Elsewhere, Yonder and Hereabouts

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “I don’t know” is an agnostic position, not an atheist one. The atheist position is that we know that there is no God.

    Many atheists try to tell us that “I don’t know” is also an atheist position, often retitled “weak atheist”. This is because they want to claim there are hundreds of millions of atheists in the world, and therefore atheism is proven correct by argument from authority.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      I won’t get into the what-is-an-atheist-what-is-an-agnostic fray, since it’s the world view that is important, not the label in my opinion.

      But speaking as one unbeliever that knows a bunch of others, this suggests a big lack of empathy:

      “This is because they want to claim there are hundreds of millions of atheists in the world, and therefore atheism is proven correct by argument from authority.”

      I have never, ever, ever head an atheist or agnostic claim they were right because “most people believed the same thing [they] did.”

      And I mean ever.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        I can’t figure out, then, why there’s such a big to-do about redefining “I don’t know” as “weak atheist” instead of “agnostic”.

        Refusing to play the game is not the same thing as picking a side.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not going to tell you why someone else decides what label to fix upon themselves, or others. I’m just saying if you think all of us unbelievers are hard at work trying to massage numbers to make us a bigger demographic than believers, you need to listen to them more closely.

          If anything, unbelievers have a bigger risk of falling into a “we’re smarter than the masses” trap.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly
            Ignored
            says:

            I said “many”, not “every”, and my evidence is exactly as anecdotal as yours. I haven’t yet seen an atheism discussion that didn’t include an extensive sidebar about “weak atheist” versus “agnostic”.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      This is because they want to claim there are hundreds of millions of atheists in the world, and therefore atheism is proven correct by argument from authority.

      Can you point to an example of someone making this argument?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      You do understand that while knowledge may be a subcategory of belief, belief is not fully encompassed by knowledge. For example, I believe that it will rain next Friday, but I don’t know that it will. It pushes the concept of “agnostic” pretty far to say that someone who doesn’t believe in a higher power, but doesn’t know if there is or isn’t one, is agnostic, since not believing in a higher power is pretty much the definition of atheism anyway.Report

    • Avatar Steve S. in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      “‘I don’t know’ is an agnostic position, not an atheist one.”

      An atheist can hold this position and still be an atheist.

      “The atheist position is that we know that there is no God.”

      False.

      “Many atheists try to tell us that “I don’t know” is also an atheist position, often retitled ‘weak atheist’.”

      Atheism is a statement about deities, agnosticism is a statement about knowledge. It is possible to be both an atheist and an agnostic. I personally don’t use the weak-strong atheist dichotomy, but you are not precisely stating what it is.

      “This is because they want to claim there are hundreds of millions of atheists in the world, and therefore atheism is proven correct by argument from authority.”

      This is known as “making things up.”Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “All too many libertarians could care less about the statism that causes the problems of income disparity, but go ballistic over the statism intended to alleviate it.”

    Everybody can use the road. Some people have jobs that require them to travel great distances, and they get a lot of economic benefit from the existence of the road. Other people don’t use the road much at all, so they don’t get as much benefit from it.

    This does not mean that building the road is “statism that causes a problem of economic disparity”.Report

  3. Avatar Mike
    Ignored
    says:

    Jillette commits the fundamental mistake all Libertarians do – of equating “force” with “bad.”

    Governmental force exists. It exists whenever society (which creates government as a way to resolve problems between people) decrees that Behavior X is verboten. It also exists whenever society, as a whole, decides that a public project is worth so much in benefit to society that all members, willing or not, who are able to provide a share of taxation should see some share of their tax money dedicated to that project.

    Insistence that programs to keep the poor from starving, or put a roof over the head of poor families, are equivalent to a street-corner mugging are so asinine as to not be worth a reply.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike
      Ignored
      says:

      I equate “force” with “bad”.

      Not because all force is bad, but because establishing formal structures that rely on force is going to lead to those who would abuse force seeking out the formal structure that will enable them to abuse force… and that’s a big possibility for worse outcomes than the use of force to prevent smaller badness.

      This isn’t to say that I think that government is an unnecessary evil. Just to say that it’s one part of the libertarian argument to which I find myself noddin’ my noggin’.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike
      Ignored
      says:

      It exists whenever society (which creates government as a way to resolve problems between people) decrees that Behavior X is verboten. It also exists whenever society, as a whole, decides that a public project is worth so much in benefit to society that all members, willing or not, who are able to provide a share of taxation should see some share of their tax money dedicated to that project.

      Like with protecting our children from the scourge of alcohol?Report

    • Avatar dL in reply to Mike
      Ignored
      says:

      It exists whenever society (which creates government as a way to resolve problems between people) decrees that Behavior X is verboten.

      “which creates government as a way to resolve problems between people”==fairytale

      “society decrees”==collectivist claptrap.Report

  4. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    When there are 51 data points available, and someone chooses make a chart out of two of them, how likely is it that those two data points are representative?Report

  5. Avatar Kim
    Ignored
    says:

    Government is Force? Perhaps. But in Japan, Sony has tanks, and the government does not (in fact, the gov’t spends most of their Self-Defense budget on prototypes).Report

  6. Avatar E.C. Gach
    Ignored
    says:

    I like this brilliant pivot by Penn. From:

    “That’s all I understand from my experience, and that’s not much. ”

    To:

    “It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

    People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.”

    I’m fine with taking the second batch of claims on their own merit, but that disqualifies his arguments as to the existence of some prevailing, transcendent ignorance.

    Sure, there are tons of things we don’t know. But we look at the evidence and go from there. To accuse one side of making grandios claims is fine, if you don’t then go and make them yourself.

    Like the riots in London. Declaring acts to be criminality, pure and simple, is just as brash as throwing about specious and unfounded sociological explanations.Report

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