Fallacies of relevance: The redness of your red herring doesn’t make your irrelevant statement relevant

Following up on yesterday’s post, a factually correct but irrelevant statement is fallacious. Its factual correctness doesn’t make it suddenly relevant.

Yesterday the example I used was “Islam is not a race”. My original Facebook post, featuring only the meme, led to many responses. Almost every one of them amounted to “But it’s true!”

Yes, it is true that Islam isn’t a race. But that statement is almost always used by people who have made racist statements against people who happen to be Muslim, right after they get called out for their racist statements. Therefore it is irrelevant.

In the example given, the fact that Islam is not a race has nothing whatsoever to do with the gross generalizations made by the person about other people, generally members of a Middle Eastern country seeking asylum, or immigrants who are already in their country.

This really isn’t difficult to understand.


Astute readers may notice the connection between the last three posts. Maybe I should tag them all fake news?

Another post worth writing is about the misuse of the word “egalitarian”. Claiming to care about all rights as an excuse to deny equality to women and attack feminists is common – almost fucking trendy nowadays.

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Even skeptics have blind spots when arguments agree with their beliefs? (On an argument stating that addiction is a disease.)

Well, this sucks. I shared to disagree with this bad argument the other day, only to find that some of my friends, who are atheists and skeptics, agreed with it.

ChoiceStrawman

Now consider this:

People who think Jesus is not God

You’re simply incorrect. It is not an opinion or debate because Jesus has been known to be god since about 50AD. The facts have disagreed with you for nearly two thousand years. You are not a priest and your Facebook rants have no merit because the theological community views Jesus as the True God. Pick up the Bible and Jesus will be there. It is a theological FACT that Jesus is God. Believing otherwise is literally delusional.

It is irrelevant whether or not addiction is a disease, although I believe it isn’t a disease and I’ll make my case further on for interest. The point I want to get across today though, is that this is a poor argument.

  1. Nobody claims addiction is a choice. That’s a straw man. I chose to use meth, not to be an addict. Addiction is a bunch of things, including being chemically dependent on a drug, being psychologically dependent and convincing yourself that it being difficult to stop means you can’t (hence falling for the “you were powerless” claim of 12 step programs is easy), and the behaviours associated with the effects of the drug on your brain, including denial of having a problem.
  2. How long something has been believed doesn’t make the claim true.
  3. Not all doctors, psychologists, or neuroscientists accept that addiction is a disease. Cherry picking only literature that agrees with you is an example of selection bias. The lines are blurred… I can’t do an online search and easily find where the dogmatic NA/AA info ends and real science begins, or determine how much bias there is in science that presupposes 50 years of 12-step type dogma to be right. There are published papers that support both conclusions and I am not qualified to read most of them. (But keep point one in mind – nobody is claiming that addiction is a choice and real arguments against it being a disease are more nuanced than this meme will have you believe.)
  4. Asserting that those who disagree with you are delusional while not even considering what their actual arguments may be, but instead arguing against the “addiction is a choice” straw man argument, is a great way of dismissing contrary views without knowing what they are. It’s also ad hominem. (You are delusional if you don’t agree with me… Seriously?)

I found it shocking that some of my fellow atheists and skeptics could agree with such a terrible argument. I’m disappointed.

Whether or not addiction is a disease is not the point today, but just to clarify my views…

I chose to use drugs. Then I became dependent on those drugs, chemically and psychologically. My behaviour and brain chemistry was altered by the drugs, but not in any way that wasn’t expected. My argument is simply that every effect fell within the expected and predictable neuroscientific effects of methamphetamine on my brain. So addiction is nothing more than a name for a bunch of symptoms and behaviors around something that is quite normal, a brain responding to adverse conditions. Stop the drugs for long enough and all those symptoms disappear. So if this is a disease, it is one that can be treated effectively by doing nothing at all, which has worked very well for me by the way. Next month I’ll be clean for five years.

Furthermore, the standard way of treating addiction via 12 step programs is nothing more than a placebo. I don’t care whether or not you believe in god or a higher power. I don’t, but even if we were to assume that this god exists, the “relationship” that you have with it is one-sided. It’s all in your head. And so is the way treating addiction works. As I see it, addiction treatment is all about bullshitting yourselves into thinking you are actually doing something about your addiction, even though you are not. In reality, you are doing nothing, just like me, but thanks to the placebo effect, you think you are actually working on your addiction. Bullshit baffles brains.

