Thursday, 10 January 2013

Debating Lizard People


Nothing could more clearly illustrate the disordered thinking of some home educators than the adherence of many to various conspiracy theories. These range from the supposed connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, all the way through to plots by aliens or Jews to take over the world. Yes, you did read that correctly; one of the most famous figures in British home education believes that the Jews are taking over the world according to a blueprint which sounds remarkably similar to that first propounded in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Another well known figure from recent years thinks that reptiles from outer space are undertaking the same mission, by disguising themselves as heads of state, including our own dear monarch!

The attitude of  people commenting on this blog when I mentioned this sort of thing was revealing. They evidently found the notion that the British royal family were shape-shifting lizards who fed on human flesh no more unlikely than the claims of major religions such as Christianity and Islam. This too is an indication of disordered thinking and tells us a good deal about the worldview of these people, who presumably have sole responsibility for the education of their children. A chilling thought, indeed!

I think that I should briefly outline the differences between mainstream religions and crazy conspiracy theories. This will help explain why those who are unable to distinguish between the two types of belief have unscientific worldviews which might not make them the most suitable people to be undertaking the education of children.

The claims of religions such as Christianity and Islam are not scientific hypotheses. They can neither be proved nor falsified. Even if we had in theory unlimited resources and there were the most extraordinary scientific advances in the future, the existence of the Deity is not accessible to verification. The same thing goes for the various stories, myths and legends which are associated with these belief systems. I do not personally believe that Jesus rose from the dead and neither do I believe that the Prophet rode to heaven from Jerusalem on his magic horse, El Burak. Many people do believe these things and there is no conceivable way, even in theory, of testing the truth of such assertions. They are not scientific claims.

The claim that Queen Elizabeth is not a human being at all but an ancient reptile from outer space is a scientific hypothesis. It can be tested. We could in theory take DNA samples of her majesty or even carry out exploratory operations to establish her true nature. We could also carry out excavations underground to seek for the bases of these aliens and look around Area 51 for their spaceships. This is the difference between the conspiracy theories so beloved of simple folk and the claims of mainstream religion.

When I see people commenting on this blog who are unable to grasp this fundamental difference between a scientific and non-scientific hypothesis, it fills me with dread, particularly if they are home educators. If they cannot think straight themselves, how on earth are they going to be able to teach their children to think clearly?

Of course, it may be that those commenting here are themselves members of the lizard people community. If this should be the case, then I must apologise for any inadvertent offence which I might have caused. Sensitivity is not, as my regular readers will readily concede, my long suit.

52 comments:

  1. "We could in theory take DNA samples of her majesty or even carry out exploratory operations to establish her true nature."

    That really sounds like a great idea Simon; I can see the headlines now:

    "Writer and former home schooler wants to dissect Queen to prove that other home schoolers are crazy."

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  2. '"Writer and former home schooler wants to dissect Queen to prove that other home schoolers are crazy."'

    I have to say, I think that there is a book somewhere in this! I will allow that this does sound raving mad, but will remind readers that it is only a thought experiment.

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    1. "I have to say, I think that there is a book somewhere in this! I will allow that this does sound raving mad, but will remind readers that it is only a thought experiment."

      There is undoubtedly a book (or many) in this. Any successful crank belief system needs a theological basis, so people have to beaver away, making-up stories that cover-up the inconsistencies; e.g., presumably, the transformed Lizard DNA and biological properties of HM and family are indistinguishable from human DNA, so not amenable to scientific tests - there's a starter for you.

      I don't believe any of this, of course - Icke Lizards, Christianity or other mumbo jumbo - but it's clearly a lucrative opportunity.

      Tip: universal, free eternal after-life is already on offer, so you'll have outbid that, but don't try to offer anything that actually has to be delivered; your plausibility would go out of the window very quickly.

      Delete
  3. "They evidently found the notion that the British royal family were shape-shifting lizards who fed on human flesh no more unlikely than the claims of major religions such as Christianity and Islam. This too is an indication of disordered thinking and tells us a good deal about the worldview of these people"

    So you think that belief in a man rising from the dead and the healing of the sick by the laying on of hands (etc, etc) is more credible than shape-shifting lizards? Is this just because more people believe in one than the other, or do you have a personal reason of your own for giving one more credibility than the other?

    "The claims of religions such as Christianity and Islam are not scientific hypotheses. They can neither be proved nor falsified."

