Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Touchstone's Evidentialism, Weighed And Found Wanting

T-pebble and Loftus made, and subsequently defended, a problematic claim. Hating all things T-blog, they have now been forced to equivocate on, and alter, angle, belie, change, collapse, color, contort, deform, deviate, disfigure, distort, doctor, fake, fudge, garble, gnarl, mangle, melt, misconstrue, misinterpret, misrepresent, misshape, pervert, phony up, sag, scam, slant, torture, trump up, twist warp, whitewash, wiggle wrench, and writhe out of the rather precarious position they’ve now put themselves in.

This morning I shot a mouse that I had caught in a glue trap point blank in the head. Unfortunately, there’s no way to put T-pebble and Loftus out of their misery that easy. We must watch them squirm and wiggle, possibly for years.

We should note that I have argued against them here, here, and here. I would wager that probably 75-80% of my arguments have been ignored. Loftus even claims to “not read what I write.” Amazingly he can still respond, though! Did he learn that at TEDS?

T-pebble says: “Paul,

No time tonight to give this more than a quick skim and one quick observation. So you argue here via the "copy-and-paste" method... that strikes me as quite lazy Paul. I think paste in quotations is useful, but in *support* of arguments (I quoted Darwin's Origins over on Pike's post in support of my claim that Darwin relied on fossil evidence in forming his theory), not *as* your argument. I actually did try something like this in an entry-level Philosophy course in college. I was not treated kindly by my professor, nor should I have been. Lesson learned. But this is a blog and you can do what you want.

My response: So you avoid the argument via the “you copy and pasted” red herring? Sorry, I missed that chapter in my logic text books where an argument suddenly isn’t an argument if one copies and pastes it. The purpose of my post was not to be original, as was the case with your philosophy paper, and so your claim is disanalagous, but it does serve to poison the well quite nicely. My post was a bringing together, with supplied commentary, analysis, and original argumentation, of at least 5 separate philosopher’s views on the subject. I furthermore noted, had you cared to read, that I had hoped that the arguments would be taken more seriously because they weren’t made by a T-blogger. I guess I was wrong and arguments are even poisoned if they are “pasted” by a T-blogger.

T-pebble says: “I can't engage with Plantinga or Sudduth, as they aren't participating here; it's fine for you to "adopt" their arguments, verbatim, even, but it's not clear that's what your doing here. As it is, it appears to be "see all these philosophers who have trouble with evidentialism???" To which it occurs to me invites a similarly lazy response: should I paste in selected passages from Bonjour, or Feldman, or DePoe, or the McGrews (or... how many of these do I need to supply to match Paul's name-dropping, again?) and leave off, even knowing that that I don't hold to evidentialism, strictly construed?”

My response: Surely you can engage their *arguments,* for that is what people do *all the time.* They write books and engage other people’s arguments found in other books.

I was not merely saying “see all these *philosophers* who have problems with evidentialism,” but, rather, “see all these *arguments* against evidentialism.”

I would furthermore *welcome* your arguments against my arguments, whether they be your own or other philosophers who you copy and paste, since that would be *at least some kind* of interaction on your end. If you want to “stand by” their arguments, then you fall with them to. So, refute them, refute you.

Lastly, you do hold to evidentialism as I showed and will show. I didn’t think the fact that your thoughts are incoherent and your statements inconsistent was the “evidence” you were going off to say that I haven’t pegged you.

T-pebble’s strong [sic] point: “But all that is really secondary to the strong point I want to make here for tonight: Paul remains incorrigible with respect to the claims and arguments that he is reacting to in the first place, here. This "reminiscence" is not something I recognize at all from my arguments, and do not recognize in my understand of Loftus' arguments:”

My reply: Of course this is what we’ve been over before and T-stone has totally failed to interact with the vast majority of all my posts. So, I guess we’ll go through it again. It’s funny that he called “copy and pasting” more “wasted bandwidth.” Certainly repeating refuted arguments is “more wasted bandwidth,” no?

I previously had written: Paul said:

John Loftus claimed: "Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief, and historical evidence in the past simply isn't good enough. What we need is evidence."

Obviously reminiscent of Clifford's The Ethics of Belief: "To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

There's nothing new under the sun. Loftus was claiming what Clifford was.



T-stizzle fo shizzle claims: Loftus can speak for himself (or not) here; for my part, I reject this "reminiscence" as wholly mistaken in its understanding of what was claimed by me, and as far as I can tell, by John as well.

If this post is committed to a premise that I am defending the arguments of Clifford, then there's no point in proceeding at all, for my part: it's fundamentally mistaken in its premises.

In that sense, I suppose it's good that Paul has opted for a "cut-and-paste" job for his... arguments here, as this is all aimed at -- again, let the record show -- boxing shadows. No point in investing the time to argue in your own words against a scarecrow, right?

My reply: Surely T-stone doesn’t think that his “say-so” is enough to overturn my claim, right? If I say, “New York is smelly,” then it makes no difference if a group a New Yorkers corner me in an alley way and threaten to feed me to the fishes for saying that and I respond, “I didn’t say New York is smelly.” I mean, I could punk out and deny what I claimed, but then I’d be a punk. So, T-stone certainly can deny the implications of his claims if he has no problem with being a punk who’s afraid to stand behind his words (or the *logical* implications of his words.). With that caveat in mind, let’s proceed…

T-stone claims: “Specifically, I reject the "always", the "everywhere", the "anyone" and the "anything" in your quote from Clifford as being necessary qualifiers for my claim. Which means you've got it completely wrong, Paul, if you suppose this is my position (or Loftus' so far as I can tell). I've specifically rejected these extremes previously, yet you apparently are unwilling to engage on what is asserted, and instead stand up Mr. Clifford as some kind of proxy to argue against. Why is this, Paul?”

My reply: Oh really? Okay, let’s analyze this. We’ll need to quote the John Loftus Thesis again for the context:

(JLT) = "Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief.”

Logically, “whatever” is the same as “anything.” So, that knocks T-stone’s denial that he does not accept Clifford’s “anything.”

Logically, in context, “we” means “anyone.” If not, this is not the case then John’s Thesis is:

(JLT*) = “Some things that some people believe, some people should demand evidence for that belief.”

If I have (JLT*) correct then note: (a) John needs bigger help than I do in writing and grammar! And, (b) this is *my* position and is what *I* have argued from since *post 1.* They should have agreed with me from post one then. Therefore, granting that John knows how to use the English language, and that T-stone and Loftus are not the type to debate with people they agree with just for the sake of debating them, we can say that (JLT*) is not correct.

In fact, to prove that I have never denied (JLT*) I quote myself from a PREVIOUS thread (actually, from my *first* post on this subject, we‘re on the *4th,* now!):

Paul Manata‘s Previous Agreement With (JLT*),: “ I agree that people SHOULD have evidence to support SOME of their beliefs. I never argued that. I never denied that SOME beliefs SHOULD have evidence for them. I denied the universal claim of Loftus that “ALL beliefs should have evidence demanded of them.” Or, the obverse of which is: “No beliefs should fail to have evidence demanded of them.” So, given those two logically equivalent claims, we can see that my argument was against the idea that ALL beliefs should have evidence for them, not SOME. That it is valuable to have evidence for SOME or even MOST of our beliefs does not logically equate to the universal proposition I’m arguing against. These are basic rules of inference, T-stone. (emphasis original)

Therefore, any claim that Loftus or T-stone are supporting something like (JLT*) is to agree with me and admit that something like (JLT) is subject to the infinite regress argument. So, at best, I was wrong because I mistook “everything” for “some things.” But since I’ve admitted this before, and they keep going, we can assume that they do not agree with (JLT*).

Since “whatever” is logically the same, in this context especially, as “anything,” and since “we” is the same as “anyone” then we could also write (JTL) this way:

(JLT**) = “"Anything anyone believes we should demand evidence for that belief.”

(JLT) and (JLT**) are logically the same and to deny it forces one to hold to (JLT*). If (JLT) and (JLT**) are the same then T-stone *does not* disagree with Clifford’s “anything” and “anyone.” If T-stone agrees with (JLT*) then T-stone agrees with me. If (JLT*) is correct, then my position in this debate is correct. T-stone has made it clear that he doesn't agree with me. He has made it clear that he is talking about everyone and all beliefs. Hence he agrees with Clifford so far.

Lastly, Clifford includes parameters like “everywhere” and “always.”

This would makes Clifford’s Claim look like this:

(CC) “All times and places are times and places where it is wrong for anyone to believe something on insufficient evidence.”

T-stone disagrees? Okay:

(CC*) “Some times and places are times and places where it is wrong for anyone to believe something on insufficient evidence.”

Oh, he disagrees with “anyone” too. Okay:

(CC**) “Some times and places are times and places where it is wrong for some people to believe something on insufficient evidence.”

But of course I *agree with* (CC**). My posts have made this clear. My posts have made this clear from the beginning.

Unfortunately, once cannot *logically* get out of (CC**) the claim that: “All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them.”

Furthermore, T-stone clearly thinks that “ALL” beliefs “SHOULD” have evidence for them. Here are some statements:

- “I *should* base my beliefs on evidence (derived from experience) because this same experience shows that I can accomplish my goals much more surely and effectively by demanding evidence for my beliefs than divorcing my beliefs from any evidential basis.”

- “That's a solid, empirical basis for the belief that beliefs should have evidential bases underneath them.”

- “Paul, the reason people believe evidence is valuable is because they have evidence to support that notion -- their experience. So when you say you don't deny that people value it, you are affirming that they have a belief in the value of evidence -- a belief that people SHOULD have evidence in support of their beliefs.”

- “We believe we should demand evidence for our beliefs because our experience shows that such demands translate to improved abilities to pursue our goals, whether it's mere survival, or getting the Higgins account closed to make your numbers for the quarter.

- “I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the assertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them.”


Lastly, I had asked: “Further, how does this prove that ALL BELIEFS "should" have evidence demanded of them?”

And T-stone unequivocally responded:

- “It's a truism, Paul. Don't be pedantic. Our experience is evidence for the belief that evidence is a beneficial underwriter for our beliefs. We SHOULD demand evidence for beliefs, and this belief is based on our experience; we fare better with evidence-based models than models that are not evidence-based, according to our experience.”

Therefore, it is painfully obvious that T-stone is arguing that every single one of our beliefs, whether it’s about “survival,” religion, or “getting the Higgins account closed to make your numbers for the quarter,” are things that “SHOULD” have evidence for them. Moreover, “we” is best translated as “anyone.” And, no matter the place you’re at (e.g., at work trying to close the Higgins account), or what time it is (e.g., a time when we need to survive,), the beliefs we have then and at that time "should" have evidence for them. Hence John agrees with Clifford's "always" and "everywhere." Furthermore, since “should” is the claim T-stone makes, and assuming it is “wrong” to do things we “shouldn’t do,” and if “all” our beliefs “should” have evidence for them, then, logically, this can be translated to, “none” of our beliefs “should not” have evidence for them,“ then it is “wrong” to do what we “shouldn’t do.” The logic is undeniable. Therefore, T-stone argues that “anyone” in “anyplace” and at “any time” is someone who “ought” to have evidence for their beliefs. Let’s look at Clifford’s Exact Quote, which T-stone said he categorically denied:

(CEQ) = “To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

I therefore claim, on the basis of the logic and argumentation above, that T-stone and Loftus are indeed agreeing with Clifford. As I said, just because T-stone can’t see the *logical implications* of his statements and so *merely asserts* that he’s not arguing Clifford’s thesis, does not mean that T-stone is *nevertheless* in fact arguing for Clifford’s thesis! Therefore, I’m showing that T-stone agrees with (CC) and not (CC* or CC**). I am the one who agrees with (CC* or CC**), see above.

So, how does T-stone get out of the clear implications of the logic of his position? He claims he’s making an “inductive” argument. But I don’t see how this gets him out of anything. We already saw that he clearly believes that “all” beliefs “should” have evidence for them. Since this is so, he believes that “no” beliefs “should not” have evidence for them. To say “it is possible that a belief might not have evidence for it, since my claim is inductive,” is extremely ambiguous. First, I have admitted that plenty of our beliefs do not have evidence for them. So, I’m not denying that. No, his claim would have to be: “it is possible that some beliefs should not have evidence for them.” But, if this is *true,* then it is *false* that “all” beliefs “should” have evidence for them. But, T-stone doesn’t believe this. In fact, he believes that though a belief “might not” have evidence for it, it nevertheless *should* have evidence for it.

- “Sometimes we have little to no evidence in view for decisions or beliefs that are required. That's life. But those pragmatic constraints don't diminish the truth of what John asserted, based on our experience; we *should* have evidence for our beliefs.

And,

- “I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the assertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them.”

Therefore, it is obvious that T-stone is arguing that **EVERY SINGLE ONE** OF OUR BELIEFS **SHOULD** HAVE EVIDENCE FOR THEM. T-stone’s claim then, is not inductive. He’s claiming that “If there’s a belief, there should be evidence for it.” This is a *normative constraint.* Perhaps we should break the analysis out this way - the Two Options:

(TO) = Either we should have evidence for every single one of our beliefs or we shouldn’t.

So if T-stone denies the first half of the disjunct we’d have this premise P2:

(P2) It is not the case that we should have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.

To which the conclusion would follow:

(C1) Therefore, we shouldn’t have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.

Call this TO Argument 1. I obviously have been affirming (TOA1). This can be seen from the fact that it does not follow from the claim that we shouldn’t have evidence for “ALL” of our beliefs then we shouldn’t have evidence for “SOME” of our beliefs. It is obvious that T-stone denies the second half of the disjunct given my quote from him directly above. Hence we can fill out the argument:

(P2*) It is not the case that we should not have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.

(C1*) Therefore, we should have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.

Call this TO Argument 2. T-stone has been shown to affirm (TOA2). Now, since we “should” have evidence for “all” of our beliefs, then it would be false to say that we “shouldn’t” have evidence for all of our beliefs. And it would be false to say that we "shouldn't" have evidence for *soem* of our beliefs. This is not an "inductive" claim, then. Indeed, given the force of “should,” if T-stone notes that he does indeed hold beliefs without evidence, he should give them up. No belief shouldn’t have evidence for it. This is not inductive. To see that, let’s look at a More Obvious Example:

(MOE) = We shouldn’t torture little children for the pure pleasure of it.

Now, one could say that, “To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to torture little children for the pure pleasure of it." Thus I would *never* say that it “may” or “might” be acceptable to torture little children for the pure pleasure of it, in some cases! Thus (MOE) shows us the true nature of a claim like this. T-stone’s position is that one should *never* violate the conclusion of (TOA2). If they are then they’re doing something that they “shouldn’t” be doing. If it is okay, acceptable, etc., *in some cases* to believe things without people saying that we “should” have evidence for it, then it’s wrong to say that we “should have evidence for all of our beliefs.” If that is wrong then (TOA1) is the case, This is my position.

As I had previously argued. If it is true that there can be warranted beliefs of which we have positive epistemic status when holding them, then we "shouldn't" have to have evidence for them. I pointed this out this way: Not all beliefs need propositional evidence in support of them to be warranted or justified or have positive status. Likewise, not every street requires me to go 25 MPH. On *this street* [the one requiring me to go 25] it would be “good” to go, and I “should” go, 25. If I am on a street that doesn’t require 25, but, rather 45 MPH, then it is neither “bad” nor immoral for me to not go 25! So, no, if I can and do have positive epistemic status for beliefs without propositional evidence in its favor, then I deny the claim that I “should” have this evidence for all my beliefs. If I “should” not rape, then NO INSTANCE of rape is “good.” Therefore, if T-stone thinks this about beliefs then NO INSTANCE of beliefs without propositional evidence in their favor are “good” things. And thus we’re back at the regress.

Therefore, since T-stone’s claim is that “every single one of anyone’s beliefs should have evidence demanded of it,” I then “demand” evidence for *that* belief. For him to resort to past experience raises two problems: (a) John Loftus, the claim he’s defending, said that “evidence from history,” which past beliefs are, “is not good evidence,” and (b) this is a *belief* about his past and reliability of his memory. Since *this belief* should have evidence demanded of it, then I so demand. Ad infinitum….


Now, T-stone goes on to make some comments which he thinks clarify his position, but they actually serve to elucidate his muddle-headedness. Let’s look at them:

T-stone sez: “Just as a baseline, I do assert this:

(1) Evidence is a proven, (and undeniable) basis for forming true beliefs.

I sez back: Though I could quibble here that based on T-stone’s relativistic presuppositions, things he’s asserted before (and I have the quotes) he has no basis to say that (1) is “undeniable.” In fact, it *is* deniable by many skeptics, see Stroud, (the former) Unger, Sextus Empiricus, et al. I agree with (1) even though it‘s roughly stated.

T-stone: “(2) Justified bases for true beliefs that obtain without any evidence *may* exist, but their warrant and justification are problematic, whereas evidence-as-warrant/justification is not problematic.”

My reply: First, T-stone said that they *do* exist, not “may.” I had asked him, “So, would you and John admit that I can be justified and warranted in a belief that has no propositional evidence in its favor?” And T-stone replied, I hope so, as I'm confident that some beliefs I hold would probably qualify under that distinction…, and so T-stone is “confident” that he *has* beliefs that “do not” have evidence in their favor! His claim is not a “maybe” but a “sure does.”

Second, Why are their “warrant and justification problematic?” Because they don’t have evidence? But this *begs the question.* T-stone may say, “because then you might not have a “basis for forming true beliefs?.” Why? T-stone may say, “because you have to have evidence as a basis to form true beliefs.” But this *begs the question.* T-stone may say, “because it helps you accomplish your goals.” Why? Furthermore, this is a *pragmatic* argument. That we can accomplish the ends we want does not mean our “evidence” or “beliefs” is *true.* And, people can accomplish goals with false beliefs. As Gordon Clark as pointed out:

“How science can be useful though false is illustrated in a delightful textbook on inductive logic. Milk fever, the illustration goes, until late in the nineteenth century, was a disease frequently fatal to cows. A veterinarian proposed the theory that it was caused by bacteria in the cows’ udders. The cure therefore was to disinfect the cow, which the veterinarian proceeded to do by injecting Lugol solution into each teat. The mortality under this treatment fell from a previous ninety percent to thirty. Does not this success full treatment prove that the bacteria were killed and that Lugol cured the disease? Unfortunately another veterinarian was caught without the Lugol solution one day, and he injected plain boiled water. The cow recovered. Had water killed the bacteria? What is worse, it was found later that air could be pumped into the cows’ udders with equally beneficial results. The original science was wrong, but it cured the cows nonetheless.”

Philosophers of Science like Larry Lauden have offered us lists of successful theories which turn out to be false. Examples are: “Ptolmaic astronomy, chemical affinity theory, subtle fluids chemistry and physics, Newtonian Mechanics, classical thermodynamics, wave optics, humoral theory of medicine, phlogiston theory of chemistry, caloric theories of heat, vibratory theory of heat, the theory of circular inertia, theories of spontaneous generation” (MNoreland, Christianity And The Nature of Science, p. 155). The list could be extended. Indeed, pragmatism as a species of Instrumentalism is a famous anti-realist position!

Or, perhaps T-stone will say that “evidence helps us form true beliefs and hence survive.” Why? “Because those with evidence survive better.” Never mind that this still doesn’t prove his universal claim, it has other problems. (a) First, I never denied that true beliefs are an asset for survival. That’s an invalid converse of my claim. (b) Talk to materialists and evolutionists in your own camp, like Patricia Churchland for example, first : “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F's: feeding, fleeing, fighting and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” And, try this: © I drive to the local 7-11 and believe that crashing into the fanciest car is the best way to magically transport myself to the front of the line at 7-11, but, always looking for a better option than the fancy car right in front of me, I continue to steer clear of all the cars on the road while looking for a better prospect than the Lexus in front of me. Or, perhaps you don’t like that, okay, how about this: I think that I am in a huge video game, call me Mario, and by avoiding objects on the “road” I am racking up points that will be seen after I “die.” Of course being the competitive gamer that I am, I strive as hard as I can to rack up points. Thus my beliefs are not true, but they have survival value. Therefore, beliefs aimed at survival don’t equal beliefs aimed at truth. How does my belief that EVERTHING other than God is “created” give me a survival advantage over the atheist? Or, assuming I’m wrong, how does the atheist have a survival advantage over me? In fact, atheists like Hitchens and Dennett have argued that it was a *survival advantage* to believe falsely about religion. Take a sample quote from a book review I’m writing on Hitchens’ latest book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything:” “The reason people have this tendency to believe in the wild claims of religious hucksters is because it is genetic. “In primitive times, is it not possible that those who believed the shaman’s cure had a better morale as a result, and thus a slightly but significantly higher chance of actually being cured?” (p.165, emphasis his). And so Hitchens finds common cause with Daniel Dennett who notes that there might have been survival value in holding religious beliefs and thus “it seems possible, moving to the psychological arena, that people can be better off believing in something than in nothing, however untrue that something may be” (p.165). Seems like the “Evangolutionist” (AKA T-stone) disagrees with the evolutionary arguments of his intellectual heroes.

Lastly, given an externalist and proper function epistemology, it is not a “problem” to have warranted beliefs without propositional evidence. T-stone is just making assertions and failing to address me where he knows I’m at. That is, his enthymeme is terribly bias. It’s only true if a debated and problematic epistemic position is assumed. Thus one shouldn’t offer enthymemes which rest on hotly disputed premises.

T-stone: (3) Because of (2), evidence is a naturally preferable basis for obtaining true beliefs. (this is the underpinning for "should" in John's original claim, in my view)


My reply: I’ve undermined to and so anything that is “because” of (2) is suspect. Furthermore, I’ve shown that “should” applies to every belief and therefore it applies to (3) as well. So, I “demand” evidence for (3), and (2) for that matter. Lastly, even if this is true, it doesn’t prove T-stone’s claim which I have painstakingly laid out above: “All beliefs, universally, should have evidence for them.” That’s what he’s trying to prove. And, he cannot allow even *one* belief to pass this test because that would be like allowing *one* person to torture a child for pleasure in (MOE) above.

T-stone: “(4)Cases *may* exist where evidence is not possible as underwriter for a belief, even in principle. In such cases, it is reasonable to ask a) what, if not evidence, does serve as the warrant/justification for this belief? and b) does a commitment to this belief *need* to be made?”

Reply: Typical. T-stone can’t even keep track of the discussion. No one is disputing that some beliefs “may” not have “evidence” for them. Indeed, there are thousands. We’re also not disputing that some “true beliefs” may not have evidence for them since they’re lucky guesses. We’re arguing that T-stone is committed to the claim that “ALL” beliefs “SHOULD” have evidence for them. Since he can’t deny this, then he has the regress problem.

And, to answer (a) and (b): (a) the fact that it has been produced by cognitive faculties that are properly functioning, successfully aimed at producing true beliefs, and you are in the right environment, I.e., one sufficiently similar to that which your cognitive faculties have been designed for. As for (b); it does if you want to be warranted in your belief in other minds, the past, induction, etc.

T-stone asserts: “In my view, John Loftus' statement -- "We should demand evidence for all our beliefs" -- reflects (1)-(4) above. I quote John as saying in his clarifying comments posted at 6/08/2007 3:22 PM:

I'd also argue that the fewer things we believe without evidence the better. And those things which we believe without evidence are limited to those things which by their nature are evidence translucent, that is, the need for evidence doesn't apply to said beliefs.

This alone should be enough for Paul to avoid equating Loftus' (or my) arguments with Cliffords. If he is to be responsible here, he will take note of Loftus' words and my words, which are incompatible with Cliffords ("always", "everywhere", "for anyone", "anything").


My reply: And of course we should not that neither T-stone nor Loftus has as of yet interacted with my response to JL’s claim. Furthermore, I have shown above that the only way that *this claim* lets them off the hook is for them to *deny other claims* that they have made. My argument is that they are holding a irrational position in that they are holding inconsistent beliefs and have been made aware of this. Thus if “the need for evidence doesn’t apply to said beliefs” means “evidence shouldn’t be demanded of said beliefs” then T-stone’s claim here, for instance, is wrong: “I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the assertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them” (emphasis original). If JL’s claim means “evidence shouldn’t be demanded of them,” then we have something similar to a denial of (MOE)-type claims. If “evidence shouldn’t be demanded of them,” then we affirm (TOA1) above, my position. Thus if JL is correct, then it is *true* that “not all beliefs should have evidence demanded of them,” and hence T-stone is either wrong or shown to be agreeing with me yet debating me.

T-stone claims: “Paul tries to justify this gross misrepresentation by asserting that "always", "everywhere", "for anyone", and "anything" as offered by Clifford are *necessary* by virtue of the normativity of epistemology.”

My reply: With the above work on my part, I can now easily dismiss this. In fact, I showed, logically, that T-stone agreed with Clifford. The only way for his claims to disagree with Clifford is if we grant him problems with grammar worse than mine, and problems with clear-thinking worse than Sloth from the Goonies! “Ru, ru, Baby Ru.”

T-stone sez “I will note that in this case, his straw man is quite capable, and while it's not my argument, the only way I can see that Paul manages to wrestle his opponent of straw to the ground is through selective cut-and-paste. If a *real* evidentialist -- and I have engaged and debated some at considerable length -- were to stand in the place of Paul's straw opponent, the exchange would be quite different than the heroic victory Paul portrays with the command-v key on his keyboard.”

My reply: Of course given that I have argued in the combox of one post, as well as two original posts from me, way before I ever did the “cut and paste” job, I must take the above as creamy sophistic filler intended to add form to the soft and spongy Twinkie shell his ‘arguments’ have been laid out in. And, we can note that T-stone has admitted my arguments against him have been “quite capable.” Just because he irrationally and illogically doesn’t *think* his position is the one I’m refuting, that doesn’t mean that it *isn’t* the position I’m refuting.

T-stone off-roads: “Naturalist epistemologies do not rely on a priori norms as the building blocks for their normativity; if a theist proposes a set of norms for their epistemology as *prescriptive*, the naturalist will offer norms that are *descriptive* -- norms that are the distillation of empirical and observational evidence.”

My reply: Of course this doesn’t have much to do with the convo, but of course the naturalist will have something like “proper function” to go off of. And this runs into Plantinga’s argument.

And, simply claiming that there are *descriptive norms* doesn’t come close to *showing* that there are. Descriptions don’t get prescriptions, and that’s what T-stone has been arguing. Furthermore, this doesn’t help *Loftus* since he’s an internalist, and I have quotes upon quotes to prove it. For example: “How do you know that you know God is not deceiving you?” Be that as it may, I’d love to see the *norms* that are distilled from “empirical observations.” Indeed, the norms are there *before* you form them! That is, to assume that “empirical observation is evidence for the claim that we should have evidence for all our beliefs” is “good” evidence to “build” your norms from assumes that you “should” have “good evidence” to “build your norms from.” Thus you have the norms *before* your supposed “building up from evidences.”

And, lastly, see this idea of yours get run through the ringer here:

http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~bsid/logic/papers/Bealer/Bealer_The_Incoherence_of_Empiricism.pdf

T-stone claims: “In this sense, then, Paul's "should" problem breaks down into a conflation of differing models of normativity -- prescriptive and descriptive. It's a non-starter to wonder how a naturalist establishes epistemic normativity in the *prescriptive* sense; her norms obtain descriptively, and she points to the witness of experience as the basis for what we "ought" to require in terms of justifying our beliefs.”

My reply: Of course T-stone is now trying to do more shuffling. He’s now trying to dodge my arguments against “should.” Descriptive normativity is like the normativity involved in saying, “my heart ‘should’ beat so many times a minute.” That is to say, these are physical processes which are byproducts of the evolutionary workshop, and something works the way it “should” if it does what it was “designed” to do, or what its “purpose” is. But of course when one claims that all beliefs should have evidence “demanded” of them, one isn’t assuming *this kind* of normativity. To say that it can be “demanded” of us is to assume an internalist approach to epistemology. And, naturalism isn’t internalist. But, say it is. What worldview can make sense of the claim that our “design plan” is to “produce mostly true beliefs?” This assumes Plantinga’s arguments and T-stone failed to interact with my arguments for this, and my defenses of his brief comments about it.

Furthermore, a failure of this kind of normativity is that, the first time an organ did have some consequence that was useful to the organism, that did not constitute being functional for the organism, because there was not yet any evolutionary selection history for that useful consequence. So, *this belief* that was based on “evidence” wasn’t “normative” and, therefore, T-stone’s claim is falsified.

And, next, what about *this belief* itself? “Ought” it to have “evidence?” If not, then experience doesn’t say that “all” beliefs “ought” to have evidence. If it does, what is the evidence? And, once you give it, do you believe that it is evidence for your claim? If so, what is *that evidence?* Ad infinitum

Lastly, how is experience alone a “basis for what we ought” to do?

T-stone admits: “The "should" then, in Loftus' claim, is only pinned to a *descriptive* construction of normativity, and is manifestly at *odds* with a prescriptive construction of normativity. That means that "should" means "should" in the sense of "this has been proven to work on a wide array of truth problems", a sense which disavows "always", "for anyone", etc.”

My reply: Okay, and if this is denied then, according to (TOA1), I’m right. We “shouldn’t” have evidence demanded for all our beliefs.

Furthermore, “should” means “this has proven to work on a wide array of truth problems.” But I’ve agreed that evidence is fine for many beliefs since post 1. So, how was this *my* confusion? Looks more like T-stone’s backpedaling to me. If they now want to admit that it is false that: “All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them,” I’m all ears. And, let’s redo the original claim:

(JLT***) “Some beliefs are things that have been proven to work well on a wide array of truth problems.”

And from the first combox discussion I never even came close to intimating that I denied (JLT***). I even asserted that I agreed with it. But, we don’t know what the “demanded” part means.

Lastly, T-stone is again his worst enemy. Previously he had claimed:

- “You will be maintaining "controlling beliefs" that have no apparent epistemic foundation. As such, they represent a risk to your ability to make sense of the real world around you. That very well may not lead you to murder, but empirically, we observe that more accurate models of the world around us are assets in the pursuit of our goals, and less accurate models are liabilities in pursuit of same.

And,

- If you are entertaining beliefs that have neither a) evidentialist support or b) any other kind of epistemic support, then such a worldview *would* result in a visit by the "worldview police", in the form of the real world being both practically and fundamentally unintelligible for you. And I think such a position would often lead to what can be called "torment" -- the inability to make headway against the challenges of the real word.

Obviously we can see the “prescriptive” element in T-stone’s claims here. A “descriptive” normativity simply tells us *how we function,* but a “prescriptive” one tells us how we “should” function! I highly doubt that if it was the case that we formed beliefs without evidence all the time, and happened to succeed and survive simply because of a wild case of epistemic luck, T-stone would deny that we “should” have evidence. In fact, I noted above that he claimed that “whatever we believe,” even something like the Higgins account, we “should” have evidence for it. This is prescriptive, especially since T-stone has granted that we do, *in fact* believe things without evidence all the time! This is a *description.* In fact, *most* beliefs people have probably have insufficient evidence. Therefore should I be a good T-stonian naturalist and reason that “we *shouldn’t* have evidence for most of our beliefs because we don’t!”? Thus T-stone is laying down a prescription. What if T-stone met a fellow who did “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” as a way to pick things. Say do to luck he always picks the things which helps him succeed. Would T-stone tell this guy that he *shouldn’t* try to base his beliefs on evidence? What if the guy said, “My experience shows this has been a proven way to work on a wide variety of truth problems.”? On T-stone’s logic he would have to tell the guy that he shouldn’t believe things based on evidence. No, this is prescriptive. T-stone is telling us how we *should* believe, even if we *didn’t* believe this way. So, I highly doubt T-stone is saying, “No, you shouldn’t have evidence for your beliefs, it just is the case that some of our beliefs are more successful or closer to truth if we have evidence for them.” Never mind I pointed out that this “evidence” is not necessary and sufficient for knowledge, no one disagrees with this. Please tell me T-stone has been pretending to disagree with me this entire time!

34 comments:

  1. Mickey Jerry6/13/2007 5:56 AM

    Wow, Paul the psycho can shoot mice in the head. Impressive.

    :::YAWN!!!:::

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul, in the words of Tommy Boy: "That ... was .... awesome!"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mickey Jerry = Paul Manata

    Anonymous = Paul Manata

    how sad.

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  4. Anonymous <> Paul6/13/2007 10:33 AM

    What is a Touchstone?

    Is it one of the metals that is found in mood rings. It glows blue when responding to atheists but always red when (reading and) responding to T-bloggers and others (Pyromainiacs)?

    Or is it the new dance and shimmy craze?

    Interesting that John's supposedly general claim (that started this whole interaction) was actually an attack on Christianity wrapped in a veneer of sophistry. And true to form T-Stone jumps in gun's blazing. Then when cornered continues to shoot blanks does a little jig and tries to shimmy to a new corner.

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  5. anonymous <> Paul6/13/2007 10:43 AM

    And another thing, even though I spend a lot of time reading apologetic material and believe it's crucial to present a reason for our faith, T-stone seems to be imply that brute facts and argumentation alone will get people to convert. Forget the work of the Spirit, the concept of faith?

    Unfortunately I've watched a few of my friends attempt to justify every 'fact' and 'premise' of Christianity, in an attempt to bring it in line with the unrefuteable facts of modern science (right, nudge nudge, wink wink), only to end up losing the heart of what it's about.

    I also feel a little sorry that John L has devoted his life (at least the rest of it) to show the irrationality of Christianity only to find that at least three or four fingers are pointing back at him. Tsk. Tsk.

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  6. anonymous<>paul = a commenter

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's obvious... Mourner = Paul Manata.

    Oh well. Paul totally got the T-pebble right...

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  8. Peter Pike = sad little boy that can't legally drive.

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  9. Paul,

    As it happens, I got an email from a relative who's trying to get into professional photography, and it had a link to this article, titled "The Five Truisms of the
    Photography Business". I took a minute to click through the link and read the article, as "Truism" in the title reminded me of Paul's "dismantling" of me and the truism I had offered. Here's the first few lines of the article:

    Some working photographers are dogmatic about certain rules in business: "never work for free," "never give up rights," and the all-encompassing "just say no" [to bad contracts]. While these are usually good, sound bits of advice, there are exceptions to the rule. While no one disputes "exceptions," the more critical issue at hand is the "attitude" that accompanies these mantras. And it is this attitude that can often cloud one's judgement about making good career business decisions.

    So, reading that paragraph, I imagine Paul's indignance upon reading this. "Never work for free". That seems quite exhaustive to Paul... "never" means "never", right? "Never give up rights"... this is quite a dogmatic set of assertions! Pretty air-tight, in Paul's view.

    But just a sentence or two later, we find "While these are usually good, sound bits of advice, there are exceptions to the rule. While no one disputes "exceptions..."

    Uh oh. We have a major problem here , according to out resident pedant. The author just said "never", and then immediately allowed for exceptions!!! Moreover, not only does the author provide for exceptions, he asserts that everyone *else* allows for exceptions.

    Paul would be scandalized. Dan Heller is clearly irrational, right?

    Paul may well assert this, and in fact, reading his recent posts, I think he *must*, else his proposed connections of my arguments to Clifford's have no weight at all.

    Is Dan Heller (the author of this article) engaging in self-contradiction, and manifestly irrational? Is he not functioning properly in the head?

    I understand that Paul would say so, based on his comments here. But I would simply point to such a conclusion as another exercise in pedantry. "Never" as a rule here remains a *rule*, even in the presence of (and perhaps because of) exceptions. When the author says "no one disputes exceptions", he is pointing the fact that there can be and are exceptions to the rule. It would be pedantic to contend with the author, claiming that "never" means "never, ever, without exception".

    I suggest that's precisely the pedantic approach that Paul is committed to here. We SHOULD demand evidence for all our beliefs. Can there be exceptions to this rule? Sure, if only because we can think of beliefs that no amount of evidence would work to validate -- evidene just doesn't apply in some cases.

    The bottom line here is that "SHOULD" in "We SHOULD demand evidence for all our beliefs" has not been offered in the same way as our photography article author used "NEVER". "Should", like "never" above, are used express the idea as *expediencies* suitable for the desired goal.

    And, since we are dragged to this, let's have a look at "should" from Merriam-Webster:

    2 -- used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency

    I think there are elements of all three - obligation, propriety and expendiency - in the use of "should" in "We should demand evidence for our beliefs", but the strongest expression here would be "expediency", which I appealed to just above. We *should* appeael for evidence for our beliefs because evidence is an established expedient -- a means of achieving an end. Evidence helps build a more accurate conception of the world around us.

    It is *because* of the expedient qualities of evidence that we should demand it. If evidence isn't available (possibly even in principle) for a belief, well we can't very well rely on evidence for that belief. But again, that is an exception to the rule, a rule which has a broad base of support in our experience: Evidence works in building true beliefs!

    It's frustrating to take even the small bit of time required to have to type this out. If one is not committed to approaching this as a pedant, this *is* a truism -- it goes without saying.


    Paul, you can spin your wheels all you want saying "should" allows for no exceptions. I've provided the quotes from John Loftus clarifying his original comments that *allowed* for exceptions, just as the author in the photography article did. Over the express declarations of intended meaning and implications of "should" you've constructed an opposing argument that has not been offered.

    I'm happy to engage on all manner of topics. Some of the secondary topics that have come up are worth discussing, no doubt. But it won't happen under the banner of Touchstone == Clifford. You're wasting your time if you expect to have that happen.

    For the record I *do* ascribe great importance to the evidentialist mojo. I don't think it's *complete* -- exceptions can and do apply, but those exceptions often serve to prove the rule. As a rule, evidence is the best resource we have for our reasoning to true beliefs, based on our experience.

    So yes, given the demonstrated efficacy of evidence as basis for true beliefs, I remain convinced that we SHOULD demand evidence for our beliefs. We don't control the universe, so there will be and are cases where evidence is not available, whether in principle or in practice. Exceptions apply.

    But the rule -- the expediency implied by "SHOULD" -- stands, in my view. Clifford would deny these exceptions exist. I do not, and that is a fundamental point of departure between us. I realize it doesn't fit your agenda to acknowledge this, but I'm not prepared to conform my understanding to serve your agenda, Paul. I'm surprised, given what I've written here in the past, that you think this would work.

    I tell my children regularly: 'You should always tell the truth'. And I mean it. But I'm no pedant, and recently a fairly serious situation came up where for her protection, it was necessary for my daughter to lie, or at least deceive through omission.

    Am I irrational in telling my daughter that we "should" always be honest? In a pedantic sense, yes. I suppose I could got to pains to exhort here to "begin with the assumption that you should tell the truth as a default position, bearing in mind the following kinds of circumstances and possible exceptions defined here on pages 16-31 of Appendix A..." Indeed, I *do* address exceptions with her about the "always tell the truth" rule, which proved invaluable in the recent situation where she identified an "exceptional case" and did the right thing.

    She understands, then, that the force of the rule is maintained -- "Always tell the truth" -- even as she is aware of the possibility of exceptional situations. It does not diminish the virtue of honesty to acknowledge that in some circumstances even higher principles may trump it when they come into conflict. She eschews a pendantic view of the rule, and to her benefit (and mine!).

    And that's really all this comes down to, Paul... you playing the pedant here. You've had it explained to you repeatedly, and yet remain incorrigible in your pedantics. I can't prevent that or stop it. All I can do is object, and identify the problem.

    -Touchstone

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  10. Anonymous,

    And another thing, even though I spend a lot of time reading apologetic material and believe it's crucial to present a reason for our faith, T-stone seems to be imply that brute facts and argumentation alone will get people to convert. Forget the work of the Spirit, the concept of faith?

    I think the evidence in support of Christianity is just that - evidence. I don't suppose it is overwhelming or compelling in the face of someone who's not inclined toward its thesis. If that *were* the case, then there'd be no need for the work of the Holy Spirit, no need for faith, would there? It's precisely because of the nature of the evidence -- supportive but not overwhelming -- that the Holy Spirit can be effective.

    -Touchstone

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  11. Anonymous said:
    ---
    Peter Pike = sad little boy that can't legally drive.
    ---

    Aside from no one ever calling me "little" and the fact that I'm not a "boy" and that right now I'm actually closer to being hyper than "sad"....

    Your "insult" that I cannot legally drive is about as meaningful to me as saying I wear white tube socks.

    But you go on pretending that this somehow affects me (while you're the one paying $50 to fill your gas tank) and I'll pretend to be offended, m'kay?

    ReplyDelete
  12. anonymous = wlotter6/13/2007 1:32 PM

    Touchstone,

    I think the evidence in support of Christianity is just that - evidence. I don't suppose it is overwhelming or compelling in the face of someone who's not inclined toward its thesis. If that *were* the case, then there'd be no need for the work of the Holy Spirit, no need for faith, would there? It's precisely because of the nature of the evidence -- supportive but not overwhelming -- that the Holy Spirit can be effective.

    Exactly! So why have you appointed yourself as the police of the evidence that is presented on T-blog? That is, if it's just evidence.

    I'm not proposing that we simply take all that T-blog presents as gospel truth. These things need to be worked through and discussed, obviously. And part of all our sanctifying process, as we journey and deepen out relationship with God, is to continually examine what we believe in order to bring it in line with his revelation.

    It is telling, though, that you always side with atheists on this blog. You spend more time trying to accommodate and see things from their side than your own brothers in Christ. If we ever go through extreme persecution in the US, I have no idea which side you will take. It seems philosophically you'd be able to shape shift with practically no effort.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The problem with T-stone's comment is that it's more of the same.

    At best, he's making claims which he thinks absolve him from his dilemma, but the cost is that he must deny other claims he's made.

    I certainly agree that if T-stone denies his claims that *I've* been arguing against, then he can escape.

    He furthermore seems oblivious to immediate inferences drawn from his claims. Logical rules are out the window when trying to interpret him.

    He avoids this by saying that nothing he said means what it implies.

    I could write a post and say,

    "All people who disagree with Christianity are stupid."

    Then, right on time, T-stone would come in complaining.

    I would then say, "No, I meant this:"

    Some people who disagree with Christianity are stupid."

    But who would disagree with *that?* No one. The reason they disagreed is because of what my words imply. So, T-stone can feel free to avoid my arguments by denying everything he's argued and admitting that almost everything he's said shouldn't be understood the way it's written.

    T-stone's above comment does not come close to rebutting my post. He's not interacted in a substantive way with the majority of my arguments in my other posts either. At this point you just have to let him keep talking and recognize that his argumentative nature just refuses to be proven wrong, especially by people he dislikes. It's like a guy whose favorite team loses: "If they wouldn've done this, they would've won". "I didn't say my quaterback was the *best,* I said he was pretty good." I didn't say we'd go undefeated, I said we'd hardly lose a game." "You only won because the refs were on your side. If you played fair, we'd have won." Blah, blah, blah.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think it highly relevant to understanding T-Stone inability to grasp language when he thinks that the following paragraph is self-contradictory:

    ---
    Some working photographers are dogmatic about certain rules in business: "never work for free," "never give up rights," and the all-encompassing "just say no" [to bad contracts]. While these are usually good, sound bits of advice, there are exceptions to the rule. While no one disputes "exceptions," the more critical issue at hand is the "attitude" that accompanies these mantras. And it is this attitude that can often cloud one's judgement about making good career business decisions.
    ---

    Somehow T-Stone reads this paragraph that starts out with "SOME working photographers..." (emphasis added to help the poor fellow see this) as a universal held by the author!

    T-Stone proposes the following:

    1) Some photographers believe X.

    2) Y is ~X.

    3) Therefore, 2 contradicts 1

    When clearly that isn't the case.

    But even if it were the case that this was a contradiction, there's a distinct difference between a contradiction in a colloqual usage and a contradiction in a logical, philosophical usage of terms. T-Stone ought to know (he said he took a philosophy class after all) that philosophical terms are used much more dogmatically than these terms would be used by, oh, photographers and such.

    As for the rest of what T-Stone wrote...I didn't read it, and therefore it is still wrong. (This approach to responding to arguments is so utterly amazing one must wonder why Aristotle or Plato, or even my next door neighbor never used it!)

    ReplyDelete
  15. wlotter,

    I'm not proposing that we simply take all that T-blog presents as gospel truth. These things need to be worked through and discussed, obviously. And part of all our sanctifying process, as we journey and deepen out relationship with God, is to continually examine what we believe in order to bring it in line with his revelation.

    There are a great many ideas I support and have in common with those posted on Triablogue. I think the "Fairness Doctrine" is an execrable assualt on our 1st Ammendment rights, for example. But before I could side with that idea, I'd have to divorce myself from the obnxious attitude Steve Hays wraps his posts up in so tightly ("liberal values" as oxymoron, for example). I am ardently pro-life, I'm a supporter of aggressive prosecution of the War on Terror, and the defeat of Islam as a political force. I proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that God became man, and in so doing took upon Himself the sins of the world, suffered, died, was buried, and rose bodily on the third day, and ascended to rule at the right hand of the Father.

    So there's plenty of points of agreement, but they're canceled out, and annihilated, in some cases by the combination of the corporate *attitude* of T-Bloggers (in terms of their discourse, I'm sure they have a fine attitude when they are watching their favorite team win at the local baseball park, or in the church pew on Sunday morning), and they anti-rational nihilism that Triablogue offers as "presuppositional apologetics".

    In my experience, the twin horns of YEC cosmogony and Reformed suppositionalism have done more to discredit the basic legitimacy of the Gospel than anything Dawkins or Harris Russell has ever managed. It's an exercise in shooting yourself in the foot. And of course T-Bloggers manage to do it with an "f-you" attitude all the while, which just further galvanizes the conclusions of any investigating parties that happen along.

    So, yeah, there's plenty that overlaps, but what does overlapped I identify as generally (and often thoroughly) debunked by arguments and attitudes projected here at Triablogue. Given that understanding, it hardly makes sense to shut up about the nonsense of Paul's regress gun, and hold me nose through Hays' attitude to affirm my abhorrence at the rationale of the Fairness Doctrine. It's just not a reasonable expectation.

    The last line in your paragraph there is really the kicker for me. Reformed presuppositionalism is in the unfortunate position of being perfectly, unassailably insulated from outside criticism. There is no outside liability to critiques of reason and logic that it recognizes -- it is "reform-proof" in a tragically ironic way. Anyone "outside" the perimeter has a mental handicap, the "noetic effects of the fall", which presuppositionalists have conveniently construed to mean total inability for man to reason and function rationally. Not just about ultimate, metaphysical issues, but about *any* issue.

    That needs to shown for the sham defense -- the cynical construction of "categorical barriers" in hopes to avoid liability to reason and rational inquiry -- that it is. It *delegitimizes* the entire Christian message, and subsumes *all* of it into rarifed *fideism*.

    Christianity as nihilism with an f-you attitude. That seems like something worth objecting to where I come from, even if we do agree on the Fairness Doctrine, abortion, the Trinity and the Resurrection.

    -Touchstone

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  16. T-Stone said:
    ---
    Christianity as nihilism with an f-you attitude. That seems like something worth objecting to where I come from, even if we do agree on the Fairness Doctrine, abortion, the Trinity and the Resurrection.
    ---

    Ignoring the mischaracterization of presuppositionalism that T-Stone employs here, I have to point out that I don't believe in the same God that T-Stone claims to believe in (yes, I use the word "claims"). I don't believe in the same "Trinity" therefore--the Godhead I believe is radically different from T-Stones. Furthermore, the "resurrection" is equally different, for my Jesus is not T-Stone's Jesus.

    Theologically, if we believe T-Stone's claims about his theism (which I do not, for he has given me no reason to believe his claims to theism), he is completely heterodox on many issues. Not the least of which is his denial of the effects of sin on man, as he acknowledges in what he wrote above. But his claimed theism is closer to deism than to anything resembling Christianity. While I don't have a problem accepting such groups as Arminians as being Christian (with serious theological problems), even if T-Stone's claims to of what he believes accurate reflect his position I would not consider him to be a Christian.

    Now T-Stone can whine and say this is an "f-you" kind of statement, but a) T-Stone's a hipocrite for whining about tone in the first place and b) my tone is, by and large, demonstrably Biblical.

    T-Stone doesn't have an argument to rest upon. This is why he has to continual engage in side issues.

    Which reminds me. T-Stone, are you ever going to show your proof of evolution from the fossil record like I asked you to last week?

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  17. One other thing I will point out...

    Has anyone ever seen T-Stone exegete any passage of Scripture? You know, Scripture--the book that Christianity is based on? Those writings. Do they even exist for T-Stone?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Peter,

    Here's where we left things:

    1. Still waiting for your answer about whether T and F stand as scientific theories in the syllogism you gave.

    2. Still waiting for your response on what you would expect for a review of the fossil evidence. I can fill your combox with reference materials on the fossil record in a way that will make Manata's "see all my philosophers?" post make him look like a Piker.

    See here for the way things ended up (as of right now). Perhaps I misinterpreted the conspicuous absence of an answer.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  19. TOUCHSTONE SAID:

    In my experience, the twin horns of YEC cosmogony and Reformed suppositionalism have done more to discredit the basic legitimacy of the Gospel than anything Dawkins or Harris Russell has ever managed. It's an exercise in shooting yourself in the foot. And of course T-Bloggers manage to do it with an "f-you" attitude all the while, which just further galvanizes the conclusions of any investigating parties that happen along.

    **************

    While T-pebble is temporarily distracted by wiping the spittle from his chin, I would simply note that the targets of his wrath are by no means limited to the YEC end of the spectrum.

    If you mouse over to his blog, you'll see that he's just as hostile to IDT. Indeed, he's just as hostile to a fellow theistic evolutionist like Michael Behe.

    He also sides with Hitchens over Wilson in their recent debate.

    For some reason he goes around with a big chip on his shoulder. He sports the attitude of a militant apostate or Darwinian fundamentalist. A poor man's Dawkins.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Touchstone said:
    Peter,

    Still waiting for your response on what you would expect for a review of the fossil evidence. I can fill your combox with reference materials on the fossil record in a way that will make Manata's "see all my philosophers?" post make him look like a Piker.

    ************************************************

    And we're still waiting for T-pebble to submit his model of theistic evolution to a panel of peer reviewers like Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Tanner Edis, Doug Futuyma, Phil Kitcher, Paul Kurtz, P. Z. Myers, William Provine, Michael Shermer, Quentin Smith, Victor Stenger, and Steven Weinberg.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Steve said:
    ---
    If you mouse over to his [T-Stone's] blog, you'll see that he's just as hostile to IDT. Indeed, he's just as hostile to a fellow theistic evolutionist like Michael Behe.
    ---

    Indeed, this is part of why I don't believe him when he claims to be a theist. I don't see any "theistic" aspect to his "theistic evolution." It looks identical to "secular evolution" to me.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Touchstone,

    Do you have evidence for this statement in relation to T-blog...

    In my experience, the twin horns of YEC cosmogony and Reformed suppositionalism have done more to discredit the basic legitimacy of the Gospel than anything Dawkins or Harris Russell has ever managed. It's an exercise in shooting yourself in the foot. And of course T-Bloggers manage to do it with an "f-you" attitude all the while, which just further galvanizes the conclusions of any investigating parties that happen along.

    Or is this mere opinion?

    To be honest I have yet to see someone state, "You know, I was in two minds but T-blog, you have now galvnized for me a position other than what I was leaning towards to begin with." If you have, please point that out in the combox.

    Sure you can rattle off the basic tenets of Christianity, so can most of my non-christian friends. But I think I agree with Pike. In your attempt to seem rational to everyone but your christian brothers, the heart has stopped beating.

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  23. T-pebble,

    "In my experience, the twin horns of YEC cosmogony and Reformed suppositionalism have done more to discredit the basic legitimacy of the Gospel than anything Dawkins or Harris Russell has ever managed. It's an exercise in shooting yourself in the foot. And of course T-Bloggers manage to do it with an "f-you" attitude all the while, which just further galvanizes the conclusions of any investigating parties that happen along. "

    Given your claims, then I expect you think you "should" have "evidence" for this belief.

    Can we have it? Thanks.

    Oh, and when you give it, I wonder if you will "believe" the propositions of which your evidence consists. So, can I bother you for *that* evidence as well? Thanks.

    Now, perhaps you think your beliefs have positive epistemic status, and thus are warranted, without evidence in their favor.

    If so, that's my position and I thank you kindly for agreeing with me.

    So, either agree with me or present the evidence...and then some, and then some, and then some....

    If you opt for the second half of this disjunct I'll give you a year to put together the evidence ad infinitum. So, you can take a break for T-blog for a year because you're gonna be a busy little beaver. Then, when you come back in a year, I'll already tell you my response, just so you're prepared:

    "Oh, and where's the evidence for *all those* beliefs?

    And, btw, I think we'd all love to see the empirical obersavtion which supports your claim. That's what you said all beliefs boil down do. So, this should be fun!

    buh-bye, T-pebble

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  24. TS made it clear long ago that there is overlap in his view and your's that evidence is as an essential but incomplete mode of justification. Why not focus on areas of agreement and disagreement in an effort to clarify (more than in passing as you’ve done thus far) your views on epistemology, and TS can, in the ensuing dialectic, do the same?

    Mostly what I’ve surmised from your 10,000+ word tomes thus far is that I’m supposed to agree with you that TS is an idiot and maybe a liar, but, frustratingly, very little light has been shed on *your* notions of warrant and PB.

    Why not get a full and detailed accounting of TS’s views on epistemology, represent those views *fairly* for your readers, then undertake to dismantle *that* instead of mere sound bites?

    Greg Welty breathed a breath of fresh air into my sails in an earlier thread when he asked TS a thoughtful and incisive question that TS responded to in kind, but it seemingly barely registered on your radar screen. You just made a couple of short posts. I had hoped that it would derail the “he said, she said” nonsense we’ve been “fire hosed” with up ‘til now.

    In short, why not argue more for your position than you argue against Tstone’s? Yes, you’ve breifly brought up Plantinga, warrant, tossed out some quotes, but those efforts pale in comparison to your apparent passion to heap scorn on your opponent. Just look at your prodigious output devoted to TS’ “howlers”. If I were TS, I’d be proud of all the attention. You almost protest too much, Paul. It's almost like your trying hardest to convince *yourself* that your offering something truly substantive.

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  25. chad, because the purpose here is discussing the claims made by T-stone.

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  26. Chad
    And perhaps it would be nice to hear TS admit that he was wrong jumping in with gun's blazing. But unfortunately it's his instinctive reaction to any and all T-blog entries. Unfortunately all I've seen him do is simply equivocate, over-qualify and imply that Paul totally misunderstood John L's comment. Any one can see that Paul's initial argument has not changed, though TS has danced his way around this one.

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  27. Chad, furthermore, if your claim is meant to be understood that T-stone says that evidecne is a *necessary* but nor sufficient model for justification, then THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN ARGUING AGAINST! So, you've noted that T-stone holds the position he (and some others) say he doesn't (but which I've also shown he does). So, at least we both read T-stone correctly.

    I'm offering a reductio ad absurdum them. When offering such an argument, all the premises used are premises from your interlocutor. My position doesn't even matter here.

    But, I have made clear that my position is that some beliefs do not need to have propositional evidence in their favor to be warranted. In fact, there are such beliefs. Note the disctinction between "there are such beliefs" and the bet-hedging position of T-stone, "guh-huh, for all wees know, there *mays* bees some beliefs that don't need evidence for them to be warranted."

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  28. In his answer to Greg TS claimed there *are* modes of justification besides “evidentialism”. In fact, he’s made that fact clear on numerous occasions now. So he does agree with you, but not without critical caveats. Isn’t the most sensible next step to ask him to unpack precisely what this means so that the debate can take a more fruitful turn? He disagrees with Plantinga while you agree, and this is what lies at the heart of your differences here. It has nothing to do with TS being deep sixed by infinite regress. He disavows the “evidentialist simpliciter” tag and has for some time now, but you keep going back to that.

    Earlier you said:

    *****
    So, since T-stone said:

    1. All beliefs are things Plantinga does allow in the PB box.

    And my example above shows that

    2. Some beliefs are things that Plantinga does not allow in the PB box.

    I have thus proven that T-stone's claim (1) is false.
    *************

    The above is a paradigm example of precisely what you do all too often when engaging someone who has the nerve to disagree with you: Make a false or misleading assignment (item 1. above) and then use it as a springboard for another tome. And you continue to do it in this thread. Let go of the infinite regress already. TS explained himself on that score about 5 threads ago.

    As for the above quote, when TS says (something to the effect that) Plantinga allows “any” belief to go in the PB column, people aren’t stupid enough to think Plantinga actually accepts this. They’re also not stupid enough to believe TS thinks this either. Not for one second.

    It’s moot anyway. TS explained his usage (do you actually read his posts?)when he said, “I don't suppose Plantinga just outright claimed ‘anything goes’ with regard to basicality, but the explanation he offers establishes just that.”

    So TS is saying that Plantinga does not convincingly downselect for a reduced list of “valid” PB beliefs versus something completely arbitrary.

    Why not just focus on the *actual* claim about Plantinga instead of forcing words into his mouths and turning this into a personal attack? Let TS qaulify his own usage of terms instead of constantly insisting that you can do it better. It’s a give and take thing.

    Sheesh, people use literalistic language all the time without being taken literally, and if they are taken literally it doesn’t take much effort to clear up the confusion, AND they are not generally called incoherent because someone ELSE didn’t get the colloquialism first time around.

    How do you justify claiming to have refuted TS (item 1. above) when it is clear he was NOT saying in any kind of unqualified sense that “All beliefs are things Plantinga does allow in the PB box”? And why do you do this kind of thing? Just to do a mojo dance on the grave of a non-existent enemy?

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  29. Chad, you call it clarifying, I call it back pedaling. I've posted my reasons and until they are rebutted in detail, I'll have to go with argument over assertion.

    You said,

    "TS made it clear long ago that there is overlap in his view and your's that evidence is as an essential but incomplete mode of justification."

    Which is it? Is evidence *essential* to justification (I'm not a JTBer, anyway.), or isn't it? if it *is* then you have *my* understanding of T-stone's claims. If it's not, then why do you say he says it is? Perhaps I'm just being "pedantic" and your mean "essential" in a "figurative way?"

    Furthermore, he never admitted that there *is* or *are* beliefs that are warranted in the absence of evidence in their favor, he said their *CAN* be? Am I being "pedantic" again? This was said to keep in step with his inductive argument (see below). His inductive argument was his back pedaling from the force of my original argument. He then started saying, "'ALL' is to be taken inductively in that there "may" be beliefs that are warranted without evidence." See, he still agreed with the "all" part, but granted the *possibility* that he could be wrong. This was to hedge his bets. But, if you actually cared to *read* my posts then you'd note how I handeled this.

    Chadstone,


    "Your “proof” is indexed to multiple four line syllogisms which are technically sound (to be sure) but whose truth requires that the reader accept that Paul Manata knows better than TS what TS actually believes or is thinking at any given time. They trade on equivocations, half truths, misrepresentations, and taking your disputant literally even when it has been made clear numerously that that is NOT the intent. "

    Okay, so at best T-stone meant "some" when he said 'all" and meant "some people" when he said "all people" and didn't mean that "all beliefs are things that should have evidence in their favor." Okay, so he was saying what I said. When I made this clear right up front, why didn't he say I was right?

    Second, let's say I said:

    "Pigs can fly."

    Then you come in and rightfully bash my ignorance. I then say, I didn't say that, I said "birds can fly." Uh, no I didn't. I said "pigs," not "birds." You're still *assuming* that T-stone back pedaling is actually true of what he actually wrote. My claim is that it's not. I made my case for that, no one has critiqued it yet.

    Actually, T-stone first tried to *halt* the regress. i then showed that he couldn't. So, *at this point* he then changed his tune and said he was making an inductive argument. But, as I've pointed out, the induction is *falsified.* Why can't you grasp this????????

    So, his claim:

    "All beliefs should have evidence"

    wasn't *denied,* he just left open the "possibility" that he "could" be wrong. If he's now saying that he *is* wrong, then he's falsified his inductive argument! Get it???

    See, I had asked: "But, let's let T-stone tell us all about the experience which grounds the universal claim that "*all* beliefs are things that *should* have evidence given for them."


    And how did T-stone respond????? Here is a chance to DENY that he believes the above. Right, Chad? If he *really meant* what you claim, then here was a *perfect* opportunity to DENY my claim that he thought ALL beliefs needed evidence. Got it?

    So, what does he do? Does he DENY it? No. he tries to prove it by pointing to "John Loftus' thousands of beliefs that have evidence for him and help him survive."

    He says,

    "On and on an on... over thousands of tasks and experiences (and I've just been using visual perceptions by way of example here, and haven't even touched on other forms of perception), John accumulates a large pile of experiences that, when reviewed, strongly suggest that evidence represents a means to improve or clarify his model of the real world, as demonstrated by his ability to accomplish his desired objectives.

    That's a solid, empirical basis for the belief that beliefs should have eviddential bases underneath them."


    How could this be any more clear, Chadstone???

    So, I asked for proof that ALL beliefs should have evidence. He then tried to PROVE what I asked. notice I had 'all" in all caps!!!! I even emphasized what I meant!!! He doesn't *correct* me, rather he goes on to give an *argument* to meet my question!

    I then responded,

    "Hmmm, and so particular experiences ground the claim that ALL beliefs should have evidence demanded of them? Come again? How does that follow?"

    So, now what does T-stone do? He says,

    "So, you are incredulous about the extrapolation from particulars to universality."

    See!! T-stone says that his claim is a UNIVSERSAL ONE, it's just "inductive." That is, it has the *possibility* of being false. Got that? We on the same page?

    I THEN SAID in response to this "inductive" claim:

    "(a) I've shown that there are beliefs with no evidence for them, and we are still warranted in believing them. So, this refutes your inductive generalization anyway."

    Got that? Are we clear? Crystal? I said his inductive claim - "all beliefs should have evidence for them" was false since there were beliefs that "shouldn't" have to have evidence demanded of them.

    This means I was saying "some" beliefs are not things that should have evidence for them.

    Okay. We now have another PERFECT opportunity for T-stone to say, "hey, I agree with that." What does he do? He continues to defend the inductive claim. He says,

    "Assuming you mean *John's* [inductive] inference (maybe we should call it that just to keep things straight), I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the asertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them, [...]
    That doesn't deny that people can and do have beliefs that don't have any evidentiary support. Examples of this abound."


    Got that Chadstone????? Are you following the bouncing ball? T-pebble didn't say, "Oh, I believe that." He said, missing the whole discussion, "People *do have* beliefs without evidence. I don't deny this. I just say that they *SHOULD* have evidence for all their beliefs."

    But THIS WAS NEVER IN DISPUTE!!!!!n NO ONE denied that people *do* have beliefs without evidence, we were debating whether all beliefs SHOULD have evidence. T-stone plainly agrees that THEY SHOULD!!!!!!

    What should? ALL BELIEFS. I had denied this. If T-stone did, why didn't he agree with me?

    I mean, I can keep going with this painful exercise if you want. I am right. That's not being cocky or bragging. I have done my homework, and despite people's *claims* to the contrary, I have shown what T-stone was defending. That he WAY LATER tried to weasel out of it isn't my fault.

    So, let's say that T-stone and Loftus deny that "ALL beliefs SHOULD have evidence for them." Good. That's what I have been claiming. They agree with me, then. I have shown that their posts disagreed, but if you want to say that they NOW agree, I'll chalk it up to the forceful argumentation. Actually, what we have is a person switching his beliefs because of my arguments. You say he admitted all along that he agreed with my position yet for some reason continued to debate it with me. I say he saw he was wrong and that was his concession without conceding.

    The logic is undeniable.

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  30. I reject the notion that TS didn’t “get it” early on. What I see is that it is not in your best interest to ask for clarification from your interlocutor right at the outset in order to achieve a common understanding of the meanings of words and concepts you’re using, because then there’d be no basis for your ridiculous claim that in the course of these few posts you’ve changed TS's mind. And now it’s just your word against his.

    My take from the beginning was that TS and JL were not aiming at the kind of precision you keep holding them to, and what you call “back peddling” was really just TS gradually coming to understand where you were actually coming from. It’s a great strategy for creating the appearance of victory, but you’ve really just been kneeing your opponent in the groin all this time rather than landing legal blows.

    It’s all really rather absurd to expect me to believe that TS didn’t get the infinite regress thing before you pointed out the obvious any number of times, but if he didn’t, I hope he’ll be man enough to admit it to you. After all, it really is more about extracting that pound of flesh than clarity, isn’t it?

    As an aside, but in direct support of my charge, you’ve been calling TS an infalliblist for some time now on the basis of a single quote from another site. No clarification on just what he meant by “know” or “demonstration” in that quote was requested by you. You just ran with the most uncharitable and improbable interpretation available and then proceeded to level an attack on a phantom.

    Since you didn’t answer directly the first time, I’m reposting the following:

    Earlier you said:

    *****
    So, since T-stone said:

    1. All beliefs are things Plantinga does allow in the PB box.

    And my example above shows that

    2. Some beliefs are things that Plantinga does not allow in the PB box.

    I have thus proven that T-stone's claim (1) is false.
    *************

    The above is a paradigm example of precisely what you do all too often when engaging someone who has the nerve to disagree with you: Make a false or misleading assignment (item 1. above) and then use it as a springboard for another tome. And you continue to do it in this thread. Let go of the infinite regress already. TS explained himself on that score about 5 threads ago.

    As for the above quote, when TS says (something to the effect that) Plantinga allows “any” belief to go in the PB column, people aren’t stupid enough to think Plantinga actually accepts this. They’re also not stupid enough to believe TS thinks this either. Not for one second.

    It’s moot anyway. TS explained his usage (do you actually read his posts?)when he said, “I don't suppose Plantinga just outright claimed ‘anything goes’ with regard to basicality, but the explanation he offers establishes just that.”

    So TS is saying that Plantinga does not convincingly downselect for a reduced list of “valid” PB beliefs versus something completely arbitrary.

    Why not just focus on the *actual* claim about Plantinga instead of forcing words into his mouths and turning this into a personal attack? Let TS qaulify his own usage of terms instead of constantly insisting that you can do it better. It’s a give and take thing.

    How do you justify claiming to have refuted TS (item 1. above) when it is clear he was NOT saying in any kind of unqualified sense that “All beliefs are things Plantinga does allow in the PB box”? And why do you do this kind of thing? Just to do a mojo dance on the grave of a non-existent enemy?

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  31. Chad,

    Not interacting with my arguments why, I wonder?

    I have my arguments for why I believe TS is subject to my refutations and how my analysis is correct. You have not shown that I'm wrong.

    Regarding Plantinga, okay, so he didn't mean "anything" when he wrote "anything." You think he claified, I think he stuck his foot in his mouth and back tracked. Whatever.

    The point is:

    1) Some things can be PB.

    2) GP is a thing.

    3) Therefore GP can be PB.

    Does that follow?

    So, take away the universality of his cliam, how does he get to his conclusion. It surely couldn't be:

    1. Belief in God is PB

    2. Therefore belief in GP must be PB.

    Now, if *any* belief could be PB, then GP could be PB. So, sorry I assumed he was trying to be logical in his thinking.

    Furthermore, I responded to his claim by saying: "Plantinga doesn't think that any belief can be PB." That was my first response.

    Did TS, again, perfect opportunity to vindicate Chad, say, "Oh, I didn't mean that."? No, he gave an argument why he thought he was justified in saying ANYTHING.

    Get it, Chad???

    I didn't "jump in" and make arguments, I contradicted him. AT THIS POINT, TS should and could have said that he didn't think Plantinga meant *any.* We then could have had a fruitful discussion of why he thought GP could be PB. But, that's not what happened. TS tried to defend his original "any" claim. i then rebutted it. He saw he was trapped and then back pedaled.

    I have been emailed by atheists even saying how ridiculous TS made himself look. Virtually everyone has seen the clear things I have seen. Are you TS? Still trying to defend yourself? I mean, we can do this dance too. If what you say is true, then TS should have clarified himself in response to my denial that Plantinga meant anything! He shouldn't have tried to defend his original claim!!!

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  32. Chadstone,

    Notice what a commentor above said:

    "Unfortunately all I've seen him do is simply equivocate, over-qualify and imply that Paul totally misunderstood John L's comment. Any one can see that Paul's initial argument has not changed, though TS has danced his way around this one."

    Why do you think he said that? Are we all blinded? It's obvious not as clear as you think it is. To decifer what happned we must reconstruct the case and subject the claims to analysis. I have done my part, I'll await the opposition to write their own analysis. Until then, you're just offering assertions which have been refuted.

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  33. So on you spin, Paul, trying to convince us that you've proven via syllogism TS's own mental states. That's just nuts.

    And, sadly, all this time you could have been saying something substantive about epistemology, versus indulging this personal vendetta of yours.

    I don't think you're being dishonest. I really think you've actually managed to convince yourself that this (trying to prove you've magaged to get inside TS's head) is actually something worth writing tomes about. And frankly that's the most dumbfounding thing about all of this.

    Even *if* TS were a liar, everyone subjected to this exchange would still be worse off for having engaged.

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  34. So on you keep asserting Chadstone, trying to convince yourself that an assertion magically absolves you from having to do the tough job of reading my arguments and interacting with them.

    I spin, TS is honest? Right. But when I say TS spins I'm told to take his word for things.

    Well, my word is that I'm not trying to spin, I cannot be epistemically responsible by agreeing with your or your spin. My arguments are to powerful for me to conceed the opposite of my conclusion. but you don't take my word for it and say that I *really* just want to misrepresent TS to "extract a pound of flesh." The irony is too much!

    I have said things substantive about epistemology, namely, why you shouldn't be an evidentialist of the Loftusian and T-stonian variety. I've touched on many other topics as well. If TS had wanted to ask me more specific questions I'd have been glad to branch out. But I don't see why I'm at fault for not giving a positive lesson on epistemology when that wasn't the purpose of the post. Posts have a purpose, ya know? This was to refute the apostate T-stone. To undermine his "attacks" on T-blog. Notice how he ignores and doesn't want to touch with a ten foot pole my latest series of questions about his "evidence" for Christianity. he/you see where it's going.

    Lastly, you make comments about how every one is worse off for having engaged in the debate. But (a) no one else seems to agree with you, and *you* have engaged in the debate. So, you made yourself worse off, good job.

    You apparently thought this was worth while to comment ad nauseum about. You seriously convinced yourself that T-stone's mere say-so could square with the obvious inconsistencies in his posts. I'm not saying you're dishonest, you've just convinced yourself, uncritically, that you're right and that this is a hill worth dying on. Tell you what, next time you think a topic is stupid, or makes people worse off for engaging in it, don't make a comment... let alone myriad ones.

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