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Friday, December 28, 2012

The pig, she flies!

In which I actually agree with Ed Brayton for once:
I tend to bristle at the idea of judging a blog by its comment section. As Jamie Kilstein said a few months ago, the comment section at PZ’s blog is the 7th circle of hell. The one here is often scarcely better. Even I cringe at what is clearly — yes — tribalism that goes on in the comments section. It’s just the nature of the beast and it’s happened to me on both ends. A quick story:

A few years ago I criticized Richard Dawkins for signing a petition that would make it illegal for parents to teach their kids about religion. The comment section was descended upon by hundreds of his acolytes, saving me up one side and down the other. I was misinterpreting the petition, they said, and how dare I criticize someone who had done so much for atheism when I was just a lowly blogger, and so forth. After a while Dawkins himself showed up and said I was right, that he hadn’t read the petition closely enough, that he did not favor such a law and he’d asked them to remove his name from the petition. Even after that, many of his followers continued to excoriate me.

I’ve had the same thing happen here on the other side, where someone has shown up in the comments and criticized something I wrote. They were hammered like mad by many of my readers and I had to jump in and say, “Wait a minute, he’s actually got a point.” That makes me even more uncomfortable than being on the receiving end of it. We are all prone to tribalism and to shallow thinking, including those who regard ourselves as skeptics who are above that sort of thing.
I'm not keen on judging a blog by its comment section either, except in that one can judge the character and self-confidence of the blogger by how he manages his comment section.  Here at VP, for example, there is actual debate among people who disagree with each other and with me.  In the posts this week alone, there are numerous regulars disagreeing with me about the limits of the Constitution's ability to guarantee God-given rights as well as a vigorous debate on the permissibility of gun control between commenters.

PZ, as far as I have seen, is actually quite good about permitting critics to comment freely at Pharyngula, the problem there is not that he cannot bear dissension, but rather that his commenters are such a clueless collection of mid-witted ideologues that most critics stop uselessly banging their head against the wall of idiocy there before long.  I actually respect him much more than many other bloggers in that particular regard.

But Brayton is entirely correct to point out that the self-styled skeptics are every bit as tribal and superficial as those they make a habit of denigrating.  This is a point I have been making for literally years, and it is good to see that some of the more vocal members of the skeptic community are willing to openly acknowledge it.

Labels: ,

144 Comments:

Anonymous jack December 28, 2012 9:35 AM  

Brayton's blog might be worth some reading. Suppose I should; just to get some more of the 'other' side. Whatever the other side is.

In the realm of the Holy Spirit there isn't really supposed to be another side, way I see it. Course that's definitely wishful thinking.

I wish I could come up with some decent reason for the loud, disjointed and vicious rhetoric generated by what we call the radical left. That is except for conspiracy plots by the government using mind control, drugs or whatever. Guess the most succinct reason would be the lord [lower case l by design] who is dominant till the True One appears on the Sunday talk shows. Now that would be a sight!

Anonymous Susan December 28, 2012 9:36 AM  

I think PZ doesn't allow comments because he is secretly ashamed of all the stupidity and ignorance his own beliefs attract and he can no longer defend it. There are some real Ph.D's in stupid out there right now.

I like to read here because it is so entertaining sometimes watching the ilk regulars playing with the cat toys.

Anonymous jack December 28, 2012 9:36 AM  

@jack: Make that ;lord of this world' in the above comment.

Anonymous jack December 28, 2012 9:40 AM  

@Susan:
I like to read here because it is so entertaining sometimes watching the ilk regulars playing with the cat toys.

OK, Susan; you nailed it with the probable money quote of the day. You may now go and make yourself a nice breakfast and/or walk in the park. Really, I like that descriptive.

Anonymous DrTorch December 28, 2012 9:41 AM  

I find it funny that these new atheists are seeing the same symptoms:
Cultisim ("tribalism")
Hatred
Envy
Strife
Blindness to reason

in mankind that the Bible calls "sin". Yet they are hyper-critical of the Bible and its believers, while the atheists offer no sensible theory as to why those conditions exist, no do they propose any solutions, other than their belief of disbelief (materialistic atheism). Meanwhile, they observe (correctly) that it is some of the most fervant followers of their belief that offer the loudest, clearest display of these sins. Yet they insist on drinking from the same fount.

It is really that simple analysis that would give any truly rational thinking man pause, and insist that he come up with a different belief system. Thus they are fools. And whatever vanishingly small amount of factual information they could provide to me is not worth the cost of suffering through their inanity.

Anonymous Azimus December 28, 2012 9:48 AM  

I suppose we must therefore confess to believe that it is good we have Tad and all his forebears, for all their dodgy half-answers and pedantic commentary. Freedom and all that.

I try ever so hard not to be a sycophant. I appreciate the ilk who do likewise.

Anonymous Susan December 28, 2012 10:15 AM  

Thanks Jack. Already had breakfast. I make great corned beef hash. After the recent election, I sensed that the gates on the dam that has been holding back all the evil until now have been opened just slightly. What we are seeing now is just a foretaste of the nightmare still to come. I can't recall seeing such emotion and anger over the stupidest stuff.

For instance, I saw this morning that a vet took offense at an anti-Obama bumpersticker on another vet's car and held him at gunpoint until the police arrived. This country is truly losing its collective mind.

Anonymous Kickass December 28, 2012 10:23 AM  

I read here for the comments Vox stirs up.

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 28, 2012 10:24 AM  

"I'm not keen on judging a blog by its comment section either"

Personally, there are many blogs which I read only for the original posts and never touch the comments; there are only a few in which I actively engage.

I quite admire VD's intellectual individualism, although I must admit he blogs a lot about things which I simply don't share an appetite for (not that it matters). What I like most about this place is the sense of a commitment to true conversation: everyone (or most people), even Tad, really engage and interact and respond with one another in good faith, the true sense of a proper salon in action. I hate comments threads (no matter how intelligent) where commenters just show up and spew their singular opinion and then withdraw. Total snore.

You guys like to genuinely talk, instead of just pronounce. The difference is night and day. Y'all should be proud of that. As the great Jacques Barzun once said, the most refined human art of all, is the art of conversation.



Anonymous VD December 28, 2012 10:24 AM  

I think PZ doesn't allow comments because he is secretly ashamed of all the stupidity and ignorance his own beliefs attract and he can no longer defend it.

No, Susan, you missed the point. PZ's position on comments is much more similar to mine than most. He doesn't require registration and permits a broad range of commentary, even though one seldom sees it on his blog.

Anonymous stevev December 28, 2012 10:34 AM  

I often disagree with VD. I just don't deign to let the Ilk see me shame him with my superior logic.
Heh.

Blogger Doom December 28, 2012 10:36 AM  

I don't know. Judging a blog by it's comments seems fair enough to me, in that half of what I read, or less, is the initial post by the blogger while the rest and often the majority of the read is in the comment section. If the blogger is good, he wades in and plays his part. So, I disagree with you for the most part. I will say, I won't judge the blog on a few bad apples, pro or con. I will judge on the balance of readership expressed through comments and of course the blogger's participation.

If you blog the greatest seeming stuff, but your whole comment section is nothing but idiots... You are doing something wrong, somewhere. Especially for these big read, public debate, type blogs. This blog is... like reading classics, while they are being written, as if those were written about current events, by the people who could write them... Save for some of us yahoos. :p If atheists can't see the poison of that apple through their own comment section... It's like the old saying, What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, she's already been told twice. (just playing my yahoo role, nothing to see here)

Anonymous The other skeptic December 28, 2012 10:55 AM  

I think I have never seen a more brilliant example of ...

Anonymous Daniel December 28, 2012 11:00 AM  

It starts, however, with fairly open non-policing, though, Doom. I judged Pharyngula a long time ago by about two or three posts (unfair and closed-minded of me, I know, but I can't help how I evolved) but the comment policy simply helped emphasize the relatively amorphous, non-definitive, spasmically "controversial" nature of the posts.

However, if you look at Scalzi's blog in contrast (where he overpolices comments and strokes his imaginary banhammer of loving correction with a squick and burbling squee), you get an artificial sense of his responsive readership.

Scalzi's posts are superior writing to PZ Meyers: He's got more gifts as a columnist, and his chief concern is not content, but character (his own). [He's lost his fastball, though, which was never stellar but far more regularly entertaining now that he's officially Brand Reboot.]

However, his comments are a regulated fan-fest, little more. Meyers' comments are a self-limited brand of near idiocy.

I guess my point is that PZ's blog is D-level content with D-level commenters. Scalzi's is C-level content with artificially restricted D-level commenters.

A little housekeeping (clearing spam and obvious derailments) goes a long way. Stroke the hammer until your lady parts tingle, and your comments end up sinking like a rock.

Anonymous Tad December 28, 2012 11:05 AM  

@Vox Day

I'm not keen on judging a blog by its comment section either, except in that one can judge the character and self-confidence of the blogger by how he manages his comment section

I think you are absolutely correct here. The comments section of a blog or online vehicle can't reflect anything about the content created by the blogger for the most obvious reasons. And the comments almost always are not the creation of the blogger. The fact is, most bloggers really have little relationship with their readership. That is to say, they write, they open for comment, and they move on.

You seem a relatively fair moderator of comments. However, I will note that I've noticed that you are I far more likely to to ask me to respond to direct questions from others than you are to aske others to respond to direct questions of mine. I've asked others a number of questions that are never answered and I've not had you go to bat for me.

But this is trivial observation of mine. It's just not too concerning to me. I get the dynamic at play here and it's fun nonetheless.

Anonymous Daniel December 28, 2012 11:13 AM  

I've asked others a number of questions that are never answered and I've not had you go to bat for me.

Tad, if the question is important to me, simply invoke the rule yourself and ask the question directly. The reason why you are called on by Vox and others so frequently to "simply answer the question" isn't because you are singled out, it is because either the people you question simply answer your question or, if it goes unanswered, you don't invoke the rule and ask the question enough.

I've seen commenters invoke the rule and question three or four times before the questioned even comes around to realizing it's been asked.

Sadly for me, my advice to you in that situation is to...ugh...

post more.

In other words, the failure to have your questions addressed lies solely on your shoulders. You aren't special, just less competent.

Anonymous Unending Improvement December 28, 2012 11:30 AM  

"In other words, the failure to have your questions addressed lies solely on your shoulders. You aren't special, just less competent."

On the other hand, the comment section rapidly fills up. I don't spend all my time browsing here, and I'm too lazy to go back and find my posts from before. Even if I did so, the conversation has already moved way past it, thus there is little point to continue.

Anonymous Daniel December 28, 2012 11:37 AM  

If the question is important, circle back to it. It happens all the time. The problem with Tad and his puppets are that he never has a substantial or important question. If it was important to the dialectic, he'd do what everyone else does and repeat it until it was answered.

