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1  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Democratic Party still bleeding White voters on: May 11, 2015, 12:04:32 am
Source, please?
Exit polling. Obama's approval rating among whites. Didn't you do a polling thread, lol?

The fact that a trend in occurring doesn't imply that the trend will continue unabated in the future. This is called the fallacy of extrapolation

Strongly agreed.  Even worse, voters who were recently gained are more vulnerable to being lost, because they were recently voting differently.  That's not to say the trend can't continue (see the 2000->2012 whiteslide in some areas), but generally it's not even probable, let alone certain.
2  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of bobloblaw on: May 05, 2015, 03:19:53 pm
I don't like how he lobs law bombs at us all the time, as if this is some kind of personal law blog.

Now, we're not here to talk nonsense to bobloblaw.

We're here to hear nonsense from bobloblaw.
3  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Nebraska woman sues all gayz on: May 05, 2015, 03:12:25 pm
Quote
Defendants:
Homosexuals
Their Given Name Homosexuals
Their, Alis Gay

amazing
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 05, 2015, 01:02:38 am
^ BRTD's questions are pretty close to the ones I intended to ask, so I'll defer to them, Wulfric.
5  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb Bush likes controversial sociologist Charles Murray's books on: May 04, 2015, 04:32:54 pm
Dude, I really just don't read the forum that much, and this is the thread I happened to read.  That's the "optics" of it.  I'm not trying to bully you.  I'm just critiquing your argument.  I'm not trying to mock the emotional commitments you have on these issues.  I even said I understand them, because there are some truly gross people who really want there to be a racial IQ gap, and then want to abuse that information.  But I'm sure you can appreciate why I think there's good reason not to be disingenuous about evidence, and it's not because I want to prove that I'm a bigger man than you or whatever.  I don't think poorly of you at all, and this defensiveness is unnecessary.
6  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb Bush likes controversial sociologist Charles Murray's books on: May 04, 2015, 02:58:56 pm
I suppose you have a point but I'm a bit puzzled about this discussion. There are hundreds of posts on this forum that are ill-thought out, immature, childish and dumb: why did you choose to reply to mine? Admittedly, my argument was an "on a napkin" one that drew from random information I've read on the internet. I didn't formulate a coherent argument because I say things that are off the top of my head on forums. I don't get why you're lecturing me about the nature of empirical evidence. This isn't an essay that I'm submitting for a grade or whatever.

You drew on arbitrary evidence (and, in one case, evidence that I'm not even sure exists) to reach a conclusion you've already decided you wanted to reach, and then stated (wrongly) that your conclusion was the only reasonable one based on available evidence.  I responded to you because:

1. That's not accurate, and people who read your post but know little about this subject might get the wrong idea.

2. I don't think that "I have good intentions" is necessarily a good excuse to be knowingly disingenuous or half-assed about your argument.  (Neither is the fact that this isn't for a grade.  I'm not demanding you be an expert; I wouldn't be criticizing you if you had just admitted you don't know enough to have a conclusive opinion.)

3. I replied to this is the thread I happened to open and read.  I responded to your post because the argument was bad and was going mostly unchallenged.  I don't only respond to posts if they're committing the World's Greatest Evil.  If either of us applied such a strict test of utility, neither of us would be posting on an internet forum.

And I'm lecturing you on the nature of empirical evidence because you were abusing empirical evidence.  If you don't need to be lectured on evidence, then I guess you were knowingly abusing evidence?  I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

I mean, you "caught me" in my devious attempt to defeat a racist troll on the internet with an impromptu post but I'm not sure what has been accomplished. If you'd like to discuss the issue, I'm okay with that but that's not the sense I've gotten from engaging in this conversation with you.

I just spent time dismantling the premise of your argument.  It's kind of ridiculous that you're accusing me of not wanting to discuss the issue, in response to me arguing that you're failing to discuss the issue.  In what sense are you "discussing the issue" more than me -- by adopting a position and then shoe-horning evidence to fit it?

I am more than happy to discuss any aspect of this issue that you want.  I already alluded to my concerns about the public policy repercussions here, and can expand on that if you want.  I've been discussing the issue, and I'm open to discussing it more.  I just don't think "discussion" should take the form of deciding what I want to believe, and finding random evidence to support that position.  That's less like an intellectually honest conversation to me, and more like one of those standardized testing 'persuasive' essays they had us write as fifth-graders.
7  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Texas: two gunmen shot dead after opening fire at Mohammed cartoon contest on: May 04, 2015, 02:38:34 pm
I wouldn't mourn for Geert Wilders but I certainly wouldn't want to him to be shot by terrorists.

The usual suspects think that opponents of terrorism must applaud the courageous acts of far-right Islamophobes. I think this exhibit is vile, disrespectful and stupid. I wouldn't shed a tear for Geer Wilders or anyone in this contest if they were to be shot. With that being said, I'm glad they weren't shot. That would be bad because they're people.

What is vile or disrespectful about it?  Nobody ever seems to have an answer as to why a cartoon of Mohammed is offensive whatsoever.  

It's offensive because it incites Islamic hatred for the pure purpose of the provocation of a religious minority. It's offensive because Muslims think it is offensive, vile and disrespectful. This isn't a weird concept to me because I respect the concerns of human beings, even if they're rooted in experiences or theological/philosophical/whatever schemas that I don't understand. Even if I hated Islam (I don't), I would dislike this event because I think that public trolling is undignified garbage that isn't fit for polite society.

In what circumstances do you think it's OK to offend someone's religious views -- is it not OK to question their belief system or how they apply it to public policy or moral decision-making?

(I also think these people are dicks, but the line isn't as clear-cut as "this offends people so it's inappropriate.")
8  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: May 04, 2015, 03:06:28 am
Ah but am I ever going to do that? Moreover, how do I know that I could do that? What if the ideas, formulas, proofs and alternatives are deeply flawed? I'm never going to know because I have no interest in physics. What if I simply don't care? I'd argue that most people don't care about physics or biology or modern medicine but they accept their findings. How is that more rational than going to church on Sunday?

I understand the basic methodology of inquiry used by physicists, chemists, etc.  I assume that they are intellectually dishonest about how they use those methodologies and inquiries, and it's true that I haven't verified that myself.  It's not worth my time to.  In situations where there's widespread disagreement among people whose approach to observation I trust as rational, I'm probably going to be agnostic on the matter.  I don't just arbitrarily adopt a position to have faith in.

That's not the same as endorsing a religious faith.  I don't think most people arrive at their faith because they have thought through the rationale behind their faith, or the rationale of trusting another person to think through the rationale behind their faith.  I don't think most people can explain why they believe one approach to religious belief over another -- something I easily could when explaining why I trust an astronomer but not an astrologer.

I don't think that process is anything like what most people call "faith."  I don't think that most people with "faith" care about the process for arriving at that conclusion, or why it's any more logically compelling than any other process.  Again, it's the difference between faith and deference.  Do you not see those as much different sources of belief?
9  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: May 04, 2015, 12:06:24 am
I agree with you on all counts. I'm interested in the social effects of different religious beliefs that are put into practice. However, I'm not interested in whether or not these beliefs are "rational". They're are as rational as a laymen agreeing with a physicist about the nature of the universe. I cannot interpret the formulas used to prove the existence of the Big Bang. I cannot verify whether they are true or false; logical or illogical. I choose to believe them because I trust academic institutions. Stated differently, I have faith in academic institutions. This is hardly any different than a church-going Christian's faith in God. Obviously, the social effects are different but the belief is about as rational as my belief in academia.

I'm also an agnostic atheist, and I know very few "hard" atheists.  Even most vehement atheists I know merely reject theism as clearly irrational, not God as clearly impossible.

But your analogy is completely flawed, as Tik points out:

It's not the same to have faith in academic institutions as it is to have faith in religion because, if you wanted, you could actually learn the ideas, formulas, proofs, and alternatives  and, much more importantly, try to prove them wrong. This potential puts it in an altogether different category than faith. You understand that you could understand, therefore you believe those that do understand already.

Like Mopsus points out, there are some observation-based arguments for religion:


I know them, and I don't find them compelling rationales for theism at all.  However, if I didn't know them, I wouldn't arbitrarily choose to "have faith" that they were reasonable or not.  Similarly, if there were a concept in physics that was heavily disputed between two groups, and I had no reason to think either had a more sound methodology to reaching conclusions on the concept, I wouldn't "have faith" in one argument.  That wouldn't be rational.

You're basically drawing a false equivalency between deference and faith.
10  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 03, 2015, 11:49:47 pm
Wulfric, are you at all concerned about bringing explicit theological views into policymaking, since it opens the gate to draconian majority enforcement of religious views you may think are wrong?

I really did not expect you to be so authoritarian and radical on this issue.  You are one of the very few people I've ever met who apparently thinks it's just fine to superimpose any and all personal beliefs on public policymaking, and that personal religious beliefs trump a secular harm test in all instances of policymaking.  That just seems so damn perilous to me, but not to you?

Yikes.  That's internally consistent, but it might be the most extreme position I've ever seen on this forum.
11  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb Bush likes controversial sociologist Charles Murray's books on: May 03, 2015, 11:33:23 pm
In the context of this discussion, I'm referring to race. I agree that there's probably some sort of heritable intelligence but this information makes me very uncomfortable. As far as race is concerned, I don't think there's any connection. Adopted children from Africa do as well as white children on IQ tests.

I appreciate your honesty in saying certain findings make you uncomfortable.  To be clear -- this is probably obvious, but I want to say it -- just because I think evidence points one way doesn't mean I like that it does.

This isn't an area of expertise for me, but I've read a few studies on adoption and I do not know which study you're referring to.  I do not recall a study that indicates no IQ difference for children adopted from Africa.  But I can't remember or find an adoption study that measured that.  I'm aware of studies of children adopted from Asia that showed a competing conclusion; I think the adoptees, many of whom were malnourished, outscored their European counterparts in their new home.  Like I said, I don't have exhaustive knowledge, but

No offense Alcon but I don't really care about which argumentative approach you find to be "unsound". This is a forum on the internet. I try to present my arguments in a manner that makes them readable and that presents a narrative. This isn't a court room or a logic class. I'm simply presenting a series of ideas in a narrative format. My narrative is pretty simple: there are a litany of deep flaws that characterize genetic tests. Because I'm not a geneticist or a scientist, I cannot really dig deep into these flaws. I'm a laymen and my role in this conversation is to present some evidence in a nice, readable format.

I didn't say your argumentative approach was unsound.  I said your analysis was unsound.  It is a problem to arbitrarily endorse a certain set of results.  Basically, if you can't explain why you endorse one argument/viewpoint over another besides you prefer to believe one is true, it doesn't seem to be reasonable to be anything but agnostic about the issue.  Maybe you do have a good explanation...but "malaria as an explanatory variable" doesn't suggest you're well-versed enough on this to dismiss the genetic hypothesis like you were.

Which is totally fine!  I just get the sense that you want to reach a conclusion here, and you're finding evidence that matches the conclusion you want.  I also understand why that's really attractive on this issue.  Like you say, this is an issue that could fuel some pretty awful behavior/policy.  But I also have some serious qualms about being disingenuous about empirical evidence -- not just on principle, but also because that can make for some problematic public policy, as well.  And on principle, too...I feel weird about knowingly ignoring/lying about reality.
12  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb Bush likes controversial sociologist Charles Murray's books on: May 03, 2015, 03:57:41 pm
Yes, I understand that and I've seen the same studies, but proposing that malaria counts

Malaria's effects on intelligence does not necessarily suggest that that there is a substantial link between genetic evolution and intelligence: the effects of malaria on cognitive functions are directly related to the effects of the disease. The effects of malaria on the brain, due to high fevers, do not necessarily impact genes. I'm pretty interested in the studies I've read about Sickle Cell Anemia and IQ scores but I can't say that I'm well-versed enough in this field to comment about them.

I absolutely buy the possibility that neurological sequelae from disease can affect IQ.  I also understand how that's not genetic (obviously).  I'm just a little puzzled by your apparent implication that the factors you listed somehow add up to preclude a genetic basis for IQ.  It seems like you're throwing the kitchen sink (that is, every possible argument against heritable intelligence) at the issue in a preemptive attempt to discredit some argument.  That's a really unsound way of analyzing things, and it doesn't successfully discredit the argument you're trying to dismiss.

I mean, you may think Bobloblaw is trying to make some terrible racist point (maybe), but you can't really forward a set of explanatory variables, have someone point out your explanatory variables fail to explain some observed variation, and then act like that's an unreasonable critique of your argument.

Anyways, I'm obviously averse to claims made about "genetic intelligence".

Are you claiming that there isn't evidence that IQ has some very strong heritable elements, or are you somehow limiting this to race when you say "genetic intelligence"?

It's worth studying but should be studied with extreme caution and a sense of ethical responsibility. I'd also add that in an age where health outcomes are increasingly unequal and biotechnology is rapidly advancing towards developing neuroenhancement procedures, I worry that we may live in an era where racism is more easily justified. This is the only area where I think being "anti-science" could make a degree of sense.

Could you explain what you mean here more precisely?  Obviously, it's a bad idea to use IQ as a pretext to do manipulative, disruptive, and violating social policy, and there are a lot of racist jerks who would be into that kind of social policy.  But how is that "anti-science" to not pursue those policies?  It's not anti-science to elect to not use a technology because it's a terrible idea.  That would be like saying it's "anti-science" to not shoot a flamethrower on a crowded street.  It's not "anti-science" to not fire a flamethrower recklessly just because a flamethrower is a form of science.  It would be "anti-science" to deny the existence of the flamethrower, or deny its observable effects.  ("Anti-science" is probably the wrong phrase, anyway.  Let's go with "willfully delusional.")

Or are you saying that, even if studies were to find an unexplained linkage between IQ and race after controls, we should do our best to discredit these findings, because they would feed into policies and attitudes you don't like?  Just to be clear, I totally think that kind of finding would feed into racist jerks...but does that warrant dismissing any such finding, and accusing those who observed it of being lying, racist jerks?  I think there are obvious, glaring, gross problems with that approach, too.
13  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 02, 2015, 11:27:46 pm
Because he believes that God says that's wrong, "and no one can ever say otherwise."  You just ended a sentence with "and no one can ever say otherwise" and you're asking how he can have a rigid, faith-based view?

Not up on your Update memes, I see?

God dude, no

Understand now, though Tongue
14  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Jeb Bush likes controversial sociologist Charles Murray's books on: May 02, 2015, 11:20:28 pm
Perking up a bit here at your mention of malaria as an explanatory variable in regional IQ differences.  There's a study that successfully controlled to find malaria as a factor, in a way that somehow eliminates the possibility of genetic intelligence being a factor?  How?

I'm not sure how you justify the statement "there's no indication of genetic intelligence," if you're simultaneously accepting the malaria studies you allude to as compelling, unless you're presenting a really narrow definition of "genetic intelligence" I'm unaware of.
15  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 02, 2015, 11:11:47 pm


These are faithful Christians entering into the sacrament of marriage before God in His church, and no one can ever say otherwise.

Because he believes that God says that's wrong, "and no one can ever say otherwise."  You just ended a sentence with "and no one can ever say otherwise" and you're asking how he can have a rigid, faith-based view?
16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 02, 2015, 09:25:55 pm
So, basically, you think it's totally acceptable to enforce any of your religious beliefs through public policy, and the only thing stopping you is a vague sense of guilt?  And you think there is nothing wrong with theologizing public opinion, and no moral reason to limit it -- you just disagree with some theologies?  And you have no qualms with this argument?
Well, it's not something I'm fully comfortable with, but that's just the devil trying to dissuade me from following god. God expects me to get past the temptation to give into the devil and considers the times that I don't as moral failures on my part. Forgivable through Christ's sacrifice, sure. But, they're still moral failures.

I'm trying to get at what situations you think it's inappropriate to theologize public policy, and as far as I can tell (correct me if I'm wrong) your answer appears to be "it's totally fine unless I disagree with the theology"...

Why do you oppose mandating Christianity and every aspect of Christian morality?  Or do you?

Sorry for fixating on this, but you're a lot more extreme on this issue than I assumed.
17  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 02, 2015, 06:20:39 pm
So, basically, you think it's totally acceptable to enforce any of your religious beliefs through public policy, and the only thing stopping you is a vague sense of guilt?  And you think there is nothing wrong with theologizing public opinion, and no moral reason to limit it -- you just disagree with some theologies?  And you have no qualms with this argument?

Just nailing this down before I explain why I think it's a problem.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 01, 2015, 10:46:03 am
All right, I think you can understand why that's a pretty terrifying position already -- but to show why, let me poke around a little more.

From the perspective of propriety of state activity, do you have no problem with Islamist states that enforce extreme religious views?  You wouldn't have any problem with a state, say, enforcing female genital mutilation to encourage purity (besides that your personal religious views don't demand that)?

You think that's a totally acceptable role for the state, though, if 50%+1 of voters in that state say it is, and that they have no moral obligation to consider a secular harm test before enforcing their will through public policy?

I don't endorse the Islamic state ideology. As far as I'm concerned, their religion, and the Islam religion in general, is an utter falsehood that no one should follow. Genital mutilation is wrong for obvious reasons, and if scripture commanded it, it would be a commandment that I could not in good conscience follow.

You didn't really answer my question.

Do you think the people who have those religious beliefs don't sincerely hold them?  Do you think they don't care about harm, and are just bad people who don't care about doing the wrong thing, unlike you?  That's obviously not the case, dude.  Your argument basically comes down to "oh, of course I wouldn't do that!  I'm a good person, so even if I believed that was true and moral, I'd feel too uncomfortable to do it!"  Either you think that vast swaths of the world somehow just don't care about their neighbors or daughters, and don't care about being good people, or you know damn well that those people think they're doing the right thing for their religion, just like you do.

So, with that in mind, do you think it's appropriate for them to be crafting public policy based entirely on their personal religious ideology, or do you think they have some obligation to do use a secular harm test when applying personal views to political ideology?  

If so, when?  You just stated that you think it's a personal failure that you're unwilling to implement your religious views, even in cases where they cause grave harm.  Either you genuinely don't think there's any moral limit on theologizing public policy, which is a scary extreme political belief, or you do, and you just don't want to concede it, maybe because it makes your position on same-sex marriage look problematic?
19  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 01, 2015, 12:27:31 am
All right, I think you can understand why that's a pretty terrifying position already -- but to show why, let me poke around a little more.

From the perspective of propriety of state activity, do you have no problem with Islamist states that enforce extreme religious views?  You wouldn't have any problem with a state, say, enforcing female genital mutilation to encourage purity (besides that your personal religious views don't demand that)?

You think that's a totally acceptable role for the state, though, if 50%+1 of voters in that state say it is, and that they have no moral obligation to consider a secular harm test before enforcing their will through public policy?
20  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: May 01, 2015, 12:16:48 am
Because I have a conscience as well, and I simply cannot bring myself to follow a commandment that I vehemently disagree with. Sure, maybe the perfect christian would be willing to enact every level of harm on society. But it's not something I can in good conscience bring myself to do.

So you consider your inability to gravely harm others in accordance of your religious beliefs to be a personal moral failure?  That inability is not something you think is right, since you're fine with harming people less severely.  In fact, you think it would be right to harm them (even gravely) through public policy, if that was consistent with scripture.  It's just that, if the harm was grave enough, you'd be unable to support it, because it would be too emotionally upsetting for you -- not because you think it's wrong to theologize public policy, or wrong to harm people (even gravely) if it's compatible with scripture, but because it would be emotionally upsetting for you if the harm was great enough.  Correct?

If that's the case, it's at least consistent, and I'll move on to explaining why I'd encourage you to reconsider your support of theologizing public policy.
21  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: April 30, 2015, 11:52:14 pm
Wulfric clearly needs to move to a different part of Minnesota and become a hipster Christian instead.

go away, dad is trying to have his grown-up business conversation

(<3)
22  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: April 30, 2015, 11:48:05 pm
Actually, Wulfric, let me start by posing you the question.  Do you believe there are any situations where it is inappropriate to enforce your conceptualization of "good" and "bad" -- versus a secular conceptualization -- when making public policy?  If so, why is it inappropriate there, but appropriate when it comes to your position on same-sex marriage?

This isn't a trap.  I'd just like to hear your logic first.
I'm not aware of any scripture inconsistencies in my platform. But if I were to go against scripture on anything, it would be because I believe that denying a certain benefit to society is awfully inhumane. Denying SS couples some of the rights of marriage is not something I feel is "awfully inhumane".

I appreciate the response, but you haven't really answered my question very clearly.  You're saying that you believe that government policy should be formed based on your interpretation of Christian scripture unless the results are "awfully inhumane"?

If so, why would it matter to you if the results are "awfully inhumane"?  That's a serious question.  Why are you willing to do (from a secular analysis) net-harm from your beliefs, but not anything so net-harmful it's "awfully inhumane"?  Your belief about religious truth is what it is; I do not understand why any level of harm would trump that for you.  After all, you claim you're not at all bothered by the idea of theologizing public policy.
23  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: April 30, 2015, 09:18:37 pm
Actually, Wulfric, let me start by posing you the question.  Do you believe there are any situations where it is inappropriate to enforce your conceptualization of "good" and "bad" -- versus a secular conceptualization -- when making public policy?  If so, why is it inappropriate there, but appropriate when it comes to your position on same-sex marriage?

This isn't a trap.  I'd just like to hear your logic first.
24  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: April 30, 2015, 08:30:36 pm
^ Kind of irritated by your reply.  I wasn't engaging in academic bullsh**t.  I'm engaging in a logical analysis of arguments about reality, and how we determine what good is.

Your graph is asserting, what, that it's human nature to reverse-engineer information to substantiate your beliefs?  OK, yeah, and?  What is sociology giving us here, an explanation that religious faith and other self-referential beliefs are a human tendency?  Of course it is.  Do you think that means we shouldn't bother to figure out when we're being deluded or irrational about information-gathering?
25  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Gay marriage opponents' strategy uncertain in 2015 on: April 30, 2015, 04:22:04 pm
I don't know, you could try not being disingenuous instead?  It's one thing to present a sound argument based on a premise you don't share with the person who's listening.  It's another to present an argument that you know is just plain logically unsound.

I'll write up an explanation of my concerns about your religious rationale as soon as I can.  Sorry if there's some delay on that.
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