-- Secret “war-crime” warrants by International Criminal Court is mischief-making
Getting the full story about Ukraine
The west vs the rest – the world is changing
Ukraine commemorates Nazi collaborators
Do New Zealanders no longer support Ukraine?
The subtlety of neo-Nazi influence in Ukraine – ignored by our media
Where are Ukrainian refugees going? – an update
Is New Zealand covertly supporting the glorification of neo-Nazism?
Following the war in Ukraine – an update
Russian anti-war protester goes to see for herself
You can’t understand Ukraine without acknowledging its deep divisions
Once again, those Russian neo-Nazis – the Wagner group
A heartwarming story about a Ukrainian prisoner of war
Over 50 POWs killed. A military accident or a cynical war crime?
Ukraine/Russia war, an intelligence operation or a sting, Ukrainian and UK spies, and Bellingcat
Mainstream media defends poor journalism by smearing good journalism
Ukraine war – a shocking failure of our mainstream media
How is the war going?
Why should Ukraine listen to lame duck Boris Johnson?
Ukraine war – a failure of honest diplomacy and reason
British volunteer soldier in Ukraine speaks up
What about those Russian neo-Nazis?
Neo-Nazis in Ukraine – stages of denial
Confusion about neo-Nazis in Ukraine-Russia war
Neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Comedians are often more truthful than politicians.
Ukraine – a beginner’s guide
Why the silence on censorship?
Everything You Know About Ukraine Is WRONG
Some sense on the Russia-Ukraine war
British volunteer soldier in Ukraine tells his story
Virtue signaling over Ukraine
Fluoridation and child IQ – the problem of counting chickens before they hatch
August ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
July ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
June ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Anti-fluoridation group tells porkies about NZ fluoridation review
Opponents of fluoridation all at sea with new legislation
Update of NZ fluoridation review timely and useful
May ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation contribution to heavy metals in drinking water is too low to measure
April ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Hip fractures in the elderly and fluoride – contradictory evidence
March ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
An open letter to Paul Connet and the anti-fluoride movement
February ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Data dredging, p-hacking and motivated discussion in anti-fluoride paper
Censorship: Thinking you are right – even if you’re wrong
Embarrassing knock-back of second draft review of possible cognitive health effects of fluoride
The promotion of weak statistical relationships in science
Can we trust science?
January ’21 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
I don’t “believe” in science – and neither should you
December ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Science is often wrong – be critical
November ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Hyping it up over fluoridation
September ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
August ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
July ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Even studies from endemic fluorosis areas show fluoride is not harmful at levels used in fluoridation
Canadian studies confirm findings of Broadbent et al (2015) – fluoridation has no effect on child IQ
Child IQ in countries with endemic fluorosis imply fluoridation is safe.
Anti-fluoride 65 brain-fluoride studies not evidence against fluoridation
June ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking delayed
Another study used by anti-fluoride activists actually shows community water fluoridation OK
May ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
When scientists get political: Lead fluoride-IQ researcher launches emotional attack on her scientific critics
New study touted by anti-fluoridation campaigners actually indicates fluoridation is safe
No relationship of bone cancer to fluoridation – another new study the anti-fluoride brigade will attempt to ignore
New review finds fluoride is not a developmental neurotoxicant at exposure levels relevant to fluoridation
April ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Anti-fluoride campaigners still rely on irrelevant studies
Author confirms anti-fluoridation activist misrepresentation of her work
Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 6: Incestuous relationship of these studies
Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 5: Don’t censor yourself
Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 4: Till et al (2020)
Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 3: Riddell et al (2019)
Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 2: Green et al (2019)
Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 1: Bashash et al (2018)
March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
No; a new study from Ethiopia does not indicate fluoridation is bad for your bones
Anti-fluoridationists put faith in new “strong” studies to provide evidence missing in draft NTP review
Industry-funded translation can introduce bias in selection of studies for scientific review
Another embarrassment for anti-fluoride campaigners as neurotoxic claim found not to be justified
February ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Beware of scientific paper abstracts – read the full text to avoid being fooled
January ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation and sex steroid hormones – or the mouse that roared
What are the recent fluoride-IQ studies really saying about community water fluoridation?
December ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation science and political advocacy – who is fooling who?
Scientific integrity & fluoridation – Dr Ghali responds
Sleep disorders and fluoride: dredging data to confirm a bias
Some fluoride-IQ researchers seem to be taking in each other’s laundry
Statistical manipulation to get publishable results
Scientific integrity requires critical investigation – not blind acceptance
November ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Anti-fluoride propagandists appear not to read the articles they promote
The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
October ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
ADHD and fluoride – wishful thinking supported by statistical manipulation?
Experts complain to funding body about quality of fluoride-IQ research
What do these mother-child studies really say about fluoridation?
September ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Biostatistical problems with the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
Fluoridation – A new fight against scientific misinformation
An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Bye, bye to the collusion lie
If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help
Anti-fluoride activists misrepresent a new kidney/liver study
July ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
MH17 tragedy- 5 years on
June ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Chemical watchdog confirms suppressed report but justifies the suppression
May ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Does international chemical watchdog cherry-pick evidence to confirm a bias?
Psychology of Russiagate – an adult discussion for a change
April ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Russiagate – Some insights into its origins and results
Russiagate: Lessons for the media. But will they listen?
March ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Aftermath of the Mueller report – the media starts looking at itself
Mueller report to be released mid April – but it will be redacted
Collapse of the “Russiagate ” myth exposes how corporate media has failed
Getting out alive – why we should always demand evidence
Terrorism in Christchurch – some thoughts
“Disinformation” and the mainstream media
February ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
January ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Preempting the annual misrepresentation of NZ dental health data by anti-fluoride activists
December ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation: Another study shows stopping fluoridation bad for child tooth decay
November ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Media manipulation – the tail wags the dog
Protection of teeth by fluoride confirmed – yet again
And you thought Russiagate could not get sillier.
Trump and the media – codependents wallowing in the mud
Julian Assange’s mother appeals for her son’s freedom
October ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Nuclear dangers if INF treaty abandoned could be worse than in the 1980s
Fluoridation and ADHD: A new round of statistical straw clutching
September ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
September ’18 NZ blog ranking – delayed
Flight MH17 tragedy in Ukraine – new evidence
Novichock detection and the Salisbury tourists
A more convincing take on prenatal maternal dietary effects on child IQ
Fluoridation: “debating” the science?
Opportunities and problems for grassroots activism offered by the internet
August ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Who is weaponising the vaccination debate?
Another BUK accident in Ukraine
Policing social media – who is coming next and who is behind it?
Political interference prevents investigators from considering the “bleeding obvious”
July ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Mainstream media “mob violence” over Helsinki summit
Blatant misreporting of latest OPCW report on chemical weapons in Syria
Time for a serious auditing of Porton Down’s nerve agent stocks?
June ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Anti-fluoride campaigners exhaust their legal channels with another loss
Magical World Cup Gala Concert
May ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Anti-fluoridation activists buy scientific credibility using a predatory publisher
Another shonky OPCW chemical incident report on Syria
Not just another rat study
Russian sports doping scandal looking like an illusion?
April ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Mainstream media-political alliance gets vindictive
Novichock – a marketing ploy?
The “heart of the Syrian chemical weapons programme” destroyed?
OPCW on Salisbury poisoning – one step forward, two back?
Anti-fluoridationist Paul Connett misrepresents NZ data
Anti-fluoridationists rejection of IQ studies in fluoridated area.
March ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
A conference paper on the maternal prenatal urinary fluoride/child IQ study has problems
The 52 IQ studies used by anti-fluoride campaigners
The real lessons from Vladimir Putin’s re-election
Why is it so difficult to get an open discussion on fluoridation?
Mary Byrne’s criticism is misplaced and avoids the real issues
Anti-fluoride group coordinator responds to my article
Where could you get a nerve agent in Salisbury?
The first casualty . .
Paul Connett’s misrepresentation of maternal F exposure study debunked
February ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Anti-fluoride activist commits “Death by PowerPoint”
Paul Connett “updates” NZ MPs about fluoride?
Anti-fluoride activists misrepresent another thyroid study
Fake news from the White Helmets returns
RT election subversion – yet again?
January ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Yet another fluoride-IQ study
So you are saying . . . . . !
Jordan Peterson demonstrates the importance of free speech
Select your conspiracy theory and connect the dots
Whose who in the Russiagate affair – an infographic
A week of good news in New Zealand
Is “Russiagate” another deception like Iraqi WMDs?
“Fire and Fury” exposes the fundamental problems of the anti-Trump movement
Confirmation bias – we all suffer from it but how can we reduce its effect?
December ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Yet another way Russia is undermining our society
Anti-fluoridationists misrepresent New Zealand dental data – an annual event
Fluoridation means money in the pocket
Anti-fluoridation campaigners often use statistical significance to confirm bias
November ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The problem with scepticism
Chemical weapons use in Syria UN report flawed by political bias
Anti-fluoride “expert” finds the real reason oral health has improved – and it’s not fluoride
Meat substitutes – prospects and new ethical questions
October ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
New fluoride debate falters
Political maturity in New Zealand – at least compared to the US
Flaw and porkie in anti-fluoride report claiming a flaw in Canadian study
Do we need a new fluoride debate?
September ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Endemic fluorosis and its health effects
Maternal urinary fluoride/IQ study – an update
Fluoride, pregnancy and the IQ of offspring
Facts about fluorosis – not a worry in New Zealand
We need more post-publication peer review
Cassini plunges into Saturn tonight – a grand finale
What’s with the anti-fluoridationist promotion of dental health programmes?
Non-violence in the defence of free speech
August ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation not associated with ADHD – a myth put to rest
From Charlottesville to Boston – a lesson
Hypocrisy, irrationality and wise words from Monty Python
Are we all anti-fascist now?
Are fluoride researchers sacked for their findings?
Fluoridation and cancer
Local anti-fluoride activists tell porkies yet again
July ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The main stream media is out of touch
Don’t rely on sources – follow the evidence
Stovepiping to produce fake news
June ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Darwin, sexual selection and Putin
Fluoridation: Open letter to Democrats for Social Credit
Fluoridation: What’s happening with the New Zealand legislation?
May ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The “information war” and social media, or how to tell if you are a Kremlin troll
Anti-fluoridationists commonly misrepresent Ministry of Health data
ChildSmile – a complement, not an alternative, to fluoridation
Fluoridation helps protect adult teeth as well as children’s
Fluoridation: the truth about heavy metal contamination
Visualising the numbers – The Fallen of World War II
Bottle fed infants: fluoridated water not a problem
April ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Citing scientific studies and the arrogance of ignorance
No, fluoridation is not associated with leading causes of death
Anti-fluoridationists exploit infant deaths by fiddling statistics
Here we go again
The Putin Derangement Syndrome
Bottle fed infants: fluoridated water not a problem.
March ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Another anti-fluoridation whopper
2018 Global Atheist Convention
Fluoridation: Making sense of the Ministry of Health data
Fluoride, coffee and activist confusion
Trump didn’t invent the problems – and his opponents didn’t invent protest
Anti-fluoride authors indulge in data manipulation and statistical porkies
Be careful what you wish for
An Oscar for Al Qaeda?
February ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
EPA comprehensively debunks anti-fluoride claims of a fluoride-IQ effect
Anti-fluoridationists go to Supreme Court – who is paying for this?
Debunking a “classic” fluoride-IQ paper by leading anti-fluoride propagandists
Islamophobia or mental illness?
Tha Amnesty report – and a response from Syria
Non-fluoridated Christchurch does not have better teeth than fluoridated Auckland
January ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Debunking anti-fluoridationist’s remaining 12 reasons for opposing fluoridation
Madonna teaches us a lesson in critical thinking
New research confirms adults benefit from community water fluoridation as well as children
Premature births a factor in cognitive deficits observed in areas of endemic fluorosis?
Sources our mainstream media uses to promote their narrative about Syria
More nails in the coffin of the anti-fluoridation myths around IQ and hypothyroidism
Water fluoridation – what to expect in the near future
Fluoridation: New scientific review of fluoride and oral health
Critical thinking, not censorship, is the solution to fake news
Anti-fluoride IQ claims are false
December ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Large Swedish study finds no effect of fluoride on IQ
Fake news and the new fact-free reporting paradigm
Fluoridation: New research confirms it is cost effective – yet again
Fluoridation: members of parliament call from submissions from scientific and health experts
Fake news, human suffering and the fight against terrorism
November ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Sometimes I think the world has gone mad
Leader of flawed fluoridation study gets money for another go
White Helmets confirm authenticity of acted “rescue” video
Manufacturing news, and opinion, about Syria
Why should we subsidise religious leaders and their silly statements?
Warriors, scouts, Trump’s election and your news media
US elections – who should you be angry with?
Trump’s victory – why the surprise, why the anger?
Anti-fluoride claims often not relevant to New Zealand
October ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
White Helmets dupes New Zealand government?
Voluntary media censorship is ethically wrong
Fluoridation not associated with hip fracture, heart attacks of osteosarcoma – new study
Anti-fluoridation activist Paul Connett has a senior moment about our debate
“Humanitarian” intervention and war crimes
Crocodile tears over Syria at UN security council
Anti-Syrian propaganda and the White Helmets
Shyness of anti-fluoride election candidates
Syria & the fog of war
September ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
But will it stand up in court?
Flogging a dead horse – anti-fluoridationists lose in court again
Syria UN Ambassador makes sense of the war in Syria
The shaky Syrian ceasefire agreement staggers on – or does it?
Fluoridation & democracy: Open letter to DHB candidate Andrew Buckley
When will they ever learn?
Ceasefire in Syria is exposing real nature of “moderate” rebels
What do Syrians think of the new cessation of hostilities agreement?
Dissecting pseudoscientific and political propaganda
August ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
An anti-fluoride trick: Impressing the naive with citations
Does community water fluoridation reduce diabetes prevalence?
“Filtering” out fluoride
Rio Olympics – what are those gold medals worth?
Fluoridation – freedom of choice
Is water fluoridation better than salt fluoridation?
Ethics and the doping scandal – a response to Guest Work
Being better informed – unexpected advice from The Guardian
July ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Quantifying the problem of international sports doping
Dental health – it’s not all about fluoride
The Putin diversion
The insult of low expectations
MH17 tragedy – 2 years on
Misrepresenting fluoride science – an open letter to Paul Connett
Are you really right?
June ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Why don’t feminists fight for Muslim women?
Permission to have that conversation
A cynical take on effective speakers
Richard Dawkins – speech to Reason Rally, 2016
Chemophobic scaremongering: Much ado about absolutely nothing
MH17 tragedy – new investigation launched
Fluoridation: News media should check press releases from anti-fluoridationists
Fluoridation debate: Responding to Tom O’Connor
May ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
New review shows clear economic benefits from community water fluoridation
Debating fluoridation and tyranny – Tom O’Connor responds
Attempting a tyranny of the minority on fluoridation
Writing to please the reader’s ear
Fluoridation: One small step sideways?
New research confirms water fluoridation does not cause bone cancers
Public discussion of science can be toxic
Fluoridation cessation studies reviewed – overall increase in tooth decay noted
Mistakes were made – but by who?
Don’t be fooled by simple media “science”
“Do the math” – a bit like “Do the research!”
Victory Day celebration of defeat of terrorism in Palmyra
Will we be using contact lens cameras in future?
Barrel bombs, hell cannons, Aleppo and media bias
April ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Korean community water fluoridation supported by new evidence
Science and management – a clash of cultures
Anti-fluoride campaigners cherry-pick irrelevant overseas research but can’t find relevant New Zealand research
Cochrane fluoridation review described as “empty”
Anti-fluoridationists misrepresent new dental data for New Zealand children
A challenge to anti-fluoridationers to justify their misrepresentation of New Zealand research
Fluoridation decisions to be made by District Health Boards
Nadine gives a necessary message to her fellow Muslims
Anti-fluoridationists now scaremonger about silica in your drinking water
Reversed responsibility and the burden of proof
Anti-fluoridation cherry-pickers at it again
March ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation: My podcast with with Howard Farran
Why is Donald Trump so successful – and will he win?
Why are our politicians so silent on Palmyra’s liberation from clutches of Daesh?
The US speaks in two tongues on terrorism
Chemistry is everywhere – even in those natural products
Life for women under Daesh (ISIS)
The toxicity of chemophobia
Anti-fluoridation campaigner, Stan Litras, misrepresents WHO
Hiding behind “experts”
The “interfaith” trap – particularly for atheists
A Chinese study the anti-fluoridation crowd won’t be citing
Misrepresentation, misogyny and misandry – these should concern sceptics
Searching articles on fluoride
February ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Big business funding of anti-science propaganda on health
Anti-fluoridationist’s flawed attacks on Calgary study
Media misleading on Syria
Stephen Fry on Twitter
Richard Dawkins and the Skeptics Conference controversy.
Is the media lying to you about Syria?
Fluoridation: Whakatane teaches us something we should already know
Chemistry – “to dupe, to cheat?”
What a pleasant surprise!
Censorship by demonisation
Once more on the IQ and fluoride myth – why ignore other factors?
January ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoridation: Whakatane District Council makes the Hamilton mistake
New study finds community water fluoridation still cost effective
“Crusade Against Multiple Regression Analysis” – don’t throw baby out with bathwater
Fluoridation: Some simple chemistry
The danger of insisting on your own facts
Flight MH17 in Ukraine – what do intelligence services know?
Iron and fluoride in human milk
Hubris of the google researcher
The Harvard study and the Lancet paper
Cultural and ideological bias in scientific literature reviews
Facts, beliefs and delusions
Science – a method of investigation, not a belief system
Yet another misrepresentation of a dental health study
December ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Peer review – the “tyranny” of the third reviewer
Christmas – “White Wine In The Sun”
Community water fluoridation still cost-effective
Democracy and expert advice on scientific issues
Fluoride and IQ – another study coming up
The hardest thing in life . .
Climate deal signed – now for the hard bit: action
Traditions and social arrangements out of step with social diversity
“Natural News” on trial in The Hague for crimes against science
Rejection of scientific studies in online discussions
Another defeat for anti-fluoridation claims about arsenic
November ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The problem with reasoned discussion
John Pilger on Paris, ISIS and Media Propaganda
Science is never done – some scientific terms explained
Studies show – or do they?
Should we trust science? – Wellington talk
Can world leaders learn from the Paris terror attacks?
Anti-fluoride hypothyroidism paper slammed yet again
Cyberchondria and similar “illnesses”
Onehunga and the “fluoride-free” myth
Thames voters decisively support fluoridation
Why doesn’t Putin shirtfront someone?
October ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Scientific papers, civil disobedience and personal networks
The quackery of anti-fluoride internet trolls
Our beautiful planet: Astronaut art works
Christian co-option of karakia
Combatting anti-fluoride Gish gallopers
MH17: Final technical report
Responding to Tracey Brown on fluoridation
“The ugly truth” – Tracey Brown ticks me off
MH17 – another Boeing sacrificed for investigation.
The ugly truth about critics of “the ugly truth” in science
Many Syrians see Russians as saviours
Door knockers should pay to interrupt us
September ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoride: More scaremongering using drug warnings
Putin’s UN address: “Do you realise what you’ve done?”
Obama’s United Nations address: “We Must Stamp Out ‘Apocalyptic Cult’ ISIS”
European and Māori major non-believers in NZ
Cochrane responds to misrepresentation of their fluoridation review
ChildSmile dental health – its pros and cons
Should all scientists really be militant atheists?
The Alternative Medicine Racket
The chemical party
A job with a view – but not for the clumsy
Fluoridation: Freedom of choice – and responsibility
My talk to the Reason & Science Society – an invite
Why the internet annoys chemists
Freedom of religion and belief – not a license to interfere with others
Humanitarian intervention – but when & how?
Discussing science on social media
August ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Australian census religion question – progress
In the end, it came down to the science in Denver
Subverting democratic consultation on the fluoride issue
Religious instruction scrapped from school curriculum in Victoria
Alternative reality of anti-fluoride “science”
What is life?
Anti-fluoride propagandists get creative with statistics
Fluoridation: Connett’s criticism of New Zealand research debunked
Fluoridation: Connett’s naive use of WHO data debunked
Time to give up on Sitemeter
70th anniversary of first use of atomic weapon against civilians
Connett misrepresents the fluoride and IQ data yet again
Fluoridation: Newsweek science journalism bottoms out
July ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The bureaucratic solution to a problem
Fluoridation: “Sciencey” sounding claims ruled unacceptable
Comparing the Cochrane and NZ Fluoridation Reviews
Rapid change in attitudes to marriage equality
Scaremongering and chemophobia
MH17 tragedy: 1 year on
Talk of “mini ice age” bunkum
Progress in removing religious instruction from public schools?
Fluoridation: Beliefs about safety and benefits
Climate change: Our time really is running out
Cochrane fluoridation review. III: Misleading section on dental fluorosis
June ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Cochrane fluoridation review. II: “Biased” and poor quality research?
Cochrane fluoridation review. I: Most research ignored
What is causing warming of the earth?
New science bloggers wanted for Sciblogs 2.0
Gagging of scientists – a common problem?
I wish more people were aware of this
Misrepresentation of the new Cochrane fluoridation review
News media – telling us how to think
Misrepresenting the York fluoride review
Fluoridation: Misrepresenting the “saliva theory”
Something to consider
Fluoridation and horses – another myth
Science and social media in new Zealand
Monday morning proverb
Fake weight-loss study example of wider problem
Calcium fluoride and the “soft” water anti-fluoridation myth
May ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Connett & Hirzy do a shonky risk assesment for fluoride
Making mountains out of scientific mole hills
Don’t expect to see chemical safety data sheets in restaurants
RSNZ Science Book Prize winner – Tangata Whenua
Don’t put all the blame on the Germans – a lesson from World War II
The problem of “Fact-Resistant Humans”
What a nice idea
Water fluoridation effective – new study
Follow the money?
The distrust of science – a task for science communication
We always seem to ignore the causes
April ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Wise words from Carl Sagan
Poor peer review – and its consequences
Connett fiddles the data on fluoride
ADHD link to fluoridation claim undermined again
Commercial and ideological support of anti-fluoride activity
Why is Vladimir Putin so popular in the USA?
Is comfirmation bias essential to anti-fluoride “research?”
The will to find out
IQ not influenced by water fluoridation
Making sense of scientific research
The frustrations of modern technology
March ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Poor peer-review – a case study
The arrogance of science?
New Zealand science book prize – 2015 Short list
ADHD linked to elevation not fluoridation
Anonymous comments on social media
More poor-quality research promoted by anti-fluoride activists
Free download – “Severe dental fluorosis and cognitive deficits”
Are submissions on fluoridation worth it?
Social media and science – the problems and the challenge
A couple of “oldies” inject some sense into international politics
Open letter to Lisa Hansen on NZ Fluoridation Review
February ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Paper claiming water fluoridation linked to hypothyroidism slammed by experts
Dirty tactics by anti-fluoride activists in Taupo
NZ Fluoridation review – Response to Micklen
NZ Fluoridation review – HS Micklen responds to critique
Did business interests interfere with Hamilton’s fluoride tribunal process?
A perspective of distances in space
Download report analysing anti-fluoride attacks on NZ Fluoridation Review
Social health policies, freedom of choice and responsibility
Reality of war for civilians
Stephen Fry not pulling any punches
January ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
US meddling in Ukraine behind coup
Sunday reading – Richard Dawkins reads some of his “fan mail”
Is debating with anti-science activists worth the effort?
Six months on – concerns about MH17 investigation
Severe dental fluorosis and cognitive deficits – now peer reviewed
Those evil chemicals
“Internet and social media misinform thousands daily”
“I just know”
The victims of terror
Fluoride Free NZ report disingenuous – conclusion
Spotting Bad Science
October ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
December ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The MH17 blame game
Science never claimed to know everything
Special pleading by Philippe Grandjean on fluoride
The inverted ethics of doxxing?
Fascinating and painless chemistry lessons
Did the Royal Society get it wrong about fluoridation?
“Do your own research!”
Dirty politics over MH17?
Cherry-picking and misinformation in Stan Litras’s anti-fluoride article
Today’s fantasy, tomorrow’s possibility
The farce of a “sciency” anti-fluoride report
November ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Creationist ‘audits’ science museum
“Real” experts’ on climate change? Really?
Water fluoridation and dental fluorosis – debunking some myths
Proving anecdotes are reliable
Declan Waugh pushes another anti-fluoride myth
Severe dental fluorosis the real cause of IQ deficits?
Catch 22 in Ukraine
Let’s rely on anecdotes instead!
Standing up to junk science in New Zealand
Declan Waugh claims it’s “clear as day”
Unusual photo of Moon and Earth.
Criminal investigation of MH17 tragedy – where is it at?
There is something about those climate records that keep getting broken
Putting politicans in their place on climate change
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 – what really happened?
Fluoridation – a racist conspiracy?
Curiosity’s historic comet photo
When science deniers turn to science
Fluoride debate: Second response to Rita Barnett-Rose – Daniel Ryan
Fluoride debate: Response to Daniel Ryan’s critique – Rita Bartlett-Rose
Fluoride debate: A response to Rita Barnett-Rose – Daniel Ryan
Fluoride debate: The scientific evidence against fluoridation – Rita F. Barnett
Another legal defeat for NZ anti-fluoridation activists
Anti-fluoridation propagandists promoting shonky “review”
How to change your Mind – and why it is good for you
The science and politics of climate change
Science and belief
September ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Peer review of an anti-fluoride “peer review”
The information war – The NZ Listener takes up arms
MOM “a thousand times better than cricket”
Activist’s anti-science adverts found misleading – again
Don’t you get tired of this?
It’s time we did something about sugar
Crude dredging of the scientific literature
Anti-fluoride activists define kangaroo court as “independent”
MH17 – Preliminary report leaves most conspiracy theories intact
Do you prefer dental fluorosis or tooth decay?
Emotion Drives Decision
Ingested fluoride, dental health and old age
August ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Sad news – Victor Stenger has died
Making money out of fanatics
Dirty politics on the Royal Society fluoride review
Review finds community water fluoridation safe and effective
Anti-fluoride activists unhappy about scientific research
The Mind of the Science Denier
Open letter to Jane Nielson – a “fluoridation convert.”
Accidental Renaissance – or intuition?
Tactics for science denial
Natural News comes out with a load of heavy metal rubbish on fluoride
July ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Declan Waugh continues his distortion of Finnish fluoride research
Another fluoridation whopper from Declan Waugh
I am still waiting for my cheque
An answer to the anti-fluoride critics – in one image
Some answers to the confusion about the #MH17 crash site
Informed parents know water fluoridation is good for their children
Making political capital out of the deaths of innocents
Elected officials must ignore activists and listen to own voters
The irony of some peer-review and citation complaints
Ken Ring pontificates on climate change
Anti-science US Congressman on House science Committee!
“Creative” reporting of fluoridation science
What happens when fluoridation is stopped?
June ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Controversial IQ study hammered in The Lancet
New group challenging the anti-science brigade
Fluoridation: what about reports it is ineffective?
Approaching scientific literature sensibly
Declan Waugh’s misinformation on fluorosilicic acid
A healthy attitude towards quantum mechanics
An open letter to Declan Waugh – new mechanism for fluoride toxicity?
Toxicity is in the dose or concentration of fluoride
Councils and scientists targeted by anti-fluoride activists
Lugansk – a modern Guernica?
Inna Kukuruza – “her eyes spoke to the whole world”
Connett’s hypocrisy on fluoride & IQ
May ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Confirmation blindness on the fluoride-IQ issue
Where do teeth come from? The stork theory
There is research and there is “research”
Fluoridating water does not lower IQ – New Zealand research
Fluoride and IQ – once more
Another anti-fluoride myth in the making
A balanced debate
It’s all the fashion in Ukraine
Fluoridation: What a difference a year makes?
Wishart misrepresents fluoride science to advance his extreme ideology
Fluoridation: emotionally misrepresenting contamination
April ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Peer review, shonky journals and misrepresenting fluoride science
Ingested fluoride is beneficial to dental health.
Anti-fluoridation advertising deceptive
Fluoridation: putting chemical contamination in context
The first victim!
An outdated tax anomaly – charitable status of relgion
Declan Waugh scaremongers over fluoride – again
Arrogance of ignorance?
Pandering to anti-fluoridation campaigners
International cooperation in space serving humanity
Is anyone listening?
March ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Scientific cooperation despite political posturing
Fluoridation returns to Hamilton City.
European border changes over 5000 years
Dental fluorosis: badly misrepresented by FANNZ
What makes something right or wrong?
How do we know what is true?
Cherry-picking and ring-fencing the scientific literature
Fluoride and heart disease – another myth
Graphic information in science
Corporate backers of anti-fluoride movement lose in NZ High Court.
Terry Pratchett making sense
Fluoride and the 5 easy steps of a conspiracy theory
February ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Pseudoscience in your supermarket
Another god debate
Repeating bad science on fluoride
Truth about those science fairs
Quality and selection counts in fluoride research
The precautionary principle
How can scientists use social media?
Curiosity sees a familiar “evening star.”
The fluoride debate – what do the experts say?
January ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Entertainment is brain exercise
Download The Fluoride Debate
Determining scientific knowledge by petition
Fluoride debate: Final article – Ken Perrott
Fluoride debate: Paul Connett’s Closing statement
The good(?) old days of scientific writing
Most of us missed this one
False balance and straw clutching on fluoridation
Who is funding anti-fluoridation High Court action?
Astro-turfing for scientific credibility
Losing trust in religious leaders
Conspiracy theorists misuse analytical evidence
All things bright and beautiful
December ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoride debate: Ken Perrott’s closing response to Paul Connett?
Putting vaccination risks into context
Fluoride debate: Arguments Against Fluoridation Thread. Part 8. Paul
Alan Turing receives royal pardon
The true meaning of Christmas
Where is the heat going?
Fluoride debate: Response to Paul’s 5th article
Back to the moon!
Fluoride debate: Arguments Against Fluoridation Thread. Part 5. Paul
Census 2013 – religious diversity
Fluoride debate: Response to Paul’s 6th article.
Testing the God theory
Fluoridation debate: Against Fluoridation Thread. Part 6.
November ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
‘The particle at the end of the universe’ wins Winton Prize
Fluoridation debate: Why I support fluoridation – 2nd reply to Connett
Psychics have it easy these days
Fluoride Debate: Why I support fluoridation – 2nd response from Connett
From dental neglect to child abuse?
Fluoride Debate: Why I support fluoridation – response to Connett
Fluoride debate: Why I support fluoridation – Response from Connett
Word of wisdom, and otherwise
Have local climate pseudosceptics come to the end of the road?
Fluoride debate: Why I support fluoridation
Sin is relative
Fluoride debate – I get email
Fluoride debate Part 1a – response to Connet’s response: Perrott
Fluoride debate – some housekeeping
Fluoride debate Part 1a – response: Connett
October ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fluoride debate Part 1: Perrott
Fluoride debate Part 1: Connett
The fluoride debate – introduction
The origins of ethics and violence
What’s really true?
Anti-fluoridation porkies – Mullinex’s rats
Science and faith
NZ climate change “sceptics” abandon appeal
Christianity has hijacked human values
Fluoridation: Hangout with the University of Waikato
The universe – it is bigger than you think
Our Far South – time we learned about it
Christian ethics and Peter Singer
Fluoride – friend or foe: a lecture
Cyber bullying of science
Fluoridation: the hip fracture deception
September ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Tim Minchin – an inspirational speech to graduates
Jon Stewart interviews Richard Dawkins
Anatomy of an anti-fluoridation myth
NZ experts deplore anti-fluoridation misrepresentation of science
Helping kids to wonder
Fluoridation – the IQ myth
When politicians and bureaucrats decide the science
Welcome counter to scientific and health misinformation
New “evidence” for global cooling?
Phobos eclipses the sun – as seen by Curiosity
Dentists you can trust?
