Determinism and Eliot Rodger

Over on Richard Carrier’s obscure blog, he took aim at fellow atheist, Sargon of Akkad:

When Sargon argued feminism is responsible for Elliot Rodger’s murder spree (and he did), because feminism “disenfranchised” Rodger by somehow programming women to not like him or have sex with him (yep, that’s what he said), Sargon has literally become a murder apologist. … He’s defending murder, by blaming it on women not giving it up to a guy whom (we can now confidently say in hindsight) they obviously correctly read as a sociopath.

Now, if you are not familiar with Elliot Rodger’s murder spree, here is the Wiki summary.

I would have to say that I agree with Carrier’s assessment.  But then again, I am not a free will denialist.  Atheists such as Coyne, Harris, and Sapolsky deny the existence of free will, so I am not sure how they would be able to dismiss Sargon’s point.

Look, if determinism means anything, it would mean simply this – Something made Elliot Rodger go on a murder spree.  Something made him do it.  He himself did not choose to do it and, in fact, he had no moral responsibility for his murders.  If he had survived, our job would be to compassionately treat him and help him regain entry into society.  But to do that, we need to know what made him do it.

Sargon has a hypothesis – it is feminism, and how it has shaped our culture, that drove  Rodger to go on his killing spree.  In other words, feminism is the cause of these murders.  It seems overly simplistic to me, but if determinism is true, and we must look outside the moral agent to find the causes of behavior, for the simple reason that there is no such thing as a moral agent, then feminism’s role in these murders ought to be explored.  Perhaps it might not be the sole causal factor, but maybe it is a partial causal factor.  If so, we could not say feminism caused the murder spree, only that it contributed to the murders.  And the job of any science-loving determinist is to figure it out.

Another possible cause is the women who refused to have sex with Rodger.  That was his own explanation:

Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you. For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me.

So, in the world of determinism, there are women out there who rejected Elliot Rodger and thus caused the death of six people and injuries of another fourteen.

 

 

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Is “White Privilege” Just a Category Error?

I have shown how the “White Privilege Checklist” that was handed out by a science professor in a science classroom is fundamentally flawed:

you’ll notice a common theme among many – living among the majority is considered as “privilege.” Take item # 1 and #20, for example. If we want to insist that examples like these (and #3, and #4, and #5, and #6, etc.) illustrate “White Privilege,” why be so parochial about it? Instead, think globally. Using the same logic of such items, we would say that just as there is white privilege in America, there is Asian privilege in China, Hispanic privilege in Ecuador, and Muslim privilege in Kuwait. In other words, this is really just “majority privilege” and it is kind of nonsensical to think that it is a “privilege” to be among the majority. Instead, it would just be a brute, demographic fact. And such types of facts are universal around the globe as long as any nation is made up of some ethnic majority.

Yet notice how the “White Privilege Checklist” sells itself – “The following are examples of ways white individuals have privilege because they are white.”

Privilege?  Because they are white?  In science, there should be room for healthy skepticism and both claims are declared without the slightest scent of skepticism.  Shameful behavior in a science class.

So let’s rectify the situation and offer up some valuable and needed skepticism .

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Posted in academia, activism, Science, Social Justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Privilege?

So I read this story about another sociology professor trying to indoctrinate students into the notion of “White Privilege.” Notice the checklist:

whiteprivilegechecklist
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Posted in Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 20 Comments

The Atheist Movement Becomes The Atheist Circus

The atheist activists are at each other’s throats again.  Shockingly, it involves another one of their conferences – the Mythicist Milwaukee conference.  If you have never heard of this conference before, it’s safe to say you are not alone.  It sounds like another one of those atheist meet-ups  that’s about one step above a Furry convention, yet two steps below a Trekkie convention.

Anyway, the Mythicist Milwaukee invited Sargon of Akkad, Armoured Skeptic, and ShoeOnHead to speak and I guess these atheists have a reputation of being anti-SJW.  Well, as we all know, social justice atheists tend to freak out and get hysterical when people who are not “woke” are actually allowed to speak.  So PZ Myers, the Happy Atheist, began to launch attacks on the Mythicist Milwaukee conference, accusing them of hypocrisy and sexism.

