Category Archives: Debate

The Bomb in the Brain. About Child Abuse: A Danger to World Stability.

Very important information about possible effects of child abuse (of both the mental – like neglect or bullying – and physical/sexual kind).

Many good links.

Nevertheless, I want to add this link too: https://spiritandanimal.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/the-bomb-in-the-brain-the-effects-of-child-abuse-information-clearing-house-ich-3/

The video is entitled: The Bomb in the Brain – The Effects of Child Abuse.

NeuroNotes

Physical as well as psychological abuse of the child is not only harmful but highly dangerous. Not only for the individual but under certain circumstances for whole nations. ~ A. Miller, Ph.D

Watch (Warning – video contains graphic material)

It is now clear that what a child experiences in the first few years of life largely determines how his brain will develop and how he/she will interact with the world throughout his life.—Ounce of Prevention Fund

Our brains are sculpted by our early experiences. Maltreatment is a chisel that shapes a brain to contend with strife, but at the cost of deep, enduring wounds. —Teicher

According to the World Health Organization,  ‘World Report on Violence and Health’,  children who grow up in a violent environment are more likely to be victims of child abuse. Those who are not direct victims have some of the same behavioral…

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17 not-so-stupid questions for Atheists

I found this nice and lovely post on Tiffany’s Non-Blog (run by Tiffany267, a “professional” bullshit debunker and, at the same time, pearl finder); see: https://tiffany267.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/questions-for-atheists-asked-and-answered/

Tiffany267 tells her followers that the original post can be read here: https://boldquestions.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/17-not-so-stupid-questions-for-atheists/

She also gave this motivation for “reblogging” the post: “One of my favorite atheist bloggers shared this list of questions targeted to atheists and some wonderful responses. Please enjoy!”

I just say: Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I – and seemingly Tiffany267 – did.

From now on I’m following this “Question With Boldness” blog.

Question With Boldness

Godless Mom was contacted by a christian student with a series of questions.  And, surprise, instead of being “gotcha” questions, they seem to be actual genuine questions, a real effort to understand non-belief.  So I’ll answer them here, and also cross-post them in the comments to the original blog entry, here:

http://godlessmom.com/questions-for-atheists-from-a-college-student-answer-them-yourself/?utm_content=buffera2f92&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Other bloggers and commenters have answered them, but I’m going to give my own answers without comparison to theirs.  So I apologize if this comes out as repetitive.

1. Why are you an atheist?

Because I don’t have enough evidence to warrant belief in any god.

2. Have you ever believed in a Higher Power?

Sure, I was raised liberal Protestant, and it was just the assumption everyone made.  God’s in charge, Jesus loves you, so let’s sing some more songs about love.  I was the kid that was involved in everything – Sunday school, youth group, youth…

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

The existence of a Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is often denied by true believers and others who support religious beliefs and think that religious faith is good for humanity.

But the RTS is, indeed, for real. Many tears have been shed because of that sort of traumas.

So, please, read Valerie Tarico’s take on this important topic very carefully.

Also read Marlene Winell’s take (in three parts) on that same subject on the Ex-Christian blog:

Part 1 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/06/religious-trauma-syndrome-its-time-to.html .

Part 2 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/07/understanding-religious-trauma-syndrome.html .

Part 3 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/11/trauma-from-leaving-religion.html

It’s not going to extremes calling religion a poisonous method that obstructs and complicates people’s endeavours to find a high quality of life. It also hinders you from becoming a really “free” thinker, one who is allowed to study any books s/he likes.

Many philosophers, politicians and scientists have expressed their gloomy ideas of religion and its future.

For example, Karl Marx said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

Frederick II once said: “Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand”.

Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich”.

Friedrich Nietzsche said. “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point”.

He also said: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad”.

Albert Einstein (who didn’t believe in any personal God of the Abrahamic kind) said. Science without religion is lame, [but] religion without science is [also] blind.
At the same time he also said: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity”.

If Albert Einstein had been alive today, I think he would have stated: Things about religion seemingly have to become worse before they at last can be transformed to a non-poisonous life philosophy. There is still a very long way to go for today’s religions all around the world.

BTW, talking of promoting science and reason, have a look at this blog post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/about-thinking/201510/what-can-we-learn-ben-carsons-brain .

From that blog post we learn that, unfortunately,neither intelligence nor (high) education is able to promote ‘good thinking’.

