Archive for November, 2012



The labels of “pro-choice” and “pro-life” have both come to represent legalizing and prohibiting abortion, respectively. This is inappropriate. The use of the words “choice” and “life” make it seem like this is all there is to the argument. The fact is both sides are wrong when they simplify this argument to either, “Do you hate a woman’s right to do what she wants to her own body?” or “Do you love killing babies?”

Since both sides have become hypercharged in a hypersensitive atmosphere, both sides fail to see the childishness of their own arguments.

Personally, I come down somewhat firmly on one side of this debate: the so-called “pro-choice” side; yet, perhaps counter-intuitively, I couldn’t care less about a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. The fact is that the woman and her baby are not analogous to a woman and her arm. The baby is not simply a part of her body. She bears responsibility for the life inside of her, of course. This argument becomes stronger the further along in the pregnancy the woman is. It’s hard to see why once the woman emits the baby from her body, she cannot kill it, but if it is inside of her, and has the ability to live outside of her, she is free to kill it.

This would be the extreme, however. A third trimester abortion is something rarely performed unless the mother’s life is in danger anyway. However, this raises the question: where do we draw the line? I think almost everyone would agree that there is a point after which we cannot ethically terminate a baby (which is not a threat to the mother’s health), but it is much harder to say exactly when that point is. So, in all, given the choice between letting women do what they want to “their bodies” and allowing a life to be terminated, of course I will take away the woman’s right to do what she wants to her body.

Now, before I get to why I am actually on the side of the pro-choicers, let me breakdown why the “pro-life” term is also ridiculous. Think about that term. Pro-life. What stupidity. Who is not pro-life, in the greatest sense of the term, aside from psychopaths? This term is an ad hominem in itself. That’s a bad start. You’re labeling all people who disagree with you as psychopaths before the argument has begun. This is not an argument about who likes life and who likes death. This kind of thinking destroys any nuance that may be presented counter to abortion prohibition.

Now, as for me, I don’t believe that abortion should be legal, as I said, because I care about a woman’s choice to do what she will with her body. This doesn’t have a big enough impact on society, in my opinion — and I believe that it is the purpose of laws to make a society run as smoothly and humanely as possible. Well, if you’re a pro-lifer and you’re banging your desk and screaming right now, just calm down for a second. I have not just contradicted myself. I believe abortion should be legal because when we look at examples around the world where it is not legal, we have to consider what happens. Does abortion just stop? Wow, I wish I lived in that world! No. It does not stop. It goes underground. It still happens, and it happens by boyfriends kicking their girlfriends in the stomach until the fetus or the mother dies, it happens by single mothers using coat hangers to hopefully puncture the right organs (I will save you the details. I’ll assume you can guess what I’m saying), it happens through quack doctors, or people who are not doctors at all, try to make a quick buck off a helpless would-be mother. This is a totally inhumane society, and one I am not willing to live in. For this reason alone, I am for the legalization of abortion everywhere.

Abortion is an admittedly terrible procedure, but one which qualified doctors can perform with the lowest chances of error. This has nothing to do with being pro-choice or pro-life; it is simply the best solution to a hard problem.


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End to democracy! End to capitalism! End to tyranny!

What’s the solution? ANARCHY! Of course!

I’ve always wondered, how would these anarchists react if their dreams came true? How would they cope in a civilization in anarchy? My guess is they’d be the first to go running back to their middle-class homes to cry to their mommies, but that’s just speculation. What is it about anarchy that is so appealing to them? Do they really understand what they are advocating?

An excellent case study for anarchism in the modern world is  Somalia from 1991 to 2006. This period provided a unique chance to witness the results of a state of anarchism on a society. The results were not good.

The level of daily violence became “catastrophic,” according to Doctors Without Borders and “a statistic from 2000 indicated that only 21% of the population had access to safe drinking water at that time, and Somalia had one of the highest child mortality rates in the world with 10% of children dying at birth and 25% of those surviving birth dying before age five” (CIA World Fact Book). Adult literacy dropped to 24%, civil war erupted, and diseases like tuberculosis and measles ran rampant.

I am not quite sure what it is about the above example that is so ideal or worthy of fighting for. Actually, I have a hard time believing that the anarchists you see at any protest are actually serious about bringing about a descent into anarchism. To be honest, they seem like young kids who just want to make unnecessary trouble and enjoy the verbal masturbation of talking pseudo-intellectually afterwards.


