Questionable Motives

February 15, 2011

Why should we be more intolerant?

Filed under: belief,Science,theology,Truth,vaccination,woo — tildeb @ 8:57 am

Because for far too long we have been tolerant of these post-modern ideas that more than one truth is valid, that as a result of this misguided tolerance many kinds of pseudo-science and other forms of woo is pernicious and growing and is a significant danger to all of us.

(UK) Government Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington is stepping up the war on pseudoscience with a call to his fellow government scientists to be “grossly intolerant” if science is misused by religious or political groups.

In closing remarks to an annual conference in London of around 300 scientific civil servants on 3 February, Beddington said that selective use of science ought to be treated in the same way as racism and homophobia.

“We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of racism. We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of people who [are] anti-homosexuality… We are not—and I genuinely think we should think about how we do this—grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method.”

Beddington said that he intends to take this agenda forward with his fellow chief scientists and also with the research councils. “I really believe that. . . we need to recognise that that is a pernicious influence, it is an increasingly pernicious influence and we need to be thinking about how we can actually deal with it.”

In closing, Beddington said: “I’d urge you—and this is a kind of strange message to go out—but go out and be much more intolerant.” (Source).

Clearly, we should not tolerate a kind of thinking and acceptance of what Beddington says can “seriously undermine our ability to address important problems.” One needs to look no further than the ill-informed yet widespread media distortions about vaccines and global warming to see how tolerating relativistic so-called ‘balanced’ reporting of pseudo-science seriously undermines concerted efforts to responsibly address these pressing global issues.

(h/t to Pharyngula)

Advertisements

51 Comments »

  1. Allowing an idea to exist can be dangerous but it takes time to decipher which ideas are the absolute truth and work to anchor scientific knowledge

    Comment by Kopf.Adeyemi — February 15, 2011 @ 9:29 am | Reply

    • Whenever I come across the words ‘absolute truth’ I get highly suspicious of what is meant. To me, what’s true rests at one end of a spectrum based on probabilities and likelihood and available information and all that informs that placement. But ‘absolute’ has been measured and found complete. It is removed from such considerations and simply is, much more along the line of an unalterable fact or an encased idea immune from change.

      With this notion of ‘truth’ in mind – unencumbered by some requirement to be verifiably ‘absolute’ yet demonstratively probable, accurate, and correct – I think it behooves us to keep our default approach to truth claims sceptical… until the preponderance of evidence or whatever informs the idea to show itself as probably true, probably accurate, probably correct. This requires several elements: work to be done to inform the claim, a method has to be used, and a practical and trustworthy epistemology has to be relied upon. This falls on the promoter of the claim.

      When a claim is made that lacks this work, lacks a reliable method we can reasonably trust, lacks a respectable epistemology that yields useful and practical results, then we can make a reasonable counter claim that we’re dealing with woo and dismiss whatever the claim might be out of hand. It’s not our job to disprove a woo claim or give it time to be ‘deciphered’; that’s the job of whomever makes the claim. Lacking this reasonable basis, woo promoters should expect to have their empty claims greeted with reasonable intolerance and earned ridicule no matter what the subject may be.

      Scientific knowledge is not anchored by some kind of ‘absolute’ truth; it is anchored by a method that yields practical knowledge that works. What’s true is thus a deduction from a trustworthy method of inquiry. Without any such equivalent method of inquiry, a truth claim we can justifiably call woo is simply another faith-based belief empty of intellectual integrity and worthy of our collective disdain.

      This disdain is for poor conclusions, a lack of a trustworthy inquiry method, a broken epistemology, and not for ideas based on someone’s notion of its danger… to something or someone else. One cannot control whether or not an idea exists. After all, it either does exist or it does not and we have no say in the matter. But what is up for attention is whether or not it is a good idea… note the emphasis on the descriptor. But if the idea under review is impermeable to honest inquiry, then it is impervious to being informed with anything other than faith and we can forget about trying to establish any further knowledge about any descriptor you choose to apply to the idea. And we should be much more critical protecting and respecting this kind of ignorance and intolerant of its public promotion.

      Comment by tildeb — February 15, 2011 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  2. I’m curious if you have any ideas how you would wish that righteous intolerance to be expressed (beyond blogging)? Any suggestions about what laws and/or institutions should guard the one, single truth, and how? What deeds are to follow those bold words?

