Archive for the 'Free Thought' Category

01
Nov
16

The Five Kinds of Trump Voter

I am not involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign.  I did not donate to her election fund nor did I vote for her in the primaries.  That said, I will be voting for her next week because as conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan succinctly stated, “it is the only adult thing to do.”  If you believe Donald Trump would run the country better than Hillary Clinton (who just happens to be, in terms of resume, the most qualified person to ever seek the American presidency) at least one of the following things must be true:

1. You are grossly uninformed – Have you not been paying attention at all over the past two years? Have you not heard the things Trump has said and the positions he has taken on the most important issues of our time? Has it not been revealed to you that his “business success,” upon which he bases his qualifications, is an exaggeration of monumental proportions? Have you not heard him try to speak in public? Have you not seen him having trouble completing a coherent sentence? Is your scoreboard broken? Sure, Hillary used a personal email server during her time as Secretary of State, but have you not read or heard about the sleazy dirtball shit that Trump has done for decades? Are you not at all curious as to why he won’t release his tax returns?

Rather than doing the “hard work” that comes with acquiring knowledge to make an informed decision, you have clearly bought into the fallacy of false equivalence being sold by the Trump campaign.  You are a testament to the effectiveness of propaganda on the low information voter.

2. You are a sexist pig – No matter how much more qualified a woman is than her male opponent, she’s still a woman. You demand perfection from Clinton simply because she doesn’t have a penis, but the totality of Trump’s fuckery can simply be written off as part of the game. If this is you, take your bullshit worldview and your suppressed homosexual tendencies, back to the Stone Age.

3. You are an idiot – You have watched too much “reality” television and have degraded your intelligence to the point that you can’t appreciate the significance of this contest (this isn’t to see who will be voted off the island or who gets the girl.) Your ignorance and lack of cognitive reasoning ability combined with your apathy, is a civic nightmare. Your involvement in any part of the political process makes a case for requiring citizens to pass a civics exam before entering a voting booth. If you had any sense at all you would abstain from the entire process on the grounds that you are incapable of rendering a sound decision, but that would require thoughtfulness… And as I stated, you are an idiot.

4. You vote Republican no matter what – You are “all in” with the GOP. Despite the party’s descent into oblivion, you are “ride or die.” In almost any other scenario I can think of, I could appreciate that for what it’s worth. Not here though… This is one time you should be thinking for yourself. Unfortunately, many of you have forgotten how to do so.

5. You are just like Donald Trump – You are Biff from “Back to the Future.” You were a bad motherfucker in high school only to find out that the nerds you used to beat up are the ones who end up running the show. The only difference between you and Trump is that you didn’t inherit a ton of money from your Dad. Instead, you took a job in some factory only to see it disappear when the rich guys who own the company (who you still admire for some reason,) set up shop in another country where the labor force is much cheaper (and much darker) than you. You are understandably bitter but for some reason, you blame your replacements instead of those who did the replacing. You were already a bit of a bigot, but the idea that your job could be so easily replaced by an “inherently inferior” person in a foreign country for far less money, further erodes any self-esteem that may have remained from your “glory days” at the top of the food chain in the schoolyard. This makes you even angrier. You’ve never had to start over and learn a new skill set. Your way of life has never required that kind of effort. Now here comes Trump and you see yourself in him. He knows who is to blame. He will restore the natural order of things. He doesn’t exactly say how, but it doesn’t matter. You have turned into such an insecure ball of rage that you can’t even recognize that he’s one of the assholes that closed your factory and sent your job away… To you I say, good luck with that!

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11
Aug
15

In Response to Your Argument

If you received this link it is because you and I somehow became engaged in an online argument and I have determined that it is not sensible for me to continue to respond any further. I understand that this may be perceived by you as rude and condescending but I assure you, that is not my intention.

