Category Archives: Opinion

The problem of debating without knowing what the f*** the position of your opponent is. 

Have you ever debated with someone who says “you Atheists believe we came from a monkey…” or “it’s you who believe this or that”?
Knowing what your opponent thinks or what his/her points are should be the basis of every debate for it to have some merit.

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I would like to say that our community is impervious to debating mere assumptions and that it is a bulwark of critical thinking, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case.

I cannot say I haven’t ever assumed what another person believes just by listening to the label that person has chosen to be labeled as, but that’s certainly not an ideal situation.

This is something that occurs when people are fed up with endless discussions and it is easier to dismiss a whole argument just by assuming what the other person will say based on the premise they’ve given than spending time listening or reading to what they are going to say to state their positions on a subject.

One common example is when a theist defends the idea that reality was created by a deity or group of deities and someone opposing that way of thinking assumes what other things that person may believe, like if the person is a young Earth creationist or a Bible thumping southerner who speaks in tongues.

While this may begin just with a misrepresentation of the other person’s position, it can easily devolve into a discussion where the topic at hand is nothing more than a strawman of what was originally being discussed; this situation is especially dangerous when it is a mob against an individual and rationality is not the goal, but bashing the individual who disagrees with the loud majority.

This is something that is prevalent in discussion sites that talk about subjective positions like politics, where each person has a different opinion even within the group, with varying degrees of acceptance between different propositions.

“I believe H”
“Then you are X, Y and Z because most people who believe in H also believe in X, Y & Z; therefore you are evil as I don’t share your opinion.”

As ridiculous as that example may be, plenty of discussions online are managed in such a way, making a cartoon of the other person’s position and then categorizing him or her as wrong or plainly evil due to the disagreement, mixing judgements of value with personal opinions and facts.
The discussion could soon become one side defending his or her own character against accusations about X, Y or Z.

At best this is the result of intellectual laziness or at worst of intellectual dishonesty.

The next example is about a picture of a assuming_positionswoman marching in favor of gun control, the response featured in here is against the way the

woman presented her case, not against gun control; the following responses misrepresent the position of the first response and assume what that person thinks of the whole debate, there is even one appealing to emotions.

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“To effectively debate someone you have to know their position even better than themselves.”

A common debating principle.

Logical fallacies related to this:

David Goodall’s Death Reaffirms How Important the “Right to Die” Is

As many of you may have heard by now, renowned ecologist David Goodall has passed away. While it is of course extremely unfortunate to hear about the death of somebody who was well-loved, I think the details surrounding his passing make for an interesting philosophical discussion.

The cause of his death was suicide, however it was not suicide in a way that society would consider “conventional.” Rather, he ended his own life by a method known assisted suicide. Assisted suicides differ from conventional suicides as they occur under the care, supervision, and judgement of physicians, therapists, and psychologists.

Goodall’s death seems to have reignited the discussion surrounding assisted suicide, especially regarding its philosophy and ethics, so I decided I would like to weigh in on this issue since it is something that I have personally thought, read, and talked about for a long time.

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To paraphrase a quote by Daniel Defoe, “There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.” If the statement is true, then we should have the right to determine how death and taxes occur and play out.

We have the ability to vote for our government officials who will then go on to enact legislation and policies regarding how much tax we will have to pay and how those taxes will be used. If you dislike taxation, you may likely vote for the candidate who supports lower taxes. If you find that paying more taxes is beneficial, you may likely vote for the person who takes that platform as well.

What I find so egregious however, is the fact that we don’t have a system set up which allows us to decide how we die. At the very least, one of the last decisions we ever make in our life should be how we depart this world. We write our wills, hopefully pick our nursing homes, and prepare our end-of-life care as much as we possibly can, however the vast majority of us still don’t have the ability to preferentiate when and how we die.

To die with dignity is a noble and novel concept. For someone to die on their own terms can be one of the most empowering choices they will ever make. It’s almost definitely how I will choose to go. I have been a personal supporter of the right to die for as long as I can remember. And I don’t mean just for terminally ill people. If someone wants to die and perhaps therapy, drugs, etc have all failed, then why should they be stopped from seeking assisted suicide as an option? It is their life, their body, and they have a fundamental right to seek this method of suicide.

Mr. Goodall had to fly all the way from Australia to Switzerland in order to end his life in the closest way possible to how he wanted. He said he would have rather died in Australia, but Australia’s laws made the prospect of finding a safe assisted suicide clinic impossible. While I’m glad he was able to find a facility in Switzerland, it is still slightly depressing to me that he could not die in his home country as he wanted.

We need to give people safe and effective ways to end their life. Doctors, therapists, psychologists, facilities, and equipment dedicated to assisted suicide.

David spent his last hours with his friends and family while enjoying his favorite food and activities. During his final moments, as he listened to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the last movement ‘Ode to Joy’ began. David flicked a switch which would administer the drug that would stop his heart and his eyes closed for the final time just two minutes later.

Much like the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood, women who want or need abortions will seek alternative and dangerous methods if they are not given easier access to safe abortion facilities. If people want to kill themselves, they’re going to do it. We should at least give them a space which is safe and dignifying.

Response to the “Perfect Earth”

Have you ever actually looked at our planet? How many places on Earth would actually kill you if you were there? How many places on Earth are lethal to life in general, let alone human life? I’m sure in your natural state (meaning completely naked and unaided) if we dropped you just about anywhere from where we originally evolved from you would eventually die due to the environment.

So let’s talk hypothetically, if we dropped you in the center of Antarctica (or any other living animal for that matter) you would quickly freeze dry within a few minutes. I’m sure if we put you on top of Mount Everest (or any other animal for that matter) you would suffocate and die (if not freeze to death very rapidly first.) If you were put on the bottom of the ocean (which by the way makes up 70% of the earth’s surface) you and many other animals would instantly die ( FYI you would be crushed by the sheer pressure of the water before you could drown). I’m sure if we put you on the middle of a salt flat somewhere in the Kalahari Desert you would eventually die and completely dehydrate into a mummy, same goes with most other animals.

By the way salt flats in deserts are not very uncommon as deserts make up some 33% or a 3rd of earth’s non water covered surface. That’s just short of 10% of the entire earth’s surface when you include the water of the oceans. So that means 20% of the earth’s surface is left… but that also includes other things like tundra, artic and subartic, mountains, temperate zones, rainforests, and tropical regions. In our natural state, we can only survive in tropical regions. Tropical regions comprise approximately 7% of the earth’s dry land surface or just short of 2% of earth’s total surface and sustains over 50% of all species, that’s not very much space… In-fact if you just stand out in the sun long enough you would eventually die due to exposure… These are simple facts.

There are very few areas where a human can naturally survive, and those areas are filled with very large predators that evolved to eat us. For a place that was supposedly so perfectly created for us, it sure seems to want to kill us a lot; and has a great deal of completely uninhabitable areas and areas that are inherently dangerous to we fragile humans… So much for that intelligent design hypothesis you had.

-Daniel Bennett

Dan’s Rant on Fad Dieting

There’s a woman here that is one of our clients that happens to be a vegan…how do I know she’s a vegan? She won’t stop fucking talking about it and it’s purported moral and health benefits.

It pains me to hear nonsensical ideology and woo presented as facts from what’s really just a lifestyle choice (and more power to you if it makes you happy). We get it, you’re a vegan and a business woman who’s income allows you to eat fad food and enjoy an eccentric diet that gives you a smug sense of self- gratification and moral superiority in your quest for who’s the healthiest person in the room. In all honesty, I see it as a form of middle aged image insecurity.

Guess what, your genetics already has your count down timer set and there’s only so much you can do to extend it, “welcome to the lottery.” So while you stuff you face with chickpeas, kale chips, gluten free bread, and wash it down with fluoride free alkaline water from Japan; I’m going to enjoy my burger and fries, with a coke because guess what lady, you only live once; enjoy it and for fucks sakes smell the flowers every once in a while. You’ll be happier and who knows, you might even live a little longer in doing so.

The problem with E.T.

It’s statistically possible (and likely even in our own solar system) for there to be life on other planets, even intelligent life for that matter. But because our universe is so vast, the likelihood of our species making any contact with another intelligent alien species is extremely remote… I’m just being realistic.

The next closest star Alpha Centauri takes 4 years for its light to reach us, this would make space travel very difficult for the long distances it would take to make physical contact. And even if they had the technology to visit, what would compel such a highly advanced alien race to seek us out?

Here’s the problem with our simplistic view on aliens in the universe. Typically pop culture displays them as being only about a few hundred years more advanced than we are. The reality is the universe is vastly old, 13.4 billion years and counting. It would not be entirely improbable that a potential visiting alien species would be millions of years more advanced than us.

A species that was theoretically 5 million years more advanced than us would be unfathomably ahead in technology and we wouldn’t even comprehend the advancements that they were making. There would be technology we would have no idea would be even possible. As for those ancient aliens conspiracy theories, it is laugh worthy to think that a highly advanced alien species would visit this planet and not leave a massive technological imprint on our species in the process; that is if they did decide to help us out.

It’s safe to assume that any reasonable person has at one time or another gazed up at the night sky and dreamed of what or  who was out there just waiting to be discovered. Afterall, it would be fantastic to finally answer the question “are we alone in the universe?” Optimistically most likely we aren’t, but chances are we will never meet. Even if they did visit us, would we even know it or be worth their time?

Mob behavior and the feeling of being right

People don’t want to understand, people want to feel they are right.

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Disagreeing online has become a dangerous thing to do, the internalization of beliefs and the fanatization of those who hold said beliefs puts an end to rationality and opens the door for visceral discussions.

“Attacking my beliefs is attacking me, as I am what I think”

When a person disagrees with the notion a group holds dear, the usual reaction includes personal disqualifications, personal attacks, public mocking and exposure of personal information to shame that who dared to have a different opinion.

This happens because when a person feels the support of a group in which he or she is part of the majority, what the majority believes is taken as the truth.
If you were to go to an online group or forum dedicated to a certain topic, whether it is politics, conspiracy ideas, social movements, even fan clubs, and said “I’m not X”, sooner or later the conversation would devolve into an insult fest, in the case that the post is not deleted from the site and the user banned before the mob notices the one that is different.

I’d like to attach this behavior to those who I disagree with, but I’ve seen this kind of irrational and tribalistic behavior occurring within certain circles I’m part of, ending up forming eco-chambers where differing opinions and cognitive growth go to die.

“Understanding why the other person thinks he is right is more important than being right oneself”

Maslow constructed his model based on how people behave and what they need to do in order to achieve self-realization, forming part of a group and feeling one belongs is one of the most important factors in the process of achieving self-realization.
I’m mentioning this part because peer-pressure and the desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves is usually the reason why we, as humans, tend to behave in certain waves that include attacking those who are different, those who disagree, those who don’t have opinions and beliefs like ours.

Are we really far from our cousins the chimps or are we still following our instincts in order to survive while we keep self deluding ourselves into thinking we are “the rational ones”?

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Get them before they think and they’ll be here for life.

Child indoctrination, the triumphant strategy to spread a religion

After a brief discussion on gay rights I said to a Catholic acquaintance of mine that if that form of bigotry in which they deny the same rights to a certain group of people is their humanist approach, then I was happy not to be part of said church anymore, to which she responded: “You are a member of the Church from the moment you are baptized, whether you like it or not.”

Her answer made me think about what that meant for their belief system, as it needs to be implanted before the person is capable of rational thinking, they have to get us before we have the faculty of critically analyzing their claims.

They unconsciously knew how hard they’d failed the moment they invented Limbo for unbaptized children, making their parents worried of the kids’ afterlives back when infant mortality rates were sky high, forcing them to get their offspring baptized, adding another number to their annals of saved souls/herd.

But don’t you worry, Limbo has been repealed by the previous Pope, just like that.

If you take a 12 year old kid that has never heard about the Easter Bunny and tell him or her that a rabbit comes a certain day of the Jewish calendar to spread decorated hen eggs or chocolate eggs, he would be skeptical of said claim, but if you tell this to a 4 year old child he or she may believe it for the next 8 or so years; so you better take them while they are young and indoctrinate with something that even adults believe, no matter how impossible it is to be true, before they develop a critical mind.

You can leave the Roman Catholic Church, you only need to fulfill the requirements in the ACTUS FORMALIS DEFECTIONIS
AB ECCLESIA CATHOLICA
which constitutes an act of apostasy, heresy, and schism, but is completely unnecessary unless you’re planning to move to Germany.

How do you know when an ideology is self-defeating?

  • If an ideology needs to be implanted in a mind that cannot comprehend its meaning, the ideology is self-defeating.
  • If an ideology needs to be imposed through the use of violence instead of rationality, the ideology is self-defeating.
  • If leaving the it is considered a crime by the same ideology, it is self-defeating.
  • If an ideology needs to be sustained through faith alone, without a basis on reality or feasible evidence, the ideology is self-defeating.
  • If indoctrination is the main way to convert people to it, denying critical thinking and punishing questioning, the ideology is self-defeating.
  • If apology needs to be taught in order for the people to defend it and rationalize it, the ideology is self-defeating.