Author Topic: Oh no. Oh God no.  (Read 27848 times)

Anacalius

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #180 on: April 29, 2008, 03:02:36 pm »
@Anacalius, you misunderstand what logic is. What you're thinking of is probabilities, and Lord J touched upon this, but didn't explain it quite properly. In the field of possibilities, there are three major areas:


Alright, I see.


God, if he is indeed omnipotent, can make these happen. A human being walking on water might be nomologically impossible (I don't know much about the laws of surface tension and stuff), but if he is God, it is indeed possible, if he broke the laws of physics while doing so (but we'd definetely notice something like that happening.


I'd still say the same thing though, just would have to replace a few words...
Most of the stories in the Bible are so extreme, obviously laws of nature, physics, etc. are being broken by God in order for this stuff to happen. If this is the case, then believing in a God that can do this still leaves my last statement in my post true. Just cut out the term "Logically" -


then there is no longer a point in thinking logically about anything and making definite decisions about anything, because God can simply distort reality at His will, and all of our thinking is in vain. In other words, if you believe in God, there is no point in thinking about anything because God will do whatever He pleases with our lives and our world. There really is no point in even existing, the only standpoint in our lives would be our deaths, where we would go to the afterlife and ask God why the fuck he did all this stuff....

"Thinking about anything" is contrasted to Science, how the world works, however you want to put it.
Obviously, this is an opinion of mine, and plenty of religious people think about these things and are interested in it, but there really is no point if they are simply going to believe that the very reality they are thinking about can be molded at God's Will.

Burning Zeppelin

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #181 on: April 30, 2008, 07:46:45 am »
Cupn00dles!? This has turned into a reunion thread...

And I don't understand Anacalius, your post sounds pretty spiteful towards God...are you religious or not?

Hadriel

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #182 on: April 30, 2008, 09:01:59 am »
Now if only Leebot and GrayLensman would come back.

Anacalius

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #183 on: April 30, 2008, 10:25:10 am »

And I don't understand Anacalius, your post sounds pretty spiteful towards God...are you religious or not?

Agnostic, and I didn't mean to make it sound "Spiteful".
I'll stop, for now.

Thought

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #184 on: April 30, 2008, 05:17:45 pm »
I do hope you'll forgive me for not responding to everything that deserves response, but there were a few points that seemed to merit reply.

And yet the females—thanks to their “berries”—gathered the overwhelming caloric majority of the overall human diet. I’d rather have berries seven days a week and no meat, than meat twice a week and no berries. I had trail mix on the airplane just the other day. Stuff like this in a more rudimentary form made up the vast majority of the human diet in times past. It’s not meat, but it’s satisfying enough to grant the mind a reprieve from its endless obsession with hunger. So much for your higher economic value argument, eh?

Supply and demand. High supply equals low demand (barring extra influences, of course, such as marketing). High supply equals low demand which equals low value. Fairly basic, really.

A very old argument which, much like religion, is accepted as common knowledge more due to its age than its veracity. Truth be told, monogamy is a specific social norm—not a biological trait.

I am terribly sorry if I stated that monogamy was a biological trait (I don’t see where I did this, but even if it was implied, I apologize). It is a social trait urged on by biology, but not one that can be found expressly in genes.

Of course, social customs influence biology in turn. The traits that we are taught socially to accept or expect in a mate influence what mate we will then choose. Social influences on natural selection are just as important as environmental influences.

I would maintain that humans are affected by both nature and nurture.

If you were to read that literature you so blithely cite

Holy crap in a basket, I cited literature?!

Even though our physical bodies (and our brains!) still have some apparent differences, the full extent of our similarities is astounding.

I am not disagreeing with these “astounding” similarities, but I am against ignoring a complete picture, which inherently must include "some apparent differences." These physiological differences are critical for a wide range of behaviors.

To provide just one example; Women have better immune systems than men, as a result of their sex hormones. However, that same increase in their immune systems also put them at a higher risk of autoimmune disorders (which are currently thought to be, in part, the result of our immune systems having nothing to actually fight). This physiological difference necessitates a difference in behavior; women and their doctors need to be aware of this increased risk factor and take the necessary precautions to address any issues that arise as soon as possible.

Let us apply this to transgendered individuals; men who become women would not have this natural predisposition, and so while we can easily imagine a world where their legal status is of that of a woman, their behaviors might still differ from that of a natural women. Yet in turn, depending on the levels of female hormones taken, this might become a factor (which would mean that their behavior should change accordingly), but at a significantly different point in their life.

If a behavior has no biological base, sure, get rid of it if humanity so desires. That is a possibility I am quite willing to accept. But when there is a biological base for certain behaviors, let's not choose willful ignorance.

Unfortunately, the only experiments that I am aware of that could soundly resolve the question of what behaviors are encouraged by genetics and what behaviors are purely social are entirely unethical, as they would require raising human children in a void of a social context.

Given both the physical and social differences as they currently exist, the goal should not be to attempt to create some sort of grey social expanse, where we are different but no one will admit to it; rather, those differences should be acknowledge but not allowed to hinder.

Yet really, I think our end point is the same; we both support actualized-equality.

I suspect you cited Wilberforce because his religion was so obviously the force that motivated him, and you found it convenient to connect that religious motivation with his desire to end the slave trade as well as slavery itself. I understand why you would want to do that, but you haven’t really done the intellectual legwork to connect that in support of your larger claim, that religion was the driving force for such events as the Enlightenment.

First part is almost right, second part not so much. I choose Wilberforce for that reason, but also because he is slightly famous and there was a good chance people might have heard of him. Does no good to cite a random abolitionist that you’d have to go to a university library to just find out he (or she, more likely) existed.

Like Hadriel, you danced around the question: "When religion does something good, do you praise it?" There are endless sorts of answers to that question, you could even claim that you don't know because, to your perception, religion has never done anything good. But for some reason which I am at a loss for, the question gets avoided.

Certainly, Wilberforce is not, shall we say, homoousian, through and through. With good there is also bad, and Wilberforce has mixed substance in this case. I have and continue to admit that "religion" has done bad things. There is a bit more than an iota of difference between the two, however, so the question is not if you can point out the ills of religion (you know you can, I know you can, everybody know that you can can-can) but if you can do something else entirely: point out the goods of religion.

As for the second part, that religion was the driving force for the Enlightenment; I don't recall stating as much. I seem to recall stating that religion provided the tinder and fuel that allowed the Enlightenment to take off, however. Indeed, there is a significant amount of the Enlightenment that specifically ties back to religion and can only be properly understood from a religious standpoint (yet this is more of a good historical approach than support for religion). But the driving force behind it... I might have made such a claim but I don't recall doing, I can't currently find evidence of such (but I've said many things, both in this thread and others), and it seems to go directly against my academic training (if I tried to write a history paper on that I'd be laughed at, and rightly so).

I do resent the constant claim by Christians that Christianity was the great engine of all positive accomplishment in the world, when this is so patently false.

And in contrast I do resent the constant claim by (some) atheists that Christianity was the great engine of all negative accomplishments in the world, when this is so patently false.

Here you make a good point, Thought, but your good point is also a distraction from Hadriel’s charge of Christian revisionism, which is one of the three central pillars of Christian Dominionism and has led our nation into an absurd debate about the intentions of this country’s founders.

That was Hadriel's charge? I totally missed that (I've also apparently missed out on most of that revisionism, possibly given my sheltered environment of historical study; it is said that being an expert means knowing more and more about less and less, so perhaps I have just by luck missed studying those areas where revisionism has occurred. Indeed, that areas that I do not know as well will only continue to increase as my knowledge of my chosen field deepens).

I don’t think so. It’s been fifty years—sixty, even—since World War II ended and (Western) Europe set out on the course it now follows. You are using the inversion form of Milton Friedman’s perenniual argument, “The next six months in Iraq will be decisive.” By insisting that we wait longer to see how Europe turns out, you are ignoring how well Europe has done for itself already.

That isn't an inversion of anything modern, that goes back to Solon (and indeed, it is good history besides). This in an entirely historio-centered bit of advice. History is the true judge of all things (but being a historian, what do you expect me to say? I’m biased, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true), and Europe's current assent isn't history yet.

Besides, as mentioned, it was since the fall of the Soviet Union that Europe was truly free enough for its accomplishments to be spectacular. Before then, Europe was in the shadow of the other great superpower; America. Its growth was hampered by having to at least nominally accept US policy in order to secure protection from the USSR.

The parts of Europe that have grown past religion the furthest, also tend to be doing the best in terms of those quality-of-life measures in which America used to pride itself in being Number One. Nowadays just about the only thing we’re Number One at is our incarceration rate.

Just a qualm with that means of measurement; being Number One means nothing if everyone is crap, and in reverse being dead last is no shame if everything is wonderful. Mind you, I am not saying European countries are only number one because everything’s craptacular, rather I am rejecting any ranking system of the sort, be it applied to nations, school students, or clam chowder (mostly, there is one exception because I am prideful and hypocritical, though I try to work on it usually; you’ll see it below).

It would be interesting if that were true, and of course there are plenty of religious conservatives who claim very loudly that it is, but the facts say otherwise. All types of stem cells show promise in medicine.

What, exactly, are you claiming is untrue? Perhaps it is this?

….medical potential in that all stem cells (in theory) should be able to be grown into any specific bodily tissue.

Wait, no, that is what you said. Well then, I must assume you are referring to one of the other two points:

Adult stem cells, however, are at a noted economic disadvantage because they aren't quite as flexible as embryonic stem cells.

If that is untrue, please do explain. All the literature I've read on this has indicated it, but I am not all knowing. Adult stem cells should be able to do anything an embryonic stem cell can do, but that hasn’t been proven yet.

Given that adult stem cells could be genetically identical to the patient (and embryonic stem cells could never be genetically identical), I see their potential as being greater.

Perhaps you are rather saying it is untrue that adult stem cell could be genetically identical to the patient? Or perhaps you are saying that the implied opposite (that embryonic stem cells could not be genetically identical to the patient) is untrue?

I am quite curious as to what you find to be untrue, given that these are generally basic definitions of the various components and their meanings with very little extrapolation (mostly just juxtaposition).

If our hypothetical omnipotent being could defy logic, then when what basis remains to evaluate its omnipotence? Defy logic? What does that even mean?

Actually, BZ provided a nice little proof for me:

Logical possibility - or, not self-contradictory[/b]. Now, THIS is what a logical possibility is. A square circle is logically impossible, because the idea is self-contradictory, as is the idea of a married bachelor.  1 + 1 = 7 is logically impossible, because the idea isn't conceivable, which is a good rule of thumb when considering what is logically possible and what is not.

Imposing limits on that which is unlimited is an idea that is self-contradictory, it is logically impossible.

There may well be no basis left to evaluate an omnipotent being if it is not limited to logic (of course, that doesn't mean it logic can't address it at all, just not in that specific manner). Omnipotence may or may not exist, the divine may or may not be omnipotent, it may or may not be logical, but that particular argument against omnipotence is itself illogical and so I reject it, on logical grounds.

... curiously, omnipotence may be logically possible but nomologically impossible. Very curious. Thanks for pointing that out, BZ.

To note, I am not arguing here that God is omnipotent (or indeed that omnipotence even actually exists), but that omnipotence is still a logical possibility.

What you are postulating is some kind of supernatural chaos, not omnipotence, and in any case you are describing something that obviously does not exist, as the universe is observed to be logical.

Not at all, that which has been looked at logically has been seen to be logical. Anything beyond that is the afore mentioned of argumentum ad logicam fallacy; that the arguments for something are not logical doesn't then in turn mean that the conclusion is false.

In advancing your solution to this riddle, you are reduced to denying the validity of our own perceptions. That’s not much of a solution, methinks.

Think harder, then.

My solution to the riddle is that an omnipotent being could create an answer that is neither "yes" or "no," as by definition it would have the power to do so, and then I displayed a possible example of a  such an answer (that answer being, essentially, "both"). I stated something could exist and gave an example. Or, in other words, I presented a hypothesis and gave an example of such a hypothesis in "the real world" (and I am using "real world" very loosely, just to mean something that I didn't make up and that isn't in this thread or limited to this forum). If you are to reject that, then you task is rather simple; find the flaws in the methodology.

Omnipotence could exist under one, and only one, circumstance:

Ye-nope. Omnipotence could exist under any circumstances it wanted to. Again, do not limit that which is unlimited. That you, Hadriel, or I cannot conceive of all possibilities reflects on the fact that we are not omnipotent. We are limited, but omnipotence (being defined unlimited power) is not. But take comfort in the fact that omnipotence might not exist (but if it doesn’t exist, it is certainly not because of that problem).

Incorrect. The scientific method is not a falsifiable object or condition, but simply a process. Hypothesize. Test. Evaluate. That’s the scientific method. Where is the fundamental wrong?

Don't know, but that is a red herring. As mentioned, every paradigm has shifted before, which should create the expectation that it will shift again. You might recognize this as scientific evidence. Every time we (humanity) have thrown a ball into the air, it has fallen down. Every time humanity as constructed a paradigm, it’s been discarded. Doesn’t mean that is will always be discarded, just like it doesn’t mean that a ball will always fall down.

It would actually mean that we were quite close to a paradigm shift if we could see what is fundamentally wrong with the scientific method.

Of course, just because there is the expectation that the paradigm will shift doesn't mean it actually will. From this... metalanguage, we should expect it, but just because it is statistically probable doesn't mean it is certain.

And mind, this isn't a religious standpoint, it is a historical one (and scientific, actually, but secondarily so). It is inherently not moderno-centric.

Really, you sure did put a lot of thought into that just to be taken down so easily, Thought. “The logic of logic is illogical.” Hah! =)

I have yet to see anyone actually dispute the logic (or illogic) of the statements. Have I applied "begging" the question incorrectly? In that entire argument, have I stated anything that can be identified as a logical fallacy? Certainly, I freely admit that I could be wrong. But your counterarguments have been limited to appeals to emotion (rather weak ones, too, and curiously religious in their nature). I am claiming that I made my argument logically sound. It is rather easy for you to tear it down, all you have to do is point out an actual flaw in logic (preferably citing the actual fallacy).

It’s always a bit chilling to imagine the people who marry stalwart Christians…far more so than the specter of sexual stink.

Actually, I think you'd be quite amused. Since you know a bit about me, I'll tell you a bit about my wife; she's a Ph.D. student in one of the nation's top ten biomedical research universities. It is a rather fascinating environment to be associated with, even tangentially.

If feminism hadn't made progress, Joss Whedon wouldn't have a career.

And that would be a travesty not worth imagining.

Sidebar: Jesus fuck, I sound like that?  I need to learn to explain things more effectively, given that I may have to teach people someday.

Unfortunately that is one of the great problems with academia; the higher you go, the harder it is to relate to the layperson. That is one of the advantages of taking some time off after you get your degree and when you start your post doc (... does your field have post docs?); to reconnect with humanity.

cupn00dles

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #185 on: April 30, 2008, 07:23:19 pm »
Urge to post rising.

MagilsugaM

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #186 on: May 01, 2008, 02:39:56 am »
I am getting sick of this topic...

Anacalius

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #187 on: May 01, 2008, 03:06:16 am »
I am getting sick of this topic...

Then stop reading it, and certainly stop posting if you're sick of it. =P

BROJ

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #188 on: May 01, 2008, 03:37:37 am »
Then stop reading it, and certainly stop posting if you're sick of it. =P
QFT; I left it a little while back as the topic had more tangents than a circle.


Lord J Esq

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #189 on: May 01, 2008, 04:10:14 am »
I’d say it’s about time for me to be departing again. These threads always seem to last longer than they ought to, and I much prefer to swoop in, make lightning, and swoop back out again…yet courtesy obliges my participation from the moment I set foot in them. At last, now, things seem to be tidying up. So, with Thought’s latest reply finally on the record, that’s the signal for a few last remarks from me, and then…away I go.

Quote from: Thought
Supply and demand. High supply equals low demand (barring extra influences, of course, such as marketing). High supply equals low demand which equals low value. Fairly basic, really.

Recall that your original foray into this line of thought was to show that economics was the source of sexism. You thought you had something when you suggested that meat had a higher economic value than plants, and that, because males were the ones who predominantly provided meat to the general population, males achieved dominance over females by controlling this important resource.

Then I pointed out that prehistoric females actually provided most of the human diet, and by your above remark I don’t think you understood the ramifications of this. Yes, it’s quite true that rare things often command a higher value, but it’s also beside the point. With females providing the majority of the human diet, they were the ones who “controlled” (to use your word) the most important food resource.

They could have held that against males, but they didn’t. They could have said “I have berries; do as I say or starve,” but they didn’t. Why didn’t they? Because that concept had not yet been conceived. The intellectual manipulation known as bargaining (and with it economics) would only come into being once humans developed civilization, since it was from the manual manipulation of tangible things that all intellectual manipulation followed, and in our story these humans aren’t to that point in history yet. At this early time, humanity was still much more closely in touch with its animal past, a past where—as with all higher animals—males and females had sex-specific behaviors, a divergence representative of whatever relevant evolutionary pressures were placed upon the species during its development, or similarly placed upon preceding species during their development.

Ironically, “meat” does have something to do with it: Not the edible meat of other animals of course, but the fibrous flesh of pre-humans themselves. Muscle. And males had more of it. Why is that? Nobody knows for sure yet, but it was probably some combination of stresses reflecting this set of general circumstances:

1. Pre-humans had many competitors and predators.

2. Pre-human males had considerable internal competition amongst themselves for “access” to females.

3. Pre-human females had to spend a significant portion of their own energy on reproduction.

4. Pregnancy itself was a physical hardship.

For the pre-human species to succeed (and give rise to the human species), these stresses needed to be relieved. That could have been worked out in any number of ways, and we see examples of some different routes in animal species like the spotted hyena or (for a prosimian example) ruffed lemurs, but in true primates a workable solution led to a strong sexual dimorphism early in the primate line, by which males consumed most of the calories, and with that extra energy developed a larger musculature. Females were left with less to eat, and therefore had to spend a greater percentage of their diet on reproduction, leaving them ill-equipped to become more muscular in their own right.

It is worth noting which areas of the body where this inherent difference in muscular capacity is most pronounced: specifically, the upper body—the chest and the arms. Everybody needed to run, and so females could only sacrifice so much of their lower-body strength before it became disadvantageous to the species. Likewise, everybody needed to be able to use their own bodies flexibly and under high physical strain, which meant females could only give up so much core abdominal strength. But in the upper body it was possible to give up much more. In so doing, pre-human females preemptively forfeited the ability of human females to compete with their male counterparts in much of the tool-making and specialized manual (i.e., hand-based) exertion that was to follow once human civilization began. A consequence to that was a further divergence of the behavioral roles between the sexes.

(I might suggest that anybody interested pick a primate of their choice and compose a list of activities shared between the sexes, and those limited to one sex only. The greater the sexual dimorphism, the more the first list will shrink and the more the second one will grow.)

In evolution, it is difficult to discover the circumstances which led to some particular development in a species. We are usually limited to generalizations. In this case the generalization is: The sex specialization worked, the primate order grew, and numerous individual species exist to this day—all of them with males physically dominant over females, to varying degrees.

So you see, male humans never “wound up” on top of female humans. They started out that way, because their pre-human ancestors evolved to be that way. It was never a question of who controlled the beef and who the berries. Male humans were dominant because that is how it had been in the pre-human past. It was all about competition and reproduction. Indeed, the later development of economics reflects this truth—not the other way around.

Entirely by chance, this dimorphism benefited the progenitors humanity, and so we passed into sentience and founded civilization. From that point, it took thousands of years of two things—the advancement of ideas, and the systematic oppression of females—for humanity to develop what we so casually describe as feminism.

Thought, you are well-studied and this is obvious. But perhaps you are not so well-informed on these areas where your religion interferes. And that’s no surprise: Religion, when it did arise, took up as one of its principle goals the institutionalization of sexism, which came into existence as humans passed into sentience and began to put their willful desires over their animal impulses. This included the attempt to preserve the sex-specific behaviors of earlier times, when in truth the sentient will rendered most of these exclusions obsolete, opening up nearly all behaviors to both sexes. What is “sexism” but the prejudgment of sex-specific distinctions where there are none, and bias against people based upon these prejudices?

Religion presumed that these sex-specific differences in our behavior were representative of supreme truths, and worked very hard (and very effectively) to preserve these differences—with a success persevering into modern times.

But while religion and other social institutions were busy shoring up the wall between the sexes, the human mind was busy eroding it. As ideas advanced, and new social orders came into being, the inherent importance of one’s sex steadily eroded—because so many of these new conventions were unrelated to biological sex. Whereas most animals are concerned with little more than food, water, mating, and predators, humans became involved with all sorts of crazy things, from linen to pianos…and the piano doesn’t care what’s inside your linen underwear. With the relevancy of sex-specific roles rapidly disappearing, yet religion and other institutions artificially imposing them upon everybody, it was inevitable that one day the dam would break, and the creations of the human mind would be turned, at least for a while, to the liberation rather than the enslavement of human beings. That happened in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries. The flood that followed led to 20th century feminism, and sexual emancipation for the entire species is now a reasonable possibility in the centuries to come.

Ah, religion! Bane of progress! Still it persists. Now almost alone among powerful social institutions, religion continues to prescribe gender roles for people based upon their born biological sex. But I ask you, Thought: Why bother? Would it really ruin your life if females aren’t made to answer to males? You yourself are in agreement with me, supposedly, about the actualization of sexual equality. (We’ll touch on that later.)

Let’s recap where we’ve been: It was animal society, not economics, which caused sexism to come into being. Early males and females of that era probably didn’t even think to question the idea that males were dominant, and before those questions did arise, primitive traditionalist conservatives beat them to the punch by erecting social institutions which silenced those questions and punished those who asked them. Cue the modern day.

Quote from: Thought
I am terribly sorry if I stated that monogamy was a biological trait (I don’t see where I did this, but even if it was implied, I apologize). It is a social trait urged on by biology, but not one that can be found expressly in genes.

You said it here:

Quote from: Thought
Thus, it is to the woman's evolutionary advantage for men to not "sow their wild oats," but rather devote all their resources to a single mate and the children produced there in.

Perhaps you were just being sloppy with the word “evolutionary,” but in any case forgiveness is easily granted—or it would be if you hadn’t persisted in the same idea by saying that monogamy is “a social trait urged on by biology.”

You are welcome to try and prove that. But, again, one quick look at Britannica ought to persuade you that it probably isn’t worth your time to argue a point you know is mistaken.

Biologically speaking—and since when did you advocate that people listen to their animal instincts rather than their rational thoughts?—most primates are polyamorous to varying degrees, not “monogamous”—a concept whose very word, by the suffix “-gamous” tells you that it is a social and not a biological invention. In humans, as with other primates, a roughly equal sex distribution gives rise not to tidy Christian lifelong pairings of two, but instead to intense competitions within each sex for access to the best mates on the other side, with the general result of polyamory in both sexes, and both males and females having multiple partners in their lives.

Due to male predominance in society, the laws and customs of humanity have generally favored polygyny (or at least tacitly condoned it), while often strictly prohibiting the female equivalent of polyandry. The reason for this is obvious: The males who wrote the laws for everybody else to follow wanted to keep themselves in control, and they were very adept at doing it.

Perhaps, then, in a very roundabout sense, there is one connection between evolution and monogamy: Evolution put males on top, and males then wrote the laws necessary to keep themselves there…monogamy being one example.

It worked for twelve thousand years with few exceptions, but, Thought, after all this time the truth is finally spreading across the developed world: Both sexes like sex, and it is a distinction of individuals—not of the sexes—as to who prefers more partners and who fewer.

Live with it. If your wife feels that you’re enough “man” to last her a lifetime, then consider yourself fortunate in that your ideology matches your physical circumstances, and work to make sure that Mrs. Thought does not come up with a reason change her mind. =)

Quote from: Thought
Of course, social customs influence biology in turn. The traits that we are taught socially to accept or expect in a mate influence what mate we will then choose. Social influences on natural selection are just as important as environmental influences.

A much more interesting and valid idea! This is why you’re so much more fun than Krispin. You really do have insightful contributions to make.

What you are talking about is something that I describe, in my own vernacular, as “social evolution,” the second of the three major types of evolution.

You are aware that biological evolution (the first of the three major types) operates on a scale of thousands of years at best, and more coherently on a scale of millions of years. In comparison, social evolution operates on a scale of hundreds of years—and sometimes within the space of a few generations, such as happened when steam power made long-distance breeding commonplace.

Therefore, for the past six thousand years, the effect of natural selection has been almost entirely nullified by our own social selections—customs, attitudes, political and religious considerations, and so forth. The result is that our evolution has accelerated by not less than two whole orders of magnitude. This is causing a great genetic confluence in the various branches of humanity, and more importantly it has turned natural selection on its head. Consider how many disadvantageous traits we are consequently allowing to thrive. For one example, people with blurry eyesight now have corrective lenses available to them, allowing them to be more competitive and thus more successful in reproducing—eliminating any natural selectiveness against poor eyesight. On the flipside, we are also encouraging the development of more positive traits that might not have made it in the wild. The brainy nerd, however stereotypical, is a good example. People with a lot of brainpower but relatively little charm or physical strength are now able to reproduce pretty much as easily as anyone else, with promising implications for future generations.

No doubt you know all of this, but it was such an interesting point you raised that I simply could not resist a bit of expounding.

(Incidentally, the third type of evolution is willful or “artificial” evolution. It’s just around the corner, and it will change everything. If we live through it, ZeaLitY might get his wish of humanity’s ascension to (relative) godhood.)

Quote from: Thought
I would maintain that humans are affected by both nature and nurture.

I am afraid that from this point on, you go into a number of irrelevancies that quite honestly bore me. Forgive me if I give them only limited attention. Case in point: Do I really need to say anything in reply to “humans are affected by both nature and nurture”?

I’ll focus more on your interesting remarks, though, so worry not!

Quote from: Thought
I am not disagreeing with these “astounding” similarities, but I am against ignoring a complete picture, which inherently must include "some apparent differences." These physiological differences are critical for a wide range of behaviors.

To provide just one example; Women have better immune systems than men, as a result of their sex hormones. However, that same increase in their immune systems also put them at a higher risk of autoimmune disorders (which are currently thought to be, in part, the result of our immune systems having nothing to actually fight). This physiological difference necessitates a difference in behavior; women and their doctors need to be aware of this increased risk factor and take the necessary precautions to address any issues that arise as soon as possible.

Let us apply this to transgendered individuals; men who become women would not have this natural predisposition, and so while we can easily imagine a world where their legal status is of that of a woman, their behaviors might still differ from that of a natural women. Yet in turn, depending on the levels of female hormones taken, this might become a factor (which would mean that their behavior should change accordingly), but at a significantly different point in their life.

So, “these physiological differences are critical for a wide range of behaviors,” thus implying that you actually do prefer the continued imposition of sex-specific social roles.

What you said in your above remarks is effectively this: Humans should seek to preserve their health, and, to the extent the sexes have anatomical differences, preserving one’s health will have a sex-specific component.

I agree with you!

Nevertheless, when taken in the context of your remarks, you are making one hell of a conceptual mistake: Males do indeed have an edge on females in some physical tasks, but that doesn’t mean that females lack the desire—or the competence to compete. Name me an activity outside health and fitness (and reproduction) that sensibly requires sex-specific behavior. Name me any activity outside the realm of human anatomy where there is not a single female on Earth suited to perform it, or likewise for males.

Sculpture? Freeway construction? Navigation? Marathon running? Teaching? Film directing? Cooking? Calculation and mathematics? Swimming? Dancing? Storytelling? Singing? Directing? Commanding troops? Fighting? Stapling papers? Horseback riding? Sailing? Stockbrokerage? Using Daniel Krispin as a piñata? Inventing? Smelting? Glassblowing? Rock climbing? Raising children? Stomping grapes? Wrangling? Wrestling? Surfing? Fighting fires? Building buildings? Philosophizing?

Hah! Name me even one, Thought, and we’ll talk further!

Quote from: Thought
If a behavior has no biological base, sure, get rid of it if humanity so desires. That is a possibility I am quite willing to accept. But when there is a biological base for certain behaviors, let's not choose willful ignorance.

Unfortunately, the only experiments that I am aware of that could soundly resolve the question of what behaviors are encouraged by genetics and what behaviors are purely social are entirely unethical, as they would require raising human children in a void of a social context.

Given both the physical and social differences as they currently exist, the goal should not be to attempt to create some sort of grey social expanse, where we are different but no one will admit to it; rather, those differences should be acknowledge but not allowed to hinder.

Thank you for using my phrase, “willful ignorance” in the sense that I mean it.

Your proposed unethical experiments would be most interesting indeed, but they would be misleading for one very important reason, which I shall get to in a moment.

Any attempt to evaluate the “appropriate” roles for people based upon their sex by using experimentation to isolate and measure the genetic contribution to behavior is doomed to run up against this problem: Behavioral tendencies are driven by group dynamics, with or without a preestablished social context, and in any case there is no end of variation at the individual level. The experiments will yield considerable sexual overlap among individuals, and this overlap is a serious argument against sex-based exclusion.

That by itself should be enough to stop the conversation for most people, but let’s go a bit further, shall we? Very shortly in your experiments, a more serious problem would arise: Remember that, genetically speaking, humanity is still an animal. These children of yours would be feral, and their behaviors would correspond (roughly) to the commonalities we see in all primates. If put together in a group of roughly equal sex distribution, the males once reaching puberty would almost invariably begin abusing—we would call it “abuse” today—the pubescent females, and eventually the familiar specter of barbarianism would rear its ugly head. Sad but true: Our past is as bloody a one as any we see in nature documentaries. Genetically, we are predisposed to being a even crueler species than we actually are. If an uncivilized human were given modern military and economic powers and instructed in their most basic execution, he or she would destroy people left and right. Thus, I am unable to see how we might draw meaningful prescriptions for sex-specific behavior from your experiment. To avoid barbarism and produce cleaner results, we would have to raise the specimens into a minimum level of civility—and enforce these minimums—which, of course, would contaminate the experiment. If we let the barbarism stay in, the results would be preposterous as a source for sex-specific behavioral prescription.

That too should be enough to stop the conversation, but I know you would not let me get away with failing to mention this one final problem: The nurture component cannot be extracted. What are we going to do, raise the children in the vacuum of space? Put them in an environment—any environment—and they will be shaped by it. Put any two or more specimens together, and they will shape each other. Give even one solitary, isolated specimen the chance to pass into adolescence, and they will shape themselves. In any case, the experiment is hopeless contaminated. What if Test Environment A promoted female dominance and test environment B promoted sexual parity? Eh? Or forget that altogether: What if both Environments A and B promoted male dominance?

How could you use any of this data to draw inherently sex-specific behavioral prescriptions for all humanity? You couldn’t! That’s the whole point of evolution: Species will adapt to their circumstances. There are no fundamental constants. Everything changes. Everything! If you tried to draw sex-specific behavioral prescriptions from your experimental conclusions, you would be reduced to imposing unnatural systems.

Humanity is not written in stone. What we are is only for the moment, and tomorrow is ours to pursue. If a female wants to serve aboard a submarine, then she has the right to pursue that ambition as surely as any of us have a right to pursue our own non-oppressive ambitions…and society will be irrevocably changed!

There is no boundary between nurture and nature. The two blend together like night and day, in faerie light. Therefore, Thought, the results of your experiments would be misleading. Yes?

Quote from: Thought
Yet really, I think our end point is the same; we both support actualized-equality.

Believe it or not, I actually think you mean what you say. Many sexists hide behind the language of equality—because that is what they are reduced to these days—but I think you are speaking sincerely here. Your defense of religious customs notwithstanding, what little I know about you points to somebody who probably sees the futility of trying to order females (or males) how to live their lives, solely based upon their genitalia.

If only you were not so beholden to your religion, you would probably be a natural ally of mine in the cause of sexual equality.

Quote from: Thought
Like Hadriel, you danced around the question: "When religion does something good, do you praise it?" There are endless sorts of answers to that question, you could even claim that you don't know because, to your perception, religion has never done anything good. But for some reason which I am at a loss for, the question gets avoided.

You may have a point in that I probably didn’t address this explicitly. I will do so now:

Speaking only for myself, my method of judgment is holistic. Religion is a good example. If religion produces some discrete good, such as the medieval monastic invention of the alarm clock, or the magnificent stringed compositions of Vivaldi, I may well praise the good thing itself…but not the religion that made it happen. Here’s why:

I have already established (to my own satisfaction) that religion works against the human good by promoting ignorance. Religious faith is an evil in my sense of the word, and thus religion itself is simply the sociological institution of the underlying faith—a system of rules and doctrines and norms built upon an evil core and supported by some fraction of the people.

Thus, to me, religion is always inherently a less desirable a route to progress than some generic but neutral (or positive) alternative. For instance, to go with that musical example, Christianity has given rise to some of the world’s most beautiful music, and I love it. However, music is not unique to Christianity. Therefore, it would still be possible to have a musical world without Christianity—even if some of the pieces I love so much would very likely never have been written, nor their genres created.

This informs me that Christianity does not own the concept of music. Lack of ownership means no credit for the accomplishment. The best that can be said is that Christianity played a supporting role…and there are plenty of alternatives out there to support the development of music, so why bother with Christ? Christianity’s role in the development of music, however prominent it made itself out to be—up to and including the prohibition of secular music for many years, and a monopoly on composition—was incidental to the music itself. Without Christ, other music would still have arisen, and who is to say how much more or less beautiful it would have been?

(Indeed, in this analytical sense, even Christianity is nothing more than a composition of smaller elements—leading to a reducibility that results in the absurdity that compels me to fold my methodology of judgment into a holistic, big-picture finish.)

We have this phrase “the good done by religion,” to which I say—was it really the religion itself doing the deed? Therefore, Thought—and all you others—I derive a general rule for answering: Uniqueness. Only those unique deeds done by an entity (say, religion) are owned by the executive entity. So, in the case of religion, only those things which could never arise outside of religion are eligible to be said to have been “resulting from” (as opposed to merely “executed by” or “facilitated by”) religion.

Therefore, the answer to your question, do I praise the good done by religion, is this:

There is not a single unique good religion has ever produced. Every observed good facilitated by religion has also occurred secularly. Thus, an opportunity to test the question has not yet come up. (However, I can tell you right now that my answer would be, naturally, “Yes.”)

Conversely, there is one unique evil to religion: Religious faith. From this faith, we got such disgraces as the Inquisition.

To me, that puts it all in perspective. Religion acts as a conduit for many good and bad things, but when it comes to creating good and evil, religion has only ever created evil.

(Heh: On my Winamp playlist at the time of writing this: “Requiem Overture,” from the Lord of the Rings trailer. If you’re familiar with the piece, you’ll appreciate the “heh.”)

Quote from: Thought
As for the second part, that religion was the driving force for the Enlightenment; I don't recall stating as much. I seem to recall stating that religion provided the tinder and fuel that allowed the Enlightenment to take off, however.

You said this:

Quote from: Thought
The Crusades, for example, provided the tinder for the Renaissance and Enlightenment…

As I acknowledged at the time (although perhaps not explicitly), there are two ways to interpret what you said, one being that religion promoted the Enlightenment and the other being that religion, through its abuses, compelled the Enlightenment. I took you to mean the former, but I acknowledged both interpretations.

Quote from: Thought
And in contrast I do resent the constant claim by (some) atheists that Christianity was the great engine of all negative accomplishments in the world, when this is so patently false.


If perchance you meant to implicitly associate me with that group, be apprised that I’m not an atheist. It seems I am so often reduced to reiterating this simple fact, but I guess it is understandable for people to caricaturize their opponents. I am guilty of that myself sometimes.

Anyhow, as to your remark: I say, not at all! Not at all. Christianity was hardly the engine of all negative accomplishments in the world. There are plenty of other evils out there. Merely, I say, Christianity has distinguished itself in the elite club of the most infamous evildoers.

Quote from: Thought
Quote from: Josh
Here you make a good point, Thought, but your good point is also a distraction from Hadriel’s charge of Christian revisionism, which is one of the three central pillars of Christian Dominionism and has led our nation into an absurd debate about the intentions of this country’s founders.

That was Hadriel's charge? I totally missed that (I've also apparently missed out on most of that revisionism, possibly given my sheltered environment of historical study; it is said that being an expert means knowing more and more about less and less, so perhaps I have just by luck missed studying those areas where revisionism has occurred. Indeed, that areas that I do not know as well will only continue to increase as my knowledge of my chosen field deepens).

Phew! To retrace this line of discussion, I’ve had to make several leaps back into the conversation. Here’s where it all began. I will present the relevant bits in nested format:

Quote from: Josh
Quote from: Thought
Quote from: Hadriel
Quote from: Anacalius
Quote from: Hadriel
It has been stated in this thread at some length that in America in particular, atheists are a distrusted minority.  In fact, several state constitutions (including that of my state) possess clauses which bar atheists from holding public office, and there have been more than a few horror stories of people being assaulted on account of their nonbelief.  In a climate so enraptured by an us-versus-them mentality held over from the Cold War, when atheism was (supposedly) a mark of communist sympathies, an atheist is bound to experience discontent.  The American public equates religion with morality, and as such automatically correlates atheism with its inverse, failing to realize that morality is also a societal phenomenon.  There are massive numbers of religious people who simply pick and choose the doctrines from their holy books that they wish to follow; this alone is evidence that morality and religion are not synonymous.

Yeah, yet another example of society's (and perhaps humanity's) stupidity. "Religious freedom" in America, yet if you aren't religious of some kind, you are at a loss, here. There's a whole lot of false freedom in America, I tell ya. =P
Not saying that only applies to America, but you get the gist.

It amuses me how Americans still believe they have freedom of speech.  Saying anything that even slightly criticizes the status quo apparently warrants abject censure from the profitmongering, irresponsible corporate whores who dare to call themselves the media.  Say anything that even vaguely opposes America's actions or calls its history into question, and you are branded a traitor; this was demonstrated recently in the response to Jeremiah Wright's sermons, which, aside from AIDS being a government conspiracy, really aren't that far from the truth as far as discrimination against minorities goes; America has had an abysmal track record.  We annihilated the Native Americans, pressed Africans into slavery, passed the Espionage Act and Sedition Act during World War I, incarcerated Japanese-Americans into what were effectively concentration camps during World War II, continue to levy economic oppression upon the lower classes, and again, have a tendency as a nation to discriminate against non-Christians and especially people who subscribe to no faith at all.

Historiography is vital in this claim, and alas it does not hold up. Individuals have been calling America's history into question for the last 80ish years. They aren't branded traitors, they're granted tenure. Academia is awash with individuals who call America's actions and history into question and no, they are not branded traitors but rather praised. Read a modern American History textbook and compare it to a textbook from to years ago. Things have changed quite a bit, all because people called America’s history into question.

Here you make a good point, Thought, but your good point is also a distraction from Hadriel’s charge of Christian revisionism, which is one of the three central pillars of Christian Dominionism and has led our nation into an absurd debate about the intentions of this country’s founders.

And here we are again. What Hadriel said, in passing, was “Say anything that even vaguely opposes America's actions or calls its history into question, and you are branded a traitor…” You responded with an indictment of American academics—fair enough, but a distraction from the point. Had you inspected Hadriel’s claim with a bit of inductive reasoning, you might have seen what I saw: America’s factual history is very well-documented, but its perceived history is under constant attack from one specific group: Christian Dominionists. They are the ones who are branding people “traitors” for “(calling America’s history) into question.” They do so because they have their own, revisionist brand of history to sell.

Now, with much false modesty—e.g., “it is said that being an expert means knowing more and more about less and less, so perhaps I have just by luck missed studying those areas where revisionism has occurred”—you implied that there is no concerted effort to revise America’s history. Demonstrably wrong, although I’ll have to save that demonstration for another time; those who are interested may, in the meantime, research this themselves. Then you tried to hide your tracks by questioning our conversation, but unfortunately for you I went to the trouble of retracing the relevant excerpts and doing the necessary explication. So, now we are left with my original point, that you have (twice, now) tried to distract from the Christian revisionism that is poisoning this country and cheapening its discourse. Sir, what are your motives?

Quote from: Thought
That isn't an inversion of anything modern, that goes back to Solon (and indeed, it is good history besides). This in an entirely historio-centered bit of advice. History is the true judge of all things (but being a historian, what do you expect me to say? I’m biased, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true), and Europe's current assent isn't history yet.

And still you ignore the six decades of immense change since World War II. Come on, Thought! The demise of European colonial imperialism. The socialization of the entire continent. Administrative unification. Cultural blending. Immigration. Reconstruction. Peace! Peace in Europe for sixty years, with few exceptions! That’s amazing all by itself.

I understand the importance of your general remark: The book of history has not yet closed on the 20th century, and may not yet for a long time to come. Nevertheless, you undercut the importance—and objective measurability—of much of what happened in that era. Why you do this, I know not, but as a historian I am sure you have a reason. As a devout Christian, I fear it may not be the purest reason….since, after all, this line of discussion arose in regard to my earlier identification of Europe as secular.

If I may? I think you’re waiting for Europe to fail, so you can gloat.

Quote from: Thought
Mind you, I am not saying European countries are only number one because everything’s craptacular, rather I am rejecting any ranking system of the sort, be it applied to nations, school students, or clam chowder…

Are you rejecting ranking systems on principle, or are you simply rejecting the specific ranking systems implicitly under discussion? The former smacks of foolhardiness or, worse, pettiness, and I’d like to see your reasoning if indeed that is what you meant. The latter is petulant and, possibly, ill-informed of you, and, in that case, I’d like to see your critique of said ranking systems.

Quote from: Thought
What, exactly, are you claiming is untrue?

Hopefully, you’re not a religious fundamentalist, and thus you would not be included in my censure. But if you are, then of course it would be the general thrust of your comments, which discourage through weasel words the pursuit of embryonic stem-cell research.

Let me put it another way: As I said before, all forms of stem cells show medical promise. Thus, are you in favor of research into all forms of stem cells—including embryonic stem cells?

If you are indeed in favor, then my complaint against your remarks would evaporate due to the whole thing being a misunderstanding on my part. If, on the other hand, you are opposed, then of course my complaint is affirmed—you would, in that scenario, have a religious and not a scientific objection against those stem cells…because there is no scientific objection. Only the Christians and other religious fundies are against it.

Quote from: Thought
Quote from: Thought
Adult stem cells, however, are at a noted economic disadvantage because they aren't quite as flexible as embryonic stem cells.

If that is untrue, please do explain. All the literature I've read on this has indicated it, but I am not all knowing. Adult stem cells should be able to do anything an embryonic stem cell can do, but that hasn’t been proven yet.

Embryonic stem-cell research is at a disadvantage, as a matter of fact, but through no fault of its own: President Bush’s ban on funding and expanding this research has stifled progress in the field. That will all begin to change in less than one year. =)

Quote from: Thought
There may well be no basis left to evaluate an omnipotent being if it is not limited to logic…

Thought, this and your ensuing remarks about logic and omnipotence are most disappointing in their incompetence. I know that everybody has intellectual weak spots, but you would do well to follow my lead and not pretend aptitude where you have not yet developed it. I looked through your remarks three times, and could not find anything meriting a reply. (Not quite true: There is the kernel of a discussion in your remarks, on the meaning of “power.” But not tonight. Perhaps it will come up again in the future.) This disappoints me, because discussion is a hobby of mine, and when I lose interest there is only ever the reason of mediocrity. It also disappoints me because there is no worse way to bring a topic of discussion to an abrupt halt, and it leaves all parties and onlookers unsatisfied or even confused. I don’t find myself comfortable in the role of chiding you like this, and I hope you take it to heart. I hope the abruptness and seriousness of my rebuke takes you by surprise and causes you to give meaningful reconsideration of the topic. I encourage you to reevaluate your formulations with nimbler authorities, and, if you still have questions of me on this subject in the future, perhaps you could word them intelligently and try again when next I appear at the Compendium.

Moving on…

Quote from: Thought
Quote from: Josh
Incorrect. The scientific method is not a falsifiable object or condition, but simply a process. Hypothesize. Test. Evaluate. That’s the scientific method. Where is the fundamental wrong?

Don't know, but that is a red herring. As mentioned, every paradigm has shifted before, which should create the expectation that it will shift again. You might recognize this as scientific evidence. Every time we (humanity) have thrown a ball into the air, it has fallen down. Every time humanity as constructed a paradigm, it’s been discarded. Doesn’t mean that is will always be discarded, just like it doesn’t mean that a ball will always fall down.

It would actually mean that we were quite close to a paradigm shift if we could see what is fundamentally wrong with the scientific method.

Of course, just because there is the expectation that the paradigm will shift doesn't mean it actually will. From this... metalanguage, we should expect it, but just because it is statistically probable doesn't mean it is certain.

And mind, this isn't a religious standpoint, it is a historical one (and scientific, actually, but secondarily so). It is inherently not moderno-centric.

I see what you are saying. What I am saying is that just because a thing isn’t impossible doesn’t mean its probability is nonzero. Your suggestion that the scientific method may be wrong is correct only in the semantic sense: It may be wrong, aye. But, really, it isn’t wrong at all. It works, and that’s that. Of the scientific method, remember what I said before:

Quote from: Josh
All the same, the scientific method works because it reduces to observation and simple deduction, the former of which is the product of our physical environment, and the latter of which is a logical given. There is no opportunity for a flaw: Our world exists consistently.

Unless you want to play the game of solipsism, you’re in a no-win position here. Being skeptical, and keeping an open mind, doesn’t preclude one from observing when something works, how it works, and using that knowledge (where appropriate) to make the prediction that it will continue to work. The universe will never stop being observable, unless you count galactic diffusion and, ultimately, the entropy effect. Thus, so long as we continue to exist in it, with our sensory connections to the fundamental realities of electromagnetic energy, chemistry, vibration, and so forth, we shall continue to be able to apply the scientific method in our understanding of it. For this statement to become false would require the introduction of something unspecified and unknown—and just because this X-factor cannot be ruled out does not mean that it should be ruled in, either—which is the basis of your mistaken reasoning.

Quote from: Thought
Actually, I think you'd be quite amused. Since you know a bit about me, I'll tell you a bit about my wife; she's a Ph.D. student in one of the nation's top ten biomedical research universities. It is a rather fascinating environment to be associated with, even tangentially.

Well put. In all honesty my original comment was low of me. Sincerely proffered, aye, but poor form on my part to be so blunt with so little cause. For all I know, you are as equitable as you say, and would not use your religious dogma (or any other rationale) to abuse, subjugate, or demean her. Until I know otherwise, I should not demean myself with that sort of speculation. I apologize.

Rather, let me say this: I hope the two of you go on to have rewarding lives, and a thoughtful awakening from this religion business.

And that’s the end…or, it would be, if it weren’t for these:

Quote from:  MagilsugaM
I am getting sick of this topic...

Quote from: BROJ
QFT; I left it a little while back as the topic had more tangents than a circle.

Was it not the Magus who said, “The weak strive to be weaker”? You poor fools.

placidchap

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #190 on: May 01, 2008, 11:38:44 am »
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

Thought

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #191 on: May 01, 2008, 03:05:29 pm »
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

It is said that there is no teacher but the enemy. I am disinclined to think that a perfectly true statement -- one can, after all, learn from those who aren't "the enemy" -- but it is only through clashes of ideas that the individual ideas get refined. Weaknesses get drawn out that internal examination alone would not uncover.

So yes, "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!," but when used properly, that is the same as yelling "Teach! Teach! Teach! Teach!" (not that I am specifically "teaching" Lord J, or anyone else, anything. Rather, the conflict itself hopefully instructs).

Try yelling that at the next school brawl.

I’d say it’s about time for me to be departing again. These threads always seem to last longer than they ought to, and I much prefer to swoop in, make lightning, and swoop back out again…yet courtesy obliges my participation from the moment I set foot in them. At last, now, things seem to be tidying up. So, with Thought’s latest reply finally on the record, that’s the signal for a few last remarks from me, and then…away I go.

I do agree, which is why it took me so long to respond to your previous remarks. I was debating if responses were worth while. But in the end I deemed it, if not worth while, at least courteous to do so. In the interest now of reducing the tiredness of debates that have gone on for too long, allow me to not address the arguments themselves in my post. You have made your points, I have made mine, from here I think we are at an impasse. To continue would really just to be to nitpick each other's arguments and we'd stray further from the original discussion (which seemed, at least at the time, to be the nonsensicality of Creationists rejecting Evolution).

Instead, allow me to comment on some of the more interesting things you have said, and offer things in turn that I hope will only be of pure interest (as in, I will try to stay away from engaging in “debate” behavior).

Then I pointed out that prehistoric females actually provided most of the human diet, and by your above remark I don’t think you understood the ramifications of this. Yes, it’s quite true that rare things often command a higher value, but it’s also beside the point. With females providing the majority of the human diet, they were the ones who “controlled” (to use your word) the most important food resource.

I would contend that actual importance and value are two separate issues. After all, historically gold has had a high value but it is was also a rather unimportant commodity for much of that time, given its poor practical implementations (it is only in the modern era when gold's electrical conductivity is so coveted that I'd say it has become actually important). This is what I believe to be an important distinction to make in general, even if you would disagree with that distinction in this specific.

Indeed, this is one of the crimes of Economics as a field as economies in the modern world. Products with no importance are given a very high value, so humanity squanders a great deal of its resources on very little.

The intellectual manipulation known as bargaining (and with it economics) would only come into being once humans developed civilization, since it was from the manual manipulation of tangible things that all intellectual manipulation followed, and in our story these humans aren’t to that point in history yet.

An interesting concept; not that bartering is dependent on "Civilization" (the way most people understand the word, bartering it not so limited). Rather, it is interesting in the claim action has to predate conception. Generally, I'd argue the opposite; that the idea has to predate the implementation. Anywho, for this specific case I am curious then as to if you'd classify bonobos as having a civilization (as they have bartering)? (just perform a quick word search for "barter" in that artical to find specifically what I mean).

Thought, you are well-studied and this is obvious. But perhaps you are not so well-informed on these areas where your religion interferes.

Quite likely, actually, though I'd say that it is far more than religion that interferes. Curiously, these arguments came primarily from my memory of an anthropology course I took in college. The source, then, is certainly not religious, but in turn I was the one who had to remember from then to now in order to expound those statements as I understood them, and so there religion can well have found influence. Yet in turn, my academic interests would have also have influenced my memory. I remember those areas where history touches prehistory much more than the prehistory itself (that is, I recall the history behind the development of the then current theories, finds, and such better than I recall the finds themselves or the discourse on pure prehistory).

Perhaps, that is really the problem of any belief system (we do a disservice to ourselves if we limit it to religion). Though he is religious, I do hope you might agree with C.S. Lewis when he stated:

Quote from: C.S. Lewis
The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There's not one of them which won't make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.

I still don't agree, mind you, that religion inherently created or reinforces sexism (I must confess I am a little unsure as to the exact point, seeing as it was a while ago now), but I do freely admit the possibility. I would also much more readily admit that religion-in-me (or, indeed, religion-in-any-given-person) might create or reinforce sexist tendencies (but again, I do not agree with such a statement).

Ah, religion! Bane of progress!

Ah, but progress for progress stake should well be avoided. Let progress be intentional, well reasoned, and deemed good. Let us move forward, certainly, but let us also watch where we put our feet.

But I ask you, Thought: Why bother? Would it really ruin your life if females aren’t made to answer to males?

Females made to answer to males? Poor form. But people made to answer to people (and, indeed, to themselves), that is good.

As a bit of a side issue side issue, I personally find modern perceptions of beauty to be one of the very factors that limits women. I generally maintain that all women are beautiful (and I suspect all humans are beautiful, but I am too limited in myself to rightly view such); if at any given time we, as observers, see a woman who we would not classify as beautiful, the fault lies with us the observer, not that which is observed.

Yet modern society wrongly places the responsibility on the subject, not the observer. Essentially, to offer an analogy (as I so do love analogies), society is insisting that the text is made bigger (no pun intended) so that we can see it, rather than insisting that we correct our vision to see in the first place.

Nevertheless, when taken in the context of your remarks, you are making one hell of a conceptual mistake: Males do indeed have an edge on females in some physical tasks, but that doesn’t mean that females lack the desire—or the competence to compete. Name me an activity outside health and fitness (and reproduction) that sensibly requires sex-specific behavior. Name me any activity outside the realm of human anatomy where there is not a single female on Earth suited to perform it, or likewise for males.

Men make very poor heterosexual prostitutes for men, and visa versa. ;)
But I do suppose you might include the social custom of prostitution in the category of anatomy.

Actually, I would generally claim that neither men nor women are well suited to any single activity. Women are equally suited as men, true, but yet neither are well suited to anything. When combined, when male and female mix, that is when we get something altogether different and altogether wonderful; human.

I claim there is a difference between men and women partially because there is no way either can be replaced; each brings something different but something valuable, important, and critical to the table. If I might borrow from Christian theology, do not see men and women as being homoousian, but rather homoiousian.

If you ask me to play Thomas Moore and construct a Utopia, I'd propose some form of a diarchy. To relate it to a modern social structure, I think by far the best president the United States could have is that the single office should be occupied by a man and a woman (and I'd extend that to all areas of society where decision making is important, and possibly in other areas as well but on more of an ad hoc basis).

Using Daniel Krispin as a piñata?

Religious mores aside, at least I think Daniel would prefer if that activity were limited to women rather than men. ;) So I suppose we would need to define the intent and exact implementation of this before we could say if men or women are better suited.

If only you were not so beholden to your religion, you would probably be a natural ally of mine in the cause of sexual equality.

Well, if your belief is correct and I am sexist in ways that I do not perceive, then I do still hope that, as mentioned before, me being your enemy rather than your ally in this matter has taught you something. Hopefully you will be a more effective tool for sexual equality because of it. You might say I do not want true sexual equality, and that may be the accurate state of things (I do not believe so, but I do not know everything, or really anything, definitively so, so I am willing to conceive of the possibility). But, I believe I do (want sexual equality that is), so anything I can do that might lead to the realization of that, even tangentially, I am glad that even so small a service I might be able to provide.

Speaking only for myself, my method of judgment is holistic. Religion is a good example. If religion produces some discrete good, such as the medieval monastic invention of the alarm clock, or the magnificent stringed compositions of Vivaldi, I may well praise the good thing itself…but not the religion that made it happen.

You have, on occasion, called me cunning. If I am, then perhaps this is one such example. I reject the stance that religion is a negative effect on humanity because when there is something evil to denounce, I denounce the evil thing itself, but not the religion that made it. While our implementation differs, and that difference is significant and important, the structure of the implementation is similar. One might say that we live in two nearly identical houses, but mirrored images of each other (and, of course, similarity doesn't connotate legitimacy; fear not, one position can still be proper and the other improper).

This might be cunning because of my belief in a line from Ender's Game:

Quote from: Ender Wiggin
I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.

My question had nothing to do with religion, with good, bad, or evil. It had to do with understanding somebody. The importance of it wasn't in the answer, but in giving the answer, in increasing understanding of the other.

Conversely, there is one unique evil to religion: Religious faith. From this faith, we got such disgraces as the Inquisition.

A very minor point, one that I am almost reluctant to state given that I'd prefer at this point to exchange ideas than debate, but the Inquisition was not unique to religion. It had a different name, true enough, but you can find inquisitions aplenty in the 20th century outside of religious contexts. But perhaps you'd find the "inquisitions" of the Soviet Union, Red China, and indeed some of the various activities of the United States to be significantly different as to preserve the uniqueness of the Spanish Inquisition. [JARRING CHORD]



This is not to excuse the Inquisition, mind you, but to likewise condemn similar behaviors. Limiting to one instance seems too much like letting the others off the hook.

So, now we are left with my original point, that you have (twice, now) tried to distract from the Christian revisionism that is poisoning this country and cheapening its discourse. Sir, what are your motives?

That implies too much that I was aware that the issue was even Christian revisionism. I honestly thought hadriel was referring more towards what might be termed conservative revisionism (which, admittedly, would include some elements from Christianity). I do not argue the effect, only the intent, but I would still disagree to the revisionism in general.

Yet, again, this is an issue for historiography (essentially, historiography is the study of how people perform history, so it is quite at the heart of the issue). That is a field of near infinite boredom. History is interesting, but the history of history? Bleh.

And before you say that I am yet again trying to distract from Christian revisionism, allow me to point out that I already stated that this post of mine is not about the debate as it exists so far, but rather interesting points and, hopefully, a peaceful exchange of ideas. To address Christian revisionism now would be to distract from my stated purpose. (I do apologies for being so devious, however, if you were hoping for me to address such).

And still you ignore the six decades of immense change since World War II. Come on, Thought! The demise of European colonial imperialism. The socialization of the entire continent. Administrative unification. Cultural blending. Immigration. Reconstruction. Peace! Peace in Europe for sixty years, with few exceptions! That’s amazing all by itself.

I quite agree. I am merely stating that the best judge (but, to note, not the only judge) is history and this is outside the field of history. If it is comforting, there is actually a divide in history between modern historians and ancient historians for this very reason. Ancient historians (which I am a part of) find modern history too fresh to be a useful avenue of research. Like a fine wine, let it age so when the time is ripe we can best savour its flavour. You seem like you’d fit in more comfortably with modern historians.

But I think you might find a deeper theme in this. I suspect that, upon closer inspection of my various posts, you'll find I often argue for more time, for us to be slow (but not too slow) in what we do, rather than hasty. Indeed, it is largely for this reason that I would probably be classified on the conservative side of the spectrum (I would agree, but it is improper for one to classify one’s self). I do not want to throw away old customs too easily or adopt new ones too quickly, but everything in the fullness of time. "Now then, don't be too hasty, Master Lord J. Barooom ahrooom."

If I may? I think you’re waiting for Europe to fail, so you can gloat.

No, I am waiting for Europe to fail so I can complete its history. I hate getting into a story only to find out I have to wait to find out the end. Indeed, the saddest thing in life, I think, is that we (probably) don't get to see how the rest of life will continue after we are gone.

Are you rejecting ranking systems on principle, or are you simply rejecting the specific ranking systems implicitly under discussion? The former smacks of foolhardiness or, worse, pettiness, and I’d like to see your reasoning if indeed that is what you meant. The latter is petulant and, possibly, ill-informed of you, and, in that case, I’d like to see your critique of said ranking systems.

Ranking systems in general, as a result of having read The Homework Myth.

Ranking without context is useless. Let us imagine a student who ranked dead last in their academic class. What useful information does such a ranking provide to us? That student might have scored 99% on all academic work, but if everyone else scored 99.1% or better, how is that bad? Yet in reverse, a student who ranked first might have still scored unacceptably low at 2%. In the former case, everyone should be praised, and in the latter, everyone reprimanded. Ranking systems are meaningless without context (and if we have the context, we don't really need ranking except as, say, an alternative to ordering things alphabetically). I find taking pride in being #1 about as meaningful as taking pride in coming first in the alphabet, or reviling being dead last as meaningful as reviling the letter z.

I don’t find myself comfortable in the role of chiding you like this, and I hope you take it to heart.

I genuinely wish I could. Yet I do not see the error in the statement (while in turn I see errors, real or not, in responses to the statement). It would be dishonest of me to myself to discard what I see as a firm logical argument merely because an individual objects to it. Would you, if the situation were reversed, reject something that you saw as an iron-tight case merely because I maintained that it is not so and that you are in error? I am afraid it is not by emotional appeals but by logic that I can be persuaded. Now... an emotional appeal from Krispin, BZ, or RD might give me greater pause (please do not take this as an insult; I follow their reasoning much more easily than yours, so that I trust their reasoning more than yours may merely say something about the manner and clarity with which they present it). But still, I believe I have followed logic to what might seem a harsh conclusion; the only way this pilgrim will regress is if that road can be shown to be no road at all. Perhaps it is no road at all, and perhaps you have shown it so, but then I must ask your favor still; give me eyes to see it as such.

To my perception, dear Lord J, we two stand at the end of a road, a great wall of mist is before us. The way forward, from this perspective, is utterly unknown. To take a step forward and off the road might be to take a step towards great things, or it may be to step off a cliff. I claim that logic has led me to this point, and if to this point, then further still is mandated by the journey itself. So I am quite willing to take that step, to leave the road of logic once it has served its purpose. It may be that on the other side of this mist the road will resume or it may be that on the other side of this mist I will plummet. But I am willing to continue in the direction that the road has led me, even if I must leave that road. After all, roads are fine tools, but they are no place to live. In turn I encourage you to take that step, to continue to where the road has only implied, to not be limited to such a dismal place as the road itself; do not sleep on the streets, as it were, when room and board may well be available for the asking. And if we die is such course of action, well then, “death will be an awfully big adventure.”

Or, to put it another way, maps say that here, there be dragons. Let's find out for sure.

For all I know, you are as equitable as you say, and would not use your religious dogma (or any other rationale) to abuse, subjugate, or demean her.

An aside: As she is a scientist and I a historian, I find it a wonderful experience. Every day I am presented with worlds of ideas that are well beyond me, full of concepts that I can only begin to understand. It is quite truthful to say that she knows a lot more than I do about a lot of issues. Yet in turn, I must admit, it pleases my ego as well, when by random chance I offer some bit of historical information relevant to our conversation and it turns out that not only that she hadn't considered it but that she didn't know about it at all (such as the history of the gloss, to provide a recent example). It makes me feel useful (I am a historian, I don't expect to feel useful often) ;)

I've also had to accept that chances are, she will always make more money that I will (which is quite easy to accept, actually, but if I cared about earning money I doubt I would have studied history).

While certainly not a deal-breaker, I would strongly suggest any "thinker" to date and marry an individual of the opposite gender (... or not of the opposite gender, depending) who has studied a totally different field. It has made for much fascination. If you enjoy ideas, then this is the way to go.

Rather, let me say this: I hope the two of you go on to have rewarding lives, and a thoughtful awakening from this religion business.

And likewise, we hope that you'll have a rewarding life and a thoughtful awakening to this religion business ;) That you do not presently want such an "awakening," or even perceive such as anything that could be called "awakening"... well at least I do hope you can take it in the manner in which it was meant.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2008, 03:28:43 pm by Thought »

placidchap

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #192 on: May 01, 2008, 03:37:40 pm »
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

It is said that there is no teacher but the enemy. I am disinclined to think that a perfectly true statement -- one can, after all, learn from those who aren't "the enemy" -- but it is only through clashes of ideas that the individual ideas get refined. Weaknesses get drawn out that internal examination alone would not uncover.

So yes, "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!," but when used properly, that is the same as yelling "Teach! Teach! Teach! Teach!" (not that I am specifically "teaching" Lord J, or anyone else, anything. Rather, the conflict itself hopefully instructs).

Try yelling that at the next school brawl.

blah blah.    you always seem to take things too seriously.  typing fight x4 was meant for you, you who likes to talk/type and think.  Fight x4 meant retaliate with your excruciatingly long posts.  Words are weapons.  A few sharp quips would do the trick but I suppose a dump truck full of dull ones would do just the same. meh, I say.

Thought

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #193 on: May 01, 2008, 03:43:16 pm »
Come come, now, if you don't want a dump truck full of dull qips, you shouldn't egg me on. I am nothing if not exceedingly, excessively, overly, and redundantly verbose.

But I had such fun writing that dump truck full I don't see how you can say I am too serious.

But then again, I enjoyed the book "Nuklear Age," which was somewhere around 900 pages of an elaborate "why did the chicken cross the road" joke. My sense of humor might not be quite normal, you know.

BROJ

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Re: Oh no. Oh God no.
« Reply #194 on: May 01, 2008, 03:49:30 pm »
Fight x4 meant retaliate with your excruciatingly long posts.  Words are weapons.  A few sharp quips would do the trick but I suppose a dump truck full of dull ones would do just the same. meh, I say.
Thought is not the only one guilty of this, so it would not be just to pick him out of the 'crowd'.