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Alex Gabriel takes on the anti-atheist tone police

Partly in response to the Salon review of Atheist TV last week in which our show was deemed to be “horrifying,” Alex Gabriel has done a bang up job writing about the privilege of being an atheist who doesn’t experience religious abuse, and refuses to believe that anyone else does either. Won’t you take a look?

To the atheist tone police: stop telling me how to discuss my abuse

Comments

  1. L.Long says

    Exactly!!! I talk nice to delusional dogmatists just as long as they talk nice to me… One work about Hell & tell them all about how I’m looking forward to it rather then spend eternity praising their psychotic incompetent imaginary beared sky fairy.

  2. adamah says

    From the article:

    I must talk about religion and the things it did to me, and must do so however I like. This is my goal, not just a means to it — it’s my hill to die on and matters enough that nothing can compete. I don’t care if it sets back my career, hampers others’ work or hurts religious feelings.

    Actually, hang on — yes I do.

    If you feel your texts, traditions, doctrines, revelations, fantasies, imaginary friends or inaudible voices are licence to ride roughshod over other people’s lives, I want to hurt your feelings.

    It’s all about Me, me, me…. Call the whambulance! What self-entitled narcissistic BS, capped off by dropping the f-bomb.

    And how is that kind of unabashed “appeal to emotions” compelling to any rational person?

    The article strikes me as one long, “tu quoque”, a childish justification equivalent to saying, “But Sissy hit me first, Mom!”

    Ultimately, an important question to ask before opening one’s mouth to deliver an insult is:

    “What are my motives for saying what I’m about to say?”

    Is it only to make ourselves feel better by attempting to act out and hurt others ‘peelings’ (as the author admits he’s trying to do), or is it to actually change the other person’s mind (and hence, their behavior)?

    There’s a WORLD of difference between simply venting ones’ emotional pains for childish reasons vs trying to persuade others to change their attitudes. Using an emotionally-dripping overly-wrought appeal MAY work on some readers, but if one is trying to make a case for the superiority of rationalism over emotions, then using such a plea is hardly the way to do it.

    The former is largely self-serving, whereas the latter is not just for one’s own best-interests in the long run, but also for the betterment if society.

    (Hopefully I don’t need to explain why rationalism is better than emotionally-driven thinking: that was the point Dawkins recent series of tweets demonstrated (at least, to those who had the self-awareness , the eyes to see it)…)

    Worse is when hot-headed atheists engage in ‘special-pleading’ by using the counter-charge of,”But you’re tone/concern trolling!” as if that somehow gives them exemption from the rules of logical fallacies after they deliver an ‘ad hom (abusive)’ insult and are called on it.

    Only the self-deluded would call themselves a rationalist by misinterpreting the rules of logic to excuse their childish venting, as if they’ve somehow ‘crossed the diamond with the pearl’ to create an airtight defense of citing tone trolling after they want to deliver an ‘ad hom (abuse)’ insult.

    THAT’S just absurd.

    It just goes to show how some people can come up with complex post-hoc rationalizations to justify doing what they really want to do, in the first place, ignoring the very definition of ‘rationalism’ to do so. Such are the powers of self-delusion.

    Hey, if someone wants to irrationally vent their emotions by simply insulting others, then fine, but at least have the intellectual and moral integrity to admit why you’re doing it and simply own up to it: don’t try to invent post-hoc rationalizations, or look for cover in rationalism. There isn’t any, nor should there be.

    BTW, as an ex-JW who’s being shunned by immediate family members as a result of my atheism, I could share much-worse horror stories of the harm extremist religious beliefs inflict (including needless deaths). I don’t. Why not?

    Ultimately it’s pointless to fester over one’s injuries and slights, even those currently ongoing, since whining rarely is compelling (think of a Sally Struthers teary-eyed plea).

    Instead, you need to persuade people why it’s in THEIR best-interests to change their thinking.

    Religions are MASTERS at appealing directly to the believers’ self-interests (eg the carrot/stick of Heaven/Hell!), and the atheist who’s trying to deconvert needs to take the same approach without resorting to emotionally-driven pleas.

    That’s just basics of human motivations ‘psych 101′ stuff, an approach that Madison Ave ad agencies fully-well know is needed in order to “sell” products (or ideas) to others.

  3. Ed says

    Being a rationalist doesn’t mean being free from emotions. People who are abused should be respected when they speak out; even if their pain leads them to say things that might make us uncomfortable or afraid.

    I’m not one to make broad negative generalizations about all religious people or treat every religious organization as if it were ISIS, but I think there’s a place for raw anger at the unnecessary, gratuitous pain dealt out in even the seemingly softer, nicer religious settings–to say nothing of the extremist groups which are much more widespread than intellectuals want to acknowledge.

    I’ve brought up these issues with religious philosophers, psychologists and other nice and intelligent people only to be told that belief in demons and hell, bigotry against members of other faiths (and unbelievers), sexism, homophobia, morbid fear of sex and deep seated authoritarianism are marginal matters with little meaning to the modern believer. Not that it SHOULD be this way but that it IS. What world are they living in?

    Whether I or anyone else likes Gabriel’s approach, it serves an important purpose in challenging the highly protected privilege of the world’s most powerful institutions on a visceral level. And also, I don’t find people expressing their pain and sorrow pathetic or weak.

  4. brucegorton says

    adamah

    Psychopaths aren’t exactly paragons of rational thinking. They are highly irrational, despite suffering from dulled emotional responses.

    Rationality includes emotion – because emotion is part of the whole background of data we bring to any question.

    For me, I was abused by a sibling growing up. That means I have a visceral reaction to the abuse of others, and process stories such as Gabriel’s differently to the way you do.

    While his story is unique to himself, I see elements of it in mine.

    While we do not always agree, I read Gabriel’s piece as being careful not to be presumptive, to speak for a universal “us” as each instance of abuse is unique. You meanwhile can only see is “Me, me, me”.

    You might want to consider what that communicates about your own character. It is not complimentary, though I dare say it is accurate.

  5. Monocle Smile says

    Adam:

    Fuck off.

    You missed the entire point of Gabriel’s piece. Religion is demonstrably harmful in numerous ways. But any attempts to launch criticism get dismissed by believers and the media as “being mean.” Like Gabriel, I don’t give a shit…your beliefs are contemptible and thus I feel justified in treating them with contempt.

    P.S. there’s a certain irony in your staunch advocacy that we should all be Vulcans (straw Vulcans, actually) whilst you simultaneously continue to devolve into a gibbering, screaming hot mess.

  6. says

    Well Adamah, All I can say is you are wrong. The bravery of abuse victims sharing their pain is why most Catholic Churches are 3/4 empty in North America on any given Sunday. Also, half the population, namely women do care about the feelings of religious abuse victim and want to listen to their stories, as all religious women have experience religious abuse in the form of being told that we shouldn’t have the same rights as men. I’m one of them. I believe that the majority of atheist men would have empathy for this man, and defend his right to tell his story as well.

    A well balanced mind functions mentally and emotionally and has a capacity for empathy. Part of the problem with religions is that they teach us to follow while ignoring our thoughts AND feelings. If you function and act from intellect only, you are a human being functioning at half capacity.

    People are persuaded in many different ways, including emotional appeals. We need everyone just being themselves, and there will be others like them that they can reach. Expecting abuse victims to speak out without expressing negative emotion is like expecting someone who has been stabbed in the back not to bleed, because it bothers the stabber. Those that will not listen might as well have stayed religious, because this is were victim bashing originated.

  7. canonicalkoi says

    Ultimately it’s pointless to fester over one’s injuries and slights, even those currently ongoing, since whining rarely is compelling (think of a Sally Struthers teary-eyed plea).

    Indeed. Why bring that stuff up at all? If a family member is murdered, say, why go after the perpetrator? Isn’t it better by far to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on? If you were the victim (and, really, we shouldn’t use that word, should we?) of a pedophile priest, don’t come forward and let anyone know–it was “mild” pedophilia after all. Forgive, forget and move on! Your car got stolen? Well, buy a new one, for gosh-sakes!

    In case the sarcasm wasn’t obvious: Greetings. Here’s a lovely example for you:

    Adult A (partner to Adult B) forgets B’s birthday. B may not care one way or another, not being someone who celebrates or cares about their birthday. B may be mildly hurt, but puts the memory lapse down to some stress from which A is suffering. B may be very hurt based on having expressed to A in the past how important B finds birthdays and A has made much of them previously. Whose reaction is the correct one? The answer would be D, All of the Above.

    Much like gender identification, sexual partner preference and other things, feelings are what they are. Can we alter our outwardly reaction to them? Sure, we often can–stub your toe in front of your straight-laced in-laws and you’re apt to not swear as you normally would. Are there times when showing a strong reaction is good? Also, sure. If someone is beating a puppy to death in front of you, saying, “Now you really oughtn’t do that…” in hushed tones isn’t likely to help.

    The height of, “self-entitled narcissistic BS” is insisting that you know the correct way for other people to feel.

  8. steffp says

    Dear adamah, #2
    So you are talking about hurt feelings of the devout. About the feelings those people have when confronted with someone who does not only not share their particular set of objectives and holy texts, but insists that those made him suffer, hurt him.
    I think we can agree that Alex talks about his hurt feelings. So you have no problem to estimate the hurt feelings of religious people (“I am offended by hearing the atheist viewpoint”) higher than Alex’s hurt feelings that result from obvious religious abuse and discrimination. Please tell me why this should be the case. Your position so far lacks rationality.

  9. adamah says

    Ed, thanks for the well-reasoned points you raised.

    Ed said-

    Being a rationalist doesn’t mean being free from emotions.

    That’s right, and I never suggested otherwise.

    Despite attempts of others to straw-man (with hot-headed references to vulcans, etc), I’m fully-aware that emotions play a critical role in decision-making: that’s a false dilemma, as it’s not an ‘either/or’ situation.

    Instead, ‘reason vs emotion’ is an issue of BALANCE, where either extreme is detrimental.

    As RD’s series of tweets demonstrated, emotions are far-more dangerous to rationality if the limbic system overwhelms cortical function. This basic principle of neuroanatomy has been known since ancient times, and it’s even incorporated into the rules of logic which declare ‘appeals to emotion’ as fallacious arguments (whereas ‘appeals to reason’ are perfectly fine: in fact, that’s the very premise of rationalism).

    Apostle Paul went to Greece to denounce the folly of philosophers (like Aristotle) with their fancy man-made wisdom who placed reason as the greatest virtue. Instead, Paul passionately argued that we should place emotionally-driven FAITH as the greatest virtue.

    Paul and the Greek philosophers weren’t arguing about BALANCE, but which one deserves to be at the TOP of one’s “totem pole” of beliefs, as the highest value.

    A rationalist would claim reason is at the pinnacle, with emotional arguments to be suppressed, due to their toxic effects on reasoning. We know know that emotions are inseparable from decision-making, but they must be kept in check.

    (If you call yourself a rationalist, it’s not your privilege you should be checking, but your emotions.)

    The ‘reason vs emotion’ is thus an age-old debate, but it’s hardly been put to rest for all time: it’s constantly reemerging under new guises, even cropping up on a site supposedly dedicated to free-thinking rational atheists (of all places).

    People who are abused should be respected when they speak out; even if their pain leads them to say things that might make us uncomfortable or afraid.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say they automatically warrant unconditional “respect”, where anyone who claims ‘victimhood status’ is to be granted some special privilege or the right to speak out in unregulated fashion (as Alex seems to believe).

    Such a viewpoint ignores many important factors, such as the unintended consequences of adopting such an enabling policy.

