Call For Writers!

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The Rationality Unleashed! Project is expanding rapidly, so we’re currently looking for more writers for our various project. Please see the project and topics below.

Rationality Unleashed!

Racial inequality

Feminism

Israel/Palestine

Economics

Third Parties (New political parties in America)

International Correspondence

Environmentalism (science based, please)

We’ll accept pitches for any other topic. These are simply the primary ones we’re looking for right now.

 

The Foodentists

Diet

Nutrition

Food Fads

Countering Food Babe, Dr. Oz, Natural News, Et Al

 

The Fish Tomato

This site is pure satire. We’re looking for writers to write about topics in science and skepticism in a hilariously satirical way.

 

If you’re interested, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net

We’ll need an email address, wordpress account name, a bio and photo/avatar you want used on your bio and posts, and a writing sample if you have one. If you haven’t written before, that’s fine, just let us know. We welcome new writers.

 

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Bioethics and Ethical Philosophy student at Cleveland State University, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes. He writes about science, technology, politics, human rights, feminism, religion, and any other topic that catches his eye.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

More Sexism and Anti-Feminism in the Atheist Community

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I was on JT Eberhard‘s page today. He posted a nice shout out to Seth Andrews and Matt Dillahunty, and got a few pleasant and fun responses from there. Then entered Drakulian Rathburn, who has a lot of mutual friends as myself in the atheist community, with a strangely combative comment for the thread.

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So, I asked the obvious question. How, exactly, was A+ designed to cause division? That led to quote a bit foot stomping and refusing to support his claims, while of course making more and more claims without basis.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to bring feminism into the mix.

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He bounced away from the topic for a minute, but after being pushed further for evidence, he went straight into feminism with a fury. The level of ignorance was amazing to watch.

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Then he must have finally gotten really upset with being asked to actually prove his assertions, so he just went for it, damn the consequences.

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It was at this point that he blocked me. But it didn’t end there! He has a friend!

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So, where should I start? The problems here are too many to count.

First, if you claim to be a rational, thinking person, and you refuse to uphold the burden of proof, and make more claims instead of providing evidence for claims you’ve made, then you’re lying; you are NOT a rational, thinking person. You’re an ideologue.

Second, Feminism does not promote the superiority of anyone. It promotes equality. If you don’t know at least that about Feminism, then you haven’t studied enough to even talk about the subject.

Third, something like a “safe space” created for women to not feel subjugated or harassed isn’t created for the benefit of men. It shouldn’t be created for the benefit of men. If you’re biggest argument against a safe space for women is that it doesn’t benefit men…you are the problem.

Fourth, if you’re arguing about Feminism and you start calling women “twats” or other derogatory terms, you lose any credibility in the discussion. You’re a misogynist who has nothing to add to any meaningful discourse.

Finally, if you want to debate someone, and you open the conversation by insulting them, you’re a spiteful toddler who shouldn’t be allowed in public unsupervised.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

An atheist that Believes

670pxAtheism_symbol.svg

 

That’s right, folks. You read it correctly. More to the point, a recent CNN article “Meet the Atheist … who believes in God” was published on 6/10/14.

 

Meet Frank Schaeffer and his opinion piece to CNN.  Mr. Schaeffer has written one of the most vocabulary challenged articles on the subject of belief and non-belief that I have seen in quite some time.

 

Let’s have an excerpt from the first twelve sentences:

 

“All the public debates between celebrity atheists and evangelical pastors are as meaningless as literary awards and Oscar night. They are meaningless because participants lack the objectivity to admit that our beliefs have less to do with facts than with our personal needs and cultural backgrounds.

The words we use to label ourselves are just as empty. What exactly is a “believer?”. And for that matter what is an “atheist?” 

Who is the objective observer to define these terms. Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account.Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Let me explain. I believe that life evolved by natural selection. I believe that evolutionary psychology explains away altruism and debunks love, and that brain chemistry undermines the illusion of free will and personhood. I also believe that a spiritual reality hovering over, in and through me calls me to love, trust and hear the voice of my creator.”

Mr. Schaeffer says that we need a new term that describes a person that doesn’t have a belief in a day to day, in your face, fire and brimstone, old testament god. But, this same person might also believe that there is a being behind the scenes. One that brought about the beginning of everything, but then decided to step back and just let things develop as they may . The question to the answer of 42 of Douglas Adams’ fame, if you will. Interesting and provocative argument for the academics to sit down and debate about a new term for this new and exciting concept that you have come across.

 

Of course, if you have made it to this point, you probably know exactly where I am going with this all. But in the interest of those that may have just stumbled across this post in your meanderings around the interwebz, there just so happens that there IS a term for people that believe as Mr. Schaeffer does: deism

 

Deism is: “not a specific religion but rather a particular perspective on the nature of God. Deists believe that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. As such, there are a variety of common religious beliefs that deists do not accept.

 

As another bit of icing on the cake, Mr. Frank Schaeffer asked us to consider apophatic theology. Apophatic theology is an attempt to describe God by what cannot be said of Him. Many of the terms used to describe God’s attributes have within them an apophatic quality. For example, when we say God is infinite, we’re also saying is that God is not finite (i.e., not limited).” As Dr. Evil would say….”rrriight”. For those of you that having a working knowledge of logical fallacies, you may recognize the tautology inherent to that notion. For those a little less geeky about logical fallacies, a tautology (in formal logic) refers to a statement that must be true in every interpretation by its very construction. By defining God by what God is not, you can always arrive at the conclusion that you want to come to. Also, I find it highly dishonest by calling apophatic theology just “the theology of not knowing”. By being that ambiguous, the lay reader can all to easily draw a correlation between apophaticism and agnosticism. Although I cannot be 100% of Schaeffer’s motivation to word that as it is, but it smacks of an attempt to blur the lines between the two.

Here is one of Schaeffer’s claims that I found truly insulting:

“If you want to be sure you have “the truth” about yourself and our universe, then prepare to go mad. Or prepare to turn off your brain and cling to some form or other of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular.” As Tim Minchin put so amusingly in his song Storm:

“You’re so sure of your position
But you’re just closed-minded
I think you’ll find
Your faith in Science and Tests
Is just as blind
As the faith of any fundamentalist.

“Wow, thats a good point, let me think for a bit”
Oh wait, my mistake, its absolute bullshit.
Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.”

Exactly. Absolute bullshit. I no more cling to anything in the secular world than I would to a deity. Nothing is truly beyond reproach. All it takes to change the mind of a skeptic is empirical data proving otherwise. A caveat though: the more fundamental the thing that is being questioned is, the greater the evidence must be. Pass that? Again, nothing is truly sacred to the skeptical atheist

And, at last, we come to the very LAST sentence in the article:

“You—like some sort of quantum mechanicals physics experiment—will always be in two places at once.”

Ahhhh, to bask in the glory of the bane of every religious or pseudo-scientific practitioner, quantum mechanics. If you are not one of the few theoretical physicists that have dedicated their professional lives to pulling apart that Gordian Knot, the instant you utter “quantum mechanics” in defense of or analogy TO your claim, I dismiss everything you have previously said and will be not be truly listening to anything that you will be saying.

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

 

Sunday Best

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One only need to go to the store, a restaurant, or simply out driving, on a Sunday to be able to aptly refute the concept that being religious makes someone somehow a good person. I spent some time out today, and it really illustrated this fact better than I ever could with words alone.

In the course of about two hours, I encountered hundreds of people dressed in their Sunday Best. Now, these aren’t their formal wear, for weddings or funerals. There’s a palpable difference in clothing between that and what someone sets aside purely for the purpose of that Sunday ritual called church. They’re sporting crosses and Jesus t-shirts and all the trappings of being deluded by the divine.

And they are MEAN.

They would cut me off and scream at me from their car, in front of their children, also dressed for church. They play bumper carts in stores, because they have to get done fast, and nobody better get in their way! At a buffet, someone even nearly knocked my food out of my hand, so they could get to their table a second or two faster by cutting me off.

I heard profanity, vitriol, yelling at children, yelling at each other. It brought back distinct memories of the days, long ago, when I attended church myself.

This may be an anecdotal rant, but I’m sure many of you are sporting a knowing grin as you read, because you see it too.

As a non-believer, and a Humanist, I strive everyday to treat people with respect, and love an ethical and morally sound life, focusing on the human well being of those around me. My “Sunday Best” has nothing to do with clothing, or miming some words in some building with a cross. My “Sunday Best” is my everyday best.

Those who are Humanists and read this know what I mean. Those are religious and read this, consider the above words the next time you put on your “Sunday Best” and head off to church. Your religious fervor doesn’t make you a good person. Your actions do.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Dr. Carl Sagan, Prophet

I am about to piss everyone off for about a minute:
Dr. Sagan was a prophet.

If you have managed to not drop your phone or laptop in disgust, sent me an extremely hated filled email, or sought me down to execute me prisoner style between reading the above and now, I applaud your self restraint!
I deem Dr. Sagan a scientific prophet.
In this article, he makes a few specific “predictions” in the that have come true.
We now DO have a grade school lack of science education, we DO see the apathy bred into today’s youth in regards to STEM, we DO see the influence of religion on the laws and policies in our nation. Dr. Sagan seems to have proven that prophesies can be real, but only in the context of the right mix of science, critical thinking and skepticism.
To wax philosophical for just a moment, Dr. Sagan’s words echo down the halls of time from the past for us to listen to here in the future.

We might do well to heed them.

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/wonder_and_skepticis/m

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

A disheartening experience with Dr. Lawrence Krauss

I recently attended the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS). It was generally a wonderful experience. I loved meeting many of the people I have conversed with online in the real world and also meeting with many of my skeptical heroes ( I’m looking at you, SGU crew, George Hrab,Dr. Cady Coleman, and Julia Galef). But, I was also witness to a a bit of the disreputable side of our movement.

I introduce you to Dr. Lawrence Krauss. A prominent physicist and popular science communicator. Also, in my recent personal experience watching him talk at NECSS, a bit of a self absorbed curmudgeon. He also, in my opinion, is more than a bit sexist.

During his keynote speech, Dr. Krauss was correct in all of his science and physics,yet he came across as dismissive of the intelligence of the assembled crowd. With repeated statements like, “if you had paid attention in geometry class…” and, “had you listened to your physics teacher, you would remember this formula…”, I found him distasteful at the least and offensive at the most. Granted, we all might not have his aptitude to grasp physics at the level that Dr. Krauss can, but to demean his sympathetic audience? Not needed. Being smart does not give you license to be a smart ass.

The next day, He was the guest host of Rationally Speaking with Dr. Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef. This is where I had my biggest point of contention with Dr. Krauss. He all but ignored the two hosts. Dr. Pigliucci got polite (but sparse) conversation. Julia though, got none of this. Dr. Krauss either ignored her questions, only allowed her to get only barely into her question, or was nodding/shaking his head during her questions. It seemed to me, he was only tolerating her. I have listened to Julia during all of the RS podcasts. She is not worthy of dismissing and often asks questions that are true insights into the given subjects.

What really brought all of these thoughts into focus was my delving into the Skeptics Guide to the Universe archives.  The SGU crew had Dr. Krauss as a guest on episode #124. While listening to him speak back then, I can see why he became a popular science communicator. But it is amazing to see what seven years and popularity can do to a person.

 

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Ad Ignorantiam

Ad Ignorantiam

Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam ( or Ad Ignorantiam, for short) means “argument from ignorance”. This is a fun fallacy, everyone!

Before I start on the fallacy itself, let’s start with a caveat. Never confuse ignorance with stupidity. Those are, or can be, two mutually exclusive topics. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge or information. Stupidity is the lack of the ability to learn and understand things. To surmise that your opponent’s argument is ignorant is one thing. To assume that your opponent’s argument is stupid is a slippery slope to a fallacy itself. Even after your co-debater has proven themselves to be lacking of factual knowledge, you cannot say that they are stupid.

When you boil this fallacy down, it basically follows ,the formula of, “what I believe is true because we don’t know that it can’t be true”. This could be difficult to deal with, as the person just might be right. The “trick” is, as you probably have surmised, that we have critical thinking on our side.

Many of the arguments that you might make if you travel the circuits of pseudoscience or religion will be against this very fallacy. A Bigfoot believer will tout that his/her dubious hair samples will outweigh the fact that no definite DNA has been produced. The “UFOlogist” (and this one is the funniest one to me as it’s just that rich) that their blurry photo or video proves that the unidentified flying object has been identified as an unidentified flying object. Or, one that can truly affect us all, the Creationist or Intelligent Design proponent that claims that evolution is false (therefore god is real) because that humans cannot be “proved” to have sprung fully formed as a species because the fossil record doesn’t provide such evidence. This is known as the “god of the gaps”.

When dealing with such arguments, one of the best concepts to use is Occam’s Razor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam’s_razor ). Occam’s razor states, that when given multiple hypothesis’, the one with the least amount of assumptions should be chosen. How is this relevant, you might ask. Well, let’s break down the three ideas in the paragraph above:

1: Which is more likely? That there is a breeding population of several thousand large primates located the world over that have managed to escape pervasive video/camera ubiquity, definitive DNA analysis, or just a corpse. Or that the argument is flawed?

2: Which is more likely? That an alien race has managed to cross the eons of space but cannot navigate the “wilds” of earth and crash, need to perform experiments on cattle, can only communicate through designs in crops, or haven’t figured out that wherever they have seen people (if they wish to stay secret) that they need to avoid such places.

3: Which is more likely? That “man” sprang fully formed from the dust of the earth from the will of a being that is unknowable, and that “woman” was born of a rib of the man that was made of dust. That a talking snake persuaded someone to take a bite of the fruit the tree of “Knowledge”, therefore introducing pain and disease upon the people that “he loves”, not to mention that he would kill the majority of them. Or is it a passing off of a collection of tales from the millennium preceding it?

 

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.