Sunday, September 18, 2011

Open Thread on 727

Secular charitities mentioned in today's show include:
These organizations help real people in this life - the only one we're sure to get. They're transparent about what they do, and serve anyone in need.

As I mentioned on the show today, the idea that some reward awaits the faithful in the afterlife is one of the religious doctrines that impairs our ability to solve the problems that plague humanity. It makes it easier to ignore suffering if you think some people are better off dead. Well, it's not okay with me for people to go without medical care because they're poor. It's not okay for people to go hungry in a country where obesity is a major health concern. It's not okay for women to be pregnant year after year until they die of exhaustion. The organizations above are doing what they can to solve these problems. If you can help, please do, and thank you.

And now, open thread - have at it.


  1. Now prepare for the Great Argument over whether the first called was a poe or just a magnificent idiot.

  2. I think the first 2 callers might have been the attempts of this weirdo and his friends trying to prank call the show to get more theist callers...

  3. I wish one of the 'philosophers' from the post below this one would call in and challenge the hosts.

  4. "Now prepare for the Great Argument over whether the first called was a poe or just a magnificent idiot."

    You mean if the first person was Mark/CLF....

  5. "Now prepare for the Great Argument over whether the first called was a poe or just a magnificent idiot."

    I'm thinking he could be both of those things.

  6. "Poe or magnificent idiot?"

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

  7. I'm pretty sure the first caller was Mark (it sounded just like him).

  8. Blah, he's ruining the show. Can't even enjoy the unrefined glory of theism because now I'm calling into question that any of them are legitimate.

    We need more female theists, unless he can pretend to be a woman.

  9. Female theists. You mean like Eve that ended up marrying one of the hosts? No. What we need to sideline poes is to have more guests like when Ray Comfort called the show. Then we are guranteed at least SOME level of quality debate.
    Of course that's not likely to happen and even if it did I am afraid the hosts would go easy on the guests out of the legitimate fear that they would scare away any further guests from calling in.

  10. Statistically, the prank call rate from female callers is much lower. Because they're not jerks as often.

    Sifting through the archives, I've found quite a bunch of female theist calls that were quite interesting.

  11. Renaming “internet” to “church of Satan” was at least an amusing ploy. I was hoping the hosts would rename “this caller” to “guy who is always wrong” in response.

    It is hard for me to imagine someone can be so dense without deliberate effort, but that is just an argument from ignorance. I can’t ever be very sure if the first call was a prank or not. Poe’s law, it torments me so.

  12. Good show guys. You had a fair amount of people who somewhat agreed with you or just needed minor help, but it was still interesting and informative.

  13. I loved the show. My only complaint would have to be about the suspected poes/prank callers. I apologize if this has been brought up before, but is there really no way to get caller ID for the show? Having a bunch of immature 14 year-olds calling the show for kicks would take too much time from the genuinely interesting callers...that being said...

    I found Matt's whole explanation on energy, the brain, and consciousness to be very interesting. And I found Jen's argument -that thinking there's an afterlife can keep a person from sincerely caring for human life and helping others- insightful.

    I look forward to the next show. Oh, and Mark/CLF's a tool. Just saying...

  14. I don't think the first caller was Mark. He had a whole different style and manner about him. Also, he was very ignorant of the way the show works and atheists in general. I do wish Matt had strung him along for a while though. I think you could have gotten a lot of good points out through him. I wouldn't let him refer to the internet as "Satan's Church" tho. He did seem to think he could use whatever terms he liked and we wouldn't find them insulting. I would have just spelled it out for him. "If you are going to call in, don't you think you'd have better luck not insulting us?" (Sure, "WE" insult guests, but it is "our" show.)

    The second guy sounded very much like Charlie, the guy with word definition problems. He must be taking a new tack, for all the good it did him. He was still stuck on a word tho..

    I enjoyed Jen being on. I like the way she and Traci think. Go girls!

  15. On 8/17/2011 at 4:42 PM Matt Dillahunty wrote...

    "The callback suggestion isn't realistic because:

    1. it limits callers to only those people who are willing to give out their phone numbers
    2. we can't make outgoing long-distance calls
    3. it's just an annoyingly cumbersome way to try to do a call-in show"

  16. I think you were too dismissive of that first guy. Even if he was just a person pretending to have that specific set of opinions, it is not outside the realm of possibility that another person thinks that "atheists are just sent by satan", or such crap.

    I still think policy should be to believe someone is expressing their true opinions unless proven otherwise.

    Or if said opinions are just so absurd they are not constructive to discuss.

    In my humble and perhaps not-shared opinion....things didn't start getting good until the theists went away. Maybe we should have less of those guys. :b

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. I really don't know why we have to obsess over whether callers are "getting us" by pretending to be theists are not. If those people that are pretending to be theists do it well enough that they are indistinguishable from actual theists, it's not much of a prank, really. It's just a discussion where one person is playing devil's advocate.

    It might be a little creepy to find out someone was essentially lying about their opinions. But I think that it doesn't really matter on a show with an emphasis on discussion. See what I mean? The people don't matter, it's the ideas that matter. And if the ideas are presented, they should be discussed regardless of circumstances surrounding the person.

  19. @AJ Green
    Ahh...Thank you, that does makes sense.

    @ Andrew
    I see your point. And I suppose I do agree that the circumstances surrounding the person don't matter and that the ideas should be addressed regardless.

    Having seen that, the problem with prank callers and poes would then be, not so much that they're playing devil's advocate but, that they're taking time away from callers -both theist and atheist- that either actually care, have a genuine question/argument, or both. Though, I guess from a listeners perspective it'd still pretty interesting either way.

  20. Has anyone noticed that, due to the background image, in the wide shots Matt seems to have a halo around his head. Holy Matt!

  21. Shouldn't we be happy that the show doesn't get as many "hostile theists" as it has in the past? THat means that either attitudes towards atheism have been slowly becoming more positive (or at least less negative) or just fewer theists actually watch the show, which i find hard to believe given it's massive accessibility.

  22. I enjoyed this show.

    They've got to push on through the "Mark" thing, try to weed him out and just keep going. Anything else would be, well, unthinkable and/or a spiteful way of punishing everyone for "Mark"s actions.

    I assume "Mark" is reading this. Your actions won't make more theist callers call. The fact your theist personas get shifted to the front of the queue should prove theist callers get priority. What else can they do? How does faking theism and burning air time achieve your goal? It doesn't. They already encourage theist callers. They already push them to the front of the queue. If you want more theist callers... petition theists to call in. Harassing the program doesn't help your proclaimed goal, it makes theists think it's a scam show not worth calling.

    On another note, make sure you're OK. I've seen similar harassment/attention seeking behaviour on internet forums that ended in the person committing suicide. This might be a distraction from your problems, but it won't fix them. Take care of yourself.

  23. Honestly, the whole "Mark" making demands thing was just him covering his butt. After getting called out, he had to make up some big, important sounding ultimatum to feel like he was in charge and manipulate people into giving him attention. To think that he had been planning something this asinine from the beginning gives him way too much credit, and his "demands" didn't hint at any kind of forethought or plan, so he probably made it up then and there. Classic attention troll.

  24. "I don't know seems to be a perfectly acceptable answer. Who knew? I didn't."


  25. Just to comment on the point about alien abductions being "not supernatural". I think if we do encounter a very advanced alien civilization, we'll probably think they are some sort of "gods", because they will be capable of things that seem supernatural to us.

    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

  26. I think rebranding the Internet as "The Church of Satan" was a pretty brilliant idea actually. :)

  27. @penguinman

    If we were like in th midle ages, then sure, they would look like gods to us, but today, and can se the diference between tecnology and supernatural.

  28. The problem with poe calling in, from my point of view, is that no matter how accurately they attempt to portray theist idealogies, they will not be a true representation of all theists (even if it's not a poe, the same would be true) and what you end up with is giving any theist the ammunition to say "those atheists are just misrepresenting us. Lying about what we believe." To me, this is not "positive atheism" and should not be promoted. Granted, I have no workable solution to the prank caller problem, but I do feel it should not be glorified after the fact.

  29. Two quick notes, I've not yet finished the episode but there are on my mind:

    1 - The appeal to popularity always reminds me of the Ghandi line about "If you are in a minority of one the truth is still the truth." Facts are impervious to popularity.

    2 - The "cities mentioned in the Bible once thought mythical have been discovered therefore God". By that same argument cities in various Chinese folk tales once thought mythical have recently* discovered and shown to have once existed. Therefore Chinese mythology must all be true. I'm sure the same pattern could be discovered in any other ancient mythology. Proves nothing.

    *recent meaning the last few decades.

    3 - Matt's line about "If you have come up with a formula explaining God, then you misunderstand both the God concept and math." is going into the quotefile.

  30. 1 - We need an online petition to IANA to rename "internet" to "Church of Satan". NOW!

    2 - Did we really have Charlie the Schmarriage Guy back? Oh crap. Maybe he is the "friends" that Mark claims he has? I smell a nice conspiracy theory rising!

    I, for myself, would actually like to see a few shows without any callers, just to see if it is more interesting. Because the callers we're having these days are boring. I'm actually enjoying the Non-Prophets more than the Atheist Experience just because of that.

  31. @Maximilian Vogeland

    You can also hear the Godless Bitches podcast, its more of the good stuff.

  32. @Mauricio Duque

    "If we were like in th midle ages, then sure, they would look like gods to us, but today, and can se the diference between tecnology and supernatural."

    Really? Why? What makes the modern era so special?

    If Jesus Christ and 500 angels appeared right in front of you and he said "What's up, I'm Jesus!" how would you know someone wasn't playing an elaborate illusion on you? But then let's go further and say he lays a hand on you and suddenly all of your bodies imperfections are erased and evened out. Even then, how would you know that he wasn't a time traveler or alien with super-advanced technology to manipulate matter?

    The way I see it, there is no "supernatural." There's what we have an explanation for and what we don't. That's why when I hear the question "What would convince you that a god exists?" my answer is increasingly "nothing."

  33. @ Andrew, Mauricio Duque, Penguinman

    Your comments remind me a lot of a quote from the movie Thor:
    “Your Ancestors Called it Magic, but You Call it Science. I Come From a Land Where They Are One and the Same."

    "The way I see it, there is no "supernatural." There's what we have an explanation for and what we don't." - Andrew

    Very true and very insightful. Just curious but, would you say that if man found something that "defies the laws of physics" it would be due to either incorrect or incomplete knowledge of the laws of physics?

    Mauricio Duque was half-right when he said:
    "If we were like in th[e] mid[d]le ages, then sure, they would look like gods to us, but today, [we] can s[e]e the diference between tec[h]nology and [the] supernatural."

    Some people would be skeptical about it and try to look into how the "magic" was performed. They might even go as far as to try to replicate what happened and see how to apply what they learned to society. We call these people skeptics, scientists, etc. Raelians might also try to say that the God is just an advanced alien - though for different reasons...

    Unfortunately, there's a lot of very gullible people as well as people who really want to believe in the supernatural. In a situation, like the one Andrew described, those people would likely prostrate themselves on the ground and worship the alien/time traveler. We call these people theists, etc.

  34. @Andrew

    "Really? Why? What makes the modern era so special?"

    Because now we have a lot more ways to get data, and we are (in most cases) a lot more skeptics than the persons of middle ages.

    Of course, that if some alien exist, and he able to fool not just our senses, but our eletronics that gather this data, than we could be fooled to think that this fact was supernatural, but that possibility is very unlikely.

  35. Throwing around mathematical terms does not make an abstract concept quantifiable. Designing a proof for unicorns by inventing a new definition for Unicorn does not mean all ideas of the word unicorn are true. It is as erroneous as claiming, "God is love, love exists, therefore God exists."
    Being smart does not always equal being right. In fact, in my experience, the most clever people (and the ones who have earned my trust/respect) are those who can admit when they are wrong and learn from failed models.

  36. @Mauricio, @RayB

    I really do not think it makes any difference whether we are in the stone age, middle ages or the modern age when it comes to our ability to comprehend any alien civilization we might encounter. Our brain is just not "evolved" enough.
    Please remember that a mere 10 million years separate us from the great apes, a blink of the eye in a galaxy close to 10 billion years old. Any alien civilization we encounter might easily have existed for 10 million years or longer. Saying that we can "figure out" or replicate alien technology is like saying a chimp can figure out space travel or quantum physics.

    If we ever meet aliens, it will look like magic to us, assuming we can even detect them in the first place.

  37. @RayB: Yes, I think that if something contradicts what we say we know, then we either have a faulty theory or a faulty perception. That is how science works, and this week at CERN they observed something that might cause us to seriously rethink Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

    @Mauricio: I'd agree there's more skepticism and lack of superstition than in other eras, but there's still a lot that we don't know and quite obviously a huge number of people who shrug and say "it's God" when confronted with something unknown. If civilization keeps progressing, I really think technology 100 to 200 years from now will be capable of things only dreamed of by modern sci-fi writers. As Sagan said in Cosmos (I paraphrase): the interstellar spaceships of the future will bear as little resemblance to 20th Century ideas as modern aircraft do to DiVinci's flying machine designs.

  38. @Penguinman

    "Saying that we can "figure out" or replicate alien technology is like saying a chimp can figure out space travel or quantum physics. "

    But the inverse can also be true, we can be more avanced in tecnology than other possible worlds, its not because it may have other civilizations out there, that it means they are more avanced, and even if they were, that dosent mean they are much far from us in tecnology.

    Black and white can be true in this history, but that dosent mean there are no shades of gray in the midle.

    But again, iam saying that we can tell what is what, much better than passed eras, not just because we begin to abandon our religious belief (as society) and we can be more skeptics, but because our knowledge increased several times in a very short time, and we are alread able to grasp things that would be too fantastic to believe in other times, like magnetism, radiation, dark matter (this one being my favorite ^^).

  39. It's unfair that the non-prophets pick on Perry for praying for water and instead getting fires. The combustion reaction for organic molecules (R) is

    R + O2 -combustion> CO2 + H2O.

    H2O is Water! The fires are bringing water.

  40. That's very true. God works in mysterious ways!


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