And finally, my own take on this:

Religious cults are nowadays mostly confined to having to rely on ‘God of the Gaps’ arguments. The primary goal for today’s cult leaders has become to try to convince their ignorant and incredulous followers that science is, always, wrong, meaning that it’s, also always, better to believe in what holy scriptures like the Bible and Koran say is the truth. That strategy is also known as intellectual dishonesty.

ValerieTarico.com

Religious Trauma Syndrome- AnguishAt age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help…

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Science vs. religion: How to evaluate evidence. Original title: What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?

This blog post is entitled “What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?”

Nevertheless this scholarly essay-like post should be tagged as belonging to the religion vs. science debate.

So the elephant (or elephant metaphor) isn’t the important thing here. Instead, it’s much more about evidence and how to interpret evidence of divine beings a.k.a. gods or Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs).

I’ve written a long comment to Charles Rogers’ blog post. And that comment I’m going to insert as an introduction and complement on my own blog.

Here is my comment almost in extenso:

In the introduction you wonder what an atheist would say after he had examined your elephant. You suggest that maybe the atheist would say: “There is no elephant.”

No, I don’t think so. If I were the atheist, I would instead say the following (fasten your safety belt because it will be a very long, and partly bumpy, ride):

Now I enter the podium to give my “TED Talk”:

Listen. folks! No one knows enough to prove – in an objective way – what this object (called, by some, an elephant) is we have in front of us.

Yet your claims of what some of you have found and concluded, by examination of the object, are of the absolute kind. You show no relativism at all in your theory buildings. That I would call a preposterous and presumptuous take on this special matter.

If your hypothesis (your theory building) can be shown to be wrong in some detail (or some details), then your hypothesis can’t be totally correct. And then it’s no longer an absolute hypothesis; It has become a relativistic one.

That is, for sure, not good for the credibility of a hypothesis claiming to represent the absolute TRUTH.

Therefore, if I can show you, maybe even convince you, by demonstrating in a theoretical way that some details your hypotheses rely on can’t be correct, then that in turn must mean – and the conclusion be – that I have invalidated your hypotheses and that you are obliged to elaborate more in order to face the challenges they don’t meet at the moment.

Wait, don’t leave me now. I’ve got more to tell you. Please, be seated again, don’t leave.

Let’s look at your hypotheses from yet another angle. If you agree that you are all damn sure just your interpretation of the object is the only correct one, then you also insist that only you are the one who has got the absolute TRUTH about this object we all have examined here today.

So, what does that implicate? If more than one of you insist just they have found the absolute TRUTH, of course all of you (claiming that you’ve found the absolute truth) can’t be right. N’est-ce pas (Isn’t it)?

Now I want to paraphraze Christopher Hitchens. He used to say this: Let’s suppose there are 3,000 religions in the world. If 2,999 of them are deemed false by you, would it not then be more honest if you admitted that this indicates that also the 3,000th religious faith probably is a false one?

Or why should just your religious faith be the one winning the top lottery prize?

Some of you (who claim you’ve found the absolute TRUTH) MUST, are bound to, be wrong, Only one can, by definition, win the top lottery prize. Either you win it – or you don’t. Tertium non datur (meaning there is no middle alternative in which more than one can win. But at the same time it’s possible that no one wins the top lottery prize because it’s possible the winning ticket remains in the tombola).

The conclusion must therefore be like this: Two existing religious claims of having found the absolute TRUTH can’t both be correct at the same time, i.e. either the claim X is right and claim Y is wrong – or claim X is wrong and claim Y is right. And, as said in the paragraph above, of course nothing prohibits that both claim X and claim Y are wrong at the same time.

Oh, I see that some of you seem to be ready to leave the room now. Please, don’t! Instead continue listening, folks, because I’ve got some more interesting things to say.

Have you heard of something called science – and scientific research?

Good!

Then you should know that science is not about claiming to have found any absolute TRUTH. All real science is relativistic. It conveys no absolute TRUTHS. That’s how science works.

Rather, it accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses. By doing this, science can show – even demonstrate – that some phenomena must be incompatible with the laws of physics (at least in the way we currently understand them).

And believe me, we understand those physical laws better and better.

This also shows the great advantage of science: It accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses.

So, If I can show you that religious (faith) ideas are incompatible with the laws of physics as we currently understand them today, by having accumulated empirical evidence for them during hundreds of years, then the probability is very high that they actually are correct, since they are supported by all this evidence.

