That incompatibility problem

On Saturday in Melbourne, I'm going to be giving a talk on the incompatibility of science and religion. Now what happens? Another eruption of those accommodation arguments, and I've got this big pile of stuff I could say right now, but I'm going to hold it in, so it's at least a little bit fresh for the end of this week. Until then, read Larry Moran, who has it covered.

I am particularly appalled that Larry's comments contain that hoary old chestnut, "science can't explain love," with the bizarre claim that "No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny." I think otherwise. There is a naive notion implicit in that statement that scientific scrutiny is somehow different from critical, rational examination. I'd argue the other way: no decent human being should live an unexamined life.

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I am particularly appalled that Larry's comments contain that hoary old chestnut, "science can't explain love,"

Ah yes, the fear of a materialist universe. Every intangible has to be the result of the supernatural because... because... well, JUST BECAUSE!

"No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny."

And here I thought that curiosity should be a primary job requirement to be a scientist.

By Akira MacKenzie (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

A huge travesty has occured with most my fellow classmate who have seen criticism of ideas as not needed and wrong. I try telling them all ideas need to be criticized to become valid and their they think I am crazy. They don't understand my sluggish voice a wide vocabulary. How do I traverse this gap next time the argument comes up?

By dude070012 (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Larry's comments contain that hoary old chestnut, "science can't explain love,"

Uh, no, they don't.

"No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny."

Really? What tests did you do on yourself to see if you love your wife and children? Hormone testing, eegs, what? Thinking about things is not "science" per se. Science is empiric investigation. Nor is the question whether "love" can be scientifically investigated, the question is whether individual scientists do it before they decide who they love. The issue was Larry's assertion that scientists have to approach everything as a scientific question. I doubt that is true but if you want to publish your peer-reviewed study of whether or not you love the trophy wife, I'd be interested in reading it.

By John Pieret (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

no decent human being should live an unexamined life.

Bravo, PZ! May I steal that quote and use it elsewhere (with appropriate attribution, of course)? This is in harmony with my long-held (and oft challenged, even here at Pharyngula) idea that science is a way of life.

By Kausik Datta (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Actually, science can explain love. It's called 'oxytocin'.

My bumper sticker explanation of why religion and science are incompatible:

Religion is magical thinking.

All the rest is semantics and obfuscation.

Oh, god. Do the religious folks totally forget to think, or do they just not know how?

Science is the systematic search for truth about the material world, and science is the great body of information discovered in that search, information that is all most likely true.

Science came from natural philosophy, which was the application of philosophical methods of determining truth to the material world.

Philosophy is the search for truth in love, religion and all other non-material things. Philosophy asks questions like, "What is love?" and, "How do I know that my wife loves me?"

Science is a branch of philosophy.

A scientist probably has a much more philosophical outlook than some yoyo who believes that the universe is run by blue fairies.

By Menyambal (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

I wrote a long essay on the incompatibility of Science and Religion a while ago. This may interest/entertain some of you.

G. Landry (2009). "The Dirty Window", The Head Bomb. Accessed 8 March 2010.

Comments and feedback are always welcomed.

John, yes, we carried out a long period of empirical investigation. It's called "dating". Both my wife and I studied the problem carefully, and if I'd been a jerk or she'd tormented me cruelly, we'd probably have reached the rational decision that we shouldn't marry.

I really don't understand how people can fail to recognize that we do carry out critical examinations of others and ourself. Love doesn't just pop into existence in the absence of knowledge or experience.

And as I predicted, you do have a naive view of what "scientific" means. It does not mean hormones and eegs. You don't have to put on a lab coat to do it. It's simple, rational, evidence-based thinking.

Love: a remarkable neureo- electro-chemical phenomena.

PZ wrote:

It's simple, rational, evidence-based thinking.

Yes, and - as we all know - that makes Baby Jesus cry.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

John, yes, we carried out a long period of empirical investigation. It's called "dating".

Hee. So when theists insist that they have "experienced" God they are being as "empiric" as when you and the TW cuddled up?

And as I predicted, you do have a naive view of what "scientific" means. It does not mean hormones and eegs. You don't have to put on a lab coat to do it. It's simple, rational, evidence-based thinking.

Damn! Sounds like philosophy to me. I think science is better than that.

By John Pieret (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

The comments to the Moran and Wilkins piece are frustratingly obtuse, as is Pieret's here. The point is not that everything one does must pass scientific scrutiny, and anyone who asserts that equivalence should forfeit any claim to be taken seriously. That isn't what Moran or Coyne or Myers are arguing.

The argument is pretty simple: religious tenets no more pass scientific scrutiny than astrology. That's it! If you contend that religious belief and scientific practice are orthogonal, you've conceded the point.

Yawn, obtuse thinking going on. Love is biochemistry. God is imaginary. Big difference. And no philosophy involved.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

The point is not that everything one does must pass scientific scrutiny, and anyone who asserts that equivalence should forfeit any claim to be taken seriously. That isn't what Moran or Coyne or Myers are arguing.

Then why can't scientists hold theistic beliefs that don't pass scientific scrutiny?

By John Pieret (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

John Pieret @ 11:

So when theists insist that they have "experienced" God they are being as "empiric" as when you and the TW cuddled up?

Stop being an idiot. People who don't critically think about a relationship aren't usually in a lasting one.

Shocking that it's only the non-scientists who imply that science must be done in labs by people in white lab coats.

Pieret: "Damn! Sounds like philosophy to me. I think science is better than that."

Are you suggesting that I was just imagining things when we had long conversations? That first kiss was just a fantasy?

Seriously, man. Human beings actually interact physically and intellectually with other human beings -- we have evidence. People are always measuring each other up on the dating scene. Watch an eHarmony ad sometime.

Then why can't scientists hold theistic beliefs that don't pass scientific scrutiny?

Some do. We consider them idjits. And they are very tightly compartmentalized. Total rational scientists realize the concept of deities is false. There are no deities, as there is no evidence for any. Much less for that diety come lately Yahweh.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Shocking that it's only the non-scientists who imply that science must be done in labs by people in white lab coats.

Ah, so "science" is done by armchair "thinkers" who do no empiric investigation? Well, its been fun but I've long ago gave up spitting into hurricanes. Have fun reinforcing your beliefs.

By John Pieret (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Strawmen aside, Pieret is obviously being intentionally dense to avoid conceding a point.

Didn't the preacher, Matthew Maconahay, say essentially the same thing when he asked the scientist, Jodie Foster, in "Cosmos" to prove she still loves her dead father blah, blah, blah, that's just like faith in god.

Seems like the same specious comparison.

Don't feed the Pieret troll. All it does is twist whatever words it pretends to be responding to, into unrecognizable shapes.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Yawn, obtuse thinking going on. Love is biochemistry.

Or as Al Pacino said in The Devil's Advocate: "Love? Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate."

Sophistry is done by trolls who don't understand science, philosophy, or the lack of physical evidence in deities. They name is Pieret.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

John Pieret is right! My deep undying love for John Pieret is not subject to rational examination!

John: So when theists insist that they have "experienced" God they are being as "empiric" as when you and the TW cuddled up?

In a way but in a effort to get in a zinger you are actually scoring an own goal. The fact that both love and spiritual experiences can be explained by chemical processes in the brain and even induced by drugs only reflects badly on the theists' case.

The implication that my "I" that loves and experiences my life is just a situated mess of neuro-chemical processes does not in any way demean those things. It does totally eliminate your whole spiritual basis however.

That a complex chemical soup can know love, honor, virtue and vice is really kind of a subtle and wondrous thing. More so that no gods are needed to eliminate the wonder of it all.

