Comments

  1. Murat says

    Karin owes her belief in God to some kind of alien intrusion she experienced with her kids.
    Dark matter, etc.

  2. t90bb says

    Poor Daniel…..wants to defend genocide by drawing equivalence to parents discipling children…..parents don’t know in advance how a child will act……god supposedly knows every detail about all of us as well as what it would take FOR THEM to mess up….and then goes about creating people he knows will anger and disappoint him.

    BUT if a child goes too close to the road, they may get a swat or mild disciple…as appropriate…BUT .It would be inappropriate for a parent to discipline their child that wanders too close to the road be chopping off their feet and poking there eyes out….

    As Don pointed out…god creates humans knowing their full stories before, or as, god creates………so god would not be surprised by the behavior of his creations in the slightest….AFTER ALL HES ALL KNOWING..

    As don hammers this home poor Daniel has to switch gears since he knows he had been had…….so danny does a wonderful mental gymnastic for his magic daddy…..by saying how do we know god dosent choose not to know?? lolololoolol…..well then dannyboy…then your genie in the sky is not all knowing. If someone chooses not to know things….its not all knowing……..

  3. t90bb says

    SURPRISINGLY nice job by don and phil……to me anyway. Both are great but usually fill the co host seat. I was anxious to see Don host and I must say he really did well. Very happy for all of us.

  4. Anthony Princiotti says

    Great job by Don and Phil today. They kept things moving, took a good variety of calls, and pushed back on unjustified assertions authoritatively without bullying. Kudos.

  5. Marx says

    Don and Phil did a good job and thank you Don for not letting callers ramble on too long!
    I hope to see Tracie at the helm again soon!👍

  6. Murat says

    @Marx
    Don is like the ideal grandpa.
    Wisdom, tolerance and smiles combined with decent engagement on issues.

  7. jabbly says

    Well I see Saad was on, yet again, with just another round of I know I don’t really have reasonable grounds for what I believe but I just believe anyway. Oh and a side slice of people making ‘nasty’ comments about him on YouTube.

  8. Robink says

    I’ll join the chorus and say I really enjoyed these two hosting together, a relaxed yet still insightful episode. Saad though… I’m really not sure what he’s even looking for at this point other than a weekly chat? He’s not even bringing talking points to the table.

  9. Mars1968 says

    The kalam came up another time. Callers refer to the big bang as ‘beginning’ if space and time. Of course, as hosts point out frequently, we actually do not know what/how things happened.
    Hosts rarely point out that there are like two handfulls of scientific ideas, not proven but consistent with what we know up till know. Quite some of them have an eternal uni(or multi)verse.
    I think it was Sean Caroll who pointed out that ‘but I can’t imagine an infinite regress’ is not an argument but rather an indication of a lack of trying.

  10. Mars1968 says

    @Don.

    Perhaps U’ve anothet failure for you. Christians rever the suffering of christ. Mat often notes that he merely had a bad weekend.
    But did he? Since he is 1/3rd to of the god he presumably went to heaven when he ‘died’ on good Friday, had some tea and came back Easter Sunday.
    And did he suffer on the cross? A person certainly would. But when you are God you would be able to turn of pain at will I guess, wouldn’t you? Would be a walk in the park. And it gets you out in the open air ;-).

  11. says

    karin’s call about “spirits”: consider the fact that we live in an age when almost everyone living in developed countries carries a smartphone everywhere and regularly uploads the most mundane events of their lives for all the world to see, yet the best “evidence” still claimed for the supernatural remains just what it has always been: the random, unrecorded, unverified, unconvincing, one-time personal anecdotes of the already-convinced, stories which cannot qualify as evidence since there’s never anything to actually show other people. [cue sad trombone]

  12. Murat says

    @aarrgghh
    What’s even more weird is that, there is no connection between the belief and what is presented as evidence for it.

  13. buddyward says

    I believe Karin have repeatedly said that just because you cannot see something does not mean it does not exist. This is indeed true and was not contested by either Don or Phil. Her belief and assessment for the existence of spirits and ghosts is separate from this and does not make her initial statement less true.

  14. buddyward says

    @jabbly

    I did not watch the show live so I have the convenience of skipping Saad’s section. I am glad that I did not miss anything that was not already been done by Saad in his previous calls to TH and TAE. It is funny that in TH the audience specifically voiced no Saad this episode. I am grateful for that.

  15. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ buddyward 16:

    Saad spent 12-15 minutes or so talking about how he follows Islam and finds it personally fulfilling.

    So you didn’t miss anything.

    The guy has probably had enough airtime, yes?

  16. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @WP #17
    I think we’ve reached a broad consensus between AXP and TH people that Saad has had enough time. I’m also not sure why they took the dude who wanted to defend biblical genocide. Are there really enough people in the audience who need to hear a refutation of that? It also didn’t help that Don and Phil (who otherwise did a fantastic job) were the wrong pair to have for that topic. You need a flamethrower like Matt or Jeff to do that topic justice IMO.

  17. Robink says

    @buddyward #15

    This is especially odd considering her convictions come from something she claims to have seen

    Even more odd imo is the continued though process that believers use that boils down to:

    “I don’t have an explanation for X, therefore let me offer an explanation for X”

    which is about as self-refuting as it gets.

  18. buddyward says

    @Robnik #19

    Not sure what is odd. Karin stated that just because you cannot see something does not mean it does not exist. I believe this to be true. I also believe that her belief and assessment on the existence of ghosts and spirits is not justified but those two things are separate.

  19. Robink says

    I just think it’s odd that she’s using “just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t true” to justify her belief in something she’s.. seen.

  20. Lamont Cranston says

    Robink says in #21

    I just think it’s odd that she’s using “just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t true” to justify her belief in something she’s.. seen.

    I don’t think she quite communicated what she was trying to say. I could be wrong but I think the point she was trying to communicate was…

    “Just because YOU can’t see something doesn’t mean that something I have actually seen isn’t true.”

    She then described something that she and her children agreed that they all saw and reacted to which did not appear to have a common explanation. What she described is the kind of thing that some might describe as a ghost or shadow person. That doesn’t mean that it was a ghost or a shadow person, but that is the kind of verbiage often used to describe such things. The cause of such experiences remains unknown.

    Lamont Cranston

  21. says

    murat @ 14:

    What’s even more weird is that, there is no connection between the belief and what is presented as evidence for it.

    how is that weird? as they say, “that’s not a bug, that’s a feature” of apologetics.

  22. jabbly says

    @Robink #9

    Saad at least tried to vaguely defend his position in early calls but he doesn’t even bother do that anymore.

  23. Murat says

    @Lamont
    I’m not too sure the cause of such experiences remains unknown.
    At least, for some examples, we do know the cause to chemical effects. Hallucinogens, food poisoning, etc.
    We can not conclude that the common thing she had with her children at the time of seeing this was having digested the same meal almost simultenaously, and that some side effect of bad chicken is to create moving spots in eyesights, hence, they all believed to see some shadow thing moving – which would not necessarily be a false statement, as they could have seen that, but vision itself is not sufficient proof of something actually existing. A common example to this are mirages seen in deserts. It’s well explained optically (reflections), and also to some psychological degree (desire to see water) that anyone can see them, but them actually existing as they are seen is a separate issue.
    I’m not too hard on such things, so, I always have some reserve for some actual phenomena going on, something that may be undetectable via technology, etc. However, what she described was not sufficient to excite me in that way.
    There is the problem that, the way people use the verb “to see” so much connected to “eyesight” that, they just forget the eye is just an organ open to misinterpretations, just like the brain, the most enigmatic of all organs that can provide of with “visions” even when the eyes are wide shut, because the brain is the final stop where the picture is completed, and it easily combine several different data from here and there to come up with a collage, mostly but not necessarily during dreams.

  24. Lamont Cranston says

    Murat says in #25

    I’m not too sure the cause of such experiences remains unknown.

    You then begin to speculate about things that I’ve never heard of nor have had any success in researching about (whether they ate bad chicken, whether chicken can cause simultaneous delusions/illusions/visions of several people, etc.). The rational position is that, “the cause of such experiences remains unknown.” Adding additional random unsubstantiated speculations does nothing to change that.

    I could indulge in speculations as well. I even have one that could be applicable that has been the subject of scientific research and was presented in a TED Talk about 5 years ago. That still does not make the cause of this experience “known” nor even any less “unknown.”

    Lamont Cranston

  25. Murat says

    @Lamont
    Bad chicken was just an example.
    The point I was trying to make was that, much as we may not know the specifics of such anecdotes, we do know that hallucinations can be results of certain, scientifically explainable things. So, we need to first rule out the rational explanations before giving credence to claims such as Karin’s.
    https://www.proprofs.com/discuss/q/788380/can-food-poisoning-cause-hallucinations
    http://www.planet-science.com/categories/under-11s/our-world/2012/01/what-is-a-mirage.aspx

  26. rodney says

    “Karin stated that just because you cannot see something does not mean it does not exist.”

    Maybe I need to watch it again, but I thought Don and Phil agreed with that statement, then she seemed kind of thrown, I guess because she didn’t expect them to agree.

  27. Lamont Cranston says

    Murat says in #27

    Bad chicken was just an example.
    The point I was trying to make was that, much as we may not know the specifics of such anecdotes, we do know that hallucinations can be results of certain, scientifically explainable things. So, we need to first rule out the rational explanations before giving credence to claims such as Karin’s.

    The rational position is to be willing to accept something as unknown until it is known. I think this was done rather well during the call until they and you jumped on the mass hallucination bandwagon. Do you realize that mass hallucination (technically mass hysteria) under the conditions described is about as scientific as the invisible magic man in the sky explanation? It sounds like something that has a scientific basis, and people will all nod knowingly, but did you know there appears to be no example of a simultaneous brief mass hallucination without preconditioning of the observers?

    Karin described her two kids watching TV while she was reading. They said nothing to infer that they were preconditioned to expect what happened. There was no indication they had eaten or taken anything to cause what they experienced (by the way, food poisoning that results in hallucinations makes you physically ill first, the hallucinations are normally secondary – she never mentioned anyone feeling ill).

    We tend to want to explain away events when they don’t fit our idea of how reality works. We may resort to improperly applied science just as a religious person may resort to the God explanation. Neither is a good answer.

    The truth, if we are to believe the physicists and mathematicians is that there are many dimensions of reality to which we do not have access at this time. They claim these have to exist for reality to work as it does. Are they right? I don’t know, but if they are we are only perceiving a small fraction of reality (what we call nature, or the natural world). That would mean that there may be things we would classify as “supernatural” that are actually just parts of reality that we can’t see, touch, hear, sense or measure in any way currently (notice I said currently).

    Let me provide a mundane example from an article I read decades ago (I have no way of finding it, but I did read it). A person out in the country claimed that when they sat on the ground and leaned up against a fence post on their property they would hear music. Of course everyone thought this person was crazy or just “hallucinating.” It didn’t fit into everyone’s perception of how things work, so they brushed off the story with a pseudo-scientific (hallucination) explanation to avoid dealing with the “supernatural” event. Finally someone was willing to “investigate the supernatural” event and discovered it was very real. I know the explanation but I won’t reveal it here (let’s see if the truth can be ascertained with about as much information as was revealed by Karin).

    This is where Matt and I are in disagreement with regard to the supernatural. Matt has said that science cannot explore the supernatural. However, I think supernatural is just an artificial label we put on things to claim that they are outside of reality making them seem off limits to science. I recently encountered a couple of presentations by a group of PhD and Medical scientists who are scientifically exploring what everyone might generally accept as a supernatural situation. They apparently don’t think the “supernatural” label restricts them from investigation.

    I hope you understand that I am not trying to give you a bad time about this. I just cringe when I see someone being dismissed through the use of an explanation that is really no explanation. Phil said it best when he said (paraphrase), if that had happened to me, I would say that I don’t know what that was, but it probably deserves some checking into.

    Lamont Cranston

  28. Murat says

    @Lamont

    A person out in the country claimed that when they sat on the ground and leaned up against a fence post on their property they would hear music. Of course everyone thought this person was crazy or just “hallucinating.” It didn’t fit into everyone’s perception of how things work, so they brushed off the story with a pseudo-scientific (hallucination) explanation to avoid dealing with the “supernatural” event. Finally someone was willing to “investigate the supernatural” event and discovered it was very real. I know the explanation but I won’t reveal it here (let’s see if the truth can be ascertained with about as much information as was revealed by Karin).

    Just a guess:
    The fence post and/or the wires attached to it were functioning as an antenna, due to picking up sound from another source and amplifying it. Or something to that effect. And if so:
    In such cases, our definition of “supernatural” is “what currently seems to remain unexplained scientifically / by referring to our understaing of how nature works”. Hence, “natural” keeps feeding from the “supernatural” as the explanations are found.
    I agree that “supernatural” is too vague a term. Defining God as “supernatural” is problematic. I’m not sure the original phrasing in any of the Abrahamic books is anything close to it.
    However, referring only and simply to what Karin told, meaning, an occurrence even without repetition, observers being in the same environment and most likely to have been under the same influences, I wouldn’t deploy Mulder and Scully on that particular case.

  29. Lamont Cranston says

    Murat says in #30

    Just a guess:
    The fence post and/or the wires attached to it were functioning as an antenna, due to picking up sound from another source and amplifying it. Or something to that effect. And if so:
    In such cases, our definition of “supernatural” is “what currently seems to remain unexplained scientifically / by referring to our understaing of how nature works”. Hence, “natural” keeps feeding from the “supernatural” as the explanations are found.

    Very good 🙂
    Indeed, there was a radio station pretty close. The fence was barbed-wire and acted both as an antenna and because of some rust at the metal joints it also acted as a rectifier to allow “detection” of the AM radio station. The poor (rusty) contacts made noise in step with the music of the radio station when the person leaned against the fence post. The person wasn’t hallucinating, nor was it “supernatural” music.

    Yeah, I would not send Mulder and Scully either. By the way I enjoyed that show. I also enjoyed the brief spin off “The Lone Gunmen.” Do you know what the first episode of “The Lone Gunmen” was about? It was about terrorists trying to fly a commercial passenger jet into the World Trade Center. It aired 6 months before 9/11.

    Lamont Cranston

  30. paxoll says

    @Lamont
    Sorry but I think you are misunderstanding.

    Finally someone was willing to “investigate the supernatural” event and discovered it was very real.

    The claim that something is supernatural is a conclusion about causation. Lets put it into context and see what other conclusions there are. There is a natural conclusion, and that could be also split into a natural vs artificial category. The occurrence that is being investigated is a natural event, it is a person hearing music. We know that it was artificial because if it was natural “music” than there would be no conclusion that a supernatural explanation was possible. So we have an unknown event with two possible conclusions, either it is a naturally caused natural event, or a supernaturally caused natural event. When scientists investigated this natural event, they were not investigating possible supernatural causes. They weren’t looking for extradimentional portals or ghosts or any “supernatural” causes, they were confirming the event happened, and then using science to determine the natural cause of the event. They were not there with ghost detectors, and even if they claimed they had ghost detectors, they would be “detecting” natural events (emf or temperature variation or whatever). Nature and natural explanations are the only thing we CAN investigate, “supernatural” is a conclusion that is definitionally an argument from ignorance and not in any possible way able to be scientifically confirmed.

