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Pettifoggery

by Andrea Elizabeth

Ben Shapiro did not like Justice Roberts’ admonition for both sides to speak respectfully, but I think the Chief Justice could have been exemplifying how to get your criticisms in under the table. Using the insult “pettifogging” as an untoward example could have meant that he was saying you can’t directly accuse the left of pettifogging even if they are. Pettifogging means ” to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters. ” This bilateral rebuke enabled him to appear nonpartisan and above the fray while signaling his opinion of the case, which I would agree with a la my last post.

Who’s unAmerican

by Andrea Elizabeth

A picture says it all. After listening to both sides off and on all day yesterday, I believe the two sides are represented by their tables. One a jumbled, disorganized mess that no one would want to sort through, despite pundits on CNN and MSNBC saying that if you don’t piece it together yourself, you’re not engaged enough, and therefore unAmerican. The other table – a clear message that they’re disgusted by the other table’s unAmerican messiness.

Joker

by Andrea Elizabeth

I finally felt I could handle watching Joker so I did and just listened to Jonathan Pageau’s response to it, which has lots of spoilers.

I like how Pageau points out the breaking of types in the film. I thought the film also did a good job profiling mental illness. The most common worry about the film is that it may portray Joker too much as a victim. The film addresses this in Robert De Niro’s character, the talk show host, which I will not give away.

More than an expose of mental illness, I think Joker points out the places all of us go in our minds, and the presuppositions we all have. The first presupposition I noticed in the Joker was when he thought his boss would relate to him as a victim of crime, and he was surprised when his boss did not, and instead thought he was weird and a problem. The second was that De Niro would treat him as he imagined a father figure would, with love and understanding, and would have his back and even admire how he spent his life. Instead he made Joker a laughing stock.

The film points out many other people who mostly unwittingly contributed to Joker’s alienation. Back to mental illness. There are stereotypical behaviors that are taboo, that many people are not aware that they are doing. These taboos seem obvious to the right people, but a missed by the wrong people, thus the right people think of the wrong people as them and not us. What if this lack of self-conscious awareness of taboos is the basis of sinful behavior in everyone. Where you are being guided by reactions that should be normal, but end up not being. Food is the most nutritious object of these misguided, unbalanced actions. Self defense is another. You could say that Joker finally felt able to defend himself against all the threats to his pursuit of happiness when he got the gun. Perhaps the internet is a similar weapon to many people who do not feel that they have been listened to before. These people probably see themselves as victims, and now they have an audience. And they probably fantasize, like Joker, that the right people are listening and admiring them. When people transgress the line in this manner, it’s like they’re caught up in their dream, and loose self-awareness.

John Vervaeke talks about the advent of Socratic self-awareness where you gain the ability to remove yourself from your experience and see it more objectively. It has occurred to me in thinking about this movie that the flow state that he also talks about as the optimal experience, is not self-conscious. It’s when you are responding to stimuli with abandon. It’s when you’re in the zone without the inhibiting second thought. That’s what we want, and that’s what Joker gave into. But it’s also how we’re naturally supposed to be, but we’re not allowed because like Joker, we get it wrong. We say the wrong things, eat the wrong foods, sleep too late, play too many video games, and fall in love with the wrong people at the wrong time. It’s sad when you think your reactions are good and natural and then find out they’re not.

I don’t think Joker thought there was something wrong with him. He was mostly wanting someone to relate to him as a fellow human being. If there is a criticism of society, it was repeatedly pointed out how many people weren’t listening to him. The closest two were the mental hospital records clerk, who started out listening, but then got freaked and shut down and passed the buck telling him to talk to a professional, which he’d already tried. De Niro listened pretty well after he found out Joker got a positive response from the video where he ridiculed him, but that was too late, and for a self-promoting reason. He’d already showed his opinion.

So in that Joker was too caught up in his own personal experiences, he is not a victim. Insofar as he had many reasons to feel alienated, he is a victim. So is it realistic to expect alienated people to alienate themselves from themselves to keep from “acting out”? Are there legitimate cases of disadvantaged people whose experience is too terrible, especially when accompanied by other mechanical difficulties that keep them from being able to be objective about these things, or forgiving, or thankful for the nice things, like some of the decorations in his apartment?

Perhaps Joker is a sympathetic character because no one was listening to him, or at least that’s how he felt. But I also know there are manipulative, narcissistic people that people are advised not to listen to. Hmmm. I think they are liars though. I may have to watch Joker again to see if he is a liar. I don’t think so, even though he was deluded, mostly by his mother’s deluded narrative.

Noah’s Ark

by Andrea Elizabeth

I was raised to believe, or at least believing, that Genesis provided a literal accounting for our ever modern world. Now that I’ve been old earth with a few years providing a little distance, “ever modern” is something I hadn’t thought about. If creation was 5000 years ago, then there really isn’t any such thing as pre-modern, except for before the fall and then salvation. Anyway.