By ukko.myopenid.com (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Sheldon Cooper: When a female witnesses an exhibition of physical domination she produces the hormone oxytocin. If the two of you then engage in intercourse, this will create the biochemical reaction in the brain which lay people naively interpret as "Falling in Love".

I love the Big Bang Theory :)

Ah, so "science" is done by armchair "thinkers" who do no empiric investigation? Well, its been fun but I've long ago gave up spitting into hurricanes. Have fun reinforcing your beliefs.

Not to get nerdy, but...

Reminds me of the first Foundation novel where the foppish Imperial noble who fancies himself an amateur archeologist says that he didn't actually have to go examine the artifacts of some lost civilization to conduct proper research. All he had to do was read about it.

By Akira MacKenzie (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Again, John, with the bogus conflations. When you're told that science doesn't require white lab coats, you leap to the strange conclusion that it must be equivalent to armchair philosophizing. No.

I did not sit in an armchair 35 years ago and decide without empirical input that I loved a woman name Mary Gjerness and she in turn loved me. That would be creepy. Neither did I strap her down to a surgical table and take hormone samples while showing her photos of myself. That would be creepy, too. But we did rationally evaluate our experiences with each other and came to a reasonable conclusion, much like everyone else who has experienced love.

Ah, so "science" is done by armchair "thinkers" who do no empiric investigation?

Wrong. Love is an emotional response to real-world input. Theism is a response to absolutely nothing except your own delusions, or those of others.

From love for another person to faith in an invisible entity isn't even at the level of an argument; it's simply a piss-poor comparison.

The message I'm getting here is that I need to try sex in a lab coat.

By Blake Stacey (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

The divorce courts are full of people who believed that their critical faculties were irrelevant to choosing a mate.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

blockquote fail:

Ah, so "science" is done by armchair "thinkers" who do no empiric investigation?

Wrong. Love is an emotional response to real-world input. Theism is a response to absolutely nothing except your own delusions, or those of others.

And ach, I didn't just dittohead PZ, I swear.

The divorce courts are full of people who believed that their critical faculties were irrelevant to choosing a mate.

*snap*

By Blake Stacey (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Akira MacKenzie:

Reminds me of the first Foundation novel where the foppish Imperial noble...

Oh snap! The guy with the speech affectation. I wanted to punch him off the paper.

I'm a little worried. I love John but he keeps ignoring me. What should I do since questioning my belief that I love him is not an option?

John Pieret (aka "catshark") is a lawyer, so he argues like one. There's no requirement for lawyers to match the intellectual honesty of scientists, so don't expect him to follow that standard.

By dexitroboper (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

I'm going to make myself unpopular by saying a good thing about NOMA, which is that anyone who advocates it, which includes nearly all accommodationists, has already conceded that science and religion are, if not, incompatible, at least incommensurable.

The dispute over compatibility is political. The other side insists that we are demanding that all scientists become atheists when we're only insisting that religion does not compel our respect.

I'm going to make myself unpopular by saying a good thing about NOMA, which is that anyone who advocates it, which includes nearly all accommodationists, has already conceded that science and religion are, if not, incompatible, at least incommensurable.

Indeed. Now if we could only get them to understand / admit that.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

windy, you don't need any words from John. You love him, just assume he loves you, too. Just take it as a personal revelation.

Me @37, 35: Two posts where I use a distinct phrase similar to one used by the commenter before me.

Thanks to Ginckgo @ #34 for posting the link to the article by the religion editor for “The Age.” It sounds as though he is looking forward to covering the conference and it will be interesting to read his take on it.

I'm going to make myself unpopular by saying a good thing about NOMA, which is that anyone who advocates it, which includes nearly all accommodationists, has already conceded that science and religion are, if not, incompatible, at least incommensurable.

Indeed. Now if we could only get them to understand / admit that.

What's one more compartmentalisation between friends?

By Gimleted Insect (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Blake Stacey@ 32: The message I'm getting here is that I need to try sex in a lab coat.

And/or an armchair.

I recommend doing the latter while you're still young and flexible.

Ron Sullivan

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

@Akira: The "science can't explain love" is just one example of the general "science can't explain X" trope. It's really "Science doesn't currently explain X, therefore (a) science suxxorz (b) science is wrong, (c) goddidit". In some cases even the basic claim is wrong (for example, just look at any bullshit from McReady-Price).

Science can't explain the triangle, but unless you're Rene Descartes that's no proof there is a god. It never fails to astound me how people don't realize how silly those "science can't ..." claims are.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Thanks to Ginckgo @ #34 for posting the link to the article by the religion editor for “The Age.” It sounds as though he is looking forward to covering the conference and it will be interesting to read his take on it.

That's funny. What I got from that article is that he is looking forward to sneering at the conference. I will bet money that he already has half or more of his "take" written. All he needs to do is quote mine a little and there you go.

Seriously, after reading that and the previous one, how can you doubt what his "take" will be?

Oh, and on behalf of all the atheists attending (damn, I wish I was one), I want to thank him for his "support". He mentioned how much he "supported" the conference several times. Big of him, especially since he has already made it clear he thinks nothing "positive" will come from it. In the previous article he said he didn't know what atheists had to talk about. Doesn't sound like a man ready to really listen, now does it.

PZ wrote: I'd argue the other way: no decent human being should live an unexamined life.

Well, after all, Socrates said it 2400 years ago: The unexamined life is not worth living.

By https://www.go… (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

"No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny."

Really?

So you're challenging your own claim? If you want to challenge PZ's statements, you ought to quote those and not your own.

As for yours, perhaps you can explain why, by subjecting all of her or his beliefs to scientific scrutiny, a scientist ceases to be decent. Does this apply just to scientists, or to other people too? What if they subject all but one of their beliefs to scrutiny ... are they still just a little bit decent?

Oh, I know, it's indecent to subject your claims to scientific scrutiny.

Fool.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

science can't explain love,...

This quote from Carl Sagan comes to mind:

Is is often said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But it does no harm to the
romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.

Quote taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/badastronomy/4225457069/

By jcmartz.myopenid.com (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

The point is not that everything one does must pass scientific scrutiny, and anyone who asserts that equivalence should forfeit any claim to be taken seriously. That isn't what Moran or Coyne or Myers are arguing.

Then why can't scientists hold theistic beliefs that don't pass scientific scrutiny?

Leaving aside whether that's a strawman (well, it is) ... because "not everything" doesn't mean "nothing", silly.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Socrates:
The unexamined life is not worth living.

Anon:
The unlived life is not worth examining.

By Roger Migently (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

blacksteel42 asks if people will be at the pub...

Yes I'll be there. So at least there'll be two of us...

Dale

By https://www.go… (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

I have received confirmation from Victoria that it's still on, in the first floor bar, with Chloe

By Chris Nedin (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Cheers Dale & Chris,

Looks like a party of three at least.

I'll be the nervous looking kiwi ordering pints.

By blacksteel42 (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Just to recycle a good old joke:

Two undergrads are dating. One of them comes back from a lecture and says "I learned today that the emotion we call 'love' is explicable on the basis of neurochemistry". The other replies "See- I told you it was real".

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Incidentally, part of Pieret's idiocy is that he doesn't understand the difference between a conclusion being _reached_ by scientific scrutiny and being _compatible_ with scientific scrutiny. The belief that your mother loves you is probably instinctive. If she behaves in ways that are compatible with her loving you- mine certainly always has- than the belief, though not reached by rational means, is compatible with rationality and survives rational investigation. If, on the other hand, she mistreats you, then we have a clash.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

PZ summed up why love is an empirical issue on another thread.

