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June 2nd, 2009, 13:34
Couple of short but interesting articles touching on theory of knowledge that struck a cord with me after having just read through some of the recent threads here:

Perils of pop philosophy
http://www.juliansanchez.com/2009/06…op-philosophy/

and
Climate Change and Argumentative Fallacies
http://www.juliansanchez.com/2009/04…ive-fallacies/

which was interesting for the idea of the 'one way hash arguement'

Come to think of it, there’s a certain class of rhetoric I’m going to call the “one way hash” argument. Most modern cryptographic systems in wide use are based on a certain mathematical asymmetry: You can multiply a couple of large prime numbers much (much, much, much, much) more quickly than you can factor the product back into primes. A one-way hash is a kind of “fingerprint” for messages based on the same mathematical idea: It’s really easy to run the algorithm in one direction, but much harder and more time consuming to undo. Certain bad arguments work the same way—skim online debates between biologists and earnest ID afficionados armed with talking points if you want a few examples: The talking point on one side is just complex enough that it’s both intelligible—even somewhat intuitive—to the layman and sounds as though it might qualify as some kind of insight. The rebuttal, by contrast, may require explaining a whole series of preliminary concepts before it’s really possible to explain why the talking point is wrong. So the setup is “snappy, intuitively appealing argument without obvious problems” vs. “rebuttal I probably don’t have time to read, let alone analyze closely.”
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June 2nd, 2009, 18:40
Interesting reads, the author really put the finger on what's bothering me the most about public discourse. Even though I don't have a very deep understanding of any field of knowledge (yet!) I'm too often troubled by that "Surely it can't be that simple?" feeling, especially when people make short, neat snap arguments or reject a widely held view among the experts of the field in question.

It would sure be nice if everyone was a lot more knowledgeable of the big issues of our age but in the lack of that I understand and respect e.g. the scientific method well enough to accept "arguments from authority" as a good substitute to real intimate understanding.
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June 3rd, 2009, 00:46
I find that a LOT in religious arguments. Someone can say there's an inconsistency, for example, in the Bible, but for me to explain why it isn't really one, requires a knowledge of language, history, culture, usage, etc. As the person making the accusation is rarely interested in a real answer (their mind is already made up), I can no longer be bothered to spend the time necessary to write a 2 page reply!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 3rd, 2009, 06:52
The difference, though, is that you're assuming the conclusion — and your explanation is merely an extremely convoluted rationalization for it. You approach the Bible with the a priori assumption that it's divinely inspired and inerrant, and then try to fit what it says around that assumption. That's completely different than approaching it as any ancient text and trying to figure out what it has to do with actual historical events. It also has bugger all to do with the search for truth.
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June 3rd, 2009, 08:07
That sir, is a matter of opinion and there we will agree to disagree!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 3rd, 2009, 10:57
And I agree with Prime Junta. If one's goal is to prove a text coherent and valid one will have a different approach than if one's goal is to study what it can tell us about past events. If an archeologist or historian approach an old wooden item they will approach it through certain methods to reveal what it can tell them about itself. The theologian is more of a carpenter that try to make it seem as new using glue, nail and wooden polish. The historian or archaeologist of course see such practice as fruitless. They are concerned with learning what can be learned. The theologian is instead driven by a certain agenda that can be political, religious or emotional. If one doesn't share that agenda one won't be able to see the point with it.

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June 3rd, 2009, 16:56
Since no one in an entirely objective observer it's all pretty pointless. One says you come with an agenda, well so does the other.
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June 3rd, 2009, 17:35
Originally Posted by ffbj View Post
Since no one in an entirely objective observer it's all pretty pointless. One says you come with an agenda, well so does the other.
Experience have no limits that need to be reached to be valid, unless compared with that of another person. That means that more experience is still more experience, and a non-observation is not equal to a observation, regardless of individual limitations or bias.

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An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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June 3rd, 2009, 21:57
I liked the part that was quoted and see it much the same way.

During my second year on the debate team in school, an effective technique caught on like wildfire. It was known as, "the spread," and it was simple and effective. Just about everyone started using the technique, despite admitting how they thought it ruined debates.

You would use the spread when you were on the negative, and all you had to do was raise as many legitimate arguments as you could in the time allotted. Each side was allotted the same amount of time, but more time was needed to effectively respond to a negative-side attack than was needed to make one. So the negative-team effort switched from quality to quantity.

That's what you see on the Internet. You see obviously-smart people attacking obviously-stupid ones by overwhelming them. Not that there are allotted times here, but making long, careful posts on the Net takes a lot of time (easier if you're smart). Even when someone manages to respond with a decent argument, no intellectual honesty is allocated to responding to it.

I've seen it like a bazillion times. It's boring. And it's lame. So lame that I sometimes have to remind myself that it's not stupidity.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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June 4th, 2009, 02:14
I'd just like to point out to JM, that I trained as an historian and have an honours degree in Ancient and Mediaeval history LONG before I trained as a Theologian!!

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June 4th, 2009, 02:52
Non observation not equivalent to observation, in what way? And what, pray tell, is a non-observation? Just some made up term? An observation is an observation. My observation was that everyone has an agenda. i.e. every observation is tainted by the the agenda of the observer. In this particular case where you both have clearly stated agenda's, the chance of objective observations by either of you is rather poor. I may be so bold as to observe that I am already aware of the general thrust of your observations before you even state them.

squeek. Interesting post about that debating technique. Where what debate is really to reveal, the truth, becomes clouded over by a particular method of befuddling your opponents. Which is one reason I never really cared for debate much. Plus I never really got into argument for the sake of argument alone.
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June 4th, 2009, 02:57
But how can you honestly be a historian if you accept the literal interpretation of the Bible? It's like someone claiming to be a scientist who believes in Creation …well, you can't call it a theory, since it has no scientific basis, so Creation…. stuff.

Edit for clarification: I don't mean to come across as insulting - I am just honestly surprised. I can't think of any modern, well-regarded historian who views the Bible as historically accurate/infallible - and I am including men of serious faith in that list. I know people who are extremely devout worshipers of your god who easily point out where the Bible is wrong/has flaws/contradicts itself/etc - hell, my first religion class at my Catholic highschool listed in the first chapter a gigantic list of errors in the Bible.
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June 4th, 2009, 03:35
I know several people with PHD's in science who believe in Creation!!

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June 4th, 2009, 03:43
I believe you, Corwin, but those three letters, they alone don't make anyone a good scientist

Btw., all the scientists I know — and that's a lot, since I am in academia — do not believe in creationism.

Edit: actually, through Damian I know that there is a nuclear physicist writing some creationist books, and one astronomer, but those are two among a few thousand. When I started my studies, I got to know two medical students who were in some strange Christian sect who may also have believed in Creation, but then most physicians don't become scientists
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June 4th, 2009, 16:04
Yeah. I just really see how anyone with a deep scientific background can believe in special creation, or intelligent design, or whatever new dress has been put on that pig. It's still a pig. Guess it's just more evidence how truly irrational we are as human beings, when supposedly intelligent people can believe in things like that.
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June 4th, 2009, 16:35
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
It's like someone claiming to be a scientist who believes in Creation
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
I know several people with PHD's in science who believe in Creation!!
It's indeed possible to have a PhD and still believe that there were some kind of driving force behind everything, especially if you have a discipline that is unrelated to biblical claims, like math or physics. But it's a humongous difference between accepting genesis as literally true and "believing in creation", and it's a humongous difference between a Geologist PhD and a English PhD reading the same source.

If you want an analogy you should probably point out that it's difficult to be a natural scientist in any of the relevant disciplines (geology, genetics, biology etc) and still take genesis literally.

That said, the bible isn't relevant to history more than an insight in how people used to think. It's also one of the first lawbooks known to us.

Corwin said;
I trained as an historian and have an honours degree in Ancient and Mediaeval history LONG before I trained as a Theologian!!
The "long before" here is relevant. The consensus among historians regarding the relevant region have shifted quite a bit due to higher demand on critical thinking, a higher level of academic freedom, new and more effective methods in archeology, new discoveries, better exchange of information due to better communications etc. Treating the bible as a historybook was the way things were done a few generations ago. Doing so today would be met with suspicion. It's also a matter of which university and the culture around it. Saying the bible is literally true in a west/north European university would not be met with the same reaction as it does in a southern American university.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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June 4th, 2009, 23:40
How about a Canadian University? (Toronto).

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June 5th, 2009, 00:26
Toronto is pretty moderate as far as I know, but even in a place as moderate as Sweden there have been a tremendous change in the past 50 years. Change in attitudes allows for topics that was previously unquestionable to be openly discussed and plenty of new perspectives, and discoveries for that matter, have turned history upside down. Access to instant information today allow for new historical questions to be instantly discussed and information can be compiled in a way that simply wasn't possible just 20 years ago. New demands pop up as well, with new questions to answer such as the postcolonial perspective. History is changing when the questions you ask change.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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