Well, one thing led to another, and next thing y’know,  activist Steve Shives  renounced all friendship with activist Seth Andrews (the Thnking Atheist) because Andrews refused not to attend.  Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, is MIA.  So along comes atheist activist Richard Carrier, well known for championing crackpot myther notions and getting a divorce to fulfill his polyamorous identity (not to mention he is still suing PZ Myers).  Carrier tries to rise above it all and decides to go after activist Dan Arel, the atheist who advocates the use of violence:

Those other folks, like Dan Arel, who promote physical assault against Nazis, are also, BTW, calling Sargon a Nazi. 1+1 gets dangerously close to 2 there. And close enough indeed. As noted in that same thread by a sponsor of the con, someone has already been threatening to photograph and “out” anyone who attends the conference (and implying they’ll try to get them fired from their jobs). So now atheists are being threatened with being outed and fired. By the left. Thanks, Dan. That’s the kind of world you are creating. …..Dan Arel is all but saying someone should physically assault Sargon at the conference. And inspiring his own flying monkeys to spy on and “out” atheist attendees and try to fuck with their lives for going.

Carrier’s blog got a reply from one person, probably because you have to pay to post comments on his blog.  But Arel, Champion of the Oppressed, must have got wind of it.  And I’ll have to admit, he takes out Carrier with one blow:

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New Atheism Not a Cause Behind the Rise of the Nones

Peter Boghossian and his activist allies wrote:

New Atheism has already succeeded in shifting the cultural landscape of Western civilization, making it far more acceptable to be openly atheist, giving atheists unprecedented public visibility, buttressing the legal boundaries of secularism and changing the nature of public discourse about faith, belief, God and religion.

I’m not surprised that New Atheist activists would believe in their own self-importance.  But this is delusional.  The problem is that there is no evidence New Atheism shifted any aspect of our cultural landscape.

While it is true that the rise in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans (“Nones”) has been significant, there is no evidence New Atheism had anything to do with this.  Consider the data:

nones

As you can see, the growth of the Nones began in the early 1990s, long before Harris and Dawkins started to write their books.  So what might explain this change?

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Posted in Culture, New Atheism, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Is There a Connection Between Atheism and Antifa?

I’m sure most readers know all about the thuggish violence that is perpetuated by Antifa. But I’ve begun to wonder about the relationship between atheism and Antifa.

Over at Quora, according to Lucca Fehn,

Antifa has nothing to do with atheism.

Hold on there.  We are constantly told that atheism is simply a lack of belief in God.  Given that belief in God does not seem to be part of Antifa’s ideology and violent activities, such belief is lacking and thus they are behaving as atheists.  Their violent attacks and opposition to free speech are atheistic.

At least according to this definition.

But maybe there is more.  According to Fehn:

As far as I can tell, antifa’s uniting trait is that they anarcho-communists who oppose nationalism.

We know as a matter of historical fact that communism and atheism have been strongly linked.  Might this also be the case with “anarcho-communism?”

If Fhen is correct, according to Wiki:

Anarcho-communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French Revolution,[23][24] but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International.[25] The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections.

And:

Anarcho-communism´s main theorist Peter Kropotkin, “was a child of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, and assumed that religion would be replaced by science and that the Church as well as the State would be abolished; he was particularly concerned with the development of a secular system of ethics which replaced supernatural theology with natural biology”.[1]

So the main theorist of anarcho-communism was someone who sounds just like today’s New Atheist.  Add in the far left political views and it sure looks like…….a PZ Myers.

Anyway, I can’t say for sure, as I have just begun to ponder if such a connection exists.  But given this brief preliminary look, it does seem to be a question worth looking into.

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When Activism Becomes Sadism

Back in June, a medical case study became public where a man went swimming five days after receiving a tattoo of a cross on his leg even though he was instructed not to do such a thing.   Because of his bad decision, the tattoo became infected by “flesh-eating” bacteria and he eventually died a horrific death.

