May 04 2017

Free Speech Bias

Insubordinate man with zipped mouth

Free speech has been a hot issue recently, and probably always will be to some extent. This is likely because the stakes are high – free speech is a core liberty essential to any functional democracy. But in a society where you have to live with other people, liberty cannot be unlimited, because it will bump up against the liberty of others. So there needs to be some well-thought-out rules for how to resolve conflicts.

How a society balances the need for free speech with the need to protect people from defamation, fraud, oppression, and harassment says a lot about the character of that society. In the US we have constitutionally chosen to err on the side of free speech, and I think this is appropriate. The courts give people a wide berth to have freedom of expression, and understands that the very speech that needs defending is speech that someone finds offensive.

At the same time, freedom from having your public speech repressed does not translate into a right to access to any venue at any time. The New York Times is not obligated to publish your 10-page manifesto.

The real purpose of this post, however, is not to delve into the nuances of free speech but to discuss how individual people decide on those nuances. This was illuminated by a recent study, the results of which I find entirely unsurprising. This is in line with the general findings of psychological studies.

The researchers tested subjects with a number of scenarios involving speech, including making racist comments at work, criticism of police, and criticism of elected officials. They found that defending racist speech correlated very highly with being racist (on a standard measure of racial attitudes). Those same people, however, did not as highly defend free speech when it was targeted at police or politicians.

This result is unsurprising because the consensus of psychological studies generally show that people tend to assume positions for various psychological reasons, and the back fill justification for those positions. In other words, people do not start with general principles and then work out what positions they should lead to. They arrive at positions because of ideology, culture, ego, or convenience and then search for principles to selectively support those positions.

This also fits with my personal experience, for what that’s worth. When I get into a disagreement with someone, I often try to establish basic principles. I find that people will tend to take a position on those principles that are most convenient to whatever their current position is on the topic of disagreement. That is why, for people with whom I have a long term relationship, I will usually back off when we hit such a wall. I will then later talk with them about the basic principles, but not in the context of the previous disagreement, just in general.

It is a lot easier to discuss such principles reasonably when it is not in the context of a current disagreement. Once you come to an understanding on those principles, you can then focus on fairly and consistently applying them to a variety of issues, including the focus of the previous argument.

This is basically how philosophers function. They begin with basic principles and then work out how they should theoretically work out in a variety of scenarios. It is a good idea to think about such things yourself when there is no controversy at hand. Solidify your thinking about important principles when no emotions are on the line, then those principles will be available to serve as a guide. It will also be more difficult to adjust them as necessary to serve a current emotional need.

We see this historically also. Many people have noticed that Berkeley was the home of liberal free speech, and now the ideological descendants of those liberals are rioting to suppress free speech they don’t like. Again, my goal here is not to get into the nitty-gritty of that argument. There are reasons to argue that the university has no obligation to provide a venue to Ann Coulter, and there are reasons to argue that once she was invited she should have been allowed to speak. Judgment is required to assess individual cases, and that judgment allows wiggle room to defend whatever position is currently in line with your tribe.

Before anyone from the Republican tribe tries to take the higher ground, they are guilty of the same thing. In 2015 employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection were ordered not to mention or use in official reports the words, “climate change,” “global warming,” or “sustainable.” The entire debate about teaching evolution vs creationism in public schools began with the banning of teaching evolution. To this day creationists are trying to purge the word “evolution” from textbooks.

Trump also denied access to major news outlets he did not like (CNN, BBC, and the Guardian) to certain briefings.

Even worse, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills in at least 18 states designed to suppress protests against Trump.  According to the Washington Post:

From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.

This, of course, is nothing new in politics. Politicians condemn an activity at one time that they praise at another. They invoke states rights, for example, only when it is convenient to the issue at hand. When they are in the minority in the Congress they condemn abuses by the majority that they then freely engage in when they are in power.

But we all do this to some extent. It’s not just politicians.

That is also why I do not give people credit for being principled when they are defending a principle that also is in line with their prejudices or interests. You only get credit when you are defending a principle that currently is inconvenient for you. When liberals defend the right of Ann Coulter to speak at Berkeley, they are truly defending a principle. When conservatives do, they may be, but you just don’t know. I’ll need to hear their attitudes about anti-Trump protests.

When confronted with such issues, it’s important to try to remove yourself from the moment. Think of the principles in abstract, and also in other situations. Imagine yourself on the other side of the issue. What if the speech were something you agreed with, or disagreed with?

Humans are really good at motivated reasoning, and this is just one more manifestation of that.

919 responses so far

919 Responses to “Free Speech Bias”

  1. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 9:14 am

    “When conservatives do, they may be, but you just don’t know. I’ll need to hear their attitudes about anti-Trump protests.” I suspect it would depend on the nature of the anti-Trump protest. When Antifas stages an anti-Trump protest it turns into to extreme violence directed toward anyone seen as a Trump supporter. And then turns into violence against anything that catches the eye of any member of Antifas like limousines parked on the street and businesses within reach of the sticks (clubs) they carry. Is that an example of free speech or the suppression of free speech?

    How many of us can say we take the point of view attributed to Volaire, but actually was stated by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in “The Friends of Voltaire,” where she wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” if we are talking about Milo Yiannopoulos? Antifas and others tried successfully to block his right to free speech and many people seemed to think that was okay because they despised him for not doing anything to protect the children he claimed to have seen being abused at Hollywood parties. I think he was lying for the sake of notoriety and it backfired on him.

    In Canada, Jordan Peterson is systematically being denied his freedom of speech because he refuses to use pronouns other than “he” and “she” when referring to people who consider themselves to be non-gender. He can actually be jailed for this refusal. Somehow 0.4 to 0.5% of people are allowed to dictate to the rest of the Canadian population how to refer to them. The last time I checked, I didn’t have the right in Canada or this country to dictate how people refer to me.

    I’m not a Trump supporter if anyone is interested. I voted for Hillary just because I didn’t want not to vote. Trump is stupid, but shrewdly managed to tap into the resentment that white people have over being systematically called racist, misogynist, privileged, members of the patriarchy and all the rest of that meaningless crap for the last 15 to 20 years. This kind of thing came to a big climax with a woman’s march on Washington where it was declared that the Hijab is a symbol of women’t freedom. Huh? A garment that women are forced to wear is a symbol of freedom? But that point of view is racist, Ed, even though Muslims are not a race.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I get tired of being expected to feel guilty just for the crime of being born a white male.

  2. SteveAon 04 May 2017 at 9:37 am

    “Trump also denied access to major news outlets he did not like (CNN, BBC, and the Guardian) to certain briefings.”

    I’m not certain why he bothers to hold press briefings at all. It would arguably be more democratic if briefings were delivered to everyone via YouTube or the White House website.

    Written answers to written comments would likely be more edifying and efficient than the current scramble.

    The present system seems to be more about generating spectacle than delivering information.

  3. GHLon 04 May 2017 at 9:39 am

    Great post! Having lived on both sides of politics in my part of the world I find it endlessly frustrating to see the blatant hypocrisy of defending principle when convenient and throwing it out of the window when it isn’t. It would be funny if it wasn’t the people running the damned country. I imagine it’s a similar phenomena to when people will excuse their own poor behaviour with reasons such as “I was tired and having a rough day, that’s not who I am” but fail to extend this courtesy to others.

  4. MWSlettenon 04 May 2017 at 9:42 am

    One side of the free speech debate that is often forgotten: if a person’s right to express him/herself is abridged, then my right to hear them is also abridged. Why is this important? I cannot make value judgments and/or respond to a person’s beliefs if I do not know what they are.

    Here’s a hypothetical: If you knew, say, a bakery that refused to bake cakes for gay weddings, would you patronize it? I know I wouldn’t. When we make laws prohibiting bakery owners from expressing themselves in such a manner, however, you and I are denied that knowledge.

  5. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 9:45 am

    Steven:

    [There are reasons to argue that the university has no obligation to provide a venue to Ann Coulter, and there are reasons to argue that once she was invited she should have been allowed to speak.]

    Student groups have a right to invite speakers. A conservative student group invited her, and thus she has every bit as much right to speak as a liberal speaker would. Berekley is a public university, so it has a legal obligation to respect constitutionally protected speech.

    [In 2015 employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection were ordered not to mention or use in official reports the words, “climate change,” “global warming,” or “sustainable.”]

    Employees have an obligation to comply with the standards of their employer. It is not a free speech issue–they may speak on their own time as they choose. But in official reports, the can quite lawfully and ethically be required to comply with standards.

    [The entire debate about teaching evolution vs creationism in public schools began with the banning of teaching evolution. To this day creationists are trying to purge the word “evolution” from textbooks.]

    The only free speech issue on ID/Darwinism is the incessant efforts by Darwinists to drag people into federal court to silence them and prevent criticism of Darwinism. ID people are always asking for more speech and more discussion of evolution. It is Darwinists who are the censors.

    [Even worse, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills in at least 18 states designed to suppress protests against Trump. According to the Washington Post: From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.]

    People who block traffic (what about emergency vehicles and the rights of commuters?) are criminals, not “protesters”. People who commit assault, arson, riot, or who wear illegal masks in public (banned in response to the KKK) are criminals, not protesters. They should be charged locally and federally with felonies, and be imprisoned for long terms.

    Free speech and the right to peaceful assembly are vital constitutional rights. Rioters are felons, not peacefully assembling protestors.

    I note, Steven, that you do in your post something that leftists invariably do. When you can’t deflect criticism of the Left–let’s fact it, the violence and censorship by the Left of conservatives is indefensible– you try to equate it with behavior of conservatives.

    Conservatives aren’t rioting and aren’t violating anyone’s rights to free speech.

    The behavior of the Left is horrendous, and is tearing our society apart. I expect a civil war in America before the century is out.

  6. GHLon 04 May 2017 at 9:51 am

    edwardBe, it seems you are pushing a very specific narrative on the outcome of that election, it was essentially a coin flip as despite Hillary getting the majority of the vote the particulars on the day swung the mechanism of the election to Trump. Small percentages in specific places made a big difference, the result of a staggeringly complex web of factors. Also the position of the left is far more complex than your uncharitable summation (something people on the left also do to those on the right), much of the racism is described on a system level, not individual.

  7. GHLon 04 May 2017 at 9:55 am

    ME.

    “I note, Steven, that you do in your post something that leftists invariably do. When you can’t deflect criticism of the Left–let’s fact it, the violence and censorship by the Left of conservatives is indefensible– you try to equate it with behavior of conservatives.”

    Steven Novella is literally saying that the left and the right of politics are subject to the motivated reasoning that is the subject of the post, it’s textbook non-partisan.

  8. GHLon 04 May 2017 at 9:58 am

    One of the most annoying feature of political discussion is the unfortunate tendency of each side to reduce their opponents to the worst of the fringe.

  9. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 10:04 am

    GHL:

    There is no equivalency between the behavior of the Left and the Right in the US today.

    Trump haters are rioting, violently supressing free speech all over the country.

    Leftist speakers on campuses speak without difficulty or threat. Right-wing speakers are physically threatened and attacked. Trump supporters are behaving peacefully.

    A leftist could speak at Hillsdale college in complete safety and respect. A rightist at Berkeley speaks only under threat to their life.

    The behavior of the Left is a scandal and is characteristic of the Left.

  10. Lobsterbashon 04 May 2017 at 10:07 am

    Egnor, Edwardbe, you two are making some blanket statements about millions of people.

    Just because the media covers someone publicly stating something, it does not follow that that person is automatically representative of and a spokesperson for an entire vague category of people in your mind, even if that person claims to be.

    Certainly not even close to every “liberal” is out to shame/get white men, and not even every “conservative” respects the leadership and messaging of the NRA (for example).

    Claims that protesters embrace/applaud rioters and thugs is blatant nonsense. By far the vast majority of protesters condemn the violence and incivility. Egnor, how is that not obvious to you?

    “The behavior of the Left is horrendous, and is tearing our society apart. I expect a civil war in America before the century is out.” – Yes, very objective, well-reasoned thoughts.

  11. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 10:24 am

    [Claims that protesters embrace/applaud rioters and thugs is blatant nonsense. By far the vast majority of protesters condemn the violence and incivility. Egnor, how is that not obvious to you?]

    There is widespread support for the rioters among the Left and among leftist “protesters”, many of whom are breaking the law with their not-so-peaceful protests.

    The Antifa is merely the enforcement arm of the Left, and Leftists generally wink and smile at the violence.

  12. Lobsterbashon 04 May 2017 at 10:36 am

    Cool. Have any non-biased sources to back that up?

  13. Charonon 04 May 2017 at 10:41 am

    It’s worth reminding ourselves that in the United States we do have some legal standards around this. “Free speech”, as codified in our Constitution and interpreted in our courts is about government suppression of speech. This is a useful reminder when anyone talks about their “First Amendment rights” being violated by not being invited on cable news or to speak at a university.

    The tricky issue is that anyone in charge of presenting material – those who control presses, websites, speaker invitations, TV shows, classrooms, etc. – must restrict what’s presented. There is simply a finite amount of time, space, and attention. We therefore need to prioritize good sources, and that’s where the dangers lie. I think it is good to be exposed to ideas you’re not comfortable with, but not all such ideas are worthwhile. If the speaker is a habitual liar without any deep understanding of their subject, it’s perfectly reasonable for a university to not have them speak. (Saying “once she was invited she should have been allowed to speak” betrays a misunderstanding of how universities work – any random student club could “invite” someone to speak, but then the university has to decide at administration and community levels if it’s appropriate given the implicit imprimatur of the university for such a speaker.)

    Some speakers are simply not worth listening to. No physics department is going to invite a Flat Earther to give a colloquium, and I don’t think any of us would view that as restriction of free speech. I’m not invited to give talks at conferences on evolutionary biology, but no one thinks that’s a violation of free speech, because I’m an astrophysicist. The problem arises with edge cases where our biases come in to determine who is or is not a “worthwhile” speaker. Those of us who invite speakers need to just remind ourselves that mere disagreement with their opinions isn’t a reason to not invite them. But we must also ask what our audience would gain from their speech.

  14. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 10:47 am

    Charon – limited time, space, resources and the desire for basic quality control given implied imprimatur are all good and valid reasons to not invite someone to a venue.

    But the devil is in the details. Student groups should not be extending invitations to speakers until they are given the green light. So, in this case, were they given the green light, and then it was rescinded because of protests? Also, is the university following the same set of rules for all student groups, or are they discriminating based on ideology?

    Those are the real questions.

  15. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 10:52 am

    Michael – you are so nicely demonstrating the motivated reasoning I was discussing. Thanks.

    So, when the government tells government employees they cannot mention “sustainability” that is just an employer imposing quality control.

    But, when a university tells one of their professors that they cannot teach pseudoscience as if it were science, that is not quality control, that’s oppression.

    Regarding protests – I am not defending violence. I condemn it. I favor peaceful protests. The March for Science was a great example.

    I condemn the outbreaks of violent protests, but you are cherry picking and enthusiastically engaging in confirmation bias when you use those incidents as if they are representative of half the country.

    I could just as easily use cases in which individual and groups blew up abortion clinics and killed abortion workers as representative of the entire religious right.

  16. Charonon 04 May 2017 at 10:54 am

    BTW, I acknowledge in the case of public universities the issue is a bit murkier. The courts haven’t been particularly clear on these issues, but such universities are “limited public forums” where speech can be restricted some but not as much (contrasting UC Berkeley with, say, Middlebury).

    An important step would be having people present and report on such speakers accurately, however. Instead of saying “Coulter invited to speak at UC Berkeley”, we should say “Coulter invited to speak at the Blahdeblah Club of UC Berkeley”. Because the real problem in that case was that implicit imprimatur that the vast majority of campus would probably not want to bestow on Coulter.

  17. Charonon 04 May 2017 at 10:56 am

    “Student groups should not be extending invitations to speakers until they are given the green light.”

    Is this practice actually followed anywhere? Certainly not at my university. Most speakers for student clubs are talking to an audience of 10-50, perhaps…

  18. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 11:07 am

    Lob:

    [Cool. Have any non-biased sources to back that up?]

    Antifa rioters routinely blended back into the “peaceful” protester crowd and were obviously shielded by them.

    Also, there are very few arrests of Antifa types, for example at Berkeley, despite their commission of multiple public felonies. Of course the mayor of Berkeley is a member of an organization that supports the violent Leftists.

    http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/04/21/berkeley-mayor-is-member-of-antifa-facebook-group-that-organized-riots/

  19. BBBlueon 04 May 2017 at 11:16 am

    The researchers tested subjects with a number of scenarios involving speech, including making racist comments at work, criticism of police, and criticism of elected officials.

    How racist were the racist comments (I didn’t buy the full report)? I have no tolerance for what any reasonable person would consider racist speech, but one of the most pernicious aspects of today’s identity politics is claiming that something or someone is racist when they are not. For instance, calling out Jihadism for what it really is or attacking someone as a racist for having shown that general intelligence does vary among racial groups.

    Some folks want their cake and eat it too; they want to be perceived as believing in the principle of free speech, but they also want to justify their ideology, so when the two conflict, they redefine terms, as you say, they back fill. You might hear such a person say something like: “I believe in free speech, but anyone who even suggests there are differences among racial groups in terms of general intelligence is an evil bastard whose ideas must be suppressed.”

    It’s a great topic for discussion because I think identity politics is eroding free speech to a degree no one should be willing to accept.

  20. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 11:22 am

    Charon – that is why i said they should follow the same rules for all groups. If it is University policy that student groups can invite speakers to speak at the university within the parameters provided without any prior review, then that is their policy and they have to live with it. They shouldn’t change the rules ad hoc because someone not a member of the group doesn’t like it.

  21. NotAMarsupialon 04 May 2017 at 11:33 am

    “Trump supporters are behaving peacefully.” – Michael Egnor

    http://www.theroot.com/trump-supporter-targets-non-republicans-in-machete-atta-1794805050
    “peaceful” machete attacks

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/08/union-leader-who-called-out-donald-trump-says-hes-getting-threats-from-trump-supporters.html
    “peaceful” death threats

    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/277244-gop-officials-tell-of-death-threats-from-trump-supporters
    more “peaceful” death threats

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/delegates-face-death-threats-from-trump-supporters-222302
    more “peaceful” death threats

    http://fusion.net/trump-supporters-are-threatening-to-kill-me-over-this-t-1793863698
    Still being “peaceful”

    http://www.salon.com/2016/04/22/death_threats_from_trump_supporters_theyre_going_after_republican_delegates_and_trumps_rhetoric_is_clearly_to_blame/
    “Peaceful” again

    This is all just from typing “trump supporter threats” into google news and looking at the top half of the page. A few articles were about Trump supporters receiving threats. I’m not exonerating anyone here.

    Honestly though, I’m not sure why I bothered to log in to respond given you’ll just not respond to an inconvenient post or cry out against the media. That is much easier than realizing that it is only with absolute insincerity or absolute ignorance that you could try to draw such a clean line between two groups of people.

  22. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 11:44 am

    Breitbart is your idea of an objective source?

    Antifa is a radical far left group. They do not represent the mainstream. Here is a very left organization (Occupy) condemning them: http://www.occupy.com/article/letter-american-left-antifa-not-your-friend#sthash.0zqTa4Fb.dpbs

    What you are doing is the equivalent of using abortion clinic bombings to represent the right.

  23. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 11:45 am

    “Here’s a hypothetical: If you knew, say, a bakery that refused to bake cakes for gay weddings, would you patronize it? I know I wouldn’t. When we make laws prohibiting bakery owners from expressing themselves in such a manner, however, you and I are denied that knowledge.”

    That’s great, except when now I have to go to another fucking county because the only baker(s) in my area have a protected right to discriminate against me. Genius. I’m so glad my right to live and operate in this country can be so constrained.

    If “whites only” isn’t okay, neither should “straights only.”

  24. LittleBoyBrewon 04 May 2017 at 11:47 am

    I almost hate to admit I partially agree with Dr.E. A not so small section of the left now seems to think it is perfectly OK to use physical force to shut down speech they disagree with. Of course they always point at Nazis and claim that their speech is so vile is must be stopped. Of course they forget that in the future someone might declare their speech to be vile.

    “First they came for the Nazis, but I said nothing, for I was not a Nazi…”

  25. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 11:50 am

    This morning Trump signed a new religious liberty executive order. We don’t know much about it yet, but if it’s anything like the drafts it will give people like Egnor more freedom to discriminate against people like me.

    http://www.salon.com/2017/05/04/trumps-religious-liberty-executive-order-is-meant-to-legalize-anti-lgbt-discrimination-and-may-be-unconstitutional/

  26. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 11:51 am

    Steven:

    [Breitbart is your idea of an objective source? Antifa is a radical far left group. They do not represent the mainstream.]

    You are evading the question of fact. Was the Berkeley mayor associated with a group that organized the riots?

  27. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 11:55 am

    Steven:

    Occupy is a violent criminal organization. Why would you quote it?

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/282993/occupy-wall-street-blotter-nathaniel-botwinick#.

  28. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 11:59 am

    These issues are entangled:
    1) people are allowed to peacefully protest speakers like Ann Coulter and Milo
    2) some people dressed in all black (antifa , anarchists) mixed with the protests and were violent and set things on fire
    3) Milo and Coulter have nothing meaningful to contribute, they make a living just saying controversial things and provoking people, they are not supreme intellectuals
    4) in an ideal world Milo and Coulter would be allowed to speak

  29. edamameon 04 May 2017 at 12:04 pm

    egnor wow do you ever engage honestly? do you just reflexively misrepresent people’s arguments if you think it will push your agenda? you completely missed the point of him citing occupy. which is not a violent movement in general, by the way. that again, is just another example of your inability to engage without tendentious misrepresentation and intellectual dishonesty. does it work with your followers? piling up misrepresentation upon misrepresentation? do they eat it up? do you believe them? do you ever sit down and really think about the truth? Sad.

  30. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Michael – here is some more info for you: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/berkeley-mayor-vows-crackdown-alt-right-antifa-ann-coulter

    This quote in particular:

    “Its completely unacceptable,” he said. “We absolutely oppose the use of violence in any way. And I think both sides are responsible. I hold as much frustration and blame for antifa as I do for some of the right-wing groups.”

    You are also ignoring plenty of example of alt-right violence. The motivated reasoning continues.

  31. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 12:27 pm

    It’s true, Islamophobia is not technically racist. This is a language issue, I think – a lot of people default to racism in an issue that’s really more ethnocentric. Ethnicity and race are often conflated, so ethnocentrists are called racists when really they’re a different kind of problematic belief.

    That said, there sure is a lot of racism going on in Islamophobic circles. Nativists who willfully misinterpret statistics about refugees to falsely claim they commit more crimes than natives, for instance.

    It also doesn’t help their cases when they claim that moderates are shielding the extremists (rather like M Egnor up there.) Hate and fear puts blinders on us.

    There’s a lot to criticize about Islam. I criticize Islam all the time, particularly about the treatment of women, LGBT people, and non-Muslims in conservative countries and communities. I criticize them for violent behavior. There’s a lot of nuance that gets obliterated by not treating these topics with care, though. Criticism of extremists quickly crosses into criticism of moderates and criticism of liberals without distinction, and that’s a problem because it hands fuel to the extremists, allowing them to make the case that it’s Us Against Them.
    That’s a problem. It’s not racist, it’s ethnocentric, and it does us no favors.

    “attacking someone as a racist for having shown that general intelligence does vary among racial groups.”

    Those studies are problematic, BBB, and leaping to conclusions about them does tend to make one look a little racist. I won’t disagree that we shouldn’t accuse someone of racism for studying it, but it’s a justifiably sensitive issue and we should wait until we’re sure we’ve accounted for possible biases.

  32. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Once again, Egnor comes to a discussion loaded to bear with right wing talking points, acting as if everyone here agrees with the beliefs or actions of fringe individuals. People point out that they don’t agree with that and try to have a discussion with him about his beliefs (rather than painting him with the same broad brush he uses for others), but he just plows forward with his talking points, oblivious to what anyone is saying and unwilling to consider any opposing viewpoints. And he walks away from his keyboard thinking that he won something.

  33. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Steven:

    Occupy is a violent criminal organization.

    You quoted Occupy:

    “Its completely unacceptable,” he said. “We absolutely oppose the use of violence in any way. And I think both sides are responsible. I hold as much frustration and blame for antifa as I do for some of the right-wing groups.”

    Here is a partial list of the violent crimes committed by Occupy in 2012 alone:

    5/1/12: FBI Arrests Five Protesters Associated with Occupy Cleveland in Bomb Plot The FBI arrested five men who were planning to bomb a bridge over Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The men are self-described members of Occupy Cleveland.
    5/1/12: May Day in New York Over 50 protesters were arrested over the course of the day in New York. Protesters were arrested for attempting to block traffic in midtown and on the bridges into Manhattan. There were also multiple arrests after members of the “Black Bloc” Wildcat march assaulted journalists who attempted to take pictures of them. Around 10 P.M., violence broke out in Lower Manhattan as police enforced the curfew on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, leading to clashes with protesters.
    5/1/12: Violence in Seattle In Seattle, more than a dozen protesters were arrested after violent attacks on local businesses. Seattle police recovered homemade incendiary devices from the scenes of the attacks. Vandals in Seattle smashed the entrances to the Niketown and American Apparel stores.
    5/1/12: Occupy SF Protesters attacked a row of small businesses in San Francisco on Monday. Over 100 masked protesters launched paint bombs at the Mission Police Station, and smashed windows and cars on Valencia Street.
    11/21/11: Occupy London Cited for Defecation, Drugs, and Sex Offenders The City of London Corporation has filed documents as part of an effort to evict the protesters from St. Paul’s Cathedral. According to the police, “members of the camp [have been] continually urinating through the fence of the Chapter House and the Cathedral itself.” There have also been arrests for “possession of a bladed article, failing to register a new address under the Sexual Offences Act, theft, assault (on) police, breach of bail, breach of the peace, (being) drunk and disorderly and possession of drugs.” Remember, this is all taking place within St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most important historical landmarks in England.
    11/21/11: Police Arrest 15 at Occupation of Bank of America in Massachusetts On Monday, 350 people protested foreclosures at a branch of Bank of America in Springfield, Massachusetts. Seven people were arrested for sitting down in the bank and refusing to leave, while eight others were arrested for blocking access to the exits or the ATMs. All 15 were charged with trespassing. A spokesman for the protesters demanded, “end all no-fault evictions and reduce principal on loan modifications to the current value.”
    11/20/11: Violence and Illegal Guns at Occupy Wall Street The NYPD arrested Joshua Fellows, 32, of Youngstown, Ohio, for criminal possession of a weapon. He had been driving around Wall Street with an unregistered .45 caliber handgun and 32 rounds of ammunition. Four other protesters were arrested this weekend: Zach Breur, 22, was arrested for allegedly groping the breasts and buttocks of a 22-year-old woman. He was charged with two counts of forcible touching. Michael Doe, a homeless man, was arrested for tampering with the Christmas lights in the park. Another homeless man was also arrested for throwing an unknown liquid into the eyes of a police officer. Finally, Star Bun, 24, of Brooklyn, was arrested for trying to bring sleeping gear into Zuccotti Park. She was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest.
    11/20/11: Bomb Threat at Occupy Fort Myers Ryan Komosinski, 22, of Cape Coral, Florida, was arrested for threatening to bomb the Fort Myers police department. After a Facebook search, the police found a comment posted by Komosinksi that announced: “I’m bombing the FMPD, [expletive] them.” Komosinski was reportedly enraged over the arrest of fellow protester Constance Galati, who was arrested on Thursday for trespassing, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer. But not to worry, fellow protesters insist that Ryan Komosinksi is “a very good kid.” #more#
    11/19/11: Occupy Santa Cruz Connected with 93 Complaints, Including 200 Pounds of Human Waste Santa Cruz county officials have released a list of 93 complaints of illegal and destructive behavior by the Occupy protesters near the county’s main office and courthouse. County workers have documented “drug and alcohol use, public urination and defecation, littering, bathing in county restrooms, fights and more.” The Occupy Santa Cruz movement has gained notoriety following “the discovery of an estimated 200 pounds of human feces near the county Veterans Memorial Building.” The county was forced to call in a HAZMAT team to deal with the removal of the waste.
    11/18/11: Woman Assaulted for Refusing to Join Occupy Protest at UC Berkeley A female student was assaulted by a man at UC Berkeley after she refused to join the protest on Sproul Plaza. The suspect yelled, “people like you are the reason that California is in debt,” and then threw a full aluminum bottle at the woman’s face. The student called the police, who were unable to locate the suspect on the scene.
    11/17/11: 275 Arrested at Occupy Wall Street Two hundred and seventy five protesters were arrested for attempting to storm Wall Street to shut down the stock exchange and for blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Seven police officers were injured, including one who was slashed with broken glass.
    11/17/11: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Threaten Children Occupy Wall Street protesters threatened small children, some as young as four, as they attempted to get to school. The children were forced to walk a gauntlet in between screaming protesters and the police as they attempted to reach their school. Some of the protesters yelled, “Follow those kids,” and attempted to frighten their parents. 11/17/11: Police Evict Occupy Dallas Eighteen protesters were arrested as police evicted Occupy Dallas’s encampment. Dallas authorities said the situation had become “untenable” after “the arrests of almost two dozen demonstrators for blocking the entrance to a bank, arrest of a participant charged with failing to register as a sex offender and sexual assault of a child after being accused of having sex with a 14-year-old runaway at the camp, arrests for assault and public intoxication and a 9-month-old child taken into protective custody after the parents were living the campsite with the child.”
    11/17/11: 14 Arrested for Blocking Bridge at Occupy St. Louis Fourteen protesters were arrested at the entrance to the Martin Luther King Bridge in St. Louis. They were protesting in solidarity with other movements across the country. Uniformed members of the SEIU helped direct the protest. The protesters were joined by the Teamsters, United Autoworkers, American Postal Workers, and other union members.
    11/16/11: 16 Arrested at Occupy Cincinnati Following Visit by Jesse Jackson Sixteen protesters were arrested at Occupy Cincinnati following a visit by Rev. Jesse Jackson. Fifteen protesters were arrested for criminal trespassing, while two were also charged with resisting arrest. Lloyd Jordan, 36, of Clifton, Illinois, was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated and obstructing official business after he photographed a covert police vehicle, including the license plate. The second half of Jackson’s speech was repeated by the crowd line by line: “It’s not about a place . . . it’s about a state of mind. We fight for jobs. . . . We fight for health care . . . We are determined . . .We are not going away. Move our tents . . . but not our spirit.”
    11/15/11: Police Shoot Gunman at Occupy Cal Police shot a gunman who infiltrated Berkeley’s Haas School of Business during major demonstrations at UC Berkeley. He was seen carrying a gun by a staff member in an elevator at the business school after 2 p.m. The police arrived at 2:19 p.m., and searched for the suspect in the building. Officers found the gunman in a third-floor computer room where there were at least four students. The suspect raised the gun and was shot by an officer. The protesters from Occupy Cal deny any affiliation with the man; there have been no statements from the police or the suspect so far regarding his views.
    11/15/11: 5 Arrested at Occupy LA (Including for Assault and Masturbation) Five people from the Occupy LA movement were charged on Tuesday with a variety of crimes. Farid Ahntab, 24, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest for wielding a knife and as he tried to burn a food vendor. Robert Holland, Jr., 31, was charged with threatening someone with a knife and resisting arrest. Angele Chaidez, 21, has been charged with lewd conduct for allegedly masturbating on the steps of City Hall last week and exposing himself in public. Zachary Isaac, 21, was charged with battery for allegedly punching a woman in the face in her tent. Finally, Michael Howard Thomson, 51, was charged with two counts of battery and one count of resisting arrest. He tried to take a two-year-old from its parent and is accused of punching a mediator. Afterwards, he fought the officers who arrested him.
    11/15/11: NYPD Clears Zuccotti Park, 200 Arrested The New York Police Department moved in early this morning and cleared out the protesters from Occupy Wall Street. The protesters will be allowed to return to the park, but will not be allowed to bring tents or sleeping bags. The protesters fought with police officers for several hours, and there were injuries reported amongst both the police and the protesters. 11/13/11: Man Threatens Woman with Arson at Occupy Portland Occupy Portland protester threatens to burn down the house of a woman who disagrees with him.
    11/13/11: Three Men Arrested With Explosives in Connection to Occupy Portland Three men from Occupy Portland were arrested during a traffic stop after officers suspected they had marijuana in their possession. Upon searching the vehicle, the drugs were discovered. The officers also found within the car firecrackers and two commercially made mortars inside glass canning jars. The three men “told authorities that they knew the canning jar would explode, causing glass shrapnel to fly and possibly cause injury.”
    11/12/11: Woman Raped at Occupy Philadelphia A woman was raped at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment by a man who had traveled from Michigan to join the protest. The suspect had been arrested previously for involvement in armed robberies in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
    11/10/11: “Send in the Clowns,” Two Dressed as Clowns Arrested at Occupy Wall Street Hannah Morgan and Louis Jargow were arrested for climbing the barricades surrounding the statue of the bull at Wall Street. They then performed a variety of antics before their arrest for disorderly behavior. 11/10/11: Occupy Atlanta Shelter Tests Positive for Tuberculosis Several people at the Atlanta shelter have contracted tuberculosis. At least one of those infected has contracted the more dangerous, drug-resistant form of TB. The shelter is one of the largest encampments at Occupy Atlanta.
    11/10/11: Six more arrests at Occupy Fresno Six people were arrested last night in Fresno for failure to disperse. This brings the weekly total of arrests at Occupy Fresno to 55.
    11/10/11: Sotheby’s Also Targeted by Occupy Wall Street, 8 Arrested Eight protesters were arrested for attempting to storm Sotheby’s during its final sale of the fall season. They were there in support of the Teamsters union, which is currently engaged in a labor dispute with Sotheby’s.
    11/10/11: Man Shot to Death at Occupy Oakland A young man was shot fatally in the head outside the Occupy Oakland gathering Thursday evening. There are still no suspects or leads in the case. 11/9/11: 39 Arrests at Berkeley Thirty-nine people were arrested at Berkeley as part of OccupyCal. Protesters set up tents despite Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s request that they refrain. Thirty-two students and one faculty member were among those arrested. The majority of the arrests were for obstruction of justice or unlawful assembly. Two arrests were for assault and battery.
    11/9/11: Occupy Wall Street Protester Assaults EMT An EMT was injured at Occupy Wall Street. Joshua Ehrenberg, 20, of Rochester, NY, was arrested for felony assault and obstructing governmental administration for attacking the EMT. The EMT was injured when Mr. Ehrenberg’s friends, in an attempt to prevent NYPD officers from assisting the EMT, fell on either a barricade or a ladder, which trapped the EMT underneath. The EMT suffered injuries to his ankle and knee.
    11/9/11: Occupy Wall Street Protester Arrested for Public Lewdness Xavier Maslowsky, 25, was arrested for exposing himself to others at Zuccotti Park.
    11/9/11: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Arrested for Blocking Sidewalk with Square-Dance Lesson A group of 50 protesters staged a square dance on the sidewalk around the plaza at Liberty and Cedar. The revelers were told repeatedly to disperse. Zachary Kamul, 25, was given two summonses for disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon when he refused to disperse. Sebastian Posada, 24, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest when he attempted to run from police into the middle of Broadway.
    11/5/11: Man Arrested at Occupy Wall Street for Urinating on an NYPD van Edgar Rivera, 26, was arrested for relieving himself at 1:20 a.m. on an NYPD van. He attempted to escape, but was captured a half a block away. He was charged with disorderly conduct.#more#
    11/5/11: 19 Arrested at Occupy Atlanta Protesters gathered in support of police pressure on Occupy Atlanta were subjected to arrests. Two were arrested for failing to leave Woodruff Park after the 11 p.m. close and 17 were arrested for obstructing traffic after leaving the park.
    11/5/11: 20 Arrested at Occupy Wall Street Most of the protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct, though three were arrested for assaulting a police officer. The incidents occurred at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, near the New York State Court of Appeals. According to witnesses, police had asked the protesters to refrain from blocking the sidewalks and the stairs to the courthouse. 11/5/11: Woman arrested at Occupy LA for setting another person’s clothes on fire She was charged with suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. 11/5/11: Woman arrested at Occupy LA for striking a man with a tent pole She was charged with suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
    11/4/11: Occupy Fort Carson Protester Arrested for $10 Million Arson Benjamin Gilmore, 29, was arrested on suspicion of arson, burglary, and criminal mischief in connection to a fire on October 24 in a construction site.
    11/4/11: Occupy Wall Street protester arrested for violence in McDonald’s Fisika Bezabeh rioted inside the McDonald’s by Wall Street at 2 a.m., when workers refused to give him free food. He tore a credit card reader from the counter and threw it at employees. Mr. Bezabeh has been charged with criminal mischief.
    11/4/11: Bronx Teacher Arrested for Assaulting Police David Suker of Bronx Regional High School was arrested for knocking a police officer off his scooter using a shopping cart. He is charged with attempted assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration. This is his second arrest; he was previously arrested during the October 1 march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
    11/4/11: Occupy DC Attacks Americans for Prosperity event Protesters attempted to storm the building where the AFP was holding a conference. Afterwards, they assaulted two elderly women, sending them to the hospital, and blockaded the streets surrounding the building.
    11/3/11: 15 Arrested Outside Goldman Sachs Fifteen protesters were arrested outside Goldman Sachs, including Christopher Hedges of The Nation Institute and Reverend Billy of the Church of Earthalajuh. The protesters staged a trial of Goldman Sachs executives and were arrested when they proceeded to sit and block the entrance to Goldman Sachs.
    11/3/11: Occupy Oakland Riots Riot police used tear gas and other methods to disperse Occupy Oakland rioters. The protesters lit barricades on fire, hurled rocks, explosives, and other projectiles at police. Massive acts of vandalism were committed against several banks. Several dozen were eventually arrested.
    11/2/11: Occupy Philadelphia takes over Comcast Headquarters Occupy Philadelphia protesters sat in Comcast’s lobby and demanded repayment of its tax abatement. Nine were arrested for trespass. 11/2/11: Tonye Ikebutosin Arrested for Rape at Occupy Wall Street A 26-year-old man from Crown Heights was arrested for the sexual assault and rape of a fellow Occupy Wall Street protester. He raped the 18-year-old woman after sharing a tent with her. He is also accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old woman after helping her set up her tent. Iketubosin has been working in the Occupy Wall Street kitchen.
    10/27/11: 14 Arrested in NYC for March in Support of Occupy Oakland Protesters took over the streets and marched through lower Manhattan, resulting in arrests for disorderly conduct, rioting, and resisting arrest.
    10/25/11: 53 Arrests at Occupy Atlanta Fifty-three people were arrested at Occupy Atlanta. Among those arrested was State Senator Vincent Fort. This was a reversal from the previous acceptance of Occupy Atlanta by Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed. Mayor Reed explained his decision by saying, “Occupy Atlanta protesters attempted to hold an unsanctioned concert over the weekend … Last week, demonstrators inserted wire hangers into electrical sockets to create additional power sources … [There has been] a persistent and dangerous disregard for public safety.”
    10/25/11: 75 Arrested During Attempted Clearing of Occupy Oakland Police arrested 75 people while attempting to disperse the Occupy Oakland encampment.
    10/23/11: David Park, serial sexual assaulter, arrested David Park, who attempted to rape several women, was finally arrested by the NYPD. The women declined to press charges, but the NYPD held him on an open-container violation.
    10/22/11: NYPD arrests 30 in OWS March in Harlem Police arrested 30 protesters, including Cornel West, for blocking the entrance to the Harlem police precinct. The protesters were demonstrating against the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” procedures.
    10/14/11: 14 Arrested by NYPD in Marches Connected with Park Cleaning Fourteen protesters arrested despite Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to halt the cleaning of the park. \
    10/1/11: 700 Arrested for March Across the Brooklyn Bridge Seven hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct and blocking vehicular traffic when they proceeded to block the roadway on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/282993/occupy-wall-street-blotter-nathaniel-botwinick#.

  34. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 12:56 pm

    “He can actually be jailed for this refusal.”

    Getting jailed for your bigoted speech is clearly wrong.

    Now, should he face social opprobrium for what he says? Yes. Should he be denied the opportunity to speak at private venues that don’t want to give him a platform? Sure. Should other people be allowed to shame him, so long as they don’t move into threats? Definitely.

    “This kind of thing came to a big climax with a woman’s march on Washington where it was declared that the Hijab is a symbol of women’t freedom. Huh? A garment that women are forced to wear is a symbol of freedom? But that point of view is racist, Ed, even though Muslims are not a race.”

    It’s not racist, but it is a culture, and ethnocentrism isn’t a whole lot better. I’m even sympathetic in this case, and I don’t believe that the hijab is a symbol of freedom.
    The hijab is a symbol of women’s oppression. It is, not going to disagree – but a woman still has a right to choose. We should be allowed to attempt to encourage her not to, to point out its oppressive qualities, to criticize that aspect of her culture.

    “Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I get tired of being expected to feel guilty just for the crime of being born a white male.”

    That’s fine, Eddy – you don’t need to feel guilty. Guilt is literally the only consequence you suffer in the vast majority of cases.
    I’ve recently encountered this commentary from white men who feel fatigued about all the criticism thrown their way. It’s just so difficult having the oppression people who look like you have inflicted on others that you personally didn’t commit piled on you.

    And you know what? I get it.
    You didn’t participate in Jim Crow, you probably have never murdered a refugee or beaten a trans person to death. People like me, who are oppressed, like to take anyone who resembles the oppressor and they unfairly paint them with the same brush. I try to avoid that, for the most part. It’s a very human and understandable thing, but I don’t think it’s productive.

    I don’t think you’re necessarily part of the problem, and I don’t necessarily think you should feel guilty, but think about this next time you complain about how awful it is for you to be made to feel guilt:

    You suffer nothing for burying your head in the sand. Aside from your family members who are LGBT and your friends who aren’t white or all the women you know, there is no personal cost for you to ignore what’s happening to the rest of us. You, as a (presumably) cis white male who might be middle class will never, ever suffer oppression that isn’t criticism or private censure by bitter people like me who are lashing out because we feel powerless.

    Unless you’re especially empathetic, like I am, you will never suffer harm for being who you are.

    I will, though. I can’t do nothing and stay afloat. I can’t ignore what’s happening to people like me, because my life could be in jeopardy because of who I love or what I act and look like. I could lose my job over my stasus.

    If you CHOOSE to feel guilty over this, sure, go ahead. I’m not actually trying to make you feel guilty – I’m trying to make you feel empathy. I’m trying to give you perspective. You can call that guilting if you like, that’s your business, but what you think about it ultimately doesn’t matter to you unless you want it to, because you can ignore everything I’ve said and walk away unscathed, because that’s what you get for being who you are, while I will walk away from here and go back to being afraid, because that’s what I get for being what I am.

    And hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’re a good ally. I don’t know for sure, but your talk about your painless, consequence-free guilt is some serious whining.

  35. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Egnor thrives on this. He probably thinks he’s a brave evangelist or something – I got the same impression from Ray Comfort when I’d go out to Huntington Beach. Completely immune to opposing viewpoints, clearly condescending, pretends to be here for others when really he’s just stroking his own ego, etc.

  36. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 1:04 pm

    @Sophie

    Hope this gets crushed in the courts. It’s horrible. I’m (currently) gainfully employed, but I know how fragile that state is, and I worry for my roommate.

  37. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Michael Egnor,

    Just a few hours ago Egnor had a very different view of oppression and free speech:

    michaelegnor on 03 May 2017 at 10:44 pm
    The Inquisition was a disaster. Because it was too timid and limited… An effective Inquisition would have shut [rebellion] down before it started. That, in fact, was the purpose of the Inquisition–to protect the public from havoc… The Inquisition was most effective in Spain, where heretics were dealt with quite promptly… The Inquisition was only a problem when it wasn’t effectively applied.

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/jesus-mythicism-revisited/#comment-308587

    As you can see this isn’t a morally-consistent person. When people shut down Milo and Ann Coulter’s events and they are unforgivable liberals. But when the inquisition is referenced as evidence for problems with theocracy, Egnor literally defends it. It’s okay to oppress people who aren’t Catholics or right wing extremists.

    This is why I posed the link to the new executive order that Trump signed today for “religious liberty,” which will just legalize discrimination by religious people. It allows them to be more “free” to “express” their bigotry. Michael Egnor’s time has come, if there was ever an ideal time to be a religious fundamentalist jerk, this is it. Welcome to the new era everyone.

    @Sarah- yeah it will likely get struck down but they will try again just like with the crack down on immigration, something will remain in the end

  38. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Sarah:

    [People like me, who are oppressed… I don’t think you’re necessarily part of the problem, and I don’t necessarily think you should feel guilty, but think about this next time you complain about how awful it is for you to be made to feel guilt: You suffer nothing for burying your head in the sand. Aside from your family members who are LGBT and your friends who aren’t white or all the women you know, there is no personal cost for you to ignore what’s happening to the rest of us. You, as a (presumably) cis white male who might be middle class will never, ever suffer oppression that isn’t criticism or private censure by bitter people like me who are lashing out because we feel powerless. Unless you’re especially empathetic, like I am, you will never suffer harm for being who you are. I will, though. I can’t do nothing and stay afloat. I can’t ignore what’s happening to people like me, because my life could be in jeopardy because of who I love or what I act and look like. I could lose my job over my stasus.If you CHOOSE to feel guilty over this, sure, go ahead. I’m not actually trying to make you feel guilty – I’m trying to make you feel empathy… but your talk about your painless, consequence-free guilt is some serious whining.]

    Kind of a Gaystapo desiderata. You poor buttercup, Sarah. Looks like you need lots of safespaces to protect you from oppressive systematic microagressions by cis-hetero-white males.

    Want to feel better about your pitiful life? Don’t you have some Christian bakers who you want to ruin, Sarah?

    SJW-ism makes me want to vomit.

  39. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Michael,

    Try again. That was not “occupy”, which I did not quote. I cited one author writing on occupy.org as an example of someone on the left who is criticizing antifa for being violent. This was offered as one bit of evidence that embracing violence is not endemic on the left, as you suggest. It is a fringe that is condemned by many on the left.

    The quote was from an entirely separate article on Mother Jones. The quote is from the Mayor of Berkeley. You said, citing Brietbart, that he supports antifa. This was based apparently on him liking a Facebook page. In this article he was interviewed about that, and the quote was a summary of his opinion – he is unequivocally condemning the violence of antifa in that interview.

    Sorry to have confused you with some actual facts.

  40. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Sarah-the-oppressed:

    [Hope [the Religious Freedom E.O.] gets crushed in the courts. It’s horrible…]

    Yea. To an oppressed Leftie non-cis-non-hetero-non-white-non-male buttercup, Religious Freedom is like a cross to a vampire.

    Eeeeeekkk!

    How dare Americans ask for the right to Free Exercise of Religion!

    I mean, it’s not like it’s in the Constitution, like the Constitutional Right to Gay “Marriage”.

  41. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Sarah, why do you consider me as having “painless, consequence free guilt?” You have no idea of what my life is like. It is impossible to mention some things in conversation even though those things may be facts. Like, “the people who kill black men are by far and away other black men.” Immediately the response is that even blacks killing blacks is because of white oppression. And it is accompanied by “FU, snowflake!” Which of course can’t possibly be racism because it is directed at a white man.

    BTW, I don’t feel guilty, I just said that I seem to be expected to feel guilt.

    In relation to the hijab, you said “but a woman still has a right to choose.” Maybe in the West, but not in countries which implement Sharia law.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but you seem to have a very strong “Holier than thou” attitude that you seem to think gives you the right to “educate” me and the others who are commenting here, and referring to me as “Maybe you are a good ally,” is also very condescending. You seem (once again, seem) to be a believer in what has been referred to as the progressive stack: “people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, people of color, and very young or older people” somehow automatically have more credibility, and I guess you are one of those supposedly oppressed people. I tend to think that oppression, like beauty, is in the eye or ear of the beholder, in that taking offense at something does not make it oppressive. I guess you also believe in micro-aggressions?

    As far as Trump’s latest bird droppings, wasn’t he the guy who swore to protect LGBT people during a campaign speech? So much for campaign promises. I guess that was designed (successfully) to get gay republicans on board long enough to get elected and now he is free to dump on them.

    One thought on trans-gender. Doesn’t this idea assume in most cases that there really is a separation of mind and body? That a girl can be trapped in a boy’s body? Or vice-versa? I think the consensus on SBM, this blog and Respectful Insolence among others is that the mind is a result of the body, so how can someone who has YY sex chromosomes be a girl inside?

  42. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 2:00 pm

    It’s clearly not about the facts, it’s what you use them to argue for. Saying that black men kill each other at a time like this where the national conversation is about black lives matter is clearly arguing for something specific. You are speaking out against what is clearly a systematic problem. Cops shooting unarmed black men.

  43. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Edwardbe,

    “…so how can someone who has YY sex chromosomes be a girl inside?”

    I highly suggest you go and look up the relevant literature on this topic. Quoting skeptic blogs in defense of your argument is foolish. There are many legimate diagnoses for transgender issues. Maybe start with some bio explanations like intersex, and stop embarrassing yourself.

  44. edamameon 04 May 2017 at 2:18 pm

    egnor supports religious freedom for the religions he agrees with. When a church wants to perform a marriage between two men, it is urgent that the state step in to stop the madness!

  45. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 2:27 pm

    @ed:

    I couldn’t care less what “churches” do.

    Here’s a related question about religious freedom;

    How do you feel about the Gaystapo tactic of ruining the livelihoods of Christian bakers and photographers because they choose not to be involved in gay weddings?

  46. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Edwardebe – you misunderstand the issue. While sex and gender may have a bimodal distribution, do not confuse that for being binary. Sex chromosomes indirectly affect sex through the effect of sex hormones, but that system does not always result in a strict dichotomy. In other words, there is an entire spectrum between male and female biologically.

    When someone says they feel like one gender on the inside, they are not talking about dualism, they are talking about their brain. Depending on the hormone levels during pregnancy, and on interaction with the environment, someone with XY chromosomes can have a brain that develops in such a way that results in a preferred gender identity that is associated with being more typical of XX, for example.

    We are not even talking about the fact that the function of the brain is not purely biological determined but interacts with culture and environment.

    Sex itself is a complex phenomenon.

    In any case, there is no biological, ethical, or practical reason to enforce a strict gender dichotomy on everyone. That is just prejudice steeped in ignorance.

  47. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Edwardbe:

    [so how can someone who has YY sex chromosomes be a girl inside]

    Excellent question. The answer is that they can’t.

    For asking that question, the Lavendar Police will be sending you to re-education camp.

  48. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 2:36 pm

    1) make a claim
    2) claim gets explained as false
    3) repeat 1

    That’s the real Egnor Evasion. He doesn’t even bother to gallop on over to other topics before circling back.

  49. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Steven:

    [Edwardebe – you misunderstand the issue. While sex and gender may have a bimodal distribution, do not confuse that for being binary… That is just prejudice steeped in ignorance.]

    I see you’ve already been to Re-Education Camp. And drank deeply of the Kool-Aid.

    Outside of the padded mental ward, there are only two sexes, except for the rare person with hermaphrodism.

    People who think they are of the sex they are not are confused and/or mentally ill. They should be helped to recover, not encouraged in their delusion.

    And words are “gendered”. People have a sex–male or female–and it never changes, even if they are hormonally infused and surgically mutilated.

  50. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Michael – so you are making the medical claim that the only people who are not unambiguously and entirely male or female are hermaphrodites? Is that your position, doctor?

  51. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Michael Egnor,

    “People who think they are of the sex they are not are confused and/or mentally ill. They should be helped to recover, not encouraged in their delusion.”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_dysphoria

    Yes it used to be considered a mental illness to be cured. Just like homosexuality. We used to toss them in jail. The world has changed though. I’m interested if you are just limited in your understanding of trans or if this has infected other areas of your thinking.

    Do gay people exist? Or should they be sent to reeducation camps?

  52. Jasonon 04 May 2017 at 2:49 pm

    As MWSletten pointed out, there can be no free speech without property rights. The solution to Coulter at Berkeley, creationism in schools, etc is to privatize education at all levels. This does not mean there would be no national standards; the NCSE could, for example, certify biology courses that properly teach the theory of evolution.

    Milo returns to Berkeley tomorrow. It’s going to be glorious.

  53. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Steven:

    [Michael – so you are making the medical claim that the only people who are not unambiguously and entirely male or female are hermaphrodites? Is that your position, doctor?]

    All people are unambiguously either male or female, except hermaphrodites who have mixed genitalia.

    Some people who are male (or female) wish that they were female (or male), or are even more confused and think of themselves as complex mixtures of sexes.

    That’s a confusion and often a mental illness, but it has nothing to do with sexual identity, which is a physical characteristic determined by sex chromosomes (XY or XX) and by sexual characteristics such as genitalia, etc.

    The way I “feel” doesn’t change my height or weight or race or the fact that I have two eyes, one liver, etc. Physical reality is not changed by my own confusion or delusions.

    Doctor.

  54. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Did Milo flame out with that whole casual endorsement of pedophilia? Seems like the world has reached peak-Milo.

  55. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Steven:

    I’m feeling like I’m 7 feet tall.

    I’m calling the NBA right now. If they refuse me, I’ll sue for discrimination.

    You agree that I am 7 feet tall, right doctor?

  56. Lightnotheaton 04 May 2017 at 2:59 pm

    1960’s era Michael Egnor type:

    “How do you feel about the tactic of ruining the livelihoods of Christian bakers and photographers because they choose not to be involved in interracial weddings?”

    1860’s:

    “How do you feel about the immoral race-mixers’ ungodly criticism of Christian preachers because they choose to justify slavery from the pulpit?”

  57. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Jason:

    [As MWSletten pointed out, there can be no free speech without property rights. The solution to Coulter at Berkeley, creationism in schools, etc is to privatize education at all levels. This does not mean there would be no national standards; the NCSE could, for example, certify biology courses that properly teach the theory of evolution. Milo returns to Berkeley tomorrow. It’s going to be glorious.]

    Agree with it all, except the NCSE part.

    I’m praying for Milo. Love the guy. If I ever married a guy, it’d be him.

  58. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 3:01 pm

    I think SN is saying that it’s a modern medical position that Transgender is a real thing. If you as a doctor say in your medical opinion that you think these issues are no real, you are probably acting unethically and not within the standards you are licensed to practice medicine.

  59. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Light-not-smart:

    [“How do you feel about the tactic of ruining the livelihoods of Christian bakers and photographers because they choose not to be involved in interracial weddings?”]

    I’m for freedom, so I don’t care. It’s their business. If you go to a baker for a wedding cake, and he doesn’t want to sell you a wedding cake, go to another baker. Get over it.

    Regarding parallels between interracial marriage and homosexual marriage, I point out that the parallel is opposite what you assume.

    Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Period. Race has nothing to do with it.

    Opposition to interracial marriage and support for gay marriage are analogous, in that in both situations marriage has conditions imposed on it that have nothing to do with marriage.

  60. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Ah, yes, just go to another baker, said the straight, Christian, wealthy, man. The freedom to discriminate has never resulted in oppression of minorities. Buck up and find an apartment one town over, non-whites!

  61. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Man, I really wished that the comments system allowed for voting up and down comments, as well as blocking individuals.

  62. Xplodyncowon 04 May 2017 at 3:14 pm

    All people are unambiguously either male or female, except hermaphrodites who have mixed genitalia.

    This is a core belief I have held my entire life; how dare you make me the least bit uncomfortable by questioning it. I shall dig my heels in deeper to dispel the cognitive dissonance and restore order in my inflexible mind. So there!

  63. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Dr Michael Egnor,

    As a talented neurosurgeon who performs hundreds of operations a year. It’s possible that you would have encountered an intersex patient or someone with gender dysphoria. Hermaphrodite is an old word btw. Kinda like when you call people pagans without realizing it’s a disparaging term in the contexts you use it.

    Would their intersexuality or gender dysphoria not be some useful information to consider?

    Would you ignore the work and diagnosis of other health care professionals, and just judge the patients gender on your own?

    Would you recommend that the patient cease hormones and other types of treatments for their gender dysphoria or intersexuality?

    If you acted like these gender issues didn’t matter you would likely be acting unprofessionally.

  64. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:20 pm

    HosBen:

    [Ah, yes, just go to another baker, said the straight, Christian, wealthy, man. The freedom to discriminate has never resulted in oppression of minorities. Buck up and find an apartment one town over, non-whites!]

    Right. Most cities only have one baker, so if you can’t get your “Adam and Steve” cake at “Rugged Cross Bakery”, you’re screwed.

    So in order to exercise your God–(or whatever)–given freedom from Oppression, you drag the hapless fundie into court and make him choose between feeding his family and baking your f*cking cake.

    Take that, Oppression!

  65. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 3:21 pm

    @Edward

    [One thought on trans-gender. Doesn’t this idea assume in most cases that there really is a separation of mind and body? That a girl can be trapped in a boy’s body? Or vice-versa? I think the consensus on SBM, this blog and Respectful Insolence among others is that the mind is a result of the body, so how can someone who has YY sex chromosomes be a girl inside?]

    Because biology is messy and complicated, Edward. I don’t believe in dualism, I don’t believe in souls.

    I “believe” the scientific consensus – that for purely biological reasons I was born with enough female-analogous structures in my brain that I suffer from dysphoria and have preferences more in line with those of a typical female than a typical male.

    No magic needed – just the inherent messiness of biology. Biology isn’t like structural engineering, it isn’t a top-down, rigorously controlled process. Some errors occur that the entity can survive. I have one of them.

  66. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Xplo:

    [This is a core belief I have held my entire life; how dare you make me the least bit uncomfortable by questioning it. I shall dig my heels in deeper to dispel the cognitive dissonance and restore order in my inflexible mind. So there!]

    I don’t like your tone. Is that any way to talk to a woman?

  67. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 3:22 pm

    “the national conversation is about black lives matter is clearly arguing for something specific” What national conversation? You mean your/the media’s idea of a national conversation? The BLM people certainly think it should be a national conversation. They also believe in white people paying reparations. Do you?

    “Cops shooting unarmed black men.” How often does this really happen? Do you care about the numbers? Certainly it should be never, but is it really a systemic problem? Is racism systemic, still? Or is this massive proximity bias?

    “I highly suggest you go and look up the relevant literature on this topic.” Do you have a citation or is this one of those “everybody knows” what the relevant literature says, sorts of things?

    You too, Steve, please, is this statement “When someone says they feel like one gender on the inside, they are not talking about dualism, they are talking about their brain…” a result of studies? If so, what kind of study? Interviews? How do you know they are not talking about dualism? My experience, for what it’s worth, is that a large percentage of people around the world believe that mind/body dualism is a thing, and many of them also believe in a soul as separate from either mind or body. And the last part about “someone with XY chromosomes can have a brain that develops in such a way that results in a preferred gender identity that is associated with being more typical of XX, for example.” How do you know this happens? In what way does their/his brain develop? If you autopsy the brain of such a person, will you be able to spot the changes? If you didn’t know them would you be able to tell on a scan? Also, my apologies for the YY reference, i should have written XY as you did.

    “Quoting skeptic blogs in defense of your argument is foolish.” The last time I checked this blog is a skeptic blog. At least in terms of being skeptical of pseudo-science and pseudo-medicine. Unfortunately it rarely addresses pseudo-politics, whatever that is. Maybe identity politics would qualify, that is, politics based on what you are instead of who you are? Your color, nationality, or gender (or gender preference) is more important than your behavior.

    This ongoing exchange shows that some things just can’t be questioned.

  68. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Novella. Elegantly and accurately stated.

  69. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 3:26 pm

    @Sarah “I was born with enough female-analogous structures in my brain” No offense, but how do you know?

  70. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Perhaps you are using the term “hermaphrodite” like Trump uses words. But since you are a doctor I thought you might actually be using medical terminology accurately.

    There is a range of sexual developmental disorders, not just hermaphrodism. That is also old terminology, but that is a minor point. Another example would be congenital adrenal hyperplasia and other androgen excess disorders.

    In any case, if I am being charitable (you can look up that word if you don’t know what it means) I might assume by “hermaphrodite” you meant all of the SDDs where there is a clear biological mechanism leading to ambiguous sexuality.

    Even then, having a better appreciation for the complexity of sexual development, including the secondary sexual characteristics, which includes sexual orientation, might also give you a better appreciation for the nuances of this issue.

    Hormones and environment affect brain development. Sexuality is a manifestation of brain function, and if you alter that brain function you can alter sexuality.

    There is no evidence that homosexuality is a mental illness. It does not correlate with or predict any other signs of mental illness. It is simply part of the range of human phenotypes. It exists throughout the animal kingdom as well. Are all those animals mentally ill?

    Your position is simply poorly informed. It is nothing but bigoted ideology.

  71. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Mos:

    [Man, I really wished that the comments system allowed for… blocking individuals.]

    It’s so frustrating to read something you disagree with. You must feel just like her:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFrZsGbO6N0

  72. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:31 pm

    SN:

    [Sexuality is a manifestation of brain function, and if you alter that brain function you can alter sexuality.]

    No. Sexuality is a manifestion of sex chromosomes. You’re XY or XX. Nothing more or less.

    How you feel about your sex is a manifestation of brain function (we’ll set dualism aside for now).

    Some people don’t feel good about their sex. That’s a shame, but it doesn’t change reality.

    Reality is stubborn.

  73. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:41 pm

    SN:

    What’s really a hoot is that when it comes to the mind-brain stuff, you’re a foot-stompin’ materialist. ‘The mind is meat’, nothin’ more.

    But when it comes to biological sex. you’re all hocus-pocus & woo. ‘Gender is fluid, don’t have nothin’ to do with chromosomes or sex organs, it’s just how ya’ feel that day, etc., etc.’

    Heh. I guess you really don’t take that materialism stuff very seriously.

  74. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Michael – you are just demonstrating what I said above. Sex is more complicated than chromosomes. Chromosomes only indirectly affect sexual development, mostly through the action of sex hormones. Those hormones can be affected by things other than the sex chromosomes – so you are demonstrably wrong. CAH is the result of the adrenal glands, having precisely zero to do with the sex chromosomes.

    Hormones and other chemicals also affect brain function. Do you deny that? Do you deny the vast literature that shows how various medications affect libido?

    How much of reality are you willing to rearrange in order to accommodate your simplistic moralistic ideology?

  75. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Nice straw man. I never said it had nothing to do with chromosomes. There is a difference between having an influence and being deterministic. Chromosomes have a strong influence on secondary sexual characteristic, but they do not entirely determine them because there are other factors.

    No woo or hocus pocus. In my opinion the evidence strongly favors the materialist interpretation – sexuality is basically about brain development and brain function, which has a variety of influences. It is not a choice or just the way someone feels. It’s neuroscience.

    You are missing the real irony here. You are the dualist, and yet you think sex chromosomes are 100% determinitive of sexuality. You are taking a materialist position, just an overly simplistic one. You can’t even get that right.

    But whatever supports your ideology of the day.

  76. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:46 pm

    SN:

    Basic biology (predates the first day of medical school):

    Human beings are male or female, with exceedingly rare exceptions of intersex individuals.

    Some males and some females aren’t happy with being male or female.

    They wish they were female or male, or some transient mix depending on the day.

    Wishes aren’t facts about biology.

  77. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 3:47 pm

    You are just restating your premise which I have already demolished.

    Read a book, already.

  78. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Steven:

    Let’s say that you’re a forensic pathologist, and you recover semen from a rape victim.

    In our report, would you write “Suspect is male…”

    Or would you write “Suspect is male or female, can’t determine without asking him/her how she identifies…”

    Doctor.

  79. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 3:53 pm

    It’s been clearly explained how Egnor and Edwardbe don’t know what they are talking about. Egnor is retreating to his high school education’s definition of gender, instead of modern medicine and I’m sure things he learned in med school. If he acted like this in a professional context he would be threatening his own career. Fact.

  80. Steven Novellaon 04 May 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Michael – at the very least you are confusing sex with gender.

  81. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

    edwardBe,

    What national conversation? You mean your/the media’s idea of a national conversation? The BLM people certainly think it should be a national conversation.

    The national conversation I’m referring to was clearly black lives matter. It was all over MSM but also on alternative media and social media. It was definitely a significant issue and talking point. Acting like it didn’t happen or there is no objective standard for “national conversation” is a fools game. On frequency and stats, How often should unarmed black men be shot to death? I’m not gonna get drawn into another ridiculous battle about how national news narratives are not real and how the alt right is the true source of real journalism.

    Do us all a favor and please list your favorite news sources. How would you rank the legitimacy of the following list of news sources? CBS, Breitbart, Infowars, CNN, Fox News, NYT, RT, Sputnik, Drudge Report.

    Once you do that I feel like everything in this discussion will become crystal clear.

  82. RickKon 04 May 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Michael said “Occupy is a violent criminal organization.”

    Ah, disturbing the civic peace. Sounds like the job for a proper Inqusition.

  83. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 4:13 pm

    SN:

    [Michael – at the very least you are confusing sex with gender.]

    Sex refers to whether a person is male or female.

    Gender refers to whether a word is masculine or feminine.

    Sex refers to people, and is a biological term.

    Gender refers to words (in romance languages), and is a lingusitic term.

    Some people get confused, and think that gender refers to human beings.

    Silly people.

  84. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 4:15 pm

    This “gender” stuff is post-modernism run amok.

    For those few brave souls who haven’t hopped on the SJW Crazy Train, the issue is straight-forward:

    Wishes aren’t facts about biology.

  85. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 4:38 pm

    “The national conversation I’m referring to was clearly black lives matter. It was all over MSM but also on alternative media and social media. It was definitely a significant issue and talking point.” This is an appeal to popularity. Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t significant. I just don’t think it is/was as significant as BLM wants it to be. I don’t think racism has magically vaporized, but I don’t think it is systemic any longer. You obviously do.

    I’m not a member of the alt right and have no use for them.

    I don’t blindly buy into anything I see or hear from any news source. They all lie when it suits them and all of them including CBS and CNN have a political agenda, not just the idiots at Breitbart, Infowars and Fox News where it is blatant. The NYT has been trashed here for various good reasons recently. I have no familiarity with the rest of your list. I guess if I trust anyone it is skeptics, but not 100%, only we they back up what they say with something that can be fact checked. They at least do qualify their statements and reporting with words like “it appears that” or “I can’t help but think that..” or “I am not a physicist, but how can anyone buy into this?” In fact they sound a bit like scientists, actually, even when they aren’t.

    You really do think you have the high ground don’t you? Do you ever not make blanket statements? Do you ever see your opinions as just your opinions and not necessarily objective truth?

    Have you ever been to the BLM website and read their manifestos? It is a very chilling collection of collectivist essays in the tradition of Karl Marx.

  86. BenEon 04 May 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Great post, thanks Steve.

  87. bachfiendon 04 May 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Michael,

    “Let’s say you’re a forensic pathologist, and you recover semen from a rape victim. In our report, would you write ‘suspect is male…’. Or would you write ‘suspect is male or female, can’t determine without asking him/her how she identifies…’. Doctor”.

    I’ve read more than one novel in which that’s the plot or a variant thereof.

    Suppose you have a psychopath with some sort of sexual dysphoria who identifies as being male, despite having XX sex chromosomes, and who rapes (and kills) someone (male or female) using some sort of instrument which has been covered with a used condom so semen has been transferred to the victim.

    Police assuming that the perpetrator has to be male, your definition of male with XY sex chromosomes, would never find the perpetrator. Whereas the perpetrator is a genetic female with XX sex chromosomes and identifies as a male.

  88. Lightnotheaton 04 May 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Ideology is always an enemy of critical thinking. Right, left, theist, anti-theist, what have you.
    Michael Egnor is one of the most extreme ideologues I have ever encountered.

  89. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Edwardbe,

    I don’t blindly buy into anything I see or hear from any news source. They all lie when it suits them and all of them including CBS and CNN have a political agenda, not just the idiots at Breitbart, Infowars and Fox News where it is blatant. The NYT has been trashed here for various good reasons recently.

    I didn’t ask you to tell me who you trusted or who you blindly bought into. I asked for the legitimacy. And you bashed the NYT. Just like trump. Just like any alt right proponent. The NYT and the Wall Street Journal are some of the most legitimate news sources on the planet. Laugh it up. Laugh at the death of real journalism.

    When you say (1) you don’t buy into MSM, and (2) then claim CNN (which is known for being the most neutral among the big networks) is biased and lies, then (3) you claim that NYT was “trashed here” you are painting a very specific picture. One of doom and post truth.

    You bought into the alternative news media narratives. You believe nothing can be trusted and you don’t know what real journalism is.

    The reality is that the MSM presents factual stories. Alternative media presents deeply biased stories. If you can’t tell the two apart then I’m sorry but I can’t help you. Maybe check out who wins awards in investigative journalism, photo journalism and who publishes stories that literally change the world. Start there. Maybe read the wiki page on journalism. Honestly.

  90. edamameon 04 May 2017 at 5:26 pm

    egnor is confused about words now.

    Sex refers to whether a person is male or female.

    Gender refers to whether a word is masculine or feminine.

    Yep that’s the only meaning of the word ‘gender.’ More fallacy. More dishonesty. More casual disregard for truth. Does he think he is clever with this nonsense? I have met toddlers with more wit.

  91. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Michael, I am more than happy to have spirited debate with people who disagree with me, and I’m open to thoughtful, interesting arguments with honest, engaging people. You, however, are not thoughtful, honest, or engaging. You tromp around these post self-satisfied that you’re really giving to those post-modernist SJWs, never reading or understanding their arguments. You’re boring, and worse, you clutter up a thread with the same repeated nonsense. Steve makes a good point that you’re a good example of walking, talking motivated reasoning (and I’d add the Dunning-Kruger Effect), but I’ve seen all your tricks. I’m happy to talk with people that disagree with me, I’m just tired of you.

  92. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Lol add sex and gender to the long list of words Egnor doesn’t understand. He repeated this argument in the other thread like 15+ times that Atheism is a faith in the same way the catholic faith is a faith. He also can’t define words central to many of his arguments.

  93. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I assert that men are men and women are women, and some people wish they were something they aren’t.

    Lightnotsmart:

    “Michael Egnor is one of the most extreme ideologues I have ever encountered.”

    Welcome to our new world.

  94. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 5:45 pm

    This is the motte and baliey thing chipoki called you on last time. Your original position was that transgender, and gender dysphoria doesn’t exist. You also argued it was impossible on biological grounds. You were countered. Now you retreat to “men are men”

  95. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Prompted to define his terms, Egnor drops more nonsense. Someone see if there’s a nearby moon with a shield generator keeping new ideas away from him.

  96. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 5:46 pm

    mos:

    [but I’ve seen all your tricks. I’m happy to talk with people that disagree with me, I’m just tired of you.]

    What keeps me goin’ is that I haven’t seen all of your tricks. Every time I check in, you guys are saying something crazier than I thought possible.

    Now it’s ‘you can be a man or a woman, or both, whenever you want’.

    Everytime I get tired, stuff like that wakes me up.

    An unending source of fascination, like watching a culture go insane.

  97. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 5:47 pm

    @Edwards

    “No offence…”

    I think you should first look up the science on this. I trust my doctors and the prevailing medical establishment.

    I am told by physicians that this is the case. I have severe dysphoria that’s abolished almost entirely by hormones and not living a lie. All available evidence indicates that these symptoms and treatments are indicative of the stated condition. Psychotherapy and just dealing with it provided no relief – I didn’t choose shit, and I wouldn’t have.

    If it turns out that this science is incorrect, I’d be shocked, but that’s increasingly unlikely. I’m not a scientist, Edward – I shouldn’t be expected to know the entire science behind my condition anymore than my mother should fully understand her lupus before getting treated. I know the basics, enough to decide to go forward with treatment, and I know the scientific establishment is massively behind it, so I am secure in that decision.

  98. bachfiendon 04 May 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I wouldn’t call Egnor one of the most extreme ideologues.

    I would call him one of the most intellectually challenged ideologues though, whose only ploy is the Egnor Evasion, in which he makes the same assertions repeatedly, not acknowledging that they’ve been rebutted many times previously.

    He’s a perfect Troll.

  99. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 5:53 pm

    The crazy guy looks at the sane world, wondering where it went wrong.

  100. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Does a troll still count if they believe their crap? I don’t think he’s a troll – he’s too long term and consistent in his silliness. He’s also employed by an organization that supports him.

    He clearly thinks he’s a hero, here to tilt against the windmills of materialism. Much like the good Don, he has no idea how archaic and foolish he is.

  101. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Sarah,

    I do wish you the best. You have issues. We all do. I know your issues are particularly difficult. I hope it works out for you.

    Just this, I ask: don’t make your issues everyone else’s issues. Don’t f*ck up our language and our science and our civilization because you have a tough time of things.

    Don’t force people to choose between their livelihoods and their religious beliefs, because you have issues. Let people live their lives, like you want to live yours. If not everyone buys into your sexual identity thing, let it go. They have rights too.

    Perhaps you’ve been mistreated. Perhaps not. You make nothing better by mistreating others.

    Your wishes should be respected, to the degree you respect the wishes of others.

    But your wishes aren’t biological facts, and nobody has any obligation to lie about reality to make you feel better.

  102. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Egnor will, of course, ignore this, but, “Now it’s ‘you can be a man or a woman, or both, whenever you want’.” isn’t anyone here’s stated opinion. He’s strawmanning yet again because he’s not interested in actually having a discussion. He just wants to pat himself on the back always and forever. Like Gold 5, he’s just going to stay on target.

  103. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Dear Michael Egnor,

    I’m prepared to listen to you if you can successfully argue against established medical science.

    You may begin now. Take all the time you need, but know that you will have but one chance.

  104. RickKon 04 May 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Let’s not lose focus here.

    Michael Egnor has no interest in free speech for opinions he disagrees with – none whatsoever.

    Michael Egnor: “The Inquisition was a disaster. Because it was too timid and limited.
    Every culture needs to defend itself, and the failure of central and northern Europe to mount a rigorous Inquisition was catastrophic.”

    He doesn’t want free speech, he wants no dissention to his Catholic conservatism. Killing atheists or gays or liberals or Anglicans or Musims or women who work or evolutionary biologists is just “maintaining civic peace”.

  105. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 6:02 pm

    @MosBen

    “Loosen up!”
    Egnor “Stay on target!”
    *pew pew!*

  106. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 6:04 pm

    @Rick

    You can bet we’d be the first against the wall if he got his wish.

  107. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Engaging with Egnor does feel like a Death Star run, but there’s probably no thermal exhaust port.

