Nov 28 2016

Is The Santa Myth Immoral?

Portrait of happy Santa Claus sitting at his room at home near Christmas tree and big sack and reading Christmas letter or wish list

Lancet Psychiatry has published an opinion piece (which the media is sometimes confusingly referring to as “research”) in which the authors argue that telling children Santa is real may be harmful and immoral. I have to completely disagree with the authors and I think their opinion reflects only their own biases.

Their primary thesis is that if parents tell their children a lie for years, sometimes maintaining that lie with elaborate deception, and the children inevitably discover the lie, that will undermine the child’s faith in the authority of their parents. They write:

“If they are capable of lying about something so special and magical, can they be relied upon to continue as the guardians of wisdom and truth?”

The unstated major assumption here is that it is a good thing for parents to be the, “guardians of wisdom and truth.” That is a value judgement, and one with which I completely disagree. I believe children should be taught to question authority, and as they mature to learn that there are no guardians of truth.

It is a delicate balance. You want people (not just children) to respect appropriate authority, but at the same time realize that no authority is infallible. They can be wrong, and you should think for yourself (while recognizing your own limits). That is the destination, and children should be on a journey toward that destination, not reverence for the guardians of truth.

What really struck me, and led me to the conclusion that the authors were following their own cultural biases, was this line:

“An adult comforting a child and telling them that their recently deceased pet will go to a special place (animal heaven) is arguably nicer than telling graphic truths about its imminent re-entry into the carbon cycle.”

So, it is OK to lie to a child about one of the biggest questions of existence, what happens after death, rather than perpetuate an otherwise harmless fantasy about a toy-giving elf?

I have raised two daughters, and they encountered the usual amount of death for living in a stable part of the world. They lost pets, relatives, and witnessed the cruelty of nature first hand. My comfort to them at such times was, in fact, to teach them (in part) about the carbon cycle. Nature is all about an endless cycle of life and death, and we are all part of that cycle. Sure, a snake ate those baby bluebirds, but snakes have to eat to live also, and if no baby bluebirds were ever eaten they would soon overpopulate the world.

I know it’s cheesy, but The Lion King does a good job of teaching children about the circle of life. What is wrong with that? Do these authors really think it is benign to distract children from one of the central lessons of existence with a pervasive myth about a magical heaven? That myth also tends to survive into adulthood, while the Santa myth is eventually discovered.

As a skeptic I am often asked how I personally dealt with my own children and Santa. My wife and I never directly lied to our children about Santa or perpetuated the myth. We didn’t have to, they absorbed it from the culture. We never contradicted the myth, however. We let them believe without supporting or denying the myth. They also never asked us directly about it.

For each of them, at an appropriate age, they started to question Santa all by themselves. The story superficially does not make any sense, and they figured that out. When they started to question Santa out loud, I encouraged their skepticism. I did not give them the answers, just nudged them to continue to think and to question. I also suggested that perhaps Santa is more of an idea than a real person, the spirit of giving and love for others, something we take time to remember each year during the darkest time of year (at least in the Northern hemisphere).

There was never any traumatic realization of betrayal. Their concept of Santa simply matured as they matured. They enjoyed the “magic” of Christmas in an appropriate way at every age, just like I still do as an adult.

And hell yes, my children question the “guardians of truth.” They especially revel in challenging their father, and delight in knowing more about something than me. I never explicitly pushed “skepticism” as a philosophy onto them. I just modeled it for them, and they absorbed it. As a result they truly own their skepticism, it is part of how they understand the world.

Conclusion

The authors of the Lancet article, in my opinion, utterly failed. The Santa myth is benign and it can be used to teach children that authorities should not be believed absolutely. There are no guardians of truth. Culture is also complicated and there are a lot of beliefs perpetuated in culture that are simply not true.

The Santa myth is like training wheels for critical thinking. It is a fun and benign myth but one that kids can figure out on their own even at a young age.

It also represents how a hardened skeptic can still embrace the human condition. We are emotional and social creatures. We also have imaginations. It is quite possible to have a purely materialistic view of the world and still embrace a sense of connection to something greater than oneself – a sense of community, of being part of an endless cycle of existence, and of being part of the fabric of social connections and feelings.

Santa and Christmas are ideas originating in the notion that humans huddle together during the darkest and coldest part of the year. It is part of our nature and how we survive. Family and friends are important. Every year we take a break from whatever else is going on and we take time to remember and honor that. Santa is just part of that narrative. Let children understand Santa and Christmas in their own way, and that understanding will evolve and mature as they do.

305 responses so far

305 Responses to “Is The Santa Myth Immoral?”

  1. rdgroveson 28 Nov 2016 at 8:15 am

    Interestingly enough…my 5 year old daughter asked me, just yesterday, if Santa was real. Without thinking, I immediately answered no. I felt instant remorse. Had I just snatched childhood belief and wonder for truth? I think I must be a terrible parent:))

  2. Steven Novellaon 28 Nov 2016 at 9:04 am

    I would have answered, “What do you think?” But that is how I answer most such questions from my children. I treat it as an interesting question we can explore together, rather than give them some authoritative definitive answer.

  3. tmac57on 28 Nov 2016 at 9:57 am

    On a past episode of the Skeptics with a K podcast, Mike Hall argued the ‘never lie’ side of this against Marsh and Alice who took Steve’s view. It was pretty contentious but also quite amusing. I think that there are ‘truth purists’ who see it as a sort of slippery slope or bad precedent that opens the door for nonsense being accepted at all levels.
    I personally feel like it is more of a ‘let’s pretend’ fun game similar to “I got your nose”. I don’t totally trust my intuitions on this question however, because I have no conscious memory of having actually believing in Santa. even as young as four, I was aware of thinking that it didn’t make sense (that might be a false memory, but what I am sure of is that I did not have that moment of surprise that the jolly old elf was just a myth).
    Most people that I know have a fairly specific memory and approximate age where they were told about Santa, and it is usually 6 or 7 years old, however my wife and a previous girlfriend that I had were both 12 or 13 when they quit believing, and I find that truly amazing!

  4. TheGorillaon 28 Nov 2016 at 10:30 am

    I’ve never understood this concern. When I figured out Santa there was no feeling of betrayal or distrust but just pride in my accomplishment – it was like proof of being a big boy or something.

    Based on my own experiences with people serious about this, it tends to stem as a view entailed by a vehement hatred of religion (ie Bible teachings) rather than something independently arrived at.

  5. Steven Novellaon 28 Nov 2016 at 11:03 am

    I agree that kids may pass through a phase where Santa is like a big game of “got your nose.” They know on some level that Santa is not really real, like other things in their world are real. Santa occupies some other conceptual space, sort-of existing like a fun story, and everyone is just playing along.

    I don’t know of any data, or even any compelling anecdotes, of people coming to some psychological harm because of their belief in Santa. I don’t think it’s a slippery slope to other mythologies. Of course, I have heard religious people worry that it undermines faith, which, if true, I would argue is a good thing.

  6. NotAMarsupialon 28 Nov 2016 at 11:16 am

    “My wife and I never directly lied to our children about Santa or perpetuated the myth.”

    Steve,
    I’m curious how you managed to do this. Your response to their questions with “What do you think?” seems to be a good way to approach this. However, did they received presents from santa? If yes, then it seems like a perpetuation of the myth. If no, then I would think that would lead to quite a few inquiries from upset children. I have a young one at home who is just starting to understand the holiday season and my wife and I have debated how to handle santa. We’re running out of time to come up with a plan.

  7. Catherineon 28 Nov 2016 at 11:36 am

    Hi NotaMarsupial

    This is not problem. We have never given our children presents “from Santa” and they still believed and weren’t upset. They’re too busy opening presents to stop and read labels as to who they are from.

    We didn’t get it all right though. I told them about the historical Saint Nicholas and that he lived a long time ago. Cue 5 year old at Santa parade “I don’t want to see Santa, he’s DEAD”.

  8. Steven Novellaon 28 Nov 2016 at 11:42 am

    We always put the presents under the tree wrapped as they come in. They did not “arrive” on Christmas eve, except for presents that were too large to wrap or would have been too obvious. Most presents were from Mom and Dad. Occasionally we had presents from a variety of fictional characters. One year, when we were binge-watching Dr. Who, there were a number of presents from “The Doctor”. It was always understood that these were from Mom and Dad. We never concealed the true source of these presents.

  9. tmac57on 28 Nov 2016 at 12:15 pm

    But Steve…you are, literally, ‘The Doctor’. Right? 😉

  10. Steve Crosson 28 Nov 2016 at 12:35 pm

    There was a very short-lived TV comedy about three sisters (I think — it was a long time ago). It probably deserved to be cancelled because absolutely nothing about it was clever or memorable except for one scene which has always struck me as one of the most blindingly obvious statements ever made.

    The sisters were arguing about one sisters lack of religious belief, and her (the atheist’s) response was perfect: “When I learned there was no Tooth fairy, Easter bunny or Santa Claus — pretty soon God was dead.”

    It has always amazed me that so few people reach the blindingly obvious (at least to me) conclusion, i.e. that parents (and people in general) make up stuff to make themselves feel good, or make kids behave, or encourage adults to act “morally”, etc. It always seemed to me that each of these widespread myths was equally implausible.

    Even after adults admitted the truth about TF, EB and Santa, it took me a long time to realize that most people inexplicably felt that the (to me, just as silly) god myth was true. In hindsight, I think that was probably what made me realize that not only could adults “tell fibs”, they could also be mistaken. That was pretty eye opening, and I believe it started me on a life long path of insatiable curiosity and a quest to find out “what is really true”.

    In other words, I think that was the roots of my skepticism. Which, I think most people here would agree is a good thing.

    I believe that Dr. Novella’s approach (“what do you think?”) is exactly right. I don’t think that children should be taught that their parents could ever intentionally LIE to them about anything, especially not anything important. On the other hand, I think it is good to present some questions as puzzles that the children need to figure out on their own. Hand in hand with that lesson is the important point that everyone (even parents) can be mistaken. It is important for children to learn that not everything they hear is true and that they need to learn the difference between fact and fiction.

  11. MosBenon 28 Nov 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I tend to lean towards the anti-Santa camp, though I think that it’s easy to take that position to seriously. It’s a holiday about giving and family, comfort and joy. Growing up, on Christmas Eve my extended family would tell the assembled kids that they heard on the radio that Santa was nearby, and then have one of the adults make clomping noises on the roof followed by an adult coming in dressed as Santa and talk to the kids for a while. And, of course, on Christmas Day there would be presents from Santa under the tree. While I don’t remember any specific “Eureka!” moment when I realized that Santa wasn’t real and I certainly don’t bear my family any ill will for encouraging the Santa myth, it’s not really something that I’m comfortable with, at least to the degree that I experienced it.

    When I eventually have kids, they will almost certainly get enough Santa contact high from society without any need for me to encourage it further. Asking them what they think and including gifts from a number of characters that they know to be fictional along with gifts from Santa probably plants the seeds for skepticism without needing to kill the fun of the holiday. But I do still get a certain amount of unease about the whole thing.

  12. lagaya1on 28 Nov 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t think children feel betrayed as long as the story doesn’t continue too long.

    I know a woman whose 8 year old daughter still believes (or maybe she pretends to). Other kids finding this out will not be merciful to this child, and then she may resent not knowing the truth.

    My child was scared of Santa, so it was only natural to explain to him that he was not real. I wouldn’t have lied to him anyway, though.

  13. Bill Openthalton 28 Nov 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Just be happy you don’t have a “Black Peter” issue, like the poor Dutch. Here in Luxembourg, we have the “Hosicker”, who is actually a charcoal burner, to accompany Saint Nicholas on the eve of December 6th. The Hosicker looks pretty scary with his wild beard, blacked face, sackcloth outfit and gard. I guess our friends from the Lancet would not approve of scaring the bejesus out of your kids either.

  14. hardnoseon 28 Nov 2016 at 6:49 pm

    “Do these authors really think it is benign to distract children from one of the central lessons of existence with a pervasive myth about a magical heaven?”

    Steve N “knows” there is no afterlife. I thought that was something we can’t know for certain until we die. I have to wonder why a “skeptic,” whose beliefs are supposedly based on evidence, arrived at such an unscientific and ideological conclusion.

    It’s true that most of the pro-afterlife evidence is experiential, rather than experimental. But the anti-afterlife evidence does not exist. It is pure materialist faith.

  15. MosBenon 28 Nov 2016 at 7:30 pm

    hardnose: “the anti-afterlife evidence does not exist”. The burden of proof is on the person making a claim that something exists. People who do not have faith in an afterlife do not believe that that burden has been met and choose not to believe in something that they feel has not been proven. It’s not dogma; it’s a standard of evidence.

  16. tmac57on 28 Nov 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Weird framing…”anti-afterlife”. I mean who would be against an afterlife?

  17. Haggardon 28 Nov 2016 at 8:11 pm

    It is hard to imagine anyone taking a study like this very seriously. While it is certainly possible to inflict long-term harm on children by telling and perpetuating a lie, I very much question whether the fantasy of santa is able to do so. To the contrary, my impression is that the majority of people associate this with positive feelings. Hell, in most cases, the worst thing this myth did was bring presents!

    I’m guessing there must be the occasional traumatic event for one reason or another, but it’s doubtful that this could be a common thing. Further study is needed, I suppose. Especially when we’re thinking about issues such as erosion of trust in parental figures.
    I suspect that erosion of trust is likely to come from much bigger issues, as I’m betting the average kid might fully believe the myth of santa for maybe 3-5 years. Does it seem reasonable that people really form such strong opinions of their parents and whether or not they can be trusted on major issues by the time they are 8-10 years old based on santa being real or not?

    I also have a young child, and we have experienced death. I make no bones about it. Death is death and you’re not coming back. But look at how wonderful life is and how lucky we are to have experienced whatever/whomever is gone. He doesn’t seem scarred by the experience.
    But, at the same time, young childhood is a nice time where I think it is important to encourage fantasy, and even… magical thinking. I think there are some real benefits to this to kids in the 3-10 year age range, and that it is important to let kids have these moments for amusement, creativity and even to expand their thinking for later on when they get to question it all. That’s not to say that outright lies are to be encouraged, but parenting is a balancing act, as any parent soon finds out. If I’m walking with my six year old in the forest, aside from a very solid education in forests (of which I happen to be somewhat of an expert), I also let him run around and look in nooks and darkened corners for fairies and imaginary forest creatures. Why not? Guess what he is most interested in? And my dendrology lessons are legendary!

    As kids age, we can ask them questions and talk about things that encourage a critical point of view, but in my opinion, there is a balance to this and it can easily and without harm, be age appropriate. I like to encourage the creativity of my child, and if this includes fantasy, I have a hard time thinking that he will at a later time hate me and never trust a word I say because I didn’t explicitly tell him santa wasn’t real or that he’s wasting his time looking in that hollowed out log for something that doesn’t exist. That sounds like bullshit, but what do I know? I’ve just never met anyone who has hung up these sorts of things on the peg for why you can never trust your mother. Usually, it is something else that is much more real that messes someone up.

    Remember, with santa, we’re typically dealing with an age range of 4-8 year olds. Perhaps a slight bit more, but I very much doubt the average survives much past grade 3. Think back on your time at school and what the other kids were talking about at those ages. Most kids seem to grasp the myth of santa by the time they’re 9-10 at most, so is it really so harmful? It seems like this is just a projection of adult thinking on to a child, which in my experience, tends to be quite a bit different. I just suspect the lies have to be much more relevant to a child’s place in the world and how they experience it in a long term, meaningful way for them to have much impact. As kids age, they can easily begin to separate the fantasy from childhood with what they are actually experiencing with a little guidance. So in my opinion, that doesn’t mean you have to crush out every little fantastical idea or experience they have with logic. At least not in the age range of santa.

  18. edamameon 28 Nov 2016 at 10:47 pm

    I’m a father of a six year old girl. Her friend came to me, earnestly, asking if I thought fairies were real. I smilled and tried to shrug it off. She stared at me, waiting for an answer. “What do you think?” “Yes they are real they live over there on the playground and leave treasure there.” “Cool.” I’m not about to wreck that shit for her. I think, like Dr Novella, that is the best strategy. Just ask them what they think, and I try to never outright lie and tell them X is real when it clearly isn’t. I’ll go along with them, and sometimes admittedly ride a fine line (e.g., “Look what Santa brought me” and I’ll go along with it), but it is surprisingly easy to do in practice.

    Kids don’t talk about existence very often, thank goodness.

  19. David Twitchon 29 Nov 2016 at 12:16 am

    My thoughts echo TheGorilla.

    Perhaps some adults have forgotten what it was like to be a child. You aren’t yet processing info in the same way – well at least I didn’t. I went to a Catholic school and in 1st grade was being taught about Adam & Eve. One day my parents sat me down and explained that was a fairy tale and “we don’t believe that”. So effective that day I no longer believed it, and felt special that I knew something wasn’t true the other kids believed. The very fact that was all it took points to the difference between a child’s mind which is still easily capable of changing beliefs, and the adult mind where changing beliefs is very difficult.

    I wasn’t traumatized that I had initially been deceived, nor frankly was I any more enlightened once I knew it wasn’t not true, because my 6-year old brain had no capacity to comprehend the possible impact of believing in such a fairy tail. It is only when such beliefs are continued into later years *and* reinforced with dire threats (believe or you’ll go to hell) that they become something much more dangerous to a persons ability to think about the world around them.

  20. cozyingon 29 Nov 2016 at 12:51 am

    These pressures we feel to not upset kids is very real. Even a pope once felt the pressure to tell a little boy that his dog would meet him in heaven.

  21. BillyJoe7on 29 Nov 2016 at 5:56 am

    We handled this the way SN handled it.

    We never told our kids our point of view but answered them when they eventually asked. I don’t think our kids ever really believed in Santa Claus – and, despite going to a catholic school (or, perhaps, because of it!), they have definitely never believed in god. Honestly, if a discussion about god ever comes up, they roll their eyes. They are just not interested. I guess it’s the diference between rising above your childhood indoctrination and not having to.

    One of our sons is a born sceptic. In kindergarten, when asked by a friend if he believed in faeries, he said that faeries were not real. This caused his friend great distress because, apparently, whenever someone says they don’t believe in faeries, one of them dies. And, every day, he would ask our son the same question. He told us this story one evening after dinner, and then wondered aloud what he should do. Then, suddenly, he had the solution: “I know, I’ll just tell him I do believe in faeries!” And he looked pretty pleased with himself.

  22. arnieon 29 Nov 2016 at 6:18 am

    Steve N: “It also represents how a hardened skeptic can still embrace the human condition. We are emotional and social creatures. We also have imaginations. It is quite possible to have a purely materialistic view of the world and still embrace a sense of connection to something greater than oneself – a sense of community, of being part of an endless cycle of existence, and of being part of the fabric of social connections and feelings.”

    That is such a great paragraph and so true that I am always somewhat surprised (but not “shocked”) that so few of my theistic friends and family can’t seem to grasp it. I guess that’s the crippling grip that a non-evidence (faith-based) ideology has on one’s thinking. It’s as though “something greater than oneself” can only, by definition, mean supernatural. That seems like such an obvious non-sequitur but dialogue about that gets nowhere with the true and unquestioning believe.

  23. SteveAon 29 Nov 2016 at 8:57 am

    I think it’s telling that neither of the paper’s authors have children.

    Not that this precludes them from commenting on the subject, but I don’t think any parent would have bothered writing the paper in the first place.

    I also agree that the ‘animal heaven’ remark betrays a ridiculous double standard.

  24. TheGorillaon 29 Nov 2016 at 11:17 am

    hardnose: we actually can know for certain that there is no afterlife; the concept (as generally conceived) is incoherent.

    MosBen: that burden of proof stuff is absurd. That’s not how discussions work in the real world. You certainly have reasons that you do not believe in an afterlife, even if they are purely epistemological (for example). People who go on and on about “burden of proof” are simply trying to avoid putting forward and actual argument for their beliefs by pretending they don’t have any. Drives me up the wall.

  25. tmac57on 29 Nov 2016 at 12:34 pm

    The Gorilla- It’s possible to prove that something does exist to a reasonable certainty, but how would you produce evidence of non-existence? The goal posts for such a claim would literally be infinite.
    Therefore the burden of proof lies with those who make extraordinary claims that something exists. You cannot disprove an afterlife.
    I personally see it as wildly improbable, and I don’t think that there has ever been good evidence for it, so therefore I do not accept the concept of an afterlife as real, but proving my position…I can’t see a path to that.

  26. hardnoseon 29 Nov 2016 at 5:41 pm

    “People who do not have faith in an afterlife do not believe that that burden has been met and choose not to believe in something that they feel has not been proven.”

    It is pretty silly to teach your children the materialist fairytale that nothing except “matter” is real.

    Why not be honest and tell them you do not know what happens to their pet when it dies? You could say some people believe this, others believe that, and no one can be certain.

    An enormous amount of near death experience data has been collected. That should count somehow. And we have absolutely no reason whatsoever for assuming we are made entirely out of “matter.” Just the opposite, actually.

    But the surest sign of ideological thinking is not knowing that your thinking is ideological.

    I have repeatedly seen Steve N. and most others at this blog insisting that everything is “matter” because, well because, it has to be or else atheism might not be true. And we “know” atheism has to be true, because otherwise some of those ignorant superstitious idiots who believe in non-material realities might actually be correct about something.

  27. bendon 29 Nov 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Kids are different and react according to their own personalities when they learn the truth of Santa. I was a serious kid and my parents and siblings kept the game going until I was eight. When classmates teased me for believing I defended myself and my parents; they would never lie to me. When my brother finally did tell me, I was devastated, not because Santa wasn’t real, but because those I trusted most had deliberately deceived me. I think that this experience has made me more cynical, though perhaps I’d have turned out more or less just how I am in any case. And maybe my lost faith in humanity is ultimately a good thing. While I recognize that reactions similar to mine constitute a minority, as soon as they can talk, I tell my kids that there’s no santa and I don’t let them forget it. Also, I save a fair bit of money by not doing the tooth fairy thing.

  28. Kabboron 29 Nov 2016 at 8:05 pm

    “I have repeatedly seen Steve N. and most others at this blog insisting that everything is “matter” because, well because, it has to be or else atheism might not be true.”

    I worry about another 500+ comment post, but I want to disabuse hardnose about a misguided notion of his. Scientists look for anything and everything that has affects reality. They measure those effects to the best of their physical and theoretical abilities. If they find something new it is added to the body of knowledge that you regard as “Materialism”. Materialism is then by definition everything science has ever actually proven to exist.

    How is it narrow minded to accept the things that which is proven as fact rather than just making things up and hoping we are right? Speculation is all well and good, but actual belief based on speculation is not productive. Further, demanding that others also believe your arbitrary theology is not exactly reasonable.

    Accept that which is known and accept the unknowns. Steven Novella actually does this believe it or not. We all want an afterlife, why wouldn’t we? We just don’t accept that there necessarily is one just because we want one.

  29. cozyingon 29 Nov 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Kabbor,
    “Materialism is then by definition everything science has ever actually proven to exist.”
    This is incorrect, your framing of this issue is complete fiction.
    Based on my limited experience here, I’ve learned that you guys love to gang up on people and ingore basic definitions and facts. But what hardnose is clearly talking about, is how science can’t disprove or prove a belief. You can’t prove the afterlife doesn’t exist. That is fundamentally true. Modern science deals with the falsifiability of hypotheses. You can’t use science to say god doesn’t exist or to prove he does. Everyone chiming in to cheerlead atheism is completely ignoring a very valid philosophical point hardnose brought up.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m an atheist, I just have to agree with the whole concept that: there’s nothing I hate more than a bad argument for a position I hold. I’m not an atheist because I believe in scientific facts, I’m an atheist because I believe in the logic of it and the fact that it’s not necessary to involve an ultimate creator. If god didn’t need to be created, then why can’t you just walk that logic back one step, and say then the universe doesn’t need a creator either. I don’t “know” that god or the afterlife is fiction, I just strongly suspect it, and recognize that it’s not testable. I also don’t believe because of all the harm religious thinking does to so many people all over the world, and as a woman I find the inherent misogyny to be a systematic problem.
    Most people who write about the philosophy of science and, specifically it’s intersection with metaphysics, don’t believe in “materialism.” Even Hawking in the grand design talks about how the correct philosophical world view for modern scientists is something more like scientific realism. Where scientific models point to an underlying truth that we can never really be sure actually exists.

  30. TheGorillaon 29 Nov 2016 at 10:30 pm

    tmac – I’m not going to bother making the list, but put down the reasons you do not believe in big foot. None of these things will prove 100% that there is no Big Foot, but they are certainly enough to confidently say Big Foot does not exist. There’s only an issue when people start treating knowledge as 100% impossible-to-be-wrong certainty, but that’s not actually how anyone uses the word – especially not in random discussions.

    Kabbor – you didn’t really address the complaint hardnose has, which is an ideological slant toward materialism as a metaphysical thesis, not as a definition of science; that everything is material or supervenes on the material is a very strong claim with very good reasons to doubt it (from the hard problem to issues with contingency). Do you think science is the only way to know things?

  31. TheGorillaon 29 Nov 2016 at 10:34 pm

    cozying – the reason you can’t walk further back and ask why God doesn’t have a creator is that God is, by definition, the most fundamental thing. To use cosmological arguments as an example, they validly deduce the existence of a most fundamental thing (which, and the order here is important, is then LABELED as God after further argumentation that this fundamental thing necessarily has the attributes that match it with the conception of God) – it’s incoherent to ask for something more fundamental than that.

  32. BillyJoe7on 29 Nov 2016 at 10:37 pm

    cozy,

    “you guys”

    Setting yourself apart again cozy?
    (Though I did catch you out once saying “we” 😉 )

    “as a woman I find the inherent misogyny to be a systematic problem”

    You don’t need to be a woman.

  33. TheGorillaon 29 Nov 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Sorry, I wish I could edit posts. This is a further reply to cozying – it’s commonly misunderstood that the First Cause is the sort of temporal cause we talk about in our day to day lives. That sort of series is called an ‘accidentally ordered series.’ The sort of causation involved in the First Cause, however, is that of an ‘essentially ordered series;’ a sustaining force without which nothing could exist. Think of it like a tower of cups on top of a table – there could be no tower of cups without the table, and it has nothing to do with temporal causation.

  34. cozyingon 29 Nov 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Gorilla,
    Clearly we have a lot of common ground. I agree with most of what you say. Clearly you know more about theology than me. My comment about walking back the logic still stands though. You are the one saying all these complex theological arguments about the different types of causes, not me. In my comment that example was one of the many reasons I gave for why I’m an atheist, that have literally nothing to do with kabbor and others’ inappropriate framing of this complex issue as science vs religion.
    I agree to disagree with your specific point, I respect it though, and I’ll look it up and learn more about causation in this sense. As of right now though, I don’t at all believe in the theological arguments about the different types of causes. I was simply referring to the point that it’s logically equivalent to walk back that point one step and say the universe doesn’t need a creator either. Outside of the Realm of theological arguments. If we can have a thing, in this illogical system, that doesn’t need a creator but it is the cause of all things, why can’t we just walk it back one step and say this other thing, the universe, also the cause of stuff, doesn’t need a creator either? That’s all.

    Billy,
    Yeah by ‘you’ I specifically meant you and kabbor. Good catch. You are specifically the person who misused a word multiple times even when presented with the definition. Kept attacking, and insulting me, and proudly claimed to not read anything I actually had to say, but still replied to mock me. You even tried to rewrite what you actually said multiple times, but made the same exact mistake each time. Cherry picked one liners in response to multiple paragraphs don’t deserve acknowledgement, no one takes them seriously and it’s not helpful. All you do is muddle the discussion.

  35. cozyingon 29 Nov 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Look at my comment. Then your reply Billy. Ask yourself if it’s useful or helpful to say what you said. Does it advance the discussion? What is your motivation? Is this the type of conversations we should be having on a blog dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking?
    Same thing goes for your replies the last time we met. Is it helpful to proudly brag about ignoring what someone has to say only to repeatedly attack and insult them? Is that skepticism?

  36. BillyJoe7on 30 Nov 2016 at 4:43 am

    cozy,

    “Yeah by ‘you’ I specifically meant you. You are specifically the person who misused a word multiple times even when presented with the definition. Kept attacking, and insulting me, and proudly claimed to not read anything I actually had to say, but still replied to mock me. You even tried to rewrite what you actually said multiple times, but made the same exact mistake each time. Cherry picked one liners in response to multiple paragraphs don’t deserve acknowledgement, no one takes them seriously and it’s not helpful. All you do is muddle the discussion”

    Love you too, cozy. 🙂

  37. BillyJoe7on 30 Nov 2016 at 4:47 am

    cozy,

    “Look at my comment. Then your reply Billy. Ask yourself if it’s useful or helpful to say what you said”

    Well, I would just like you to part of the gang.
    Why come here and immediately set yourself apart?

  38. SteveAon 30 Nov 2016 at 7:21 am

    HN: “Why not be honest and tell them you do not know what happens to their pet when it dies? You could say some people believe this, others believe that, and no one can be certain.”

    It would be more honest to say that the pet’s body will rot into the ground, and that all their thoughts and memories dissipated to nothing the moment their brain stopped working. And that there’s no reason to think otherwise. Oh…and that people who believe in an afterlife are so terrified of their own mortality that they clutch at fairy tales.

    “An enormous amount of near death experience data has been collected. That should count somehow.”

    You used the word ‘data’ when you should have said ‘stories’. Quantity doesn’t make bad evidence any better. You can pile up cow-pats as high as a house; there doesn’t come a point when the heap of crap turns into a gold bar.

  39. Kabboron 30 Nov 2016 at 7:44 am

    “there doesn’t come a point when the heap of crap turns into a gold bar”

    Aren’t there industrial means by which precious metals can be extracted from feces? Not that I am arguing with you, just thought it was funny.

    Cozying: The point of my argument earlier is that we accept that there are knowns and unknowns. Treating the unknowns as knowns is not productive in my opinion. I’m not trying to get in another pointless semantic argument, just clarifying my position. I don’t think you are deliberately reading everything I say as hostile, but your replies come across that way.

  40. mumadaddon 30 Nov 2016 at 7:56 am

    “Why not be honest and tell them you do not know what happens to their pet when it dies? You could say some people believe this, others believe that, and no one can be certain.”

    “We don’t know what happens when we die until after we die” is analogous to “you don’t know if Santa exists unless you stay up all night and watch out for him”. Never mind all the violations of physics necessary for Santa to traverse the globe in such a short time; never mind his sled has never been picked up by any national air control; never mind that we can point to the origin of the myth – until you stay up all night, you don’t know shit.

  41. Kabboron 30 Nov 2016 at 7:56 am

    Here’s an interesting question: If you were to design a simulation of a universe on a computer, would you set aside a space for interesting anomalies or intelligent life? Maybe you’d save it to a separate drive and interact with them independently from the context of the universe you made. This thought experiment isn’t unreasonable, but there would be no way to know when you are still in the universe.

    I think whether someone would set aside such a space depends on the purpose of the simulation, and the ethics of the creator.

  42. cozyingon 30 Nov 2016 at 8:59 am

    SteveA,
    “Oh…and that people who believe in an afterlife are so terrified of their own mortality that they clutch at fairy tales.”
    A lot of people just believe in an afterlife because it’s something they were taught at a young age. It’s an endemic part of their culture. This type of categorization, personal attack, only deepens the divide between skeptics and believers. I try to just find common ground, teach some basic logic skills, and not worry about what their religion is. As skeptics we don’t insult people for what they were taught to believe as a kid.
    “You used the word ‘data’ when you should have said ‘stories’. Quantity doesn’t make bad evidence any better. You can pile up cow-pats as high as a house; there doesn’t come a point when the heap of crap turns into a gold bar.”
    Clearly you and your opponent have different definitions of the word data. Some people find the thousands of NDE stories to be really compelling. Instead of helping them understand what the nature of good evidence is, again you chose to attack, insult and use a gross analogy. You should have said something along the lines of: there are many possible explanations for NDE that don’t involve visions of the after life, for example, neurosurgeons have been able to artificially create these types of experiences during surgery by stimulating certain parts of their patients’ brains. Also NDEs tend to be culturally dependent, Christians see Jesus but people from other cultures see their respective afterlives. And some of them are negative experiences. People also have out of body experiences during these NDEs and can’t actually accurately remotely view the things they claim they saw. This points to a natural explainable, culturally relative, phenomena instead of proof of an afterlife.
    Kabbor,
    “The point of my argument earlier is that we accept that there are knowns and unknowns. Treating the unknowns as knowns is not productive in my opinion. I’m not trying to get in another pointless semantic argument, just clarifying my position.”
    No actually, you explicitly said some stuff that’s false. I demonstrated why. Your entire framing of the discussion was unquestionably incorrect. You ignored and denied a very reasonable point that hardnose was trying to make and instead jumped on the bandwagon to attack him. The concept that you can’t prove or disprove a “belief” is literally philosophy 101. First week of class. If you don’t care about philosophy that’s okay too, because it’s also modern scientific theory. You can only prove or disprove claims that are falsifiable. Modern science is not materialism either, that died with positivism many years ago. We don’t directly observe reality with scientific experiments. No one has ever seen an electron, and we don’t have to in order to make computers. What we do is infer the existence of these things with models and experimentation.
    Mumadadd,
    [“We don’t know what happens when we die until after we die” is analogous to “you don’t know if Santa exists unless you stay up all night and watch out for him”.]
    So this is another inappropriate analogy. You can stay up for Santa and see that he didn’t put the presents under the tree. You cannot find out if the afterlife exists by waiting around or investigating. The reason the afterlife is such a genius cognitive virus is that you can only find out after you pass away. And you can’t come back and tell people about it. That’s the point. You can trace the purchasing of the presents, track your parents, record them talking about how they fooled you. These are not things you can do about an unfalsifiable claim. Again, I don’t believe in santa or the afterlife, but they are very different types of claims. And everyone continues to make bad arguments for positions I hold.
    Kabbor,
    “If you were to design a simulation of a universe on a computer, would you set aside a space for interesting anomalies or intelligent life?”
    Major unstated premise: interesting anomalies, intelligent life are not nominal parts of the universe.
    Almost everything really mysterious and wonderful we know about in cosmology is from studying anomalies. The universe even is thought to have started from an anomaly where some small percentage of antimatter became matter, thereby not completely mutually annihilating everything.
    I believe that evolution is a natural nominal part of our universe. I think it’s a totally explainable thing given the overall framework of our universe.

  43. Kabboron 30 Nov 2016 at 9:22 am

    I can’t help but feel that the principle of charity has been thoroughly abandoned. I’m not going to provoke another long string of essays about the wording of specific sentences, so I just hope that everyone else actually interprets my words the way they were intended. If anyone other than cozying has any clarifying questions about what I meant by anything I wrote, I’ll happily entertain them.

    I am quite open to being wrong about the finer points of the discussion of theology, but taking the least charitable approach to discussion does you no favours.

  44. mumadaddon 30 Nov 2016 at 9:33 am

    Ditto.

  45. cozyingon 30 Nov 2016 at 9:54 am

    Needing to clarify assumes that I just didn’t understand what you said. I did understand what you said so did gorilla. I explained in detail how your framing of the complex metaphysical issue was incorrect. You made numerous errors. It’s done, it happened, stop trying to rewrite history. Your words in response to hardnose are right there. Any reasonable third party can read them and then my reply and instantly understand what you did wrong. You incorrectly described the philosophical worldview that modern science is based on.
    mumadadd cheerleading you doesn’t help your position. Because he also made a critical error with yet another analogy. Kinda like mayonnaise and bernaise. It’s also right there for anyone to read. You can easily prove your parents lied to you about santa. You can’t easily prove the afterlife doesn’t exist. Two very different types of things we are talking about.

  46. arnieon 30 Nov 2016 at 10:57 am

    cozy, Could you please clarify your definition of “nominal” as in “I believe that evolution is a natural nominal part of our universe”? At first glance, it appears you are using “nominal” rather idiosyncratically. Otherwise, your sentence would typically be understood as meaning “I believe that evolution is a natural in name only part of the universe.”

