Open thread for episode #931: Matt and Tracie


Matt and Tracie take viewer calls from the ACA Library studio.

Comments

  1. says

    I dunno how this works, can’t find y’alls number, so I’ma just leave a text here.

    I am 34, male, gay, atheist. Huuuuuuge Greydon Square fan.
    (Yeah, yeah, you favor theist emails and calls cuz they provide more lulz).

    I grew up in a religious household, became agnostic at age 17 when I started reading the Bible for myself and realizing how messed up it was.

    Became a full-fledged atheist later on when I actually looked at and thought about the damage religion causes.

    Anyway, I wanna know – and I am probably preaching to the choir on this – how come more people don’t ask themselves these questions… 1: If God has infinite creative capability, and also knows the future… why give us a book that he already knew we were going to “misinterpret?” Surely with all his knowledge and power, he could have given us a technological device instead, and I don’t mean computers getting made later – I mean just give us the tech from the start, not some stupid book.

    2: If God controls everything, meaning that every single aspect of a person’s life is pre-ordained / pre-destined, how the fuck do we have “free will?” If we are all just puppets being moved around by God, and having our thoughts and feelings scripted by God, why the heck should we get punished for shit he already knew / planned that we would do?

    3: Why do so many Christians ~SELECTIVELY~ read the Bible, and when you try to point out any of the bad stuff in that book, they just default to “you’re taking it out of context?” If God had given us the technological device I was talking about, there wouldn’t be a way to take the shit out of context in the first place. Why the fuck is is ~MY~ fault that I don’t know 100% exactly what some shit that was translated multiple different times – is trying to say? Why should I need to take classes in Hebrew to “get the right context?” Fuck off with that shit, yo.

  2. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    (I tried to call in. I was too late and they had other callers lined up.)

    But that last caller. What a hoot. The ustream chat was convinced it was a troll. I’m not sure, but the “why do they say carbon 14 when carbon isn’t element number 14?” thing was hilarious either way.

  3. says

    @1 EL

    It’s tough to say… I didn’t know the answer myself. I knew it had something to do with it being an isotope. 5 literal seconds of searching online later, I found the answer.

    But it’s not unusual for a creationist to immediately stop as soon as they think they’ve found a “gotchya”, and dart for the nearest atheist/science-minded person to utilize out their new worldview-crushing argument.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    Ironically, they call it carbon-14 partially because carbon is not a specific element number. If carbon were element 7, they’d just call carbon-14 “carbon.”

  5. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    Woof, MikeManea’s latest debate post gave me cancer. You’ve been good about outlining Bayesian reasoning, but he still fucks it up in spectacular fashion. And I don’t know if that’s his biggest issue, either; he commits so many logical fallacies that I lost track.

  6. Fair Witness says

    @EL
    Per the debate with MikeManea…. Don’t you feel a little like Kramer in the karate class for kids?

  7. Clinton Rausch says

    That last caller may or may not have been a troll. The scarier proposition is that he was not.

  8. Clinton Rausch says

    That last caller may or may not have been a troll. The scarier proposition is that he was not.

  9. Narf says

    @MS
    http://www.debate.org/debates/Something-regarding-atheism-vs-religion-not-sure-yet/1/, for anyone just tuning into the debate issue and wasn’t paying attention to the comments from two posts back.

    You can see the quality of the opposing debater, when he initiated a debate and forced EL, the negative side, to go first, without even setting up a formal debate topic.  Atheism always has the negative side, unless you’re debating hard atheism, for some reason, and just throwing open the debate and going, “Here, debate against Christianity or something,” is a pretty shitty way to run things.

  10. Narf says

    And yeah, MS.  This guy has so much nonsense cluttering up his thinking processes.  Right below his flowchart, in his post in Round 2, he even admits:

    In theory, given enough time, science could advance far enough to know for a fact that all the possible naturalistic explanations have been tried and have failed. And, in that sense, the historical supernatural would still be subject to science. In practice however, it’s hard to ever really know that we have exhausted all the possible naturalistic explanations.

    Okay, so get back to us when you can achieve this in practice, and we’ll talk.  Until such a time, you’re proposing something absolutely freaking useless.

  11. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You can see the quality of the opposing debater, when he initiated a debate and forced EL, the negative side, to go first, without even setting up a formal debate topic.

    I may be overly gullible, but I think he’s actually incompetent rather than malicious. I don’t think he thought through how it might look improper to do that, because it seems he’s new to this. IMHO. Being incompetent in this sense is not something we should shame IMHO.

  12. corwyn says

    @8 EL:

    Being incompetent in this sense is not something we should shame IMHO.

    Everyone needs to cherish their mistakes. Sometimes that requires other people to push those mistakes back at them, so they can reach, and hug them to themselves.

  13. Narf says

    I may be overly gullible, but I think he’s actually incompetent rather than malicious. I don’t think he thought through how it might look improper to do that, because it seems he’s new to this. IMHO. Being incompetent in this sense is not something we should shame IMHO.

    There’s the incompetence of being new to something, and then there’s the incompetence of … just being incompetent.  I’ll defer to your longer experience with this particular guy.

    Then there are people like ShockofGod.  I think he does the same thing, simply because he has that poor of a grasp of basic logic, and he refuses to learn.  I don’t think he’s being malicious, at least any more than he’s generally an asshole, when he presents his “What evidence do you have that atheism is true,” bullshit.  I think that he either thinks that that’s how logic works, that the rejection of a positive claim requires the assertion of the negative claim, or he thinks that he understands atheism better than atheists do, thanks to that line in Romans, 1:18 – 21.

    No, people, your holy book is wrong, as it is in so many other places.

  14. says

    #1: “Yeah, yeah, you favor theist emails and calls cuz they provide more lulz”

    No, we favor them because it makes for a better public dialog when someone disagrees at a very core level. It’s not about laughs, and I’m sorry that some viewers see the show as being for humor/entertainment value rather than a serious outreach effort to have a conversation about a very important topic we disagree on, within a culture that is predominantly influenced by people who subscribe to a worldview we disagree with on a foundational level. While I *get* how some of the callers can sound ridiculous and funny–and have, myself, smiled/laughed when I was surprised by my own incredulity at what is said by some callers–the fact is, it should be disturbing that people who hold these views and lack this level of understanding about the world around them, make up a significant number of politically active (and politically successful) people.

    Yes, there is a funny aspect to the things some of the theist callers say–but that should always be within the context of the larger, and far more important, dialog that includes “these are the people influencing the nation.” This is an important conversation, and far more important than anyone calling simply to agree with us.

    This is not to say that there are not also important atheist issues and struggles, but nearly all secular podcasts already offer an outlet for that conversation–which I applaud. Our program was among the few that actually included live debate between average citizens on topics that have actual gravity in how public policy is formed. I see that as an important conversation that does not have strong presentation. Certainly theists don’t often have atheists on to discuss/debate/inform on atheist perspectives. And most atheist podcasts also do not offer this. We try to. And we don’t go to this trouble just for a few laughs.

    For example, in reading the rest of your post–your questions have been posed by countless atheists, and a quick google will show this. They are questions for *theists*–not for atheists. Your questions are about what theists say and do, and calling atheists to ask why theists say/do what they do, is not nearly as enlightening as actually asking THEISTS what motivates them. While it’s true some of the hosts used to be theists, why call ex-theist atheists when what you really want to know is why *believers* say/do particular things? There are huge numbers of theists in reality to ask. Take advantage of it, and ask one…or two…or as many as you like. They LOVE to talk to anyone about what they believe and why they believe it, and would gladly engage you for as long as you’re willing to politely listen. And since you’re not looking for debate (as you’re asking other atheists)–sitting and politely listening shouldn’t be difficult? There is a world FULL of theists out there, just DYING to talk to people about Jesus or Allah or whatever it is they think you need to believe. And they’ll gladly respond to whatever questions you have. Heck–just walk into any local church and ask a pastor? Not sure where you live, but where I live there are about 5 such locations within walking distance of my house. THIS is why we prefer theist callers.

  15. says

    >The ustream chat was convinced it was a troll.

    The call screeners tagged this as a potential troll call. Also, they showed he’d indicated a very different question than the one he actually asked when he got through. Assuming the screeners tagged it correctly, the worst part is that we had another caller who was queued up that we didn’t get to who wanted to dispute naturalism. This is why I loathe trolls. They suck up time that could be devoted to real issues that might reach people. Most theists tuning in will hear the Carbon-14 call and think “idiot.” But some of them might actually have thought the call on naturalism hit issues they have personal concerns about. The theists who question things like naturalism are a different breed than those who subscribe to low-level Creationist ploys–and more likely the types of theists willing to actually think and consider. That call might have been helpful to our outreach effort. The one we took…not so much. But sadly, the call box for TAE is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get. 😉

  16. Fair Witness says

    @ heicart

    I do like that you are allowing the show to run a bit longer so that you have time to get to more meaningful calls (and suffer through a few trolls in the process). Thanks for that!

  17. Monocle Smile says

    “I believe because I feel nice when I read the bible. So you should believe, too.”
    …there are no words. Brian’s call just rolled downhill the whole way. It’s hard to find a “point” of his that didn’t make me cringe.

  18. frankstein says

    Guys, I really do appreciate the difficulties in getting the bugs worked out in switching to a new venue etc. but I have to encourage you all to get someone to concentrate harder on the technical aspects of the show. It really does reflect negatively on the show and as hard as everyone is working on it, I’m at a loss as to why you guys still seem to have so many technical issues. Mics/audio cutting out, headphones not working correctly, phone control and phone/Skype audio issues, sound level balancing, etc.. These are all technical issues that you really are in control of and you are capable of mitigating prior to show time.
    I really do appreciate the show and everyone who makes it happen but you really do need to come up with solutions to all these technical issues BEFORE you go to air. There are plenty of web shows and public TV shows with way fewer people and much less technical experience that seem to get through each show without all the problems you guys seem to encounter so often.
    Please try to increase the attention paid to technical issues of the show.
    Also, whoever your webmaster is, can you go through and test all of your webpage functionality, every link, every button, especially on the blog.
    Love the show, keep it up, and thanks.

