In order to find the solution, you must find the probelm

Cpt_pineapple
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In order to find the solution, you must find the probelm

In recent discussions offsite, I am often confronted [particularly for Kevin R Brown] as to why I make the arguments I make. Why I hold the views I hold. Again, since I no longer have a blog, the RRS site will be were my thoughts are dumped.


People [Kevin in particular] seem to think that I make these arguments because I want people to remain in religion, or I want people to be bigots or terrorists.

 

 

 

Imagine I go to the doctor. I complain about coughing, sneezing and chest pains. I go in and the describe the symptoms, and without even examining me, the doctor then writes up a perscription and sends me on my way. 

 

Is this a good way to practice medicine?

 

It's absurd. Lots of things cause coughing, lots of things cause sneezing, lots of things cause chest pain. It could be a single thing that's causing all three symptoms, [and maybe symptons I'm not aware of] or it could be a host of other things. The medicine could very well kill me, either directly, or indirectly by leaving my actual condition untreated. Of course, the doctor may have correctly guessed and gave me the correct medicine and the medicine didn't cause any complications. But wouldn't it be better if he examined me?

 

Now how about this?

 

Imagine if I take it further. The doctor read in a medical journal, that there was a woman in Portugal who had the same symptoms as me, and it turns out she had an ovary infection, so the ovaries had to be removed. Now, what if the doctor used that to put me under the knife? What if the doctor wanted to remove YOUR ovaries or testicles based on a condition somebody else had?

 

Better yet, is asking the doctor to examine me in any way implying that I want to stay sick?

 

I think this example shows that in order to cure the disease, you have to know what it is.

 

That's exactly why I'm a harsh critic of cause and religion. That's why I demand peer reviewed evidence. That's why I provide peer reviewed evidence. It's because I DON'T want people to be terrorist. I DON'T want people to be bigots, I DON'T want people hold group cohesion at a higher value as truth and morality. In order to actually get progress going, in order

 

If it's religion that causing suicide bombings or authoratianism then why isn't the evidence showing this? Why aren't atheists in the anti-theist movement who are making these claims trucking in loads of peer reviewed evidence that it is? Why do they so readily dismiss evidence that goes against it? To be fair, the only actual peer reviewed papers they present are the two Gregory Paul studies. However, Paul's papers are to test whether or not atheist countries are worst off. They're not. That's all his papers prove and show. To suggest otherwise is to confuse correlation with causation. Couldn't the poverty and high crime rate cause the religion seeing as people use religion as comfort? Maybe a little of religion amplifying ills, and a little of the ills amplifying religion? Okay, but which one dominates? If we get rid of the religion will it lower the ills? How do we know that?

 


This is what gets me about the atheist movement. Take Kevin as the example. Look at his comments on this entry. Apperantly scientists not coming to the same conclusion as Mr. Brown they're closet theists. His best rebuttal is that Harris, Htichens, Dennet, Eugenie Scott, Tyson, etc... disagree.  You can read his ad homs at this entry. [I'm Alison in the comments and to avoid confusion, the first entry I linked to is the most recent]

 

 

I find it extremely disturbing that people who claim to be spread science, reason, and empircialism are so eager to dismiss and even downright discourage it.

 

I think the best way to get rid of a problem is to actually determine the problem. Which means setting intuition and emotions aside, and rely on actual critical and scientific thinking.

 

And I for one think atheists should lead by example.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kapkao
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As I see it

ProblemA: Opinions are like assholes; everyone has them, and they usually stink

Gray's Corollary: Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence

(or stupidity. I never get it right the first time anyways)

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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so kevin's still kicking

so kevin's still kicking around somewhere?


Cpt_pineapple
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iwbiek wrote:so kevin's

iwbiek wrote:

so kevin's still kicking around somewhere?

 

yeah, on Hamby's blog

 

 

 


BobSpence
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Cpt, your debate with Kevin

Cpt, your debate with Kevin is more of the "same ol' same ol' ".

You do a bit of strawmaning in claiming "Apperantly scientists not coming to the same conclusion as Mr. Brown they're closet theists." based presumably on his words that he had "something of a suspicion he [Atran] was a closet theist", which falls a little short of your claim.

He said he couldn't quite tell why he felt a bit 'suspicious' about Atran, so he did the right thing, and  " I went and did some reading on his background."

I had somewhat the same reaction to Mr Atran as Kevin. And I see you as having the same problem you accuse Kevin of - you tend to automatically support, with less than the rigour you demand of others, anyone who appears to think the same way you do.

I am not saying either you or Mr Atran are openly or even necessarily consciously 'biased', but you both seem to have a similar underlying 'gut' reaction to certain criticisms of religion and related ideas.

Which is why your statement that 

Quote:

People [Kevin in particular] seem to think that I make these arguments because I want people to remain in religion, or I want people to be bigots or terrorists.

 is a massive misrepresentation, really a serious 'ad hominem'.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Shit, Gray's Corollary: Any

Shit, Gray's Corollary: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence or ignorance is indistinguishable from malice.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Alison, the analogy is more

Alison, the analogy is more something like this:

 

You go to the doctor complaining of cold-like systems, the doctor does bloodwork on you and diagnoses you with having contracted HIV; the symptoms you're currently experiencing are the onset of an AIDS induced opportunistic infection. You then go into feverish denial, digging into the HIV revisionist literature, claiming that 'HIV has never been shown to cause AIDS', allying yourself with demonstrable frauds & sheisters and screaming that anyone who underlines the absence of their credibility is just making 'ad hominem attacks'. 

We've shown you the body counts, the tortured infants, the brainwashed camps of teenagers, the mutilated women, the poverty & despair of superstitious & naive communities in the 3rd world. You just choose to ignore it & marginalize it, poo-poo it as 'not proving anything!'

I don't need an article in an academic journal when I have a mountain of burned 'witches' & 'heretics' to point to, or a pair of obliterated skyscrapers, or a few thousand pictures of girls who's faces have been disfigured.

 

Do you demand anyone point to an academic journal article that supports the idea that the Holocaust occurred, and that it occurred as a planned, systematic effort of the Nazi party? I assume you don't, so why don't you?

I'll tell you why: because we have Goebbels's diary. Because we saw the remains of Auswitz. Because we have the testimony of the Nazi officers tried at Nuremberg. We could use your logic in this case if we really wanted to - that because we don't have academic journal articles dedicated to proving that the Nazis intended to carry out genocide as a result of Mr. Rosenberg's ideological framework, we should skirt around the issue and pretend that 'well, you just never know - maybe those Jews really did have it coming. Or maybe it was all just a big coincidence, and there just happened to be 5 million Jewish casualties during the war.' 

Some things are just beyond reasonable dispute and do not require any serious analysis; the toxic attitudes & actions of religious radicals are one of those things. Go on and continue with your contrarian masturbation if you must; I'm bored with it. Your hands-off attitude marginalizes you anyway, so it's not as if yourself or any other utterly neutral pacifist will offer any more an obstacle to the revolutionaries of a new enlightenment than you do to the mass murderers.

 

EDIT: Here's a thought experiment, based on some fiction I'm currently writing:

Imagine if the elephant icon of the Republican party were to appear in the night sky over the western hemisphere, manifest through aurora borealis - clearly at the behest of some intelligent agency. This would be followed by a message for all Republicans to take to the streets and start killing Democrats.

How much traction do you think such a message would gain?

 

Now, suppose that rather than the icon of the Republican party, it's the image of the Virgin Mary that is manifest, and the order is to take to the streets and kill all of the atheists & 'evolutionists' who are the allies of Lucifer.

How many orders of magnitude greater an effect do you think such a message would have? 

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


Kapkao
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Kevin just sort of came out of nowhere, yes?

hmmm...........

HRRRMMMMM......................................................

HMPH!

So I guess RRS'ers are gossiped about as well the goings on of RRS being discussed by regular posters... offsite. Well, Kevin...

You have just (unintentionally) confirmed a theory I have been speculating and building upon for quite a while!

 

 

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

Quote:

People [Kevin in particular] seem to think that I make these arguments because I want people to remain in religion, or I want people to be bigots or terrorists.

 is a massive misrepresentation, really a serious 'ad hominem'.

 

 

Actually Bob, I may have UNDERESTIMATED Mr. Brown's views

 

 

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/extremism-and-party-lines/#comment-2322

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

 

You make the arguments you make because you’re a sorry little apologist for mass murderers & sadists. It’s fine by you whatever the church does – afterall, it’s just ‘human nature’ at work anyway, right?

 

 

 

One of the things I like about Kevin is that he can't stop running his mouth. Now to be fair, I also get frustrated and infuriated and lots of posts, but I prefer to take a "15 minute breather break" before actually hitting the post button so I don't come off as angry and pissed even if I actually am.

 

 

Anyway

 

Rather than quote Mr. Brown's post point by point, I'll just explain to him once again why he's wrong.

 

First thing that came to my mind is the fact that questioning the causes of certain events does not imply that I think the events never took place.

