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 Post subject: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleaders
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 9:15 pm 
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https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... sions.html

Gemli, hero at large out of New York is one of the most patient, stalwart people I have ever read. He tries valiantly to actually show the problems of the Sic et Non hero David Berlinski and his use and belief in Pseudoscience, and the cheerleaders are dense as oysters attempting to take a course in Calculus. It is humorous in the extreme, but painfully humorous. One can lead an apologist to books, but one can't make them think.

In the short run, it is fantastic that the apologists will egotistically maintain their own testimonies, but the big picture demonstrates to the world why no one these days wants to be a Mormon. Not only are they closed minded, but they are peevish little imps now.

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Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:32 am 
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The argument over Berlinski is of course as silly as the argument by him. I couldn't take much of it so perhaps I missed some later pearls but what I saw was disappointing. None of the defenders of evolution seemed to know how to pick one strong argument and make it concisely. Instead they indulged themselves in quoting content-free sneers like the one by Daniel Dennett. Even the quoted authorities who did make important points often couldn't resist rambling off into invective. This is self-indulgent failure to communicate and it supports the pretense that creationism is a peer ideology to evolution that deserves equal time.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:25 am 
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Physics Guy wrote:
The argument over Berlinski is of course as silly as the argument by him. I couldn't take much of it so perhaps I missed some later pearls but what I saw was disappointing. None of the defenders of evolution seemed to know how to pick one strong argument and make it concisely. Instead they indulged themselves in quoting content-free sneers like the one by Daniel Dennett. Even the quoted authorities who did make important points often couldn't resist rambling off into invective. This is self-indulgent failure to communicate and it supports the pretense that creationism is a peer ideology to evolution that deserves equal time.

Perhaps there is a madness to Peterson's method of continually bringing up science subjects. It's the only thing keeping his blog worth the candle. I suspect he has come to realize this so he goads the readers with what he knows will be controversial subjects.

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Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:51 am 
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Physics Guy wrote:
The argument over Berlinski is of course as silly as the argument by him. I couldn't take much of it so perhaps I missed some later pearls but what I saw was disappointing. None of the defenders of evolution seemed to know how to pick one strong argument and make it concisely. Instead they indulged themselves in quoting content-free sneers like the one by Daniel Dennett. Even the quoted authorities who did make important points often couldn't resist rambling off into invective. This is self-indulgent failure to communicate and it supports the pretense that creationism is a peer ideology to evolution that deserves equal time.

This is one of the traps of engaging anti-evolutionists. If you have the proper education, what they are saying usually is so self-evidently bad that you can't help but feel they are hoisting themselves by their own petard. The temptation is to point and laugh. If you are in the peanut gallery, that's fine because the pointing and laughing is much deserved. If you are choosing to engage them in a serious debate, then you have to actually do the legwork to show what is already evident to your preferred audience. Dennett is really bad about this, imo.

I remember a debate between Dennett and Plantinga a few years back where Dennett spent the majority of his time lightly baiting Plantinga into expressing what he thinks with Dennett's responses taking the tone of "See?! See?! I told you he was an idiot." I can't help but wonder who his audience was for that. Sure, there probably is a narrow band of people who are impressed with Plantinga's reputation and credentials who have the basic background in biology and philosophy to understand why what he was saying was so damning. For them, watching one of the brightest stars in all of Christian philosophy operate at the level of a college flunky might be a revelatory moment. This is the absolute best of what theology offers? But that's not mostly who is watching that. It's either religious skeptics who already know what Plantinga is about or people who don't immediately know why what he is saying is damning. Dennett seemed satisfied to mock him for being an ID proponent and similar ridiculous views he has. I think he thought he was just poking the ribs of people who already agreed with him and having a good laugh. This was very disappointing, because what he should've been doing in that exchange is helping to bring people who don't know what is wrong with what Platinga was saying into greater knowledge.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:51 am 
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I suspect that part of the trouble is that just because evolution is real doesn't mean it's easy to explain. Cars and cell phones are also real, but just try explaining how they work to someone who is skeptical of everything you say. There are lots of technical subjects on which you can have a spiel all lined up to go over great with people who are willing to nod their heads happily whenever you pause, but some bozo can ask you one pointed question and make you look like a fool, even when the thing you're trying to say is completely right, because your understanding of why it is right is full of gaping holes. Like most lecturers I say this from ample experience.

So a lot of defenders of evolution are embarrassed to discover that they're out of their depth talking about this complex subject, and they react by getting mad at their opponents. In particular, whenever anyone gets testy with an opponent for making a silly old chestnut of an argument that has already been demolished many times in the past by other people, what they mean is that they are unable to deal with this argument themselves at the moment. If they could smash the argument out of the park in a few words, after all, they'd hardly be testy about having to do so. They'd be delighted.