Thanks for reading.

A reminder: Atheism isn’t about the belief that we were created from nothing. (Again.)

I can’t believe I’m writing this again, but more posts on this subject will hopefully get one or two curious believers to read one of them…

Yesterday, on a flat Earth Facebook page of all places, I once again rebuked the claim that atheists say we came from nothing, and someone argued with me. He argued that both Dawkins and Krauss have stated it. Your quote mining (without the quotes???) doesn’t change what atheism is.

Atheism is the disbelief in god(s) due to lack of evidence. It is the rejection of the claim that a god or gods exist; the rejection in the claim of creation. (Creation from what, by the way? Nothing? Then the “nothing” argument applies to theism, not atheism.)

The only argument relevant to us atheists is the requirement for evidence that your god exists. We make no claims. We do not propose some alternative argument to creation. We simply reject your claims. The burden of proof lies on the claimant to provide evidence to support the claim.

I’ve argued several times with people who insist that atheism makes some alternative claim. It does not. And no matter how many times you insist that it does, it still doesn’t. Just because you start with the assumption that what you believe is true does not exempt you from having to provide evidence. Projecting your belief of creation onto atheists and insisting we believe in creation from nothing is a straw man argument. When you base your entire argument on this, it also avoids the issue of your lack of evidence. Just because every argument you have is like this and every argument is about as logical as a child who insists Santa is real, does not change the facts.

Insisting that we atheists need to give some answer to where the universe came from is another example of avoiding the issue. We don’t. I’m quite satisfied with “I don’t know”. That doesn’t mean I have to accept your answer, an answer that doesn’t answer anything. It just inserts a placeholder called “god” at the beginning, and by definition that placeholder was always there. Insisting that god doesn’t need a creator is an example of special pleading. If god doesn’t need a creator, neither does the universe.

Gap of the gods

I don’t have anything to write, other than my swapping the words around in the title, which I couldn’t resist…  just wanted to share the excellent image I saw on this article

I love this because it’s a great parody of those arguments from personal incredulity/complexity, AKA god of the gaps. The image speaks for itself, so I don’t need to write anything further here.

creationist_wheel_of_misfortune

Some annoying loaded questions for atheists

So recently I saw this shared on Facebook:

LoadedQuestions

This was the original text:

A close relative from my hometown area contacted me this morning. This person said that they have been watching my page for sometime and have recently had severe doubts about the existence of God. Below is a summary of the questions asked. I thought it would be great if my FB Atheist friends could share their opinions to show the light (so to speak).

Note that all those questions are loaded with assumptions. My friend who shared it mentioned being open to honest questions. Are those questions honest? Maybe I should give the benefit of the doubt and take them to be so, but while they may be honest, they certainly don’t make any attempt to understand what atheism is before asking. (I’m sure that sounds reasonable, until you consider that this is how people debate all the time. They ask us questions and attempt debate without knowing what atheism is. How can you debate something when you don’t have a clue what it is?)

To me, the questions don’t seem to come from someone who has doubts, which contradicts the quote that came along with the OP. My answers below are thus not directed at anyone who has serious doubts about the existence of god… They’re the sort of answers I give when debating someone who strongly believes. Maybe I’m being unfair, but the below is how I deal with people of faith.

Perhaps it is worth noting that I didn’t come to this position overnight. When I was about 16, I stopped believing in god. Letting go of a belief in a soul or afterlife took years. So don’t take this too hard if you are somewhere between belief and disbelief as I was for so long. I try, in my answers below, to address not only the questions but also the assumptions that are loaded into those questions.

As an atheist, what do you believe?

Atheism isn’t a belief system. It isn’t some polar opposite of belief in whatever god you believe in. I don’t believe in any gods, or a soul, an afterlife, or creation, because there is no evidence to support the claims that any of those things exist. Religion makes claims. Atheism simply rejects those claims. As an atheist, I’m standing over here pointing at you and saying, “Nope, that’s bullshit”.

The burden of proof lies with those making the claims. But instead of those who insist that their gods exist making any attempt to prove it (because they can’t), they ask us who don’t believe to explain ourselves. That’s backwards. It’s only this way because religion spreads by indoctrination, by brainwashing children to believe before they are old enough to think critically. So instead of intelligent debate, we get religious apologetics, which seeks to rationalize reasons for believing despite zero evidence, often by bad arguments and logical fallacies or assuming that other things are evidence for god, and we get loaded questions like these, asking those who take the rational approach to explain why they don’t believe what you assume to be true.

What happens when you die?

You no longer exist. There is no evidence for a soul, an afterlife, or a creator. Just because you assume those things to be true does not make them so. As an atheist, I not only do not believe in any of those things, but it’s also not like I connect the idea of a creator to an afterlife. Those things are assumptions you make when you buy into your specific religion.

Not only does the burden of proof mean you need to prove that the god you believe in exists, but also, you need to provide evidence that a soul exists, which means there should be some way of showing that something other than our brains are responsible for our thoughts and awareness. Then, you need to point out why your god is the right one, instead of one of thousands of other gods that were claimed to exist, and establish why worshipping your god is a prerequisite for the afterlife that you assume exists.

To quote Louis C.K.

“What happens after you die?” “Lot’s of things happen after you die – they just don’t involve you.”

Why are we here?

Why should there be a reason? This question is not honest. When faced with difficult questions such as, “Why did your god let millions of innocent people die?”, you tell me, “The lord works in mysterious ways”. So because I don’t buy that, because I don’t accept this magical placeholder for the unknown, the origin of which should not be questioned – unlike the universe – I don’t have a purpose? And you do? What is that purpose?

Just because you claim a deity created you and everything and everyone else, does not give you a purpose. There isn’t a reason and your assumption says more about you as a believer than it does about me as a nonbeliever.

Where do morals come from?

They come from laws, in societies that have evolved where breaking them is detrimental to us an a species on the whole, because upholding those laws is an advantage to our survival. But ultimately they come from us empathising for one another. Ironically, this argument from morality has been made since before man created your god, and will likely still be made at some point in future when belief in some other god is popular and your god has been relegated to myth just like Zeus or Odin.

Edit: My friend Gareth explains the empathising better than I do. He commented the following answer to this question on the original Facebook share: “Evolutionary programming. You feel protective toward babies because you are programmed, and that programming is so deep that you feel the same way toward kittens.

No doubt believers will then credit their god as being responsible for that evolutionary programming? Go ahead and assume that, but know that you just made another claim that isn’t supported by evidence. Also, it’s the same as taking the “works of god” to be evidence that god exists… To take the things that you assume god did to be proof of god is circular reasoning, as the premise of your argument assumes the conclusion to be true.

Furthermore, if a creator was responsible for some kind of objective morality, then all religious people would have exactly the same morals. They don’t. OK, so maybe all Christians since the beginning of the religion have identical morals? Sorry, no. OK, so maybe all Christians in all parts of the world right now have identical morals? Sorry, no.

Just because you credit your god with morality doesn’t make it so. And morality existed before your god’s teachings were written. Of course, in that case you can claim that god-given morals existed before then since “god revealed himself to us”. Really? Well, in that case, we come back to all religions being equal. Why then, do Christians tell me I have to accept Jesus, and Muslims tell me I must accept Allah? If every religion is the result of god “revealing himself to us”, as some of my Christian friends tell me, then maybe they ought to stop insisting other religions are wrong. You can’t have it both ways… As it happens, when you believe in things that contradict each other, and it makes you uncomfortable enough to pretend those contradictions don’t exist, there’s a name for that: Cognitive dissonance.

Why is it that I, as an atheist, have no reason to prejudice against gay people, or transgender people, or people who practice different religions? And also, I have no reason to believe that women are inferior. Even though I’m male, I’m a feminist because there is no reason for everybody not to have equal rights. And even as a white South African, I believe that white privilege and systematic racism is wrong and must be opposed, because it is the decent thing to do. Why is it that without any god, I have better morals than so many Christians? Maybe it’s because I learned my morals from my parents, my peers, and common decency? (Just like the bigoted fucks, but my parents and peers were not assholes like theirs.) Maybe it’s because morality is subjective?

How did the universe begin?

I don’t know, but then neither do you. I don’t pretend to have an answer.

I don’t have a magical placeholder in place of “I don’t know”, call it “God”, and insist that its origin can’t be questioned. How did god begin?

If you insist that god is eternal, then all you have is magic that isn’t allowed to be questioned. It makes no logical sense. You have no more an explanation than I do, but you just don’t know it, and because of indoctrination, you think that belief in god answers everything. It doesn’t. Actually there’s a name for this kind of flawed logic: Special pleading. If everything needs to have a creator (or a cause), but god doesn’t, then your conclusion violates the premise of your argument.

If god doesn’t need a beginning, why not the universe too? It could be a loop. Big Bang. Expand. Cool down after many billions of years. Collapse. When everything in the entire universe has been swallowed by black holes that then merge, there is no longer any mass. Without mass, time no longer exists, and the size is once again minimal. Next Big Bang. The loop repeats. I’m not saying that this is the answer, but the point is, inventing a god that the origin thereof by definition may not be questioned, simply moves the unknown that the god placeholder replaces, into a dogmatic solution that doesn’t solve anything.

Aren’t you afraid of going to Hell?

No, not in the least.

Like the first question, this one is loaded with assumptions. Threatening an atheist with Hell is like telling an adult that Santa won’t give them Christmas presents, only worse. It’s beyond absurd. We see through your religions. We understand that belief in gods does not explain anything about where the universe came from, does not give you better morals, and does not give you purpose. If you believe it does, goody for you! I’m glad that your belief gives you some sort of meaning and that your false comfort makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Just don’t project that shit on me and others like me.

The “works of god” you see rising before you do not prove the existence of god

I’ll try not to make a habit of posting these kinds of screenshots, but I see this kind of poor logic so often, and this example is so fucking funny, I can’t help sharing it.

GodRising

It is a claim made in this case by a Muslim, that God exists, because something he observed proves it.

This kind of observation can be broken down as follows:

  1. You start with the assumption that god exists.
  2. You take an example of something that you believe this god caused. (Usually it is the observed “works of god” – something that you assume this god created. In this odd case, the man assumes that god causes his erection.)
  3. You then assert that god exists, because he caused this thing or created this thing, that you assume he created.

The statement is a long winded non sequitur, because the conclusion does not follow at all from the premise given. It is also a fine example of circular reasoning.

This one is a silly example, albeit amusing. I have read the same kind of logic made my people less stupid than the person in this example… that is, I have read statements just as ridiculous, made by intelligent people.

Come on… your assumed “works of god” do not prove that god exists. They only prove that you assume god was responsible for those works. I struggle to understand why so many make these kinds of logical errors… Such statements do not prove what you think they prove… The prove only that the person stating them made an assumption… not that the assumption is true.

Confronting the angry atheist straw man

As an outspoken atheist, I’m often bombarded with atheist straw man arguments. I suppose this is not unusual. Some of those arguments are subtle, and others not. This post will deal with one or two of them…

The worst part of dealing with those straw man arguments is that they are often not presented as arguments. More frequently, they’re presented as questions, some of which are easy to refute – but the refutation is unexpected and unwanted by the person asking the question, since their questions are loaded with assumptions about atheism, assumptions that they are not prepared to question. Whenever I’ve been asked these questions, my answers, which explain the fallacies about atheism that the questions are loaded with, are met with hostility. The person asking the question always reacts that way, and seemingly does not want the fallacy in the question exposed. They then either declare the debate “won” because I couldn’t answer their question (even though it doesn’t really apply to atheism) or they respond with aggressive hostility, all while claiming that I am rude, intolerant and disrespectful. It’s highly ironic, because not only am I not disrespectful, but I am then criticized for refusing to defend a position that does not represent atheism at all. (I call this “defending a straw man.” It’s a term that I made up without knowing or caring if anyone else has used it, but I’m writing it here in case I ever mention it again. Normally phrased as “I will not be goaded into defending a straw man” or something to that effect.)

Some examples:

  1. How can you believe in nothing? The old nothing and then nothing exploded meme. No, I don’t have to explain that, because that isn’t what atheism is about.
  2. Explain how this thing (holds up some complex thing) came to exist by chance alone. How can you possibly believe this came to be by chance? Sorry, but I don’t believe that. That isn’t what atheism is about.
  3. You must have some special knowledge, to know that god does not exist. You’re so arrogant to think that you have this knowledge. Nope. No special knowledge here. In fact it isn’t the atheist who is arrogant. You have that backwards.