 

I mean if I claim that the Soviet Union collapsed because the US kidnapped the aliens from the Roswell crash and used their psychic powers to corrupt the Soviet government from within, and then you questioned it wouldn't be the same as you saying the Soviet Union didn't collapse or never existed.

 

Another thing that came to mind is couldn't Kevin's approach lend credence to the Theists who claim that Stalin's atheism lead to the Soviet massacres? I mean if it's so patently obvious that Stalin's rejection of God allowed him to think he could get away with anything that he would lead a brutal regime?

 

I could go on and on with this. Why bother to try to prove that video games cause violence when they clearly do [how many youth offenders play violent video games]?  Why bother to prove that porn causes men to rape and murder when it obviously does [how many serial killer/rapists have a stash of porn under their bed]?

 

The fact of the matter is we can't adopt this reasoning for one thing and then reject it for others.

 

We are talking about human behavour. Which is extremely complicated and complex and multi-faceted

 

 

Or here's one that hits home. What about me? When I was Theist I thought that is was so patently obvious that God existed. That the order and wonder of the universe clearly and obviously pointed to a creator. So why would I have bothered to test this? Why would I have bothered to actually try to provide proof for this?

 

 

Now, Kevin I will say this again, and pay attention this time:

 

 

Trying to determine the causes of behavour of actions in no way condones or supports the actions or the people who commit those actions. The fact is our beliefs are just the surface of a more complex matrix of ideas

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Hidden-Brain-Unconscious-Presidents-Control/dp/0385525214


 

 

If somebody says robbing banks is caused by playing video games and there would be less bank robberies if we got rid of video games, does me questioning this mean I want people to rob banks?

 

 

 

Also, has it ever occured to you that the best way to get people out of religion is to study the psychology of religion and use that as a tool?

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cpt_pineapple
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Kapkao wrote:hmmm...........

Kapkao wrote:

hmmm...........

HRRRMMMMM......................................................

HMPH!

So I guess RRS'ers are gossiped about as well the goings on of RRS being discussed by regular posters... offsite. Well, Kevin...

You have just (unintentionally) confirmed a theory I have been speculating and building upon for quite a while!

 

 

 

 

 


Kapkao
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hmph, humans... in all their fallible presumptions...

*facial twitching*

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Do you really want to get cute with me, dear sister?

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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I think I agree with Capt.

I think I agree with Capt. on this.  Specific religious belief is certainly a direct cause of certain behaviors we categorize as negative, but the root cause is more likely to be something like social groups and labels that discourage feelings of empathy for the 'other' and the loss of morality that goes along with that void.

Investigating the root psychological cause seems like a noble and effective tactic.

I suppose you could say that it was not useful to tackle the problems caused by religion in that way, but you would have to show that it was easier to eradicate theistic belief and replace it with atheistic rationalism than it is to mold and liberalize religions that are traditionally 'exclusive', thereby removing the worst behavior associated with some strands of theism.  Now, you might be able to show that by pointing to modern secular societies...not sure, that would be an interesting discussion.

 

It seems like the opposition to Capt. might be valuing the 'truth' of atheistic rationality over actual human benefit unless they can demonstrate that atheistic rationality is statistically more beneficial than a benevolent, liberal, inclusive religion.

 

 

 

On the other hand, it is late and I just used a lot of fancy words.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Quote:

 

People [Kevin in particular] seem to think that I make these arguments because I want people to remain in religion, or I want people to be bigots or terrorists.

 is a massive misrepresentation, really a serious 'ad hominem'.

 

Actually Bob, I may have UNDERESTIMATED Mr. Brown's views 

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/extremism-and-party-lines/#comment-2322

Kevin R Brown wrote:

You make the arguments you make because you’re a sorry little apologist for mass murderers & sadists. It’s fine by you whatever the church does – afterall, it’s just ‘human nature’ at work anyway, right?

Since that statement refers to the Catholic Church, it is a more defensible than the the statement of yours that I quoted above.

Although both statements are arguably a bit 'over the top' in the rhetoric employed, as can happen in these sort of clashes of views.

But I will hold to my point that to claim that "Kevin seem[s] to think that I make these arguments because ... I want people to be bigots or terrorists" in particular, is totally indefensible.

Quote:

One of the things I like about Kevin is that he can't stop running his mouth. Now to be fair, I also get frustrated and infuriated and lots of posts, but I prefer to take a "15 minute breather break" before actually hitting the post button so I don't come off as angry and pissed even if I actually am.

Pity you didn't do that before posting that little gem.

Quote:

Anyway

Rather than quote Mr. Brown's post point by point, I'll just explain to him once again why he's wrong.

First thing that came to my mind is the fact that questioning the causes of certain events does not imply that I think the events never took place.

I mean if I claim that the Soviet Union collapsed because the US kidnapped the aliens from the Roswell crash and used their psychic powers to corrupt the Soviet government from within, and then you questioned it wouldn't be the same as you saying the Soviet Union didn't collapse or never existed.

I hadn't noticed Kevin saying or implying that, but I only just started to scan that blog since you brought it up in this thread.

I would genuinely appreciate a link to where Kevin or Hamby accused you of thinking that.

BTW, in the part of the Blog you linked to in the OP, I only see more of the same stuff, and I am pretty much agree with Kevin.

And just to make clear my approach to these topics, I am now prepared to acknowledge that there does seem to be a good case that the link between terrorism and religion is quite a bit less direct and less 'causal' than I and others, including Dawkins, have thought. It does seem to be more a matter of small group dynamics, but there still is a correlation with religion, in that the social context which makes these dynamics more likely is typically one that has strong religious elements. At least one of the recent accounts I read/heard pointed out that there still was some link to religious attitudes in the society, but the world-views of individual terrorists were not at all typically of the 'religious fanatic' kind.  The causes are indeed usually more complex.

And this does not mean that there is not a significant sub-set of terrorists who are motivated by their religious beliefs.

This still does not really lead me to modify my overall judgement of Atran that much, since I have recalled other reasons for my assessment, in particular much of what he said at one of the 'Beyond Belief' conferences I viewed in Google video, on many topics, and I still see a strong leaning to want to find reasons to discount accounts which give religion more direct link to any of these problems. Just as Kevin, Hamby, and I see in you. 

Even clearly biased views can occasionally coincide with reality.

Quote:

Another thing that came to mind is couldn't Kevin's approach lend credence to the Theists who claim that Stalin's atheism lead to the Soviet massacres? I mean if it's so patently obvious that Stalin's rejection of God allowed him to think he could get away with anything that he would lead a brutal regime?

I see what you are trying to say there, but that only really works if you adopt the Theist take on Atheism where they give atheism, or rejection of a belief,  an equivalent status to an active belief system, a belief in a specific dogma.

Quote:

I could go on and on with this. Why bother to try to prove that video games cause violence when they clearly do [how many youth offenders play violent video games]?  Why bother to prove that porn causes men to rape and murder when it obviously does [how many serial killer/rapists have a stash of porn under their bed]?

The fact of the matter is we can't adopt this reasoning for one thing and then reject it for others.

We are talking about human behavour. Which is extremely complicated and complex and multi-faceted 

Or here's one that hits home. What about me? When I was Theist I thought that is was so patently obvious that God existed. That the order and wonder of the universe clearly and obviously pointed to a creator. So why would I have bothered to test this? Why would I have bothered to actually try to provide proof for this?

Now, Kevin I will say this again, and pay attention this time:

Trying to determine the causes of behavour of actions in no way condones or supports the actions or the people who commit those actions. The fact is our beliefs are just the surface of a more complex matrix of ideas

But by that same token, that does not allow us to give religion a free pass either.

It certainly does not mean our beliefs are not strongly involved - to deny or discount that is to insult the believer's themselves, as well as to deny reality. It is more a matter that their explicit beliefs are not necessarily the only contributing factor, or that the sort of action that the belief leads to is what you might rationally expect.

Quote:

http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986

http://www.amazon.ca/Hidden-Brain-Unconscious-Presidents-Control/dp/0385525214

If somebody says robbing banks is caused by playing video games and there would be less bank robberies if we got rid of video games, does me questioning this mean I want people to rob banks?

Also, has it ever occured to you that the best way to get people out of religion is to study the psychology of religion and use that as a tool?

I listened to two interviews over the last few days with the writer of the 'Hidden Brain'. Very interesting, but only emphasising the complexity of our motivations, not quite refuting some of the clearer cases where the involvement of religion is rather tight, such as in the many crimes of that abominable institution the RCC.

I think you are getting well into straw-man territory here.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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 If I have one major

 If I have one major complaint with Alison's position, it's that she consistently uses what I call the "straight line fallacy."  It goes something like this:

* There is no peer reviewed evidence that Religion Causes X.

* Therefore, religion is not a cause of X.

It sounds intuitively correct, but it's being over-simplistic.  Where I also think Alison hedges to make herself look better is in not acknowledging my actual position.  I don't believe religion is THE cause of very many things at all.  In fact -- and Alison's seen this at least five hundred seventy two times, and has never really come up with a reasonable objection to it -- I don't claim RELIGION is the problem.  I claim that FAITH BASED REASONING is a CATALYST and FACILITATOR of many of the more despicable ills that humans wreak on themselves and others.

