Ask the Atheist (round 4)

by Luke Muehlhauser on February 7, 2010 in Ask the Atheist

Because I know everything, obviously.

Because I know everything, obviously.

Earlier, I invited my readers to ask me anything. You may ask more questions here, but please read the instructions first. Here are my fourth round of responses.

Question 013

Hermes asks:

Was mind-body dualism or belief in an afterlife realm a necessary or important part of your previous theistic beliefs?

Spirit-body dualism and belief in an afterlife were simply assumed. I probably would not have denied either of them unless I denied the supernatural altogether, which of course I eventually did.

Question 014

Hermes asks:

At the time you deconverted… did you have any strong reassessments of your previous thoughts on dualism or an afterlife realm?

Sure, I read some arguments for and against dualism and for and against the afterlife, and came away with a naturalist perspective. But I’m certainly not an expert on either subject.

Question 015

Hermes asks:

Regardless of your responses to the previous questions, are you currently aware of any non-theistic arguments or evidence for an afterlife realm?

If you consider any of those to be credible, are they mainly abstract theorems or ones based on tangible evidence?

Sure. Philosophy student David Staume has recently published a book called The Atheist Afterlife, in which he argues that an afterlife is somewhat plausible even though God is not. Reading over the Amazon reviews, it doesn’t look like the arguments would be compelling to me at all.

I am usually more impressed by scientific evidence than by philosophical argument.

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Hermes February 7, 2010 at 7:14 am

Luke, thanks for answering my questions. I realize that they are very basic, and your responses are about what I would expect. My main intent in asking them was to make it explicit for the theists who bring up such things as Pascal’s Wager and dualism in general.

Lukeprog: “I am usually more impressed by scientific evidence than by philosophical argument.”

Same here. After starting a thread that ran for a few months, the best I could get out of anyone generally went like this; “There is an afterlife. I don’t have evidence. I’ll get back to you with it later.”. Everyone else either asserted an afterlife and crossed their arms, or kept bringing up issues that were dealt with in my first post. Few wanted to offer any evidence, scientifically validated or not. Those who did tended to go with anecdotes.

In other threads, I’ve had people misquote studies or insert conclusions that the studies did not support. When I point that out, the response is that the inserted conclusions are still reasonable even if the study did not specifically mention it.

  (Quote)

corn February 7, 2010 at 7:33 am

Mind-body dualism is the product of wishful thinking. Until recently we had no plausible mechanism to explain the mind, and our experience of our consciousness as independent of our proprioceptive, exteroceptive, and interoceptive senses. However with the advances of modern imaging technology and our ability to study the brain and its effects on the mind, there are few dualism theories that are consistent with what we’ve learned from neuroscience.

Whether you believe in monism or dualism, we know that the brain is intertwined with consciousness and the mind. Research on cognitive development and brain damage indicate that different regions of the brain correlate with different facets of our “minds.” Some theories of dualism posit the mind as a type of “energy” system that can influence the brain, and is likewise influenced by the brain. There is some question about when and how this “energy” cam to be. Occam’s Razor is often invoked here to suggest that positing some independent yet causal “energy” to explain the mind is unnecessary since the biological/neurological model is sufficient.

I find the philosophical arguments for dualism to be fairly weak and easily dispatched. Usually the more specific the argument, the easier it is to rebuff through counter examples or by showing significant faults in the logic. If anything our understanding of embryonic development should cause us to doubt classical theories of the soul and mind-body dualism.

  (Quote)

Jeff H February 7, 2010 at 8:44 am

Oh, come on guys. What about near-death experiences? How is that not definite proof of dualism and of the afterlife? What, isn’t the anecdotal testimony of a person who was unconscious and drugged-up and had their brain being starved of oxygen reliable enough for you?

Jeez, there’s just no pleasing some people.

  (Quote)

Hermes February 7, 2010 at 10:22 am

Jeff H: Jeez, there’s just no pleasing some people.