Activists peddle chemical misinformation for fluoridation referenda
August ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Cherry picking fluoridation data
Anti-fluoridationist astro-turfing and media manipulation
Anti-fluoride activists attempt to silence science
Crazy ideas and “supernatural” phenomena
Experts speak out on fluoridation
Fluoride sensitivity – all in the mind?
Earthquakes and twitter
Cyber-bullying – what’s with sunscreen?
Anti-fluoridation study flawed – petition rejected
News media influences public trust in science
The “consensus message” in communicating science
Hamilton – the water is the problem, not the fluoride!
Topical confusion persists
Celebrate your curiosity – one year on
July ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Is this the way to reorganise science?
The limits of science and a world record
Water treatment chemicals – why pick on fluoride?
Are you qualified to discuss God, Heaven and Hell?
The Galileo fallacy and denigration of scientific consensus
A new Cosmos
Michael Mann’s defamation lawsuit on track
Is fluoridated water a medicine?
Debunking anti-fluoridation myths
Source of moral authority has shifted
Fluoridation – an organised campaign to misinform.
Hamilton gets its fluoridation referendum
Not your usual rocket launch
Fluoridation – topical confusion
Communicating climate science – Michael Mann comments
Fluoridation and conspiracy theories
Richard Dawkins learns about the Bible
Fluoridation – the violation of rights argument.
June ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The victim mentality of conspiracy theorists
Poisoning the well with a caricature of science
Fluoridation petition – for Hamilton citizens
The importance of books for kids
Fluoridation – it does reduce tooth decay
Stop feeling guilty
Getting a grip on the science behind claims about fluoridation
Is fluoride an essential dietary mineral?
Will Hamiltonians finally get a voice on fluoridation?
Scientists, political activism and the scientific ethos
Fluoridation – are we dumping toxic metals into our water supplies?
When science is under attack
Tactics and common arguments of the anti-fluoridationists
Hamilton City Council reverses referendum fluoridation decision
Global warning in science fiction
May ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Peter Singer on effective charity
The science of consciousness
Collapse of Arctic sea ice
An eReader breakthrough?
Singing about the periodic table
Black cat in a dark room – and the role of science
A New Zealand climate change pseudosceptic apologises!
Pseudosceptics are at it again – misrepresenting and attacking climate scientists
Chris Hadfield’s 5-month Space Mission in 90 Seconds
Confusion and distortion – has global warming stopped?
“Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney?
Video coverage of astronauts’ return to earth next Tuesday morning
A beggar’s market?
The limits of philosophy
April ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
‘The Unbelievers’ and science
A global warming hoax meme is born – in New Zealand too!
Friday follies – what happened to the “official AGW hypothesis?”
Fiddling with census figures for religion in New Zealand
The beginning (of the universe) for beginners
Terrorism and the West’s obsession with oil
Marriage equality, retribution and moral progress
A sombre night in Boston
Moving into the mainstream – on the coat tails of the “New Atheists”
Thatcher, Monckton and Pinochet
Potty Peer in Waikato
New Zealand Blog ranking Montage
What is global temperature?
I was wrong about Lord Monckton
New “Hockey Stick” but same tired old denial
March ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
April Fools and Agenda 21
Christchurch from space
A war between religion and science?
Climate contrarians/deniers are cherry picking again
Dishonesty of intelligent design “research”
Something for all those lapsed catholics
Dawkins’ new book
Our world from the International Space Station
Creationists prefer numerology to real scientific research
Talking sense about morality
Extreme confirmation bias in action
Greedy Lying Bastards
Those arguments against marriage equality
Census 2013: That religion question
Climate change is not simple
February ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
A sensible Christian perspective on Peter Singer
No immutable truths, no eternal dogmas
Global climate – and your grandchildren
Entertaining – and the science is good
The truth about the hockey stick
Origins of religious ethics and violence
Sean Faircloth, Director of Richard Dawkins Foundation, visiting NZ
The Russian meteor – what we know
Should we be prepared?
Does religion blur understanding of evolution?
The “dynamic duo” of science?
A day for cheap shots
Science as the best, possibly only, way to truth
The reality of cancer
Education should never validate ignorance
“Divine commands” and personal conscience
January ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Is your region warming?
No cause for alarm – if you cherry pick
The political alarmism behind climate change denial
Can philosophers, or anyone, tell us what is “right” and “wrong”?
History of science – for Kiwis
What a shock!
Who is guilty of misusing science?
Deconstructing climate change, and its deniers
Amazing photos of Shuttle Endeavour flight deck
Australia’s “New Normal?”
Going beyond the evidence
A time for hypocrisy
Historians and sociologists just as human as scientists
December ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
A problem with logic
Historians and sociologists lecture scientists – about science
Wonders of Life coming – we hope
A dose of reality
Pulling the wool over the eyes of the faithful
Scientists and philosophers discuss morality and meaning
Christmas present from NASA
At last – Moving Naturalism Forward videos
Getting the Book Invented
Sense on evolutionary psychology.
Does science have a cognitive privilege?
Sceptical humility and peer review in science
Cancer – an emotional rollercoaster
Sceptical arrogance and evolutionary psychology
And now for a bit of drama
Agreement polar ice sheets are melting
November ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Regarding women as animals
Christmas present for nerds – what about science books?
Time for philosophical honesty about Darwin
Religion in schools – a sensible approach
Climate change deniers don’t understand expertise
The arrogance of supernatural privilege
Morality and non-human animals
More damage from megastorm Sandy
Capturing kid’s minds with emotions
That particle again
Who were Stalin’s victims?
Reports from the Moving Naturalism Forward workshop
The elephant in the US elections
October ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Sex, Death And The Meaning Of Life. Episode 3: Meaning
Who are these “credible experts”?
The mini-iPad and original sin
Death – part 2 of a series
Beer, anxiety and depression – their origins
Why (some) Christians support discrimination
Sex, Death And The Meaning Of Life – Sin
Moving Naturalism Forward
A concise summary of climate change – science and politics
From evolution to belief
Are you offended yet?
This has to stop
Sneaking in the magic man
Naturalism and science are incompatible
None so blind
A Kiwi makes it to Mars!
September ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The most important place you didn’t know about
A useful map of the human body
The paradoxes of theological gullibility
The internet – Yeah, right!
US air traffic on a typical day and on September 11, 2001
Finish the sentence . . .
People saying stupid things on the Internet
Another anti-science attack on Mann fails – but the lies continue
Secularism – its internal problems
Politics and economics of Arctic ice loss
Internet silos become ideological ghettos
Climate change denier’s false “deep distress” fools no-one
Changing that light bulb while in denial
High Court ruled on integrity – not science
New Zealand climate change denial defeated
I don’t know!
Making giant flowers out of fireworks
Moral evolution in today’s society
August ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Drifting moral values
Subjective morality – not what it seems?
Objective or subjective laws and lawgivers
Neil Armstrong by Buz Aldrin
The science philosophy “conflict”
Making sense of religion, science, and morality
Kiwi science fiction with a message
Science – the greatest story ever told
A sundial on Curiosity?
Scientific shift work
Cynical evangelisation of children
Curiosity requires patience
Going for gold – on Mars
A load of science
July ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
NZ Blog Rankings FAQ
So scientism = non-theism?
Saying it with flowers
What really happens in religious instruction classes?
What Is Life? From Schrödinger to Watson to Venter
Their mission – values or advancement of religion?
The story behind the High Court action
Ethical enquiry or moral instruction?
Scepticism, denial and the high court
William Lane Craig’s philosophy – the condensed version
So you think science has a problem?
Peter Singer on the misrepresentation of Peter Singer
Human values are secular
End of life decisions
Why the Higgsteria?
Cost of scientific research – and political naivity
The creationism controversy – a summary
Is there room for religion in science?
June ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Scientific knowledge should trump “belief”
Seven Minutes of Terror
Australian census confirms healthy trend
Science is messy – for girls too!
Print-on-demand books – what’s the hold-up?
How to write a best-seller!
Sharp increase in “nones”
A disciplined discussion
What did Galileo ever do to you?
Gnu bashing once again
The prejudiced journalist
Do atheists need religion?
Mixing values and Jesus in secular education
The Scamtific Method
May ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Scientific knowledge – reliable but not certain
Weather extremes and climate change
“Web monkeys” and science presentation
Dementia – There’s an app for that!
Give them enough rope . . .
Why won’t Inland Revenue subsidise my life expenses?
Human morality is evolving
So you’re considering switching to eBooks?
Welcome to the Anthropocene
Naturalism in science
“Lose” your faith, gain your life?
What’s in store for eBook readers
Heartland ignorant of public relations – let alone science
Belief and morality
What has science ever done for us?
April ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The problem with philosophy
Puddles and “fine-tuning”
Great science talks in Auckland
Science denial is a diversion from the real problems
When the “best explanation” is the worst explanation
Toss out the moderator for a better discussion
Jesus heals – but not cancer!
Emotional time for Shuttle fans
Catholic popes victims of sexual abuse!
Who is committing fraud here?
Morality and the “worship” of reason
The silliness of a self-proclaimed “investigative journalist”
Moral behavior in animals
Conservatives, liberals and purity
The trouble with physics?
Is God incredible – or what?
Science and the folly of faith
March ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Another lousy photo of the sun?
The Sand Creatures
A fuzzy photo of the sun
The “public square” myth
Yes, please try this at home!
Whanganui District Council comes to senses
“Good faith” science – and its enemies
Climate change controversy in context
Shy climate denier in “science team” reveals himself.
The chickens are hatching
February ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The size of things
Theological pretzel twisting
A universe in an eBook (or app)
Souvenirs for scientists
Heartland Insitute gets mail
Heartland’s climategate – and Mann’s book
Bioluminescence in space!
Defeat for imposed prayer
ID research and publications
Theological mental gymnastics over evolution
“What, me worry?” – distorting climate change data
Free will – problems of definition
January ’12 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The scientific method – what about the philosophical method?
In the front lines of the “climate wars”
Who is funding the climate change denial groups?
Our fingerprints are all over it!
The [in]compatibility of science and religion
Comprehending reality – Should we give up so easily?
Nothing is something
Who drives the science/religion conflict?
Choosing your religion
Open letter across the barricade
New book formats
The argument from authority (or lack thereof)
December ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Peter Jackson – Satan’s Little Helper”
“Other ways of knowing” and their result.
Slaughtering some sacred seasonal cows
Reacting to a death with respect and hatred
Christmas present ideas: This Hell would be useful!
Higgs and homeopathy
Christmas gift ideas: Aussie wisdom
Christmas gift ideas: The human mind – a history
Christmas gift ideas: Evolution of gods, morals and violence
Christmas gift ideas: Working on Mars
Christmas gift ideas: One for the kids
Christmas gift ideas: Why we deny climate change
Christmas gift ideas: Thinking of our grandchildren
Christmas gift ideas: How We Know What’s Really True
Christmas gift ideas: Kids – it’s OK to be different!
A debunking handbook provides lessons in science communication
November ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Finding out about the astronomers who found the universe
Climategate 2.0 and “toecurling” journalism
It’s crowded up there
Creative science writing
Royal Society’s science book of year Winton Prize winner.
Reclaiming ‘intelligent design’
A lesson in human logic
Is Keith Ward really that naive about science?
Demolishing Craig on morality
Cultural effect of The Big Bang Theory
Answer simple question – win an iPad
New Zealand in good company. Pity about the USA
October ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
What’s your number?
Concern over William Lane Craig’s justification of biblical genocide
Outsourcing moral decisions to justify genocide
New Zealand happy – some preachers upset!
The never ending battle
Having it both ways
Ranking human conflicts and tyrannies
Dawkins responds to a stalker – Craig gets his debate
Avoiding possible catastrophe – even if you are confused
You CAN be good with God!
Big money behind local climate change deniers?
Historians of science sometimes miss the wood for the trees
Approaching morality scientifically
Ethicists have problems with ethics!
The climate change denial machine
How do you know that?
How We Know What’s Really True
Problems with pdf eBooks – metadata issues
September’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Compulsory payments for advancement of religion – let’s get rid of that.
Some recent recommended science books
Art in science
Where have we been?
Rings around Uranus
William Lane Craig’s “logic”
Science and the “supernatural”
Empathy for colleagues
Approaching a Middle East peace
Atheists aren’t shrill – just disgusting?
What’s this about cosmic rays and global warming?
Making life from the primordial soup
A fight-back – or simply spite?
Evolution and education – advice for teachers
That’s what I like to see in a young woman!
A reminder of reality’s magic
August ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Religious theology of secularism
Martydom of the priveliged
Another book for the kids
Secular democracy and its critics
2012 Global Atheist Convention – Melbourne
Hitler objects to atheist charge
440 FOI requests in one day! From one person!
There is something about Wellington
Some things for the kids
The blinkered view of politics?
I get email
NZ blog rankings update
Is Monckton good value?
The reality of scientific research
Monckton messes own nest
July ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Videos on morality
Pat Churchland on the science of morality
Breivik’s terrorism and science
Terror in Norway
Atlantis returns home – viewed from ISS
Background Briefing for Mockton’s NZ visit
Science has the real debate
Bias in the history of science
Seven years of discovery
Your chance for a free book
That hacking scandal
Are scientists hostile to religion?
Galileo’s modern critics
Debates in the philosophy of science
Does science lead to secularism?
June ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Personal attacks on climate scientists
A silver lining to Expelled?
Galileo’s revolutionary contribution
Science, religion and respect for meaning
Protecting yourself against bullshit
Clarifying some myths in the history of science
Early history of science
Converting beliefs to “truths”
Ideology and violence
Painless science writing
May ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Waking from a coma!
American Imams supporting evolutionary science
A secular bible
Daniel Dennett on conflict between religion and science
Visible signs of the rapture
The Magic of Reality for young people
Don’t drink the punch!
Working on Mars
A non-theist feast down under!
The chances of Royal Weddings arising randomly…
Designer spin II
What’s special about religious “knowledge?”
Climate change lectures in Auckland
April ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Exposing the pretense of Christian unity
Is there a role for science in morality?
Philosophical justifications for morality
Answering questions on morality
Problems with philosophers and theologians
More on the science of morality
Selling the family silver!
Craig brings some clarity to morality?
Foundations of human morality.
Church rejects power of prayer!
Limits of logic
Something to celebrate
Advocating or explaining secular moral values?
March ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
What is Life? Another Great Debate
The Galileo myths
Beauty, mystery and science
Christianity gave birth to science – a myth?
The implausibility of reality
Is atheism bad for science?
Myths within a myth
Thank goodness for eBook Readers
Theistic science? No such thing
The ethics of exploitation
Blogging for New Zealand
Science Under Attack?
Acceptance of science – dangerous for some
Making sense of Ring gate?
February ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
From “Grand Design” to “On Being”
A human response to Christchurch quake
Alan Turing documentary
Taking the census seriously
The future of books – and Santa?
On being philosophical about science
The secular Egyptian protest a good start for a successful revolution
Shonky climate-change denial “science”
Reinterpretation “research” on climate change
A hymn for Darwin Day
Celebrating Alan Turing’s life and achievements
The scientific study of religion
January ’11 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Converging evidence on climate change
eBook “singles” – and the problems
Marie Curie Lecture Series – 2011
Comparing blog visit statistics
Shoddy reporting on “god genes”
The god gene – or is it a meme?
Certainty is useless – a scientific concept
The nature of the science-religion conflict?
“Other ways of knowing” – some sense at last
Culture and the scientific renaissance
Sharing a chemical moment
The moon and the ISS
Secular News Daily – useful source
New views of eclipses
Deriving “ought from is” scientifically?
December ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Science and morality – a panel discussion
A physicist comments on science and morality
A philosopher comments on science and morality
Telling right from wrong – unreligiously
Another local climate change denial meme
Wine and the Watchtower
It’s that time of the year
A handy app for your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad
A philosopher’s Christmas present
Painted into a corner?
Real science – warts and all
WikiLeaks and climategate
2011 – International Year of Chemistry
The “You Can’t Trust Science!” agenda
NASA and old lace
November ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Cutting off your nose for Christmas?
“Other ways of knowing” purpose?
What is the problem?
A victory for secular ethics
The Hitchens – Dembski debate
The joys of eBook readers – the Sony PRS-650 Touch
Secularism is important
Dawkins answers questions
Telling right from wrong?
Can science shape human values?
Some book ideas
The ISS – a decade of growth
October ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
The human mind – a history
Check out those climate change claims on the internet
Waking up to morality
Four signs of a stroke
Can the “supernatural” be of any use?
Are ebooks taking off?
Some pesky delusions
Strident, militant atheists?
Why we deny climate change
Attitudes will change. Life will get better
Your computer is the enemy!
Death by stoning for adultery!
Scientific misconduct and skepticgate
Breaking away – an interesting case study
Sam Harris on The Daily Show
Move over – old fellow!
Hawking’s grand design – lessons for apologists?
Arrested moral development.
September ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Treating statistics sensibly
Not about Einstein
Bus adverts a human rights issue
Check out your ancestors
Trust the experts – if they say what we want
The Bible – a book review
A scientific consensus on human morality
Pope Benny’s speech – graphically
Putting the Pope in his place
Popes cunning straw mannery?
Human Evolution and the Organ of Mind
Mind change – a moral choice?
Putting the IPCC in its place?
Mapping modern science
An unnecessary being?
What is matter? What is materialism?
New science blogs in New Zealand
The Grand Design – neither God nor 42
Earth and Moon from Mercury
The Challenge of the Human Brain
August ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Fallout from Hauser affair spreads
A lesson for NZ critics of climate science?
Nicholas Stern to present Robb Lectures
So you want a conversation?
The myth of the noble scientist
The heart of PZ Myers
After NIWA, God?
Marc Hauser replies – acknowledges mistakes
Hauser misconduct investigation – Full text of Dean’s statement
Fallacy of Fine Tuning
A desperate plea to be noticed?
A stormy future?
A sympathetic take on Marc Hauser and the “scientific misconduct” issue
A paper by Marc Hauser retracted – Harvard Magazine
Climate change is complex
A nice little tool for printing blog posts
“God of the surprises”
Recognising good science bloggers and Big Blog Theory winners
It’s politics, not science
July ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Suzan does a mini- Monckton
Evolution of gods, morals and violence
Is and ought
The new science of morality
Science, faith and limits of knowledge
Liability of scientific denialism to political conservativism
Evolution and the Holocaust
Life on the building site
Theological critiques of billboards required
Support John Abraham against Monckton’s bullying
Ways of not knowing
The changing face of science communication
A regular climate science podcast
Climategate – Journalist withdraws and apologises
Making room for faith in science?
Getting straight on marriage
“Climategate” smears found false – Mann cleared
NZ Atheists Swap Buses For Billboards
June ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Religion in public life – two approaches
Ridiculing ridiculous science commentary
Truth getting it’s boots on!
A question of expertise and credibility
Climate scientist’s’ register?
Kids – it’s OK to be different!
Twinning with Venus
Avoiding grown-up discussion
A competition for Aussie science blogs
Apologies would be nice
Historic shuttle launch photos
Australians concerned about tax exemption for cults
Pseudoscience and anti-science nonsense
Science on New Zealand TV
Hot science blogs
May ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Journalists create world’s first artificial news story!
Don’t trust Monckton!
This is scary!
Theological intrusions into science
God, stop ‘playing science’
Why Don’t We Go To Church?
The heart of opposition to climate science
Last chance – almost!
What’s that about global cooling?
Are you threatened by clarity?
Supporting good science communication
We don’t know!
Monckton and Shimkus get silly together
The Dawkins Delusions
Climate change and the integrity of science
Secularism in Australia and New Zealand
Natural selection or domestication?
April ‘10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Thinking of our grandchildren
Science, values and ethics
Avoiding tax – supernaturally
Climate scientist sues newspaper for false reporting
Climategate, Lord Monckton and Monty Python
Climate change deniers wallets threatened
Climategate summed up
Superstition – inevitable?
Libel Reform campaign continues
RIP Antony Flew
Officially a fake scandal from science perspective
Dangerous science denial
You have to laugh!
A more transparent approach
Orbital debris, the ISS, moon and sun
A space nerd’s Easter
Getting to the truth – gradually
March ‘10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Climate scientist Phil Jones exonerated
The origins of science?
The rickety bandwagon of climate change denial
Are religious scientists worried about their brethren?
The climate change denial industry
Can science answer moral questions?
Periodic Table of of science blogs
Creationism, climate change and scientific denialism
Open Letter from U.S. Scientists on the IPCC
From Melbourne to Copenhagen
Are science and religion compatible?
Chris Mooney interviews Michael Mann on “climategate”
Science bloggers talk teaching
Great photo of the Solar Corona
Clear science communication
Institute of Physics in hot seat
Climate science for you and me
February ’10 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
Richard Dawkins – wrong again!
Freedom of information and responsibility
This game looks familiar
Anti-science lies being exposed – slowly
Deniers distort Phil Jones
New Zealand has bigots too
Belief and social identity
Etiquette for the office global warming denier
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – February ‘10
Climate change confusion – a conspiracy of sorts
WARNING! People might find us out!
One for the kids
Get your climate change science on the run
Can science solve all problems?
Spinning exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash”
Self-exposure – a journalist out of depth
A photographer’s dream
Get in line – who is the odd one out?
I want one of these!
The ISSS used for teaching
Overdosing on water
Car pool, string theory and human genetic history
CO2 emissions, birth & death rates by country, simulated real-time
I thought the award for mistakes was mine!
Atheists provoke a reaction
Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”
Journeys to the Ice – New SciBlogsNZ blogger
Martin Luther King’s dream
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – January ‘10
Monckton requires religious certification for scientists?
No gods required
Lynch mob mentality
Understanding the “multiverse”
A good climate change book
Beware the retired scientist?
Philosophers aren’t so bad!
NZ blog ranking – RSS subscriptions 2009
The dogma of paradigm shifts
Overcoming dogmatism in science
The “supernatural” and dogmatism in science
Scientific method and the “supernatural”
Belief, knowledge and science
The Unconsidered Life
“A plot to rule the world”
George Monbiot on ClimateGate & the climate denial industry
Testimony of non-believers
Becoming an atheist
The global warming debate summarised
Justifying child abuse
Sack all those scientists? yeah, right!
NZ Atheist Bus Campaign reaches fund raising target in under a week
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – December ‘09
Bus adverts and the 2011 NZ census
Are they sceptics or deniers?
New Zealand’s denier-gate
Environmental movement needs pragmatism
The global warming conspiracy?
New Zealand’s climate change deniers’ distortions exposed.
Remove support for child abuse
Deniers in denial over climate information
Richard Dawkins in Auckland – update
Being good – no gods required
Peer review – an emotional roller coaster
Climate change deniers live in glass buildings
Richard Dawkins in Auckland next March
“Climategate” – the smoking gun?
Awesome pictures from the Enceladus flyby
Those “climategate” emails
An Introduction to Evolution
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – November ‘09
Galileo and Hollywood
The rules of science
Twittering in space
Morality – from the heavens or nature?
This Hell would be useful!
Einstein on Galileo’s contribution
Why Evolution Is True
Richard Dawkins in Wellington next March
The clash of science and politics
RIP – Theo van Gogh
Judging the internet – and books
A Universe From Nothing
Defending science and reason
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – October ‘09
The Galileo Lectures
Lamenting loss of funerals
Galileo, Darwin and the new enlightenment
New bird designed!
BCA libels Simon Singh?
A victory for Simon Singh
The Earth and Moon – from Mars
Why We Are Atheists
Books in prisons
It’s all in the brain
Battle of the bus ads
Stars, earth and water
Humanity’s most important image
NZ’s largest science blog network goes live
Sustainability and ethics
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – September ’09
The naked emperor
From the keyboards of scientists…
Depressed? Anxious? Aren’t we all?
Saving the planet with condoms
Get in the sack!
Charles Darwin – Art & science
Evolution of human morality
Science communication in New Zealand
“We’re sorry: you deserved so much better”
New Hubble images
Chemistry for kids
The philosophy wars
Bright future for books
Brian Greene’s big idea
Global warming is real – climatologists
Behe’s “objectionable” interview reinstated
NZ blog ranks – August ’09
Carl Sagan’s challenge ignored
Behe’s “objectionable” interview
Religion in the public square
NZ scientists twittering
Biocentrism or eccentrism?
Dawkins bashing season upon us?
That ‘no’ vote
NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – August ’09
The Big Bang Theory and sexism?
NZ science bloggers – new opportunity
Evidence, not lawyers
Social networking for scientists
From stones to atoms
Theistic mental gymnastics
“Smacking not an offence”
NZ blog ranks – July ’09
“Knowledge” from ignorance
Beware the Spinal Trap
The Atheist Camel Chronicles
Atrocious Science Clichés
Killing off Darwin?
Bible a favourite for atheists!
Science-religion conflicts. Who’s responsible?
NZ blog sitemeter ranking – June ‘09
Different ways of knowing?
This much I know
The facts of evolution – and jealousy
NZ blog ranks – June ’09
The entropy fib
Don’t encourage them!
Wave goodbye to email?
Do you believe in a god?
NZ Evolution Survey
The purpose of purpose
Kiwi Science Blogging
A NZ blog ranking tool
Charity and linked data
The Bain illusion
Morality and politics
NZ blog sitemeter ranking – May ’09
That’s telling them
Beyond the shouting
NZ entries in science blog awards
NZ Blog ranks – May ‘09
Subscription & email updates
Hand of God
Science blogging prize
Scientific laptop fashion?
Public hearing for Salinger case
Poles Apart – wrong process, right conclusion?
The greatest show
Religious moral relativism – another example
Richard Dawkins in Auckland
Human Morality V: The secular conscience
Ranking NZ blogs with sitemeter data
Human Morality IV: Role of religion
Good luck Jim
Human Morality III: Moral intuition
Human Morality II: Objective morality
Defining natural and supernatural
Human Morality I: Religious confusion
Whether we like it or not
Answering the big questions
Do whatever it takes…
Another chance to ignore our true religious diversity
The necessity of science
Why is science important?
Clamping down on science communication
NZ Blog ranks – April ’09
NZ Bloggers Badge
Middle east conflict in the NZ blogosphere?
PZ needs an iPod
Where is Galileo?
Belief not the same as truth
With God, anything can be permitted?
Where did we come from?
Hitchens in the lions’ den
How bacteria communicate
Scientific laws and theories
Blaming the victim
For Christian readers
Moral leadership on stem cells?
Dawkins on the Big Screen
Different ways of understanding?
Blog traffic to aim for?
Police ignore non-religious
NZ blog ranks – March ’09
Ranking methods for NZ blogs
Saturn opposes Uranus
New Zealand popular science books
Babies and bathwater
Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Viability of Hope
Out of touch with reality
Stalinist behaviour at creationist blogs
“Scientific” debate on the internet
Intelligent design science publication policy?
Scientific investigation of morality
Creationism’s tactical blunders
Hidden religious agendas
Rating NZ blogs
Meditating on one’s own beliefs
How we all subsidise creationists
Theme testing – feedback welcome
Beware of science!
Only 25% of Americans oppose evolution
Pinker on morality
Cosmological cranes – not skyhooks
Darwin Is The 1000th Steve!
Human genetic history
Darwin, art and entanglement
The Lotto “miracle”
Psychological abuse of children
Mass atrocities require idealism
78% of Britons support Darwin?
Dawkins to appear at Auckland Writers & Readers Festival lineup
Bad science, bad theology
The Antony Flew controversy
Science and democracy
Darwin Week discussion topic?
We are “fine-tuned”
International Year of Astronomy
Science & Islam – doubt
My favourite podcasts
Neurons and free will
Science & Islam
Fiddling with “fine-tuning”
The ghetto of apologetics “science”
Missing fossils? From water to land
Carl Sagan’s search for God
A rational universe?
“Scientism” in the eyes of the beholder
The dogma of “paradigms”
Dogmatism of the “supernatural”
The wedge undermines Christianity
Fine tuning of the universe?
Dissent from science
No God? No Worries -Yeah right
Ex-Muslims speak out
Comment policy in flux
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
What is your purpose in life?
The immorality of conspiracy theories
Thoughts after watching “Expelled”
Denial not acceptable
Atheists not allowed to criticise Hitler!
Thanking those who deserve thanks
Society’s fear of science
Lysenko and the creationists
Being good for goodness’ sake
Global warming misrepresentations
The alternative to science?
A tale of two elections
Climate change: the science – public disconnect
Climbing into Dawkins’ boots
A naturalistic approach to human morality
Candles in the dark
“Probably” no God – probably acceptable
Belief – a curse?
Introducing humanism into politics
The materialist label
Weaving a web of lies
Defining oneself negatively
What a view!
The Archbishop’s straw man
Demolishing the icons of intelligent design
Science in popular culture
The Bible’s place in politics?
Lying to children
Is New Zealand ripe for science blogging?
Dawkins’ prayer for his daughter
The atheist label
Let’s count teeth
Our secular heritage presentations
New Zealand Skeptics conference
Attacks on freedom of expression go international
Secularism is good for religion
Where do our morals come from?
Redefining science by inference
A critique of the ‘Theory of Childhood’
Does religion threaten human rights?
A new science-bashing campaign?
Reading in retirement
“It’s a miracle!”
What is the Large Hadron Collider?
What is theistic evolution?
Embarrased by Darwin
Religious belief and age
Design – it’s everywhere
Reminder – Secular NZ and Australia
Darwin lectures in New Zealand
Is New Zealand a Christian nation?
An optimistic future for energy storage?
Fueling a new cold war
Why the “new atheism”?
Evidence should trump “legal muscle”
Being politically correct about Mars
Top 100 Cutting-Edge Science Blogs
Science blogging in New Zealand
Darwin’s theory – or “Finding Nemo”
Our secular heritage & its future
Climate change optimism
Spreading doubt on climate change
Help from your enemies?
Allan Wilson: Evolutionary
“Biblically correct” child abuse?
Interfaith dialogue and human rights
Does intelligent design make testable predictions?
Climate change and New Zealand
Is ID getting anywhere?
Intelligent design as a scientific idea.
Are ceremonies important to religions?
Send this DVD to our schools
Prayer refusal leads to discipline
I didn’t come from a monkey!
Most Americans do accept evolution
Culture wars come to New Zealand
Dogmatic falsification of science
Paradigms and dogma in science
Isn’t God convenient?
Dogmatism around science – the “supernatural.”
Scientific knowledge – not “just a belief!”
Evolution of New Zealand
Remarriage not an option
“Coming out” for evolution
Climate change controversy
Appealing to spirits
Dembski, peer review and supernova
Teaching science in faith schools
Let’s ban cluster bombs
Improving performance of your brain
Phoenix has landed!
Do you believe in God?
Exploiting the vulnerable
Good luck Phoenix!
Driving the wedge into Christianity
Dissent from Darwinism list – further analysis
Evolution – a theory or a fact?
Lets say the sun is pulled around the earth by horse-drawn chariots
Helpful applications for blogging
Darwinism and that dreaded E-word
Judgement & compassion
Is “Expelled” successful?
Psychological and religious abuse of children
Non religious in Australia and New Zealand
Lawrence Krauss – Richard Dawkins discussion
Exercising your brain – physically
Humanist and anti-human trends in modern religion
The Pope visits New York
Expelled for supporting evolutionary science
The Darwinian behaviour of creationists
Richard Dawkins in Inverness
Expelled – no integrity exhibited
Freedom of expression and human rights
Losing one’s faith
Interfaith dialogue to fight against human rights
The real climate change swindle?
Religious education should include secular humanism
So what does Dawkins think of “Expelled”?
Should Dawkins have been Expelled?
Arthur C. Clarke dies
Intelligent design/creationism and climate change
Exercising your brain
Expelled – the movies
Freedom of expression and offence – religious or otherwise
Einstein’s “Cosmic Religion”
Fine tuning argument
Facing up to child abuse
Ayaan Hirsi Ali to get EU protection
The future of religion
Putting the Bible in its place
Intelligent design and depression
Beyond Tolerance – Toward Understanding and Respect
Replacing public prayers
Obama on religion
Scientific dissent from . . . science?
A respectable man with a dangerous theory
Life: a gene-centric view
From faith to hatred
Arguments against atheist morality
New atheists or new anti-dogmatists?
Secular alternatives to religious communities
New Secular Philosophy blog
Religion and the “New Atheists”
Gaza: Stop Blockade and War
Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”?
Changing your mind
Dissenters from Darwinism in context
Heresy, or common sense?
Religious opposition to “intelligent design”
Intelligent design and the threat to Christianity
Intelligent design and scientific method
Religious diversity and human rights
Dealing with Dawkins
Can religion answer the questions science can’t?
My own miracle?
Religious attitudes to knowledge
Christian problems with morality
How to lower taxes
Atheism and religious diversity IV: Values, morality and spirituality
Atheism and religious diversity III: Conflict between science and religion
Atheism and religious diversity II: A personal perspective
Atheism and religious diversity I: Diversity in New Zealand
Bringing the supernatural into science
Hoping for justice
Does science involve faith?
Losing faith, gaining humility
For the glory of God
Faith – against all evidence
Intelligent design – a war on science
Dawkins responds to his critics
Moons of Saturn
Now I’m to blame for Stalin!
Human rights for the non-religious
A value in religious mysticism
From superstition to religion
Darwin descendent at AAI Convention
From faith to reason
Delusions about Dawkins
God’s not as popular as we thought
Using your brain
Neuron bombs in Pakistan
New Zealand supports evolution
Why do we believe?
Lies and misinformation
Thank God or Thank Goodness?
Sources of evil?
Problems with atheism?
Intelligent design at the shopping mall
Society’s ” Christian values”
The Atheist Blogroll
Stand with Burma petition
Most ideas in science are wrong!
Morals, values and the limits of science
Coming under the influence
Intelligent design attacks on Christianity
Discrimination at school
The “New Christians”
My senior moment!
Isaac Newton and intelligent design
Agnostics – what do they stand for?
Religion and violence
Is religion the source of morality?
Theology of the Emperor’s New Clothes
Family planning and the inhumanity of religion
Art and the limits of science
Atheism and religious diversity
Evolution’s threat to religion?
The atheist wars?
The Enemies of Reason
Science and the supernatural
Religion and Schools
Limits of science, limits of religion
Humility of science and the arrogance of religion
Richard Dawkins and the enemies of reason
What do we teach our children?
The Trouble with Islam
Crimes of Communism and Christianity
Intelligent design/creationism: Postscript
Intelligent design/creationism IV: The religion – science conflict
Intelligent design/creationism III: The religious agenda
Intelligent design/creationism II: Is it scientific?
Intelligent design/creationism I: What is scientific knowledge?
Religion and children
Religion and morality
Questions science cannot answer?
Do religious leaders believe their religion?
Debating science and religion
Do you believe your religion?
“Let There Be Brights”
What is religion?
Solution to climate change?
Faith and terrorism
“Let us pray . . . “
♦ Would we recognise the second coming?
♦ “I’m an atheist, but ……”
♦ Returning to the “dark ages”?
♦ Putting Dawkins in his place
♦ Overcoming religious problems
♦ A national anthem recognising diversity?
♦ International Atheist Convention
♦ Dalai Lama visit
♦ Limits of science or religious “fog”?
♦ Limits to respect and toleration
♦ Special rights for religion?
♦ Common values, common action?
♦ Atheist book sales overtake Christian books
♦ Can science enrich faith?
♦ Miracles and the supernatural?
♦ Christian prayer problems
♦ Atheist Blogroll
♦ Teaching religion
¶ Helen Clark’s diplomacy
¶ Blogs discussing religious diversity
¶ Destiny of Christian privilege?
¶ Trends in religious belief in New Zealand
¶ Religious diversity includes “non-believers”
¶ Science, art & pumpkins
¶ Religious Diversity Statement
¶ Should we teach creationism?
1. Unhygienic surrounding enable fatal infections, and
2. A surgeon protects human life.
The notion of ‘health’ is something science can describe, but only be prescribed by a human making (or assuming) basic, near-universal, yet non-factual, value-judgments, like the (qualitative) judgment that more life is ‘better’ than less life; which is not a ‘fact’. I see no ‘ought’ derived factually here. Nothing new here…
Exactly right Dale. This post completely misses the point and fails to understand the philosophical issue at hand.
What he has done is read:
2. A surgeon [AS AM EMPIRICAL FACT] protects human life.
2′. A surgeon OUGHT to protect human life.
In other words he has sneaked an ought into the premises and has done nothing more exceptional that derive an ought from an ought.
No one denies this is an issue.
Disappointing and shallow.
Max, just realized I am carrying out this discussion on the syndicated version at SciBlogs as well as here. I will just repeat a comment I made there wich responds to your point as well:
Well, Max, in the case of a surgeon this is part of the definition. We create surgeons with that job by training them, education them. We don’t create people with these skills and then say “you choose but I think you ought to do this.”
Similarly humans have evolved to have a nature – this is an objective fact. It’s not a matter of a zombie human evolving and then being told “you choose but I think you ought.”
We are by nature a moral species – that’s how we evolved. It didn’t come from outside, it wasn’t injected into us.
Science doesn’t impose that character. But it can investigate our nature and work to reveal how we evolved. Why we are moral beings.
Dale. You are well aware of my answer by now.
It is because if what a human “is” that we can prescribe.
Our nature as a sentient, conscious, intelligent, social and empathetic soecies (our “is”) is an objective basis for our ability to prescribe. And notice how we can develop a large amount of agreement on those prescriptions. That is evidence of an objective basis – an objective starting point in the facts of our nature and the facts we confront.
If we haven’t developed our Morsl presciotoons this way, developed our oughts from our is’s then where have these oughts, prescriptions, come from? And why have they a high level of consistency?
Max, I am alsoo interested in how you answer those questions.
the question of ‘ought from is’ is NOT whether or not we CAN prescribe – it’s an observed fact that we do all the time. It’s rather about whether or not facts (is) can determine, prescribe, instruct or guide as to what is right or wrong (ought).
Richard’s points, as Max points out, sneak the ‘ought’ into the ‘is’. And yes, some disciplines are inherently a mixture of science and non-science. The various kinds of ecological sciences, would likely all assume the value (‘goodness’) of the earth and the goal of caring for it. The medical sciences assume the value of life and the goal of caring for it.
Who the hell is claiming “facts (is) can determine, prescribe, instruct or guide as to what is right or wrong (ought).”
Certainly not me.
Objective facts don’t make decisions – we do. And we do so on the basis of facts (with a healthy admixture of emotion). And yes this can be intuitive as well as conscious – there us a dialectical interaction between the two.
What other way is there?
Whoops – another question and you haven’t yet responded to my last ones.
Nrt has Max. I wonder what the problem is?
“…we do so on the basis of facts…” It is the ‘on the basis of’ but that I don’t understand. I don’t see how the calculus works to ‘get’ from facts to ‘this is wrong’.
In my understanding:
– it is an observed fact that a given action is thought or said to be right or wrong’
-…because it contradicts goal ‘x’ for the assumed best existence for the affected objects
-…which rests on value-judgment ‘y’ which sees the affected object as having this or that kind of worth of value.
I’ll also copy/paste this from the other thread:
I think the human desire for survival and relationship, our best emotions and intuitions and our reasonably sharpened and considered traditions can be seen as imperfect, always open to inquiry, etc. but nonetheless the only ‘source’ of these value-judgments and goals. They ‘bubble up’ from human communities – from lived experience in the real world. But all this is quite distinct, mind you, from the world of ‘objective facts’.
((dang, me and these tags…))
If you have trouble understanding my terminology what about you answering the question I put:
“If we haven’t developed our moral prescriptions this way, developed our oughts from our is’s then where have these oughts, prescriptions, come from? And why have they a high level of consistency?”
Maybe you will then use language like on the basis of “lived experience in the real world.”
And come off it. How is the real world “quite distinct, mind you, from the world of ‘objective fact.’?
I get the impression you agree with me but don’t want to say so for some reason.
Ken, like it or not, there are non-objective ways of considering the world (which you and I both take to be objectively real), and one of these is making fundamentally basic (and continually overlooked by moderns) value-judgments and discerning moral goals such as ‘more life is good’ or ‘better health is good’. The data – objective and indifferent as it is – just doesn’t point either way.
Dale, you don’t mention what this “data” is you are talking about. I am also intrigued by what you mean by “fundamentally basic (and continually overlooked by moderns) value-judgments.” Sounds like you want to return to the past or something.
What are we “overlooking?”
I’m using the term ‘data’ generally. Data/facts are by nature descriptive and objective, and thus prescriptively (and thus morally) indifferent. By all means, show me any data or facts that point to either this or that (qualitative) value judgment or (prescriptive) goal!!
On past or future: it’s a both/and for me. My point about ‘overlooking’ was in reference to the basic value-judgments we make (i.e. life & health are ‘good’), which are not themselves supported by cold, hard (and indifferent) facts. What I mean by ‘overlooking’ is that we are so used to these basic and “obvious” values, that we treat them like facts when they are more subjective than we dare admit.
Ken, so as implied by you, this is a valid argument:
1. Unhygienic surrounding enable fatal infections, and
2. A surgeon protects human life.
3. A surgeon ought to maintain high levels of hygiene in her work.
Here we see what happens when scientists with no background in philosophy (like Sam harris, or now like you) wade into such things. The above argument is what is known as formally invalid. The conclusion does not follow. Here is a valid version:
1. Unhygienic surrounding enable fatal infections, and
1a. Allowing fatal infections involves not protecting human life.
2. A surgeon protects human life.
3. Therefore a surgeon maintains high levels of hygiene in her work.
Now the argument is valid, but there’s no ought. Sorry, this doesn’t work.
Glenn, you have misunderstood my post. Now don’t interpret my use of numbers here as a logical argument. They are used , as in my post, only to clarify things:
1: I numbered the two components of “is”, the objective bases for moral decisions, purely as an aid to clarifying. There has been a concentration on the objective facts of a moral situation and the role of the objective facts of human nature has been largely ignored.
2: My post identified Richard Carrier and linked to his podcast. This is Richard’s point, not Sam Harris’s. In fact Harris has been criticized for effectively neglecting the “is” of human nature.
3: Richard is not a scientist – he is a historian of science and a philosopher (at least in his writings)
4: Harris does have a degree in philosophy but he is critical of the role of philosophers in this discussion. I think he has a point – at least regarding the philosophical arguments that often get used.
Of course philosophy is not uniform ideologically so one does expect difference between different trends. Certainly there are a number of philosophers who reject the “is-ought” argument where used as a dogmatic mantra. Richard points out that it does not have the philosophical authority it’s proponents claim.
5: I was pleased Richard mentioned this aspect of objective facts underlying morality. And i look forward to his book chapter with the philosophical logical arguments for this. It is an aspect Harris had more or less assumed and received criticism for. While some people will assume this aspect as axiomatic I think our scientific understanding of human nature enables far more than this, I am glad Richard is making the same point.
6: I realize that your problem may be that you approached my post with a particular mindset – the hammer/nail attitude. However, if you can look past the numbers and recognize the point I was making I would appreciate a proper critique.
I am arguing (together with Harris) against moral relativism and for objectively based morality. The point Richard makes helps dispose of the main criticisms of Sam’s arguments.
Ken, two questions:
1) Do you agree (with Dawkins) that without a goal, then talk of morality is meaningless?
2) If so, then please explain how we can have an “objectively based goal” against which to consider the facts?
Dale, I wasn’t aware that Dawkins had made the link between goals and morality (a view that I hold – as we’ve discussed many times before). Do you have any references so that I can see his particular angle on the topic?
I will see if I can find Dawkins’ recent comment, Damian. I think it was in an interview where Sam’s ideas were raised. Dawkins’ comments that Sam could well be right, that science can help determine right and wrong, once a necessary criteria or goals are set.
I think he more or less argues that in The God Delusion and other articles (while not specifically mentioning science).
My point us that still leaves one open to a criticism of relativism because one starts with an axiomatic goal. I suspect Dawkins would not be satisfied with that situation. I certainly aren’t. That is why I argue given the objective facts of our human nature, our consciousness, intelligence, empathy and social nature we have a basis for a set if goals or ethical values which are more or less uniform across cultures, religions and societies.
Dale, my reply to Damian effectively replies to your question 2. It is the key point in our difference. Your rejection of it leads you to moral relativism, at least of a sort. My acceptance of it provides me with a basis for arguing against issues like slavery which may still be accepted as right by a society.
(nice to see you around – we should do another coffee soon, and I can try to guilt you into helping us move house 😛 )
Yes, Dawkins’ mentioned that we needed to have an assumed goal of ‘less suffering’ in a recent comment that Ken mentioned related to the discussion of Sam’s ‘moral landscape’ book & ideas (TED talk, etc). It was a rather brief comment.
Ken, so I take it that’s a “yes” to question 1? You do agree that without goals (and I insist qualitative value-judgments as well!), morality is meaningless and unintelligible? As for your comments on question 2, I have yet to see how a description of the facts of human nature (both empathetic AND apathetic, I insist, is a more balanced and honest picture) can “provide [you] with a basis for arguing against [moral] issues”??? We have a nature that contributes to us doing things that are commonly thought to be both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – what’s your point? How do you connect the dots from a) a description of human nature to b) a prescriptive stance regarding something like slavery? Me thinks you’re skipping over a goal (i.e. working for & maintaining freedom) & a value-judgment (that humans should be valued differently to things we treat as property).
Bugger – can’t recollect where Dawkins’ made this comment on Sam’s book. He had reviewed it in draft form so it may have been a while back. i think it was in a radio interview.
However, after a brief reread of his chapter on the Moral Zeitgeist I can see that Dawkins was clearly aware of the need to provide an objective explanation of the “concerted and steady changes in social consciousness’ and “its relatively consistent direction.”
He discusses things like education, the role of charismatic leaders, etc. and then says:
“It is beyond my amateur psychology and sociology to go any further in explaining why the moral zeitgeist moves in its broadly concerted way. For my purposes it is enough that, as a matter of observed fact, it does move, and it is not driven by religion – and certainly not scripture. . . . Whatever its cause, the manifest phenomenon of zeitgeist progression is more than enough to undermine the claim that we need God in order to be good, or to decide what is good.”
I agree it is not his job to provide a full explanation and he indicates that this may be found in the fields of psychology and sociology.
I just think we know enough now to advance a more definite hypothesis.
Dale – we have already discussed the difference between a qualitative term like empathy and intelligence and the quantitative expression of these.
We have to considered the difference between intuitive reactions and intelligently rehearsed consideration of a moral problem. I think it is the later, together with the objective facts of our human nature and the situation under review which enables some individuals, moral and educational leaders, to break out of the accepted morality of their time and therefore make movement possible.
You’re still not connecting the dots. We agree that there are – and always will be – facts to ‘consider’, and consider reasonably and intelligently. But the point is that people with different values and goals will reach different moral conclusions by looking at the same facts. Therefore, the facts are not the determinative factor in the moral consideration. The values and goals are. But these are not arrived at ‘objectively’. ((I suggest all you need to do is use the term [and meaning] ‘intersubjective’ instead of ‘objective’.))
No Dale, I am not walking into the old trap of playing with words.
This concept is complex enough – often feels like juggling balls. Such playing around with words will destroy its current intelligibility.
what is it too clear for you? do you not get that it’s values/goals not facts that shape/steer moral conclusions???
Where t=do you get your values/goals from? What are they based on?
Seems fair question Ken, from Dale’s comment (two above) he is confusing the formulation of morals with judgment calls based upon one’s morals.
I think we both get our values/goals through sources like reason, tradition, intuition, emotion & culture. The point is that this is not ‘objective’.
You, however, Ken, point to “the facts of our human nature” as an ‘objective’ basis for morality. My point has been to show that it is not our nature, but our values which are the basis for our moral considerations. Is this unclear?
But all you are doing is slipping in another layer between the objective facts and our final, usually unconscious, determination of action or response, Dale.
Our intuitions don’t pop out of nowhere. I have talked about the dialectical interaction between unconscious intuitive response and intellectually rehearsed consideration.
Our culture and traditions didn’t pop outoif nowhere. Again a dialectical interaction between socially determined intellectual decisions and common intuitive response.
As Dawkins points put there must be an underlying cause for our morality and it’s change over time. An appeal to “metaphysics” without allowing for actual causes will not do as an explanation. It just can’t explain what we observe. Therefore it’s not suitable as a scientific hypothesis.
Who has ever claimed that these things “pop out of nowhere”??? None of the sources of values/goals I cited (reasoning, for example) come from ‘nowhere’… Just because something (i.e. reasoning) is a metaphysical activity, doesn’t mean it’s ‘out of nowhere’. Just because something is non-objective doesn’t mean it’s worthless or unreliable.
I’m not slipping in any layers. It’s just simply the case that the values and goals rather then the facts (of our nature or a situation) are the determining factor in ethics. Facts are facts, but they must be understood within a framework for them to have moral significance and intelligibility.
…and don’t fault me for moral value/goal attainment not being “suitable as a scientific hypothesis”. I’m not the one who says (or hints) we can “derive ought from is scientifically” (post title)!!!
Of course they don’t come from nowhere. Reasoning is an ability of an intelligent being and uses facts as raw material. The objective existence of the individual provides a material base for the process of reasoning – can’t happen without it.
Our brain with it’s evolved structure including wiring of the emotional and motor areas inevitably produces a limited range of emotional and intuitive responses. And these are amenable to learning. Inevitably we have goals and values coming from this material base. They can’t exist without the brain and their character inevitably results from the evolutionary and social history of the brain.
A scientific hypothesis is explanatory. It’s not deriving ought from is.
If the hypothesis is not scientific it’s just another way of saying that it doesn’t reflect reality, has no real explanatory power.
Let’s not react emotionally and irrationally to the word science.
Who the heck is saying that an objective real flesh & blood person is not involved in the process of moral consideration!!??
None of what you’ve said shows how a given moral conclusion (i.e. slavery is wrong) is “based on” any kind of objective facts. The objective existence of our brains and bodies is just another morally indifferent fact, because people with the same kind of brains arrive at different moral conclusions.
But this is the problem for you Dale. You might like the idea that ” because people with the same kind of brains arrive at different moral conclusions.”
But that doesn’t accord with reality. We find an amazing amount of uniformity for humans across societies, religious beliefs, cultures. That is an empirical fact and it is desperate to concentrate on the fact that this uniformity has a range and distribution.
(try comparing the moral behaviors of widely separate species. Also compare closer species like chimps and humans).
This uniformity is an observation our hypothesis must be able to explain.
Oh so we’re back to uniformity and the idea (correct me if I’m misrepresenting you?) that the shared-ness of a conclusion corresponds somehow to its goodness/rightness?? We’re not talking about describing how individuals (brain evolution, etc.) or societies arrive at the moral conclusions they do; we’re talking about prescribing right or wrong behaviour.
An action can only be said to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in relation to a goal (and a value-judgment). You seem to agree with this above, and we both agree that we have the ability to use facts very well once we have an agreed goal, etc. Where we disagree is that you still want to argue for an “objectively based” morality, whereas I’d say the only thing you could come close to describing as “objective” would be the moral calculation of the consistency of action ‘x’ with goal ‘y’. But as for discerning the goal itself, this simply is not an ‘objective’ or ‘factual’ matter. I don’t know any way to be clearer.
But as for discerning the goal itself, this simply is not an ‘objective’ or ‘factual’ matter.
Wow that’s sweeping. How else do you account for different morals “(“goals” if you will) between individuals, times and societies?
Why do children who grow up in company of disfunctional values (e.g. families of criminal backgrounds) end up with sociopathic values.?
There is a mountain of evidence to argue we formulate moral schema due to observation of the reality around us.
how do you know what a ‘disfunctional’ value is?
Even something as seemingly obvious to us as ‘health’ (the word ‘wellbeing’ gets bandied about) is anything but a matter of strict, naked ‘fact’. A rape is not ‘factually’ worse then sex between to committed partners. We cannot just appeal to near-universal intuition and call it fact?
how do you know what a ‘disfunctional’ value is?
from the moral schema I developed on passage to adulthood, from personal observation and received pre-digested from sources such as parents, books, instruction etc and then build upon.
I believe you can observe the moral outlook of children develop and change as they interact with their world. First its all “me” with no empathy for others, later it changes as they realise actions have consequences etc.
I think your position most peculiar.
Great! So we have a socially (thus subjectively) constructed, non-‘factual’ definition of ‘disfunctional’ value. One that is popular to modern westerners as ourselves – selfish apathy matures into considerate empathy.
But this is still anything but a ‘factual’ or ‘scientific’ basis for value.
If the first part of your reply is agreement and scientific method is simply another tool to interact with reality and interpret the result then there is no impediment for it to inform on the formation of morals and value .
Dale – “Oh so we’re back to uniformity and the idea (correct me if I’m misrepresenting you?) that the shared-ness of a conclusion corresponds somehow to its goodness/rightness”.
Well we are back because the discussion is circular and we seem to have to repeat things several times. However, it still seems necessary. How the hell you can interpret my position as “shared-ness of a conclusion corresponds somehow to its goodness/rightness” I don’t know. I actually saying the opposite.
Although it’s perfectly true that a society’s prescriptive code is determined by majority. Hence slavery, racism, discrimination against women and homosexuals were considered right at one time – not now.
Consequently the automatic unconscious intuitive response is that our code naturally accords to that of the majority in our society, culture, clan or group.
But a more thoughtful approach allows us to determine in fact that the majority is wrong about some things. We can only do this if we use an objective basis for our conscious moral decisions. How else do you determine that racism or slavery is wrong when everyone around you and all the social institutions (including the religious ones) are telling you that it is right?
Of course there will be people who claim to be doing the same thing and come to different conclusions. Today there are people who will logically justify crime, racism, slavery, gay bashing, etc. That just reflects that we are not a rational animal. We can pretend to be logical while just determining our moral prescriptions emotionally.
But that is not insurmountable. No one said this sort of thing is simple. And as in science we have been able to overcome such subjectivism we have also been able to fight through such subjectivism in our moral decisions.
The objective basis for morality enables individuals to be morally autonomous. To be able to derive their own moral code from the facts, human nature and logical reasoning. To maintain a position of sanity while everyone around them is mad.
I think this is the way to raise our children. Enable them to internalize a moral outlook instead of having it imposed.
Science can indeed inform our moral considerations, but not form or shape them.
I’m sure we both feel we’re repeating ourselves. I simply have yet to see you provide anything that gets close to what can justifiably be called an “objective basis” for morality. And we’re discussing your views here, not mine. Your position (and Sam’s) is a philosophical novelty and I’m simply trying to understand it.
Facts will always be a part of the process, but they need interpretation.
Values and goals – not facts – are what determine and shape even the most detailed, critical, and rational ethical considerations. When a person analyses the facts, she is assuming the most basic and non-factual of values and goals – like the basic worth of sentient life & the goal of protecting it and helping it to ‘flourish’ (whatever the heck that is), etc.
Science can indeed inform our moral considerations, but not form or shape them.
I haven’t read all the discussion but haven’t interpreted Ken as saying it does. We shape our moral considerations, science doesn’t put on some smooth music and tie us up first.
Apologies if you’ve interpreted Ken correctly and me incorrectly,
but have you spent all this thread on that insignificant point of order?
Perhaps you should read the thread and help me interpret/understand Ken? What do you think he means by an “objectively based” morality? He contrasts it with what he calls ‘subjective’ ones that are undesirable and inhumane and justify slavery, etc. Presumably there is something about ‘considering the facts’ that makes his version ‘objective’… It is this that I don’t understand… Rather than some fact about those would-be slaves or would-be slave-owners, being the determining factor, I think it should be obvious that the determining factor is a (qualitative) value-judgment about human worth.
Dale – surely this is just a justification for the status quo (and relativism): “it should be obvious that the determining factor is a (qualitative) value-judgment about human worth”
History of slavery etc shows how the value judgement on human worth has changed over the years. If the prevailing value-judgement of human worth is where one gets their prescriptive morality things would never change. (and I agree that that is how the majority gets their morality).
But isn’t it great that some people are capable of looking beyond the prevailing prejudices and on the basis of the facts (including those relating to human nature) logically reason to produce a moral code which is in all our interests (not just the slave owner, land owner , priest, bigot, autocratic sexist or tyrant, etc.). This drives human progress.
By the way, a continual evidence that you have a blockage or else cannot stop misrepresenting me. Nothing I have said justifies calling my morality “objective” – I have always opposed that and stressed that I am talking about objectively based morality.
Nor is it correct to say I suggest it is just a matter of “considering the facts” – there is more to it than that. Otherwise a snake could come to a similar moral conclusion by “considering the facts.”
And it doesn’t produce an objective morality.
Ken, please tell me what facts we learned about humans that so aided our logical reasoning as to finally produce anti-slavery codes.
Dale I’m with you on this at least, the 17th century viewpoint on slavery may well have been just as objectively informed as the 20th century one.
We all know relativity depends on the position of the observer.
…heck, and anti-slavery is as old as slavery itself… there are writings and codes against it that are flippin ancient.
Dale, the fact that some people have always opposed slavery within a culture nbd tradition which supported it shows that there are other inputs to moral outlook beside tradition, culture etc. That is of course the fact for most people – they accept the tradition and culture because our normal mode is intuitive, unconscious and reason gets used to justify and sanction what is occurring. Powerful commercial and ideological forces help impose this.
But the fact that some part of the population can apply reasoning more objectively and recognize the violation of person and dignity sanctioned by the tradition provides an avenue for overcoming such violations by changing the moral code. Same with racism, suppression of women and homosexuals.
Why do you think people are capable of doing this? Seeing past the prevailing traditions, ideology and culture?
Yes, Ken, ancient anti-slavery does indeed show that some can rise above the cultural moral zeitgeist. But you seem to think that this happens “based on the facts” and “more objectively”… THIS is where I don’t follow you. If slavery has been resisted roughly wherever it has happened, regardless of having modern scientific facts to consider, then surely you can see that it’s not facts that make the difference, but value-judgments?
As for you last question, I think often the anti-slavery movements have to be started by the slaves themselves, who make their value-judgments (I’m worth more than a piece of property, so stop treating me like one!) known in their protests.
A simple & direct question for you Ken: which do you think is more determinative in moral decision making, facts or value-judgments?
If you weren;t giving an argument then there is nothing to critique, since you haven’t given any reason.
However you actually did try to present an argument. You used a clear indicator by saying: “And we can get there from two “is’s.”” It is obvious that by “get there” you meant “infer.” if you did not mean this, then you only mean that we can state two “is’s” and then state an ought. But uttering sentences one after the other doesn’t “get” anywhere.
So you did offer an argument, and the “ought” does not follow, for exactly the reasons I have explained.
Glenn, as I made clear in the post and my comment I was referring to Richard Carrier’s point. I think he expressed quite clearly a point I have been making for a while (although not in the same words), that human morality has an objective basis.
What I liked about his description is that he referred not only to the objective facts of a moral situation but also to the objective facts of the moral agent. While he chose a surgeon as an example I choose to extend that to humans in general.
There are objective facts which underlying human nature. This means there is an objective basis for right and wrong. Or right and wrong as we humans see it (a snake might disagree).
Everyone seems to have a problem of what we mean by right and wrong – speculating it us somehow “god given”, axiomatic or completely relative.
Once we recognize the basis of our morality in the human nature derived from the fact that we are a sentient, conscious, intelligent, social and empathetic species we are able to understand a number of factors. Such as the relative uniformity of human ethics across societies, races, cultures, religions and other ideologies. Also the fact that acceptable ethical codes change over time. That we can get to see as wrong things we mayn’t have previously accepted as right (eg slavery, racism, apartheid, sexual discrimination and hostility to gays).
This position is not arrived at by deductive logic. That is basically a conservative approach (you get out what you put in – and that may well be crap) and is often what scoundrels and the ideological driven resort to. I am advocating a position arrived at by interacting with the real world. Considering the results of psychological and sociological research. As well as modern philosophers who accept the advantages of obtaining empirical evidence and checking or validating ideas against reality.
In case you missed my comment just above (here), I showed how the opposition to slavery through history shows that modern science (and the facts we’ve learned through it) hasn’t suddenly enabled us to view it as wrong. Rather, it is basic value-judgements about the worth, dignity etc. of a human being that enables such a view.
As I said in another thread, with a cooking analogy, the more facts you have only makes the process of moral judgment more complex and rich – it does not steer or shape it one way or the other.
((btw, you refer to psychology and sociology above – which do not deal strictly with facts alone. The social and medical sciences all assume judgments about life’s value and the goal to improve it. These sciences are built on non-science. Again, we don’t ‘factually’ or ‘evidentially’ know that “health” [whose definition?] is ‘good’… We just assume it because of our culture and upbringing.))
Dale, when I talk about objective facts underlying situations why do you have to interpret these as “regardless of having modern scientific facts to consider.”? Have we not always had facts relating to slavery? Why do you interpret this idea as meaning modern scientific findings.? In every period we have to go with the facts we can determine at the time. And surely human experience gathered enough facts early on to enable a moral judgement that slavery was wrong? (Yes, reality is complex – there were also strong ideological and commercial reasons to make the moral judgement that slavery was right, even ordained by gods). Yes, and the slaves were humans too. They were moral agents. And as the victims they would have a lot of reason to draw moral conclusions from the facts of their experience.
Responding to your question (and I think I have made my position clear on this before). Most of us, most of the time, make decisions on the basis of our intuitions and emotions. There are very good evolutionary reasons for this. Even when we reason and consider facts a lot of the time this is not done completely rationally. We are not a rational species. But underlying our decisions and intuitive/emotional reactions there is an objective reality – both in the features of the moral situation and in our human nature. I have talked about the dialectical interaction between intuitions and logical reasoning. There is also the unconscious learning from our culture. Consider the change in attitude towards homosexuality. For some this has been a result of logical reasoning considering facts. For most it had been an unconscious change in attitudes, intuitions and emotions. A result of our cultural changes. Seeing homosexual accepted in society, knowing homosexuals and experiencing the situation through our literature, cinema and TV.
I can appreciate that underlying our difference is an ideological difference. You give primacy to idea, I give primacy to a material reality. However I don’t see this in naive terms. I really like the way that Karl Marx admonished his son-in-law for presenting Marxism as naive determinism. He said that if that was Marxism he was not a Marxist. He argued that humans take actions, make decisions because if their ideas, their thoughts. But he also stressed that we should ask where those thoughts come from, why we have particular thoughts. He explained these origins as material. I talk about objective facts and objective reality. But not naively.
Dale , it is not only psychology and sociology which deal with more than facts. Surely all of science does?
There is actually a strong ethos in and underlying science of honesty. This actually conflicts with human nature so of course it is not easy and requires special procedures.
This ethos, and the procedures, are markedly absent from ideologically driven areas of human enterprise. And I include religion and politics on this sphere.
Ken, all your lecturing of how we consider facts in moral considerations is not necessary – I agree with you – we use facts. Indeed, we’ve always had ‘facts’ and have always been able to consider them. The facts only get more precise and detailed and complex as methodology and technology develops through history.
The only point I’m making is that facts have no ethical significance without relation to goals and value-judgments. From what you write, I cannot tell that you include this in your descriptions of the moral process.
And because goals and values are not objectively derived (in the sense of facts and science), then moral considerations cannot be objective as you claim.
But that is the key point, Dale. We keep coming back to it and I have repeatedly argued that our values /goals have an objective basis. This explains their relative uniformity and changes over time. It also explains how we can make judgments of right and wrong which are at odds with the prevailing ideology and attitudes.
Ken, I think you mean ‘basis’ in the sense that it is sentient, etc. humans ‘doing’ the moral judging; which I agree is obvious and non-controversial. It is an objective fact (more or less) that humans ‘do morality’, and that less conscious, less sentient animals (or non-living objects) do not ‘do morality’. Big deal.
But this is wholly different to the more controversial sense of sentient, etc. humans knowing ‘objectively’ what is right or wrong. The idea that because we are sentient, etc. our moral judgments are more objectively correct?
The test case of slavery is much needed. I cannot see how anti-slavery values or goals could have an ‘objective basis’. Do tell – using the example of slavery.
Dale it is not honest to redefine my points as in “I think you mean”. I have tried hard to make my arguments clear. It doesn’t worry me that some people will stubbornly refuse to accept them. After all we have fundamental ideological differences. Such disagreements are natural.
So I expect disagreement – but not strawmannery, trivialization and ridicule (as in “big deal”).
Not is it helpful when I try at length to answer your questions in a detailed manner bringing out the nuances of these situations for you to label me as “lecturing.”
I have never claimed “humans knowing ‘objectively’ what is right or wrong. The idea that because we are sentient, etc. our moral judgments are more objectively correct”. Never. The fact that you keep misrepresenting me in this manner indicates you needed a detailed response along the lines I gave. Unfortunately you chose to see this as “lecturing” and therefore did not read it (or understand it).
I think you need to be able to acknowledge that these points are a misrepresentation of my position (reredcing my previous detailed comment might help). Until you accept that I don’t see how you can really understand my argument.
Again, we really need to stick closely to a practical test case. Using theoretical language only will make us continue to miss one another. We’ve used slavery as an example, and I suggest we continue with it?
The whole point of this post/thread is about the question of ‘scientifically’ getting from ‘is’ (description) to ‘ought’ (prescription). With our test case, it is about the question of scientifically – or factually or objectively?? – getting from an ‘is’ statement describing the nature of humans, to an ‘ought’ statement prescribing that slavery is wrong.
Before I go any further, do you agree with this last paragraph?
Ken, do you agree with that paragraph?
The objective facts are those in the situation considered (owning humans, restrictions on freedoms, etc), as well the objective facts of human nature. And these relate to the slave owners as well as slaves.
Sure, those are some facts related to slavery. Great.
But do you agree that the question is how to ‘get’ from these descriptive facts to a prescriptive statement about slavery being right or wrong?
Actually both the prevailing (at the time) moral prescriptions and the humanitarian conclusions which are a minority but eventually lead to changes on moral outlook have an objective basis in the facts of the situation and the facts of human nature. Yet the conclusions are different.
After all greed is part of human nature – as is the us vs them intuition. And economic interests were involved. In that sense slavery was a natural development. Perhapsan inevitable part of human social and economic development.
On the other hand our ability to empathize, to walk in others shoes and to rationally reason through the facts and expand our altruistic boundaries enabled some people to draw conclusions about the immorality of their society.
Perhaps this is really the social reflection of the dialectical interaction between the unconscious/intuitive aspect and the refelective, rehearsed, conscious and reasoned aspect of the human approach morality.
Ken, you’re saying a lot of stuff I – and most would – agree with. But the heart of the question is still missing. My conviction is that when the people you describe “rationally reason through the facts…”, the determinative factor is how humans (and metaphysical concepts like ‘freedom’) are valued.
For example, this comment simply assumes that empathy is ‘better’ and more ‘humanitarian’ than apathy, etc. But this is not factually evident. It is at this basic level of value-judgment that I keep trying – again and again – to get you to focus on. This level is – for us modern, westerners – largely assumed, so we forget that it’s not a matter of fact, yet we treat it as such. This is my (and others) central critique of Sam Harris (and your) proposal.
How do we know what is good? Not by ‘facts’ or ‘evidence’.
Your problem Dale is not my focus but your continual misrepresentation. Nowhere am I claiming that values are “matters of fact.” Thst is a straw mam i disposed of long ago. I keep repeating that there is an objective basis for values, culture, etc. This does not mean that values are directly or mechanically derived from objective facts. The relationship is far more complex. But the fact of the objective basis helps explain why we can come to common agreement on values.
If this were not so our ethical values would be completely disconnected and personally invented. And we know they aren’t.
But Ken, it’s not about explaining “why we can come to common agreement”. Again, what is common could be ‘wrong’? We’re talking about how we know that – for example – slavery is wrong. Not why people think it is right or why people think it is wrong; but why it IS wrong. The fact that we even use such ‘obvious’ examples as slavery, murder, rape, etc. only shows that they are common or near-universal opinions – not that they are correct opinions.
Do you think they are not correct?
Of course I do, but that’s not what the question is about. It’s not about what people THINK, it’s about getting an ought from an is.
OK so you are claiming that slavery is (and was) wrong – and that is correct or true. Not just a consensus or belief or teaching or a cultural aspect.
So what basis have you used to come to that conclusion? What basis would someone who opposed slavery at the time that it was culturally acceptable use?
In your case you may be just unconsciously accepting the cultural and ethical mores of our time. But how did the opponent of slavery at that time come to this conclusion? One that violated the religious, political, social mores, teachings and pronouncements of these leaders?
My conclusion that slavery is wrong is based on reasonable, and convictions which resonate with emotions, etc. – but it isn’t based on facts.
So you only think that slavery is wrong – no sense of truth or correct.
Isn’t that moral relativism.? You could just as easily conclude slavery is right.
I believe it is truly and correctly wrong. And no, once humans are valued as having dignity, etc. then it’s much harder to conclude that slavery is right (indeed most abortions as well, but let’s not go there).
But why should you consider humans have dignity? What do you base that on? Without justification you cannot say that is “true” or “correct”. It’s just an idea you have with no more justification than the opposite.
A belief by itself doesn’t count for anything because most beliefs are clearly wrong.
Are you assuming human dignity as axiomatic?
I called it a reasonable conviction and that’s precisely what I think it is. It is reasonable and I have a strong emotional commitment to it. And what evidence do you have that “most beliefs are clearly wrong” ??? Who has gone through and evaluated all the ‘beliefs’ that people have and found ‘most’ (what 53%? 72%) to be wrong?
But this thread – again – started with the notion of deriving is from ought scientifically and it involves the question of how ‘facts’ fit in to moral considerations. Do you think ‘dignity’ is factual? Is human ‘right’ to freedom a matter of ‘fact’?
My point about beliefs being wrong ( and it needn’t be “most”) is that humans hold contradictory beliefs about things . They can’t all be right. Therefore many are wrong. Belief is not a sufficient basis for truth or correctness (even if scoundrels put “properly basic” in front of their most beloved beliefs).
You and I find belief that slavery is wrong to be reasonable. We have a strong commitment to it. But in the past most people in some societies thought the opposite. They thought acceptance of slavery was right was reasonable and many had a strong commitment to that belief. Nevertheless some people’s attitudes were more similar to ours. Do you think if you lived then you would be in that group? If so why? What could you possibly base such ideas on? After all, almost every one around you would not have these convictions. They would not consider them reasonable. In fact such convictions may well have been illegal. People with them ran the risk of imprisonment, social chastisement and exclusion.
Human rights and dignity are not technically facts except as they are incorporated in documents laws and treaties. This may, and hopefully does, lead to facts of human existence.
I can only speculate and hope that had I existed in a pro-slavery culture, that I’d have bucked that trend.
The relevant point here is that (because rights or dignity are not factual in and of themselves) what enables people to be anti-slavery is holding certain values Instead of knowing more facts, it seems one has to look differently at the facts they already are aware of.
How do people get these values? Especially if they conflict with the prevailing culture, religion, tradition? Do you think these minority values originate in the same unconscious way as the majority values do? Or are they consciously derived? And if so what considerations does the conscious agent use?
I think the question relates to epistemology – how do we ‘know’ the value of something? anything? Especially when different people value different things so… well… differently?
I take human non-omniscience pretty seriously, so I don’t think anyone ‘knows’ the value of anything perfectly and completely. I do think this means that our morality is not ‘objective’. However I don’t think we know nothing either. I think this means that it’s not all just subjective wish wash.
But I’m convinced that the fact/value distinction holds, and because of this, the is/ought (or descriptive/prescriptive) distinction holds. My epistemic view is that facts and science are not the only way to know truth, and that desire and emotion (and intuition & tradition) –always connected to reason & logic– are valid, trustworthy epistemic sources. Both experiMENT and experiENCE, if you like.
But I’ve still yet to get your agreement that morality is not ‘fact based’ (or to clarify what you think about facts and objectivity and morality). I don’t know if you got my email a few weeks back – I was suggesting we do a phone call or skype or coffee next time you’re in Aucks
Strange to use the term “non-omniscience” – quaint. Of course our knowledge is always imperfect.
To say no-one knows “the value of anything perfectly and completely” implies that such a concept is logical. There is a right and wrong on such questions whether we are aware if it or agree with it. You say it’s not “objective” but not “subjective”. But to suggest that there is a logical value to me implies some sort of objectivity independent of a particular observer. I can classify that as having an objective basis. And that us why a completely objective observer, using flawless reasoning and not influence by biases should determine something right or wrong.
I don’t see what other alternatives there can be.
You suggest we can determine slavery is wrong and that this is true. But surely you can’t reach that position from simply “desire, emotion, intuition, tradition, and reason” alone.
Surely the slave owner uses the same process to conclude that slavery is right?
((in passing, I note that your description of “a completely objective observer, using flawless reasoning and not influence by biases” is not far from describing an “omniscient” observer – which we both agree doesn’t exist.))
I didn’t call it a ‘logical’ value – you did. I don’t think value or purpose or dignity or worth is the sort of thing that is ‘factual’. Value is not an observable ‘event’ or physical ‘thing’ that can be observed, tested, etc. Even qualitative value is not objective, but rather inter-subjective, and comparative, because we invent units of measure to express the distance in ‘x’ number of units (i.e. ‘feet’), etc. But when it comes to qualitative value, we are comparing qualities that are not observable, but – I know you hate the word – metaphysical and invisible. There will never be a truly ‘scientific’ experiment involving “freedom” or “dignity”.
That word “never” reeks of dogma and how many people have been caught out from using such a word together with science in the past. Hence the saying “never say never.”
But again I have to pull you up. I have nowhere claimed that value is “factual”. Nowhere.
It seems you really cannot understand the difference between this and “objectively based.”
The colour red is not factual but it is certainly objectively based.
and the ‘never say never’ slogan is like the authoritative command from on high to ‘question all authority’… Never say ‘never say never’!!! 😛
Ken, can I suggest you’re not distinguishing between quantitative and qualitative value? Yes, the quality of the color read can be quantitatively compared to other colors in a more or less objective manner, but the meaning of it (i.e. red means stop!) is subjective.
In what sense can a qualitative value like ‘freedom’ or ‘dignity’ be objective???
The colour red is also subjective and qualitative. That’s my point. It however has an objective basis in the radiation absorption properties of the colored object, the energy of the em radiation involved and in the detection components of the eye, the nervous transmission to thebrsin and the working if the brain itself in putting all this together.
And I repeat again. I have never said freedom or dignity are objective. Never!
Your continual misrepresentation of me on this indicates a fundamental flaw in your comprehension of what I am saying.
Perhaps it’s the word ‘basis’ that you continue using when you say that morality has an “objective basis”??? If all you mean by this is that “the subjective [or inter-subjective, I’d say] process of morality involves [pardon the redundancy] objective objects” then I don’t think the word ‘basis’ is needed at all, and better to leave out as it is extremely misleading. It makes it sound as though the simple fact that we’re talking about objects provides some kind of safety net that will steer us toward good moral conclusions – which it doesn’t.
Why doesn’t it? And why use the pejorative term “safety net.”
You yourself reject completely subjective morality. You have a concept of right and wrong separate from what an individual might claim. And you claim it can be true or correct.
That surely implies a basis. What is yours?
I have said again and again that the objective human nature is involved as well as the objective facts of any situation.
Where the hell are you going to have subjective concepts if not in the brain. And I suggest these moral concepts are different in the human brain to those in the reptile brain.
Whilst I think my ideas about right/wrong are (mostly, never perfectly!) ‘true or correct’, this doesn’t mean that the basis is ‘objective’ or ‘factual’ (in the philosophical sense). The difference (it appears?) between us is that I grant a higher epistemic status to non-factual sources than you do? The near-universal assumption that humans have an equal inherent (qualitative) value is anything but based on fact, but it is so intuitive, so reasonable, so consistent with tradition, emotion & deep desire, that I take the notion as highly authoritative. I don’t need this assumption to be backed up (or formed) with facts – which I really think are indifferent to the entire notion (or any qualitative or ethical notion, for that matter).
I don’t know what you’re on about with the brain, and reptile comments? I’ve no problem with scientific accounts of what is happening in the brain when people think moral thoughts, or accounts of the cognitive capacities of humans, etc. But insomuch as these accounts are scientific, they will necessarily and by definition be descriptive accounts; and not the ‘ought’ statements relevant to this post and discussion.
You do nothing to support your idea that intuitions, traditions, emotions, desires are independent of any objective basis. Similarly you don’t provide any reason for the idea that your ideas of right and wrong are true or correct. Why should they be? Why should you take a particular cultural, traditional, intuitive, emotional moral view as authoritative?
After all, supporters of slavery would have said the same thing. Why is it possible for some people to beak out of that intuitional, emotional, cultural, traditional framework which entrapped people into supporti9ng slavery?
My point about reptiles (or other creatures) is that our morality is different. Our values are different.
Why is this so? My suggestion it is because we are different creatures. Our bodies and brains are different. Our evolution has resulted in different brain wiring. We are empathetic, intelligent and social because of this. And this objective fact of our nature is one of the legs of the objective basis for our morality.
What!? “…we are different creatures”… from the humans who were – and are – pro slavery!?
Humans are different creatures to reptiles.
Is this misunderstanding a way of avoiding my specific questions?
Ken, I’m not the one claiming an ‘objectively based’ morality. I think the best we can say (philosophically speaking) is that it is ‘intersubjective’. And as for why I have confidence in their truth is that they resonate deeply with the beliefs and values and traditions and emotions and desires of humanity. This doesn’t make it ‘objective’, but it’s sufficient to have confidence.
What about you? How do you know your morality is true or correct?
The slave owners and supported of slavery were part of humanity – with it’s desires, emotions, beliefs, values and traditions. They had confidence too. So I can’t see any way your “intersubjective” aproach can give you any special confidence.
And it is the same today on many issues like attitudes towards women and homosexuals. Who can trust tradition and culture on those ones.
Again, I’m not claiming an ‘objectively based’ morality – please explain how yours leads you to the view that slavery is wrong (reminder: not the bio-psycho-neuro reasons why you think it’s wrong).
I think your response is illuminating: “I’m not claiming an ‘objectively based’ morality.” and this to justify an inability to support the concept of “correct” or “true” moral codes.
To me this means a tacit acceptance that for ones’s morality to be “true” or “correct” there needs to be a basis for it. Otherwise one falls back on intuitions, traditions, cultures, emotions. This is moral relativism. No moral system can be “justified” without a basis. Hence one would be unable to judge others, or oneself. Moral codes are the just what the majority (of one’s society or even just one’s social or ideological group) ordain.
Without an objective basis it is not possible to justify a moral code which differs from that of the prevailing culture. Yet we do argue against the prevailing code and this in the end gets to change it.
We argue using the facts of a situation (the treatment of slaves) and human principles (dignity, freedom, human rights) based on the facts of our human nature.
I think we agree that when one consciously considers moral situations the facts of the situation are important. Where we disagree is that the facts of our human nature provides a basis for values, goals, obligations, duty, etc. You possibly consider these values almost axiomatic. I think they arise naturally from our nature and can be consciously argued for.
Our evolution as a social species means that some mental processes are hard wired into our brain. We are empathetic and this is determine by the connection of our perception, emotional and motor systems. We can feel the pain of others. We can “walk in their shoes.” We can plan and imagine consequences. We have language but so many other aspects are involved in communication..
This is true of our species and similar primates. Hence similarities in moral positions. But some species have a radically different morality. Their nature is different. Evolution has found other ways to handle their specific environments and situations.
Of course you can point to individual who appear to lack empathy or at least don’t exhibit empathetic behaviors. There is always a distribution and some individuals are pathologically abnormal. But even for the “normal” just because we are hard wired this way and have a conscience does not mean we will always follow it. We are also hard wired to at times be selfish, to be xenophobic, hostile to people with different ideas or skin colour, etc.
Organisms are never simple.
Ken – again, our nature leads us to BOTH free slaves and own them. We ‘naturally’ do both. We don’t ‘factually’ know what an ‘abnormal’ or ‘normal’ behaviour is.
And when humans use their brains to rationalise and consider morality, they simply cannot do this without assumed values. But these values don’t pass genetically, but ‘memetically’ through instruction, teaching, role-modelling, cultural influence (why are NZers more ‘green’ than Americans!?), ‘tradition’ or (to use a pejorative term) ‘brain washing’.
It’s neither entirely subjective nor fully objective.
“It’s neither entirely subjective nor fully objective.”
Progress? Perhaps this is a concession to an objective basis,
how would we distinguish progression from regression???
Dale, most of the time subjectively. These days I would guess conservatives call our moral development regressive while many liberals would call it progressive. I see it as progressive.
However, I have referred to the dialectical
Interaction between the unconscious intuitive system and intelligent reasoning.
I think that the objective facts about our global society and our human nature can justify an intelligent reasoned analysis of progression.
But obviously change is never uniform. And the selfishness and them vs us intuitions can certainly be manipulated to lead to regression.
I agree that facts can justify an intelligent reasoned analysis, but again, the subjective nature of basic value-judgments and goals makes it not an objective enterprise.
Dale, you have retreated back up ignoring the objective basis of that second leg – human nature- again.
Ken I’d like to see you run each of your ‘legs’ through both the fact/value distinction and the descriptive/prescriptive distinction.
If any part of your three-legged system is other than objective than the whole thing cannot be objective. A chain (moral system) is only as strong (objective) as it’s weakest link (least objective component).
Dale – the whole thing isn’t objective. How could it be? It involves people making decisions.
Again you are ignoring my point about being objective-based – not objective.
I haven’t time now to do what you ask and a comment is not really the place for a detailed analysis like you ask.
However, I might do something as a separate post later on as I think this would be useful. I would include the fact/value descriptive/pre3scriptive aspects coming out of our discussion.
I am painfully conscious that I should do a post on Sam’s book. Not a full review – but outlining his points and evaluating them. Now that more detailed reviews are coming in there is quite a lot of useful constructive criticism to mull over.
Cheers ken, catch ya.
Last November at a conference on Darwinism I conversed with a graduate student in philosophy who embraced Ruse’s position on the evolution of ethics, which is not all that unusual among evolutionists. He told me he believed that morality is a biologically innate response shaped by evolutionary processes. It has no independent, objective, or universal existence. I pressed this graduate student, asking him how far he was willing to take his ethical relativism. Upon his affirmation that he subscribed to it completely, I asked him if he thought Hitler was morally evil. After explaining that he personally found Hitler’s views repugnant, he admitted that he had no basis for condemning Hitler and finally he conceded, “Hitler was OK.”
Rob – what is it with you apologists. Are you prepared to acknowledge you promote the ID people and their rubbish? (eg. your link). Your mate Stuart ran away when he was challenged. As do Matt and Glenn. It appears you guysactually promote it but pretend you haven’t made up your mind.
Do you think Hitler was morally evil? Do you have a basis for that decision? What is it?
I am not interested in you subjective account of a student you have met. I am after your own reasons.
Look forward to your considered response.
Last November at a conference on Darwinism…
A conference on what?
Hi, I am an atheist, I know beyond every possible doubt that there is neither God nor afterlife.
I think that belief in God can not provide us with an objective morality, as clearly shown by the Euthyphro dilemma : is something good just because God stipulated it is (in which case it is arbitrary, for God could state one ought to love ones foes as well as ordering the slaughter of the folks of Canaan. ) or did God ordered it because it is good (in which case there exists an objective standard of goodness independent of God) ?
However, I believe that the same challenge could be posed to any form of atheistic moral realism.
Over the past decades, numerous discoveries in neurology and evolutionary psychology have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that our moral intuitions ultimately stem from the shaping of our brain by evolution and that WITHOUT any such emotional intuition, no moral system can be built from reason alone.
This is well illustrated by the study of the brains of psychopaths: since they lack the moral emotions, they don’t consider as true most fundamental moral principles (like avoiding to create suffering, trying to promote the happiness of others) although they are quite able to reason well.
This shows the truth of David Hume’s famous principle that moral truths are the projection of our gut’s feelings on an indifferent and cruel reality : since one can not derive an “ought” from an “is”, moral truths are the expression of our emotions which we mistakenly consider as features of the objective reality.
No moral system can be created without the appeal to at least one kind of intuitions, the brute facts of nature never lead to moral duties and obligations.
Now, I want to state a version of the Euthyphro dilemma which shows the impossibility of defining an objective atheistic morality: is something good just because Evolution hardwired this conviction into us (in which case it is arbitrary, for Evolution could have lead us to believe that murder and torture are right ) or did Evolution produce our current beliefs because they are good (in which case there exists an objective standard of goodness independent of Evolution) ?
Let me now develop the first point: there is an extremely great number (perhaps even an infinity) of planets where intelligent beings like us could have evolved. Given the huge dimension of the sample, it is more than likely that many such intelligent beings have evolved conceptions of morality which would appear completely disgusting to us.
Imagine for example a species of giant lizards ( or whatever else if you’ve more imagination than I 🙂 who were shaped by natural selection to value power, violence , selfishness in so far that it remains compatible with the interests of the group. When invading a city and killing or enslaving all its inhabitants, their brain generate a warm feeling of happiness, satisfaction.
When however confronted with weakness among their own folk, they feel an overwhelming indignation, anger, rage which lead them to kill the individual guilty of failure , and after having done that, their brain awards them with an intense feeling of pleasure.
Now imagine such beings arrive at our earth and conclude based on their evolutionary intuitions that it would be moral and perfectly good to enslave all human beings capable of working and to kill all others.
What would an human atheist and moral realist say to these lizards? Do they ought to behave in a way coherent with the moral intuitions they have and slaughter or enslave all humans ?
My contention is that it would be completely impossible to show to these creatures that killing innocent beings is wrong: all moral systems developed by humans which would justify this conclusion can not be deduced from the mere consideration of natural facts , they all crucially depend on one or several moral intuitions , which are not shared by the intelligent lizards, so there would be no common ground upon which one could argue that something is right or wrong.
Now, a defender of godless moral realism could agree with me it is fallacious to rely on evolution to define an objective morality in the same way it would be fallacious to rely on the commandments of a deity. But he could then argue that there exists a moral standard independent of Evolution upon which moral realism would be based.
The problem of this argument is the following:
As I have said, no moral system can be grounded by mere logic or factual analysis alone, at some point moral intuitions (due to Evolution) are always going to come into play.
Take for example the possibility of torturing a baby just for fun: almost every human being would react with disgust and say it is wrong. Neuroscience has proven that such reaction does not stem from a rational consideration of all facts but rather from instinctive gut feelings.
Afterwards, people try to rationalize their belief by backing them up with arguments and mistakenly think they feel this disgust because of their reasoning although it is the other way around.
Based on rigorous experiments in the field of neuroscience, Jonathan Haidt shows that in the case of moral reasoning, people always begin by getting a strong emotional reaction, and only seek a posteriori to justify this reaction. He has named this phenomenon ‘the emotional dog and its rational tail’: http://faculty.virginia.edu/ha…
And since one can not derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’, there is no way to prove that ‘one ought to not torture a baby for the fun’ by a reasoning based on fact alone, at one moment or an other , one is forced to appeal to emotions.
For example, saying to a intelligent lizard they ought no to do that because the baby is cute, because he is innocent, because he has an entire life before him would completely beg the question for our intelligent alien, which would then ask: “why does the baby’s beauty, innocence, or the fact he has still many years to live implies one ought not to kill the baby ?”. After one or two hours of circular reasoning, the honest human would be coerced to recognize it is so because these things sounds intuitively bad for him.
Concerning the objectivity of morality, I am neither a moral relativist nor a moral subjectivist but a proponent of an error theory: moral statements and truths are in fact nothing more than the products of our emotional intuitions , but because of the hard-wiring of our brain, we erroneously believe they correspond to some external facts of the objective reality and try to derive them from pure natural facts, committing the is/ought fallacy.
For those interested in the line of thinking presented here, I highly recommend you to read Joshua Greene’s dissertation, where he clearly demonstrates the true nature of morality and develops a coherent error-theory.
To conclude, although I am not a moral realist, I do think there is a place for ethic in each human life.
But instead of using moral absolutes such as “good”, “evil”, “right”, “wrong”, “ought”, “ought not”, referring to spooky concepts whose existence is as likely as the presence of an invisible yellow unicorn on the surface of Mars, I prefer to employ the language of desires, which correspond to indisputable facts:
We, as human being, love infant life and desire baby to growth and become happy, therefore if we want our desires to be fulfilled, then we ought not to torture babies for the fun. Contrarily to moral realism, the ‘ought’ I have used here is hypothetical and not categorical.
In the same way, I can not say the atrocities we find in the Old Testament are objectively wrong, because I don’t believe in the existence of such moral absolutes, but I can express my convictions in the following manner: if we want our intuitive feelings of love, justice and charity to be respected, then we ought to reject many books of the Old Testament as being pieces of barbaric non-senses.
The traditional moral discourse “The God of the Bible is morally wrong, we ought to fight Christianity, we are morally good whereas religious people are wicked and so on and so forth” seems to me to be completely flawed because it involves the existence of spooky moral absolutes which have no place in a scientific view of the world.
I really appreciate the critical thinking of my fellow atheists when applied to religion but I am really sad to remark they fail to apply it to their own cherished beliefs like the existence of an objective morality.
Gruesome, there is no reason for an atheist, because they are an atheist, to have a good understanding of human morality. After all the scientific understanding of the issue is very new and there are a lot of emotional blocks in the way.
I agree with your long analysis in part – and disagree in other respects. Some idea of my recent understanding of the issue may show through in my review of Haidt’s recent book (see Human morality is evolving – https://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/human-morality-is-evolving/).
I accept the central role of intuition, emotion or passion, as pointed out by Hume and reiterated by most moral scientists today. But I think a simple understanding of this ignores the dialectical relationship between facts and ideas – and between conscious and unconscious deliberation. It is also responsible for misunderstanding Hume’s is/ought issue. He pointed out the difference between emotion and facts – and today’s philosophical dogmatists choose to interpret this in a way which prevents determination of “right” or “wrong” by consideration of facts. I think that is a naive analysis. I notice that more and moral moral philosophers are now challenging this is/ought fallacy.
Personally I think philosophical speculation can be quite naive and inhuman (and illogical). I really can’t take seriously claims like “evolution could have lead us to believe that murder and torture are right” without supporting evidence. I don’t see any evidence for the claim. Similarly speculation about intelligent alien lizards with completely opposite morality purely because of chance is naive. That could be equivalent to saying (for all you know) that it is possible on one of those planets for aliens to breath fluorine because of chance – and ignoring the chemistry.
Similarly I reject arguments about not being able to “prove” torturing babies for fun is wrong. Just consider the facts and your values which have an objective basis in human nature.
Talk of objective morality is, I think, inappropriate. Personally I try to use the term “objectively-based” morality. That implies that because of the nature of life, the biological value that results, and our evolution as an intelligent, empathetic, social, sentient species we have inherited an emotional/ intuitional system, operating largely unconsciously, to handle our interactions. So our morality has an objective basis in our structure as an organism with neuronal control and I argue that we can also, sometimes, find an objective basis for our specific moral intuitions and decisions – because of our objective nature and the facts of the situation.
This is not the same as the theist objective morals by any means (but I am amazed how many people choose to interpret it that way).
I find your definition of “error theory” inadequate as you state it:- “moral statements and truths are in fact nothing more than the products of our emotional intuitions , but because of the hard-wiring of our brain, we erroneously believe they correspond to some external facts of the objective reality and try to derive them from pure natural facts, committing the is/ought fallacy.” Why has this “hard wiring” produced many common features in human morality? Why, and how, does this hard wiring change? The fact is that “moral truths” do and have changed markedly over time. And yes this means that our emotional reactions to homosexuals, skin color, working and
voting women, slavery, etc., has changed. And while this change has been largely unconscious for many in our society there has also been a lot of consideration of facts and application of reasoning involved. So much for not reaching an ought from an is.
Good luck for your attempt to replace “right” and “wrong” with a “language of desires.” I don’t think it will happen because those words actually correspond to strong emotional and intuitional feelings. And it’s just as well – as that is how our body works to get us to respond in socially appropriate ways. That does not make them “objective” in a mechanical way (I agree such a spooky concept is stupid) but it does strongly motivate us to act.
The way I see it we do infer ought from is because, in the manual mode, we take account of the situational facts and our values (intuitionally based and able to change over time) to decide on a course of action we consider to be “right” – and that feels “right.” In the auto mode (most of the time) this is not conscious. That’s the way we had to evolve – and we can see that in some other animals.
A much later answer:with all due respect, I believe your comparison of alien evolving a morality opposed to ours with some chemically impossible think smacks of wishful thinking.
It looks like:
“Personally I think philosophical speculation can be quite naive and inhuman (and illogical). I really can’t take seriously claims like “evolution is true” without supporting evidence. I don’t see any evidence for the claim. ”
So, you clearly you have an initial strong desire to believe that those things could not have evolved, and you say you don’t see any evidence, which is very akin to the way creationist brains work
Come on, the universe is probably infinite (or there exists an infinite number of parallel universes) so every event which is a probability different from zero, however unlikely, will happen. (this by the way also means we as atheists should stop ridiculing religious beliefs by comparing them with faith in elfes, fairies and dragons because such beings may very well exist somewhere).
Moreover, I am extremely suscpicious of arguments for the impossibility of the existence of intelligent immoral aliens, because they really ressemble those for intelligent design: because the authors cannot allegedly conceive of how this could have evolved, they declare it to be impossible.
So, if you take the strong position and make the extraordinary claim that advanced aliens lacking compassion and love cannot exist, you have clearly the burden of proof, and should not limit yourself to mere assertions and dubious comparisons. I’m going to change my mind on that if you provide extraordinary evidence.
So, on these grounds I think Carrier’s moral ontology faces Euthyphro dilemma: is something morally good because evolution made it, or did evolution make it because it was good?
The second possibility is impossible for naturalists like ourselves, evolution could not have had such a conscious and meaningful goal in mind.
As I have argued above, the first possibility means morality is arbitrary, because evolution could very well have programmed us in a different way. (to refute that, please offer arguments and not merely assertions)
As an human being, I’m very well aware of the moral intuitions biological evolution put into my brain, but why on earth do I ought to follow these impulses?
As Peter Singer put it:
way of arguing against a normative ethical theory is to show that in some circumstances
the theory leads to judgments that are contrary to our common moral
intuitions. If, however, these moral intuitions are the biological residue of our evolutionary
history, it is not clear why we should regard them as having any normative
“The way I see it we do infer ought from is because, in the manual mode, we take account of the situational facts and our values (intuitionally based and able to change over time) to decide on a course of action we consider to be “right” – and that feels “right.” In the auto mode (most of the time) this is not conscious. That’s the way we had to evolve – and we can see that in some other animals.”
But this passage actually undermine your attemps to define a rational morality based on facts, because we know that the animal morality you mention can oftentimes be quite irrational. In fact, as you know it, psychologist Jonathan Haidt point out that most of the time, what we consider to be morally right just stems from our unconscious gut feelings, and we MISTAKENLY beliebe they stem from rational considerations based on the fact. So, this clearly support an error theory, people are mistaken about the nature of their moral beliefs. I would argue with Hume that you cannot justify the sentence “murdering is wrong” with facts and Reasons alone, you have to use a POSTULATE. Carrier Postulate is apparently that we ought to follow our factually correct and coherent desires shaped by evolution.
Sam Harris postulate is that we ought to act in such a way to always minimize suffering and maximize happiness. (utilitarian logic).
Note that both moral systems will quite likely lead to many opposite statements, because our ape-like mentality is often very individualistic.
Who’s right? I would think neither of both is, as far as objectivity is concerned.
I apologize for my late answer, I had in betwween forgotten I wrote a post here.