It so happens that religion is the most widespread and socially acceptable vehicle for faith-based reasoning, so I can understand why the casual reader might think I was talking about the same thing, but I'm not.  However, I've said it clearly, in as many words:

Quote:
I suspect she [Alison] thinks of me as deeply emotionally attached to tilting the windmill of eradicating religion from the world.  But in examining my own psyche, I found that this is not the case.  I'm deeply emotionally attached to ending as much suffering as possible and increasing happiness as much as possible.  I happen to believe that faith is one of the biggest hindrances to both these ends, and so I focus the brunt of my energy in that direction.

I have also said -- in as many words -- that faith based reasoning might be a symptom of a bigger problem:

Quote:
When I say, “That woman’s FAITH made her starve herself to death,” I might be describing the symptom, not the disease.  Perhaps the woman’s faith was the result of a combination of low self esteem, emotional connection to other people of faith, and fear of death.  Maybe she had a secret death wish and was using faith as a convenient excuse to get her way while garnering approval for her action.

I have no doubt that if we had a magic machine that told us the complete answer to the question of behavioral causality, each individual “faithist” would have their own unique combination of hundreds of causal factors.

This brings me around to a clear statement of why I find Alison's objections... objectionable.  I believe that she is the equivalent of an empiricist dog chasing its own tail.  No matter how many times you go in a circle, that damn tail is still just out of reach.  So it can be when we discuss causation and human psychology:

* I got up because I wasn't sleepy anymore.

* I got up because I needed to go to work.

* I got up because I knew I'd be hungry soon.

* I got up because my cat kept meowing at me.

* I got up because I needed to take a dump.

These are all true for me this morning.  When it comes right down to it, any one of these "causes" might have been described as the straw that broke the camel's back and led me to get up.  But they all played a part.  But it's not even that simple:

* I wasn't sleepy anymore because my serotonin levels changed.

* I wasn't sleepy anymore because I already had 9 hours of decent sleep.

* I wasn't sleepy anymore because my cat's consistent meowing shifted my awareness to more awake.

So...

* I got up this morning because I already had 9 hours of sleep.  

Simple, right?  Except...

* I got 9 hours of sleep last night because I was tired from lack of sleep over the weekend.

And...

* I was tired over the weekend because I was playing darts at a tournament in Charlotte.

And...

* I was playing darts because I'm good at it and have been playing for a decade.

And...

* I started playing darts because it was the only game in the bar.

And...

* I was in the bar to try to meet a girl.

 

So...

I got up this morning because I was trying to meet a girl.

 

Technically, it's correct, but at some point, we're just playing a silly game of cause and effect.  And Alison's objections to "cause-effect" statements seem more like chasing the dog's tail than trying to be a part of a meaningful solution to a real problem.  Do we need lots of scientific research into the exact psychology of religion and faith-based thought?  Absolutely!  Do we have to have a complete psychological profile of every member of a country before we can say:  "That country has a religious problem"?  Clearly not.

If I were making specific scientific claims, such as "94% of all Faith-Based-Believers have X psychological condition, which is directly attributed to childhood indoctrination at Jesus Camp," sure.  Hang me from the flagpole by my underwear if I don't have the peer review to back it up.  But what I say, and what I think most non-psychologist atheists say, is very simple:

* There's a high correlation between certain societal ills and faith based belief.

* People's faith based beliefs clearly have something to do with their behavior.

* We should try to help people believe things based on reason, not faith.  It will probably make them more likely to make at least some decisions better in the long run.

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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BobSpence1 wrote: I hadn't

BobSpence1 wrote:

 

I hadn't noticed Kevin saying or implying that, but I only just started to scan that blog since you brought it up in this thread.

I would genuinely appreciate a link to where Kevin or Hamby accused you of thinking that.

 

 

 

It wasn't from the blog, it was from his post here. He kept rambling on about how there's tons of evidence the holocaust happened or that the crusades happened as if I didn't know or think they did.

 

Oh and for the record, the accusations in the OP are to Kevin, not Hamby. Though I linked to Hamby's blog, I wanted to cite the comments from Kevin. Though I don't know Hamby's thoughts on why I argue about religion [and I don't care to speculate], I was focusing on Kevin's because he explicitly asked me why.

 

But tell you what, though I still think it's true I'll be more conservative in my in accusations against Kevin until further conformation which will most likely coencide with his next post.

 


 

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

 

This still does not really lead me to modify my overall judgement of Atran that much, since I have recalled other reasons for my assessment, in particular much of what he said at one of the 'Beyond Belief' conferences I viewed in Google video, on many topics, and I still see a strong leaning to want to find reasons to discount accounts which give religion more direct link to any of these problems. Just as Kevin, Hamby, and I see in you.

 

 

Okay, what ARE those assessments and why?

 

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

But by that same token, that does not allow us to give religion a free pass either.

It certainly does not mean our beliefs are not strongly involved - to deny or discount that is to insult the believer's themselves, as well as to deny reality. It is more a matter that their explicit beliefs are not necessarily the only contributing factor, or that the sort of action that the belief leads to is what you might rationally expect.

 

Of course religion doesn't get a free pass, but neither does arguments against religion.


For example, for your post some questions that came to my mind

 

How much does religion contribute? Would it be possible to do without religion? Would it be significantly reduced if we got rid of religion? You said that "the social context which makes these dynamics more likely is typically one that has strong religious elements." what evidence is there of this and how much do these strong religious elements contribute?

I don't think asking these questions is a bad thing or is giving religion a free pass.

 

I have repeatly stated that arguments about religion should be held up to the same standards as arguments from religion.

 

A Theist saying religion encourages people [or is required] to donate to a blood drive should be held to the same standards are somebody saying religion encourages people [or is required] to become terrorists.

 

Pointing to religious people who donate blood or become terrorists aren't enough.

 

Let me illustrate this:

 

In WWII an American squadron finds a hide out of Jews, with the Nazis quickly advancing. One of them agrees to stay behind and fire on the Nazis until the others can get themselves and the Jews to safety. His firing on them will buy enough time for the others to get out, but  he is clearly outnumbered and will die when the Nazis inevetiablly advance.

 

We view this act as selfless, heroic, noble etc....

 

But ask the average atheist if religion was required for such an heroic action.  Even if the soldier cities religious reasons, that he's doing it for "God and country" etc....

 

Most will say no.

 

However, the exact same dynamics that drove that soldier to the heroic action, also drives terrorists to die for their leader/cause.

 

So why is it that Religion is required for one thing but not the other, when it's the same dynamics? Why does the OUTCOME of the action, whether positive or negative, affect how much the person's beliefs drove the action?

 

Now of course this is an extreme example, but I've seen it with other things.

 

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

I listened to two interviews over the last few days with the writer of the 'Hidden Brain'. Very interesting, but only emphasising the complexity of our motivations, not quite refuting some of the clearer cases where the involvement of religion is rather tight, such as in the many crimes of that abominable institution the RCC.

 

 

Do you have a link? I've read the first book and am currently reading the second one.

 

 

 


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Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Hambydammit wrote: If I

Hambydammit wrote:

 If I have one major complaint with Alison's position, it's that she consistently uses what I call the "straight line fallacy."  It goes something like this:

DAMN! How the hell did this guy get to be so much smarter than I am???!!!!

 

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Yes Hamby, I've read that

Yes Hamby, I've read that entry and acknowledge it.

 

However your entries are mostly about wacky things religious people do, so that's why religion seems to inevitiably comes up in conversations. Come to think of it, I don't think you really ever wrote an entry about stupid things or evils or atrocities commited by non-religious people.

 

If you made a post about the wackyness of PETA or wackyness of political liberals or conservatives I think the conversation would be the same.

 

My usual pestering for evidence and of cause and effect, and to take into account other factors would still be applied and come out my mouth regardless of whether the action was commited by a religious person or not.

 

 

 


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 I can only assume from

 I can only assume from your response that you don't understand the distinction I just made, so I'll take it as read from now on when you make the same objection.

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Hambydammit wrote: I can

Hambydammit wrote:

 I can only assume from your response that you don't understand the distinction I just made, so I'll take it as read from now on when you make the same objection.

 

I find it rather amusing that I have constantly demostrated that I understand your position and the distinction, yet you constantly accuse me of not understanding.

 

Here it is[again] in my words:

 

While nasty things are in our nature, faith based belief system in which faith and intuition is valued over empirical and critical thinking allows these ills to be amplified to levels that they would not be able to reach sans the value of faith and intuition.

 

I've done it before and I did it again.

 

Now here's another funny thing: I don't think you understand mine, seeing as you simply gloss over my constant requests for you to state it.

 

 

 

 


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I take it as read...

that I require the secret of Hambydammit's immense intellect.

Hambydammit wrote:

 I can only assume from your response that you don't understand the distinction I just made, so I'll take it as read from now on when you make the same objection.

