Friday, April 17, 2015

Shermer on BS

Wow. You don't even read the posts of others who clearly illustrate you are wrong, do you.

You just stick your fingers in your ears and repeat the same falsehoods over and over again.

It is hilarious.

They are not falsehoods they are Beliefs.  According to Shermer in The Believing Brain even if they listen carefully information contrary to the Belief System is not even processed by the brain.  There is a filtering system in the brain popularly called conceptual blocks but scientifically observable that automatically routes contrary information to the trash file of the brain. 

It is not hilarious; it is an unfortunate function of a believer's brain.  That is why it has been a practice on this board for many years to refer to such incorrect beliefs as BS a Belief System which generally contains varying amounts of the bucolic BS.  Hat tip to AciraZade for this concept.  Note the color of the page.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Religious Wars Today

Yea but no one is killing bodies . . . right?

Quite wrong.  The war on Godless Communism was a religious war with the genocides in Korea and Viet-Nam. Note that the white Christian Russians were spared. God told Bush/Cheney to invade Iraq. The fact that the collateral damage was Islamic was not lost on them.  There is credible evidence that Al-Qaeda was at least supported by the Christian right to foment Islamic hate to support wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  The Christian right is advocating bombing Iran.  Apparently the Muslims there are not "bodies."

That seems like enough bodies to make my point.  If you mean today US drones are still active in the Middle East and the 'stans.

New Atheism


I suspect the New Atheism is a marginal and almost ignorable part of atheism.  The important parts of atheism are

  1. The nominally religious but godless with respect to the traditional Controlling Supernatural Deity.  Traditionally referred to as Deists.  Including the "Two Great Commandment" personal God of Jesus believers.  
  2. Spiritual but not religious.  Probably including most pagans. 
  3. Humanists of all types:  Secular Humanists, godless UUs and UCC's and humanists.
  4. And (lc a) atheists for whom any kind of a God is irrelevant to living and dying. 

Most of these groups are what I call "discovered atheists" that is they found that atheism worked for them and god just became irrelevant to living.  The dying part is more complicated, as many believe in some sort of an afterlife, but gods or Jesus has nothing to do with it.  It is just a natural transition based on how one has chosen to live. 

It will be this group of atheists rather than the "New Atheists" that will shut down the controlling, politically active religious factions. 


Um, all of this is just speculative nonsense. You are not an academic JC, and until you do some actual research that is all this is.

Just compare what you make up out of nothing to what actual scholars do.  Your opinion is of no use here.

An academic studies more and more about less and less until hesh knows everything about nothing.   Congratulations.

A dilettante studies a little bit about a lot of things until hesh knows nothing about everything.

Neither is worth much in advancing the knowledge base of humanity. 

A scholar studies in depth a broad range of subjects and finds common themes and messages that help in understanding a topic.  It is speculative but it is not nonsense.  Like all scholarship it is subject to review and criticism, but ad hominem arguments don't really matter.  If you wish to comment on the accuracy of my speculations, or demonstrate that they are incorrect, I would appreciate your academic input assuming it is relevant to the speculation in question. 

Religion has been my area of scholarship for most of my life.  I have studied it from an atheistic bias, which I recognize and account for.  My studies have not been in an Ivory Tower, but in places of worship, scripture and especially music.  You may criticize from any of those points of view.  Your PhD BS is not useful.

Atheists and Social Media

YouTube  provider
I suggest old atheists here check out social media and other new forms of communication for the younger generation of atheists. They get off their ass and do stuff.

I have been on social media since it began and have seen many movements come and go.  New this and new that like the new Tide make a little bubble in the suds and disappears in the rinse water. 

As for getting off their asses the new generation of social mediaists seems to interpret that as thumbing a tweet or liking a post somewhere.  Even those who do get off their ass and create new media, thank you for doing so, are basically competing for views, likes and shares in a very tiny community. 