  19. Yaro says

    Maybe instead of Skype (Which is fail in many ways.) you should use Google Hangouts for call-ins instead.

  20. Narf says

    Yup, that link seems to work, corwyn.  Thanks for testing that one for us, so frankstein knows that that one will work for him.  😀

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Tracie
    I agree with almost everything you say here. I don’t want to encourage “look at the foolish person, haha!”. I really like the show as an honest dialogue and outreach. That’s what makes me interested.

    PS:

    Assuming the screeners tagged it correctly, the worst part is that we had another caller who was queued up that we didn’t get to who wanted to dispute naturalism.

    That was me. Also, I don’t want to contradict materialism as a well-establish scientific fact. I want to discuss philosophy of science with Matt. (And you too if you disagree with me. I don’t know if you do offhand.) In short, I want to argue that science is a way of knowing that would apply to the so-called supernatural if it existed. However, I am pretty well convinced that it does not.

    IIRC, go back to show 930, the recent show with Jeff Dee. The first caller was me. I agree with Jeff’s position completely. Maybe I’m a bad listener, but I hear a completely different position from Matt.

  22. Narf says

    … materialism as a well-establish scientific fact.

    Err, did you mean scientific fact  there?  That feels like the wrong word.

  23. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Colloquially. I don’t mean to start a terminology war over fact, theory, law, etc.

  24. Narf says

    I’m still not entirely sure what you mean by that statement, then.  I’m just trying to figure out what you were trying to say, since that seemed to be an important point.

  25. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    ? Materialism is true. Materialism is an accurate description of the (observable) world that we live in. Materialism is a well-demonstrated scientific theory. I’m sorry. I don’t understand where the confusion might be. Does that help?

    Do I need to define the word “materialism”? If so, I would appeal to the “matter in motion” paradigm espoused by Enlightenment figures such as Galileo and Baron d’Holbach. If asked, and with a little bit of time, I can provide some links to their work on this matter. I especially like how Baron d’Holbach puts it.

  26. Narf says

    Rewording that helped.  It was unclear, from the way you first said it, whether you meant methodological naturalism, certain observed facts that imply materialism, or some greater framework like an actual hypothesis or theory.  You seem to mean the last category, from what I’m reading of your last comment.  The statement is still a little short on specifics, but that’s good enough.

    I simply had no idea what you were talking about, the first time around.  It wasn’t clear within the context of the rest of what you were talking typing about.

  27. Paul Cornelius says

    @4 MS

    Ironically, they call it carbon-14 partially because carbon is not a specific element number. If carbon were element 7, they’d just call carbon-14 “carbon.”

    Carbon is in fact a specific element number, 6. All carbon nuclei have exactly six protons (that’s what makes it a carbon nucleus). Carbon has several isotopes, which differ in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. If it has 6 neutrons it’s called Carbon-12 (6+6=12), the most abundant isotope. Carbon 13 (6 protons + 7 neutrons) is another but much rarer isotope. Carbon-14 (6 protons and 8 neutrons) is found in the earth’s atmosphere, is incorporated into living tissue, and radioactively decays. That is the basis for radiocarbon dating. No irony is involved in any of these names. If carbon were element 7 we would need a new name for element 6, and the atoms formerly known as carbon-14 would now be called TheNewName-14.

    Matt’s excellent one-minute explanation of how modern radiometric dating uses a variety of methods, with mutually consistent and intersecting time scales, was right on the money.

    Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2015/08/16/open-thread-for-episode-931-matt-and-tracie/#ixzz3j81DUQzX

  28. Monocle Smile says

    @Paul
    The irony isn’t about the name…it was about the caller’s “complaint.” I don’t think you read my comment properly. I wasn’t saying carbon doesn’t have a specific element number…just that it’s not 7. If carbon was element 7 and had the atomic weight of carbon-14, we’d just call it “carbon” and it wouldn’t be radioactive, given that common nitrogen isn’t radioactive. The caller was all “why is it called carbon-14 when carbon is element 6.” Well, dumbass, we call it carbon-14 specifically because it’s not your everyday average carbon atom.

    Given that I was a physics minor and had to take a few chemistry and materials science courses on the way to an engineering degree, I’m wholly familiar with atomic structure and radiometric dating.

  29. I-Men says

    I was laughing from the last caller. Though this make fun of him I was wondering if he had epistemophobia?

  30. says

    I say from about time 0H52M until 1H13M was a super gem that’s worthy of being clipped out and studied in great detail. If any person can take those arguments to heart, they should find themselves progressing away from faith.
     
    The exchange reminded me of Burpo’s “Heaven is for Real” delusion, which may even (if I’m being cynical, and I am) have been a ploy (by the boy’s father) to build out some celebrity status and make a message pay his family some real-world income.
     