Take a look at this site showing textbooks in Louisiana. All I have to say is… my God.

If you don’t wanna click, here’s couple samples from the site (P.S. click the pictures for a deeper analysis of Creationism):

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Khaled Mashal is an Idiot


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I just saw a video of Khaled Mashal, the chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, in which he said something remarkably stupid. Either he’s a chronic gambler and has lost all sense of what he and his country has to lose, or he’s a moron. He said that the Israeli military ground troop buildup on the Israeli-Gaza border is a bluff! So, whenever you call a bluff, if you know anything about poker or common-sense, you have to consider what you have to gain and what you have to lose. What are Palestinians gaining by Khaled Mashal making this statement? Pride? That’s all I can see. What do the Palestinians have to lose? EVERYTHING. This is the worst gamble I’ve ever witnessed. Hopefully for Palestinians it is a bluff, but, I wouldn’t bet on it myself.

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Israel is not America. Israel’s history has shaped a highly aggressive national policy. While placing military communication towers on buildings housing members of the media might dissuade a country like America from performing a missile strike, this will not dissuade Israel (this happened just recently). Nor will hiding terrorists in that same building dissuade Israel from missile strikes either (this also just happened recently). While a critical lifeblood of America is world opinion, and the trade that flows from that, this is not Israel’s primary concern. Israel’s primary concern is protecting their territory militarily.  The highly immoral tricks that terrorists or immoral enemy combatants have used against the Americans very successfully (for example, planting military targets among or inside civilian targets, hiding behind innocent women while shooting, dressing suicide bombers in burkas, dressing soldiers in burkas, et cetera), will not work against the Israelis.

I am actually somewhat on the fence about the whole Palestinian-Israeli issue. What I am trying to demonstrate here is that the barbaric tactics used by terrorists and immoral military leaders in the past against America will only prove to be a useless tactic against Israel.


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I recently saw this picture of a dead child on a site with a caption of, “Is this dead enough for you?” and I thought, is this an acceptable form of political attack? Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on, using the image of a dead child to make a political statement seems like a low-blow, to say the least. The fact is, there is no evidence that America tries to kill children with drone strikes — this is childish, unnecessary demonizing of the Obama administration and America in general. So, what is this image really showing? That war is bad? I think we all know that.

But, of course, we all know that this isn’t the point of the picture and the caption. The point goes something like this:

1) See dead child

2) Be horrified

3) Wonder why the child died

4) Be told that Obama did this

5) Hate Obama

I hope people can think a little more deeply than this.

I have also seen similar pictures used for the Palestinian cause recently. I hope that these kinds of pictures and this form of reasoning doesn’t really affect people as much as I suspect it does, but I do know that the image of a dead child is something that is hard to push out of your mind. As a result, I presume that many people will allow their emotional reaction to overcome their logical thinking, unfortunately.


Why did I decide to write this blog post? I am not quite sure, precisely. I could say it’s because I’ve read Sam Harris’ book “Free Will” or because I’ve had somewhat recent encounters with people who hold steadfast to the belief that we have free will. However, truthfully, I have no idea why I actually decided to write this. I cannot know this. It came from a part of my brain which I cannot access.

It seems that the default position is to believe in free will. I did until I read Harris’ book. I am sure most people believe in free will. However, there was one scientific study that pushed me away from believing in free will. Apparently, via fMRI machines, subjects are told to raise either their left or right hand, and seconds or milliseconds before they actually raise it, the desire to raise the selected hand is spotted in the subject’s brain. The scientists know which hand the subject will choose before the subject does.

I told this to someone recently (an atheist, so their views weren’t clouded by religion), and he stated something that I didn’t expect. He said that the unconscious part of our mind is a part of us, and therefore, we still retain free will. I didn’t expect this argument, and I hadn’t finished Harris’ book by that point, so I didn’t really know what to say.

However, Harris does deal with this counterargument. Your unconscious brain is not “you” in any sense that we can conceive because your unconscious mind is also doing things like creating red blood cells and making sure your heart beats. We are not in control of these things, in the same way we are not in control of our subconscious thoughts. I could suddenly say, “Putting spaghetti on my head feels strange,” and I’d have no way of accounting for why I didn’t say, “Putting puppies on my head feels strange.”

So why do we do what we do? It’s simply a highly complex amalgamation of our life history, our DNA and our current circumstances. Think about anything you do. Why did you do it?

For example, I drank two espressos today. Why did I do that? Because I’m addicted to coffee.Why am I addicted to coffee? Because it keeps me awake. Why didn’t I drink tea? My experience with tea is that it doesn’t have the same kick as coffee. Why does it give me a kick? Something in human DNA causes me to react in this way to caffeine.

The details of every decision can be explained in every detail ad nauseum. There is no mystical “me” that fits into this equation.

Just because it feels like we are making decisions, doesn’t mean it’s not an illusion.

I am not an expert on this subject, for sure. I am quite a tyro, in fact.

As Michael Shermer states, “Sam Harris has the unique ability to translate difficult subjects into really crystal clear writing”

So, for a better, more in depth understanding of what I’m talking about, check out this speech by Sam Harris:


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How many people would claim that they love killing people? How many of those people do you actually think, if they knew the gruesomeness and cruelty of killing someone, would actually continue to claim that they love killing people?

Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Norway, in which he single-handedly walked around an island full of unarmed civilians and shot them one by one, doesn’t even answer yes to the above questions. Breivik has been very straightforward about the brutality of his crime with the utmost details. He has incriminated himself over and over, without remorse. Yet, he did admit one thing: he said that as he was killing people, he had a strong desire to stop the whole time. He said that he only overcame this gut feeling by convincing himself that it was a necessary evil to help society as a whole.

So, aside from sadistic psychopaths (I’d argue that although non-sadistic psychopaths wouldn’t feel empathy for people they killed, they would be able to reason enough to decide that its not a good thing to kill random people and therefore have no desire to do so), people have a built in morality against killing random people.

We do not need the silly ten commandments to know that killing people is not good. This is instinctive. What were people doing before the ten commandments? Killing each other randomly? Society could not function if this were the case since society is built on trust.

Claims are made that modern societies are built on Judeo-Christian values; however, many less violent countries, such as East Asian countries, were not founded on Judeo-Christian values.

Also, I would argue that it is not even our society that makes us moral. The society just keeps the trust among us for those few who, for whatever reason (bad upbringing, bad DNA or a combination of these two), commit crimes. But, there are always exceptions. Most people will act morally in any political system.

People try to use NAZI Germany’s holocaust as an example of how our morality can be molded according to the regime in power. This is absolutely false.

If you actually know about the details of how the holocaust was carried out, you’d know that the most difficult aspect of pushing through the holocaust was human reluctance to kill. At first, soldiers were just ordered to shoot Jews. This didn’t last long. Although people naturally will go along with authority, this only goes so far. Watching numerous people die by your own hands is something that few people can endure. Eventually, some German soldiers refused to obey their superiors orders, and this led to a cascade effect of other German soldiers refusing. The result? The gas chambers. If you claim that gas chambers are more cost effective than shooting people, you are not thinking about what is involved in the gas chambers. First, the technology didn’t exist. They had to do some serious R and D to figure out how to pull off mass death via gas chambers. Second, they needed to transport people to gas chambers. Third, they needed to build gas chambers and death camps. Fourth, they needed to man these death camps. Fifth, they had to burn the bodies. Sixth, they had to do this in a way to not alert the local population (who, by their own morals, if they found out, would have become horrified). This is only six reasons, but there are many more. The fact is, the NAZI government learned very quickly that their soldiers were moral and they needed to circumvent this morality very quickly and efficiently to prevent mass mutiny.

Even in wartime, there are outbreaks of peace that happen. The Christmas Truce of World War I is probably the most well known example. Even though both sides of the War were taught to hate one another by political and military authorities, suddenly, mass outbreaks of peace occurred between British and German soldiers. It seems it’s actually not that easy to ensure a war continues without pressure from forces above (forces that themselves have not participated in the ugliness of war).

It is for these reasons that it really bothers me when someone claims that humans need religion to be moral. This is the greatest insult to the humanity that exists within all of us.


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I honestly watch John Boehner every time he defends not taxing the richest Americans to see if I can find a valid reason why this is so. I have yet to hear it. The only argument I hear is that taxing the richest people will kill jobs created by the “job-creators.” This is nonsense.