I think this is likely the main explanation for the invective on both sides. Even though only one side is right, most disputants on both sides know too little to make a real case, so they pound on the table.

Re Plantinga and Dennett: I've never heard either of them speak, but I don't think I've ever heard any debate at all that didn't leave me thinking of less of everyone who participated. My theory of debates is that debates suck.

One time years ago I was going through airport security and it wasn't busy. I had plenty of time, too. So I asked the guy with the circle-tipped metal-detecting wand, "Could you tell me how that thing works?"

"Sure," he said happily. So I settled in to learn about magnetic fields and stuff.

"You push this button here," the guy said, showing me a red button on the side of his wand. "Then you move it over the person like this."

I said, "Thanks very much!" and went on to my gate.

(Not a fable. I don't remember which airport it was now, or even what year it happened, but it really did happen to me just like that.)


Last edited by Physics Guy on Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:56 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
The argument over Berlinski is of course as silly as the argument by him. I couldn't take much of it so perhaps I missed some later pearls but what I saw was disappointing. None of the defenders of evolution seemed to know how to pick one strong argument and make it concisely. Instead they indulged themselves in quoting content-free sneers like the one by Daniel Dennett. Even the quoted authorities who did make important points often couldn't resist rambling off into invective. This is self-indulgent failure to communicate and it supports the pretense that creationism is a peer ideology to evolution that deserves equal time.


Yes, but Physics Guy, you also have to understand who they're dealing with. Gemli, brilliant as he is in his own right, certainly has his limitations but it's precisely the message that he has and the way he presents it that is needed at Sic et Non. One of the regulars there, Same Lefevre, or something like that, is apparently a Ph.D. biologist and shares the same basic view that it's a half-assed, fault-ridden theory just as DCP, Kiwi57 and Midgley think. The problem isn't fundamentally a lack of chances at proper understanding.

I'd love for you to go over there and show them how it's done. See how far you get picking one strong argument and being concise about it. Please alert us when you do so I can cook up some popcorn and really sit back to enjoy.

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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:59 pm 
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I have been sorely tempted to go on over and see if I can stick to an argument and ignore the cat calls and just see how far they are willing to actually explore an issue without resorting to name calling. I would be banned though, based on my history, in a matter of a few posts, I am more than sure.

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Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:59 pm 
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Creationists / anti-evolutionists have a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose approach to being engaged by serious academic rebuttal. If they are dismissed or ignored, they use that to argue that they are being unfairly dismissed out of hand or, even worse, are being suppressed by a conspiracy of silence because their powerful arguments cannot be dealt with. If they are engaged, they use that to argue that this shows there is a legitimate controversy over their views where they hold a respectable, if minority view.

I don't begrudge academics for taking on either horn of the bull. Once you make the decision to engage for a wider audience, I think you have a duty to do your best to show where those arguments go wrong. There's a time and place for knowing mocking, but that's not it. Verbal debate is a terrible format for sorting out complex arguments. It just doesn't lend itself well to articulating complex information in a compact, easily understood manner. Debates advantage a person who is willing to shotgun a serious of bad arguments / assertions because it is much easier to make them than it is to explain what's wrong with them. Indeed, that strategy is popularly called the "gish gallop" after the creationist Duane Gish's habit of using it to great effect in debates with biologists.

Plantinga isn't on, say, a William Lane Craig's level or intent when it comes to gish galloping, but he does make arguments that are much easier to assert than they are to debunk. You have to know that going in to any exchange with him.

Maybe this is a great reason to not bother. I strongly lean in that direction. But if you do bother, I think you owe it to the audience to try your best to patiently explain with as much detail and nuance as you can muster for your position. Dennett both in general and in that specific instance eschews that for being satisfied that his interlocutor is taking damning stances. The second Plantinga starts defending ID, it's ballgame for him. On one level, sure, ya got him. That the people who know this are the least likely to need persuading in the first place doesn't seem to matter to him. It seems like it should matter.

Likewise, Dr. Peterson's fanboying of people like Berlinksi is, in of itself, damning. He loves to surround himself in the aesthetics of erudition, and stuff like this deflates that as a pathetic pretension. It's perfectly fine to note this and tut tut or have a good laugh. But if you want to engage him, especially if you want to engage him for the benefit of a neutral audience, then you have to go through the trouble of explaining why Dr. Peterson's endorsement of dishonest and incompetent figures like Berlinkski is in error and speaks to his intellectual judgment.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:54 pm 
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I was watching inherit the Wind, the Spencer Tracey version. Interesting exchange over evolution, Scopes was found guilty and had to pay $100 a lot of money those days. There was a local politician here in Australian blackmailed a Labor government to teach creation science in schools or they would not support any of the governments legislation.

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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:34 am 
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EAllusion wrote:
Plantinga ... does make arguments that are much easier to assert than they are to debunk.

Well, this is always the goal of arguing. Ideally one does it by making arguments that are impossible to debunk because they are valid.

But I know what you mean. In debates it seems to be irresistible for both sides to make arguments that aren't really hard to debunk, but for which their opponents won't be able to find the succinct rebuttal within the available time. Instead of threshing out the truth they're just exploiting the limited processing speed of their opponents' brains. It's an ad hominem fallacy: my opponent can only think so fast, therefore they are wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:36 am 
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If challenged, would the LDS apologists be able to support the Church position that dinosaur bones were planted by Satan?

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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:11 am 
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Physics Guy wrote:
EAllusion wrote:
Plantinga ... does make arguments that are much easier to assert than they are to debunk.

Well, this is always the goal of arguing. Ideally one does it by making arguments that are impossible to debunk because they are valid.

But I know what you mean. In debates it seems to be irresistible for both sides to make arguments that aren't really hard to debunk, but for which their opponents won't be able to find the succinct rebuttal within the available time. Instead of threshing out the truth they're just exploiting the limited processing speed of their opponents' brains. It's an ad hominem fallacy: my opponent can only think so fast, therefore they are wrong.

I would love to debunk this idea, but I have places to go, and people to see, so I really don't have the time right now.

But if I did, ...

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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:24 am 
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I win, I win!

Thereby proving my point.

I win twice!


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:01 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
EAllusion wrote:
Plantinga ... does make arguments that are much easier to assert than they are to debunk.

Well, this is always the goal of arguing. Ideally one does it by making arguments that are impossible to debunk because they are valid.

But I know what you mean. In debates it seems to be irresistible for both sides to make arguments that aren't really hard to debunk, but for which their opponents won't be able to find the succinct rebuttal within the available time. Instead of threshing out the truth they're just exploiting the limited processing speed of their opponents' brains. It's an ad hominem fallacy: my opponent can only think so fast, therefore they are wrong.

I know what you mean here, but it isn't even necessarily an issue of mental acuity. For example, it's just much easier to assert an irreducible complexity argument than it is to explain what is wrong with it in general or in the specific examples used. The volume of words and ideas required for the latter significantly exceeds the former. This is the case with a lot of religious apologetics or pseudo-scholarship, and it advantages people who use them in verbal debates.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:26 am 
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An argument that's ultimately invalid but hard to answer isn't cheating to me, though. If I myself can't concisely make clear what's wrong with the argument, when I disbelieve its conclusion, then it's fair to assume that my opponent honestly doesn't see that there's anything wrong with it. So in good faith they're making an argument that's hard to answer. That's what people are supposed to be trying to do. I don't see how we can blame anyone for it.

If we've failed to come up with succinct rebuttals to unsound or invalid arguments, then I think we have to admit our own failure and try to do better. The argument from irreducible complexity, for example, is definitely not a valid rebuttal of evolution but it is a legitimate and insightful point, and it deserves a serious answer. If it were posed as an honest question by a curious and unbiased lay person, everyone would agree that it was an excellent question.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:22 am 
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Physics Guy wrote:
An argument that's ultimately invalid but hard to answer isn't cheating to me, though.


It's only cheating when you dishonestly offer it because you know how it burdens your opponent and/or confuses the audience. Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot. But I'm not interested in what's "cheating" or not. I'm just interested in pointing out that verbal debates are a bad format to sort out the type of arguments you find in religious apologetics. Gish galloping abounds.

There are a handful of people who know how to prepare for this and come across well, but I find that to be the exception to the rule. Exchanges of papers is a vastly better way to see who has the goods, so to speak.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemli Continues Making Hash out of Sic et Non Cheerleade
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:45 am 
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EAllusion wrote:
It's only cheating when you dishonestly offer it because you know how it burdens your opponent and/or confuses the audience. Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot.

I agree that in that case it would be cheating. Do people really often do it? I'd prefer not to attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity—and relative to the complexity of some of these topics I think all humans are stupid.

Quote:
But I'm not interested in what's "cheating" or not. I'm just interested in pointing out that verbal debates are a bad format to sort out the type of arguments you find in religious apologetics. ... Exchange of papers is a vastly better way to see who has the goods, so to speak.

This is my bottom line as well.

The danger with longer formats is that they give people space to cover a range of contexts and this opens the door to bait-and-switch. So sometimes people don't really discuss with each other but instead spend half their papers discussing entirely different things from what the other person is discussing while using the other half to conceal that this is what's happening. I think this can even happen unconsciously. It can also happen in live debates, though, so the written debate is still a big improvement on them.


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