Comments

  1. John David Balla says

    For what it’s worth most of Matt’s cohost bring little value to the show. Sometimes I wonder why they’re even there. Jenna was different, sort of a Yin to Matt’s Yang. While Matt is so adept at picking apart most any argument — he’s been doing this for fifteen years, after all — Jenna has the very personal touch you can’t fake that can engage the callers in ways that Matt can’t. She’s very disarming, sincere, and clearly relatable to so many who watch the show. I hope the powers that be take notice. This can be the beginning of a great team.

    (Not a peep out of Matt about Tracie leaving. I know he values her greatly. Maybe it’s too personal to bring up. Despite hsi brave face this has to be difficult.)

    John

  2. t90bb says

    so….just to assure you that the blog got it correct by banning Kafei here is a direct quote from him off the reddit threads of talk health….

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

    that’s what we were dealing with…fyi

  3. t90bb says

    that’s the last ill post of him…just found it interesting that that’s the caliber of person we were all dealing with…

  4. Lamont Cranston says

    John David Balla says in #2

    Jenna has the very personal touch you can’t fake that can engage the callers in ways that Matt can’t. She’s very disarming, sincere, and clearly relatable to so many who watch the show. I hope the powers that be take notice. This can be the beginning of a great team.

    I noted she contributed a number of times during the show, not the least of which was quickly picking up the need for a suggestion to the last caller that he might want to avail himself of the Secular Therapist Project. She beat Matt to that one and he seconded her recommendation. Good catch on her part and Matt’s as well.

    The whole last call was rather intense once you figured out what was really going on starting at 1:47:00. I was please to see Matt recognizing the need for some off-program follow-up discussion to what was already a 20 minute call.

    With regard to any mention of what has transpired, I noted at least two brief and rather vague references. Once to the “kerfuffle” right near the beginning of the program and the other reference during the last call to bad things he has experienced in the last couple of weeks.

    Lamont Cranston

  5. John David Balla says

    #5 Lamont Cranston
    >>The whole last call was rather intense once you figured out what was really going on starting at 1:47:00. I was please to see Matt recognizing the need for some off-program follow-up discussion to what was already a 20 minute call.

    Agreed. I can see why Matt wanted to talk to Sean after the show. In fact, after listening to the call again, it was if Matt was channeling Tracie in the way he got so personal and intimate. It doesn’t get more real than that.

    I had a friend who was struggling with a heroin addiction reach out to me on occasion just to talk and express herself as best she could. The last time we talked she asked me if she could call me in the morning as she was pretty wasted that night. She was just released from the hospital after receiving staples in her head from splitting her skull earlier that night. Anyway, she ended up calling but I missed her. I think I was in the shower.

    Two days later I was told she had died.

    John

  6. John David Balla says

    #7 Gino
    We were informed by a John Iocoletti post last week (June 5th) that he, Jen Peeples, and Tracie Harris have all left the ACA. Soon after, John edited his original post to exclude Jen and Tracie, not because they’re leaving wasn’t true, but rather, because he felt he should not be speaking for them. As best I know neither Jen or Tracie have made any public statements since. That said, it’s not in dispute that all three are no longer part of the ACA.
    John

  7. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Gino #7:

    Tracie leaving? What’s that all about?

    Thread 23.19:
    – #350 group statement from some of the volunteers leaving,
    – #351 awkward phone call when Jen and Tracie were on Axp,
    #352 EoT sumary,
    #361 PSA summary,
    #367 GodlessBitches Intersectionality panel,
    – #372/#373 John Iacoletti leaving w/o much comment (At first, he mentioned Tracie and Jen had left, too. Then he edited them out to only speak for himself),
    – #375 Kendall Hopkins (Parenting Beyond Belief host) leaving
     
    No statements from Tracie and Jen themselves.

  8. yorkshiregeek says

    I also surprised to hear John, Tracie, Jens moving on, there isn’t statements as to why, but yes the commitment to ACA such as AXP hosting, is quite an effort.

    Collectively TAE is making a community service, it does offer support recent de-converts, give them someone to talk to, as well as allowing to refute common god arguments.

    How much of a difference do we think the show does? How many atheists have been convered to theist due to a caller? I would hazard none. How many theists with doubt got de-converted with help from the show? I’d hazard hundreds to thousands.

    My own deconversion took about 10 seconds when I was aged 15. I simply asked myself if god existed. Bang. Atheist. I didn’t know the word. Never had heard the argument. So for me it is immediately obvious simple. No god evidence. God is illogical.

    But it took me, say, 8 years til I figured out the collateral damage. What is the purpose of life. What is good, bad. Why anything? That lack of a world view given to you with certainty, and figured it all for yourself from scratch is much harder. So I can understand the theist use of god of the gaps, special pleading, circular arguments, as the mind evades itself trying to keep in a comforting false sense of reality. Theists are not stupid, if you changed the word god into something else, they’d be just as qualified to me to prove it invalid. Change say “god” to “unicorn”. A book says unicorns exist, and it was based in Israel so must be true, and loads of people believe in unicorns, so must be true, and I heard once that someone saw two unicorns dancing in a field, so there is evidence, and in a book there’s lots of unicorns, the book says is eye witness testimony, its got dozens of witnesses to unicorns in it, etc. So a theist can spot a sham, they just choose to not in the god claim. So the easy part is when you apply logic and the rules of evidence to god claim, it rapidly becomes hoccum. But if you spent your life believing in unicorns then realise it isn’t true, what do you believe instead?

    As to atheist vs anti-theist, my effort to reject theist claims is proportional the damage they do. To, say, a right to an abortion due to god claim, is harmful. But if you close you eyes once a day and wish for things….. I’ll let you have that delusion quietly.

  9. jabbly says

    @yorkshiregeek

    I can’t say I every really believed in god as such. I grew up in a non-religious household and religion just wasn’t a thing at school especially once past primary school. It was only later in life that I’d got to a ‘positive’ position that god(s) doesn’t exist. Before that it wasn’t a question that had any real relevance to me.

  10. Orm says

    I really liked new co-host Jenna Belk. A lot of the time the co-hosts seem to find it a bit difficult to get a word in when Matt’s hosting the show but I thought Jenna had some good arguments. I hope to hear more from her in the future.

  11. jabbly says

    Just finished watching the call with Duke and boy, that was hard work. Unless you can come up with an alternative explanation then I’m going for the one I have no evidence for. How doesn’t someone get into a position where they think that’s reasonable?

  12. Murat says

    The issue about weather prayer works or not was not discussed properly as it was not the correct path to go down. Clint was right at the beginning about why the question was not really a Yes/No thing. The act of praying may work as it invokes positive thinking. Matt had previously acknowledged that in another episode by referring to how praying worked with trapped mountain climbers physically, mental conditions affecting their blood flow etc. The way Jenna said she was indoctrinated about prayer is not one I am familiar with. “Just close your eyes and pray and it will pass” is not really the kind of belief many religious people hold. Saying things to yourself or to a supposed deity without any supporting mood, action or expectation is not the “act” of praying. I think they got sidetracked there because of the nature of that question.

