Religion

Penn Jillette: "What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist—I don't know."

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Penn Jillette, the taller half of the award-winning magic duo Penn & Teller has a new book out called God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales. At CNN.com, he explains why the simple statement "I don't know" is at the heart of both his atheism and his libertarianism:

What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist—I don't know. If I don't know, I don't believe. I don't know exactly how we got here, and I don't think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we'll get more, but I'm not going to use faith to fill in the gaps. I'm not going to believe things that TV hosts state without proof. I'll wait for real evidence and then I'll believe.

And I don't think anyone really knows how to help everyone. I don't even know what's best for me. Take my uncertainty about what's best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do.

President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me, but no one is 2 to the 300 millionth power times smarter than me. No one is even 2 to the 300 millionth times smarter than a squirrel. I sure don't know what to do about an AA+ rating and if we should live beyond our means and about compromise and sacrifice. I have no idea. I'm scared to death of being in debt. I was a street juggler and carny trash—I couldn't get my debt limit raised, I couldn't even get a debt limit—my only choice was to live within my means. That's all I understand from my experience, and that's not much.

Read the whole thing here. Read more about Penn and/or Teller here.

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  1. No one is even 2 to the 300 millionth times smarter than a squirrel.

    Boy! Ain’t that the truth!

    1. Joe, let me be clear: you’re not even 2 to the power of 1 times smarter than a squirrel.

      1. “Squirrel!”

      2. The power of Zero is more accurate.

    2. I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe.

      So libertarianism is just skepticism.
      This explains much.

      1. Empiricism beats gullibility and idealism most days.

        1. Empiricism beats gullibility, corruption and idealism most days.

          FIFY

          1. Now, now. Corruption does the corrupt a whole lota good.

      2. It is not equal but I think an appreciation of skepticism is something many libertarians share .

        1. No doubt about that.

        2. Of course. Skepticism requires little thought, and it’s far easier to destroy than to build. Hence the prevailing attitude here of mindless, adolescent nihilism.

          1. We’re hardwired to believe.

            So while skepticism requires little thought, belief requires none at all.

            We’re also hardwired to create distinct categories out of a continuum, which is why so often the proponents of building with style A, mistake constructing with style B to be destruction.

            1. Skepticism requires asking intelligent questions and having the ability to differentiate facts from BS.

          2. And up is down.
            Can we please get better trolls?

          3. Well now I most certainly KNOW that you don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s a reason skepticism and nihilism are two different philosophical concepts (they might share small border but that’s about it).

      3. “he explains why the simple statement “I don’t know” is at the heart of both his atheism and his libertarianism”

        If he does not know, he is agnostic. An atheist claims to know that God does not exist.

        1. Incorrect. An atheist lacks a belief in god(s). An agnostic regards the question of god(s)’ existence as unknowable or unanswerable.

          1. Sorry, but you are incorrect. Atheists do not simply aver simple lack of faith. They claim affirmative knowledge that God does not exist.

            1. As an athiest, I’m going to have to back Robert up on this. Atheism is being without a belief in a deity because there is no evidence of the existence of a deity. Therefore, because of a complete lack of evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that a deity does not exist. If, at sometime, incontrovertible evidence is presented for the existence of a deity I would reconsider my position. I don’t believe that a god doesn’t exist. I am convinced that a god doesn’t exist. Athiesm does not predetermine any sort of belief system.

              1. The word agnostic is commonly missused. I myself am a weak-athiest agnostic. Google the term and you should find plenty of material explaining the differences.

            2. Federal Dog, to paraphrase Dawkins; we are all atheists to some extent. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of gods that you an I will agree do not exist (e.g Zeus, Odin, Ra, Ishtar, etc). The only difference is that I don’t believe in one more god than you don’t believe in.

              1. I’m an atheist, and I’m with Ska. I’ll happily submit to a claim that there are some self-proclaimed atheists out there who claim to “know” that there is no deity, but in my experience, those people are awfully rare, and therefore aren’t really suitable cases on which to base any reasonable definition of “atheism.”

                1. I’ll happily submit to a claim that there are some self-proclaimed atheists out there who claim to “know” that there is no deity

                  Google weak vs strong atheism.

                  1. I’m pretty sure the two self proclaimed atheists in this little thread know the difference between strong and weak atheism. The weak position is a necessary condition for an atheistic framework whereas the strong position is not although still subsumed within the larger framework. And really both are about as relevant as strong and weak aunicornism in that disbelief or belief in nonexistence is trivial compared to those things in which the atheist believes such as humanism, stoicism, or epicureanism etc.

                    1. I’m pretty sure the two self proclaimed atheists in this little thread know the difference between strong and weak atheism

                      You certain of that? Most of this damn thread (including a whole bunch of crap below) is about the differences between strong and weak (as well as agnostic) and these words are already well defined and understood by anyone with 3 minutes of search engine access. This happened on the last thread I remember seeing over this topic as well. 75% of this fucking thread is pointless and would gone if the people arguing so fervently over it would just look it up.

                      This is what atheist means…

                      No, this is what it means…

                      What the fuck, people?

                      (also, there’s at least 3. Didn’t you see my first post?)

                  2. If your suggestion to Google strong vs. weak atheism was directed toward me, don’t worry… I’m fully aware of the difference. In fact, the existence of strong atheism is precisely what I was thinking about when I said I’d “happily submit” to such a claim.

                    But I also hold that “strong” atheists are firmly in the minority among atheists in general, and thus aren’t suitable as the “go-to” definition of unmodified “atheism”.

                    1. (And, for the record, I refuse to accept any blame for the length of the thread… it was well over 500 comments when I got here.)

                2. But there are definitely lots of people who “believe” there is no deity.

                  1. There are even more who “believe” in gravity. What’s your point?

      4. Not skepticism. Humility. And the recognition of the reality of Hayek’s knowledge problem. Only a narcissistic, power craving asshole could believe he or she possesses the intelligence required to usurp the decision making of 300+ million people.

  2. All I can say is that Mr. Jillette and I are fortunate that neither of us is equipped with a vagina, or I’d have multiple restraining orders against me by now.

    1. That’s what I keep telling him!

      1. Never stopped us.

        1. Q: What do Siegried and the tiger have in common?

          A: They both know what Roy tastes like!

    1. Nice.

    2. Bastiat riffs on this concept in his essay “The Law”. Basically he argues that politicians think there are two types of people. 1. The unwashed masses who are too stupid, depraved, or amoral to live lives of meaning or worth. 2. The political class who are smarter, and more righteous than the masses and feel it is their moral duty to create laws so the masses may finally lead lives with meaning and worth. Here’s a link to the pdf on Mises.org. It gets juicy about page 18. Enjoy!
      http://mises.org/resources/2731

  3. Take my uncertainty about what’s best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do.

    This poor confused misguided man should be put under the care of a team of government mental health professionals.

    1. See, this is why he’s fortunate – he has Barack Obama to do his thinking FOR him.

      We’re all so, so lucky.

      1. And we all know who does the thinking for him.

        1. “PRESENT!”

          1. Sit yo dumb, white ass DOWN, George, if you know what’s good for you…

    2. NO! He’s got a demon! *reaches for holy water super soaker*

    3. Actually, I think this makes him one of the most qualified people I know for the Office of the President. Of course, I use Douglas Adams’ formula whereby ” . . . no one who wants to be President of the universe should ever, under any circumstances, be allowed to be . . .”

  4. I turned an argument on a leftist using a similar slant. He said that Ayn Rand was full of shit because it is impossible for individuals to know what was best for them (note that I wasn’t defending Rand’s ideas per se, merely attacking statism). I retorted that if it is impossible for an individual to know what is best for him, how can a politician possibly know what is best for millions of individuals? He didn’t have an answer to that.

    1. Of course he didn’t. Statists don’t have answers for anything, because the true motivation for all their “ideas” is controlling others.

      1. Of course. Why worry about individual ideas about pursuing happiness when they shouldn’t be happy unless they do things your way, anyhow?

        1. Statists don’t give a shit about “happiness”. They care about you doing what they think you should do, with the covering of “it’s the best for you”, which really means “it’s the best for me and my view of the world”.

          1. Sure they care about “happiness”.

            Their happiness.

            They are happy when their advice is taken. That makes them important.
            If you don’t take their advice willingly, they’ll force you to take it.
            Either way they are satisfied because someone took their advice, and happy because they are important.

            1. This was my point. Their happiness is our happiness.

              1. Their happiness is our happiness. Our happiness is their happiness. We are one in our happiness. Let the eternal circle jerk commence!

                1. In one-man rule, it’s just one guy’s happiness. In communism, it’s the happiness of the party.

                  1. Statists don’t care if the people are happy. They just assume that they must be because they have been given all this wonderful advice (that they must obey). If they are not happy then there must be something wrong with them.
                    But whether or not they actually are happy? The statist doesn’t care. Orders were given. Power was exercised. Satisfaction was achieved.

                    1. You don’t have to assume ill will is behind it.

                      Many people just are uncomfortable with uncertainty and think that if someone has a plan then this will be better than what they assume will be chaos. They don’t understand or want to believe all of the pitfalls to such planning.

                2. Statism is a mental disorder.

                  There is nothing to be gained by playing nice with statists or pretending that there is no link between statism and evil.

                  Hence, it is absolutely true that people who oppose coercion are just better, nicer, more self actualized than people who initiate, benefit from and otherwise champion coercion.

                  Ditto for reliability and credibility. A statist is far more apt to lie, cheat, steal, confiscate the property of others, committ mass murder or levy your bank account or break into another’s home and shoot the family dog or 7 year old granddaughter.

                  By definition, a person who is an anarcho-free enterprise-individualist is just more honest and trustworthy.

                    1. How’s that smartphone data plan working out for you?

            2. Statists never seem very happy to me.

              1. It’s because no one ever listens!

                1. Something something two black eyes something.

              2. I’m fucking brilliant when it comes to agreeing with H&R commenters in my mind on the internet. When it comes to talking to a pack of statists in the real about the urgent need to invest in infrastructure or allowing people to suffer and die under a non-socialized medical system I get my ass handed to me pretty much all the time.

                1. Really? I reply, “I’d love to give more help than I do, but government has raised my taxes so high that I can’t give more and meet obligations to my family too. Maybe you have extra to give?”

                  1. I’d love to give more help than I do, but government has raised my taxes so high that I can’t give more and meet obligations to my family too. Maybe you have extra to give?”
                    Example statist response:
                    Are you rich? Unless you’re rich we’re not asking you to give more. Why do you defend the rich? They are the ones holding you down. You are licking the boot on your neck. Boot licker! Boot licker!

                2. I get my ass handed to me pretty much all the time.

                  That is probably because you make arguments with ideas. They don’t deal with ideas. They only deal with people. If you have ideas that they don’t like, they will ascribe motivations to you. If you don’t believe removing money from the economy, siphoning off some off the top, and putting that reduced amount back into the economy will stimulate it, then you are motivated by hatred or some such thing.
                  Then you must defend yourself, not your ideas. Before long the ideas are forgotten and there is only personal attacks. All directed at you.
                  Mob rule.

                3. PS, even for those who believe that voluntary charity would not suffice for medical care to the indigent, PPACA is not the way to go. It is bound to either become a corporatist boondoggle, or to destroy what remains of market-based health care. And with that will go nearly all of the innovation in health care.

                  1. to destroy what remains of market-based health care.
                    Isn’t that the point?

                    And with that will go nearly all of the innovation in health care.
                    But Biden told me that all innovation comes from government!

                    1. 1.) DARPANET

                      2.) ???

                      3.) Porn on demand!

      2. Ooops. Meant to reply this here…

        Bastiat riffs on this concept in his essay “The Law”. Basically he argues that politicians think there are two types of people. 1. The unwashed masses who are too stupid, depraved, or amoral to live lives of meaning or worth. 2. The political class who are smarter, and more righteous than the masses and feel it is their moral duty to create laws so the masses may finally lead lives with meaning and worth. Here’s a link to the pdf on Mises.org. It gets juicy about page 18. Enjoy!
        http://mises.org/resources/2731

    2. I only wish logic could actually make their heads explode. It would make for a much more formidable weapon. As it is, they just stab you with a spork and continue on with their idiocy.

    3. Top men OMG! TOP MEN.

    4. how can a politician possibly know what is best for millions of individuals?

      The politician can’t, but experts can.
      After all, they’re experts. So by definition they know everything.
      And who has access to more experts than a politician?

      1. And who has access to more experts than a politician?

        Nancy Grace?

    5. Not a new argument – Heinlein made it years ago.

      “Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How’s that again? I missed something.

      Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let’s play that over again, too. Who decides?”
      –Notebooks of Lazarus Long

      1. And a half a million and one wolves and 499,999 sheep are wiser……..

  5. the socons believe the same

    1. Re: Double Asshole,

      the socons believe the same

      The same what?

      1. Damn your quick fingers, OM! And – JINX!

    2. The same as what?

      For the “Derp!”

      1. it was supposed to attach to omg’s comment that “a leftist” believed that folks didnt know what was best for themselves. socons believe the same

        1. And there are how many cocon commenters here at Hit & Run?

          1. You’ve been here long enough that you should be able to identify this reflexive tendency among the resident leftist trolls. It’s akin to a frigid wife in a loveless marriage reacting to revelations of her husband’s visit to a prostitute by screaming, “PROVE TO ME THAT YOU DON’T LOVE HER!!!”

            Also, please don’t feed the trolls.

          2. but the same as “leftists”

  6. A healthy skepticism about the knowledge and abilities of human beings. Good summation.

  7. how can a politician possibly know what is best for millions of individuals

    That’s what makes it fun. It’s like a gargantuan ant farm, and you can do lots of cool experiments.

    1. And if you kill all your ants, you just go to the store and buy new ones. Brilliant!

      1. Even better – FREE ANTS! A virtually LIMITLESS supply! Yay!

        1. Even better – the ants PAY you to run the experiments

          1. Stimulus!

            1. Don’t let him near a magnifying glass!

  8. “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

    1. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity?

      1. That, too. I was ripping off Bertrand Russell. He’s got another one relevant to this discussion: “A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

        Or, as Otto once said to the Lady Haden-Guest: “Apes don’t read philosophy.”

        1. Bertrand Russell may have written some dumb things in favor of socialism from time to time but his overall output on politics was definitely in the direction of a state that mostly left us alone.

          My favorite Russell story is how when all his intellectual colleagues were experimenting with homosexuality in the 20s, old Bert was going around fucking all their wives. 🙂

          1. As far as socialists go, he’s one of the better ones. At least some of the time.

          2. I heard Russell once gave a speech about atheism that was not well received. The crowd started forward, and was roughing him up. His friends went over to a couple policemen, whose sympathies clearly lay with the crowd.

            “He is a brilliant scholar” his friends said – the policemen were unmoved.

            “If he’s hurt, there will be worldwide condemnation!” – the policemen still didn’t care.

            One of Russell’s friends said in desperation “He is the brother of an Earl!” Upon hearing this, the police immediately went to his aid.

            1. I wonder if that would work here?

              1. I think “he’s the brother of the city commissioner!” would work better here.

                1. Right. The City Commissioner. You know, Earl.

          3. It is unfathomable to me that anyone would feel inclined to “experiment” with homosexuality. Sex is such a potent instinct I find unbelievable that anyone could deliberately undermine it. I think that heterosexuals generally find homosexuality instinctively repellent. That’s not a moral judgement. To each his own. That doesn’t make homosexuality anymore appealing to me.

            1. You’re right, it’s nature over nurture.

              I’ve always wondered, what goes through the mind of a wholly gay man when he sees a beautiful woman? Simple disinterest? Or something more resolute, like revulsion?

              Maybe Tony can chime in?

              1. We know the difference between a beautiful woman and an ugly one, and can even figure out what will be sexually appealing to straight men. We just aren’t “turned on” by those traits. What goes through your mind when you see a beautiful man? Probably about the same thing.

                1. Just trying to understand the mindset, fake Tony. Gay men, after all, are still men, so it’s reasonable to wonder if even the gayest of them retain some vestigial desire to procreate.

                  1. Straight men have a desire to reproduce that informs their instinct to ejaculate? I thought it was just mostly an accidental result.

                    My revulsion against children is probably stronger than my revulsion against vaginas, so make of that what you will.

                2. What goes through your mind when you see a beautiful man?

                  When I see one, I’ll let you know.

  9. Take my uncertainty about what’s best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do.

    Which is another way to describe what Hayek called the “Economic Knowledge Problem.”

  10. If Obama doesn’t know the wants and needs of 300 million individuals then why did we hire him to make all of our decisions for us?

    1. Because we are fucking morons.

      1. …who also voted for…boosch

        1. I was going to say we hired him because McCain was the alternative.

    2. I didn’t hire him.

  11. As with Gillette, when it comes to metaphysical issues, I am an agnostic because I don’t know. What differentiates me from believers is: I don’t care.

        1. Thx, I have to admit it’s not my neologism, though.

          1. -9 for plagiarism.

            +9 for honesty.

            still +10.

            1. EOM

              1. Because he was subtracting and adding from the original figure.

  12. Not to throw this into another direction, but would claiming “I don’t know” in regards to religion make him more of an agnostic than an atheist?

    I don’t agree with about half of what he says, but I respect him immensely for having the courage to say and defend it, while showing respect for those who disagree with him.

    1. If I don’t know, I don’t believe.

      If you don’t believe, you are an atheist.

      1. Umm, just because I don’t believe there is any proof of a fat man in a red suit in the sky doesn’t mean that I am certain that a fat man in a red suit in the sky doesn’t exist. Not-believing /= Belief of non-existance.

        1. Atheism is literally a lack in a belief of a deity. Proclaiming that there is no god and being sure of it is technically more narrow than atheism.

          1. I don’t think that’s the common understanding of the words, even if it’s the correct entomology.

            To the man on the street, lack of positive belief or disbelief makes you agnostic, positive belief makes you thiest, and positive disbelief makes you athiest.

            Of course, belief is a matter of degree. All Christians doubt the existence of God to some degree, as I’m sure all athiests doubt the non-existence of God to some degree. So if everybody was being completely honest with themselves about it, virtually everybody would say they’re agnostic. But if you lean strongly enough one way or another it makes sense to take the title, I suppose.

            1. Of course, a lot of what people claim they are has to do with signaling and group identification, as well.

            2. …even if it’s the correct entomology.

              So God is an insect, then. I’ve had my suspicions.

        2. I think that depends on what kind of atheist you are. If you once believed in God, but decided it is bullshit, then you have a strong belief in the non-existence of God. If the idea of gods always seemed absurd to you and you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, I still think atheist is a better term than an agnostic.
          I suppose I would be accurately described as an atheist, but I don’t generally go around proclaiming my atheism and it is not part of my identity or an important part of what I believe about the nature of the universe any more than belief or disbelief in the existence of cockatrices or unicorns is. I’m not agnostic about cockatrices, I just don’t think about them as anything other than a myth.

          1. Agnostics are atheists without the courage of conviction 😉

            1. atheists are agnostics without the humility of ignorance.

          2. “My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.” – George Santayana

    2. That whole Pascal’s wager thing.

      1. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

    3. Atheism = lack of belief in gods.

      Agnosticism = lack of knowledge of gods.

      Therefore, it is possible to be an agnostic atheist (or even an agnostic theist… one who believes in gods, but doesn’t *know* that gods exist).

      See also endless debates about strong vs weak atheism, and strong vs weak agnosticism.

      http://www.infidels.org/librar…..intro.html

    4. I thought “agnostic” meant “don’t know one way or the other”, and “atheist” meant “damn sure there isn’t a god.”

      1. “atheist” meant “damn sure there isn’t a god.”

        How about “atheist” means it’s obvious there isn’t a shred of evidence for this superstition any more than any other superstition.
        Shorter: I’m an atheist; I’m not superstitious.

      2. Yeah, pretty sure this is how it’s defined. Bertrand Russell was a major proponent of agnosticism as a philosophy, and he disliked atheism because the inherent assumption that one can know with certainty that there is no god relies as much faith as religion does. It is based on a claim to know how the universe came to be with certainty that no supernatural forces outside the realm of known science could have caused it.

        Personally, I consider myself an ignostic – that is, I can’t tell you whether I believe in God until you can define what “God” means. For instance I strongly doubt God is anthropomorphic and constantly intervening in our daily affairs and asserting “His will”, but God can also be defined as sum of natural law, or maybe a force that penetrates everything and keeps everything in order (a la “The Way” in Taoism). Until I can understand exactly what they are asking me if I believe in, how can I say whether I do or don’t?

        1. Once again:

          faith /= religion/god
          religion/god /= faith

          I have faith that the Earth will continue to spin in such a manner that the sun will appear to rise in the east tomorrow. That doesn’t mean I believe in a god or any particular religion.

          1. wow – you’re really gullible.

          2. I have my doubts.

            The commonly accepted definition of faith is belief despite lack of evidence. If your belief that the Earth will continue to spin is proportional to the evidence supporting that theory, it is not faith.

            While I can’t be sure what goes on in your head, and what you’ve been exposed to, I CAN be sure that most people I’ve encountered will use the term faith incorrectly in situations like this.

        2. It is based on a claim to know how the universe came to be with certainty that no supernatural forces outside the realm of known science could have caused it.

          As an atheist I don’t feel any need whatsoever to explain how the universe “came to be,” assuming it even had a beginning in any meaningful sense at all.

          Maybe this plane of existence had a cause, maybe it didn’t, but simply assuming that it must have had one smacks of an attempt to smuggle theistic concepts in under the radar.

          1. In your everyday observation, have you ever happened upon anything (an effect) without a cause?

            Even if something could instantaneously materialize, could that happen without causality?

            Your behavior to ignore causality because any discourse about causality amounts to smuggling in a creator (“theistic concepts” as you put it) amounts to intellectual childishness.

            1. In your everyday observation, have you ever happened upon anything (an effect) without a cause?

              Existence cannot be properly characterized as an “effect,” which is why you had to presume it as a fundamental axiomatic fact before you could even begin harping on causality.

              In your everyday observation have you ever happened upon an infinite regression of causes? If existence had to have some first cause, what was the first cause of that first cause? This is one of the absolute weakest arguments for theism, aptly satirized by Stephen Hawkings’ “it’s turtles all the way down.”

              This goes back to Jillette’s point. Saying “there had to be a cause, therefore God caused it” is just a less honest way of saying “there had to be a cause, but I don’t know what it was.”

              1. Existence cannot be properly characterized as an “effect”
                ~ Graphite

                Decreeing that doesn’t make it so.

                So an igneous rock, a thing of existence, isn’t the effect of a cause (volcanic action and the solidification of magma)?

                So the bluebird outside your window, a thing of existence, isn’t the effect of a cause (avian reproduction)?

                Stephen Hawking is a self-loathing cripple who, undeservedly has received accolades for pretend mathematics about things of which he knows nothing yet merely speculates. The world should be colored unimpressed by such a give-me-sympathy wheel chair case.

                Guys like Hawking are so angry about their crippled deformity that they seek any reason to believe that an unmerciful God couldn’t have allowed them to be born deformed misfits. Thus they worship a man-made god of random chance.

                Yet, if you hired someone to teach yourself reading comprehension skills Graphite, you would have discerned that no where in my previous post did argue what caused anything.

                Merely, I asked for answers to what you might have observed.

                Your appeal to a higher authority (Hawkings) amuses. It’s a rather lame rhetorical ploy.

                Your response doesn’t even rank a D-.

                1. “Your response doesn’t even rank a D-.”

                  Maybe.

                  Yur response doesn’t even rank that high.

                  1. And yours Kreel doesn’t even rank. Game. Set. Match. Douchebag.

                2. Wow, it doesn’t even take you more than two sentences for your responses to completely miss the point and go flying off the rails.

                  1. Just the handle ‘al ways right’ tells all you need to know. Closed, insecure, non-inquisitive mind.

                    1. And in real life you’re merely a Little T, but you get to play a big one on the reason board. HA HA HA

                    2. I haven’t been paying enough attention of late. Is Al here one of our standard name-swapping trolls, or is he a new one?

          2. Well atheism only works on the inherent assumption that there is an explanation for everything that exists with science, even if we lack the information or physical capacity necessary to precisely define it or explain it. Thus religion and atheism both indicate “I believe x to be true even though I am painting over all the things I can’t prove using faith to reach this conclusion.” Atheists use science and personal experience to claim there’s no God; the religious uses science and personal experience to claim there is a God, and faith is the mechanism that enables both to fill in any logical holes in their theory.

            Agnostics say that both sides make some good points (maybe leaning towards one or the other), but refuse to assume we can paint over the things we can’t prove or don’t know.

            1. of the “gee, Athiests are JUST LIKE believers” meme?

              I’ve noticed that only believers make that claim. Interesting.

              1. I’m an ignostic and not religious, as I just said. Care to debate the point that atheism requires faith that known unknowns and unknown unknowns can be explained by science? You can argue science is more reasoned than religion because of its comparative tangibility. However their certainty of no God is based in faith that all the religious experiences in history were simply delusions or self-delusions, and that everything they don’t know is explainable with science.

                1. Science is empirical, and awaits convincing evidence before accepting ‘facts’. Mysticism and religion assume supernatural causes without testable evidence.

                2. “… the religious uses science superstition, fairy tales, and personal experience to claim there is a God …”

                  1. Actually I think many religious people find what they believe is proof of God in nature all the time. Things that according to atheists would have emerged out of chaos are logically ordered as if by design. It’s frankly a miracle any of us are even alive considering the unlikelihood with the number of cosmic and terrestrial events, human events and the lucky coalescing of our two parents out of the billions that inhabit the earth.

              2. I’ve actually had that argument with what I would call an atheist but who was in total denial.

    5. Jilette: I’m an atheist. I don’t know about god, I don’t believe.
      Coogan & LIT: If you don’t know then you’re an agnostic not an atheist.

      See, this is why we can’t let people like poor Mr Jilette think for themselves. He doesn’t even know how to classify his own beliefs and needs someone else to do it right.

      1. While the distinctions escape me, I’m pretty sure neither an outspoken atheist or agnostic could be elected to office in America.

        1. Thomas Jefferson? Oh, you meant *today*. Right, carry on.

      2. Atheism is a lack of belief in a diety. Agnosticism is a belief that the existence or non-existence of a diety is unknowable. Antitheism is a belief that there is no diety.

  13. Sure. I don’t know what’s best for you, and I seriously doubt anybody knows what’s best for me but my wife.

    1. I am stealing this.

  14. This same skepticism needs to apply to scientist and other “experts” as well. I’m all about science but scientist are humaan beings. They make mistakes, they have biases and agendas. Life is much more interesting when you doubt everything.

    1. “Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

      Science is the very process of correcting for human bias.

      1. not in wingnutz land

      2. True science definetly can be but coming out with a major far-reaching hypothesis and than saying no one’s allowed to question it is not science. It’s religion.

        1. Tell that to Bailey, the “science” correspondent.

        2. since its a hypothesis (ur word), its not proven. jeesch

      3. You got that right!

  15. Humility is a good attitude to approach these things with, but he’s leaving out the things we do know, and he’s assuming that there is some scheme (namely, a libertarian one), that represents some sort of optimum of keeping flawed human decision-makers out of the process. But while there either is or is not a deity, there is no such thing as no policy. Even a libertarian, laissez-faire scheme is the result of decision-makers deciding what they think is best for everyone. And based on what we do know, that claim is hard to justify.

    1. Yes, lassaie faire is a policy decision. But it is the rational one to make if you are unable to directly solve problems without creating larger ones. First do no harm.

      1. Don’t feed the sockpuppet. And stay a few steps away from the cage, because he flings his droppings.

      2. That’s probably a good starting point, but there is a role for experimentation and evidence. For example, the entire reason the welfare state came into being was to correct for the inadequacies of more laissez-faire policy. We don’t know everything, but we’re not totally ignorant.

        Which is also a flaw in Penn’s approach to deities. We don’t simply “not know,” we can be reasonably certain that it’s extremely unlikely that there is an anthropomorphic deity.

        1. Sure Tony. And the evidence is in that welfare has done more harm than good.

          1. How so? You’re saying old people were better off (lived longer, healthier lives) before Medicare?

            1. Nope.
              OM, I’m trying, but this sort of happy horseshit makes it tough.

            2. Right, medical advances have nothing to do with that, you disingenous prick.

              1. Medical advances that vast numbers of old people would never be able to afford access to without Medicare?

                1. “Prices never come down for technology. They just stay the same forever.” -Tony

                  The elderly, who should have a lifetime of savings and investments behind them and whose housing is likely long paid off, could not afford things without the government, according to you. The latter may be true only because when they were working age the government took 12% of their money to give to elderly people instead of letting them invest it in their retirement. I’ve proven to you before, lest you forgot, that even a person making $25000 a year with no pay increases could easily save up $200,000 in time for retirement at a modest 3% earnings a year on that 12% with annual reinvestment of the profits. That’s not even counting regular investments that are currently coming out of our post-SS incomes. If they choose not to save money on their own (which indeed SS inherently discourages), there would be plenty of charities in a libertarian society to fill the need, since everyone would be keeping all of their own income.

              2. Actually, the majority of life expectancy increases are due to clean drinking water and stable, clean food supplies.

            3. To proclaim that old people were sicker and worse off before the advent of Medicare certainly could be a statement of fact, but it completely ignores the question of whether young people were more prosperous and better off before the advent of Medicare.

              1. Were they? Taking care of the elderly is a cost no matter who pays for it. If it’s not collectively, it’s individually, and thus your future success, as a young person, could depend entirely on whether mom and grandma get sick.

                We could, I suppose, just shoot people when the reach a certain age, but concern for the well-being of our elders is just one of those things human beings evolved to have.

                1. “Taking care of the elderly is a cost no matter who pays for it.”

                  Wrong. Both of my parents are dead and while I’ll admit that for a few years I had to take care of them, when all was said and done, I made a profit.

              2. Michael,

                Please, stop feeding the sockpuppet. He’s not here to argue, he’s here to fling his droppings out of his cage.

                1. OM and what exactly are you contributing besides vulgar childish insults? Are you tired of having your stupidity put on display? Not everyone here is as ill-equipped to engage in these debates as you.

                  1. What are you contributing besides abject disingenuity?

            4. Luckily, we have data and don’t have to speculate…

              http://perfecthealthdiet.com/w…..0-1990.jpg

              As you can see, the passage of Medicare in 1965 had virtually no effect on life expectancy.

                1. Whatever, just fucking google it.

                  1. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

                    1. the looming with the large…

        2. The problem with economics (and social sciences in general), is that the theories themselves have an outcome on the system, which makes accurate prediction impossible.

          INOW, if everybody in society has a certain idea about how society works, that idea itself will change the way society works, making empiricism useless.

          The best example of this is the Efficient Market Hypothesis. This is an idea that was developed empirically, however, it’s only true if nobody believes it’s true (prices only reflect fundamentals when people doubt they reflect fundamentals, which leads then to investigate the prices). The more people believe in it, the less true it becomes.

          Contrast that with physical sciences. Your idea about the interaction of elementary particles has no effect on how those particles interact. Thus, hypotheses are disprovable, and physics is a legitimate empirical science.

        3. “Which is also a flaw in Penn’s approach to deities. We don’t simply “not know,” we can be reasonably certain that it’s extremely unlikely that there is an anthropomorphic deity.”

          Not true. The problem is the unknown unknowns. Based on current understanding, you might be reasonable certain that a deity is extremely unlikely. But what if current understanding only ecompasses 0.000001% of all possible understanding?

          Athiests often mock the “God of the Gaps”. Problem is, nobody knows how big those gaps are, or what might be lurking in them.

          Plus, even small gaps in knowledge can have profound consequences in understanding. Look at the transition from Newtonian to Relativistic physics. Newton’s theories seemed at the time to describe 99% of observed phenomenon, meaning there was only a tiny “gap”. Yet lurking in that gap was the theoretical possibility of time travel, extra dimensions, and multiple universes, all ideas that 19th century physicists would have found as laughable as the idea of God.

          1. However large the gaps are, and however unknowable their scope is, it is still incorrect to invent something to place in them. Under this approach, literally anything is possible. We have to assume that only certain things are possible if we are interested in learning anything at all.

            1. Under this approach, literally anything is possible.

              Yep. That’s the consequence of understanding epistemology. It’s what led Socrates to say, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

              There’s somewhat more to it than that. I certainly think it’s possible to have a degree of knowledge based on given assumptions. But the assumptions can never be proven. And when you’re talking about an idea like God, the ultimate thing which underlies everything else, what assumptions can you reasonably make?

              The law of non-contradiction? OK. That’s about it.

              1. I don’t buy non-anthropomorphic descriptions of God that become too vague to even talk about, so I think it’s reasonably certain that there is not a human-agent-like being at the center of the universe. Now that certainty is as rigid as any other certainty with respect to any other unevidenced assertion, so there may still be room for epistemological hand-wringing. But a)that’s just not useful for any purpose and b) I think there are somewhat convincing arguments in epistemology for why humans can and do know definite things.

                1. I don’t buy non-anthropomorphic descriptions of God that become too vague to even talk about, so I think it’s reasonably certain that there is not a human-agent-like being at the center of the universe.

                  1. What if Jesus, Muhammed, etc were talking about a non-anthropormorphic God, and just using the personal-agent language for convenience? Or maybe they used the personal agent idea because that’s how everybody at the time (including perhaps themselves) thought about the world. In either case, the religious ideas they had may still be true even if their metaphysics were less than precise.

                  2. What does personal agent even mean? Is my dog a personal agent? What about a cockroach? If it’s just humans, what about Neanderthals? Were they personal agents?

                  The truth is, whether they know it or not, the only thing anybody cares about is cause-and-effect. What action leads to what consequence. The rest is just imagery.

                  So the “religious question” is really , “do religions describe a useful psychological, social, or physical system with any accuracy?” It seems at this time like they fail a lot on the latter one, but I’m not so sure about the former two. At the very least there’s probably some good nuggets of info in them.

                  1. My point is that any description of god, except (perhaps) the most vague, are anthropomorphic. Even attributing the ability to think and purposefully act is to give God human-like qualities. That’s just kind of a curiosity. Any natural phenomenon that does the work of God without actually being God can, in principle, be explained by science, and I fail to see what religions have to add to science in describing the universe. They don’t have access to secret data.

              2. You can remove the law of excluded-middle. That helps remove a lot of stupid shit people “prove” without an actual basis in reality.

          2. Kpres are you suggesting a deity will be observed in an experiment?

    2. It’s more specific than that Tony. It’s common-law based property rights system with courts to support it. There are plenty of things libertarians take for granted that are hardly the default position of societies or the concept of property, like, do you have the right to own land? How about IP? To what extent do you have the right to defend your property? Can you kill someone for any small property transgression, or do you have to be more careful? Is there such a thing as accident liabity, or does only intention matter? Etc. etc.

      What they frame is “no policy” is actual a million of them

      1. Yes, minarchists are not anarchists and build in a series of assumptions.

        You and Tony assume a hell of a lot more about how things “should” be.

        1. “You and Tony assume a hell of a lot more about how things “should” be.”

          You assume just as much as anyone else about how things should be. You just keep trying to frame it like you don’t, but that’s false, and I have proven that.

          1. I wouldn’t claim libertarianism isn’t a political philosophy, but it has the beauty of alot more simplicity than liberalism and also makes no argument that it can cure all ills, rather provide for much greater opportunity

            1. Liberalism makes the exact same claim, except it doesn’t fallacious equate simplicity with the good. If a laissezs-faire capitalist system leaves a huge bulk of the population in inescapable poverty (which it does), then that is not providing for opportunity. Libertarianism is liberalism exclusively for rich people.

              1. And what liberal paradises have lifted up a formerly destitute population to great wealth and happiness?

                1. Every modern welfare state is unquestionably better than what came before. Just look at the stats for old people in poverty before and after Medicare. Tell me, which libertarian paradises have produced great wealth and prosperity?

                  1. Correlation doesn’t imply causation. They’re better now because of the continued rise in GDP, not because of the welfare state.

                  2. Every modern welfare state is unquestionably better than what came before. Just look at the stats for old people in poverty before and after Medicare. Tell me, which libertarian paradises have produced great wealth and prosperity?

                    All that this suggests to me is that the relatively more laissez-faire states which preceded the welfare programs laid the foundations of capital and prosperity needed to afford them. That prosperity leads to both 1.) fewer people in poverty across all demographic groups, and 2.) demands for welfare programs. Once the welfare programs (and a host of other forms of terrible gov’t spending) are done consuming the seedcorn, the poverty will be back.

                  3. Tony-“Every modern welfare state is unquestionably better than what came before.”

                    Hell yeah!

                    1. “Every modern welfare state is unquestionably better than what came before.”

                      Fukkin A right!

              2. … (which it does)…

                Prove it, fuckwad.

                1. He can’t prove anything because poverty is a relative term. They keep raising the “poverty” level as the standard of living increases. So, it’s true that relative to the wealthiest, some will always be in “poverty”. But who cares when poverty means you own two cars, a big-screen TV, and never go hungry?

                  The truth is that what you might call “abject poverty” (a less relative term) worldwide has never decreased more rapidly than it has over the past 30 years, a period of economic liberalization (although not in the US, as we all know, since it was already extremely liberalized compared to the rest of the world).

                  1. As they say, the worst part of being poor isn’t the not having stuff, it’s the being around other poor people.

                    That’s because the natural selection that happens within the market pushes anti-social people down the income strata, and the cooperative people up the income strata.

                    1. “That’s because the natural selection that happens within the market pushes anti-social people down the income strata, and the cooperative people up the income strata.”

                      And vice versa.

                      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201…..ore-money/

              3. Claiming capitalism as implemented is “laissez faire” (ignoring the history of imperialism, state provided liability protection/socialization of risk, corporate welfare, currency manipulation, slavery and racial/sexual discrimination, etc.) and thus blaming laissez faire for poverty? Totally par for your course.

                If I were being similarly disingenous with your political beliefs, I could claim you are ignoring the millions and millions of people living in degrading poverty and/or killed as a result of communism and socialism’s tyrannic regimes and horrendous misallocation of resources and claim that your policies would just cause that again. But you don’t support those things, now, do you?

              4. Libertarianism is liberalism exclusively for rich people

                Twaddle.

            2. But how do you control people that you don’t like?

              That’s the inherent problem with libertarianism.

              1. Sorry for the troll meal everyone. I couldn’t pass this up:

                Libertarianism is liberalism exclusively for rich people.

                Because libertarians argued to give billions to corporations throughout 2007-2010, right? Oh, wait, those were Republicrats.

                It must be because libertarians are against regulations, like the one against lead in toys – which was caused by a company the regulation then exempted. Meanwhile, small craft toymakers (including one who occasionally visits this site) were put out of business, rewarding the company whose negligence “necessitated” the regulation in the first place.

                With friends like you, the “little people” don’t need enemies.

              2. Ok, now this has to be a sockpuppet. Even Tony would know we’re not trying to control anyone and I have never seen him openly call for controlling others. He says it in a much more nuanced way.

      2. Re: Edwin,

        To what extent do you have the right to defend your property?

        To the extent where you’re successful, otherwise what would be the point?

        Gee, trolls nowadays must be suffering mental retardation from all those chemicals that Proposition 65 was meant to protect us from…

        1. Really? Well I once saw a libertarian who said that you could ANYTHING to someone no matter how small the property rights-transgression. He even defended the guy that shot some kid for walking across his lawn.
          I’ll bet I could also find libertarians who would say that the force has to be propertional to the damage and within reason.

          Who says which one is right? What’s the default position? There is none. You both have normative beliefs in a form of governance.

          1. Edwin, would you care to walk across my lawn?

            1. If he wants to walk across a lawn, he should save up until he has enough money to buy one. If he wants to walk across my lawn, he should wait to be invited, or else I’m just going to have to assume he’s here to do the family harm. PS: That’s what my 6-foot wall is for: to serve as a warning to those who don’t understand the concept of private property.

          2. Re: Edwin,

            Well I once saw a libertarian who said that you could ANYTHING to someone no matter how small the property rights-transgression.

            That would mean you should not mess with his property; the guy means business.

            He even defended the guy that shot some kid for walking across his lawn.

            I shall not walk over his lawn, then. Thank you for the warning.

            I’ll bet I could also find libertarians who would say that the force has to be propertional to the damage and within reason.

            Then you should walk ober THEIR lawns; at least you know you will receive a more reasoned and proportional punishment.

            Who says which one is right? What’s the default position? There is none.

            It is clear that what you want is to know how much you can get away with through a series of rules established and imposed by aggressors, kind of like wanting to be their toadie. That is what people really want when they say “governance.”

            1. no, what’s clear is that neither position is some magical default of the human condition, so you’d both be proposing some system of governance.

              The people who believe in proportionate response defense would say it is anybdy’s right to arrest the shooter and try him and imprison him

              the people who believe the shooter had the right to shoot would say anybody has the right to stop the proprtionate-response people or person from arresting him in the first place

              you both have normative statements about how the world should be governed

              there is no default position, there is no “no policy”
              I’ve proven my point and you can’t muster anything to disprove me, because there isn’t any

            2. though it’s also pretty cool that I got you to admit that you think it’s OK to murder some kid just for walking across your lawn

              see why I call all you sick fucks sick fucks? It’s becasue you’re sick fucks.

              1. I call all you sick fucks

                So you cap an argument for the nuance of proportional response by labeling an entire group of people ‘sick fucks’?

                You’re no different than the guy who fails to differentiate between a trespasser and an attacker.

                OM’s right, you just want control.

                1. What? What the fuck?

                  You’re comparing murdering someone as a disproportionate response with a supposed VERBAL disproportionate response?

                  That’s insane.

                  Not to mention my claim isn’t wrong – you guys thinhk you can murder some kid for no reason,. so you’re sick fucks.

                  1. You’re comparing murdering someone as a disproportionate response with a supposed VERBAL disproportionate response?

                    That’s insane.

                    They’re both disproportionate responses. Your argument wasn’t about murder, it was about the disproportionate response. You chose murder to illustrate your point, but now that you’ve invalidated that point, you’re attempting to hide behind semantics.

                    You would no more approve of a beating than a shooting, but since your objective in your ‘discussion’ is to create a straw man to argue against, you opt for the most extreme example in an attempt to buttress your defense of statism.

                    You speak of proportionality and nuance, yet seem incapable of examining the difference between a trespasser on a large rural property adjacent to a national park and someone in your kitchen in your NY apartment. Both are trespassing, but even you can attribute a different threat level. In fact, in every scenario you can posit, there are specific factors that weigh into the level of threat posed by someone ‘trespassing’.

                    Your simplistic scenario of the poor downtrodden toddler skipping across the lawn is laughable, and proves the point of those objecting to your appeal to government authority – people want to be able to assess their own threats while they are being threatened without having a third party attributing motivations to them for that third party’s political gain.

                    Your behavior in labeling others who wish to run their own lives as ‘sick’ demonstrates exactly why people such as yourself should have absolutely no say in their actions.

                    It’s too bad you fucked up and attempted to attribute a psychological diagnosis to a group of people simply because of their political beliefs, right before duplicating the behavior that you used to justify the diagnosis.

                    1. What would you do if it were YOUR kid?

                    2. Next thing, it’s the Hatfields and McCoys.

                    3. Hatfields and McCoys?

                      From here

                      Asa Harmon McCoy was murdered on January 7, 1865. Jim Vance, the uncle of Devil Anse Hatfield, despised Harmon because he had joined the Union Army during the American Civil War. Harmon was discharged from the Army early because of a broken leg. He returned home to a warning from Vance that Harmon could expect a visit from Devil Anse’s Wildcats. Frightened by gunshots as he drew water from his well, Harmon hid in a nearby cave, supplied with food and necessities each day by his slave, Pete; but the Wildcats followed Pete’s tracks in the snow, discovered Harmon and shot him fatally.

                      At first, Devil Anse Hatfield was the prime suspect. Later, after finding the Wildcats’ leader had been confined to his bed, the guilt turned squarely on Vance; but in an area where Harmon’s military service was an act of disloyalty, even Harmon’s own family believed he had brought his murder on himself. In the end, the case died with no suspect brought to trial.

                      Trial? Civil War? What?

                      Perhaps feuds don’t start simply because people don’t have an overbearing government telling them what to do. Maybe hostilities continue because of artificial divisions created by government, which might empower feud type behavior? Of course, there was no police around during the formation of MS-13, or the Crips and Bloods, right?

                    4. And what would you do if it were your kid, except that your kid was killed while attempting to assault someone in their apartment?

                      Without the government threatening you, would you seek vengeance against someone (possibly a young woman – since we’re all about the hypothetical now) who was only defending themselves?

                    5. tl;dr

                      you don’t have the right to murder people, end of story.
                      That you think that guy was “defending his property” shows you’re a sick fuck.

                    6. tl;dr

                      Too Long? 6 paragraphs is too long?

                      That you can’t bother to read a response to an argument that you started shows that you’re incapable of argumentation beyond a level of insult. That, or really really lazy.

                      You throw in some ad hom and a straw man at the end, demonstrating what you’re all about. You can’t cut it – but it’s ok.

                      Maybe you need to spend your time doing things (no reading required) that don’t get you in over your head.

          3. “Well I once saw a libertarian who said that you could ANYTHING to someone no matter how small the property rights-transgression.”

            I once met a brain-dead lefty with an IQ in two digits!
            I remember it clearly; it was the autumn of ’03.

      3. Yeah and what I’ve been trying to get across for a long time is that our differences are really marginal. I want a few more areas of government involvement, but not so many that aren’t a direct logical extension of their property-rights first principles and such. That’s all things like pollution regs and safety standards are–government protecting the individual right to be unmolested in person and property. It’s just the application of a little more imagination, imo, but it’s not a fundamental disagreement on the role of the state.

        1. “It’s just the application of a little more imagination”

          don’t frame it like that Tony, they’ll jump all over it like “yeah, your IMAGINATION, as in none of it’s real”

          The basic elements of the role of the state that reasonable people like you and I understand are all there and very real. It’s pathetic to watch some of the nerdier anarchist types try to explain how deep down everyone agrees with them, when everyone else knows that if government were a business, we’ve all consensually bought their “product”, i.e. governments ARE legitimate.

          1. “everyone else knows that if government were a business, we’ve all consensually bought their “product”, i.e. governments ARE legitimate.”

            Then why don’t governments just let people consensually pay for the services they want? Why is the implicit threat of violence always necessary?

            1. Free-rider problem, and without government monopolizing legitimate force, there will still be force and compulsion, just not the kind you get to vote for.

              1. no, people do have a choice and they choose all the time. Everyone is free to leave every modern 1st world country. As soon as you leave your “subscription payments” (taxes) stop. It’s really cheap and easy to leave a country, often times even easier than getting out of the lauded-by-libertarians “contracts”.

                Libertarians would absolutely back the right to charge money of a per-hour spa or theme park.

                That you’re born into a country in the first place is an element of reality that is unavoidable but ultimately trifling.

          2. It’s just a pathetic to watch you two, in an attempt to be superior and talk down to everyone, claim that your way is the right way and anyone who doesn’t believe it is a dirty anarchist scumbag.

    3. Even a libertarian, laissez-faire scheme is the result of decision-makers deciding what they think is best for everyone

      This is wrong. More properly, it is everyone deciding what’s best for themselves. The otherway around is statism.

  16. “I don’t know” would imply you don’t know what economic-political system would work best. You guys think you can get away with it because yoiu frame your system as the government “not doing anything”. But in reality it’s far from that, you guys support a common-law-based property rights system, which is something the government mopst certainly does.

    You guys also try to frame things in terms of force/not-force. Well if you really didn’t know, then fo all you knew, maybe force sometimes works, or in some aspects of society it works. Though, in reality that dichotomy is faulty, as I mention above; you guys are for force, just within the bounds of what you personally define as “legitimate”

    1. and…

    2. Re: Edwin,

      You guys think you can get away with it because [you] frame your system as the government “not doing anything”.

      That’s a Goddamned lie! Calumny! I don’t frame my system around a government not doing anything! Balderdash!

      I frame my system in which there’s NO government, you lying sack of shit.

      […]You guys support a common-law-based property rights system, which is something the government [most] certainly does.

      Yes, government indeed “does” property rights. And life. And liberty.

      Same way a rapist does women.

      1. do you believe in property rights? Then you believe in some form of governance; there are forms of force you deem legitimate and ones oyou deem illegitimate. It is unavoidable that you do have some normative belief in some kind of system of governance. The oft-repeated libertarian canard of “we don’t knopw, so we’re for doing nothing” doesn’t hold up.

        1. Re: Edwin,

          do you believe in property rights? Then you believe in some form of governance;

          You have to be aware that one thing does not follow the other, Edwin, otherwise your comment makes you an even less intelligent troll than the sockpuppet, and that’s saying much. I believe in common courtesy; does that mean I have to believe in “governance”?

          there are forms of force you deem legitimate and ones oyou deem illegitimate.

          That’s not true, all force is legitimate (gravitational, electrical, mechanical, nuclear, magnetic…) Aggression is what is illegitimate.

          is unavoidable that you do have some normative belief in some kind of system of governance.

          It is avoidable, Edwin – I just told you. A person can govern himself, no need for a set of powerful notables to take from each what is each other’s responsibility.

          1. if you believe in property rights, and you say that people should respect them, then you believe in some form of governance. You’ve not explained how this is not so. Especially when there are a million details involved in property rights that no two libertarians can seem to agree upon completely.

            1. Ah, the old “rights do not exist except as handed down by the government” argument.

            2. Re: Edwin,

              if you believe in property rights, and you say that people should respect them, then you believe in some form of governance.

              I like the way you say “some form” to obfuscate the meaning of “governance” as you are applying it. I DO believe in self-governance, which is a form of governance. I don’t believe in governance as meaning a set of notables aggressively meddling in other people’s affairs and stealing their property.

              1. YOU frame other people’s ideas as “meddling in other’s affairs” and “stealing their property”, the rest of us disagree.

                We BOTH have normative statements. You CANNOT claim that you do not.

            3. Don’t be a moron. You yourself gave an example at 11:35am of property rights being defended by private individuals (“stay off my lawn!” *BOOM*).

              Google “Fullerton Cops Beat Man to Death” for an example of the state’s expertise in maintaining property rights.

              1. That’s not an example of defending property rights. That’s an example of fending off someone who has initiated aggression.

                If you want to walk across a lawn, you should buy one, rent one, or obtain permission from the person who possesses that lawn.

                ALL “rights” derive from force, or threat of force. In the case of a statist government, you depend on the government to provide the force. In the case of a libertarian society, you may exert force yourself, no need for the state to act as a proxy.

                1. there you go, another sick fuck

                  this is a true story, the guy shot a kid for walking across his lawn. The kid died

                  you people call it “defending his property rights”

                  You’re all sick fucks. The lot of you. You’re lucky you have the sense not to say shit like that in public, ’cause if you did you’d be at minimum a social pariah but more probably somebody’d kick your ass, you fuckin wannabe unabombers

                  1. you’d be at minimum a social pariah but more probably somebody’d kick your ass, you fuckin wannabe unabombers

                    This is just delicious.

                    You mean, after speaking a political position in public, someone else, not defending property nor a threat against them, decides to assault the speaker for voicing an opinion that you don’t like – and that’s ok?

                    Again, your projections of the need to control others just seem to slip out.

                    By the way, the Ubomber’s manifesto?

                    “Industrial Society and Its Future begins with Kaczynski’s assertion that ‘the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.’ The document was a densely written manifesto that called for a worldwide revolution against the effects of modern society’s ‘industrial-technological system.'”

                    Oh yeah, you nailed it – all those Luddite libertarians that want to bring down that industrial-technological system.

                    You know, right after we stop schilling for big corporate.

                    1. when you say you think that you can murder people because of your ascetic belief in some obscure philosophy then yeah, you’ll piss people off, and you might get your ass kicked

                      seriously. Do you seriously doubt this? You’re like the epitome of everything that democrats hate in what they imagine Republicans to be like. Ever met a hard-line NYC democrat?

                    2. when you say you think that you can murder people because of your ascetic belief in some obscure philosophy then yeah, you’ll piss people off, and you might get your ass kicked

                      You create that fiction entirely in your head, and work very hard at keeping any conflicting information out that might cause you to have to, you know, read or think.

                      Again you completely fail to see your own cheerleading for physical force against stated political views that you don’t like. Not in defense of threats, but because someone gets ‘pissed off’.

                      You’re like the epitome of everything that democrats hate in what they imagine Republicans to be like. Ever met a hard-line NYC democrat?

                      You should know all about imagining what other people are like.

                      You do it all the time, because you seem too lazy to read or interact to find out what they know.

                      No, it’s far more comforting to make up phony positions or opinions. Then you can always win.

                      As long as you don’t actually read or argue.

                2. What.do you when someone steals your car?

                  1. What.do you when someone steals your car?

                    As opposed to now? File a police report and be told that these ‘operations’ are run like clockwork, and that my car is probably already in pieces? Then contact my insurance company which sends me a check to replace the vehicle?

                    Of course, the insurance company faces a ‘loss’ when paying on a claim. So they write off this loss from their tax burden, while raising my rate for daring to cause anyone trouble.

                    And neither the insurance company nor the cops spend too much sweat chasing down stolen cars.

                    Why? Because it’s just not that profitable.

                    Don’t fool yourself. The system needs criminals to survive.

                  2. Ideally? Laugh and remotely lock the doors and bulletproof windows, power the engine down, and then gas the occupants when the vehicle hits zero mph. Then, using the built-in GPS reporting, go and get it back (it should only be a block or so away at this point), taking the unconscious occupants to the nearest gibbet like any good citizen would. Possibly my own. If, on the other hand, they’re awake when I get there (lets say they had gas masks), then I shoot them, and take them to the nearest morgue. Can’t just leave that stuff lying around decaying, you know.

      2. “frame my system in which there’s NO government, you lying sack of shit.”

        I wasn’t talking about you or anarchist libertarians specifically.
        So how am I lying?

        1. Re: Edwin,

          I wasn’t talking about you or anarchist libertarians specifically

          You didn’t specify anything. That is the risk you take when you say these sweeping generalizations.

          1. OK, but how was I lying?

            Why do you keep accusing everyone of lying?

            You know you’re like some kind of re-re, huddle in a corner derping, flapping your fingers, and accusing everyone of lying.

            1. Re: Edwin,

              OK, but how was I lying?

              Because you said that everyone here [implied from the use of the pronoun “you”] frame their system around a government that does nothing. That is not true: I frame mine around the principle of NO government. So, you lied.

              If you said instead: “You minarchists frame your system on a governent that does nothing!” you would then be more specific but still lying, because minarchists frame their system around a government that does very little, not “nothing.”

              1. “Because you said that everyone here ”

                that’s not what I meant by “you”. You’re implying too much. I was referring to any libertarian that claims they believe in “no” or “less” government, and that that’s a better idea because “since we don’t know much about the world, better we do nothing than screw it up”, which is an often-repeated meme among libertarians. That’s the subject we’re talking about and so that’s who I’m talking to – anyone making that claim.

                So how was I lying?

      3. Anarchy does provide for no compromise, but provides no restraint against vicious individuals.

        1. Re: Lost_In_Translation,

          Anarchy does provide for no compromise, but provides no restraint against vicious individuals.

          And that is true. The restraint can be provided, however, by my two friends: Smith, and Wesson.

          1. And when someone comes along with a bigger gun and bigger posse, will you say “Fair enough, makes right, here take all my shit”?

            1. Why hast thou forsaken us, Tony…?

            2. You got me confused with someone who feeds sockpuppets, sockpuppet.

              1. Says the guy who can’t even come up with his own insults.

            3. Then you get murdered and get ejected from this Hell-world. Fair trade.

          2. What do you do when someone steals your car?

    3. Boring troll is boring.

      1. I wasn’t sure if this was I was not supposed to feed the trolls on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. I’m getting things confused by these watering restrictions.

        1. It’s in the HOA, dude. Did you read it before you signed up? Did you?!?

          1. Dude, its 300 pages of legalise. Did you read the Terms of Service? Did you!?!

            1. Of course I did, Kyle. Otherwise I would have missed the part where I give permission to be chained to two other people for the humancentiPad. What do you think I am, stupid?

        2. Thursday. And you may do as your wish. If you can live with yourself, that is.

          1. Thank you.

  17. If you were to show this to Barack Obama, the DOES NOT COMPUTE would cause an enormous cranial detonation — we’d be rid of him then!

  18. And why haven’t we gotten around to conscripting this man as our candidate for President?

    1. The campaign to get Stossel’s moustache to run is first priority.

      1. ‘Stache/The Jacket 2012!

      2. I suppose a moustache would be slightly more qualified than a skincolor.

  19. Tony and Edwin on the same thread!
    One more lemon and — Jackpot!

    1. Probably the same sockpuppet controller. How gauche.

  20. What a terrible answer by Jillette. I can understand the atheism portion of the answer, but not lumping libertarianism in there with it.

    Why am I a Christian? I don’t know. I haven’t got all the answers, but I am willing to take some things on faith until I do. Why am I a libertarian? Because I believe in the rights of then individual and think it is governments limited responsibility to defend those rights from this who would take them away, period. To expand, i believe a government should be unable to use force to confiscate the property of an individual for the sole purpose of supportiing other individuals or the state, and further believe in an individual’s right to sever his relationship with the state without penalty if the state breaks this covenant.

    How would I solve the country’s problems? Gee, I guess the first steps would be for me to end the wars overseas, eliminate entitlement programs, cut taxes by about 90%, reinstate the second amendment, eliminate all restrictions on property rights, sell all public lands to the highest bidder, and convene a Congress to review every federal law and departmental policy to determine it’s validity under the terms of the Constitution as written. Shit, you’d have to be as dumb as a squirrel to think we are headed in the right direction.

    1. most folks are christian because they were raised that way.

      1. JACKPOT!

      2. I didn’t say most folks, double sphincter. I said “I am a Christian…”

        I do not propose to know why others make their decisions, and frankly that is none of my business.

        1. and i didnt say sloopyinca. i wrote “most folks”.

          1. Oh, I got it. You were making a broad generalization.

      3. But some arrive there on their own.

        1. Not without a bit of prodding!

      4. True. Most people are anything because they were raised that way. You are mind numbingly stupid more than likely because your parents never taught you any better.

      5. Most Atheists are atheists because they were raised Christian—Not sure if that’s true, but it certainly feels true.

        1. Drax,

          I find people fall into one ditch and then the other. Most of the radical atheists I know grew up in some crazy Christian household. On the flip side, some the craziest born agains I have known were once radical atheists.

          1. In my experience, Catholicism seems to be the most fruitful bearer of the world’s atheist population.

            1. They do one thing right!

            2. Or at least Catholic school.

        2. But in this country, that practically becomes the Gateway Drug Fallacy. How many people aren’t raised Christian, at least nominally, in the USA? How many are raised with some form of religion, even if not Christianity?

        3. “Most Atheists are atheists because…”

          …they are rebelling against their upbringing and are resentful of the beliefs of their parents and families. It is a condition characterized by immaturity, smugness and a paranoid persecution complex. Since, more people in America and the west in general are Christian, most Western Atheists are Christian. Most grow out of this phase to lead normal lives, others…see Tony.

          1. For that, I’ll get you that bike you wanted!

          2. Lol, right because believing in sky fairies and immortality is the epitome of maturity.

      6. most folks are christian because they were raised that way.

        Same is true for liberals and conservatives.

        1. Same is true for liberals and conservatives.

          Ain’t that the truth. Reading the ‘arguments’ of the True Believers? is an interesting study of the inability of humans to examine their own worldview.

        2. Although I consider myself a liberal. I prefer the terms Left and Right.

    2. You’re a Christian because being so makes it easier to live with people. In a vaccuum, why would christianity exist?

      1. Good question, and I have no answer. I am forced to live where God placed me, which is no vacuum.

        1. the argument is circular because you either believe or you don’t, but I do always love this quote

          “”Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
          “The argument goes something like this: `I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’
          “`But,’ says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.'”

          1. What a load of dingo’s kidneys.

          2. Yeah, I always get a kick out of that.

            That said, if one looks at the whole proof vs faith argument, what has been provable through the history of mankind has also evolved. Just as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans and other religions of the time were able to prove that the sun revolved around the earth, we can now prove that the opposite is true. Who’s to say that that will not also evolve?

            All scientific proofs exist for the moment in time before the technology exists to disprove them. The same goes for faith in a supreme being, and I’ve yet to see that technology.

            1. That’s why I always say that “proof” doesn’t apply to science at all (or if it does, it does only in a limited way, based on certain hypotheses which themselves are based only on observation). If something can later be demonstrated to be inconsistent or false, then it was never proven in the first place. Proof has nothing to do with matters of fact, which is what science deals with.

              1. If proof were defined to be “the final say” then nothing could be really proved. I look at it as facts cobined with assumptions not disproven.

            2. All scientific proofs exist for the moment in time before the technology exists to disprove them. The same goes for faith in a supreme being, and I’ve yet to see that technology.

              Sciences whole point is to be disproved. Faith’s whole point is to make something undisprovable. If you set boundaries around which faith can be proved or disproved then it ceases to be faith. And if you were serious about testing the science behind your belief, you’d find all you have is an assumption that has very little impact on how you should live your life daily without making a bunch of follow-up assumptions that are very unscientific.

              1. Sciences whole point is to be disproved.

                Oh, if only that still held true. Science’s whole point, in the last few decades at least, has been to secure funding to continue research that will support a preconceived notion, often requiring abandonment of scientific method, intimidation and suppression of dissent and outright manipulation or fabrication of data.

            3. “All scientific proofs exist for the moment in time before the technology exists to disprove them.”
              _
              this is an absolutely FALSE statement. the proof of an isosceles right triangle is the same forever. please study geometric proofs, scientific law v scientific hypothesis.

              1. it is absolotely tru that this dogshit smeered all over my face is REAL so pls dont tell me it isnt

                1. spoof fail

              2. If space is curved with the curvature the function of a variable magnetic field, is an isosceles right triangle possible in all instances? If not, then what has been “proven”?

                1. “magnetic = gravitational”. Never do science in public!

            4. Just as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans and other religions of the time were able to prove that the sun revolved around the earth, we can now prove that the opposite is true. Who’s to say that that will not also evolve?

              Epistemology, how does it work?

              Actually it was the Greeks who figured out that the earth revolved around the sun. This knowledge was still widespread throughout the Roman era but disappeared when the Christians took over and started burning libraries and heretics.

          3. I used to consider myself agnostic. I thought that that was the most logical position to take on whether or not god exists, because how can anyone know for sure either way…right?

            After a while and many talks with friends I realized that I was offering credence to an arbitrary idea. It’s not logical to be agnostic about leprechauns, is it? Or vampires? Santa Claus? Not only are people quick to point out that they don’t exist but they would think that you were crazy if you told them that you believed in the Tooth Fairy. Yet many believers dismiss atheists as the most foolish of all.

            It’s atheism for me. I will always be an atheist until god comes to my house and explains the universe’s greatest mystery–why people think Dane Cook is funny.

            I agree with the Stephen F. Roberts quote:

            “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

            1. I will always be an atheist until god comes to my house and explains the universe’s greatest mystery–why people think Dane Cook is funny.

              I will do God’s work then. People think Dane Cook is funny because people are inherently stupid.

              Now go and sin no more, My son.

              1. I guess stupidity can explain lots of things then…

              2. Oh, and it doesn’t count unless god personally comes by and leaves his ass-groove in my couch.

                1. God’s ass is omnigrooveless, heathen.

                2. Damn! Thought I was going to reach My conversion quota for the month.

                  1. If this is the only place you out proselytizing, sloopy, they gonna revoke your membership for failing to meet quota.

            2. “Yet many believers dismiss atheists as the most foolish of all.”

              Because vocal atheists tend to be as insanely fundamentalist in their outlook as the worst caricacture of a Christian Evangelical and wihout being at all self-aware about it. It seems to me that the most strident, visible atheists wanted to belive in God, but could not make the leap of faith necessary and now hate Him for it.

              1. Wow, MJ – you argue points like my Mom:

                “Atheists don’t believe in God because they just wanna be cool

            3. It’s not logical to be agnostic about leprechauns, is it? Or vampires? Santa Claus?

              It also fundamentally misstates what large groups of Christians actually believe. Many Christians do not believe in a literal interpretation and treat the bible as a book of parables that comment on the human condition. These comments help to add meaning to people’s lives by recognizing that many struggles faced in life are universal.

              All humans seem to have a propensity to attach meaning to their various activities – atheists included.

              Otherwise, many atheists here wouldn’t be working at an office to pay bills, provide for their families and save for their future.

              Personally, I find many similarities between atheist leftists and Christian fundamentalist socons. One of them is the seeming inability to accurately characterize the opinions of those who don’t share their worldview – it almost always involves creating a straw man to rail against.

              The other similarity is the need to control others based on ‘saving’ or ‘helping’ society.

              One thing I’ll say about Jillette – I’m in total agreement that I don’t know enough about what other people believe to run their lives.

              1. Many Christians do not believe in a literal interpretation and treat the bible as a book of parables that comment on the human condition.

                Of course, many Christians do believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. But anyway…

                I grew up in Christianity. I went to 12 years of Catholic school. I went through the rituals of baptism, communion and confirmation but I never understood them, I guess.

                I remember thinking how strange it all seemed. Genuflecting, praying the rosary, stations of the cross, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Blessing of the Throats (look it up), confession, penance, transubstantiation, etc…ugggghhh!

                My experience ruined me on organized religion forever. I’ve had discussions with my dad and some Christian friends about Christianity and we remain respectful to each other’s views. My mother still goes to church every week, and that’s fine. I’m not against Christianity for you; it’s just not for me.

                TJ said it best, “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

                1. I’m not against Christianity for you; it’s just not for me.

                  Agreed. I was just addressing your argument that those practicing Christianity necessarily had a simplistic “bearded man in the sky” belief system (Santa, Tooth Fairy) – something that I, raised a Protestant, did not experience.

                  I understand that Catholicism is quite a different experience altogether – and I understand that from the stories that my currently atheist, former Catholic friends tell to me.

                  The system of religious belief runs the same shaded gradient as does that of sexuality, IMO, and for every fundamentalist, there exists many who have a far different personal experience that is based on much more than a simplistic set of rules.

                2. Haha, 12 years of Catholic school is a recipe for atheism. I have 12 years under my belt as well and I wasn’t even catholic.

          4. You have your towel right?

      2. “You’re a Christian because being so makes it easier to live with other x-ians.”

        Fixed

  21. I try to claim that I was friends with the genius Richard Feynman. He came to our show a few times and was very complimentary, and I had dinner with him a couple times, and we chatted on the phone several times. I’d call him to get quick tutoring on physics so I could pretend to read his books.

    So goddamn jealous. I wonder if Feynman taught him his science of picking up chicks.

    1. He was also friend with The Amazing Randy. Feynman liked skeptics.

        1. The school book one is great. And very depressing since as bad as it was then, it is probably worse now.

  22. Also:

    Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

    Straight up racism.

  23. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

    Precisely.

    I am an atheist for the same reasons I am a libertarian too. One of which is that I believe telling other people how to live shows an inadequate respect for human life.

    1. Trying to get someone to propose to you again?

      1. Who would want to get a libertarian to propose to them? We make terrible husbands, what with spending all our time tending to our moustaches and all.

        1. monocle polishing is so exhausting.

          1. Damn you, Clich? Bandit!

            1. poop occurs

        2. Not to mention all the “Get back in the conservatory and polish my monocle!” demands.

  24. It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

    People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

    I tried making this argument with “joe from lowell” back in the day, but dedicated progressives seems particularly immune to rational thought.

    1. Dammit, I need refresh before I post when I get distracted for a while 😉

    2. All that attitude results in is hugely increasing the burden on churches and charities for social welfare and stability. I think that’s less desirable for at least two reasons: 1) it’s grossly inadequate, and 2) I don’t like relying on religious institutions for managing large parts of the social fabric.

      Arguing for a social safety net policy is completely different from expressing compassion for poor people. One is a token gesture and the other is a meaningful improvement in quality of life for a civilization.

      1. Dear Sock Puppet, Tony hasn’t lived here for years. Go Fuck Yourself.

      2. Arguing for a social safety net policy is completely different from expressing compassion for poor people.

        Yes, arguing for a social safety net really is a token gesture. So why do you persist? Get out there and make a difference instead of insisting someone else do it for you.

      3. This stands in direct contradiction to your statement above that all the policies you want are merely extensions of the concept of property rights.

        1. Illness and poverty are forms of liberty-restricting harm afflicting individuals. Government exists to maximize individual liberty in the face of threats to it from other people or nature. Since there is no such thing as a default or optimal economic system, poverty is the harm imposed on people from a flawed economic system, and thus it should be corrected for.

          1. When government can secure the liberty IRT illness and poverty for others without confiscating what belongs to someone else (IOW taking their liberty), then I will be all for it.

            Until then, fuck off slaver.

            1. Nobody wants anarchy dude. Not even you. If you’d ever experienced anything like it, you’d reject it immediately. But you haven’t. You’re an armchair anarchist enjoying the benefits of a fully functional civilization. It’s not convincing.

              Or is it okay to confiscate what belongs to someone else as long as it’s paying for socialized armed forces and property rights?

              1. Conflating absence of State with absence of government and civil society. It’s not convincing.

                1. The only places on earth that lack a strong central government are either uninhabited or terrorism-riddled shitholes.

                  1. The transition would be bumpy, but eventually small groups would band together for safety and to provide for common needs, eg water.

                    Give it a generation or two, and we’d be right back where we are now.

      4. Because government has been a far better and more adequate manager of “the social fabric,” whatever the hell that is, right? Oooh-kay, then.

        1. Not necessarily better than churches on an individual basis, but do you really want to shift the burden of poverty, age, and sickness almost completely over to churches? How will that be good for anyone?

          1. “How will that be good for anyone?”

            Because churches won’t pull a gun on you, shithead?

            1. churches also don’t have the massive funds of governments. That matters to the guy who doesn’t have shit and has trouble creating shit because he’s been fucked by some circumstance or another since birth

              not that I’m for a very large welfare state, but your framing is faulty

              1. “churches also don’t have the massive funds of governments.”

                Churches are funded by what people are willing give, governments are funded by what they can take from the people, which is limited only by political expediency.

            2. Nope, all they can do is appeal to human empathy. We’ll see how far that gets us.

              1. Yes, Tony, I realize how hard it is for you to give your wealth away, rather than other people’s.

                1. You beg the question–if it’s earmarked for the poor by law, then it’s not other people’s wealth, it’s theirs.

                  1. As I said, you can be extremely generous with other people’s resources. Even to claiming those resources don’t belong to other people before your ommipotent, infallible god of government confiscates it.

      5. 2) I don’t like relying on religious institutions for managing large parts of the social fabric.

        Or we could just, like, NOT manage the “social fabric” and stuff.

        1. Or we could just, like, NOT manage the “social fabric” and stuff.

          Don’t be too hasty – there’s a lot of money and power in management.

      6. Actually, the poor and working classes built their own welfare state. It was more than just “churches give the poor money”, but a system of mutual associations and friendly societies. They built pensions, insurance, healthcare, and burials, all from the ground up, through solidarity and mutual sharing of costs and benefits. Rather than being helped by churches, charities, or the state, they helped each other. A good discussion of this in healthcare is A Crisis of Artificial Scarcity.

        Whether accidentally or on purpose, the progressive state destroyed these mutual institutions and replaced them with top-down, heirarchical, master-servant relationships. And while things are better now than before, that’s just as likely to be due to increased wealth overall as opposed to centralized bureaucracies replacing mutual aid.

        1. Does not compute. Does not compute.

          Error! Error! Errrrrrrrrrrrroooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

        2. absolute load of wingnutz rubbish. not even good comedic entertainment like the daily show.

          1. my moms dog hasnt poopped in hours and im starving ive alredy lickd its ass hole cleen where can i buye doggy ex lax?

            1. spoof fail.

    3. I’m guessing that many of them actually do find happiness in stealing people’s money at gunpoint.

  25. Meh. I don’t care what you believe as long as you leave me the fuck alone.

    1. (gives NutraSweet a wedgie)

      Believe that, pal.

      1. Ow, my buttockal cleft!

  26. All well and good but the moral arguments for respecting others’ liberty are much better than the consequentialist ones

  27. I bet Mr. Jillette a lunch at his favorite restaurant that he makes acts of faith at least ten times every day, made them at least that often every day of his life up to now, and will continue to make them at that rate or greater every day of the rest of his life.

    1. Having faith that a certain outcome will happen /= belief in a god. Or are you trying to say that he has to stop and pray before doing certain activities?

      1. Jillette says he won’t accept what a TV host says without proof. That’s the level I’m working on, the level he laid out in his statement about not taking things on faith. If “faith” is not the right word, you must talk to Mr. Jillette; it’s the word he chose to use. I’m not going to indulge myself in an act of presumption about whether he meant just what he said, or something different. I’ll just take his words at their face value.

    2. One has to make certain assumptions about the world to function, yes. Is that what you mean?
      I don’t think faith is really the right word. I don’t have faith that if I let go of my pen, it will fall to my desk. I have a mental habit of assuming that that is what will happen.

      1. Your “mental habit of assuming…what will happen” is a workable definition of faith.

        1. No, it isn’t. It’s a workable definition of variable confidence based on prior experience and an understanding of rules (aka metaphors… AKA physics models, formal or otherwise) for the behavior of the world which are known to work.

          Faith is dropping the pen and assuming that it would be perfectly reasonable for the babby jebus to snatch it from the air before it hits the desk, even though you have no prior experience or metaphors to indicate that such a thing could happen other than fairy stories in a rather poorly written book of fantasy.

  28. iLdoRight
    24 Fans
    15 hours ago (8:22 PM)
    In my opinion Atheist are like someone who would go into all the worlds greatest art museum and scratch all the artist names off all the works of art and claim that nobody created them. Lending to that thought, a commercial from long age use to go something like,”Hi I am Mr. Nobody ! When my competitio?n say, nobody can beat my deals, well they are talking about me ! I am Mr. Nobody ! So who gets the credit ? Mr. Nobody or Our Creator ?

    I don’t know why I do this to myself

    1. So God signed the Earth somewhere? Is it that squiggly bit of Indonesia?

      1. Bob Ross was God?!? It all makes sense now!

        1. Really, would that surprise you? I just saw him on the other day.

      2. Oh, yes. Did you ever go to a place – I think it was called Norway? That was one of mine. Won an award, you know. Lovely crinkly edges.

      3. And is Detroit where he took a dump.

        1. thx ! manure is good fertilizer!

          http://www.hantzfarmsdetroit.com/

      4. No; God’s signature can be found in quantum physics.

        1. Bill meant that in all seriousness.

          1. Or somewhere nearby.

    2. Following that logic, wouldn’t the artists have to retitle the creater on their works god to be sure. Because that paint brush and those brush strokes were a direct result of his work through the artist, as the commenter would say the parents of said atheist would be.

      No human would therefore be able to claim credit over his work or parent claim their child. It was all gods.

      Yes, the reader was on the huffington post, so I am assuming too much for the intellect in any case.

      1. No, turtles all the way down.

  29. “This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again….God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.”

    CS. Lewis

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis

    1. Exactly. And that is why Christians who claim to be able to create a better world through government have strayed very far.

      1. ^^This^^

        Those moralist assholes like Perry, Bachmann and the like are about as scary as the secular humanist progressive scum on the opposite end of the equation. Both are sure they know what is best for humanity. The righties do it to save your souls, while the leftists do it because the soulless will kill the weak if not checked.

        Two sides to the same coin, IMO.

        1. In many ways. What kills me is that the US is a mostly Calvinist country. The main thing about Calvinism is pre destination. Basically, there is a select group who by destiny are going to receive grace and the rest of the world is screwed.

          Now if you really believe that, why do you care what anyone else does? You have grace and there is nothing you can really do to get anyone else the same favor. They either get it or they don’t. Given that, why bother worrying about what the poor bastard next door is doing in his house?

          1. The great American tradition — prosperity is evidence of a good person, poverty is a sign of a bad person.

            The Great Society was more than a social revolution, it was major redefinition of Protestant faith.

            1. That is a good point. Never thought of it that way.

        2. Whereas libertarians simply don’t care about human well-being, and that’s better?

          Or maybe you think you know what’s best for humans every bit as much as anyone else and want to implement your social scheme just like they do.

          1. No Tony. Libertarians understand that since we are human beings and are knowledge is limited, our ability to help others via government coercion is gravely limited.

            1. But it’s not gravely limited, just imperfect. Libertarians, in fact, want to dismiss decades of evidence for what works to increase human well-being in favor of a radical, untested scheme that’s every bit as much top-down decisionmaking as anything else.

              1. Tony|8.17.11 @ 11:57AM|#
                “But it’s not gravely limited, just imperfect.”

                Translated from shithead:
                “I may be dumb, but I’ve got the gun”.

              2. the randians are selfish tony & little else.

                1. tony my freind rex just laid this delishous brown egg of goodnes in the back yard wolud u like to share it w me?

                  1. yet another spoof fail

              3. Jesus titty-fucking Christ on a pogo stick, how is telling people to figure their own shit out and allowing them to do as they please as long as they don’t harm anyone or take their stuff “top-down decisionmaking” in any sense or possible interpretation? Thsi is why it is impossible to converse with people like you. You can’t even conceive of anything that is not based on centralized authority. Letting people do what they do is not an ideology, a system or a decision about how people ought to live their lives.

                1. You guys try to pretend that we’re talking about human beings who blink into existence as fully grown adults with a blank slate environment. But to have your society enacted would require radical imposition on the life of every human being, if only because of the change from the status quo. Dress it up as superior for whatever reason, that’s gonna be the case. Most people don’t want more anarchy, so the fact that you’d be going against public will to achieve your aims just makes it that much more of an imposition.

          2. Whereas libertarians simply don’t care about human well-being

            Sure we do. We believe human well-being is best advanced through non-aggression and either minarchy or anarchy.

            and want to implement your social scheme just like they do.

            You bet. Its just that our “social scheme” involves leaving people alone.

            Your social scheme = the creation of a corporate body (the state) that uses force and the threat of force.

            Our social scheme = leaving people alone.

            The fact that these are both “social schemes” does not mean that there is no difference between them.

            1. Just not a difference with respect to interfering with people’s lives. You want less state force and consequently more force from individuals and nature. Even with the highly structured state we have now, we’re nowhere near removing fraud and abuse from society, so your solution is to permit more fraud and abuse?

              1. Force! Force is all around us! Everything is force! Force!!! FORCE!!!!!!!!!

                (poops drawers)

              2. “so your solution is to permit more fraud and abuse?”

                So your solution is to prove you’re an ignoramus who love false dichotomies?

                1. It’s a dichotomy but not a false one. You guys want to reduce the amount of police power in the world. You don’t get to absolve yourself of responsibility for the consequences by pretending that as soon as government gets out of the way people will suddenly stop trying to take advantage of each other.

                  1. which is exactly why libtoids have no answer for corporate collusion, dumping, insider trading, & other anti-competitive crimes

                    1. Re: OO,

                      which is exactly why libtoids have no answer for corporate collusion, dumping, insider trading, & other anti-competitive crimes

                      The economics illiterate has spoken in platitudes.

                      There’s no answer for things that are conceptually absurd, double asshole. “Dumping”? “Collusion”?

                      Yeah, sure: When I sell at a better price, it’s “dumping”. When I sell at the same price as my competition, it’s “collusion.”

                      And “insider trading” is the most ignorant and dishonest faux crime invented by the economics illiterate. It’s a crime to sell something that belongs to you, and also, we can read minds.

                      The “OO” must be the deer-in-headlights look you give when people talk sense to you.

                    2. nope. [dumping] means selling BELOW the cost of production to eliminate competition followed by enormous price hikes. [collusion] has a very specific legal meaning but also seeks to limit competition. and [insider trading] refers to criminal conduct by executives keeping other investors unfairly ignorant while profiting fm them. so u think folks are in jail for these crimes are political prisoners? ur forced to deny the existence of these crimes by ur wingnutz ideology

                    3. Re: OO,

                      nope. [dumping] means selling BELOW the cost of production to eliminate competition followed by enormous price hikes.

                      “Bellow the cost of production”? “Price hikes”?

                      HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!

                      Sure, OO, sure. As if price changes do not change consumer behavior. As if stock holders love to see their dividens dwindle.

                      YOU HAVE NO IDEA OF WHAT YOU TALK ABOUT!

                      [Colusion] has a very specific legal meaning but also seeks to limit competition.

                      Right, OO, because lawyers know better than the producers.

                    4. spoof fale ol mix r u enjyoing urself?

          3. Fuck you, Tony. Libertarians do care about human well-being. That’s why we respect people enough to leave them to their own devices, until they infringe on someone else’s liberty.

            It’s not human well-being you are concerned with. If it were, then you would care about the liberty associated with that well-being, for without liberty, that well-being is meaningless.

            Take, for example, a cattle ranch. The rancher (central planner) provides for the well-being of his herd (society). His sole concern is that their needs are met, they are safe from predators (corporashuns

            1. Corporashuns), yet the cows ability to exist is at the whim of the rancher. If he stops feeding them, they die.

              Sorry, but I prefer not to be a part of the governments herd.

              1. Turning free people into cattle is not doing good. Look at New Orleans and all those people sitting on their asses waiting for somebody to come help them.

                1. stick to what u know cause new orleans aint it.

            2. Re: sloopyInca,

              Libertarians do care about human well-being.

              Sloopy, please be reminded that in the mind of the sockpuppet and people of his ilk, caring about other human beings means letting yourself be robbed so the robber can feed his loved ones. In other words, let yourself be robbed by the politician so he can feed his political customers.

              Hence, human welfare means for him “receiving token freebies.”

              1. You’re right, of course.

                I wish it was Thursday. Can’t we all pretend it’s Thursday?

            3. But preventing the “infringing on someone else’s liberty” is more complicated than just leaving people alone. There are forms of force that exist outside of the state, as you acknowledge, and all I’m saying is that we should do our best to account for these instead of ignoring them. The optimum of individual liberty does not lie at either the extreme of totalitarianism or the extreme of anarchy, but somewhere in between. We disagree only marginally, since you’re all for certain types of force to protect certain types of liberty, right?

              1. Argument to moderation.

              2. Re: Sockpuppet,

                The optimum of individual liberty does not lie at either the extreme of totalitarianism or the extreme of anarchy, but somewhere in between.[WTF???]

                And because of dumb statements like that, we should refuse to feed the sockpuppet.

                Sockpuppets have difficulty grasping the very concepts they fling outside their cage.

                1. Care to offer an argument about why that’s a dumb statement, or are you just going to “fling” insults and expect to be patted on the back for claiming to be right about something you haven’t even made an argument about?

                  1. Re: Tony,

                    Care to offer an argument about why that’s a dumb statement

                    Research “Optimum,” you twit.

                    Do you think the optimum level of a full tank of gas is “between empty and full”? You’re such an idiot.

                    1. In that specific example, optimal is a full tank. But it could easily be less than full, say if the weight of the fuel meaningfully contributed to inefficiency.

                      I realize you think the optimal society is one in which might-makes-right is the only law, but you’re insane, so…

                    2. “In that specific example, optimal is a full tank. But it could easily be less than full, say if the weight of the fuel meaningfully contributed to inefficiency.”

                      I like this example. I like how when proposed an example/allegory you immediately had an exact, science-based answer.

                      That little interchange just exposed a shit-load about libertarian bullshit.

                    3. Tony|8.17.11 @ 12:49PM|#
                      “In that specific example, optimal is a full tank. But it could easily be less than full, say if the weight of the fuel meaningfully contributed to inefficiency.”

                      Translated from shithead:
                      “I’m a dumb twit, but if I toss enough bullshit around, maybe something might make sense”

                    4. no, I’m pretty well-versed in science and engineering, and that’s the basic answer to that sort of question

                      people may have different opinions, but people can generally agree on what sorts of life conditions are better and which are worse

                    5. Re: Edwin,

                      no, I’m pretty well-versed in science and engineering, and that’s the basic answer to that sort of question

                      “Relative to what,” yes, that’s an engineering question. Not so when it comes to ethics.

                      people may have different opinions, but people can generally agree on what sorts of life conditions are better and which are worse

                      Maybe – who cares? Opinions are not rules, moron.

                    6. it matters because you were atacking the concept of making a better world by saying it’s all subjective. What we’re saying is that it’s obviously not completely, just like with your example; generally vehicles created are built for more efficiency, and anybody using it at any one time wants to have as much time to use it as he can, so the gas-tank question had a definite answer.
                      the point is “well being” or “better” might TECHNICALLY be subjective, but people have a strong general tendency in their opinions.

                    7. Re: Tony,

                      In that specific example, optimal is a full tank.

                      And in the case of maximum personal freedom, no government is optimal, not “something in between”

                      Is being raped with just the tip optimal versus not being raped at all, sockpuppet?

                      But it could easily be less than full, say if the weight of the fuel meaningfully contributed to inefficiency.

                      Inefficiency of what? So are you trying now to make a “depends on…” argument? That is not implied in your little “middle of the ground” argument up there, numbskull.

                    8. But you’re defining personal freedom circularly. Freedom is the absence of government, therefore less government means more freedom. I don’t define freedom that way, I define it meaningfully: the ability to act unimpeded. (Not just the ability to act unimpeded by government.)

                      Inefficiency of what? So are you trying now to make a “depends on…” argument?

                      Yeah optimal for some purpose. I assumed when talking about fuel tanks you were referring to optimality with respect to fuel efficiency. Forgive me if you were talking out your ass as usual.

                    9. Re: Sockpuppet,

                      But you’re defining personal freedom circularly. Freedom is the absence of government, therefore less government means more freedom.

                      Sorry bud, I am not falling for your strawman.

                      I don’t define freedom that way, I define it meaningfully: the ability to act unimpeded.

                      You’re contradicting yourself. If government is impediment in itself, then freedom cannot be when government is present.

                    10. YOU’RE the one calling government an impediment, not him. Any idiot could recognize that wherever government is an impediment, it can also be an even greater helper to real personal freedom. For example, taxes are an impediment, but if you tax Fatty McBuckAPlenty and give it to Jimmy the recovering crack-baby, you’ve on net increased real personal freedom.

                    11. if you tax Fatty McBuckAPlenty and give it to Jimmy the recovering crack-baby, you’ve on net increased real personal freedom.

                      Epic logic fail.

                    12. how is that an epic logic fail? It’s undeniably true

                    13. but your no-government doesn’t necessarily imply full freedom. Property rights are exactly literally an impingement on freedom.

                      If some guy gets to “homestead” a piece of theis planet that pre-existed everyone, that’s in actuality the “right” to exclude EVERYONE ELSE from that land and resources

                      IP rights are the right to EXCLUDE FROM EVERYBODY ELSE the rights to use something that is necessarily always NOT rivalrous.

                      But on the other hand the incentives those systems create might provide a world with MORE freedom because of the industry and innovation they incentivize

                      etc. etc.

                      the point is, there’s nothing that outright proves or even implies that no-government necessarily provides maximum personal freedom for everyone

                      the entire dialogue of “rights” is itself faulty in the sense of technically inaccurate. It’s more useful to talk about whether or not Party A has the right to stop Party B from doing activity C [with Item D].
                      Every “right” actually comes down to a relationship like that.

                    14. Re: Edwin,

                      but your no-government doesn’t necessarily imply full freedom. Property rights are exactly literally an impingement on freedom.

                      Does that mean government, you fool?

                      If some guy gets to “homestead” a piece of theis planet that pre-existed everyone, that’s in actuality the “right” to exclude EVERYONE ELSE from that land and resources

                      Indeed – so? You just made the point that property can exist without government, right above. A person can homestead and exclude others from using his property.

                      Don’t try to conflate rights with government – it won’t work, Edwin. I am on to you, you’re not that smart.

                    15. you’re an idiot – that’s not what I was driving at at all.

                      Try to pay attention.

                      You claimed property rights maximize personal freedom.

                      I explained that the nature of property rights are RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOMS. They’re NEGATIVE freedoms.
                      Which is why there is no reason to believe your claim.

                    16. “I explained that the nature of property rights are RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOMS.”

                      These would be restrictions on the “right to steal from others”?

                    17. using the word “steal” is begging the question

                      but yes, that is a restriction on others

                    18. Re: Edwin,

                      You claimed property rights maximize personal freedom.

                      It wasn’t me who made that claim here. But for argument sake, let’s say I did.

                      I explained that the nature of property rights are RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOMS.

                      Sure: My body is not someone else’s to use.

                      They’re NEGATIVE freedoms.

                      That they are.

                      Which is why there is no reason [sic] to believe your claim.

                      It does not follow. I don’t even have to prove you’re an idiot: you do the work for me.

                      Which claim are you talking about? The one where I supposedly say property rights maximize freedom, or the one where I established you’re an imbecile?

                      By the way, “maximizing” is not the same as reaching the absolute, numbskull. If the maximum freedom you can reach is where everybody else’s restrict yours, then that’s it, there’s no more. Why would this invalidate the argument that private property maximizes people’s freedom is beyond me, unless you think that maximization = the absolute.

                    19. first you say you didn’t make that claim, then you say you made the claim, which is it?

                      anyway, you haven’t disproven what I said; there is no reason to believe that property rights maximize freedom when RESTRICT certain people’s freedoms in certain contexts is exactly what they do.

    2. The basis for the argument is assumption that without an overseer there is no reason to improve our species and that acting as if there is no overseer will anger a possible overseer. Its either rediculous to think that goodness requires a ref or that we know what rules the ref wants us to follow, given it has only been other players that have given us the rules. I think it is up to the players to decide the rules and not worry about what the unknowable ref does or does not want.

      1. We do have the rules, “conscience”.

        1. Societal norms combined with evolved sensibilities. Societies with differing norms died out, leaving us with the sense that whatever our norms are, they are the way to treat each other.

          A society that kills indiscriminately won’t survive long. A society where theft is routine won’t advance far enough to challenge more organized societies.

          1. Re: Lost_In_Translation,

            A society where theft taxation is routine won’t advance far enough to challenge more organized societies.

            Hence the twilight of Western Civilization.

          2. Aargh! Those open tags!!

            Re: Lost_In_Translation,

            A society where theft taxation is routine won’t advance far enough to challenge more organized societies.

            Hence the twilight of Western Civilization.

            1. taxes /= nuke war. jeesch

              1. Re: Double Asshole,

                taxes /= nuke war. jeesch

                The Twilight of Western Civilization =/= nuke wars.

                The Twilight of Western Civilization = taxes.

                Imbecile.

    3. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless.

      What efforts? What are you working toward? If you are working toward a better life in the next world, I would agree that it is hopeless.

      I believe that when we die we will be nothing but food for worms. I don’t see this as a bleak outlook. I want to enjoy life to the fullest and encourage everyone to live in a way that makes them happiest while allowing others to do the same.

  30. The I don’t know philosophy for lack of a better term fits best on social issues. I don’t live other people’s lives. So, I can’t tell you what is best for them. Worse still, I can’t even tell you how to help them without risking doing more harm than good.

    Take drugs. It is easy to say that “we should not take drugs”. But I don’t live other people’s lives. For some taking drugs may be the best alternative available. Who am I to say it is not?

    1. I see it as a fact–that society is generally better off when we’re all free to make our own choices.

      And given that fact, it would be absurd to presume that because some individuals aren’t sure about what to do–that means society isn’t generally better off when we’re all free to make our own choices.

      Uncertainty has always been with us and will always be us–even with smart, intelligent people when they make their choices. Show me someone who–in the face of uncertainty–is absolutely certain they’re right about their choices, and I’ll show you an idiot.

      If history demonstrates the fact that society is generally better off when we’re free to make our own choices, then it demonstrates that this principle is true in the face of uncertainty as well.

      The people of the past were just as unsure about their choices as we are–probably more so. …but they were generally better off making their own choices anyway.

      1. “I see it as a fact–that society is generally better off when we’re all free to make our own choices.”

        Actually, that’s what makes me a libertarian.

        That’s basically the whole ball of wax for me.

        That’s my stand on everything from conscription, gay marriage, the drug war, raw milk and zoning laws–to tax policy, fiscal conservatism, free trade and predatory lending practices.

      2. Re: Ken Shultz,

        I see it as a fact–that society is generally better off when we’re all free to make our own choices.

        Indeed. The oh-so-smart sockpuppet, on the other hand, argues that “Illness and poverty are forms of liberty-restricting harm afflicting individuals[…] [so] Government exists to maximize individual liberty in the face of threats to it from other people or nature[,]” which in other words means that other people’s liberties have to be sacrified and trampled on to enhance the liberty of the so-called ill and poor, the sacrificial stone being the very government that purports to “maximize individual liberty.”

        And that is why we should NOT feed the sockpuppet.

  31. Re: Edwin,

    Well I once saw a libertarian who said that you could ANYTHING to someone no matter how small the property rights-transgression.

    That would mean you should not mess with his property; the guy means business.

    He even defended the guy that shot some kid for walking across his lawn.

    I shall not walk over his lawn, then. Thank you for the warning.

    I’ll bet I could also find libertarians who would say that the force has to be propertional to the damage and within reason.

    Then you should walk ober THEIR lawns; at least you know you will receive a more reasoned and proportional punishment.

    Who says which one is right? What’s the default position? There is none.

    It is clear that what you want is to know how much you can get away with through a series of rules established and imposed by aggressors, kind of like wanting to be their toadie. That is what people really want when they say “governance.”

    1. He even defended the guy that shot some kid for walking across his lawn.

      I don’t think that fits into most people’s conception of the non-aggression principle.

      1. Re: RC Dean,

        I don’t think that fits into most people’s conception of the non-aggression principle.

        Of course, but that is not what Edwin is implying: He is advocating for an imposed and general set of rules that can allow people of his ilk to know what they can get away with: in other words, it LOWERS their risk. Not knowing the consequence of entering someone’s house or property is what keeps people alert, polite and respectful. Instead, laws give shysters and thiefs the ex ante knowledge of their risk which makes their plundering more profitable.

        1. “He is advocating for an imposed and general set of rules that can allow people of his ilk to know what they can get away with”

          You really are a sick-fuck uber-nerd derp. It’s really pathetic. You’re seeing evil ulterior motives behind my plain statements? You remind me of paranoid anti-semites

          “Instead, laws give shysters and thiefs the ex ante knowledge of their risk which makes their plundering more profitable.”

          And your whole bullshit libertarian philosophy allows you justify your misanthropy brought by your years of aspberger-nerd-douchism where you couldn’t get along with anyone, which was also caused by your sociopathy, which you’re also trying to defend, to the point that you’ve come up with a cockamamie explanation as to how you can FUCKING MURDER A KID FOR NO REASON

          1. It’s not murder if said kid is on my lawn without permission. If he wanted to walk on a lawn, he should have arranged to own one, or stuck to those where he was welcome.

            1. so you think you can kill someone just for walking on your lawn?

              You’re a sick fuck then. Leave civilized society and go to some shitty backwater like Papua New Guinea or something. Or better yet, kill yourself.

              1. For every sci-fi dystopia there is a libertarian who thinks it’s the perfect world.

                I’m referring of course to the land of the Edo from Star Trek.

              2. No, I think I *should* be able to kill someone for walking on my lawn. It should no more be murder than if said ‘someone’ climbed in a window of my home. Not quite the same thing as “thinking I can kill someone”, you know.

                Just FYI, the discussion of what the actual social structure might be when living in a libertarian society is not a discussion of the social structure in the criminal oligarchy we live in now. I know it’s difficult to grasp, but in order to participate sensibly, you need to try.

                Still, I understand your confusion, poor fellow. You actually think you live in a civilized society. And… as remaining oriented to reality is obviously such a chore for you, one simply must make allowances.

          2. Re: Edwin,

            You really are a sick-fuck uber-nerd derp. It’s really pathetic. You’re seeing evil ulterior motives behind my plain statements?

            I don’t judge motives, twit. I judge words.

            And your whole bullshit libertarian philosophy allows you justify your misanthropy brought by your years of aspberger-nerd-douchism where you couldn’t get along with anyone, which was also caused by your sociopathy, which you’re also trying to defend, to the point that you’ve come up with a cockamamie explanation as to how you can FUCKING MURDER A KID FOR NO REASON

            Who is here defending murder? YOU used that example as justification for governance. I put you to task: WHY would YOU need governance? Do you or don’t you know it is NOT OK to trespass on other people’s property? If you KNOW this, why would you need laws that purport to establish punishment for trespassing (which is implied by your sob and outrage stories)? Unless you want to know what you’re getting to if you DO trespass, I don’t see the purpose – I *KNOW* it is not OK to enter someone’s property without permission.

            1. Property being what absent a universally agreed-upon standard? Whatever you claim? What if someone else claims it at the same time? Who decides who’s right?

              And what do you do about people who may know right from wrong but don’t care to practice what’s right? Just simple, pure, bigger gun wins?


              1. And what do you do about people who may know right from wrong but don’t care to practice what’s right? Just simple, pure, bigger gun wins?

                Oh, you mean the government? Well see, in a libertarian society, they wouldn’t be authorized to do that.

                And the fun thing about weapons is, it isn’t the bigger weapon that wins. It’s the one that is used most advantageously. So, should the government — or some individual — even be successful at making off with someone else’s property, the neighbors would hear about it, and soon, as purely an act of self-defense, (a) the property would be back out of the interloper’s hands, and (b) the interloper(s) would no longer be around to perform such acts.

                Right now, there certainly is a problem with the government stealing people’s property using coercion by threat of, and actual use of, violence. We’d like to see that go away, though.

                1. Vigilante justice. Oooooh, sounds fun.

                  If you have that much faith in your fellow human, natural selection is out to eliminate you!

                  1. If you have that much faith in your fellow human, natural selection is out to eliminate you!

                    Since you have no trust in your fellow humans, please tell us which non, or superior humans would you trust to ‘run’ things and make them fair?

  32. I find it strange – and indicative of Reason’s open-minded policy to advertising – that the click ad at the foot of this article was for “Christian Mingle – Find God’s Match for You.” 🙂 I’m a believer, but one who gets along with an honest atheist like Gillette a lot better than with most evangelicals.

    1. Sometimes I think those ads are responding to stuff in the reason articles rather than something I searched on Google…

      I see a lot of ads here at Hit & Run asking me to make a contribution to recruit some vile Progressive candidate to run against Scott Brown…

      There’s no reason to think I support progressives–much less that I would give money to recruit some vile Progressive to run against Scott Brown.

      Other times I see stuff advertised that I was just looking at over at New Egg. It’s obviously just advertising space that Reason’s advertising–and it’s the advertisers that are hit and miss, not Reason…

      But it is odd to see Progressive advertisements on a libertarian site.

      1. With Firefox: Ad block + script blocker.

        Keep blocked:
        google-analytics.com
        typekit.com
        chartbeat.com
        googleadservices.com
        quantserve.com

        viola! No more ads.

        1. Thank you!

          1. to be specific, the script blocker add-on for Firefox is called “NoScript”

            Running a script-blocker is initially a PITA, since you have to allow your favorite sites – including on-line banking, ebay, etc – or else you will get goofy results. But once everything is in place, it fades to the background.

            1. No Script is da bomb

  33. do you believe in property rights? Then you believe in some form of governance; there are forms of force you deem legitimate and ones oyou deem illegitimate. It is unavoidable that you do have some normative belief in some kind of system of governance. The oft-repeated libertarian canard of “we don’t knopw, so we’re for doing nothing” doesn’t hold up.

    That’s really not true.

    I don’t proceed from the basis of extreme skepticism being advanced here. Rand definitely thought that you could know, and her list of personal and political virtues were things you “can” know. I tend to agree with her about the possibility of knowledge even when I disagree with her on specifics.

    But let’s take the skeptical argument and see where it goes.

    If I conclude in epistemologic terms that knowledge is ultimately not possible for Man, then if I repeat Penn’s statement that “I don’t know”, it also goes for you. I do know that you also don’t know.

    In such a circumstance, the best thing that can be done is to increase to the maximum extent possible the atomization of the realm of moral choice. In the absence of the possibility of knowledge, the best way to proceed is to limit the consequences of each individual’s possibly flawed choices to himself, to the extent that it’s possible to do so.

    I don’t see a way to do that without some kind of property rights.

    “We all are flawed, so let’s place each of us in his own asylum,” sounds like bullet point number one in an “agnostic” theory of property rights to me.

    It’s not how I would justify property rights, but it doesn’t contradict Penn’s statement.

    Property rights don’t have to be a positive statement of what we know; they can be a compensatory action for our lack of knowledge. After all, if we were in a society where no one knew how to perform a successful appendectomy, we might want to frame a law saying that no one could be compelled to have an appendectomy against their will. The creation of that “right” would be a reaction to our lack of knowledge, and not an assertion of particular knowledge in and of itself.

        1. poor spoof

          1. no its old mex soppofing me aagin

    1. If I conclude in epistemologic terms that knowledge is ultimately not possible for Man, then if I repeat Penn’s statement that “I don’t know”, it also goes for you. I do know that you also don’t know.

      Starting on pretty shaking ground here.

  34. “President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me, but no one is 2 to the 300 millionth power times smarter than me.”

    I don’t want Barack Obama or any other politician making very many decisions for me.

    Even if I thought he could make better decisions for me than I can–there’s no way to incentivize him to make my decisions for me better than I can.

    We go through this in development a lot. There’s always this fantasy that we could somehow hire someone to do construction management and other things–as well as we could–and then we could devote our time and attention to something else more productive…

    The sad fact is that it’s impossible to hire someone else to do your work for you–better than you would–if you had the time. There’s always a trade off. You always have to accept that the person you hire isn’t going to do your work for better than you would have, but the time you free up to concentrate on other things–is worth more than whatever you give up to have someone else do the work…

    The problem with abdicating our responsibilities to government is that they work on things that are too important to ever abdicate.

    For instance, there’s no situation in which politicians making decisions about how much of my future income should be squandered on government largess could be beneficial to me–to the point that it would justify offloading that choice to politicians.

    My right to bear arms, etc.–all that’s the same way. I don’t have kids yet, but when I do? The really important choices about how they’re educated–I can’t justify offloading that to a government bureaucrat overseen by a politician. Those choices are just too important to offload to someone else.

    Regardless of whether they’re capable of making better choices than I am? They’re not, but even if they were capable, there’s no reason to assume they’re incentivized to do so.

    That’s part of the reason I’m a libertarian.

    Read King Lear. It’s all in there. Abdicate my responsibilities, and there’s no reason to assume people will wield them in my best interest. …and every reason in the world to assume they’ll use my responsibilities to further whatever they think is in their own best interest instead.

    1. The sad fact is that it’s impossible to hire someone else to do your work for you–better than you would–if you had the time.

      That’s just silly. I hire people who have skills that I don’t have to do work for me BECAUSE they will do a better job than I would. People hire me for the same reason. I have a skill set they don’t have. Getting that skills set isn’t just a matter of investment of time.

      1. I hire architects and rip up their work all the time.

        I hire lawyers to write contracts for me, and the first thing I do when I get them is put red lines through them and send them back!

        Every time.

        My lawyers and architects know more about the law and architecture than I do. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t hire them.

        …but they don’t know my interests better than I do. They don’t know my deals better than I do.

        No lawyer or architect can know that you care about some things more than other things. Each of us has to look at the world from our own unique perspectives. All my lawyer cares about is the law from his perspective–but I’ve got other things I need to worry about.

        My architect may be right about how something needs to be done and how the city should handle it, but I may have a relationship with someone who works in the city–a relationship my architect’s decision might endanger.

        Nobody else in the world has my concerns. I can and do hire people to do things for me–if I’m willing to make the tradeoff. And if I get so I can trust somebody to do a really good job–worth way more than what benefit I’d get in doing the job myself? Then that guy is worth his weight in gold.

        But nobody’s ever gonna do it the way I would–and the more important the job is, the more likely I am to insist on doing the job myself.

        The jobs politicians want to do on my behalf? Are questions on things like my healthcare. Whether I can qualify for a home loan. How much money to take out of my paycheck and save for my retirement…

        I don’t want them making those decision for me–just because I’m uncertain about the future. Nobody cares exactly about what I care about in the exact same proportion–so I want to make all those choices for myself.

        1. Sure, sure, but you said “that it’s impossible to hire someone else to do your work for you–better than you would–if you had the time.” That is patently false. You may need to collaborate with them in order to make sure your specific needs are met, but for many, many tasks you need them to do the job at all. Success is not always just a matter of you putting in the time and completing the task without them. Sometimes you need their skill or knowledge.

          1. Right, but if you look at what I was responding to in what Jillette wrote, he was about his lack of knowledge being a major factor in such things…

            My lack of knowledge about whatever it is the politicians want to do–is not the major limitation.

            Just like my architect knows way more about architecture than I ever will–that doesn’t prevent me from tearing up his plans and telling him why this won’t work and that won’t work…

            It isn’t about the knowledge of architecture. It’s about my concerns–no one else can understand my concerns the way I do. With my architect, he’s not taking 50 things into consideration that I need to think about–and why would he? He’s the architect–he’s not me! How can he know what I’m concerned about until I see what he comes up with and tell him about it?

            That’s the problem with politicians making decisions for me too–regardless of whether they can have perfect knowledge or predict the future. They couldn’t possibly take all the things I’m concerned with into consideration–but when I make choices for myself?

            I can.

            That’s why I don’t want politicians making decisions for me. That’s why I want to make my own decisions. That’s why people with very low IQs and very little education are better off–generally–when they make their own choices. …instead of some politician making their choices for them.

            1. That’s the problem with politicians making decisions for me too–regardless of whether they can have perfect knowledge or predict the future. They couldn’t possibly take all the things I’m concerned with into consideration

              The even bigger problem is the assumption that those in politics would ever have your best interests at heart. The empirical evidence is that they always act in their own interests, along with those of the highest bidder.

            2. I get that.

              The issue is this, based on your example (as far as I can tell)…your concerns are met most effectively when you collaborate with your architect, not when you fire him and do it yourself. If you want to use that as an analogy for government your position seems to argue for active collaboration between government and members of society (the consent of the governed being the source of governments power and all that).

              1. Again, the point is that even IF knowledge were the issue–it still wouldn’t be enough to compete with how much better off we are when all of us are making choices for ourselves.

                There are so many people out there who imagine their own ignorance as the problem–and experts as the solution.

                And the world just doesn’t work that way.

                Your choices should be informed by the observations of experts, but we all have to make our own decisions if you want it done right.

                Don’t ever buy a stock because an expert told you it was a good idea. I’ve worked in hospitals–I know some surgeons. When you’re really good with a hammer? Every problem looks like a nail–don’t ever get surgery just because your surgeon tells you it’s a good idea. Nobody can make your quality of life decisions for you better than you can!

                And that extends to politicians. This is one of the biggest obstacles to Libertopia today–people’s beliefs that their ignorance is the problem and experts are the solution.

                If we can get average people to accept the fact that the future is unpredictable and every decision is made in the face of uncertainty–and their ignorance is not the cause of those dilemmas? Then maybe we can get them to accept the idea that politicians are not the solution to their problems.

                Everybody’s looking for somebody they trust–to tell them what to do! But nobody’s more trustworthy to make choices for you than you are.

                That’s all I’m tryin’ to say.

                1. And all I am saying is that your choices will be implemented through collaborations with others that add to your knowledge in ways that result in better outcomes for you. No man is an island, yadda, yadda.

                  1. that goes without saying. Good to have it repeated from time to time, I suppose.

                    But really, the fact that “no man is an island” is pretty well understood. 🙂

                    1. By most, yes. But see Old Mexican for a counter example.

                    2. By most, yes. But see Old Mexican for a counter example.

  35. “I don’t know” is lame. It’s what an agnostic says, not an atheist. Better to say, “There is no evidence to support your hypothesis. Prove that a god exists and I’ll believe it then.” Jillette gets around to saying that eventually, but to say “I don’t know,” in regard to the existence of a god is to abdicate one’s rational faculty.

    1. …”to say “I don’t know,” in regard to the existence of a god is to abdicate one’s rational faculty.”

      So he should pretend he knows–even when he doesn’t–just to assuage the judgement of other atheists?

      That doesn’t sound very libertarian.

      If a thing is what it is and not something else–then if the man doesn’t know, the man doesn’t know.

      1. “…then if the man doesn’t know, the man doesn’t know.”

        The point being made here is that if the man does not know, then he is not an atheist as proclaiming yourself an atheist is proclaiming that you do know the answer to “What is the nature of God?”

        1. So you’re saying that he shouldn’t say he believes in something if he feels like he can’t prove it?

          Uncertainty kinda rules in the real world, doesn’t it?

          I see the suggestion that he thinks and believes that there isn’t a God–regardless of whether he can prove that–as being nothing more than…honest.

          Again, if that’s what he believes, and that’s the way he sees it, then why should he write something saying otherwise?

          1. “So you’re saying that he shouldn’t say he believes in something if he feels like he can’t prove it?”

            No, I am saying atheism is a firm answer (even if the respondant is not 100% sure), it does not follow from “I don’t know” as it is an assertion that one does know an answer.

            1. Well, I guess atheists, like Christians, don’t always conform to our expectations.

              I will say that choosing NOT to believe in something without objective evidence is no better than choosing to believe without objective evidence.

              There’s no default rational position there.

              Internal consistency isn’t proof of anything either. Scientology and the Flat Earth Society are internally consistent for all I know!

              Atheism isn’t the only thing that people choose to believe in without objective evidence. There are a lot of things we choose to believe based on faith–some of them damn important too!

              Many of us choose to believe our spouses love us–at some point early on in the relationship. …before there’s any objective evidence to objectively prove that we’re loved. There’s some subjective evidence there, but then there’s subjective evidence for all kinds of silly things people choose to believe (or not)…

              I haven’t kept up recently, but my understanding is that there still isn’t any objective way to prove string theory. Still, there are scientists who believe in string theory–and scientists that don’t.

              Wouldn’t it be silly if the scientists who didn’t believe in string theory made fun of all the scientists who did? …just because there was no way to objectively prove string theory’s existence?

              Are scientists who believe in string theory necessarily irrational–if there isn’t yet a way to objectively prove string theory?

              1. Ken, what in the world are you talking about?

                Scientists who think string theory is correct have reasons to think so. Scientists who do not think that theory is correct have their reasons. Starting from “I don’t know” does not lead one inexorably to believe in string theory, or thinking that string theory is nonsense. All I am saying is that atheism is not an “I don’t know” answer, just Carholicism, Islam, Judaism, and Wicca are not “I don’t know” answers. Stating that you are an adherent to one of those beliefs staes that you are fairly confident you have an answer. It does not matter if you can objectively prove it.

        2. “an atheist is proclaiming that you do know the answer to “What is the nature of God?””

          No. To an Atheist, the question itself is non-sensical, since it pre-supposes that (a) there is a “God”, (b) that such “God” has a nature, and (c) that such “nature” is of the form that it can be evaluated and understood by man.

          “I don’t know” is a reasonable response to something that non-sensical (and certainly does not make some agnostic).

          A similar non-sensical question from an older time is “How many angels fit on the head of a pin?” Even an “I don’t know” response is took kind; the question itself is only meaningful to people who accept its premises.

          1. A valid answer to the question “What is the nature of God?” is “no such entity exists”, the atheist is reasonably sure that this is the answer, not “I don’t know”.

    2. Prove that that Epsilon 6 in the Andromeda galaxy exists. It doesn’t really matter if I believe in it or not, because it doesn’t drive my life. One can believe in god or not believe in him, but its the actions that come from that belief that mean something.

      1. “One can believe in god or not believe in him, but its the actions that come from that belief that mean something.”

        I’m a big believer in fallibilism, and the aspect of that which has particular relevance here is the part about how all knowledge is revisable given new and conflicting data…

        The sun has risen in the east every day for recorded history and set in the west. We used to believe the sun orbited the earth. Then new data came along…

        The belief in the idea that the sun orbited the earth wasn’t stupid–back when people didn’t have the data. But if you believed in the idea that the earth was at the center of the solar system–after you’d seen all the data to the contrary? Then that was irrational.

        Just like if new data came along showing us that the earth orbiting the sun was likewise an illusion–then going on believing what we believe now would likewise be irrational.

        That’s the other aspect of fallibilism that I hold onto–the idea that the things that are most likely to be true aren’t the things that are most plausible; they’re the things that have withstood the best and most scrutiny.

        I’m not about to knock anybody for believing in God–so long as their idea of God can withstand all the best and most scrutiny. If you believe in a God that contradicts all manner of logic and data? You may get my wholehearted laughter.

        If you believe in a God that meshes with all the data around you–and that belief gives you some kind of adaptive sense of happiness, family, tradition, belonging, etc.?

        Then your critics need to withstand some scrutiny of their own. I mean, even if you’re an atheist, you should understand religion as an evolutionary adaptation. To question the value of an evolutionary social adaptation like that–that has withstood thousands of years of scrutiny?

        That would be irrational.

        1. I mean, even if you’re a libertarian, you should understand the dictatorial state as an evolutionary adaptation. To question the value of an evolutionary social adaptation like that–that has withstood thousands of years of scrutiny?

          That would be irrational.

          1. The dictatorial state has been thrown on the ash heap of history–repeatedly.

            Hell, the nation state has only been around for a couple hundred years.

            1. In saying dictatorial state, I misspoke… as that is a redundant.

              The state–a political entity that pushes people around for it’s own benefit or the benefit of some designated class–has been around thousand and thousands of years. The state has been around as long as rationalized religion. (I will admit that cowering in fear of the thunder god is older than the state.) And states may come and go, just like religion, but the individual is ruled just the same.

              So, is libertarianism irrational for rejecting the state as it has existed for its long tradition? If not, how is religion supposedly different?

              1. Big government has existed for 6,000 years. Government is an evolutionary adaptation.

                If you look within tribal societies and how they function, it’s nothing like the nation state.

                The nation state didn’t really exist before Napoleon. …very recent history. Our culture tends to project our own conception of the nation state on whatever we’re looking at…

                It’s like those old political maps from elementary school of the American colonies, where you see 13 colonies, a French area, a Spanish area–and the rest of it all blank.

                Actually, that blank area was populated with millions of native Americans, all of whom had tribal governments–none of which were a nation state as we think of the United States today or France today.

                Government has always been with us, and some of them have been more dictatorial than others. …Sparta was more dictatorial than Athens, and Roman Empire was more dictatorial than the Republic of Rome.

                I would argue that while dictatorships may get the upper hand on occasion for a while, they’ve fallen to societies that featured another social adaptation that’s really important to me–individual rights.

                I would argue that religion was the environment in which the adaptation of individual rights coalesced in. Some religious people had this wild idea that the creator of the universe loved each of us individually so much that he let his own innocent son die so that each of us individually could be saved from death. He supposedly came to earth and said things like, “If you’ve done so unto the least of these, you’ve done so unto me.” …and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”, which is about the most concise, self-explanatory statement of libertarianism I can think of…and I think gave cultures that believed these things a distinct advantage over their competitors.

                Anyway, point being that, as RC Dean articulated, if there were any questions left after Athens bested Sparta, if there were any questions left after the Delian League bested Persia, if there were any questions left after the U.S. bested Nazi Germany–then they should have all been answered once the United States and its allies won the Cold War.

                The dictatorships of South America have largely dried up–there are some stragglers and hangers on, but I suspect they’ll find themselves on the ash heap of history too. We’ve seen dictatorships disappear in Egypt and Tunisia, and the people of Syria and Libya are fighting for their freedom.

                If I had to guess, my bet wouldn’t be on the evolutionary branch that created the dictators. …not over the long haul. Any regime that ignores the adaptation of individual rights is likely to find itself extinct. North Korea might stay like it is forever for all I know–like a duck billed platypus. But my money isn’t on that adaptation.

                1. You’re right that just because something is a social adaptation like the dictatorial nation state doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be resisted–but surely there’s no reason to say that the very existence of the nation state is irrational.

                  And that’s what I’m criticizing. Those who question the very existence of religion as irrational–because it’s religion.

                  If the person in question is religious and conscious of the criticism and adapts their beliefs within the context of science? Then there’s no reason to mock people for maintaining the traditions and cultural adaptations of their ancestors.

              2. SugarFree|8.17.11 @ 1:12PM|#
                In saying dictatorial state, I misspoke… as that is a redundant.

                Riiight…because all states are dictatorial. Cuba is the same as Canada. A state with a constitution that limits the powers of the government is no better, morally, than the arbitrary decrees of a Mao or a Stalin. Why again won’t anyone take you seriously?

          2. I mean, even if you’re a libertarian, you should understand the dictatorial state as an evolutionary adaptation.

            Millions of dead Germans, Japanese, Russians, and Chinese beg to differ.

        2. I don’t think it’s withstood the scrutiny, and something that served as adaptive in the environment in which the majority of human evolution took place is not necessarily a good thing, or even adaptive, in the modern world. It’s probably true that religion and higher reproductive rates coincide, but that’s only adaptive up until the point of a global holy war.

          1. There are other considerations.

            Language is also an evolutionary adaptation. People who could talk to each other outsurvived and outbred their competitors.

            Anthropologists talk about taboos as being adaptive.

            I see bunches of adaptive aspects of religion. Engendering a sense of community, providing a means past the trauma of losing loved ones, providing a context for sexual relationships, charity, etc., etc…

            Regardless, the fact is that if religion is an evolutionary adaptation, then it served an evolutionary function. And so long as people continue to find that it scratches those evolutionary itches, then it’s continuing to serve its evolutionary purpose.

            Criticizing people for finding some evolutionary adaption still useful–for the same things their ancestors found it useful for–across all cultures and across all of human history and pre-history?

            That’s absurd.

            1. Religion most definitely served an adaptive purpose, and probably still does. But just because something is adaptive doesn’t mean it’s something societies have to or should encourage. I don’t see how diminishing the role of religion in society will necessarily result in negative human consequences–we’ve just rarely had the opportunity in evolution to try out a secular reason-based lifestyle. I do know that encouraging religious belief can definitely lead to human costs. After all, what if one of the adaptive traits of religion is its promotion of tribalism–good for the in-group, bad for everyone else.

            2. Though I certainly acknowledge the possibility that religion cannot be eliminated and it wouldn’t be a good thing if it were. However, there is a direct correlation between prosperity in a society and a decrease in religious belief. I’d happily take both.

              1. “However, there is a direct correlation between prosperity in a society and a decrease in religious belief. I’d happily take both.”

                I don’t know what you’re referring to here specifically, but I suspect if there’s a correlation, it’s between how much GDP people spend on religion and prosperity…

                At the bottom of it though–Christmas isn’t irrational. It has religious connotations, it’s a cultural adaptation–and anyone who criticizes it as being irrational from a religious standpoint is completely missing the point.

                Is it possible to be both a rational scientist–and to still celebrate Christmas with your children?

                The correct answer is “yes”.

                1. “However, there is a direct correlation between prosperity in a society and a decrease in religious belief. I’d happily take both.”

                  Ze Russians vould beg to differ.

                  Maybe happier societies have less urgency to pray, but the causation on the non-religious leading to happiness is very obviously not evident.

                  Its textbook application of correlation /= causation.

                  1. “”However, there is a direct correlation between prosperity in a society and a decrease in religious belief.”

                    Bull
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    shit.

  36. If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever.

    1. Woody Allen can certainly testify from first-hand knowledge about underachieving.

  37. I was raised in a little uber-conservative, uber-CRC suburb. I “discovered” athiesm/agnosticism through my reading of science (thank you, Carl Sagan, you statist jerk!).

    I was (like all youngsters) rather militant in my lack of religion. It was a great way to rebel against the community I was raised in.

    But now, meh – it’s not something I get all that excited about. Many people fiend solace in the mighty-sky-god above, and even I like my religious movies (Ben Hur!) to a point. Even my ‘morality’ is still grounded in Dutch Calvinism – to a certain degree.

    Of all the Christians I do know – they aren’t very militant about it either. Even the fundies I’ve met had no strong urge to convert, so I don’t quite buy into the “OMG, Bachmann (or whoever) is going to force religion on us” arguments.

    1. Except she’s explicitly a member of the Christian dominionist movement. I agree and share your experience of having become more mellow with respect to other people’s believing in silly things, but there is a well-funded organization in this country whose purpose is to impose their idea of Christianity on the country and planet, and Michelle Bachmann is one of its foot soldiers. Belief in silly things is fun and games until it’s not.

      1. As you would say, that’s what elections are for. If she was to try some militarized conversion, I doubt it could even be implemented in a country as large as the U.S.

        Would the military or congress comply? Or the Supreme Court?

        At worst she could use the bully-pulpit of the presidency to make religious proclamations which would probably be laughed down. Or perhaps, ala GWB, do the “Thousand Points of Light” thing. But that’s hardly Iran.

      2. Sounds scary. Kinda like our president who sat in the pew of a church where the pastor preached hatred toward those of other belief structures (Jooz), other skin colors (especially whitey), and a desire to take from others (the wealthy) by force of the mob.

        Fucking double standards. How do they work?

        1. Yeah there is a difference between fundamentalist Christian dominionism and squishy social justice Christianity. And there’s a difference between being a member of a church because one has to as a politician and being a die-hard true believer. Fucking false equivalences.

          1. nuance aint the wingnutz strong suit tony

            1. “nuance aint the wingnutz strong suit tony”

              Brain-cells ain’t oo’s strong suit, either.

          2. Anything to keep sucking the Team Blue cock, Tony.

      3. “I agree and share your experience of having become more mellow with respect to other people’s believing in silly things, but there is a well-funded organization in this country whose purpose is to impose their idea of Christianity on the country and planet, and Michelle Bachmann is one of its foot soldiers.”

        I think that statement is unintentionally hilarious.

        You sound like the right wing zealots who used to come here and try to scare us back in 2004–telling us that the Taliban was gonna come take over the United States and make Jennifer wear a burqa!

        I was immune to their fear mongering then, and I’m immune to your fear mongering now.

        Fear is the mind-killer.

        1. Maybe, but some things are legitimately to be feared. The Christians have taken over a political party, have formed their own vast network of propaganda and universities, and literally want to take over the country and usher in the apocalypse. Appeals to reasonableness can be fallacious when they ignore the actual threats in the world. My hope is that the Christians are too bumbling and stupid to pull off their plan, but–and I hate to break it to you–all this current antigovernment fervor is helping their cause nicely, by legitimizing taking people off the grid (to be indoctrinated in home schools and such).

          1. Tony|8.17.11 @ 1:07PM|#
            “Maybe, but some things are legitimately to be feared. The STATISTS have taken over a political party, have formed their own vast network of propaganda and universities, and literally want to take over the country and usher in the apocalypse.”

            And shithead is happy they have guns.

            1. I’m happy secular government has more guns than religious fanatics, and always will be.

              1. Then we must round up these fanatics and sacrifice them in the soylent green factories—FOR THE PEOPLE!

              2. Yeah, beacuse government always acts for the public good, only. Like Pol Pot’s Cambodia. My God are you an ignorant tool.

                1. Governments aren’t all good, and to claim I think so is a straw man. However, religious fanaticism is always bad.

              3. Tony|8.17.11 @ 1:19PM|#
                “I’m happy government FANATICS have more guns than religious fanatics, and always will be.”

                Fixed. shithead.

          2. “The Christians have taken over a political party, have formed their own vast network of propaganda and universities, and literally want to take over the country and usher in the apocalypse.”

            But you’re not talking about what 99% of the people out there are really like when you talk about “Christians”.

            You’re encouraging people to react to a vision of “Christians” in their heads. It’s just like encouraging people to react to any other kind of stereotype!

            Some on the right use the image of Mexican gang members to try to scare people into voting for one group of candidates. The Bush Administration’s cheerleaders used the image of Muslim terrorists to try to scare people into voting for their candidates…

            Your using some weird and extreme image of Christians to try to scare people into voting for your favorite candidate is not more noble.

            Yes, there really were scary Muslim terrorists out there–but if anybody voted for the Bush Administration because they thought Al Qaeda was gonna take over American and make Jennifer wear a burqa? Then they should be ashamed of themselves!

            Anybody who votes for Obama this time around because they think Michelle Bachman wants to seize the levers of government and usher in the apocalypse?

            Should likewise be ashamed of themselves.

          3. “Maybe, but some things are legitimately to be feared. The Christians have taken over a political party, have formed their own vast network of propaganda and universities, and literally want to take over the country and usher in the apocalypse. Appeals to reasonableness can be fallacious when they ignore the actual threats in the world. My hope is that the Christians are too bumbling and stupid to pull off their plan, but–and I hate to break it to you–all this current antigovernment fervor is helping their cause nicely, by legitimizing taking people off the grid (to be indoctrinated in home schools and such).”

            If you replace “Christians” with “muslims” and “antigovernment fervor” with Arab Spring this sounds like a NeoCon wrote it.

            1. this sounds like a NeoCon wrote it.

              Or somebody equally interested in propagandizing.

              There’s profit in scaring people.

          4. “…all this current antigovernment fervor is helping their cause nicely, by legitimizing taking people off the grid (to be indoctrinated in home schools and such).”

            How dare parents prevent your ilk from indoctrinating their children by teaching them stuff the parents think is correct!

  38. A Christian speaking, all I can say regarding my faith and my political beliefs is that Jesus practiced the non-agression principle. So if you’re going to pick a religion, Christianity is the most libertarian since it’s both voluntary and focuses more on the individual than the collective.

    1. I don’t think horsewhipping merchants in the Temple really counts as non-aggression.

      1. Give him a break Pat. Jesus had a rough day at the office.

      2. Defiling his Father’s house with sin and corruption doesn’t count as aggression on the merchants’ part?

        1. It depends on the sin, big boy!

  39. I must be the mirror image of Penn Jillette. The reason I am a libertarian is the same reason I am NOT an atheist: my own experience has shown me things that nobody, no authority, and no theory or intellectual construct could possibly have known or communicated to me. Funny how we came to the same place politically.

    1. “my own experience has shown me things that nobody, no authority, and no theory or intellectual construct could possibly have known or communicated to me.”

      Well, that’s a dead-end. You think you saw or felt something and if your claim is true, there is no way to communicate that, since we communicate through physical agencies.
      Have a ball.

      1. That’s what I’m saying. I recognize and value the uniqueness of my own experience of things divine and the singular impact it has had on my values and personal choices. I have no interest in converting you to my specific point of view on this, and in fact don’t entirely think its possible. The recognition of the uniqueness of my experience and outlook in this regard is also what leads me to value libertarianism as a worldview, and the maximum space it affords for personal, individual experience, expression, and lifestyle choice. Hence, what makes me a non-atheist is the same thing that makes me a libertarian.

        1. You’re not alone around here…

          People tend to view Christianity as monolithic too for some reason, but there’s really a large portion of Christians out there who likewise struggle with doubt…

          Penn is saying, essentially, that he believes in atheism regardless of whether he can prove it–a lot of Christians on the other end of that bias scale are basically saying the same thing when they talk about “faith”.

          Like I said up yonder, uncertainty is the rule in the real world. …and agnostics don’t have a corner on the uncertainty market.

          Some people interpret “faith” as certainty in the face of facts that contradict their beliefs, but that isn’t what it is for a lot of Christians.

          I would argue that without uncertainty–there is no faith. I say that to a lot of Christians, and it can make some of them mad. But others understand what I’m saying–there has to be a category for people who believe in God in the face of uncertainty without being able to objectively prove his existence…

          …just like there are agnostics who choose to believe there isn’t a God in the face of uncertainty without being able to objectively prove his existence.

          We call atheists “agnostic” when they’re like that–but we don’t have a separate word for Christians like that.

          There are people who believe that the Earth and all life on it were created 6,000 years ago in six days–and they refuse to revise that opinion regardless of the scientific evidence stacking up against them…

          And for both a lot of charismatics and atheists, that’s the definition of Christianity and that’s the definition of “faith”.

          Then there are other Christians, who think people should treat each other like they’re worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice–regardless of whether they seem to deserve it. They take Jesus’ counsels about how we should treat each other seriously–and that is their definition of “faith”. …and that’s what they’re talking about when they talk about “Christianity”.

          Christians who struggle with their beliefs make up the overwhelming majority in this country–but they hardly get any press. …but we know they’re out there.

          Like I said up yonder too, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the most concise, self-explanatory expression of libertarianism that I’m aware of. That’s Libertopia in a nutshell for me.

          1. “And for both a lot of charismatics and atheists, that’s the definition of Christianity and that’s the definition of “faith”.”

            And yet someone else chooses to define my stand on the issue.
            Thank you Ken. And your full of it.

    2. … is the same reason I am NOT an atheist: my own experience has shown me things that nobody, no authority, and no theory or intellectual construct could possibly have known or communicated to me.

      Sorry, how is that evidence in favor of a theistic worldview? It would help if you could be a little less vague, these sorts of ineffable experiences usually boil down to “sunrises are so miraculous” or “there’s a spark of the divine in the volunteers helping the poor at a soup kitchen.”

      1. I’m no theist. But the only person that ever told me they believed, that I believed truly believed, told me that the bible says that one must come to Jesus as a child. And he admitted that is what he did. You can rail against that, but it will do no good.

        1. I like it when they come as a child.

      2. “there’s a spark of the divine in the volunteers helping the poor at a soup kitchen.”

        I initially read that as ‘soup kitten’ and was very confused.

        Of course, being one of those odd people that believes all that is divine and all that is diabolic is contained within us, I’m not sure the spark of divinity matters much. Actions will out…

    3. The Big Bang has no sizzle, its just intellectual fizzle.

      1. except for that whole expansion/ red-shift thingy going on

        1. the red shift IS the expansion

      2. “The Big Bang has no sizzle, its just intellectual fizzle.”

        Hey, mike, tell us the one about the flat earth again. Always amusing.

  40. I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe.

    Some above stated that this indicates that libertarianism is either equivalent or largely dependent upon skepticism. I don’t see it based on a fairly long history reading comments from libertarians here on H&R. Libertarianism is no more nor less skeptical than any other political world view. It just relies on a different set of faith-based assumptions. The knowledge problem is real, and I believe that the principle of individual liberty has to be kept front and center in any policy debate. But anyone who thinks that skepticism will inevitably lead to a libertarian world view is, well, not skeptical enough.

    1. People always try to take skepticism too far. Corrosive skepticism leads to inability to accept nothing as authentic, which is tantamount to nihilism. Or, at least, a hysterical non-pragmatism.

      I do think that “I don’t know the best way for people to live, therefore I won’t try and make them live anyway but how they wish” is a good self-skeptical step toward libertarianism, but it is not the end of the train of thought, it is the beginning.

      1. There’s also paying attention to the history of government failure after failure, and the insane success of a freer, more market-based system over much of the last few hundred years.

      2. People always try to take skepticism too far.

        I am skeptical that people always take skepticism too far, but I agree without your overall point. The thing about the “first step toward libertarianism” is particularly salient as that self-skepticism heads you in the direction of libertarianism, but to get to a point where you believe libertarianism is the answer, you need to incorporate some faith-based assumptions.

        So, for example, the belief that the history of government shows that freer, more market-based systems out perform the competition is not sufficiently skeptical as it is likely not to acknowledge potential limits/tipping points at which too little top-down influence may have negative results, or may not accept the possibility that some problems are best solved with behavioral restrictions rather than lifting of restrictions.

        1. you cant be skeptical about everything. otherwise you’d have to be skeptical about your own skepticism.

          at some point you have to draw a line in the sand and say ‘this is what i believe’

          1. I agree. That was kinda my original point.

    2. Re: Neu Mejican,

      It just relies on a different set of faith-based assumptions.

      Like the assumption that you should be left alone to pursue your interests, for instance. Yeah, I can see how that stems from faith…

      But not this one, I imagine: “If only the right people populate the government, we will be all better off.” That ain’t faith.

      The reason behind the principle of letting people pursue their interests is entirely based on skepticism of a person’s ability to know what others really want, Neu. That has nothing to do with faith.

      You may want to counter “Well, isn’t an article of faith to expect people to know what they want?” is a specious question, as in order to answer, YOU would have to know what someone else SHOULD want or REALLY wants first in order to evaluate the question, an assumption in itself based on belief – and a perfunctory contradiction. Unless you can tell me you can read minds.

      I am way ahead of you, Neu. Don’t even try.

      1. I am way ahead of you, Neu. Don’t even try.

        You seem to be ahead of someone else as I wouldn’t have put forth any of those assertions. But feel free to impress yourself with your ability to beat yourself up in an argument.

        1. Re: Neu Mejican,

          You seem to be ahead of someone else as I wouldn’t have put forth any of those assertions.

          Not those, specifically. I am simply illustrating the dubiousness of your whole argument.

          For instance:
          “So, for example, the belief that the history of government shows that freer, more market-based systems [outperform] the competition is not sufficiently skeptical[…]”

          Such an eloquent and, at the same time specious argument. If HISTORY is showing something (since it has ALREADY HAPPENED,) then why mention that the belief derived from this is not skeptical enough?

          If history shows that people falling from the 10th floor of a building die at impact, why would you then say that the belief derived from this [hitting the ground from that height kills] is not skeptical enough?

          Yet you offer this:
          “[…]it is likely not to acknowledge potential limits/tipping points at which too little top-down influence may have negative results.”

          May have? Potential? Isn’t THAT based on a belief that top-down impositions have at least some benefits? Otherwise there would be no point in pointing out potentially negative effects of a LACK OF TOP/DOWN control.

          Hence my sarcasm: I was showing your argument to be that more absurd.

          1. Such an eloquent and, at the same time specious argument. If HISTORY is showing something (since it has ALREADY HAPPENED,) then why mention that the belief derived from this is not skeptical enough?

            OM, even you aren’t that poor a reader. To BELIEVE that history shows X is an act of insufficient skepticism that requires FAITH in your analysis of cause and effect of the historical events. If you BELIEVE that history shows X irrefutably, then you are, probably, falling into a correlation = causation trap. When you do this you are likely to fail to acknowledge your lack of information on true cause, to ignore potential limits on your conclusion and will not acknowledge that the principle/conclusion you BELIEVE flows from the historical data may be incomplete or incorrect.

            May have? Potential? Isn’t THAT based on a belief that top-down impositions have at least some benefits? Otherwise there would be no point in pointing out potentially negative effects of a LACK OF TOP/DOWN control.

            Again, pay attention to who and what you are arguing against. I started with the premise that libertarianism is no more NOR LESS skeptical/belief-based than other political world views.

            Perhaps you should go back to arguing with yourself.

            1. Re: Neu Mejican,

              To BELIEVE that history shows X is an act of insufficient skepticism that requires FAITH in your analysis of cause and effect of the historical events.

              Maybe, and? That’s not what YOU’RE positing:

              “So, for example, the belief that the history of government shows that freer, more market-based systems [outperform] the competition”

              You’re establishing two facts: One, historical EVIDENCE, and two, a belief stemming from this evidence. Then you go around and say “well, but you have to take into account potentially negative outcomes because of a lack of so and so…” This is a specious argument! You’re sayign a person is not skeptical enough if he does not try to prove a negative! It’s like saying that the historical records clearly show the advantage for humans of cities over caves but we should be more skeptical because of the potentially negative outcomes stemming from a lack of intervention by space aliens, or a lack of Gucci handbags. Why would it be contingent upon the observer to find these negative results based on actions that did not even happen (implied by your “too little top-down influence may have negative results” comment)?

              I started with the premise that libertarianism is no more NOR LESS skeptical/belief-based than other political world views.

              That’s the problem with your argument, Neu: You tried to exemplify it using a fallacious argument.

              1. You’re sayign a person is not skeptical enough if he does not try to prove a negative!

                Nope. I am saying that a person is not skeptical enough if he believes that he has sufficient knowledge of history to conclude that result X flows from principle Y, when he may not know the impact of AB&C. (whether AB & C are positive or negative is irrelevant to the argument, and I, indeed couched the potential influence of top-down forces both positively and negatively…if I had said “fails to acknowledge the important historical facts indicating that top-down influences were essential to the success of these societies I would have been making the same argument).

                1. Really OM, you are much more effective arguing against your own army of strawmen.

                2. Re: Neu Mejican,

                  Nope. I am saying that a person is not skeptical enough if he believes that he has sufficient knowledge of history to conclude that result X flows from principle Y, when he may not know the impact of AB&C.

                  Well, we are going to be going circles forever, Neu. If you wanted to make that case, you should have instead of positing the above example.

                  whether AB & C are positive or negative is irrelevant to the argument,

                  Now we’re getting into the “you know jack shit of what you talk about” territory. It is NOT contingent upon the observer to prove negatives, YOU TWIT.

                  You may want to argue about the positives that come from government intervention, but it is illogical to argue about the negatives stemming from a lack of intervention. That requires to prove a negative.

                  if I had said “fails to acknowledge the important historical facts indicating that top-down influences were essential to the success of these societies[,”] I would have been making the same argument.

                  That’s a lie. It’s not the same argument.

                  Really OM, you are much more effective arguing against your own army of strawmen.

                  You have proven not to be any cleverer than 5 years ago, Neu.

                  1. That’s a lie. It’s not the same argument.

                    Oh but it is. Your failure to see that is one of the reasons your posts here turn into such meaningless rants.

                    1. Neu, Old….

                      Which one of you is the fuggin illegal again?

  41. Penn Jillette still is carny trash only with more money and fame.

    1. gawd i luv good carnivals & dive bars

    2. Uh, you can’t outsmart carnival folk. They’re the cleverest folks in the world. Just look at the way they sucker regular folk with those crooked games.

      1. If Homer Simpson can outsmart a carny, you can too.

  42. Um, Penn – atheists do “know”. They “know” there is no God. Granted, as a Christian, I “know” they’re wrong, but that’s beside the point.

    *Agnostics* are the ones who don’t know.

    Taking a definitive stand when you admittedly haven’t got a clue … Wow. That’s just … wow.

    Abraham Lincoln famously said. “Better to remain silent and be thought a
    fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Good advice.

    1. Atheists simply do not claim to know about the existence of deities anymore than they claim to know about the existence of any other invisible beings for which there is no evidence. Agnostics are people who some reason give more credibility to a certain fantastic claim because lots of people happen to believe in it, or something.

      1. a?the?ist: noun. a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

        ag?nos?tic: noun. 1. a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. b. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism. 2. One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.

        1. I thought that’s what I said.

          1. Nope. There’s a difference between not knowing if a deity exists, and outright denying the existence therein. In nearly every dictionary I’ve come across, atheists outright deny the existence of any deity; agnostics are the ones who shrug their shoulders. And nowhere except in your post is there any preference given to any specific deity by agnostics, which would make zero sense considering that the agnostic stance by definition is that they don’t know or are unwilling to make a stance one way or the other.

            1. “In nearly every dictionary I’ve come across, atheists outright deny the existence of any deity; ”

              You should try reading something that isn’t propaganda.

              1. That’s exactly what I have told you to do.

                1. “That’s exactly what I have told you to do.”

                  And I do mike. Tin-foil lids ain’t my style.
                  And tell us again about that flat earth; always amusing.

            2. Well, atheists deny the existence of deities to exactly the same extent they deny the existence of santa claus. There’s room for a mind to be changed with sufficient evidence. Either that’s synonymous with agnosticism or agnosticism is just what I suspect: an exception to this rule for deities. Are agnostics equally ‘agnostic’ about santa claus or any other fantastical thing?

        2. a-theism. ‘a’ – a root meaning ‘without’; ‘theism’ – belief in a god or gods. a-theist: without belief in a god or gods.

          agnosticism is not a middle ground between theism (belief in a god or gods) and atheism (lack of belief in a god or gods.)

          agnosticism is the position that one is unwilling (social retard) or unable (stupid) to assert that elves, santa claus, fairies, odin, thor, banshees, chupacabras, magic, etc. – have no present basis in fact…

          despite the fact that no evidence for any of them has yet been brought to light…

          while theism actually goes a step further and imbues ideas in this class of evidence-free concepts with belief.

          1. There are a lot of words we use in English that the literal translation has no basis in how we use it. By your logic, I’m a Native American by virtue of the fact that I was born here, and Charlize Theron is African-American even though she’s even whiter than I am.

          2. Under the true meaning of “atheist” such a person has no opinion on the existance of God?

            Riiight.

            1. Which implies that we are missing a word for someone who positively asserts that there is no God (or gods), since such a person would have a belief about God(s), they could not be an atheist.

              1. No. A belief in a god or gods is not the same as a belief about a god or gods.

                If you believe in a god or gods, this is the same as saying you think they are real, they exist, they are not myth.

                A belief about god or gods could be anything, up to and including ‘no such thing, how ridiculous’, and yet the person holding this assertive view still falls 100% into the idea of not believing in a god or gods.

                The English language, how does it work? [o O]

                Also, you should look into confidence based viewpoints. They don’t rely on belief; instead, they rely on experience and knowledge. So one may have high confidence that a situation may be close to a particular state, without assuming that it is, in fact, so and/or always so, or was always so.

                This is the basis for the true scientific outlook: confidence is adjustable according to current reality. Works a good deal better than presumptive belief, I assure you.


            2. Under the true meaning of “atheist” such a person has no opinion on the existance(sic) of God?

              Riiight.

              Another one with reading comprehension problems. No, what the word means is that an atheist holds no belief in a god or gods. They may, or may not, extend that position and assert ‘there is no god’ based on things like ‘zero evidence after thousands of years of claims’, but either way, they lack belief in a god or gods.

              Now myself personally, I think the idea of the Christian god (and the rest of the current pantheon of modern mythology) is exactly as credible as Santa Claus, elves, trolls, ghosts, the Easter bunny, banshees and so forth. And for the same reason: zero evidence. My confidence in these matters is very high, because again — no supporting evidence from the various religious communities, just empty rhetoric.

              So as you see, although I meet the metric of not holding a belief in a god or gods, I go quite a bit further and assert that the odds are not even that there is or is not such a thing; the odds enormously favor that the entire pantheon — Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc. — is myth.

              Lacking belief in a god or gods is not at all the same as ‘having no opinion’
              about the matter. It just means that one isn’t gullible, weak-minded, or fearful enough to accept fairy stories as if they were real.

              1. So, you agree that Penn Jillette’s assertion that he is an atheist because “I don’t know” is nonsense? Remember that is the starting point of this thing. If you are an atheist, you may not be 100% sure, but you have a firm opinion that there is no such thing as God(s), not you are on the fence about the matter.

                “It just means that one isn’t gullible, weak-minded, or fearful enough to accept fairy stories as if they were real.”

                Writing that means that you are an insufferably smug and arrogant prick.

                1. “Writing that means that you are an insufferably smug and arrogant prick.”

                  LOL — I’m sure it feels that way to your gullible, weak-minded, fearful self.

                  Look: is odin real? are there banshees? are fairies real? no? And why not? Because there’s no evidence… clearly this is valid grounds for establishing high confidence that they’re just stories.

                  Now, is da babby jebus real? Remember, there is NO contemporaneous evidence that such a person ever existed — only stories in a book, or mentions directly traceable to the cult that put the book together. And the book itself is really, really badly done — full of mythological nonsense, claims of magic, etc. Not to mention self-contradictory, full of goat-age reasoning and moralizing, not to mention missing a few tips (such as “wash your hands before touching any wound, assisting in birth, or having intimate relations”) that would have saved (quite) a few lives… instead, we get “don’t wear mixed fibers”, for fucks sake. And Christians think this is the actual word of gawd. Oy.

                  Now, I ask you: What possible GOOD reason is there to believe in a myth laid out in a shitily written book?

                  Reality is what it is; when you incorporate a myth into it, you’re distorting what really is out there, and in a pretty blatant manner, too. Further, you’re messing up your ability to respond to reality. So why would you do that?

                  a) You’re scared of reality – for instance, a fear of death has crippled your mental processes; you can’t consider the termination of your “self” or a relative or friend without virtually sticking your fingers in your ears. So you buy into a story that lets you imagine that there is a fairy afterlife. La la la, so-and-so is on the rainbow bridge. How pitiful.

                  b) You’re gullible – you think the myth is reality. This tends to be the domain of the under-100 IQ, but not always. I well recall the case of the phd who complained about being taken by a Nigerian email scam. Gullability is that state in which you will believe anything anyone tells you without applying your critical faculties to the claim (regardless of whether your critical faculties are well developer or not… you still have to USE them if they’re to do you any good.)

                  c) You’re weak-minded – you can’t present yourself in an honest fashion, admitting this is myth, putting yourself at odds with the vast armies of the religious. Instead, you follow the social guidelines, praying when others do, kneeling when others do, nodding when the reverend tells you the only valid form of marriage is between a priest and an altar boy.

                  d) you’re simply stupid.

                  e) FITB: you have another reason, feel free to elaborate. Calling me smug and arrogant does exactly nothing to demonstrate that I am wrong. It did, however, earn you this beatdown, delivered with some considerable amusement.

    2. Yet another Dave|8.17.11 @ 1:41PM|#
      “Um, Penn – atheists do “know”. They “know” there is no God.”

      Yp. One more superstitionist telling me what I believe.

      1. You can believe however or whatever you want or even not to believe at all, it’s a free country. When you get ready to define those beliefs, though, don’t get mad at the dictionary because the proper label doesn’t sound nearly as cool as you want it to.

        1. “When you get ready to define those beliefs, though, don’t get mad at the dictionary”

          I don’t.
          Atheist should be easy for even superstitionists to understand.
          “A” = non; the opposite of
          “Theist” = superstitionist; bleever in some sky daddy.
          So, no, I’m not a bleever in some sky daddy.

    3. Atheist began a pejorative spoken against Christians by Greeks who said that Christians abandoned the Greek gods.

      Contemporary atheism is a mind disorder and thus indicative of mental illness.

      Atheists cannot fathom a universe where they are not at the center and the most important facet of their lives and thus attack anyone or anything that threatens their existence at the center.

      Most Church Christians go about their days rarely thinking about God, even when they’re sitting on church pews lusting in their minds after the hot woman across the way with the gorgeous rack. Yet, as soon as their car breaks down or some other problem besets them, they begin to mumble to God, praying to be helped out for this one time only.

      Yet, the mind disorder suffering atheist, from the time she or he awakens to the time she or he goes to slumber obsesses about all things God. She or he hates God, conjures up silly, alternative false concepts (e.g., spaghetti monster) and broods all the day over a supposedly something that is non-existent.

      Talk about being fucked in the head — atheists.

      1. You’re hilarious, Mr. Religotard. But I fully support your choice to believe in Odin, that is, Quetzalcoatl. Er, I mean da babby jebus. Sorry, I have trouble keeping the fantasies separate, seeing as they’re all assembled from the same fictions.

      2. Um… wow.

        Not needing to believe in a god that will punish me if I misbehave means I think I’m the center of the universe. I think you’re making the classic believer assumption that all atheists are the same.

        Atheists Christians cannot fathom a universe where they are God is not at the center and the most important facet of their lives and thus attack anyone or anything that threatens their His existence at the center.
        There, FTFY.

        I’ll be over here hoping this is sarcasm that I failed to grasp.

      3. You amuse fyngyrz. Mere words whipped you into an angered response. Look at you go!

        You assumed that I’ve anything to do with religion, which reveals that you didn’t win the genetic lottery.

        I’d love to meet your mommy and daddy to see what pieces of work they must be.

        In the meantime, enjoy your mind disorder of atheism and your all-day, everyday full-on obsession with all things God.

        1. “I’d love to meet your mommy and daddy to see what pieces of work they must be.”

          Now were getting close to what brain-dead bleevers think constitutes “evidence”.

      4. “Atheists cannot fathom a universe where they are not at the center and the most important facet of their lives and thus attack anyone or anything that threatens their existence at the center.”

        Amazing!
        One of the MOST upside-down, backward, opposite-of-fact comments I’ve EVER read!
        You are to be commended on the depths of your stupidty or you sophistry!

  43. I am voting this better than last nights troll thread. OM takes an early lead beating up dipshit#1, religious threads are always fun, Ken Shultz brings up the rear with some nice WOT, and we hit the troll-o-max jackpot…ohh, and SF looms large.

  44. Assuming we need God to be in charge of the universe is not much different from assuming we need the president in charge of the economy.

    1. Well, not exactly; if the president disappeared tomorrow and never reappeared, the economy would go on.

      1. The world goes on without God.

        1. That entirely depends on what you think the nature of God is. If you believe in a watchmaker God who made the universe but left it ticking away. Another possibility is the creation equires a continuous act of will on the part of God to keep the universe going. Of course, if you belive there was no God involved to begin with the question is moot.

      2. The world goes on without God.

        1. And the world can go on without the state.

  45. Penn Jillette On Attack Of The Show Talks About New Book, God, No!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9V1ClpXhoo

  46. Re: Edwin,

    no, what’s clear is that neither position is some magical default of the human condition, so you’d both be proposing some system of governance.

    I don’t understand this nonsense. Who is “you”, in the first place?

    The people who believe in proportionate response defense would say it is anybdy’s right to arrest the shooter and try him and imprison him

    That may be so, and?

    the people who believe the shooter had the right to shoot would say anybody has the right to stop the proprtionate-response people or person from arresting him in the first place

    I believe you tried to write: “People who agree with shooting the trespasser believe shooting a trespasser is the proper response.”

    It is possible some people think this. What does this tell you about trespassing on people’s lawns, Edwin? Do you want laws to tell you how much trespassing is OK, or would you prefer to think it is NEVER OK to trespass into someone’s property?

    Why would YOU need laws? Regardless of what people do to trespassers, what is the purpose of laws for you: to stop others from trespassing on YOUR lawn, or for YOU to know just how much you can get away with when it comes to other people’s property?

    In my case, I don’t need laws: I already know it is NOT OK to trespass into other people’s property, and I make sure other people know it is not ok to trespass on mine – my two friends, Smith and Wesson, make sure of that.

    you both have normative statements about how the world should be governed

    They’re not rules of governance – you’re equivocating, you numbskull.

  47. Oh, and for the other numskull, the sockpuppet:

    When YOU establish the parameters for your argument regarding liberty vis a vis government, you cannot then turn around and argue that *I* am defining liberty in terms of government when I offer a counter. YOU placed the parameters, NOT I. You’re not only an idiot, you’re a dishonest idiot.

    1. I assume you’re referring to me. (I do have a name.)

      You quite clearly define meaningful freedom as only freedom from government. Either that, or you acknowledge the other impositions on freedom that exist apart from government, but either don’t think those impositions are a problem, or think magic will get rid of them.

      1. Re: Sockpuppet,

        You quite clearly define meaningful freedom as only freedom from government.

        I didn’t, YOU DID:

        “The optimum of individual liberty does not lie at either the extreme of totalitarianism or the extreme of anarchy, but somewhere in between.

        The “somewhere in between” those two parameters is GOVERNMENT.

        Go fuck yourself, sockpuppet.

        1. I feel it necessary to tell you that your vulgarity and name calling only paints you as someone trying to distract from his weak arguments by lashing out.

          Anyway, that’s not how I define freedom, and if you define freedom as something other than “absence of government,” I’d love to hear your explanation for how to secure that freedom for individuals, absent government.

      2. “(I do have a name.)”

        Yes.
        Shithead.

  48. What does it matter?

    Computers will run everything soon.

  49. You may want to argue about the positives that come from government intervention, but it is illogical to argue about the negatives stemming from a lack of intervention.

    You may want to argue about the positives of a freer society, but it is illogical to argue about the negatives stemming from lack of freedom.

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