Showing posts with label Lee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lee. Show all posts

The Believers Reasoning Scheme

A fallacy is an argument (aka pattern of reasoning, reasoning scheme, argument scheme) that appears valid but upon analysis is shown to be invalid or misapplied. The phrase "Anything is possible" is an example of one of those reasoning schemes that seems valid but is not. Anything is not possible. This article will discuss why an appeal to possibility should be considered for refutation on its face. It will then go on to discuss the effects this fallacy has in a dialogue. Finally it will discuss the process of sound reasoning, and introduce the phenomenon I call the Believers Reasoning Scheme.

Lord Krishna, Human Manifestation of God, 3000 years before Jesus

Hindu is the oldest religion known to man so far. It has been argued that Christianity borrowed heavily from Hinduism. Lord Krishna was the physical manifestation of one of the Gods of the Hindu Trinity who is named Vishnu. Vishnu came to earth as a Human 5000 years ago to battle evil and show people the right way to live. This is an introduction to Lord Krishna, the human manifestation of the God Vishnu.

Folklore Typologies: Similarities between Krishna and Biblical Characters
There are striking similarities between the stories in the Christian Bible and the Stories that make up the Scriptures of Hinduism. Here is a link to where they discuss Similarities between Jesus and Krishna. I will explore this topic in a follow on article done in parallel with this one.

Hare, Hare, Hare! Step right up and hear about Lord Krishna!
I was exposed to the Hindu Scriptures as a Christian pre-teen living in Europe. At that time, I supposed that since Hinduism was so much older, and Israel was so far away from India, that Christianity must be a result of a misunderstanding of Hindu Scriptures and Ideas carried over from India by visitors. I was almost converted. I realized that the Jews didn't think Jesus was the messiah because he didn't qualify and it was uncharacteristic for Yahweh to diminish himself to become a human. No-where in Christian scripture does Jesus unambiguously declare that he is Yahweh in human form, however, it is a characteristic of Vishnu to appear in human form periodically. In my young mind I thought, Jesus was a strikingly different "person" than the Yahweh of the old Testament, Jesus was similar to Krishna and the teachings of Jesus were similar to Hinduism. Therefore, Christianity should be an extension of Hinduism rather than Judaism.

However, since everyone I knew, especially every adult I knew, was a Christian, I was persuaded that Hinduism was mythology, Christianity was "A Religion", Jesus was the one and only God in Human Form. As a Christian adult, I revisited the Hindu Scriptures to see what was so compelling about them, but I didn't feel the same pull towards Hinduism as I did as a child. Maybe our Psychologist Contributors Valerie or Marlene can elaborate on that phenomena.

The Bhagavata Canto 10, The Story of Lord Krishna, and The Birth of Lord Krishna
The Primary reference I used was Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 10, (Bhagavata Purana) but since then they have begun improvements to the site and the links are no longer available. They do provide an alternate site which you can reach from site above or from the links I provided below.

The Bhagavata Wiki
The Bhagavata Wiki, Canto 10-1
Be patient, it takes a while to load. Also there is a link on that page to a site that claims that Jesus Christ was an Incarnation of Vishnu. Good luck disproving that, evangelical.

The links above are a little hard to follow since it is a translation, so the references below are a little more "Layman Friendly".

Simplified Story of the Life of Lord Krishna from YouTube
Short Video

Longer Video of the birth of Lord Krishna

Article on the historicity of Lord Krishna
Here is an article on the Historical Krishna where the following summary is derived in part. "Search for the Historical Krishna", Prof. N.S. Rajaram

Summary taken from the article
"In summary, we may safely conclude that technical and literary evidence from several independent sources point to the traditional Kali date of 3102 BC as being close to the actual date of the Mahabharata War. We have therefore overwhelming evidence showing that Krishna was a historical figure who must have lived within a century on either side of that date, i.e., in the 3200-3000 BC period."

Summary of the story of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna is regarded by Hindus and the incarnation of the God Vishnu. They believe that Vishnu is one of the Gods that make up the Hindu Trinity and is believed to be the lord of the universe who takes human form and is the lord of all creation, all things, all time. Through him people will know what is real, meaning comes only from god. Whenever there is too much evil in the world he takes human form to deal with it.

If you watched the video above, and you know your bible, you probably noted quite a few similarties to the stories in the Christian Bible. Here is an abbreviated list of some of the ones I noticed. The simplest explanation of how the stories can be so similar is if they are Folklore, in other words, the same story structure with the details changed to suit the audience.
- Evil king will be overthrown by a savior (The Messiah)
- The Birth of God on Earth prophesied (Various Biblical Prophesies)
- Virgin birth [depending on the Hindu "denomination"] (Mary)
- Devaki was the mother of Krishna and therefore all divinity (Mary)
- The Kings killing of the sons to attempt to kill the God-Child (Herods action)
- Escape of the central characters with the help of God (Acts 5 and 12)
- Receding of the waters during an escape (Red Sea)
- Talking Snake (Adam and Eve)
- Baby was raised by foster mother (Moses)
- Baby raised by peasants (Moses and Jesus)
Other Similarities outside the scope of the Video that are part of the Krishna Story
- Mischevious boy (Similar to Jesus going to temple as a boy and non-canonical stories of Jesus as a child)
- River associated with Holiness and cleanliness (Baptism in the river)
- Krishna wrestled a snake by the river and won (by the river Jacob wrestled an angel, God or his brother depending on how its interpreted)
- Sacrifice out of love (similar to teaching of Christ)
- Picking up a mountain (to hold over his followers as shelter to protect them from heavy rains caused by another angry God, Faith can move mountains)
- Killing a Giant Serpent (Yahweh slaying the Leviathan)
- Krishna would return when things got bad (Second Coming)
- Krishna was Pierced, killed, and taken up to Heaven (Jesus Stabbed by soldier, body disappearing, later taken up to heaven)

Any form of an argument a Christian can use to defend Christianity can be used interchangeably to defend Hinduism and Lord Krishna.
However, it is more likely that since the stories about Krishna predate Judeo-Christian scripture, then it seems that the similarities in the stories about Moses, Jesus and in Acts are pre-existing folklore structures with the details changed to suit the audience.

Below is an incomplete list of events in Lord Krishnas life with my notes as to the Chapter and verse in the Bhagavata Canto 10.
I only noted enough to make my case and leave the rest as an exercise for those interested in comparative religion studies.

Chapter 1, verses are listed above the line

- Princess Devaki got married to Vasudeva

- Her Evil Brother Prince Kamsa drove the coach on thier wedding day

- While driving the coach, a spiritual voice told Prince Kamsa that "Devaki will have eight sons and the eighth son will kill him"

- He put his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva in prison

- They had sons in jail and each one was killed by Kamsa to prevent Lord Krishna from being born.

- Prince Kamsa overthrew his father put him in prison and took the throne,

Chapter 2:8-9
- Vishnu says he will put himself in the womb of Devaki to be born.

Chapter 3:31
- One evening during thunder and lightning, the eighth child was born and they saw that it was the lord Vishnu as vishnu said he would do in Chapter 2:8-9

- Since the child was in danger of being killed, Vishnu put the guards to sleep and freed the father

- The father took the baby out into the stormy night and the great serpent accompanied them spreading its hood over them to protect the child

- As the father approached the river Jumna, it parted to let the father cross,

- The father went to a house where a woman had just given birth, and the father switched the babies, and Vishnu was raised by the family never knowing the difference.

[MISCHEVIOUS BOY: Similar to Jesus leaving his parents to go the temple]
- The boy was mischievous, he stole sweet milk and distributed it to the other people and animals in the town

[HEROD: Event similar to and event related to Herod]
- But Kamsa summoned and demons and spirits to search for the child

[LEVIATHAN, HOLY RIVER: Similar to an event related to a story about Yahweh slaying Leviathan in Job, similar to the event where Jacob wrestled an Angel, God or his brother (depending on the interpretation) and similar to Jesus going into the river to be Baptized, similar to the tradition to the belief that baptism is a sort of rebirth, cleansing, new beginning or relinquishing the bad and accepting the good]
- One day, wrestling and playing by the river, they saw that the river was poisoned, so Krishna jumped in to kill the Giant Serpent that was poisoning the river.
- He danced on the serpents head and set if free, cleaning up the river making the river Holy once again.
- Kamsa saw the giant serpent and its children in the river and knew that it had been defeated by Krishna,

- Krishna made the land around the Holy River beautiful. Krishna went down by the river and danced with all the women that were there.

- One day Krishnas surrogate father was preparing a sacrifice to Indra the rain god in order to bring rain. The people were afraid that Indra was angry at them. Krishna said that people should sacrifice out of love not fear, so the sacrifice was not appropriate and would be better spent if it were directed to worship the things they love and to sacrifice to the cows and mountains

- So they did and Indra got angry and sent a terrible storm, so Krishna lifted the mountain and used it as an umbrella for the town.

- After the storm Krishna got the invitation and he went with his friend Bellarama.
- Krishna and Bellarama killed the combatants and ordered the guards to kill them, so Krishna killed the evil king and returned the real king to power.
- Krishna battled many evils during his lifetime

- Krishna vowed to return to fight evil whenever it occurs.

- There were many other events in the life of Krishna but the last thing Krishna did was to meditate under a tree in the forest, before being shot by mistakenly by a hunter and taken up to heaven.

Other references, related links

Google Videos Search for the story of Lord Krishna

List of Videos about Krishna on Google

Information about the Hindu Trinity, Hindu Trinity

Video about Dwarka, City of Krishna. Hindu pilgrims go there to worship. Hindu scripture says that the original Dwarka was destroyed by the sea. Archeologists think they have discovered parts of it extending 19 miles offshore of present day Dwarka, just like scriptures described.

Giving God The Glory By Misinterpreting Intent and Purpose In Inaminate Objects

I was watching Animal Cops (a "reality" TV show) the other night and a Veterinarian was working on a potentially lifeless dog (bear with me, this story does have a happy ending).

The medical team didn't want to give up on the dog even though there was no discernible heartbeat. The indication that they focused on was that the chest was perceptively moving occasionally like it was trying to take a breath. The doctor said that the chest movement could be caused by postmortem reflex.

Though its eyes were open they were not blinking. The doctor said at one point
"Right now we don't know if we're working on an animal that is alive or dead".
So from the doctors perspective an animal can be dead and still have a weakly and irregularly contracting and expanding chest.

Over time, the dog blinked, and they interpreted this as another sign of life. They persevered saying to each other that the "Animal has a will to live".

- It was unknown whether the dog was dead or not
- the dog was not conscious
- the "signs of life" at one point could be mechanical reflex actions
So HOW can it have "a WILL to live?"
It doesn't seem to me that it can possibly have a "will" to do anything if it doesn't have the energy or oxygen to be conscious. And taking it one step further, we know that brain damage occurs when the brain doesn't get enough oxygen, so the possibility exists for brain damage to be occurring.

I am sure that if these people were interviewed in another time and place and asked
"can an animal without consciousness that can barely breath and blink its eyes want or will anything?"
they would say
"No, its not likely that it can want or will anything because its unconscious and in such a weakened state"

Yet while they are working on a dog that they admittedly didn't know was alive or not, in effect, they are saying that even though the dogs mind is not functioning it had the will to live. So then we can say that at least at this one time, when these people were under stress and very emotional, they had two logically inconsistent beliefs existing in parallel in their mind and did not realize it.

Okay, that's probably no surprise to anyone since we can't possibly realize all the logical implications of all our beliefs, but why did they do that in this case?

Complex systems are collections of diverse components which are connected that are interdependent, and adapt. The components collectively exhibit one or more properties that CAN NOT be reduced to the sum or difference of its components. The interaction of the components creates a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Examples of complex systems are color, convection, swarming, proteins, cells, organs, systems of organs, bodies, life and consciousness.
Complex Systems

The brain at its most fundamental level was converting energy chemically to generate the signals that were being automatically sent to the muscles of the lungs and the muscles of the lungs were relaxing when those signals weren't present. The key here is that as long as the "motors" were getting and losing energy and input, they were doing what they developed to do which is the only thing that they can do. The medical team interpreted the mechanical and chemical operations of the body burning energy as THE DOG not wanting to die instead of the THE DOGS BODY doing the only thing it can do when there is energy available.

Even scientists can't speak about inanimate objects without falling into using language that describes intent and purpose in inanimate objects. Its just a habit of speaking. If I had not purposely avoided using language that suggested intent and purpose in one of the sentences above I could have used more common terminology and wrote
"The key here is that as long as the "motors" were getting energy and input, they were doing what they WERE DESIGNED to do which is the only thing they can do".

Even though the dog is in "auto-pilot" the medical team are thinking about the dogs body as if the dog has intent and purpose. It seems the reason they are doing that is because they are being fooled by the emergent properties of the components of the body of the dog.

Lets take another inventory of what we know.
- We know that chemicals interact.
- We know that since chemicals interact, that over time they will interact for however long they will interact for.
- We know that mistakes and accidents happen which generates diversity.
- We know that mistakes will happen while every unregulated combination will occur.
So serendipity causes change. Random events cause change.

How many times have we seen children presume intent and purpose in inanimate objects? How many times did we do it as a child, and how many times do we still do it on a daily basis at the office and at home? When things are going particularly bad and misfortune seems to beat the odds it seems like SOMETHING is trying to teach us a lesson or is out to get us. Its seems to be quite a natural thing for humans to do, as evidenced by religions in all parts of the world throughout the ages making sacrifices to appease the Gods.

Feedback loops depend on amplifying, regenerative, and degenerative information.
In our complex system known as our "life", events are judged to be either bad, neither bad-or-good or good. Very roughly speaking there is a 66% chance that there will be no degenerative feedback, in other words, very roughly speaking there is a 66% chance nothing bad is going to happen. There is no intent or purpose behind it. Just complex interaction of components and some measure of chance events.

Since the medical team was providing what the body of the dog needed, it survived the night, regained consciousness and lived happily ever after. Everything went as it should since there were no degenerative random chance events.

But regardless of the facts, in the minds of the medical team (and I'm sure most of the audience), when the dog was unconscious it had [ANGEL CHORUS] "THE WILL TO LIVE", and even though nothing bad happened during the recovery (of which there was a roughly 66% chance), it was a "miracle".

Unverifiable "Knowledge" is Demonstrably Trivial.

On April 14, 1994, two American Air force pilots in F15 fighter planes misidentified two American Army helicopters operating in Iraq and shot them down killing all 26 people aboard. Because the lead pilot was not able to evaluate his personal belief using external evidence, 26 people are dead.

In an interview after the incident, the lead pilot, the pilot that fired on the helicopters, reported that he had no doubt they were Iraqi helicopters when he shot them down. The wingman, who was supposed to confirm, took the lead pilots word for it and the AWACs officers in charge of command and control believed the lead pilot even though they had information that the helicopters were scheduled to be there.  If they would have taken the time to look at all the evidence, it would have been obvious that they were not Iraqi helicopters. His personal belief needed external verification.

After the fact, The secretary of Defense identified four causes of the incident
- Pilots mis-identified the Black Hawks
- The AWACS crew failed to intervene
- The helicopters were not well integrated into the task force
- The "Identification Friend or Foe" System failed. However it worked properly, it was just not configured properly.
Retired Lt. Col. Scott Snook wrote about his investigation of the incident in a book called "Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Black Hawks over Northern Iraq".
Wikipedia has an entry on it as well. 1994 Black Hawk Shootdown Incident
I have included a Dr. Snooks elaboration on the causes at the end of the article.

Though this case is usually studied as an example of how decision making in an organization fails, I want to focus on an aspect referred to in this statement by the AWACS pilot, since the helicopters were shot down by the man who held the belief.
"AWACS crew members added in their testimonies that once Wickson (the lead pilot) and May (the wingman) visually identified the helicopters as hostile, all responsibility for the shootdown passed to the F-15 pilots."
Peterson, "Court-Martial Begins in 'Friendly Fire' Deaths in Iraq", Piper, Chain of Events, p. 214–215.

Though the AWACs officers had prior information about the helicopters, the AWACS pilots took the word of the lead pilot when he said he saw Iraqi helicopters.  In fact the AWACS pilots were impressed by the lead pilots ability to not only identify that the helicopters were enemy but that he could identify what kind they were.  The AWACS officers placed a higher value on the lead pilots belief than the data that they had on file.  Additionally, the wingman in the other fighter jet did not confirm that the helicopters were enemy, but only confirmed that there were two helicopters.  The wingman believed that if the lead pilot believed they were enemy helicopters, then they must be.

The pilots expected that if they saw helicopters when they were doing their initial patrol, then they could only be  Iraqi helicopters.  When they saw the helicopters, they perceived and inferred what they expected. They believed what they thought they saw.  They were certain that they had knowledge of two Iraqi helicopters and were justified in shooting them down.

We are fundamentally bounded in our rationality. We are bounded by the physical architecture of our brain, our experiences, what we already know and believe, our feelings, our self-interest.  We don't examine every possible option, or every scrap of data before we make a decision. We adopt heuristics, mental shortcuts. Usually, when the stakes are low and mistakes happen, whatever harm is done is tolerable.  But only when the stakes are high is it obvious that procedures need to be in place to correct for cognitive bias and human error.

Some of the Biases that I can see that were obviously involved in this incident are
- Overconfidence bias: Human beings are systematically overconfident in our judgments.
- Confirmation Bias: Human beings tend to gather and rely on information that confirms thier existing views and tend to avoid or downplay information that disconfirms what we think is the case.
- Accepting the word of someone based on acquaintance: the wingman worked closely with the lead pilot and had a lot of respect for his skills.
- Deference to Authority: the wingman and the AWACs officer did not question the mis-identification by the lead pilot, though the AWACs officers had information about the identity of the helicopters prior to the shootdown.
Cognitive bias skews our thinking and makes it hard to come to correct conclusions, make good decisions, and formulate "Justified Beliefs".  That is why it is important to use methods to counteract cognitive bias.  One of the first to be formulated was "the scientific method".  If the scientific method is used as it is intended, it will counteract many of the effects of cognitive bias.  If a persons belief system makes it difficult to trust the scientific method, then at least it should be agreed on that things in general need some definition and boundaries, and those definitions and boundaries should be kept in mind when deliberating.  Human error should always be considered likely in anything a human does.

List of Cognitive Biases from Wikipedia.
[Wikipedia should not be considered authoritative, but a good place to start]

In an interview after the fact: the fighter pilot reported that he had no doubt they were Iraqi helicopters when he shot them down. The black hawks did not even cross his mind when he made the decision.The lead pilot "knew" that they were Iraqi helicopters.

What is Knowledge?
Knowledge can be of how to do something, knowing a person, or a place, or propositions.  This discussion will be limited to "Someone knows that a Proposition is true or is a fact".  Briefly stated, "S knows that P" or "The lead pilot knew that they were Iraqi helicopters" or "I know that God exists because of the inner witness of the spirit".

Epistemologists have wrestled with the idea of "rightly justified belief" as a definition of knowledge, but they always come to the same point of disagreeing on "what makes some knowledge or belief preferred over another?".   Can a consensus be reached on a standard for determining what makes some knowledge or belief more preferred or "better" than another?  I think an external standard has already has been found and has been put into practice in fields such as Public Safety and Public Health, civil engineering and such, for many years.  I think the strongest work in Epistemology is being done outside the domain of philosophy and is not being done by philosophers.

Justified Beliefs
The fighter pilots belief about the Iraqi Helicopters was not "rightly justified".  It was a weakly justified belief on little evidence that was of a type that was likely to be in error.  While its true he had to make a time critical decision, and while a military hearing found him not culpable for anything other than making a mistake, some points in the time-line of the event were identified that could have prevented the shootdown had some action been taken to account for the likelihood of human error.  The team could have considered the external data they had.  Someone should have asked the lead pilot "What makes you so sure those aren't the Army Helicopters that we expect to work with today?"

Introduction to some key concepts in Epistemology
Key terms in epistemology are Belief, Truth, Justification, Evidence, Reliability, Internalism, Externalism, Foundationalism, and Coherentism, but unfortunately, some of the key terms in use are largely undefined. In reading through the Epistemological literature, it is obvious that in some cases the terms and words are minced until they are no longer useful. It results in some philosophers positing obviously improbable and unknowable "thought experiments" as analogies to use in deliberation while presuming that the analogy "fits".  The "Brain-in-a-vat" thought experiment is a famous one, and Berkeleys "we all exist in the mind of God" is another. In reality, a thought experiment that breaks down the boundaries so much so as to permit "fantasy" is not very useful.  We have to find a reliable way to exclude "fantasy" and more importantly "Human Error".

In order to make progress in defining what is knowledge and what is not, some standards need to be agreed on. If language is insufficient to capture a definition of knowledge, yet everyone seems to "know" things and use that knowledge to interact in the world, then "What knowledge is" is not as important as "what action are you taking on what you think you know"?  More importantly "Will it cause any harm?" Does the possible harmful outcome outweigh the risk?  What justifies a person in taking some action based on what they think they know?

Having The Humility To Accept The Possibility Of Error In Perception
Lets look at the shootdown incident through an Epistemological lens and try to come up with why one variety of knowledge is more preferred than another.

1. The pilot thinks that if he see's helicopters where he doesn't expect them, they will be enemy.

2.  He see's helicopters and he didn't expect them.

3. He is an expert, he gives his opinion to his team.

4.  His team defers to his expertise rather than checking the data

5.  He shoots down the helicopters and kills twenty six people

6. If he had externally verified his beliefs with the external data that was held by the AWACS plane, he would not have shot down the helicopters.


But we all already knew that didn't we? This principle is already presumed in society.  Its just that some of us have to deny it to make a system of beliefs work.

Therefore, generally, unverifiable internal knowledge is trivial compared to externally verifiable knowledge. This principle is accepted as a sound principle and expected to be used to make judgments.  To not use this principle can be considered negligent.

Using an external standard of minimizing harm, I have shown that the relative value of Internal Knowledge is less than the value of External knowledge.

Equivocation Of The Word "Justification"
Paul's use of Justification by Faith means "justified to join the christian community of believers" by faith in Christ not by being Jewish, joining the Jewish community or following Jewish laws. Its not a knowledge claim at all, its membership criteria. So "Justification" is membership criteria for whatever it is that is being assessed for inclusion in a category. 

It would fit the task of assessing whether a belief should be considered knowledge. Justification for inclusion in the Jewish community is quite another thing than Justification by faith of knowledge of God.  When someone says that they are justified in a belief in god by faith, then they are making a circular statement.  Faith is a belief in god, and belief in God is Faith.  Or do I have a misconception?

Belief does not seem to be the preferred way to acquire knowledge because it doesn't counteract the likelihood of Human Error.


Here is a brief summary of the elaboration on the findings of the Secretary of Defense from Snooks Book with my notes in brackets and curly braces.

- The helicopters were army, the fighter planes were Air Force. They did not effectively share information with each other.

- The fighters pre-flight papers did not indicate the helicopters were going to be there

- Before anyone can come into the zone, fighter pilots fly around the zone ensure there are no enemy  and make the call or decision that it is clear.  The US Helicopters were in the zone before the pilots had finished their initial flight. The pilots did not expect to see Helicopters in the area until they had reported that it was clear of enemy.
- An American AWACs plane was in the area whose task it was to ensure monitoring and control of the area. It knew about both fighter planes and helicopters were in close vicinity to one another.
[Part of the verification process]
- The Helicopters could not respond to the IFF signal in the affirmative because they were not using the same code as the fighters.

- The pre-flight papers did not indicate the helicopters would be there

- Standard operating procedure dictates the Jets should be first in the zone to ensure it's safe
- The US Helicopters were outfitted with extra fuel tanks that caused them to resemble Iraqi helicopters.

- The pilots were not familiar with the new equipment configuration.

[Human Error]
- The fighter pilot and wingman did not verify or confirm each others conclusions when they conducted the visual assessment though they INFERRED each others confirmation due to ambiguous language usage.

[Cognitive Biases]
- Interview after the fact: the fighter pilot reported that he had no doubt they were Iraqi helicopters when he shot them down. The black hawks did not even cross his mind when he made the decision.
{He did not have access to information he needed that was stored in his brain.  For some reason, his cognitive processes did not access what he had in memory and bring it to consciousness. This is a common cognitive limitation that occurs to people on a daily basis, and will probably occur to the reader today or this week.  }

- Interview after the fact: The wingman said that when the fighter pilot said he identified them as Iraqi helicopters, he believed him.
{In social psychology, Research in persuasion has created four major categories  of persuasion variables.  In this instance the wingmans decision making was biased by the variables in the "Communicator" category.  They all liked, trusted and viewed the pilot as an authority.  Research in persuasion  has demonstrated that people are more easily influenced by people they like, trust, consider and authority or are attactive}
- Persuasion
- Weapons of Persuasion

- Interview after the fact: After the fact, The AWACs officers trusted the Fighter pilots opinion over the data, so they did not challenge them. {Same as above}

What Is The Difference Between A Perception And Knowledge?

Or, "What is the difference between private personal experience and knowledge?". I know this may sound like a stupid question to some, but it seems that it is pivotal in the "Disregarding Established Knowledge..." discussion. In my view, considering inaccessible personal experience to be of the same value as established knowledge is untenable.

Disregarding Established Knowledge Is Bad, UnKay?

Its simple,
If your beliefs are not consitent with established human knowledge, then they probably are not justified. In that case, other people are not justified in believing what you say about them, and furthermore you have no reason to expect anyone to believe you.

Direct Evidence Of Moral Behavior From Evolution

My working hypothesis is that Game Theory and simple rules derived from self-interest are sufficient to generate self-organized behavior that is labeled as "Morality". Here's more evidence to back that up.

Evolution Guides Cooperative Turn-taking, Game Theory-based Computer Simulations Show,

"We published indirect evidence for this in 2004; we have now shown it directly and found a simple explanation for it. Our findings confirm that cooperation does not always require benevolence or deliberate planning. This form of cooperation, at least, is guided by an ‘invisible hand’, as happens so often in Darwin’s theory of natural selection.”

Social Impact Of Poor Biblical IDQ

[20090617. Added References] This article explores the Social Impact of Poor Biblical Information and Data Quality focusing on two of the sixteen IDQ dimensions, Understandability and Interpretability and provides a method for scoring them relative to other fields.

How does one measure the success of a Philosophy or Religion?
There are "positives" and "negatives" to almost everything, including philosophies. I will consider Religions philosophies because they are methods of deriving, among other things, how we should behave and what we should value. Philosophies can be measured by their success. Their success should be measured by how "trustworthy" and "reliable" they are. Measurements of their "reliability" and "trustworthiness" should be dependent upon how consistent or reproducible the results are. Some philosophies have become so reliable that they have become a science and some have splintered, become obsolete, and neglected. I agree with some who say that Epistemology is one the neglected philosophies. However, in my view, Epistemology is one of the most important endeavors humans can undertake, and I think it is thriving under other names, such as Law, Statistics, Measurement, Science, Artificial Intelligence, Informal Logic and Information and Data Quality Research.

How Recipes are similar to Religions and Philosophies.
Virtues, Morality and Truth Seeking are areas where Religion and Philosophy overlap. It can be summed up as "What is the right way to live?". We can rephrase this question to derive an analogy as "What is the right way to do something?". This is how Recipes, Religions and Philosophies are similar. Once someone has an Epiphany, or a "Good Idea" or a "Good way to make a sauce" they can write it down so it can be learned, reproduced and used as a basis for other things. Once it gets recorded once, it will be read (consumed), interpreted and acted upon to behave in a certain way. The measurement of how successful the Recipe, the Religion or the Philosophy should be is how easy it is reproduce the results or how well it consistently reflects real world states.

The success of Recipes, Religions and Philosophies depends on how easy they are to Understand and Interpret.
My Grandmothers cooking was widely regarded as being some of the best cooking in the area. Not only the family loved her cooking, the Church "Pot-Lucks" eagerly awaited what she was going to contribute next. In her last years, we tried to get her recipes written down, but we were largely unsuccessful. She didn't use recipes. She used her intuition. When she said to add something as a "pinch", "little bit", "dash" etc. it meant nothing to us. When she said "do this until it makes a noise like...", it meant nothing to us. Her terms were too ambiguous for any of us to take a recipe dictated by her and recreate what she cooked. One person, a neighbor, was successful in getting some recipes made from her and built a local catering business out of it. She sold it when she wanted to retire.

Christianity is split up into an heirarchy of denominations and one explanation for that could be that it has a low score in the IDQ dimensions of Understandability and Interpretability.
Recipes, Religions and Philosophies depend on concepts, described by language. It is possible for a word to describe a concept, but sometimes the word depends on the context. Sometimes when you are translating concepts between languages, some languages don't describe a concept in the same way as another language and some languages are missing words for concepts that exist in another language. When this happens, then error creeps into the understanding and interpretation of concepts. A word is used to generally approximate a concept and then it is read (consumed) by another mind through a network of cognitive biases and prior knowledge and stored away categorically in biological storage media, the brain. There is a lot of room for error and ambiguity which leads to poor understandability and interpretability. Interpretability depends on Understandability, so if the information is hard to understand, it will be hard to interpret.

What does Understandability and Interpretability Mean?
The definitions of "Understandability" and "Interpretability" from the Total Data Quality Managment literature are as follows.

Understandability (Ease of understanding):
The extent to which data is easily comprehended.

The extent to which data is in appropriate language, symbols, and units and the definitions are clear.

Interestingly, intepretability plays a very important role in Imaging. I got the following defininion of "interpret" from the field of Military Imagery from

Military Imagery

"(DOD, NATO) Suitability of imagery for interpretation with respect to answering adequately requirements on a given type of target in terms of quality and scale.
a. poor -- Imagery is unsuitable for interpretation to answer adequately requirements on a given type of target.
b. fair -- Imagery is suitable for interpretation to answer requirements on a given type of target but with only average detail.
c. good--Imagery is suitable for interpretation to answer requirements on a given type of target in considerable detail.
d. excellent--Imagery is suitable for interpretation to answer requirements on a given type of target in complete detail."

["interpret." Military and Associated Words. US Department of Defense, 2003. 04 Jun. 2009.]

And from Data Warehouse Literature
"the extent to which the data warehouse in modeled effectively in the inforamtion repository and how well maintained the Data Lineage (where the data come from)", "Fundamentals of data warehouses" By Matthias Jarke, Maurizio Lenzerini, Yannis Vassiliou, Panos Vassiliadis
- How easy the queries can be posed? How successful are they?

We all know what an Interpreter is.
When you don't speak the language you need an Interpreter, but "interpret" also has specific definitions in other fields such as Mathematics and Logic.

In the Total Data Quality Management literature the Information and Data Quality dimensions are organized into four categories. The catagories are
- Intrinsic IQ,
- Contextual IQ
- Representational IQ:
- Accessibility IQ:

Interpretability and Understandability fall under the "Representational" Category.
Most of the IDQ dimension have clear cut metrics and methods for deriving a score but Understandability and Interpretability are more subjective and require surveying people and analyzing their answers using weighted averages and whatever is common between them. For example if there are two witnesses to a crime.
Witness 1: It was a Black Car.
Witness 2: It was Blue Car.

Using a what is common between them, we can say it is a car. Using a weighted average, without further questioning, we can say that it was more likely a car than a truck so we can give more weight to the car.
1. Car
2. Truck

and we can say that the blue car from witness two was probably a darker shade of blue so we give more weight to darker colors.
1. Dark Blue
2. Light Blue

An example using Christianity is that they all believe in Jesus Christ.
How they define Jesus is another topic.

Quantifying The Understandability and Interpretability Score For Christianity
Since I don't have a survey prepared and don't have the time to randomly select 1000 Christians from random points around the world, It seems to me that one ROUGH way to quantify the IDQ dimensions of Understandability and Interpretability would be to assume that a Christian denomination represents an interpretation of Christianity and to take the total number of Christian denominations and use that as the denomenator, and use the number one to represent Christianity in the following manner.
Just to keep it simple, lets say that there are only two denominations of Christianity, Catholic and Protestant (but we really know there are more)

Christianity/Total Number of Denominations = some percent or score.

so plugging numbers into that, it would be

1/2 = .5 or 50%

So Protestants and Catholics each get a score of .5 out of 1.

Note, that if there were only one denomination of Christianity, the score would be 1. So one is the perfect score. Also note that this method can be used for other things besides Christianity to enable COMPARING the relative scores of Interpretability and Understanding in different fields. If we were a sociology class, we could do it with a newspaper article and survey students about it. Additionally and more importantly, this type of thing is done as part of the reading comprehension portion of some standardized tests.

To derive a score for each denomination of Catholicism and Protestants you could do the same thing, and the number would come out even smaller as you would then have a percentage of a percentage. For example, taking the score for Protestants, and plugging it back into the equation, and assuming a ridiculously small number of protestant denominations would give us a formula as follows

Protestant Score/Total Number of Protestant denominations = Protestant denomination score

so lets assume only two protestant denominations and plug that into the formula as follows

.5/2 = .25

So now each protestant denomination gets a score of .25 out of 1. The more denominations there are the lower the score becomes, justifiably.

As we can see, the scores for Understandability and Interpretability come out pretty low, and that is reflected by the fact that only ~33% of the world is christian and that ~33% is subdivided into smaller denominations.

Who has the right Understanding and Right Interpretation? Who Knows? How are any of them Justified in saying they know anything about "What is the Right Way To Live?".

They are NOT justified, yet they act as if they are, and make decisions that impact society as a whole.

The key problem with information that is not easily understood and interpreted is Ambiguity.
Ambiguity is derived from poor definitions of terms, leading to unreproduceable results. The information is not mapped properly to real world events and objects. The information does not accurately represent the real world.

There are plenty of examples in the real world that depend on non-ambiguous information to produce consistent results.
Mathematical models
United nations
and I'm sure you can think up a lot more on your own.

So now, without further delay, I present to you.....


[Wikipedia should not be considered authoritative but it is a good place to start.]

Inhumane Treatment Of Others
- Anti-abortion violence

- Torture as means to a Justifiable End
-- Torture in the Past
-- Church Attendance And Torture Approval, Valerie Tarico

- Witch hunts
-- Children Are Targets Of Nigerian Witch Hunt, Lee Randolph
-- Causes and Sociology of Witch Hunts, Wikipedia
-- The Terrible Christian Legacy of the Witch Hunts, John Loftus

- Exorcism
-- Exorcism, Wikipedia
-- A Call For The Scientific Investigation of Exorcism, Lee Randolph

- Mental Illness in the Middle Ages
--History Of Mental Disorders, Wikipedia

- Slavery
-- Christianity And Slavery, Wikipedia
-- Slavery And Religion, Wikipedia
- Address To The Colored People, Robert Ingersoll
- Slavery? NO WAY...NONE!

- Manifest Destiny, Exploration and Conquering
-- Manifest Destiny, Wikipedia
-- The Protestant Atrocities: Manifest Destiny and Slavery, John Loftus

- Heresy, Blaming the victim, Wrong Interpretation, "Not Real Christians" when obviously, if they don't get it, its not their fault. The information is of poor quality.
-- Christian Heresy, Wikipedia
-- List Of People Burned As Heretics, Wikipedia
-- Arianism, Wikipedia
--- Inquisition
--- Inquisition, Wikipedia
--- Words From the Inquisition: "Convert or Die!, John Loftus

- Crusades
-- Crusades, Wikipedia

- Behavior, Sin, Biological Bases of Behavior.
-- Link to Many Articles on this topic by Lee Randolph

- Human Origins and or Evolution
-- Twenty Reasons Why Genesis and Evolution Do Not Mix, Answers in Genesis
-- Answers in Creation, Christian site that generally refutes Answers In Genesis
-- Debunking Creationism

- Faith Healing
-- Court Rules Faith In God And Prayer As Child Abuse, Harry McCall

-- Is Self-Esteem Contrary to Christianity, Christian Article

- Martyr Syndrome
-- Overcome Martyr-Syndrome, WikiHow

- Co-Opts Humans Natural Flawed Reasoning Algorithms
-- List Of Cognitive Biases

In the Total Data Quality Management literature the IDQ dimensions are categorized as follows. Interpretability and Understandability fall under the "Representational" Category.
Intrinsic IQ:
Accuracy (Free-from-error), Objectivity, Believability, Reputation

Contextual IQ:
Relevancy, Value-added, Timeliness, Completeness, Amount of Information

Representational IQ:
Interpretability, Understandability, Concise Representation, Consistent Representation

Accessibility IQ:
Access, Security

"Quality Information and Knowledge", page 43. Huang, Lee, Wang. Prentis Hall PTR

Information and Data Quality (IDQ), Newest to oldest
* Journey to Data Quality, 2006, from Amazon
* Data Quality Assessment, 2002
* Information Quality Benchmarks: Product and Service Performance, 2002
* Quality Information and Knowledge, 1999, from Amazon
* AIMQ: A Methodology For Information Quality Assessment, 1997,
Direct Download, may not work
Download from link on the site
* Beyond Accuracy: What Data Quality Means To Consumers, 1996
* Anchoring Data Quality Dimensions in Ontological Foundations, 1996

IDQ Applied To The Bible, oldest to newest
1. How Accurate is the Bible?
2. Applying Data and Information Quality Principles To The Bible
3. Applying IDQ Principles of Research To The Bible
4. Overview of IDQ Deficiencies Which Are Evident In Scripture
5. Jesus As God From IDQ Design Deficincies
6. "Son of Man" As Jesus From IDQ Deficiencies
7. IDQ Flaw of Meaningless Representation In The Bible
8. Accuracy In Detecting The Spiritual Realm Using "Triangulation"
9. As You Celebrate The Horror of Easter
10. Where is Jesus's Diary? Information As A Product, Not A Byproduct
11. Social Impact Of Poor Biblical IDQ

Triangulation, oldest to newest
* "Triangulation", University of California, San Francisco, Global health Sciences
* "Triangulation", Wikipedia

IDQ Applied, oldest to newest
* National Transportation Safety Board information quality standards
* Thank Sully!
* Information Professionals Caught Not Checking Sources

Rebuttals to Criticism of its application to assessing the Bible, oldest to newest
* IDQ Flaws Relevant To The Holy Spirit
* Cooking The Books To Avoid IDQ Principles
* Accuracy In Detecting The Spiritual Realm Using "Triangulation"
* Christians Must Be Agnostic

What is the Scope and Definition of Evil?

Over in the "In a world without God...why does evil exist?" article, Brad Haggard said Lee, make that post into an article so we can discuss it without having to scroll down 80 comments", so I did. Enjoy.

What is evil?
What can be evil?
Is something produced as evil?
Does it become evil?
When does something become evil?
What qualifies as evil?
Can time and/or evironment change a thing to or from something other than evil?
Is needless or pointless suffering evil?

What is the Scope and Definition of Evil?

Is that scope and definition objective?

Does the scope and definition depend on a context?

Who decides?
If God, then how does that knowledge get to us if he's going to remain silent?

If a thing has scope and definition then it can probably be measured, quantified and or evaluated, assessed and compared.

Can we do that with evil?

is it evil to stick a needle in a baby?

Is it evil to kill someone?
To kill a spider?
Is it evil to kill for sport?
Why or why not?

Why does something qualify as evil?

Can evil be useful? If its useful and leads to greater good, is it really evil?
Can good come from an evil proposition?

Can any of the components of something good be evil?

Is an act evil if the intent is not evil?

If a bear kills a human, is it evil?
Or is it just Chance?

It seems to me, evil is in the eye of the beholder.

now I'm standing by for the shower of mischaracterizations, strawmen and equivocation.

Information Professionals Caught Not Checking Sources

The Fallacy Files, Wikipedia Watch has revealed ANOTHER case of Journalists using Wikipedia as an original source. This is a real life example of how people that should know better will reproduce poor quality information. I'm sure there was no malice involved, just people trying to get a message accross that they believed likely to be true, similar to the authors of scripture.

The Fallacy Files regularly exposes Wikipedia faults, but Wikipedia is not authoritative and doesn't claim to be. As The Fallacist points out, it should be used as a starting point. Wikipedias strength is also its weakness. It depends on people to originate and maintain the information. So while Wikipedia was found by the Journal Nature to be as accurate as the Enycyclopedia Britannica in the Field of Science, occasionally something turns up inaccurate.

One Step Closer To Making Life In The Lab

From (requires login), "RNA world easier to make": Ingenious chemistry shows how nucleotides may have formed in the primordial soup. Here's a link from "Wired" that is freely accessible "Life’s First Spark Re-Created in the Laboratory"

Where is Jesus's Diary? Information As A Product, Not A Byproduct

I'd like to propose an analogy to represent the relationship between God, Us, the Bible and the World. God would be in charge, and the source and producer of information, and the majority of us would be his potential customer, subscriber or consumer. We would have a value to him and lets assign the value the number 1. So if one of us 'subscribes' to Gods information, then he correspondingly gets to add that to his return on investment.

God Continues To Operate In The Red After 4000 Years.
God is and has been working at a loss since he supposedly made himself known to Abraham. He continues to lose his investment. This year alone potentially AT LEAST 4.5 billion people are going to hell, some of them will be unborn fetuses, some of them will be Muslim Children that don't care anything about differences between religions and politics, and unless their interpretation is correct, some of them will consider themselves Christians. Most of them simply don't find Biblical Information to be believable, in the same way they simply don't find other information to be believable.

World Population: 6,790,062,216 (July 2009 est.), CIA World Fact Book [1]
Christians make up only 1/3 of the world [2] (2,263,354,072 people), and even then they are divided about who the true Christians are, so True Christians make up less than 33% of the world. The cause of divisions between the Christians is the interpretation of the text. If the text were of high enough quality, no interpretation would be needed. It would accurately reflect real world states and the Quality of Knowledge would be high and therefore the outcomes from the use of Biblical Information would improve. There would be fewer denominations, and more Christians. Gods return on investment would improve.

Quality Information and Knowledge
Civilizations are advanced by taking advantage of Quality Information and Knowledge. The machine age and the industrial revolution translated, captured and reproduced with machines the accumulated knowledge of artisans which standardized and sped up production of Goods. The increased productivity and efficiency gave companies competitive advantages. Quality Knowledge was derived from Quality Information and that Quality Information was intrinsically useful.

The Computer revolution and the Information Age transformed how information is captured, stored, distributed and reproduced. It has torn down the traditional boundaries of accessible information and put information on demand at peoples fingertips. It has increased communication and fostered collaboration and created a Global Community of people that produce, provide, maintain and consume information. To ensure quality information, the principles of manufacturing are adapted to guide information production. Quality Information is information that has been treated with some care and control to ensure its accuracy and usefulness. To ensure Information Quality, Information must be treated like a product not a byproduct. Capturing real world states as accurately as possible and as timely as possible using DUE CARE and DILIGENCE is one way to do that. Companies that treat information as a product have a competitive advantage. Quality Knowledge is derived from Quality Information and that Quality Information is useful.

Since the formulation of the principle of Falsifiability and its endorsement by Karl Popper, Science acquired scope and definition. Since that time, co-opting the computer revolution and accessible information, science has also enjoyed a revolution of a sort. Using sound principles and Quality Information, science is a method for creating Quality Knowledge and that information has proven useful. The past fifty years have arguably been the most fruitful in creating useful Quality Information and Knowledge.

Two propositions follow from this. To increase successful outcomes,
1. Organizations must create a reservoir of Quality Information
2. Organizations must use that information to create a reservoir of Quality Knowledge.

Create Knowledge with Quality information
Supposedly God wants to produce Christians, and the bible was created to aid in producing Christians. But the Bible was not created using principles of Information Quality even up to the standards of common inventory, household finance, or tax keeping of the time. The fact that accurate records are important has been understood since merchants started trading. However, scripture didn't use those simple record keeping principles about accuracy. Obviously, The Bibles accuracy and clarity was not of primary importance and the limited and splintered success of Christianity is what you'd expect and typical of organizations that create their information similarly.

Make an Inventory of What You Know In Real Time
Capturing the information about God and Salvation was not given the same importance as God and Salvation or even equivalent importance that a merchant has for his inventory, or even a household shopping list. The representation of God and Salvation in the medium of language is as important as God and Salvation itself, because the medium is supposed to represent it. If the medium doesn't represent its object accurately, then there is no accurate representation of the object to be understood. Therefore the real world states of God and Salvation are not represented anywhere for human understanding. Similar to the inventory, if records don't accurately reflect the real world state of an inventory, then the state of the inventory is unknown. It is demonstrably an open question.

It should be self-evident that the INACCURATE production of information directly NEGATIVELY impacts the PURPOSE for the production of that information.
For example, if I go to a biology lecture and I don't record it or take notes, there is not much point in going. If I don't capture the information as it occurs, then I won't be able to accurately recreate it later on the exam. My score on the exam depends on how well I record that information and am able to review it before the exam. If I were to use someone else's notes, then I'm lucky if they've "taken good notes" and I'm lucky if I don't have to INTERPRET them or look to the book for interpretation due to missing information, inconsistent representation or ambiguity. If the information is treated as a product, and DUE CARE and DILIGENCE is used to ensure that it is captured accurately in real time, then it will be of higher quality than if it is treated as a byproduct and captured after the fact from memory. The Quality of that information directly impacts the quality of Knowledge that is derived from it, and this principle is put into practice and used every second of every day and is measured periodically by such things as tests in school.

Where is Jesus' Diary? Examples of Treating Information As A Product
At the time of Christ, the Roman Centurion, in charge of one hundred troops kept a daily log book and passed that information up to his commander and that information made its way up the chain of command to be used in logistics and decision making[3].

When I go to the Optometrist, I do a few tasks, and the optometrist records some values on a piece of paper. Those values represent the real world state of my lenses. Any interpretation by the manufacturer of that prescription will lead to increased risk of inaccurate production of the lenses.

Airline Safety
Similarly in the airline industry, inspecting and recording the states and results of maintenance is treated as a representation of the state of the aircraft itself. If the records show that aspects of the airplane are out of tolerance, the airplane is taken out of commission.

Medical Records
In the medical field, the record that represents the health of the patient must necessarily be as accurate as possible because it is used to make decisions on the welfare of the patient.

Copying a Song From A CD
When you want to make a copy of a song off of a CD you have many options about the sampling rate. The Sample rate is how often the computer records the state of the song in realtime. The more often the the computer samples the song, the higher the quality of the copy, and you can hear the difference. It is a perceptible demonstration of Information Quality principles.

In each of these cases information is treated as a product. The person who gathers the information acts in the role of the information provider. In the case where the information is inconsistent, ambiguous or missing, a reassessment is necessary before any sound decisions or conclusions can be made. The Quality of that Information directly impacts the Quality of Knowledge derived from that information which directly leads to measurable outcomes.

Information Quality is Quantifiable and Measurable.
High Quality Information has several characteristics that distinguish it from lower quality information. Biblical Information has few of these characteristics. For example, even Christians, the consumers of information in the bible, are divided about what is accurate, and what is metaphor and this is the underlying reason for the different denominations within Christianity.

Its not a "representation of the body of Christ", its the result of Information that has a low Interpretability score.

Therefore, God continues to operate in the red after 4000 years,
not because human beings reject him,
but because they simply don't get it.

Because the Information Providers simply and demonstrably didn't do a good job.

List of Information Quality Dimensions And Their Categories That Are Used To Derive Metrics

- Free-of-Error (a dimension of Accuracy)
- Objectivity
- Believability
- Reputation

- Interpretability
- Ease of understanding
- Concise representation
- Consistent representation

- Relevancy
- Value-added
- Timeliness
- Completeness
- Amount of information

- Access
- Security

Further Reading and References
1. CIA World Factbook

2.Religion by Adherents

3. The Laws Of The Roman People, Callie Williamson, page 209

Quality Information and Knowledge, Chapters 1, 2 and 3.
Kuan-Tsae, Yang W. Lee, Richard Y. Wang
Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 07458

MIT Total Data Quality Management Program

As You Celebrate The Horror of Easter

-=A Human Sacrifice=-

and flaunt your little dead men on a stick, check your facts, most things that Easter depends on don't cross-check. [edited 4/15/2009. added links]

- Biblical scripture is no more accurate than other writings that cover the same period of time. Not what you'd expect from the revealed word of God.

- The story of passover, Jesus, and a dying and rising god all are of a type of theme of folklore that pervaded the Near East during that period of time.

- Moses, existence hasn't been verified yet. He may never have existed, and may be a version of Sargon of Akkad. If he didn't exist, then all the things that depend on him in the Bible need to have their accuracy and reliability re-assessed.

- The exodus hasn't been verified yet, but it is clear that if it did happen, it didn't happen as it is described in the Bible.

- The author of Genesis or authors of Genesis cannot be identified, therefore neither can their credentials or if they were in a position to know. Therefore the information is of low quality.

- Adam obviously never existed, and if he did the scripture is so inaccurate so as to make the story more dubious than not. There was never a time when he and Eve would have been alone, and his first son went out and founded a town or a city. Towns and Cities started popping up after 10,000 BC.

- Jesus never clearly stated he was God. The phrase used to support the claim of Jesus as God are of the type that are used by Jews to express their belief that God lives in all of us and we influence the world through him by our actions that he approves of.

- The Jews never said he was the Messiah, he never qualified. The Messiah was supposed to be a politician and engineer. Jesus wasn't even close to being an engineer, if he was he could have showed them how to make the world a better place by speeding up the invention of quite a few things, likewise if he were God.

- The principle that all of us have done things so egregious to warrant the death penalty is itself egregious. Name one thing that you have done that you should be put to death for.

- The principle that someone else can suffer the death penalty for us to resolve the problem is similarly egregious. Should anyone be punished not to mention given the death penalty for things that you do? Is the death penalty Just?

- The principle that a Sacrifice can appease a God has been shown to be flawed because all the other Gods that required a sacrifice have been shown to be folklore. What makes Yahweh any different?

- The principle that a Human Sacrifice can appease a God has been shown to be flawed because all the other Gods that required a Human Sacrifice have been shown to be folklore. Are you okay with the Human Sacrifice to absolve you of Sin?

- The principle that a perfect God WANTS a sacrifice is highly doubtful. You can't say he's perfect if he's not in a perfect state, and if wants something then he's missing something.

- If we are flawed, God is responsible because he made us this way.

- It is possible to be compelled to unacceptable behavior by biological factors, and unacceptable behavior, is in the eye of the beholder, even if we all agree that killing children is bad. God ordered children to be ripped from their mothers wombs and William Lane Craig defended it in one of his forums if you can believe that.

- The authors of the Gospels cannot be identified, therefore neither can their credentials or if they were in a position to know. Therefore the information is of low quality.

- The Gospels themselves don't agree, making them unreliable by definition of criteria that determines if information is unreliable.

- The Gospels depend on one of the most unreliable forms of evidence, Eye Witness Testimony.

- Theology behind Easter depends on Paul. He set it up. But he wasn't in a position to know, because he wasn't there at the beginning. The story of his conversion is unreliable because there are two slightly different versions of it and if you go to bible and look up both of them, using multiple Bible versions and analyze them, you can have even more versions depending on which translation they used. I know because I've done it to prepare for a forthcoming article.

- Paul, like Jesus referenced a non-existent Adam, therefore the source of the information in both cases was not divine, but from scripture, which is of demonstrably low quality because the authors, the authors credentials and the authors position to know are all unverifiable.

- Its simple, since there was no Adam, and Jesus didn't qualify to be the Messiah, and Jesus was not God because he referenced Adam which demonstrates that he had no supernatural knowledge, then he was just one of the people that got caught for rabble rousing around the passover and put on the cross for six hours. The Koran says he didn't die, and the fact that there is no body, and the fact that many people survived crucifixion, especially for such a short period of time supports that theory

Now please get rid of all those disgusting dead men on a stick that are displayed everywhere and hanging around your necks.

P1. The Interconnectedness of The Ancients - Demonstrates the robust ancient civilizations at the time and that Canaan, Israel and Judah were central to them. Discusses trade routes, seafaring, the link between whales and the Leviathans of Mythology and how long it would take to get from one civilization to another by sea.

P2. Genesis 1:1-25 Is An Amalgam of Near Eastern Creation Myths. Demonstrates the prior existence of key elements of the story of the creation of the Universe that appears in Genesis.

P3.Genesis 1:26-1:27, Creation of Humans in Near Eastern Myths And The Paleolithic Era. Demonstrates that the physical evidence contradicts the story of the making of the first humans in Genesis.

P4.GENESIS 1:28-2:4a, Be Fruitful And Multiply, Founder Effect and Genetic Diversity. This Article shows that even if the physical evidence didn't refute the special creation of the first humans, Adam and Eve, in Genesis 1:27, the problem of Genetic Diversity known as the "Founder Effect" would eventually lead to crippling genetic mutations or extinction.

P5.Genesis 2:4b-20 Man Made From Earth Is Folklore, Conflated River Elements and the Myth of Adapa. This Article shows that the concept of man made from earth spans cultures and geographical boundaries, the rivers are confused between geographical areas and has many elements from pre-existing Near Eastern Myths such as "The Myth of Adapa.

P6. Genesis 2:21-25: Woman From Rib and Mother Goddesses of Near Eastern Myths. This Article shows that in the second creation story in genesis the concept of woman made from bone, earth and antler pre-existed the writing of Genesis, spanned cultures and geographical boundaries and that Eve shares aspects of Goddesses in Ancient Near Eastern Mythology.

Morality Is A Category Of Acts Of Mutual Self-Interest

In my view debates about Morality derive from the tendency of people to attribute and misinterpret intent and intelligence in self-organizing phenomena. To me it is obvious that Morality fits in a category of phenomena that derive from self-organization. Self-organization is commonly spoken about, even by scientists whether they mean to or not, as having some kind of intent or intelligence behind it.

I think we do this because we are used to talking and thinking about objects. So we use those common patterns of speech as pre-made patterns of phrases to express ourselves because it is convenient for the speaker and the listener. It's so embedded in the English language and culture, in the heuristics we use day to day, even skilled thinkers such as scientists speak as though processes have intent.

In a way Morality is like math.
It is a representation of concepts that have natural relationships that exist and must be discovered to appreciate. In fact, in the days of Pythagoras, math was considered mystical, even divine, being objective and having "forms", and "essence". Its legacy in philosophy can be traced to the concept of the "essence" of humans, or "the soul". But that's a topic for another article half-done in my Googledocs.

Math is the process of applying values to representations of objects and intangibles to manipulate the relationships between them to assess different outcomes. The rules of Math are not so much "invented" as discovered. The rules of math are observations recorded for re-use. In the same way that mathematical rules are recorded observations of the interactions of their properties, the interactions between self-interested agents that have common properties can be recorded and given the name "Morality". Does this mean that "moral" acts can be predicted or assessed mathematically? I think the fact that people are comfortable predicting what someone would do in a given circumstance demonstrates that it is done informally on a day to day basis, and should someone take the time to capture that process mathematically, then I think it could be done probabilistically, similar to Game Theory.

- Mirror neurons,
"A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another (especially conspecific) animal.[1] Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself acting." Mirror neurons have been shown to have a relationship to intentions, empathy and language.
Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2008. 04 Mar. 2009.
- An observed event.
One agent observes another agent experiencing some event.
- A Change of State of the feelings of the observer
- The Feeling causes an Emotion
such as "compassion" or "empathy". Additionally, emotion can be stimulated by input from our senses or by artificial stimulation using probes and electricity, or in some cases mirror neurons.
- Desire
The emotion causes a desire
- Thinking
The desire causes thinking processes.
- How do we think about this stuff?
We use mental images, we use language, we use the processes in our brains, and we can only use what we've stored up to the moment. How we think about things is completely dependent on our inventory of thoughts and experiences up to the point. Additionally there is evidence that shows across cultures that people have some parameters for behavior hardwired into the brain. The Trolly Problem demonstrates that people across cultures and categories seem to have a biological algorithm for dealing with situations that distinguishes intentional and unintentional harm during a rescue.

A Theory of Moral Grammar
Harvard University's Cognitive Evolution Laboratory was established to study moral decision making and has a "moral sense test" set up for visitors to test their "moral sense". Marc D. Hauser, a biologist at Harvard, is testing a theory that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their minds by evolution. In his book, “Moral Minds”, he shows that instant moral judgments seem to be generated by the "moral grammar" which are inaccessible to the conscious mind partly because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations.

- How do we capture it for mental storage and transmittal?
We have to have a way to think about all the facets of the event, and how to describe it to some other mind.
- The "Moral" Act
The desire and the self-talk may lead to an action and if it does then the event plus the action could be observed by a third mind and then once its all over, some value ranking goes on, judgments are made, conclusions are drawn, and now there is something to describe, to judge, and store in an inventory of experiences, to share with another mind, and either endorse, reject or ignore.
- Organizing "Moral" Acts
Once there are more than one of these events in an inventory, a way to think about them that reflects their similarities is needed, so we classify them, and we call it "Morality".

From what I can see, "morality" is a category of behaviors that result from the self-interest of many agents. It is a form of self-organization of these agents according to their mental capabilities into groups behaving according to implicit rules that will become explicit in humans and has an analogy in economics. Its like circumstances are being guided by an "Invisible Hand". "The Invisible hand" is "an economic principle, first postulated by Adam Smith, holding that the greatest benefit to a society is brought about by individuals acting freely in a competitive marketplace in the pursuit of their own self-interest."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 04 Mar. 2009.

The difference between Self-interest and Selfishness
I see a lot of people make the claim that Adam Smith was endorsing "selfishness". Selfish is to Self-interest as Revenge is to Justice. While similar in concept, one is harmful and the other is not. Selfish and Revenge are about gaining an advantage, Self-interest and Justice are about maintaining an equilibrium.

Morality is really just a category of behaviors.
If we say that a behavior that fits in the category of morality is an action by an agent that requires an investment or risk to the benefit of another, then these behaviors can be observed to cross species boundaries and get more sophisticated with the sophistication of the species. All types of animals ranging from Apes, Whales, Dolphins, Birds, Elephants, have been documented exhibiting behavior that could be categorized as a rudimentary form of morality.

The real question is where does the behavior come from?
Lets trace it from its origins in an example taken from one of my experiences. I saw a person walking their dog on a leash. A stray dog attacked the dog on the leash and the person was struggling with separating them and not getting bit. It made me uncomfortable. I felt like I wanted to do something about it. From that feeling rose an emotion that caused me to start a process of thinking. My self-talk was something like "that's not right". I could relate to the person, and I knew how I would feel. I could relate to the dog, it was in danger from an aggressor and at a disadvantage. Through my emotion, self-talk, and narration creation process, I derived a strategy of dealing with the world. So it seems like the feeling came from the stimulus of a situation that was "unjust" or "out of place". The person was doing the right thing, the dog wasn't harming anyone and the stray was loose and aggressive. I made the choice to stop my car, get out and kick the stray dog to make it leave. But it had everything to do with visual and audible stimulus that came in through my biological receptors (eyes and ears) to set some biological process in motion that gave me the feeling, that caused the emotion, that caused me to derive a strategy for engagement with the world that I decided to take action on.

If God, then which God and how much is he involved in "Moral" behavior in non-humans?
If someone wants to inject God into that scenario then one has a lot of explaining to do. Since morality emerges in other species, other cultures and religions, then if God is injected into the situation above then he has to be injected into all the other situations including those of animals and Atheists. Why is God needed to explain it? Where does God Fit? Which god are we talking about? How does one know which god? How can someone else verify that it is being attributed to the proper God? If God has more to do with some situations than others, where are the boundaries for understanding when and how much God is involved and when he's not? Where is the tipping point or turning point when we can say that God is responsible for such and such moral event? And if the claim is "the bible says" then why should anyone trust the bible when the time of origin, the place of origin, the authors, the credentials of the authors are unknown, and there are is a lot of wrong data, even inconsistent data in the bible? The information in the Bible is of demonstrably poor quality when assessed using sound principles for information quality.

Consider these examples of moral behaviors derived from self interest
- I don't hit you because I don't want to get hit back.
- I grow vegetables well, Jill farms animals well, Harry is a good hunter, John makes good pants, and we all trade amongst ourselves for the things we need creating and equilibrium. It is not in our self-interest to allow one of the other participants to feel they are at a disadvantage by becoming selfish.
- I love Jill and when she is sad it bothers me so i try to cheer her up. Cheering her up makes me feel better.
- I trade with harry and he feels bad so he's not hunting, so I try to make harry feel better so I can get more meat
- Momma ain't happy so nobody's happy, so we try to make her happy.

Self-Interest Related to Relations
- We have biological emotional attachments to our children, and families, these are documented in research. Our desires to benefit them are derived in part from our emotions. The initiation of an emotion is not controllable for the most part, but we can do things to reduce the likelihood of their occurrence, or calm down, or work ourselves up, or decide to behave under the influence of the desires brought on by emotion.

It Just Ain't Right!
I don't need the police to do anything with my son when he takes a twenty out of my wallet, and I don't need the church to teach my son that his behavior is unacceptable on many levels.

It Just Feels Like The Right Thing To Do
And what is the origin of the desire to help an "enemy"? An uncomfortable feeling. Helping the enemy helps to resolve that uncomfortable feeling. It just "feels like the right thing to do".

Examples of Aiding the Enemy
- Christmas Truce and Informal Armistice
- Americal Civil War had many reports of aiding the enemy
- The American Underground Railroad for rescuing slaves

Language: Naming, organizing, classifying and categorizing.
Once the agents observe a phenomena and identify what it is they want to talk about, they must give the phenomena names in order to communicate what is going on in their mind. For example they have to give "sharing" a name, give "empathy" a name then they have to define what it is that is going on. The have to capture the phenomena in language so it can be discussed, then they can take steps to refine it and make it better, to set some parameters and boundaries, make some rules. They have to create a mental object from an intangible in order to work with it in a discussion to manipulate it according to parameters to make predictions about it. It's like verbal math working out the details of a moral equation.

The Aggregate Sum Of The Values Of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
Over time, the Value of "Pride" has changed in the moral equation. Pride used to be a virtue during the time of the Illiad, then Pope Gregory listed it as a deadly sin, then it re-emerged relatively recently as a behavior with positive and negative characteristics. The process of classification of morality continues to this day. You can see it in the news stories about legislative debates, most notably of late, legislation about the rights of homosexuals. Its a kind of an "Evolution of Morality" similar to the idea of Evolution of Coorperation

Justification For Morality Without God
The Justification for how "morality" came about is its inherent utility. The explanation starts with the feeling that causes the emotion, that creates the desire to act, which causes the action, and the result is beneficial whether it is realized or not by the agent. If it is realized, by humans for example, then we can further organize and classify it as a moral act and manipulate it to create a rule that can be used as a "tool".

The study of "Morality" seems to me to similar to a few other fields of study that I've listed below. I endorse the reader to take some time to become familiar with them. I've used Wikipedia for the links below and throughout not because it is a highly reliable source, but because it is a good place to start.

- Evolution of Cooperation
- Spontaneous Order
- Emergence
- Self-organization
- Game Theory
- Economics
- Harvards Moral Sense Test
- Marc D. Hauser
- Link to all DC's articles on Morality

Anyone that wants to argue that god has anything to do with morality has a very narrow point of view and is ignoring a ton of disconfirming qualifiers.

Morality is just plain good Economics.
Morality is ultimately an act of self-interest.
It Just feels right, and logically creates better outcomes for all agents.

More Christian Heuristic Analysis

I'm a big fan of argument analysis, and in William Lobdells post he listed several common Christian heuristics for dealing with the problem of apostasy. In the comments section of his article you can see one of our christian guests using some other common heuristics which I've taken a moment to analyze. I welcome William, and I hope he'll consider joining DC as an author.

This is a list of some of the heuristics William handled in his post:
Criticism: You’re anti-religious or anti-Christian.
Criticism: You are trying to lead people away from God and/or Jesus Christ
Criticism: You’ve confused the sinfulness of man with a perfect God.
Criticism: You were never really a serious Christian, so you didn’t really lose your faith, you never had it.
Criticism: You’ve consigned yourself to an eternity in hell

In the comments section of that article one of our guests used quite a few common heuristics laying them out nicely for an opportunity for analysis. In my view these heuristics are the result of various cognitive biases and unskilled thinking. A couple of Good books on that sort of thing are "How We Know What Isn't So" by Thomas Gilovich and "How To Think About Weird Things" by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn

"no you have not lost your faith – just exchanged it. "
This depends on belief being a voluntary action. Try believing that the sun won't come up tomorrow, or the sun will not set around the time its forecast. I can't do it, and I don't think anyone else can either. One can commit to an idea, but that is completely different than having a belief or an emotional investment in it. I can say "Sir" or "Ma'am" completely independent of whether I think its deserved or not.

One practical test of whether belief is inherently "rational" is to look through trivia game cards and choose the right answer from four or five options. Sometimes there will be one that the observer thinks right away could be the answer, then see another that the observer "feels" more likely to be the right answer. Then the observer is wrong and it was the one the observer thought before but didn't feel right. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. Belief, for the most part, is not consciously controlled, if at all.

"Without proof absolute either way to believe there is no God is as much of a leap of faith (more in my opinion) as to believe there is a God."
A lack of proof of something SHOULD cause a belief that a real world state is not being accurately described by the data. The commenter seems to say that the belief that the datum is unlikely given the lack of evidence is EQUIVALENT to believing it without evidence. The quality of the evidence is relevant only to the observer. The evidence may foster a belief in some people but not in others.

It is appropriate to doubt a datum that lacks support, it is NOT appropriate to commit to a datum that lacks support. The commenter faults the apostate for appropriately doubting the datum on the grounds that the evidence does not nurture, support, cause, sustain or warrant his belief. Therefore the commenter faults the apostate for not ARTIFICIALLY sustaining his emotional investment.

"I really think you are taking cheap (and intellectually weak) shots at the religion that has not met your expectations – by the way, did you meet Christ’s expectations of you?"
This depends on the apostates expectations being inappropriate. Were the apostates expectations inappropriate? If the apostates expectations were based on sound principles in support of the apostates value system then how can it be inappropriate? What expectations does the apostate have that is inappropriate? I think its safe to say that apostates are apostates because the evidence doesn't nurture, support, cause, sustain or warrant their belief. If the only definitive proof is some inner knowing about God, then if God is of One Mind, this inner knowing should be consistent across people and multiple denominations of Christianity are evidence that its not.

"But why should we expect more of Christians and their institutions than of secular organizations?"
"Secular organizations do it too!"
Is it inappropriate to fault something because other things exhibit the same behavior. But it can be appropriate to fault things even though the behavior is exhibited by the speaker. Should I NOT reprimand my child for vulgar language even though I do it too? My child has every right to reprimand me, and to further reprimand me for not being consistent. In this case, how Secular organizations behave has no bearing on how Christian organizations should behave.

"it is rational to expect Christianity to attract more than its fair share – where else would they go in an unforgiving world?"
This presumes Christians are in a constant state of "recovery" from their sin. The guest concludes that there are more "sinners" in church exactly because "sinners" see church as place they can go to help overcome their "sin". Therefore it should be expected that one would find "sinners" in church. After all, people that go into an Ice Cream shop have a desire for and are lacking ice cream, so we would expect to find people lacking ice cream in the ice cream shop.

The missing qualifier in that reasoning scheme which disconfirms it and which is the qualifier that breaks the circle is the effectiveness of the ice cream shop in providing Ice Cream. People do get their ice cream because the ice cream shop is effective at selling it to them. So if customers of ice cream never left the store, we should see more of the customers that have had ice cream, and can get it anytime they want and less of those that want it, do not have it and have not had it.

I'll concede that we are all in constant state of recovery from undesirable human behavior. That is what education and learning how to associate in a society is all about. But this leads to the question of HOW EFFECTIVE CHRISTIANITY IS at dealing with undesirable Human Behavior (Sin) compared to other methods. When you assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Christianity on dealing with undesirable human behavior, its evident that it has no advantage.

"[the apostate says] 'I indeed was a serious Christian' Well you certainly went through some of the motions!"
This asserts that though the apostates behavior was consistent with a true believer, his apostasy proves that he never really believed at all. This missing qualifier which disconfirms the statement and breaks the circle is the intent behind the actions. What benefit would the NON-BELIEVER have in ACTING LIKE A BELIEVER? Obviously to act like a Christian is a result of believing oneself to be a Christian or believing their is some benefit to pretending to be a Christian. To say that someone pretended to be a Christian for over a decade and then decided to renounce it and advertise it requires some forethought and premeditation to what benefit? To put oneself into an undesirable minority? Not bloody likely.

"have fallen into what seems to be a common atheist trap on giving up religion – finding in the literalistic interpretation of the bible anything that can be criticised."
The guests seems to be saying that though the Bible is the revealed word of God, it shouldn't be taken at face value. Its only accurate so far, but they won't define any parameters. Bring some parameters for how to measure what is an accurate representation of a real world state and what is not to the table and there might be a case for a non-literal interpretation. As it stands, it is not clear that the author of the scripture did not intend for it to be taken literally except where there is an obvious use of metaphor such as in the case of parables.

"Given the social context of His time there were many things Jesus did not directly seek out against – capital punishment etc."
This seems to presume that it was somehow inappropriate for God on Earth to speak out against slavery, or not killing witches. If Jesus was God on Earth, then in order to Qualify as God he must have been the ultimate authority, so how would it have been inappropriate? Is it NOT a sound principle that the most qualified should lead, or that the authority should exercise that authority, or that beings should be prevented from intentionally or otherwise harming themselves or others? To make the guests claim tenable the criteria for appropriate behavior in an authority and the criteria for appropriate behavior by the observer of suffering must be modified.

"The problem you seem to have faced was that when you realized God was not in the beliefs you held you seem to have decided there is no God rather than that God might be different from what you believed or wanted Him to be."
This is the old "I Got Mine, Why Can't You Get Yours?" argument. If the apostate understood Christianity the way our guest understands it, the apostate would still be a believer. Meaning that if the Apostate would ignore disconfirming qualifiers in the standard Christian reasoning schemes, then they would still be a believer. I Agree.

Link to all my articles