On Honey

[originally posted on the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/d/msg/freethinkers-club/xgoDM-Gbg1E/zTSacb3L1VcJ)]

At one point I found myself controlling a bee with Richard Dawkins on its back, attempting to grab as much honey as I could from the clutches of the religious.

Before that, I spotted a Photoshop of the cover of Dawkins’ memoir, altered so that he now had an “appetite for honey” as he gazed intently into a little jar of the stuff.

Before that, I was puzzled at the uproar over Dawkins’ silly little tweet (https://twitter NULL.com/RichardDawkins/status/396956105869250561).

Bin Laden has won, in airports of the world every day. I had a little jar of honey, now thrown away by rule-bound dundridges. STUPID waste.

And it is silly, really. Complaints about the TSA were boring way back in 2008, and people who look nothing like distinguished English professors have suffered far worse than the loss of a jar of honey. It was more blind privilege from Dawkins, but that’s not news either and this was trivial compared to his previous Twitter escapades.

I’m not the only one puzzled. Here’s the man himself:

I say nothing of the feeble jokes on “bee” and “be” and Pooh Bear. My point here is the one brought out by my encounter with the bank clerk. What is it that renders some people incapable of conceiving how a person might be motivated not by narrow self-interest but by a public-spirited concern for the common weal?

The pieces never clicked into place for me until I read a blog post by Tom Foss (http://dubitoergosum NULL.net/2013/11/03/perspective/):

Dear Muslimo

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you get stopped and harassed and interrogated and strip searched every time you try to travel . . . yawn [. . .]  But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor British brothers have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, he calls himself “Richard Dawkins,” and do you know what happened to him? A TSA security agent took away his jar of honey.

A-ha. Dawkins’ infamous “Dear Muslimina (http://skepchick NULL.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/)” was an admonition to be silent. Don’t bring up trivial things like the harassment of women, because there are less trivial things happening elsewhere. It was also a green flag to the trolls and harassers now plaguing skepticism, a signal that the most prominent members of the community would look the other way or silently support them.

So when Dawkins’ silly little tweet floated into the ether, a segment of the skeptic/atheist community decided to Muslimina right back. Fueled by long-simmering frustrations over his privilege blindness, and aided by religious opponents eager to poke him with a stick, the mockery quickly went viral. This only caused everyone to push harder; at long last, Dawkins would get a taste of what happened to Rebecca Watson after ElevatorGate, he’d experience a full plate of mockery and derision flung into his face (but with the rapey bits removed; even the mob has standards, sometimes). A small bit of justice would be served.

And true to form, Dawkins is completely clueless to it all (http://www NULL.theguardian NULL.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/05/honey-trap-plane-richard-dawkins-twitter).

Unfortunately, when I returned to make a similar point on Twitter this week, I foolishly chose a peg that was vulnerable to misinterpretation as self-interested. And the result was a puerile display of sniggering frivolity such as only Twitter can serve up.

Dawkins spends most of the article beaming about all the good works he’s done elsewhere; the honey-related bits are practically a footnote, and he doesn’t even try comprehending the point of the circus.

Admittedly, I needed some assistance to grasp what was happening. But when Dawkins is faced with tweets like (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/11/he-had-a-little-jar-of-honey/)

@RichardDawkins Oh. And @rebeccawatson not wanting creeps hitting on her in lifts is *not* a matter of PRINCIPLE? #DoubleStandards

What excuse does he have?

“Religious” Epistemology

[Originally posted to the Freethinkers mailing list (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/d/msg/freethinkers-club/5suqBnx811I/l5pNp2epxbQJ)]

One of my “top 3” talks from Imagine No Religion 3 was Peter Boghossian’s on “Street Epistemology (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=orW1AstN7AI).” He proposed we should switch from arguing about what we believe, to how we believe it. The majority of theists are expecting you to nitpick over interpretation, so they can tut-tut over your broad generalizations and misunderstandings; a more foundational approach would throw them off-balance.

I should give that lecture another watch, actually, to see if Boghossian made a common mistake: thinking that theists use a different epistemology than atheists.

Both actually use an empiric Bayesian epistemology.

Continue reading ““Religious” Epistemology” »

Selective Skepticism

[Originally posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/d/msg/freethinkers-club/0aFrTC8Eu-Q/XLfyfLkI6sQJ).]

I love it when an argument flies off on a tangent and lands at a bizarre conclusion.

You’re probably all aware that I strongly disagree with Jamy Ian Swiss and Steve Novella, at least when they argue that science has nothing to say about untestable claims (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/d/msg/freethinkers-club/W5Q6-ba1-Xo/Uk3OoqsQozUJ). You’ve gotta deny that Ockham’s Razor is a part of science to make that work, which is a clear absurdity. TAM caused this controversy to flame back into life, via a Facebook tussle involving Randy Tyson and several prominent skeptics.

Buried within that flame-war, however, was an innocuous-sounding question: can we say with certainty that life exists somewhere else within the universe? Continue reading “Selective Skepticism” »

Leah Libresco’s challenge

[First published to the Freethinker’s Google Group (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/94b604f79c84f09d).]

I’m incredibly fascinated by tales of atheists turning theist. Part of it comes from how impossible such a move seems to me. My own arguments have gotten to the point that I’m close to calling myself gnostic; I’m at a complete loss to think of any path that would lead me to theism, short of brain damage.*

So when Leah Libresco made a splash (http://www NULL.patheos NULL.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2012/06/this-is-my-last-post-for-the-patheos-atheist-portal NULL.html) by switching from atheism to Catholicism, I was beside myself! Here was a high-profile blogger, spelling out in detail why she made the transition. Excellent, time to put a theory of mine to the test! Continue reading “Leah Libresco’s challenge” »

Signs of massive electoral fraud in Canada

Can’t write, quaking with rage (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/lousycanuck/2012/03/27/tories-made-6000000-calls-had-two-lists-refuse-to-give-records-to-elections-canada/)

57 ridings received misleading robo-calls, that we know of. That’s how badly they wanted this power to ramrod five years worth of Conservative policies into place — even if this election was 100% in the bag for them, THEY STILL CHEATED. And they’re yelling and screaming for the Libs and NDP to show their phone records while they themselves refuse to account for their own activities.

Harper and his government have evidently subverted democracy. Whether or not this swayed a single vote, it shows exactly what these people are capable of, and to exactly what depths they’ll stoop.

HJ Hornbeck

Historian Fight!

[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/b8a9c5bad04eb764?hl=en)]

This time it’s Richard Carrier vs. Bart Ehrman. The latter posted a brief article on the historicity of Jesus (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544 NULL.html) in the HuffPo; in true historian fashion, Carrier’s rebuttal is about five times as long as the original. Here’s a quick sampler (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/carrier/archives/667/):

Continue reading “Historian Fight!” »

Unorthodox Cures

[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/30913581477c3e33)]

Have a problem with heroin addiction in your community? Try prescribing the addicts a little heroin (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/nataliereed/2012/03/21/well-i-cant-really-get-boners-but/)!

Continue reading “Unorthodox Cures” »

Pro-life or Anti-choice?

[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/freethinkers-club/CgKr5zBAd70)]

After carefully mulling it over, I recently decided to start calling the “pro-life” camp “anti-choicers.” During the recent abortion flare-up, I got called out for it on FB, which led to this:

Continue reading “Pro-life or Anti-choice?” »