Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Horror, the Horror...

"Sometimes I present morality as a negotiated social construct - a kind of moral democracy. This makes people go bonkers. They reflexively attack, with dire prognostications about what will happen if people didn't believe in Right/Wrong. "Are you saying infanticide isn't Wrong," they say, immediately jumping to some extreme worst case scenario.

Of course, anti-freedom people engage in the same kind of hysteria over democracy. What kind of world will it be if people are permitted to hold their own views and opinions? It will be sheer chaos! Well, it turns out, that a recognized environment of negotiation mitigates extremism, whereas an environment of absolutism/moral realism promotes extremism - but you can't convince the fear-mongers of that. They are too locked down by fear themselves - and desire for control. We say of such people that they are not ready for democracy.

This terror of moral relativism is baggage left over from religious "thinking."

I put it to you that an environment of negotiation with respect to morality will mitigate extremism as well, and those of you incapable of getting past your fear when thinking about morality are simply not ready for morality.

Now, some say, "What's to stop a society from "negotiating" something horrible, something truly deplorable and horrendous?! Look at Nazi Germany, after all!" Well, it could happen, but it also *does* happen under absolutism-think. The only difference is that in a realm of negotiation, there is the mitigation factor at work, whereas in an absolutist mindset there is no mitigating factor at all - people think they are somehow "Right" to be extremist, inflexible, uncompromising. There's no way out from that mental/emotional cage."

I wrote this four years ago, but it seems especially relevant today in "light" of the rising social authoritarianism of the regressive left (who have never learned why freedom is important and are hence willing to throw freedom under the bus in their righteous zeal), and the rising extreme polarization of the radical, fanatical right in America (who always thought, based on religion, that freedom was a challenge to their righteous authority).

The more things change...

Monday, June 6, 2016

One ... More ... Time ...

The Disintegration of Inquiry

Some time ago (four years ago actually) I wrote this, as a Facebook post:

Imagine if the modern "skeptics" movement had the following policy:

"We are going to define anti-vax, homeopathy, and faith healing as beyond the scope of skeptical inquiry. We won't critique it or call it into question at all. In fact, we will shun and publicly dissociate ourselves from those who do so in the name of making anti-vaxxers, homeopaths, and faith healers "feel welcome" in the skeptical movement."

Sound ridiculous? It is. But that's what modern "skeptics" do with regards to the worst, most dangerous woo of them all: God.

It's almost as if I'm a prophet (I'm not, BTW. Don't get confused).

The Rise (Yet Again) of Dogmatism

When I go on about the artificially limited scope of skeptical inquiry, brought about by that disingenuous liar Michael Shermer and perpetuated by the fools' fool James Randi, this is what I am talking about.

There was a time when skepticism also included metaphysical and dogmatic claims, and offered us protection from them. Shermer, didn't want us to examine dogmatic claims skeptically because he wanted to push his Libertarianism. Luckily, when he tried, we laughed in his face and he is still licking his wounds to this day.

Unfortunately, it left us vulnerable to other more superficially friendly sounding dogmas - third wave feminism being the main, current one - and look at the state we are in. Our universities are afraid to present material that might offend the "students," crazed radicals are seeking to obliterate freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry in every aspect of our lives, the essential protection of the presumption of innocence is being eroded in favour of unsubstantiated hearsay and courts of public opinion based on who is making the accusation.

Don't get me wrong, and I'm sure most of you are - probably deliberately so. This is not an anti-feminism screed; this is an anti-dogma screed. I am not against what is called "choice feminism," you know, those "gender traitor" feminists from the second wave who wanted freedom and equality to decide for themselves matters of their own lives, but who saw the nightmare that their movement was turning into. Third wave feminism eschews choice feminism. Choice is not a viable option where dogmas are concerned and enforced. Before the Protestant Revolution, there was no "choice christianity."

Imagine if modern skepticism had not been redefined to give ideology a free pass, unchallenged. Maybe "choice feminism" would still be respectable, and we might still see real skepticism (skepticism not hobbled by artificial limits on its scope of inquiry) involved in our halls of academe, and in our daily discourse. What we have instead is this "war of ideologies" mentality. What wonderful progress we have made, spiraling right back down into a new dark ages of enforced orthodoxy of perspective and opinion - precisely what we fought for three plus generations to fight our way out of...


Imagine, just for a moment, a world in which we were not divided into eternally warring ideological, dogmatic factions, but were instead united against the mentality of eternally warring ideological factions, in the name of freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry - freedom of choice. We had that opportunity and it has been almost irretrievably squandered in the name of the current rising ideological faction.

Today, as ever, the current rising dogma abuses skepticism to dismantle the horror of what came before without actually understanding, much less embracing skepticism. Meanwhile, it vilifies people skeptical of their dogma. In the case of unfettered skeptics, we are "kicked back to the sewers where [we] belong."

The Unreason Rally

So, the Friendly Atheist and others are trying to figure out why the "Reason Rally" flopped so miserably.

How about this reason:

The organizers expressly "kicked back to the sewers" anti-theists and the anti-religious. You know, "where we belong," after the Reason Rally was annexed by ideological demagogues pushing their pet dogmas. Even people who aren't fond of "militant atheists" can recognize a Church-like exclusion mentality when it rears its ugly and vicious head.

The recent "Reason Rally" had precious little to do with reason at all. It has been annexed by crazed political correctness and anti-inquiry mentalities. It preached disowning anti-theists and the anti-religious (redundant, I know, but that was their wording) - essentially stifling people who might critique the direction the so-called "Reason Rally" was going or the new dogmatism it was now to be based on. People realized that, and its attendance was abysmal - as was only appropriate, well shy of the anticipated attendance by, and this is not an exaggeration, a whole order of magnitude. You can't disguise the stench a dogmatic, censorship mentality. When you stifle people, and you can try to dress it up as something other than that if you want but it won't wash, they won't come to your events. Why would people go to an event where they are expressly told to "shut the fuck up?" Who will go to your party when the first thing you are told is you not just may listen, but must listen, but may not speak. I will not make that deal with anyone, and I recommend you don't either.

They threw away reason and the rally died with it. Too bad, but that's what happens when you let the regressive left overwhelm critical inquiry with their own special definition of "critical thinking" that excludes (as in secular shunning) anyone who critiques their views. You wanted a safe space? You're welcome to it. Enjoy listening to the crickets.

The "Reason Rally" isn't going to "get bigger and better" if the exclusion mentality is not brought under control. Good luck with that. The rest of us will go back to doing what we do, like we always have, until we are able to emerge from the sewers again against the face of the new authoritarian dogmatism.

N.B.: With "thanks" to Richard Carrier for his wording that I mocked throughout here:

"There is a new atheism brewing, and it’s the rift we need, to cut free the dead weight so we can kick the C.H.U.D.’s back into the sewers and finally disown them, once and for all."
What an incredible idiot! No wonder even Boobquake McCreight disowned him... That's your legacy, McCreight. Did you know what you were going to unleash? Savour it for what it is and what it always was, even when you tried to disguise it with nice-nice tones, an exclusionary, secular shunning,  mentality.


I remain, in spite of society's swapping of one dogmatism for another, a real skeptic, unfettered by artificially limited scopes of inquiry. It is not an easy path in today's limited understanding, but it is one essential to rising above the quagmire of horror and polarization the world is currently engulfed in (and let's not even being on the current fiasco that is the American political polarizing season).