 

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: While

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

 

While nasty things are in our nature, faith based belief system in which faith and intuition is valued over empirical and critical thinking allows these ills to be amplified to levels that they would not be able to reach sans the value of faith and intuition.

 

yeah, that does seem to be hamby's position.

that would also be my position, with one key addendum: the aforementioned "value" can never be removed, eliminated, or neutralized to any degree even approaching what would be required to overcome the inertia of humanity's general ignorance.

in other words, irrationality, as a motivating factor (if not the motivating factor) behind human specific behavior, including and especially religion, will never be overcome.

ever.

 

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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I see that truly rational

I see that truly rational reasoning is something that humans are capable of, but only with significant effort and motivation and some training.

So yes, it is unlikely that we can make 'rational' thinking much more common than is already, there is little or no motivation for most people.

For most people, most of the time, their thinking processes are far more informal and intuitive/instinctive.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:I see that

BobSpence1 wrote:

I see that truly rational reasoning is something that humans are capable of, but only with significant effort and motivation and some training.

So yes, it is unlikely that we can make 'rational' thinking much more common than is already, there is little or no motivation for most people.

For most people, most of the time, their thinking processes are far more informal and intuitive/instinctive.

 

yes, bob, but my question has always been if there isn't a human specific behavior that is something more than just the combined sum of each human's individual behavior.  i honestly wonder if it would make any difference if every individual human could be properly trained and educated--if, when humans reach a certain level of mass, there isn't a deeper, hardwired instinct that takes over.  i know this is why some people champion elitism, but who knows if the elite themselves don't unwittingly serve the instinct?

i don't know, maybe it's because i'm in the middle of the foundation books right now.  asimov's idea of psycho-history really seems plausible.  unfortunately, what doesn't seem plausible is hari seldon.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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iwbiek wrote:BobSpence1

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I see that truly rational reasoning is something that humans are capable of, but only with significant effort and motivation and some training.

So yes, it is unlikely that we can make 'rational' thinking much more common than is already, there is little or no motivation for most people.

For most people, most of the time, their thinking processes are far more informal and intuitive/instinctive. 

yes, bob, but my question has always been if there isn't a human specific behavior that is something more than just the combined sum of each human's individual behavior.  i honestly wonder if it would make any difference if every individual human could be properly trained and educated--if, when humans reach a certain level of mass, there isn't a deeper, hardwired instinct that takes over.  i know this is why some people champion elitism, but who knows if the elite themselves don't unwittingly serve the instinct?

i don't know, maybe it's because i'm in the middle of the foundation books right now.  asimov's idea of psycho-history really seems plausible.  unfortunately, what doesn't seem plausible is hari seldon.

Sounds like what I would think of as social dynamics, the way a society of interacting individuals will manifest kinds of collective behaviour that are not apparent as simple 'mass' versions of individual responses.

The Wiki article seems to be an interesting starting point. 

Not sure if this exactly what you are thinking of.

I read those books quite a while ago, and I think he had some interesting ideas, although I don't quite agree with all of them.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:iwbiek

BobSpence1 wrote:

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I see that truly rational reasoning is something that humans are capable of, but only with significant effort and motivation and some training.

So yes, it is unlikely that we can make 'rational' thinking much more common than is already, there is little or no motivation for most people.

For most people, most of the time, their thinking processes are far more informal and intuitive/instinctive. 

yes, bob, but my question has always been if there isn't a human specific behavior that is something more than just the combined sum of each human's individual behavior.  i honestly wonder if it would make any difference if every individual human could be properly trained and educated--if, when humans reach a certain level of mass, there isn't a deeper, hardwired instinct that takes over.  i know this is why some people champion elitism, but who knows if the elite themselves don't unwittingly serve the instinct?

i don't know, maybe it's because i'm in the middle of the foundation books right now.  asimov's idea of psycho-history really seems plausible.  unfortunately, what doesn't seem plausible is hari seldon.

Sounds like what I would think of as social dynamics, the way a society of interacting individuals will manifest kinds of collective behaviour that are not apparent as simple 'mass' versions of individual responses.

The Wiki article seems to be an interesting starting point. 

Not sure if this exactly what you are thinking of.

I read those books quite a while ago, and I think he had some interesting ideas, although I don't quite agree with all of them.

more or less, asimov's psycho-history is the idea that social dynamics are mathematically predictible to a very low margin of error.  of course, it's a fictional device and i'm not sure of the plausibility of the mathematical angle (not sure asimov was either; he certainly didn't attempt to give any details) but the idea that human history is bound by social dynamics that are incontrovertible by any feasible human action has stuck with me.  oddly enough, it doesn't depress me.  i was more depressed by human stupidity when i was convinced it was willful.

now, as far as the foundation books go, asimov makes it quite clear that the carefully executed efforts of hari seldon to minimize the negative effects of social dynamics (characterized in the books by the fall of the first galactic empire) require an entire millennium of careful incubation, with little room for deviation if everything is to go according to plan, the plan being to reduce the inevitable 30,000-year period of galaxy-wide anarchy between the fall of the first empire to the rise of the second to a mere 1,000.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


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 Quote:While nasty things

 

Quote:
While nasty things are in our nature, faith based belief system in which faith and intuition is valued over empirical and critical thinking allows these ills to be amplified to levels that they would not be able to reach sans the value of faith and intuition.

No, Alison.  That's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about your take on causation and human psychology in general, and how I believe it's fundamentally flawed.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
While nasty things are in our nature, faith based belief system in which faith and intuition is valued over empirical and critical thinking allows these ills to be amplified to levels that they would not be able to reach sans the value of faith and intuition.

No, Alison.  That's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about your take on causation and human psychology in general, and how I believe it's fundamentally flawed.

 

 

That was the first part of your post in which you accuse me of thinking that you think it's religion and me not understanding your distinciton between religion and faith.


 

There's a bunch of problems I have with your line of thinking on causation and psychology:

 

 If my line of thinking was applied to anything else it wouldn't get so harsh a critisim.

 

If a feminist were to come in here and say that the portrayal of women in the media and the consumption of porn is the cause of US's high rape rate hence we should stop consuming porn and taking pictures of scantly clad women in order to lower the rape rate,  then would she not require evidence to back it up? Would "it's obvious" be a sufficent answer?


 

Second thing I can't wrap my head around is when peer review is required and when it's not. When I was taking science classes, I was told peer review was required for pretty much any and every claim. It may seem "obvious" that matter is solid and that there is no space between the particles, that wouldn't hold to peer review even if it's intuitivly true.

 

 

I mean if you don't need peer reviewed evidence why do feminists? Why do Theists?

 

 

You've read my previous post in this thread, was I wrong for getting rid of my God belief because of lack of peer reviewed evidence, even if I thought I was obvious and that the order mystery of the universe pointed to the direction of there being a God?

 

Of course you'll answer "no", but WHY? When I think holding on to it would have been doing the same thing you are?

 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:If a feminist were

 

Quote:
If a feminist were to come in here and say that the portrayal of women in the media and the consumption of porn is the cause of US's high rape rate hence we should stop consuming porn and taking pictures of scantly clad women in order to lower the rape rate,  then would she not require evidence to back it up? Would "it's obvious" be a sufficent answer?

In this case, no.  She'd require at least some reasonable case studies at a minimum.  However, if she came in and said, "America has particularly anti-woman attitudes and policies that pervade both the public and private sphere, and they are obviously linked to (or caused by) America's heritage built on patriarchal, misogynistic cultures and religions, I'd say, "Yes, you are right."

But more to the point, if I claimed that anti-feminist attitudes in America are negatively affected by the popular portrayal of all feminists as far left reactionaries, and a feminist came in and said, "NO!!!  NO NO NO!!!!  It's caused by group think!!!!" I'd tell her to piss up a rope and stop being pedantic.

Let me try again, Alison.  Nobody on my blog -- including Kevin -- has claimed that group-think is not a real psychological mechanism, or that it doesn't contribute to religious behaviors and beliefs.  But when you say, "NO! NO NO NO!!!  Religious behavior is not caused by religious belief.  It's caused by group-think," you're doing exactly the same thing you're accusing us of, AND you're just moving the goalposts.  Which is fine in some instances.  If we're talking about neurology, then we want to talk about regions of the brain and how they influence behavior.  If we're talking about sociology, we want to talk about cultural attitudes and how they influence behavior.  We can be talking about exactly the same thing, but if you and I are talking sociology and you switch it to neurology just to deny one level of causal connection, you're being disingenuous.

Even within sociology, we can talk about causality in multiple ways.  In fact, it's hard not to.  So when I say, "religious belief causes X behavior," I'm not saying that group-think doesn't cause it, nor am I suggesting that religious belief is a magical demon that exists without its own causal webs.  I'm simply picking one part of the web of causation and focusing on it.  Just like what you're doing by focusing on group dynamics.

 

 

 

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Hamby, from your previous

Hamby, from your previous post and your first one in the topic,I don't think you understand why I focus on the cognitive and group dynamics, I'll just assume that this is because I haven't expressed clearly.