He pointed out that evidence is the difference between mutual love and stalking.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

Posted by:
PZ Myers |
March 8, 2010 10:24 PM

Neither did I strap her down to a surgical table and take hormone samples while showing her photos of myself. That would be creepy, too.

Oh shit. I have to go do something, be back in a bit.

@ Stephen Wells, 59:

Wow and I've never come across it before. It's a good joke though, mostly because it's actually a good response to a bad argument :)

I'll be stealing that one for reuse in the future

By Haruhiist (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

It always annoys people when they say you can't detect or measure love. I just ask, "How many songs are there about the difference between saying you love someone and actually acting like it?"

By sorceror171 (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Well there's religion and then there's religion if you know what I mean. It is said that fragments of the True Stick of Sydney Crosby are hidden in shrines known as Tim Horton's throughout Canada and that images of him have spontaneously appeared on walls throughout the land. Portents of the one True Fatih I think.

Or as Al Pacino said in The Devil's Advocate: "Love? Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate."

I don't know about Al Pacino, but I couldn't eat that much chocolate…!

And I can eat a lot of it, thank you very much :-)

I love the Big Bang Theory :)

X-D

<lying on the floor with chest and stomach cramps>

Two undergrads are dating. One of them comes back from a lecture and says "I learned today that the emotion we call 'love' is explicable on the basis of neurochemistry". The other replies "See- I told you it was real".

Lovely :-}

Darwin’s notes on marriage - where he listed reasons for and against marrying.

Nice.

fragments of the True Stick of Sydney Crosby

Ouch. The cramps are back. Laughing silently can be a pain.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Stephen Wells #60 wrote:

Incidentally, part of Pieret's idiocy is that he doesn't understand the difference between a conclusion being _reached_ by scientific scrutiny and being _compatible_ with scientific scrutiny.

He's also making category errors in his analogies.

Believing that you love your mother = believing that you love God.

Believing that your mother loves you = believing that God loves you.

Believing that your mother exists = believing that God exists.

That last one, is the important one. Atheists don't doubt that the theist feels love for "God." They don't doubt that the theist feels as if "God" loves him. No, we'll grant all that, for the same reasons we'd grant that the theist loves his mother, and believes that his mother loves him.

But we're not putting quote marks around "mother."

That's the meat of the argument. In which category of claims, do you place "the existence of a disembodied creative intelligence which controls the universe?"

Is it a value? An expression? A taste? A goal? An emotion? A commitment? A language game? A social identity? A personal affirmation?

Or is it a fact claim? Like saying you have a mother, and you didn't just make her up in your head.

"God" doesn't get to be a claim of fact, but hey, let's treat it like it's one of those other kinds of things, every time a critic gets too close, by confusing the boundaries. Maybe they won't notice, if I don't.

No. We noticed.

@AnneH #5 well I was gonna post that if you sniff her ass and it smells right it must be love but your post was more scientific while mine is more of a poll

By broboxley (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

The belief that your mother loves you is probably instinctive.

Pieret wasn't talking about knowing that someone loves you, but rather knowing that you love them -- while Pieret may indeed be displaying idiocy, it is truly idiotic to make this mistake and not understand the importance of the difference.

If she behaves in ways that are compatible with her loving you- mine certainly always has- than the belief, though not reached by rational means, is compatible with rationality and survives rational investigation. If, on the other hand, she mistreats you, then we have a clash.

Only if "X loves Y" and "X mistreats Y" are logically inconsistent, but they aren't.

It always annoys people when they say you can't detect or measure love. I just ask, "How many songs are there about the difference between saying you love someone and actually acting like it?"

Neither saying you love someone nor acting like you love someone is the same as loving someone. While behavior can be indicative of whether someone is in a particular mental state, it isn't definitive.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

P.S.

To argue against that you will need to ignore or dismiss actors and cons. Suppose that a woman marries a very wealthy but very old man, acts for a couple of years like she deeply loves him, and inherits his money. Then someone finds her diary in which she wrote about her plans to seduce him for his money, and about what disgust she feels for him but how she's willing to degrade herself to become rich. Obviously she didn't really love him. But suppose that diary never did come to light ... does that mean that she really did love him? What about another woman who also married a very wealthy but very old man and inherited his wealth after a couple of years of loving devotion, but never wrote such a diary, never had such intentions of seducing him for his money, never felt disgust toward him. These two women are outwardly behaviorally identical, but they are not identical -- one loved her husband and the other didn't. They acted the same way and said the same things but had different mental states. (Some day we may have scientific instruments that can detect and characterize such mental states, although I think there are good technical reasons to doubt it.)

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

So when theists insist that they have "experienced" God they are being as "empiric" as when you and the TW cuddled up?

If someone's relationship with a human had the same characteristics as their relationship with god, we would label the relationship dysfunctional or possibly even deranged.

- You talk to this person all the time, but they never reply, or give any indication they are even listening.

- They never do *anything* for you, not even when you beg them, weeping.

- You credit random things you see around to their intervention, even when you have no good reason to think they were involved.

- Despite all of this, you are completely sure they love you, and nothing anyone could possible say or do say would change your mind.

That is not a relationship... that is you being a stalker.

That is not a relationship... that is you being a stalker.

Or being in grief over a departed one.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

I won't go quite so far as to say that only the unexamined life bears living...but I do think it's close. Compulsively and minutely examining one's motives and beliefs may very well help you define some things more clearly. But it's just as likely to be paralysing and self-crippling. Once you start asking whether your motives are really valid, where do you stop? And it's always far-too-easy to find some discreditable or suspect fragment of a motive somewhere...

Love may well be purely biochemical, but is it so hard to see how that devalues caring for a particular person? If it's all chemicals, then at least in principle you could inject yourself with the right cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters and feel for the next person to walk into the room exactly what you're now feeling for a given Signficant Other.

I like Darwin's notebook with its columns pro and con. That's a lovely wry self-deprecating humourous thing. But of course he already had serious feelings for his future bride and knew, I rather think, how the final tally would go.

By DesertHedgehog (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Or being in grief over a departed one.

True and sad. There is obviously strong overlap between the underlying causes of belief in the existence of god and dead loved ones.

Love may well be purely biochemical, but is it so hard to see how that devalues caring for a particular person?

I do find it hard to see that which is quite false. But if it is the case that true facts about the world somehow devalue a feeling or action, then so they do; bemoaning it won't change it, and it's a shabby reason to avoid knowing things.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Love may well be purely biochemical, but is it so hard to see how that devalues caring for a particular person?

Yes, it is "so hard". I completely disagree that knowledge of a process diminishes the wonder of the process--in fact the opposite is demonstrably more true: The knowledge we have of our universe is incalculably more wondrous than some wooly notion that the sky is a bowl with pinpricks in it. Similarly, technical knowledge of the intricate workings of my reproductive organs or of my neurochemistry in no way attenuates the overwhelming adoration (produced by the latter) I have for my children (produced by the former)--or their father (intermediate accessory between the former and the latter).

I mean, really? The more you understand something the less 'real' it becomes? That's fucked up.

By jenbphillips (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Posted by: DesertHedgehog | March 9, 2010 2:55 PM

I won't go quite so far as to say that only the unexamined life bears living...but I do think it's close. Compulsively and minutely examining one's motives and beliefs may very well help you define some things more clearly. But it's just as likely to be paralysing and self-crippling. Once you start asking whether your motives are really valid, where do you stop? And it's always far-too-easy to find some discreditable or suspect fragment of a motive somewhere...

