Open thread for episode 22.45: Tracie and Guest Co-Host Aron Ra

Tracie is joined by guest co-host, paleontologist and atheist activist, Aron Ra.

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  1. eniveld says

    I feel like you guys could get a lot more knowledge out of Aron by cutting the callers a bit shorter, as it seems like they are repeating themselves.

  2. trumpeter832 says

    To the caller with OCD – just wanted to let you know I have been where you are – I suffered from scrupulosity (religious OCD/fear of hell) for twenty years and only became free after leaving religion. If I can help I would love to connect with you via email. You can respond to my comment and I’ll get an email and we can connect.

  3. yorkshiregeek says

    We all watch TAE for different reasons. Some want it for entertainment value of listening to the laughable arguments of theists. Some want to hear and so learn to improve their arguments for when encountering theists (online or in person).

    There is a kind of theist which uses a circular argument and it takes often for them to go around that argument twice before you can prove they are doing it. We had that today of a caller who basically said miracles are true and therefore miracles are true and never tried to actually prove it via encouraging or supporting a double-blind test of a “healer”. A good way for the theist to prove themselves true or false would be to a get a reasonably large group of people (hundreds ideally) and have 1/3rd of them meet the “healer”, 1/3rd meet someone who they were told who was a healer but was faking it (to discount placebo where you if you feel something is going to work it tends to due to positive thinking) and 1/3rd do not visit a healer, and then let this all happen and track progress. To simply say “it worked, therefore it is real” is a weak argument.

    I do find it annoying these weak arguments are allowed to go unchallenged as a lie can eventually appear true if it circulates long enough. Testing theist claims is the only way we’ll get them to either shutup so their belief dies with them or accept they are wrong and mature.

  4. Heretical Ryan says

    To Johanan (if he winds up posting on this board)

    Holy crap, dude! Why is _THIS_ level of philosophical gymnastics necessary to prove what (according many theists) should be simple and obvious?

  5. Ronald Kyle says

    The caller Traci should have read the bible a little more carefully… according to the bible (NT) there is no human relationships in Heaven and no recognition of loved ones. So her hope for being reunited with loved ones in heaven is not something that the Christian religion offers whatsoever.

  6. says

    lotsa low-hanging fruit in jon’s call, but i’ll restrict myself to one point.

    i choose to entertain only a narrow field for miracle claims, limited to events that violate known physical laws. those equating miracle claims with rare but not impossible events must explain how they distinguish so-called miracles from unlikely but otherwise statistically predictable events. without a reliable method of separating the two, miraculous “explanations” can never reasonably supplant naturalistic explanations, making debate pointless. thus far in the history of empirical inquiry, the answer to miracle claims has yet to be “verified true”. natural order prevails.

    a patient who survives a terminal prognosis of 99.99% is therefore no miracle. she’s just extremely lucky. a patient who survives a terminal prognosis of 100% (making them the first to survive) is a case some can debate. meanwhile a patient who regrows a limb, or survives a beheading, has yet to be produced …

  7. Monocle Smile says

    Fucking Johanan called again. He’s been wrong in exactly the same way for years, maybe a decade. It’s more sad than anything else.

  8. says

    @Heretical Ryan:

    Why is _THIS_ level of philosophical gymnastics necessary to prove what (according many theists) should be simple and obvious?

    existence claims must be tethered in physical reality.

    a claim for the existence of a being who is indistinguishable from a nonexistent thing cannot be tethered in physical reality.

    hence, the olympics.

  9. yorkshiregeek says

    one of the common failing of theist thinking is that they use the fact something is possible to then be they actually happen. Horses exist, animals have horns, so unicorns exist, that’s only proven with an actual unicorn. People get sometimes better, there are claims of god, so god made people better, that’s only proven with a causal proof and double blind tests.

    Only double-blind trials on a mass scale would be sufficient proof of a causal link but one would still need to prove how it worked, and as such anything real must be physical, and so supernatural can never be true.

    Miracles are therefore impossible, there are only real things we understand or real things we do not yet understand.

    If a healer were ever to be proved to work, it would be due to something we’d have to measure, e.g. does the healer and the patient have to touch each other meaning a physical connection, or do they just need to think of each other.

    I notice theists lower the level of proof to match the low level of evidence. That is the dangerous part as you can believe in practically anything.

  10. wecandobetter says

    WOW!! You know that they can not provide proof of a God when they have to pull philosophy bullshit.

    Does a God exist?
    Does he interact with our natural world?

    If God interacts with our natural world, then there should be evidence that he/she does and it would be measurable, demonstrable and fairly easy to prove. Like how gravity effects time. It is easy for us to prove.

    If God does exist but he does not interact with our natural world, then it would be indistinguishable from a God that does not exist.

    Besides if you even could prove God with philosophy (which has never been done except to those that already believe), that would not prove Their God.

    Never heard a Christian testimony that was “I was not a believer till i heard the philosophy argument.” It is always based on emotion.

    So I always consider the philosophy of God just a mind F#!k that goes no where. If they were successful, I would just say that you just proved that Zeus exists.

  11. says

    Hi y’all.
    I have been watching your show now weekly for several years and I want to thank both Tracie Harris & Aron Ra for all their hard work and dedication, it was a great pleasure seeing you both together on the show. Although, I would rather you not drink. I thank you people very much. I have never held one of these fallacious beliefs nor am I sympathetic towards them. On my mother’s side my grandfather immigrated from Sweden in 1903, they had no religion. My great Grandmother immigrated from Germany in the mid 1800’s she was documented as an atheist. On my father’s side I am a Native American.

    Anyway, I am backing up Aron Ra and his premise that Jesus is NOT Nice nor is Christianity nice. The Holy Bible defines a dictatorship. In a dictatorship the person in charge is always a god/deity whom controls every facet of your life. The dictator has the power of life or death, he can kill you on a whim or sentence you to latrine duty for life. This deity controls your knowledge of the world and what you think and believe. Some examples of dictatorships are the Dynastic Egyptians, all the Pharaohs were gods. The emperor of ancient Rome was god. Hideki Tojo the prime Minister of Japan during World War 2 was worshiped as god. Today Kim Jong-un the supreme leader of North Korea is the reincarnated deity of his grandfather, solving the problem of death. The day he was born nature held its breath as he ascended from heaven. Christianity solved the problem of death with a god that cannot be seen or killed.
    Christianity advanced to the position that it holds today due to terrorism, murder and fear. Isis is the perfect example of early Christianity. Turn off the football game and read a real history book.

    Also, I would like to advance an idea to the Atheist Community of Austin to celebrate this holiday season with lights outside on your building, with rain deer and a snowman and a tree with a star on it and whatever. I think that you should go all out for this holiday season.
    The winter solstice has been celebrated for thousands and thousands of years, dating back before any written history. We don’t really know what our ancient ancestors believed but this day was marked and special.
    Happy Akhetaten, a cleft in a hill on the horizon where the sun rises on the winter solstice in ancient Egypt.
    The rebirth of the Aten, the solar disk.
    Our shining Star
    “The Dawn of time”
    Happy new year.

  12. Varkey says

    I think some do benefit from religion, but we are better understanding how secular methods can do the same thing without baggage.

    I think prayer is a lot like meditation and asking god for things is in a way like visualising and prioritising what is important in your life (as long as you don’t leave it all to God!). Mindfulness techniques and a lot of self-help techniques are very similar, i.e. beginning and ending the day with meditation is now gaining recognition, as is starting the day with planning/visualising/affirmations. Many naturally start the day ‘badly’ eg switching on the telly, checking their phone etc but prayer (or rather meditation) may be a better way – I don’t know maybe it is just wishy-washy pseudoscience!

  13. Varkey says

    Aron Ra said at one point Jesus was not nice, can someone post a link or explain, what reasons there are for this saying this.

  14. Murat says

    Is it just me or does anyone else think the show could have been somewhat more enjoyable if the hosts didn’t drink prior to and during it? If they popped the beers way later, like, in the final quarter maybe…

  15. Varkey says

    At 1:27:29 Aron Ra says the christian concept of hell is take from Dante’s Inferno. Dante’s Inferno was written in the 14th century, I would have thought the christian concept of hell pre-dates this, I don’t really know. Maybe it was embroidered by it, again, I don’t really know

  16. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Varkey
    IIRC, if you look closely at the actual Bible, there’s very little about Hell. There’s also very little about Satan. IIRC, much of what Christians now believe about Hell and Satan are taken from non-Biblical sources and traditions. I don’t know if Aronra is right that much of today’s Christians’ belief about Hell comes from specifically Dante, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.

  17. bluestar says

    Don’t complex philosophical exercises utilized to convince one’s self of a god existing negate faith? And on the subject of hell, there are many bible scholars and Christians who don’t believe in it. A website, talks about this in great detail. Perhaps OCD Traci should visit there. When I was a Christian, I always had a hard time with the hell thing from a logical perspective. If Jesus sacrifice was for humanity why is it limited to “those who believe” only? Doesn’t god know that billions of people will be born into family and social structures that would never even know about Christianity much less practice it? Seems to be partial to the western hemisphere if you ask me.

  18. Murat says

    If there was a Hell, then the “ultimate sacrifice” attributed to Jesus / God should be reserving it to himself for eternity as a redemption for the convoluted plan he got himself and the rest of existence entangled in, while opening the gates of Heaven to every other “being”.
    Just a tormentous death won’t do.

  19. eniveld says

    Let us be clear about the purpose of apologetics: It’s a tool for Christians to defend their faith against external criticism. It’s logically and in practice not needed or used among believers, because faith alone is sufficient (and in fact, must be sufficient according to scripture) to engender belief in God.