 


 

You rightly say that we should actively act to change things. To do something against the Facism and ignorance that is getting around.

 

I think you're going about it in a way that just won't work and you'll be chasing your tail for far longer than me. Of course you seem to think the same of me.

 

Your example of whether you woke up because weren't tired or your cat jumped on your head was a bit of an exageration of my stance.

 

Anyway, you know why I think that by focusing on the group dynamics will help to the ills? Because that's how the ills are being spread.

 

If I told you to say and believe that one line is bigger than another when it's clearly not, you'd tell me to go suck on an egg. It won't work. But if I use group dynamics, it makes it far far easier to do it. In fact there's about a 67% chance you'll do it.

 

So the Facist Christian movement who wants to change Texas school books, or legislate out religious freedom are exploiting this either by design or by accident.

 

This happens everyday to everybody.

 

The perfect example of this is advertising. If I'm selling a product and have a good team of marketers and my competition doesn't, then it doesn't matter if my competition's product is superior. It doesn't matter if my competition offers better service and support and is cheaper.

 

What DOES matter is my advertising campaign.

 

Sure, some people will see through my clear techniques and buy the cheaper, better product, but the majority won't.

 

Of course you could mention that my competition has a better product and prove it, and some will be swayed, but if I have a good campiagn, it wouldn't matter. Even if I lose Joe to the competition, 10 new suckers will be waiting to put their money in my pocket.

 

Look at the emphasis on healthy eating in America, then look at America's waistsize. Hint: The people who advocate for healthy eating are doing it wrong.

 

Don't get me wrong. Letting people know the healthy benifits of eating, or a product is better, or that the arguments for God belief fall flat, is good and we should still do it, but that isn't enough.

 

 

So getting people to eat healthy and spreading the knowledge of nutrition is all well and good, but it will be overrun by KFC's multimillion dollar ad campaign and get people to eat a cucumber and then buy two pieces of bacon sandwiched between two deep fried chicken breasts.

In order to get people to eat healthy, we HAVE to counteract KFC, Burger Kind etc... ad campaign

 

So you see, while there is nothing wrong with critisizing religion, nothing wrong with pointing out barbaric ancient beliefs, if we can't counter act the group dynamics, we're chasing our tails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:Your example of

 

Quote:
Your example of whether you woke up because weren't tired or your cat jumped on your head was a bit of an exageration of my stance.

Not really.  It's an obvious example of how causation is a web, not linear.  I think it's safe to say that human actions in social contexts are at least as complex as why I get up in the morning.

Quote:
Anyway, you know why I think that by focusing on the group dynamics will help to the ills? Because that's how the ills are being spread.

Anyway, you know why I think that by focusing on the religious memes will help to the ills[sic!]? Because that's how the ills are being spread.

See?  They're two facets of the same phenomenon.  How do group dynamics work?  Groups propagate memes.  How do memes work?  They spread through groups.  How do memes succeed?  By resonating with individuals in groups.  How do memes fail?  By not resonating.  How does resonation happen?  By a combination of rational thought, emotional reaction, perception of group approval, peer pressure, subconscious evolutionary reasoning, and at least fifty other mechanisms.  How does resonation change?  By changing any of the combination of mechanisms that lead to resonation. 

Quote:
If I told you to say and believe that one line is bigger than another when it's clearly not, you'd tell me to go suck on an egg. It won't work. But if I use group dynamics, it makes it far far easier to do it. In fact there's about a 67% chance you'll do it.

You're speaking of course of the experiment where the subject distrusted his own senses when shown two lines of dissimilar length, but the accomplices in the experiment all said they were equal.  But remember, only about a third of the subjects distrusted their own senses enough to go with the group.  Might it be, Alison, that there's more to life than groups?

Quote:
The perfect example of this is advertising. If I'm selling a product and have a good team of marketers and my competition doesn't, then it doesn't matter if my competition's product is superior. It doesn't matter if my competition offers better service and support and is cheaper.

 

What DOES matter is my advertising campaign.

I think Axe is one of the best advertisers out there for men's grooming products.  Still, I read a personal ad just yesterday that said, "If you use Axe products, we'll probably not get along."  It seems that even the best advertising only works on SOME of the population.  Indeed, marketers spend millions of dollars figuring out how to say the right thing to the right people.  Just pumping a meme into a group isn't enough.  Group dynamics are dependent on individuals, and vice versa.  

Quote:
Of course you could mention that my competition has a better product and prove it, and some will be swayed, but if I have a good campiagn, it wouldn't matter. Even if I lose Joe to the competition, 10 new suckers will be waiting to put their money in my pocket.

Hmmm.  How much have you studied marketing?  Quality is a very big factor in some advertising, but not in others.  Do some googling about pizza.  Wasn't it um... Dominos... I think, that just had to do a huge marketing blitz because their product sucked so bad that people stopped eating there?  Their ad campaign was, "Hey, you were right.  Our product did suck.  We've made it a lot better."  Now, as to whether or not it's really better, time will tell, but you're speaking as if quality is not a factor at all, and that anyone can market anything to anybody if they just say the right magic words.

In the same way, memes that are irrational are subject to marketing pressure based on their irrationality.  That doesn't mean it'll work on everybody, but the rationality of a meme is part of its selling power.  

Quote:
Look at the emphasis on healthy eating in America, then look at America's waistsize. Hint: The people who advocate for healthy eating are doing it wrong.

See, this is precisely what I'm talking about.  You're thinking way, way too linearly.  I don't know about up in Canada, but here in the deep south, it's about 3 to 4 times as expensive to eat healthy as to eat unhealthy.  If you look at the healthiest people in America, they also happen to be the richest, for the most part.  All those pretty people at the gym?  They can afford $250 a month for personal trainers and diet coaches, and believe me, they are into healthy eating.  They know!

Similarly, many poor people know they're eating like shit, but they don't have a choice.  They simply don't have the money to eat better.

Is there good marketing for junk food?  Of course there is!  But there's also damn good marketing for healthy living.  If you've never watched it, check out the Travel Channel when they have food specials.  Do some research on the advertisers for those shows, and figure out the income level of the average viewer.  Notice that there are precious few ads for junk food?  Lots of fresh veggies and apples all over the place?  

So no, it's not just about advertising.  It's not just groups blindly following whoever has the nearest pretty sounding flute.  There are other factors, and you can't just base your entire argument on the success or failure of advertisers to put together a pretty package for any old group.

Quote:
Don't get me wrong. Letting people know the healthy benifits of eating, or a product is better, or that the arguments for God belief fall flat, is good and we should still do it, but that isn't enough.

No, it's certainly not enough.  Haven't you been reading my blog?  Didn't you see all the stuff I wrote about marketing atheism successfully?  I'm deeply concerned about image and successful meme reproduction, and I'd be a fool to discount the power of group dynamics while thinking about the message I want to convey.

Out of curiosity, Alison, have you noticed that my blog is not written for theists?  It says so in the sub-heading.  It's written for atheists.  And have you noticed that in the last year, I've gotten over a hundred thousand views?  I'm marketing well to my target audience.  I've got the second most followed atheist blog on all of facebook.  Do you think I'm just blindly stumbling into effective meme transmission, or do you think it's possible that I understand my audience well enough to know what it rallies around as a group?

Have you been bitching at me all this time because you think I'm trying to convert theists?  Really?  If that's what you think, then I can see why you've been so confused.  No, Alison.  I'm trying to mobilize atheists.  I'm trying to change the group dynamic of the United States from the Atheist Side of the Fence.  I want to create a cultural environment where atheists are seen as good, moral, fun people.  And the way to do that is to change the way atheists are presenting themselves -- or more importantly, NOT presenting themselves -- in public.

My approach is DEPENDENT ON GROUP DYNAMICS, Alison.

Quote:
So getting people to eat healthy and spreading the knowledge of nutrition is all well and good, but it will be overrun by KFC's multimillion dollar ad campaign and get people to eat a cucumber and then buy two pieces of bacon sandwiched between two deep fried chicken breasts.

In order to get people to eat healthy, we HAVE to counteract KFC, Burger Kind etc... ad campaign

Actually, a better first step would be to figure out how to raise the average income of the average KFC customer so he could afford to shop at Earth Fare instead. All the marketing in the world won't change poverty.  You see what I mean?  You're thinking in one dimension, and putting all your eggs in the group dynamic basket.  Then, when someone comes along and addresses a different aspect of the same problem, you bitch and shout them down for not having as good of an understanding of group dynamics as a cutesy little college girl from Canada who's never had a job in marketing or advertising, and has a couple of psych classes under her belt.

 

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Hamby, rather than go back

Hamby, rather than go back and forth accusing you of accusing me of accusing you what I accuse you of accusing me of I actually want to make sure we are on the same page.

 

Quote:

Have you been bitching at me all this time because you think I'm trying to convert theists?  Really?  If that's what you think, then I can see why you've been so confused.

 

No, I know you target atheists. But you target atheists to do the same thing you're doing which I don't think will get us far.

 

Of course group dynamics isn't everything. In Canada there is social pressure for my age group to drink, but I don't. In fact I said this in my post. That some people won't fall for the advertising trick.

 

Of course advertising isn't the ONLY reason why Americians are fat asses, and of course advertising isn't the only reason people buy products, but it's much easier to sell Scope mouth wash if you put out a commercial implying women will want to have sex with you if you use it.

 

Of course the quality matters, if I shell out $50 for a state of the art teeth cleaning kit and they send me 10 toothpicks, I'm going to be pissed regardless of how good their ads are the group pressure can only go so far.

 

 

So I do have things to ask to make sure we get on the same page:

 

 

 

 

1] Why do you think religious memes are a more powerful spreader of ills than group dynamics? And by group dynamics, I don't JUST mean groupthink.

 

The reason I think that group dynamics are a more powerful spreader is because of that study I posted a while back that showed when coalition [i.e group cohesion] was controlled for, non-devoted people showed the same level of ills that the devoted.

 

Not to mention Asch line experiments, the Robber's cave expirement etc...

 

Have you seen my topic about the video Person in a world of people?

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/20148

 

 

2] You accuse me of moving the goal post to steer the blame away from religion. Why do you think I do this?

 

 

3] Do you think I am ignoring the aspect of religious memes?

 

4] 

Hamby wrote:

I'm simply picking one part of the web of causation and focusing on it.  Just like what you're doing by focusing on group dynamics.

 

Ok, then why is your approach better than mine?

 

5] Do you really think I'm cutesy? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I came from the much shallower end of the gene pool, obviously

There's no better explanation!

Hambydammit wrote:

 Not really.  It's an obvious example of how causation is a web, not linear.  I think it's safe to say that human actions in social contexts are at least as complex as why I get up in the morning.

Anyway, you know why I think that by focusing on the religious memes will help to the ills[sic!]? Because that's how the ills are being spread.

See?  They're two facets of the same phenomenon.  How do group dynamics work?  Groups propagate memes.  How do memes work?  They spread through groups.  How do memes succeed?  By resonating with individuals in groups.  How do memes fail?  By not resonating.  How does resonation happen?  By a combination of rational thought, emotional reaction, perception of group approval, peer pressure, subconscious evolutionary reasoning, and at least fifty other mechanisms.  How does resonation change?  By changing any of the combination of mechanisms that lead to resonation. 

You're speaking of course of the experiment where the subject distrusted his own senses when shown two lines of dissimilar length, but the accomplices in the experiment all said they were equal.  But remember, only about a third of the subjects distrusted their own senses enough to go with the group.  Might it be, Alison, that there's more to life than groups?

I think Axe is one of the best advertisers out there for men's grooming products.  Still, I read a personal ad just yesterday that said, "If you use Axe products, we'll probably not get along."  It seems that even the best advertising only works on SOME of the population.  Indeed, marketers spend millions of dollars figuring out how to say the right thing to the right people.  Just pumping a meme into a group isn't enough.  Group dynamics are dependent on individuals, and vice versa.  

Hmmm.  How much have you studied marketing?  Quality is a very big factor in some advertising, but not in others.  Do some googling about pizza.  Wasn't it um... Dominos... I think, that just had to do a huge marketing blitz because their product sucked so bad that people stopped eating there?  Their ad campaign was, "Hey, you were right.  Our product did suck.  We've made it a lot better."  Now, as to whether or not it's really better, time will tell, but you're speaking as if quality is not a factor at all, and that anyone can market anything to anybody if they just say the right magic words.

In the same way, memes that are irrational are subject to marketing pressure based on their irrationality.  That doesn't mean it'll work on everybody, but the rationality of a meme is part of its selling power.  

See, this is precisely what I'm talking about.  You're thinking way, way too linearly.  I don't know about up in Canada, but here in the deep south, it's about 3 to 4 times as expensive to eat healthy as to eat unhealthy.  If you look at the healthiest people in America, they also happen to be the richest, for the most part.  All those pretty people at the gym?  They can afford $250 a month for personal trainers and diet coaches, and believe me, they are into healthy eating.  They know!

Similarly, many poor people know they're eating like shit, but they don't have a choice.  They simply don't have the money to eat better.

Is there good marketing for junk food?  Of course there is!  But there's also damn good marketing for healthy living.  If you've never watched it, check out the Travel Channel when they have food specials.  Do some research on the advertisers for those shows, and figure out the income level of the average viewer.  Notice that there are precious few ads for junk food?  Lots of fresh veggies and apples all over the place?  

So no, it's not just about advertising.  It's not just groups blindly following whoever has the nearest pretty sounding flute.  There are other factors, and you can't just base your entire argument on the success or failure of advertisers to put together a pretty package for any old group.

No, it's certainly not enough.  Haven't you been reading my blog?  Didn't you see all the stuff I wrote about marketing atheism successfully?  I'm deeply concerned about image and successful meme reproduction, and I'd be a fool to discount the power of group dynamics while thinking about the message I want to convey.

Out of curiosity, Alison, have you noticed that my blog is not written for theists?  It says so in the sub-heading.  It's written for atheists.  And have you noticed that in the last year, I've gotten over a hundred thousand views?  I'm marketing well to my target audience.  I've got the second most followed atheist blog on all of facebook.  Do you think I'm just blindly stumbling into effective meme transmission, or do you think it's possible that I understand my audience well enough to know what it rallies around as a group?

Have you been bitching at me all this time because you think I'm trying to convert theists?  Really?  If that's what you think, then I can see why you've been so confused.  No, Alison.  I'm trying to mobilize atheists.  I'm trying to change the group dynamic of the United States from the Atheist Side of the Fence.  I want to create a cultural environment where atheists are seen as good, moral, fun people.  And the way to do that is to change the way atheists are presenting themselves -- or more importantly, NOT presenting themselves -- in public.

My approach is DEPENDENT ON GROUP DYNAMICS, Alison.

Actually, a better first step would be to figure out how to raise the average income of the average KFC customer so he could afford to shop at Earth Fare instead. All the marketing in the world won't change poverty.  You see what I mean?  You're thinking in one dimension, and putting all your eggs in the group dynamic basket.  Then, when someone comes along and addresses a different aspect of the same problem, you bitch and shout them down for not having as good of an understanding of group dynamics as a cutesy little college girl from Canada who's never had a job in marketing or advertising, and has a couple of psych classes under her belt.

(insert half-assed attempt at being as luminously brilliant as Hammy is)

Actually, I think the prefrontal cortex offers a better explanation. If she's still in her early 20s (and I believe she is) she's going to jump into discussions and social events in general without giving either much in the way of forethought. She doesn't fully recognize the consequences of her actions, yet, particularly in the social arena - as you no doubt already understand. 

So it's study, party-hardy, "late night dormroom stoned philosophical babbling action", and Queen Bee mentality until she gets old enough to manage that little thing called "foresight".

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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I really don't 'get' what's

I really don't 'get' what's so hard to 'get', Cpt.

What's worse, ordinary organ failure, or a highly-contagious virus that causes organ failure? Yes. Organ failure is bad. We should study it and try to prevent it. Studying organ failure will even help us to prevent deaths related to the virus. But if we ignore -- or worse, minimize or deny -- the fact that the organ failure is spread by a virus, then we will only waste time and resources in endless 'fire fighting' mode trying to keep people from dying of organ failure, while the virus spreads and spreads.

What makes viruses dangerous is not any particular symptom or even any particular mechanism of pathology. What makes them dangerous is that they are contagious and they evolve.

If religions use group dynamics, sure that's interesting. It's worth studying. But more important is the study of the spread and evolution of religions themselves. This crucially includes studying how they evolve and adapt to exploit human irrationality. Irrational group dynamics are only one kind of irrationality.

What's worse, ordinary delusion, or a highly-contagious meme that causes delusion?

What's worse, ordinary irrational group dynamics, or a highly-contagious meme that causes irrational group dynamics?

The studies you tout do not address the question of whether religions themselves can be the source of irrational group dynamics. Even within a religion, there are many sects, and some sects may be more 'virulent' than others. Thus, overall, it may appear that a religion such as Islam isn't very virulent, because of the billion or so Muslims, only a tiny handful are terrorists. But of those that are terrorists, what they share are the ideas and concepts of particular interpretations of a holy book. And they spread those interpretations to others, and those interpretations mutate and sometimes form particularly virulent interpretations, and some of those particularly virulent interpretations exploit irrational human group dynamics, et voila, 9/11. If you just focus on the group dynamics, you will completely be at a loss to deal with the real problem, which is the contagion.

Whenever I see you go on your tirades, it brings to mind an image of someone with their fingers in their ears chanting, "No, no, it has nothing to do with religion! It has nothing to do with religion! It couldn't possibly have anything to do with religion! How could anyone think it has anything to do with religion?!" Maybe that's not what you intend, but that's how it looks.