  13. Nathan says

    Sorry to hear that Tracie, Jen and John are leaving they were amazing hosts. I wish them the best on their future endeavours.

  14. yorkshiregeek says

    It’s hard to defeat someone using God of the gaps arguments as they are inserting their preference and the god retreats into a corner you can’t fill fast enough for them. Ultimately there are things we may never know and that’s the last place God is hiding. What we need is people more comfortable with “I don’t know and I refuse to make it up”.

  15. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @t90bb #4
    I’m not surprised to see that Jimmy/Kafei is just another sorry sack of shit. He reminds me of the guys who say that quantum mechanics “prove” idealism, and therefore Christianity. When making short, prepared videos they sound kinda reasonable and more “sophisticated” than other believers. However, those same guys can also be found on live streams pushing anti-abortion, anti-gay and other right-wing propaganda, just like many other Christians. Jimmy/Kafei is the same way. He likes to use the Johns Hopkins studies as misdirection for his garden-variety mystical crankery. He’s just Spirit Science with a little more science and way less salesmanship.
    @Orm #12
    I also really liked Jenna’s input. She seems like she’d be a welcome addition to our now barren cohost rotation.

  16. says

    There was a time when Matt often used to ask when callers start philosophical “proofs”, “Is this what convinced you that God exists?”. There would be a pause and then the caller usually say “No”. Then Matt would ask what did convince them, the conversation would usually be “faith”, “just seems right” and “well, everybody believes”. Then an interesting conversation would happen.
    I wish he would ask that question more often, and certainly this week it would probably produce calls with more substance.

  17. Kenny says

    Matt says say ‘atheist Mecca’ jokingly, but If I ever visit the US ( I’m from Europe) , I’m certainly hoping to visit Austin, watch the show live and enjoy the dinner afterwards.

  18. Murat says

    @Kenny
    During my first year after discovering the show, I had visited Austin as a somewhat side effect. Back then, they did not have such regular group activities, and my days there did not coincide with an episode. Previously I had sent an e-mail to the ACA, and it was Russell who replied, stating he was the one to have free time for a meet-up. We had enjoyed lunch together someplace to the North of town. As they usually say after celebrity encounters, “in real life, he was just like his screen persona!” 🙂 My recollection of Austin as a non-American is that it’s really a very enjoyable city, with activities of various kinds. There was something like a collective garage sale of some sort, in a compond by the river, to the other side of which were green parts. The trouble I had there was something common with most U.S. cities of that size, though: Quite hard to discover and enjoy on foot as the downtown area (extending to the college parts) is widespread. Might not be a problem to rent a car for those who have the habit of driving, even better if visiting local friends I guess, but yeah, you gotta walk a lot as notable attractions are quite apart. (Russell had gently dropped me off to an open air mall up North)

  19. Gino says

    @SkyCaptain #9

    Appreciate the links. I was away for a bit and I saw some of the episodes had hundreds of posts which I sometimes find too daunting to wade through.

  20. Robink says

    Only part way through the show but just in regards to Thomas’ call I feel like a lot of circular discussion may have been avoided if they had clarified early on that a “thing” existing doesn’t have to mean it manifests physically in reality. This is what he was getting so hung up on in regards to Matt referring to consciousness as a “thing” that he was then justifying it as having an existence all on its own. I would have used some other examples to get this point across, ie a laugh is a “thing”, so is an idea, they’re all concepts that can be referred to by a word and are thus “things” but that doesn’t mean there’s anything substantive there. I know Matt was sort of trying to get this across by describing consciousness as an emergent property but not sure Thomas quite understood this.

    I would have also questioned his methods at the end of the call. While it’s admirable that he was able to recognise his mistakes and go back to rethinking things he’s definitely going about this from the POV of someone who wants a conclusion, “consciousness has always existed”, to be true and is working backwards to form an argument that will lead to this conclusion which is NOT how we go about ascertaining truth. You should start with a question, ie “where does consciousness come from?” and work forwards assessing the facts to find the answer.

  21. t90bb says

    its always amusing that religious folk try to justify an assertion by another assertion….for example..

    god exists (an assertion)….how do you know?

    because the bible is true (another assertion)…how do you know??

    the virgin birth. death and resurrection of Christ occurred (another assertion)…. how do you know??

    the disciples died.and would not die for a lie (an assertion),,,,how do you know?

    people wont die for a lie (an assertion)…………

    and on and on and on it goes…layering assertions……..the bible is the claim…..

    I love when Christians speak of the unmistakable beauty and wisdom in the bible…sure a broken clock is right twice a day. Ive read the book cover to cover….I have listened to music, seen plays, read poems that can bring me to tears. And they were written by humans. Imagine how incredible a book would be if it was written by an all powerful and omnibenevolent god? Instead we get shit….lol. Maybe god was going through a rough stretch Or more likely men with bugs in their beards wrote it.

  22. John David Balla says

    #3 t90bb
    >>“I hope you like Matt Dillahunty’s shiny bald head as they’ll be replacing Tracie’s breast for the next few weeks. XD”
    What is the source of this? And how do you know XD is Kafei?

  23. t90bb says

    25….kafei is on reddit….talk heathen thread..that is a direct quote. Its true im not a fan but id never make something like that up. Kafei has also claimed credit for John Tracey and Jen leaving…I shit you not. Absolutely amazing..

    He self identifies there as the KING of Trolls. Its true he said these things in exchanges with me..but hes said them nonetheless.

  24. t90bb says

    24…Although Kafei is banned from posting he can apparently read what goes on here…..He has been gloating about the divide in the community. Apparently he saw that I directly cut and pasted his quotes because hes deleted the worst ones now. Its water under the bridge…I just think its interesting that this is the caliber of the mans character. Its conclusive evidence he was never dealing with us honestly or in good faith. He pawned himself off as a man of decency, albeit misguided.

    Im sure he would say that he was trolling me there….but those are direct quotes from his posts. Anyway enough about him. I felt the need to share in an effort to close the door so to speak.

    I have screenshots of the posts in question, its not something id make up.

  25. Ninereeds says

    that is a shame about Tracie, Jen, and John leaving. It would be good if there was a notice about it rather than silence. I mean even if they don’t want to go into the reasons and say that they are leaving to “spend more time with their family/garden” it would be closure of some sort.

    Ah, well, there have been many changes over the years for a variety of reasons. Hosts come, hosts go.

    Let’s hope the ACA and the AXP continue for a long while

  26. t90bb says

    27.. yes I agree….or at least a venue in which we could give them a heartfelt thank you. I am disappointed of course but their happiness is most important to me.

  27. John David Balla says

    #28 t90bb
    I have checked the TH reddit thread a couple of days ago and could not find the quotes and/or accusations you reference. So yes. I’ll take you up on the screenshots. And thanks for offering. Further, please explain how you determined that XD is indeed Kafie/Jimmy.

    John

  28. t90bb says

    im conversing with him there right now…like I said ive screenshotted all of it…..heres the latest….

    from Neikea- via /r/TalkHeathen sent just now
    show parent
    Sucks when you no longer have the luxury of masturbating to Jen Peeples’ dimples while you ejaculate to the fantasy of pooling her dimples up with your semen. Sucks when you have to trade two cougar MILFs, like Tracie and Jen, for trailer trash Jenna Belk. Oh, wait, I forgot, you’re a fuckin’ faggot ass queer that doesn’t give a shit about tits ‘n ass.

    I have been dialoging with kafei on the talk heathn thread for weeks..even before he got blocked….hes a class act.

    Like I said I have the screenshots….cant see why anyone needs them but if you contact me all be happy to forward them…..

    This is the last public post from me on kafei on this blog. If you need to discuss further contact me directly. I suggest we put a lid on this and move on. Again….whats my motivation in sharing this?? We dialogued with him for years. Some of us felt guilty he was removed here. No such regret is warranted…

  29. John David Balla says

    #30 t90bb
    Like the other quotes you provided, I checked the TH Reddit thread and could not find these salacious remarks anywhere. I have someone who monitors the thread looking into it further as these are very serious accusations indeed. And since the TH reddit is also monitored I am surprised that such remarks would be acceptable.

  30. buddyward says

    @JDB #31

    I was also looking through the TH reddit and I could have sworn I saw Kafei taking credit for the hosts’ departure from the show. Those comments may have been deleted as I noticed that many of Kafei’s (neikea in reddit) comments are getting deleted by the moderators. If t09bb have the screenshots that would be helpful but I cannot expect anyone to believe my anecdotal evidence.

  31. speedofsound says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic

    I’m not surprised to see that Jimmy/Kafei is just another sorry sack of shit. He reminds me of the guys who say that quantum mechanics “prove” idealism, and therefore Christianity. When making short, prepared videos they sound kinda reasonable and more “sophisticated” than other believers.

    I am so glad you mentioned this. I am dealing with one of those guys on Great Debate Community/ facebook. I was blown away by the jargon and the videos then took some time to unwind them. Same ole, same ole. But damn they sure put a spin on your head!

  32. t90bb says

    31 John

    ….once he caught wind of the fact the posts were being shared he deleted many of them. Rest assured I agree these are serious and horrible posts. Let me be clear, I absolutely have dates times and screenshots.

    He’s going to say that he was baited if he comes to admit them at all. Its true I have been challenging him there on his assertions that acid trips reveal god and that he’s got real science back it up. Maybe he was pushed over the edge?? I don’t know. I seriously hope he did not actually mean some of the awful and disgusting things he’s posted there. I suspect he is embarrassed. He is already claiming that screenshots of his posts are unreliable since they can be manipulated, lol. I mean what else can he say. I loved to mix it up with Kafei but I honestly never disliked him. He frustrated me sure. These are not the sort of claims I would make up (even on acid). These are horrible and vile statements made by Kafei. He could have simply said he was trolling on his reddit and apologized but he stubbornly refused. If there is one thing we can all agree about Kafei is that he is stubborn.

    But that’s not really the point….Trolling or not….those type of statements cross the line in a public forum. Seems even stranger from a guy that seemed to market himself as a straight shooter (no ref to his sexuality intended!), rational, and analytical guy. Perhaps he lost his temper/mind?? Maybe he was on an acid trip?

    TH reddit is not well monitored. And I do have screenshots I will be happy to provide to reddit directly if they want them. I most recently asked him to simply apologize and I was willing to delete the records of his posts. He refused and has gone on record as claiming he made no such posts and is without regret. There are many others that I have recorded but the one I posted in 30 was one of the most disgusting and bizarre. Had he simply apologized and said he was not serious I would have deleted everything and told him to learn from the experience. As we know, I tend to test the bounds in playfulness to the point of bordering on the inappropriate. This is on another level though.

    People say crazy shit online. This is not a shock. I do know several people questioned whether Kafei should have been banned. I think its clear based on this we are all better off.

    I have no ax to grind with Kafei. Before his latest post shown in my post 30..he had never attacked me personally. Perhaps the fact that he was shown the door here left him bitter?. The fact that the Community has been stressed may have given him the opportunity to express his anger and frustration by reveling in our turmoil.

    Having this situation documented on this board will allow any future moderators to understand what Kafei is all about should he petition to join us again.

    I don’t hold much ill will at this point. I was more bothered about what he said about others than some of the shit he said about me personally. Coming from a guy that claims acid trips are good evidence of the divine, its hard to take much of what he says to heart. Bottom line…he fucked up. He is clearly flawed just like the rest of us. I just don’t want him coming back here without taking responsibility for what he said. I invited him to speak to me directly to discuss and he refused.

    I am not even entirely sure I should have brought this to the attention of the blog. But I did, so that’s that. Had there been an active moderator here I may have shared it with him/her privately simply to put the moderation team on notice.

    Again I suggest we leave it here. Please contact me directly to discuss further if absolutely necessary. If reddit wants to contact me to discuss I will be happy too.

  33. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @SOS #33
    I sincerely hope that you’re not dealing with Johanan Raatz. Dude’s called into the show before and man is he dense. Anticitizen X has taken him to task more than a few times in the past but he just won’t quit saying shit like “science presupposes idealism”. The worst part is that he has a Bachelor’s in physics! He’s clearly just hiding behind jargon and the god of the gaps to justify the position he already holds (Christianity) which comes out when he’s on a friendly stream promoting generic right wing Christian garbage.
    @t90bb #30
    Can you throw those screenshots up on imgur or some other hosting site?

  34. t90bb says

    32….well ok….to be clear and fair my statements claiming Kafei was deleting his comments may not be accurate. It is possible they were so disgusting they were removed by moderators. Regardless….I HAVE THE SCREENSHOTS. He made these posts and either he or moderators removed them. BUT I HAVE THEM SCREENSHOTTED.

    I do suspect HE removed them but I do not know for sure. Either way they were removed, and rightfully so.

  35. t90bb says

    35. I will try to get assistance to do that unless he steps up and apologizes. In the mean time if you contact me directly I will share them will you personally.

  36. John David Balla says

    #36 t90bb
    You keep stating that you have the screenshots. I’ve already asked you more than once to simply post them. That is all I have asked and you said that you would. So all you need to do is state what you said and post them right here.

  37. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ t90bb #30:

    “This is the last public post from me on kafei on this blog. If you need to discuss further contact me directly. I suggest we put a lid on this and move on.”

    You followed this with three more posts about Kafei. Could I kindly suggest that we quarantine this to the previous thread and stop letting Kafei dominate the blog from beyond the grave?

  38. t90bb says

    39..wiggle…

    surely….I had direct responses to what was intended to be my last post. If I could have addressed them individually I would have. And thanks for being nice about it!

    its not really a topic I want to continue to discuss either. sorry man.