This may only be model rocket science, but it is clearly beyond the grasp of the handicapped and rhetoric-bound.

Anonymous The other skeptic December 28, 2012 11:56 AM  

Meanwhile, that big fat hypocrite, Michael Moore, has had one of his armed body guards tripped up in NYC.

Some are more equal than others.

Anonymous VD December 28, 2012 12:01 PM  

However, I will note that I've noticed that you are I far more likely to to ask me to respond to direct questions from others than you are to aske others to respond to direct questions of mine. I've asked others a number of questions that are never answered and I've not had you go to bat for me.

Yes, because you were developing a habit of posting in response to newer comments without responding to previous questions. Also, you tend to run on a lot. As a general rule, if you've produced more than 10 comments per post, you need to rein it in a little. No one enjoys monologues in the comments.

Play by the rules and I'll keep the others in line whether you agree with me or not. Don't, and I won't. It's pretty simple.

Anonymous Zartan December 28, 2012 12:06 PM  

Huh, stumbled on this in the comments. Ranum is a bit out of his league when he strays from InfoSec...

"No, Jesus wasn't a philosopher. Nor were any of his disciples. If you think about it, if Jesus really was god come-to-Earth, he did the most piss-poor performance possible. It could have only been worse if he'd worn a gag arrow-through-the-head hat and played banjo. "Oh, I'm not here to actually talk philosophy or teach, I'm just here to be bloodily slaughtered. And Mel Gibson's going to make $100mil on a movie about it. W00T!"

And people wonder why we atheists laugh at religions."

Category Error: Jesus is God, He doesn't need to be a Philosopher.
And people wonder why we laugh at the "rational, bright" atheists.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad December 28, 2012 12:12 PM  

But this is trivial observation of mine.

Don't be redundant.

Anonymous HH December 28, 2012 12:35 PM  

VD says "Yes, because you were developing a habit of posting in response to newer comments without responding to previous questions. Also, you tend to run on a lot. As a general rule, if you've produced more than 10 comments per post, you need to rein it in a little. No one enjoys monologues in the comments."

I actually enjoy and look for the posts where there's a lot of VD interaction in the comments sections --- it makes for a much more livelier discussion -- especially if its one of the VD hot keys.

But it does point out a issue or perhaps a missing element here and in other blogs .. to be useful for something more than venting and trolling a blog needs some form of active and largely impartial moderating -- especially where people certainly tend to talk past each other.. Internet is great, because we can learn a lot, and hear alot of points of views but it would greater if there was a way to engage in real debate, with moderators and judges -- not the mob rules that is common but something more.. There's an opportunity for a site that manages debate and in the end develops consensus and an answer... you could solve the worlds problems with all the great ideas here if only there was a way to shift through the chaft

Anonymous HH December 28, 2012 12:38 PM  

Chaff -- typo - :)

Anonymous physphilmusic December 28, 2012 12:39 PM  

PZ's position on comments is much more similar to mine than most. He doesn't require registration and permits a broad range of commentary, even though one seldom sees it on his blog.

I disagree, I think I've never encountered a blog where the blogger engages with the commenters in such a direct manner. People here are banned only for not answering direct questions. As far as I've seen they are not banned for things such as using arguments which the regulars consider to be flawed and debunked. Contrast it with how PZ Myers and his harpies deal with commenters on feminism, as documented here quite comprehensively. There's no culture of precisely quoting your opponent's posts in order to show that you're not shooting down a strawman. It's just a trainwreck of emotionalism and false accusations.

Anonymous Porky? December 28, 2012 12:45 PM  

PZ does not police his comments because he has a pack of groupthink hyenas that police it for him.

Similar to the "Shut up Tad" crowd around here but more humorless and have actual power. Two or three shut ups from Nerdofredhead and you will be ban hammered. Try it.

Anonymous zen0 December 28, 2012 12:46 PM  

if only there was a way to shift through the chaff

@HH

Allow the historic method of winnowing to proceed. The lighter stuff blows away in the wind.

Anonymous Tad December 28, 2012 12:49 PM  

@Daniel
Tad, if the question is important to me, simply invoke the rule yourself and ask the question directly. The reason why you are called on by Vox and others so frequently to "simply answer the question" isn't because you are singled out, it is because either the people you question simply answer your question or, if it goes unanswered, you don't invoke the rule and ask the question enough.

That's true. I haven't invoked the rule and likely won't.

It's pretty clear that when I have been engaged in a semi-serious conversation with another person, asked a question and seen it go unanswered that the person is much more concerned with making a particular point of theirs than engaging in a strict back and forth. And I get that. Also, I appreciate the inherent difficulties and limitations in trying to carry out a linear conversation in a comments section.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 12:51 PM  

Brayton is a fat, ruddy chunk of blubber in pink crocs.

Blogger tz December 28, 2012 12:54 PM  

I think the fundamental difference is if one's view is small-l libertarian tolerance. If, in the words of Jefferson, something does not pick my pocket nor breaks my legs (nor does so to a 3rd party, which is sometimes not included), then I can discuss it but agree to disagree - I may be wrong, or I may be right but my arguments aren't sufficient to convince others.

Tribalism is another word for intolerance. Ascribing evil and wanting to eliminate the person because they don't agree.

I would prefer a minimal government at all levels run by those I completely disagree with but have no power to bother me than a micromanaging intrusive government taking my positions on things I consider it tyrannical to impose.

Glenn Beck and Pen Gillette had a talk and the libertarian position on marriage (it is none of the State's business) appears acceptable to both, but they have very different acceptable definitions of marriage.

Blogger Giraffe December 28, 2012 12:55 PM  

Did anybody add Tad to the roster of VQPF?

Anonymous Cryan Ryan December 28, 2012 12:59 PM  

Something has been slowly...slowly sinking into my thick skull lately...

There is ...some cosmic connection...between women's thinking...rabbits....liberal minded folks...Jews....99% of black people...sneaky male cuttlefish who disguise themselves as females....math challenged people... out of shape white guys who get a thrill up their leg, slouching, man boobed economists who clutch their pet cat to their breast while advocating more cowbell, screeching, non-hearing women on the View, a spineless, crying leader of the House, and the Titanic sinking ever lower in the frigid water... with honorable men going to their deaths, women and kids in the lifeboats, alongside a few non- chivalrous type of men who will survive to father the new generations.

Ahhh...the red pill.

I think I'll go let a door slam in a woman's face or shoulder a liberal guy off the sidewalk.

Anonymous Josh December 28, 2012 1:01 PM  

Did anybody add Tad to the roster of VQPF?

Is he fabulous enough?

Anonymous Porky? December 28, 2012 1:03 PM  

Commenter at Brayton's: "The treatment that anyone who isn’t a feminist encounters down here is beyond reprehensible.

Greta Christina: "How would you respond if someone said, “The treatment that anyone who’s a racist encounters down here is beyond reprehensible”? Or, “The treatment that anyone who’s a homophobe encounters down here is beyond reprehensible”?

Have you considered the possibility that you’re treated the way you are because not being a feminist is reprehensible?"


Lol!

Anonymous Clay December 28, 2012 1:31 PM  

Freakin' Tad. Man, you show up like herpes. Enamor ours with your fecal ingested shit. Please do.

Anonymous dh December 28, 2012 1:36 PM  

> I actually respect him much more than many other bloggers in that particular regard.

It's really hard to listen to actual criticism, but PZ's blog is filled with what are basically yes men. It doesn't matter what he posts, he will have 100 people agree with him.

Blogger vandelay December 28, 2012 1:49 PM  

I think you're giving PZ far, far too much credit here. The only reason PZ leaves Pharyngula relatively open to critics is because he's created a community of screaming banshees that will immediately descend on any commenter writing anything even slightly outside of the liberal, socialist, feminist orthodoxy.

Also, PZ probably bans at least a person a day, usually for reasons such as "trolling" which is often taken to mean "disagreeing even after you've been told that you're wrong".

As VD has said several times, "his blog, his rules". PZ can do whatever he wants, but he really shouldn't be praised for fostering an atmosphere that encourages criticism when he does nothing of the sort.

Anonymous jack December 28, 2012 1:52 PM  

@ Unending Improvement

I know what you mean. I often will comment, and sometimes people might like to engage, but I'm on the computer briefly with chores waiting. The chickens need feeding, the outside cat has, once again, gotten into something, etc.
I need to either not comment or plan on sticking around for awhile unless its 3 am in the morning.
Not that most here find what I have to say all that interesting [sigh]

Anonymous VD December 28, 2012 2:09 PM  

Similar to the "Shut up Tad" crowd around here but more humorless and have actual power. Two or three shut ups from Nerdofredhead and you will be ban hammered. Try it.

Ah, I did not realize that, not being a frequenter of Pharyngula.


PZ probably bans at least a person a day, usually for reasons such as "trolling" which is often taken to mean "disagreeing even after you've been told that you're wrong".

That may well be. I wouldn't know. If so, I stand corrected.

Anonymous George Bush December 28, 2012 2:17 PM  

Good.

Shut Up, Tad.

(Just a little preemptive action)

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:23 PM  

Brayton is a banana slorping slob in need of a wonder bra.

Blogger vandelay December 28, 2012 2:24 PM  

I wouldn't know.

In honesty it's been about 6 months since I've visited Pharyngula, so if you're referencing some new development then I stand corrected myself.

All I know is that unless you stand in absolute, and I mean absolute, lockstep with the utmost extreme of liberal and feminist ideologies, commenting on Pharyngula can be one of the most unpleasant experiences the Internet has to offer.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:27 PM  

Brayton is a prissy fat drunk walrus in high-heeled sneakers.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:30 PM  

Brayton is a gigantic talking Massengill douche filled with rancid bacon fat.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:32 PM  

Brayton is a bloated hairy peccary that gives himself barbecue sauce enemas.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:36 PM  

Brayton is an engorged chimp rectum with eyes.

Anonymous Clay December 28, 2012 2:36 PM  

Damn. I thought I was bad.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:37 PM  

Brayton is a sheep bladder filled with the waste from Oprah's last liposuction.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:41 PM  

Brayton is a gin-soaked red-faced farm pig in stretch pants.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:42 PM  

Please deposit 25 cents to continue.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:48 PM  

Brayton is Jabba the Hut after a week of P90-X.

Blogger Crude December 28, 2012 2:50 PM  

Regarding PZ Myers.

If you want to see a good example of how he runs his blog, and what sort of comments go on there, I recommend this thread. To say nothing of what happened with "Atheism+" and Freethoughtblogs and all.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:54 PM  

Brayton is Ruth Bader Ginsberg stuffed in a giant sausage casing and inflated to 150 psi.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:08 PM  

Brayton is a slobbering, incontinent Janet Reno after a 3 year steady diet of bourbon and Velveeta.

Anonymous J. Doe December 28, 2012 3:15 PM  

Danny Boy December 28, 2012 2:42 PM

Please deposit 25 cents to continue.


How much to stop?

Anonymous A Horse Without A Rectum December 28, 2012 3:17 PM  

No shit.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:18 PM  

Brayton is a wet, putrid cheesecloth filled with Star Jones' bulimia vomit.

Anonymous Noah B. December 28, 2012 3:20 PM  

Oh, Danny Boy.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:21 PM  

Brayton is a rotten leftover haggis that Chris Christie discovered in one of his folds.

Anonymous Clay December 28, 2012 3:29 PM  

Danny is a Yankee! Go figure.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:33 PM  

Brayton is a florid complected ectomorph.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:35 PM  

Brayton is a roseate scrotal sack filled with gravy and malt liquor.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:40 PM  

Brayton is a florid complected endomorph.


Anonymous Josh December 28, 2012 3:43 PM  

What is this mick's point? That he doesn't like this Brayton person (whoever the hell that is)?

Anonymous Clay December 28, 2012 3:46 PM  

He prolly wants to felch him, in reality.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:47 PM  

Brayton is a fuchsia-faced pot-bellied urine-drinking twinkie-gorging gravy-guzzling bourbon-sucking lard-engorged slobbering basset hound in size 62 mom-jeans.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 3:48 PM  

But other than that he's a fine fellow.

Runs a decent blog, he does.

Blogger Log December 28, 2012 4:22 PM  

On the other hand, I have seen VD "disappear" some comments at times.

Anonymous The Man December 28, 2012 4:32 PM  

Lately I've been scanning for Tad's comments in addition to Sarah's Daughter, VD, occasionally Daniel though he's often just a Voxbot, also Stickwick and some others such as the Shutup Tad guy and Loki. Even the occasional excrement-spewing atheist. I don't read a lot of blogs, but the comment section here is practically worth the blog itself.

Anonymous The Man December 28, 2012 4:40 PM  

I'll probably start looking for Danny Boy now too.

Anonymous Daniel December 28, 2012 5:29 PM  

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

Anonymous The Man December 28, 2012 6:02 PM  

That's probably true in this context. I'm essentially only a reader, very rarely commenting, and that affords me certain luxuries the intellectual athletes don't have. I get to judge from the readers' perch and dismiss or praise whomever I choose.

Anonymous Cryan Ryan December 28, 2012 6:08 PM  

There was a lad, Tad, a real stinker:
He fancied himself quite a thinker,
He would lay out foul bait,
Which each day, sure as fate,
The ilk would take hook, line, and sinker.

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 6:34 PM  

I have only attempted to comment at Meyer's site once. It was in a linked post by VD involving rape and the so-called "rape culture". Myself and several quant bloggers began posting comments involving hard data related to rape, things like correlations between rape and class/income/ethnicity/fatherlessness. All of us were banned.

However, my Sunday School teacher from many years ago comments there regularly and is a believing Christian - doesn't get banned. But then he is a committed leftist and shares all their politics so his theism is just some weird "man in the sky" stuff that they find amusing.

Don't try arguing with Meyer's or his sycophants using hard data applied to practical application because you will get banned in short order. I vaguely recall other quant bloggers being banned for the same sort of stuff. Meyers is fine with comments invoking God or the Bible because they think it's nonsense and just mock it, but they don't find it fun to get trounced through the use of empirical data.

Anonymous VD December 28, 2012 6:48 PM  

On the other hand, I have seen VD "disappear" some comments at times.

I delete Anonymous comments every day. I less frequently delete comments that violate the rules, usually because they are posted by people who have been told to answer direct questions and still refused to do so.

Anonymous MendoScot December 28, 2012 7:35 PM  

And then there are the self-deleting comments. This was a constant problem after I installed NoScript on Firefox. The culprit appeared to be blocking either google.com or google-analytics.com.

OTOH, if this comment disappears...

Anonymous Shutup, Tad December 28, 2012 7:36 PM  

Cryan Ryan has decent limerick chops. Must be genetic.

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 8:00 PM  

@ VD

I would have you consider banning people who conflate "prove" and "demonstrate". No, I'm not being funny and I'm not talking about the colloquial conflation of the words, themselves.

Let's say I note some phenomenon A and claim that A is the product of cause X. A critic comes by and tells me to "prove it". That is inappropriate. The proper response is to counter that cause Y is a better explanation than cause X. The two then provide evidence and argumentation for their respective theories and try to resolve it that way. Sometimes the result is inconclusive and both sides come away thinking they won, but at least they engaged in real intellectual debate.

Tad is an excellent example of the "prove it" type and he does it with such intellectual slickness and sophistication that most of the people he jousts with don't catch what he's doing. He may not be aware of it but he acts as if his positions are always self-evident truths until "proven" otherwise and competing positions are only correct if they have been definitively "proven". This rhetorical trick allows Tad to argue for his positions in a completely ad hoc manner; he already has the conclusion and his arguments are merely window dressing for his conclusions.

In his defense, this seems to be the human default, we psychologically privilege our own views over those of others', and I have see other commenters engaging in the same type of rhetorical strategy.

Anonymous Tad December 28, 2012 8:20 PM  

@Asher

The proper response is to counter that cause Y is a better explanation than cause X.

This is an intriguing formulation for discourse on a blog and particularly for a rule for discourse on a blog. Can you demonstrate how this approach is more proper than others?

Anonymous Shutup, Tad December 28, 2012 9:48 PM  

This rhetorical trick allows Tad to argue for his positions in a completely ad hoc manner; @ Asher

Great. You two can massage each other into oblivion. I got my own rhetorical trick. I call it "Shutup,Tad".

For example:

Shutup, Tad.

Its concise and easy to understand. You don't have to over think it or mull over its perambulations, nor concern yourself with a need for a penumbra.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad December 28, 2012 9:58 PM  

To digress, given the introduction of the philosophical x's and y's and such, as if it was all about algebra, in my system, X = Shutup, Tad, y = Shutup, Tad, and (x + y)(x - y) is (x + y).(x - y) = Shutup, Tad.

It is very elegant, I must say. And, might I add, goes directly to the heart of the matter without any Heuristic Evasions.

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 10:07 PM  

@ ShutupTad

Well, this one time I was on a jobsite and the different crews would take breaks together. One of the crews was comprised of Mexicans who argued that it's not really gay if you're the one who's the top. They obviously had more sense experience so I might just have to defer to their expertise.

Apparently, we can get wisdom out of semi-literate, third-world peasants. So, don't you xenophobes tell me that diversity doesn't make us stronger.

(Or harder?)

Blogger rcocean December 28, 2012 10:09 PM  

The Vox comment section is only worth reading because VD and his wife interact with the commenters and police it a bit.

Otherwise, it be like so many conservative blog comment sections, which are Liberals Trolls vs. Conservative enablers bore-fests.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad's Council December 28, 2012 10:20 PM  

So, don't you xenophobes tell me that diversity doesn't make us stronger. @ Asher

You are making a lot of assumptions that have no basis in my client's body of work. In order to be considered a viable critic, you need to step your game up. You have been exposed as a person who some think needs 1-800 number assistance.

Don't make me need to become interested in your ultimate welfare.

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 10:24 PM  

@ Tad

Already did, in case you missed.

A) First, it's reasonable to infer that anyone commenting on a blog post has some opinions and ideas about the topic
B) I can't point to a specific piece of research ATM but I'm pretty sure that there's some out there indicating that over time people become emotionally attached to their ideas about how the world works. I know I am
C) One consequence of B is that over time people will come to view their positions as self-evident and privilege them in conversation. Those self-evident axioms will take on a sacred hue and their original premises will become obscured as the emotional attachment provides much greater sustenance.
D) But interlocutors and observers will still expect argumentation, which will be provided ad hoc since the original premises are now thoroughly obscured.

I can't say that I can claim much credit as it's simply applying the form of the scientific method (theory-evidence-evaluation-theory) to discussions of politics and social theory. It's not better per se since there is no a priori standard that is empirically better, that would be a contradiction in terms.

The main benefit of this rule would be minimizing ad hoc argumentation.

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 10:27 PM  

@ ShutupTad

You have been exposed as a person who some think needs 1-800 number assistance.

hahahahahahahahaha. I recently tried to get 1 800 assistance but Comcast just sucks.

Anonymous zen0 December 28, 2012 10:31 PM  

Apparently, we can get wisdom out of semi-literate, third-world peasants. So, don't you xenophobes tell me that diversity doesn't make us stronger.

(Or harder?)
@ Asher

Hey, I know what you mean. I knew people that were on a job site in Mexico, a base where they were flew from to spray a dispersant chemical over an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It was supposed to dilute the oil enough so that the oil would be eaten by the bacteria in the sea.

Anyway, some of the locals who were hired to help found it to be a useful lubricant, and were seen mutually masturbating each other with it on the job site. I guess burros were scarce in the area. At any rate, I agree, diversity is our strength, and has been demonstrated to have a hardening effect. I agree with you whole heartedly.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 28, 2012 10:39 PM  

I don't understand why people want Tad to shut up? As if we are going to give up our guns and all become atheists? I think it instructive and actually enjoy his posts. I am rather the guy who doesn't give a damn what he thinks. He is no danger to me as I am not afraid to die first and second it is comedy deluxe.

Anonymous zen0 December 28, 2012 10:48 PM  

I don't understand why people want Tad to shut up?
@ Outlaw X

Oh, X, you are so cute when you are naive. How about them Cowboys? Big Game comin up. Actually, I would like to hear Tad's views on the subject. Maybe he could find his way to comment on the NFL thread, if his handlers let him have an overtime gig. The NFL threads need a bit of goosing, so to speak.

Anonymous Danny Boy December 28, 2012 10:48 PM  

Forgot one-

Brayton is an overstuffed rotten headcheese marinating in a bucket of Rosie O'Donnel's foot sweat.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 28, 2012 11:01 PM  

"Maybe he could find his way to comment on the NFL thread, if his handlers let him have an overtime gig."

That is funny, if he has a gig and being paid for disinfo, he will lose anyway. I find him quite amusing and if that is all the handlers have they are fucked. I figure he is just a contrarian and has a psychological anomaly that makes him that way. It matters not, we win.

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 11:04 PM  

@ zen0

It gets worse. Two of the guys were brothers and in their early 20s spent some time working on the range of a rural ranch in Mexico. Without any prompting they readily admitted to ... well, I hope I don't have to spell it out

@ Outlaw X

The reason why some people have sub-par rhetorical skills and can't keep up with slick operators like Tad. They know there's something wrong but they lack the strict boolean categorization skills necessary to pin him down. One of the things you have to do is compartmentalize your emotional attachment and your theories of how the world works. At the end of the day your real emotional allegiance is to your family and those who love you. Your ideas are just things, you can't take them with you, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

But there is that little problem that people still have an emotional attachment to their theories. Why is this? And then it hit me that this was just a manifestation of the biblical sin of pride, of wanting status and authority beyond what was warranted. The original sin. Why Satan was thrown from Heaven and why Adam and Eve at of the tree of knowledge.

I may be inclined to try to explain all events as manifestations of physical causes but that doesn't stop me from acknowledging the Bible as probably the single greatest complication of wisdom ever produced - I would argue, though, that if you combined the nine most prominent Greek thinkers from Herodotus to Thucydides they would give the Bible stiff competition (and not in the Mexican peasant sort of way).

Anonymous Asher December 28, 2012 11:07 PM  

I find him quite amusing and if that is all the handlers have they are fucked.

Or, maybe you have things backward and this explains how Tad got the job in the first place. Other forms of entertainment have casting couches, why not blog commentation?

Anonymous Outlaw X December 28, 2012 11:23 PM  

"Or, maybe you have things backward and this explains how Tad got the job in the first place. Other forms of entertainment have casting couches, why not blog commentation?"

I have nothing backwards, Tad does and maybe you, don't know. If a man isn't afraid there is no power in the world that he cares about. Then you add the fact of a highly armed population makes Tads arguments even more ridiculous. Just relax and enjoy the holidays and never ever never ever let them bastards take your peace. They lost theirs, don't lose yours.

Blogger Desert Cat December 29, 2012 1:14 AM  

Tad is an excellent example of the "prove it" type and he does it with such intellectual slickness and sophistication that most of the people he jousts with don't catch what he's doing. He may not be aware of it but he acts as if his positions are always self-evident truths until "proven" otherwise and competing positions are only correct if they have been definitively "proven". This rhetorical trick allows Tad to argue for his positions in a completely ad hoc manner; he already has the conclusion and his arguments are merely window dressing for his conclusions.

IOW, his presence here provides the Ilk an opportunity to recognize and refine their responses to such and similar rhetorical devices and other fallacious reasoning. Not a bad addition, if you ask me, as long as he is willing to color between the lines.

I second his nomination to VQPF.

Blogger Desert Cat December 29, 2012 1:16 AM  

I meant to add that, the more clever the opposition the more useful they are to us for learning purposes.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 1:28 AM  

@ Desert Cat

I meant to add that, the more clever the opposition the more useful they are to us for learning purposes.

Agreed. If you tried to argue with the type of shrieking hyenas that congregate at pharyngula you'd learn nothing.

Anonymous twothumbsdown December 29, 2012 4:53 AM  

The air is really stale in here. Ninety comments, basically no dissenters. Not only is there very little commenting here besides the "praise the speaker!" and "let me tell you a gay story that perfectly accords with your sentiments dear speaker!" variety, the level of discourse is so shallow that even the dissenting comments are rarely substantive. VD is like one of the puffed up characters in Macy's Christmas day parade, if the Emperor with No Clothes was one of the characters on display. In that case, representative blog comments would be written on a trailing piece of toilet paper stuck to his butt and Daniel in the form of a dog would be trying to pull it out so he could better get his own nose in there.

Anonymous Onemiddlefingerup December 29, 2012 5:00 AM  

Worst attempt at trolling ever!

Anonymous Outlaw X December 29, 2012 6:44 AM  

"The air is really stale in here."

Wait for Hell, if you think it stale just now. Do you realize the human mind is capable of so much that the petty attempts of the trolls just make men laugh? Welcome my friend or foe you have come into the light out of the darkness.

This life is a big ZERO compared to the next and it is damn short. You are a cry baby and probably always will be one. Hope you live a long life here so you may find the next.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 29, 2012 6:58 AM  

"It's whack a mole, the more you kill the more you make." From a soldier friend of mine (Afghanistan). If you think any of us are going to get out of this a live you are a foolish man. If you think that politics or taking a side in such is going to save you then you are not even worthy of my second thought.

They do fuck their brains up and don't give a damn.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 29, 2012 7:12 AM  

Bring them home now. I asked him about DU he said we don't use it. He said "We use Titanium rounds." I didn't tell him DU is Titanium coated. There is no way that light weight metal would ever be effective in war.

I come here for truth as great minds gather and when the trolls hit it is easy to spot.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 29, 2012 7:16 AM  

But there is that little problem that people still have an emotional attachment to their theories. Why is this? And then it hit me that this was just a manifestation of the biblical sin of pride, of wanting status and authority beyond what was warranted. The original sin. Why Satan was thrown from Heaven and why Adam and Eve at of the tree of knowledge.


Well, Asher seems to have a strong emotional attachment to constantly bringing up the fact that the pro-life movement is heretical.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 29, 2012 7:29 AM  

physphilmusic

Bet you won't mess with me.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 8:24 AM  

Well, Asher seems to have a strong emotional attachment to constantly bringing up the fact that the pro-life movement is heretical.

There is nothing wrong with an emotional attachment to one's theories. The sin lies in deceitfully arguing as if it were self-evident truth.

I plainly state my premises and argue for them. Not sure how closely you followed the threads but no one took the time to do anything more than say "b-b-but god says do not kill". That's not much of a counterargument.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 9:04 AM  

My take on abortion in the American Empire is this:

the empire is corrupt, rotten and decadent. Trying to punish people for having abortions is like trying to put lipstick on a pig. Ain't gonna make the pig prettier and he's gonna do whatever he can to try and tell you to f*ck off

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 9:07 AM  

I'm not pro choice. I just consider it ludicrous and nonsensical to try and punish abortion in the corrupt and degenerate scenario we have now

Anonymous physphilmusic December 29, 2012 9:29 AM  

Not sure how closely you followed the threads but no one took the time to do anything more than say "b-b-but god says do not kill". That's not much of a counterargument.

I'm sorry if I was unable take the time to follow up on your responses to this more closely (due to the thread already being saturated by the loads of people replying to you), but my main objection to your stated positions was that the ostensible implications of your position is that in a non-homogenous God-fearing country like America is now, Christians have no business of supporting any sort of laws other than those governing their own communities. In other words, you seemed to think that it is heretical for Christians to support comprehensive laws which punish not just abortion, but also murder, rape, assault, robbery, or anything actually, and that any attempts to do so are instances of "weepy sentimentalism" (your favorite catchphrase).

So if my next-door neighbor brings his 5-year-old daughter into his front yard, rapes her and then executes her slowly by the Chinese method of Death by a Thousand Cuts, all in front of my eyes while I'm sitting there on the porch sipping my beer, it is heretical for me as a Christian to stop him, because both of them are people of "another nation", which I have "no business" interfering with. And if I object to this I am being "sentimental". Am I misrepresenting your position?

That's very amusing.

I understand if you think that pushing anti-abortion laws are in the bigger picture, not doing much good because of the already screwed up state of the nation, but the way you defend your position is crazy.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 29, 2012 9:34 AM  

Bet you won't mess with me.

I found it amusing that you have several times commented on setting other people straight on their scientific knowledge, yet at the same time you deny special relativity, and the way I remember it your understanding of what a vector is is flawed. I'm sure that you have a thorough understanding of Newtonian physics, but why you can't accept special relativity is just weird - I think it's maybe an engineer thing.

Anonymous Susan December 29, 2012 9:52 AM  

Actually VD, I think I caught the point very well. You tend to attract comments that show a high degree of intelligence, thinking and commonsense on the part of the ilk readers. They also are not sycophantic to the extent that PZ's readers are.

The notion that PZ is ashamed of his followers stupidity was partly based on posts you have written in the past that caused PZ followers to try to defend him in comments here on this blog. That was one reason for my cat toys reference. Those posts were full of entertainment.

Also, maybe my attempt at humor was a little too subtle for you and like Mr. Spock you didn't catch it. I was still working on my day's caffeine intake.

I am still trying to refine my writings here. Will endeavor to do better in future.

Anonymous Susan December 29, 2012 9:54 AM  

twothumbsdown-

PZ is that you??????????

Blogger Lovekraft December 29, 2012 10:40 AM  

Who cares about being 'nice'?

Does truth care about 'feeeeelings'?

The leftist/feminist camp is about emotion, not logic, so there is no point considering their arguments until they have come to the table with rational, constructive ideas.

Yes, they stamp their feet and throw things, while those on the altright, MRA blogs continue advancing their cause.

Blogger Desert Cat December 29, 2012 1:09 PM  

PZ is that you??????????

Could be Matt (aka King A). Same thing he says over at Alpha Game every. single. time. he shows up there.

Anonymous twothumbsdown December 29, 2012 1:48 PM  

Wait for Hell, if you think it stale just now.

This life is a big ZERO compared to the next and it is damn short.


Keep telling yourself that, it's just wishful thinking but if it gets you off...

PZ is that you??????????

Could be Matt (aka King A). Same thing he says over at Alpha Game every. single. time. he shows up there.


So I'm not the only one, we might be on to something here.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 2:04 PM  

@ physphilmusic

my main objection to your stated positions was that the ostensible implications of your position is that in a non-homogenous God-fearing country like America is now, Christians have no business of supporting any sort of laws other than those governing their own communities. In other words, you seemed to think that it is heretical for Christians to support comprehensive laws which punish not just abortion, but also murder, rape, assault, robbery,

So, you must really, really, really not have been paying attention.

Look, there are three possible categories for arguing for political positions:

A) Secular, i.e. rational analysis
B) The authority of custom and habit
C) Religion/metaphysics

Christians don't usually use the Bible to make arguments for things like copyright law, auto theft and assault. No, they use secular arguments. That I even have to explain this to you makes me feel like I'm talking to a high school student. Christians make secular arguments all the time for all sorts of things and when they do this they are speaking in the same category of justification as non-christians.

Sometimes people also make arguments from habit and custom. But the authority of habit and custom cannot apply where the various habits and customs of the various ruled peoples wildly diverge. The authority of habit and custom are only coherent and internally consistent where they are, in fact, widely practiced. To try and impose custom and habit where it is already not recognized is to invoke the authority of something other than custom and habit.

There is no unitary American people, therefore, arguments from custom and habit cannot apply. It is incoherent to invoke custom where none exists.

Which brings us to metaphysics/religion. Now, I don't have a problem with someone arguing from metaphysics or religion. By their very definition metaphysics or religion cannot be demonstrated to be false. But I will point out that they are likely to be resisted fiercely by those who do not accept the premise.

Now, since Christians hold that God is the sole "higher authority", i.e. metaphysic, and that the Logos is the revelation of God. Therefore, any "higher authority" type of argument must be based in the Bible. Yes, Christians are certainly not forbidden to make secular arguments. I mean, I can't imagine that you're going to find scriptural authority for the proper length of copyright protection.

But all of the arguments made regarding opposition to abortion are metaphysical ones. Yes, some atheists oppose abortion on non-christian metaphysical grounds; they have different metaphysical grounds but arrive at the same conclusion.

So, here's where heresy comes in: if what the christian pro-life movement is saying has no direct authority found in scripture then it is getting its metaphysic from a non-biblical source. And authority for what the pro life movement is attempting simply doesn't exist in the bible, therefore, the christian portion of the pro life movement is basing its support of laws punishing abortion from another metaphysical source than the God of the Bible.

That is heresy.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 2:12 PM  

I think I can summarize in a list:

A) All current opposition by either Chrstians, agnostics or atheists is based in metaphysics. This is not bad, but that is what it is.

B) The sole metaphysical source of authority for christians comes from God and can be only found in the Bible

C) Therefore, all metaphysical claims made by those calling themselves Christians must be found in the bible

D) If someone calls themselves a Christian but assert metaphysical claims not found in the Bible then they are at the very least verging on heresy. Certainly if they make a claim about the bible that is not in the bible then that is certainly heresy.

E) There is simply no authority found in the bible for what the christian portion of the pro life movement is attempting, therefore, are invoking a competing metaphysical source with God

F) That is why it is heretical.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 2:25 PM  

Let's be clear the claims that the pro life movement is making

A) Abortion is against God's Law
B) God allows adherents of God's Law to exercise the secular power of the state
C) God allows adherents of God's Law to use that power to impose God's Law
D) God commands adherents of his law to impose that law on distinct alien and foreign peoples who directly reject his law.

In order for the pro life movement to be non heretical it must meet ALL four conditions. If even one of those conditions is not met then the authority for the pro life movement cannot be found in the bible and if it isnt than the movement is heretical.

I agree with A & B in full. I agree with C with some reservations but will not dispute it. But D is blatantly anti biblical.

If you assert that all four conditions are biblical then what you're saying, in effect, is that the message of the New Testament is for Christians to get a big enough army so that they can conquer the world and impose God's Law.

I'm fine with with Christians using secular power to impose God's law on a Christian people. I'm also fine with Christians using secular power to impose human conventions on a population that is not Christian. But the idea that God gives Christians authority to use secular power to impose God's Law on a non Christian people is simply not in the bible.

That is why it is heretical.

Blogger Desert Cat December 29, 2012 3:24 PM  

So I'm not the only one, we might be on to something here.

If your idea of refreshing discourse involves shrieking, feces-flinging monkeys, then it is no secret that you will have to look elsewhere.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 29, 2012 5:26 PM  

So, here's where heresy comes in: if what the christian pro-life movement is saying has no direct authority found in scripture then it is getting its metaphysic from a non-biblical source. And authority for what the pro life movement is attempting simply doesn't exist in the bible, therefore, the christian portion of the pro life movement is basing its support of laws punishing abortion from another metaphysical source than the God of the Bible.

Firstly, I'm a bit surprised by your characterization of the "Christian pro-life movement". Those people who are pro-life, Christian or otherwise, do not support abortion because they think that abortion is no different than the wanton murder of an innocent person. So in my view, any arguments which deem the pro-life movement heretical is the same with arguing against Christians forcing others to recognize that murder is wrong. The debate isn't about the act of murder, the debate is about when the fetus can be considered a person. And that part of the debate is mainly populated by secular arguments. The Bible gives no statements about when a fetus becomes a person. Some centuries ago a fetus was thought to be ensouled only when quickening occurs, and so Christians back then didn't oppose abortion up to that stage. But now we know otherwise, based on scientific and philosophical arguments about personhood.

Now if you're going to go deeper into where Christians get their
metaethical justification for "murder of innocent persons is wrong", the answer might well be the Bible. But this isn't a problem of enforcing Biblical commands on others, because the majority of people, Christian or not, seem to agree that murder is wrong, so there is little pragmatic use in asking where that conviction comes from. It's just a fact that there is a shared moral consensus, and pro-life activists try to make use of that to argue against abortion.

The other thing is that in my experience, the main difference between the "Christian" pro-life movement and the secular pro-life movement is that the former tends to intensify its calls to action by adding some religious window dressing - e.g. that it's our God-given duty to protect innocent life. And usually there is also the feeling that Christians more strongly believe in the sanctity of life in all situations, because Christians are less Machiavellian than say, communist atheists. But these are all just reasons that might lead one to become pro-life. These are not, in my experience, the same reasons that are used when the pro-life position is being defended in the public square.

And another reason why the pro-life movement is mostly Christian is because being Christian is negatively correlated with being a leftist and feminist. It's not because Christians claim to read something in the Bible which prohibits the abortion and then tries to enforce it upon everyone else.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 8:24 PM  

@ physphilmusic

do not support abortion because they think that abortion is no different than the wanton murder of an innocent person

And they are simply factually incorrect. If all laws prohibiting killing were stricken from the books society would descend into anarchy within days. Laws prohibiting killing of babies in the womb were rendered unconstitutional almost forty years ago, so, clearly there is a difference in consequence between the two. So, to say there is no difference is simply factually incorrect and invalid unless you are basing laws against murder on some prior metaphysical basis.

The secular argument for laws punishing killing are solely that without them you'd have nothing but chaos and anarchy. Roe v Wade has been around for forty years and society has not descended into anarchy. If I have two neighbors and one of them kills the other so that the first can take the second's new flatscreen TV it is not a stretch to surmise that she might kill me for my new laptop. But if the legal system allows her to kill her unborn child but not full-grown adults then I am safe - anarchy averted.

Christians forcing others to recognize that murder is wrong.

Nope arguments for laws prohibiting adults from killing already born individuals are that without such laws we will have chaos and anarchy.

the answer might well be the Bible. this isn't a problem of enforcing Biblical commands on others, because the majority of people, Christian or not, seem to agree that murder is wrong,

Actually, this is a rhetorical sleigh of hand. People who support so called abortion rights don't regard abortion as murder, at all. Since there are obviously different operating definitions of murder, here, we have to assume that you have different grounding premises at work. The so-called abortion rights position is adopted from the secular premise that killing is okay, provided it doesn't lead to chaos and anarchy.

Yes, I understand that the left applies this rather selectively but no one ever accused the left of consistency.

he main difference between the "Christian" pro-life movement and the secular pro-life movement is that the former tends to intensify its calls to action by adding some religious window dressing

I've long suspected that a very large portion of the pro life movement, christian or otherwise, was largely emotive and not based on any intellectual premise, at all. Having grown up in conservative, evangelical churches I would say that it is almost devoid of any real disciplined, masculine authority. Like feminism, the modern "conservative" christian church is female-centric.

Anyways, your claim that is that abortion makes the assertion that killing an unborn child is no different from killing an adult. That is patently false.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 9:24 PM  

oops, i mangled that last paragraph. Sorry, but I'm dealing with a very sick wife and a ten week old colicky baby. Should read:

Anyways, your claim that killing an unborn child is no different from killing an adult. That is patently false. In terms of consequences to the stability of society they are worlds apart.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 29, 2012 9:42 PM  

Philly

"I found it amusing that you have several times commented on setting other people straight on their scientific knowledge, yet at the same time you deny special relativity, and the way I remember it your understanding of what a vector is is flawed"

Certainly wasn't expecting that,I was does jerking your chain. It goes much deeper than SR, it is an ability too see past the crap. One day when we lose our arrogance of pretending to know we will see more clearly. Mathematics has its flaws and I proved it to a professor in college and he had no answer.

Anonymous Asher December 29, 2012 9:55 PM  

@ Outlaw X

As I understand it, you can't prove that math is flawed, only that it is incomplete, and that it may never be complete as we understand it.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 29, 2012 10:13 PM  

@ Asher

Well I did, once I came across "Gabriel's Horn" quite back accident I started looking deeper. It has flaws. Look it up if you don't know what I am talking about. This is completely off topic and my last post on the subject. I say let it die with me.

Anonymous Mudz December 29, 2012 11:38 PM  

@Asher

Pretty interesting comments, to be honest. Let me weigh in.

It is an emotional issue for Christians, our emotions are (ostensibly) formed from the tenets of Christianity, certainly from Judaeo-Christian cultural norms. The intellectual elements are what we use in order to either justify, modify, or reject our emotional judgments, according to logical consistencies and consequences.

I think that's how it works for everybody for everything.

And because the bible is our authority, that doesn't mean that we are restrained from any further expression of the spirit of Christianity. It doesn't say that we should give hitchhikers a lift, or that if someone is struggling to carry their shopping that we should help them. But they are quite clearly expressions of Christian tenets to love thy neighbour (assuming you live in a place where hitchhikers don't rape and kill drivers, or something).

If if we are to love our neighbours, that should probably extend to their children too. That dude that was lying on the road in front of the Samaritan was not a Christian, and the people that should have felt some responsibility for him were not Christian. Nonetheless, Christians can take to heart that good acts are to be applied not just to our Christian buddies, but to anyone. Love your enemies, in fact.
In a similiar sense, the children of the pro-choice are essentially socially or literally tormented by the whims of those who should care for them, their mothers and society at large.
Whether or not it is appropriate for Christians to involve themselves in politics, or exert such power, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot apply with reason to those men and women, or to the government to protect the rights of infants. That's not 'imposing' Christianity excepting in the same sense that converting people is an imposition; this is Christians motivated by Christianity and appealing to people or the secular powers to do what they believe to be morally right. Secular powers that apparently God put in place as higher authorities to do this sort of thing. (I'd have to look that up, to be sure.)

Also a note, 'is it right for you to put a Roman Citizen to death?' To paraphrase the Apostle Paul. Although he seemed reticient to speak up previously, he still demonstrated that Christians are perfectly able to appeal to secular courts, to challenge them on legal consistencies and obligations. Jehovah's Witnesses for example, in legal battles to preserve the right to refuse to go to war for or against the nations, in accordance to conscience and Christian duty.

In this case, there is an inconsistency between protecting the life of a man after he leaves the womb, but not before. There is an inconsistency in placing a disparity between the life of unborn and born infants, although there is no biological or metaphysical distinction made between them. Women are not granted a choice to kill their offspring after birth, because this is rightly regarded as murder, yet they are granted this choice for an arbitrary length of period before birth.

Children ultimately belong to God. We did not design or create them, our bodies produced them, which were designed and originate with God. We have no rights over them except what God gives us, and the only way we have of identifying these rights is through the bible. The American constitution, from what I've heard, is founded upon inalienable rights granted by God.

Abortion is a violation of at least one of them, I'm betting.

Anonymous Mudz December 29, 2012 11:38 PM  

America is actually a little strange to me, in that so much of their legal system seems to be founded upon the idea of transmitting, or enforcing God-given rights, or that their courts still appeal to the highest authority of God.

