, that they keep letting Charlie through screening. Last time I was on, I made a simple suggestion to keep him out, which was to refuse to accept calls from anyone who gives the screener a phony name like "Truth Hurts" or "Evolved Atheist." Why this easy-to-grasp idea isn't being acted upon is something of a mystery to me. I mean, it isn't very sensible to answer a call like that, and think to yourself, "Gee, the last five times someone called in and gave us a fake name, it was Charlie. But maybe this time it'll be someone different! We'll put him on."

  39. 39

    I'm not sure whether it sounds different on the hosts end of the line, but it seems that viewers have caught on with callers and their aliases faster than the hosts can.Like many others, I was very surprised that no one picked up on the fact that it was Charlie calling last week. You could tell from the very first sentence that it was him.Same thing with this week, as soon as "Bob" started talking I thought "this is fucking Mark," I was positive that the hosts would recognize it but they never brought it up.Kazim (who is Russell right?) seems to be irritated and asking for more "evidence" that it is him. I'm not positive it's him, but I'm reasonably certain from hearing the voice that it was "Mark" trying to sound like someone else.

  40. 40

    beginning to wonder why I bother, but A quick googling found this:http://anamericanatheist.org/2011/04/07/my-criticism-of-chris-langans-ctmu-theory/I am far from a scientist, and am poor at math, but I'd call this check and mate on CTMU.

  41. 41
    Tom Foss

    Before we get too far into Chris Langan's insanity, here's a point that MikeTheInfidel found last time Langan came up: "This is fucking hilarious. Langan's claim to being the smartest man in America is based on an IQ test he took IN OMNI MAGAZINE, which was called "the world's hardest IQ test."" It's hilarious, and it underscores Langan's crankery.

  42. 42

    Hypothetically, all IQ tests should produce the same results, I would think.I'm a fundamentalist firm believer in Mark. To anyone who doubts that it's Mark. The evidence that it is, is faith. THEN, you will get the evidence that it's Mark.

  43. 43

    Tom: I agree with you that he's probably a crank (or perhaps a very committed Poe/Sokal), but it doesn't really matter if he took his IQ test off the back of a box of Kix, and it would be an ad hominem to say otherwise.On the other hand, he's kind of in the same boat by continuously bringing up his own amazing intellect (even if he had taken a different test, or had graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, or whatever), when what really matters is the quality of one's ideas and the evidence presented to support one's claims.

  44. 44

    Nah, it was worth it to allow Check'm Charlie back on just so we'd have the pleasure of hanging up on his fractally bigoted ass. Twice!!!

  45. 45

    I think it's entirely fair to point out his primary characteristic may primarily bunk. Much like "Dr" Hovind and his thesis. This guy may very well be the the brightest bulb on broadway or he could be entirely the creation of a credulous media. Personally I find that question more interesting than someone who thinks they can show me that god exists with pen and paper.

  46. 46

    Re the whole Bob/Mark thing, I would be very surprised if Bob turned out to be Mike, just because it would make no sense whatsoever. Why would a prankster make the effort to call in several times as one guy, gradually come around to different viewpoints (if not necessarily accepting all of them), stop, then call back in again as someone else to start from square one? Cui bono?

  47. 47

    I have some question about this Chris Langan guy:* Did he only ever take the one IQ test, besides the one where he supposedly got a score that was higher than the test actually measures?* Did he do it in the presence of an unbiased observer of some sort?* Has anyone asked him to retake another test lately?

  48. 48

    This episode was very good. I especially liked how your discussion with Greg Paul was short but full of substance. I also personally thoroughly enjoyed watching Matt take down that absurd caller in the end. I hope that little pause he gave in the end was some semblance of rational thought taking hold.

  49. 49

    @CCH My guess (GUESS, Russell ;)) is that he is an atheist, that does it to make "YouTube-worthy" calls, and maybe even create attention to the Atheist Experience. Think it was thanks to a Mark-call that Dawkins got in contact with the group……Or could be the much simpler explanation that he's an attention whore. :P (Yay, occam's razor FTW)The reason I think he made a new character was because, at the end the hosts didn't really give "Mark" any air time. (which I thought was the right decision).

  50. 50
    Anna Bucci

    To get past the call screeners, they just need to get some different guy on to talk to the screeners and then the real guy can get on after.

  51. 51

    Russell:Based on his wiki entry, he took another test for 20/20 in 1999, and that one was supervised by a neuropsychologist. I don't know whether he's taken another one recently, but the CTMU wasn't written recently either.

  52. 52

    Russell — A few months ago, Langan came to visit in the comment section of Mark Chu-Carroll's "Good Math, Bad Math" blog. You can see his manifest dishonesty here:http://scientopia.org/blogs/goodmath/2011/02/11/another-crank-comes-to-visit-the-cognitive-theoretic-model-of-the-universe/

  53. 53

    I learned about Langan through a documentary on genius'.His genius status is based on an IQ test. An IQ test he took 20ish years ago, out of a magazine, that there is no record of except from his own account.The fact that this person is known of, or referred to as a genius, is simply a testament to peoples gullibility. The fact that Theists refer to his argument as 100% proof of God is a testament to how people will believe anything if it's peppered with science lingo they don't understand, and confirm what they believe. I personally thought the guy calling in was Mark, but I'll suspend that judgement based on Russel's opinion of having talked to him, and the fact that people with similar tone can sound exactly the same through bad phone quality. Regardless, Matt should've torn this guy a new one for basing a belief on something he can't understand or repeat. He clearly knows nothing about the argument, except "it's done with math."

  54. 54

    @OnceProudKnightWhat should be done every time someone brings up CTMU is to ask him/her if he/she can explain what the "theory" (which is only a theory in a colloqueal sense, because theories aren't "proofs". They're not even evidence. They're the result of evidence/demonstration) is in a nutshell. If they can't, why do they think it's a proof?At that point, they're just taking someone's word for it. It couldn't be anything else if they know nothing about it.

  55. 55

    Bob IS/WAS Mark. Period.If you couldn't hear that the southern flavor of his accent was painted on, I really don't know what to tell you. He even dropped it a time or two, tipping his cards completely. I can't believe this is even being discussed. It WAS him.

  56. 56

    I can't believe anyone cares whether or not it was Mark. By the way, your insistence that it WAS him holds as much weight as a theists insistence that the feeling/vision/hallucination he experienced WAS God talking to him. Unless you have some real evidence you are just guessing. How can supposed skeptics have such bad fact checking habits? Oh, and, good show! Putting certain words in ALL CAPS always makes something true.

  57. 57


  58. 58
    Warren Grubb

    OMG, don't you all see? "Tue" is actually Mark and Bob!!! He's practically begging you to acknowledge his greatness.

  59. 59
    Tom Foss

    JT: Hypothetically, all IQ tests should produce the same results, I would think.If they've been properly validated. Psychological tests are developed in such a way that researchers can have confidence that the test actually measures what they want to measure, and produces results that can be used for comparison. If Langan's claims came from the Wechsler or Stanford-Binet tests, it might carry some weight. That his claims are based on a test from a magazine, with no expected standard of validity, means that the claims are based on essentially nothing. Eyedunno: Tom: I agree with you that he's probably a crank (or perhaps a very committed Poe/Sokal), but it doesn't really matter if he took his IQ test off the back of a box of Kix, and it would be an ad hominem to say otherwise.No, if Langan is being billed as the smartest person alive based on the equivalent of a Facebook Quiz, then it's not ad hominem to point out the baselessness of that claim. It would be ad hominem to say "Langan took his test in a magazine, therefore he's wrong about God," but it is not at all ad hominem–not even fallacious!–to say that Langan's claims to being the smartest man alive are unsubstantiated and spurious.

  60. 60

    @Warren Grubb Yes, now obey me! >:D

  61. 61

    @ JAFisher44I understand what you're driving at, and agree with you insofar as cold hard evidence is concerned, however, the accent dropping does qualify as evidence, just not smoking gun grade, however that combined with the vocal fluctuations (mark had/has extremely idiosyncratic rises and falls/buckles in his larynx which this caller either does not or cannot mask) begins shoving the arrow to a certain degree of confidence in his direction.

  62. 62

    No, if Langan is being billed as the smartest person alive based on the equivalent of a Facebook Quiz, then it's not ad hominem to point out the baselessness of that claim. It would be ad hominem to say "Langan took his test in a magazine, therefore he's wrong about God,"Fair enough. I took it as the latter though. And in any case, he has broken the ceiling on "legit" IQ tests too.

  63. 63

    Look, Chris Langan is the smartest man on earth, as he constantly repeats on Youtube and various websites, so his CTMU theory of everything must be taken seriously. Essentially, he says that reality is a superset of all sets, therefore entropy is the process of the universe gaining sentience, which he calls God. Humans are actually God's brain cells.He also says since this cannot be disproved, even by PhD's (he is a college drop-out, not that that affects the value of his theory), it stands as the single most profound truth in the universe (again, a set of all sets, or some such thing).Virtually the entire math/set theory community has labelled him a crackpot who spews word-salad, but he claims that is further proof of his genius.

  64. 64

    As an addendum, Langan may indeed have the highest IQ in the world, but that does not mean he can jump to the top of advanced mathematical concepts without doing the years of work to get there. As one of the posters on the Math site linked above said, high IQ is necessary but not sufficient for understanding theoretical mathematics. It takes years of work. Virtually all math geeks are smart, many brilliant, but even Feynman had to study for years and even Einstein had a strong background in math (contrary to popular opinion). So parroting some terms found in Set Theory papers does not make you a set theory expert, or the first human to understand the true nature of reality (one of his claims).And methinks the creators of the holographic universe idea tread before him.But he works as a bouncer in a bar (source: TV interview on Youtube), so I would not want to argue the point with him in a dark alley.

  65. 65

    While we are on the subject of intelligence, 50% of Americans have a below average intelligence. And roughly 50% of Americans are politically conservative. Coincidence? (heh, heh).

  66. 66
    Leisha Camden

    I can't believe this is even being discussed. It WAS him.So what?

  67. 67

    Every polite male christian is Mark in pseudonym. Mark has become an archetype. Ha!One possibility: he is a highly paid apologist whose mission is to call into Atheist shows, using a variety of identities, to argue with atheists in order to make the atheist community so paranoid, they will see Mark behind every rock.OR, he is really Martin. Come on, Martin, come clean. You are Mark, right? Driving up ratings.

  68. 68

    mostserene1:As an addendum, Langan may indeed have the highest IQ in the world, but that does not mean he can jump to the top of advanced mathematical concepts without doing the years of work to get thereThere's even a TV Trope that specifically describes that.Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!If a character is zapped with an Intelligence Ray, they will suddenly know everything, despite the fact that they never learned it. This could be Justified by saying they uploaded someone else's brainwave pattern etc. into their brains, and therefore know everything that person knows, or that they evolved into a telepath and just sucked up some other people's book learnin', but often it's not. Often, they just give the person the Applied Phlebotinum, and that person knows everything. Period. No explanation. Not even a Hand Wave. No depictions of them actually learning the information. A Wizard Did It. Usually, this trope goes hand in hand with TV Genius.Despite what the name might suggest, this is not "a machine uploaded X knowledge into character Y's brain" (or "taught Y character X knowledge unreasonably quickly", or any other variants; that's Neural Implanting. This trope is specifically about the distinction between intelligence (the capacity for learning and understanding) and knowledge (the possession of facts and figures), and how in fiction, the mere act of "making a character smarter" often results in them having knowledge they haven't actually learned.

  69. 69

    That's what bugs me.There are no proofs in reality. That's a math thing.If CTMU is science, and "reality-proved" (Demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt), then where's the confirming empirical evidence? If he says that we can't disprove it, then it's automatically not science, because it's just been declared as falsifiable.That's what happens when smart ignorant people speak. They conjure up sophisticated wrong ideas.

  70. 70

    Every polite male christian is Mark in pseudonym. Mark has become an archetype. Ha!Every Christian who calls is inevitably accused of being either a Poe or a cover for somebody else calling in under a fake name. After all, only 85% of the United States are Christians, so it is inconceivable that more than one could ever be watching at most. All others are secret atheist comedians.THIS SENTENCE IS IN ALL CAPS, THEREFORE THAT IS TRUE.

  71. 71

    Kazim,You are too funny. There used to be a guy from Santa Barbara or other places in california who used to call in under different names to advance the Kalam argument, but he could not pronounce infinity. I kinda miss that guy.

  72. 72

    The #1 reason for this show's viewership is christian callers, unlike Russell I'd say most are thought to be genuine. The guy sounded like Mark, a lot like Mark. Every christian caller doesn't sound the same, most don't even come close to one another in the way they sound. This is why is wasn't very difficult to point out Charlie as soon as he opened his mouth.I get the feeling that had Charlie not identified himself, Russell would be mocking those who claimed to think it was him that called into the show twice.

  73. 73

    Not true. I recognized Charlie within two sentences. I'm not an idiot, I know what he sounds like. He also didn't change his voice at all, so there's no need to come up with elaborate conspiracy theories to match them.Not only did Bob not have the same accent as Mark, didn't make the same kinds of arguments, and didn't have the same speech patterns, but the pitches of their voice aren't even all that close. An irate listener emailed me insisting that I listen to past clips of Mark. I did, and came away feeling even more convinced that they aren't the same.I'm fairly sure this whole Mark conspiracy theory got off the ground in the first place is that once the possibility was raised in the chat room, everyone else jumped on the bandwagon and the echo chamber kicked in.

  74. 74

    Zeitgeist 2: The Mark conspiracy. All polite christians are Mark, a Jungian archetype of christian beliefs. AE: all Mark, all the time.I read a study once, which I can't recall, that demonstrated how unreliable people are in identifying people by voices, among other characteristics. I mean, I did not think he sounded at all like Mark, but then I was not primed by the chat room spin.

  75. 75

    Kazim,Curious how people who pride themselves on critical thinking and an awareness of cognitive and perceptual biases so easily fall into these same biases when they really want to believe something.

  76. 76

    So is this one the Mark Schism? Toss it on the pile.

  77. 77

    …Along with Zeitgeist, anti-vax, homeschooling, elevatorgate, objectivism, and whether or not you should be a dick.

  78. 78

    "…so there's no need to come up with elaborate conspiracy theories to match them"Hehe, kinda felt like that was directed at my post. And I admit that it seemed a little like a conspiracy theory to me too as I typed it "out loud" :P…Still think it's the same guy though :)

  79. 79
    The Android Doctorr

    Chris Langan's proof, simplified:P1: God = UniverseP2: Universe existsC: God exists

  80. 80

    Android Doc:Thanx for the clear explication of Langan's otherwise incomprehensible Theory of Everything, which is basically Intelligent Design. I read some of the threads on Math websites where he participated and he seemed incapable of explaining his theory in clear language, something even Einstein could do.

  81. 81

    It doesn't take some asinine suspension of critical thinking skills to think that a guy who has been widely thought of as a poe (to the point where some of the hosts have questioned his legitimacy on air) would try to call in again. I've never entered the chat room so I'm unaware of the antics there, but to me it seems fairly reasonable to think that the caller could have been Mark. Whether Mark was the "Ed" person from Toronto is pretty debatable, but I'd be interested in knowing what city that Canadian IP originated from. I think we can all agree that "Mike" (which could have just been a mistake by the show) was Mark. I'd be interested in knowing what the other hosts opinions are on this.

  82. 82

    "God = Universe"I love this sort of b.s. Sure, it's easy to prove god exists if you redefine him so that he has to exist. To demonstrate how easy this is I'll do it.God is this delicious package of gummy fruity snacks I hold in my hand, therefor God must exist! Unfortunately for God, God will be spending the majority of the next 24 hours passing through my digestive tract, and then will get to spend some time in the local sewer system.One of the problems with CTMU is that it never bridges the problem of how God/Universe = The Xtian God.This is not a problem form my theory about gummy god, cause I don't want gummy god to be anything more than the gummies passing through my body.

  83. 83
    John K.

    @ The Android DoctorrI think you give Mr. Langan too much credit. I think his argument is more along the lines of:P1: Use a lot of big and advanced vocabulary to make people think you are really smart.P2: After a long and tedious word salad of complicated terms, declare god existsP3: Accuse anyone who identifies your mishmash of terms for what it is as unqualified to criticize it.I have been strangely drawn to Chris Langan of late; I guess I get obsessed with arguments for god that I have not heard before. From what I have read though, he is just some guy that is able to impress people with lesser education while only able to make experts in the fields he claims to be using say “you are stringing terms together that make no sense”.If he presents a fabulous new technology I might think there is something to his bizarre manifesto, but right now it is along the lines of thinking the incoherent man in the asylum is spouting off a unifying theory of everything, if only we could understand him. This is as textbook a case of argument from authority as I have ever seen.

  84. 84

    Langan does not claim that CTMU proves the christian god, only the ineffable Divine essence of the universe. And only people with a sufficiently high IQ can perceive this divine essence.The problem is, most studies show an inverse correlation between intelligence/education and belief in god. While there are some intelligent theists (I submit one per religion), in general the smarter a person is, the less likely he or she is to believe in a god.So CTMU is countered by reality.BTW, I saw on some website that Langan provided a chapter to one of Demski's books on ID. So he IS published. Heh, heh.

  85. 85

    BTW, readers should search Youtube on Chris Langan. Lots of video interviews, as well as with the other Smartest Man in America, Rick Rosner. He is the curious thing: both claim IQs around 200 and BOTH are Bouncers! Rosner is interesting because he decided he liked High School, so he kept going through different high schools until was was 26 years old. He was on the very first episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire but missed a pretty easy question so only won $1000.Langan, on the other hand, was on the show 1 vs 100 and left with $250,000. Did really well.I'd like to see a UFC match between the two. Although I think Matt could take them both.

  86. 86

    Mistake 2nd sentence above: "He" should be "here"

  87. 87

    You fools, can't you see that Langan is a genius? Ask yourself this: if Langan is wrong, then why is it that his theory (very prominent, for obvious reasons if you look at the complexity of it) is the ONE theory that AE hasn't looked at yet in their 10 year history? Hmmm….what a coincidence that they just didn't HAPPEN to come across Langan's brilliant theory…

  88. 88

    So he IS published. Heh, heh.I think the assumed addendum to that requirement is "to a scientific journal".As long as I can find a publisher who would agree to do it, I could probably publish a book that was just 150 pages of "derp derp derp derp". With illustration.

  89. 89

    JT,When you demonstrate, or merely assert, that you have an IQ of 200, I'm sure your 150 page book of "derp"s will find an audience, especially among theists.By the way, it is probably a coincidence but I recall an alien abductee saying that as his large headed, grey skinned captor approached him with a probe, his only communicative utterance was "Derp."So there could be an interplanetary audience for your book as well.

  90. 90

    Many years ago Stephen Jay Gould published a book called "The Mismeasurement of Man"* in which he dismantled the idea that there is an ineffable but measurable something called "intelligence." I may have missed it, but I have never seen his points refuted. This "smartest man in the world" sure demonstrates Gould's point.*Gould greatly regretted and apologized for the gender reference in the tile, but it was too late.

  91. 91
    John K.

    Aw, you didn't have to ban Andrew after one comment. Oh well, it's not my blog. Do as you must.To answer, I doubt TAE will ever answer the CTMU because it is completely incomprehensible, and not just to folks who don't know advanced set theory or physics.

  92. 92

    There might not be a point to this here, but I have to get this off somewhere since going to a hardcore serious Christian to a full fledged skeptical atheist. Matt if you are reading this…..I'm the one who emailed you about in how you came out of the faith so easily…if you remember, I'm the same person, but I find Christianity of all forms to be repugnant. it's a blight upon humanity and it makes me sick what it does to your mind…..I know it all to well. it's a religion that has been giving to much respect when it deserves none, it's been barely questioned and I would love to see this blood cult die before I die myself, and being 25 years old, I might see it die a little bit before my death, but it will take a long time for it to die out completely…..it will die….as all religions of this time will one day. atheists and skeptics for far to long have stayed silent, but it's time they speak up more…..no more letting the lies spread like a disease, man's inability to cope with real reality is something as well…….I know, because I'm struggling to come to grips with their being no God, no soul, no heaven or second chance and no supernatural, I know it's hard to accept, but Christians need to realize that their religion will die one day…all these religions will one day die and the sad part I will never get to see it. I commend anyone who accepts you get one chance in life and faces reality that once your dead that you will be forever dead…..you are the strong ones, something I've seen no Christian including I myself never did at one point, I now commend you all.Christianity is so big becasue this cult is driven with much fear and guilt and manipulation and bribery and it heaps on human emotions to override their logical and rational brain……it makes me sick in what it did to me……..my brain was shut off the whole time I was in it…….from the Adam and Eve story all the way to revelation…..it's all a heaping pile of rubbish that makes no sense. Christians like I was once myself have no clue in just how messed up the idea of eternal hell is, but the biggest strike on the God of the bible is that he would be no different then a all powerful Harry Potter person would…..to believe in a all powerful God is to believe in magic.Everyone take care and Matt, Russell, Don, Jeff, Tracie, Jen, Martin, all of you guys are smart and I commend you all. Take care.John.

  93. 93

    Let me add to my last message. way to many Christians and people who believe in the supernatural stuff, many of them resort to personal experiences in the end. how the hell do you prove any of this stuff using logic or rationality or critical thinking skills or good reason or hard evidence or the scientific way……so far not one can do it, thus many have to resort to personal experiences and emotions. I've seen things they were not there, I've heard things that were not there, I've had a vision of a disaster in New York, had intense vivid dreams of standing before Jesus and then be set on fire by a demon, and other intense hallucinations, I've seen coincidences and signs that I thought were from God, but they were only very wacky coincidences, point is, it's all in your head and I know first hand, and you do not need to be mentally ill to know these things. If the supernatural can ever be proved naturally then it's no longer supernatural. the thing about real supernatural is it can never be touched by science…because it's all magic. what I find funny is that if I told people I believed superman was real I would looked at as nuts, but billions believe in a all-powerful super man…it is called God……..the sheer hypocrisy is mind bending. I hate it when Christians tell me I'm being deceived by some invisible entity called the devil or using my brain means I'm to prideful and arrogant….what a crock of shit. how the hell did I believe in this shit without question at one time?This is why I commend Matt of all people…….someone who was once in the faith and believed the bible was the word of God, but he used reason, logic, evidence, rationality, common sense, his brain, and did not let the fear of hell nor his emotions or feelings or anything like that override these things……that is it least what I gathered from what I know about his story. he is someone who once breathed the faith like many have and has seen it does not hold up when tested, though some would deny this.John.