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 Quote:1] Why do you think

 

Quote:
1] Why do you think religious memes are a more powerful spreader of ills than group dynamics? And by group dynamics, I don't JUST mean groupthink.

That's not a fair way to express what I think.  It's more fair to say that on a functional level, I think manipulating memes is a more direct and functional way of manipulating group dynamics.  Or, you could say that I believe memes are one of the most functional mediums through which group dynamics function.

To put it into context, we both know about the dopamine high people get when they do synchronized physical activity in groups, right?  It's a very strong dopamine rush, and gives people a strong sense of bonding, acceptance, and closeness.  Let's suppose you want a big group of people to do something, and you figure you're going to use group-think and herd-mentality to your advantage.  How do you go about accomplishing your end?  You come up with a sexy meme and get it going through your target audience -- but you include as part of the meme how sexy and awesome it is to do group things together.

Why do people go to church, sway back and forth with arms raised, and sing marching hymns together?  Because there's a meme out there telling them they have to go to church.  Because there's a meme out there that Jesus is the answer to their problems.  Etc... etc.  People don't go to church and THEN hear about Jesus.  They hear about Jesus and then go to church.  

In the case of child indoctrination, there's a longer line, but it still works out.  The child started in church, but the parents heard about Jesus and went to church, or their parents, or their parents.  Somewhere, the thing started with a meme.

Quote:
The reason I think that group dynamics are a more powerful spreader is because of that study I posted a while back that showed when coalition [i.e group cohesion] was controlled for, non-devoted people showed the same level of ills that the devoted.

And this is fine.  I've told you that repeatedly.  In the first place, this doesn't address how coalition is initiated or maintained.  (The answer certainly involves memes, don't you think?)  In the second place, as I've said before, demonstrating that religious devotion is not correlated to certain personal or societal ills is NOT the same as demonstrating that faith based reasoning did not facilitate or encourage the propagation of memes that created social cohesion and coalition in the first place.  Additionally, separating out-group prejudice (IIRC) from religious devotion is a far cry from releasing faith-based reasoning from culpability in any dysfunctional behavior whatsoever.  It's just cherry-picking a particular part of human nature.

Quote:
2] You accuse me of moving the goal post to steer the blame away from religion. Why do you think I do this?

Hell, I dunno.  You seem very attached to the idea that the memes involved in religion are secondary to the marching in formation.  I couldn't say why, other than that you've become a devotee of one or two researchers, and the idea appeals to you on some gut level.  In general, whenever someone can't see the forest for the trees, it's some sort of tunnel vision, but why you have tunnel vision, I dunno.

Quote:
3] Do you think I am ignoring the aspect of religious memes?

Not in so far as you shoot down anyone who attempts to combat religious memes with non-religious memes.  No, you're certainly not ignoring them.

Quote:
Ok, then why is your approach better than mine?

Mostly because it has an identifiable target, an identifiable approach, and a large library of memes that have proven attractive to a significant portion of the population.  By contrast, your method seems to be:  "Don't do what you're doing!!  Wave a magic wand and get people to march in unison to atheism!"

Speaking of which?  What is your approach?  What do you think my next blog post should be about, if I am to change the group dynamics of atheists in a way that makes you happy?

Quote:
5] Do you really think I'm cutesy? 

Yeah, you're pretty cutesy.  We'd never work out, though.  I'm not into conservatives Smiling

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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 Quote:Actually Bob, I may

 

Quote:
Actually Bob, I may have UNDERESTIMATED Mr. Brown's views

 

 

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/extremism-and-party-lines/#comment-2322

 

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

 

 

You make the arguments you make because you’re a sorry little apologist for mass murderers & sadists. It’s fine by you whatever the church does – afterall, it’s just ‘human nature’ at work anyway, right?

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things I like about Kevin is that he can't stop running his mouth. Now to be fair, I also get frustrated and infuriated and lots of posts, but I prefer to take a "15 minute breather break" before actually hitting the post button so I don't come off as angry and pissed even if I actually am.

 

This is what I was saying earlier: to you, this whole affair is just some intellectual pissing game. You weren't involved in the debate at all before the New Atheist movement reared it's head; you'd have had nothing to say regarding the abuse of women in the Persian Gulf, the mass rape of children in Ireland, the death squads in Iran, etc, if Sam Harris & Dan Dennet hadn't published their books - and once they did, you decided it was an excellent opportunity to be a contrarian.

I happily accept the accusation that I get heated and inflammatory when it comes to this subject. I wonder how anyone could not, unless they're the sort to find a little smirk creeping over their lips as they hear about the bodies piling up.

 

I've been having this dispute, just as an example, with a fellow on Facebook - Mr. Whitlock - who's brain has plainly been diseased beyond any hope of recovery by attending the late 'Dr.' Falwell's Liberty University. He's of the opinion that every illegal refugee from Mexico ought to be rounded-up and sent back to their country of origin to be murdered by the Los Zetas cartel, consequences be damned, statistics be damned, methods be damned; they're a 'menace', the cause of all of America's traffic woes, unemployment & the economic recession, and America will be able to retake it's former glory only if this cancer could be cut from it. Now, this is an issue where I am actually fighting very strongly, with very strong language, on the side of persecuted Christians - most Mexican refugees who have fled the teeth of the drug lords follow the patron of the Virgin Mary; 'Our Lady of Guadelupe, Queen of Mexico, Empress of the Americas'. The Los Zetas cartel, which currently has it's fingers around Mexico's throat, has allies within the fundamentalist evangelical criminal organizations in Texas, and have been systematically stamping-out the traditional Christian sect in their home country. Those fleeing the cartel rather than joining local cults that shell out protection money are hunted, even after passing the American border, by assassins contracted out through the Texas Syndicate - if they're caught by the border authorities and sent back whence they came, they're summarily executed by the local cartel authorities and our wonderfully PC media reports the deaths as part of the ongoing 'War on Drugs'. In reality, we're witnessing a very thorough and wretched sectarian religious cleansing in Latin America, and the consensus seems to be one of either obliviousness or apathy.

So I attempt to explain this geopolitical mess to Mr. Whitlock, and that he's sending his own Christian sheep to be torn apart in the hope of improving his own job security, and he throws-up his hands and says:

"America is the author of the three things you just mention [Liberty, Justice & Equality], but justice is for the just, and liberty should be confined to those who pay taxes and pledge allegiance to promote the liberty, and equality means we are all under the same law, and if the law is broken or abused then a person should be punished according to that law."

This from a Libertarian Randroid, who otherwise had espoused nothing but contempt for the establishment and the laws it created.

Why this bizarre compartmentalization? Because 'Dr.' Falwell's 'educational' institute teaches it's students that all illegal immigrants are scumbag criminals out to steal the jobs of good 'ol home grown Americans, and 'Dr.' Falwell must be correct, and must've been a great man, because he was an emissary for the ultimate judge & benchmark for morality - the deity Mr. Whitlock was indoctrinated into believing in.

There's an obvious subtext here of racism & dehumanization, but the credibility for those things that Mr. Whitlock's brain has latched onto is the religious authority held by one of his dear mentors. This isn't a matter of out group or in group dynamics; we're talking about a Christian throwing other Christians under the bus because his religious master told him to do it

These people don't care how Christian or not you are; they think that they've heard the One True Voice, and everyone else can just go to Hell.

 

So how does this fit Alison's world view, where Kevin is just some rabid theist-ist who hates every religious person on Earth, and the best method for defeating fundamentalism is some softball 'infiltration' technique combined with shrugging at the problem, voting in your local Conservative MP and playing some video games.

...Are you in Ms. Ambrogia's riding, by chance? Fascinating lady to talk with. 

 

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Kevin R Brown wrote:"Natasha

Kevin R Brown wrote:

"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940

by christ, i almost think i did something i never could manage to do in all my years of evangelicism: convert someone.

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I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
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Kevin R Brown wrote:This is

Kevin R Brown wrote:

This is what I was saying earlier: to you, this whole affair is just some intellectual pissing game. You weren't involved in the debate at all before the New Atheist movement reared it's head; you'd have had nothing to say regarding the abuse of women in the Persian Gulf, the mass rape of children in Ireland, the death squads in Iran, etc, if Sam Harris & Dan Dennet hadn't published their books - and once they did, you decided it was an excellent opportunity to be a contrarian.

I happily accept the accusation that I get heated and inflammatory when it comes to this subject. I wonder how anyone could not, unless they're the sort to find a little smirk creeping over their lips as they hear about the bodies piling up.

 

Kevin you don't even know me.

 

After 9/11 [I was 16] I fully supported the invasion of Afghanistan.

 

2 years later after the propoganda campaign against Iraq, I was so outraged from the atrocities of Hussein, I wanted Canada to be at the front lines there too. But I did realize the patently wrong claims of WMDs and also realized that Canadian and Americian troops are spread thin in Afghanistan.

 

In fact, it was the reason I actually joined the military [reserve force] in the first place [I left a couple years ago]. I wanted to go to Afghanistan, however my parents were REALLY hesitant to let me put my name in and kept pestering my about school so I didn't, and frankly I regret it.