I sometimes say that the overexamined life is not worth living.

Posted by: DesertHedgehog | March 9, 2010 2:55 PM
Love may well be purely biochemical, but is it so hard to see how that devalues caring for a particular person? If it's all chemicals, then at least in principle you could inject yourself with the right cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters and feel for the next person to walk into the room exactly what you're now feeling for a given Signficant Other.

Right, but I developed feelings for my Main Squeeze without injecting those chemicals.

By truthspeaker (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Love may well be purely biochemical, but is it so hard to see how that devalues caring for a particular person?

Yeah. It is hard to see that. Similarly, it's hard to see how similar thought patterns against a backdrop of temporal and geographical proximity devalues the relationships I have with my friends.

If it's all chemicals, then at least in principle you could inject yourself with the right cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters and feel for the next person to walk into the room exactly what you're now feeling for a given Signficant Other.

Yeah. So what?

Consider the last meal you enjoyed. Did you wring your hands over the fact that your enjoyment of the food itself was due in no small part to the biochemistry of your likely low blood sugar at the time? Do you sleep when you're not tired so as not to devalue your enjoyment of a good night's rest with the knowledge that being tired is also a biochemical condition?

What's so magical about love, other than that it's kept many a writer and poet in business over the ages?

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Something came over me, some internal bio-cocktail waterfall, filling the nerves around my heart, broiling certain synaptic processes, inhibiting others in an explosion of blinding, inexplicable love, not to mention the temporal engorging pressure release cycles.

It's like a finely tuned watch I found on the road one day and thought it was God because it had porn on it, but it just turned out to be an iPhone.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

If it's all chemicals, then at least in principle you could inject yourself with the right cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters and feel for the next person to walk into the room exactly what you're now feeling for a given Signficant Other.

Actually, it's false in both practice and principle. While it's possible in principle to induce by something that's generally like the feelings you have for someone by dosing you with oxytocin or electrically stimulating a certain point in your brain, to get exactly the same feelings would require intricate neurosurgery of a sort that there's no reason to think is feasible.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

@ 81

to get exactly the same feelings would require intricate neurosurgery of a sort that there's no reason to think is feasible.

Apples and orange colored genetically modified apple clone fallacy. These feelings of well being, and ecstasy can be reproduced, even surpassed with basic manipulation of the CNS by drugs that have been around for decades.

But the 'feelings' yall are eluding to are linked to emotional states associated with memory, history with the lover, a nebula of cognitive architectures and instinctual drives if children are in the mix.

It's no big deal to manipulate someone's body chemistry to induce feelings of deep emotional, and what many describe as 'spiritual' love, but the stuff wears off.

Sharing lives together doesn't wear off, and truth machine is accurate to describe that as medically impossible, because the intricacy of manufacturing chemicals that would produce memories as well as corresponding emotions is not feasible.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Love may well be purely biochemical

It is a good idea to notice that in formulations of this general type, little words like "purely" or "merely" are doing one hell of a lot of work. And that that work is more emotive than semantic.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Love Potion Number Nonapeptide

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

So, PZ, did you use science to confirm your belief that Sarah Palin was a criminal taking advantage of free Canadian health care, or did you simply let your religious belief in the evil of all conservatives confirm your belief that she's a hypocrite? You're a scientist after all, so why couldn't you check to confirm that she was only 5 years old and that it was her parents who actually paid for non-socialist health care? Or are science and religious compatible after all? I mean, you belief the fairy tales you learn about world history, don't you?

By dfminardi (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi, care to quote that to which you are supposedly responding? There's nothing related in the post, best as I can tell.

By John Morales (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

John, I'm merely responding to PZ's pretense that he uses science to justify all of his beliefs. I'm referencing his previous post on Sarah Palin in which he perpetuates false claims that she took advantage of 'free' Canadian health care, when in fact her family paid for health care in Canada, for her brother, when she was 5.

It's silly to pretend that you use "science" to make judgments about people you know next to nothing about and when you believe the silliest things that people make up about them. But since PZ claims that getting to know someone is "science," I imagine that next he'll say that blindly believing false crap that other people tell you is science, too.

If PZ claims to be a decent human being who subjects all of his beliefs to scientific inquiry, then he should man up and not peddle false crap about politicians that he hates just because it fits his narrative.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi:

I'm referencing his previous post on Sarah Palin in which he perpetuates false claims that she took advantage of 'free' Canadian health care, when in fact her family paid for health care in Canada, for her brother, when she was 5.

Then, that's where you should be posting.

It's silly to pretend that you use "science" to make judgments about people you know next to nothing about and when you believe the silliest things that people make up about them.

Well, it would be, were it done.

If PZ claims to be a decent human being who subjects all of his beliefs to scientific inquiry, then he should man up and not peddle false crap about politicians that he hates just because it fits his narrative.

Your opinion is noted.

As is your out-of-thread self-righteous sniping.

By John Morales (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

[blockquote] I'm referencing his previous post on Sarah Palin in which he perpetuates false claims that she took advantage of 'free' Canadian health care, when in fact her family paid for health care in Canada, for her brother, when she was 5.

[blockquote]Then, that's where you should be posting.[/blockquote][/blockquote]

Um, no. I brought up a belief shared by PZ which was clearly not subject to scientific scrutiny in this thread where he claims to 'think otherwise' to an assertion that "No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny." Did you even read the original post?

By dfminardi (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

Gah, sorry for using brackets instead of <>.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi, first it's I'm referencing his previous post on Sarah Palin, then it's Did you even read the original post?

So, were you referencing the original post, or another post, and if the latter (as you earlier claimed), why is it you're posting here and not there?

By John Morales (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

John, I was referencing the Sarah Palin post to respond to the original post by PZ in THIS thread. How is that not clear when I am explicitly questioning his claim to subject all his beliefs to scientific scrutiny? He pretentiously claims that to do otherwise is to lead an 'unexamined life.' Well then apparently his lack of due diligence in examining the false claims about Sarah Palin must mean that PZ leads an unexamined life. So this must either be unacceptable to him or he must not be a decent human being.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 09 Mar 2010 #permalink

So, PZ, did you use science to confirm your belief that Sarah Palin was a criminal taking advantage of free Canadian health care, or did you simply let your religious belief in the evil of all conservatives confirm your belief that she's a hypocrite? You're a scientist after all, so why couldn't you check to confirm that she was only 5 years old and that it was her parents who actually paid for non-socialist health care?

Other commenters may have raised the prospect of Palin's family inappropriately getting free health care across the border, but PZ did not:

she hates that socialist health care, but she admits that she would regularly hustle across the border to take advantage of Canadian health care. I think it's really cool that she so willingly identifies herself as a parasite, a thief, a hypocrite, and a good Christian.

"Parasite" and "thief" are as close as you can come to specific allegations, but these and similar labels are used by Republicans against people hopping over the border to take advantage of US health care (and who obviously must also pay for it).

She's a hypocrite for bragging about doing it, when she and her associates have claimed that socializing health care results in a sub-standard system (...yet apparently good enough for border-hopping and still paying for).

Are you going to go back and examine whether your accusations are false?

And don't drag arguments from one article into another, it's rude. How about any further responses, you post back here where they belong?

So calling someone a thief and a parasite isn't a specific allegation that that person has stolen something? Are you really defending PZ by saying that you don't think he really believes that Sarah Palin was a thief and a parasite?

