Intelligence in Nature by Jeremy Narby

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Intelligence in Nature by Jeremy Narby

I bought Intelligence in Nature by Jeremy Narby because I'm interested in studies of intelligence in non-human species. 

I just made it to chapter two and I'm a little uncomfortable.  Some of Narby's conclusions smack of New Age-ism.  What's worse, he defines himself as an agnostic because, he says, both the idea of a personal god and atheism require faith.  He also says evolution is driven by "chance."

Undecided

Now, I don't want to make the same mistake theists make when they come to this site, namely presuming I know more than I do.  But excuse me...shouldn't a PhD know that atheism does not require faith and the evolution is not driven by chance?  I wanted to sit down and type an e-mail to him explaining natural selection and suggesting he read The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins.  I have a feeling he already knows this argument and has received a Brazilian® e-mails telling him he is wrong.

I guess I could read the rest of the book and see if he knows something I don't, but Dawkins has elegantly explained natural selection as being the opposite of chance.  I can't imagine anyone defeating that argument. 

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Unfortunately newage

Unfortunately newage (rhymes with sewage) has largely been developed by some of the intellectual elite (i.e. hippies), so education and even expertise do not preclude succumbing to its wiles (note: not referring to Andrew Wiles).

Also, I love your choice of numerical exagerrative.


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Yiab wrote:

Yiab wrote:

 

Also, I love your choice of numerical exagerrative.

Thanks. I got it from that Bush joke that made the rounds awhile back. It became ubiquitous, so I decided to assimilate it into the vernacular of Naminori-Land.

There are a few quotes in the book I want to share when I get some time to write them up. What concerns me is that the author is viewed as a scientist. He claims Western scientists have confirmed some of the same "truths" professed by shamans. It all sounds rather suspect to me.

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I just want to point out

I just want to point out that it depends on how he is defining atheism (obviously).

I don't dribble in this weak/strong atheist bullshit, I define atheism not as a lack of belief in God, but as a belief in a lack of God. God has not been disproven, and by my definition atheism then requires faith--perhaps not so much as a theist, though.


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
I just want to point out that it depends on how he is defining atheism (obviously).

I don't dribble in this weak/strong atheist bullshit, I define atheism not as a lack of belief in God, but as a belief in a lack of God. God has not been disproven, and by my definition atheism then requires faith--perhaps not so much as a theist, though.

So, do you have faith Allah does not exist? Do you have faith Vishnu does not exist? Do you have faith Ganesh does not exist? Do you have faith the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist? If so, you have an awful lot of faith.

Also, it really isn't a good idea to redefine words to fit your own meaning. It's actually an informal logical fallacy: Fallacy of Redefinition

The "Freethinking Anonymous" forum is for freethinkers only. If, as I suspect, you are a theist who would like to debate, there are other venues on this forum.

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Yes, I have faith Allah,

Yes, I have faith Allah, Vishnu, and Ganesh, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster don't exist. I am a man of great faith.

You may want to look at the actual fallacy. You're make the assumption I'm typing in English, and am using English words, when I'm not. I 'm not redefining any words. No fallacy has been commited.

Am I not a free thinker? And no, your suspicions are wrong, I'm an atheist.


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:

You may want to look at the actual fallacy. You're make the assumption I'm typing in English, and am using English words, when I'm not.

Maybe you aren't using English because what you said makes absolutely no sense to me.

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What do you need

What do you need clarification on?


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
What do you need clarification on?

Oh, just this part:

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:

Yes, I have faith Allah, Vishnu, and Ganesh, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster don't exist. I am a man of great faith.

You may want to look at the actual fallacy. You're make the assumption I'm typing in English, and am using English words, when I'm not. I 'm not redefining any words. No fallacy has been commited.

Am I not a free thinker? And no, your suspicions are wrong, I'm an atheist.

 

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Quote: inkwellmusingsdotcom

Quote:
inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:

What do you need clarification on?

