Quantcast

«

»

Aug 18 2012

The Point on Atheism

I was asked to prime a panel discussion on The Point, so I sent them a 2’30″ video on whether we should be criticizing Romney for his religion, and then they just cut loose for 15 minutes. James Randi and AJ Johnson and also contributed questions; Michael Shermer, Sean Carroll, and Edward Falzon chewed ‘em over, with Cara Santa Maria leading the conversation.

I’ve decided that Sean Carroll is right about everything.

207 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    jt512

    I’ve decided that Sean Carroll is right about everything.

    Yeah, that pretty much seems to be the case. His blog, Cosmic Variance, is great, too. A classic post is this one, in which he basically disproves the paranormal and derives the optimal level of worldwide funding for psi research.

  2. 2
    razzlefrog

    I keep mixing up this theoretical physicist Sean Carroll with evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll…I just realized that…no wonder I’m always confused. Now it all makes sense!

  3. 3
    schweinhundt

    I thought that Dawkins’ rover quip was spot-on. However, Romney is not likely to form policy based on his expectation of a posthumous planet. Biden and Ryan both have been known to practice ritual cannibalism. As Heinlein wrote, “One man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh.” Since most Americans hold a variety of equally unfounded religious beliefs, I don’t see a pragmatic gain from debating religion in this context.

    However, I very much think candidates should be called out for pushing for creationism/ID in public schools, pandering to christian nationalists, etc. In these cases, there are negative consequences for non-theists AND a good number of religious folks.

  4. 4
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh lord. Can she not perform “femininity” so hard? Embarrassing.

  5. 5
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t dump on the host as she’s just doing what she has to do in the patriarchy. But the head-tossing, the up-speak, the kittenish affectation is driving me fucking nuts. Just stop it. Stop it. Just be a person. Stop being a fem-bot. Just state a thing and let it stand.

  6. 6
    Amphiox

    However, Romney is not likely to form policy based on his expectation of a posthumous planet.

    And you know this how?

    Because Mr. flip-flop-flyp-flap-flep-flup has said so?

  7. 7
    a3kr0n

    I’m not a big TYT fan.
    Pass.

  8. 8
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    OMG I can’t stand her.

  9. 9
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    And you can see Shermer perving on her.

  10. 10
    jt512

    Cara said (12:05), “Nobody really knows what happens when we die,” and Sean raises his hand and says, “I know. I can tell you if you want to know,” and Cara laughs it off as if he’s joking. But he wasn’t joking. Modern physics has definitively answered the question of what happens after we die (and, needless to say, it is not what religions claim).

  11. 11
    jt512

    I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t dump on the host as she’s just doing what she has to do in the patriarchy. But the head-tossing, the up-speak, the kittenish affectation is driving me fucking nuts. Just stop it. Stop it. Just be a person. Stop being a fem-bot. Just state a thing and let it stand.

    Dang. And there I was just thinking she was hot.

  12. 12
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Dang. And there I was just thinking she was hot.

    Yeah. There you were. Just thinking that.

  13. 13
    hjhornbeck

    I third the statement about Carroll but would like to add one exception, for when he denies being right all the time.

    Also, only one of six guests were women? Tsk, tsk…

  14. 14
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh, don’t forget the “hostess” was a woman. Tee-hee-hee. Hair-toss.

  15. 15
    hjhornbeck

    Whoops, plural fail. I shall hand in my grammer Nazi badge toot-suite.

    </obligatory Godwin>

  16. 16
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Wow. She said “fucking.” Respect quotient going up.

  17. 17
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    hjhornbeck, what is ‘grammer’? :)

    (Better throw out your orthography Nazi badge, while you’re at it)

  18. 18
    jt512

    hjhornbeck:

    Also, only one of six guests were women? Tsk, tsk…

    Yeah, that was probably Cara’s fault, you know, on account of “the patriarchy.”

    Jay

  19. 19
    J Bowen

    My wife is hot sometimes. Usually, she turns on a fan or the air conditioning.

  20. 20
    samsalerno

    P.Z. you were spot on. I’ve always said if a politician wants to imply a god then they must produce that god.

  21. 21
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ schweinhundt

    Romney is not likely to form policy based on his expectation of a posthumous planet.

    Rmoney displays a particularly shallow way of thinking that was inculcated into him as a fundamental part of the way Mormon indoctrination works. He cannot rise to the occasion until he learns to overcome this. Likely he never will.

    @ Josh

    Tee-hee-hee. Hair-toss.

    The affectations you refer to are more likely a reaction to the Mormon upbringing that smothered such as she was growing up. Is she now overcompensating? I really don’t know but it is certainly quite possible and understandable. People are free to chose how they present themselves to the world (even if this can be grating.)

    Some comments on the video:

    8:30 Falzon points out the enormous effort that has gone into investigating the Judeo-xtian god. It is so sad that all these efforts had been concentrated on the Levant, and that European investigators had not spent that effort on investigating European Pagan and folk religions (which to my mind are far more interesting.) What a waste!

    25:30 Santa Maria talks about (a large proportion of) Americans wanting a “good old boy” as president. Why is it always about “me,me,me” (like small children)? They want a personal president, a personal jeeebus, a personal oracle … The alpha male ape in the sky is my bestest friend evah!

    36:30 Carroll indicates we, as atheists, do not have a “competing package” to match the goddists. I disagree. Reading Pharyngula, I see that we do have such a package. It is just that it may have to be made more articulate.

  22. 22
    (e)m

    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh lord. Can she not perform “femininity” so hard?

    Can you explain to me what exactly is wrong with being feminine. I don’t think I understand.

  23. 23
    hjhornbeck

    John Morales @ 17:

    (Better throw out your orthography Nazi badge, while you’re at it)

    As long as I get to keep my “English failure” Nazi badge.

    /me decides not to apply for that job as a copy editor…

  24. 24
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Can you explain to me what exactly is wrong with being feminine

    Nothing at all.

    The problems are:

    1. “Feminine” is an artificial construct enforced by patriarchy.

    2. Women on television/in podcasts feel obliged to play it up to the point that they appear stupid.

    3. If you can’t see how ridiculously this woman is miming “feminine” stereotypes I cannot help you.

    It’s not liberating, or empowerful, or “just natural.”

  25. 25
    jt512

    2. Women on television/in podcasts feel obliged to play it up to the point that they appear stupid.

    If you think she appeared stupid, then it’s you who has the problem, not her.

    Jay

  26. 26
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    If you think she appeared stupid, then it’s you who has the problem, not her.

    You’ll have to do better than that. Once you assert a thing you’re obliged to argue for it.

  27. 27
    jt512

    Huh?

  28. 28
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    What, are you fucking addled from hitting your head against rocks? Don’t “huh” me. You know exactly what I’m saying: What the fuck is your problem with my statement and what do you base that problem on?

  29. 29
    jt512

    To follow up, the only thing I’ve “asserted” is that I think she’s hot. You want me to argue for that?

  30. 30
    jt512

    Sorry, Josh, you’re going to have to make your point explicitly. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  31. 31
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    If you think she appeared stupid, then it’s you who has the problem, not her.

    Is that not you, dumb-ass?

  32. 32
    joeyanetsberger

    @Josh
    I second the “huh?”, what are you talking about and why are you flipping the fuck out?

  33. 33
    jt512

    Oh, cool. Now we get the name-calling phase on pharyngula.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    And also the sock-puppet phase.

  36. 36
    guardianeighty

    Nothing at all.

    The problems are:

    1. “Feminine” is an artificial construct enforced by patriarchy.

    2. Women on television/in podcasts feel obliged to play it up to the point that they appear stupid.

    3. If you can’t see how ridiculously this woman is miming “feminine” stereotypes I cannot help you.

    It’s not liberating, or empowerful, or “just natural.”

    The problem is not “nothing at all” after you’ve made several disparaging posts in this thread about it, and then you have to come back to this thread just to say that you can’t stand her. Yes, she’s smiling, she laughs, and occasionally she touches her hair that’s long and right next to her face (or is it her laughing when she mentions the hateful rhetoric directed at atheists that gets you?). Seriously, you’re tearing on the woman in the video, for doing these unbearably “feminine” things? At best, this is victim blaming. At worst, it echoes the MRAs who can’t stand even sitting next to women because they have to hear and see them.

  37. 37
    joeyanetsberger

    @35 What is that supposed to mean?

  38. 38
    Inaji

    (e)m:

    Can you explain to me what exactly is wrong with being feminine. I don’t think I understand.

    Nothing wrong with being feminine. However, playing to a stereotype of femininity is another thing altogether.

  39. 39
    jt512

    And also the sock-puppet phase.

    For the second time: huh?

  40. 40
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Jeezis Christ, you socks are all on 24 hour pagers.

  41. 41
    Inaji

    guardianeighty:

    At best, this is victim blaming.

    Victim blaming? Are you sure about that?

  42. 42
    (e)m

    @24 Josh

    Thank you for your answer. I am AMAB. Masculine is also enforced by patriarchy. If not more so. I am forced every day to pretend to be masculine, to be male, and I hate it. So you calling her out on performing femininity kind of struck a personal note.

    From my perception, (correct me if I am wrong, I am still learning), in western culture it is more acceptable for a women to be considered masculine than for a man to be considered feminine because Female<Male in a patriarchal culture so being feminine is inherently demeaning.

    2. Women on television/in podcasts feel obliged to play it up to the point that they appear stupid.

    I don’t watch much television that isn’t cooking, science, or news related these days, and the only podcasts that I see are ones linked to by atheist blogs I follow so I was unaware of this. Thank you for the information.

    3. If you can’t see how ridiculously this woman is miming “feminine” stereotypes I cannot help you.

    It’s not liberating, or empowerful, or “just natural.”

    Oh, definitely playing up the femininity. I don’t see it as empowering or natural for someone like her. I just don’t see how choosing to be feminine if it suits her is a bad thing. Her being forced to play it up for show, definitely is. For me it would be liberating to be able to have the choice to be feminine in my daily life, and to be perceived as female. Of course I’m too chickenshit to transition right now.

  43. 43
    joeyanetsberger

    Josh, what the hell are you talking about? Try answering when people ask for clarification rather than insisting that everyone else has the problem and you’re just fucking perfect at communicating.

  44. 44
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    So you calling her out on performing femininity kind of struck a personal note.

    And I’m genuinely sorry about that. But it doesn’t change the coercive nature of women (or those identified as “women”) feeling forced to perform femininity. Don’t get angry at me for pointing out the patriarchy. You’re not going to get any freedom conforming to it and getting all bullshitty over the fact that I point out gender-policing is shit.

  45. 45
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Joey, I answered you.

  46. 46
    duckdunn

    I like how the host mentioned she was influenced by George H. Smith’s excellent book on atheism. Although I was already an atheist when I read it, it nevertheless provided me good intellectual ammo to use when debating theists.

  47. 47
    guardianeighty

    Victim blaming? Are you sure about that?

    If he claims it’s because of the patriarchy and holds it against her for it, yeah. How about, do you (uh, Josh I suppose, or Caine now) think it she is doing such things because she’s perpetuating the patriarchy, and her performance should be so greatly disliked or critiqued because of it (a nuance that may cause folks here to be talking past one another)? Which is better, but the victim blaming part comes into my mind there because this is how some woman learn to talk to people. It is a very hard thing to just stop doing once ingrained.

  48. 48
    joeyanetsberger

    Stating something doesn’t make it true.

  49. 49
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Can I have a side of ranch with my word salad at #47?

    I have no idea what you’re saying. Doesn’t parse.

  50. 50
    guardianeighty

    But it doesn’t change the coercive nature of women (or those identified as “women”) feeling forced to perform femininity.

    False. It isn’t forced. It’s taught, and then it is the method of communication that feels natural for those woman to do.

  51. 51
    jt512

    Josh, maybe you should judge people on more meaningful characteristics than how they move their head when they speak. Here you have an obviously highly intelligent, articulate, professionally successful woman, and what do you do but assert that she “appear[s] stupid,” because of some mannerism.

    I say again, it’s not her that has the problem. It’s you.

    Jay

  52. 52
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    One more side of ranch, please?

  53. 53
    (e)m

    Josh,

    I agree that gender policing is bullshit. I am not angry about you pointing out the patriarchy. This is why I was afraid to start commenting. I am not a good communicator. I was trying to explain that I had misunderstood your point. I thought that you were against being feminine in general. I definitely don’t think that anyone should conform to any mode of expression that doesn’t suit them. Again thank you for clarifiying and educating me.

  54. 54
    schweinhundt

    I’m a bit confused by this thread deconstructing Cara Santa Maria’s femininity. Being a rutting, straight male I did happen to notice/critique her attractiveness. Her appearance/manner, however, wasn’t factored into my critique of her stated assertions. Does that make me sexist?

  55. 55
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    (e)m—thank you for clarifying. I think we’re on the same page. Gender policing=bad; Voluntary taking-on-of-gender=good.

    I have no interest in shaming anyone for their gender. I’m only angry at people and social systems that thwart and constrict people into narrow and boxed-in behaviors.

  56. 56
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Her appearance/manner, however, wasn’t factored into my critique of her stated assertions. Does that make me sexist?

    1. Her appearance and manner is factored into everyone’s assessment of her. Gay, straight, male, female.

    2. I agree with most of her statements. That’s not at issue. What bothered me is her almost drag-queen-esque miming of “feminine” stereotypical behaviors. It was absolutely unnerving.

    If these are not obvious to you I understand, but I’d ask you to step back and take a second look. It’s jarring.

  57. 57
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I say again, it’s not her that has the problem. It’s you.

    If you’re unable to discriminate between:

    1. Judging a woman to be “stupid” because she embodies stereotyped behaviors

    and

    2. Pointing out those stereotyped behaviors and lamenting the fact that the woman feels them to be necessary, no matter how intelligent she is

    Then you’re an idiot.

  58. 58
    guardianeighty

    If you’re unable to discriminate between:

    1. Judging a woman to be “stupid” because she embodies stereotyped behaviors

    and

    2. Pointing out those stereotyped behaviors and lamenting the fact that the woman feels them to be necessary, no matter how intelligent she is

    Then you’re an idiot.

    Ha, you pretend that you were obviously in the latter catagor- sorry, number 2. You were not. Not in a thread about a skeptical video, where your all your posts are immediately about the hostess’s femininity.

  59. 59
    dave3000

    @Josh – I think Cara comes across as smart and articulate – you are just being a jerk

  60. 60
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I’m certain there are no socks here. At all.

  61. 61
    guardianeighty

    Actually I want to ask Josh: since her “femininity” stuck out to you so much, what happens when you run into a woman who does those things because she want to? Because it works for her? Does it distract you from anything she says, repeatedly grinding in your ear? How are you able to tell if it is the patriarchy or not?

  62. 62
    jt512

    Josh:

    What bothered me is her almost drag-queen-esque miming of “feminine” stereotypical behaviors. It was absolutely unnerving.

    And how about the way, say, K.D. Lang, seems to go out of her way to present a masculine appearance? Do you find that “absolutely unnerving” as well? The fact is, there is nothing wrong with either of these ways of presenting oneself, nor anything wrong with any point in between or beyond them. We (and in particular, you) need to look beyond them.

    Jay

  63. 63
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Why, I just totally don’t talk to her, guardian. I’m so distracted by her grinding in my ear I can think of nothing else. Which is to be expected, me being gay and all.

  64. 64
    guardianeighty

    Eh, fuck you too.

  65. 65
    conway

    If you were born on a desert island and nobody ever even mentioned the concept of a god, would you even conceive of the idea that there was one?

    That is the problem with the whole atheist/agnostic/believer debate.

    You are not starting from zero. You are starting from god. Prove or disprove.

    Start at zero.

  66. 66
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    We (and in particular, you) need to look beyond them.

    And you don’t “see color,” either. Bless you.

  67. 67
    jt512

    And you don’t “see color,” either. Bless you.

    Sure I see color, but the color of the host of the video clip doesn’t affect my judgment of the host’s intelligence. If it does yours, wake up and smell reality.

    You seem to be projecting.

    Jay

  68. 68
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Bless your heart.

    -Josh (totally unnecessary signing off)

  69. 69
    JohnnieCanuck

    Josh,

    What if that is the only way she knows how to behave? Could she be insecure about how others perceive her and this is the only role model she was given? Right now it is her public persona on camera and probably off as well. Even if she were to be convinced that it is artificial, how easily can people change these things?

    Her growing up Mormon makes me want to cut her some slack. That was some double strength patriarchy she was exposed to.

    I was paying more attention to evaluating her arguments than to her affectations, though I did notice that up-voice as you call it and it is a peeve of mine too. It seems quite common amongst my daughters’ girlfriends. I doubt I’d ever call them on it, though.

    You might want to check where you’ve been sitting, as you don’t seem to be at your best. Ass-less chaps aren’t the best protection from burrs. <3

  70. 70
    conway

    I wish I could have.

  71. 71
    strange gods before me ॐ

    It isn’t forced. It’s taught,

    It isn’t forced. It’s taught,

    It isn’t forced. It’s taught,

    This message brought to you by the Ministry of Truth.

  72. 72
    Inaji

    SG:

    This message brought to you by the Ministry of Truth.

    Pretty much sums up my reaction to that bit of nonsense. Thank you.

  73. 73
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Well, since we’re quibbling about Cara Santa Maria rather than her excellent chairing and moderation, I noted she has a stain on her right forearm.

    (A heck of a birthmark! :) )

  74. 74
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ John

    I noted she has a stain on her right forearm.

    … and a lip ring!

    (My Room 101 contains not a rat but a tattoo artist.)

  75. 75
    John Morales

    Well, point is that she’s obviously smart, informed, cogent, on-topic and is hardly cowed by the luminaries she is moderating.

    Her demeanour and mannerisms may irritate Josh (I give him credit for nous regarding this) but certainly didn’t bother me one whit.

  76. 76
    satanaugustine

    The George Bush Sr. quote Cara mentions at 36:00 that Shermer and Falzon wrote off as a likely urban legend is nothing of the sort. There once existed video footage of this. I’ve seen it, though as far as I can remember this was on TV, not the internet. The quote is as follows:

    Bush: “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

    Perhaps the Bush family has been able to dispense of this footage or maybe someone with some mad internetoobz skillz (that’s definitely not me) can track this down.

    Here’s the full exchange between Bush and Robert I. Sherman, a reporter for the American Atheist news journal:

    Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?

    Bush: I guess I’m pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.

    Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

    Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

    Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?

    Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I’m just not very high on atheists.

    More on what assholes Bush Sr. and his staff were can be found here: http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/ghwbush.htm

  77. 77
    conway

    Her name is Santa Maria. She was stamped at birth.

    She is also cute, which means a big old sexist pig like me will never take her seriously.

  78. 78
    rorschach

    Yes, pretty sure I’ve seen that clip too.

  79. 79
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Josh,

    Probably zero socks; almost certainly no more than one: dave3000 is the only one in question who hasn’t commented here before.

    Google can save you from this error in the future.

    +++++
    conway,

    Your defensiveness — in equating priming effects to being called a big old sexist pig — suggests you aren’t aware of said priming effects, or think yourself immune to them.

  80. 80
    SoulmanGT

    Great panel, great host. If smart, talented and passionate = too feminine then something is wrong here.

  81. 81
    huntstoddard

    Pharyngula is losing its collective mind. That much seems certain.

  82. 82
    LykeX

    Damn. I made the mistake of reading the discussion of her mannerisms before watching the video and now it’s all I can see.

  83. 83
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    huntstoddard:

    Pharyngula is losing its collective mind. That much seems certain.

    Also, it’s the end of the world as we know it — again!

    (You’re very silly)

  84. 84
    SoulmanGT

    Just be aware that her ‘femininity’ is bashing up against your stored reference frame ie panel moderators should be dour faced men in suits, not actively involved in the discussion.

    She was excited by the discussion, which is a bit jarring if not expected. I think it was cool, and I would watch this again over almost any panel I have watched in a long time.

    The last thing I saw was a forced femininity. Not a ‘bimbo’ moment in sight, just someone that enjoyed the conversation and could hold their own with some real big thinkers.

    If she was a friend and talking to you, would she be ‘too feminine’? Then why is there a different requirement for a panel host?

  85. 85
    John Morales

    [erratum]

    Also, it’s the end of the world as we know it — again!

  86. 86
    incrediblemouse

    This episode of the point was fantastic, and Sean Carroll did a particularly excellent job articulating important points. Thanks Cara, PZ, and all the others for making it happen.

  87. 87
    Kristjan Wager

    Josh, I understand where you are coming from, but I will point out that it is problematic that you seem to be attacking Cara Santa Maria directly. You should perhaps consider a way in which you condemn the social mores without attacking her.

    Returning to the video, I think it is rather good, and Sean Carroll is great.

  88. 88
    davidb

    Finding a foundation for morality is an interesting problem, but not one solved by religion IMV, for a number of reasons, among them the Euthyphro Dilemma, and another that if behaviour is forced by fear of penalty or hope of reward then it is difficult to see that the behaviour comes from being good in itself.

    Perhaps that could be expressed better, but the meaning should be clear enough.

    For myself, I find myself viewing morality as an emergent and still emerging phenomenon, part of the extended phenotype of humans and to a degree of other social species.

    A phenomenon in which there are competing moral claims or ideas, and the best replicators survive, hopefully though not inevitably tending towards the survivors being better ones. The aim of the game being to find better codes of morals.

    As an aside it does strike me as regrettable that someone early in the comments sidetracked the discussion here from being about what was being said on the video into an attack on the personal characteristics of one of the speakers.

    Not the sort of thing that commands any respect from me, Josh.

    David B

  89. 89
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Thank you Josh for sharing your thoughts about how much the host’s mannerism irritates you and how you can’t stand her. I find it marginally more valuable than your opponents’ comments about her hotness. But that’s a pretty low bar to cross.

    I know I shouldn’t dump on the host as she’s just doing what she has to do in the patriarchy.

    And yet you do, making quite a production of it.

    You have a point, but it gets kinda lost in you acting like an asshole.

    *deep breath*

    Or what Kristjan Wager said, with much less vitriol than me.

  90. 90
    randay

    After the first twenty or so comments, mostly irrelevant stuff about the host from people who sound like horny schoolboys, I gave up on the comments and came to make my own.

    Mark Twain said, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” That about sums up believers except maybe for the really crazy ones.

    Speaking of morality, Stephen Pinker gave a pretty convincing lecture at TED(also found on Youtube)about the relative continuing decrease in human violence over the ages, including the 20th century and its famous wars. He concludes that we still do some things wrong, BUT he says, we are also doing something right and we should find out what it is.

  91. 91
    skeptifem

    However, Romney is not likely to form policy based on his expectation of a posthumous planet.

    Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the utah department of alcoholic beverage control. Were you trying to say mormons won’t make stupid policies based on their stupid religion? Because I got a whole state full of fuckery to counter such a claim.

  92. 92
    davidb

    I also have a memory of seeing Bush Snr making that quote on tv at the time.

    I haven’t been able to verify it though, and I know that memory can be unreliable.

    Pretty sure is as far as I can go.

    David B

  93. 93
    absolute

    I liked the video. I love Sean. Unfortunately it was hosted by an intelligent and attactive woman doing whatever she wants, so Josh, Official Crop got very upset.

  94. 94
    ethicsgradient

    Cara Santa Maria says she gets bible verses sent to her Blackberry, apparently by Obama’s campaign. Is this true – do they quote the bible when talking to supporters? I’d hope not.

    (And can someone tell me the difference between the options “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” and “Notify me of follow-up comments by email”, apart from the position of the hyphen?)

  95. 95
    skeptifem

    And how about the way, say, K.D. Lang, seems to go out of her way to present a masculine appearance? Do you find that “absolutely unnerving” as well? The fact is, there is nothing wrong with either of these ways of presenting oneself, nor anything wrong with any point in between or beyond them. We (and in particular, you) need to look beyond them.

    …and the truly sould destroying mandates of femininity are erased, once again. As if masculinity and femininity are an actual spectrum instead of a bunch of nonsensical, cartoonish stereotypes that we have all learned from culture.

    When a woman tries to act like a human being they are said to be acting “like a man”.

  96. 96
    skeptifem

    I liked the video. I love Sean. Unfortunately it was hosted by an intelligent and attactive woman doing whatever she wants, so Josh, Official Crop got very upset.

    “doing whatever she wants”, ha. Keep telling yourself that. That isn’t the world women live in. We live in a world where a failure to be feminine is swiftly punished, and where being feminine involves its own set of painful consequences. Its a balance we all have to negotiate on our own.

    I really don’t see the problem with josh finding cartoonish femininity irritating. I do too. It doesn’t mean I hate women who engage in it, I hate the culture we live in for making dude pleasin’ such a high priority for women.

  97. 97
    absolute

    How dare she touch her hair. She should know better and embrace her feMALE side, that would make her a worthy huMAN being.

  98. 98
    skeptifem

    Dang. And there I was just thinking she was hot.

    A woman in public isn’t begging for your assessment by existing, so its gross when you give out such information without solicitation. No one cares what gives you a boner.

  99. 99
    absolute

    We live in a world where a failure to be feminine is swiftly punished, and where being feminine involves its own set of painful consequences. Its a balance we all have to negotiate on our own.

    Yeah. But on the other side, the male version does exist:
    - If I ‘appeal’ to the female, I’m patronising
    - If I don’t ‘appeal’ to the female, I’m a misogynist

  100. 100
    Brad

    Head-tossing, up-speak, and “kittenish affectation” are perfectly legitimate things to find irritating, but Josh expressed it in approximately the worst way possible.

    As far as the Bush quote, the snopes forum has proof of him being in Chicago on the right day, and Bush has never denied it, which while weak evidence, is implicit confirmation.

  101. 101
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    For everyone expressing thoughts from their boner, spare us please. Thanks.

  102. 102
    absolute

    kittenish affectation, the crime of the century. Lucky for Sean, nobody is accusing him of being too handsome.

  103. 103
    tkreacher

    To the Bush atheist statement, the best I can find is that the reporter in question directly continues to claim the remark was made, but was not taped.

    And he says that official letter responses from the administration corroborate, via lack of denial, the conversation was reported accurately:

    The letter from Mr. Murray to the Members of Congress is from a file identified as White House Office of Records Management, Subject Code RM, Document Number 157715 CU. This document is a letter that Jon Murray sent to every Member of Congress on February 21, 1990. In this letter, Mr. Murray describes the news conference that I attended, quotes exactly the conversation between Mr. Bush and myself, and then states:

    “Subsequent to these astonishing statements, I wrote to (then) Vice President Bush demanding a clarification of these remarks. More than two months later, on February 21, 1989, C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President, wrote to me from the White House as follows:

    Your letter of December 19, 1988, to President Bush has been referred to me for reply. As you are aware, the President is a religious man who neither supports atheism nor believes that atheism should be unnecessarily encouraged or supported by the government. Needless to say, the President supports the Constitution and laws of the United States, and you may rest assured that this Administration will proceed at all times with due regard for the legal rights of atheists, as will as others with whom the President disagrees.

    This letter was a clear admission by the President, through his counsel, that he had indeed made the remarks and was not backing down from them.

    Mr. Murray’s letter to the Members of Congress went on to say that Mr. Bush must issue “an apology and retraction of the remarks or alternately the Congress of the United States must pass a resolution censuring President Bush for the remarks.”

    The letter from Mr. Gray to Mr. Murray, which was quoted above, is located in a file identified as White House Office of Records Management, Subject Code RM, Document Number 041388 CU.

    The significance of Mr. Gray’s letter is that it corroborates my conversation with Mr. Bush. Mr. Gray is a lawyer. If his client, Mr. Bush, had not made those statements to me, Mr. Gray would have denied that they were said rather than trying to justify the statements. If Mr. Bush wanted to distance himself from the statements, Mr. Gray could have tried to create doubt about whether Mr. Bush had made the statements. Here, Mr. Gray makes it clear that Mr. Bush acknowledges making the statements reported above.

    *****

    You can get your own copy of the two letters described above by contacting the Archive Department at the Bush Presidential Library. They will mail or fax them to you. You’ll need to file a Freedom of Information Act request, but that can be done very easily and quickly by e-mail to [email protected] . In the subject line, say: FOIA Request. In the body of the letter, say: Under the Freedom of Information Act, I request to view White House Office of Records Management, Subject Code RM, Document Numbers 041388 CU and 157715 CU. Include your full name, street address, phone number and whether you want the documents mailed or faxed to you. For a fax, include your fax number and state whether you have a dedicated fax line or if you use your voice line to receive faxes. They’ll take care of you within a day or two. They’re very fast, professional and courteous.

    He also states that, though there were other press that heard the statement, not of them found it worthy of print on inclusion in their broadcast. Which seems to indicate that it wasn’t televised at any point.

  104. 104
    frankb

    I find Cara Santa Maria to be amazing. As others have pointed out MRA’s and other elements of the Patriarchy would be comfortable with her looks and mannerisms. But her declared atheism and her intelligence would shock them into apoplexy. Good for her.

  105. 105
    Zeckenschwarm

    PZ, the audio volume of your video is extremely low. Even with everything turned to maximum volume, I found it hard to understand you. (Others have said so in the youtube comments. Someone also told you to stop whining about Thunderf00t, which is a bit weird considering that you didn’t mention him at all in this video.)

  106. 106
    tkreacher

    Zeckenschwarm,

    Someone also told you to stop whining about Thunderf00t, which is a bit weird considering that you didn’t mention him at all in this video.

    Not weird at all. Straight from the GCWMS, Online edition:

    * Rush to the blog, twitter or youtube channel in question
    * Do not wast time reading/watching the content in question, or any of the comments that follow, as they are certainly wrong
    * Use any of the relevant techniques detailed above (calling strawman, pointing out you aren’t a rapist, letting people know they are hysterical, ect)

  107. 107
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I’ll have to listen to the clip later, when Sponge Bob is over*.

    But, as a person with involuntary mannerisms that people find disturbing, I tend to forgive this trait in others.

    *I’m watching the person watching it.

  108. 108
    gardengnome

    I was particularly impressed by Edward Falzon’s contribution to this discussion. I hadn’t heard of him before but I definitely want to learn more about his views.

    Having said that, I must agree with Josh further up; I found Cara’s mannerisms, whether genuine or contrived I can’t say, to be at first distracting and ultimately irritating.

  109. 109
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    I hate the culture we live in for making dude pleasin’ such a high priority for women.

    There are two patriarchies at work here. Firstly the Mormon patriarchy (patriarchy on steroids) and thereafter the common garden variety. Long hair, natty clothes, swearing, tattoos and piercings take a stand against the repression implicite in mormon patriarchy. (This is true, note, for both sexes.) As does any mannerism that could be considered so overtly “feminine”.(Is that “dude-pleasing” or another aspect of breaking free from a repressive past?)

    Out of the frying pan into the fire? I’ll just allow a lot of slack and say: “Kudos Cara and thanks.”

  110. 110
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    So, instead of talking about morality, the place of religion in American politics, whether there ought to be a distinction made between not believing in God or believing there is no God, or any of the various other topics raised in the discussion, this whole comment thread has been derailed by yet another man setting himself up as the arbiter of what a woman’s appearance and manner ought to be. She has a brain, she’s articulate, and she had interesting things to say. Still, all of that’s not enough to treat her as a human being.

  111. 111
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    When I say that I don’t believe in god/unicorns/flying pigs, that means that I believe they don’t exist.

    Is the distinction that “not believing in god” for those who use it means something like being agnostic about god’s existence but living as if he didn’t exist? I think that might be what the host actually said but I’m on limited monthly traffic so I rather wouldn’t rewatch the video.

    If that’s so, it should be said so. Might be my english, but I honestly can’t see the difference between saying “I don’t believe in god” and “I don’t believe a god exists”.

  112. 112
    jt512

    Beatrice:

    Might be my english, but I honestly can’t see the difference between saying “I don’t believe in god” and “I don’t believe a god exists”.

    Those two sentences basically have the same meaning. The distinction that they were making in the video was between “I don’t believe God exists” and “I believe God does not exist.” The second sentence, unlike the first, asserts an affirmative belief.

  113. 113
    chrispollard

    To all those criticising this impressive moderating – would you rather have Sarah Palin? Layoff – she did a great job apart from ignoring the Sean Carroll comment.

  114. 114
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    I’m quite certain of the Bush I quote; I saw it on a BBC news show when I still lived in the UK. It made me a little apprehensive about making the move to silicon valley.

  115. 115
    PZ Myers

    You know, everyone has mannerisms. I do, you do, everyone on that panel does. Some of them may reflect cultural stereotypes, some of them are just quirky.

    Please try to avoid judging people on the basis of such superficialities. Yeah, you can find them annoying, but most of us can’t control those little incidentals…so try to see a little deeper.

  116. 116
    PZ Myers

    The “I don’t believe in god” and “I don’t believe a god exists” distinctions are nuisance relics. Old school atheists used to spend ages nattering over such fine-grained distinctions, and it drove me nuts. It’s an obnoxious effort to generate “I’m purer than you” categories within atheism.

    Note that it’s also from Randi — skeptics spent a lot of effort building these silly categories.

  117. 117
    Nick Gotts

    I agree with PZ about Sean Carroll (on this evidence – never seen him before or read anything of his), with one exception. Science does so prove things. Not in the sense mathematics and logic do, but that is not and never has been the only legitimate sense of proof. Science has proved that heritable traits are passed on in DNA, that Jupiter and Saturn have satellites, that the earth is billions of years old. Carroll’s stuff about “point nine nine nine nine nine…” is verbiage. No-one can, or ever could, assign probabilities to most of the facts and theories of science.

    I really don’t see the problem with josh finding cartoonish femininity irritating. I do too. – skeptifem

    So do I, and that’s not the problem: the problem is josh making this thread mostly about how a woman in public life presents herself, and his reaction to it, not about the content of the discussion.

  118. 118
    consciousness razor

    If that’s so, it should be said so. Might be my english, but I honestly can’t see the difference between saying “I don’t believe in god” and “I don’t believe a god exists”.

    Those mean the same thing, unless it’s clear in the context of the first that to believe in something/someone isn’t about their existence. For example, you could say “I believe in Barack Obama” and mean that you trust him or have confidence in him, not that you’re expressing your view about whether or not he exists. You’ll also see this ambiguity with words like “faith.”

    Anyway, I don’t remember which part of the video they were discussing that to check how it was said, but I think instead it was whether there’s a difference between saying “I do not believe there is a god” and “I believe there is no god.” Those are the same too, in terms of their content; it’s really just a matter of emphasis.

  119. 119
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    tomato/tomahto

    The meaning is the same.

  120. 120
    consciousness razor
    I really don’t see the problem with josh finding cartoonish femininity irritating. I do too. – skeptifem

    So do I, and that’s not the problem: the problem is josh making this thread mostly about how a woman in public life presents herself, and his reaction to it, not about the content of the discussion.

    Not to mention that it wasn’t “cartoonish femininity” anyway, not in any way I noticed. (And I was looking for it, since I read the thread first, which to be honest annoyed the fuck out of me.) She seemed like she was in a good mood and/or feeling energetic. That’s not something I’d usually make a huge fucking stink about, whether or not that was expressed in a “feminine” way.

  121. 121
    Gregory Greenwood

    I just watched the video, and I find that I am with PZ and Sean Carroll on the issue of religion in politics. No one is suggesting any religious test for office, but if a potential candidiate subscribes to such a spectacularly irrational belief system, and gives every indication that this belief system will heavily influence their policy decisions, then it is absolutely right to discuss it, and point out just how ridiculous it is.

    This was largely a non-issue in the UK until recently – as Cara Santa Maria says on the video, no one considered it relevant because religion was largely left out of political debates and public life in general – but now that our Prime Minister has publicly spoken on several occasions about the notional importance of religion to morality, and even gone so far as to describe the UK as a ‘christian nation’ (not to mention Baroness Warsi’s comments about bringing religion back into the heart of public life), the issue is firmly back on the table here.

    We have also seen the influence of religion on our politics in recent years, just not as overtly as America has. Former PM Blair funneled public money into faith schools that increasingly promote creationist drivel over scientific education, and Former President Bush’s memoirs seem to indicate that he and Blair ‘prayed together’ when meeting to decide joint policy in the aftermath of 9/11.

    These are not minor descisions, and I think that if an electorate is to make informed voting choices then they need to know how the beliefs of candidates may influence their worldview and ability to make rational decisions with regard to policy.

  122. 122
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Well, I derailed this thread right good. Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to but I grabbed on to my hobby horse and wore a groove in the floor:(

  123. 123
    ramblindude

    Thanks for posting this, PZ. What a pleasant Sunday chat between rational, investigative minds. I discovered Sean Carroll’s Preposterousuniverse.com, as well as his Cosmic Variance blog, and I was also impressed with Cara Santa Maria–charming, intelligent, and thoroughly competent as moderator of the panel. Hope to see more of her.

  124. 124
    dave3000

    Probably zero socks; almost certainly no more than one: dave3000 is the only one in question who hasn’t commented here before.

    Nope – Long time lurker but I’m real – just signed up because I could not let Josh’s asinine comments stand…

  125. 125
    Gregory Greenwood

    I was also thinking about what AJ Johnson said about the superiority of secular morality over religious morality, and how secular morality actively opposes the misogyny, homophobia and other bigotry that religious morality endorses and even mandates.

    I completely agree with her that a system of morality that doesn’t rely on the constant vigil of a fictional peeping-tom deity with an obsession with sex is a superior system, but at the same time I cannot help but think of the number of self proclaimed ‘skeptics’ and ‘rationalists’ we get around here – many of whom would definitely identify with a secular culture – who are none the less MRAs and PUAs, and who spout vile misogyny (and often racism, homophobia and transphobia as well) with every bit as much repugnant gusto as the most fundamentalist xian zealot.

    The secular system of morality is undeniably superior. It is just a shame that there is such a large and vocal minority of people within the broad rationalist movement who certainly don’t belive in god or agree with religious power in politics, but have also never gotten around to accepting the importance of the broader issues of social justice that go hand in hand with secular rationalism.

    Religion certainly creates fertile ground for misogyny, homophobia and other bigotries, but as we have seen all too often, they can exist just fine without it.

  126. 126
    joed

    Ms. Santa Maria is in way over her head.
    What an extraordinary panel. To bad the “moderator?” was out of her league.
    If I didn’t know better I would think she was sabotaging the answers.
    Can we do the video over.

  127. 127
    Gregory Greenwood

    joed @ 126;

    Ms. Santa Maria is in way over her head.

    Care to elaborate?

    What an extraordinary panel. To bad the “moderator?” was out of her league.
    If I didn’t know better I would think she was sabotaging the answers.

    On what basis do you make this claim? She seemed articulate enough to me, and certainly not like she was attempting to ‘sabotage’ the answers. While she did laugh off Sean Carroll’s point about science being able to pretty conclusively say what happens to our consciousness after death, I saw few notable slip ups other than that.

    Your post seems to spend more time personally attacking the host than it does actually demonstrating why you consider her performance as moderator to be so sub-standard.

    And further to that point – why is the word ‘moderator’ placed in scare quotes and adorned with a question mark?

  128. 128
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    While she did laugh off Sean Carroll’s point about science being able to pretty conclusively say what happens to our consciousness after death, I saw few notable slip ups other than that.

    I forgot about that part. Yeah, she was a bit too determined in saying that we can’t really know what happens when we die. That part bothered me a bit, but I can’t remember any other thing that I disliked.

    I’m guessing she didn’t want to go too far from the predetermined conversation topic list, so that’s why that wasn’t elaborated in more detail.

  129. 129
    tkreacher

    joed,

    Can you link me to a comment you’ve made that might not have set off my “probably an idiot” detector?

    I’m having trouble thinking of one off the top of my head.

    Thanks in advance.

  130. 130
    tkreacher

    Realized a fraction of a second after hitting submit I’m probably breaking the spirit of one of the new rules, something about mindwipe or something.

    So, retracted.

  131. 131
    Gregory Greenwood

    Beatrice @ 128;

    Yeah, she was a bit too determined in saying that we can’t really know what happens when we die.

    When I heard that part, I was a little worried that we might be about to run into some kind of ‘quantum consciousness’ or similar fuzzy woo, but the conversation never went there.

    I’m guessing she didn’t want to go too far from the predetermined conversation topic list, so that’s why that wasn’t elaborated in more detail.

    That seems like a reasonable explanation. I still don’t understand what joed has against her as a moderator.

  132. 132
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I’m guessing she didn’t want to go too far from the predetermined conversation topic list, so that’s why that wasn’t elaborated in more detail.

    I think you’re right. She specifically said at the beginning that she didn’t want to have the discussion “does God exist” and I would guess that the similar question “is there an afterlife” would be classified in the same category.

    For those who want to criticise her on this point, keep in mind that she was saying technically we don’t *know* whether a god exists or what happens after we die, but functionally it doesn’t matter that absolute certainty is impossible, which is why she now identifies as an atheist rather than as an agnostic. She wasn’t the only one who laughed when Sean said that *he* knows what happens to people after they die–they all did.

  133. 133
    unclefrogy

    L would like to make a comment on part of this video discussion it was toward the end they were discussing morality and why it came for nature and should we say that and all.
    From what I have learned everything about human culture what society does or thinks about is at the bottom line an agreement between individuals including the idea that morality comes from god. The meaning of the very words we use is an agreement with out the agreement there is no communication.
    The problem seems to be the way the agreement is derived. The religious have proven through out history to resort to naked force when all other means have failed to get the agreement they want. Fear both of negative consequences in the “here after” hell & damnation and the rack and ostracism here and now.

    Any views you state as important to you about anything at all should be open to question by anyone. You may not feel like answering nor should you compelled to answer but the questions can not be forbidden.

    I found all the panelist to be rather conventional in appearance and mannerisms so what?
    what did you expect it was neither the radical atheist liberation front nor a meeting on the ecumenical meaning of faith groups discussing atheism’s place in modern society.

    uncle frogy

  134. 134
    joed

    @128 Gregory Greenwood

    “And further to that point – why is the word ‘moderator’ placed in scare quotes and adorned with a question mark?”

    It’s because I did not know what other word to use for her position at the table. Perhaps “host” would have been better but I don’t know.
    Also, I saw her doing her best to keep up with the guests, but in imho she was not able to keep up.
    Obviously she was out of her league.
    This is nothing personal against her, I don’t even know her.

  135. 135
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    It’s not uncommon that guests of a show are intellectually out of the host’s league. The question is how well the host can handle that, not letting it show and disrupt the flow of the discussion. Cara Santa Maria might not have been perfect, there was a glitch or two, but I think she led the conversation well enough. I don’t think she had much trouble keeping up.

    But that’s just my impression.

  136. 136
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Obviously she was out of her league.

    *pays off bar bet that joed would ironically say this*

  137. 137
    joed

    @136, Nerd of Redhead
    Hey, at last we agree on something!

  138. 138
    Gregory Greenwood

    joed @ 134;

    It’s because I did not know what other word to use for her position at the table. Perhaps “host” would have been better but I don’t know.

    Fair enough.

    Also, I saw her doing her best to keep up with the guests, but in imho she was not able to keep up.

    Could you provide specific examples of exchanges where you were led to believe she couldn’t keep up? I have mentioned her reaction to Sean Carroll’s statement about being able to describe what happens to our consciousness after death, but that has been explained by Beatrice @ 128;

    I’m guessing she didn’t want to go too far from the predetermined conversation topic list, so that’s why that wasn’t elaborated in more detail.

    So I am curious as to what specific things Cara Santa Maria said that caused you to doubt her competency.

    Obviously she was out of her league.

    Obvious to you, perhaps, but not to me, or, it would seem, most of the other commenters on this thread. That is why I am asking for clarification.

  139. 139
    cehbeach

    I could care less about his goofy religious beliefs. I care more about his attitudes towards economics as expressed in his involvement in Bain Capital and having a Randroid as a running mate. That scares me more than his belief that he will get his own planet in the hereafter

  140. 140
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I could care less about his goofy religious beliefs.

    Problem 1: Goofy religious beliefs indicate that he isn’t a rational person one would want at the head of a country.

    Problem 2 (it stems from P1): The influence of his goofy religious beliefs on positions and decision that affect his subjects people he serves.

  141. 141
    consciousness razor

    Obviously she was out of her league.

    This isn’t obvious, dipshit. What the fuck does it mean? Is there an atheist softball league I’m not aware of? A justice league? A league of extraordinary gentlemen?

  142. 142
    Tethys

    Obviously she was out of her league.

    In what way? A quick google reveals a few facts about Cara Santa Maria

    Cara Louise Santa Maria (born October 19, 1983)[1] is an American neuroscientist and science educator. She is the senior science correspondent and host of the “Talk Nerdy to Me” series for the The Huffington Post.[2][3]

    Santa Maria is a native of North Texas and is a 2001 graduate of Plano East Senior High School. She is from a Mormon family and of mixed Italian and Puerto Rican descent.[4] She earned a B.S. in psychology and an M.S. in biology with a neuroscience concentration from the University of North Texas. As an adjunct professor[citation needed] working toward her Ph.D. at Queens College of the City University of New York, she investigated mechanisms underlying adult neurogenesis in songbirds (notably in Taeniopygia guttata, the Zebra Finch).[5] She has published research in computational neurophysiology, on neuronal cell culture techniques, and on the neuropsychology of blindness.

    She is 28,is a neuroscientist, has a B.S., a M.S., and is/was working towards a Ph.D., has her own series on HuffPo, and is frequent panelist on The Point and occasionally hosts The Young Turks. She also happens to be very attractive.

    The facts do not support joed’s rather sexist opinion.
    —–

    Bad Josh! Naughty Josh! Report to the spanking couch at once!

  143. 143
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Hey, at last we agree on something!

    Yep, we agree you are out of your league every time you post here. I just thought you wouldn’t say it.

  144. 144
    cehbeach

    Beatrice, you mean like when Kennedy forced everyone to go to Catholic mass? I care about policy that has a real impact on the body politic. A person’s personal beliefs are of little interest to me. The other problem is that if it becomes constant harping about his Mormonism it will make him look like the victim of bigotry. I don’t think I need to explain how that works in his favor. Also would you approve of the constant harping about a candidate’s non belief were s/he an Atheist? That goose/gander thingy applies here

  145. 145
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    Goofy religious beliefs are an indicator of poor thinking skills that may very well affect a much broader range of decisions. If you truly believe in a glorious afterlife you may care less about your people dying in wars and thus be more willing to indulge in war. After all, the dead are in better place, right? If you believe that the poor deserve to be poor, quash any sort of welfare.
    It’s also worth remembering that religions are essentially political parties that think their policies are mandated by all powerful invisible party chairman.

  146. 146
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Wow, her CV is seriously impressive.

  147. 147
    cehbeach

    Tim, I guess I can use Kennedy again, although any President will do. Do you think JFK was a moron that couldn’t run a picnic, much less a country, because he believed in transubstantiation? Religious belief is not an indicator showing lack of critical thinking skills or cognitive ability in general

  148. 148
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    cehbeach,

    Are you really that naive that you think that his religious beliefs won’t influence things like foreign policy and especially his stance on various issues of social justice, especially in a current climate in US where religion is held on such a pedestal. Let’s see… abortion. Or is that too irrelevant for you?

  149. 149
    consciousness razor

    Beatrice, you mean like when Kennedy forced everyone to go to Catholic mass?

    If you want argue honestly, why would you assume she means something that never happened?

    I care about policy that has a real impact on the body politic. A person’s personal beliefs are of little interest to me.

    You know, personal beliefs like “I’ll go to heaven when the apocalypse occurs, so I don’t give a fuck about climate change.”

    The other problem is that if it becomes constant harping about his Mormonism it will make him look like the victim of bigotry.

    In fact, sometimes he could actually be a victim of bigotry. (Who gives a fuck about what it merely looks like?) We should do what we can to prevent that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize Mormonism or Romney for supporting his religion’s twisted, hateful bullshit.

    Also would you approve of the constant harping about a candidate’s non belief were s/he an Atheist? That goose/gander thingy applies here

    If there are valid criticisms of policies which relate to a candidate’s atheism (or humanism, secularism, etc.), yes, I certainly would approve of that. But then it wouldn’t just be “harping,” even though you can’t seem to wrap your mind around that.

  150. 150
    joed

    @141 consciousness razor
    “What the fuck does it mean?”
    the league of philosophy and critical thinking is what I have in mind.

    @143 Nerd of Redhead
    “Yep, we agree you are out of your league every time you post here. I just thought you wouldn’t say it.”
    That’s what I thought too, but I can try to learn.
    I know I am not the most gracious commenter but I am sincere and try to keep up even though the pecking party is not fun at times: I don’t meet demands well. But I am trying to learn.

  151. 151
    Tethys

    joed

    That’s what I thought too, but I can try to learn.

    Learning is an admirable goal. Perhaps a good place to start is to question why you think Cara Santa Maria is out of her league.

    You could also stop ignoring all the comments that come from female ‘nyms like my #142.

  152. 152
    Gene

    Not only did Josh feel the need to trash Cara personally at #8 (“OMG I can’t stand her”) but he also felt the need to piss on Shermer (“And you can see Shermer perving on her”) in #9. What constitutes “perving” in this particular case Josh? I watched the video twice and didn’t detect anything. Can you point out the timeframe in the video?

    If I were Shermer and I saw your comment about me I would think you were an ass for your baseless defamation.

  153. 153
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    Cehbeach@147 – did you actually read what I wrote? It really doesn’t seem like you could have.

  154. 154
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    That’s what I thought too, but I can try to learn.

    Then you need to learn how to shut the fuck up and listen. The shut the fuck up is required to be able to listen.

  155. 155
    joed

    @151 Tethys
    Gees, I just looked up Tethys, the Titan Goddess of fresh water.
    I’m not ignoring you.

    @154 Nerd of Redhead
    “Then you need to learn how to shut the fuck up and listen.”
    Who made you blog-cop? hahaha

  156. 156
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Oh, fuck Shermer.

  157. 157
    dondraper888

    Hi Pharyngula,

    I just created this account to post on here. I’ve been a reader since 2008 but never felt compelled to comment.

    I want to make a quick point on the whole “overly-feminized” thing about the host. I think what a lot of people will miss, particularly older readers, is the way that the youth has been growing up over this and the last generation.

    This time around, over the past 15 years, girls have been growing up in a new world. Do you realize how many girls going into their adult years have been playing video games and loving comic book heroes just like the boys? There used to big divide between the sexes, but it’s changing. My sister is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, majoring in physical anthropology and she’s obsessed with evolution. She has a passion for it, but she’s also a really attractive, super cool chick that curses all the time and yells at people online playing multiplayer shooters on Playstation 3.

    The line is blurring guys. Maybe, just maybe, they aren’t asking this host to act the way she is. Maybe she just is that way and that made her the perfect host for the show they wanted. Maybe she’s a hot nerdy tattooed girl with a bit of a bubbly personality that ALSO cares about the atheism movement and values an education.

    It’s not the 80′s anymore. The idea of the girl who’s cool and hot also being the host of a science discussion as a joke is fading. We’ll have more and more girls like this in our movement as the new gamer generation gets older.

  158. 158
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Didn’t watched but listened while floating drywall*.

    1. James Randi is not amazing when it comes to justifying his epistemology.
    2. I think it is important to investigate personal beliefs when considering political candidates. BUT, I also realize that many who hold religious beliefs are completely rational in all other aspects of their lives. A distinction must be made.
    3. To my thinking, religion isn’t a good indicator of any commitment to irrationality. However, religious beliefs are often dangerous in and of themselves, and often do not allow compromise in the way that other belief systems might. So to hell with most of them.

    *Why they say “float” is beyond me, unless leaning precariously from a ladder somehow gives one the sensation of buoyancy.

  159. 159
    Tethys

    Gees, I just looked up Tethys, the Titan Goddess of fresh water.

    No, extinct ocean named for a Titan. (note the gravatar image) In the same manner that the Atlantic is named for the titan Atlas.

    I’m not ignoring you.

    Excellent! Please expound on why you consider Ms Santa Maria out of her league on that panel.

  160. 160
    joed

    @159 Tethys
    “Excellent! Please expound on why you consider Ms Santa Maria out of her league on that panel.”

    Maybe some other time. If you watch the video again you will see it.

  161. 161
    Tethys

    I don’t see it joed. I see a young woman who is well-educated and well-spoken.

    Thanks for showing that you do not wish to learn.

  162. 162
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    “Then you need to learn how to shut the fuck up and listen.”
    Who made you blog-cop? hahaha

    Learning doesn’t occur when you are “flapping your jaw”. You need to keep your mouth closed and your mind open. Shut up and listen. No rocket science there, just a realization of how one learns. No cops involved, so even suggesting that is inappropriate.

  163. 163
    jt512

    joed wrote:

    @159 Tethys
    “Excellent! Please expound on why you consider Ms Santa Maria out of her league on that panel.”

    Maybe some other time. If you watch the video again you will see it.

    Unsubstantiated accusation remains unsubstantiated after at least three requests. Verdict: The accuser can’t substantiate it.

    Jay

  164. 164
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Maybe some other time. If you watch the video again you will see it.

    Did you sprain anything executing that dodge?

  165. 165
    jacklewis

    All those lovely comments on the host being feminine and it being such an awful thing were quite lovely.
    I would have thought more would have been made of the most obviously silly thing she said: “nobody knows what happens when we die” with Sean Carol holding is hand up to no avail.

    That was good for a laugh. Her mannerisms didn’t bother me as much as the substance of what such a comment says about her thinking on relatively simple issues like death and the obvious implications of it. As a neuroscientist she should have a pretty clear notion on that subject.

  166. 166
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    As a neuroscientist she should have a pretty clear notion on that subject.

    Why? I suspect the problem is what you think scientists should specialize in, not what they actually do specialize in.

  167. 167
    jacklewis

    @166
    How much of an education is required to know that conscience comes from the brain and that death is the end of it?
    If your claim is that neuroscience is not involved in studying the brain, I will need some evidence before buying into that odd claim.

  168. 168
    satanaugustine

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in about the Bush Sr. quote, both those who also recall seeing footage of it or did some online research. It’s appreciated!

  169. 169
    Anri

    So, Josh, you’re only advising this young woman on her personal mannerisms for her own good, right?
    Since, yanno, she’s almost – but not quite – smart enough to make that judgment for herself.

    …remind me of the etiquette here, if you would: is it customary to pat her on the head before or after you tell her how she should behave to suit your taste?

    To put it another way, if she told you that you were “acting too gay” would you be fully justified in telling her to kindly fuck the fucking fuck off?
    I think you probably would be.

  170. 170
    satanaugustine

    BTW, I thought Cara did a great job, came across as intelligent and charming, and I perceived no affected femininity whatsoever. I, like others, was a bit disappointed in her lack of engagement with Sean Carroll’s comment on what happens after we die, but then her statement that we “really don’t know for certain” is pretty much boilerplate, even for many scientist atheists.

  171. 171
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I’m not going to defend the assholish way I went about criticizing Cara. I regret it. I do find the enactment of some highly gendered stereotyped behaviors disturbing, but I shouldn’t have launched into her the way I did. Patriarchy is not her fault. Something about the all-male panelists and her manner just bothered me on a deep level. She gets to be however she wants and I was a jerk in how I commented. It’s not, however, out of bounds to remark on these things (not the way I did) in general and I don’t think my assessment was ludicrous. My approach and targeting was pretty dire.

  172. 172
    satanaugustine

    Josh @ 171: Well done!

  173. 173
    unclefrogy

    this out of her depth thing is not what I saw. What I saw was someone trying to keep it on track with a limited time, not an easy thing judging from how well things stay on track around here.

    uncle frogy

  174. 174
    Muz

    She was fine. Stop your fussing people (not that many people really, but anyway).
    People’s problem is they haven’t seen or heard enough truly bad panel control in cheaply produced media. Go find some, it won’t take long.
    The thing that was most distracting was how long the boom operator took to re aim sometimes.

    She’s good anyway, even if she can’t help but jump in a bit too often. Check her out on Star Talk Radio with Neil Tyson a few months back.

  175. 175
    Anri

    Fair enough, and well said, Josh.

  176. 176
    Tuválkin

    Josh @ 171: That’s much better. (Lurker here, reading Pharyngula since 2005 and most often nodding in agreement to Josh’s comments.)

  177. 177
    ChasCPeterson

    Josh: big credit for #171

  178. 178
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    How much of an education is required to know that conscience comes from the brain and that death is the end of it?

    Why does one need to be a neuroscientist to understand that basic information, or what makes them have a more expert opinion than anybody else? In other words, what is your real complaint, not what you claim is your complaint?

  179. 179
    alanworsley

    Just a quick comment to people saying “She is out of her league” or otherwise critiquing Cara’s moderating ability. It is probably worthwhile to point out that actually moderating is a SKILL. It is different to just doing a piece to camera you-tube video, or just sitting around having an indefinite chat. It is NOT easy. The whole time she is having this discussion, she is considering the timing of the segment, what other questions she needs to move the discussion to, how to generate viewer comments, when to play the next video segment, etc. Think of it like trying to carry out an in-depth conversation while driving a car. There are a hundred little things your brain is working on whilst maintaining the discussion.

    As someone who works at the BBC on these types of discussion shows, I thought she did a very good job.

    I was also going to comment on the criticisms of her mannerisms, but Josh’s apology @171 clears most of that up.

  180. 180
    Gregory Greenwood

    @ joed;

    I am still waiting for an answer to my question posed @ 127 and repeated @ 138 – what specific examples of exchanges from the video led you to think that Cara Santa Maria was ‘out of her league’?

    I also imagine that Tethys would appreciate an answer to the similar questions that she posed @ 142 and 159.

    And as for your response @ 160;

    Maybe some other time. If you watch the video again you will see it.

    We have watched the video, and neither of us can see why you cleave to the position that Cara Santa Maria was out of her league.

    We aren’t mind readers, and it is not our responsibility to find support for your contention. If you want us to accept your argument as more that straightforward sexism, then you are going to have to explain why you claim that Cara Santa Maria is out of her league as a moderator in this case.

  181. 181
    joed

    @180 Gregory Greenwood
    “We aren’t mind readers, and it is not our responsibility to find support for your contention.”

    I see you have calmed down a bit from yesterday and I commend your subdued behavior.
    However, I will not be coerced or bullied into submitting my thoughts feeling and ideas.
    You lost your chance.
    Perhaps another article will give you opportunity to dialog with me. I look forward to then.
    Also, your assumptions are way off and you will believe what you want.

  182. 182
    jacklewis

    I’ll probably have to stop feeding the troll after this.

    “Why does one need to be a neuroscientist to understand that basic information”

    I never made that claim. You just did.

    “or what makes them have a more expert opinion than anybody else? ”

    Neuroscientists should be expert in neuro-sciences… it’s not that hard to grasp.

    “In other words, what is your real complaint, not what you claim is your complaint?”
    My complain is whatever I claim it to be (duh!). I am assuming here that your question is your real question and not what you claim it is…

    It’s right there in my first post, stop playing the fool if you can. For an neuroscientist (an atheist at that) to say that nobody knows what happens when we die, is just silly. It’s blatantly obvious what happens… we die and it’s the end of it. What is your justification for this being so hard to comprehend?

  183. 183
    Greyarea

    I’m glad I checked back in to this thread after this morning. Josh, you had sunk several notches in my estimation but your @171 has undone the damage, in my opinion. I know how hard it is to write something like that, so well done.

  184. 184
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    joed,

    You could just answer the question, you know. Saying that you won’t answer because you don’t like how it was asked doesn’t really do much for your credibility.

  185. 185
    Paul W.

    Nerd of Redhead:

    As a neuroscientist she should have a pretty clear notion on that subject.

    Why? I suspect the problem is what you think scientists should specialize in, not what they actually do specialize in.

    I agree with jacklewis here.

    Any neuroscientist should know that we understand more about the mind and brain than most people realize, and should know many of the specifics, and grasp that the mind doesn’t seem able to do anything without the brain—it can’t sense, perceive, feel emotions, think, remember, have beliefs or attitudes, etc.

    Science can’t find a use for a soul, and has shown that everything bit of evidence that people have for the soul is better explained by information processing in the physical brain.

    Many people, even very educated people, do not know that. They still think that the mind is basically mysterious, and largely inexplicable by physical processes.

    Many think of the brain as a sort of coprocessor for the soul, which helps the soul out in some ways, while the soul itself is what does the basic thinking and feeling.

    (Seriously. Some people take “use your brain” literally, and think that when you’re not thinking hard, you’re not using your brain.)

    Many others do understand that the brain is more than a coprocessor, and that brain damage can destroy memories, change personalities, etc., but still don’t really get it that there’s nothing for the soul to do, and that it’s an obsolete idea.

    Many people persist in believing in souls because psychologists and neuroscientists often avoid discussing the implications of the science.

    That’s kinda fucked up—people are being shielded from the very most interesting things we’ve learned—but for a neuroscientist not to know those things, and say “nobody knows what happens after we die,” is seriously fucked up.

    What did she fail to learn in first-year neuroscience? What implications did she fail to get, and why?

    I have met some neuroscience Ph.D. students who didn’t understand these things, e.g., people who studied a very narrow range of brain functions very intensively and not thought much about the big picture. They might know everything that’s known about the physiology and chemistry of certain kinds of neurons and synapses, but not think much about the big picture.

    That made me think that there’s something very wrong with the way those students were taught neuroscience.

    A first course in neuroscience ought to make students very aware that most leading neurscientists disbelieve in souls, and why.

    How much of an education is required to know that conscience comes from the brain and that death is the end of it?

    More education than most people get, or at least a little more knowledge about certain subjects.

    Why does one need to be a neuroscientist to understand that basic information, or what makes them have a more expert opinion than anybody else?

    See above. One doesn’t need to be a neurscientist to understand these things, but most non-neuroscientists don’t. Most scientists don’t. (Although most top scientists do.) They’ve bought the accommodationist line that science and religion are compatible, and that there are mysteries science knows not of, that religion does, or might. The important mysteries are generally about souls and dualism.

    We systematically lie to people about this by omission—by failing to stress the most interesting things that science has found out, such that people assume they’re not true. (E.g., many “scientifically literate” people believe in souls, and really have no idea how antiscientific that is. They assume that if science had shown souls don’t exist, surely they’d have been told.)

    Neuroscientists ought to know about this stuff, and have thought about it, and been interested enough in the implications to get those implications.

    For any neuroscientist not to get this is like a planetary astronomer not having a basic understanding of, say, black holes. Maybe it’s not their particular specialty, but any astronomer ought to know that much. And if they have a gap in their knowledge about that, they should at least know they do, and not say stupid things about black holes in public, like “nobody knows whether black holes exist.”

  186. 186
    Paul W.

    joed:

    However, I will not be coerced or bullied into submitting my thoughts feeling and ideas.

    Then go away and stay away.

    Whether or not you think your particular interlocutors were nice enough to you to deserve an answer, you really shouldn’t clutter up threads with assertions you’re unwilling to substantiate.

    You lost your chance.

    This is the kind of crap that makes people think you can’t back up your assertions, and hope you’ll just go away.

    Perhaps another article will give you opportunity to dialog with me. I look forward to then.

    We don’t.

    Also, your assumptions are way off and you will believe what you want.

    You’ve given us reason to think certain unflattering things about you. We will certainly believe what we can’t help believing about you.

    This “that’s for me to know and you to find out” bullshit is unwelcome around here.

    If you say she’s over her head, and somebody asks you to be specific about when and how she seems over her head to you, tell them. Especially if they’ve seen the same video you did, and didn’t see it.

    Or just don’t post your opinion in the first place. Nobody around here wants to talk with people who float opinions and won’t defend them when asked.

  187. 187
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’ll probably have to stop feeding the troll after this.

    Here’s a clue. Somebody who has posted here for years usually has a point, and isn’t posting just to get a rise out of you, which is what trolls do. You seem to do that yourself on occasion, like when you call regulars trolls. Just disagreeing with you isn’t trolling; that is your ego getting in the way. You should expect to be disagreed with.

  188. 188
    joed

    @185 Paul W
    “Many people persist in believing in souls because psychologists and neuroscientists often avoid discussing the implications of the science.

    That’s kinda fucked up—people are being shielded from the very most interesting things we’ve learned—but for a neuroscientist not to know those things, and say “nobody knows what happens after we die,” is seriously fucked up.

    What did she fail to learn in first-year neuroscience? What implications did she fail to get, and why?”

    I could not have said this because I don’t have the background, but now I don’t need to say it because you did. And this is just a small part of why I though the host was in over her head.
    I guess all i can say is that I felt like she was in over her head.
    Thank you

  189. 189
    roll

    @186 Paul,
    “You’ve given us reason to think certain unflattering things about you. ”

    “We don’t.”

    “We will certainly believe what we can’t help believing about you.”

    “Nobody around here wants to talk with people who float opinions and won’t defend them when asked.”

    You seem to know an awful lot about what ‘people around here’ think about things.

    You seem to be the one trying to create a hive-mind.

    Although I pick on your post, you are certainly not alone in using this type of exclusive language to encourage the cheering that you think will shore up your ideas.

    This type of unconsidered cheerleading is by far the most dissapointing aspect of what should be some much more enlightening discourse.

    Cheers
    Roll

  190. 190
    Tethys

    joed

    I could not have said this because I don’t have the background, but now I don’t need to say it because you did. And this is just a small part of why I though the host was in over her head.

    Since you don’t have the background to judge her education at all, it is impossible for you to have held this opinion until you read it here. Stop being a sexist lying fuckwit.

    I guess all i can say is that I felt like she was in over her head.

    Your vague feelings are not pertinent. The sexist bias that motivates those feelings is the thing you are trying desperately to avoid owning.

    I feel you should fuck off now, unless you learn to engage honestly.

  191. 191
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    This type of unconsidered cheerleading is by far the most dissapointing aspect of what should be some much more enlightening discourse.

    Lets compare Paul W’s prose to your concerns about tone and content that you have no enlightening discourse for. Paul was telling someone why they weren’t being taken seriously. The examples shown and comments were right on, hitting point after point on the head on why this person wasn’t being taken seriously, and won’t be until it stops playing coy.

    Your generalized concerns weren’t on which required examples of his and showing how to avoid them. PaulW gets an “A”, you get a “C”

  192. 192
    roll

    If i showed him how to avoid them. Like him not assuming he knew what I thought. Would I have got an A teach?

  193. 193
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Hey joed. Have you read Carla Santa Maria’s Masters thesis?

    I have.

    I even have it open on my computer right now. Are you, by any chance, in college, or have a membership to a library with access to scholarly journals and Thesis databases and such?

    If you can get your hands on it, I recommend reading it. It’s called “Optimization of cell culture procedures for growing neural networks on microelectrode arrays”… and this shit is good. Being a layman myself, reading through it was quite tedious. But with the amazing power of Teh Google, I was able to get through all 81 pages (though that’s including the introduction and appendices).

    She was definitely not in over her head. This girl is intelligent.

    As for the whole death thing… I honestly think she slipped up there, but I think that it was more a function of the limited time they had than anything else. Imagine if that panel had been two, or even three hours. Hell, even another 30 minutes would have been enough. I’d be willing to be that she would most definitely have engaged Sean on that had there been more time.

    As for Carla’s acting of femininity, I actually agree that it was a tad annoying. I mean, I’ve known highly intelligent (also attractive) girls who make a game out of “playing dumb” because they love to “punk guys” by springing some serious intelligence on them when they least expect it, and I find that annoying. I don’t think Carla was playing here, but I know she’s intelligent, as well, so the mannerisms did grate.

    But they are not her fault, either. She can’t be yelled at for it, honestly. It’s possible that a combination of pressures from her Mormon upbringing combined with how our patriarchal society tends to treat women like her (she is a public, intelligent face who happens to be as beautiful as she is intelligent… I’d be surprised if she’d didn’t get crude comments directed her way all the time) essentially made her like that. I doubt she conforms consciously. She probably doesn’t even realize it.

  194. 194
    joed

    This is like search for pecking order.
    a real pecking party it is!
    I am sure the host of this vid is an intelligent, hard working friendly person, it shows in the video.
    But, also what I see is the host not being able to meet the guests at their level. Like Beatrice said yesterday, it is not unusual for the host to not be in the same league as the guest. OK, fine.
    All these “fuck yous” and “dip shits” and “fuck offs” are really attempts to bully and lead the pack, and I for one am not impressed or intimidated by that sort of talk.
    I would like to go back and watch the vid again and note the time when the host was not up to the comment. I’m not going to do that today.
    Finally, words of wisdom, If you get in a pissin’ contest with a skunk you will lose.

  195. 195
    strange gods before me ॐ

    joed,

    All these “fuck yous” and “dip shits” and “fuck offs” are really attempts to bully and lead the pack

    More than that, they are an attempt to disincentivize bad reasoning and bad argumentation.

    We want to maintain a rational (not necessarily civil, but well informed and well argued) discourse here, and — like Paul W. said — “Nobody around here wants to talk with people who float opinions and won’t defend them when asked.”

    Your insubstantial comments are a waste of other people’s time. Generally we don’t appreciate this. So you’re being asked to either make more substantive comments or cease to waste others’ time.

    Like I told you before, I want to see you contribute usefully around here.

  196. 196
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    As a tiny little bitette of evidence in favour of the assertion that religious belief is a flag for lack of rational thought I offer you http://boingboing.net/2012/08/20/pastor-claims-holy-black-curra.html
    It’s a small drop in an Olympic swimming pool of stupidity but at least it has the advantage of being at the amusing end of the pool. Well, until you remember the number of people killed by woo, that is.

  197. 197
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    All these “fuck yous” and “dip shits” and “fuck offs” are really attempts to bully and lead the pack, and I for one am not impressed or intimidated by that sort of talk.

    Actually, it seems you get more vapid and insipid with such talk, like you don’t know what to do, or are just posting to piss people off more. Which leads to more such talk as you waste space and our time with stuff that never should have been posted in the first place.

    The best argument you can present is always: “This is what I think, and this (link) is the evidence to back it up”. This is what you need to aspire to, not vague statements you aren’t willing to defend. Take note Roll.

  198. 198
    drigeolf

    I don’t understand why everyone agrees saying we don’t know what happens after we are dead is a bad thing in the context of the panel.

    I have watched the video and one of the panelists said he doesn’t know whether sun will rise from the East tomorrow or not. He gave the example of Earth being destroyed by a comet and we will never know it beforehand.

    I think it is an important distinction we have to make in science. Science doesn’t prove anything(as Sean Carroll stated) in the mathematical sense of the word. It just shows something is true beyond any reasonable doubt. The “unreasonable doubt” will still be there. I have no KNOWLEDGE if the laws of physics will stay the same a second from now but I believe(or “know” in everyday usage of the word) that it will. Or in other words I would bet my money on sun rising from the East tomorrow if I have the chance. I will almost certainly make a great profit.

    When we use the word “know” colloquially we generally don’t mean we are certain %100 about that issue, and I strongly believe this is something we should emphasize. But in the panel they have discussed and used the word “know” as knowing with certainty. Her comments were made after that. In that context I agree with her statement, I don’t think we can “know” what will happen after we die but I wouldn’t bet my money on the notion of the afterlife. It is a nonsensical belief to hold.

    Dawkins had a similar discussion in God Delusion. He said he is a point 6 at a scale of 1 to 7(7 being %100 percent sure that he is an atheist). This doesn’t mean he is not an atheist or actually thinks God exists, it just means he can never be certain on the existence of an essentially supernatural being. A similar argument can be made for the existence of the soul and saying you are a 6 on the soul scale doesn’t make you irrational.

  199. 199
    jacklewis

    @198
    Your point about Sean (I believe) bringing up that we don’t know much with 100% certainty like the sun rising tomorrow is fine but noticed that she didn’t get what he meant by that and she states a few seconds later that “she knows the sun will rise tomorrow”. So when she states that nobody knows what happens when we die, she is obviously not using any Hume style nuanced meaning of the term but is simply using the colloquial combined with an absolute (“nobody”) which is basically wrong if not bad.

    One thing on the whole host being over her head thing. One thing to remember is that it’s a lot harder to host something (drive the conversation, asks the questions, etc) than to simply be a guest and answer whatever point is being brought up. She is also young and some of her mannerisms (I don’t really focus on those myself but still) might have just been due to a case of the nerves when you are being filmed if you haven’t done it enough or are just a nervous type to begin with.

  200. 200
    Julien Rousseau

    noticed that she didn’t get what he [Sean Carroll] meant by that and she states a few seconds later that “she knows the sun will rise tomorrow”. So when she states that nobody knows what happens when we die, she is obviously not using any Hume style nuanced meaning of the term but is simply using the colloquial combined with an absolute (“nobody”) which is basically wrong if not bad.

    I disagree. Just before saying that “nobody really knows what happens when we die, nobody really knows without the shadow of a doubt, like we said ” she was talking about George H. Smith’s point that “we are all agnostic, because nobody really knows”, which was basically Sean’s point earlier, so she was using a nuanced point.

    As for not taking up on Sean saying “I know”, I took it as being Sean making a joke by reversing the role from earlier when she was saying she knew the sun would rise and he was saying that she didn’t. Now it was her saying he didn’t know (by saying nobody did) and him saying he did, hence why they all laughed.

    If we’re going to criticise her for both saying she didn’t know about death and saying she knew about the sun rising then shouldn’t we criticise Sean too for saying the opposite? That he knew about death but didn’t know about the sun rising? (And maybe even for the bolded part in the following quote @6:05 “Of course we cannot prove that there are no unicorn in Ecuador, but we all know there are no unicorns in Ecuador“.)

    It seems to me that the meaning of the word know shifted somewhat during the conversation from “have a warranted belief” to “have 100% certainty” and that she’s being slagged off for 1) not making the transition at the same time as Sean (sun rising part) and 2) having made the transition before some commenters here did (death part).

    =================
    To anyone interested in her dissertation after Nate’s comment @193:
    Her dissertation is available from her Alma mater here.

  201. 201
    jt512

    @Julien Rousseau

    As for not taking up on Sean saying “I know”, I took it as being Sean making a joke by reversing the role from earlier when she was saying she knew the sun would rise and he was saying that she didn’t. Now it was her saying he didn’t know (by saying nobody did) and him saying he did, hence why they all laughed.

    What Sean said was, “I know. I can tell you if you want to know,” and I very much doubt he was kidding. I think he really wanted to explain why physics allows us to say with virtual certainty that there is no afterlife. Sean has several blog posts explaining how physics has ruled out the existence of supernatural phenomena, and I attended a recent lecture he gave on the topic at Caltech.

  202. 202
    jt512

    Here is a blog post by Sean Carroll in which he explains how we know that there is no “life after death.”

  203. 203
    Julien Rousseau

    What Sean said was, “I know. I can tell you if you want to know,” and I very much doubt he was kidding.

    I obviously wasn’t clear enough. The part that was the kidding (in my view) was his use of the word “know” instead of a more nuanced statement like he advocated Cara use when he said she didn’t know. I don’t doubt that he could have answered the question, had Cara asked him to (I suspect he might have qualified his use of the word “know” then, given the previous banter).

    Maybe a better way to explain what I mean is to say that he was being ha ha, only serious; the ha ha part being the use of “know” and only serious being his ability to explain why we have a pretty good idea (understatement of the year) of what happens after death.

    I haven’t yet read the post you linked (thanks for it) but I remember reading a post here where he talked about whether we could test the supernatural, so I have no doubt of his ability to apply that to supernatural claims of life after death (as long as they have some kind of impact on the real world), but I doubt that in that video he meant that he has 100% certainty of what happens after death (which is the way they were using the word “know” by that point in the conversation).

    Of course I am just analysing (possibly over-analysing) his words in what I perceive to be their context, we would have to ask him if consciously used the word “know” to effect a role reversal. The reason I analysed it is in response to what I viewed as over-analysing Cara’s word choice without their (shifting) context and slagging her for it, leading to a double standard when the same thing could have been said of Sean in reverse order if applying the same standard to his word use.

  204. 204
    jt512

    @Julien Rousseau (#203)
    Sean explains what he means by “know” with respect to the supernatural in his post Telekinesis and Quantum Field Theory, where he states, “[W]e never know for sure, we can only speak in probabilities and likelihoods. Given the above, I would put the probability that some sort of parapsychological phenomenon will turn out to be real at something (substantially) less than a billion to one.” As he explains, in order for telekinesis to be true, extremely well-tested fundamental laws of physics must be false, and the probability of that is minute. So when he says “know,” he means that the probability of being wrong is negligibly small.

    Although in the above case he was talking about telekinesis, the same holds true for any purported phenomenon, including an afterlife, that is inconsistent with thoroughly tested physical laws.

    Jay

  205. 205
    Julien Rousseau

    Context, jt, Context. In the context of the video at the point where he made his comment about life after death it is clear (to me at least) that he was using the word “know” to mean 100% certainty, as examplified by his saying that Cara didn’t “know” that the sun would rise, otherwise he would have accepted it as meaning “that the probability of [her] being wrong is negligibly small” and not called her out.

    His own use later, *in this context* was a joke (again, in my view) in that he reversed the earlier position with Kara in the use of the word, given that Kara was definitely using the word as “100% certain” at that point (paraphrase: “nobody knows for certain”, “we’re all agnostic”).

    Do I think he meant to say that he had 100% certainty other than in a joking manner? No, which makes it not only a situation reversal but also a pun between the two meanings of the word used in the conversation.

    If we take your interpretation that he was meaning “that the probability of being wrong is negligibly small” all the time that he used the word know then that would make him a hypocrite for not being charitable about Cara’s use of the word while expecting (earlier, when he first used it without explaining what he meant by it) others to give a charitable meaning to his use (“we know there are no unicorns”). I don’t think Sean is a hypocrite, do you?

    Look, except for that last paragraph, I am just repeating myself trying to convey to you what I mean in different ways; and I feel that if you don’t get it now (or by re-reading my previous posts or re-watching the ~15 minutes segment with what I claim in mind) I probably won’t be able to explain to you what I mean and thus am wasting my time (and yours).

    To summarise, I think he was serious in his ability to say, with a great level of confidence, what happens after death. But I also think that he was joking in the way he said it, by his choice of word, given the context of change of use of said word in the conversation. Apparently the other panelists thought so too (or something similar) as they were laughing. Hell, even Sean has a big smile on his face.

    That said, have a nice day.

  206. 206
    jt512

    Julien, this is the point where I have sit back and say that I have better things to do than argue about the smallest point in the world.

  207. 207
    Julien Rousseau

    Correction to my earlier post (because correcting our own mistakes matter when we spot them):

    I shouldn’t have used Sean’s first use of know (with unicorns) when I said “(earlier, when he first used it without explaining what he meant by it)” as he did explain what he meant (by talking about warranted belief), I should have used his expectation (on jt’s hypothesis) of being understood differently when he used know for the after death thing than what he understood her to say when she used it in the sun thing.

    I have sit back and say that I have better things to do than argue about the smallest point in the world.

    Which is what I was gonna do (the “Look…” paragraph), but then I realised I made a mistake.

Comments have been disabled.