Effective use of social media is joining or forming coalitions with people going generally your way and doing what you can to help and perhaps influence where they are going.  As an atheist fighting religious oppression I have always found it more effective to join groups like the Christian Left on Facebook and support liberal Christian groups IRL that are in a position to create change.  Say what you really think about Pope Francis or Bishop Spong but do it among friends.  Support them publicly as they push hard and effectively in a good direction. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What is Now?

 Blü wrote:
If time is an illusion then how can you age?

If only the moment exists, why can't you put yourself in any part of the moment at will, so that you can be in the part of the moment when you're 7, and when you're 77, just as you wish?
I can remember an incident over 50 years ago that had a profound effect on many aspects of my life as if it were happening now.  I can replay it in my mind as if it were a video.  Is the replay happening now, or 50 years ago?  Since the major protagonist is now deceased, what is her status in the memory? The store which was the setting is now a library, what is the status of the main foyer containing the roped off piano?  There are others. One when I was in fact 7 that I can be and have been many times in that moment. 
Blü wrote:
I can remember an incident over 50 years ago that had a profound effect on many aspects of my life as if it were happening now.
It's called memory. Surely to cripes it demonstrates, rather than debunks, the notion that time exists?
I can replay it in my mind as if it were a video.
Except that the video will be more accurate, and remain a record even when all the participants in the scene have died.
Is the replay happening now, or 50 years ago?
The replay is happening at the time you recall the memory / rewatch the video.
Since the major protagonist is now deceased, what is her status in the memory?
She's dead. She's remembered. Photos (and videos?) of her continue to exist, showing her at different times / ages of her life.  Same with the piano and the foyer.
Yet you were asking about a personal now, not an abstract now.  In my personal now the alive, vibrant, virtuoso is in that foyer at the piano any time I choose to recall the incident.  It is not happening in the past although in another sense it is clear that the eclectic time frame is the '50s.

A photo or even a video is merely a mnemonic to stimulate a live memory if not of a live event, a memory of a story told.  My great grandmother died when I was a child, but she had an important influence on her society.  I can read her books and sing her songs, but they are just ink on paper.  It is the stories told by those who knew her that make her live in my now. 

I am not sure I can draw a bright line at where now ends and history begins.  In a real sense what is in my mind now is all there is for me.  I am not solipsistic to think that what is in the now of others is unreal. All have their own reality that is now for them.  I agree with John Dobbs "The world began on the day that I was born. On the day I die the world will end." It is not the only world there is.  I am aware that I have affected others and my society and I am content that those effects will survive my demise.  But for me "now" will end.

Yet if now, the memory tracks in my brain aka the world began on the day that I was born, now is all that is there.  Duration is measured by interaction with the now of others.
If there is a God, per Iwanta, with a longer and richer now, its relevance to my now is unclear.  Either I am a puppet, which offends me.  Or I am a contributor to that now.  Either way my contribution ends in the foreseeable future and the existence of God will be moot.    

 Blü wrote:

Yet if now, the memory tracks in my brain aka the world began on the day that I was born, now is all that is there.

Subjectively that has to be true, but it's only one way of looking at it. One of my assumptions is that a world exists external to the self, and the external world has a past, some of which I can recall and some of which I've learnt about; and as we presently understand it, it will have a future of hundreds of billions of years, unless and until at some stage after the decay of the last proton the Big Rip robs it of identity.
I have no argument with the idea that there is a world external to the self.  Indeed much of what I do is aimed at affecting that world.  Its past is a useful resource and affects much of what I do.  There is a future as well, that those that follow me (and those that don't) will deal with. 

In fact most of my now is dealing with that external world,  trying to insure that it will be a better place for those that follow and even those that don't follow.  I can see evidence that it will be but at some point it will no longer matter.  Which is as it should be.  I see people who have grown far beyond my capabilities.  It is their now that matters. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

California Climate Change

I suspect (maybe wishful thinking) that the West Coast will see Midwest type weather now that the jet stream left its north pole home for Greenland and Siberia.  The polar storms we used to see have gone to the east coast and left us with too much warm ground to suck storms off the ocean.  Maybe atmosphere rivers but we have seen thunderstorms here already.  That would not be different weather, but clear climate change for the West Coast where climate for hundreds of years has been winter storms that stop about April 1 and don't come back till late fall.  Those storms built snow pack clear to the Rockies.  Now that snow pack is Appalachian and east coast.  Maybe you guys could use that useless KXL pipe to send some of that snow out here. 

Natural and Supernatural

Skeptic wrote:
I think that the difference between nature and supernature is similar to the difference between

Normal and Paranormal

Physics and Metaphysics

Medicine and Alternative Medicine

Astronomy and Astrology

History and Mythology

Philosophy and Religion

Science and Pseudo-Science

Knowing and Believing

In a sense I agree with you, except the Knowing and Believing part which I will get to later.  But it seems that your implication is the first in the pair is true and the second false.  The first generally has a consensus, but time after time parts of all have been shown to be incorrect.  Occasionally by investigation of aspects of the second in the pair. 

A few are laughable.  History and mythology are both tales told by people that weren't there purporting to be knowledgeable.  Personally I find more truth in mythology and fiction than history which is always reported by those at the top of the pile to support their position there. 

The only difference between philosophy and religion is that religion has been around a lot longer and therefore is more robust. 

The difference between knowing and believing is the amount of self-delusion involved.  If one knows something the self-delusion is complete.  A believer at least understands that some of the BS requires faith and therefore further adjustments to the belief may be considered.

God is a Man-Made Invention.

christine3 wrote:
'God' is a manmade invention. I'm not sorry that I think that. So much of what is in the Bible supposedly coming from 'God' (stories and instructions on how to treat people) is obviously man's thoughts treated as their imaginary invention - 'God's'. That's how people high up on the hierarchical ladder control us. 

Hey!  Don't leave out the woman who told all of the best stories in the bible: the Jahwist.

If you read J's stories with an intelligent woman author in mind the misogyny of the traditional oral history is clear from the ironic retelling of the Garden story as a prime example.  "The woman made me do it."  The woman is the only reasonable person in the whole tale.  Both God and Adam look like idiots. 

But any reading of scripture confirms your thesis that God is a human invention.  Probably not the invention of the vuvuzelas in fancy dresses in over decorated balconies, they aren't smart enough to do anything but use God for controlling their sheep.  But some of the prophets, apostles, a preacher, and some "interpreters" were smart enough to give the vuvuzelas plenty to work with.  Both for good and for awfulness. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I am Not a Christian J'C Version


I have mentioned that I consider many parts of Christian scripture to be dysfunctional for Christians and society as a whole.  Probably the most misinterpreted and misused chapter, is Romans 1:17 through 2:3.  (The chapter break is artificial). It is obviously crucial to Christian dogma as it establishes the sinful nature of Christians.  

From a marketing (proselytizing) point of view it creates the problem that Christianity provides a solution for: Salvation.  In the question the OP responded to the lives of all (Christians) are wretched, and the only redemption comes after death, (the first death) when some will be chosen for some wonderful continued existence, and others "confounded" for eternity.  (Catholic formulation.) 

In the KJV 17: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  -- For those who don't (18-23) 24: Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts in their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.  1:25-2:3 is a long litany of what God gave them up to.  That is being human.  

I for one, and as I read the Synoptic Gospels Jesus agrees, have no problem with being human.   Jesus preaches to humans, exalting their humanness, with all the issues of being human.   Jesus and I part ways in loving God anyway, even though according to Paul God cursed us with humanness for not having faith.

That, in a nutshell is the problem I have with the Christian faith.  Why would any rational human even consider it?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why Argue Against Scripture

Fundy wrote:

Why do posters who do not subscribe to CHRISTIAN scriptures argue against CHRISTIAN scriptures? What possible point can they be making other than that they have nothing better in their sad lives to do...poor wretches with no God in their lives - nothing to look forward to after their demise in the first death. Poor wretches who cannot even read the scriptures they are denying yet put themselves up as opposers to this that that have no knowledge of... Phew!!