Sure, I'm willing to revisit any claims or accusations that I make, but I certainly don't pretend that I subject every belief to "scientific inquiry." But when it comes to making inaccurate conclusions based on vague statements in order to confirm your chosen narrative, PZ seems little better than anyone else.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Yawn, dfminardi, why aren't you over on the Sarah Palin thead? Or are you just too stupid to understand thread content and topics?. Being an arrogant and stoopid liberturd explains all the above.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,

PZ says here that one should subject one's beliefs to scientific scrutiny, ie critical rational examination. He doesn't say that one can't make mistakes. I'm sure if there is evidence that shows him that he's been wrong in his examination of a particular belief, he'll be the first one to recognize it.

This all seems very obvious, but no, you just want to trott the tiring "I'm concerned about what PZ wrote".

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Some people seem to be very confused over what PZ meant by scientific.

I am pretty sure he did not mean scientific in the strict sense but rather in the sense that indicates an empirical approach based on observation and evidence. In fact I would have thought it was obvious he was using the term in the looser sense given the context.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Of course he meant "scientific" in the loose sense, looser than the sense used by the person that he was disagreeing with. He did so in order to accuse them of living an "unexamined life." It's a dishonest rhetorical trick.

Will PZ alter his beliefs about someone based on new information? Sure. Does he actively seek out the source of negative information about people he doesn't like in order to confirm it's truth? Likely not, and certainly not before he passes it along. If you call that "subjecting all of your beliefs to science," then you're stretching the word "science" beyond all recognition.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

So calling someone a thief and a parasite isn't a specific allegation that that person has stolen something? Are you really defending PZ by saying that you don't think he really believes that Sarah Palin was a thief and a parasite?

Mz. Palin is attempting to withold the benefits of a socialized system of medicine from her fellow citizens
- while working in and for jobs that give her the benefits of such a system -
and at the expense of the people she wishes to deny these selfsame benefits to.

Thief, parasite.

Next.
(Disclaimer: No, I am not speaking for or on behaf of PZ in this case - I imagine he's fully capable of doing so for himself if he considers the question worth his time and effort - this is just my take on things.)

Anri I see that you stretch the meaning of the word "thief" as much as PZ stretches the meaning of the word "science," each of you doing so to confirm your worst beliefs about your imagined enemies. Bravo, sir.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

John: So when theists insist that they have "experienced" God they are being as "empiric" as when you and the TW cuddled up?

No, because there was solid prior evidence that the TW actually exists as a physical entity (peer reviewed by mutual acquaintances!).

Not so much with "god".

Whether science can or cannot "explain" love is to be determined in the future, but is also irrelevant.

Science can investigate love. Science can document love. With science we can learn something about love.

That is enough.

Anri I see that you stretch the meaning of the word "thief" as much as PZ stretches the meaning of the word "science," each of you doing so to confirm your worst beliefs about your imagined enemies. Bravo, sir.

Well, I might be willing to argue that the definition of thief includes 'one who, for selfish reasons, denies innocent people something that they deserve', but ok, I'm more than willing to hear your term for that kind of behavior. If it's not theft, as you say, what would you call it?

Also, am I correct in that you are not arguing against the use of the term 'parasite'?
And if so, would you expect us to nod sagely and say "Well, she's a parasite but not a thief - that's ok then, she's good to go."?
Would you, in fact, expect any sensible person to say that?

amphiox #104 wrote:

Whether science can or cannot "explain" love is to be determined in the future, but is also irrelevant. Science can investigate love. Science can document love. With science we can learn something about love. That is enough.

What, you call that an "explanation?"

No, only religion knows how to explain "love." Love is a FORCE which comes from a love SOURCE which is made out of love SUBSTANCE which is the love SPIRIT which works through love POWER derived from love BEING which is impelled by love ENERGY which works because of love ESSENCE, as a free choice to LOVE.

There, now that is enough. You just can't get more thorough than an explanation like that.

Palin was called a "parasite, a thief, a hypocrite" and the looneytarian is whining because she isn't a thief. It's like someone convicted of murdering his parents asking for mercy because he's an orphan.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

I hold _all_ my beliefs to scientific scrutiny, and having many of them pass said scrutiny, and myself being a better, more decent, more moral, if evidently more rude human being because of it, I refuse to accept for myself any belief that does not.
For examples:
I have found a harsh truth to do less harm than a soft lie with my daughter, and she is happier than other children who have been raised with soft lies, and about the same as others who have been raised with the same sometimes harsh truths.

I do not deny people their right to believe what they wish, but if their belief is in conflict with evidence I have seen, I point out that evidence. This brings them no harm, and may change their belief or not, and sometimes they find further evidence than I do, and I learn something as well.

Durable Love cannot exist without scientific scrutiny, for without is only momentary passion, and passion fades into the animal desires from which it spawns. Only with further discovery via scientific scrutiny of not necessarily scientific methods, can Love endure.

Scientific scrutiny is not chemical analysis, though chemical analysis is scientific scrutiny. The same as saying a planet is not Jupiter, though Jupiter is a planet.

Yes an armchair philosopher can exercise scientific scrutiny without empirical evidence, and the results of that scrutiny are likely flawed if not wholly wrong, but 'my wife tells funny jokes' is, despite your contrary assurances, empirical evidence.

I don't really care to argue about Sarah Palin in this thread, except to say that it's quite a stretch to call her a thief and a parasite based on the actual evidence unless you're willing to call everyone who benefits from tax dollars in any way a thief and a parasite. Is she a hypocrite? Of course.

But does PZ submit his beliefs about Palin to scientific scrutiny? No, because he doesn't want to find out when the negatives things that he believes about people aren't true.

I don't even claim that there's necessarily anything incredibly wrong with that because we all do it, but let's not be pretentious and claim to submit every single belief to scientific scrutiny.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,

Suppose you're right that PZ doesn't submit his views about Palin to rational evidence-based scrutiny, and that he comes to the wrong conclusion about her.

If so, that doesn't undermine his point in this thread; if anything, it supports it, unless you're just making an ad hominem argument, which would of course be invalid.

If PZ is wrong for failing to critically analyze his views of Palin, based on the best availabe evidence, doesn't that suggest that people who fail to analyze their own beliefs---e.g., religious beliefs---are similarly wrong?

That is, aren't they wrong to have faith in ideas that they accept without serious, evidence-based ratioinal scrutiny? (I believe that they are.) And aren't those beliefs themselves likely to be wrong? (As many people's religious beliefs evidently must be, because religions typically disagree with each other on central tenets.)

Whether or not PZ is a hypocrite for failing to take evidence about Palin into account properly your argument that PZ is wrong about Palin in what he says in the other thread seems to implicitly concede that he's right about what he's saying in this thread---one should be rationally critical about one's own views.

Right?

By Paul W., OM (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

I don't really care to argue about Sarah Palin in this thread, except to say that it's quite a stretch to call her a thief and a parasite based on the actual evidence unless you're willing to call everyone who benefits from tax dollars in any way a thief and a parasite. Is she a hypocrite? Of course.

But does PZ submit his beliefs about Palin to scientific scrutiny? No, because he doesn't want to find out when the negatives things that he believes about people aren't true.

I don't even claim that there's necessarily anything incredibly wrong with that because we all do it, but let's not be pretentious and claim to submit every single belief to scientific scrutiny.

In other words:
"I don't want to argue the specific example, but if you take what I say seperate from what was actually said, it's still right."

At the risk of re-starting a nasty ongoing fight here, are you a philosophy student?