    The only value in arguing about apologetics is playing a game I like to call “Spot the Logical Fallacy.” This is where someone (usually a Christian) argues some perspective of apologetics, and the other person then spots the logical fallacies in the apologetics. It’s a good way to practice your skills at spotting logical fallacies.

  20. favog says

    3 or 4 years ago, I watched a youtube video called “Faith is Not a Virtue”. After that, I had to see if I could find more work by this Aron Ra guy. That’s how I found “The Atheist Experience” show in the first place. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a show to watch.

  21. Varkey says

    @ eniveld
    I play the same game when I hear someone argue for guns in the USA (although I live in the UK), or against human made climate change, or for a flat Earth. They believe it because they want to, rather than logic dictating necessarily. As a consequence you hear so many simplistic reductive arguments (eg. what if someone with a gun broke into your house – without mentioning the prevalence of domestic shootings), or self-serving believing of facts or acceptance of authority.

    Hopefully this won’t prompt a kicking-off of people arguing for these things on this forum!

  22. rodney says

    I just wanted to say that when (or if, but I hope when) Traci from California comes to terms with her atheism, that she will co-host the show, she’s an absolute delight. I know these are hard beliefs to let go of, I was 40 when I finally admitted to myself that I did not believe in a god, and used the A word. My tenth anniversary was last Summer, in fact.

  23. Pony says

    It’s always interesting to me to see how new (or old) host/co-host combos work together. While generally I find Tracie to be excellent, and I admire Aron’s forthrightness, I must say that their synergy didn’t work that well for me. Both are passionate and presented interesting thoughts and arguments, but they were almost always heading down completely different streams of thought. I prefer, for example, Tracie and John Iacoletti, who work as a really effective “tag team,” building and enhancing each other’s arguments.

    That said…..

    On the faith-healing guy, a prediction: If he did ask his faith healer about data and peer reviewed research, he would be told something along lines of, “No, but I don’t have to, because I see the evidence for myself.” Also, I strongly suspect that part of the justification would be that non-believers cannot benefit from his magical powers, thus shoe-horning in the idea that one must *believe* first, then one’s eyes will be open to the evidence. Shitty and manipulative, through and through.

    The faith-healing caller gave himself away late in the call when he described himself as someone who “believes in a loving god.” The whole call could have been reduced to a few minutes had the hosts zeroed in on his starting point, and examined the idea of subjectivity and how one’s pre-existing beliefs influence how one sees the world.

    Also, while the hosts did hammer away at the *big* problem of faith healing — let’s just call it, “Why won’t God heal amputees?” — I think it would have been more useful if they’d gone about that in a more systematic, clear way.

    Finally, I disagree with Aron that there *could not* be a god that designed a universe that included the Christian notion of hell. I don’t think gods of any kind are likely, but I’ve long thought that in general, the Muslim god makes more sense than the Christian god, because at least the Muslim god makes itself very clear: Submit to me totally, because I am infinitely more powerful than you puny humans. If you do not submit, I will torture you because I am god and I make the rules. Squishy Christianity has all sorts of problems with its supposedly maximally powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god and the obvious suffering inherent in every sentient life (hello, Second Noble Truth of Buddhism … and no, I don’t believe in that religion, either).

    In other words, any entity powerful and unaccountable enough (oh, come on, don’t be so cynical; I’m not talking about the president*….) could create and treat sentient beings any way it desired.

    Aron is certainly right that the Abrahamic god cannot be described as “loving.” In that, I think Islam is more consistent.

  24. Murat says


    While generally I find Tracie to be excellent, and I admire Aron’s forthrightness, I must say that their synergy didn’t work that well for me. Both are passionate and presented interesting thoughts and arguments, but they were almost always heading down completely different streams of thought.

    This is exactly what I was blaming on the beers.

  25. plamuk says

    goddamn johannan should never be allowed past the call screener, he does this every time. his line of thought is a fucking mess

  26. keepdancingmaria says

    Tracie, please go back to cohosting once in a while. You had the most superb topics and I learned much. Because of you, I learned that the experiences I had years ago are called sleep paralysis. At the time I put it down to attacks from Satan (then later I had no idea what had happened to me, that maybe it was a manifestation of mental illness) and I also learned about polytheism in the Old Testament that we’ve just told ourselves was monotheism. I am not asking for you to always cohost, but I’d love it from time to time. I miss you.

  27. Varkey says

    @ Pony

    I think the Quran does have a “loving” and punishing deity:
    Quran, Chapter 3, Verses 31 and 32:

    Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

    Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers.

    I find both the bible and quran to be a manipulative, controlling good God, bad God routine. Which one is more a play on this, I can’t say, and don’t really care.

    I think Muslims claim the quran is more divine because it has not been translated, or is not from unknown/questionable sources or has not been pieced together from fragments or changed. I don’t see that makes much difference, they are both not shown to be divine. The quran is just more recent (so is more likely to be unchanged) and has been preserved better, so? The book of Mormon and L. Ron Hubbard’s books can claim the same, but both are the view (or manipulations/control tactics) of the authors and not divine.

  28. Varkey says

    @ Ronald Kyle
    Thanks, very interesting read (still reading it). You have to wonder how many Christians have read their bible fully, let alone with a logical, critical thinking mindset.

  29. Varkey says

    Following on from my comment @35
    ..actually, according to Leah Remini’s documentary, I think Scientology has had revisions in it text books, and followers have bought, at great cost, the latest editions many times. Nice little earner.

    But I think the book of Mormon is unchanged bar when Martin Harris lost some pages and they were re-written by Joseph Smith with ‘divine’ inspiration. Seriously, that guy was a manipulative, sexual predator – coercing teenagers to be his plural wives on penalty of damnation of themselves or others. All this and more can be found at:

    And this is an interview with the CES letter author:

  30. favog says

    I already told this story a couple of weeks ago, but I came in late and it may be that not very many people saw it, so here I go again. Because you see … I, also, have a testimonial!!!! June of 2016 I became a cancer patient. A surgeon removed one quarter of both my small and large intestine, and I followed that up with 6 months of chemo therapy that has given me neuropathy in my hands and feet (they say it’ll go away, though it could take years). Check ups for another six months or so showed no signs of cancer. Then I ran into a street preacher and decided to let him know he was full of BS. He asked me about my health and I told him I was missing a section of my gut due to cancer. He called upon Jesus to show me how powerful and loving Our Savior is, although I was a bit confused what how curing an ailment that was already gone was supposed to prove anything. Maybe he was promising to regrow the section that was removed? I dunno. Any way, the next check-up showed … a golf-ball sized tumor. As Aron and Tracie pointed out, you don’t usually hear these ones, do ya?

    So any way, I went back under the knife and it turned out the golf ball had all kinds of little friends all spread through my peritenium. And there were undoubtedly many more that were currently too small to be seen. So Jesus must’ve screwed it up big time. I was beyond the help of surgery, and chemo could now only postpone the effect of the cancer. I was told I had an average of 12 months, give or take 6, if I passed on treatment. With chemo, I had an average of 24 months, give or take 12, with cumulative deleterious effects from the combo of cancer and disease. The hospital sent me social workers to discuss end of life management. I hope the caller from today’s show has logged on and noticed what a fine job Jesus did for me.

    I am currently 13 months into that 24 +/- 12; obviously, I accepted treatment. As to how I’m doing now … well, last January, they found I was eligible for an experimental immunotherapy treatment that had been shown to be helping some people already. With the prognosis above, I was interested, and they said I could always go back to the chemo if I didn’t like it for some reason. About two months in, the big tumor had shrunk by 30 percent. Two months after that, if there was anything left, it was too small to see on a scan. My latest scan was less than a week ago, and it still seems to be gone. I feel, look, and go about my day as well as I did before I talked to that street preacher. So, Caller, there you go.

  31. Murat says


    I think Muslims claim the quran is more divine because it has not been translated, or is not from unknown/questionable sources or has not been pieced together from fragments or changed.

    Despite such well-circulated claims, it is, though.
    The Quran (Collection) is actually quite a questionable collection of pieces of text written on scrolls, rocks, tree barks, leather, bones etc. Among the hadith, which is a totally made up and secondary collection of obviously man-made stuff that the less intelligent followers of the religion fall for as kinda legit source, there are partly verified anecdotes about certain verses having been eaten by a goat that found them under the bed of Mohammed’s wife, etc. So, yeah, though the greater deal of the collection is known to be trademarked in its day as God’s word by the person accepted as God’s messenger, not all of that particular selection was preserved, nor can you be sure other pieces were never pushed in shortly after.

  32. paxoll says

    Love Aron Ra’s phylogeny videos. I always want to ask vegans to go and point to where on the branching tree of life it suddenly becomes moral to eat something.

  33. Varkey says

    @ paxoll
    I am a vegetarian and would be vegan. I don’t think any vegan would claim we do not descend form omnivores, or that it suddenly became immoral/moral. I think most do it because they feel it is a better moral choice e.g. for climate change or animal welfare. Or they do it for health or diet reasons. Also one does not have to suddenly or completely remove meat from one’s diet if one so chooses, but any difference can help (rather than all or nothing).

  34. yorkshiregeek says

    The issue of meat is one caused in recent times. In a current western society we are far richer in real terms than for 99% of our species history and so on average eat meat far more than we did, so the planetary impact is per-human on average higher and higher population compounds this to be a major problem now. So what was once was not a problem has become one.

    Also we ourselves are more distant from our food, as we move to urbanization we do are good at knowing the care of the animals. So it is easier to be amoral.