  31. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lamont Cranston #29:

    a mundane example from an article I read decades ago (I have no way of finding it, but I did read it). A person out in the country claimed that when they sat on the ground and leaned up against a fence post on their property they would hear music.

    This was obviously not your article, but it sounds like yours was about this incident?
     
     
    Article: For a Brief Time in the 1930s, Radio Station WLW in Ohio Became America’s One and Only “Super Station”

    In 1934, when WLW increased its power from 50 kW to 500 kW, all other clear-channel stations were operating at 50 kW or less. Now, WLW had the ability to reach most of the country, especially at night, when AM radio waves interact differently with the earth’s ionosphere and become “skywaves.”
     
    People living near the transmitter site often got better reception than they wanted; some lights would not turn off until WLW engineers helped rewire houses. Gutters rattled loose from buildings. A neon hotel sign near the transmitter never went dark. Farmers reported hearing WLW through their barbed-wire fences.
    [… …]
    In 1939, […], regulators decided not to renew WLW’s authority to broadcast at 500 kW. The station had to roll its power back to 50 kW, which is still the maximum wattage allowed today for AM clear-channel stations.

  32. Murat says

    I believe words like “abnormal” or “miraculous” to be better defined than “supernatural”.
    The prefix, “super”, basically suggest being “above”, like, “Superman” being above in terms of power to normal “men”.
    However, most of the time when people define something as “supernatural”, they mean some kind of contradiction with what should normally happen, and not really an extreme version of what could be accepted.
    “Supernatural” is kind of relative to where we stand. An iPhone is supernatural for the Amazon native who encounters for the very first time with people from out of the jungle. So is a plane. This is simply because the native’s definition of “nature” has not expandded to that of ours yet. The case may be similar between us and “others”. This would not necessarily mean things to be amazing to the point of requiring spirits.
    The definition of god as a “supernatural being” rules out the understanding or the possibility that a deity may be bound by the very rules it set in the course of what passes as creation.

  33. Lamont Cranston says

    paxoll says in #32

    The claim that something is supernatural is a conclusion about causation. Lets put it into context and see what other conclusions there are…

    In an ideal world I would agree with you. However, often times occurrences, events, or phenomena are labelled as “supernatural” without establishing a cause. The cause is simply assumed. Please understand I am not saying this is proper, just that it happens in just the same way as people assume God as a cause.

    Nature and natural explanations are the only thing we CAN investigate, “supernatural” is a conclusion that is definitionally an argument from ignorance and not in any possible way able to be scientifically confirmed.

    So by definition absolutely anything can be investigated because nothing can ever be relegated to supernatural (i.e., nothing is ever supernatural until its cause can be established and no supernatural causes can exist).

    Does anyone else see a problem here?

    What I am saying is that things are often labelled as supernatural simply because we lack the knowledge or ability to establish their actual causes. There is a lot of historical president for this. So yes, we may be unable to investigate the “supernatural”, but no we are not prevented from investigating things that are just labelled as “supernatural.” That is because not all things that are labelled as supernatural are actually supernatural.

    But what has all of this got to do with atheism anyway? 🙂

    We continually prove that there is much more to the natural order and reality than we used to believe (hidden dimensions, dark energy, dark matter, the expansion of space itself, the possibility that everything could be a holographic projection from the 2 dimensional surface of a sphere, etc.). Frankly I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of figuring out how this all works. In the mean time I will just muddle along the best I can in my little corner of this simulation.

    Lamont Cranston

  34. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To paxoll

    Nature and natural explanations are the only thing we CAN investigate, “supernatural” is a conclusion that is definitionally an argument from ignorance and not in any possible way able to be scientifically confirmed.

    By that definition, “supernatural” is an epistemologically empty category. In other words, you defined “supernatural” so that (observable) supernatural things cannot exist by definition. In other words, gods might still exist, but they would be natural.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong. I’m just pointing out the obvious consequences.

    Ditto for Murat.

  35. buddyward says

    @Lamont Cranston

    I think that the idea of investigating the “supernatural” is problematic since the word is ill defined. I agree that we may be able to try and investigate a phenomenon what is labelled as supernatural but I am not so sure that the label would be accurate. Perhaps the label of “unexplained phenomenon” would be more appropriate.

    A while back (sorry I am too lazy to look this up), someone in this blog said, “If magical wizards doing things that violates the laws of physics are common and in every street corner then we can definitely investigate that. We may even be inclined to call that supernatural but we can definitely investigate.” I think in that scenario, it might be acceptable to call it supernatural but I personally think that we need to clearly define the word first before we use it as a label.

  36. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To buddyward
    Indeed.

    For everyone else: Just place yourself in any scifi / fantasy film. You’re not going to curl up into a little ball and assert that the world around you is wrong. You’re going to learn the new rules of this new world. You’re not going to be at Hogwart’s school for wizards and say that wizards don’t exist. That would be incredibly silly.
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist

  37. says

    i don’t spend much time on the meaning of “supernatural”. just as atheists don’t get to define what constitutes “christianity” or “judaism”, etc etc, skeptics don’t really get to define what “supernatural” means, because skeptics aren’t the ones making existence claims for it. skeptics can only ask the claimant what it means when he invokes it. the answer is usually gobbledygook, but that’s not the skeptic’s problem.

  38. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @EL #36

    By that definition, “supernatural” is an epistemologically empty category. In other words, you defined “supernatural” so that (observable) supernatural things cannot exist by definition. In other words, gods might still exist, but they would be natural.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong. I’m just pointing out the obvious consequences.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. This is why I do my best to avoid using “supernatural”/natural in this discussion. It doesn’t matter what stupid label you want to attach to your god/claim in general. Can you demonstrate it or not? IMO methodological naturalism/NOMA lets theists off the hook by allowing them to sidestep the fact that science and empirical evaluation utterly destroys their claims.

  39. paxoll says

    @Lamont

    What I am saying is that things are often labelled as supernatural simply because we lack the knowledge or ability to establish their actual causes

    Yes, this is the definition of the argument from ignorance. I don’t know therefore god, or in this case, I don’t know therefore supernatural.

    nothing is ever supernatural until its cause can be established and no supernatural causes can exist

    No, not “no supernatural causes can exist”, no supernatural causes can be investigated, therefore there can be no evidence for the supernatural, therefore ascribing something as supernatural is always irrational/unreasonable claim. Lets propose a definition of supernatural as anything that is beyond our local space/time universe. Lets now propose that ghosts exist and can do their ghostly things because they have access to what is beyond our universe. Now lets imagine someone claims to have seen a ghost. That experience is a natural experience, caused by some supernatural thing. Now, how do you prove it is supernatural? How do you bound in our space/time universe prove something outside of that? I’m sure a mathy person could write this as a some inverse Godels theorm that nothing outside of a set of axioms can be proven by what is within the set of axioms, but I am not that person.
     

     
    @EL

    By that definition, “supernatural” is an epistemologically empty category.

    Give a definition of supernatural that doesn’t qualify as an epistemological empty category? How do we break the problem of hard solipsism? Though practical realism. Verification. It begins with our 5 senses, and then extends to other minds, and scientific inquiry. How is it possible to verify the supernatural? Not just. how do you rule out all possible natural causes, but you have to go beyond that and demonstrate the supernatural cause. I don’t see a way.

  40. Lamont Cranston says

    paxoll says in #43

    No, not “no supernatural causes can exist”, no supernatural causes can be investigated, therefore there can be no evidence for the supernatural, therefore ascribing something as supernatural is always irrational/unreasonable claim.

    I understand what you are saying, but here is why I arrived at “no supernatural causes can exist.”

    If science cannot investigate the supernatural realm (for lack of a better word at the moment), then no scientific evidence can ever exist that shows a supernatural cause of any event in reality. If no such cause/effect evidence can ever be presented you are left with no rational reason for thinking a supernatural thing can cause an effect in reality. Therefore you can never have any rational supernatural causes. I suppose you could appeal to irrational supernatural causes, but I think that is fundamental problem. 🙂

    Am I still missing something?

    Sorry, I really did not mean to turn this into a big philosophical merry go round. I think I will shut up now and go sit in my corner of this simulation.

    Lamont Cranston

  41. jabbly says

    @aarrgghh #41

    Agreed, you do see discussions held up on what a word means when generally the important issue is just to agree what someone means when they use the label X.

    So as an example, here in the UK agnostic is mostly used for those that are very much undecided about whether a god does, or doesn’t, exist. Now ‘technically’ you can argue that’s not what it means but it doesn’t change the fact that someone is sitting on the fence over god.

  42. Murat says

    I think “science cannot investigare the supernatural realm” is a misstatement, sometimes used also by Matt.
    What science can’t investigare are things that have yet no manifestation in nature / reality.
    It’d be like calling the NYPD for a crime committed in LA. You can and should do it if you want to whistleblow on a suspect who fled to NY. If you have reason to think the person in question is also likely to commit a federal crime you can also go on to contact the FBI, etc.
    So, it’s more about jurisdiction with regards to how science can be made use of. The James Randi Foundation does investigate what is referred to as “the supernatural realm” via use of science. For them to be able to do this, they have to be provided with the manifestation of what is called supernatural.
    If we imagine “science” as a “detective”, he/she would need a corpse to open a case of investigation for murder, see footprints on the carpet for break in, reporting of what is stolen for theft, a ransom note for kidnapping, etc.
    The issue is more about people not providing the sufficient evidence for the claim, than about the content of the claim itself.

  43. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Murat 46:

    Have you actually listened to Matt? He’s consistently said that science could investigate natural manifestations of a supernatural phenomenon, but can’t currently show supernatural causation. This is pretty much exactly what you’ve said.

    I remember one specific episode where a caller talked about a hypothetical example of “a prayer is said, and water turns into wine.” Matt replied that we could investigate this phenomenon, but are currently blocked from showing supernatural causation.

    What’s the deal with commenters here trying to dunk on Matt all the time?

  44. jabbly says

    @WP #47

    It reminds me a bit of the joke, what to you call alternative medicine that been shown to work … medicine.

  45. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    I think the best way to avoid all of this confusion over “supernatural” is to just scrub it from your lexicon. I don’t care if your god is “natural” or “supernatural”, I care if you can demonstrate that it exists because in the end that’s what matters if you want to use it as an explanation for events. Same goes for the resurrection. The reason I don’t accept it given the (lack of) evidence we have isn’t that it’s “supernatural”, it’s that we have no mechanism by which resurrections after multiple days of brain death can occur. The label “supernatural” adds nothing to the discussion IMO and I think we’d be better off avoiding the whole “supernatural” discussion so theists don’t get to label us “closed-minded” because our definition of “supernatural” essentially rules it out entirely regardless of what evidence they present. Just my 2 cents and how I like to handle this.

  46. Monocle Smile says

    @Wiggle Puppy
    TBH, I’m not the biggest fan of Matt’s phrasing there and I prefer EL’s expositions on the matter. AronRa is also good here.

    Forget natural vs supernatural. Either something manifests in our reality and is subject to our methods of investigating observations or it doesn’t. And it seems pretty clear that there’s no way to distinguish between the latter category and things that do not exist.

  47. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @MS #52
    You and EL have definitely influenced my way of thinking about this issue. Avoiding “supernatural” entirely bypasses the stupid “gotcha!” moments that just derail a discussion.

  48. John David Balla says

    One thing that Matt and Tracie do all the time is say things like, “The supernatural hasn’t manifested in reality…YET.” The phrasing implies that it’s somewhat likely that it will sometime in the future. After all, if something doesn’t exist or does not manifest in reality, how does YET even make sense? Same problem with “Until it manifests in reality…” There’s an anticipation that whatever is real today may somehow be different in the future, which is not what Matt or Tracie are intending to imply. I mentioned this to Tracie about a year ago but she really didn’t understand my point and said so at the time. Perhaps I am articulating it better here?

    John

  49. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ JDB 54:

    I get what you’re saying, but don’t think you’re correct. The use of “yet,” to me, doesn’t imply any expectation about the future. I could say that “the state of Indiana has yet to use an army of ghosts to invade and occupy the state of Vermont in order to seize its stockpiles of maple syrup,” and all this means is that this even hasn’t, to this point, happened. It doesn’t say anything at all about the likelihood that I think it will happen at any point in the future.

    I usually hear Matt and Tracie using this phrasing in the context of people who say things like, “Well, what if god exists out of time and space and has a reason for not yet manifesting in a verifiable way?” To that, the answer is, “Well, until that happens, I would have no reason for believing in such a being at all.” In other words, if it isn’t reasonable to believe proposition x until the occurrence of demonstration y, and demonstration y has yet to occur, then at the present moment, it isn’t reasonable to believe proposition x.

  50. Murat says

    @WP

    and all this means is that this even hasn’t, to this point, happened. It doesn’t say anything at all about the likelihood that I think it will happen at any point in the future.

    The way I get it, what John is pointing to is that, the very hyperboly of the term “supernatural” takes away the gravitas from the assertion that something hasn’t happened yet. If and when it happens, will it still be called “supernatural”? Or, now that it has happened, will it not be engulfed by the observation and explanation to come with it, hence, will no longer be “supernatural”?
    This is very much like saying “we haven’t reached the horizon yet” when sailing. The horizon isn’t a pinpointed location on the map, it’s the definition of how far you can see into where the sky and water meet optically. You will never reach the horizon. Just like you will never be able to see the supernatural manisfest itself in reality. Because soon as it does, it will become something else.

  51. paxoll says

    @Lamont
    I appreciate your replies and I’m sure many find my position to be pedantic, but I think by stressing a very clear verbal usage cements the ideas into the mind which in turn helps avoid errors in reasoning and arguing. Which is why others prefer to simply avoid the use entirely.

    no supernatural causes can exist

    is not the same as

    no rational reason for thinking a supernatural thing can cause an effect in reality

    and does not lead to the conclusion of

    Therefore you can never have any rational supernatural causes.

    First, a cause is not rational, a belief of a cause is rational. It is much like the black swan fallacy. You can say no evidence of a black swan means it is irrational to believe black swans exist, but saying black swans don’t exist, or can’t exist is wrong. At the present there is no way to rationally conclude a supernatural cause, is different than supernatural causes don’t exist, or can’t exist.
     
    This isn’t some trick to define supernatural out of existance. Like the idea of “before” the big bang, it is an acknowledgement of the limitations of science, reason, and logic.

  52. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Murat 56:

    “Or, now that it has happened, will it not be engulfed by the observation and explanation to come with it, hence, will no longer be “supernatural”?”

    I don’t know. You’re pointing to a problem that has to do with theists’ squishy definitions of “supernatural,” which isn’t my problem to deal with. If someone tells me that the supernatural is real, then they are welcome to (1) define exactly what that means and then (2) demonstrate the truth of the proposition. If they maintain that they have a way to demonstrate the supernatural using some other tool than science, which is the investigation of the natural world, then go for it. But until the supernatural is defined and demonstrated, I have no reason to take it seriously.

  53. John David Balla says

    #55 Wiggle Puppy
    >>I get what you’re saying, but don’t think you’re correct. The use of “yet,” to me, doesn’t imply any expectation about the future.

    We have a difference of opinion here, and I hate to even use the term opinion. To me, YET is a way of smuggling in legitimacy of the supernatural, god, whatever, before sufficient evidence has been presented. A more unambiguous retort would be to simply state that the time to take the supernatural, or anything for that matter, seriously is when there’s evidence that can be measured or tested. Without that, a YET statement only muddies the water, and do so to the advantage of the theist.

    Put another way, YET implies something is possible. For instance, no one has broken Dimaggio’s 56 game hitting streak yet. However, it would not make much sense to say “We haven’t seen a married bachelor, yet.” Of course, people can say whatever they want but I still think the way Matt and Tracie use YET is at the very least inelegant phrasing.

    John

  54. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ JDB #59:

    “To me, YET is a way of smuggling in legitimacy of the supernatural, god, whatever, before sufficient evidence has been presented.”

    You’re kind of overthinking this.

    “Put another way, YET implies something is possible.”

    No, it implies that something hasn’t been shown to be impossible.

    “Without that, a YET statement only muddies the water, and do so to the advantage of the theist.”

    Where are you getting this? I’ve seen Matt have conversations on the show (and had similar conversations in “real life” myself) where a theist will ask something like, “Okay, hypothetically, if someone had their head cut off, and they were dead for a week, and then they were brought back to life and could walk around as if nothing had happened, would you consider that to be a demonstration of the supernatural?” And the answer is, “I would admit that something extremely surprising and noteworthy had happened, but until we could investigate HOW it happened, we couldn’t say that it was supernatural. But here the thing: Do you have any evidence of anything remotely like that actually happening in the real world?” And then the theist has to admit, “No.” And it exposes how theists have to come up with these wild hypothetical examples of things that don’t happen in order to get atheists to admit that they can’t prove the supernatural impossible, which is a pretty pathetic position for theists to be in.

    “However, it would not make much sense to say “We haven’t seen a married bachelor, yet.””

    That’s because a bachelor is defined as an unmarried man, making that statement logically inconsistent. There’s nothing logically inconsistent about ghosts, or ESP, or some proposed definitions of a god. Sure, they all defy everything we know about how minds work, but they aren’t logically inconsistent.

  55. John David Balla says

    #55 Wiggle Puppy
    >> In other words, if it isn’t reasonable to believe proposition x until the occurrence of demonstration y, and demonstration y has yet to occur, then at the present moment, it isn’t reasonable to believe proposition x.

    Indeed that is the case. And at any point in time, i.e., past, present, or future, that logic holds. Hence YET is superfluous at best, and at worst, allows for the smuggling in of the supernatural.

    John

  56. John David Balla says

    #60 Wiggle Puppy

    1) >>>>“Put another way, YET implies something is possible.”

    2) >>No, it implies that something hasn’t been shown to be impossible.

    This is why I say this is a matter of opinion because for me, YET is 1) and for you, it’s 2). The problem with 2) is that, for the theist, they take your “hasn’t been shown to be impossible” and smuggle in, therefore it must be possible.

    So when Matt complains about how theists declare that something is possible by virtue of it not being demonstrated to be impossible, they see YET statements as somewhat justifying their position. In my view, many theists argue defensively, not to prove god but rather to keep the idea of god alive. They remind me of a really good defense attorney whose job is not to demonstrate his client is innocent but to cast as much doubt as possible that he’s guilty.

    John

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Lets propose a definition of supernatural as anything that is beyond our local space/time universe. Lets now propose that ghosts exist and can do their ghostly things because they have access to what is beyond our universe. Now lets imagine someone claims to have seen a ghost. That experience is a natural experience, caused by some supernatural thing.

    The Ori in the Stargate fictional universe exist outside of our space and time, and the characters of the Stargate fictional universe are quite ready and willing to accept their existence.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stargate_SG-1
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ori_(Stargate)

    Similarly, in my D&D campaign, one of our party had a see invisibility spell up,
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/s/see-invisibility/
    which also allows the affected person to see creatures in the ethereal plane,
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/environment/the-planes/#TOC-Ethereal-Plane
    and there happened to be an ethereal filtcher,
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/etherealFilcher.htm
    and it was a good thing that we had already casted that spell because it gave us forewarning of a monster that likes to “travel” from the ethereal plane to the prime material plane (aka our normal space and time) in order to capture someone, bring them back to the ethereal plane, and kill them for their shiny trinkets.

    When several people here say that they cannot understand how one would show supernatural causation, then they’re just not using their imagination. They’re being close-minded. In short: just think of any fictional universe with magic or extreme scifi. How would you behave in that universe? You’re not going to curl up in a little ball and refuse reality. You’re going to learn about it, and learn how it works, so that you can cope with it, just like any other observable phenomena. Maybe your coping mechanism is “they’re all just natural phenomena”, even though the rest of us would probably use words like “ghosts”, “demons”, etc.
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead/ghost/
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/demon/
    Or you’re going to quickly change your tune about the usefulness of science regarding things like ghosts and demons.

  58. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also, while I’m here, let me mention that if anyone says that it’s impossible to show that it’s supernatural causation, then, according to their world view, it’s probably also impossible to show that anything is natural causation.

    Think about how you show A causes B. How do you do that?

    Well, if you already know that X causes Y, if you can logically reduce (ala reductionism) the question of “A causes B” to “X causes Y”, then you can use your prior knowledge of X causes Y to deductively infer that A causes B.

    What if you can’t do that?

    According to cliche, with a double-blind experiment-group control-group experiment in a lab. What is that doing, really? It’s showing an association between A and B, a correlation in time. From that, we infer cause-and-effect. Specifically, the point of the cliche lab experiment is to try to remove all possible confounding variables, and to show that not-A always precedes not-B and A always precedes B. Contrary to popular myth, correlation does show causation when combined with good attempts at removing all possible confounding variables. Ultimately, that’s the only way that you can show causation at all. It’s what Hume calls “constant conjunction”.

    The idea of distinguishing between “natural” and “supernatural” at all is IMO the mistake – except to the extent that the distinction is well-defined and useful, such as D&D’s difference between “extraordinary”, “spell-like” and “supernatural”, especially as it relates to the effectiveness of “dispel magic” spells and “anti-magic field” spells – dispel magic is effective against spell-like abilities, but not extraordinary abilities nor supernatural abilities, and “anti-magic field” spells are effective against spell-like and supernatural abilities, but not extraordinary abilities.
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/Gamemastering/special-abilities/#TOC-Extraordinary-Abilities-Ex-
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/Gamemastering/special-abilities/#TOC-Spell-Like-Abilities-Sp-
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/Gamemastering/special-abilities/#TOC-Supernatural-Abilities-Su-
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/d/dispel-magic/
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/a/antimagic-field/

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS: Whoops. I didn’t explicitly say the conclusion. If you cannot show that something is non-supernatural e.g. supernatural causation, then you cannot show that it’s natural causation either. Sure, you can show it’s causation, but you cannot show that it’s natural causation. Scientific claims like this are only meaningful to the extent that they can be contrasted with something else. In other words, scientific claims are only meaningful to the extent that they’re falsifiable. What does it mean for some particular causation to be natural? For that claim to be cognitively meaningful, it must be epistemically possible to show that it’s false with (scientific) evidence and argument. That also means that it must be possible to show that one of the alternative claims, e.g. supernatural causation, to be true. In other words, if you can only show something is true and it’s logically impossible to show that it’s false, then you’ve shown nothing at all. Claims are only meaningful and useful to the extent that it might have been otherwise.

  60. says

    @John David Balla

    One thing that Matt and Tracie do all the time is say things like, “The supernatural hasn’t manifested in reality…YET.” The phrasing implies that it’s somewhat likely that it will sometime in the future. After all, if something doesn’t exist or does not manifest in reality, how does YET even make sense? Same problem with “Until it manifests in reality…” There’s an anticipation that whatever is real today may somehow be different in the future, which is not what Matt or Tracie are intending to imply. I mentioned this to Tracie about a year ago but she really didn’t understand my point and said so at the time. Perhaps I am articulating it better here?

    Really good point. AronRa talks about this, where says that God is “necessarily defined as something that doesn’t exist.” He’ll go on to say things like, “If God exists outside our reality, then he does not exist in reality, if God is beyond time, then at no time does God exist.” I mean, which is understandable since he claims to “know” that Gods don’t exist. He claims he’s no longer agnostic in this regard, while most atheists avoid that position to not pick up the BoP. AronRa instead resorts to Christopher Hitchens’ misleading adage to defend this view which says, “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” Of course, I’d offer my 2¢ on these topics, but I have to be careful not hurting people’s feelies and their lack of interest of discussing deeper philosophical topics and whatnot. However, if you’re interested, I have brought this stuff up at Atheist Republic. Very interesting and quite risible reputation I’ve garnered here. I feel like the boogie man chiming in to say, “Boo!” You know, Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice. No, but really I just wanted to comment on your point. If the supernatural is necessarily defined as something outside the laws of physics, then at no time in the future can it be demonstrated, because the very word itself is being defined by atheists as something that is “not natural” or that “defies the laws of physics.” If you define God this way, then you’ve defined God as something that can never be demonstrated.

  61. says

    *where he (AronRa)says that (fixing typo in the first line) I really have to start proofreading what I submit. I never do that. I like that this forum doesn’t have edit options. I’m sure people have pointed out that keeps everyone honest.

  62. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @EL #63

    In short: just think of any fictional universe with magic or extreme scifi. How would you behave in that universe? You’re not going to curl up in a little ball and refuse reality. You’re going to learn about it, and learn how it works, so that you can cope with it, just like any other observable phenomena.

    I love this little thought experiment. I might have to keep this in my back pocket for future discussions.

  63. t90bb says

    hey there!! I had a complete mythical experience while washing dirty dishes that smelled like my dogs ass….if I have faith that a transgender weightlifter could lift the smelly dishes is it an exercise of faith if I do this while taking acid???

  64. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To twarren1111
    Pretty sure it’s fallout from the ACA board’s statements and positions regarding RationalityRules and Trans athletes. I haven’t been following it closely at all, but it appears that it’s spiraled out of all control, and likely the ACA board has been rather pig-headed with their framing and positions.

  65. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    Wow. I’m completely shocked. I really hope they create some content of their own as a team, maybe along with some old ACA regulars (Russell, Jeff, Martin, Ashley etc) calling in when they can. I’d happily subscribe, donate and volunteer my time (whatever that’s worth considering I’m not in Austin). I knew something was fishy when Don was hosting considering I don’t remember him ever doing that before in his 15ish years on the show but I would never have guessed this was the reason. This is almost unbelievable.

  66. paxoll says

    @EL

    r. Sure, you can show it’s causation, but you cannot show that it’s natural causation

    hmm no, you demonstrate causation, and the label “natural” is not a scientific claim, it is a definition. Which is why I offered a definition of supernatural. Gravity is a phenomenon that we label natural, it is the cause of a great many things we observe in the universe. NOW by my own definition, gravity could have a greater cause that is supernatural, some kind of attraction to a particle in an alternate universe. That would still need to be demonstrated in order to say gravity is caused by something supernatural. And until you can pull magic detect invisibility spell out of your ass in the real world, I don’t see that being being possible with our current state of science, YET (for JDB).

  67. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Lets propose a definition of supernatural as anything that is beyond our local space/time universe. Lets now propose that ghosts exist and can do their ghostly things because they have access to what is beyond our universe. Now lets imagine someone claims to have seen a ghost. That experience is a natural experience, caused by some supernatural thing. Now, how do you prove it is supernatural?

    Your definition is not rigorous enough. Please work with the following though experiment so that I know what you really mean. Suppose tomorrow we discover ethereal filthers – natural denizens of the ethereal plane.
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/etherealFilcher.htm
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/environment/the-planes/

    Suppose tomorrow we on our Earth start to experience regular attacks by ethereal filchers – about 100 per day. Usually, a few attacks each day are caught on video. Eventually, we capture a few, and even coerce one to transport some scientific equipment to the ethereal plane and back, and from that, we discover that they are coming from some other place, which we dub the ethereal plane, with all of the properties described in the sources above, aka quite obviously not normal physics.

    In this world, are ethereal filchers natural or not? At first glance, it looks like they’re not from “our universe”, and therefore, by your definition, they would be supernatural. And yet, in this sort of world, it would be trivial to say that the 100 kidnappings every day have a supernatural causation – the cause is the ethereal filchers. What do you say to this?

  68. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Correction: Ethereal filchers cannot kidnap someone to the ethereal plane. At least, that’s my reading of the rules, and of their tactics. Their ability functions as the ethereal jaunt spell, which is personal-only. I realized this, and only fixed half my post. Also, according to some of the lore, ethereal filchers are native to the material plane, but for the sake of my hypothetical, please pretend that they’re native to the ethereal plane.

  69. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #73:

    I haven’t been following it closely at all, but it appears that it’s spiraled out of all control

    Thread 23.19: #352, #361, #367, #350

  70. Honey Tone says

    Does anybody have email addys for John Iacoletti, Tracie and Jen? I’d like to directly express my appreciation for their contributions to TAE, to this blog and to my thinking and outlook on the issues addressed by them over the years.

    They have all been tremendous teachers.

  71. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Thanks CompulsoryAccount7746
    Doesn’t sound good. It’s time for me to listen to Matt and AronRa on this, because they are (were?) two of the people that I trusted most not to be asshats, along with PZ Myers. Sounds like the ACA had imploded and split in half over this. If Jenn and Tracie are against Matt, that is not good. Sigh.

  72. paxoll says

    You trust Meyers to not be an asshat? Lol. He has pretty much called any atheist discussion about atheism or belief a stupid waste of time, which is what this entire show is about.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    Given that Matt was apparently the first of the ACA to confront RR about his videos, I doubt he’s on the “other side” of Tracie, Jen, and John. He may be staying for other reasons, but they can all speak for themselves.

  74. John David Balla says

    I made reference to John I’s recent post (mentioned above) on the AXP Facebook page asking the ACA to kindly verify. It is currently pending approval. I give it 50/50 odds that it will be posted based on whatever policy may or may not exist. Losing Tracie is a very big deal. And learning about it through a blog post is just as bad as Trump tweeting important business that way. I don’t know how I can overstate how disappointing all this is.

  75. says

    Monocle Smile @ 82 – I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but it’s quite mixed up. Matt was one of the first to endorse RR’s first video of transphobic propaganda. And continued supporting RR. He’s definitely on “the other side” from Tracie and Jen and John.
    This is certainly not the first time Matt has stood up to asshole white guy “skeptics” he’s friends with over them doing shitty things to marginalized people.

  76. jabbly says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #80

    It’s unfortunate but the positive is that it shows the atheist ‘community’ is growing up and it’s not one size fits all and also you can’t use the label to co-opt people’s view to your own.

