I should be linking to others on FtB more often — there’s good stuff here. I just take it for granted that you’re all looking at the groovy stuff on the sidebar, as I am, so I’ll just mention a few things that jumped out at me this morning.
- What the heck is wrong with neurosurgeons? I know Ben Carson has been making a fool of himself lately, but it’s easy to forget (please do) about Michael Egnor, the dogmatic neurosurgeon laboring to make intelligent design look even more foolish. Egnor is now asserting without evidence that only humans are capable of this intangible thing called “reason”. Wrong.
Of course, if you understand the theory of evolution, you realize his claim is likely to be utter nonsense. Abstract thinking is not a black-white thing; it’s a range of capabilities that, even among people, we see a huge variation in. Any capability with huge variation is subject to selection, and so it can evolve. Since people are descended from earlier ape-like creatures, it is quite believable that non-human animals would also display the ability for abstract thought, in varying degrees. And they do! Ethologists, who actually study this kind of thing, disagree with Egnor. (Also see baboons and crows, to name just a couple more examples.)
Hey, I know my cat is cunningly scheming all the time. She’s lying on a futon next to me right now, and she has all kinds of strategems for tricking me into serving her desires.
You’ve probably heard that the NY Times has been fluffing Hope Hicks, who has been subpoenaed to testify about her former employer, the Trump administration. According to Maggie Haberman, apparently the decision to comply is an “existential question” which can only be answered with some flattering portrait photography. I have a better answer to that question: ask your lawyer, and do what they say. They’ll tell you that noncompliance isn’t an option. This has been a short answer to a stupid question.
Unfortunately, that the “newspaper of record” even considers this a worthy question tells us that the NY Times is not on the side of the people.
The anti-democratic limits on acceptable discourse accepted and propounded by the Times must be opposed. The Times and Haberman and her editors are not worthless. Ignoring the Times is not a principled and logical and effective way to deal with their anti-democratic trolling. Instead, the Times must be countered each and every time they embrace the ideology of an accountability-free elite. We must never forget that the Times isn’t portraying the Trump administration as wise and sympathetic philosophers working to divine the best possible response to problems of Gordian convolution and unsolvability. The upper ranks of the Times (including Haberman and her editors) are portraying the Trump administration as wise and sympathetic philosophers because they, too, believe themselves better off in a world without accountability for the US elite.
It’s easy to condemn Fox News as a propaganda organ for the Republicans. It’s distressing to see that the NY Times is, too.
The latest controversy that is roiling the atheist community is that a YouTuber, Rationality Rules, made a video about transgender athletes that was a seething mass of boiling bullshit — it was wrong on the facts, made up “facts”, cited Joe Rogan as an authority, and made a sweeping (and false) conclusion that women’s sports were about to be overwhelmed by a horde of Y-chromosomes taking hormone replacement therapy so that they could pwn the little ladies and win trophies. It was blatant nonsense, demolished Rationality Rules cultivated perception of being a ‘scientific’ observer, and even he was forced to admit that he got some things wrong, although he’s been slow to confess to specifics. The Atheist Community of Austin, which had recently had him on The Atheist Experience, made a statement repudiating his transphobic comments, and that’s when the shit hit the fan.
Another deep rift has formed, between the people who can clearly see the glaring transphobia in Rationality Rules’ video, and those who have decided that this must be overlooked and forgiven because, dang, he’s such a good atheist defender of reason.
Oh, jesus, we’ve been here before. Somehow being right about one thing, the nonexistence of gods, means you must be right about everything, especially if you hold poisonously regressive views.
Anyway, HJ Hornbeck tries to summarize the chaos (there’s more than one video, an apology video, all kinds of vehement denials everywhere), and he’s right that there is one clear conclusion: Rationality Rules made lots of transphobic statements and assumptions. If you’re arguing against that crystal-clear fact, you ought to turn in your Official Skeptical Atheist card. If you’re arguing that such attitudes are acceptable, please stay on your side of the rift.