  39. says

    Hi, Semi off-topic but I had to share. I was just checking the new books in at my library (Ottawa, On, Canada) when I came across this review. Following are some snips for your entertainment.
    “What does it mean to be a good reader of Genesis 1-11?”
    “Reading Genesis Well” answers these questions and more, promoting a responsible conversation about how science and biblical faith relate by developing a rigorous approach to interpreting the Bible, especially those texts that come into play in science and faith discussions. This unique approach connects the ancient writings of Genesis 1-11 with modern science in an honest and informed way.

    Old Testament scholar C. John Collins appropriates literary and linguistic insights from C. S. Lewis and builds on them using ideas from modern linguistics, such as lexical semantics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics. ”
    Eye-roll time. If the author is relying on the “insights” of C.S. Lewis to build his argument, it is a foundation of shredded tissue paper.
    I only posted this because I am sure the arguments from this book will be turning up on AXP soon.

  40. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Jeannette #43:

    Ha – “This unique approach connects the ancient writings of Genesis 1-11 with modern science in an honest and informed way.”

    Translation: “This book will dishonestly reinterpret Genesis in a way that makes it look like Genesis was right the whole time.”

  41. speedofsound says

    Just saw the Kafei screenshot. I had a fluffy warm spot for the guy but that shit was way, way over the top. Damn. God Damn! Shit! Glad he got banned from this and other forums.

  42. Monocle Smile says

    Color me not surprised that Kafei turned out to be far shittier than the boring, obnoxious persona he adopted here on this forum. He once tried to rebut my snark that he’s not exactly a walking endorsement for psilocybin by getting butthurt about my “ad hominem” posts, and it makes perfect sense that he’s a disaster of a human being.

  43. ianbraisby says

    The last call with Sean had me in tears at one point. I had been through a very emotional couple of days with various stuff and the way Matt and Jenna dealt with Sean’s issues felt like they were talking directly to me. I would like to email Matt to thank him personally for this and a couple of other things (he talks about all the emails he gets on this show) but can’t seem to find an address for him on any of the relevant pages. Anyone have any idea the best way to contact him, maybe through the ACA?

    And on an unrelated note, today got off to a great start when I got to tell 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses who knocked on my door that I was an atheist and not interested about hearing a verse from their scripture!

  44. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ MS 47:

    “Color me not surprised”

    Yep. Anybody who spends months mindlessly spamming a discussion board with the same repetitive stuff after being told that it’s off-topic and not interesting and should be taken elsewhere, and then retorts by insisting that people not interested in discussing said repetitive stuff must just be unable or unwilling to engage such “deep and complicated” concepts, is a pretty pitiful excuse for a human.

  45. Heretical Ryan says

    Kafei’s removal from this forum was long overdue.

    It must be eating him alive right now that he can’t come here to gloat about the recent developments at the ACA.

    .

    Speaking of that – it is upsetting to me that we lost three long time hosts. But all we can do is what most of us have decided to do : wish them well in their future endeavours are and hope they remain active in the community in some other capacity.

  46. Lamont Cranston says

    ianbraisby says in #48

    And on an unrelated note, today got off to a great start when I got to tell 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses who knocked on my door that I was an atheist and not interested about hearing a verse from their scripture!

    A couple of months ago my younger son interrupted me as I was out back doing yard work. I asked what was up and he replied, “Mom’s out front talking with some Jehovah’s Witnesses.” I asked him if she wanted me to come up front and he replied, “No, I think she is having fun.” 🙂

    A few minutes later I wandered up front and the conversation was still gong on. There was an older woman, a middle age woman, and a younger woman. You could tell as we talked more and more that the older woman was furious and trying desperately not to show it. It was kind of entertaining. I don’t think they will be coming back any time soon. 🙂

    Lamont Cranston

  47. ianbraisby says

    Lamont Cranston
    Good way to get rid of them is to know more about their scripture than they do. A priest I knew in childhood used to invite them in to look at his bible – in the original Greek! They ran for the hills every time apparently. The guy did ask me today whether I’d become an atheist because of the state of the world (their favourite opening line in my experience) and wondering how a loving god could allow it to happen, even mentioning his wife dying of cancer causing him to question his own faith. I very politely told him no, it was because I had found no rational evidence for god and because of the inconsistencies of their holy book. We had a nice chat about the lovely flowers at the front of our house instead.

  48. ianbraisby says

    Echoing what others have said – I wish John, Jen and Tracie all the very best in their future activities. They will be missed, for their quiet but effective (and where necessary just forceful enough) argumentation with callers and, in Jen and Tracie’s case, I will not forget the informed and sensitive way they dealt with the issue of autism in a call a while back. I’m sure any other autistic members of the AXP/ACA community would join me in thanking them for that in particular.

  49. t90bb says

    The last call of the show was interesting. Along the lines of without belief, where is the hope??? Without eternity, whats the point??? “we are gonna die and be worm food!”!!!

    I find it fascinating that although I believe my life is temporary that I still find it worthwhile. Many of us do. Our actions and inactions touch many (not in the Catholic church way!). My life, short as it is has been deeply impacted by others both positive and negative. The fact that I can “hope” to help another is some way great or small on any given day gives my life daily purpose. But even aside from that, life is a fuckin hoot. Who can make this shit up??

    I guess I have bought into trying to balance pleasure (I can be pretty selfish) with service for the long hall..even if in reality its the short haul. (????)

    I just do wonder sometime how we keep the positivity. Humor definitely helps.

    Sometimes I feel sorta odd that I don’t dwell much on my future non existence. Its like it is ok. Live and love hard regardless. Sure, all things considered Id like to live healthy and happy forever with people I care for (rules the biblical god out!), but theres no reason to think that’s in the cards. Makes each day living more important, right?

    I can honestly say, in my entire life, I have not lost a single wink of sleep worrying about what might happen after I die. Its the dying part that scares me.

    Just sharing.

  50. favog says

    Exactly, t90bb. I saw “Avengers: Endgame”, and after three hours it was over. I knew that was gonna happen before I saw it. That doesn’t make anyone weep and wail about how there’s no point in going to the movies because it can’t last forever. The sleep I had last night, this mornings breakfast and a million other things I could name if I felt like it are the same way.

  51. jacobfromlost says

    Has anyone noticed theists/Christians on the net posing as agnostics or atheists to…I don’t know. Proselytize seems to be the wrong word. Maybe “infiltrate” or “gaslight” nonbelievers? I joined that agnostic website (maybe from an ad here…I can’t remember), and ended up being dragged into several long debates/conversations with a dude who claims to be agnostic, sometimes ignostic.

    And yet he refuses to see atheism as anything but a claim, then pretends not to know what a claim is, references the SEP over and over again (that section about how theism is a proposition that god exists, therefore atheism has to be the proposition no gods exist and nothing else because it “must”–the entry Christians always post as if it came directly from Moses), etc. Basically everything theists do in these debates.

    I somehow finally pushed him into a corner on almost everything he was saying, and then got a string of really weird responses to everything. He said an atheist who doesn’t claim absolutely a god doesn’t exist must believe a god does exist (his exact words “But I will challenge you on the coherency of calling yourself an atheist if you believe that gods exist”–and please note, I spent two days setting him straight on my position, which never in any way included god belief). He argued semantics about words, definitions, and syntax, even after I explained my positions clearly ad nauseum. (He kept redefining my position as if I couldn’t know what my position is–which is why I mentioned gaslighting.) He said using scientific/falsifiable methodology to test claims are only “in our minds” (at least in reference to god claims). He claimed, “Science is the best way to probe reality but not the only one and certainly not infallible.” (I never said it was infallible; he offered no alternative method; I don’t understand what or how he is arguing.) And finally he equated “faith” in the existence of an African country I have never been to, to faith in gods, claiming the two faiths are the same…and this after I had typed a bible length book of discussion explaining the difference between a falsifiable claim and an unfalsifiable one. (This reminded me of the “does Australia exist” stupidity that AE callers have brought up a dozen times.)

    In any case, on the agnostic website at least, I am finding quite a lot of commenters who seem to be obvious Christians barely in disguise. (At least one isn’t in disguise at all, but along with the Christian stuff comes lizard people and deep state wackiness.) I finally left him with the comment, “You seem to be arguing dishonestly”, and he stopped replying to me.

  52. indianajones says

    @jacob. Intellectually dishonest folks pretending to a position they don’t actually hold so as to try to smuggle in their real agenda? Welcome to the internet I suppose….

  53. jabbly says

    @jacobfromlost

    My experience of people who label themselves agnostic (sitting on the fence) is that they are a combination of thinking this takes the intellectual high ground and being anti-atheist. Maybe a reaction to the perceived (and in some cases real) mocking tone/arrogance of some atheists?

  54. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Re “Agnosticism”
    My understanding is that Huxley invented the usage of the word “agnostic” regarding god-belief because he was an atheist, but he wanted to avoid the negative associations that Christians have when they hear the word “atheist”, and so he invented a new word, and said “I’m not like those dirty atheists”. So yea, I agree with jabbly that the predominant usage of the word “agnostic” is to attack atheism as somehow bad.

  55. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    As you can probably tell from my name, I’m no fan of the “agnostic” label. I’m not convinced it adds any more understanding to the conversion, whether it’s used in the Huxley way or the Dillahunty way. I’d prefer we just focus on the theist/non-theist dichotomy because that’s what matters in real life. The difference between my position as an atheist and anti-theist and Steve McRae’s position as an agnostic is purely academic; we agree on the important issue, which is religious and dogmatic thinking sucks and needs to be countered. IMO it isn’t worth our time to have the agnostic vs atheist debate.

  56. RationalismRules says

    @EL #60
    Thomas Henry Huxley, Collected Essays, Volume 5: Science and Christian Tradition: Essays:

    When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure that they had attained a certain ‘gnosis’–had more or less successfully solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion …

    So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of ‘agnostic’. It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the ‘gnostic’ of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant…

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To RationalismRules
    Yep. That’s an atheist. He’s describing a kind of atheism. “I don’t know” is a kind of atheism. Yet, he doesn’t want to use that word because he thinks it means something else, or something. It seems like a gigantic strawman IMO.

  58. jacobfromlost says

    The dude actually responded to me today, asking in one line what evidence I had that he was arguing dishonestly.

    I replied that I had enough evidence. That it was ok. And to go about his business. lol If he’s trolling me or not, I don’t feel inclined to continue the conversation. I can only take so many times of being told what my position is after I’ve explained that that isn’t my position before I begin to feel like I’m talking to an idiot and expecting something more, or talking to a wall and expecting something more. In either case, I’m not getting anything out of it.

  59. starfleetdude says

    No, Huxley wasn’t really describing a kind of atheism, he was describing himself as a freethinker and withholding judgment on all the metaphysical claims he listed, including atheism’s claim about there being no theistic deity.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To starfleetdude
    Withholding judgment is atheism. Atheism is anyone who does not affirm “there is a god”, e.g. anyone who is not a theist. That includes people who affirm “there is no god”. This also includes people who say “I don’t know”. This also includes people who claim “it’s unknowable”.

  61. starfleetdude says

    E.L., you’re disagreeing with T. H. Huxley himself then, who was quite plain about what he believed himself to be, namely a freethinker. Atheism is a negative position on the claim that a theistic deity exists, not a neutral one.

  62. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To starfleetdude
    Yes. I am disagreeing with Huxley. Huxley is strawmanning atheists – just like you are. If someone is asked “is there a god?” and they answer “I don’t know” – that person is an atheist.

  63. starfleetdude says

    E.L., there is a difference between “I do not believe” and “I do not know”. The first is a negative assertion, the second a neutral stance. Atheists do not believe, while agnostics do not know.

  64. starfleetdude says

    buddyward, they are, but I was speaking to how the stances of atheism and agnosticism differ.

  65. paxoll says

    @starfleetdude
    They are the exact same positions on 2 different concepts. It is not a negative assertion, that would be “I believe no”.

  66. buddyward says

    @starfleetdude #71

    buddyward, they are, but I was speaking to how the stances of atheism and agnosticism differ.

    I do not believe

    I do not know

    Both of these statements refers to a lack of their respective categories. I do not see how a lack of belief has a negative connotation while a lack of knowledge has a neutral connotation.

    Also, have you heard of the default position? Where you do not believe unless sufficient evidence is presented. There are two prongs with regards to the belief for existence of a god(s). Either we believe a god exist or no god exists. The former is positive and the latter is negative. Atheism, addresses only the first prong by saying we do not believe. We are not asserting that no gods exists.

    The same goes when it comes to Gnosticism. Either we know a god exist or no gods exist. The default position (agnosticism) is we do not know a god(s) exist. The negative would be that we know that no gods exists.

  67. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To buddyward

    The same goes when it comes to Gnosticism.

    Belief and knowledge are two different things.

    This usage of the word “gnosticism” and “agnosticism” IMO is walking right into the “absolute confidence” strawman / trap. Similarly, separating “belief” and “knowledge” in this way is walking right into the “absolute confidence” strawman / trap.

    Belief and knowledge are not two separate things. “To believe something” is to have a certain emotional state of acceptance of the truth of a proposition. “To know something” is simply to believe something for what we believe are good reasons.

    AFAIK, no one historically used the word “gnostic” in the way that you’re doing now. Its usage in this context seems to be only very quite recent, and it seems to be part of the same Huxley movement to strawman atheists. Huxley invented the word “agnostic” because he didn’t like the already existing negative connotations of “atheist” while adding nothing of substance that would actually distinguish his position from a common atheist position.

  68. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    E.L., there is a difference between “I do not believe” and “I do not know”. The first is a negative assertion, the second a neutral stance. Atheists do not believe, while agnostics do not know.

