Rebuttals of the Week#11: Why ‘progressives’ hate reality


Poor old Tony Abbott just can’t catch a break it seems. He makes some completely benign, not uncommon, absolutely reasonable pro-marriage comment and all the tolerant, compassionate, accepting, non-judgemental, empathetic, morally righteous ‘progressives’ and feminists take it as an opportunity to unleash upon him any vile, cruel, dehumanizing accusation and epithet their corrupt little minds can generate.

Abbott’s comment inspired the above nasty, predictably anti-male and anti-Western civilization screed by Jenny Noyes in the radical feminist propaganda pamphlet The Age. As usual, this was an invitation to all the exemplars of virtue and goodness on the ‘progressive’/feminist Left among the general public to weigh in with their own wise and insightful observations in the comment section. In other words, there was a lot of this sort of thing:

Sharon F: “Cockhead”

Sezzy: “Being a woman myself, I feel like I need protection from idiots like him. Bloody ignorant fool!”

Bubba: “the irony is that marriage has not protected his missus or kids from having a complete dickhead as a husband and father.”

Stephen: “The man is just a delusional fool. I cannot wait to see the look on his hideous head when we finally receive true equality.”

Faye W: “Abbott you are a dickhead and an embarrassment.”

So a contributor to the comment section, Carl  L, tried to raise the quality of the discourse by injecting some factual evidence into the discussion:

Carl L: Children of divorced or never-married mothers are six to 30 times more likely to suffer from serious child abuse than are children raised by both biological parents in marriage.

ta a

Mum’s boyfriend – the worst sexual risk to children

Which provoked quite a few responses like these from folks who won’t let truth get between them and their preferred version of reality:

Kirsten A: “So, not a peer reviewed piece of literature.”

Lisa B: “Source is more than 5 years old lol”

My rebuttal, directed primarily at Lisa, is a breakdown of an extremely common thinking pattern which a lot of bad thinkers default to when they are confronted with evidence and argument that refutes their self-confirming, subjective beliefs. It’s the “Truth or Concept Pattern”. It highlights the distinction between people who have an attachment to a belief or concept which they find personally gratifying in some way,  and those who have an attachment to truth. When you become aware of the pattern, you’ll see it all of the time…. particularly when debating ‘progressives’, feminists, Leftists etc..

Going to Getugly: “Source is more than 5 years old lol”. Just like Kirsten Alys above. I’ll tell you how your mind is working here Lisa so you can improve your reasoning in the future:

Lisa’s mind: “I have a specific perception of this issue and  I’m really attached to it because  it’s very satisfying to my ego.  And I’ve never bothered to look into it because I just assume I’m right if a particular belief appeals to me.

Now I’m presented with credible information that completely invalidates my preferred assumptions and which gives me insight into actual, objective truth.

But I’m not interested in objective TRUTH! MY priority is preserving my preferred but false perception… because the satisfaction I derive from believing it is WAY more important to me than having an authentic appreciation of reality.

Problem: I refuse to update my understanding of this issue based on this new information (like a mature thinker would do)…. but I need some excuse that appears to justify my irrational denial of reality.

Solution: Oh, look! This was published in 2012.  I’ll assert that because the study was published FIVE WHOLE YEARS ago… that makes it invalid somehow! Sure, that makes no sense…. it’s a completely arbitrary proclamation…. and if I’m asked to explain why that invalidates it I’ll have to make something else up on the spot. But it’s all I’ve got! Oh yeah…. and I’ll put a condescending ‘lol’ at the end (even though that’s the sort of thing 14 year olds do) to convey that I’m so much more ‘aware’ and ‘clever’ than the dummy who provided the information.”

Do you see how transparent this flawed thinking process is, Lisa? Hopefully now that it’s been pointed out, you and Kirsten… as well as a lot of other women posting here…. will catch yourselves before you default to this pattern of inadequate reasoning in the future.



Rebutting Stefan Molyneux’s Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence YouTube Comments – Rebutted!

I have a lot of time for Stefan Molyneux. He has a ferocious intellect and is clearly fearless in expressing decidedly contrarian views on some very touchy, up-to-the-minute topics. He is also someone who is focused not only on opinions but on how people construct a view of the world that generates those opinions. For me, that is ultimately even more important than the opinions themselves, so I have a lot of regard for anyone like Molyneux who stresses that process.

And sure, he sometimes comes across as a little up himself. But that pretty much goes with the territory if you’re putting yourself out there on YouTube as a guy whose opinion not only matters, but is the embodiment of clarity and fine-tuned critical thinking.

Having said all of that, I can’t buy into his arguments for atheism. Or rather, it’s his definitiveness about there being no justification for any kind of position other than atheism that seems too decidedly materialistic and dualistic. And just too definitive for that matter.

Below are some comments in response to a recent video he produced for his Freedomain Radio YouTube Channel . In the video he takes on a critic of his argument that a God who created the universe can’t exist because consciousness cannot exist without matter. He also resorts to the old trope about “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” which I deal with as well. I would recommend anyone with any interest in the whole God/atheist/consciousness/materialism debate check out Stefan’s video – Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence YouTube Comments – Rebutted! . And if anyone wishes to contribute their own thoughts on the subject please leave a reply on this page.

My commentary:

Reflecting on Stefan’s argument that some kind of transcendent consciousness cannot possibly exist because consciousness cannot possibly exist without matter. It is a very clever argument – although I’m not sure to what degree the cleverness and logical congruence actually reflects objective reality.

It reminds me of Wilfrid Sellars’ notion of the “Myth of the Given” – essentially that you can’t assert the reality of pre-existing entities or structures outside of human awareness.

As philosopher Ken Wilber put it: “Metaphysics is thinking that falls prey to the myth of the given.”

Having said that, it strikes me that Stefan’s position presupposes a strictly dualistic conception of matter and consciousness. In a non-dualistic conception in which reality is seen as ‘one continuous thing’ so to speak – what Whitehead calls the ‘seamless coat of the universe – the question of consciousness existing without matter wouldn’t even make sense. And even if you are going to argue that consciousness has never been observed without matter as proof that consciousness CAN’T exist without matter….are you not then stuck with also acknowledging that matter has never been observed without consciousness?

L. L. Whyte said, “Thus, the immature mind (his word not mine!), unable to escape its own prejudice … is condemned to struggle in the straitjacket of its dualisms: subject/object, time/space, spirit/matter, freedom/necessity, free will/law. The truth, which must be single, is ridden with contradiction. Man cannot think where he is, for he has created two worlds from one.”

The physicist Erwin Schroedinger concurred, putting it this way: “consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception”.

I think this notion that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is kind of a crock.
It was a catchy phrase that Carl Sagan popularized that has become a meme in the culture which everyone now takes as a truism. I find it is used to dismiss anything that conflicts with the orthodoxy in a similar way that applying a label like ‘climate change denier’ is used to shut down debate about the so called ‘consensus’ orthodoxy of the climate change establishment.

Why should one kind of truth claim be held to a different standard of evidence than another? Surely the rigour and standards we already apply are more than sufficient! Why would we trust them otherwise?
Why is it logical to codify a bias in favour of one explanation and against another? How is it desirable to privilege the established orthodoxy against outlier modes of thinking?

The disadvantages to taking this hoary old adage seriously seem much more apparent than any alleged advantage. The most obvious problem is that you have one category for the orthodoxy with very firm goalposts – and another category where the goalposts recede forever beyond the horizon. In other words, regardless of the quality of the evidence, someone invested in the orthodoxy can always say it’s not ‘extraordinary’ enough

Review of ‘Debate: Atheists vs Christians (Krauss + Shermer vs D’Souza + Hutchinson)’

Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer are at it again in this tag-team effort pitting the super-atheists against the stubbornly religious Dinesh D’Souza and Ian Hutchinson.

Thanks to my sometimes Youtube debating partner Francesco Galle for sending me the link to the debate.

Krauss and Shermer stumble embarrassingly when trying to argue that science can account for ‘right and wrong’, morality and values.

At 56:39, Krauss says “I think science does tell us what is right and wrong in a real way” . He then lists a couple facts that he claims science introduced to the world, attaches them to moral judgements about animal welfare and human rights – without ever describing the mechanism that explains how evaluations of morality arise from these brute facts.

When he is caught out by Hutchinson on his atrocious reasoning, Krauss and Shermer deflect from having to substantiate their own metaphysical claim by using the oldest rhetorical debating trick in the book – they throw the question back at the other side by asking “Well where do you get them(morals)from then?”

It is fascinating how the very basis for the atheist/materialist condemnation of religious thinking is the believer’s willingness to believe things without empirical evidence – yet for some reason, the very same behavior doesn’t qualify as an equal indictment of atheist/materialist credibility when they do it themselves.

Here is the link to the debate: ‘Debate: Atheists vs Christians (Krauss + Shermer vs D’Souza + Hutchinson)’

Let me know what you think.