I believed all the animals’ and people’s ancestors were on the ark. Most of the Baptist type illustrations include lions and tigers. I don’t think they include jaguars or domestic cats. If the ark included all the kinds of felines alone, it would be pretty full. When you’re a child or distracted adult you don’t question it.

Becoming and old earth creationist where fossils indicate death before the flood, and that there were numerous floods and other disasters, who knows how regional, through time, changes how you hear the stories. Maybe it’s good to have a simple narrative to believe as a child. Jordan Peterson thinks Bible Stories are psychologically brilliant. Maybe the ark represents how God created, intervened and orchestrated things through time. I edited out “to achieve his purposes” because of Calvinist baggage. Maybe all the deists, and even Jordan Peterson types (“life finds a way” – Jurassic Park) can find a way to believe in that.

Essentialism

by Andrea Elizabeth

I thought I had posted this earlier today. It goes before my latest post.

Chapter 1, part 2 of Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth

Surprisingly, Dawkins does not blame religion for evolution’s slow emergence. He blames Plato’s Essentialism, which is the belief that things are imperfect instances of their perfect forms. Thus individual rabbits are instances of essential rabbitness. Children are natural essentialists. Evolution flies against it as it posits that all things are fluidly shape shifting into something else, and that they aren’t part of any stable, creaturely telos.

He goes on to state that the common ancestor of rabbits and leopards was a “shrew-like animal we’ll call the ‘hairpin bend’. We don’t know what it looks like, but it follows from the evolutionary view that it definitely had to exist.”

You just lost me. Again, the mythical common ancestor supported by circular logic comes to the rescue.

To me Plato formulated (haha) the notion, but surely this is how the writers of Genesis (Great Courses influences me again. I am fine with it just being Moses though) conceived animals, as instances of stable creatureliness where animals reproduce only their own kind.

How species change

by Andrea Elizabeth

Chapter 2 of Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth

He takes great pains to exemplify and explain the following:

Artificial Selection is when humans breed plants and animals for favorable characteristics. He says that everyone understands humans bred domestic dogs from wolves.*

Sexual Selection occurs when breeding partners are chosen for having the most desirable characteristics.

Natural Selection is when species inadvertently have traits that suit their environment better than others survive. It is sometimes called Survival of the Fittest, but this can be misunderstood to refer to health rather than a trait like a particular angler fish having more appetizing looking fake bait.

We have enough records and memory to realize that traits within a species can change in a generation. I wish evolutionists would not spend so much time talking about the changes that take place within a species and then assume everyone will see how this is the same mechanism for one species turning into another species.

*False confidence in his assertions again. The relationship to the Grey Wolf and the first instance of a domestic dog is controversial, as well as when domestication occurred. From Wikipedia:

The dog and the extant gray wolf are sister taxa as modern wolves are not closely related to the wolves that were first domesticated, which implies that the direct ancestor of the dog is extinct.” And

“The genetic divergence between dogs and wolves occurred between 40,000–20,000 years ago, just before or during the Last Glacial Maximum. This timespan represents the upper time-limit for the commencement of domestication because it is the time of divergence and not the time of domestication, which occurred later.

They keep searching mitochondrial dna to prove direct ancestry, and I have not seen any evidence where they’ve found the ancestral progenitor that gave rise to two separate species. And they’re getting better at extracting dna from older and older specimens. This reminds me of the search for life on other planets. When they didn’t have the technology, they were much more confident in their mathematical probabilities than they are now that they can actually look more places.

I am not saying wolves and dogs do not all have the same common ancestor. It is not the stretch that saying we and cactuses do is, but I don’t know.

The Greatest Show on Earth

by Andrea Elizabeth

I chose to read, or start reading, The Greatest Show on Earth, the Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins on Audible because 1, of the recommendation to read people you don’t agree with, 2, because Goodreads said it was one of the best books on evolution, and 3, because I don’t have to pay extra for it as we have a subscription to Audible. Hopefully Dawkins gets a flat fee from Audible and does not receive royalties for downloads.

So here goes. Chapter 1. In my experience vilifying people who disagree with you is not persuasive among logical types who tend to vilify guilt trippers and shamers. I regret that peer pressure of this sort is effective all too often. Thus Richard Dawkins begins Chapter 1 of his self proclaimed airtight proof-book that evolution is a fact. In this chapter he unsubstantially says that people who do not ascribe to evolution are comparable to holocaust deniers, and by implication are anti Semite, and so he’s already pretty much played the Hitler card. He asserts there is more proof for evolution than for the holocaust, without laying any qualifying proofs out yet. This is a rabbit trail because to compare these fairly you would have to go into statistics about the reliability of memory, and then relevant archeology, which is a different science than biology because it involves human-directed activity rather than purely physical processes, especially if undirected by a supernatural creator.

In an effort to sound slightly less insulting he decides to call Creationists “History Deniers” and the “40 Percenters”.

He then laboriously explains the two definitions of Theory where one is a system holding other known systems together, and the other is an educated guess (hypothesis, speculation, conjecture). He again insults Creationists by saying they perhaps unknowingly or mischievously take refuge in the second definition.

I agree with this statement on evolution: “by generally informed consent it is a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles or causes of something known or observed.” This is the only statement he’s made so far that is obviously true as I have heard elsewhere that “90% of scientists agree” (many of the more specific statements about how evolution works are controversial among believing scientists). But consent does not make something true, as today’s politically polarized climate makes clear. Additionally, universally held beliefs get disproven or disbelieved all the time, like the one-galaxy theory until Hubble disproved it, and polytheism. Furthermore, there is consensus that Dawkins is way too insulting to deists in general (The God Delusion), though he seems in this book to relish that many deluded Christians are evolutionists.

He also says that evolution is closer to a theorem than a theory, such as reliable mathematical theorems, rather than conjecture. He admits that scientific theorems cannot be proven in the same way that mathematical ones are in that they cannot be directly observed to be consistently true in the same (I’ll say controlled) way. “But common sense” – ah there you go. Common sense isn’t always so common. However, most scientific theorems can be “proved” based on experimentation, such as verifiable rocket trajectories accounting for multiple gravitation from different directions, etc. So far I haven’t heard of any such verifiable experiments proving evolution, but so far I’m willing to give him a chance. His insults indicate an emotional problem, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his science is bad. I think it will make him have to work harder though, as Trump’s poorly worded statements are so off putting that they make him have to work harder to prove his competence. I’m capable of separating the two.

I agree with Dawkins however that Young Earth Creationism requires a massive “confidence trick” on the behalf of a creator. Conversely, since he says that the earth being round and photosynthesis are also theorems, he is also implying that Creationists are on par with flat earthers, with which I do not agree. Intelligent Designers and Old Earth Creationists do not deny, nor are ignorant of physical science, as it seems many young earthers do/are. I was a young earther before the Great Courses Geology class taught by the agreeable and non-alienating Mr. Michael Wysession. The White Cliffs of Dover episode was my turning point. They are made of tiny little creatures whose fossils were deposited in a shallow sea over obvious millennia. They are too small to create such high cliffs in a few thousand years. I was ignorant of how stratifications were made and how they aged before then. Having God use natural processes in setting the stage for life-bearing is more impressive to me now than simply wand waving. Old Earth Christian evolutionists project this admiration of process onto life and speciation too, but I very strongly differentiate between the chemical processes, however God directed them, that support life, and the introduction of the first organisms and later species. 1, I’m not impressed with the speciation or origination explanations I’ve heard so far, and 2, I think they are degrading to both “lower” and “higher” life forms. Each species is very complicated and built to thrive until it can’t anymore for either predetermined or resurrectional reasons. Probably both reasons. They are not stepping stones in the same way. Saying something is less evolved is different than saying something is not as complex. “For the benefit of humans” is a difficult statement for evolutionary and determinist Christians to defend without devaluing the ones who came before or worked for your benefit. Compatibilism sounds nicer, but that’s another rabbit trail.

I’m about halfway through the chapter, and this post is long, so I’ll divide it up. He’s about to explain what a fact is, and I agree with his earlier statement that some philosophers go too far in their relativism in saying there aren’t any reliable facts, and that you can’t prove any memories or thoughts weren’t implanted there 2 seconds ago.

Blind faith in the common ancestor

by Andrea Elizabeth

The undiscovered common ancestor in speciation is a mathematical construct based on mutation rates of genes. They always revise these when dating of real fossils of supposed divergent species like Neanderthals and humans contradict their time frame.

See this article: Humans and Neanderthals Evolved from a Mystery Common Ancestor, Huge Analysis Suggests

So many contradictions in this article to the simplistic fairy tale of evolution.

False equivocation

by Andrea Elizabeth

They talk about the dramatic genetic mutations involved in immunity and viruses, but these are highly specific instances. Animals and plants do not morph in the same way. We are not viruses. It’s easy to understand why they do not attribute a different mechanism since they believe all life is an evolved bacteria cell.

The rub

by Andrea Elizabeth

This is the basic problem evolution doesn’t solve: great numbers of new traits requiring new genes appear suddenly in the fossil record. Old assumptions of slow adaptation and mutation cannot account for them, and are now being proved false by new ancestral dna studies.

Previous “genetic proofs” regarded similarities in the coding for specific structures across organisms, such as is found with bone cells. There is no genetic proof of inherited kinship among differing species such as is found in maternally inherited mitochondrial dna, or the paternally inherited Y chromosome.