Jordan Peterson Explains the Problem with Atheism

Here is a short video where Jordan Peterson explains the problem with atheism.  If you are pressed for time, the best part starts around 4 minutes, where Peterson explains why he is frustrated with Sam Harris’s faith in rationalism.

Of course, most atheists are likely to be defensive and reply with a laundry list of their talking points.  But all of that is noise (we’ll see an example of that in a future posting).  For we are now in a position where we have strong empirical evidence that Peterson is right – the postmodernist movement.

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Another Way to Respond

We have seen how Prof. Paul Griffiths responded to a social justice email and how the Dean and others in turn responded, leading to Griffith’s punishment and making him feel that he needed to resign.  But I wonder how the social justice folks would reply if a different approach was used.

Here is how the original email to Griffiths and all other faculty read:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

On behalf of the Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee, I strongly urge you to participate in the Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training planned for March 4 and 5. We have secured funding from the Provost to provide this training free to our community and we hope that this will be a first step in a longer process of working to ensure that DDS is an institution that is both equitable and anti-racist in its practices and culture. While a number of DDS faculty, staff, and students have been able to participate in REI training in recent years, we have never before hosted a training at DDS. Those who have participated in the training have described it as transformative, powerful, and life-changing. We recognize that it is a significant commitment of time; we also believe it will have great dividends for our community. Please find the registration link below. Details about room location will be announced soon.

Duke Divinity School will host a Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training on March 4 and 5, 2017, 8:30—5 pm both days. Participants should plan to attend both full days of training.

“Racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force, one which has structured the thinking, behavior, and actions of individuals and institutions since the beginning of U.S. history. To understand racism and effectively begin dismantling it requires an equally fierce, consistent, and committed effort” (REI). Phase I provides foundational training in understanding historical and institutional racism. It helps individuals and organizations begin to “proactively understand and address racism, both in their organization and in the community where the organization is working.” It is the first step in a longer process.

ALL Staff and Faculty are invited to register for this important event by which DDS can begin its own commitment to become an anti-racist institution.

So I wonder how the social justice advocates would respond to the following email.

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I received the email from the Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee that “strongly urges” me to attend the 17-hour Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training session.

This email has made me feel unsafe.

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Posted in academia, Social Justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 10 Comments

More Social Justice At Work

Another day, another example of social justice advocates on the attack:

A Duke University theology professor resigned this week following disciplinary action taken against him by the school. This, after the professor had excoriated diversity training sessions suggested by the university as “intellectually flaccid.”

A series of emails published by The American Conservative reveals that 61-year-old professor Paul Griffiths, who teaches Catholic theology at Duke, took umbrage by an invitation urging all divinity school faculty to partake in two full days of “racial equity” training this past March.

There are more details of this episode here.

Let’s focus on the most interesting angle. Here is what Professor Griffiths wrote:

I exhort you not to attend this training. Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show. Events of this sort are definitively anti-intellectual. (Re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history; I hope you’ll keep that history in mind as you think about this instance.

And here is how Dean Elaine Heath spun his words:

It is certainly appropriate to use mass emails to share announcements or information that is helpful to the larger community, such as information about the REI training opportunity. It is inappropriate and unprofessional to use mass emails to make disparaging statements–including arguments ad hominem–in order to humiliate or undermine individual colleagues or groups of colleagues with whom we disagree. The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution.

It’s always interesting to see postmodernists insist that their interpretation of a text is the One True Way to interpret things (given that postmodernists deny this is even possible).

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More Evidence that Postmodern Thinking is Id-Based

Philosopher Kelly Oliver gives us some more information about the postmodernist witch hunt of Rebecca Tuvel. Oliver makes various observations that support my contention that the postmodern mindset draws from the Id:

The feeding frenzy in response to Tuvel’s article couldn’t have happened without social media. The viciousness of the attacks was fueled by the mob mentality of Facebook. Dissenters, even those who just wanted a civil discussion of the issue, were shut down immediately or afraid to voice their opinions in public. Some who in private were sympathetic to Tuvel, felt compelled to join in the attacking mob. The thought police were in full force. Both Tuvel and the journal were under pressure to retract the article and apologize. In a private message to me, one of my academic friends said one editor’s Facebook apology for publishing such an “offensive” article, “sounded like something ISIS makes its captors read in a hostage video before beheading them.” Joking aside, there was (and still is) tremendous pressure to condemn Tuvel and her article. Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article. And at least one person who signed a petition demanding that Hypatia retract the text in question, later, when the media tides were turning, wanted to remove her signature from the damning letter. I wonder how many of those who signed that letter had actually read the article. Just this morning, I received a text from someone I respect, lamenting the cruelty on social media, but telling me she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive, even though she hadn’t yet read it.

Two interesting themes emerge:

  1. Group think among the academic postmodernists is so intense that even those who were sympathetic to Tuvel felt the need join in with the mob and go on the attack. This shows the primitive urge to signal you are part of the Proper Tribe among the various “scholars.”
  2. The Id-based urge to properly position oneself in this academic world entails criticizing something you did not read. When some scholar (I presume) told Oliver “she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive,” apparently she is oblivious to the fact her mind is primed to rely on confirmation bias which is contrary to scholarly thinking.

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More Postmodern Attacks on Science

One of the things we learned from the March for Science is that if you cut funding to science, you are anti-science.  Well, according to that definition, we now have more evidence that the social justice warriors are anti-science. From Ottawa to pull research chair funding unless diversity issue addressed at universities:

The federal granting councils that award the prestigious Canada Research Chairs say universities must offer up more diverse candidates for the honour or they will lose their funds.

Directors of the program, which sends out $265-million every year across 1,600 researchers, say new measures unveiled on Thursday would help to address the chronic underrepresentation of women, Indigenous people, those with disabilities and visible minorities among the award’s ranks. For example, only 28 per cent of chairholders at large universities are women, and they are more likely to be in the bottom of the program’s two funding tiers.

Under the new rules, postsecondary institutions have until Dec. 15 to create an action plan on how to achieve more diversity among their candidates, and then they have another 18 to 24 months to ensure the demographics of those given the awards reflect the demographics of those academics eligible to receive them.

In the postmodern world,  the most important aspect of scientific research is the researcher’s skin color and gender.  But why I am not surprised that Kirsty Duncan, the Canadian Science Minister imposing such “diversity” through threats of slashing funds, has a history of promoting crank science?


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The Id Atheists

Previously I noted how the thinking of a typical social justice advocate seems to be rooted in subjectivity and emotion.  I think this insight helps us to better understand the social justice crowd, but I think we can also dive deeper than this.  To help, let me dust off some old ideas from Sigmund Freud:

 Perhaps Freud’s single most enduring and important idea was that the human psyche (personality) has more than one aspect. Freud (1923) saw the psyche structured into three parts (i.e. tripartite), the id, ego and superego, all developing at different stages in our lives. These are systems, not parts of the brain, or in any way physical.

Now, I am not proposing we consider Freud’s ideas as scientific.  But they do seem to function quite well as useful metaphors when looking in on the postmodernists.  For consider just how uncanny it is that the description of the id maps so well to the postmodern social justice movement:

 According to Freud’s model of the psyche, the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives….. The id is the primitive and instinctive component of personality. It consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of personality present at birth, including the sex (life) instinct – Eros (which contains the libido), and the aggressive (death) instinct – Thanatos.

If you ponder the morality of the social justice crowd, it does indeed seem that the lion’s share stems from both the sexual and aggressive drives.

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Bill Nye Edits Out Biology Lesson


So Bill Nye the snake oil salesman is now trying to throw some basic biology down the memory hole:

When uploaded to Netflix, an episode of the educational children’s show “Bill Nye the Science Guy” cut out a segment saying that chromosomes determine one’s gender.

In the original episode, titled “Probability,” a young woman told viewers, “I’m a girl. Could have just as easily been a boy, though, because the probability of becoming a girl is always 1 in 2.”

“See, inside each of our cells are these things called chromosomes, and they control whether we become a boy or a girl, ” the young woman continued. “See, there are only two possibilities: XX, a girl, or XY, a boy.”

But in the version of the episode uploaded to Netflix, the segment has been cut entirely. While noncontroversial at the time, the 1996 segment appears to contradict Netflix’s new series “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

Trigger warning.

Here’s the actual video that was silently cut out:

In the world of postmodern science, I suppose teaching meiosis (the phenomenon behind these probabilities) will be deemed offensive.

Posted in post-modernism, Science, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The Death of the New Atheist Movement: Who is to Blame?

One of these days, I need to re-write the “About” section of this blog.  As regular readers may have noticed, I don’t post much about the New Atheist movement these days.  The reason is simple – the New Atheist movement is long past its peak and could very well said to be dead.  Back in 2014, I noticed some signs that the New Atheist movement was dying. In 2015, the evidence became even more persuasive. In 2016, Dawkins suffered a mild stroke, brought on partially from the stress of his Twitter battles which were eroding his credibility.  Ever since the stroke, Dawkins has significantly scaled back his atheist activism. And I think this was the final straw.  For the New Atheist movement has always been linked to Dawkins’ popularity and his ability to access the media.  Without Dawkins, all that is left is Sam Harris, who spends most of his time these days talking anything other than atheism while trying to convince people he is not an Islamophobe.  As a result, the modern day atheist movement has reverted back to the pre-911 days, where the leaders of the movement are largely internet personalities who spend most of their time turning over rocks in search of something to criticize (like Hemant Mehta) and members of organizations that are constantly suing to create atheist safe spaces.

Given where we are, it is not surprising to see that autopsies of the movement are starting to be written.  What is a little bit of a surprise is that one former Gnu, PZ Myers, is going on the offensive and blaming the Dawkins wing of the movement for their demise.

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Trying to Understand How Social Justice Advocates Think

Nora Berenstain,  an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Tennesse,  is also a hardcore advocate of social justice ideology.  Let’s have a look at her FB posting that berates Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.   Since I see no reason to think that Berenstain’s thinking is atypical among her social justice colleagues (in and out of academia), it will provide us an opportunity to analyze how social justice advocates think.

As I read through Berenstain’s essay, various themes emerged.

First, there is tribalism.  Berenstain not only demonstrates tribalistic thinking, but seems to revel in it:

A lot of folks are currently discussing Rebecca Tuvel’s recent article in Hypatia, “In Defense of Transracialism.” The article contains egregious levels of liberal white ignorance and discursive transmisogynistic violence. Unfortunately, many white philosophers have centered their responses to the public discussion of the article around concerns that the anger and criticism directed at Tuvel will have a negative impact on her career, suggesting that this would be bad given that she is a junior woman in philosophy. White feminist philosophers have a tendency to rally around other white women when we enact harm.

Here, she is hyper-focused on Tuvel’s race.

 levels of liberal white ignorance….. many white philosophers….. White feminist philosophers

This is very significant to her because Tuvel’s tribe is set against various other tribes:

Tuvel doesn’t cite a single woman of color philosopher, nor does she substantively engage with any work by Black women, nor does she cite or engage with the work of any Black trans women who have written on this topic…… epistemic violence against trans people, against people of color, against women of color, against Black women, against trans women of color, against Black trans women.

All of this makes sense given that postmodern ideology (expressed as “social justice”) is rooted in pure subjectivity.  The subjective essence of this ideology thus works to elevate and enshrine tribalism, as each tribe is, of course, the expert on the subjective reality of that particular tribe.  Thus, it looks like postmodern, social justice philosophy is largely about determining the pecking order of various tribes where feelings of oppression are the metric for such a hierarchy.

And that gets us to the second theme – feelings.

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Social Justice Philosophers On Display

As we have seen, a common trait of social justice activists is the need to silence opposing viewpoints.  A recent example comes with a twist – social justice activists are attacking each other and dragging their world of academic publishers into their outrage.

An article in the current issue of the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia has created such a controversy over the past several days that the members of its board of associate editors have now issued an apology for publishing it.

The article is “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. In the paper, Professor Tuvel takes up the question of whether the considerations that support accepting transgender individuals’ decisions to change sexes, which she endorses, provide support for accepting transracial individuals’ decisions to change races. She defends an affirmative answer to that question.

Seems reasonable to me.  I don’t see how it is that the logic behind transgenderism fails to extend elsewhere, such a transracialism.  If anyone out there is capable of making such a clear distinction, feel free to do so in the comments section.

The interesting thing here is that Tuvel is a social justice activist who is quite serious about her position.

Yet her article offended and outraged other social justice philosophers:

The result has been an eruption of complaints from a number of philosophers and other academics, expressed mainly on Facebook and Twitter. Among the complaints is the charge that the paper is anti-transgender.

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