Saturday, April 22, 2017

On Consistency

Inconsistency fascinates me. Ever since I read a book called something like 'Secrets of Ninja Mind Manipulation' which I remember little of, except that it stated at the core of Ninja mind manipulation was an understanding that human minds desired consistency and this was the secret to unraveling it I've managed to find intellectual consistency to be a conspicuous behavioral trait albeit seldom achieved. And I should add the caveat that, for fear of ninja mind fucks, I don't personally aspire to be rigidly consistent, the side effect of which has been the delightful discovery that if mid-argument you simply change sides with mind boggling speeds it infuriates people more so than if you had bludgeoned them to death with rational debate.

Now that I have a feel for issuing challenges, here's just a small list of oft-correlating positions on otherwise independent issues that I feel place an onus of reconciliation to achieve consistency:

Reconcile Gun control and Drivers Licenses

Reconcile Abortion rights and Capital Punishment

Reconcile Misogyny and Islamophobia
Reconcile Young-Earth Creationism and Astronomy, Geology, Chemistry etc. (for the record, I don't believe that Ken Hamm has managed to do it. If you find his arguments compelling I would be delighted to hear why.)

My difficulty ratings should suggest that I have in part done the thought exercise to reconcile my positions on all the above issues. So I'm not going to run through a reconciliation for all but what is immediately juiciest and most morbidly fascinating to me. Which is having to reconcile my position on misogyny and 'Islamophobia' - but although I've rated it as 'hard' this is my general observance that people who tend to be anti-misogyny tend also to be anti-Islamophobia, and I'll disclose I am anti-misogyny, and I chose this language because I feel it is easier to define than a term like 'feminist' of which I don't identify, it also clarifies that one need not identify as a feminist to abhor violence against women in general. As I've stated before here, there are probably definitions of feminist broad enough to include me, but to err-cautiously on the side of honesty, I don't identify as a feminist and frankly speaking my experience of men that do is that of pure lip-service in the interests of getting their end into a meat market that validates their status aspirations with the literal sole exception of a trans-man I have met, who struck me as actually willing to pay a price to support feminist causes. This is not my experience of male-feminists in general.

'Islamophobia' is a meme that earns its scare quotes because it's grammatically and psychologically invalid. 'Islamophobia' is not akin to Arachnophobia, Agoraphobia, Aquaphobia and so on through the alphabet of psychological conditions that have practical meaningful definitions and describe real psychological phenomena. Homophobia doesn't get scare quotes from me because it is much more likely that there are people with irrational fears of homosexual activity, for whatever reason. I'd concede that this might be true of a concept like Islam, for example, the existence of a person who is afraid to touch a copy of a Koran and knows this fear to be irrational... but in general parlance this is not the specific behaviors 'Islamophobia' refers to.

Thus let's delve into the nitty gritty, for example if you feel an argument like 'not all men' (which I currently understand to be a man refusing to take ownership of violence, discrimination etc. perpetrated disproportionately by men.) as invalid this would describe my position too.

Namely it is a bog-standard response to a complaint to avoid responsibility through blaming or deflection etc. It also falls under the purview of an informal fallacy known as the 'No true Scotsman' fallacy, though not quite. Given that 'not all men' is consigning a pattern of behavior to statistical insignificance, or denying a masculine culture that is problematic etc. It is an invalid argument insofar as it does nothing to actually deny the existence of a pattern of violence correlating strongly with gender and/or sex. Thus, when faced with criticism of male behavior such as sexual assault or physical assault on women and the prevalence of it, pointing out that it is not universal is invalid strictly unless it's in the face of some universal preventative measure like a 'man-ban' executive order.

As to the question of owning a problem, my position is that we should aspire to responsibility and thus the best thing to do when someone comes to you with a problem, regardless of the problem is respond 'what can I do?' and not in an imploring rhetorical answer that implies we both know the answer is nothing. However I do defend the right of people not to care about shit, and while not as admirable by far, I would respect someone who responded 'I don't care' in a way that I don't respect somebody who clutches at an argument like 'not all men'.

Now you can watch Ben Affleck's high rating attack outburst, you only need to watch a minute or two before the 'not all men' argument is made. One does not have to search the internet long or deeply to find examples of the No True Scotsman fallacy touted. It's a fallacy all human beings are intuitively prone to. Lest you think that attaching the word 'informal' means that it's no biggie, the distinction between formal and informal fallacies, to my understanding is that 'formal' fallacies are like Mathematical equations, 'If all Mercedes drivers are rich, and Bill Gates is rich, Bill gates must drive a Mercedes.' etc. however to commit an informal fallacy does not make your argument any less invalid.

Thus it would seem that if you are going to call on men to own and acknowledge the problems of misogyny, the consistent thing to do would be to call on Muslims to own and acknowledge the problems of Islam.

To be honest, I was very surprised the first time I came across criticisms of Islam being characterized as racist. I live in a by and large secular society, and move in social circles where non-agnostic /atheistic beliefs are rare. It is still my view that in my social environment the correct opinion a member should have on Islam is in fact, no opinion. The impact of Islam on our lives is negligible to non-existent. Most people in Melbourne know far more about Islam than they will ever need to, with respect to not believing that Islam is the true religion and faith in Islam is the only path to salvation or whatever.

My opinion does not reflect reality, the prevailing attitude among my peers is that people for reasons unexplained need to be informed about Islam. Junkee media are a recent phenomena that are 0/2 of the two videos I've seen shared on social media produced by them, one of which is this video for which I want to apologise in advance - I punched into youtube's search engine 'junkee sharia law' and found the closest to the original video shared on social media was this, and although the video is unedited the description in the bio appears to be an ad-hominem attack to suggest Yassmin is some kind of stooge and therefore her expressed views in the video should be dismissed or discounted.

Ad hominem is another form of fallacy which suggests that you can't dismiss an argument as invalid based on who the speaker is. Eg. If Donald Trump says 'China is artificially suppressing its exchange rate' you can't dismiss the claim based on the fact that it was said by Donald Trump.

But you do have every reason and right to be skeptical, and an argument should be accepted and rejected on its intrinsic merits. You would also be perfectly rational to think that Donald Trump is not likely to come up with a workable solution to China's artificially suppressed exchange rates should the claim prove to be true.

So to, even knowing little of Islam, I find Yassmin's video intellectually vacuous. So much so, it's hard to know where to begin. And if you are interested in investing time and energy into convincing yourself that you have good reason not to convert to the faith of Islam, I'm sure youtube and the internet at large have plenty of material for you. I would also before moving on suggest that before sharing another Junkee video, ever, you should check out their webpage for a lesson in basic fact checking as it turns out Junkee are more or less a merciless force of marketing and advertising.

It's circumstantial evidence at best, but the impression Junkee's website left me with is that they are quite cynically on board with progressive issues by and large, and knowing that market research budgets often dwarf actual research budgets it seems to support my intuition that people who hate 'not-all-men' defenses tend to employ 'not-all-muslim' defenses.

Let's get back on point. Every theist, which is to say, every believer has their own onus of reconciliation/consistency best articulated, perhaps for all time by Samuel 'Mark Twain' Clements: 'The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.' which is why I'm surprised that people feel they have an obligation to learn, understand and defend Islam.

I know very little, but I have no inconsistent thinking to reconcile. I believe in an indifferent Universe populated by no personal Gods. Thus I don't have to figure out why the testimony of one Prophet is valid and another Prophet's can be ignored. I don't have to conceive of a way in which the true faith could be delivered to one isolated community of humanity and a completely different true faith could be delivered and endure for generations, indeed civilizations to another isolated community of humanity etc.

I'm convinced by evidence sufficiently accessible to me, that the events described in Genesis did not occur. I'm confident enough to defer to archeological scientists that the events described in the book of Exodus did not transpire. Beyond that, when entertaining claims that a person was the son of God, or received the direct word of God and didn't bother to invalidate the claims of Genesis and Exodus as I would expect from a historical figure that had unprecedented insight into the creation of the Universe, that the claims of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Mormonism become increasingly unlikely to be untrue.

'What's going on?' I hear you say, did you move onto reconciling creationism with the physical sciences? Let's breathe and reorient.

I was surprised the first time I heard a friend conflate criticism of Islam with racism. This is because, criticism of religion is so commonplace. It seems most logically consistent that if you spent highschool with the cool kids saying 'I don't think Jesus even existed, it all bogus' I would have assumed the consistent thing to do is apply this same mindset to any religious belief you were presented with.

I am only for religious freedom in so far as I don't believe in thought crimes. I don't for example believe religious freedom extend to exempting someone from hate-speech for example, or that it might exempt them from the local legal system in any capacity. I myself hold many superstitions with the conviction that they are completely irrational but nonetheless exert some kind of placebo effect on my psychological life. I would hate to be persecuted for being superstitious. I would extend this freedom from persecution to people who believe with conviction that they have knowledge of the divine or supernatural etc.

What though, is a religious belief? Do you for example believe that being a Christian means anything you want it to mean? Practice suggests that it does. But most of us would assume that at bedrock it means you believe that Jesus was the son of god, that the 10 commandments were the word of God and that after you die your soul goes to heaven or to hell give or take a belief in purgatory. A belief in Judaism might at the very least necessitate that Jesus was not the son of god, and at some point the king messiah will be born to restore the chosen people to the holy land and blah blah blah. Does Islam require you to believe that there is no god but Allah, and that the name of his prophet is Mohammed, the last prophet and that the Koran is the perfect word of God? I genuinely don't know.

I don't know if Yassmin would say that the Koran is the figurative word of God subject to interpretation. I also don't know if she possesses any real authority to say so. Or any of the things she claimed in that video.

In this case, I have a right to say 'I don't care.' I'm not particularly concerned about my immortal soul, or about terrorism. I'm fairly committed to not hurting anyone in an act of physical violence and I would risk my life to protect a stranger from physical harm provided I am in the immediate vicinity. I do not for example dedicate much effort to preventing infant deaths in foreign countries by donating to mosquito net charities, so I'm less concerned about the moral implications of these acts of omissions wherever I'm a bystander.

While I would not apply an ad hominem fallacy to religious texts, and find them as likely as any other literature to contain wisdom and useful instruction, I find all theism basically indefensible, which is why I am not a theist.

I would expect that if you nod along and like content that suggests 'not all men' is a ridiculous dodging of responsibility, you would do the same for this dodge in all its manifestations.

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