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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

  • P.Z. Myers: Why is Charlotte Allen so mad at atheists? - Los Angeles Times (tip to David)

    P.Z. certainly gets at much of the truth as to why the believers hate the athesists. They certainly don't take kindly to anyone criticizing their belief systems. It seems to me this is born of a desire for approval. They want confirmation that they are on the right track, and when they don't get it they attack. You don't even have to mock religion to garner their scorn. It is simply enough to be a non-believer. As a child when I attended church, I remember walking home with friends, and how when we passed the home of someone who didn't attend church or attended a church different from ours we would make rude remarks about them. I think it was our way of justifying our beliefs. It was a way of confirming to ourselves that we were on the right track, and the others were mistaken. I see the same thing now with many adults who are at their root, insecure and fearful, They deal with the fear by attacking those who don't give them a daily pat on the back, and the assurance that they are okay.

  • Stolen RAF vice files spark blackmail fear | UK news | The Guardian
  • BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Scientology on trial in France
    The Church of Scientology has gone on trial in the French capital, Paris, accused of organised fraud.

    The case centres on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.

    The church, which is fighting the charges, denies that any mental manipulation took place.

  • Himmelgarten Café: Fast food makes kids stupid: anatomy of a media stitch-up

    It's an epidemic. The mainstream media complains about the shoddy blog journalism and yet it is clear in many cases they are no better and often worse. They should all place a caveat on their masthead, trust but verify.

  • On Criticizing Israel

    Well that was spot on. (And Becker didn't think I noticed his return.+:)

  • Darwin Plays Game Theory—and Wins | Animal Intelligence | DISCOVER Magazine
    Game theory, the branch of mathematics best known for exploring economics, has for the first time successfully predicted animal behavior in nature. It forecast a foraging strategy for ravens that was later observed in the wild.

  • Inhabitat » Taiwan’s Solar Stadium is 100% Powered by the Sun


  • Sunday Function : Built on Facts

  • God is Dependable

    Is that as in God wears depends.

  • Fallacy Files Weblog Archive: May, 2009 Q&A
    Q: If I may ask a technical question: why should moral fallacies be considered necessarily fallacious in the first place? This is not a matter of me disagreeing that "two wrongs make a right", "tu quoque", the naturalistic fallacy, or the moralistic fallacy are indeed fallacious. It is rather a matter of how morality is defined. As far as I can tell, all moral systems are a matter of opinion or social construct. "Good" and "evil" are not concepts rooted in physical reality, and different people, ideologies, and societies have felt free to define them differently, often in terms of the opinions of a god, a sage, or their own consciences. Now, while most people (at least when cornered and forced to deal with the issue consciously) might agree that "two wrongs make a right" is morally invalid, what is to stop anyone from defining his/her personal moral system in such terms as to make "two wrongs make a right" morally valid?―Aaron Adelman . . .



Wow PZ got published in the L.A. Times, about time he went mainstream!

You've got a very eclectic array of links today. The one that catches my eye today is the article On Criticizing Israel since I believe two it contains two very fundamental flaws. The first is obvious:"Still another obvious reason why one might pick Israel out for particular criticism without, for that, being an antisemite, is that Israel, unlike, say, Sudan, purports to be a member of that abstract community of civilized nations that we call 'the West'. Israel is a product of the Enlightenment: it is a multiparty democracy; it has its own Rousseau Society; it produces books about multiculturalism; it sends contestants to the Eurovision song contest; etc. None of these things is true of Sudan. For better or for worse, this means that Israel is held up to different standards." Holding one side of a conflict to a different standard instantly disqualifies oneself as a dispassionate critic. Furthermore it will not have escaped the Israeli's that there are two standards. This argument works well for the harder right wing Israeli elements since they can easily point to the American use of torture as a comparable example of expedience justifying results. The other criticism I have is that Smith himself is guilty of exactly the same crime he accuses others of committing in accusing critics of Israel as anti-Semites. Everyone who objects to a particular criticism of Israel is dismissed as an Israeli apologist. Having worked both side of the street in criticizing both Israeli and Palestinian actions I am familiar with all the epithets. Most people who criticize Israel for the disproportionate violence of the latest Gazan conflict are not anti-Semitic. By the same token criticizing Hamas for their violent policies does not make one an apologist for Israel.

Holding one side of a conflict to a different standard instantly disqualifies oneself as a dispassionate critic.

It depends what you mean by holding them to a different standard. Certainly bad acts should be equally condemned whatever their source.

Should a repeat offender be viewed the same as a first time offender? Should a person who steals to provide for basic necessities be viewed the same as one who does it for profit.

We routinely take culpability into account in the criminal justice system. Is it unreasonable to take it into account in the international community? Doing so doesn't excuse the bad acts, but acknowledges that we don't view such acts in a vacuum. What is a dispassionate critic?

Most people who criticize Israel for the disproportionate violence of the latest Gazan conflict are not anti-Semitic. By the same token criticizing Hamas for their violent policies does not make one an apologist for Israel.

Now there is something I can agree with.

What is a dispassionate critic? Now that is a very good question isn't it Norm? To my mind the ability to see the merits in an opposing view, even if one completely or even partially disagree and to argue against such a view without resorting to pejorative language or questioning the motives of ones opponent would be the minimal requirements. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict poses serious ethical questions. You have offered some interesting if indirect examples. Permit me to offer another. Is one government/organization more culpable than another if in the course of a violent conflict, it displays reckless disregard for the lives of non-combatants or if it directly targets them.

On the topic of your first article (P.Z. Myers: Why is Charlotte Allen so mad at atheists?), it brought back memories of coming home from our Baptist church when I was growing up. My parents would make comments about the Catholic church as we passed that or certain families that didn't go to our church anymore. Anyone else have similar memories?

What's interesting to me about the Charlotte Allen/P.Z. Myers exchange is that, 30-40 years ago, my attitude about religion was pretty much exactly what Charlotte Allen says about atheists - BORING! The tedium of sitting in church, the endless ritual, the repetitious sermons – I just couldn't understand how anyone with half a brain could sit through it, week after week, year after year. Once I was old enough to not pay attention to them any more, I was pretty much apathetic about believers.

Sure, there was Billy Graham and Richard Nixon sucking up to each other - but who believed that Richard Nixon actually gave a damn about Billy Graham's bullshit.

It wasn't until we had the likes of Pat Robertson, Richard Viguerie, Sun Myung Moon, Ralph Reed, and the rest of the vile menagerie of vile lunatics that my apathy morphed into loathing. Of course, we all loved their crowning achievement, George W. Bush. I do hate the bastards, and it hasn't anything to do with boredom.


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