Oh, just this part:

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:

Yes, I have faith Allah, Vishnu, and Ganesh, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster don't exist. I am a man of great faith.

You may want to look at the actual fallacy. You're make the assumption I'm typing in English, and am using English words, when I'm not. I 'm not redefining any words. No fallacy has been commited.

Am I not a free thinker? And no, your suspicions are wrong, I'm an atheist.

I think that he's actually making the fallacy of ad ignorantium as opposed to the fallacy of redefinition. I think you're trying to say that because we cannot disprove god/gods existence, that therefore it requires a leap of faith if you will to have a non-belief in god. If you read the God Delusion (also by Dawkins), he says that reasonable atheists do not know that god does not exist, they simply say that the evidence is so overwhelming against god that they believe very strongly that god does not exist. It is possible to be without belief as an atheism without having any degree of faith.

In regards to the fallacy of redefinition, it would only be a fallacy if he had an original argument with a set definition, which he then changed because you came up with an argument that defeated his original argument. Erm...thats kinda confusing, isn't it?
1.he makes an argument with a definition
2.you defeat that argument
3.he says that he is not in fact defeated by changing his definition

Hope that's cleared things up.

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Yeah, there's a beautiful

Yeah, there's a beautiful subtlety in the logical fallacies being discussed here, imo...

fallacy of redefinition:

Theist: God is omnipotent.  He can do anything.

Atheist: He obviously can't make a married bachelor, so he's not omnipotent.

Theist: He is.  He can do anything logically possible.

Here, the theist has changed the definition to avoid losing the debate.

This is subtlely different than this argument:

Theist: Scientists use faith to come to logical conclusions, because they don't always know every single piece of information in a given experiment/theory/etc...

Atheist: Your statement is incorrect because you are using the wrong definition of faith.  What you describe is faith in a colloquial sense, meaning "reasonable belief based on past experience."  Theological faith is "belief despite contrary evidence."

Here, the theist has not redefined a word, he is simply using an incorrect definition, so his premise is invalid.  His argument actually states the conclusion first.  It is more proper to say:

Scientists don't always know all the information.

Faith is defined as "X"

Therefore, scientists have faith.

The reason you won't see this, of course, is that the theist would be forced into a single usage of faith, and wouldn't be able to commit the fallacy of redefinition later when things start going south.

 

 

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

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Iruka Naminori wrote:But

Iruka Naminori wrote:
But excuse me...shouldn't a PhD know that atheism does not require faith and the evolution is not driven by chance?

The idea that "this guy has PhD, shouldn't he know X, Y, and Z" is a major misunderstanding of what a PhD is. A PhD basically means that you can do original research in your field. Sometimes completing a PhD has to do more with luck and hard work than it has to do with intelligence. It doesn't make you an expert on any matter whatsoever, just that of your field.

I'm not dissing PhDs, but our society has a big misconception about what they are.


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Pragmatic Pat

Pragmatic Pat wrote:
Quote:
inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote: What do you need clarification on? Oh, just this part: inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote: Yes, I have faith Allah, Vishnu, and Ganesh, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster don't exist. I am a man of great faith. You may want to look at the actual fallacy. You're make the assumption I'm typing in English, and am using English words, when I'm not. I 'm not redefining any words. No fallacy has been commited. Am I not a free thinker? And no, your suspicions are wrong, I'm an atheist.
I think that he's actually making the fallacy of ad ignorantium as opposed to the fallacy of redefinition. I think you're trying to say that because we cannot disprove god/gods existence, that therefore it requires a leap of faith if you will to have a non-belief in god. If you read the God Delusion (also by Dawkins), he says that reasonable atheists do not know that god does not exist, they simply say that the evidence is so overwhelming against god that they believe very strongly that god does not exist. It is possible to be without belief as an atheism without having any degree of faith. In regards to the fallacy of redefinition, it would only be a fallacy if he had an original argument with a set definition, which he then changed because you came up with an argument that defeated his original argument. Erm...thats kinda confusing, isn't it? 1.he makes an argument with a definition 2.you defeat that argument 3.he says that he is not in fact defeated by changing his definition Hope that's cleared things up.


