The Ethics of Atheism - A Conversation between Stefan Molyneux with Dr Peter Boghossian

The Ethics of Atheism - A Conversation between Stefan Molyneux with Dr Peter Boghossian re:  ethics, morals, faith, reason, philosophy and religion 

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I ran into someone online who thought their false science statements were fine.  They said the universe has a "fractal nature" and "cells derive their energy from the nucleus" (just like the earth gets energy from the sun) etc. etc. 

So I asked them, provide me with a citation from Medline or a good biology textbook to support your claim.  They said they had no evidence.

I said "please don't make statements without evidence" and they said I had no right to restrict what they said.  I said it's unkind to do this, you may mislead people and you put other people to the work of correcting you.  They said only people who don't think for themselves and stupid people take someone else's word for things, can be misled.

Barf.  I used to people caring about what the truth is, caring if they make errors.  As PB said, we have a social standard against false factual science claims. 

What they did was somewhere between making a mistake and lying.  Making a mistake is a not telling the truth, but intending to tell the truth. Lying is not telling the truth, while intending to not tell the truth.  What they did was not telling the truth, but not intending either to lie or tell the truth - but rather to speak without any reference to the truth.  

I thought they were being unethical and unkind. 

Our social standard against unproven reality claims doesn't apply to religious claims.  But maybe it should.  Maybe it's also unethical and unkind to make exotic religious claims. 

If it doesn't matter what the facts are, then it doesn't matter what the truth is.
-- AronRa

The Boy Who Called Wolf didn't think his misleading statements wouldn't matter either ... until the wolf DID show up and his credibility was shot to hell.  Boil it down and all you have is your word ... and with some people, their word isn't worth the air it takes to speak it.

Sounds like new-agey gobbldy-gook to me. It's a belief that personal reality (i.e. what one wants to believe) is the same as reality.

a belief that personal reality (i.e. what one wants to believe) is the same as reality.

Peter Boghossian says this "epistemological relativism" is common and a big problem. 

All of us probably believe what we want to believe to some extent.  But justifying it rather than saying it's a bias, is different. 

It's weird weird, that somebody would make up science that's"true for them" - and actually not blush to do it. 

Stefan Molyneux said that he thinks when people don't have religion, they tend to become statists - expect the government to take care of problems. 

That's very insightful, and it may have a lot to do with the religious/right and nonbeliever/left correlations. 

The idea is that people need to have faith in something, so they have faith in the government instead of faith in God. 

I've noticed this in medical matters.  People who have had a bad experience with mainstream medicine often become believers in alternative medicine.  They seem to need to believe in some kind of doctor, so they believe in a naturopath or acupuncturist.

My MIL was once telling us about her homeopathic remedy for something or other, and I corrected her on the efficacy of such things. "You realize that the potency of that is equivalent to an aspiring dissolved in Lake Michigan," which is a (not exact) quote I heard from either James Randi or another prominent atheist.

She actually listened I think. I was amazed. She may stop communicating with me altogether as I'm actually responding to a lot of the crap stuff she emails me. My husband says "There's no communicating with her!" because she's so confident in her religion, but she's showing glimpses of sanity with other things.

Our social standard against reality claims doesn't apply to religious claims.

Maybe not, but they should. When my wife was in college and took "Ethics" her religious girlfreind told her she had to drop the class because so much of it was "against god and religion." My wife was religous also but understood this class was not theology. She tape recorded every session and did very well in this class. Even so, she told me that many in the classroom (even though they passed) just didn't seem to "get it."

To degrees I am a believer in alternative medicine. I can get rid of warts, worms, and do various other things without medicine from the doctors. Some of this is because I have studied what people used to do before modern medicine, and I won't pay money for the doctor visit and the meds unless I have to. Once in Texas a school outbreak of head lice had us all going for a cure. Everyone went to the doctor (except me) to get Krell shampoo which was only by prescription at that time. I used baby shampoo mixed heavily with castor oil. Every one of us ended up free of lice and eggs. Currently I am using olive oil, aloe vera juice, and a lemon/apple juice combo to fight a stomach condition that has actually turned into ascites. My doctor will take measures on this if he has to, and he says it is the beginning of congestive heart failure. That does keep me from wanting relief NOW, and some of the things I have named here are natural duiretics as well as healing and helpful to the stomach and intestines. You just have to learn how to space the dosing, similar to what you would do with certain pills from your doctor. You have to do this for common sense reasons and also to prevent one treatment from countering the effects of another. Some things are only taken at bedtime, for example.

Do I believe in alternative medicine? YES. It means I may trade the medical doctor's pain pill for a chiropractic treatment. Be aware that the chiropractor will tell you that one leg is shorter than the other, and he wants you to come back and see him. Everybody has one leg shorter than the other! Also be aware that the herbalist will try to sell you everything in their shop. The more they sell the better living they have. Use the Internet and research things. See what alternatives were being used 100 years ago and look at claims carefully on how effective they were.

As for modern medicine, it's really great. Doctors and treatments have come a long way. Even so, you might find that your treatment (and surgery) might depend on what kind of insurance, if any, that you have. In 1974 my doctor diagnosed me in one visit with gastritis and gave me a diet and medicine. I had no insurance. The same doctor diagnosed a man I knew with the same thing, but it took a week in the hospital to do so. This second man had very good insurance.

There's a difference b/w natural remedies and homeopathy. My MIL confused the two. Homeopathy is pure placebo effect- the active ingredients are diluted to a point where it's pointless.

No question that natural remedies are often just as, if not more, effective than western medicine. Depends on the condition, of course- I'd hesitate to use alternative meds instead of, say, chemo.

Would I *prefer* the natural course? Definitely. Do I think it's a good idea to fight something like cancer using nothing but alternative medicine? I wouldn't risk it.

But I'd definitely smoke pot, for example, to help alleviate the symptoms of the chemo. I'd eat healthier- already eat pretty healthy now, but hardly perfectly. I do believe most health problems could be avoided altogether with proper diet/exercise.

I wanted to use natural remedies to combat my Grave's disease, but one book about it swears by distilled water ONLY. I couldn't even find distilled water anywhere, so I gave up that idea. My Grave's is in remission in any case, on its own.

I refused to take the Rx medicine after my doc read me all the risks (among other things, it could cause a reduction in white blood cells leading to death, could cause liver failure etc. No thanks!!) Instead, went to a cardiologist and had my heart checked- it was fine. One of the risks of untreated Grave's is heart racing/damage from thyroid storm.)

Got a second opinion, from an award-winning doc that came recommended from my husband's allergist. The allergist assured me that this guy is a minimalist when it comes to Rx meds. Great! But he ordered a bone density test, and even though my Grave's was a mild case, he decided based on the bone density results that I'd need to oblierate my thyroid with radioactive iodine. HUH?!!

I researched my bone density results, and it turns out that docs throw around a BS diagnosis of osteopenia. My results were actually well within the range of normal for my age. To hell with THAT doc, I never went back. My thyroid is fine; it's the immune system that thinks there's something wrong with it, causing cells to attack it and make it overactive. Why kill it off when it regulates my metabolism naturally?? Because the doc would make money off of synthetic thyroid that I'd need for the rest of my life.

Cut back on my coffee for a couple of weeks, and noticed my usually-high heart rate went down from 80bpm resting, to around 60-70. That was a first in many years! It's back up as I've started drinking more coffee again.......oh well.

I agree that Google is amazing, I research EVERYthing to pieces. To the point where I barely purchase anything anymore, as it just takes one negative review for me to say "fuggedabawdit."

I have Hashimoto's, which is another autoimmune thyroid disease (it tends to co-occur with celiac disease). 

Longterm, Hashimoto's causes hypothyroidism. 

But in the first few years, it can cause short hyperthyroid phases. 

I was wildly hyperthyroid for awhile.  I couldn't sleep, I would lie in a darkened room trying to sleep, seeing dizzying visions wheeling in the dark.  My hands and feet peeled - skin growing too fast I guess.  I was anxious.  Eating about twice the normal amount.  Craving sugar.  My hands shaking.  Etc. etc. 

It was very unpleasant, but also strange and interesting.  I hadn't known there was such an exotic state of the human body. 

I agree to some extent.  I'm not a simplistic alt-med basher.  Lots of "skeptics" are. 

There's a good deal of alt-med that is actually experimental medicine.  It may be well or (often) very badly done.  Often people go to alternative healers because they have problems that the MD's haven't helped with.  And maybe they do get helped by the alternative healer.

I wish mainstream MD's would take over the experimental medicine that alternative healers often do so badly. 

What MD's usually do when standard tests turn up negative, is to prescribe meds to relieve symptoms, maybe suggest the person see a shrink. 

But instead, maybe it's an immune problem - some kind of allergy that doesn't show up in standard allergy tests.  Then MD's can help people explore possible environmental causes. 

The bump in the rug that we call alternative medicine is partly caused by poorly understood health problem(s).  That's a point the "skeptics" normally miss.  Instead they belabor the standard and easy points - the self-deception and fraud involved in alt-med; the lack of scientific support for it.

I use herbs to some extent.  However the herbs may have safety issues just like medications, and they are not as well tested.  One is taking a risk using herbs to treat oneself. 

And then there are "remedies" like drinking water that's sat in shale deposits, as a mineral supplement.

A guy who came to work on my house told me enthusiastically about shale water and how much it had done for him. His naturopath recommended it to him, and he urged me to see the naturopath.

I looked up the shale water supplement.  There was a laboratory analysis of it, which showed very high levels of arsenic.  So I included a note along with the check, telling him he was getting many times the maximum amount of arsenic recommended by the WHO.  I suggested if he was worried about mineral deficiencies, he could take a multimineral tablet. 

I saw him a few months later at the health food store.  He gave me a very dirty look.

I guess shale water just has more cachet than a multimineral tablet.


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