 

However after I left, and since I'm done school, I'm looking to re-join and go there before we pull in December 2012.

 

May I mention is that I joined [and left] well before I even knew who Hitchens/Harris/Dawkins/Dennet was? Well before I heard of the atheist movement? Well before I was actually an atheist?

 

So no. I'm not standing idealy by while these things are happening here and overseas.

 

You see Kevin, I'm not planning on sitting around hoping these people read my posts on Hamby's blog.

 

But since you missed the entire point of the topic let me make it clear.

 

 

We must try our best to put emotions aside and actually work to try and fix it though sometimes it is very difficult.

 

Firefighters don't run around outraged and just watch with emotion when they see a daycare on fire and there's children inside [even though that would most likely be my reaction].  They put aside their emotions and actually do something about it. If they just followed their emotions, they would just run in there after they got out of the truck rather than making sure it's safe for them, or putting on the safety gear. Because they know if they follow their emotions, it would do more harm than good.

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:by christ, i almost

 

Quote:
by christ, i almost think i did something i never could manage to do in all my years of evangelicism: convert someone. 

As an avid fan of good literature, I'm afraid I could not help myself. After I started reading Trotsky I couldn't stop; it's actually rebooted my interest in writing as well as considerably mutated my political paradigm.

Quote:
In fact, it was the reason I actually joined the military [reserve force] in the first place [I left a couple years ago]. I wanted to go to Afghanistan, however my parents were REALLY hesitant to let me put my name in and kept pestering my about school so I didn't, and frankly I regret it.

 

However after I left, and since I'm done school, I'm looking to re-join and go there before we pull in December 2012.

I would not go to Afghanistan with a gun in hand ready to be a hero were I you, but that's your call. The conventional military campaigns in the Persian Gulf have been a disaster; there's no easily identifiable infrastructure to attack, no supply lines to sever, not even a uniform enemy front to attack. Just an ocean of improvised bombs & brainwashed teenagers. 

We can't possibly hope to 'win' any kind of confrontation with an enemy that feeds off of whatever violence they are met with by using traditional military tactics.

I was optimistic about the situation in South Waziristan for quite a while, when it appeared that we'd caught the Taliban in a pincher; but they've now quite clearly infiltrated the Karzai government through drug trade clout, with the stragglers in no man's land left to die as a distraction. It's not like the fighting  of fascists in Europe, when there were Waffen SS & Panzer divisions controlled by a centralized command structure that we could encircle - command & control is much more localized among the Islamic fascists, enlistees are blended right in with civilians, training & manufacturing facilities are made portable... 

The good 'ol boy attitude & methods simply aren't effective anymore. 

We need a fundamental, global revolution - a new enlightenment - so that Al Qaeda is bled out of it's manpower (it's real edge) and the concept itself is stamped-out. 

 

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Kevin R Brown wrote:We need

Kevin R Brown wrote:

We need a fundamental, global revolution - a new enlightenment - so that Al Qaeda is bled out of it's manpower (it's real edge) and the concept itself is stamped-out.

 

So in other words Kevin, we need rich empirical research into the psychology of terrorism, so we can best determine why they do and how they recruit in order to stop them?

 

Isn't this what I've been insisting on the whole time?

 

 

 


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 Quote:So in other words

 

Quote:
So in other words Kevin, we need rich empirical research into the psychology of terrorism, so we can best determine why they do and how they recruit in order to stop them?

 

Isn't this what I've been insisting on the whole time?

 

No, that's not what I meant. That's not even a real plan; at best, you'd end up with information that would be of use only to a reprehensible espionage agency like the CIA - we don't need more of that kind of 'help'.

We need a contemporary analogue to old Philadelphia within the Persian Gulf - a place that is a magnet for brilliant & talented people as well as a vehicle for their ideas. I think Kurdistan might be a great candidate for such a place, though it won't be able to blossom until, at the very least, the incompetent American occupation of Iraq has ended. Tehran might also be a candidate were the revolutionaries there to succeed in toppling the government without falling prey to the temptress that's spoiled the victory of so many revolutions in the past; of course, overcoming Ahmedinejad's well equipped thugs would require a degree of organization that doesn't currently exist among the insurgents as well as some military aid that I don't think will be forthcoming (Benjamin Netanyahu is such a goon & a fool; ironic that he's so paranoid about protecting Jarusalem that he has the IDF concentrated around the perimeter of his country and is missing an opportunity to put down perhaps the largest threat to the Jewish people in the Persian Gulf).

Once we have a throbbing platform for people who have thrown off the chain & culled the living flower, al Qaeda - the very concept itself - will be seeing it's final days. 

 

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


Blake
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I can see both sides here,

I can see both sides here, and it seems to be that there's quite a bit of miscommunication going on.

 

You could call me a bit of a coward in conversations- I do come off strong, but I'll only usually speak up when there's something I can prove (that is, I'll only argue when I'm obviously correct.

 

This subject- well, there's really no absolute proof on either side- only nebulous probabilities, and perhaps some ample evidence... but proof... not so much.

 

I'll speak to the impossibility of gods.  I'll speak to the self-evident nature of the many worlds interpretation.  I'll underscore the illogical idiocy of moral absolutism, and any philosophy that holds that humans are fundamentally different in some way to all other creatures.

 

Whether religion is ultimately good or bad for society?  Well... there are a bunch of correlations- and certainly quite a bit of causation too... but the evidence isn't absolutely irrefutable.  I used to argue about this more, but when it comes down it it, I don't like such hard fights- and I don't like being backed into a corner, which is possible in such a discussion.

I suspect that religion is, over all, bad for society, but I could be wrong.

 

 

It *could* be that something else is causing these aggressive actions and causing religion.  Suicide bombing may be caused by polygamy, which leads to a bunch of horny guys who can't get laid (yes... because of social conservatism... which isn't just caused by religion).  We can see that religion doesn't cause polygamy- more often than not, it prohibits polygamy (which is likely the natural state of humans, observing other great apes)-- Islam (along with some other religions) just happens to be permissive on this subject.

Now then, of course we can go into counter-examples, like married men who martyr themselves, and even women (though these are less common than the single men)- some of these potentially being driven by anger over what they see as American Imperialism, and some of the things our troops have been doing over there.

It's hard to investigate the deepest reaches of human motivation properly, and say for sure why people are doing things; suggestions for other motivations aren't all just ad-hoc.

 

Anyway, how could this be made worse without religion?

 

 

Well, in particular, religion has been an organizing force, and atheism would be dis-organizing.  The fact of these extremists organizing themselves provides venues for negotiation, and actually stabilizes the actions in a way that is politically conscious.

Of course, completely disorganizing would make it less potent at the same time (fizzling out with lack of provocation)- it would depend on exactly where it went.  The probability is that the disorganization would reduce potency more than negotiation is likely to help us.

 

At the same time, religion is a force of ignorance, and in particular makes the adherents ignorant of certain measures of scientific knowledge that they find in conflict with their beliefs- particularly biochemistry and evolution- which they could, without those beliefs enforcing their ignorance, make use of in their terroristic capacity.  That is, dismissing the ignorance would risk making them more effective.  These people have patience and means to breed micro-organisms; if they believed in evolution and god ahold of some antibiotics, how fucked would we be?

We could hope that, at the same time, the hate would also disappear with the new found potential for education (or at least be mitigated).  And arguably, without the organizing force, they would no longer have the collective means to manufacture biological threats on that scale.

 

Moderate imams are speaking out against terrorism, and I don't think we have any reliable estimates regarding how many people have turned away from it due to this.  While there may be less motivation and driving force, the mitigating force of these moderates would be completely lost without the religion.  That is, now that the political tide is turning, the entire religion is changing its mind, which is forcing individuals to change their minds with it.

 

We could hope that, similar to the last counter-note, that the hate has a majorly religious origin, and that without the religion, it would vanish.  I would bet on this, but I wouldn't call it an absolute certainty.

 

 

There's an astronomically overwhelming possibility that pushing a magic button that made everybody atheist would resolve this conflict... and that the resultant frustration would be redirected into something less harmful to us, like simple street gangs (the equivalent natural even to Chimps).

There is an overwhelming probability that religion is, overall, bad for society- and it does need to be ended anywhere we can reasonably do so.

 

However, there is no such magic button, and the process of obliterating their religion itself might piss them off more than help in the current context.  We might, if we identified other causes, simply be able to pressure the country into, for example, ending polygamy, and solve this particular problem at a more fundamental level.  Remember that all actions have opportunity costs.

 

Atheism itself is very unlikely to hurt (though the means by which we produce it could stir hornets' nests), and religion might channel frustration into more dangerous causes, and cause people to be bigoted and hateful even without so much frustration in ways that don't cause them as much inconvenience as martyrdom (like voting against giving other people fundamental human rights)- but there also might be more core elements of this that are more easily addressed.

 

 

I suspect, perhaps, this might be what our good skipper Ananas Comosus is suggesting.  Am I very off bat here?