My decision to opt out was made due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • You made egregious errors in logic and critical thinking and have demonstrated that you do not understand what they are or why they matter. Here is a link to a list of common logical fallacies that might help you determine which errors you may have committed.
  • You demonstrated that you do not know what it would take for you to recognize that your position is incorrect. If there is no possible way to convince you that you’re wrong, then there is no point in further engagement. I assure you, I know EXACTLY what it would take for me to be proven wrong on ANY of my positions. This is the very definition of what it means to be “rational.”
  • You are in a phantom argument. You made points which I then rebuked. Instead of offering a rebuttal to my counterpoints, you introduced brand new points as if your prior points never existed; or worse, repeated your prior points without addressing my rebuttals.
  • You have demonstrated confirmation bias. You have an invincible belief that is immune to criticism. Instead of following evidence and constructing premises which lead to your position, you began with your position and then worked backwards; recognizing only the things you believe support it and none of the things that undermine it.
  • You have demonstrated cognitive dissonance. You are holding multiple positions that contradict one another.
  • You demonstrated a disturbing lack of objectivity or your entire argument is subjective and therefore, is impossible to refute.
  • Your tone became harsh indicating that you are not interested in argument (getting to truth) and instead are interested in quarreling (getting at other people) in this case, me.
  • You said something disparaging or discriminatory against other human beings for things they cannot control (gender, race, sexual orientation.)
  • You’ve mistaken criticism for persecution. No idea or belief is immune from criticism. Religion, philosophies and ideologies are not equivalent to gender, race and sexual orientation.
  • Your reading, writing and grammar skills are so poor that we cannot exchange ideas in a coherent manner.
  • You trolled me. I wasn’t talking to you. I don’t care what you think.

Understand, YOU DID NOT WIN THE ARGUMENT. Arguments only make sense if all parties play by the same rules. If we play basketball and I score points by putting the ball through the hoop, but you think you score points each time you dribble the ball, the game is pointless.

Thank you for reading. Again, no hard feelings.

21
Sep
12

My Reaction to “Jesus Having a Wife”

When the news broke this week that a papyrus script surfaced which indicated Jesus was married, I was asked for my reaction by several acquaintances. As an outspoken atheist and philosophy buff, this isn’t unusual for me. Unfortunately for all those excited, neither is this new discovery.

Several of the unearthed Gnostic gospels make mention of Jesus being married. This is merely another mention of it. While people of faith may find it compelling, it is only due to their ignorance of other scriptures or the mistaken idea that the gospel stories of Jesus are history. They are not. In fact, the canonized gospels alone can’t agree on historical facts and contain many claims that have been demonstrated by historians and archaeologists to be false. Add the gnostic gospels into the mix and the one thing that is clear is that early Christianity was an un-codified assortment of vastly different accounts and beliefs. From the standpoint of history, there is almost no evidence that Jesus even existed, and given the obvious parallels in his stories to earlier gods and prophets of antiquity, he is likely a comprised patchwork that was eventually organized by Paul the Apostle and later by the early church and Vatican 1. While there may have well been a preacher named Jesus in early first century Palestine, there is no first or second-hand evidence of him or the claims of the gospels. (One would think that contemporary historians would have seen fit to make note of him at the time if the gospel claims had any merit.) Given that the gospels were written decades after Jesus’ supposed death and resurrection (this new papyrus finding dates back to four centuries after Jesus,) they are simply not reliable at the historical level. Thus, the recent discovery is the equivalent of finding a papyrus scroll saying that Hercules had a sixteen inch penis; a new detail to an old fable.

04
Apr
12

Moral Dilemmas

In my early 20s while studying philosophy in college, I like many freethinkers, believed morality to be subjective.  I now believe this is not the case.  Morals can vary drastically between cultures, but I do believe there is a baseline morality that can be measured objectively through reason.  If we as humans can agree to a simple objective standard for morality, we will find two things.  First, that all cultures are not equal when it comes to questions of morality, and two, many moral codes are actually immoral practices hiding behind the guise of cultural freedom.