  108. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 6:05 pm

    My mistake, it was on SBM:

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/afterword-chiropractic-and-the-new-york-times-is-the-newspaper-trying-to-prove-trump-right/ May 2, 2017

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/nyt-promoting-false-hope-as-journalism/ May 3, 2017

    Honestly, Sophie, the alternative media is not just one thing or one voice. The mainstream media outlets really do lie. The WSJ attacked PewDiePie who I don’t admire, but I do think they drummed a big to do about nothing in his case, because he was screwing around as usual and went too far with the Nazi jokes. They wanted to bring down a man with 1.5 million followers on YouTube when they only have 500K. I honestly think that the left does try to stifle the right and it backfires on them. I think this is why a clown like Trump got elected. People listened to his populist narrative however false it was, because they knew that no one in the government including Hilary gave a sh*t about them and he successfully pretended that he did.

    He doesn’t, of course.

  109. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Sarah,

    No he is real. Here’s some video evidence:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5VDkNGjHk

    By all accounts he’s a skilled pediatric neurosurgeon. A brain surgeon. Yes, literally. You can see him repeat the same Aquinas bullshit in that video at 15 min. And a psychopathic rant about Planned Parenthood equaling Nazi death camps at 36min. He also has a personal blog under his name that’s filled with borderline hate speech and extreme views. He also blogs extensively on creationism.

    He’s just a fundamentalist/fanatical Catholic.

  110. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Yeah, Sophie. I don’t think he’s a troll – he’s pathological, maybe.

    Sadly, being a surgeon is basically just being a skilled technician.

    “went too far with the Nazi jokes.”

    So they criticized a guy over Nazi jokes. What’s wrong with criticizing him, Eddy?

  111. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Edwardbe,

    Just because SBM and other blogs and people say negative things about specific articles in the NYT doesn’t mean the NYT itself is a low quality source. That’s fallacious reasoning. The NYT is still legitimate even though it makes mistakes and doesn’t perfectly cover things in line with SBM’s views. Pewdiepie had Nazi imagery, music and speech in his videos for a very young audience, period.

  112. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 6:10 pm

    “Engaging with Egnor does feel like a Death Star run, but there’s probably no thermal exhaust port.” Are you sure about that? I thought it was the source of all that crap.

  113. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Sarah:

    Just this:

    I understand that it’s hard, and you didn’t choose it.

    What matters most, for your soul, is not the hand you were dealt, but how you deal with it.

    I honestly wish you the best.

  114. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Egnor,

    You don’t care about her soul or mine. You are here to harass not preach.

  115. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Do you believe that I have a female soul, Egnor? I could respect that, even if I don’t agree with it.

  116. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 6:27 pm

    “So they criticized a guy over Nazi jokes. What’s wrong with criticizing him, Eddy?” It’s the motives, Sarry. They weren’t just criticizing him, they were trying to shut him down to eliminate the competition he represented. They can’t appeal to a young audience and he does, and the worst crime of all is that he is making millions of dollars doing it while they are losing advertising revenue. And his popularity is growing as a direct result of the WSJ attack.

    “Pewdiepie had Nazi imagery, music and speech in his videos for a very young audience, period.” And they loved it, just like they love all kinds of other edgy things, just to stick their finger in your eye. Despite your misgivings they will survive and prosper and eventually become moralistic toward their own kids, no doubt.

  117. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Yes, let’s start arguing about the gender of souls. Can they be trans-gender?

  118. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Eddy,

    Sorry if I don’t think it’s appropriate that children discover the atrocities of the holocaust in humorous videos. Let’s laugh at genocide kids!

    Also check your facts WSJ didn’t do anything they just investigated and called Disney up for a comment. When Disney actually looked at the videos they were like umm no and dropped him. They are allowed to do that, Nazi imagery doesn’t fit their child friendly brand. WSJ story came out AFTER Disney dropped pewdiepie.

  119. edwardBeon 04 May 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I don’t think kids care what you think is appropriate. They are going to find out things their own way whether you or I like it or not. Good luck with your crusade. I’ve had enough of it for now.

  120. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 7:05 pm

    edwardBe, do you prefer Edward, Ed, or Eddy? As for Egnor, maybe if we can get technical read out to the Alliance a weakness can be found when the data is analyzed.

  121. michaelegnoron 04 May 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Sarah:

    [Do you believe that I have a female soul, Egnor?]

    As best I can discern from your posts, you were born male, and you feel like and want to be a woman.

    A soul is the intelligible principle– roughly the organizational principles–of a human being.

    Souls aren’t really male or female–only people are male or female. To attribute sex to a soul would be the mereological fallacy.

    You are a man, so your soul is the soul of a man. Your desire to be a woman is an important aspect of you, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are a man.

    Why do you have these desires? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s biochemical, intrauterine hormones or brain molecules or whatnot. Perhaps it’s spiritual. Perhaps it’s a temptation, or a trial. Probably it’s a few of these things together.

    What matters is how you deal with it.

  122. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Wow Egnor.

  123. MosBenon 04 May 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Yoda to Steve: One thing remains: Egnor. You must confront Egnor. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be.

  124. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Edwardbe,

    I don’t think kids care what you think is appropriate. They are going to find out things their own way whether you or I like it or not. Good luck with your crusade. I’ve had enough of it for now.

    Yah so kids don’t know what’s best for them. This is why parents exist and all sorts of laws to protect children. Especially online. Claiming that kids don’t care if there is a mocking depiction of genocide in videos online is the most intellectually bankrupt thing I can imagine. This is what we are talking about. We are talking about the Nazi content in pewdiepie’s videos. Should children also be exposed to chat rooms with predators? Or porn? Beheading videos? You know, since kids don’t care what I think is appropriate. You’re leaving? Okay. Don’t call yourself a skeptic though, and don’t quote SBM to argue your transphobic/ Alt-right nonsense online.

  125. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Dr Michael Egnor can determine someone’s gender at birth, and diagnose gender dysphoria just by reading some comments online. I mean I really thought when he explained how the inquistion was a good thing… I thought that was the lowest he could sink.

  126. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I would just like to say that what I think is appropriate for kids to view online is irrelevant to the pewdiepie controversy. It also didn’t have anything to do with the WSJ story.

    The story was unpublished at the time Disney decided to drop pewdiepie. They decided that pewdiepie didn’t fit with their brand and was not someone they would bother to defend. They didn’t care if he had tens of millions of fans. For them it made no sense to be associated with him any longer. These details are left out of eddy’s “the leftist media just unfairly attacks people”. Blame Disney for not hiring lawyers to defend pewdiepie, or maybe for having some Jewish board members at maker studios. WSJ just made a phone call. It’s likely that no one in a senior position at Disney was aware of the content in his videos till that call was made.

  127. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Egnor, you said your piece.

    You aren’t current on the science in this matter. Now stop talking to me – I won’t respond. You won’t change and I don’t care. Be more Christ-like and stop throwing crap.

    @Eddy

    So you have direct proof they criticized him for profit motive, right? Some smoking gun evidence that this was motivated by bringing down someone popular?

    I don’t watch him. I don’t care. He made a tasteless joke and advertisers pulled because that’s their right. Unless you have proof of motive, your comments are mind reading bullshit.

    And regardless, he earned all consequences

  128. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Sarah,

    I wouldn’t recommend looking into it. I regretted it, it’s a waste of time. But yeah it wasn’t just one joke pewdiepie made. It was a few different things. He deliberately edited his videos to include Nazi symbolism, had the whole salute thing and had some people read some messed up antisemitic things to prove some point about how they would do whatever he told them. And even put in weird things like the Nazi party anthem. Which seems like a subtle joke? I don’t know.

  129. Sarahon 04 May 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Sounds like the WSJ was in the right, then.

  130. trumpproctoron 04 May 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Egnor- “Conservatives aren’t rioting and aren’t violating anyone’s rights to free speech.”

    BS! I don’t condone violence, but Trump himself started much of this when he said right at a rally [paraphrasing] “I’ll pay the legal fees to anyone who knocks those protesters out”.

    If you don’t think there is extensive violence perpetrated by the far right, then you need to quit watching Fox news.

  131. trumpproctoron 04 May 2017 at 10:37 pm

    BTW.. just a side note on Fox news:

    In January, Milo (who is nothing but a Troll and it’s unclear if he even believes half of what he says) talk at Berkeley was cancelled due to safety concerns. This was reported by Fox news at least 38 news stories that I was able to count. Within 48 hours of this Berkeley protest, there was a white supremacist Trump supporter in Canada, who walked into a mosque and shot and killed 6 Muslims. Guess how many times this was reported by Fox news? If you said zero… ding ding ding.. you win the prize!

  132. trumpproctoron 04 May 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Sophie – “This morning Trump signed a new religious liberty executive order. We don’t know much about it yet, but if it’s anything like the drafts it will give people like Egnor more freedom to discriminate against people like me.”

    This whole “religious liberty” is mainly code words for “My right to discriminate based upon my belief that Jesus hates X as much as I do.” X = gays, immigrants, blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, Jews, anyone you don’t like.

    It’s a slippery slope. Can an atheist doctor now refuse to treat a christian because it’s against his “liberty”? Can an atheist baker refuse to cater to a christian?

  133. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 10:52 pm

    trumpproctor,

    Good points. Yeah there have been similar laws and movements started under the pretense of “religious freedom / expression / liberty” it’s all code for discriminating against the LGBTQ community. At least lately, it also appears that there is something in the works to make it easier for churches and other groups to get involved in politics easier. That’s gonna be lovely.

    Trudeau said that the mosque attack was terrorism. Which I’m sure is the reason it received so little coverage. “Wait you are telling me if a white kid attacks some muslims it’s terrorism?”

    It wouldn’t be helpful to Trump’s agenda to report on that.

  134. trumpproctoron 04 May 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Egnor – “The way I “feel” doesn’t change my height or weight or race or the fact that I have two eyes, one liver, etc. Physical reality is not changed by my own confusion or delusions.”

    What’s between your legs does not make you a male or female. Against your will, if your penis were removed and you were surgically given a vagina, you are not magically a female. You would be a pissed off dude. Now imagine if you were just born that way.. same feeling as you do now that you are a male, but you were born with a female anatomy, but because of this you steel feel like a pissed off dude. Does that make you confused or deluded?

    Gender identity is more than what is between your legs, why is that such a hard concept for some people to grasp?

  135. trumpproctoron 04 May 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Sophie – “Trudeau said that the mosque attack was terrorism. Which I’m sure is the reason it received so little coverage. “Wait you are telling me if a white kid attacks some muslims it’s terrorism?”
    It wouldn’t be helpful to Trump’s agenda to report on that.”

    Thing was, as far as I can tell, all other MSM reported on it. Only Fox news (and the worse Brietbart/Infowars) did not.

  136. trumpproctoron 04 May 2017 at 11:13 pm

    I love how Egnor thinks that anyone who is being discriminated against should just suck it up. Easy coming from someone who’s in a privileged group who has never really experienced discrimination.

    Egnor, you have no idea what even something simple like walking down the street might feel like if every car you walked by you hear the door locking as soon as the driver sees you. Imagine what a lifetime of just THAT must do to a person?

    Try to learn how to have some empathy. For as much religion as you try to defend, you are not very like the Christ you worship.

  137. Sophieon 04 May 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I just have to be careful of how I talk about the news media. There are so many people out there that will jump on any evidence that the NYT, CNN, WSJ, made a mistake and never shut up.

    No news source is perfect, but the MSM is incredibly legit. The NYT is not failing. Is there science reporting perfect? No. Do they make mistakes? Yes. It’s still dramatically better than literally any alternative news source.

    CNN took flak for not airing Trump’s new commercial, they said it was because it depicted MSM as “fake news” I have to say I agree with that. I’m not going to let MSM-bashing slide, especially when it’s done by alt-right jackasses. Name your sources or get out. Watch Egnor drop links to Breitbart a site synonymous with the alt right. Deeply racist and highly biased. Yep he has nothing meaningful to contribute if that’s what he thinks is s legitimate source. The lines have to be drawn somewhere.

    I need to pick my battles or I’ll sound like that poster earlier today Edwardbe. He literally (1) argued that facts can’t be misused (let’s talk about black men shooting black other black men, in a discussion about police shooting unarmed men), (2) trans denialism, and said that (3) skeptics/SBM support his biological chromosomal argument for human sexuality/genders. Then went on to say how the MSM is illegitimate, no news source is trustworthy and bashed the NYT. Post-truth essentially. He couldn’t name one major news source he liked.

    He clearly belongs on a specific side of the political spectrum. That’s all textbook far right behavior right down to the gay bashing.

    Even Novella explained how his biological explanations of a simple male-famed dichotomy were wrong. He still thinks he’s a critical thinker though and that he has the high ground. That’s just great, he learned nothing.

    The person who coined “science based medicine,” the name of the website you referenced in support of transphobia, shattered your elementary understanding of gender and you still think you are in the right?

    I just wish there was more love in the world. Who would have thought that that the Information Age would bring us fake news and this alternative reality? We can’t even agree on photographic evidence or basic stats. It breaks my heart.

  138. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 12:00 am

    We live in a world where 4 days before the election Infowars published the Clinton satanic network story. Completely fake news, invented details, misrepresentation of a controversial artist’s work etc.

    There was no legal recourse to get that material taken down. Millions of people viewed it and it was shared so much on social media. It was linked on Drudge Report for days right at the top in a big font with pictures.

    Think about this just for one moment.

    Free speech is the best right? Censorship is bad right?
    Isn’t it worse to be free to invent fake news stories to manipulate people?

    Consider what the world would be like if someone like Michael Egnor had a following of 50 million. Would you feel the same way about free speech if he ranted about how the inquistion was actually too timid, and should have tortured and murdered more people? What if he promoted the controversial Planned Parenthood video. And talked about how trans people don’t really exist. In his medical opinion. As a doctor.

  139. Lightnotheaton 05 May 2017 at 1:51 am

    Sophie,
    If you’re saying it might be okay to censor speech based on content if it’s obnoxious enough in your opinion, I’d have to disagree pretty strongly. The thing is, who gets to decide what’s unacceptable speech? Mr. The-Inquisition-Was-Too-Timid Egnor?

  140. TheGorillaon 05 May 2017 at 5:49 am

    >People pretending they can’t figure out what sort of speech is unacceptable

    What next, psuedoscience can’t exist because of demarcation problem?

  141. SteveAon 05 May 2017 at 7:43 am

    edwardBe: “Honestly, Sophie, the alternative media is not just one thing or one voice. The mainstream media outlets really do lie. The WSJ attacked PewDiePie who I don’t admire, but I do think they drummed a big to do about nothing in his case, because he was screwing around as usual and went too far with the Nazi jokes. They wanted to bring down a man with 1.5 million followers on YouTube when they only have 500K.”

    Slight correction. Around the time of the WSJ attack, PewDiePie’s YouTube audience was not 1.5m, it was 50m. It’s now 54m (which includes myself, so an ironic ‘thanks’ to WSJ for bringing him to my attention).

    The whole WSJ ‘investigation’ was a fiasco. One of the videos picked out for criticism featured Pewds wearing a military uniform that was assumed to be somehow fascistic (I mean it must be, knowing he is a Nazi after all). However, even the most rudimentary research would have revealed it was meant to be a British Army officer uniform, and one based on one worn by Captain Mainwaring, a character from the much beloved sitcom ‘Dad’s Army’. You can buy one at any fancy dress store.

    The whole exercise had one point, to try and sour advertisers against the new media and win them back to the old. Massive fail. Partly because the vast majority of YouTube’s revenue comes from medium to small businesses that can’t afford the old media’s inflated prices and poor returns.

  142. mumadaddon 05 May 2017 at 8:42 am

    I’m genuinely interested in the question of systemic racism in the US police force. I always accepted the “common knowledge” that unarmed black men are more likely to get shot by police than whites.

    I only recently came to question that after listening to one of Sam Harris’s podcasts with Glenn C Loury. Loury cited a couple of studies that showed that blacks were in fact less likely go get shot in the course of an arrest than whites.

    These studies are obviously limited — they were limited to specific cities or regions, and specific outcome measures, so I don’t take them as definitive.

    My question to those who have stated that systemic racism is a fact, specifically in relation to unarmed black men being shit by police, is this — do you have any statistics on this question? It’s a genuine question by the way, as in I don’t k is the answer and I’m not trying to trio anyone up.

    It does make me slightly suspicious that much as I have heard this stated as fact I have never seen any stats to back it up. I know there are real problems with racism in the justice system — e.g. harsher sentences for equivalent offences — but I have seen the statistics that reflect this.

    Any input on this would be welcome.

  143. mumadaddon 05 May 2017 at 8:44 am

    “shit by police”

    TWICE I corrected that to ‘shot’… my phone obviously knows my potty-mouth.

  144. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 9:35 am

    SteveA,

    Your analysis of the Pewdiepie-WSJ issue is flawed. Once again the timeline is: WSJ story came out after Disney dropped pewdiepie.
    Yes the WSJ did an investigation, but it was unpublished at the time they contacted Disney for a comment, Disney’s reply was they were dropping pewdiepie, which then became the whole story.

    Also your thoughts on his subscribers and advertising are wrong. His channel was demonetized, doesn’t matter if he has 100 million fans he doesn’t make a dime from YouTube anymore. And his special premium YouTube red show and other pending deals were all canceled. He lost millions of dollars of income overnight.

    Your words on the Nazi content are flawed. You must have got your facts from the alt-right. You chose to tell a story about the forensic analysis of a military uniform he was wearing that wasn’t actually of Nazi origin?! You ignored the actual Nazi imagery that was deliberately edited in 9 separate videos that have all been taken down now. You also ignored the words “death to all Jews” that appear in one of the videos. He only really saw he messed up when neoNazi groups were referencing his videos.

    Maker studios, and its parent Disney are the ones responsible for what happened. They could have defended pewdiepie, they did not. They also had the right to do what they did. Pewdiepie’s casual embrace of Nazism didn’t fit with their brand. Disney has really strict policies and has dropped people in the past for doing much less.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/PewDiePie#Controversial_videos_and_network_drop_.282017.29

  145. praktikon 05 May 2017 at 10:02 am

    Anyone watch CNN’s “History of Comedy” series?

    I’ll just say it really grounded me in some perspective on EXACTLY this issue.

    The first episode was titled “F*cking Funny”, and dealt with obscenity and bad language in comedy, going WAY back to early comedy in the early-middle 20th century. Many comics discussed their recognition of Lenny Bruce as the wellspring of modern comedy for so many – George Carlin essentially recieved the inheritance and ran with it but you wonder what modern comedy would look like if not for his groundbreaking routines.

    And he paid a price for it – a serious price. He was hounded by the morality brigade. Arrested for obscenity after giving a show – many times. Personally blamed for the moral decay of America.

    He ended up dead of an overdose far too young.

    But just think about that – imagine Amy Schumer, Louis CK, Chris Rock – arrested – ARRESTED! – after saying words into a microphone. Paying a legal and social price for saying jokes!

    It really made the debate this past year, these conservative speakers being “silenced” – seem very trite and unimportant.

    Its the culture war people – its the tribes at war. Thats whats happenign at Berkeley.

    Maybe we’re doing ok on free speech – and I get that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    But, heck, Lenny was arrested – ARRESTED! – for saying words into a microphone.

    AND NOT THAT LONG AGO.

    Isn’t there an arc of progress on free speech happening? Why worry about slippery slope when we are so obviously progressing in terms of free speech protections??

    The rollback is a fiction – a nightmare born of a quasi religious fetishization of an absolutist, maximalist interpretation of “free speech” that sees any temporary or minor infraction as the potential downfall of Western Civilization.

    It just isn’t happening!

    What’s happening instead is an acute flare up in a culture war, and people love being able to claim a moral pedestal on their side, and so couch this tribal war in the terms of a national mythology they know will resonate and arrogate upon themselves an aura of noble prestige.

  146. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 10:10 am

    praktik,

    If I recall correctly Lenny Bruce was criticizing mainstream religion and making atheist/ agnostic arguments at a time where there where anti-obscenity laws. This is pretty significantly different from what Milo and Coulter do. They only care about provoking people there is no real substance to what they have to say. Give me some brilliant arguments those two have made over the years. I’ll show you a pile of garbage that comprises the majority of their work. Coulter especially has a giant history of just making inflammatory comments.

  147. praktikon 05 May 2017 at 10:24 am

    Sophie,

    No argument there – I’m just pointing out the long arc here. As far as “free speech” goes – we’ve come a long way!

    Im very sympathetic to arguments about the quality of what Coulter and Milo offer – and as long as we’re worrying about slippery slopes?

    Why isn’t anyone clutching pearls over the slippery slope of letting just any speaker come to any university and talk to students, no matter the quality of their ideas. Are universities not there to curate the most worthwhile materials FOR students? Where does it end if any creationist should be expected to be able to speak at any university, because anything goes and free speech means anybody can say anything anywhere and everyone should say everything everywhere!

  148. mumadaddon 05 May 2017 at 10:24 am

    Sophie,

    It was you who said:

    “You are speaking out against what is clearly a systematic problem. Cops shooting unarmed black men.”

    Did you see my question above? Interested in any response you might offer.

  149. praktikon 05 May 2017 at 10:33 am

    mumadadd,

    Sam Harris can be a bit of a dilettante, I would always check against other sources when he discusses political questions especially, where he somtimes exposes a bit of a naiveté.

    I would offer a few things to consider- statistics speak poorly to experience. But maybe some other statistics from some recent DoJ reports on Ferguson and Baltimore offer a glimpse into what the black relationship with police is in these cities:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/03/ferguson-as-a-criminal-conspiracy-against-its-black-residents-michael-brown-department-of-justice-report/386887/

    “This week, the Department of Justice concluded that there is no evidence to disprove Officer Wilson’s claim that he feared for his life during the encounter. And the federal agency also presented context that explains why so many black residents assumed foul play and took to the streets in protest: For years, Ferguson’s police force has meted out brutality, violated civil rights, and helped Ferguson officials to leech off the black community as shamelessly as would mafia bosses.”

    https://news.vice.com/story/the-five-most-outrageous-parts-of-the-dojs-chicago-police-report

    The five most outrageous parts of the DOJ’s Chicago Police report

    1. Shooting suspects who pose “no immediate threat to officers or the public”

    2. Fatally shooting unarmed suspects in the back — and having it ruled justified

    3. Mistaking a wristwatch for a weapon before fatally shooting the suspect

    4. Shooting suspects who run from plainclothes cops jumping out of unmarked cars with guns drawn

    5. Only 2 percent of complaints against cops leading to punishment

    More here:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-police-department-of-justice-report-20170113-htmlstory.html

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/doj-release-report-chicago-police-abuses-44752157

    If Sam Harris had a discussion with statistics that left listeners feeling as if the case for there being systemic abuse of black citizens at the hands of police is overblown, he unfortunately did a disservice to his listenership.

  150. praktikon 05 May 2017 at 10:37 am

    Baltimore offers another case-in-point:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/08/the-horror-of-the-baltimore-police-department/495329/

    “The document lays out, in often sickening detail, the many ways Baltimore police abused the law, the people they were meant to serve, the public trust, and their own brothers in arms. In the wake of the failed prosecution of six officers for the death of Freddie Gray, the report serves as a reminder that rather than an isolated crime, the Gray case was symptomatic of a force that regularly arrested people for insufficient reasons, or no reasons at all, and used excessive force against them—but particularly, and uniquely, black citizens of the city. The Justice Department makes clear that African Americans in Baltimore were targeted and abused by the police, making this report a twin to the department’s report on Ferguson, Missouri, which my colleague Conor Friedersdorf wrote indicated a “conspiracy against black citizens.””

  151. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 10:39 am

    Mumadadd,

    Sorry my other post isn’t working too many links or some formatting issue. I would suggest you look into stop and frisk policies in New York. The related stats. Also check out systematic corruption over the years of various big city police departments, Like the LA police. Here is a collection of some studies that don’t corroborate the study on Sam Harris’ podcast, I don’t defend them all, I’m just giving a launchpad.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/07/data-police-racial-bias

  152. SteveAon 05 May 2017 at 10:42 am

    Sophie:

    “Once again the timeline is: WSJ story came out after Disney dropped pewdiepie.
    Yes the WSJ did an investigation, but it was unpublished at the time they contacted Disney for a comment, Disney’s reply was they were dropping pewdiepie, which then became the whole story.”

    Why do you think this is relevant? Do you honestly think the WSJ would have dropped the story if Disney hadn’t reacted? If you do, you are astonishingly naïve. The WSJ slung their mud, waited to see what the outcome would be, then ran their story. They would have told a story whatever the outcome.

    “Also your thoughts on his subscribers and advertising are wrong. His channel was demonetized, doesn’t matter if he has 100 million fans he doesn’t make a dime from YouTube anymore.”

    You don’t seem to understand the issue, or be aware of the facts. PDP continues to make plenty from YouTube. He’s not making as much as he did because he’s no longer on premium channels. And the fact that PDP has 50m+ subscribers is very, very relevant. In fact, it’s the whole point.

    “Your words on the Nazi content are flawed. You must have got your facts from the alt-right. You chose to tell a story about the forensic analysis of a military uniform he was wearing that wasn’t actually of Nazi origin?! You ignored the actual Nazi imagery that was deliberately edited in 9 separate videos that have all been taken down now. You also ignored the words “death to all Jews” that appear in one of the videos. He only really saw he messed up when neoNazi groups were referencing his videos.”

    What astonishing arrogance from someone who admitted they’ve never actually seen the videos. And they’re quite easy to find if you look for them. The WSJ completely omitted to provide the context of these gags, and, regardless of whether you think them funny or not, they were just that – gags. Oh, and what a low, low bar you’ve set for the concept of ‘forensic analysis’. The most trivial Google search would have told the WSJ what they were looking at, but they didn’t care, they just scooped up anything they thought might fit the bill and stuck it in the chum bucket. Judging by the things they decided to take note of, I’m guessing they just trawled through a hundred or so videos on fast-forward.

    “Maker studios, and its parent Disney are the ones responsible for what happened. They could have defended pewdiepie, they did not. They also had the right to do what they did. Pewdiepie’s casual embrace of Nazism didn’t fit with their brand. Disney has really strict policies and has dropped people in the past for doing much less.”

    And when has anyone suggested that Disney can’t drop whoever they like for whatever reason they like? The fact remains that before WSJ did its smear job, the number of people who’d complained about these videos was zero. And it was zero because the people who subscribe to the channel are the one who watched these videos in context, and they got-the-joke. Bizarrely, you also seem to think that Pewdie’s main audience consists of pre-teens and toddlers. Why don’t you do some research and get a clue.

    Anyway, it’s a sunny Friday afternoon where I am, so I’m off. I’m done with you.

  153. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 10:59 am

    SteveA,

    Why do you think this is relevant? Do you honestly think the WSJ would have dropped the story if Disney hadn’t reacted? If you do, you are astonishingly naïve. The WSJ slung their mud, waited to see what the outcome would be, then ran their story. They would have told a story whatever the outcome.

    It matters because it doesn’t fit the whole alt-right/ post-truth / fake news / biased leftist media narrative. If you think it doesn’t you don’t know how professional journalism works. For example there is nothing technically wrong in that WSJ article, they would issue corrections or pull it if it was as much of a “fiasco” as you people like to think. The content of the WSJ article is all technically true and good investigative journalism. If you think otherwise, you are part of the problem and you got your facts from alternative media stories. Which we already know you did, since you told a story about a British uniform he wore instead of the actual Nazi imagery and words at the center of the controversy. You know nothing about this controversy it’s very obvious. Go read the wiki link I provided and then your original words.

    Disney is the key player here, not the WSJ. The WSJ did not win a war of ideas in the MSM narrative and force everyone to hate Pewdiepie. (That’s what happened with Milo’s endorsement of pedophilia). The WSJ simply informed Disney what one of their key revenue streams over at Maker studios was up to. Disney said F that and dropped him. Which they are allowed to do, Nazi imagery doesn’t fit their brand.

  154. Jasonon 05 May 2017 at 11:34 am

    Milo has returned! All life-haters in Berkeley shall tremble before the fabulous one!

    #CincoDeMilo

  155. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 12:08 pm

    SteveA, since Eddy back there chickened out, I extend the sane challenge to you:

    Do you have any proof that the WSJ targeted PewDiePie over anything other than his actions beyond speculation about their motives?

    Sophie appears to be stating the facts of the case. I remember the Death to all Jews thing. Disney had good reason to drop him, especially considering how tainted their founder is in the public eye over anti-semitism (and because seriously, it wasn’t that funny and it’s a rallying point for some really dangerous people.)

    All this whining about feminists and so called “SJW”s destroying freedom is such fucking bullshit. The only reason we’re able to treat women and minorities seriously in media is because we fought back against the suppression of our stories.

  156. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 12:16 pm

    What, he made it back from pedophile hell?

  157. Jasonon 05 May 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Milo never defended pedophilia; he was quoted out of context when discussing his early adolescent sexual experiences. The association of homosexuality with pedophilia is a smear tactic used by religious conservatives.

    Milo’s unedited remarks in question start at 57 minutes into this podcast:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azC1nm85btY

    Judge for yourself.

  158. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I judge him to be a waste of time who has nothing to say and who harasses people rather than engages meaningfully with them. As far as I’m concerned, purgatory is exactly where he should be. Berkeley has every right to refuse his presence.

  159. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Jason,

    Milo never defended pedophilia; he was quoted out of context when discussing his early adolescent sexual experiences.

    You are the person from the retreat of the cryosphere comment thread right? We went through this all over there, you deny climate change, support Milo’s racism and pedophilia endorsement, and you love gamer gate. Red pill? Anything else I’m forgetting?

    Here’s a transcript of what Milo said:
    http://heavy.com/news/2017/02/milo-yiannopolous-pedophilia-transcript-pederasty-video-full-sex-boys-men-catholic-priest-cpac-quotes/

    Relevant part:

    In the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents. Some of those relationships are the most –

    It sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me, another man says, interrupting Milo.

    Milo: And you know what, I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him… You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means. Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13-years-old who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet. Who have not gone through puberty. Who are too young to be able (unclear and cut off by others)…That’s not what we are talking about. You don’t understand what pedophilia is if you are saying I’m defending it because I’m certainly not.

    Milo is clearly arguing that if you are attracted to what he calls “a sexually mature” 13 year old, that is not pedophilia. He also defends and says many things to support pedophilia. It’s not a smear campaign it actually happened. Being an adult and having sex with a 13 year old boy is a crime, that’s a fact. Doesn’t matter how mature the CHILD is. So yes, Jason, Once again you are wrong. Milo’s words are by definition an endorsement of pedophilia.

  160. praktikon 05 May 2017 at 1:05 pm

    The way this thread is going is just showing how this is not really a free speech issue.

    Its a tribalized culture war issue.

    Free speech is not really at stake.

  161. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Indeed. Free speech will survive – the debate is proof of that.

  162. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Praktik,

    No free speech is not at stake. I think Steven Novella captured the real problems in the article above. With some minor exceptions. The Trump White House hasn’t really suppressed the MSM, yes he talks a lot of crap, they were locked out of one official briefing and not invited to another. These things happen and we’re extensively covered. It speaks more to the incompetence of Sean Spicer than to actually censorship.

    Trump doesn’t stop giving interviews to the “fake news media” which is something you would do if you really believed that. When Putin and Erdogan started shutting down their MSM, they starved them to death, passed laws to restrict what they could do and then eventually forced them to sell and bought them. So now the state owns the media of Turkey and Russia.

    I agree Trump definitely sucks, but he is more in a love-hate relationship than a hate relationship with the MSM. IMO fake news is just a talking point for him to speak to his base. He relied heavily on MSM coverage throughout the campaign. He only started talking about them as fake when the MSM started using the term “fake news” to describe the actual stories that were fake like pizzagate and other things popular with his supporters.

  163. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 1:33 pm

    The “biased media” talking points have been around for decades. Trump didn’t invent them. Conservatives have been pushing completely Fictional stories as truth for a long time. Remember the Obamacare death panels? Obama birthers? Before that we had other stories I don’t remember at the moment. Fox News was born out of this phenomenon. Right wing creationists didn’t have a tv station to watch, so Roger Ailes created one.

  164. Jasonon 05 May 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Sophie:

    As Milo has explained in the gay community “boy” usually means young adult. In the podcast Milo stated he thought the current age of consent in the US was fine as is.

    Pedophilia is sexual attraction to children. A child is by definition a young person who has not yet developed secondary sex characteristics. Sexual contact between an adult and a young adolescent with such characteristics is statutory rape but not pedophilia.

    Human development is a messy continuum and some adolescents are more sexually precocious than others. We have to draw a line somewhere, which beyond the onset of puberty is basically a cultural judgement call. In Britain the age of consent is 16; in Germany it’s 14. A sexual relationship between a pubescent 13 year old and someone 18+ may be morally dubious to some, but it’s not necessarily abusive.

  165. Jasonon 05 May 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Dr. Egnor:

    The national standards I referred to would be set by educational NGOs and would not be compulsory. Certification is by definition elective vis a vis licensing.

  166. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Jason,

    As Milo has explained in the gay community “boy” usually means young adult. In the podcast Milo stated he thought the current age of consent in the US was fine as is.

    Except that Milo actually specifically said “13 year-old.” Period. End of discussion.

    It’s in the transcript I provided, it’s in the audio if prefer that. It’s so intellectually dishonest to come back with a counter like this, when Milo’s words “13 year-old” are directly quoted in the comment you are replying too. Clearly he didn’t mean a “young adult” if he said the words “13 year old.”

    From our last discussion where you outed yourself as anti-feminist and “red-pulled,” I’m just going to go ahead and assume you know nothing about the “community.” As someone from the LGBT community I can personally tell you that none of my adult gay male friends have ever said anything like this, they have never told me that it’s okay to be attracted seduce and seduce a 13 year old. Yes they use the word “boy” like girls do, to refer to a “cute boy” but they don’t casually mix up a 13 year old boy with a consenting ADULT. If I ever heard them try to tell me that pedophilia isn’t pedophilia when you are attracted to a 13 year old with “sexually mature” genitals, I would loudly disagree. If I knew someone acted on these thoughts and carried out some criminal acts I would report them. I would not casually justify this behavior in conversation everrrrr.

    The whole thing with the statutory rape you need to get your facts straight. Milo explicitly justified that it was okay what his priest did to him. That’s not simple statutory rape. That’s someone in a position of authority, who is entrusted to protect and care for the child, taking advantage of their position to assault someone. Even if you changed the age of consent to 13, a priest / teacher / counselor / baby sitter cannot legally have sexual contact with a minor in their care. Because it’s an exploitative relationship. And you need to be the age of majority to consent to that.

  167. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 2:21 pm

    If a woman can be a man, a little boy can be a man.

    “Pedophilia”s just socially constructed, right asshats?

  168. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Jason is your friend not mine.

  169. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Hey, SJW pinheads, I asked a question: if a woman can be a man, why can’t a child be a man?

    If “gender fluidity”, why not “age fluidity?

  170. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Hey Egnor-the-neurosurgeon,

    We’ve been through this, your position was that biological explanations for transgender are impossible. Is that your medical opinion as a doctor?

  171. praktikon 05 May 2017 at 3:08 pm

    There’s totally “age fluidity” and everyone is cool with it. I developed a back problem at age 20. I told people I felt like “an old man”.

    Old people everywhere are encouraged to “feel young”.

    People lie about their true age all the time and represent themselves with an age they feel more comfortable with.

  172. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 3:12 pm

    If you argue for age fluidity he’s going to use it to say we support some messed up stuff.

  173. trumpproctoron 05 May 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Egnor “If “gender fluidity”, why not “age fluidity?”

    We do regarding non-controversial things that people arn’t going to get their panties in a bunch about.. like letting a cognitively/emotionally advanced 13 year old attend collage.

  174. MosBenon 05 May 2017 at 3:59 pm

    So I see Egnor has descended to just name calling now. So little to say; so many posts to say it in.

  175. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Sounds like someone, who shall not be named, has gotten into the alcohol a bit and is showing his true colors. Ah, remember the times when this person was pretending compassion?

    If there’s a hell, it’s for inconsistent little brats who claim to be virtuous while acting like anything but.

  176. edamameon 05 May 2017 at 4:39 pm

    egnor go spend some time at reddit, better yet 4chan you are an amateur at this.

  177. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I hate Reddit. Egnor would thrive on so many subs there. r/Creation. Anything with intelligent design and Catholicism.

  178. edamameon 05 May 2017 at 4:56 pm

    4chan they know how to troll.

  179. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 5:01 pm

    “Ladies”:

    I make a perfectly rational point.

    How can you condemn pedophilia, when a pedophile simply can use your own reasoning that biological facts like sex and age are social constructs.

    If women can be men, children can be men.

    Do you have any reply, or just insults?

  180. BillyJoe7on 05 May 2017 at 5:17 pm

    ME:

    “How can you condemn pedophilia, when a pedophile simply can use your own reasoning that biological facts like sex and age are social constructs”

    That paedophile can reason however he likes, and his reasoning may even be sound, and I may even have sympathy for him regarding his urges, and I will certainly sympathise with him regarding any harm that may have been done to him, but if he harms a single child…

  181. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I notice fundamentalists don’t really understand the whole concept of consent. Pedophilia is wrong because there can be no reasonable expectation of consent.

    It’s amazing how they can be told repeatedly that being transgender is an immutable biological characteristic, then just ignore it.

  182. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Also, there’s serious irony in someone talking about insults when they were childishly insulting others. Some people are just born hypocrites I guess.

  183. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Michael Egnor,

    “Ladies”: [casual misogyny]
    I make a perfectly rational point. [unsubstantiated opinion]
    How can you condemn pedophilia, when a pedophile simply can use your own reasoning that biological facts like sex and age are social constructs. [Strawman, fallacious
    equivalence]
    If women can be men, children can be men. [illogical conflation of two separate discussions]
    Do you have any reply, or just insults? [multiple people have replied. This is just the Egnor Evasion] [my emphasis]

    This is actually all pretty predictable. He repeats the same arguments from years ago, just check out the YouTube video. He did recently say the Inquisition was timid and explained how it could have been more successful. He’s morally bankrupt, logically inconsistent and petty.

    He lost the transgender biological arguments. It’s a modern medical position that trans is real. He can’t say that in his medical opinion as a doctor that it doesn’t exist. That only males and females exist. SN proved that. Now he’s retreated to: men are men, women are women. Like a true coward.

    Human sexual development occurs at varying rates. The age of consent is meant to reflect an average of mental and physical maturity. There are many 21 year olds that can’t make good choices, and there are 15 year olds that are responsible for taking care of an entire family. An underage boy can be sexually mature but not mentally mature, he will be inexperienced, vulnerable and naive when it comes to sex. Funny how Milo didn’t mention that, but just physical development of genitals? I guess it comes with the flamboyant vanity. Being unable to consider the non-superficial is a reflection of his own lack of substance.

    Egnor’s people argue that Milo said reasonable things about sexual development just to defend him. It can’t possibly be that Milo is just wrong…

    Pause for a moment to consider the worse things that can happen in each of these scenarios. 1) Trans people get basic rights. 2) Milo-esqe idiots get to abuse children.

    Defend Milo’s arguments at your own risk.

  184. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:19 pm

    [That paedophile can reason however he likes, and his reasoning may even be sound, and I may even have sympathy for him regarding his urges, and I will certainly sympathise with him regarding any harm that may have been done to him, but if he harms a single child…]

    I agree with you.

    But pedophiles do use your reasoning–that age and the consent that follows are social constructs, not biological standards, and some children do in fact genuinely consent. That is, more or less, what Milo said about his own abuse as a child.

    So go ahead and tear down traditional mores and biological facts. Understand that there will be consequences, and not the consequences you expect.

  185. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Transphobia has real political costs even in the Trump era. Mark E. Green just withdrew from running for Secretary of the army. He’s on record denying that transgendered people exist and he’s a creationist.

    How’s that taste?

  186. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Sarah:

    [I notice fundamentalists don’t really understand the whole concept of consent. Pedophilia is wrong because there can be no reasonable expectation of consent.]

    Let me clear up your misunderstanding, toots.

    The whole point of “age fluidity”, just like the point of “gender fluidity”, is that traits like age and gender are social constructs, and as such are not rigid and can be created anew. It’s a Derrida thing–there is no truth, only stories we each tell.

    So an “age fluidity” NAMBLA activist would say (they actually do say) ‘some people are older, in terms of capacity for consent, than their chronological age.’.

    The reasoning is identical to your reasoning that ‘some people are a different gender than their sex at birth’.

    Your ideas have consequences.

  187. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Sophie:

    “Transphobia”

    LOL.

    I’m soooo…. scared of guys who dress like girls and girls who dress like guys…!

    I have a phobia….

  188. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Sophie:

    You take yourself too seriously, toots.

    You’re no victim, and ain’t no one “phobic”.

    I know some trans people, and I like them. I’ve worked with a couple over the years, and they were hardworking, quiet, decent, sane people. There are a fair number of trans people in nursing, which is the most honorable profession. One person in particular who I know is a very dedicated nurse who has helped people with great skill and dedication for decades.

    The trans people I know aren’t hysterical self-obsessed drama queens (kings), like you.

    Get over yourself.

  189. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Egnor,

    You are morally bankrupt. You couldn’t spot logical equivalence if smacked you across the face.

    Gender dysphoria does not equal gender fluidity.

    Fluidity describes changing state. Most LGBTQ people are in one state, for example a man attracted to men. Or a man feeling trapped in a women’s body. There is biological evidence for this and this stability accounts for the majority of the cases. Intersex people are the easiest examples to see where someone is born with mismatching or atypical characteristics. But the other examples exist to, so says science.

    No one here other than you and Jason, is proposing that something like “age fluidity” exists, and using that argument to support what Milo said.

    Milo is wrong.

    Consequences are simple:
    1. trans people get basic rights and legal protections under the law
    This is different from what you are arguing where you and Jason are saying where you are trying to argue that:
    2. People should get to abuse children.

    No one here but you and Jason are arguing 2.

  190. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I can guarantee you, they talk about you behind your back and it ain’t pretty.

  191. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Actually I responded to Sophie, thinking I was responding to Sarah.

    I swore I wouldn’t converse with Sophie because he said something offensive about “hate speech” recently.

    Sophie and Sarah: you guys should wear different dresses or something, so I can tell you apart.

  192. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Sarah:

    [I can guarantee you, they talk about you behind your back and it ain’t pretty.]

    All the nurses do. 😉

  193. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Phobia takes on many shapes and characteristics. Just like misogyny, calling Sarah “toots,” referring to 5 different people as “ladies,” claiming I’m “oppressed” and need “a hijab.”

    You might not be afraid of a man in a dress. But you fear that your fundamentalist view of reality is being shattered. LGBTQ represents the death of traditional catholic marriage and world view.

  194. bachfiendon 05 May 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Michael,

    Mentally competent adults are given the legal right to decide what they can or should not do, provided it doesn’t affect the legal rights of other other humans (both adults and minors), and in many jurisdictions non-human animals too (you’re not allowed to torture house pets and farm animals for example).

    Mentally competent adults are assumed legally to possess the illusion of ‘free will’.

    Minors aren’t considered to be competent to decide. They aren’t legally considered to be able to give consent.

    Milo may claim that he gave consent to abuse when he was a minor, but that’s irrelevant, and also doubtful. It is well known that episodic (autobiographical) memories are notoriously unreliable, being largely confabulated at the time the memories are ‘retrieved’. The content of the memories depend more on what the person believes at the time the memories were retrieved than on what actually happened. Present beliefs are projected back in time to past events.

  195. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Your Catholic way of life is being abanonded by people more and more. It’s bleeding. LGBTQ becoming more legitimate and legalized is just another cut. Your way of life is dying by a thousand cuts.

  196. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Sophie:

    (Phobia takes on many shapes and characteristics.)

    I’ll break my “don’t talk to Sophie vow”.

    Does your denial of your own biological reality make you “cisphobic”?

  197. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Egnor,

    Being a doctor, saying transgender people don’t exist, despite evidence. Is slightly different from just expressing casual concerns about the issue.

    I know you. I’m in your head.

    You know about the thirty years war because that was a definitive loss in the history of Catholicism. You defended the Inquisition because you saw it as something that could have saved your precious religion.

    You do fear the LGBTQ community. It’s just the most recent battle you are using. You’ve been losing for centuries now.

  198. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Bach:

    [Minors aren’t considered to be competent to decide. They aren’t legally considered to be able to give consent.]

    Your fallacy is called “begging the question”. You assume the conclusion “minors are incapable of consent”, yet that is precisely what folks like NAMBLA argue isn’t true across the board.

    When someone argues “some minors are capable of consent”, you can’t argue effectively against it by asserting “minors are incapable of consent”, because that is the premise that the NAMBLA types deny.

    The way to argue against the NAMBLA types is to argue that biological reality is not fungible, and that biological characteristics like age (and sex) are real and have legal and moral salience, and are not constructed socially.

  199. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Cis-hetero-phobic Sophie:

    [You do fear the LGBTQ community.]

    Actually I do. You should see the bill we got from the interior decorator who did our kitchen.

  200. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Egnor,

    Joke all you want. You do fear the LGBTQ. There was no place for the LGBTQ community in Roman Catholic theocracies. Now there is a place. Everyone used to be Catholic. Now they are not. Marriage used to be plain and simple, now were are savage heathens. Your way of life is dying.

  201. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Cis-hetero-phobic Sophie:

    [There was no place for the LGBTQ community in Roman Catholic theocracies]

    A lot of priests were and are gay. Nuns too. Very holy and good people.

    It is homosexual practice, not inclination, that is sinful.

    Gay people have always been welcome in the Church.

  202. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 7:08 pm

  203. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Father Mychel Judge was the beloved and heroic chaplin for the FDNY, and was the first confirmed death on 9-11. He was gay.

    Gay men and women have always been an integral part of the Church.

    The Church teaches that sin is to be avoided–and we all sin, in somewhat different ways.

  204. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Egnor,

    So it’s okay to be gay in the church. But it’s a sin to act on it? That’s okay? A culture of repression.

  205. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Egnor,

    So why did god create gay people? Seems kinda like a dick move, if it’s their nature to be drawn to sin and away from ideal sexual union.

  206. RickKon 05 May 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Michael Egnor: “[The Anglican Church] now ordains sodomite bishops”

    Michael Egnor says “Gay men and women have always been an integral part of the [Catholic] Church.”

    When you’re a homosexual Anglican, you’re a sodomite, but when you’re a homosexual Catholic you’re merely gay.

    See how that works?

  207. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Cis-hetero-phobic Sophie:

    [So it’s okay to be gay in the church. But it’s a sin to act on it? That’s okay? A culture of repression.]

    We all have temptations to sin. The temptation itself is not a sin. Sin is act, not mere desire.

    Mastering and overcoming temptation isn’t repression. It’s integrity.

  208. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Egnor,

    You are missing the point.
    1) when straight people feel attracted to the opposite sex it’s beautiful and natural and they can get married and live a lovely catholic life in line with their desires.
    2) when LGBTQ people feel attraction they can’t do anything about it. If they want to live the old school classic catholic life they have to get married to someone they aren’t attracted to or live a life of repression

  209. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Cis-hetero-Catholic-phobic Sophie:

    [So why did god create gay people? Seems kinda like a dick move, if it’s their nature to be drawn to sin and away from ideal sexual union.]

    He created gay people because He loves them. Just like He created straight people out of love.

    Each of us has crosses to bear. I certainly have mine. The cross that gay people bear is particularly heavy. If it’s borne with holiness and integrity, it earns great graces.

    The organization of people with same-sex attraction is called Courage. It’s an apt name.

    https://couragerc.org

  210. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Ricky:

    [When you’re a homosexual Anglican, you’re a sodomite, but when you’re a homosexual Catholic you’re merely gay.]

    You’re confused.

    If you’re Christian and gay and chaste, you’re courageous and have integrity and holiness.

    If you’re Christian and gay and try to be chaste but fall at times, you’re courageous and forgiven.

    If you’re Christian and gay and are ordained a bishop and marry a man and proclaim proudly that you are engaged in gay sex, you’re a sodomite.

  211. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Catholic-phobic Sophie:

    [when LGBTQ people feel attraction they can’t do anything about it. If they want to live the old school classic catholic life they have to get married to someone they aren’t attracted to or live a life of repression]

    Same sex attraction is a heavy burden. Chastity is difficult, for everyone, gays included.

    “A life of repression” is something we all must do. Otherwise we’d weigh 1200 pounds, steal everything we wanted and commit rape on whims.

    Temptation to sin must be “repressed” in order to live with integrity.

    No one said it was easy.

  212. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 7:51 pm

    [michaelegnor] So an “age fluidity” NAMBLA activist would say (they actually do say) ‘some people are older, in terms of capacity for consent, than their chronological age.’.

    The reasoning is identical to your reasoning that ‘some people are a different gender than their sex at birth’.

    No it isn’t. It demonstrates the exact opposite.

    A neuro-typical child or adolescent is incapable of providing informed consent due to physiological limitations. These physiological/neurological traitsare objective. No second party is capable of independently diagnosing the quality of the first party’s mental acuity, particularly not a motivated individual who wants the child to offer consent. The age of consent exists for that reason. It is a floor that demarcates the age at which most individuals are cognitively capable of making complex and informed decisions.

    Gender identity is a physiological/neurological trait and is objective. Gender expectations are a social construct. Just like the age of consent, no second party observer is capable of diagnosing the alignment of an individual’s gender identity.

    In other words, in neither case is a second party capable of assessing the objective degree to which the first party physiologically deviates from the norm.

  213. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 7:54 pm

    chi:

    [A neuro-typical child or adolescent is incapable of providing informed consent due to physiological limitations.]

    “neuro-typical’ is just what NAMBLA denies. Pedophiles assert that some minors are atypical, and are capable of consent.

    And “physiological limitations’ apply to male and female sexual biology too, last I looked.

  214. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Egnor,

    This is like those 15+ times you argued that atheism is a religion in the other Jesus comment thread.

    Age of consent and gender dysphoria/identity issues are not logically related. We are all arguing that biological evidence supports the existence of transgendered people and a spectrum of sexual identities/orientations. We are also arguing that the biological evidence strongly supports that age of consent is justified.

    You are arguing that they are logically equivalent. They are not. Providing a nuanced explanation of classic ideas of genders does not mean we are endorsing the idea that a 13 year old boy is actually a man.

  215. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 8:15 pm

    [michaelegnor] Temptation to sin must be “repressed” in order to live with integrity.

    Homosexuality is a sin in your book. For everyone else with the integrity to not chain themselves to a bronze-age understanding of the human condition it’s just an everyday fact of life.

    We also dont think menstruating women are spiritually unclean, requiring a sin offering and burnt offering of turtle doves or pigeons for atonement (Leviticus 15:25-30).

  216. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Chikoppi,

    I would add that gender dysphoria is diagnosed everyday by medical health care professionals all over the world. You need to sit down with a professional to be assessed, before undergoing HRT for example. Intersex is also diagnosed at a young age, and sometimes surgically treated. Someone does make an external observation in both these cases.

  217. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 8:27 pm

    [michaelegnor] “neuro-typical’ is just what NAMBLA denies. Pedophiles assert that some minors are atypical, and are capable of consent.

    I’m sure there are are atypical cases of neurological development. I’ve certainly known some whip-smart teens and some incredibly clueless twenty-somethings. The point is that no second party is capable of objectively making that assessment.

    And “physiological limitations’ apply to male and female sexual biology too, last I looked.

    Right. And you accept that you can’t diagnose a patient’s neurological condition by examining their feet. Why do you think the various aspects of the brain that correlate to gender constructs align perfectly in all cases or that they can be diagnosed by looking at person’s genitals?

  218. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Egnor,

    Previously in this thread you said if you ever married a man it would be Milo. Earlier you defended him as well. But recently you seem to be attacking pedophiles. Milo’s casual endorsement of pedophilia is right up there, I presented the quotes and the transcript.

    Do you agree with what Milo said in that interview? Do you think what he said is accurate?

  219. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 8:48 pm

    cis-phobic Sophie:

    [Providing a nuanced explanation of classic ideas of genders does not mean we are endorsing the idea that a 13 year old boy is actually a man.]

    “Nuanced” is a euphemism for special pleading.

    The fact is that if a woman can be a man, a boy can be a man.

    NAMBLA loves trans-babble.

  220. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 8:49 pm

    chi:

    [I’ve certainly known some whip-smart teens and some incredibly clueless twenty-somethings. The point is that no second party is capable of objectively making that assessment.]

    You’re the second party who made the assessment.

    Don’t you read the things you write.

  221. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Cis-phobic Sophie:

    [Age of consent and gender dysphoria/identity issues are not logically related.]

    Of course they are.

    [We are all arguing that biological evidence supports the existence of transgendered people]

    It is true that there are men who feel like women, and vice versa.

    [and a spectrum of sexual identities/orientations.]

    Some men feel a lot like women, some feel a little like women, and some feel differently at different times. But they are still men.

    I feel like an NFL quarterback at times (in my dreams), but I’m not.

    [We are also arguing that the biological evidence strongly supports that age of consent is justified.]

    The biology of sexual differentiation is every bit as determinate as the biology of aging.

  222. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 8:55 pm

    [Do you agree with what Milo said in that interview? Do you think what he said is accurate?]

    I haven’t paid much attention to the pedophilia flap with Milo.

    He’s a provocateur, and he says all kinds of stuff.

    People who are asshats hate him, and seize on anything to destroy him.

    I have no desire to participate in, or watch, the latest Two Minute Hate.

  223. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 8:57 pm

    I have no desire to participate in, or watch, the latest Two Minute Hate.

    Too busy spewing hate from every orifice at us?

  224. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Oppressed-Sophie:

    [Too busy spewing hate from every orifice at us?]

    You must feel so bad for yourself.

  225. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Oppressed Sophie:

    Now you know how she feels:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fTQM5H0qiY

  226. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Egnor,

    “The biology of sexual differentiation is every bit as determinate as the biology of aging.”

    You are a surgeon, if you are about to operate on the brain of a 13 year old, you know a lot more about how prepare for that operation than if all you know is “female.”

    Age is also much easier to determine from objective biological measures. Gender identity is not. The existence of intersex individuals cannot be debated so let’s start there, how are you going to determine their preferences from their non-standard anatomy?

  227. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Biology-phobic Sophie:

    [Age is also much easier to determine from objective biological measures. Gender identity is not.]

    Sex and age are easy to determine from objective biological measures.

    How someone feels about their sex (or age) is a little harder– you have to ask them.

    But how someone feels about their sex or their age doesn’t make them a different sex or age.

  228. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 9:25 pm

    [chikoppi] I’ve certainly known some whip-smart teens and some incredibly clueless twenty-somethings. The point is that no second party is capable of objectively making that assessment.

    [michaelegnor] You’re the second party who made the assessment.

    Don’t you read the things you write.

    Right, my subjective and completely unqualified assessment.

    Do you think my subjective assessment as a second party is equivalent to an objective diagnosis of their actual state of neurological development? The word “objective” is right up there in the sentence you quoted.

    Don’t you read the things I write?

  229. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:31 pm

    chi:

    [Right, my subjective and completely unqualified assessment.]

    Right. I knew I took you too seriously.

    Are all of your posts subjective and completely unqualified, or just the ones you wish you hadn’t posted?

  230. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Of course he doesn’t read the things anyone writes. He repeats almost word for word arguments that have been refuted ten times. (Atheism = religion) He gets off on it.

  231. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Also, I’d like for this question to not get lost in the shuffle.

    [michaelegnor] And “physiological limitations’ apply to male and female sexual biology too, last I looked.

    [chikoppi] Right. And you accept that you can’t diagnose a patient’s neurological condition by examining their feet. Why do you think (1) the various aspects of the brain that correlate to gender constructs align perfectly in all cases or (2) that they can be diagnosed by looking at person’s genitals?

  232. edamameon 05 May 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Egnor failed biology of gender. He kept saying ‘Gender is just a word’ and got an F.

  233. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:36 pm

    chi:

    And you accept that you can’t diagnose a patient’s neurological condition by examining their feet. Why do you think (1) the various aspects of the brain that correlate to gender constructs align perfectly in all cases or (2) that they can be diagnosed by looking at person’s genitals?

    The assessment process is simple.

    1) Look at the genitals.

    2) Ask the person how they feel about their sex.

    #1 tells you what sex the person is, and #2 tells you how they feel about it.

  234. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:38 pm

    ed:

    [Egnor failed biology of gender. He kept saying ‘Gender is just a word’ and got an F.]

    You’re right. I would not do well in a Gender Studies curriculum.

    Lots of “F”‘s, and I’d be lucky to get out alive.

  235. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 9:40 pm

    I have to admit that’s kinda funny.

  236. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 9:40 pm

    You’re a grey-haired old man and you talk like a teenage boy. There’s some age relativism right there.

  237. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Sarah:

    [You’re a grey-haired old man and you talk like a teenage boy.]

    You’re right. Just because I talk like a teenaged boy, doesn’t mean I am one.

    Biology is stubborn that way. Same way with sex.

  238. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 9:46 pm

    I’m glad you acknowledge that you have no dignity. It’s okay, you’re allowed to get into fuming anger and childishly moan at random strangers on the internet as you watch the world slip away more and more~

    You realize how bad of an example you are for your religion, right? How unlike the example of Christ you are?

  239. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 9:47 pm

    [michaelegnor] Are all of your posts subjective and completely unqualified, or just the ones you wish you hadn’t posted?

    Oh, no. I wrote exactly what I meant to say and I very much doubt anyone but you had comprehension difficulties. I’ll even provide the entire context for you…

    [chikoppi] A neuro-typical child or adolescent is incapable of providing informed consent due to physiological limitations. These physiological/neurological traits are objective. No second party is capable of independently diagnosing the quality of the first party’s mental acuity, particularly not a motivated individual who wants the child to offer consent. The age of consent exists for that reason. It is a floor that demarcates the age at which most individuals are cognitively capable of making complex and informed decisions.

    Gender identity is a physiological/neurological trait and is objective. Gender expectations are a social construct. Just like the age of consent, no second party observer is capable of diagnosing the alignment of an individual’s gender identity.

    In other words, in neither case is a second party capable of assessing the objective degree to which the first party physiologically deviates from the norm.

    [michaelegmor] “neuro-typical’ is just what NAMBLA denies. Pedophiles assert that some minors are atypical, and are capable of consent.

    [chikoppi] I’m sure there are are atypical cases of neurological development. I’ve certainly known some whip-smart teens and some incredibly clueless twenty-somethings. The point is that no second party is capable of objectively making that assessment.

  240. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Not to mention a shameful inheritor of the tradition of Aquinas, of the Jesuit scholars, of the great universities the Church set up with your refusal to acknowledge the reality before you that your numerous colleagues in Academia have already cottoned to. You’re akin to a flat earther.

  241. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Sarah,

    We tried that whole Christian angle with him already, it backfired. When presented with evidence that the leader of Catholicism welcomes Anglicans, he doubled down and told us it was a conspiracy. He claimed the pope just acts nice to Anglicans, to recruit the best ones. But secretly he also hates Anglicans as much as Egnor does.

  242. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Sarah,

    Appealing to Aquinas won’t work either. He didn’t know Aquinas’ theory of ensoulment and used Aquinas to argue for souls entering the picture at conception.

    lol not trying to discourage you just saying he’s immune to reason.

  243. Sarahon 05 May 2017 at 9:58 pm

    I don’t disagree, Sophie, but it had to be said 😀

    Egnor?

    I may be a materialist, but you’re the real Godless person. You have no room in your heart for anything but selfish desire, and, should such things exist, when you stand before the Throne on the Day of Judgement, the Lord will look back on your history of vitriol, ignorance, and self-centered arrogance and demand you account for it. If you think the Jesus Christ of the Bible is going to back you up on this, if you think he’ll go “Yeah, man, you really showed those SJWs what for,” then by all means, keep going on, but if you think that the man who washed the feet of a prostitute and demanded that the sinless man cast the first stone and selflessly fed the masses and healed the sick would confront people like us with compassion and pity, then boy, I hope whichever angel is assigned to your case is an excellent lawyer.

    Quit hiding behind your false piety and be a real Christian, or embrace the selfish materialism you rail so impotently against.

    I’m done with you.

    Drops the mic and trots off stage.

  244. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 9:58 pm

    [as you watch the world slip away more and more~]

    In a world in which men are women and women are men, depending on the day of the week, the world is certainly slipping.

    [But secretly [the Pope] also hates Anglicans as much as Egnor does.]

    Not likely. No one hates Anglicans as much as I do.

    Actually, I don’t hate Anglicans per se. There are plenty of fine and holy Anglicans (friends of mine included).

    I do denounce Christian denominations who scandalously endorse manifest sin. I think it is particularly egregious because these sinful endorsements are portrayed as Christian doctrine.

  245. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 10:02 pm

    [chikoppi] Why do you think (1) the various aspects of the brain that correlate to gender constructs align perfectly in all cases or (2) that they can be diagnosed by looking at person’s genitals?

    [michaelegnor] The assessment process is simple.
    1) Look at the genitals.
    2) Ask the person how they feel about their sex.
    #1 tells you what sex the person is, and #2 tells you how they feel about it.

    So there is no neurological aspect(s) of the brain that correlates to gender? Genitals are the only difference?

  246. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Swishing-off-stage Sarah:

    [if you think that the [Christ] who washed the feet of a prostitute…]

    Jesus didn’t wash the feet of a prostitute, at least not as recorded in the NT.

    A woman washed His feet (Mt 26: 6-13, Mk 14:3-9, Lk 7:36-50, Jn 12:1-8) and He washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper (Jn 13:1-17).

    Regarding your eschatological advice, I’ll take my chances with Him.

  247. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Egnor,

    How is this Christian behavior though? To mock and insult us for saying pretty basic non-controversial things. There is no medical / scientific controversy over the existence of transgendered people.

  248. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 10:12 pm

    It’s not controversial or unchristian to argue that age on consent is something that makes sense and protects children.

  249. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Sophie:

    [To mock and insult us for saying pretty basic non-controversial things.]

    To say that men can be women and women can be men is not only ‘controversial’, it would be considered, by most people, to be delusional.

    [It’s not controversial or unchristian to argue that age on consent is something that makes sense and protects children.]

    Agreed.

    It’s also not controversial to say that if women can be men, then boys can be men, and ‘age of consent’ loses much of its salience.

  250. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 10:26 pm

    If I’m given a chance to interact with the Christian god after death, I’ll ask:
    What’s up with the starving children?
    Why did you create diseases that cause people to lose their minds?
    Why did you create parasites that blind children?

    How can you be omnipotent, omniscient and good all at the same time? Why would you allow horrible things to happen to good people? Clearly you are either powerless to stop it or just an asshole who doesn’t care. Or maybe you get off suffering. There’s no way you are all three.

    Why are people born all over the world in places without your churches? Why do non-Christian theocracies exist, for example how is someone born in Iran supposed to come to know your word? Why do babies die? Why do some people live a life of just constant suffering?

    If god exists he’s not a god I’d be proud of. He’s sick and twisted.

  251. bachfiendon 05 May 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Michael,

    You said “We all have temptations to sin. The temptation itself is not a sin. Sin is act, not mere desire”.

    Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

    Jesus is supposed to have said this in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s in ‘red’ in my copy of the Bible.

    Don’t you read the Bible (one of Martin Luther’s reforms – making the Bible available to common people in translations in the local language, instead of relying on priestly interpretations)?

    I’ll be interested in your interpretation explaining why Jesus (if he existed) appears to be stating that desire is also sin. But actually he doesn’t – he really meant that only act is sin.

  252. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Sophie:

    [If I’m given a chance to interact with the Christian god after death, I’ll ask:]

    I’ll ask the same things.

    The best discussion of the Problem of Evil that I’ve read is David Bentley Hart’s “The Doors of the Sea”. Brilliant and beautiful and changed the way I look at evil.

  253. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 11:04 pm

    During my own conversion, many years ago, I was at the bedside of a 6 year old who was dying that night of a brain tumor. I could do no more than I had done. With me was a friend who was the hospital pastor, and we walked outside of the room while the child was dying and I asked him: “How can you square this horrid thing-this death of this little boy–with the Christian God? How can God be good and allow this?”

    His answer floored me, and changed me.

    He said he himself (the pastor) had been near death when he was young, and he came to understand this about evil and about God: God offers no explanation for evil. It is not for us, in this life, to know. He merely promises–and keeps His promise–that we will never suffer alone. He knows suffering, in a personal way, and He is beside us always when we suffer. Suffering unites us to Him, and He suffers with us. Suffering, more than anything else we do, is redemptive.

    That began my conversion, and I still contemplate suffering every day.

  254. michaelegnoron 05 May 2017 at 11:08 pm

    bach:

    [Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
    … I’ll be interested in your interpretation explaining why Jesus (if he existed) appears to be stating that desire is also sin.]

    Unbidden desire, without act, isn’t sin. But to deliberately stoke desire (‘to look at a woman with lust’) is not unbidden desire, and is sinful.

    The stoking of temptation is concupiscence.

  255. chikoppion 05 May 2017 at 11:33 pm

    [michaelegnor] His answer floored me, and changed me.

    Cool story. I particularly like how it ignores the fact that God is responsible for the rules he supposedly put in place. He could have just as easily skipped the suffering part and achieved exactly the same outcome. The inclusion of suffering is a completely arbitrary choice for an omnipotent being.

    I also like how God is a mystery when convenient, but his mind can be known with inerrant certainty when making theological proclamations that magically confirm the proclaimer’s biases. God sure is a handy club. Not very useful as a tool, but it sure is easy to reach for when you need something to bludgeon other people with.

  256. Sophieon 05 May 2017 at 11:35 pm

    On Evil,

    When I was in college I had to read a giant summary of all the arguments throughout history that tried to solve the problem of evil. I was not convinced. All Christian philosophy is flawed in that it states with absolute certainty that God exists. If you start with that, you can explain anything. God is mysterious, he works on a higher dimensional level, suffering isn’t about the suffering it’s about the response of the community, etc

    This isn’t a strength of a logical system, it’s a critical structural flaw.

    The difference between an atheist and a theist is that we don’t believe there is a God, one simple change and all the Christian philosophy is meaningless and suddenly explains exactly nothing about the world around us. It can’t even explain basic concepts like simple illnesses or astronomical observations.

    If you start with no assumptions about an ultimate creator none of those solutions make any sense. There are reasons an omnipotent and omniscient god would allow evil. He’s not good, he likes to watch his creations suffer and kill each other. He loves to blind children. He wants murders to happen randomly. He love to watch the world’s billionaires hoard their riches while the poor starve.

    When you also include that he is a good and loving god, that’s when all this mental hoops have be run though. You have to use special pleading to explain things and add so many more assumptions to plug up all the holes. At the end of this process you are left with something called a “religion.” This monstrosity is filled with so many contradictions and inconsistencies that it could have only been created by humans.

    This is what Christian philosophers and creationists alike don’t understand, your systems explain nothing, they generate no useful hypotheses about the world around us and they don’t solve everyday problems.

    Meanwhile the heathen systems of logic gave us computers, vaccines, and modern medicine. Egnor literally said in the other discussion that modern metaphysics is useless and that all the real metaphysics was done by Aquinas in the 13th century.

    This is exactly the problem, for Christian thinkers everything has already been solved. Everything has been answered. They know with certainty that god is the answer so they stop looking. This is why science explains more as religion explains less. This is why the authors of the Bible knew nothing about the world just a few miles away from where they grew up. This is why it was controversial that the earth went around the sun. Because religion is not the path to truth.

    I’m not done looking. The universe is exciting and mysterious. I’m certain of almost nothing. I refuse to start with the god as the answer to all my questions.

  257. bachfiendon 05 May 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Michael,

    Could it ever be that ‘look(ing) at a woman with lustful intent’ is ever unbidden? Or that there can be degrees of lustful intent?

    Regardless – you seem to be saying that there are thought crimes. A person who has ‘lustful thoughts’ and doesn’t give in to them, is just as sinful as someone who does.

    I wonder how you’ll decide how culpable the degree of lustful intent actually is. A little is OK, but a lot is bad.

    Evolutionary biology has no problem explaining the existence of sexual desire. Individuals who are incapable of developing sexual desire for an individual of the opposite sex don’t reproduce, and their variants of the genes for sexual desire, of which there are many, don’t reproduce and die out. Even homosexuality is explicable on the basis that the female relatives of homosexuals are more fecund. Homosexual genes (there are many – there’s not just one Gay Gene) increase in the offspring of the female relatives not in the offspring of homosexuals (although there’s nothing stopping homosexuals from having children, partly to deflect societal pressure).

    What is the religious explanation for sexual desire? Oh, don’t bother. You’ll just say that it’s God’s gift to humanity and a reflection of God’s love.

  258. edamameon 06 May 2017 at 2:26 am

    egnor that is an awful answer to the problem of suffering of a child about to die of cancer.

    “You are not alone” is infinitely worse answer than “He will heal you.” What kind of moral monster would sit there letting a child suffer and die, when he could save that child? Maybe you are worshipping Satan.

    If a child is about to get hit by a car, I move her out of the way if I can. I don’t let her get hit, and assuage her parents with “She was not alone.” That is horrifying. I would be arrested.

    Christians like to talk about how they have the objective basis for morals, but wow. Their moral compass sometimes just spins around and just lands on random confabulations sometimes.

  259. BillyJoe7on 06 May 2017 at 3:00 am

    Michael Egnor,

    “I asked him: “How can you square this horrid thing-this death of this little boy–with the Christian God? How can God be good and allow this?”
    His answer floored me, and changed me.
    He said he himself (the pastor) had been near death when he was young, and he came to understand this about evil and about God: God offers no explanation for evil. It is not for us, in this life, to know. He merely promises–and keeps His promise–that we will never suffer alone. He knows suffering, in a personal way, and He is beside us always when we suffer. Suffering unites us to Him, and He suffers with us. Suffering, more than anything else we do, is redemptive”

    I don’t understand why the pastor’s response impressed you.

    You asked him how his god could possibly be a good god if he allows this evil, and he replied that his god offers no explanation for evil (“in this life”). In other words (and correct me if I am wrong), there IS an explanation for evil, but his god is not going give you the answer until you get to the afterlife.

    This is nothing like an impressive response.
    It’s more like a non-response, or an evasive response.
    There does not even have to be an explanation – just the never-fulfilled promise of one!

    Maybe it’s the second part that impressed you…

    You said that you have suffered. I assume you suffered (at least in part) alone. In a sense, everyone suffers (at least in part) alone. If you have family and friends around you, they can sympathise, and some may even empathise through similar experiences, but none of them can really understand your suffering. So, in that sense, everyone who suffers, suffers alone. Now, suddenly, you have this pastor’s god beside you, who understands your suffering as intimately as you do yourself, and who “suffers with you”, and who “unites with you in your suffering”.

    Well, I get that. Suffering alone is a bitch.

    But you could have invented anyone you like (all on your own, without any help from that pastor) to be with you in your time of need. And it didn’t need to be a god. It could have been an imaginary person. Like the pastor’s god, this imaginary person also won’t (or won’t yet) (or can’t) tell you why evil exists in the world. In this sense, this imaginary person is no different from the pastor’s god. And, being imaginary, you could give this person all the attributes you need to help you through your suffering. And there would be no baggage to carry around as with this pastor’s god.

    May I suggest that what really impressed you is that this pastor’s god promised an afterlife.

    I guess my imaginary person (yes, my story is partly autobiographical) could not possibly have done that (nor did I wish for her to do so because, for me, never-ending eternal life is a vastly more horrible prospect than the finality of death).

  260. BillyJoe7on 06 May 2017 at 3:38 am

    Michael Egnor,

    …as for the sex/gender argument:

    You accept biological sex but you reject psychological sex.
    The evidence is simply against your viewpoint, so there really is no point in arguing.

    I had known someone for just over 20 years before she confided her life story. It was a story of a life of struggle that would break your heart, and that ended only a few years ago when, as a result of an Australian Government decree, she was allowed to alter her birth certificate to show that she is a female. For four decades, she struggled to be recognised and accepted, to convince her medical specialists to prescibe hormonal treatment, and to convince them of her need for surgery. Now, after forty years, she has finally found peace.

    She did not do this on a whim. She did not spend a life time overcoming insensitivity, ignorance, intransigence, and intolerance because of a vague feeling that she is a woman in a man’s body. Her whole outlook is that of a woman. She feels completely a woman. She IS a woman. She is a woman to everyone who knows her, and everyone with whom she comes into contact (most taking this for granted because I am one of only a few to whom she has confided her story). Fortunately, she has had a partner who has supported her through the latter part of her difficult life’s journey.

    And she has not committed any damn sin.

  261. mumadaddon 06 May 2017 at 5:19 am

    “He knows suffering, in a personal way, and He is beside us always when we suffer. Suffering unites us to Him, and He suffers with us. Suffering, more than anything else we do, is redemptive.”

    So god is a Cenobite? Good to know.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cenobite_(Hellraiser)

  262. mumadaddon 06 May 2017 at 5:27 am

    Honestly, the twist ending in ‘The Usual Suspects’ is much cleverer and more gratifying than that pastor’s answer to the POE, which could only work on people who’ve already swallowed the mythology whole.

  263. RickKon 06 May 2017 at 6:38 am

    Egnor said: “He said he himself (the pastor) had been near death when he was young, and he came to understand this about evil and about God: God offers no explanation for evil. It is not for us, in this life, to know. He merely promises–and keeps His promise–that we will never suffer alone. He knows suffering, in a personal way, and He is beside us always when we suffer. Suffering unites us to Him, and He suffers with us. Suffering, more than anything else we do, is redemptive.”

    A standard and unimpressive rationalization for an unguided universe.

    And let’s not forget – God is all-knowing, and knew that little boy would suffer and die before the first light of genesis.

    Face it – people are different. Some people find solace in a comforting lie, and some don’t. But that doesn’t make it any less of a lie.

    BJ7 said: “It could have been an imaginary person. ”

    It’s human nature. I prefer the example of Wilson, from “Cast Away”.

  264. RickKon 06 May 2017 at 6:43 am

    Oh, and let’s not forget….

    If your particular comforting lie is an all-knowing God, then God knew that little boy would suffer and die before the first day of Genesis. God created that suffering with complete foreknowledge. And if you believe a perfect afterlife awaits, then it is clear that God is capable of creating happiness without suffering. He just chose not to.

    So Michael, the good pastor taught you to turn to the child’s murderer for solace. Isn’t that a form of Stockholm Syndrome?

  265. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 6:44 am

    I’m impressed. The issues you all of you raise are excellent questions about the problem of evil. They’re questions I’ve had too–every thinking person raises these issues.They have pretty good answers–not perfect answers, in this life, but there is a lot we can know.

    Explaining evil from the Catholic perspective is a long task, and I’ll try to do justice to it today in installments. Bear with me.

    The basic question is: How can God, who is omnipotent and omni-benevolent, permit evil? I will follow Thomas Aquinas’ answer, as best I can, because he gave what I and the Church think is the most rigorous and insightful answer to this.It requires a systematic treatment, so bear with me.

    First, what is it that exists? In nature, we see things–objects and living things and people and the like. What characterizes things that exist in nature are two fundamental things:

    1) Things in the natural world are composites of potency and act. These are Aristotelian terms meaning possibility and actuality. Every particular thing has something it is, and something it could be, but is not. A rock is heavy and grey and cold. It could be light (if we take it to the moon), white (if we paint it), and warm (if we heat it). A rock is a composite of potency and act. The same goes for plants, animals and people. A particular squirrel has grey fur and is fat and gathers nuts quite well. But it could be naked without fur, skinny and rather bad at gathering nuts. It is a composite of potency and act. As composites of potency and act, things in the natural world can undergo change: potency can become act. Possibility can become actuality. Change is a fundamental characteristic of nature.

    2) Things in the natural world are composites of essence and existence. This is a cornerstone of Thomistic thought. Essence is (roughly) the total description of something–its potencies and actuality. An example would be that the essence of my dog Pipa is that she’s a fat 20-pound fluffy Bichon Frise who likes treats and chews on my shoes. But Aquinas noted that the essence of a thing does not establish that it actually exists. I may or may not actually have such a dog. So in order for a real thing to be, it must be a composite of essence (be describable) and existence (it must actually exist in reality, not just in imagination.)

    Everything in the natural world is a composite in these two senses: it is a composite of potency and act, and it is a composite of essence and existence.

    What then is God…?

  266. bachfiendon 06 May 2017 at 8:40 am

    Oh Gawd, Egnor is going to inflict upon us his distorted understanding of Thomistic bullsh*t. Why doesn’t he just post it on his largely defunct ‘Egnorance’ website, and do an Ian Wardell (‘see my blog’).

    He’s tried to explain Thomism on his website many times, and even one of his more credulous acolytes Pepe wouldn’t accept it.

  267. chikoppion 06 May 2017 at 8:44 am

    What is God? A non-existant doG viewed in a mirror.

    Thermodynamics replaced “potency” and “act” as explanation for dynamic systems while you were away being impressed by pointless apologetics. Our understanding of the world is not limited to the musings of a 13th century monk any more than our understanding of human nature is limited to the superstitions of a bronze-age culture.

    All isolated thermodynamic systems trend invariably toward maximal entropy. In a thermodynamic process, the sum of the entropies of the interacting thermodynamic systems increases. How does Aquinas explain these facts?

    The answer is that he doesn’t, because he wasn’t aware of them. He explained how he conceived the world and the things it, according to his very limited understanding and his presupposed conclusion.

  268. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 9:12 am

    So what is God?

    Aquinas demonstrated that the natural world needed a Prime Mover (essentially identical to Aristotle’s argument)–a first actuality to give rise to change, that didn’t have in itself any potentiality, but was purely actual. That was Aquinas First Way to demonstrate God’s existence. His Second Way was to show the need for an uncaused cause. there must be a cause that is prior to all causes and is not itself caused by anything–to use the terms in my prior post, there must be a cause that is not a composite of essence and existence–that has its existence in itself, not from another. His Third Way was to show that there must be a Necessary Existence, that is not contingent and is not dependent on another for existence. All three together are called the cosmological proofs of God’s existence.

    So prior to nature, which is a composite of potency and act and a composite of essence and existence, there must exist Something that is Pure Act and Necessary Existence.

    This Necessary Existence has an interesting property: It (or He) must be such that His essence and His existence are not distinct but the same thing: His essence is His existence.

    In this sense, God doesn’t “exist” in the sense of being a thing in nature. God is existence Itself–His essence is indistinguishable from His existence. In creation, he confers Existence on created things.

    So when materialists say “where’s the scientific proof of God’s existence”, the answer is that God is not a thing in nature, and His existence is a logical necessary, not an empirical discovery.

    Notice that I am only talking about reason here-about logic, not faith and not revelation. God’s existence and many of His attributes can be demonstrated logically, without recourse to the Bible, etc.

    So, what are God’s attributes and how can evil exist if He is good…

  269. bachfiendon 06 May 2017 at 9:14 am

    Egnor’s understanding of philosophy comes from the theologian Ed Feser, his understanding of history comes from Rodney Stark and his understanding of current affairs comes from conservative websites and news channels.

    He’s got his work cut out convincing us he’s got a explanation for the existence of evil and suffering that’s even plausible. Let alone remotely true.

  270. bachfiendon 06 May 2017 at 9:18 am

    Michael,

    Nope, the existence of a god, any god, isn’t ‘a logical necessary’.

    Try again.

  271. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 9:30 am

    Egnor,

    Your intro to Thomistic thought reminded me of something I wrote up there already:

    You have to use special pleading to explain things and add so many more assumptions to plug up all the holes. At the end of this process you are left with something called a “religion.” This monstrosity is filled with so many contradictions and inconsistencies that it could have only been created by humans.

    Please continue. Give us all the assumptions you have to make to justify the Problem of Evil. If you ever finish, we don’t even need to use ockham’s razor to knock it all down, it will collapse under its own weight.

    What you are describing about nature is a limited 13th century human understanding. Rocks aren’t bound by your silly ideas, they are free to do whatever they want and be whatever they want. Most rocks will outlive you. On a quantum scale it’s hard to tell apart a rock from a neuron.

    “Essence” please define this. Define what it is to have it and what it’s made out of.

  272. chikoppion 06 May 2017 at 10:56 am

    I reject “potency” and “act.”

    A “thing” is a local system. “What it is” describes the present state (thermodynamic distribution) of that system. For a system to undergo change requires one of two things. Either a) the system is presently in a state of less than maximal entropy, which it will inevitably approach as energy is either radiated or achieves equalibrium, or b) energy must be introduced to the system from an external source.

    A maximally entropic closed system has no capacity for change. A closed system tends invariably toward maximal entropy.

    According to Aquinas, God is “actual” (the present state of a system) without “potential” (the capacity for change). God is therefore a maximally entropic closed system.

    Aquinas describing thermodynamics is like a toddler explaining how airplanes work.

    One of the most interesting aspects of studying the history of philosophy was to observe how each generation of thinkers constructed a logically coherent argument based on what was, for them, reasonable premises. The next generation invariably came along and demonstrated that the premises of their predecessors were either linguistically contrived, conceptually miscategorized, or observably incorrect.

    I think philosophy is useful to explore how our minds conceive and order concepts. Ultimately, that is what philosophy examines and describes. But the concept of a thing is not the thing itself and the relationship between concepts is not necessarily true of the relationship between the things those mental constructs represent.

  273. Jasonon 06 May 2017 at 11:30 am

    Sophie you’re sexually deviant? That explains a lot. You might not be intelligent enough to know the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia but based on evidence you gratuitously revealed on the cryo thread you’re probably pretty hot. My advice: get a man, get pregnant and stay home. You’d be a lot happier.

  274. praktikon 06 May 2017 at 11:49 am

    No jason – she did not say she was sexually deviant, that was just the insulting way you chose to describe her.

  275. praktikon 06 May 2017 at 11:50 am

    Can we try to be nice to each other – at least?

    I don’t find Jason’s latest comment all that conducive to a worthwhile conversation.

  276. BillyJoe7on 06 May 2017 at 11:51 am

    Steven Novella,

    In order to avoid a downward spiral in hostilities may I appeal to you to consider censoring the above comment and issuing a warning to its author.

  277. praktikon 06 May 2017 at 11:52 am

    I would back that up for sure – what a classless way to conduct oneself

  278. BillyJoe7on 06 May 2017 at 11:53 am

    …just to add that “Jason” is “Atlantic Idol”.

  279. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Haha I’m okay. I’m not made of glass. Jason’s just mad because all those girls on twitch just sit there and play the same games he plays but they get paid. G

  280. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I would prefer that the comment by “Jason on 06 May 2017 at 11:30 am”[1] remains uncensored because it speaks volumes about its author.

    A reply to it from Dr Novella is, I think, in order.

    [1] http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/free-speech-bias/#comment-310106

  281. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Jason,

    Sophie you’re sexually deviant? That explains a lot. You might not be intelligent enough to know the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia but based on evidence you gratuitously revealed on the cryo thread you’re probably pretty hot. My advice: get a man, get pregnant and stay home. You’d be a lot happier.

    1) You are defending Milo’s words on the topic, I’m not.

    2) therefore if anyone here doesn’t understand healthy interactions between consenting adults, it has to be you.

    3)I explained the problems with your reasoning, I’m awaiting an intelligent reply to:
    a) your dishonest defense of “boy” meaning “adult,” meanwhile Milo said “13 year old.”
    b) how age of consent makes sense
    c) physical maturity of genitals does not automatically enable a child to understand and appreciate the consequences of sex. Especially how vulnerable they are to predators.
    d) how a priest is entrusted with a child and like anyone in a position of authority it is illegal for them to engage in sexual contact of a minor. Even in places where the age of consent is not the age of majority, where someone can consent to sex at age 16, they cannot consent to sex with a guardian or someone in a position of authority over them. This is exploitative contact and you need to be an adult 21 or 18 to consent to exploitation.

    You failed to reply to my arguments. Own it. Don’t hide behind more insults. Let’s do battle. Or is it because my cuteness is terrifying?

  282. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 1:25 pm

    chi:

    [I reject “potency” and “act.”… God is therefore a maximally entropic closed system.]

    Oops. No. No. No.

    I would fail a Gender Studies class. You’d fail a Metaphysics class.

    God is not a system, God is not closed, God is not entropic.

    God is not a thing.

    All of our talk about God is by analogy to created things. As He is in Himself is metaphysically simple. He is not composed of parts, and no boundaries, and cannot have entropy.

    Now, back to our discussion.

    What are God’s attributes (speaking by analogy, of course)? In Summa Contra Gentiles (Book 1, ch 14-102), St. Thomas reasons out God’s attributes. Thomas points out that Being (existence) in a transcendental, meaning that it is a term above all categories, and it applies to everything that exists. Other transcendental terms include truth and goodness. Truth and goodness have, in scholastic metaphysics, quite specific definitions. Truth refers to the degree of correspondence between a thing and the ideal essence it embodies. For example, a true triangle is a triangle that is perfect–has three perfectly straight sides with interior angles adding to exactly 180 degrees. Now of course, no triangle in the real world is perfect, so no triangle is perfectly true. All real real triangles have slightly curved sides and angles that don’t measure exactly to 180 (if you look closely enough). So no triangle is perfectly true. But some triangles are truer than others.

    The same applies to good. Some triangles are quite good, in the sense that they approximate perfection. Some not so good.

    This leads to Aquinas’ central concept of the interconvertability of transcendentals. When you look closely enough, being is the same thing as truth and the same thing as good. These terms refer to the same thing, understood under a different aspect. Frege (a leading philosopher) said that the transcendentals differ in sense but not in reference.

    God’s essence, as we noted, is His existence, so his essence is Being. Since he is pure actuality, he is perfect, so His essence is also Truth and Goodness. Given that he is perfect Goodness, he cannot do or create evil.

    So what is evil, and how can it exist, if God can’t create it?…

  283. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Do not question god. 🙂

    Check out the book of Job in the Bible. Even if you read it before, it’s a fun book to reread, or at least see the summary. God and Satan literally play a game with a human life.

    At the end after the trials, the suffering Job endures, and all the earthly explanations, God himself appears and speaks:

    Job 38 – Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…
    Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb…
    Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?
    Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
    Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?
    Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?

    Couple quick things: god didn’t actually say any of this because it’s all wrong, even if he did exist he wouldn’t make all these mistakes as an omniscient being. It’s all based on early Jewish cosmology where the sky was literally filled with water, snow and hail were stored for later use. This is where “he separated the waters above and bel” thing comes from. Early Jewish cosmology has literal seas of water above the earth, high up in the sky, when it rains these floodgates open and let water pour out.

    That’s what rain was in their system, when God here is making reference to shutting water in with doors, he means literal doors in the sky and ocean. Since we now understand how rain clouds form and what rain really is, I guess god was wrong? Or this story is made up by a pre-scientific culture? You theists decided which one it is.

    Later on is where God really loses it:

    Job 40: Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like this? …
    Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron.

    Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord?

    Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.

    So there you have it, god created and has control over two giant terrifying mythical beasts. Behemoth and leviathan. Therefore just shut up and listen. Don’t question him. He is god.

    The answer for the problem of evil, from God’s own mouth is basically:
    “shut up, I will ruin your life if you question me. I should be listened to because I’m omnipotent. I don’t have to answer your questions because you are not all knowing and all powerful like I am. You are an ant to me. Let me show you how amazing I am.”

    Really God?
    You don’t even know how precipitation works. You think hail and snow are held in storehouses in the sky. None of your most faithful prophets knew anything about the nature of the world. All you had to do, to show off your great knowledge was have one of these pre-scientific authors take down your notes as you told them all about the americas. Or how the sun doesn’t actually go around the earth it only appears that way.

  284. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 1:41 pm

    What is evil?

    St. Thomas observed that when you look carefully at badness, it is really only ever the lack of good. Badness doesn’t have existence in itself. It is merely a (relative) lack of good.

    A bad triangle is a sloppily drawn triangle, and it is bad to the extent that it falls short of a good (perfect) triangle. A bad squirrel is a squirrel that is imperfect–it may be missing a tail, or be incompetent at gathering nuts.

    Evil is moral badness, and it is also a privation, of moral goodness. Evil is the (relative) absence of goodness, not a thing in itself. In this sense evil doesn’t exist, per se. What exists is imperfect goodness. To the degree it is imperfect we say it is evil.

    So God doesn’t “create” evil, because God only creates what exists, and evil has no independent existence. What God does create is a world in which evil (imperfect goodness) is possible. Why, you ask, does He do this? Why doesn’t he create a perfect world, without the capacity for imperfection?

    The answer is that only God Himself is perfect, so anything He creates must of necessity be less perfect than He is (otherwise He would just be creating Himself, which is nonsensical). So creation of necessity has evil, to some degree, because it is creation, which necessarily entails privation of goodness.

    Evil is a necessary aspect of any created world. God didn’t create the evil itself. He created a good world, but any created world has, by definition, the capacity for imperfection, which is the capacity for evil.

    That is how an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God can create a world with evil. Evil is a necessary part of a created world, but the evil is not a created thing.

  285. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 1:41 pm

    “[Dr Michael Egnor on 06 May 2017 at 6:44 am] So in order for a real thing to be, it must be a composite of essence (be describable) and existence (it must actually exist in reality, not just in imagination.)”

    Precisely!

    “[Dr Michael Egnor on 06 May 2017 at 1:25 pm] God is not a thing.”

    Precisely!

  286. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Egnor,

    God is not a system, God is not closed, God is not entropic. God is not a thing. All of our talk about God is by analogy to created things. As He is in Himself is metaphysically simple. He is not composed of parts, and no boundaries, and cannot have entropy.

    Okay just one question:
    How can this God interact with the world?

    Explain to me how you can act on a thermodynamic system without possessing any actual qualities that would enable you to do so?

    The Venn diagram of the universe and this God, are two separate unconnected circles.

    You painted yourself into a corner by defining God is that way. It’s certainly not even the Catholic God, because he interacts with the world everyday right? To save drowning children and such, right? How can a non-thing, save a thing?

  287. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 1:44 pm

    PeteA:

    All talk of God is by analogy. We can speak of God by analogy to a thing, but He is not a thing. The use of terms like composite and essence and existence are terms appropriate to created (potency/act and essence/existence and matter/form) things, and we by analogy apply them to God, who is metaphysically simple and indescribable unless we use analogies.

  288. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 1:47 pm

    There is such a thing as bad knowledge. Bad logical systems. Bad arguments. You can master a system of completely fictional metaphysics. And Egnor you aren’t even competent with Aquinas, as has been demonstrated many times. But it’s possible that all of Aquinas’ arguments are wrong. In the same way you assume modern metaphysics is wrong. Is it not possible Aquinas is wrong?

    Sweetie, the things we now know about causality would give Aquinas nightmares.

  289. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 1:49 pm

    The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense:
    http://crispian-jago.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-venn-diagram-of-irrational-nonsense.html

  290. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 1:52 pm

    “All talk of God is by analogy.”

    All talk of God by allegory.

  291. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Sophie:

    [How can this God interact with the world?]

    Very smart question, and it’s one I have struggled with for 20 years.

    Of all the issues involving God and metaphysics, this is the one that has always bothered me the most. It has been treated by some philosophers, but not as much as I would have expected, I’ve never seen a perfectly adequate solution.

    How does a perfect metaphysically simple Pure Act/First Cause/Necessary Existence interact with a world of potency and contingency? How does Perfection interact with imperfection? It would seem that any interaction with imperfection would render Perfection imperfect.

    Aristotle seemed to have a problem with this as well, because he understood God as disinterested in creation and served only as an ultimate Final Cause that drew all things to himself. The demiurge, who was not God, did all the dirty work in dealing with the created world. This theme kept reappearing in various gnostic heresies in the first millennium–that all the lesser stuff (and evil stuff) was handled by a lesser god, and God himself kept apart from such things.

    The only answer I’ve come across that seems to shed light on this is the one I noted above. Any created world must be imperfect, because if it were perfect, it would be God Himself. So if God is to create, he must of necessity interact with imperfection.

    This would be deemed a mystery, if one wanted a rigorous satisfying answer. I’m ok with the view (which I think is correct) that perfection dealing with imperfection is a necessary aspect of creation.

    But it’s a very good question, and one that has always troubled me.

  292. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Sophie:

    [Sweetie, the things we now know about causality would give Aquinas nightmares.]

    Actually, the modern quantum mechanical view of causality is a remarkable confirmation of Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics. It is the mechanical causality of Descartes and Newton that is in disrepute.

    Heisenberg saw this and wrote about it:

    https://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/09/feser_on_heisenberg_on_act_and/

  293. Steve Crosson 06 May 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Shorter Egnor:

    There absolutely MUST be magic, because we (and everything else) have to come from somewhere, right ???

    OTOH, I’ve got no freakin idea HOW that magic could possibly work, nor have I ever seen or been able to present any actual evidence that the magic is anything other than the product of imagination and wishful thinking.

  294. michaelegnoron 06 May 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Sophie:

    [Is it not possible Aquinas is wrong?]

    Sure. I think he was wrong about the Ontological Argument. He dismissed it, but I think it’s a valid argument.

    But on the metaphysics and theology I think he was pretty much on target. I’ve never seen a convincing refutation of any of his major metaphysical positions.

  295. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Egnor,

    The demiurge, who was not God, did all the dirty work in dealing with the created world. This theme kept reappearing in various gnostic heresies in the first millennium–that all the lesser stuff (and evil stuff) was handled by a lesser god, and God himself kept apart from such things.

    This is my exact point, you need to add more assumptions every step of the way. This is how you get the hierarchical structure of angels, archangels, seraphim and others.

    You keep tossing in more than more (equally irrational) details to justify the last thing you just finished explaining.

    God is immune to all your arguments because he’s immaterial, and not a thing. How does he interact with the very physical world? Um well he can’t personally do it himself, therefore he has these assistants that do it for him. How do these assistants supernaturally influence the world? Um well you see they enter people’s dreams and give them visions. They impregnate virgins. And do other miraculous things.

    This is the first problem!! How does god interact with the world?! If god’s assistants can influence the world and break the laws of physics, why can’t he?

    Also how exactly do these angel’s impregnate virgins? How does a magical being accomplish this? What physical laws do they use to interact with an ovum?

  296. Steve Crosson 06 May 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Egnor:

    But on the metaphysics and theology I think he [Aquinas] was pretty much on target. I’ve never seen a convincing refutation of any of his major metaphysical positions.

    Umm … the mere fact that a (large) majority of professional philosophers (by definition, the people most likely to understand and appreciate TA’s “logic”) do NOT agree with his conclusions is a pretty strong indication that his arguments were not very good to begin with. Bad arguments are self-refuting.

  297. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Egnor,

    “I’ve never seen a convincing refutation of any of his major metaphysical positions.”

    Yes. I believe that. 100%. But why? I think it’s because you haven’t read anything other than Christian theologians and authors. You’ve literally said that modern metaphysics is trash and written to lead souls away from God.

  298. chikoppion 06 May 2017 at 3:37 pm

    [michaelegnor] God is not a thing.

    Finally!

    As He is in Himself is metaphysically simple. He is not composed of parts, and no boundaries, and cannot have entropy.

    And…right back to la-la-land.

    “Potency” and “act” refer to specific concepts. When Aquinas regards these concepts he recognizes that they are incomplete or unsatisfactory in some way (they are). So what does he do? Does he consider that maybe the concepts themselves are errant? No. He invents a new thing to excuse the inconsistency.

    This parallels what Einstein called his greatest blunder. He had an elegant theory that described the universe, but in order to be logically consistent that theory required the invention of the cosmological constant (it was a “necessary ontological entity”). Turns out the concepts that formed his premise were wrong. The inconsistency he recognized should have been a clue that he needed to update his mental model, instead he fell into the same trap Aquinas does.

    In other words, God is not a necessary conclusion because it is not necessary to defend the concepts that God exists to excuse. God is Aquinas’ cosmological constant.

    Do fields exist? Well, something we refer to as fields exists. Are they timeless? Don’t know. Do they extend beyond the universe? Don’t know. Are they aspects of a unified substance? Don’t know. Are they “metaphysically simple” or are they composed of something else? Don’t know. We can’t “reason” our way to the underlying metaphysical reality because there is no way to know if our conceptual model is correct.

  299. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Did Heisenberg really support Aristotle’s ideas?

    Egnor I notice that you and Feser both cut Werner Heisenberg’s words off short. You personally never went and looked up what is actually written in Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosphy. Its really obvious because the title of the book doesn’t appear in the article you wrote, duh nice referencing moron. And Feser likely searched the internet for all mentions of “Aristotle” in famous scientist’s work. To build an argument from authority to support his garbage. Like a truly fraudulent intellectual.

    So what did Heisenberg actually say?

    Well he really did say that Aristotle’s “potentia” can be used to describe things in QM. Here’s the part right after the quote you cherry picked (AKA: the end of the paragraph):

    The language has already adjusted itself, at least to some extent, to this true situation. But it is not a precise language in which one could use the normal logical patterns; it is a language that produces pictures in our mind, but together with them the notion that the pictures have only a vague connection with reality, that they represent only a tendency toward reality.

    Heisenberg is only talking how physicists changed their perceptions about electron orbits from being literal realities to being a kind of “potentia.” Here he isn’t directly supporting the ideas purposed by Aristotle. He is just saying with the birth of quantum mechanics, physicists had to change their thinking and accept orbits for their potential-statistical-nature not classical-physical-reality. The sections before and after this part are about how QM needed a different language and how various attempts to establishing a type of logic that would adequately describe everything had failed. “Potentia” was simply something that could be pointed to as an example.

    I was going to do the rest of the quotes. But I figured no one actually reads this. If you want to find it yourself google his book title there are free PDF versions online and just search for the quotes.

    Feser’ argument falls apart with the last quote where Heisenberg says that “potentia” should be compared to “energy which gets into “actuality” by means of the form, when the particle is created.” Problem is energy isn’t Aristotle’s “potentia.” Energy is very real, physical and observable, is also tends to flow one way and follow strict laws.

  300. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Heisenberg certainly didn’t do our argument any favors by mentioning Aristotle. But if you examine the ultimate ideas about “potentia” you see that Aristotle is making teleological claims about the world. Where things are moving towards an idea goal or purpose. Energy can’t be this “potentia” because energy always trends towards entropy. With the ulitmate heat death of the universe implications. Energy is also “lost” as heat along the way in most reactions or processes. No where in Aristotle’s writing does he mention these things that every physicist takes for granted today.

  301. bachfiendon 06 May 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Michael,

    When Sophie was musing about the existence of evil and suffering in the world, and rhetorically considered the answers the Christian God could possibly give if asked in the afterlife, you replied ‘I’ll ask the same things’. How can you ask a ‘not a thing’?

    You seem to be perfectly happy thinking of your God in allegorical or analogical terms when it suits you to be vague, and in very concrete terms when you attempt to frighten with your version of Pascal’s wager.

    Your arguments exist merely to convince just yourself. The easiest person to fool is yourself.

  302. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 5:04 pm

    The easiest person to fool is yourself:
    http://skepdic.com/confirmbias.html

  303. chikoppion 06 May 2017 at 5:10 pm

    [michaelegnor] A bad triangle is a sloppily drawn triangle, and it is bad to the extent that it falls short of a good (perfect) triangle. A bad squirrel is a squirrel that is imperfect–it may be missing a tail, or be incompetent at gathering nuts.

    This is worth appreciating. A “bad squirrel” is one that is missing a tail. What about a squirrel born with six toes on one foot? Bad? Or Extra good? What about a shape with four unequal sides? Bad triangle? Or awesome trapezoid?

    The concept is not the thing. The concept is an abstraction, a mental model, of the perceived properties of things. The actual thing(s) precede the concept. The degree to which an individual squirrel deviates from your mental model of “squirrelishness” doesn’t make it bad or good. It simply serves as a data point with which to evaluate the appropriateness of your model. The model represents an abstraction of real objects, not the other way round.

  304. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 5:32 pm

    chikoppi,

    Egnor and his Discovery Institute ilk wilfully deny and/or obfuscate the normal distribution[1], and various forms of bi-modal and multi-modal distributions[2].

    [1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution
    [2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimodal_distribution

  305. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Does anyone else find it weird that these creationists obsessively focus on 13th century arguments?

    Especially considering the Catholic Church has moved on and no longer holds onto many of these ideas?

    Did they just get stuck somewhere?

    Wouldn’t it be fun to make new arguments? You could get so many new fans and your own brand if you just made new logically sound arguments.

  306. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Perfect vs messy triangles. Good and bad squirrels, this is Plato’s theory of forms, which Aristotle criticized.

  307. Pete Aon 06 May 2017 at 6:10 pm

    “Does anyone else find it weird that these creationists obsessively focus on 13th century arguments?”

    weird [adjective]: suggesting something supernatural; unearthly.

    It is also par for the course: If a type of behaviour, event, or situation is par for the course, it is not good but it is normal or as you would expect. — Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus.

  308. RickKon 06 May 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Sophie: “Does anyone else find it weird that these creationists obsessively focus on 13th century arguments?”

    Said it before – it’s because Michael can only accept an Egnor-centric universe. So he must rely on philosophers that believed humanity was at the center of the universe. Of course Aristotle and Aquinas assumed teleology – because they didn’t see an immense, lifeless universe in which we play an insignificant part. That Earth’s life is a happy little accident, an enormously improbable event that occurred in an inconceivably enormous universe, was something Michael’s philosophers never considered, and something Michael’s ego can’t accept.

    Using Aristotle or Aquinas to explain the universe is as pointless as using Hippocrates to explain neurology.

  309. mumadaddon 06 May 2017 at 8:10 pm

    “God’s essence, as we noted, is His existence, so his essence is Being. Since he is pure actuality, he is perfect, so His essence is also Truth and Goodness. Given that he is perfect Goodness, he cannot do or create evil.”

    This is star trek technobabble in a 16th century holodeck steampunk simulation. Out go the dythium crystals making the starship fly, in comes the god making essence into goodness. It’s magical nonsense.

  310. Steve Crosson 06 May 2017 at 8:19 pm

    “Does anyone else find it weird that these creationists obsessively focus on 13th century arguments?

    When you’re picking cherries, you pretty much have to look in the places they are growing.

    It is no coincidence that there really aren’t many ( any ??) modern logical arguments for the existence of a deity. In the centuries after Aquinas, the rules of formal logic were significantly developed and became much more sophisticated. To the point where TA’s quaint “proofs” are transparently circular and just silly.

    As a result, modern creationists have to resort to questioning (and misunderstanding) science. Although Egnor tries to do that on occasion, he seems to be emotionally attached to the old school. Perhaps because the (heavily sublimated) scientist within him knows that the actual scientific evidence is strongly against his position.

    Therefore, as the poster child for motivated reasoning, Egnor has to get his “supporting evidence” somewhere — what other choice does he have than the past?

  311. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 8:31 pm

    When I was in college we had this prof who was like a Christian philosopher. Apologist. He had all sorts of different arguments for God’s existence and I don’t ever really remember him relying on Aquinas this much. But when I checked out Egnor’s blog, creationism and intelligent design subteddits and blogs. It’s like all over the place “third way” “thomism.” I think it’s a stagnation within this creationism ID movement. It’s not a good sign IMO

  312. Steve Crosson 06 May 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Sophie,

    The stagnation you mention is literally just “God of the Gaps” but the gaps keep getting smaller and smaller.

    With no science to back them up, and no “Sophisticated Theology” able to withstand genuine logic, all they have left is enough motivated reasoning to convince themselves that “the old reasons are the best reasons”.

  313. bachfiendon 06 May 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Egnor believes that God is a perfect being, and perfect beings are incapable of producing perfect worlds.

    But wouldn’t a being capable of producing perfect worlds be a more perfect being than one that was only capable of producing worlds that are less perfect?

    Even if a perfect being is only capable of producing imperfect worlds, wouldn’t an omnipotent and omnibenificent being intervene to prevent the2004 Indian Ocean tsunami? Or the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which struck on All Saints’ Day when the devout were in prayer in the cathedrals?

    Egnor believes his God intervenes to produce ‘miracles’, for example at Lourdes. Miracles which are indistinguishable from spontaneous remissions or misdiagnoses.

    God is doing a very good job of hiding.

  314. BillyJoe7on 06 May 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Miracles at Lourdes.

    It has been estimated that 200 million people have visited Lourdes.
    There have been 69 “confirmed miracles”.
    Assuming that for each person going to Lourdes to be cured, there are 30 that go there other reasons…
    …the estimated “miracle rate” is therefore 1 in 100,000.
    The estimated spontaneous cure rate is estimated to be about 1 in 100,000.

    But even aside from this…why is god so stingy?
    And why is he so selective?
    Why not miracles to restore amputated limbs or blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa?

    Also, I have never been able to find a reference to details of these 69 miracles and the decision process they went through to confirm that they are miracles.

  315. RickKon 06 May 2017 at 11:20 pm

    BJ7 – I’m sure it was the standard, highly skeptical investigators that vet the miracle claims for canonization. You know – the Vatican has their own team full of Harry Houdinis and James Randis who put on their herringbone deerstalkers, polish their magnifying glasses, and debunk millions of claims to find examples that could only be due to the breaking of natural laws by the intervention of an all-powerful being. And we’ve all seen how effective the Vatican is at hard-hitting investigation *cough* Spotlight *cough*.

  316. BillyJoe7on 06 May 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Michael Egnor,

    “God’s essence, as we noted, is His existence, so his essence is Being. Since he is pure actuality, he is perfect, so His essence is also Truth and Goodness. Given that he is perfect Goodness, he cannot do or create evil.”

    To you this sounds convincing.
    To the rest of us it sounds like what has been referrred to derisively as “Sophisticate Theology”.
    It is just nonsense to us.

    Well, it’s just nonsense, period.

    You had to carefully define “essence”, “existence”, “being”, “actuality”, “potentiality”, “truth”, “good”, and “evil” and spin them all together to force your argument to work out in your favour. Any flaw – and there are many of them already pointed out above – and you argument collapses.

    As an example, your defintion of “evil” is that “evil is the absence of good”. Therefore your god does not create evil. He creates “good imperfectly realised”. That’s a just a little bit cute don’t you think? Especially when you then you squibb on how your perfect god could create “good imperfectly realised”.

    But I could equally legitimately say that “good is the absence of evil”. So, in this case, god creates evil and now “good” is the result of “evil imperfectly realised”. In fact, that defintion has whole lot more going for it as evidenced by all the evil in the world!

  317. Sophieon 06 May 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Maybe we should make good arguments for Egnor.

  318. BillyJoe7on 07 May 2017 at 1:31 am

    PeteA,

    Yes, having witnessed Sophie’s emasculation of this sexist, misogynistic, chauvinistic piglet, I have to agree. Let that comment stand as testimony to his decrepitude.
    I withdraw my appeal.

  319. BillyJoe7on 07 May 2017 at 1:59 am

    Michael Egnor,

    “How can this God interact with the world?
    Very smart question, and it’s one I have struggled with for 20 years.
    I’ve never seen a perfectly adequate solution.
    How does Perfection interact with imperfection?
    It would seem that any interaction with imperfection would render Perfection imperfect”

    Questions, questions, questions!
    And the answer….

    “The only answer I’ve come across…Any created world must be imperfect, because if it were perfect, it would be God Himself. So if God is to create, he must of necessity interact with imperfection”

    God OF NECESSITY interacts with imperfection!

    How can this possibly be a satisfying answer
    How is this even an interesting answer?
    How is it an answer at all?

    Question: How can a perfect being interact with an imperfect world?
    Answer: Well he just has to!

    And the whole argument collapses.

  320. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 6:48 am

    Two other thoughts on the problem of evil:

    1) The afterlife is eternal, and this life is finite. So our suffering in this life, no matter how horrible it is to us now, is vanishingly small compared to our eternal fate–be it bliss or otherwise. We are eternal creatures, and is how we deal with suffering in this brief oral life that really matters.

    2) Evil is a much bigger problem for atheism than it is for Christianity. If atheism is true, then there is no transcendent objective moral law (there is no transcendent Law-Giver), so there is no real “evil”. There are just things that we as individuals like or don’t like.So what exactly is “evil” about an atheist’s neighbor’ child dying of cancer? If Darwinism is true, the atheist’s competitor is losing his genetic posterity. For the atheist it’s a win, Darwin-wise.

    Christians struggle with evil. Atheists have a bigger problem: atheism as a metaphysical perspective denies evil as a meaningful concept.

  321. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 6:49 am

    “… and it is how we deal with suffering in this brief mortal life that really matters.”

    Haven’t had coffee yet.

  322. Ian Wardellon 07 May 2017 at 6:51 am

    Here’s what I wrote on my blog about whether suffering is compatible with some higher purpose.

    If it’s considered that suffering is incompatible with some higher purpose to our existence, then what would the world have to be like so that it is compatible with some higher purpose? Perhaps if no one ever experienced any pain; not just physical but mental pain too? And no one ever experienced misery, least of all depression? Indeed, that our lives are in a constant state of maximum happiness?

    And what would such happiness consist in? Pleasures? Or the feeling like you had as a child when you woke up on a Christmas day morning? Or if you were in a permanent state of a certain type of intellectual satisfaction?

    Obviously that’s silly. But perhaps people mean there’s too much suffering — not that we shouldn’t have any suffering at all. But how do we work out how much suffering would be compatible with some higher purpose?

    I think arguably suffering, pain, anguish, despair, loss of a loved one etc, could conceivably be held to be compatible with some higher purpose. For much of history, mankind lived a life full of dangers with the constant threat of death, and suffering, and loss. Close brushes with death from predators with the consequent comradeship and camaraderie when others save your life, and you theirs. The collective outpouring of emotions, the bitter and sweet taste of life in the raw.

    In the modern west we are cosseted from all the harsh elements of life. I’ll probably die an old man rather than get eaten by a predator. But perhaps, safe and rich as we are, the modern western way of life loses something. It loses the sheer rapture of being alive. If we never experience any dangers, then the sheer thrill of having overcome dangers is also lacking.

    So it’s not clear to me that suffering is necessarily incompatible with some higher purpose. The problem here is we don’t know what the purpose of life is! Hence I think it’s impossible to answer such a question.

    Maybe it is, but until we know what the purpose of life is, why we are here, how can we say what the nature of our lives should be like?

  323. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 6:55 am

    bach:

    [But wouldn’t a being capable of producing perfect worlds be a more perfect being than one that was only capable of producing worlds that are less perfect?]

    Same question as “if God is omnipotent, why can’t he make a rock so big that He can’t move it.”

    Such questions do not name actual dilemmas. They are merely linguistic errors, and don’t rise to actual metaphysical issues.

    God is perfect, in the sense of being pure act. Thus, if He created perfection, He would self-create. But self-creation is nonsensical, linguistically and logically.

    Nonsensical arguments aren’t metaphysical arguments.

  324. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 6:58 am

    Ian,

    I agree. To see suffering as wholly bad is to have a very narrow view of the meaning of human life, as if the meaning were merely temporal enjoyment.

    Suffering implies that there is a deeper meaning to life, and in my view it implies that we are eternal creatures being molded in this life for the life that will come.

  325. bachfiendon 07 May 2017 at 7:41 am

    Michael,

    You’re producing gibberish yet again. A creator producing a perfect creation isn’t creating itself. A perfect watchmaker producing a perfect watch isn’t producing himself.

    And you’ve ignored the second question. Even if your God is incapable of producing a perfect world, why couldn’t he have intervened to prevent the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami which killed large numbers of devout believers praying in the cathedral on All Saints’ Day? When he’s perfectly capable, according to you, of producing occasional miracles, explicable as spontaneous remissions of tumours or misdiagnoses?

    Atheists don’t have any problem with evil and suffering on this world in the absence of a delusional afterlife. Earthquakes and tsunamis are just an inevitable consequence of living on a planet with tectonic plates and oceans (perhaps both are necessary for Life to arise on planets?).

    And evil, if caused by the culpable action of individuals, have to be sought and punished in this life, not in a delusional afterlife.

    And humans, being evolutionarily social animals, are concerned with the wellbeing of fellow humans. There’s no benefit, unless you’re a psychopath (and sometimes I wonder about you…) wishing or hoping for harm to be inflicted on others.

    How can the delusional afterlife be eternal? I thought that according to Sophisticated Theology (TM), God was out of time. 2 Peter 3:8 ‘with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’ (partly to explain why the Second Coming, promised to happen very soon, hasn’t happened after almost 2,000 years).

    And anyway, what’s so great living forever in a perfect afterlife, even if it were true? Sounds rather boring.

  326. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 10:15 am

    bach:

    [A creator producing a perfect creation isn’t creating itself. A perfect watchmaker producing a perfect watch isn’t producing himself.]

    You misunderstand what it meant by “perfection”. Perfection, in this metaphysical sense, is pure act, without admixture of potency. No watch, and no created thing, is pure act. It may be a damn good watch, but it is not perfection itself, in the same way God is Existence/Goodness/Truth itself.

    Creation is inherently imperfect, inherently not pure act. In addition, creation, besides being a composite of act and potency, is a composite of essence and existence. Which God is not. He is not composite. He is metaphysically simple.

    [Even if your God is incapable of producing a perfect world, why couldn’t he have intervened to prevent the 1755 Lisbon earthquake…]

    A very good question. All I demonstrated is that creation inherently entails evil, understood as privation of good. What has not been demonstrated–and what is the real problem of evil– is why evil is distributed the way it is. The world is inherently fallen, but does the fall have to entail innocent children with cancer, or good people with rotten luck, or earthquakes while people are in church like in Lisbon?

    I have no logical answer for the distribution of evil. Evil is inherent to creation, but why evil afflicts some people so horribly and let’s others got off easily is a mystery to me, and to anyone I think.

    The way I see it is that we don’t understand the distribution of evil because we don’t fully understand that suffering is redemptive. Suffering is part of the purpose of life, since the Fall (as the author of Genesis says, that man will only eat by the sweat of his brow and woman will labor in pain). It is basic Christian spirituality to embrace suffering, as a blessing, and a way to unite with Christ.

    I wish there were an easier way to unite with the Lord (I’m no fan of suffering), but I didn’t make the rules.

  327. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 10:20 am

    bach:

    [And humans, being evolutionarily social animals, are concerned with the wellbeing of fellow humans. There’s no benefit, unless you’re a psychopath (and sometimes I wonder about you…) wishing or hoping for harm to be inflicted on others.]

    Humans are social, except when they’re not. Survival of the fittest, except for survival of those who sacrifice for others. All hand-waving Darwinian gibberish.

    If atheism is true, there is no transcendant standard of good and evil. There are only opinions of individuals, and if Darwinism is true, then your neighbor’s kid with cancer is a home run for you.

    But we all empathize with our neighbors and strangers when horrible things happen to them, even though from a Darwinian perspective we should celebrate.

    Just one more reason that Darwinism is bullsh*t.

  328. BillyJoe7on 07 May 2017 at 10:40 am

    ME,

    “God is perfect, in the sense of being pure act. Thus, if He created perfection, He would self-create. But self-creation is nonsensical, linguistically and logically”

    None of this follows.

    If God created perfection why does that necessarily mean he would have created himself?
    Is that because only God is perfect and, therefore, if he created perfection he would have to be creating himself?
    But why can only God be perfect?
    Why can’t a perfect God create a perfect watch as Bachfiend suggested above?
    And why could he not create himself? He could create a million replicas of himself if he wanted. What’s to stop him from doing that? It would make his work a whole lot easier.
    And why is self-creation necessarily nonsensical?
    You said God is metaphysically simple, right? So, to create God should be easy for God to accomplish.

    “The afterlife is eternal, and this life is finite. So our suffering in this life, no matter how horrible it is to us now, is vanishing small compared to our eternal fate”

    You think that living forever is not the scariest thought ever.
    That could only be because of a failure of imagination.
    Imagine – I mean REALLY imagine – living through a trillion trillion trillion years and still you’ve not even started yet. And that’s only the beginning – you now have to imagine it never, ever, ever ending.
    It’s enough to give you the night terrors.

  329. chikoppion 07 May 2017 at 10:45 am

    Oh, the sheer tonnage of garbage necessary to insulate this position!

    [michaelegnor] atheism is true, there is no transcendant standard of good and evil. There are only opinions of individuals, and if Darwinism is true, then your neighbor’s kid with cancer is a home run for you.

    No. There is no “transcendent” standard of good and evil.

    There is, however, an objective measure of harm. In a given situation the choices of a person cause more or less harm and deprivation to themselves or others. You understand harm, right? Getting hit in the face is less preferable than not getting hit? Having sufficient food and shelter is preferable to not having enough?

    But we all empathize with our neighbors and strangers when horrible things happen to them, even though from a Darwinian perspective we should celebrate.

    Empathy is a result of evolution. It is because of evolution that we are social animals and have concern for one another. Your cartoonish concept of evolutionary theory seems to have been gleaned from a Mad Max movie (hint: evolution acts on populations, not individuals).

  330. Steve Crosson 07 May 2017 at 10:56 am

    ME:

    But we all empathize with our neighbors and strangers when horrible things happen to them, even though from a Darwinian perspective we should celebrate.
    Just one more reason that Darwinism is bullsh*t.

    For an educated person, you have a childishly simplistic view of natural selection.

    Genes need to survive to the next generation. Individuals are almost irrelevant, as long as the community containing the gene pool is robust enough to ensure that the “best” genes make it to the next generation.

    Cooperation can be a HUGE selective advantage for any community/society. Bees, ant, even pack animals benefit from working together. A certain amount of empathy is useful, probably necessary, for any creature to even be able to cooperate because they must be able to understand and predict the actions of others to be able to work together effectively.

    So yeah, there does seem to have been a certain amount of selective pressure (at least for some species) to evolve traits to enable effective cooperation. Chief among them being homo sapiens who, by virtue of cooperation and specialization, have been able to create, discover and invent things far beyond the reach of any individual

  331. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 11:19 am

    Ian Wardell,

    If we never experience any dangers, then the sheer thrill of having overcome dangers is also lacking.

    Once again Ian you missed the entire point of the discussion. In this case you are not talking about the Problem of Evil. The argument you outlined is about an pop-evolutionary-psychology explanation for feelings of detachment in the modern world. It has nothing to do do with “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”— An example of the PoE. You didn’t even mention god or his lack of caring for people once. Also did you just copy-paste that from your blog? No one cares about your blog, maybe try writing something original that actually addresses what people are talking about. It’s a useful skill, use it or lose it.

    Michael Egnor,

    God is perfect, in the sense of being pure act. Thus, if He created perfection, He would self-create. But self-creation is nonsensical, linguistically and logically.

    Bachfiend made a good point. If god is perfect and all powerful, why is this world not perfect? Would a being capable of producing perfect worlds not be better than your god?

    You just stop thinking at an arbitrary point:
    Everything needed to be created, but the process has to stop somewhere, we need a creator that doesn’t need to be created. Therefore God. ** stop thought process **

    Don’t ask questions about God’s obvious imperfections and impotence. Don’t ask how he came into being, it’s stupid to ask how a God was born, gosh you are so silly. Don’t argue that the laws of physics allow for universes to just pop into existence.

    Egnor you are the one playing games with the silly logical reasoning. Every argument against God takes all these ideas seriously, it’s you who abandons all logic after you use logic to prove he exists. That’s all you need right? As soon as you prove he exists that’s it, he’s real therefore you win?

    There are countless meaningless proofs in mathematics. Using modern logic. Not just syllogism, which is horribly flawed and useless compared to what we have now. Computers wouldn’t work using Aristotle’s logic, this is why we had to reinvent and discover new systems of logic in the last few centuries. Because logic from 2300 years ago didn’t cut it. You yourself admitted that Aristotle and Aquinas didn’t know the biology of fetal development. Well they also didn’t know how flawed the underpinnings of their logical system was.

  332. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 11:35 am

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotelianism#Criticism

    Bertrand Russell criticizes Aristotle’s logic on the following points: The Aristotelian system allows formal defects leading to “bad metaphysics”. For example, the following syllogism is permitted: “All golden mountains are mountains, all golden mountains are golden, therefore some mountains are golden”, which insinuates the existence of at least one golden mountain. Furthermore, according to Russell, a predicate of a predicate can be a predicate of the original subject, which blurs the distinction between names and predicates with disastrous consequences; for example, a class with only one member is erroneously identified with that one member, making impossible to have a correct theory of the number one.

    So not only did Aristotle and Aquinas fail to understand fetal development. They also relied on systems of logic that were flawed. So flawed, they are no longer taught as serious systems. When you consider that all of Aquinas’ logic is based on equally flawed systems, it really weakens his proofs of God’s existence.

  333. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 11:47 am

    Michael Egnor,

    Your argument that:
    mortal life is vanishingly small when compared to eternal life in heaven. Therefore suffering is minimal by comparison.

    Is deeply flawed when we consider Hell. Also you give yourself no points by mentioning empathy. Does god not hear the masses screaming in hell for an eternity? Why doesn’t he care that they are suffering so horribly for so long? They are his creations after all.

  334. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 12:14 pm

    “Why doesn’t he care that they are suffering so horribly for so long? They are his creations after all.”

    Add to that that he’s omnipotent and omniscient. He created these people knowing that he’d end up torturing them for eternity — for the purpose of torturing them forever.

  335. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Sophie,

    Thanks for the link to the Vanity Fair article and apologies for the lack of response on that — bust weekend of horribly wholesome stuff like decorating and no time to trawl through that, but I will.

  336. Pete Aon 07 May 2017 at 12:28 pm

    mumadadd,

    Hell has no other purpose than the eternal torture of an imperfect creation.

    There is another possibility: Hell doesn’t actually exist; it was invented by humans as the ultimate weapon by which to gain power and control via subservience.

  337. edamameon 07 May 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Let’s not get carried away trashing Aristotle and claiming he is no longer taught. His system of logic is still taught, and still relevant. For instance, one of the main logic texts still used (Hurley’s Concise Introduction to Logic) still teaches his syllogistic techniques (Chapter 4 and 5 is basically Aristotle). It is still taught in most philosophy curricula, along with propositional logic and the predicate calculus.

    It is still considered largely correct, and it’s amazing it held up as well as it did, given its origins. Aristotle was amazing, it’s his overzealous advocates that are annoying and he would be dismayed at what they have done.

  338. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Michael, Ian,

    Is a hypothetical world with no suffering compatible with your god/higher purpose? e.g. let’s say in 1000 years we’ve basically eradicated suffering in humans as a result of natural evil (Michael, you can keep your moral evil for this hypothetical). It seems to me that this world without suffering via natural evil is much more compatible with a perfect and loving god, but, given your stated positions that suffering is evidence for god/higher purpose, you can’t have it both ways — if we ever eradicate suffering then either god doesn’t exist or suffering tells you nothing about god.

    And then I consider all the people who go through life without suffering now — does god not want to bond with them like thise kids he’s killing with cancer or malnutrition?

    And I conclude that suffering through natural evil kills the notion of an all loving, all powerful, all seeing god; or, if there is an all powerful being, suffering tells us nothing about it.

  339. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 12:51 pm

    *In* a hypothetical world…

  340. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Crap, I miscorrected myself. Is is correct.

  341. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 1:02 pm

    In fact, god must hate medical advances, right? They stop him from binding with people by making them suffer. Us medical science killing our relationship with BDSM god?

  342. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 1:03 pm

    *bonding*

  343. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Edamame,

    Actually the syllogism has been greatly expanded upon. The modern logic of syllogism is nothing like Aristotle’s technique from 2300 years ago.

  344. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Our god just happens to be the ‘tricky dick’ Nixon of deities — if god does it, it’s not wrong; if you do it, however, I’ll torture you forever.

  345. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 1:16 pm

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_logic

    Everything I said about Aristotle’s system being outdated is accurate. It’s appears in early chapters of logic textbooks for a reason.

  346. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Pete A,

    “Hell has no other purpose than the eternal torture of an imperfect creation.”

    Well said. This God character is a monster.

  347. Pete Aon 07 May 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Sophie,

    Due to recent news, I think it highly appropriate to quote from the British Humanist Association (2017-05-06):

    BHA defends its patron Stephen Fry in face of Irish blasphemy probe

    In 2015, Stephen Fry made headlines around the world for blasting the God he doesn’t believe in for creating a world so full of suffering and misery. His comments were made in an interview with Irish channel RTE. Now, over two years later, Stephen is being investigated by the Irish police for potentially breaking the Republic of Ireland’s blasphemy law, after a member of the public complained about his comments. The British Humanist Association (BHA), of which Stephen is a patron, has branded the news as a ‘ridiculous’ impingement on free speech, and commented that this shows yet again the urgent need to repeal blasphemy laws all around the globe.

    When asked what Stephen would say if he ever met God, he told RTE presenter Gay Byrne,

    ‘How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?… I would say: “bone cancer in children? What’s that about?” Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac. Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him?! What kind of god would do that?’

    https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/06/bha-defends-its-patron-stephen-fry-in-face-of-irish-blasphemy-probe/

  348. edamameon 07 May 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Sophie: people still include Aristotle because they believe it is worth being familiar with Aristotle. He claimed the law of the excluded middle as central. Has this been superseded?

    His logic was much more powerful than propositional calculus of Boole, foresaging many aspects of modern logic well past predicate logic. This is a good take on the whole affair:
    https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/23060

    Yes, the Catholics gave him undue respect and deified him, so we can’t do that. But the overcorrection, of just dismissing him as a quack that has been completely superceded, is absurd and shows the kind of binary thinking I expect from creationists.

    For those interested:
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-logic/

    Russell was reacting against the overzealous followers of Aristotle, who thought he was the final word about logic. Obviously such a view of Aristotle is also ridiculous. Also, even if there were problems or mistakes in Aristotle, that doesn’t mean the entire approach is useless. That is also unsound binary thinking, it clearly seems to be rooted in a desire to just dismiss Egnor.

    Egnor can be dismissed because he is an intellectually dishonest troll who makes really bad arguments. You don’t need to dismiss all of the work of one of the greatest thinkers in history (Aristotle) just to refute Egnor. Egnor is a small fish and easy pickins.

  349. Ian Wardellon 07 May 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Sophie
    “Once again Ian you missed the entire point of the discussion”.

    I’m saying that we cannot conclude there is no ultimate purpose of life given that we’re not in a state of maximum “happiness”.

    I deliberately don’t talk about God as my conception of God bears no similarities to the atheist’s conception of “god” whatsoever.

  350. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Ian,

    “I deliberately don’t talk about God as my conception of God bears no similarities to the atheist’s conception of “god” whatsoever.”

    An atheist’s concept of god is whatever you, the believer, put forward and is rejected.

    It’s not our job to define your beliefs.

  351. Pete Aon 07 May 2017 at 2:30 pm

    “[Ian Wardell] I deliberately don’t talk about God as my conception of God bears no similarities to the atheist’s conception of “god” whatsoever.”

    Yep, we’ve known that for ages. We’ve also known for ages that your conception of science bears no similarities to science!

    Ian, What is the wavelength of magenta? 🙂

  352. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Ian,

    It’s totally possible that you could define a god that I would believe in. But it seems you have some god you believe in yet can’t define for fear of it being torn to shreds. (Well, you can vaguely tell that the concept you have in your head won’t hold up to even the slightest scrutiny from an honest and infirmed inquirer).

  353. Steve Crosson 07 May 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Ian,

    It is absurd to pretend that atheists have ONE conception of “god”.

    By definition, an atheist does not believe in ANY god.

    I assure you, your conception of god is indeed one of the many thousands of definitions proposed — each one of which lack evidence.

  354. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Ian,

    It’s totally possible that you could define a god that I would believe in. But it seems you have some god you believe in yet can’t define for fear of it being torn to shreds. (Well, you can vaguely tell that the concept you have in your head won’t hold up to even the slightest scrutiny from an honest and informed inquirer).

  355. Steve Crosson 07 May 2017 at 2:44 pm

    mumadadd,

    “infirmed inquirer” ???

    Freudian slip, or did you perhaps mean “informed”? 🙂 🙂 🙂

  356. Steve Crosson 07 May 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Damn, really wish there was a way to edit or remove posts.

    Disregard my last drivel.

  357. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Steve Cross,

    It may have been a Freudian slip on my phone’s part — it knows Ian Wardell’s weak sh*t.

  358. Pete Aon 07 May 2017 at 2:56 pm

    “[edamame] Egnor is a small fish and easy pickins.”

    Egnor is affiliated to the Discovery Institute. I eagerly await your logically-sound dismissal of both Egnor and the Discovery Institute.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Egnor

  359. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Edamame,

    Egnor can be dismissed because he is an intellectually dishonest troll who makes really bad arguments. You don’t need to dismiss all of the work of one of the greatest thinkers in history (Aristotle) just to refute Egnor. Egnor is a small fish and easy pickins.

    First I never said we should dismiss everything he said. I did say (1) that Aristotle is like from 2300 years ago. (2) That his system of logic has many flaws. (3) That modern logic/philosophy has mostly ABANDONED (not an exaggeration) his systems. I’m just contextualizing his proper role in history. But if you want to play the game and look at him in the right context then don’t just cherry pick the one or two things that you like. Let’s talk about the blatant misogyny in his work, I would love to see you defend these views.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle%27s_views_on_women

    Aristotle is not just the logic syllogism and some other logical concepts you like, he was also a pre scientific author talking about things he had no clue about.

    I’m not dismissing him as a quack but looking at him as a body of work in the correct historical context. You are whitewashing and presenting him as this genius but you are only picking the things you like that have stood the test of time. The vast majority of his work is not the few things he is remembered for today.

  360. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    I’m saying that we cannot conclude there is no ultimate purpose of life given that we’re not in a state of maximum “happiness”.
    I deliberately don’t talk about God as my conception of God bears no similarities to the atheist’s conception of “god” whatsoever.

    I mean this with as much respect and patience as I can muster: everything you said is incredibly wrong.

    (1) you did not define happiness anywhere in the rant you copy-pasted. No one is going to agree that “happiness” is being chased down by a tiger and then hugging your family when you survive. It’s just pop-science evolutionary psychology.
    (2) “ultimate purpose” is not the same as PoE, one is a question about meaning of life, the other is a question about how God can’t possibly be omnipotent, omniscient and good. Life can have a purpose and still the PoE exists, just ask any Christian theologian. They will tell you the ultimate purpose of life is to find God, but they won’t solve the PoE.
    (3) you can be unhappy and in hell suffering for an eternity. Happiness doesn’t answer the PoE or god existence questions very well.
    (4) if your conception of god is different from the god we are talking about over hundreds of comments in this thread, then that’s a YOU problem. We are talking about the PoE as it pertains to a mostly Christian/ Abrahamic God. You might as well come in here and reply to us with a classified ad for some homemade chunky salsa, it would make as much logical sense as what you wrote.

  361. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 3:46 pm

    “You might as well come in here and reply to us with a classified ad for some homemade chunky salsa, it would make as much logical sense as what you wrote.”

    Damn that is cold… X-D

  362. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 3:47 pm
  363. mumadaddon 07 May 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Urgh, never mind.

  364. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I guess it was cold. But he always thinks this giant intellectual with these amazing ideas. Meanwhile he makes mistakes no one with a basic understanding of the topic being discussed would make. Egnor’s comments on the PoE were actually addressing what we were talking about. Ian just wanted to self promote.

  365. Steve Crosson 07 May 2017 at 4:13 pm

    ” Ian just wanted to self promote.”

    Exactly !! Ian frequently refers to his own blog in a transparent plea for clicks. Those unlucky or masochistic enough to take up the challenge are bombarded with page after page of pseudo-intellectual nonsense — not even wrong, just silly.

    At least when Egnor references his own writing, it is at least related to the topic under discussion (usually). Of course, still wrong, but at least it is legitimately wrong.

    Ian just spouts Deepak Chopra level gibberish.

  366. bachfiendon 07 May 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Michael,

    ‘Suffering is part of the purpose of life, since the Fall (as the author of Genesis says, that man will only eat by the sweat of his brow and women will labor in pain). It is basic Christian spirituality to embrace suffering, as a blessing, and a way to unite with Christ’.

    Has it escaped your attention that Genesis is allegory? That the events described within it didn’t happen? That Genesis has more than one author and that it’s a literary attempt to explain, badly, the existence of evil and suffering in a world, despite it being created by a god (in the earliest passages, one of many) concerned with the wellbeing of just a small segment of humans in the Middle East?

    Christianity is an incoherent thought system with a lot of handwaving explanations. Evolutionary biology (and science in general) has perfectly good explanations. Your completely inaccurate caricatures of science are just laughable (no one uses the term ‘Darwinism’ except religious fundamentalists as a perjorative. And perhaps people who wish to indicate that explanations for natural phenomena need to look for natural causes).

    I think the best argument against Christianity is Christopher Hitchens’. Homo sapiens has been around for 200,000 years, and your God does basically nothing. Doesn’t explain that humans are here to suffer as a blessing to unite with Christ, leaving humans to invent numerous contradictory religions as a means of explaining human existence.

    And then around 2,000 years ago your God gets off his butt, sends himself to Earth and has himself sacrificed to himself as a means for himself to forgive humans for Original Sin (which didn’t happen anyway).

    A sacrifice no one actually noticed on Earth at the time. And Christianity, despite being the ‘truth’, was hardly a runaway success until the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, with Constantine, who – like many rulers – realised religion was very useful for holding onto power.

  367. edamameon 07 May 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Sophie it is not cherry picking to address arguments about Aristotle’s views on logic by discussing Aristotle’s views on logic.

  368. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Edamame go read what Russell had to say about Aristotle. He specifically attacked the logic.

  369. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 6:51 pm

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotelianism#Criticism

    I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant. Any person in the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if he reads Aristotle or any of his disciples. Nonetheless, Aristotle’s logical writings show great ability, and would have been useful to mankind if they had appeared at a time when intellectual originality was still active. Unfortunately, they appeared at the very end of the creative period of Greek thought, and therefore came to be accepted as authoritative. By the time that logical originality revived, a reign of two thousand years had made Aristotle very difficult to dethrone. Throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in logic, or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of the opposition from Aristotle’s disciples.

  370. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 7:37 pm

    I normally agree with your position on these issues, Steve, but I think you are way off with this comment:

    “Even worse, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills in at least 18 states designed to suppress protests against Trump. According to the Washington Post:

    ‘From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent’ ”

    How exactly are these laws designed specifically to suppress Trump protestors?

    Yes these protest behaviours are prevalent amongst some Trump protestors – but so what? The laws will impact all protestors equally regardless of their objectives. If they are applied discriminately against Trump protestors then that is another matter.

    But arguing these laws specifically suppress Trump protestors is equivalent to arguing that banning FGM will specifically suppress Muslims (because FGM is more prevalent amongst the Muslim community).

    Either these protest behaviours are acceptable or they are not. If they are not then we should ban them regardless whether they are more prevalent amongst certain groups.

    People have the right to protest peacefully. But I would argue that people do not have the right to block traffic and wear masks as part of that right.

  371. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 8:00 pm

    1) Trump is in power.
    2) Most (all?) big political protests since his election victory have been anti-trump.
    3) Therefore these laws will disproportionately affect people protesting President Trump’s administration.

  372. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 8:05 pm

    By the way, I make these comments as someone very much against Trump. But the left needs to do something about these protestors.

    I wanted to attend the March for Science last month and take my children along.

    But I had to seriously consider, what if Antifa protestors attended? Would I be placing my children in danger? If it turned ugly, would me and my children be caught in the skirmish? As a white middle class male, would I be targeted?

    Trump, I think, is a threat to our civilisation. But Antifa are a cancer on democracy.

  373. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 8:20 pm

    @Sophie,

    Yes Trump protestors are disproportionately represented amongst most protestors in the current climate. So any laws that limit the actions of protestors will disproportionately impact Trump protestors. But this does not equal specific suppression of Trump protestors.

    Either blocking roads and wearing masks are acceptable forms of protest behaviours or they are not. We should make this judgement on general principle independent from whether it will disproportionately impact Trump protestors.

    There are obviously limits to the right of protest. Whatever judgement we make as to those limits, it will apply equally to Trump protestors as it will to white supremacists – so in what way can these laws be argued as specifically suppressing Trump protestors?

    If Trump supporters transgress the legal limits on the right to protest then they will be disproportionately impacted by those laws – but that is not a valid argument as to where the limits should be placed, that is a tautological argument.

  374. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 8:22 pm

    You fell victim to the right wing idea that all protests are actually riots. The march for science was peaceful, most marches and protests are peaceful. Antifa is the opposite of the alt right, yes they are bad. They are currently not in power though so we don’t have to fear them more than we fear the people currently in the White House.

  375. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 8:25 pm

    If you think people shouldn’t be allowed to wear masks that’s a separate issue to protesting. Not all protestors wore masks. Clearly the people in all black with their faces hidden are not peaceful protestors. You are conflating the two groups. Mentioning antifa when talking about the March for science is wrong. The marchers had permission to protest months in advance. They didn’t do anything wrong. Stop watching Fox News, get off the alternative media.

  376. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Antifa and the Democrats are joined at the hip, in much he same way that the rioters in Ferguson and Baltimore were merely instruments of Democrat/Obama electioneering. It’s common for the Left (and the Democrat Party today is radical Left) to use a combination of public presentability (Obama, Hillary, Pelosi, etc) with surreptitiously organized violence.

    The Democrats after they lost the Civil War used the KKK as their enforcement arm in the South.

    The Democrats after they lost the 2016 election use the Antifa as their enforcement arm on campuses.

    It’s an old Democrat tactic.

  377. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 8:46 pm

    It’s noteworthy that both the KKK and the Antifa wear hoods in public and commit political violence against Republicans like Milo, Coulter and Murray, while being protected by Democrat Party operatives (like the mayors and college administrators who refuse to arrest them).

  378. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Milo isn’t a republican he isn’t even a US citizen. Also he was disinvited from CPAC. When someone is so toxic that the hardline conservatives won’t let him speak at their own events clearly you should be pointing to them as “republicans.”

  379. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 9:18 pm

    @ Sophie.

    “You fell victim to the right wing idea that all protests are actually riots”

    I know not all protests turn into riots. But some do and how do I know beforehand whether the protest I will be attending will be one of them? How much risk is acceptable to place one’s child in? I applied the precautionary principle – low probability event but high consequence – better play it safe.

    In hindsight its easy to say my assessment was wrong but before the March for Science I had no idea how it would turn out considering recent events.

    “Not all protestors wore masks. Clearly the people in all black with their faces hidden are not peaceful protestors. You are conflating the two groups.”

    I am not conflating the two groups. I well understand Antifah represent a minority of Trump supporters and I never claimed otherwise.

    But this rather reinforces my point, if only a minority of Trump protestors engage in violent acts – then in what way do laws against those violent acts suppress the right to protest Trump? Only a minority of protestors would be impacted by such laws and in my view rightfully so. The opposition to Trump would be better off without such ‘allies’.

    ” Stop watching Fox News, get off the alternative media”

    This is such an unjustified assumption on your part. I disagree with the violent acts of extremists on the left therefore I must be extreme right-wing.

    My political views would be considered socialist by most right-wing Americans, and I read the Guardian.

  380. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 9:25 pm

    By the way, before any right leaning Americans get indignant, I said ‘socialist by right-wing American’ standards. I’m a believer in the free market, I just happen to think some utilities and services (like healthcare) are better funded socially than by private insurance markets.

    This makes me card-carrying communist by American standards, but in most Western liberal democracies it makes me ‘normal’.

  381. michaelegnoron 07 May 2017 at 9:31 pm

    By rights, the Antifa scum and their paymasters ought to be hunted down, arrested, prosecuted and put in jail for life.

    But the smartest thing may be to do what Trump is doing. Let them riot, and avoid aggressive moves against them.

    Every time they riot thousands of former Democrats become Republicans. Normal law-abiding Americans hate this scum, and the Democrats’ embrace of violence will drive Republican victories, as they already have over the past 8 years.

    Antifa is how you get more Trump, and if it keeps up, Trump will be an angel compared to what comes after him.

    I can’t wait!

  382. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 9:52 pm

    @Egnor,

    I trust you feel the same way about, and apply the same principles, to extremist groups who kill abortion doctors and their supporters?

    I don’t think you are right that there is a conspiracy of support for Antifa amongst mainstream democrats. But I think you are right that they are perhaps doing more than anyone in pushing support towards Trump. People are repulsed by them and their association with democrats does huge damage to the left and anti-trump movement.

  383. Sophieon 07 May 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Rodney,

    I am not conflating the two groups. I well understand Antifah represent a minority of Trump supporters and I never claimed otherwise.

    Antifa are left wing extremists. They are not Trump supporters at all. The fact that you don’t know this, and mixed up the two, while claiming you are not conflating two groups, is really funny.

  384. Robneyon 07 May 2017 at 10:31 pm

    That was a typo. I intended to write ‘trump protestors’.

    In my posts, I have expressed an interest in attending a protest march against Trump – and I am obviously opposed Antifa. So how could I conflate a group I consider myself a member of and a group I actively oppose?

    And even if you take my post with the typo at face value – how could I be conflating Trump supporters and Trump protestors?

    So yes. Typo aside, I stand by my comment. I am not conflating Antifa and Trump protestors.

  385. edamameon 08 May 2017 at 1:12 am

    Sophie I recommend you learn more than wikipedia quotes if you want to learn about Aristotle’s theory of logic. That Russell quote proves nothing, and I actually discussed Ruseell explicitly above already. I provided an authoritative reference from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which is better than Wikipedia. I recommend you familiarize yourself with it because you obviously don’t know about this topic and are just looking for crap on wikipedia to support your conclusion. The right approach isn’t to say that Aristotle knew nothing about logic and nobody takes anything he said seriously any more. This is simply false. An answer that is actually attuned to reality would accept that Aristotle had some great stuff to say, but that some people have misused him, and that his logical theories (where they are good) are neutral with respect to the existence of gods.

  386. edamameon 08 May 2017 at 1:17 am

    Sophie, incidentally: what about the law of the excluded middle, which was central in Aristotle? I asked about that, and you ignored it. I wasn’t asking a rhetorical question.

    Has that been superseded by modern logic? I’ll give you a hint: no. It is still central in all mainstream systems of logic from propositional logic to the predicate calculus to mathematics. Aristotle’s logic is too rich with similar principles to dismiss with a wave of the hand and a flippant quote from Betrand Russell.

    Incidentally, because you obviously are a student of the history of logic, you will know the importance of the law of the excluded middle, and the role it played not only in Aristotle, but in Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_excluded_middle#History

  387. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 4:28 am

    Edamame,

    Wrong again!
    Aristotle did not invent the law of the excluded middle, it’s a modern term, and the propositional logic used to define it didn’t exist for a couple millennia after his death.

    Once again this is your anachronistic view of history, combined with whitewashing a prescientific author who wrote many things that are hilariously inaccurate.

    He worked on the similar law of non-contradiction.

    Additionally, not only did Aristotle not invent the law of non-contradiction, there is a clear history of its development from about 2 centuries earlier. Heraclitus, Protagoras, Paramendies, and then Socrates, Plato and finally came Aristotle’s refinements. Bertrand Russell and Whitehead were the first ones to state it as a theorem, Aristotle did not do anything profound with it, and once again: he did not invent it!

    Don’t forget what you talking about. It’s just a very simple concept, in fact one of the first you need to make a system of logic. It simply holds that: a statement can’t be true and false at the same time, it has to be one or the other. Wow. What an breathtaking discovery. Talk about some low hanging fruit.

    The fact that Aristotle invented neither the law of the excluded middle nor the law of non-contradiction, combined with his “unimportant” syllogism, is why Bertrand Russell says Aristotle contributed basically nothing, and that it’s a waste of time to study Aristotle or any of his disciples.

    Not my words. Just the words of a famous philosopher who didn’t believe all the silly things Aristotle believed. Aristotle’s flawed logic infected everything he wrote. His obsession with his own teleological arguments and actuality vs potentially caused him to see it everywhere. Men were the strong, thinkers, women were the passive matter to be molded and used. He wrote that women were essentially less than men in every way and incapable of intellectual pursuits. He also loved to justify why slaves were so stupid and incapable of learning. Keep championing Aristotle. I love this. Anyone who reads Aristotle can see his misogyny in almost anything he wrote. He said many things about women, slaves, other races, biology even, that are just incorrect and when you study his logic you can easily see how he got to those conclusions.

    Oh and on my wiki quotes. Yeah it’s from Russell’s book, you would know that if you spent 5 seconds trying to figure it out instead of complaining about how bad my reference was and you copy pasting a link to a superior reference is so much better.

    The book is called The History of Western Philosophy. You can easily find it online. The quote appears at the very end of chapter XXII, which is specifically called “Aristotle’s Logic” it’s the very last paragraph, Russell intentionally chose to end the chapter that way, by bashing Aristotle’s logic. Weird for him to do that if he secretly believed that Aristotle’s logic was so cool, dontcha think?

  388. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 4:59 am

    Also just a little note. Your tone of condescension is not appreciated. It’s really obvious you haven’t read much Aristotle or you would know what Russell is talking about. It’s also obvious you haven’t taken much modern logic or philosophy, since you are overstating the value of an old system with many flaws. There is a reason Aristotle is covered in the early chapters of modern logic textbooks. The textbook you mentioned is also an intro to logic book. Not modern logic. So it has historical examples in it. Modern computers would not be possible without literally abandoning everything Aristotle wrote on logic and starting from scratch. You also just went and conflated the two laws, something someone with a little experience would never do. I’m not your enemy, but I did study this in college.

  389. michaelegnoron 08 May 2017 at 8:36 am

    @Robney:

    [I trust you feel the same way about, and apply the same principles, to extremist groups who kill abortion doctors and their supporters?]

    Yes, I do, except there is virtually no support for killing abortion doctors in the pro-life movement. It’s “pro-life”.

    The same can’t be said for the Democrats and Antifa. Democrats have a long history of political violence (the Civil War, KKK, union/mob violence, radical leftists of the 60’s, etc) Don’t forget that Obama began his political career in the living room of Bill Ayers, who is a terrorist bomber. Obama used Al Sharpton as a close advisor on racial issues (Sharpton stayed at the White House quite often), and Sharpton is a violence-monger who has incited actual murder on several occassions (Yankel Rosenbaum and Freddie’s Fashion Mart). Obama has close political allies who have incited political murder.

    There’s no doubt that the Antifa are funded and organized by Soros-money, probably with the help of OFA (Obama’s front group).

    So unlike the killers of abortion doctors, who are rogues, Antifa is simply the action arm of mainstream Democrat organizing.

    [I don’t think you are right that there is a conspiracy of support for Antifa amongst mainstream democrats.]

    Certainly most ordinary Democrats find Antifa distasteful, but ordinary Democrats are fools. The Democrat Party is a crime syndicate, and it uses Antifa for its own purposes.

    But I think you are right that they are perhaps doing more than anyone in pushing support towards Trump. People are repulsed by them and their association with democrats does huge damage to the left and anti-trump movement.

  390. michaelegnoron 08 May 2017 at 8:39 am

    Robney:

    We are headed for a civil war. It won’t be in my lifetime, I don’t think, but within a century. It will be a very bloody affair. The Right will win (we have all the guns and the military).

    It will resemble the Roman Civil Wars of the first century BC in some respects, and the Spanish Civil War.

    We will get our Franco, eventually.

  391. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 9:57 am

    mumadadd
    “An atheist’s concept of god is whatever you, the believer, put forward and is rejected.

    It’s not our job to define your beliefs”.

    I have never communicated with an atheists whose conception of God anywhere near resembled my own. Read a blog entry by me here:

    http://ianwardells.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/silly-notions-of-god.html

  392. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 9:58 am

    And while I’m at it, I advise people to read my latest blog entry:

    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/arguing-with-people.html

  393. edamameon 08 May 2017 at 10:31 am

    Sophie I didn’t say Aristotle invented the law of the excluded middle: I said it was central to him. That was just one tiny instance to point out that his system of thought is much richer and more nuanced than you are able to appreciate, apparently, and obviously you don’t really care because you keep throwing out the same old Russell quote as if that settles anything.

    You can’t undermine Egnor with a generic claim that Aristotle’s logic is bad. Aristotle’s logic is much too nuanced and complex to make such a general claim. For instance, it includes things like the law of the excluded middle, but also many other perfectly valid forms of inference when reformulated in the predicate calculus.

    Therefore, because it includes valid forms of inference, you cannot conclude that any inferences performed using Aristotle’s logic must be invalid. This is true by definition of logical validity.

    To put it in plain terms: dismissing it all as invalid would be ignorant.

    As I’ve said, people interested in real Aristotle scholarship (which has nothing to do with Scholasticism) rather than wikipedia quote mining:
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-logic/

    You will see some stuff that is pretty much standard logic that you would find in any modern treatment of logic or mathematical proof (proof by contradiction, elements of propositional logic, predicate logic), you will find some that is very strange: working out the connections from his very rich, subtle, and nuanced theory, to modern logical ideas is a nontrivial feat, not something a lazy wave of the hands toward old Russell quotes will accomplish.

  394. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 10:43 am

    Ian Wardell,

    Blog post arguing with ppl:

    It’s an extremely common tendency to try and justify one’s position on any topic by seeking out those opponents who advance the most naive, the weakest and most ridiculous arguments. Or, when arguing with more thoughtful opponents, to attribute to them a more naive or simplistic position than the one they actually hold and attack that.

    Wow Ian, thank you, this is some truly amazing work. I wonder if you realize that you didn’t include the world’s “straw man fallacy” or “cherry picking” anywhere in this post? And later on when you discuss attacking the person and not the argument, why don’t the words ad hominem appear? Why? Oh just because you are describing some of the most well known informal logical fallacies in the entire world.

