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Very good interview, Marty. This brings to mind quite a few things about atheism I hadn't seen treated on before, probably from having less interaction with others in the rationalist community than I could. Considering that few of the people I know in my home state are nonbelievers, I shall have to communicate more often with those I know online.

2 years, 2 months ago on Interview with Mr Oz Atheist


This doesn't surprise me, and reminds me of the photo shoot in Playboy by Priyanka Chopra who apparently considered it breaking new ground as the first Indian to appear in it, while receiving some criticism from her country's feminists about it.

Whether it's a step backward for women's rights, appearances in publications like this, as with Knowles in GQ, reinforce the image the media's crafted about what sells to its target audience, and I don't think that this will change without real changes in the culture.

2 years, 2 months ago on A Feminist Issue – Culture or Contract?


The efforts we're making to undo the effects of our own meddling are hopeful, and maybe they'll work. One thing that needs doing, though, is to outdo the Dominionists' rhetoric with better rhetoric -- in the academic usage of argumentation theory, both more intellectually honest and more effective -- not an easy task, but I think it can be done even if it feels like rolling bowling balls up hills with our noses. The biggest impediment I see to that is that the anti-environmentalists are better funded and better organized than we are.

2 years, 3 months ago on Anthropocene


Excellent Marty. As you correctly point out, a fact is a fact whether or not anyone believes or disbelieves it is so. This is because a fact itself is neither true nor false - Facts either exist or they do not. They are simply not the sort of thing that has a verdict of true or false attached - it is their existence that makes beliefs and claims about them true or false, in that the belief or claim conforms or does not to what is actually the case. 

A false claim may either cite nonexistent facts, or it may deny those that do exist. In any case, as you suggest, it's a good idea to be careful not to uncritically accept claims, nor to unfairly reject them in knee-jerk fashion, because of the limits of our senses, brains, and knowledge that prevent us from being omniscient and thus giving at least a bit of uncertainty to most real-world claims.

2 years, 5 months ago on The Trouble with Facts


This is a really good example of extreme hyper-skeptical thinking. There are some I know right of the political center who irritatingly equate the scientific process with their own political thinking and motivations.


Needless to say, I mostly try to avoid the temptation to argue on those topics where strong biases (theirs and mine) may come into play, mostly because I get easily annoyed when rules of valid argumentation are ignored in favor of ideological talking points, and more heat than light is generated as a result.


"Septicism" is a good term, and I hope it catches on in the community -- Kudos to the one who came up with it!


I'll have to poke around to find my own pet hyper-skeptics to put under the lens of critical inquiry. That may even be fun.


Good post, Martin.

2 years, 5 months ago on A Hyper-Skeptic Example – E. Calvin Beisner of Cornwall Alliance


Well-thought, Martin. I'm reminded of Russell's Teapot concerning both hyper-skepticism with unending questions and True Belief with the same. I know a few hyper-skeptics and this is a useful way to help me examine my own motivations as well, on topics where closely held ideological views may be involved. It's interesting that the same processes may be used to both believe and deny as mirror images of each other, and this is useful to consider in proposed and ongoing de-biasing programs, as recently discussed by Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef on episode #68 of the Rationally Speaking podcast.

2 years, 5 months ago on The Hyper-Skeptic Problem


Yes, Martin... Belated congrats in your blog's B-day. Here's to many more!

2 years, 6 months ago on My Happy 3rd Blog-Birthday Message to You


I've often thought it silly to call myself an atheist, but sometimes being forced to use the term as a convenient shorthand, despite the mistaken baggage it carries in the popular culture. But any shorthand requires some explanation, and when it's derived from reason I tolerate being obligated to well, provide reasons for it. That doesn't always clear things up when the listener refuses to listen, but sometimes progress in understanding is made, and that's satisfactory. Thanks for posting this Martin... Excellent!

2 years, 6 months ago on Yes, Another Post About Atheism


I think  that, as the world gets more interconnected, we can no longer afford to act as though we are not. Like it or not, we can't rely anymore on 'security by obscurity' or physical separation to protect us, and I think you are correct in that someone, somewhere, will suffer the consequences of someone else's trollery, or even offense taken for the flimsiest reasons. Good post, Marty.

2 years, 7 months ago on The Many Problems Of Belief, Doctrine and Atheism


I love these! Teh kittehs, dey say *Mew*

2 years, 7 months ago on Spookydooks and Kittykins – Episode 3


Jake's approach to destroying fundamentalist arguments is teh funneh. This is the first time I've heard Kim on a podcast, and it was interesting to hear her thoughts on the role of women in secularism and the formation of Secular Woman as an organization.


I've yet to take a position on A+ as that will require more data than I have so far. I'm leaning toward agreeing with it's ideas while not getting involved, letting its proponents hammer out their issues and do their own thing. This might be good or bad, we'll see. I'm sure the results will be interesting no matter what happens.


Congrats on a good show.

2 years, 7 months ago on Imaginary Friends Show Podcast #109


Oh...Myyyy! That is teh funneh, Marty. Thanks much for the few giggles I've had today!

2 years, 7 months ago on The Threat of Monkey-Faced Jesus


Beautiful. I feel the same way myself, it's ironic that the political right has stolen the language of patriotic righteousness and in so doing, corrupted it. It makes me both angry and frightened since my own continued long-term health and personal well-being hinges on the outcome of this election season.

2 years, 8 months ago on Dear America, We Need To Start Seeing Other People


Thanks to both you for hosting and @paulfidalgo  for posting on this, Martin. I'm often moved to anger myself, though I use it to focus my actions, to give myself motivation. I'm glad to hear some dissent from the unusual script on Sam Harris' statements about profiling. I've not enough information on the subject myself to be pro or con either way, but Harris didn't and doesn't strike me as a racist type -- if he were, he'd have to be pretty damn good at hiding it, the subject of a worthy conspiracy theory in its own right though still implausible like so many of them.

2 years, 8 months ago on An Atheist Learns How to Be Angry – By Paul Fidalgo


Sheer madness! My wackaloon detector just went off the scale. These people are deluded, dangerous, and need to be stopped.

2 years, 9 months ago on An Email From The Cornwall Alliance


Given Shermer's Last Law, "Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God," I have my own doubts as to the ability of a being to prove itself a god. An alien from an advanced-enough civilization could conceivably possess the technology to create entire universes, though I can only speculate how it might work. Since many gods in comic-books and fantasy faction are said to draw power from their worshipers, I might be convinced if a being showed this trait, but then perhaps not, since in some settings, wizards can also draw such power too. I'm more likely to be convinced by some form of mental aberration or delusion on my part than a demonstration of power.

2 years, 9 months ago on Could A God Prove Its Existence?