    I'm sure that people who believe in lizards could come up with equally 'plausible' reasons for why their theory could not be scientifically tested. Maybe the alien race is so far in advance of ours, possibly to the extent that they are godlike in comparison, that humans with unlimited resources would be incapable of proving or falsifying the theory.

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  4. 'So you think that belief in a man rising from the dead and the healing of the sick by the laying on of hands (etc, etc) is more credible than shape-shifting lizards? Is this just because more people believe in one than the other, or do you have a personal reason of your own for giving one more credibility than the other?'

    Another case where somebody commenting might almost be a sock puppet of mine, making my points for me! I have already said above that I do not believe that the account of the resurrection is veridical. As for whether such a thing is more or less likely than shape-shifting lizards, of course there is no way of judging the liklihood of one against the other.

    The point I was making, which wholly escapes the person making this comment, is that one of these is a scientific hypothesis and the other is not. Nobody unable to distinguish between these two very different things should really be left to superintend the education of any child!

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    1. "one of these is a scientific hypothesis and the other is not."

      1) If you can't perform anything more than a thought experiment about dissection or DNA, then there's no difference.

      2) Crank belief systems are always laden with get-out clauses; the christian stuff has had a lot more time and effort invested in order to refine these.

      None of this has anything to do with a scientific approach, and I see no reason why - although you're perfectly entitled to hold crank beliefs - we should assign any weight to your opinion.


      Delete
  5. ' e.g., presumably, the transformed Lizard DNA and biological properties of HM and family are indistinguishable from human DNA, so not amenable to scientific tests - there's a starter for you.'

    At risk of debating this madness too deeply, I will mention that these lizard people could not be so very advanced. Even Princess Diana, not the brightest of people, was able to identify them! This of course is why she was murdered by the Freemasons. No, no, not the Freemasons, I mean the Jews. No, hang on, I meant to say the reptiles from outer space.

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    1. 'At risk of debating this madness too deeply, I will mention that these lizard people could not be so very advanced.'

      Too late...

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  6. Jon Ronson's dealt with this stuff pretty brilliantly. He didn't to my knowledge interview any home educators. Perhaps you're perceiving only what you wish to see (ie all home educators but yourself as cranks and freaks)? Rather like Mr son-of-god Icke.

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  7. Simon has already admitted that the person in question didn't actually express a belief in royal lizards; this is merely something that he has inferred and insists that we believe him.

    Looking at this and his other claims over the last week, it's clear that he sets a much lower bar for evidence in support of his own views than for anyone who expresses views to the contrary.

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  8. Only ten days in to the new year and Simon's already denounced a number of home educators as crazy and thinks he can prove it by cutting-open the Queen.

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  9. Simon said,
    "Another case where somebody commenting might almost be a sock puppet of mine, making my points for me! I have already said above that I do not believe that the account of the resurrection is veridical."

    Did I say you believed? No. Why not try reading what's written, not what you want to have been written. I asked if one belief (in a group of people) is more credible than another belief (in a different group of people, though I suspect there will be some overlap when gullible people are involved). You clearly think it's more acceptable for people to believe in a man rising from the dead but not lizard people. Or maybe not - do you place Christians who believe that Jesus rose from the dead into the same group as those who believe in lizard people?

    Simon said,
    "The point I was making, which wholly escapes the person making this comment, is that one of these is a scientific hypothesis and the other is not."

    Christians claim their belief system is not scientifically testable (though at least some of their beliefs are and have been found wanting - the age of the Earth, for e.g.). But what stops those who believe in lizard people making similar claims? I'm not convinced by your argument which seems to be, 'it's obvious they're different'. Why is one claim that a belief is not scientifically testable more believable than another?

    Do you think that those who believe the Earth is a few thousand years old and those who believe in lizard people are all cranks, for instance? One has actually been proved to be false, the other hasn't, so in some ways, the first belief is crankier than the second.

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  10. A characteristic of all the successful belief systems is that they adjust to keep-up with science, because science has a habit of winning in the end. The Catholic church, for instance, realising how bad things looked after Galileo, have tried to stay in-line in recent years - although it took until 1996 for a pope to "acquit" Galileo, and there has been some controversy over their attitude towards the evolution of the human mind [1]

    Simon's declarations about which kinds of belief are OK - and that dissent constitutes "disordered thinking" - looks a little like papal bull, not to mention "bull" of another kind.

    More seriously, if Simon reflects the kind of thinking (for want of a better word) present among LA workers and others clamouring for tighter control of HE, then there's good reason to be concerned that they want to behave as Thought Police, using convenient lies (e.g., UKIP 'have got racist policies' [2]) to control parenting.

    [1] Dawkins, R., "The Pope's message on evolution: Obscurantism to the rescue". The Quarterly Review of Biology 72 (4): 397–399. 1997
    [2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9700001/Foster-parents-stigmatised-and-slandered-for-being-members-of-Ukip.html

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  11. 'Do you think that those who believe the Earth is a few thousand years old and those who believe in lizard people are all cranks, for instance? One has actually been proved to be false, the other hasn't, so in some ways, the first belief is crankier than the second.'

    Both are scientific hypotheses. They are in a different class to claims about the supposed resurrection of jesus, for example. This is not a scientific hypothesis.

    'You clearly think it's more acceptable for people to believe in a man rising from the dead but not lizard people'

    Nothing of the sort; I consider both beliefs absurd. I cannot really continue this debate, because we appear to be talking at cross purposes!

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    1. "I cannot really continue this debate, because we appear to be talking at cross purposes!"

      I think Simon means that he's been rumbled and can't think of a way out.

      Delete
  12. 'Simon's declarations about which kinds of belief are OK - and that dissent constitutes "disordered thinking" - looks a little like papal bull, not to mention "bull" of another kind.'

    I not advocating one sort of a belief over another. I am suggesting that people distinguish between those beliefs which are testable and falsifiable and those which are not. The nature of the beliefs themselves is irrelevant.

    I am saying that the apparent inability to tell the difference between a scientific hypothesis, such as that the queen is a reptile from outer space, and an unscientific belief, for example the resurrection, constitutes disordered thinking and means that the person concerned cannot think straight. All of which has nothing at all to do with whether Jesus actually rose from the dead or if the queen eats human flesh!

    What UKIP and the Pope have to do with the case is an utter mystery to me.

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  13. "I am saying that the apparent inability to tell the difference between a scientific hypothesis, such as that the queen is a reptile from outer space, and an unscientific belief, for example the resurrection, constitutes disordered thinking and means that the person concerned cannot think straight."

    This is a nice illustration of a bit of disordered thinking on Simon's part, but since he likes to use scientific language without the benefit of the slightest bit of scientific expertise or experience, one can understand his confusion.

    A test of a scientific hypothesis must test the prediction of the hypothesis itself, not someone else's idea, and there must be agreement on the meaning of possible outcomes. Dissecting the Queen or testing her DNA isn't necessarily a test of the Icke hypothesis, because Icke might not predict results that can be tested by Simon's proposed experiment.

    Given that this is all a moot point anyway (Simon's idea isn't going to amount to a real test) , Simon's assertion here is palpable nonsense.

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  14. "What UKIP and the Pope have to do with the case is an utter mystery to me."

    A local authority lied about the policies of UKIP in order to justify their decision; this is the approach Simon is taking with home educators.

    The Pope was mentioned as a leading exponent of mainstream religious beliefs that have been adjusted - from an earlier standpoint that had been demonstrated to be false - to fit scientific understanding.

    It's strange that Simon find this mysterious, given that it's germane to the discussion.

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  15. "'You clearly think it's more acceptable for people to believe in a man rising from the dead but not lizard people'

    Nothing of the sort; I consider both beliefs absurd."

    Given that one of these absurd beliefs (at least) is taught in schools, to the great majority of children, perhaps the authorities should concentrate their efforts there, instead of wasting their time on home educators who, regardless of belief, represent a tiny minority.

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  16. Simon replied,
    "'You clearly think it's more acceptable for people to believe in a man rising from the dead but not lizard people'

    Nothing of the sort; I consider both beliefs absurd. I cannot really continue this debate, because we appear to be talking at cross purposes!"

    So, if you think that various Christian beliefs are as absurd as beliefs about lizard people, and you (or others) believe that beliefs in lizard people justify the close monitoring of home educators, presumably the authorities can also use this type of thinking to justify some kind of register of professed home educating Christians and Church goers so that their beliefs can be checked? They would need to do this to decide which ones hold crank beliefs. Presumably you would have been happy to be included on such a list (as a Church goer) since you can justify your beliefs as rational so would have no problem with being examined in such a way.

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  17. "presumably the authorities can also use this type of thinking to justify some kind of register of professed home educating Christians and Church goers so that their beliefs can be checked?"

    This makes a great deal of sense, if one follows the purported concerns and "logic" of the authorities and people like Simon.

    DCSF - in the Badman era - raised concerns about forced marriage; we also know of major child abuse issues associated with the church. If home educators are a concern, then religious activities are a much greater one - if, as I said, you follow Simon's line of argument.

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  18. Surely you're not suggesting that esteemed parts of the establishment could present any danger to children?

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  19. Looks like Simon finally caved-in on this one.

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  20. 'Looks like Simon finally caved-in on this one'

    I'm by no means sure that this is how I would put the case. I certainly realised that I and a couple of the people commenting here were talking about different things and that this made further discussion pointless! I was suggesting that there is a difference between verfiable hypotheses on the one hand and propositions which can neither be proved or disproved on the other. I regard an inability to distinguish between these two things as a symptom of disordered thinking. Those debating with me though think that we are talking about whether or not major world religions are inherently more sensible than modern day cults.

    When two parties cannot even agree what they are talking about, then there seems little point in taking matters further. Just to remind readers, the idea that lizard people are taking over the world and have underground bases is a scientific hypthesis. We can seek evidence to confirm it. The notion that two thousand years ago a man rose from the dead is not a scientific hypthesis. We can seek no evidence to confirm it and there is therefore no reason to consider it. Both ideas are pretty weird, but they belong in compeletely separate catagories and it was the fact that those commentiong here were unable to grasp this which meant that I was not prepared to give the question any more of my attention.

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  21. "Those debating with me though think that we are talking about whether or not major world religions are inherently more sensible than modern day cults"

    Merely your twist, Simon.

    You have decided that Icke's belief is a "scientific hypothesis"; as has been pointed-out already, it's only your version of the Lizard hypothesis that can be tested - unless, of course, you have Icke's agreement on the interpretation of the results, AND you can do more than perform a thought experiment (I'd love to see the response from both Icke and the palace).

    The essence of your argument seems to be that crazy beliefs can be left to mature to the point where they are not testable - thus becoming somehow different in status to new crazy beliefs - and anyone who dissents from this is guilty of "disordered thinking"!

    As an experienced scientist, I find your attempted use of scientific terminology somewhat sinister; the abuse of science to advance a particular ideological view is always disturbing, particularly when it involves "exploratory operations" - even in a thought experiment.

    Alternatively - and especially as you could not be described in any way as a scientist - I could offer some diagnosis of your mental state, but I'm not qualified in any way to do that.

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  22. 'The essence of your argument seems to be that crazy beliefs can be left to mature to the point where they are not testable - thus becoming somehow different in status to new crazy beliefs - and anyone who dissents from this is guilty of "disordered thinking"! '

    We must hope that this comment was not really written by an 'experienced scientist'! let us try once again to make this plain.

    Here are some strange beliefs:

    The moon landings were faked
    Jesus rose from the dead
    The queen is a reptile
    An angel dictated the Qu'ran to Mohammed

    On the face of it, there is not much to choose between these statements. They are all implausible. They can however be divided into two sorts. On the one hand are those which will, if true, make real and detectable differences to the world and on the other hand, those which won't.

    Let us look at the fringe belief that the moon landings were faked. If this is true, then we can make a measurable prediction about the world; for instance, that there will be no human footprints on the moon. We can test this and so see if the hypothesis is a good one.

    In the case of an angle dictating the Qu'ran to Mohammed, this does not enable us to predict any way in which the world would be different if the proposition was true. There is nothing we can measure or check, because the world will appear the same whether an angel did or did not dictate the Qu'ran to Mohammed. The two types of statement are therefore fundamentally different.

    Incidentally, the person making the previous comment talked of such beliefs being left to mature until they are not testable. This is nonsense. It does not matter whether a man claimed fifteen hundred years ago that an angel dictated a document to him or if it happened half an hour ago. In neither case will the world look any different, not can we make any predictions based upon the claim. It is this which makes it very different from stories about the queen being a reptile or the moon landings being faked. It is the fact that nobody commenting here appears able to grasp the difference between these things which I find slightly alarming.

    'the abuse of science to advance a particular ideological view is always disturbing'

    The first time I have heard elementary logic described as an ideology!

    ' you could not be described in any way as a scientist'

    You will have to put my CV here for us to check, if you wish this statement to be accepted.


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  23. Leaving aside the point that those who believe in lizard people could claim that the lizard people are so far in advance of our race that we could never prove they are here, do you think that holders of certain Christian beliefs, like those who believe the Earth is a few thousand years old, and those who believe in lizard people, are all cranks? If so, do you think that all home educating Christians and Church goers should be registered and questioned about their beliefs so that those who hold crank beliefs can be monitored more closely? Also, who gets to decide which Christian beliefs are crank beliefs?

    Once you start monitoring people because they hold beliefs you disagree with or do not share, where do you draw the line and who decides?

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  24. 'do you think that holders of certain Christian beliefs, like those who believe the Earth is a few thousand years old, and those who believe in lizard people, are all cranks?'

    These beliefs do fall into the same class. Yes, I do think such people are cranks.

    ' do you think that all home educating Christians and Church goers should be registered and questioned about their beliefs so that those who hold crank beliefs can be monitored more closely?'

    Once again, I must point out the difference between somebody who believes that Jesus rose from the dead and a man who thinks that the earth is only a few thousand years old. One makes predictions about the state of the world and the other does not. I think that anybody who believes that the earth is only a few thousands years old would be unlikely to be able to provide a very good education for her child.

    'Once you start monitoring people because they hold beliefs you disagree with or do not share, where do you draw the line and who decides?'

    I really will withdraw from this discussion now, not because I have been 'rumbled' or 'caved in', but because it is clear that my point is still not being understood. This has nothing at all to do with what beliefs I share. I am talking about the nature of beliefs in general and expalining how to put them into different catagories. I am suggesting that it is the inability to distinguish between these catagories which means that a person is not able to think clearly.

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    1. Your point has been understood: you're suggesting that some beliefs are testable and some are not, and that people who can't distinguish between them can't think clearly. Your opponents understand that, but point-out that that the dividing line is blurred, and that you are deciding what's testable or not, and choosing examples of beliefs that support your case while ignoring counter-examples.


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  25. The moon landings were faked
    Jesus rose from the dead
    The queen is a reptile
    An angel dictated the Qu'ran to Mohammed
    Ideology is elementary logic
    Simon is a scientist


    There are enough crazy beliefs to deal with, without Simon introducing new ones to muddy the waters. Let's stick to the key points used by Simon to smear people:

    Is the Icke Lizard "hypothesis" testable by science? It depends who you talk to.
    About a third of Icke followers who responded to a poll think that the Lizards are a metaphor [1], so, clearly, that's not testable. But even those who genuinely believe the Lizard nonsense can claim that the tests advocated by Simon will show nothing. Simon has decided that it is possible to test for Lizard DNA or use "exploratory operations", so clearly he has his own sub-hypothesis, deliberately designed to look silly - but not likely to be popular.

    Unfortunately, Simon didn't ask the "high-profile home educator" which of these camps she fell in, which seems to be an oversight on his part. Oh, but wait a moment! She didn't claim to believe that the Queen is a lizard anyway - Simon has admitted it's merely inference on his part, based on a phone conversation, but he says that we have to trust him on this.

    Have mainstream religions made predictions that can be tested by science? Yes - obviously!
    The most famous and obvious case being the declaration by the principal Christian church that the Copernican sun-centred model was "foolish and absurd" [2,3].
    This was a particularly silly move, given that Galileo had already produced evidence to back Copernicus.

    Christian texts are littered with assertions that are obviously testable - and found to be wrong (except in the minds of some die-hards). However, realising that they had a credibility crisis, theological leaders introduced a get-out-of-jail card: none of these awkward statements should be taken literally! Six-day creations, etc., are merely metaphors or allegories. With one bound they were free - and able to attract the likes of Simon into church, so it seems.

    The mainstream religions have adapted to avoid conflict with science, so that now, a great many of the awkward stories are not taken literally by everyone; likewise, the much younger Icke Lizard story has already been adapted for credibility.

    All the stories have their guardians, papering over the cracks and inconsistencies in the own world view and pointing them out or inventing them in others.

    Simon's role in all of this is somewhat of a novelty, but it's useful for him to choose which beliefs - and ideas about those beliefs - constitute "disordered thinking" and which do not.

    [1] http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=59708
    [2] Finocchiaro, M.A., The Galileo Affair - A Documentary History. University of California Press. 1989
    [3] http://web.archive.org/web/20070930013053/http://astro.wcupa.edu/mgagne/ess362/resources/finocchiaro.html#conreport

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  26. "I really will withdraw from this discussion now, not because I have been 'rumbled' or 'caved in', but because it is clear that my point is still not being understood."

    Simon, your point is understood and has been demonstrated to be wrong; however, you seem to think that by ignoring this and restating your view, somehow you will prevail. You've missed your calling; you could have been a theologian or a political spin doctor.

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  27. Simon wrote:
    "Once again, I must point out the difference between somebody who believes that Jesus rose from the dead and a man who thinks that the earth is only a few thousand years old. One makes predictions about the state of the world and the other does not. I think that anybody who believes that the earth is only a few thousands years old would be unlikely to be able to provide a very good education for her child."

    Simon is being selective and adapting his examples; as has been pointed-out, mainstream religions have made testable predictions that have been falsified by science, but when necessary, they adapt beliefs to avoid the possibility of falsification.

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  28. "I am talking about the nature of beliefs in general and expalining how to put them into different catagories. I am suggesting that it is the inability to distinguish between these catagories which means that a person is not able to think clearly."

    Sounds like the job of a Ministry of Thought - especially when it involves being selective and making-up lies about one set of beliefs v. another, as Simon has done here.

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  29. Simon said:
    "You will have to put my CV here for us to check..."

    We've heard enough of fantasy fiction, thankyou very much.

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  30. When Simon insists that he's "misunderstood" and resorts to resurrecting his safe old standby about GCSEs in a new thread, you know he's on the run.

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  31. 'you know he's on the run'

    I must say that I am enchanted by the idea of somebody being 'on the run' from his own blog! How would this actually work?

    As I have said, each comment makes it more and more clear that none of the people reading what I have written have the least idea about the nature of hypotheses. Adding a list of references does not really turn a muddle-headed comment into an academic article! This can be seen when the person doing this talks of 'Icke followers' and then quotes a public poll of random readers of David Icke's blog, about whose views we know nothing. The geocentric cosmology which Galileo opposed is comparable with the young earth geology which I also mentioned. Another case of somebody unable to sort ideas into catagories, I'm afraid.

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  32. "I must say that I am enchanted by the idea of somebody being 'on the run' from his own blog!"

    It really is quite easy to lure you out so that you do more damage to yourself.

    "The geocentric cosmology which Galileo opposed is comparable with the young earth geology which I also mentioned."

    Of course they are! You agree with me and prove my point. Both come from mainstream religion, but geocentrism was dropped after the church realised that clinging to this view risked damaging their core beliefs in a deity, resurrection, afterlife, etc. Even many of the young-earth crowd have moved to "intelligent design" in a much older universe.

    Crazy belief systems adapt and evolve to survive, but you're trying to pigeon-hole people based on a static snapshot of different crazy beliefs. Then, when anyone questions this dichotomy, you accuse them of "disordered thinking" or being "muddle-headed" - for your own ideological reasons.

    Clearly, Simon, you aren't as smart as the theologians; they recognised that clinging to crazy ideas made them look foolish, whereas you're still sticking to the same line that has already been discredited here.

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  33. Simon wrote,
    "As I have said, each comment makes it more and more clear that none of the people reading what I have written have the least idea about the nature of hypotheses....The geocentric cosmology which Galileo opposed is comparable with the young earth geology which I also mentioned. Another case of somebody unable to sort ideas into catagories, I'm afraid."

    But it's you that decided the lizard people theory is a testable scientific hypothesis and refused to consider suggestions that this could be refuted in much the same way as you refute the testability of various Christian beliefs. Are mass religions such as Christianity the only groups you allow to use such get-out clauses? Are you sure you are not letting your own biases show, because the reasons given for non-testability for lizard people beliefs sound just as plausible as your defences of Christian beliefs to someone who does not believe either theory.

    The constant transfer of Christian beliefs from one category to another over the years as science progresses really doesn't help you cause. Eventually only the beliefs about one-off historical stories such as Jesus rising from the dead will be left unchallenged, if that point hasn't been reached already (unless a time machine is invented, of course).

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  34. 'your defences of Christian beliefs to someone who does not believe either theory.'

    This one statement alone illustrates the sheer impossibility of rational debate with these people! I have offered no defence at all of any Christian belief. In fact I have specifically said that I find all the beliefs associated with this religion implausible. This goes for virgin births, resurrections, miracles and everything else. Where has anybody seen me defending Christian beliefs? I have made this clear in the past. I have certainly worshipped in churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, but this does not mean that I subscribe to the beliefs of any of these religions. It would help if those who have deceived themselves into supposing that I have been defending Christian beliefs would read what I actually said, but I hold out little hope of this...

    At which point, since it is plain as a pikestaff that none of those commenting are really reading, let alone absorbing, anything I have written on this topic, I really must withdraw and allow you to talk among yourselves!

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    1. Really Simon, I don't know why you are struggling to understand this point, other people seem to be managing fine.

      Simon wrote,
      "I have offered no defence at all of any Christian belief."

      The defence I speak of is your assertion that various Christian beliefs are not testable by science. My assertion was that this could be claimed equally by those who believe in lizard people, as is perfectly clear if you read that short snippet you quote in context.

      Simon said,
      "but this does not mean that I subscribe to the beliefs of any of these religions."

      Who said you do? Not me. I repeatedly specified 'Christian beliefs', but at no point did I accuse you of being a Christian.

      Simon wrote,
      "In fact I have specifically said that I find all the beliefs associated with this religion implausible. This goes for virgin births, resurrections, miracles and everything else."

      So you include believing Christians in the same group as those who believe in lizard people?

      "I have certainly worshipped"

      Worshipped what or who? Some imaginary all powerful 'God' who is not testable by science? What, like those lizard people who can make their DNA appear identical to human DNA so are not testable by science?

      Delete
  35. "I have certainly worshipped in churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, but this does not mean that I subscribe to the beliefs of any of these religions."

    What is it that you worshipped?

    ReplyDelete
  36. "This one statement alone..."

    ...is all that Simon can deal with, in his devious, blinkered, way.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Simon, you haven't answered the charges that you are being selective and making your own assertions about which crazy beliefs are testable? As another anon. responded, why is Christianity allowed to invoke get-out clauses, while Icke etc., are not?

    ReplyDelete
  38. Simon wrote:

    "I have certainly worshipped in churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, but this does not mean that I subscribe to the beliefs of any of these religions."

    Previously, Simon has written:

    "I was happy to worship God in mosques in Arab countries, just as when I lived in Israel, I worshipped in synagogues. I attend church without believing that Jesus was God incarnate. "

    Perhaps this is the root of Simon's irrational assertions here; he worships "something" - "God" - and feels the need to put his irrational beliefs on a rational footing, while differentiating them from other irrational beliefs. In this respect he's no different from others in the "old guard" mainstream religions - such as the Pope - or new crazies like Icke; each sees their own set of beliefs as the "truth".

    However, it's particularly important for the old guard to differentiate themselves from new crazy beliefs, and to make those new beliefs appear crazy. In the face of something new and wild - like Icke - Simon is happy to form an uneasy alliance with the Pope et al., and condemn the newcomers as bonkers. If necessary, the old guard will attribute things such as "scientific testability" to the new beliefs, in an attempt to destroy their credibility.

    While the beliefs of the old guard have included things that are "testable", these have been brushed under the carpet with the get-out clauses of metaphor and allegory. Simon claims that Icke's beliefs are testable, but it's not clear that Icke or his believers agree with this - and after all, it's their crazy belief, not Simon's; he has enough of his own.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "It would help if those who have deceived themselves into supposing that I have been defending Christian beliefs would read what I actually said, but I hold out little hope of this..."

    The point is that Simon and Christianity share a common defence: hiding behind non-falsifiability. For Simon, no doubt, that's also very convenient in maintaining a veneer of "respectability" (especially given that he uses their facillities).

    How would Simon cope, I wonder, if Icke (or anyone else for that matter), declared that the Queen is a shape-shifting Lizard whose physical and biological characteristics when in human form are indistinguishable from those of humans? That's still crazy, but not falsifiable.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "How would Simon cope, I wonder, if Icke (or anyone else for that matter), declared that the Queen is a shape-shifting Lizard whose physical and biological characteristics when in human form are indistinguishable from those of humans? That's still crazy, but not falsifiable."

    That would be easy for him to deal with; unlike those of us who - Simon says - are "unable to sort ideas into catagories", he would split his non-falsifiable category into:

    - "Non-falsifiable, respectable beliefs" (i.e., Simon's)
    - "Non-falsifiable, crazy beliefs" (everyone else).

    Simples!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "- "Non-falsifiable, respectable beliefs" (i.e., Simon's)
      - "Non-falsifiable, crazy beliefs" (everyone else). "

      The latter would also be regulated by the Local Authorities, through monitoring and inspection.

      Delete
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