Please notice I’m now talking of probabilities, not absoluteness. That’s how science works.

In fact we all rely on and have trust in probabilities.

For example. let’s say I invite you to play the lethal game of Russian roulette (just as an example, don’t try this at home) and offer you two different revolvers, one with one of its six chambers loaded with a round and the other six-shooter loaded with five rounds. Then I’m pretty sure you’ll choose to use the revolver with only one round in its six chambers. N’est-ce pas?

So probability is something we all have to deal with in our daily lives. And we rely on what probability tells us.

As a matter of fact, because scientific data are based on not only observations but also on experimental data, we should be allowed to regard science to be more reliable than religious faith, since such faith is based solely on subjective emotions and feelings, and we know today that emotion-based knowledge is very unreliable (just as memories and testimonies are).

In short, there is a constantly increasing amount of evidence supporting the view that those people who believe in gods (i.e. have a religious faith) probably have fallen prey to unreliable inner experiences/feelings, false memories, unreliable testimonies from others, different kinds of biases (like confirmation bias, wishful thinking and so on).

So religious faith and science are like two boxers in the boxing ring. In one corner you find a boxer who trusts the laws of physics (finding them very reliable because they have been tested so many times by so many different scientists and by such an enormous number of rigorous and high-precision experiments that they leave no room for religious beings driven by as yet undiscovered kinds of energy).

In in another corner of the boxing ring you find the religiously true believer, who says, “I trust my gut feelings and they tell me to believe there is a divine entity governing and/or guiding our lives.

Their boxing gloves contains arguments. These arguments are used to knock out the opponent.

The scientific boxer is supported by a coach who tells him: IF there still are undetected forms of energy “out there”, that must mean those new kinds of energy have to interact with the already known energy forms. But this – as you have seen – does not happen. Take the GPS as an example. Thanks to the GPS we can find out pretty exactly where we happen to be on the surface of Earth. If there were still undetected energy forms, they should interact with the GPS. But we can’t find any traces of such interactions.

And the coach continues: Spoon-bending is another good example. Spoons are made of atoms (exactly as all other objects are). Today’s physicists know exactly how much energy is available in a spoon. They also know the masses of the atoms (forming a spoon). They also know the kinetic energy of thermal motions within the metal the spoon is made of.

In short, and taken together, we can say without hesitating the least, that any new particles, or hidden energies, that might exist within a spoon would have been detected long ago in experiments made by physicists all over the world. BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE.

The scientific boxer becomes dull of confidence that he’s going to win the boxing match.

The coach of the religiously true believer tells his client. Just believe in God. And if you also pray to God between the rounds, you can’t lose. God never desert His believers. And if He does, and you lose the boxing fight, then there is a meaning behind that godly decision, maybe to make you a humbler man or something like that.

Now I reach the end of my lecture.

Therefore I decide turn to KK, the medicine man of this RWT community/group, directly.

Dear, KK, My answer to your question how an atheist would describe the elephant-like object can be summarized in the follopwing way:

I believe the four well-known natural physical laws are correct. They have been validated in millions of experiments over the years.

These four natural physical laws leave no room for beliefs in divine entities.

So either the physical laws are correct (using that adjective in the scientific way). and the belief that we are surrounded or at least influenced by divine entities is wrong.

Or else all the accumulated knowledge that physics has gained and validated so far (during many centuries) must be thrown in the dust-bin and be considered more or less worthless.

It this were the case, then today’s physicists would advise us not to rely on the GPS. And the physicists should admit that, of course, spoons can be bended spontaneously, by themselves, and that, also of course, a broken window can be whole again (by reversing the time arrow) etc.

I myself find it much easier to believe in Santa Claus than to believe that all accumulated and validated data in the field of physics should be thrown in the dust-bin.

Concerning your elephant metaphor, KK, i tell you this: I didn’t get the opportunity to examine the whole elephant-liek object, neither did the other examinators get that opportunity. So I avoid expressing my thoughts of what constitutes the elephant-like object. And I find it impossible to make a complete and all-encompassing statement about your elephant-like object. No absolute TRUTHS can be said of that object.

Therefore I choose to criticize all the other examinators for trying to launch absolute explanations of what the object really is. By doing that, they are not honest people. Cf. the saying “Lying for Jesus”, Even the church fathers had a long tradition of lying for Jesus. See for example:https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A7x9UnwBIBVWwgIAURU_Ogx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByaGwzcXNvBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDOARjb2xvA2lyMgR2dGlkAw–?qid=20090125072821AA3Fv7m

I hope you are satisfied with my answer, KK.