Wow! Tell me about it! :-P

So few people let themselves experience the energy vorticities and quantum flux ray beam … whaterver thingies. They are just so so … so closed minded!

Well, if my guru told me to chant the proper chakra then maybe I could float away from my body. Either that, or I could get really drunk and then have one of those hangovers where everything is a little bit off. Then again, I’d have to have a guru. I guess I’ll wait till one can show up in spirit but not in person and have a little chat. Maybe I should talk to Shirley MacLaine?

  (Quote)

exrelayman February 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Glad to see you place science above philosophy. I ran into an old short story that involves logic which I thought might be enjoyable to you and those who read your blog, since you have been posting about logic. See here:

http://www1.asknlearn.com/ri_Ilearning/English/631/elang-ilearning/page3a.htm

I fatigue of all the philosophizing and sophistry about a completely undetectable God.

  (Quote)

cl February 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Luke,

Hermes asked,

Regardless of your responses to the previous questions, are you currently aware of any non-theistic arguments or evidence for an afterlife realm?

Well, I suppose this all depends on our criteria for evidence, and everybody’s seems different when it comes to (a)theist discussion. I do not know that the afterlife has been – or can be – empirically and repeatably verified in controlled laboratory settings. After all, it’s called the afterlife for a reason.

However, I have had some rather interesting discourse with an anthropologist by the name of Marianne George, who allowed me to republish a paper of hers in which she gives an account of a veridical dream that challenges metaphysical naturalism head-on IMO.

Long story short is that after the local Shaman George was studying had died, she continued to communicate with Marianne in her dreams, even to the point of assisting her team in the discovery of a buried hearth they were searching for.

Most people I’ve discussed this with either imply she’s a liar or somehow mistaken several of her own experiences, or they dismiss her paper on account of its anecdotal nature, or because she chewed some betel nut while staying with the Barok. For those of us not willing to call her a liar or relegate all her experiences to betel nut, I see her anecdote as somewhere between ironclad proof and mere fancy, and at the very least worth further discussion, but that’s just me.

Though I haven’t heard from her in a while, Marianne has also been happy to field questions. Feel free to drop her a line, and I’d be interested in hearing your response to her paper.

  (Quote)

David Staume February 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm

There is no evidence of an afterlife. For some that becomes the end of the matter, but for others – like me – the question becomes: Is there any good reasoning in the absence of evidence that would make us keep the question alive?

There is no evidence for God, nor do I find any good direct reasoning for God, so I think atheism is the most reasonable position to take on the question of a deity. The question of an afterlife, however, is different. First, we shouldn’t dismiss the concept simply because we think of it as a religious concept. We have to examine these things on their own merit – as Sam Harris says in ‘The End of Faith’. I think the most reasonable position to take on the question of an afterlife is to be agnostic. The argument in favour of an afterlife is not as strong as the argument against, so on the balance of probability you’d go against. And the arguments in favour that involve near-death experiences don’t cut it, although some very serious work is being done in this regard. The best argument involves this, and I can only treat it very briefly now. It is a philosophical argument, it is not evidence by any means, but it’s quite strong on grounds of logic. The main reason I find it credible is that it is testable. As the idea extrapolates it makes a specific prediction. Theories that aren’t testable are useless – this one’s not:

There is reason to believe that we dream in additional dimensions of time and space to waking experience. It is possible to form a very precise idea of what experience would be like if there was an additional dimension of time and space, and this seems to correlate with dream experience. In other words, the weird things that happen in dreams are EXACTLY the weird things we would expect to happen if there was an additional dimension of time and space. IF this is correct, a number of things flow logically, such as mind-body dualism and the probability that consciousness will survive death.

I post this realising that such a short entry without elaboration will raise many questions and be unfulfilling to many people, but I will address them if asked. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife or not, but for now, I’m agnostic. So there you have it, an atheist who’s agnostic about the afterlife – go figure. But that’s what free thinking is about isn’t it? It’s not necessarily about being right (though we try to be), it’s about thinking with as much quality as we can, and as independently as we can. We have to avoid atheist group-think in just the same way as we have to avoid any other kind of group-think.