  47. TheGorillaon 30 Nov 2016 at 11:00 am

    cozying –

    I know this is way off on a tangent, but I did want to answer why the universe can’t be considered the most basic thing. Basically, we have contingent facts in the world – facts that *logically* could have been different; a major backbone of science is to think that these facts have an explanation as to why they are one way rather than another (ie, X happened, let’s research the explanation). We also have necessary facts – facts that could never be different (such as 2+2=4, when the symbols signify the same numbers).

    The argument purportedly shows (not illustrated here, it’s intuitively compelling whether it’s in fact sound or not) that the existence of contingent facts, in order to even satisfy the premise *It is possible that contingent facts have an explanation,* must be grounded in a necessary fact. But the universe very much doesn’t seem to be a necessary fact — it’s completely logically coherent for physicists to pose counterfactuals about changing the “universal constants.” You could still say the universe is the most fundamental thing, but it would be the assertion of a brute fact rather than a logically deduced conclusion.

    Anyways, I don’t believe either… just had a passing interest in this sort of thing. I don’t think it’s justifiable to use principles like cause and effect for such metaphysical claims that are totally outside the bounds of possible experience.

  48. cozyingon 30 Nov 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Arnie,
    Yeah I can clarify, no problem. I simply mean nominal in the sense that it means satisfactory or within approximate statistical bounds. I agree that it’s not the most common definition of the word. But it exists. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nominally Talking about the universe and the word anomaly got my mind looking for space/astronaut related adjectives I guess.
    Kabbor was trying to say in his thought experiment you would take everything anomalous and interesting and put it aside from the universe. But the problem with that is that the universe is thought to have started with an anomaly, so you couldn’t really do that. He was assuming that anomalies and intelligent life aren’t a normal (nominal) part of the universe. But they are, you can’t separate the two.
    Until I went and looked it up just now, I thought that astronauts used nominally and anomalous as antonyms. I guess they kinda do, I also see it in physics papers. But they have different origins.

    TheGorilla,
    I like tangents, it’s ok. This is the type of conversations I wish were much more common on here. I actually agree with you now.

    I googled “If god doesn’t need a creator, why does the universe need one?” There’s lots of interesting results, mostly on atheism blogs. This morning I had some time and I also checked out what you were saying. I guess, I was wrong, I now realize that this argument isn’t philosophically rigorous. Like at all. I just remember being a kid and someone saying that to me, it clicked in my head and motivated me to learn about atheism and eventually skepticism. I never closely examined it since then.

    You are right about how it’s not as simple as saying that it’s logically equivalent that the universe doesn’t need a creator. Simple cause and effect logic doesn’t apply for very good metaphysical and astrophysical reasons. Since it’s hard to talk about what happened “before the Big Bang” because time started at that point so a lot of these arguments make no sense…. totally my bad. Just like you said, the universe is contingent, not necessary. It’s totally my fault for not seeing that, because in that same book I mentioned, Hawking talks about how we now have laws of physics that allow for universes to just pop in out of existence all on their own, and how our universe doesn’t have to exist, it just happens to. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s always fun to see a blindspot in my cognition.

  49. Kabboron 30 Nov 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I really don’t want to have to clarify what I meant in my hypothetical, but by setting aside intelligent life, I was referring to an artificial afterlife, a saved portfolio of the interesting bits of the simulation. The next sentence was supposed to be a clarifying thought on the matter, but the whole point of my post appears to have been taken out of the context in which it was intended. It had nothing at all to do with the idea that intelligent life is not normal, and assumes intelligent life will arise naturally.

    I’m hoping that my phrasing was understood as I intended it to the majority of readers. I don’t have any confidence that this in turn will be understood as I intend, for this is the fate of my correspondence. I’m not good at communicating ideas it seems.

  50. BillyJoe7on 30 Nov 2016 at 3:32 pm

    The thing that amuses me in the above discussion is that the sort of god referenced bears absolutely no resemblance to the sort of gods people believe in, except perhaps the 0.000…001% of people who are deists.

  51. cozyingon 30 Nov 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Kabbor,
    Misquoting yourself now? The original reads:
    “…would you set aside a space for interesting anomalies or intelligent life?”
    Not:
    “…but by setting aside intelligent life, I was referring to an artificial afterlife…”
    The next sentence in the original is:
    “Maybe you’d save it to a separate drive and interact with them independently from the context of the universe you made.”

    That’s not an afterlife. That’s a copy. An afterlife is when you live a normal life to completion in the simulation, unable to confirm that an afterlife actually exists, then you pass and live in heaven or the other drive or the special place set aside.

    -From the original how are we supposed to know that by “interesting anomalies or intelligent life” you explicitly only meant living things that could experience a potential afterlife?
    -In the original it doesn’t mention a single thing about an afterlife. Not once.
    -You don’t mention a single time that those interesting anomalies and intelligent life forms will live a normal life in the simulation, then be sustained in the other drive or the portion you left aside from them. This is what would define an “afterlife” in your hypothetical.

    Even with your clarification my point still stands. Many things, including the conditions that gave rise to the universe would also have to be set aside, because they too are anomalous.

    And I was supposed to know that by set aside you meant heaven? Maybe the place set aside is earth. It’s a lovely planet that happens to be a perfect place to live.

  52. hardnoseon 30 Nov 2016 at 6:56 pm

    “I also don’t believe because of all the harm religious thinking does to so many people all over the world, and as a woman I find the inherent misogyny to be a systematic problem.”

    There is no inherent misogyny in religion. Religions are created by their societies, and if a society is male-dominated its religions will be also.

    Believing in an afterlife is unrelated to following a particular religion. There is no reason to decide there is no afterlife just because you disapprove of certain religious systems created by ancient societies.

    I don’t believe in an afterlife or the mythologies of any particular religion. I am a skeptic and I consider the evidence. I also consider ancient belief systems, such as yoga, in which the body is considered to exist on many levels, and only part of it dies at physical death.

    But I do not have any set opinion, I look at the evidence. And the NDE evidence should not be ignored.

    It may be true that most people would like to believe in an afterlife, mainly because they want to be with their departed loved ones again. So yes there is wishful thinking involved.

    But we should not reject an idea merely because we like it. And we can’t assume the afterlife is always pleasant anyway. Atheists have the benefit of not having to worry about hell.

  53. Kabboron 30 Nov 2016 at 8:03 pm

    hardnose,

    It would really be unfortunate to have the elation of finding out there is an afterlife, and then you end up in some kind of unpleasant pit full of souls. Some older religions had that sort of thing, and they were more about not getting killed off by capricious gods, death was straight up bad.

    I only just realised that cozying has just been trolling this whole time. Now I feel silly for my efforts at being reasonable. Such is life I guess.

  54. DrNickon 30 Nov 2016 at 10:09 pm

    cozying is certainly the most boring troll we’ve had on this site in recent memory. Even the likes of HN and egnor can occasionally be relied on for a brief moment of levity, but cozy’s knee-jerk nitpicking contrarianism is particularly tiresome. He’s also clearly not into the whole brevity thing.

  55. chikoppion 30 Nov 2016 at 10:10 pm

    [hardnose] I also consider ancient belief systems, such as yoga, in which the body is considered to exist on many levels, and only part of it dies at physical death.

    Do you give equal credence to all ‘ancient belief systems?’ If not, what methodology do you use to distinguish which are more likely true?

  56. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 1:15 am

    Hardnose,
    “There is no inherent misogyny in religion.”
    Really? Isn’t that like saying religions don’t cause wars, people do? People aren’t perfect, but people get easily motivated to hurt each-other based on religious justifications all the time. Okay so in Catholicism, only males are special enough to be spiritual leaders. If that’s just the culture fine then. But it’s a culture that persisted for quite a long time and has had a measurable impact on the world. Also, I don’t know if you noticed, but the bible isn’t the nicest in its depiction of women. Very few female leads, not too many monologues. Then there’s the Quran… the texts themselves, independent of society, are not too nice. Leviticus and the Quran have a lot in common.

    I didn’t decide there is no afterlife. I mean I even explicitly said that it could exist. I just suspect it doesn’t. I’m an atheist, I don’t think it’s a useful endeavour to believe in it, that’s all. I have respect for religious people, I don’t insult them or attack them personally, like others you can see in this comment thread.

    I took your philosophical point seriously and defended it for you. Everyone just jumped on the bandwagon and attacked you for making a basic point: you can’t prove or disprove a belief. Science doesn’t test the afterlife or god.

    You did a good job, you exposed their biases, they act like critical thinkers, but they made numerous errors in attacking your position. None of them brought up the philosophical underpinnings of the argument, they just saw someone arguing for the afterlife and lost it.

    Not all types of evidence are equal. I agree that the NDE is too powerful a thing to just ignore and brush aside as irrelevant. But we need to look it critically. The NDE evidence isn’t being ignored per say. It’s just not compelling to scientists and other mainstream people looking at this issue from a scientific point of view.

    As skeptics we have tons of examples of this same type of reasoning. We know how UFO believers love to say “even if only 1% of the stories are true, that’s thousands of real UFO sightings!” Carl Sagan once spent time investigating alien abduction stories. He didn’t find them to be significant, he believed that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. NDE evidence is all the same exact type of evidence, anecdote. If you are a skeptic you know that the plural of anecdote isn’t data. It doesn’t matter if you have literally thousands of stories of NDEs. Your argument doesn’t become stronger, it’s still a first hand account of a personal experience.

    Steven Novella debated this topic against someone who wrote a book about NDE. Not too long ago. “Death is not final” was the title. If that would interest you, I recommend it, I learned a lot. It’s just like creationism, you can know a lot about critical thinking and science, but if you don’t have experience with the type of arguments they use you can find yourself in hot water. As was clearly demonstrated in the replies to your comments.

    Essentially, in a poor summary: the scientific evidence shows that it’s pretty unlikely these experiences are nothing more than artifacts of brain activity during traumatic events. The ability for neurosurgeons to produce OBEs in their patients also strikes a pretty significant blow. If people could accurately recall conversations and other things that happened around them while brain dead, maybe we could say it’s something that we should look into, but they don’t. We also have too many stories like that kid who inspired the book and the movie heaven is for real, that kinda ruins your side of the argument.

    To everyone labelling me as a troll,

    Go read what I actually said, it’s right there. Multiple people made the same mistake in attacking hardnose. I pointed it out. You guys insulted, incorrectly described his position and personally attacked him for saying a basic philosophical concept that you learn the first week in philosophy 101.

    Some of the exchanges that happened earlier in this thread, between this community and hardnose, are shameful. But I’m a troll?

    I don’t care what you think of hardnose, he has a right to be here. I mean I guess if enough people complain him or I, or both of us, could get banned. It’s Steve’s place technically. But what I mean is as critical thinkers we are supposed to listen to the other side, take them seriously and challenge them respectfully. He didn’t personally attack and insult you, he pointed out a very legitimate concept. I don’t agree with him, I think it’s a textbook example of motivated reasoning. But the approach to insult him and have some misguided championing of atheism isn’t helpful.

    I’m not sure what exactly is going on here, but some of you must think that just because you are commenting on a blog of a prominent skeptic, it automatically makes you an infallible critical thinker. Wake up, look around, this isn’t paradise.

    Kabbor gave a fictional account what was going on, and everyone ran with it. SteveA gave a personal attack against most religious people on the planet, and used a fecal matter analogy. And on and on it goes. Mumadadd with another false analogy, literally equating proving Santa doesn’t exist with proving the afterlife doesn’t exist. I’m literally the only person to notice these things? Really? Or am I a troll just because I happen to try to clarify and explain hardnose’s specific point and how to attack it without attacking him?

    So if I’m a troll, what does that make those people… bad at their jobs?

    If you just sit there and let people personally attack someone for bringing up a basic logical fact, what does that make you?

  57. CKavaon 01 Dec 2016 at 3:14 am

    Sorry for the long post…

    Probabilities and evidence are relevant when we talk in terms of beliefs and what is proved/unproven. In a philosophical sense it is completely true that nothing is ever 100% proven, nor is anything disproven to 100% but that doesn’t mean that all possibilities are equally likely. Similarly, while ‘scientific facts’ will always be up for revision, in normal conversation and daily life we don’t/can’t treat facts like that. Indeed, it would be possible to function in the world if you actually applied such a stance.

    Cozying made reference to the ontological argument as an illustration of a more reasonable motivation for being an atheist in contrast to the ‘bad’ argument that science has anything to say about God (although now seems to have decided the ontological argument is invalid). But there are lots of other logical and evidential reasons that derive from science to doubt supernaturalism, the existence of an afterlife, and the doctrines of various religions. For me, the strongest case to be made against the existence and God(s)/afterlife comes from a combination of 1) the complete absence of compelling evidence from all areas of ‘hard’ science, and 2) research on the various facets of human psychology that make religious beliefs, including afterlife beliefs, evolutionary useful and cognitively attractive. I would say that the current weight of scientific evidence both hard and soft certainly tilt the scale of probability towards it being human psychology generating a desire for, and confidence in the existence of, an afterlife rather than it being a reality. The Near-Death literature, contrary to hardnose’ summary , largely serves to reaffirm this interpretation both in terms of the religious biases of the main advocates and the strong cultural influence on narratives. And incidentally, none of the above requires ‘championing’ atheism to recognise, hence, I work as a researcher on ritual cognition- usually within a religious context.

    On the issue of hardnose/bans, I think you overestimate the influence that commenters have over Steve. Many have highlighted how unproductive and disruptive his presence is over the years and yet he’s still here. You might currently be more indulgent and generous in your interactions but I suspect that would change after years of interactions and repeated encounters with harnose’ commitment to contrarianism and promoting misunderstanding of fundamental elements of science and critical thinking. I’m not saying that he never makes a reasonable argument, just that your current over the top praise and self-serving portrayal of hardnose as some kind of beleaguered martyr seems to be an opportunistic means to chastise commenters you have a clear grudge against.

    -Additional Cozying Grudge Tangent-

    I was wondering what the context for the spate/animosity referenced above was, and so had a look back through the recent posts until I found the ‘debate’ between ccbowers and cozying under the ‘Post-truth ‘article and the resultant epicly long, super-pedantic rants. I read all of them. It was an intensely frustrating experience and not, as cozying might expect, due to her airtight logic and clear headed thinking being dismissed by a group of bullies. Rather, my frustration derived from cozying’s absolute refusal to acknowledge her initial misinterpretation and subsequent misrepresentations of ccbowers point- regardless of how many people pointed out that her interpretation was idiosyncratic. Instead, she seems to have taken all the disagreement from various responders as evidence that there is a clique in the comment section and that people would only disagree with her view due to the assumed popularity/influence/intimidation(?) of ccbowers.

    I realise this is likely to be futile (and to result in a lengthy rebuttal) but let me just add one more random voice on an issue that I suspect, if cozying sticks around, will be brought up again in many, many unrelated comment threads. I am an infrequent visitor to the blog and an even more irregular commenter. I see some similar names in the comment threads but I don’t think I could tell you any meaningful details about most of the regular posters here. (Aside from hardnose- who has, for years now, consistently displayed an almost pathological lack of critical thinking, coupled with complete confidence in his expertise/understanding of almost every field he ventures to comment on.)

    That lengthy intro is just to highlight that I feel absolutely no social pressure to adhere to some comment thread clique and yet, in my judgement, cozying: You were clearly wrong in the previous thread. And demonstrated not only a complete unwillingness to recognise your mistake/idiosyncratic interpretation but even to entertain the mere possibility that you could be wrong. That’s why people gave up with engaging and why there is little enthusiasm to do so again here with your current points.

    It’s not that you are the only real critical thinker following Steve’s blog, it’s just that engaging with your points doesn’t seem likely to be productive. However, for what it’s worth, I do actually agree with the criticisms you raise in relation to the problematic analogies.

  58. mumadaddon 01 Dec 2016 at 5:50 am

    cozying,

    I think my analogy holds as stated. I agree that it’s not perfect, but all analogies break down at some point; no two things can be perfectly analogous unless they are in fact identical.

    “You cannot find out if the afterlife exists by waiting around or investigating. The reason the afterlife is such a genius cognitive virus is that you can only find out after you pass away. And you can’t come back and tell people about it. That’s the point. You can trace the purchasing of the presents, track your parents, record them talking about how they fooled you. These are not things you can do about an unfalsifiable claim.”

    [My bold] The point I wished to make (and I’ll state it without analogy) is that, in my opinion, the afterlife has been falsified, in every practical sense. The only sense in which it hasn’t, is the kind of certainty reserved for mathematical proofs and ‘metaphysical certitudes’. You would essentially have to reject everything we know about biology and physics in order to maintain a coherent belief in the afterlife, or posit something in addition to world as we understand it, with no supporting evidence at all (and this sort of belief is equivalent to any other magic anyone can invent).

    Reread my analogy, and ask yourself if it conveys the point I wished to make.

  59. BillyJoe7on 01 Dec 2016 at 6:04 am

    CKava,

    Your post is spot on.
    I think you are also spot on that this will be followed by an overlong pedantically semantic reply.
    Of course, having seen this prediction, cozy might, in contrarian fashion, reply in one dismissive sentence.

    “I do actually agree with the criticisms you raise in relation to the problematic analogies”

    Yes, they were unfortunate.
    Personally, I would have gone for the “The Faery At The Bottom Of My Garden” ambit:

    The Faery revealed Herself to me a few decades ago and told me that god is not real. She told me that She is the only supernatural being who have ever existed and will ever exist. She told me that She will reveal Herself once more, not necessarily in my lifetime, and that all the peoples of the Earth, and throughout the Universe, will come to know the truth about god.

  60. BillyJoe7on 01 Dec 2016 at 6:18 am

    mumadadd,

    I didn’t see your reply before I posted.

    “the afterlife has been falsified, in every practical sense. The only sense in which it hasn’t, is the kind of certainty reserved for mathematical proofs and ‘metaphysical certitudes’. You would essentially have to reject everything we know about biology and physics in order to maintain a coherent belief in the afterlife, or posit something in addition to world as we understand it, with no supporting evidence at all”

    Well said.
    Compare that with the commonn version of the Cosmological Argument:

    Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    The Universe began to exist.
    Therefore, the Universe had a cause.
    Therefore the cause lies outside the Universe.
    Therefore, by definition, God exists.
    And, by definition, God has no cause.

    I’ve never seen a more worthless argument.
    It’s either self-refuting or assumes the existence of the metaphysical dimension in which God – whose existence you are trying to prove! – is said to exist.

  61. mumadaddon 01 Dec 2016 at 6:52 am

    BJ7,

    “I’ve never seen a more worthless argument.”

    Agreed, I despise the KCA. Not sure if you’ve ever heard Craig try to bridge the gap between ‘external cause’ and ‘personal god’ — it’s hilarious.

  62. SteveAon 01 Dec 2016 at 7:20 am

    HN: “But we should not reject an idea merely because we like it.”

    Er… Does that happen often?

    HN: “And we can’t assume the afterlife is always pleasant anyway.”

    You assume everything else, why not that?

    HN: “Atheists have the benefit of not having to worry about hell.”

    Aah. That must be the source of my motivated reasoning. I want to do unpleasant things and not worry about the consequences.

    To paraphrase Penn Jillette, “I’ve already raped and murdered all the people I’ll ever want to – i.e. zero.”

  63. SteveAon 01 Dec 2016 at 7:43 am

    Cozying: “You guys insulted, incorrectly described his position and personally attacked him for saying a basic philosophical concept that you learn the first week in philosophy 101.”

    Excuse me, which “basic philosophical concept” was that? Did you mean the one about it being impossible to refute an afterlife?

    I’d describe that more as a banal truism.

    The next time you look at a potted plant, imagine that it’s the manifestation of a supreme being that has, for its own amusement, just imagined you and the rest of the universe into existence. It could be true, it’s impossible to disprove.

    So saying the afterlife can’t be disproved is to throw that idea into an infinite pool of other un-disprovable possibilities. If you want to wallow in all that, go ahead. Without evidence, there’s nothing to fish the afterlife out of the water, and you’ve already agreed that the ‘evidence’ HN posited was worthless.

  64. Bill Openthalton 01 Dec 2016 at 7:57 am

    BillyJoe7 —

    I’ve never seen a more worthless argument.

    Arguably, Aquinas’ fourth way (argument from perfection) is even more worthless.

    But in your rewording of Aquinas’ second way, you did leave out a central postulate — that there cannot be an infinite regress of causation. It is this postulate that “proves” the existence of god (the “unmoving mover”, “uncaused cause”, etc.). To quote Aquinas:

    The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God. (Summa Theologica, First part, Question 2, Article 3)

    If the universe is uncaused, then the universe is god. At best, this is an argument for deism, certainly not theism, and most definitely not for the christian god.

  65. tmac57on 01 Dec 2016 at 9:24 am

    Bill Openthalt- Understandably, Aquinas was extrapolating about the universe in respect to what he could observe, the universe that he found himself in. Cause and effect seems pretty ubiquitous. But what can we say about cause and effect in an unformed pre-universe state?
    That may only be a feature emergent from the big bang for example. I personally have a hard time understanding what that would be like, but that’s merely an argument from ignorance on my part. Just like imagining an infinite existence of space time, what would that be like? I can’t really grasp it, so it seems unlikely whether it is or not.

  66. mumadaddon 01 Dec 2016 at 9:54 am

    Bill O,

    “But in your rewording of Aquinas’ second way”

    I thought the cosmological argument was an old Islamic argument, reworded as the ‘Kalam’ by modern Christians.

  67. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 11:47 am

    Ckava,
    Thank for your reply. About the other comments. I did say pretty early on that we talked past eachther. I also admitted that I misquoted amount. Your depiction as me just refusing to admit to making mistakes is wrong.

    Cc made numerous mistakes in the subsequent interaction. After the misunderstanding.

    Cc:
    -said multiple times that polling error is explicitly “never random”
    -misunderstood statisticians knowledge of a systematic error
    -used inappropriate analogies, attacked me personally (I never attacked him)
    -justified these personal attacks as “not pulling any punches.” Because that’s what critical thinking is right?
    -conflated polling results with actual results numerous times throughout his arguments: paraphrasing “the electoral college stops the cancelling out of polling errors from being significant” what does that even mean?
    -tried to use post hoc reasoning to argue why trump won the election based on very flimsy polling data and very early info
    -claimed that only ignorant people who didn’t closely follow the election were “shocked” despite me presenting tons of evidence to the contrary, he kept brushing this off and him and others used ad absurdism to debate the meaning of shocked vs surprised.

    Just because someone admits to making mistakes earlier in an argument doesn’t mean everything you said during it was correct and justified.

    This is fallacious reasoning, you even tried to do it again by attacking a small part of my very breif argument for atheism. I did concede that thegorrilla was right about the bad logic I used. That doesn’t mean everything else I had to say is automatically wrong. I never said “the following is a perfect argument for atheism” I said look here’s some reasons to not believe in an afterlife that have nothing to do with kabbor’s very incorrect framing of metaphysics.

    Multiple people have taken my self admission that I misunderstood an extremely poorly written sentence, as defeat and proof cc was right about literally everything.

    Sorry but all those people, including you, are wrong. I did admit to not understanding a sentence with poor grammatical structure, “that that” appears multiple times. That doesn’t automatically mean you win.

    All you and others are doing is advocating for never apologizing, notice cc never apologized or conceded an single point. Because if you do apologize or admit to a small misunderstanding everyone will point to it as evidence and ignore anything new you have to say.

    I don’t know anything about hardnose. All I have is his words in like two comment threads. Your, and others argument against him, in this thread, are an ad hominem. It doesn’t matter if someone has a pattern of trolllike behaviour, you can’t ignore what they are saying to attack them and insult them and label them. It just so happens that this time had a point. A basic logical fact that people kept misunderstanding. You can’t use science to prove or disprove an unfalsifiable claim. Sorry. But everything you said about evidence from different sources doesn’t change that philosophical principle. Doesn’t matter if you are a researcher.

    Religious people can always argue that the afterlife is undetectable and that the point of faith is to believe despite evidence.

  68. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 11:52 am

    Hardnose also provided a perfect example of what religious people say all the time. His arguments are perfectly in line with new age open minded people. Instead of using it as a great example to show what critical thinking is, you chose to attack him. Keep in mind there are lots of new readers and commenters that don’t know you or hardnose and just see the bashing of a pretty common perspective, instead of a good argument.

  69. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Steven Novella always makes reference to how much we, as skeptics, can learn from rigourous philosophy. His ongoing correspondence with Massimo, which he sometimes shares, is very illuminating.

    In this specific case in the comments, hardnose hit on a philosophical truth about the nature of the philosophy of modern science. You don’t get to sidestep it so easily and insult him.

    The point I was making is that we don’t have to live in fear of the fact that we can’t disprove the afterlife. There’s lots of unfalsifiable claims, like the invisible dragon in Sagan’s garage. There’s plenty of intellectual ways around it that don’t involve insulting all the religious people on the planet.

    Most of the arguments presented here against hardnose did not even recognize the correct philosophical issue. I did, I provided a much more charitable approach to this position and approached it in a respectful way. And for that I got labeled a troll.

    The arguments here between specific people don’t have much of an impact on the participants. I always feel like I learn something, thegorilla pointed out a pretty basic flaw in my logic that’s been with me since I was a kid, I learned from it and appreciated it. But I have no doubt that I didn’t influence cc at all in the previous exchange. I doubt hardnose cares about anything I had to say. But it’s always my hope that onlookers notice the difference in the communication styles. I approached the issue as an exercise in critical thinking, tried to communicate in a way that would be respectful.

    As a community we have to keep in mind that the world is watching. Attacking a “troll” isn’t helping. And especially if this “troll” is on a skeptic blog, by attacking him personally and ignoring his points, you are losing, he just exposed your personal bias, you heard “I’m arguing for religion” and saw red.

    You are what you do, if you don’t practice communicating clearly, you get intellectually lazy.

    Think about if you were a first time reader of this blog, you read the article above and then these comments. Let’s assume you are slightly new age and are trying to dip your toes into skepticism. You would probably side with hardnose.

    Hardnose echoed very common pop culture new age arguments. His arguments are very popular positions in lots of popular books on spirituality and among “experts,” especially the NDEs thing, tons of people love those.

    You then see comment after comment ignore something you learned in philosophy 101 and attack and insult him.

    I firmly believe that you would be pretty turned off and pushed away from skepticism. I also know that Steven Novella doesn’t agree with this approach. He is always kind and respectful in his treatment of sensitive issues like this, and he always makes the point that skepticism is not atheism. He also understands that when you attack someone personally, or poke directly at these religious nerves, you bring their guard up and they look for any reason to dismiss what you have to say.

  70. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I quick look at all the recent comments exemplifies every single point I have been making:

    Mumadadd: “the afterlife has been falsified…”

    Defending another one of his false analogies. I encourage anyone to go see my reply to his “mayonnaise is hollandaise” analogy. Santa is a falsifiable claim, you can easily prove your parents lied and trace the origin of the gifts, to somewhere other than a factory at the North Pole. The belief in the afterlife is not the same type of claim, not even close.

    Billy: Cheerleading again. Repeating false arguments other people have made, including mummadad’s. Deja vu. Just like the previous comment thread.

    SteveA: [which “basic philosophical concept” was that?]

    Flat out ignoring multiple explanations about how science doesn’t test unfalsifiable claims.

    The modern philosophy of experimental science, and the statistical representation of it, deal with falsifiable claims. If a hypothesis cannot be falsified than it’s not a legitimate hypothesis, it’s not a question we can answer with scientific evidence and investigation.

    Modern scientific theory isn’t “materialism,” that’s now how we see the world. It’s much closer to scientific realism or model-dependent realism. This is a metaphysical point that no one was yet to acknowledge.

    This is what hardnose said:

    [ “Do these authors really think it is benign to distract children from one of the central lessons of existence with a pervasive myth about a magical heaven?”

    Steve N “knows” there is no afterlife. I thought that was something we can’t know for certain until we die. I have to wonder why a “skeptic,” whose beliefs are supposedly based on evidence, arrived at such an unscientific and ideological conclusion.

    It’s true that most of the pro-afterlife evidence is experiential, rather than experimental. But the anti-afterlife evidence does not exist. It is pure materialist faith.]

    Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but he has a point. I don’t agree with the way he expressed it, I think he misused some key terms, and misunderstood what Steven was trying to say, and I think he was talking about “pet heaven” not people heaven. Regardless his point is a great instructive opportunity for critical thinkers.

    “Anti-afterlife evidence does not exist.” Everyone who replied jumped on that and missed the point. You provided evidence from a materialistic world view that challenged it. You didn’t really see that you technically cannot disprove the afterlife. Which is clearly what he expressed.

  71. TheGorillaon 01 Dec 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Billyjoe7 – it’s historically inaccurate to say that nobody believes in that sort of God. As in that’s been the concept in monotheistic philosophy and theology for many, many centuries. I mean, Catholicism? Maybe you forgot about them. Not everyone is a Bible belter. Good to remember that

  72. chikoppion 01 Dec 2016 at 3:26 pm

    [cozying] You didn’t really see that you technically cannot disprove the afterlife. Which is clearly what he expressed.

    Technically, you can’t disprove leprechauns. It is not therefore reasonable to assess the potential interference of leprechauns when investigating reality.

    The set of things that cannot be disproven is vast and contradictory. That is why the premise of belief (in a Bayesian sense) is positive evidence, not the lack of exclusionary evidence.

    Is thought which persists separate from the physical, chemical, and electrical processes of the body proven to be impossible? No. Does the available evidence indicate that the likelihood of such is vanishingly small? Yes. Where new evidence may indicate otherwise, it will be investigated. However, the value of that evidence will also be evaluated against all prior evidence that exists.

    You should also be aware that you are stepping into a long-running conversation and may not appreciate the history behind some of these arguments. Sometimes, the seeming abruptness is due to an awareness that the points have been discussed at greater length elsewhere.

  73. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Cute story about leprechauns. I clearly said the example about the dragon in Sagan’a garage. Clearly I’m familiar with these concepts.

    The sentiment you are expressing right now is not what others have expressed.

    My issue isn’t that I’m mad people are saying the afterlife doesn’t exist. I’m an antheist. I’m frustrated at the denial of a basic philosophical point and the personal attacks. Also the misinterpretation of metaphysics.

    Once again, mentioning the long history of the argument, is irrelevant to the personal attacks and insults levelled against him in this thread. By saying that you are justifying ad hominems.

  74. steve12on 01 Dec 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Getting caught up with this thread, and I have some descriptive stats re: cozying’s posts:

    40% are admonishments to not attack others
    40% are attacks on others
    15% semantic arguments that don’t mean much
    5% trite truths

    Miss anything?

  75. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 5:12 pm

    “Is thought which persists separate from the physical, chemical, and electrical processes of the body proven to be impossible? No. Does the available evidence indicate that the likelihood of such is vanishingly small?”

    This is a specific description/definition of the vague concept of “afterlife” that hardnose mentioned. But there are other forms that are much less restrictive. Maybe the afterlife is just another dimension, and when we pass on, we just lose awareness of this one. Or maybe you are literally remade in your ideal image in a new place. Maybe this is all an illusion and when we pass on it all makes sense and is understood in a new way. There’s many different religions that have concepts that don’t fit with your model.

    Asking a specific question like “does thought persist independent of biological processes?” doesn’t disprove the afterlife. If you do this, you are looking that the problem with lots of assumptions. One of which is pretty heavily influenced by the history of materialism in science. Religious people can just look at that and say you didn’t find the answer, but I don’t think most theologians would agree that it’s useful to even try looking.

    Actual religious philosophers make arguments about how it doesn’t matter that there is no evidence. They also say stuff like the evidence is all around you. But ultimately they can always argue that faith is about believing in god and following his instructions without perfect evidence. Because if it was easy and there was evidence that god is real then what’s so special about it? God is all powerful after all, he could just announce everyday that he is real, and perform miracles, but he doesn’t. Because it’s a test. A challenge, that only the faithful can pass.

    Matter isn’t all that exists. Not even if you include energy, including dark energy, and matter, you still aren’t accounting for everything out there. Science hasn’t gotten much closer to definitively revealing the fundamental underlying structure of reality in the last 100 years, if anything we’ve become less confident, with the death of positivism and the emergence of realism. This is why people still have work as philosophers of science and metaphysics and why these topics are hotly debated.

    When people like hardnose encounter people who express absolute confidence in science, they don’t have to go far to find evidence to the contrary.

    You aren’t doing a good thing by claiming absolutely for sure that there is no heaven. You are misrepresenting science and hugely misunderstanding it’s limitations. You are also ignoring the relevant philosophical details.

  76. steve12on 01 Dec 2016 at 5:30 pm

    cozying:

    Everyone knows you can’t prove a negative.

    And you’re right: Chikoppi did not cover the total space of possible afterlives. And that means what exactly? You claim to understand Sagan’s Dragon, but you sure have a hard time applying it. Turns out despite the infinity of possible afterlives, there isn’t any good evidence for any of them.

    **I MUST SAY HERE: I am not saying that I disproved the afterlife!!! Heavens no! (pun intended)**

    And then the rest of it is just as trite, but of a different flavor. Dr.TheTroll (Hardnose, possibly Egnor) has been selling it forever: we don’t know everything so we don’t know anything. To prove your point, you need to invoke “metaphysics” which is more or less French for nonsense.

    There are questions that science cannot answer, and for which science makes assumptions. Using those assumptions as some sort of deconstruction of science isn’t just trite: it’s ridiculous.

  77. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Steve12,
    Metaphysics is French for nonsense?

    Just because you don’t know about the specific philosophy doesn’t give you the right to insult it. Your statements are pretty huge indicators of your limitations. This is starting to remind me a lot of Neil de grasse Tyson and Massimo Pigliucci. https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/neil-degrasse-tyson-and-the-value-of-philosophy/

    A lot of the discussion in the comments after hardnose’s thing was a conversation about metaphysics and the philosophy of science. If you didn’t realize it that’s okay. But he clearly mentioned materialism and kabbor incorrectly described the philosophical framework of science and what scientists do. These are metaphysical concepts.

    I’m a fan of science. I never argued against the value of science or tried to deconstruct it. Saying that the belief in the afterlife is falsifiable is a pretty basic philosophical error. Science doesn’t work to falsify unfalsifiable claims. These are pretty common concepts.

    Expressing absolute confidence that an unfalsifiable claim is actually fiction, isn’t intellectually rigorous. And when this claim happens to be a religious concept, it’s a disservice to the majority of the planet to label them and insult them.

    I simply pointed out that hardnose’s comment in this thread was actually a great example of common arguments, that we could have given good arguments against. He had a philosophical point. It wasn’t nothing and it didn’t deserve the attack it got.

    Brushing aside metaphysics and things like the difference between a falsifiable claim and an unfalsifiable claim is just not appropriate. And if you can’t appreciate the difference between materialism and scientific realism then you didn’t do your homework. Scientists don’t directly observe the nature of reality. That doesn’t mean religions people win, just that there is real mystery and unknown unknowns in the world.

  78. Steve Crosson 01 Dec 2016 at 6:52 pm

    cozying — re: hardnose

    Once again, mentioning the long history of the argument, is irrelevant to the personal attacks and insults levelled against him in this thread. By saying that you are justifying ad hominems.

    I find it curious that you have chosen to try to defend hardnose. You claim to have some understanding of how Dr. Novella chooses to run this blog and how he prefers to engage with opposing views. And you have the audacity to lecture us on how to be proper skeptics.

    BUT, if you truly do have enough familiarity with Neurologica to try to claim the moral high ground, then there is no way in hell that you could be unfamiliar with hardnose’s long and sordid history. He has been a prolific and unapologetic troll for years. Every single “point” he has ever made (including his comment in this thread) has been carefully and patiently refuted dozens or even hundreds of times. He refuses to engage honestly and just keeps repeating the same drivel ad infinitum. Hardnose is an unrepentant troll that is more than deserving of a few ad hominem comments.

    You, on the other hand, do not appear to be a troll — or at least not the garden variety that just likes to disrupt for the hell of it. Nope. You are something entirely different. You are just an insecure, pedantic, extremely verbose concern troll.

  79. Bill Openthalton 01 Dec 2016 at 7:28 pm

    mumadadd —
    I didn’t realise BillyJoe7 was refering to William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological argument. Aquinas’ second way is a more sophisticated version, which deals with the obvious regression problem at the cost of becoming a mere argument for deism. I never understood why Craig’s argument was considered philosophically sophisticated, considering he never manages to make the case for theism.

  80. tmac57on 01 Dec 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Apropos of nothing, did anyone here ever have a sockpuppet as a toy as a kid?
    No reason.