    Comment by FreeFox — February 15, 2011 @ 10:31 am | Reply

    • But this would be a rather over the top speech if all it wanted to achieve was for government health plans not to pay for homeopathy. This general call for intolerance towards the misuse of science, for a fight to accept only the one true truth and take a stand against the “idea that more than one truth is valid” must aim to pay bigger dividends than merely stopping the sale of amphor extracts and tiny sugar balls.
      If all it means is: let’s shout more and louder against the fruits, nuts, and flakes, well, I think you are straining your voice as it is. That would just be a grandiose way of saying business as usual. But if you aim for change in society, well, which instrument, which institution, which legal recourse do you want to take to implement the intolerance of logic?

      Comment by FreeFox — February 16, 2011 @ 1:48 am | Reply

      • Mis-information regarding climate change / environment, education etc. I suggest you read Ben Goldacre’s book or site – to gain more information about this debate. But essentially what Beddington is highlighting is the misrepresentation of science in the media and by politicians to support their dubious motives and claims.

        Key examples include the sacking of Professor Nutt in the UK over drugs policy – where a few hardline people who are against cannabis legalisation have the rather loud voice of the politicians and the enforcement of the law that is based on little evidence and undermines the scientific expertise in this area. Professor Nutt lost his job because his expertise was overruled.

        An other example is a certain Daily Telegraph newspaper reporter who shot to fame for writing the article about climate change (climate-gate)- what he failed to make clear is that he has NO scientific training, and didn’t have any of his assumptions reviewed before release – allowing his assumptions that were based on the cherry picking of a casual email sent between two scientists in private to be framed as scientific fact – and undermining public policy on carbon reductions.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 16, 2011 @ 2:36 am

    • The intolerance requested by Beddington is for the public domain, in areas like medicine and health and education. For example, in the AQA of the GCSE biology paper (pdf here) we find this gem of pseudo-science presented as science:

      QUESTION TWO

      There are several theories of how new species of plants and animals have developed.

      The statements below outline four of these theories.

      * Creationism: Each organism is made independently.
      Evolution does not occur.
      Gaps in the fossil record support this idea.

      * Intelligent Design: Living things work in too complex a way for them to have evolved by chance.
      A higher being has designed all living things.

      * Lamarckism: Changes occur during the lifetime of an individual.
      These changes can be passed on to offspring.

      * Darwinism: Variation exists between members of a population.
      Only the organisms best suited to a habitat survive.
      Survivors pass on their advantages to their offspring.

      Use the above information and your own knowledge and understanding to answer this question.

      Match the theories, A, B, C and D, with the numbers 1– 4 in the sentences.

      A Creationism
      B Intelligent Design
      C Lamarckism
      D Darwinism

      The idea that Manx cats, which have no tails, are the offspring of a cat which originally lost its tail in an accident could be used to support . . . 1 . . . .

      Unsuccessful competitors die and so do not reproduce, is part of the theory of . . . 2 . . . .

      The complicated way in which cells work can be used to support . . . 3 . . . .

      The observation that fossils of all the different kinds of animals appear suddenly in the rocks, with no evidence of ancestors, supports …4…

      There is so much factually incorrect material here it is difficult to fully appreciate, which has rightfully earned the ire of Jerry Coyne, mirrored but updated by Richard Dawkins. I await pz Myers’ contribution. But does this always have to fall on the shoulders of biologists when high schools and 75% of their biology teachers intentionally undermine the foundation of this science? Despite the latest victories over creationism in the courts,

      “considerable research suggests that supporters of evolution, scientific methods, and reason itself are losing battles in America’s classrooms,” according to Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer. Writing in the January 28, 2011, issue of Science (subscription required), Berkman and Plutzer review the results of their National Survey of High School Biology Teachers. From Science:

      “The data reveal a pervasive reluctance of teachers to forthrightly explain evolutionary biology,” with only 28% of teachers deemed effective educators with respect to evolution — and with as many as 13% of teachers explicitly advocating creationism. As for the remaining 60%, Berkman and Plutzer suggest that they “may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States than the smaller number of explicit creationists … even if unintentionally.”