  (Quote)

Hermes February 7, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Cl, two notes to start out with so that we’re talking about the same issues.

1. The discussion is actually not about (a)theism as you phrase it. If ^incorporeal-mind/physical-body dualism^ (now just “dualism”) is true or false, then it would inform anyone — regardless of their theistic or non-theistic point of view. This includes theists without current dualism ideas as well as non-theists who consider dualism more plausible than not.

Only those who require it to be one way or the other for dogmatic reasons will not be swayed. I hope that you will not or are not one of those people, but then again I’ve commented on your blog before so I’m not entirely hopeful that you are interested in a mutual investigation. Any confidence I show in my current conclusions is based on many months of investigation and discussions with people who were unable to support dualism. That said, I fervently — but tentatively — hold the opinion that dualism(^as expanded above) is not tenable.

2. ‘naturalism’… Though you brought it up, I explicitly did not neither here in this blog post or in the referenced WWGHA and as such am not talking about limiting the discussion to a narrow philosophy or even one field of discovery. What I’m asking about are what we know and what we see as boosters or counters to positions that are held by dualists (^as expanded on above) specifically. If they happen to be ‘natural’ or ‘metaphysical’ — if the reliable evidence falls under one or another category — as a side issue that only speaks to the value of that category and or the methods employed in that category. That is a strength of those categories, not a weakness.

In short; I’m for reality. Period. What’s real? I have some ideas and some evidence that I think is reliable. If I learn that I’m mistaken, I’m all for being corrected so that I am no longer mistaken. That’s a win for me, and it should be for you as well. I am willing to discuss the evidence — evidence I’ve provided here somewhat and in detail in the WWGHA forum thread I linked to earlier — on the subject of dualism. If you have some ideas and some evidence to support those ideas that you think is reliable, then you have to ‘show’ me. Show me that it is reliable. That’s it.

Demonstratability. That’s my responsibility. That’s your responsibility — if you want to reach that mutual understanding. And that’s the point; a mutual — not a navel-gazing or solipsistic — understanding. It doesn’t do us any good to drag in concepts for different troops to rally around, or to throw out evidence that is verifiable yet somehow inconvenient.

If anyone can not or will not do that, then they can’t join in on the path towards gaining a more impartial understanding that allows us to reach a mutual conclusion. If that rejection of evidence causes someone’s case problems, then that’s a problem for them to address by acknowledging that as a limitation of their methods and not a valid excuse for ignoring those limitations or the evidence provided.

* * *

With that out of the way — to avoid making this on theism alone or bogged down in solipsism or worldview nonsense — let’s continue…

As for the paper, if the researcher is around maybe I’ll drop in and talk to her directly when I’m in her area?

As for Dr. George’s paper, if you have a copy of her work (not just an abstract), I’ll be glad to review it directly instead of through the filter of your blog that honestly I have raised reservations on before. If not, let me know where to look it up in a journal, I’ll check it out (I don’t have net logins, but I do have access to dead tree resources). As such, going on the details you’ve provided only I can not comment on her actual work as they may be entirely based on your perspective and not her actual research.

To you I’ll point out that while I’m not an anthropologist, I have taken a few undergrad anthropology classes and know about some very interesting methods that people use to judge reality. One of my interests in my academic studies on the issue of time perspectives — something that comes up in dreamtime and other always-present or cyclical ancestor encounters. After being encouraged by one professor, I almost went through the effort of attempting to publish a formal anthropology paper on time systems, but I was honestly too immature and did not realize that I was not being falsely encouraged.

With that, back to us. Speaking of evidence, what do you think about the readily available publications on brain damage, brain trauma, and brain surgery?

Picking one example that I think provides some possibility to philosophize while having hard evidence as well, how do you address what happens when a person’s corpus callosum is severed? We have clinical examples of this as it is a procedure that has been performed on people who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy.

