Addendum To “Correct Religion” Post

See here for the original post. To clear up any confusion, it’s important to make the distinction between gnostic and agnostic atheism. Gnostic atheists—the specific ones I addressed in the post—specifically claim knowledge of God’s non-existence. I take “knowledge” in the vaguely epistemic sense. Agnostic atheists claim a non-belief in deities but are open to possible evidence to defeat their non-belief, similar to “friendly atheists” who claim no knowledge or belief in the supernatural but allow for others to justifiably claim knowledge of the opposite. The agnostic/friendly atheist position is far more reasonable if we are going by the current trend of a posteriori, “show me evidence of God”, criteria for true religious belief. Gnostic atheism is almost always inherently contradictory since it claims knowledge via means that are a priori and non-scientific.

“How Do You Know Your Religion Is the Correct One?”

It’s a common question but there’s a lot of philosophical assumptions behind it, much like the loaded question logicians have pointed out. One has to take a step back to really address it properly. Julie Borowski, who isn’t much of a skeptic from what I can see, asked this on her personal Facebook page. I answered but I made sure to really think it through:

Personal, revelatory, non-falsifiable, a priori, properly basic knowledge of metaphysical truths.

A more accurate question could be, posed to a non-fallibillistic atheist: how could one know if all religions are completely false?

Concerning the first sentence, if you’re interested, look some of those terms up if they are unclear. Wikipedia is okay for a start but also try Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

To make it simpler: statements about religious truths—not just religious belief—can only be known as true to the individual person making the statement.

I asked that last question because religious belief allows for degrees of truth in considering other ones; Islam overlaps with Christianity, which overlaps with Hinduism, which overlaps with Buddhism, which overlaps with Zoroastrianism. If you consider one religion as the true one, then it’s reasonable and even logically mandatory to say every other religious belief system has a degree of truth in it, some greater than others. Pick any form of theism, put in front of you, shine a light on it, and you’ll see the shadow of all the other ones you rejected being cast onto it.

The “proof” is that an overwhelming number of people in the world have had a sense of the supernatural. If we’re talking materialist reasoning here, the burden of proof is on the non-fallibillistic (gnostic) atheist to demonstrate how all of them are completely mistaken.

EDIT: An addendum to this post is here.

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 8

I’m currently vacationing in Massachusetts, home to Elizabeth Warren and her corporo-fascism.

A new Cheerios commercial portrays a competent dad. Interesting for its novelty but especially attention-starved social justice warriors are going to Tumblr the new paradigm.

The Folly of Scientism – “Advocates of scientism today claim the sole mantle of rationality, frequently equating science with reason itself. Yet it seems the very antithesis of reason to insist that science can do what it cannot, or even that it has done what it demonstrably has not.”

“Free Market” Doesn’t Mean “Pro-Business”

“‘…Jimmie John’s bread is baked in the store every morning to give it a fresh and unique taste, whereas Chairman Mao Zedong of China exterminated over 45 million people.’ said Dr. Potamkin.”

Have any rightist dorks come across this and tried to make something out of it?

A band I don’t care about doesn’t take the Bible literally, just like 99% of all Christendom throughout history. The question is: in what way is not literal?

Three Reasons Why Private Property Is Essential for Human Flourishing. This is just common sense and a basic understanding of human behavior, but putting it in (good) economics terms doesn’t hurt.

Suffer(age) the Little Children

Vox Day posted recently about female suffrage. Talking about “their votes are equally incompatible with the long-term national interest as the other classes of current non-voters”:

This can be done using a variety of metrics, including what Shelles describes as another possibility to the only way. Just to give one example, if the reason children are not permitted to vote is due to their limited time preferences, a comparison could be made between children’s time preferences, women’s time preferences, and men’s time preferences. If women’s time preferences were determined to be more akin to those of children than those of men, that would be a clear justification for denying the vote to them.

I won’t pretend to know the history of progressive suffrage but I can make a few armchair inferences. There was probably a reason why women and other demographics were denied the act of voting (it’s not a “right” at all—I’ll explain in a future post), and it’s not because of patriarchal oppression. What we call “patriarchy” was/is most likely just division of labor that developed to ensure survival and gene propagation for the tribe or family. Men were trained for outward, wilderness-facing labor since they seemed more suited for it, and women were trained for inward, domestic-facing labor since they seemed more suited for it. Leftoids/Marxists have an intense dislike of division of labor so it’s understandable why it doesn’t enter into their reasoning much, hence the oppression narrative enters.

But I think Vox gets it wrong here, if he is concerned about national long-term interests. A better metric would simply grant voting privileges to fee-simple property (real estate) owners. The reason for this is that long-term property ownership would be compatible with long-term time preferences, and would qualify as legitimate voterhood. Too, property owners would be far less likely to vote for something against their own interests, and thus owners’ habits would coincide with whole-nation interests.

I’m assuming that certain laws of human behavior apply here, since bad real estate ownership eventually leads to no ownership at all. In other words, a fool and his(her) money(land) are soon parted. If House of the Seven Gables and O’ Pioneers! are accurate descriptors of times past*, there certainly would be legitimate female votership available, not to mention any anecdotal evidence of such a situation.

Final observation, which is point of the preceding blather: if long-term time preferences, demonstrated through fee-simple real estate ownership, are the gold standard for determining legitimate votership, it makes sense that some children could become legitimate voters. This seems absurd, since we know how children of a certain age are, and because we are raised with cultural and political standards that treat (I mean, we call them “minors”) with a strange manner of limbic, pre-civilizational a-humanity.

Instead of using bare age, a stable, mostly culturally, homogenized community left to itself would use a person’s raw cognitive ability to determine real ownership. This, I think, would generally work itself out; cultures have their own rites of passage into adulthood (none of this adolescence nonsense). It’s in a community’s best interest to confer adulthood on those that are ready, and today, what we consider “teenagers”—also known as “old children”—are biological, mental adults. The fact they are infantilized way past what is mandated skews the data. It’s not a perfect metric but it’s miles more accurate than using the sledgehammer of 18 years to nail everyone into adulthood by default. In the situation Vox outlines, using true real estate ownership, not the sex of the voter nor their age, is a more accurate metric for determining voterhood.

* This is something of a joke but they are in my mind since I recently read the latter and I’m nearly done with the former. Fictional narratives aside, the law of statistics basically demands female ownership of property as an demonstrable actuality.

The Cockamamie Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889

While reading The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier, I came across one of the earliest forms of stupidheadedness in the American government, concerning property:

On March 3, 1889, [President] Harrison announced the government would open the 1.9 million-acre tract of Indian Territory for settlement precisely at noon on April 22. Anyone could join the race for the land, but no one was supposed to jump the gun. With only seven weeks to prepare, land-hungry Americans quickly began to gather around the borders of the irregular rectangle of territory. Referred to as “Boomers,” by the appointed day more than 50,000 hopefuls were living in tent cities on all four sides of the territory.

The events that day at Fort Reno on the western border were typical. At 11:50 a.m., soldiers called for everyone to form a line. When the hands of the clock reached noon, the cannon of the fort boomed, and the soldiers signaled the settlers to start. With the crack of hundreds of whips, thousands of Boomers streamed into the territory in wagons, on horseback, and on foot. All told, from 50,000 to 60,000 settlers entered the territory that day. By nightfall, they had staked thousands of claims either on town lots or quarter section farm plots. Towns like Norman, Oklahoma City, Kingfisher, and Guthrie sprang into being almost overnight.

Besides the injustice of stealing property from one group (natives) and offering it for sale to another (whites), the entire process is an rich embarrassment of bureaucracy…though the site whitewashes some of the incidents that took place.

Compare this with the complex process of property rent evaluation, ownership, and sale between parties that were mostly peaceful and non-zero-sum.

Unfortunately there isn’t a free electronic version of the book online so I can’t copy-paste any relevant text concerning that. Google Books has some free chapters but the text isn’t HTML. It’s worth a look at if you’re interested in how property rights can develop “naturally,” without state forces having its hand.

Photos: Listen to Metal Stickers

I made good use of the “Listen To Metal” stickers I helped Seth with.

This was placed next to a map of the Pittsburgh subway system. When I checked last it was taken down. I have no idea what the pink smudge on it is:

On a Pittsburgh Steelers promotional poster:

On a pillar on a pedestrian walkway that was under Macy’s, on Cherry Way:

Outside a building at PNC Plaza where everyone smokes. The placard on the right is a “no smoking” sign:

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 7

I made a silly video of a polar bear “dancing” to a Meshuggah song.

Ed links to an interesting article about the HTML5 canvas tag and a possible use/misuse to track client-side activity. We something of an ongoing discussion on how to resolve it (somewhat) with user-defined javascripting.

Germany government might revert to typewriters for security purposes, just like Russia did last year.

The 35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet – AKA: A bunch of people who live in NYC that you’ve never heard of (except maybe Gaiman).

Why Don’t People Smile in Old Photographs? – An old post, but still informative, including the comments.

Another dilemma for Facebook slacktivists, especially the ones who slacktivate constantly about global poverty.

A Japanese (I think) band plays Converge’s “Concubine” at a wedding.

This is why the government should never control the internet: “In short, the Internet is the greatest deregulatory success story of all time — a simple fact that vexes those seeking new and unnecessary rules.”

Does Jesus use hyperbole to make a point? – Short answer is, “yes.”

8 Out of the 10 Highest IQ People on Earth are Theists

From the Examiner:

Have you ever heard the claim “all smart people are atheists”, or maybe its inverse: “people who believe in God are dumb”? It’s quite a pervasive urban legend, and one which I’ve known is false for a long time, but I didn’t realize just how false until the other day. I recently decided to do a quick cataloging of the ten highest IQ’s on earth, and discovered that it’s nearly the exact opposite of the truth!

There’s lots of things one can tentatively infer from this tidbit, with varying degrees of certainty. One of the hastier conclusions might conclude that most smart people are theists, like the juvenile wording of the Examiner article suggests. It’s a tempting proposition; inverting commonly held beliefs has salacious appeal. But I would maintain some version of the opposite: that most dumb people are theists.

Here’s why, doing some armchair stats analysis. Most people throughout history have had some theistic belief. Whether the material reason stems from social forces like tradition/parentage, or for some innate psychological mechanism for coping with harsh environments, I can’t say if that’s known to researchers or not. Concurrently with this is the fact that theism seems to need to be “trained” out of people—as though it were unnatural*, not in the negative or anti-social sense, but more in the impartation of complex ideas to fill the “vacuum” left by non-theism.

Because, along with this “retraining” to impart atheism, comes with learning other things, as in the collegiate level of education. Naturally, this would attract people of higher IQ, since, holding everything else constant, smarter people tend to want to learn more, and currently higher learning is the modus operandi. So the ostensible eggheads get even more ostensible with their eggheadedness.

This tends to leave a lot of stupid people, for lack of a better phrase, in the “uneducated” category, which tends towards theism. This isn’t that terrible unless you come from a diehard Western intellectual tradition that equates intelligence with virtue. The “most stupid people are theists” could mean that theism is easy to understand or comes naturally, as I said before. That sluggards believe in it has no bearing on its truthiness.

* I hope I don’t need to point out that I don’t mean, because atheism comes via intentional re-socialization or that theism is natural, that the former is a false belief and the latter a true one. It’s a bit tiring to think one needs to make this disclaimer, but this is the Internet, the place where people come to get offended by inferring things that simply are not there.