      The “fruits, nuts, and flakes” need to be directly challenged every time they enter the public domain and should be met with policy intolerance by the public caretakers.

      Comment by tildeb — February 16, 2011 @ 9:03 am | Reply

      • Oh… so it is a call for public officials to be more prudent, show foresight, be confrontative where it’s right instead of politically convenient or to their own immediate benefit, and generally give a rat’s arse about the consequences beyond their immediate term of office… in other words you want them to act like wise, upright peeps with good judgement.

        *Comes back a few minutes later still wiping the tears from his eyes* Ahh, that was a good one.

        But please, go ahead. To each his cherrished illusions and silly, irrational beliefs…

        😉

        Comment by FreeFox — February 17, 2011 @ 4:59 am

  3. Society can start by not paying for homoeopathy on state run medical schemes, and for requiring that all medical claims made by the pushers of alternative medicines are clinically tested in the same way that pharmaceutical ones are.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 15, 2011 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  4. Ive always wondered how homeopathy was able to get state approval then I realized they probably do it the same way much of the pharmaceutical shit gets on the market. MONEY. Its amazing how quickly things become “scientific” when there is a payout at the end.

    Comment by Titfortat — February 15, 2011 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  5. Actually – big pharmaceutical projects can last up to 20 years – yes, that’s 20 years of clinical testing before a drug can get a licence to be used in the NHS (can’t speak about other systems – as I am British). There is a lot of testing that is done in these stages as well – and I mean a lot, and once the drug is released that is not the end of the trial either – drugs are monitored while they are in use within the NHS both for effectiveness and safety.

    Homoeopathy on the other hand is not – I could set myself up tomorrow and sell bottles of sugar pills or water and call it treatment for cancer tomorrow – no testing, no licence required at all – and NO bribery either.

    So while you are correct, we should not trust big pharma because of their vested interests – it is much much better than not having any methodology at all or trusting quacks with sugar pills on an individual basis. You also need to remember that your mistrust of big pharma is mirrored in the controls and licences that the government department imposes – again it is not perfect, but it is much better than the alternative.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 15, 2011 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  6. funny, this sounds exactly like right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity/Islam/Judaism…

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 23, 2011 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

    • Funny, if these theologies came with good reasons and represented what’s true in fact, no faith would be required. Faith-based beliefs drive pseudo-science as much as they drive religions and any comfort-producing superstitions.

      BTW, try telling a muslim that there is such a thing as “right-wing, fundamentalist Islam” and see what kind of response you get. It’s an eye-opener to be told there are only good muslims and bad ones, and the determining factor is how closely one submits to the qur’an to determine that difference. But, once again, your bias is showing: what you believe to be true is held in higher esteem that what is true and when you apply this mis-attribution to the world you are bound to be befuddled as in your example that intolerance is the problem when, in fact, it is a necessary part of the solution.

      Comment by tildeb — February 23, 2011 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

      • i was just at the local Muslim center today actually. i asked a similar question and the response was “every belief system has their zealots.” so you’re just that particular wing of science.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 23, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

      • When it comes to religious belief, one person’s zealot is another person’s moderate. What is it that differentiates them?

        When it comes to respecting what’s true and having a reliable method to inform what that may be with practical benefits that work, what differentiates a ‘zealot’ from a moderate… respecting all that is true compared to half? This makes no sense. But you know it makes no sense which is why you attempt to call this method of understanding another ‘belief’ system similar to religion. And, of course, science is no such thing but that will never deter you from throwing up the same old and tired obfuscation if you think it might help your opinion. And you’re okay doing this over and over because you value what you believe to be true over and above what is true by jettisoning exactly that which can differentiate between them.

        Comment by tildeb — February 23, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  7. What we are talking about here is the intolerance of tall claims that are made without supporting evidence, it really isn’t a difficult concept to grasp; it is only made to appear convoluted by those who wish to obfuscate the truth or the ineptly stupid.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 23, 2011 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

    • we make all sorts of claims without supporting evidence. all it takes is one experiment to disprove a theory and it all comes crashing down. so based on the knowledge we have now we accept these theories as true, and when we know better, we do better. this is true in every part of science… yet less common in mathematics and such and more common in the social sciences and theoretical aspects. what is supported today is debunked tomorrow.