  94. 94

    Continue on from last post.=======================Another thing, Christians do not believe prayer the way they say they do. they take all the necessary precautions as the rest do and really been spoiled by modern science to much….did they forget all their brethren and sisters in the faith that once lived in harsh times and were science was truly in it's primitive stages, all those people who got screwed because they lived in the wrong times, so if any Christian says God works through science and man then this would be a direct insult to those people throughout the times.I do not care how smart some Christians are, people who make me look like I'm stupid, it does not mean the bible is true, for I have seen to many people who believed in all sorts of things, ranging from reptilian overloads controlling the planet and from no planes hit the 911 towers, from A to Z, and quite a few of them are smart, yet they can still believe in ridiculous things, and even if the whole world believed in a god that would make it no more true. Christians like myself at one time are people who shut down their brains when reading the bible and believing in the things they do, they can say other wise, but not a single one would believe if they did the same thing Matt did or what others have done.=====================================Christians cannot ever agree what is a true Christian is and isn't…….I've seen to many Christians judging other Christians, and used the same bible against them, even I can use the bible against many Christians to show them they're in danger, but it all depends how you interpret the bible and what cards you play, because the bible is vague in many areas and there so much that should of been said that is not in the Bible, things that could of helped mankind, and I say this, why would any God write a book? I know Christians will read this…….use that brain you have……..once you do… watch…..you'll see the cards fall one by one, for this is what happened to me. I have literally cried because realizing you were deceived on such a scale is heart breaking, someone like myself who does not like to show this has been reduced to tears at one point because I can no longer believe the bible to be anymore then a man made book written by ignorant and primitive people, to find your whole world view is a lie and that the doctrines you upheld are twisted and morally bankrupt, to find out that much of the bible makes no sense when at one time you did, to find out that you were playing yourself with all the signs you saw, yes, it's truly is saddening, let this show some of you, Christians, I say that to you, what it may be like to leave the faith, a true hell induced nightmare and the aftermath effects can be grand, some people may never fully recover from it, and to that I have no words to say. It is I who is now looked down upon by these people because I can't make sense of the stuff in the bible, I'm the fool to these people who say there is no god, I'm to prideful, I'm not humble enough, I was never truly saved, or that I'm angry with God, or that I know he is true in my heart, or I been given to the devil, or that my faith was tested and I failed, or that I want to live a sinful life, to that I say……words alone cannot describe what I could say.I'm sorry I said things not relating to the topic, but the using the bible for morals is not good, much of the bible is morally wrong and the bible filled with bad advise and another thing is…. well…….much of the bible is useless in how to live life in the real world…….it is useless book for the most part. I'm done with my rant.John.

  95. 95

    John, you have the zealousness of the recent convert and your enthusiasm is contagious. But you may want to familiarize yourself with TL;DR. Best Regards.

  96. 96

    I read John's soliloquy. It's always nice when someone "wakes up" and opens their eyes to a new world.It'll take quite while before your world view settles down into something more stable. I'm not saying you're chaotic or anything, but I can see that you're slogging through all the BS you've realized you were mired in, which can be an unnerving experience. That's fairly normal in the deconversion process, depending on how deep you were into the religion.

  97. 97

    It's always sort of a "Trueman Show" moment.

  98. 98

    Whoops – "Truman Show"

  99. 99

    I was deep in the faith and it's no easy game to leave. my Christianity was hardcore compared to the candy coated versions you see throughout the USA, it was more true to the bible, but even I could not hold the bible in it's more truer form. the bible is a vile book and I took two of my bibles and ripped them into pieces and threw them in the trash, I'm angry and bitter at the moment that I believed in something I was truly passionate about to just find it out it was all a lie. Just go to Ex-Christian.net and you'll see what some of these people have to go through to leave the faith. I posted there myself a lot in the past. All I can do now is read more and learn more and continue watch the non-prophets and Atheist Experience show along with Ask An Atheist show.It's been almost 2 years since the chain effect that left my faith into ash, and even after 2 years almost I'm still shocked everyday to wake up realizing how the bible is all a lie, and I do not get surprised easily if you knew me, but this one did me over 10 fold.I can only hope I can completely recover from it all. it also takes strength and a strong mind to accept reality for what it is, that you are born without a choice and you will die and that will be it for you in the end, and this is hard to accept for most as for right now, and this is one of the main reasons to cling to idea of a soul, if you take the soul concept out, all these religions will die, they depend on the idea of a soul, it's to ease your mind about real reality…..a reality that gives no shit about you, something I myself have a hard time accepting, but I cannot change what cannot be changed.I feel a little better now getting this off somewhere other then the ex-christian.net site, but I will not do what I did over there on here… this was back in June of 2010.Thanks to anyone that replied and Take Care.John.

  100. 100

    Hmmm, John, you sound a lot like Mark. Heh, heh.Set phasers on stun; just a little humor heading into the fractious weekend (during which the Tea Party will attempt to destroy the economy to bring down the President).Funny how on cable TV interviews some of the Tea Party reps are invoking god to help their side prevail. We are in the 21st century, aren't we?

