Sunday

THE "COYNE FALLACY" NAMED AFTER JERRY COYNE

This is the most-people-believe-what’s-false-therefore-it’s-false fallacy, or the Coyne fallacy, named after its most frequent user, Jerry Coyne. This fallacy is used to reject a proposition because most people misunderstand or hold false beliefs about that proposition. So that if the average church or temple goer has a definition of God that suffers certain inconsistencies, therefore God doesn’t exist. If you accept that then you’d have to believe that since the average citizen has mistaken ideas about evolution (holding to Intelligent Design, say), therefore evolution is false. Truth is not a vote.

FROM http://wmbriggs.com/post/11494/

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Jerry Coyne laughs tries to dismiss it but he has a very poor understanding of philosophy. he engages in "foolosophy" (love of foolishness) rather than philosophy (love of wisdom).

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FROM philosopher Edwad Fesser.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/the-pointlessness-of-jerry-coyne.html

People have asked me to comment on the recent spat between Jerry Coyne and Ross Douthat. As longtime readers of this blog know from bitter experience, there’s little point in engaging with Coyne on matters of philosophy and theology. He is neither remotely well-informed, nor fair-minded, nor able to make basic distinctions or otherwise to reason with precision. Nor, when such foibles are pointed out to him, does he show much interest in improving. ...

Naturally, his incompetence is coupled with a preposterous degree of compensatory self-confidence. As I once pointed out about Dawkins, Coyne may by now have put himself in a position that makes it psychologically impossible for him even to perceive serious criticism. The problem is that his errors are neither minor, nor occasional, nor committed in the shadows, nor expressed meekly. He commits a howler every time he opens his mouth, and he opens it very frequently, very publicly, and very loudly. His blunders are of a piece, so that to confess one would be to confess half a decade’s worth -- to acknowledge what everyone outside his combox already knows, viz. that he is exactly the kind of bigot he claims to despise. That is a level of humiliation few human beings can bear. Hence the defense mechanism of training oneself to see only ignorance and irrationality even in the most learned and sober of one’s opponents; indeed, to see it even before one sees those opponents. And so we have the spectacle of Coyne’s article last week on David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God, wherein he launches a 2800 word attack on a book he admits he has not read. The sequel of self-delusion, it seems, is self-parody.

Still, it is worthwhile responding now and again to people like Coyne, so that bystanders who wouldn’t otherwise know any better can see just how pathetic are the “arguments” of New Atheists. ...

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FROM philosopher Bill Vallicella.

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2012/11/the-abysmally-ignorant-jerry-coyne.html

The Abysmally Ignorant Jerry Coyne
Jerry Coyne complains:

Another problem is that scientists like me are intimidated by philosophical jargon, and hence didn’t interrupt the monologues to ask for clarification for fear of looking stupid. I therefore spent a fair amount of time Googling stuff like “epistemology” and “ontology” (I can never get those terms straight since I rarely use them).

This is an amazing confession. It shows that the man is abysmally ignorant outside his specialty. He is not wondering about the distinction between de dicto and de re, but about a Philosophy 101 distinction. It would be as if a philosopher couldn't distinguish between velocity and acceleration, or mass and weight, or a scalar and a vector, or thought that a light-year was a measure of time.

Despite his ignorance of the simplest distinctions, Coyne is not bashful about spouting off on topics he knows nothing about such as free will. Lawrence Krauss is another of this scientistic crew. And Dawkins. And Hawking and Mlodinow. And . . . . Their arrogance stands in inverse relation to their ignorance. A whole generation of culturally-backward and half-educated scientists does not bode well for the future.

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FROM philosopher Massimo Pigliucci.

http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/jerry-coyne-then-and-now.html

But when it comes to writing for the general public, I suggest that scientists stick to what they know best, unless they are willing to engage the literature of the field(s) that they wish to comment upon. When Coyne makes statements of the type “anybody doing any kind of science should abandon his or her faith if they wish to become a philosophically consistent scientist”, he literally does not know what he is talking about because he does not have a grasp of what it means to be “philosophically consistent” in this context. He has of course no obligation to study philosophy, but then he should refrain from writing about it as a matter of intellectual honesty toward his readers.

Friday

DANIEL DENNETT ON HOW TO COMPOSE A SUCCESSFUL CRITICAL COMMENTARY





FROM Daniel Dennett "Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking" (W. Norton & Co: 2014) p.25

... a list of rules promulgated many years ago by the social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport [Rapoport’s Rules ] ...

How to compose a successful critical commentary:
1 - You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
2 - You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
3 - You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
4 - Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

DEFINITION OF GOD


From David Bentley Hart "The Experience of God : being, consciousness, bliss" (Yale University Press:2013) p. 30 ff

To speak of “God” properly, then—to use the word in a sense consonant with the teachings of orthodox Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Bahá’í, a great deal of antique paganism, and so forth—is to speak of the one infinite source of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things. God so understood is not something posed over against the universe, in addition to it, nor is he the universe itself. He is not a “being,” at least not in the way that a tree, a shoemaker, or a god is a being; he is not one more object in the inventory of things that are, or any sort of discrete object at all. Rather, all things that exist receive their being continuously from him, who is the infinite wellspring of all that is, in whom (to use the language of the Christian scriptures) all things live and move and have their being. In one sense he is “beyond being,” if by “being” one means the totality of discrete, finite things. In another sense he is “being itself,” in that he is the inexhaustible source of all reality, the absolute upon which the contingent is always utterly dependent, the unity and simplicity that underlies and sustains the diversity of finite and composite things. Infinite being, infinite consciousness, infinite bliss, from whom we are, by whom we know and are known, and in whom we find our only true consummation. All the great theistic traditions agree that God, understood in this proper sense, is essentially beyond finite comprehension; hence, much of the language used of him is negative in form and has been reached only by a logical process of abstraction from those qualities of finite reality that make it insufficient to account for its own existence. All agree as well, however, that he can genuinely be known: that is, reasoned toward, intimately encountered, directly experienced with a fullness surpassing mere conceptual comprehension.

Sunday

ATTEMPTING TO MEASURE AN IMMATERIAL GOD WITH SCIENCE IS A CATEGORY MISTAKE



Attempting to measure an immaterial God with science is a category mistake. Science is unable to measure an immaterial God since science is limited to measuring objects in time and space.

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FROM https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/category_mistake

category mistake
(also category error)

NOUN Logic

The error of assigning to something a quality or action which can only properly be assigned to things of another category, for example treating abstract concepts as though they had a physical location.

LOGIC IS THE DOMAIN OF PHILOSOPHY NOT SCIENCE OR ATHEISM

Logic is firmly within the domain of Philosophy. Logical thinking is not automatic for atheists (who like to call themselves "critical thinkers" or "Brights") nor does logic originate in the domain of science.

Monday

Gnostic / agnostic Atheist Nonsense


This cute little incorrect meme absolutely destroys the meaning of gnostic and agnostic as used by everyone else in the universe except atheists. This is what happens when you try to appropriate Greek terms that you think are neat, while paying no respect to their historical meaning.

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FROM https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/gnostic

Gnostic

ADJECTIVE

1 Relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge.

1.1 Relating to Gnosticism.

NOUN

An adherent of Gnosticism.

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FROM https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/gnosticism

Gnosticism

NOUN

[mass noun] A prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enabled the redemption of the human spirit.

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FROM https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/agnostic

Agnostic

NOUN

A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

ADJECTIVE

1 Relating to agnostics or agnosticism.

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Thursday

George Hrab gets skepticism wrong


How many different ways can one get a simple philosophical concept wrong? George Hrab ( from the Geologic Podcast) shows us while speaking outside his area of expertise which is music. He has a Bachelor of Music from Moravian College (1993). He has no qualification in philosophy which is the topic of this TED talk found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orSjZaeyISI

Where George Hrab is wrong and at what stage in the lecture:


1. 0.13 "Skepticism. Why? Why not?"

He is only speaking of scientific skepticism which as small part of philosophical skepticism. I quote from https://www.britannica.com/topic/skepticism

"Skepticism ... in Western philosophy, the attitude of doubting knowledge claims set forth in various areas. Skeptics have challenged the adequacy or reliability of these claims by asking what principles they are based upon or what they actually establish. They have questioned whether some such claims really are, as alleged, indubitable or necessarily true, and they have challenged the purported rational grounds of accepted assumptions."


2. 3.47 "[Skepticism is] Evidence based thinking."


I quote from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_skepticism.html

"Skepticism ... is the philosophical position that one should refrain from making truth claims, and avoid the postulation of final truths. "


3. 6:05 "I have no faith in anything. I have trust."

I quote from
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/faith

"faith

NOUN

1 Complete trust or confidence in someone or something."


4. 6:29 "Skepticism is not a belief system ... it is a tool." 

I quote from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_skepticism.html
"Skepticism ... is [a] philosophical position" hence a belief system.


From https://proofwiki.org/wiki/Definition:Philosophical_Position

"A philosophical position is, broadly speaking, a belief that a particular statement is either true or false."


5. 8:37 "Modern skepticism looks like this chart - a co-mingling of science education and consumer protection. ... Right in the middle is skepticism."

I again quote from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_skepticism.html

"Skepticism ... is the philosophical position that one should refrain from making truth claims, and avoid the postulation of final truths. "

At 22:04 he states: "Learn which resources to trust." I totally agree! Don't trust this TED talk as a reliable resource on philosophical skepticism. It fails the CRAP test.

I quote from hhttps://libraries.mercer.edu/research-tools-help/citation-tools-help/images/PrintableCRAPtest.pdf

"Evaluating Research Sources
Currency ...
Reliability/Relevance ...
Authority
- Who authored this information? ...
- Are their credentials provided?
- What is their reputation or expertise? *[Hint: A degree in music, and doing lots of podcasts, does not make you an expert in philosophy.] ...
Purpose/Point-of-View"

I do agree with him on another point (23:50). Treat this TED talk as an April Fool's joke. Check before you forward this post (21:48). Get an education in philosophical skepticism in the Links below. Scientific skepticism is only a very small part of philosophical skepticism.