Thriving on Ambiguity

Edward Feser correctly points out that Daniel Dennett is a model modern philosopher, since modern philosophy is nothing more than word magic that has no relevance to truth, reality, or the human condition.

How do you get blood from a stone? Easy. Start by redefining “blood” to mean “a variety of stone.” Next, maintaining as straight a face as possible, dramatically expound upon some trivial respect in which stone is similar to blood. For example, describe how, when a red stone is pulverized and stirred into water, the resulting mixture looks sort of like blood. Condescendingly roll your eyes at your incredulous listener’s insistence that there are other and more important respects in which stone and blood are dissimilar. Accuse him of obscurantism and bad faith. Finally, wax erudite about the latest research in mineralogy, insinuating that it somehow shows that to reject your thesis is to reject Science Itself.

Of course, no one would be fooled by so farcical a procedure. But substitute “mind” for “blood” and “matter” for “stone,” and you have the recipe for Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back. The philosopher Peter Geach once wrote that we should treat materialist claims to have explained the mind the way we would treat a claim to have squared the circle: the only question worth asking is “How well has the fallacy been concealed?” In Dennett’s case, not well.

Indeed, what the Tufts University philosopher and cognitive scientist gives us is a whole battery of blatant fallacies. For example, throughout the book, Dennett makes assertions to the effect that evolution “designed” this or that. Of course, evolution, which is an entirely impersonal natural process, doesn’t really design anything. The whole point of Darwinism, as Dennett well knows, is to get rid of notions like “design,” “purpose,” and the like. Rather, evolution merely simulates design. It is as if the products of natural selection were designed, though really they are not—just as water flows downhill as if it “wanted” to get to the bottom, though of course it doesn’t really “want” anything at all. Talk of evolution “designing” things, like talk of what water “wants,” can only be metaphorical.

The trouble is that Dennett’s entire edifice makes sense only if it is not metaphorical. For example, like other materialists, Dennett models the mind on the idea of the computer. But computers are the products of human designers. Hence it makes no sense to try to explain the mind in terms of computers, since the existence of a computer itself presupposes the existence of a designing mind. Dennett’s way of dealing with this problem is to say that the human minds or “computers” that design computers in the ordinary sense are themselves designed in turn by evolution. But again, evolution doesn’t literally “design” anything, so this is no answer to the problem at all. It only seems to be an answer if we fail to distinguish the literal and metaphorical senses of the word “design.”

Dennett thrives on such ambiguity and imprecision.

I wouldn’t say he “thrives” on it so much as he “depends” upon it. It’s virtually impossible to read so much as a single paragraph by a so-called philosopher anymore without encountering one of the rhetorical techniques that Aristotle listed in the category of sophistries.


Of Autism and Atheism

Secular whites are beginning to have doubts about atheism now that Clown World is targeting the European peoples for their race the way it targets Christians for their faith.

Will I ever stop hating on the Catholic Church and become a believer? Maybe. But if I do, it won’t just be Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, and Father Leonard Feeney who will have helped me kneel before the Queen of Heaven. It will also be Professor Richard Dawkins. Belloc, Chesterton, and Feeney have set me a positive example of Christian wisdom, insight, and intelligence. Dawkins has done the opposite. He’s set me a negative example of anti-Christian foolishness, blindness, and stupidity. With the able assistance of Christopher Hitchens, he’s taught me to regard atheism as uncouth, adolescent, and autistic.

Yes, I think Vox Day is right to connect atheism and autism. Like autism, atheism is a kind of color-blindness: an inability to perceive, understand and appreciate an essential — and extraordinarily beautiful — aspect of reality. Autistic people don’t perceive social relationships; atheists don’t perceive the most important “social relationship” of all, that between God and His Creation. Or so theists like Day would argue. I’m not with those theists yet, but Richard Dawkins is one of those who have helped me away from atheism and towards theism. I look back with shame on the days when I was a fully fledged fan of his. Now I’m only a partly fledged fan. I still admire his scientific knowledge and the quality of his prose. Unlike the polysyllabicizing gasbag Hitchens, Dawkins is a clear and careful writer who is more interested in describing biology than in demonstrating his own cleverness.

Not that Dawkins could demonstrate much cleverness if he tried. He’s made solid contributions to evolutionary biology, but he isn’t particularly clever. He himself has said that he doesn’t score well on IQ tests and I think Greg Cochran has called him a “pinhead.” That would be hyperbole, but Dawkins is certainly not “the world’s top thinker,” as a poll in Prospect Magazine once proclaimed him to be.

It’s been amusing to see the great regard so many atheists professed for the Four Horsemen of Atheism vanishing in light of the obvious mediocrity of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Fortunately for Christopher Hitchens, he died before his intellectual mediocrity became fully apparent to everyone.

It’s fascinating how often those who can’t bring themselves to believe in God or Jesus Christ gradually begin coming around once they understand that someone, or something, is actively seeking their destruction. And the truth will eventually come to light once the vital question is asked: why are they seeking to destroy me?


A Succinct Summary

You don’t need to read His Dark Materials. This pretty much covers it. And then some.

Book I

Pullman: Religion is Evil.

Readers: Why?

Pullman: Because priests kill babies.

Readers: No they don’t. You just made that up in the book.

Pullman: Shut up! Look at Iorek Byrnison!

Readers: Hey, he is cool. (Iorek does cool stuff for one book and then spends the next two books being completely boring, chasing after Lyra.)

Book III

Pullman: God, religion, and any person of faith are Evil.

Readers: Why?

Pullman: Sheesh, are you deaf? They kill babies!

Readers: Hang on, the leader of the fight against God also killed a baby. Why isn’t he evil?

Pullman: No he didn’t.

Readers: Yes he did, it’s right here in the first book.

Pullman: Shut up! Look at Will and Lyra having sex!

Readers: Urg. Isn’t Lyra ten?

Pullman: She’s twelve now.

Readers: Well, that makes it all better, then.

Scratch a Christ hater, find a pedo. Every. Single. Time.


Incontrovertible Proof of the Existence of God

This is a defense of hiding the truth about adverse vaccine events being offered by one of the greatest intellectual champions of atheism:

Whether or not there is any truth to vaccine harm is irrelevant. There are numerous studies that prove the power of psychosomatic thinking. This is why we must censor antivax information at all costs: because people who “believe” they’ve taken poison will suffer ill-effects as if they actually took poison.

Sam Hariss, 7 September 2022

What do you think the most reasonable odds that the architect of this argument is correct about the nonexistence of God would be? It’s infinity to one against, right? QED.


Atheist Morality

Sam Harris demonstrates why, no matter how they ponder their personal ethics and pontificate about their superior values, atheists are not fit to be members of any civilized society.

Hunter Biden literally could have had had the corpses of children in his basement, I would not have cared, right? So there’s nothing — first of all, it’s Hunter Biden, it’s not Joe Biden, but even if Joe — like, even — whatever scope of Joe Biden’s corruption is, like, if we could just go down that rabbit hole endlessly and understand that he’s getting kickbacks from Hunter Biden’s deals in Ukraine or wherever else, right, or China, it is infinitesimal compared to the corruption we know Trump is involved in. It’s like a firefly to the sun, right? I mean, there’s just — it doesn’t even stack up against Trump University, right? Trump University as a story is worse than anything that could be in in Hunter Biden’s laptop in my view, right? Now that doesn’t answer the people who say it’s still completely unfair to not have looked at the laptop in a timely way and to have shut down ‘The New York Post’s Twitter account, like that — that’s a left-wing conspiracy to deny the presidency to Donald Trump. Absolutely it was. Absolutely, right. But I think it was warranted, right?”

Atheists have no moral anchor. There’s literally nothing there. Their much-vaunted, self-constructed value systems revolve around nothing more than whatever happens to trigger their emotions at any given moment. They are simple creatures of pure appetite and rhetoric.

Remember, Sam Harris is supposed to be among the finest, smartest, most highly-refined philosophers that the atheist community has on offer. So if you ever wonder why Christian Nationalism is integral to the preservation of Western Civilization, Mr. Harris’s very vivid demonstration of atheist amorality should suffice to explain its necessity.


Hypergamouse is Real

The punchline: I came up with this quote just a few minutes ago. I thought /r/atheism would appreciate

It’s the smug, pudgy gammatude that radiates from creatures like this that is almost impossible to parody or even exaggerate. You just know the guy is so impressed with his own lofty 110 IQ that he can’t figure out why the hot babes aren’t climbing all over each other just to be lectured by him.

And the grammar. Ye cats, what is with the creative approach to punctuation? It’s astonishing how many of these self-quoting self-enlightened philosophers still haven’t mastered the basic rules of the language they are attempting to use.


High Verbal, Low Math

Steven Hsu explains why so many evolutionary biologists, and other would-be scientists, simply don’t understand the topics or implications of the topics they are attempting to discuss:

I sent the message below to a social scientist I know who (like many, perhaps understandably) is confused about Stephen J. Gould’s status as an evolutionary theorist. Many Gould readers are surprised to learn that his main expertise was the paleontology of snails and that he struggled with higher mathematics. When I first encountered Gould’s essays as a kid, I concluded that there was just no there there. He was all literary flourish and little depth.

Which brings me to an observation I’ve been meaning to write about. It is that high verbal ability (which Gould certainly had) is useful for appearing to be smart, or for winning arguments and impressing other people, but it’s really high math ability that is useful for discovering things about the world — that is, discovering truth or reasoning rigorously. The importance of math ability manifests in two distinct ways:

(1) Powerful (deep) models of Nature (e.g., electrodynamics or evolutionary theory) are themselves mathematical. Most of the incredible progress in our understanding of the universe is just not available to people who do not understand math. For example, we can talk until we are blue in the face about the Uncertainty Principle, but there is no precise understanding without actual equations.

(2) The statistical techniques used to analyze data obtained in a messy, complex world require mathematical ability to practice correctly. In almost all realistic circumstances hypothesis testing is intrinsically mathematical. It is quite easy to fool yourself statistically if you don’t have strong math ability, but rather are simply following cookbook recipes.

High verbal ability is useful for more than just impressing others — it typically implies a certain facility with concepts and relationships between ideas — but high V alone is a dangerous thing. The most confused people I meet in the academy tend to be high V, low (modest) M types.

We see this repeatedly in people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, JF Gariepy, Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, Sargon of Akkad, and Curtis Doolittle, as well as most e-celebrities. They talk and talk and talk in circles in a manner that is superficially convincing to the average intelligence, but an analytical critique of their positions reliably reveals fundamental flaws that render them incorrect, if not nonsensical.

This is because most people don’t have what I think of as “a sense of math”. It doesn’t necessarily mean any higher math training, or even much knowledge of mathematics per se, so much as an instinctive grasp of statistics and mathematical relationships. You don’t actually need much math to understand the basics of statistics and percentages, but you do need a sense of math to immediately know that Ashkenazi Jews in the United States cannot possibly have an average IQ of 115 given the fact that their relatives in Israel do not have IQs nearly two standard deviations below them.

You don’t need to know much about math or DNA to immediately know that the number of genes that are fixed in any given species cannot have been fixed in the time allotted for them to have done so given the fact that we cannot observe species literally morphing before our eyes in real time. You don’t need anything beyond a basic sense of math to immediately understand that religion is not, and has never been, a significant cause of war, much less the primary one.

And you certainly don’t need much math, although a little knowledge of military history is useful, to immediately recognize that claims of 1,000 dead Russians per day in an invasion that has conquered territory at a historically rapid pace are absurd.

The High V Low M scientists tend to be popularizers rather than original thinkers, which is why Steven Gould was always going to be a fraud once he decided to try to make a name for himself as “a very original and great evolutionary theorist.”


Gatekeeper U

Because the universities don’t already have enough thought police, the world-healers are setting up a new fake alternative, featuring a fake conservative New York Times journalist as the nominal figurehead:

The University of Austin has been hailed as a milestone for open discourse, but it’s hard to be too enthusiastic about it when you consider high-profile backer Bari Weiss’ track record of not welcoming dissenting views.

Writer Bari Weiss has become a figurehead among the left-leaning intelligentsia who eschew modern “wokeness” in favor of classical liberalism. She solidified her status as a bold defender of diversity of thought when she publicly resigned from The New York Times, citing a hostile work environment rife with pressure for ideological conformity. Following that, she was called a “self-styled free speech martyr” by the Financial Times, and is reported to have even compared herself to Galileo Galilei, who was forced by the Catholic Church to renounce his scientific views, lest he be burned at the stake.

Now, Weiss has announced she will be part of a team of similarly disaffected intellectuals in founding a new institution, the University of Austin (UATX). Other figures involved include enlightened liberals™ such as Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt. Currently, the project is in its early stages and hopes to offer a summer program for students in 2021, but graduate programs are planned for launch in 2022 and 2023, with an undergraduate college to follow in 2024.

However, while many supporters welcomed news of the university and its claim to stand for free expression and open conversation, one can’t help but notice the ironic ideological homogeneity of those involved. And similarly, despite her rebranding as a stalwart defender of free speech, those familiar with Weiss’ career will note that she has not always been so welcoming of dissenting views.

And interestingly, it’s not just those to the left of Weiss who so far have been excluded from UATX, but those to the right as well. Many conservatives may view Weiss’ condemnation of the woke left as a tacit embrace of right-wing thought, but as recently as 2018, that is far from the case.

In a piece on the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) for the New York Times, Weiss spoke disparagingly of Stefan Molyneux, Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich, and Alex Jones, and even repudiated Dave Rubin, a popular interviewer who frequently engages with figures who have views different than his own, simply for platforming those she views as “controversial.”

Weiss’ tenure at The New York Times may have been a lifetime ago as far as the internet is concerned, but a quick glance through her cohorts at the university raises doubts as to whether her disdain for the dissident right has changed with her new-found appreciation for diversity of thought.

As conservative commentator Michael Knowles pointed out, despite the attempt by leftist publications to paint UATX as some right-wing thought experiment, in actuality, there are only two conservatives currently attached to the project, neither of whom has been known to stray from the right-wing talking points deemed acceptable.

This omission by the university’s team is especially strange considering the statement of principle put out by Kanelos specifically decries the treatment of conservatives in academic institutions: “Over a third of conservative academics and PhD students say they had been threatened with disciplinary action for their views. Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars.”

For a group that seems to lament the exclusion of right-wing thought from academia, the team at the University of Austin have so far done little to remedy it.

This so-called “University of Austin” is simply the latest, and grandest, gatekeeper grift intended to intrigue clueless conservatives and direct them and their resources away from Christian nationalism. The pseudointellectuals who serve as the poster children are complete mediocrities – you can read my 13-part response to Peter Boghossian’s hapless and unconvincing effort to redefine the concept of faith, entitled The Fifth Horseman, if you want a detailed look at the quality of thinkers on offer – and this is little more than another attempt to invade the territory they used to deride as flyover country.


Never Laugh at God

Because He will have the last laugh. And sometimes, He’ll even have a chuckle or two while you’ve still got time to repent:

Penn Jillette, the tall half of the hugely successful magician duo Penn & Teller, is one of the entertainment industry’s most outspoken atheists. For decades, Jillette has smugly condemned all manner of religious, psychic, and pseudoscientific irrationality. He also has a fan base on the right, because as a self-described libertarian, Jillette’s often mused about how “taxation is theft” and government compulsion is bad.

Penn Jillette: a man with no gods, including government. A man who falls for no (to use the title of his Showtime series) “bullshit.”

Then his teenage daughter decided that she’s a man. And the world witnessed how quickly the “smug” vanishes from the rationalist when the bullshit hits too close to home.

About a year or so ago, Jillette’s daughter, Moxie Crimefighter (yes, that’s her name), decided that she’d been “assigned the wrong sex at birth.” And she demanded that her parents no longer use female pronouns for her, like, ever.

Back in 2014, Jillette bragged on his podcast about how he’d raised Moxie to “laugh at God.”

There’s an old saying I just coined: “When you laugh at God, He laughs back and best.” Because now Jillette—Mr. “no pseudoscience,” Mr. “no cults or flimflam”—has become the spokesperson for the biggest pseudoscientific cultlike flimflam of the 21st century. The guy who’s spent a career deconstructing magic (“no, the bouquet of flowers didn’t actually become a rabbit; it was sleight of hand”) is now a true believer that a girl can actually become a boy overnight, by the sheer power of mentalism!


There’s no such thing as anyone who “believes in science”. That’s nothing but rhetoric from people who need an excuse to justify their disbelief in anything that causes them emotional pain or prevents them from doing what they want to do.


Thank you for your service

Sooner or later, the Black Rider always throws his servants from his high horse:

Established in 1953, the Humanist of the Year Award is conferred annually by the American Humanist Association (AHA), recognizing the awardee as an exemplar of humanist values. Communication of scientific concepts to the public is an important aspect of advancing the cause of humanism. Richard Dawkins was honored in 1996 by the AHA as Humanist of the Year for his significant contributions in this area.

Regrettably, Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values. His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient. His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.

Consequently, the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honored by the AHA, and has voted to withdraw, effective immediately, the 1996 Humanist of the Year award.

The wicked may prosper for a season, but often the rewards for which they sold their souls don’t even last a lifetime.

How do you like that post-Christian culture you sought to bring about now, Mr. Dawkins?