    Allow me to explain:

    Regardless of the source of a negative life-event (childhood sexual abuse, rape, etc), people are at-risk of becoming locked into ‘victim mentality’, perceiving themselves as the victims of others. Its a learned personality trait, often developing in childhood.

    One of the means of intervening in the cycle is for the person to engage in group therapy, comparing their experience to those who’ve undergone similar experiences. This process is called ‘downward comparison’, and often enhances an individual’s subjective sense of well-being by allowing them an opportunity to place their experience in perspective to those of others, ultimately with the goal of allowing them to move beyond the traumatic events to lead a proactive life.

    Now it SHOULD go without saying that it’s patently offensive for anyone to tell others how they should feel.

    But that’s essentially what therapists may do with some patients, usually guiding them through the process and allowing them to come to such conclusions for themselves, but occasionally relying on their past experiences with patients to help ‘realign’ the patient’s perception of the experience.

    And no matter how horrible the initial experience was, those who fail to place their experiences in perspective are unable to overcome them, often suffering devastating life-long consequences as a result.

    On the other side of the coin are those who allow seemingly-minor insults and slights (whether real of imagined) to amplify over time, harming their relationships with others; by not realizing these insults are blown out of proportion, they squander their lives by remaining mired in permanent victimhood status, even if they weren’t the victims of anyone but themselves.

    Some will drag others into their emotional maelstrom, looking to punish any would-be rescuers for daring to solve their irreconcilable problem. Their life motto often becomes, “I am miserable, therefore I am”, thus denying any personal responsibility for their current plight but instead spending energy on a continuous search for finding others on which to externalize the blame.

    And whether they’re actual or imaginary victims, it’s not a healthy way to approach life for either; it’s hardly compassionate to offer words of sympathy to someone where it only perpetuates (or worsens) their problem.

    (As an analogy, it’s like offering a glass of water to a drowning person (who in fact IS thirsty), rather than notifying a life-guard who’s equipped with a life-ring who can save him.)

    Of course, some will refuse any actual assistance, instead finding perverse solace in their martyrdom (esp. common in those raised in families where Xian persecution complexes were instilled at a young age).

    So thanks to the power of positive reinforcement, offering any support risks validating their self-perceived status as victims, since seeking sympathy is one of the main reasons for subconsciously choosing to stay trapped in ‘victim mentality’ mode.

    And back to RD, he pissed off victim advocacy groups for daring to suggest the heresy that victims actually could overcome their experiences by choosing NOT to remain ANYONE’S ‘victim’, whether of the pedophile, or of the advocacy group who demands volunteers to play lifelong roles for them to represent.

    As far as choice of venue for speaking out, it’s up to individuals to decide when/where/how/whom they speak out to, considering whether to do so in a private setting (i.e. in group therapy), in public (as RD did), or on an Internet forum.

    There’s implications and ramifications for all choices.

    That stated, let me make it clear that I have no idea if Alex has actually experienced religious abuse (sexual or otherwise), and as he hasn’t offered any evidence to support the claim, it’s highly-inappropriate for us to ask.

    But as a skeptical rationalist, I’m not going to accept a claim without evidence (all I see is evidence of someone struggling with their personal demons, inappropriately lashing out to hurt others to share in the pain).

    I shouldn’t need to explain why accepting claims and believing in things in the absense of evidence is not rational. As skeptics, the claims we should be MOST wary of are the very ones we’d most WANT to be true, the ones that appeal to our preconceptions.

    And to the point of privilege, it doesn’t matter whether Alex is a victim of religion or not, since I question the entire premise of granting ‘special privileges’ to anyone (more on that point later).

    I’m not one to make broad negative generalizations about all religious people or treat every religious organization as if it were ISIS, but I think there’s a place for raw anger at the unnecessary, gratuitous pain dealt out in even the seemingly softer, nicer religious settings–to say nothing of the extremist groups which are much more widespread than intellectuals want to acknowledge.

    Sure, but there ARE limits to protesting religious harms (esp. if one self-identifies as a rationalist, which implies a voluntarily commitment to allowing one’s free speech rights by being limited by respecting the rules of logic).

    Up to a point, I’d agree that Alex would be justified to dismiss any criticism as mere ‘tone trolling’, but the FYG comment screamed ‘victim mentality’, as did his “I want to hurt (believers) feelings”.

    We can quibble all day long if those comments are to be labeled as ‘ad hominem (abusive)’, insults, ‘appeals to emotion’, or even just old-fashioned ‘trolling’. Anyway you cut it, though, it’s onviously an attempt to goad an emotional reaction.

    As Shakespeare said, ‘a rose by any other name is still a rose’, and it’s a still a foul in any book of fallacies, regardless of the label.

    Hopefully Alex wasn’t expecting to be exempted from the rules of logic now, as if he’s earned some right to by virtue of claiming victimhood status? Did I miss the update that said “special pleading” has been redacted from the logic textbooks?

    If we say believers can’t ‘special plead’ on behalf of their God, WE can’t engage in ‘special pleading’ to use victimhood status as an excuse to insult believers (that concept shouldn’t present any real problem for Alex, I’d think, since wasn’t he complaining about fighting against ‘special privileges’ in the name of equality? Here’s a unique opportunity to put that philosophy into action!).

    And although Alex shows an admirable awareness of the need to avoid trampling flower beds of other groups while conducting his war against theists (eg he recognizes mislabeling believers as ‘delusional’ or ‘mentally-ill’ has the side-effect of reinforcing stigmas against individuals who actually ARE struggling with psychoses), he nevertheless resorts to trolling.

    Hence his citing the counter-charge of ‘tone trolling!’ rings quite hallow after he commits old-fashioned trolling, flinging potty-mouthed expletives simply to get a rise.

    And ultimately emotional appeals are a far-greater offense to MY goddess, Athena (the goddess of reason), regardless of whether Jehovah or his followers are insulted.

    I’ve brought up these issues with religious philosophers, psychologists and other nice and intelligent people only to be told that belief in demons and hell, bigotry against members of other faiths (and unbelievers), sexism, homophobia, morbid fear of sex and deep seated authoritarianism are marginal matters with little meaning to the modern believer. Not that it SHOULD be this way but that it IS. What world are they living in?

    Yeah, there’s many believers living in ivory-towers wearing cognitive blinders to project their liberal Utilitarian Church leanings on all other branches of Xianity.

    And sure, a shockingly large number of disagreements boil down to arguing one side arguing for IS while the other argues for OUGHT, both sides failing to recognize they’re talking past each other and may ultimately agree, if only they had clarified the IS vs OUGHT distinction.

    So along those lines, on the ‘IS’ side, we have the FACT that freedom of thought underlies both freedom of worship and free speech. Unless we’re willing to throw out large chunks of the Constitution, religion is going to be with us for a very LONG TIME.

    As a rationalist, I tell myself (perhaps delusionally) that overcoming emotionally-driven religious thinking is a matter of persuading believers that evidence-based reasoning is superior. That’s a presupposition most atheists share.

    However, the often-overlooked fact is that it’s a VALUE judgment, and people have the fundamental right to hold different values than us (and thanks to self-delusion, believers and atheists alike are able to tell themselves they’re being perfectly consistent with their professed values, when others can see them as being utter hypocrites).

    However, to sacrifice the rules of rationality in the name of demonstrating the superiority of rationality strikes me as a questionable premise. For how does resorting to emotionally-laden pleas convince anyone of the superiority of reason?

    Some rationalists will even openly-admit to resorting to fallacious ‘appeals to shame’, bullying believers into complying, as if that’s a rational tactic or justification. Psychologists label these types of methods as “emotional blackmail” (which is, not coincidently, a fave strategy of those carrying ‘victim mentalities’). It’s hardly rational….

    BTW, I didn’t criticize Alex on his STYLE: I criticized his heavy-handed use of logical FALLACIES, so it’s a matter of process.

    In fact, I challenge the very SUBSTANCE of his article, premised on his faulty understanding of what actually constitutes ‘tone trolling’. His inability to recognize that doesn’t speak well for his rational thinking (which also explains why he seems to thinks citing ‘tone trolling’ is his get out of jail free card)?

    Whether I or anyone else likes Gabriel’s approach, it serves an important purpose in challenging the highly protected privilege of the world’s most powerful institutions on a visceral level. And also, I don’t find people expressing their pain and sorrow pathetic or weak.

    Well, yeah, but that’s your spinning with a teleological-based argument; sure, there possibly could be some silver lining to warrant temporarily-setting aside the rules of logic.

    However, you’re going well-beyond the motives Alex actually stated in the article, since he didn’t appeal to consequences; to the contrary, he’s even acknowledged the HARMFUL consequences, admitting to taking a self-destructive “cutting off my nose to spite my face” approach.

    So while we can rationalize his approach after the fact by using Bentham’s “greatest good” type of arguments, or “challenging privilege”, etc, that’s us inserting motives when he’s already admitted he’s venting primarily for personal selfish motives.

    And as if trying to bait objections (just so he could protest, saying protestors have even proven his point!), he concludes with a blatant FYG bait. Shameful, if anyone saw this article as compelling or as rational.

    Don’t get me wrong: as a citizen with free speech rights, it’s entirely Alex’s prerogative to speak out, since such governmental free-speech rights aren’t limited by the rules of rationalism.

    As far as free speech rights go, he’s perfectly free to stand outside in the pouring rain and rant at the ancient rain god for making it rain on him, even insulting the ancient rain god’s believers to feel his pain.

    However, he shouldn’t expect to violate logical fallacies willy-nilly while outside, then run for shelter under the rationalist tent, even daring to cry “tone troll!” at those who point out his irrational behavior they just witnessed.

    In or out, dude: make up your mind which camp you’re in!

    You don’t have the power to declare when the rules of logic are in play, as if you’re controling the logic force-field shields, temporarily turning them off to hurl insults, then turning them back on for protection. That’s asymmetrical combat, and Alex dares to talk about equality in the same article?

    BTW, if anyone is able to present a compelling sound argument for WHY I should abandon my commitment to rationalism and TRUE equality in the name of granting special privileges to some in the name of social justice, then lay it on me.

    I’m all ears.

    (PS please don’t resort to Bible-based values, such as appealing to “atoning for the sins of the fathers” arguments. As an ex-believer, I don’t buy into justifications based on concepts of inheritable sins, a pervasive theme still accepted as rational amongst some advocates of social justice.)

  10. Monocle Smile says

    Adam:

    tl;dr.

    Actually, I read the whole thing and couldn’t find half a shit to give.

    Except for this tidbit:

    all I see is evidence of someone struggling with their personal demons, inappropriately lashing out to hurt others to share in the pain

    You’re a fucking sociopath.

  11. adamah says

    Lori said-

    What is more me, me, me than putting down an abuse victim for speaking out?

    Hmmm, a few questions for you:

    1) Why did you assume I’m putting him down for speaking out?

    I criticized him for using heavy-handed fallacious “appeal to emotions” (leading up to a crescendo of FYG), not for simply speaking out.

    Lots of victims of religious sexual abuse manage to publicly speak of their experiences without managing to drop f-bombs, and I cheer them for having the courage to do so, if they choose to.

    Speaking of their experiences to others is often a crucial part of the recovery process (although usually done in a group therapy setting, so they can benefit from downward comparison, as described above). Speaking to others allows them to regain a sense of control over those who stole it from them.

    I applaud the efforts of those who overcome abuse, and especially those who choose the public square as their venue to raise awareness, esp. since they cannot anticipate or control the response (as in a group therapy setting, where it’s generally more supportive).

    My problem with Alex is NOT that he speaks out, but is more fundamental: he screams “tone troll!”, as if that defense gives him the right to commit logical fallacies.

    Nope.

    Alex labors under a basic misunderstanding of what the ‘tone troll’ defense is all about, since he loses the ability to use it as a shield when he actually DOES commit a logical fallacy (eg appeal to emotion).

    It’s what I referred to above, saying some atheists think they’ve discovered some loophole in the laws of reason so they can hurl insults and emotional bombs whenever they feel like it, but then cry “tone troll!” as a defense when anyone objects.

    It’s the irrationalist’s version of the child’s strategy of citing the classic defense, “I’m rubber, you’re glue”.

    FWIW, ‘tone trolling’ is actually defined as criticizing STYLE (ie method if delivery) rather than the SUBSTANCE of the position under discussion, even if you agree with the position they’re arguing for.

    In this case, since the topic of his article is the policy of tone trolling, my challenge was very much arguing against the SUBSTANCE of his article and his position, based on his misunderstanding of what tone trolling is about.

    Further, the tone trolling defense is not a license to commit logical fallacies, PROCEDURAL errors that are valid to identify whether you agree with the position or not.

    Some atheists believe that all criticism received from a fellow atheist automatically constitutes ‘tone-trolling': not so.

    Unless the topic is the existence of God (a position which atheists would agree), the assumption that any criticism offered is an attack on style may not be valid, eg atheists can disagree on many other issues, so it’s hasty to assume that all criticism from a fellow atheist is automatically assumed to be an attack on style, and not a disagreement with their position.

  12. adamah says

    Steffp said-

    Dear adamah, #2
    So you are talking about hurt feelings of the devout.

    Well kind of, but it’s not exclusively about them (it’s also about Athena).

    Think of it this way: if atheists are trying to ‘reverse witness’ to believers, persuading them to change their thinking (beliefs), they’re our potential customers.

    We’re trying to “sell” them on the benefits of rationalism.

    The most obvious rule of sales is DONT OFFEND THE PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMER.

    Does one need to say that self-evident point?

    Sadly though, some atheists aren’t as rational as they tell themselves they are, or they cannot manage to control their own emotions to put on even the facade of faking sincerity. Some actually do intend to insult, and are unabashed about their motives.

    But even more importantly, using insulting language assaults MY Goddess, Athena, the Greek deity of rationality and reason. She’s offended whenever someone abandons reason and resorts to potty-mouthed name-calling in an attempt to persuade or shame others.

    You really don’t want to piss Athena off (well, nothing bad happens if you DO, since unlike Zeus, she’s mastered her emotional regulation and doesn’t throw hissy fits and/or thunderbolts).

    :)

    About the feelings those people have when confronted with someone who does not only not share their particular set of objectives and holy texts, but insists that those made him suffer, hurt him. I think we can agree that Alex talks about his hurt feelings.

    I have no problem with Alex’s talking about HIS feelings; however he crosses the line when he states his right to offend others.

    I’m even OK with his seeming inability to accept personal responsibility for his own life; that’s his business.

    He’s free to stand outside in the pouring rain and rant at the ancient rain god for making it rain on him, even insulting the believers in the ancient rain god.

    However, he shouldn’t expect to violate logical fallacies willy-nilly while out there, but then run back for the shelter of the rationalist tent, daring to cry “tone troll!” at those who pointed out his irrational self-serving behavior.

    That’s inconsistent.

    You’re either in the rationalists camp or out: you’re either for the principles of rationalism or against them (my, how devisive!).

    So you have no problem to estimate the hurt feelings of religious people (“I am offended by hearing the atheist viewpoint”) higher than Alex’s hurt feelings that result from obvious religious abuse and discrimination.

    For one, Alex isn’t simply voicing “the atheist viewpoint”: he’s INSULTING believers, since he admits to trying to ‘hurt their feelings’.

    THAT’S my objection, as Alex doesn’t have the right to rewrite the rules of rational atheism.

    Unless you’re planning to follow up with a “tu quoque” fallacy (two wrongs make a right), there’s no rational excuse for retaliating in-kind.

    What matters is not what people actually may feel, but what they SAY and DO. We fortunately don’t have thought crimes (yet), but can only regulate people’s ACTIONS.

    If Alex calls himself a rationalist, I expect him to act like one, and hold himself to the higher standards.

    If he doesn’t label himself as a rationalist, then I could care less, since almost all angry hate-filled speech is protected under the Constitution. And while such speech may be IRRATIONAL, it nevertheless remains protected speech.

    But no one forces anyone else to call themselves a rationalist, but if they CHOOSE TO, they should ‘talk the talk’ and voluntarily adopt and demonstrate such higher standards by their words and behavior.

    At least some believers are being perfectly-consistent with their stated values by placing faith over reason: that’s the very message of Paul.

    But are rationalists being consistent with THEIR professed values when they place other rights (such as the right to rant and insult) above their commitment to reason?

    Since there’s no Rationalist Police Hotline for citizens to call to report logical crimes (code 327: ‘an attempted strong-arm fallacy in progress’), it’s up to fellow rationalists to act as the enforcement mechanism, using reasoned words to persuade.

    BTW, if you think my position lacks rationality, take a look at those who respond with angry spittle-filled childish insults: they’re voting with their amygdala, loud and clear….

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Reading the whole thing? Way better than I managed. And I’m usually pretty masochistic about such things. Bravo.

  14. brucegorton says

    Lots of victims of religious sexual abuse manage to publicly speak of their experiences without managing to drop f-bombs, and I cheer them for having the courage to do so, if they choose to.

    So you’re fine with abuse victims speaking about their abuse – provided they do it in a way you approve of. A way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable.

    And you think you’re being supportive? Nice, “Oh I’m fine with people expressing their pain, just so long as they don’t do it in a way that sounds like they’re actually in pain.”

    You are making the mistake of thinking emotion is automatically fallacious, it is not. Emotion is part of the whole package for rationality.

    You cannot derive ought from is – because any preference you might have is itself rooted in emotion.

    Consider issues of false hope. Instilling false hope is itself unethical, because we have serious emotional issues with people who bilk cancer patients for every cent they are worth with claims that they have some sort of miracle cure.

    If it is unethical to say you have a cure for cancer when it is entirely unproven and probably doesn’t work, then eternal life in paradise after you die isn’t exactly any better.

    We do not appreciate predators preying on the vulnerable.

    These are emotional appeals, because it requires you have some emotion and compassion for you to understand why they are bad things. It requires emotion for you to even note double standards, because your sense of fairness? That is emotional.

    Emotion is a valid component to data when you are dealing with issues of ought.

    And that is what is under discussion right now – not how do we act, but how we ought to act. If you aren’t willing to take the emotional aspect into account, you are not willing to deal with all the valid data.

    Which means you cannot arrive at a logical conclusion. In fact what you conclude is itself highly harmful, it amounts to silencing tactics which hurt the abused even more.

    We can only express our pain in the way that Adamah approves because Adamah is the one that is important, we do not have value in ourselves. That is what you are telling us.

  15. azhael says

    Adults who are afraid of words…it never ceases to fascinate me.
    Adamah, you realise that an argument can be entirely logical and at the same time be expressed with the frequent and joyful use of the word “fuck”, right? Being a “potty mouth” doesn’t make you irrational. An irrational argument does, but not the use of expletives. Dismissing others as irrational because they use language that scares you is in itself profoundly irrational. Since you have claimed that any slip from the rational path means you loose the right to call yourself a rationalist, i’m afraid Adamah, that you are officially no longer a rationalist.

  16. SAwhowhatnow says

    Adamah, it’s completely impossible to take you seriously if you’re going to act like a southern belle and swoon at the word “fuck”. You remind me exactly of the tipsy woman who called years ago who flipped out and hung up after Matt asked her “Why the fuck did you call?!”. Just like her, you are terrified of four letters and allow it to hold more power over you than it does to rational adults who can divorce the message from the means, a skill you obviously lack. Sadly I’m not sure where you could go to learn such a crucial skill so late in your life, so it may just be better for you to watch nothing but recordings of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood so as to insulate yourself from the vulgarities of this world.

  17. adamah says

    Bruce said-

    So you’re fine with abuse victims speaking about their abuse – provided they do it in a way you approve of. A way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable.

    And you think you’re being supportive? Nice, “Oh I’m fine with people expressing their pain, just so long as they don’t do it in a way that sounds like they’re actually in pain.”

    That’s not what Im saying at all.

    As I explained above, Alex is free to shout angrily and curse at the Gods as that’s his right, thanks to free speech.

    HOWEVER, he shouldn’t do so and expect to be welcomed with open arms by rationalists after violating the principles of rationalism that no one is forced to accept (or even forced to live up to: there’s plenty of irrational types who self-identify as rationalists).

    You are making the mistake of thinking emotion is automatically fallacious, it is not. Emotion is part of the whole package for rationality.

    No kidding, and read my post to Ed, as you’re creating a strawman of my position, based on a false-dilemma.

    As I explained to Ed, It’s about which is given PRIORITY: a rationalist would say reason is more important than emotionally-driven expressions.

    You cannot derive ought from is – because any preference you might have is itself rooted in emotion.

    Uh, who said I WAS trying to derive an ought from is?

    But sure, I’ll play along, since it’s a valid point to raise:

    The principles of rationalism were well-defined long before you or I were born, and the commitment to those principles is voluntary.

    Think of the US Constitution, considered as an aspirational statement of principles to be incorporated and embodied into lower laws, where if there’s a conflict, the Constitution prevails (that job of deciding is handled by the SCOTUS).

    Aspirational mission statements of broad principles are great, but they don’t cut it when it comes to enforcement, eg someone driving 100mph on a city street could protest a speeding ticket, claiming they were only “pursuing their happiness”. That’s why we need actual statutes.

    The same situation applies to the broad principles of rationalism: they’re embodied and expressed by the logical fallacies, and any interpretation that conflicts with the broader principle is to be rejected.

    If you can present a reasonable argument to refute that position and replace it with something better, hey, I’m all ears.

    Is that an appeal to tradition? No, but close: it’s an appeal to what actually has a proven track record of WORKING, as evidenced by scientific advancement from the Age of Enlightenment onwards. Rationalism is at the roots of scientific methodology, as well, as scientists know fully-well that emotions cloud thinking, where biases and emotions need to be kept in check to prevent them from intruding into the lab.

    Consider issues of false hope. Instilling false hope is itself unethical, because we have serious emotional issues with people who bilk cancer patients for every cent they are worth with claims that they have some sort of miracle cure.

    If it is unethical to say you have a cure for cancer when it is entirely unproven and probably doesn’t work, then eternal life in paradise after you die isn’t exactly any better.

    Hopefully you know that’s a false analogy, since we both (hopefully) know the claim of Gods existence lacks any tangible verifiable evidence, either way (ie it’s immune from falsifying), whereas selling crushed almond pits to desperate cancer pts in a ‘clinic’ in Tijuana is a demonstrably ineffective treatment, proven by double-blind studies which showed a lack of efficacy.

    You’re comparing apples to oranges (or, almond pits).

    These are emotional appeals, because it requires you have some emotion and compassion for you to understand why they are bad things. It requires emotion for you to even note double standards, because your sense of fairness? That is emotional.

    Those are fine: however trolling is not.

    Am I really needing to point out that trolling isn’t rational, simply because you agree with the cause?

    It’s like some of you haven’t heard of the fallacy of “ends-justified thinking” before?

    YES, that applies to YOU, too.

    Emotion is a valid component to data when you are dealing with issues of ought.

    Again, read my post to Ed, since I agree.

    And that is what is under discussion right now – not how do we act, but how we ought to act. If you aren’t willing to take the emotional aspect into account, you are not willing to deal with all the valid data.

    Hey, if you want to make a case for throwing out an approach that’s been used for 3,000 yrs, be my guest, but the easier option is to just not call yourself a rationalist.