What’s creepy about the story is the way atheist activist Hemant Mehta felt obliged to exploit his death:

A 31-year-old man who got tattoos of a crucifix and praying hands died in the worst possible way.

He ignored warnings to wait at least two weeks before going swimming and took a dip in the Gulf of Mexico five days after getting inked. That’s when the flesh-eating bacteria came…

Way to protect him, Jesus.

Word to the wise: God won’t protect you from your own idiocy. It’s not like they tattooed his ears and eyes shut. He ignored the rules and paid the ultimate price for it. I’m sure Jesus can relate.

Of course, being the experienced activist, Mehta knows how to throw red meat to his hateful readers and sure enough, many responded with sadistic glee.

On one level, there is nothing surprising about this.  Mehta, for example, is the activist who helped coordinate a hateful attack on an orphanage.  And his atheist readers have a history of going after 12 year old girls. Thus, we have  come to expect such deep-seated hate from Mehta and his horde.

But on a deeper level, even for someone as cynical as I am, it is shocking to watch this hate morph into full blown sadism.   Yes, it was a stupid decision to go swimming, especially after being instructed not to.  And given the man already had cirrhosis of the liver at age 31, it’s clear he had a history of making poor health-related decisions.  But to actually take some form of pleasure in his painful death, to actually use this example to score some silly little culture war mocking point, is a level of hate that I cannot fathom.  It shows where activism guided by tribalism can lead.

Posted in activism, atheist activism, Hate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The Universe as a Hologram?

Here is an excerpt from a recent essay entitled, “The Basis of the Universe May Not Be Energy or Matter but Information“:

Wheeler said the universe had three parts: First, “Everything is Particles,” second, “Everything is Fields,” and third, “Everything is information.”2 In the 1980s, he began exploring possible connections between information theory and quantum mechanics. It was during this period he coined the phrase “It from bit.” The idea is that the universe emanates from the information inherent within it. Each it or particle is a bit. It from bit.

In 1989, Wheeler produced a paper to the Santa Fe institute, where he announced “every it–every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself–derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely–even if in some contexts indirectly–from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits.”

A team of physicists earlier this year announced research conclusions that would make Wheeler smile. We might be caught inside a giant hologram they state. In this view, the cosmos is a projection, much like a 3D simulation. What’s weird is that the laws of physics operate well in a 2D quantum field within a 3D gravitational one.

I’m not a physicist, so I don’t know how solid the hologram hypothesis is.   But imagine that after 50 years of research, the hologram hypothesis does indeed become the leading theory in science and that information is indeed the basis of the universe.   So if we exist as part of a hologram,

a hologram fined tuned for the existence of life,

a fined-tuned hologram that had a beginning,

I can think of a word that does a very good job at tying all these features together – a creation.

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The Dark Side of Free Will Denialism

Gregg Caruso, a philosophy professor at Corning Community College, gave a talk about the “Dark Side” of Free Will. In doing so, I think he lets the cat out of the bag, showing that free will deniers come to us with a socio-political agenda.

Caruso has a slide that outlines the “Dark Side” (shown around 3 minutes into the talk). It reads:

The Dark Side

Free will beliefs are correlated with

Religiosity
Punitiveness
Just World Belief
Right Wing Authoritarianism

Whoa! “Religiosity” is the “Dark Side.” It looks like the professor is peddling the “Religion is Evil” talking point of the New Atheist movement. As for “Right Wing Authoritarianism,” does this mean Left Wing Authoritarianism is correlated with a lack of belief in free will? Or maybe for the professor, there is no such thing as Left Wing Authoritarianism.

Anyway, the professor didn’t want to talk about those two little hand grenades and instead focused on punitiveness and just world belief. I didn’t watch the just world belief part of the talk, so I can’t comment on that.

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Antifa Soldier Needs Her Service Animal

 

Posted in crackpots, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments