Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My reply to P.Z.Myers: atheism is a small cup.

Stirring up the Pharyngula crowd is like suddenly opening the door on Tourette's clinic keg party. Fun, but not for tender ears. Luckily I don't have tender ears.

Myers replied to my observation that Darwin's theory reduces ultimately to 'stuff changes and survivors survive'-- which can be stated more rigorously, but less succinctly-- 'organisms heritably vary and relatively successful reproducers relatively successfully reproduce.'

Darwin's assertion that adaptation is the consequence of random variation and natural selection is banal (random variation) and tautological (natural selection). Stuff changes and survivors survive isn't much of a theory.

When challenged, Darwinists defend this witless 'theory' as if you had just taken a axe to their mother. Why?

Atheists are not a notably pacifist crowd, and when you mess with their creation myth, they try to make you pay. Take a look at the comments on my post questioning my professional competence, my sanity, my  honesty, you name it. Of course, I'm relatively immune from these nasties, but imagine if you're a young student, or a new post-doc, or a researcher trying to get established, and you have 'a few questions about Darwin's theory'. If you don't genuflect, you're toast, professionally.

So, on to Myers' reply.


First of all, it is a significant advance to recognize that species are not fixed and do change over time. There was a time when this hypothesis was flatly rejected, and it's a sign of progress that even the creationists nowadays are forced to recognize evidence of patterns of change in species — they just usually try to impose artificial, unsupported claims of barriers that limit change. This is the fact of evolution: life has changed significantly over long ages, and we are all related to all other forms on earth.
So Darwin taught us that species are not fixed and do change over time.


Darwin did not come up with that, though.
Oh. Yea, that's right. Animal breeding had been going since the dawn of man, and it's fairly obvious even to hunter-gatherers that changes in environment (e.g. predators) could change a population.

Darwin's contribution was an explanation for how that change occurred through differential reproductive success of variants in populations.

 "Differential reproductive success of variants in populations", which means precisely that "relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate". Colloquially, 'survivors survive'.

Myers invokes an obvious tautology.

Again, Myers:

Darwin's contribution was an explanation for how that change occurred through differential reproductive success of variants in populations.
Then he asserts that my simple observation of this explanation tautology is a "fallacious reduction":

Egnor has distorted that principle through a fallacious reduction to "survivors survive".
There's nothing fallacious at all about the reduction. 'Survivors survive' is just a colloquial way of saying "relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate", which is a precise restatement of Myers' "Differential reproductive success of variants in populations".

It's a tautology.

Myers avers:

That is not what scientists study. We do not go to a field area for a few years, notice that each generation of birds is the progeny of the living individuals of the previous generation, and declare victory; that would be a tautology. (The alternative, that the birds were spawned by the dead zombie corpses of the failed members of the previous generation, would be rather interesting though. Hasn't happened yet.)
Indeed evolutionary scientists don't do that. Scientists study adaptations, often in considerable detail, and then declare that the adaptations evolved in accordance with Darwin's theory.


Scientists study adaptations, often in considerable detail...


... and then declare that the adaptations evolved in accordance with Darwin's theory ('relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate').

Darwin's theory is a narrative gloss. The real science is the study of the adaptations.

Darwin's theory does no conceptual work. No lifting.

Let's fix Egnor's erroneous reduction. "living things vary heritably and survivors survive" doesn't reduce to l"survivors survive". More accurately, it should be "living things vary heritably and better adapted variants survive and increase their frequency in the next generation".
Myers' "better adapted variants" are defined as those who "survive and increase their frequency in the next generation". What else could "better adapted variants" possibly mean? Variants that were... greener? Variants that were... silkier? Variants that were... fluffier?

The functional definition of species adaptation is 'survival in the environment'. There is no other consistent testable meaningful definition of 'adapted'. And of course survival is a prerequisite for relative reproductive success, and more or less correlates with it.

Survival at the species level means relative reproductive success at the individual level. Species survive because individuals reproduce successfully. 'Successful replicators successfully replicate' is natural selection at the individual level. 'Survivors survive' is natural selection at species level.

'Survivors survive' is a perfectly accurate synopsis of natural selection at the species level.

It's a tautology.


That is not a tautology. We can assess degrees of adaptation to local conditions independently of simple survival.

That's the best Myers can do? Play on the difference between survival and relative reproductive success? 'Individuals replicate' and 'species survive' mean the same thing, on different levels. Replication of individuals is how species survive.

Myers is pitiful.

Myers provides a real-life example of the 'power' of Darwin's theory:
For example, look to the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant in the Galapagos (hey, look, we even have online exercises in which you can analyze the data!).
'Online evolutionary exercises': 'Ok class, one, two, three, four... keep those tautologies up... no slacking...!'
They examined, for instance, the effects of a major drought on their study island; they did not simply say, "some birds will die, some will live, survivors will survive", but instead made specific predictions that variants that were better able to exploit difficult or marginal resources in this time of starvation would be better able to survive. And that is what they saw: larger beaked birds that were able to crack the spiny, hard-shelled Tribulus seeds were better able to live through the drought, while the smaller beaked birds that couldn't eat Tribulus seeds at all died off in large numbers. And in the next generation, what they saw was a genetic and morphological shift in that beaks were on average significantly larger.
Let's focus on the woo:

they did not simply say, "some birds will die, some will live, survivors will survive"...

No no no... make sure you're seated...

...but instead made specific predictions that variants that were better able to exploit difficult or marginal resources in this time of starvation would be better able to survive.
Translated from 'evolution talk' to English, this means:

...but instead made specific predictions that variants that were better able to exploit difficult or marginal resources get food in this time of starvation would be better able to survive.
My head hurts.

"Survivors survive" may be tautological, but "large beaked birds survive" is not.
Damn right. No tautology there. The Grants made specific predictions that birds who were better able to get food in a time of starvation would... be better able to survive. This I guess was in conflict with the research teams who predicted that birds who were better able to get food in a time of starvation would... be less able to survive. Evolutionary biology is contentious.

Neither Coulter nor Egnor seem to have the slightest clue about what evolutionary biologists actually do...
I do now. It's not pretty. How much did we pay for this?

...and their proud ignorance invalidates what they claim to understand as the subject of study in evolution. Every study of evolution is built around specific hypotheses about mechanisms, not dumb blind counts of nothing but the living and the dead, but measures of differential reproductive success against some detailed parameter of their genetics.
Darwin's theory: 'Organisms heritably vary and relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate'.

All those terms Egnor cluelessly throws around — "natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, group selection, reciprocal altruism, disruptive selection, diversifying selection, selective sweeps, background selection, adaptive radiation, punctuated equilibrium" — have specific, different meanings, and do not reduce to merely "survival".
Different shades of lipstick.
As expected, the outcome of the first Coulter Challenge is that one fool, Coulter, is multiplied into two publicly exposed fools, Coulter and Egnor. I like this game, let's play some more. Next?
I like this game, too. Let's keep playing.

A while back, I asked Myers (and other atheists) eight important questions-- about existence, laws of nature, moral law, etc. Myers' answers were pitiful. The sort of answers that atheists have no choice but to give.

Yet Darwin's theory animates atheists. It replaces 'shit happened' with 'organisms heritably vary and relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate'. Much of evolutionary theory is dedicated to hiding this banality and tautology under shovelfulls of science jargon.

Meanwhile, the real work of biology-- biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, cell biology, microbiology, physiology, etc. goes on. Biologists learn early that they must pay homage to atheism's stupid creation myth if they are to continue their work and remain in the profession. Atheists are the gate-keepers.

Richard Dawkins asserts that Darwin's theory allows one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. As an example of the deep scientific insight provided by Darwin's theory, Myers notes that more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate, and that birds that are better able to get food during famine are better able to survive.

Myers is an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

Atheism is a small cup.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"And no, atheism has no political or economic structures in the world"

  Commentor bachfiend:

And no, atheism has no political or economic structures in the world. Organizing atheists is like trying to herd cats.

Ohhh... how to respond?

"And no, atheism has no political or economic structures in the world." 

Hmmm... :

"Organizing atheists is like trying to herd cats."

Aside from their aversion to state power and herding, atheists are also inveterate collectors:

Monday, August 29, 2011

In which I take up P.Z. Myers' challenge on Ann Coulter and Evolution

Traffic must be slow on Pharyngula-- perhaps the latest generation of psych meds have finally calmed the Pharyngula hordes. So P.Z. Myers reissues his challenge from years ago:

Ann Coulter is a horrible, ignorant person who once wrote a whole book accusing liberals of being Godless, as if that were an insult, and advancing arguments against evolution that made the standard noisy creationist look like a veritable scholar. I looked at her arguments, and I made a public challenge back in 2006 for any defenders to pick one paragraph from the book and we'd discuss it in detail — there have been no takers, not one person willing to stand up and support in detail any claim she had made.
Well, nobody insults Ann Coulter without a reply from me. I love Ann Coulter (Platonically, of course). Love, love, love. She's basically right about everything, and the only thing I don't like about her books and T.V. appearances is that when she attacks atheists/Darwinists/liberals she's so clever that my sides ache from laughing. I still can't look at a picture of John Edwards without thinking of her name for him: 'Silky Pony'.

I have all of Coulter's books, paper and electronic (so I can always have her insights close). Coulter has more wisdom in one of her neurons than P.Z. Myers and his Pharyngula inmates have collectively in their telencephalons and diencephalons (I know, I know, that implies a materialist reduction of the mind. It's a metaphor).

So, in reply to Myers' challenge, I'll pick a Godless paragraph. The first paragraph of the first chapter about evolution will do.


Liberals' creation myth is Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which is about one notch above Scientology in scientific rigor. It's a make-believe story, based on a theory that is a tautology, with no proof in the scientist's laboratory or the fossil record—and that's after 150 years of very determined looking. We wouldn't still be talking about it but for the fact that liberals think evolution disproves God.

So much wisdom. Let's break it down:

Liberals' creation myth is Charles Darwin's theory of evolution,
Coulter is imprecise, but, hey, artistic license. Atheists' creation myth is Darwin's theory. Until the 1860's, it was hard to call yourself an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Atheism is such logical nonsense that no intelligent person believed it. 'Shit happened' is terrible metaphysics.

Most atheist wannabes were deists or some such-- 'God made the world, and then he didn't care, so shit happened'. Biology was particularly hard to explain, because life had such obvious teleology that even atheists had to admit it. 'Atoms and the void' doesn't get you to physiology, anywhere outside of a padded room.

Then the miracle happened. Charles Darwin banished 'shit happened' and with a master-stroke, and atheism of the intellectually fulfilled sort was born (or evolved or something). Darwin replaced 'shit happened' with 'stuff changes and survivors survive'. The best idea anyone ever had.

Within seconds (in geological time), atheists were proclaiming the theory proved. Huxley trounced Wilberforce (although nobody who was at the debate remembered it as a trouncing, but...), Galton invented eugenics, Haeckel faked his embryos, Dawson glued Piltdown man, and Darwinism was off and running.

The most difficult theoretical hurtle Darwinism has had to face is not, as some have asserted, the problem  of building the New Synthesis from Mendelian genetics and Darwin's (Lamarckian) theory. The most difficult theoretical hurtle Darwinists faced is disguising 'stuff changes and survivors survive' so that its utter banality isn't obvious. Neologisms don't just happen by themselves (unlike life). They need to be created. So Darwinists gave us natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, group selection, reciprocal altruism, disruptive selection, diversifying selection, selective sweeps, background selection, adaptive radiation, punctuated equilibrium. All Darwinian 'selections' reduce to: 'living things vary heritably and survivors survive'. Of course, 'survivors survive' is more precisely: 'relatively more effective replicators relatively more effectively replicate', but succinctness is a virtue. The great challenge for Darwinian theorists since the 1860's has been to make Darwin's banality/tautology (stuff changes and survivors survive) seem like a scientific theory. Slather on the lipstick. You gotta dress up the banality (and the contradictions) with science-sounding stuff.

The most important textbook for Darwinism has always been a thesaurus.

Thanks to Darwin's theory miracle, there is now a whole coven of intellectually fulfilled atheists. Life evolved by natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, group selection, reciprocal altruism, disruptive selection, diversifying selection, selective sweeps, background selection, adaptive radiation, punctuated equilibrium. Stuff changed and survivors survived.

'Shit happened' was relegated to... atheist cosmologists.

...which is about one notch above Scientology in scientific rigor.

Coulter is imprudent here. The Church of Scientology is litigious, and ranking it below Darwinism could incite a lawsuit.  Careful, Ann. Scientologists have feelings, even after a good dianetic auditing and a Clear State. Being called 'dumber than Darwinism' hurts.

But let's take look at the respective scientific rigor of Scientology and Darwinism.

Scientology is testable.

Scientists could find Xenu, or thetan spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, or hydrogen bomb residue in volcanoes. No Xenu, no scientologic cosmology. No DC-8's with anti-matter propulsion in the precambrian, no scientologic taxonomy. No thermonuclear fallout in volcanoes, no scientologic anthropology. A testable hypothesis.

Darwinism is hard to test.

What exactly could scientists find to disprove 'stuff changes and survivors survive'? Could you find 'stuff that didn't change' or 'survivors that didn't survive'? Not likely.

That's what Darwinists really mean when they say "Darwin's theory is a fact". It's so damn banal that it couldn't not be true. And it proves atheism, which, coincidently, is the religion conclusion of nearly all evolutionary biologists!

Scientologists are moderately obnoxious.

Scientologists sue people who make fun of their religion.

 Darwinists are severely obnoxious. 

Darwinists sue people who ask questions about their religion.

Scientologists don't use public funds to push their religion. 

They get a tax exemption, but that's just keeping their sucker converts' money.

Darwinists take tens of millions of dollars in expropriated Christian taxpayer's money to do research that concludes that the religious views of expropriated Christian taxpayers are evolved delusions.

Oddly, atheists never publish research demonstrating the delusional evolutionary origins of... atheism. Hmmm...

Scientology is honest about its status as a religion.

Registered. Official.

Darwinism denies the obvious fact that it is a religion, instead asserting that it is 'science', although it's less testable than Scientology.

Ironically, late 20th century Darwinists are so obsessed with their faux-science-religion that they would have called themselves 'scientologists', if the name wasn't already taken.

It's a make-believe story,
Darwin's theory is a bit more than banality and tautology. It's just-so stories, predicated on banality and tautology. Think of a trait, make up a story about how it might have helped a survivor survive, and voila, you gotta breakthrough. Front page, Evolution. The toughest part is writing the press release. Best part is that the fundie taxpayers pay you to do this!

Of course for a scientist, a moment's reflection (a moment too long if you want your job) reveals that nothing in the actual evidence excludes intelligent agency. Intelligently designed stuff 'changes and survives', too. Banality and tautology works for anything. So atheists, thesauruses in hand, work feverishly to conceal the fact that every bit of evolutionary data is at least as consistent with theism as it is with atheism. Shhhh....
based on a theory that is a tautology,
'Survivors survive', 'reproducers reproduce', 'more effective reproducers more effectively reproduce'. Natural selection. Kin selection. Punctuated equilibrium. You know the drill. Keep the thesaurus handy.
with no proof in the scientist's laboratory or the fossil record 
Evolutionary biology-- the actual non-ideological study of the fossil record-- reveals that organisms have changed over time. The data are clear.

Darwinism-- the ideological study of the fossil record-- asserts that evolutionary change is non-teleological. The data are non-existent.
—and that's after 150 years of very determined looking.
Every week, in the press, Darwin's theory is finally... proven, even though it's 'already a fact...' The federal judge said so.

We wouldn't still be talking about it but for the fact that liberals think evolution disproves God.
Evolutionary biology, which is a field of science within which Darwinism is a theory, is obviously real science and has contributed substantially to our knowledge of life. The cataloging of fossils and species, the study of changes in anatomy and function, the study of changes in living populations, are all genuine and important scientific endeavors. These tasks have long been a part of biology.

Evolutionary biology was infested by atheists in the mid-19th century. What had been rational non-ideological science became a desperate program to intellectually fill the godless' empty intellects, and Darwin's theory provided the gruel. Thin gruel, but gruel. For atheism Darwin's theory was the best idea anyone ever had.

Until Darwin, atheists had 'shit happened'. After Darwin, atheists had 'stuff changed and survivors survived'. A new dawn.

A new dawn for atheism, but not for science. Real scientific theories propose extraordinarily specific descriptions of nature, usually expressed mathematically. The best theories propose natural laws that are logically unlikely, but empirically true.

Newton's theory of gravitation specifies an inverse square law with a precise constant of proportionality. Newtonian mechanics required the invention of calculus. Einstein's general relativity specifies 20 tensor equations that are so difficult that Einstein needed help to specify them. Quantum mechanics involves matrix equations and complex differential equations. String theory has required novel mathematical research to describe it.

'Temperature changes and heat is hot' isn't a scientific theory.

'Light changes and brightness is bright' isn't a scientific theory.

'Stuff changes and survivors survive' isn't a scientific theory.

Darwinism is a ruse for a metaphysical assertion-- "There is no God". Darwinists say it's proven. A fact in fact. The ruse 'theory' is little more than a tautology, so how could it not be true?

But it intellectually fulfills atheists, up to the brim (it's a small cup), and lives on in science classes and biology departments.

Your kids are forced to learn it, and you pay for it. And if you have questions about the theory, atheists will... see you in court.

OK P.Z., the ball's in your court (figurative, I mean).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"... nothingness spawned a tiny nugget of inflation..."

Atheist metaphysics is a hoot.

Commentor Anonymous:
Even if you accept the argument that our reality is the result of an unmoved mover (and I don’t), you are left to ponder what sort of principle compels the existence of this “god”.
Logic is the 'principle that compels the existence of God'.

Our existence argues strongly that a state of nothingness does not exist due to the fact that it could always be described or defined in relationship to our existence.
I thought Derrida was dead. Atheism is gibberish, and accords with deconstructionism nicely. What atheism deconstructs is logic and reason.

I don’t see any reason why this apparent natural abhorrence of nothingness must necessarily lead to the existence of the Aquinas unmoved mover any more than it would lead to the existence of any other imaginable cosmology.

The reason the Prime Mover's existence is demonstrable is that an essentially ordered causal series of elevations of potency to act cannot go on to infinite regress. It is a logically rigorous way of demonstrating the truth of the view of most people that there has to be a cause of everything. They're right, and Aquinas shows why.
I find it more probable, and thus easier to believe, that nothingness spawned a tiny nugget of inflation field rather than omnipotent and omniscient god.
Logic 101: Nothingness is no-thing, so it has no agency. It can't do anything because it doesn't exist. It can't create 'inflation fields', or unicorns, or pineapples. Nothing can't spawn anything, because its nothing.

If one asserts that logic doesn't count, and that we can simply assert that nothingness can do things, then we deny the principle of sufficient reason, which asserts that things have reasons for their existence.

If nothing can 'spawn' stuff, why not apply the 'nothingness spawns' principle to origin of species? Why bother with evolution, if you can just assert that trilobites and dinosaurs and monkeys were 'nothing's spawn'? If the whole damn universe is spawned by nothing, why not assert that everything in it is spawned by nothing. Poof here, magic there, no need for science. Sh*t just happens. Applied atheist metaphysics.

It is surely parsimonious, and spares us all of this federal funding for science.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Archbishop Chaput notes "ferocious public smears and legal threats" against Christians

CNS on Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput's speech at Catholic World Youth Day in Madrid:

Archbishop: New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC Not ‘Trustworthy’ on Religion
Friday, August 19, 2011 
By Michael W. Chapman
( – The news outlets CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and MSNBC do not “provide trustworthy information about religious faith,” said Philadelphia’s incoming Archbishop, Charles Chaput, at the Catholic World Youth Day ongoing this week in Madrid, Spain.

Chaput, the former Archbishop of Denver, made his remarks in an address on religious freedom to a group of more than 10,000 young pilgrims in Madrid on Wednesday. As initially reported in First Things, Chaput told the audience that, “In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only against Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers.”

“And with relatively few exceptions,” he said, “the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.”
"...ignorance, laziness, and bias..." The Archbishop left out raw hate. He understates the anti-Christian malice of the media.
The Archbishop continued: “We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith -- and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices.”

“These are secular operations focused on making a profit,” he said. “They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”
Christianity has always been a bulwark against secular power. The mainstream media today identifies itself with that power, and hates the Church with remarkable passion.
Archbishop Chaput noted that the media gave a lot of coverage to the so-called “Arab Spring,” involving civil unrest in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. “But very little of that coverage has mentioned that the turmoil in Muslim countries has also created a very dangerous situation for Christians and other religious minorities across North Africa and the Middle East,” he said. “In Egypt, angry mobs have attacked Christian churches and monasteries, burning them to the ground and murdering the people inside.”
The media silence on the attacks on Christians in dar-al-Islam has been deafening.

In addition, he said there has been widespread anti-Christian violence in Iraq, Syria, and Tunisia, but little news coverage of this in the U.S. media, adding that it is illegal to wear a crucifix or own a Bible in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, said the Archbishop, in Pakistan, “Christians face frequent discrimination, slander, beatings and even murder.”
For the media, anti-Christian bigotry doesn't count as bigotry. There is an incessant bleating about anti-Muslim discrimination in the U.S., but virtual silence about the pervasive and violent anti-Christian (and anti-Semitic)  policies in Muslim countries.
Archbishop Chaput also warned that it is dangerous for democracy to force religion out of the public square.
“Forcing religious faith out of a nation’s public square and out of a country’s public debates does not serve democracy,” said the Archbishop. “It doesn’t serve real tolerance or pluralism. What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation’s civic life, we’re really just enforcing a new kind of state-sponsored intolerance -- a religion without God.”
Atheists worship state power, and a prerequisite for the rise of state power is the destruction of the Church. Atheists invariably devolve into totalitarians when atheism becomes the ruling ideology. History demonstrates-- from the French Revolution to the Bolsheviks to Mao to Pol Pot to Kim Jung Il-- there are no exceptions.

Friday, August 26, 2011

At World Youth Day in Madrid, atheism flashes its cloaca.

Atheists were showing a little of their legendary 'godless love' at the Catholic World Youth Day in Madrid.

Torching Catholic banners:

Heckling Christian kids:

Mocking and spitting on kids who were praying the Rosary:

This from a young Christian girl at the celebration:

We had been wandering Madrid all day, chillin
The boys were wearing their kilts so we got stopped for photos many times
One guy who stopped us said there was an anti Catholic protest in Sol so we went to check it out
There was this HUGE crowd of people so Seamus & Louise didn´t want to come check it out with us, they sat at a corner
We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful
So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.
A gay couple came and made out in front of us but whatever
Anyway, Dominic made us stand up because he felt threatened so we finished our Rosary standing but on the last decade, a fight broke out right next to us between the Catholics who had been standing behind us and and the protesters so some of the other Catholics lead us out of the crowd.
We went back and dropped our bags with Louise and this time Mim stayed back so it was just Me & Dominic & Greg & Billy who went back and prayed a second rosary on the side of the crowd and we got more of the same, people getting up in our faces screaming
We were met with a couple more of Juventutem but they left after we finished our second Rosary before one had an emotional breakdown.
Everyone left but the group I just mentioned above and we chanted BENEDICTO, BENEDICTO and VIVA PAPA and waved our Papal flag and so on up against the police line
Lots of people yelled at us still
Then, the police line broke and they charged at us and we had to run for our lives a little more urgently than after our Rosary
Then the riot police came out and beat the ___ out of the protesters
At least one guy lost a WYD pilgrim from his group in the crowd and a lot of medics showed up… A lot of people got lost & hurt
The cops wouldnt let us take the metro there so we went off to find a pub
That´s BASICALLY what happened

Father John Zuhlsdorf notes on his blog:

Expect more of this in the future, dear readers.

This is the cloaca secularism and even the liberal Catholic agenda brings us, allied as it is with secularism, because it undermines Christian values and therefore respect for human freedom and dignity.

Start think about this sort of thing every day.

Start getting used to the idea.

There is a strong thread of totalitarianism and hate that runs through atheism. Ultimately, it is hatred of God and of man. As atheism recoups from it's political downfall in Communism, it is reasserting itself in Western democracies in its characteristically malevolent way.

We need to recognize it, call it out, and defy it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Determinism and free will

I have a strong interest in the question of free will. The philosophical issues are fascinating, and the implications for our society are enormous. The denial of the reality of free will undermines our basic freedoms and undermines our social order. Aside from the assertion that God does not exist, it's difficult to think of a more destructive assertion than 'we have no free will'.

But what precisely is the debate about free will all about? Here's my understanding of it.

There are two sets of yes-or-no propositions in the debate about free will that form the framework for the debate.

The yes or no propositions are:

Is determinism true?

Determinism is the belief that our actions are necessitated by present and past events, consistent with the laws of nature.

One can describe the determinist position with an x,y graph.  The independent variable (x) is time, and the dependent variable (y) is an option of behavior or thought. There are an infinite number of such graphs, representing the spectrum of options we have available. If determinism is true, then all graphs consist of an unbranched line.  There is only one possibility for future behavior. That option is determined by past events and the laws of nature. Our belief that we have genuine options is an illusion. Our behavior and thoughts are determined.

Indeterminism is the denial of determinism. Indeterminism is the belief that our actions are not necessitated by present and past events, nor by the laws of nature. We have genuine choices, and could have chosen to do other than that which we do.

One can also describe the libertarian position with an x,y graph.  As with determinism, the independent variable (x) is time, and the dependent variable (y) is an option of behavior or thought. There are an infinite number of such graphs, representing the spectrum of options we have available. If indeterminism is true, then all graphs consist of branched lines.  There is more than one possibility for future behavior, and we choose it. That option is not determined by past events and the laws of nature. Our belief that we have genuine options is not an illusion. Our behavior and thoughts are our choice, in some real way.

Of course, indeterminists don't believe that our choices are utterly without influences from the natural world. Any number of natural conditions influence our choices, obviously. We tend to choose differently when we are drunk than when we are sober, etc. But, at a fundamental level. at least some of our choices  are genuine choices. We could have done otherwise, but chose not to.

The second yes-or no proposition is:

Is free will compatible with determinism?

Compatibilism is the belief that both determinism and free will are compatible. All of our acts and thoughts could be determined by past and present events and by the laws of nature, but we could genuinely claim that out acts and thoughts are free to some extent.  Note that compatibilism does not imply anything about the truth of determinism or free will. It merely states that they are compatible in a logical sense.

Incompatibilism is the  belief that both determinism and free will are not compatible. All of our acts and thoughts could be determined by past and present events and by the laws of nature, but then we could not genuinely claim that out acts and thoughts are free to some extent. Note that incompatibilism does not imply anything about the truth of determinism or free will. It merely states that they are incompatible in a logical sense.

As you might imagine, the questions that arise from this issue are protean. I'll post on some of the more interesting ones.  But I raise two questions now:

If hard determinism is true, then can we trust the opinion 'hard determinism is true' to be true? After all, we came to that belief without choice, enslaved to the past and to physics. Why would we credit physics with the capacity to ascertain metaphysical truth?

The other question is this:

If hard determinism is true, why try?  Why do anything? If the future is set according to the past and the laws of nature, then what will be will be no matter what you do. Why make any effort at all? Why not just sit on the couch, open a beer, and let the inevitable happen?

As you might imagine, I'm a libertarian incompatibilist . I believe that free will is real, and that determinism is wrong, and that determinism is incompatible with free will.

The issue is fascinating, and very important.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Joe Biden "not second-guessing' China's forced abortions, sterilization, and femicide.

Joe Biden acknowledges his sympathy with China's one-child policy:

“But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net... Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

China's one-child policy is a crime against humanity. It is a horrendous intrusion of government into a family's private life, and has led to countless forced abortions, sterilizations, infanticides and abandonment of baby girls (ever wonder why nearly all of the Chinese kids adopted from orphanages by Americans are... girls?). There are tens of millions of girls and women 'missing' in China. Except they aren't missing. They were murdered.

House Speaker Boehner:

“I’m deeply troubled by the comments reportedly made by the Vice President yesterday regarding China’s reprehensible one-child policy, which has resulted in forced sterilizations and coerced abortions and should not be condoned by any American official. No government on Earth has the authority to place quotas on the value of innocent human life, or to treat life as an economic commodity that can be regulated and taken away on a whim by the state.”

Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, notes:

[Biden should] “mention the severe women’s rights atrocities that are committed in the name of the One Child Policy – forced abortion, involuntary sterilization and gendercide.”
“China’s One Child Policy causes more violence to women and girls than any other official policy on earth. To merely mention the economic consequences is to turn a blind eye to the terrible human suffering caused by forced abortion. Chinese women are literally dragged out of their homes, strapped to tables and forced to abort.”
“The Chinese Communist Party boasts that it has “prevented” 400 million births through the One Child Policy. That’s greater than the entire population of the United States. Most of the births “prevented” are girls. There’s an entire nation of women not living in China today because of gendercide – the sex-selective abortion of baby girls. This gendercide gives rise to human trafficking and sexual slavery, within China and from many surrounding nations,”
Biden has long been a supporter of the UN Population Fund, which has promoted the brutal population control policies for decades. Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council notes:

“UNFPA was defunded throughout the George W. Bush Administration, but funding was restored when President Obama took office. Since then, $105 million in taxpayer funds have been allocated for UNFPA despite their participation in China’s brutal policy. Cutting off funding to UNFPA will save money, but more importantly it will save lives”.
New Jersey Republican congressman and pro-life leader Chris Smith wrote Secretary of State Clinton:

“Since 1979, brothers and sisters have been illegal in China as part of the barbaric one child per couple policy. And for 30 years, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has vigorously supported, funded, defended, promoted, even celebrated these massive crimes against humanity. The uncontested facts are these: Any Chinese, Tibetan, or Uyghur mother without a birth permit is put under coercive pressure to abort – if need be, she is physically forced to do so. All unwed moms are compelled to abort. In what can only be described as a search-and-destroy mission, disabled children are aborted as part of a nationwide eugenics program.”
Of all of the manifestations of materialism and atheism in our world today, the population control movement is perhaps the most odious. It is a clear crime against humanity.

The materialist/atheist assertion that human beings are merely evolved animals without inherent transcendent dignity has consequences. In China, it is a femicide of historic magnitude.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson on our sick society

Victor Davis Hanson has a superb essay on a terrible murder and its meaning:

Snapshot of a Sick Society
We protect the evil living and dismiss the innocent dead.

Quite often a brief news story sums up the collective pathologies of postmodern American society. Here is a recent tragic news item from my local paper, followed by some commentary:

Police call slaying of Hanford woman a random act
Posted at 06:04 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, 2011

By Paula Lloyd / The Fresno Bee

A woman found slain at a Hanford car wash this week was killed randomly when a 17-year-old gang member happened to see her while taking a walk, Hanford police said Thursday.

Denise McVay was washing her car — something she did several times a week — early Tuesday morning before work.

The teen was wandering the streets after leaving a party when he saw McVay at the Royal Car Wash on Garner Avenue at about 5 a.m. and decided to kill her, police said.

The teen “simply wanted to kill somebody that night” and McVay, 49, was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Capt. Parker Sever said. “It was a purely random act.”

The teen stabbed McVay several times and slit her throat.

The teen took McVay’s money and her car, Sever said, and drove to the home of a fellow gang member, Mauricio Ortiz, 18, of Hanford. Sever said the teen was covered with blood and told Ortiz what he had done.

Ortiz helped him ditch the car at Tachi Palace Casino and went with him to Visalia Mall, where the teen used McVay’s money to buy clean clothes, Sever said.

The teen, whose name was not released because of his age, was booked into the Kings County Juvenile Center on suspicion of murder. Ortiz was booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact.

Hanson notes:

In our present society, an able-bodied young man of 17 has leisure to walk about at 5 a.m. after a night of partying, while a hard-working woman squeezes in such an early morning moment to wash her car in order to appear presentable at work.

Note, furthermore, that our society has no compunction about letting the world know the identity of Ms. Denise McVay, who was horribly murdered and left dead on the pavement of a car wash. But it is worried that we might learn the name of the “17-year-old gang member,” also known as an anonymous “teen.” Yet why are we, as a society, more sensitive to disclosing the identity of a gang-member and suspected killer than of a slain productive worker?

In the transition from a shame culture to a guilt culture, America has become a confused society that values the sensitivities of the felonious living far more than respect for the law-abiding dead...

I have no doubt that in the next two years a good deal of society’s capital will be invested in this unidentified youth and his named accomplice. Preliminary hearings, state-paid public defenders, an array of psychiatrists, and periodic proclamations from the defense team about particular childhood traumas suffered by the killer — all to be followed by years of legal counsel, further psychological examinations and treatment, and of course, if there is a conviction, nearly $40,000 a year in incarceration expenses — as our fast-paced society races onward and upward, without much thought of one productive citizen, Denise McVay, washing her car in the early morning on her way to work. None of us are exempt from such terrible arithmetic, and we now must live with the realization that tomorrow morning any one of us could be written off as either unlucky or unwise in our demise, while the rights of our killer would be obsessed over.

You see, it is characteristic of a morally bankrupt society to be absorbed with the evil living without much remembrance of the more noble dead. The former gang member and his family by all means must not be embarrassed; the dead woman is reduced to being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”Enough said.

I'm not going to invoke the Christianity/atheism debate here except for this point: civilized society is based on personal and cultural morality, and cannot be maintained effectively merely by law. Strict laws and locking up criminals can help-- witness the dramatic reduction in crime rates in the 90's when we took a stronger law-and-order approach compared with the idiot liberal 'rehabilitation' approach to violent crime of the 60's and 70's.

But a free society can only be a safe civilized society if there is a bedrock of moral values at the most basic level-- the individual and the family-- that transcends statutory law. There is little doubt that this teen killer had minimal formative instruction and examples of basic morality from his family, or his school, or anywhere. How much do you wanna bet that he grew up without a father in a family in which no one worked and support came from government checks?

The rate of family disintegration in our society is catastrophic, and accounts for a very large fraction of our crime and misery. The fading of a widespread conviction that morality is objective, rather than a matter of personal opinion, adds greatly to the breakdown. Christians have been fighting these plagues for a long time, because they know that integrity of the family and respect for objective morality is the cornerstone of civilization.

We are losing our sense of sin. If anything, nowadays our only sin seems to be... to believe in the reality of sin. It's almost diabolical.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aquinas' First Way

I've discussed the cosmological arguments a bit before on this blog, and I've noted a very interesting exchange between Catholic philosopher Ed Feser and Darwinist mathematician Jason Rosenhouse. There is probably more confusion, misdirection, and outright deception about the cosmological arguments for God's existence than any other aspect of the Christian/atheist debate.

First, some basics. There are a number of logical arguments for God's existence. The 'big five' are:

1) The  cosmological arguments (in 3 varieties-- Prime Mover, First Cause, and Necessary Existence)
2) The argument from perfection (Aquinas' Fourth Way)
3) The argument from teleology (Aquinas' Fifth Way, sometimes called The Argument from Design)
4) The ontological argument
5) The argument from Moral Law

The arguments above take many forms, some more rigorous than others, and some of the arguments share structure and may even dovetail. Many philosophers have noted that the ontological argument has substantial commonality with the cosmological arguments, although it does not appear to be so at first glance.

I believe that all of the arguments are valid. 1-3 above are Aquinas' Five Ways. I believe that Aquinas' versions of the cosmological arguments are the most rigorous.

I believe that the cosmological argument, especially in the form of the Prime Mover argument (Aquinas' First Way), is irrefutable.

The cosmological arguments share a structure. They are based on the impossibility of an infinite regress of essentially ordered causes. I'll explain what that means.

It is important to understand that these arguments as formulated by Aquinas are highly structured deductive arguments that proceed from quite specific premises and reach deductive conclusions. Most popular versions of these arguments, even by professional philosophers, misrepresent them, and nearly all atheist 'refutations' of the arguments are aimed at a bastardization of the arguments and have no validity whatsoever. Once you understand the argument, you see that the atheist 'refutations' are nonsense.

The actual arguments are tightly reasoned, and have not been refuted.

Aquinas' First Way

Aquinas' First Way, called the argument from motion, is based on Aristotle's Prime Mover argument, and follows it in all important details.

Its premises are:

1) The universe is eternal in the past.

Now of course Aquinas did not believe that the universe was eternal in the past. He believed that it had a moment of creation. But he did not believe that it could be logically demonstrated that the universe had a finite past, so he assumed that the past was infinite.

Aquinas had the remarkable habit of prefacing his arguments with assumptions that would make it maximally difficult for the proof to succeed. And then he made it succeed.

Notice that the assumption of an eternal past means that the First Way has nothing-- n-o-t-h-i-n-g-- to do with the Big Bang. If you are reading a critique (or defense) of the cosmological argument, and the interlocutor mentions 'Big Bang', stop reading and go on to someone who understands the argument.

People who invoke the Big Bang to refute or defend the cosmological arguments don't understand the arguments at a very basic level.

2) Motion means change. It does not mean translation in space. The latin word for change (motus) historically has been translated into English as 'motion'. It does not mean motion in the sense of movement in space, but in the sense of change of attributes. A green leaf turing brown is 'in motion'.

3) Change in the natural world is hylemorphic, meaning that natural change involves a transition from potency to act. These are technical terms used by scholastic philosophers, and to understand the argument, you must understand the terms:

Act: the actual thing. A crumply yellow leaf is 'in act' for yellow and for crumply. It is not 'in act' for blue, or liquidness, or for a host of other attributes it does not have.

Potency: an attribute that a thing does not have, but could have, under the right circumstances. A green leaf is in potency for yellowness. It is not yellow (it is green), but under the right circumstances, it could be yellow (when autumn comes).

All change in nature is elevation of potency to act. Change is when a thing actually becomes something that it had the potential to become. An acorn changes to an oak tree. It had the potency to be an oak tree, and that potency was actualized.

A thing is not in potency for just anything. An acorn is not in potency to be a cougar or an ocean. And potency only refers to natural change, not man-made change.

4) Cause is by priority, not by time.

Causation in the First Way refers to causation in the sense that something is responsible for holding another thing in existence. It does not mean that one thing necessarily started another.

An example would be a stack of books. The cause of the top book being on the top is the book below it. The cause of the book below it is the book beneath it, etc. This is what is meant by cause in priority, as distinguished from cause in time.

Now the cause of the bookstack in time is another matter : that would be the authors of the books, the printing press, the person who stacked the books, etc. Cause in time is not the cause on which the Prime Mover argument depends.

Aquinas' First Way has to do with cause in priority only, and has nothing to do with cause in time.

5) Essentially ordered causal series vs accidently ordered causal series.

Causes in priority are essentially ordered causal series. Causes in time are accidently ordered causal series (these are technical terms in scholastic philosophy).

An essential series of causes is a series in which the continued existence of all of the causes is necessary for the series to exist. Holding a hammer and hitting a nail is an essential series of causes: the nail, the hammer, my hand, my muscles, my nerves, my spinal cord, my brain must all simultaneously exist for the series to work. Cut the nerve, remove the hand, etc, and the series stops.

An accidental series is a causal series in which the continued existence of all of the causes in not necessary for the series to exist. An example is a family tree. You were 'caused' by your father, who was caused by his father, who was caused by his father, etc. But the causal series can go on even if your ancestors are dead. The continued existence of all causes in the series is not needed for the series to exist.

Aquinas' First Way refers only to essential series in nature, and not to accidental series.

This is Aquinas' First Way:

1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.

2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.

3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.

4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.

5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.

6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the causal series.

7) This Pure Act-- Prime Mover-- is what we call God.

Now Aquinas believed this argument for God's existence to be the strongest of his Five Ways. He spent hundreds of pages in Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles explicating it and showing that the Pure Act is consistent with the Christian concept of God.

You can see that the retort "so what caused God" is idiotic. What Aquinas and Aristotle demonstrated is the need for a Prime Mover at the source of all change in nature. The Prime Mover itself (Himself) must be unmoved. There cannot be infinite regress in an essentially ordered series. The "what caused God" retort is a confession of ignorance of the actual argument. The conclusion (not the premise) of the argument is that there must be an unmoved mover at the foundation of nature. Since nature is defined as 'that which changes', the unmoved mover is supernatural.

Feser's discussion in Aquinas and The Last Superstition is invaluable.  Here's another nice succinct demonstration, and here's another version of the argument by people who understand it.

I'll post soon on each of Aquinas' Five Ways.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Global warming scientists appeal to new constituency-- people who think that aliens are watching them.

Just when you thought that global warming science couldn't get more batsh*t, it does:

New Study: Aliens Could Attack to Stop Global Warming

As Allahpundit says, "It's come to this." I'm not sure what's worse, taxpayers funding a CDC warning and emergency preparedness plan for a zombie apocolyse, or this:

A team of American researchers have produced a range of scenarios in which aliens could attack the earth, and curiously, one revolves around climate change.

Global warming climate change  is the secret password. There are other secret passwords- "evolution" is one of them. It identifies you as one of the in-group in science. No matter what your paper is about, if you link your boring trivial study to climate science ("the evolutionary modulation of magnesium in dog feces is impaired by global climate change...") you've made friends and influenced people. It's like casually mentioning Justin Bieber's hair at the 7th grade girls' table in the school cafeteria.

They speculate that extraterrestrial environmentalists could be so appalled by our planet-polluting ways that they view us as a threat to the intergalactic ecosystem and decide to destroy us.
I'd be more concerned if aliens read the Global warming-aliens paper. That might be a genuine reason to stomp on us. No intelligent life here.
The thought-provoking scenario is one of many envisaged in a joint study by Penn State and the NASA Planetary Science Division, entitled "Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis."

The study is indeed thought-provoking. It has provoked thoughts such as:

1) 'Why are we paying for this sh*t?'

2) 'Why do we let crazy people publish in science journals?'

3) 'If  I see one of the authors walking toward me, should I walk, or should I run, to the other side of the street?'
It divides projected close encounters into "neutral," those that cause mankind "unintentional harm" and, more worryingly, those in which aliens do us "intentional harm."
Not bad for speculation about something for which there is not a shred of evidence. One is just as justified in publishing a paper about 'Etiquette in e-mail correspondence with Garden Fairies' or 'Negotiation strategies with the Sandworms of Dune'.
Extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) "could attack and kill us, enslave us, or potentially even eat us. ETI could attack us out of selfishness or out of a more altruistic desire to protect the galaxy from us. We might be a threat to the galaxy just as we are a threat to our home planet," it warns.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the authors' speculation is that aliens have exactly the same concerns as... a trio of lefty-green scientist assh*les. Who knew that aliens are... are... liberals. Just like climate scientists! Convergent evolution. I would add that space aliens may also express concerns about Rick Perry's exaggerated economic record in Texas. And aliens seriously hate Sarah Palin.

Perhaps the wisest strategy to protect ourselves from liberal environmentalist aliens is to encourage more batsh*t scientific papers about the global warming apocalypse. When I was in college in New York City (during the crime wave of the 1970's), some of my friends planned to act crazy if they saw someone who looked like a mugger, on the theory that even people prone to assaulting you are likely to leave you alone if they think you are crazy. We should engrave this whack-job paper on a Carl Sagan-type plaque and blast it into space. My hunch is that aliens--even lefty green kook aliens-- would leave really crazy civilizations alone. We could dodge the apocalypse by convincing an alien menace that we were all liberals.

One such scenario is the stuff of many a Hollywood blockbuster, a "standard fight-to-win conflict: a war of the worlds." But another might resonate more with fans of Al Gore's documentary film "An Inconvenient truth."
Maybe Gore can interest fans in investing in his new AAMSHF (Anti-Alien Military Defense Hedge Fund), available by formal prospectus only. He's made hundreds of millions off hawking AGW scam investments. Time to move on to other pastures.
It speculates that aliens, worried we might inflict the damage done to our own planet on others, might "seek to preemptively destroy our civilization in order to protect other civilizations from us."
 We should offer Al Gore as a sacrifice. Maybe it will placate them.
Apparently, the study was conducted with a scientist affiliated with NASA, but is not sponsored or produced by NASA itself.

NASA is involved in its own AGW scamming, but hasn't formally diversified to AGW-SETI scamming just yet.

This stuff is easy to satirize, but it is a window into science, circa 2011. The public's reaction should be straightforward:

No individual who had anything to do with this cr*p 'science' should ever again have any funding from any public source. All three authors should be fired for publishing gross pseudoscience, the journal editors should be fired and driven out of science, as should the reviewers.

If these jerks want to push their b.s. materialist-atheist-nature religion, they can do it on their own dime. Maybe they can get grants from the Church of Scientology. Scientologists could give global warming kooks personal assurances from Xenu that there will be no alien attack.

The people who push this garbage are hucksters and frauds, and taxpayers should cut them loose.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sam Harris and the bizarre implication of denying free will

Jerry Coyne quotes and comments Sam Harris on free will:
[Harris] Do we have free will? Answer: no. “The problem is free will is just a non-starter, philosophically and scientifically. Unlike many other illusions, there is no way you can describe the universe so as to make sense of this notion of free will.
You can describe the universe so as to make sense of free will. Classical philosophers did it quite nicely (Aquinas: Summa Theologica 1.83.1, Quaestiones disputatae de malo 6). The free will "problem" is largely a consequence of idiotic materialism and scientism. But Harris has such a deep buy-in to this nonsense he doesn't understand that there are quite coherent ways of understanding free will.

[Harris] Now there are many people who have artfully changed the subject and tried to get a version of free will that makes some scientific sense. [JAC: so true!] But this is not what people actually mean by free will. What people mean is that they—their conscious selves—are free to chose their actions You choose what you want; you choose what you will to do. . . they still feel that at every moment, there is freedom to choose. Now what can this mean? From the position of conscious awareness of your inner life, this can’t be true. Everything you’re consciously aware of, at every moment, is the result of causes of which you’re not aware, over which you exert no conscious control.”
Huh? "Everything you're consciously aware of.. is the result of causes of which you're not aware, over which you exert no conscious control'? Does that mean that Harris made that statement without being in conscious control? That would explain its incoherence!
[Coyne] Sam goes on to explain, in light of this notion, why we should not be nihilists; why we need to do something instead of existing passively. I am 100% on board with his answer, and am glad that he sees through those philosophers who, through redefinition, try to save “free will” by simply ignoring what nearly everybody thinks is free will. It’s time to admit—and that means telling the public—that contracausal free will doesn’t exist, and to coin a new term for those philosophical forms of “free will” that aren’t contracausal.

Gibberish. The absurdity of denying libertarian free will is evident in this observation:

The philosophical problem of free will is linked to the issue of hard determinism. Hard determinism is the view that all of our acts are completely determined by natural processes. A way to understand what this means is to imagine a Cartesian graph with the x-axis as time and the y-axis as some quantifiable variable that we "choose"- such as the number of calories in the lunch I choose to eat today, or the number of miles I choose to drive when I'm on vacation, etc.

If my "choice" occurs at time zero, and hard determinism is true, then there is one and only one possible line extending forward in time. I stress: hard determinism means that there is only one possible future. At every time x, y is determined. Every x maps to one and only one y. That's what hard determinism means.

If I have libertarian free will, then beginning at time zero there are many different possible lines extending to the right-- different possible futures-- representing different values of y (choices) at the same value of x. The graph of free choice over time looks like a horizontal bush that branches at time zero (now).

Now consider this: if hard determinism is true, and I have no libertarian free will, then there is one and only one value my 'pseudo-choice' can take at each time in the future. Therefore, no matter what I choose (or think I 'choose'), the future will be what it will be.

Therefore, why choose to go to work in the morning? My future salary (the y axis) will be the same regardless. There is only a single line.

Why choose to eat? My future health (the y axis) will be the same no matter, because it's determined and I have no libertarian free will to alter it.

Why write a blog post defending determinism? It won't affect the future in any way.

You see the point. Following the logic of hard determinism, we can't choose, so why do anything? What will be, will be.

Now of course, as you might imagine, a few materialists have spotted this catastrophe for hard determinism, and propose 'compatibilism', which is the view that determinism and free will are compatible.

The difficulty with compatibilism is obvious: if our acts are determined entirely by natural law, we cannot have free will because we have no control over natural law.

I'll post more on free will and determinism in a while. It's a fascinating question, and nicely demonstrates the idiocy of materialism/scientism.

Meanwhile, my suggestion to free-will deniers like Coyne and Harris is: just chill. Stop writing your inane blogs, stop pushing your idiotic philosophy. The future is determined, and you have no choice. Just sit back, chug a cold one, spend the day in your underwear, watch old movies. The future is determined.

Que sera sera, materialists.

Friday, August 19, 2011

'What drowned polar bears?...I don't know what you're talking about...'

The global warming hoax is unraveling at a brisk pace.

Global Warming Link to Drowned Polar Bears Melts Under Searing Fed Probe
by Audrey Hudson 


Polar bears drowning in an Alaskan sea because the ice packs are melting—it’s the iconic image of the global warming debate.

But the validity of the science behind the image—presented as an ignoble testament to our environment in peril by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth—is now part of a federal investigation that has the environmental community on edge.

Any effort to ascertain truth should have the environmental community on edge.

Special agents from the Interior Department’s inspector general's office are questioning the two government scientists about the paper they wrote on drowned polar bears, suggesting mistakes were made in the math and as to how the bears actually died, and the department is eyeing another study currently underway on bear populations.

'Mistakes in math' are so common today.

Biologist Charles Monnett, the lead scientist on the paper, was placed on administrative leave July 18. Fellow biologist Jeffrey Gleason, who also contributed to the study, is being questioned, but has not been suspended.

The disputed paper was published by the journal Polar Biology in 2006, and suggests that the “drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues.”

It galvanized the environmental movement that led to the bear’s controversial listing in 2008 as threatened, and it is now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Although the four dead bears cited in the paper were observed from 1,500 feet during flights over the Beaufort Sea, and the carcasses were never recovered or examined, Gleason told investigators it is likely the creatures drowned in a sudden windstorm that produced 30-knot winds, not for lack of an ice pack.

Amazing. One of the founding tropes of global warming hysteria was based on 4 dead bears observed from 1500 feet following a storm with 30-knot winds. It's obviously global warming.

Time to change world economics and governance!

“We never mentioned global warming in the paper,” Gleason told the investigators, according to the transcript.

Right. Why would anyone imagine that this statement:

“drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues”

had anything to do with global warming. People can be so silly.

Gleason told investigators that reaction to his and Monnett’s paper was overblown and spun out of context.

Now he says that. Why not over the past 15 years, when his paper was being constantly used as a prop for global warming hysteria?

“I think these sorts of things tend to mushroom, and the interpretation gets popularized,” Gleason said. “Something very small turns into this big snowball coming down the mountain, and that's, I think, what happened with this paper.
Gleason concedes that the study had a major impact on the controversial listing of the bear as an endangered species because of global warming.

Golly, I guess it did. 

“As a side note, talking about my former supervisor, he actually sent me an e-mail at one point saying, ‘You’re the reason polar bears got listed,’” Gleason said.

Monnett now manages $50 million in studies as part of his duties as a wildlife biologist with the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

A good man to trust with the public's money.

Investigators are also examining Monnet’s procurement of one of those research studies on polar bears conducted by Canada's University of Alberta, as well as the “disclosure of personal relationships and preparation of the scope of work,” according to a July 29 memo from the Interior Department's inspector general’s office.

In particular, investigators are asking questions about the peer review work on Monnett’s drowned polar bear paper, which was done by his wife, Lisa Rotterman, as well as Andrew Derocher, the lead researcher on the Canadian study under review by the inspector general's office.

A paper on which restructuring of world civilization was based was reviewed by the author's... wife. Peer 'Dear' review: 'Did you like the paper, dear?'

Monnett is being legally defended by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which posted the interviews the inspector general's office conducted with both scientists on its website.

PEER calls Monnett’s work “groundbreaking research,” 

The investigation is breaking ground for 'global warming science' burial.

and says the investigation is a political attempt to “impugn his observations on polar bears’ vulnerability to retreating sea ice.”

The facts are impugning the research.

“With each interview, it becomes more outrageous that government funds are being spent on this crackpot probe while paying Dr. Monnett’s salary to sit at home,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER.

How about the government funds spent on this crackpot science? We're safer paying climate scientists to sit home and shut up. It's like protection money.

“This seven-page paper, which had undergone internal peer review,

His wife.

management review

His buddies. 

and outside peer review coordinated by journal editors

Scientists who stood to gain financially from the publicity and funding generated by the research. 

, galvanized scientific and public appreciation for the profound effects that climate change may already be having in the Arctic,” PEER said in another statement in support of Monnett.

Four dead bears observed from 1500 feet "galvanized scientific and public appreciation..."

Eric Holder’s Justice Department has already declined to pursue any criminal prosecution in the probe, but the scientists still face possible administrative action for any wrongdoing, the inspector general said in the memo.

Shouldn't the Justice Department decide on a criminal probe after the conclusions of the investigation are published?

With investigators suggesting his research is collapsing, Monnett was defensive in the interview, and asked for the inspectors’ credentials to question his work or second-guess his calculations.

'As to count 2, we the Jury, find the defendant guilty of breath-taking arrogance'.

This b*astard was spending our money on cr*p science. We damn well have the right to ask how he spent it.

For example, there was some confusion as to whether it was three or four dead bears used in the calculation to determine the ratio of survival, and whether Monnett assumed that four swimming bears seen the week earlier were the same polar bears recorded as dead in the next survey.

They were dressed the same, so he figured...

The statistic in question was the percentage of bears likely to survive when swimming in a storm—Monnett estimated it to be around 25%, whereas investigators put the number at more than 57%.

Close enough for climate science, right?

“Is there a potential we made a mistake, and the peer reviewers didn’t catch it? Possibly,” Gleason said.

His wife had a headache, and missed it.

If the scientists had reported the 57% figure, investigator May said, “how people were taking this and exaggerating the results, probably may not have happened in terms of the world taking your study as attributing [the drownings to] global warming.”

Translation: 'if you hadn't fabricated the data, people might not have paid so much attention to your study'.

After nearly two hours of Monnett defending his work to investigators, Ruch from PEER asked the officials to explain what allegations are being made against Monnett.

'You're a fraud' is the allegation.

May said they are examining the “wrong numbers,” “miscalculations” and “scientific misconduct.”

But that's just what climate science is all about.

“Well, that’s not scientific misconduct anyway,” Monnett said. “If anything, it’s sloppy.”

Why is it that 'sloppy' climate science always seem to exaggerate global warming, rather than understate it? Funny that '"sloppy" only goes in one direction...

“I mean, that’s not—I mean, I mean, the level of criticism that they seem to have leveled here, scientific misconduct suggests that we did something deliberately to deceive or to change it,” Monnett said.


“I sure don’t see any indication of that in what you’re asking me about,” Monnett said.

Keep looking.

The actual survey Monnett was conducting when he observed the dead bears in 2004 was the migration of bowhead whales. Investigators questioned how he later obtained data for a table listing live and dead polar bear sightings from 1987 to 2004.

Oh, do you mean 'how he obtained data during a time he wasn't doing the research?'

“So how could you make the statement that no dead polar bears were observed” during that time period? May asked.

“Because we talked to the people that had flown the flights, and they would remember whether they had seen any dead polar bears,” Monnett said.

Climate scientists are meticulous about their control groups. 'Hey Joe, see any dead bears in the last couple of years?'

Asked whether he had any documentation to back that up, Monnett said that he did not.

Documentation? Are you kidding? This is climate science. They won an Academy Award, ya know!

“Science is about making the best case you can to test your hypothesis,” Monnett said. “You assemble your arguments and your data, you put it out there, and you see who’s going to knock it down.”

They're knocking it down now, pal.

“And surprisingly, nobody, you know, knocked this down in any way. Everybody was just kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah, four dead polar bears. Okay, that’s kind of cool,’ ” Monnett said.

Is Monnett a scientist or... or... a Valley Gurrl?

Dr. Rob Roy Ramey, a biologist who specializes in endangered species scientific issues for Wildlife Science International, Inc., reviewed Monnett’s paper as well as the inspector general's interviews for HUMAN EVENTS and said that the authors made unwarranted assumptions and large extrapolations based on a single event.

Climate science.

“They did not know if the polar bears actually drowned, they assumed that they had drowned. There were no statistical tests, just extrapolations made with no accounting for measurement error,” Ramey said.

Climate science.

“The paper gives the appearance that rigorous surveying was done for polar bears, when it was not,” Ramey said. “They were flying at 1,500 feet with the purpose of looking for bowhead whales, which are much larger and easier to spot.”

Climate science. 

Ramey also says he sees a conflict of interest for Monnett’s wife to be part of the internal peer review, and questioned the awarding of a contract to Derocher, who also participated in the peer review.

Climate science.

“That’s not impartial,” Ramey said. “It’s really important that peer review be truly independent. If they can’t be, then everyone has to state their conflict right up front.”

Climate science.

“I think it’s very illustrative of the problems with government research on endangered species, and raises the question as to whether government should be in the business of science,” Ramey said.

Excellent question. The proper role of government in science, just like the proper role of government in finance, may be to criminally prosecute scientists who lie. The 'honor code' in science is in tatters. Increasingly it is clear that science needs proctors, and federal prosecutors would fit the bill nicely.

Numerous studies contributed to the bear’s listing as a protected species, including the paper on polar bear drowning, which was cited in the Federal Register’s proposed rule.

In making the announcement May 14, 2008, to protect the bear under the Endangered Species Act, the Interior Department said the listing “is based on the best available science, which shows the loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat.”

And when are the Interior Department bureaucrats who listed the polar bear as endangered without reading or scientifically evaluating the junk science behind it going to be fired?

The Interior Department said it would modify regulatory language “to prevent abuse of this listing to erect a backdoor climate policy outside our normal system of political accountability.”

Wow. Remarkably candid.

As part of the Endangered Species Act listing, the department said work would continue with scientists to monitor polar bear populations and trends, as well as the effects of oil and gas operations in the Beaufort Sea region.

Real science required real scientists. A endangered species, is seems.

“Power, money, authority and recognition come with listings on the endangered species list,” Ramey said.

Increasingly, "power, money, authority and recognition" is becoming the only basis for government-funded science, especially in certain fields such as climate science.

Investigators conducted a second interview with Monnett on Tuesday. PEER said in a statement afterward that his “2006 peer-reviewed journal article on drowned polar bears remains the focus of the inquiry.”

Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said that the government is expected to “spend trillions of dollars to save the world from global warming on the basis of what a few scientists say.”

There's nothing wrong with basing decisions on what scientists say. Just listen carefully to what the scientists say, then do the opposite. You'll probably be right.

“There needs to be due diligence, and we need to challenge and investigate every single claim. The public expects that,” Ebell said. “But we find over and over that shoddy science has been put forward, and in some cases, dishonest and manipulated science, and they say, ‘Trust us,’ ” Ebell said.

“It’s extremely irresponsible.”

I'm astonished (and delighted) by the integrity of the folks investigating this fraud. It's the tip of the iceberg (pardon pun).

Notice the lack of outrage on the so-called 'pro-science' blogs. Where is the NAS? Where is the AAAS? They habitually back the fraudsters. This should make any real scientist furious. This fraud, aside from its intrinsic evil, is besmirching the name of science and damaging the credibility of the many scientists who are honest and competent.

Real scientists need to speak up, denounce the frauds in their midst, denounce the junk science in their midst, and demand integrity in science. 

Some fields, such as climate science, are cesspools.