For what it’s worth, the pilot training centrifuge OBEs discussed on the WWGHA thread are also something I’d like your comments on.

  (Quote)

cl February 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm

David Staume,

Forgive me if you perceive this semantic criticism as rude or unwarranted, but I assure you it’s in good faith: when I perceive a lack of evidence for something, I tend to use some variant of, “I’ve not seen evidence for X” as opposed to, “there is no evidence for X.” Statements phrased in the latter manner repackage a subjective position as an objective one.

I post this realising that such a short entry without elaboration will raise many questions and be unfulfilling to many people,

I actually found it more fulfilling than entire forums dedicated to the same subject. What you describe coheres rather well with Marianne’s conclusions as drawn from the paper I mentioned in comment #6.

There is reason to believe that we dream in additional dimensions of time and space to waking experience. It is possible to form a very precise idea of what experience would be like if there was an additional dimension of time and space, and this seems to correlate with dream experience.

While I’m curious as to the reason you allude to, I agree completely and offer nonlocality as an attribute that might accompany this “additional dimension” you allude to. This enjoys the benefit of a real-world analog in quantum mechanics. I see Marianne’s paper and the abilities of the Barok tribe as evidence for this position, and suffice it to say that Marianne is also a believer in the “all-encompassing reality.”

..that’s what free thinking is about isn’t it? It’s not necessarily about being right (though we try to be), it’s about thinking with as much quality as we can, and as independently as we can. We have to avoid atheist group-think in just the same way as we have to avoid any other kind of group-think.

Very refreshing. I tire easily of what you suggest avoiding.

  (Quote)

Hermes February 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm

David, I like your post and agree with you on Harris’ perspective as well as a few other points of your post. The more I think about his ideas and evidence, the more I appreciate the rigor and reasonable impartiality that both he and Dennett bring to often murky and self-absorbed topics.

David Staume: There is reason to believe that we dream in additional dimensions of time and space to waking experience. It is possible to form a very precise idea of what experience would be like if there was an additional dimension of time and space, and this seems to correlate with dream experience. In other words, the weird things that happen in dreams are EXACTLY the weird things we would expect to happen if there was an additional dimension of time and space. IF this is correct, a number of things flow logically, such as mind-body dualism and the probability that consciousness will survive death.

Consider the following;

Sleep (Radiolab) – http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2008/01/11

Specifically the section on dreams (the last 20 minutes starting just after the 40 minute mark). I think this entirely addresses your comment above and opens up some interesting possibilities on how to learn and how learning happens. The whole episode is excellent and worth a listen, as well as Radiolab as a show or podcast.

If this type of thing interests you, and you want more details without having to spend all your time in research journals, consider subscribing to Dr. Ginger Campbell’s Brain Science podcast. It often slides back and forth between pop-science and fairly detailed discussions on research performed by the researchers themselves.

RSS feed link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/brainsciencepodcast

iTunes feed link: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=210065679

  (Quote)

Hermes February 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm

FWIW, based on the above and other studies, I attempt to sleep briefly during the day and I find that it helps me pick up new skills in general (sports related or not, emotional or not) much more rapidly.

  (Quote)

David Staume February 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

cl – semantic criticism accepted.

  (Quote)

cl February 7, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I apologize in advance if those unfamiliar with the history between Hermes and myself perceive the following as unnecessarily brash.

Hermes,

The discussion is actually not about (a)theism as you phrase it. If ^incorporeal-mind/physical-body dualism^ (now just “dualism”) is true or false, then it would inform anyone — regardless of their theistic or non-theistic point of view. This includes theists without current dualism ideas as well as non-theists who consider dualism more plausible than not.

I agree. I knew exactly what the subject matter was before I posted my first comment, and I find your assumptions to the contrary to be an unnecessary hindrance to the fruitful resolution of this discussion.

Any confidence I show in my current conclusions is based on many months of investigation and discussions with people who were unable to support dualism. That said, I fervently — but tentatively — hold the opinion that dualism(^as expanded above) is not tenable.