No, because I am not saying that God does not exist. I'm saying that I don't believe God exists. The argument from ignorance relies on me claiming the validitity of one argument due to the unproven state of the other. I'm saying that both are unproven, but that I don't believe God exists, or it is unreasonable to act in a way such that he does.


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Pragmatic Pat wrote: In

Pragmatic Pat wrote:
In regards to the fallacy of redefinition, it would only be a fallacy if he had an original argument with a set definition, which he then changed because you came up with an argument that defeated his original argument. Erm...thats kinda confusing, isn't it? 1.he makes an argument with a definition 2.you defeat that argument 3.he says that he is not in fact defeated by changing his definition Hope that's cleared things up.

Yes, thank you.  I was raised by fundies, so I'm still learning about logic and logical fallacies.  Actually, after posting, I wondered about this very thing which means I might be learning something.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Yeah,

Hambydammit wrote:

Yeah, there's a beautiful subtlety in the logical fallacies being discussed here, imo...

fallacy of redefinition:

Theist: God is omnipotent. He can do anything.

Atheist: He obviously can't make a married bachelor, so he's not omnipotent.

Theist: He is. He can do anything logically possible.

Here, the theist has changed the definition to avoid losing the debate.

This is subtlely different than this argument:

Theist: Scientists use faith to come to logical conclusions, because they don't always know every single piece of information in a given experiment/theory/etc...

Atheist: Your statement is incorrect because you are using the wrong definition of faith. What you describe is faith in a colloquial sense, meaning "reasonable belief based on past experience." Theological faith is "belief despite contrary evidence."

Here, the theist has not redefined a word, he is simply using an incorrect definition, so his premise is invalid. His argument actually states the conclusion first. It is more proper to say:

Scientists don't always know all the information.

Faith is defined as "X"

Therefore, scientists have faith.

The reason you won't see this, of course, is that the theist would be forced into a single usage of faith, and wouldn't be able to commit the fallacy of redefinition later when things start going south. 

Okay, this helps, too.  Thanks. 

So our friend ink is perhaps using an invalid definition rather than committing a logical fallacy.  

A question: if someone can prove his/her definition has more validity, what happens then?  

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The definition would be

The definition would be invalid only if I were subscribing to the definitions and laws of the English language. I will define a word any way I want to express any idea I want.


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:

No, because I am not saying that God does not exist. I'm saying that I don't believe God exists. The argument from ignorance relies on me claiming the validitity of one argument due to the unproven state of the other. I'm saying that both are unproven, but that I don't believe God exists, or it is unreasonable to act in a way such that he does.

Okay, this makes sense.  However, you will have to convince me (and a whole lot of other people) that your definition of atheism is more valid than the one currently in use.  

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inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
The definition would be invalid only if I were subscribing to the definitions and laws of the English language. I will define a word any way I want to express any idea I want.

I don't believe this is acceptable when debating.  Also, it's a bit disingenous.  Okay, it's more than a bit disingenous.  What if I want to redefine the word logic to mean anything I want it to mean?  By doing so, I could actually prove the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  He's my Home-Noodle.  

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inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
The definition would be invalid only if I were subscribing to the definitions and laws of the English language. I will define a word any way I want to express any idea I want.

We understand our words because we have assigned them meaning.  Without meaning, words are useless.  What you're saying makes no sense and also makes it impossible to converse with you.

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What if? Be my guest.

Quote:
I don't believe this is acceptable when debating. Also, it's a bit disingenous. Okay, it's more than a bit disingenous. What if I want to redefine the word logic to mean anything I want it to mean? By doing so, I could actually prove the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He's my Home-Noodle.


What if? Be my guest. No, you can't prove the existence of the FSM this way seeing as you have changed the definition of the word logic to mean something other than logic.

I have defined atheism so you know what I mean when I am saying that I am an atheist. As for your previous post, I need not prove that my definition is any more valid than any other definition. To the person who said that it is impossible to converse with me, I say: and yet here we are, conversing. If what I'm saying doesn't make sense why are you even bothering to argue me? Also, you extend my point ever further. We give meanings to words, words do not have inherent meanings. I give meanings to my words, you give meanings to your words. I do not dip into some mystical well of ideas.


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
Quote:
I don't believe this is acceptable when debating. Also, it's a bit disingenous. Okay, it's more than a bit disingenous. What if I want to redefine the word logic to mean anything I want it to mean? By doing so, I could actually prove the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He's my Home-Noodle.


What if? Be my guest. No, you can't prove the existence of the FSM this way seeing as you have changed the definition of the word logic to mean something other than logic.

I have defined atheism so you know what I mean when I am saying that I am an atheist. As for your previous post, I need not prove that my definition is any more valid than any other definition. To the person who said that it is impossible to converse with me, I say: and yet here we are, conversing. If what I'm saying doesn't make sense why are you even bothering to argue me? Also, you extend my point ever further. We give meanings to words, words do not have inherent meanings. I give meanings to my words, you give meanings to your words. I do not dip into some mystical well of ideas.

You misinterpret what I was saying.  Our words are assigned meaning culturally, not individually.  If I say hello, you know what I'm saying because you're following the definitions and laws of the English language.  However, you suggest that you don't follow the definitions and laws of the English language and that you intend to define words in any way you see fit.  If that's the case, how do I know when you say 'cookie' you actually mean Earth?  If you are following your own definitions and laws of language, than the rest of us aren't privy to your definitions.

 

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You don't know. And I could

You may get your definitions from a culture-pool, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have to. When you say "hello", I guess what you mean because I assume you are following the same pattern that I have seen from other people saying "hello" (ie you are greeting me). You don't know that I mean 'earth' when I say 'cookie'. And I could even be lying to you. I can't even know that you are following the standard English definitions, or getting your definitions culturally. You may say you are, but you too, could be lying.


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Inkwell, your demarcation of

Inkwell, your demarcation of atheism is in conflict. First you said:

Inkwell wrote:
I don't dribble in this weak/strong atheist bullshit, I define atheism not as a lack of belief in God, but as a belief in a lack of God.


Now you're saying:

Inkwell wrote:
No, because I am not saying that God does not exist. I'm saying that I don't believe God exists.


You rigidly define atheism "as a belief in a lack of God," meaning that according to your definition atheists believe that God does not exist.

You then say that you "don't believe God exists," meaning that you lack the belief, which would mean that you are not an atheist by your own definition.

Hence the confusion.

Also...

Inkwell wrote:
The definition would be invalid only if I were subscribing to the definitions and laws of the English language. I will define a word any way I want to express any idea I want.


pariahjane wrote:
Our words are assigned meaning culturally, not individually. If I say hello, you know what I'm saying because you're following the definitions and laws of the English language. However, you suggest that you don't follow the definitions and laws of the English language and that you intend to define words in any way you see fit. If that's the case, how do I know when you say 'cookie' you actually mean Earth? If you are following your own definitions and laws of language, than the rest of us aren't privy to your definitions.


Inkwell wrote:
You may get your definitions from a culture-pool, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have to. When you say "hello", I guess what you mean because I assume you are following the same pattern that I have seen from other people saying "hello" (ie you are greeting me).


In other words: you get your word meanings from a "culture-pool."


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Laker-taker wrote:

Laker-taker wrote:
Inkwell, your demarcation of atheism is in conflict. First you said:

Inkwell wrote:
I don't dribble in this weak/strong atheist bullshit, I define atheism not as a lack of belief in God, but as a belief in a lack of God.


Now you're saying:

Inkwell wrote:
No, because I am not saying that God does not exist. I'm saying that I don't believe God exists.


You rigidly define atheism "as a belief in a lack of God," meaning that according to your definition atheists believe that God does not exist.

You then say that you "don't believe God exists," meaning that you lack the belief, which would mean that you are not an atheist by your own definition.

Hence the confusion.

Also...

Inkwell wrote:
The definition would be invalid only if I were subscribing to the definitions and laws of the English language. I will define a word any way I want to express any idea I want.


pariahjane wrote:
Our words are assigned meaning culturally, not individually. If I say hello, you know what I'm saying because you're following the definitions and laws of the English language. However, you suggest that you don't follow the definitions and laws of the English language and that you intend to define words in any way you see fit. If that's the case, how do I know when you say 'cookie' you actually mean Earth? If you are following your own definitions and laws of language, than the rest of us aren't privy to your definitions.


Inkwell wrote:
You may get your definitions from a culture-pool, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have to. When you say "hello", I guess what you mean because I assume you are following the same pattern that I have seen from other people saying "hello" (ie you are greeting me).


In other words: you get your word meanings from a "culture-pool."


Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't see how I'm not an atheist by my own definition. I do not believe in God, and I have a belief that God does not exist.

The reason I do this is to not include babies/trees/cats in the same category as me when I say 'atheist.'

As for the culture-pool statement, yes, I am taking it from a culture-pool, however this doesn't mean I need to take all words from the pool, or that I haven't the right or ability to change them however I please in my head.

Anyways, we've crapped this thread up a lot. The point I am making is that I can define a word any way I want to, and you can say that it is wrong, and it will be if I were intending the word to be used in the same way that you are using it--which I'm not, by changing the definition. It is not a fallacy to be creative and individual with my language; I'll very well please to say pie and mean 'crackers' and make up words like zimbabababa whenever I want.


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't see how I'm not an atheist by my own definition. I do not believe in God, and I have a belief that God does not exist.

The reason I do this is to not include babies/trees/cats in the same category as me when I say 'atheist.'

I'll get back to this tomorrow.

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:
Anyways, we've crapped this thread up a lot.

Here is a better thread for the topic. I'll get back to you there.


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inkwellmusingsdotcom

inkwellmusingsdotcom wrote:

Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't see how I'm not an atheist by my own definition. I do not believe in God, and I have a belief that God does not exist.

The reason I do this is to not include babies/trees/cats in the same category as me when I say 'atheist.'

As for the culture-pool statement, yes, I am taking it from a culture-pool, however this doesn't mean I need to take all words from the pool, or that I haven't the right or ability to change them however I please in my head.

Anyways, we've crapped this thread up a lot. The point I am making is that I can define a word any way I want to, and you can say that it is wrong, and it will be if I were intending the word to be used in the same way that you are using it--which I'm not, by changing the definition. It is not a fallacy to be creative and individual with my language; I'll very well please to say pie and mean 'crackers' and make up words like zimbabababa whenever I want.

I don't think that this idea of assigning whatever meaning to words that you want will work. Even if you explain your definition of the word people wont be able to be certain that they understand it because you weren't bound by the commonly held meanings of the words in your definition.

So I think pariahjane was right it is literally pointless to talk to someone who does that. I wonder what Chaoslord2004 has to say about this.

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Gauche wrote: I don't

Gauche wrote:


I don't think that this idea of assigning whatever meaning to words that you want will work. Even if you explain your definition of the word people wont be able to be certain that they understand it because you weren't bound by the commonly held meanings of the words in your definition.

So I think pariahjane was right it is literally pointless to talk to someone who does that. I wonder what Chaoslord2004 has to say about this.

 

Thank you! This is communication 101. We have these cultural rules so there is no break down of communication. If everyone went around defining their own words, we'd get absolutely no where.

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