Why I Am A Secularist: Icky Scandal Edition

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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102 Responses

  1. Avatar zic
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    says:

    First off, and I’ve only just started reading but: I do not have evidence to think that Josh is a pedophile.

    I do think he committed sexual assault.

    I do think he may be a pedophile; but not knowing his age when he did what he did, when the last of the assaults happened, etc., I simply do not think there’s enough information to make that presumption. Certainly, his actions were rapey — more in the mode of someone who serves up too much alcohol or a roofie.

    Pedophiles groom their victims, they want their victims to love them. And while I have little interest in defending him, it bugs me a lot that we may be confusing his assaults with pedophilia; because that does seem to be a sexual preference that cannot be changed, and I feel deep and abiding pity for such people. We know gay conversion doesn’t work, for instance; I doubt pedophile conversion works, either.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic
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      says:

      I totally agree with your take on science taking LaCour down vs. the Huckabee/Santorum crowd circling the wagons.

      It’s important to remember why they circled: not because Josh is a pedophile and not because there are pedophiles amongst them, but because they believe that it’s godly for women to be subject to their fathers, their brothers, and their sons. Women have no agency of their own.

      Now I grew up fighting to be free of a pedophile; I don’t see that here. I also grew up milking cows. And the Duggars don’t put any more value or agency on their daughters than we did on our milk cows.

      This is evil. To my mind, overcoming this tradition, the subjugation of biology, is the real test of the human race. Without overcoming it, we’re a petulance. Earth’s got a social disease, and if you go look in the mirror, we’re it. We decided God gave us dominion over the earth. I’m not a fan of personal property rights that don’t engage stewardship as a foundational principle.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic
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        says:

        zic is WAY more right about this topic than the OP

        “For most of the country’s faithful, religion is an organized thing — and like all organized things, it has hierarchies big and small. Josh’s father Jim Bob might well be a morally damaged fame-whore (and for the record I believe that he is), but he is also a religious authority. You and I are not. Our sexual crimes, therefore, are punishable by complete exile. Jim Bob’s and Josh’s are not, and never will be. That’s just the way it is.”

        is simply ridiculous. The files on child abuse from evangelical churches would fill my entire building, and most of them are not the pastors or people in charge (though some are, obviously, as if you wanted to molest a lot of teens, being in charge is a great place to be) Most of them are just ordinary parishioners.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to zic
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      says:

      Pedophile conversion doesn’t work — kink preferences seem to be pretty hard set. OTOH, some people with more cognitively flexible minds seem able to have sex while merely thinking about their fantasies. And with some work, smarter people can enjoy more than one fantasy.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    Weirdly, I do not believe that TLC has yet cancelled the show – the Variety link seems to support that.

    Also, I am not sure the correct term for Josh Duggar’s alleged actions is “pedophilia”, without knowing more about them (and I don’t care to, frankly). It’s my understanding that he was young at the time of the incidents, and so were the victims; I am not sure of the age differentials, and I think that context matters if applying that particular term. To me, a pedophile is an adult who has an attraction to pre-pubescent children; if both perpetrator and victim were adolescents or otherwise relatively close in age, pedophilia seems an inapt term.

    This is not to excuse what Duggar is alleged to have done, which is still sexual assault/molestation by any standard, if my bare-bones understanding is correct.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph
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      says:

      Ironically enough, Glyph, I heard an NPR story today about a 13 year old boy who was … (what’s the word?) … of engaging in a “sex offense” with a 9 year old girl, and lived ever since then with his name attached to the state sexual offender list. He’s now 25 and, only with the help of a lahyer, got his name removed.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Its common and easy to accuse religious people of sexual hypocrisy but based on a lot of other stories in the news, sex just seems to screw some people regardless of their devotional state.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/28/michelle-smith-white-teacher-sex-tattoo_n_6060688.html

    Maintaining an environment of taboo around sex probably doesn’t help but even in secular environments, lots of people seem to just lose their mind over it.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      Yep-
      Like I mentioned in the other thread, I wish sexual/social/psychological dysfunction was somehow limited to one tribe or another, but it appears to be the woven into the fabric of us humans.

      I do think scientists should be applauded for expelling the viper in their midst- something religious folk should emulate but rarely do.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      “ts common and easy to accuse religious people of sexual hypocrisy but based on a lot of other stories in the news, sex just seems to screw some people regardless of their devotional state.”

      This has been covered on a lot of blogs; for a start see:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminismReport

  4. Avatar Stillwater
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    the differences that separate scene and religion ???

    and for every evangelical Christian out there who isn’t bothering to wonder about the ethics or efficacy of a type of alternative lifestyle they have been promoting for years, there is at least a hundred liberals and secularists who are happy to pretend that their own team’s sex crimes never happened.

    1:100? And “teams”? You actually resorted to “teams”? (Also, selfie link!)

    Despite what many secularists I know insist, science is no less susceptible to errors than religion,

    Hmmm. I can’t believe you actually believe this. The LaCour incident emerged from someone violating the tenets of science, first of all. But more importantly, science is an examination of and explanation accounting for observable facts in this wide ole material world. Religion doesn’t deal in facts at all. It’s Miracle, Mystery and Authority, all the way down.

    But look at it this way: apart from toasters, combustion engines, and the internet, what has science given us lately? Now compare to religion. Extend it back to a pre-science era if that helps to make the point clear.

    Science may not be perfect, but it’s decidedly not built on myths.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      OK, got to the end and realize that we’re in agreement. Science and scientific discovery is a dynamic process based on the observable and measurable (even tho there are limitations to that!). Should’ve finished the post before commenting.

      Still, I think you’re wrong to say that science is no less susceptible to errors. Fighten words, those are. As my above comment revealed.

      Edit: And the reason it’s less susceptible to errors ends up being a logical one: an institution of beliefs founded on falsities will of necessity be error prone!Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      I think I see it differently, Stillwater.

      Religion does deal in facts, but not necessarily in inductively deriving facts and testing hypotheses against those facts. Its focus is–or to be honest, “can be” because #notallreligions–on the why of those facts and their ultimate meaning.

      Science might not have “myths” in the sense you’re using that word, which seems to be “something false that people nevertheless believe to be true.” But it does have “myths” in another sense, that of “a story people tell ato coordinate and organize their understanding about the world.” It assumes that the universe operates according to rational laws that in principle are knowable. I’m not a scientist, but I strongly suspect that this assumption is something not stated in provable/disprovable form. It’s the lightbulb scientists have to assume to do their work.

      Some developments, like quantum theory (which I only poorly understand), seem to contradict that myth, but at that point, it seems that scientists do one of two things with such developments. Construct alternative a priori explanations about the nature of the universe (i.e., create different myths) or try to reconcile those developments with the current myth.

      I don’t say this as a knock against science or even as a defense of religion. I’m just suggesting the chasm isn’t as wide as first appears.Report

      • Avatar crash in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        Hi Gabriel:

        “Religion does deal in facts.” Can you expound on this? and give some examples?

        “[Science] assumes that the universe operates according to rational laws that in principle are knowable.”

        I’m not sure about this. I assume there are “structured/mostly-static” laws, but I wouldn’t call them “rational” (I guess I don’t know what that word means here). I wouldn’t assume all laws are knowable, either: maybe some laws are beyond our knowledge, even in principle. Maybe what happened “before” the big bang, or if that question even makes sense.

        I suppose you could say science does sort of have some assumptions like “there are laws of nature that are structured, and mostly static as of right now, and in many cases we can approximate them using language and math” (or something along those lines).

        I guess I don’t see this as remotely comparable to a myth, in any sense. It’s not a story, it’s (almost) a logical assumption that underlies our lives. It’s just saying there is a physical world that has some regularities. Not sure if it’s a self-evident truth or what, in the Cartesian sense, but it seems like a prerequisite for simply making your way in the world, physically or intellectually, whether you’re religious or not.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to crash
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          says:

          “Religion does deal in facts.” Can you expound on this? and give some examples?

          Good question. Here is oneexample:

          Someone believes god is all powerful and all good. But then notices that some bad things happen that an all powerful and all good god wouldn’t allow. Those things are the “facts,” and religion tries to deal with them. A critic might say that that is just “explaining away,” but much of religion is trying to reconcile known facts with the why’s of their happening.

          Your other question about science, and what I mean by “rational” or what I mean by “myth” are good ones. When I say science “assumes that the universe operates according to rational laws that in principle are knowable,” by “rational” I mean “works according to a fixed pattern or according to natural laws.” (Hmm….maybe I’m being circular….or at least maybe “rational” is superfluous and I shouldn’t have said it.) I’ll confess I’m putting a lot of weight on “in principle” in that statement. Perhaps too much weight. But I’ll concede that science concedes that some of those laws aren’t knowable, even if we could do a grand experiment or whatever.

          By myth, maybe I’m stretching further than I ought. To me, the story of the big bang is a “myth” in my second sense of the word. I’m not saying it’s false, but that it explains the origin of the universe. Maybe, however, I should reconsider whether that counts as a myth. My spidey-sense thinks it is, but when I examine what I know of that “myth,” I find that science doesn’t posit the why’s and wherefore’s, so maybe I’m off.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        If the universe wasn’t stable we’d be able to notice that – the experiments that were used to nail down some of the universe’s properties still work. Similarly without stable physical laws our technology wouldn’t work, nor would the chemistry that keeps us alive.

        A stable set of physical laws isn’t an assumption, it’s an observation.Report

        • Avatar crash in reply to James K
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          says:

          “A stable set of physical laws isn’t an assumption, it’s an observation.”

          Yes–but note we observe it is true of past problems, and then assume it’s true of current and future problems. It’s sorta like the Humean induction issue, rolled into what we expect of lawsReport

          • Avatar morat20 in reply to crash
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            says:

            The vast majority of physical laws, if they change, it will be obvious. Hopefully survivable, but also very, very, very obvious.

            Tiny changes in physical constants, for instance, can have massively outsized effects. (Depends on the constant). I can’t think of many physical constants that could change even a percent and not have some very visible consequences.

            Like stars going out. That sort of thing. 🙂Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to James K
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          says:

          I guess it depends on what one would accept as evidence of instability.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    Has Mr. Duggar been convicted or admitted the crimes in question here? If not, he is, in the eyes of the law, innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know, nor do I need or wish to.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      The statute of limitations has expired; there are no judicial proceedings. While his family consulted a police officer (later convicted of owning child pornography,) no official report was ever filed. Someone in the PD reported this to the state’s DHS, and the family sued to stop an investigation.

      And yes, he has admitted that he molested five young girls while they were sleeping, four of them were his own sisters.

      His parents sent him for counseling, meaning they sent him off for a summer to a friend’s where he helped build the friends house.

      There has been no word on what, if any, counseling the girls involved received. But the ATI program they use for homeschooling has a lesson on sexual abuse, which involves stuff like figuring out how you were a temptress amending your ways, searching for ways to rise above it in grace, and dedicating your body to god (in the earthly form of your father/husband/son, of course).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic
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        says:

        GrossReport

      • Avatar Barry in reply to zic
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        says:

        “The statute of limitations has expired; there are no judicial proceedings. While his family consulted a police officer (later convicted of owning child pornography,) no official report was ever filed. Someone in the PD reported this to the state’s DHS, and the family sued to stop an investigation.”

        The police officer was an elder in their church.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Why do you take an admission as such good evidence that it obviates the need for a trial?
      I’d take video evidence (as evaluated by a trained video expert who could spot forgeries) as a reasonable “probably did it”, but I’m pretty hesitant to take an admission as ironclad evidence.

      That said, this un’s guilty.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      “Has Mr. Duggar been convicted or admitted the crimes in question here? If not, he is, in the eyes of the law, innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know, nor do I need or wish to.”

      Burt, this is totally irrelevant to the conversation.Report

  6. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    Two words: O.J.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    I think the phenomenon @tod-Kelly describes here is rooted in the same reason that evangelicals and apologists on the one hand, and atheists and secularists on the other, expend so many electrons and tears trying to claim various of the Founding Fathers of the United States for their own tribes by way of cherry-picking the historical record in a bid to claim heroes:

    C: “George Washington was a Christian!”
    A: “No he wasn’t! He never went to church!”
    C: “Yes he did and he prayed before every battle too!”
    A: “But he said this thing critical of Christian dogma!”
    C: “But he said this thing about religion being good!”
    A: “And he said this other thing entirely consistent with Deism!”

    I think it’s the same thing here: the Duggars are supposed to be heroes, for this tribe, so they must be without sin, blemish, or fault. Otherwise, they couldn’t still be heroes.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Burt, your point?

      I’m not trying to harsh on you, but I’m detecting a little diversion into ‘both sides do it’.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Barry
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        says:

        My point is that what we’re seeing here is hero-worship. This is not the only example of hero-worship that I see from a particular strain of evangelicals. To the extent that I’m invoking BSDI, it’s in the form of a concession that hero-worship is not unique to evangelicals.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko
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          says:

          One of the things that comes to my mind was the circling of the wagons around Neil Tyson when it was revealed that some of his anecdotes pretty demonstrably had a promiscuous relationship with truth. Rather than say “Well yeah, he was kind of fibbing there or misremembered but was telling a larger Truth” there was an entire rabbit-hole of denials and attempts to square the Word of Neil with reality. And to this day, a number people remember the whole affair as an example of the exemplary ethics of the Science! side.

          This wasn’t a particularly important battle. Not as important as Tyson’s critics made it out to be (though Bush-supporters were not wrong to be irked). It’s certainly not molestation. But it was… interesting… all the same. Even relatively minor error could not be conceded until there really wasn’t much choice.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman
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            says:

            A very good example there, @will-truman .

            NdGT was obviously wrong about the words he put into Bush’s mouth, which Bush never said. It was right and truthful to call him on the carpet for it. That it turned into a weirdly-obsessive piling-on far disproportionate to the magnitude of the falseness, and then digging down into the apology-wasn’t-good-enough pothole, did not somehow render the false statements true.

            Seems to me that NdGT’s culture-warrior critics were willing to risk their own credibility because, as culture warriors, they thought they had a shot at removing one of “the other side’s” heroes from general public esteem. And the NdGT fanboys defended him with such credibility-damaging irrationality again because of his status as a hero rather than for any reason that had anything to do with the merits of the issue.

            That makes me ask, “How did it come to be that ‘science’ and ‘conservatism’ wound up on opposite sides of the culture wars? It didn’t need to be that way, did it?” There’s probably a post in there somewhere.

            And it makes me ask, “Can’t ideas like Christianity and science and climate change survive even if some of their exponents turn out to be flawed human beings?” Apparently, the answer to that question is uncertain!Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Barry
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        says:

        BSDI is a perfectly reasonable answer when, in fact, both sides do it.

        Speaking to @tod-kelly’s original point, however, the invocation of sides in this situation is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. If one side is a group of fairly insular, politically motivated Evangelical Christians, who is the other side? Science? Academia?

        You wouldn’t have to look very hard to find a comparable group of non-religious academics engaging in a similar circle-the-wagons fashion.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to j r
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          says:

          Like… atheists domesticating Richard Dawkins’ misogyny so he could continue looking good in the media?

          Because I don’t remember that. I remember atheists calling Dawkins out on the carpet for both objectionable and questionable statements, and Dawkins getting all butthurt about it.

          Like… scientists saying that it wasn’t a big deal that climate change researchers faked their data to make the results of their studies less ambiguous and more dramatic than they would have been otherwise?

          Because I don’t remember that. I remember scientists being gravely disappointed with their colleagues’ dishonesty, and lacking the PR skills to simultaneously combat gleeful climate change denialists while still criticizing the tainted report.

          Or are you thinking of something else?Report

  8. Avatar Murali
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    says:

    @tod

    3 points:

    1. As you yourself noted, science has a tendency to self correct. This means that in the long run, it is less likely to be wrong than religion. You engage in the fallacy of composition by thinking that just because both science and religion human enterprises and humans are somewhat fallible, that all human enterprises are equally error prone. Institutional structure matters and the institutionalised forms of scientific enquiry are structured in a way that compensates significantly for people’s fallibility. To make an analogy, graphite and diamond are both made of carbon, yet they have different properties.

    2. It seems unclear to me that religion is a sort of enquiry. It seems like the purpose of religion is for social solidarity and support. Criticising religion for not being reliable in the pursuit of truth may be missing the point. Religion is not for coming to true answers about the age of the earth.* In a way, circling the wagons is what religion is for.

    3. More fundamentally, how are you dividing up religious and secular? You seem to be using the words in a mutually exclusive way. But I and I believe lots of people consider themselves as both religious and secular. In my own instance, I do more than pay lip service to religion, I also observe its dietary rules. But I’m also secular. I think that science is a reliable method of inquiry with regards to empirical questions. So, what am I? religious or secular? My basic point is that you seem to be posing a false dilemma set up by the hardliners in both camps.

    *Of course there are many religious believers who do look to religion for such answers, but I don’t think that we should criticise a movement based on its most backward and irrational members.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to Murali
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      “Of course there are many religious believers who do look to religion for such answers, but I don’t think that we should criticise a movement based on its most backward and irrational members.”

      By “most backward and irrational members”, do you mean over half of them?

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspxReport

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Zac
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        says:

        @zac

        Well, if you think about it, that half of the religious population is the dying half. With more and more new evidence piling up all of which support the theory of evolution (over intelligent design or whatever name creationism is going by), newer generations of religious people are going to be more likely to accept the theory than in the past.

        Atheism is actually a bit more common over here than in the US. I have met self-described atheists here who are sceptical about evolution. Its weird, but the particular ideological associations between religiosity, rejection of science and political ideology may be present for historical reasons peculiar to the American situation and may not reflect more general tendencies.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Murali
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          says:

          Murali:
          Well, if you think about it, that half of the religious population is the dying half.

          That claim isn’t supported by most of the statistics I’ve seen, which show that participation in moderate forms of Christianity is falling much faster than support in fundamentalist Christianity, and that US Christians are much more likely to support biblical literalist understanding of scientific or historical topics than they were before the fourth great awakening of the late 70s and early 80s.Report

          • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Alan Scott
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            I don’t think that second half is “dying,” or rather, I believe it will always exist to one degree or another. I also believe that all of us are part of that “half” in some of the claims we believe about the universe.

            So, I’m conflicted. I don’t want to engage in “no true Scotsmanship,” because if we’re to consider believers, we have to consider the believers we have, not those we want. And yet, even if that “half” represents all believers and not just the dying “half” of them, we can still chalk it off to “religion just isn’t good at inducing empirical truth.” That doesn’t override its other functions of social solidarity and support that Murali mentions. (And to the functions he mentions, I’ll add the search for moral truths, explorations of the “ultimate why” of things, and the search for humility, none of which admits of empirical proof, at least not in any obvious way.)

            By the way, this is a drive-by. I have to go to work. But I like this discussion.Report

  9. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Duggar’s parent had him talk to a policemen. He’s now doing 56 years in prison for child pornography. Then they took him to a counselor. He was later revealed as a serial molester.

    It’s not a news story, it’s an episode of Family Guy.Report

  10. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
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    says:

    To be fair to the crazies, while Huckabee is backing him up, Santorum did have no problems tossing the guy under the bus.

    ““I was sickened by it. I was just sickened by it,” Santorum, a Christian conservative who had the support of the Duggar family during his first presidential campaign in 2012, said. “I pray for those girls in particular.”
    He added: “To have gone through that is … just hard to think about.”Report

  11. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I sign on to most of what @murali says above.

    Additionally, I don’t think this is right:

    Because that’s the thing about most collective human endeavors: they have no mechanism that corrects for the human failures of hubris, corruption, and folly.

    I’d say it depends on the religion, of course, but I suggest that religion, in general, does have such a mechanism, just one that operates differently from science. I know I mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again just in case everyone here is eager to know my personal history: I have personal familiarity with Catholicism and evangelicalism (raised Catholic, leaned heavily evangelical from 6th grade through first year of college), and have studied Buddhism (by which I mean, I have read a small handful–probably fewer than 5–of books on its history). I’ll make two observations about those three approaches to religion:

    First, Catholicism and evangelicalism (don’t know about Buddhism) do have mechanisms for confession, the admission of shortcomings and error, and reincorporation back into the community, even for grievous error. Sometimes, “error” is read as averring supposedly truth claims about the universe, regardless of whether the evidence supports them (Exhibit A: the legend, perhaps true, that Copernicus waited until he was near death to publish his heliocentric theory). Sometimes the error means not hewing to certain dogmatic points, or not worshiping the state, or being born into the wrong religion (Bxhibit B: Spanish Inquisition) But there is also at least in theory a way for Catholicism and evangelicalism to incorporate and find acceptance for those who admit their guilt. As you know from your Daily Beast article (and if people here haven’t read Tod’s article, they should) , some churches actually walk the walk.

    Second, the stories on which Christianity and Buddhism are based take aim specifically at “hubris, corruption, and folly,” and it’s possible to read those traditions as being “about” overcoming those human failures. Christianity reminds its adherents that they are not god and that all fall short of god’s law, a point that all practitioners, by virtue of being human, fail at times to live by. (And some, like the Duggars, apparently, persist in that error even while claiming not to. I think. I can’t see their inner souls and I decline to watch their “outer souls” on t.v.) One way to read the promise of Christ’s salvation is as a letting go of the insistence that we obtain salvation by ourselves.

    Buddhism, too, with its focus on the transitoriness of the ego, with its finding the origin of suffering in desire, seems also (to me) directly aimed against hubris. I imagine that modern-day Buddhists (both the more traditional varieties like Theravada, Mahayana, and Rajvayana, and the new agey American “zen” varieties) are just as hypocritical and egocentric in their own lives as Christians are.

    I’m talking about how to “read” these religions, and I think it’s fair to take my “reading” and juxtapose to it another person’s reading that disagrees with mine. Still, I insist my readings of those traditions are plausible and not particularly controversial or innovative.

    Third, I’ll go a step further and hypothesize that most human traditions–religious or atheistic–are based on foundational stories that are meant to challenge “the human failures of hubris, corruption, and folly.” Science as a discipline operates that way, especially when it becomes part of a larger materialistic world view. Carl Sagan, for all his secularism (and for all his own errors about environmental disaster in the wake of the Gulf War), found much to be humble about when contemplating the universe. Whether such humility is a bug or feature of science, I suggest is the less interesting question. The point is science can have the effect. It can also have its own idols, both the idols of professionalism and careerism (for which its peer review culture and scientific verifications processes help combat) and the idols of rationality and materialism, which seems (to me) more deeply ingrained.Report

  12. Avatar Kim
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    says:

    Have you ever tried sensory deprivation? That’s generally good for a vision quest or two…Report

  13. Avatar crash
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    says:

    “And that’s why I’m a science guy, and a secularist. Not because I expect science to always be right, and not because I expect it to never again lead us astray. But because, at the end of the day, I trust science to ultimately admit when it was wrong.”

    In my view, this is sort of right, but incomplete. The reason “science” (actually scientists) admit when it is (they were) wrong is because experiments can be designed to show that Theory X, which everyone used to think was right, is almost certainly wrong–scientists are in a way forced to admit it, because you can rub their faces in the data. There is progress in science, and so this is not right IMO: “Despite what many secularists I know insist, science is no less susceptible to errors than religion”. There are lots of errors in science, but it triangulates toward the “truth” in a way that religion does not. Scientific laws are supposed to, and do, reflect reality in some way. There is no experiment that can show that Christianity is correct, and Greek Mythology is wrong.

    Another way to look at it is this: your statement presupposes an external truth independent of human (this is how I read “when it was wrong”–you couldn’t say this if you didn’t think there is an objective reality). Science is some sense (that is admittedly difficult to explain) reflects this reality, whereas religion does not. Christianity doesn’t reflect reality because there was no magical man who turned water into wine etc. (I can’t “prove” this of course, but neither can I prove that Odin didn’t do X and Y. I am OK with this.)

    So I guess I’m an atheist (or secularist, if you will) because science works and progresses in a way religion does not.Report

  14. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    Apologies for bringing things down here and grouping a single response to several, but since @stillwater @murali and @crash have similar points (and I have a somewhat lengthy reply), it seems easier…

    1. I suspect that we are all closer in agreement than the three of you suspect, and that more than anything it’s the semantics of my use of the word “science” that is causing disharmony.

    I have had a number of conversations with people of different faiths (but, for whatever reason, usually either Catholics or Evangelical Protestants) who have made the claim that their religion is *the* truth, and a far better barometer of what is and isn’t real than other religions (or science). When I push back and bring up events or discarded dogma in their own history that contradicts this statement, the response I usually get is that back then the church simply misunderstood the Will of God, but that’s no longer the case, and the important thing is that the Will of God is infallible.

    When I use the term science in this post, I’m very much trying to avoid the “Will of God” dodge. Which is to say, I am including not just science the theoretical construct, but also science as a body of knowledge, a rich history or successes and failures, and a practice/industry being performed by a huge number of human actors. When viewed this way, science is absolutely self correcting — but only ultimately, often over much time. Those of us who are pro-science secularists (and I include myself here) often fall into the mental trap of believing that the science of X is largely settled, when more than often it’s not.

    2. I recently re-read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. (Someday I’m going to write a post arguing that Bryson’s book should be the textbook from which we teach science in public high schools.)

    One of the things that hits me whenever I reread it is how muddy we humans make science. Almost every scientific discipline covered in the book has a long history of “science” largely agreeing on what it right, data being found that conflicts with that science, and the long time (often generations) it takes for anyone to bother considering that data because it hasn’t been uncovered by people with the proper authority to dare challenge those in charge. Indeed, a lot of terms we now think of as being science terms — big bang, continental drift, expanding universe — were coined mockingly and in derision, and were used to casually dismiss data for decades or generations.

    There is, too, how many disciplines we tend to think of as concrete that ultimately come down to, “we *think* we know, but we don’t *really* know.”Report

    • Avatar crash in reply to Tod Kelly
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      “science as a body of knowledge, a rich history or successes and failures, and a practice/industry being performed by a huge number of human actors. When viewed this way, science is absolutely self correcting”

      Yes–but it seems to me that the reason science is self-correcting, whether viewed as a theoretical construct, or as a body of knowledge/practice/industry, is that it is about the actual world. The scientific things we believe are in some sense caused by, for lack of a better word, reality.

      (Apologies to believers for this next sentence, some of my religious friends find it insulting.) Religion doesn’t self-correct because it is based on a fiction, a fairy tale.

      I admit my view can be seen as a bit circular: I sort of say “there is a truth/real world out there, and science allows us to discover it. Religion does not allow us to discover it, since it is based on a fiction.” Then when asked how I know religion is based on a fiction, I employ scientific-type language. So it is a little circular I suppose. I have been accused of “having faith in science, just like others have faith in god.”

      But I do know that if you have incorrect scientific beliefs, all sorts of things happen: your bridges collapse, your diseases run rampant, and you make incorrect predictions about gravitational lensing. Also your olive-oil and baking soda volcano remains tragically dormant. It doesn’t seem that in noting this fact, I am displaying “faith”.

      Nothing seems to happen when you have incorrect religious beliefs.

      You are quite right that in many/most cases, we conclude we are at the scientific “truth” way too early.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to crash
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        says:

        Implausible religious beliefs lack a basis in reality.
        Like it or not, the most parsimonious explanation for our particular reality is a simulation.

        And that begs the question of “who’s running it… and why?”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to crash
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        says:

        Good comment. Regarding this:

        But I do know that if you have incorrect scientific beliefs, all sorts of things happen: your bridges collapse, your diseases run rampant, and you make incorrect predictions about gravitational lensing. Also your olive-oil and baking soda volcano remains tragically dormant. It doesn’t seem that in noting this fact, I am displaying “faith”.

        Nothing seems to happen when you have incorrect religious beliefs.

        Yeah, that’s about my view as well. I’d add that internal consistency (which is, I think, Tod’s complaint when he talks about “challenging those in charge” (which I’ll get to in a moment)) is one useful tool by which to judge a theory or ideology’s merit. But, as I think most of us will agree, a paradigmatic “conspiracy theory” is endlessly, epicyclicly, internally coherent, yet – by definition! – false. And insofar as one views both science and religion as relying on internal coherence to (sotospeak) “self-justify”, neither merits more consideration than a conspiracy theory. Just throw em both out, at that point.

        The thing about science is (as you mentioned in the quoted comment) scientific beliefs not only change over time (contra “internal coherence”) but the methodology employed sorta requires (as an endeavor, anyway) that beliefs change over time. But not for the sake of change, acourse. But rather, because the scientific pursuit is to discover new facts about the world as well as coalesce those new-found facts into coherent, empirically-explanatory theories. And doing so takes, usually, a bit of revolutionary thinking.

        Which takes me back to Tod’s claim about how evidence and new theories are rejected or discounted “by those in charge”. First, there is, as he and everyone else (I hope) admits, a human element to scientific inquiry. All the foibles, ignorance, ego, etc, that appears in other domains exist in the culture of science as well. But more to the point, the so-called “people in charge” of scientific truth, the gatekeepers of theory, are almost by definition people at the very top of the scientific game in their respective fields. So it’s not like the gatekeeping is completely arbitrary, or purely culturally or ideological-predispositionally determined. There’s just a resistance implicit in people to changing their minds when they’ve been “made up”.

        Which takes me back to the quoted passage. Scientific beliefs are regarded as true or false insofar as they conform with the predominant theories of the time those beliefs are held, but there’s this other thing too: incorrect scientific beliefs can be demonstrated empirically as being false. There is no analogue for truth/falsity, correct/incorrect religious beliefs except for internal coherence. THere’s no algorithm internal to religion to take religious beliefs back out to the world.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
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          says:

          This is excellent discussion.

          There is no analogue for truth/falsity, correct/incorrect religious beliefs except for internal coherence. THere’s no algorithm internal to religion to take religious beliefs back out to the world.

          This has profound implications in a lot of different directions. One, and perhaps the most disturbing one, is that when religion fails to go back to the world, it isolates its adherents, and in so doing, can become abusive, damaging, and destructive. This happens at all sorts of levels — wars, for instance. Jihads and inquisitions. It happens to scientists and artists. To women and children in families (which I just posted about.)

          When I began providing shelter to battered women in dangerous moments, I had to learn to recognize women who might be at risk. Sometimes, just people I met on the street where I happened to witness the abuse. So I had to learn the signs, and isolation was the most obvious. Someone who wants to isolate and control is often abusive, and religious beliefs that do that can foster that abuse amongst congregants. And like my pedophile, beloved by many for his good work, so purchase cover for their abuse.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic
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            says:

            To your point, the Duggar’s story we’re all talking about. Apologetics, a bit of obstruction, repentance, then forgiveness. All internal to the precepts of Duggar’s advocates.

            But it’s not just religious ideology that lacks a Back to Reality algorithm. I’d be remiss if I gave you that impression. Strikes me more as a psychological property of True Believers (no matter the X) than anything about any particular “ism”.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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          says:

          There is no analogue for truth/falsity, correct/incorrect religious beliefs except for internal coherence. THere’s no algorithm internal to religion to take religious beliefs back out to the world.

          There’s a theory out there that wonders whether the impiety of a culture is a herald of the fall of a culture. An assumption that devotion to God(s) is a misapprehension of devotion to the gods of the copybook headings.

          The gods of the copybook headings don’t really care whether you mention them by name when you worship, just that you worship… and impiety to whichever gods you care to name has significant overlap with failure to give the tribute the gods of the copybook headings demand.

          Not that this is a particularly testable theory, of course.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      One of the things that hits me whenever I reread it is how muddy we humans make science. Almost every scientific discipline covered in the book has a long history of “science” largely agreeing on what it right, data being found that conflicts with that science, and the long time (often generations) it takes for anyone to bother considering that data because it hasn’t been uncovered by people with the proper authority to dare challenge those in charge. Indeed, a lot of terms we now think of as being science terms — big bang, continental drift, expanding universe — were coined mockingly and in derision, and were used to casually dismiss data for decades or generations.

      This version of the story, which has been the popular version of the Kuhnian story of science for as long as I can remember, but is mostly false. I mean, in most cases, it’s obviously false: the Big Bang, while it was frequently derided at first, became accepted fact really quickly, particularly for such a radical idea and one that was largely deductive at the time; Darwinian evolution, again pretty radical, was widely accepted among scientists within a generation; Kepler was influential within his lifetime, and so on.

      In the muddier cases, it hints at something true, but it doesn’t capture that truth. For example, people began to notice problems with Newtonian mechanics pretty quickly, and they began trying to figure out how to deal with them almost immediately, but it took a long time and a lot of preliminary work electromagnetism and all that other stuff I don’t fully understand for us to end up with a major paradigm shift via Einstein, because that stuff is not just really difficult and dependent on a lot of findings that weren’t possible (technologically, perhaps logically) until well into the 19th century, but is also incredibly far-reaching in its scientific implications, and therefore required a more fully-realized alternative before Newton could be relegated to special case status. And remember, Newtonian mechanics were accepted pretty damn quickly, even though there were some more abstract philosophical debates that lasted a bit longer than they might today in large part because things like motion and matter were still being worked out conceptually from within a materialist, mechanistic general world view.

      In short, science is muddy, but you don’t really see people sitting on data because of its implications. Hell, even the Scholastics and their intolerance of non-Peripatetic heresies weren’t so intolerant of new problems and ideas as the popular story of the history of science seems to imply we have been even after the scientific revolution.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
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        says:

        You still have people clinging to the old pre-big-bang ideas. Oh, they accept the new ones, but they don’t have to LIKE them. (Heard a story from an astrophysicist about shopping journal editors because he didn’t like some of the conclusions they wanted him to draw from his work — thought they were pushing the data a bit hard, and he pulled up one of the guys who didn’t like the whole big bang idea, and was much more receptive to “just the data”).

        Psychiatry still has that argument between the CBT folks and the Freudians (yes, there’s a different word for ’em, I’ve forgot it though).

        Evolution has more room to have ongoing arguments, because we don’t have a complete fossil record. Punctuated equilibrium versus gradualism, etc etc.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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        says:

        IIRC plate tectonics was one of those largely sneered at theory’s until technology caught up to a point that more conclusive evidence could be had.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          I admit that I don’t know much about the history of geology (given my personality, just admitting that means I’ll probably buy a book on the subject), but not having good evidence is a good reason for not accepting a new idea. See, e.f., string theory.

          Individual scientists are generally recalcitrant in their beliefs in the face of newer, better ideas, because they’re human. Science rarely is, because it is, as an institution, built not to be.Report

  15. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    Now for some twists.

    I am currently reading Peter Watson’s wonderful book Ideas: From Fire to Freud. The discovery of the New World helped cause a bit of crisis of doubt in Europe because the existence of North and South America were inconsistent with what was written in the Bible. The real advent of doubt did not happen until the 1600s though but the seeds were planted in 1492 and further spread by various wars between Protestants and Catholics during the 1500s.

    Almost all logic and probability states that there is no deity that created us. There were religions before the current ones. I find it kind of odd that a deity would create the world and also create counter-belief systems whether Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, etc. I suppose a deity could have done this as test to see whether we can be tolerant and loving of each other despite differences or to see how well people handle doubt and counter-thought but that is highly unlikely.

    Yet if you were to ask me whether I identified as an atheist or a Jew, my answer would always be that I identify as Jewish. Many Jewish people feel the same as I do. The largely secular but still Jewish identifying person is not uncommon in the world. I have seen it drive atheists from non-Jewish backgrounds to all fits of crazy. There could be something unique to the history of Jews and Judaism but I see no reason to abandon my Judaism or my Jewish identity.

    Science is wonderful and largely self-correcting as you note but science is not very good for the existential questions of Who am I? Why am I here? Why does bad shit keep happening to me and those I love?

    This is what people turn to religion and philosophy for. I have seen a lot of atheists brush off this questions as irrelevant but they are not.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      The discovery of Mormonism helped resolve a lot of that tension with the revelation of the lost tribe of Israel that made its way to Central/South America.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Nothing I’ve read about the discovery of the Americas has ever suggested it lead to doubt in the European mind. The vast majority of Europeans were easily able to continue on believing in Christianity after Columbus found out about Caribbean Island living. If anything, Christianity seems to have made the entire conquest a lot more morally bearable. The Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and Dutch justified their actions in the New World on the fact that they were Christian and the Native Americans were not.

      The reappearance about doubt in religion was most likely due to the rediscover of Greco-Roman philosophy during the Renaissance and the increasing pace of scientific discoveries. These two combined to provide a plausible explanation for an entirely material universe.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        Peter Watson’s book is very long but very good. You should pick up a copy. He has a lot of proof that Grecco-Roman thought never really went away completely. There were nobility from the Dark and Middle ages that saw themselves as the descendants of demi-God and many cathedrals had figures from Greek and Roman mythology woven into the tapestries and art.

        Peter Heather is also good at showing how Greece and Rome did not go away.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        “Nothing I’ve read about the discovery of the Americas has ever suggested it lead to doubt in the European mind.”

        What about Montaigne (Des Cannibales)?Report

    • Avatar crash in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Hi Saul

      “as you note but science is not very good for the existential questions of Who am I? Why am I here? Why does bad shit keep happening to me and those I love? This is what people turn to religion and philosophy for. I have seen a lot of atheists brush off this questions as irrelevant but they are not.”

      I agree that science isn’t good at answering these questions. But I haven’t found philosophy or religion to be much better. Religion attempts to answer the question, but giving a false answer (false in my view anyway) isn’t any better than giving no answer. Philosophy… don’t get me started.

      I understand why people turn to religion, it can be brutal to think that this is “all there is”, and that the universe has no meaning, or however you want to phrase it. It would be very comforting if there were an afterlife.

      I don’t find the questions to be irrelevant–just unanswerable. Can’t speak for all atheists of course.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to crash
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        says:

        @crash

        I did not mean to imply that philosophy or religion always had good answers but many have decent attempts or partial explanations. You might be right that it is all just random chaos and there is no good reason or explanation (which would be one for the existentialists).Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to crash
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        says:

        it can be brutal to think that this is “all there is”, and that the universe has no meaning, or however you want to phrase it. It would be very comforting if there were an afterlife.

        @crash it’s odd to me; I found it freeing and transcendent. This morning, I watched a school of fish, newly hatched, about an inch long, in the shallows of a river. They’d swim around for a few minutes, eating off the surface, churning the water up as if it were raining. Then they’d go to the very edge, where the water and mud transitioned to shore, and settle down on the mud, their spines sticking right out of the water, and settle down and nap a bit. After a few minutes, they’d swim around in the shallows, no more than a foot deep at it’s deepest points. This went on for about 45 minutes. And then the bigger of them gathered at the edge just where the water dropped off; about a third of the total, and as one, swam out into the deeper water, hugging the shore. You could see them, individually dart out for an insect on the surface and then scurry back to the group. They swam around the rocks I sat on that created the shallow, hugging the shore, until they were in the main river, and the current was obviously faster and stronger. And then, again as one, they all swam out into the dark, faster water, and disappeared from view.

        That was how I spent an hour this morning.

        It’s enough magic to witness; transcendent. If this is what is, if it’s all we’ve got, getting to watch a school of fish less than 2″ long join the river of life seems good enough to me. My day, my life, so long as I remember, was enriched for that witnessing. I’ll spend years wondering at what silent signal made those slightly larger fish break off from the smaller and exchange napping at the waters edge for the deep, cold currents of the Androscoggin River.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to zic
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          says:

          My goodness, @zic , that was absolutely delightful prose. Thanks!Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            Thank you, @burt-likko

            I’m just grateful I’ve the time to watch, a deeply ingrained habit to watch, and live in a place where there’s so much to watch that I will not ever have enough time or opportunity to witness all there is to see and wonder at.Report

        • Avatar crash in reply to zic
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          says:

          “I found it freeing and transcendent.”

          Hi Zic:

          This is closer to what I usually feel as well, but in my experience religious people seem more likely to be frightened by a life with no external meaning.

          I can sympathize with them at times; in my darker moments I can feel the terror of the voidReport

          • Avatar zic in reply to crash
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            says:

            We all, in our darker moments, reach out for something outside ourselves. I’m an atheist, and I know I do it in fear or dread. It’s really easy to fill that impulse with God, with a divine presence. Likewise, we have moments that transcend, where we are filled with awe and delight. And it’s also easy to fill that transcendence with God, with divine presence.

            I do not believe in god, I don’t think god created anything, there is no plan, no afterlife, no heaven, no hell; except as we create them in our own image. Yet I have those impulses to fear and dread, those moment saturated with beauty and wonder. They are human impulses, responses of our minds, and some of us opt to see them through the lens of divinity and religious belief. The hubris here is a presumption that people who don’t use a lens of religion don’t have the same impulses, or when they do, it’s held up as evidence that non-believers aren’t really non-believers. They put god as the cause of the impulses. I’d say god’s a result of the impulses.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to zic
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          says:

          Someday I shall write about watching Monarchs emerge from their chrysalis …Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      Say what? Like, really, say what? No mention of Henry the Navigator? No mention of getting below the equator??

      Because the Greeks liked the Antipodes,but the Christians did NOT.

      (when I remember, I’ll post the name of the book I’m reading now, which gets into all this in more detail)Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      “Who am I? Why am I here? Why does bad shit keep happening to me and those I love?”

      Those questions do have answers. You just might not find them particularly satisfactory.

      “Who am I?” You’re an aggregate of electrical and chemical impulses in a neural edifice, carried around in a meatsuit.

      “Why am I here?” Your parents had sex.

      “Why does bad shit keep happening to me and those I love?” Because the laws of physics and chemistry are amoral.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Zac
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        says:

        “My name is Andy!”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Zac
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        says:

        I didn’t mean me specifically but they are valid questions philosophically.Report

        • Avatar Zac in reply to Saul Degraw
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          says:

          Those answers aren’t specific to you. They apply to anyone asking those questions.

          There are plenty of interesting philosophical questions one could ask. But pretty much none of them are dealt with by religion, and the ones most people ask are either incoherent (i.e. ‘What is the meaning of life/universe?’, which is like asking ‘What is the color of geometry?’) or have mundane answers.Report

  16. Avatar rexknobus
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    says:

    I haven’t read your post yet — I fully intend to — but the title brought up a personal history moment (uh-oh “special snowflake alert”)

    When I was 12 I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church. This basically involved a school year’s worth of Saturday mornings being properly instructed in Apostle’s Creed, etc., etc. The whole thing didn’t really take, I guess, but I was willing to listen and think it over. On the Day of the Confirmation Ceremony, our kindly old minister (great guy) told us that we were honored to have the Bishop (? – I think that was the title) in attendance. What an honor! The Bishop sat us all down and told us that often “…when I touch the student in blessing, they feel the power of the Lord enter them.”)

    “O.k.,” I thought, “God, if you’re there and listening, here’s your chance. Give me the jolt and I’m in.” I meant it, too. Hey, I was 12. I was ready to roll if I could get the slightest sense of its reality.

    Obviously, no jolt. Not a real biggie to me at the time; I hadn’t really expected one. Haven’t expected (or received) any since. But what stuck with me as the years have gone by was how mature my thoughts of the time still seem to me. Wow, only 12 and actually using my brain.

    Recently, I came across a family picture of that day and I was struck by how bloody young and childish I looked at 12 in my little sweater and my creased go-to-church pants. And since I have such specific memories of that very day, how odd it seems to have had the mature thoughts I was having inside that little kid’s head. Cool.

    And then I noticed that my zipper was wide open. Oh, cripes.Report

  17. Avatar zic
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    says:

    Jesse Single at Science of Us has a great look at what brought LaCour’s falsehoods to light.

    It was the cost to do the survey:

    Rather, it started in the most unremarkable way possible: with a graduate student [David Broockman] trying to figure out a money issue.
    [snip]
    But back in 2013, the now-26-year-old Broockman, a self-identifying “political science nerd,” was so impressed by LaCour’s study that he wanted to run his own version of it with his own canvassers and his own survey sample. First, the budget-conscious Broockman had to figure out how much such an enterprise might cost. He did some back-of-the-envelope calculations based on what he’d seen on LaCour’s iPad — specifically, that the survey involved about 10,000 respondents who were paid about $100 apiece — and out popped an imposing number: $1 million. That can’t be right, he thought to himself. There’s no way LaCour — no way any grad student, save one who’s independently wealthy and self-funded — could possibly run a study that cost so much. He sent out a Request for Proposal to a bunch of polling firms, describing the survey he wanted to run and asking how much it would cost. Most of them said that they couldn’t pull off that sort of study at all, and definitely not for a cost that fell within a graduate researcher’s budget. It didn’t make sense. What was LaCour’s secret?

    Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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      says:

      That’s a nice, if very long look at how Brookman and his friend discovered the fraud.

      The funding thing is amazing, because it seems like an obvious issue to pick up during peer review, and should have been noticed by the senior author as well. “Hey, you say you have less than $800k in grants, but the compensation alone would have been over a mil. What’s up with that?” Of course, the grants were as fake as the survey, so…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
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        says:

        It should have been caught in fabrication.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I must say that, reading his response, the person who failed him the most is his adviser, because it’s quite clear that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

          On the other hand, the fact that he managed to get a position at Princeton and be widely considered a rising star in political science says something about how talented he is at convincing people he knows what he’s doing without actually knowing what he’s doing. It might also say something about the discipline, that someone can fake their way into such esteem within it.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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            says:

            I suspect LaCour would make a fair grifter/con man, since one of the required traits of such a person is to either convince the mark to go against their better judgement & do their due diligence, or be able to concoct enough of a backstop that the mark feels like due diligence is met.

            And college professors are probably not exactly looking for deception from a grad student with regard to research, so it would be easy to BS him.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              As far as I can tell, he hadn’t yet defended his dissertation orally, so I’m wondering how that would have gone.

              I actually knew a guy who made it to the dissertation stage of grad school in psychology with almost no working knowledge of basic statistics (despite having made it through at least 4 advanced statistics courses somehow). It became painfully apparent at that point, because he was writing up research by himself, and the results sections were a disaster.Report

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