Why repeat yourself? Are you assuming I’m unfamiliar with your position as stated on WWGHA? Similarly, all confidence I show in my current conclusions is based on many years of investigation and discussion with people from a wide range of viewpoints and personal experience – although you’ve already rudely asserted that I “deny common sense” in preference of “bias” so I don’t expect to persuade you of anything besides the conclusion you’ve already accepted.

‘naturalism’… Though you brought it up, I explicitly did not neither here in this blog post or in the referenced WWGHA and as such am not talking about limiting the discussion to a narrow philosophy or even one field of discovery.

So? I explicitly did not neither here nor anywhere else imply you were talking about limiting the discussion to a narrow philosophy or even one field of discovery. Moreover, my initial comment was neither to nor about you or anything you said which leaves me puzzled as to your assumption otherwise. You’re not the center of this conversation. I was responding to Luke and you’d save yourself a lot of time and Luke a lot of bandwidth if you didn’t make so many unwarranted assumptions about your interlocutor’s statements. Nothing in my statement that “Marianne’s paper confronts metaphysical naturalism head-on” requires or even implicitly suggests that we limit the discussion to a narrow philosophy or even one field of discovery. You read that into it.

What I’m asking about are what we know and what we see as boosters or counters to positions that are held by dualists (^as expanded on above) specifically.

Again, I understand exactly what you’re asking for; it’s not that hard to grasp and you’re being unnecessarily redundant.

Demonstratability. That’s my responsibility. That’s your responsibility — if you want to reach that mutual understanding.

Demonstratability? Now that’s interesting: where’s all that attention to spelling you criticize others for lacking at WWGHA? Not that I eschew arguments on behalf of spelling errors or anything, but if – as you say – such suggests your interlocutors are lazy, doesn’t your oversight suggest slackness in your own work? As far as my responsibilities go, I’m more than aware of my duty as positive claimant and your “reminder” was unnecessary.

Speaking of slackness in one’s work,

As for Dr. George’s paper, if you have a copy of her work (not just an abstract), I’ll be glad to review it directly instead of through the filter of your blog that honestly I have raised reservations on before.

Okay Hermes, I have an honest question for you: are you really a professor like it says on WWGHA? The reason I ask is because professors – the good ones at least – usually avoid rude condescension and unwarranted assumptions, and tend to look before they leap. Had you taken the time to read as far as the second sentence of the post I linked to, you would have found:

The context of that discussion was simultaneous dreaming, and it ended with Marianne deciding that republishing her paper in its entirety would be the best approach… For those who’d like to skip my thoughts and go straight to the source first, please do: you’ll find links to Marianne’s paper (in its entirety) at the end of this post. (cl)

How you can sit there and imply I’ve not done what I’ve clearly articulated doing is beyond me.

You’ve closed your comment to me with a few valid questions and I’ve already devoted a significant amount of time to formulating a response to the entire WWGHA thread you cite, but as I’ve stated here before, I have no interest in proceeding with you on the pertinent issues until I see evidence that you’re actually making an effort and proceeding with a level of respect beyond what the average person treats a prostitute with.

Now please – another commenter here has already noted your offensiveness towards me, and frankly, I wish you’d either pay better attention, or refrain from engaging me at all.

  (Quote)

Hermes February 8, 2010 at 6:03 am

cl: Why repeat yourself? Are you assuming I’m unfamiliar with your position as stated on WWGHA? Similarly, all confidence I show in my current conclusions is based on many years of investigation and discussion with people from a wide range of viewpoints and personal experience – although you’ve already rudely asserted that I “deny common sense” in preference of “bias” so I don’t expect to persuade you of anything besides the conclusion you’ve already accepted.

So? I explicitly did not neither here nor anywhere else imply you were talking about limiting the discussion to a narrow philosophy or even one field of discovery.

You’re not the center of this conversation. I was responding to Luke and you’d save yourself a lot of time and Luke a lot of bandwidth if you didn’t make so many unwarranted assumptions about your interlocutor’s statements.