  77. t90bb says

    My understanding is that Matt was one of the first to express concern and confront RR. Matt indicated that RR said he immediately acknowledged mistakes and said he intended to correct them asap. Based on those conversations Matt felt RR had fucked up but was going to do the right thing. To say Matt was on RRs side the whole time appears inaccurate. Matt did say he felt the initial response from the ACA was an overstep…but that was after Matt confronted RR about his concerns….

    Listen….I love the ACA. I love Matt and Tracy. I also love the other hosts but I will say this.

    Jamie is a good guy. Hes young and lacks experience. I don’t think he was a good choice to lead the ACA at this point in his career. I think things have been very messy since Jamie has taken the lead. Jamie has a very important position and no doubt has pull with the board. The way this RR thing was handled was honestly piss poor. It has hurt a lot of peoples feelings and pissed a lot of people off. The issue with John and Tracy is collateral damage due to mismanagement and inexperience of Jamie and the Board.

    All that said I would have hoped John and Tracy would have expressed their position openly without feeling the need to leave the ACA. We are all learning and growing. If John and Tracy would have stayed they could have been a positive force of influence going forward. The ACA is allowed to have dissent among us. We do not have to march in lockstep on all issues. Our overall mission is greater than any one issue or one controversy. It leads me to believe that something else might have lead to this because it smacks of self centeredness and small mindedness to leave the ACA over what is publicly known. That is just my opinion of course.

    And don’t get it twisted. I adore Jamie. I just don’t think he was/is quite ready for this. That said, perhaps no one else wanted to do it, I simply don’t know,

  78. John David Balla says

    #87 t90bb

    >>All that said I would have hoped John and Tracy would have expressed their position openly without feeling the need to leave the ACA. We are all learning and growing. If John and Tracy would have stayed they could have been a positive force of influence going forward. The ACA is allowed to have dissent among us. We do not have to march in lockstep on all issues. Our overall mission is greater than any one issue or one controversy.

    It’s all very strange. Tracie had the opportunity to express her take on things a couple of weeks ago, but instead, she uncharacteristically punted in a manner that made little sense other than perhaps she is extremely angry and is finding it difficult to find the right words to express how she feels. So I can see Tracie opting to say nothing at the risk of saying the wrong thing. But this is all speculative and I really am uncomfortable with going too far with that. At any point, Tracie can express here views and perhaps sometime in the future she will.

    >>It leads me to believe that something else might have lead to this because it smacks of self centeredness and small mindedness to leave the ACA over what is publicly known. That is just my opinion of course.

    It does seem uncharacteristic and I’ll leave it at that.

  79. Marcelo says

    John-Henry Beck @84:

    This is certainly not the first time Matt has stood up to asshole white guy “skeptics” he’s friends with over them doing shitty things to marginalized people.

    Case in point, his continued friendship with Seth Andrews of Thinking Atheist fame and notorious defender of freeze peach in recent alt-right manifestations.

  80. Marcelo says

    paxoll @81:

    It seems that PZ is right about one thing: not a single one of his critics seems to have the ability to write his last name correctly 🙂

  81. twarren1111 says

    I’m disappointed bc I had hoped that policies were in place to deal with issues such as those that stemmed from RR’s video. From the study of medical practices, there was a pivotal paper decades ago that actually applies to any organization. The paper described three stages of the evolution of an organization. Stage I is when there are no policies. Everything is personality driven. Eg, each doctor is in the group just to share expenses like the building and utilities. But each hires their own staff and often the staff they hire are for reasons not related to the job. As the practice grows conflicts then arise and because there are no policies and bc everything is personality driven the practice quickly fails and splinters.

    A Stage III practice, however, is 100% policy driven. Nothing is personality driven. This would describe, Eg, the Mayo Clinic. State II is in between.

    My point is that with the ACA growing the way it has: haven’t they bought a building? Plus, over the last 5 to 10 years the rise of YouTube and its communities has become a true thing. When AronRa and Matt traveled to Australia giving talks also led me to assume that ACA had policies in place to handle issues such as what if those two said things that ACA was against? I’ve seen guest hosts come on TAE show for many years now. There has to be a policy and/or policies in place to handle what happens if, Eg, HolyKoolAid takes some faith based view on an issue that goes against an evidence based view in the ACA.

    In short, you know when you have your policies in good stead when the organization has to suffer a psychopath. To wit: that is what is so intriguing at the most fundamental level of what our federal government is dealing with in Trump. And it was how my practice grew into a stage III organization as a response to having a senior partner finally reveal fully that he was a psychopath. It’s bad enough having your pastor or CEO be a psychopath but imagine a medical oncologist!

    Anyway, I’m disappointed in that it appears that the ACA, as it grew, and grew rapidly in the last 5 years, had not obviously pit any policies in place to deal with low empathy situations. If the ACA has, then dealing with RR’s video would/should gave been very easy. The easiest policy to establish are the policies of identity (such as mission statement) and how disputes are handled by guest hosts that express offensive views.

    I know that ACA did not have these in place bc of how the stories have emerged. Eg, if Matt was not the president of ACA or some other official of ACA then why was he the first to confront RR? Did Matt have the support of the board? If the ACA has a presence on FB, Reddit, discord, etc, then please please tell me they gave policies in place to handle all contingencies of these interactions.

    Alas, I get the impression that the ACA, much like many churches, did not have policies in place and was a stage I organization. And this is what happens to any stage I organization that has no rules in place.

    The lack if moderation on this blog was but a symptom of the problem.

  82. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @twarren #91
    The worst part about this whole mess is that none of it needed to happen. RR could have avoided this by doing better research, not releasing a video that was likely to stir up shit, don’t quote Joe Rogan, give an honest apology, don’t invoke Galileo. The ACA could have avoided this by having set policies in place for having guest hosts (maybe a simple disclaimer on all videos about the hosts representing themselves and not the ACA), not having RR addressing the video on air, not stabbing him in the back right after shaking his hand, spending more time to release a more carefully worded statement. IMO this was a complete disaster on all sides and we’re all worse off for it. Sorry for this mini-rant, I really needed to get this out because it seems like all of the nuance has disappeared since people started taking sides.

  83. John David Balla says

    #91 twarren1111
    The ACA is not unique in appreciating the importance of a mission statement, values and principles, and a truly thought-out code of ethics. Documents such as these should be written in a cold state where emotions are not running high so that when the shit hits the fan, the organization can reference their positions and ethics that were designed to deal with these HOT states. When the whole RR/ACA controversy first hit, one of my first questions was to see these kinds of documents. After weeks of back-and-forth, I never saw anyone quote the language in ACA official statements to either support or condemn their argument, which pretty much says it all.

    There are two reasons I bring this up: 1) I’m in grad school and I am constantly challenged on ethical matters on how to address them correctly. Hint. You NEVER work on these policies when you’re in a crisis, and; 2) another secular organization for which I’m a member (and volunteer) had its own ACA moment. It started out the same way but eventually go under control by:
    1) creating online forums explicitly to hear grievances of anyone who cared to be heard. The CEO was directly involved in overseeing the session. Absolutely no censorship
    2) a consensus came out of the forums to create clear policies to deal with ambiguities, ethical matters, and a formal reporting and escalation. (We borrowed heavily from the American Psychological Association (APA’s) code of ethics to get started.)

    Currently, for instance, I have no idea what the ACA’s policy is on Facebook moderation. What I do know is that very recently free speech was arbitrarily and intentionally suppressed for what appears to be completely personality-driven reasons. In addition, I have no idea what the ACA’s position is with respect to marginalized groups such as the trans community. But from what I can glean from recent comments by those who have left the organization, there appears to be a position that such groups should enjoy special rights, not merely equal ones, that the feelings of the trans community should be, by default, trusted to be true because of their unique disposition, while others simply want equal rights for all communities. (What do you do when two people from the trans community disagree on an issue? Accept the greater grievance?) Anyway, this is what seems to be the rub. What’s important to notice is that whatever camp you’re in, everyone agrees that all groups should be afforded equal rights.

    And with that in mind, how the hell did we get here?

    John

  84. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To paxoll

    You trust Meyers to not be an asshat? Lol. He has pretty much called any atheist discussion about atheism or belief a stupid waste of time, which is what this entire show is about.

    1- I don’t think that’s his real position.
    2- Even if true, I don’t see how that makes him an asshat. If true, he’s just expressing a personal preference. It’s not like he regularly takes a shit on it by regularly calling or commenting here.

    To jabbly

    It’s unfortunate but the positive is that it shows the atheist ‘community’ is growing up and it’s not one size fits all and also you can’t use the label to co-opt people’s view to your own.

    The ACA has always stood for social-justice causes, and they have always been an atheist community for atheists that embrace social-justice, and people who are truly trans-antagonistic have always been shown the door.

    For example, I want nothing to do with atheist groups that welcome people like Sargon of Assad and other Nazi asshats. In this case, my secular humanism is way more important than my atheism.

    To John David Balla
    I like some of your ideas. However, I wanted to push back a little bit.

    By some measure, banning Kafei is “censorship”. However, IMAO it’s a necessary kind of censorship. Similarly, for many sorts of asshats who post openly racist, sexist, anti-trans, etc., remarks, they should also be warned, with bannings for repeat behavior.

    I share some of your feelings whenever I hear someone say “you’re a cis-het white man, you don’t know what they’re going through, shut up and listen, and whatever members of the oppressed minority group say is automatically right” (exaggerated). However, typically, they’re not asking for special rights. They’re just asking to be treated with basic human decency, kindness, and respect. I cannot imagine what “special rights” you think that they are asking for – except perhaps for the “special right” to be free from transphobic language in ACA spaces.

  85. Murat says

    @EL

    I cannot imagine what “special rights” you think that they are asking for – except perhaps for the “special right” to be free from transphobic language in ACA spaces.

    That was the weird thing about how the RR discussion started in and around the ACA. What was interpreted by some as transphobic language had not even taken place in an ACA space. The abruptness of the initial statement aside, trying to filter anything with such criteria would be extremely limiting in the process or coming up with content.
    I think that kind of reaction is one that sounds like a good idea within the echo-chambers, but out in the more diverse world is more likely to backfire.

  86. twarren1111 says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic says #92 and @John David Balla says #93
    EXACTLY!!!! This is why ‘morality’ is not based upon some ‘objective’ measure as a ‘god’ but rather on examining each and every relationship and how it best fits the geometry of reality. In other words, EVERYTHING that has happened with the RR and the ACA has been:
    1. preventable
    2. governable

    And instead what we have is a big waste of time and energy. Why? Because what is fundamental to all causality is the constant speed of light. And that is where we get all our thermodynamics and complexity from which means that if you don’t keep your ratios correct (especially in human-derived complexity via policy) then what you will eventually do is waste a lot of time and energy.

    At the root of all of the chaos is this fact: it was unnecessary.

    But, and here is the next key, the answer to the ‘problem of induction’: can the stakeholders in what the ACA has become overcome their individual, petty concerns, and focus on what is important: how we treat each other? Can the ACA learn and overcome?

    This is why I refer to my life as ‘Kiln-Time’. I thought of it as in terms of a crucible and how each firing of the steel either makes it stronger or turns it to ash. My Jill friend noted that she though it referred to ‘Killing time’ which is also so appropriate on so many levels.

    So, ACA, will you revive stonger and better or will there be ash and none who grow older and wiser??????

  87. John David Balla says

    #94 EnlightenmentLiberal

    >>By some measure, banning Kafei is “censorship”. However, IMAO it’s a necessary kind of censorship. Similarly, for many sorts of asshats who post openly racist, sexist, anti-trans, etc., remarks, they should also be warned, with bannings for repeat behavior.

    Two points: First, There should be a clear and enforceable blog policy where everyone agrees to the terms and follows the rules. You violate the terms, after one or two warnings, and bye-bye you go. I don’t see that as censorship, but it could be depending on how the policy is written. Second, Some six months ago I simply stopped taking Kafei’s bait. I found killfile and simply refusing to engage with him to be effective. This is one example where self-policing could be effective. Banning someone for cause should be a last resort. In fact, I somewhat take issue with how he was banned in that John I basically said he was sick and tired of hearing about him so he was banned out of moderator fatigue I suppose.

    >>I share some of your feelings whenever I hear someone say “you’re a cis-het white man, you don’t know what they’re going through, shut up and listen, and whatever members of the oppressed minority group say is automatically right” (exaggerated). However, typically, they’re not asking for special rights. They’re just asking to be treated with basic human decency, kindness, and respect. I cannot imagine what “special rights” you think that they are asking for – except perhaps for the “special right” to be free from transphobic language in ACA spaces.

    By special rights I mean foregoing my independent decision-making abilities to a select class of people for matters specific to them for which I am deemed incapable of arriving at the correct assessment as determined by them. So yes. That’s what I mean by giving special rights to a marginalized group. And if I am (or would become) part of a marginalized group, i.e., atheist, I would never ask to be treated special, only fairly. Case in point. I am not aware of an atheist movement that is seeking special rights and would not support one if it existed. MLK Jr. never sought special rights, only equal rights. And it is true that I will never know what it is to be black but I do have empathy and a keen sense of justice that allows me to have a clear understanding of what fairness is. But for those within the trans community who insist that, when it comes to them, only they can determine what’s right or wrong, just or unjust, or a situation where reasonable minds can differ versus “you’re a bigot,” is indeed assigning them special rights. And of course, there’s the very inconvenient reality that the trans community is no monolith where all members agree with all issues related to being trans. As such, despite good intentions, the aspiration is inherently arbitrary and capricious. That said, I’d be willing to remain allies since we agree on just about everything else, which is quite a lot.

  88. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @JDB #97

    Two points: First, There should be a clear and enforceable blog policy where everyone agrees to the terms and follows the rules. You violate the terms, after one or two warnings, and bye-bye you go. I don’t see that as censorship, but it could be depending on how the policy is written

    This is 100% what the blog needs. I’ve offered to mod in the past and I’d love to help keep this running in the future. My hopes aren’t high that this blog will get any attention with all of the old guard gone so having us police it ourselves and essentially “go rogue” may be an option. I might email Jamie and see if I can get a response out of him but with all of the disarray I don’t know if I want to add another item to the to-do list and frankly I want to hear from Tracie and John first. For all I know what happened was so bad that I wouldn’t even want to associate with the new ACA.

  89. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John David Balla #97:

    I mean foregoing my independent decision-making abilities to a select class of people for matters specific to them for which I am deemed incapable of arriving at the correct assessment as determined by them
    […]
    I will never know what it is to be black but I do have empathy and a keen sense of justice that allows me to have a clear understanding of what fairness is.

    It’s a Dunning-Kruger warning. One’s assessment of fairness depends on awareness of the context, otherwise, GIGO.

  90. Lamont Cranston says

    AtheistNotAgnostic says min #98

    My hopes aren’t high that this blog will get any attention with all of the old guard gone so having us police it ourselves and essentially “go rogue” may be an option.

    You do realize it is not possible for new members to join this forum without “moderation” by someone with the appropriate rights to allow entry, correct? So it would seem that “going rogue” could be kind of a severely limited situation. Not only no banning, but no new members and no new threads.

    I do find the current situation distressing. Sadly, it was probably inevitable when people think that just because they agree on one thing (atheism with the separation of church and government in this case) they must agree on everything else otherwise personal attacks become warranted.

    Having been part of a cult for many years I may have a perspective not shared by many here. I have seen the effects of “group think” and the demands for uniformity of all beliefs rather than respectful unity (not the same thing). When someone deviates in the slightest from being a Stepford wife (female, male, or other), the attacks are swift, intense and ultimately devastating to all involved.

    It is always fascinating how irrational the most rational of people can be when their ox is being gored.

    Lamont Cranston

  91. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #101:

    I cannot find a link to the second ACA statement that retracts the first statement.

    A full quote of the ACA Clarification, and its canonical link, are at #336, later amended #349.
     
    Facebook has always given me a glitched-empty layout when I try to view it directly, but I’ve transcribed screenshots.

  92. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Thanks much Sky Captain.

    In related news, I still don’t see what’s so wrong with the first statement, and why it requires an apology. It still seems rather tame to me.

  93. Murat says

    @JDB
    “Special rights” may not be the best thing to describe the outcome desired by the pro-trans.
    However, as was the case with trying to implement usage of fabricated gender pronouns, there is some sort of special pleading going on there. It is not fair to set up an agenda the most obvious result of which would be to create situations where the “ignorant” or the “bigot” will eventually be caught off-guard and make a “mistake”, or even, by some stretch, commit a “crime”.
    This is like the Rubik’s Cube. Free speech, fairness, common sense etc. are as valid “colors” as “trans rights” are.
    On one face, you may be willing to collect all the “red”s, but while doing so, you should not change the setting of “greens” or the “yellow”s too irredeemably. You just gotta watch the back. Especially if not every single face of the cube was a total mess when you put hands on it to better your favorite color.

  94. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Lamont #100

    You do realize it is not possible for new members to join this forum without “moderation” by someone with the appropriate rights to allow entry, correct? So it would seem that “going rogue” could be kind of a severely limited situation. Not only no banning, but no new members and no new threads.

    What I meant by this is that if the ACA no longer wants to officially support this blog, we could possibly convince them to give us the modding accounts so we could keep it alive ourselves in an “unofficial” capacity. Clearly this is less preferable than having the ACA endorse us and send people our way but I’d rather that than this blog completely die.
    @EL #103
    It’s my understanding that some of the major issues people had with the first statement are:
    – Timing: It was released right after RR was at the ACA for two weeks and was on multiple shows. They could have given him a heads up there that thee was an issue, or better yet, had him address it live on air. Instead they stabbed him in the back on his way out the door.
    – Claim the ACA “didn’t know”: This is complete bullshit. Other content creators at the Faithless Forum, which took place just before RR came to Austin, said that this video “hung over the lace like a dark cloud” and many of them had conversations with RR about it. There’s just no way the ACA didn’t know about this before he showed up, or at least before his second week of shows.
    – “Pain and suffering”: This is absurd hyperbole. It’s not like RR was on the show spouting anti-trans BS. The issue didn’t even come up.
    I certainly think the timing issue was huge and basically thwarted the ACA’s whole message. It shows that this was not a measured, calculated response but a rush to condemn based on a few people getting loud.

  95. t90bb says

    RR fucked up, the board fucked up…..the fact that it was clearly mishandled is upsetting. Enough for Tracy and John to take their marbles and go home?? I cant see it. Perhaps there is much more to the story. The only basis I can figure for them to quit the ACA is for them to honestly believe the current board is anti trans which seems ridiculous.

    Although I am all for raising the bar in an effort to make everyone feel comfortable, I often see the far far far left take positions as bizarre as the far far far right. It has been said by a few that Tracy and John may be of the far far far left in your club. If so, there may be literally no pleasing them. Disappointing for sure. We all need to grow up sometime and that includes empathy and tolerance for others. The far far far left has as much tolerance for others positions as the far far far right. I hate to say it..but I find its true.

    Some people cannot get over that I did not find RRs video as outrageous as they did. It was bad. But the fact that I do not march in lockstep with them bothers them it seems. That’s just tough!

    I know quite a bit about being ostracized, demeaned, degraded…..I am a gay male and I am an atheist. I grew up in an evangelical home in a highly religious area. My walk has not been easy. I have a lot of empathy for those marginalized, but the fact I don’t march in lockstep with the far left among us is just too fuckin bad.

    Come to me..make your case, I will listen and adjust my views accordingly.

    Tracy and John were very important players in the ACA. Their loss is a big deal. We need them. I do feel a bit abandoned by them honestly. I am not sure why they did not dig in, make their feelings known, and fight to make the ACA better.

    Now if there is more to the story then my post may not be fair….but it if this is only about RR and the recent elections I stand by it.

    Regardless of how this plays out I owe much gratitude to both John and Tracy. I love them both.

    It would be nice if one day soon they mull over the situation and decide that their place it march beside us in the ACA once again.

  96. John David Balla says

    Call it “special pleading” or “special rights” or “our way or the highway,” this extreme view that if you don’t 100 percent agree with their view, they are justified to demonize, insult and indiscriminately lob ad hominem attacks and worse.

    Matt tried to address this by saying that while the anger of the trans community is understandable it is not justified (I’m paraphrasing). What’s important to appreciate is that there are many who take it one step further, that their anger is not onlhy understandable it is also justified. I have found this distinction to be quite real and helpful in understanding why so many within the trans community are so hostile. They feel justified and do not hesitate to express their vitriol. Matt was pointing this out as a matter of fact, again, a point he understood and even empathized with but, at the same time, could not justify. During this same TH episode where these remarks were made, Jamie was noticeably agitated by Matt’s remarks, and more or less stated that he felt like many in the trans community, that this anger and hostility “is” justified. Who he was speaking for I have no idea.

    All said, there remains, despite the hostility, confusion, and many mistakes by many, a desire for unity. We witnessed that when a trans woman called into TH on the same episode referenced above. I forget her name but she held firm to her beliefs, as did Matt. But what also happened — and more of this will happen if we keep communications open — is both listened to each other. By the end of the call, all parties acknowledged that the call was productive. Some serious healing occurred before our eyes.

    What I can’t help but notice, and I’m sure others have too, is how this “justifiable intolerance” maps to certain factions within the Islamic faith who also maintain that they hold a special right to be offended, and by special I mean a right that is only afforded to them.

    In any case, this rift is a very big deal. Radio silence isn’t helping. It can’t be wished away. But recall the aforementioned TH episode and the progress made by having a difficult yet honest discussion. That’s what we need more of. There are many, on both sides, who sincerely seek to heal this divide.

    John

  97. Lamont Cranston says

    This is my third attempt at posting this. After I hit “Post Comment” is has been disappearing rather than being posted. I am beginning to wonder if the blog has been shut down already?

    t90bb says in #106

    Although I am all for raising the bar in an effort to make everyone feel comfortable, I often see the far far far left take positions as bizarre as the far far far right… The far far far left has as much tolerance for others positions as the far far far right. I hate to say it..but I find its true.

    I know quite a bit about being ostracized, demeaned, degraded…..I am a gay male and I am an atheist. I grew up in an evangelical home in a highly religious area. My walk has not been easy. I have a lot of empathy for those marginalized, but the fact I don’t march in lockstep with the far left among us is just too fuckin bad.

    I find your position commendable. You identify to a significant degree with a particular group but not so much so that you have checked your brains at the door. You realize that you don’t always agree with the group and are willing to stand up for what you believe even if you have to take some heat for it.

    Those who are so far to the left or right that they can’t separate what they think from what the group thinks are actually functioning in the same way that people do in cults (no not all cults are religious). I am convinced that when we get to the point where we cannot see the situations in which the group we identify with are being hypocritical, hyperbolic, deceitful, or engaging in double standards then we are on dangerous ground. I don’t think any group is perfect and virtually all groups will do things like this at some time in some way to greater of lesser degrees. So if we can’t see it we have become little more than automatons in a machine. We have become part of a collective and that’s seldom good for one’s mental well being. That’s how things can go very badly.

    I used to have serious political discussions at work with two interesting people. One was way on the left and the other was way on the right (neither were radicals, but they were both very opinionated). Fortunately both were also able to think for themselves. I had agreements and serious disagreements with both. All three of us were able to see and acknowledge the valid points that might be contrary to our position at any given time. It was a highly unusual experience especially in a work place (discussions like that can get you fired unless the people involved can handle differences respectfully).

    It would seem that perhaps some members of the ACA cannot do what my co-workers and I did for years.

    Lamont Cranston

  98. John David Balla says

    #108 Lamont Cranston
    >>It would seem that perhaps some members of the ACA cannot do what my co-workers and I did for years.

    And that has been a major disappointment. That said, I’d prefer to come to terms with my miscalculations and allow myself to be sad about that than continue to be angry with people because they turned out not to be who I thought they were. One good thing about a full-blown crisis is that you get to see what people really believe, including yourself.

    John

  99. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    Apart from what John said in the previous post, has there been any kind of comment from Tracie, Jen or John (like on their other social media) explaining their decision at all? Without that I suppose it’s difficult to really pin down what their motivations to withdraw were, or if they were even over the same thing.

  100. John David Balla says

    #110 Evil God of the Fiery Cloud
    >>Apart from what John said in the previous post, has there been any kind of comment from Tracie, Jen or John (like on their other social media) explaining their decision at all?

    No.

  101. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    @ John David Balla – 111

    Well, crumb… Hahahaha. I wonder if they’ll address it at all on either of the shows tomorrow. I mean it’s hardly the first time someone from the old guard has decided to call it quits. We’ve seen Jeff Dee, Martin Wagner and Russell Glasser go over the years, though in most cases I took it to be having had enough/wanting to move on rather than leaving over any ideological differences. To be fair, I suppose we don’t KNOW if any such differences are behind Tracie, Jen and John calling it quits now, though the timing would seem to lend itself to that.
    Still, as others have said, the ACA has been instrumental in giving me a framework for my own ideas since AXP popped onto my radar however many years ago it was I started stumbling on clips on Youtube. That so many of the old guard who guided its rise have moved on for whatever reasons is a bit sad, but what are ye gonna do?

  102. John David Balla says

    #112 Evil God of the Fiery Cloud

    >>Well, crumb… Hahahaha. I wonder if they’ll address it at all on either of the shows tomorrow. I mean it’s hardly the first time someone from the old guard has decided to call it quits. We’ve seen Jeff Dee, Martin Wagner and Russell Glasser go over the years, though in most cases I took it to be having had enough/wanting to move on rather than leaving over any ideological differences.

    Russel is active on Facebook. I sent him a PM asking why he’s not on TAE anymore. Not knowing me from Adam he provided a pretty thorough answer. At the time, it wasn’t so much what the ACA was doing, but rather, some pretty extreme right-wingers he was running into at conventions and conferences. He felt like he was being mischaracterized as being in ideological agreement with them. BTW. He only heard of the RR/ACA saga recently and was not all clear on the facts, other than “I’m glad I’m not there'” or words to that effect. In my estimation, Russell hinted at some behind-the-scenes stuff (without being specific) that is really tiresome and difficult which may explain why it’s so hard to get members to run for elected positions.

    Also, I’m pretty sure Martin is not active on Facebook at all and Jeff Dee barely is (if at all).

    >>To be fair, I suppose we don’t KNOW if any such differences are behind Tracie, Jen and John calling it quits now, though the timing would seem to lend itself to that.

    Well, in the epistemological sense we don’t know, but if we use the belief standard, it’s pretty clear why the left. Of course, I would prefer they be forthright but for whatever reasons, they have chosen not to. I’m particularly saddened by Tracie’s departure and the way in which she departed. She is extraordinarily talented and was doing a lot of good for so many by hosting TAE. In my view, no single person can fill her shoes.

    >>Still, as others have said, the ACA has been instrumental in giving me a framework for my own ideas since AXP popped onto my radar however many years ago it was I started stumbling on clips on Youtube. That so many of the old guard who guided its rise have moved on for whatever reasons is a bit sad, but what are ye gonna do?

    Nothing wrong with feeling sad for a while. After all, like many of us who live far away from Austin, the ACA provides an online community for which it is difficult to overstate its importance. These departures are indeed a significant loss and deserve to be treated accordingly. And like other deaths, both literal and metaphoric, we eventually move on.

    John

  103. Lamont Cranston says

    Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says in #112:

    Well, crumb… Hahahaha. I wonder if they’ll address it at all on either of the shows tomorrow.

    For what it is worth, I did notice on Youtube that Matt is hosting AXP tomorrow. So, it would appear that he is still around and might make some mention of what has recently transpired within the ACA. Matt’s co-host will be someone I didn’t recognize (I did not try to look up the name). Jamie will also be on TH. So one might reasonably expect the current President of the ACA to say something about what is happening. The last time I saw Jamie talking about the subject he looked pretty frazzled. I think all the turmoil is taking a toll on everyone involved.

    Lamont Cranston

  104. John David Balla says

    Lamont Cranston

    The only person who has a clue on what to say and also provide insight and sobriety to the entire matter is Matt, and that’s regardless of whether he’s on the Board or not. What I appreciate is that Matt is approaching all of this in the same way he would address a theist caller. His approach and standards have not changed. I can’t say that for other hosts, unfortunately. It’s as if this matter has opened up a new reality with its own unique standards (special pleading). I think that’s why this entire episode has weighed on me so much. I consider the kind of skepticism consistently used on TH and TAE to be almost sacrosanct. So when I see some of the teachers or leaders deviate so conspicuously from their public skepticism, it’s obvious. I’m sure there are others who feel the same way while it’s also true that there are many reasons people are upset and nearly nothing is being done to address anything. We have a bunch of intelligent and talented individuals who routinely demonstrate how they can dissect complex matters into its basic elements to arrive at the core matter, utterly fail to do any of that when it comes to RR/ACA et al.

    At this point, I do not expect anything out of Jamie. It’s pretty clear that he knew about the departures last week and made no effort to address them. When Jamie does say something he tends to make matters worse. Making matters worse, Jamie knows he’s making matters worse. At this point, I cannot understand why those who have the experience and know-how haven’t mentored him. The only other possibility is that they have tried but Jamie wouldn’t listen, which I find to be highly unlikely.

    FYI. Matt’s co-host Jenna Belk has deconverted from theism relatively recently. She has been on other ACA shows. That’s all I know about her.

    John

  105. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    John David Balla #113:

    it wasn’t so much what the ACA was doing, but rather, some pretty extreme right-wingers he was running into at conventions and conferences.

     
    Podcast: Serious Inquiries Only – 182 Russell Glasser (57:18, 2019-02-27)

    in the last year or so, he has taken a firm step back from atheism and hasn’t appeared on TAE. He’s agreed to come on to talk about why, and about many related issues.

     
    There’s a retrospective (until 19:20). Then they get into his reasons.
     
     

    (38:20, Russell): After Trump got elected, I think it was Sam Harris in particular who posted, “Well this sucks. But if I’m hunting for a silver lining, I think maybe Donald Trump is an atheist.” […] I don’t really give a fuck. He had the highest support rate among evangelicals of any president ever. […] He’s still behaving in a way that attracts those people, so whether or not Trump is an atheist – and I still don’t know or care – how is that helpful to me? I think that gets lost a lot in the idea of “I only have to care about things that are objectively true.” No, you also have to care about the way that current events affect people because that’s also a true thing for everybody.
     
    (Thomas): […] [Sam Harris] talked about how much he didn’t like Trump and got a bunch of push back from his audience and was kinda confused by it at times. Well when you have Ben Shapiro on your show, yeah you’re gonna have people-
     
    (Russell): It sure doesn’t seem to me like he noticed the fact that he had all these pro-Trump fans who were angry at him and thought, “Am I doing something wrong to encourage these people!?”
    […]
    (45:28, Russell): I think that separating politics from other stuff – especially now when every goddamn thing is about Trump – is impossible and artificial. And I think that this pretense that you can be neutral is one of the things that made it easy for this frankly anti-truth strain of the right-wing to come into power. For a long time, Fox News’ core slogan was, “We’re fair and balanced.” Their slogan wasn’t, “We’re fair, balanced, and accurate.” […] If you had a scientist coming on who talked about how we landed on the moon, they would give balance by providing a kook who would make a serious case that we didn’t land on the moon. They convinced people that it is a virtue to not only fairly represent all sides, but to treat all sides with equal respect, which is bullshit.
    […]
    (53:02, Russell): When I was over-stressed and pulled in too many directions last year […] I didn’t spend a lot of time on the Atheist Experience talking about how much I actually love software engineering.
    […]
    I was always sort of tangential to the atheist celebrity culture, like I’m not a Sam Harris, or Richard Dawkins, or even a Matt Dillahunty. But also that’s not my entire livelihood. I didn’t grab for celebrity because it wasn’t the way I intended to make my living. And I think people mistake being good at debating for having points that are accurate. And that’s one of the things that I’ve gotten disillusioned with over time. Because the principle of being competent and making stuff actually happen is an important skill. And the other skill – which is unrelated – of being able to convince people of stuff… that’s a good skill to have, but you shouldn’t confuse the two of being the same as each other.
     
    And so I’m frustrated at the especially YouTube atheist culture. […] I’m frustrated with the kind of people who brag about their followers and have the power to send angry mobs at people on Twitter, but really do not have any background in something worthwhile. They’re not people who create stuff.

  106. John David Balla says

    FYI
    June 9: Matt Dillahunty & Jenna Belk
    June 16: Matt Dillahunty & Eric Murphy
    June 23: Matt Dillahunty & Don Baker
    June 30: Matt Dillahunty & Darrel Ray

    That’s an awful lot of Matt Dillahunty.

  107. Murat says

    Reasons to quit may not be fully ideological.
    Maybe they saw that the management was not doing a good job with… ummm… “managing” things, so maybe it’s not really the ideological differences between people, but the fact that these differences were made too visible unnecessarily, that caused some to leave. Just like “secular” people ruling better over different sects and religions simply because they just HAVE TO be technical and can not get emotional even if they wanted to, maybe a theist should be paid to run public relations and other stuff professionally for the ACA, like a blind trust.

  108. t90bb says

    hey just to show you that it was a good thing to block kafei……I need to share this…..it speaks to his ability to rationally think…and explains his position that hallucinations on acid are evidence for god////

    he is actually claiming credit for Tracey, Jen, and John for leaving the aca….HERESS a direct quote from Kafei moments ago..

    “I don’t give a fuck about the freethoughtblogs thread for The Atheist Experience. I managed to take three hosts down with me. Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples and John Iacoletti are no longer on the show! XD”

  109. speedofsound says

    I really want the link too. I think it’s my fault the poor dude got bounced. Well… Mostly his fault for being obtuse but I encouraged him.

  110. speedofsound says

    We should never discuss it again but we should always pay respect, quietly, to the Kerfuffle of 2019.This should be the only words we utter in response to queries.

  111. Murat says

    Wow, you have your way of mysticizing very fresh events with the speed of sound!

  112. Lamont Cranston says

    speedofsound says in #125

    We should never discuss it again but we should always pay respect, quietly, to the Kerfuffle of 2019.This should be the only words we utter in response to queries.

    I too was underwhelmed with what was said (barely a sentence).

    I have my suspicion as to why, but I have no evidence to support my suspicion. My suspicion is related to how poorly the ACA has handled “official” statements therefore leading to “no more statements.”.

    Lamont Cranston

  113. t90bb says

    heres another quote from kafei from reddit talk heathen thread;…

    I hope you like Matt Dillahunty’s shiny bald head as they’ll be replacing Tracie’s breast for the next few weeks. XD

  114. Murat says

    @t90bb
    Are you sure it’s the very same creature that was on here under the name Kafei?
    Sounds like very different and much more direct, much more appalling kind of troll to me than the one that struggled on the blog. I got the feeling someone hijacked the name to perform an extra level of mischief and disrespect.

  115. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Murat 129:

    I’m guessing that he knew he would have gotten banned a lot sooner had he been that direct on the blog itself. His posts here made clear that he has a visceral dislike of Matt and it wouldn’t be surprising if he were cruder elsewhere.

  116. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Murat #129
    It’s 100% Kafei (also his YouTube account). Same guy as Jimmy from San Antonio on AXP/TH/TW.

  117. Murat says

    @WP @AtheisNotAgnostic
    Oh, I had no idea he was that obsessed.
    Maybe he started his communication with the show and its followers on the wrong foot.
    Spending time on communities we like or oppose is normal, especially when we find the energy and option to, but constant and bitter confrontation on the net is not healthy at all.

  118. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Murat #132
    He’s one of the most obsessed people you’ll find. He’s been calling into the show for years and can never get beyond his first assertion becuase he’s such a shitty communicator. Then he comes on this blog, RetSkep, reddit, YouTube comment sections and chats, etc and evangelizes. The only recent guy that’s as omnipresent is Otangelo/”Intelligent Design Academy” and he might actually be more annoying than Jimmy/Kafei.

  119. Murat says

    @EL
    Are you sure these other, new ones are not Jimmy/Kafei in disguise(s)?
    I find the thought of having just one, huge, multi-tantacled troll more comforting 🙂

  120. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Mabus is an old, old one. Read the rationalwiki on him. Definitely not Kafei.

  121. Wiggle Puppy says

    There’s a thread on the AXP’s Facebook discussion page about John, Tracie, and Jen leaving the show, and Jimmy / Kafei has started spamming it with posts about mystical experiences.

    The guy needs help.

  122. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @WP #137
    Did you see what t90bb just posted in the most recent thread on this blog? This dude is fucked up.

  123. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic 138

    Did you mean Kafei is fucked up or did you mean t90bb? I just wanted to make sure to know which of them you are referring to.

  124. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ ANA 138:

    Yeah, I saw it. Kafei is on the Facebook thread denying that he made those posts on Reddit.

    Regardless of whether or not he did, he’s still spamming the Facebook thread with mystical experience junk and whining about how he got banned here because people just didn’t want to hear the truth. He’s the most annoying, least self-aware person I’ve ever come across.

  125. t90bb says

    139….hahhahaha yea it wasn’t clear as to what fucked up one of us Atheistnot Agnostic was referring to!!! lol….

    I think he was referring to Kafei…..but you need to ask him for clarification!!!

    Kafei can deny all he wants…..hes in panic mode now. I specifically offered him a peace offering and asked that he simply apologize and I would delete the screenshots and call it a day. He refused. The man is stubburn as a mule. He thinks he can spin his way out of this like he spins his acid trips.

    If he apologizes let me know because I may start posting his posts tomorrow unless he does.

  126. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #139
    I meant Kafei/Jimmy, not t90bb. Reading that again I can see how ambiguous my wording was!

  127. t90bb says

    142…so john is asking me to post screenshots here…..I will post them tomorrow is anyone wants to teach me how to take the screenshots from my phone and post here I will. I know how to post internet links or youtube videos here…but I don’t know how to post a file on freethought or if it is even permissible.

    I don’t want to make this any worse on jimmy as it needs to be….if he comes forward and apologizes I will delete the screenshots////…I told him this on redditt. Without an apology I will release them. For those of you that think id fuck over someone this way if it were not true…please keep an open mind until I release.

  128. t90bb says

    142 AtheistnotAgnostic…whehhhhhw! thanks for clearing that up I was worried. I like you!

  129. buddyward says

    @t90bb 143

    If you have the screenshots saved in your phone, you can upload them to imgur and then post the links here.

  130. buddyward says

    Here is an example:

    https://imgur.com/a/qxn5kYP

    Note: the images are not stored indefinitely but i think it is available long enough for the purposes of this discussion. If the image gets deleted, you can upload them again and provide a new URL.

  131. t90bb says

    ok…ive had a friend reach out to him and ask him to apologize so I did not need to do this but he is accusing me of being dishonest and claims no one will believe me…..so he told us to go ahead and post……I really tried to not embarrass him. I begged him to just apologize and I would have deleted this and others… BUT he wins

    https://imgur.com/mQ6ZyEO

  132. t90bb says

    I get no joy out of posting that…..man I begged him to just apologize and I would have started deleting them…oh well

  133. tommy403 says

    Not for nothing but I also saw the posting before it was removed. Pretty sad. Especially considering many self righteous theists think you need to believe in God to be moral and decent. Ironic. Obviously he cannot defend himself here. Hopefully we can all move on and let this sheeeet die. XXOOXX

  134. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Welp. Thanks t90bb. Guess I got suckered by the troll. I should have guessed that no way someone was as bad as Kafei.

  135. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    Thanks for that t90bb. I believed you from the start but it’s really tough to see that. Jimmy’s gone completely off the rails. I never had him pegged as that big of a pile of human garbage. This has really been an interesting week to say the least. If anyone here is ever in the Boston/Cambridge area and wants to grab a beer feel free to reach out. We need each other as much as ever out here.

  136. t90bb says

    153…Im not really sure what happened to kafei. I mean I locked horns with him and all, sure. As we all know I can be a bit of a dick. And I did take some fondness to needling him on reddit….but yea….I was rather speechless myself. I begged him to just apologize. Literally for an hour. I would have never posted his posts if he had simply said he was sorry.

    Hes gone on full attack mode now on other social media sites claiming I totally concocted this. Shamelessly lying. To the point he’s even denying he took digs at Matt and other hosts prior to this. Hes gone as far now as to manipulate reddit posts to make it seem like I hurled vile insults at our hosts and that I called myself a disgusting queer (I have self disclosed im gay here and on reddit). His defense appears to be I manipulated reddit somehow. I mean what else can he say.

    oh well….on with the show!

  137. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @t90bb #153
    There’s been ample evidence in the past that Jimmy has an unhealthy obsession with Matt, and to a lesser extent Tracie. He loved to take digs at Matt here out of nowhere. He’s also been showing up on a few Steve McRae streams (not just in the live chats) to bitch and moan about Matt’s position as a “hard” atheist that hides behind “soft/agnostic” atheism on the show and in debates, and of course Steve eats that shit up like ice cream on a 100 degree day. Even with all of this evidence I can’t believe he went full MRA/incel. I even defended him in the past here by saying I didn’t think he was one of them! Just goes to show that when agree that smebody’s gotta go, we’re probably right.

  138. t90bb says

    155..yes buddy….it seems that there was a decision made to confine the discussion about the hosts leaving to a single thread. What is worse now all new posts must be reviewed. I posted a couple the last few weeks and they were pending approval….and that’s the last I heard of them.

    Its been said that many if not all of the old mods were let go, so I am not sure whats going on or what the basis was for that. I disagree with quite a bit of what I am seeing these days. But I will continue to voice my opinions as best I can. We will regain our footing I am sure.

    Sometimes you gotta take one step back to take 2 steps forward. Isnt that what they say?

  139. t90bb says

    I would also like them to reach out to some of the senior members here and ask if they might be willing to moderate here. Hopefully the void recently created will be filled sooner rather than later.

  140. buddyward says

    @t90bb
    156
    For a minute there all of Joe Kerr’s comments were removed from the discussion so it looked like Jimmy was talking to himself with no rebuttals from Joe.

    157

    There are a couple who did reach out to the ACA with regards to volunteering but I think it all fell into deaf ears.

  141. t90bb says

    well that’s a shame lolololol…..

    we are in need of moderation here although all is calm at the moment.

  142. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #158
    I just sent Jamie an email asking what the ACA’s plans for the blog are and offering to moderate it. I’ll update you guys if I heard back from him.

  143. jabbly says

    @t90bb #156

    My understanding is that a lot of the mods quit en-masse due to the RR/ACA kerfuffle and have set-up some atheist progressive/social justice group. Seems a bit strange really as being an atheist doesn’t mean you support those aims and not being an atheist doesn’t mean you don’t.

  144. RationalismRules says

    @Jabbly #163
    These are people for whom rejection of god beliefs is significant to their worldview and commitment to social justice is also significant to their worldview. What is strange about them wanting to join with others who share that combination of priorities?

    not-Stephen

  145. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @jabbly
    I also see no issue with people forming their own group centered around secularism and left wing activism, provided they make that clear up front. To be frank, just because ancaps are atheists doesn’t mean I want to associate with them in all settings.

  146. jabbly says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic

    Why not call themselves secular what ever then as being a theist doesn’t mandate you’re not a secularist. I also have the problem that it’s in someways hijacking the label atheist for something that it is not. If atheism isn’t a worldview, and I certainly don’t feel it is, why imply that it is.

  147. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @jabbly #166
    It’s not hijacking the label. Nobody is claiming that only lefty atheists are “true atheists”. Atheism isn’t a worldview, it’s a component of a worldview. This is evident in the YouTube atheist community, where you have atheists embracing everything from social democracy to reactionary conservatism. In this case, the group in question seems to be for people with a progressive worldview that are also atheists. It doesn’t seem to me that they’re implying that all atheists agree with them because they’re specifically trying to avoid atheists that disagree with them, which is acknowledging that atheists aren’t a monolith.

  148. jabbly says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic

    That some people like to associate their worldview with being an atheist doesn’t mean atheism is, or more correctly should be, a component of a worldview. For you average West European atheist that label is as much a part of their world view as not believing in leprechauns.

  149. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @jabbly #168

    That some people like to associate their worldview with being an atheist doesn’t mean atheism is, or more correctly should be, a component of a worldview.

    But atheism is necessarily a component of any worldview that doesn’t include a god. If you live your life as if there are no gods, then atheism is a component of your worldview. I don’t know how you can avoid this. I suppose you could drill father down and say that my atheism is a result of skepticism, but then you still have the issue of skepticism being a part of my worldview. Also, not all atheists come to their atheism through skepticism.

    For you average West European atheist that label is as much a part of their world view as not believing in leprechauns.

    What I wrote above applies to atheists in majority atheist countries in Western Europe, Just because they don’t have to emphasize it doesn’t mean that their worldview isn’t shaped by their atheism.

  150. RationalismRules says

    @Jabbly
    Does “The Atheist Community of Austin” imply that all atheists live in Austin? Or that all people who live in Austin are Atheists?

    By writing songs about atheism, is Shelley Segal hijacking the atheist label to imply that atheism is about songwriting?

    Why are you trying to make social justice issues into a special case that must be treated differently from every other?

    not-Stephen

  151. jabbly says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic

    I think this is possibly where our perspective differs. Believing in a god(s) certainly does shape one’s worldview but the lack of that belief just means an absence of that worldview not that it is a worldview. For me you’re placing to much importance on the theist worldview. So for example, no one really says that being a Buddhist shapes your worldview because they aren’t say a Christian, they say it shapes your worldview because Buddhism is a worldview in of itself.

  152. jabbly says

    @RationalismRules

    Because associating atheism with social justice issues just perpetuates the myth that being an atheist is some sort of worldview. The sooner the term atheist becomes an irrelevance the better.

  153. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Because associating atheism with social justice issues just perpetuates the myth that being an atheist is some sort of worldview.

    Let me channel PZ Myers. Atheism is not a worldview. It’s just a specific position (including the “I don’t know” position) on a specific question. However, atheists have worldviews, and most atheists share a common worldview of science, skepticism, and once long ago I would have said secular humanism too. This is because atheists are humans, and humans tend to share things in common because of our shared biology and our shared universe. There are only so many ways of navigating our shared universe. Consequently, while it is possible for someone to be an atheist without being a skeptic, being an atheist and being a skeptic tend to go hand in hand. Denying this is silly.

    I suspect that the only reason why people care so deeply about “atheism is only a specific position to a specific question” is that these people don’t like secular humanism (and social justice), and that’s why they rail so hard against the rest of us who do want to associate atheism with bettering the human condition. The rest of us say that if it comes to a choice between atheism and humanism, then we’ll choose humanism every time. If it comes to a choice between allying with a jerkwad atheist like Michael Shermer or allying with a progressive religious preacher, we’ll ally with the progressive religious preacher practically every time. This is because most of us came to our atheist position because, ultimately, we want to improve our own lives and the lives of others. We care about the truth in part for its own value, but most of us care about the truth because knowing the truth is the best way to make the world into a better place for everyone, and that is the ultimate goal.

  154. paxoll says

    EL, exactly what positions does Michael Shermer hold that a “progressive” religious preacher would be against that you don’t agree with? I don’t know who he is and have never listened, to him, so please enlighten me and anyone else to what Shermer believes that a progressive preacher would be against so that you would support the preacher over him?

  155. jabbly says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    Let me channel myself, PZ Myers really should use his passport a bit more.

  156. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To paxoll
    Re Michael Shermer. I generally don’t like suspected rapists and abusers. Also, I hate libertarians. I hate libertarians more than I hate Republicans. Libertarians are the scum of the Earth. I could go on for a while.

    To jabbly
    Noted and logged.

  157. paxoll says

    @EL, soooo…. there isn’t a position Shermer holds that you would disagree with? You don’t like him because you have a strong suspicion he raped someone? So you are not saying you would side with a progressive preacher over him, you would simply support a progressive preacher while denying Shermer support. It sounds like it doesn’t actually matter what Shermer is doing you would not support him regardless of what he was doing and regardless of any alternative options.

  158. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To paxoll
    I spent over half my words saying how he’s a libertarian. That’s definitely a policy position, a whole lot of them that are evil. He wouldn’t be a good ally on many social justice issues. Also, given that he’s probably a serial rapist, he probably isn’t the best ally on social justice issues.

  159. jabbly says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    No problems as it’s one of my bugbears that being an atheist means it was a positive choice from critically examining the claims of religion. Now I’d assume in a country, like the US, where religion plays an important part in life that is generally true. Somewhere like the U.K., it really isn’t. Indeed I know a lot of people who don’t believe in god who can write down what they know of Christian claims in a single tweet.

  160. paxoll says

    @EL
    No you didn’t say he was a libertarian, you poorly implied he was a libertarian by listing a bunch of things you don’t like. Also libertarian is hardly a political position, it is a political identity. What does a republican believe? You can say, “most” believe x,y,z, (likely most would be strawman) but you don’t know what that person believes. Does Shermer believe we should have no social safety nets organized by government and paid by tax dollars? Does Shermer believe we should be able to own and carry any weapon we want? Does Shermer believe public businesses and governments should be able to discriminate anyway they feel like because capitalism and democracy will correct the bad behavior? Shermer may be a disgusting sack of shit, but you have given me absolutely no reason to believe so or treat him so.

  161. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    No you didn’t say he was a libertarian, you poorly implied he was a libertarian by listing a bunch of things you don’t like.

    Also libertarian is hardly a political position, it is a political identity.

    Do you have a purpose with your pedantry? My meaning was clear.

    Shermer may be a disgusting sack of shit, but you have given me absolutely no reason to believe so or treat him so.

    Wait – what? So being a likely serial rapist is not good enough to characterize someone as a “disgusting sack of shit”. What the fuck?

  162. paxoll says

    @EL
    I don’t know if he is a rapist, serial rapist, or anything, I just have you calling him a “likely” one. I’m guessing he hasn’t admitted to being a rapist, or been convicted of being a rapist. So I would have to be presented with some evidence of his behaviors as well as his counter explanations, and then I would likely hold a tentative position that he likely is a piece of shit that raped someone. Granted, he doesn’t need to be a rapist to be a piece of shit, a simple demonstration of him behaving like a piece of shit would suffice.

  163. paxoll says

    Ok, so a kid made a mistake, years later the mistake is brought to light and he apologizes for it. Mr. Shermer, who appears to have some kind of axe to grind with Harvard, gives the kid good advice how to accept rejection like an adult, and this is evidence of what? Did Mr. Shermer say somewhere that the kid had nothing to apologize for? Did Mr. Shermer tell the kid that what he did was just freedom of speech and he should try and sue? Shapiro on the other hand was hyperbolic, and from things I’ve heard him say in the news and on social media, have come to the conclusion that he is a shitty human being.

  164. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll
    Schermer also called noted alt-right cult leader Stefan Molyneux “one of the most articulate podcasters for reason” and then feigned ignorance when called out on this. There’s no way to spin this one. I’ll admit I’m not terribly familiar with all of his views but this one exchange alone tells me a lot about the guy.
    Source: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/05/31/as-long-as-shermer-is-a-respected-skeptic-movement-skepticism-will-be-an-embarrassment/

  165. paxoll says

    @ANA
    Myers blog is trash. To pretend that the conservative regressive right does not have articulate and influential demagogues is why Myers and his ilk are about as useful as useful as lipstick on a pig. No how matter how bad Shapiro and Molyneux reasoning and inferred motivations are, pretending like they are not extremely good at what they do and ignoring their actual arguments based on the inferred motivations is exactly why they have millions of subscribers/views and Myers has squat. Myers spends so much time with ad hominem attacks, strawman arguments against these kinds of people that no one with any intellectual integrity bothers to pay attention to him. At least hes good at biology though.

  166. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll

    To pretend that the conservative regressive right does not have articulate and influential demagogues

    I don’t deny this at all. To deny this would be absurd. Idk if PZ Myers does because I’m not a devoted follower of him, I just happened to agree with his take in this one blog post. Shapiro and Peterson are both as articulate and wildly influential as they are wrong.

    No how matter how bad Shapiro and Molyneux reasoning and inferred motivations are

    I don’t think Shapiro’s motivations are inherently bad. I think he’s a true believer in what he says, unlike the clear grifters like Rubin and Candace Owens. I know less about Molyneux so I’ll be charitable and assume he’s sincere. TMM’s recent video called ‘Grifting 101’ is pretty close to my current views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoD2gq8S2nc

    pretending like they are not extremely good at what they do

    They are excellent at what they do: separate afraid conservatives from their cash and time.

    ignoring their actual arguments based on the inferred motivations

    Maybe Myers himself does this, I’m not familiar with his entire back catalog. But you can find thousands of YouTube videos from skeptics, atheists and lefties that utterly demolish their arguments. Their arguments have been addressed plenty of times; they rarely bring anything new to the table.

  167. paxoll says

    @ANA
    So he decries Shermers stating “one of the most articulate podcasters for reason”. And from your comment you seem to agree with Shermer. He then goes on to read Shermers mind and call him a liar when he states that he didn’t know of Molyneux stances, but IF it was true than that means Shermer is shitty at his job. Ok, nice opinion of such intellectual dishonesty that it makes me dumber reading it. I can barely stand to listen to anything Peterson or Shapiro much less Molyneux puts out, but Myers puts himself below them by not even addressing their arguments. The fact that others have addressed the arguments “plenty of times” is pretty irrelevant because youtube or articles are not debates/discussions, they are people preaching from a podium. Which is why this trans athlete bullshit is still going on and neither side is accurately representing the arguments. Which is the thing that makes Myers “as useless as lipstick on a pig” is the fact that not only does he not address these “articulate” peoples arguments, but he is putting down and deriding those people that choose to engage.

    Don’t feel like this vitriol is directed at you personally. Like I said to EL, Shermer might be a complete garbage human being, but I don’t come here to read a bunch of unsubstantiated, intellectually dishonest bullcrap that is not even relevant to the topics of discussion. I am happy to see wrong facts, and unsound or invalid arguments here as long as when someone points out their errors they respond honestly. I had to scrap an entire paragraph of this because I was making inferences from Myers blog post that were not reasonable from the specific text of that blog and I am too lazy to chase down any other of his posts that might have supported the inference.

  168. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll
    You seem to have a major bone to pick with PZ, so you’ll have to take that up with him. I’m not a huge fan of his personally so I don’t feel the need to defend him as a person, and either way PZ’s reputation has no bearing on Shermer’s.

    So he decries Shermers stating “one of the most articulate podcasters for reason”. And from your comment you seem to agree with Shermer.

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough before: I 100% disagree with Shermer on this issue. Molyneux is NOT an “articulate podcaster for reason” IMO.

    He then goes on to read Shermers mind and call him a liar when he states that he didn’t know of Molyneux stances, but IF it was true than that means Shermer is shitty at his job.

    Yes, if Shermer didn’t research his guest before the podcast, he’s shitty at his job.

    I can barely stand to listen to anything Peterson or Shapiro much less Molyneux puts out

    Cool, we agree.

    Shermer might be a complete garbage human being, but I don’t come here to read a bunch of unsubstantiated, intellectually dishonest bullcrap that is not even relevant to the topics of discussion.

    If by “topic of the discussion”, you mean “is Shermer a shitbag?” then referencing a tweet he made is absolutely relevant. We both agree that Molyneux is a shitbag, so no need to rehash why. The argument I was trying to make is that Shermer endorsing and sharing his platform with a widely known shitbag like Molyneux makes it more likely that he’s a shitbag. That’s it. If you disagree with that we can discuss it.

  169. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @myself

    and sharing his platform

    This appears to be incorrect. Shermer went on Molyneux’s show, not the other way around.

  170. paxoll says

    @ANA
    So you think he is not an articulate podcaster and that he has a massive following “for reason”? Also, how is this “endorsing”, what position did Shermer endorse of his? See, this is the intellectually dishonest claims that is highly irritating. Hitler was an articulate and charismatic man, and going to talk with Hitler about whatever topic is certainly not endorsing him unless you ACTUALLY endorse him.

  171. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll
    Dude, read the tweet again. He called Molyneux “an articulate podcaster for reason” not “for A reason”. He’s endorsing Molyneux as an articulate guy that’s fighting FOR reason. Shermer considers him “reasonable”. I’ll cut him some slack because there’s certain short spurts where he can look that way but 30 seconds of googling will lead you to the piles of evidence that Molyneux’s a deranged kook. I don’t see how this is “intellectually dishonest” when I’m not even making an intellectual argument. I’m just stating my opinion that if you knowing associate with shitbags instead of not, you’re more likely to be one yourself. I haven’t read any of Shermer’s work so I can’t say for sure; maybe Molyneux is a lone exception and on everything else he’s good, but I don’t care enough about him to do any more research.

  172. paxoll says

    @ANA
    OK so Shermer is praising Molyneux for his ability to make reasonable arguments. This is before he finds out that Molyneux is espousing a bunch of hateful rhetoric. Probably would be best for anyone commenting on his tweet to actually watch the interview no? I don’t know what they talked about. You don’t know. Myers doesn’t know. Myers is essentially being a massive hypocrite for griping about Shermers ignorance about his interviewer, while being completely ignorant about what discussion happened. Considering Molyneux has a HUGE following, and the very few times I have actually watched him, he is extremely articulate and whether or not his reasoning is sound, he is not making his arguments based on charisma and emotion, he is (purposefully in my opinion) twisting reasoning to his agenda. If you give him a charitable benefit of the doubt, he appears to be simply wrong with his reasoning. I have absolutely no reason to doubt that the tweet is a valid opinion based on his experience, and see no endorsement of any position Molyneux holds.
     
    A perfect analogy is a girl goes out on a date with a scumbag, the next day she tells her friend what a great guy he is, while her friend is like that guy is the scum of the earth who does all sorts of horrible things to women. Ok, it doesn’t mean the girl didn’t have a really good time with someone who didn’t do anything wrong to her. So just call her stupid for falling for his lies and act.

    if you knowingly associate with shitbags

    So at what point did you decide that Shermer knowingly associated with the shitbag and therefore is reason enough to conclude he is one too? Seems like that whole second tweet needs to be ignored or dismissed as a complete lie to get to that conclusion.
     
    Ok, I’m done defending someone who may actually be a vile rapist, because I am trying to point out how wrong ad hominem is, and how unreasonable these positions are. I care about getting to a true conclusion and if the worst scumbag on earth presents a valid argument it does a disservice to myself any everyone around me to dismiss it based on who it came from.

  173. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll

    You don’t know

    I haven’t watched the interview and I don’t plan to. I know Molyneux’s shtick already and I don’t care enough about Shermer to waste time on him. I know nothing about him besides what I could glean from his tweet history from the last few weeks or so, which amounts to about 20 mins of research. Apparently he has some books and edits the Skeptic magazine (never heard of it) but my reading list is a mile long so I doubt I’ll get to it.

    Considering Molyneux has a HUGE following

    I don’t know why this matters. Plenty of people with poor reasoning skills and/or odious views have millions of subs (see PragerU, Shapiro, Crowder).

    I have absolutely no reason to doubt that the tweet is a valid opinion based on his experience, and see no endorsement of any position Molyneux holds.

    See, I think this whole disagreement comes down to semantics. To me, the compliment (articulate podcaster for reason” is an endorsement of the man and his show as a whole, not the single conversation you just had. If Shermer had said “Just had an interesting conversation with Molyneux about X” and left it at that, I wouldn’t think he was endorsing Molyneux as a whole, just the conversation. Maybe I’m being needlessly pedantic, but this is how I saw the tweet when I read it.

    Seems like that whole second tweet needs to be ignored or dismissed as a complete lie to get to that conclusion.

    I’ll admit that the two opposing explanations of the tweets are the he’s either a shitbag who’s lying because he got called out or a lazy idiot who’s owning up to it. I personally find it more likely that he knew about Molyneux and wanted to have the conversation anyways just because of how little effort it would take to research Molyneux and how people with large platforms usually operate. How many times have we seen issues where people don’t vet who they’re appearing with and it comes back to bite them? If Shermer cares about his image he’ll do some research. I know I can’t see inside his head but I just have a hard time believing that he does no research on people he appears with. At the end of the day though, why does it matter? I’m not going to spend my time or money on him either way. I’m not going to write hit pieces on him in major publications or interact with him in person. I’ll probably never think of the guy again once this conversation is over.

    Ok, I’m done defending someone who may actually be a vile rapist

    Cool, I’m done attacking a guy that may just be a lazy idiot and not a shitbag.

    wrong ad hominem is

    Yes, ad hom is a fallacy. You may think I’m being unreasonable or too tough on the guy but I’m not using an ad hom. I’m not saying “he’s wrong because he’s a shitbag”, I’m saying “I find it likely that he’s a shitbag”. I’ve never even brought up any of his positions so I don’t know how I could be making an ad hom. Again, this is probably just us using different definitions.

    if the worst scumbag on earth presents a valid argument it does a disservice to myself any everyone around me to dismiss it based on who it came from

    I agree 100%.

  174. paxoll says

    @ANA

    At the end of the day though, why does it matter? I’m not going to spend my time or money on him either way.

    While I find your belief about him to lack sufficient evidence, this wasn’t about you personally. It started when EL brought him up, and you brought up Myers. Both are actively trying to harm this person, and neither are doing so based on any position he is holding (that I can tell).

  175. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll
    Fair enough. I’m not going to attack or defend Myers, that’s a separate issue. I admit I can’t “prove” that Shermer had ill intent, but I’m also not trying to active harm him in any way. I would certainly expect more evidence if I was going to act on this hunch in any way. FWIW I’m gonna challenge myself to listen to the 80 min interview later tonight.

  176. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Both are actively trying to harm this person, and neither are doing so based on any position he is holding (that I can tell).

    Then you’re not trying at all to investigate the numerous allegations of rape and sexual misconduct. Also, it’s a given that he’s quite libertarian, and that alone is an evil position, and you seem to have completely forgotten about this point – maybe because you don’t think libertarians are evil, but I do.

    PS:

    Myers blog is trash

    This likely tells me all I need to know about you. You picked the wrong side in this atheism civil war.

  177. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll, EL
    Just finished the interview. There wasn’t any talk of Molyneux’s race realism and de-fooing shit so that’s maybe why he looked sane to Shermer. IMO there was still a lot of BS being flung around though. They got their laughs in at the expense of the “regressive left”, proposed lassiez-faire capitalism as the solution to basically everything and whined about secular culture replacing god with the state. Shermer didn’t push back at all (I’ll take this to mean he basically agreed with everything said). It was a classic IDW back-patting session. For a guy that founded Skeptic magazine, he sure as hell didn’t seem so skeptical to me. It’s ok to disagree with me and/or agree with the “classical liberals” but at least push back a bit for the sake of increasing the depth of the discussion. No need to be hostile but some substantive back and forth would have been more interesting. It felt like a Davin Rubin interview with all the smugness yet nothing of substance being said. Obviously I can’t conclusively judge him based off 80 minutes of tape but if it turns out that he’s just another IDW/Quillette “thinker” that’d be disappointing because he sounded like a really smart guy and was a good speaker.

  178. paxoll says

    @ANA
    Wow, good for you for putting forth the effort. I find all those self congratulatory bullshit interviews you see on every Rubin show just pitiful and is fairly good evidence that they are either not smart enough, or sophisticated enough in their thinking to address topics beyond their expertise. If Shermer did that, than I certainly don’t think he is worth spending any time listening to.
    &nbsp
    @EL
    I don’t care. If you don’t want people to like him or support him, than provide that evidence. Again, it doesn’t matter if an argument is presented by the shittiest person in the world, it it is valid and sound then I have the integrity to agree and not dismiss it out of hand. It is literally the definition of an ad hominem argument.

  179. says

    @paxoll
    From this post,
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2019/06/16/open-thread-for-episode-23-25-matt-eric-murphy/#comment-666675

    I’m coming to this as an individual with my own opinion. So when the subject is whose opinion is most relevant don’t twist that into “no right to an opinion”. That’s the dishonesty. If a cis woman or trans woman says your opinion shouldn’t be driving the conversation you better have a good response for them or I will critisize you.

    That’s what’s happening. And I’m also to consider myself obligated to let cis women and trans women determine my conduct while they sort this out. You voice means less, deal with it. It’s not silencing as others have hyperbolically suggested, it’s criticism and you can all address the substance of what people are saying even if the tone makes you feel bad.

    I will be making criticisms even though I am not a sports fan. I don’t accept that shit from people in the military, cops and I’m not accepting it from you. Matt can have Matt’s reasons and you will just have to deal with seeing people and things you care about get critisized.

    And finally I will pretend that the stories we tell about groups of people are bullshit when appropriate. I’ve constantly got my nose buried in a journal article* about human behavior and if I want you to justify an assumption I’ll press you on it if I want.

    Now that we’re slapping one another like elephant seals my next post will use words like bigotry and sexism and transphobia so you might want to think about how to be objective about that, which you have shown me you have when you tried to pressure me into accepting that non-sports fans shouldn’t comment on this “cause authority figure said so”.

    *Currently
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10548-016-0525-z

  180. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll
    In Shermer’s case I’m sure he’s smart enough to see that large portions of his libertarian philosophy have been debunked, he’s just not applying his skepticism to them. It’s easy for a guy like him to intentionally isolate himself in an echo chamber with the IDW and therefore never have to be confronted. I bet if a lefty atheist like Kyle Kulinski or David Pakman wanted to have a discussion on social democracy vs libertarianism he’d run away so fast you’d think he’s Usain Bolt. It’s just not profitable for him to do that. He’d rather keep ripping off the rubes and getting his knob slobbered by grifters like Rubin than get exposed for just another smart guy who fell victim to confirmation bias like basically everyone else. Sorry for the mini-rant; the whole IDW con game just drives me nuts.

  181. paxoll says

    @Brony
    Lol, wow, I can see this is going to be an absolute waste of time from your hypocritical position. What determines your relevancy of opinion since you seem very intent on minimizing everyone else while maintaining your own? Sorry, but this is ad hominiem and I refuse to pay any attention to an argument based on it. What opinions matter to me are ones that are logically sound, scientifically evidenced (to determine if those opinions reflect what is true about reality), and last AND least, those who have the most impact on how those opinions effect others. It doesn’t matter if Trumps opinions are batshit crazy, what matters is that they are batshit crazy AND he can influence the whole world with them. So please, if you plan on telling me that I should consider essence of thoughts opinions to be more relevant than rationality rules because of their sex and gender identity, feel free to simply not bother speaking to me.
     
    @ANA
    I do not know Shermers libertarian views and you would have to present one for me to consider. Like I said earlier, Libertarian is not a view, it is simply a self identification and I have no clue what his philosophies are related to that identity. I bet I could present political positions that the vast majority of the political left and most of the IDW would completely agree on, but from what I’ve seen the IDW wants to use ambiguous language to pander to the right by playing victims, which they are complete hypocrites for decrying that exact tactic as dishonest and politically left.

  182. jabbly says

    @Brony

    How does that address any of the points in the post you have responded to. You pretty much just said your opinion doesn’t really count, for reasons, but my opinion does count, for reasons. When are we moving to the level of, your argument doesn’t count as I don’t agree with it?

  183. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll
    I’m not sure exactly where on the libertarian spectrum he falls because I’ve only listened to 80 minutes of him but I found these two blog posts to be a decent indication he’s not applying his skepticism to his economic views.
    Here’s Shermer, not an economist, blaming the 2008 market collapse on not enough deregulation: https://www.skepticblog.org/2008/12/09/regulation-schmegulation/
    Here’s Shermer, not an expert in education policy, advocating for privatizing our public school system without presenting even a hint of actual evidence that this would be beneficial:

    [W]e may as a society make the value judgment that it would be good if every child received a basic K–12 education. I agree with this value judgment, and would add to it the value judgment that it would be equally important for every child to have a computer and Internet access because that is the future of education. So we share that value judgment. However, the next question is a pragmatic one: who is going to pay for this education (and computers/Internet)? Parents? Churches? NGOs? Charities? Government? If the latter — the value judgment we have made — then do parents get to choose among the various government schools of where to send their children? (No.) Do parents who choose to send their children to private schools have to also pay for government schools? (Yes.) Is that fair? You make that value judgment. I don’t think that it is fair. To be consistent, if you are pro-choice on abortion you should also be pro-choice on education. The deeper value judgment here is being pro-choice about everything. Choice = freedom.

    Source: https://michaelshermer.com/2009/07/mixing-science-and-politics-and-economics/
    Yes, these pieces are both 10+ years old but based on his Molyneux interview and association with the IDW I seriously doubt he’s done a full 180 on the opinions expressed in these posts. I think this conversation has run its course so I hope we’ve been able to come to some understanding of Shermer.

  184. paxoll says

    While I find both of those statements unsupported by any evidence as you point out, I don’t see the education one being unreasonable. If you pay the government for education of your children, than that money should be proportioned to each child regardless of the school. The sticking point that he did not address in that post is that the mandate of government control equals some regulation of that education. I do not think anyone questions that a child should have the government support of education, what they don’t want is a child not getting the quality of education expected from that government support. I certainly do not want my tax money going to some religious homeschool education that does not adequately teach science. Public schools are great and no where in that quote was he ever

    advocating for privatizing our public school system without presenting even a hint of actual evidence that this would be beneficial:

    . So either you are pulling that conclusion out of some evidence not provided, or you pulled it out of a very bias inference.

  185. paxoll says

    @ANA
    Also, this has never been an issue with actually proving Shermer is a piece of shit. This has been all about making baseless claims, using ad hominem, and other intellectually dishonest argumentation techniques. You appear to be honest in your effort even if your claim of his privatization of public school was unsupported. But if you noticed other instances where this kind of error is pointed out, the response is not “oh, let me find you that quote/reference that demonstrates my point”, no, the response is more dishonest argumentation with moving goalposts, red herrings, or quote mining…. That is what pisses me off and while I am usually pretty charitable when it first occurs, thinking that the individual is just very emotionally motivated by the topic, but after 2 or 3 posts not acknowledging their errors and my charity runs dry. If this forum gets saturated with that kind of discourse, I’m gone. And those kind of dishonest actors will probably be happy to see me go.

  186. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To paxoll
    Originally, this started with you asking:

    EL, exactly what positions does Michael Shermer hold that a “progressive” religious preacher would be against that you don’t agree with?

    That is the question that I attempted to answer.

    Then, recently you wrote:

    Also, this has never been an issue with actually proving Shermer is a piece of shit. This has been all about making baseless claims, using ad hominem, and other intellectually dishonest argumentation techniques.

    I don’t even know what this is supposed to mean. What baseless claims am I making, unless it is claims that Shermer is a piece of shit? It seems like you’re contradicting yourself here.

    I never purported to give courtroom level evidence that Shermer is a piece of shit. Yet, it seems that this is what you want. I re-read some of the thread, and it seems that you would demand a legal criminal conviction or a personal confession to agree that he’s a serial rapist. I have no intention to provide that sort of evidence to you right now. The very notion is offensive – specifically, the idea that I should not claim that’s likely a serial rapist without that sort of extremely strong and specific evidence. This seems to be the real point of contention. I suspect that your real problem is that I accused someone of being a serial rapist without this sort of extremely specific and extremely strong sort of evidence. It seems that you reject this sort of general “gossiping” and information-spreading. Similarly, I suspect that you would be one of the first people to talk about the problems with the #MeToo movement. This seems to be an unbridgeable divide. I’ll again say that I’d rather be in a social movement with progressive Christian preacher than atheists like what you seemingly are – someone who is more concerned about protecting the likely serial rapist than protecting the many women that he’s likely raped.

  187. paxoll says

    Lol, there we go,

    I suspect that you would be one of the first people to talk about the problems with the #MeToo movement.

    No, EL, I wouldn’t have a problem if you said Shermer raped me #MeToo. I have a problem with this unsubstantiated claim that I…

    seemingly are – someone who is more concerned about protecting the likely serial rapist than protecting the many women that he’s likely raped.

    Never has that been implied in anything I’ve said, and the fact that you throw shit like that around is absolutely fucken disgusting. If me defending honest reasoning and argument is evidence that I’m some kind of rape apologist, I suggest you go the fuck back to pharyngula or wherever you normally lurk.

  188. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And now I don’t even know what your position is. You’re like a slimy weasel, refusing to stake out a position, only making pedantic critiques of other people’s position. I say again, I said that Shermer is a scumbag, and I provided something to elucidate my position, and then you shifted the goalposts to demanding that I prove it to a court-of-law standard, and I object strongly to that move.

  189. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Summary from my perspective.

    173. I state that I care primarily about social justice, and atheism as a social movement is secondary to me. I used Shermer as an example of an atheist that I would not want to ally or associate with. I’d prefer if he would be kicked out and shunned by the mainstream atheist movement.

    174. You asked me to clarify about Shermer.

    176. I accused him of being a libertarian and serial rapist.

    177. You play dumb. I really don’t know what you’re trying to do here. You’re just wasting both of our time here.

    178. I persist, and clarify further.

    180. You act like a smartass. You make ridiculous asinine claims like “Also libertarian is hardly a political position, it is a political identity”. This appears to be the first place where you attempt to place a strong burden of proof on me to show that Shermer is an asshat – although the exact burden of proof was not yet clear.

    181. I call you on some of your smartass shenanigans. I also responded to your claim “you have given me absolutely no reason to believe so or treat him so” which is also asinine. Just me alone saying that he’s probably a serial rapist is more than “absolutely no reason”.

    182. You move the goalposts from “absolutely no reason” to (paraphase) “no reason to believe that it’s likely”. Well, I never set out to do that, and I don’t know why you would expect that. You were just asking me to explain my position – not providing definitive proof that I’m right.

    183. I attempted to provide some evidence to back up my accusations that Shermer is an asshat. This link was fresh in my mind, having just read it few days ago.

    184. You defend the extremely racist kid by minimizing what he did. This is about the point where I suspected that you’re a 4chan regular or the like. This is also the point where I started to suspect that you’re also scum like Shermer.

    186. You attack PZ Myers. This changed my mere suspicion to a strong (tentative) conclusion that you are a sack of shit. You also defend Shermer from attack by saying that he’s good, and imply that we should therefore overlook the fact that he’s a racist, serial rapist, and libertarian.

    188. More pathetic defenses of the horribleness of Shermer.

    191. More pedantic grasping at straws.

    193. And more.

    195. “Both are actively trying to harm this person, and neither are doing so based on any position he is holding (that I can tell).” And again, you defend the serial rapist, racist, libertarian. Why? I don’t know, except the likely possibility that you are sympathetic to his rape-y, racist, libertarian ways.

    And that’s about the end of the useful part of the summary. Again, I don’t know why you’re going so far out of your way to disingenuously and dishonestly defend a serial rapist, racist, libertarian.

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