    Great show, despite ongoing technical difficulties, the new setup is making progress. The biggest technical hindrance were the breakups in the captured stream which caused a few good comments by the hosts and caller to be partly lost. Fortunately, it was good enough most of the time to have communicated some really excellent value! Though it didn’t cause any problems in this show, I think hosts still should take care to address eachother by name, so as not to inadvertently cause the callers to think a comment is directed at them for a response (pretend the caller cannot see you).

  31. corwyn says

    @24:

    It can be argued that materialism is a scientific *axiom*. Which is what EL objects to (I think).

    To me, if it is a hypothesis, without a reasonable *definition* which defines a set with at least one potential member, it is a source of confusion and argument to no good purpose.

  32. tonyinbatavia says

    frankstein @18 said:

    …you really do need to come up with solutions to all these technical issues BEFORE you go to air.

    I disagree. Recognizing that you are an all-volunteer crew, I hope you keep doing what you’re doing however you’re doing it and whenever you can do it. In the meantime, please understand that most of us out here aren’t demanding fucks who feel compelled to give you orders about the way you do your show. Most of us appreciate that you are muscling through a major change and doing the best you can while continuing to bring the goods content-wise. That you are doing this weekly, and now with longer episodes? That rocks. Thanks for all of this.

  33. Narf says

    @31 – I-Men

    I was laughing from the last caller. Though this make fun of him I was wondering if he had epistemophobia?

    You can’t help but sometimes get hilarious callers, even if, as Tracie said, that isn’t the point of the show.  Just enjoy them when they incidentally happen.  JR’s call is one of my favorite of all time, for example.

  34. Narf says

    @corwyn
    I was mostly just looking for a clarification of any sort, since I couldn’t figure out what the heck EL was trying to say with that statement, as phrased.

  35. corwyn says

    @4

    The caller wasn’t confusing carbon (6) with Nitrogen (7) He was confusing it with Silicon (14). At least two misapprehensions about how the periodic table works.

    I can’t understand how anyone can have such an inflated opinion of themselves. He looked at a construct of science, and assumed that his quick perusal was more exhaustive than the guys who constructed it. Ego much? It not even as if that is the only thing ’14’ might stand for. It could be (from his position of ignorance) that carbon-14 was a molecule of 14 carbon atoms.

    I couldn’t have *made up* that level of ignorance.

  36. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    It can be argued that materialism is a scientific *axiom*. Which is what EL objects to (I think).

    To play devil’s advocate, people who endorse methodological naturalism would object to what you just said. They would say that this position is “philosophical naturalism”, e.g. the assertion that the only things that exist fit materialism.

    Let me try to state my position again, in short.

    I object to anyone who says that science is not an appropriate tool to determine if supernatural stuff exists. I strongly object to anyone who says that science is not an appropriate tool to learn about the supernatural (if such stuff exists). Science is an appropriate tool to learn about anything that has an impact on my personal first-person experience, whether it’s natural or supernatural (whatever those words mean). However, if someone presents a rigorous definition of these words and presents evidence for the assertion that there is no such thing as existing (observable) supernatural stuff, then I’m totally ok with that. Further, I believe that I can give a sufficiently rigorous meaning to the word “materialism” based on the paradigm of “matter in motion” of Galileo and Baron d’Holbach, and I believe that the available evidence overwhelmingly indicates that everything which exists (and is observable) fits the paradigm of materialism.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Regarding The Matrix caller. It’s a lot of subtle things coming together. I’m responding largely because I’m primed because of a debate I’m doing with a Christian elsewhere where the same topic came up (Mike on debate.org).

    AFAICT, the caller relied on the unstated premise that he would drastically change the way he lived his life if he was in The Matrix. That’s a highly questionable premise. Regardless of whether I am in a simulated reality, I will still feel hunger tomorrow. My hunger is still real. The food might not be real, but my hunger is real – simulated or not. Simulated hunger is still hunger. Science is a tool that still works if I’m in a simulated reality, and I have used science to determine that the way to sate my hunger is to obtain and eat food – regardless of whether that food is simulated or not. The caller is simply wrong that a generic “brain in a vat” hypothesis is all that interesting. The truth or falsity of that proposition itself has zero direct impact on the way that I should live my life. If I had some way of reliably learning just the truth of that proposition, it would be a mere curiosity.

    The caller then tried to draw an equivalence between someone assuming that they’re not a brain in a vat – which is reasonable according to the caller – and someone assuming that there is a god. I know it’s rather radical, but I think that at first glance, someone is not justified in concluding that they’re not a brain in a vat (see postscript). You have no noteworthy reasons nor evidence which should make you think that you are a brain in a vat, and you have no noteworthy reasons nor evidence which should make you think that you are not a brain in a vat. On the question of whether you are a brain in a vat, you should remain undecided until evidence comes in.

    This is a simple consequence of the IMO proper mode of epistemology called positivism. In short, the generic “brain in a vat hypothesis” offers zero predictions about the future of your experience, which means that it’s a useless proposition. It’s useless precisely because it’s not testable. It cannot possibly affect your life precisely because it’s not testable. Carl Sagan makes the same point with his garage dragon parable.