Speaking of slackness in one’s work,

Overall, good. I’ll consider you up to speed at this point. That’s much less to hassle with.

The “Professor” is a title the forum puts on anyone’s account depending on the number of posts made there. The cars you want to yap at is SMF for having a default label system and the WWGHA for choosing an academic hierarchy; Undergraduate, … . Submit a note to the admins and moderators in the proper forum area. You have my backing for some kind of change on that one.

As for your thin skin, my criticism was and seems to also be now as it was before (2010/01/24);

My question to you cl is this: Are you coming here with your A game? I’ll state right up front that I’m not. You have ~maybe~ 80% of my attention and quite a bit less of my care, yet I’m not someone who considers his livelihood to be writing. It’s good that you do have that profession, and I am not knocking it. Yet, it’s not mine. Because of that, I could be somewhat forgiven for making goofs (like the “you cut lopped off” mistake I made earlier). Order and attribution, though, seem like big errors unlike redundant extra words.

I take the rebuke on my misspelling. That was sloppy on my part. Yet, I’m discouraged that your sloppyness with quote attribution — a worse issue — includes putting words in my mouth, so I must take it personally. Very unprofessional. Write from the fire in your gut by all means, but do not expect me to speak well of your skills as a professional at this point. WW E.B. W. D?

If you are done with the clumsy attacks that seem to leave you toeless, maybe we can get to some other meat?

(Note: I see that even when I was modestly cordial, you chose not to reply to very basic questions dealing with ‘eternal causes’/’1st law thermodynamics’/… and other issues from my last post to you in the “Who Designed the Designer” blog entry, but did reply to someone else just yesterday. Should I take that as a concession of some sort, or are you still considering the issues I’ve raised there?)

cl: You’ve closed your comment to me with a few valid questions and I’ve already devoted a significant amount of time to formulating a response to the entire WWGHA thread you cite, but as I’ve stated here before, I have no interest in proceeding with you on the pertinent issues until I see evidence that you’re actually making an effort and proceeding with a level of respect beyond what the average person treats a prostitute with.

Good about the WWGHA thread. Maybe you will be the one to tell me how souls get sliced up, or why death isn’t necessary or even possible(?) to experience OBEs?

Your thoughts may spark me to improve my game there, but take your time in wording your posts as I will not address them immediately. If on reflection, you can think of some improvements/retractions/…, please use the edit button. I’ve been working on something special for that site and am not ready to post it yet. Occasionally, I can be a filthy perfectionist and have spent too much time here and elsewhere as a distraction from that task.

As for respect, you can demand cordiality and rebuke me for not granting that here. Respect, though, is not mine to give nor yours to demand anymore than it is possible to believe or have faith in what I think is just not so. Maybe if you stopped tactics like putting words in my mouth, or admitting that you were mistaken before going on a tirade to reinforce your confidence in earlier mistakes, I would move from my current estimation to one of someone that could rise above the negative.

  (Quote)

Hermes February 8, 2010 at 6:04 am

[ grrr...no edit button here ]

  (Quote)

cl February 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

David Staume,

I didn’t mean to be a pedant, and I look forward to reading your book.

Luke,

I do apologize once again, and include a promise this time: after this comment, I promise that I will not respond to any of Hermes’ personal issues (as distinct from pertinent statements) on your blog. I’ve stated before that I find this blog to be a resource, and the last thing I want is to contribute to the obscuring of the topics by giving too much attention to somebody’s personal issues.

Hermes,

Thin skin? Come meet me in person sometime buddy. The reason I point out your condescension is because such typically accompanies vacuity of arguments. I come to Luke’s blog to learn and occassionally get in the mix. I’m not here to do battle with you; it’s not about you. Freethought is not about battling to be right, but quality of thought, as David Staume aptly noted. As just one example, your quality of thought is so poor that you overlooked the reference to Marianne’s paper in the second sentence of the post I linked to. It’s as if you’re not even trying, just reacting emotionally and digging into the keyboard to vent.