    It’s really inspiring to see such a wonderful thinker, reinvent and rediscover commonly known principles and not mention them by their old name. You should head over to engineering next and blow everyone’s mind by proposing some kind of circular structure that can attach to an axle, thereby allowing a kind of rolling action across a road. I’m sure they would love to hear from you.

  395. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 10:51 am

    edamame,

    My words are right up there when you want to provide an intelligent reply, instead of repeating yourself basically word for word, I’ll be waiting.

    Mistakes you made once again: (1) the law of the excluded middle is a modern term, the propositional logic used to define it and it’s theory did exist for over 2000 years after Aristotle died. (2) the law of non-contradiction is not the same as the first law. (3) Russell knew what he was talking about. Stop dismissing him. The quote is not out of context, it’s the last paragraph in the the chapter on Aristotle’s logic in history of western philosophy, he wasn’t kidding. He absolutely meant that Aristotle’s logic was a joke. Go look it up. It’s available for free online.

  396. edamameon 08 May 2017 at 11:42 am

    Sophie he used the law of excluded middle, who cares what he called it that is silly. It is not just used in propositional logic. It is used in predicate calculus and all systems of logic that are not paraconsistent. Russell had a philosophical ax to grind with that quote you keep using as an appeal to authority.

    More importantly, you are entirely missing the point.

    The point is Aristotle’s logic was largely sound, even if it had some problems. Hence, you cannot dismiss arguments that used elements of his logic a priori, because they may have used the good elements of it.

    Just dismissing all of it, would include dismissing central aspects of modern logic such as the law of excluded middle, argument from contradiction, etc.. You have to look at the arguments actually used. You are trying to be lazy and just dismiss something from the armchair because it draws on Aristotle’s logic. That won’t work. You will have to actually do more than that, because so much of his logic is perfectly reasonable.

    Example: If all A’s are B, and t is an A, then t is a B. Please find the problem with that Aristotelian inference.

    The problems Russell claimed to have found are corner cases that will very rarely come up in any ordinary argument context, and would very rarely be used in practice. You have to actually be not lazy, do some work, and look at the arguments actually used.

    Even Russell admits the basic syllogisms are valid, so you haven’t even read him very well. For goodness’ sake just let it go. He had an ax to grind because Aristotle was too revered, and Russell had a shiny new system of logic to show off, so he was super-dismissive and you found the quote that encapsulates that well.

    You as even Russell understood (if you actually read and understand that whole chapter you keep cherry picking from), you can’t dismiss all of it, you have to actually look at individual arguments, and think about individual aspects of his logic, and think, god forbid.

    Hence, your generic attempt to undermine Aquinas by saying Aristotle’s logic is BS is invalid. You have to look at his specific arguments.

    I’m done with this thread it is getting repetitive…this post hopefully clearly makes my point.

  397. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 11:59 am

    Edamame,

    The problems Russell claimed to have found are corner cases that will very rarely come up in any ordinary argument context, and would very rarely be used in practice. You have to actually be not lazy, do some work, and look at the arguments actually used.

    I really like how keep insulting me while spewing falsehoods. Anyone who is interested in this can google Bertrand Russell’s The history of Western Philosophy, find a PDF for free online and see that Russell wasn’t talking about “corner cases.” He was talking about Aristotle’s logic as a whole. The quotes I chose are his conclusions. He saw many defects in the logic itself and cautioned modern people away from studying Aristotle’s logic. These are the facts. The fact that you keep dismissing his work and overstating the value of Aristotle’s systems shows that you can’t use google.

    Search for this quote in the PDF, see the entire chapter before it that systematically describes the many problems with Aristotle’s logic:

    I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant. Any person in the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if he reads Aristotle or any of his disciples. Nonetheless, Aristotle’s logical writings show great ability, and would have been useful to mankind if they had appeared at a time when intellectual originality was still active. Unfortunately, they appeared at the very end of the creative period of Greek thought, and therefore came to be accepted as authoritative. By the time that logical originality revived, a reign of two thousand years had made Aristotle very difficult to dethrone. Throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in logic, or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of the opposition from Aristotle’s disciples.

    No one is denying that Aristotle had some huge historical significance, what we are saying is that syllogism is inferior to what we have now. That his system had many flaws and led to many false conclusions. It also led to centuries of misogynistic thought. This can be seen pretty clearly in Aquinas, and had a giant impact on the course of history itself. Even if you don’t care about that, you should care about how his logic stifled scientific progress and debate. People took his logic as authoritative for 2000 years. Until just a few hundred years ago where new systems of logic were invented along with new philosophical underpinnings of science.

  398. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 12:02 pm

    In Russell’s own words:

    The syllogism is only one kind of deductive argument. In mathematics, which is wholly deductive, syllogisms hardly ever occur. Of course it would be possible to re-write mathematical arguments in syllogistic form, but this would be very artificial and would not make them any more cogent. Take arithmetic, for example. If I buy goods worth $4.63, and tender a $5 bill in payment, how much change is due to me? To put this simple sum in the form of a syllogism would be absurd, and would tend to conceal the real nature of the argument.

  399. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Sophie said regarding my blog:

    “Wow Ian, thank you, this is some truly amazing work”.

    Glad you appreciate it! 🙂

  400. Steve Crosson 08 May 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Sophie,

    The world is not black&white. You really, really should learn to tolerate a difference of opinion. If for no other reason than that you allow yourself to get sidetracked trying to prove that your own opinionis absolutely, positively, 100% correct — while missing the main point of the argument.

    I think edamame has a very valid point. In essence, you are committing the fallacy fallacy — which I’m assuming you are familiar with since you seem to have a good grasp of most of the common informal logical fallacies.

    For those that don’t know, it is simply this: merely identifying the fact that your opponent’s argument is logically fallacious does NOT necessarily prove that the disputed proposition is false. You can justifiably claim that your opponent has NOT made their case, but they could still be right but for the wrong reasons.

    You can claim that Aristotle’s “logic” wasn’t very “logical” (compared to modern thought), and perhaps you have a point, but the most you can claim is that Egnor hasn’t done a good job of making his case. As edamame said, you still need to address each claim on its own merits instead of just making a blanket claim that they are wrong simply because the technique was faulty.

    In any event, you do yourself a huge disservice when you get so hung up on trying to prove that your own opinion is the only possible correct one. You lose credibility, or at a minimum, respect when you seem unable to accept that other people’s opinions may have some validity.

    Most of time, I find myself in complete agreement with your comments, and I admire your tenacity, especially regarding Egnor — a lost cause if there ever was one. But I cringe when you apparently go off the deep end whenever someone has even a slight disagreement with you.

    Regarding Aristotle, I personally think you are mostly right — things have moved on in the past few millennia, but he was hardly the country bumpkin you claim. In every one of my college philosophy classes, he was presented as a hugely important figure. Certainly, some of his ideas were wrong, and some have been refined, but some of the fundamentals are still right and important.

    But again, mostly a matter of opinion — and mostly irrelevant to the main subject i.e. whether Egnor has a logical leg to stand on.

  401. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Sophie said:

    “The fact that you [i.e edamame] keep dismissing his [i.e Bertrand Russell’s] work and overstating the value of Aristotle’s systems shows that you can’t use google”.

    Ah, the modern world. One should dismiss X, not from thinking through and understanding his/her arguments, but by Googling!

  402. Steve Crosson 08 May 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Sophie said regarding my blog:
    “Wow Ian, thank you, this is some truly amazing work”.
    Glad you appreciate it!

    Adding to the long list of things that Ian Wardell does NOT understand: Sarcasm

  403. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 1:12 pm

    And humour yours Steve 😉

  404. Steve Crosson 08 May 2017 at 1:19 pm

    My bad … when confronted with a long list of silly statements, it becomes difficult to differentiate between inadvertent and intentional humor.

  405. mumadaddon 08 May 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    “I have never communicated with an atheists whose conception of God anywhere near resembled my own. Read a blog entry by me here:”

    As a general rule I, and most commenters here, react to the god concepts put forward by believers. You have brought up god before on this blog and then went all coy when I asked you what you meant by god and how you defined it. When people elucidate beliefs in god here we critique those beliefs; I’m sorry if they don’t match your beliefs.

    You expect atheists to share your concept of something they don’t believe in??What would you have us do — spend time trying to think of god concepts of to disbelieve in? Trying to imagine what god Ian ‘see my blog’ Wardell believes in?

  406. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 2:01 pm

    @mumadadd, you could try attacking the type of God that intellectuals have advanced throughout the ages, rather than attacking the superhero type of God that atheists normally attack!

    See here:

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2014/jan/14/the-theology-book-atheists-should-read?CMP=fb_us

  407. Pete Aon 08 May 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I have never communicated with an aunicornist whose conception of unicorns anywhere near resembled my own.

  408. mumadaddon 08 May 2017 at 2:07 pm

    PeteA,

    Exactly. And if you have a conception of unicorns that you think I should believe in, make your case! Don’t moan that I disbelieve in the wrong kind of unicorns and haven’t imagined the correct kind of unicorns.

  409. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I would think that what unicorns are is fairly unambiguous. Not least of all that its an alleged object in the world alongside all other objects.

    God? Atheists think of God as some thing in the world, some being. I think that the world is “within” God.

    I think that “God” is impossible to define, but if pressed I would say that God is an all-embracing infinite consciousness that is both self-subsistent and transcendental, who is not a thing in the Universe, but rather the Universe exists within God, who is both creator and sustainer of all things, and who endows literally everything with an ultimate, and to all sentient beings were we to be adequately wise, a singularly superlative purpose.

  410. Pete Aon 08 May 2017 at 3:02 pm

    “Atheists think of God as some thing in the world, some being.”

    I am an atheist and that is not what I think.

  411. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Steve Cross,

    I also saw many profs hero worship Aristotle. In my humble opinion it’s just a matter of the Greeks being first, in western philosophy. When written language was first used, formalized and syntax was being ironed out, humans would eventually come across logical principles. One of the first logical principles you need is something like the law of non-contradiction. I don’t really see that as a giant discovery. It’s kinda like celebrating the naming of the Constellations.

    I appreciate what edamame said, however he did lie about what Russell concluded about Aristotle. Don’t believe me, check it for yourself, the PDF of his book is online. Anyone can see that in the history of western philosophy, Russell bashes Aristotle’s logic pretty severely. He goes so far in fact that he intentionally ends the chapter with those harsh words. Deliberately choosing to warn future philosophers of Aristotle and his disciples (like Aquinas).

    Edamame repeatedly said that it was just an insignificant wiki quote, or about something else, or “corner cases.” This is dishonest and anyone can fact check and see his statements are incorrect and that Russell actually concluded hose things. Edamame had many opportunities to go and check, he instead chose to repeat that I was wrong about Russell. Which I am not.

    Ian Wardell,

    you could try attacking the type of God that intellectuals have advanced throughout the ages, rather than attacking the superhero type of God that atheists normally attack!

    You might already know this, since you are so brilliant, but the Problem of Evil actually does attack the God “intellectuals” have promoted throughout the ages. There is an extensive scholarship going back quite a bit. I’m sure you went to the wikipage and saw the giant list of arguments for and against, right?

    Also you keep talking, but you still haven’t said what your solution to the PoE is, or provided an explanation of what your God looks like. This is kinda like the consciousness discussion where you didn’t actually define your terms and you kept flipping back between multiple positions when challenged. Please tell us what is your God like, and how would he / she square the PoE?

    Pete A,

    I have never communicated with an aunicornist whose conception of unicorns anywhere near resembled my own.

    This is so good! Lmao! I seriously laughed at this for like 2 min straight. People thought I was crazy lol. Omg it’s so funny. We need more of this here, to defuse the tension.

  412. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    I think that “God” is impossible to define, but if pressed I would say that God is an all-embracing infinite consciousness that is both self-subsistent and transcendental, who is not a thing in the Universe, but rather the Universe exists within God, who is both creator and sustainer of all things, and who endows literally everything with an ultimate, and to all sentient beings were we to be adequately wise, a singularly superlative purpose.

    Okay so which is it: impossible to define, or the stuff you defined him as? Can’t have it both ways this is weak, come out be courageous and take a stand for something. Let’s assume it’s what follows after the impossibly of defining him.

    The God you described is the new age God promoted by Deepak.
    First, Not only is that not the god in the PoE, it’s not the Christian / Abrahamic god.
    It’s also not the God atheists care about because it’s not what most religious people care about. So it’s you that has a category problem, not us.

    I feel like this point isn’t getting through to you. Honestly with all due respect, dwell on it. We are attacking the god everyone believes in, you are presenting your personal god, these are separate conceptions of god. We are right though, and you are wrong, because theists don’t follow your ideas about god. Get it?

    You might as well tell us that the PoE isn’t a big deal because your personal god is a unicorn. Well, most people don’t think God is a unicron, this is why we don’t talk about it. It’s not because we are stupid I assure you.

    Your god is just some new pan- idealism. Sweet. So we are all just god’s dream. This is really lovely. So those kids starving to death, they are just dreams, they aren’t actually suffering? Your god still has to deal with the PoE, why doesn’t he dream a perfect world instead? What’s the point of all the people currently fighting for scraps of food and religious ideals?

    Tell me why even in your god-consciousness universe, there is still suffering? Is your god just not good? Or he is not able to a stop it?

  413. mumadaddon 08 May 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Ian,

    Here you go:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-science-of-god/

    A link to a discussion of god as ‘the ground of all being’ or ‘God-as-the-condition-of-existence’. We address this stuff when it comes up; to do so when it doesn’t come up would be like some weird form of Tourette’s.

  414. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Sophie says to Pete:
    “This is so good! Lmao! I seriously laughed at this for like 2 min straight. People thought I was crazy lol. Omg it’s so funny”.

    Oh don’t be such a lickspittle!

    It’s not funny, it’s the type of response that people always come out with when they can’t mount a defence.

  415. mumadaddon 08 May 2017 at 3:50 pm

    In fact, you were in that damn thread.

  416. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Sophie, if my concept of God could not be interpreted as the Christian one, then a fortiori the atheist’s conception of God as this superhero isn’t either.

  417. Ian Wardellon 08 May 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve never claimed the PoE isn’t a big deal. On the contrary, I have a problem with evil (or goodness deficiency). I find it the most . .nay . .the *only* problem with the concept of a “God”.

    What I say in my blog entry is that the PoE is not definitive since we don’t know what the purpose of life is and what the world should be like in order to fulfil such a purpose.

  418. Steve Crosson 08 May 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Ian,

    Any god that is impossible to define is also impossible to recognize, or most important, verify.

    And your “forced” definition of a new age-ish hand-wavy Deepak Chopra style warm&fuzzy god is indistinguishable from Deism — and for all practical purposes, looks identical to no god at all.

    And serves NO useful purpose other than perhaps the false comfort of self delusion. By either of your definitions, it is literally impossible to ascertain that entity’s desires, goals, moral values or any other characteristics that theists insist are necessary in order for their own lives to have meaning or purpose.

    Nope, like ever other god ever invented, your “god” is nothing more than something on to which believers can project their own values and pretend that it gives their own life “purpose”.

  419. Steve Crosson 08 May 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Ian: “Oh don’t be such a lickspittle!”

    Umm … are you trying (and failing) to be funny again?

    Pretty sure that NO rational, logical person thinks: Sophie = lickspittle.

    Just look at the evidence. There are literally dozens (at least, 😉 😉 😉 ) of comments that she’s made that clearly show she doesn’t suck up to anyone.

  420. Pete Aon 08 May 2017 at 6:12 pm

    edamame,

    “Example: If all A’s are B, and t is an A, then t is a B. Please find the problem with that Aristotelian inference.”

    In many fields of applied science, it is that two-valued logic way of thinking which leads to errors. In mission-critical applications, it can and does sometimes lead to catastrophic failure, even loss of life. A properly-designed system has to deploy a minimum of tri-valued logic.

    Applying the Law of Excluded Middle would be nothing other than a recipe for disaster. E.g., there is a solid reason for mandating that all database management systems include predictable handling of NULL values during both data entry and data queries!

  421. bachfiendon 08 May 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Ian,

    Your concept of God is nothing more than naturalism. All you’ve done is taken naturalism, added a few unveriable properties such as Intelligence, and called it ‘God’.

    Your definition of God isn’t one that it worth worshiping. Or fearing. Egnor’s form of Pascal’s Wager wouldn’t work. Egnor wouldn’t be able to ask your God why there’s evil and suffering in the world.

    Perhaps your God brings forth a super ETI, which believers call ‘God’? And religion is just the ETI’s prank on humans?

    A better hypothesis would be that we’re living in a simulation in a supercomputer somewhere. There’s a ‘God’ somewhere, but it’s not in the simulation. The concept of ‘God’ is just part of the programming of the simulation. There’s intelligence in the simulation – and outside the simulation. With purpose too.

    It’s just as coherent as your concept. And just as unverifiable. And it explains reality much better. In quantum physics, determining the spin of one of a linked pair of particles simultaneously, not with any lag in time, determines the spin of the other particle, despite the particles being far apart. Perhaps the particles aren’t actually far apart? They’re just representations next to each other on some super hard drive?

    And for the record – I don’t actually believe we live in a computer simulation (or did the programming make me type that?).

  422. RickKon 08 May 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    Regarding your Guardian article:

    When the nice people at our local Episcopal church stand around chanting the Nicene Creed, they are not referring to a “God as the condition of existence of all things”. They are referring to a thinking, independent being who affects the world and begat a son.

    When adults all over America pray to God for divine intervention in their lives, they are not referring to a “God as the condition of existence of all things”. They are referring to a listening, active deity who intervenes in the flow of nature to grant wishes.

    You’re right – if you smear and obfuscate God into an impotent, meaningless abstraction then atheists have nothing to question. But then, believers have nothing to pray to.

  423. Steve Crosson 08 May 2017 at 8:17 pm

    bach,

    The interesting thing is that, from the point of view of almost any imaginable theist, we ARE living in a simulation.

    Because, really, how is the theist concept of “god” any more or less omnipotent or omniscient than the scientist/programmer who develops and “runs” any simulation.

    The problem is, we can’t possibly know UNLESS the god/creator/programmer arranges the simulation to allow that knowledge. We also can’t possibly guess as to that “creator’s” ultimate purpose. Even if we had a verified way to communicate with (or at least receive knowledge from) the “creator”, we still wouldn’t be able to know if we received the “truth” (trust me — if you’ve ever had a college psych course, you’ve probably been “volunteered” for all sorts of studies, and the participants NEVER know the real subject of the experiment).

    Our “creator” (if we have one) might just be curious and is running a Conway’s game of Life type simulation just to see what happens. And perhaps has no more interest in the individual participants than we do in the results of experiments on lab mice — just observe the results and perform the statistical analysis.

    Or perhaps the creator is more along the lines of the guy in G.R.R. Martin’s “Sandkings” — that would definitely explain the PoE.

    The point is, no one actually knows what really caused our perceived “reality” and there is a good chance that we may not ever know — perhaps CAN not ever know if the “simulation” was designed that way. All we can do as the (possible) subjects of the experiment is try to identify predictable and verifiable patterns (i.e. cause and effect relationships) and exercise whatever free will we think we have to try to live the best life we can.

    Mere speculation based on wholly insufficient knowledge is a waste of time. And really, pretending that the creator is omnibenevolent is pure wishful thinking — even before we consider the PoE. It is not hard to imagine a world that is more benevolent than the one we (seem to) live in — e.g. simply making every creature a vegetarian would eliminate a LOT of pain and suffering.

    Every religion to date has been invented out of wishful thinking and/or a desire to control others.

  424. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Awesome comment Rickk! Got to the heart of the problem with Ian’s claims. Keep up the good work!

  425. Pete Aon 08 May 2017 at 9:40 pm

    “[Ian Wardell] I have a problem with evil (or goodness deficiency).”

    Indeed you do have a problem! You have provided zero evidence of “evil” being “goodness deficiency”; furthermore, you have not mentioned the equally zero-evidence-based possibility that “goodness” is simply ‘evil deficiency’.

  426. Sophieon 08 May 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Honestly if you check out most of his writing you’ll notice some things. In the comments on this blog or his own blog posts, he doesn’t really say anything ever. He just lives in the abstract with loose definitions. He wants us to go to him and talk on his terms. But his terms are deepakisms. He also has kinda like a inflated self worth. He purposely uses the wrong adjective in lots of situations just to make it sound sophisticated. His lack of a clear stance on anything combined with this fake technobabble makes him like a sophist if anything. A new ager at best. At least Egnor stands up for what he believes in. Ian can’t even accept the Christian idea about god and claims we are the ones attacking a fake idea about god.

  427. TheGorillaon 09 May 2017 at 6:24 am

    Skeptic community as usual dismissing ground of existence god without any effort to engage and despite it being the western god concept among philosophers and theologians for centuries upon centuries.

  428. BillyJoe7on 09 May 2017 at 7:02 am

    The Ground of All Being

    😀

    “Sophisticated Theology” is completely irrelevant to the gods people actually believe in.
    And those theologians are completely blind to it.
    They deserve all the ridicule thay get.

  429. michaelegnoron 09 May 2017 at 8:36 am

    [Skeptic community as usual dismissing ground of existence god without any effort to engage and despite it being the western god concept among philosophers and theologians for centuries upon centuries.]

    Agree. What to me (and to many people, even people who are not theists) is the salient characteristic of “skeptics” and “New Atheists” is the absence of meaningful engagement of the issues raised by theology.

    What caused the universe? Christians have meticulous detailed answers, argued using rigorous logic for thousands of years. Skeptic/atheist answers? ‘Sh*t happened’. ‘Whatever.’

    How did living things become what they are? Christians have detailed answers in natural philosophy–teleology, four causes, a library full of scholastic learning about metaphysics of living things.

    Skeptics/atheists? ‘microbes just happened by chance in a warm little pond’ and ‘Survivors survived’.

    Skepticism and New Atheism are embarrassments to the intellectual community. It’s why it is always useful to engage them in debate: they don’t do well when their dogmas are examined critically. That’s why atheists like Dawkins and Myers run away from debates.

    I decided years ago, even before I became a Christian, that atheism was a joke and an embarrassment.

  430. Pete Aon 09 May 2017 at 8:49 am

    Well, I decided years ago, when I was religious, that religion was a joke and an embarrassment.

  431. michaelegnoron 09 May 2017 at 9:03 am

    @Pete:

    How can an accidental meat robot “decide” anything?

  432. Pete Aon 09 May 2017 at 9:15 am

    I agree, a religious person probably is an accidental meat robot that finds decision making very difficult 🙂

  433. mumadaddon 09 May 2017 at 9:37 am

    Admitting you don’t know is better that making shit up. Sticking to what can be inferred through reliable methods is better than sophisticated and internally consistent fantasy.

  434. mumadaddon 09 May 2017 at 9:41 am

    ME’s argument paraphrased: if you admit that science hasn’t answered the ultimate questions today, then you must also accept that theologians have managed to answer them based on what was understood 2300 years ago.

    Yep, sounds reasonable.

  435. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 10:20 am

    TheGorilla,

    Skeptic community as usual dismissing ground of existence god without any effort to engage and despite it being the western god concept among philosophers and theologians for centuries upon centuries.

    Ground of existence?? Hmm I don’t remember this from Sunday school, catholic elementary and high school. I also don’t remember this coming up in church, the Bible, sermons, lectures and the many debates I’ve watched online.

    Most Christians do not make simple monism claims about god. This is incorrect. This is also not the god promoted by the church itself. One of the criteria crucial to becoming a saint for example is an actual miracle.

    So where is this ground of being?

    Also it doesn’t matter at all if we are god’s dream, or we are parts of god himself. The PoE still exists, why are people starving to death right now. Why are there parasites and viruses that soley exist to cause immense human suffering? Viruses need our cells to multiply, why would a good god design that?

    Your monistic god isn’t powerful, all knowing or good. Therefore no one prays to him. No one invokes his name to recruit.

  436. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 10:23 am

    This is just the god you retreat to when your other ideas get challenged.

  437. mumadaddon 09 May 2017 at 10:31 am

    “This is just the god you retreat to when your other ideas get challenged.”

    Yep. When science has eroded everything specific and testable, retreat to an unfalsifiable position and declare it to be true.

  438. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 10:35 am

    It’s just shocking. Honestly. I don’t understand how intelligent people can retreat to this definition of god and claim that we are the ones behaving inappropriately. I’m trying to find the Vatican’s defintion of god right now but I’m actually having a hard time. So far every defintion from wiki, fundamentals of Chatholism sites fits what we are attacking in the PoE. I just want like one really good reference to point to in the future as the Catholic or at least mainstream Christian defintion of god.

  439. chikoppion 09 May 2017 at 10:42 am

    [michaelegnor] Agree. What to me (and to many people, even people who are not theists) is the salient characteristic of “skeptics” and “New Atheists” is the absence of meaningful engagement of the issues raised by theology.

    The “issues raised by theology?” Are any of those issues practical or meaningful to people who don’t consider theology a useful epistemology? Because I think there are a great number of topics that are intensely debated here.

    What caused the universe? Christians have meticulous detailed answers, argued using rigorous logic for thousands of years. Skeptic/atheist answers? ‘Sh*t happened’. ‘Whatever.’

    Ah, I see where this is going.

    Those “meticulous and rigorous answers” have turned out non-predictive every time we’ve had the opportunity to actually observe and test some aspect of reality. The “scientific” conclusions of theology (which is what “metaphysics” claims to be) have proven to be elaborate and motivated syllogisms based on existing historical or mythological biases, misunderstandings, and presuppositions.

    John Paull II:

    The matter is urgent. Contemporary developments in science challenge theology far more deeply than did the introduction of Aristotle into Western Europe in the thirteenth century. Yet these developments also offer to theology a potentially important resource. Just as Aristotelian philosophy, trough the ministry of such great scholars as St Thomas Aquinas, ultimately came to shape some of the most profound expressions of theological doctrine, so can we not hope that the sciences of today, along with all forms of human knowing, may invigorate and inform those parts of the theological enterprise that bear on the relation of nature, humanity and God?

    Theology has been defined as an effort of faith to achieve understanding, as fides quaerens intellectum. As such, it must be in vital interchange today with science just as it always has been with philosophy and other forms of learning. Theology will have to call on the findings of science to one degree or another as it pursues its primary concern for the human person, the reaches of freedom, the possibilities of Christian community, the nature of belief and the intelligibility of nature and history. The vitality and significance of theology for humanity will in a profound way be reflected in its ability to incorporate these findings.

    https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1988/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19880601_padre-coyne.html

    How the religious incorporate facts into their mythology (or vice versa) isn’t of particular concern to those who don’t start with that mythology as a premise or otherwise have a need to justify that mythology.

    Also, “sh*t happened. Whatever.” That is the opposite of the discussion being had. Acknowledging limits to our present knowledge is what drives curiosity and investigation. Pretending we know the answers simply because not knowing makes us uncomfortable, that would be a joke and embarrassment.

  440. Steve Crosson 09 May 2017 at 11:05 am

    michaelegnor: “How can an accidental meat robot “decide” anything?”

    That is actually an excellent question — to which you have no answer.

    Nor do any of the thousands of other religions. At least science appears to be making a little progress in understanding the explanation, while freely admitting all the things they don’t know yet.

    Wishful thinking is not an explanation for anything. A real explanation must provide sufficient understanding of the problem to allow accurate, reliable, TESTABLE predictions. No religion has ever done that. Although many people try to creatively re-interpret various “prophesies” to pretend that their religion is somehow more “true” than all of the competing, equally evidence-free, alternatives, no one has ever produced a convincing demonstration (except to the already-convinced true believers).

  441. mumadaddon 09 May 2017 at 11:30 am

    chikoppi: “How the religious incorporate facts into their mythology (or vice versa) isn’t of particular concern to those who don’t start with that mythology as a premise or otherwise have a need to justify that mythology.”

    Perfectly put — thanks.

  442. michaelegnoron 09 May 2017 at 2:16 pm

    @Steve:

    [A real explanation must provide sufficient understanding of the problem to allow accurate, reliable, TESTABLE predictions.]

    It’s true that a good scientific explanation must allow accurate…, but Christianity isn’t a scientific explanation. Christianity has scientific implications– that the universe is knowable, consistent, is rational, that it is good and desirable to know it, etc.

    It’s remarkable that modern science arose only–only–in Christian culture.

    And of course your dissatisfaction with Christianity as a scientific theory has nothing whatsoever to do with its truth or falsehood–things need not be scientific theories in order to be true. I love my wife and kids, although my love isn’t a scientific theory, I know it to be true–truer than any scientific theory.

    Why would you only believe something to be true if it can be scientifically ascertained? By what standard do you make the inference “only scientific propositions can be true”?

    Heck, even that proposition isn’t scientific, so it refutes itself.

    What you are proposing is a dumbed-down version of positivism, which is a quite thoroughly discredited metaphysical perspective.

  443. Pete Aon 09 May 2017 at 3:00 pm

    “… I know it to be true–truer than any scientific theory.”

    Says someone who’s using a communications system that relies on countless scientific theories being 100% true.

  444. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Michael,

    Your favourite ‘historian’, the sociologist of religion Rodney Stark, actually mentioned at the beginning of ‘the Triumph of Christianity’ one of the reasons why modern science originated in Western Europe – Europe (like Ancient Greece) was geographically difficult to unite politically, so historically there were numerous countries. If one country didn’t encourage the development of science, universities, technology and learning, then the next would and reap the benefits.

    Rodney Stark, like you, has a propensity for motivated reasoning. Both of you have no way of justifying your Christianity as being true, so you retreat to a nebulous ‘ground of being’ definition of God and try to make Christianity useful.

    Another reason (and i think the main one) is that Europe had glass and China had very fine porcelain. Glass is very useful for making very magnificent stained glass windows in cathedrals. It’s also essential for making lenses for microscopes and telescopes.

    Galileo’s telescope came directly from the technology developed for the Dutch wars of independence in the late 16th and early 17th centuries – it was very useful to be able to see and count your enemies at distances of kilometres when the effective range of muskets was less than 300 metres.

    The Dutch wars of independence were a result of the innate difficulty of uniting, and keeping united, Europe. And the Reformation.

    Microscopes allowed the discovery of the very small and the development of germ theory.

    The development of glass allowed the production of test tubes and glass flasks. Modern chemistry would be impossible without glass making it possible to easily see chemical reactions as they occurred.

    So glass allowed the development of astronomy (and the proof that the physics applying on Earth also apply elsewhere leading to modern physics), microbiology (and modern medicine) and chemistry.

    You have a very simpleminded understanding of history as shown by your errors regarding the Thirty Years War, including your assertion that Spain wasn’t involved.

    Christian theologians’ propensity for just thinking about stuff didn’t lead to science and technology. Rather it impeded it, as Galileo found out to his disadvantage.

  445. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 4:59 pm

    The roots of modern science are to be found in ancient Greece, not Jesus: Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Archimedes, Hippocrates, Galen, etc etc etc. Aristotle died in 322 BC. Christianity set modern scientific thinking back about 1000 years.

    But one thing I will admit, accidental meat robot would be an awesome name for a band. This may be Egnor’s most significant contribution to all discussions at this blog.

  446. Ian Wardellon 09 May 2017 at 5:35 pm

    @edamame
    Modern science wouldn’t have happened without a concept of God. At the birth of modern science in the 17th Century, there was, lingering on from medieval times, the belief that the world was full of meaning. It was believed that the world was teeming with supernatural causes where angels and demons, spirits, occult powers and mystical principles played a prominent role. So reality was believed to be mysterious, capricious and wholly beyond our ken. We could not hope to understand it. Certainly that we could not surpass the incredible achievements of the ancient Greek philosophers.

    But there was an idea percolating around in the 17th Century that if an omnipotent God had created the Cosmos, and we were the reason for its creation, would God not make the Cosmos amenable to human intellect? In particular, would he not make the cosmos operate according to well-defined laws that we might discern?

    Hence the birth of the mechanistic philosophy which underpinned the birth of modern science.

  447. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Edamame,

    Um… Galen wasn’t Ancient Greece. He died in Rome around 210 CE.

    I’m actually a little suspicious about attempts to push the roots of science into ancient times. Just because someone or another had some sort of atomic idea by just thinking about the nature of reality, their atomic hypothesis bears no relation to the modern concept. And didn’t lead anywhere.

    Now it’s ‘obvious’ that ordinary matter consists of atoms, but it wasn’t obvious to physicists of the 19th century (it was obvious to chemists though). Einstein in his 1905 wonder year in one of his papers on Brownian motion provided a proof for atomic theory. And settled the question.

  448. Steve Crosson 09 May 2017 at 5:44 pm

    michaelegnor:

    “It’s remarkable that modern science arose only–only–in Christian culture. ”

    Most impartial historians disagree with that statement, but even if we pretend that it is partially true, so what?

    Simple correlation does not equal causation. As bachfiend pointed out, there are many factors that could and probably did have an effect. Perhaps “time” most of all. Science is clearly iterative and depends on past discoveries to move forward. Probably a certain amount of luck was involved and being in the right place at the right time.

    It is just as likely that it is mere coincidence, although we can also argue that Christianity has often actively discouraged science. Galileo, anyone ???

    “Why would you only believe something to be true if it can be scientifically ascertained? By what standard do you make the inference “only scientific propositions can be true”?”

    Your words, not mine. OF COURSE some things can be true without being scientifically validated. BUT, and this is a huge BUT, until and unless they are scientifically validated, we don’t have any reasonable justification for “believing” them to be true.

    Faith is worse than useless as a way of determining truth. Billions of people have faith in thousands of different, often completely incompatible religions. Clearly faith has mislead most or even all of them.

    Benny Hinn has been in the news recently. I assume you recognize him as an obvious con artist and liar. Or how about Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, even Mohamed — millions, even billions have “faith” in their pronouncements, but their faith has deluded them and led them to clearly unjustified belief.

    Face it. We know at least some religions must be wrong. And that some are clearly the work of human con artists. But NO religion has ever been able to provide ANY reasonable evidence to prove that their own version is true.

    You can’t even legitimately prove that Christianity is any more true than Scientology or Latter Day Saints. They all have books and historical “witnesses”, etc. But books can be wrong and people make mistakes or even lie.

    Without a modern day, genuine and verifiable miracle, you have ZERO justification for your beliefs. People fool themselves all the time. Without science (at least until we come up with a better tool), we have no way to determine if something is likely to be true and reasonable to believe.

  449. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Ian,

    Yeah right. Europe before the 17th century was pagan, ‘teeming with supernatural causes where angels and demons, spirits, occult powers and mystical principles played a prominent role’.

    So before the 17th century Christianity didn’t have much of a role?

    Remind me again when Jesus was supposedly crucified? And when Christianity became the state religion?

  450. Ian Wardellon 09 May 2017 at 5:50 pm

    bachfiend
    “Now it’s ‘obvious’ that ordinary matter consists of atoms”.

    Oh yes? What if reality is a simulation?

    Don’t just assume that scientific theories necessarily depict a literal state of affairs.

  451. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    “Oh yes? What if reality is a simulation?”

    What if reality is secretly spun by an legion of unicorns? They fly around and weave the tapestry of reality.

    It makes sense to assume atoms exist. Even if you believe in a simulation, it’s clearly really obvious that atoms “seem” to exist or are “simulated.” Scoffing at a skeptic and mocking them for saying atoms exist is pretty bankrupt. Atomic theory allows us to make predictions and technologies based on it. Clearly atoms exist or they appear to exist and are “simulated” either way, once again your comment is pointless.

  452. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 6:08 pm

    bachfiend thanks for catching my error on Galen brain fart.

    I’m saying that saying the view that Christianity gave birth to science, like this was some shocking new unexpected thing, is simplistic. Science already existed in ancient Greece, and those are the real roots of science. Further, I would claim that Christianity actively inhibited its natural growth for about 1000 years.

    I wasn’t making a simple inference like “There were atomists in ancient Greece therefore science was born there.”

    The scientific way of thinking, axiomatizing, formalizing, and systematizing knowledge was all there (did I forget to mention Euclid? Oops. Replace Galen with Euclid. 🙂 ).
    https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Ancient-Natural-Scientists-Tradition/dp/0415340209/

    That mathematical/axiomatic approach exemplified in modern physics was already there in Euclid, and was emulated explicitly by Descartes, Leibniz, and Newton (Newton was heavily influenced by Euclid and Descartes, both of whom he closely studied).

    Ian you don’t need an idea of God to want to systematize etc. Look at Euclid. Plus the Greeks weren’t, in general, atheistic culturally. So even if you are right in your thinking, which I don’t believe (you don’t need an idea of God to have an idea of laws), it wouldn’t negate Greek origins. Anaxamenes, Anaxagoras, and Anaximander all already had this urge. They didn’t need Judeo-Christian gods to do this.

  453. Ian Wardellon 09 May 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Sophie
    “It makes sense to assume atoms exist. Even if you believe in a simulation, it’s clearly really obvious that atoms “seem” to exist or are “simulated.””

    Think of a computer game environment. The character you control approaches a house. It gets bigger and bigger until the individual bricks are discernible. Now, would it truly be the case that the house is *really* made of those bricks? Of course not. The bricks didn’t actually exist until they were discernible.

    It seems that reality can be compartmentalised in numerous ways. In other words many different mutually incompatible theories can describe the exact some macroscopic state of affairs. It is surely unreasonable to suppose any one of those theories depict what is really happening and the rest of the other theories do not.

  454. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    If you could make reasonable calculations and predictions based on the characteristics of the video game then it doesn’t really matter if atoms or tiny bricks really exist. Science isn’t about “what really exists” it’s about models and theories that generate useful predictions and allow us to do cool things like make computer games.

  455. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Edamame,

    Another critical factor in the development of science (and mathematics) was the invention of Arabic numerals in India. And its dissemination into Europe by Muslims.

    Without Arabic numerals you can’t imagine the very large or the very small. You can’t divide reality into infinitesimals so as to have a concept of atoms. Without infinitesimals, concepts of matter was just mixtures of a limited number of elements. And disease was just due to imbalances in a limited number of humours (another reason why glass in microscopes was so important).

    Euclidean geometry is just idealised mathematics. Spherical geometry is much more useful for someone living on a spherical planet (and which was developed by Muslims in order to determine the direction of Mecca).

    I don’t think that the Ancient Greeks should be given too much credit, interesting story though it is.

  456. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 6:58 pm

    bachfiend: fair enough. I should be clear that I’m saying that some of the roots of modern science are to be found in ancient Greece, not all of the roots. While I am in general not a huge fan of Richard Carrier, he is actually pretty knowledgeable specifically about this topic:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq_E2R_hvTY

    If you look at the trajectory from Greek to Roman science, what you see is an explosion that tragically was cut short, and not aided, by the fall of Rome, and not aided by the rise of Christianity.

    But yes you are right, there are more roots than just the Greek roots. My post completely ignores Chinese, Indian, and Arabic contributions, and that’s sort of a travesty.

    But note my point isn’t that Euclidean geometry was right (we all know the story there), as much as the Euclidean axiomatic method. This had a *huge* effect on the development on modern science and is still emulated by many physicists (e.g., in quantum mechanics), and was emulated by Descartes, Leibniz, and Newton.

    I also recognize that Christianity was probably one of the strands in the complex explanatory web. You have pointed out other potential technological strands (e.g. glass lenses is a nice one).

    One huge conceptual was the development also is the development of the concept of a function, and the calculus (Newton and Leibniz).

    The printing press. Etc..

  457. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 7:10 pm

    This looks interesting, reading it now:
    http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12361

  458. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 7:12 pm

    edamame,

    [previously] Science already existed in ancient Greece, and those are the real roots of science.
    [now] I should be clear that I’m saying that someof the roots of modern science are to be found in ancient Greece, not all of the roots.

    I don’t feel so bad for giving you a harsh treatment for flat out ignoring me and repeatedly lying about what Russell wrote in The History of Western Philosophy. I now see that lying comes naturally to you.

    So are “real roots” just “some roots?”

  459. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 7:12 pm

    It’s really good.

  460. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 7:16 pm

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_China

    Hmm. Some roots over here too. I guess these aren’t the real roots though. Either that or edamame made a mistake and lied to cover it up. Just like telling me that Russell didn’t explicitly warn future philosophy students to stay away from Aristotle and his disciplines.

  461. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Sophie: ignoring the pathological parts of your post: I see the Greeks as the main river, the others as tributaries. Not every root goes back to Greece. I left out tributaries like Arabic, Chinese, Indian influences (and other technological and conceptual contributions) and overstated the Greek influence. But I do see that as the main one. I frankly don’t see how you would see any other as the main (e.g., Arabic numerals notwithstanding). Give me another candidate.

    Richard Carrier’s essay I just posted is pretty good, and largely how I look at it.
    http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12361

  462. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Yep all cute justifications. You sill can’t admit that real roots and some roots mean totally different things. Also You still lied about was Russell said about Aristotle. calling my pathological is fine. At least I didn’t lie and admit when I make mistakes. How about when Pete told you how you need at minimum three outcomes for most modern logical systems? Did that not shatter your simplistic understanding of logic? Or is he pathological too?

  463. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Edamame,

    ‘The printing press. Etc..’

    Actually, the printing press was yet another major factor in the development of modern science and ways of thinking.

    The printing press was the most dangerous invention for rulers. In Europe, with its lack of unified government, printers could set up printing presses almost anywhere. If someone came up with a very good idea and put it into print in a pamphlet, anyone could steal the idea and print it elsewhere.

    Rulers would have loved to have banned the printing press and prevented the dissemination of critical views. It’s easier to rule if you have a priestly caste telling their ‘sheep’ that their rulers are ordained by their god. Something much easier to do in unified systems, such as in China. And the Islamic world.

    One of Martin Luther’s heretical ideas was to provide translations of the Bible in the local language so that the common person could read it without the mediation of priests. The King James Version was published only after William Tyndale had been strangled and burned at the stake for translating and printing an English Bible.

    All the Catholic Church could think of doing was putting books on the banned list.

  464. michaelegnoron 09 May 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Ed:

    [Science already existed in ancient Greece, and those are the real roots of science.]

    No. Technology existed in Greece, and Rome, and China, and many places. In fact, much of Europe was behind places like China in technology for centuries.

    I am not referring to technology. I mean modern science, which is a very different thing.

    Modern science is an investigation of the way nature works according to laws, usually laws expressed mathematically. Modern science is the investigation of the underlying principles that govern nature, not merely the construction of useful things, which has flourished in many civilizations.

    Modern science began with Albert Magnus and Roger Bacon in the 13th century, and spread rapidly in Christendom over the next several centuries. Then came Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and the explosion of scientific theory culminating in Faraday and Maxwell and then in the 20th century.

    It was all Christian. None of it happened in China, or Africa, or in Islamic countries. All of it was in Chrisitan civilization.

    It was because Christianity creates an environment in which people look for design in nature–they look for purposes and rational laws, which was the real catalyst for the Scientific Revolution.

    It is not about technology. Modern science cooperates with technological advancement, but it is something quite different and remarkable. And it only arose once, in one culture–Christian culture.

  465. chikoppion 09 May 2017 at 9:51 pm

    [michaelegnor] Modern science is an investigation of the way nature works according to laws, usually laws expressed mathematically. Modern science is the investigation of the underlying principles that govern nature, not merely the construction of useful things, which has flourished in many civilizations.

    It was because Christianity creates an environment in which people look for design in nature–they look for purposes and rational laws, which was the real catalyst for the Scientific Revolution.

    The tools and methodologies of investigation got better. The epistemological concept itself dates well back to, and is recorded in, the classic world.

    Cicero, in De Fato*, lays out the Stoic theory of causality and actually equates fate with antecedent causes. Chrysippus had argued that there is no possibility of motion without causes, deducing that therefore everything has a cause. This concept of universal causality led the Stoics to accept divination as a branch of physics, not a superstition, as explained again by Cicero in De Divinatione, and this makes sense once one understands the Stoic view of the cosmos: predicting the future is not something that one does by going outside the laws of physics, but by intelligently exploiting such laws.

    Metaphysically the Stoics were determinists (Frede 2003). Here is Cicero: “[the Stoics] say, that it is impossible, when all the circumstances surrounding both the cause and that of which it is a cause are the same, that things should not turn out a certain way on one occasion but that they should turn out that way on some other occasion” (De Fato, 199.22-25). The Stoics did have a concept of chance, but they thought of it (much like modern scientists) as a measure of human ignorance: random events are simply events whose causes are not understood by humans.

    * 44bce

  466. edamameon 09 May 2017 at 9:51 pm

    It’s great that someone who thinks the Inquisition wasn’t vigorous enough wants to claim Galileo as the brainchild of the Church. The Greeks had trigonometry, geometry, optics, biology, physics, astronomy. Do you even know who Ptolemy was?

    Modern science has roots that predate Christendom, much of it directly channeling from the Greeks. Read the history. As bachfiend has pointed out there are many other roots as well. The Church is in the mix, but this notion that inference about law, and cause, and meaning, and purpose started there is utter nonsense. Look no further than Aristotle, Anaximenes, Democritus, etc..

    Read this book, and then come talk to us:
    https://www.amazon.com/History-Philosophy-Vol-Pre-Socratics-Plotinus/dp/0385468431/

  467. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Michael,

    No, no, no. You’re still engaging in the Egnor Evasion.

    Modern science didn’t develop in Europe because of Christianity. It developed in Europe despite Christianity.

    Europeans were a remarkably fractious lot, with a lot of internecine strife. Including the Reformation.

    Modern science arose in Europe for many reasons, including the technology of glass allowing the manufacture of microscopes, telescopes and glass test tubes and flasks (facilitating astronomy, microbiology and chemistry), the introduction of Arabic numerals into Europe by Muslims from India and the printing press.

    The Ancient Greeks didn’t have much technology, but they did have science. It wasn’t stillborn in Greece, but it certainly was murdered by Christians when they gained power after the fall of the western Roman Empire.

    If Christianity was so important, then why didn’t science flourish in the Christianity of the eastern Roman Empire between the fall of Rome and the fall of Constantinople?

    Repeating the views of your favourite pseudohistorian and sociologist of religion Rodney Stark doesn’t help your argument. And illustrates perfectly the Egnor Evasion.

    You’re remarkably ignorant about a lot of things. And you’re happy to be ignorant.

  468. Sophieon 09 May 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Edamame,

    The problems Russell claimed to have found are corner cases that will very rarely come up in any ordinary argument context, and would very rarely be used in practice.

    This statement of yours, along with the numerous repetitions, is completely wrong. And to think we get so frustrated with Egnor for repeating the same false claim.

    Russell didn’t claim to find anything, the problems he mentioned are well known by modern logicians. I’m no expert, but even I remembered from college math that entirely new systems of logic had to be developed precisely because of the failures of classic logic.

    I’m not ignoring alternative opinions. I know the mainstream position on Aristotle. I’ve seen the hero worship in all kinds of different textbooks and heard his name praised in many lectures. As a modern intellectual it’s my job to push the unpopular opinions, everyone else is already out there repeating the mainstream narrative. Everyone already knows how influential Aristotle was, but they don’t know the details of the history of logic or the problems with his system.

    In The History of Western Philosophy Russell wrote a chapter on Aristotle’s logic. He describes it as the beginning of classical logic, but laments over the fact that it was also the end of classical logic. Because of the timing it was just taken as authoritative for millennia afterwards. He provides a short summary of the problems with Aristotle’s logic. Concludes the system is completely false. Then he ends the chapter with a warning to future logicians. Saying that they will be wasting their time by reading Aristotle or any of his disciples. He also says that Aristotle’s disciples essentially stifled scientific progress.

    The reason none of these problems are mentioned in your philosophy encyclopedia entry for Aristotle is because he is an influential historical figure crucial to the development of Western Philosophy. We like to just mention the big contributions of our intellectual heroes, and not dwell on the fact that they were likely slave-owning, racist, misogynistic pederasts. It’s quite the scandal in philosophy/history class when students discover these things and distracts from what the prof is teaching.

    All this was relevant to the discussion because Egnor is a huge fan of Aquinas and Aristotle. All creationists and intelligent design proponents are huge fans too. When I bring up problems with 2400 year old logic no one really cares. Egnor even went so far as to say that modern philosophy is useless.

    Egnor already admitted that Aquinas and Aristotle didn’t know the biology of fetal development. Why is it so much further of a stretch to acknowledge that they didn’t have the best logic? Or physics, cosmology etc.

    It’s interesting that Egnor, a modern neurosurgeon, relies on Aristotelian logic from 2400 years ago. These thinking tools are outdated and have since been replaced with much better systems.

    Egnor the neurosurgeon, claiming that he knows philosophy and logic better than modern philosophers and logicians is ridiculous on its face. It would be like me claiming that I know neurosurgery better than him, and that trepanning is a much better surgical method.

    Why use all those silly modern tools and surgical methods? All you need is drill a hole into a human skull, done deal.

  469. bachfiendon 09 May 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Sophie,

    I’ve never read any Bertrand Russell. Now is a good time to start.

    Sigh… too many books, not enough time…

  470. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 12:11 am

    Bachfiend,

    It’s kinda dated now but yeah it’s interesting. He tried to be like the Richard Dawkins of his day and write books for the public. There’s a lot of quotes of his floating around online. But it’s interesting that he thought Aristotle and his disciples messed with science and the progression of philosophy. It’s a compelling argument.

  471. Lightnotheaton 10 May 2017 at 2:57 am

    As a young teen I loved Bertrand Russell. In his books for the general public he was great at humorously cutting through bs with a few choice words. I remember somebody asking him about a debate he had with some religious figure and he apologized that all he could remember was that his young son was in agony from an ailment and the guy he was debating kept saying that all pain was a punishment fo sin.

    And, I’m going to have to suck it up and make time for this; once again I’ve contributed very little to a discussion I think I could have added a lot to.

    And once again, Chikoppi has impressed me. Saying so much with so few words, utterly destroying sophistry.

  472. Ian Wardellon 10 May 2017 at 8:39 am

    Unbelievable that “atheists” insist this asinine definition of God as a superbeing is the only one worth talking about. The type of God that intellectuals have believed in throughout history? Bollocks to that, they only want to address the “god” that people believe in who have never entertained a philosophical thought in their lives!

    The thing is, I’m in total and complete agreement with atheists. I find their concept of “god” to be utterly ridiculous. So I’m in entire agreement with you guys. But it’s wrong to label yourselves atheists. Atheists have to reject sensible conceptions of God too, not just asinine conceptions.

  473. chikoppion 10 May 2017 at 9:46 am

    Sensible conceptions of God?

    [Ian Wardell] I think that “God” is impossible to define, but if pressed I would say that God is an all-embracing infinite consciousness that is both self-subsistent and transcendental, who is not a thing in the Universe, but rather the Universe exists within God, who is both creator and sustainer of all things, and who endows literally everything with an ultimate, and to all sentient beings were we to be adequately wise, a singularly superlative purpose.

    A sensible concept is not “impossible to define.” To simply label “everything” as God is a useless premise that presents no consequential insight as it is indistinguishable from a universe in which no god(s) exists.

    There is no need to refute a non-consequential premise. Everyone is in agreement that a) the universe exists, b) the behaviors and interactions of energy and matter appear consistent. Anthropomorphizing the universe and naming it “Joe-Bob” does nothing to increase our understanding.

  474. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 11:16 am

    Ian Wardell,

    The thing is, I’m in total and complete agreement with atheists.

    The only way you can say this is if you don’t understand the word Atheism. Here’s the definition:

    atheism [ey-thee-iz-uh m] noun 1 the doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2 disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    Your previous comments do not acknowledge that there is no God, in fact they explicitly outline a monistic universe where god is the universe itself.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_theology

    Catholicism holds that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and Good. That’s all we need in order to formulate the Problem of Evil.

    We are not attacking some made up superhero God we are attacking the basic concept of any God with those 3 qualities. People do not pray to the substance of the universe. They pray to a god who can heal them when they are sick, save them from a crisis and help them pass a test. This God they pray to has powers, causes miracles and loves his followers. We all know that God doesn’t always do these things, and as atheists we are not criticizing him for not saving every drowning person. We are simply saying that the entire concept is flawed. As Pete A added, Why would a good God create hell for example, it only exists to torture an imperfect creation. He is also omniscient some he knew when he made those inhabits of hell, that he was making them for the ultimate purpose of them spending an eternity in hell. Why would a good God do this? Why would he create parasitic organisms that only exist to cause tremendous human suffering?

  475. Ian Wardellon 10 May 2017 at 11:31 am

    @Sophie, I said I’m in total agreement with “atheists”, not atheism.

    chikoppi, I said I feel that God is an infinite consciousness, not everything. God is not the physical world. God, if “he” exists, is that which lies behind and is responsible for the physical world’s second by second existence.

  476. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    @Sophie, I said I’m in total agreement with “atheists”, not atheism.

    You can’t be total agreement with members of a specific ideological group but not, at least partially, agree with he ideology. Here’s some logically equivalent statements:
    I’m in total agreement with theists, not theism.
    I’m in total agreement with Catholics, not Catholicism.
    I’m in total agreement with aunicornists, not aunicornism.
    I’m in total agreement with cannibals, not cannibalism.

    You refuse to learn anything in these discussions. You can’t even take a stand for what you believe in.

  477. Pete Aon 10 May 2017 at 1:04 pm

    “God, if ‘he’ exists, is that which lies behind …”

    “lies behind” LOL!

  478. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 1:46 pm

    To be honest, I don’t even know what Ian is talking about half the time. I can’t see anything other than Deepak statements and new age nonsense. He never really elaborates on anything or clearly defines his terms.

    Every single time he replies he says he is misunderstood and that it’s us who are using the wrong defintions. It’s frustrating, if he is being genuine, he really thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. Just a tortured genius.

  479. mumadaddon 10 May 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Ian,

    Unbelievable that “atheists” insist this asinine definition of God as a superbeing is the only one worth talking about. The type of God that intellectuals have believed in throughout history? Bollocks to that, they only want to address the “god” that people believe in who have never entertained a philosophical thought in their lives!

    Let me try to explain this again. This isn’t a point about atheists in general, but the people to whom you are addressing your comments on this blog: such that we have a concept of god it is what is posited by others (for the most part it is what they believe in); most of us think that for answering questions about the nature of reality you need to be able to make testable predictions and follow the evidence. We accept as the most likely explanation for any given phenomenon those explanations derived through this method, and refrain from inserting other explanations that we find personally satisfying. We have no need to formulate our own version of god, because there is no god discovered by or required for the natural explanations we have accepted as the most likely to be true.

    Michael Egnor has been pushing the Christian god as an explanation for all sorts of natural phenomena — e.g. evolution, consciousness, morality — and we have been arguing against the god that he has proposed. As and when somebody asserts the god-as-the-ground-of-all-being, we will argue against that god, using different arguments and for different reasons.

    I already linked to a thread on this blog, and in which you participated (!), where somebody advanced that kind of god and commenters, me included, argued against that god. And that was but one thread I happened to be able to recall of the top of my head.

    Surely you understand that we are only arguing against what is put forward by others, and the gods that are put forward less often will be argued against less often?

  480. mumadaddon 10 May 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Ian,

    “God, if “he” exists, is that which lies behind and is responsible for the physical world’s second by second existence.”

    And this notion is one which was discussed previously on the thread that I linked to, and in which you participated (!). It’s right there in black and white.

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-science-of-god/

    Do you have retrograde amnesia or something??

  481. Pete Aon 10 May 2017 at 2:54 pm

    It isn’t at all surprising that Ian Wardell does not engage with Dr Michael Egnor.

    Ian’s comments on this blog, and his articles on his own blog, consist mainly of straw-manning atheism and 20th- and 21st-century science.

    Ian’s intellectual capacity is similar to that of a concrete mixer, however, only one of those two entities produces useful output.

  482. Ian Wardellon 10 May 2017 at 3:45 pm

    @Mumadadd Where on that thread did I discuss this?

    Sophie
    “You can’t be total agreement with members of a specific ideological group but not, at least partially, agree with he ideology”.

    I can. There’s nothing remotely problematic about this since those that label themselves “atheists” only disbelieve in the most ludicrous type of “god” imaginable. This includes professional philosophers who are “atheists”. I write about this on my blog:

    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/a-ridiculous-conception-of-god-part-2.html

  483. mumadaddon 10 May 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Ian,

    “Where on that thread did I discuss this?”

    I did not say that YOU discussed this, but that you participated in the thread.

    You are saying that WE do not
    address “sophisticated” god concepts, e.g. in your last comment:

    “There’s nothing remotely problematic about this since those that label themselves “atheists” only disbelieve in the most ludicrous type of “god” imaginable.”

    I would think that any reasonable person would retract that statement when linked to direct contradictory evidence but, well, we know your problems with evidence.

  484. bachfiendon 10 May 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Ian,

    All you’ve done is taken naturalism, called it God, and then added nebulous unverifiable ‘intelligence’ and ‘consciousness’ to the Universe.

    Your concept of God, if it’s a concept, is not worth worshipping or fearing. So it only deserves to be ignored.

    Egnor has his Egnor Evasion. Gish has his Gish Gallop. You have your Wardell Waffle.

  485. Ian Wardellon 10 May 2017 at 4:27 pm

    mumadadd

    “You are saying that WE do not
    address “sophisticated” god concepts, e.g. in your last comment”

    I’ve never seen any atheists address anything but the most ludicrous conceptions of “god”. I don’t appreciate continually having to repeat myself…

  486. Pete Aon 10 May 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Critical Thinking mini-lesson 9, by the late Professor Robert Todd Carroll, PhD:
    QUOTE
    straw man fallacy

    One of the characteristics of a cogent refutation of an argument is that the argument one is refuting be represented fairly and accurately. To distort or misrepresent an argument one is trying to refute is called the straw man fallacy. It doesn’t matter whether the misrepresentation or distortion is accidental and due to misunderstanding the argument or is intentional and aimed at making it easier to refute. Either way, one commits the straw man fallacy.

    In other words, the attacker of a straw man argument is refuting a position of his own creation, not the position of someone else. The refutation may appear to be a good one to someone unfamiliar with the original argument. [my emphasis]
    http://skepdic.com/refuge/ctlessons/lesson9.html

  487. chikoppion 10 May 2017 at 5:29 pm

    [Ian Wardell] I’ve never seen any atheists address anything but the most ludicrous conceptions of “god”. I don’t appreciate continually having to repeat myself…

    That’s on you. mumadadd provided a link…

    [Jeff] The proof revolves around the metaphysical constructs of conditioned realities and unconditioned realities. It proves by disjunctive syllogism that all conditioned realities ultimately rely on an unconditioned reality (e.g. God) as the basis for their existence

  488. bachfiendon 10 May 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Ian,

    The concept of God most Christians worship – a personal God, who listens to prayers (and occasionally answers them), takes an interest in humans and gets very angry at their misuse of their sexual parts – isn’t ludicrous.

    It’s your Bob-Joe concept of the Universe as God that’s ludicrous. Come up with a non-ludicrous concept of God, and we’ll discuss it.

  489. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Ian is so dishonest. It’s unbelievable.

    The PoE just requires any god to be: (1) omipotent (2) omniscient (3) good. Some versions require even less.

    Ian claims we are attacking a ridiculous god, but gods with those qualities are what almost everyone prays to. I really wish he had something to say instead of just repeating that we are so silly.

    Ian god is not a god anyone prays to, he thinks he’s speaking from a position of authority or from an appeal to popularity but he’s 100% wrong. People believe in the god atheists attack! That’s the point.

  490. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 6:34 pm

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil

    The problem of evil refers to the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God (see theism). An argument from evil attempts to show that the co-existence of evil and such a God is unlikely or impossible. Attempts to show the contrary have traditionally been discussed under the heading of theodicy. Besides philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is also important to the field of theology and ethics.

    The Christian god is all powerful, all knowing and filled with love. The PoE shows that this can’t possibly be the case. Because bad things happen all the time to good people. Churches collapse on top of parishioners. Etc.

    Do 5 seconds of research. Why would any of us want to read a blog written by someone who doesn’t do basic research?

  491. Pete Aon 10 May 2017 at 6:41 pm

    “Ian is so dishonest. It’s unbelievable.”

    It isn’t the slightest bit unbelievable to those of us who’ve read all of his his comments on this blog, and his articles on his own blog 🙂

  492. mumadaddon 10 May 2017 at 9:31 pm

    “I’ve never seen any atheists address anything but the most ludicrous conceptions of “god”. I don’t appreciate continually having to repeat myself…”

    Says Ian on a thread in which his own conception of god has been addressed, thereby admitting that his own conception of god is ludicrous, and proving himself to have a poor grip on reality.

    Ian, you thought you had a nice point but it’s been dedemolished, and instead of conceding that and moving on, for some reason you’ve chosen to continue denying the obvious and stick to your guns.

    I expect we’re about to see the tradmarked “you don’t understand my arguments, off I go in an indignant huff ” Wardell threat exit (threaxit?).

  493. Sophieon 10 May 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Oh how the enlightened are so misunderstood.

  494. mumadaddon 11 May 2017 at 1:36 am

    Ian,

    “I write about this on my blog:”

    Why do you keep linking to your blog in place of making arguments here, when you have been told repeatedly that it’s poor form and nobody is interested in your blog?

    It’s getting weird now, and it doesn’t paint your personality in a positive light.

    It looks like a transparent effort to drive traffic to your blog and generate comments there.

    And the thing is, your blog is rubbish. It’s like if I tried to start my own blog, imagining myself to have the sceptical chops of Steve Novella, and kept jumping on Alvin Plantinga’s comment threads (if he had them) and linking to my blog.

    And you act as though you have the definitive word on these topics, and all you need to do is direct people to your hallowed writings. You don’t, and there are much more articulate and intellectually rigourous proponents of the positions you espouse.

    You need to better align your self image with reality.

  495. BillyJoe7on 11 May 2017 at 8:18 am

    Michael Egnor,

    If you were God, would you let children get done cancer?

  496. BillyJoe7on 11 May 2017 at 8:18 am

    …um…bone cancer

  497. Lightnotheaton 11 May 2017 at 5:02 pm

    There is no way I can think of to logically disprove the solipsistic argument that everything in the universe came into existence one second ago, complete with all our memories and records of the past. But who cares? Even if it’s true, it makes zero difference going forward as everything continues acting exactly as it would if the past really did exist.

    Ian’s God is kind of like that….

  498. BillyJoe7on 11 May 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Lightnotheat,

    Off topic, but that is also a good argument for the nature of identity. Suppose it was not the whole universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced. Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.

  499. mumadaddon 11 May 2017 at 5:59 pm

    BJ7,

    “You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.”

    I know you didn’t mean that. If you could overlay the same memories into two embodied brains that had been grown in two different vats, each with differing levels of testosterone (for example), you might get a different response in a stress situation. Do they both have the same identity? Or is boldness more a part of one brain’s identity than the other’s?

  500. mumadaddon 11 May 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Actually I misspoke, sorry. At the point of overlay the testosterone would have had no effect. Excuse me, BJ7.

    I typed a load of stuff about how brain chemistry interferes with identity but ultimately realised that it would have to feed into the remembered self and therefore doesn’t invalidate memory as identity.

    Sorry about that — brain fart.

  501. Sophieon 11 May 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Identity is not memory. We went through this already. People with amnesia still have an identity. You can have an identity and still have no autobiographical memory. You would still know that you are you and that Wall isn’t you. Along with many other things people with amensia can do.

  502. mumadaddon 11 May 2017 at 6:46 pm

    “People with amnesia still have an identity.”

    Yeah, I seem to remember something about people with Korsakoff’s still having personality traits and actually being able to form semantic memories. Still not a ‘remembered self’ — if that is how one defines identity.

  503. Sophieon 11 May 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Billy has a way of speaking with absolute certainty about things. There’s a few different defintions of identity. He’s specifically referring to autobiographical memory and equating with self-identity. Which is not exactly fair. You are so much more than how you define yourself and remember your life. You can have a sense of your identity even when you are just barely conscious, drunk, or concussed. Any kind of awareness can be interpreted as a type of self-identiy. If you feel pain, you are the thing that hurts.

  504. mumadaddon 11 May 2017 at 7:37 pm

    I dunno, Sophie, I think you’re straying into properties more often associated with consciousness (as in the functions of) rather than ‘identity’. I think your definition is the more obscure one.

    But can you link to a set of definitions of identity you would would find compelling? I’ve been going off-the-cuff till now and want to consider an expanded version.

  505. Sophieon 11 May 2017 at 7:52 pm

    He just said identity. He didn’t specify, there are many types. If I lose all my memories I still have an identity, my family will call me Soph and show me my ID and say this is who I am. I might even still crave cool ranch chips, and be a similar personality type.

    Personality is largely not a conscious thing, you don’t “remember” to be an extrovert or an introvert, you just are, it has nothing to do with autobiographical memory. And no one here would disagree that personality is a part of someone’s “identity” — broadly speaking.

  506. CKavaon 12 May 2017 at 2:23 am

    Come on Sophie,

    Did you really think when BJ said “You are you because of your memories” that he was suggesting if you lost your personal memories no-one else would recognise you? That seems to be a rather clear misrepresentation of his point.

    It also seems a completely pointless nit to pick. A lot of degenerative diseases are so horrific precisely because they damage people’s memory, which is often described by people in their early stage and their family as a process of robbing them of their identity. And no I’m not saying that semantic memories are completely irrelevant to a sense of self or that a person has no social identity whatsoever even if they lose all autobiographical recall. None of that undoes the fact that if you were to lose all personal memories your self identity would be fundamentally transformed.

    BTW, congratulations on your truly heroic battles with Egnor and Ian Wardell. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if someone were to join the blog in the next comment thread and lecture you and all other long term commentators for not treating them fairly when they inevitably repeat the exact same arguments/tactics as above? It happens more than you might think.

  507. bachfiendon 12 May 2017 at 2:54 am

    I’d say that identity is a combination of the effects from genetics and experience (or nature and nurture).

    Autobiographical memories aren’t particularly important, especially since they’re largely manufactured rather than being retrieved. As an example, I spent 7 years in a primary school over 50 years ago. It must have had a significant influence on the sort of person I am. But I can’t remember any specific incident occurring during my time there. My memories of attending the primary school are more of semantic nature. I know that I attended this school because I lived just 2 blocks away.

    I tend to agree with Sophie. Identity is largely unconscious. Episodic memories occur in the present and are largely confabulated. Experiences change the internal wiring of the brain, affecting both the conscious and unconscious mind. Neurodegenerative diseases don’t just affect the conscious processes including the retrieval of memories, but they also affect the unconscious processes, including personality and emotions. There are no neurodegerative diseases affecting only conscious processes, such as memory.

    By definition, conscious processes are the only ones available to self examination, but it doesn’t mean that the unexamined unconscious processes aren’t very important.

  508. CKavaon 12 May 2017 at 3:28 am

    Access to all memories occur in the present, that is not a special property of episodic recall.

    I don’t see how pointing to a hazily recalled childhood memory demonstrates that autobiographical memories are not particularly relevant to identity formation. The fact that ALL memories are prone to degradation, confabulation, modification, etc., also doesn’t make them unimportant or completely unreliable. I might not remember every detail of my wedding day but I remember who I married, I remember I have a kid, I remember my job, etc. Take away all such personally salient memories, none of which I inherited genetically, and I would have a very different self-identity. This doesn’t really seem like it should be such a controversial point.

    I agree with you that unconscious processes impact self-identity but I don’t see that undercutting the importance of autobiographical memory to self-identity. From my reading of the memory research I think there is a pretty strongly established link between autobiographical recall and self-identity but am always willing to revise my position. Are there any relevant (and good quality) papers/other sources you would recommend that demonstrate how unimportant autobiographical memories are to self-identity?

  509. bachfiendon 12 May 2017 at 5:12 am

    CKava,

    To put it another way, I think biography is very important in forming identity, but autobiography isn’t, and that autobiography is strongly affected by identity, so that the causal chain is actually reversed.

  510. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 5:30 am

    It looks like there is a generally accepted definition of ‘identity’ in the field of pyschology.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_(social_science)

    In psychology, identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person (self-identity) or group (particular social category or social group). The process of identity can be creative or destructive.[1]

    A psychological identity relates to self-image (one’s mental model of oneself), self-esteem, and individuality. Consequently, Weinreich gives the definition “A person’s identity is defined as the totality of one’s self-construal, in which how one construes oneself in the present expresses the continuity between how one construes oneself as one was in the past and how one construes oneself as one aspires to be in the future”; this allows for definitions of aspects of identity, such as: “One’s ethnic identity is defined as that part of the totality of one’s self-construal made up of those dimensions that express the continuity between one’s construal of past ancestry and one’s future aspirations in relation to ethnicity” (Weinreich, 1986a).

    I don’t see how you can remove autobiographical memory and still have identity — that’s not to say that identity is purely based on autobiographical memory, but it seems to be the central tenet.

  511. BillyJoe7on 12 May 2017 at 9:37 am

    Sophie,

    “Billy has a way of speaking with absolute certainty about things”
    Sophie: “Identity is not memory”

    Let’s just take it as said that we both preface what we say with “it seems to me” or “in my opinion”

    “People with amnesia still have an identity”

    You would need to have total and complete amnesia from moment to moment to have absolutlely no memory whatsoever? If that is not possible, then you have not refuted what I said. If that is possible, then I’d feel pretty confident in saying that person would have no identity.

    “There’s a few different defintions of identity”

    There was context.
    In the present thread, the context is Lightnotheat coming into existence a second ago with memories of things that have never happened. He still identifies as Lightnotheat with all those memories – and because of those memories – even though all of the contents of his memory never happened.
    In the previous thread, the context was you being replaced by an exact duplicate while you slept last night – or maybe not (if the duplicator failed to operate) – and you not being able to tell the difference when you woke in the morning. And, if nightSophie was not vaspourised, there would be two identities called Sophie, nightSophie and morningSophie.

    “You are so much more than how you define yourself and remember your life. You can have a sense of your identity even when you are just barely conscious, drunk, or concussed. Any kind of awareness can be interpreted as a type of self-identiy”

    Your sense of identity would surely be emaciated to varying degrees while barely conscious, drunk, or concussed. The next step is unconsciousness, in which state you have no identity at all (and I am talking about self identity and not about others being able to identify you)

    “If you feel pain, you are the thing that hurts”

    If there is no memory, then there is no memory of pain either. And if there is no memory of pain, in what sense could you be said to be in pain or to have been in pain? Midazolam abolishes the memory of pain during surgical procedures. In what sense could you be said to be have been in pain if you have no memory of pain. The “pain during the surgical procedure” is not part of your memory and not part of your identity.

    “Personality is largely not a conscious thing, you don’t “remember” to be an extrovert or an introvert, you just are, it has nothing to do with autobiographical memory”

    You don’t remember to be an introvert, you remember that you are an introvert. And you know that you are an introvert because you remember acting and feeling like an introvert.

  512. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 10:08 am

    Yeah so this is the exact problem. You are now conflating actual documented cases of amnesia, with some kind of super memory loss where I would have absolutely no memory of any kind. That’s dramatically different from what I was talking about, in fact there are no such cases I can think of. Working memory/ mental sketch pad / short term memory / semantic loops are a pretty standard part of consciousness. What you are promoting as “memory loss” doesn’t really exist. Imagine thinking a thought without basic short term memory, you would lose yourself by the end of the sentence. Nothing you would say would make any sense.

  513. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 10:13 am

    The points Bach made are all valid. Personality has little to do with memory. His personality was largely formed in primary school. But he doesn’t remember much of the experiences. He was shaped into a specific personality type by a pretty young age. He doesn’t remember to be the way he is. A personality is a pattern of behavior.

    What about temperament? Babies are born with a type of basic personality, that’s not a memory based process but it effects how they behave.

  514. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 10:20 am

    Yes, but what about identity?

  515. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 10:47 am

    (1)Central to most definitions of consciousness is “awareness” of yourself and your surroundings in the present.
    (2)Central to most definitions of self-identity is an idea about yourself in the present.
    (3)Therefore if you are conscious you have a basic identity.

    I don’t care if this isn’t a perfect self identity or the social science description of identity. It’s an identity. It’s a foothold, where I can securely launch my argument from.

    If you think, you are the thing that thinks. Basic Descartes. Even if you think this is all an illusion and we have no freewill, it at least appears as though we all have a basic identity in the present. In fact we could argue that your ideas about yourself in the present moment are the most important.

    If our ancestors didn’t have a basic identity in their moment to moment fight or flight situations, they wouldn’t know who they were, and who the aggressor / threat was. They wouldn’t know “I have to run this way,” because they wouldn’t know who the “I” in that thought is. They wouldn’t know which direction to run in because they wouldn’t have an idea about where they were a few seconds ago. “Was I by that rock a second ago? Maybe that was the lioness?”

    Some type of basic self identity certainly existed well before language. I have a hard time imagining a prehistoric woman taking much time to think about her early childhood and how it shaped who she is in the present moment. She was certainly conscious, human brains haven’t changed much.

  516. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 11:05 am

    Sophie,

    This doesn’t really work, so far as I can see:

    “(1)Central to most definitions of consciousness is “awareness” of yourself and your surroundings in the present.
    (2)Central to most definitions of self-identity is an idea about yourself in the present.
    (3)Therefore if you are conscious you have a basic identity. ”

    This indicates that consciousness is necessary but not sufficient for identity, not that consciousness is sufficient.

  517. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 11:20 am

    Can you have self-identity while being unconscious? No, right?
    Then consciousness clearly matters. Can you be conscious, with retrograde amnesia (as many documented cases show) and have a basic identity? Yes, look it up.
    Therefore consciousness is sufficient to having a basic sense of your own identity. It’s right in the definition of consciousness. You are aware of yourself and your surroundings. Just by being “on” you have a sense of who you are in relation to the world around you. And this is saying nothing about Bach’s personality arguments. There are many ways to approach this argument that challenge “memory = identity”

  518. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 11:22 am

    Retrograde and anterograde*

  519. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 11:28 am

    bachfiend:

    I’d say that identity is a combination of the effects from genetics and experience (or nature and nurture).
    Autobiographical memories aren’t particularly important, especially since they’re largely manufactured rather than being retrieved.

    and:

    To put it another way, I think biography is very important in forming identity, but autobiography isn’t, and that autobiography is strongly affected by identity, so that the causal chain is actually reversed.

    I don’t understand how you can draw a line between biography and autobiography. Even granted that autobiographical memories are largely manufactured, I think we need to examine how and WHY they are manufactured the way they are at any given point in time. It seems to me that “today” my autobiographical memories will inevitably affect my actions (and even my perceptions) tomorrow and every other day in the future. But that feedback loop has been in effect every day of my life. In other words, my autobiographical memories play no small role in determining my biography.

    Obviously, we don’t have a very good understanding of how the brain (mind) forms and modifies memories, but until we come up with something better, I think the simplest (although still incredibly complex) explanation is that I (i.e. my Identity) is nothing more or less than the current state of one very long, very complex chemical reaction — each stage of which depends on the immediately preceding state of every single molecule in my body, plus any influence from external events (which may themselves have been influenced by my own previous actions).

    So, I think that my unique identity is not only the sum total of my memories, but a specific sequence of memories and outside events.

  520. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Sophie,

    “Therefore consciousness is sufficient to having a basic sense of your own identity.”

    The way I look at it is — what comprises an identity? Being a mother, father, wife, daughter, pilot, brave, timid etc. And if you can’t remember that you are any of these things, what is left to comprise your identity?

    Can you have a sense of these components of your identity without any autobiographical memory of them?

    I’m not invested in this and totally willing to be convinced, but autobiographical memory as a central pillar of identity fits with the definition I’ve absorbed (without learning it from any kind of definitive source) AND what appears to be the accepted definition within the social sciences.

  521. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I think the interesting question is “how do we define or identify a specific, unique identity?” In other words, what would it take for “me” to still be “me”?

    Personally, I think that generically, identity implies consciousness and vice versa. Or, more precisely, the ability to be conscious at least part of the time. Even when I’m asleep or under anesthesia, I would like to believe that I still have the same “identity”. At the simplest level, identity can be thought of as a “frame of reference”. Expanding a bit on Sophie’s comments about our ancestors, every creature with the ability to make choices MUST have a frame of reference for those choices to have meaning.

    Even single-celled creatures have to “know” what it means to move “itself” towards food or light. The same holds true for earthworms, amphibians, mammals and every creature including homo sapiens. Obviously, the level of “consciousness” involved will vary widely from one end of the spectrum to the other, but in every case, “identity” is required for there to be an “object” of any “decisions”. Those decisions can be very low level “instinctive” responses or complicated philosophical arguments, or anything in between. To paraphrase Descartes, “I react, therefore I am”.

    Personally, I’ve always visualized a straightforward (although very long and very complicated) progression from single cells to us. The ability to react to your environment would be a huge selective advantage. Reacting more effectively would be even more advantageous. IMHO, human level consciousness is functionally equivalent to amoeba level consciousness except with very enhanced decision-making (reaction) capabilities.

    I think that the animal kingdom demonstrates this quite nicely. It is easy to imagine a progression from single to multi-variable sensory input organs and therefore decision trees. Each combination of inputs would probably have initially been hard coded as “good” or “bad”, but eventually the idea of sequences (chains of events) entered the picture. We see the ability to recognize beneficial patterns all the time in animals, especially pets.

    Somewhere along the line, some creatures got even better at “remembering” longer and more complicated pattern sequences, as well as learning to extrapolate from “similar” patterns and be able to make useful predictions.

    In short, I don’t think the concept of identity is that complicated or mysterious. Everything alive has some sense of identity, whether or not that thing can be said to be meaningfully aware of it.

    But if we wish to unambiguously identify a specific individual, I don’t see how we can avoid declaring that said individual is literally the sum total of their memories, including autobiographical (applied in the same sequence) — or more precisely, the exact configuration of cells, down to the molecular and even quantum level. Without a transporter capable of that level of accuracy, I don’t see how you can recreate the same “individual” any other way.

  522. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Mumadadd,

    The way I look at it is — what comprises an identity? Being a mother, father, wife, daughter, pilot, brave, timid etc. And if you can’t remember that you are any of these things, what is left to comprise your identity?

    Imagine a prehistoric human with no language. They wouldn’t have any of these terms. They wouldn’t have a word for bravery. Could they be brave? Would they see themselves as brave without a word for it? Also your definition of identity is a social identity not self-identity.

    Social identity would be your relationship to the people and groups around you. How you define your social identity would be a process like you described. But groups of humans were chilling together before they had words for these relationships. How would you express your social identity without words?

    I only ask because it’s easy to see how you can have basic concepts about your self identity without words. Just look away from the screen and take in the sensory input from your senses. That’s not memory, that’s just awareness. And given that little amount of exposure to the present moment, you can conclude all sorts of things about who you are.

  523. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Steve Cross,
    “Even single-celled creatures have to “know” what it means to move “itself” towards food or light. ”
    This is very misleading to the point where it’s wrong. Responding to chemical gradients is not the same as consciousness. They don’t “know” they just act.

  524. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Sophie,

    “Imagine a prehistoric human with no language. They wouldn’t have any of these terms. They wouldn’t have a word for bravery. Could they be brave? Would they see themselves as brave without a word for it? Also your definition of identity is a social identity not self-identity.”

    I don’t think you need language to have the kind of identity I’m referring to. People don’t recall the autobiographical details of their lives through the phonological loop — it isn’t a story they are telling themselves in words, it’s memories of people or events, and their relationship to them, built up over time.

    — —

    Let me try to elaborate my position with a specific example: a black person, who has been the victim of racial discrimination but has in spite of this forged a highly successful career. The colour of their skin is part of their identity precisely because of its narrative qualities. If you rob this person of their memories, they can still perceive the colour of their own skin, and you might well argue that this becomes part of an ‘identity’ of sorts, but they are missing everything of significance about their skin colour without the narrative aspects.

  525. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Also, I understand that a person’s life history and environment contribute to shaping the way the brain wires, and this must have some impact on their resultant personality. Amnesia wouldn’t press the reset button on all this and effectively reset the personality — they would retain much of their personality — but what I’m saying is this isn’t sufficient to count as an ‘identity’, in that those of us without amnesia experience it, without all the narrative details.

  526. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t think anyone is saying that in order to perfectly explain everything about someone’s “identity.” All you need is x or y.

    I think we are trying to say that identity does not equal memory. Personality is a huge part of identity and it has nothing to do with memory. You don’t remember to be extroverted, you just are. Babies are born with temperaments. They didn’t learn or remember to cry all the time or to be a more chill temperament. There’s unconscious, non-remembered aspects of an identity. That’s all we are saying. No one is saying identity is completely explained by these things.

  527. mumadaddon 12 May 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Sophie,

    “I don’t think anyone is saying that in order to perfectly explain everything about someone’s “identity.” All you need is x or y. ”

    I guess what I’m saying is that identity is your narrative about yourself. Personality factors into this in that it shapes the narrative but, without the narrative, your identity is at best extremely shallow. You could form some sort of semi-narrative about yourself without your autobiographical memory, but it would be a pale imitation of what the rest of us experience.

  528. CKavaon 12 May 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Personality is a huge part of identity and it has nothing to do with memory.

    On what basis are you making this claim? I’d conversely argue that experiences, and memories of those experiences play a significant part in determining personality. We do not inherit complete personalities from birth that are unaltered by experience. There are even legions of examples of people’s personalities being severely impacted by their memories of experiences/events – such as traumatic loss or experience of war.

    The points Bach made are all valid. Personality has little to do with memory. His personality was largely formed in primary school.

    See above. Also on what basis have you inferred that Bach’s personality was “largely” formed by his hazily recalled experiences in primary school?

    No one is saying identity is completely explained by these things.

    Great. But you and Bach have repeatedly implied that “Autobiographical memories aren’t particularly important” to identity, which goes against pretty much all of the research on memory and identity that I am familiar with. Again, I’m genuinely interested to hear if there are any good articles/research that support this interpretation but colour me skeptical 😉 …

  529. CKavaon 12 May 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Eugh… sorry folks.

    Personality is a huge part of identity and it has nothing to do with memory.

    On what basis are you making this claim? I’d conversely argue that experiences, and memories of those experiences play a significant part in determining personality. We do not inherit complete personalities from birth that are unaltered by experience. There are even legions of examples of people’s personalities being severely impacted by their memories of experiences/events – such as traumatic loss or experience of war.

    The points Bach made are all valid. Personality has little to do with memory. His personality was largely formed in primary school.

    See above. Also on what basis have you inferred that Bach’s personality was “largely” formed by his hazily recalled experiences in primary school?

    No one is saying identity is completely explained by these things.

    Great. But you and Bach have repeatedly implied that “Autobiographical memories aren’t particularly important” to identity, which goes against pretty much all of the research on memory and identity that I am familiar with. Again, I’m genuinely interested to hear if there are any good articles/research that support this interpretation but colour me skeptical …

  530. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 5:21 pm

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_development

    Adult personality traits are believed to have a basis in infant temperament, meaning that individual differences in disposition and behavior appear early in life, possibly even before language or conscious self-representation develop. The Five Factor Model of personality has been found to map onto dimensions of childhood temperament, suggesting that individual differences in levels of the “big five” personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) are present from young ages.

    It’s literally in the first paragraph, follow the citations if you want more scholarly sources. Personality is largely developed early in life. Personality itself, has very little (nothing) to do with autobiographical memory, a personality trait like extroversion is a pattern of behavior that isn’t “remembered” you just are an extrovert and act like one. You don’t remember to walk over to people and introduce yourself, you just are that way if you are an extrovert. It’s largely unconscious, this is why it’s so hard and unintuitive for a introvert to do these simple things and engage in small talk.

    The trauma cases you are talking about are the exception not the rule, and I could easily argue that’s a pathology you are describing, not the normal state of affairs. The normal state of affairs is personality development early in life, with few changes as you grow older. If you become an extrovert then extroversion is central to how you behave, and you don’t have to think about it or remember it, it’s not a remembered behavior.

  531. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Sophie,

    “Even single-celled creatures have to “know” what it means to move “itself” towards food or light. ”
    This is very misleading to the point where it’s wrong. Responding to chemical gradients is not the same as consciousness. They don’t “know” they just act.

    With all due respect, as far as anyone knows so far (unless you’ve switched to Team Egnor 😉 ), all that ANYONE can do is “respond to chemical gradients”. I’m not fond of the brain as computer analogies, but as far as it goes, the brain is MUCH more similar to an analog computer than a digital one. Thus chemical gradients likely play a huge role, perhaps the only one. This would be true even if we didn’t have ample evidence that the brain (and any attendant consciousness) has a very pronounced dose/response response to various drugs/chemicals.

    The point I was trying to make is that consciousness seems to be an emergent property, but it is by no means clear that there is any particular threshold where something can be said to be conscious or not. We’ve got plenty of experimental evidence to show that different species have varying degrees of self-awareness or “identity” especially as it pertains to self recognition.

    As you noted earlier, our ancestors must have had some sense of identity to even survive. I think it is just as true for every creature no matter simple or complex. Any “conscious” act (using the term very, very loosely) has to have a frame of reference by which the act can be “evaluated”. Perhaps “voluntary” or “initiated” action would be better, or even just “automatic response”. But the common theme is that the response is triggered or not because some “stimulus” was applied to some “thing”.

    Certainly, a single-celled creature can’t have the same (or probably any) sense of consciousness that we would recognize as anywhere near human level, but if it is able to initiate action in response to stimuli, then it must have an “identity”.

    In any event, I don’t see how you can possibly claim that personality is not extremely dependent on memory. Furthermore, I think you are conflating personality with identity. Certainly, genetics may lay the foundation for personality, but even identical twins have personality differences, occasionally quite dramatic. Your interpretation of the world is bound to be affected by past life experiences. The number of times you experience the same or similar events will have an effect on your opinion of how often you believe they will happen in the future. Similarly, your subjective experience of pleasure or pain will have an effect on your future actions and thus “personality”.

    Any type of amnesia, either mild or severe, should also have a big effect on your “identity”. Much, if not most or even all, of our decision making seems to involve pattern recognition and then predicting future events based upon results observed in the past. I’m not saying we are particularly good at it, but that seems to be the way the mind works unless we make a huge effort to avoid correlation/causation errors, and even then we often fail.

    But any change to our store of memories will inevitably change the way we evaluate the world, and react to it. It seems to me that at any given point in time, my identity is inextricably tied up with my memories because they will impact my response to external stimuli. Internally, how can I be the “same” person if my impulse is to react other than I would if I had different memories. And externally, would an observer really think that two otherwise identical individuals were the same person if they reacted even slightly differently in identical situations?

  532. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Steve Cross,

    I’ll leave it to someone else to reply to you in detail. I’m not going to sit here and explain how a single celled organism responding to a chemical gradient is nothing like human consciousness. You are making a false appeal to the science/ philosophy. I just read a ton of Dennett today and he wouldn’t agree with you. Certainly a human is much freer than a single celled organism and knows more and has more agency.

    Everything I said about personality is accurate. Look it up. Personality and autobiographical memory are very different concepts. Period. Doesn’t matter how many exceptions you can line up, all I have to do is point to the literature and they all fall down. Babies are born with temperament. Personality starts there are is almost completely formed early on in life. If you test a 12 year old and a 30 year old you don’t find dramatic shifts, which you would expect to find if different memories lead to different personalities. You find stability. Personality describes unconscious patterns of behavior not an active recall process like autobiographical memory.

  533. CKavaon 12 May 2017 at 7:05 pm

    It’s literally in the first paragraph, follow the citations if you want more scholarly sources.

    Sophie do you read the sources you cite or just stop when you find something that confirms anything you say. The link you provide in the second sentence says: “The dominant view in the field of personality psychology today holds that personality emerges early and continues to change in meaningful ways throughout the lifespan.

    A short way down the page it explains that the dominant view, in contrast to earlier Freudian views that personality was entirely fixed in childhood, is that:

    Currently, lifespan perspectives that integrate theory and empirical findings dominate the research literature. The lifespan perspective of personality is based on the plasticity principle, that personality traits are open systems that can be influenced by the environment at any age.This interactional model of development emphasizes the relationships between an individual and her environment, and suggests that there is a dialectic between continuity and change throughout the lifespan. Large-scale longitudinal studies have demonstrated that the most active period of personality development appears to be between the ages of 20-40.

    How does any of that support your case or was I just to refer to the sections you cherry picked?

    Yes, personality is shaped by early life experiences and is often stable but that doesn’t mean personality is incapable of being altered by later experiences or that autobiographical recall has no impact on self-identity or personality. You mention that traumatic experiences that alter personality are rare, I’d disagree. They are much more common than you suggest, especially when you take a worldwide perspective.

  534. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 7:12 pm

    The changes those studies are referring to are not dramatic. If you click through and go to the meta analysis of big longitudinal studies you find that only some elements of the personality factors change. The overall factors are not dramatically changing. These studies do not contradict what I said. And I did not say I supported the classic Freudian idea. He had personalities formed at 7. I said 12 to 30 there wouldn’t be dramatic changes. I said you find stability. And you do.

  535. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Take a moment. And look at how
    Far this conversation got from Billy’s “identity = memory”. He didn’t specify personalities. I said that to defend the idea that not all aspects of an identity are memory based. I’m still right. It doesn’t matter how subtly personality changes over time. It’s still not a conscious process. You don’t think to be extroverted. Personality is still a part of your identity. It’s still not autobiographical memory.

  536. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 7:16 pm

    This is coming down to a game of gotcha arguments and I don’t appreciate it. My point was never about how personalities never change. I never said. I said they don’t dramatically change and that you find stability. That is true. This conversation is nested in a larger conversation about identity being equal to memory. It’s not.

  537. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Sophie,

    Again, I have to object that you are conflating personality with identity without any justification.

    “I’m not going to sit here and explain how a single celled organism responding to a chemical gradient is nothing like human consciousness.”

    Really? How do you know? Last I heard, we still don’t know when or how consciousness emerged — in fact, the hypothesis that it is an emergent property is just that because we still don’t have a good understanding of consciousness or even a universally agreed upon definition. In any event, that is mostly irrelevant.

    The main point that I was trying to make is that identity is closely related to frame of reference. In other words, it is reasonable to evaluate or define “identity” based upon how that entity interacts with the world. An entity’s frame of reference at any given point in time is dependent on its genome (and any personality predispositions) as well as its entire history (i.e. memories) and any actions it takes will be evaluated in that context.

    Different memories mean different context and very likely different actions. To repeat, if two otherwise identical entities react differently to the same stimulus, I don’t think it is defensible to claim they have the same “identity”.

  538. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Sophie,

    My point was never about how personalities never change. I never said. I said they don’t dramatically change and that you find stability. That is true. This conversation is nested in a larger conversation about identity being equal to memory. It’s not.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t believe that anyone claimed you said that personalities never change. You did agree with backfiend that memories (specifically autobiographical memories) have little to no effect on personality.

    I don’t think that is defensible. In addition, without all the same, identical memories, I don’t think you can make the case that two entities have the same identity. So while I agree that memory doesn’t exactly equal identity, it is a hugely significant portion.

  539. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Steve Cross,

    “Again, I have to object that you are conflating personality with identity without any justification.”

    I never said they were the same I said personality is an aspect. But conflation means merging. Yes personality is a part of self-identity. So it’s fair.

  540. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Sophie,

    “I never said they were the same I said personality is an aspect. But conflation means merging. Yes personality is a part of self-identity. So it’s fair.”

    Fair enough — at least on a technicality. But the tone of your arguments seemed to focus on personality as the most significant (by far) aspect of identity with the implication being that memories play little to no part. That is what I was pushing back against.

  541. Sophieon 12 May 2017 at 8:34 pm

    No it didn’t focus on that. I gave other arguments for why identity doesn’t equal memory. I also said that the definition of consciousness includes a type of basic identity. Just being aware means you understand who you are in relation to the world around you. Billy countered with some total memory loss argument that would also obliterate consciousness because it has to include some type of working memory in order to qualify as awareness.

  542. CKavaon 12 May 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Sophie,

    This is coming down to a game of gotcha arguments and I don’t appreciate it.

    If quoting the content from a link you recommend is a ‘gotcha argument’ the person doing the gotcha-ing would seem to be you!

    But regardless, I agree that we are veering off topic and foresee an unproductive comment spiral approaching so I’ll agree to disagree. From my reading of the research literature your summary is inaccurate and BJ’s comment is entirely innocuous given the context and how important memory is to self-identity, but from previous experience I don’t foresee anyone changing their minds so c’est la vie.

  543. bachfiendon 12 May 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Steve,

    i still insist that identity isn’t dependent on autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memory could disappear completely, and the person would still have the same identity

    It’s obvious for two reasons. Firstly, autobiographical memory is constantly disappearing without affecting a person’s identity. And secondly, autobiographical memories are largely confabulated in the present when the memories are being ‘retrieved’, which is dependent on the person’s identity at the time the memories are being retrieved.

    Semantic memories, of facts, are much more important. As an example, the fact that a person is married is a semantic memory, not an autobiographical one. The autobiographical memory of the wedding ceremony can be forgotten (as husbands often seem to do according to their wives’ complaints) without affecting the semantic fact of being married.

    Autobiographical memories are fixed in time, are historical and are of the past. Semantic memories are timeless. People remember that the atomic weight of gold is 79 and that they’re married (or bnot), but don’t remember when or where they learned that the atomic number of gold is 79 (unless it’s now) and may not remember when and where they married.

    The fact of being married affects a person’s identity even if the autobiographical memories of the wedding are lost, or even confabulated, adding details from other weddings, both actual and fictional.

    A person’s identity at a particular time depends on the physical makeup of the person’s brain, which depends on genetics and the entire sum of the person’s experiences (nature and nurture). And the person’s experiences is the person’s entire biography recorded by a disterested biographer or in the physical structure of the brain as the events happen.

    A person’s autobiography is at best a subset of the person’s true biography and could easily be false without affecting the person’s identity.

    We don’t seem to have defined what ‘identity’ actually is. I wonder why? To an external observer, a person has the same identity because the person’s external appearances are the same. And the person behaves the same way in response to the same changes in the person’s surroundings.

    A person’s sense of identity are just the subjective sensation of the same things. Unaltered appearances and choice of actions.

    Now if all memories were to be wiped, including all semantic memories and all procedural memories, not just autobiographical memories, then the person’s identity would disappear.

    I seem to be skating dangerously close to the concept of philosophical zombies, but I don’t think so. A brain with memories will be physically different to a brain with the memories erased in some way, and will respond to changes in the surroundings differently.

    And with neurogenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which affect identity, it’s not just memory which is affected. Other neurological functions are also affected. There is no neurological condition which affects just memory, and nothing else. Even the famous case of HN, who had both hippocampuses resected for epilepsy doesn’t apply – he had rather more than the hippocampus removed (as demonstrated at autopsy). And he continued to have epileptic seizures requiring heavy anti-epileptic medication with their long term physical changes in the brain.

    If I were to summarise my position, I know that I have an identity because I have the semantic memories of having a particular name and having practiced a particular occupation in the past, amongst other things, but my identity isn’t changed one little bit if I’ve lost the autobiographical details of how I first learned my name. Or went into my previous occupation decades ago.

  544. Steve Crosson 12 May 2017 at 11:27 pm

    bachfiend,

    It is quite possible I’m misusing the term “autobiographical” since I freely admit to being a layman in this area, but let me focus on some of your comment to try to better explain my “point”.

    A person’s autobiography is at best a subset of the person’s true biography and could easily be false without affecting the person’s identity.
    We don’t seem to have defined what ‘identity’ actually is. I wonder why? To an external observer, a person has the same identity because the person’s external appearances are the same. And the person behaves the same way in response to the same changes in the person’s surroundings.
    A person’s sense of identity are just the subjective sensation of the same things. Unaltered appearances and choice of actions.
    Now if all memories were to be wiped, including all semantic memories and all procedural memories, not just autobiographical memories, then the person’s identity would disappear.

    All of which seems reasonable to me.

    I’m well aware that we “construct” or even confabulate memories when we recall them, but I’m assuming that is exactly what is being referred to as an “autobiographical” memory, i.e. “the past from my own point of view”. If I’m misunderstanding, then I would welcome enlightenment. Otherwise, it still seems to me that even confabulation must necessarily affect my own perception of my identity simply because it seems to be a “real” depiction of my past history, i.e. biography.

    As I understand it, the more we “reference” these confabulation/constructed memories, the more real and persistent they become. And the more likely they will be to affect/alter my behavior and, IMHO, identity. It seems to me that my identity is dynamic and the direct result of ALL past influences — whether or not I recall or interpret those influences correctly.

    As an example, my wife and I have been married almost forty years and as far as we (and our doctors) can tell, neither of us is displaying any signs of senility. However, over the years, and perhaps because of my interest in cognition and brain function, I’ve noticed occasions where our recollections of past events differ dramatically. Sometimes we can consult a neutral source, but often that is impossible. In some of those situations, I’ve noticed occasions where our differing recollections can result in significantly different interpretations/evaluations of current situations.

    It seems to me that is a pretty clear indication that my “autobiographical” memories have literally changed my identity — both as I perceive it and also by any external observer of my actions since they are somewhat different than they would be if, for example my memories still matched the somewhat different memories of my wife.

  545. CKavaon 13 May 2017 at 12:23 am

    Autobiographical memory does not solely refer to episodic recall it includes personal semantic facts. See the Wikipedia article for a decent overview: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobiographical_memory

    Autobiographical memory is a memory system consisting of episodes recollected from an individual’s life, based on a combination of episodic and semantic memory.

    Or if you prefer there is a good article by Conway and Pleydell-Pearce about how autobiographical memories relate to perceptions of self that starts with the following:

    Autobiographical memory is of fundamental significance for the self, for emotions, and for the experience of personhood, that is, for the experience of enduring as an individual, in a culture, over time.

    This is what I recognize as the dominant view in the literature, not that autobiographical memory is largely irrelevant to identity…

  546. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 1:42 am

    Ckava,

    Or if you prefer there is a good article by Conway and Pleydell-Pearce about how autobiographical memories relate to perceptions of self… This is what I recognize as the dominant view in the literature…

    That paper, is 17 years old, I would hardly call that the current dominant view from the literature. It’s a proposition for a model of memory, not experimental data, and not a definitive source, it’s also based on ideas first proposed by Conway in the late 80s early 90s.

    It’s also literally the second citation on the wiki page for autobiographical memory, clearly you didn’t have to venture too far to find it. Congrats. You can use Wikipedia, you true intellectual titan, thank you for teaching us how academia works and showing us the “dominant view of the literature.”

    Many academic papers start with grandiose statements about how their research is highly significant, you quoting that inflated sense of self worth, instead of actual substance says a lot about you. You clearly never looked into this before this discussion. And you came in late. Your motives are highly questionable. You didn’t even reference the actual discussion that our current conversation was nested in. You preferred to debate how personalities slightly change over time. Instead of the entire point I was making, which was that personality is a part of identity that isn’t consciously recalled, and is independent of autobiographical memory.
    —-
    This is all a giant distraction from the actual conversation. Identity does not equal memory.

    There are many ways to tackle this, autobiographical memory is just one. No one said anything about autobiographical memories being the only explanation. Just like no one said anything about personalities being the only explanation.

    Identity is a complex topic. Some of it is your personality. We say “I’m an extrovert,” or “she’s shy.” That’s part of who I am as a person. My identity. It started with me as a baby, I had a specific temperament that grew into my personality. Personality is largely not a conscious process, it’s not dependent on memory. I don’t remember to be fun and outgoing, I just am, while other people have a really hard time talking to strangers.

    That’s a complex aspect of someone’s identity. A much simpler part is just being aware of your existence. If you are conscious by definition you have a basic type of identity and self identity.

    A prehistoric Sophie in fight or flight, fleeing a lioness, knows who she is, she is not the lion(basic identity). She also knows how she appears to the lion (a more abstract identity). She knows if she hides behind a rock the lioness can’t see her.

    You don’t need language, autobiographical memory or a personality to understand these things and your relationship to them. Therefore any awareness means knowledge of an identity. Consciousness therefore comes with a bootstrapped version of basic identity wetware plugged in. And this is the birth of all more complex types of identity. Like social identity. You can’t be part of a group like a doctor who fan or something, without first knowing who you are in a much more basic sense. This basic sense of identity also came first.

  547. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 2:05 am

    In my humble opinion, you wouldn’t use an article from 17 years ago and ideas from the later 80s to defend your arguments. Cognitive psych has radically changed in the last few decades. For example the much more recent research into autobiographical memory has repeatedly shown that it’s highly unreliable, inaccurate, vulnerable to experimentally induced false memories and prone to predictable errors — much closer to the current state of the literature btw.

    Therefore using old research to explain something like identity seems really naive. Identity tends to be stable and largely independent of conscious recall. It’s much more like personality than autobiographical memory. Coincidentally the past and present research on personality predictably explains much more of someone’s behavior than their faulty memories about themselves.

  548. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 2:10 am

    Also just one last F You to Ckava, you never read the Conway paper. It’s 22+ pages and all you did was quote the first two lines. There’s no way you read the whole thing. So you are recommending the second reference on a wiki page (first one also by Conway) without reading it? There’s no way someone reads 22 pages just to answer a comment online. You fraud.

  549. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 9:06 am

    I think that most of the disagreement stems from the fact that we haven’t clearly defined what it is we mean by identity when defending our own point of view.

    I tried to make my own interests quite clear in my original comment:

    I think the interesting question is “how do we define or identify a specific, unique identity?” In other words, what would it take for “me” to still be “me”?

    Which I believe is a reasonable interpretation of the concept BillyJoe7 was addressing when he originally replied to LightNotHeat.

    In the interim , I’ve tried to make it abundantly clear that I agree that there is a certain, fundamental abstract concept of identity that all creatures must necessarily possess in order for them to have volition (or even the appearance of it).

    And yes, at that level, a person (or animal, etc.) is still going to have the same “identity” to an observer regardless of what that person’s memories are at any given point in time.

    But in BJ7’s thought experiment, each and every memory (of any type) would appear to be crucial to the makeup of that particular “identity”. Any difference at all would result in a person who acts differently and perceives the world differently and therefore could not be said to be the same person, i.e. identity.

  550. BillyJoe7on 13 May 2017 at 9:13 am

    Im having trouble responding. My computer wont link to the internet and my ipad keeps locking up as I type. I just lost a four paragraph reply to Sophie.

  551. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 9:31 am

    CKava and others focusing on memories make good points, and it shouldn’t be considered particularly controversial. Clearly this isn’t an either/or thing. Both memory and temperament are part of who we are. Identity consists partly of:

    1. Memories, including episodic, procedural, and semantic memories (unreliable and biased as they sometimes are, that doesn’t mean they aren’t part of who an individual is). This will be where socialization and culture makes a huge difference. If someone speaks Russian, if they like Stephen King novels, and are politically conservative, and are an expert football player, that is part of who they are. And strongly dependent on memory.

    2. Longer-term temperament which is partly set by early experience as well as genetics/epigenetics that set the tone of serotinergic, cholinergic, and other neuromodulatory systems. In humans you typically find discussions of the “big five” personality traits here.

    There are other bits we could add to the list, but these two are obviously important in most mammals. Some people would include explicit self-recognition (e.g., for highly visual creatures, the mirror recognition test is often used). This is actually an evolutionary rare achievement. Just because my pet mouse can’t pass such tests doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an identity over time.

  552. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 9:35 am

    Steve Cross,

    Billy has made this argument before. About how memory = identity. This isn’t the first time he says these things. We kept identity vaguely defined because he did too. If you want to operationally define it that’s cool.

    Also everything you said about other creatures and their volition I disagree with. Saying we are all just following chemical gradients like a single celled organism is wrong. I feel like I made my point clear, human consciousness in its most basic form comes with identity wetware bootstrapped. This came along well before language and complex social identities.

  553. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 10:08 am

    edamame,

    I generally agree with you. Again the people who wrote against the idea that identity = memory never claimed that there wasn’t some role memory played. We just said it was more complex.

    In the example you gave:

    This will be where socialization and culture makes a huge difference. If someone speaks Russian, if they like Stephen King novels, and are politically conservative, and are an expert football player, that is part of who they are. And strongly dependent on memory.

    This illustrates my points quite nicely. All these aspects of identity came in later evolutionarily speaking. Having a much more basic sense of who you are in relation to the world around you, is required before you can learn languages or read Steven King books. And I would just add that who you think you are, isn’t as important as who you actually are. Personality describes stable patterns of behavior over time. Autobiographical memory and self – descriptions dont accurately describe you as a person. I like to think I can jump 50 feet. And that I have a pet unicorn. Does that mean anything? No. Is my personality essentially stable, do I behave predictably if you know my personality? Yes.

  554. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 10:28 am

    Person X believes in God. Like a lot. His god is a good and all powerful being that can do anything. He believes in miracles. He also thinks that modern evolutiony theory is a joke. He thinks Anglicans belong in a circle of hell lower than atheists.

    If we take that and draw some conclusions about X we would be horrifically inaccurate.

    For example X is actually a very talented pediatric neurosurgeon at an award winning hospital. He is very skilled at what he does, highly intelligent, he’a very polite and respectful in person.

    The autobiographical memory details, X believes in god and fights so hard to defend that he is a warrior chosen by God, actually explains nothing about X as a person. It doesn’t shed much useful light on his identity.

  555. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 10:49 am

    It explains a lot. It explains why he trolls internet forums and writes stupid essays about intelligent design instead of focusing on his career more. Someone’s procedural memory explains why they are so good at shooting a ball through a hoop. Their semantic memory explains why they can speak Russian and not English.

    Memories help individuate them as person more than generic personality tone does. Depressed introverts are a dime a dozen. Memories add the fine-grained texture to the generic temperament.

    For those that think memory isn’t important to identity, please spend some time thinking about what it means to be Jewish.

  556. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 10:56 am

    Sophie,

    Also everything you said about other creatures and their volition I disagree with. Saying we are all just following chemical gradients like a single celled organism is wrong. I feel like I made my point clear, human consciousness in its most basic form comes with identity wetware bootstrapped. This came along well before language and complex social identities.

    I don’t think that anything I said should be particularly controversial. Unless you are a dualist, as far as we know now, we ARE just an assortment of neurons reacting to chemical gradients. Where and how consciousness (or the appearance of it) entered the picture is currently unknown. It seems to have emerged from the complexity, but I doubt very much that it is a binary state. My pets (and many other animals) are certainly capable of recognizing their name, i.e. identity and they are good at pattern recognition, and sometimes it “appears” as if they are capable of the rudiments of abstract thought (although that could be my projection). I strongly suspect that there is a wide spectrum in the animal kingdom of ever increasing ability to recognize more complex patterns and flexibility of response — which requires “awareness” of identity. I suspect that what we identify as “consciousness” is really just the result of a natural progression with no clear demarcation lines.

    As far as “bootstrapped wetware” is concerned, I’ve made the point that ALL creatures must have awareness of “identity” at least at an abstract level. Even at the stimulus/response level, any action must have an object.

    Seriously, this stuff is almost at the level of tautology or at least plausible speculation that fits the known facts. You seem to have almost a knee-jerk compulsion to automatically disagree with everything that past antagonists have to say.

  557. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:01 am

    Edamame,

    “It explains a lot. It explains why he trolls internet forums and writes stupid essays about intelligent design instead of focusing on his career more.”

    He performs hundreds of procedures a year. He trains future surgeons. I’d say he is pretty successful. He also isn’t the person he acts like online. His trolling behavior is a small part of his identity. Certainly not as much as his career and daily life.

  558. BillyJoe7on 13 May 2017 at 11:05 am

    Sophie,

    “the much more recent research into autobiographical memory has repeatedly shown that it’s highly unreliable, inaccurate, vulnerable to experimentally induced false memories and prone to predictable errors”

    This is irrelevant.

    It doesn’t matter if memories are unreliable. They are still memories. It doesn’t even matter if memories are completely fabricated. They are still memories. In the original comment that started this diversion, I asked a poster to consider his situation if he was created one second ago with a complete set of memories. So the question is not are memories reliable, but are they the basis of identity.

    And, by identity, I mean the feeling that you are you

    Imagine that you went to sleep last night all alone in your big double bed (poor Sophie!). While you slept you were scanned, evaporated, and duplicated. You would feel no different. You would feel that you are Sophie – because of all those memories, in my opinion, but bear with me. And if the transporter failed, you would still be the original Sophie when you woke this morning. But, if it was not possible to tell whether or not the transporter failed, it would be impossible to tell if you were the original or the duplicate. Of course none of this matters to Sophie. She doesn’t even know that transporters exist. All she knows is that she went to bed last night and got up this morning. In my opinion, you knew that you were Sophie this morning when you woke because of all those memories, including the memories of your emotions and personality. You surely remember feeling like an extrovert who talks to everyone. And you remember your emotional connection to your mother and father who greeted you at the breakfast table.

    Now imagine that the transporter comes back tonight while you are asleep. But that there was a glitch. The original Sophie fails to vapourise. You wake up tomorrow morning with Sophie beside you in your big double bed. If there was no way to tell which is the original and which is the duplicate, neither of you would know which one you are because both of you feel completely that you are Sophie. You might be tempted to say that there is a fact of the matter that one is the original and the other is the duplicate, and I would agree. But this thought experiment demonstrates that “the fact of the matter” does not actually matter for Sophie. She feels like Sophie and that’s all that matters to her. And so does the the Sophie lying in bed next to her. So here we have the same identity in two different bodies. The only difference is their location in space. This one is in on the that side of the bed and that one is on this side of the bed.

    Now imagine that there is a glitch in the transporter and, when it scans you, it accidentally wipes your memory. So now, when original Sophie wakes up in the morning she doesn’t know who she is. But duplicate Sophie feels exactly like Sophie. And, indeed, she is Sophie. Who would Sophie’s father and mother prefer? The Sophie who doesn’t recognise them and looks at them as if they are strangers, or the Sophie who remembers all the things they have done together and who hugs and kisses them as warmly as she always has? If you are tempted to object that she is still the duplicate and not their original daughter, what exactly are you saying that is relevant to Sophie and her parents?

    But, actually, the scanner didn’t erase original Sophie’s memories. Actually, it was the duplicator that failed to install memories in duplicate Sophie’s brain. No, in fact, it could have been either and we have no way of telling the fault occurred in the scanner or the duplicator. So all we know now, is that this Sophie has no memory of and does not know or have any emotional connection to that mother and father; and that Sophie remembers everything and knows this mother and father intimately and connects fully emotionally with them.

    It seems to me, identity – the feeling of you being you – is encompassed by memory. Memory of things you have done. Memories of emotions connected with these things and with people you interacted with. And memories of what your personality is like – how it feels to be you.

    The more interesting thing is that an exact duplicate of you feels exactly like you and is you in every way that you are you.

    So, regardless of whether or not you were scanned, vapourised, and duplicated last night, I know that I am speaking to Sophie. And so do you.

  559. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:06 am

    A single-celled organism. A common household pet. And a human being, all have different degrees of decision making skills, freedom, volition, agency, etc. calling me a dualist for disagreeing with you claiming that these are the same is naive. Im not a dualist. I just read a bunch of Dennett yesterday and he would not agree with your simplification. Evolution lead us to have much greater abilities than single celled organisms. Even if you don’t believe in freewill, we are much freer than single celled organisms. Everything you wrote is a false appeal to the science and philosophy which you clearly know nothing about.

  560. BillyJoe7on 13 May 2017 at 11:09 am

    I did that through my iPhone 🙁

  561. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:12 am

    Yeah including the debatable transporter problem in this issue of identity not equaling memory is so foolish. You just muddied the waters further. Your understanding of the problem and your conclusions are not facts they are unsubstantiated highly debatable opinions.

    You also failed to address my points. Yes it matters that memory is faliable and that who someone thinks they are doesn’t explain as much as who they actually are. See the example with person X. He clearly thinks many things about himself that if you took as fact you would see a hillbilly flat earther and not a talented neurosurgeon.

  562. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 11:15 am

    Sophie his ability to perform surgeries, and spread his knowledge of such things, is also built on memory. You ain’t gonna escape memory.

    I do brain surgeries too (not on humans, but other mammals). It takes a lot of practice to build up the motor memory (procedural memory) to be good at it. If you don’t do it for a long time, you are not as good (this is why we talk about getting rusty).

    When I train others on how to perform these surgeries, the first thing I tell them is: first watch me do one or two. Then: Practice. Practice. Practice. Once you do it well, then you can do a real one where the stakes are high. They need to build up the procedural memory.

    There is some talent involved. Some people suck at surgeries because they have bad hands. They just never get good. So there may be longer-term core features there. But memory is there. It explains a lot. Not everything. A lot.

    This is part of who I am. It is part of who he is. He wasn’t born a brain surgeon. He wasn’t born a Christian. I wasn’t born an atheist. You weren’t born whatever you are.

  563. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 11:29 am

    Sophie,

    Please quit strawmanning. OF COURSE single cell creatures and humans have vastly different capabilities. But they also share some common characteristics, including the FACT of identity (whether or not we think they can recognize it) and the ability to respond to outside stimulus.

    We don’t yet KNOW where or how “consciousness” appeared, and you have no way of knowing if my speculation is true or false, but it does fit the known facts.

  564. BillyJoe7on 13 May 2017 at 11:31 am

    Sophie,

    I’m purely concerned about the “feeling of you being you”. Almost all you’ve written here is irrelevant to that so I don’t feel a need to respond to it. And when you say “muddy the waters”, I think you mean you can’t respond to my scenario without having to retract a fair bit of what you have said that is relevant to the “feeling of you being you”. So, nice dismissal.

    Anyway, it’s almost 1am here and I have a long mountain trail run on tomorrow morning, so see you MUCH later on.

  565. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:31 am

    Edamame,

    Pediatric neurosurgery is one of the most intense surgical specialities out there. Just saying.

    My point isn’t about the skill. But rather how just because someone says a bunch of things about themselves doesn’t mean that is who they are.

    Egnor’s personality and intelligence explain much more about his overall identity than his self-descriptions and beliefs about god. That’s the point. Identity is not autobiographical memory because identity is much more stable and reliable over time. Person X will still be a neurosurgeon tomorrow. He also according to his autobiographical account didn’t become religious until after becoming a neurosurgeon. His beliefs and his self-descriptions don’t explain as much as his personality for example. His career, personality and intelligence is more stable than his beliefs.

  566. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:44 am

    X is a brilliant student. Does well in school, applies to med school. According to his autobiographical account he first found god while watching a young boy die in a hospital while he could do nothing to prevent it. He then discovered that the ultimate purpose of life was to bring souls to god. He started blogging online all about it and expressed so many harsh insensitive opinions.

    Today X is still highly intelligent, a talented pediatric neurosurgeon, his personality hasn’t changed much in those few decades he’s still an arrogant brash person.

    His autobiographical account of his life, his role in the world and the ultimate purpose of his life. Has radically changed.

  567. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 11:45 am

    Sophie,

    Can’t you at least agree that we are talking about different definitions of identity?

    If Egnor no longer held the same “hillbilly views” in addition to his surgical skills, he would clearly NO LONGER BE the same person.

    Literally nothing you have said applies to BJ7’s thought experiment.

  568. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:56 am

    BJ7’s thought experiment has nothing to do with the original framing of this argument. It’s an attempt to rewrite his original comments and it’s poorly designed. Sorry?

    “If Egnor no longer held the same “hillbilly views” in addition to his surgical skills, he would clearly NO LONGER BE the same person.”

    Technically we aren’t the same person from moment to moment right? As you would say. So why is this relevant?

    Clearly I’m not talking about person X being the exact same person but I’m talking about overall patterns of behavior and identity in general. X’s identity hasn’t dramatically changed all that’s changed is now he has a very rich mental life. He now sees himself as this warrior for Christianity. But he’s still the same talented neurosurgeon from the outside. His long time aquaintances wouldn’t say that his identity radically changed over the last few decades. They would say he’s still essentially the same person. That’s the problem, autobiographical accounts don’t mean as much as other aspects of identity.

  569. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 12:00 pm

    sophie let’s just be clear. Being a brain surgeon depends on memory. If we eradicate episodic, procedural, and semantic memory from a brain surgeon, they will no longer have that career.

    What, exactly, is your point? Can you state it clearly?

    If your point is that some aspects of personality are not captured by memory, fine. I already pointed out such aspects above (certain personality traits and moods). But huge aspects, the parts that make us truly unique and interesting, are. There’s a million depressed moody introverts: but what makes you unique is your particular history that is stored in your nervous system as memory (again, procedural, episodic, and semantic).

    You are arguing here and insulting people like BJ7 and stevecross and CKava and saying they don’t know what they are talking about, but they are actually saying perfectly reasonable things. Hmmm….is this part of your identity perhaps?

    Also don’t be so quick to say that internet personalities aren’t real. That’s some BS. If you are an asshole on the internet, then you are part asshole. Full stop. Anything else is the logic of a troll, and it’s BS.

    Sophie: in undergrad philosophy classes they teach this thing called the principle of charity, and it is pretty much required that you follow that if you are going to be considered a reasonable interlocutor. I have never seen someone violate it as badly as you consistently do here. Maybe think about that:

    http://philosophy.lander.edu/oriental/charity.html

    I just consider you a pathological interlocutor who feigns knowledge and insults people, but maybe you just haven’t been taught yet. That is, maybe it isn’t part of your identity, but something you can learn to do better. 🙂 Good luck!

  570. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 12:01 pm

    You might think that X’s autobiographical accounts are all ridiculous. That he’s delusional and knows nothing about religion and philosophy. I personally am an atheist, and I find his opinions offensive. I believe he should be free to express them. I just disagree with almost everything he has to say about his personal autobiographical accounts of god and religion and his place in the universe.

    But at the end of the day I would still trust him to operate on my child’s brain. Because he’s a talented, qualified and licensced pediatric neurosurgeon. Regardless of his personal stories about himself.

    So what exactly do autobiographical accounts mean? What are they worth? Nothing really…

  571. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 12:10 pm

    So originally this is what billy said:

    Suppose it was not the whole universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced. Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.

    Im not the only person who disagreed with this. Go see what bachfiend wrote.

    You are who you are not just because of memories. A big part of who you are is unconscious and not actively dependent on recall of memories. This is a fact. The arguments about personality and the failures of autobiographical memory are just a couple ways to attack the claim: “you are who you are because of your memories.” Babies are born with temperaments, personalities come from there. There is no memory component to a baby’s temperament.

  572. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I agree billy slightly overstated it. Why insult him? People suggesting that memories are minor, or unimportant, or not part of it, are also wrong. Obviously temperament as well as memory are both important. It isn’t either or. The difference is bachfiend doesn’t insult people, so consistently, that he disagrees with. Everyone here is after the truth. Except maybe Egnor. He is a troll.

  573. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 12:58 pm

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Concern_troll

    I may have said less than perfectly nice things to people. But I also care about the truth. And the simplistic idea that we are who we are because of our memories is just false. Simplified to the point of being inaccurate is an error. I never said that memory didn’t play a role. I said that personality and other things like temperament have nothing to do with active recall and are a big part of who someone is.

    Also the person recommending an article that’s literally the second reference on Wikipedia is obviously pretending to be an expert. He didn’t read a 22+ page paper in the time it took him to respond to what people were writing. The paper is also dated and not representative of the current state of the literature. He was presenting himself as an expert while advancing a paper written almost two decades ago. Cognitive psych has radically changed in the last few decades and along with it so has the ideas about memory. You say I insulted them I say they are fakes. It’s okay to disagree.

  574. Pete Aon 13 May 2017 at 12:58 pm

    edamame,

    The principle of charity is a good principle to use during initial encounters. However, after protracted encounters with a motivated reasoner, the principle most definitely does not apply. E.g., applying the principle of charity to a person who has a history of relying on special pleading, ad hominem attacks, and other fallacies, would be ridiculous.

    Ray Hyman talked about the principle of charity. He advised that we assume our “opponent” is acting in good faith until proven otherwise. Encourage your opponent to present the best case for belief. Ask, what most convinces you of your belief? Be fair, honest, and diligent in evaluating the data. Stick to the data; don’t attribute motives. In short, no ad hominem attacks.

    http://skepdic.com/refuge/toolbox.html

    Unless the principle is honoured by both parties, it ends up being negatively productive.

  575. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Sophie,

    but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories

    This whole thing started with this statement.

    Embedded within is the clear implication (I’d actually claim it is an unambiguous declaration) that the entirety of your being is required for you to still be you.

    It DOES NOT say that memories are the only thing that is required — full stop.

    It does make the claim that WITHOUT ALL of your memories, you would no longer be exactly the same person. You might be similar, and an outsider might even identify you as the same “identical” person — until you began to react differently to the world than would be predicted if your memory has not changed.

    NO ONE has made a cogent argument against this thought experiment. In the amnesia examples, obviously each person would be the same physical entity that they were born as, BUT the “essence” that a conscious person thinks of as “themselves” would have changed.

    Yes, there are additional factors beyond memories that are required to fully define “identity” — not one person has disputed that. But those factors alone are insufficient in this specific situation.

    Sophie. This is ridiculous. You are simply trying to “count coup” against your imagined enemies.

  576. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I stand by what I wrote, and any attempts to justify the insults are bs. Almost everyone here (exception: egnor) is after the truth, there is no need for insulting someone who is just trying to have a discussion.

    Pete: the problem is SteveCross, Ckuka, and BJ are reasonable interlocutors so what you are saying is not applicable. There is every bit of evidence they are here arguing in good faith. If it was egnor, then ok a different standard applies to him b/c he is a troll plain and true, so a little rough treatment is ok.

    With that I’m out. I made my key point in the following post, and it seems we all agree:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/free-speech-bias/#comment-313870
    Which makes the insults being thrown around all the more baffling.

    Ya dummy.

    😛

  577. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Steve Cross,

    Yep cherry pick a quote. The full argument he originally made explicitly says “identity is memory,” and “you are you because of your memories”

    Clearly he is talking about memories equalling identity. You attempting to escape what he actually said in literally the same paragraph, is so intellectually dishonest. You know better. The words are right there, I quoted his original comment.

    He clearly didn’t appreciate unconscious, non-recalled aspects of identity. Identity is so much more than just memories. And he made no mention of that, in fact his subsequent clarifications only ventured into more extreme positions like hypothesizing some extreme memory loss that would obliterate conciousness itself.

  578. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 1:35 pm

    I’m not the only person that disagreed with what billy originally said. Here’s bachfiend:

    I still insist that identity isn’t dependent on autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memory could disappear completely, and the person would still have the same identity

    It’s obvious for two reasons. Firstly, autobiographical memory is constantly disappearing without affecting a person’s identity. And secondly, autobiographical memories are largely confabulated in the present when the memories are being ‘retrieved’, which is dependent on the person’s identity at the time the memories are being retrieved….

    stop labeling me as some dualist or crazy outlier. Identity is not equal to memory, this what was said by billy and it’s wrong.

    (1)Temperament, and the research on personality shows that memory has no role to play on many aspects of an individual’s identity. This is a fact.
    (2)You cannot debate that personality is a part of what makes a person who they are and is a critical part of their identity. It is critical to explaining human behavior and who someone is.
    (3)You cannot debate that temperament is not memory-based because babies are born with them. Personalities start here, therefore identity also has a genetic, non-memory component to it that no one mentioned with their simplified arguments that identity = memory
    (4)You also cannot debate that personality explains a lot of someone’s behavior and it is largely not dependent on conscious recall. You aren’t an extrovert because you remember to be one, you just are, it comes naturally.

    Therefore clearly consciousness comes with a bootstrapped version of basic identity plugged in.

    This is all secondary to the other arguments made. Clearly personality explains so much more about an individual’s identity than their autobiographical accounts. See the example with person X. He can say all sorts of crazy things, claim he met god and speaks to him, believe that he is a spiritual warrior etc. From the outside person X has changed very little from his agnostic/atheism at the start of his career to his theistic nature now. And all this autobiographical crap has nothing to do with who he is as a surgeon, which explains the vast majority of his day to day behavior. The troll you guys see him as is just a very small part of his identity.

  579. Pete Aon 13 May 2017 at 1:55 pm

    edamame,

    “Pete: the problem is SteveCross [sic], Ckuka [sic], and BJ [sic] are reasonable interlocutors so what you are saying is not applicable.”

    Abject BS, edamame! I know damn well that Steve Cross, CKava, and BillyJoe7 are reasonable interlocutors. My statement stands because it was clearly aimed at unreasonable: interlocutors; motivated reasoners; and those who have vested interests in promoting their nonsense — examples of which were provided in my link.

    Your plethora of comments on this website have given me the impression that you are one of the unreasonable agenda-driven interlocutors.

  580. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Sophie,

    As edamame mentioned, you are deliberately interpreting BJ7’s comments in the least charitable way. He has been commenting here for years and has earned a reputation of being neither stupid nor naive. It is unwarranted to “assume” on your part that he is unaware of the complexities of human identity.

    However, in the point he was trying to make, it is BEYOND DOUBT that the most significant component of identity is exactly what he chose to focus on, i.e. memories.

    It is undeniable that the components you chose to complain about (genetics, biographical memory, etc.) are important, but in this instance they are not the defining characteristic. It is perfectly reasonable to hypothesize a situation where your chosen properties are as near identical as possible, e.g. twins or triplets raised in as nearly identical circumstances as possible, trying to control for all other variable, etc. No reasonable person would deny that in that situation, the (sole) defining characteristic is each person’s individual, unique memories.

    And, regarding bachfiend’s “support” of your position, you are aware that he is really only referring to a technicality in how we determine which memories are important to the concept of identity, right?

    As for the rest of your “arguments”, they are irrelevant because every single one only addresses your straw man version of the main point.

    Apply some of your skeptical expertise to yourself and try to honestly evaluate your own biases. It is pretty clear that you are simply disagreeing “because it is BillyJoe7” and not because of the actual merits.

  581. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Steve Cross,

    As edamame mentioned, you are deliberately interpreting BJ7’s comments in the least charitable way. He has been commenting here for years and has earned a reputation of being neither stupid nor naive. It is unwarranted to “assume” on your part that he is unaware of the complexities of human identity.

    Here is a recent discussion where BJ7 dramatically overstepped his bounds and denied the difference between scientism and science.
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/jesus-mythicism-revisited/#comment-307296
    In that discussion that follows that naive and incorrect claim, he is fighting with edamame. Edamame is saying very legit things, about how sometimes scientists claim too much and speak with too much certainty and pass into the realm of scientism. BJ7, who’s been here for years and is someone you clearly respect, refused to admit scientism exists today. It does, it can be found in the science nonfiction section at your local bookstore. It’s well known that science writers, yes even famous scientists, overstep and claim science is everything.

    This is a defense you gave of BJ7’s claims, this was your “Charitable” defense:

    “but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories”
    This whole thing started with this statement.
    Embedded within is the clear implication (I’d actually claim it is an unambiguous declaration) that the entirety of your being is required for you to still be you.
    It DOES NOT say that memories are the only thing that is required — full stop.
    It does make the claim that WITHOUT ALL of your memories, you would no longer be exactly the same person.

    This is where you inappropriately ripped that from, and this is the full original stance BJ7 proposed with additional context:

    Suppose it was not the whole universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced. Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.

    Your “charitable” defense is wrong  – full stop.  It’s inaccurate, intellectually dishonest, and it does not represent what BJ7 actually said like at all. You didn’t even quote it properly, you just ripped it from a sentence and used it to build a defense that is not what billy said in the next sentences, in fact your defense directly contradicts what BJ7 said.

    And, regarding bachfiend’s “support” of your position, you are aware that he is really only referring to a technicality in how we determine which memories are important to the concept of identity, right?

    Once again, deliberately lying. Here you go here is something bachfiend actually said:

    I tend to agree with Sophie. Identity is largely unconscious. Episodic memories occur in the present and are largely confabulated. Experiences change the internal wiring of the brain, affecting both the conscious and unconscious mind. Neurodegenerative diseases don’t just affect the conscious processes including the retrieval of memories, but they also affect the unconscious processes, including personality and emotions. There are no neurodegerative diseases affecting only conscious processes, such as memory.
    By definition, conscious processes are the only ones available to self examination, but it doesn’t mean that the unexamined unconscious processes aren’t very important.

    Hmm, I guess you are right Steve Cross that’s not really support, it’s “support.” When he explicitly said he tended to agree with me that identity is largely unconscious I guess he wasn’t really agreeing.

    So not only did you intentionally lie about what BJ7 said, you also lied about what I said and bachfiend said.  Good luck out there in the real world, with all this intellectual dishonesty, may it serve you well in this post fact world where it doesn’t matter that people can literally search this blog and see exactly how you lied and misrepresented them.

  582. Steve Crosson 13 May 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Sophie,

    Ummm … a good skeptic should be aware that pretending a past mistake (i.e. scientism) is relevant to the current discussion is clearly a logical fallacy.

    And I completely disagree that I misrepresented BJ7’s words. I think it is perfectly reasonable and defensible to interpret his comments (all of them) to mean that memory is the most significant aspect of this particular situation but is not necessarily the only aspect.

    Finally, bachfiend “tends” to agree with your definition of identity, but he certainly did not rule out memory completely. In any event, I believe it is pretty clear that neither of you adequately address the “what makes me be me at a point in time” question which is really the crux of the issue.

    Sorry, but I’m on my way out the door for some prior obligations, so you’ll have to wait until probably tomorrow to show me the error of my ways.

  583. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Steve Cross,

    A) the scientism discussion matters because you were defending BJ7 for his behavior here for years. He said something hopelessly naive when he claimed scientism didn’t didn’t exist. So no it’s not fallacious to counter your claim that he isn’t naive for years, with evidence of him being quite naive recently.
    B) You most certainly did misrepresent BJ7. You didn’t even properly quote him, notice how you quoted a part of a sentence and didn’t use ellipses? Then your claim was contradicted in the following setences where he explicitly says “identity is memory” and “you are you because of your memories…”
    C) bachfiend explained in detail how many aspects of someone’s identity have nothing to do with consciously recalled memories. You are being intellectually dishonest by ignoring what he said.

  584. CKavaon 13 May 2017 at 8:53 pm

    lol… well that certainly brings back cozy memories Sophie! I was actually replying to Bachfiend but since you seem to have taken things so personally allow me to respond.

    Believe it or not, I didn’t get the Conway article from Wikipedia (even though you actually recommended doing so a few posts back, consistency thy name is not Sophie!). I was already familiar with Conway’s work because the research I’m involved with is related to memory processes and so I’m somewhat familiar with the literature- in particular Conway because of his work on flashbulb memories (and before you say, I know they are not reliable, so does Conway…).

 So yes, looking up one of the most cited papers on autobiographical memory by one of the most well known researchers in the field, didn’t require much time or effort, it took about 2 mins on google scholar. And you are also correct that I didn’t reread the whole article before recommending it… (dramatic pause!)

    But that’s because I’ve read the paper before and am familiar with Conway’s position. I just took a quote to illustrate my argument from a relevant summary that directly addresses the connection between autobiographic memory and self-identity. I could find you the same sentiments from recent papers but you’d find other reasons to dismiss those too so really what’s the point? At this stage it’s obvious all you care about is being ‘right’ and from past experience I know how counterproductive it is to try and argue against that tautology.

    I do however fully agree with your advice about the importance of reading the things you cite, including Wikipedia pages…

    



    In my humble opinion, you wouldn’t use an article from 17 years ago and ideas from the later 80s to defend your arguments. Cognitive psych has radically changed in the last few decades.

    Impressively humble comments! But even so dismissing papers from 2000 out of hand is ridiculous and doubly so when you have been promoting a perspective that is positively Freudian. Theories get updated and refined, and sometimes refuted, sure but many of the memory processes you reference are also based on theories that originally developed in the 70s and 80s, see Loftus’ work on false memories/confabulation etc., for example.

    Cognitive psychology has significantly developed in recent decades but, despite your confident assertions, I haven’t noticed the general consensus on the connection between autobiographical memory and self-identity dramatically changing during the same time. If it has then by all means please share the relevant references because I would be genuinely interested to read! But *note* I’m not asking for links that that demonstrate memories, autobiographical or otherwise, are fallible or that personality is related to identity since these are not things I am disputing. I’m specifically disagreeing with the suggestion that autobiographical memories are unimportant to self-identity and that this view reflects the current consensus in the research literature.

    Rather than trade insults and deal with your needlessly aggressive replies (“You fraud”, “one last F You”, etc.), I would be much more interested in discussing the sources you are basing your differing perspective on. But I have the distinct impression that your position isn’t based on some new research but rather on doubling down and defending your need to be ‘right’ at all costs and avoid the unthinkable horror(!) that you could be wrong (or people disagree with you for legitimate reasons).

    I don’t anticipate this going anywhere but further into the usual spiral of pedantism, petty insults, and endless outrage but it would be nice to be proved wrong.

  585. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Please show me where anyone said that memory doesn’t play any role in identity. Pretty sure no one said anything like that. For example what I said repeatedly was that identity alone does not explain all aspects of identity. I said that personality explains a lot and it’s mostly unconscious and not dependent on recall. Temperament is also not conscious.

  586. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 10:09 pm

    Ckava,

    The time between my analysis and your reply is over 16 hours. That’s enough time for you to sleep 8 hours, go to the gym, and fabricate all sorts of deceptive comments. It’s certainly enough time to have read the 22+ page paper. I skimmed it, and concluded it has literally nothing to do with BJ7’s “identity is memory.” Identity is certainly much more than memory. Conway is not an identity, self identity or self concept researcher. That’s the relevant expertise here not memory. We are trying to figure out what “identity” is, not how much memory explains.

    The facts still remain, it’s literally the second reference on Wikipedia, a page you yourself gave links too. It’s also dated, has no relevance to the specific issue being discussed. And the cherry on top, is that all you did was quote the first few lines. You didn’t mention a single significant thing about the paper. Most notably you failed to mention what they authors were proposing or talking about. All you did was repeat what’s basically on the Wikipedia page already, nothing you wrote indicates you read the paper and knew anything about the subject matter before beginning. And it still doesn’t. You just claimed you knew it already but didn’t actually say anything about the content of the paper.

    So the research your are involved in is related to memory processes? Prove it. Show us some of your work that explicitly references Conway or discusses how autobiographical memory relates to identity.

    If we look at your behavior in this thread we see someone who isn’t concerned with the discussion but rather just wanted to squabble over how personalities slightly change over time. Instead of focusing on what I was saying: personality does not have to be actively recalled, it’s not memory dependent, babies are born with a basic type of one, and it’s not autobiographical memory.

    Your response to my comments on personality, by using gotcha arguments to show how personalities slightly change over time, shows us everything we need to know about you. You put time into crafting that reply and you didn’t even realize what I was actually addressing. This is like when you stalked me in the Alex Jones thread. You also kept saying irrelevant things and you showed up so late to but into a conversation you knew nothing about. I don’t know you. Honestly. Yes people call me hardnose and cozyin and other names of sock puppets but I don’t actually know you. You can be a scholar. But your behavior here doesn’t show that.

    Conway does not study identity. We are trying to figure out how to define identity, not autobiographical memory. Therefore your defense of this paper and your claim of expertise is misguided showboating. It’s just a display of arrogance. The relevant issue here is the concept of “identity” which memory doesn’t adequately explain. You could be Conway yourself and still not have much to contribute to this discussion because it lies outside your speciality.

  587. bachfiendon 13 May 2017 at 10:14 pm

    This whole argument concerning whether identity depends on autobiographical memory arose from BillyJoe’s discussion of a form of Lastthursdayism a long time ago when he asked; ‘Suppose it was not the whole universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced’. And answered; ‘Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits a second again’.

    I argue that you are you because of the brain circuits regardless of whether they arose one second ago or developed over a lifetime as a result of genetics and experience. The ‘brain circuits’ do contain memory (as a result of largely forgotten experience) – semantic memory of facts (such as the meaning of words and the fact that you’re married) and procedural memory of skills developed (such as riding a bike) even if there’s no autobiographical memory of when or where these other memories were acquired.

    Autobiographical memory is different. Autobiographical memories when they’re retrieved are largely confabulated at the time they’re retrieved, which depends on the state of the person at that time. If your personal beliefs have radically changed from a decade ago, your autobiographical memory of what you believed 10 years gets edited to reflect what you believe now, so as to make yourself to be more sensible and self-consistent (although I suspect that Egnor does the reverse when he claims that he used to be both a liberal and an atheist until he experienced some sort of a personal epiphany and became both a conservative and a devout Catholic – as a means of making his current beliefs the result of ‘Reason’).

    To summarise. You are you because of a type of memory, which is unconscious and automatic. You don’t have to consciously remember the meaning of words, the fact you’re married or how to ride a bicycle. They’re all laid down in ‘brain circuits’ in the unconscious mind. You do have to consciously remember episodes in the past as autobiographical memory, and they’re largely confabulated and may be entirely false. Autobiographical memory is largely created and edited in the present, not stored from the past.

    Autobiographical memory is different to semantic memory and procedural memory. It’s unreliable. It’s largely forgotten over time. Even it’s remembered, it’s heavily edited. It may be completely false. Semantic and procedural memory are different in being reliable. You will remember the meaning of a word, or you won’t, but generally your definition of it won’t change if you learned it adequately in the first place. You’ll remember how to ride a bike, or you won’t, but you won’t be able to do tricks on your bike (such as riding handsfree) you weren’t able to do beforehand.

    So as a result, autobiographical memory is largely irrelevant to identity.

    This is independent of arguments concerning how the brain creates the conscious and unconscious minds, and consciousness in general.

  588. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 11:16 pm

    bachfiend even if it is unreliable that doesn’t mean it isn’t part of your identity. Let’s just assume for argument sake a radically false memory. Let’s say someone thinks they were assaulted by 10 people at the age of 4, something really horrific. It never happened, this is something an abusive parent implanted when they were 6. They have a vivid false memory of that event, and all sorts of narratives built up around it, and are now terrified of strangers as an adult, don’t trust anyone, are unwilling to go on dates, etc..

    How is that not part of their identity?

    Obviously in reality things aren’t so extreme. You are right there is evidence that memories are labile during recall (though it’s not as if they are liquified and completely remixed every time). The hippocampus and episodic memory isn’t useless, after all. HM wasn’t exactly better off for having anterograde amnesia.

    If you would want to say that the identity of someone with anterograde amnesia isn’t changed, then we are using drastically different senses of the word ‘identity.’ I don’t want to be me, but with anterograde amnesia. Because that wouldn’t be me anymore. Part of being me is to be able to learn new things, and remember learning them, and not be the guy from Memento. HM was a shell of his former self after his surgery.

    It seems unprincipled and unnecessary to insulate who we are from episodic memory, but not other types of memory. It’s all in the mix, for better or worse.

  589. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:29 pm

    He isn’t saying autobiographical memory isn’t part of identity. He never said that, neither did I. He said its largely irrelevant to identity and it is. Many other things explain identity much better than autobiographical memory.

  590. edamameon 13 May 2017 at 11:39 pm

    I am arguing it isn’t “largely irrelevant.” Ask HM and his family, and other people who have suffered from anterograde amnesia, how irrelevant it is to who they are day to day. I’d trade all sorts of procedural knowledge to keep my episodic memories and the ability to form new ones. I’d amputate both legs, in fact, if it meant I didn’t have to become HM.

  591. Sophieon 13 May 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Yeah so bachfiend already ran that down for us. That type of amnesia doesn’t just affect memory but other sorts of cognitive functions. Additionally that’s clearly an extreme case and not the normal state of affairs. If you could just get rid of memory and leave everything else unaffected then we could have a conversation about it. It seems like these processes are interconnected. Either way identity is more than autobiographical I think that’s the point.

  592. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 12:43 am

    Sophie & bachfiend,

    Maybe I should find a new word to describe what I mean in those transporter thought experiments, because even bachfiend doesnt get it.

    Maybe one of you could actually commnet on those transporter scenarios and see if we can meet in the middle somewhere.

    May I suggest the scenario that ends up with two Sophies both with intact memories.

    Each Sophie self identifies as Sophie. What do they base this self identification on? Certainly not on any subconscious or unconscious personality or temperament traits. Because how could something that is subconscious or unconscious be what causes Sophie to say she is Sophie. It has to be something she is consciously aware of. Memories. She remembers how she looks. She remebers what her parents look like and what their personalities and temperaments are like. Hell, she remembers what she is like. She remembers going to bed last night. She remembers getting up in the morning. Even the one that didn’t go to bed last night and get up in the morning remembers going to bed last night and getting up in the morning. So it is certainly not necessary for memories not to be false. All they need to be is memories. They can be completely fabricated as with the duplicated Sophie.
    So, both Sophies self identify as Sophie. When asked, they say yes of course I am Sophie. This is my face. This is my body. These are my parents. You can see they love me. I feel myself to be Sophie. And this is true for both Sophies.

    So, what is wrong with this account.

  593. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 12:45 am

    [apparently if use the backspacer the my locks up, but not every time, so I have to type really carefully and no make a mistake]

  594. bachfiendon 14 May 2017 at 12:58 am

    edamame,

    HM had rather more than the ability to retrieve episodic memories removed. He had more than both hippocampuses resected (surgery wasn’t particularly precise in those days) as was shown at autopsy when he died. And he continued to have epileptic seizures after surgery, with the requirement for heavy antiepileptic medication, which have neurological effects other than that on memory.

    His identity was dependent on more than his inability to store or retrieve episodic memories. And actually it took many years for researchers to realise that not only was he was unable to retrieve episodic memories from after his surgery, he was unable to recover episodic memories from before the surgery.

    Regarding your hypothetical example of a traumatic false memory affecting a person’s later identity, including social and personal problems; do you have any evidence that it ever happens? Usually what happens is that a person has personal problems, goes to a counsellor, who then implants the false memories of abuse as an explanation of the person’s problems.

    Parents often allege child abuse against estranged non-custodial parents, but do the children actually believe that the abuse happened? Would a parent be able to implant the false memory of an attack occurring 2 years earlier in a 6 year old causing later psychological problems and affecting identity?

    I still insist that the causal chain is actually the reverse of what is commonly accepted. Episodic memories don’t cause a person’s identity at any point of time. The person’s identity determines the content of episodic memories, if they’re retrieved at all that is ( as an example – I’m the youngest of 7 siblings, and one of my brothers tells the story of when another brother took me into town on the bus and then proceeded to lose me, which must have been memorable enough for him to have remembered it – assuming that it wasn’t fictional in the first place. What is my memory of the incident? Nothing. Zilch. It’s as though it never happened. Do I think it happened, and it’s now part of my autobiographical memory, whether false or true? I have no idea).

    My psychological problems, if I have any, and my identity, aren’t dependent on the episodic memories I’m able or not able to ‘retrieve’. My various (and numerous) psychological problems and my identity determine the episodic memories (and their content) I’m capable of recalling. But that’s not to say that your identity isn’t strongly affected by the numerous experiences you’ve had during your life which leave unconscious memories in the underlying ‘brain circuits’.

    You’d still be the same person if you’d been created 1 second ago (or transported by a Star Trek transporter) if the recreation is atom to atom exact with the brain circuits preserved.

  595. bachfiendon 14 May 2017 at 1:11 am

    BillyJoe,

    I seem to have answered your transponder question posed while I was in the process typing my previous comment. The two Sophies would both regard themselves as the true and original Sophie if the copies are atom for atom and brain circuit exact.

  596. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 1:18 am

    Regarding the different types of memory:

    Semantic memory:

    “Semantic memory refers to a portion of long-term memory that processes ideas and concepts that are not drawn from personal experience. Semantic memory includes things that are common knowledge, such as the names of colors, the sounds of letters, the capitals of countries and other basic facts acquired over a lifetime”

    So, I am not talking about semantic memory.
    Sophie does not self-identify as Sophie or feel herself to be Sophie because she can name colours.

    Procedural memory:

    “Procedural memory is a part of the long-term memory that is responsible for knowing how to do things, also known as motor skills. As the name implies, procedural memory stores information on how to perform certain procedures, such as walking, talking and riding a bike”

    So, I am not talking about procedural memory.
    Sophie does not self-identify as Sophie or feel herself to be Sophie because she can ride a bike.

    Episodic memory:

    “Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions, and other contextual who, what, when, where, why knowledge) that can be explicitly stated or conjured. It is the collection of past personal experiences that occurred at a particular time and place.”

    So, it’s episodic memory I am talking about.
    Sophie self identifies as Sophie or feels herself to be Sophie because she feels happy when she sees her beautiful face in the mirror like she did when she washed her face before going to bed last night.

    [Autobiographical memory is a combination of episodic memory and semantic memory]

    So, let’s stop talking about the different types of memory.

  597. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 1:21 am

    bachfiend,

    In the transporter scenario, on what basis do both Sophies self-identify as (or feel themselves to be) Sophie?

  598. edamameon 14 May 2017 at 1:40 am

    bachfiend–it wasn’t a super-clean surgery, but HM had many memories from before the surgery, he could form new procedural memories, his language skills were not wrecked that badly, and he could form new semantic memories (though not perfectly). What was most profound and obvious to anyone that knew him (and I know people that worked with him) was the crazy-ass anterograde amnesia that was incredibly crippling and ruined his life.

    There are much cleaner cases than HM, but his was pretty clear: put it this way — you don’t typically get damage this specific for cognitive functions in neuroscience. That’s why he was such a godsend.

    “Usually what happens is that a person has personal problems, goes to a counsellor, who then implants the false memories of abuse as an explanation of the person’s problems.”

    Do you really believe this? Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t doubt this *has* happened, but the claim that this is usually what happens seems wildly improbable, and frankly insulting to victims of abuse.

    You are overstating the biases of episodic memory to the point of it being a caricature. I have memories of getting married, of my daughter being born, of going to funerals, of graduating High School, etc.. These are part of who I am.

    I am 100% sure I am not making those events up. I can go look at pictures if I start to doubt myself, but really don’t need to. I have unpleasant memories of things I regret, that I sure wish I could make myself forget, that go against who I think I am (temperamentally and in other ways) and those are also part of my identity. E.g., stealing candy when I was a little kid.

    Furthermore, you keep trying to push things off to nebulous “unconscious” memories, as if that somehow makes them OK to influence your identity, but if they are conscious then they have no influence. It’s not like there is some magical dividing line here. It’s not as if unconscious memories aren’t subject to the same vagaries and inaccuracies as consciously accessible memories. It’s all fickle. It’s all a wet storage device that sometimes gets things right, sometimes wrong.

    There are actually studies of episodic memory and it can be tested against objective facts. For instance, one severely anterograde amnesiac patient remembered geographic information from childhood better than controls:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10458163

    You are acting like conscious recollection is merely a constant stream of confabulation, like waking from a dream. It is not. Unless you have horrible brain damage.

    Serious question: Are you aphantasiac?
    https://m.facebook.com/notes/blake-ross/aphantasia-how-it-feels-to-be-blind-in-your-mind/10156834777480504
    That might explain a lot here. Maybe you just have a different phenomenology of memory so actually don’t experience your episodic memories like I do (for me they are basically little virtual reality simulations in my head–maybe for you it is just all language and no visualization).

  599. CKavaon 14 May 2017 at 1:54 am

    lol again Sophie! The fact that you think I spent all of the hours you calculated to “craft” a response and read a paper just to spite you, says a lot more about you than me. Believe it or not, replying to your comments is not the number one priority in my life at the weekend.

    If you think Conway’s research and the specific paper I pointed to are irrelevant – good for you, I disagree and recommend that people read the paper and judge for themselves. As for showing you some of my work or proof it relates to memory and identity, lol no way, I’m not going back down that wormhole again. You can take my word for it or not, I really couldn’t care less whether you believe me or not. You interpret everything through this super defensive lens of presumed self aggrandizement and insecurity but not everyone thinks like you, I didn’t mention being familiar with the literature to belittle or impress anyone. I’m just explaining what my views are based on. You can dismiss that all you like and claim I’m lying about things I’ve read but it’s still true.

    I also didn’t accuse you of being a sock puppet. I haven’t noticed you voicing support for some other main account. You are free to change your username and adopt a new identity as you like but I’m not required to indulge you and pretend like I don’t recognize you post in the exact same style and hold all the same grudges as cozying. If you are not her then you should hope she comes back because you two would really get along, unfortunately she stopped posting almost exactly at the time you started. Oh and btw I don’t think anyone has accused ‘Sophie’ of being a hard nose sock puppet that was cozying. And that wasn’t me either…

    P.S. I probably won’t be able to respond anytime soon, please don’t take this as a sign that I am busy crafting my next response to you.

  600. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 1:58 am

    Instead of asking: “how much about someone’s identity can autobiographical memory explain?”
    Why don’t you try asking: “What doesn’t it explain?”
    It doesn’t explain personality. Is personality part of someone’s identity? I’d say so.

  601. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 3:12 am

    Ckava,

    Again with the gotcha-style attacks. Actually no, since I’ve started here people have compared me to all the people they don’t like, I get called a dualist, a theist, a pathologically sock person and the like. I’ve been compared and accused of being one with Egnor, Ian, hardnose, cozying, Alex Jones, gun nut, NRA activist… Even though all I did on here for two days in the Jesus threads was argue with Egnor I was compared to him,
    So he’s arguing with himself I guess? I’ve also been accused of being that other people. Curious about it, I’ve looked them up and noticed patterns of behavior. Like cozying is rarely here and was accused of being a sock puppet for I don’t know how many different people. He appears to be in just a few threads then vanishes for weeks? Months? I can’t find anything past a few months ago. But I just quickly searched, maybe there is a different account or spelling I wasn’t using. Unlike that person I’ve been consistently here since I started, I also in this sort time have maybe like 3x their posts. And if I had access to other accounts I would definitely show up and act like I was a different person. If I’m these other people wouldn’t it make sense to just switch over into that other account and leave a message that shows some kind of independence? Also you insisting I’m this other angry person with grudges ignores the times I agreed with you, which are quite numerous actually since I started. I agreed with everything you wrote in most of the threads I was in but like two? everything you said about religion I agreed with basically. I even backed your arguments against Steven’s categorization of the historicity of Jesus. Hate me though, it’s okay my heart is filled with love and patience.

  602. bachfiendon 14 May 2017 at 5:05 am

    BillyJoe,

    Semantic memories and procedural memories aren’t just implanted into the brain (I wish they were – I’d love to become a competent classical pianist by just having the skill downloaded into my brain). The person has to go through the process of acquiring the memories, but once the memories are acquired the person doesn’t remember when or where the memories were acquired (unless they were acquired very recently).

    A person recognises himself in a mirror, because 1. Who else could it be? 2. Humans have the automatic unconscious ability to identify faces without having to go through a gallery of faces distributed through an autobiographical account. Faces are stored in semantic memory, not autobiographical memory.

    CKava,

    HM didn’t have numerous memories from before the surgery. There were perhaps just 2, one being a generic road trip and the other a brief joy flight in a small plane. I also noted that he had other neurological problems besides the surgery. He continued to have epileptic seizures requiring heavy antiepileptic medications, both of which could and did cause continuing and increasing neurological effects, as demonstrated in the post-mortem.

    You cast doubt on the fact that false memories can’t be implanted into clients as an explanation of current psychological problems? Well how about providing evidence that it’s ever possible for your assertion that it’s possible to implant false memories into a normal person which go on to cause psychological problems.

    I’m not claiming that you don’t remember getting married. I’m claiming that a lot if not most of your memories of your marriage ceremony are confabulated or edited. And that your current identity depends much more on the fact that you we’re happily married (or not) in the years subsequently based on experiences not remembered rather than you remember the wedding. And your current emotional feelings about your marriage.

    I’m not certain how I experience episodic memories. I’m pretty certain I don’t remember them as ‘little virtual simulations in my head’. I think I remember them as word based stories. For example, I remember first hearing about the September 11 attacks as being on a train travelling from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg. But I don’t have any mental pictures of the train. Or the people who told me about the attacks. Or anything else about that particular day.

  603. edamameon 14 May 2017 at 9:31 am

    bachfiend that last response was to me, not Ckava.

    I think you don’t visualize like most people do. I’d be curious if you relate to that article. That would explain a lot in this discussion. I literally have visual imagery, and some people don’t (they tend to describe things in verbal terms). They key point is when I remember something I reexperience it, with visual imagery, emotional tone, and auditory experiences recreated (in imagery) from the original event.

    My claim about false memories was to make a conceptual point: that even if a memory is false that doesn’t imply it doesn’t bear on someone’s identity. That’s why I prefaced it with “For argument’s sake..” This was simply to preclude the argument in this thread that the unreliability of episodic memory precludes it from bearing on identity. This is a bad argument. I never said that such things happen. You are the one saying episodic memories are unreliable, after all. But it is possible to implant false memories, though it is not as common as people might think (whether as a therapist or a parent):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28163368

    HM had more than just two memories, but he did have retrograde amnesia biased to the time of surgery (and you are refering to the two memories that he described in extremely vivid terms). Further, that article I posted about memory of childhood routes was not about HM.

    Speaking of HM, even with his diminished memory capacity, even he stressed its importance for who he was:
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/may/05/henry-molaison-amnesiac-corkin-book-feature

    One of the fascinating, unsettling impulses in reading Henry’s life is that sense of identity being a bundle of all of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Henry loved to relate the few clear memories of his childhood, over and over, though he lacked a context for them and the face he surprised himself with in the mirror each morning did not quite connect with them. Corkin heard those stories many times over the years; every time she left the room for a minute and returned to Henry he introduced himself as if they had never met before, and told the stories again. Some were the family lore of how his father had moved north from Louisiana; others involved going roller skating as a child in the park, taking banjo lessons, driving with his parents along the Mohawk Trail.

  604. edamameon 14 May 2017 at 9:39 am

    bachfiend wrote:

    I’m not claiming that you don’t remember getting married. I’m claiming that a lot if not most of your memories of your marriage ceremony are confabulated or edited.

    As I argued, it is not particularly relevant whether they are edited they are still part of who I am. There is actually a ton of research on episodic memory, in both humans and nonhumans, and how its accuracy and development changes over time in development: it just isn’t as inaccurate as you suggest (not that we are being very precise), and not an ongoing confabulation. The hippocampal memory system isn’t a piece of crap after all.

    As we discussed last month here, memories are stored on first exposure and then slowly offloaded to cortex, the balance of hippocampal and cortical storage slowlyl changes as the memory becomes “long term.” This does not suggest a model of pure confabulation, but a model of long-term information storage and retrieval. That is, the standard model. You see, memory is not all that different from perception. You might as well argue that perception is confabulation.

    As I said above, you have given a caricature of the research on episodic memory. Just a couple of studies:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22981810
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11195990
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28386011

    And that your current identity depends much more on the fact that you we’re happily married (or not) in the years subsequently based on experiences not remembered rather than you remember the wedding. And your current emotional feelings about your marriage.

    Yes, which is also strongly dependent on episodic memory. If my episodic memories were of a horrible wife who was a liar and thief, my current emotional feelings about my marriage would be very different.

    In general, the model of memory you are proposing is too diaphanous, fractionated, and at odds with well-established neuoscience and psychology for me to take seriously. Even though memory details are labile and subject to errors of insertion, edits, and deletion, and (perhaps some) confabulation, that doesn’t mean they aren’t part of our identity. I would say they are an extremely important component of my identity. And memory is the storage and retrieval of information.

    Ultimately debates about “how important” or “not important” are sort of silly. If X is a necessary component, then it is important. If you remove them, for instance getting anterograde amnesia, your life sucks, and you are no longer yourself, and your identity can no longer change and adapt and grow in a very significant way, even if you can form new procedural memories. Cases of anterograde amnesia in humans, while correlated with other syndromes, are some of the purest neuropsychological syndrommes we have, messy as they are.

  605. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 9:44 am

    bachfiend,

    I think we are on a different wavelength.

    “Semantic memories and procedural memories aren’t just implanted into the brain”

    Are you saying that duplicated Sophie can’t ride a bike?
    Or are you saying that is not relevant to my comments here?
    I know semantic memories and procedural memories aren’t just implanted into the brain, but I’m asking you to comment on the transporter scenario.

    “The person has to go through the process of acquiring the memories, but once the memories are acquired the person doesn’t remember when or where the memories were acquired”

    I learned to ride a bicycle at age 10 in FernTreeGully, a motorcycle at age 18 in Burnley, and a car at age 23 in Croydon. I learned the times table in grade 3 at St Johns Primary school, and the meaning of apparatchik the first day I met my future father-in-law in his lounge room.

    “A person recognises himself in a mirror, because 1. Who else could it be?”

    Well, if you are responding to the transporter scenario, it could be the other Sophie. If you are not talking about that scenario, then you reply is not relevant.

    “2. Humans have the automatic unconscious ability to identify faces without having to go through a gallery of faces distributed through an autobiographical account. Faces are stored in semantic memory, not autobiographical memory”

    I think you mean episodic memory.
    Autobiographical memory is episodic memory plus semantic memory.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobiographical_memory

    “Autobiographical memory is a memory system consisting of episodes recollected from an individual’s life, based on a combination of episodic (personal experiences and specific objects, people and events experienced at particular time and place) and semantic (general knowledge and facts about the world) memory”

    And perhaps I meant autobiographical memory instead of episodic memory.
    But you didn’t respond to the following question: “In the transporter scenario, on what basis do both Sophies self-identify as (or feel themselves to be) Sophie?”

  606. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 9:48 am

    [My computer, ipad, ipod, and iphone all developed problems more or less simultaneously over the same few days. Apparently I had been ignoring prompts to update and all my electronic devices were linked. We just spent 4 hours correcting this – my wife is a IT person, so actually, when I say we I meant her]

  607. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 10:21 am

    edamame:

    “when I remember something I reexperience it, with visual imagery, emotional tone, and auditory experiences”

    Same here.

    Some things I can remember in great detail.
    I went for a mountain-trail run this morning and can recall it in graphic visual detail now. I can run myself through large sections of it. In my mind’s eye I can see the top of that rise with a single person track through a grassy flat surface surrounded by tall trees disappearing in the mist on all sides; the slightly cool breeze, the smell of dew on grass mixed with the earthy scents from the trail itself, and the sounds of cockatoos in the distance.
    I used to go to church every Sunday morning. Goddamn the time I wasted back in those days.

    But one of my sons reads books without pictures forming in his head. He doesn’t appreciate that he is missing out on something pretty special. Some people dream in black and white! Some have never had what is called a “vivid dream”.

  608. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 10:56 am

    “A person recognises himself in a mirror, because 1. Who else could it be?”

    The reason why an entity recognises itself in a mirror is not just by learning its unique mirror-image characteristics/features (static recognition); but mostly by the fact that the image exactly mimics the way it moves in real time (dynamic recognition).

    Sophie1 and Sophie2 each look in their own mirrors: Sophie1 knows she isn’t Sophie2 because Sophie2 would be incapable of exactly mimicking the movements of Sophie1 in real time, and vice versa.

    Conversely, Sophie1 and Sophie2 each look at a photograph of the original Sophie: they would each think that it was a photograph of their former self (via static recognition).

  609. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 11:04 am

    Yes many people can claim to remember a great deal of details and see so clearly the events from the past. But this is just a feeling. Human memory is so bad. Your confidence in your memories is a massive problem. Go ahead. Take a GoPro video of your run. And then when you are done try to recall everything without the video. There will likely be so many things you missed.

  610. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 11:06 am

    BillyJoe7,

    But one of my sons reads books without pictures forming in his head. He doesn’t appreciate that he is missing out on something pretty special. Some people dream in black and white! Some have never had what is called a “vivid dream”.

    Good points, to which I’ll add: Some people don’t have the ability to recognise faces (prosopagnosia; aka face blindness); and some, but not all, people ‘hear’ an inner voice in their head while they are reading.
    https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/02/22/you-hear-a-voice-in-your-head-when-youre-reading-right/

  611. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 11:09 am

    Pete A,

    Also to piggyback onto what you said. Sophie in the mirror isn’t the real Sophie, it’s not how she looks to everyone else, it’s a mirror image, but this image feels very real to her and she might like it more than how she looks in some photographs. Her own self-perception of her face is based on a flawed mirror image, and not the reality everyone else sees. I know this was certainly the case for me before the selfie-age, sometimes I would look at photos of me and think they looked weird. But now I guess I’m used to it.

  612. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 11:13 am

    Also when I run or drive home or something, I sometimes completely forget where I am or where I’m going. I don’t have 100% awareness of the five senses the entire time, I think about different things. I always arrive home safe though. If you asked me to recall perfectly every single thing that happened I wouldn’t do so well. Neither would most people as this is quite normal.

  613. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 11:15 am

    Also BJ7’s super confidence in the memory of his run is likely this:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagination_inflation

  614. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 11:23 am

    Sophie,

    I know what you mean about the reversed mirror image and how real it feels. I don’t like the look of myself in a mirror, but I look even worse in photos and videos 🙁

  615. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 11:28 am

    Pete,

    I’m sure you look fine, I look silly. I lift my left hand and the mirror-me lifts her right hand. Lol

    The point here is that your ideas about yourself, right down to your own image of yourself, is flawed. How you look in the mirror isn’t how you look to everyone else. But for most of my life, the mirror-me was the me I saw myself as.

    This is kinda like autobiographical memory and identity, you can think all these lovely things about yourself, like BJ7’s perfect sensory recall, but in reality you are normal person with normal memory capacity. You can see yourself as a chosen one like Egnor, but in reality your life from the outside hasn’t changed much, yes your self-identity might have changed, but your overall identity, and personality, hasn’t changed much.

  616. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 11:40 am

    Sophie,

    “Yes many people can claim to remember a great deal of details and see so clearly the events from the past. But this is just a feeling. Human memory is so bad. Your confidence in your memories is a massive problem. Go ahead. Take a GoPro video of your run. And then when you are done try to recall everything without the video. There will likely be so many things you missed”

    “Also BJ7’s super confidence in the memory of his run is likely this”

    Why do you do this?
    Why do you misrepresent what others say?
    We were talking about the ability of forming pictures in your head.
    My son can’t do it. I can.
    I said nothing about how accurate that picture is, only that I have pictures in my head of that run.

    And I’ve been at pains to say and to agree that memories are not accurate and that they are unreliable.

  617. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 11:59 am

    Sophie,

    “like BJ7’s perfect sensory recall”

    Nope.

    All I said that I remember things with detailed vivid pictures in my head.
    Nowhere did I say that they were accurate, let alone perfect.
    No doubt you will twist my words to say otherwise.
    But we were talking specifically about having detailed and vivid pictures in our heads (me and edamame) when we recall events whereas others like my son and maybe bachfiend don’t form pictures at all.

  618. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 11:59 am

    BJ7,

    I went for a mountain-trail run this morning and can recall it in graphic visual detail now. I can run myself through large sections of it. In my mind’s eye I can see the top of that rise with a single person track through a grassy flat surface surrounded by tall trees disappearing in the mist on all sides; the slightly cool breeze, the smell of dew on grass mixed with the earthy scents from the trail itself, and the sounds of cockatoos in the distance.

    This is what you wrote. This is over confidence is memory. This is not reality.

  619. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 12:04 pm

    …it’s 2am and I’m off to sleep. Please feel free to misrepresent me some more for the next six hours or so without the nuisance of being corrected by me.

  620. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 12:10 pm

    “This is what you wrote. This is over confidence is memory. This is not reality”

    Thanks for doing just like I predicted: “No doubt you will twist my words to say otherwise”
    Now quote me saying my recall was an accurate recall
    Can’t do it? Didn’t think so.
    So, instead of doubling down, please retract your misrepresentations of what I said.

  621. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 12:14 pm

    In case you still don’t get it, I said my recall was detailed and graphic not that it was accurate.
    The words “detailed” and “graphic” appear in my account to describe my recall, not the word “accurate”.
    Quote me describing my recall as “accurate” or apologise.

  622. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Sophie,

    I’ve always been fascinated with discussions about identity because during my childhood I was severely punished for being me instead of the person I was expected to be: the perfectly-behaved totally-subservient girl that my parents had prayed for before my conception.

    My identity consists of only my birth certificate and my UK National Insurance number. The only people who can describe who I am are: a few friends; some former colleagues; and two experts in clinical psychology. Their various descriptions overlap in some areas (consensus) and diverge in many other areas, so I really don’t know who I am.

    I guess that who I am consists of: my attributes; my behaviour(s); and how I respond to verbal and written messages. Being aware of the list of cognitive biases and the list of logical fallacies makes me realise that I shall never be able to figure out who I am:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

    The only thing that I do know with absolute certainty is that which I achieved during my career in applied science.

  623. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Pete A,

    What role do you think autobiographical memory plays in overall “identity?” Just as an abstract general concept or however specifically you choose to define it. I would say that other things play a bigger role.

  624. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Sophie,

    Most of the people who come here want to learn something , have an interesting conversation, perhaps
    even engage in spirited debate. You are one of the few people who insist on turning it into a blood sport — particularly as it pertains to your perceived “enemies”.

    You’ve essentially created a controversy out of pure semantics, apparently because BillyJoe7 has had the temerity to disagree with you in the past. Even if I’m wrong about that, it sure as hell looks that way.

    You (and to a lesser extent, bachfiend) are describing a general definition of identity and pretending that it somehow invalidates BJ7’s very, very specific case. In addition, you are (mis)interpreting his position to mean something very different from the way most of the rest of the commenters seem to understand it.

    I don’t appreciate being called a liar. When I said:

    “but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories”
    This whole thing started with this statement.
    Embedded within is the clear implication (I’d actually claim it is an unambiguous declaration) that the entirety of your being is required for you to still be you.
    It DOES NOT say that memories are the only thing that is required — full stop.
    It does make the claim that WITHOUT ALL of your memories, you would no longer be exactly the same person.

    you claimed that I took his words out of context and that I misrepresented his position. I strongly disagree.

    The surrounding context you quoted:

    Suppose it was not the whole universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced. Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.

    actually reinforces my point. I thought it was clear to any impartial observer that the “you” in the original snippet refers to a physical body thus necessarily including every single component of identity that you have categorized. The “brain circuits” in the surrounding words completely confirm my interpretation.

    The “complete with memories” makes the claim that memories are the required, defining characteristic that we need to identify a specific, unique individual. This is not an unreasonable interpretation of his words inasmuch as most of the other commenters seem to have understood it to mean exactly that.

    Yours is the outlier opinion, and it is only an opinion — it sure as hell doesn’t give you the right to call me a liar.

    No one, including BJ7 has ever implied that memories (and identity) are not influenced by genetics, hormones, environment and anything else you care to claim, but all of that is completely irrelevant to the question under discussion. Unless all of those memories, regardless of how they were formed or influenced, are exactly the same it is not reasonable to claim that the person you’ve created is the same, specific (but no longer unique) individual.

    Even bachfiend has said:

    You’d still be the same person if you’d been created 1 second ago (or transported by a Star Trek transporter) if the recreation is atom to atom exact with the brain circuits preserved.

    Without this hypothetical transporter, the only possible way this could happen in real life is if every single memory was created in exactly the same way. Yes of course identical genetics, environment, etc. would still be required, but none of that defines what is unique. Different perhaps, but not unique.

    It doesn’t matter if memories are autobiographical or not, forgotten or not, confabulated or not, or anything else that also contributes to a person’s sense of identity. Unless they have exactly the same memories, they can’t be considered to be the same person.

  625. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 1:58 pm

    It’s a tautology to say Sophie1 and Sophie2 are the same in every way. Therefore they have the same memories and identities. This isn’t a profound conclusion. In fact it means almost nothing, is circular reasoning and true by definition.

    Not only isn’t that what Billy originally said but various clarifications have reinforced how he was specifically talking about autobiographical memories. His own words. Numerous people have also defended that idea.

    Identity is not just autobiographical memory, in fact it’s a weak representation of someone’s overall identity. When I tried to argue along genetic lines, that temperament has nothing to do with memory but nevertheless has a role in “identity,” I was essentially mocked by a couple people. I’m still right though laugh as much as you want.

    Personality comes from temperament and is unconscious and also not dependent on active recall like autobiographical accounts. When I said this, I was mocked, I’m still right though. Every single psychological definition I can find about “identity” has personality mentioned in it. Personality is not autobiographical memory. So laugh all you want, you are wrong.

    The relevant question here is: What is identity? Not: how much of identity can be explained by autobiographical memory.

    Identity is the relevant topic not autobiographical memory.

    Personality explains so much more about a person than their autobiographical accounts.

  626. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Sophie,

    What role do you think autobiographical memory plays in overall “identity?” Just as an abstract general concept or however specifically you choose to define it. I would say that other things play a bigger role.

    Having read my mother’s autobiography, then later discovering [by her own admission] some of the deliberate lies that she wrote, I have gained an unwanted insight into the role that autobiographical memory plays in overall “identity”. It seems to me that some people have a deeply-vested interest in changing their autobiographical memory. Whether they actually manage to change their internal memory, or they just change their outward persona by endlessly telling lies to themselves and others, is far beyond my limited areas of expertise.

    I don’t believe in the theory that people try to minimize their cognitive dissonance, simply because I have known people who seem to have spent their lives trying to maximize their ‘cognitive dissonance’ in order to become maximally belligerent whenever they are challenged.

    Apologies for my poor wording. I find it especially difficult to select the right words when I’m writing about things which have caused decades of emotional turmoil. But, I think it is important to discuss these issues because an ‘average person’ is not representative of most persons: as more than adequately demonstrated by the normal distribution:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution

  627. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Pete,

    Thanks for sharing I wouldn’t worry too much about the wording, I think it’s fine.

    I don’t know if you read what I wrote in this thread about “person X.” But I essentially tried to demonstrate how small someone’s autobiographical accounts are in comparison to their overall identity. Person X is a creationist who uses fallacious reasoning to promote many messed up ideas. He sees himself as a warrior for the church and as chosen by god. He certainly talks about it a lot, and promotes 2400 year old ideas. Now does that really explain person X’s identity? What if I told you he was a successful pediatric neurosurgeon? That he’s highly intelligent? What if I told you I would trust him to operate on my child? Am I a fool for not trusting his own autobiographical, anti-scientific, illogical accounts? Or is his identity much more than his personal stories and recollections about himself?

  628. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Sophie,

    Once again, you are answering a question that no one has asked. No one has ever denied that identity has many components, nor has anyone ever said that personality was ONLY caused by autobiographical memory, merely that it is likely to have some effect. For that matter, you were the one that brought up personality in the first place simply because you feel compelled to prove BJ7 wrong.

    And “disagreement” DOES NOT EQUAL “mocking”. Your insecurity is palpable. You have been treated AT LEAST as respectfully as you have treated others, and no one has come close to mocking your views — they have merely disagreed with some of them.

  629. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Sophie,

    I had given considerable thought to your comment about “person X” before you wrote it 🙂 You probably missed my comment in a different thread in which I sincerely thanked that person for his work in both saving lives and easing the suffering of many.

  630. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I’m allowed to ask and answer questions. I’m allowed to posit my own questions and and answer them. I’m even allowed to answer questions no one asked. I’m not beholden to you.

    The relevant question in this discussion is: “What is identity?”
    Not: “how much of identity can autobiographical memory explain?”

    Every person who’s defended the idea that identity is autobiographical memory is a person’s identity is not only answering the wrong question but they are looking at the problem the wrong way.

    Personality explains much more and it’s not dependent on conscious recall. You should be looking at that and concluding that there is so much more to this issue then autobiographical memory. So far the only serious commentary to my personality points was provided by someone who just wanted to bicker over exceptions and how sometimes personalities change slightly and memories can influence it.

    Also you shouldn’t be looking at social identity and language based descriptions of someone’s identity. You should ask:
    How did identity evolve? Where did it come from?

    To which I did offer a reply. Identity has its origins not in complex autobiographical accounts but in consciousness itself. To be aware is to have some basic type of identity. This is the origin of all more complex forms of identity and is in fact a prerequisite. Notice how this has nothing to do with autobiographical memory?

  631. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 3:26 pm

    “[Sophie] The relevant question in this discussion is: ‘What is identity?'”

    I eagerly await definitive answers. Thus far, all I’ve gathered from the heated exchanges is what identity perhaps isn’t.

    Well, water perhaps isn’t carbon. So ‘effing what? It tells me nothing about what water actually is.

  632. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Pete,

    Identity certainly predates autobiographical memory, evolutionarily speaking. So start there, and build till you have a coherent explanation that isn’t just based on very modern, language-based and complex things.

    Identity is who/what someone is. Certainly people were people before they had language. They certainly knew they were not the prey they hunted nor the predators they feared. Therefore identity has to start here or even earlier.

    Let’s magically wipe my autobiographical memory, did I lose my identity? No. All other types of memory are still there. I would still be able to type, ride a bike and pass math tests. I would still know I’m not the keyboard, the bicycle or the math test. I am me. It would be like memento that semifamous movie. I would certainty still know a great deal about myself and my relationship with the world around me.

    In fact the truest version of myself isn’t my autobiographical accounts, it’s the present moment. Memory is fallible and yes humans can make many mistakes in the present. But the present is fresh, raw and primal.

    This is all internal accounts. From the extrenal point of view, your Government issued ID is a type of identity. But also how you behave over time, personality has a profound impact on who someone is and how they act, and they aren’t even aware of it most of the time. Personality is not autobiographical memory.

  633. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Sophie,

    Of course you are allowed to ask questions. It is just your incessant need to phrase them in such a way as to try to prove that you are right and that everyone who even mildly disagrees is not only wrong, but completely wrong.

    Once upon a time you said “Is not the point of being a skeptic to fight the best possible version of your opponent’s argument?” and to your credit you do manage to do that on occasion, especially when first engaging with someone new. Which is a great idea. It forces the other person to immediately produce their best argument while not wasting a lot of time on weaker versions.

    But you never seem to do that when dealing with “critics” and I’m using the word critic to mean pretty much anyone who has ever disagreed with you about anyone. In fact, you go out of your way to pick fights. You choose to interpret some peoples statements in the least flattering way or even imagine things which were never said or implied.

    Case in point:

    Also BJ7’s super confidence in the memory of his run is likely this:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagination_inflation

    which is not only rude and condescending, it is completely unsupported by any evidence.

    If you could get the chip off your shoulder, learn to accept that reasonable people can occasionally disagree, and just let bygones by bygones, I think everyone would enjoy themselves more, including you.

  634. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Sophie,

    I found your reply very interesting.

    During my career, every inanimate entity which I used I fully documented by its make, model, serial number, and its current firmware and software version numbers if applicable — which enabled independent auditors of my work to properly trace the calibration history, and the fault reports, of those entities.

    In other words, I fully documented the attributes, behaviours, and the histories of those entities from an external perspective.

    However, I used those specific entities not just because I needed to provide quality assurance of their integrity, but mostly because I needed to know their internal perspective/interpretation/representation of their inputs. Such entities are reliably, repeatedly, objective — even though each of their microsecond-level of ever-changing internal states are technically subjective in the domain of real-world non-sampled continuous [non-quantized] quantities.

    Similarly, when we use statistics we are seeking a mathematically-sound opinion of the data. An opinion that is fully auditable to (usually, internationally-agreed) standards.

    In the science of object-oriented programming (OOP), each and every instance of its definitive class, that is instantiated with identical attributes, has identical behaviours and responses to messages. But, the whole point of OOP — and of all clones of the same entity — is that each of the instantiated objects will become different from each other as they adapt to the different inputs that each receives.

    Likewise, after the original Sophie becomes Shophie1 and Sophie2 in the transporter, Sophie1 and Sophie2 will increasingly diverge because their inputs are received from different physical locations in space — locations which are, by definition, different perspectives of 3D+1 space-time!

    NB: None of the above is intended to be argumentative. I’m just trying to convey my thoughts on the meaning of the term “identity”.

  635. bachfiendon 14 May 2017 at 5:35 pm

    This discussion started a long time ago when BillyJoe discussing a version of Lastthursdayism asked:

    ‘Suppose it was not the entire universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced. Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago’.

    ‘Memories experienced’ is as good a definition of episodic memories as any. Semantic memories and procedural memories aren’t stored as episodes in time or space. You might be able to work back and reason from what you know now that you learned basic arithmetic in 3rd grade at a particular school because your children learned arithmetic at around that corresponding age, but you won’t know when, where or how as a specific episode learning that the product of 3 and 4 is 12. It’s just a fact.

    Procedural memories are the same. You might be able to reason when and where you learned to ride a bike, but you don’t remember the actual experience of learning to ride a bike with all its feelings of instability and danger when you get onto a bike today. You just do it.

    Obviously if you were created one second ago (or duplicated as a copy with a Star Trek transporter) you wouldn’t be created as a blank slate. You’d be created with memories. And the minimum needed for the copy to have the same identity as you would be one with at least one with semantic memories (including language in order to communicate a sense of identity) and procedural membranes.

    The question is – how important is episodic memory in giving a sense of identity? I argue that it’s not very important. Episodic memories are being continually lost. Not only that, but episodic memories are also constructed in the present – confabulated. It’s a myth that memories are a faithful reproduction of past events.

    I argue that identity depends much more on semantic memory and procedural memory. You know your name, but you don’t remember the episode in which you were told your name. You remember as a semantic fact that you’re married and your spouse’s name but you need not remember your wedding (and many wives complain that their husbands don’t). Your identity might be dependent on being a very good golfer, but you don’t remember the frustration of individual bad swings when you were starting out.

    Your identity if you were created one second ago depends on having intact semantic and procedural memory, not whether you have many, few or no episodic memories. You’d still have the same identity even if you wonder next week or next year why don’t have the episodic memory of your wedding (or it’s different to your spouse’s episodic memory).

    The case of HM, though fascinating, is irrelevant. If you were created one second ago as a perfect copy, but lacking somewhat more than both hippocampuses, and also with a predisposition to frequent epileptic seizures and the need to continue heavy antiepileptic medications, then your identity isn’t the same, because you’re not a perfect copy.

    The subject of how the feeling of self-identity is created is a fascinating one. It’s just occurred to me that the Capgras syndrome (in which a person regards familiar people as imposters because he is incapable of generating the expected emotional response) and the Cotard syndrome (in which the person has the delusion that he’s already dead and putrefacting) are related to identity. Both are usually psychiatric, but sometimes can be related to a lesion in a specific part of the brain (and perhaps the psychiatric ones are also caused by a functional, not structural, misfiring of the same regions?).

    If you had either syndrome, then your identity would be markedly changed. But your memory, whether episodic, semantic or procedural, may or may not be affected.

  636. bachfiendon 14 May 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I apologise for the typo’s in the previous comment.

    If I had to define ‘identity’, i would say that it is the illusion of being a thinking entity within a specific physical body generated by various regions of the brain acting together. Disturbances of any region affect the sense of identity, producing such phenomena as out of body experiences.

    Memories are just a description of a specific identity, not the identity itself. I sometimes wonder whether JK Rowling was thinking of the Cotard syndrome when she referred to the victims of the Dementors’ Kiss? The victims being alive, but effectively dead with all the feelings of despair?

  637. BillyJoe7on 14 May 2017 at 5:52 pm

    It seems Sophie is not going to do either.

    She won’t quote me characterising my recall as “accurate” because she can’t find any such quote.
    And she won’t apologise because of her pig-headed need never to admit she was wrong.

  638. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Pete,

    Yes exactly! We need to look at this issue from the inside and from the outside. Also history and development of machines determine a lot about them. Things are often designed a certain way because they have to be compatible with older technologies or because we used some of the same tools and techniques to make the previous version. Like legacy systems I think it’s called in computing, though I know nothing about it. The wetware circuitry of the human brain is based on older systems. Additions were made on top of older parts.

    Bach,

    I think you captured self identity pretty well, by claiming its a sophisticated illusion. I would agree. I certainly don’t think it’s as important as people think it is. I would also argue that self identity explains very little about who someone really is, objectively speaking in terms of observable behaviors. Personality explains so much more.

  639. Pete Aon 14 May 2017 at 6:42 pm

    “[Sophie] The wetware circuitry of the human brain is based on older systems. Additions were made on top of older parts.”

    Yes indeed! I think that the main difference between me and a cow (one of my favourite animals) is that only one of our two species has reached the stage of laughing when the other burps and farts. The last time I checked, cows are not religious, therefore I’m still wondering which species is the most intelligent.

  640. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 6:53 pm

    bachfiend,

    I don’t think that anyone is trying to claim that identity requires or is equivalent to retaining ALL of a person’s memories. I’ll let BJ7 speak for himself, but I’ve mentioned on several occasions that it seems to me that your current “identity” seems to be the “result” of experiencing a life’s worth of memories.

    Certainly, genetics and other factors may place constraints on how those memories are formed, stored, prioritized, and recalled (or not), but it still seems hard to believe that the memories themselves aren’t the defining characteristics of what makes an individual identity unique.

    And whether or not we retain much episodic memory, it seems to me that the semantic and procedural memory that we do retain is entirely dependent on WHICH episodic memory events we lived through in the first place. So I can’t understand why you seem to believe it is not very significant.

  641. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 7:08 pm

    BillyJoe7,

    It seems Sophie is not going to do either.
    She won’t quote me characterising my recall as “accurate” because she can’t find any such quote.
    And she won’t apologise because of her pig-headed need never to admit she was wrong.

    Yup. She seems to be able to conveniently overlook difficult questions or arguments that are impossible to refute.

    She is also ignoring my comment in which I included your challenge plus some other inconvenient questions.

  642. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Cross and BJ7

    Some of the interactions here have proven to not be very productive. Sorry if you feel ignored, I don’t see the point in replying to Steve Cross for example because he literally misquoted BJ7. He ripped part of sentence, didn’t use ellipses and then wrote a “charitable defense” that wasn’t supported by the rest of the paragraph he misquoted. And BJ7 it doesn’t matter if you didn’t use the specific word “accurate” I was referring to your inflated imaginative memories and your over confidence in your own memories. Also attacking Bach as having some rare disorder is not
    Okay, instead of just trying to see what he is saying, which is very accurate btw.

    Everyone here still talking about how much of identity can be explained by autobiographical memory is just wrong. Clearly hundreds of comments won’t sway you from repeating your fluffy narratives.

    Identity is what’s being discussed. Not autobiographical memories. Also you feel ignored? I don’t see you replying to my many different explanations for identity. I see you dwelling on your favorite topics and many insults and all-caps yelling.

  643. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 7:52 pm

    BJ7 explicitly wrote that we are our memories and that identity is memory.
    Steve Cross took the sentence before that and mounted a defense based on “compete with memories,” he used that to claim it’s not just memories the person was created with. This is intellectual dishonesty. If you can’t see it, that’s okay, but it’s wrong. There is an objective reality here. He also didn’t use ellipses but blockquoted it…. so I don’t know what to say, Wrong is wrong. Flat out misquoting someone is wrong.

  644. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 7:59 pm

    The issue of “completeness” was not the relevant point. The discussion was about what is the nature of identity. BJ7 said it was memory. Then clarified and wrote more and more about memory.

    To defend this and claim that he didn’t mean memory, he meant everything together and “complete.” Is dishonest. His words directly contradict your defense of them.

  645. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Sophie,

    I don’t see the point in replying to Steve Cross for example because he literally misquoted BJ7. He ripped part of sentence, didn’t use ellipses and then wrote a “charitable defense” that wasn’t supported by the rest of the paragraph he misquoted.

    Try again, I think I show pretty clearly that I represented BJ7’s views very accurately. See:

    Steve Cross on 14 May 2017 at 1:29 pm

    FYI, back in the dark ages when I went to school, ellipses were only used in the middle of a quote when you removed superfluous text. Pretty sure the same rule still applies. And the helpful “context” that you provided did not change the meaning of my selection at all.

    And BJ7 it doesn’t matter if you didn’t use the specific word “accurate” I was referring to your inflated imaginative memories and your over confidence in your own memories.

    So you freely admit that you feel justified in inferring whatever you want to from someone’s words, and then accusing them falsely.

    Everyone here still talking about how much of identity can be explained by autobiographical memory is just wrong. Clearly hundreds of comments won’t sway you from repeating your fluffy narratives.

    The fact is that most of the commenters feel that bachfiend is understating the significance of autobiographical memories. Yet you feel justified in just arbitrarily declaring them all wrong — without providing any evidence at all except for some that contradicted your own view. Smooth.

    Identity is what’s being discussed. Not autobiographical memories. Also you feel ignored? I don’t see you replying to my many different explanations for identity. I see you dwelling on your favorite topics and many insults and all-caps yelling.

    I call BS. Many people have responded to your comments, often agreeing that your explanations do indeed play a significant role. On the other hand, it is you who has utterly failed to provide any evidence that memory doesn’t also play a significant role, and in this case in particular, probably the most significant role in determining a specific, unique identity.

  646. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 8:25 pm

    As far as I can see basically everyone else is concerned with the discussion: what is identity? Does it equal memory?

    You seem to concerned with policing the thread now. And explaining who knows what and who doesn’t. You aren’t in the discussion you are just a critic.

  647. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Cross,

    …it is you who has utterly failed to provide any evidence that memory doesn’t also play a significant role, and in this case in particular, probably the most significant role in determining a specific, unique identity.

    What a lie. I explained in detail how memory is not sufficient to explain identity. From many different angles. Google temperament. Show me the role memory plays in that? Google personality. Show me the role memory plays in that?

    I never once said memory plays no role. I clearly advanced for days now a position about how it’s not enough to explain identity. While others argued how much of someone’s identity autobiographical memory can explain. It’s you guys who are lost.

  648. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 8:37 pm

    As far as I can see, you are only concerned with proving yourself right and everyone else wrong.

    I’ve commented extensively on what I feel are important aspects of identity and what it takes to fully specify a unique identity.

    I am most assuredly a critic, but only of people who do not engage honestly.

  649. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Sophie,

    What a lie. I explained in detail how memory is not sufficient to explain identity. From many different angles. Google temperament. Show me the role memory plays in that? Google personality. Show me the role memory plays in that?
    I never once said memory plays no role. I clearly advanced for days now a position about how it’s not enough to explain identity. While others argued how much of someone’s identity autobiographical memory can explain. It’s you guys who are lost.

    This is pure straw man. What about your belief that “Is not the point of being a skeptic to fight the best possible version of your opponent’s argument?”

    You have consistently insisted that memory plays virtually no role. And insisted that the majority of people who seem to think the opposite are wrong. Temperament and personality are merely red herrings you created to distract from the main question.

  650. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 8:57 pm

    See how you just used my phrasing and mirrored it? That’s a school yard tactic used by many bullies. It takes zero creativity to simply mirror what someone says. At least I can write my own lines and properly use ellipses when I quote people.

    I also know that identity does not equal autobiographical memory.

  651. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Lie some more.

  652. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Two days ago I was writing explaining how I never said that memory played no role. 2 days.

    I always said that memory isn’t enough to explain it and that many other things that explain behavior and identity much better are not autobiographical.

    2 days ago you and others were writing claiming I said memory played no role. Wasn’t true then. Isn’t true now.

  653. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Sophie,

    This is a simple as I can make it.

    You can’t show one quote where anyone has said that memory is the only thing required for identity, but that is the straw man you have argued against.

    Many people have stated that they believe memory is necessary for identity.

    Please explain how you can define the identity of a specific, unique person without also referencing memory.

  654. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I wrote this two days ago:

    The points Bach made are all valid. Personality has little to do with memory. His personality was largely formed in primary school. But he doesn’t remember much of the experiences. He was shaped into a specific personality type by a pretty young age. He doesn’t remember to be the way he is. A personality is a pattern of behavior.

    What about temperament? Babies are born with a type of basic personality, that’s not a memory based process but it effects how they behave.

    I’m clearly not denying anything about autobiographical memory’s role. I’m talking about how many other aspects of an individual’s identity are not memory based.

    Personality explains a huge amount of someone’s behavior. It’s not a conscious process. It’s not dependent on recall like autobiographical memory.

    Also see all the person “X” comments. I never said autobiographical memory plays no role, I said the role it plays is tiny in the overall makeup of person X. He has a very rich mental life where he believes many unscientific things, does that explain his overall identity? Does believing he has had contact with god, that he is chosen by God, influence his day to day life? Does it even explain 20% of his identity? Would it explain how he’s a highly intelligent, critical thinker when it comes to pediatric neurosurgery?

  655. Sophieon 14 May 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Steve Cross,

    This is a simple as I can make it. You can’t show one quote where anyone has said that memory is the only thing required for identity, but that is the straw man you have argued against.

    BJ7,

    Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.

    When someone says: this dog has white fur.
    They mean the dog’s fur is white.
    They don’t mean: the fur is kinda whitish, but white isn’t enough to explain the color of the dogs fur. In order to fully explain the color of the dogs fur we also need to include many other things that are not white.

    BJ7 said it twice too. He said: identity is memory, and: you are you, because of your memories.
    —-
    Pause and think: If no one meant that autobiographical memory is identity, then go ahead and explain what bachfiend wrote and all the replies to him. He clearly wrote that identity is not fully explained by autobiographical memory, many many times. And went even further than me.

    People replied to him many times insisting that autobiographical memory explains identity and didn’t agree with him undercutting the role of autobiographical memory in identity.

    Why would they do that if no one was advancing this idea that “identity is memory?”

  656. bachfiendon 14 May 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Steve,

    As I’ve noted several times, this discussion about ‘identity’ started when BillyJoe asked:

    ‘Suppose it was not the entire universe but just you who came into existence one second ago complete with memories that were never actually experienced. Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created brain circuits one second ago’.

    What exactly does ‘memories that were never actually experienced’ mean? Does it mean that the opposite ‘memories that were experienced’ is the true case of affairs, if it actually means anything?

    Actually, the sentence is incorrectly formulated. Memories occur in the present. The objects they’re referring to occur in the past. The sentence should have been formulated as ‘memories of past events that were never actually experienced’ and its opposite ‘memories of past events that were experienced’ which I think is as good a rendering of episodic memory as any other.

    If you disagree, then what is your interpretation? Or perhaps BillyJoe might indicate what he meant.

    And then I went on to state that I didn’t think that episodic memories are all that particularly important in defining identity, not that they have no influence. There are many more components to identity other than episodic memory, including semantic memory, procedural memory, personality, emotional reactions to stimuli, the illusion of being an entity within a physical body (lesions within specific parts of the brain producing ‘out of body’ experiences).

    The human brain is extremely complex. Explaining something as complicated as ‘identity’ as something simpler such as ‘memories’ is excessive reductionism and is as false as attempting to explain the ability to walk as just the firing of neurons in parts of the motor cortex.

  657. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Sophie,

    Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced over a life time or created as brain circuits one second ago.

    Why is that unreasonable? How can you possibly think that you would be the same person if your memories were somehow changed?

    Of course your identity is dramatically affected by genetics, environment, etc. In fact, you wouldn’t even have an identity if it wasn’t. Nor would you have an identity without a body. And your body wouldn’t exist without cells, molecules, atoms, etc. So what?

    The thing is, everyone has all of those same influences on their lives and identity. It is simply a fact of living in the world that we do. No one denies that ALL of our memories, and indeed our very identity, are literally determined by genetics, environment, friends, life experience and any other variables you’ve mentioned. But the unique variable is our specific memories. They literally must encapsulate everything else that has every happened to us. Change them and you change the person.

    Whether or not we remember them all, whether we remember somewhat accurately or completely confabulate, whatever memories we have at any given point in time are unique to an individual and are the reason “you are you”.

    Brain injuries, the relative importance of autobiographical memory and everything else is irrelevant. It simply doesn’t matter WHY your memories are the way they are. Change any memory even a little bit and you are not the same person. Your internal perception of self would be altered and your external responses would be altered if only infinitesimally.

    I’m pretty sure that is the only point BJ7 is trying to make. It is certainly the one I’ve been making.

  658. Steve Crosson 14 May 2017 at 10:53 pm

    bachfiend,

    I don’t have much time for a complete answer at the moment, but I just expressed a lot of my views to Sophie a moment ago.

    To go even further, I’m more or less approaching this from the “transporter” point of view. To be completely reductionist, I’m literally thinking of “memories” as the current state of every neuron in my brain down to the level of atoms. Ideally, I would say quantum level but I’m not sure that is even theoretically possible.

    In any event, lacking said transporter, I’m arbitrarily declaring that my current memories are in fact the current state of my brain. The way my brain got to its current state is by living through my past “memories” (regardless of how they were created) in sequential fashion.

    In other words, regardless of how accurate my current memories are, or whether they are completely confabulated, they are still (by definition IMHO) what makes me be me at this moment.

  659. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 12:15 am

    I stand with Bachfiend:

    There are many more components to identity other than episodic memory, including semantic memory, procedural memory, personality, emotional reactions to stimuli, the illusion of being an entity within a physical body (lesions within specific parts of the brain producing ‘out of body’ experiences).

    The human brain is extremely complex. Explaining something as complicated as ‘identity’ as something simpler such as ‘memories’ is excessive reductionism and is as false as attempting to explain the ability to walk as just the firing of neurons in parts of the motor cortex.

    I’m happy with this being the last word on this, simplification is the enemy of truth. Yes mathematical elegance is a thing of beauty and wonder. But reality is ugly, messy and complex. Any time you find yourself making absolute statements about elements of human consciousness maybe pause or at least allow for people to interject how complex things really are.
    Steve Cross,

    To be completely reductionist, I’m literally thinking of “memories” as the current state of every neuron in my brain down to the level of atoms.

    The type of memory you are describing isn’t memory at all, it’s the entire human brain. Autobiographical memory, which was extensively discussed here, is created in the present, it’s an illusion, it’s not a detailed video tape of you running though the woods, it’s a manufactured heavily edited and sloppy version of reality. Details imply facts and realism, but in the case of memory, details likely mean imagination and inaccuracy.

    When you simplify a concept like episodic or autobiographical memory down to atoms in the brain you aren’t helping the discussion. You are moving further away from clarity and into muddier waters.

    The transporter problem is pointless, if you insist that that Sophie1 and Sophie2 are the same person then they are the same, it’s a tautology. They will have the same everything.

    Except that when they walk out of the machine, they will recreate slightly different memories, since memory recall isn’t a perfect process and isn’t the same each time. They could even disagree on key elements of their shared life story. Sophie1 could claim that it was raining the day their dad died. Sophie2 could argue that no it wasn’t raining because she remembers she didn’t have an umbrella. Who are we to believe? How can these two people who were the exact same brain matter a moment ago, now have different memories?

    I think most of us would agree they have the same “identity” overall. But their individual self-perceptions could be different. They could be motivated to pursue different careers based on all the same stimuli for example. They could disagree on many things. But I don’t think their personality would dramatically change. They might even like the same foods and prefer the same type of romantic partners. It’s hard to imagine a Sophie that ever liked seafood, like at all, had a visceral hatred for it, suddenly eating sushi.

    All you did with the transporter problem is filter out dualists from this conversation. Everyone else is still here, this doesn’t make “identity is memory” easier to understand. If the transporter worked correctly then both Sophies have the same brain and will have more or less the same identity. We still have to have the discussion about the nature of identity, you didn’t answer any questions. Is identity simply memories?

    This memories = atoms simplification is absurd. It’s like when you defended your statement that single-celled organisms know how to find food. You simplified human cognition down to “following chemical gradients.”

    You even made an appeal to the science and philosophy. Well. Not even Dennett, a pretty hardcore reductionist/physicalist would agree with that. I read a ton of Dennett this weekend, he would say that human cognition is definitely much more advanced and that we “know” more about acquiring nutrients than a single-celled organism. We are much freer, have more agency and abilities. To simplify it down to “following chemical gradients” is just foolish.

    Clearly this is a thing for you since you insist on claiming “memories” are just an arrangement of atoms in a human skull. Episodic memories are an active process, they are an illusion cast by a delicate magic of many different areas of the brain all working together. An arrangement of atoms, is not an appropriate definition.

    You better hope identity is not simply memory. Because if it is than you are in trouble. You can’t remember a discussion and your own role in it just two days ago, what does that say about your identity?

    Memories are not what makes you who you are, this is an illusion. Imagine yourself as an alien watching a Sophie go about her day. You collect data and analytics and you know her personality, preferences, common speech patterns, personal vocabulary, area of expertise and many other deeply personal things about her. You could probably predict her behavior better than she can.

    Internally she tells herself everyday that she is going to finally try sushi. You look at your notes, you see she has never eaten raw fish. You conclude that today she will not eat fish. She does not, you predicted her behavior better than her own internal narratives.

    You think you aren’t this hypothetical Sophie? How many times have you told yourself you were going to go to the gym, learn a new skill, start a diet, save up for a trip, or be nicer to people who annoy you… only to not actually follow through?

    Personality has predictive powers than self-identity does not. Personality is also much more stable over time than Sophie’s stories about herself.

  660. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 12:20 am

    Steve,

    You’re committing an extreme reductionist overreach in defining the exact current state of your brain, even down to the atom to atom arrangement, as being ‘memories’.

    If you do that, then if there’s a structural lesion in a person with the Cotard syndrome (in which the person thinks he’s already dead and putrefacting), which is perhaps the most extreme form of an alteration in ‘identity’, then that structural change is ‘memory’.

    No one doubts that changing any specific episodic memory will alter your sense of identity. The question is how much? I think the answer is ‘not very much at all’. Infintestimal, if you like. Episodic memories are disappearing everyday. Or changing in detail over time. You still have the same identity, you’re still the same person.

  661. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 12:39 am

    Minor clarification,
    In the Sophie-sushi-alien example, the relevant issue isn’t willpower, it’s her self concept /identity. Sophie sees herself as someone who is open minded about eating new foods. Her autobiographical accounts about herself are filled with examples of her following through with things and being effective. She remembers putting her mind to a task and accomplishing it. She knows many people all over the world eat sushi and that there is nothing wrong with it, she’s not culturally insensitive. She tells herself she isn’t disgusted deep down with the idea of eating raw fish. She sees herself as a brave person who can risk a little parasitic infection or something. But the reality is that this self concept/identity doesn’t predict her ultimate behavior.

  662. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 1:33 am

    Back again,

    It will shock everyone to hear that I’m in agreement with all those emphasising how unproductive it is to treat online debates as if they are a ‘blood sport’ where the only goal is to vanquish your enemies and never admit any error. In that spirit it seems worth recognising that bachfiend continues to strongly argue his case (disagreeing with the exact same people as Sophie) but hasn’t resorted to dismissing everyone else involved as frauds, liars, intellectually dishonest, hopelessly naive, fakes, concern trolls, pretend experts, and so on.

    Responses to Sophie on the other hand, before getting to any of her actual arguments, have to wade through a torrent of accusations, insults, and portrayals of her idiosyncratic interpretations as unquestionable facts. This tendency has bogged down and derailed discussions substantially.

    For Sophie’s benefit: That’s my subjective assessment, but I think it’s worth at least considering whether your approach or bachfiend’s is leading to more productive exchanges.

    Regardless, after reading the back and forth above, here are my takeaways (labelled for convenience of anyone who wants to respond):

    1. 

There is some disagreement and confusion due to people using different definitions. For example, some people are treating autobiographical memories as one in the same as episodic memories, others are not. It gets even more murky when issues of self-identity are discussed and occasionally conflated/combined alongside things like self-awareness or newly invented concepts like ‘basic identity’. I’m not sure how to resolve this but it means there is lots of talking at cross purposes.

    2. The opponents of skeptics dramatically over interpret the validity of memories and ignore the decades of research we have showing just how unreliable most memory is and is constantly being updated/reedited/confabulated, etc. However, in this thread (and with the Jesus history discussion) I noticed a tendency amongst skeptics to overstate the case for how unreliable memories are. If you read the studies it is indeed clear that people can be induced to have high levels of confidence in false memories, they can be led to introduce things to their memories by leading questions, they have cognitive biases that make them focus on threats and so on. But what you don’t see in such studies is 100% of participants demonstrating faulty recall, all of the time.

    Several commentators in this thread are talking about memory as if it is entirely invented and has little to no relation to actual events. That’s an over extrapolation, that CAN be the case but it doesn’t always happen. Such an account ignores that in the real world outside psychology labs people often have external memory aids including videos, pictures, and written records of events. Returning to the example of weddings, I am quite confident of the events that occurred at my wedding, not just because it’s relatively recent, but also because there are various recordings of the event. It doesn’t mean I won’t have combined stories from other people/the videos(!) or some invented memories but that’s different from my memory being almost entirely an fantasy, divorced from all reality/previous experience, that some are presenting memory to be. Returning to the studies on memory it’s worth noting that there is almost variation in accuracy of recall displayed which means some individuals do have better recall than others.

    3. Setting all of that aside, the main topic of debate for *most* involved is Whether autobiographical memories play an important, potentially the most important, role in determining self-identity (or alternatively a very minor role). Bachfiend and Sophie say they are not important compared with other factors, others (including me) say they are. It seems important to emphasis here that arguing in favour of the first proposition does not entail claiming that no other factors are relevant to self-identity, just that autobiographical memories are a core (and potentially the most important component) of self-identity. I regard this as the dominant consensus in the relevant research literature, Sophie disagrees. I recommend any interested parties consult the literature and judge for themselves.

    4. In addition to the above, for Sophie specifically the debate has been about a whole host of other things, including claims that: (1) autobiographical memories are always extremely accurate, (2) personality and temperament are irrelevant to self identity, (3) unconscious processes are irrelevant to self identity, and so on. Almost everyone Sophie has engaged with has explained multiple times that these are straw man positions that no one endorses but this has not deterred her from repeating them and claiming this is what people (or at least what BillyJoe7) really means.

    Given this seems to be generating a never-ending disagreement, I thought it might be helpful to clarify whether everyone in the thread agrees that:

    There is a role for things other than autobiographical memory for self-identity including personality, procedural memories, and various unconscious processes.

    I strongly suspect that everyone already agrees with this, including BillyJoe7. And if so maybe we can put it to rest? If I’m wrong and anyone involved disagrees please feel free to correct me.

    P.S. If BillyJoe is advancing the stronger case Sophie claims I would disagree with him too but I think such an interpretation ignores the context of his original comments and his subsequent elaborations. Though happy to be corrected if I am misrepresenting his position.

  663. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 1:43 am

    — Sophie specific response —

    I’ve been compared and accused of being one with Egnor, Ian, hardnose, cozying, Alex Jones, gun nut, NRA activist…

    People have compared the content and style of your argumentation to lots of other people but I haven’t noticed ‘Sophie’ repeatedly being accused of actually being a hardnose, Egnor or Ian Wardell sock puppet. Regardless, if that has happened then let me be clear, I disagree with anyone who has made such claims. I have never accused you of being a sockpuppet or anyone else but cozying. If you want to maintain that you are not, fine with me, but I still don’t feel compelled to pretend that I don’t recognise the very distinctive posting style and consistent grudges.

    Hate me though, it’s okay my heart is filled with love and patience.

    To be clear, I don’t hate you (or cozying) and I do often agree with your points, if not the way you present them. I agree, for instance, that BJ was wrong in his off handed dismissal of scientism (although it still isn’t relevant to this discussion). You have also recently put in heroic efforts confronting Egnor and Ian Wardell and pointing out all of their dishonest debating tactics. Cozying, likewise, made some very sensible posts about the science march. So, I don’t see you as my ‘enemy’, just someone who has a needlessly hostile approach to dealing with disagreement, holds grudges, and has a problematic need to be ‘right’ at all costs.

  664. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 3:16 am

    Ckava,

    Following your numeration:

    (1) I agree completely that many terms went without being clearly defined. I would say that’s not really anyone’s fault, BJ7 did not initially clearly specify what type of memories or identity he was referring to, he kept it vague, but then I think people just assumed autobiographical memory was the key concept. I tried to keep my responses to the general concept of identity, either self-identity/concept or social identity.

    My objective wasn’t to argue the specifics of autobiographical memory but rather to try to provide a general background to the discussion of the nature of identity. Not because I didn’t think those specific avenues were worth exploring, but because other people were already doing that.

    I figured asking how identity evolved and if there are aspects of it that are not dependent on memory, would be a useful addition to the discussion.

    I didn’t invent basic identity, I think your writing on this is condescending. It’s a concept that’s out there, maybe that’s not the term for it. But social identity, like “I’m a doctor, I work in this hospital with some of my friends,” is definitely complex. And Prehistoric Sophie had a sense of identity that was much more basic than that. Identity came from somewhere, it had to have a much simpler basic form, before language and complex societal relationships, even before autobiographical memory there was identity. A gazelle is aware of who it is in relation to the environment and predators. Yes this is a basic type of self-identity, the word refers to knowing who or what you are. Humans aren’t the only creatures that know who they are in relation to the world. I think it’s mighty speciest to just assume we are so special and only we have a concept for ourselves.

    (2) Strongly disagree, with your assessment here. The fallibility of human memory is hugely relevant to this discussion of how much identity is explained by memory. If you want to claim that identity is memory then please explain how identity (at least from the outside) is pretty stable, but autobiographical memory is remarkably flawed, changing and unstable? And that’s just one problem.

    I’ve seen the experiments myself, participated a few. My favorite was drawing a coin from memory. We use coins all the time, look at them and carry them on us at all times, but when I tried drawing the two faces I got all the details horribly wrong. If I can’t even recall what a coin looks like, why would I trust my autobiographical accounts? How do I know that 5 years ago I really did say all those awesome things in that argument with my boss before I quit? Maybe I didn’t say those things at all, maybe I was shaking in fear, just thinking them, and so frustrated only random words came out? Maybe I’m not as bad ass as I think I am?

    The memory research shows that we shouldn’t be putting too much faith in our memories. If you want to claim identity is basically memories, you better be ready to explain these problems.

    (3) Here you made a pretty big mistake in your summary of the discussion. No actually the conversation was not about what you high lighted in bold, it was about many things. And the original people, did not define the terms the way you did in your summary. I for example was here longer than you, and I don’t agree with your description. You showed up late to this discussion and chose to have a very specific discussion with people.

    You (and others) largely ignored all the evidence that pointed away from identity equalling memory and chose to see memory everywhere. Like when I argued that temperament / personality play a role, you attempted to explain how personality can change and is sometimes influenced by active recall… meanwhile you didn’t see the coup de grace which is that: someone’s personality is a huge part of who they are (identity) and it’s unconscious and not dependent on autobiographical memory. Explaining psychological identity without mentioning personality is probably the biggest mistake you can in this discussion. You avoided it because personality is largely innate, unconscious, and it demolishes your argument.

    Another example, I repeatedly referenced how weak self-identity/concept is in comparison to other things. You can know a great deal about how someone sees themselves, (See person X) and still know almost nothing about their overall identity. (Social identity). How useful of a concept is self-identity, if it’s that unreliable, and bad at drawing conclusions? Personality has so much more explanatory power and is much more useful at explaining identity in general.

    Why should we even care about what
    someone’s self-identity is? We are all the superior humans in our self narratives. I’m sure some Serial killers think they are okay people. Does that mean anything? I’m sure it’s interesting from a clinical perspective, but from an objective standpoint this whole self-identity thing seems flawed, highly subjective and filled with errors.

    (4) Again, I disagree. I am not some outsider, I was here in this discussion before you. I was even in this “identity is memory” convo with BJ7 and others in another thread which you did not contribute to. Claiming that I didn’t know what was going on is foolish and dismissive. This is also what Cross did. I’m allowed to bring up whatever I want in this discussion. I can ask whatever questions I want.

    If you think personality has no role to play in someone’s identity than that’s your mistake, literally no modern psychologist would back that claim.

    The conversation is about identity, not memory. You were all trying to answer how much of identity is explained by autobiographical memory. Bachfiend said very little. I offered up things that explain identity much better than autobiographical memory. How is that not relevant?

    I think this whole point (4) about how I wasn’t talking about what you were talking about is borderline abusive. It’s bullying. I’m here too. I was here before you and I talked to BJ7 about this topic in another recent thread that you were not in. Saying that I wasn’t on topic is just rude.

    It’s not a strawman to bring up temperament and personality, I never said that they posited “there are no alternate explanations,” not once. I simply said: here’s a ton of stuff that explains identity that has nothing to do with memory.

    Well when you say A is B, you kind of are heavily implying that you explained A with B. Even that it is mostly B or equivalent to B. If you think that’s not exactly perfect logic that’s okay. BJ7 said identity is memory and then specifically autobiographical memory. Then he didn’t try to see how personality fit into the equation for A. But instead argued that personality was memory to.

    It’s not a strawman to offer up alternate explanations for “identity” in a conversation about “identity.” If you think I’m wrong about this, go check out BJ7 and yourself attempting to explain how personality is dependent on active recall.

    Personality is the death knell to all your autobiographical-memory-centric explanations of identity.

  665. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 4:18 am

    Sophie,

    There’s a lot to address there, I’ll try to get back to your substantive points when I have some more time. But just to respond quickly to a couple of your side-comments.

    First, I appreciate the less confrontational tone, I don’t know if it is intentional or not but either way just saying it makes ‘conversation’ easier. This isn’t intended to be condescending either, I’m just saying cheers.

    Second, I’m not intending to be bullying or abusive by summarising my perspective on the thread. You are free to disagree and reject my summary, as you have above. I still think you will find that many of the other commentators you have been debating with share my take but you, and everyone else, are free to disagree. The positive note I would offer is that everyone on the thread actually appears to be agreeing on some fundamental points that have repeatedly been taken to be in dispute.

    Third, saying that someone is addressing straw men is indeed a bit ‘rude’ but being somewhat rude is unavoidable when you are criticising the logic of a person’s arguments. You have also made various ‘rude’ and insulting comments to people throughout this thread, see my post above for a partial list, so it seems somewhat hypocritical (and a double standard) to complain that you are being unfairly disrespected/bullied. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I haven’t, for instance, offered you “one last F you”, called you a fraud, or told you to get rekt in this thread.

    Fourth, just because someone isn’t commenting constantly doesn’t mean they aren’t reading/following a thread. I don’t feel the need to repeat points when I think others- like Steve Cross and Edamame- have already presented an argument I agree with. I also didn’t feel the need to chime in with Egnor when I agreed with you and others above, I’ve seen him present the same bad arguments thousands of times and it’s tiring to deal with, but I did still read the back and forth takedowns.

  666. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 5:15 am

    CKava,

    I still think you will find that many of the other commentators you have been debating with share my take but you, and everyone else, are free to disagree.

    You are still not seeing it. This is an attempt at drafting a consensus of opinion. Also who are these “many” commentators, I see just a few people. Me, you, Bach, BJ7, Cross, Pete, edamame. Hardly a lot of people. And um, go checkout other threads I’m in, quite a few people agree with me on a regular basis.

    I also don’t care what people think, see the Alex Jones thread where I attacked my hero, Steven Novella’s unwarranted speculation into the mind of Alex Jones. Jones took the stand and said basically what I said he could say btw. That he plays a character on the show but nevertheless believes what he is doing. He even compared himself to Stephen Colbert. Playing a character does not mean you don’t believe in what you are doing.

    I also fought with Pete in a few threads but here I think I would describe Pete as neutral I think, he has largely stayed out of the discussion but routinely acknowledged some things both Bach and I said.
    Cross can’t be trusted, between the all-caps rants, the blatantly intellectually dishonest quotes, false claims about my words, claims that single-celled organisms and human conscious are basically the same, and the numerous personal attacks, you should be embarrassed to count him on your side.
    Edamame advanced an idea that Bach must have some rare mental disorder than prevents him from seeing the significance of autobiographical memory. I have no respect for arguments like this. He also thinks that his neurosurgery on animals is comparable in skill and complexity as Egnor’s pediatric neurosurgery on human children. So I don’t really care what he thinks. Egnor saves human lives, hundreds of them every year. Yes animal research and veterinary medicine is super cool, but Egnor is in one of the most difficult surgical specialities, has been for years, and trains future surgeons in that field. We don’t have to insult and bash his career, it’s not a weakness to admit he is intelligent and talented.

    BJ7 and I are just diametrically opposed. Kind of like me and Cross. Both these commenters love to simply things to the point where they are meaningless or wrong. Cross defended the claim that we are all just following chemical gradients even when I showed how pathetic that claim is. I know what food is, an amoeba doesn’t. It doesn’t know much of anything. He also claimed that “memories” are arrangements of atoms. Count him in your manufactured consensus.

    This kind of thinking is problematic. It also leads BJ7 astray. I really don’t know how to talk to him. Every time anyone challenges him he screams “misinterpretation” and runs to the hills. Sometimes literally. He did actually say identity is memory many times. And expanded on it. This isn’t true.

    No matter how much you want to make identity equal memory, you can’t. Identity is complex and not just memories. Once again the relevant question is “what is identity?” Not “how much of identity can we explain with memory?”

    That’s leaves me, you, and Bach. Good luck with your manufacturing of a consensus of opinion.

    It doesn’t matter how many of these like 7 people side with you. I’m not here to join a club. Any club that would allow me and Cross to join, is not a club I want to be in. You want to analyze me, why don’t you turn your critical analysis on Cross? Is it because he agrees with you that identity is memory? Go check out his all caps rants, personal attacks, deliberate and repetitive lies. Maybe focus your concern trolling and tone policing on him. Since he’s been here for years and I’ll be gone quite soon.

    Personality is still the death knell of your side’s arguments. It explains a hell of a lot more about identity than memory. It’s not dependent on recall, it’s unconscious, innate and has genetic origins in temperament. That’s a pretty big hurdle to overcome, before you can claim that identity is memory. Count up all the votes you want against me, you are still wrong. Identity is not memory. Ask some psychologists, philosophers and neuroscientists, I’m sure they won’t say, what you said, that personality has nothing to do with a person’s identity.

  667. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 6:54 am

    CKava,

    I interpreted BillyJoe’s ‘memories that were never actually experienced’ as ‘memories of events in the past that were never actually experienced’ because the original version was incorrectly formulated. Memories are accessed in the present, and their content is in the past. So the true state of affairs is that there are ‘memories of events in the past which were actually experienced’. By definition, memories of past events, if they’re experienced, are episodic memories.

    Regardless of that, is the following true ‘Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories, regardless of whether they were experienced (‘experienced’ again, implying that they’re of past events again, episodic memories) over a life time or created brain circuits one second ago’?

    It really doesn’t matter whether memories are 100% accurate to reality or completely confabulated, ‘identity is memory’ is stating that identity is 100% memory and that ‘you are you because of your memories’ is stating exactly the same thing.

    If a copy of you is 100% accurate, down to the atom for atom and neuron for neuron levels, then obviously the copy will have the same memories as the original ‘you’. But the copy will also be identical to you in all other particulars, including your emotional response to stimuli, your personality and your liver.

    So why pick on one shared feature and declare that it alone explains identity? Suppose as an hypothetical exercise, you were able to create a whole series of copies of ‘you’, in each copy deleting one additional memory (eg in copy 1 memory of your wedding, in copy 2 memories of your wedding and your graduation from university, in copy 3 memories of your wedding and your graduation from university and the birth of your first child, etc). How many memories would you need to delete before the copy ‘you’ stops having the identity of ‘you’?

    I would expect that you’d need to delete a lot of memories before they affect identity even in a very small way. After all, you don’t think about your wedding often (unless you’re told ‘don’t think of your wedding…’). My expectation is that memories have a very minor influence on identity rather than being 100% or very close to it.

    And also I still think that the original assertion ‘Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories’ is definitely wrong. It also changes Rene Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am’ into ‘I think I remember, therefore I am’. Almost as pithy and just as superficial.

  668. BillyJoe7on 15 May 2017 at 8:23 am

    CKava,

    “If BillyJoe is advancing the stronger case Sophie claims I would disagree with him too but I think such an interpretation ignores the context of his original comments and his subsequent elaborations. Though happy to be corrected if I am misrepresenting his position”

    You are presenting me correctly.

    The thing is, in the comment that triggered off this whole exchange, I wasn’t using the word “identity” in the same way that others have subsequently run with. The whole thread has gone off on a tangent away from my use of the word “identity” to another meaning that is irrelevant to what I was saying.

    If I can return again to the transporter scenario and this time not use the word “identity” until the very end:

    When Sophie wakes up in the morning after the duplication (in which original Sophie is vapourised and replaced by duplicate Sophie), what exactly is it that makes her feel she is Sophie. What is it that makes Sophie feel she is the consciousness self inside that body.

    And, when the vapourisation fails, there are two Sophies. There is not one Sophie who feels herself to be the consciousness self inside both bodies. There are two identical instances of Sophie, each of which feels herself to be the consciousness self inside their respective bodies. And which one is the real Sophie? They both are. Both the original and the duplicate Sophies are identical versions of the real Sophie. More correctly, at the moment after the duplication, they are identical. A moment later they are diverging because of different inputs. And the divergence increases with every moment that passes. So now we have Sophie1 and SophieA. What is the difference between Sophie1 and SophieA? As far as I can see, the only difference is the differing input creating different (episodic) memories. Their different memories explains why Sophie1 feels she is the conscious self inside Sophie1, and why SophieA feels subjectively that she is the conscious self inside SophieA.

    I wasn’t asking about the about the objective personality and temperamental traits of Sophie. I was asking what exactly it is that makes Sophie subjectively feel she is the conscious self inside Sophie. And what is it that makes Sophie1 subjectively feel she is the conscious self inside Sophie1 and not SophieA. In my opinion, it is (episodic) memory. Different inputs produce different memories (and it doesn’t matter that the memories are inaccurate, just that they are different).

    Moreover, Sophie1 subjectively feels that she is the continuation of the original Sophie – in my opinion, because of the temporal string of memories associated with Sophie and then Sophie1. And SophieA subjectively feels that she is the continuation of the original Sophie – in my opinion, because of the temporal string of memories associated with Sophie and then SophieA.

    So, both Sophie1 and SophieA identify as the original Sophie because of a continual string of memories.

  669. Steve Crosson 15 May 2017 at 8:53 am

    With all due respect, what bachfiend is describing is merely a mental model that has been developed as a way of trying to analyze and understand how the brain (and memories) actually work. But it is an abstraction. AFAIK, “memories” are not discrete, quantifiable “things” like the colored balls in the Pixar movie “Inside Out”.

    Rather, they seem to be generated on the fly based on the current state of our brain. Even bachfiend seems to agree with this. Therefore, I don’t think it is at all unreasonable to consider memory as one giant gestalt, i.e. the brain down to the level of atoms. Everything depends on everything else and is inextricable intertwined.

    Unless the dualists are correct, how could it possibly be any other way? In spite of Sophie’s protests, as far as anyone knows so far, we are literally just a bunch of neurons responding to chemical gradients. And, at least to my knowledge, no one has been able to identify a clear demarcation line where “consciousness” begins.

    As I’ve explained in more detail earlier, I think it is reasonable (and certainly defensible) to consider consciousness as a very broad spectrum of ever increasing sophistication as we ascend the evolutionary ladder.

    Hand-in-hand with that hypothesis, I think it is just as reasonable to consider identity as just a frame-of-reference, i.e. the current state of my brain (no matter how primitive) is the “object” of any potential action which is being evaluated by whatever mental circuitry exists.

    Implicit within that definition is idea that, even in single celled animals, is a “decision” mechanism. Obviously, a simple response to a chemical gradient or photo sensitivity in no way requires or implies intelligence or consciousness as we normally think of them.

    However, moving up the food chain, it is easy to see how the ability to recognize and “evaluate” ever more complex stimuli would be an evolutionary advantage. Extrapolating from “similar” patterns or stimuli would be even more useful. The ability to perform abstraction is even better. As are feedback loops to improve pattern recognition and response determination. With selective pressure like that, it is certainly conceivable that “we” are just the current state of a long evolutionary process which has rewarded flexibility and decision making capability.

    Certainly, many factors will determine the exact state of memory (and thus identity) at any given point in time, but regardless of how many different factors influence memory (including genetic, external, etc.) it is necessarily “defined” by its current state. Every thought, decision, response, whatever, occurs within and because of the current context or frame-of-reference. So in a very real sense, identity does equal memory.

    Many philosophers believe that consciousness is just an illusion anyway. Until we have some actual evidence to suggest otherwise, I really think that Occam should win this round.

  670. Steve Crosson 15 May 2017 at 10:26 am

    BillyJoe7,

    I’ve said all along that this is a difference of semantics.

    Sophie and bachfiend have been talking about characteristics that determine identity.

    You (and many of the rest of us) have been talking about what defines identity.

    ——

    determine: shape or influence; give direction to; “experience often determines ability”; “mold public opinion”

    define: determine the essential quality of

  671. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Alright, I see I spoke too soon, at least you are consistent Sophie I’ll give you that!

    Back into the Sophie spiral I go…

    You are still not seeing it. This is an attempt at drafting a consensus of opinion. Also who are these “many” commentators, I see just a few people. Me, you, Bach, BJ7, Cross, Pete, edamame. Hardly a lot of people. And um, go checkout other threads I’m in, quite a few people agree with me on a regular basis.

    lol, believe me I see it. You accused me of making a “big mistake” in my summary of the discussion. I disagreed and suggested that my summary was likely more representative of the broader opinion of those involved in the discussion. And you have responded by explaining how I should discount everyone else’s opinion, except for the one commenter who generally agrees with you, due to your perceived grudges.

    Sorry but the fact that you hold grudges against pretty much everyone who disagrees with you and dismiss their contributions accordingly, is completely irrelevant to me. I don’t trust your judgment or your summaries of their misdeeds. You employ a convenient double standard that allows you to cast everyone who disagrees with you in the worst light and conveniently ignores your own problematic contributions. In this thread and others you have insulted people directly and you have repeatedly chastised people for failing to respond in ways you deem appropriate. Yet you have no hesitation in declaring my perceived marginalising of your position to be ‘bullying’ and ‘borderline abusive’. Sorry Sophie, but you can’t expect people to treat you with kid gloves when you post in the manner you do.

    Or how about this example you (yet again) brought up your criticism of Steve claiming to know what is in Alex Jones’ head (he didn’t actually do this but let’s assume you are right and he did). Yet in this very thread you stated directly to Egnor, “I know you. I’m in your head” and went on to explain with absolute confidence that his online personality is different to his normal personality. How do you know any of that? You’ve extrapolated from the fact he is a successful surgeon. Whether or not I agree with your assessment of Egnor isn’t the point here, my point is your hypocritical double standards. And yes, I know you will have a million reasons to justify why it’s fine and really different when you do, that’s the point of double standards they excuse you and condemn everyone else.

    It doesn’t matter how many of these like 7 people side with you. I’m not here to join a club. Any club that would allow me and Cross to join, is not a club I want to be in. You want to analyze me, why don’t you turn your critical analysis on Cross? Is it because he agrees with you that identity is memory?

    I never said I agree with everything Steve Cross says on every thread, or edamame, or BillyJoe7. I’m not endorsing them for president or asking them to join some comment section team, I’m just saying I agree with the arguments they’ve presented in this thread. You have a habit of perceiving everything as if it is some popularity contest within imagined online factions, but that doesn’t mean everyone else here shares this view. I disagree with bachfiend on this topic, but I agree with him on other topics… no big whoop. I have my own assessments of how reliable/credible various posters and it doesn’t accord with yours.

    Your last response has reminded me of how pointless it is to engage in these kind of debates with you but I did say I would respond to your ‘substantive’ points so… the following post contains a haphazard reply to your previous Sophie gambit.

  672. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 12:16 pm

    But social identity, like “I’m a doctor, I work in this hospital with some of my friends,” is definitely complex.

    Take away the labels and language and how different is what you are describing from cognitive processes that enable simple cognition like: ‘I am an alpha, I live in this cave, those are my rivals, those are my allies’? There are complex things about autobiographical memory processes (e.g. ability to mentally time travel, the perception/illusion of a continuous self) but what you are talking about here appears to be just a basic kind of social awareness, which relates to processes that are ancient and found in many other animals. I’m nit picking I know but then so is most of your response to me.

    Identity came from somewhere, it had to have a much simpler basic form, before language and complex societal relationships, even before autobiographical memory there was identity.

    Yes, which is why no-one has been disputing this. Or at least not what you mean when you refer to ‘identity’.

    A gazelle is aware of who it is in relation to the environment and predators.

    What do you mean by this? That a gazelle has a first person experience of the world, yes, certainly. That part of its world is social relations? Yes, certainly. That this must involve a concept of self-identity or self-awareness, errr… why? Is it because they display complex behavior? Because there are plenty of demonstrations that complex ‘social’ behavior can be derived without requiring processes self-awareness.

    There is a vast literature on this topic (comparative cognition) and the current evidence suggests that self-awareness and self-identity is not a very widespread feature amongst animals. You describe it as being speciesist to deny that self-awareness extends to other animals but I would conversely contend that it is egocentric to assume that the characteristics of human cognition and perception are the default for all other species. You seem to be attempting to claim some moral high ground by stating authoritatively that gazelles have self-awareness but this simply relies on intuitive anthropocentric projection.

    And no, I’m not arguing for a golden barrier between humans and other animals, I think there are plenty of non-human species that have forms of self-awareness and self-identity. Actually, I agree with Steve Cross’ portrayal that differing levels of cognition and perceptions of identity are just another aspect of the evolutionary continuum. So it’s not about dismissing our animal brethren. In point of fact I lean much more towards the liberal interpretations in comparative research.

    If you want to claim that identity is memory then please explain how identity (at least from the outside) is pretty stable, but autobiographical memory is remarkably flawed, changing and unstable?

    This point has now been clarified to you repeatedly. Please refer to the bolded statements in the previous posts if you have forgotten already what is and is not being argued by me and pretty much everyone else you are debating with.

    Oh what the heck, let me restate it for you again… I am NOT saying autobiographical memory is the ONLY feature relevant to determining self-identity, I AM arguing that autobiographical memory is extremely important to self-identity in humans. The terms used here matter (especially when you are intent on conflating any form of consciousness with self-identity). You mention that autobiographical memory is constantly changing and unstable but you seem to be referring here to episodic autobiographic recall (though even then I think you are presenting an exaggerated caricature).

    Are your memories of your name, your place of birth, the countries you have lived in, the people you have dated/married, and so on, changing and unstable? Mine aren’t. I can tell you where I was born, where I’ve lived, what I’ve studied, who I’m married to, how many kids I have, with pretty high confidence of being accurate. These are all stable semantic autobiographical memories. Something which you seem to regard as nigh on impossible.

    …someone’s personality is a huge part of who they are (identity) and it’s unconscious and not dependent on autobiographical memory.

    You are still insisting on this false dichotomy despite me and others constantly highlighting that we are not denying any role for personality in relation to self-identity. So let me clarify again, I am NOT saying all of personality relies on autobiographical memory, what I specifically said was “experiences, and memories of those experiences play a significant part in determining personality“. You are conflating “experiences and memories” with conscious “autobiographical memory”, the two things are not the same.

    In general with your pronouncements on personality, again I think you are doubling down and overstating things. Your portrayal of personality is positively Freudian, at times you pay lip service to the fact that personality is impacted by experience and memory but overall you tend to present it as an ‘innate’ inherited attribute that hardly changes over a life span. That doesn’t match my reading of the literature or the summary on the wikipedia page you recommended.

    I’ve seen the experiments myself, participated a few. My favorite was drawing a coin from memory. We use coins all the time, look at them and carry them on us at all times, but when I tried drawing the two faces I got all the details horribly wrong.

    Compelling anecdote but I’m not sure it proves your argument. How many times in your life have you drawn a coin before you participated in that experiment? Do you also regularly forget the values of different kinds of coins you use (another semantic memory)? And are you under the impression that your semantic visual memory of coin faces is some kind of autobiographical memory?

    I’m not denying that memory is fallible- it is. I’m simply disagreeing with you and bachfiend’s portrayal portrayal of memory processes as if they are almost always fictional and inaccurate when they relate to autobiographical processes. If things were as fluid as you are presenting then it must be constantly surprising to you in daily life that people are able to identify their own parents, partners, children and other important personal details from their lives with apparently little problem despite often having to rely on their flimsy unreliable memories.

    Explaining psychological identity without mentioning personality is probably the biggest mistake you can in this discussion. You avoided it because personality is largely innate, unconscious, and it demolishes your argument… If you think personality has no role to play in someone’s identity than that’s your mistake, literally no modern psychologist would back that claim.

    Eugh… yeah, I mean its not like I’ve been consistently saying (and highlighting in bold) things like:

    I agree with you that unconscious processes impact self-identity but I don’t see that undercutting the importance of autobiographical memory to self-identity”
    “Yes, personality is shaped by early life experiences and is often stable but that doesn’t mean personality is incapable of being altered by later experiences or that autobiographical recall has no impact on self-identity or personality.”
    “I’m not asking for links that that demonstrate memories, autobiographical or otherwise, are fallible or that personality is related to identity since these are not things I am disputing. I’m specifically disagreeing with the suggestion that autobiographical memories are unimportant to self-identity and that this view reflects the current consensus in the research literature.”
    “I’m not saying that semantic memories are completely irrelevant to a sense of self or that a person has no social identity whatsoever even if they lose all autobiographical recall.”

    Ok that’s as much as I can handle for now.

    Sorry bachfiend, I’ll try and reply to you when I regain some willpower. I am getting a distinct sense of deja vu and am quickly having my own episodic flashbacks to my last unproductive comment section spiral with Sophie. It seems like the discussion is moving on anyway, hopefully to greener pastures. Sophie remember when I said it might be better to agree to disagree? I was right 😉

  673. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Bachfiend,

    How many memories would you need to delete before the copy ‘you’ stops having the identity of ‘you’? I would expect that you’d need to delete a lot of memories before they affect identity even in a very small way.

    Not only is this a great point, but let’s apply it more generally. Imagine that you have multiple identical Sophies, once they are free of the copying process and allowed to think independently, their memories will diverge. Memory isn’t a perfect algorithm, therefore when asked to recall various life events in great detail, each Sophie will say something slightly different. They could even debate and argue the details. Their memories wouldn’t be identical, but I think most people would say their “identity” hasn’t changed in a significant way.

    BJ7,

    I was asking what exactly it is that makes Sophie subjectively feel she is the conscious self inside Sophie.

    Oh yes if only you could travel back in time with everything you learned in this discussion and not say the foolish things you said multiple times. You said word for word a few times that identity is memory, you even challenged my objections by claiming that personality is also memory, instead of pausing and telling me that you aren’t concerned with personality because all you care about are subjective feelings of being yourself. Someone advancing the position you are advancing now would have told me that personality is irrelevant because it’s not conscious feelings, not that it is also just memory and therefore equal to identity.

    The subjective feeling of being you is an illusion created by the brain. The teleporter experiment is irrelevant to this discussion, all you did was filter out dualists.

    It’s tautological to say Sophie1 and Sophie2 are the same in every way, therefore they will both feel like the real Sophie. This is a trivial outcome and explains nothing about identity, just that it isn’t soul-based. You still only defined identity as “the brain.” Not a huge step towards anything.

    So, both Sophie1 and SophieA identify as the original Sophie because of a continual string of memories.

    Another critical error. You could have just waked away after successfully rewriting the argument and traveling back in time. But no, you had to end with this. Saying that two Sophies identify as the original “because of a continual string of memories” is basically the same as the arguments you proposed early in the discussion. You are saying that memory is what causes identity, just in a different way. Old habits die hard. You are also making your argument worse by introducing the idea of continuous strings of memories, because memory is not a continuous string at all, that’s also an illusion. Memory is discrete illusions created and experienced in the present one at a time usually, with many flaws. It’s not a video tape.

    Cross,

    Sophie and bachfiend have been talking about characteristics that determine identity.
    You (and many of the rest of us) have been talking about what defines identity.
    determine: shape or influence; give direction to; “experience often determines ability”; “mold public opinion”
    define: determine the essential quality of

    Yep. Some more hardcore hair splitting and intellectual dishonesty.

    In this context of “defining identity,” define means: to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; describe. Determine is also listed as a synonym of this type of defining.

    Determine is a more complex word on its own, with many meanings in different situations. Certainly not a simple as your description. In the example of “determining identity,” it means: ascertain or establish exactly, typically as a result of research or calculation. To conclude or ascertain, as after reasoning, observation, etc.

    As we can see this is just more semantic nitpicking. It’s an attempt at saying “this is what I think the conversation was really about,” instead of actually adding anything to the conversation.

    For a bunch of people who really wanted to “define” identity, it’s interesting that none of you really clearly set it clear definitions for the word.

    I described at least three different types of identity: basic/primal, self-identity/concept and social identity. BJ7 just attempted to redefine identity to mean: subjective feelings of being you. But then dropped that to say that identity is: a continual string of memories.

    Most everyone else, ran with “identity is memory,” and built arguments on top of that.

    If you want to determine/define what something is you better ask what explains most of the phenomenon you are looking at. Autobiographical memory explains very little about identity. Personality and many other things, have much more explanatory power and can yield useful predictions. If you know someone is an extrovert you can predict their behavior better than if you know their internal narrative and how they can recall so many episodes where they were outgoing and chatty.

    No one has tried to tell me that personality isn’t a part of what makes someone who they are.

  674. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Ckava,

    All you need to do to show you are not biased is critically analyze what Cross added to this discussion. I’ve outlined numerous errors he made. And so has bachfiend. Bachfiend critiqued Cross’ over simplifications multiple times.

    It’s interesting how you haven’t provided any criticism of Cross’ insulting, all caps rants. Is it because he agrees with your silly idea that identity is best explained by memories?

  675. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I’m sorry Sophie it seems like I must have given you the impression that I care about how you regard me and would be motivated to change your perspective.

    So let me just clarify that for you, I don’t.

    If you want to criticise someone go ahead, I’m not your sock puppet. I don’t care that you feel like you’ve “outlined numerous errors” in Steve Cross’ position, because you make assertions like that constantly and they are invariably based on nothing more than your complete certainty that you are always correct.

    I have no issue criticising folks on here when I disagree with them. Nor do most other people don’t take disagreement as personally as you do. But I haven’t noticed Steve Cross making “insulting, all caps rants”, maybe I glossed over the relevant exchange, or more likely your portrayal is exaggerated and inaccurate… I know which option my money is on.

    And as for the ‘silly idea’ that autobiographical memories are extremely important for self-identity. You can take it up with the research literature.

    At this point your newest uber length thread has once again descended into a self-aggrandising, grudge fest with you just repeatedly declaring yourself the ‘winner’ as you engage in a never-ending battle with your favourite straw men.

    It’s not really going anywhere and there’s nothing really to add that hasn’t already been said. So enjoy…

  676. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 2:22 pm

    No one here can escape the original framing of this discussion. BJ7 set out multiple clear points. He said that “identity is memory,” “you are you because of your memories,” and days later: that identity is a continual string of memories.

    Is identity memory?
    Am I who I am, because of my memories?
    Is identity a continual string of memories?

    The discussion has centered on that for days. These attempts to break everything down to very specific definitions and terms are secondary to the primary discussion.

    This discussion isn’t about autobiographical memory for example, it’s about identity.

    Claiming that I’m the one who is out of bounds for bringing up other things that explain identity much better, is wrong. The fact that multiple people have now advanced this and claimed it’s fallacious is abusive behavior. Identity is many things other than memory, if you want to define identity you better be ready for things like personality and unconscious, not recall based things.

    Pretending that “A is B” doesn’t mean what it clearly implies is so intellectually dishonest. Clearly bachfiend attacked the idea that memory doesn’t explain identity because that was what was being advanced. Obviously the people who wrote extensively disagreeing with him, were trying to defend the original “identity is memory” claim. Telling me BJ7 didn’t mean “A is B” is continuously disproven by his own words. Even today he outlined how identity is a string of memories. He didn’t concede anything or acknowledge anything the opposition said. He stood firmly behind “identity is memory,” “A is B.”

  677. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 2:28 pm

    The “not” position simply advanced that “A is not B”

    While the pro position advanced that “A is B”

    If A is better explained by other processes and things. Then those things are relevant to the discussion. It’s that simple folks.

  678. Steve Crosson 15 May 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Sophie,

    Yep. Some more hardcore hair splitting and intellectual dishonesty.
    In this context of “defining identity,” define means: to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; describe. Determine is also listed as a synonym of this type of defining.
    Determine is a more complex word on its own, with many meanings in different situations. Certainly not a simple as your description. In the example of “determining identity,” it means: ascertain or establish exactly, typically as a result of research or calculation. To conclude or ascertain, as after reasoning, observation, etc.

    You never fail to amuse me. I am fully aware that many words have multiple meanings — which is exactly why I included the specific definitions I was using so that you wouldn’t be able to nitpick. Silly me.

    I was simply trying to clarify for the zillionth time what I and others have said but you completely ignore. Most of us are talking about what it takes to create a duplicate of a specific identity, and many of us have agreed that a full and complete set of memories is required.

    Although you refuse to admit it, we all ALSO agree that genetics, personality, etc. are very important in shaping identity (and the memories pertaining to that identity). This has been repeated and demonstrated to you many times. When you still insist that we are ignoring these factors, you are lying, and I mean an ACTUAL LIE.

    Unlike the FAKE LIES of which you accuse me. It is not a lie when I choose to quote something that does not support your straw man. Especially when the original author’s interpretation aligns with my view and not yours.

    Once again, you and bachfiend have done a great job identifying many, probably most, of the factors that influence the formation of identity. Congratulations!! Everyone agrees with you!!! You’ve done a great job explaining the general case.

    But when it comes to a specific, e.g. “duplicate” identity, most of us feel that a complete set of identical memories is also required. Without the special sauce, the stew just ain’t the same.

    You’re welcome to disagree. Just don’t pretend that you have proved us wrong when we don’t accept your premises, or rather, we do accept them but feel that they do not apply to the question at hand.

    This is one of those situations where a sensible person would simply agree to disagree. Even bachfiend (whom I greatly admire and generally agree with) will only commit to saying that identity will be very nearly the same if we change or remove something like autobiographical memory.

    You’re pretty much a lone voice in the wilderness. All because you seem to have a compulsion to pick fights with anyone you perceive as an enemy.

    You’ll never be as good a skeptic as you want to be (or already think that you are) until you can control your emotions and do a better job of recognizing your own biases.

  679. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Many years ago I read a science fiction book ‘Who’ which was set during the Cold War. There was an enormous explosion in a very important American military research centre horribly mutilating a top researcher so that he was physically not able to be recognised. American security were left with the problem of trying to decide after the researcher had recovered and was ready to return to work whether he was the real absolutely loyal American scientist. Or whether he was a Soviet plant, deliberately mutilated and given enough information so as to be able to infiltrate the American military research to spy. Or to act as a saboteur. This was apparently set in a time before DNA testing.

    What did the American security do? How did they determine that the horribly disfigured man who couldn’t be physically identified as their absolutely loyal brilliant scientist actually had his ‘identity’. I seem to remember that the security agency used the man’s autobiographical memories, and eventually (incorrectly) decided he was a Soviet plant.

    You might use autobiographical memories (which includes both episodic memory and semantic memory) to define a person’s identity, but a person’s identity is determined by everything within the person’s brain (and arguably in the person’s entire body – the horrible physical mutilations in the scientist’s body in the story above would be expected to have major psychological effects).

    ‘You are your memories’ I regard as a hopeless oversimplification, particularly since BillyJoe seems to indicate that he actually meant episodic memories instead of semantic memories as a way of deciding who has the ‘identity’ although both form part of a person’s autobiography.

    My identity depends on having my entire brain functioning correctly, not just having memories of my past life, which I actually find rather unreliable. I know for example that I lived in Munich for 3 months in the early ’90s, but I’d have to construct a history about my very long stay there from other sources (it occurred the year after the attempted coup against Gorbachev, so that gives the year, a few days after arriving I ran the Munich Marathon so that gives the month, and then a few months later I ran the 2nd Prague Marathon, so that’s another data point… I don’t have any episodic memories from my stay in Munich, they’re all semantic. And not particularly reliable, particularly regarding autobiographical details.

    I do regard my semantic memory of words and faces much more reliable. In particular faces – humans evolved to have very good recognition of faces. In the early ’80s I worked at a hospital in Port Hedland for 3 months and met a particular medical registrar. Then around 20 years later I remet the same person at a classical music concert in Perth, and I automatically added 20 years to my stored gallery of faces, made an immediate match and went up and said ‘Hello Leon’. I was absolutely correct. Faces are stored in semantic not episodic memory.

    I am who I am not just because of my memories, which is a hopeless oversimplification and reductionism taken to extreme limits. I am who I am because of my entire brain, which like all human brains, is extremely complex and does an enormous number of amazing things without conscious effort.

    I’m not a dualist. I take Daniel Dennett’s position – the brain is the mind and the mind is the brain. There’s a conscious mind (and a conscious brain) and an unconscious mind (and an unconscious brain). The mind isn’t something that the brain produces; it is the mind. The conscious mind has the illusion that it’s in control, but it isn’t. It’s like the monkey on the elephant’s back which thinks it’s directing the elephant by pulling on its ears but it isn’t – the elephant goes where the elephant wants to go.

    You might use what the conscious brain/mind does to define identity (it’s much more accessible to examination), but it’s what the unconscious brain/mind does that predominantly determines identity. The conscious brain/mind does have a little role in determining identity, but the unconscious brain/mind is much more important.

  680. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Cross,

    Control my emotions? You write all caps rants and seem to lose it on a regular basis, you advance extreme reductionism and simplification, when the reality is clearly very complex. I would definitely say you are more emotional. But attacking someone’s control over their emotions instead of that they said is a personal attack.

    You also miscategorized what bachfiend said. He definitely said that autobiographical memory plays a small role in determining an identity. So yes it’s a lie to say this:

    “Even bachfiend (whom I greatly admire and generally agree with) will only commit to saying that identity will be very nearly the same if we change or remove something like autobiographical memory.”

    That’s definitely not his position he clearly said:

    No one doubts that changing any specific episodic memory will alter your sense of identity. The question is how much? I think the answer is ‘not very much at all’. Infintestimal, if you like. Episodic memories are disappearing everyday. Or changing in detail over time. You still have the same identity, you’re still the same person.

    And also I still think that the original assertion ‘Identity is memory. You are you because of your memories’ is definitely wrong. It also changes Rene Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am’ into ‘I think I remember, therefore I am’. Almost as pithy and just as superficial.

    The human brain is extremely complex. Explaining something as complicated as ‘identity’ as something simpler such as ‘memories’ is excessive reductionism and is as false as attempting to explain the ability to walk as just the firing of neurons in parts of the motor cortex.

    So yes Cross you are a liar. You lie in almost every comment. You say people say things that they clearly did not say. This isn’t a personal attack it’s a fact. You have shown a pattern of deliberate deception and intellectual dishonesty. From misquoting people to incorrectly summarizing their positions.

    I also love all the comments about “real skepticism,” if you are a true heroic skeptic then, you are 100% correct in saying I’m not. I’m nothing like you. Your primary tool is deception, deliberate dishonesty and appeals to popular opinion. You care more about score keeping and adding up other people’s attacks and leveling them against the people you disagree with. Meanwhile bachfiend who you cite in your defense, has repeatedly accused you and others of oversimplifying the issues. Some how in your dishonest summary, you ignored all the stuff he actually said, the bulk of his commentary is saying that: identity is not memory.

  681. Steve Crosson 15 May 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Sophie,

    What are you even talking about?

    How is “identity will be very nearly the same”
    significantly different in meaning than:
    [the changes will be]”‘not very much at all’. Infintestimal, if you like”

    At various times in this thread, bachfiend has said that autobiographical memories have minimal (but some) influence on identity, and he has also said that changing episodic memory will have minimal (but some) effect on identity.

    I did not misrepresent him at all. I am merely pointing out that even he agrees that changing memories will have some effect, however infinitesimal.

    Which is the important point if we are discussing identical identities — they won’t be.

    I don’t care whatever straw man you’ve created of my views, but I’ve consistently said the same thing. For two “identities” to truly be the same, they must have every single component you have identified (personality, etc.) plus every single memory.

    Come on cozy, you’re foaming at the mouth.

    There is no sane reason for you to be behaving this childishly. I’ve treated your current persona very respectfully, but you’re still holding a grudge from 4 or 5 months ago.

    I’ve done nothing except make the case for why I disagree with you. For which I’ve received escalating levels of insult and condescension, as well as frequent accusation of lying.

    Oh, well I guess I have regularly pointed out your incessant strawmanning and also the many times that you refuse to acknowledge that your “arguments” and objections have been answered time and time again. But that is hardly my fault. If you would just engage honestly, then there would be no cause for me to ever do that.

  682. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Cross,

    “I did not misrepresent him at all. I am merely pointing out that even he agrees that changing memories will have some effect, however infinitesimal.”

    So at this point it’s just obvious you either didn’t read what he wrote or that you don’t understand it. You can’t double down this many times and be honest and aware of the discussion.

    Bachfiend clearly said many times that identity is not memory. He outline the numerous errors in that line of reasoning and said that at most autobiographical memory would have a very small role to play in identity.

    He isn’t conceding that identity is in fact autobiographical memory. He’s saying the opposite. He’s saying that many other things explain identity better than autobiographical memory.

    He even clearly said that BJ7 made numerous errors in his framing of the discussion. And that he over simplified. Bachfiend does not support your argument that identity is memory.

  683. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 7:41 pm

    If you say A is B.
    Bach says: actually A isn’t B…. B only explains very little amount of A. Framing A in terms of B is simplistic and misleading. Removing B wouldn’t have as big of an effect on A as you all think.

    He isn’t agreeing that A is B.

    Clearly this simple concept eludes many of the people here.

  684. Sophieon 15 May 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Bachfiend,

    I’m also a fan of Dennett’s position. I wonder if the divide in this discussion is not so much about the details but just the perspective. Ckava denies that other mammals have a basic sense of identity, he even described a gazelle as just responding to stimuli. How do you feel about that? Do you think our sense of identity is so special and exclusive to humans? Where do you think identity has its origins?

    It seems like you and I are totally okay with the fact that our identity isn’t based on episodic memory, but they are very opposed almost on a personal level. Maybe they think they will lose some of themselves. For me it’s almost too obvious that my identity is so much better explained by other things. Self-identity is almost fantasy, and doesn’t explain my overall identity like at all. I see myself as a open minded person, who is brave and capable of trying new foods, but yet I always chicken out when we go the restaurant and I order the teriyaki. My self identity, the stories I tell myself about being braced and effective are totally fantasy and not predictive of my behavior.

  685. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Sophie,

    It’s incredible just how consistently you misrepresent people’s arguments.

    Here is a relevant quote for you:

    “No, I’m not arguing for a golden barrier between humans and other animals, I think there are plenty of non-human species that have forms of self-awareness and self-identity.

    How can you possibly have took this to mean that I think self-awareness and self-identity are “exclusive to humans”?

    I argued that it is anthropocentric to automatically assume that all other animals think like humans, which it is. I’m not dismissing gazelles as having no conscious existence, I am specifically saying there is no evidence that they have an introspective self-identity. You are constantly conflating self-awareness/self-identity with your particular version of ‘identity’ which morphs according to need, but seems to usually be closer to basic consciousness or first person experiences of the world. But I’m not using terms as you chose to define them.

    Bachfiend,

    The problem I see with your argument is that you are stuck on taking the statement ‘you are your memories’ as literally as possible, interpreting it to mean that there are no other significant components of self-identity. But BillyJoe7, and everyone else I can see commenting in the thread, have already clarified (or if you prefer conceded) that they are not arguing that: a) there are no other components that impact a person’s self-identity or b) that a person requires other things to exist and function. No-one is arguing either of these points despite Sophie’s insistence.

    It should be obvious to anyone that a person who only possessed autobiographic memory would be unable to function, it’s as obvious as stating that a person who only had memories and no heart would be facing severe problems. But that’s not what I took BillyJoe’s statements to mean, and when I asked him directly he confirmed this is not what he meant. So regardless of Sophie’s constant self-serving editoralizing, it seems fair to put this straw man to bed.

    The point of disagreement is not whether personality and unconscious factors are relevant to self identity (everyone agrees they are) but whether a person’s autobiographical memory is very important/or unimportant to defining an individual’s self-identity. You have repeatedly made the case that it is not an important factor but I (along with others) strongly disagree and at least in my case I hold that position because I am aware of research which shows otherwise. Sophie seems convinced such evidence doesn’t exist or is hopelessly out of date but that’s simply not true.

    Below are just a few examples… I fully anticipate Sophie doing her usual thing and scrambling to find reasons to dismiss each and every reference but I’m not providing them to engage or convince her. We all know it is impossible for her to ever be wrong. I’m providing them *for you* to offer some illustrations of why I disagree with your perspective. I would be interested in hearing your response and potentially why you think they are irrelevant/wrong or if I am misinterpreting your position.

    1. Rose Addis & Tippett (2004): A study comparing 20 Ahlzeimer patients with a matched age control group which found that autobiographical memory impairment was associated with changes in the strength, quality, and direction of (self-)identity.

    2. Charlesworth et al. (2015): Experimental study demonstrating that participants who engage in tasks that involve autobiographical memory retrieval subsequently display stronger access to self concepts.

    3. Conway (2005): A paper presenting the Self-Memory-System framework which reviews a wide array of research, including clinical studies on impairments, and proposes a key role for autobiographical memory. Despite Sophie’s characterisation as Conway as a marginal figure in the literature this is one of the most dominant framework relating to self-identity and memory processes.

  686. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Sophie,

    I’m also a chicken regarding trying new foods. I once went to a restaurant in Hangzhou and the people I was with took so long trying to decide what to order from the menu that I just picked the first item on the vegetarian section, the fermented bean curds, when I finally got the menu. Some people from the group who’d eaten earlier came up and told us – whatever you do, don’t order the fermented bean curds, that disgusting smell outside in the street isn’t from backed up sewers, it’s actually the fermented bean curds. They were right. And it was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.

    The last time I was in Amsterdam. I promised myself I’d have a biscuit made with a ‘certain substance’ in one of the Coffee Shops. I chickened out at the front door.

    I think human identity has its origins in some far distant ancestor of both humans and gazelles. Having ‘identity’ is very useful for animals, so it’s not so surprising that it evolved. It may, and probably did, evolve many times in the same way that vision evolved many times too. Cephalopods, such as cuttlefish and octopuses, have identity too – but they’re too different biologically for us to be able to use autobiographic memory (if they have one, and I’m inclined to think that they do).

    Personally, I wouldn’t use autobiographic memory as a means of distinguishing a ‘real’ person from an impostor. The impostor could have been extensively coached regarding the person’s life. I’d ask the suspected impostor to do something only the real person could do. If I was trying to distinguish Joshua Bell from a just merely competent violinist, I’d asked the two to play some fiendishly difficult violin piece neither has previously seen and pick the most competent performance as coming from Joshua Bell.

    I’m still bemused that the admission that episodic memory will have some minor effect on identity somehow or another is considered to justify ‘memory is identity’.

    I wonder if it’s some residue of a subconscious belief in substance dualism that has continued the argument so long? The human brain is material, but somehow the mind and memories are so different that they must be of a different substance? Human brains look so similar anatomically and as a result its material can’t explain vastly different identities, so it must be the the immaterial mind and memories that do the job?

  687. Steve Crosson 15 May 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Sophie,

    You accuse me of not reading bachfiends posts, but I have and I feel that he is not addressing the spirit of the thought experiment originally proposed.

    I can just as easily make the case that you haven’t read my posts very carefully either. The first line of my second comment on this subject:

    I think the interesting question is “how do we define or identify a specific, unique identity?” In other words, what would it take for “me” to still be “me”?

    Which, for me at least is the crux of the issue (and I think BJ7 would agree that is what he had in mind as well for this thought experiment). Sure, “identity = memory” may be a bit hyperbolic, but that really isn’t the main point of the thought experiment, at least for me.

    The thing is, if I’m concerned about “me” still being the same “me”, then “almost ain’t good enough”. And I really don’t care if that last tiny bit is only a fraction of a percent, I still care a lot. It was part of my original identity and since I want to be the same “me”, I want it to be part of the new me.

    Sure, everything you mentioned had a dramatic influence making “me” in the first place, but life experiences also played a role, no matter how small.

    And memories encapsulate that life experience. I don’t care at all which kind of memories — if they have an effect no matter how small, then I want that effect to be incorporated in the new “me”.

    Bachfiend mentioned ( just a few comments ago) that you really need the whole body if you want to have the same identity, and I agree 100%. Which is why my examples always reference the transporter version of the thought experiment — IMHO you need “everything”.

    Which most assuredly includes the exact state of the brain. Which is literally the current physical state of my memories — all of them.

    You can call that oversimplification but I disagree. No matter how good we think our current models are, they are not perfect. I believe we are a long way from being able to identify individual memories, or even fully understand how they work.

    And like it or not Sophie, as far as anyone knows, we are literally neurons reacting to chemical gradients (unless the dualists are correct which I very much doubt). As a “meat robot”, “I” am nothing more or less than the current state of a very long, very complicated chemical reaction.

    And even if the initial conditions of that chemical reaction are fixed by genetics, and there are all sorts of other constraints placed on “me” along the way by all of the other factors you’ve proposed as “identity influencers”, my “history” will still have some effect on how the reaction proceeds. And how my neurons form and grow and interconnect.

    My “memory” at any given point at time is a direct result of everything that has had an effect on how my neurons grow and change. It doesn’t matter if parts are episodic, or semantic, or how they interact or anything else. It is the raw material that the “processing” parts of the brain have to work with at any given point in time. If I want the new me to be identical to the old me, I need to duplicate it exactly.

    It is also, in a very real sense, my “identity” because it contains everything I know about my self (and is my frame of reference) and that information, in turn, impacts the way in which I process, evaluate and “file” new information.

    And yes, I completely agree that my body, and genetics and everything else had an effect on how exactly my “memories” reached the current point in time (and will continue to do so in the future), my “memories” are the end result of that complicated process, and IMHO, must necessarily be “transported” to the new “me” if my goal is being still the same “me”.

    Now, you may feel that this is an over-simplification and a very unorthodox view of memory, but I strongly suspect that this is more or less what people envision when they talk about the transporter thought experiment.

  688. Steve Crosson 15 May 2017 at 9:38 pm

    bachfiend,

    If you haven’t already, please read my response to Sophie immediately above and let me know what you think.

    I don’t have nearly enough knowledge or expertise to fully understand your point of view, but from what I think that I do understand, I don’t feel as if you are fully addressing the spirit of BJ7’s original thought experiment.

    In this very narrow, very specific case, it seems to me that for “me” still to be “me”, then “everything” must be identical no matter how small the significance.

  689. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 9:55 pm

    CKava,

    You submitted your last comment while I was responding to Sophie.

    The obvious response to your 3 cited papers (which I won’t bother hunting up and reading, I’ll go on your descriptions) is that in the first paper, which actually has real data, the patients with Alzheimer’s disease have many more neurological deficits other than problems retrieving memories (similar to HM, who had rather more than just both hippocampuses removed, he also had severe epilepsy requiring heavy antiepileptic medication, and – I seem to remember – he was also a cigarette smoker, physically inactive and a bit obese, all of which would have effects on both general brain structure and function – including identity – not just memory).

    The other two papers seem conjectural and not obviously related to identity.

    And it still is a gross simplification to write ‘memory is identity’, when it clearly isn’t. ‘Memory is identity’ isn’t the same as ‘identity is memory, plus a lot of other things – many of which we don’t have subjective let alone objective access to – so we’ll define identity as memory because it’s easier to do, and even though we agree that the other things are important’. Particularly since BillyJoe has agreed that when wrote ‘memories’ he meant autobiographical episodic memories, as I’d originally inferred when I read his original comment on identity.

    It is a fascinating topic though.

  690. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Cephalopods, such as cuttlefish and octopuses, have identity too – but they’re too different biologically for us to be able to use autobiographic memory (if they have one, and I’m inclined to think that they do).

    A little off topic but I’m currently reading ‘Other Minds: The Octopus and The Philosopher’ and it is a really fascinating look at intelligence in what amounts to completely alien minds. I would strongly recommend it, and I noticed because of reading it that there was some recent evidence that cuttlefish possess episodic like memory: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24309275

    Studies of intelligence/personality in cephalopods are really interesting and l I think that the ongoing revolution in research with cephalopods highlights the dangers that attend placing too much emphasis/relying on analogies with human cognitive processes. Evolution has certainly taken many interesting paths outside of our branch!

  691. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 10:06 pm

    No worries bachfiend, thanks for answering.

    I still think you’re wrong but am inclined at this point to agree to disagree.

    It is definitely fascinating topic and there remains healthy debates. But I would still really recommend checking out Conway’s paper if you get time in the future. It is a theoretical paper but it covers much more ‘data’, including clinical data, than any individual study. I think it might challenge your perspective, or at very least annoy you! 😉

  692. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Steve,

    I completely agree with you. In the thought experiment, a perfect copy will have the identical memories as the original. And will have the same identity.

    I have taken the thought experiment a little further and asked whether if the copy wasn’t perfect – perhaps the episodic memory of the person’s wedding or the birth of the person’s first child (which other commenters appear to be highly significant for identity) were deleted, would that affect identity?

    My answer was – not at all. You don’t think about your wedding or the birth of your firstborn every day. You might wonder about your ‘marbles’ if you can’t retrieve the memories next week or next year, but it won’t affect your identity.

    Another person trying to decide whether you’re you or an impostor might ask you about your wedding or the birth of your firstborn (assuming that they have the relevant details and are capable of making the appropriate allowances for the uncertainties of perception and recollection)

    And an outside person can’t assess your total identity by just testing your memory.

  693. CKavaon 15 May 2017 at 10:14 pm

    *Correction: I meant ‘Other Minds: The Octopus and The Evolution of Intelligent Life’ had a brain fart with the ‘Bonobo and the Atheist’! lol.

  694. bachfiendon 15 May 2017 at 10:31 pm

    CKva,

    I read ‘Other Minds’ when it first come out. I agree it’s very good.

  695. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 1:15 am

    Steve Cross,

    [Steve Cross, previously] This is one of those situations where a sensible person would simply agree to disagree. Even bachfiend (whom I greatly admire and generally agree with) will only commit to saying that identity will be very nearly the same if we change or remove something like autobiographical memory.

    [Sophie, previously] You also miscategorized what bachfiend said. He definitely said that autobiographical memory plays a small role in determining an identity.

    [Steve Cross, more recently] At various times in this thread, bachfiend has said that autobiographical memories have minimal (but some) influence on identity, and he has also said that changing episodic memory will have minimal (but some) effect on identity. I did not misrepresent him at all.

    [Bachfiend, recently] I’m still bemused that the admission that episodic memory will have some minor effect on identity somehow or another is considered to justify ‘memory is identity’.

    So, Steve Cross misrepresented Bachfiend multiple times, I already demonstrated that. But here Bachfiend himself is replying to the erroneous conclusions Cross drew from his arguments.

    Now can we wrap it up? Cross misrepresents people in almost every single comment. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone he is defending, as can be seen in his deliberate misquoting of BJ7’s argument, or if it’s someone who is clearly challenging his arguments, as the recent example shows.

    He cites people who are demolishing his argument as supporters. Reminds of the prehistoric Sophie with no sense of identity, that mistakes herself for the lioness chasing her. Learn the difference between friend and foe. If something explains an infinitesimal amount of a phenomenon, than it doesn’t explain it at all.

    If autobiographical or episodic memory explains just as small amount of identity, then that’s logically equivalent to identity being explained much better by other things. Things that are not episodic memory.

    Ckava,

    On gazelle identity, you wrote:

    That this must involve a concept of self-identity or self-awareness, errr… why? Is it because they display complex behavior?

    There is a vast literature on this topic (comparative cognition) and the current evidence suggests that self-awareness and self-identity is not a very widespread feature amongst animals. You describe it as being speciesist to deny that self-awareness extends to other animals but I would conversely contend that it is egocentric to assume that the characteristics of human cognition and perception are the default for all other species.

    This is a gross misinterpretation of my thoughts on the evolution of identity. Bachfiend has argued that identity has its origins even earlier. My point was not these specific definitions which you incorrectly inferred from my writing.

    I was talking about how consciousness itself, means some kind of identity. Saying a gazelle has some consciousness but not some basic idea of its self-identity is meaningless. Consciousness is awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Identity is who or what something is. Therefore by definition consciousness comes with some sense of identity.

    Even if a gazelle is running consciousness-light, mammal edition, it still is aware that it’s not the predator chasing it. It has some idea that it’s not the grass it eats. It acts like it is its own thing, not like it thinks it is other gazelles. If it did not have a basic idea of what it was in relation to the world around it, it would be like a boulder rolling down a hill, or an amoeba following a simple diffusion of chemicals towards food. Or a drunk gazelle having an out of body experience, refusing to flee from predators.

    A gazelle can look at it’s environment and make predictions, it can estimate distances, evade predators, find a nice spot to sleep etc. It’s not human, it doesn’t know or calculate things in the sense we do, and even a lot of our mental calculations are heuristics and not perfect. But if it has any kind of consciousness it has a basic sense of identity.

    Back to identity is memory… You could write an extensively referenced book on how identity is memory, and it doesn’t make it so.

    The more and more you write trying to defend the idea that identity is best explained by autobiographical memory, you just dig yourself deeper in a hole that is easily paved over by the idea that personality explains human identity so much better. Personality is the death knell to all your lovely arguments. Unlike autobiographical and episodic memory it’s largely unconscious, innate and very predictive of someone’s identity.

    This obsession of yours with using specific definitions that no one was using, and appealing to a specific framing of the discussion, shows us just how biased you are. BJ7 did not use the definitions you use. He consistently advanced a position that is not reflected in your many flawed summaries.

    It’s not just me that noticed this inaccurate framing and summary of BJ7’s original position. Bachfiend felt the need to write out multiple times something like: this all started when BJ7 said the following… — Precisely because people kept making up their own version of the original discussion. And giving details and specific definitions that BJ7 did not propose.

    (1) The relevant issue here is what makes someone who they are. This is a discussion about identity, not memory.

    This is because:
    BJ7 said many times that identity is memory.
    When A is said to be B, we don’t mean that B kind of weakly implies B. We mean that B explains A, or is equivalent to A. B is at minimum a description or value of A.

    We are also talking about the nature of A (identity), not just how much of A is explained by B. If it’s discovered that something else explains A better, then that’s relevant because by definition it’s also evidence that A is not B.

    (2) Bachfiend and I have advanced arguments showing that identity is not best explained by memory. The opposite side has countered us at every turn, claiming that identity is essentially autobiographical / episodic memory. They have conceded very few points. Preferring to instead claim that we don’t know what we are talking about and that no one is talking about things like personality. Edamame went so far as to claim that bachfiend must have aphantasia, and that the reason bachfiend proposed that identity isn’t memory is because of this condition that isn’t even confirmed to be real.

    (3) I saw that Bachfiend was already attacking it from the angle of autobiographical memory. I chose to focus on things that explained identity much better. I was accused of strawmaning BJ7, not partaking in the correct discussion, and asking the wrong questions.

    If someone tells you “A is B” there are many ways you can tackle it. You can either try to show how much of A is explained by B (bachfiend’s approach).

    Or you can simply ask, “well what is A, anyway? Where did it come from? How much of it can be explained by things that are not B?”

    In this case, autobiographical memory explains so incredibly little about identity, that it’s just wrong to say “Identity is memory.”

    This would be like saying:
    “Earth’s orbit can be understood by examining how the earth’s gravitational field tugs on the sun. The earth pulls the sun towards it.”

    Technically yes the earth does tug on the sun a little bit, but this is infinitesimal compared to the effect of the Sun’s gravity on the entire solar system.

    Spending 4 days defending how the earth does in fact pull on the sun, finding references, and arguing it to death, doesn’t change the ultimate outcome.

    No dude, the earth’s orbit is best explained by the formation of the solar system and the fact that the sun is giant by comparison and it’s gravity is responsible for the orbit of every planet.

    Identity is not memory. Yes, sure some things with no predictive utility, and explanatory power, like self-concept, can be studied by examining the small role of autobiographical and episodic memory. But identity is much more than this. For example, a central idea in psychology is personality, it determines much about who someone is, i.e. their identity.

    Personality is the death knell to: identity is memory. It has nothing to do with autobiographical memory and explains so much more about identity than episodic memory. If you have someone’s detailed personality test results you can make predictions about their behavior that might even be more accurate than their own ideas about themselves.

    You could for example accurately predict that an introvert will perform poorly at a meet and greet. The introvert might have many great ideas about themselves, how when they put their mind to it they can thrive in social settings, how they are highly intelligent and so many times back in high school people talked to them.
    But then they fail horribly, or they are so awkward and they don’t see it themselves. We are always the heroic badass in our stories. Few people look back on their lives and see a person who isn’t intelligent, skilled or liked.

    How many times have you seen a remarkably unskilled contestant on a TV game show or something like American idol? People who are tone deaf, sometimes have very high opinions of themselves.

    Their identity is very poorly explained by their autobiographical and episodic memory. Thinking you are a talented singer, having lovely stories and memories about how well received your singing was in the past, is no indicator of your identity as a performer.

    Framing a discussion about the nature of identity, and dismissing personality and other elements of identity as not relevant, is an embarrassment. These things are certainly inconvenient to the proposal that identity is memory. But it’s of prime importance to defining identity and getting to the truth.

    Any serious theory of identity should have explanatory power and the ability to make good predictions. It should also appeal to objective observations not just internal mental thoughts. Autobiographical and episodic memory-based explanations for identity have almost no explanatory power. Squeezing every drop of explanations for human Identity out of this flawed perspective just shows how little you understand about answering questions.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explanatory_power

  696. edamameon 16 May 2017 at 1:31 am

    Sophie:
    “Consciousness is awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Identity is who or what something is. Therefore by definition consciousness comes with some sense of identity.”

    but also

    “It should also appeal to objective observations not just internal mental thoughts.”

    This entire thread you’ve been talking about consciousness and a sense of yourself during conscious experience. It is pretty wishy-washy Sophie.

    The stuff you are saying about personality being part of identity is fine, except when you say it is somehow way more important than memory. That seems completely unjustified, partly because as I’ve repeated multiple times now, personality types are extremely common. There are a billion introverts in the world. Only one person with my particular suite of memories. Hence, my memories are much better at individuating who I am, as an individual, than personality.

    At any rate, these debates about which is more important than what are sort of moot. Different axes exist, they are all important. The thread is too long. But memory is clearly more important. Debate over. Thread locked.

  697. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 2:23 am

    Bachfiend,

    I’ll have to try some fermented bean curds. I see it’s like a type of tofu. I can probably eat that. I’ve eaten tofu before.

    About the residual dualism, I don’t know, but I have some ideas. I don’t think they would attack me and call me a dualist if they were obviously fans of dualism. And not everyone here would just agree with the transporter problem if they were literal conscious dualists. I think they have some subtle reside like you described.

    Maybe they are more on the side of Chalmers and not Dennett?

    Ckava seems well read but his opinions seem to be divergent from much of what I’ve read in the last couple days on this topic. Like the Conway paper has literally nothing to do with defining identity, it deals exclusively with building a theory of autobiographical memory, I honestly don’t really understand why he would promote that so much, and I read the majority of the paper and skimmed through the rest.

    The heavy reliance on cognitive psych models, instead of neuroscience here, and his skilled performance in the Jesus thread point away from the hard sciences.

    His comments on gazelle self-identity and the evolution of identity seem really misguided. I would be tempted to conclude that he doesn’t side with Dennett. He makes multiple references to human exceptionalism and doesn’t really understand how consciousness is related to identity. Seems like a really strange mistake you would make if you read and understood almost anything by Dennett. He even said that gazelles have a basic consciousness but not a basic self-identity. How is that possible? It’s only possible if you think the idea “self-identity” only applies to humans. Which makes no sense. Dennett is all about how human consciousness is just another evolutionary step and that everything we have now existed in earlier forms. We might have more of an idea of self-identity than a gazelle, but a gazelle still has a basic form of this.

    We also talked about Dennett multiple times, and literally no one, other than you and I, made reference to him in this thread.

    I think they are really tied into this feeling that their autobiographical and episodic memories explain their identities. They seem personally invested in it, and just casually say that personality has a role and that’s not what the conversation is about. But then they get right back to explaining how much of identity is explained by memory. They don’t seem particularly invested in answering what identity actually is, as much as they are invested in the ability of memory to explain it.

    Also don’t forget human nature, they first advanced the position that identity is memory over 5 days ago, they’ve kept fighting fiercely all this time. It would be hard to realize you made a mistake and drop this argument.

    It’s much easier to never admit a mistake and rewrite your old arguments with what you learned. Someone like Steve Cross is never going to agree with me, he obviously hates me. He cites your arguments as support when they directly counter his points. It’s not about the content. Your arguments directly counter the claim that identity is memory but he likes them. Mine though… my arguments are not even answering the right questions apparently.

    Identity is not memory. Identity is much better explained by other things. We are right. I just don’t understand why you would hold onto their position in the face of so much contrary evidence. Could be a combination of hatred, dominance display, residual substance dualism, ignorance, refusal to concede anything and wanting to troll.

    Does anyone else here in this thread believe in the ideas proposed by the philosophy of Daniel Dennett?
    Do you believe in the hard problem of consciousness?
    Do you like the work of David Chalmers?
    Do you believe that p-zombies are significant?
    Do you believe human consciousness is extraordinary and special?
    Are qualia a real issue to understanding consciousness?

    Answering these questions will maybe help reveal the differences between the parties in this discussion. Bach and I stand with Dennett. How about you?

  698. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 2:45 am

    edamame,

    There are a billion introverts in the world. Only one person with my particular suite of memories. Hence, my memories are much better at individuating who I am, as an individual, than personality.

    This would be an excellent argument if personality was just introversion vs extroversion, it’s not though.

    A modern personality analysis measures many different aspects of someone’s personality, gives results that are pretty specific and indicative of their unique identity. The combination of scores on various different scales is not perfectly unique but it’s still pretty specific. Modern personality assessment measures 10-40+ different elements of someone’s personality. The big five tests for example don’t just measure 5 scales but break down those 5 major elements into other components.

    Forget all that for a second.
    Let’s say all we have is two things: personality and autobiographical / episodic memory.
    Which one better explains identity? If you think the answer is memory then why does it have no explanatory power in comparison to personality assessment? Why would you choose a highly fallible conscious memory process instead of something that is innate? What would you trust more, an autobiographical account or a clinical level personality assessment?

    Also how do you feel about Dennett? Are p-zombies a thing? Is the hard problem a big deal?

  699. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 3:07 am

    Suppose you sit with a patient,

    Autobiographical account:
    They tell you in great detail that they hear voices, they believe that they are in direct communication with the creator of the universe, that they have magical abilities. They tell you they can see the future. That they have successfully done many supernatural things in their past. That earlier today they telepathically communicated with a nurse. They swear they are telling the truth, you have no reason to assume they are attempting to deceive you.

    Clinical account:
    In front of you is a full medical history, including a clinical assessment, it says some things that are based on the results of various tests and conclusions of experts. It outlines that this patient has schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by hearing voices, strange thoughts and having a disassociated relationship with reality.

    Now I ask you quite simply: which of these accounts better explains the identity of this patient?

    Yes. Even their self-identity is better explained by the external clinical view, than their own internal view.

    Identity is simply who or what something is. If identity literally is memory then I guess this patient really is someone who can talk to god and see the future.

    Oh well your perspective can’t explain something like schizophrenia? Well mine can. My theory of identity includes explanations for mental illnesses.

  700. edamameon 16 May 2017 at 3:15 am

    Who will take the Dennett loyalty oath? lol

  701. bachfiendon 16 May 2017 at 3:54 am

    Edamame,

    It almost reminds me of the loyalty oath in Catch-22. If you don’t swear it, then you don’t get your parachute.

    I generally agree more with Dennett than Chalmers. I don’t think consciousness is any harder a problem than any other in neuroscience. I think the concept of the philosophical zombie is logically incoherent, and I can’t understand why anyone has taken it seriously – it just seems to be a form of premise (1) of Egnor’s ontological argument in the other thread. I think human consciousness isn’t exceptional. I don’t think qualia are an issue in understanding consciousness – qualia is just another thing the brain does.

  702. CKavaon 16 May 2017 at 4:05 am

    Ckava seems well read but his opinions seem to be divergent from much of what I’ve read in the last couple days on this topic. Like the Conway paper has literally nothing to do with defining identity, it deals exclusively with building a theory of autobiographical memory, I honestly don’t really understand why he would promote that so much, and I read the majority of the paper and skimmed through the rest.

    Fly by comment Sophie, the Conway paper you skimmed is not the same one I am recommending to bachfiend, the one you claimed I found on wikipedia is Conway & Pleydell Pearce (2000), the one I’m recommending to bachfiend is Conway (2005). I’d still recommend both papers to you too but your agenda requires you dismiss them, so there we go.

    Regardless of your assertions both papers directly and in some detail discuss self-identity processes. The clue is in the title of the framework but if that wasn’t enough the 2005 paper is literally titled ‘Memory and the self’. Your characterisation of the model as irrelevant to self-identity reflects an unwavering commitment to your initial kneejerk response but it is self-evidently false to anyone familiar with research on self-identity and memory. Again, I recommend anyone curious to read the papers and judge their relevance for themselves. I guess you should recommend that too Sophie because then you will be proven right and everyone can see just how wrong I am.

    And as to the rest, nothing to add that hasn’t already been said a million times.

    Bonne Nuit!

  703. CKavaon 16 May 2017 at 4:16 am

    Oh and P.S. I forgot to mention, I generally agree with Dennett and share bachfiend’s view that the whole p-zombie is logically incoherent.

    Uh oh Sophie, what does that mean? Do you need to criticise bachfiend(!) for sharing the same position as me? Egads… No! Maybe you can claim that I just don’t understand Dennett or how about just ignoring what I say and editorialising that I strongly endorsed Chalmers?

    Decisions, decisions 😉

    Whatever you decide on, the most important thing to remember is… you were right all along.

  704. BillyJoe7on 16 May 2017 at 7:48 am

    Sophie,

    Does anyone else here in this thread believe in the ideas proposed by the philosophy of Daniel Dennett?
    Mostly, but definitely not his position on free will.

    Do you believe in the hard problem of consciousness?
    The “hard problem” will very likely go the way of the “vital force” as neuroscience advances.

    Do you like the work of David Chalmers?
    Hate to say it of a fellow Aussie but…

    Do you believe that p-zombies are significant?
    Not only are p-zombies not significant, they are impossible.

    Do you believe human consciousness is extraordinary and special?
    Pretty well all aspects of human consciousness are found in at least rudimentary form in other animals.

    Are qualia a real issue to understanding consciousness?
    Qualia is a term defined by dualist with dualist implications. In that sense, qualia do not exist.

    Oh yeah…in my opinion. 😉

  705. BillyJoe7on 16 May 2017 at 7:52 am

    Sophie,

    “”You are also introducing the idea of continuous strings of memories, because memory is not a continuous string at all”

    Because you are not trying to understand what is written and are merely looking for things to criticise, you end up finding errors where none exist. I said “continual string of memories”. You even quoted me correctly twice, but still read this as “continuous string of memories”. You know the difference between “continual” and “continuous” right?

    https://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/continual-continuous/

    The words continual and continuous are like twins: they both come from continue, but they get mad if you get them confused. Continual means start and stop, while continuous means never-ending.

  706. BillyJoe7on 16 May 2017 at 8:12 am

    Sophie,

    “all you did was filter out dualists”

    But, because of the derail, I didn’t get a chance to flush out the closet dualists.

    There are those who claim they are not dualists but who insist that Sophie is original Sophie but not duplicate Sophie. In the scan/vapourise/duplicate scenario, they claim Sophie has died and, therefore they would never allow themselves to be transported.
    This is dualism.
    Interestingly, Steven Novella is one of these people, but I’ve not spotted one yet in this thread.

  707. Pete Aon 16 May 2017 at 8:29 am

    BillyJoe7,

    I echo your replies to those six questions, I’ll just add the following:

    I agree with Dennett’s position on free will when using his definition of free will; I simply disagree with his definition.

    Regarding qualia: Regardless of whether or not they have dualistic definitions and implications, they are nearly always touted by people who do not understand the underlying science — especially colorimetry and, of course, art!

    Colorimetry is “the science and technology used to quantify and describe physically the human color perception.”[1] It is similar to spectrophotometry, but is distinguished by its interest in reducing spectra to the physical correlates of color perception, most often the CIE 1931 XYZ color space tristimulus values and related quantities.[2]
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorimetry

  708. edamameon 16 May 2017 at 8:45 am

    https://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947/myers-briggs-personality-test-meaningless

  709. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 9:56 am

    edamame,

    I’m sorry who is advancing the Myers-Briggs test? There are clinical personality assement tests. Referencing this is a strawman.

    Also I notice no one wanted to tackle the problem of the patient with schizophrenia.

  710. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 10:17 am

    Regarding Dennett, clearly there are some slight differences among us, people have mentioned they don’t agree or like his explanations of freewill. However I agree that it doesn’t explain the differences here.

    It’s also not about being right. Bach and I happen to be right this time. It’s not a matter of opinion, there is no debate, identity is not memory. Many people here have agreed with much of what Bach has said, Cross for example thought it was a victory that Bach said memory plays a small role.

    If your theory only explains a small amount of something, then it doesn’t explain much. It’s logically equivalent to saying that other theories must explain the phenomenon much better.

    Go look at the example of the two accounts of the person with schizophrenia. Which theory of identity better explains what’s going on there?

    Yes it’s a clinical case, but detailed clinical reasoning and personality assessments can also explain much of normal healthy identity.

    Ultimately this is a conversation about the nature of identity not memory. Presupposing that identity is memory and therefore all we have to talk about is memory, is flawed. Too many assumptions that are unwarranted. If it’s literally true that identity is memory, then patients with schizophrenia literally hear voices and have fantastic abilities. If identity is not memory then human self perception is deeply flawed, inaccurate and not predictive of reality. A patient with schizophrenia only thinks their identity is defined by those things. They are mistaken about their own self-identity. Just like I am, when I build arguments in my head based on my memories of being brave and open-minded but then I chicken out and don’t try sushi.

  711. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 10:42 am

    Sophie,

    Accusing me of intellectual dishonesty is beyond hypocritical coming from you. You have continually twisted my words in an unjustified attempt at character assassination. Which, by the way, is very much a logical fallacy.

    I never claimed that bachfiend supported me. I only said that I felt that his objections didn’t really apply in this instance because I (and I believe most of the others) are talking about a specific, identical identity definition of the form “me” still being “me”.

    And guess what? When I asked him to comment on my position, he didn’t seem to have a problem with my words. He also didn’t object when I suggested that in this specific situation, identity and memory are the same thing.

    I have tried to define my terms and consistently state my position throughout this conversation. Whether or not you believe it is the same thing as BJ7’s position is irrelevant (although I do think it is pretty similar).

    I’ve been completely respectful to your current persona, although I have pointed out your incessant strawmanning and failure to acknowledge repeated clarifications of position. But if you would just engage honestly, I would not ever do that.

    But you’ve gone out of your way to disagree with everything I say, even though much of it has been widely accepted in the non-dualist world. But you have this knee-jerk reaction because of past grudges (against me and many others).

    We could have had an interesting discussion about the nature of identity (which I’ll note that bachfiend has managed to do). But you are stuck on the “all of your enemies are wrong” page. Pretty much everyone has repeatedly agreed that many of your points are relevant but you can’t even acknowledge that. You just keep insisting that we are all wrong because we hold to an extreme interpretation that you invented.

    At this point, everyone else in the room is discussing “how much (if any) influence does memory have on identity”. You just keep insisting that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong. Sometimes reasonable people just have to agree to disagree.

    You did exactly the same thing 4 or 5 months ago in your “cozying” persona. It is not productive and doesn’t gain you any points or respect. If you were hoping for a fresh start as “Sophie”, it isn’t working very well — and it won’t as long as you continue to use exactly the same approach.

  712. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 11:01 am

    Cross,

    So in my simple search of comment threads I did notice that you also spent many comments explaining to everyone how this other person you didn’t like was just a persona for hardnose. You dedicated many many comments to it.

    You have a pattern of abusive behavior stretching back all those months. People who disagree with you are clearly just other personas for people you hate.

    Regarding the influence of memory on identity. Your summary is wrong, BJ7 specifically argued that “identity is memory,” he and Ckava even challenged by complaints by attempting to show that personality is also dependent on active recall, which is hilariously inaccurate. Personality is unconscious. Why would they attempt to argue that episodic memory has an impact on personality if they were just arguing that memory has a small effect, if any on identity?

    The earth’s mass does attract the sun. Orbits can be understood with this information. However the earth pulling on the sun is a minor effect. It does not adequately explain the earth’s orbit. In the same way episodic memory does not explain human identity.

    Please apply your theories to schizophrenia. They aren’t literally true, they can’t possibly be, so what are you left with?

  713. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 11:07 am

    Shakespeare said it best: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

    cozy, it is unlikely that you have fooled any regular readers who’ve been here for the last six months or longer. I imagine that the reason most don’t bother to bring it up it because they have been willing to give you another chance. I was too, and I’ve been trying hard, but after a while your incessant need to re-litigate old grudges just becomes tedious.

    Don’t even try to pretend. You’ve got way too many verbal “tics”, pet phrases and personality traits for there to be any doubt.

    I find it more than a little ironic that in this case, your “memories” of your cozying persona are directly responsible for the behavior of your current “identity”.

    I look forward to your next attempt. It will be interesting to see how many telltales you try to disguise. I’m guessing not many. They are mostly involuntary and in a cognitive blind spot.

  714. edamameon 16 May 2017 at 11:14 am

    sophie your schizophrenia example doesn’t add anything new to the discussion. In my first post, which is still obviously right, I put personality as one factor:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/free-speech-bias/#comment-313870

    Your example doesn’t help you, it supports the view that there are general personality traits (shared by millions) upon which specific individuating features are superimposed by experience. There are millions of schizophrenics. That example doesn’t help.

    Note also in that same post I mentioned the ‘big five’ personality traits which is the one with more validity than Briggs Meyers. I posted the article trashing Briggs Meyers because it is a really good article. People might need to clear their palate after this thread. Folks tend to lie toward the mean of these personality traits, so the view that personality individuates people very well is false.

    Personal history, encoded in the trillions of synaptic weights that have been sculpted and rewired every day of your life? That’s what makes you unique. Sure it is imperfect and subject to errors of insertion, editing, and deletion. This stochasticity makes it even more individualized. Two people with the same history, genome, and personality type will still not be identical.

    Note I don’t mean to suggest that personality is some fixed thing based on genetics — obviously there are cultural and epigenetic factors in personality fixation.

  715. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 11:14 am

    Shakespeare didn’t mean protest in the way we use the word today. He meant protest meaning “to make a solemn affirmation” not to object.

    Common misconception about Shakespeare.

  716. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 11:20 am

    Cozy,

    I find it fascinating that you were able to do a “simple” search of the comment threads, read and find all the pertinant comments about hardnose etc. , and compose your reply,

    IN 17 MINUTES

    Could it be that you didn’t’ need to do a search because your two “identities” have exactly the same “memories”?

    Also, re: “protest” I was referring to your own solemn affirmation that you were not really “cozying”.

    Two semesters on Shakespeare, “A’s” both times.

  717. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 11:21 am

    edamame,

    Again you are not seeing the coup de grace. Look at the example of schizophrenia, identity is not literally their episodic memory.

    So your theories if taken literally mean that someone with schizophrenia either has no identity, or their identity is literally someone who talks to go and can see the future. There is no other choice, either your theory says that person is mistaken or has no identity.

    You can’t actually say they have no identity, because they have tons of what you say identity is: memories.

    So which is it? What better explains the identity of a patient with schizophrenia, memory or external clinical observations?

    This isn’t just an exception. Personality and many other variables that people are not aware of, have a profound impact on their identity. Much more profound than their episodic memories.

  718. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 11:28 am

    Steve Cross,

    Regarding 17 minutes all-caps childish gotcha-claim: actually this started when I started here. I was compared to an NRA activist, Michael Egnor among other things. So yes I did a simple search of some of the big treads and I found the people in question.

    It’s sad how you spent so much time advancing a theory that cozy was hardnose. It’s a tactic that you use. People you hate are people everyone else dislikes, in disguise.

  719. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 11:32 am

    Cozy,

    So what did you do? Create a database of each different commenter’s specific transgressions?

    Or did you pay special attention to me because of the many times I called you out for strawmanning, etc.?

  720. edamameon 16 May 2017 at 12:04 pm

    “What better explains the identity of a patient with schizophrenia, memory or external clinical observations?”

    This is a false dichotomy, but I think I understand your point.

    If you have a major disorder, that will become weighted more as part of your identity. If you have multiple sclerosis, or cancer, or whatever, this is also part of your identity. Note this is inexplicably tied up with memory: you build up memories of living with and treating the disease. Being a cancer survivor is part of someone’s identity because of the accretion of memories after living with it, experiencing people’s reactions to it, and building up expectations and knowledge.

    That said, if someone has a profound personality disorder, it will become weighted more as part of who they are, just like someone with cancer or MS (partly via memory, and partly because it is an aspect of their basic temperament and how they navigate the world). It isn’t as if memories are unimportant in fixing the identity of someone with schizophrenia. Schizophrenics make up about 1% of the population (probably ~50 million people). It is their personal histories and memories, what language they speak, what skills they have (hang-gliding, mathematician) that make them unique, all sculpted over a lifetime of learning. They aren’t identical to their disease, even though it is a big part of who they are (just like someone with MS or cancer).

    Some awesome commenter above wrote the following, and I will agree and bow out of this discussion for the day because I am at work:

    At any rate, these debates about which is more important than what are sort of moot. Different axes exist, they are all important. The thread is too long.

  721. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Steve Cross,

    I’ve been a fan of Steven Novella’s work and activism for a while. I’ve listened to the SGU from pretty early on. I’ve been reading this blog for years, but largely stayed out of the comments.

    I’ve posted random one-off comments here and there under different names, just to clarify things and expand on points I thought were awesome. I was inspired to write more by Atlantean Idol’s misogyny and a few comments by Sarah and other people. I found it shocking that no one called him on his support of really messed up things. You aren’t bad people, you just don’t really care about feminism as much as other things. Which is totally fine, This blog isn’t about feminism.

    I noticed this is just a giant sausage party and felt like it could use more of a female perspective. If I was these other people I’m accused of being I would just log into their account and claim independence.

    There are only a few threads here with hundreds of comments. They are pretty easy to spot and search through. You notice some things if you do this, Egnor has been repeating the same arguments almost word for word, in every appearance. Chikoppi has remarkable patience and skill, sucks that he didn’t comment on our discussion of identity. Hardnose, and Ian Wardell chime in with little attacks and then largely don’t interact with anyone etc.

    I was really shocked that the westworld thread, at peak interest of the tv show, only had a few comments. What a great starting point for discussing consciousness.

    The Santa Myth article and comments were actually discussed on the SGU, so I read them at the time and I didn’t initially recognize any usernames, except gorilla who was mentioned on the show, but I did remember that it was something that was hotly debated and there were a lot of personal attacks. I do remember “identity” being intensely challenged over in that thread too.

    From the Santa Myth thread:

    [Steve Cross] cozying:
    Or should I just call you hardnose? Even if you are not just a sock puppet, you certainly share the same traits. You are intellectually dishonest and your standard operating procedure is to simply ignore the facts and misrepresent what others have said. And then blatantly project your own transgressions onto others.
    —-
    Or is it possible that you don’t like arguing with yourself?
    Not saying it proves you are a sockpuppet, but you aren’t doing a very good job of convincing us otherwise.

    [Steve12] Egnor = HN = cozying.
    Cozying is a long time reader of this blog who never commented and then suddenly began commenting furiously with the knowledge of who we all are, he sometimes uses the same idiosyncratic quoting method of Egnor / HN, and he employs all the same rhetorical BS that they employ (selective replying, straw man)

    And I’m not even getting into the burden issue, which you thoroughly botched and dodged, seemingly willfully (which is people think you ARE HN)…. I almost forgot your very, very hurt butt Michael. Say hi to Teddy for me.

    [SteveA] I have to say, I’d be shocked to the extreme if cozy turned out to be a sock puppet of HN. I mean, would you really want someone like that supporting you?

    This is just a small sample, there are many other examples. So which is it? Am I Egnor, hardnose or Cozy? Or all three?

    As is evident from a pattern of behavior stretching back months labeling people you disagree with, as other people you don’t like is clearly a tactic employed by the trolls of this website.
    —-

    My secret-alter-ego-persona-identity, doesn’t matter as much as what I said here in this thread. The discussion was not about how little episodic memory explains identity. It was about if “identity is memory.”

    Identity is much more than just someone’s episodic memories, in fact their identity is better explained by other things.

  722. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Sophie,

    So in my simple search of comment threads I did notice that you also spent many comments explaining to everyone how this other person you didn’t like was just a persona for hardnose. You dedicated many many comments to it.
    You have a pattern of abusive behavior stretching back all those months. People who disagree with you are clearly just other personas for people you hate.

    I said I was trying to be respectful and charitable to your current persona, so I’m just going to call this “misrepresentation” instead of “lying by omission”.

    You can search the threads for years and you will not find any other instances of me accusing someone else of sock-puppetry. I (and several others) did indeed wonder openly if “cozy” was really “hardnose” — but that is the only instance you will find. And you have to admit, your strong defense of hardnose was incredibly suspicious.

    Of course, you already know that is the only instance, yet you still had to try to “inflate” the supposed evidence against me by including quotes from entirely different people. Unless you were implying that the other “Steves” were “my” sockpuppets, in which case — Pot meet Kettle.

    And simply taking you to task for blatantly misrepresenting other peoples positions is not abuse, regardless of how many times it has occurred. It is simply the price you pay for your continual intellectual dishonesty.

    Perhaps I’m one of the most vocal and persistent complainers, but many others have said (and continue to say) the exact same thing. Smoke, fire, etc.

    I don’t “hate” you and I’ve tried very hard to treat “Sophie” fairly, and I’ve made several comments on how I admire your persistence in dealing with ME and IW.

    But when you engage in all of “cozying’s” obnoxious behavior then you can expect exactly the same treatment from me and others. Misrepresenting other people’s words and derailing entire threads until everyone admits that “Sophie was right all along” is just a waste of everyone’s time and gets tedious and frustrating.

    I would much rather deal with “Sophie” who is smart and well read, and can be very interesting. So please try to prove to us that the old “cozying” memories are not the “identity” of the new Sophie.

  723. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Cross,

    What are you talking about? One instance? There are posts by many people concluding that other accounts are sock puppets. Ian is hardnose. Hardnose is Egnor. Cozy is both hardnose and Egnor. And now me. I am apparently everyone.

    These can be found in various threads, almost every thread I’ve been in has a mention of it. Either I am secretly someone else, or someone else is secretly another person.

    The Santa Myth thread has many more examples of other people openly speculating into the true identity of many of the posters.

    I have never defended Egnor. You are confusing me with someone else, I’ve spent days arguing with him and done my own research like when I analyzed video evidence of his behavior. I’ve openly speculated on the nature of his rich mental life, but if you mean I think he is intelligent and that’s the defense I gave, I would say that’s misleading. Egnor is a talented pediatric neurosurgeon, I would trust him to operate on my child’s brain. That doesn’t mean I’m supporting his thoughts on religious philosophy.

  724. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Sophie,

    So in my simple search of comment threads I did notice that you also spent many comments explaining to everyone how this other person you didn’t like was just a persona for hardnose. You dedicated many many comments to it.
    You have a pattern of abusive behavior stretching back all those months. People who disagree with you are clearly just other personas for people you hate.

    Yet another one of your too numerous to count straw men.

    I think it is pretty clear that you were implying that this is something I do all of the time. Even if that was not your intent, in my response to you, it is beyond doubt that I was defending myself only. I never even suggested or implied that no one else had ever done it.

    Yet you created an obviously false straw man of my actual words, just so you could pretend that I was wrong,

    This is one of your standard techniques. And it is extremely well known. Many people notice and object. I’ll even stipulate that you may not even recognize when you do it.

    I’m sure that you don’t believe me, but put it to the test. Use your awesome search skills and count the number of times that you’ve been accused of misrepresentation. You don’t even have to include the times I’ve said it. Now compare that number to literally anyone else (well, legitimate skeptics only, not Egnor, hardnose, et al.) See what I mean? You have an extremely bad habit and didn’t even know it.

    You are also prone to projecting your own prejudices onto others. I’m sure that when you decided to become “Sophie”, it was because you were certain that the only reason everyone wouldn’t acknowledge “cozying’s” brilliance was that everyone had a grudge against you.

    Well, it wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. There is no doubt that you are intelligent and well read and can be a good debater.

    But you hold grudges forever. More often than not, the source of that grudge is just because someone disagrees with you. Or perhaps because they call you out on some logical error. And then you get mad and double down, get rude, condescending and insulting.

    Like I said, analyze the situation logically. You seem to be completely unaware that you are doing anything wrong. Yet Sophie and cozying seem to get accused of misbehavior far more often than anyone else. And the exact same kinds of misbehavior.

    You’ve tried it twice now with the same results. Don’t you think it is about time that the “logical” part of you finally realizes that if many different people keep telling you the same thing that they might have a point?

  725. bachfiendon 16 May 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I think we ought to drop this argument immediately. It’s not achieving anything.

    BillyJoe has stated that he made his ‘memory is identity’ comment in order to flush out the dualists, which became immediately derailed.

    It’s a good point.

    There were at least 3 episodes dealing with identity in ‘Star Trek’ dealing with malfunctions in the transporter, resulting in two copies of characters.

    Scenario 1. A copy is made which is identical to the original. Which is the true one? What is the identity of the other one?

    Scenario 2. The copy is defective in some way. It’s evil, whereas the original is good. Which is the true one?

    Scenario 3. The copy is identical to the original, but then they live completely separate lives for years. One stays on a planet and has completely different experiences to the other one who continues in the Starship Enterprise rising to high rank, and then they met again many years later.

    Of course the scenarios are completely artificial and aren’t likely to ever arise. Transporters not only being currently impossible are almost certainly never likely to be possible.

    But my feeling is that in scenario (1) the two copies have the same identity – they’re identical because their material is identical down to atom to atom level. There’s no immaterial component of identity which hasn’t been transported.

    In scenario (2), the two iterations have different identities. They’re not identical. One has an evil personality and the other has a good personality. It would even extend to cases in which the copy has episodic memories deleted such as the person’s wedding, but the difference would be so negligible that it hardly makes a difference. They would have the same identity to all practical purposes, and if necessary a ‘false’ memory of the wedding could be implanted in the copy if considered necessary, by watching videos of the wedding and examining photos of the wedding. Whether it’s a false memory when it’s of an actual event and whether people’s memories of past events come from true episodic memory or reexamining records of the event later are other questions.

    In scenario (3) the two have different identities, but it’s not just due to differences in memories owing to different experiences in the intervening years. Living on a planet would produce different physical changes in a person compared to one living on a Starship, including in the brain. Again, there’s no immaterial component to identity which is unchanged by time. You would distinguish between the two iterations by asking each what they did in the previous few years and it will then be obvious which is which. But they’ll be different in other ways too.

    Personally, I wouldn’t get into a transporter because of scenario (3). Which copy of me gets my superannuation? And my other property?

  726. BillyJoe7on 16 May 2017 at 5:27 pm

    bachfiend,

    There is a fail proof transporter that accurately scans you, then vapourises you, and then duplicates you. The original is gone leaving only the duplicate. Would you get into the transporter? Do you believe that getting into the transporter is suicide? Or are you happy that it’s you going into the transporter and you coming out of the transporter?

  727. BillyJoe7on 16 May 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Sophie,

    As soon as you acknowledge your error in confusing continual and continuous and your error in saying a detailed and vivid memory is also necessarily an accurate memory, I will consider responding to your schizophrenia example.

  728. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Steve Cross,

    You used the exact same logic, in the Santa myth thread to suggest that Cozy was in fact a sock puppet for hardnose.

    Accusations are not evidence. Do you have any evidence that Egnor = hardose or Cozy = hardnose? I seem to recall you basically dropping that argument by the end of the Santa thread. You appear to have got less certain in your theory as time went on. I ask you now: Am I Cozy? Is Cozy actually hardnose?

    You claimed that because there was a great deal of controversy and essentially everyone was allied against hardnose, Egnor and Cozy. That the problem must be with them. This presupposes that everyone else is correct and is a united front. You did this here as well, when you took bachfiend’s arguments against your position as support. He even had to comment on how you misinterpreted him as supporting “identity is memory.”

    You create this false narrative in your head where it’s you and your friends vs everyone else. Bachfiend did not support the ideas proposed by BJ7. He attacked the defenses others gave to the original idea. This isn’t open to be challenged. There is an objective fact here. Bachfiend opposed the idea that “identity is memory,” he even described it as simplistic reasoning, just like how he described your “memories equal atoms” argument as simplistic.

    Let’s say hypothetically, you were tasked with analyzing this thread, and you were asked to explain bachfiend’s position. If you concluded that he supports the position advanced multiple times by a commenter named Steve Cross, you would be wrong. He does not agree that identity is memory, he doesn’t agree with your defense of it. He agreed with the transporter problem that’s about it. He did mention that identity is best explained by things other than episodic memory.

    The fact that you think a small amount of opinions by commenter equals objective reality. Is just an appeal to social consensus. You didn’t even have a real consensus to work with, so you manufactured one, representing bachfiend as supporting your “identity is memory,” position. Leaving me all alone in the wilderness, an easy target to be ridiculed and humiliated.
    —-

    Identity is still not best explained by episodic memory. Many other theories have much better insights to provide into understanding the nature of identity.

    Schizophrenia is best explained by things other than the individual’s episodic memory. Their own memories cannot be trusted to provide an accurate account of who they are. We do not say the have no identity, or that their identity is best explained by their memories. A coherent theory of human identity must explain illnesses like schizophrenia not just the normal state of affairs.

    A detailed personality assessment explains so much more about a person’s identity than their episodic memories. Even healthy people have self serving episodic memories that do not reflect the reality of their identity. You can think you are chosen by God and still be wrong, or that you possess a great singing voice and be tone deaf. A person who thinks they are talented, who has episodic memories that inform their belief, does not automatically have skill. Your identity as a skilled performer is not derived from memory. We say people are talented, this is a statement about who they are – their identity. Like the example Bach gave of the violinist. To find the true world class one we would test their skill, not their episodic memory.

    Finally, unlike ideas advanced by some on gazelle identity, there is very good reasons to assume identity is not unique to humans and has a much older evolutionary history. Having a clear sense of who they are in relation to their surrounds is critical to the survival of many mammals.

  729. Pete Aon 16 May 2017 at 6:06 pm

    QUOTE
    “Argument Clinic” is a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman. The sketch was originally broadcast as part of the television series and has subsequently been performed live by the group. It relies heavily on wordplay and dialogue, and has been used as an example of how language works..

    Video of the original sketch:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_Clinic
    END of QUOTE

  730. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Billy Joe,

    de·tailed
    dəˈtāld,ˈdēˌtāld/
    adjective
    having many details or facts; showing attention to detail.

    de·tail
    dəˈtāl,ˈdētāl/
    noun
    1.
    an individual feature, fact, or item.

    The definition of detailed implies a reflection of reality, it implies facts.

    If a police officer goes over the “details” of an investigation, they are referencing objective facts.

    If you say your memory of an event is graphic and detailed you are making reference to the objective facts of your memory.

    If a painting of a fictional fantasy landscape is “detailed” then we are saying it is appealing to realism, and that it’s not pixelated or possesses other flaws.

    At the very least you cannot blame someone for assuming that by “detailed” memory you were talking about accuracy and facts.

    Also you ignoring the part where your whole discussion about your graphic memory was used to justify what edamame said about bachfiend having a mental disorder. A disorder characterized by not having a mind’s eye. A disorder that doesn’t actually exist in any textbook I’ve ever studied.

  731. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Episodic memories that are not accurate (by human standards), but nevertheless are highly “detailed” and “graphic” are not memories at all, they are imagination and fantasy.

  732. Pete Aon 16 May 2017 at 6:57 pm

    “Episodic memories that are not accurate (by human standards) …”

    (by forensic science standards) …

  733. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Sure.

    The idea is that memory means something specific. It doesn’t mean fantasy and imagination. It means a storing of semi accurate information for survival reasons.

  734. bachfiendon 16 May 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Billy Joe,

    I still wouldn’t get into a transporter. Nothing is 100% foolproof.

    But if it was, it wouldn’t worry me if for a fraction of a second I was dead. And then I’m recreated in a different location from different matter. There’s no immaterial component to my identity that has failed to be scanned and transported. My new ‘me’ might be composed of entirely different atoms, but provided they are of the same element and atomic weight) it would make no difference.

    I just had a thought. Suppose the operators of the transporter systematically changed all the isotopes? All my H1 atoms become H2, all my O16 atoms O18 and C12 atoms C13? I wouldn’t be the same ‘me’. I’d weigh much more. And I also would be suddenly and horribly dead.

    I can imagine that there are scenarios in which a vital enzyme in a vital cell could be rendered ineffective if by chance a heavier isotope is swapped into the copy, which could kill the duplicate despite it being so vanishling identical to the original.

    It’s another reason why a transporter is impossible.

    Concerning ‘continual’ and ‘continuous’. One of the synonyms of ‘continual’ is ‘continuous’ (at least according to one dictionary I consulted. A stream of memories is continuous if there are no gaps. If there are gaps, one memory stops and then a little later another memory starts then it’s discontinuous. And in both cases they’re ‘continual’.

    Or am I wrong? I’m open to argument.

    BTW. I’m going to change my moniker. I haven’t decided whether in future whether I’ll be Waldorf or Statler. I’m inclined to Statler, since he’s the handsome one.

  735. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Bachfiend,

    “Or am I wrong? I’m open to argument.”

    You aren’t wrong. Also in my response to BJ7, I used both continual and continuous. I quoted him saying that identity is a continual string of memories. It’s hard to imagine by “continual string” he meant “starting and stopping” People like to appeal to the ambiguous nature of the words they use when they want to escape criticism, instead of just admitting it lacked clarity or was a mistake.

    Maybe I’ll take the other moniker you don’t choose 😉

    Or I’ll go back to my hardnose handle.

  736. Pete Aon 16 May 2017 at 8:12 pm

    bachfiend,

    How about “contiguous” [adjective]: next or together in sequence. “Contiguous” caters for such things as lapses in our “continuous” conscious memory while we are asleep, we are unconscious, and during our attentional blinks, etc.

    You wrote “… It’s another reason why a transporter is impossible.” A device that has an intrinsic error rate of zero, is indeed, theoretically impossible. But, how would you feel about getting into a transporter device that has a scientifically-confirmed intrinsic error rate which is orders of magnitude below that of the error rate of your natural DNA cell-devision copying machinery?

  737. Steve Crosson 16 May 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Sophie,

    Do you have any evidence that Egnor = hardose or Cozy = hardnose? I seem to recall you basically dropping that argument by the end of the Santa thread. You appear to have got less certain in your theory as time went on

    I find it absolutely fascinating that you “seem to recall” fairly specific details from a six month old thread in which you claim that you did not participate.

    Nevermind, I’m sure that it was because of all the “research” you did reading old threads because you just happened to be concerned that someone in the future would accuse you of being a sock puppet.

    Please don’t spend a lot of time trying to think up “reasons” that you and cozy are not the same “identity”. It’s not like anyone expects “I’m always right” Sophie/Cozy to ever admit mistake.

    As I said, I doubt that you’ve fooled any of the regular readers who have seen both personas in action. Obviously, most of them don’t care. I wouldn’t either if your old grudges didn’t keep coming up.

    Don’t forget, it is your knee-jerk antipathy towards BillyJoe7 which started the current controversy — and has kept it going for hundreds of redundant comments.

    When CKava chimed in with a few comments supporting the “wrong” side, then you were even more infuriated.

    And even though I had been completely respectful to the Sophie persona (at least up until that point), you managed to be completely rude and insulting about every comment I made.

    Very odd that cozying had a very tempestuous relationship with the above 3 people, yet Sophie really doesn’t have any good reason to dislike them so intensely.

  738. Sophieon 16 May 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Cross,

    I told you, the Santa Myth article on this blog was specifically mentioned on the SGU. So were some of the comments, Cara even mentioned the comment by Gorilla. As I was listening I loaded up the page and then I read it like on my break or a day later. There are also only a few threads hundreds of comments long.

  739. bachfiendon 16 May 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Peter,

    Contiguous wouldn’t be a good term. It implies location not time. ‘Non-contiguous’ states of the United States.

    Would I trust my life to a highly hypothetical transporter if it has an extremely low error rate? It depends on the cost-benefit ratio. Not if the benefit is very low, as in ‘Flying High 2’ when the transporter was being used to transport a person from one room to the next in the moon base.

    Would I trust my life to a technology I have no possible way of understanding? And how would the transporter work? I imagine it would have to work by transporting you through hidden higher dimensions of space, either as single separate atoms which are then reassembled at your target location, or as a complete ‘you’.

    If you’re going to have magical technology, I’d want the second possibility, in which case all problems of identity and error rates disappear. You either get to your target location unchanged or you die (ignoring the ‘Harry Potter’ possibility that a limb or two might be left behind). It also seems much simpler technically. The first possibility would seem to me to be like modern aviation being based on reducing their passengers to single atoms, transporting them in the planes and then reassembling the passengers at the destination. Which mightn’t be too far from the truth – I’m flying from Perth to Munich in 17 days and dreading it, even though I’m flying business class.

  740. bachfiendon 16 May 2017 at 10:40 pm

    I often remember old threads and sometimes go back to them. I’m fascinated to reread my old comments to see how much my opinions have changed or not over the years. I would like to think that I’m absolutely consistent in my opinions and that if I had completely rational reasons for my opinion back then, then I’ve got completely rational reasons now.

    But I don’t. It’s very useful being reminded of it from time to time.

  741. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 4:12 am

    Bachfiend,

    I’m fascinated to reread my old comments to see how much my opinions have changed or not over the years.

    I feel that as well. When I go and look at my past comments as hardnose, cozy and michaelegnor, it’s almost like I’m looking at various different identities. 😛

  742. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2017 at 7:54 am

    Sophie,

    “The definition of detailed implies a reflection of reality, it implies facts”

    Nope.

    “If you say your memory of an event is graphic and detailed you are making reference to the objective facts of your memory”

    Nope.

    “At the very least you cannot blame someone for assuming that by “detailed” memory you were talking about accuracy and facts”

    Not if they read it in context.

    The context was that edamame bought up the word “aphantasia” referring to an attribute of people who don’t remember or read in pictures. I revealed my son doesn’t get pictures in his head when he reads a book. Edamame then said that he gets quite good pictures in his head when he recalls past events. And I responded that I get detailed pictures in my head when I recall my Sunday morning mountain-trail run. In other words, we were discussing pictures in the head versus no pictures in the head and how good those pictures could be. This had nothing to do with memories being accurate.

    In any case, I could have forgiven you for “assuming” what you assumed, but I won’t forgive you for doubling and tripling and quadrupling down once I informed you that this is not what I meant. We weren’t talking about the accuracy of memories but about people who have pictures in their head when the remember things and those who don’t. All I was saying is that, like edamame, the pictures I get in my head are pretty detailed. You surely have to agree that you can have a detailed picture in your head without it being a depiction of reality. Some people only see black and white pictures in their head and some dream in black and white. Others dream in colour and relive memories in colour. Some just see an amorphous nondescript track while others see the track littered with leaves and twigs, with the trail rising and falling, twisting and turning. That’s the sort of detail I see. I might go back now and discover that the trail is rather flat and boring and perhaps it was just the endorphins exaggerating my experience. My memory of the trail could actually be more detailed than the actual track I remembered!

    “in my response to BJ7, I used both continual and continuous”

    You used “continual” only when you quoted me probably by copy and pasting what I said. You only used the word “continuous” when you used your own words in response.
    There is a clear difference in meaning between these two words:

    https://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/continual-continuous/

    The words continual and continuous are like twins: they both come from continue, but they get mad if you get them confused. Continual means start and stop, while continuous means never-ending.

    Continual things come and go, like arguments or rain. If your parents’ continual arguing drives you crazy, just be glad they stop sometimes! With continual rain, you’ll get some sunny breaks, as Ireland’s forecasters like to say.

    Continuous, on the other hand, is nonstop. With continuous rain, you’ll never see the sun. A flight or a wire can be continuous:
    – Jongeward and Woodhouse ended up breaking the record for continuous flight. They stayed in the air for 1,124 hours.
    – A telegraphic signal would go more than seven times around the earth in one second if it travelled on one continuous wire.

    Continual is chronic, like a cough that comes and goes, or a teenager’s sporadic fights with The Man. Continuous is like a circle, or a nightmare carousel that never ever stops. Neither one is the evil twin; they’re both moody.

    “I quoted him saying that identity is a continual string of memories. It’s hard to imagine by “continual string” he meant “starting and stopping””

    Nope. It just a lack of imagination on your part.
    The picture I had in my head was a string of beads (string of beads -> string of memories)
    You could simply have asked me what I meant.

    “People like to appeal to the ambiguous nature of the words they use when they want to escape criticism, instead of just admitting it lacked clarity or was a mistake”

    Some people can’t seem to ask for clarification.
    Some people can’t accept the clarification when given.
    Some people like to speculate about the motives of others.
    Some people like to pass their speculations off as truth.

    Some people just can’t stand being wrong and having to apologise for it.

  743. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2017 at 8:06 am

    bachfiend,

    “I still wouldn’t get into a transporter. Nothing is 100% foolproof”

    I’m a bit disappointed.
    You know what a “thought experiment” is don’t you?
    It obtuse to complain that it is not possible to get 100% accuracy.

    “But if it was, it wouldn’t worry me if for a fraction of a second I was dead. And then I’m recreated in a different location from different matter. There’s no immaterial component to my identity that has failed to be scanned and transported. My new ‘me’ might be composed of entirely different atoms, but provided they are of the same element and atomic weight, it would make no difference”

    Well, at least we agree on something in this thread.
    I’m pretty sure Sophie would agree as well.

    “It’s another reason why a transporter is impossible”

    It’s irrelevant that it is impossible.
    It’s a thought experiment!

    “Concerning ‘continual’ and ‘continuous’. One of the synonyms of ‘continual’ is ‘continuous’ (at least according to one dictionary I consulted. A stream of memories is continuous if there are no gaps. If there are gaps, one memory stops and then a little later another memory starts then it’s discontinuous. And in both cases they’re ‘continual’.”

    Nuts.
    See previous post.

  744. Pete Aon 17 May 2017 at 11:11 am

    bachfiend,

    You’re correct that “contiguous” wouldn’t be a good term. I’m guessing the reason I suggested it is because I’ve used it incorrectly in the past.

    I wouldn’t trust a hypothetical transporter device because a hypothesis is not a scientifically confirmed theory! I asked you: “But, how would you feel about getting into a transporter device that has a scientifically-confirmed intrinsic error rate which is orders of magnitude below that of the error rate of your natural DNA cell-devision copying machinery?” [my emphasis]

    Of course thought experiments are, by definition, intrinsically hypothetical. But, as BillyJoe7 said: “You know what a ‘thought experiment’ is don’t you?”.

  745. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 11:18 am

    Sophie,

    The thing is, both sides are essentially correct because they are approaching the question from different perspectives.

    I think that pretty much everyone has already agreed that identity is significantly, even primarily determined (“best explained” if you prefer) by all of the factors you’ve mentioned. Obviously a gazelle’s sense of identity (whatever it may be) is bound to always be dramatically different than a human’s regardless of any conceivable change in “memories”. The same will be true for people with different colored skin, etc. Their sense of identity will always be constrained by heredity and a few changed “memories” here or there may not have any noticeable effect or perhaps any effect at all on how the person perceives their “identity. Again, I don’t think anyone here seriously disputes that although you refuse to recognize it.

    I realize that there has been a fair amount of discussion about autobiographical memories, etc. and how much, if any, effect individual memories have on identity. I’ve never advanced a strong opinion on that topic because (as I admitted) I’m not really qualified to have one. I do think that there is probably some effect, but how much is really not germain to my overall views, or (I strongly suspect) what anyone is really referring to when they advance the memory=identity hypothesis.

    I also don’t think that any regular readers would regard memories as discrete, quantifiable, precisely defined objects. In other words, not something that could be individually manipulated anyway. I doubt that “individual” memories even exist other than as abstract models that we use to try to understand the functioning of the brain.

    I think that most people are of the opinion that for “me to still be me”, then “my memory” is a pretty important part of that equation. But, I think what they really mean is “my current memory” at the point in time of the transporter event (instantiation, whatever). In other words, the sum total (or more precisely, the integration) of their memories to date.

    Expressed that way, and nicely illustrated by the transporter scenario, even bachfiend has agreed that memory=identity is almost a tautology in that specific situation. That does not mean that anyone is dismissing the role of personality or anything else in how that memory/identity got to its current form in the thought experiment.

    Everyone has agreed more times than I can count that all of the factors you have mentioned play a significant, perhaps primary, role in determining “identity”. So congratulations, you’re right, you’re absolutely right. No denies that.

    Even BillyJoe7 as I understand his position, has never claimed that we actually have a continuous (or continual, doesn’t matter) sequence of memories. He seems to believe (as do I) that the events of our life and the sequence in which they occurred will inevitably have some effect (however small) on the current state of our memories (and thus our “identity at that point in time) when viewed as the complete system. Obviously all the caveats apply. Memory is nowhere near perfect or even particularly reliable. We forget and confabulate memories. But even so, it seems very likely that the events of our life will have some influence on which memories are formed and retained, and which are most significant. In turn, those memories will probably impact our identity, however slightly.

    Now, there is an interesting discussion to be had (and some people are actually having it) about how much influence memory has, and which types of memories. Maybe it is infinitesimal as bachfiend has suggested, or maybe not. But it is bound to be interesting and informative.

    But you have denied yourself the opportunity to even participate meaningfully because you refuse to recognize what the other side is saying or try to understand their viewpoint. You see, even though everyone has already agreed that Sophie is right, Sophie can’t recognize that fact because she is never satisfied until all of her perceived enemies are also wrong.

    And that is the problem. You do yourself a huge disservice by refusing to let go of the past. Especially since many of your grudges were precipitated by almost trivial disagreements which then escalated into acrimony because you perceive all disagreement as persecution. FYI, although there are many, this is Sophie/cozying’s biggest telltale characteristic.

    Like I said, I don’t hate you, although you do manage to get me pretty annoyed on occasion. Like I told you last time, I’m a crusty old curmudgeon, but I see you making a lot of the mistakes I did in my younger days (and probably still do although I’d like to believe I work harder at avoiding them). For starters, we both seem to have a very hard time “letting go” 😉 . I know I’m “diplomacy challenged” but this really is intended as sincere, good advice.

    Also, remember the “doth protest too much” thing. Last time, the more you protested, the more people suspected you were hardnose. Admittedly, somewhat different situations because you really weren’t hardnose. Even so, the same principle does apply.

  746. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 11:32 am

    Anyone who thinks we wasted hundreds of comments, check out the following.

    BJ7 has continuously proposed that he is misinterpreted. I will examine as objectively and fairly his recent comments and see if this is this idea has merit.

    First some light defining of some terms heavily important to this current insanity. Sincerest apologies, but it is has to be done due to the general level of obvious intellectual dishonesty and poor use of language by some of the parties involved. You can skip this and simply refer back to these if you don’t believe me:

    Memory is the faculty of the mind by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.
    —–
    mem·o·ry ˈmem(ə)rē/ noun
    1. the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information.
—–
    in·for·ma·tion ˌinfərˈmāSH(ə)n noun 1. facts provided or learned about something or someone. 2. what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things.
    —–
im·ag·i·na·tion iˌmajəˈnāSH(ə)n noun 1. the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.
    —-
    graphic [graf-ik] adjective Also graph·i·cal. 1. giving a clear and effective picture; vivid:
—-
    de·tailed dəˈtāld,ˈdēˌtāld/ adjective
having many details or facts; showing attention to detail.
    —-
    de·tail dəˈtāl,ˈdētāl/ noun 1. an individual feature, fact, or item.

    What started this recent “misinterpretation?” BJ7 said the following when talking about how identity is episodic memory, also while defending edamame’s ad hominem about how Bachfiend clearly must have a mental illness (aphantasia is not medically valid nor science-based), because he can’t see the wonder of the simplistic narrative “identity is memory”:

    [on graphic vs accurate]
    In case you still don’t get it, I said my recall was detailed and graphic not that it was accurate.
    The words “detailed” and “graphic” appear in my account to describe my recall, not the word “accurate”.
    Quote me describing my recall as “accurate” or apologise.
    —-
    [what he actually wrote about his own memory]
    Some things I can remember in great detail.
    I went for a mountain-trail run this morning and can recall it in graphic visual detail now. I can run myself through large sections of it. In my mind’s eye I can see the top of that rise with a single person track through a grassy flat surface surrounded by tall trees disappearing in the mist on all sides; the slightly cool breeze, the smell of dew on grass mixed with the earthy scents from the trail itself, and the sounds of cockatoos in the distance.

    Some things are just definitions. For example, memory is not imagination. Memory refers to the human ability to store information. Information is usually facts about the external world. Human survival, the evolution of entire species, was (is) highly dependent on the semi-accurate recall of information about the world. After a kill, if a wolf forgets where it’s temporary home is, it cannot return to its cubs, those cubs will die.

    Imagination refers to a process that might use memory but specifically it is about forming new ideas and visualizing things we did not experience.

    If you claim that you can remember an event in great detail you are talking about the memory. In other words usually the recalled information and facts about the external world like trees, trails and the sound birds make. If you are specifically referring to visual memory, then once again, you are discussing the factual nature of the events.

    It’s really not up for a discussion, just look at the meaning of the words. Memory is not fantasy or imagination, there is a reason we have specific words for these different things. Advocating for ambiguous definitions is a horrible idea.

    Of course memory isn’t photographic and comes with many systematic errors and flaws. But that doesn’t make it not “memory.” A crude representation of past events is still a memory.

    If a photograph of my dog is highly detailed and graphic in nature, then what we are saying is that the photograph (a representation for human perception, of wavelengths of light coming off my dog) accurately, effectively and realistically depicts my dog. The photograph is not out of focus, or highly pixelated. In this sense the details are describing the nature of the photograph.

    If an imagined scenario is highly detailed, then the fictional scenario that never occurred, is being mentally depicted with great ‘detail.’ Here the details are referring to the nature of the imagination and not facts.

    If I claim that my memory of event can be recalled in “great detail,” then what I am saying is: my mentally stored information about an event, is detailed. Here the details are referring to the nature of memory.

    Memory is itself information about actual events, it is not the same as imagination, a more detailed memory would be like adding more resolution to the photograph of my dog.

    If you add more details to a fictional scenario then you are not making claims about accuracy or realism, but you are just adding more elements to the story.

    If you are discussing memory recall, details mean more information and facts about reality, and therefore in this situation “details” imply “accuracy.”

  747. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 11:47 am

    I’d like to go on record as saying that “continual” as BillyJoe7 just clarified is exactly the definition I’ve always been using mentally when thinking about this thought experiment. I didn’t mean to muddy the waters by my response to Sophie above when I flippantly equated continuous and continual. I was just taking bachfiend at his word and I was too lazy to look it up.

    For the record, since I’ve never seen a shred of evidence to indicate otherwise, I believe we are just ‘meat robots’. Our physical identity is necessarily dependent on the current state of our ‘meat computer’. And that state is necessarily the end result of a continual string of events. Throughout our lifetime, those events undoubtedly vary widely in character, frequency, duration and significance. But the specific type and sequence of those events are what determine the current state of the brain. It certainly does not imply that any individual event is still retained in the brain in any recognizable fashion — but its influence might be.

    This I believe is pretty much what BJ7 is referring to when he reference a sequence of memories. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  748. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 11:54 am

    Sophie,

    ” I will examine as objectively and fairly”

    So, I’m guessing you take Fox News at face value when they say “Fair and Balanced”.

  749. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Sophie,

    Also, this nitpicky focus on your own interpretation of definitions just so you can “prove” that a perceived enemy is wrong, is another utterly unmistakeable hallmark of the cozying persona.

  750. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Cross,

    Look, putting aside your, 3 comments in 13min, what I said about details implying accuracy, when it comes “detailed memory” is completely true. It’s right in the definitions of the words. This constant pestering with one liners and multiple pointless comments is 13 min, is just a desperate attempt to stay relevant, and push my comment further away from the end of the thread. You want me to be buried in the obscurity of the giant wall of text. You know if people read what I wrote it makes perfect sense. You must, its super clearly written.

    I didn’t start this fight about “details” not meaning “accuracy,” BJ7 did. He screamed about being misinterpreted for the 50th or so time. Anyone who challenges him, is just not able to read apparently.

    Here you go I’ll spell it out for you:
    (1) Details are facts, bits of information or features. That’s what the word means.
    (2) When you are talking about details of memory recall, it means details of your memory specifically.
    (3) memory is not imagination. It’s a representation of facts, details, features, stuff about the world around you. Yes it’s flawed, but it still has some utility precisely because it represents reality — not imagination.
    (4) When you are talking about your memory recall, and you say you can remember something in “great detail” and that it is “graphic,” you are talking about memory not imagination.
    (5) therefore details imply accuracy in this situation. Yes not when it comes to, but this isn’t about that.

    Therefore BJ7 is wrong when he won’t shut up for days about how I don’t know the difference between details and accuracy. He is the one that doesn’t know what the words mean. This isn’t subjective interpretation, I challenge anyone to debate what I wrote on this. There is an objective truth here.

    The continual/continuous debate is so funny. No one realized that BJ7 straight up lied to you all, in his own writing which can be found by searching ” continuation ”
    You can clearly see he used the words “continual” and “continuation” basically interchangeably.

    Continuation means: the action of carrying something on over al period of time
    Continual means: frequently recurring.

    He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about when it comes to these specific words.

    About continual/continuous this is pointless. And like Bachfiend said, one is a synonym for the other, they are very close in meaning regardless, can be used to mean almost the same thing, especially in casual use. So at most BJ7 is arguing about a slight personal preference or abstract vocabulary rule that no one really cares about. It’s like when people freak out over “whom,”— actually I would rank that of much higher importance than this bs.

    A consistent pattern is that BJ7 stomps a bunch of mud through the living room, and then has to work his ass to explain how it’s all good, he had to bring mud into the house, it was urgent. He can’t clean it up right now, he’s too busy, he can’t just admit me made a slight mistake either.

  751. Pete Aon 17 May 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Sophie,

    If a photograph of my dog is highly detailed and graphic in nature, then what we are saying is that the photograph (a representation for human perception, of wavelengths of light coming off my dog) accurately, effectively and realistically depicts my dog. The photograph is not out of focus, or highly pixelated. In this sense the details are describing the nature of the photograph.

    Memory is itself information about actual events, it is not the same as imagination, a more detailed memory would be like adding more resolution to the photograph of my dog.

    That is a terrible example because it flies in the face of: optical physics (including quantum mechanics); information theory; and other branches of science! What on earth do you mean by the terms “highly detailed” and “resolution”? I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

    The only mechanism by which optical resolution can be increased is by increasing the aperture [the entrance pupil diameter] of the lens. However, increasing the aperture reduces the depth of field. Therefore, there is a trade-off between the level of detail at, and only at, the infinitely-thin plane of focus; and the overall detail of your dog because it is very far from being infinitely thin/long.

    E.g., a ‘highly-detailed’ picture of its eyes will have little detail in its nose, and most of the dog will be a fuzzy blur. Conversely, a much less detailed picture of its eyes will render a much greater overall resolution of your dog.

    “The photograph is not out of focus …”. Every part of 3-D object space that is not coincident with the infinitely-thin plane of focus is, by definition, out of focus!

    The above is highly relevant to the psychology of human perception because it relates to our: focus of attention; locus of attention; frame of reference when a memory was ‘stored’; different frames of reference each and every time that memory is ‘recalled’.

    I can drastically change the viewers’ perception of the level of detail and resolution in my photographs, without actually changing their objective resolution. Furthermore, I can easily reduce perceived pixelation and increase perceived resolution by using oversampling combined with various filtering techniques, such as deconvolution. In other words, I can drastically manipulate the subjective parameters of a photograph without changing any of its original objective parameters.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m pointing out that dictionary definitions of words are next to useless, often worse than useless, in technical discussions. This is why each field of science and mathematics has precise definitions for its terminology. Unfortunately, the English language and its variants cause a great deal of confusion, frequently leading to unnecessary polarization, even to the extent of ongoing hostility and grudges.

  752. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Sophie,

    One of the things that seems to upset you the most is when you are called out on mistakes or bad arguments. Think how much less often this would happen if you weren’t always grasping at straws because you are obsessed with trying to prove that your perceived enemies are always wrong.

    I mean, seriously? Detailed = accurate. Which, even if it was true has no real significance to the main question. And don’t forget, it was you who originally misspoke by claiming that BJ7 claimed his memories were “accurate”. You were the person who doubled down when you were caught out.

    What do you expect is going to happen when you imply that a person is a liar or a fool? All because your perception is so twisted with rage that you automatically infer the worst possible interpretation of someone’s meaning. Of course the “victim” of your misrepresentation is likely to push back.

    Before you post such silly things, you might consider running it by an impartial judge. At least 99 out of 100 people are going to think you’re crazy for choosing that hill to die on. As you, yourself have pointed out, words often have multiple meanings which change with the context.

    I have vivid dreams that seem pretty damn detailed. Some even scare the crap out of me. Does that mean I think they’re real or accurate? I also have very detailed memories of some events in my childhood. Some are even pretty accurate according to my parents, even though I know that memories are very fallible.

    I even have “detailed” construction plans for my house, although they haven’t been accurate for years.

    Your embarrassment is 100% self-inflicted. You manufactured a controversy where no reasonable person would think that one existed. Just exactly like the “shocked vs. surprised” argument you created because you couldn’t admit that other people’s opinions might be just as legitimate as your own.

  753. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Pete, I’ve continually referred to this as The Argument by Dictionary Definition.

    Steve, I couldn’t have said it better myself, and how dare you push Sophie’s comment off the bottom of the comments section 😀

    Sophie, apologise for your errors, and stop erroneously imagining what people’s motives are.

  754. RickKon 17 May 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Had a few minutes and thought this might be an interesting. This is the number of comments by commenter in this discussion. I think this is about right (as of a couple hours ago). Sorry about imperfect alignment. Wonder what equivalent might look like for a full year of Neurologica, or full history.

    Sophie 215
    michaelegnor 89
    Steve Cross 59
    mumadadd 45
    bachfiend 44
    BillyJoe7 40
    Pete A 38
    edamame 37
    Sarah 30
    CKava 21
    Ian Wardell 19
    chikoppi 17
    Steven Novella 13
    edwardBe 10
    MosBen 10
    praktik 9
    RickK 8
    Robney 7
    trumpproctor 7
    Jason 6
    Lightnotheat 5
    GHL 4
    Charon 3
    SteveA 3
    Lobsterbash 2
    TheGorilla 2
    BBBlue 1
    BenE 1
    LittleBoyBrew 1
    MWSletten 1
    NotAMarsupial 1
    Xplodyncow 1

  755. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Pete,

    Yes when you take everything literally and appy a quantum perspective to everything people say it looks quite ridiculous indeed.

    What I meant by detailed is what the word means in the dictionary. I provided the definition.

    I’m not talking about physics im talking about human perception. A photograph is a thing people look at in the macro world. It is made of pixels. If you add more pixels and make them smaller and smaller you get higher and higher resolution.

    You can google resolution and learn what the word means when it comes to photography. I don’t even know where to start with what you wrote.

    Cross,

    Go read what I wrote. It’s obvious you did not. Yes when you are talking about the details of memory. You are talking about facts. Memory is information about past events. If your “internal representation of information about events” is detailed — then it has more facts, is more accurate than a memory that is less detailed.

    BJ7,

    You used continuation and continual interchangeably in your own argument. It’s you that doesn’t actually understand the meaning of words. You only argue and nit pick words when it suits you.

    Detailed does not equal accurate in every situation. But if you say “detailed memory,” or “I can recall in great detail,” you are talking about memory not imagination.

    A detailed list has more items or elements than a poorly detailed one. In the same way, a detailed memory has more factual information about things. Or else is not memory, it imagination an error or confabulation. This is why we have different words for things.

  756. Pete Aon 17 May 2017 at 4:19 pm

    RickK,

    “Wonder what equivalent might look like for a full year of Neurologica, or full history.”

    There is a reason for some commentators deciding to change their pseudonym.

  757. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah there’s a reason I stopped writing in this thread as Egnor. Didn’t want it to look suspicious.

  758. Pete Aon 17 May 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Sophie,

    I’m not talking about physics im talking about human perception. A photograph is a thing people look at in the macro world. It is made of pixels. If you add more pixels and make them smaller and smaller you get higher and higher resolution.

    Abject BS! You have made it abundantly clear in that statement that you do not understand optical physics, quantum mechanics, wave propagation and diffraction — the latter is taught in high school physics.

  759. bachfiendon 17 May 2017 at 4:34 pm

    This is my final comment, and then I’m dropping out. Promise. I’ve wasted too much time already.

    I thought I thought of a good analogy to explain ‘identity’ the other day. It’s like a cappuchino coffee. Memory is the froth at the top of the cup. It’s what identifies the cup as containing the cappuchino coffee. It’s the most accessible part to everyone including the coffee’s owner, but it’s only a mall part of it. The rest is more important, but not as accessible.

    But then I realised that it was a very bad analogy. The last cappuchino I had was in a Beijing hotel. It cost $8. Not only was it the most expensive coffee I’ve ever had but it was at least 60% froth. Two small sips and it was gone.

    Great froth though.

    This thread has gone the same way. The froth has come to dominate everything. And become too expensive wasting too much of my time.

  760. edamameon 17 May 2017 at 4:36 pm

    A. On continuous/continual and whether it is important:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kc143SgLQY

    B. RickK ugh the OCD list it is embarrassing to be near the top.

  761. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2017 at 5:30 pm

    bachfiend,

    “I thought I thought of a good analogy to explain ‘identity’ the other day. It’s like a cappuccino coffee. Memory is the froth at the top of the cup. It’s what identifies the cup as containing the cappuchino coffee. It’s the most accessible part to everyone including the coffee’s owner, but it’s only a mall part of it. The rest is more important, but not as accessible”

    That’s a brilliant analogy.
    It succinctly captures the meaning of identity as approached from both sides of this discussion.

  762. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Pete A,

    I think you are way in your own head on this one. There is nothing technically incorrect with my statement about the photograph of a dog, I’m not talking about quantum mechanics.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_resolution

    The resolution of digital cameras can be described in many different ways.
    Pixel resolution
    Resolution is the capability of the sensor to observe or measure the smallest object clearly with distinct boundaries. There is a difference between the resolution and a pixel. A pixel is actually a unit of the digital image. Resolution depends upon the size of the pixel. Usually, with any given lens setting, the smaller the size of the pixel, the higher the resolution will be and the clearer the object in the image will be. Images having smaller pixel sizes might consist of more pixels. The number of pixels correlates to the amount of information within the image.

    If you add more and more pixels and make them smaller you add more information. Usually in casual terminology this equates to a higher resolution like an old camera vs a new one, but technically things are not so simple.

    When I said that if you add more pixels to the dog photo I wasn’t speaking about technical specifics of the camera technology or QM. But just that there is more detail to a final photo of the dog. This also has nothing to do with quantum mechanics so you are way off base with that. It’s just your pet gripe or you are trolling.

    Quantum mechanics does not have much to do with a human looking at one photo that’s all pixelated, low resolution taken with an old camera, and another photo that’s crisp, highly detailed, has so many more pixels and a higher resolution. One photo has more “details” than the other. That’s all I was saying. Add more pixels, add more details. Just like how a detailed memory is more representative of reality. Or else it’s not a memory but imagination or confabulation. A “greatly detailed and visually graphic memory” is one that is more accurate. Again errors aside, memory means factual information or it would not have utility. In the same way, a detailed photo can have way more pixels and be of a higher resolution then a poorly taken photo.

  763. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 5:44 pm

    BJ7,

    Lol, Bachfiend’s analogy is brilliant? He just depicted memory as fluffy nonsense that’s not the core component of the issue. You are so wrong to the point where you think that supports what you argued for 6 days?!

    Identity is not memory. If you just have the fluffy foam, you don’t have much of anything. But if you get the coffee you still have something. It’s still a hot beverage enjoyed by millions everyday. The foam is a minor addition, people don’t order cups of foam at Starbucks. The foam makes no sense without the coffee. The coffee is still coffee without foam.

    Identity is still identity, without episodic memory.

    You would be foolish to describe that hot drink as being foam. It’s coffee.

    Therefore by admitting Bachfiend’s analogy is brilliant you just showed yourself to have argued an admittedly incorrect position for a week! Hahaha

  764. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Sophie,

    Keep going, you should reach China by midday.

    “You used continuation and continual interchangeably in your own argument”

    Do you really want to say that I can’t continue to do things on a continual basis?
    Is that how far you’ve dug yourself in?
    I have run continually for the past twelve months – every morning for an hour and three hours on Sunday morning – and I’m going to continue to do this for the next twelve months.

    “A detailed list has more items or elements than a poorly detailed one”

    Correct.

    “a detailed memory has more factual information about things”

    Nope. It’s just has more items in it.
    My memory of my mountain-track run is less detailed (less items in it) now than it was last Sunday afternoon (more items in it).

  765. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 5:47 pm

    I won. Thanks for admitting defeat by acknowledging the brilliance of Bachfiend’s analogy.

    By your own admission, episodic memory is a small element of what makes identity. Identity is still identity without episodic memory, but episodic memory alone is nothing. It’s like a cup of full foam at Starbucks, identity is best described by the coffee.

    Ahhh victory.

  766. BillyJoe7on 17 May 2017 at 5:55 pm

    …and your last comment demonstrates just how much you’ve misunderstood of this discussion.

    The analogy was brilliant.
    Memory IS foamy. BUT MEMORY is the most ACCESSIBLE part of IDENTITY, most of the rest of which is NOT ACCESSIBLE.

  767. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Conclusion and victory,

    [BJ7] bachfiend,
    “I thought I thought of a good analogy to explain ‘identity’ the other day. It’s like a cappuccino coffee. Memory is the froth at the top of the cup. It’s what identifies the cup as containing the cappuchino coffee. It’s the most accessible part to everyone including the coffee’s owner, but it’s only a mall part of it. The rest is more important, but not as accessible”
    That’s a brilliant analogy.
It succinctly captures the meaning of identity as approached from both sides of this discussion.

    This is a self-admission that identity is not memory. If you were going to sit down and describe the contents of that cup as “foam,” for 6 days everyone in the restaurant would laugh at you, probably call the psych ward. Coffee is the core component and most essential element in that cup.

    You and your gaggle argued the opposite for almost a week. You kept insisting that I didn’t know what I was talking about at that other things were not relevant to defining identity. Meanwhile now you admit it’s just some fluffy foam on top, not a core component, and doesn’t adequately explain what identity is all on its own.

    If the foam is episodic memory then the bulk of Identity is best explained by things that are not episodic memory. It’s best explained by the rest of the contents in the cup.

    In the analogy, if you remove the foam you still have almost a full cup of coffee in most non-overpriced fancy hotel cases. It’s still something delicious enjoyed by millions everyday. In fact foam is just a minor addition, that makes no sense in a cup all on its own. No one goes to a Starbucks and orders a cup of foam.

    All the other things that are not episodic memory = the coffee in the cup. Just like the coffee, it forms the base of the drink and has a rich and complex history. Just like identity, yes gazelles have a type of self-identity, they just have to, you can’t conclude that they have a type of consciousness but not some kind of self-identity, the two are mutually exclusive, consciousness comes with some basic type of self identity built in. Personality is also in the cup, along with all other types of memories and non declarative functions of the human mind.

    Identity is not memory. Memory is just the foam on top of the vast majority of things that explain identity.

    Thanks for the win. 🙂

  768. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 6:13 pm

    “The analogy was brilliant.
    Memory IS foamy. BUT MEMORY is the most ACCESSIBLE part of IDENTITY, most of the rest of which is NOT ACCESSIBLE.”

    You mad?

    Accessibility was not what we were discussing. We were discussing the nature of identity, not how accessible certain elements of it was. You said multiple times identity is memory and that we are a continual string of memories. You made no mention of “I just want to talk about the accessibility of certain parts of identity” you spoke in firm absolutes and dismissed everything I said about how so many others things explain identity much better than episodic memory.

    The earth’s orbit is not best explained by the fact that it tugs on the sun. It’s best explained by many other things that are not that.

    The contents of a cup of cappuccino are best explained by things other than foam. No one orders just the foam. The foam is an addition to a strong base that has a rich history. Just like identity and it’s evolutionary roots. In the present moment the foam (should) represents only a small part of the contents of the cup. It’s not the point of the drink. The point of the cup is a hot beverage called coffee.

  769. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 6:14 pm

    The only thing that could make this victory more sweeter was if I finally revealed that I’m Bachfiend too. I’m also hardnose Ian Cozy and Egnor.

  770. Pete Aon 17 May 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Sophie,

    I’m not talking about physics im [sic] talking about human perception. A photograph is a thing people look at in the macro world. It is made of pixels. If you add more pixels and make them smaller and smaller you get higher and higher resolution.

    You, and only you, own the burden of proof for your statement. You can attempt to weasel out of your statement for as long as you wish. Each time you weasel out, I shall take you to task whenever I wish to do so.

    That which can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. — Hitchens’s razor.

    Please provide scientific evidence of your assertion that “If you add more pixels and make them smaller and smaller you get higher and higher resolution.”

  771. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 6:27 pm

    I’m not gonna debate the technical meaning of resolution. It’s not significant to the story. The point is not what exactly creates resolution, but rather that adding more and more pixels adds more information it adds details to the photograph. The point I was expressing is that memory is like that photo analogy, more details mean more info….

    wait nah I’m out. I won. Bachfiend is gone. All that’s left is a bunch of trolls who think it’s okay to claim that your opponent in a discussion has a mental illness. Literally none of you called edamame on that and some supported him.

    Funny thing is not only is it an ad hominem, but aphantasia isn’t even a real disorder. That right there nicely encapsulates this entire discussion.

    Even your fallacious personal attacks are based on totally non-existent illnesses!

  772. Pete Aon 17 May 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Sophie,

    Please provide scientific evidence of your assertion that “If you add more pixels and make them smaller and smaller you get higher and higher resolution.”

  773. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Sophie,

    I’m going to make a prediction. You clearly are not into self-reflection at the present time, but some time in the future, you are going to look back on the actions of your youthful self and be utterly humiliated.

    It used to really piss me off when my dad seemed to be able to literally read my mind and tell me exactly what I was thinking and what my motivations were. He would just laugh and say that he’d already been young and understood exactly what it was like. I would always disagree with him and I would insist that I was different and more mature, etc. He would just laugh harder and insist that I would understand when I got closer to his age.

    Something very much like that conversation has probably happened billions of times between parents and their children. With very, very rare exceptions, the child will eventually have an “aha” moment and realize that their under appreciated parent was right all along. No need to respond. I already know that “you” are the exception and are fully mature, etc. Every single child ever born says exactly the same thing. I just ask that you remember this little anecdote for future reference.

    It’s obvious you are smart as hell, but sooner or latter you’re going to realize that you are not always going to be the smartest kid in the room. And even when you are, you’re still going to occasionally misspeak, say something ridiculous, or even perhaps be “wrong” about something. Until you learn to deal with those situations gracefully, you are always going to endure a lot of unnecessary, self-inflicted humiliation, embarrassment, and pain.

    I sometimes wonder if you are one of those kids who graduated from college at some ridiculous age like 12 or 13. That would explain a lot. Even if you aren’t, that seems to be about the level of emotional maturity that you display.

    Victory laps … seriously ????? Especially when the victory is entirely self-proclaimed. I think even some 12 year olds would know better than to stoop to that level of obnoxiousness. BTW, this is yet another example in the long list of trademarked “cozying” behaviors.

    I hope you notice that bachfiend has behaved infinitely more gracefully. He clearly believes his own opinion is correct just as strongly as you do, but he manages to be polite and respectful to those who disagree with him.

    You complain that everyone is persecuting you, but honestly, if another kid on the school yard acted like you regularly do, wouldn’t you be pissed off?

    I know you won’t believe me, but I’d be willing to bet a lot more money than I can really afford, that you will eventually realize that every one of the motivations and insecurities that I’ve ascribed to you are exactly correct.

    Anyhow, this will be my final word for as long as I can possibly control myself. Eventually I’m sure that my susceptibility to SIWOTI syndrome will overcome my self-control. Perhaps by that time, you’ll mature a little bit and I won’t feel compelled.

  774. Steve Crosson 17 May 2017 at 8:02 pm

    RickK,

    Thanks for the stats. I knew that Sophie/cozying really pushed my buttons, but I didn’t realize it was that bad.

    Apologies to everyone.

  775. edamameon 17 May 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Not a fan of the cappuccino analogy. Maybe a colloidal suspension. But then again the foam in a good cup goes all the way down you just can’t see it when using naked eye. So there ya go.

    Sophie people who don’t use imagery aren’t impaired they are typically high functioning and analytical. Lots of philosophers are aphantasmic. Use your one source of knowledge. Wikipedia

  776. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Edamame,

    “Lots of philosophers are aphantasmic. Use your one source of knowledge. Wikipedia”

    lol Wikipedia says it’s not a real illness. Also my expertise, every textbook I’ve ever read, there are no serious studies…. It’s a proposed named for a hypothetical non studied thing. Your link was to a Facebook post. Seriously? The wikipage shows the the current pop interest started with an essay on Facebook. The only other big mentions online are Russia today and stuff. Real legit sources here.

    Even if it was real, what business is it of you yours to accuse Bachfiend of having it?

    He didn’t like your identity = memory stuff because it’s simplistic to the point of being wrong. I also didn’t like it, do I also have this unconfirmed, possibly fake illness?

    Oh no it’s because I’m all those other accounts. Bachfiend disagrees because he has a possibly fictional mental illness. I disagree because I’m hardnose and I secretly hate everyone and have been haunting this website for years.

    Or maybe I just have some logical issues with the fact that in my clinical experience with patients, their episodic memory gives me no definitive hints as to who they are. Their “identity” is best explained by many other measures and things. Even healthy peoples’ identity is best explained by so many other things.

    Identity has old evolutionary origins. It’s not unique to humans.

    Also please provide a list of all the philosophers who have this hypothetical condition?

  777. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Additionally, anyone who champions Francis Galton’s ideas about psychology has not read the relevant history.

  778. edamameon 17 May 2017 at 10:58 pm

    >in my clinical experience with patients, their episodic memory gives me no definitive hints as to who they are.

    I’m not sure which aspect of that sentence is the most disturbing.

  779. Sophieon 17 May 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Steve Cross,

    I’m going to make a prediction. You clearly are not into self-reflection at the present time, but some time in the future, you are going to look back on the actions of your youthful self and be utterly humiliated.

    I also liked hearing about your daddy. I wonder what he would think of:

    [Steve Cross, in Santa Myth thread early December]
    cozying:
    Or should I just call you hardnose? Even if you are not just a sock puppet, you certainly share the same traits. You are intellectually dishonest and your standard operating procedure is to simply ignore the facts and misrepresent what others have said. And then blatantly project your own transgressions onto others.
    —/
    [cozying denies being hardnose many times, to which you continually reply about how he is actually hardnose like the following]
    Uh huh … sure, I guess all that makes perfect sense.
    Or, it might if you had bothered, even once, to directly reply to hardnose and refute his arguments. You know, to show us how a Real Skeptic does it…. You use exactly the same dishonest argumentative techniques that he does…Or is it possible that you don’t like arguing with yourself? Not saying it proves you are a sockpuppet, but you aren’t doing a very good job of convincing us otherwise.
    [other people buy into your theories about Cozy being hardnose]
    —-/
    Fast forward from December to May 2017:
    [Steve Cross to Sophie]:
    Also, this nitpicky focus on your own interpretation of definitions just so you can “prove” that a perceived enemy is wrong, is another utterly unmistakeable hallmark of the cozying persona.
    —/
    Especially since many of your grudges were precipitated by almost trivial disagreements which then escalated into acrimony because you perceive all disagreement as persecution. FYI, although there are many, this is Sophie/cozying’s biggest telltale characteristic.

    [sophie denies being cozy, asked you for evidence you won’t drop it and say more and more]

    Very odd that cozying had a very tempestuous relationship with the above 3 people, yet Sophie really doesn’t have any good reason to dislike them so intensely.

    [this point is factually inaccurate, Sophie praised ckava in the Jesus comment threads multiple times, even here she said he had great skill in that area, Sophie also agreed with billy on many points in other threads even earlier here if I recall correctly]

    I wonder what daddy would say about you using the exact same flawed logic months later to conclude that another commenter was actually just a long time troll of this website.

    Hmmm. Are “traits, characteristics, and techniques,” how we can certainly identity people?

    Obviously you didn’t read this:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/free-speech-bias/#comment-315921

    This is what the kids call defeat.

  780. edamameon 17 May 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Sophia, unlike you I don’t get my information from Facebook. I posted that because it is really well written. Please stop projecting your shaky research technique on others.

    For those that are interested in aphantasia (people with lack of internal imagery), this is a new term, so would throw off someone like Sophia who does all her research on Wikipedia (that’s why I sent her on that goose chase). The term was introduced in this paper in the journal Cortex (not Facebook):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26115582

    However, as is usually the case, research on this goes way way back, but under a different term: the study of individual differences in imagery. For instance:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20521213
    As Sophia learned at Wikipedia, Galton first reported on such cases almost 140 years ago:
    Galton, F. (1880) ‘Statistics of Mental Imagery’. Mind 5: 301–318.
    Contrary to what Sophia wrote, this doesn’t invalidate the discovery. Rather, that would be a classic Sophia Smokescreen hiding the fact that indeed, once again, she had no idea what she was talking about. Because she only reads the Facebook article I posted. LOL

    For a review of such individual differences in mental imagery, and how this has influenced philosophical thinking about the mind, see the excellent article ‘Lack of Imagination: Individual Differences in Mental Imagery and the Significance of Consciousness’.

    Hint: Dennett is very low on internal imagery (see his ‘Two approaches to mental images’). What a shocker. This is extremely common among philosophers, for some reason, and probably explains why they have ridiculous debates about whether people really have mental images. The only people that would argue about that is the people who don’t have them.

    Incidentally I brought up aphantasia with bachfiend because he was describing episodic memory in verbal terms, not the usual imagery that people do. I still think that could explain some of the differences here. My deeper disagreement was with the view that episodic memory retrieval is largely confabulation, as I discussed here:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/free-speech-bias/#comment-314505

    My hunch is he didn’t balk at me and say I was an asshole because I didn’t bring it up in a disrespectful way, and because he seems to relate to it. He is obviously hyper-verbal and hyper-analytical. I brought it up in a respectful way, not to be a prick. These are real differences that are important to acknowledge.

  781. cozyingon 17 May 2017 at 11:52 pm

    ~800 comments?
    tl;dr

  782. edamameon 17 May 2017 at 11:53 pm

    “These are real differences that are important to acknowledge”–referring to individual differences in extent of use of mental imagery. This has already received a lot of study, but it is going to blow up in the near future.

  783. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 12:03 am

    Ashanti, errr aphantasia, autocorrect…

    Stop telling me what I did or did not read. I did look it up. I read the entire (tiny) Wikipedia entry, I clicked through and checked out the links. It’s not a currently known condition. Acting like it is without evidence is idiotic.

    You also failed to provide the list of philosophers who have this unconfirmed, possibly illegitimate condition.

    As of right now this condition is not a science-based thing. You might as well conclude that Bachfiend has greyscale, and diagnose him over some comments in a thread online. That makes as much sense.

    Galton was talented at math, but when it came to psychology and things he was a pretty horrible human being. His work is rooted in racism and pre-scientific ideas. Pick up any good book on the history of psychology. Maybe start here:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_race_and_intelligence_controversy

  784. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 12:08 am

    Edamame,

    “…unlike you I don’t get my information from Facebook. I posted that because it is really well written. Please stop projecting your shaky research technique on others.”

    Also this childish reflection of everything I say is getting old. You posted the link to a Facebook article talking about this unconfirmed condition, not I. It’s you that links to Facebook as a reference for fake illnesses. And then claims “a lot of philosophers” have this made up disease. Please show me which philosophers have this condition. Now.

  785. CKavaon 18 May 2017 at 12:18 am

    @Steve Cross

    I don’t think it’s necessary that Sophie be young just because of her argument style. It would be nice to think that the self-aggrandizing and constant need to proclaim ‘victory’ are just a characteristic of immaturity but that’s not always the case. There are many people who are fully mature adults and behave the exact same way as Sophie does. I mean look at the president of the US, he’s 70 and as far as I can tell thinks he’s never made a mistake and has the same habit of periodically declaring himself the ‘winner’. I also suspect you post will now be endlessly referenced to demonstrate how you are unnecessarily personal, condescending, and dismiss Sophie as some ‘little girl’. Despite her equally problematic references to your ‘daddy’… provocations and context are irrelevant to Sophie- we’ve been down this road before.

    @Sophie

    I don’t think it likely that bachfiend has aphantasia but it wasn’t presented, nor did it appear to be taken by bachfiend, as an insult. Remember that concern trolling you mentioned earlier?

    BillyJoe7 interpreted bachfiend’s analogy differently than you. Bachfiend clearly intended it as something of an olive branch, even though in my reading (and yours) he is still presenting his (and your) position as ultimately correct. (I don’t agree with the analogy, surprise!, but don’t see anything to be gained by arguing about it anymore.) Yet despite sharing your interpretation, it’s also easy to understand that BillyJoe7 is operating under a different interpretation because of the explanation he provided. Whether his interpretation is more or less valid is irrelevant, the fact remains he is clearly agreeing with his interpretation! Replacing his interpretation with your preferred one and assuming he actually endorsed that is completely meaningless – aside from giving you the ability to self declare yourself the ‘winner’. No one is the winner in this thread, its dragged on endlessly and become needlessly personal. It ceased to be productive 100s of posts back. On that assessment I completely agree with bachfiend.

    At this point, I again strongly recommend anyone genuinely interested to consult the relevant literature on identity and memory and see how well supported the various positions that have been advanced in the thread are. Sophie, I guess you agree with this too, right? You have repeatedly claimed that research demonstrates autobiographical memories- both semantic and episodic- (e.g. personal experiences of warfare, becoming a parent, etc.) are hardly predictive of anything important related to self-identity, when compared to measures of ‘innate’ personality traits. If you are right, even a skim of recent good quality research/reviews should demonstrate that. My reading of the literature leads me to believe that anyone who bothers to look will quickly arrive at the opposite conclusion: that autobiographic memories are strongly related to self-identity but, at this stage, it seems pointless to endlessly reiterate these divergent positions. The positions have already been clearly stated and evidently no-one’s opinion is going to change.

    @The Thread

    The only thing that could make this victory more sweeter was if I finally revealed that I’m Bachfiend too. I’m also hardnose Ian Cozy and Egnor… I disagree because I’m hardnose and I secretly hate everyone and have been haunting this website for years.

    Online Identities: a Guide for the Perplexed
    Michael Egnor = Michael Egnor
    hardnose = hardnose
    Ian Wardell = Ian Wardell
    Sophie = cozying*

    *Personal estimate: About 99% certainty.

    As far as I have noticed, Sophie hasn’t actually been accused of being Egnor or Ian Wardell or an NRA activist or hardnose, people have just highlighted parallels with their argument styles. Her constant suggestion otherwise seems intended to suggest that people are linking her to a whole host of other identities, when they aren’t. I also don’t think it’s accurate to refer to Sophie as a ‘sock puppet’, since she isn’t (yet) being used to voice support for cozying. She just changed her username without mentioning and avoided the topic when it was initially raised, which I think is fair enough. How anonymous people want to remain online is their own business.

    The problematic part really only came when she started to strongly deny the connection and suggest that anyone noticing it was guilty of using the accusations as a tactic to silence their opponent/being paranoid and ridiculous. On those charges, I can’t speak for others, but I don’t think I’ve ever accused another commentator on here of being another user. Indeed, I disagreed with the people who previously accused cozying of being a hardnose sock puppet. And I still don’t care nor do I have any objection to cozying becoming Sophie. I do however object to any demand that requires all other commentators (on a skeptical blog!) ignore their critical thinking and indulge someone else’s chosen pretence. The similarities are too glaring, if Sophie is really not cozying then aside from oweing her an apology I think everyone has just identified two long lost twins, ironically supporting her view that ‘innate’ personality traits determine everything of note in a person’s life.

    wait nah I’m out. I won… This is what the kids call defeat.

    “… the most important thing is you were right all along”.

    Also, no way you are out, not if you haven’t had the last word.

  786. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 12:31 am

    Ckava,

    “…people have just highlighted parallels with their argument styles.”

    Please see:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/free-speech-bias/#comment-316805

    Months ago, Steve Cross specifically “highlighted parallels” between Cozy and hardnose he used that to build an argument that one was a sock puppet for the other. What’s the difference now? That you also bought into this false narrative?

  787. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 12:33 am

    People we don’t like, must be other people everyone else hates. Trolls that have lived under the bridge that is this blog just make new accounts. Has to be that. Can’t be that people just disagree with you.

  788. CKavaon 18 May 2017 at 1:22 am

    Sophie,

    Yes people did declare cozying to be a hardnose sockpuppet, I acknowledged that (and said it was wrong) in my post. I was referring to the fact that you, Sophie- who you state is nothing to do with cozying- have not been repeatedly accused of being a hardnose/Egnor/Ian Wardell/NRA advocate sock puppet.

    And for the second time, I don’t hate you or cozying. I don’t think anyone else here hates you or cozying either, though I won’t presume to speak for everyone else. You might have annoyed some folks, but disagreement is part and parcel of commenting on blogs/message boards.

    For me, I just disagree with you on certain issues and find your debating style and tendency to take any significant disagreement extremely personally problematic, that’s all.

  789. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 1:22 am

    Ckava,

    Also please show us the math with which you arrived at a 99% confidence level. Or is that just more hyperbole?

    You started calling me Cozy in the thread… um not sure. I think it was when I said that the independent was not a good source for high quality science journalism, and therefore not a good target for professional skeptics. You countered with a link to the dailymail, a paper so bad Wikipedia doesn’t even allow it for references…. Then you spent days trying to justify how your argument made any kind of sense.

    As things got worse you claimed you were getting deja by and then that I was Cozy, which I didn’t know who that was at the time.

    You then started stalking me into the thread on Alex Jones which you previously were not involved with me in. You kept butting into a convo I was having with Daedalus to interject very flawed and naive concepts. You claimed as a non-American that it as so obvious all we have to do is get rid of guns — an opinion so hopelessly naive in the era of trump that it could have only been spoken by someone with no knowledge of current American policy. The republicans even reversed the Obama decision that would have prevented people with serious diagnosed mental illnesses from getting guns.

    Things are making more sense. I understand your hostile behavior. If I knew this at the time I wouldn’t have praised your work in the Jesus comments. You are weird.

    Also it’s just you and Steve Cross that believe this nonsense. Bachfiend made no mention.

  790. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 1:33 am

    Ckava,

    I love being accused by random strangers online that I’m taking things too personally. Especially when if you read almost any lengthy comment by Steve Cross you will see allcaps rants, many personal attacks and offensive comments. He psychoanalyzes me with his armchair Freudian techniques. The ones where he tells me how I’m too emotional are my favorite because he’s totally unaware of the irony. You couldn’t write this stuff if you were intentionally trying to be funny, but someone truth is always stranger than fiction.

  791. CKavaon 18 May 2017 at 3:07 am

    @Sophie

    Also please show us the math with which you arrived at a 99% confidence level. Or is that just more hyperbole?

    lol… I took the level of certainty I had arrived at due to all the various parallels in posting style/displayed personality quirks between you and cozying and your coincidental timing to start/stop posting and that took me to 100%, then I subtracted 0.5% for the possibility that all of that was created by a bizarre quirk of the universe and then another 0.5% for the possibility that you are long lost twins with the same innate personalities. On reflection, I’ll subtract another 4% due to the principle of charity. So ok, please note I revise my estimate to 95% 😉

    BTW Sophie I always enjoy those potted summaries of your past interactions! They provide remarkable insights into your parallel world of perception, where everyone who disagrees with you hates and stalks you, and they only ever present the most terrible flimsy arguments, devoid of all logic. It’s no wonder you are always right and extremely defensive when you inhabit such a world- it’s just a shame the rest of us don’t live there.

  792. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 4:06 am

    Ckava,

    Lol. Look how identical we sound. All of us. (1) You claim I say people who attack me are biased and present bad arguments. (2) Steve Cross says I’m motivated by being someone else, that I disagree with him because I’m faking or native or young or emotional and very illogical (3) I believe you got lost in your hate of me and forgot about the identity discussion. (4) edamame says all the same things plus that Bachfiend must have an unconfirmed possibly fictional mental illness.

    We all have awesome expansions for why we all disagree with each other. They all sound very similar. We have all argued at one time or another that we are misinterpreted, that others use illogical attacks. It’s not just me. Claiming it’s just me like you did is naive.

  793. CKavaon 18 May 2017 at 4:29 am

    If you say so.

    My illogical mind can’t help but notice that almost invariably when a comment thread reaches 100s of posts long and has spiralled into endless, ill-spirited sniping and personal arguments there are certain regularities. A few months back it was the presence of cozying, now… who can say.

    I do agree with you however that everyone on here is guilty of being biased to their own perspective/employing bad arguments but there are clear differences in degree. Take for instance, the perception that people who strongly disagree with you are your enemies and hate you. Do you think everyone here in the thread equally shares that perception?

    And on the identity discussion, I’m done for all the reasons I’ve outlined above. Didn’t you say you were out too? I recommend people use the literature to judge which perspective in the thread is correct.

  794. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2017 at 8:27 am

    Sophie,

    I don’t hate anyone. And that includes cozy and you. Cozy did once say I hated her, but she was wrong and I told her so. I think hate harms the hater much more than it harms the person they hate. I’ve seen it eat people up. They get depressed. They can’t eat. They can’t sleep. And their relationships break up.

    I had good reason to hate someone in my past who, by his deliberate actions, destroyed many relationships including some of mine. But I didn’t spend the rest of my life hating him because that would just be another victory for him. Instead he just became irrelevant to me. I decided to simply move on.

    A few years ago we had to meet to sort out a legal issue. It honestly didn’t bother me one bit, though others expected it to. Unfortunately, he still bore ill-will towards me and spread rumours. He stretched out what should have been over in a couple of months into a couple of years. I still don’t hate the guy. He has just become irrelevant to me again. I decided that I was not going to add another single day to those two wasted years.

    I’m not sure why I’ve related this to you. I guess I’m hoping the hatred you feel people have towards you is not projection on your part. Or maybe you’ve been hurt by someone’s hatred of you. If so, perhaps have another think about how you deal with that. And I say this knowing I’ll probably get a backlash from you. If so, fire away, and I’ll meet you afresh in another thread.

  795. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 8:45 am

    CKava,

    Great point about Trump. Although more than a little scary. I guess I’ve always assumed that her behavior would be similar to my kids and the many others that I’ve observed over the years. They hate advice or criticism, especially when it hits close to home. They always push back, but it eventually sinks in as they start to mature.

    Obviously, Trump is the exception, and now that you mention it, does share a lot of the same cognitive blind spots with Sophie/cozying. She and he both seem utterly convinced that the truth is whatever they say it is at any given point in time — regardless of whether they’ve said the opposite in the past.

    I love how she is insisting that detailed memories are accurate “by definition”, yet earlier in this same thread, she said exactly the opposite. One of her first “proofs” that memories couldn’t have any significant effect on identity was that recalled memories are constructed and fallible. A point that bachfiend (her chosen expert) has made, and which she has repeated many times. And most criminologists think that eyewitness testimony is among the least reliable forms of evidence — regardless of how many “details” it contains.

    Yet, here she is saying:

    Go read what I wrote. It’s obvious you did not. Yes when you are talking about the details of memory. You are talking about facts. Memory is information about past events. If your “internal representation of information about events” is detailed — then it has more facts, is more accurate than a memory that is less detailed.

    which she will insist is true just as long as she want’s it to be, until she needs something else to be “true”.

    Who knows? With that much talent at “mental flexibility”, perhaps Sophie/cozying will be the first female president some day. Isn’t that a scary thought?

    That’s assuming that the American public learns nothing from the current disaster in progress. Which is a real possibility, considering that the electoral college map is screwed up enough to “elect” Trump in the first place. And I agree with cozying, it was pretty “shocking”, although my wife wasn’t even “surprised” because she formed her opinion based purely on the comments from her local (red state) knitting group.

    I look forward to her inevitable comment about how I was going to hold off for a while, yet I “clearly lied”.

    Whatever you say cozy. I’m “allowed” to talk about you, even if I don’t particularly feel like wasting my time talking to you.

  796. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 10:58 am

    Steve Cross,

    The quote you used of mine is out of context, I even shortly before and after that explicitly mentioned that memory has errors.

    The point I was making there was that “memory” the word itself, describes a process of recording/ storing / recalling information about the world. So when you say a memory is more detailed than another you are saying it has more information about the world.

    This is different from fantasy and imagination, if you say those are detailed, you are adding information to fantasy and an imagination process.

    Memory evolved because it has survival utility, a wolf who can’t return to her cubs after a kill, won’t have cubs that survive. On the other hand, if another wolf has more of a detailed “memory” we would expect it to remember the details of where the cubs are.

    All you have to do to understand this point is not use the word memory and instead use its definition as a substitute.

    “Facts about the world stored in my mind” are more detailed if they contain more facts about the world. Pretty tautological. Just like a “detailed memory has more factual info than a poorly detailed one.”

  797. cozyingon 18 May 2017 at 11:30 am

    What’d I miss?

  798. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Oh Sophie, Sophie, Sophie,

    I admit it … I’m weak. I know I promised myself that I would try to ignore your siren call, but when you post such low hanging fruit, I just can’t help myself.

    The quote you used of mine is out of context, I even shortly before and after that explicitly mentioned that memory has errors.
    The point I was making there was that “memory” the word itself, describes a process of recording/ storing / recalling information about the world. So when you say a memory is more detailed than another you are saying it has more information about the world.
    This is different from fantasy and imagination, if you say those are detailed, you are adding information to fantasy and an imagination process.
    Memory evolved because it has survival utility, a wolf who can’t return to her cubs after a kill, won’t have cubs that survive. On the other hand, if another wolf has more of a detailed “memory” we would expect it to remember the details of where the cubs are.
    All you have to do to understand this point is not use the word memory and instead use its definition as a substitute.
    “Facts about the world stored in my mind” are more detailed if they contain more facts about the world. Pretty tautological. Just like a “detailed memory has more factual info than a poorly detailed one.”

    Apologies to everyone else for wasting the space to post her whole comment, but I don’t want to be accused of taking anything out of context. I did take the liberty of highlighting the relevant parts.

    If “memory has errors” then it is not equal to “facts”. Unless of course you mean “alternative facts”, which are not accurate either. I guess CKava was right about the Trumpian similarities.

    Let me explain how logic actually works. You are making the claim that BJ7 was asserting that his memories were accurate because he used the word “detailed” when he was describing them.

    This equates to:

    A.) All persons who relate detailed memories claim them to be accurate.

    B.) Some people claim all memories are fallible and may be inaccurate.

    Since you and bachfiend (and probably most of the rest of us, including possibly BillyJoe7) believe that “B” is true, then proposition “A” must logically be false.

    You are completely unjustified in making the claim that BJ7 was asserting that his memories are accurate.

    In addition, based on all of the available evidence, even if BillyJoe7 did privately believe his memories were accurate, you still would have no logical justification for making that claim.

    See how simple logic is when you break it down into its constituent parts?

    Like I have said continually, if you weren’t so obsessed with always trying to prove your perceived enemies wrong by grasping at straws, then you would be wrong less often. No idea if you are a sports fan, but you keep committing “unforced errors”.

  799. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Steve Cross,

    (1) All memories have errors, they are a crude representation of reality.
    (2) Nevertheless, memory exists because it is useful, and a crude representation is better than nothing or an even worse representation.
    (3) Memory as a term, refers to encoding, storing and recalling this information about the world.

    Therefore if you say you can remember something in “great detail” you are talking about memory and not imagination. This implies accuracy.

    It’s like if you have 4 seconds to remember a paragraph. You would have some details. But if you were instead given 8 seconds or a minutes you would have many more details down.

    It’s useful to use precise definitions. “Detail” even has the word “fact” in many of its definitions and check out those synonyms. So yes a detailed memory has more information about the world in it, or it’s not a “memory” it’s imagination, fantasy or confabulation.

  800. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Sophie,

    You are trying to use inductive logic (badly), when the deductive logic is irrefutable.

    You literally have no possible way of knowing exactly what is going on in his head. We all know that memory is fallible (including BJ7, for which I’m positive there is documentary evidence).

  801. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Steve Cross,

    You literally have no possible way of knowing exactly what is going on in his head. We all know that memory is fallible (including BJ7, for which I’m positive there is documentary evidence).

    (1) the flawed nature of memory does not take away from the fact that it is still memory. Imagination, a confabulation, fantasy — these things are all not memory.

    (2) I don’t know what’s going on in his head. You are right, but this goes without saying in any discussion about anything. It’s pointless to bring up because I never said I knew what he was thinking. I said that what he wrote implied something. He specifically wrote that he could recall his run in great detail, since he’s talking about memory that implies accuracy. I never said detailed= accurate, not one time. I said that in the situation of memory, that more details imply accuracy. It’s the difference between having 4 second or 8 to study something. The fact that all memories are crude, doesn’t take anything away from this. It’s the same in most recall situations, there will be errors, memories are not perfectly representative of reality.

    This doesn’t mean memory stops meaning what it specifically refers to and now means “imagination.”

    You have to be one of the most inconsistent writers I’ve seen in a long time. Here you are chastising me for apparently attempting to guess what BJ7 was thinking, but you only personally attack and insult me. You speak about how I’m too emotional and motivated by all the wrong things. You openly speculate into the nature of my mind all the time. Btw cozying is back. Guess that settles it.

  802. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Sophie,

    BJ7 didn’t imply anything. You inferred something based on your antipathy towards him.

    I have very detailed memories of many events in my life. I can clearly visualize 9/11 for example. I can picture faces, locations, television images, even conversations I had. Yet I know that some of my memories are wrong based on subsequent conversations that I’ve had with the 3 other people I spent most of the day with. But I can still recall very detailed images. Your argument, to put it mildly, is utterly silly.

    BTW, I’m glad you remembered your old “cozying” password. Although, I really did think you would be clever enough to make your grand entrance in a different thread with an on-topic question. Oh well, my kids always thought they were being clever too, and couldn’t understand how I always saw through their schemes.

  803. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Steve Cross,

    This is what BJ7 said:

    Some things I can remember in great detail.
    I went for a mountain-trail run this morning and can recall it in graphic visual detail now. I can run myself through large sections of it. In my mind’s eye I can see the top of that rise with a single person track through a grassy flat surface surrounded by tall trees disappearing in the mist on all sides; the slightly cool breeze, the smell of dew on grass mixed with the earthy scents from the trail itself, and the sounds of cockatoos in the distance.
    I used to go to church every Sunday morning. Goddamn the time I wasted back in those days.

    You decide for yourself is he didn’t imply actual factual things by that description.

  804. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Also falsely equating someone’s description of their memory of ther morning run, with your memory of where you were on a date 16 years ago is so bankrupt of all meaning.

  805. edamameon 18 May 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Sophie nobody said memory is imagination. But some forms of memory do often involve mental imagery. Not the same thing. Of course he implied things by his description: he was not making stuff up, and was accurately describing past events partly based on mental imagery. Not imagination, as in fantasy.

    So, you see there is this thing called the principle of charity….

  806. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 2:41 pm

    edamame,

    BJ7 freaked out over my summary what he said. He kept insisting that in that description of his run he was using “great detail” and “graphic” to mean something other than what they imply: factual details about his run. He kept losing it over how I described it as “implying accuracy,” because he insisted that he made no claims about the accuracy of his memory.

    This is how we got here. All I wrote was that his graphic and detailed memories imply actual facts and events.

  807. edamameon 18 May 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Yes I should have been more clear: the function is typically to accurately recall what actually happened, and mental imagery is often evoked during episodic memory retrieval. The imagery component is not to say memory is “imagination” or fantasy, or that you are intending to simply make stuff up like a Disney movie. That’s what I’m saying: don’t conflate cognitive operations that have a mental imagery component with pure fantasy/imagination.

    But it also isn’t to imply that it is always perfectly accurate, like a mirror reflection of the past. You hope it is accurate, and often it is (this is actually quantifiable), and the hippocampal memory system is not some useless piece of crap. That’s all he is saying, I think.

    Yes, we want episodic memory to be accurate. But even when incredibly detailed, it is sometimes misleading (but still not the same as just making up some Disney fantasy in the imagination). I’m not sure what the big deal is here.

  808. edamameon 18 May 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Regardless of what he intended to say, that’s what he should have intended to say, so I’m gonna assume that’s what he meant.

  809. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Additionally I just realized that, this whole “accurate vs detailed” nonsense is also just another lie made up by BJ7. Like when he lied about continual and continuous. When no one noticed he used the concepts interchangeably in his own original writing, which can be found by searching this page for “continuation.”

    This my original response to BJ7’s detailed run story:

    Yes many people can claim to remember a great deal of details and see so clearly the events from the past. But this is just a feeling. Human memory is so bad. Your confidence in your memories is a massive problem. Go ahead. Take a GoPro video of your run. And then when you are done try to recall everything without the video. There will likely be so many things you missed.

    I described it as “confidence” in his own memory. I didn’t use the word accuracy initially. Not a single time. The word doesn’t appear in my comments till after he makes these outlandish claims of misinterpretation. He keeps asking for quotes of him saying “accurate” which I never initially claimed anything about, nor quoted him saying. Just another lie. But yes, in the context of that story about the morning run “great detail” is referring to real things, and therefore implying accuracy.

  810. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Sophie,

    Try a little thought experiment. Think of some of your own memories, really good ones or perhaps really bad, maybe even something you “wish” you could forget.

    Do any of them seem vivid or detailed? Do you honestly believe that it would be unfair to mentally categorize them or even describe them to a friend as “detailed” — even though we all know that they are probably somewhat inaccurate?

  811. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Steve Cross,

    (1) billy was discussing a memory of his run from that morning.
    (2) he made the distinction personally, that he could see it in great detail, and that is was in “graphic visual detail”

    Therefore is not unreasonable to assume those word imply realism.

  812. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Sophie,

    Also falsely equating someone’s description of their memory of ther morning run, with your memory of where you were on a date 16 years ago is so bankrupt of all meaning.

    Why exactly?? I think you’re grasping at straws again.

    Seems to me that the time frame is irrelevant, but if it makes you feel better, I just finished mowing the lawn, and I can easy picture lots of specific details — filling the mower with gas, the exact area that I picked up some branches blown down by the wind (they had a few oak leaves) before I could mow that area, the areas that I trimmed by hand, the new mole hole — I could go on and on for perhaps about the hour or so it took to mow. I can picture many, many things quite clearly, in great detail, or at least it certainly seems vivid and detailed. All this is true, even though I know I would probably fail whatever the equivalent to the “nickel test” would be for a lawn.

    Again, you are inferring way, way more than most impartial people would feel BJ7 actually implied.

  813. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Please read:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgetting

  814. Steve Crosson 18 May 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Sophie,

    That was all very interesting, but I’m not sure what it has to do with the question at hand.

    We are talking about vivid memories that certainly appear to be pretty detailed. I don’t think anyone denies that memory is fallible. All I know is that I have some memories that certainly “seem” to contain a lot of details.

    If I were to try to explain what I’m talking about to someone else, say a neurologist, what do you think would be a more appropriate descriptive word? I honestly have no idea how I could describe having detailed memories without referring to the word “detail”.

  815. BillyJoe7on 18 May 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Sophie,

    “BJ7 freaked out”

    That is in your head.
    I don’t freak out.
    I am renowned for remaining calm when everyone else freaks out.

    “he lied”

    That is also in your head.
    I don’t lie.
    Things I say may turn out to be false, but I don’t lie.

    ” I just realized that, this whole “accurate v detailed” nonsense is also just another lie made up by BJ7″

    Either that or you thought up another lie to tell about me in your desperation to be right.
    Get this through your thick skull:
    We were talking about people who don’t get pictures in their head and those who do get pictures in their head; and we were talking about those who get detailed pictures in their head and those who don’t get detailed pictures in their head. Accuracy was not implied, was not the point, and was not relevant. In any case, someone with a sketchy picture in his head might be more accurate than someone with a detailed picture in his head if the details are not accurate.

    “Like when he lied about continual and continuous. When no one noticed he used the concepts interchangeably in his own original writing, which can be found by searching this page for “continuation.””

    I always find this amusing.
    You might try to convince others that I lied but there’s no point telling me I lied.
    I chose “continual” deliberately.
    I chose the phrase “string of memories” (patterned on “string of beads”) deliberately.
    And I can certainly continue to do the things I do continually.
    I already explained that last bit and you didn’t respond but here you are repeating the same accusation which now means that you are a liar.

    I haven’t lied and I haven’t freaked out.
    I think maybe you project too much.

  816. Sophieon 18 May 2017 at 6:19 pm

    BJ7,

    Aphantasia is a unconfirmed condition. Edamame accusing Bachfiend of having it is an ad hominem. Bachfiend didn’t buy your simplistic narratives neither did I, that doesnR