  81. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Let’s assume all of that is true about the history of hardnose.

    Then you still didn’t explain why people who’ve been here for years, are still attacking him personally.

    Sounds like you are just another person openly justifying ad hominems.

    It’s being a concern troll to point out: maybe stop attacking the dude for saying mainstream new age arguments? Maybe attack the argument not the person?

    And why are these same people even acknowledging his existence. Aren’t you supposed to starve a troll? I wasn’t the first person to respond to him. I think it was a bit before I got sick of all the bad arguments and decided to comment.

    If it’s true that his points have been refuted so many times, why is that the arguments against him in this thread are so bad and contain many errors?

    In all those years you guys didn’t learn the difference between unfalsifiable and falsifiable? How you can’t prove or disprove a belief? How modern science isn’t materialism? How people are watching and it’s instructive to actually provide a respectful argument instead of a personal attack? How your personal attacks look to new readers?

  82. Steve Crosson 01 Dec 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Umm… Little help here please.

    What’s the rule?

    Is it:

    Starve a troll, feed a concern troll?

    Or is it the other way around?

  83. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 8:02 pm

    That’s right, when your argument gets destroyed, call on some cheerleaders to come to your defence.

    Take the time to write something here, but don’t actually address the person who took the time to read what you had to say, take it seriously, and form a reply.

  84. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Oh that’s right, I forgot. You can’t reply in full because that’s “verbose and pedantic,” and it’s being a “concern troll” to actually care about attacking the argument not the person. My bad guys.

  85. chikoppion 01 Dec 2016 at 8:23 pm

    [cozying] Once again, mentioning the long history of the argument, is irrelevant to the personal attacks and insults levelled against him in this thread. By saying that you are justifying ad hominems.

    No, I am saying there is reason for the tone and abruptness of the comments in this particular exchange between these particular participants. I think everyone here, including hardnose (who can certainly give as good as he gets) is perfectly capable of assessing how to best express themselves without your intervention, well-meaning though it may be.

    [cozying] This is a specific description/definition of the vague concept of “afterlife” that hardnose mentioned. But there are other forms that are much less restrictive. Maybe the afterlife is just another dimension, and when we pass on, we just lose awareness of this one. Or maybe you are literally remade in your ideal image in a new place. Maybe this is all an illusion and when we pass on it all makes sense and is understood in a new way. There’s many different religions that have concepts that don’t fit with your model.

    You completely missed the point of my comment, which is when it is reasonable to adopt belief. If the objective standard is so low as to necessitate belief in mutually exclusive premises then the epistemological framework is insufficient.

    It is possible to say “I certainly don’t believe it is true” without saying “I know that it is false.”

    [cozying] You aren’t doing a good thing by claiming absolutely for sure that there is no heaven. You are misrepresenting science and hugely misunderstanding it’s limitations. You are also ignoring the relevant philosophical details.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth.

  86. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Saying that there is a reason for the tone and the abruptness is literally justifying it. That’s what the words mean. You literally came in an provided multiple rationalizations for personal attacks against hardnose. Not once did you denounce a specific offensive thing people here said. Don’t want to be labelled a concern troll? Well you are actively doing the opposite.

    About the testing of thought and other relevant afterlives: my point was that you simplified and defined the term afterlife in a cute testable way that is heavily influenced by materialism. I’m not saying I disagree with such attempts. But that’s not proof to a religious person.

    Did not put words in your mouth. See the context of the preceding sentences to understand why, for example:
    “When people like hardnose encounter people who express absolute confidence in science, they don’t have to go far to find evidence to the contrary.”

  87. Steve Crosson 01 Dec 2016 at 8:57 pm

    cozying:

    I’m pretty sure you are no more likely to change your mind than hardnose, but I’ll make an exception this time.

    Your “points” have already been accurately characterized as “semantic arguments that don’t mean much and trite truths”. Others have already adequately refuted them.

    You lost all credibility earlier when you wasted our time pedantically complaining about our failure to understand “synonyms” and whether stating a direction necessarily implies a particular amount.

    Any reasonable and honest person knows that shock is a more intense emotion than surprise. For every cherry-picked definition you can find that says “synonyms are equivalent”, I can find many more that more accurately describe them as similar or even nearly identical — but distinct.

    Unfortunately, that has been your consistent pattern. You either ignorantly or willfully misunderstand virtually every comment made and then construct a straw man argument to tear down.

    I get that you are excited that you got an “A” in Philosophy 101, but before you lecture the rest of us, you would be well advised to listen more and ask questions instead.

    At the moment, you’re just pretentious and boring.

  88. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 9:52 pm

    “semantic arguments that don’t mean much and trite truths”.

    The fact that you think that these words are an objective argument speaks volumes just on its own. You quoted that?! Embarrassing. I shouldn’t even have to make an argument, I should just be able to point at it.

    You know, sometimes semantical distinctions matter. Actually the difference between falsifiable and unfalsifiable matters. Just like it matters that modern science isn’t materialism. The philosophy of science matters, it’s important to note that science doesn’t test unfalsifiable claims. We formulate and test hypotheses that can be disproven. I’ve designed and run multiple experiments, taken multiple graduate level classes in experimental design and statistics, I know you cannot disprove a belief, it’s apples to oranges. Claiming that religious belief is clearly fiction and science proves it is just wrong. You are further isolating people away from our movement and misrepresenting it at the same time. I’m not an atheist because of the scientific evidence, (see all the arguments I made that religious people use to undervalue the evidence), I’m an atheist because of the logical philosophical reasoning behind it, and real world ramifications of belief.

    The person you are quoting also said metaphysics is French for nonsense.

    Guess the Stanford encyclopedia of of philosophy is wrong then huh? Metaphysics isn’t a massive area in philosophy? Scientific realism vs materialism isn’t a metaphysical topic? Guess all those philosophers are out of work.

    You conflated the synonym arguments with the polling error analogy arguments. Further showing your lack of intellectual honesty.

    Billyjoe absolutely misused the word synonym multiple times. It’s not up for debate. He literally said that the words “shocked” and “surprised,” “cannot be synonyms” but they are and don’t stop being synonymous because you try to use them in two different ways. Oh and your understanding of this word, and argument about cherry picking definitions is completely wrong. Synonym doesn’t mean exact same. Never has. It means same or nearly the same meaning in basically every dictionary. Synonymy refers to a similarity in the meaning of two different words.

    About the polls, I explicitly mentioned how one poll can’t be off in a direction without it also being off by an amount in a direction. That’s a tautological argument that multiple people ignored and denied. His analogies don’t apply to single polls, magnitude and direction cannot be separated in a single poll. It was also the source of my self admitted misunderstanding of a poorly crafted sentence.

    Back to shock and surprise: literally go read what I said. You and others used the fallacy ad absurdium to bring it down to a debate about shocked vs surprised, I never promoted this.

    I clearly challenged the statements that they made about: how they weren’t shocked, only the ignorant people who didn’t follow the election were shocked.

    I expressed doubt and said that’s it’s interesting they feel that way because tons of experts and pundits were shocked.

    Keep personally attacking me while you make tons of mistakes, that’s how you think critically folks!

  89. ccbowerson 01 Dec 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Cozying bringing me up again. Misrepresenting my arguments and cherry picking quotes I never said like:

    ” ‘the electoral college stops the cancelling out of polling errors from being significant.’ What does that even mean”

    Umm. I don’t know, I didn’t write that, you wrote it. So why are you using quotation marks?

    Please look into the proper use of quotation marks- you don’t seem to know what they are used for. You have done this many times. In fact you have written so many misrepresentations of what people say, it is hard to imagine you are not intentionally being intellectually dishonest. It is not just me, as we have now seen it again and again. Then you blame others for being unclear. Maybe it is YOU?

    When you make up quotes like above,
    – Switch words (like ‘direction’ with ‘amount,’ then argue that the switch is fine because you can’t have a direction without amount) Ok you can’t have velocity without direction, so I can swap these words in a quote?
    – Switching “shocked” with “surprise” and argue that it is fine, because they are synonyms, while ignoring the obvious- I was making a distinction of degree
    – Saying that I said “slow progress is more likely than radical change,” which cannot even be tortured out of what I wrote.

    Don’t mistake being a contrarian and argumentative with skepticism. You seem to think they are the same. We already have one hardnose.

  90. chikoppion 01 Dec 2016 at 10:32 pm

    [cozying]Saying that there is a reason for the tone and the abruptness is literally justifying it. That’s what the words mean. You literally came in an provided multiple rationalizations for personal attacks against hardnose. Not once did you denounce a specific offensive thing people here said. Don’t want to be labelled a concern troll? Well you are actively doing the opposite.

    Yes. That is what I am saying. In this narrow application there is justification. There is a personal history that is shared among the participants in the conversation. It goes both ways and is part of existing interpersonal relationships.

    I didn’t tell you what not to say, I tried to make you aware that there were extenuating circumstances you were likely not considering that justifiably color the conversation in ways you might not understand. Take it or leave it.

    [cozying] About the testing of thought and other relevant afterlives: my point was that you simplified and defined the term afterlife in a cute testable way that is heavily influenced by materialism. I’m not saying I disagree with such attempts. But that’s not proof to a religious person.

    And my point is that your rebuttal, in alluding to other hypothetical scenarios, was not a counter to my observation about rational epistemology. Claiming that a near-infinite variety of ‘maybes’ exist doesn’t mean that belief in any of them is justified, even if none of them can be falsified.

    Again, to simplify the point: It is possible to say “I certainly don’t believe it is true” without saying “I know that it is false.”

    I’m not trying to disabuse anyone of religion. I’m expressing why I don’t accept a particular set of premises.

    [cozying] Did not put words in your mouth. See the context of the preceding sentences to understand why, for example: “When people like hardnose encounter people who express absolute confidence in science, they don’t have to go far to find evidence to the contrary.”

    I did not express absolute confidence in ‘science.’ I also decidedly did not claim “absolutely for sure there is no heaven,” which is what you accused me of claiming (even if you meant ‘in spirit’ and not verbatim).

    I actually don’t think we’re far apart in sentiment. The words just keep getting in the way.

  91. cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Cc, the quote of mine you used literally has “paraphrasing” right before it. Cute of you to leave that out, huh? Also you left out the context.

    It’s really interesting that your rant about me intentionally misinterpreting you, starts with those glaring omissions.

    Here it is:
    [-conflated polling results with actual results numerous times throughout his arguments: paraphrasing “the electoral college stops the cancelling out of polling errors from being significant” what does that even mean?]

    If you, or anyone on here, thinks that me bringing up the fact that the word “paraphrasing” precedes the exact thing you selected, is “overly pedantic” or “semantical” of me. I will lose my mind. It’s literally in the same sentence.

    This is your original, it actually does exist, you actually did say this:

    “Polling errors can cancel each other out in the big picture, but because we have electoral college, this “cancelling out” doesn’t have meaningful results for anything other than total vote counts.”

    This statement makes literally no sense. Polling errors and the electoral college + actual votes have nothing to do with each other. You are equating polling data with real votes. That’s the only possible way this statement can mean anything. We all know that polls have been wrong for decades in presidential races. Even under closer to ideal circumstances polls don’t equal real votes. Your entire argument is a post hoc fallacy, that interestingly has literally nothing to do with my misunderstanding of your poorly written sentence.

    I’m not replying to you ever again cc. As I just demonstrated, you intentionally misrepresent everything I say and lie about your own words.

    When your arguments get countered you abandon them so deftly that people like ckava, kabbor and billy didn’t even notice all the positions you took and dropped.

    They also didn’t notice a single one of your personal attacks or mention your justification of them as “not pulling any punches.” Because as skeptics we need to “punch” people and insult them to get our point across, right? And when people don’t agree it’s okay to personally attack them.

    It wouldn’t be a problem, if people actually paid attention, but they don’t. They take your terribly flawed arguments like the above example and run with it as gospel because they are too lazy to actually investigate. I have no doubt that your new horrible example will be used in an argument against me soon enough.

    chikoppi,

    “I actually don’t think we’re far apart in sentiment. The words just keep getting in the way.”

    I hope so and I like to think so. I’ve read a lot of your comments on here. We have a lot of common ground that we are ignoring, I agree.

    I have respect for you, the things you say and actually agree with tons of specific points you make. But I feel like if I highlight them people will freak out and never stop talking about them as evidence for how I’m wrong about everything. As has literally happened multiple times in my what? 9 days on here? You give an inch they take a mile.

    I said multiple times that I made a basic assumption of a poorly written sentence. That doesn’t make me a dumb person, illiterate etc. Ckava literally said I don’t admit to making mistakes and pointed out examples of me admitting to making mistakes in the same rant. It doesn’t matter if you are a researcher, you can still make basic philosophical errors. Check out the critical reviews of Sam Harris’ work, by philosophers. If you think philosophers have nothing to say, it would blow your mind. Sam Harris ignored literally hundreds of years of moral philosophy to write the moral landscape. You would think as a neuroscientist, studying and writing about morality, you would want to do that research. But it’s just like Neil de Grasse Tyson saying philosophy has nothing useful to contribute. Somehow it’s okay to ignore the fact that philosophers work with scientists everyday, and that Karl Popper’s philosophy of science is the foundation for the modern experimental method. Before Karl popper we didn’t do science how we do it now.

    I admit I was totally wrong in my perception of what it would be like in commenting on this blog. I assumed everyone on here would be like better/smarter than me. Like more rigorous and logical. There are people on here that are intellectually rigorous like you. But I also see a lot of personal attacks.

    As we can see time and time again people just get into a herd mentality and quote mistakes other people made as evidence for their claims. Like literally everything billy or mummadad has said to me is flat out wrong or a personal attack. That’s really interesting to me. Then it gets quoted and used as evidence against me. It’s a total joke. I’m embarrassed for skepticism as a movement, well not really. These comments are not a good representation of the community. Obviously people like that are only motivated to stir the pot and cheerlead. If they had anything meaningful to say they could offer it up instead.

    If you can’t look up a word in the dictionary and realize you misused it, I’m sorry but we can’t be friends. It’s not even a complicated word with 20+ definitions. It has at most 3 definitions in every source I checked online. I also explained it in detail many times. He kept misusing it even when presented with the definition and the correct way to say what he was trying to express. And mummadad literally has said multiple times that Santa belief is as falsifiable as the afterlife. Even when it’s explained in detail. And these are just the obviously incorrect examples. When it gets more complicated, people flat out tell me metaphysics is a joke. And that it’s semantics to distinguish between falsifiable and unfalsifiable claims.

    I’m deeply conflicted and saddened by these exchanges.

  92. mumadaddon 01 Dec 2016 at 11:55 pm

    “Apropos of nothing, did anyone here ever have a sockpuppet as a toy as a kid?
    No reason.”

    Tmac, I didn’t want to be the first to say it, so thank you.

  93. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 1:44 am

    Cozying, do you not see anything hypocritical in tone policing other’s interactions and saying that previous interactions shouldn’t be factored in to replies, and then immediately making posts which are based on grudges related to previous debates and denigrate other commenters who disagree with you as online harassers, bad critical thinkers, and part of some online bullying clique?

    You also seem to be ignoring the fact that pretty much everyone on here as already recognised you cannot 100% disprove ANYTHING but also pointed out that it does not therefore follow that we should act as if everything is equally probably. This point was even expressed multiple times in the thread prior to your first comment, for example:

    MosBen: “The burden of proof is on the person making a claim that something exists. People who do not have faith in an afterlife do not believe that that burden has been met and choose not to believe in something that they feel has not been proven. It’s not dogma; it’s a standard of evidence.”
    tmac57: “It’s possible to prove that something does exist to a reasonable certainty, but how would you produce evidence of non-existence? The goal posts for such a claim would literally be infinite.
    Therefore the burden of proof lies with those who make extraordinary claims that something exists. You cannot disprove an afterlife. I personally see it as wildly improbable, and I don’t think that there has ever been good evidence for it, so therefore I do not accept the concept of an afterlife as real, but proving my position…I can’t see a path to that.”

    After you raised the point specifically, it was then repeatedly acknowledged by everyone as being valid but not news, even SteveA described it immediately as a ‘banal truism’. A few posts back chikoppi did a good job of summarising the general consensus on the issue to which you responded by saying: “The sentiment you are expressing right now is not what others have expressed”. But that is not correct, Chikoppi’s sentiment DOES reflect the position presented by most of the commenters you are arguing with. There have been loose analogies and statements which did not employ technical definitions to your satisfaction but focusing on these points to the exclusion of recognising their broader position is engaging in pedantism.

    Moreover, while you got worked up by SteveA’s dismissive and insulting phrasing, you don’t seem to have been as bothered by TheGorilla who had already stated: “we actually can know for certain that there is no afterlife; the concept (as generally conceived) is incoherent.” This seems to suggest a certain selectivity to your objections, suggesting they are perhaps more personally motivated than you recognise. Just a thought.

    A final point that several others have already raised but you have still not addressed:

    Following the exact same argument you employ it would be impossible to argue that science has proven homeopathy does not work. Just like with belief in God, there are plenty of other lines of evidence (including personal experience/testimony) that directly contradict evidence from things like clinical trials or knowledge about chemical properties. Moreover, even if the current clinical evidence strongly suggests that homeopathic remedies are no better than placebo’s they can never actually have completely proven this.

    So I take it then when people ask you if science has proven homeopathy works you say that science cannot say anything on the issue because the scientific method can never ultimately disprove anything? If not, why not?

  94. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 1:53 am

    cozying: “If you, or anyone on here, thinks that me bringing up the fact that the word “paraphrasing” precedes the exact thing you selected, is “overly pedantic” or “semantical” of me. I will lose my mind. It’s literally in the same sentence.”

    It is not common practice to use quotation marks to indicate a paraphrase! You might have tagged what you wrote but standard practice is that quotation marks are for quoting things. What you have done is combined two things that are very rarely combined and acted as if it is entirely normal to do so.

    When I type the phrase: “can quotation marks be used for paraphrasing” into google here is the first response that pops up:

    “When you use a source, you must choose between either quoting the exact words of the source or composing a paraphrase. If you want to use the exact words of the source, you must enclose them in quotation marks and they must accurately reproduce the original.”

    And that is a direct quote, not my paraphrase.

  95. BillyJoe7on 02 Dec 2016 at 4:56 am

    Bill,

    Yes, mumdadd was correct, I was referencing the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

    CKava,

    At the risk of being accused of cheerleading, well done.

    cozy,

    Thanks for selectively quoting me yet again.

  96. SteveAon 02 Dec 2016 at 7:13 am

    CKava: “while you got worked up by SteveA’s dismissive and insulting phrasing”

    I would have preferred ‘blunt’ and ‘forthright’, but I guess it’s a matter of opinion.

    At least I avoided any poop references!

  97. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 8:31 am

    Ckava,
    Another cherrypicked biased interpretation of the events. No mention of the personal attacks against hardnose and a glorification of people’s arrogance. You are not who you claim to be.

    “It is not common practice to use quotation marks to indicate a paraphrase!”

    You know what is a common practise is indicating a paraphrase?

    Saying the word “paraphrasing” right before a thought.

    Here it is:
    [-conflated polling results with actual results numerous times throughout his arguments: paraphrasing “the electoral college stops the cancelling out of polling errors from being significant” what does that even mean?]

  98. Steve Crosson 02 Dec 2016 at 8:55 am

    Just a few completely random observations:

    Everyone knows that ad hominem attacks are generally considered to be an informal logical fallacy because they have nothing whatsoever to do with the truth of the actual discussion topic. That doesn’t mean that the ad hom comments aren’t accurate, and at least occasionally, justified.

    Conversely, playing the ad hom victim card does nothing to support the claimant’s argument.

    Anyone else get the daily emails from Woot? I know it’s just advertising, but I enjoy the interchange between the two mascots, Monte and Mortimer. I know they’re just sockpuppets, but I think they are very entertaining — and oddly familiar.

  99. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 9:39 am

    cozying

    “Metaphysics is French for nonsense?”

    Most often, metaphysics is invoked for the purpose of switching the context of scientific arguments into a philosophical taxonomy, where science is relegated under philosophy. This way, science can be brought down a peg or two by the “philosopher” for its assumptions, which are – fair enough – just that.

    But metaphysics has existed for thousands of years and has produced little. Little Bro Science, on the other hand, has given us more or less all we know about the universe to date – assumptions and all.

    At this point, it’s a rhetorical cudgel for people seeking to cut down science, look smart, or have something to do after ingesting cannabis. I shortened all this above by calling it ‘nonsense’. I apologize for my imprecision.

    “…saying that the belief in the afterlife is falsifiable is a pretty basic philosophical error. Science doesn’t work to falsify unfalsifiable claims. These are pretty common concepts.
    Expressing absolute confidence that an unfalsifiable claim is actually fiction, isn’t intellectually rigorous. And when this claim happens to be a religious concept, it’s a disservice to the majority of the planet to label them and insult them.”

    Where did I do any of this? I did not. I even put my comment in asterisks to make sure I could not be misquoted. If you’re talking about someone else address it to them. Just more efficient that way.

    “I simply pointed out that hardnose’s comment in this thread was actually a great example of common arguments, that we could have given good arguments against. He had a philosophical point. It wasn’t nothing and it didn’t deserve the attack it got.”

    No. You just kept makeing the trite point that you can’t disprove the the afterlife, which everyone here knows well, while giving lip service to the fact that this NECESSARILY MEANS that the burden of proof is shifted to the claimant. You can wrap that up as ‘metaphysics’, but it’s all that simple.

    “Brushing aside metaphysics and things like the difference between a falsifiable claim and an unfalsifiable claim is just not appropriate. ”

    SHOW ME WHERE I BRUSHED ASIDE ‘difference between a falsifiable claim and an unfalsifiable claim’?

    SHOW ME. THIS IS A LIE.

  100. Kabboron 02 Dec 2016 at 9:49 am

    I appreciate that you guys are taking the time to bother addressing the new troll, but based on the evidence at hand, any and all arguments will be mischaracterized. Whether this is intentional trolling or honest misunderstanding doesn’t really matter at a certain point. Engaging doesn’t seem to help, so trolling is the more likely.

    This troll happens to be angrier than some of the more comfortable resident ones.

  101. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 9:57 am

    Exactly: # Steve Cross on 01 Dec 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Is there anything more to cozying than accusing everyone of having said that you can prove a negative when no one in fact ever posited this?

    That’s pretty much all he’s saying, over and over (and with MANY wasted words).

  102. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 10:00 am

    kabbor:

    True enough. But this Troll is magical: he *poofed* into existence to defend HN. Nothing suspicious there.

    I still say: Egnor = Hardnose = cozying. Can I say for sure? No. But I made my case in a previous thread for Egnor = HN and I’m sticking with it.

    May be wrong. Don’t really care if I am.

  103. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 10:07 am

    s12,

    The talking points addressed in Steve N’s last post seemed remarkably similar to the stuff trotted out by hn in the last 1000+ comment go round with him. I’m leaning increasingly towards him being a sockpuppet.

  104. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 10:23 am

    Mumadadd:

    Agreed. But whatever – I’ll address the handles as they come.

    And to be skeptical of my et al. assertion, cozying is depressingly verbose in a way that HN simply is not.

    If anything, HN is too brief at times, replying to a complicated point with a flippant sentence. I would think that’s not the kind of thing you turn on and off? But maybe not. I don’t know.

  105. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Ckava,

    Mosben: this argument about burden of proof is not something you should be quoting. It’s absolutely pointless, out of context and incorrect. I hear skeptics misuse this concept all the time, go look it up, it explicitly only applies if both parties are playing in the same arena. It has a pretty specific meaning. This misuse is applying your jargon and concepts to other groups. It makes as much sense as demanding a priest to show you god, or you won’t believe.

    No the burden of proof isn’t on these people making these claims, maybe if they were real scientists. Let’s use homeopathy as an example, a supposed alternative treatment, do homeopaths feel the pressure to provide real evidence under this concept? Nope. Neither do the many different types of pseudoscientists. Like you, they prefer to use logical fallacies, like the false consensus and confirmation bias to prove their points instead.

    I don’t remember ever seeing a preacher stop a sermon to justify how how the bible was actually written by god. Or a priest explain how a collection of books, most of which written 50-200+ years after the death of the saviour, accurately represent his life story, with no errors. Even though the 4 books of the New Testament specifically contradict each other on critical details. My point is that they care so little about proof they don’t even notice contradictions in their own evidence.

    tmac57: reframed the argument and repeated the false burden of proof argument. Hardnose explicitly made reference to how you can’t disprove a belief. Here tmac describes how difficult it is to do that. That’s all, nothing profound here.

    Notice how both of these people, that you used confirmation bias to find, did not say a single thing about: how science isn’t materialism, it doesn’t matter if you can’t disprove a belief there are lots of unprovable claims that we don’t worry about, science deals with falsifiable claims not unfalsifiable claims?

    Their replies are just a knee-jerk defence to what they perceived was an attack on Steve. They also didn’t mention how Steve was talking about the authors white lie about some kind of pet heaven not the traditional afterlife. Or how scientific evidence can’t be used to test a very unscientific untestable belief. Pretty interesting huh?

    You quote SteveA, yet again another person not realizing this isn’t a paragon of critical thinking you are quoting. He uses fecal matter analogies to express himself.

    Here’s another real gem of his:
    “Oh…and that people who believe in an afterlife are so terrified of their own mortality that they clutch at fairy tales.”

    Specially though, he denies the explicit philosophical point that the original poster made. And that I clearly expressed. That you can’t disprove a belief in the afterlife. That’s what he describes as a banal truism. It’s not. It actually matters. If you don’t see why then try harder. Or go look at all the comments that try to disprove the afterlife with scientific evidence and arguments, and explicitly state that the afterlife has been falsified.

    The fact that you think quoting this person, as evidence for your argument, exemplifies everything I’ve been saying.

    People make logical mistakes and push personal attacks instead of addressing the actual issue. Those flawed concepts then get quoted and used as evidence against people. It’s an absolute embarrassment. What is critical about that thought process? Citing a bunch of ridiculously flawed arguments doesn’t strengthen your position. It’s a self-referential nightmare.

    You know who else loves to use confirmation bias to collect mountains of evidence against their opponents? Pseudoscientists and conspiracy theorists. They love to do what you just did and promote a false consensus including so much evidence that they don’t even have time scream it all out. But when we calm down and look at it critically it’s filled with mistakes. Exactly like your examples. Interesting, huh?

    It’s also cute how you, ckava, didn’t reply to my critique of your flawed summary. You came out of no where, there are no comments of yours on anything I’ve seen on this site, and yelled at me. Then when I responded, pointed out massive contradictions, all the errors and personal attacks cc made, that somehow you completely missed, as the wonderful objective third party that you claim to be. You didn’t reply or say a single thing to me. So this isn’t an argument. It’s not even a conversation. You yell at me, I take it seriously, respond, you ignore what I have to say and move onto another flawed attack of something that has nothing to do with you yet again. Until you explain to me how your contradictions in your original flawed summary make any sense. Or how as an objective outsider you didn’t notice all the various positions cc took and then dropped. Or the personal attacks he made and his justification of them. Or how as a “researcher” you think it’s okay for people to repeatedly state that an unfalsifiable claim has been falsified. I’m just gonna take a page out of your book and just ignore your lazy pseudointellectual comments.

    The quotations thing is just another pedantic ad absurdium argument.

    If I broke some law of quotes, then everything I say must be wrong, right?! Go look at the actual thing I wrote. The word “paraphrasing” literally precedes the quote. It’s the same sentence. Along with that key term, he also deliberately left out the context. He also completely denied ever saying anything like that, when I provided an accurate paraphrase.

    Want to know another rule of quotation marks? When you quote a part of a sentence you are supposed to use ellipses to designate omissions. Interestingly, it’s a rule I have followed if you look at my comments. Even assuming I broke the law of correct use of quotation marks it’s pretty obvious what I meant when you read the entire point/sentence. Oh and did I incorrectly paraphrase another one of his garbage sentences? I think I put in a much more succinct way. Go look at the two.

    It’s exactly like the synonym thing. You guys reduced my comments to a ridiculous ad absurdium argument. And then when I indulged you, you misunderstood a simple definition and misused it repeatedly. It’s not up for debate. I didn’t misquote billy. Go look at the original, he did say multiple times that the words shocked and surprised could not be synonyms. I guess thesauruses must not exist, because every time we try to use two synonymous words in different ways they stop being synonyms. Weird, I could have swore there’s entire websites and many tomes dedicated to listing synonyms. I could have swore that the definition of synonym doesn’t say and single thing about this temporal flexible nature of synonymy.

    The theme here is that you run to other arenas after you get wreaked. Only to get wreaked again. So run along ckava, go cite flawed arguments, personal attacks and value judgement as evidence.

    Now onto another strawman of ckava’s, about the arguments I used and equating them with:

    “…would be impossible to argue that science has proven homeopathy does not work.”

    Numerous people now have accused me of attacking science. I never said anything like these people imply. This is another fact you make reference to that is totally bankrupt.

    Just because someone points out that the belief in afterlife is an example of an unfalsifiable claim, doesn’t mean they hate science or are religious.

    The philosophy, guiding principles and faith based concepts of Homeopathy can’t be disproven, they are not falsifiable.

    Wait a sec, don’t freak out.

    However, the applications of those concepts to real world illness, and their effectiveness as treatments versus modern medicine, can be, and have been thoroughly examined and disproven.

    This is not the same as a belief in the afterlife. Sorry, it might be a semantical, banal truism, but it’s a distinction that matters and that you all keep ignoring. You aren’t even in the right arena to have this fight.

  106. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Holy shit…. the word:meaning ratio is appalling.

    So now the burden of proof isn’t on Priests or homeopaths because they don’t care? This isn’t even an imaginative shifting of the goal posts….

    You can’t prove a negative, and that means that in the realm of science the burden of proof is on the claimant. They should be free to believe as they choose of course – so what?

    OK, all your points of any answered in 1/1millionth the words.

  107. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Steve C really nailed it when he said that this is a kid who just took Philosophy 101.

  108. Steve Crosson 02 Dec 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Cool … just learned a new synonym:

    cozying = logorrhea

  109. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 1:34 pm

    steve12,

    Did you learn about metaphysics yet? See that it’s a massive branch of philosophy specifically dealing with the nature of reality? Did you realize that kabbor framed hardnose’s argument literally in (incorrect) metaphysical terms? Hardnose even said materialistic science, a term new agers use all the time to argue for why their multi dimensional idealism is superior. These are metaphysical things.

    Or you still think it’s French for nonsense?

    About your new argument: burden of proof applies if you want to argue something in a courtroom or a scientific arena. If homeopaths want to say their treatments work and get the scientific community stamp of approval, they have a burden of proof to provide the appropriate evidence. None of that has anything to do with the unfalsifiable nature of their beliefs, as homeopaths. When they do this kind of thing they just go through the motions, design flawed experiments and p-hack their way to victory. They don’t care, they can only legally say certain things in advertisements but when you show up in person they tell you they cured cancer.

    Religious people don’t care at all about concepts like that either.

    Applying the burden of proof to them is literally like the example I gave, demanding a priest show you god or you won’t believe.

    They don’t think in these terms.

    There is Christian dogma that says god will judge you at the moment of your death, so that even if you don’t believe, or lived a depraved life, you still have a shot at heaven. Some of them go so far to argue that even Hitler could have gone to heaven if he was truly repentant.

    How can you possibly falsify that belief? It makes literally zero claims about anything testable in the real world.

    Hardnose literally echoed mainstream arguments.

    My point is that instead of claiming it was falsified people needed to break it down and look at the context and relevant philosophical details. It doesn’t matter that it’s not knowable. We aren’t atheists, or whatever, because we “know” the afterlife is fiction or because science disproved it. Skeptics don’t “know” the afterlife is fiction, we don’t think in that way. And that’s what hardnose claimed.

    You guys have a serious problem with opposition. I’m a skeptic first. I’m also an atheist. I know what I’m talking about, tons of the stuff I say is tautological or facts you can look up instantly. But yet somehow I’m perceived as a child who can’t read. And my arguments get boiled down to anti-science pro religion positions.

    You want to know the problem with brevity? It’s simplification.

    Every time you simplify something you lose meaning. Go look at ckava and then my reply. He literally posed strawman’s that are so distant from things I actually said it’s embarrassing.

    “You think afterlife is falsifiable”
    “You bad, you also think science bad”

    It’s a joke.

  110. Steve Crosson 02 Dec 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Hey, Mr. Logorrhea,

    You are arguing against demons of your own imagination. No one has made the points you think they have.

  111. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 2:29 pm

    “These are metaphysical things.”

    There are no metaphysical things. I told you above what I think of metaphysics. Very interesting, fun to think about, etc.

    But I noticed no point by point rebuttal to my reply on the topic. Gee – I wonder why?

    While you guys are doing the same tired masturbatory ritual trying to solve solopsism or some such nonsense, we’re actually figuring out how things work with science. Where has metaphysics advanced in the last few thousand years?

    SCOREBOARD.

    Re: your other “points”, you just keep changing the goal posts, and it’s sort of boring. Of course we mean burden of proof in a scientific arena.

    And you can be MUCH briefer and lose nothing. You just keep saying the same trite shit over and over.

    Tighten it up son.

  112. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 2:34 pm

    “No one has made the points you think they have.”

    Right.

    I can’t seem to believe that his whole schtick it to keep saying over and over that we are saying we can disprove the after-life when no one ever said it!

    It’s bizarre.

    His new “change of venue” argument about who has the burden of proof though – that’s special. You have to have 0 shame to throw that one out there.

  113. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Steve Cross,
    “No one has made the points you think they have.”

    Yes they really have. Kcava has presented two misrepresentations of my positions. And like you, not replied when challenged obvious things like contradictions. Multiple people, including you have taken those misrepresentations as my actual arguments. And multiple people, including you have openly attacked and then justified personal attacks.

    Previously:
    “You are just an insecure, pedantic, extremely verbose concern troll.”

    A lot of adjectives in one sentence about verbosity don’t you think? 🙂

    Also that entire thing is a personal attack. I don’t consent to being labeled a troll or insecure.

    In that same post you also claim hardnose was carefully refuted, in this comment stream and others. He hasn’t. And you openly justify the personal attacks against him and attack both of us. You make no mention of the actual topic we were discussing, just another bankrupt reference to a refutation that you do not provide evidence for even existing. But let’s focus on this comment stream shall we?

    “Hardnose is an unrepentant troll that is more than deserving of a few ad hominem comments.”

    For what? For saying skeptics claim to “know” that the afterlife isn’t real? And for you guys falling into the trap and spewing false arguments in support of that claim?

    I’m sorry. But I firmly believe that the author of this blog, Steven Novella, would not agree with you. I think he would have seen it as an instructive example, considering hardnose posed common arguments among new age people. If he had the time and energy he would have given a much better refutation than the ones you guys provided. He wouldn’t have said anything like the numerous comments propose: yes we know it’s not real, science proves it, the belief in the afterlife is falsifiable and has been falsified. He wouldn’t condone personal attacks against hardnose and the justification you provided for those attacks. That isn’t what skepticism is, that’s bullying. It doesn’t matter if he really is a troll. What he said in this comment stream wasn’t offensive or even special, it’s a common argument skeptics have to deal with all the time. And if you deal with it by saying that science disproves the afterlife and attacking people, instead of things along the points I brought up, then I’m sorry but you aren’t thinking critically.

    Mr cross, Remember when you hilariously said that I cherry picked the definition of synonym, and all those other arguments of yours I refuted? Excuse me but where is the reply to that? You completely misrepresented me. You took billy and kcava’s false arguments and ran with them as gospel.

    That’s right. You also hit and then run for the hills. You can’t say it’s not because you don’t have time. Look at you here again reading what I have to say and attacking me all over again about something else.

    It’s a theme is all I’m saying. Kcava, billy, kabbor and cc all do the same exact thing. Spew a bunch of nonsense, cite flawed arguments, personally attack me and then run and never mention it again.

  114. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 3:01 pm

    OK.

    We should be nicer.
    We cannot disprove the afterlife.

  115. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Is that enough or do we have to address and re-hasj every perceived slight that you – and Hardnose – have ever felt at this blog?

  116. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Steve12,

    Oh so wait, you are saying metaphysics is a real thing now?

    I ignored you rebuttal because it’s a joke that ignores literally everything I said about the significance of metaphysics and specifically it’s application to this argument. I don’t have to challenge you, you have to go and disprove that metaphysics and specifically that it’s connection with the philosophy of science is a joke. I don’t have to defend basic factual points that you are just trying to justify your ignorance of.

    Some things I mentioned that you flat out ignored:

    The article about Neil de grasse tyson’s comments about how philosophy is useless.

    The fact that before Karl popper we didn’t do science how we do it now. The fact the philosophical underpinnings of science are what make the whole thing work. Science is just an expansion of natural philosophy. Everything you said is totally ignorant of the history of science.

    Hardnose and kabbor both explicitly used metaphysical terminology. Hint hint.

    There are philosophers that work everyday side by side with scientists. Scientists need philosophers.

  117. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I agree. We should be nicer. And not personally attack people and entire areas of philosophy. Especially when those areas helped define what modern science is….

  118. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Yay. It’s over. Love has come back into the world. I can see colors again. And smell the flowers.

  119. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Some philosophers are extremely useful to scientists. Dan Dennett is useful in my field, e.g.

    Most are not.

    I tend to side with Tyson, though not fully.

    But the ilk that simply point out the same tired (but true) Metaphysical points about not directly observing reality, or that we cannot prove that others are separate beings, etc are essentially useless and trite. That what they’re saying is true makes no difference at all.

    It’s futile.

  120. steve12on 02 Dec 2016 at 3:18 pm

    “I agree. We should be nicer. ”

    I was being sarcastic. Check your tone – your just like the rest of of. No better, no worse.

  121. BillyJoe7on 02 Dec 2016 at 3:27 pm

    cozy,

    Please close the door.
    Thesaurus: synonym of “close” is “shut”. Therefore:
    Please shut the door.

    Sit close to me.
    Thesaurus: synonym of “close” is “shut”. Therefore:
    Sit shut to me.

  122. BillyJoe7on 02 Dec 2016 at 3:30 pm

    …and, if you selectively quote me once more, I’m going to package you in the ears. 😀

  123. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Okay well not to get into another debate. But hardnose did say materialistic science and kabbor did also talk about materialism. Lots of new age people specifically mention that science is just materialism. And some uninformed science promoters say that too. Lots of famous new age “experts” basically promote monism or idealism: You are the universe, only energy exists, you are partly matter but matter is just energy, kind of arguments. All of these things are easily parsed and shown to be ridiculous with some knowledge of metaphysics.

    I don’t know you or what you believe. But if you side more with materialism then you would really be blown away by scientific realism check it out and the history it’s fascinating. Materialism died with logical positivism, philosophers and scientists used to believe that maybe we could make a system based on only things we could prove to be true. But this all died with advancements in science like quantum mechanics, relativity and problems with observation and instrumentalism. Like we don’t actually directly observe atoms, we use machines to detect them. Because of Einstein we know about relativity of simultaneity and other time keeping problems. Which means our perception of time was wrong. So now we have like model dependent realism as the representation of reality.

    Additionally, I never said all philosophy is useful, but philosophy of science, epistemology and metaphysics are hugely important to science. As well as philosophy of mind like you mentioned. Also the intellectual rigour, debate and pedantic nature of science has its roots in philosophy.

  124. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 3:55 pm

    “It’s really interesting that your rant about me intentionally misinterpreting you, starts with those glaring omissions.”

    I am not addressing your BS, because it has been addressed before, and you continue to misrepresent. Once you have been identified as what you are – a contrarian posing as a skeptic, I have adjusted accordingly.

    You are not even trying to understand what people are writing, but you are torturing a strawman from the words people use. I have not followed all the comments, has anyone agreed with ANY of your misunderstandings? To the extent the answer is No, why does that not given you pause to realize that you have a large responsibility for these misunderstandings? When you have been shown to be incorrect, you just make excuses and change the topic.

    This is quote boring to constantly correct you about unimportant misunderstandings.

  125. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 3:59 pm

    BillyJoe7,
    No that cute girl isn’t going to sit close to you in class, so stop asking. 🙂

    Quoting billy:
    “…stop misquoting me, I will physically assault you if you do it again…”
    “…Some argument about two similar words being used in different ways…”

    Seriously now though, previously, direct quote:
    [When someone says they were “surprised” but not “shocked”, then “surprise” and “shocked” cannot be synonyms, no matter what your reference says.”]

    Go look up and read the definition of the word synonym.

    You explicitly said they cannot be synonyms no matter what my reference says. You made this same mistake multiple times.

    My first reference is a dictionary. My second is a thesaurus.

    The definition provided in the first, makes no mention of how words stop being synonyms when we try to use them in different ways. Synonymy is a fixed property, referring to how words are have a similar meaning. The example you provided is flawed because you clearly used two different contexts and those words mean different things in those contexts. Surprise and shock are both degrees of one emotion, much closer in meaning.

    The existence of the second reference disproves your statement. If words stopped being synonyms under certain conditions where we try to use them in two different ways then whole concept of synonymy wouldn’t matter and we couldn’t make a book that lists them.

    I fully understand what you are trying to say. I worded it for you many times. You are trying to express that clearly cc and others meant that shock was a more serious emotion than surprise. The fact that they said they felt one and not the other means they tried to use two similar-meaning words in two separate ways. (I fully understand that whole concept, never challenged it, this has nothing to do with my original argument. It’s the ad absurdium you guys brought it down to)

    But that is not what you said. You and others who came to your defence repeated the same mistake over and over. You explicitly said “cannot be synonyms” and “are not synonyms.” That’s wrong by definition.

  126. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 4:07 pm

    “I didn’t misquote billy. Go look at the original, he did say multiple times that the words shocked and surprised could not be synonyms”

    He was clearly referring to my use of the terms, and problem with you swapping ‘surprised’ for ‘shocked’, especially since I was contrasting the two words. Your argument that they are synonyms is a lame excuse for completely misrepresenting what I said. Yes, shocked and surprised show up as synomyms in a thesaurus so what?

    Imagine I said that I was ‘sad’ but not ‘inconsolable,’ would you then say that I was ‘inconsolable’ because they are synonyms in a dictionary? Same with “surprised” and “shocked.”

    It is frankly absurd to swap adjectives that are being contrasted, but then you change the subject and talk about what BJ7 said about synonyms. What he literally said isn’t true, but in context he was referring to my contrasting use of terms, and that I was emphasizing their differences not their similarities.

    I have a surprise party to go to. OR should I say “shock party?”

  127. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 4:13 pm

    It doesn’t matter what billy was referring to or what he meant. Stop trying to rewrite history. I directly quoted his words in square brackets. He said that same kinds thing multiple times, go look it up. Never admitting to misusing the word. He is wrong by definition.

    Anyone who comes to his defence has to explain to me how:

    [When someone says they were “surprised” but not “shocked”, then “surprise” and “shocked” cannot be synonyms, no matter what your reference says.”]

    Is a statement by someone correctly using the word “synonyms.” Good luck.

  128. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 4:14 pm

    “I fully understand that whole concept, never challenged it, this has nothing to do with my original argument.”

    Oh, so you are just a jerk?. OK, I get it. It is not a misunderstanding of communication, but an intentionally forced and literal misunderstanding of what someone clearly meant.

  129. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I am not concerned about BJ& quote. We all know what it says and what he meant. It is not literally true (that they are not synonyms), but is understood (that they were not being used for their similarities as synonyms).

    I am more interested on how you can’t admit that you swapping words that are being contrasted and attributing it to another is misleading at best, and likely dishonest. Since you keep dodging this topic of apparent dishonesty, I assume it is intentional.

  130. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 4:24 pm

    The correct way to say it would be:

    [When someone says they were “surprised” but not “shocked”, then “surprise” and “shocked” cannot *mean the exact same thing*, no matter what your reference says.”]

    Synonymity refers to words having a similar meaning. Two words don’t stop being synonyms because you use them in two different ways. They can mean two different things in two different contexts. But they don’t stop being two words that are synonyms. Even if you use them in ways to mean vastly different things. The words themselves are always still synonyms. The meaning of most words doesn’t come from themselves it comes from the context of the sentence that binds and locks in its specific meaning and definition. Synonymity is independent of that, it’s a definitional thing.

    It’s funny to me because this a basic definition. So easy to look it up and understand. If you can’t understand this how are we gonna have an argument about the unfalsifiability of the belief in the afterlife?

  131. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 4:36 pm

    This is my original post,
    Direct quote, unaltered, verbatim, that provoked billy, you can clearly see that I was making fun of the whole ad absurdium debate about shock vs surprise in the first part:

    [Guess what? Surprised and shocked, are synonyms! When you look it up on thesaurus.com it connects the two in various different contexts. Well jeez, that sure blows a hole in your argument doesn’t it? Aww shucks, sorry about that. The words mean basically the same thing? Damn guess we can’t break out the dictionary.
    Cc claimed:
“Actually I was following it closer than most, and that is why, although I was surprised, I was not shocked at the result.”
And later:
“I also though CLinton was likely to win, because Trump needed to run the table on the swing states, which he did.”
    Seriously now, if you pay attention to what I was saying during that surprised-shocked exchange, I was clearly talking about how it’s a little hard to claim you weren’t shocked, because you were informed. Because most experts were. Most people who went to school for statistics, who applied for the job, who did nothing for 2 years but crunch polling data in an attempt to predict the outcome of the election. Those people, they were shocked. Along with pundits from both sides. You know those people who do nothing else but engage on political issues? Those people too.
    Cc and other’s claimed that only the uninformed, people who didn’t follow the election closely, were shocked. They attempted to rise above it, and play it cool. I was simply pointing that out. I didn’t mean to end up in a conversation about the meaning of shocked vs surprised. I continue to believe that they were shocked. Especially if they are skeptics. The embodiment of uncritical thinking just got elected. Pretty shocking and surprising stuff.]

    I already provided Billy’s first misunderstanding but here is another one that him and others defended:
    [My meaning was perfectly clear:
    They words “surprised” and “shocked” could not have been synonyms…in the context in which cc used them (ie when he said “I was surprised but not shocked”…no matter what your reference says.
    I sincerely hope this is now crystal.]

    Still not understanding the definition.

  132. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 4:45 pm

    People debated this, defended billy, said I was wrong all the way down to Steve Cross’ really bad argument. You guys can’t admit defeat now.

  133. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:48 pm

    One of my friends caught his kid on the verge of sticking a fork in an electrical socket; poor kid narrowly avoided an electric surprise.

  134. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Cozying, it is exhausting to engage with you. Reading your summary of your interactions here is like reading a twilight zone interpretation of the comments I’ve read through. You present yourself as a martyr fighting the good fight for ‘the real skepticism'(tm) against legions of online egotistical bullies who get their kicks out of denigrating and abusing cloth headed believers and newcomers to the blog, despite the fact that you and ‘open minded’ folks (like hardnose) are raising very valid philosophical arguments. This is a transparently self-aggrandising narrative that doesn’t accord with the evidence available in this very thread, let alone across the whole site.

    I know you won’t agree and can point to examples of positive respectful interactions you’ve had and times when you have been willing to admit errors. The problem is that all of the people you are railing against can do the exact same. That doesn’t mark you apart from 99% of the people commenting here. And when it comes to admitting mistakes, you only seem to do so when you are not heavily invested in a position (see the ontological argument exchange) or when you use it as a back-handed means of expressing criticism (e.g. like saying [WHAT FOLLOWS IS NOT A QUOTE] I’m SOOOO sorry I couldn’t understand your poorly worded, misleading statement and as a result got the wrong impression). That isn’t admitting an error- that’s criticising someone else using the format of an apology.

    You have repeatedly displayed an overriding commitment to defending (with equal passion) your idiosyncratic interpretations of others’ arguments alongside any valid arguments/points you raise. And the ratio is far from 50/50. This is what makes it exhausting to deal with/read, as those engaging with discussions with you have to constantly try to correct your misinterpretation of their position, while simultaneously responding to your arguments. And then your reply just inevitably reasserts your interpretation as indisputable fact and argues against their response from that perspective. This means that you frequently get bogged down in minutiae and endless semantic debates AT THE EXPENSE (sorry, no bold function on the blog) of engaging with or recognising your opponents’ actual position.

    And no sorry cozying I’m not going to respond point-by-point to your massive pedantic responses. To do so would be a complete waste of my time. You also don’t get to order people to respond in a fashion you deem appropriate. I honestly don’t mind if you stop responding to me- that is genuinely not a threat. I’m not here to talk to you, I’m here to follow the blog and read interesting discussions, not to indulge someone with a martyrdom complex and an almost pathological inability to recognise how askew their interpretations are. The problems with your logic and posting style have been pointed out repeatedly by almost everyone you engage with but you refuse to recognise that the problem might not be everyone else, it might be YOU.

    Finally, on this:

    “You are not who you claim to be” and the lengthy paragraph that followed about my posting habits.

    Really? Who am I then? Because I’m pretty sure I am everything I claimed to be in this thread (an infrequent commenter and a researcher on ritual cognition). Amazingly you cite my lack of recent comments on other threads as if this counts as evidence against me. Maybe you need to look up a synonym for ‘infrequent’. My comments are on this blog going back maybe 10 years now. I’m not going to dig them out for you but they are there if you really care to look. And in regards my research, if you really want to find me I just recently wrote a piece on Aeon on ritual and religion in Japan- there is even a picture attached! Here I’ll give you an even bigger hint, my name is Chris Kavanagh, it’s cunningly disguised as part of my username. You can find me on google scholar. Here is a link to an article I co-wrote for a philosophy journal on what cognitive science of religion does/does not say about religious belief: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/nzsth.2015.57.issue-2/nzsth-2015-0012/nzsth-2015-0012.xml

  135. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Sincerely, I’ve never seen anyone double down this hard.

  136. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:54 pm

    To all those people accusing me of just being a concern troll or a contrarian:

    Let me ask you this, what’s more contrarian then saying Trump’s victory wasn’t shocking?

    That’s just something you would say in the days following the election to be a contrarian.

    When everyone around you has a sinking feeling of doom, and you just play it cool to show off, “pffft 10% chance isn’t shocking, foolish mortals.”

    Steven Novella, in the blog post Post-truth said:
    “The shocking result of the 2016 presidential election is a good example of how clueless we all are.”

    That’s what sparked this entire discussion. People replying to that and how it’s actually not shocking.

    Every news channel, most headlines, front pages, articles on websites said it was shocking. They used that word.

    If you don’t understand why it’s shocking you must have been living under a rock for the last 2 years. Yeah that guy who ran the apprentice, with no political experience, he’s the leader of the free world now.

    You guys still want to debate me on the meaning of shock versus surprise? Or can I have this victory? And can you admit you reduced my thoughts on the topic to a pointless ad absurdium discussion?

  137. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:59 pm

    “Sincerely, I’ve never seen anyone double down this hard.”

    Just in case that looks to casual observer like I was referring to CKava (or whoever he now claims to be), I wasn’t. But I won’t name names, and just leave it a mystery who I was referring to.

  138. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:00 pm

    SteveA:
    “I would have preferred ‘blunt’ and ‘forthright’, but I guess it’s a matter of opinion.
    At least I avoided any poop references!”

    God forbid, lest we need to go (further) down into scatalogical definitions and synonyms.

  139. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:01 pm

    mumadadd: “Just in case that looks to casual observer like I was referring to CKava (or whoever he now claims to be)…”

    lol. It still applies, I am doubling down on being Chris Kavanagh. I’ve kept this charade up for 33 years so I’m not about to stop now!

  140. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:08 pm

    cozying,

    “Let me ask you this, what’s more contrarian then saying Trump’s victory wasn’t shocking?

    That’s just something you would say in the days following the election to be a contrarian.

    When everyone around you has a sinking feeling of doom, and you just play it cool to show off, “pffft 10% chance isn’t shocking, foolish mortals.”

    Steven Novella, in the blog post Post-truth said:
    “The shocking result of the 2016 presidential election is a good example of how clueless we all are.”

    That’s what sparked this entire discussion. People replying to that and how it’s actually not shocking.

    Every news channel, most headlines, front pages, articles on websites said it was shocking. They used that word.

    If you don’t understand why it’s shocking you must have been living under a rock for the last 2 years. Yeah that guy who ran the apprentice, with no political experience, he’s the leader of the free world now.”

    So, everyone thinks it’s shocking. Then someone says they are surprised but not shocked. And this justifies, in your opinion, 10,000 words defending the position that surprised and shocked mean the same thing?

    Would you be up for forgetting this whole thing and moving on? Just let bygones be bygones and proceed from this point on in good faith? I would, for one.

  141. tmac57on 02 Dec 2016 at 6:19 pm

    I have found 29 instances of words that start with ‘bet’ in this post, and I am surprised, surprised to find that ‘betting’ is going on in here!!!

  142. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:20 pm

    I’m sorry did you just expose your personal information to try to win some argument online? What? I thought I was a troll? Damn you are attractive. You hitting on me now? Should I email you? Lol

    Interestingly your name shows nothing relevant to who you claim to be for quite some time when entered into google scholar. Are you sure you aren’t the famous British drummer instead? 🙂 I could have swore I thought that’s who you really were. Is that your dad?

    Seriously now, I explicitly used the example of Sam Harris, as someone really well known and famous who made some pretty hardcore philosophical mistakes. How fancy your education is doesn’t prevent you from messing up.

    All I meant by you aren’t who you claim to be is that you weren’t an objective third party. You didn’t see the various positions cc took and then so deftly dropped. You made no mention of the personal attacks against me and the justification. Just stuff like that. For a philosopher you also contradicted yourself, isn’t that like a huge deal in your line of work? You didn’t acknowledge that literally everyone misunderstood a basic thing hardnose said and didn’t provide a good argument against it. Just things of that nature. I didn’t mean to get all weird like this. Seriously didn’t your momma teach you to not expose yourself to crazy people on the internet?

    Look you win. Congrats ckava.

  143. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Ckava,

    I just clicked the link you provided:

    Summary

    In recent years, theoretical and empirical work done under the rubric of the cognitive science of religion (CSR) have led many to conclude that religion (or, at least, some aspects thereof) is “natural”. By this, it is meant that human beings are predisposed to believe in supernatural agents, and that their beliefs about these agents are constrained in various ways. The details about how and why these predispositions and cognitive constraints developed and evolved are still largely unknown, though there is enough of a theoretical consensus in CSR for philosophers to have begun reflecting on the implications of CSR for religious belief. In particular, much philosophical work has been done on the implications of CSR for theism, on both sides of the debate. On one hand, CSR might contribute to defeating particular arguments for theism, or indeed theism altogether; on the other hand, CSR might provide support for specific theological views. In this paper, we argue that the CSR is largely irrelevant for classical theism, and in particular that the “naturalness hypothesis” is much less congenial to theism than some have previously argued.

    Pretty damn interesting. Feel like publishing it for free? 🙂

  144. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I don’t consider my name or publications confidential information. I’ve used the same username for over a decade online (whoops is that more secret information! Please don’t take it as a come on!). Nor did I claim to be famous, just that I am what I said above- a researcher who works on ritual cognition, who is relatively easy to find online.

    I’m also not a philosopher and would never claim to be. I pointed to the publication because it is actually relevant to this topic and the arguments I presented earlier and indicates that this isn’t a topic I’ve given little thought to.

    And in regards to not being an objective third party to the discussion I didn’t take part in- what am I then? I saw all the things you claim- I read the whole damn thread- I just don’t agree with your interpretation.

    P.S. The drummer is not my father but I’m glad he’s representing my name!

  145. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:38 pm

    If you guys admit:
    -That Trumps victory was indeed shocking.
    -It’s contrarian to say otherwise
    -That I was totally justified in pointing out how cc and others were just trying to rise above it and show how cool they are, and how it’s doubtful that they weren’t shocked.
    -How the reasons they gave for not being shocked were really bad reasons i.e. Being informed/following the election/knowing stats. Because experts were shocked.
    -and most importantly that I did not propose debating the meaning of shocked vs surprised, and the subsequent debate over the meaning of a synonym, that was their ad absurdium reduction of my position.

    Then I will admit that I wasted all those words and apologize for wasting your time. I will also send ckava a handwritten apology note begging for his forgiveness.

  146. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:42 pm

    “Feel like publishing it for free?”

    To clarify: that wasn’t an offer.

  147. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:58 pm

    (1)-That Trumps victory was indeed shocking.
    -(2)It’s contrarian to say otherwise
    -(3)That I was totally justified in pointing out how cc and others were just trying to rise above it and show how cool they are, (4)and how it’s doubtful that they weren’t shocked.
    -(5)How the reasons they gave for not being shocked were really bad reasons i.e. Being informed/following the election/knowing stats. (6) Because experts were shocked.
    -(7)and most importantly that I did not propose debating the meaning of shocked vs surprised, and the subsequent debate over the meaning of a synonym, (8)that was their ad absurdium reduction of my position. !

    1. Yes.
    2. No — people are free to be unshocked.
    3. You can’t prove that they aren’t cool (metaphysics).
    4. How could you know? (stats?)
    5. Brexit.
    6. Depends which one you ask.
    7. You didn’t propose it, but you took it upon yourself. But they aren’t synonymous, so point conceded.
    8. Ad absurdum reduction… Is that a synonym for projection?

  148. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Unclosed tag. Soz.

    (1)-That Trumps victory was indeed shocking.
    -(2)It’s contrarian to say otherwise
    -(3)That I was totally justified in pointing out how cc and others were just trying to rise above it and show how cool they are, (4)and how it’s doubtful that they weren’t shocked.
    -(5)How the reasons they gave for not being shocked were really bad reasons i.e. Being informed/following the election/knowing stats. (6) Because experts were shocked.
    -(7)and most importantly that I did not propose debating the meaning of shocked vs surprised, and the subsequent debate over the meaning of a synonym, (8)that was their ad absurdium reduction of my position. !

    1. Yes.
    2. No — people are free to be unshocked.
    3. You can’t prove that they aren’t cool (metaphysics).
    4. How could you know? (stats?)
    5. Brexit.
    6. Depends which one you ask.
    7. You didn’t propose it, but you took it upon yourself. But they aren’t synonymous, so point conceded.
    8. Ad absurdum reduction… Is that a synonym for projection?

  149. cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Mummadad,
    In reference to your numbers:
    1. Thank you.
    2. I never said people weren’t allowed to be unshocked. Just that it’s a contrarian position. You shouldn’t have got bogged down here, it’s a tautology. If you support 1. Then you have to support 2. See adjective definition of contrarian.
    3. Didn’t say I could prove they weren’t cool. Just that I was justified in pointing out and questioning their position.
    4. I don’t agree with this sub-point you made. This is part of 3. Same sentence. Me being justified in doubting them is all part of 3.
    5. We all saw and heard about brexit. Sure it made the outcome more likely maybe, it certainly gave even more evidence that populism was on the rise. But that doesn’t mean trumps victory wasn’t shocking. Basically every professional tracking this election was wrong and shocked. The few polls that showed Trump’s lead were mostly distrusted and from questionable sources.
    6. Again not a sub point I agree with. But by experts being shocked I mean a consensus of experts and political pundits.
    7. Thank you.
    8. Cute 🙂 Reductio ad absurdum is when your opponents take a small thing you say like “shocked and surprised are synonyms” and run with it to logical extremes like: shut and close are synonyms so come sit shut to me. This example of billy’s is so bad it used the wrong “close”. Yeah close (meaning to cover an opening) is a synonym of “shut”. But the “close” meaning proximity, is not. Another example is your: ”
    One of my friends caught his kid on the verge of sticking a fork in an electrical socket; poor kid narrowly avoided an electric surprise.”

  150. CKavaon 02 Dec 2016 at 7:49 pm

    mumadadd> I can shoot you a pdf. If you can message one of my email addresses?

    cozying> I don’t desire/require an apology or a handwritten note but if it will help you drop the issues you are stuck on.

    – Yes, Trump’s victory was shocking to me. I thought it was possible, especially after Brexit, but I still thought it was unlikely- until the first few results came in.
    – I would say it went against the general consensus. But there were some more conservative experts, like Nate Silver, who consistently kept his chances at around 20-30%. That’s not an insignificant chance.
    – No idea about cc et al.’s relative surprise or motivations. If someone says they weren’t surprised, I have no way to know whether that is true or if saying so is motivated by a desire to be ‘cool’.
    – I dunno, I followed Nate Silver and some other polls and I didn’t feel secure. My recurring thought was that 20% suggests that 1 in 5 times Trump would win. I’ve got 6 on my first throw many times on a dice and that is 1 in 6. I still thought Hillary would win because the polls were more consistent than those for Brexit but my online experiences with various alt-right/far-left friends (and how often I heard their narratives repeated in the media/online) made me feel uneasy. I agree that most experts were not expecting the outcome but the Comey email thing did throw a wrench in the ‘it’s all sewn up’ narrative.
    – I can’t remember now who brought up the shocked/surprised thing- too many words and no motivation to go check. I’ll take your word that it wasn’t you. I think they usually are synonyms but that it depends on context. If someone says, ‘I was surprised but not shocked’, I understand what they are saying.

  151. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 8:42 pm

    cozying,

    “2. I never said people weren’t allowed to be unshocked. Just that it’s a contrarian position. You shouldn’t have got bogged down here, it’s a tautology. If you support 1. Then you have to support 2. ”

    I should clarify:

    1. Yes (in my opinion). As in, I found it shocking, not that it was proven to be shocking.

  152. mumadaddon 02 Dec 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Ckava– done.

  153. tmac57on 02 Dec 2016 at 9:18 pm

    There was at least one expert who was not shocked or surprised by Trump’s election…this guy:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/28/professor-whos-predicted-30-years-of-presidential-elections-correctly-is-doubling-down-on-a-trump-win/?utm_term=.03788c0c634e

    He has an pretty impressive record going back 30 years with more or less correct predictions for presidential elections (a couple of qualifiers). He uses history rather than polls. It’s a bit hard to argue against his success, though it might possibly be a case of ‘survivorship bias’.
    No doubt people will be watching his call intensely next presidential election.

  154. chikoppion 02 Dec 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Hey mumadded,

    What’s your take on Pascal Boyer? It’s been some years since I read him, but I remember finding lots of thought-provoking theoretical threads.

  155. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 10:25 pm

    I am sick of this dishonest BS, but cozying can’t stop the BS. Dishonest troll.

    Here is the relevant exchange that I was discussing:

    cozying –
    “For me personally, this is the biggest red flag. Were you following the election? Because literally every major scientific poll had Clinton winning the election.”

    Me
    “Actually I was following it closer than most, and that is why, although I was surprised, I was not shocked at the result. There was a reason that fivethirthyeight, although still had Clinton winning, but had an almost 30% chance for Trump winning. A 30% chance of something shouldn’t shock people. People were overly confident based upon uncertain data. Including you, apparently. Just before the election fivethirtyeight had an article titled ‘Trump Is Just A Normal Polling Error Behind Clinton.’”

    Cozying- “For you to claim you weren’t surprised is cool. Maybe it’s true. I personally don’t believe you, or the other people who say they weren’t surprised.”

    Me – “. I am not saying I wasn’t surprised, but I was mentally prepared for the result. “

    Cozying
    “ You said that only the uninformed people that weren’t following the election closely were surprised. That’s wrong. The paid experts, which we aren’t, were essentially all wrong and surprised. “

  156. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 10:28 pm

    NOTE in the ABOVE:

    First, I said “I was surprised” (note the use of quotation marks as actual quotations)

    You respond “For you to claim you weren’t surprised is cool…I personally don’t believe you.”
    – Heh? What?

    I then respond “I am not saying I wasn’t surprised, but I was mentally prepared for the result.”

    Then you later say “You said that only the uninformed people that weren’t following the election closely were surprised”
    -What?

    Yet you still can’t admit what is right in front of everyone’s face?

  157. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 10:34 pm

    The merits of being surprised versus shocked are not that relevant. (the most well known model gave Trump a nearly 28.6% chance of winning. To me that is not shock territory, but surprise. But whatever- if you were following other outlets, you may have been more than surprised

    This is besides the point. The above is just a direct display of your problem with distorting people’s statements beyond recognition. It is consistent enough and you dodge the obvious, to the point of being dishonest. If you don’t want to be viewed as a dishonest troll, stop acting like one.

  158. ccbowerson 02 Dec 2016 at 10:36 pm

    And to top it off cozying says in that thread:

    (about me)

    “If it’s true that you’ve been here for years. Then people just learned what I’m currently learning, to not argue with you. You won’t stop, you won’t admit to the smallest mistakes, and you push the argument into more ridiculous semantic squabbles every time. ”

    Hahahahahaha. The irony of this statement is much clearer now, if it weren’t already clear then.

  159. BillyJoe7on 02 Dec 2016 at 11:56 pm

    Cozy,

    You’ve insisted all along that words listed as synonyms are always synonyms.
    I just gave you a couple of examples of words listed as synonyms used in ways in which they are not synonyms.

    But, even excluding words spelled the same but with different meanings, I don’t think it’s true that synonyms are always synonyms.
    (If you disagree then post a reference by an authority on the subject and I’ll concede the point)
    It surely must depend on context.
    If someone says they were surprised but not shocked then surely they cannot have been using these words as synonyms.

    And, if you insist on interpreting my actual words as meaning anything other than the above…I’m going to cozy up to that cute girl in class no matter how much it upsets you. 😉

  160. Steven Novellaon 03 Dec 2016 at 6:07 am

    cozying – it seems the source of the disagreement here it that you are treating “shocked” and “not shocked” as a binary state, and therefore a bit of a false dichotomy. Rather, this is a spectrum. There are degrees of surprise.

    For example, for me, I was confident Clinton would win because of the consistency of the polls and the fact that the same polls were fairly predictive the last two elections. I was worried, however, about the error bars in the polls, the size of the enthusiasm gap, and was really worried after the Comey thing. Nate Silver’s analysis was also sobering. He gave the edge to Clinton but argued that we were basically within the error bars.

    There were two variables I knew polls could not predict – turnout, and the fact that when people get in the voting booth reality sets in a little and they will likely vote their gut feelings, which may be different from what they say to pollsters. The big question was – in the voting booth, would more people be disgusted with Clinton or frightened of Trump. Well, now we know the answer.

    Regarding “shocked” vs “surprised” I see the difference, as used in this context, as this. Surprised means you thought it was more likely that Clinton would win, but you knew there was significant uncertainty and Trump could win. Shocked means you really thought there was no way for Trump to win and a Clinton victory was all but in the bag.

    I do think that it is fair to say that if you listened to what the experts were saying, surprised but not shocked was an appropriate response.

  161. ccbowerson 03 Dec 2016 at 8:10 am

    Steve is being very charitable. For me, after engaging for this long, that charity has been used up for this topic for cozying. But Steve is sticking to the substance of the statements, rather than cozying’s treatment of what others have said.

    And Steve is exactly right, and is what I said from the beginning post. Yet, I was apparently trying to be “cool” by pretending to not be surprised? I was surprised and said so from the beginning, but since when is 28.6% (Fivethirtyeight) or 15% (NYTimes Upshot) a shocking occurrence? The most rigorous models showed more uncertainty, and even 15% is approximately a roll of a die. There should not be the shock I saw (and still see) from many for weeks. The first night, fine. People did not think it would really happen like that – for him to pretty much run the table on the swing states.

    Perhaps the shock is due to the type of news reporting and political punditry people watch. I try to stay with the most intellectually honest news reporting I can find, and I know many people who try to do that as well, but this election was particularly difficult in this regard. Sources of information certainly can sway people’s perception great deal, and political pundits are highly susceptible to their own biases- the less empirical their approach is.

    Also, we don’t usually know to what extent we are in our own “bubbles.” I feel like I try to be very aware of this, but we still can’t truly access outside of our experiences. The only thing we can do is just expand what we are exposed to. Most people are just not that interested in doing this to a great extent.

    Political pundits are often more focused on narrative and not enough on data. I am glad this is shifting a bit. But most people are still drawn to the ideological and narrative based punditry.

  162. Steve Crosson 03 Dec 2016 at 9:40 am

    ccbowers,

    Thanks for providing a definitive and (hopefully) final deconstruction of this entire, absurd exchange. Also, props to CKava for similarly excellent work.

    It shouldn’t have been necessary since virtually all of the observers felt all along that your view of the subject was not only justified, but obvious.

    It is both humorous and sad that cozying had the temerity to lecture everyone else on how to be a proper skeptic when he, himself fell victim to the most insidious skeptical land mine of them all — self delusion. Everyone should constantly be aware of Feynman’s famous dictum about not fooling yourself inspite of the fact that you are the easiest person to fool.

    It should be a huge red flag when your own interpretation of something is dramatically different than the consensus. That is a pretty good indication that you should reexamine your premises more carefully just to make sure that your own biases have not clouded your judgment.

    Obviously, in his arrogance, cozying felt that his own opinion was necessarily correct in spite of the fact that it was clearly an outlier. Regardless of how sure someone is of their own beliefs, a real skeptic would always at least entertain the possibility that they might be wrong. Especially when a high proportion of subjectivity is involved. At a minimum, after one or two brief exchanges, mere opinions should quickly be relegated to the “agree to disagree” category.

    To do otherwise, and prolong the disagreement with absurdly long, incoherent rants serves only to demonstrate insecurity and immaturity.

  163. tmac57on 03 Dec 2016 at 10:23 am

    Time to light the pedantree, throw another logorrhea on the fire and get cozy. 🙂

  164. Steve Crosson 03 Dec 2016 at 11:06 am

    Indeed.

  165. cozyingon 03 Dec 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Steven Novella,
    I have previously read that you will comment to correct people if they massively misrepresent your views.

    Everyone replying after your post to come in and gut punch me and celebrate is ignoring a mountain of relevant details.

    You didn’t directly challenge or question a multitude of points I made. Including the numerous times I made reference to you directly, and how you would not have approved with multiple people who used ad hominems against hardnose and myself. Also how you wouldn’t agree with some of those same people, plus other outsiders, coming in and providing justifications and rationalizations for those personal attacks.

    I have recently witnessed you correcting hardnose’s depiction of your beliefs. So therefore, you not addressing these points of mine in your reply, I will then take to mean you agree with them. So thank you. It’s not inconsistent with various positions of yours I have seen. But it’s worth explicitly noting here, for everyone who thinks it’s okay to come and kick me while I’m down after the author of the blog apparently knocked me down.

    You commented on shock vs surprise. Which is from another comment thread, I brought it up here against because people wouldn’t stop using reductio ad absurdum fallacies against me. People like billy who don’t know the difference between closing a door and siting close to someone. Here’s a hint, they are pronounced two different ways. And mummadad taking the “electrical shock” definition of “shock” and replacing it with surprise.

    What I originally said about the shock vs surprise thing was that it’s doubtful that cc and others weren’t shocked. I’m allowed to say that, I’m allowed to challenge people on basic stuff like that. All I did was exercise my right to poke fun at, and openly doubt some contrarians. They gave their reasons like you mentioned, listening to experts, but the vast majority of experts, statistical models and political pundits were wrong. These same pundits, experts and statisticians said they were shocked. And tons of other people, including basically every major headline and front page around the world used the work shock.

    Shock is an emotion, not a rational mathematical adjective for a probability. There is a massive difference between a 1/6 roll on a die, and an Orange-tinted trashcan fire being elected the leader of the free world.

    Everyone equating Trump’s chances of winning with simple probability, is making a false analogy. Yes the probability might be close, actually everyone keeps talking about Nate silver, but he was an outlier, most statistical models had Hillary at well over 90% closer to 95%. Stop using post hoc to pick the models that match the actual outcome.

    But it’s not a throw of a die we are talking about. We are talking about how an offensive old man with no political experience, came out of now where and decimated all his rivals to become leader of the free world. That’s shocking. Saying otherwise is contrarian. You yourself, Steven Novella, said that the result was shocking, and it shows how little we know.

    As critical thinkers, it should be especially shocking to us, since he ran a campaign of overt deception, including many unscientific and conspiratorial claims.

  166. TheGorillaon 03 Dec 2016 at 3:10 pm

    For the record, I predicted the outcome and was not shocked (though I was excited at being right; obligatory I’m not a Trump supporter) 😛

    The entire reason people were surprised is the obsession with data that our society has – numbers were simply not appropriate for understanding Trump. The United States has a reality TV show, The People’s Couch, that is watching other people watch & comment on … reality TV. Election coverage is at *best* equivalent to a sports game.

    Trump is a reality TV star who, unwittingly (IMO), captured the art of the spectacle – he could say contradictory, false, nonsense things because true/false was irrelevant to Trump’s appeal. People *LOVED* the phenomenon of Trump, regardless of political affiliation; Trump’s victory was literally the ONLY outcome that would be an actual political event.

    I think you are mistaken, cozying, when you write that Trump ran a campaign of overt deception – the Clinton campaign was still stuck on that level (trying – with relative success – to turn an anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-human rights candidate into the exact opposite) whereas Trump was beyond deception as a concept.

    I feel like understanding this would have turned any election day shock into the normal “the polls were off” surprise. I did write a blog post about this, easily titled ‘election 2016 explained’ or something like that. It’s more in-depth but not intended to be a crisp, argumentative piece.

  167. mumadaddon 03 Dec 2016 at 4:36 pm

    I said before that I’ve never seen anyone double down this hard. We’re now into unexplored, and previously considered impossible, territory. I would like to coin the phrase ‘triple down’ in honour of cozying; in fact, ‘triple down’ and ‘cozying’ could be synonymous.

    Seriously, cozying, you could drop it, hang back, then come back into another discussion with something substantial to say or repudiate. You’re disserving nobody more than yourself here, and nobody will hold it against you if and when you do happen to make valid points, or even bland ones that nobody responds to.

  168. mumadaddon 03 Dec 2016 at 4:44 pm

    😛

    :p

  169. CKavaon 03 Dec 2016 at 4:53 pm

    cozying: “There is a massive difference between a 1/6 roll on a die, and an Orange-tinted trashcan fire being elected the leader of the free world.”

    In terms of significance to the world, yes.
    In terms of underlying probability, not really, if you are following models suggesting he has a roughly 20% chance.

    You imply above that people have post-hoc selected Nate Silver but his model was one of, if not THE, most preferred source. I used it as my touchstone in this election, as did lots of other people on my social media feeds. That might reflect a sampling bias but I would expect a similar bias to be at play amongst skeptics. Nate is regarded to be a stats geek who openly reports on the decisions informing his models- exactly the kind of things that would be appealing to a skeptic audience.

    “So therefore, you not addressing these points of mine in your reply, I will then take to mean you agree with them. So thank you.”

    That is the height of motivated reasoning. Should everyone in the comment thread moving forward expect that if Steve doesn’t personally correct them he endorses everything they have said? I am sure, in broad terms, Steve does agree that people should strive to engage in arguments/debates without making personal attacks. What I am less certain about is that he would agree that you have only been on the receiving end of such attacks, and/or that we should not take someone’s posting history and demonstrated character into account when responding to a new post. Steve doesn’t act like that when he responds to Michael Egnor or hardnose, he recognises their posting pattern and often calls out a particular argument as reflecting their well-known agendas.

    “As critical thinkers, it should be especially shocking to us, since he ran a campaign of overt deception, including many unscientific and conspiratorial claims.”

    Why would that make it more shocking? We know very well how effective and appealing this kind of thinking is. That was part of what made me uneasy, that Trump was effectively echoing popular online conspiracies and far right/far left lines of attack. Your comment implies that skeptics should expect everyone to value science, rationality and good quality evidence, but that’s not a reasonable expectation, not everyone is a skeptic…

  170. Steven Novellaon 03 Dec 2016 at 5:47 pm

    If you had said to me a year ago that Trump would be president, I would have been shocked. By election day, the shock was over and I was somewhat prepared for the outcome.

    I am not going to go back and read over the entire thread. It is not fair or appropriate to interpret my lack of response as agreement. I do not follow every comment on every thread, especially when they top 100 comments. That is not a reasonable expectation.

  171. cozyingon 03 Dec 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Kcava,

    Anyone who thinks kcava has a point, pay very close attention to the following.

    [cozying: “There is a massive difference between a 1/6 roll on a die, and an Orange-tinted trashcan fire being elected the leader of the free world.”
    In terms of significance to the world, yes.
In terms of underlying probability, not really, if you are following models suggesting he has a roughly 20% chance.]

    The line before what you selected clearly says:

    “Shock is an emotion, not a rational mathematical adjective for a probability.”

    That’s what firmly establishes the context of the next line which you quoted. That means by definition your reply about probability yet again has nothing to do with anything that I was talking about.

    That blurb of mine only has two sentences in it, and you left out the one that establishes the context?!

    What’s your excuse for that?

    Go read it again, I was clearly talking about how shock isn’t a statistical term it is an emotional term, and attempts to reduce shock vs surprise to dice rolls are inappropriate analogies.

    I was just being nice before. I tried to say look you win. I tried to be respectful and drop it. But you had to do and blatantly misrepresent and insult me yet again. You offered up your apparent real google scholar info as evidence for your objective awesomeness. So I guess it’s fair game.

    Would you look at that… If you are actually who you claim to be, I guess a career of 17 citations, and publications in obscure journals such as “Pacific Affairs” (with an impact factor of 0.58), or “Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie” (with an estimated impact factor of 0.00 to as high as 0.003), doesn’t mean much these days huh?

    Go check out these journals guys, and tell me what you think.

    One of those journals is religious philosophy, please explain to me how you, a self-admitted non-philosopher, got a paper published in a journal like that? The editorial board of a religious philosophy journal let’s non-philosophers publish in their journal?

    0.030- 0.58 that’s what, someone check my math here, the 98th percentile of the worst journals on the planet? Has anyone outside of your department even heard of these journals? For those of you who don’t know, impact factor is a crude measure of how significant a journal is, and how popular it is among experts in a field, impact factors this low mean in some cases no peer review, vanity/self publishing, pay to play. Again, assuming you are that person, the 5 of the 17 citations of your work come from one person: H Van Eyghen. Another 4 from: LD Meinecke. That’s 53% of your citations. Friends of yours? Looks like a very sophisticated academic echo chamber, it’s possible for someone to spend the rest of their career publishing 10 articles a year in journals of that quality and no one in your field will have ever heard of them. Happens all the time.

    Your claim to be a qualified expert on religion, cognition and philosophy has been debunked. I mean, I should have guessed it when you didn’t notice the difference between falsifiable and unfalsifiable, contradicted yourself, and openly justified ad homiems.

    Moving on, I justified what you called motivated reasoning. Gave examples. You are one of the people who along with cc, Steve Cross, SteveA, Steve12 and probably others I’m forgetting, who attacked myself and hardnose personally and then provided justifications and rationalizations for the ad hominems. That is not something I’ve ever seen Steven Novella condone, and is contrary to his actual positions.

    I do not consent to labels like: insecure, troll, concern, troll, child/kid, illiterate, ignorant. Etc. Those are personal attacks. I can’t deny I’m verbose and I don’t disagree with pedantic. There is a difference tho between an attack and a cute label.

    He can reply at any time and say that he agrees with you. He has chosen not to. But he has replied to correct hardnose’s incorrect portrayals of his personal beliefs quite recently in another thread. He did reply to me and made no mention of how I misrepresented his personal position on ad hominems and the justification of using them.

  172. cozyingon 03 Dec 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Steven Novella,
    You can ctrl+F your name to find what I said about your positions.

    I said in response to multiple people personally attacking hardnose and I, that you would not agree with them and their approach.

    I also said that you wouldn’t agree with their rationalizations and justifications for those ad hominems.

    And that if you had the time and energy to reply, you would have seen hardnose’s comment as an instructive example because of how it echoed a lot of mainstream arguments skeptics have to deal with everyday.

  173. mumadaddon 03 Dec 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Quadruple down. I have a duvet like that.

  174. BillyJoe7on 03 Dec 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Cozy,

    You said, without qualification, that a synonym is always a synonym.
    I looked up a list of synonyms and easily found two counter-examples.

    This was my first example:
    Despite “close” and “shut” being on the list of synonyms, I have clearly shown that it is not true that they are always synonyms.
    You objected that “close” is pronounced differently in my two sentences.
    This is true, but so what? I have still shown that it is not true that a synonym is always a synonym.

    And you simply ignored my second example:
    In both sentences, “box” is pronounced exactly the same.
    I guess now you will have to make another exception – you can’t use a different meaning of the same word. But, again, so what?
    I have still clearly shown that it is not true that a synonym is always a synonym.

    And, of course, you haven’t been able to reference any expert who states that a synonym is always a synonym, the reason being that, even when we are careful to use the same pronunciation and the same meaning, I think it is still not true that a synonym is always a synonym.
    When someone says they were surprised but not shocked, they are clearly not using synonyms.
    Case closed, shut, boxed, and packaged.

  175. Steve Crosson 03 Dec 2016 at 11:12 pm

    cozying:

    “Shock is an emotion, not a rational mathematical adjective for a probability.”
    That’s what firmly establishes the context of the next line which you quoted … Go read it again, I was clearly talking about how shock isn’t a statistical term it is an emotional term, and attempts to reduce shock vs surprise to dice rolls are inappropriate analogies.

    You are delusional. You clearly don’t even understand something as basic as an analogy. You may wish to live in your own reality, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to accept your arbitrary rules.

    Of course shock is an emotion — which might possibly occur in any number of situations. It is perfectly reasonable to regard anything which occurs (on average) one out of every six times that it might happen as not particularly shocking at least in my opinion and many others.

    Are you so childish and insecure that you can’t even accept the fact that someone else has a different opinion on whether something is shocking or not? That is pathetic.

    “Shocking or Not” is an individual judgement call that has no possible right or wrong answer. To insist otherwise proves that you are either an asshole or a troll or both.

    P.S. Pretending that Dr. Novella would support your nonsense is another childish game that you are not very good at. While Dr. N. occasionally smacks people down (very gently) when they get too far out of line (or tedious), he has never overtly supported any commenter.

  176. BillyJoe7on 03 Dec 2016 at 11:50 pm

    I think what cozy is trying so ineffectually to say (gut punch) is that people who act on emotion rather than probability would have been shocked rather than surprised (body kick) regardless of the 1/6 odds of this happening, leaving unsaid that someone who tempers their emotional reaction with probability, would have been surprised rather than shocked (ear box).

    Analogy: people who act on emotion would not hesitate to buy lottery tickets despite the odds stacked against them, but those who temper their emotion with probability would tend not buy lottery tickets.

  177. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 12:19 am

    Steve Cross,

    Steven Novella doesn’t have to come and say that he thinks your ad hominems are inappropriate. He doesn’t have overtly support my claim that it’s illogical to rationalize and justify personally attacking someone for making a common new age argument like: you can’t know the afterlife isn’t real or science is materialism.

    He doesn’t have to say that you calling me: delusional, pathetic, childish, and insecure,(all just in your most recent post), is a personal attack. Or that it’s rude and has no place in a civilized discussion.

    It’s in tons of his other blog posts, articles, lectures, sections on his podcast, it’s even in his courses on how to think critically.

    If you and others want to keep saying that Steven Novella doesn’t believe these things, you better start bringing some evidence to the table.

    “You clearly don’t even understand something as basic as an analogy.”

    Clearly I do understand the concept of an analogy. I explicitly said in my original post and the thing that you quoted, that I felt like reducing a complex emotional reaction to a roll of a die, was a false analogy. Because it is. First definitionally, the vast majority of statistical models had it at less than 1/10, not 1/6. Second, a political nobody who spews anti science and conspiratorial claims, winning the election is a little more shocking, and a lot more complicated, than rolling a 6 on a die.

    My analysis that you quoted would be impossible without at least some working knowledge of analogous reasoning.

    P.S. When are you gonna reply to my rebuttal to that claim you made defending billy? Remember, you said I cherry picked the definition of synonym? Also when are you gonna explain how your personal attacks are examples of legit critical thinking, and how it’s okay to personally attack people?

  178. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 1:12 am

    Billy,

    Dude. Let it go. Even cc, who hates me more than we can imagine, has said that you were wrong and stopped defending you:

    “I am not concerned about BJ& quote. We all know what it says and what he meant. It is not literally true…”

    Brief enough for you?

    If not then see the following direct quote of yours:

    [Please close the door.
Thesaurus: synonym of “close” is “shut”. Therefore:
Please shut the door.
    Sit close to me.
Thesaurus: synonym of “close” is “shut”. Therefore:
Sit shut to me.]

    To sit “close” to someone, relies on the definition of “close” meaning “a short distance away.” This “close is pronounced one way and is not a synonym for “shut.”

    To “close” a door, relies on the definition of “close” meaning “to cover an opening.” This “close” is pronounced a different way, and is a synonym for “shut.”

    Google “define close” you can even see them labeled as close 1 and close 2.

    These two forms of “close” are not synonyms. This is because they mean completely different things. They are not close in meaning either. I know, they are spelled the same way, but they are different. The most pedantic detail ever. I know.

  179. BillyJoe7on 04 Dec 2016 at 1:18 am

    Cozy,

    Thanks for mischaracterising ccbowers comment.
    And thanks for repeating what I just said about the word “close”.
    And thanks for not acknowledging that you were wrong when you said that a synonym is always a synonym.

  180. BillyJoe7on 04 Dec 2016 at 1:22 am

    …in fact, the evidence is that you didn’t even read my comment.
    Please, if you’re not going to be bothered reading my comment, don’t reply. Dude.

  181. CKavaon 04 Dec 2016 at 7:54 am

    Cozying: “That blurb of mine only has two sentences in it, and you left out the one that establishes the context?! What’s your excuse for that?”

    Emmm… my ‘excuse’ is I quoted the relevant part for brevity. You think the previous sentence makes my point completely irrelevant, I disagree. Sorry for not replying according to your preferences but (…and this might be helpful to remember for future reference) that’s not how discussions work. I don’t need to explain myself for not writing exactly what you want. I don’t think the preamble changes the main point, you do. Lets leave it to those reading (God bless you all!) to decide.

    As for the rest…Holy moses, when you said, ” Seriously didn’t your momma teach you to not expose yourself to crazy people on the internet?” I guess you were referring to yourself, eh? And what happened to all those lectures about ad hominems? I thought the attempts to make me feel bad for not being as famous as some drummer were bad but seems that was just the starting course! Pffft… why even bother asking about consistency or self-awareness at this point.

    I’m sorry everyone else for the following, it’s a bizarre (semi-defensive) tangent about my research career, please feel free to ignore.

    – Response to cozy re: my research –

    You are simultaneously displaying a weird insecurity about my ‘fancy’ education, alongside a rather determined effort to denigrate my current research, as if doing so will somehow validate your arguments more. You have also now looked more deeply into the journals and citations for things I’ve published than I have! Congratulations…

    In response to the various petty snideness and insecure projection:

    Overall- I am 6-months post PhD, so I’m not that bothered about my current publication record. Check back in 12 months time and I suspect there will be plenty more for you to complain about- peer review takes time. Also, none of the journals I’m currently published in are ‘pay-to-play’ (except for PLoS ONE which has an open source fee) and all were peer reviewed- apart from the articles for non-academic audiences, like the Aeon article (which was still mercilessly edited and re-edited).

    Pacific Affairs- That’s a book review. I was requested to review it and am at the stage where such an offer remains flattering. Pacific Affairs is a journal of book reviews- it has many such reviews from people I respect, it is actually pretty well known. It’s not well cited because errr… it’s a journal of academic book reviews (Oh and the book I reviewed is interesting btw I recommend it!)

    Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie- That’s a philosophy journal, that was selected by the third author of that article (who I believe is a philosopher). I had/have no objection to submitting there because the article a) is a very theoretical piece, b) that journal has a pretty quick turnaround for reviews and we wanted to get it out sooner, and c) we hoped some theology/philosophy types might respond to it. I also admit there was novelty in having a publication in a bilingual English-German philosophy journal. I’m happy with the paper and I think I’ll look back fondly on publishing there!

    Claiming to be a qualified expert on religion, ritual and philosophy- I’m not sure where I specifically claimed this? Indeed, you are the one repeatedly trying to label me as a philosopher! I said ‘I am a researcher working on ritual cognition’ and I am. I referenced publications related to the current debate after several inferences from you that those disagreeing with you haven’t really thought properly about the topic. So the ‘expert’ thing is your hangup but after your crowing about ‘debunking’ above, I’m somewhat more inclined to defend myself, so…

    If I have any expertise/qualifications, it is in the area of religion and ritual- my recent, rather punishing, doctorate was specifically on those topics. I am currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford on a project about … you guessed it- Ritual and Cognition! Your assessments of my publication record notwithstanding, I am also well enough regarded in my field to have recently wrote the encyclopedia entry for ‘Ritual & Cognition’ (appearing in a forthcoming ‘International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology’, published by Wiley- since you care about these things, feel free to add that to your records of my publications). This then is perhaps the one and only chance I will ever get to say: I wrote the encyclopaedia on ritual and cognition! Thanks 😉

    I told you my identity and give the above info not to demonstrate my “objective awesomeness” (again your hangup) but because you repeatedly implied I was not what I said I am. But all I actually said was that I was a) a researcher of ritual cognition and b) an infrequent commenter on the blog and I am definitely both of those. I referenced my publications for the reasons I indicated above and yes, philosophy journals do let non-philosophers publish if they think the paper is of sufficient quality. Why do you want me to be a philosopher? Or is that part of a somewhat incongruous effort to imply I am not the (bad) researcher you are debunking?

  182. Steven Novellaon 04 Dec 2016 at 8:28 am

    BJ – I think you are wrong about the “close” example. They are homographs – two different words with different meanings but spelled the same.

    Your position is valid, that is just a bad example.

    The real point, in my opinion, is that while two words may be synonyms, that does not mean they are exactly the same.

    The definition of synonym: “A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language.”

    Nearly the same is also slightly different, meaning that two synonyms can have a different connotation (“an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning”).

    “Surprised” and “shocked” may be synonyms, but they are not exactly the same, and have different connotations. “Shocked” is clearly stronger than “surprised.”

    Further, while some people may have been shocked as an emotional response, despite the math, it is perfectly reasonable that other people were only surprised because they focused more on the math and less on their emotions.

    It is difficult to make any judgments about the media, because they are often deliberately histrionic. They habitually say that something which is mildly interesting is “shocking” and therefore are not a good barometer.

  183. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 9:30 am

    Billy,
    What? Two words that are synonymous are still always synonyms for each other. The two forms of close that you conflated are technically two different words, one is a synonym for shut, the other is not. Seriously, if you can’t drop this how are we supposed to have an argument about the afterlife?

  184. tmac57on 04 Dec 2016 at 9:36 am

    Steve Novella- Cozying told you to go Ctrl-F yourself! I was shocked and surprised, and that is something up with which I would not put!

    😉

  185. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 9:53 am

    Kcava,

    Saying something is well known, with no evidence to support that claim, especially in response to evidence against it, is not an argument.

    Actually those two journals are not well known. “Pacific Affairs” does have book reviews, but it describes itself as a “…journal focussing on important current political, economic, and social issues throughout Asia and the Pacific.” They publish the impact factor on their own site.

    You literally identified yourself as a researcher and someone who knows and studies this topic “belief in the afterlife” in an attempt to win an online argument in a comment section of an obscure blog. It’s fair game.

    As if that isn’t sad enough. You even posted a link to an article in one of the most obscure journals I have ever seen. Literally the title is in German, but it’s German plus English? Maybe if the journal was a hundred years old or something I could understand. But it started in he 80’s. You posted this link to showcase yourself as someone who has relevant expertise in the area being discussed.

    My original points, how you came into the comments late, to openly justify and rationalize the ad hominems against me and hardnose, still stand. And are perfect examples of how not to think critically and how not to argue. It doesn’t matter how many Doctoral degrees you have, you are still wrong. No it wasn’t okay to attack hardnose and myself personally for discussing the belief in the afterlife. And no your background doesn’t make you justified.

  186. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 10:10 am

    Kcava,

    Additionally, you don’t have be a specialist in the obscure area of “ritual and cognition” to comment on hardnose’s arguments: skeptics know the afterlife isn’t real, or science is materialism.

    Your expertise is one questionable thing, you openly justifying and rationalizing other people’s ad hominems and even dishing out some of your own against hardnose, is quite a different thing.

  187. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 10:29 am

    Steven Novella,

    I completely disagree, Billy’s position is not valid. It’s an ad reductio absurdum deconstruction of one line of mine. It’s very obvious, him and others used similar contradictory statements.

    The “close” misunderstanding is just the most recent mistake he made. Originally he said that it was impossible for shock and surprise to be synonyms because they are used in two different ways. That’s false by definition. I know it’s obvious, but him along with about 3 other people insulted me and defended his position for about two weeks now.

    It is completely true that I did say the words are synonymous. I also explained that synonymy refers to a similarity in meaning, many times. Never did I say that they have to mean the exact same thing in all contexts. I only did this after others took my complex thoughts on the matter and reduced them to a debate about the meaning of shock vs surprise.

    That wasn’t my original point. My point was about challenging a contrarian post hoc analysis of the election results based on polling data. I explicitly said that I doubt their lack of “shock” for various reasons. And that reducing the shock of:
    the ascension of the embodiment of uncritical thinking, to the highest office in the land;
    to
    a dice roll, was not an appropriate analogy/reduction.

  188. CKavaon 04 Dec 2016 at 10:41 am

    cozying,

    1. My username is CKava not Kcava. Small point I know, but I think its indicative of how much care you take with your posts. You can remember it by thinking about the initials of my actual name, you know the one attached to the publications you were just googling and posting about?

    2. However Pacific Affairs describes itself it is primarily a book review journal. For instance, the current issue of the article has 5 articles and 50+ reviews. Of course they publish the impact factor, they are an academic journal. That doesn’t alter the content. And what is the argument actually here? I didn’t publish a book review after being asked? Because I can assure you, I did.

    3. I do study belief in the afterlife: it is a significant part of the cognitive science of religion- the field I’m trained in. I’ve personally conducted studies on the effects of religious belief, mortality salience, and prosociality. I also recently organised a panel at the International Association of Cross Cultural Psychologists on ‘Religion & Negative Emotions’ which was mostly focused on talks related to fear of death. My main focus is Ritual Cognition, many rituals are related to afterlife beliefs- funerals for example.

    4. I’m very happy to have expanded your awareness of obscure bilingual philosophy journals. I’ve already explained why we decided to publish there and that I’m happy with the article. I’d recommend reading it before judging it rather than getting so worked up about my impact factor. I will also be keeping this particular reference even dearer now that I know just how much it upset one of the most pedantic comment thread trolls I have ever come across. Thanks to your in-depth analyses, I am also happy that our paper seems to be bucking the norm for that particular journal. I don’t know L.D. Meinecke and I think I’ve met H. Van Eyghen at a conference, however if I bump into either of them again in the future I’ll be sure to say cheers for the citations! So thanks for the heads-up 😉

    5. I do have relevant expertise in the areas of ritual, religion, and cognition. But this is REALLY not the kind of crowd-pleasing boast that you seem to take it as. It’s a pretty narrow speciality, which just happens to be relevant this particular discussion.

    6. I haven’t argued that my background somehow makes personal attacks justified. I have however argued that you (regardless of your background) make plenty of personal attacks and frequently argue against straw-man positions of your own construction. Like this one. I have also argued that taking someone’s posting history into account is reasonable- and it is (again) something which you do but then complain about- almost every one of your posts raises grudges from previous comments or comment threads.

    7. Your hangups about my education and research are your own issue. I mentioned them because you repeatedly stated I was not ‘what I said I was’ and then seemed to be implying I was some newly invented sock-puppet. For future reference, if this is how you react to finding out someone’s identity I strongly suggest you just don’t make it an issue in future pedantic marathons.

    I’m about at my limit now so I think I’ll bid you farewell at this point. Enjoy the rest of your martyrdom.

  189. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 11:57 am

    Kcava*,
    tl;dr : you think you are the best

    Still no explanation for:

    -how you completely ignored half of a small blurb of mine to address something outside of the context which I was talking about. I explicitly said that shock isn’t a mathematical term that can easily be expressed in the analogy everyone keeps using. You cherrypicked the half without the context to address the probability. I mean if it was a simple mistake sure, people are allowed to do that, I would forgive and forget and move on. But as I previously demonstrated, you do this all the time, this combined with your supposed phd and expertise points to intellectual dishonestly and deliberate deception to win an argument. If you did this on a test in response to a simple proposition you would flat out fail because you didn’t address what the thing you quoted actually meant.

    -your description of my “absolute refusal” to admit to a misunderstanding, meanwhile some simple Ctrl+F searches reveal many examples of me explicitly saying that I misunderstood his originally poorly crafted sentence, and that I made a basic assumption. I even clearly said we talked passed each other. That is just an embarrassing mistake for a phd. And no that’s not an ad hominem, PhDs are supposed to signify intellectual rigour and objective thought.

    -you coming in as an objective outsider, to rationalize and justify personal attacks against hardnose and myself. Combined with not noticing multiple personal attacks and insults directed against me such as: troll, ignorant, insecure, illiterate, childish etc. Go right now, and find some examples of me personally attacking people like that. Go I challenge you kcava, Ctrl+F away.

    So yeah it’s been days of this, don’t expect more replies to your attacks on me. You make insane claims that contradict the actual history of the discussion. I literally don’t have to say anything new. The words I wrote before your replies already address your new arguments. You exemplify my arguments for me, by quoting fallacious arguments which I already addressed as evidence and that’s just when you don’t deliberately make up stuff.

  190. Steve Crosson 04 Dec 2016 at 2:22 pm

    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.

    As you did in the very beginning of this entire pathetic waste of time. ccbowers said “surprised”, you misquoted him as “shocked” and then tried to cover your ass by claiming the two words are synonyms and then cherry-picking a definition of synonym that said they mean the same thing. Conveniently ignoring the fact that synonyms are often only nearly the same, and that meaning depends on context.

    All of which is completely irrelevant. By your own definition (“Shock is an emotion, not a rational mathematical adjective for a probability.”), it is impossible for you to meaningfully judge whether someone else is surprised or shocked or any other emotion. Emotions are entirely subjective. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, fears and preferences. Two people can have entirely different emotional reactions to the same event, yet neither can be said to be right or wrong.

    Your initial premise was fatally flawed. You can never be logically justified in claiming that someone else’s emotional reaction is either right or wrong. Emotions are subjective — case closed.

    Speaking of misrepresenting people, I have never said that “personal attacks are examples of legit critical thinking”. I did say:

    Everyone knows that ad hominem attacks are generally considered to be an informal logical fallacy because they have nothing whatsoever to do with the truth of the actual discussion topic. That doesn’t mean that the ad hom comments aren’t accurate, and at least occasionally, justified.
    Conversely, playing the ad hom victim card does nothing to support the claimant’s argument.

    and I stand by every word.

    You can whine all day long about the nasty names you have been called, but it still doesn’t mean that your actual arguments are more likely to be either true or false. No one is claiming that you are wrong because you are an asshole — they are simply pointing out that you are logically wrong. You earned all the epithets simply because of your childish reactions and your inability to accept defeat.

    Now, if you want a real example of an ad hominem attack used fallaciously, you need only to look at your own words. While admittedly mild, when you accused ccbowers and others of being “contrarian”, you implicitly attacked what they are (at least in your opinion) rather than what they said.

    As I said, that was pretty mild, and probably no one would think twice about it if that was where the conversation ended. But still, it was completely irrelevant and logically fallacious. It had nothing at all to do with the soundness of the underlying logic. Even assuming that it is possible to debate the logic of emotions in the first place.

    For yet another misrepresentation, I never said that Dr. Novella would approve of personal insults. I merely said that he was very unlikely to ever support your particular actions. In fact, in the past, Dr. N has explicitly called out hardnose for engaging in exactly the same tactics that you use, i.e. consistently misrepresenting your opponents position and incessant whining about perceived injustice.

    In summary, let me repeat: You are wrong and have been wrong the entire time. Everyone knows this and agrees, with the possible exception of your alter ego (hardnose). Your blatant lies and misrepresentations are just feeble attempts at diversion which have failed miserably.

    But here is some very good advice. Always try to remember the:

    First Rule of Holes:

    When you are in one, stop digging.

  191. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Kcava,

    My original clearly says the following in one section:
    [Shock is an emotion, not a rational mathematical adjective for a probability. There is a massive difference between a 1/6 roll on a die, and an Orange-tinted trashcan fire being elected the leader of the free world.]

    Your original response:
    [cozying: “There is a massive difference between a 1/6 roll on a die, and an Orange-tinted trashcan fire being elected the leader of the free world.”
    In terms of significance to the world, yes.
In terms of underlying probability, not really, if you are following models suggesting he has a roughly 20% chance.]

    Your justification:
    [Emmm… my ‘excuse’ is I quoted the relevant part for brevity. You think the previous sentence makes my point completely irrelevant, I disagree. Sorry for not replying according to your preferences but (…and this might be helpful to remember for future reference) that’s not how discussions work. I don’t need to explain myself for not writing exactly what you want. I don’t think the preamble changes the main point, you do. Lets leave it to those reading (God bless you all!) to decide.]

    Your selected quote and subsequent response completely misrepresent my words. It’s not up for debate. It’s a massive mistake.

    Your justification is “brevity,” for real? And you think you did a good job? Actually you do have to respond to what your opponent says and means, not some cherrypicked line of your choosing. That’s the whole point of intellectual discourse. Or else we aren’t even having a conversation, let alone an argument. You are having a completely separate conversation, about something I didn’t not mean by your selected quotation.

    Logically equivalent analogy for what you did:
    {Surprise is an emotion, not a probability term. Using a dice throw analogy, to express the surprise associated with a complex outcome like a presidential race is not a fair analogy, there is a massive difference between the two.}

    {um actually the probability is the same, ur wrong, again}

  192. BillyJoe7on 04 Dec 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Steven,

    “Your position is valid, that is just a bad example”

    Thanks for that, and I agree it was a bad example.

  193. BillyJoe7on 04 Dec 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Cozy,

    “Seriously, if you can’t drop this how are we supposed to have an argument about the afterlife?”

    You always miss the wood for the trees.

    You were wrong to say ccbowers was “not surprised” by the election result.
    He clearly said that he was “surprised but not shocked”.
    You were wrong to counter this by saying “surprised” and “shocked” are synonyms.

    As for the afterlife:
    My position is that there is no good evidence for afterlives and good reasons to believe that they do not exist. Sort of the same as my position on gods.

  194. DrNickon 04 Dec 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Speaking of Santa Claus, there was quite the kerfuffle this weekend over the Mall of America’s decision to hire a black Santa:

    http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/santa-is-white-boycott-mall-of-america-online-racists-are-having-a-meltdown-over-malls-black-santa/

    Strangely, it seems to be only the parents who have a problem with this – the kids apparently having yet to learn how to turn a fun festive fictional character into an object of bigotry. I’m assuming that Tomi Lahren is okay with it though, since she doesn’t see race.

  195. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Steve Cross,

    I am not hardnose. These conspiracy theories proposed by you and others that I’m some kind sock puppet for a long time poster have no evidence. They are an examples of prejudice and ad hominems though. Conflation of concepts, and even people, seems to be a theme here, I’ve noticed. If I’m labelled as someone you all already hate, than you can ignore me easier.

    It’s just like how I was described as anti science and pro religion for taking: “the afterlife can’t be disproven” seriously and responding.

    I guess you won’t believe me, so being a diligent person, I went over the “evidence.” Hardnose has a completely different worldview and communication style. Hardnose prefers to hit with cute one liners and run, I hit much harder and fight a long war of attrition. Hardnose says things to provoke people and then doesn’t respond, I stay and respond, and actively encourage people to reply. I don’t know if he hates Steven, or just tries to get his attention, either way, he gets a lot of direct responses from Steven for an apparent “troll” who’s been here for years. Regardless of what hardnose believes, he insults and attacks Steven directly and misrepresents his views. I on the other hand, think Steven is awesome and say things like “he wouldn’t agree with your ad hominems” which I feel is pretty consistent with his positions. Hardnose also makes a lot of fallacious arguments, things that are easily disproven and false by definition. Not something I do. Though I’m sure you are scoffing at that right now.

    You then go on to repeat false arguments that I already knocked down. I never cherry picked the definition of synonym, I always said that it’s about similar meaning between two words. Just drop it. Billy was wrong by definition. He explicitly said something that was incorrect and then went on to make numerous more mistakes in further ad reductio ad absurdum versions.

    The emotional shock/surprise of the presidential election outcome, cannot be accurately reduced to a dice throw. Period.

    Now onto ad hominems:

    “That doesn’t mean that the ad hom comments aren’t accurate, and at least occasionally, justified.”

    Right there is a statement that Steven Novella would not agree with.

    An ad hominem is a specific logical fallacy, it’s when you ignore what an opponent is saying and attack them instead of the argument. It is illogical and a bad form of argumentation.

    What you seem to be describing is just throwing insults at people “who deserve it.” Which I don’t agree with. That’s not what an ad hominem is.

    There are numerous ad hominems that you used against me. You labeled me a troll. Challenged my motivations, intelligence, literacy, and confidence as some quick examples instead of actually addressing what I had to say. Look at your introduction to your reply. That entire thing is a personal attack, and it happens to be a conspiracy claim with no evidence.

    In this comment thread, all I did was say that hardnose made pretty widely believed new age arguments, and that no one gave an actual good argument about that. They chose to attack him instead. Literally no one, other than me, said anything like “actually dude I think Steven was talking about pet heaven not the traditional afterlife, science isn’t actually not materialism, there’s lots of unfalsifiable claims that we don’t worry about, science only deals with things we can disprove” etc.

    Among the insults, people gave some arguments against him that were cherry picked, in a rebuttal against me. They were all horrible arguments though. Mosben’s the burden of proof argument doesn’t apply to religious reasoning. It makes as much sense as demanding a priest show you god or you won’t believe, the burden of proof is on the priest right? If he wants you to believe he should prove it.

    That concept doesn’t stop millions of people from believing, and has nothing to do with the “cognition and belief.” This is a horrible argument for another reason, hardnose could have said “hey show me an atom if you want me to believe, not a photograph, not some screen from a machine, not a model, not some light shining on my retina, show me an actual honest to God atom or I won’t believe in your materialistic science.” I have seen actual theologians argue this, and say that therefore science relies on belief too.

    Kabbor expressed the problem incorrectly and basically implied that science is materialism. And on it went.

    You guys personally attacked me for days for simply taking hardnose’s arguments seriously and providing a good response to them. Oh and for saying that Steven Novella would have seen it as an instructive example, not something to personally attack someone over.

  196. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 5:56 pm

    tl;dr: if you snap and insult people for making common new age arguments, instead of refuting them, why are you on a blog dedicated to scientific skepticism?

    Also, in going over hardnose’s own words on this page, I don’t see anything like the colorful adjectives you guys used against him and I. Not a single rude offensive label.

  197. tmac57on 04 Dec 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Pedantry + verbosity + tenacity = boring*

    [* I would have used ‘banality’, because it scanned better, but it wasn’t an ‘exact synonym’ .]

  198. CKavaon 04 Dec 2016 at 6:55 pm

    No interest in continuing an endless counterproductive debate with you cozy but you’re complete lack of perspective does make for entertaining reading.

    cozy: “Your selected quote and subsequent response completely misrepresent my words. It’s not up for debate. It’s a massive mistake.”
    – Oh no, I think I’ve made a massive mistake! I wonder if anyone else on this thread knows the kind of feeling you describe?

    “You are having a completely separate conversation, about something I didn’t not mean by your selected quotation.”
    – “Didn’t not mean?” and again lol @ unintended irony.

  199. Steve Crosson 04 Dec 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Cozy,

    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’ve repeatedly claimed that you are familiar enough with this blog to confidently predict Steve Novella’s opinions about a variety of subjects. If that is true, then you must have noticed that hardnose has been engaged literally hundreds of times by dozens of people. Most of these interactions start out quite respectfully because even hardnose has realized that people only respond when he pretends to be reasonable.

    It is only when hardnose starts misrepresenting people or is otherwise intellectually dishonest that things descend to acrimony. Feel free to put your money where your mouth is, and debate him to your heart’s content. The rest of us refuse to engage with his duplicity. Even the supposedly reasonable comments he has posted in the last few threads are the exact same comments which have previously been debated ad nauseam. Again, you should know all this if you really are familiar with the history of this blog.

    I don’t care if you are hardnose or not. You use exactly the same dishonest argumentative techniques that he does. Some examples:

    The emotional shock/surprise of the presidential election outcome, cannot be accurately reduced to a dice throw. Period.

    No one (including CKava) has ever said that it could be. His original point was quite clear. The level of shock experienced is analogous to the likelihood of an event occurring. He never said or implied equivalence.

    And more to the point, you are (quite cowardly) refusing to address the real point. Emotions are subjective and can not be quantified, period, therefore your original premise is faulty.

    “That doesn’t mean that the ad hom comments aren’t accurate, and at least occasionally, justified.”
    Right there is a statement that Steven Novella would not agree with.
    An ad hominem is a specific logical fallacy, it’s when you ignore what an opponent is saying and attack them instead of the argument. It is illogical and a bad form of argumentation.

    Which is exactly what I said before you took my quote out of context. The immediately preceding line: “Everyone knows that ad hominem attacks are generally considered to be an informal logical fallacy because they have nothing whatsoever to do with the truth of the actual discussion topic.”

    It was clear from the context that “ad hom comment” (as opposed to attack) referred to insults (as in, ad hominem — against man) instead of a logical argument.

    I’ve said several times now that I know that insults are inappropriate argumentative tools, and I’m not trying to use them that way. That doesn’t mean that when you or anyone else acts like a jerk, I’m going to let it slide. As I said before, you’re not wrong because you’re an asshole — you’re just wrong because you’re wrong.

  200. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Steve Cross,

    “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.”

    Absolutely hilarious. Literally laughing so hard right now. I will do this all without adding a new response to hardnose.

    Cozying nov 29th 2016:

    In response to multiple people giving evidence for disproving the afterlife and ignoring what he said:

    “…. what hardnose is clearly talking about, is how science can’t disprove or prove a belief. You can’t prove the afterlife doesn’t exist. That is fundamentally true. Modern science deals with the falsifiability of hypotheses. You can’t use science to say god doesn’t exist or to prove he does. Everyone chiming in to cheerlead atheism is completely ignoring a very valid philosophical point hardnose brought up.”

    In reference to his claim that scientists ‘know’ the afterlife is fiction:

    “I’m not an atheist because I believe in scientific facts, I’m an atheist because I believe in the logic of it and the fact that it’s not necessary to involve an ultimate creator. If god didn’t need to be created, then why can’t you just walk that logic back one step, and say then the universe doesn’t need a creator either. I don’t “know” that god or the afterlife is fiction, I just strongly suspect it, and recognize that it’s not testable. I also don’t believe because of all the harm religious thinking does to so many people all over the world, and as a woman I find the inherent misogyny to be a systematic problem.”

    In reference to his metaphysical point about materialistic science:

    “Most people who write about the philosophy of science and, specifically it’s intersection with metaphysics, don’t believe in “materialism.” Even Hawking in the grand design talks about how the correct philosophical world view for modern scientists is something more like scientific realism. Where scientific models point to an underlying truth that we can never really be sure actually exists.”

    Additionally, cozying nov 30 2016:

    In response to insulting comments made by other posters, including stevea describing all religious people as afraid and believing in fairytales:

    “A lot of people just believe in an afterlife because it’s something they were taught at a young age. It’s an endemic part of their culture. This type of categorization, personal attack, only deepens the divide between skeptics and believers. I try to just find common ground, teach some basic logic skills, and not worry about what their religion is. As skeptics we don’t insult people for what they were taught to believe as a kid.”

    In reference to NDEs:

    “Clearly you and your opponent have different definitions of the word data. Some people find the thousands of NDE stories to be really compelling. Instead of helping them understand what the nature of good evidence is, again you chose to attack, insult and use a gross analogy. You should have said something along the lines of: there are many possible explanations for NDE that don’t involve visions of the after life, for example, neurosurgeons have been able to artificially create these types of experiences during surgery by stimulating certain parts of their patients’ brains. Also NDEs tend to be culturally dependent, Christians see Jesus but people from other cultures see their respective afterlives. And some of them are negative experiences. People also have out of body experiences during these NDEs and can’t actually accurately remotely view the things they claim they saw. This points to a natural explainable, culturally relative, phenomena instead of proof of an afterlife.”

    Cozying dec 1 2016:

    In reference to tone, and what it means to be a real skeptic:

    “As a community we have to keep in mind that the world is watching. Attacking a “troll” isn’t helping. And especially if this “troll” is on a skeptic blog, by attacking him personally and ignoring his points, you are losing, he just exposed your personal bias, you heard “I’m arguing for religion” and saw red.
    You are what you do, if you don’t practice communicating clearly, you get intellectually lazy.
    Think about if you were a first time reader of this blog, you read the article above and then these comments. Let’s assume you are slightly new age and are trying to dip your toes into skepticism. You would probably side with hardnose.
    Hardnose echoed very common pop culture new age arguments. His arguments are very popular positions in lots of popular books on spirituality and among “experts,” especially the NDEs thing, tons of people love those.
    You then see comment after comment ignore something you learned in philosophy 101 and attack and insult him.
    I firmly believe that you would be pretty turned off and pushed away from skepticism. I also know that Steven Novella doesn’t agree with this approach. He is always kind and respectful in his treatment of sensitive issues like this, and he always makes the point that skepticism is not atheism. He also understands that when you attack someone personally, or poke directly at these religious nerves, you bring their guard up and they look for any reason to dismiss what you have to say.”

    Umm checkmate? Thanks for playing.

  201. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Oh wait. Are you gonna accuse me of cherry picking my own work again? Notice the complete paragraphs and especially the dates. You can use Ctrl+F to verify their existence.

  202. Steve Crosson 04 Dec 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Cozy,

    if you had bothered, even once, to directly reply to hardnose

    No, thank you for conceding.

    Come back after you have spent countless hours fruitlessly arguing with hardnose directly.

    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.

  203. Steve Crosson 04 Dec 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Cozy,

    BTW, still waiting for you to admit that your original premise is fatally flawed because it is impossible to meaningfully compare anything as subjective as emotions.

    And, to confess that you have been arguing for days because you are too insecure to accept that someone else might have a different opinion than you do about whether the election was shocking or not.

  204. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Oh I guess saying “hardnose” and making the reference to his arguments all those times doesn’t count as replying directly to him.

    Now you want to debate the meaning of directly.

  205. CKavaon 04 Dec 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Steve Cross: “No one (including CKava) has ever said that it could be. His original point was quite clear. The level of shock experienced is analogous to the likelihood of an event occurring. He never said or implied equivalence.”

    Bingo. Impressive how you got that despite my MASSIVE mistake.

  206. Steve Crosson 04 Dec 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Cozy,

    Like I said, “Come back after you have spent countless hours fruitlessly arguing with hardnose directly.”

    It is quite a different experience when you are the person being annoyed instead of the one inflicting the pain.

  207. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Steve Cross,

    “Not saying it proves you are a sockpuppet, but you aren’t doing a very good job of convincing us otherwise.”

    Again with the puppetry conspiracy theory. For the last time, I’m not a ventriloquist nor am I hardnose. You sure you are on the right blog? I gave you evidence for why I’m a different person. Where’s your counter? Here you are again repeating yourself, with no acknowledgement of the tons of differences between me and hardnose.

    [Like I said, “Come back after you have spent countless hours fruitlessly arguing with hardnose directly. It is quite a different experience when you are the person being annoyed instead of the one inflicting the pain.]

    Wait so I’m not hardnose?

    I don’t have to spend hours arguing with hardnose. Also about the “directly” issue, if I didn’t reply to him why did he come back and reply to my points about his arguments? I clearly had an objective. I responded to hardnose and to basically all the people who responded to him. You said why didn’t I show how a real skeptic does it. I mean, did you actually read the selected quotes I just gave you? I said numerous things along the lines of: this is what you should have said to hardnose, this is a list of things you didn’t say about his argument, this is the correct metaphysical framing, as skeptics we don’t insult people for what they learned as a kid, as skeptics we have to realize the world is watching etc.

    P.S. Chess etiquette doesn’t require either party to formally announce check or checkmate. But traditionally the party that says checkmate is announcing victory, not conceding.

  208. steve12on 04 Dec 2016 at 10:04 pm

    So the updates since I left seem to be:

    1. cozying is still butthurt

    He says we’ve attacked him ad hom, but even this is wrong; no one said he’s wrong BECAUSE he’s a pedant, etc. People have pointed out why he’s wrong (straw man) and then happen to include that he is also a pedant. That’s not a straw man Mr. Philosopher, it’s simply an insult.

    2. cozying is STILL straw man-ing everyone by saying that we claimed that science can prove a negative, namely prove there is no afterlife. No one ever said any such thing. You dance and dance around this, but it’s horseshit.

    ***cozying***: can you please produce statements from the main players here where we said that science can / has disproved the afterlife? Its the crux of all your points (outside of the whining) – can you produce this or not?

  209. steve12on 04 Dec 2016 at 10:07 pm

    cozying = HN = Egnor

  210. Kabboron 04 Dec 2016 at 10:23 pm

    There are a few Australians who read this blog. I wonder if they use the checkmate terminology down there… could be misunderstood as check, mate. Then there is the inevitable fistfight over what the player meant and the game gets upended. 🙂

    Just like so many comment threads. Well played everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing which comment threads this productive debate finds itself in. I’m just glad we found the common enemy: misrepresentation.

  211. Steve Crosson 04 Dec 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Cozy,

    Unless you’re willing to waste as many hours as we have engaging with hardnose, you don’t have the moral authority or credibility to lecture us on the right way to do it.

    P. S. I’m fully aware of chess rules and etiquette. When you ignore the rules and completely fail to meet a specific challenge, you have effectively conceded.

    P. P. S. So I guess your lack of response means you’re conceding the whole point about the invalid premise and your basic insecurity.

  212. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Steve Cross,

    Okay so now you are implying I’m not hardnose? What happened to the puppetry conjecture? Are we dropping that now?

    I doesn’t matter how many hours of expertise you have, or how many supposed PhDs agree with you, it’s not acceptable to keep using personal attacks against people. Period. Especially when that person did not use any of the colorful language you used against him.

  213. steve12on 04 Dec 2016 at 11:21 pm

    cozying provides piece of evidence #1 to show that maybe he is not in fact Egnor/HN:

    the level of hurt feelings he feels can only be a very young person.

    The guy lies about my et al. positions here incessantly, but then thinks it’s a crime against humanity that someone called him a pedant. Which he is.

  214. cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 11:58 pm

    steve12,

    I’m not lying about Steve Cross’ position:

    “Unless you’re willing to waste as many hours as we have engaging with hardnose, you don’t have the moral authority or credibility to lecture us on the right way to do it.”

    That statement implies me and hardnose are different people, and directly contradicts the puppetry conjecture.

    I mean the fact that these details keep slipping past your ever vigilant gaze, shouldn’t surprise anyone, since you keep referring to me in a pretty incorrect way, hint it’s in my selected quote from nov 29th.

    Thank you.

  215. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:00 am

    Additionally, I fully embraced the pedantic label, never referred to it as an insult or a personal attack. Another detail that slipped past you.

  216. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:06 am

    This is why everyone thinks your HN / why people keep insulting you.

    You dance around everyone’s questions rather than dealing with them in a direct and straightforward manner.

    I’ve ask you directly above (an several other times as well):
    “***cozying***: can you please produce statements from the main players here where we said that science can / has disproved the afterlife? Its the crux of all your points (outside of the whining) – can you produce this or not?”

    Your answer?
    “I’m not lying about Steve Cross’ position:”
    And then you go onto something different than the question I’ve asked you multiple times.

    You’re a liar. It’s not an insult, it’s simply a statement of fact.

  217. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:16 am

    Come to think of it, Egnor’s pretty thin skinned. I’m back to:

    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)

    It’s fun to be a conspiracy theorist (colloquially if not technically)

  218. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:16 am

    YOU’RE not your. God I hate when I do that…

  219. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:40 am

    Here are the posts where cozying told us that you cannot disprove the afterlife:

    # cozyingon 29 Nov 2016 at 10:24 pm
    # cozyingon 30 Nov 2016 at 8:59 am
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 1:15 am
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 11:47 am
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 12:45 pm
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 2:30 pm
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 5:12 pm
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 7:36 pm
    # cozyingon 01 Dec 2016 at 9:52 pm
    # cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 12:04 pm
    # cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 1:34 pm
    # cozyingon 02 Dec 2016 at 2:51 pm
    # cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 5:13 pm
    # cozyingon 04 Dec 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Considering that you keep arguing with us that you cannot disprove the afterlife, it’s fair to ask:

    Who said that you could?

  220. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 1:29 am

    steve12,

    Another frivolous pursuit that involves splitting hairs. You guys absolutely love taking things super literally and by definition when it suits you. Apparently I never “directly” responded to hardnose, remember that short lived conjecture?

    You don’t have to explicitly say “I can disprove the afterlife” to mean/imply that you can. In fact any response to hardnose’s simple point that you can’t disprove the afterlife, that doesn’t directly acknowledge the simple philosophical truth of that statement, can be seen as a statement in support of disproving the afterlife.

    A) you are replying to what he said B) you are not agreeing and you are setting up some kind of challenge C) has to be an inappropriate out of context reply, (like all the ad hominems) or it has to be a disagreement. There is no other logical option. I mean supposed phds like kcava think they can directly quote someone, reply and completely ignore the meaning of the thing they just quoted to address something the author wasn’t talking about. But that’s not how a logical argument works. Maybe that’s how German religious philosophy works in regards to affairs in the pacific. But I wouldn’t know, I’m not an expert on that.

    For example these responses to hardnose:

    Mosben: “People who do not have faith in an afterlife do not believe that that burden has been met and choose not to believe in something that they feel has not been proven.”

    Directly says “not been proven,” that’s a statement that implies the afterlife can be proven or disproven, it doesn’t address the unfalsifiablity/ untestable nature of the afterlife.

    Thegorrila (who I simply adore, but disagree with on this point):

    “hardnose: we actually can know for certain that there is no afterlife; the concept (as generally conceived) is incoherent.”

    Directly says we know for certain there is no afterlife. That means by definition it was testable and found to be disproven.

    Anyways I could go on, all the way down to your highly abusive words on the subject, but it’s not like anyone is actually reading this. Btw We are still waiting for you to apologize for the personal attacks or explain how all these ad hominems are examples of legit critical thinking.

  221. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 2:18 am

    “You don’t have to explicitly say “I can disprove the afterlife” to mean/imply that you can. In fact any response to hardnose’s simple point that you can’t disprove the afterlife, that doesn’t directly acknowledge the simple philosophical truth of that statement, can be seen as a statement in support of disproving the afterlife.”

    HA HA HA HA!!!! No, turns out it can’t. This isn’t interpreting “Cather in the Rye”, it’s a science blog dude. What other unstated premises in my replies to HN must I make lest I have you create a straw man in my honor? If i don’t say the sky is blue are you going to say I said it’s green?

    This was clarified for you many times and you chose to ignore so you could continue with this nonsense.

    “A) you are replying to what he said B) you are not agreeing and you are setting up some kind of challenge C) has to be an inappropriate out of context reply, (like all the ad hominems) or it has to be a disagreement. There is no other logical option. I mean supposed phds like kcava think they can directly quote someone, reply and completely ignore the meaning of the thing they just quoted to address something the author wasn’t talking about. But that’s not how a logical argument works. Maybe that’s how German religious philosophy works in regards to affairs in the pacific. But I wouldn’t know, I’m not an expert on that.”

    And now we descend into madness itself. If someone can parse what’s being said here, they’re a better person than me.

    And as far as the examples, I’ll give you Gorilla. That’s it. Take it up with him. The rest of us have not made the point. Yet you have gone on pointing out something that we all know – that an afterlife is not falsifiable – FOURTEEN goddamn times! I mean really! WE ALL KNOW!!!!!!

    And in this post you’re actually saying that if we didn’t specifically respond to HN that the afterlife can’t be disproven than we’re stating the opposite? Incoherent. 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).

  222. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 2:20 am

    Sorry, forgot:

    “…all the way down to your highly abusive words on the subject,”

    I almost forgot your very, very hurt butt Michael. Say hi to Teddy for me.

  223. SteveAon 05 Dec 2016 at 6:48 am

    Steve Cross: “Or should I just call you hardnose? Even if you are not just a sock puppet.”

    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?

    Cozy’s insecurity and dishonesty is breath-taking, both in its depth and transparency.

    Creating someone like cozy as back-up would be like a WWF heavyweight choosing Pee Wee Herman as a tag-team partner (PS, I bag the movie rights to that idea…)

  224. CKavaon 05 Dec 2016 at 6:51 am

    “And now we descend into madness itself. If someone can parse what’s being said here, they’re a better person than me.”

    lol, cozy is slowly descending into a perfect storm of obscure self-referential grudges, insecure projection and hypocrisy. I think most of the confusing randomness is intended as digs at me but I can assure you I’m not a ‘better person’ for knowing that.

  225. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 8:25 am

    “YOU’RE not your. God I hate when I do that…

    Cool … now maybe we can debate something constructive like homonyms.

  226. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 9:25 am

    This is nothing new, just more abusive ridicule in the face of basic concepts and definitions. Laugh it up.

    I really don’t see what’s so funny. What I said is fundamentally true, it’s the nature of intellectual discourse. You did not even offer an argument against it, just laugher, that’s unproductive.

    If you reply to someone, pose a challenge, without agreeing, you are disagreeing. The only other option is something that technically isn’t a “response” like all the ad hominem fallacies. Still waiting for the evidence that supports your position. Please explain to me how it’s possible to logically not disagree with a setup like that, or how in an argument it is logical quote someone, ignore everything they were saying to address something they didn’t mean by the quote you selected?

    What I’m talking about is a simple concept that guides discussions. Of course people are allowed to say whatever they want on the internet, but when you are in an argument and you literally quote people, there are basic principles that apply. If you ignore these principles you are barely having a conversation.

    The examples I gave were just the first two people to respond to hardnose, they said his name, they quoted him and they said words like “proven.” I’m sorry but how is that not a response that disagrees with “afterlife is unprovable?”

    For example see tmac’s response to thegorilla:

    “You cannot disprove an afterlife.
    I personally see it as wildly improbable, and I don’t think that there has ever been good evidence for it, so therefore I do not accept the concept of an afterlife as real, but proving my position…I can’t see a path to that.”

    That’s the first person in the comment stream to actually acknowledge the unprovable nature of the claim. He is responding to thegorrila though. This is an example of a logically coherent response, that correctly understood what hardnose was saying. He realized that it doesn’t matter if the afterlife is unprovable.

    Kabbor:

    “Scientists look for anything and everything that has affects reality. They measure those effects to the best of their physical and theoretical abilities. If they find something new it is added to the body of knowledge that you regard as “Materialism”. Materialism is then by definition everything science has ever actually proven to exist.”

    Later in response to me challenging him:

    “The point of my argument earlier is that we accept that there are knowns and unknowns. Treating the unknowns as knowns is not productive in my opinion. I’m not trying to get in another pointless semantic argument, just clarifying my position. I don’t think you are deliberately reading everything I say as hostile, but your replies come across that way.”

    Incorrect metaphysical framing and Hmm, again talking about things being “proven,” no mention of the unprovable nature of the afterlife. Literally says known and unknown, THE AFTERLIFE is not “knowable,” hardnose only said it like 3 times. Interesting?

    SteveA response to hardnose’s question why not just tell your kids you don’t “know” what happens when you die:

    “Oh…and that people who believe in an afterlife are so terrified of their own mortality that they clutch at fairy tales.”

    Directly ignoring the whole point of what hardnose said again. He literally quoted the relevant part. Hardnose was talking about how we don’t “know.” You solution is to laugh at people and insult them? Theme?

    And I could go on. Literally like you made reference to many similar responses that can be taken as implying that “the afterlife is unprovable” is fiction.

    Still waiting on your explanations and counters to basic assumptions about logical arguments.

    If these people didn’t directly quote hardnose, then yes you could say they were talking about unrelated things, this is not the case.

  227. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 9:34 am

    Steve Cross,

    Sarcasm? Does that mean you have a problem with homonyms?

  228. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 9:40 am

    If I say: A is unprovable.

    You respond: Actually it’s on the people making the claim, to prove A.

    Your response is either logically incoherent or taken to mean that A can be proved.

  229. tmac57on 05 Dec 2016 at 10:31 am

    Just for fun, I found an online tool for authorship attribution (stylometry), and used it to compare large blocks of text between HN and Egnor against Cozying, and the results were in the “uncertain” range on ‘Function word analysis’, ‘Lexical analysis’, and ‘Punctuation analysis, so if that tool has any usefulness, then take that for what it is.
    The source did have this disclaimer:

    “Disclaimer

    This tool is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. No guarantee is given as to the accuracy of the results, and the outcomes are not to be used for commercial or legal purposes.”

  230. chikoppion 05 Dec 2016 at 10:35 am

    [cozying] If I say: A is unprovable. You respond: Actually it’s on the people making the claim, to prove A. Your response is either logically incoherent or taken to mean that A can be proved.

    Here, I don’t agree. The reference to something being ‘unprovable’ (often more typically as ‘unfalsifiable’) is usually cited as justification for belief.

    To say in response that belief should be witheld until sufficient evidence is provided (your phrase, “actually, it’s on the people making the claim to prove…”) is neither incoherent nor an assertion that the premise can be proven.

    A: More money should be spent investigating ghosts as a cause for mental disorders.
    B: I don’t believe ghosts are a real thing.
    A: You can’t prove they aren’t!
    B: It’s not my job to do so. You must first demonstrate there is sufficient evidence to justify the belief.

    The response is not a comment on the nature of ‘ghosts,’ but rather a comment about epistemology.

    In other words, the context of the response matters.

  231. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 10:44 am

    Cozy,

    Let’s cut to the chase. You are a troll. Whether you admit it or not, or even whether you realize it or not, you are a troll. Perhaps just a concern troll, perhaps a garden variety “destroy things for the hell of it” troll. But, nevertheless, a troll. Your behavior speaks for itself — regardless of your intent.

    Fact: You started this whole thing by picking a fight about the appropriate level of “shock” about the election.

    It could have been a constructive discussion about the relative merits of various information sources and polling techniques, with the goal of lessening uncertainty in the future. But you chose to make it personal and about something as subjective as emotions.

    Either you’re just a troublemaker, or else you are massively insecure. You were shocked by the results and couldn’t accept the fact that some others claimed to have been less surprised. You have a childish, compulsive need to be right.

    And that is the problem. You have lost all credibility. Every single thing you say is tainted by the knowledge that we all know you are still just trying to establish your bona fides thus “proving” you were right all along.

    At this stage, you could declare that the sky is blue and we would all be looking for your hidden motives. If you ever want to be taken seriously, you could start with some honesty.

    Quit misrepresenting what other people say. When everyone but you disagrees with your interpretation, you are either lying or wrong. Deal with it.

    Almost everyone here agrees that the afterlife (or lack thereof) is technically unprovable, albeit extremely unlikely. Quit pretending that you have discovered some universal truth that we are all overlooking.

    Admit that relative degree of shock was a stupid thing to argue about in the first place — or, at least acknowledge that the point has been made. Selective engagement is hardnose’s trademark technique and the most annoying one.

    I’ve already said that I don’t care if you are a sock puppet or not, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of doubt. But when you act like hardnose, you can expect to be treated like hardnose. And, let’s face it — hardnose deserves ZERO respect.

    Which you must know after detailing the long list of supposed differences between the two of you. Yet you continue to defend him and behave in exactly the same way he does. And refuse to put in the effort to engage him directly.

    None of which proves anything one way or the other. And once again, I really don’t care. But seriously, if there is even the slightest possibility of you lying about your identity, do you really expect us to take your “evidence” at face value. Talk about illogical.

    If you really are a sincere skeptic that just wants to fit in and be accepted, you need to start acting like a grown-up. Realize that people will disagree with you on occasion. Deal with it and move on.

    There are lots of really smart people on this blog — many of them smarter than either you or me. The only person you’ll be able to fool for any length of time will be yourself. When you can finally accept that, you’ll have taken an important step towards being a better skeptic — and a better person in general.

  232. Kabboron 05 Dec 2016 at 11:18 am

    Cozying,
    I love the fact that you put in some quotes about me in your rant as though it was still somehow relevant. I ceded the materialism point immediately, as it was not particularly important to me at the time or now.

    I don’t particularly understand why you thought the inclusion of that second quote somehow makes your position better. As per standard operating procedure, you are grasping at straws.

    The point of my initial post was to point out that Steven Novella accepts the unknowns and does not authoritatively say that there is no afterlife or assert that Atheism definitely must be true (as hardnose implies). You missed that point, and assumed I was arguing something else entirely.

  233. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 11:29 am

    Going forward, I will only argue homonyms now.

  234. ccbowerson 05 Dec 2016 at 11:33 am

    “Thanks for providing a definitive and (hopefully) final deconstruction of this entire, absurd exchange. Also, props to CKava for similarly excellent work. It shouldn’t have been necessary since virtually all of the observers felt all along that your view of the subject was not only justified, but obvious.”

    Steve Cross – I’ve avoiding this page for a couple of days, because I felt the topic was well past its expiration date. It is not that I need external validation very often, but feedback is important to know if communication is being received.

    “Time to light the pedantree, throw another logorrhea on the fire and get cozy.”

    Very Nice Tmac

  235. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 11:51 am

    In all fairness, I thought I’d respond more substantively to cozying’s points.

    “But you can’t prove a negative!!!!”

    Yes, little boy. We all know that. We have worked around this in how we set up our hypothesis testing, putting the burden of proof where it belongs. This is new to you only. The take-away that this makes all events equiprobable is absurd.

    “But we don’t perceive reality DIRECTLY!!!!”

    Yes little boy. We all know that. But there’s not much we can do about it so it will just have to be axiomatic to our work. That is, we will have to assume scientific realism and let our unparalleled success at explaining the universe be our evidence.

    But you have indeed opened an unimaginable wound in scientists everywhere with your incisive insight. Metaphysics wins again. Now back to the lab to actually do something USEFUL like science. Ill leave you to your metaphysical hand wringing.

    “My butt hurts!”

    Indeed sir. Indeed.

  236. ccbowerson 05 Dec 2016 at 11:59 am

    “I think what cozy is trying so ineffectually to say (gut punch) is that people who act on emotion rather than probability would have been shocked rather than surprised (body kick) regardless of the 1/6 odds of this happening, leaving unsaid that someone who tempers their emotional reaction with probability, would have been surprised rather than shocked (ear box).”

    This is true. Somehow you’ve taken the most charitable version of cozying’s comments and made them correct. You’ve ‘steelmanned’ her arguments to the point that they bear no resemblance to her original statements. Without the parentheses I would have been confused that maybe I missed some comments by her. I see that that would be too good to be true.

  237. SteveAon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Cozy

    More selective quoting. How about referencing the whole paragraph:

    “It would be more honest to say that the pet’s body will rot into the ground, and that all their thoughts and memories dissipated to nothing the moment their brain stopped working. And that there’s no reason to think otherwise. Oh…and that people who believe in an afterlife are so terrified of their own mortality that they clutch at fairy tales.”

    HN asked for an ‘honest’ answer. So I gave him one.

    And how could any of that be construed as a statement that an afterlife is disprovable?

    You might propose that you have an invisible, immaterial gnome living under your bed. I have no way of disproving that. If that’s what you want to think – go for it. Just don’t expect me to believe it too…

  238. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:08 pm

    tmac57,

    What is the range of responses? Is it just certain vs uncertain?

    I guess I should have not quoted him and not used square brackets lol.

    I’m not hardnose.

    chikoppi,

    I agree with the approach, but we must note that you expanded on my original points and added details of your choosing that make what I said by definition fictional. For example, hardnose actually never said that he was using the unfalsifiable nature of the afterlife to argue for it. He simply said that Steven Novella ‘knows’ the afterlife is fiction and that hardnose believes that it was something you couldn’t actually disprove. You extrapolating this to mean other things ignores his own comments on the matter that are more consistent with agnosticism/new age than theism. It doesn’t matter what the history here is, that going back years he may have meant other things by these types of arguments, here in this comment stream he just pointed out a basic philosophical point, in response to a perceived statement about how the afterlife was known to be fiction. The A, B, C example of yours further defines this problem in your own words. Not mine. Not his. It has nothing to do with the point I was making.

    If someone says:
    I thought A was not knowable/disprovable.
    And you respond:
    Actually the burden is on the people making that claim about A, to prove its existence.

    Your response by definition is attempting to directly contradict/challenge your opponent’s statement, or it’s illogical. Hardnose never said he could prove that the afterlife was knownable/proveable in his original statement. Your response to that person isn’t doing the epistemological issues justice, if you wanted to address them you should have first acknowledged that it doesn’t matter if A is unknowable. Which mosben, SteveA, thegorilla, and kabbor did not do. But tmac did. This is why I used those examples. They are not cherrypicked, they are literally the first few responses to hardnose.

    The concept of the burden of proof doesn’t apply to this issue. You can’t side step the metaphysical and epistemological issues of the unfalsifiablity of the afterlife by brining up the burden of proof. Burden of proof is about two parties arguing in the same arena. Like lawyers in a courtroom, origin of the term. Or homeopaths trying to get mainstream scientific approval for their treatments.

    Steve Cross,

    Look I’ve been more than charitable with you, I’ve indulged you in some of the most ridiculous, pedantic, insane claims I’ve ever heard in my life. I took them seriously and responded respectfully.

    You most recent post is filled with the same type of things, personal attacks, blatant lies that can easily be fact checked using ctrl+F, and you repeat false arguments I knocked down days ago.

    Remember when you said that it was okay to use ad hominems? Did you google it yet? Remember when you promoted the puppetry conjecture with no evidence, did you drop that now? Am I actually not hardnose egor now? You hilariously said I didn’t respond to hardnose or show how a real skeptic does it, then got annihilated with quotes of mine from days ago, showing otherwise. Your response? A suggestion for a semantical debate over the meaning of “directly.” You know what I think you are right, I didn’t actually call up hardnose or go out to tea and “directly” respond to him, I did respond in the same medium he expressed himself in, literally said his name many times, used quotes, paraphrases and outlined problems with what he said. But that’s not good enough for you, nothing ever is, your opponent can never actually win a victory no matter how small, because that cracks your fragile ego. I don’t continue to lash out with insults and rude comments in response to respectful discourse. One of your consistent personal attacks is on my confidence, I mean given all this evidence against you, I think that’s a projection.

    Kabbor,

    Your quotes matter. You responded to hardnose’s incorrect claim about scientific materialism, by basically arguing that science is materialism and that all we do is prove and disprove things, since there is no proof of the afterlife we don’t worry about it. This all hugely matters, because you tried tackling the unfalsifiablity of the afterlife with evidence and proof and knowns vs unknowns. You missed the part about the unknowable nature of it.

  239. Kabboron 05 Dec 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I’m sorry I didn’t make the argument you wanted me to make? That clears things up.

  240. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:22 pm

    SteveA,

    As if there is any point in saying this again, but I’ll try.

    Hardnose said that it would be honest to say you: didn’t know that the afterlife was real. Technically he is right, we don’t know, but just saying that to our kids would be a disservice. The knowability doesn’t matter, you can address this issue in many of the different ways outlined by me and others right in this stream of comments.

    No it’s not an “honest answer” to say all religious people are afraid and believe in fairytales. It a rude highly opinionated statement, maybe that’s what you believe and that’s you being “honest” about it. But it’s not a fact or true. Most people just believe what they were taught as kids and are never given the skills to question. As skeptics we don’t insult people for what they were taught as children.

  241. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Kabbor,

    It’s not about me or you. It’s about skepticism and the portrayal of science. You literally argued in favour of materialism, versus a new age argument that falsely equated science with materialism. You stepped right into the trap. Science is not materialism, look it up.

  242. ccbowerson 05 Dec 2016 at 12:30 pm

    “You have a childish, compulsive need to be right.”

    SteveCross – This comment jumped out at me, and not just about cozying. (And you had other good points).

    I, and many others here, have a need to be ‘right.’ The difference is that when our view does not match evidence or reality, how do we react? How tightly do we hold onto our current view, and is this mental commitment intellectually justified?

    Everyone tends to be critical of evidence that doesn’t fit their current view. But when evidence and current view clash, we to not only have evaluate the value of the evidence, we also have to evaluate the justification of your view. If the basis for our view is flimsy, we should hold onto it less tightly. Sometimes even weak evidence has value if it forces us to realize that our current perspective is less solid than we previously thought.

    On the other hand some people in some situations “need” to be right in that their current opinion needs to be justified by evidence in the world. The is a top-> down approach. If their current perspective conflicts with the evidence, then they attack the evidence. They hold onto their beliefs like they are literally attached to them. Usually these are topics that a person either identifies with, or are so fundamental to their worldview that changing their mind requires a dismantling of many things that they view as fundamental.

    Needing to be “right” in this sense is antithetical to skepticm. It is how we get to ideology.

  243. tmac57on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Cozy- “tmac57,
    What is the range of responses? Is it just certain vs uncertain?”

    It merely tries to make a comparison of a block of text against two other authors to determine if there are statistical similarities. It has a round gauge with ‘uncertain’ at the top, and ‘author1’ on one side ‘author2’ on the other, with fields of green ‘better match’ and yellow ‘less certain’ for each author.
    I have no idea how useful this tool is, it was more of an exercise in curiosity for me.

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.aicbt.com/authorship-attribution/online-software/

  244. tmac57on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:38 pm

    ccbowers- You are very smart, because you think just like me 😉

    “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

  245. Kabboron 05 Dec 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Yeah, I agree I messed up that part of my comment due to my being upset at the time. I’d love it if you could work on being argumentatively charitable, give the benefit of the doubt to the commenter and ask for or offer a point of clarity if a point could be misleading. Starting a conversation with someone using the daytime radio rant format is not appealing.

  246. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:41 pm

    “And how could any of that be construed as a statement that an afterlife is disprovable?”

    Exactly. Same as he said he could “interpret” Steve Novella’s lack of replies as evidence that he agrees with him. It’s insane. He “interprets” much that is no in evidence.

    Assuming that my sockpuppet theories are wrong, it is interesting that these people all pull the same BS in their arguing.

  247. tmac57on 05 Dec 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Maybe we should summon Steel Man to rescue us:

    http://lifehacker.com/utilize-the-steel-man-tactic-to-argue-more-effectivel-1632402742

  248. chikoppion 05 Dec 2016 at 1:01 pm

    @cozying

    I disagree. Once again, I think you are ignoring context. Here is the initial comment in full…

    [hardnose] “Do these authors really think it is benign to distract children from one of the central lessons of existence with a pervasive myth about a magical heaven?”
    Steve N “knows” there is no afterlife. I thought that was something we can’t know for certain until we die. I have to wonder why a “skeptic,” whose beliefs are supposedly based on evidence, arrived at such an unscientific and ideological conclusion.
    It’s true that most of the pro-afterlife evidence is experiential, rather than experimental. But the anti-afterlife evidence does not exist. It is pure materialist faith.

    Steve was objecting to the presentation of an afterlife as a reasonable belief (the “pervasive myth”). hardnose erroneously accused him of asserting that any afterlife had been falsified.

    By your own standard…

    [cozying] If you reply to someone, pose a challenge, without agreeing, you are disagreeing.

    Ergo, because 1) an afterlife cannot be falsified and, 2) there is specious and insufficient evidence for an afterlife, hardnose was disagreeing with Steve’s assertion: that presention of an afterlife as a reasonable belief is “not benign.”

    In this context, it is perfectly reasonable to invoke an epistemological argument in reply.

  249. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 1:44 pm

    chikoppi,

    I don’t understand the disagreement between us. Honestly. I have said numerous times that hardnose read way too deep into what Steven said. Here you are repeating that like I didn’t actually say it DAYS ago.

    Regardless, you contradicted your own argument.

    1.My point was that mosben, thegorilla, kabbor, SteveA and others misunderstood, misrepresented and did not adequately address the issue hardnose brought up.

    2.You countered earlier today by saying actually if you add all these details they did respond in a fair way.

    3.Here you are now saying actually hardnose misrepresented what Steven Novella originally said.

    Now the counter:

    None of those people said that. Not a single person said hardnose read way to deep into what Steven said and erroneous came to those conclusions. Tmac provided the best early response and he didn’t say that either, he agreed that the afterlife is disprovable, and argued that he isn’t concerned about it. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to bring up the fact that science isn’t materialism, science doesn’t test unfalsifiable claims, that Steven was talking about pet heaven not explicitly the traditional afterlife, that he never actually said science/skeptism disproves the afterlife Etc.

    If that’s true then they didn’t provide a good challenge and my point 1 is true.

    ***

    To the people who keep saying Steven Novella doesn’t agree with my comments on ad hominems:

    Please provide evidence where he said it’s okay to use them.

    Especially labels like: troll, ignorant, insecure, childish, and illiterate. Then please explain how he thinks it’s okay to equate and insist that I am hardnose, without evidence, in an attempt to prejudice the community against me and prime them to ignore me. Also explain to me where he has ever said that it’s okay to openly justify and rationalize the ad hominems of others. Pretty sure he has a section on the podcast every once and while dedicated to denouncing the use of fallacious reasoning.

    Repeating the claim that he doesn’t agree with me isn’t logical. You have been challenged multiple times to bring forth such evidence, the burden of proof is in you.

    If you cannot provide such evidence please be quiet.

    If you can’t pound the facts pound the pavement.

  250. chikoppion 05 Dec 2016 at 2:30 pm

    @cozying

    Again, I don’t think you are acknowledging context.

    A: It is neither reasonable nor benign to mislead children into believing X is true.
    B: (in disagreement) So now you “know” that X is false?

    Your initial admonition…

    [cozying] But what hardnose is clearly talking about, is how science can’t disprove or prove a belief. You can’t prove the afterlife doesn’t exist. That is fundamentally true. Modern science deals with the falsifiability of hypotheses. You can’t use science to say god doesn’t exist or to prove he does. Everyone chiming in to cheerlead atheism is completely ignoring a very valid philosophical point hardnose brought up.

    I agree that the point “cannot disprove” is valid. However, I do not agree that is actually the salient point or the point to which people were responding.

    Hardnose responded in disagreement to Steve’s premise (A), citing as an argument that X cannot be disproven (a point on which there is near unanimous agreement).

    Therefore, in context, the response reads:

    “So long as X cannot be disproven it is reasonable and benign to encourage children to believe it is true.”

    Do you see where I’m coming from?

  251. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 2:37 pm

    To the people who keep saying Steven Novella doesn’t agree with my comments on ad hominems:
    Please provide evidence where he said it’s okay to use them.

    Aha, now I see the problem. Cozy has really terrible reading comprehension. No one, least of all me, has ever said that Dr. N. approved of ad hominems or even insults in general. Don’t believe me Cozy? You can go Cntrl-F yourself through this entire site and you won’t find one example of anyone claiming that.

    I have stated that your actions and attitudes have more than justified every perceived insult that you’ve received (at least in my opinion),but neither I nor anyone else has ever attributed that opinion to Steve N.

    I’m not even saying you’re lying — you just can’t comprehend reality. Which explains your chronic tendency to misrepresent virtually everyone’s actual opinion. You can’t possibly have missed the fact that almost everyone here has complained that you’ve misrepresented their words.

    Pro Tip: If your interpretation of events is wildly different than everyone else’s, you really need to re-evaluate your own premises.

  252. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 3:01 pm

    ccbowers:

    I, and many others here, have a need to be ‘right.’ The difference is that when our view does not match evidence or reality, how do we react? How tightly do we hold onto our current view, and is this mental commitment intellectually justified?

    Exactly. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be ‘right’ about as many things as possible. But, thanks in part to the whole tooth fairy, easter bunny, santa claus thing, I learned fairly early that believing you are right is not necessarily the same thing as actually being right. Ever since, I have tried very hard to learn how to tell the difference.

    I was a skeptic long before I ever heard the word used or realized that there are tools and methods available to help separate fact from fiction. Self-awareness of my own biases and shortcomings being one of the most important, yet most difficult things to achieve.

    Which is something that I hope our verbose young friend eventually comes to realize.

  253. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 3:03 pm

    chikoppi,

    Oh yeah. I understand. It’s just a very nuanced argument, with the subtlest of details. However, You reframed what I said in your examples.

    Essentially I expressed an overall dissatisfaction with the arguments used against hardnose:

    I specifically didn’t appreciate the incorrect metaphysical framework provided by kabbor (which is something you should care about if you appreciate epistemology, since I got insulted and told that another one of the pillars of philosophy, metaphysics is a joke). I questioned the validly of burden of proof and if it applies to religious reasoning. Etc.

    I didn’t think the personal attacks by numerous people, insulting hardnose and myself and equating my thoughts with pro religion anti science claims, was helpful. Etc.

    Now here we are debating if people actually provided a good refutation to hardnose in the correct context with abstract examples, we can have this conversation. But I would really appreciate it if one other person admitted those initial mistakes and explicitly said that the personal attacks are not warranted. A quick skim over the last few days reveals a few calm discussions like this lost in a sea of personal attacks and abusive labels and puppetry conjectures. Please someone agree with me on something so obvious.

    K so this example of yours:

    A: It is neither reasonable nor benign to mislead children into believing X is true.
    B: (in disagreement) So now you “know” that X is false?

    So whoever said B is wrong, and that was hardnose. Happy?

    The people to reply made no mention of this.

    Part A does not say a single thing about knowing for sure that X is false. It does color the discussion by saying “mislead.” It may vaguely imply doubt in X and in some cases I guess you could say it’s an obvious position that X is false. But if that’s the case why even bother expressing this? If you replace X with “blood sucking invisible aliens that wait till you fall asleep to strike” or something less extreme why would you even bother with clarifying that it isn’t “benign”?

    My point is that the framing of the sentence points to X being doubtful, misleading, but not irrelevant or obviously fiction. Which is what many people assumed, they assumed and literally said things along the line: x is obviously fiction and science proves it, here’s evidence based arguments that support X being disproven.

    So either way, if we trace the misunderstanding to hardnose or the people who replied to him, it doesn’t change the outcome.

    Everyone who replied and didn’t note hardnose’s very subjective incorrect conclusions/extrapolations, messed up.

    Everyone who replied and took what hardnose said at face value, with the exception of tmac and a few others, also messed up. Attacking the claim that the afterlife is disprovable with scientific evidence and arguments wasn’t the best approach, insulting him and I was also not the most logical thing to do.

  254. tmac57on 05 Dec 2016 at 3:29 pm

    cozying- If you think that you are correct, and that you have clearly stated your position, then why do you care so strongly about what others may think about it?
    You’ll notice, that right out of the gate that I disagreed with The Gorilla about burden of proof. I stated my position, then Gorilla countered with his argument which I still disagreed with, but having stated my position clearly the first time, I saw no need to counter his second comment.
    I felt like we both had our say, and I had no compulsion to try to pursue it further. I let my thoughts stand for themselves, and I did not have a need for him to see things my way.
    External validation is nice, but seeking it in such an obsessive way is not healthy in my opinion, and indicates a lack of self confidence. I think this makes you look bad.
    Again, my opinion, take it for what it’s worth or ignore it.

  255. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Steve Cross,

    “Aha, now I see the problem. Cozy has really terrible reading comprehension. No one, least of all me, has ever said that Dr. N. approved of ad hominems or even insults in general.”

    Yeah, but I did explicitly say multiple times that he wouldn’t agree with you on that specific point! To which you still to this day mock me over. Yep so ctrl + F away, this is my original point to about this:

    {On insulting religious people and personally attacking me and hardnose}
    “I also know that Steven Novella doesn’t agree with this approach. He is always kind and respectful in his treatment of sensitive issues like this, and he always makes the point that skepticism is not atheism. He also understands that when you attack someone personally, or poke directly at these religious nerves, you bring their guard up and they look for any reason to dismiss what you have to say.”

    I also did say that by Steven not correcting my position on his views, which he has done very recently to hardnose, I would take it to mean he agrees, he didn’t confirm or deny anything I actually said about the ad hominems, his response:

    “I am not going to go back and read over the entire thread. It is not fair or appropriate to interpret my lack of response as agreement. I do not follow every comment on every thread, especially when they top 100 comments. That is not a reasonable expectation.”

    Somehow the audience here read that and ran with it as evidence that Steven Novella doesn’t agree with me. It might not be fair to conclude that his lack of response means he agrees. But where is the evidence saying that he agrees with ad hominems? If that evidence doesn’t exist. Please explain the following:

    Steve Cross: “Pretending that Dr. Novella would support your nonsense is another childish game that you are not very good at.”
    Kcava: “Should everyone in the comment thread moving forward expect that if Steve doesn’t personally correct them he endorses everything they have said?”

    The conclusion still stands. You attack people personally, insult them, question their intelligence, literacy skills, use the wrong gender pronoun, label them a concern troll, compare them to a long time poster, demand everyone agrees that they are this long time poster without evidence, and on and on.

    You do all of that, I say hey that’s not fair stop it, the author of the blog you are on, wouldn’t agree with this approach, you and others say as hominems are justified and you keep going.

    Sweet.

    This all happened because I dared to correct some horrible arguments and provide a clarification to the point hardnose made and the mistakes he made.

  256. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Cozy,

    You are spouting a bunch of rambling, almost incoherent nonsense.

    This is not intended as an insult, but, serious question: Is English your second language?

    I’m serious. You misinterpret a LOT of people and things. I don’t think that is a coincidence, and I’d like to believe that you are not doing it on purpose.

    Whether you realize it or not, you have been incredibly rude to a lot of people. I freely admit that I have been at least as rude and obnoxious to you — but I’m NOT doing it to try to discredit you. I’m simply trying to fairly and accurately describe your behavior in the hope that you will change it.

    BTW, calling someone insecure is NOT an insult — just an observation. It is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone is insecure about some things. But begging for validation with pleas like “Please someone agree with me on something so obvious.” makes it pretty clear that you that you desperately want acknowledgement of your beliefs. That’s okay. We were all young once.

    It is not a coincidence that hardly anyone agrees with the points you are trying to make. You are not expressing them clearly enough to be persuasive, and more often than not, you have at least partially misunderstood what it is you are arguing about.

    P.S. I’m not aware of your preferred gender, but I will happily use it if you tell me what you would like.

  257. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 4:17 pm

    tmac,

    You were wrong about burden of proof, it is out of context. I don’t take it personally that you won’t acknowledge it. You feel like you did a good job fine, but Skeptics misuse the concept all the time, it doesn’t apply to religious reasoning and it doesn’t disprove or discredit the afterlife and therefore has no business in an epistemological/metaphysical discussion about the unfalsifiablity of the afterlife.

    I’ll be gone soon don’t worry, I expected a heck of a lot more from the community of a blog dedicated to science and critical thinking.

    I guess it would be nice to hear someone say that all the personal attacks and abusive language was unwarranted. That’s all. Especially since we have a collection of people here who are united in hating me and who literally say things connecting me to hardnose and then “And, let’s face it — hardnose deserves ZERO respect”

    And:

    “In summary, let me repeat: You are wrong and have been wrong the entire time. Everyone knows this and agrees, with the possible exception of your alter ego (hardnose). Your blatant lies and misrepresentations are just feeble attempts at diversion which have failed miserably.”

    I mean this can’t possibly be true, but yet no one has been like “hey calm down, that’s wrong.” It’s an example of black and white thinking. It’s how people presented me as pro religion anti science. I’m either with your against you right? And if I challenge ridiculous arguments that happen to be really bad examples of what to say versus common new age positions I get attacked and labeled. And when I suggest a different tone I get attacked some more and labeled a concern troll.

    Steve Cross,

    This is something that speaks volumes which I forgot to comment on:

    “I’m not even saying you’re lying — you just can’t comprehend reality. Which explains your chronic tendency to misrepresent virtually everyone’s actual opinion. You can’t possibly have missed the fact that almost everyone here has complained that you’ve misrepresented their words.
    Pro Tip: If your interpretation of events is wildly different than everyone else’s, you really need to re-evaluate your own premises.”

    Actually it’s not that unusual, claiming you have been misrepresented and misunderstood is one of the most common intellectual arguments people make in response to criticism. See literally any back and forth in history between two famous intellectuals. It’s even commonplace in causal conversations, people claim you didn’t hear them or that they were just joking.

    You attempted to create a false consensus, based on that simple fact of life. It’s been a pretty consistent theme here, you and others most notably kabbor, billy, cc and kcava, have made this same argument in slightly different words.

    If everyone, literally every single person commenting says I’m wrong, does that make me wrong? Isn’t that just an ad populum?

    But I mean not everyone said everything I said was wrong, right? Didn’t Steven Novella say basically the exact same thing I said about the homonyms? A position billy furiously defended, then conceded. Just a notable exception.

    It’s all in what you choose to say and choose to leave out.

    The people who attack me personally and push false consensus arguments are not using that time to actually address what I have said. That’s fallacious reasoning in and of itself.

    It’s not like Steve Cross has ever gone and done his homework, and is going above and beyond by adding these arguments as the cherry on top of a logical beat down. This is the same person who doesn’t know the different between an ad hominem and just insulting someone that you don’t like. Or thinks announcing checkmate is conceding. Or think’s that the shock/surprise debacle was the “cause” of these arguments, something from another comment stream that literally happened days after the initial arguments on another topic.

    There. Sure. I guess that can stand as my final comment on personal attacks and tone.

  258. chikoppion 05 Dec 2016 at 4:51 pm

    @cozying

    I think we understand each other’s positions and are essentially in agreement.

    I’d encourage you to not let your interactions from the past week or so dissuade you from hanging around and participating. Your particular perspective and style of commenting can add to the breadth of discourse in the comments. There will always be nuanced disagreement, nitpicking, and occasional frictions (it comes with the territory). Even reasonable people can disagree.

  259. steve12on 05 Dec 2016 at 4:55 pm

    OK Cozying…

    “You were wrong about burden of proof, it is out of context. I don’t take it personally that you won’t acknowledge it. You feel like you did a good job fine, but Skeptics misuse the concept all the time, it doesn’t apply to religious reasoning and it doesn’t disprove or discredit the afterlife and therefore has no business in an epistemological/metaphysical discussion about the unfalsifiablity of the afterlife.”

    I’ll drop it all for this one.

    Explain to me:
    1. Why is the burden of proof being on the claimant not the proper context when this is a science blog?
    2. What IS the proper context, and WHY is it the proper context?

  260. tmac57on 05 Dec 2016 at 5:23 pm

    steve12- I can’t be sure, but I suspected that that comment by cozy was a lure to try to get me to violate my statement about letting my words stand for themselves. Just an impression.

  261. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Chikoppi,

    I appreciate that. I did learn a lot from reading your comments and it encouraged me to be more clear and rigorous when communicating.

    Steve12,

    “Explain to me:
    1. Why is the burden of proof being on the claimant not the proper context when this is a science blog?
    2. What IS the proper context, and WHY is it the proper context?”

    It would be my pleasure, thanks for asking. It’s a hard concept, I will try my best, I welcome criticism.

    Burden of proof has its origins in law. It refers to an obligation to present evidence, just like how everyone here has been using it. Epistemological burden of proof is similar, basically the party making the claim should present evidence. I only say this to be crystal clear, my disagreement isn’t definitional, we both have the same concept in mind.

    The reason it doesn’t apply to hardnose’s original claim about the afterlife being unprovable is complicated.

    First, technically it doesn’t apply because burden of proof is about being obligated to provide evidence for your side. Hardnose’s claim was about the unfalsifiablity of the afterlife. By definition you can’t prove something that’s unprovable. It’s also turns out that it’s really hard to prove something is in fact unprovable. After all I could be wrong, it’s possible that the afterlife is real, I don’t know for sure, maybe it is provable but we haven’t found a good test yet, see how it’s tricky? Being obligated to present evidence like that is a very difficult task.

    Modern science got around this by not making absolute statements about reality, a hypothesis is only valid if it can be disproven. We deliberately choose things that can be shown to be incorrect, with the right evidence. We don’t use unprovable hypotheses for anything that I’m aware of. For example claims like the anthropic principle might be popular, but they aren’t scientifically or philosophically sound.

    The claim that the burden of proof is on religious people, is asking them to do the impossible to prove an unfalsifiable, untestable hypothesis. They might not be able to do that but they can attempt to show some evidence for why something is untestable. Hardnose actually kinda did provide examples for why the belief in the afterlife is untestable, he said things about materialistic science, implying a metaphysical new age argument, and how you can’t know until you pass on. All of this implies an untestable position. Once we are talking about an untestable thing, concepts like evidence and proof go out the window.

    Therefore responding to claims like this with the ‘burden of proof’ is like demanding a priest show you god or you won’t believe. He wants you to believe and go to church right? So he should provide unquestionable evidence for his side.

    Secondly, the burden of proof doesn’t have any impact on religiosity. Millions of people all over the world believe without evidence, some theologians even argue that part of the magic of faith is to believe despite the lack evidence. (For me personally that’s a mind numbing concept). The fact that religious people don’t hear god reply to their prayers, doesn’t stop them from praying. Or that they don’t know whether or not they will go to heaven or if it’s real until they pass on doesn’t stop them from believing.

    Thirdly, burden of proof only really applies if both parties are playing by the rules. Like two lawyers in a courtroom. Or the example I gave previously about how homeopaths have to come into the scientific arena and present evidence if they seek acceptance. If people don’t play by your rules they aren’t going to care about, or feel the burden of proof. Homeopaths just fake it when they design experiments to show the smallest of effects, but when you walk into their office they tell you how their treatments cure cancer.

    Therefore applying burden of proof to religious people and their beliefs is apples to oranges. Burden of proof isn’t going to slow them down or even make them question. They have vastly different justification for their beliefs than we do. That doesn’t mean it’s pointless to talk to them and try to change their minds. You can still blow a hole in their reasoning with examples like the invisible dragon in Sagan’s garage. And show that the untestable nature of a hypothesis isn’t something to be proud of.

    Lastly, you have to ask what the alternative to this approach is, if burden of proof isn’t the best thing to say in response what is better? Even slightly better?

    Ask yourself what your goal is, do you want to provide a robust response to a few widely held new age positions? Do you want to maybe change someone’s mind? Teach them to question? Do you want to leave a good response for outsiders and new readers to see an example of scientific skepticism? If not, then you already know what I have to say about that.

    My answer to that would be to closely examine the claim. In the hardnose example he made tons of specific mistakes and extrapolated unsound conclusions. I would have started there.

  262. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Cozying,

    Not following your reasoning at all. If you are just claiming that it won’t work, then I suspect you are correct, at least most of the time.

    If, on the other hand, you are claiming that burden of proof is inapplicable to any affirmative claim, then I disagree.

    If something really is unfalsifiable and untestable, then it could have no detectable effect or influence on the world we perceive. It truly is irrelevant, and for all practical purposes, completely indistinguishable from something that doesn’t exist at all.

    Since there are literally an infinite number of similarly unfalsifiable beliefs which could potentially exist, it is untenable to claim that any one evidence free claim is any more believable than any other.

    There is no reason that the supernatural (or metaphysical or whatever) world should be held to lower standards than any other justified true belief. If a scientist proposes a major change to General Relativity which is untestable (at least at the present time), the only correct course is to reserve judgement until and if it can be tested and proven or disproved.

    I don’t even think it is good tactics to allow any opponent to sidestep the issue of burden of proof. Unless we demand verifiable, mutually agreeable evidence for every proposed belief system, the entire concept of evidence based belief is undermined.

  263. CKavaon 05 Dec 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Admirable sentiment chikoppi but from cozying’s comments I think it looks more likely that she will vacate the comment thread ever more secure in her knowledge about how rare the real skepticism ™ is and with validation that she proved her points calmly and rationally, while all her opponents descended into name calling and appeals to authority. Both comment threads she has been involved in have stretched into massive threads with hundreds of posts and the vast majority of the content has been devoted to people trying to clarify their points against cozying’s misrepresentations. Consequently, I can’t say that I personally hope her contributions becomes more common.

    Cozying’s stated concerns also don’t seem particularly sincere to me but more self-serving means of ‘winning’ an argument, as they are all extremely selectively applied. She chastises people for their responses to hardnose being colored by years of interactions, yet her own posts are chock full of self-referential grudges, despite only having been around for a week or so. Similarly, she frequently engages in petty ad hominems at the same time as admonishing others for making personal attacks. Finally, her complaints about being misquoted and misrepresented are also hard to take seriously, given that almost everyone engaging with her has experienced the exact same thing (including the charitable chikoppi).

    I’m not saying cozying never makes valid or well stated arguments. Her last post for example is well argued but personally I don’t find the baggage that accompanies it to be worth dealing with. Her appeals to authority in relation to Steve ‘agreeing’ with her are also immature and grating. Everyone here respects Steve’s opinion but nobody regards his word as gospel, if he came into the thread now and said ‘Cozying is completely right in everything she has said’ it wouldn’t make that anymore true. Moreover, when Steve did pop in he specifically said that it was “not fair or appropriate” to interpret his lack of response as agreement, yet that is what cozying has continued to do. The fact that Steve indicated that he thought BJ’s overall position was valid but disagreed specifically with his homonym point also appears to have been distilled by cozy into ‘Steve agreed with my homonym point!”.

    She seems to have also now settled that her ‘real’ argument is that ad hominems are not a replacement for dealing with an argument critically. Something which I suspect nobody here disagrees with as a general principle. A few people (not everybody!) have argued that ad hominems are ‘justified’ in the case of hardnose, but cozying continually ignores the specified context for such comments (i.e. that people have spent years arguing critically against hardnose’s arguments only for them to re-emerge entirely unscathed and unaltered in the very next thread).

    I’m repeating myself at this point so here is the same point stated repeatedly in previous posts:

    “Steve does agree that people should strive to engage in arguments/debates without making personal attacks. What I am less certain about is that he would agree that you have only been on the receiving end of such attacks, and/or that we should not take someone’s posting history and demonstrated character into account when responding to a new post. Steve doesn’t act like that when he responds to Michael Egnor or hardnose, he recognises their posting pattern and often calls out a particular argument as reflecting their well-known agendas.”

    “I haven’t argued that my background somehow makes personal attacks justified. I have however argued that you (regardless of your background) make plenty of personal attacks and frequently argue against straw-man positions of your own construction. Like this one. I have also argued that taking someone’s posting history into account is reasonable- and it is (again) something which you do but then complain about- almost every one of your posts raises grudges from previous comments or comment threads.”

  264. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 8:53 pm

    CKava,

    I agree with your overall assessment, but I’m also saddened and perhaps feeling a little bit guilty. Had I realized that cozying was female, I may have been somewhat less aggressively critical. But only because of my belief that skepticism in particular and the STEM fields in general would benefit from more female representation.

    OTOH, I may not have behaved any differently because I’m a cranky old bastard who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And in many ways, that is exactly what cozying is — foolish, young and insecure. Which I gradually began to realize and thus tried to temper my criticism with genuinely good advice.

    But by then, it was probably too late. She had already decided that we were all out to get her. The funny thing is that, especially in the beginning, most or even all of the comments that she perceived as ad hominems were merely justifiable complaints about her egregious behavior. She is completely oblivious to her own shortcomings. As you pointed out, she has initiated about as many ad hominems as she has received. Her tirade against you was a textbook example, and notable not only for being ludicrously excessive, but also for being completely unwarranted.

    Still, if she ever manages to stop misunderstanding and misquoting people, and if she outgrows her almost debilitating need for validation, she is smart enough and enthusiastic enough to be an interesting debating partner.

  265. cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Kcava,

    tl;dr: You take all those words, to repeat false claims you made that have already been challenged in-depth.

    Here you are again, accusing me of things I claim others do, and again saying I’m wrong with no evidence. You’ve been asked, nay, directly challenged many times to find instances of me using the colorful language others have used against me.

    Still nothing, huh? It’s funny because I don’t see you admonishing the people who made those fallacious arguments and personal attacks, I just see you attacking me again for pointing at them. What’s more morally bankrupt than that? Go read some comments by Steve Cross, open your eyes.

    Again it’s all in what you choose to leave out. You choose to attack me for claiming to promote real skepticism instead of ad hominems, literally. But you don’t have anything to say to people like Steve Cross? Interesting how you left that out? And I’m the one who just wants to win? You are literally ignoring a sea of offensive and abusive language to nitpick the things I said.

    Repeating the ad populum, I specifically just explained how the many claims of “misinterpretation” don’t amount to much, since that’s an extremely common excuse people give in arguments, probably the most common. I also explained how it doesn’t matter how many people say I’m wrong about everything, that’s just an ad populum. Keep telling me how I’m wrong, and how everyone thinks so, in response to requests for you to back up your arguments.

    Look at your comments on me saying Steve agrees with me, I have a hard time believing you wrote them. I would describe this as a MASSIVE mistake. You do realize that I explicitly said to him, you and others that he wouldn’t agree with personal attacks right? I asked for you and others who disagree to provide evidence. Here you are again using this doublespeak just like Steve Cross, to simultaneously say: we all know that Steven doesn’t agree with ad hominems + Steven doesn’t agree with you.

    How is that possible?

    You then go on to conflate that with the homonym point, I would say this is your second new massive mistake. This homonym thing is an entirely separate conversation, days apart.

    Steven did basically repeat my point on the two forms of close. He gave billy a very generous interpretation, but he also previously admitted that he can’t be expected to read 100+ comments. Missed that part? Considering the billy-synonym controversy started in another comment stream like 350 comments ago. Billy had lots of time to refine and learn from his early devastating mistakes. By the end he didn’t repeat the claims he made that were wrong by definition, he just pushed the reduction ad absurdum to show that shock and surprise are different, a point I actually never disagreed with. Synonymy doesn’t mean exact same, never said it did.

    So yea technically billy was right that shock and surprise are different words and that not all synonyms can used interchangeably, super cool ground breaking stuff here, too bad it has literally nothing to with my original opinionated expression of doubt that trumps victory wasn’t actually shocking to a couple contrarian and later: that it can’t be reduced to side throw.

  266. Steve Crosson 05 Dec 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Cozying,

    Calm down. You’ll never be a good skeptic — or win an argument, if you allow your emotions to blind you to logic.

    I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I know I’ve been hard on you and some (but only some) of my comments have been over the top. But frankly, you’ve been acting like a spoiled brat.

    I apologize for calling you an asshole. FWIW, I don’t regard it as very extreme. In my circles, it is more or less synonymous with “smug bastard”, and as you might expect, my friends call me that a lot. But you can, and often do, come off as pretty damn smug yourself. It takes quite a bit of hubris for the new kid on the block to lecture a well established group on the “right” way to do skepticism.

    And calling someone “insecure” is NOT an insult. Everyone is insecure about some things. It’s just part of life, but particularly threatening when you’re young. But the mere fact that you perceive the word “insecure” as an insult pretty much proves that you are — at least about your reputation as a skeptic and critical thinker. That is not a bad thing. It means you want to get better. But the best way to do that is to listen and learn — not try to pretend that you are the professor.

    A LOT, probably most, of the comments you are perceiving as ad hominems are legitimate criticisms of your behavior. In particular, your egregious misrepresentation of what people say.

    Case in point: NO ONE has ever claimed you use “colorful language” so demanding we provide evidence of the same is pretty disingenuous. Nevertheless, a LOT of your posts are arrogant and condescending and clearly ad hominem caliber. Not going to get in a chicken or egg argument here, but you are definitely not completely innocent.

    And yes, I know you claim that the many, many claims of misinterpretation are just an ad populum attack. For the sake of argument, I will concede that as a theoretical possibility. But do you have any actual evidence to support that? Any evidence of collusion? Or is it just barely possible that lots of different people looking at the same evidence, who reached very similar conclusions just might be right? I think the latter is more likely. Occams Razor and all that.

    There are a lot of really smart people here — obviously way smarter and more diplomatic than me. You could learn a lot from them if you want to. But to do that, you need to lose the attitude.

    And a little friendly advice. Before you try to defend hardnose again, just watch and learn. He is already up to his same old tricks in the Westworld thread.

  267. CKavaon 05 Dec 2016 at 11:01 pm

    cozying as I indicated previously I’m not particularly interested, nor do I see any productive outcome from engaging in further in depth back and forths with you. I’ll leave pretty much all of your above points to stand for themselves and would simply refer people to my previous comments if they are interested in my view.

    But on the ad hominem point specifically:

    Ad hominem means “directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.” Are you seriously trying to suggest that you don’t engage in this? Just a few examples, taken ONLY from our exchanges:

    – You intentionally refer to my username incorrectly as ‘kcava’ and have done so since I noted your mistake and asked you to use my correct username. That’s an extremely petty and childish insult.
    – You attempted to shame me for not being famous as a drummer who has the same name as me. Even bizarrely asking if he was my dad. That’s a weird insult.
    – You made repeated insinuations about me misrepresenting my identity, including outright saying: ‘You are not who you claim to be’. And then when I provided you with my name and some independent online details of my identity you responded by chastising me for revealing such confidential information and said: “What? I thought I was a troll? Damn you are attractive. You hitting on me now? Should I email you?” That’s a very weird personal insult.
    – After warning me via an incongruous “your momma” reference not to expose my identity “to crazy people on the internet”, you then went on to do a deep dive on a selection of my current publications- repeatedly denigrating specific journals and even going so far as to complain about the people who have cited my papers (“Friends of yours? Looks like a very sophisticated academic echo chamber”). It’s hard to think of a more ad hominem line of attack.
    – You repeatedly referred to my responses as ‘cute’ and told me to ‘run along’. That’s dismissive and insulting.
    – You suggested my ‘qualifications’ on ritual and cognition had been “debunked” by your criticism of the low impact factors of two journals I published in and referred to me as a “supposed phd”. That’s insulting and silly.
    – You called me a philosopher, in order to tell me I was failing to live up to basic philosophical standards. Then when I responded that I wasn’t a philosopher and never said so, you implied I was lying about my identity: “please explain to me how you, a self-admitted non-philosopher, got a paper publish in their journal?” This is part of your somewhat self-defeating efforts to cast doubt on whether I am the very researcher you had devoted several posts trying to discredit.

  268. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 12:13 am

    I went point by point in replying cozying, but you’re really making a very simple point over and over.

    “First, technically it doesn’t apply because burden of proof is about being obligated to provide evidence for your side. “

    I’m not sure why this is “technical”. Within a scientific context you are obligated. I see that you’re trying to change or set the context. You said to tmac:
    “You were wrong about burden of proof, it is out of context. I don’t take it personally that you won’t acknowledge it. You feel like you did a good job fine”

    Why do you get to select the context? Isn’t it more correct to tell tmac that in a scientific context, he’d be correct, but in context X for reason Y he’d be wrong?

    “Hardnose’s claim was about the unfalsifiablity of the afterlife. By definition you can’t prove something that’s unprovable. It’s also turns out that it’s really hard to prove something is in fact unprovable. After all I could be wrong, it’s possible that the afterlife is real, I don’t know for sure, maybe it is provable but we haven’t found a good test yet, see how it’s tricky? Being obligated to present evidence like that is a very difficult task.”

    Not in a scientific context it isn’t! YOU are obligated to prove YOUR claims. End of story.
    And as far as proving that something is unprovable, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. If this is a Gould’s NOMA kind of deal, then the claimant doesn’t seek to falsify or even logically evaluate. Of course in that context this doesn’t apply.

    “The claim that the burden of proof is on religious people, is asking them to do the impossible to prove an unfalsifiable, untestable hypothesis.”

    Not if they have evidence. In fact, they have literally an infinite number of opportunities to show that there is an afterlife! How did that lack of evidence become my problem? Maybe in some other new-agey / metaphysical / religious context this is true. I mean, those contexts can’t sort anything out with rules like this. And I’m uninterested in these contexts because they’re useless.
    Regardless; in a scientific context, this is nonsense.

    “They might not be able to do that but they can attempt to show some evidence for why something is untestable. Hardnose actually kinda did provide examples for why the belief in the afterlife is untestable, he said things about materialistic science, implying a metaphysical new age argument, and how you can’t know until you pass on. All of this implies an untestable position. Once we are talking about an untestable thing, concepts like evidence and proof go out the window.”

    Then everything is true, nothing is true and what’s the point of discussion? I mean in a church this is “true”, I guess , because they’re not looking to prove anything. But why would that context be the CORRECT (not different) context on a science blog?

    ****************

    OK, at this point you just kept repeating the same point over and over so I’ll cut to the summary…

    So this whole thing comes down to the context, and that in non-scientific context unprovable assertions aren’t subject to a burden of proof because they’re not trying to prove anything? Really? All of this for THAT? I honestly do not know if you’re serious or if you’re f*cking with us. No idea.

    1. A person who wasn’t trying to argue for arguing’s sake, which is what you do, would have said a LONG time tmac, me, Steve C, et al. are absolutely correct about what we’re saying in a scientific context, but not others. If you said that form the faithful’s POV none of this matter, arguemtn over. No one would argue with you.

    That would have ended the entire thing. But that’s not what you want.

    2. I’m stuck on why YOU get to choose the context – why do you get to decide that other viewpoints (actually, ones that define the blog) are not merely different, but in fact WRONG? You can say that it’s more germane to what HN is positing, but then we go back to #1. Why not clarify? To argue.

    But further toward HN’s comment…

    Why do we have to change context for someone making religious proclamations on a science blog? Why must we change the context of the blog to fit his assertions? Why can’t there be multiple viewpoints? So when people come to science blogs claiming unfalsifiable things are true, out only recourse is to say “Yes, from your point of view that might be true!”.

    No. It’s a science blog!!!!!!!! We discuss things from a SCIENTIFIC POV!!!! BY DEFINITION!!!!!!

  269. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 1:29 am

    steve12,

    Short version: yes you are right, it’s all about the context.

    It might be obvious, but it’s so hugely important. Context is the most important thing about any intellectual discussion, it is literally everything. Without it you couldn’t even communicate, language is all about making reference to shared knowledge but in a novel context. Context gives words their meaning as we learned with the two forms of “close.” The framing of a sentence binds its words together and locks in the meaning. A bunch of different words each with 30+ possible different definitions can come together and express one thought, the sorcery that makes that happen is context.

    Specifically, burden of proof only really applies to parties fighting by the same rules in the same arena. That’s the “context.” That’s the context that both the legal term and the epistemological burden of proof refer to.

    If we as skeptics misuse this concept, to attack or challenge religious reasoning we are not going to do anything productive. We aren’t going to change anyone’s mind or teach them to question what they were taught. It makes no sense to hold people to standard they can’t possibly meet. It’s an easy win for you on a blog filled with atheists and skeptics but it isn’t going to help you in the real world, it doesn’t help to bring people into the fold.

    This is because we have different perceptions of what evidence means. I don’t just mean we have higher standards. I mean we literally define evidence and the nature of proving something in a very different way than the believers. For some religious people it doesn’t matter if they can’t prove their beliefs. It makes no difference. And they certainly feel no burden on their shoulders to justify their beliefs to us with hardcore evidence. We don’t know how they define evidence, maybe they see the beauty of world as evidence for god, as creationist love to say. In a simple conversation we don’t have time to figure this out either, and thankfully we don’t have to. All we have to to do is provide simple arguments and communicate with them on their level. If someone thinks the unprovable nature of the afterlife is a point in their column, explain why it isn’t, instead of demanding they provide evidence for why we should believe in it. Do we really want to hear a new age person tell us why they believe? The human mind has an almost limitless ability to just make stuff up and rationalize the silliest of concepts.

    I think you should always make note of what your goal is. If you just want to knock someone down and laugh at them, while surrounded by people who basically believe the same things as you. That’s one thing. But if you want to influence people, pierce through the superficial arguments, and leave a good example for onlookers then you need to meet them half way and speak their language.

  270. BillyJoe7on 06 Dec 2016 at 5:35 am

    steve,

    “Had I realized that cozying was female…”

    Many, many posts ago cozy made a statement that began: “As a woman…”
    I responded with “You don’t need to be a woman…” (meaning, you don’t need to be a woman to feel that way – you could also be a male and feel this way)

    Not sure how this was missed, but it was interesting to see her being continually referred to using the male pronoun and her ignoring it every time. I also chose to ignore it, and therefore did not correct this mistake made by others on the thread. (Of course, I had to be careful not to use any pronouns in referencing her – I did call her a dude at one stage, but the dictionary I referenced assured me it is a unisex term).

    The reason I ignored it was, I think, the same reason cozy ignored it – because it doesn’t matter.
    Only the arguments matter.
    There, we finally agree on something.

    Of course, cozy will probably come back and say I am wrong 🙂

  271. SteveAon 06 Dec 2016 at 5:43 am

    Cozying: “All we have to to do is provide simple arguments and communicate with them on their level.”

    You really are the most patronising and dismissive person I’ve engaged with in a long time. Also incoherent. How is providing ‘simple arguments’ not ‘questioning’ what religious folk were taught?

    You’ve framed everyone who adheres to a belief (religious or secular) as some kind of brain-numbed zombie who’s incapable of following a train of reasoning, or can appreciate the value of evidence.

    “Do we really want to hear a new age person tell us why they believe?”

    Yes, please. Because you can then find out WHY they believe what they do.

    Why do you think people abandon belief? Because they weren’t challenged? Weren’t asked to explain WHY they think what they do? Couldn’t lay out their evidence and hear the counter arguments?

    And, yes, even ‘ridicule’ (as you’ve chosen to interpret my comment) can play its part. I once heard a woman with a hard-core Christian upbringing saying how shocked she was when she first heard her faith being mocked – she’d never even considered that ‘God could be laughed at’ (which is, I think, is the exact phrase she used). She found it liberating, and the first step towards a better dogma-free life.

    Anyway. Done here. I don’t have the patience of CKava and the other Steves.

  272. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 9:01 am

    SteveA,

    Minor point, so you flat out say I’m patronizing and that I label all religious people a certain way. Then by the end you are openly justifying and rationalizing attacking, ridiculing and insulting religious people.

    That contradiction aside, I don’t agree. The quote about hearing their reasons for their belief was clearly about saving time. If you really are such a patient listener, it’s deeply ironic that your posts decend into specific interpretations and attacks of cherry picked lines without their original context really quickly. Based on my very Limited interaction with you, I have a really hard time picturing you the patient respectful listening type.

  273. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 9:37 am

    Cozying:

    You need an introduction scientific methods course where they make you write BRIEF scientific reports. Someone needs to red ink 90% of your words. It’s beyond inefficient or annoying. You repeat yourself over and over, but somehow miss KEY clarifications and point. Hard to believe that’s not on purpose.

    Why would you simply reiterate ALL of the points you made two posts ago rather than reply to my specific objections? It’s like you don’t want the conversation to move forward.

    ***What about my object re: who gets to decide the context of the discussion?***

    Never addressed. You have time to explain why context is important (REALLY???) but NOT time to reply to that? WTF????

  274. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 9:46 am

    I assumed cozying was male because of the solopsistic and condescending tone. A young man at that.

    After teaching undergrads, I’ve noticed (and this is just my observation) that when young men learn something important, they tend to believe that they are the first people ever to understand this idea. This combined with a need for attention can lead to this embarrassing lecture of very basic ideas and concepts.

    Most seem to grow out of it…

  275. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 9:51 am

    I should add to my post above, that I DO NOT feel letting kids carry on this way is good. They need their studies to be a proxy for the world, and deliver the frank “gut punch” (to use cozying’s hyperbolic characterization) necessary to let them know that they’re being a boor and still have a lot to learn.

    I hope that we’re helping to provide that service for cozying 🙂

    BTW – I think I’m completely wrong about the sockpuppet thing w/ cozying. OR, HN / Egnor is a genius con man.

  276. Steve Crosson 06 Dec 2016 at 11:10 am

    cozying,

    I get the feeling that you are refusing to respond to my comments. That’s fine. I was really rough on you, and if you don’t want to move on, that is completely up to you.

    But, I’ve apologized several times, and whether you believe it or not, I am completely sincere. I’m a self-admitted cranky old bastard, but I do have a genuine interest in encouraging more good skepticism. And every skeptic, including you, can always get better at critical thinking.

    My last few comments have been completely respectful and sincerely intended as constructive criticism. If you perceived anything as an insult, it definitely was not intended that way.

    I can’t force you to respond, but bear in mind that, to an outside observer, your refusal to respond is indistinguishable from inability to respond. And, IMHO, I think I’m making some pretty good points 🙂

    You said:

    it’s all about the context.
    It might be obvious, but it’s so hugely important. Context is the most important thing about any intellectual discussion, it is literally everything.

    and I completely agree. In fact, I think it is probably safe to say that everyone here feels exactly the same way. Which is why we get so upset because you frequently do take our words out of context. I know you deny this (and feel that you have “proved” otherwise) but there are many crystal clear examples.

    Here is another:
    I challenged you to engage “directly” with hardnose, and you responded with a long list of (indirect) comments about his views, capped off with pretty obvious snark — “Umm checkmate? Thanks for playing.”

    After I complained about direct vs. indirect, I finished my reply what I thought was also pretty obvious snark with — “No, thank you for conceding.”

    Which you chose to misinterpret as my ignorance of chess, so I further clarified “P. S. I’m fully aware of chess rules and etiquette. When you ignore the rules and completely fail to meet a specific challenge, you have effectively conceded.”

    Obviously, we still disagree about the difference between direct and indirect. But, when you then post: “Steve Cross … thinks announcing checkmate is conceding”, that is a clear, undeniable misrepresentation of my words.

    Not only that, it is also a clear, undeniable ad hominem because, even if it were true, it still would not have anything at all to do with the validity of my arguments.

    These are just a few ironclad examples, but I encourage you to try to objectively examine all of your own words. You’ll find a lot more examples.

    You may be smart and enthusiastic, but you still have a lot to learn. Starting with self-awareness. You’re just as human and petty and able to make mistakes as the rest of us. No matter how painful, you really, really, really need to learn how to take criticism and use it constructively.

  277. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 11:22 am

    I have responded to both of your comments and requests for clarification many times. Look up. I only didn’t directly address the new things you said because you both expressed things along the lines of: it’s a waste of time to interact with me and that you were done.

  278. Steve Crosson 06 Dec 2016 at 11:29 am

    cozying,

    Who are you responding to? With a lot of different commenters (and a lot of them named Steve 🙂 ), it is confusing to make comments without directing them to a specific person.

  279. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 12:35 pm

    cozying:

    “I have responded to both of your comments and requests for clarification many times. Look up. I only didn’t directly address the new things you said because you both expressed things along the lines of: it’s a waste of time to interact with me and that you were done.”

    If this is directed at me:

    A. YOU DID NOT clarify, as YOU DID NOT acknowledge that ‘burden on the claimant’ was correct in a scientific context.

    B. YOU DID NOT answer my question re: why the non-scientific context was the CORRECT context, not just a different context.

    C. YOU DID NOT tell me why YOU are the arbiter of the correct context for the purposes of our discussion

    Answer please.

  280. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 12:39 pm

    And I would prefer your answers in closer to abstract than dissertation form.

    I think yoru answers have revealed that none of these issues are sufficiently complicated to warrant a thousand+ word exposition.

  281. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 12:59 pm

    steve12,

    “BTW – I think I’m completely wrong about the sockpuppet thing w/ cozying. OR, HN / Egnor is a genius con man.”

    And so begins the redemption of our fallen heroine…

    Maybe now you can go back and read my original comments in this stream and see them a little more clearly. I am just one person, an outsider, there are 5 comments for everyone one of mine, saying I’m a liar and a troll. If you listen to that you are falling into a false consensus trap. If you just read my comments and the comments I made reference to, you will clearly see what I actually was talking about. We have people here that paid so little attention to my actual words that they referred to me as a male for days.

    If you read other people talking about me you will see tons of strawman arguments and ridiculous fallacious arguments being quoted over and over as evidence for why I’m an idiot. It became a self-referential logical fallacy nightmare loop. Like the: synonyms debacle, the hardnose-cozying puppetry conjecture, the “Steven doesn’t Agree” doublespeak, the anti-science pro-religion philosophical douchiness, just to name a few.

    Not holding a grudge, just saying these are things that were repeated multiple times about me and cited as evidence that are totally made up, and that I addressed and clarified on many occasions. You would only come to a lot of these false conclusions by reading what people desperately said about me to win an argument, not by reading what I actually wrote.

    Some of my first comments here reveal and predict a lot of this behaviour. A lot of the responders heard: “I’m arguing for religion, I’m defending and supporting a troll,” got triggered, and unleashed a fury of insults. When in reality I said: hey this dude is saying some stuff that’s really widely believed, maybe we should give it a good rebuttal, if not for him, for onlookers and new readers. Yes I did disagree with many people’s responses to hardnose, that doesn’t make me your enemy, I hate bad arguments for positions I hold. These arguments well… they were out of context, sometimes flat-out wrong and a lot of them fell directly into the trap hardnose set.

    Now onto:
    “***What about my object re: who gets to decide the context of the discussion?***”

    I feel like this has been definitively addressed. My entire point in the: very obvious discussion about context, was that it shouldn’t be you deciding. Multiple people have said things along the lines of: this is a science blog, scientific evidence is the context. Well actually it isn’t. This blog is a scientific skepticism blog, dedicated to critical thinking and dissecting complex entanglements just like this one.

    Another point that directly contradicts that context logic of yours is that fact that hardnose clearly did not respect your established contextual rules about commenting. He spewed common new age arguments, not well thought out scientific positions.

    If you really believe that it’s okay to just say “burden of proof” in response to people like that, you are missing out on an opportunity to communicate on their level, and maybe change their minds.

    If you aren’t willing to meet them halfway, why should they just come all the way over to your side, live up to your standards and speak your language? Or even if you don’t believe in any of that, you could at least leave a good example for others.

    Steve Cross,

    Okay thanks for simmering down on the tone I guess? I mean I don’t really care, I’m not some delicate little flower that needs to be protected with reverse sexism. I think most readers would see your offensive speech for what it is, especially since there are no examples in anything I wrote, of the colourful adjectives you guys used against me. I mean isn’t it funny that here you are again championing “real skepticism” but your previous comments are chock-full of rude comments, and false arguments connecting me to a know troll? I get it you are a self described bitter old. Man. Cool. I can respect that, I still can’t shake this feeling.

    Don’t you realize that people don’t respond well to abusive labels and knocks on their confidence and personal motivations? You catch more flies with honey. In your long old man life, you didn’t learn this?

    This isn’t a pub where you are hanging out with an in-crowd of your fellow skeptics, complaining about the ignorant. This is a public place with new readers and people just dipping their toes into skepticism are free to participate. I know I’m repeating myself now, but many of those same people believe a lot of the things hardnose promoted, I know I did before I found skepticism and critical thinking. They would be turned off by a champion of “real skepticism” like yourself. Isn’t that interesting to you? Because it means you are actively working to push away newcomers. Don’t you want more people like you in the world? Don’t we all believe that the world would be a better place with more critical thinkers?

    Moving on:
    [ Here is another:
    I challenged you to engage “directly” with hardnose, and you responded with a long list of (indirect) comments about his views, capped off with pretty obvious snark — “Umm checkmate? Thanks for playing.” ]

    Okay so you did take what I said somehow as conceding which still makes no sense to me. It still looked like “you are a jerk. NO! You are the jerk” type of argument to me. I already addressed this, pay attention, I don’t have to “directly” respond to someone. What you did was move the goalpost.

    Me taking what hardnose said seriously, quoting and paraphrasing him many times, saying his actual name, demolishing his arguments, pointing out mistakes and unfair extrapolations, is somehow not good enough for you, and not a direct enough response? Like I said before in my response that you clearly didn’t read. Technically I didn’t call him up or go for tea, so I didn’t “directly” respond. But I did respond in the exact same medium he chose to post in.

    Another destructive point against your position: If I didn’t respond to him, why did he respond to what I said about his arguments and belief in the afterlife/religion by QUOTING my exact words?

  282. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Cozying:

    “I feel like this has been definitively addressed. My entire point in the: very obvious discussion about context, was that it shouldn’t be you deciding. ”

    You, to tmac:
    “You were wrong about burden of proof, it is out of context. I don’t take it personally that you won’t acknowledge it. You feel like you did a good job fine”

    B. YOU DID NOT answer my question re: why the non-scientific context was the CORRECT context, not just a different context.

    C. YOU DID NOT tell me why YOU are the arbiter of the correct context for the purposes of our discussion

    Answer please.

    Please answer.

  283. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 1:52 pm

    steve12,

    “B. YOU DID NOT answer my question re: why the non-scientific context was the CORRECT context, not just a different context.”

    Chill, take a breath. Don’t get mad at me me again. I really think I addressed the issue. The first person to mention burden of proof was mosben. tmac just repeated it.

    It’s the “wrong” context because Hardnose wasn’t talking about things in the skeptical context he wasn’t speaking our language. Also he explicitly mentioned something that’s unknowable/untestable/unprovable. The burden of proof can’t be used to counter that. I’m sorry you don’t agree, we will just have to drop it. I’ve explained my justification for this position in detail.

    Last possible reframing I can think of: Hardnose said some stuff in one arena, one area of discourse and used new age circular technicalities to promote his position. You said screw that and presented a concept from your position. You are both at an impasse at that point. Neither side is willing to take the fight to their opponent or meet half way. The thing is that he said ridiculous stuff in his context first, if you want to reply to someone saying ridiculous stuff you should address it first in their specified context so they understand.

    “C. YOU DID NOT tell me why YOU are the arbiter of the correct context for the purposes of our discussion”

    I’m not, I just make simple common knowledge arguments for taking the task to your opponent or meeting them half way, take it or leave it. You don’t have to listen to me. Depending on the goals, I am right though, my approach is much more productive. If you just want to insult and condescend people then your approach works great.

  284. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 2:48 pm

    cozying:

    In response to Question B:

    “It’s the “wrong” context because Hardnose wasn’t talking about things in the skeptical context he wasn’t speaking our language. Also he explicitly mentioned something that’s unknowable/untestable/unprovable. The burden of proof can’t be used to counter that. I’m sorry you don’t agree, we will just have to drop it. I’ve explained my justification for this position in detail.”

    No. At best, you should have posited a change of context for discussion, not imperiously declared the context as fact. Especially considering HN’s own words:

    “Steve N “knows” there is no afterlife. I thought that was something we can’t know for certain until we die. I have to wonder why a “skeptic,” whose beliefs are supposedly based on evidence, arrived at such an unscientific and ideological conclusion.”

    “An enormous amount of near death experience data has been collected. That should count somehow.”

    Looks like someone who’s exploring evidence to me! Evidence of the afterlife here is being offered to falsify the null that no afterlife exists. The claimant’s own words say that it is indeed potentially falsifiable, putting rebuttal SQUARLY in a scientific context by your own definition:

    # cozyingon 05 Dec 2016 at 6:06 pm:
    “The claim that the burden of proof is on religious people, is asking them to do the impossible to prove an unfalsifiable, untestable hypothesis. They might not be able to do that but they can attempt to show some evidence for why something is untestable. Hardnose actually kinda did provide examples for why the belief in the afterlife is untestable, he said things about materialistic science, implying a metaphysical new age argument, and how you can’t know until you pass on. All of this implies an untestable position. Once we are talking about an untestable thing, concepts like evidence and proof go out the window.
    Therefore responding to claims like this with the ‘burden of proof’ is like demanding a priest show you god or you won’t believe. He wants you to believe and go to church right? So he should provide unquestionable evidence for his side.”

    So he’s A. on science blog and B. discussing evidence – but no need for discussion! A scientific context is just plain WRONG. As you said to tmac:

    “You were wrong about burden of proof, it is out of context. I don’t take it personally that you won’t acknowledge it. You feel like you did a good job fine”

    Maybe you wanna rethink this one?

    In response to Question C:

    This is simply a dodge. You declared science the wrong context, and you’re trying to wriggle out of it here:

    “I’m not, I just make simple common knowledge arguments for taking the task to your opponent or meeting them half way, take it or leave it. You don’t have to listen to me.”

    Pointing out that force is not involved is a non-sequiter. YOU are the one who declared you were right about the context, and that other contexts were wrong (not simply different), and we are now debating that. Of course I don’t have to listen to you – that doesn’t some how nullify my point.

    “Depending on the goals, I am right though, my approach is much more productive.”

    Discussion productivity is not germane to whether a scientific context is correct or not. The claimant’s own words say that it is indeed potentially falsifiable. YOU claim that a scientific context is JUST PLAIN WRONG, no discussion necessary (see quote above).

    “If you just want to insult and condescend people then your approach works great.”

    How people feel about the context is not germane to whether it is correct or not. YOU claim that a scientific context is JUST PLAIN WRONG, no discussion necessary (see quote above).

  285. Steve Crosson 06 Dec 2016 at 3:53 pm

    cozying,

    I’m always willing (and prefer) to keep things calm and rational — as long as both sides engage honestly. In fact, I almost always start out that way and only escalate after it becomes apparent that the other side is not willing to engage honestly.

    Admittedly, I charged in with “all guns blazing” this time around. However, even though I joined a conversation already in progress, I did read almost all of the preceding comments (somehow missed your gender) before I decided to chime in.

    By the time I spoke up, you had already managed to annoy quite a few people, and I reacted to exactly the same things that they did. And it is most definitely NOT because we are just an “old boys club” that reflexively sticks up for each other. Some of the things you do are just flat out annoying.

    I’ve made most of these points before, but I think they got overshadowed by my bad manners. But first I want to make it perfectly clear that nothing I’m about to say is an ad hominem logical fallacy.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but you appear to think that any comment that you find insulting (or even just think is unfair) is an ad hominem. That is not true at all.

    Even though ad hominem is often used as a verbal shorthand, the correct name is ad hominem (informal) logical fallacy. That’s important because it clarifies the actual meaning. It is only a logical fallacy if the person saying it believes that the comment/insult somehow adds to the strength of their logical argument.

    It doesn’t. It is completely irrelevant. It does nothing to add to the strength of the proponent’s argument, and conversely (and often overlooked) it does nothing to weaken the argument either. It is pointless — when used as a logical argument.

    That doesn’t mean that (perceived) negative comments are never justified. Especially when they are presented in the spirit of constructive criticism. So here goes. You’re young and this is gonna hurt, but there is absolutely nothing I’m going to say which hasn’t been noticed and commented on by others in one form or another.

    I know you don’t agree with this, but you really do have a problem with misquoting people — or at a minimum, misunderstanding the actual point they are trying to make. Consequently, your responses often seem inadequate, to say the least. It happens so often that it appears to be willful.

    This is perhaps the thing that infuriates people the most around here. We call it selective engagement. Whether you are aware of it or not, you “appear” to only respond to subjects that you think you can win. Or, it appears as if you are intentionally creating a “straw man” version of the argument that is easier to knock down.

    My most recent example of the direct/indirect controversy illustrates this nicely. You (apparently willfully) focused on ridiculous side issues like my understanding of chess or the semantic distinction between direct and indirect. Even after I tried to make it crystal clear by explaining “Unless you’re willing to waste as many hours as we have engaging with hardnose, you don’t have the moral authority or credibility to lecture us on the right way to do it.” you still didn’t understand or respond to the actual point.

    That is a favorite hardnose technique and it drives people crazy. And it is the main reason that I originally came at you so aggressively.

    Even if you are doing this completely unintentionally, you need to stop. At a minimum, it shows that you can’t be bothered to try to understand your opponent’s actual point or argument. Besides being rude, it is extremely poor technique. If you don’t understand the actual argument, you’ll never be able to counter it effectively.

    I’ve got more, but this post is ridiculously long already so I’ll let you wrap your head around this for a while. And besides, when I was your age, this much brutal honesty would have made me crawl under a rock for a week.

  286. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 3:57 pm

    steve12,

    So this has now descended into another semantical debate about the difference between saying: wrong context and suggesting an a better context or a sticking to the original context.

    I feel like I expressed my side. If someone says something in context A and you counter from inside context B, to me that’s the “wrong” context. In my opinion it’s like answering the question: what’s your name? With: what does a name even mean, I refuse to be labeled, I resent that supposition, you have a burden of proof to demonstrate that names are even a real thing if you expect me to answer.

    Just don’t answer the question and go home.

    In this case I feel like it’s especially ridiculous to use the burden of ‘proof’ to show that it’s up to the other party to prove an unprovable belief, or the unprovability of it. Since we can never actually know for sure if it’s unprovable.

    Hardnose clearly specified the framework of the discussion he wished to have. He spoke first and you all replied to what he said, he wasn’t replying to any commenter here, he was replying to a perceived thing he thought Steven said in the article. Which no one said hey actually your conclusion isn’t justified that’s not what Steven said, you all went and tried to argue why the afterlife is obviously fiction.

    I’m not dodging anything. You are the one advocating for ignoring what your opponent says, not meeting them halfway, not using he framework that they set down at the beginning of the discussion.

    If you aren’t willing to go to their side and fight there or even go and meet half way, why should they accommodate your needs?

    Look at this point I’m just happy to look back at that few days and see all the ground you guys have lost. If this is now the biggest problem you have with me I guess I’m happy with that. Some times it’s important to celebrate even the smallest of victories.

  287. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Cozying:

    Not one word of your last post refutes anything I said in my last post:

    1. I clearly showed that you were wrong about what HN said: he was clearly offering evidence and not talking about, from his perspective, non-falsifiable phenomena. YOU said that this lack of falsifiability was the reason why a scientific context was wrong. Therefore you are wrong to say that scientific context is wrong.

    2. And I clearly showed that you asserted that a scientific context was wrong. Not one of several possible contexts. Not a suggestion to “reach people” or have a “productive discussion”. You said it was JUST PLAIN WRONG – your words, again:

    “You were wrong about burden of proof, it is out of context. I don’t take it personally that you won’t acknowledge it. You feel like you did a good job fine”

    Your response? Stop addressing point by point so that you don’t have to admit that you’re wrong.

    You need to learn to admit that you make mistakes. we all do.

  288. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Steve C:

    You must be the nicest and most patient person on the face of the Earth 🙂

  289. Steve Crosson 06 Dec 2016 at 4:37 pm

    steve12,

    I really do try, but all too often blow and go to the other extreme.

    So far, I think that the one thing I really do agree with cozying on is that calm, rational discussion is much more effective.

    We’ll see how long I can maintain my cool. Perhaps it is just her youth, but something tells me that she is not really into introspection.

  290. cozyingon 06 Dec 2016 at 5:28 pm

    steve12,

    Yes Steve if you frame everything I said in that exact way then I was wrong. I just don’t agree with that framing.

    For example the evidence quote you brought up about the NDEs is not referring to the same moment I’m referring too. You are taking something that happened later in the argument as counter evidence for the start. I don’t agree with this at all, this is actually a theme I’ve noticed and commented on, how people think it’s okay to rewrite history, reorder the chronology of the events to suit their side.

    Go read my first post in response to hardnose and mosben, kabbor etc. In it I address all the relevant stuff until that point. It makes no mention of NDE evidence because that happened after.

    Recently, I have been more than clear that I’m talking about hardnose’s mistakes about the conclusions he drew in that first comment he made, and people making burden of proof references.

    You have neglected the context that I’m clearly using, to show that I’m wrong. Hmmmm deja vu.

  291. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 5:49 pm

    “For example the evidence quote you brought up about the NDEs is not referring to the same moment I’m referring too. You are taking something that happened later in the argument as counter evidence for the start. ”

    I do not believe so. Please show evidence for this.

    “Go read my first post in response to hardnose and mosben, kabbor etc. In it I address all the relevant stuff until that point. It makes no mention of NDE evidence because that happened after.”

    No. HN mentioned NDE before that post:
    # hardnose on 29 Nov 2016 at 5:41 pm
    “An enormous amount of near death experience data has been collected. That should count somehow. ”

    Post you’re referring to:
    # cozyingon 29 Nov 2016 at 10:24 pm

    “Recently, I have been more than clear that I’m talking about hardnose’s mistakes about the conclusions he drew in that first comment he made, and people making burden of proof references.”

    I don’t understand this or it’s germanity to the points at hand.

    Framing has nothing to do with it. You were just plain wrong, about something trivial and easily corrected and cannot admit it. This is a serious flaw you should think about.

  292. steve12on 06 Dec 2016 at 5:49 pm

    its

  293. Steve Crosson 07 Dec 2016 at 8:16 am

    cozying and steve12,

    I commented on this earlier but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

    I don’t believe that there is any situation or context where the principle of Burden of Proof is inapplicable. The defining characteristic of skepticism is that beliefs are only justified when supported by actual evidence. There is literally no reason to engage someone about anything at all unless you have mutually agreed upon proof/evidence as the end goal.

    Cozying, if you meant to say that you are just talking about tactics, then I can accept that. I agree that simply walking up to someone and yelling Burden of Proof is not likely to be productive. Nevertheless, it must always be the goal at every step of the process.

    Even the suggestion you made about discussing Sagan’s Dragon is merely laying the groundwork to establish the necessity of evidence before accepting any particular beliefs. Once that foundation is built, then Burden of Proof flows naturally into the discussion.

    But the actual context never changes. The religious (or homeopath or whatever) person’s belief remains as unfalsifiable as ever. But at least now you have made them realize that their belief system is no more likely to be true than any other alternative religion or belief system.

  294. steve12on 07 Dec 2016 at 11:06 am

    “I don’t believe that there is any situation or context where the principle of Burden of Proof is inapplicable. The defining characteristic of skepticism is that beliefs are only justified when supported by actual evidence. There is literally no reason to engage someone about anything at all unless you have mutually agreed upon proof/evidence as the end goal.”

    Sort of see both sides of this one. You seem to be talking within a skeptical context, and of course that’s what we d here so you’re right. However, if two catholic theologians are having an argument about who should receive sainthood next, or some such, I can see where this standard might be abandoned. Or when people talk about their feelings or whatever else.

    The rest of your post Steve, I completely agree with.

    We all know people like cozying. Admitting they’re wrong is like admitting some defeat. Even when pushed into simpler waters where it becomes clear (as I did above), there is some rhetorical lifeboat that can be jumped into. She seems intelligent an well read, especially for what I assume is a young person (maybe I’m wrong there as well?). But I know this: you can’t have that flaw and be a scientist or someone who wants to maximize their understanding of the universe. I think we’re all thinking of the same Feynman qoute here. You gotta be Devil’s Advocate to your own thoughts first, not cling to them to an embarrassing degree.

  295. BillyJoe7on 07 Dec 2016 at 3:25 pm

    cozy,

    You seem to hold the view that accommodation, as opposed to confrontation, is an effective strategy when dealing with people with religious views. That, it seems to me, is a falsifiable claim. Do you any evidence in support of that strategy?

    Perhaps, like diplomacy and activism, both are useful, and perhaps both are even necessary.
    That certainly seems to have been the case with respect to slavery, sexism, and homophobia.

  296. Steve Crosson 07 Dec 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Steve12

    There’s no doubt that cozying could use a healthy dose of Feynman vitamins. Hopefully, she’ll grow out of it. If we’re both wrong and she is not a young person, then we could be in a for a bumpy ride. Hardnose is one thing, but having a true believer forever telling us that we’re “doing it wrong” could get even more tedious.

    Regarding BoP, I’m still having a hard time accepting that it is possible to effectively resolve any disagreement without the use of some mutually agreeable objective metric. Even the theologians you reference will be attempting to “prove” that their opinion is better by presenting “evidence” to support their point of view. Even subjective opinions can be influenced by objective metrics (e.g. number of miracles performed, people supposedly healed, etc.). If the two sides still choose to subjectively place different values on the “evidence”, then the argument may not be resolvable. In effect, the burden of proof has not been met.

    But the same principles always apply. Anyone professing any affirmative belief can justifiably be expected to provide evidence in support of those beliefs if they expect others to also accept them. Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is anyway. I’ve never gotten into a discussion with anyone who was not more than willing to volunteer plenty of reasons why their opinion was true — regardless of the topic of discussion.

    The only issue is whether those reasons are good ones, i.e. whether they have met the burden of proof. The only conceivable time (at least IMHO) that meeting the burden of proof would not be required is when NO affirmative claim is being made, e.g. soft atheism. On the other hand, a hard atheist who insists that deities are impossible or even just highly improbable should be prepared to justify that opinion.

  297. cozyingon 08 Dec 2016 at 10:30 am

    Speaking in absolutes only hurts your position. I never said BoP was bad concept, or that I don’t think it’s useful. I provided many reasons why in this specific case it didn’t provide anything useful to the discussion.

    BoP totally applies to lots of different discussions and issues that skeptics face everyday. In Steven’s article about the battery charge app for example, he makes great use of the concept. He talks about how the BoP is on the inventors to show the world that their app really does work. This is because of that whole extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence thing. It’s also useful to note that that the app is built for a specific arena, the mobile phone app market, and that the app has a stated claim in a measurable, verifiable way. In this case you can really say that the developers have a BoP to show evidence for their side. Their app is unusual and is making impressive claims. It also happens to be easily testable, upon release it will be laughed at.

    This is not similar with the belief afterlife. It’s not a testable thing and the arena is religious thought. BoP literally has the word “proof” in the title, and “evidence” in the definition. Notice how you can’t “disprove” the afterlife, or provide sufficient “evidence” to justify its existence? You cant even prove it for sure is unfalsifiable, it’s totally in the realm of possibility that we are all wrong and just can’t detect it. Do you see why it’s problematic to use BoP here? And we didn’t even get to the part about the specific nature of this argument yet.

    Brining up BoP is just not going to help you convince people or shatter their faith. It’s literally equivalent to demanding a priest show you god if he wants you to believe. Religious people don’t think in terms of evidence and proof the way we do. And in some cases lack of evidence justifies their belief, some theologians define faith in that way, you just have to take a leap of faith and believe in him with no evidence, if he showed himself then everyone would believe, the true test is to believe because it’s hard and you don’t have certainty etc.

    If you want to have a useful discussion you should probably meet them half way or go all the way over to their side and point out logical inconstancies and problems using their language in a way they can understand. This isn’t patronizing or mean to religious people, this is just the way the world works, I don’t think religious thought is a bad thing and I don’t hate religious people. I just think they were taught that when they were young and not given the skills to question. I don’t insult people for what they believe.

    In the afterlife example he was clearly proud that the afterlife isn’t testable. Maybe challenge that instead, show how unfalsifiablity isn’t something to be proud of, and isn’t evidence for anything. BoP doesn’t stop millions from believing despite evidence. But we can recruit people with simple logical arguments and by speaking their language. Like showing the vast number of religions with contradictory beliefs, it’s really hard to study various religions of the world and still walk away a hardcore Christian. How none of the ancient religions had any knowledge of the new world, or anything 1000 miles from where the author lived. Showing the harm religious thought leads to like suicide attacks, genital mutilation, crusades, various wars, systematic pedophilia. Showing how some beliefs are testable and verifiable, the age of the earth, evidence for evolution, the ineffectiveness of prayer and other faith based treatments.

    Notice how in my examples you actually can use the BoP correctly. You can demonstrate, with evidence, all those things. They also happen to be claims about measurable verifiable things.

  298. Steve Crosson 08 Dec 2016 at 11:20 am

    Cozying,

    Notice how in my examples you actually can use the BoP correctly. You can demonstrate, with evidence, all those things. They also happen to be claims about measurable verifiable things.

    Which is exactly my point. The principle always applies. There is literally no other way to counter an unfalsibiable belief except by teaching the necessity of evidence / proof. That is the only way to demonstrate the unreliability of faith. Every example you gave was merely pointing out the kinds of things that can happen when your beliefs are not supported by evidence / proof.

  299. Steve Crosson 08 Dec 2016 at 11:22 am

    Umm … “unfalsifiable”

    Where is autocorrect when you need it?

  300. chikoppion 08 Dec 2016 at 12:18 pm

    I think you may have unintentionally coined a perfect term…

    Unfalsibabble!

  301. Kabboron 08 Dec 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I also like the term unfalsibuyable. There the emphasis is on someone selling you something with vague unfalsifiable claims.

    “This revolutionary potion will enhance your chakras! It will also provide you a powerful new chakra! And will attract positive-energy ghosts! Buy now and I’ll even throw in a scroll of true charisma! Read it twice daily!”

  302. steve12on 08 Dec 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Steve C:

    “Regarding BoP, I’m still having a hard time accepting that it is possible to effectively resolve any disagreement without the use of some mutually agreeable objective metric. Even the theologians you reference will be attempting to “prove” that their opinion is better by presenting “evidence” to support their point of view. Even subjective opinions can be influenced by objective metrics (e.g. number of miracles performed, people supposedly healed, etc.). If the two sides still choose to subjectively place different values on the “evidence”, then the argument may not be resolvable. In effect, the burden of proof has not been met.”

    Yeah, this is true. I guess I meant more that there are certain assumptions that I can accept for the purposes of certain kinds of discussion, but that’s really a different thing. Those assumptions are, ispo facto of being assumptions, not challenged – so a BoP doesn’t really apply.

    So yeah, I take it back – if the point is in dispute (which it always is in an argument) there has to be some agreed upon objective measure for evidence. The alternative is just accepting literally anything and everything the other person asserts.

    This is an important distinction I didn’t think through.

  303. steve12on 08 Dec 2016 at 1:22 pm

    # cozying on 08 Dec 2016 at 10:30 am translated:

    “So really, I was right all along. And that’s all I really care about.”

  304. CKavaon 22 Jan 2017 at 8:01 am

    *Note* Response to cozy from another thread that was being needlessly derailed.

    You sure do talk about God a lot, and in an interesting way, I don’t know many atheists that use these expressions. Of course I’ve heard atheists/agnostics say out loud: “Oh god!” Or “god damn!” Or “Jesus,” in both positive and negative moments. They don’t mean anything theistic by it, but I don’t know if I’ve heard many atheists write “god bless you,” nor have I seen them even write “dear god” on an informal comment on a blog. It’s also hard to imagine an atheist (someone who thinks god doesn’t exist and therefore is incapable of ‘knowing’ anything) would title their personal website: God knows what(?).

    I have to wonder, are you a theist/agnostic? Nothing wrong with that if you are, it just might explain some of this conflict, since I’ve said multiple times that I’m an atheist. I’m not trying to use some theist prejudice to attack you, it’s just interesting and might contextualize our disagreement.

    Nope. I’m I’m an atheist but was raised in a Catholic family in Northern Ireland, so I’m used to religious/God themed expressions and do not have your hang ups about using phrases that reference God/religion, particularly when I want to express exasperation or curse. (Maybe you just haven’t met enough Irish people yet?)

    My blog title was just a random in-joke because god-knows-what is a common phrase meaning ‘it could be anything’ but the blog was also about CSR research which deals with people’s perceptions of God(s), hence God knows ‘what?’. Not that interesting, I know, but you are the only person who has ever read anything into it and caused me to explain it.

  305. cozyingon 23 Jan 2017 at 11:03 am

    Steve Cross + others on BoP,

    Clearly my point(s) was not about the nature of BoP, but how it’s not an effective approach when dealing with religious arguments.

    It’s really interesting rereading the cheerleading, rabid obsessive nature of the skeptic activists on here, after some more experience with it. I never said I didn’t think BoP had its uses, or that critical thinking was bad.

    All I said was that Burden of “proof” can’t address a type of reasoning that doesn’t rely on “proof.” These people are not playing by your rules, and they use a very different type of reasoning system that is not influenced by your methodology.

    Go up to a priest and tell him to show you god, when he doesn’t, laugh and walk away, see if he is convinced by your burden of proof.

    Try it on any old religious lady, tell her that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that if she expects you to believe she better show you some astounding evidence. There are tactics that do work, and are effective in recruiting atheists, these are not them.

    Science isn’t in the business of proving things, that’s mathematics, in science we formulate falsifiable hypotheses, a position is only valid if it can be formulated in a way that it can be disproven. See falsifiability for more.

    God cannot be disproven, hence it’s not a scientific position, however it’s possible that god can be “proven.” He could reveal himself to us right now and put atheists like me to shame. I acknowledge as an atheist that I could be wrong, it’s possible god could exist, but I still don’t believe, why? Spiritual people, and there are a lot of them, don’t care about how the afterlife isn’t falsifiable or how there isn’t convincing proof for it. Theologians have addressed these issues centuries ago. Claiming that your BoP knocks down near death experiences and other horrible arguments for the afterlife, is not really good enough. Theologians have much stronger arguments for believing blindly just on faith. But you can’t fight those because you prefer to only attack the weak.

    Finally, BoP was mentioned here well Before NDEs, and used to counter the claims science=materialism and the afterlife can’t be disproven, which is just bad argumentation. The first claim is just the wrong philosophical framework for modern science and has nothing to do with BoP. Which no one but me noticed, and I got called all sorts of nasty words for daring to mention model dependent realism. The second claim is literally about something that can’t be disproven. It turns out it’s also really hard to prove something that’s unfalsifiable: see god for more information.

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