    You’re falling prey to an ambiguity of modern English, and that’s why I try to avoid the particular phrase “I do not believe” in discussions like this.

    “I do not believe” is not the same thing, grammatically, as “I believe it is false”. Grammatically, “I do not believe” is the same thing as “I do not have a belief that the proposition is true”. However, many people use the phrase “I do not believe” to communicate “I believe it is false”. This is a result of a history of usage of the phrase “I do not believe” to mean the second thing, and the phrase has acquired an idiomatic meaning of “I believe it is false”. The phrase “I do not believe” was used historically in this was as a form of “polite speech”, e.g. it would be more polite and less rude to be less confrontational by saying “I do not believe” instead of saying “I believe you are wrong”, and over time, as the phrase was used frequently in this way, it acquired a new meaning. See: euphemism treadmill.
    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Euphemism

    Theists are anyone who affirm “there is a god”. Atheists are anyone who are not theists. Equivalently, atheists are anyone who do not affirm “there is a god”. This includes those who affirm “there is no god” and also those who say “I don’t know”.

    Atheists do not believe that there is a god. This includes people who lack a belief that there is a god, and this includes people who affirm that there is no god.

  69. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also, bolding added by me:

    Also, have you heard of the default position? Where you do not believe unless sufficient evidence is presented. There are two prongs with regards to the belief for existence of a god(s). Either we believe a god exist or no god exists. The former is positive and the latter is negative. Atheism, addresses only the first prong by saying we do not believe. We are not asserting that no gods exists.

    This is a very wrong-headed way to think about the issue, specifically the part that I bolded. This is a wrong-headed epistemology – e.g. a wrong system of knowing about the world.

    Proper epistemology is Bayesian. What do I mean by that? I mean that whenever we evaluate a claim, idea, proposition, etc. about the real world, we are always evaluating it in the context of alternatives. It is impossible to evaluate the claim “there is no god” unless you simultaneously evaluate the claim “there is a god”. What do I mean by that? It comes down to what it means to properly examine and evaluate evidence.

    To paraphrase Dan Dennett, suppose someone comes up to you and says that the Moon is made out of cheese. Suppose you ask them for evidence, and they take a brick of cheese out of the fridge and drop it to the ground, saying triumphantly “aha!”, as though this proved the point. You would look at them as though they were out of their mind. They might say “Cheese has mass and is attracted by the gravity of other mass, such as the Earth. This experiment is consistent with the Moon being made out of cheese.”. I highlighted the key word there: “consistent”. Just because some fact is consistent with a proposition does not make it evidence for a proposition. Just because some fact is predicted by a proposition does not make it evidence for the proposition. The problem here is that both the idea “the Moon is made out of cheese” and “the Moon’s composition is as typically described by modern science” both predict that cheese is affected by gravity.

    For something to be evidence for a proposition, it must necessarily be evidence against some competing proposition.

    That statement is the heart of what it means to be a Bayesian.

    Bringing this back. To evaluate the likelihood and plausibility of the truth of the proposition “there are no gods”, you have to take all of the available evidence, and see how well it fits the proposition and how well it fits all competing propositions, e.g. “there is one or more gods”. Most evidence will fit both propositions equally well, and that sort of evidence is neither evidence for nor against either competing proposition. Only evidence that is consistent with one and not the other counts as evidence for one and against the other. Thus, you cannot examine the prong “there is a god” without simultaneously examining the alternative prongs e.g. “there is no god”.

  70. buddyward says

    @EL #74

    Thank you for the lessons. I want to ask, when someone says “I do not believe X.” vs “I do not know X.” are they talking about the same thing?

    #76

    When someone says I do not believe X. Is that person evaluating evidence at that point or is that person simply taking a default position of not believing until sufficient evidence is presented?

    I appreciate all that you have done to explain but I do not think we are at the point where we are evaluating evidence. We are still in the “Hey I believe X exist.” and I will say “Really? I find that hard to believe.” phase.

  71. buddyward says

    @77

    Err, maybe it should be “I believe X” vs “I know X” but I think you know what I mean.

  72. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Thank you for the lessons. I want to ask, when someone says “I do not believe X.” vs “I do not know X.” are they talking about the same thing?

    I don’t know. Because of the ambiguity that I mentioned above regarding the phrase “I do not believe”, I’d have to ask them to clarify. Do they mean “I believe that it is false”? Or do they mean “I do not affirm that it is true (I might affirm that it is false)”?

    To try to answer your intended question as best as I can determine it, “I believe it’s true” and “I know it’s true” mean much the same thing to me. There is a difference: a difference in a degree of confidence in the belief, and an emphasis on one that they believe for (very) good reasons, but both phrases mean much the same thing. Knowledge is a subset of belief.

    I appreciate all that you have done to explain but I do not think we are at the point where we are evaluating evidence. We are still in the “Hey I believe X exist.” and I will say “Really? I find that hard to believe.” phase.

    Again, any rational person cannot do any real examination or evaluation at all of one prong “there is a god” without simultaneously examining the other prong “there are no gods”.

    To even say “Really? I find that hard to believe.” requires a rational person to have considered the two prongs at least for a moment, and to evaluate the likelihood of each prong on the background evidence that they already have on hand. Otherwise, what is that expression of doubt based on? How did they arrive at that position of expressing a weak belief that the proposition is unlikely? Did they roll a die?

    You didn’t write “I don’t know – I haven’t considered the proposition before”. You instead gave a weak and tentative evaluation of the proposition, and presumably you did that on the basis of evaluation of evidence.

  73. buddyward says

    Again, any rational person cannot do any real examination or evaluation at all of one prong “there is a god” without simultaneously examining the other prong “there are no gods”.

    To even say “Really? I find that hard to believe.” requires a rational person to have considered the two prongs at least for a moment, and to evaluate the likelihood of each prong on the background evidence that they already have on hand. Otherwise, what is that expression of doubt based on? How did they arrive at that position of expressing a weak belief that the proposition is unlikely? Did they roll a die?

    I would base it on the idea of the default position. A proposition is made and by default I would not believe it. At the point when someone presents a proposition I am not even thinking about the opposing proposition, I am considering what is currently presented.

    You didn’t write “I don’t know – I haven’t considered the proposition before”. You instead gave a weak and tentative evaluation of the proposition, and presumably you did that on the basis of evaluation of evidence.

    I cannot evaluate what is not there. If all that is being presented is a proposition then there are no evidence to evaluate.

  74. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I would base it on the idea of the default position.

    No. That’s not what you wrote. You did not write the default position “I don’t know”. You wrote “I find that hard to believe”. The position “I find that hard to believe” is not the default position. There are plenty of things that someone could tell me that I would find easy to believe. “Finding something hard to believe” is a position that one came to – hopefully as the result of examining and evaluating evidence.

    I cannot evaluate what is not there. If all that is being presented is a proposition then there are no evidence to evaluate.

    Then you should stop at “I don’t know”. Don’t then say in addition “And I find it hard to believe (in the sense that the proposition is likely false)”. Perhaps say “I find it hard to believe (in the sense that it’s hard to believe anything without sufficient evidence to warrant the belief and I don’t have sufficient evidence at this time for this particular proposition)”.

    Also, there’s plenty of evidence to examine regarding this belief. It’s the same sort of evidence that there are no dragons in my garage.
    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    It’s not “I don’t know if there is a dragon in my garage”. The correct answer is “I am firmly convinced that there is no dragon in my garage”. Carl Sagan, despite identifying as an agnostic – here he provides a rather good argument here why one should positively assert that there is no dragon in anyone’s garage (e.g. strong atheism).

    I am an atheist. I am also a strong atheist – I positively assert and affirm that there are no gods, for exactly the same reasons that I assert that there is not a dragon in my garage, for exactly the same reasons that Carl Sagan describes in the Garage Dragon parable.

    Note: Please take notice how Carl Sagan himself doesn’t just say that the jury remains out on the idea of garage dragons, but rather refers to the belief in garage dragons as a “delusion”, exact quote – “delusion” being a word that refers to a belief that is not just unsupported, but a belief that is held in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    See also:
    > How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism
    > (final draft – to appear in Foundations of Science)
    > Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, Johan Braeckman
    https://sites.google.com/site/maartenboudry/teksten-1/methodological-naturalism

  75. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PPS:
    Sorry, and also:
    > God, Science and the Problem with Nature – Scott Clifton (Theoretical Bullshit) – Skepticon 7

  76. buddyward says

    No. That’s not what you wrote. You did not write the default position “I don’t know”. You wrote “I find that hard to believe”. The position “I find that hard to believe” is not the default position. There are plenty of things that someone could tell me that I would find easy to believe. “Finding something hard to believe” is a position that one came to – hopefully as the result of examining and evaluating evidence.

    Fair enough, then I misspoke. I should have said “I don’t know”. However, the point that I am trying to make is that at the moment the proposition is made I have no evidence to evaluate anything else other than the proposition itself and by default, I do not know whether or not it is true.

    When someone asks me if there is a god, I would answer “I don’t know.” If someone asks me if I believe there is a god then the answer is “I do not believe”. Putting this in context with what starfleetdude is saying, I believe that both are neutral positions.

    It’s not “I don’t know if there is a dragon in my garage”. The correct answer is “I am firmly convinced that there is no dragon in my garage”. Carl Sagan, despite identifying as an agnostic – here he provides a rather good argument here why one should positively assert that there is no dragon in anyone’s garage (e.g. strong atheism).

    What if someone is telling you there is a dragon in their garage? I think that evaluating one’s own belief is easier that evaluating the beliefs of others. Granted that so far no one has ever presented evidence of having a dragon in their garage and by inference you may be justified in believing that no such thing can happen but you will be committing a black swan fallacy if you outright dismiss it or make a generalize statement.

  77. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    but you will be committing a black swan fallacy if you outright dismiss it or make a generalize statement.

    This is just nonsense. I could say “I am firmly convinced that the Sun will rise tomorrow, on the basis that it has risen every day for my entire life”, and you could just as easily respond with the facile “but that’s committing the black swan fallacy”. Practically speaking, you just dismissed the entire scientific enterprise altogether.

    I do know that the Sun will rise tomorrow, and I do know that there are no garage dragons, and I do know that there are no gods.

    In other words, you’re appealing to absolute certainty, and I have expressed no such thing. You’re basically strawmanning me. Of course there might be a black swan event. Of course I might be mistaken, and the Sun might not rise tomorrow. However, this lack of total absolute confidence does nothing to address the real conversation – which is that I have lots of evidence and good reasons to justify my very strong confidence that the Sun will rise tomorrow.

  78. buddyward says

    This is just nonsense. I could say “I am firmly convinced that the Sun will rise tomorrow, on the basis that it has risen every day for my entire life”, and you could just as easily respond with the facile “but that’s committing the black swan fallacy”. Practically speaking, you just dismissed the entire scientific enterprise altogether.

    I do know that the Sun will rise tomorrow, and I do know that there are no garage dragons, and I do know that there are no gods.

    In other words, you’re appealing to absolute certainty, and I have expressed no such thing. You’re basically strawmanning me. Of course there might be a black swan event. Of course I might be mistaken, and the Sun might not rise tomorrow. However, this lack of total absolute confidence does nothing to address the real conversation – which is that I have lots of evidence and good reasons to justify my very strong confidence that the Sun will rise tomorrow.

    That is different. You are committing a black swan fallacy if you say that the Sun will always rise. Just like you are committing a black swan fallacy when you say that you are firmly convinced that there are no dragons in anyone’s garage.

  79. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You are committing a black swan fallacy if you say that the Sun will always rise.

    I specifically moved the conversation to what should be an entirely uncontrovertible claim, and yet you persist in this ridiculous move, and continue to deny scientific reasoning wholesale. You’re just as bad as Oreoman. Do you actually see what you’re writing!? Did Oreoman steal your account!?

  80. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    Serious questions. Have you made any preparations for the possibility tomorrow that the Sun might not rise? Or have you made any preparations for the possibility that hammers released in normal household conditions will no longer fall to the ground tomorrow? Is this entire debate because you are uncomfortable with statements of absolute confidence – even though I clearly stated that I have not expressed any absolute confidence in any of my assertions? What the fuck is up with you?

  81. buddyward says

    @EL

    I specifically moved the conversation to what should be an entirely uncontrovertible claim, and yet you persist in this ridiculous move, and continue to deny scientific reasoning wholesale. You’re just as bad as Oreoman. Do you actually see what you’re writing!? Did Oreoman steal your account!?

    Oh for fucks sake EL. I have been nothing but respectful to you in our discussion and even corrected my mistake. I have been nothing but honest with my responses and I am willing to learn and change my mind. I have not once used any ad hominem in our conversation. If you are incapable or unwilling to have a civil conversation or defend your position then just say so. Comparing me to Oreoman is uncalled for specially if you cannot even get past the idea of a black swan fallacy.

    I am not denying scientific reasoning I am not saying that it is irrational to say that the sun will rise tomorrow, I am saying that it is different from saying that the sun will always rise. If you cannot see the differences in those two statements then I am sorry that I cannot help you.

    I can see that you are no longer interested in a good civil discussion so I am going to end this here. I was hoping that you can explain your position better so that I can learn and see things from your perspective but you just had to devolve this conversation to name calling.

  82. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    tl;dr I don’t remain civil to someone who repeatedly strawmans me over useless semantic word games.

    I am not denying scientific reasoning I am not saying that it is irrational to say that the sun will rise tomorrow, I am saying that it is different from saying that the sun will always rise. If you cannot see the differences in those two statements then I am sorry that I cannot help you.

    First, note that I did not use the word “always” regarding the Sun claim – you added that word when you (incorrectly?) rephrasing my position back to me. Second, I fail to see any terribly meaningful difference between the claim with and the claim without the word “always” – the meaning is plain and obvious to any non-pedant reader. With or without the word, no claim of absolute confidence was asserted. Third, my intended meaning of no-absolute-confidence is especially clear in light of what I said repeatedly earlier, see:

    You’re basically strawmanning me. Of course there might be a black swan event. Of course I might be mistaken, and the Sun might not rise tomorrow. However, this lack of total absolute confidence does nothing to address the real conversation – which is that I have lots of evidence and good reasons to justify my very strong confidence that the Sun will rise tomorrow.

    Is this entire debate because you are uncomfortable with statements of absolute confidence – even though I clearly stated that I have not expressed any absolute confidence in any of my assertions? What the fuck is up with you?

    I don’t appreciate being strawmanned repeatedly, and especially not over useless semantic wordgames.

  83. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    Obviously the Sun will not always day after day. In about 5 billion years, the Sun will expand into a red giant, and odds are good that the Earth will be destroyed. Even if the Earth manages to survive that, eventually the Sun will grow dim and become practically invisible, at which point I think it’s fair to say that the Sun won’t be “rising (in the sky)” every day.

    Hell if I know how you are interpreting “always” as a statement of absolute confidence, especially when the word wasn’t present in my original example and you added it. Fuck me if I know.

  84. buddyward says

    First, note that I did not use the word “always” regarding the Sun claim – you added that word when you (incorrectly?) rephrasing my position back to me.

    I did not say you used the word “always”. I created an example using the word “always” that is more closely related to a black swan fallacy because yours is not even close.

    Second, I fail to see any terribly meaningful difference between the claim with and the claim without the word “always” – the meaning is plain and obvious to any non-pedant reader. With or without the word, no claim of absolute confidence was asserted. Third, my intended meaning of no-absolute-confidence is especially clear in light of what I said repeatedly earlier, see:

    Then you do not understand the black swan fallacy.

    I am not strawmanning you because I am not arguing against a position that you are not holding. Go ahead and say the last word, I am no longer interested in talking to someone who resorts to ad hominem when they cannot defend their position.

  85. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Then you do not understand the black swan fallacy.

    Oh, I do. It is you that needs to take a basic 101 course in epistemology, philosophy of science, and probably English language too. There’s nothing wrong with making “always” claims. There is generally something wrong with claiming absolute, infallible confidence on certain beliefs, but you can make “always” claims without making the claims with absolute confidence. I can claim that the proton and the electron will always have exactly opposite electrical charges, and I might be wrong about that, and I recognize that I might be wrong about that, and maybe in the future physics will change, i.e. a transition from today’s false vacuum re the Higgs field to some lesser energy vacuum state, but that’s nothing wrong with saying “electrons and protons will always have equal but opposite electrical charges” because I am not asserting absolute certainty. Adding the word “always” doesn’t imply “absolute certainty. And why you felt the need to bring up absolute certainty even though I spent paragraphs saying “I don’t have absolute certainty” is beyond me.

  86. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    The Black Swan fallacy is based on the history of people saying “there are no black swans” in earnest. Then black swans were discovered. This became a parable to always be cautious about making blanket claims because you might be wrong.

    I will make the blanket claim that energy will always bend spacetime ala Einstein’s General Relativity. I’m willing to take bets that I’m right. Are you going to bet against me? Of course I recognize that I might be wrong – that’s the point of the black swan parable. There are always exceptions, and everything in science should be held tentatively, subject to revision, and that’s why my confidence in gravity is tentative, and subject to revision. I say that hammers will always fall in normal household conditions when released from a height above the ground, but maybe tomorrow we observe a violation of the rules of physics – a black swan event. The mere possibility that we might observe a black swan event does not mean that we are somehow unwarranted in believing and claiming that hammers will always fall to the ground when released from a height in normal household conditions. To believe otherwise is to be actually insane.

  87. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PPS:
    And again, this might just be a question of terminology, which is why I’m really pissed, because I’ve tried at length to explain my choice of terminology.

    “Hammers will always fall when released” is different than “I am absolutely convinced that hammers will always fall when released”. The first is everyday, colloquial language, where it’s commonly assumed that speakers have some degree of doubt behind every claim that they make. The second is a clear assertion that the speaker has no doubt. I have doubt. That’s why I used the first form that lacked the expression of absolute confidence. In other words, the word “always” does not imply absolute confidence in the assertion being made. Is English your second language or something? Where did you get such a funny idea?

  88. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PPPS:
    1- I am very confident Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity, will be accurate always.
    2- I am absolutely confident that Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity, will be accurate for the next 24 hours.

    The word “always” is not an expression of confidence, absolute or not, in this context. The word “always” is a temporal modifier – a word that answers the question “what time range does the assertion apply to?”. I can assert something will be true for 24 hours, or I can assert something will be true forever. I can make either assertion with absolute confidence or tentative confidence. Asserting that something will be true for 24 hours with absolute confidence is just as foolish as asserting that something will be true always e.g. forever with absolute confidence. The mistake is not asserting it true for all time instead of only for a day. The mistake is asserting practically anything at all with absolute confidence.

    Asserting that an answer is “always true” typically means a higher burden of proof because the assertion covers more possible observations, and thus more possibility of black swan events, but black swan events are not limited to “always” claims. Black swan events are possible for any claim, because every scientific claim is made on the ground of induction, and therefore every next observation might be an exception from the historical pattern, a black swan event. Focusing on “always” claims or very broad claims exclusively – that misses the entire point of the black swan parable, which is that any claim made on induction could always be wrong. The mere claim “this hammer will fall to the ground when I release it” could be wrong because it’s based on induction, just like the claim “hammers will always fall to the ground when released” could be wrong because it’s based on induction. Both are based on induction. Both are vulnerable to black swan events. And this has nothing to do with absolute confidence, because both were asserted non-absolutely.

  89. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Sorry. Last one. Imagine someone who says “all swans are black” and someone else who says “the next swan that I will see is black”. Both are equally mistaken for the same reasons.

  90. jabbly says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #79

    I think that highlights the ambiguity in the meaning of believe. I agree the difference, in the context of things that are either true or false, between I believe and I know, but I can’t say that I use them in a manner that they are much the same thing. For me I use I believe in much the same way as I think i.e. to convey a reasonable level of doubt. Maybe consider it as beyond reasonable doubt vs. on the balance of probabilities.

    As for I don’t know, I use that when I really don’t feel I can give an answer that I have any real confidence in.

  91. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    For me I use I believe in much the same way as I think i.e. to convey a reasonable level of doubt.

    This is also how I use it, and how everyone uses it. I guess I did a poor job of explaining. I’ll say it again. To me, “I know (X is true)” and “I believe (X is true)” mean basically the same thing except the first conveys a higher level of confidence, and the first also often conveys that the speaker believes that they have good evidence and reasons for their belief.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *