Questioning an Assumption
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07-10-2011, 10:04 AM (This post was last modified: 07-10-2011 10:09 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Quote: nontheocrat:
Looking at the progress of Western thought I think not torturing people for being the wrong religion is better than not. We stopped because evidence based thinking showed that no one can be so certain of their religious bullshit to justify torture.

Yes, but evidence can be presented (produced or manufactured) to prove that torture of one kind of people saves the lives of another kind of people. So nothing's changed: we never stopped - it's the same bullshit in a more efficient, more industrial guise.

Anyway, christianity is a bastard religion, cobbled together from fragments of mythology, political expediency and invention; therefore spectacularly unstable.
A single, organic, internally consistent mythology that's grown up with a people in their own environment is far more sustainable - even while undergoing constant modification, gradual change.
The unexpected, unprepared-for upheavals are brought by other people. Natives can deal, according their own tradition, with everything their environment dishes up, including tsunami and volcanic eruption, without going half as crazy as the average North American's normal operating parameters. Just because they call things by name, and attribute to events a causation, that you don't like, doesn't mean they don't cope better than you would in their world - and for that matter, better than we do in our own world.

They're not making 'progress', not achieving the results you wish to achieve...
and we are?

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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07-10-2011, 11:46 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(07-10-2011 09:11 AM)nontheocrat Wrote:  I grew up Pentecostal, where magical thinking was the rule of the day. Where people can be demon possessed, when people anointed cars with oil to chase out evil spirits, where "the prayer of faith" was supposed to heal the sick. And when the sick were not healed, when cars broke, when insanity happened, they blamed the victim for lack of faith. Without looking at evidence (statistically examining the efficacy of prayer against random chance) you have no way of knowing they are wrong. Point in favor of evidence-based reality in my book.

(Off-topic, so I'll put this in parentheses.

That's powerful stuff. What a toxic environment. In your experience, how many people escape from it? How did you escape? And what can be done to facilitate more people escaping? Maybe a topic for another thread?)

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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07-10-2011, 12:47 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(07-10-2011 10:04 AM)Peterkin Wrote:  Yes, but evidence can be presented (produced or manufactured) to prove that torture of one kind of people saves the lives of another kind of people. So nothing's changed: we never stopped - it's the same bullshit in a more efficient, more industrial guise.

Uh... 'evidence' that's 'manufactured' isn't evidence. It's lies. A proper evidentiary approach to life will allow you to see that the evidence has no, well, evidence. Perhaps the provider has a history of lying, or a reason to lie. Evidence tells you that you can't trust any 'evidence' he puts forth.

And if the evidence is really genuine... then it's genuine. You may not like the truth, but if legitimate evidence really does show that lives can be saved via torture... then whether or not you like that, or would be willing to support torture is irrelevant. The truth about the effectiveness of torture would have been evidence.

So either it's lies which can be pierced by evidence... or it's true, and was found true by evidence...

What is your complaint here?
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07-10-2011, 01:51 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Hey, erbody.

Treat my responses below however you like, but I want to be very clear about something. There's a lot of opinion, emotional arguments and anecdotal evidence being presented. That’s not the sort of thing I’m looking for. I'm looking for something measurable: a method that allows for measurable comparison and or an example of an existing scientific study that supports the notion that a life based entirely on beliefs supported by empirical evidence is better than a life that allows other types of beliefs. If there is no measure we can use to effectively compare things, or no clear definition of what is meant by better, and no studies that give us some sort of meaningful data, then the answer is clearly that it's a personal belief and or an old wives tale, not a fact. I'm not saying that's true, I want to know if anyone knows of the existence of any support for the notion.

Hey, Sines.

Quote:Those aborigines were thought to not be human by the europeans. Well... I kind of see where they were coming from. If they were all uncaring enough about the real world for ignorance is bliss to qualify, then... well... what person acts like that? Ignoring your emotions, and having no concern about the real world other than to go about the ritual of survival for the sake of maintaining stasis? I cannot buy that an entire culture is that unusual. That they all really are that perfectly... whatever... such that ignorance really is bliss, even in the long run.

I need to be clear. The following is not a support of the position that it is not better to base beliefs on evidence, it is only a critique of the above quote. I preface the following because I feel that I must be somewhat harsh in my critique. I also have to be clear that this harshness is not directed as you as a person, but at the idea itself only.

That above quote is a shocking and morally bankrupt position and the very thing that led to the extermination and enslavement of tens of millions of aboriginal people around the world during the colonial era and that still fuels cultural genocide to this day. I feel that it is as unacceptable and indefensible a position as the position that blacks, women and gays are inferior to whites, men and heterosexuals respectively.

Hey, Peterkin.

Quote:I simply don't believe anybody chooses either/or - to live a life and organize a society based solely on known cause-and-effect chains*, or to live a life and organize a society based solely on faith in the spirit world.

I agree in part. Even the isolated tribe that GirlyMan linked to uses reason and empiricism. I've never heard of a single culture that does not. But they also base part of their belief structure on some combination of revelation and fiction; or perhaps better than fiction, developing stories about certain processes... I actually don't know how to compose that sentence.... the point is that they don't just make up the story of, say, the twin brothers, Sun and Moon, or the lovers that chase each other, Sun and Moon, or whatever fanciful non-Occamesque mythology they have adopted, they create stories to explain observable phenomena. The issue before us though is the claim that not just some, but that all beliefs should be based on empirical evidence or discarded and that that approach is better.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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07-10-2011, 10:33 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Right, don't worry, I'm not a monster, you just misunderstood my point.

You see... all I said was that if they really were all like that, I would understand not seeing them as human. However, note that I also don't see, say, Spock as human either.

'Human' is not a requirement for good treatment. Being a thinking being capable of suffering is.

By saying I wouldn't see them as humans, I merely meant that their behavior would be so alien. That they'd be missing the fundamental aspects of what I feel it means to be a human. Quite frankly, I don't believe they truly think in act in such a way that would make them better off living lives without evidence, and as such would not see them as being so alien.

But even if they were. Even if these people were so strange and alien that they could truly live 'ignorance is bliss' their whole lives with no problem... I still wouldn't think them worthy of the harsh treatment they were given. I would still treat them as they wished to be treated, as long as they respected that right in me. In short, I would consider them thinking beings, worthy of my moral consideration, just the same as humans.

'Human' is not a special term that is the sole trait of beings worth moral consideration. Humans just happen to be one particular species of great ape, whose mind is advanced enough to be worthy of moral consideration. I have no problems including other species in there, or other humans who seem yet stranger and more distant than our ape cousins.
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08-10-2011, 08:08 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Quote: Sines:
Uh... 'evidence' that's 'manufactured' isn't evidence. It's lies.

Exactly. And the people being tortured just happen to be Muslim, while the people who torture them just happen to be Christian - or vice versa. What i meant was that we haven't stopped torturing one another; we're just telling different lies about it, to satisfy a different self-delusion.

Quote: Ghost:
I'm looking for something measurable: a method that allows for measurable comparison and or an example of an existing scientific study that supports the notion that a life based entirely on beliefs supported by empirical evidence is better than a life that allows other types of beliefs.

You won't get it. There can be no such study, because there are no such societies. Even if you put a new colony on Mars - or Spaceship TTA - all the settlers would bring their preconceptions, prejudices and mixed beliefs, knowledge and superstitions, experience and expectation, just as they did to Australia... both the first wave, who brought their beliefs from Africa and second, who brought theirs from Europe.

If you subscribe to evolution, you must accept that human development is sequential; no system of thought springs fully fledged from the forehead of a computer - human knowledge is built up of millions of layers and each layer includes impurities, slag, fossils.
You can't test a proposition for accuracy without first having a theory: that is, someone has to put forth an idea that is, of necessity, not proven. Like: "Air containing oxygen sustains human life." Until it's tested and scientifically proven, must everybody hold their breath?
Probably, they'll just go right on breathing, on no evidence except that the air has worked so far, even while its efficacy was attributed to the Wind-Spirits. If you end up proving the theory, breathing will be evidence-based from then on. But, really, all that's changed is the labeling: for the average citizen (minus the control group - RIP) daily experience of breathing hasn't changed.

"Better" has been defined indirectly: "More like me."
In that case, whoever most firmly holds the delusion that they think strictly according to a single prescribed system and that their system works is "best".

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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08-10-2011, 11:08 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Hey, Sines.

I'm really trying to understand your point. Right now all I'm getting is, Aborigines aren't human but they may be some equivalent.

Hey, Peterkin.

I'm slightly confused. So do people who endorse the statement, "It is better to base all beliefs on evidence," need to amend the statement to read, "We believe that it is better to base all beliefs on evidence," changing it from a statement of objective truth to a statement of cultural belief?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-10-2011, 12:04 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Not quite, but I see your confusion. Originally, I meant to express my disbelief that these aborigines really are that alien to us. That if they are so different for me to except that, for them, evidence-based living would be detrimental, that they would be more different from us than our ape cousins. I doubt any human group can truly be that different from us.

However, I want to make it clear that I think they are humans. That's my point. I don't believe they truly are that different from us, and thus I also believe that they would have an improved life living by evidence, rather than their 'the dreaming'.

I also wanted to make it clear that 'human' is a trait only tangentially related to 'worthy of moral consideration'. Even if they could not reproduce with the rest of humanity, it would not make them any less worth moral consideration.

However, I don't think they're that different from us. I'm sure they enjoy life, cry for the dead, and everything else we do. I do not believe they are so indifferent to the sufferings and joys of the world that evidence would not help them. Because if they were that different, they would have stopped being humans. But they quite clearly are humans.
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08-10-2011, 12:08 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(08-10-2011 11:08 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Peterkin.

I'm slightly confused. So do people who endorse the statement, "It is better to base all beliefs on evidence," need to amend the statement to read, "We believe that it is better to base all beliefs on evidence," changing it from a statement of objective truth to a statement of cultural belief?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

No, they don't need to change anything. We already know that any statement of opinion is prefaced - overtly or by inference - "I believe,"

If they wanted to clarify their own thinking, they might look more closely at how people actually live, instead of reading theological doctrine or anthropologists' description of internal worlds totally alien to themselves [the anthropologists, as well as the commentators].
If they wanted to convince skeptics like me, they might consider either defining "better" and what it's being compared to, and explaining what evidence is admissible in which situations and how it is to be used.
If they wanted to contribute to human mental health, they might refrain from blanket statements about "better" and "worse" ways for other people to live, and stick to propositions for improving the social/ educational/ cultural conditions of their own communities.
If they want followers to cheer them on, then big, resolute, confident oversimplifications will do just fine.
What anyone should do depends on what s/he's trying to accomplish.

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08-10-2011, 09:58 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(08-10-2011 12:08 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  
(08-10-2011 11:08 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Peterkin.

I'm slightly confused. So do people who endorse the statement, "It is better to base all beliefs on evidence," need to amend the statement to read, "We believe that it is better to base all beliefs on evidence," changing it from a statement of objective truth to a statement of cultural belief?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

No, they don't need to change anything. We already know that any statement of opinion is prefaced - overtly or by inference - "I believe,"

If they wanted to clarify their own thinking, they might look more closely at how people actually live, instead of reading theological doctrine or anthropologists' description of internal worlds totally alien to themselves [the anthropologists, as well as the commentators].
If they wanted to convince skeptics like me, they might consider either defining "better" and what it's being compared to, and explaining what evidence is admissible in which situations and how it is to be used.
If they wanted to contribute to human mental health, they might refrain from blanket statements about "better" and "worse" ways for other people to live, and stick to propositions for improving the social/ educational/ cultural conditions of their own communities.
If they want followers to cheer them on, then big, resolute, confident oversimplifications will do just fine.
What anyone should do depends on what s/he's trying to accomplish.
PETERKIN....In other words ultra simple lanuguage is a poor coveyor of genuine effort to express ones' views, and needs elaboration relevant to the specific problems being addressed.

Convesely, complex arguments can be constructed also, to confuse the needs of genuine victims ,while satiating the needs of violating parties..
An example given by the semanticist philosopher Noam Chomsky refers to "freedom fighters" being stereoyped as "terrorists" and vice versa.
.
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