    As for the way forward it is the same root as becoming Atheist which is just think and challenge every claim, including from where you buy your food.

  35. Varkey says

    Good to hear you are doing much better.

    I think a lot (actually all) of faith healing is the placebo effect, people getting better anyway or on their own, and Texas sharpshooter fallacy thinking, all due to few proper clinical trials. If it actually worked, and was shown to work, it would be mainstream.

  36. Varkey says

    @ Murat
    Thanks for the reply, I had not heard that. My guess is most apologetics would not (choose to) believe it.

  37. Murat says

    I’m usually okay with people who seek for some kind of internal consistency within their belief systems. Alas, there are people who on the one hand accept hadith (including those giving detailed narrations of how some verses were lost / changed etc) while on the other hand acting as if the Quran was “downloaded” as a whole, compact, closed-to-discussion message. That duality, I find utterly stupid.

  38. yorkshiregeek says

    God is only 3 possible states, does not exist, is evil or is good.

    If god exists and is evil then that matches what we observe, in that god seems to say you must follow a specific set of rules but there are many different competing rules, e.g. versions of Christianity, Islam, etc. So that is consistent with evil as say one of the Christian versions of god is the real one and you were born in another Christian sect family and so through no fault of our own you went to hell. Given there are thousands of religions you almost certainly are going to hell and the true god is not doing anything to help you there. The true god would make it clear so that everyone heard the same things. So you’re going to hell if there is an evil god.

    If the god exists and is good, well that does match the evidence, but if so he’d know its hard being human, the errors of your parents, indoctrination, limited access to equal knowledge and so would not expect you to fall lucky to end up with the right beliefs. So this god would be looking at your character. As such your beliefs are not relevant, you can be an atheist and go to heaven.

    So what means is if there is a god you’re either going to hell despite your faith or or not going to hell despite your faith. That makes your faith irrelevant. So might as well assume no god and focus on being a good person and forget and ignore the god claim.

    To move up, from ignore and don’t care, to knowing there is no god is quite a challenge and few atheists get there. The difference between agnostic atheist and gnostic atheist.

    The worst possible state is to accept some specific version of god and follow its doctrines, with the thousands of gods the chance you are following someone else’s correct rules is close to nil.

  39. Phil deCube says

    Tracey, I love you as host, but I was watching this thinking “Let Aron finish a sentence.” Poor bloke was like “I…”, “D…”, “Let…”

  40. yorkshiregeek says

    I separated into good or evil as the binary choice, you could further subdivide each into good, good schizo, good unstable, evil, evil schizo, evil unstable. That’s just subdividing and you keep going, god is only schizo Mon-Sat, not Sunday….

  41. jeffh123 says

    We need to be careful when we talk a bout a consensus of scientists, because we often chastise theists for saying “it must be real because so many people believe it.” Remember the theory of continental drift developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912. His theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. It was later proved true. Just the opposite with Piltdown man. Everyone thought is was real, but later proved fake. Consensus alone is not the strength oif science. Each of these was later corrected, which is the strength of science. That’s the part we need to stress.

  42. yorkshiregeek says


    I agree. I think all faith healing is done via what the receiver is capable of doing themselves, either natural regression, natural immune response, and the mind/body interface aka placebo.

    That raises a moral question. If a theist thinks a faith healer is going to work, and so falls under placebo effect, is it morally acceptable to debunk their notions?

    In my view if the theist is following all the proven medical advice, I do not see a harm so I would be most moral to keep my mouth closed, but if I saw them due to their faith not taking proven medical advice I’d be morally obligated to say something.

    Due to this moral maze I do not explicitly seek to debug everyone’s faith that I encounter, only when it is clear it is causing harm. So for example in UK a typical church goer is doing it just in case it is true, meet people and have a bit of a sing-along and otherwise is following best medical advice, so in my mind I smile politely and leave them with a harmless delusion, but it is the folks who knock on a door and seek to weaken the mind of someone else I do speak up and debunk them.

    Is that the most moral?

  43. yorkshiregeek says

    The importance of its truth is directly related to its importance.

    If belief in plate tectonics made for a wider significant decision, I’ll be randomly extreme, say if plate tectonics is true meant we had to kill every 1/3rd child with an R in their name. I’d want to be very very sure if it was actually true.

    I agree with your point consensus is to do with confidence of currently seen as probably true. All scientific accepted claims are contingent on being open to new information undermining and so changing. So our accepted concensus are not fixed truths.

    The issue with religious truths is they are seeking to shout down new information, it is blasphemy, because the notion the truth came from a higher being defined as always knowing more than we can ever know so we can only be right it we accept it and waste our time challenging or doubting.

    So really it is not about consensus at all, but open minded to new information.

  44. yorkshiregeek says

    “The winter solstice has been celebrated for thousands and thousands of years, dating back before any written history.”

    Prove it.

    Not saying you’re wrong but you’re using a kind of statement theists use which just is an assertion.

    For example in UK there is the a stone circle which seems aligned with the winter solstice but the summer solstice is aligned just by looking in the other direction so we cannot tell which was worshipped, was it winter or was it summer? Without written evidence we cannot know, we know the sun was important, which we see in many cultures.

  45. Larry Cahoon says

    I believe the details of hell came from the Apocalypse of Peter that did not make it into the NT. You can read it in Bart Ehram’s book “Lost Scripture.”

  46. Larry Cahoon says

    #7 Ronald – different versions of Christianity read the bible differently. Many do claim that reunions with love one do happen.

  47. Varkey says

    Further to my comment no.37
    Not to labour the point, but this video at 47:23 – 52:20 better shows how Joseph Smith was a sexual predator, marrying girls as young as 14, and using coercion, and he went behind his wife’s back:

  48. Varkey says

    Further to my comment no.37
    I was wrong, the Book of Mormon has been revised, as explained at 6:36-7:45:

  49. says


    I, also, have a testimonial!!!!

    i would strongly suggest posting your story as a monologue or lecture on youtube. it makes a great counter-apologetic-slash-science-it-works-bitches promotional piece.

  50. says


    We need to be careful when we talk a bout a consensus of scientists, because we often chastise theists for saying “it must be real because so many people believe it.”

    the importance of scientific consensus is not to establish the truth of a claim (which as you point out would be a double fallacy from authority and popularity), but to establish what experts in the field can reasonably conclude from the available evidence. the consensus can be, has been and will be wrong at times, but, without extraordinary evidence to the contrary (also from field experts, not crackpots), dismissing the consensus will always be unreasonable.

  51. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Remember the theory of continental drift developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912. His theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. It was later proved true.

    This is an outlier in terms of the history. It’s very rare for a relative outsider of academia to so forcefully push for an alternative theory against strong mainstream academic resistance and to be right about it.

    Just the opposite with Piltdown man. Everyone thought is was real, but later proved fake.

    Your description is false, and Piltdown man was never accepted as genuine by academia. Strong doubts about its authenticity existed since the start.

    Consensus alone is not the strength oif science. Each of these was later corrected, which is the strength of science. That’s the part we need to stress.

    You’re half right. Part of the point of consensus is that you are not an expert, and neither am I, and it’s typically presumptuous to go against established experts. Not always, but it requires that you do the proper work, and most people don’t even know what that is.

  52. keepdancingmaria says

    Pony, you said, “Aron is certainly right that the Abrahamic god cannot be described as “loving.” In that, I think Islam is more consistent.”

    How do you not know that Islam has all the fallacies and inconsistencies of the other 2 Abrahamic faiths?

  53. eniveld says

    The best thing about scientific consensus is that it’s always provisional. Nobel prizes are granted for overturning the scientific consensus in a field. The scientific process appears to be self-correcting and is inherently Bayesian.

    Scientific consensus really means that a theory is falsifiable but has not been falsified, is uniquely and best qualified to explain our natural world, makes predictions which may be tested, and has multiple, independent sources of strong evidence to support its claims.

  54. favog says

    @aarrgghh, 60

    Nice idea, but it would require me to learn to use video and audio equipment. It would not go well. Also, once I had a youtube channel in place, I’d probably feel the compulsion to post similar monologue lectures on (1) my undoubtedly wrong hypothesis about the so-called Big Bang that makes it no longer a Bang but also explains the so-called Dark Energy. The damned thing won’t leave my brain alone so I’d love a physicist or a cosmologist to explain why it’s wrong and exorcise that demon; (2) why we need to change our voting process because the current one makes third parties nonviable (and fourth, and fifth, and …) rendering our whole political system a sham and how I start with trying a hybrid approval/single vote transfer ballot and (3) how I would have resurrected Hal Jordan and how it’s a much better story than what Geoff Johns gave us. And nobody wants to hear any of that. I know that already from real life.

  55. yorkshiregeek says


    Well said. The god of the gaps can be filled of good quality videos and never closed. It takes an army.

  56. twarren1111 says


    Reading between the lines as a medical oncologist, for most, the neuropathy indeed resolves (I’m presuming oxaliplatin)

    And yes, you’re story demonstrates how medical science works.

    Lastly, I’m presuming you are receiving an anti-PD-1 antibody. And it sounds like you are generating a T cell response. There is a significant probability you will not die of this malignancy.

  57. Murat says

    Am I alone also in having an objection to Spock being mentioned in the same breath as Obi-Wan and Gandalf with regards to “magic”?

  58. Varkey says

    Okay, I’m still talking about this. This is a possible example of how awful, sexual predatory behaviour from a “prophet”, or dodgy reverence of ones own or others power (within a dodgy religion), can enable others:

  59. RationalismRules says

    @yorkshiregeek #47

    God is only 3 possible states, does not exist, is evil or is good.

    There is another option: neutral/amoral.
    A deistic non-interventionist god would fit this.

  60. Murat says

    Are you still sticking with this “only 3 possible states” thing?
    I thought you had already expressed that “anything goes” given it exists, by accepting the possibility of infinite variations among tha latter two you had mentioned initially.
    What were you trying to get at by narrowing the infinite possibilities of an existing god to two moral states, anyway?

  61. A-Aron says

    To the faith-healing caller: I work as a PT, and when on my clinical rotations during college I had a lady come in with fibro in her shoulder/neck area. She told her MD that nothing else had worked (massage therapy, acupuncture, pain meds, reiki, and others that I forget) except for therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound has the equivalent of a steaming pile of garbage with regards to evidence for its efficacy, but this lady came in insisting on my clinical instructor performing it, so he obliged. He dusted off the ancient machine, and performed about 5 minutes on her shoulder. She came in reporting an 8/10 pain, left with a 1/10 pain with solely the ultrasound treatment, raving about how well she felt. My CI, who hadn’t used this machine before because of the lack of efficacy (also bearing in mind that the ultrasound machine was super old and not operator-friendly), realized only after the treatment had been completed that he never turned the machine on.

  62. says


    >Am I alone also in having an objection to Spock being mentioned in the same breath as Obi-Wan and Gandalf with regards to “magic”?

    If I recall the context, it was in regards to psychic abilities, such as mind reading. Spock’s character did indeed “mind read” on the show, via touch or simple proximity.

  63. says


    Nice idea, but it would require me to learn to use video and audio equipment.

    ever been on youtube? not a requirement …

    seriously, your phone’s all you need for a selfie. you could even use the built-in text-to-speech computer voice to make a narrated slideshow if you’re camera-shy. youtube’s faqs and google university are your friends.

  64. favog says

    @twarren —
    You’re right about the drug responsible for the neuropathy. As far as my current treatment, I’m on Keytruda, aka Pembrolizumab. I don’t know if that fits the other medicalese you were speaking there, but as I say, it’s already done more good for me than I was told I could expect from anything a year ago. And while my chemotherapist has said with some people it works for a while and then just kind of stops and holds things in stasis, and that could be what is happening with me, it just strikes me as unlikely that I would have such a successful and fast positive effect from the medication and just happen to have it stall right in front of the finish line. So my attitude is very hopeful.

    I also hope other folks on the thread will forgive me a moment to take some space for a digression that’s a little more personal now that I know what your profession is. My case has some context that I hadn’t shared earlier. Less than six months prior to my diagnosis, we lost my little brother to colon cancer. Shortly before he passed, my sister found out she had a melanoma. She’s doing well now, but her chemo experience was difficult and still ongoing at the time I got my diagnosis. I know it’s never good to find out you’ve got cancer, but my mindset didn’t make it any better. Nor did it make it any easier to break the news to my parents, certainly not the Father’s Day message I’d originally planned for my dad. I imagine it would’ve been bad enough for my mother to sit the expected four hours in the waiting room while I had my surgery with that backstory; it reality it was an eleven hour operation. Just under a year later, my dad’s girlfriend was found to have multiple myeloma. Obviously no one likes cancer, but in my family over the last few years we’ve really come to hate it with a passion. Conversely, we have an appreciation for anyone who has taken on the fight against cancer as their profession. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done in that effort.

  65. yorkshiregeek says

    Yes it’s like the jar of gumballs, it’s either empty or has even or odd quantities. You’re going to the point of how many is it, 1,2,3,4….

    God doesn’t exist can be subdivided into never existed or doesn’t exist now (jar was always empty or someone ate them all before you looked), god is evil (1,3,5….) , god is good (2,4,6…).

    There are only two outcomes which is ignore religious claims and be a good person. Above there are all the possible world views and why there is no atheist common world view other than not believing in any gods.

  66. favog says

    @aarrgghh —

    “your phone’s all you need” … you mean this thing on my desk with the twisty cord coming out and plugging into the wall? Like I say, electronic tech past a certain date and I don’t get along very well.

  67. Murat says

    Thanks for the reply!
    Not sure if a devout Trekker (such as Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory) would agree with considering Spock’s abilities as “magic”, though. My perception of magic is quite in line with what you guys mentioned during the show: If we do not know of any mechanism involved in a given process, if the thing just “happens”, like, out of the blue, then yes, that qualifies as magic.
    That was why Aron insisted “Magic” and “Jesus” did not differ at all in the example of someone being cured of a disease: Because in either case, the critical question of “how?” remained unanswered.
    Even in the example of Jedi masters, one could argue that there is indeed a reply to the how?, but that we were simply not provided that within the stories. Still, I agree that Obi-Wan is not far from (maybe even partly inspired by) Gandalf.
    However, though I suspect I could qualify as a legit “Trekker”, my knowledge of the ST universe suggests a Vulcan’s mental potential comes with a history of explanations, so, the how? does not hang in the air.
    When Spock is reading minds, I believe telepathy / brain waves is the connecting bridge. Is there such a thing as telepathy? Probably not, at least not in our given universe. But in the ST universe, it provides a link between the act and the result. So, it is “magic” only in the eyes of those who do not have a knowledge of Spock’s genetic background and training.
    Aron Ra has always been an eye-opening person for me, and I agree with him 90% of the time, but I think he sometimes (maybe deliberately) stretches the terminology for the purpose of making a stronger impact, which works.
    Not a big deal of course, but I was just curious if that mention within the given context had triggered a few other people 🙂

  68. says


    you mean this thing on my desk with the twisty cord coming out and plugging into the wall?

    heh. was thinking more like the gadget you’re using to post comments. still, you must know at least one aspiring videoblogger who’d strap you down at the mere suggestion of such a project, just to be the person to produce it for you (like my 11yo niece for example). holiday gatherings are upon us. float the idea.

  69. says


    it is “magic” only in the eyes of those who do not have a knowledge of Spock’s genetic background and training.

    i gotta side with tracie on this, ’cause in-story “explanations” can’t count as explanations if they don’t explain real phenomena or real beings, or defy known science. ergo…

    spock’s mind melds: magic.
    emmet brown’s flux capacitor: magic.
    superman’s powers: magic.
    etc, etc …

  70. Dr. S says

    A lot of medical conditions have a psychological component. The disorder that the caller said his wife suffered from, PTSD and fibromyalgia, have very strong psychological components. I have found, subjectively, that when patients with these kinds of disorder seek treatment, they will often do better with treatments they believe in, and if they improve they certainly attribute the improvement to the favored treatment. That could be a faith-based intervention, an alternative medicine treatment or even a legitimate medical treatment.
    A study of fibromyalgia from a major medical center specializing in its treatment found that over a 10-year period, about a third of their patients improved, a third got worse, and a third did not change. Thus, a substantial portion of FMS patients improve, and those who improve are likely to attribute their improvement to whatever they belive in most, no matter what the real ‘treatment’ was.

  71. Murat says

    Then, the communication gadgets seen in Star Trek were, back in the day the show was first aired, “magic tools”.
    And now we call them “outdated mobile phones”.
    Yes, Clarke’s Third Law suggests that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” but why stick with the word “magic” even when the context (or the narrator) makes it clear for us that what is in question is not wizardry but “advanced technology”, meaning, something a reasonable explanation is attributed to?
    Broadening the limits of the word to that extent would lead us to classify Jules Verne not as a pioneer of scince-fiction, but as a mere fantasy writer for his age. Debatable, for sure. Just saying.

  72. says


    but why stick with the word “magic” even when the context (or the narrator) makes it clear for us that what is in question is not wizardry but “advanced technology”, meaning, something a reasonable explanation is attributed to?

    i agree with clarke, but until such time, and not before, that a fictional technology is proven by real scientific advancements, there’s just no reasonable justification to label it as anything other than “magic”. i’m reminded of this famous cartoon.

    only time and investigation will tell us whether the label sticks.

  73. twarren1111 says

    Thanks for sharing! Yes, indeed, the antibody you mention is something called an anti-PD-1 antibody. It is fascinating. I did quite a bit of immunological basic research in oncology prior to perishing (as I did not get a good enough grant). It was in 2005 that this molecule was first described (programmed cell death-1 receptor aka PD-1 and it’s ligand (aka as PD-1 ligand)) we’re first described on what are termed antigen presenting cells. It was also the first time we could order reagents to test how this newly discovered protein on APCs and T cells worked in mouse models.

    Soon thereafter it was found this protein/ligand system was also expressed on cancer cells! And lo and behold, what was soon found is that using antibodies to block the PD-1 receptor on cancer cells and thus preventing both APCs and T cells interacting as well led to a potent T cell response.

    The metaphor I used with patients was this: think of the cancer cell sitting there being covered by a cloak of invisibility. This antibody (and Keytruda was the first on the market in 2014) then comes floating by. As it binds to the cancer cells cloak, it’s effect is to make the cancer cell visible to the APC and the T cell. But that’s not all! The effect on the APC is to enhance that cells ability to gobble up the now visible cancer cell. AND GET THIS! The same freaking antibody also enables the CD8 T cell to be activated by the APC to kill the cancer cell.

    The subtlety is this: the antibody is teaching the immune system to fish. It is teaching the T cell to recognize the cancer as foreign. In other words, it is breaking tolerance. Remember, cancer comes from you. And T cells, being the most evolved part of our immune system, are not only the best for killing cells infected with viruses but also tell self from non self. So, what Keytruda is doing is creating an immune response to your cancer like it was infected with a virus. And thus leads to memory.