The “Professor” is a title the forum puts on anyone’s account depending on the number of posts made there. The cars you want to yap at is SMF for having a default label system and the WWGHA for choosing an academic hierarchy; Undergraduate,

That’s exactly what I figured. I have no grievance with it. I was just curious because I’ve never seen a real professor act like you act.

Yet, I’m discouraged that your sloppyness with quote attribution — a worse issue — includes putting words in my mouth, so I must take it personally. Very unprofessional.

Ha! What chutzpah. First, the irony of your misspelled sloppiness is priceless. Second, I have no idea what you’re talking about, and of course you don’t include a citation, but if I made a mistake somewhere I’ll gladly acknowledge it, apologize, and move on. You know, kind of like you should do for glossing over the salient points regarding Marianne’s paper and being offensive to your interlocutor to boot. Third, did you or did you not attribute somebody’s eles’s words to Luke in your third comment to me in the old thread you brought up here? Since the answer is undeniably “yes,” I hoist you by your own petard again and denounce this naked hypocrisy for what it is.

..do not expect me to speak well of your skills as a professional at this point.

I never did. I’m well familiar with your arrogant delivery and I see the way you talk down to theists at WWGHA. As I said, I don’t expect to convince you of anything beyond the unwarranted conclusions you’ve already prematurely accepted, because there are none so blind as those who do not wish to see. You accused me of “denying common sense” in preference of “bias” while at the same time you make petulant demands I’ve already met. I don’t know what school of rationalism you subsribe to, but I was taught to doubt myself and give my interlocutor the benefit of the doubt when misunderstandings arise. If you want to understand me better, re-read your own comments impartially, followed by my responses. Your accusations are baseless.

If you are done with the clumsy attacks that seem to leave you toeless, maybe we can get to some other meat?

Clumsy? Attacks? How have I attacked you? It’s quite the contrary, I’m afraid. I was focused on the “meat” in my first comment in this thread, then you came and started flanking me about side issues from old threads when I wasn’t even addressing you in the first place. Get over it. As for attacks, you left me a laundry list of unwarranted insults in that thread you linked to, enough that another commenter even booked you on it. Moreover, who’s clumsy if you’re botching quotes, misspelling words, crafting incomplete sentence fragments and asking to see papers published in their entirety that are already published in their entirety?

I see that even when I was modestly cordial, you chose not to reply to very basic questions dealing with ‘eternal causes’/’1st law thermodynamics’/… and other issues from my last post to you in the “Who Designed the Designer” blog entry, but did reply to someone else just yesterday. Should I take that as a concession of some sort, or are you still considering the issues I’ve raised there?

No, you shouldn’t take it as a concession. You should take it as hint that I find you to be incredibly rude and have no further interest in dialog with you if that’s how it’s going to be. I replied to Polymeron and John because they asked questions nicely and proceeded with basic respect; cordiality as you say. Also, I answered your questions directly, with clear “yes” and “no” answers followed by explanation when necessary. That’s why I’m not over there repeating myself like you are here: I answered you, on all counts. It’s all in the thread. If you can’t or won’t take the time to think it through, hey – not my problem.

Your thoughts may spark me to improve my game there, but take your time in wording your posts as I will not address them immediately.

I don’t care whether you ever address them or not. I don’t like talking to you. When people ignore me, I don’t go around stalking them and bringing up old threads. I take the hint and wonder if maybe anything they’ve said about me might contain a grain of truth.

..or admitting that you were mistaken before going on a tirade to reinforce your confidence in earlier mistakes,

Do you even remember what you typed earlier about demonstratability? You simply assert that I’ve made “earlier mistakes” with absolutely zero evidence forthcoming.

*********

So there you go. More attention spent on Hermes. Respond if you wish, but choose your words wisely because I’ll be keeping my promise from here on out.

  (Quote)

David Staume February 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm

cl, send me your address and I’ll forward you a copy. staume@optusnet.com.au.