  Fair question, wretchedly formulated.  OT on original thread.

The main reason we argue against Christian scriptures is your proposed answer.  We have that argument thrown at us based on scripture and are expected to cower and convert.

In order:  Our lives are not sad.  Each day is filled with new opportunities to add to our legacy of improving the space we will leave to our intellectual heirs.  Those heirs are mainly friends and relatives, but occasionally we may affect our society as well. 

We are not poor wretches with no God, we are vibrant living beings managing our own lives for the benefit of our society not the glorification of that little vuvuzela in a fancy dress in an over decorated balcony.

We have no need to look forward to some imagined "Big Rock Candy Mountain" after death.  We are aware of and comfortable with the fact that we are mortal and look back on our lives that we are making worth dying for.  (Hat tip to Forrest Church, theist, for that trope.)

We read and understand scripture of many faiths and sects particularly that of the faith dominant in our society primarily because those scriptures have a profound effect on the society of which we are a part.  Before you can love your neighbor you must at least understand the important things in your neighbor's life.  Secondarily there are parts of scripture that we find to be dysfunctional both for our neighbor and for the society.  Therefore we oppose those parts.

The above is a personal statement, the use of the plural is an acknowledgement of many teachers, mentors, and loved ones who made it possible and necessary.

There Ain't no Fundy Like a Science Fundy.

Theist wrote:
If you believe so....

Skeptic wrote:

Have you ever changed your beliefs based on new empirical evidence? If not, then it's "you believing so".

Blü wrote:
I agree with skeptic.

The only way to find out if something's true in reality is to look at reality - the world external to the self, about which our senses can inform us. And to reason honestly from our perceptions.

There ain't no fundy like a science fundy.

Have you ever changed your beliefs based on an opinion piece? If not, why not? 

Is what you learn from a story that you did not observe from a reliable source true in reality?  Does it matter if the story was fictional, or fiction based on reality?  If no, why?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On Wanking

Would you please make a case that wank material is not healthy for your mental and physical well-being.  I might suggest that wanking is a relatively benign sexual outlet for necessary sexual release for both men and women that do not have a horny sexual partner available.  As the Lazarus Long wisdom aphorism says “Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing — and you don't have to go home in the cold. But it's lonely.”  R/A. Heinlein.

Let’s consider whoring? Dangerous, in most places illegal and therefore exploitative of women. True religions advocate a whore wife for all men, but headaches, pregnancies, and other problems may interfere.  Casual sex? Aside from the fact that most of it is de facto sexual assault,  At U Oregon  35% of women and 14% of men had non-consensual sex according to a 2014 survey.  It ain't gonna provide for one's daily needs. 

I suspect the problem in the Middle East is not being able to go to the mall or a billboard for a pulchritude fix, Only marginally religious.

Jesus was married.

How could anyone with any understanding of the Jewish Culture in the first century decide J.C. was a virgin?  Any normal male with a trade was married (that is 'knew") a local young woman just past puberty.  She was never mentioned any more than the sheep or oxen J.C. might have owned were mentioned.  It was something everybody had.

Paul was too ugly to have a wife, so he tried to portray Jesus as a virgin, to make himself a mirror of Jesus, but like all of the other lies he made up about Jesus there is no reason to believe this one. 

AKA Gödel's theorem in English.

Lavengro:  Assume for a moment that reason may be flawed (pace: see my response to your next point); then no "check" which uses reason can be used to validate reason, and I can't imagine a check which doesn't use reason. Certainly, "my conclusions are consistent with reality therefore my premises and my reasoning are correct" does: the "therefore" gives it away.

Suppose a computer program were written that checked any computer program for bugs. If it checked itself and reported "No bugs" would that mean it was flawless? No, because its own bugs may have missed its own bugs.  So with using reason to check reason. (As an aside, it is trivially easy to prove that no program can be written which will exhaustively check programs for infinite loops.)

"Besides, since you and I have agreed on my assumptions, reason IS a valid tool as far as this conversation's concerned."

But what if reasoning from your assumptions leads you to a conclusion that your assumptions are false? Then either your assumptions are indeed false or your reasoning is flawed (or possibly both). Your reasoning has led you to the conclusion that "reason is the product of quantum-random or deterministic brain events."

Do you maintain that a conclusion can be valid (except by coincidence) if there's any randomness in the reasoning-process that produced it?  If not, your assumption about reason being valid is not true.  If you do, please justify this position.

To see that a conclusion must (except by coincidence again) be invalid if it's the product only of determinism is not quite so easy. I usually try to demonstrate it by saying, "You only think that because of the way your brain's wired."  I also point out that the man who sees pink elephants at the foot of his bed also has a (n alcohol-rotted but) deterministic brain; and that the woman who thinks she's a fried egg has a deterministic brain which is affected by the tumour growing against it.  Both these (admittedly pathological) brains illustrate that reason may not always be a "valid tool."L

A Schizophrenic Trinity?

Thoughtful theist: God would simply be strictly identical to the plurality of the three divine persons.

Blü:  No. God would be strictly identical not onto to the plurality of the three, but simultaneously strictly identical to EACH of them.

Neither is correct.  God is a single entity with three personalities striving for dominance only one of which can be expressed at any one time.  And this all before there were serotonin antagonists to help. 

For the Jews the angry, vengeful, murderous, personality was dominant, although the priestly rule-maker tried to keep the people under control, and the storyteller Jahwist tried to make sense of it all for humans. 

For Catholics and many Christians the forgiving, empathetic and human centered personality is dominant, although he seems to have had trouble keeping the "My Way or the Highway" rule-maker under control, especially when the political pressure on the humanist became too intense and he had to suppress that personality. 

Other Christians focus on the "My Way" personality. 

It is very simple they all worship God, and the necessary personality shows up at the right time.
In other words if you want vengeance you pray to the father manifestation of the schizophrenic God; if you want mercy pray to the son manifestation; and if you want wisdom pray to the ghost manifestation. 

Probably why prayers are sung.  The music wakes up the right manifestation.  When you pray a Kyrie Eleison or an Ave Maria it alerts the son that He ought to pay attention.  When you pray a Dies Irae you alert dad that somebody needs to be terrified.   And a Psalm alerts the ghost that you need help with the interpretation. 

J as storyteller.

Fundy:  Donald Duck has CREATED nothing!  The Walt Disney Corporation created the animated Donald Duck out of human imagination and human-developed technologies!

 If the Jahwist had not been the Disney of her time it is likely we wouldn't even have a Bible, or Torah.  Can you imagine worshiping a book compiled from P, E, and R if you left out J?  It is hard enough to wade through all that crap with the leavening of J.  All that would be left is a soggy matzoh.

If J wasn't a great storyteller we probably would all be using a different book.  All the good stories you remember from the Bible were J's.

Success and SSGs

Which College doesn't matter.
Success depends on what not where you study.
The whole point of the university is not future success, but to find and form a group of like minded people that will be your social support group after you leave. The advantage of the elite schools is that they select for a highly intelligent, high achieving, diverse student body which increases your chances of finding a partner, and forming that critical ERSSG.  It is possible to find an ERSSG if you are so inclined at many universities, ERSSGs are small even at the elite schools, it is just easier if everybody is a potential candidate and the ER is a given for any SSG formed.     

It is important to choose a school with the type of people you will want to hang with. Wonky, geeky, nerdy, waspy, athletic, or whatever fits your social needs. If you fit their profile the chances are reasonably good that you will get in. If yo' daddy's rich and yo' ma is good lookin', a wonky school and political success is in your future.  If you wasted your childhood in a basement lab or science fairs, there are many tech schools to choose from. 

If you have the personality dysfunction necessary for the "success" as measured in the referenced articles, it doesn't much matter where you go to get the business skills you need. A willingness to exploit your employees, burn the world, or buy government subsidies is all it takes for financial "success."

If one already has a partner and SSG as many do when they finish their K-12 education, which college, if any, is necessary to acquire the necessary skills for success as defined by the SSG will be unimportant.  What you learn not where is all that is necessary.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Michael Shermer The Moral Ark

Live Blog:  The Moral Arc

Chapter 2
Non-violence is becoming more effective is more effective in effecting social change since the violent elements in modern societies tend to eliminate themselves and fail to achieve the rather small minimum consensus to effect change.  This is not to say violence will be eliminated, we seem to be a violent species especially in small groups, but that it is becoming ineffective in creating social changes. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Painless and Effective Dog Training.

The following procedures paper trained a 6 wk puppy in a couple of hours, an ex-stray, and several other dogs.

The philosophy behind the training, (post hoc) is that dogs are human symbiotes per Jon Franklin's The Wolf in the Parlor and are eager to learn to help. I learned it from a bird dog trainer who insisted that his dog was his partner and not his servant or toy.  For him dominance and control techniques were useless as they produced a dog that wouldn't hunt.  Note that his dogs were collar free while hunting and most other times.  He carried the tags. 

Any dog even a difficult dog will do something right in a training session, short at first.  The first command I train is WAIT. When the dog stops at any time after the command a unique and instant verbal reward is given.  I use "Gooddog" a friend uses Hai-Hai.  This will surprise the dog and in my experience even the first time the dog will look back and get another instant Gooddog.  As the dog continues to play the command and verbal reward are quickly associated in the dog's mind. 

After the training session is over a special self selected treat, in my dog's case a turkey hot dog bit is offered when the dog is called, asked to WAIT just before arriving, gets the Gooddog, looks up, another Gooddog, then the treat.  Note that the treat is offered after the training session.  After a session or two more, the dog will follow to where the treats are kept and look for the treat.  In my case I keep the treats at my desk upstairs away from his food and play areas.  Training treats are special.

I escalate the WAIT training until the dog stops in his tracks whatever he is doing even chasing the neighborhood cat.  The first escalation is a slack leash WAIT.  No training harness, choke collar or other negative reinforcement needed. 

HEEL, PARK, STAY, and other useful commands are taught the same way.  Tell the dog to HEEL in command voice, and sooner or later he will end up at your side get the Gooddog look up and get another Gooddog.  It doesn't take long before the later becomes now.  At that point I end the session, and finish the walk.  I was not surprised when we got home and he HEELed all the way to my desk for his special treat.  He also got one for WAIT which is reinforced every walk at curbs and other danger spots and the neighborhood cat.  Note that every walk is a training session and good behavior of any kind even ignoring the neighborhood cat gets a Gooddog and if he looks up another Gooddog. It is amusing that he seems to count things on a walk that get reinforced and remind me that he needs another treat if I forget one.  Usually ignoring the cat that I didn't notice. 

Like most dogs he will announce the fact that someone is on the property, and since we have frequent visitors, the PARK command is his signal to stop barking, and back away from the door.  He gets a Gooddog for barking, another for parking, and a third for being welcoming to a known visitor.  By now it is routine and he waits until the end of the day to remind me that he has been a Gooddog many times.

I use OK as the release command but if I were starting over I would choose a different word probably CLEAR as an unusual word that he does not hear every day.  It may be a moot point since he seems to respond to my mental state of clear at curbs.  I began to notice after reading Franklin that he was always a fraction of a second ahead of the OK.  I began to delay the verbal command and found that I was catching up to his reaction for most commands including WAIT.

This post like all on this blog is a work in progress, and comments are open.  Suggestions and stories are welcome.