    Theists adopt the belief that faith trumps rationalism, and it’s your right to put anything at th top of your “value totem pole”, as well.

    Just don’t try to alter the very operational definition of rationalism, unless you can make a compelling argument to convince anyone else why it should be changed.

    We can only express our pain in the way that Adamah approves because Adamah is the one that is important, we do not have value in ourselves. That is what you are telling us.

    Hey, if you want to stick your fingers in your ears and say “na-na-na! I can’t hear you!”, then that’s your right.

    Play ignorant if you like, but don’t delude yourself by patting yourself on the back and stroking your ego, telling yourself how rational you are since you may only be fooling yourself.

    But again, if you want to throw out the logic fallacies and rationalism, then you should at least explain what we should replace them with….

  18. adamah says

    Sorry for the screwed up formatting in the prior post. This one is fixed.

    Bruce said-

    So you’re fine with abuse victims speaking about their abuse – provided they do it in a way you approve of. A way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable.

    And you think you’re being supportive? Nice, “Oh I’m fine with people expressing their pain, just so long as they don’t do it in a way that sounds like they’re actually in pain.”

    That’s not what Im saying at all.

    As I explained above, Alex is free to shout angrily and curse at the Gods as that’s his right, thanks to free speech.

    HOWEVER, he shouldn’t do so and expect to be welcomed with open arms by rationalists after violating the principles of rationalism that no one is forced to accept (or even forced to live up to: there’s plenty of irrational types who self-identify as rationalists).

    You are making the mistake of thinking emotion is automatically fallacious, it is not. Emotion is part of the whole package for rationality.

    No kidding, and read my post to Ed, as you’re creating a strawman of my position, based on a false-dilemma.

    As I explained to Ed, It’s about which is given PRIORITY: a rationalist would say reason is more important than emotionally-driven expressions.

    You cannot derive ought from is – because any preference you might have is itself rooted in emotion.

    Uh, who said I WAS trying to derive an ought from is?

    But sure, I’ll play along, since it’s a valid point to raise:

    The principles of rationalism were well-defined long before you or I were born, and the commitment to those principles is voluntary.

    Think of the US Constitution, considered as an aspirational statement of principles to be incorporated and embodied into lower laws, where if there’s a conflict, the Constitution prevails (that job of deciding is handled by the SCOTUS).

    Aspirational mission statements of broad principles are great, but they don’t cut it when it comes to enforcement, eg someone driving 100mph on a city street could protest a speeding ticket, claiming they were only “pursuing their happiness”. That’s why we need actual statutes.

    The same situation applies to the broad principles of rationalism: they’re embodied and expressed by the logical fallacies, and any interpretation that conflicts with the broader principle is to be rejected.

    If you can present a reasonable argument to refute that position and replace it with something better, hey, I’m all ears.

    Is that an appeal to tradition? No, but close: it’s an appeal to what actually has a proven track record of WORKING, as evidenced by scientific advancement from the Age of Enlightenment onwards. Rationalism is at the roots of scientific methodology, as well, as scientists know fully-well that emotions cloud thinking, where biases and emotions need to be kept in check to prevent them from intruding into the lab.

    Consider issues of false hope. Instilling false hope is itself unethical, because we have serious emotional issues with people who bilk cancer patients for every cent they are worth with claims that they have some sort of miracle cure.

    If it is unethical to say you have a cure for cancer when it is entirely unproven and probably doesn’t work, then eternal life in paradise after you die isn’t exactly any better.

    Hopefully you know that’s a false analogy, since we both (hopefully) know the claim of Gods existence lacks any tangible verifiable evidence, either way (ie it’s immune from falsifying), whereas selling crushed almond pits to desperate cancer pts in a ‘clinic’ in Tijuana is a demonstrably ineffective treatment, proven by double-blind studies which showed a lack of efficacy.

    You’re comparing apples to oranges (or, almond pits).

    These are emotional appeals, because it requires you have some emotion and compassion for you to understand why they are bad things. It requires emotion for you to even note double standards, because your sense of fairness? That is emotional.

    Those are fine: however trolling is not.

    Am I really needing to point out that trolling isn’t rational, simply because you agree with the cause?

    It’s like some of you haven’t heard of the fallacy of “ends-justified thinking” before?

    YES, that applies to YOU, too.

    Emotion is a valid component to data when you are dealing with issues of ought.

    Again, read my post to Ed, since I agree.

    And that is what is under discussion right now – not how do we act, but how we ought to act. If you aren’t willing to take the emotional aspect into account, you are not willing to deal with all the valid data.

    Hey, if you want to make a case for throwing out an approach that’s been used for 3,000 yrs, be my guest, but the easier option is to just not call yourself a rationalist.

    Theists adopt the belief that faith trumps rationalism, and it’s your right to put anything at th top of your “value totem pole”, as well.

    Just don’t try to alter the very operational definition of rationalism, unless you can make a compelling argument to convince anyone else why it should be changed.

    We can only express our pain in the way that Adamah approves because Adamah is the one that is important, we do not have value in ourselves. That is what you are telling us.

    Hey, if you want to stick your fingers in your ears and say “na-na-na! I can’t hear you!”, then that’s your right.

    Play ignorant if you like, but don’t delude yourself by patting yourself on the back and stroking your ego, telling yourself how rational you are since you may only be fooling yourself.

    Again, if you want to throw out the rules of rationalism, fine, but you should at least suggest what we should replace them with.

  19. Monocle Smile says

    Just so everyone is aware:

    Not once in Alex Gabriel’s piece does he identify himself as a rationalist.

    In other words, adam, your head is crammed so far up your own ass that you’re making shit up out of whole cloth. When you started posting, you were wordy and trying a bit too hard, but now your posts reek of narcissism and desperation for attention.

  20. Narf says

    I dunno. I haven’t bothered to read most of his comments, for a while now. I don’t know if it’s dishonesty or reading comprehension problems, but when someone is as vile and uncomprehending as he is, I just can’t tolerate it anymore.

  21. Narf says

    … narcissism and desperation for attention.

    That much is very obvious. His earlier attempts at a one-man argument from authority fallacy demonstrated that to me, and I’ve more or less tuned him out. The best way to deal with people like that is to ignore them, at least directly.

  22. adamah says

    Azhael said-

    Adults who are afraid of words…it never ceases to fascinate me.

    Who’s afraid of words? That a faulty assumption you’re making, and that’s all on you, Jack.

    Here, let me demonstrate:

    Adamah screams in feigned anger :

    “Fuck you, Jesus, and the colt and donkey you rode into Jerusalem on! PS oh, fuck your sky-daddy, YHWH, too!”

    Who’s afraid of profanity?

    Nice try, but as a “mustang” (if any other vets know the reference), I’m hardly a shrinking violet.

    I know that word choice only reflects on the speaker themselves; I don’t resort to emotionally-bating others with childish cheap-shots and hissy fits, since it’s not rational.

    I grew up with “stick and stones may break my bones”, but I also realize that not everyone has mastered their emotional regulation, and some words carry significant emotive impact for some people, esp believers (who key in on tone: that’s partly WHY they were attracted to religion’s golden-throated preachers, cults that “love bomb” prospective members, etc).

    Now if you’re an extremist simply looking to throw fire-bombs to wreak havoc and mayhem, then great. Just don’t claim to be trying to do it to convince others to change their minds and actually deconvert, since YES, in fact ARE doing it ALL WRONG.

    Again, no one forces anyone to claim to be a rationalist, and I’m perhaps improperly assuming that Alex DOES declare himself to BE a rationalist: I don’t know that for a fact (although it’s strongly-implied when he incites “tone troll!” as a defense).

    Adamah, you realise that an argument can be entirely logical and at the same time be expressed with the frequent and joyful use of the word “fuck”, right? Being a “potty mouth” doesn’t make you irrational. An irrational argument does, but not the use of expletives.

    Ah, thanks for bringing up that tired internet urban legend, claiming that the fallacy of ad hominem arguments only applies if the insult is presented in the form of an argument.

    It’s utter BS, and I’ve explained the many reasons why in other recent threads, but let me just ask you this:

    Azhael, did you cover the topic in your logic course where a premise is still considered to be an argument, even if the conclusion isn’t explicitly stated?

    If you missed that day in class, then rest assured it’s a ‘thing': it’s called an ‘implied conclusion’.

    An insult is no different, since the conclusion is implied. Alex didn’t say “FYG!” for the conclusion to be, “Therefore, your God is worthy of worship!” That would be an absurd claim to make, on its face…

    Implied conclusions are WHY simple insults are not exempted from the rules defining ad homs as ‘fouls': it’s also why respect for the other team is not demonstrated by insulting them, etc.

    Hurling insults is only acceptable if you learned your logical fallacies in an ‘intro to logic course’ while attending Univ of Jerry Springer (in Canada), but such distortions of the principles of rational thought don’t apply anywhere else.

    Granted, one could make the absurd argument that insulting God is not an ad hom, since it’s not directed at the believer, but their God.

    Cool, but then one could argue that it’s OK to call Matt and insult his wife, claiming it’s not an ad hom since the insult wasn’t directed to him or his argument, but his wife.

    That defense still fails, since not only is it an ‘appeal to emotions’ (trying to get Matt’s goad) but worse, it commits the ‘fallacy of relevancy’, having nothing to do with the actual subject of the conversation.

    The purpose of calls on the show is to uncover TRUTHS of the topic under discussion, and not simply to trade wisecracks and insults.

    Dismissing others as irrational because they use language that scares you is in itself profoundly irrational. Since you have claimed that any slip from the rational path means you loose the right to call yourself a rationalist, i’m afraid Adamah, that you are officially no longer a rationalist.

    Argue from faulty premises much?

    You might check your mail, as your revocation of membership in the Rationalists Club may be in it.

    ;)

    Again, I extend the same offer to you that if you can suggest how the rules of rationalism should be modified to make them better or more consistent, I’m all ears.

  23. adamah says

    Ms said-

    Not once in Alex Gabriel’s piece does he identify himself as a rationalist.

    Fail much, MS?

    As I’ve pointed out, it’s implied by his citing “tone troll” as his defense.

  24. Monocle Smile says

    Jesus Monkey-humping Christ. In what universe does accurately describing behavior as tone trolling suddenly mean you’re identifying as a rationalist (by your fucktarded standards, no less)? Does the color gray even exist in your head?

    I’m done. Indulging your pleas for acknowledgment any further would require me to light my brain cells on fire.

  25. brucegorton says

    That’s not what Im saying at all.

    It is exactly what you’re saying. You’re saying because of how he says something, not what he says but how he says it, he shouldn’t be welcomed amongst rationalists.

    Because obviously somebody who has been abused and is angry about it, and expresses it in an angry manner is obviously not qualified to be a rationalist.

    Hopefully you know that’s a false analogy, since we both (hopefully) know the claim of Gods existence lacks any tangible verifiable evidence, either way (ie it’s immune from falsifying), whereas selling crushed almond pits to desperate cancer pts in a ‘clinic’ in Tijuana is a demonstrably ineffective treatment, proven by double-blind studies which showed a lack of efficacy.

    No it isn’t. All the evidence we have demonstrates that consciousness is a product of our biology and when we die, it stops. We know for a fact that there is no afterlife, because mind-body dualism has been repeatedly disproved throughout history via things like drugs and brain damage.

    We can trace how thoughts arise in the brain and in fact a recent study showed we can even transmit those changes in an understandable fashion.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0105225

    The almond pits can at least be shown to exist – the same cannot be said of the “soul” and without that there is no afterlife. The only reason we treat them as different is social convention “You wouldn’t say that to your dying Christian grandma.”

    Meanwhile theists seem perfectly happy to tell people they will regret their atheism when they’re burning in hell.

    As to the definition of rationalism it is simply “any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification”. Emotion is a part of reason.

    “I do X because I am angry” is a reason (and like any given reason probably an oversimplification, but it still counts.) You cannot divorce emotion from rationalism because then you’re dismissing a whole chunk of what constitutes reason.

    Your position is actually the anti-rationalist one, in that you are dismissing data because it is off-putting to you in its presentation. That is frankly, to be blunt about it, ad hominem.

    “I disregard your argument because you are a person who swears.”

    Sure there are times where emotion is irrelevant data to an argument, this isn’t one of them.

    One should also point out that rationalism has serious weaknesses given the supremacy to reason over sensory observation – as such it produces lovely fields like the Chicago school of economics, which may be rational but don’t necessarily align to actual observed reality.

  26. adamah says

    Thanks for the calm and reasoned reply.

    So Bruce, if I can summarize:

    You seem to be admitting that Alex crossed the line by ‘appealing to emotions’, but you’re arguing it’s justified, based on other factors which haven’t been verified (AKA “special pleading” based on special circumstances, eg his claimed status as a victim).

    Is that correct?

    I could address point-by-point, but that’s rather tedious; I want to make sure I understand your basic position before proceeding.

  27. Narf says

    That’s a nice set of posts you got there.

    It’d be a real shame if anything was to … happen to ‘em.

  28. brucegorton says

    Adamah

    No, I am not claiming he crossed the line. I am stating that given Alex specific aims IE: “I must talk about religion and the things it did to me, and must do so however I like. This is my goal, not just a means to it ” proclaiming emotion as fallacious is quite frankly dismissing data relevant to the argument.

    Alex’s central point is that there are more reasons for people to discuss religion than seeking to convert others, that discussing the harms caused by religion can be an end unto itself.

    Given that this is the position Gabriel takes, it is in part informed by emotion – thus it forms relevant data.

    Emotion isn’t relevant if we are discussing existence claims, how I feel about X being existing wouldn’t impact whether it actually did or not one way or another, but when we are discussing how to deal with emotions and their roots then they are very much the entire point to the discussion.

  29. says

    It’s all about Me, me, me…. Call the whambulance! What self-entitled narcissistic BS, capped off by dropping the f-bomb.

    It’s clear you are conscious enough to know you are one of the people Alex was criticizing, yet you lack the self awareness to see that you’re proving him right. Have you read about Lewis’ Law?

    And how is that kind of unabashed “appeal to emotions” compelling to any rational person?

    You need to delete your own, made up dictionary of fallacies and use the ones the rest of use. Alex is evidence that religion is harmful. Do we sit down with criminal organization and criminals and try to convince them through civil language that they’re wrong? No, we use force to stop them. Alex is simply asserting his right to use his speech to speak out against religion. Your appeal to civility is like asking mugging victims to have a good sit down with their mugger. Is that logical or rational?

    The article strikes me as one long, “tu quoque”, a childish justification equivalent to saying, “But Sissy hit me first, Mom!”

    It would be, if what Alex were advocating were anything like the abuse he suffered under religion. He is not calling for the indoctrination of all children of christian parents, he’s telling you, Adam, to fuck off if you think his criticisms of religion are “impolite”.

    Ultimately, an important question to ask before opening one’s mouth to deliver an insult is:

    “What are my motives for saying what I’m about to say?”

    Agreed, and Alex’s entire article is his explanation why his motives are rational and valid.

    Is it only to make ourselves feel better by attempting to act out and hurt others ‘peelings’ (as the author admits he’s trying to do), or is it to actually change the other person’s mind (and hence, their behavior)?

    So, only Adam’s way of convincing argument works? I’ll need a citation on that. The null hypothesis is that you’re full of shit.

    There’s a WORLD of difference between simply venting ones’ emotional pains for childish reasons vs trying to persuade others to change their attitudes. Using an emotionally-dripping overly-wrought appeal MAY work on some readers, but if one is trying to make a case for the superiority of rationalism over emotions, then using such a plea is hardly the way to do it.

    Since when are we trying to make the case of rationalism over emotions? Emotions and rationalism aren’t mutually exclusive, you’re setting up a false dichotomy. If you aren’t appalled and outraged and angry when you look at a rational examination of what religion has done to humanity, you’re doing this human thing wrong. If Alex’s tone weren’t backed by these things, the right thing to do is to question the basis for his “emotion”, not the emotion itself.

    The former is largely self-serving, whereas the latter is not just for one’s own best-interests in the long run, but also for the betterment if society.

    Aside from the fact that its’ a false dichotomy, I don’t see how you can seriously think the above is true. But, making sweeping “Adam knows best” dictations is your forte.

    (Hopefully I don’t need to explain why rationalism is better than emotionally-driven thinking: that was the point Dawkins recent series of tweets demonstrated (at least, to those who had the self-awareness , the eyes to see it)…)

    Ah, you’re a Dawkins fanboi? He loves to hear how he’s always so right about things, glad you’re here to boost Dawkins ego, he would be a shell of a man without you.

    Onto the substance, you’ve changed terms. Alex isn’t talking about “emotionally-driven thinking”, which I’ll agree with you isn’t the best way to come to a rational conclusion. He’s saying: “Here are the things religion has done to me and continues to do to humanity. Fuck you if you think I should put on kiddie gloves when talking about religion.”

    Worse is when hot-headed atheists engage in ‘special-pleading’ by using the counter-charge of,”But you’re tone/concern trolling!” as if that somehow gives them exemption from the rules of logical fallacies after they deliver an ‘ad hom (abusive)’ insult and are called on it.

    I also question the value of unrelated insults. But, I think you’re beating up on a strawman here. Alex, and I would imagine many of the other atheists you disagree with, aren’t just heaving non sequitur insults at theists. Even when they do get polemic, the signal to insult ratio makes your concern just seem silly.

    Only the self-deluded would call themselves a rationalist by misinterpreting the rules of logic to excuse their childish venting, as if they’ve somehow ‘crossed the diamond with the pearl’ to create an airtight defense of citing tone trolling after they want to deliver an ‘ad hom (abuse)’ insult.

    THAT’S just absurd.

    But what you’re doing right now, Adam, isn’t absurdly childish venting? You owe me at least three cases of irony-meters.

    It just goes to show how some people can come up with complex post-hoc rationalizations to justify doing what they really want to do, in the first place, ignoring the very definition of ‘rationalism’ to do so. Such are the powers of self-delusion.

    And you’re doing none of this here to support your own misconception of how emotions and rationality apply to complex human beings, nope, no sir.

    Hey, if someone wants to irrationally vent their emotions by simply insulting others, then fine, but at least have the intellectual and moral integrity to admit why you’re doing it and simply own up to it: don’t try to invent post-hoc rationalizations, or look for cover in rationalism. There isn’t any, nor should there be.

    Again with the black/white, false dichotomies.

    BTW, as an ex-JW who’s being shunned by immediate family members as a result of my atheism, I could share much-worse horror stories of the harm extremist religious beliefs inflict (including needless deaths). I don’t. Why not?

    I am sorry you had that experience. I’m horrified that you think this justifies telling others to not share their stories.

    Ultimately it’s pointless to fester over one’s injuries and slights, even those currently ongoing, since whining rarely is compelling (think of a Sally Struthers teary-eyed plea).

    I personally think those stories are some of the most compelling. I think telling those stories, of real abuse, is needed to even know how to begin to make humanity better. I’m not going to tell anyone they have to tell their story or that they should shut up about it, and neither should you. It’s the call of the person who lived that experience.

    Instead, you need to persuade people why it’s in THEIR best-interests to change their thinking.

    Thank you Mr. Knowitall. You’re setting up yet another false dichotomy here. You can also get people to change their thinking by showing how it impacts other people. It’s called being “moral”.

    Religions are MASTERS at appealing directly to the believers’ self-interests (eg the carrot/stick of Heaven/Hell!), and the atheist who’s trying to deconvert needs to take the same approach without resorting to emotionally-driven pleas.

    Wait, what? How is saying “Here is a bunch of abuse I suffered due to false, harmful crap your religion perpetuates, you suck” not a stick? If we could reduce religion to the moral status of NAMBLA, people would avoid it like the plague.

    That’s just basics of human motivations ‘psych 101′ stuff, an approach that Madison Ave ad agencies fully-well know is needed in order to “sell” products (or ideas) to others.

    And Madison Ave is based rational appeal? No appeal to base emotional thinking? You start out with “And how is that kind of unabashed “appeal to emotions” compelling to any rational person?”, and end with this? Another irony meter blown!

    Seriously Adam, you are either a fool or a troll.

  30. Ed says

    Adamah I just read your response. Thanks.

    I definitely get your basic points that emotional responses need to be disciplined in the quest for truth and that there are people (but I don’t think that Gabriel is one) who are destructively preoccupied with victimhood in a way that leads to a sense of helplessness. I have responses to three main themes in your posts.

    1. There are plenty of times where emotions prop up faulty logic. One time I injured my foot and it hurt for a long time, but the doctor said there was nothing to be done as nothing was broken and it was just very sore tissue that would stop hurting in time. It lasted for months and besides the pain I was worried and being in my late teens at the time embarrassed by my limp.

    Then, eventually, it was better on its own like the doctor had said. Now let’s say that in the few days before it stopped hurting, I had used some kind of alternative medicine or gone to a faith healer or used any other dubious treatment. I would have probably made the mistake of attributing my perfectly natural recovery to herbs or God or witchcraft.

    This would have been the post hoc fallacy and while garden variety misunderstanding of the rules of logic would be partly to blame, emotions like relief at feeling better or anger at the real doctor not having a quick and easy solution might have discouraged critical thought on the subject because a magical cure is more emotionally fulfilling than bad bruises or whatever clearing up on their own.

    In this type of situation, there is a genuine reason vs. emotion conflict. But the overall relationship between reason and emotion is complicated and kind of strange and paradoxical. Paul was wrong in assuming that philosophers should have believed in his new religion on the grounds of his mystical experiences. But why did either side care about truth as they understood it in the first place!?

    Logic doesn’t order you to use it to think more clearly about the world any more than a car tells you to dive it to worthwhile destinations as opposed to going in circles. You know about using logic because you were able to discipline your thoughts and feelings enough to learn about it.

    But motives for using it: wanting to think well so as to properly process information and understand the world better, wanting to see through tricks people use to take advantage of you, enjoying the mental exercise. These aren’t logical or illogical any more than the destination is the car. They are desires and urges. Using reason is a better way of fulfilling them than other methods like looking for omens in the sky.

    It isn’t just that emotions (broadly defined) are part of you that need to be balanced with reason. They are the basic motivational states that make the Greek philosopher want to avoid Paul’s mistake of assuming that he can understand the universe based on some colorful subjective experiences. The states behind anyone wanting or valuing anything. I think research on people who lack emotional responses suggest a symbiotic relationship between thought and feeling.

    2. We need to understand that there are different types of discourse. In presenting an argument for a naturalistic worldview–answering the question ‘why are you an atheist and why do you think I should be one?’–the appropriate approaches would include demonstrating that there is no reliable evidence for supernatural claims, arguing for the great explanatory power of scientific knowledge, showing logical flaws in theological arguments, etc.

    But not everything that a given atheist talks and writes about is limited to this kind of communication. Sometimes we, like anyone else, want to tell our own story, talk about things that are bothering us, express outrage against things that we consider cruel and unjust or ask other people about themselves. Suffering abuse and rejection motivated by the religious beliefs of others is a widespread experience. Sharing a personal story can show others with similar experiences that they aren’t alone and can be a message to bullies to back off.

    3. Privilege, power and an individual’s particular background ars real things. The facts about a person’s background and the forces that have shaped their life and perspective on life are part of the world. Taking these into account in oneself and others is important and can be enlightening. But yes, it can be a problem when these issues are approached with the assumption that we are stuck in place or doomed to repeat the past.

  31. adamah says

    Bruce, I’m replying to both posts, since you raised issues in both that are easier to handle separately.

    Bruce said (caps are Adam’s for emphasis)-

    It is exactly what you’re saying. You’re saying because of HOW he says something, not WHAT he says, he shouldn’t be welcomed amongst rationalists.

    As I’ve explained elsewhere, I’m challenging him on WHAT he says, questioning his very use of the term tone policing (a synonym for tone trolling).

    I’m wondering whether Alex even knows what the phrase ‘tone trolling’ (TT) actually means?

    He cites TT as a defense, as if it provides complete shielding from ALL subsequent criticism, protecting him from challenge on not just style (which it legitimately does), but also protecting elements of his argument from challenge (which it doesn’t), or his reliance on logical fallacies (which it doesn’t).

    It’s like Alex doesn’t understand the difference between ‘style’ and ‘substance’?

    In order to understand TT, you need to understand it’s flip-side, the ‘style over substance’ (SOS) fallacy, a subtle trick even used by the author of Genesis. In more recent times, it’s been used by the likes of Johnny Cochran, as it’s often effective in persuading individuals if they’re unaware it’s being used (as I point out in the following article):

    http://awgue.weebly.com/what-did-ojs-legal-defense-team-and-genesis-yahwist-have-in-common.html

    ‘TT’ is this related to SOS in that both focus on style/tone/methods rather than substance. But instead of attempting to PERSUADE via style (SOS), citing TT is used as a defense against criticism of the person’s choice of style, and not necessarily to discredit their argument.

    (Here’s one to ponder:

    Am I guilty of TT Cochran for pointing out his use of the SOS fallacy in my article? Could Cochan rightly protest by accusing me of “TT!” for calling him out on SOS?

    No, since a protest of TT is NOT a valid defense against use of OTHER fallacies, including the related SOS.

    It’s why anyone who calls others out publicly had better make damned sure they can prove their accusation. And of course, Cochran didn’t resort to insulting witnesses or prosecutors: that would get him reprimanded by the judge, charged with contempt of court or disbarred.)

    Because obviously somebody who has been abused and is angry about it, and expresses it in an angry manner is obviously not qualified to be a rationalist.

    Is that the threshold you’re suggesting, that abuse victims are to be given a free pass?

    So obvious guy asks, how do we verify who’s actually suffered abuse, and is thus justified to be given a ‘free pass’ to violate the rules of rationalism?

    Should only those victims who’ve prevailed in a court case be given a free pass?

    Are you suggesting posters be given a special icon to identify them as untouchable to questioning, where their expressions are NOT to be challenged, perhaps to protect their fragile emotional state and feelings from hurt?

    How is that any different from ‘emotional blackmail’?

    And WHICH specific fallacies are you suggesting they be exempted from?

    No it isn’t. All the evidence we have demonstrates that consciousness is a product of our biology and when we die, it stops. We know for a fact that there is no afterlife, because mind-body dualism has been repeatedly disproved throughout history via things like drugs and brain damage.

    The almond pits can at least be shown to exist – the same cannot be said of the “soul” and without that there is no afterlife.

    Scientists DON’T know “for a fact there is no afterlife”.

    In fact, the entire concept of the afterlife is NOT even within the realm of scientific inquiry, and hence the existence of an afterlife is immune from testing (its untestable, so we’re unable to falsify or prove).

    The same limitation applies to the inquiries of the existence of God, and the concept of human souls. Science is thus mute on the issue of all ideas labelled as ‘supernatural’.

    ( That’s why I said your analogy was bad.)

    As to the definition of rationalism it is simply “any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification”. Emotion is a part of reason.

    “I do X because I am angry” is a reason (and like any given reason probably an oversimplification, but it still counts.) You cannot divorce emotion from rationalism because then you’re dismissing a whole chunk of what constitutes reason.

    You’re begging the question here, and creating a false dilemma.

    The actual question is WHERE do we draw the line for emotional DISPLAYS?

    Are insults and ad homs OK or not?

    Or are they OK only if someone is LEGITIMATELY and verifiably wronged and justified to be spitting mad?

    Are you in essence suggesting that the “tuo quoque” fallacy (two wrongs make a right) should be thrown out, too?

    Your position is actually the anti-rationalist one, in that you are dismissing data because it is off-putting to you in its presentation. That is frankly, to be blunt about it, ad hominem.

    Nope, I’m not offended: instead, I feel sad for those who lack the ability to control their anger in a manner that’s not self-destructive and counter-productive.

    Sure there are times where emotion is irrelevant data to an argument, this isn’t one of them.

    The hell it isn’t, lol!

    Alex’s article is calling out the tone troll police in the title, with him telling them to put a sock in it after he trolls (baits fellow atheists with the FYG comment).

    That’s classic circular (il)logic at play, an example that would make even a Xian fundamentalist say, “Damn, that dude is illogical as hell: he should take a logic course!”, lol!

    One should also point out that rationalism has serious weaknesses given the supremacy to reason over sensory observation – as such it produces lovely fields like the Chicago school of economics, which may be rational but don’t necessarily align to actual observed reality.

    Yeah, interesting point, but it’s an implied ‘appeal to hypocrisy’. Whether hypocrisy exists in those who claim to be rational is irrelevant to whether rationalism is superior to emotionally-driven decision-making.

    And you didn’t have to look to economics to make that fallacious argument: you need look no further than Catholics who tell themselves it’s perfectly rational to believe a cracker transubstantiates into Jesus’ flesh in their mouths, or even this thread, with those looking for post-hoc rationalizations to rewrite the foundational principles of rationalism to excuse the emotional outbursts of others.

  32. brucegorton says

    Adamah
    He cites TT as a defense, as if it provides complete shielding from ALL subsequent criticism, protecting him from challenge on not just style (which it legitimately does), but also protecting elements of his argument from challenge (which it doesn’t), or his reliance on logical fallacies (which it doesn’t).

    From the OP:

    There are times when rhetoric should be policed or at least regulated through criticism. It’s true many attacks made on religion, especially by those still forming atheist identities, are ill-informed, sectarian or oversimplistic — and that such attacks often punch down, reaching for racism, classism or mental health stigma as antitheist ammunition. (There are many other examples.)

    It needn’t be so. I’ve challenged this because I think we can and should go after God without harming the downtrodden through splash damage. Doing so on everyone’s behalf who’s been downtrodden by religion is itself, I adamantly believe, a mission of social justice. Failing at it by making substantive errors or throwing the marginalised under the bus invites and deserves criticism; a rhetoric powered by justified anger needs to be carefully controlled.

    So, care to walk that one back a bit?

    Scientists DON’T know “for a fact there is no afterlife”.
    In fact, the entire concept of the afterlife is NOT even within the realm of scientific inquiry, and hence the existence of an afterlife is immune from testing (its untestable, so we’re unable to falsify or prove).

    It is falsifiable, and it has been falsified.

    The afterlife requires the soul – which is supposed to be an element to consciousness otherwise there is no “you” going there.

    Consciousness is actually something we can and do study – as yet there is no evidence for a soul and quite a lot of evidence against it (EG: the fact that we can trace how thoughts arise within the brain, and important elements of personality and memory can be affected by brain damage and drugs, which possibly explains why the religious right has such a hard-on for them.)

    The after-life is the neuroscientific equivalent to the Garden of Eden, a fantasy setting requiring fantasy mechanics. Not real.

    Why don’t you hear this more often? Because even the most liberal religious would baulk at the idea that it isn’t just God on the chopping block, it is how they define their very selves.

  33. brucegorton says

    Tag fail

    Scientists DON’T know “for a fact there is no afterlife”.
    In fact, the entire concept of the afterlife is NOT even within the realm of scientific inquiry, and hence the existence of an afterlife is immune from testing (its untestable, so we’re unable to falsify or prove).

  34. adamah says

    Bruce, thanks for the reply.

    Bruce said-

    No, I am not claiming he crossed the line. I am stating that given Alex specific aims IE: “I must talk about religion and the things it did to me, and must do so however I like. This is my goal, not just a means to it ”.

    So you disagree Alex “crossed the tone line”, offering that paragraph as if it serves as justification?

    In the excerpt, Alex admits to being someone who’s going to do whatever he wants to do anyway since it’s his goal, and screw anyone who tries to tell him otherwise.

    He demands immunity from criticism (regardless of its validity) simply by saying it’s his goal to have immunity from criticism?

    That kind of dogmatic approach is compelling to you, why, exactly?

    His words, “I must do so, however I like”, with no one to answer to but himself is the kind of self-entitled claim which is even uglier than teleological-justified thinking: at least in the latter, someone attempts to offer up a justification for their actions!

    Alex is saying screw the need to offer ANY justification, as I’m going to do what I want anyway.

    (BTW, his earlier comment is recognizing the need to be aware of collateral damage, which is correct: I acknowledged it above when I pointed out his at least being aware of trampling thru flowerbeds of others. He simply contradicts himself with his words above, claiming his right to speak however he wants.)

    If only it were as simple as declaring oneself to be immune from accountability for it to actually be true! That statement is strongly indicative of ‘magical thinking’, as if simply uttering some rhetorical equivalent of “abracadabra!” grants one ‘special powers and immunity’ (he’s making it clear he’s going to do whatever he wants to do, no matter what anyone else has to say about it, rational of not).

    Furthermore, it seems as if Alex fails to differentiate between factors of ‘style’ and ‘substance’, thus misunderstands what constitutes the ‘tone trolling’ (TT) offense. He fails to grasp that citing TT as a defense isn’t unlimited in applicability or scope, but is valid ONLY to shield criticism of his choice of STYLE: it doesn’t protect him from criticism of his elements of his ARGUMENT, nor if he ‘crosses the tone line’.

    Alex may be confusing the principles of rationalism with the rules of tag (where a child tags another kid and declares, “You’re it!”). Perhaps he thinks Aristotle came up with the principle, “No tag-backs, frontsies or backsies”, and then incorporated into logical fallacies?

    If the “Gabriel fallacy” were not fallacious, then anyone could simply declare their goal is to become a ‘sacred cow’ for their cause célèbre, and their arguments are thereafter considered untouchable, given complete immunity from questioning. They’d have unconditional rights to say whatever they feel, even if it constitutes trolling, since that was their goal.

    Circular reason much?

    Granted, he’s preaching to the choir here by declaring his right to engage in unrestricted license to bash religion: that’s an easy-sell to a forum of atheists. But is it rational to spur him on?

    proclaiming emotion as fallacious is quite frankly dismissing data relevant to the argument.

    Not all emotionally-based arguments or emotional displays are verboten, and to repeatedly suggest otherwise is an argument ad nauseum.

    It’s NOT an “all or none” issue, since the actual question is WHERE the line is, ie HOW MUCH display of emotion is needed to constitute a foul of crossing the tone line into blatant trolling?

    As I said previously, it’s quite possible for even survivors of childhood sexual abuse (which Alex doesn’t claim to be) to publicly share their experiences, without resorting to spewing profanity (as if they suffer from Tourettes).

    And even setting aside the issue of where the line is, I challenge the premise that ANYONE is self-privileged such that they “must be able to do as they like” as if a self-appointed vigilante. Rationalists voluntarily enter a social contract to abide by the rules of logic.

    Anyone who thinks they should be free to do as they like might consider starting their own cultic extremist group, as the rationalist movement has a long history of ownership of the name.

    (Maybe Alex can call it something like, I dunno, “A+I”? Is “Atheist plus irrationalism’ already trademarked?)

    :)

    No amount of magical thinking is going to make the ‘appeal to emotion (anger)’ fallacy magically disappear from logic textbooks, or make his “FYG!” outburst at the end constitute any other than blatant trolling of fellow atheists and believers who know trolling when they see it.

    From the Oxford Dictionary (irony noted):

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/troll

    INFORMAL Make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.

    Bruce says-
    Alex’s central point is that there are more reasons for people to discuss religion than seeking to convert others, that discussing the harms caused by religion can be an end unto itself.

    Sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that his goal is to speak in whatever tone he likes: he’s denying that the rules apply to him.

    Of course there’s many different goals in discussing religion, but some are mutually-exclusive. If one’s purpose is simply to find an excuse to insult or provoke others, then that’s diametrically-opposed to persuading via reason, since insults aren’t persuasive (unless also relying on a fallacious “appeal to shame” argument).

    But to say it’s an ‘either/or situation is a false dilemma, since aside from those seeking to insult or troll, it’s possible to satisfy many goals without jeopardizing one’s commitment to rationalism.

    That goes back to my first post, where I said to consider what one’s goal is BEFORE opening one’s mouth: is it to persuade or ego gratification (to tell yourself how smart you are for figuring out the obvious)?

    I suspect Alex HAS asked himself that question, and his answer was the is the latter (see his performance in the Unbelievable podcast, below, for evidence).

    If you’re a regular viewer of the AXP, you know Don presents a series on the topic of the harm of religious belief (last week, it was about damage to the environment).

    Don accomplishes it by sticking to logic and reason, and no doubt doesn’t expect to be granted immunity from challenge on his facts or premises: he’s a rationalist, and presumably understands what ‘trolling’ and ‘tone trolling’ are. I doubt he expects to be exempted from criticism if he were to cross the ‘tone line’ into blatant trolling or hurling insults, knowing limits exist.

    Given that this is the position Gabriel takes, it is in part informed by emotion – thus it forms relevant data.

    Emotion isn’t relevant if we are discussing existence claims, how I feel about X being existing wouldn’t impact whether it actually did or not one way or another, but when we are discussing how to deal with emotions and their roots then they are very much the entire point to the discussion.

    Sure, but there’s a World of difference between DISPLAYING emotions vs DISCUSSING emotions. You seem to equivocate that distinction?

    If Alex even realizes he has an issue managing his anger, then techniques can be learned to overcome: that’s the very goal of cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of anger.

    BTW, Bruce, I note you’ve also managed to discuss the topic of emotional harm from religion without resorting to trolling or insulting.

    Don’t look now, but I think you’ve just offered more anecdotal evidence that not only IS it POSSIBLE, it’s actually quite NECESSARY if one’s goal is to engage in rational discourse (and not simply to vent one’s spleen).

    ;)

    BTW, I just listened to the Unbelievable podcast episode (dated 12/15/12), featuring Alex Gabriel debating Peter Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens brother, a believer who shares his brother’s logical confidence, organizing and presenting his thoughts in a lucid manner to defend his Xian faith).

    Peter absolutely wiped the floor vs. Alex’s incoherent and hostile approach, where the moderator repeatedly had to warn Alex not to insult Peter, but his argument (and Alex didn’t even drop the f-bomb).
    As an atheist who knows the bog-standard anti-apologetic arguments Alex was attempting to make, I could figure out what he was trying to say; if not, I’d have no clue what he was ranting about.

    Towards the end, Alex’s temper tantrums played right into Peter’s hands, where he expressed sympathy for Alex and justifiably-delivered the dreaded line of atheists everywhere (paraphrased):

    “It’s clear you had a bad experience with Xianity in your childhood that left you with a lot of anger; I’d encourage you to give Xianity another change, perhaps trying a different denomination?”

    The thing is, Alex completely set himself up and actually justified it: he couldn’t have done a better job of begging for such if he’d tried, since ranting of the paint that religion caused him in his childhood typecast himself as an angry atheist (just like the stereotypical angry atheist professor in “God is Not Dead!”). Hence Peter’s line came off as legitimate concern (rather than an “appeal to motives” fallacy that it actually is), and the words likely resonating with the audience by perpetuating the characterure and even confirming their faith.

    Way to drive believers in even deeper, Alex!

    Style and tone matters, folks. Deny it at your own risk, but religions know it: there’s a good reason JWs and Mormons want their members clean-cut, well-spoken, and polite…

    It’s recognized by rationalists, as well: that’s the reason debates score participants down for insulting the other team, and the various rules limiting tone exist in the rules of logic.

    And if such self-centered angry arrogance is the face of ‘new atheism’, then no thanks, I’ll just stick with the ‘old atheism': you remember, the one that’s based on reason, not fighting for the contrived ‘right’ to insult believers (based on twisted interpretation of the rules of logic).

  35. Monocle Smile says

    Am I the only one who gets the impression that adam’s just a try-hard concern troll?

  36. adamah says

    Hi Ed,

    Thanks for your response, and I generally agree with what you’ve written, as it sounds like you’ve done a bit of thinking on the role of emotions as basic motivators.

    It isn’t just that emotions (broadly defined) are part of you that need to be balanced with reason.

    Interesting, as ancient Jews didn’t believe that Adam and Eve were made as “perfect” by God; instead, they were made with the capacity (or inclination) for good and evil, the ‘yetzers’ (hara and hatov).

    The Jewish thinking of the evil inclination is NOT that it’s to be eliminated, but checked; they thought it was required for humans to get out of bed in the morning, to build a house, work, get married, have children, etc. Instead, the individual was expected to develop their good inclination to counterbalance the evil, as a form of self-regulation (with Deuteronomical Code serving as a back-stop, if an individual fails to self-regulate).

    These tendencies play a big role in the Jewish interpretation of the Garden of Eden account, but especially in the Flood (where God even refers to man’s evil inclination by name, as if he’s just figuring out it exists?). God carries out the Flood as a warm-up to the actual reason for the Flood: prohibiting bloodshed, the first time in the Torah that God intervenes in human affairs by handing down criminal law (in Genesis 9).

    (It seems God in his infinite wisdom apparently forgot to give men laws outlawing murder until AFTER the Flood! Since early Jewish theology didn’t conceive of YHWH as omniscient, that continuity error likely didn’t even raise an eyebrow, and that’s a problem for Xians to handle with cognitive dissonance suppression techniques).

    Many Xians miss the entire point of the Flood account by focusing on the Ark and animals, missing God’s the reference to the yetzer, and thus miss a crucial element which makes an outlandish tale seem at least a tad somewhat less inexplicable.

    Regardless, the ‘yetzer’ is actually a pretty-sophisticated model used by ancients to explain motives, and points to how theology actually WAS an ancient attempt to explain the World and its observed phenomena (including human behavior), thousands of years before the scientific method developed. Pointing out the clouds as you say WAS the best explanation of the time

    Denying that religious beliefs served as a stepping stone to led to where we are today is as silly as denouncing alchemy, as if it weren’t also a stage in development.

    The same argument can be made for Jewish practice of quarantining, or the practice of handwashing and washing of utensils (which Jesus poo-poohed, likely due to his own pouty-lipped anti-authoritarian attitude of, “You’re not the boss over me!”, as I discussed in the article:

    http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-jesus-protest-washing-hands-before-eating.html

    Of course, I’m not suggesting religion still has a value; I’m arguing that we’ve outgrown it, and it’s a retarding influence at this point. But to deny it as a useful stage from our past is as silly as being embarrassed over one’s baby photos.

    In this type of situation, there is a genuine reason vs. emotion conflict. But the overall relationship between reason and emotion is complicated and kind of strange and paradoxical. Paul was wrong in assuming that philosophers should have believed in his new religion on the grounds of his mystical experiences. But why did either side care about truth as they understood it in the first place!?

    [....]

    It isn’t just that emotions (broadly defined) are part of you that need to be balanced with reason. They are the basic motivational states that make the Greek philosopher want to avoid Paul’s mistake of assuming that he can understand the universe based on some colorful subjective experiences. The states behind anyone wanting or valuing anything. I think research on people who lack emotional responses suggest a symbiotic relationship between thought and feeling.

    Of course, it’s actually much worse than you say, as Paul believed the reasoning of God was beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, so Paul felt it was foolish to even try to understand His ways, let alone question them (a theme common in the OT). Paul believed faith not only trumped reason, it was absolutely required for salvation.

    The paradox was Paul had to use principles of reason in order to “sell” non-believers on the superiority of faith; people don’t just develop faith de novo. So every time a Christian engages in a debate, they’re tacitly acknowledging that rationalism plays an important role, but they’d claim it’s a means to an end of getting converts to place faith at the top of their “totem pole” of values.

    I don’t think many atheists are going to argue that faith is not driven moreso by emotions (love, fear, etc.), but it also relies on the liberal use of logical rationalizations (eg operating out of one’s best-interests, or telling oneself they’re actually helping others by preaching the gospel, etc).

    In fact, the Xian value of faith is a GREAT example of why its important to keep a rein (check) on one’s emotions, and not just one’s sense of privilege.

    (I’m assuming you were responding to my comment on not just checking privilege, but needing to check emotion? I’m not a black-and-white thinker, but some here are incredibly prone to jumping to extremes by making hasty conclusions.)

    So yet again, the question is what is at the CORE of accepting a proposed belief: is the decision primarily driven by calm and rational examination of the evidence, or is it driven moreso by emotion?

    It only takes accepting one flawed premise to set off a chain reaction that leads to accepting a false conclusion, which can have devastating consequences (as an ex-JW, the obvious example is someone who accepts the JW religion after being “love-bombed”; their doctrine requires members to refuse blood transfusions: JWs die for it, as a result).

    But not everything that a given atheist talks and writes about is limited to this kind of communication. Sometimes we, like anyone else, want to tell our own story, talk about things that are bothering us, express outrage against things that we consider cruel and unjust or ask other people about themselves. Suffering abuse and rejection motivated by the religious beliefs of others is a widespread experience. Sharing a personal story can show others with similar experiences that they aren’t alone and can be a message to bullies to back off.

    As stated elsewhere, it’s quite possible to relate one’s personal emotional story without excessively ‘appealing to emotions’.

    Alex is resorting to Westboro Baptist Church-style baiting, and no amount of fallacious “ends justify the means” excusiology will transform that FYG! into anything else.

    As I just pointed out to Bruce, Alex apparently doesn’t even feel the need to offer the pretense of justification, simply declaring his ‘end’ IS to do as he likes, as a law unto himself.

    That’s actually worse than the WBC, since most people don’t know the group has lawyers who are careful to make sure the group abides with restrictions for their “protests”: they meet with local officials and law enforcement a few days before staging a protest, getting a permit in writing which stipulates restrictions on the location, noise, etc. That fact was recently noted by justices in a recent SCOTUS ruling in their favor.

    But Alex has a rhetorical strategy, declaring oneself immune. Huh, whoda thunk it were so easy?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your interesting thoughts!

  37. adamah says

    Uh, how can I be a ‘concern troll’ when I obviously don’t agree with his argument or his position?

    Way to demonstrate you don’t even know what a concern troll is…

    MS, try looking up the definition of a fallacy next time BEFORE you fling it.

  38. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Monocle Smile:

    Am I the only one who gets the impression that adam’s just a try-hard concern troll?

     
    Lausten North (Dark Ages):

    You spend a lot of time name-calling and making standard insults that are commonly found on forums. I’m starting to get bored. I made a couple attempts to find agreement and build on some common ground, but that apparently is not your thing.

    I see, you came here for an argument, and perhaps to dish out some abuse, but I’m here for dialogue. I’ll try going down the corridor to room 12A.

     
    Narf (Determining Attributes and Effects of Gods):

    Do you even realize how dishonest you’re being, Adam? [...] Clearly you’re too stupid to grasp conversational English and basic concepts, despite your much flaunted education. This is where I walk away, because you’re too dense to be worth having a conversation with.

     
    CA7746 (Callout Culture):

    Your concern is noted.

    Article: RationalWiki – Concern Troll

     
    Monocle Smile (First Rule of Holes):

    Holy fucking shit, adam. There’s only one reason you could possibly be playing this stupid, meaningless mind games. Fuck you.

     
    Mus (#877):

    give Adam what he wants, i.e., a banning.

     
    EnlightenmentLiberal (#878):

    Your reply consists almost entirely of strawman and out of context quote mines. You should feel bad.

     
    changerofbits (Here):

    Seriously Adam, you are either a fool or a troll.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    Fuck, you’re stupid.

    The scope is larger than just this post. You should be able to figure this out…but you either won’t or you’ll just dismiss it like you dismiss everything else that doesn’t fit in your little Adam box.

  40. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    MS, something like that. But I have a high tolerance for pain, and I might even be a masochist, so as long as his replies are halfway cogent and I feel like I’m making some progress, I’ll continue.

  41. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Cool… cool… oh, right.
     
    Jasper of Maine (Determining Attributes and Effects of Gods):

    Welcome to the club.

     
    My memory/skimming didn’t recover something pithy from corwyn to add to the list.

  42. adamah says

    Sky, since you reposted the link, I’ll take that as you volunteering to explain to everyone how I meet the criteria of a ‘concern troll’.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Concern_troll

    Here’s the definition from the link you provided:

    A concern troll visits sites of an opposing ideology and offers advice on how they could “improve” things, either in their tactical use of rhetoric, site rules, or with more philosophical consistency.

    Heck, I’ll even help you get started.

    Uh-oh: note the phrase, “opposing ideology”.

    That means you’re going to have to prove I’m NOT an atheist, but a theist.

    Now even setting aside the Sye-level of arrogance required to tell others what they actually believe (!), I’m pretty sure I actually AM an atheist (if not, I probably should quit wearing that t-shirt from the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galápagos Islands, Equador; I also shouldn’t write articles on my website debunking the Bible).

    Dismissing such evidence will likely require constructing some elaborate Xian conspiracy theory, using innuendo-filled mumblings or babbling about planted ‘false flags’ (a fave buzzword of conspiracy theorists to dismiss disconfirmatory evidence). You could suggest all of it’s just a cover so I can infiltrate atheist sites to spread FUD amongst heathens! That should do the trick for defusing the word, “opposing”.

    You’re also going to have a problem with ‘ideology’, since many of us (uh, many of YOU; you’re saying I’m not an atheist, right?) would say atheism is NOT an ideology, since it’s not a belief (let alone a SET of beliefs).

    (I don’t say that: I hold it’s a belief in God’s non-existence, where the term ‘non-belief’ should be reserved for that which we have no concept of. However, that’s largely quibbling, and OT.)

    Anyway, you can just magically make those two words disappear from the definition, sweeping both under the rug. Words, schmirds: who bothers to look up silly ol’ definitions, anyway?

    So I just dismantled those two for you (and you’re welcome!).

    However, the bit on “offering advice on how to improve things” is all on you, Jack, since I wasn’t offering suggestions for improvement: I was calling Alex out for apparently not knowing what the term ‘TT’ means, and for using a self-referential justification to troll (his whole, ‘I must talk however I like about the harm religion caused me, since that’s my goal’).

    That’s even worse than saying ‘the ends justify the means’, since he’s saying, ‘my ends are justified by my ends’. Huh?

    That’s the atheist version of the theist quoting Bible scriptures to prove the Bible is the inspired word of God; or saying how belief in the existence of God can only occur if one assumes God exists.

    Talk about begging the question, and circular reasoning!

    It’s not like Alex doesn’t know what circular logic is: he snickered at that last suggestion when Jeff Cook said it during a debate on Unbelievable? podcast (03 Nov 2012, ~59:00 mark):

    http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Is-God-Worth-Believing-In-Unbelievable

    Alex snickers at such circular illogic of a theist, yet he offers the same illogic in his article to his fellow rationalists, as if hoping they’ll turn off skepticism for him?

    Hence my challenge is on a SUBSTANCE issue (which Alex admits in the article as valid grounds for questioning him).

    Yet not even a peep out of Alex, as if continuing to cite TT is all the justification needed for blanket immunity. Not-so-clever clogs, there….

    So explain away that expression of theistic-grade goofiness if you can: it’s going to require greater powers of secular deepity-doo than I can muster.

    You up to it, Sky?

    Oh, PS: if you’re going to post links to articles as a Google Master, try READING them first and not just scanning for ‘cherry-picking’ out the bits you like (that’s like a believer who “quote-mines” from scientific journals which they don’t read (much less understand) in their rush to disprove evolution).

    Here’s the section you conveniently skipped (title in Latin is, ‘Caveat Lector'; it means, “reader beware”):

    CAVEAT LECTOR

    The danger, of course, is that not everyone with a concern is a concern troll – and not every concern is unreasonable.

    In environments of genuine groupthink, applying the concern troll label may serve as a means of enforcing conformity and punishing (or silencing) dissent. And even without actual groupthink in play, many Internet posters find dismissing an argument much quicker and easier than evaluating it.

    In addition, the term “concern troll” focuses not on what the person is actually saying, but on some alleged agenda. Thus, if misused, it is the perfect refuge for someone who has no counter to the actual argument: simply ignore the point made, allege some other position, and then accuse the other person of lying if they deny that is what they’re really saying. It’s a combination of straw man and argumentum ad hominem: make up something to attack, and ignore their actual points on the basis that since the points were made by someone acting in bad faith, they need not be addressed.

    Sound familar?

    ‘Appealing to group-think’ (by offering a list of victims of it) IS fallacious; it’s NOT an argument (much less a refutation).

    And thanks for the trip down memory lane: you remind me of when I was a kid out on the playground at recess, and some would lock arms and chant, “We don’t stop for anybody!”

    It was all good childish fun back then, but now? It’s an embarrassing attempt at choreographing a mob, no less in a group called “freethinkers”.

    ‘Appealing to mob mentality’ is no a refutation.

    Sky, it’s so much easier to simply admit you’ve got nothing left but a terminal case of ‘butt-hurtitis': no facts, no arguments, no refutation, nothing but whining about the meanie man who gave your ego a boo-boo.

    If you can’t challenge arguments and/or lack the intellectual integrity and/or courage to admit ‘you grabbed the wrong end of the plunger’ (yet again), then just don’t post: no one forces you to read or comment on EVERY post.

    Wouldn’t that be the more RATIONAL, adult-like thing to do?

  43. jdoran says

    (stolen from elsewhere)

    Analagous Adamah Discussion Theater:

    A better analogy would be if someone walks into a championship tournament, says “GEE I THINK I MAY HAVE TRANSCENDED THE UNDERSTANDING OF SOME OF YOU GRANDMASTERS HERE, WANT TO JOIN MY NEW SCHOOL OF CHESS STRATEGY?”, then loses by scholar’s mate twice in the first round.

    This person then refuses to leave his seat, claiming that he needs additional proof that the queen in f7 actually ontologically exists before he will admit defeat, and that the rules of the CHESS ESTABLISHMENT were unfairly biased against him by disallowing the possibility of his king being able to leapfrog pieces.

    By now, the debate has splintered off into innumerable tangents, with the one man against literally every other player and referee present at the tournament. Finally, he graciously accepts the possibility of defeat in some of the myriad topics now being covered. OK, maybe the tallest player doesn’t always get to go first. Fine, I will concede that there isn’t much evidence to support my third-invisible-knight hypothesis. But that’s all irrelevant. What he wants to concentrate on, and what nobody has yet been able to disprove, he adds, is the ability of the king to leapfrog over other pieces.

    The argument drags on for weeks. Finally, one afternoon, the beet-faced referee exhausts his last reserves of decency and throws his arms up in frustration and despair. “YOU FUCKING RETARD, HOW CAN YOU LAY CLAIM TO KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT CHESS STRATEGY WHEN YOU DON’T EVEN GRASP THE MOST BASIC RULES!?” He shouts, just as a new entrant walks through the door. “I’m sorry,” replies the man calmly, “I simply cannot discuss the rules of chess with such an ‘official’ if you insist on using such strong and uncouth language. Please retract your insults or I will be forced to plug my ears whenever you say anything from now on.”

    Seeing only this last exchange, the new entrant pipes up. “He’s right, you know. If he did something wrong, then you as the referee have every right to tell him he is so, but it should be done with a patient and thorough explanation of the details of his error. Hurling ridicule at him solves nothing and won’t change anyone’s mind.”

    The lazy eye of the retarded List-following, King-leapfrogging man twitches almost unnoticeably, as he cranes his head towards the source of this new voice. A welcoming smile cracks, inch by beaming inch, across his face. He licks his lips. He clears his throat.

    “So glad to know decent people like you still value a polite discussion. Care for a game?”

  44. adamah says

    Jdoran said-

    Analagous Adamah Discussion Theater:

    Sorry, but I’m not a big fan of analogies, since they’re often misunderstood and/or misapplied.

    However, since many failed to detect Alex’s sleight-of-hand, I used an analogy to compare Alex’s use of circular logic to the theists’ (the more-well known example).

    Was I assuming too much by thinking everyone could handle an analogy?

    The basic principle is an analogy should rely on a commonly-encountered (and hence, easier-to-understand) relationships amongst elements in order to explain a similar relationship you’re trying to explain: if not, the analogy fails.

    eg Tracy recently used the ‘rooster crowing at sunrise’ analogy to compare to Matt’s perception of being filled with Holy Spirit.

    The rooster analogy is a valid approach to demonstrating the post-hoc fallacy, where one preemptively concludes, “Therefore, Rooster (causes the Sun to rise)” just like someone who perceives being filled with Holy Spirit improperly concludes, “Therefore, Holy Spirit (caused the perception of ecstasy).”

    Unless the analogy is more-readily understood (and less-complex) than the relationship it’s attempting to explain, the analogy fails.

    BTW, it’s spelled ‘analogous’.

    ;)

  45. says

    Adam, as long as you claim to be “RATIONAL”, I’ll do you a PSA: You’re beating up a strawman again; we don’t think you’re a theist. Your fixation on strict definitions ignores both the reality that labels used to describe things are fluid and that they are highly dependent on context. The “concern troll” comment by MS was, well, commentary about how you exhibit some behavior consistent with a “concern troll”, not some rock solid, non-fallacious syllogism to establish irrefutably that you are one and therefore a theist. While I find it amusingly ironic (yet again!) that you devote a 1000 word, “concern trollish” post to this, it is also patronizing and dishonest when you repeatedly run down one of your self-gratifying semantic rabbit holes. It’s like you’re universe shopping for the one in which you’re right, ignoring the possibility that you could be wrong in the one we share.

  46. adamah says

    @49, I didn’t provide the definition: Sky Capt did. So if you’ve got a beef with the definition he pulled off Google, then whine to him. Don’t blame me for actually reading what it says.

    Hopefully you’re not just bandying some cool-sounding buzzword around (which you think makes you appear to be a clever clogs), while you’re unable and/or unwilling to explain what it actually means?

    Since you think I’m too pedantic, sure, I’ll play along.

    Would you care to share your definition of a ‘concern troll’?

    Just be prepared to offer evidence of how I fit whatever definition which you manage to come up (hopefully using rules of rational thinking, i.e. respecting the conventional logical fallacies, etc).

    @50, I don’t think Jdoran is much of the chess-playing type, buts trikes me as more of a checkers person.

    just sayin?

    ;)

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