    Perhaps someone will come along with a variant “brain in a vat” hypothesis that entails actual predictions about the future, and then we should start caring about that variant hypothesis.

    Postscript:
    I am open to the idea that one can use a particular formulation of Occam’s Razor which says that if you have multiple competing hypothesis, and if the available evidence fits all of them equally, then you should favor the hypothesis which has the shortest information-theory description. In that sense, it may be possible to distinguish between hypotheses with offer no testable predictions, such as “brain in a vat” and “not brain in a vat”.

    However, the more I think about this, the more I think that this is just a waste of time, and I think it’s philosophically wrong-headed. It’s the same irrational need for realism that has existed with us at least since Plato and Platonic forms. IMHO, we need to drop this need for realism, and we should settle for pragmatism. Are we brains in vats? IMHO, the proper response should be: “Does it matter if we’re brains in vats? No. Then I don’t care.”

    PPS:
    I do not have the belief that I am not a brain in a vat.

    However, it’s probably true that one of my foundational presuppositions is that these other humans have minds lime mine. That foundational presupposition might itself be the result of another foundational presupposition: a simple principle of humility and mediocrity, a sort of generalized Copernican principle. I see other human-like creatures around me, and I’m faced with at least two alternatives: 1- I’m the only one with a mind, and the other creatures are philosophical zombies without first-person experience and qualia, which would make me the center of the world in some relevant sense which violates the generalized Copernican principle, or 2- these other humans have minds just like mine.

    So, I conclude that we might all be brains in vats, but it would be highly arrogant and supremely self-centered to entertain the idea that I’m a brain in a vat, and everyone else is just a figment of my imagination, or a programmed mindless construct, etc., and so I reject that notion. I’m not special. I’m not the center of the universe. The world was not made for me. (Although, I suppose it would be possible to gather enough evidence to overcome that starting bias, but it would take a lot of evidence.)

  38. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, and Matt said that Matt is not claiming that the [caller’s interpretation of] the caller’s experience is wrong. I will.

    I will not deny the caller’s experience. The caller had an experience. That’s great. I’m not going to deny the memories that they have of that experience. I am going to deny the caller’s interpretation of that experience. I’m sitting on pretty good evidence that the caller has misunderstood his own experience, aka the caller is making unreasonable conclusions about his own experience. I believe that the caller’s conclusions about his own experience is wrong.

    Let me link to this beautiful blog post by Tracie that captures this point wonderfully.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2013/01/21/the-argument-from-it-just-makes-sense-to-me/

    Also, at the end, Tracie gets it exactly right. If people are occasionally yanked out of their pods and shown the real world outside The Matrix, and people here in The Matrix regularly claim this experience, you would think that their descriptions of the outside world would match up. But they don’t. Rather, with some advanced knowledge of human psychology, you can understand how these experiences happen for reasons that are entirely unrelated to being freed from The Matrix. Not all of them can be right – the stories are too wildly contradictory, but all of them can be wrong. Most of them are wrong. As soon as you understand how and why most of them are wrong, you will understand why all of them are wrong.

    It could have been different. It could have been that everyone everywhere had experiences of a particular Christian heaven in near death experiences, and within meditative prayer, etc., much more often than could be explained by local cultural conditions and chance. That would be great evidence that there is something else going on – which at a minimum deserves further investigation, but we don’t even have that.

  39. corwyn says

    Do we have evidence which is more likely on the hypothesis that we live in a reality than on the hypothesis that we are brains in a vat? Yes, I think so, even if it is slight.

    Think on the ‘Face on Mars’. Think on the Hubble ultra deep field.

  40. Thorne says

    One issue I have with the Matrix idea is that, once you make the assumption that you might be in the Matrix, there is no evidence that could be trusted to verify it. Any evidence you could come up with would automatially be suspect as being a part of the simulation. Conversely, if you assume that you are NOt in the Matrix, then you cannot find any verifiable evidence that your assumption is wrong because such evidence would instantly imply that you ARE in the Matrix and would then be suspect.

    Therefore, the default position should be, as stated above, that it doesn’t matter. Just live your life as though what you experience is real. Now, if only I could figure out how all of you figments of my imagination are so much smarter than me!

  41. Narf says

    Conversely, if you assume that you are NOt in the Matrix, then you cannot find any verifiable evidence that your assumption is wrong because such evidence would instantly imply that you ARE in the Matrix and would then be suspect.

    Or, to put it another way, what if the system administrator is just fucking with everyone?  How do you differentiate between ‘That’s the way the system was designed to appear to us,’ and ‘That’s just how things are?’

    This seems like pretty much the ultimate unfalsifiable concept, half-assed attempts to mathematically prove the likelihood of us being in a simulation, not withstanding.  If you desperately want something to be true, and you only get your reasoning checked by people who also desperately want it to be true, you’re doing peer-review wrong.

  42. says

    My bible literalist friend sent me a link. He would like me comment on it. It’s a very elaborate website with a host of conspiratorial / religious articles and videos (illuminaties, skulls & bones, bibles verses, DNA, nanotechnologies, more bible verses, lady gaga, etc…..). The problem is that the conspiratorial fantasies are so elaborate that there’s no way for me to verify every bit of information referenced in those kinds of videos. Intuitively I find even the aesthetic of the site (with it’s cool graphics) betrays it’s purely mercantile motives. But intuition doesn’t make for good arguments. Do you people have friends who continuously send you
    biblical or conspiratorial material ? How do you cope with it ?
    Side note: If the illuminaties and satan are so powerful and have such a monopoly of control over the universe, why is it so easy for everyone to discover their deepest secrets and malevolent plans for the future and to publish those highly sensitive informations on the internet for very Tom Dick & Harry to read ?

  43. Monocle Smile says

    @marc
    This is extremely blunt, but..find better friends. You don’t need that nonsense in your life. Some of us tolerate it from family members because it’s not worth causing a stir, but you aren’t obligated to remain friends with someone so silly. And this person IS silly. I mean, Lady Gaga? I’m partial to her voice, so I’m not exactly unbiased, but seriously?

  44. Narf says

    The problem is that the conspiratorial fantasies are so elaborate that there’s no way for me to verify every bit of information referenced in those kinds of videos.

    Nothing you could present him with would satisfy him, anyway.  When someone has moved into Crazy Town and sold his car, you don’t want to go visiting.  I’m sure that he thinks that Snopes.com is part of the governmental conspiracy.  I’m sure he thinks that every skeptical organization that examines these sorts of claims are either in on it or are deluded dupes.  It doesn’t matter how nakedly insane a claim is, when someone is convinced that they’re living on this sort of conspiracy planet.

    Fnord.

    Do you people have friends who continuously send you biblical or conspiratorial material ? How do you cope with it ?

    I cut contact with them.  I have one or two friends from way back, who are theists of some sort, but anyone who’s this bat-shit insane?  Nah, they’re gone.

    Side note: If the illuminaties and satan are so powerful and have such a monopoly of control over the universe, why is it so easy for everyone to discover their deepest secrets and malevolent plans for the future and to publish those highly sensitive informations on the internet for very Tom Dick & Harry to read ?

    This reminds me of one of Steve Shives’s 5 Stupid things lists, Five Stupid Things About Alex Jones.  Number 1 on the list is the key one, here.

  45. corwyn says

    @45:

    The problem is that the conspiratorial fantasies are so elaborate that there’s no way for me to verify every bit of information referenced in those kinds of videos. … How do you cope with it ?

    Have them make predictions, then make bets about whether those predictions will come about. When you have all their money, they might listen to you. Yes, I’m serious.

  46. corwyn says

    ‘That’s the way the system was designed to appear to us,’ and ‘That’s just how things are?’

    I know a lot of engineers. If someone engineered reality, I would expect some other engineer to find that out.

    Humans are really good a pattern matching and determining whether something is designed or natural. Mathematical tests which would work in reality or the matrix, with new ones being invented all the time. There is no guarantee that any particular piece of math will be invented first be reality designers rather than reality residents.

  47. Fair Witness says

    Are you all seeing the convergence here? The issue with the “matrix” hypothesis is exactly the same as the issue with the God hypothesis. Neither can be falsified, and the only way to CONFIRM one or the other is for the programmer/god to step forward and demonstrate exactly how he did it. SHOW ME THE PROGRAMMER !

  48. Robert, not Bob says

    @ Corwyn, #38
    Oh yes, the belief that an ordinary person can puncture the whole scientific establishment is very common. I’m sure it’s very ego-stroking. Most creationists, at least, seem to think scientists just sit around and make stuff up, which makes sense, since that’s the way they do it. What one person just made up, another can disprove. It’s a very lazy way of thinking, which seems to be a defining characteristic of pseudoscience in general. It never occurred to me to think he was a troll-which shows how pointless trolling religious literalists is.

  49. greenjelly01 says

    I have an analogy for “God will reveal himself if you ask sincerely”:
    Just tell the theist, I will give you $100 if you ask me for it sincerely. Then ask them if they think they have any chance of getting that $100. And if they admit they cannot get it, ask them if it is due to a fault of their own for not being sincere.

  50. Narf says

    @Fair Witness

    Neither can be falsified, and the only way to CONFIRM one or the other is for the programmer/god to step forward and demonstrate exactly how he did it. SHOW ME THE PROGRAMMER !

    And while you’re at it, please demonstrate to me that that programmer isn’t just some alien race fucking with us.  We’re going to need some seriously reality-warping effects and a demonstration of what’s outside of this simulation.

  51. Monocle Smile says

    @greenjelly01
    I’m totally doing that to the next door-to-door preacher to ring my bell.

    @corwyn
    Yeah, we’re good at pattern matching, but the “designed vs. natural” induction only works until it doesn’t. Pareidolia is a good example. There are online quizzes where you get 20 images and you have to pick whether or not the object in the image is natural or manmade…and I’ve never known anyone to get a perfect score.

  52. Will says

    I’m sorry guys, I’m new here, is there anywhere where I’m able to post or email a question which is irking me daily?

