Awful Arguments

Do you remember when you had “vocabulary” as a subject in school? I remember, that we had to learn the spelling, and meaning of different words, and in first or second grade, the teacher told us that we couldn’t define a word with itself.  If I was asked what a shirt was, I couldn’t say “a shirt,” I had to say “a piece of clothing, made to cover the top half of your body,” or something similar.  Not too hard of a concept.

For some reason, people haven’t retained this idea, and what we get is circular logic.  It’s infuriating, because I’m seeing more and more of this circular logic pop up in discussions, and arguments.  The reason I’m writing about this, today specifically, is that last night I saw some of dumbest arguing I’ve ever seen, and I wanted to talk about it.

Circular logic, can make the argument of someone who’s premise I agree with, seem completely ridiculous and unintelligent to me, and if the opposing side has a more thought out argument it can make me think about the other side, no matter how much I disagree with the premise.  A couple of months ago, I wrote about Tomi Lahren, and Ben Shapiro being opposite ends of the arguing ability spectrum, and it’s kind of what I’m talking about now.

So, the argument last night, started when a friend of mine said, “I’m sick of this God out of schools shit. If you want to brainwash your kid do it your damn self. Don’t you know not everyone has your same beliefs,” on his Facebook status.  Of course, the pro-God arguments came in like a flood, and while some were reasonable, or were at least non-combative, there was one that struck me as particularly unintelligent, “So here is one for you all!?? If Jesus ain’t real why are so many Christians getting killed and persecuted for our belief? ? And why does the devil want to hide the truth from people if God ain’t real?? Think about it folks. Jesus loves you and died for your unbelief. Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are saying. All i know is i ain’t no monkey and didn’t come from a Ape. How ridiculous does that sound. Truth can make people upset it’s in our hearts.”

Now, I’ve heard very good arguments in both defense of God, and in defense of atheism, but this is certainly not one of them, but you can tell that this man doesn’t understand that.  It’s like a lesson in how not to argue.  So I want to break it down line by line, because really if everyone were able to make better arguments, and think critically, perhaps things would get better, or at the very least we’d be able to have intelligent conversations, so let’s start from the beginning of that statement:

“So here is one for you all!?? If Jesus ain’t real why are so many Christians getting killed and persecuted for our belief?”

Alright, so is this circular logic, not exactly, but it is poor logic, based on a hugely flawed premise.  Many people, of many different belief systems have been persecuted, that does not at all mean that they are correct.  In fact, some of these belief systems are in conflict with each other, so it would only be logical that they cannot all be right.  Now this point doesn’t disprove Jesus, or Christians either, it effectively provides no evidence or proof, and should offer no persuasion whatsoever. Now to the next line:

“And why does the devil want to hide the truth from people if God ain’t real?? Think about it folks.”

I think this is a kind of circular logic that only seems to happen regularly with the God/no-God argument.  In this way of thinking, the person is aware that their opponent or conversation partner does not believe in God, but for some reason thinks he or she does believe in the devil.  Now, I’m not an atheist, but every single atheist I know, believes there is no devil either.  It’s not that they think the exact same scenario is true, with the exception of God.  They’re not imagining Heaven run democratically by angels; they believe that this life as we know it, and in some cases science we have yet to explain, is all that there is.  No God, no devil, no angels, no demons, no Heaven, no Hell.  So, while this argument may not appear to be ‘circular logic’ at face value, it is in this manner. The assumption that the atheist concedes there is a devil, and the fact that the devil is trying to disprove God must in fact mean there is one, is in itself circular logic.

“Jesus loves you and died for your unbelief. Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are saying.”

Telling us part of story, whether it is a true story or not, does not prove the story to be true.  Repeating the reason Jesus died adds nothing to this argument, except for condescension, which leads into the second half of that line.  This isn’t at all an appeal to the argument, but rather a manipulation.  If you want to pray for non-believers, go ahead, I think there is a level of arrogance to that, but ultimately that’s your business, but posting your prayers into Facebook makes no sense.  Do you think God’s gonna ‘follow’ this conversation?  This is nothing more than virtue signalling, and perhaps an attempt to manipulate any doubt the atheist might have into feeling ashamed of his or her non-belief.

“All i know is i ain’t no monkey and didn’t come from a Ape. How ridiculous does that sound.”

While I wholeheartedly disagree with this line, it is the closest thing to a coherent argument being offered.  He (the author of this response is a male) actually offers something outside of the Bible, a secondary source.  Whether he knows it or not, he’s making reference to The Origin of the Species, and the theory of evolution.  I think there is an overwhelming preponderance of evidence in favor of evolution, but I can understand why if you don’t know much, this may seem illogical.  So, verdict on this one, I disagree with the point, but I’ll at least call it a point. Lastly:

“Truth can make people upset it’s in our hearts.”

Again, more virtue signalling, more condescension, no actual point, nothing new introduced, nothing new examined.  This is just a shitty comment to feel superior.

 

So what is my point? Like I have mentioned many times, I’m not an atheist, (in all fairness, I don’t identify with any particular religion either) but I’ve heard people make arguments that can make a lot of sense, on both sides, and I feel as if I learn more when I hear them, regardless of side, and I feel like I’m more complete.  When I see arguments like this (and it’s not just religious, unfortunately there are a ton of these dumb arguments in real life, and on the internet) we don’t gain anything, and you realize that the arguers are unwilling to hear anything.  There is no growth on either side, regardless of how great the opponents argument may be.  It’s stagnation at best.

So how do we fix this?  Honestly, I’m not sure that we can.  I have had these conversations on a variety of topics, and I say to people “no think about what you’re saying, trace it back a few steps, if you think Z, what was Y? If you then realize Y backs up Z, then what was W?  But the problem is, whether you believe in God or not, (or gun-control, or abortion, or the death penalty) and you’re using circular logic like this, it is likely that you have been brainwashed, regardless of your side.  Circular logic is what people often use when parroting back beliefs that were ingrained into them, and so they don’t require logic, or thought, they just believe, and that’s the opposite of intellectual, or honestly, spiritual growth.

I’ll leave you with a quote that one of the God believers in the conversation said, that I thought wasn’t necessarily a great argument for God, but was a great argument for thought and discussion:

“i have read the bible numerous time over my life and each time i get something more out of it, it told me to question everything, EVERYTHING!! it also says that one man sows, another man waters, but God provides the increase. Which from my understanding means don’t force your beliefs on someone, but we can have conversations about it and maybe we will both learn something,”

Can Their Be Victims Without Perpetrators?

In the last 24 hours, I’ve read three articles about Aziz Ansari.  The first is the Babe.com article, in which a young woman accused him of sexual assault.  A second article, from The Atlantic, in which another woman discusses the events described in the first, and claims they are not sexual assault.  And finally, a third article from KatyKatiKate.com, in which a third woman explains that events like those described in the first article have happened to her, and while she hadn’t considered them sexual assault, that doesn’t mean they aren’t.  (I’m over simplifying all three, so please go check them out.)

With all three fresh in my head, I started wondering about victimhood.  I don’t mean that in this “I don’t like the word victim,” or “we’ve become a victim culture,” I mean legitimate victims.  In the past four months or so, we’ve had many victims come forward, and naturally, when something’s wrong we look for someone to blame.  Now, in all of the cases that I’ve heard that have popped up in the past few months there have been clear predators, anyone who’s defending Harvey Weinstein, or Kevin Spacey, is part of the problem.  I don’t know if Al Franken was as maliciously intent as those others, but what he did was wrong, and he needed to own up to it, and step down.

With Ansari, maybe he knew what he was doing was wrong, but this is definitely the most ‘grey area’ story that I have read in these past months.  So it got me thinking, assuming Ansari is telling the truth, and he didn’t get that she wasn’t into it, didn’t pick up on her non-verbal cues, is he a perpetrator?  If he’s not, is she still a victim?  I wonder if it’s possible for someone to be a victim without a perpetrator.

Let me run a scenario by you, something that I used to do as a boy, into young adulthood.  I think most would be hard pressed to call me a perpetrator in this scenario, but I’m not sure that doesn’t make others victims.  When I was 13, I was one of the tallest boys in my class, I already had some facial hair, and acne, and I was about 6 feet tall.  I was also the oldest in my class, and so I lumbered over many of the other kids, but especially the girls.  I constantly had crushes on the girls, and would ask them out regularly.  One of my problems was, that I didn’t know how to take a hint.

I would ask, “Do you want to go to the movies on Friday?”

Usually I’d get back, “Um… I can’t I have to… (insert polite excuse here)”

I didn’t get it, so I’d say “how about Saturday?”

Now, I just wanted at that point in my life, to go to the movies, maybe hold hands, or kiss them.  I knew about sex, but really hadn’t connected it with my interaction with girls.  I literally meant no harm.

But as a 33 year-old, I now know, that from a very young age, girls are warned about predators, and told about them, likely by that age they had encountered some to whatever extent, and so a giant kid, who they find creepy and unattractive won’t stop asking them out, is probably terrifying.  I think back, and I have to imagine, I was the physical embodiment of everything a young girl has been warned about.  Despite not having any bad intentions, or really any awareness of myself.

So were those girls victims?  Not of assault, but I think they were of harassment, definitely of intimidation.  How can anyone argue with that?

On the other hand, was I a predator?  I don’t think so.

It’s a level of nuance that I’m not sure this current wave of awareness has.  Obviously, if someone knowingly assaults, or intimidates, or harasses, they should be punished, and corrected, but perhaps there are the unknowing harassers and intimidate-ers, who need to be corrected, and educated, but not necessarily punished.

I think one of the fears that has come out, is that if we don’t listen to a woman, we risk falling back into the same old routine, and so we’ve taken that to mean that we must take her side against the person who made her feel whatever way.  There are cases when that is obviously true, but then there are cases like mine, or maybe Aziz Ansari’s in which you can hear the victim, have empathy, or sympathy, and help them make it as right as possible, and hopefully correct this going forward, but not necessarily have such a black and white stance.

What are your thoughts and opinions on these more nuanced stories?  Are my ideas way off base?  Let me know below in the comments.

Lynnfield MA, 02/09/1981

As you probably know, if you’ve been reading my blogs for long, I have been working on a novel for the last year and a half. You might also know, that the last 6-9 months of that time I’ve been not doing much on it. Back in October, I started a time-travel story in its own separate blog, and as of today (or 02/09/1980) its word count has surpassed my novel’s. My novel has 38,348 words so far (40,000 is when it ceases to be a novella, and becomes a proper novel) and now my time-travel blog, “Without a Tether,” has 38,833 words.
I know this probably sounds like nonsense to many of you, but it’s a piece that I’m really proud of, and now that it is officially the longest thing I’ve ever written, I just wanted to mention that. I hope you enjoy it!

Without a Tether

Start from the Beginning

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February 9, 1981

My grandmother came over to my apartment, and we recorded our film.  I set up the camera, along with a few lights, I wanted to make sure that she was well lit enough that it wouldn’t allow for any doubt of its authenticity in thirty years.  I wrote a little bit of a script for her to read, in order to convince my parents of who I truly am.  I knew my father would be skeptical, and while DNA would be an option, but I wasn’t sure I could get that far without more evidence.

“Hi Maria, Hi Scott.  By the time you see this film, or Michael calls it a tape.  He says it will be a tape, or disk or something by the time you get to see it, but by the time you see this, I’ll have passed…

View original post 1,442 more words

End of the Year “Reading Round Up”

About a year ago, I was doing videos reviewing books that I was reading for a while, and then I stopped.  I’m still reading, and I’ll definitely give you some recommendations, but I didn’t want to do anymore video reviews.  I keep track of what I read when, and things on Goodreads, which I think is a pretty good site to see what you’re friends are into reading, as well as get recommendations or updates when an author you like has published a new book.

Here are all the books I read in 2017:

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking:

Alright, this is a non-fiction book about science, and it covers a ton, and that alone can be kind of daunting.  What I think can be said about this book, is that arguably the smartest living person, Stephen Hawking, manages to make some of the things he knows accessible to people of average intelligence like myself.  Did I get all of it? No.  Did I learn a lot?  Yes.  And I found it pretty interesting.

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway:

I had to read The Sun Also Rises in high school, and I remember being bored enough, that I didn’t finish it.  Then fast forward 10 or more years, and I had to read several short stories by Hemingway, which I found to all be very interesting.  So I figured out which book was his shortest, hoping perhaps that he was better in a shorter form.  I was rewarded by finding that this book which is considered a novella and not a full novel, is amazing.  I’ve heard people talk about it as boring, but honestly I think it was paced beautifully and kept me riveted until the very end.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck:

Unfortunately, I waited to long before I read this.  It was a good book, don’t get me wrong, but I had seen so many Of Mice and Men references, and parodies, that I understood largely what was going to happen, and there wasn’t much that was new to me.  Hint: read this book before watching Tropic Thunder (Simple Jack is a parody of this) and there is a Key and Peele sketch about rap battles which gives away the ending.

Side note: I don’t blame any film referencing this book, it’s almost 90 years old, and I hadn’t read it.  It was my fault.

Eloah’s Amulet: Beurie by L.M. Chilcott:

Full disclosure on this, I know the author.  I did a full review on the book’s Amazon page.  It’s Christian fantasy, and I would say that I didn’t relate to a lot of it, but I think that is largely because I wasn’t the target demographic.  I think this book is YA and probably aimed more at females.  Also, I really haven’t read a whole lot of pure fantasy, what I’ve read is considered “Urban Fantasy” which means Earth and real society is interwoven into the fantasy elements.  I could not finish The Hobbit, or Lord of The Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia, but I was able to find this enjoyable.  So take my word with a grain of salt.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon:

Do you like superheroes? What about WWII history?  This book tells the story of two cousins during the rise of the super hero in comic books, and how it corresponds with WWII.  I don’t think you need to be a fan of either to enjoy it, but if you are, it’s a must read.  This was by far my favorite book I read this past year, and I would put it in my top 5 of all time.

Side note: I looked it up on Goodreads, and one of the reviews gave it one star and it might be the greatest dumb review of all time.  Basically the review is written as a conversation between the author and Ayelet Waldman in which they talk about how original it is to write about the Holocaust and Jewish boys in Brooklyn, and the invention of comic books.  Honestly, it’s the most bizarre review, and it may be some kind of sarcastic art piece of it’s own for all I know.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood:

I just finished this book yesterday, so this is fresh in my mind. The world she has created is very clear to her, and it is amazing when you realize it was published in 1985 how prescient it is, (she talks about a major terrorist attack by Muslim extremists being used as an excuse for the government to take away liberties, as well as people suspecting it was the government and not Muslim extremists in the first place.)

Now, I haven’t seen the Hulu show yet, but I think in many ways, it feels like a blueprint for a TV show, or a film, and not so much its own standalone entity.  What I mean in that is, that there seems to be more emphasis on world building than on story telling.  Which is fine, I feel that way often when I read classic dystopian literature.

 

I Shot Myself in the Foot

I want to tell you a story, about an idea I had about ten years ago.  I wanted to write a novel about myself as a time-traveler, going back in time in a one-way time machine to the 1980’s.  I wrote the first chapter, I think it was something like 20 pages, and quickly realized that I didn’t know where to go with it.  But I’ve had the idea on the back burner (it’s getting crowded on the back burner) for the last ten years.  Then, in October, I thought, “why not write the same story, but as a blog.”  So I started writing it as a blog.

Not only was it going to a really easy way to hold myself accountable, to try to post in some kind of regular interval, but also, I thought it would be fun, since WordPress allows me to backdate my blogs all the way back.  So I wrote a post from October of 2010, and then the next from January of 1980.  It’s a gimmick, but one that I really like, and one that has helped to motivate me to write.

Now it’s been about 2 months since I started writing, and I’m writing a ton, I have 26 posts with about 100 pages of content up, and more idea, and it’s been some of the most rewarding writing.  I’ve been exploring the history of my family, plaid with some of the tropes of time-travel, made my mother cry (not fun, but noteworthy), and like most writing, the more I do, the more I want to do.

The problem is this.  I have enough content, that I’m at the point where I want people to start reading it.  I have enough, that I’m confident it won’t be like “oh that was a cool 500 word post, too bad that’s it” and someone forgets about it.  My hope is to get readers on board, and hopefully make it slightly more interactive, while it’s kind of a novel being written as a blog, it is still most importantly a blog, and therefore I want it to be seen and read.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, in my fun gimmick, I have backdated all my posts, so that the newest (actually the oldest) post showing is seven years old.  It doesn’t show up in feeds, because every time I add a new post, it gets placed where all the WordPress posts from 1980 do (WordPress wasn’t created until 2005, so there is a reasonable likelihood that my blog looks like the oldest on the site.)

I could abandon the gimmick, but personally, I’m still really into it.  I’m just going to have to fight an uphill battle trying to get readers, but that’s really only the secondary purpose of writing it in the first place, and the first is the creative outlet, and this gimmick is part of that outlet.

As I’ve said a couple times before here, as I continue to write more for other sites, and have my writing appear in other places and publications, this blog is going to transition into more of a traditional blog, and so one of the functions of this is going to become the desire to talk about (and shamelessly plug) the other writing that I’m doing.  It won’t be all of it, but my hope is that you’ll stay interested.

Now, if you’re into time-travel, and you’re looking for a good long-read for your smartphone or tablet, check out my new(ish) time travel blog, Without A Tether, which may be able to boast the ‘earliest’ WordPress posts ever posted!