First this is because there is one thing that humans do that is logical but doesn’t help the economy: we save money.

It doesn’t take an economics degree to know that the circulation of money stimulates the economy.

So, unless all CEOs are constantly on the brink of bankruptcy because they are perfectly hiring the maximum number of workers to maintain a maximal production level, taxing them will not affect the economy, it will simply reduce the money that goes into their savings accounts.

Further, what do you think would happen in the conundrum of a large company being taxed at a rate that made them choose between going into the red temporarily and growing the company by hiring the number of workers required or staying in the black and letting the company stagnate because it doesn’t have enough workers? If you have any sense, you would take the hit and go into the red because the competition, which is dealing with the same taxes, might try to grow their company larger than yours. Therefore, intelligent CEOs would still take a hit to grow their company, so long as the increased taxes were reasonable (which Obama’s suggestions are).

I admit that this argument that taxation reduces hiring does actually apply to small- and medium-sized companies because many of these companies are actually often in jeopardy of going bankrupt with or without additional taxation. However, we rarely see a company the size of Walmart go bankrupt by minor disruptions in its business.

So, in short, since a CEO is always going to try to maximize their company’s growth, this argument that taxation on the wealthiest Americans will kill jobs doesn’t hold water.


It is sometimes asserted that you must have faith to believe in science because we don’t have an answer for everything. Well, to an extent this is true. However, it is the best we have. Further, it is by far the best we have.

How do I know this? It’s based on the idea that trustworthiness of an argument comes from how deeply you can question the presuppositions before coming to an “I don’t know” answer. The trustworthiness of science in this regard is always many levels greater than religion. Let’s compare the two. Now, every assertion can have multiple questions, such as “Why is that,” or “How do you know that,” and so on. For the purpose of simplicity, I will only take one route to the foundational presuppositions of each assertion.

Science

Assertion: “Water can be used as a fuel for a power source known as hydrogen power.”

Question: “How do you know this?”

Presupposition: “Because water contains two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and pure hydrogen can be used as a power source”

Q: “How do you know water has two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen?”

P: “Because the atomic theory has helped us come to this conclusion through many different forms of experimentation.”

Q: “How do you know experimentation will prove something?”

P: “Because this is what the scientific method states.”

Q: “How do you know the scientific method is effective?”

P: “Because it allows us to see repeatable results in experiments.”

Q: “How do you know that repeatable results is a good thing?”

P: “Because it allows us to see order in the universe so that we can understand it.”

Q: “How do you know that seeing order indicates anything?”

P: “Because discovering order allows us to make predictions. If something always happens, we can assume it will happen again and again so long as the variables are the same.”

Q: “How do you know that all experiments thus far have just by chance all worked out the way you expected?”

A: “We don’t know that.”

* I am not a scientist. There may actually be silly mistakes here, and I may have missed possible steps. My main point is to show that there are at least six levels of understanding that science has achieved in this particular case.

Religion

Assertion: “Jesus turned water into wine.”

Question: “How do you know that?”

Presupposition: “Because the Bible says so.”

Question: “How do you know that the Bible is correct?”

Presupposition: “Because God made it.

Question: “How do you know God made it?”

Answer: “We have faith that He made it.”

In this case, there are only two levels of presuppositions. The only evidence provided is the Bible. In the science example, the amount of evidence that has been provided for the six steps I mentioned  is an enormously large amount. It entails all the evidence we have achieved since the beginnings of the scientific method along this particular question’s path.

Further, the depth of research required as one moves up this ladder of knowledge increases dramatically. It requires much more evidence to show that water is two parts hydrogen and one part water than it does to explain why repeatable results are useful.

Biblical study can never go beyond the God question, unfortunately because God is supposedly infinite. He is beyond inquiry. Therefore, the conversation always stops there. This is not an intellectual way to view the world.

The fact is, science is always pushing the boundaries of these levels, in both directions; while religion is stultified.

Of course, the more times you ask, “How do you know that?” kind of questions, as any parent of a 2-year old will know, to more abstract the answer becomes, to the point where it doesn’t really make sense to be asking the question anymore. This happens in the science example above.

I remember a great Louis C.K. skit on this, seen here, where his daughter keeps asking “Why?” and it humorously demonstrates the ridiculousness of this situation. It starts around the 7 minute mark.

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