    Thanks.

  53. Patrick67 says

    @heicart: @frankstein 18: @corwyn 19: @Narf 21:

    I’m not sure how to start this post so I suppose I should just jump in. Forgive me if it seems like I start to ramble a little bit. I’m going to relate something that has been affecting my ability to get on the Atheist Experience Blog and other parts of the AE sites.

    First to corwyn and Narf, I want to congratulate both of you on your teaming up for a clever hint to frankstein. Very original.

    Second to frankstein: I personally think you were a little rude and rough on the AE team while they have been struggling to get the new studio up and running, but there is one thing you mentioned that struck a cord with me. I’m not sure if we both suffered from the same thing when trying to get to different areas of the AE site. I’ll explain it more as I go along.

    Finally to heicart: Based on replies to you on this blog I believe you are Tracie and since you are a part of AE I think you might be of most assistance in this matter. Sometime around the end of last month, I tried to get on the AEB. I don’t leave a lot of comments but I do love to read the blogs. I ran into a situation that I had never seen before. When I tried to connect to the blog, I received a message screen stating that the AEB was offline. It gave an error message and then left a graphic that showed the the intenet connection was working and was connected to a cloud server that supposedly hosts the AEB. The cloud server was working but the connection to the AEB was listed as offline.

    This happened about the time your studio changes were starting to take place so I just wrote it off to some IT downtime for some reason. It was down for two days. It seemed to return to normal late on the second day and I forgot all about it. Then about two weeks ago, I tried to connect to AEB and the same thing happened. Same error message screen. The AEB was offline again. I kept checking every day at least twice a day and it was the same thing. It was always the cloud server that hosted the blogs reported that the site was offline. Finally the server started posting saved The last Blog site screen that was posted before the shut down withe the same error message across the top of the screen. This continued for the past two weeks. I tried some of the links on some of the other AE sites that seemed to still work including the link to the donation page and most of them brought me to the same error message screen as I had been getting when I tried to connect to AEB.

    I noticed that the posts on the blog today are from August 17 and none of them have mentioned links being down except for frankstein. I am very curious about this because I checked AEB yesterday the 19th between 7am and 8am and AEB was still offline and when I checked again between 6pm and 7pm the site was up and running normally again. It appeared to come back online sometime late Wednesday morning or late Wednesday afternoon.

    It seems like this could have been a localized situation but I’m not sure what could have caused it. I was curious whether frankstein’s situation to links was like mine. I also thought I’d mention that I have noticed at least three or more persons complaining about not allowing comments for AE videos on Youtube. They have left complaints on both the AE facebook site and on the AEB itself. This whole situation that I have gone through makes me wonder if someone is trying to jerk AE’s chain and is trying to test your site on a limited basis.

    I really have no idea what has been happening. It may be something perfectly innocent, but I just wanted to give you a head’s up Tracie so the IT staff at AE can be warned if they notice anything fishy going on.

    Forgive me for going on so long. Damn guys I have missed the blogs so much over the passed two weeks. I’ve felt like I was going through withdrawal.

  54. corwyn says

    @51 Robert:

    Oh yes, the belief that an ordinary person can puncture the whole scientific establishment is very common.

    This is a bit more uncommon in my experience. The caller isn’t saying something like, ‘evolution is wrong since scientists haven’t found any missing links’, he is saying ‘evolution is wrong because scientists can’t read the periodic table that they themselves wrote down.’ Is he imagining all those scientists looking at the periodic table, seeing carbon as element 6, inventing a thing they call radioactive decay, imagining how it would work with a carbon atom, and yet somehow assigning ’14’ to the carbon by mistake? The only way I can even make it make sense in my mind, is if he thinks the periodic table is somehow ‘divine revelation’.

  55. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Patrick67
    That’s a problem with the hosting of freethoughblogs.com. Tracie won’t be able to help. For that, you might try to report the issue to the tech support link of freethoughtblogs (I think they have one – I forget where).

    And yes, it is Tracie.

  56. Shane Simpson says

    If the Christian God is All Powerful and Omniscient how come he still went forward with everything, knowing that Adam & Eve would eat the fruit, knowing that Cain will kill Abel and he (God) was going to have to slaughter everything on the planet to correct a mistake that HE KNEW ABOUT IN ADVANCE!!!!!!! – This in it’s self screams MAN MADE RELIGION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  57. Robert, not Bob says

    @57 Corwyn
    It’s common in mine. We’re just not arguing with the same kind of creationists, I guess. And I read that as a conspiracy theorist, pointing out the plot hole.

  58. Monocle Smile says

    Anyone else remember Brian from Chicago? He called a while ago…apparently he’s a pastor. I actually had hopes for him at the end of his previous call; Matt identified with him and it seemed like Brian was ready to give up his faith.

    This episode saddened me greatly. Brian learned absolutely nothing from his last call, instead choosing to double down on the nonsense and latch on to a few presuppositionalist talking points. There are fundamental issues in his reasoning processes and he doesn’t understand the nature of skepticism, nor the goals of reason in general.

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Corwyn
    Perhaps. You are right that it some subsets of the hypothesis might be testable. Suppose the world happened to be a small finite box with English scrawled on the side of the box so you can read it, which has a purported account of the creator and what it wants from you. I suppose that’s pretty good evidence for a creator-god. Consequently, I have to say that the current evidence is consistent with the proposition that the universe could have been the result of a mere random quantum fluctuation, from zero total energy, which is pretty damn close to “from nothing”, and that must cause our estimations of truth of at least some creator-gods to plummet.

    I feel uncomfortable venturing into this territory. I don’t have a strong position.

  60. says

    Re Brian from Chicago, Matt’s example of a schizophrenic was dead-on.

    My nephew was diagnosed as schizophrenic about three years ago. Much to our distress, the character of his disease is one of religious delusions — he fervently believes not only that God speaks with him on a regular basis (in fact, throughout the day, moment by moment), but that all others who claim to communicate with God, but who hear different messages, are deceived by the devil, or deceivers themselves.

    There is no way to speak with him about this, because he “knows” based on his personal experience.

    Back in January, he informed me that the world was going to end in April. I asked how he knew that and he said God had told him. I said I didn’t think it would happen, but would simply wait and see. I spoke with him in June and reminded him that he said the world would end. He confirmed that yes, it would (and it will!) But I reminded him he said it would end in April and the only thing he could say (to his credit) was, “I’m sorry I told you the wrong thing.”

    Now, I’ve learned that trying to be logical or rational with a mentally ill person is a bit silly, but I nonetheless posed this question to him: “You acknowledge that the information you said you received from God about the world ending in April was incorrect. Why do you remain so confident that everything *else* you hear from God *is* correct?”

    He’s schizophrenic. He couldn’t process this.

    We also talked about God’s message to him that all humans are unworthy and therefore deserve any suffering that comes their way (sadly, especially him). I brought up the example of a 6-year-old girl who is raped and murdered and asked if he thought she “deserved” what happened to her.

    To his credit, he actually said, “I guess I don’t see how a 6-year-old girl could be responsible for that kind of suffering.”

    In the end, the whole conversation was a mistake. He became upset and wound up a short time later in the hospital. This may or may not have happened anyway (he’d stopped taking his medications), but I harbor some guilt over the suspicion that I simply fried some of his circuits.

    Incidentally, if anyone has a good resource about how to deal with loved ones who have diagnosed religious delusions, let me know.

    Brian should know better, however.

  61. sthugar says

    @61 monocle smile:
     
    I came here to post the exact same thing!
     
    I absolutely do remember Brian From Chicago. He’s called into the show a few times, and his conversation with Matt on episode #895 ended up being one of my favorite Atheist Experience calls of all time. I completely agree with you – it really seemed like Matt had won him over by the end of that call, and it’s really disheartening to hear him call in again defending his same position.
     
    On the other hand, I do understand that letting go of religious beliefs can be a long process. Also, he’s still making calls to the show, and that shows he’s still actively thinking about it. And as you mentioned, Brian had previously mentioned that he’s a pastor – it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that played a major role in his doubling-down. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it’s hard to get a person to understand something when their paycheck is contingent on not understanding it.

  62. Tony David says

    Regarding “coming out” as an atheist and how to navigate with the child and family, there is one other option if the parents are willing to transition away from Catholicism in a more formal way. I would suggest finding a more open UUA congregation where people have many varying beliefs, including agnosticism/atheism. The open ended approach will promote an environment that encourages free thought and a broad range of perspective instead of such a harsh either/or dichotomy that the caller is assuming must exist.

  63. says

    @ Clay Bonnyman Evans; anyone interested/affected by schizophrenia.
     
    I have no personal experience with the illness, but I read this and it got me thinking about the disease. Could it be that many suffers could be helped to lesser or greater degrees by simply engaging with their voices? Could they achieve peace with their voices if they sought to engage with them as though they were real people in the external world–hopefully while learning they aren’t actually this, and building a relationship, challenging them, arguing with them?
     
    Obviously the approach requires some structure and guidance from trained professionals, but perhaps it couldn’t hurt to try.
     
    So, this biases me to suggest to Mr. Evans that he probably did not harm his nephew by engaging with him in a rational way and challenging him (or his voice) with reason.
     
    “He’s schizophrenic. He couldn’t process this.”
     
    Perhaps. Yet, I can point out that you kept on giving him credit (deservedly, IMO) for using his reason anyway. I think continuing to engage with him like any other rational person is a healthy and growth-provoking strategy. There’s no cure for schizophrenia, so one has no choice but to face it directly and try to work out a way to live with it regardless. What if the voice could be turned to a trusted friend? How would this be substantially so different from the way we non-schizophrenics conduct our own inner monologues? We know we’re talking/thinking to ourselves. For the sufferer, this may simply just feel like an outside identity who has come to live with you in your mind. I think life would be so much better if one could make that compulsory mental roommate a friend rather than an enemy or dictator.
     
    Best wishes!