  (Quote)

Hermes February 9, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Cl, you’ve been good writing practice so far, and I mean that sincerely, so it’s not a total waste. I’ve decided to strike out some of the more florid comments in this and the next reply, though I don’t know if the next one is worth posting for reasons I’ll cover now.

Here’s what I don’t get. I occasionally see people acting like you do, though rarely do they toss in threats of violence. Yet, it is still amazing to me each time it happens. Acting like what, you ask? You and a select few others I’ve encountered have an attitude of entitlement; that you have the right — an obligationto pull details from a fantasy realm and pretend that they are somehow connect to reality and can not be questioned.[note]

Here are a couple examples to show this is not hyperbole. The quotes you have said a few times are mine, are not mine. They are yours. You also made claims a few times that you have held up your end of the conversation when you have not; the unanswered questions in the other thread and the goose chase you want me to go on to address the claims you have made and attribute to someone else (Dr. George). Forgive me a thousand times over if I do not automatically take your word for what she intended after seeing your previous work.

Unlike you, I do check my sources and I provide them when asked, even if you choose to ignore them. As anyone else can, I checked the quotes you attributed to me. First, I did a search of this site using Google, then used the blog search tool, then manually searched a few likely pages using ctrl-F in the browser. Not satisfied, I also used wget and scraped the text from the past 40 blog posts and all replies to see if I could find a single instance of what you say are my words. Unless wget and Google and the other searches are all broken, or you misreported what I actually wrote, I’m left with something strange; only your comments claiming I said those words show up. Nobody else uses those words.

Yet, and here’s the stunning thing, when I called you on it and other mistakes, you claim offense and get your ire up. Why? Supposedly, because I’m not nice enough while both distorting evidence and promoting violence is somehow a lesser offence. Well, that unjustified arrogance offends me as my justified arrogance seems to be offensive to you. Yet, your comments will not be very convincing to anyone who actually checks the facts for themselves — unless you have edit rights on this blog or a time machine.

As such, you do not deserve respect or even basic cordiality.

So, why do you do such things? Is it out of necessity? Maybe. Then again, maybe it is just easier, or you like the thrill of getting away with it as so few people call you on it? Maybe you do not realize that you are doing it? Maybe it’s a moral failing, or blinders and venom that only appear when you are protecting your Lord (supposedly because it requires you to do so)? How about you? Why do you think you do such things when anyone can check?

  (Quote)

cl February 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

David Staume,

Hey there, thanks for the kind offer, I saw this and sent you an email today.

Hermes,

While I’m not interested in responding to your armchair psychoanalysis, I believe that misquoting others qualifies as a “pertinent issue” so I’ll respond.

If I have misquoted you – here or anywhere else – then I owe you an honest apology, and I’m more than willing to give you one if owed. You say you cite your sources, but so far you’ve merely asserted that I’ve misquoted you and followed up with personal insults. Concerned, a careful re-reading of this thread revealed that all my blockquotes were cut-and-pasted directly from your comments. I even took the time to preserve italics for you. Unless you can support your claim that I’ve misquoted you with evidence, I can only assume it’s more puffery.

Speaking of “misquoting” people, check this out:

As for your thin skin, my criticism was… (Hermes)

Thin skin? Come meet me in person sometime buddy. (cl)

I occasionally see people acting like you do, though rarely do they toss in threats of violence. (Hermes)

Thing is, “come meet me in person” wasn’t a “threat of violence” so perhaps you need to do some apologizing of your own? I skateboard. My skin is calloused and often bloody, especially around the elbows. If you were to meet me in person, I believe you’d walk away with the conclusion that I’m not thin-skinned, hence my statement. You heard a “threat of violence” where no such thing was intended. I’m a straight-up type of person. If I wanted to threaten you I would, but that I think somebody’s offensive online is not sufficient motive. It would also be irrational for me to threaten you without an estimation of your physical stature and combat capabilities in the first place.

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment