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10 January 2015 @ 08:05 am
Ideas one at a time  
I don't completely agree with anybody. I have been greatly influenced by people like Robert A. Heinlein and Kurt Vonnegut who are RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT except when they are WRONG WRONG WRONG. Amanda Marcotte is one of those. I enjoy her blog (and frequently link to it) when she is savaging worthy targets such as Fox News and GamerGate. But sometimes not so much.

Scott Aaronson opened a can of worms by saying that, as a nerd, he feels more picked on than the supposedly oppressed groups. Laurie Penny wrote an excellent answer to that. Arthur Chu has just done an even better one. Amanda Marcotte finds that sort of thing much too merciful and did a fisking mainly demonstrating that if you find a weak, miserable member of a privileged group and hit him repeatedly in the goolies, you can think of yourself as "punching up."

Her latest post says that the atheists are being too nice. She's been acting all along as if atheism is proven scientific fact, so theists should be mocked as mercilessly as those who deny evolution or global warming.

I caught myself thinking like that, on another issue. It seems obvious to me that any reasoned denial of human exceptionalism refutes itself. We humans can do logical arguments, write poems, solve equations, control our own fertility, and do all sorts of other things the other animals can't, and if that isn't exceptional, what is? I have yielded to the temptation to take those who claim to be no smarter than the animals at their word.

I try to practice Miller's Rule: In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to figure out what it could be true of. I recommend it to one and all. Amanda Marcotte might consider that intelligent people might accept areas in which the materialistic methods of science do not provide the answers, such as God and the soul. (I myself find it impossible to believe that the Universe is run by anything that meaningfully resembles a person, but I don't find such a belief nonsensical.) And I should remind myself that the distinction between entities with and without language, literature, and science is not as important to everyone as it is to me.
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Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on January 10th, 2015 01:11 pm (UTC)
That article bothered me too, for reasons that I couldn't entirely put my finger on. Your post has clarified the issue somewhat. Part of my objection stems from the fact that religion is a separate sphere of ontological and epistemological inquiry than science, which is something both non-religious and religious people tend to elide or ignore. Religion will never be proven in the same way that climate change is proven, because it's not an observable physical process. Instead, it's a social, meta-cognitive process that plays multiple roles. Whether or not one or more gods can be proved to exist or not is beside the point of whether religion is a real force in the world. As with race, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that "socially constructed" means "not real". Social constructions are the realest things in the world to social animals.

(Mind you, I don't think that places religion beyond criticism. No social constructions are beyond criticism - that's the only way we evolve.)
browngirl on January 11th, 2015 11:35 pm (UTC)
As with race, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that "socially constructed" means "not real". Social constructions are the realest things in the world to social animals.

So very true, and well said.
Johnjohnpalmer on January 12th, 2015 05:33 pm (UTC)
That's kind of how I feel about religion. It's got a different purpose. And it can be a purpose that's hard to express.

And if someone point to warfare and strife caused by claimed religious differences, it can be very hard to express "but those probably would have happened anyway - religion was just the gold paint they put on the turd." But I feel very strongly that it's not religion that makes people self-righteous asses - I think it's being self-righteous asses that makes them that way.

But I do feel forced to grant that religion can be an awfully good paint sometimes.
Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on January 12th, 2015 06:22 pm (UTC)
But I feel very strongly that it's not religion that makes people self-righteous asses - I think it's being self-righteous asses that makes them that way.

Quite so. Religious people and self-righteous asses are clearly intersecting sets, not a union.