To be honest, the government should figure out if it's actually Christian or religiously neutral. If it's religiously neutral, then it can't be subject to God, and it can't make people swear on the bible, or support it's actions throuh theological appeal, and because God recognises no other Gods, those of other religions should have no political presence, they'd just be tolerated as alien residents.

A Christian nation is a bit of an oxymoron. Politicans and kings cannot be part of the Christian 'power structure', since all Christians are simply brothers in Christ, and Jesus is the installed King.
If the President of the U.S for example, is Christian, he is not a Christian President, he's just a dubious Christian who's applied for a position in someone else's government. Not God's. The two are completely separate.

Granted, this raises a few issues, that I'm not sure how to answer yet. Like, what if everyone in the country was a Christian (who stuck to this non-politicalness)? How would the country be organised? I can only speculate at this point. But no-one seems to be running that risk in any case.

Your comments about the appropriateness of Christians to be 'active' in political decisions involving non-Christians, is interesting, and it's something I wonder about a lot. So far, the best judgment I have, is that if the government sends you a piece of paper, and asks 'do you want to legalise abortion?', it is in all likelihood perfectly fine to make your vote, essentially you're just answering their question of what one of their citizens wants/desires/believes. What the government does in response, is a government thing. If it wants to make Christians happy at the expense of non-Christians on the abortion issue, then that's a secular resolution. (And the world would be wonderful if it did.)

What would be wrong is for Christians to take their guns, march on the White House, overthrow the government, and institute theocratic law and convert-or-die policies. (Not that England would find the notion strange.)

That's an interim analysis, I'm still thinking about it. But just my thoughts for now, until I'm smarter.

-

There is no moral difference between killing an infant or an adult. The social consequences may differ, because there's a physical and psychological difference, because 'child' is distinct from 'adult', yay for obviousness. Kind of like how killing a black man somewhere in Africa with no-one around is different for U.S society than shooting a black man in New York in front of the cops.
But the value of a life remains the same.

And the scripture in the bible that forms a legal premise for pro-life is this:

You may have heard the famous phrase, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'? Well here is where it originated, and the circumstance for which God first said it.

Exodus 21:22-24:

"(22) "And in case men should struggle with each other and they really hurt a pregnant woman and her children do come out but no fatal accident occurs, he is to have damages imposed upon him without fail according to what the owner of the woman may lay upon him; and he must give it through the justices.
(23) But if a fatal accident should occur, then you must give soul for soul (24) eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (25) branding for branding, wound for wound, blow for blow.""

Soul for soul. God equated the lives of unborn children as equal to the life of a man. Even if they came out fine, the woman's owner could screw him over for all he got simply for endangering them.

Anonymous Mudz December 29, 2012 11:42 PM  

Also, best wishes to your wife and child. Hope they get well soon. :)

Anonymous Tad December 30, 2012 11:23 AM  

@Asher

If all laws prohibiting killing were stricken from the books society would descend into anarchy within days. Laws prohibiting killing of babies in the womb were rendered unconstitutional almost forty years ago, so, clearly there is a difference in consequence between the two.

The commenter was making the case that there is no substantive difference between killing in the womb or outside the womb.

You are disputing this by talking about the legal consequences of the act, not the act itself. You are clearly correct with regard to the legal consequences of abortion and killing, say, the mother. But that wasn't the point being made.

Anonymous Tad December 30, 2012 11:32 AM  

@Asher

The so-called abortion rights position is adopted from the secular premise that killing is okay, provided it doesn't lead to chaos and anarchy.

This is correct, however it is one step up the latter from the primary operating premise, which is: Killing is OK if it is not visited upon an innocent person.

Anonymous Asher December 30, 2012 5:57 PM  

@ Tac

I will respond to these two comments. After that it will depend.

Most people's reasoning tends to be haphazard, dogmatic and sloppy, and I look for people rise above this human tendency. I found your dancing around the dogmatism an sloppy thinking around here and thought you might be interesting. Sadly, no.

As soon as you move from poking at the sloppy thinking of others you waltz right onto sloppy thinking of your own.

Disappointing. Boring.

Anonymous Asher December 30, 2012 6:26 PM  

@ Tad

The commenter was making the case that there is no substantive difference between killing in the womb or outside the womb.

Um, I think you are confused about what "making the case" means. The commenter was making no such case and simply asserting that there was no difference. The commenter was simply incorrect, there is a massive difference an I pointed out the difference.

If you want to equate killing a child in the womb an killing a fully functioning adult then you are making a metaphysical argument. See, what the prolife movement does is dance around offering linguistic sleighs of hand to avoid having to admit that the pro life movement is based on metaphysical premises.

It is intellectually dishonest.

I frequently hear pro lifers say that abortion rights advocate sanction the "murder" of innocents. Um, no they don't; they simply deny that the concept of murder applies to the unborn. See, stupid little rhetorical sleigh of hand. It's dishonest.

I don't consider myself an abortion rights supporter; I just hate horseshit sloppy reasoning.

You are disputing this by talking about the legal consequences of the act, not the act itself.

Um, no, you have it backwards - the phrase "legal consequences" is a reference to the internal consistency of the legal system. "Descent into anarchy an chaos" is not a "legal consequence", it affects every aspect of the fabric of human life.

The secular basis of law is to impose order. Period. Laws punishing the killing of fully functioning adults is about imposing order, laws punishing killing unborn children are not. There are other reasons besides secular ones to advocate for laws but no one is making them.

The commenter offers an argument that appears to be secular but it is not.

You are clearly correct with regard to the legal consequences of abortion and killing, say, the mother.

Um, no, not legal consequences. The collapse of human society is not a "legal consequence". Jesus Christ, sloppy, sloppy sloppy.

This is correct, however it is one step up the latter from the primary operating premise, which is: Killing is OK if it is not visited upon an innocent person.

This comment pretty much denotes a complete lack of familiarity with the entire corpus of political theory in Western thought stretching back to the pre-socratics. Have you even heard of Plato? Hobbes? Read them?

There is one natural law: war. Under a state of total war life is nasty, brutish and short. Humans institute governments to impose order to make their lives less nasty, less brutish and less short. Prior to those institutions there is no such thing as "innocent" because the very notion implies that there is some "thing" that one is innocent of that that is prior to the assessment of innocence.

In a pre-civilized state of nature a newborn infant isn't innocent. It's no more innocent than is a piece of meat or a rock. The synthetic notion of innocence is predicated on civilizational order. Absent civilization we no more "deserve" moral consideration than that piece of meat or that rock. So, you have it completely backwards, you have reversed subject and predicate.

Jesus, those two comments are one big slopfest.

Killing is OK if it is not visited upon an innocent person.

In a state of nature killing IS okay, period. That is the default state of nature. Killing begins to be regarded as "not okay" as we begin imposing the social order of civilization. And, no, the imposition of order does not require some presupposed standard of order, as most christians erroneously claim.

Anonymous Asher December 30, 2012 6:28 PM  

@ Tad

I have noticed that you have a depressing tendency to conflate pure rhetorical device with making a substantive case.

Knock it off.

Anonymous Asher December 30, 2012 6:33 PM  

There is nothing wrong with a rhetorical device, in fact, it is an integral part of arguing for a position. Rhetorical devices include testing for non-triviality, logical fallacies, consistency, coherence, etc. You can't make a rational case without using these sorts of tests, but they are not the substance of a position itself.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 31, 2012 7:27 AM  

And they are simply factually incorrect. If all laws prohibiting killing were stricken from the books society would descend into anarchy within days. Laws prohibiting killing of babies in the womb were rendered unconstitutional almost forty years ago, so, clearly there is a difference in consequence between the two. So, to say there is no difference is simply factually incorrect and invalid unless you are basing laws against murder on some prior metaphysical basis.

The secular argument for laws punishing killing are solely that without them you'd have nothing but chaos and anarchy. Roe v Wade has been around for forty years and society has not descended into anarchy. If I have two neighbors and one of them kills the other so that the first can take the second's new flatscreen TV it is not a stretch to surmise that she might kill me for my new laptop. But if the legal system allows her to kill her unborn child but not full-grown adults then I am safe - anarchy averted.


You misunderstood me. Of course what I meant isn’t that killing unborn babies is “no different” than murder of innocent adults in every single aspect. You have pointed out that there would be different societal consequences. That’s true. What I meant is that for pro-life supporters, killing unborn fetuses is no different, morally speaking, , than killing an innocent fully-grown adult. On that basis it is impermissible.

It’s also true that the murder of Kate Middleton would have vastly different societal consequences compared to the murder of a single, overweight guy without relatives who works at Walmart. There would probably be an uproar with regards to the former, and barely a whimper with regards to the latter. But with regards to the law, we regard these possible acts of murder as equally wrong, because (ideally at least) we don’t privilege a richer man in the law. Both murderers will be charged with murder, and face the same prison sentences.

Nope arguments for laws prohibiting adults from killing already born individuals are that without such laws we will have chaos and anarchy.

That’s half-true. Our laws are not simply based upon preventing things that might lead to chaos and anarchy. This is reflected in the fact that debates about laws always appeal to presumably agreed-upon metaphysical and meta-ethical principles (“Everybody has a right to never feel hungry! Social Justice! Our God-given right to do X!”). There are many things which are rendered impermissible which would not lead to chaos and anarchy were it permissible. For example, infanticide has been pretty common throughout all cultures in history, yet it’s prohibited. Women’s suffrage is an aberration in the context of world history, yet it is given.

On the other hand, it is probably true that these metaphysical and meta-ethical principles were probably adapted because a society without them would descend into chaos and anarchy. But these principles often in effect demand logical consequences which would go beyond the simple act of preventing chaos and anarchy.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 31, 2012 7:28 AM  

Actually, this is a rhetorical sleigh of hand. People who support so called abortion rights don't regard abortion as murder, at all. Since there are obviously different operating definitions of murder, here, we have to assume that you have different grounding premises at work.

This is partially what I’ve been trying to say all along, although not completely right. The abortion debate is at its core a debate about personhood, not about murder. Both pro and anti-abortionists have the same definitions of murder. This definition concerns killing an innocent person. The difference between the two sides is that one regard unborn fetuses as a person, the other does not.

The so-called abortion rights position is adopted from the secular premise that killing is okay, provided it doesn't lead to chaos and anarchy

This is incorrect. No one believes that “any killing is OK, provided it doesn’t lead to chaos and anarchy.” Obviously with that premise, there are a lot of people whom we can kill right now, in order to reduce chaos and anarchy. Actually, the abortion rights position is identical with the anti-abortion rights position, with the exception that unborn fetuses are not regarded as persons. In practice, the debate gets overshadowed with feminists calling on the “woman’s right to choose” or “rights over our own bodies”, and so on. But this amounts to nothing more than rhetorical tactics, which is different from the core philosophical disagreement between the two sides.

Talking about rhetorical sleights of hand, you should be careful to keep switching freely between “murder” and “killing”, because the former is prohibited in all circumstances, while the latter is not. Even a lot of the so-called sentimental people in the pro-life movement support killing in circumstances, for example in war, self-defense, or the death penalty.

And in response to some of your comments to Tad:
In a pre-civilized state of nature a newborn infant isn't innocent. It's no more innocent than is a piece of meat or a rock. The synthetic notion of innocence is predicated on civilizational order. Absent civilization we no more "deserve" moral consideration than that piece of meat or that rock. So, you have it completely backwards, you have reversed subject and predicate.

All of this meta-ethical philosophizing is fine, Asher, and it might even be right. But it is completely irrelevant. You are using the rhetorical tactic of bait-and-switch here. Perhaps you don’t realize it yourself. The concept of “innocence” I was referring to is innocence as defined in the law. Meaning: if I’m just standing around on my front porch, and you, a stranger, come and shoot me, then I am the innocent party, because I didn’t attack you or do anything which warranted that act of shooting. It is completely irrelevant whether I am *truly* innocent, in every religious, ethical, and philosophical sense of the word. In the same way, a newborn infant is innocent because it hasn’t done anything warranting a punishment or an aggressive act from another individual towards it.

And I repeat again: philosophizing about how laws and order came to be imposed on society is only remotely relevant to the topic and hand. You are conflating the background factors which may contribute in causing a person to hold a certain intellectual position, with the actual arguments the person believes which supports and gives a basis to the intellectual position. The abortion debate is about how we apply ethical principles which we have already accepted as a society. How we came to accept those ethical principles as a society a long, long time ago may be answered by reading Hobbes and Locke et al., but it’s irrelevant in the context of this debate.

Anonymous Asher December 31, 2012 5:20 PM  

@ physphilmusic

You misunderstood me. Of course what I meant isn’t that killing unborn babies is “no different” than murder of innocent adults in every single aspect.

Fine, but that's what you said. It is not my responsibility to understand what you "really mean". It is your responsibility to say what you really mean.

What I meant is that for pro-life supporters, killing unborn fetuses is no different, morally speaking, , than killing an innocent fully-grown adult. On that basis it is impermissible.

On what basis? You're not arguing for this, just asserting it.

It’s also true that the murder of Kate Middleton would have vastly different societal consequences compared to the murder of a single, overweight guy without relatives who works at Walmart.

In terms of social stability changing the murder laws to remove protections to female celebrities versus protections to minimum wage clerks would have identical consequences. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. No matter have rich, powerful or famous you are you will surely die. Did the death of Princess Diana have any long-term consequences to society? No, she was just another ditzy blonde who got in a car wreck, no different from other ditzy women getting killed hanging out with men she shouldn't. The short term emotional component that millions felt on her death was of zero consequence on the course of history.

we regard these possible acts of murder as equally wrong, because (ideally at least) we don’t privilege a richer man in the law.

Factually incorrect. We don't remove the protections of murder laws from minimum wage clerks because if we did they'd be a serious threat to social order. Someone who is not protected by the law has no reason to obey the law.

Remove those protection and a lot of minimum wage clerks are going to be running around killing people and creating general mayhem. Last I checked murder laws have not covered abortion for decades, but you don't see unborn children running around killing people.

Our laws are not simply based upon preventing things that might lead to chaos and anarchy.

This is true. There are three categories of justification on which to base law:

A) Secular, i.e social order
B) Tradition
C) Metaphysical

If you want to base murder laws on something other than social order then you need to be eff'ing making them. You don't. You just engage in rhetorical handwaving to avoid having to make a metaphysical/religious argument. There are two reasons for this:

A) People who reject God's law will ridicule and ostracize you.
B) People like me will challenge you to justify the pro life movement as it currently exists on scripture.

So, to avoid the consequences of a metaphysical/religious argument you engage in rhetorical hand waving. You don't argue for a reason that abortion should be punished but merely assert that it should be.

Anonymous Asher December 31, 2012 5:21 PM  

@ physphilmusic

“Everybody has a right to never feel hungry! Social Justice! Our God-given right to do X!”

Yeah, the left justifies laws based on metaphysical premises. So what. They control the elite social institutions in the US, so, they get to set the language of discourse. They get to do this because they have power and you do not. Is it fair? No. But the only way to change the situation is to get more power than the left. Of course you trying to repeal Roe v Wade is going to alienate you from supermajorities of the American public, so that will make you even more powerless.

It's a paradox. You need power to overturn Roe, but advocating to overturn Roe will make you more powerless.

infanticide has been pretty common throughout all cultures in history, yet it’s prohibited.

Children through most of human history were considered their parent's property to dispose of as they pleased. The opposition to infanticide is both metaphysical and tradition-based, it's just that no one has the guts to actually state this baldly.

The abortion debate is at its core a debate about personhood, not about murder.

When we bomb a compound in Afghanistan and there are noncombatants it is not because because they do not meet the criteria for personhood. At least pacifists are consistent in that they oppose such bombing on the grounds of personhood. Those pacifists just don't extend the category of personhood to unborn babies.

The whole line of reasoning involving "what is a person" is metaphysical, and applying criteria that extend personhood to the unborn will render you politically powerless. Since politics is about acquiring power and you are advocating things that make you powerless I have to wonder why you involve yourself in politics, at all.

The difference between the two sides is that one regard unborn fetuses as a person, the other does not.

Correct. The difference is that they have power and you do not. The arbiter is not who has the better arguments but who has the most power. They do, and that's just the current reality. Again, it's a paradox. You want to punish abortion, but advocating laws to punish abortion renders you powerless.

No one believes that “any killing is OK, provided it doesn’t lead to chaos and anarchy.”

Whether or not everyone believes something doesn't make that belief objective reality. At one point everyone thought the world was flat. The default in the world of objects is that everything is okay. The imposition of rules is to make the human experience more safe and orderly. "Murder is not okay" is a synthetic proposition that is a product of history and civilization.

the debate gets overshadowed with feminists calling on the “woman’s right to choose” or “rights over our own bodies”, and so on. But this amounts to nothing more than rhetorical tactics,

Woman's right to choose is not rhetorical it is metaphysical. I reject that metaphysical permise, but it is the reigning orthodoxy of those with power. If you want to change that you need to acquire power, which you are prevented from doing by your desire to pass laws punishing abortion.

Anonymous Asher December 31, 2012 5:22 PM  

@physphilmusic

Even a lot of the so-called sentimental people in the pro-life movement support killing in circumstances, for example in war, self-defense, or the death penalty.

Yes, it's called an unprincipled exception. If your standard for not killing is solely based on personhood then you should be a pacifist. Your neglect, here, is an unprincipled exception that you just ignore because it is a contingent necessity. If you set up a principle and then selectively choose to avoid applying it then that renders your principle moot.

Yes, I understand the left does this even more than the right, but they can afford to because they have more power than the right. The ultimate arbiter is power.

Talking about rhetorical sleights of hand, you should be careful to keep switching freely between “murder” and “killing”

Well, since I am talking about muddle-headed thinking it is impossible to avoid the subject matter. Most people, nearly everyone, on both sides of the abortion debate slide back and forth between the two; I'm just discussing them. I do no such thing, myself. Abortion, at some point, clearly is killing. That it is not murder is simply an observation about the current state of legality.

Even a lot of the so-called sentimental people in the pro-life movement support killing in circumstances, for example in war, self-defense, or the death penalty.

Yes, they make unprincipled exceptions to their "personhood" criteria. The problem isn't the defining line of personhood, but in basing arguments for laws governing murder on personhood.

Also, I'd point out that "personhood" isn't a biblical concept, so christians who argue from it are making extra-biblical arguments, which is why I call the pro life movement heretical.

The concept of “innocence” I was referring to is innocence as defined in the law.

Laws against murder do not involve the concept of "innocence", practical rules to avoid chaos and anarchy.

if I’m just standing around on my front porch, and you, a stranger, come and shoot me, then I am the innocent party, because I didn’t attack you or do anything which warranted that act of shooting

Self-defense is an integral part of preventing chaos and anarchy. If someone kills my son and the police catch him he will be punished. If I hunt him down and shoot him myself I will be punished, despite the fact that he is not innocent, therefore, "innocence" has nothing to do with laws punishing murder. I mean, if innocence were the only standard why should anyone care whether or not the state punishes my son's killer or I do?

I will reiterate the challenge that I have been making to prolifers for years:

Provide me a scriptural basis for the claim that God commands a people who follow his Law to impose that Law on an alien people who reject that Law.

There is simply no basis for that in scripture. That is why the prolife movement is heretical. And there is no secular argument, either. At one point, there may have been an argument from tradition, but that moment has long passed.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 31, 2012 9:48 PM  

physphilmusic said:
What I meant is that for pro-life supporters, killing unborn fetuses is no different, morally speaking, , than killing an innocent fully-grown adult. On that basis it is impermissible.

On what basis? You're not arguing for this, just asserting it.

I'm not arguing for this. I'm arguing that this is what a pro-life supporter believes, and I think it is a reasonable summary of their basic belief. To give a basis for this, one would need to argue that a fetus has full personhood, and I'm not interested in arguing for that. But the arguments would be scientific instead of religious.

Did the death of Princess Diana have any long-term consequences to society? No, she was just another ditzy blonde who got in a car wreck, no different from other ditzy women getting killed hanging out with men she shouldn't. The short term emotional component that millions felt on her death was of zero consequence on the course of history.

Exactly. You're proving my point. The death of Princess Diana didn't have any long-term consequences to society. Yet an investigation was still launched into the circumstances of her death. Had it been discovered that she was killed deliberately, the culprit would presumably have been punished. This demonstrates my point that while a case of murder might be insignificant with regards to the stability of society as a whole, it is still regarded as unlawful and prohibited. This is because we believe in the basic ethical principle that it is wrong for a person to murder another person who is innocent.

Factually incorrect. We don't remove the protections of murder laws from minimum wage clerks because if we did they'd be a serious threat to social order. Someone who is not protected by the law has no reason to obey the law.

You don't seem to like my Walmart clerk example. I could go on to rebutt your rebuttal, but that would miss the point. There are numerous other cases of laws which are not essential to the stability of society yet we still uphold. For example, why do we prohibit infanticide and the murder of one's own children? Why does the law now prohibit the slavery of black people? Arguably slavery in the South was societally stable, if not for the objections of abolitionists in the North. What's the official reason for that? No, it's not because enslaving blacks would lead to wide-scale societal instability. The official reason is something along the lines of "because we believe black Americans, as fellow human beings, are fully deserving of the right to be free, consistent with what is reflected in our Constitution."