  101. 101

    Good point mostserene1. if people want to fix the USA and even the world then relying on prayer alone is a futile attempt, but if one is going to pray anyways, then they better it least take some action. not a single time in history has prayer demonstrated to work outside of chance, coincidences, beating the odds, probability. if I can see even one time that prayer from the God of the bible do the impossible…. I will go back to the faith……I could search the whole world I will never find it. Christians are hypocrites when it comes to their faith and I was no different before this all. many Christians are good people like many religious people are, but the bible does not stand up when tested.I guess we will see if the economy gets worse and better.

  102. 102

    Sorry for the off-topic (really need open threads here…), but congrats on Stephen Fry tweeting about the Iron Chariots wiki (though his 2.8 million followers seems to have killed the site…)http://twitter.com/#!/stephenfry/status/97211498820149248

  103. 103

    Atheists putting up there is no God signs is dangerous for them. It is stupid to do so. I am a Christian and would not hurt them. But there are Muslims who do not appreciate atheists implying that their prophet Muhammed is a liar or deluded.Muhammed believed in God known to him as Allah.I pray atheist stop their nonsense or a fatwah might be put on their head for insulting Muhammed and denying that Allah exists thus calling Muhammed a liar or deludedI pray they stop this insanityOn one message board atheists were slamming Christians and denying God. But as soon as Allah was mentioned and a fatwah all the atheist comments disappeared..Atheists stop this because the life you save may be your own.

  104. 104

    Welcome to the real world, John. I had doubts since before my confirmation and yet it took me years to really see the bible for what it is. It actually took me over ten years to realize the Eucharist is a cannibalistic ritual. I was walking down a hallway at work, after something made me think of it and then I was like "ewwwwwwww" How could I not have realized that? It's the power of hegemony + the power of indoctrination.Check out this video at about 2:50 – that's how the Last Supper really went!

  105. 105

    Atheists stop this because the life you save may be your own.The solution to rampant insanity isn't to back down. Christianity has been "domesticated" by bring dragged into a secular society that doesn't tolerate it more extreme aspects. Islam needs to be challenged and "domesticated" as well.

  106. 106

    I'm also marveling at the idea that pointing out the wild fantasies of these people is somehow insane."It's insane to voice opposition to insanity!"

  107. 107

    @HeartbreakerGood idea, thanks for the heads up, we'll get started on that, in the meantime you should tell that to all the Christians who put up billboards, crosses, ten commandment crap everywhere, etc. I mean, theres so much more christian stuff out there that theres much more of a chance a muslim might see that first before an atheist sign, it really worries me, we're lucky there hasnt been a fatwa frenzy yet!Tell you what, we'll hold them off, you Christians run for it!, we'll keep up our stuff as a distraction while you guys take down all the Christian billboards and crosses and everything. Dont look back, dont worry about us, SAVE YOURSELVES!!!!

  108. 108

    Yes, I agree with Ithonicfury. For their own safety, Christians should stop promoting Christianity immediately. Every time you claim that Jesus Christ is the only path to know God, you anger the Muslim god greatly. This is very dangerous and I hope we can see a sharp decrease in billboards and church marquees making these dangerous statements.

  109. 109

    Well at least "Bob" came on with the same 'maybe y'all scared of [something]' routine, like Mark. In my ears, he younds like Mark pretending to be Bob because the hosts were getting tired of him.I won't say it's him for sure, but – wow – he sounds very similar.

  110. 110
    Tyler Overman

    Kazim, I think there's some miscommunication going on. Nobody actually thinks (as far as I can tell) that "Bob" is actually Mark, the last caller from the show. Rather, they are saying that "Bob" is Mark, the guy claiming to be from the Austin Stone church. He hasn't called in over a month.

  111. 111

    Stay classy, AE.

  112. 112

    I'd just like to say that while I was on the fence about the whole Mark thing before (and found it funny how seriously people were taking it), the recent show, in which someone who was almost certainly the same guy as Bob called in with an apparently-somewhat-fakey London accent and more importantly mentioned Chris Langan again immediately before hanging up, has me thinking it's probably no coincidence at this point. The Mark part of the argument is shakier, but we at least have relevant circumstantial information at this point.

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