BTW, I recommend you to read this article: http://www.livescience.com/52364-origins-supernatural-relgious-beliefs.html. It’s about the plausible origins of supernatural/magical and religious beliefs. A very interesting article, also summarizing today’s knowledge of the matter.

Please, tell me your thoughts of what can be read in that article.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. At the risk of offending someone, I suggest That Moses, Jesus, and other iconic giants describe a part of the elephant.[1]  What did the Atheist say after his examination? “There is no elephant”?

I wrote, “The Individual, the Family, the Tribe.”(2)

http://therogerspost.com/2015/10/03/individual-tribe/

My friend and sparring…

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Refuting ICR (Part I): “Cause and Effect”

A very good article about arguments used on the ICR website to prove the existence of God – and how they can be refuted.

ICR stands for the Institution for Creation Research, probably one of the most famous – or rather notorious – sites on the internet, promoting creationism and other religious true believer bullshit.

Rounaqb is, as I have written before, an unusually clever blogger and, as such, also good at logical reasoning, which you all can see, if you read his newest blog article, which is now reblogged my me.

Because the most important of the ICR God arguments revolves round cause and effect, I think my own comment, given in the comment field below rounaqb’s blog, can be seen as a kind of summary of what is at issue here (at least some aspects thereof). So I choose to re-use the content of my comment also here in this “introduction”, to my own readers, of rounaqb’s refutation arguments.

I wrote: If something has a cause it’s pretty easy to believe that this same cause also has a meaning.

Why being a cause without having a meaning as well?

Being a cause, which is often bothersome in itself, without any meaning at all, wouldn’t that be “meaningless”, almost a waste of time and energy?

I think evolution has given us a brain that is constantly searching for causes. AND, therefore, meaning, too

If you can’t find any visible cause while looking around you, then the brain tries to invent Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs).

Your brain seems to prefer HCAs capable of also conveying, at the same time, an “attached” message of meaning.

It looks, according to your brain, like the HCA does this to you to reward or punish you.

Thereby you can imagine – and feel – there is a locus of control located inside yourself. Or in other words, it seems, at last partly, that it’s up to you if the HCA causing/originating the cause will choose to reward, or punish, you for your deeds.

When in doubt, you can always ask the sage of your tribe/group/community.

That sage has often many similarities to a medicin man, a shaman or a priest (a.k.a. god interpreter).

With that said, I hope you are going to acquaint yourselves with rounaqb’s own arguments.

I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Refuting God

cause-effectGoogling ‘evidence for God’, the first suggestion Google gives(at least in my location) is the official website of The Institution for Creation Research. The title seemed quite interesting to me, probably because I thought that here I will get most of typical theistic arguments, well presented. It didn’t disappoint me in that sense. I got what I expected. There are three ‘lines of evidences’ ICR has proposed. The law of causality, “the triune universe” and “design and purpose”. So, I am introducing this series, through which I will try to refute the proposed arguments from ICR. So, let’s begin.

1.Everything has a cause.
The article starts with “In ordinary experience, one knows intuitively that nothing happens in isolation”. This statement is true, as it clearly mentions ‘ordinary experiences’ and ‘intuition’. Of course, our ordinary experiences always tell us the an effect must have a cause, like…

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REBLOGGED: Bible vs Quran—Test Your Knowledge of Who Deserves Death in Which Religion. About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence.

About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence

According to the social sciences religion increases trust among congregants (i.e. among those who already know each other by belonging to the same group). But at the same time religion causes trust to drop towards unfamiliar people (i.e. those outside the congregation or group).

That’s why religion (religious faith) correlates so well with xenophobia and racism. For more details, see http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Xenophobia.aspx .

Here’s an interesting quote from that article:

[I]t is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between racism and xenophobia because they exhibit similar motivations for exclusive behavior designed to demean others and the exercise of political violence. However, there is one element missing in racism that is often present in xenophobia: religious identity. Manifestations of xenophobia occur not only against people with different physical characteristics but also against those of similar background who are believed to hold different and presumably dangerous and hostile religious convictions.

When it comes to the point of relationship, specifically, between religion and violence, see for example http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousviolencecauses/ .

OK, I admit that not all pundits agree with my somewhat simplified correlations that seem to show how toxic religious faith can be with regard to interpersonal relationships. Karen Armstrong, for example, is of a different opinion, see this review of one of her books: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular .

But if I am to be accused of being a cherry-picker, then all those denying or minimizing the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism, and violence clearly must be cherry-pickers as well.

As a matter of fact, my views on this relationship are more mainstream than Karen Armstrong’s. Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence#Abrahamic_religions .

Let me quote from that Wikipedia article:

Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that “Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in “sacred texts” and until each affirms nonviolent power of God.”

Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.

Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, “(t)he history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence.”

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn’t just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.

Bruce Feiler writes that “Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible”.

(END OF QUOTE)

Anyhow, it would have been very interesting to ponder how Karen Armstrong and her followers would have answered, and commented on, this quiz of 30 holy verses, taken from the Bible or Qu’ran that Valerie Tarico, one of my favorite bloggers, wants her readers to take.

You don’t even need to take the quiz to understand that Abrahamic religions have caused many sufferings and wrong-doings both past and present.

So, thank you very much, Valerie, for this disclosing quiz and blog post!

ValerieTarico.com

quran vs bible 2The world has watched in horror while members of ISIS justify the next mass murder or icy execution with words from the Quran, followed by shouts of Allahu Akbar—God is the greatest! If beliefs have any power whatsoever to drive behavior—and as a psychologist I think they do—there can be little doubt that the Quran’s many endorsements of violence play a role in how exactly ISIS has chosen to pursue religious and political dominion.

At the same time, it should be equally clear a sacred text filled with violence is insufficient to trigger mass brutality unless other conditions are present as well. Culture, empathy, education and empowerment—and other factors that scholars understand only in part—appear to have a protective influence, safeguarding even most fundamentalists against the worst teachings of their own tradition. We know this in part because the Bible contains commandments and stories that are as horrific as…

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THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES: 24 common ways of wrong-thinking that often lead to distorted conclusions.

All of us every now and then fall a victim to logical wrong-thinking. In fact we are full of intellectual vices.
Sometimes this mental deficit or dysfunction/malfunction is called LMD (the Lazy Mind Syndrome). Read more about LMS here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/16/920860/-BEWARE-Lazy-Mind-Syndrome-LMS-growing-mental-disorder-in-U-S-endangers-our-American-democracy# .
LMS seems to be unusually prevalent in religiously true believers. Probably that’s why the representatives of the American political American Right show such a profound intellectual dishonesty and indulge in angry, arrogant and dishonest rantings and never – or at least very rarely – apologize for their blind misstatements, personal attacks, under-handed insinuations and direct factual contradictions.
While googling for Lazy Mind-articles I also found this pdf article: THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES: 24 common ways of wrong-thinking that often lead to distorted conclusions. See:  https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/pdf/FallaciesPoster16x24.pdf .
I immediately understood that this overview of common logical fallacies can explain many, if not all, of the misstatements done by both religious and political (yes, you’re right, they ARE overlapping each other in a very distinct manner) true believers.
A logical fallacy is defined as a flaw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments that are weak tend to use logical fallacies to appear stronger than they are. They are frequently, and often also very sneakily, used by politicians, priests, ministers and others twho earn a living by fooling people in one way or another.
So don’t be fooled! Take a look at these 24 common methods and techniques that so often are used by true believers.
Because the poster with the 24 logical fallacies is published under a Creative Commons No Derivative Works license 2012, by a man named Jesse Richardson, you are free to print, copy, and redistribute this artwork, with the binding provison that you reproduce it in full so that others may share alike.
Here are the 24 logical fallacies that thou shalt not commit yourself and that thou shalt look for when meeting and debating a true believer.
1) STRAWMAN: Misrepresenting someone’s argument to make it easier to attack. By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine rational debate.
After Will said that we should put more money into health and education, Warren responded by saying that he was surprised that Will hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenceless by cutting military spending
2) FALSE CAUSE: Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.
Pointing to a fancy chart, Roger shows how temperatures have been rising over the past few centuries, whilst at the same time the numbers of pirates have been decreasing; thus pirates cool the world and global warming is a hoax.
3) APPEAL TO EMOTION: Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument. Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy, hatred, pity, guilt, and more. Though a valid, and reasoned, argument may sometimes have an emotional aspect, one must be careful that emotion doesn’t obscure or replace reason.
Luke didn’t want to eat his sheep’s brains with chopped liver and brussels sprouts, but his father told him to think about the poor, starving children in a third world country who weren’t fortunate enough to have any food at all.
4) THE FALLACY FALLACY: Presuming a claim to be necessarily wrong because a fallacy has been committed. It is entirely possibly to make a claim that is false yet argue with logical coherency for that claim, just as is possible to make a claim that is true and justify it with various fallacies and poor arguments.
Recognising that Amanda had committed a fallacy in arguing that we should eat healthy food because a nutritionist said it was popular, Alyse said we should therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgers every day.
5) SLIPPERY SLOPE: Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen. The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to baseless extreme hypotheticals. The merits of the original argument are then tainted by unsubstantiated conjecture.
Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the next thing we know we’ll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys.
6) AD HOMINEM: Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument. Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or casting doubt on their character. The result of an ad hom attack can be to undermine someone without actually engaging with the substance of their argument.
After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case for a more equitable taxation system, Sam asks the audience whether we should believe anything from a woman who isn’t married, was once arrested, and smells a bit weird.
7) TU QUOQUE: Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – answering criticism with criticism. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off the accused having to defend themselves and shifts the focus back onto the accuser themselves.
Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy, but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation.
8) PERSONAL INCREDULITY: Saying that because one finds something difficult to understand, it’s therefore not true. Subjects such as biological evolution via the process of natural selection require a good amount of understanding before one is able to properly grasp them; this fallacy is usually used in place of that understanding.
Kirk drew a picture of a fish and a human and with effusive disdain asked Richard if he really thought we were stupid enough to believe that a fish somehow turned into a human through just, like, random things happening over time.
9) SPECIAL PLEADING: Moving the goalposts or making up exceptions when a claim is shown to be false. Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong. Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one’s mind through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old beliefs.
Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his ‘abilities’ were tested under proper scientific conditions, they magically disappeared. Edward explained this saying that one had to have faith in his abilities for them to work.
10) LOADED QUESTION: Asking a question that has an assumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty. Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature – the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.
Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was having any problems with a fungal infection.
11) BURDEN OF PROOF: Saying that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove. The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not make it valid (however we must always go by the best available evidence).
Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can prove him wrong his claim is therefore a valid one.
12) AMBIGUITY: Using double meanings or ambiguities of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth. Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny. It’s a particularly tricky and premeditated fallacy to commit.
When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn’t paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn’t have to pay them because the sign said ‘Fine for parking here’ and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to park there.
13) THE GAMBLER’S FALLACY: Believing that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins. This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create a city (Las Vegas) in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a ‘big run’ happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last.
Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of his savings.
14) BANDWAGON: Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation. The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity. If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.
Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.
15) APPEAL TO AUTHORITY:  Saying that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true. It’s important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding.
Not able to defend his position that evolution ‘isn’t true’ Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably isn’t herself a primate).
16) COMPOSITION/DIVISION: Assuming that what’s true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it. Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, but because this isn’t always the case it can’t be presumed to be true. We must show evidence for why a consistency will exist.
Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.
17) NO TRUE SCOTSMAN: Making what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of an argument. This fallacy is often employed as a measure of last resort when a point has been lost. Seeing that a criticism is valid, yet not wanting to admit it, new criteria are invoked to dissociate oneself or one’s argument.
Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.
18) GENETIC: Judging something good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it comes. To appeal to prejudices surrounding something’s origin is another red herring fallacy. This fallacy has the same function as an ad hominem, but applies instead to perceptions surrounding something’s source or context.
Accused on the 6 o’clock news of corruption and taking bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.
19) BLACK-OR-WHITE: Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist. Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens’ rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or on the side of the enemy.
20) BEGGING THE QUESTION: A circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise. This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good. The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo’s Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.
21) APPEAL TO NATURE: Making the argument that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good, or ideal. Many ‘natural’ things are also considered ‘good’, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn’t make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s justifiable.
The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon offering various natural remedies, such as very special plain water. He said that it was only natural that people should be wary of ‘artificial’ medicines like antibiotics.
22) ANECDOTAL: Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics. It’s often much easier for people to believe someone’s testimony as opposed to understanding variation across a continuum. Scientific and statistical measures are almost always more accurate than individual perceptions and experiences.
Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived until 97 – so don’t believe everything you read about meta analyses of sound studies showing proven causal relationships.
23) THE TEXAS SHARPSHOOTER: Cherry-picking data clusters to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumption. This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting at barns and then painting a bullseye target around the spot where the most bullet holes appear. Clusters naturally appear by chance, and don’t necessarily indicate causation.
The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy.
24) MIDDLE GROUND: Saying that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must be the truth. Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie.
Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children, but her scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this claim had been debunked and proven false. Their friend Alice oered a compromise that vaccinations cause some autism.

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REBLOGGED: Additional notes on Never Let Me Go. Or: Why so many of us seek comfort from Hidden Causal Agents.

My friend Charles Rogers is, as always, full of both knowledge and wisdom. On his blog he likes to review books that have touched his heart and/or brain.

At the moment he and I are discussing a rather dystopian novel, “Never let me go”, written by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The message of that book is that life is not a rose garden. Instead life can be seen as a bumpy pathway full of disappointments and broken expectations. But at the same time, as Charles Rogers puts it, even a blind hog can sometimes find an acorn to eat; i.e. life contains both tricks and treats.

One of the many important messages from both Kazuo Ishiguro and Charles Rogers is that childhood matters – all life long.

Life is about how to endure living. How to survive in an a world loaded with atrocities and trying to do the best out of what is happening and evolving before your eyes.

Such questions and topics tend to lead to religion, or rather religious beliefs. In fact, eschatology can be defined as a part of theology, physics, and futurology, concerned with what are believed to be the final events of history, the ultimate destiny of humanity.

And that’s why I want to reblog this blog post.

To make it clearer for my own followers, I now add a comment that I wrote in the comment field of Mr. Rogers’ blog post. So now I quote myself (not only to inflate my own ego:

Now, after reading both the original review and this “supplement”, I come to think of what Schopenhauer once said/wrote: “In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theater, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear.”

Or in my own, more banal, words: The goal (of our lives) is, of course, of big interest, but what really matters is what happens during our life’s journey towards that goal.

Harshly speaking, the end station of our lives is always DEATH.
We will all arrive at that end station some day in our lives.
So why focus on that gloomy and dreadful “goal”?

IMHO it’s much better to try to live NOW – and try to do the best you can while living.

There is no second try for you (unless you are a true believer in religious bullshit dogmas).

Then the conclusion must be: Why not, like Kazuo Ishiguro (and now also Charles Rogers), instead, move the attention to our childhood. where it all starts?

Much of our lives revolves around that period of life – even later on, after entering adulthood.

Being a child means being malleable – and full of expectations. You have your whole (at least almost) in front of you.

Some of us are lucky to be born into a – put in your words, Mr. Rogers – “loving environment in which [to be] reared and educated”.

Others, like me, drew a blank.

I think most of us draw blanks.

That is, we grow up—if we are lucky—in security and wonder, and afterwards we are delivered to the grotesque goals of life, that usually are not chosen by us.

Therefore it’s not hard for me to agree with you, Charles, that “it can’t be insignificant that [Kazuo Ishiguro] was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it”.

Vestigia terrent! (The footprints are frightening!)

You can’t avoid being influenced, both consciously and unconsciously, of your heritage.

In fact, it’s impossible to evade your sociocultural and genetic heritage.

That’s why I, the atheist, “believe” that folks, in order to survive their perceived Weltschmerz – find it easier to start believing in Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs) a.k.a. gods.

It’s so easy, and sometimes also comforting, to close down one’s critical thinking and instead become a true believer.

In short, many people prefer to enter into a kind of cocooned version of reality, hoping that such a choice (I doubt it is of “free will”) will provide some psychological comfort.

I now want to pose this question to you, KK: Have you seen – or heard of – the movie “Brazil” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_(1985_film) ?

I myself imagine that there are some simlilarities between Kazuo Ishiguro (or his dystopian novel) and that movie.

The protagonist enters his own little fantasy world and feels at peace living there, obviously oblivious to the grim reality that is taking place outside his own little comfortable “bubble”.

The message is clear: You can’t evade your past. But, and this is important, you ARE able to influence the one you are today and, maybe, at least partly, the one you’re going to be tomorrow.

As far as I understand it, Kazuo Ishiguro is a dystopian author. But, if I have understood your book review correctly, Charles, life is still – and will always be – about never to surrender too easily to setbacks and misfortune.

We all have to understand, and accept, that life contains both tricks and treats.

And that the choice is partly yours. Cf. the controversial view that depression is a learnt “behavior”.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Although bbnewsab conceded that my review of Never Let Me Go was my best effort thus far, my Swedish critic  required some “more blood out of the stone”.     ; o)>

[An aside: Although I don’t recall that Ishiguro has mentioned it, it can’t be insignificant that he was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it.]

The following is an attempt to placate PV (bbnewsab). The “rest of you may talk amongst yourselves” while he and I sort out the lack of my first attempt at a review.(ha ha not seriously)

bbnewsab:  “But I don’t quite understand what emotions or feelings this book woke up in your brain and your heart, KK.
I can easily understand the anger and disgust you must have felt by reading about, for example, Joseph Mengele’s twin experiments and other horrible Holocaust memories brought up to the surface by Kazuo Ishiguro.

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Lawrence Krauss on the xenophobia inherent in religion

Earlier this week I drawed my own blog followers’ attention to the relationship between religion and conflicts/wars, by referring, in general, to data available at the Correlates of War project, and, in more specific details, to an interesting paper, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”, written by Igor Mackarov; see: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf .

After having read this new blog post here at Why Evolution Is True, and listened to the attached video clip, I find that our topics and takes on religion are much the same.

There is definitely a more or less strong relation between true believers, especially religious ones, and atrocities of different kinds, ranging from (sexual) abuse within the family to proper wars between clans or countries.

Maybe worst of all, sometimes those atrocities, in the name of one god or another, seem to be caused without malicious intentions. That’s why religion is a dangerous thing, “largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia”.

For even more details, see: http://archiv.ub.uni-marburg.de/mjr/pdf/2002/rev_schoen_2002.pdf

Why Evolution Is True

Here’s a new seven-minute Big Think video in which physicist and anti-theist Lawrence Krauss discusses religion. While he notes that faith has some good aspects, his overall take is negative, largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia.

I find it heartening that this strong criticism of faith appears on places like The Big Think, but a little bird told me that Dr. Krauss has another fusillade that will appear soon. In my view, now is no time to retreat from the atheist critique of religion. As Lawrence notes, each time a decent person comes out as a rationalist or atheist, it shows others that we are not monsters, and gives a little nudge towards unbelief to those on the fence. And, as Jeff Tayler noted in a Salon piece about the Republican penchant for outdoing each other in crazy protestations of faith:

Discussing religion freely and critically will desacralize it, with…

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About the relationship between religion and conflicts/wars. Data from the Correlates of War project.

I just found this interesting paper in my mailbox, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf

The author, Igor Mackarov, has delved into data on international warfare. These data have been accumulated by the “Correlates of War” project and are saved in a large database. (Read more about the CoW project here: http://www.correlatesofwar.org/ .) 
 
This database provides information – mostly of the statistical kind – that sheds light on the question how not only political and economical but also psychological and religious factors are connected with the decision to start a conflict or war.
 
Of special interest are questions like: 1) How important is the role of religion and religious beliefs when it comes to starting a war? And 2) Is religion the main factor behind the decision to start a conflict and/or war? 
 
The CoW project provides a variety of data relevant to that kind of questions. But the answers are not totally conclusive. The jury is still out.
The defenders of the suspected culprit “Religion” say that there are also other perpetrators to be considered, for instance culprits like “Poverty”, “Famine”, “Megalomania” (not to mention the latter’s cousin “Chosenness”), “Authoritarian priming”, “Dictatorship” and so on. 
 
On the other hand, why can’t all those suspected culprits be in (partly secret, partly open) collusion with each other? Is it pure coincidence that countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan.display such a substantial history of disputes as they do? 
 
Anyhow, Igor Mackarov draws the following conclusions after his statistical analysis of the data he found in the CoW project database:
 
1) [T]he general degree of diplomatic activity has proved to essentially depend on the level of interstate tension throughout two centuries of the world history.
 
2) . As to the economic factor, a strong correlation has been found between the difference of the opponents’ Composite Indexes of National Capability and the character of relations between the pair of countries. Visualization of this correlations points to onset of a dispute at the moments when the difference in the countries’ economic health rapidly changes.
 
3) [T]he religious factor has been shown to significantly correlate with the war/peace conditions. Countries with higher percentage of religious adherents have been more involved in wars during the last 65 years.
 
4)  As to the Islamic factor, it hardly affects military activity greatly per se. High involvement in wars of 6 large Islamic countries [i.e. the six countries I mentioned above:  Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan] is evidently caused by the combination of their unique politics, economics, and culture. 

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