If you want to base murder laws on something other than social order then you need to be eff'ing making them. You don't. You just engage in rhetorical handwaving to avoid having to make a metaphysical/religious argument. There are two reasons for this:

Then I would say that murder laws are based on "tradition", i.e. the "tradition" that each person is entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". If a person can freely murder another person without consequence, that means people are allowed to violate the lives and liberties of others, and this is hence impermissible and unlawful.

When we bomb a compound in Afghanistan and there are noncombatants it is not because because they do not meet the criteria for personhood. At least pacifists are consistent in that they oppose such bombing on the grounds of personhood. Those pacifists just don't extend the category of personhood to unborn babies.

We allow the possible killing of noncombatants because we judge that the benefits gained from doing so (i.e. "fighting terrorism") is much greater than if we didn't do anything. Still, notice that we try to avoid directly killing noncombatants as much as possible - because direct, insensible killing of civilians would be considered a "crime against humanity" or a "war crime".

Anonymous physphilmusic December 31, 2012 9:48 PM  

If your standard for not killing is solely based on personhood then you should be a pacifist. Your neglect, here, is an unprincipled exception that you just ignore because it is a contingent necessity. If you set up a principle and then selectively choose to avoid applying it then that renders your principle moot.

That's a strawman. My standard for not killing is based on both personhood and innocence of the person. A soldier in an active war is regarded as not "innocent", and neither is a convicted person on death row. An unborn baby in the womb, on the other hand, has done nothing wrong deserving of death.

Also, I'd point out that "personhood" isn't a biblical concept, so christians who argue from it are making extra-biblical arguments, which is why I call the pro life movement heretical.

Yes, personhood isn't mentioned in the Bible. But Christian pro-lifers normally do not make arguments about personhood citing Scripture (in my experience). They use secular arguments, and using secular arguments for things which aren't mentioned directly in the Bible is not heretical, as long as those arguments do not contradict any direct Biblical moral principle.

Laws against murder do not involve the concept of "innocence", practical rules to avoid chaos and anarchy.

This is nonsense. Of course they involve the concept of innocence. Laws against murder are not only practical rules (see above counter-examples). Another counter-example: America would be a much safer place if we exterminate all black males under the age of 30 right now. There would be much less chaos and anarchy in society. Yet we don't do that, because such an act is morally wrong.

If I hunt him down and shoot him myself I will be punished, despite the fact that he is not innocent, therefore, "innocence" has nothing to do with laws punishing murder. I mean, if innocence were the only standard why should anyone care whether or not the state punishes my son's killer or I do?

Your objection is completely irrelevant. The state sets laws, and so it assumes control over deciding who is to be punished or not. If your son was innocent, in the sense that he did nothing which warranted the act of killing, then the state would punish the murderer. You are not allowed to be the punisher because another moral principle which we uphold is the right to a fair trial, which in this case is granted to all, even criminals caught red-handed. Your vigilante justice would violate this principle, and hence you are not allowed to punish the kiiller yourself.

At one point, there may have been an argument from tradition, but that moment has long passed.

The only argument from "tradition" which we need is the argument that "murder of innocent persons is wrong". After that it's only a debate of personhood and innocence, which is mainly a scientific debate.

Again, Asher, you missed my point that while it may be true that our laws are mostly based on some broad ethical principles. These principles may have been historically adopted to prevent chaos and anarchy, but the reality is that we have adopted these principles as absolutes. So while societal consequences may still play a part in determining laws, they cannot override these broad ethical principles, one of which is "It is morally wrong for a person to murder another innocent person."

Anonymous Asher December 31, 2012 11:58 PM  

@ physphilmusic

First, let's get one thing straight: "secular" comes from the Latin term meaning "of the age". Secular does not mean atheist. A secular argument is on that is based on measurable consequences. Basically, secular arguments in the area of politics involve prosperity and social order. Period. Arguments involving "rights" are only secular if you are arguing that they increase the prosperity or social stability of the realm.

When leftists claim that everyone has a "right to healthcare" they are not making a secular, but a metaphysical, argument. Same for the prolife movement.

I've only seen two secular arguments against abortion:

A) It's deprived the tax base of future taxpayers needed to fund entitlements.
B) Because of abortion we've needed to import 30 million from central and south America to have agricultural labor

They'er silly but they're secular.

Offt to a party now

Anonymous Asher January 01, 2013 9:07 AM  

@ philphysmusic

argue that a fetus has full personhood, and I'm not interested in arguing for that. But the arguments would be scientific instead of religious.

I don't think you understand what scientific means, at all. "personhood" is metaphysical. It is not a testable proposition. I mean you really, really, really don't understand what scientific means. I don't agree with Vox's definition of science, which is that science is only science if it is engineering, but at least he understands the difference between physical and metaphysical.

Jesus, those two comments are one big slopfest.

No, they're not. They're clear and concise. The confusion, as I already pointed out, is that you don't even understand the difference between physical and metaphysical. Science can say nothing about personhood, either way, because personhood is not a physical category and science is only concern with the physical world. If you think there is something beyond the physical world than say so.

Almost everything you're saying is riddled with what philosophers call a "category mistake". I suggest you look it up.

All I was saying was that in a state of nature killing is permissible until something comes along and establishes that it is not permitted.

This demonstrates my point that while a case of murder might be insignificant with regards to the stability of society as a whole, it is still regarded as unlawful and prohibited.

Lol, Jesus. You're not even following the conversation. If we refused to prosecute killers of female celebrities or of minimum wage clerks the consequence would be the same. Anarchy and chaos. We have been declining to prosecute abortion for decades and it has not resulted in chaos and anarchy.

Secular arguments involving social policy involve prosperity and social order. Arguments that do not involve these things are not secular. Outside of the two silly arguments I noted above arguments for punishing abortion are not secular as they do not involve prosperity or social order.

I do not have a problem with arguments from tradition or metaphysics, but, for God's sake, make them already. But it is important to remember that they are unlikely to persuade an underwhelming percentage of the population.

Anonymous Asher January 01, 2013 9:08 AM  

@ philphysmusic

This is because we believe in the basic ethical principle that it is wrong for a person to murder another person who is innocent.

This is rhetorical handwaving. The problematic term, in question, is murder. Sure, everyone agrees that murder is wrong, but there is wide disagreement on what constitutes murder. We all agree that some killing is okay and some is not. Arguments regarding where to draw the line have three types: secular, traditional and metaphysical. The extant arguments for extending protection to the unborn are not secular, they are metaphysical. This is because they are not based on appeals to prosperity and/or social order.

You don't seem to like my Walmart clerk example.

Your example was flat out incorrect. In terms of social order the consequences of Walmart clerks and female celebrities is identical. There would be zero difference. Both would lead to chaos and anarchy.

There are numerous other cases of laws which are not essential to the stability of society yet we still uphold.

True. But the reasons for those laws are not secular. Most civil rights law is not based in secular reasoning. This does not mean that it is bad, but it has no secular basis.

For example, why do we prohibit infanticide and the murder of one's own children?

Tradition. The western tradition prohibiting killing one's own children is far, far more established than prohibitions against abortion and abortion has been largely permitted for forty years in the US, so you can't argue from tradition to overturn Roe.

Arguably slavery in the South was societally stable, if not for the objections of abolitionists in the North.

Lincoln killed 600k fully grown adults to end slavery. If you want to end abortion then argue for killing 6 million fully grown adults in a Civil War. I am not totally opposed to this, but, for God's sake, come out and call for a bloody civil war that would kill two to three percent of the country because that's what it would take.

See, this is why the pro life movement is not intellectually serious. He who wills the ends wills the means. You want to end abortion with silly rhetorical handwaving. If you were serious you would be calling for a massive, bloody civil war.

Then I would say that murder laws are based on "tradition", i.e. the "tradition" that each person is entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

More rhetorical handwaving. The definition of murder is what's in dispute, and there is no universally accepted tradition governing that.

If a person can freely murder another person without consequence, that means people are allowed to violate the lives and liberties of others, and this is hence impermissible and unlawful.

And the majority of the country does not consider those lives worth protecting. Deal with it. If you want to change that then start calling for a bloody destructive civil war because that's what it would take.

Your rhetorical handwaving is pointless. What you need to have to implement laws punishing abortion is power and rhetorical handwaving will not get you that.

My standard for not killing is based on both personhood ... An unborn baby in the womb

Significant majorities in the West do not regard the unborn as persons, and that is not going to change. If you want to impose your definition of personhood on the majority you're going to have to undergo a long, nasty, bloody civil war to do it.

Yes, personhood isn't mentioned in the Bible. But Christian pro-lifers normally do not make arguments about personhood citing Scripture (in my experience). They use secular arguments

Ugh, you don't even understand what a secular argument is. A secular argument is one involving social order and prosperity. The prolife movement, both christian and non christian, do not make secular arguments against abortion.

Anonymous Asher January 01, 2013 9:09 AM  

@ philphysmusic

and using secular arguments for things which aren't mentioned directly in the Bible is not heretical,

Correct. I've said this at least twice. But using non-secular arguments not based in the Bible is. Christians have two non heretical bases for arguing for social policy of any kind:

A) Prosperity and social order, i.e. secular
B) The Bible

"Personhood" is not a secular concept, so, if you're a christian you'd better be damn sure that it's in the Bible or arguing for it makes one a heretic.

as long as those arguments do not contradict any direct Biblical moral principle.

Any non-secular arguments not found directly in the bible are heretical. If an argument is not about prosperity or social stability and it is also not found in the bible it is heretical.

America would be a much safer place if we exterminate all black males under the age of 30 right now. There would be much less chaos and anarchy in society. Yet we don't do that, because such an act is morally wrong.

Wait, are you really trying to tell me that killing off 18 million people would not involve a shitload of chaos and anarchy? Seriously? Are you telling me that all those people wouldn't put up a fight? And their nonblack friends and family?

See, this is an example of magical thinking, something in which the left routinely engages. Policies have costs not just benefits.

The state sets laws, and so it assumes control over deciding who is to be punished or not

It's not exactly clear what your basis for claiming this is, exactly. it could be an argument from tradition. Fine. Or it could be an argument from convenience. The fact is that we could just change the laws and allow family members to hunt down and kill those who've murdered their family members.

Why does the state prevent this? Social stability. To prevent anarchy and chaos.

another moral principle which we uphold is the right to a fair trial,

Without fair trials we'd have chaos and anarchy. Abortions have been regularly performed for the past forty years without society descending into order and chaos.

Your vigilante justice would violate this principle,

Vigilante justice causes chaos and anarchy.

The only argument from "tradition" which we need is the argument that "murder of innocent persons is wrong". After that it's only a debate of personhood

Um, you're making a category mistake, here. "murder of innocent persons is wrong" isn't a tradition it is a logical category. And the entire argument here is what gets defined as "murder", which clearly does not have some universally agreed upon definition in all cases.

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