Paul, I simply question PZ's using himself as an example in order to disagree with the statement that no scientist submits all of his beliefs to scientific scrutiny. I don't necessarily disagree that one should critically examine all of his or her beliefs, though if they are inconsequential, I don't think it's all that important. And if PZ thinks it's inconsequential what he believes about Sarah Palin, then he is probably less likely to critically examine his beliefs about her because he's content to just believe the worst of her. I get it.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

At the risk of re-starting a nasty ongoing fight here, are you a philosophy student?

dumfuck isn't a philosopher, he's a looneytarian. That's even worse. At least philosophy has some intellectual justification. Looneytarianism is solipsism used to justify greed, selfishness, egocentricity, and stupid economics.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,

And if PZ thinks it's inconsequential what he believes about Sarah Palin, then he is probably less likely to critically examine his beliefs about her because he's content to just believe the worst of her. I get it.

Yes, your opinion is clear.

It may be uncharitable, speculative and ill-informed, but it's clear.

We get it.

By John Morales (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Anri, no, I'm a math teacher. I don't care to discuss Sarah Palin's intelligence or hypocrisy, but I've already said that I think it was improper to call her a thief or a parasite, or at least to say that she readily identifies as such while advancing the false claim that she somehow stole free health care from the Canadians. If you were simply calling her a thief and a parasite because she used to subside on tax income, that's a different story.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Love is a FORCE which comes from a love SOURCE which is made out of love SUBSTANCE which is the love SPIRIT which works through love POWER derived from love BEING which is impelled by love ENERGY which works because of love ESSENCE, as a free choice to LOVE.

which is a building...

which is on fire.

http://lyrics.wikia.com/Talking_Heads:Love_Goes_To_Building_On_Fire

sorry, just struck me...

Yawn, I find it fascinating how liberturds think their opinions mean anything to us. Given their politico/economic idiocies, most of us will just (justifiably) ignore their opinions.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Ah, yes, let's blindly ignore what people say because of other beliefs they might have that aren't relevant to the topic. Way to be scientific and critically examine things!

By dfminardi (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

awww, dfminardi!

you lost your chance to call ad-hominem!

oh well, maybe next time.

dfminardi, you haven't been ignored. Also, it was you who introduced Palin to this thread; how is that relevant to the topic?

Way to be scientific and critically examine things!

You think you made a scientific proposition which required scientific refutation?

By John Morales (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

I see the fuckwit still isn't getting it. On a scale of 1 to 10, his opinion is in negative numbers. Too many liberturds are arrogant, liars, arrogant, ignorant, and arrogant. Which is why they are ignored when they aren't refuted. Change your attitude, which matches the typical liberturd, starting with the concept that we wish to listen to you preach the gospel of morally bankrupt economic/political philosophy, or listen to your opinion on anything ad nauseum. A huge dose of humility is needed.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Anri, no, I'm a math teacher. I don't care to discuss Sarah Palin's intelligence or hypocrisy, but I've already said that I think it was improper to call her a thief or a parasite, or at least to say that she readily identifies as such while advancing the false claim that she somehow stole free health care from the Canadians. If you were simply calling her a thief and a parasite because she used to subside on tax income, that's a different story.

Well, I explained above (#105) what I thought a reasonable definition of 'thief' was, and how it applied to Mz. Palin. You neither rebutted, not gave an alternate term for the behavior described. You're welcome, as you were the first time, to gainsay that and substitute another term for someone who witholds something someone else deserves for personal gain. That sounds like theft to me, and as such, I'll call the person who does it a thief.

As far as 'parasite' goes, I would argue that that could apply quite well to someone who takes advantage of a health care system that was set up and maintained by taxpayer money, when they were not, and had never been, a taxpayer under that system. Unless you want to assume that the hospital she visited made money off of her visit (not impossible, but it seems unlikely), then the balance was paid for her family by the taxpayers of Canada. In short, her family stole, and freeloaded, the difference between the cost of setting up and having available, that hospital, its staff, and their (state-sponsered?) education and the actual dollar amount they paid into the health care system. Hence, parasite.

John, I have to make a scientific proposition to be considered? Nerd was expressing his belief about my ideas that he hasn't even considered because all he knows is that I value guns and I call myself a libertarian. Hell, Bill Maher used to call himself a libertarian, so if you think you can discern every idea someone has just because that person labels himself a libertarian. So has Nerd subjected his beliefs about all my supposed "wacky" ideas to scientific scrutiny?

Anri, I think your definitions are quite stretched and silly, but I don't really care to offer alternates because it's irrelevant to this discussion and because it's silly to demand a single term to describe a particular set of behaviors simply because I think your term is absurd. I'm not participating in the Palin thread because I honestly am more interested in proving that PZ is pretentious and dishonest than in defending the sacred honor of Sarah Palin. If you would like to assert that PZ was using the words "thief" and "parasite" in the stretched sense that you do and if you would assert that he actually tries to find the truth about claims about Sarah Palin before spreading him, then you could perhaps defend his assertion that he subjects all of his beliefs to scientific scrutiny.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 11 Mar 2010 #permalink

Bill Maher used to call himself a libertarian

So what? Are we supposed to be impressed? Bill Maher is anti-rationalist about medicine, so it's not surprising he'd be a looneytarian. If a guy has stupid ideas on one subject he's more likely to have stupid ideas about other subjects like politics, sociology and economics.

I'm not participating in the Palin thread because I honestly am more interested in proving that PZ is pretentious and dishonest than in defending the sacred honor of Sarah Palin.

In other words, you're trolling.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 11 Mar 2010 #permalink

In other words, you're trolling.

As I suspected. Otherwise, he would be at the other thread...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 11 Mar 2010 #permalink

No, the point about Bill Maher is that one can be a state-worshiping idiot who thinks that simply being pro-marijuana legalization and against sodomy laws makes you a libertarian, so being a self-described libertarian doesn't really indicate much about one's beliefs. I certainly wasn't trying to 'impress' anyone by associating myself with a moron like Bill Maher.

How is it trolling to try to undermine the credibility of a statement made by a blogger in opposition to his claim? I'm not just trying to irritate people; I'm actively trying to make a point that PZ is wrong to think that he subjects every one of his beliefs to scientific scrutiny, which is of course relevant to this thread and less relevant to the Palin thread. I mean, that is the topic of this thread, right, whether one can have 'religious' beliefs and still credibly claim to be a scientist?

The only way to say that you can't is by self-righteously pretending that you critically examine every issue before believing anything, which is absurd. No one truly cares that much to critically examine inconsequential things that might not reinforce the narrative they want to believe.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 11 Mar 2010 #permalink

Yawn, how's it going troll to get people to agree with you? Personally, you've been full of shit since your first post. Lose the attitude and actually listen to what we say. You might learn something (oh no, that's not why liberturds post here).

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 11 Mar 2010 #permalink

What am I going to learn from you, who has nothing to say except insults based on nothing but how I identify myself? You have never said anything to respond to anything I have said, and therefore have given me nothing to think about. When I make posts about the topic at hand, and you do nothing but say stupid crap about people who call them selves libertarians, who is the troll, moron?

By dfminardi (not verified) on 11 Mar 2010 #permalink

Anri, I think your definitions are quite stretched and silly,

I disagree, but you know what they say about opinions...

but I don't really care to offer alternates because it's irrelevant to this discussion

Um, not to the discussion we're having - that's what the discussion we're having is about.
If you don't want to have that discussion, just ask, I'll leave you be.

and because it's silly to demand a single term to describe a particular set of behaviors simply because I think your term is absurd.

Well, I didn't demand anything. I asked if you had a better term for her behavior than theft. Either you don't or you don't wish to share it, and that's fine.

I'm not participating in the Palin thread because I honestly am more interested in proving that PZ is pretentious and dishonest than in defending the sacred honor of Sarah Palin.