Here’s what atheism is about… It isn’t a belief system. It is the rejection of belief systems. It is the theist who presumes that a god created the universe, but not just any god… the same one that he or she was taught about since childhood. Atheism is the disbelief in that assumption. It is the theist who assumes, without evidence, that this specific god created the universe. Thus it is the theist who assumes to have knowledge that he or she could not possibly have. The atheist simply says, “No, that doesn’t make sense. Where did this god come from?” It’s arrogant to provide a magical explanation for everything, and then it’s disingenuous to insist that anyone who points out how preposterous that magical explanation is, is arrogant.

To assume that atheism is the belief in nothing, or that it’s the belief in things existing by chance alone, is a kind of false dilemma. What you have is your belief, and you then insist that atheism is some kind of polar opposite of that belief. As if belief comes down to one of only two possibilities. Evolution is not about anything appearing out of nothing, or by chance alone. Natural selection is a kind of selection, which involves many factors that affect the gradual changes in life forms over millions of years… factors that are far from random. Evolution also has nothing to do with explaining how the universe came to exist. You’re conflating it with cosmology.

But I don’t have to explain evolution to anyone. I rejected your belief in magic purely because there is no evidence for it. I reject not only the god you think of when you say “God”, but all the others that humankind has created.

And when all other arguments fail, I’m told that I (and others like me) are angry. If I were angry, wouldn’t I be the first to say so? Angry with what? Angry with whom? I can’t be angry with god, and which god do you think I should be angry with anyway? I don’t differentiate between them. They all explain what we do not understand using magic. I can’t be angry with the bible. If I am, then I gather you are angry with the Book of Mormon, the I Ching, the Tripiṭaka and the Dhammapada, the Vedas, and a bunch of other “holy” texts.

The simple truth is, calling someone angry is just a way of taking the focus off their argument and attacking the person instead of what they argue. It is ad hominem.

This meme again (The apologist meme about “nothing and then nothing exploded”)

I wasn’t going to write anything today, but recently a family member shared this old chestnut of an anti-atheist meme, and even though I have written about this subject before, it might be worth tackling it again from a different angle.

StupidAtheistBeliefs

I pointed out to him, and rightly so, that this is a straw man argument… To which he responded that I am fixated on the straw man argument. (What???) Let’s ignore his ad hominem, OK? (Ignore that he responded by attacking me rather than my argument.)

Two things:

  1. Atheism is the disbelief in all gods.
  2. A straw man argument is an oversimplified, or caricaturized, or misrepresented version of an apposing view. It is used to argue against an argument that is easily defeated (because it isn’t the real opposing view).

This meme was the follow-up share to a question, a “challenge” for atheists, to state how anything could result out of nothing. (Paraphrased.) Getting back to point one, atheism is the disbelief in all gods. It isn’t the belief in anything else. I don’t have to believe in the Big Bang to be an atheist… I just have to believe that all the gods ever invented, were invented by man, as explanations for stuff that man did not understand.

Answering the so-called challenge is to defend a straw man, to defend the view of atheism which is not about atheism at all. The challenge also stated that it should be answered without referring to god. (Again… What???) Atheism is about the disbelief in gods, and my views on other subjects like this deliberate misunderstanding of cosmology pretending to be atheism, are not representative of all atheists anyway.

Also, stating that the answer should not refer to “God” reveals that the person asking assumes the existence of only one god, the “true” god, which also happens to be the god that he was taught to believe in since his childhood. (Or some sort of rationalized version of that “true” god.) This is not how you debate logically. If you start with the assumption that god exists, and ignore or discard anything that contradicts it, paint a picture of the opposing view which is not based on the actual opposing view, and then disregard the valid criticism that points out that your idea of that opposing view is a straw man, there is no debate to be had. A debate where you simply want to win, by saying or writing things that others with similar views will agree with, but disregarding anything else, is a waste of time. You learn nothing.

(Regarding my last point above, at least for me, debating is never about winning. It’s about presenting my logical argument, which I base on years of deliberation and previous debates, which I believe is correct but may itself contain fallacies. It’s about presenting that argument, about learning from my opponent while my opponent also learns from me, with the objective being to refine the argument, to improve it and reach the best logical and realistic view that is possible. And if my opinion turns out to be completely wrong, I change it. My current views on atheism didn’t come to me in a day. It took more than twenty years to reach them, and while my logic is pretty solid, there’s always room to learn more, to improve and to change any opinions that are wrong. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of becoming skilled at debating itself, to win at all costs, so I am extra careful not to do so.)

The fact is, I can’t explain how anything comes out of nothing, but I don’t have to because I don’t believe that. (I’ll get back to that point.) You can’t explain where your god came from. So you will resort to special pleading and claim that he always existed, therefore you don’t have to answer the question. (This leads on to an argument from first cause, which I have also written about before.) And that’s where your “nothing exploding” bullshit falls apart. If you can assume that your god always existed, why not the universe too? (Told you I’d get back to that.) You didn’t solve the problem (of explaining how the universe came to exist)… You just fabricated a magical explanation for it, then accused anyone who doesn’t believe in your magic, of not making sense.


Edit: I feel that this must be added. I hate this… hate responding to Facebook shares and arguments by my family member, although I can console myself that he doesn’t read these posts. We are getting quite close after years lost due to my meth addiction. Lately our relationship is improving, and I struggle with reconciling that with partaking in arguments online, which I worry may affect the relationship negatively. I respect the opposing view, but his arguments are often smug and condescending, and littered with a complete misunderstanding of my views as an atheist. I am accused of being intolerant, disrespectful, obnoxious and angry, and those accusations are not only patently wrong, they’re insulting. I can’t seem to reach him; get him to understand that my views are based on pure logic and are different to his, but do not insult anyone or assume that theists are less intelligent. I do hope that one day he can come to some sort of understanding of what atheism really is, but that’s probably never going to happen.

In a nutshell, theists believe in a god or gods without any evidence to support the claim. Atheists don’t. That’s it! All apologist arguments are rhetoric and nothing more. Some of them like the one featured in this post, rely on misrepresenting the view of atheists, but don’t let such arguments fool you. No logic lies behind their assumptions and fallacies, and there are no good apologist arguments.

Gosh, somebody is wrong on the internet

I just got sucked into the silliest online argument…

A friend shared one of my posts. One of the points in that post was the reality of meth addiction. I’m not going to go and read it again because it was written a long time ago, but it came down my criticism of the series Breaking Bad, which I never watched.

I criticized the show for romanticising the usage and the manufacture of methamphetamine. The reason for that section of the post was merely to point out the reality, as I know it to be. And the reality is, meth users tweak. They spend most of their time doing nothing at all. They spend most of their time delayed. For instance, a meth addict might spend three or four hours on combing his hair, or packing and repacking a desk drawer, or searching for something in the drawer. Searching is the worst… You get stuck on trying to find something, then search and research the same place for it, neither seeing that it is there right in front of you (in the case that it is), nor searching anywhere else. Like everything else you do on meth, for a while it becomes an obsession, and you can’t stop (and don’t want to stop) compulsively doing whatever you are stuck on doing. It’s like a computer program stuck in an endless loop, repetitively doing the same thing, which achieves nothing, in endless iterations until somebody kills the task.

Meth cooks are the same. They also end up addicted, because meth is such a dangerous substance, everybody directly involved with it ends up using it. So a realistic show about meth cooks would involve a lot of sitting around, much staring into space, much talking nonsense, some poor fool counting and recounting his money over and over again, and people acting like clowns, but it would feature little action. Mostly it would feature someone walking around his or her house for several hours, busying him or herself with mundane tasks. It wouldn’t air past the pilot episode, because it would be the most boring show you ever saw.

The person arguing with me made a smug and dismissive comment about not wanting to guess which fallacy this is… And the fallacy is: fallacy of composition. Yes, I didn’t watch the show. Yes, I don’t know every meth cook on the planet, so you can argue that I’m applying the little that I do know, the part, to that which I do not know, the whole.

However, I have known a few meth cooks, many meth addicts, many meth dealers, and several cops who dealt directly with meth. They all had one thing in common: They all became meth addicts. That’s just the way it is. If you handle the substance at all, sooner or later, you use it. And therein lies the problem… Meth seems great when you first try it. You feel alert and super-confident, as well as happy. However, the euphoria of a meth high is not as intense as popular fiction would have you believe. It’s subtle. You might not even notice it. But it’s just enough for you to try it again, especially after the first or second use has no consequences. But meth is pernicious, and sooner or later, almost everybody who uses it ends up with the symptoms I’ve briefly described above. Unfortunately though, when you deal with it, you don’t see others in the worst of the states of meth addiction. You see the positive side, the energy, the apparent benefits of the drug. Seeing that is enough to get you to try that first hit. And it only takes one hit to start the ball rolling.

I know of one person who used meth who did not end up an addict. One.

I’m not saying nobody makes money off meth. Obviously people do, but not the ones who deal directly with it. And I don’t know everybody who deals with meth, but I met enough people in the 8 years or so of my addiction to make these generalisations. I’ve seen what it does, and it isn’t pretty.

In short, I understand what happens to people who deal directly with meth, because I have seen it many times. Once exposed to users, using becomes acceptable, group dynamics come into play and you become a user yourself. I don’t need to know all about meth cooks to conclude that they are all addicts too. Heck, most of them probably get into it because they want to make meth for themselves.


I wonder why some people always argue online. It makes sense if you are an expert, but arguing with what you feel is correct, against somebody who actually does have knowledge, is just silly.

A tactic employed by the person who argued today, and I hadn’t seen this one before, was a bait-and-switch technique: Attack my statement about a TV show that romanticized meth use (claiming that it does not), then after I answer, switch the argument to the fallacy about meth cooks. (My argument only appeared fallacious. It was based on what I know about meth and those directly involved with it. I don’t have to know all meth cooks to know what happens to people who cook meth, any more than I have to study all aspects of the Bible to conclude that it is nonsense.) Note that was two different arguments, neither of which was relevant to the main focus of my original post. I’ll be sure to remember the technique, and use it if ever I feel like trolling anyone. That is, attack them on one front, and if they reply with anything rational such that the current line of reasoning might not work, switch to a tangentially related, but different argument. That way the person never gets to make their full case, because the goal posts of the argument move before they can.

(Seriously, I’d hate to debate anyone who uses the bait-and-switch technique. It’s likely to be highly effective at satisfying the confirmation bias of any listeners/readers who agree with the person who does it, and might fool others who don’t recognize that the tactic is being used.)

Considering the C.S. Lewis spilled milk quote

I still haven’t gotten around to my next intended post, but in the meantime, I’ve seen this CS Lewis quote come up again…

Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.

I’ve only seen this quoted twice: Once by an old friend, and more recently by someone who fancied himself an intellectual. I don’t have time to examine and refute it in much detail, so this brief take on it will have to suffice.

Pretty convincing argument, isn’t it?
No, it isn’t. Like most apologetics arguments, this one will only appear convincing to those who already believe in god. A good way of criticising such an argument, is to look at it objectively. Approach it as an atheist would, but not just any atheist, as one who has never heard about any god, and ask yourself: What alternative to natural processes does this argument propose?

The argument posits that without a designer, thoughts can not be trusted. That’s a non sequitur. But not just any non sequitur… The conclusion and the premise have no relation to each other whatsoever. It’s not just that the conclusion does not follow (as per the definition of a non sequitur), but rather there is no logic between the two statements, nothing. (Normally non sequiturs contain two statements where the conclusion doesn’t follow, but can be correlated somehow, even if that correlation is spurious, so they are simply a matter of a conclusion  being leapt to without evidence. This however, is two totally unrelated statements.)

To fabricate a connection between the two statements, the idea is backed up by a nonsensical argument about spilled milk, which tries to claim that natural processes can’t produce the complexity of the world as we know it. Hello, straw man, I see you. The fact is, everything appearing out of nothing is not what atheism is about, but it is what theism is all about. We are expected to accept, without evidence, that all of this, the world and everything else, with its complexity beyond our comprehension, was created by a god, without any evidence of that god at all. That’s what theists would have us believe – that a creator, a being capable of creating everything that there is, just waved his hand and created it all out of nothing. Then question that nonsense, and we are presented with nonsensical arguments like this one.

This argument, despite the reputation of CS Lewis as someone who argued using logic and reason, is nothing more than a bunch of logical fallacies strung together to support each other. To summarise:

  1. The statement is a long non sequitur. (Conclusion does not follow from premise.)
  2. It’s backed up with a comparison that sets up a straw man (an oversimplification of the processes of nature).
  3. The straw man facilitates an argument from irreducible complexity.
  4. Finally, the statement ends where it began. In other words, it’s begging the question.

There is no real argument there. No reason is provided to believe in any god, besides the assumption that this god exists. Thus it indirectly proposes belief in god as the reason for the belief in god. The argument only appears convincing to someone who reads it if they already assume that god exists. Thus it tells a believer what they want to believe, and it seems convincing because it supports their confirmation bias.