As author and neuroscientist, Sam Harris has suggested in his provocative books, morality answers questions regarding human and animal suffering and happiness.  That which brings about happiness or decreases suffering can be said to be moral, while that which causes suffering and misery can be said to be immoral. Freethinkers use this reasoning as a backbone for a sense of wrong and right. People of reason are for the most part, moral consequentialists; meaning we assess moral questions by weighing the consequences of the particular activity or inactivity.  Most religious people are not usually included in this lot.  Religious people are typically moral absolutists.  They believe that morality has been mandated by their supreme being(s) and therefore is cut and dry.  Simply apply what has been decreed in the holy books to the moral dilemma, and you have your answer.  Needless to say, this is illogical and is not appealing to anyone who prefers to think for oneself.  Moral absolutists are often times forced into consequential reasoning when their scriptures conflict or fail to even address a question (it is not uncommon for so-called divine holy books written 2000 years ago to lack the needed insight on modern issues such as contraception or stem cell research.)

If you have ever taken a class in ethics, philosophy or critical thinking, you may have been presented with exercises in moral dilemmas.  These usually start with some imagined quandary where you are given the power to make an either/ or choice and must decide which one has the more morally desirable outcome.  For example, you are positioned at a switch on train track.  A train is approaching and there is a person tied to the tracks who will be killed if you do not throw the switch and divert the train.  What do you do?  Almost anyone who isn’t a sociopath will choose to divert the train.  But then more details are added and one must re-answer the question with new information.  What if the switch sends the train off a cliff and will kill all those aboard? What if the person tied to the tracks is a convicted murderer?  What if all of the people on the train are Nobel Prize winners? What if the person tied to the tracks is a new-born baby? What if all of the people on the train are convicted murderers?  And so forth and so on.  This exercise in moral consequences is often used more to gauge the sensibilities of the participants more than anything else.  However, they are great critical thought training for the likely circumstance that you may one day find yourself in a real world practical application.  These same type of exercises are often debated in political science classes using real dilemmas from history (one of the more common, should we drop the atomic bombs on Japan to end the second world war?)

Moral absolutists run into trouble in these exercises just as they run into trouble in real life.  Their immediate instinct when faced with the dilemma is to seek guidance from the religious doctrine to which they ascribe. But as the variables shift and become ever more complicated, the absolutist often finds himself taking the less popular position and is often confronted with the consequences of his decision by those who have given the circumstances a bit more consideration.  Ask a devout Catholic whether or not giving condoms to kids is wrong and you may get an affirmative.  Now place the kids in Africa where AIDS is rampant.  The Catholic with the consequentialist streak now has a question.  The absolutist still follows the doctrine of his church believing it has divine authority.  When faced with the ACTUAL millions of Africans who have died of AIDS, and the actual teachings of the church in Africa prohibiting condom use, a consequentialist is appalled.  Clearly, using our objective definition of morality regarding happiness and suffering from the opening paragraph, we must conclude that this action by the Catholic church is objectively immoral.  It provides no increase of happiness and contributes to the suffering of many.   If you ever get the chance to run through these exercises with a group of varying people, do so.  It is a revealing lesson in human psychology.  One can learn so much about one’s peers from these exercises.  They often reveal the prejudices, biases and fears of the participants with stunning clarity.

 

02
Jan
12

Basking in the Majesty of the Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson & Stephen Colbert

26
Dec
11

In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

Just two weeks ago, we lost one of the greatest minds of our time.  If you are or are not familiar with Hitchens’ passionate arguments against tyranny, fascism, dogmatism and religious zealotry, enjoy this montage. Thankfully, science and technology have granted us an extension of our mortality, in that our words, actions and works may be captured and saved for generations to come.

25
Dec
11

The Reason for the Season

On December 25th, the god Mithras was born to a virgin. He would later be killed & then resurrected 3 days later; all of this happening several hundred years before Jesus. Enjoy your holiday.




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