    In addition, B cells often get activated too. These are weaker and a step before T cells in evolution. They make antibodies. So yes, Keytruda is an antibody that bridges innate immunity (APCs) to cellular immunity (T cells) while also activating humoral immunity (you making new antibodies against the now recognized as ‘bad’ cancer).

    Thus, from 2005 it took until only 2014 to have this antibody approved for melanoma. There’s reasons they tested in melanoma first but it works in most cancers. Indeed, remember Jimmy Carter presented with melanoma in his brain and liver in 2014. Keytruda appears to have cured him via immunization.

    Lastly, though melanoma may be unrelated, having a first degree relative diagnosed with a GI cancer warrants you and your son and the family member with melanoma being seen by an oncology genetics counselor. Indeed, you should have already seen one. Your family could have any number of inherited genetic predispositions for cancer. While it won’t change your life, it could save the life of many of your other family members.

    The difficulty with fibromyalgia is that it is not well defined. We don’t really know what it is. The best evidence is that it us fundamentally a psychiatric disorder that leads to poor sleep. This leads to myofascial pain. Hence why lyrica works (though not well). I still wouldn’t dismiss that the turned off US machine didn’t work. Why? Bc the therapeutic benefit may have been the MASSAGE. Your CI may not have turned the machine on, but they probably put on lubricant, right? And then they rubbed. Right? And it worked, as you said. Thus, the evidence could support the hypothesis that the therapeutic benefit from US is NOT the sound but IS the massage.

    Plus, if you learn you won the powerball and I slammed your big toe with a sledge hammer, you might not even notice I crushed your toe. But if as you get out of your car after getting in an accident I run up and slam your toe I think it will hurt much more than if you’d just won the lottery.

    There’s a reason you puke or pass out or get the runs the first time you public speak. The mind-body is powerful. It should be right.

    That’s the beauty of science based determination of reality as opposed to faith based.

    If you understand everything is hypothesis times evidence, and that things are not binary but quaternary above the quantum level due to a self referential middle (ie, it’s never true vs not true but true positive/false positive/true negative/false negative) and you ALWAYS have to obey Bayes Theorem, well, then, you’re that much more likely to not miss things.

    I never faced making a serious medical error. Why? Bc every single freaking time I got any new piece of evidence I assumed and examined and tried my best to find where I was wrong. I had too. My ADD (thx for noticing @monocle smile) is so severe that I have to have EVERYTHING work. From buying something and noticing an oddity with the cashier to treating cancer to ten to the minus 43 seconds from the Big Bang) bc I cant remember feces. So I can not tolerate lies or deception. I have to have reality bc I can’t remember anything.

    And thus my intuition after such analytic training, esp now that I’m in my 50s, means I ‘feel’ immediately when things don’t correlate via Bayes. I feel when the ratio is wrong. I require rationality. And that is the curse and blessing of my degree and type of ADD.

  74. twarren1111 says

    To clarify, bc in my excitement I skipped several steps in executive function in my frontal lobes and expected you to read my mind, the point I was making is paying attention, LISTENING, and TOUCHING is powerful. Fibromyalgia is often overweight women, peri to post menopausal, with big time stressful lives. So your instructor did what?

    The instructor LISTENED to the woman. Your instructor then (therapeutically ie clinically) TOUCHED the patient. And the touch was SOOTHING. The touch was MASSAGING. And what was massaged? The BILATERAL FASCIAL REGIONS associated with the pain.

    And when I say fibromyalgia may be primarily a psychiatric disorder what I am meaning is 1. Stress leads to sleep disturbance. 2. Losing estrogen: talk to these women. What do their symptoms sound like as their brains lose estrogen? ADD! And what’s a great, indeed the first, treatment for ADD? 8 hours sleep per night.

    But these pts get into a vicious cycle. They don’t sleep which worsens anxiety. Which worsens sleep. Which worsens and so on. They are often losing estrogen. They often are obese. They are often ‘not believed’. And so it goes.

    So why does lyrica work? Why is lyrica still the only fda approved treatment for fibromyalgia? Where we really see lyrica work is with neuropathy like in diabetes or with chemo (like I bet @favog is on lyrica, duloxetine and/or neurontin). So why is duloxetine and neurontin so effective in fibromyalgia? Or rather, why are they tried? Theur effectiveness depends. Eg if the patient is having severe estrogen deficiency symptoms and poor sleep and has developed anxiety/depression, the doctor may likely Rx duloxetine first (it’s in the Prozac family) bc it is the drug that helps well with hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, depression AND neuropathy. Thus, the described sufferer from fibromyalgia may find duloxetine a miracle. @favog may be rxed duloxetine solely bc it is so effective against neuropathy that is sensory and drug induced. It doesn’t matter he’s not anxious or depressed and is sleeping well without hot flashes.

    And lastly, I wasn’t saying I was some great doctor who never made a mistake. I made mistakes every time I saw a patient. But with rigorous scientific based process to determine reality, it was ME who usually caught my mistake first. Why? Bc every time I git a new piece of data, Bayes theorem reared it’s head. And if my evidence was good but my it didn’t substantiate my hypothesis then I had to change my hypothesis. Conversely, if my hypothesis couldn’t be defeated then it meant my evidence was somehow ‘wrong’. And so it went.

    And to finish. I did my undergrad degree in biology. Bc I was able to for reasons I won’t go into here, able to not need to take most non science courses, I took a plethora of graduate level biology courses: comparative vertebrate anatomy, immunology, determinative bacteriology, microbiology, embryology, animal physiology, histology, botany, biology, zoology, genetics, biochemistry, physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, virology, biostatistics, pharmacology, human anatomy, neuroscience, human physiology, all before I started medical school, I realized later in life that I had an excellent evolutionary biology based education. I knew I was going to become a medical oncologist in 9th grade.

    My point is this: your videos on evolution are just outstanding. I just love them. Here I am discovering your videos 25 years after I obtained my undergrad BS in biology and boy did you just fill in all these blanks for me. The HOURS of prep time you had to have spent for each video just floors me. And as a recovering southern baptist, which is like a recovering catholic but just with a lot less guilt, your foundational falsehoods of creationism are just as powerful as your in depth run down on phylogeny.

    With all that being said, I still like Tracie!!!! more than you.

  75. twarren1111 says

    Oh I forgot this too: your video series deserves an honorary degree in biology! I’m serious. Indeed…I wonder if PZ Myers could help….hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Perhaps the atheist community should think about flooding Dr Myers with some letters!!

  76. Greg Weiss says

    I wanted to make a point that I don’t see anyone addressing. I think that Aron and Tracie may be a bit misinformed regarding color. That’s ok! It’s a really interesting subject – but our best evidence suggests that color truly is all in the brain.

    We’ve evolved to synthesize the information we are receiving from our environment into meaningful cues, and color seems to be very much one of those ways our brain interprets and synthesizes the information it is receiving – but it is not just based on the physical characteristics of the wavelength light that is falling on the eyes. For instance, this well-known optical

    It’s an example of the phenomenon of ‘color constancy’ – the brain uses the surrounding information to determine what it is seeing, and interprets it all together. It’s a very useful and impressive skill that nonetheless can be ‘hacked’ when understood. Who remembers arguing about “The Dress”? Same phenomenon.

    Now I want to make it expressly clear that nowhere am I implying that there’s anything supernatural happening here. It’s not really qualitatively any different than the fact that videos are merely an ordered arrangement of still frames that, when projected past a certain framerate, give us the illusion of motion. Fundamentally, we’re talking about data processing, and there’s no non-physical ‘essence’ to any of this from my perspective. It’s just interpretation and interpolation. Calling it nonphysical would imply that databases and websites are similarly supernatural in nature because they are capable of changing a set of ordered electrical charges into information that we can interpret.

    Anyway, thought you’d like to know. Keep up the great work!

  77. paxoll says

    Twarren1111, I am not sure A-Aron is Aron Ra. Might be since the names are very similar but I’m guessing its just someone using a Key an Peele comedy skit for their name.

  78. twarren1111 says

    I hope not paxoll. I rejected that hypothesis based upon Tracie!!!!’s response immediately afterward. Her response is highly cw the idea that’s Aron Ra. What’s nice is none of what I said is wasted if A-Aron is NOT Aron-Ra bc everything I said in direct response to his contributions, and subsequently to @favog and the eventually to @monocle smile are still just as valid. What is not valid is only my claim that A-Aron merits an honorary degree in biology. But, Aron-Ra’s achievements on his YouTube channel are not in any way diminished if I am not talking to whom I think I am. Indeed, nothing escapes the validity based upon the evidence that Aron Ra merits an honorary BS in Biology.

    So….no wasted time or energy…all of us benefitted…even monocle smile though he is loathe to admit his increase in understanding, but ultimately I feel to have benefitted the most.

    Why? Dr means teacher. That’s it. All I did was teach pts to the best of my ability such that they could make the best decisions for themselves.

    And in the end, all I have to offer is kindness and intelligence. My humanity. My empathy. My love. And if ever it is meant to happen, well, the only way anyone has any chance to partner long term with Tracie!!!! Is with all those qualities in spades.

    Yes, monocle smile, she is all that. Just ask Matt. She is Mother Nature. She is woman. She is human. She is rational.

  79. indianajones says

    @Murat Yes the tablets in ST are now outdated mobile phones. But as you point out with the AC Clarke thing, they were magic back then. Also, this is a classic sharp shooter fallacy. Many other techs in ST are even now just as magic as anything Gandalf et al are doing. Replicators, transports and warp drive. Just for instance. That one ‘seen as magic back then’ thing in ST actually came about does not make the rest of it less magic.

    There’s not much in ST that could not be transposed to medieval myth type conjuring with a mere change in terminology. Hell there are Voyager episodes where this theme is explored explicitly in the holo deck.

    And no I do NOT want to nit pick about the fevered imaginings of the wild speculations of fringe theoretical physicists after smoking a joint or 5. We are nowhere near faster than light warp drive.

  80. Murat says

    What I was getting at was, do you consider ST under the same genre as LORT or GOT?
    I do not, nor do the bulk of fans, because the points of reference to “unexplained” stuff going on in LOTR or GOT is some sort of supernatural, whereas ST introduces itself as a “projection” into (a) future. They lean on totally different kinds of walls. SW qualifies as both, passes as “sci-fi / fantasy”, or more ambiguously as a “space opera”, because it borrows from both sources of imagination.
    If we take this path as a means of broadening the usage of a word, then, for AI is still not as advanced as seen in Kubricks’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’d have to push it under “fantasy” for “magic” is involved in that one as well.
    This would eventually take us to the same lingual perception with those who say “God is universe, universe is love, love is everything and everything is God!”
    Aron Ra does this with a bunch of key phrases that also include “conspiracy theory”, and I gotta give it to him that it really does create the desired effect initially, helps him make the point, but is likely to open a whole different can of worms if taken not colloquially but seriously.
    My general preference is to call a grapefruit a “grapefruit” (and not an “orange” simply for in the end it is “just another kind of orange”). Yeah, they’re both under “citrus” along with “lemon”, but have different and more explanatory names already available for use.

  81. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @twarren1111 #89

    I still like Tracie!!!! more than you.

    @twarren1111 #92

    And in the end, all I have to offer is kindness and intelligence. My humanity. My empathy. My love. And if ever it is meant to happen, well, the only way anyone has any chance to partner long term with Tracie!!!! Is with all those qualities in spades.
    Yes, monocle smile, she is all that. Just ask Matt. She is Mother Nature. She is woman. She is human. She is rational.

    Tracie, like all the other hosts, is here to do a job. She keeps her private life private and is weirded out by celebrity attention. She’s not here to be the love interest of creepy fans who shout exclamation marks at her every episode.
    You’ve equated waste with immorality. Your efforts are wasted on this and, in fact, antithetical to the outcome you want. Desist and move on.
    Comment: Axp 871 – heicart #22

    on the air, I am far more lenient than in the e-mails we get. On the show, I just tend to make light or let it slide off just to keep things moving. But in e-mail, I generally don’t even reply to those types of letters. And on the RARE occasion they get more graphic, I might send someone a “don’t ever contact me again” note just to cover my bases, so they know to never contact me – because that’s just weird.
    To be fair, someone wrote to us once to ask Matt to marry them–so it’s not just the female hosts.
    I’m sorry it led to bans, but it can degenerate very quickly, I’m sure, once that line has been crossed. I might have better responded to the call with something like “I’m married, but if I weren’t, I’d totally accept a proposal from a stranger over the phone!” That would have been both humorous, and also have gotten the point across as to how odd it was.

  82. says

    This is for the caller Traci.

    The christian idea of heaven, while it sounds great on the surface, is actually pretty horrific. You’d be reunited with your loved ones, but only those who were also “saved”. All the others would be consigned to eternal torment. And would you have to spend eternity knowing that people you love were being tortured? Would you be able to be sad about it? If you didn’t remember them, or didn’t have the capacity to be sad in heaven, then it means that a piece of who you are was removed from you. You would have become a praise-singing robot, not your current self. And if you did know they were being tortured, with nothing that you could do about it, and you retained your capacity for love and for grief, then you would be trapped forever, singing hymns of praise to the tyrant who came up with this system. Hitch called it a “celestial North Korea” and I think he’s right.

    It’s possible to keep a belief that there may be some sort of afterlife, while giving up the christian notions of heaven/hell. Many other religions have better afterlife beliefs. There’s no reason to think that the christians are correct in theirs.

  83. Murat says

    @Ubi Dubium
    Matt Dillahunty establishes this problem well with the example of him and his mother having to be separated. “If Heaven is meant to provide happiness, then the person there can not be my ‘saved’ mother for I know she can never be happy knowing her son is in Hell. So, either Heaven will not be a happy place, or, it will not be my true mother but just a facsimile of hers.”
    Something along these lines. You can find him talking about this in some of the clips from the show.

  84. Varkey says

    @Murat, comment 47
    I think people assign a hierarchy. Like LDS believe in the bible and Book of Mormon, but when they contradict they feel like the Book of Mormon is a correction.

    I think people who believe in the quran and hadith would also assign a hierarchy, with the quran being the ultimate level when any contradiction occurs, or they may play mental gymnastics to refute any contradiction.

  85. Murat says

    Yeah, but the problem runs deeper in the case of the hadith because they have pooped up in the following centuries in the format of folk tales, scams and sexual or political manipulation, and then incorporated into the religion. Regardless of the Quran’s origins and content, Islam was practically hijacke by the hadith. There’s a hadith that literally narrates how Mohammed did not want his final words to be written down in order to prevent any of his (personal) statements getting mixed up with the verses that were somehow noted. This is exactly like filming on the street a celebrity who is asking not to be filmed and then putting it on YouTube as kind of a twisted fan activity. Through the ocean of the hadith, Muslims even adopted the Christian perception of the messenger being the son of God, erased the authenticity of the religion.

  86. Charles Ross says

    To the 1st caller:

    I believe that I understand your argument, and that it has a subtle error.
    First, let me try to sum up your argument briefly as I understand it:

    – Assume we have an argument that goes like this:
    – [Some set of premises with terms A B and C] therefore [objective reality]
    – Because [hard solipsism], A B and C must be 1st person subjective observations (“in your mind”).
    – You cannot introduce new terms in the conclusion that do not exist in the premises, so reality must be expressed in terms of A B and C.
    – Therefore “objective reality” must also be expressed in terms that are 1st person subjective (“in someone’s mind”).

    From this, you conclude that reality is “in a mind” or “is a mind” or has some “mind-ish-ness” to it.
    Is that more or less right?

    I believe you are confusing “objective reality” with “a proof of objective reality”.
    #1: “In order for objective reality to exist, reality would have to be in a mind”
    #2: “In order for a PROOF OF objective reality to exist, reality would have to be in a mind”
    I believe you are concluding #1, but should be concluding #2.

    Further, given that “objective” and “in a mind” are incompatible, I think what you really have here is a reductio ad absurdum argument showing that a proof of the existence of objective reality from subjective premises cannot exist. I.e., you just reinvented the problem of hard solipsism… which is not super surprising, because hard solipsism was one of your premises.

    I believe that the argument (properly stated) , boils down to “solipsism because solipsism”.

    Another way to think about it is that your argument includes “An argument for objective reality exists” as one of its premises… and that premise is false.

    (To the moderator: I’m sorry, I submitted an earlier version of this that used angled brackets instead of square brackets, and they did not format correctly, if you have the ability to kill that one, and approve this one instead, that would probably be best)

  87. indianajones says

    @Murat. Of course they are different genres, but as far as the magic postulated vs the tech postulated, they are in fact indistinguishable. They are so indistinguishable as to be synonymous. And just as silly.

    Take, for instance, Gandalf trying to open the door to the Mines of Moria. ‘Speak friend and enter’. Someone says friend in Elvish after Gandalf tries everything else and et voila the door opens. Is this so very different to Janeway wrestling with whatever it is before 7 of 9 swoops in with a ‘Borg Algorithm ™’ (I HATED that over used plot device) and solves the problem? No current real world even speculative earth tech in either of those cases, might as well call both of ’em magic. Or just as easily call ’em both alien tech. Still synonymous, still indistinguishable, still fun and still super silly in either case.

  88. Murat says


    Of course they are different genres, but as far as the magic postulated vs the tech postulated, they are in fact indistinguishable. They are so indistinguishable as to be synonymous. And just as silly.

    That’s where I severely disagree. I myself am a writer and have done quite a lot of stuff for various genres. Even from personal experience, I can state that the burden is very different when you are “making up” something which is “not magic”. Yes, you are still “making up” stuff. But you have to pursue consistency both within the story and with what the bulk of science currently has on the table. Even if you will be referring to an unexisting means to make the mechanism of the story work, you will have to reason with the reader in a way that will not disregard their existing perception of reality. Sci-Fi is a harder platform to entertain the audience while providing something fresh.
    To make it simple, let’s stick to the example of Jules Verne: Most of the thought process involved in his effort behind From the Earth to the Moon is of the same kind that scientists actually put in for actual visits to the Moon. He did not at any point say “and they somehow dealt with the gravity to leave the atmosphere”. No. “Verne describes a journey to our planet’s satellite aboard a bullet fired from a giant cannon.” Why? Because he did have on mind the actual problem with the launch, and what he places there as a method is not inconsistent with how it later got solved actually. And he proposed this while relating to the his readers through entertainment.
    Why did he not suggest a giant balloon, like the one he was going to use for Around the World in 80 Days? Because he reasoned out there just had to be an initial blast, that the kind of flight from the earth to its satellite was bound to be way more different than one between two points of the earth. For today’s people, that’s a “given”. For his age, it was mind-opening.
    Imagination is a very special process with quite a lot of diversity within itself. There are different ways to imagine stuff. You can imagine something like John Lennon has, wishfully, in a simple and optimistic manner. Or, you can narrow the means down to where they will be likely to meet with the actual way things are. In which case, you will have to fill in most of the blanks, and provide reasonable answers to various how?s that wil pop up along the way.
    Kinds of imagination are valuable and functional in different ways.
    The cartoon you previously provided a link to is brilliant. But it is not brilliant only in the sense that it shows the crucial difference between actual science and mumbo-jumbo. It also shows how good writing differs from bad writing. There is some sort of mechanism behind any work of fiction. Had Verne just skipped the burden of dealing with the problem of “how to leave the earth” and then imagined what was going to take place on the moon, that would be lazy and irresponsible, and we problably would not even know of his name today.
    Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
    Aron Ra makes a good point in not mistaking fiction for reality BUT this should in no way be understood as imagination not to be of crucial value to pioneering scientific progress: Imagination comes first, hence, fiction, especially the mind-opening kind, is highly relevant with understanding and shaping our actual reality.

  89. TxSkeptic says

    Johanan was certainly following the advise of W.C. Fields — “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

  90. says


    I just read your initial comment about the testimonial. Thank you for sharing. That had to have been incredibly stressful. Just reading it, I was upset to hear your cancer came back. I hope you will continue to progress, however. I’d like to have you posting here for a long time to come.

  91. leontiev says

    Regarding the doc who turned faith healer. It would be interesting to see his tax returns. I’d bet he’s doing just as well or better. And guess what – no insurance forms to fill out, no cash flow problems waiting for Medicare payments, no cludgy computer to fight with, no staff to pay, no equipment to maintain. And no malpractice insurance to pay or lawsuits to suffer through. Just easy money flowing in. Praise God.

  92. Murat says

    On a Christian TV channel, I just came across the most ridiculous “documentary” on the birth of Jesus. Still watching it and can hardly believe the people involved are not messing with their audience. They explain stuff (like, how so many people could stay the night in that small village) with references to modern day tourist attractions, credit cards, difficulty to find hotels etc. The professor told in detail how certain stars got in line on that particular night, cited studies of Kepler, and then went “Of course I personally do not believe in astrology, but let’s note that people at the time did and for God knew they did, obviously he has used it to attract attention to what is happening.”
    What kind of a logic is that??? This is you not believing in astrology???
    Amazing series, will try to find it online and watch other episodes for entertainment purposes.

  93. RationalismRules says

    @Greg Weiss #92

    our best evidence suggests that color truly is all in the brain

    By the same argument faces are also ‘all in our brain’, and this is demonstrated by the cognitive processing error of pareidolia. In fact, everything is ‘all in our brain’.

    Different wavelengths of light are a measurable fact of the natural world, and color is the label we give to those different wavelengths. Both Tracie and Aron made this point.

  94. indianajones says

    Ok Murat, point taken, skiffy can and often does predict specific technologies in a non magical way at times. The JV examples given are good ones that demonstrate that point quite well. I think we may be talking at cross purposes here just a little though.

    There are things in a lot of popular skiffy that are not only not possible now, but not possible ever. FTL travel is the classic example, perpetual motion leaps to mind, and so on. And that isn’t just ‘well not yet anyway, but who knows?’ type hubris. Stuff that butts up against the actual fabric of the laws of physics. We can conceive of calculations so large, just for example,that cannot and will not ever be solvable. Things we know have an answer in the literal form of an actual number I could write down on a sheet of paper with a pen, and yet we will never ever know no matter how far 17 generations after quantum computing looks like Og drawing lines in the sand to count her arrow heads stuff. We know this to be true, in that instance, because we can just add a few orders of magnitude into the calculation easily and can repeat as necessary.

    And that is what I (your mileage may vary of course) mean when I agree with the AC Clarke quote. A lot of popular skiffy is neither more nor less magic than Gandalf yelling at doors, no matter what the audience is reading or expects from your story. Just different and that, in many cases, only trivially so.

  95. yorkshiregeek says

    It’s hard being a human, just enough intelligence to observe and not quite enough to understand it all. A rock or a tree is atheist far easier than a human.

    The line to draw is it’s ok to guess an answer but don’t tell someone else how to live based on that guess. And a guess which many people share isn’t a proxy for truth. Hence I agree with the church state separation.

    I’d be far more comfortable with religious beliefs if they just shut up rather than indoctrinate anyone gullible in earshot such as their children. It’s that proselytism what someone made up is what grates. Enough already.

  96. Theisntist says


    It took me a minute to figure out what you mean by skiffy, I actually googled it and came up with “Slipped capital femoral epiphysis”, but doubt that was your meaning. A second reading and I realized you meant sci-fi, which gave me a chuckle! I’m curious if you meant to write that or it was an autocorrect thing.

    Anyway, I agree with your point, a lot of ‘skiffy’ isn’t meant to be scientifically possible, but rather a literary device to illuminate the human condition. Even in Star Trek, the ‘beam me up’ technology was used to save money on getting the crew around without more expensive effects. Even if future 3D printers could remotely create an exact replica of a human there is no way it could transfer their memories and thoughts as well (plus, there would now be 2 of them!). But as a viewer, that detail didn’t detract from the show, it was just a cool way to get around!

  97. Andre'a says

    As much as I love philosophy, Jonathan’s call is the reason that people argue it is a dying subject. While there are still some very important questions that we can discuss using philosophy, why would we use it to determine the existence of something in the natural world? Also, the over complication of language is something that seems to be so prevalent now with the rise of pseudo-intellectuals like Jordan Peterson. Why do we need to dump the entire Oxford Dictionary on the table to ask the question, “how do we know there is an objective world?” He spent 20 minutes going around and around (I assume trying to show off how much he knows), while never getting to the point of the call. Almost put me to sleep.

  98. indianajones says

    @Theisntist. The skiffy thing is quite deliberate I assure you. I am told it is short hand amongst authors but who knows?

  99. Celeste Grainger says

    Even though Johanan was long-winded, I think I know where he may of been going with his argument…

    He didn’t get far enough to be sure where he was going with it – But I do smell 17th Cent rationalism. We did not get past Descartes, but I think we were headed for Leibniz. I am curious, as well as much more into philosophy than Aron Ra.
    Well done Tracie for trying to move the argument on, alas… if it was headed where I think it might have been then we would have needed hours to reach any sort of conclusion. Wrong format for such a complex contention. Hosts did give him fair go, Matt would have hung up as soon as the S word (Solipsism) was mentioned.

    I do hope Johanan writes on this blog and finishes his argument, because unlike some people I am interested and like this sort of discussion. He said that the Principle of Sufficient Reason was involved, furthermore that he was going to argue for a kind of objective idealism in which everything is made up of micro-minds (think that’s what he said). This brain breaking content sounds a lot like Leibniz’s metaphysics – which is pretty wacky stuff. Leibniz and Descartes are both Christian philosophers, however, in their defense, it was dangerous not to be in those times.

  100. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Celeste Grainger #118:
    “What if everything were made of tiny minds?”
    “Do you want monads?
    Because this is how you get monads!”

  101. Celeste Grainger says

    Yep.True Sky Captain.
    Monads are tiny minds according to Leibniz.
    Even a grain of sand is but a cluster of monads!

  102. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Murat #121:

    Monads are atoms in the lingo of philosophy, right?

    Been a few years since I last heard the podcast below. IIRC…
    Monads are not atoms. Atoms are monads. Electrons are monads. You are a monad. There’s a monad for every possible past and future noun that could be labeled. There’s a monad for every part, and a monad for every conceivable grouping of parts, at every level.
    Monads are inert. They don’t react with anything else. They’re each endowed with a sequence of pre-established sensations at the beginning of the universe, and they passively play through it… as if they were reacting to outside stimuli. It’s a multitude of solipsisms.
    Monads are not created or destroyed. A monad’s disposition shifts over time as it is programmed to think it becomes other things. An ice cube mind might later think it’s a human.
    The universe is a monad. God is a monad, too. An ontology with a single type of constituent.
    Podcast: PartiallyExaminedLife – Leibniz’s Monadology (1:39:03)

    like atoms except nothing at all like atoms, because they’re alive, and mindful, and eternal, and windowless, placed in the best kind of harmony at the beginning of time by God.

  103. twarren1111 says

    #98 @compulsory account, skycaptain

    Thank you for the check on my behavior. You are correct. I was more than creepy. I also appreciate you specifically pointing out the irrationality I was in, i.e., I was wasting time and energy in how I was relating subjects that did not relate at all.

    Thank you again.

  104. Murat says

    @Sky Captain
    Thank you.
    Reminds me of the usage of the word “smurf” in the very initial adventures of The Smurfs. I’m not sure if they are keeping on with this, but it served both as a noun and a verb, and at times described things other than the defined, physical, blue, harmonious Smurfs.
    It must have more solid grounds of usage within the context Leibniz detailed in his work, but like most other philosphical terms, sounds weak at first within other, more daily contexts.

  105. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Myself #98:

    You’ve equated waste with immorality. Your efforts are wasted on this and, in fact, antithetical to the outcome you want.

    @twarren1111 #123:

    I was wasting time and energy in how I was relating subjects that did not relate at all.

    I meant you were wasting time and energy being creepy. For added personal impact, I referenced your stated model of immorality.
    That you no longer desire to write walls of text promoting that model is an unexpected bonus. 🙂

  106. says

    Going back to the earlier chat about types of gods (non-existing, good, evil, schizo) there is also “disinterested”. That god created the universe to play a game of Sim-BlackHole and we just happen to be in the sim but of no interest to god at all.

  107. dontpanicdent says

    @Varkey (Comment 38)

    Thank you for the thoughtful link for the CES Letter story. It was the best 2 hours I’ve spent today. Jeremy’s story was inspirational and provided proof that there are still some genuine and thinking people out there. The support he got at the end was so moving.

    To think…. his church INVITED him to pose his questions…. then, they used those questions to accuse him of promoting anti-Mormanism! I wish someone would’ve said it just that way on the video when he was asked about his upcoming excommunication and his defense.

    It all smells like entrapment, if you ask me. To treat a member in such a way when they’re genuinely trying to remain a believer…. Sheesh! Guess they didn’t understand or believe his motivations. I’ll grant that 80 pages of questions is a little much, but the church could’ve attempted to answer critical questions and awaited/gauged his response. Both parties could’ve benefited so much by handling this differently.

  108. dontpanicdent says

    @ favog (Comment 39)

    I came a little late to this one, too. (Saved it because of Aron Ra, but never got around to it.) Apt testimonial! Never thought to hear one like that, for sure.

    Glad to hear you’re recovering favorably. The human spirit just cannot be denied sometimes! Continued health!

    Wish you could’ve gone back to that invasive preacher-man and told your story. Probably best not to since he was so arrogant and “handsy,” though.

    Hope his laying-on-of-the-hands and his praying was just coincidental that the cancer came back. If not, then he was praying maliciously, eh? Can’t imagine that, no matter how permissive he was, but who the hell knows these days.

    What a painful two and a half year span you’ve had. Wishing you the best. Keep your chin up!

  109. dontpanicdent says

    Anyone know how I might contact the second caller, “Jon – California”? He said he does equine therapy for kids and vets and I’d like to know how to contact him, if possible. I’m almost done with my master’s in Clinical Social Work and my main interests are in working with vets and our returning soldiers. California would be ideal.

    Please, can anyone suggest a way I might get in touch with Jon so I might ask after a posting with him?

  110. dontpanicdent says

    @ ThaneMcKinsey (15) and Murat (19, 32)

    I was inclined to side with you on the issue of having a beer while doing the show, but at about the hour mark, I noticed how more relaxed and patient Tracie became in posing ideas and questions for the caller. After doing so many hour-and-a-half shows month after month for years, I think it’s nice to sometimes try a new beer and have a different show, take a step back and release some tension on air.

    It’s a different show, to be sure…. but it’s not awful. And, I think new lines of thinking about things often occur that normally wouldn’t if one is stone sober. I wouldn’t sanction doing it all the time, but every once in a while’s okay with me in dealing with the same old arguments each week.

    I understand many people’s aversion to drinking, though; many have lost their lives to the stuff and they’d prefer everyone stayed away from it. But, my Dad (a non-drinker, for the most part) told us teenage kids that one or two cocktails a day (and no more) lessens stress and prolongs a person’s lifespan. (Longitudinal studies have also proven this)…. I resolved it to one or two cocktails (only) every now and again (every month or two) and that seems to work out well for me.

    I don’t mind their drinking and kicking back a bit on the show, just as long as it doesn’t become a common occurrence.

  111. dontpanicdent says

    To Tracie and Amon Ra,

    Regarding Jon (second caller) and the whole faith-healing mumbo-jumbo, I can think of one very good reason why someone with actual healing powers wouldn’t go advertising it around– especially not to national organizations like the NIH: They value their privacy too much and do not want to be THE healer for everybody’s ills 24-7-365. That may sound selfish, but I read how that turns out in several books– they don’t have a life of their own anymore, many would not respect needed rest breaks and often the healer just gets used up or burnt out, even dying prematurely. Ridiculous, I know, but that’s a reality. How that good for anyone then?

    Most healers– should there be any real ones– would choose to use their powers on the sly– visit a children’s cancer ward unannounced, heal folks in a retirement home when no one is looking, etc. They likely would choose to think of their powers like how we give anonymously to charities or when we do volunteering work, expecting nothing in return. In that way they may stay out of the limelight and not have the entire world take over their lives. It’s maybe a smart choice.

    A more giving person, like Tracie, instead might choose to devote their lives to healing any and all they can, choosing to study (and be studied for) their powers all they can. It’s a good choice, too, but for some, maybe not the smartest.

    I know this comment comes rather late (I saved it because of Aron Ra, but never got around to watching it), but I also just wanted to say ‘Good show, you two.’ I especially enjoyed the taking a break and having a beer on air, enhancing a relaxed mood for the episode for yourselves. You deserve it. Even though it was a little risky (and likely, many people didn’t like it), I thought this show in particular turned out great because of that.


  112. dontpanicdent says

    What’s all this about Jesus’ sacrifice being “only for those who believe” rubbish? I thought it was taught that He died for all our sins, for all of humanity’s sins. The entire human race’s slate was wiped clean forever. Thought that was the whole point of The Sacrifice.

    And, to then say the only unforgivable sin warranting the eternal damnation of Hell (which our conception of DID get incorporated into the Church via Dante’s Inferno and the like centuries later) is Unbelief is not what I remember. Before I gave it all up, I remember the only unforgivable sin was suicide. Later, adultery (for some unknown reason) was added as another. But in my early CCD classes (circa 1975-1980), suicide was taught as the one thing you couldn’t do or you risked total severance from the presence of God (Hell– or the Void of Absolute Darkness & Nothingness). Regardless of the punishment or its form, as kids, we were basically taught to never give up. And, whether it was taught with a stick or not, it was pretty good teaching, actually.

    On some level– especially when I’m feeling really down– that simple fear or teaching or message of never giving up has stayed with me. It likely always will. And, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing really, whether I believe in the consequences of such an action (the ultimate destination or punishment/reward) or not.

    I’ve never heard of all non-believers going to Hell.I don’t remember that being taught, not even later on. I mean, think of all the children– especially the unbaptized ones– who die. Makes no sense they should go to Hell as the unbelievers they are, innocents or not. Maybe, going to Hell was just implied– as in not believing in Heaven would result in finding oneself in its opposite. If thought through, though, non-belief in Heaven logically leads to non-belief in its opposite, and we eventually wind up in a place where we can scrap the whole construct. It’s highly untenable to try to believe in one without the other, as Traci, the third caller, has been trying to do, much as we’d like to see our loved ones who’ve passed, as we were taught.

    I distinctly remember learning early on that the only way to really punch your ticket to Hell was to “off yourself,” as we teenie-boppers used to say. Hell was reserved for suicides, Satan…. and, likely, Judas “The Betrayer.” Later on in the late 90’s, Hell became reserved only for eternal angels, like Lucifer, and it was whispered about that no human could ever do anything so evil as to deserve such punishment, else God would then be deemed fallible, as this is His whole Creation and all.

    Wonky, eh? It became ‘Hell is for angels, Silly Rabbit, not for us.’ When that starting becoming more mainstream, no sin was deemed unforgivable at that point, I guess.

    But, I still won’t off myself in the unlikely event I’m wrong.

    Life is just too valuable if this is all we get.

  113. dontpanicdent says

    @ yorkshiregeek (48)

    I really like the elegant and fairly concise way you constructed the three states– keeping it simple, carrying the reader through the logic/reality, grouping a belief in an evil or good god as one and even differentiating those two from a ‘true god’ so subtly. Really well done.

    I think I’ve heard of the 3 states of belief or something similar, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it so simply laid out for the reader. Did that just come out of your memory of something else, or from school, or did you reason and construct that all on your own? Is it an original argument of yours?

    As elegant and fluid and reasonable as it seems, I wonder if anyone has brought any kind of challenge to the premises that you know of. I’d like to read it to my mother and uncle if holes or fallacies can’t be found in it. It’s a rather nice, non-confrontational way to put things, I think.

  114. dontpanicdent says

    @ favog (67)

    I don’t know who the heck you’ve been talking to, but I’d love to hear your theory explaining Dark Energy and why the Big Bang no longer satisfies. I know a bit about cosmology and I have a crazy, recurring Big Crunch scenario riding along with me and I’d love to share it with someone interested. I love writing about it.

    And, anything having to do with reshaping our voting system for the better I’m up for, too. Everything Political, I say– because everything’s political.

    Maybe you could call your channel that– Everything Political. If once a week’s too much, howzabout 20 minutes every other week? I could help produce by bouncing ideas your way or writing or researching. I enjoy all of those things.

    Please, consider doing a channel again. I think aarrgghh is right; your story is worthwhile for others. And, I think you have other valuable things to say.

  115. dontpanicdent says

    @ Murat (71)

    Yes, it might just be you; when has the Vulcan grip ever incapacitated anyone on the playground for you? That’s Magic what he does, I say!

    I never really thought of Obi-Wan as magical, though. Those Jedi tricks, reflexes and anticipating the future just seemed like higher forms of proper ESP to me as a kid.

    Gandalf? Definitely the Big-M. Big Mojo, dat one!


  116. dontpanicdent says

    @ favog (#80)

    Good Lord, favog! All those folks in your family and you at around the same time getting seriously ill?! Where the heck do you live, may I ask? Is this some Erin Brockovich or Flint, Michigan thing perhaps? I’m really worried now.

    I think twarren1111 said this could be a genetic pre-disposition of your family, right? Scary as it is, I think I’d rather be angry at my environment than have it be genetics. This preponderance of cancer in a localized area is very odd and frightening to me.

    Are others in your area ill, too? Have you already checked into environmental causes, by chance?

    So glad everything’s getting back on track now and your people are beating it. But, now I’m struck with if this wasn’t possibly all due to the area everyone was living in.

    I understand this is a sensitive subject, so if I’ve crossed a line here in asking, please forgive me and just tell me so, okay?

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