Ok, so get to it.
So far, all you have done is offered your opinion on his use of language. That's not proof of anything.

If you would like to assert that PZ was using the words "thief" and "parasite" in the stretched sense that you do and if you would assert that he actually tries to find the truth about claims about Sarah Palin before spreading him, then you could perhaps defend his assertion that he subjects all of his beliefs to scientific scrutiny.

If I wished to do so, I wouldn't have posted thusly (#101):
(Disclaimer: No, I am not speaking for or on behalf of PZ in this case - I imagine he's fully capable of doing so for himself if he considers the question worth his time and effort - this is just my take on things.)

...did you read that bit and ignore it, or did you just kinda miss it?

I see the loudmouthed liberturd still isn't getting it. His opinion isn't even worth the electrons used to post it. He has to earn our respect for his opinions, but he did the opposite with his inane rants above, driving his opinion into the dumpster. Repeating his opinions does't show he is right (he isn't), but rather he intends, like any bully, to keep in our face until we agree with him. Not happening.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Hell, Bill Maher used to call himself a libertarian, so if you think you can discern every idea someone has just because that person labels himself a libertarian. - dfminardi

No, but it's not necessary to discern your every idea: anyone calling themselves a libertarian is a fuckwit.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

No, but it's not necessary to discern your every idea: anyone calling themselves a libertarian is a fuckwit.

Knockgoats, you know that's false. I still (intermittently, and perhaps vaguely) call myself a libertarian, simply because it still fits better with my (constantly-shifting) views than any other conventional label. There are many different schools of libertarianism. Some types of libertarian are hardline anti-state ideologues; others are simply people who are broadly inclined towards limited government and individual freedom, and don't have any other appropriate political label. (And some of the best-known hardcore dogmatic "libertarians", such as Ayn Rand and her followers, never even called themselves libertarians at all.) You know all this perfectly well, so why are you making sweeping statements?

If I were to say "anyone calling themselves a socialist is a fuckwit", I would clearly be talking nonsense. Some people who call themselves socialists are hardline irrational ideologues; others are sensible people with whom I might often disagree, but whose intellect I can respect. Why can you not recognise the same about libertarians, who are at least as varied as socialists?

By Walton, Janine… (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink
Akira MacKenzie: Reminds me of the first Foundation novel where the foppish Imperial noble...

Oh snap! The guy with the speech affectation. I wanted to punch him off the paper. - Mr. Fire.

Ah, but remember he turns out to have been "An accomplished diplomat and a most clever man" - to quote (from memory) Salvor Hardin. Talks at great length and carefully makes absolutely no commitments.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Knockgoats, you know that's false. I still (intermittently, and perhaps vaguely) call myself a libertarian - Walton

Quite: you're still (intermittently and perhaps vaguely) a fuckwit.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi:

I'm actively trying to make a point that PZ is wrong to think that he subjects every one of his beliefs to scientific scrutiny, which is of course relevant to this thread and less relevant to the Palin thread.

NO. PZ's point was not that he personally is perfect, and in fact judges absolutely every one of his beliefs rationally based on the evidence, every time.

He was saying that it's very generally a good idea to subject one's own beliefs to rational evidence-based scrutiny, including religious beliefs.

THE ISSUE IS NOT WHETHER PZ IS INFALLIBLE.

Maybe PZ's wrong about Palin. Maybe PZ's stupidly wrong about a claim about Palin, precisely because he has not properly judged the relevant empirical evidence.

For the purposes of this thread, so what?

NOBODY IS CLAIMING THAT PZ IS INFALLIBLE.

PZ was responding to claims like John Pieret's. John said that decent people don't judge certain beliefs rationally according to the evidence.

PZ rightly said that's hooey, and that one should not exempt those views from rational scrutiny, and that failing to exempt them does not make one not a decent person.

You are trolling, because you keep refuting a claim nobody was actually making, apparently because you want to discuss the subject of another thread in this thread, where it's irrelevant.

Take your tu quoque fallacy elsewhere.

By Paul W., OM (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,
Actually, the best arguments I see against libertarianism come from the behaviors of libertarians themselves. Any ideology that feels it must reject science to maintain its validity has pretty much thrown in the towel in my opinion. It doesn't matter whether the science is biology or climate science--it's about as close to understanding physical reality as we come. If you have so little confidence in your ideology's ability to cope with the challenges posed by reality that you reject reality, then you are by definition a nutjob.

I have yet to see a libertarian propose anything remotely constructive when it comes to mitigating climate change.

By a_ray_in_dilbe… (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Some types of libertarian are hardline anti-state ideologues; others are simply people who are broadly inclined towards limited government and individual freedom, and don't have any other appropriate political label.

Walton,

everybody is inclined towards limted government and freedom.

[ranting mode on]

There aren't many people nowadays who believe that the entire economy must be governed by the public. Neither are there many who believe that absolutely nothin must be governed by the public.

The question is : where are the limts ?

Moreover, only total fuckwits don't understand that our individual freedoms cannot bemaximized without taking into acount the freedoms of others.

Only total fuckwits don't understand that maximizing our own individual interests doesn't necessarily lead to an optimum for the entire community.

Only total fuckwits don't understand the concept of externalities.

So it's obvious to anybody who is not a total fuckwit that we need a certain amount of long term planning that is done for the interests of the community, by the community. There are entire parts of the economy, if not most, that need to be regulated by the government. And these regulations need to be in line with a strategic vision about the future we want to build for ourselves and the future generations.

All cannot be like the early American wild west, the "vision of the Jeffersonians" : an immense underpopulated land where there are no apparent limitations of critical resources. An immense land scarecely populated by a small population of yeoman farmers who mostly depend on their own farm to survive. A society almost independent of technology, industry and commerce.

Only total fuckwits don't understand that an energetic and visionary government consisting of the most gifted and reasonable men and women is in the interests of the community. A strong government that is capable of guiding us through an uncertain future, of recognizing risks for the community that are more longer term in the horizon and might be neglected by the vast majority of human beings who only seem to be preoccupied with the most immediate risks.
The criticisms made by Alexander Hamilton , influenced by Hobbes and Montesquieu after the publication of the wealth of nations are even more valid and recognizible nowadays.

The problem with libertarian fuckwits that seem to populate mainly anglo-saxon countries is that they don't understand that once we have consumed far too much resources, it is in the interest of the community that we force ourselves to consume less. And it is in the interests of the community that we try to do this avoiding several major wars in the upcomming century that destroy a substantial part of humanity and force the remaining part to consume less for a while. Unlike what we did last time we had this problem during the great depression.

If we are not careful enough, if we cannot guide ourselves through the turbulent times that lie ahead, the economic depression and the possile wars that will result will be so much more intense than during the last century.

Because when the availability of critical resources starts diminishing a certain nnumber of countries are going to want by force to guarantee the availability of sufficient resources for their populations.

More than ever before in our past hundred thousand years of history do we need to take strong bold decisions in the interests of the entire community of humans on this planet.

We know from history that only those civilizations that were nimble enough and capable of long term planning were able to avoid total collapse. Except this time the civilization is the quasi entire human population dominated by an economy that is based on a limitness growth of the amount of critical resources we consume.
We need to adapt, we need to change our wasteful cornucopian habits. Otherwise the future that lies ahead is going to be catastrophic, and I'm not even sure I won't have to live through this within the next 30 + years that I still have left according to the actuarial tables. I don't want to see a world of much greater misery in my lifetime. Nor do I want that for the generations that follow.

I want a world with less misery, and I don't think we are going to have that if the libertarian conservative fuckwits that seem to influence so much the policy decisions of a certain number of large developped nations don't stop fucking up our future.

We must defend the freedom of expression, so please, libertarians, can you start considering those things in a rational way, can you be more reasonable ? Why can't you change ? Stop being libertarian fuckwits and start becoming more humane and considerate of all your fellow human beings and other species who populate this earth.

Otherwise, pleaaaaaase shut the fuck up.
[ranting mode off]

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Any ideology that feels it must reject science to maintain its validity has pretty much thrown in the towel in my opinion.

Isn't that the role of religions ? To reject science and try to make sure we base some of our decisions on superstitions and myths ?

Some people say Islam is the most dangerous religion. Others say its Christianism. That the biggest risk to our future is a clash between the western world dominated by Christianism and the "islamic world". I don't agree, I think libertarianism with its superstitious myth of the invisible hand and its denial of reality, of the existence of a peak in oil production, of the existence of AGW and its potential consequences, is the most dangerous religion we have to confront in the future.

There is however a big intersection between Christian fuckwits and Libetarian fuckwits.

They are not exactly identitcal, there are a few libertarian non believers, mainly in anglo-saxon countries.

That means there are a few non believers who have abandoned all Gods and superstitions but one (like the other religious folks), those who still believe in the magical powers of the invisible hand.

I've always thought it was

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Paul, the discussion isn't about whether PZ is infallible. PZ, by disagreeing with the statement that "No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny", believes that there exists some scientist that subjects all of her or her beliefs to scientific scrutiny. Then PZ already knows of some scientist that does so, or not even that belief of PZ's is at all critically examined.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,
I disagree, I subject every one of my beliefs to scientific scrutiny--at least to the extent that I try to ensure that they are compatible with known science. I believe that most scientists (certainly not all) do the same.

By a_ray_in_dilbe… (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,

PZ, by disagreeing with the statement that "No scientist that is also a decent human being subjects all her/his beliefs to scientific scrutiny", believes that there exists some scientist that subjects all of her or her beliefs to scientific scrutiny. Then PZ already knows of some scientist that does so, or not even that belief of PZ's is at all critically examined.

Give me a break. Do you really think PZ literally meant that anybody is absolutely perfect in that regard.

That's just not what it is about.

It's about whether there's a category of beliefs that it's not a good thing to scrutinize rationally, and even a good thing not not to scrutinize rationally.

Hyeesh.

This isn't a matter of PZ failing to scrutinize the idea that there's any particular person who absolutely never fails to scrutinize some idea or other, for any reason.

It's a matter you missing the point completely, and literalistically fixating on claims that nobody---nobody---is actually making.

By Paul W., OM (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi@139,
Crap. Disagreeing with that statement does not commit one to the belief that there is even one such scientist: only to the belief that subjecting all one's beliefs to scientific scrutiny is compatible with being a decent human being. I know you'll claim otherwise because the literal sense of the sentence is that there does not exist any X such that X is a scientist, X is a decent human being, and X subjects all X's beliefs to scientific scrutiny; but either you're extremely stupid (that may indeed be the explanation since you're a glibertarian), or you know that in interpreting natural language you have to take account of context rather than pretending you are dealing with a self-contained proposition expressed in first-order predicate calculus. You can see just how stupid the literal interpretation is by noting that the existence of a non-scientist who is a decent human being who subjects all their beliefs to scientific scrutiny would falsify it. Do you really think that is what the writer intended? Now stop trolling, and fuck off.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Ach - "would falsify it" - > "would be compatible with it"@142

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Indeed the statement is in fact entirely trivial, even in context. So why does PZ label it "bizarre," disagree with it, and assert just the opposite?

By dfminardi (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

@133

Salvor Hardin

do you mean Hari Seldon?

No, he doesn't.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

ok, it's been too long since I read the Foundation books.

negentropyeater,

Moreover, only total fuckwits don't understand that our individual freedoms cannot bemaximized without taking into acount the freedoms of others.

Only total fuckwits don't understand that maximizing our own individual interests doesn't necessarily lead to an optimum for the entire community.

Only total fuckwits don't understand the concept of externalities.

Great strawman there.

By Walton, Janine… (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi@144,

Crap. It's not trivial; it is absurd. Can you really not tell the difference? "Stalin was a wonderful democratic leader with a fine appreciation of science" is absurd, but not trivial - and indeed, I've heard similar things said in all seriousness. The statement PZ objected to is quite typical of religidiot bletherings aiming to show that irrationality is acceptable.

Walton,
A strawman is a position no-one takes. You cannot seriously pretend that we haven't had plenty of glibertarians through here who take exactly the views negentropyeater is attacking. You weren't so far from them yourself not long ago.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

"The statement PZ objected to is quite typical of religidiot bletherings aiming to show that irrationality is acceptable."

It's not just about being rational. You can be rational and still believe all sorts of hogwash. It's about whether or not you subject your beliefs to actual critical analysis, confirming information before you believe it or spread it, and questioning your assumptions about everything. If you claim that there exists a scientist, let alone any that are decent human beings (which I'm sure most are), that does that with every single one of his beliefs about everything, I don't buy it.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi,

You can be rational and still believe all sorts of hogwash. It's about whether or not you subject your beliefs to actual critical analysis, confirming information before you believe it or spread it, and questioning your assumptions about everything.

So you claim.
Why not be consistent, and apply your contention to your own opening comment:

So, PZ, did you use science to confirm your belief that Sarah Palin was a criminal taking advantage of free Canadian health care, or did you simply let your religious belief in the evil of all conservatives confirm your belief that she's a hypocrite?

What is your basis and evidence for considering PZ has those particular beliefs, and how did you confirm this, before proceeding to chide?

What were your assumptions, and how did you question them?

By John Morales (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Walton,

Great strawman there

I see no evidence that libertarians are starting to think about those issues in a rational way.

All I see is them becoming even more entrenched in their denial of environmental externalities, in their denial of peak oil, of AGW. I see them fighting against any attempt by the community of humans to try to overcome these problems.

Crickey Walton, why do you think Cap and Trade is stalled in the senate, why is it so difficult to reform health care in the US if not because of the ridiculous mythical beliefs of these libertarian fuckwits ?

The internet is full of them, and you are telling me that I'm making a strawman ? You must be joking.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

John, I'm not the one contending that I do subject all of my beliefs to scientific scrutiny; I'm the one contending that it's trivial to say that no one does. So let's not play the "you too" game.

I think that the false meme that PZ spread that somehow Sarah Palin, and not her brother, was "stealing" Canadian health care that their parents paid for was patently false, and it's pretty clear from context that that was the implication, but there's always the remote chance that PZ is just really sloppy with what he means and what his words imply.

By dfminardi (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

dfminardi, yes, so you've said many times now.
Your opinion is noted.

Regarding PZ's purported religious belief in the evil of all conservatives: Do you really think that?

By John Morales (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

Do I think he literally believes that all conservatives are evil? No.

Do I think he is inclined to assume the worst of them and more inclined to believe false negative stories about them? Absolutely.

But if it's scientific to say "I believed this fake story about Sarah Palin because one of my trusted liberal blogs said it," then it might as well be scientific to say "I believe in God because my best friend told me He exists."

By dfminardi (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

If PZ had attacked Obama instead of Palin then would the looneytarian be so indignant about PZ's misstatement? Somehow I doubt it.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 12 Mar 2010 #permalink

The liberturds opinion is noted and rejected for inanity. Just like all liberturd screeds.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 13 Mar 2010 #permalink