How to argue about how to argue about how to argue

Today’s installment of Dawkins setting the world straight on everything.

(Have you noticed that he’s tweeting in this way more now that so many people have made it so clear to him that they think setting the world straight via Twitter is not part of his skill set? I’ve noticed that.)

Chastity deprives people of existence. It doesn’t kill people. Early abortion resembles abstinence not murder. Not everyone understands this

The reason is simple. An unconceived potential person is not a person. An undifferentiated embryo is not a person. Acorns are not oak trees.

“We get it”. Yes i know YOU get it, but you aren’t everybody. There are millions who don’t get it & think all abortion is absolutely wrong.

[Read more...]

Guest post: Or we can learn to understand sociopolitical sensitivities

Originally a comment by Brony on Orwellian but unofficial.

As a pejorative, “Politically Correct” has lost its bite.

Good. Awareness of sociopolitical sensitivities is a good thing because it adds precision. It should be a neutral.

What we have is an Orwellian (but unofficial) “Thought Police”

Wait, what?

So the back and forth that society uses to come to decisions of current issues of importance is now the same as a government controlling expressions that implicitly support opponents or oppose the status quo? Maybe I’m missing some subtlety but this seems the literal opposite of the actual situation. Dawkins is receiving criticism, losing some supporters, and maybe even gaining some as a result of his actions (I would be very interested in correlations in that last group). You can’t frame the whole thing in terms of criticism and losing support as “Thought Police”.

That’s some serious conservative level whining at a changing culture right there.

Rotherham Police & Council were fearful of the Thought Police:
Let’s learn to lose our fear of the Thought Police.

Or we can learn to understand sociopolitical sensitivities so we can deal with them appropriately and contextually. Some matter, some don’t. Just ignoring them is how groups of little boys preferred to operate back in school.

Academics fly kites, try ideas on colleagues & students, often rejecting them after discussion. “What if . ..?” “Could it be that . . .?”

What is being asked is for the casualness and thoughtlessness to be avoided. Who tries ideas and ignores whole categories of responses? Sociopolitical sensitivities are data! Is beating on lived experience really part of the equation? I find it hard to believe this guy is a scientist but I know better.

I’ve made the same damn mistake as Dawkins around here a couple of times (maybe more than a couple), but I asked people to tell me why what I said was a problem because I wanted to know what happened to give them a painful reaction so I could accommodate that phenomena because I don’t want to hurt people. That Dawkins can’t do this (maybe won’t, I’m unsure about the filters that being an authority puts on your mind) is very concerning.

But also many responded with vitriol as if offended by the very idea of asking academic questions.

Did Dawkins link any of these? Because I am at the point where whenever anyone gives an opinion that is essentially a averaged stereotype of what they perceive I want links.

Maybe Twitter is not the place for fully worked out exposition. Maybe it is a good place for thinking aloud & seeing how ideas will fly.

Yes and if you started looking like you had the capacity to listen to people besides those you already agree with and who support you it would probably work out better. While we all try to avoid it we get to make mistakes, we get to accidentally piss people off, we get to accidentally hurt people. What matters is what you take from the experience and how you let it change you. Figuring out that part involves listening and showing that you comprehend independent of any agreement or disagreement.

This is what many of my tweets try to do: think aloud & see what others think. It works for some readers. If you don’t like it, don’t follow.

I fail to see the usefulness of thought experiments that categorically rule out some responses, or fail to anticipate or accommodate them. It suggests that you have “proper solutions” to the experiment already in mind.

“I notice you don’t pray with us in the morning.”

A wonderful guest post at Pearl Osibu’s blog about no longer sharing your family’s religion and how painful it can be to try to negotiate that, by T I Ajibade.

Tears continued to stream down my mum’s face as she asked god why this had to happen to her.

I had to recant. My mum is hypertensive. I was afraid for her health. I had an ugly vision of waking up the next morning to find she’d died of a heart attack.

So I took my words back.

And burned with a thrumming sadness. [Read more...]

Orwellian but unofficial

Dawkins offers another installment of The Philosophy of Twitter today.

Today I posted a series of tweets, relevant to this discussion and designed to be read in order:-

As a pejorative, “Politically Correct” has lost its bite. It’s now a cliché. What we have is an Orwellian (but unofficial) “Thought Police”.

Rotherham Police & Council were fearful of the Thought Police:
Let’s learn to lose our fear of the Thought Police. [Read more...]

With her arms full of volumes

I like Mary Beard. I bookmarked her Times blog years ago, long before the Twitter rows. Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker has a profile of her.

Beard’s academic concerns have kept her busy for decades: she can be seen scouring the classics library at Cambridge with her arms full of volumes, like an eager undergraduate. But in recent years, and somewhat to her surprise, Beard has found herself cast in the very public role of a feminist heroine. Through her television appearances, she has become an avatar for middle-aged and older women, who appreciate her unwillingness to fend off the visible advancement of age. Beard does not wear makeup and she doesn’t color her abundant gray hair. She dresses casually, with minor eccentricities: purple-rimmed spectacles, gold sneakers. She looks comfortable both in her skin and in her shoes—much more preoccupied with what she is saying than with how she looks as she is saying it.

[Read more...]


I was just looking at Peter Boghossian’s website. On the About page there’s a collection of comments about his book A Manual for Atheists. I’ll just help him plug the book.

Commentary and Reviews

“Peter Boghossian’s techniques of friendly persuasion are not mine, and maybe I’d be more effective if they were. They are undoubtedly very persuasive–and very much needed.”
–Richard Dawkins

“If I started reading A Manual for Creating Atheists as a Christian I would have been an atheist by the time I finished it. Peter Boghossian’s book is the perfect companion to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. They should be bundled like an atheist software package to reprogram minds into employing reason instead of faith, science instead of superstition.”
–Michael Shermer

“Dr. Peter Boghossian’s ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists’ is a precise, passionate, compassionate and brilliantly reasoned work that will illuminate any and all minds capable of openness and curiosity. This is not a bedtime story to help you fall asleep, but a wakeup call that has the best chance of bringing your rational mind back to life.”
–Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, the largest and most popular philosophy show on the web [Read more...]

Guest post: Not as comfortable for the media to talk about as “political correctness”

Originally a comment by Dan on In Rotherham.

Rotherham is my home town. I was there today and watched the Sky News helicopter hover overhead. What we’ve learned from this is horrifying.

But the media are running with the race angle (or, the wrong race angle), thereby smothering other important issues.

The report finds no evidence that the lack of action was down to fear of being thought of as racist, though it notes this perception. Nor does the report provide any support for the racist/xenophobic narrative that white girls were targeted by Asian/Muslim men because of some inherent hatred or contempt of the latter by the former in a kind of deliberate campaign or religious/cultural war. [Read more...]

The buck stops somewhere

So maybe there are people in Rotherham who should be held accountable for what happened? Like Shaun Wright for instance?

The Labour party has called for the resignation of South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham.

Wright was a Labour cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Rotherham council from 2005 to 2010 when he received three reports about widespread abuse but failed to act, according toProf Alexis Jay’s damning report on the sexual exploitation of 1,400 children over 16 years in the South Yorkshire town. [Read more...]

On Frontline

I watched the first hour of a re-run of Frontline’s Secrets of the Vatican last night. It’s very powerful.

There’s one part where a middle-aged woman describes in detail her rape by her priest when she was 8 years old, and it broke my heart. The detail isn’t physical, but behavioral – what he said, how he looked at her, his tone of voice, what he threatened her with, how he walked away and how he closed the door behind him. And then what she did after that, and how she felt.

And there are men who break your heart too. Several of them.

Milwaukee, we learn (not that it’s new…), was a standout for cold callous self-interested bullying and ass-covering. Who was in charge of that? Timothy motherfucking Dolan. Is that how he got to be a cardinal and live in that nice house in Manhattan? By doing such a good job of shutting up the victims in Milwaukee?

The Vatican is a “sovereign nation” (thanks to Mussolini, which Frontline doesn’t mention, and should have) so it doesn’t have to hand over its archives to anyone. Cases have to be dealt with locally, one by one. Excellent wheeze if you’re in charge of a bunch of rapey priests.