Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Einstein Factor

Was crappy low budget television for boffins. The british by the way have a word for people that have given up on being a social animal and instead obsess over knowing a whole bunch of shit about shit and this word is 'boffin'.

Anyway, I talk now about the Einstein factor not because it was good television but because of what it was. Contestants on the show nominated a category that I guess they were supposed to be the 'Einstein' of, and then were quizzed on their own area of expertise.

You would see (occassionally, for I don't know how anyone could screw their lives up so badly as to watch it regularly) contestants that would nominate as their field of expertise 'the battle of normandy' and others that would nominate 'The Lord Of The Rings' as their field of expertise.

And the one who chooses the work of fiction has this massively unfair advantage because everything that can possibly be known about the Lord of the Rings is contained within the three volumes of 'The Lord of the Rings', it is much easier to be an expert on a book, than it is to be an expert on a chapter of history given the vast diaspora and competing claims within which knowledge of some historical battle might be contained.

And this is just another Peeve in the 'God' debates, those sad and annoying yet strangely captivating plays we see played out again and again. But this one crops up at a new low of ignorance, and that is in the comments function of whatever website you stream the debate off.

The comment is something that follows thusly:

'I'm so dissappointed in "Mr. X" once again falling back on negative stereotypes of islam/judaism/christianity etc. he hasn't even bothered to read the Koran/Torah/Bible.'

How this relates to the Einstein factor is to point out the sheer asymmetry of the debates once again. The charge of 'hasn't even bothered to read scripture' is most often most applicable to religious apologists, or spiritualists etc. Because it is relatively easy to become an expert on Scripture compared to becoming an expert on Nueroscience, Theoretical Physics, Chemistry, Sociology, Philosophy etc.

Furthermore the whole discrediting point is moot, just by observing fans of popular metal act Tool. Tool fans don't like eachother, because each in turn views themselves of appreciating the intelligence of the band, yet when they turn to observe other fans, they see no evidence of intelligence and thus dismiss their fellows as 'not real Tool fans' or elavate themselves to 'real Tool fan' status.

And one would note that the Spanish Inquisition are rarely accused of having 'not even bothered to read the Bible' nor were the Taliban regime accused of having 'not even bothered to read the Koran' the generally agreed highest fidelity of the holy texts. Thus it is simply not an argument at all to accuse somebody of having not read some Holy text and realised that it intrinsically leads everybody who bothers to read it to the same holy conclusions. Because this is patently false.

A statistician trying to determine the significance of familiarity with scripture in predicting the ethical conduct of an individual would probably find no significant relationship. The most significant influence on whether you turn out to be an ethical and decent person is probably how ethical and decent your parents are and then in decreasing influence of the adults in your life.

But complaining that Harris, Dawkins or Hitchens didn't bother to read some text you believe to be the best read one could possibly have is going to be most often false, and also hypocritical because I find it rare for anybody arguing for religion to be up to speed on 20th century scientific advances, and we are now in the 21st.

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