      Comment by zero1ghost — February 23, 2011 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

      • See what I mean? You use the same old tired arguments that have been thoroughly refuted to keep on trying to support the unsupportable. Your notion of a scientific theory actually is, to put it bluntly, wrong. Please do a quick search on ‘scientific theory’ and educate yourself.

        We do not make all kinds of truth claims that have no supporting evidence… unless we are either 1) delusional, or 2) favouring a faith-based belief.

        Comment by tildeb — February 23, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

  8. “all it takes is one experiment to disprove a theory and it all comes crashing down.”

    zero1ghost – you seem to think science deals with absolutes – it does not.

    Take germ theory for the causes of disease: most people would agree that bacteria can be harmful, but is it true that all bacteria are harmful? Does this mean that germ theory is wrong if we find that not all bacteria are harmful? Or does it mean that we have more to learn about bacteria and the causes of disease?

    Most people would agree that smoking can cause lung cancer, do all smokers die of lung cancer? Does this mean the link between smoking and lung cancer is wrong? Or does it mean that some people are more inclined to be damaged by tobacco smoke?

    Science can learn from the evidence it uses to support its theories – unlike religion, which will ignore and obfuscate evidence that does not support its tall claim. In other words, religion will never admit that it is wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

    In contrast science will experiment (more than once) before it concludes what it believes to be a theory. In addition, there may be more than one theory each with supporting evidence – for example Newton’s explanation of gravity verses Einstein’s.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 24, 2011 @ 4:20 am | Reply

  9. “And you’re okay doing this over and over because you value what you believe to be true over and above what is true by jettisoning exactly that which can differentiate between them.”

    that’s quite a claim with no supporting evidence. i have seen this charged directed at atheists (and even to those who don’t believe the “right and true way”)by fundamentalists in my own religion with the exact same wording only with the word Gospel thrown in there some where. you have become the thing you hate.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 9:35 am | Reply

  10. “zero1ghost – you seem to think science deals with absolutes – it does not”

    i don’t. all i am saying is what every scientist worth his or her salt knows about the method. it’s not absolute. what i am saying is that you and tileb act like it is. stop it.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 9:36 am | Reply

    • Are you seriously asking me to stop infusing a very high degree of confidence in a practical method of inquiry that is not only self-correcting but constantly tested and verified that consistently produces results we can safely trust with our lives day in and day out? Do you honestly think that this trust, this confidence, should be held in equal or at least respectful regards to those who inform their understanding of the universe with Oogity Boogity?

      Comment by tildeb — February 24, 2011 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

    • You are also mistaken in thinking that atheists minds are closed in the same way that religious minds are – the difference here is I (as with many Atheists) regularly change my mind as and when new evidence comes to light.

      Atheists have no shame in not knowing something, and have no shame in being wrong about a fact. What I think you are having difficulty with is the notion of non-belief. Atheism is not a belief, I do not ‘believe’ in science or ‘worship’ it, I ‘think’ science has answers to the questions I have, based on the reasoning and evidence it presents – but most importantly I use my own critical thinking to decide whether or not the science adds up. I am actually very sceptical of scientific claims, because until the claim has evidence that is demonstrable and repeatable it is not believable.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 25, 2011 @ 3:42 am | Reply

  11. “We do not make all kinds of truth claims that have no supporting evidence… unless we are either 1) delusional, or 2) favouring a faith-based belief.”

    you absolutely do. the field of theoretical physics and all of quantum physics is in this realm as a great majority of these things can be observed or verified. take Steven Hawkin’s new book The Grand Design. no evidence in there nor do we know this. it has no supporting evidence, just a slant of view.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 9:39 am | Reply

    • Do you honestly think that theoretical physics is not fully informed by math, the kind of math that has been shown to yield practical results? It is the math that has led us to granting quantum mechanics legitimacy and its physics testable. The kind of faith held to be a virtue in theology is held to be a failing in every other area of human endeavor… including quantum mechanics. The supporting evidence is the math that works.

      Comment by tildeb — February 24, 2011 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

      • no, of course not. i only need you to recognize that the math you’re talking about doesn’t help much in the realm of social science or community building. i respect that about you, your linear mind and respect for science.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

      • Perhaps not, but it does inform theoretical physics and as such is supporting evidence.

        In contrast, are you suggesting that faith-based beliefs help inform the social sciences with supporting evidence? Are you suggesting that we look to faith-based beliefs to inform us how to build better communities, that faith-based beliefs offer us some method how to build inclusive and cohesive and tolerant communities that respect our differences?

        Comment by tildeb — February 24, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

    • You need to look at new set of technology called quantum computing – it should assure you that the physics works – i.e. it is practical, demonstrable and useful, and is starting to be used in industry for cryptography.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 24, 2011 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  12. and i need to read up on the scientific method? please. didn’t you accuse me of a Research Fallacy under a different name earlier? by george, it looks like we’re in the same boat.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 9:53 am | Reply

    • wow, seriously?!?

      Comment by Kopf.Adeyemi — February 24, 2011 @ 10:07 am | Reply

    • Yes, you do need to read up because no failed experiment alters a scientific theory. You would know this if you understood just how fully informed a theory actually is in order to be considered a theory.

      And yes, I probably did accuse you of this kind of fallacy because you refuse to admit what is obvious: scripture is full of factually incorrect truth claims that you then interpret in a variety of ways to make it seem acceptable without ever understanding the need for honest inquiry – including that used to explore scripture – to be open to change. Even theory is open to being changed if evidence warrants it because a theory is the best explanation we have. You will carefully note, however, that most scientific theories are as true today as when they were formulated because they were formulated based on all the evidence and not the cherry-picked bits and pieces that typically inform religious beliefs. There is a universe of difference in the approach, in the method, between the two and we should hold faith-based beliefs with the same open contempt that we hold for superstitious claims in all other areas of human inquiry – including you as you function in your daily life.

      Comment by tildeb — February 24, 2011 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

      • i didn’t say failed experiment. in fact, i was talking about a successful experiment that alters the theories that we have.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

      • Such as?

        Comment by tildeb — February 24, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

      • you’re the supposed expert on science, you can’t think of one example? you’re also the expert on Galileo too… his theories proving a nonheliocentric cosmos altered quite a bit of things. spilitting the atom goes against the idea that these are the smallest parts of matter… they were up until that point. newton’s laws held until then. also the fact that newtons third law isn’t always obeyed.. which helped us understand electromagnetic fields better. that’s just off the top of my head. but those experiments altered the way we think and the subsequent theories that came afterwards.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

      • That’s what I thought… you are confused but that’s not a crime and you’re hardly alone.

        Scientific theories have come about only in the last several hundred years (since Galileo, I would argue). They are not simply ideas that vary depending on the emergence of new and sometimes contrary data but explanations that have passed all testing and offers us an excellent framework to investigate this new and even contrary data. That’s why there are not that many of them (unless we dive into math theories and theories in the social sciences but I’m speaking of the natural sciences alone – chemistry, physics, astronomy, planetary science, geology, and biology). For example Einstein’s relativity did not overturn Newton’s theory of gravity but tweaked it in the sense of informing the explanation just that much more, that much better, that much more explanatory, taking care of some of the troubling weaknesses in the original theory. That’s a good thing. But as soon as you see the word theoretical be aware that the theory is hypothetical and has not yet been adequately tested but is used as a baseline for predictions to be made for this eventual body of testing.

        Off hand I cannot think of a scientific theory that has been overturned, but I can (like you) think of dozens of working hypothesis that have been. And that’s part of the beauty of the method of science: when something reaches the stage of being a scientific theory, we can bet the farm on it and be highly confident that it will continue to work even if the theory doesn’t offer us a complete explanation in all cases of all data. These theories do not vary like you think they do, are not subject to being typically correct today only to be incorrect tomorrow. Scientific theories carry a full compliment of verification and we routinely bet our lives on them being correct. It is this method that I hold in very high esteem and see the paucity of faith-based beliefs in comparison.

        On the one hand, any truth claim I think can be subjected to the same method of inquiry no matter what the subject under any faculty may be. On the other hand, preferences cannot. What I find alarming is how often specific truth claims are presented as if they were preferences, and I think this is a problem that isn’t going to go away any time soon. Those who try to present truth claims as relative are usually the worst offenders and they perhaps unwittingly undermine the foundation of our knowledge: our respect for what is true (and what can be shown to be true time after time, here and there, yesterday and today, by thee and by me regardless of our preferences). In its place, these offenders substitute what is believed to be true and pretend that these equivalent states of knowledge. But scientific theories like gravity and evolution and plate tectonics are simply not relative to our beliefs; they describe and explain true phenomena regardless of our beliefs. And this is of vital importance to all of us: just look at how low the numbers are of, say, Americans about climate change theory compared to, say, belief in angels. The fact that nearly twice as many Americans believe that angels are true but anthropomorphic climate change is not shows just how disconnected so many people are from appreciating and respecting why what’s true is not relative, is not a matter of preferences and toleration of differences of opinions. What’s true matters a very great deal. We have zero knowledge about angels and gobs of knowledge about how human activity affects the various energy systems that drive our climate. The two are not equivalent states of knowledge and the number of people who think each is a kind of belief – a ‘way of knowing’ – perfectly compatible to informing the claim with knowledge because of belief are badly confused. And this confusion, this toleration of ignorance to be equivalent to knowledge, carries with it a deadly effect. Just look to vaccines and homeopathy in place of medical treatment to show why ignorance is no substitute, no compatible method, to respecting knowledge based on what’s true. This very real human cost is too high a price to pay and each of us has an obligation to teach others why what’s true matters.

        If one wishes to respect what’s true, one has to be willing to put aside that which we would like to believe is true – that we would prefer to be true. This is the ongoing struggle each of us faces because every one of us is so easily fooled by favouring the preferences I and you hold dear. It seems at first to be a sacrifice to give up the comfort of our biases in favour of carrying the burden of sceptical critical thinking in the name of what’s true, but it isn’t. It is liberating. It is empowering. It is having the courage to exercise intellectual integrity.

        Comment by tildeb — February 24, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  13. “In contrast, are you suggesting that faith-based beliefs help inform the social sciences with supporting evidence?”
    -no. i am suggesting faith-based communities help inform the social sciences with supporting evidence and some in fact drive it. family systems theory was generated by a rabbi (Generation to Generation by Freedman) and has been picked up in congregational settings, including my good friend Peter Stienke and his work.

    “Are you suggesting that we look to faith-based beliefs to inform us how to build better communities, that faith-based beliefs offer us some method how to build inclusive and cohesive and tolerant communities that respect our differences?”
    -depends. and here’s where your empirical mind would help out. some build very strong communities that are extremely intolerant of others. while others do all the above. while still others are extremely inclusive and tolerant but fail on the community aspect. going by my experience and general observation in my area, i would state that the mega-churches and the Latter Day Saints do the first, we do the middle along with some other mainline denominations to varying degrees of success, while the unitarian universalists take the latter.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  14. “Atheists have no shame in not knowing something, and have no shame in being wrong about a fact.”
    -something we share…

    “What I think you are having difficulty with is the notion of non-belief. Atheism is not a belief,”
    -based on what?

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 25, 2011 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

  15. oh, forgot to deal with “Atheism is not a belief,”

    yes it is. it’s not a belief system but it is a belief.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 25, 2011 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

    • Well, if atheism is a belief, then so too are you just filled to the brim with beliefs you don’t have. What a clear concept that is.

      Comment by tildeb — February 25, 2011 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

      • you’re right! i do brim with beliefs i don’t have! i also brim with beliefs i DO have.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 25, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

      • He he – brilliantly put tildeb.

        z1g: Atheism is a statement of non-belief – I don’t believe in god in the same way most reasonable, educated and sensible people do not believe in unicorns, Santa, little green men on the moon, flat earth theory, Panten Pro-Vitamin B5, anti-aging cream etc. – in other words I have total contempt for religion because I think it is bullshit, and as such it has no place in decision making process for the governance for our society -i.e. education, health and law.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 26, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  16. i know all that. thanks for the recap however. and while certain aspects of Newton stood or were clarified by Einstein, some were completely dissolved in certain settings, such as the electromagnetic fields and the 3rd principle. well, “tweaked” as you put it.

    “If one wishes to respect what’s true, one has to be willing to put aside that which we would like to believe is true – that we would prefer to be true.”
    -this depends on the defined truth which you haven’t done. i refer you to my buddy’s blog for further clarification.

    “atheist have no problem admiting they’re wrong.”
    -i have yet to see either of you two admit this… irony knows no bounds.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 25, 2011 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

    • See here for just such an example about me being wrong in my understanding and having several people in the comments section help me understand my error and correct it.

      As for the ‘defined’ truth, you again speak as if this state were absolute. I keep trying to explain that what is true is revealed by a method that remains the best one we have for finding that which is consistent and reliable over time for everybody.

      With the example of relativity clarifying gravity, you are not really suggesting that “what is supported today is debunked tomorrow” and that theories from a single experiment “come crashing down” are you? You are not really saying that the theory of gravity – physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass – has come crashing down and has been debunked when Einstein clarified that Newton’s force only appeared so but was really inertia, are you? I am relieved that you have clarified in your own mind that scientific theories are, in fact, very stable explanations that can be corrected as our understanding clarifies and improves, which is really quite a bit different that theories crashing around us like we’re in a daily meteor shower.

      Comment by tildeb — February 25, 2011 @ 5:19 pm | Reply

  17. “you again speak as if this state were absolute.”
    -i wish i knew where you were picking this up… cause i’m not seeing it.

    “I keep trying to explain that what is true is revealed by a method that remains the best one we have for finding that which is consistent and reliable over time for everybody.”
    -yikes! a revelatory method of truth?! where have i heard that before?!

    “what is supported today is debunked tomorrow”
    -nope. i’m not. they are very stable, never meant to imply they aren’t. merely that they are changing and constantly being tweaked. i think we both can agree on that.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 25, 2011 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

    • I am picking that up by the way you keep asserting ‘defined’ truth as if it were one thing rather than the result of a trustworthy method of inquiry.

      Where have you heard of a revelatory method of truth? You’ve heard of it in your theological claims. So let’s talk method rather than pretend what science reveals is equivalent to the kind of revelation in theological terms that supposedly comes straight down the pipe from the divine Master. They ain’t equivalent methods because the emphasis in science is not on the ‘revealing’ itself but on the integrity of the method that informs it – its trustworthiness from which we derive its value for creating trustworthy knowledge. Religious ‘truths’ in the same scientific sense have no equivalent method.

      Of course you meant to imply that scientific theories were much like right wing fundamentalist faith-based beliefs but actually more unstable: we make all sorts of claims without supporting evidence. all it takes is one experiment to disprove a theory and it all comes crashing down. so based on the knowledge we have now we accept these theories as true, and when we know better, we do better. this is true in every part of science… what is supported today is debunked tomorrow. That doesn’t describe tweaking, nor was it ever intended to do so. You attempted to equate the stability derived from the method of science to be equivalent to the intransigence of religious fundamentalists. This is a misrepresentation of the results of scientific inquiry because it utterly fails to account for the differences in methodology and appeals instead to the shallow appearance a firmly held poition as if they were the same. They’re not and you know they’re not. Yet in defense of your faith you are willing to stoop to such measures because your methodology for faith-based claims is dressed in the same finery as the Emperor.

      Comment by tildeb — February 25, 2011 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

      • “I am picking that up by the way you keep asserting ‘defined’ truth as if it were one thing rather than the result of a trustworthy method of inquiry.”
        -i believe that is your bias coming through about me than me asserting anything. you constantly keep saying what i believe yet i have given you no evidence of such things. you’re making it up all on your own. sad really.

        as for the revealing thing, it was a joke, an aside, a jab.

        “You attempted to equate the stability derived from the method of science to be equivalent to the intransigence of religious fundamentalists.”
        -no, i didn’t. i am equating your attitude towards the method of science and thus the intolerance of any and all things religious as being the exact same as religious fundamentalists.

        “Yet in defense of your faith you are willing to…”
        -i have yet to defend my faith when talking to you… mainly because you know nothing about it nor could name what theologians i follow or what tradition i come out of. to you it’s all the same, it’s all nonsense. which is what makes you a fundamentalist… no nuance, only your dear and precious “truth” claim.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 26, 2011 @ 10:25 am

      • Ah yes, nuance… the ultimate defense of those who make faith-based claims but refuse to pinned down to what they actually believe because when push comes to shove, they don’t actually believe in anything that is describable in specifics. You will note that I didn’t imply that I knew specifically about the details of your faith; I actually wrote that your defense stoops to such measures (as intentional misrepresentations) because your faith-based methodology is absent like the Emperor’s finery. You seem to me to be describing this absence a nuance!

        What you believed I inferred was not what I implied, but you seem to really struggle figuring out why that trust you place in your method of belief is an intellectual problem.

        Hmm….

        Comment by tildeb — February 27, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  18. “Atheism is a statement of non-belief”
    -read closer, your buddy denied this. so it can’t be brilliantly put when your first statement back to me contradicts his. i get this, not very hard to comprehend. what drives me nuts about you both is you make universal claims with no evidence (the very thing you’re trying to decry me for) and say things like this:

    “in other words I have total contempt for religion because I think it is bullshit,”
    -all religion? all aspects of religion? which specific religions rate less on the bullshit meter and others more? or are we lumping them all in? what about those religions whose doctrines do not center around worshiping a deity like Buddhism, Taoism, and Christian-Deism? sounds rather short-sighted.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 27, 2011 @ 7:53 am | Reply

  19. “Ah yes, nuance… the ultimate defense of those who make faith-based claims but refuse to pinned down to what they actually believe because when push comes to shove, they don’t actually believe in anything that is describable in specifics.”
    -didn’t you just “instruct” me on the basics of the scientific method and about how theories are formed and re-formed and how i missed the nuance? pot, this is the kettle…

    “What you believed I inferred was not what I implied, but you seem to really struggle figuring out why that trust you place in your method of belief is an intellectual problem.”
    -this means nothing to me. it is null but sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 27, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

    • You wrote which is what makes you a fundamentalist… no nuance, only your dear and precious “truth” claim.

      Two important points here. The first is that because you insist I have no ‘nuance’, you apparently do because your purpose is to show that you grasp what I do not, that there is more than just dear and precious truth claims to understanding. But you failed to grasp the nuance I presented earlier, so I figure the word is more of a handy-dandy verbal tool for your faith-based claims to hide behind rather than a word whose meaning needs to be exercised on behalf of improving your comprehension and thus your understanding.

      The other important point is that you denigrate what’s claimed to be true by suggesting that inquiring after it is dear and precious to me (I have freely admitted this as a point of intellectual integrity) but not to you… inferred from your use of the word “your.” This also implies that the nuance you wish to elevate is unrelated to what’s true yet still of some kind of value. I think this clearly reveals an intellectual capitulation of maintaining integrity towards determining what’s true and shows a preference to elevate whatever is handy to support whatever is simply believed to be true. To me, that reveals a fatal weakness in your line of reasoning, one that backs up my assertion that those who trust faith-based beliefs and try to convince others that this offers us some ‘other way of knowing’ don’t really care about what’s true.

      Comment by tildeb — February 27, 2011 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

      • you feel better about yourself now? okay, good. here’s the deal. when someone makes an absolute statement like “all religion is bullshit” and then continues with this line of reasoning without any evidence, without defining what is religion and thus what religions are bullshit, then i can only think that all this stuff about “preference to elevate whatever is handy to support whatever is simply believed to be true.” is not so much about me, and more about.

        you are a cat in a litter box trying to cover up the stink you made and trying to lay the blame on me.

        the continual “you make absolute claims” and “you’re dealing in absolutes” is exactly what you’re doing with your “all religion is bullshit” even though in another post you gave me, supposedly about how you view truth came directly out of one of the oldest religions on the planet. when in fact the post was a nice fluff piece that showed nothing about “what is true” and how you arrive at this. you continually dodge this question yet claim you’re not an empiricist. which you’re right, you ask no questions, gather no data, only keep claiming the same thing.

        the only way a fundamentalist can stay a fundamentalist is if they ignore data. so i’ll leave you to it. your absolutely claims and your continual denial of the fact that religion may do some good, despite it’s obvious shortcomings and twisted (in your opinion) metaphysic.

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 28, 2011 @ 9:54 am

  20. Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my
    good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I
    will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by natural treatment Claremont — November 1, 2012 @ 9:45 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: