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Date: 2005/10/11 17:04:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Where did you get the idea that the majority of the matter in the universe is helium? Last time I checked, maybe 25% of the normal matter in the universe was helium. If you include dark matter, it's more like  a quarter of a percent.

Date: 2005/10/11 17:20:05, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Wow, I just read the rest of this thread (unfortunately after I posted). Is this evopeach dude for real? No helium created except immediately after the big bang (and before the hydrogen)? What does he thinks gets produced during nucleosynthesis?

I took an undergraduate survey course in astronomy 12 years ago and even I know how clueless this guy he any better in biology than he is in astrophysics?

Date: 2005/10/11 20:08:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I'm still shocked that even an engineer would think the universe is mostly helium. Even after posting a link to an article that quite clearly states that the primordial H/He ratio was approximately 9/1 (with a few trace elements thrown in for variety). Did he read his own link?

This guy's a joke, right? A pro-evolution guy just having some laughs at our expense?

(And not that there's anything wrong with being an engineer.)

Date: 2005/10/11 20:33:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (American Saddlebred @ Oct. 11 2005,16:38)
If I say, "there have been no Cadillacs made in the last 20 years" and proceed show you a blue book from 1983, I am right.  So in one sense you are right in saying "there are no transitional fossils" so long as you plug your ears and jump up and down saying "thats laughable no transitional fossils."

I just went through this with this guy on Telic Thoughts who insisted that there is absolutely no evidence whatsover to support the notion that whales could have evolved from land mammals. I sent him this link, which you would have thought would have shut him up, but no. He never even acknowledged that he'd read it. He continued to insist there was "no evidence."

The same thing went on and on over half a dozen topics. He'd claim there was "no evidence" that random mutation and natural selection could have driven evolution, that there was "no evidence" that life could have arisen from pre-biotic precursors, etc. etc. etc. For every claim he made, I provided a link demonstrating in detail how his claim was mistaken. Did it make any difference?

Of course not.

After a while, it stopped being fun.

Date: 2005/10/12 06:13:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I'm used to the ID supporters being pretty ignorant when it comes to science, but this guy (does he really have a degree in engineering?) kind of takes the cake.

I'm starting to think that evopeach really does have helium in his brain...

Date: 2005/10/12 08:24:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
After reading a few of evopeach's posts here, I wonder why anyone bothers responding to his posts. It basically has the effect of seriously degrading the S/N ratio of the discussion.

I've had some experience attempting to have a constructive debate with these guys who make ludicrous claims like there's a complete absence of transitional forms, there's absolutely no evidence for evolution, there are no examples of sub-optimal design, etc. etc. etc. Presenting them with evidence of their errors makes no impression; they either ignore your evidence, claim you don't understand the debate, change the subject, or just call you names.

It's entertaining for a while, but then it starts to get tedious.

Date: 2005/10/12 09:53:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 12 2005,13:49)


I have no more time to waste with this group of brainwashed true believers.

Somehow, evopeach, I don't think this is going to be your last post.

But in any event, given your ignorance of even the most obvious facts in general science, your opinions on any aspect of evolution are pretty suspect, to put it mildly.

It's easy to say you've read all the critiques of ID. It's another thing entirely to explain why they're all wrong. That's a challenge I'm convinced you're simply not up to.

Date: 2005/10/12 11:25:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I think you may have misinterpreted my post, which was directed to evopeach. I agree with you completely that it's up to ID apologists like evopeach to explain why virtually the entire scientific community is wrong in thinking the new synthesis of neodarwinian evolution and genetics is up to the task of explaining the evolution of life. So far they've failed spectacularly to do so. Generally their response to critiques of ID is, "yeah, I've read that, and it's crap."

There's this one guy on telic thoughts who does that. I gave him 5,000 words (with extensive references) on why IC, CSI, and the EF have all been thoroughly discredited as  supporting a design inference. His response: "Your arguments weren't any good."

Date: 2005/10/12 12:43:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Would you care to elaborate on your hypothesis that DNA ingested, and subsequently digested, by one organism somehow ends up in the germ cells of that organism?

I know I'm wasting my time engaging in discussions with someone so obviously ignorant of the simplest principles of biology, but hey -- it's a slow day at work.

Date: 2005/10/12 12:57:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Wow. I just read the paper you linked to, and I'm trying to remember the last time I saw someone so completely misrepresent the content of a paper (I work for a law firm and read a lot of legal briefs, so it's not something I'm unfamiliar with).

I'd like to see your "dozens of papers" that show how the consensus phylogenetic tree is completely wrong. I wonder if you have any understanding at all of how phylogenetic trees are constructed by reference to independent evidence from multiple lines of research. I'm going to go way out on a limb and guess that the concept is entirely foreign to you.

It's fascinating to watch these ID apologists flail around with their wild-ass critiques of evolution.

Date: 2005/10/12 15:53:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Where did I say I was a lawyer?

You take a paper that points out some problems with relying on whole-genome comparisons of a small number of taxa in developing a phylogenetic tree, and try to stretch that to support the contention that the whole idea of a phylogenetic tree is fraudulent. That's what we in the business call "misrepresentation." Maybe even "fraudulent misrepesentation," if it can be shown that you knew your argument was wrong when you made it. So that you can get a clue as to how wrong you are, try following this link. If you weren't so wedded to your thesis that evolution is bunk, it would probably give you something to think about.

So your idea is that the simplest eukaryotes evolved to, e.g., primates based on horizontal gene transfer? Sounds like there are more than a few minor details to be worked out.

The funny thing, Paley, is that I have absolutely no training in the biological sciences at all, and yet even I can see where your arguments have gone completely off the tracks. It gives me some idea of how well your arguments would go over with real scientists.

Date: 2005/10/13 06:17:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (GCT @ Oct. 13 2005,09:58)
From the Academic Credential thread, Evopeach wrote:
One more time for Eric and Julie who apparently can't read. I never, never implied that Helium was the [most] abundant element in the universe except for the first moments in the BB theory and that is a matter of accepted theory unless you are one of the attendant idiots who believe that a proton is the same thing as a hydroden atom because electrons are not part of atoms and are actually illusory non-existant and unimportant particles.


I can read just fine, and you're still wrong. Helium was never the most common constituent in the universe. Not at the big bang, not immediately after the big bang, not thousands of years later, not now. There were no atoms of any kind until after the surface of last scattering, ~300,000 years after the big bang, and at that time, the most common atom was hydrogen, not helium.

Get a popular text on cosmology or astrophysics (Steven Weinberg's "The First Three Minutes" would be a good place to start), learn something about elementary astrophysics, and then maybe you can start talking intelligently about it. A few years later, you might be ready to start talking about evolutionary biology.

Date: 2005/10/13 08:03:23, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Is plate tectonics "not science" because it can't be observed, can't be duplicated, and isn't experimentally reproducible?

You seem to think that astrophysics is science. Can primoridal nucleosynthesis be reproduced in the lab? Can we observe the first three minutes of the existence of the universe in the lab? How do we know hydrogen and helium were created in the first few minutes after the big bang? No one was there to witness it.

As it happens, evopeach, evolutionary biology uses the same techniques any historical science, like geology or cosmology, uses to draw inferences about the past from evidence available in the present. These kinds of arguments are so utterly vacuous it's simply breathtaking that ID apologists like yourself continue to use them.

Date: 2005/10/13 09:14:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy

"...the actual element fromed [sic] by the fusion of two protons and and two electrons"? What the #### are you talking about? Protons and electrons don't "fuse" to form anything other than neutrons.

A helium nucleus is formed from two protons and two neutrons, not two protons and two electrons. Electrons could not have become captured by any nucleus until after the universe cooled sufficiently, i.e., after the surface of last scattering. After that time, electrons could be captured by nuclei to form atoms, and guess what? 90% of those nuclei were hydrogen nuclei, i.e., protons. In other words, there has never been a time in the history of the universe when helium was the predominant form of matter. And that doesn't matter whether you're talking about helium nuclei or helium atoms.

Your argument is so goofy that in the words of Wolfgang Pauli, "it's not even wrong."

Helium serves absolutely no role in the evolution of life whatsoever. It's a trace element on earth. It's the most inert element in the periodic table. You've painted yourself into a corner, and being too stubborn to admit you're wrong, even when corrected over and over again, you're basically trapped.

Date: 2005/10/13 10:02:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Two protons and two electrons do not "fuse" to create a helium atom. That's exactly what you said, and it's exactly wrong. I didn't just read what you said; I quoted it. Are you saying the copy and paste function on my computer isn't quoting you accurately?

And if you'd read past my opening paragraph you might have noted that it doesn't matter whether you're talking about atoms or nuclei. Either way you're wrong.

You're waiting for a step-by-step process from "hydrogen and helium" to the human brain? What kind of idiot thinks the human brain evolved from helium? Helium has nothing to do with it.

It's absolutely typical of a creationist to expect science to come up with a step-by-step, play-by-play chronology of evolution from the original quark soup to the human brain. Meanwhile, what is ID creationism's step-by-step chronology of how we got from helium to the human brain?

Date: 2005/10/13 10:07:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy

The evidence for neodarwinian evolution is just as compelling, just as logical, and just as irrefutable as the evidence for plate tectonics. The difference is, neodarwinian evolution threatens your worldview in a way plate tectonics doesn't.

Your argument isn't even an argument from incredulity. It's an argument from deliberate blindness.

Date: 2005/10/13 12:27:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
This is exactly why it's a waste of time arguing with people like you, evo. You ignore evidence you don't like. I could give you links to articles presenting plausible pathways from abiotic beginnings to the first precursors to life, but it won't matter. You'll dismiss them out of hand.

Your whole argument about how abiogenesis is impossible can be characterized as "Lies", Damned Lies, and Statistics."

The evidence for evolution is a bit more extensive than reference to a few bone fragments. The evidence for common descent with modification might be characterized as mountainous.

And I can't fail to note that you have proposed no alternative theory explaining the rather obvious fact that life does actually exist. Did god "poof" it into existence?

You can't make an entire theory out of criticisms of another theory. If you think "God (or some other supernatural entity) did it," good luck coming up with an explanation for how he (or it) did it.

Date: 2005/10/13 12:36:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Too late, evo.

Do the names Miller and Urey mean anything to you?

And while you're pondering that, would you care to enlighten us dunderheads with your theory for how life came to be? Does it have anything to do with the waving of giant, Anglo-Saxon hands over the recently-created primordial seas?

You might not like my theory. But at least I have a theory. You seem to be conspicously empty-handed in that department.

But I'm glad you've finally decided that there is no helium in the human brain...well, at least not in most human brains.

Date: 2005/10/14 06:05:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I'll extend you the courtesy of assuming you've actually read the links I've provided. Your next assignment is to show me, in detail beyond "they're all just crap," exactly why you think they're crap. So far you haven't said anything that leads me to believe you have a single scrap of an argument to rebut anything in either of those links.

Until you've done that, I think I can safely ignore your rants.

Date: 2005/10/14 07:43:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I wasn't aware that it was necessary for me to state that I'm not a lawyer. I thought that if I didn't claim to be a lawyer, it would be assumed that I'm not. You don't claim to be a scientist, so I don't assume you are one.

The cumulative weight of evidence is that the consensus phylogenetic tree is by and large accurate. Given the immense number of possible phylogenetic trees (for 30 taxa the number is on the order of ten to the thirty-eighth power), the fact that there's any consistency whatsoever in the trees derived from independent sources of evidence has to be seen as one of the crowning achievements of the human intellect. Your conclusion isn't sane; it's completely wacky.

Evidence from multiple confirming lines of research isn't "speculation," it's confirmation. If one line of evidence is in conflict with converging conclusions for the other ten or so lines of evidence, we can be reasonably certain that there's an error in the methodology. If you're using Cepheid variables to work out the hubble constant, and one Cepheid variable tells you that an obviously distant galaxy is located within the milky way, there's obviously something wrong with the distance value for that one star. This is elementary scientific methodology.

So I'm afraid one paper ain't gonna do it. One study that comes up with erroneous conclusions shows an error in the methodology, not an error in the theory. You're going to have to show me how the multiple lines of inquiry do not converge on one phylogentic tree, and I already know you can't do that.

Date: 2005/10/14 07:50:10, Link
Author: ericmurphy

A couple more points. Pointing to numbers of proteins isn't going to get you far, because gene/protein analysis is only one of dozens of converging lines of evidence for the consensus phylogenetic tree. Citing protein-sequencing data from 1991 will get you even less far.

The exact configuration of the phylogenetic tree will probably never be established for every single organism (we don't even know how many species currently exist, let alone the immensely larger number that have ever existed), given the astronomical numbers of possible trees. Pointing to this or that controversy as to where exactly a given organism gets slotted into the organizational structure will get you exactly nowhere. When you can find a bat that is more closely related to birds using more than just protein analysis than it is to other mammals, then you'll be getting somewhere.

Date: 2005/10/14 11:12:37, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 14 2005,09:11)

Urey and Miller are quite familiar as one of the many totally discredited origin of life experimenters like Fox whom I believe has noe gone over to the spacecraft crowd or perhaps the everpopular life force cult.

Evo, the more you type, the more wrong you get.

Miller and Urey have hardly been "totally discredited." Using more realistic assumptions about pre-biotic conditions, subsequent researchers found that while amino acids might not have formed in quite the abundances Miller and Urey found, they were still quite plentiful.

But I find myself asking why I bother trying to debate a guy who simply cannot admit that he's wrong when he says helium, in any form, was ever more prevalant than hydrogen, in any form. Even when you show him the error he made reading his own links, he still doesn't think he was wrong.

Date: 2005/10/14 11:24:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy

You've entirely missed the point. The phylogenetic tree isn't only mapped out by genetic and protein analysis. Those two are only two of dozens of different techniques for deriving the same tree. Other, independent lines of evidence have nothing to do with analysis of one gene, or many genes. That's why they're called "independent." And guess what? They all converge on the same tree.

I think you need to read Theobald a little more closely.

How does Cytochrome c show humans diverging from mammals before kangaroos, when humans and chimps share exactly the same cytochrome c? And why are you citing studies from 1973? And you talk about the difference between five genes and 20 genes as  if it were significant. How many genes do humans possess? 20,000?

You can't cite a single study (or even a handful of studies) that are out of step with literally thousands of other studies to show that an entire body of knowledge is incorrect. Do we have zoologists out there contending that starfish are more closely related to humans than they are to sea urchins? Or monkeys that are more closely related to  birds than they are to goats?

If you think that, all by yourself, you're going to convince the scientific community that the consensus phylogenetic tree is a hoax, you're hallucinating.

Date: 2005/10/17 12:37:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Oct. 17 2005,10:32)
You can't cite a single study (or even a handful of studies) that are out of step with literally thousands of other studies to show that an entire body of knowledge is incorrect.

 Perhaps not. But what _is_ the consensus tree, and what are the studies that rigorously support it? The zoologists seem just as clueless as the molecular biologists.....
If you think that, all by yourself, you're going to convince the scientific community that the consensus phylogenetic tree is a hoax, you're hallucinating.

 Well, isn't this reversing the burden of proof? Shouldn't the scientists give a convincing tree in the first place? Instead of one cobbled together from a single protein.....

Bill, Bill, Bill,

You're still failing to divine my meaning. You cannot construct an entire phylogenetic tree from the analysis of any one protein, and you probably can't do it from any group of a dozen proteins, either. Which actually argues for evolution more than ID, because the reason you run into problems with protein analysis all by itself is because of the random nature of genetic mutations. Humans, chimps, and guinea pigs all lack a functional gene for ascorbic acid. Does this means that humans are most closely related to chimps and guinea pigs? No. It means that by chance, guinea pigs have the same busted gene. I assure you, the guinea pig genotype differs from the human one by more than 1%.

You really need to read Dr. Theobald a little more closely. It's not hard to see why given a single protein, vipers might cluster with humans. But how closely do vipers cluster with humans when one looks at the fossil record? And by reference to morphology? Not very close, is how close. You need confirmatory evidence from many, many sources to work out a phylogenetic tree. Also, genes cluster differently from organisms, which adds further complications.

Now, you say you've read Theobald, and normally I would have no reason to doubt you. But since you're still asking me what the consensus phylogenetic tree is, when Theobald's article has a huge, giant picture of it right on the second page of his article, I can only assume you haven't read it all that closely. Now, I suppose you could be asking me for the astronomically huge, complete phylogenetic tree that maps out the relationship of every last taxon out there. But if that's the case, I'd still have to say you don't know your Theobald, because he makes it pretty clear why there isn't any such tree, and there likely never will be one. Perhaps you'd like to give that particular page a re-read to see if you've missed anything else.

And why are you asking scientists for a phylogenentic tree that wasn't "cobbled together from a single protein"? I believe they've already been so kind as to provide you with one, if only you'd the eyes to see.

Date: 2005/10/17 18:09:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Oct. 17 2005,19:29)
 I have read him closely, which is part of the problem. In fact, I had to read Theobald very closely to see where he derives that huge, giant picture (otherwise known as Figure 1). Go to Part 4 (Protein Functional Redundancy) and look under "Criticisms". You should see a single citation. Click on it. What do you see? Hint: That slapping sound you just heard is your palm striking your forehead.

Hmm...I'm reading Part 4, "Criticisms," and you know, I just don't hear any slapping sound. As he states in the article, the chances that any two organisms have any similarity at all in their cytochrome c is mildly surprising, given that almost any ordering of amino acids at all would work. And yet, "the phylogenetic tree constructed from the cytochrome c data exactly recapitulates the relationships of major taxa as determined by the completely independent morphological data (McLaughlin and Dayhoff 1973)." (emph. mine) If you ask me, that statement pretty much sums up exactly why you're wrong.

Yep, Figure 1, cobbled together from - buckle the #### up!- a single protein. A _bad_ protein.

What gives you the impression that Figure 1 is cobbled together from one single protein? Nowhere on that page does he indicate that the consensus tree pictured is based on any single protein, or indeed from protein analysis alone (or at all, for that matter). (Actually, if it were possible to construct Figure 1 by reference to a single protein, that would be nothing short of astounding, and a massive triumph for the field of comparative protein analysis.)

Theobald specifically states that the tree is derived from independent lines of research. This is exactly why there is very high confidence that the consensus tree is accurate.

But for now, I'd settle for a tree that knows more than I do. Like, for example, that Chicken of the Sea is a brand name, not a suggestion for a phylogenetic tree.

So it's your understanding that the tree depicted in Figure 1 is totally wrong? I think I know enough of taxonomy, based on my high school education (along with a lot of extracurricular reading), to know that tree is a reasonably accurate depiction of the interrelationships among the taxa included. Where do you think it's wrong? Do you think that humans are more closely related to, say, ferns than they are to other primates? Or that starfish are more closely related to mushrooms than they are to cows?

Remember, folks, the molecules are for testing the consensus tree, not for deriving it. That is why it is called independent evidence. And the molecules can't even come up with a giggle-proof phylogeny.

In the meantime, did you trouble to read Theobald's explanation of just how unlikely it is that any two independently-derived trees would bear any resemblance to each other? Theobald specifically states that the tree is derived from independent lines of research. So even if it were true that protein analysis couldn't come up with even a close resemblance to trees derived from other evidence (which isn't even remotely true), the consensus tree is derived from enough other independent lines of research to indicate that, if anything, the problem is with the protein analysis methodology, not the tree itself.

After all, Bill, protein analysis is a relatively new science. Major portions of the consensus tree haven't changed in a hundred years. If protein analysis has difficulties building an accurate tree, why do you assume that means the tree is completely bogus?

Just out of curiosity, you deny evolution in its entirety? Are you a believer in special creation?

Date: 2005/10/18 06:18:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 18 2005,08:19)

Let's suppose that in the span of 10**-8 seconds that hydrogen nuclei were created before helium atoms or nuclei. How exactly does that change the argument that a universe composed 99% of helium, hydrogen and lithium waas the precise starting point for the natural, self-driven, random, chaotic processes that 14 billion years later resulted in the human brain and all the rest of life.

You see the bickering about 10**-8 seconds for a week is just a red herring to circumlocute the original issue.


Are you familiar with the phenomenon of the supernova?

Get back to me after you've done some research.

Date: 2005/10/18 08:00:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Does it sometimes bother you that we're all secretly laughing at you?

Just curious.

Date: 2005/10/18 08:15:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Does it sometimes bother you that everyone here is secretly laughing at you?

Just curious.

Date: 2005/10/18 10:33:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
We tried, Evo, really we did.

But we concluded that you're unteachable.

I used to have a cat like that...

Date: 2005/10/18 10:38:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I generally try not to debate creationists, but what the ####; I'm bored.

Far as I can tell, you don't believe that the phylogenetic tree exists at all. In other words, since every organism was specially created by His Majesty, everything is equally closely related. In other words, humans are just as closely related to chimps as they are to bacteria.

And you said you were working on theory of horizontal gene transfer? Whatever for? Evolution don't happen anyway, right?

Date: 2005/10/18 10:48:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 17 2005,09:54)

You are the most intellectually dishonest person I have encountered in all my years of debating on the net or elsewhere. There is simply something psychologically wrong with a person who in the face of absolutely black and white, substantiated, expert provided, sourced, universally accepted evidence that is 100 percent against their position continues to rant and rave about their correctness.


I'm not going to wade through the kinematics part of the discussion because it's irrelevant to what I'm about to say. Do you realize how little credibility you have here when you rant about intellectual honesty? You demand an answer to how the human brain could have evolved from helium, and then you deny you ever made any such demand when it's pointed out to you that helium has nothing to do with the human brain. When we quote you making just such a demand, you still deny saying it.

The spectacle of you accusing someone else of intellectual dishonesty is one of the mildly funnier things I've heard today.

Also, if you want some more laughs, here's an article on your source for the F=m*a relationship.

Date: 2005/10/18 11:00:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
But what's really so funny about all of this is that Evo still can't get himself to admit he was wrong when he claimed that helium was formed before hydrogen. He makes an utterly meaningless point about 3X10^5 being smaller than 1X10^6, which has absolutely nothing to do with his claims that

* there's no explanation for how the human brain evolved from helium (a claim that's not even wrong);

* helium formed before hydrogen;

* there was a time when there was more helium than hydrogen in the universe.

Anyone want to take bets how long it will take evo to admit there was never more helium than hydrogen in the universe? That will really give us an opportunity to use scientific notation!

I still say there's more helium in Evo's brain than hydrogen...

Date: 2005/10/18 11:34:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Let's play Rock Around the Clock with Bill Paley and the Creationists!

Anyway, if you're going to use Dave Berlinksi and WMD to instruct evolutionists in the error of their ways, you're mostly going to get dismissals, which is about what those guys are worth. It's so easy to poke holes in their mathematics and/or logic that even I can do it.

A quick example: Kolmogorov complexity is synonymous with probability, t or f.

Bill managed to get that one wrong. And he's supposedly the "Isaac Newton of Information Theory"?

Here's one of my favorite Dave-related quotes. It's from an article by Professor Nilsson, of Nilsson-Pelger fame, on Berlinksi's bumbling attempt to rebut their 1994 paper on the evolution of the vertebrate eye:

Contrary to Berlinski's claim, we calculate the spatial resolution (visual acuity) for all parts of our eye evolution sequence. The functions in Figure 1 display the results. These plots are computer generated, using small increments. Values and units are given on the axes of the plots, and procedures are explained in the legend. The underlying theory is explained in the main text, including the important Equation 1 and a reference to Warrant and McIntyre (1993) where this theory is derived. Yet, Berlinski insists that "Nilsson and Pelger do not calculate the visual acuity of any structure". It would be much simpler for Berlinski if he went just a tiny step further and denied the existence of our paper altogether.

Way to go, Dave!

Date: 2005/10/18 12:38:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 18 2005,15:41)
I really don't want to know the sort of things you might have tried to teach your cat.

I tried to teach him two things:

1) Do not deny you've said something when you've said it in print, where anyone can go look it up and wave it under your nose; and

2) stay out of the trash under the sink.

For the record, I never caught him violating stricture no. 1. I don't know what your record is in dragging the trash out of the kitchen wastebasket, but he's got you beat on the first one.

Date: 2005/10/18 13:09:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Is that really supposed to be Berlinski's "response" to his critics? It seems his critics have replied to his "response" before he even wrote it. Assuming time travel is impossible, I can only assume Dave has a hard time processing criticisms of his own work.

And referring to your hero Berlinski as "The Master" leaves one to ponder what your definition of an "amateur" is.

I'm glad you didn't refer to Dembski as an Information Theory "expert," since that clearly would have been stretching the term beyond the breaking point...

Date: 2005/10/18 19:30:32, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I'm just a humble legal assistant, who has spent entirely too much time arguing with the likes of you, arguing over things like if you exclude natural causes, and supernatural causes, what's left? (I couldn't get an answer to that question.) It's left me a little too tired to wade through Berlinski's screed. And I wonder why I should, since the article has been around for almost 12 years and is still considered sound science by basically 100% of the people with the training and expertise to actually hold a supportable opinion about it.

When Einstein was at the IAS, he would get letters every week from various cranks showing in minute detail why general relativity was wrong. I don't think he lost too much sleep over it.

Anyway, I wonder what your theory is for why the entire scientific community is satisfied that neodarwinian evolution is a settled matter, while dilettantes like yourself are sure they're all wrong. Is it a matter of mass delusion?

Since you seem to think the earth is only a few thousand years old, let's just say I'm a little skeptical of your opinion on matters biological.

Date: 2005/10/19 07:37:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I don't feel the need to respond to Dave because it's clear the scientific community has amply demonstrated where he's wrong. Let me ask you this: any educated layman who's spent any time studying evolution knows the names Dawkins, Gould, Margoulis, Watson, Miller. What educated layman outside of the ID community has heard of Berlinksi, or really cares what a mathematician's opinions on evolutionary biology are?

Of course, the same criticism holds for Dembski, except with Dembski, his conversance with his own field (information theory) seems pretty shaky.

The exclusion of all possible explanations (natural and supernatural) for the existence of life didn't happen here, and of course the guy who has effectively done so denies that he has, but I bet you can guess just from that the subject even arose that we're not talking about an evolutionist.

A supernatural explanation has never actually "explained" anything. Indeed, how could it? How is appeal to something that's physically impossible (isn't that pretty much what a supernatural phenomenon is?) going to explain anything?

There are plenty of things for which there is currently no known explanation. Half of biology probably fits into that category. But are you sure you want to appeal to supernatural explanations to fill those "gaps"? There's a term for that kind of argument, you know.

Date: 2005/10/19 07:46:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
God, evopeach,

A proton plus a neutron equals a helium nucleus?

Obviously you're not a nuclear engineer...

Date: 2005/10/19 08:28:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (W. Kevin Vicklund @ Oct. 19 2005,13<!--emo&:0)
It was such an obvious mental mistake, I was just going to let it pass.  Obviously, he meant two protons and two neutrons.

Normally I'd agree, but this is evopeach we're talking about here. I don't think it's obvious at all he meant two of each. Given the previous claims he's made, I don't think we can assume anything he says is just a slip o' the fingers. My assumption was that he really did think a helium had a nucleus made of two baryons. After all, previously he described a hydrogen atom as the "fusion" of a proton and an electron.

And given that he's lambasting everyone for equating 3E5 and 1E6, it's the least he deserves.

Date: 2005/10/19 08:49:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 19 2005,13:15)
My apologies I mean two protons.. thanks.

Still wrong, evo.

Which reinforces my belief that you didn't "accidentally" state that a helium nucleus was one proton and one neutron. Espcially when you state not once, but twice, that two protons are a helium nucleus. After someone gives you the correct number of nucleons, for which correction you thanked him, and then got it wrong again. Truly astonishing.

A helium nucleus is two protons and two neutrons. Deuterium is one proton and one neutron, otherwise known as "heavy hydrogen." There is no stable nucleus that is just two protons.

And in answer to a previous question posed to you which you have chosen to ignore, a helium nucleus is also known as an alpha particle, thereby demolishing yet another wrong claim you've made.

Of course, these are just the most basic errors you've made. You might be able to give engineering lessons to an evolutionary biologist, but you can't give particle physics lessons to anyone.

Date: 2005/10/19 16:23:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 19 2005,14:19)
...but if you would like I can send proof of my grade of "A" in nuclear physics..

How on god's green earth did you pass nuclear physics, let alone get an "A" in it, while laboring under the misapprehension that a helium nucleus is comprised of two protons? I've never been inside a nuclear physics classroom in my life and I know better than that.

Was your university in the Bahamas, by any chance?

Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 19 2005,14:19)
I also enjoy batting their brains out as is much in evidence here.

If you think you're actually winning any arguments around here, you're even more delusional than you think we think you are.

Date: 2005/10/20 13:16:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 20 2005,08:32)

I earned my "A" in nuclear physics through hard work and I really don't care about your opinions.

You people dwell on a simple typo and use it to avoid the issue that was raised initially and never answered because no one in the world has or can answer it because it never happened and ahundred years of effort have confirmed it.

Evo Dahlink:

I might have thought it was a typo, except that you kept making the same mistake over and over again even after it was pointed out to you and you tried to correct it.

I'm not going to address your central point, that there's no step-by-step explanation for how life arose from the primordial quark soup to geniuses such as yourself, because frankly watching you flail around in the comparatively much simpler morass of elementary particle physics is much more entertaining.

No one can explain how someone as goofy as you clearly are managed to become an engineer, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Why would one expect that the only-slightly-more-difficult-to-explain matter of the origin and evolution of life would be any more amenable to detailed explanation?

I do love the image of you with your head caught in a box, struggling furiously, only to get jammed in the corner, flailing helplessly. Thanks for the great image, Weevil; it's a classic.

Date: 2005/10/21 06:10:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 21 2005,09:47)
Actually I love listening to your temper tantrums because it reminds me of little boys caught in a lie and yelling and wimpering so the athority (that s me) might not whip them too hard.

evo! Whip us harder, Daddy! Yeah, the way you know we like it! Ooh, yeah, whip us harder!

You know, thinly-veiled homoerotic pederasty aside, you remind me a lot of Professor Erwin Corey. Remember him? The schizophrenic "World's Foremost Authority"?

You might actually be even more entertaining. Although you do have a tendency to drive the S/N here to 0 dB...

Date: 2005/10/21 08:06:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 21 2005,12:34)

I submit that between all of you there is not the remote possibility that you can show me or prepare a definition of Evolution in one paragraph that I cannot find a dozen totally contradictory definitions in your own literature within 72 hours of receipt.

Why? Because evolution has no definition, being a plastic ,meaningless tautology which can be and is defined on the fly to meet any investigative observation possible.

It therefore cannot be falsified, has no supporting data that is unchallenged by its own proponents as unreasonable and is incapable of being defined.

Show me wrong... give me the definition.


Normally I wouldn't bother engaging you in an actual discussion of the Theory of Evolution, because it's clear you have absolutely no understanding of it, and worse, no desire to understand it.

But let me pose a homework assignment for you: give me a definition for quantum theory that's less than two pages long, and that contains within it a precise synopsis of the theory. And before you start scurrying around, let me quote Richard Feynmann for you: "I think it can safely be said that no one understands quantum theory."

Not that this has anything to do with the topic at hand (to the extent there even is a topic at hand on this thread), but it's been my observation, living here as I do in San Francisco, that the more homophobic someone is, the more worried he is that he might be, well, you know, a little swish himself.

Just a thought.

Date: 2005/10/21 09:40:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 21 2005,12:17)
Dear Wonder Pinko Pants

What false intelligence was that specifically and where is the evidence concerning a voice in His head telling him to go invade Iraq.

Assertions without multiple unimpeachable sources is trashtalk expected only from evos and other liars.


In the why-do-I-bother department, here goes:

Reasons given for invading Iraq:

1) WMDs (false; Iraq didn't have any)

2) Ties to terrorism (false: Iraq didn't have any)

3) Threat to the region (false; toothless tiger)

4) Threat to US (give me a break)

5) The people of Iraq will shower our troops with flowers (<100 dead during war, >1900 dead after war)

6) To close the torture chambers and rape rooms (Abu Ghraib)

7) To establish stable democracy in Middle East (oops! we meant to say fundamentalist theocracy! )

8) Us will win war. (Iran wins war)

Dubya is on record as saying God told him to smite Saddam, so he smote Saddam. The technical term for that is "doing what the voices in my head tell me to do."

(If you want support for the above assertions, get your head out of the Free Republic and read some actual newspapers. Any ones published in the last three years will suffice.)

Meanwhile, your own troop of mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers managed to impeach one of the most popular and successful presidents of the 20th century for...what?...getting a blow-job in the oval office?

BTW: Chimp: the vote for impeachment succeeded. The vote to convict failed. The house managers, the ones who'd put together the whole sorry spectacle, later admitted that the whole thing was a collossal failure. They admitted they wished they'd never brought the thing up in the first place, especially when Clinton's approval ratings peaked after the vote to convict failed. At that time, Clinton's approval ratings were close to double what Dubya's currently are, and W's ratings have a tendency to go down about a point a month. He's still got 39 months to go, so he should be down around zero by the time his term ends.

Date: 2005/10/21 11:29:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 21 2005,16<!--emo&:0)
Oh and the reason I keep posting is that I do from time to time like to engage my ego by mentally stomping a few evos, democrats, atheists, socialists, losers and here I can hit them all with one swat.

As usual equivocation, hiding, assertion, insult and just about anything but the ability to debate rationally what appears from the evo team.


In your attempt to frame a rational debate on the subject of the evolution from "helium" to the human brain, you weren't even able to get out of the starting gate without tripping over your own shoes-tied-together feet.

Surely you don't expect anyone to waste their time explaining abiogenesis to you when the simpest concepts about the simplest subatomic particles seem to elude you.

Is your hair naturally orange, or do you dye it that way?

Date: 2005/10/21 11:37:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Wonderpants @ Oct. 21 2005,16:17)
EricMurphy has saved me the trouble of answering Evopeach. :)

And there are so many things wrong with that comment that I won't even bother making an attempt at it.

You've just returned the favor, WP. :-)

As Weevil said, it was fun for a while, but now that evo's just stuck behind the couch furiously spinning his wheels, it's getting monotonous.

I wonder what his handle is on

Date: 2005/10/21 13:12:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (evopeach @ Oct. 19 2005,13:44)
Can you tell us what physical law governs the process of decay, disassociation, randomization and the tendency toward breakdown, decay and the return to equilibrium in physical processes everywhere we observe.

1) The law of gravity

2) F=ma/gsubc

3) Jude Law

4) Marshal Dillon


I'll give you six chances to get it right.

If such a process did, indeed, violate Jude Law, every woman in North America would weep.

Date: 2005/10/21 17:30:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (FishyFred @ Oct. 21 2005,22:17)
Ooooh! Ooooh! Do we have a picture of evopeach? That would be awesome. I would love to see who I'm arguing with!

Not that I'm aware of. But given his clown-like attempts to disprove evolution, I assumed his hair was pretty orange.

Date: 2005/10/26 13:54:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Pastor Bentonit @ Oct. 25 2005,16:44)
Seriously, first Evo gets (himself) banned, now "TGoP" starts flinging f3c3s...admittedly, he is (still) a bit more coherent than Evo was. Now, who said it would be even possible to discern a creationist from a parody?  :D  :D

Evopeach actually got himself banned? What was the final straw? I thought he was just getting tired of not making any headway with us idiots and morons...

Date: 2005/10/26 17:18:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Oct. 26 2005,16<!--emo&:0)

Actually, I think I'm funnier than GOP.

Date: 2005/10/28 10:52:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Oct. 28 2005,13:43)
To get this discussion back on track, let me repeat an earlier question:
what makes some morphological characters assume greater importance than others? Not merely their tendency to fall into nested groupings. How circular would that be, after all....

Murphy was apparently too stunned to reply, and yammered on about how he doesn't have time to respond to the likes of me (as opposed to reading my posts and insulting me, one presumes). So can anyone? Oh wait, let me add:

Actually, I was hardly too stunned to reply. I just realized that someone who subscribes to geocentrism is either joking, or a joke.

Which is it, Bill?

Date: 2005/10/28 11:53:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Oct. 28 2005,10<!--emo&:0)
But Steve's career serves as inspiration to us all: to make it big in American Academia, all one needs is an ass full of red-diaper politics, a thesaurus and a sponge memory.

Any particular reason for the red-bating? Are you still concerned that the CPUSA might try to take over the country? And surely you're not going to claim that the Soviet Union was a haven for evolutionists...

Date: 2005/10/28 12:48:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Oct. 28 2005,14:13)
"Oh butterscotch! This Paley guy knows biology, philosophy, history, psychology; he expresses himself well...


Do you imagine that you know enough about, say, M-Theory to decide whether or not the theory is an accurate description of experience? No?

Then why do you imagine you know enough about evolutionary theory to decide whether or not it is an accurate description of experience? It's not immediately obvious that biology is a less complex subject than physics is.

Date: 2005/10/31 10:33:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Just a short reply for now (time to get back to work). You're completely missing the point (and I can only assume wilfully) about how phylogenetic trees are constructed. You keep trying to demonstrate how a particular line of evidence (e.g., homologies with a single protein, a particular morphological feature, etc.) cannot be relied upon to contruct a plausible phylogenetic tree.

So what? When you combine evidence from half a dozen or more independent lines of inquiry, and they all point towards the same phylogenetic tree, then you've got overwhelming evidence that that particular tree (out of an astronomical number of possible trees) is correct.

This isn't a difficult concept to grasp. Nevertheless, you are determined not to grasp it.

On the other hand, you're determined not to grasp the concept that the earth is not the center of the cosmos. A quick question for you: how far away is the closest star?

Date: 2005/10/31 10:38:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[Graffiti moved to Bathroom Wall. - Wesley R. Elsberry]

[quote=The Ghost of Paley,Oct. 31 2005,15:47]

Darwinism is the intellectual precursor to Marxism. Without it Marxism could not exist.

Communist Manifesto: 1848.

On the Origin of Species: 1859.

Do we have a QED here?

Date: 2005/10/31 11:49:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Henry J @ Oct. 31 2005,16:38)
Re "how far away is the closest star?"

That was a question (er, answer?) on Jeopardy not long ago. I fell for it. :(


Actually, it's not a trick question, i.e., I'm talking about the closest star that isn't the sun (although even the sun would imply some pretty high velocities). I just wonder how thoroughly Mr. Bill has explored the implications of his own belief system (assuming, of course, that he even believes in geocentrism -- I'm assuming he's pretending to, just to get our goats).

Date: 2005/11/01 05:20:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[Graffiti moved to Bathroom Wall. - Wesley R. Elsberry]

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 01 2005,11:15)
Karl and Fred's great work, Das Kapital, contains the theoetical foundation for their ideas, grounded thoroughly in Darwinism. It was Darwinism that animated the corspe that was socialist ideology prior to the 1860's

Nice try, Bill. Capitalism is based on Darwinism, not Communism. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Yep, that's clearly derived right from the "Survival of the Fittest."

Do you honestly think Lysenko was based on Darwinism? I'm pretty sure Darwin didn't believe in the heritability of acquired characteristics, which is central to Lysenkoism.

Date: 2005/11/01 10:44:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Apparently you're of the mind that if one can weave a rope from strands of overcooked noodles. I prefer to work with stronger materials, myself.

No, I'm talking about weaving rope from a few dozen strands of steel. You're pretending there's no rope at all.

  But would the light from a star have to originate from the star itself?  There goes your parallax shift and relativity-calculated distances. Assuming, of course, they were ever valid
to begin with. By the way, why are you so fascinated with my geocentrism?

Gee, Bill, I don't know. Maybe the light originated from right in front of my eyes. Maybe the light is a figment of my imagination. Maybe there's no such thing as light. Where are you going with this?

My question about the distance to the nearest star is only weakly dependent on the speed of light. I'm curious to get your estimate of how far away the nearest star is for reasons that have almost nothing to do with the speed of light. So how far away is it? A couple of hundred miles? A few thousand miles? A light year or two?

I'm not particularly fascinated with your geocentrism. My point is, anyone who denies the evidence that the earth is not the center of the earth <bs><bs><bs><bs><bs> universe is going to be hopeless when it comes to the evidence for evolution. If even the simplest, most obvious contentions can't overcome your skepticism, nothing else is going to either. So why should I waste my time with you? Nothing I can say about anything will ever convince you of anything.


Date: 2005/11/01 17:56:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
One thing I'm clearly hopeless about is checking my own work for typos. It took me forever to find the "earth is the center of the earth" typo.

It's been a long day. Our fileserver went down 10 hours ago and we're still trying to get it up (and now you know how tired I really am).

Date: 2005/11/02 16:36:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 02 2005,18:49)
 Alpha Centauri is the closest, at 4.35 light years (assuming constant speed, of course).

Okay, so in a geocentric universe, A. Centauri revolves around the earth once every 24 hours, right?

Date: 2005/11/02 16:42:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 02 2005,19:51)
It's nice to finally see a consistent, well-supported tree on Panda's Thumb.

So you must think the ten thousand or so scientists who have contributed to this tree were smoking, crack, then?

Date: 2005/11/03 06:14:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (MDPotter @ Nov. 03 2005,11:16)
Sit down, go back to the end of the line.

Good point, MD, but not really relevant to my question. So, Bill, assuming an orbital radius of 4.35ly, would you care to compute the velocity that would allow a complete orbit every 24 hours?

Date: 2005/11/03 12:45:27, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[Graffiti moved to Bathroom Wall. - Wesley R. Elsberry]

I'm trying to imagine what this has to do with the Steves project...

Date: 2005/11/03 13:07:32, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 03 2005,18:49)
Whoops, make that 2.99E12

Which, of course, is several orders of magnitude beyond c.

But I'm assuming you think Einstein is completely wrong, so I'm not going to use that as part of my argument. Let's do it this way:

Using very rough approximations, all of which work in Bill's favor, so we can do the math in our heads as we're walking through that den of iniquity, downtown San Francisco. Let's assume:

   * That p. Centauri (or a. Centauri, doesn't matter which) is only 4ly away;
   * That a light-year is only 5 X 10^12 miles (if you like, Bill, you can probably use any figure for a ly larger than 10^9 miles and I'll still be okay with it)
   * That pi = 3 (can we walk like Egyptians?)

So 4 ly times 5 trillion miles times 2  = 40 trillion miles orbital diameter times pi (which we're estimating as ~3) = 120 trillion miles orbital circumference.

Let's make a day 30 hours long to make the arithmetic radically simple (and to make matters easier on Mr. Paley), and we get an orbital speed (let's not worry about vector quantities yet) of 4 trillion miles an hour, which is in reasonable accord with Bill's figure of 6.68 trillion miles an hour.

Let's further assume, again, that Einstein's wrong, and c is not a barrier to velocity, but assume that Newton's law of gravity (which, after all, has been around a bit longer) is more or less accurate.

So, Bill, here's your homework assignment. Given an orbital radius of 20 trillion miles and an orbital velocity (we couldn't avoid vector quantities forever) in the neighborhood of 4 trillion miles an hour, would you care to solve for the mass of the earth? (Since Bill says the heavens revolve around the earth, not that the earth and the heavens are orbiting a common center of mass, we can probably assume the mass of p. Centauri is much smaller than the mass of the earth, and hence can ignore it.)  I have the feeling you're going to come up with a value that's a little high to be believable. High enough to squash us all flat, I'm guessing.

I'm using English units under the assumption that Bill really doesn't like the metric system, since communists (and, worse, the French) use it (although I will note he used it himself, presumably to make the math easier). Even though it makes the formulae harder. But hey, Bill tells us he's a smart guy.

Sorry I did this all at once, but all the suspense was getting tedious.

Date: 2005/11/03 14:04:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 03 2005,19:53)
would you care to solve for the mass of the earth?

To simplify matters, I decided to use Kepler's third law under the assumption of a circular orbit, and I obtained an Earth mass approximately 9.255 E 26 times higher than the accepted figure. No surprise, given the initial assumptions. But there is more to the story here, although I'll let "Matlock" Murphy gloat for now.......

Wow. Without even figuring out the right equation to use, my bone-stupid estimate (i.e., "wild-ass guess") was around 1 E 50 Kg. Does that get me within a couple of orders of magnitude? I think so.

But I'm going to assume that coming up with a figure that is probably heavy for a galactic supercluster doesn't change Bill's mind about his geocentrism. Am I right?

Date: 2005/11/03 14:28:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 03 2005,20:13)
So you must think the ten thousand or so scientists who have contributed to this tree were smoking, crack, then?

Naaah, given normal growth on the evo slush fund, they can do the powder. Off a failing coed's bottom, of course.....

Which doesn't really answer the question. So let me rephrase: you think the phylogenetic tree as described on the Tree of Life webpage bears no resemblance to reality. T or F?

Date: 2005/11/03 15:00:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 03 2005,20:29)
But I'm going to assume that coming up with a figure that is probably heavy for a galactic supercluster doesn't change Bill's mind about his geocentrism. Am I right?

Right again. More to come. Cue the narrator, please.

Okay, I admit it. You've piqued my interest. I await next week's episode with bated breath....

Date: 2005/11/04 08:30:00, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 03 2005,20:35)
Which doesn't really answer the question. So let me rephrase: you think the phylogenetic tree as described on the Tree of Life webpage bears no resemblance to reality. T or F?

Objection! Asked and answered! But again, T, with a few minor reservations.


Date: 2005/11/04 13:00:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I'm a little hung over right now, so I might not be thinking clearly. But it's occurred to me that Bill's figure for the mass of the earth, 5.5 E 51 Kg, might compare with the mass of the observable universe (at least the visible, non-"dark" part of it). I wonder if that's where he's going with this...

( I giving the game away?)

Date: 2005/11/04 19:09:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 04 2005,15:10)
Why not?

Fair enough.

People who are of a certain, shall we say, religious bent, often ask, why is there a universe? Isn't the mere existence of the universe a powerful argument for the existence of God? Isn't God the answer to the question, "Why does the universe exist?"

I disagree. I think the answer is, "Why not"?

Date: 2005/11/05 13:36:10, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 05 2005,11:50)
 Patience, my son. I will unveil the model when I get some free time: after all, one can't interweave art and science, unify and explain cosmological mysteries, and awe the human mind on demand. Slather on a little more Devon cream and order another latte in the meanwhile..........

Well, given the task I've set you (i.e., overturning 500 years of settled natural law, as it were), I'm not expecting an answer any time soon (unless you've already been working on this for a decade or two, in which case…).

But would you care to estimate a time frame? Another couple of years, maybe? Just so I don't have to keep checking back.

P.S. I'm actually not much of a latte lover.

Date: 2005/11/07 09:04:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 07 2005,12:33)
Worst case scenario: A week from this upcoming Friday (Nov. 18, I believe)

 Best case: This Thursday (Nov. 10)

 I hope this helps.

Will you booking your hotel room in Stokholm, then? :-)

Date: 2005/11/07 11:38:19, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Steverino @ Nov. 07 2005,15<!--emo&:0)
I'm sorry but, how can anyone who is still convinced that the Lunar Landings were a hoax, be taken seriously?

I can't say I'm taking this guy seriously, but he has demonstrated some knowledge of orbital mechanics and Newtonian physics (more than mine, anyway), so he's not a complete half-wit.

But I'm interested to see how he wriggles out of this particular box.

(And when I say I'm not taking this guy seriously, I mean I don't think he really believes anything he says he believes.)

Date: 2005/11/08 06:04:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 07 2005,20:24)
...I'll accept circumstantial evidence so long as it converges on a single conclusion. If someone would present consistent, independent evidence for a particular lineage, I would buy the evo account, but what I receive are a plethora of crazy and flatly contradictory trees that reflect nothing so much as the insanity of the brainpans that generated them in the first place.

But Bill, the tree I've presented to you is supported by exactly the kind of evidence you say you want. Now, granted, certain groupings of certain organisms using certain types of evidence will result in different trees. But that's to be expected, if for no other reason than the truly astronomical number of possible trees. And there are a lot of organisms for which the phylogenetic relationships are controversial, as you'll note if you poke around on the Tree of Life site. But large portions of the tree are well-established using multiple, independent lines of evidence from very different areas of the life sciences (e.g., genalysis, the fossil record, stratigraphy, geology, morphological studies). The tree on Theobald's site is well-established, well-supported, and non-controversial, which is why it's called the "consensus tree."

Granted, the phylogenetic relationships of, say, lungfish and coelacanths can be hard to figure out, but I don't think anyone denies the phylogenetic relationships between tuna and chicken, or between starfish and spiders.

Details, controversial. General structure of the tree, not. But your position seems to be that the entire tree is wrong. That's not true. It just isn't.

Date: 2005/11/08 16:05:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 08 2005,19:18)
 You do realise that this "astronomical number of possible trees" business is derived solely from Hubert Yockey's cytochrome c analysis...

This is wrong. The "astronomical number of possible trees" has nothing to do with cytochrome c analysis, or any analysis at all. It has to do with mathematics.

I know you said you've read Theobald closely, Bill, but you keep providing me evidence to the contrary. As Theobald points out, as the number of taxa (or, for that matter, any kind of object -- cars, asteroids, library books) that you're trying to relate to each other increases, the number of possible genealogical "trees" you can construct goes up geometrically. Theobald presents a handy little chart (Table 1.3.1). I'll excerpt a few entries so you can get the general flavor of what we're talking about:

2 taxa: 1 relationship
4: 15
7: 10,395
11: 34,459,425
20: 8,200,794,532,637,891,559,375
30: 4.95 E 38

This has nothing to do with how you analyze the objects you're trying to relate to each other. It's a matter of pure mathematics.

Which brings me way, way back to what I said in this thread about six or seven pages ago. The consensus phylogenetic tree that Theobald depicts is based on, not a few proteins, not a few genes, and not a lot of proteins or a lot of genes. It's based on genetics, protein analysis, the fossil record, morphological studies, developmental evolution, geology, and other lines of inquiry. All of these lines of evidence converge on the tree as Theobald shows it.

Now, you've pointed out that different individual lines of evidence can show discordant trees. You won't get an argument from me there. But you're talking about individual lines of evidence showing weird relationships between two different species. There are tons of organisms, as I stated a couple of messages ago, which are problematic in terms of what their exact phylogeny is. But for the 30 major taxa in Theobald's tree (note there are no species mentioned, or genera, or families, for that matter), there is an overwhelming consensus opinion that the phylogenetic tree as pictured is correct.

The tree shows that fungi are more closely related to animals than either are to plants. It shows that birds are more closely related to mammals than either are to insects. Surely you don't deny phylogenies at this level of detail, do you, Bill? When you get down either to the level of genera, or conversely to the base of the tree (are archae more closely related to eubacteria, or to eukaryotes?) things get murky. But the worst you can say about the consensus tree is that it's a solid beginning, supported by solid independent lines of evidence. And the fact that a dozen or more lines of evidence all converge on the same tree, out of ~5 E 38 possibilities, is pretty persuasive evidence for common descent, don't you think? Even if cladistic analysis could get the number of trees down to only a million different ones, isn't that an unbelievable level of precision? How many physical constants are known to 32 decimal places? The mass of the electron is known to seven places. G, the universal gravitation constant, is known to three places.

I think you greatly overestimate the problems with phylogeny, Mr. Paley.

Date: 2005/11/08 17:45:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 08 2005,19:18)
So, what is the point in debating fact with you when you can just offer as a defense.."No thats wrong"?

 And still you don't get it. I always back up my arguments with evidence. Which is why they get ignored, of course.

Well...not always. I once asked you why you thought the consensus phylogenetic tree is wrong. Your reply: "Why not?"

Don't mean to be persnickety, but I just couldn't resist...

Date: 2005/11/09 08:40:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 09 2005,14:15)
More later.

 Here's the problem: morphological characters do not have to be, and in fact are not, uniformly distributed throughout the sample space of all potential body types. We see this in many cases of "convergent evolution" between marsupial and placental mammals. No matter how the similarities came to be, the fact remains that God- or nature - is not as adventurous as Theobald implies. This suggests that there is a natural grouping of "kinds" that can be investigated in different ways, none of them requiring the notion of common descent. In other words, I have no need for that hypothesis.  :)
Well...not always. I once asked you why you thought the consensus phylogenetic tree is wrong. Your reply: "Why not?"

 I hope this addresses your question.

I still think you're misinterpreting Theobald's point. The number of potential trees has nothing to do with whether there's a uniform distribution of body plans, or protein conformations, or anything whatsoever. It's exclusively dependent on the number of taxa to be classified.

Someone gives you a group of 30 names of people. He tells you they're all related, but doesn't tell you how. The letters of the names have all been scrambled, so you can't use surnames as a clue. Now, he tells you to come up with all possible relationships between this group of 30 individuals. How many possible trees can you come up with? ~5 E 38. The same would be true of natural languages, or computer languages, or anything. The number of possible phylogenetic trees has nothing whatsoever to do with morphological characteristics, or indeed any characteristics. It is purely dependent on the number of taxa, and nothing else.

Now. Why do biologists think that the tree, as depicted, is accurate? For the reasons I've given you. You keep saying there's no biological evidence that the tree is correct, but I have to insist you're simply wrong there. And in any event, whether the tree is in fact correct (or could even be attempted) is only part of the argument for common descent. The other part of the equation is the nested hierarcies that all life forms fall into. There are no protostomes with feathers. There are no bacteria with mitochondira. There are no vertebrates with exoskeletons. The only known (and maybe the only possible) explanation for such nested hierarchies is common descent with modification. Therefore, whether you believe that neodarwinian evolution is the cause of common descent with modification, you simply cannot escape the fact of common descent with modification. It is simply a fact that needs explanation.

You asked me once how science knows which morphological features are the important ones. It comes down to which ones allow us to trace out a phylogenetic tree. Bats and birds both have wings, right? So they should be grouped together, right? Wrong. Because the wings don't fall into the other groupings or morphological features that birds and bats naturally fall into. Birds have feathers, avian lungs, hard-shelled eggs, etc., which group them all together. Bats have fur, placentas, mammalian inner ears, etc., which group them all together. This is why phylogenetic relationships need to be traced out using large numbers of characteristics from different independent lines of inquiry. It's the only way to develop well-supported phylogenies, and it's why it takes decades, if not centuries, to figure out the taxonomic relationships among organisms.

But again, common descent is a fact. Nested hierarchies are a fact. They are both facts wanting explanation. You simply cannot plausibly deny they exist. Now, whether God made it all happen, or unguided evolution, that's a separate matter. But you simply cannot get away with claiming there are no relationships among organisms.

Date: 2005/11/09 12:37:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 09 2005,16:12)
Nested hierarchies are a fact.

They are if you use a tree-like scheme in the first place. But the methodology had better not force the conclusion.

Actually, this is what I should have said: "Nested hierarchies" is not a hypothesis; it's an observation. There are no known exceptions to the observation of nested hierarchies, when one looks at the totality of the evidence.

Common descent with modification was originally a hypothesis put forth to explain nested hierarchies. But common descent with modification is so overwhelmingly supported by the evidence that it has achieved the status of a fact in need of an explanation, rather than a hypothesis in need of verification.

One possible explantion for common descent with modification is directed evolution, i.e., evolution directed by some sort of supernatural intelligence. Another possible explanation is embodied by neodarwinian evolution. But in either event, it is long past the point where it is possible to deny either nested hierarchies or common descent with modification.

Date: 2005/11/09 14:03:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 09 2005,19<!--emo&:0)
And this is where we disagree. You seem to be saying that large groups of morphological characters can triangulate a tree, and thereby make it factual (at least on some branches). If so, then why do genetic phylogenies? Any discordant result must be tossed out, given the previously established tree. And if the genes do count, the morphological tree must still in some sense function as a hypothesis that needs testing. Remember, genetic testing wasn't established until the sixties. Are you saying common descent wasn't a fact until then? Or did the phenotypic characters make it factual?
 I'm not being deliberately obtuse; I'm really confused about this.
(Paley braces for the inevitable witticism......)

Nope, no witticisms (at least, none at your expense).

Well, you probably need an expert opinion on this question, but I think you need to look at it this way: for some phylogenetic questions, morphological analysis provides the answer. For others, genetics is the way to go. For still others, the fossil record gives brighter illumination.

It's like any large accumulation of data. Imagine you're trying to determine the weight of the electron. Most of your test results are going to converge on 500 keV. But an occasional result might give a ridiculous answer, like 3.5 geV. Another might give you 1,200 eV. You have to toss those anwers, even if, for the moment, you're not sure why they're wrong.

There are a lot of things about genetics and molecular biology that are only approximately understood. How accurate is the molecular clock when it comes to mutation rates? Well, one way you could calibrate the clock is by comparing the results to what you see in the fossil record. Or what about mutation loci and frequencies in protein analysis? You might need to confirm your results by comparison to morphological studies.

You used an example earlier of a particular protein analysis (might have been cytochrome c, I can't remember) that showed that kangaroos diverged from humans before they diverged from other mammals. Well, we know from lots of other evidence that this isn't true. So we need to find out why the protein evidence is discordant. But since we have, at this stage of the game, a really good idea of approximately when kangaroos and humans diverged, we can use evidence from other areas to try to figure out why the protein evidence gives unexpected answers.

The point is, you have to use huge datasets, coming from indpendent lines of research, to trace out lines of descent. You're looking for confirmation of evidence from as many different areas as possible. I pointed out earlier that guinea pigs and humans have the same mutation that makes the gene for producing ascorbic acid inoperative. Looking at just the genes, you might be forgiven for assuming that guinea pigs are more closely related to humans than, say, macaques are. But you'd be wrong, because it's certainly not impossible that humans and guinea pigs have the same mutation for reasons that have nothing to do with common descent; i.e., sheer bad luck.

Also, I should probably make what might seem like a fine distinction. That there is, in fact, "one true tree," at this point must be regarded as a fact in need of explanation. But a particular tree is still, necessarily, a hypothesis in need of verification. However, as I said, the large-scale structure of the tree is for the most part sufficiently supported to be considered well-settled. But again, as I said earlier, there are definitely regions of the tree that are still controversial. Given past successes, it's to be expected that the same lines of evidence, including genetic evidence, will eventually illuminate the true structure of the tree.

At any rate, Bill, people who actually do evolutionary biology are not concerned with the overall structure of the phylogenetic tree (although there are certainly spirited disagreements on the details). There's just too much evidence to support it. I'm wondering if the problems you have with accepting the accuracy of the tree aren't partly a matter of missing the forest for the trees. Or, maybe you're missing the "tree" for the "leaves." :-)

Date: 2005/11/11 19:33:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 11 2005,12<!--emo&:0)
 Fair enough. I think part of our problem is we have different definitions of consilience. My definition stresses the independence of differing lines of evidence, while yours emphasises the unity of knowledge.

Here's how I picture things, if you could travel back in time (I don't know if many evolutionary biologists would agree with me here, but I think Dawkins would). The "one true phylogenetic tree," as it applies to me personally, is simply a genealogical tracing all the way back, until we reach the point where we're not talking about life anymore. Go back, say, 5,000 generations, and we're still talking humans. Go back further than that, and we're not talking exactly humans anymore. Go back 15 million years, and we're talking about lower primates. 150 million years, we're talking ancestors who are probably indistinguishable from tree shrews. A billion and a half years, we might be talking about bacteria, or maybe simple eukaryotes. And amazingly, against all odds, every single one of those ancestors, without exception, left descendants. Every one of them, in evolutionary terms, was a success.

The point, Bill, is that unless you believe in some sort of special creation, that has to be the way it happened (let me know if you can think of some alternative story). If you assume life evolved without direct intervention of a creator (or maybe even if you do assume a creator), there's an unbroken chain of living organisms extending backwards in time from me to the simplest forms of life.

And for me personally, I'm actually at one end of that chain (I'm not having children). All you have to do is assume that the world is as it appears to be (i.e., a few billion years old), and that there is no special creation. So you can trace my genes back from today, all the way back almost four billion years ago. That's a third of the lifetime of the universe! Isn't that kind of, well…cool?

I'll grant that none of this is very scientific. (But then, I'm not a scientist--or a lawyer, for that matter :) ) But for me, at least, it's an appealing concept. If you think of your own existence that way, extending backwards in time in some very real fashion almost four billion years ago, your genes coursing through uncounted generations of ancestors, I think it gives you a palpable sense of your place in the universe, and your connectedness to all life. How's that for unity?

Gives me kind of a warm feeling.

Date: 2005/11/13 16:22:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 13 2005,14:48)
And for me personally, I'm actually at one end of that chain (I'm not having children).

That is an interesting viewpoint, assuming an evolutionary process of course. But I find the last remark rather ominous, and illustrative of the end result of Darwinian philosophy. I'll explain more later tonight if I get a chance, although I may start a new thread. By the way, I think I'll get my rough draft in on time, but I've been surprisingly busy lately. May I ask for a one-week extension? Asbestos diapers don't grow on trees, you know......

Why ominous? I just mean end, in the sense, more or less of a "bookend," not like the end of the world or anything. If you're the last of your line because everyone died without leaving any children, I guess that could be rather sad, but I've made a personal choice not to have children (don't ask for my reasons unless you want to wade through a 2,000 word essay).

Anyway, yes, you can have your extension. I can certainly wait another week...

Date: 2005/11/14 06:11:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 13 2005,17:56)
This topic came up during the LUCA thread, and I thought it deserved its own space.

Wow…I hope I'm not getting blamed for the decline and fall of Western civilization merely because I'm not having children. :-)

Anyway, a couple of observations:

The immigrants don't assimilate, enrich, or even work…

Well, not exactly. As a resident of California, I'm well aware of the fact that if it were not for illegal immigrants, the state economy would collapse. Agriculture is utterly dependent on immigration, for one thing. And the hospitality industry would be in trouble without it, too.

Western Civilisation is in deep trouble.

Well, maybe (although so far I don't see any obvious signs of its demise). But the health of the planet is definitely in deep trouble, and in some ways Western civilization is the cause of the trouble.

The United States comprises ~5% of the world population, but uses ~25% of the world's resources. The problem is, if we want the rest of the world to enjoy our standard of living (and I'm assuming, Bill, that in some ways that's your goal, provided it goes along with Western civilization's values), we're going to need quite a few more earths to do it. Let's be ridiculous and assume China can assume First-World standards of living in the next 50 years. Well, China's got four times the population of the United States, which means all by itself China would use 100% of the world's resources to attain the same standard of living.

Obviously, something's got to give somewhere. Our benighted vice-president's opinions aside, conservation is going to be a matter of survival. But with America's profligate consumption of natural resources, and evident disregard for the state of the environment, it's going to be hard to take the moral high road on this issue.

Is it beginning to become a little more clear why I don't necessarily agree that a high birth rate in the developed world is a solution to any problem?

Evolve, or die. Those seem to be our choices as a civilization.

Date: 2005/11/14 18:18:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 14 2005,18:14)
You don't have to give your reasons unless you want. I'm more interested in the general spiritual malaise wrought by Darwinism - or whoever wrote that imbecile's books. And thanks for the extension.

You know, I was talking to this woman I met a couple of weeks ago on a bike ride recently. She grew up in Texas, and moved to San Francisco when she was about 25 (she's in her early 30s now). She came from a deeply religious family, and until her mid-twenties she was deeply religious herself. Also, deeply depressed. To the point of suicide.

But as she reached young adulthood, she realized that religion just wasn't working for her. Shedding what for her was an oppressive belief system freed her spirit, and she is by all accounts a very happy, well adjusted person, with a great job, in a great relationship, living in a great city (well, at least those of us who live here think it is).

My point? Generalizations can be dangerous. I know plenty of very happy agnostics, and a lot of miserable religious people, too. I'm not sure one can make any valid generalizations correlating one's spiritual beliefs with one's overall contentment. I myself am a relatively happy person, and I am also happily agnostic.

Just out of curiosity: why do you consider Charles Darwin to be an "imbecile"? I've read On the Origin of Species, and it seems to me to be a well-written, well-thought-out exposition of the then-current state of knowledge of biological diversity, and a closely-reasoned argument attempting to explain that diversity.

Also, even if it were true that belief in non-theistic evolution brought about a spiritual malaise, would that matter--if it were true?

Date: 2005/11/17 20:08:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 17 2005,19:54)
Mr. Murphy:
I forgot that next week is Thanksgiving. I'm planning on visiting relatives, and won't be able to post until the following Tuesday. Sorry, but you'll get your model then.

Hey, I've waiting this long. So this is going to be the Unified Field Theory of Geocentrism, right? It will explain the revolutionibus of the orbi as well as Mona Lisa's smile, right?

Date: 2005/11/18 10:29:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 18 2005,11:23)
Thanks again. Out of curiosity, what's the highest level math you've studied?

Pre-calculus in high school, about 26 years ago. If there's anything I'm actually good at, it's probably writing. Other than riding my bike ~10E4 km a year.

Date: 2005/11/18 10:40:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Mr. P,

Just out of curiosity: do you think that if someone were to take, say the top 1% of income earners among white Americans of European extraction, and compared them to the top 1% of African-Americans descended from slaves, that there would be a statistically-significant difference in the amount of violent crime committed by the two groups? If one were to compare the relative crime rates committed by each of the two groups when matched for income and social status? I wonder if anyone has ever done such an analysis.

Of course, one confounding factor would be that the top 1% of white European-Americans probably have a much higher income than the top 1% of African-Americans, and if you tried to match incomes across both groups, you probably wouldn't have a big-enough sample to draw any conclusions from the data on African Americans...

But in any event, I have a suspicion that such an analysis would contradict your position that there is a stronger correlation between violent crime and ethnicity than there is between violent crime and socioeconomic status.

And remember Thomas Sowell's words (from "The Vision of the Annointed") that you can basically prove any position with some set of statistics.

Date: 2005/11/21 06:14:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 21 2005,11:50)

Eric Murphy said:
[quote]Just out of curiosity: do you think that if someone were to take, say the top 1% of income earners among white Americans of European extraction, and compared them to the top 1% of African-Americans descended from slaves, that there would be a statistically-significant difference in the amount of violent crime committed by the two groups?

 Yep. But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

But Bill, don't you realize that your propensity to believe that African-Americans are more likely to commit violent crime than a similar group of European-Americans are, in the absence of data to support such a position, makes you a, well, um...racist? By definition?

One other technical question. You say:

Focus on the accomplishments, not who was in charge, and you'll see that the 80's and mid 90's were much more conservative policy-wise than the 1988 - 1994 period.

How can the "80's and mid 90's" be much more conservative than the "1988-1994 period," when the one is a subset of the other? Just curious.

Date: 2005/11/28 05:35:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy

How are we doing on our ToE?

Date: 2005/11/28 09:57:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 28 2005,14:32)
The question shouldn't be: "What can we do for you?", but rather, "What will you do for us?"

Hmm...I haven't been following this discussion that closely, but I was under the impression that the U.S. is already asking what Bill considers to be the correct question. For someone hoping to emigrate from, say, Canada, the winning answer might be, "I can record an album that will sell half a million copies, thereby making lots of money for TimeWarner," and for someone wanting to emigrate from Honduras, it might be "I can harvest redleaf lettuce three times as fast as your average gringo, and I'll do it for half the money. Plus, after the harvest, I'll be happy to swab out your hotel bathrooms, too."

Date: 2005/11/28 19:29:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Actually, none of that meant anything to me, since I never even took calculus in high school. But I do have one question about your postulate of a fixed sphere of stars 4.5 ly away.

How does your model account of differing parallax of different stars? Actually, how does it account for parallax at all? If everything orbits the earth, shouldn't the parallax of every body out there on the sphere be zero?

Date: 2005/11/29 13:08:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 29 2005,18:26)
If everything orbits the earth, shouldn't the parallax of every body out there on the sphere be zero[or non-equal]?

 Patience. It will all come together shortly. Genius moves at its own pace, after all.

No, it definitely wouldn't be non-equal. It might be non-zero, but if everything's the same distance from the earth, everything should have the same parallax, even if it's non-zero, due to divine sloppiness.

Date: 2005/11/29 13:36:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 29 2005,18:26)
Patience. It will all come together shortly. Genius moves at its own pace, after all.

Just to give you a running start, I thought I'd include a few other, relatively non-controversial, astronomical observations, with the request that you explain how your model accounts for them:

The Hertzsprung-Russel mass-luminosity relationship. According to your model, all stars (with minor exceptions) are at the same distance from earth: 4.5 ly. This means that all stars' apparent magnitude is equal to their absolute magnitude, and therefore their apparent luminosity is the same as their intrinsic luminosity. This means that the Hertzprung-Russel mass-luminosity relationship is broken, and there is therefore no relationship between a star's mass and its luminosity, or between its temperature and its luminosity. Therefore some other explanation is necessary for the different temperatures of stars. What is that explanation?

Galaxies. Since galaxies are all the same distance from the earth as the stars are (4.5 ly), either they're not made of stars at all (and hence are "nebulae"?), or they're made of extremely non-luminous stars. But stars have been resolved in some nearby galaxies, e.g., the Magellanic clouds. Presumably these are really tiny stars? Since their apparent luminosity is the same as their intrinsic luminosity…

Cosmic elemental abundances. (Is evopeach out there somewhere?). Presumably Bill's geocentric universe precludes a big bang, and therefore precludes primordial nucleosynthesis. Therefore, one needs some other explanation for the eerie concordance between the observed cosmic microwave background radiation and the predicted abundances of hydrogen, deuterium, helium, and lithium, which are exquisitely sensitive to the temperature of that radiation. Of course, we also need an explanation for the existence of the CMB in the first place, since the Big Bang evidently didn't happen in Bill's world.

Existence of metals. (Of course, I mean metals in the sense that astrophysicists use the term). I assume that supernovae don't happen in Bill's world, since a supernova occurring 4.5 ly away would preclude the existence of the earth. So, Bill—how did metals get here? I'm assuming since there was no big bang, they've always been here, but I'm hoping your answer is a little more entertaining than "I don't need to explain how metals got here, because they've always been here."

Cosmic redshift. Obviously, neither stars nor galaxies have a recession velocity, since they're all at the same distance from the earth (4.5 ly), and presumably always have been. So what accounts for the observed redshift? Tired light? Intervening dust? God playing tricks on us?

Distance to the celestial sphere. Bill, you say you know the distance to the A Centauri system. But how did you derive that distance? By its parallax? Even if, as WKV points out, parallax could be due to a wobbly cosmic sphere, you wouldn't be able to determine the sphere's distance that way. The reason we know the distance to A Centauri is because we know the diameter of the earth's orbit around the— oh, wait. The earth doesn't revolve around the sun. So what's the base of the triangle that allows us to compute the distance to the celestial sphere?

I'm sure I'll think of other phenomena in need of explanation, but I thought I'd give you a few to get you started.

And yes, I will expect an explanation for all of them, since there's already a perfectly good, non-geocentric, explanation for them. No one said re-writing the laws of nature was going to be easy, or quick.

Date: 2005/11/30 05:46:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Nov. 29 2005,21:56)
  That's sweet of you, Matlock. I do appreciate your criticisms, as they help refine my thoughts. To avoid distraction, I'll try to incorporate my rebuttal within the work proper. Please understand, however, that the paper must simultaneously address many criticisms, so part of it might be rough going for those without calculus. The study must strike a balance between detail and clarity, and enchant in the process. I'll do what I can.

Actually, none of my questions are criticisms. I'm just wondering if your theory will have the breadth and explanatory power of the theory it purports to replace (I will admit that I've made certain predictions on that subject).

Therefore, there's no need for any rebuttal, since I haven't made any rebuttable assertions. However, my difficulties with higher mathematics shouldn't present an obstacle to you, since the currently-existing theory accounting for the above-referenced observations has been able to explain those observations without resorting to the sort of difficult mathematical formalisms favored by (what's his name again?) The Master(sm)(?). I have every confidence you'll be able to do the same.

Date: 2005/11/30 19:08:56, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I have to say, Bill, I can't tell whether you really know what you're talking about or if you're just a great spinner of tales. But if you do know what you're talking about, I cannot for the life of me figure out why you hold Mr. Wizard in such high regard. It seems like the guy isn't even very competent in his own field of information theory…

Date: 2005/12/02 09:34:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 02 2005,11:52)
Liberals had three full decades to make an impact, and boy did they ever. It's our turn now.

And boy are you ever.

Date: 2005/12/02 13:16:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 02 2005,16:21)

 With all due respect, having the Commander-in-Chimp representing us is like being told you've won the lottery, but are being paid in Monopoly money...........

And, I'd be the first to admit that anyone who thinks the current administration is in any way implementing "conservative" policies is hallucinating.

But, what does any of this have to do with the original topic of this thread?

Date: 2005/12/04 15:03:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 04 2005,17:54)
 Oh, don't worry about that. I can tone down the sass upon request, but ain't no-one takin' away my right to say 2+2=4, even if he is a fellow Southerner, or his last name is.....O'Brien.

Okay, but before this discussion goes completely off the rails: how are we doing with your accounting for the various astronomical observations I set out a few pages back? I'm waiting with bated breath...

Date: 2005/12/05 11:08:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 05 2005,12:46)
Yeah, I realise I've been slow to respond lately. I'll try to get something up tonight that addresses a few of the issues. Mr. Cordova will have to provide the fireworks for now....

For what it's worth, Bill, I don't think you're a parody. I do think you're an instigator who likes to rile people up, and I don't think you necessarily believe everything you say you believe. You certainly don't believe the entire universe revolves around the earth. I think you've hinted at your agenda earlier, which I still think is ill-conceived. But I'm very curious to see what your next substantive post will say...

Date: 2005/12/05 17:07:19, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 05 2005,20<!--emo&:0)
Nooooooo!!!!!! Not this crap again. Eric, please don't play games like Hyperion. Just say what you mean - I promise I won't get offended.

I'm saying exactly what I mean. I don't think you're a parody (i.e., someone who believes evolution is a broadly accurate description of reality who is pretending to be a creationist, and someone who claims to be a geocentrist just to goad the scientists on this site), but I do think you're only claiming to believe the universe is centered on the earth, and you're using arguments supporting that belief as a stalking horse for another point entirely, i.e., that evolution is not as well-supported as, e.g., modern astrophysics and cosmology.

In other words, I don't think you're a parody, but I don't think you're necessarily being completely up-front about your beliefs. Which is fine; not intended as a criticism. I just think at times you're pulling our collective leg, as it were.

But I still want to hear your explanations for the various phenomena I pointed out. I see it as an exercise for your ingenuity. :-)

Date: 2005/12/05 17:12:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 05 2005,21:09)
   For more enlightenment, please consult this paper. I think the calculations are a bit crude, but it's a good starting point for my monograph, which will also use the concept of dipole moments to explain the n-body "gravitational" phenomenon.

Busted link alert.

Date: 2005/12/05 17:18:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Completely off-topic: I was at Trader Joe's last night, and saw some Guacamole called "Avocado's Number." Supposedly it was made from the meat of only five avocados, though. Off by about 23 orders of magnitude, or a bit more than my estimate of the earth's mass using Bill's assumptions.


Date: 2005/12/06 07:57:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 06 2005,13:38)
Y'all should feel grateful that I've blessed your board with Nobel-level physics.

You know, Bill, statements like this put up everyone's crank-alerts. :-)

I suppose we should be flattered that a Nobel candidate would bother to visit our humble discussion group, but let's just say the likelihood of something like that actually happening are pretty slim. The chances that any Nobel candidate would really be a geocentrist are beyond slim. So—

A. You actually are a Nobel candidate, in which case I was right about you; or

B. You're not a Nobel candidate, but I was probably still right about you.

Date: 2005/12/06 12:09:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 06 2005,13:38)
My condensate aether, while baryonic in structure, possesses many properties that founder Darwin. For example, my condensate can slow light, fiddle with refractive indices, and thwart friction: these properties prevent your feeble attempts at pigeonholing.

I don't know, Bill. How are these properties different from any superfluid? Any crystal (e.g., table salt) can "slow light, fiddle with refractive indices..." And any superfluid (e.g., helium II) flows without friction.

Doesn't sound all that impressive to me...

Date: 2005/12/07 08:47:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 07 2005,14:41)
Eric - don't worry, I'll give your questions due consideration tonight (hopefully). I just think it's important to answer the primary structure questions before hitting the secondary and tertiary structure of my model.

Seems like a lotta work just to show that the sun goes around the earth. :-)

Date: 2005/12/07 11:28:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Dec. 07 2005,16:52)
Already your understanding is inconsistent with small things.  How can you be trusted to come up with a consistent grand unified theory?


And I can't wait to see the answers to my questions. :-)

Date: 2005/12/08 10:13:57, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Based on the length of this discussion and the disagreements on quantum-mechanical minutiae, I'm estimating we'll get to discussion of using Cepheids to come to an agreement on the value of Hubbell's constant in, oh, 2016.

By the way, have we cleared up misunderstandings regarding the consensus phylogenetic tree, or is that still on the menu (to be discussed starting in the fall of 2025)?

Date: 2005/12/08 13:36:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Forget the Cepheid variables; I wonder when gravity will enter the discussion. We've only gotten through two (or is it one?) of four forces. And from what I've understood from Bill so far (which admittedly isn't much), I'm beginning to wonder if gravity even figures into GOP's TOE at all.

Date: 2005/12/08 14:01:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 08 2005,19:37)
Let's return to one of Mr. Cordova's comments:
Darwinists are perennially distasteful when they're trying to defend their theory, not really very well humored....

   You may not understand his meaning, but talk to the average American and I bet he'd give you an earful. If you guys would only listen to him, you just might make some headway.
   Well, that's enough of that. You don't have to respond, but I'd appreciate if some of you would think about this issue. Anyway, back to the fun, and keep those questions flowing.......

Not being a scientist, and hence never having had to defend my life's work against sniping from those manifestly unqualified to have an opinion on the subject at hand, I can nevertheless understand why evolutionary biologists might become short-tempered when going over the same old ground with someone who insists he or she "isn't descended from monkeys," who insists "there's no evidence for evolution," "there are no examples of traditional life forms," "no one can say evolution happened because no one was there to witness it," etc. It can't be very much fun. Particle physicists don't have to go through it, cosmologists don't (for the most part, YECs notwithstanding), chemists, don't. If I were a practicing "Darwinist," or evolutionary biologist, I'd probably be feeling rather peeved and humorless these days. Given that IDists are only slightly less hostile to their work than your average garden-variety YEC, I can also see why many biologists fail to make what in their eyes is no doubt a distinction without a difference.

Date: 2005/12/09 08:59:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 09 2005,13:48)
A lesson on appearances versus reality:

The above fellow obtained a Bachelor's Degree in mathematics...

Doesn't this post belong in the "State of Denial" thread? I'd like to get past quarks, hadrons, nuclei, and maybe even molecules sometime before the end of the decade...

Date: 2005/12/12 07:30:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 12 2005,10:48)
When evos focus on arguments and facts, the debate moves forward; when they don't, it doesn't.

The same could be said of IDists. When the argument devolves into special pleading and ad hominem attacks, it all turns into a monumental waste of time.

Date: 2005/12/13 09:37:05, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Dec. 13 2005,14:43)
Righti-o, we all agree.  Adressing arguments: good.  Ad hominems: bad.  Appearances: decieving.  Death and taxes: inevitable.  Let's get on with the universe spinning around us.


I'm still waiting for Bill's explanation for the CMB...but we haven't even found out yet whether his "quintessence" interacts with the Higgs field.

Date: 2005/12/15 08:37:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 15 2005,13:57)
Now, the brighter bulbs in the evolutionistic community are aware of the differences in spin statistics between fermions and bosons.

Why the constant jibes at "evolutionists" when talking about particle physics? I doubt that many evolutionary biologists have more than the foggiest notion of what you're talking about. The differences between bosons and fermions (or even protons and neutrons, for that matter) are pretty much completely irrelevant to their field of study.

You've made your feelings about evolutionary biologists pretty plain, Bill, but the constant insults about their hazy understanding of science that's way, way outside their field of study smacks of nothing so much as crankiness. I wonder if your knowledge of, say, the Krebs cycle is any more detailed than their knowledge of the carbon cycle of nucleosynthesis.

Date: 2005/12/15 08:47:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 15 2005,14:10)
Gravity is a property of earth and water to move toward the center of the universe, it is not a property of air, fire, or quintessence. The rest of the universe is sustained by strictly electromagnetic forces.

I'm so disappointed. So this means none of the observations I listed a few pages ago will ever get any kind of explanation, Bill? And I've been waiting all this time...

But while we're here, I have another observation. Air pressure is higher at sea level than it is at 30,000 feet. But air does not have a tendency to move towards the center of the universe (i.e., the earth, I'm guessing), so what causes the pressure gradient?

Or do I need to wait until we're finished discussing the subatomic properties of "quintessence"?

Date: 2005/12/15 15:49:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 15 2005,21:23)
  How does this complaint follow from an analysis of my model? My reframing of the gravitational "force" has little to do with your observations, which will all be addressed in due time.

It's just impatience. Given that I posed my questions three weeks ago, I would have hoped we would have made some progress in answering them by now. But I guess given that we're overturning 500 years of physics, involving the work of uncounted thousands of scientists, it was unrealistic of me to anticipate answers in less than one lifetime.

I guess I'll have to leave the questions-asking to Mr. Cogzoid, since the kinds of high-level questions I'm asking will take a few hundred years to answer, at the rate we're going.

Hence the disappointment. That, and the fact that Mr. C seems able repeatedly to make criticisms of your theory you've had difficulty answering.

Date: 2005/12/16 12:13:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
To echo Mr. C: the only trap your theory can fall into, Bill, is its own shortcomings. Given the incredible range of phenomena it must account for in order to displace current theories, that trap is immensely deep.

Date: 2005/12/22 09:33:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Dec. 22 2005,13:57)
Good to hear. Hey Murphy, I haven't forgotten about you. What's your legal opinion on the upcoming Kansas trial? And if the Dover case does get appealed, how do you think the Supremes will rule (other than with their usual iron fist, of course). I think the Supreme Court is up for grabs myself...

I have to say I haven't followed the Kansas situation as close as the Pennsylvania case, but given the losing record creationists have amassed so far, I'm guessing it won't go so well for them this time, either. But as with any lawsuit, before the trial begins, it's pretty much a 50-50 proposition. Judges are, after all, humans, and therefore are hardly inerrant.

It doesn't look like the Dover case will be appealed, given the stunning defeat handed to the defendants coupled with the changes in the Dover school board, but if it goes to the Third Circuit, it's hard to imagine how the district court decision would be overturned. Generally appellate courts defer to the trial courts on issues of fact and determinations of witness credibility, which means normally a case would be overturned on questions of law. Given judge Jones's laborious application of the tests set forth in Lemon, McLean, and Edwards, among others, there's not much room for maneuver for an appellate court. If the case did make it to the Supreme Court, which seems even more doubtful, I'd expect a 7-2 or 6-3 decision in favor of Plaintiffs, depending on the makeup of the court at the time.

(But remember, I'm not an attorney.)

And in the are we doing with that quintessence? :-)

Date: 2005/12/23 19:49:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Could I? You know, like, interject for a moment here? We've been trying to get Mr. Paley to back up his assertions, and if we want to hear his backup before the universe grows old and dies, we could use a bit fewer distractions? Sorry to, you know, sound plaintive? But I've got some questions that are about 20 pages old now that need answers? Some day? Maybe?

Date: 2006/01/03 12:24:19, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I don't know, Bill. At your current rate of progress, I'm beginning to wonder if your Theory of Everything is really going to turn out to be a Theory of Nothing.

Date: 2006/01/10 11:18:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Hmm. I gotta say, Bill, the more I read, the more disappointed I become. So far you've claimed that your "quintessence" can slow down light, something any ordinary sheet of plate glass can do (albeit not to the point where light essentially stands still).

But I think we're still a few decades away from your proof that the cosmic abundances of protons, neutrons, hydrogen and helium nuclei, etc. which are so exquisitely related by the inflationary big bang theory to the temperature of the CMB in fact has some entirely different explanation. And then there's still the first one on my list from back in early November, i.e., the Hertzsprung-Russell relationship.

Should I just come back in, say, 2026?

Also, at risk of completely derailing a discourse that's already essentially plunged into the gorge, I suggest you give Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" a read. I think Mr. Diamond has some rather compelling ideas about the relative technological prowess of various cultures and why they might be that way.

Date: 2006/01/11 07:47:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 11 2006,11:10)
Just like his namesake, Mr. Diamond is a racist. He clearly advocates black supremacy in the prologue. I'll be happy to quote the relevant bits if you'd like.

This should definitely go in a new thread, but at even greater risk to life and limb of the train passengers, I do want to take issue with your claim that Dr. Diamond is a "racist." By any conventional use of the term, he most certainly is not a racist. I know the passages you're going to quote, and I'm going to point out that Diamond's opinion is not with regard to any genetic or racial differential, but rather a difference in intelligence due to situation and circumstances, which is a very different thing. He certainly says nothing that would lead one to believe he is advocating black (New Guineans are not racially black, for one thing) supremacy, or any supremacy, for that matter.

Anyone who discusses race or culture is obviously treading very treacherous waters, as you, Mr. Paley, are certainly aware. Diamond himself is very aware of how his dicussion of race and culture can be misinterpreted by those with a desire to misinterpret, and he says so in the book. But the truth of the matter is that a dispassionate reading of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" will provide no comfort to those who think that any particular race has any intellectual advantage over any other race, nor to those who think that any particular civilization's successes are due to the inherent superiority of its members.

And the truth of the matter, Bill, is even if there were provable, consistent differences in intelligence, fitness, propensity to crime, etc. among races or cultural groups, that would provide no ethical support for discriminatory practices. It would still be the case that each person should be judged based on his or her own personal merits, and not by the racial or cultural group to which he or she belongs. Human beings are individuals, not statistics. Even if you could prove that, e.g. caucasians were 50% more likely to commit crimes than, e.g., asians, would that mean laws should be enforced more diligently against caucasians?

In a word: no.

Date: 2006/01/11 09:45:05, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Jan. 11 2006,15:24)
Yet another distraction that keeps Paley from answering my questions.  (sigh)  Showing the inanity of your theory is only fun if you actually respond to my statements.

Maybe it's best this way actually, I'm much more productive when I ignore the silly online debates.

Yes, and that's why I hesitated even to bring up any other topic. I couldn't let the accusation leveled at Dr. Diamond to go unanswered, but even moving that discussion to a different thread is still going to slow down Mr. Paley's progress in even presenting evidence that his "quintessence" exists. Developing an internally-consistent mathematical model describing such a substance doesn't even begin to demonstrate that it actually exists, and if Bill's model cannot provide at least an equally compelling accounting for the vast range of phenomena that the current theories of cosmology, astrophysics, general relativity and quantum physics already account for, it will be what we've suspected all along: a waste of time.

Date: 2006/01/11 12:08:57, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, here's why Dr. Diamond is not a racist: regardless of whether he believes that New Guineans are genetically superior in some sense to other races, he is not advocating that New Guineans be given any extra privileges as a result of any purported superiority, nor that other races should be discriminated against based on even provable deficiencies, if any there are.

My observation that men are, in general, physically stronger than women does not make me think that women should be excluded from physically-demanding occupations. Any person's fitness for any occupation, whether it is physically, mentally, or emotionally demanding, should be based on his or her fitness for the job, not based on the statistically average fitness demonstrated by whatever race or culture he or she belongs to. Preferences based on race or cultural background are generally a short-cut, a lazy way of avoiding having to assess a person based on his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

That being said, an overwhelmingly strong case for affirmative action can be made based on exactly the kind of shortcut preferences I just criticized. Minorities here and abroad have consistently been short-changed based on their perceived shortcomings, and that is true to some extent even today. The whole purpose of affirmative action programs is to level a playing field that is still far from level. Anyone (like, say, Thomas Sowell) who claims that racism is dead in America really needs to get out more. Living in a city as multicultural as the one I live in, I don't need anything more that a walk down the street to see how institutionalized racism still is in America.

I'm assuming that since Bill says he's not a racist, he agrees with me at least on my first point, if not the second one.

Date: 2006/01/11 12:37:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 11 2006,18:15)
What is "afirmative action"?

Would I be right in guessing that it is similar to what is known as "positive discrimination" in the UK?

If so, then I  believe it is racist.

If you're calling "Affirmative Action" "racist," you're using the word in a way that may be technically correct, but nevertheless gives entirely the wrong idea. Here's why.

Americans of African descent ("Negroes," "Blacks," African-Americans," along with various less flattering epithets) have historically been discriminated against. For the first 70 or so years of this nation's history, human beings of African descent were considered property. Even today, all other things being equal, an African American is at a distinct disadvantage to Americans of European descent in the job market. Part of this disadvantage is due to institutionalized racism, and some of it is due to diminished opportunities due to previous racial discrimination. African Americans make up approximately 12% of the population here, but there are zero African American CEOs of Fortune 100 companies.

Given the imbalance in the opportunities afforded most African Americans in society, the intent of Affirmative Action is to offset some of that imbalance. It's difficult for me to sympathize with the occasional American of European descent who may have lost out in a bid for a well-paying job to an African American when I see the relative economic success of African Americans as compared to European Americans.

And if you think that African Americans have suffered in the marketplace because they are genetically less fit for the marketplace than European Americans, I'm afraid that makes you a racist by any rational meaning of the term.

Date: 2006/01/11 13:55:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 11 2006,18:44)
I suspect it's more than "occasional". And Asian-Americans are probably hurt even worse. Why should they suffer for something they weren't responsible for, even collectively?

If it were more than "occasional," we'd see the proportion of African American management professionals approach their proportion of the population at large -- regardless of whether you think African Americans are as qualified for those positions as European Americans. Since that's hardly the case, I think we can rest assured that such cases are, indeed, "occasional."

Living in San Francisco, where Asian Americans make up almost half the population, I can assure you that Asian Americans are doing pretty well. The law firm I work for is almost 40% Asian American, our estate planning clients (who pretty much by definition are affluent) are way more than half Asian American, my last two dentists were both Asian American (half the dentists in their building are Asian American). The idea that African Americans are crowding Asian Americans out of the professions is, quite simply, absurd.

Date: 2006/01/11 14:04:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 11 2006,18:58)
ericmurphy wrote:
And if you think that African Americans have suffered in the marketplace because they are genetically less fit for the marketplace than European Americans, I'm afraid that makes you a racist by any rational meaning of the term.

Why should a lack of ethnic representation in a certain sector be interpreted as either "institutionalized racism" or "inferior" genes? Why couldn't culture play a role? And if a numerical discrepancy is evidence for racism, does that mean that whites are discriminated against in sports, heterosexuals in the fashion world, and Gentiles in just about any intellectual profession you could name? In fact, this is the real reason so many middle-class blacks are antisemitic: they take this type of logic to its natural conclusion. This is one of the ways in which liberal philosophy encourages hatred (in my opinion).

Bill, we don't need to look at the statistics for evidence of racism in American Culture. The evidence for past and present racism is utterly overwhelming (gay people have never enslaved straight people and black athletes have never enslaved white athletes). You don't need to look at the statistics to see that institutionalized racism is a fact of life in America; all you need to do is watch television or look at recent historical events such as the Matthew Sheppard case in Massachusetts in the late 1980s.

That said, it's definitely true that culture can play a role. But, at least in the case of African Americans, the cultural argument supports my case. What happened to African American culture? It was systematically eradicated in the 18th and 19th centuries. What kind of "culture" are African Americans heir to? They've been forced to come up with their own culture sua sponte in a matter of a few generations, rather than the millenia European Americans or Asian Americans can look to for cultural cues.

Should African Americans' lack of an authentic, indigenous, deeply-rooted culture be held against them? What do you think?

Date: 2006/01/12 07:43:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
The problem as I see it:

The United States is bedevilled by extreme disparities in wealth and economic opportunity, disparities reminiscent more of Latin American banana republics than liberal democracies. Many of those disparities are the result of factors over which no one has any control. Let's face it, people are born with different capacities and needs, and no amount of legislation can correct for those differences (although I can probably give Bill an aneurysm by saying "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" might be a pretty good prescription for a just society).

However, some of these differences in opportunity are the result of historical events that are not very flattering to America's self-image as Land of the Free and Home of the Brave™. A history of institutionalized slavery is certainly one of these, as is its successor, institutionalized racism.

No one denies that these things happened. While some may deny that there are any lasting effects, that's almost as ridiculous as denying the Holocaust. The effects are plain to anyone who is willing to see. Regardless of whatever statistics Mr. Bill would like to wave about as to the causes of the relative poverty of, e.g., African Americans, it's impossible to deny that there is a systemic disparity in the relative economic opportunity of African Americans (and others) as compared to white Americans.

So, the question then becomes, what does a just society do to resolve these disparities? Well, one possibility is to just claim that African Americans are inferior to European Americans, Asian Americans, etc., and just ignore the problem, claiming it's either God's Will (if you're of that persuasion) or that it's Darwin's Will (if you're of the other).

Another possibility is to take as a given that many of the problems African Americans continue to suffer from are due to their treatment at the hands of their fellow humans, those European American guys, either in the past or currently.

If one makes that assumption (because, after all, there has to be some explanation for the lack of economic success of the majority of African Americans), then one is obliged to come up with some sort of remedy. A possible remedy is what became known as Affirmative Action.

It is not difficult to make the case that Affirmative Action has not been very successful. However, how long was affirmative action practiced as a matter of law in the United States? 40 years? That's hardly a generation and a half. How much success would one expect to see in a program over forty years that clearly would take generations to have a discernible effect on society? Would one expect to see parity between African Americans and European Americans on that sort of time scale?

(And in the meantime, I don't want to hear any whining about how Affirmative Action is "unfair" to white people. Take a look at the prison system and death row and then tell me you think American society as a whole is unfair to white people.)

This is what bugs me about conservatives. A program that conservatives don't like for ideological reasons (e.g., affirmative action, social security, medicare) had better work flawlessly or there's going to be constant pressure from the right to a) starve it of funds, and b) kill it once it's sufficiently weakened.

On the other hand, programs that are ideologically favored (SDI, Operation Iraqi Liberation -- oops, did I say that?) which clearly will never work, are funded to death, no matter what the results turn out to be.

I know you think Liberals have ruined the country, Bill. But there's a book I think you'd find pretty interesting. It was written by Kevin Phillips, an economist who worked for the Nixon administration. It's called "Wealth and Democracy: a Political History of the American Rich." He makes a pretty persuasive argument that the very programs conservatives decry are the ones which have done the most to better the lives of most Americans. Considering the subject matter, it's actually a pretty entertaining read.

Date: 2006/01/12 12:40:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ Jan. 12 2006,15:16)

In all accuracy, these disparities have existed in every society where wealth can be accumulated.

But if differences in "capacities and needs" (not to mention kismet generally) always produce such a pattern, can we really denigrate it with words like "bedeviled"? The slings and arrows of the inevitable?

My point is not that wealth disparities exist in America. My point is that those wealth disparities are unnecessarily extreme. The difference between the wealthy and the poor in, say, Sweden is much smaller than it is in the U.S. Is this a situation amenable to amelioration? I think it is. Is it just hopeless? Doubtful, since other developed nations seem to have dealt with it more effectively than the U.S. has.

I suggest that such a philosophy is a matter of scale. It seems to be not only workable, but the ONLY workable approach, in very small communities (immediate families, very small and tightly coupled teams). It breaks down terminally where people begin to feel that the fruits of their labors aren't being directly reciprocated. YOU may be comfortable living in a society where productivity is penalized so as to provide rewards for being unproductive, but few people are, and by trial and error (or by anthropological observation) this point is reached somewhere in the 50-100 person community. Beyond this point, the temptation to consume more "justice" than one needs is beyond the ability of too high a proportion of the members to resist.

But most developed nations do in fact have just such redistributive schemes in place. What else is a graduated income tax? What, for that matter, is any kind of insurance scheme? Both are methods of distributing wealth from those who have more of what they need (money, healthcare) to those who don't have enough of what they need.

While this disparity is undeniable, the circumstances of the Asian-Americans should not be so carefully tuned out. In comparison to African-Americans, the Asians share a goodly number of characteristics: They are immediately, visibly different. Offspring of European-Asian breeding look like the non-European. Active discrimination has been waged against them. They were never slaves, but they were surely demonized in the last Great War.

But you're overlooking one other major difference (and I think you're understating the significance of two centuries of slavery). Asian culture was never systematically eradicated the way Black culture was. While the first Asian immigrants to this country were transplanted to an alien culture, they were never prevented from preserving elements of their own culture. African slaves, aside from the obvious difficulties presented by becoming slaves, had the additional difficulties of having come from numerous disparate cultures all mixed together, and then suffering from having those cultures forcibly extirpated. Slaves were punished for speaking any language other than English, were prevented from becoming educated (with rare exceptions), and in general were treated more as livestock than as human beings.

Sure, Asian immigrants were mistreated, as were many European immigrants. But I think there are significant differences in the degree of discrimination which are largely responsible for the difference in economic progress Asian Americans have enjoyed by comparison to their African American brethren.

Yet the Asians excel in schools, on standardized tests, in business and in technology. Why? What truly major difference leads to this astounding disparity in social success between Asians and blacks?

Well, for one thing, there has been a constant, steady influx of Asian Americans from their own cultures. Of the Asian Americans who work for my company, the majority were born overseas, in their own cultures. How many Americans of African descent were actually born in Africa? How many are not descended from slaves? My estimate is that number of Asian Americans alive today who are descended from imported laborers in the 19th century is a small minority of the total.

I believe this difference in the history of African Americans versus Asian Americans really is at the root of the current disparity in achievement. Asian American culture receives a steady influx of immigration from the home country, something African American culture does not. There is no "root stock," so to speak, of African culture which can inform African American culture. It is not uncommon for first-generation Asian immigrants to be from a wealthy background. First-generation African immigrants are almost unheard of, to say nothing of wealthy first-generation African immigrants.

Moreover, while there is a history of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States, it has simply never been as brutal, or as institutionalized, as anti-black discrimination. In short, the differences in the experiences of Asian Americans and African Americans are much more notable than the similarities.

Date: 2006/01/12 15:58:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I give up. Although I guess if I could come up with an explanation that would satisfy everyone, I'd probably be in the running for a prize in Stockholm.

The only thing I can think of that is totally unique to the African American experience in this country is that, alone among all ethnic groups, African Americans were enslaved by white Americans. Obviously you do not agree with me that, 150 years later, that experience could have drastically affected the economic success of African Americans. Since it's difficult to constrain a curve through a single data point, it's possible we'll never know the answer for certain. But I think Dr. Diamond was onto something when he proposed that different degrees of socio-economic success are due to external factors, not genetic factors.

Let us imagine that, instead of simply exterminating the Jews, Nazi Germany enslaved them. Let's further imagine that the Thousand Year Reich actually lasted for 200 years. Let's imagine after 200 years of degeneracy, Germany once again became a liberal democracy. After 200 years of slavery, the Jews were freed through some sort of emancipation proclamation. How long would one suppose it would take these newly freed Jews to become the vibrant, successful members of society they currently are? Would we expect it to take less than four generations? Maybe so, maybe not.

Certainly a legacy of slavery is an external factor. It seems to me that it's a factor that dwarfs all others. And let's remember; the last generation of African Americans who had living relatives with experience in slavery only died out a generation ago. Surely it can be expected that a population descended from slaves will take more than a handful of generations to recover.

Date: 2006/01/14 16:40:00, Link
Author: ericmurphy
And Bill, I think it might be the case that my questions (with all due respect to Dan's fine work in this area) might be even harder and more time-consuming to answer, because they involve more complex phenomena with more detailed explanations under the standard theories (quantum theory, general relativity).

I understand you don't really believe the earth is the center of the universe and that everything else revolves around it, and that this is all an exercise in intellectual virtuosity. But that doesn't change the fact that these are all questions that need answers. And I haven't even begun to run out of questions yet. I suspect that Mr. C has plenty of his own as well.

Date: 2006/01/15 13:05:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 15 2006,17:0)
I realise I could use a little more focus, but I'm working on answers......promise. By the way guys, continually questioning someone's sincerity and using terms like "nutjob" aren't the best motivational strategies.  <!--emo&:D   I'll try to develop my redshift theory more in the near future. Eric, could you cut and paste your questions as well? Thanks.

I'm not really questioning your sincerity, Bill. At least from my end, you seem far too intelligent a guy to really believe that the earth is the center of the universe when the uncontroversial evidence points entirely in the other direction. If anything, I'm complimenting you by assuming that what you're really doing here is setting yourself an intellectual task to see if you can bring it off. After all, as I've said before, you're trying single-handedly to overturn the bulk of scientific knowledge slowly and painfully accumulated over the last 500 years or so, and speaking for myself, I wouldn't think less of you if you couldn't pull it off.

In any event, to save you the trouble of wading back through almost 20 pages of previous messages, I'll repost my questions to you here:

The Hertzsprung-Russel mass-luminosity relationship. According to your model, all stars (with minor exceptions) are at the same distance from earth: 4.5 ly. This means that all stars' apparent magnitude is equal to their absolute magnitude, and therefore their apparent luminosity is the same as their intrinsic luminosity. This means that the Hertzprung-Russel mass-luminosity relationship is broken, and there is therefore no relationship between a star's mass and its luminosity, or between its temperature and its luminosity. Therefore some other explanation is necessary for the different temperatures of stars. What is that explanation?

Galaxies. Since galaxies are all the same distance from the earth as the stars are (4.5 ly), either they're not made of stars at all (and hence are "nebulae"?), or they're made of extremely non-luminous stars. But stars have been resolved in some nearby galaxies, e.g., the Magellanic clouds. Presumably these are really tiny stars? Since their apparent luminosity is the same as their intrinsic luminosity…

Cosmic elemental abundances. (Is evopeach out there somewhere?). Presumably Bill's geocentric universe precludes a big bang, and therefore precludes primordial nucleosynthesis. Therefore, one needs some other explanation for the eerie concordance between the observed cosmic microwave background radiation and the predicted abundances of hydrogen, deuterium, helium, and lithium, which are exquisitely sensitive to the temperature of that radiation. Of course, we also need an explanation for the existence of the CMB in the first place, since the Big Bang evidently didn't happen in Bill's world.

Existence of metals. (Of course, I mean metals in the sense that astrophysicists use the term). I assume that supernovae don't happen in Bill's world, since a supernova occurring 4.5 ly away would preclude the existence of the earth. So, Bill—how did metals get here? I'm assuming since there was no big bang, they've always been here, but I'm hoping your answer is a little more entertaining than "I don't need to explain how metals got here, because they've always been here."

Cosmic redshift. Obviously, neither stars nor galaxies have a recession velocity, since they're all at the same distance from the earth (4.5 ly), and presumably always have been. So what accounts for the observed redshift? Tired light? Intervening dust? God playing tricks on us?

Distance to the celestial sphere. Bill, you say you know the distance to the A Centauri system. But how did you derive that distance? By its parallax? Even if, as WKV points out, parallax could be due to a wobbly cosmic sphere, you wouldn't be able to determine the sphere's distance that way. The reason we know the distance to A Centauri is because we know the diameter of the earth's orbit around the— oh, wait. The earth doesn't revolve around the sun. So what's the base of the triangle that allows us to compute the distance to the celestial sphere?

Date: 2006/01/16 06:00:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ Jan. 16 2006,10:12)
What bothers me is, IF you are right that it takes more than 2 generations to bounce back from adversity, why have all of the other immigration waves done so as easily as they have?

Because they didn't arrive here as slaves, they didn't arrive here to have their own culture systematically eradicated, and they simply did not suffer the level of racism and discrimination that African Americans have.

ALL of them faced severe discrimination, most of them didn't speak the language, most of them were dirt poor, few of them had any formal education, and at least in the case of the Jews, discrimination remains virulent.

No. For one thing, all the other immigrant populations (with insignificant exceptions) came voluntarily. How many African Americans today are descended from voluntary immigrants? And the level of discrimination is simply much higher for African Americans. Caucasians do not cross the street to avoid passing Jews or Asians on American Streets. To say that discrimination against Jews is as virulent as discrimination against African Americans is (sorry) preposterous. What proportion of the professions is Jewish, and what proportion is African American?

So as I tried to argue with ericmurphy, it's not sufficient to simply opine that 2 generations aren't enough for blacks, blithely ignoring the fact that it HAS been enough for *every other group*, despite explicit social handicaps.

To describe a legacy of slavery as a "social handicap" is kind of comical, don't you think?

And this despite the fact that blacks have been the recipients of a long and growing history of targeted social handouts the other groups never enjoyed (including welfare, affirmative action, various child care programs, and so on. While these programs have failed to have the desired effect, they DID transfer a whole lot of wealth).

With the exception of affirmative action, all of these other programs are equally available to all groups. And as for transferring a lot of wealth, the wealth transferred is dwarfed by wealth transferred in the other direction. Look at the defense budget and compare it to the budget for AFDC, if you want an example. Look at the Bush tax cuts, for another example. Look at the decline in corporate income taxes over the last 50 years for a third example.

So even granting that this unique and vast discrepancy with respect to *every comparable group* is cultural, we still haven't identified what there is about the culture that causes identifiable and frequently-resented out-groups like Jews and Asians to excel, but causes blacks to lag behind. The best we can do is exercise special pleading on a case-by-case basis. So I still think something systemic is going on here that we haven't extracted from the overall pattern.

I think we have identified the culprit. Of all ethnic groups in the U.S., African Americans have lagged furthest behind. Of all ethnic groups in the U.S., one has been enslaved for generations. Correlation doesn't equal causation, but I think in this case there probably is a connection between the two.

Date: 2006/01/16 14:25:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 16 2006,12<!--emo&:0)
I believe directed welfare and affirmative action can be counter-productive.

Yep. They sure can. But I believe they can also be helpful, and sometimes necessary. And I think it's disingenuous to bail on an experiment after 40 years that isn't likely to show results for at least several generations.

You are basically saying "these people can't compete".

I'm not saying these people can't compete. I'm saying they're still subjected to enormous levels of racial prejudice, far beyond anything Jews or Asians or even Hispanics are subject to, and you've got to level the playing field somehow.

For a short while I lived on a council estate in the UK (Ince in Wigan, Lancashire). This was almost entirely white. The culture there was to leave school and spend the rest of their life on welfare.
Not everybody of course, but it was the mainstream.

As far as I can tell the only thing causing these people to underperform was the way they CHOSE to live life.

Obviously just handing people a check every month is not going to persuade them of the need to get a job somewhere. But removing the incentive to work by penalizing welfare recipients when they actually do get jobs has got to be the worst of all possible worlds. Who came up with that idea. Was it someone who wanted the program to fail?

Date: 2006/01/18 09:59:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 18 2006,15:15)
Remember, the Algerians are not having their culture destroyed, nor has the current generation had to face the burden of colonialism. These are the children of people who have chosen to live in France, and are free to leave if they don't like it (harsh, but undeniably true). They receive extensive welfare and medical care that even many Amuricans can't afford. So yeah, I do beg to differ. Heck, I think that France would be a world power if they had done as I advise.

I'm kind of done with this discussion (I still say the key differences between African Americans and virtually every other ethnic group out there is a legacy of slavery and the deliberate destruction of their culture), but I did want to point one thing out to Bill. Given a choice between living in a country that takes care of its citizens and a country that's a world power, I'll take the former. What did being a world power ever do for the English?

Date: 2006/01/20 06:08:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 19 2006,20<!--emo&:0)

I explained this in my last post1. The redshift comes from the stars wobbling in the crystal sphere. Since the speed of light is greatly reduced in qunitessence, small changes in distance due to wobbling will cause frequency shifts in light that would make objects appear to have large recessional velocities assuming a uniform speed of light c. In addition, why should recessional velocity have anything to do with distance anyway?

No, Bill, your explanation doesn't work. For one thing, if redshift was coming from stars wobbling in the crystal sphere (which sounds like kind of sloppy divine workmanship to me), we'd expect to see a cyclic variation between redshifts and blueshifts, unless you're claiming the celestial sphere is slowly getting larger (maybe the quintessence is getting fatigued from exerting that immense centripetal force?). We do, in fact, often see blueshifts from objects within the Milky Way, consistent with objects moving more or less uniformly, but with measurable variation, around the galaxy's center of mass (and not around the center of the earth).

For cosmological objects, we do see predominantly redshifts, especially for objects outside the local group. We also notice that in general, the higher the redshift, the dimmer the object. Why might that be? Well, take the standard image of dots on an inflating balloon. All the dots are moving away from each other, and the further away two dots are, the faster they move away from each other. The same is true of any two particles in an explosion.

What is the simplest explanation for this observation? Why, that would be that the entire universe is expanding. If that were so, we would expect to see what we do in fact see: that the further two objects are away from each other, the higher their recessional velocity.

What do we have for confirmatory evidence? Well, Cepheid variables, for one thing. The mechanism of Cepheids is relatively well-understood, which is why we have confidence in the posited relationship between period and absolute magnitude. Therefore, Cepheids make an ideal "standard candle," and because they are generally very luminous stars, they are visible out to cosmological distances. Therefore, to within observational limits, we can use Cepheids to determine the absolute distance to galaxies within which Cepheids can be resolved. And guess what? We find that the further a Cepheid is away (assuming our relationship between period and luminosity is valid), the higher its redshift.

Type I supernovae have a similar utility, in that since we know the mechanisms in some detail, we have confidence in our belief that they all have similar luminosity. Supernovae have the added benefit of having extremely large luminosity (at some wavelengths they can been seen out to billions of light years). And what do we see? Again, the same thing. The further away a Type I supernova is, the higher the redshift. Which again is consistent with objects all moving away from each other. Of course, it's also consistent with the entire universe exploding away from the earth itself, but if you trace all those trajectories back, you find that 13.7 billion years ago, 10 ^ 60 Kg or so of galaxies and other assorted extremely heavy objects must have exploded away from the earth. Let's just say that sounds pretty unlikely.

The problem with your quintessence theory, Bill, is that it doesn't really explain anything. It does account, in a desultory fashion, for some phenomena, i.e., doppler shift in light quanta, but only in a simplistic fashion that doesn't explain very much else. Cosmological redshift, of course, explains a much broader range of phenomena, is consistent with virtually all observables (which your quintessence theory is already having difficulty with), and accounts for a broad range of phenomena, including things like the cosmic microwave background, the relative abundances of light elements, the shape of Einsteinian space, and the age of the universe. Your quintessence theory not only doesn't actually explain any of these phenomena or allow us to predict what they might be, it also explicitly excludes most of them (unless your geocentric theory allows for a big bang somehow).

Now, your hypothesis about quintessence's insanely high refactive index might change Hubbell's constant, but it would be inconsistent with other observations, and again, fails to explain a broad range of phenomena a much simpler theory already explains very well, and this simpler theory has the added advantage of not being contradicted (so far) by observation.

So far, I can only say I fail to be persuaded. Shall we move on to the next phenomenon in need of explanation, courtesy of Mssrs. Hertzsprung and Russell?

Date: 2006/01/23 05:38:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Perhaps I should break it down a little. Let's start with just the Cepheid variables. Where do they fit into your model, Bill? They fit really well into standard astrophysical and cosmological models; I'd be curious to see where they fit into your model.

Date: 2006/01/23 06:46:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 23 2006,12:36)
First I need to explain the discrepancy between predicted and observed blueshifts. Give me time and I'll detail it tonight.

I was under the impression that your model didn't predict blueshifts at all. Or perhaps it predicted stars that oscillate between redshift and blueshift with a 24-hour cycle?

Date: 2006/01/24 09:18:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I hate to nag, but…

I've been re-reading this thread, and noted that Bill originally promised his model for November 18. (Of 2005, not 2006, I believe, although he was never explicit about that.)

I've granted him several extensions since then, but only up through the end of November, as far as I can tell. He can only feel fortunate he doesn't have a Federal District Court judge breathing down his neck with an Order to Show Cause. :-)

Not trying to give you a hard time, Mr. G. But I would like to see your model a little more fleshed out before we all grow old and die. So far we've sort of, in a way, established the number of dimensions informing the cosmos (although according to the paper you cited the actual number should be a rational number, not an integer, which I'm having a hard time picturing), but I've got a list of observations in need of explanation stacked up like 747s above O'Hare on a snowy Thanksgiving...

Time to hit the No-Doz, Bill, and make like an undergraduate during finals week.

Date: 2006/01/24 15:35:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
So, I guess if we follow RLC's reasoning, the reason we should be more like Mother Theresa, and less like Adolph Hitler, is so we can enjoy the putative rewards of heaven, right? (One of my favorite cartoons shows some guy perched on a cloud in a toga with a harp, saying, "I wish I'd brought a magazine.") And possibly to avoid the punishments of ####, um, I mean, Hades?

So, somehow, sucking up to God, behaving yourself so you can get a reward and avoid a spanking, in some way imbues life with some sort of capital-M "Meaning"?

That seems like kind of a self-centered reason for trying to live a moral life. Certainly no better than my own motivation, which is to be able to feel good about myself and sleep soundly at night.

Date: 2006/01/25 09:02:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I also understand that you're attempting single-handedly to overturn 500 years of well-settled physics. Obviously this isn't something that can be done in a few months (or a lifetime, for that matter). So I'm not expecting a finished model. But you've got to toss us a few bones to gnaw on now and then, just so we know you're still working on it.

Date: 2006/01/25 15:49:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 25 2006,20:56)
That would be selfish, and I know you guys aren't that. Hopelessly deluded: yes. Selfish: no.

Hmm…this coming from a guy who insists the entire cosmos revolves around the earth…

BTW, I saw something recently about ice storms in Georgia and immediately thought of the Rev. Paley. But then I remembered there's that other Georgia.

Date: 2006/01/25 17:46:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I've been doing a fair amount of Internet research (for what it's worth) lately about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Avoiding, as far as possible, conspiracy theories (although the official story is certainly a conspiracy theory), I seem to have come across a large number of implausible anomalies. I'll include a partial list, but I'm wondering if those of you on this discussion group with more formal groundings in physics, chemistry, and related disciplines could give me some feedback into just how problematic any of these anomalies really are.

So here's the list:

• World Trade Center Towers 1, 2, and 7 are the only steel-framed skyscrapers to ever have suffered total structural failure—ever. While WTC 1 and 2 were hit by aircraft (certainly an unusual event), WTC was not. According to the official story, relatively minor structural damage and relatively minor fires caused the total collapse of WTC 7. By contrast, the Windsor hotel in Madrid, Spain, a 32-story hotel, burned for eighteen hours on ten floors last year without a total structural failure.

• All three towers collapsed vertically downward, into their own footprints. Normally it takes weeks of preparation from highly-experienced companies specializing in demolition to produce the same results.

• The level of piloting expertise demonstrated by the hijackers was nothing short of breathtaking. Despite never having flown jetliners before, the pilot of Flight 11 managed to hit a 200-foot-wide target within 15 feet of its centerline at a speed of ~400 MPH. The pilot of Flight 174 managed to hit the south tower flying at almost 500 MPH, and while he didn't quite manage to hit the target on its centerline, he managed to hit it with the aircraft banked at almost 30 degrees, causing damage to four contiguous floors. The pilot of Flight 77 managed a spectacular 270-degree spiral dive, passed over an adjacent freeway at a low-enough altitude to clip the tops of streetlights, and impacted the Pentagon at exactly zero altitude (in the least-occupied part of the building).

• Over 30 phone calls were made from Flights 11, 77, and 93. Some of these  calls may have been made by airphone, but at least some of them were definitely made from cellphones. One such cellphone call lasted 18 minutes, almost until the moment Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. The majority of these calls were made from jetliners flying at 30,000 feet or more over rural areas of the country. How possible was this using existing technology in 2001?

• Despite the fact that at least 60 commercial flights were intercepted by NORAD between September 2000 and June 2001, not one of the four flights was ever claimed to be intercepted on September 11. Jets scrambled from Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, which is less than ten minutes' flight time from Manhattan, nevertheless took over an hour to actually arrive over NYC airspace.

This is just a small sample of the anomalies I've managed to identify with respect to the events of September 11, 2001. Virtually every aspect of the official story seems to have glaring problems associated with it, with the result that it is virtually impossible to believe that any of it is actually true.

So...have I become a victim of crank-ology? Or is there something anomalous going on here?

Date: 2006/01/25 20:16:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Jan. 26 2006,00:57)
I am no expert but I am familiar with a few points...

I am not familiar with the Windsor fire, but the first question would be was the center of the Windsor structure the epicenter of an explosion of a 747 jet with full fuel tanks?  

The jet fuel in WTC 1 burned off in about 12 minutes. The majority of the jet fuel in Flight 175 (which struck WTC 2) exploded outside of the building, which resulted in the spectacular fireball visible in the videos of the collision.

Naturally-aspirated hydrocarbon fires burn at less than 650 degrees C, not nearly hot enough to seriously weaken structural steel girders in high-rises (especially given the thermal ductility of steel). Certainly fires burning for less than an hour and a half are not nearly hot nor long-lasting enough to cause this type of structural failure.

By contrast, the Windsor hotel burned for 18 hours.


The Twin Towers was one of the subjects and they interviewed numerous engineers and architects including some who helped design and build it.  The also used some computer animation.  I am not an engineer but the explainations offered were compelling.  They speakers were very much "when we build/deigned this, we did not plan for X to happen"  They showed where the buildings were dedinged to withstand a lot of stuff, but jet fuel and a internal exposion was not one of them.

The twin towers were designed to withstand impact from a Boeing 707, the largest passenger jet in existence in 1971, and approximately the same size as a Boeing 757 (not a 747—a 747 is almost twice the size of the 757s that actually crashed into the WTC towers). Surely it occurred to someone that a jet aircraft crashing into a high-rise would result in a fireball caused by exploding jet fuel. And again, all the jet fuel in both collisions burned off in much less than half an hour.

They also demonstrated how the impact affected certain braces, how once the temperature from the fire hit a certain level a literal structural melt down would occur.  Certain structures would melt or crumble and the floor would drop a certain bit as what was left was now holding up the entire floor/building.  They gave a pretty good blow by blow analysis including the final vertical drop.

Unfortunately, we'll never know for certain what caused the core structures of the WTC towers to fail, because there was no real investigation (the debris was disposed of in a matter of weeks), but I've seen photos of the debris on-site two weeks after the disaster. The core structure girders are clearly visible. None of them show any signs of bending, twisting, or distortion (to say nothing of melting), but all of them are neatly cut into 20–40-foot sections.

In any event, this site seems a reasonable, non-tin-hat-wearing resource for various problems with the official story. I recommend it to anyone who has doubts about what has come of out official stories: for example, at least four, and possibly more, of the originally-named 19 hijackers have turned out still to be alive, and vehemently protesting their innocence (one of the instances where merely being still alive is basically an iron-clad alibi). But the FBI, and the various congressional reports, have never retracted or corrected the original list.

Let's just say I'm feeling a bit skeptical about the whole thing.

Date: 2006/01/26 08:30:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
As I said before, I'm not discussing (or at this point interested in) whether there is some conspiracy involving the government (and as I said, the official story is nothing if not a conspiracy theory). I'm interested in discovering if the official story is plausible, or even possible.

Here's how I understand it: The force that actually brought the towers down was gravity pulling straight down. The collapses started when just one or two of the few damaged floors gave way, basically all at once.  It's impossible to say the exact sequence of events, but once one side of one floor gave out, the other sides of that floor couldn't hold. (If the side opposite the initial collapse was very very strong, it might have supported the structure long enough for it to start to topple over into the collapsed "notch"' like the felling of a tree)

Actually, I've watched the video of the collapse of WTC 2 (the south tower) at least a dozen times. In that video, it is clear that the upper 30 stories of the tower actually do start to "topple" (i.e., do not fall straight down) to the south side of the tower. Obviously, the top 30 stories of the tower should be more or less structurally intact; certainly no floor above the 85th floor suffered any structural damage. In the first few seconds of the collapse, this large, 30-story tall structure rotates about 7 degrees as a unit. About five seconds into the collapse, however, this entire structure, weighing several tens of thousands of tons (and which should have reached the ground more or less intact) completely disintegrates losing all its angular momentum, and collapses into the lower portion of the tower. What caused this catastrophic and virtually instantaneous disintegration of an object the size of a large 30-story office building?

The buildings were designed as a light tubular structures, with much of their strength in their outside edges.

This is incorrect. The major weight-bearing structures in WTC 1 and 2 were the immense core girders visible in the photos on this page. 47 box girders, 50 inches thick at their bases tapered to about 18 inches at their tops, were capable of supporting the entire weight of the building unaided. In the photo of the debris, none of these core girders shows any sign of deformation. They are all neatly snipped into 20-40 foot sections. In the video of the onset of collapse of the north tower, it is evident that the core structures, which may not have been damaged at all in the collision, failed before the perimeter columns.

WTC 1 and 2 each collapsed all the way to the ground in ~15 seconds. The free-fall time from 1,300 feet (the height of the towers) in a vacuum is ~9.5 seconds. Yet the towers fell through themselves, taking the path of most resistance. 500,000 tons of steel and concrete presented slightly more resistance to the falling debris than air would have.

The floors of the WTC towers consisted of lightweight concrete poured into steel pans, approximately 300,000 cubic yards' worth. All that concrete was converted into ~60-micron powder. There is insufficient gravitational potential energy in either tower to both cause the complete collapse of the towers and convert the entire non-ferrous contents of the tower to dust the consistency of talcum powder.

Each floor of the towers was approximately an acre in area. The floor pans surrounding the core structures was approximately half that area, meaning each tower had approximately 50 acres of steel floor pan topped with concrete. The concrete ended up spread over most of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, but I was unable to locate any evidence of the floor pans themselves in any of the photographs of of the debris. What happened to the floor pans?

A military aircraft not on high alert status can't just have a pilot jump in then take off. Lots of preperation (fuelling/armament/checks) need to be done before launch.

But as I noted, more than 60 flights had been intercepted in the 18 months before 9-11. Despite the fact that hijacked aircraft had been in the air for more than an hour, not one of them had been intercepted, even though some interceptors were already in the air at the time Flight 11 was hijacked. Further, none of the aircraft that were (belatedly) scrambled flew at more than a minimal fraction of their top speed (e.g., 400 MPH vice 1,500 MPH). At a bare minimum, the inability to intercept even one of the hijacked aircraft points towards inexplicable incompetence at every level of government, and after all, NORAD has no other mission than to protect American airspace from exactly this sort of attack.

When terrorists fly huge planes at huge buildings they usually miss (and presumably give up on the idea?)

As for the attack on the Pentagon, the maneuver taken by flight 77 was so extreme that military pilots questioned whether a human pilot could have executed it successfully.

When tall buildings fall down, they are supposed to 'topple over' like huge trees.

How likely does it seem that very asymmetrical damage could cause perfectly symmetrical collapse? Given the vastly larger number of asymmetrical failure modes, it seems unlikely unless it was planned that way. Did the hijackers plan for a perfectly symmetrical collapse, doing as little damage to surrounding buildings as possible?

In any event, it seems to me that indisputably the single most significant political event of the century deserves something more than the cursory investigation it’s been given so far. Before you dismiss me as the victim of crankery, I think you should review some of the material I cited above, cited here. Surely it’s worth your time. After all, don’t you want to know what happened on September 11, 2001? Surely the topic is not without its fascination.

Date: 2006/01/26 08:50:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Again, I am not for the moment discussing who orchestrated the attacks or why. I am merely interested in exploring whether the official explanation is plausible, or even possible.

Ah yes, that building which was hit at 400 mph by a 757 carrying 11,000 gallons of fuel...I wonder why it fell down....

Again, the WTC towers were designed specifically to withstand impact from a Boeing 707 flying at 600 MPH, which would transfer as much or more energy to the buildings than a 767 flying at 400 MPH. This is an easily verifiable fact.

I do not think anyone is going to be equipped to discuss this issue on this thread without looking at the links I posted previously. Once you've had an opportunity to look at that material, then we will have a basis for discussing whether the conclusions reached there are or are not reasonable.

As scientists or as people who are interested in science, I think we can all agree that it is pointless to discuss a hypothesis without first looking at the evidence proffered to support that hypothesis.

Date: 2006/01/26 10:07:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 26 2006,15<!--emo&:0)
Popular Mechanics: 9/11: Debunking The Myths
PM examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy theories of September 11.

And the response.

Date: 2006/01/26 10:14:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
And both towers did indeed withstand the impact.

But not the fires.

Before I go any farther, I'll look at your links...

But no high-rise had ever collapsed as a result of fires before. The FIB building, a 62-story high-rise in Los Angeles, burned for 3 1/2 hours, the worst high-rise fire in U.S. history. The Meridian Hotel in Philadelphia burned for 18 hours, with eight floors out of 38 destroyed.

What was so destructive about the relatively minor fires in the WTC towers. Tower 7 had even less damaging fires (not severe enough even to break windows), yet the entire building collapsed into its own footprint.

Date: 2006/01/26 10:34:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 26 2006,15:57)
Come on,
Those planes had only just taken off and were fuelled for a long haul flight.

The fires burned for ages before structural integrity was lost.

How can anyone honestly believe the government organised this?

Interesting how everyone immediately assumes that if the official story isn't true, then it must have been a government conspiracy. Given the overall lack of credibility the Bush administration has, I suppose this isn't surprising, but again, my point is not to assign blame anywhere. Frankly, I find it basically impossible to believe the whole thing was a government plot. But I want to know if the official story comports with reality, or if it doesn't.

But here's a question. If we assume the hijackers specifically were looking for large planes that would cause the most damage, why would they hijack mid-range planes, that were not flying to the limits of their ranges (none of the planes' fuel tanks were filled to capacity on takeoff), when there were available plenty of transatlantic flights on much larger aircraft available much closer to the targets? JFK has plenty of 747 flights (747s are almost twice the size of 767s). Furthermore, why would the hijackers fly the planes hundres of miles to the west, burning up more fuel, than fly hundreds of miles east, burning up even more fuel, to hit targets that were at most 20 minutes' flight time from the take-off points? (Flight 77, which took off from Dulles International, flew almost all the way to Cleveland before turning back to hit the Pentagon, which is only a few miles from Dulles.)

Further, hijacking transatlantic flights would have an additional advantage in that FAA radar only covers aircraft out to about 200 miles offshore. Instead of being on radar for their entire flight, transatlantic flights would only appear on radar for a few minutes before hitting their targets, vastly reducing the risk of interception.

The fires in WTC 1 and 2 burned for less than an hour and a half. Other high-rise fires burned for up to 18 hours without ever causing a structural failure.

Again, read the links before jumping to conclusions.

Date: 2006/01/26 10:52:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 26 2006,16:27)
Eric, that link was to help you get access to intelligent info, not to argue with you. I'm sure you can point me to responses to responses to responses to responses. If there's one thing cranks have, it's time to write webpages.

In your first post you seemed intrigued in the conspiracy nonsense, so I thougth I'd help point you toward something sane. But now you seem committed to the nonsense, so I'll let someone else waste his time.

Steve, I'm not committed to anything, one way or another. It does, however, seem to me that there are serious problems with the official story. So far, pretty much every objection I've raised has been met with an explanation that doesn't comport with well-established facts. The Popular Mechanics article seems to mostly shoot down straw men, while not addressing (or even raising) some of the more serious issues. Michael Shermer's article in Scientific American, while at first seeming pretty persuasive, suffers from many of the same defects.

I'm definitely most open-minded about these issues, but merely dismissing my concerns without actually addressing them is not very persuasive, I'm afraid.

And one more time: I am not, not not not, interested, for the moment, in any "conspiracy theories." My questions are entirely related to whether the official explanation is plausible, or even possible, without regard to what organization is actually responsible. Without knowing what happened, it is fruitless to speculate about who caused it to happen.

Perhaps it would be best to view my questions as being in the nature of a devil's advocate. If my questions can be met with answers that seem reasonable, I'll be satisfied. But so far, I haven't seen any answers that seem reasonable. Admittedly, the three high-rise collapses are unprecedented in world history, which makes for a rather limited data set. But the mere fact that nothing similar has ever happened should be enough to stimulate a detailed investigation, shouldn't it? But no such investigation has, to my knowledge, ever been carried out.

Date: 2006/01/26 11:02:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 26 2006,16:54)
Well at that point in time USA internal flights had less security protection than transatlantic I would assume.

I also believe that the towers structure was unusual. IIRC the main strength was in a single central column.

Actually, the main strength of WTC 1 and 2 was derived from 47 steel columns, extensively cross-braced, which by themselves were capable of supporting the entire weight of the building. More information is available here.

Date: 2006/01/26 11:17:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Actually, I've read the NIST report. Have you? It's about 300 pages, and it doesn't even discuss what actually happened after the "onset of collapse." The NIST report never even menions WTC 7. Meanwhile, the FEMA report (why is FEMA investigating anything? FEMA is not an investigatory agency. Where is the FBI, CIA, DIA investigation?) states in essence that it has no explanation whatsoever for the WTC 7 collapse.

The issues raised by 911 research have not, as far as I know, been dealt with in any scholarly report. If you can point me to a report that explains, e.g., how a gravity-driven collapse can result in the reduction of the entire contents of a 110-story office building into ~60 micron powder, I'd be glad to read it. But I am so far unaware of any such report.

And in the meantime, can we keep the ad hominem attacks to a minimum? Have I insulted you, or anyone else, on this board (with the possible exception of some mild ribbing directed at Mssrs. Evopeach and Paley)?

Look. I have no emotional investment in this issue. I'm driven by curiosity, nothing more. If you, or anyone else, can come up with some plausible explanations for what happened on September 11, I'm all ears. So far, those explanations have simply not been forthcoming.

Date: 2006/01/26 11:37:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 26 2006,17:17)
Please lay out your questions and I will try to adress them.

The link is not very clear in making your point.

What do you think the actual reallity might be?

Okay. Question 1: the three WTC collapses were, and remain, the largest structural failures in world history. Why was Ground Zero not treated like the crime scenes they clearly were. Even if one assumes that the 19 hijackers (at least four of which, strangely enough, seem still to be alive) are actually responsible, and the collisions did cause these catastrophic collapses, where is the investigation into the modality of the failures? A single jet crash analysis can take months, during which the debris is preserved and carefully studied. The debris from the WTC collapses was removed starting only days after the disaster. Why is this?

Question no. 2: The fires in WTC 1 and 2 were nowhere near the worst in history. Other high-rise fires were orders of magnitude more severe. WTC 7's fires were if anything even less severe, and WTC was never hit by an aircraft. What caused its collapse? (In fact, no one really has any idea.)

Question no 3: normally it takes weeks of preparation to demolish a high-rise building so that it collapses into its own footprint. There are a handful of companies in the world with the knowledge and expertise to accomplish such a feat. Yet on one day, three different high-rise buildings collapsed in the same fashion, entirely by accident (WTC 7 is a particularly stunning example--watch the videos). Does this seem likely?

Question 4: WTC 1 and 2 were 110-story office buildings. The entire contents of the buildings, exclusive of structural steel, were converted to powder. No office chairs, no computers, no telephones, no copiers, or even debris therefrom. Is this possible in a collapse entirely driven by gravity?

I have many, many, many other questions, but these should be a good start. And remember, "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer.

I hesitate to propose an hypothesis about what really happened (especially in light of the veiled hostility even bringing up the subject seems to engender), but is it possible that buildings could have been demolished using explosives? And remember, positing a controlled demolition does not necessarily implicate the government. No one is blaming the govnment for the 1993 attack.

Date: 2006/01/26 12:00:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I've dealt with most of your arguments before you even made them:

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 26 2006,17:34)
The two main towers had aircraft flown into them with lots of fuel on-board. They had only just taken off. The structures burned for quite awhile before collapsing.

Most of the jets had been in flight for half an hour or more before crashing. Neither WTC 1 nor 2 burned for more than an hour and a half before collapsing. Other high-rises burned for up to 18 hours without collapsing. What explains the difference? Remember, the jet fuel had mostly burned off 12 minutes after impact.

The buildings collapsed from burning, not impact.

This sidesteps the issue of how they collapsed. What caused the perfectly symmetrical collapse, regardless of the cause? Normally such perfect collapses take weeks of preparation.

The two that hit the WTC had to aim an aircraft at the centre of a large structure. They had received pilot training. Granted, not on such large planes. But surely it could be an analogy of someone with a car licence aiming a truck.

The WTC towers are 200 feet wide, about 50 feet wider than the planes themselves. The pilot who struck the North tower hit it within 15 feet of its centerline, at 400 MPH. I believe hitting such a target at such a speed is far more difficult than hitting a lamp post with a bicycle.

I have been on aircraft where people have used mobile phones. The cabin crew had to tell the eejits to turn them off.
While mobile phones are not guaranteed to work on an aircraft, I have personal experience of people using them.

Were they actually able to establish a connection, and complete a call, while at cuising altitude and speed? I flew from San Francisco to Orange County recently, and I could not even get a signal, let alone complete a call, while flying over downtown San Francisco at less than 5,000 feet. We're asked to believe that a minimum of ten calls were completed, many callers were able to complete multiple calls, all from aircraft flying at 30,000 feet or more at speeds in excess of 400 MPH over rural Pennsylvania. Maybe it's possible, maybe it's not, but doesn't it seem just a little unlikely?


The aircraft used in the 9-11 atacks were comercial aircraft taking off as scheduled within USA airspace. They were on normal flight paths until (and even after) being hijacked.

Flight 11 diverged from its planned course within 20 minutes of takeoff, almost half an hour before it crashed. Flight 93 was off course for almost an hour before it crashed. Flight 77 was off course (and supposedly off radar) for almost half of the time it was in the air.

Date: 2006/01/26 12:07:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 26 2006,17:55)
When the towers collapsed how much energy do you think was released?
IIRC they even managed to cause local earth tremmors. Just collapsing caused structural damage to nearby buildings through shockwaves in the ground.

Not enough energy to convert the buildings to powder. Controlled demolition, which uses explosives to weaken the building from top to bottom, doesn't produce nearly enough energy to reduce the entire building to powder. I witnessed a controlled demolition once (the Geneva Towers complex in San Francisco), and noted the large amount of debris created from collapsing two relatively small 20-story buildings. The debris field left by the WTC collapses was not noticably larger.

Steve, I've noticed that many of the questions you've asked me have been addressed extensively in the links I posted. Is it possible that you haven't read any of them yet? If not, I encourage you to do so. After you've read them, I'd be interested in your take as to their credibility. If you think they're hogwash, and can give me some reasons why you think so, I'll probably be persuaded to rethink my position. But so far you haven't really said anything that defeats any of the arguments given in those links. We all know Bill Paley is fond of posting links to support his arguments, but when I've actually followed his links, I usually discover that he's misinterpreted (or perhaps overinterpreted) what those links actually say. I may be guilty of the same thing. But until you've actually reviewed the material, I don't think you're really equipped to make informed decisions as to the credibility of that material.

Date: 2006/01/26 12:17:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Please. People. Read some of the material at the links I've posted. We simply cannot have a reasoned discussion on this topic until you have. If, after reading the information at 911 Research you believe these guys are completely wrong, then we'll have something to discuss. But so far we're mostly dealing with issues that in my opinion have been addressed extensively there.

I know a lot of you guys spend time on Uncommon Dissent and the AIG sites. The stuff on the 911 site does not seem to me to be nearly as cranky. If you have to hold your noses for a few minutes, my apologies. But these aren't, for the most part, my theories. If you can poke holes in the arguments of those theories they actually are, I'd be glad to hear them. So far, I haven't seen very many holes.

Date: 2006/01/26 13:29:19, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 26 2006,18:47)
It's simple heuristics. One doesn't have infinite time, so one has to make decisions about how to spend one's time. There are a million conspiracy loons out there.

See, Steve, here's the problem. It's the same as a Creationist saying, "You know, I've heard about this "evolution" conspiracy thing, and frankly, I just don't think there's anything to it." What kind of credibility does a statement like that have.

Now, you may not think looking into this issue is worth your time. That's fine, and we all have to make decisions as to what we spend our time on. But if you're not willing to look into the situation, are you sure you're qualified to have an opinion on it?

Now, on to a couple of points you make:

Without reading any link you provide at all, here's what I know:

2 said buildings managed to stand upright for over an hour before the steel warped and bent enough for collapse.

Nope. I've studied the debris field from a high-resolution (9000 X 9000) image, and there's no evidence that any of the core columns warped or bent, at all. Every visible piece of core column is perfectly straight, and broken into 20-40 foot pieces. How could heat cause structural steel columns to fail in this manner? This isn't based on anything other than a simple observation of the photographs (in fact, I've never seen this particular point addressed anywhere). It's a phenomenon in need of explanation.

3 I saw the footage 100 times, didn't see any secondary explosions.

I have video from the network coverage of the collapses, and secondary explosions are clearly visible. You need to give the videos another look.

4 An engineer interviewed by my local paper, the News and Observer, 4 years ago, who was involved in the project, said he knew they'd come down.

He new before they came down, or after? The CEO of Controlled Demolition, the company that completed the demolition of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, didn't know they would come down, and neither did the firemen in WTC 2. And why would they? No steel high-rise had ever failed before, except through deliberate demolition.

5 Reports have been issued by MIT, NIST, the American Society of Civil Engineers, &c &c, none of which expressed incredulity.

I've read the NIST report, which has numerous flaws and misleading statements sprinkled throughout it. I also know that the FEMA report expresses no opinion as to how WTC 7 collapsed. The NIST report doesn't even mention WTC 7. Does that seem like a thorough report to you?

6 The Feds have a hard enough time not looking like idiots in the wake of a hurricane, so big undetectable plots in manhattan in broad daylight....

I agree that the government does not seem competent to pull off a conspiracy like this. But I've never claimed to believe the government had anything to do with it.

I understand, Steve, that you don't wish to take the time to evaluate the claims made by 911 Research. That's certainly your right. But I don't think you can reasonably attempt to rebut those claims without examining them in the first place.

Date: 2006/01/26 19:13:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Ved @ Jan. 26 2006,23:45)
Dammit, now I just watched all the south tower video links. Thanks.

And no, there are no explosions at all as they start to fall, sorry.

Did you watch the videos for the North Tower? They're quite visible. There are powerful explosions, centered on each visible face of the building, coming out of one or two windows, five to ten floors below the level of debris ejection from the building.

What happens when a 100 story building falls on itself? One argument you've used says that the whole thing fell too perfectly cleanly into it's own footprint. Then your rebuttal argument to my explaining how it wouldn't topple completely over says that it did indeed start to topple (which I would agree with) but somehow this doesn't cancel the so-called problem of the perfection of the building's fall.

It doesn't cancel the problem, it exacerbates it, because the top 30 stories of the south tower, which did indeed begin to fall to the south of the tower, instead disintegrated, despite having suffered no damage. What caused this disintegration? What caused a 30-story chunk of skyscraper to literally dematerialize? A 10,000 ton object that starts to rotate around a fulcrum attains immense angular momentum. What became of that momentum? Why didn't that entire 30-story chunk of the south tower land squarely on WTC 6?

Now there seems to be a problem of "secondary explosions", as if somehow no part of a collapsing building is allowed to deviate from plummeting straight down. What would happen if you squooshed a bug under your fist? Would guts not fly out away from your hand? There's no explosion going on...

Again, did you actually read any of the material I linked to? So far no one who has posted to this thread has addressed a single issue presented in any of the material on that site.

Date: 2006/01/26 19:35:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Ved @ Jan. 26 2006,23:45)
Dammit, now I just watched all the south tower video links. Thanks.

And no, there are no explosions at all as they start to fall, sorry.


Do you maintain that this video video of the North Tower shows no evidence of demolition charges?

Date: 2006/01/27 05:50:00, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, guys. Since no one seems willing to actually read any of the material I've provided, I don't see the point of continuing this discussion. Points are raised again and again that are dealt with comprehensively on the 911 Research site, leading me to believe that no one has actually really looked at the site except in the most cursory manner.

Given the lack of detailed official investigation, I find this lack of interest curious. But in any event, I can see that my detailed skepticism of people like Evopeach and GoP hasn't given me any credibility here (not that I need any; it's the site you should be reading, not arguing with me).

You can argue that you don't have time to read a site, but I don't see how you can argue that you don't have time to read a crank site when you haven't spent enough time with the site to have determined its crank level.

Date: 2006/01/27 07:16:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 27 2006,12:43)
The links I followed, pro-conspiracy seemed to me to be all about "he said, she said" stuff.

The PM site apeared to be far more rigorous with evidence.

With regard to the buildings collapse. Those films got viewed around the world. If it was a controled explosion, do you not think an awful lot of engineers and demolition experts would have noticed?

Seriously though. If you have any evidence then provide it. Personally the only thing that I considered might have credibility was that possibly the 4th plane was shot down.

Then again, if it was (and I doubt it), I would have no problem with that.


Did you read 911 Research's discussion of the PM report? Would you care to discuss it with me?

Did you look at the discussion of the NIST report?

If you think those articles are bogus, that's fine. But I'd like to hear why,

Date: 2006/01/27 09:46:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 27 2006,14:54)

You have forgotten to consider the vibrational frequency of the quintessence sphere.  This frequency is approximately 2 Pi/24000 years, and hence makes the period about four times the true age of the universe. At the moment of creation the intelligent designer compressed it, and then let it go. Hence, at this time in history the sphere is experiencing its maximum acceleration. One big hole in the big clang theory that even members of the cult of evolutionism have noticed is that the stars seem to be receding from us at an accelerated rate.  This requires a continuous force acting upon them the big clang does not provide. However, the quintessence sphere models this acceleration perfectly. The mathematics behind this is probably simple enough that it could even be taught to

some members of the ACLU! I have now conclusively proved my model and discredited the evolutionistic alternative.

Wait a minute. I know I'm not a mathematician, but what does a frequency of 2 Pi/24,000 years mean? That sounds more like a period to me. A frequency should be expressed in Hz, or cycles per minute/hour/year/century or whatever unit you want to deal with. What's the frequency or period in units we can use? A perriod of 2 PI/24,000 years is a lot less than a year; it's on the order of two hours.

And furthermore, where do you derive this frequency from in the first place? Where do you see observational evidence that the universe is in fact vibrating? If the period is, as you claim, greater than the age of the universe, then how do you know that there's even a period at all? What if current trends continue without ever reversing?

And how does this model explain differing recession rates? If everything is the same distance from the earth, shouldn't the recession frequencies be the same, and more to the point, all in the same direction? Why do we see some blueshifts?

Also, your claim that the observation that the universe seems to be expanding at an increasing rate is hardly a "big hole" in the inflationary big bang theory. Granted, it's not clear exactly what is driving the expansion, but it's not like the theory is in danger of being scrapped. For one thing, strong evidence in favor of increasing expansion is only 8 years old. But already several hypotheses are on the table accounting for observation, and none of them involve positing a crystalline sphere 4.5 ly in diamter comprising the entire universe.

Date: 2006/01/27 11:42:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Bill, I was wondering if I could possibly, respectfully make some suggestions for your model. Generally, astronomy and cosmology are observational sciences. In other words, for the most part, astronomical and cosmological models are constrained by observation.

But so far, it doesn't seem that your model takes observation into account at all. I understand that you're trying to achieve mathematical consistency in your model, but the history of astronomy is littered with internally consistent models which fail to comport with observation.

It might be a good idea to leave off the math and physics sites for a while, and spend some time perusing the astronomical sites. Your latest post claims to have "conclusively proven" your model, and yet you have not yet accounted for a simple fact of observational life: many astronomical objects out there demonstrate blueshift. So far your model seems to have ignored this stumbling block. I don't think your model can progress (let alone be said to be "proven") until it overcomes this relatively glaring shortcoming.

Date: 2006/01/27 13:58:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 27 2006,14:54)
One big hole in the big clang theory that even members of the cult of evolutionism have noticed is that the stars seem to be receding from us at an accelerated rate.  This requires a continuous force acting upon them the big clang does not provide.

I followed the link Henry provided, and came across the following:

Taking this as an indicator that this sort of energy exists, we can explore what effect this might have from a cosmological standpoint. Regardless of the expansion of the universe, the zero-point energy density remains constant and positive. This leads to the rather curious (and non-intuitive) conclusion that the pressure associated with dark energy is negative. If one plugs a component like this into the standard BBT equations, the effect of the negative pressure is larger than that of the positive energy density. As a result, in a universe driven by dark energy, the effect of its gravity is to accelerate the expansion of the universe, instead of slowing it down (as one would expect for a universe with just matter in it).

Seems the "evolutionists" have anticipated your problem with their theory, Bill.

Date: 2006/01/27 18:53:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
For those keeping track at home:

The good reverend's last substantive post before today's was on January 19th, eight days ago. The last substantive post before that was on January 9th, eighteen days ago. Given that so far we haven't been blessed with a coherent accounting for doppler blueshift, let alone cosmological redshift, it's going to be a long, long time before we get an actual coherent, well-integrated cosmological model.

I know it sounds like I'm harping, but I've never really believed the Rev. would be able to overturn 500 years of well-settled, thoroughly confirmed astrophysics and cosmology (to put it mildly). Nevetheless I'm dying to see what he comes up with. My guess is that I'll be able to throw up objections to his theory for basically the next 200 hundred years, if I live that long.

Date: 2006/01/28 12:32:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 28 2006,16:19)

The number should read: (2Pi)/(24,000 years). Sorry for not making this clear before. And yes, I will include the derivation of this figure in a future post. The equation is a simple ODE. I suspect you'll be disappointed Cogzie.

More later.

Yes. 2 Pi/24,000 years means to me the same thing as (2Pi)/(24,000 years). Which works out to approximately 2.29 hours. Unless it's supposed to be a frequency (which is what you implied in your original post), but a frequency is customarily expressed as so many oscillations per unit of time, e.g., 10.48 oscillations per day (which appears to be what (2Pi)/(24,000 years) is equal to).

In any event, period and frequency are essentially the same thing presented in different units. I can't think of how I would interpret (2Pi)/(24,000 years) as being anything other than a period of a bit less than two and a half hours, which I think we can all agree is quite a bit less than the true age of the universe, and not four times the age of the universe, which is what the Rev. stated in his earlier post.

That being the case, we wouldn't expect to see stars oscillating between redshift and blueshift every 24 hours; we'd expect to see it every couple of hours. Since this doesn't happen, I think we can essentially rule out Bill's model as contradicted by observation. Unless I'm completely misinterpreting Bill's language, but regardless of where he derives (2Pi)/(24,000 years), it doesn't appear he's any closer to accounting for doppler shift, or cosmological redshift, than he was back two and a half weeks ago.

Date: 2006/01/28 18:26:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Jan. 28 2006,21:39)
Eric, you are quite wrong here.  1/time has the same meaning as a frequency.  You're getting confused because you're not realizing that the unit "years" is in the parentheses.  He left it in this form so it would be easy to see the period, which is, indeed, 24,000 years.

Okay, I guess I am confused. So is he saying that the unit is whatever one wants to call a slice of time of 24,000 years' duration? It's been a long time since pre-calculus, and longer since trig, but doesn't 2Pi basically mean one cycle? In which case he's saying one cycle per 24,000 years? I guess I still don't see how the period of oscillation is four times the true age of the universe, unless the good reverend thinks the universe is only 6,000 years old.

In any event, I'll leave the hard math questions to you, Dan, and I'll ask the easy non-math ones, like how does Bill believe astronomers are right about dark energy, but wrong about comparatively simple things like stars with a parallax of more than a parsec and a half or so, and where does parallax come from in the first place?

Date: 2006/01/29 14:45:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Jan. 29 2006,15:31)
You're asking great questions, keep it up.  I just wanted to keep you from wrongly hammering on a point for too long.

I appreciate the correction, Dan. But the funny thing is, despite being off by a factor of either ~16 orders of magnitude (for the real age of the universe) or ~8 orders of magnitude or so (for Bill's age of the universe), all my other objections stand.

So, Bill, where does the blueshift come from?

Date: 2006/01/30 10:05:00, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 30 2006,15:50)
What math? Where?


My dear Ved,

Is the phrase "F U" part of the liturgy of the mother church of evolutionism referred to in my post? It wouldn't surprise me, for the linguistic performance of members of that group tends to be stunted at that vocabulary level.

Bill, I'd be careful about slinging arrows at the scientific community, when doing so will provoke easy comparison to the linguistic performance of members of the various fundamentalist churches, especially those in the American "Bible Belt" (and I'm talking about English and other natural languages, not glossolalia).

Now, about them blueshifts...

Date: 2006/01/30 12:25:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 30 2006,17:35)
Now, about them blueshifts...

Now, this equation governs the angle-independent motion of quintessence and explains the redshift. However, there are blueshift anomalies that need to be explained. They are explained by the fact that r(0) and r'(0) are functions of the polar and azimuthal angles of the sphere of the fixed stars. Hence, the entire sphere is not all vibrating simultaneously. Therefore, there are some stars that have blueshifts.

Okay, how does it explain differing redshifts, which range from z=~0 to z > 3? And how does it explain the fact that different ranges of redshifts also correspond to different categories of astronomical and cosmological objects? I.e., redshifts > 0.1 are rare for intragalactic objects, redshifts > 1 are rare for anything other than extremely energetic galaxies and quasars, and redshifts > 3 are almost unheard of for anything other than quasars.

And as for blueshifts, there is no obvious correspondence between azimuth/right ascension and approach/recession velocity. If the sphere is vibrating with harmonics (I'm assuming that's what you mean when you say it's not vibrating simultaneously), there should be some fairly straighforward pattern of red- and blueshifts.

The patterns of red- and blueshift, are well-accounted for, however, by reference to the dynamics of stellar orbits around the galaxy's center of mass and to the large-scale structure of the galaxy.

Further, extremely high blueshifts are extremely rare, but extremely high redshifts are extremely common. What up with that?

Also, your implied age of the cosmos (~6,000 years) is plainly wrong. The evidence that the earth is ~4.5 E 9 years old and that the universe is 1.37 E 10 years old is essentially unassailable. In other words, for you to be right about the age of the earth, we'd have to jettison virtually everything we know about astronomy, geology, chemistry, paleontology, biology, cosmology, relativity, and quantum physics. In other words, we'd have to jettison virtually all of science.

I think there's the same problem here there was with your misunderstandings of phylogentic relationships among taxa, Bill. You seem to have a blind spot when it comes to how evidence from very different and independent lines of reasoning can all converge on the same answers. You spent a lot of time arguing about discordant results obtained from gene and protein analysis, while completely disregarding an immense body of evidence derived from totally separate lines of inquiry, like morphological comparisons, the fossil record, plate tectonics, and cladistics.

I was recently reading this article on TalkOrigins about various YEC claims. One thing that jumped out at me was that the various methods the YECs used to estimate the age of the earth varied over an enormous range of dates, from ~100 years to about 260 million years. Didn't that give the YEC guys pause as to the validity of their methods? All the various methods--stratigraphy, paleontology, plate tectonics, radiometric dating, paleomagnetics, theories about planetary formation--converge on one value: ~4.5E9 years. The YECs' methods generated estimates all over the map. The only thing they had in common was that they were all at least an order of magnitude lower than the accepted value.

That should have set off some warning bells, I would have thought...

Date: 2006/01/30 13:27:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Zardoz @ Jan. 30 2006,19<!--emo&:0)

Evidence for the Big Bang

Date: 2006/01/30 20:38:32, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Henry J @ Jan. 30 2006,23:15)
Wonder if one of their "estimates" came from the gravitational-collapse theory of solar power that was around before nuclear fusion was understood.


Yes. Lord Kelvin figured prominently in their arguments:

This age is attributed to Barnes (14). Barnes (14) summarizes and supports the arguments developed first in 1862 by Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), who calculated that the Earth could be no less than 20 million and no more than 400 million years old (127). Kelvin’s calculations were based on the presumption that the Earth was cooling from an initial white-hot molten state, and his calculations determined how long it would take for the observed geothermal gradient to reach its present configuration. Kelvin also calculated that the Sun is probably no more than 100 million years old and almost certainly no more than 500 million years old (126). These upper limits for the age of the Sun were based on his estimate of the available supply of gravitational energy, which, he concluded, would not last many millions of years longer. Nuclear reactions, which we now know are responsible for the Sun’s fires, were unknown in Kelvin’s time. The value of 24 million years, preferred by Barnes (14) and listed by Morris and Parker (97) as the age of the Earth, is attributed by Barnes to Kelvin but was, in fact, first published by King (73). Lord Kelvin (82), however, agreed with King’s value and adopted it as a likely upper limit for the age of the Earth.

(Dalrymple, internal citations omitted)

Date: 2006/01/30 20:43:38, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Jan. 30 2006,21:27)
And maybe one day Arnason will find it. Let's review some complaints of the original  Arnason study:

1) No tetrapods
2) Not enough lungfish/coelacanth species
3) Bad root, partly due to 1)

etc. etc. etc.

If the point of your post is that portions of the phylogenetic tree are controversial, you'll get no argument from me (or from any evolutionary biologist, either).

If your point is that the phylogenetic tree is completely wrong, well, all I can say is…you're completely wrong.

Date: 2006/01/31 07:03:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ Jan. 31 2006,11:57)

This was finally explained to me, because I couldn't understand what Ghost was trying to say either.

And I've explained this at great length to the good reverend previously. While there's a great deal of controversy as to the root of the tree (we're talking organisms that diverged a billion and a half years ago or more), and there's plenty of controversy about various twigs and leaves, huge portions of the tree are very well established. Bill seems to have a huge hangup about where, e.g., lampreys and hagfishes fit at the base of the craniata clade, but he doesn't seem to understand that lampreys are more closely related to humans than 97% of the organisms out there.

There's not much controversy in the field that hagfishes are more closely related to humans than either are to, say, digger wasps. And all three are more closely related to each other than any are to mushrooms. In broad outline, the phylogenetic tree is well established in this form. Bill seems to be hung up on the indisputable fact that sometimes the genetic and protein evidence is difficult to figure out, and uses those difficulties to argue that there is no phylogenetic tree at all. Which is clearly wrong.

Further, as Dr. Theobald has pointed out, given the astronomical number of phylogenetic trees that could be constructed, the fact that two trees derived from different lines of evidence converge at all is strong evidence that common descent with modification is a fact in need of explanation, not a hypothesis in need of evidence.

It's like arguing that because scientists don't have a clear understanding of the interpretation of quantum physics, that quantum physics must be completely wrong.

Date: 2006/02/01 09:00:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Feb. 01 2006,13:0)

Yes, metaphysical assumptions drive my what? Every hypothesis resides in a philosophical matrix, including those derived from a naturalistic point of view. One can't test a piece of a theory without implicitly probing the rest. That's how the model becomes consistent not only with itself, but with the rest of the universe. Which is pretty much science's goal.  <!--emo&;)

The philosophical assumptions of your model are pretty clear, in the same way that Einstein's assumption of  a static universe led to his insertion of the Cosmological Constant (which, no matter how hard we try, won't seem to go away).

But the other half of the equation is in two parts: 1) the model must match observation; and 2) the model must in some way provide a conceptual framework for the range of phenomena it seeks to explain.

So far, your model isn't doing so well on 1), and I'm pretty sure it will never be able to achieve a better framework under 2) than currently exists under less, shall we say, outlandish models (although the existing models are certainly not slouches in the outlandishness sweepstakes).

Date: 2006/02/01 11:03:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (zilch @ Feb. 01 2006,16:14)
ericmurphy- On point 1), I must disagree.  The advantage of having a model created by magic is that it can match any observation without even breaking a sweat.  To wit: it was objected that some stars are blueshifted.  The ghost model complied with observation by developing wobbles, presumably in just the right directions and velocities to match the observations.  Other, as yet unanswered objections will find their proper wobbles in the fullness of time, I'm sure.

Well, I suppose if your standards are low enough, you can always come up with a model that will fit some observation. But I'm willing to bet that Bill will never be able to come up with a model that will fit some observations without being contradicted by others. It's just too big of a tap-dance, too much like a game of Wack-a-Mole.

But it will be entertaining to watch him try.

And as for the blueshift, his model no more accounts for actual observed blueshifts than ID "accounts" for bacterial flagella by claiming they were designed by a designer.

Date: 2006/02/03 11:52:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I'd like to get the doppler blueshift/redshift and cosmological redshift stuff out of the way so we can move on to the rest of my questions. At this rate, it's going to be ten years before I need to think of any new ones…

Date: 2006/02/06 16:39:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Feb. 06 2006,19:30)
Certainly you should be able to address the questions that deal with showing your work.  Unless, of course, you skipped all the work and jumped straight to the conclusion!


It's pretty clear by now—isn't it?—that that's exactly what's happened. Mr. Bill has obviously reached the conclusion—geocentrism—first, and now is trying to develop a model that will justify that conclusion.

Does this remind you of any other group of "theorists"?

Date: 2006/02/10 13:31:48, Link
Author: ericmurphy
In order to keep this thread from scrolling right off the first page of ATBC, I thought I'd ask the good Rev. for a status update on his attempt to explain the various lengthenings and shortenings of wavelengths out there.

It would be great to get that stuff out of the way, so we can move on to a brand new theory of nucleosynthesis, since the old one obviously isn't going to work in a cosmos nine light years wide.

Date: 2006/02/13 10:14:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
When the U.S. ranks dead last among developed nations in science and math, maybe the IDiots running this country will realize that they've shot themselves in the foot financially with this silly superstition.

Nothing will wake up a right-wing fundamentalist like a wallop to the wallet.

Date: 2006/02/13 10:45:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy
So Bill—is it time to shut this thread down? Your posts are getting further and further apart, and your substantive posts are down to barely one a month.

Again, I understand that overturning half a millennium of science takes time. But I think we were all under the impression that you already had at least the framework of a theory already put together. Your piece-meal attempts to address our objections to your theory (none of which, I might add, have been adequately addressed yet), leaves one with the impression that you're just starting to come up with the bare outlines of a theory attempting to reach a preset conclusion.

All in all, the more we look at it, the less any of it looks like actual science.

Date: 2006/02/15 16:05:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Feb. 14 2006,17:23)
.....and people wonder why I'm so unrelenting - look what happens when I drop my guard.


Bill, here's the problem: you come out with guns blazing, trashing not only evolutionary biology but basically all of physics (or at least, astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics). You claim that evolutionary biologists are cretins, you unaccountably lump astronomers, astrophysicists, and cosmologists—basically anyone who believes the earth goes around the sun rather than the other way around—in with biologists by referring to them as "evolutionists," and then claim to not only be able to debunk their theories, but also to be able to blow away the scientific community with your own virtuoso performances in mathematics, physics, astronomy, and biology.

Then, when you're called upon to back up your assertions, it turns out you don't actually have a theory of biology or astronomy, but rather are trying to cobble both together after the fact, and appear to be essentially forcing the observations to fit your theory, rather than the other way around, which is exactly the sin of which you accuse about half the scientific community of being guilty.

Is it any wonder that you're the recipient of a certain amount of skepticism and hostility?

Date: 2006/02/16 08:27:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Feb. 16 2006,10:53)
True enough, but what I'm complaining about is people confusing fact with speculation. Everyone assumes that I'm simply ducking out of an argument (which is OK), and then uses that assumption to trash me. But nobody can possibly know my motives; all that's available is the circumstantial evidence of my actions. Not that this really bothers me, and I actually like most of you guys. But what about someone with a thinner skin? I've seen too many gang-ups on this site (present company excluded).

I'm not assuming you're backing out or giving up. But I do think (well, to be honest, I'm damned near certain) you've bitten off more than you can chew, and frankly I'd be surprised if you could back up your assertions in less than five lifetimes of work.

I'm hoping you're not ducking out, because I honestly am curious to see what you come up with. It should be fun to see if I can come up with objections to your theory as fast as you can propose it. So far, I'd have to say I'm way ahead of you in that game.

But as far as "ganging up" goes: well, Bill, that's basically how science works. When someone comes up with a wildly novel theory, everyone else in the field piles on with objections. No doubt sometimes it feels personal. But given your well-known contempt for "evolutionists," "liberals" (i.e., "traitors" in current parlance) and other assorted evildoers, it can't surprise you that you're getting some push-back from other posters here. Right?

Date: 2006/02/16 10:17:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Feb. 16 2006,15:19)
But what about the more delicate types who dislike the insinuations about their motives? It seems like many posters here treat every evo skeptic as a manipulative liar. This doesn't sell your movement well...

Well, obviously I can't speak for anyone other than myself, and in any event generalizations are always hazardous. Likewise, not every evolution skeptic is a manipulative liar. But, as luck would have it, many (Dembski, Ken Ham, Jonathan Wells) are. So it's not entirely surprising that many evolutionary biologists see all evolution deniers as manipulative liars.

And you don't actually have to lie to deceive. For example, you just referred to evolutionary biology as a "movement" (specifically, my movement). This is actually a pretty deceptive characterization. Evolutionary biology is not a "movement," it's a discipline. The theory is sufficiently well-established that no one with adequate understanding of the theory to have a legitimate opinion of it doubts its correctness, in the generality if not in the specifics. Evolution happens; there's no reasonable or credible doubt about that. The exact mechanisms are of course open to dispute, and the relative importance of various mechanisms is even more open to dispute.

But given the disingenuous tactics used by many high-profile evolution deniers, it's unsurprising that many scientists in the field get defensive and suspicious when confronted by someone who claims that, e.g., the consensus phylogenetic tree is a sham. I haven't seen you personally, Bill, come out with an out-and-out lie yet, but I do think some of your statements tend to mislead, intentionally or not. It may be due to an insufficient understanding of the theory (that's my guess), but given your occasionally inflammatory comments in the past, I can understand why someone might suspect the worst of you.

Date: 2006/02/18 18:43:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Steverino @ Feb. 18 2006,09:19)
I haven't been out here in some time...are we all still waiting for GOP to post his "check back on Monday" theory?

Dude, I know the urge to please others is great but, pick a realistic date and then meet it. ???

I'd estimate that a realistic date for Bill's cosmological theory is probably somewhere in the 35th century (given how long it took to get from Galileo to Guth et. al., and Bill's working solo).

"Guts to Gametes" might only take a hundred years or so, but if he works on both simultaneously, that might push out the geocentrism thing another couple of centuries.

Date: 2006/02/21 13:56:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Feb. 20 2006,17:44)
Broken link...

The link works if you just click on the underlined word "Snopes."

Date: 2006/02/23 09:48:19, Link
Author: ericmurphy
As a non-specialist (and non-scientist, for that matter) I have to say I still find it surprising that the vast bulk of professionals who doubt evolution seem to be non-biologists (with a preponderance of physicists, computer scientists, and mathematicians).

I imagine that if they thought about it, a lot of biologists might have issues with some of the weirder predictions of, say, quantum mechanics or superstring theory. But it seems that most biologists are smart enough to realize they don't have the background to have competent opinions on the subject. Could it be that members of the "hard" sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, engineering) think that biology is sufficiently uncomplicated that non-specialists know enough about it to hold competent opinions about it?

For my money, biology is at least as complex as particle physics. And it's a lot less amenable to mathematical analysis. Maybe that's what keeps tripping up the likes of Berlinksi (who seems to do creditable work in mathematics) and Dembski (who doesn't).

Date: 2006/02/27 13:11:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I guess that Fields Medal will have to wait until next year. Or am I being optimistic?

Date: 2006/03/07 12:25:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (W. Kevin Vicklund @ Mar. 07 2006,11:18)
Sorry, I know this is responding to a five week old post, but I just saw it and realized no one had made the rebuttal that was immediately apparent to me

I have to say, it's been amusing to watch how Rev. Bill will post some snippet of his slowly-evolving theory, maybe a couple of hundred words, and then he'll get maybe ten times as many words back in objections to his theory. It seems that in many ways, the harder he works, the less progress he makes. And he's only dealing, so far, with one objection, of the six objections to his theory (which evidently didn't actually exist at the time) I originally raised four months ago.

Date: 2006/03/10 07:49:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
If I recall, there are actually two versions of the "anthropic" principle. What these guys are talking about is also known as the "strong" anthropic principle, i.e., that the universe must have been created with us mind (which strikes me as, if nothing else, a colossal misallocation of resources). But the "weak" anthropic principle basically just says, since we cannot exist in a universe that cannot support life, we should not be surprised to find ourselves in a universe that can in fact support life.

Interesting that two principles having similar names can essentially be opposites in terms of their support of ID/Creationism. One would tend to support it, while the other severely undermines it.

Date: 2006/03/14 13:12:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
One other point. The rev. is mistaken in attributing cosmological redshift to the Doppler effect. This is a common misapprehension. Cosmological redshift is due to the expansion of space, not to the kind of velocity differences that, e.g., change the pitch of a siren as it goes by the observer.

And more generally, Mr. Bill seems to be mostly talking about the redshift of intra-galactic objects, which has an entirely separate cause from the cosmological redshift induced by the Hubble Flow.

Of course, given that in Bill's world, there is no meaningful distinction between intra- and extragalactic objects, I doubt his theory distinguishes between the two phenomena anyway.

Date: 2006/03/14 13:20:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
And all this, to account for an phenomenon that has a perfectly straightforward explanation with no recourse to unobservable "quintessences," the invisible hand of god, or even to much in the way of math. And Bill's model, by the way, flies in the fact of all kinds of other phenomena (i.e., my other objections to his hypothesis) which essentially completely invalidate his model in the first place. (So far, Bill's model doesn't even really address the issue of differing parallax for different nearby objects, let alone the various forms of redshift.)

So much for Occam's razor.

Date: 2006/03/14 20:32:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Cosmological redshift really shouldn't be referred to as a Doppler shift because the cause is very different. Cosmological redshift is technically caused by the stretching of photons' wavelengths as space itself expands. Therefore, for cosmological redshift, the amount of redshift of a given photon varies (i.e., increases) as the universe ages. Doppler shift is due exclusively to velocity differences, and therefore will not change once the photons are emitted. It's a fine distinction, but a distinction nevertheless.

But as you point out, Bill seems to be hopelessly lost when it comes to the subject. His oscillating quintessence seems to be an attempt to accommodate the fact that some stars' radiation is redshifted and some is blueshifted, but if he actually reads the literature, he's going to find it basically impossible to come up with any combination of oscillation modes that will fit the pattern of red- and blueshifts observed. For one thing, there are certainly astronomical objects with arbitrarily-close angular separations from each other with radically different redshifts or a combination of red- and blueshifts, which even if his jello-mold quintessence shimmies like a Daytona Beach pole-dancer, will never fit observation.

And believe me, accounting for redshift is the least of his model's problems.

Date: 2006/03/15 07:55:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (cogzoid @ Mar. 15 2006,13:12)
Just to play devil's advocate: In general there is always a combination of oscillating modes that can produce a particular pattern of redshifting and blueshifting.  It's just a matter of how ridiculously complicated it has to be.  But, Paley's theory is impervious to complexity, naturally.  He'll have to argue that God worked very hard in trying to deceive us.

Maybe. But here's a hypothetical that probably actually exists out there: a local planetary nebula with a z=.001 or something, through which shines the light of a hi-z (say, 3.5, 4, 4.5) quasar. Good luck trying to get the quintessence jiggling in the right direction to account for that.

Date: 2006/03/25 09:50:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 23 2006,18<!--emo&:0)
Does the public school system teach that life begins at conception and therefore abortion is the extermination of human life?

If one more anti-choicer says "life begins at conception" my stupidity meter is going to blow up. Is an unfertilized cell not "alive," Thordaddy? Is a sperm cell not "alive"? Is an epithelial cell lining your lower intestine not "alive"?

This whole "life begins at conception" argument has got to be the dumbest argument the religious right has ever come up with. Using the same logic, I could argue that scraping your tongue with your toothbrush in the morning is murder, because of all the living cells you're killing.

Give me a @#$%!ing break.

Date: 2006/03/26 19:26:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 26 2006,07:12)
 Are those quotes you use around "life begins at conception" supposed to signify something I said?  Are you now claiming that the conventional scientific wisdom is that life does not begin at conception?  When does it begin, scientifically-speaking?

It's something you did say, hence the quotes (yes, I'm aware you're attributing the words to someone else).

The concept of trying to figure out where life "begins" is pointless. If something is alive, it's alive. The whole argument is breathtakingly stupid, and to even ask the question shows you don't have a clue. And given the number of "pro-lifers" who are also pro-death penalty…don't even get me started.

Date: 2006/03/27 14:12:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 27 2006,19:40)

Although I agree that life begins at conception (self-evidently so), I merely asked (not stated) why the public school system did not teach this scientific fact.  Your argument is weak and is further weakened by your refusal to answer when new life does begin, scientifically-speaking.

PS  I think you're along the lines of that Surely Not character, but the lack of rebuttals to your weak argument is again quite telling.

Agree? Agree with whom? Certainly not me. Life does not "begin" with conception. Life doesn't have a beginning, other than some time several billion years ago. An unfertilized egg is just as "alive" as a fertilized one is. A human female is born carrying all the ova she will ever have.

Merely framing the abortion debate in those terms demonstrates one's abysmal ignorance of biological fact.

Life does not "begin" at conception. It "began" in the distant past. If schools are teaching that life begins at conception, they are teaching a falsehood.

In what way am I "refusing" to answer your question of when life begins? Do you now see why the question and the answer are both entirely irrelevant to the issue of abortion rights? Or do I need to find yet another way of stating the same thing?

My argument isn't weak; it's unassailable. Your argument, on the other hand, is unintelligible.

Date: 2006/03/27 17:05:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 27 2006,21:35)
So life does have a "beginning," but only one beginning?  Is this your stance?  So your life began, scientifically-speaking, a couple of billions of years ago?  Is this the claim?

Life may have had many "beginnings." For all we know, life arose, and was wiped out (asteroid strike, solar flare, volcanism) multiple times, before finally becoming permanently (more or less) established on earth. But that happened billions of years ago, and yes, and I am at one end of  an unbroken chain of living organisms going back that far. That's reality. Deal.

Then in contradiction, you say,

"Merely framing the abortion debate in those terms demonstrates one's abysmal ignorance of biological fact.

"Life does not "begin" at conception. It "began" in the distant past. If schools are teaching that life begins at conception, they are teaching a falsehood."

So you go from "[l]ife doesn't have a beginning" (your words) to life "'began' in the distant past."  Which is it?

What I actually said was (this is the quote), "Life doesn't have a beginning, other than some time several billion years ago." Is there a contradiction there? If I say "There wasn't anyone in the car, other than the driver," am I contradicting myself? Are you a native speaker of the English language?

What I see is that you aren't sure whether life has a beginning or not and you might be billions of years old. LOL!

No. What I see is that, like most anti-choice zealots, you cannot distinguish between "life" and "consciousness." When does consciousness begin is a valid question, and currently no one can honestly say for certain. But it's a solid hypothesis that consciousness requires a central nervous system, and a blastocyst sure doesn't have one of those.

As more than one person has pointed out to you, a fertilized ovum is no more "alive" than a sperm cell, or a paramecium, or a bacterium. And it's unclear whether it's any more "conscious" than any of them, either.

Date: 2006/03/28 07:31:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 28 2006,06:32)

I've never seen as much flip-flopping and distortion in such rapid succession.

Life had no beginning, life had one beginning and life may have had many beginnings.

I say for the purpose of this argument it would be smart just to settle on the fact that YOU began at conception.  Since you don't know when you became conscious and human life, as far as I know, must first exist before there is consciousness then it stands to reason that conception is a very important matter, indeed.  Besides, you aren't really a couple billion years old.

Get over yourself, Thordaddy.

If you could read and comprehend what I'm writing, you'd realize that my point is that it doesn't matter when life begins. You're hallucinating if you think I, or anyone else in this discussion, is doing any "flip-flopping" on this point (gee, I wonder which way you voted in the last presidential election). On this utterly trivial and stupid point, my position has been unchanging: that life had a beginning (whether it happened more than once or not, and no one knows the answer to that question) billions of years in the past. Can you possibly understand that simple statement?

For the purposes of the abortion debate, the question of when life "begins" is utterly meaningless. The only question that is of even remote applicability to the abortion debate that is grounded in biology (as opposed to ethics, religion, etc.) is when does an embryo become conscious. That's very much an open question, but as I said before, we can all be pretty comfortable in saying a group of a hundred cells (to say nothing of a single cell) is not conscious, any more than a fern, or a jellyfish, or a diatom is conscious.

Your insistence that life "begins" at conception is at worst wrong and at best meaningless.

Date: 2006/03/28 08:39:48, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ Mar. 28 2006,13:55)
ericmurphy, you might enjoy PZ's comments on the whole 'life begins at conception' nonsense.

Hey Steve,

Yes, a whole bunch of arguments I hadn't thought of as well, but I think it's really Thordaddy who needs to click on your link to give him an idea of how meaningless the entire question really is.

But Thordaddy's mistaken notion of when life "begins" points out a major problem with a lot of right-wing thinking these days: the more general notion that most things in life are black/white, wrong/right, on/off. Life is vastly more complicated than that, and contrary to a lot of these right-wing notions, there are often many other choices. Abortion is only one issue (and, in a perfect world, a minor one at that) among many for which life simply refuses to boil down to a simple good/bad, right/wrong, living/non-living dualism.

Of course, most of Thordaddy's other "facts" (the majority of HIV cases are gay? Not in Africa they're not; and who these days really believes that "intelligence" can be boiled down to a single dimensionless number?—to say nothing of the complexities of trying to control for cultural bias, socioeconomic status, individual genetic variation which is greater intra-race than between races, etc. ) are nothing of the sort.

Date: 2006/03/28 10:47:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ Mar. 28 2006,15:38)
Yeah, but i sent it to you because you'd appreciate it. Thordaddy can't tell sh1t from apple butter, as we say in the south.

Good point. And the link does also make a good argument that, contrary to the assertions of the right wing, there is a difference between a zygote and a child, and calling a zygote a "child" is on its face preposterous.

Date: 2006/03/28 16:54:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Once again Thordaddy demonstrates his inability to comprehend clear, unambiguous English sentences:

Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 28 2006,18:59)
It doesn't matter to you and yet you still argue in favor of pointlessness and meaninglessness.  Huh?  Would your parents say your conception was pointless and meaningless?  Have you or will you claim your children's conception to be pointless and meaningless?  Ok... do whatever, but don't try to convince the rest of us that these "beginnings" are pointless and meaningless just because they are to you.  If this is what science has to offer, what's the point?

Where did I say conception was meaningless? I said that arguments about when life "begins" are meaningless within the context of the abortion debate. As I've said a million times before, life does not begin at conception. Can we possibly get past that point? I'm sick of repeating myself.

But then you say, "life had a beginning," which is tantamount to saying life began at conception.  This is exactly what I believe.  Life begins at conception.  You are certainly coming around.

WHAT?!! Saying life had a beginning, at some point in time, is tantamount to saying it began at conception? Are you out of your mind? Or are you as logically-challenged as you are semantically-challenged? Life began some time in the distant past, not "at conception." Can you understand the distinction between "in the distant past" and "a few decades ago"?

Excuse me if I'm missing the science in your statement.  The question of when life begins would be very important if it coincided with the emergence of consciousness.  And that is the very debate, isn't it?  Some claim human life begins at conception and some claim it begins at some unknown point after conception with the emergence of consciouness.

Thordaddy, I have to ask: are you drunk when you write this stuff? We already know that the onset of consciousness does not coincide with the onset of life, unless you're willing to entertain the notion that sperm cells (along with every single other living organism--algae, liver cells--on the planet, arguably including viruses) is "conscious". You're placing points in issue that were settled long ago. No one but the most utterly clueless would argue that life =  consciousness.

Once more from the top, Thordaddy: Life Does Not Begin at Conception. Can we finally, at long last, get past this point?

There is certainly no evidence as to when one becomes conscious and yet you are adamant that it DIDN'T begin at conception.

If you're saying no one knows at which point, exactly, a fetus becomes conscious, you and I can agree (evidently the only point on which we agree). But if you're still going to maintain that it's even possible for a fertilized but undivided ovum to be conscious, you're quite frankly out of your mind.

 You must concede that consciousness REQUIRES human life first and foremost, but you won't concede that human life is conscious from its conception.  This is fine, but you run into a problem.

I don't have to concede this at all. I'm pretty sure that, e.g., dogs, cats, dolphins, chimps, etc., are possessing something at least roughly synonymous with, if not identical to, consciousness. So you've lost that point too.

On your second point, I can't imagine how anyone could possibly think that a freshly-fertilized but undivided human ovum could possibly be possessed of anything worthy of the name "consciousness," unless you're using the term in some novel sense that you have not yet defined.

If a zygote is not human life then a zygote, much like a ovum, sperm, flower or bacteria cannot become conscious.

God, man, can you possibly start making a distinction between "consciousness" and "life"? No one is saying a human zygote is not human life (normally I'd assume that we're limiting our discussion to human zygotes, but based on the way this discussion is going so far I'm not sure that's a valid assumption). The point everyone else here is clear on is that a human zygote, at the moment of conception, simply is not conscious. Is this point really that hard to grasp?

If you are conscious and hence represent human "life" and where at conception a zygote, then it stands to reason that a zygote can become conscious.  

Can we file this under "another statement of the bleeding obvious"? Yes, a human zygote can become conscious. So can an unfertilized ovum. So can a sperm cell. Did you have a point here somewhere?

And because a zygote can become conscious, it stands to reason that it must be human life and not the equivalent of a ovum, sperm, flower or bacteria.

This, on the other hand, goes in the "bleeding non-sequitor" category. Because a zygote (any kind of zygote? a corn plant zygote?) can become conscious, it must be a human zygote? Well, what if it's a chimp zygote? Are you going to argue that chimps are not conscious? Or that if a chimp zygote can become conscious, it must in fact be really a human zygote? I'm afraid you've completely lost track of your argument.

On the other hand, I know exactly what my argument is. Here's the take-home lesson, Thordaddy: life does not begin at conception. Consciousness does not begin at conception. There's very little special about the moment of conception. Yes, a fertilized ovum has a somewhat greater chance of becoming a person than an unfertilized egg (or a sperm cell for that matter) does, but it has a lot less of a chance of becoming a person than a third-trimester fetus does. There's certainly nothing inevitable about a fertilized ovum becoming a person.

Drawing the line between personhood and non-personhood at the moment of conception is entirely arbitrary. Which goes back to my point that life simply is not as black-and-white/right-or-wrong as many on the right would like us to believe.

Date: 2006/03/28 20:03:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy, you're so far removed from your original argument I doubt you can even trace your way back there. Your original position was that life begins at conception, and that schools should teach this "fact." It has been pointed out to you in no uncertain terms that life does not begin at conception, but you stubbornly refuse to accept that fact.

Somehow we now find ourselves wandering around in the weeds of trying to define what a human life is, which aside from being a waste of time in this context, is essentially undecidable. Society has defined and redefined personhood often enough to make it clear that there is no such definition. Certainly none that has applicability to your argument.

You're asking me to describe the difference between a human infant and a dolphin. I'm trying to imagine what possible connection this could have to whether schools should teach a falsehood, i.e., that life begins at conception, and frankly I'm at a loss.

I admit that consciousness can exist in non-human organisms because they have the necessary hardware, i.e., a central nervous system, to support consciousness—something a blastocyst emphatically does not have. You're trying to obscure a very simple issue here. A zygote does not have consciousness by any rational meaning of the term. You're acting like there's an argument here, when there isn't one. You're simply wrong.

I most certainly do have an idea of when my consciousness arose. It arose at some point after I developed a central nervous system capable of supporting consciousness. That I can't pin when that happened down to a particular date and time doesn't change that fact. But when I achieved a state of consciousness has absolutely nothing to do with at what point I became "alive," and you stubbornly refuse to make the distinction between the two.

Has a sperm or ovum ever evolved into a human? No. Neither has a zygote. Evolution doesn't work that way. Has a sperm or an egg ever developed into a human? Sure. It happens a few thousand times every single day.

There's nothing inevitable about a fertilized egg becoming a human, abortion or not. Are you really so uninformed as to believe that every fertilized egg necessarily develops into a fetus, to say nothing of an actual person?

It's certainly no more arbitrary than drawing the line between personhood and non-personhood at the emergence of consciousness.  Afterall, you don't even know where that line is!  Now that's arbitrary.

You're making my point for me. Any attempt to draw a line between personhood and non-personhood is necessarily arbitrary, and if you think you can get science to do it for you in a non-arbitrary way, you're dreaming.

You're looking for a way to torture science into giving you a certainty where there's no certainty to be had. Life is not as black-and-white as you imagine it to be. You will never get science to draw the line you want it to draw, so if I were you, I'd quite while I was behind.

Date: 2006/03/29 18:28:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[quote=thordaddy,Mar. 29 2006,23:03][/quote]

thordaddy asks, "So if your life didn't begin at conception then when did it begin?"

ericmurphy responds, "I DON'T KNOW when my life began, but I KNOW it wasn't at conception!"

After all this time, you still don't get it.

When life begins is utterly meaningless in the abortion debate. Whether you think life begins at conception, at birth, at the onset of puberty, at the point your mom's ovaries started producing ova before she was born, or whether it was back at the dawn of time has no relevance whatsoever to the issue. Nor is this a subject that should be taught at school, which was your original point, if you can remember back that far.

This is the same kind of stupid argument that the Creationist thinks he wins when he notes that you can't tell him the time and day of the week when the first chimp popped out the first human.

The question is whether personhood is defined by real hard science or just ericmurphy's subjective notions?  Hitler and Sanger helped define human life and human life suffered greatly.

I've already explained to you why science will not give you these kinds of answers. You're making my point for me again by pointing out that when humans try to define personhood, terrible things happen. And yet here you are, trying to define personhood!

No, actually I'm asking you how you tell the difference between two conscious entities.  Other than mere physical difference, both are alive and consciousness  and according to you didn't begin at conception.  Yet, we don't hunt babies for their meat.  There is no scientific distinction between human infant and a dolphin though there is a distinction indeed.  What is it?

God, Thordaddy, you're batting a thousand making my points for me. We don't hunt babies for their meat, and we shouldn't hunt dolphins for their meat either, for exactly the same reason. Ordinarily I'd be surprised you didn't see that one coming from a mile away, but then again you've pretty much telegraphed your political viewpoints anyway.

But in the meantime you're stating that "there's no scientific distinction between [a] human infant and a dolphin," a statement that's so dumbfoundingly preposterous the only reason I even bring it up is to point out its preposterousness.

First, I see no definition of consciousness that requires a central nervous system and so you are making an unfounded assumption.  Secondly, a zygote interacts with its enviroment and that, at the least, exhibits some degree of consciousness.  

As I suspected, you're using the term "consciousness" in a completely non-standard way, and then not favoring us with an explanation of what sense you mean it in (shades of Dembski). If "consciousness" doesn't need a central nervous system, then what are its minimum requirements? Can a bacterium or a virus be conscious? (Given the relatively small difference in complexity between a bacterium and a fertilized egg, I'm thinking you believe a bacterium to be conscious.) Can a rock be conscious? Or does something need to have a "soul" to be conscious? If that's your definition of consciousness, then we're way, way out of the bounds of scientific discourse, and I wouldn't be the first one in this thread to point that out to you.

 Lastly, you really have NO idea if a zygote is conscious because you have NO idea when or where consciousness emerges.

I certainly don't know what your definition of consciousness is, and neither does anyone else here. But whatever it is, I can tell you that it's utterly irrelevant to the abortion debate, that's for sure.

So what is the distinction, ericmurphy?  When did you become "alive" and then become "conscious" if it was not at conception for the former and completely unknown for the latter?  You're alive and conscious, but you don't know when you became alive and conscious.  I just assume it happened at conception.  No other evidence is sufficient to persuade me otherwise.

Do you think the fact that I've already answered this question at least twice could possibly persuade you that I do in fact know when I became conscious?

And if you still cannot distinguish between something being alive and something being conscious, I'm afraid neither I nor anyone else will be able to enlighten you.

Put your money where your mouth is, Thordaddy. Do you believe that everything that's alive is also conscious? Because whether you realize it or not, that's what you're saying. And by your own logic, killing any living thing is just as much murder as having an abortion is. Think about that the next time you sneeze.

The line is simply drawn at birth and not conception.

No it's not. No one, not the most rabid supporter of abortion rights, will argue that aborting a nine-month-old fetus is not tantamount to murder, under anything but the most extraordinary circumstances. Most abortion rights advocates are uncomfortable with late-term abortions for any reason other than to save the life of the mother, and many are willing to draw the line much earlier than the third trimester for reasons other than saving the life of the mother. Like most anti-abortionists, you're completely distorting the terms of the debate to demonize abortion-rights advocates.

In your mind, being the black-and-white thinker you are, the only choices for line drawing are at conception or at birth. I'm assuming that, like our benighted president, you do not "do" nuance. Am I right?

Date: 2006/03/30 06:13:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[quote=thordaddy,Mar. 30 2006,02:33][/quote]
A few more times and then I'm done with this. It's like banging my head against the wall.

Will you stop misquoting me? No one is saying conception is "meaningless." What I've said over and over again is that the question of when life "begins" is meaningless in the context of the abortion debate. Start hearing what I'm saying, not what you think I'm saying.

But only you are trying to define it.

You're the one trying to define a zygote as a conscious person deserving the same protection as a two-year-old child. I'm telling you that you cannot define personhood that way.

I know this first and foremost because the zygote is alive and life is required for consciousness.

These are the kind of statement you make that make me realize how hopeless you are. You evidently think that because life is a requirement for consciousness, the fact that a zygote is alive must mean it's conscious. It really is pointless having a discussion with someone so logically challenged.

How can consciousness be more important than life itself?

Just out of curiosity, Thordaddy: are you a vegetarian? Or a vegan? Because if not, you clearly value consciousness more than life. Do I need to explain why, or can you figure it out yourself?

I don't see any scientific evidence for drawing the line at birth.

Clearly you're not even reading what I'm writing. Communication with you seems to be a one-way street. In which case, I don't think I'm going to bother with you anymore.

I don't see any evidence that a birthed baby is conscious.

Hey, check this out! Thordaddy thinks a zygote is conscious, but he doesn't think a new-born is! Wow. That's certainly a new take on the science of consciousness…

At conception?  At birth?  Or, should we just leave it up in the air and let the abortions proceed unabated?

Further evidence that Thordaddy is incapable of reading English.

Date: 2006/03/30 07:53:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Mar. 30 2006,12:31)
Some very good points.

But this one has me scratching my head.


How can consciousness be more important than life itself?


Just out of curiosity, Thordaddy: are you a vegetarian? Or a vegan? Because if not, you clearly value consciousness more than life. Do I need to explain why, or can you figure it out yourself?

Should that not read you don't value consciousness more than life?

No, I think I had it right.

The point I was making is that, if you believe that "life" is what's important here, as opposed to "consciousness," then you must believe that taking of any life is wrong, not just life which is imbued with consciousness (which would make you some sort of radical uber-buddhist). If that's the case, even being a vegan is going to be a bit hypocritical. As my brother used to say, "I don't eat anything that casts a shadow."

Date: 2006/03/30 08:25:38, Link
Author: ericmurphy
One more thing to chew on, Thordaddy:

A significant fraction of fertilized ova don't result in a child, or even pregancy, due to numerous factors—failure to implant, failure of the developmental process to proceed normally, spontaneous abortion, etc.

Now. You believe that a fertilized egg is a human being, with all the same rights, privileges, legal protections, etc. as any other human being, right? Well, if a fertilized eggs fails to implant properly, how should the authorities, legal and medical, deal with this eventuality (which again is extremely common)? Should a coroner issue a report, perhaps listing the cause of death as misadventure? Should there be an inquest? Maybe an investigation into possible malfeasance? Perhaps a funeral should be held? (Before you answer, keep in mind that in probably seven cases out of ten, no one, including the mother, even knows that there is a fertilized egg.)

What do we do with the couple that's trying desperately to get preganant, ends up with a dozen fertilized eggs after a hundred attempts, none of which results in a preganancy? If they have reason to believe that most of their attempts are not going to lead to an actual pregancy, are they guilty of negligent homicide?

Am I beginning maybe to make myself clear that life is not as black and white as you would have us believe?


Date: 2006/03/31 05:46:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I have to say, this must be a first. I don't think I've ever heard anyone claim consciousness for a fertilized human ovum, but deny it for a newborn. (Actually, this is the second time Thordaddy has made the same argument.) I guess it's really true when they say pro-lifers believe life begins at conception and ends at birth.

But what do we really expect from a guy who expounds logical gems like this: given three possibilities, we can most easily dispense with the third one, because that leaves only two.

Date: 2006/03/31 06:12:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Another example of how weak Thordaddy's reasoning is:

Since we were speaking in the context of abortion, both constrasting statements can be further defined as;

Human life begins at conception.


Human life does not begin at conception.

But we also need to go further and define "conception."  The general meaning of conception is a "beginning."  The opposing statements would then read;

Human life begins at the beginning.


Human life does not begin at the beginning.

No, Thordaddy, in this context, conception is not synonymous with "beginning." You're assuming what you're trying to prove. In this context, the term "conception" has a technical definition, i.e., the moment when egg and sperm (both of which, as has been pointed out to you ad nasueum, are already "alive") fuse. You're no further along proving your point (which is irrelevant in any case) than you were to begin with.

Date: 2006/03/31 07:49:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy
PuckSR made an interesting analogy that has the added benefit of showing exactly why Thordaddy's whole line of reasoning is irrelevant (not that he hasn't be told that before):

When does a house become a house?
obviously as soon as they lay a foundation, we are building a house, and that foundation will become a house...but is it a house yet?  Obviously it becomes a house well before the  painters take care of the interior.  
Its also important to note that a house has major developments in its construction.
The foundation is important.  The framing is important.  putting the roof on is important.  closing the walls is important.  Its all important, but their isnt a single point of  "creation' for a house...its a process

As it happens, I have some familiarity with construction law. There are certain milestones in the construction of, say, a single-family dwelling (otherwise known as a "house"). One of these milestones is, as PuckSR pointed out, the pouring of the foundation. Interestingly, the pouring of the foundation is relatively insignificant legally. It's about as signficant legally as fertilization is (at least, for the moment; and if fertilization ever really does become important legally, it will be really fun watching how the medical profession becomes tasked with determining the exact moment of fertilization).

Another important milestone is the condition of weathertightness. At this point in the construction process, the exterior structure of the building is completed to the point where the interior is protected from the elements, and interior finishing can begin. In many instances, a condition of weathertightness still looks very unfinished to the untrained eye.

Another milestone is the point of substantial completion. At this point, the house is essentially finished, with just few minor punch-list items (missing outlet covers, a few nicks in the paint, missing light fixtures). Often, but not always, substantial completion is the point when the owner has beneficial occupancy of the house.

The point is, the owner's and contractor's legal rights and responsibilities differ at different points in this process. Kinda like what happens between conception and birth. Any reasonable person (a category that evidently does not include Thordaddy) understands that the legal rights of a fertilized egg are different from the legal rights of a third-trimester fetus. I think it's the ultimate in straw-man arguments to try to limit the possibilities for drawing the line dividing full human rights from lesser rights at either conception or birth. There's nine months' worth of development in between those points, where enormous changes occur.

It's the same kind of illogic that led to the Iraq war. The straw-man there was, either we invade and occupy Iraq, or we do nothing at all.

Date: 2006/03/31 08:31:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ Mar. 31 2006,14:10)
Any reasonable person (a category that evidently does not include Thordaddy) understands that the legal rights of a fertilized egg are different from the legal rights of a third-trimester fetus.

I hope any reasonable person can see that this is not necessarily the case. Laws are essentially arbitrary. We can attempt to make them reasonable, but they have no requirement to be reasonable beyond the fact that if they cannot be enforced, they are nugatory.

In the US, as I understand it, the legal rights of the fetus do not change from conception to birth. They change only at birth itself. But at least, we've recognized that we are talking about legal constructs here.

Actually, the rights of a fetus do change at various points between conception and birth in many states. Late-term abortion laws, also known as "partial-birth" abortion laws, confer different rights on fetuses at different stages of pregnancy. A fertilized egg, as far as I know, has no rights in any state. Given that a fertilized (but not yet implanted) egg is difficult even to detect, this is probably unavoidable.

My point, Flint, is not that the law itself is reasonable (which after all is a matter of opinion), but that any reasonable (or at least knowledgeable) person understands that the rights of a fertilized egg are different from the rights of a third-trimester fetus. This is a matter of fact, not opinion.

An least some of us are aware that we're talking legal, and not scientific, concepts here.

Date: 2006/03/31 12:00:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 31 2006,17:26)
What we don't know is WHY?

WHY, ericmurphy?

The law certainly doesn't seem to be based on any science, does it?  If so, what's the science behind the difference in "rights?"

Gee, Thordaddy, how many times are we going to need to say this to you: SCIENCE DOES NOT AND CANNOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

That's about the 20th time someone's said this. Is it getting through to you yet?

Date: 2006/03/31 12:48:38, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 31 2006,18:11)
Then how in the world can you claim that "human life does not begin at conception?"  What is your OPINION based on?  And if science can't answer this question then biology seems rather meaningless, doesn't it?

One more time, Thordaddy, and then I'm done with this, with my opinion about the stupidity of this argument if anything reinforced.

Question: Is a fertilized egg alive?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Is an unfertilized egg alive?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Is a sperm cell alive?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Does life begin at conception?

Answer: No.

Question: Is the question as to when life begins meaningful?

Answer: No.

Question: Is the answer as to when life begins meaningful?

Answer: No.

We've gone around on this question about a million times so far, and every time you've asked it, I've given you the exact same answer. Can you think of any conceivable reason why you should ever, ever ask me this question again, Thordaddy? Because I sure can't.

And if science can't answer this question then biology seems rather meaningless, doesn't it?

Only if you think kinematics is meaningless because it can't give you the magnitude and direction of love, or mechanics is meaningless because it can't give you a value for the moral power of virginity.

Date: 2006/03/31 12:56:38, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ Mar. 31 2006,18:52)

Then take yourself out of the debate.  You apparently have nothing meaningful to add to this meaningless debate.

That'd make two of us, TD.

Date: 2006/04/03 07:04:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 03 2006,03:36)
If there is NO scientific basis for human life then there is NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS PERIOD.

Classic Thordaddy. Aside from being more or less unintelligible, this is like saying that since there's no scientific basis for why some people like Dvorak more than Beethoven, there's no scientific basis for anything. This is the same kind of reasoning by which Thordaddy determines that life begins at conception. Since there's no scientific basis for saying it doesn't start at conception (other than the two dozen reasons various posters to this thread have offered), Thordaddy believes he's entitled to therefore think that life does begin at conception.

Way to go, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/04/03 17:39:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
One more time, Thordaddy (not that I think repeating this several thousand more times would penetrate your skull):

You are not discussing science here. You're discussing ethics. Science cannot answer ethical questions, any more than it can answer aesthetic questions.

God, you're a waste of bandwidth.

Date: 2006/04/04 05:55:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 03 2006,22:56)

Is a biologist a person/human being?

Is biology a scientific pursuit?

Is evolution a scientific "fact?"

So we have biologists (human beings) proposing a "fact" of life (evolution) while proclaiming ignorance on the very definition of human life?  

My question is this,

If the biologist can not readily define himself (or human life) then how has he readily defined "life" and its evolution for the rest of us?  If the biologist is not sure what in him constitutes human life then how is he sure of ANY other life or the process of its evolution?

This is typical creationist cant, Thordaddy. If science can't explain everything, it can't explain anything.

Why do you think one follows from the other? The Standard Model can't explain gravity. General relativity can't explain quantum phenomena. Does that mean that both theories are worthless?

Date: 2006/04/04 16:13:37, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 04 2006,19:54)

If the very entity (human life) that explains the world around us is undefiniable then AT BEST we can say his/her explanations are also undefinable.  Clearly, you don't believe this, do you? Since we don't know the Designer, hence, we don't know his design, as the argument against ID goes.  So if human life is the designer that gives us all these explanations, but we remain ignorant of this designer, then all his explanations remain undefinable.

The longer you yack, Thordaddy, the less sense you make. I'm not sure this particular post makes any sense whatsoever. But I'll give it a try anyway.

It sounds like you're saying that because human life is "undefinable" (but in what sense? It's not like no one has any idea what a human being is), then any human explanation for—what? anything whatsoever?—is also "undefinable." I challenge you to explain what that means. But if it means what it appears to mean, you seem to be saying that no one has any idea what a human being is, a position that is comically false. You also seem to be implying science has no explanatory power at all, which is equally preposterous. And if that's what you mean, then one is left wondering why the h*ll you're looking for a scientific explanation for when human life begins in the first place.

But it's pretty clear that you're really trying to do. You're trying to find some science (good luck, because it ain't out there) that will support a conclusion you've already reached: that abortion under any circumstances should be forbidden. In common with creationists in general, you're putting the cart before the horse: you want the "facts" to fit your conclusions, rather than the other way around.

And in the meantime, you're making statements that are pretty close to completely meaningless. Science's explanations are "undefinable"? Would you care to take a stab at telling us what that's supposed to mean?

Date: 2006/04/05 05:51:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 04 2006,21:44)
The same argument exists in this situation.  If we know nothing of the designer (what constitutes human life) then how can we possibly draw ANY inferences from his explanations since his explanations are the basis for all our knowledge?

I say it's bunk.  We can define human life and science can certainly weigh in heavily.

Are you going for the prize in the "most outrageous strawman argument" category, Thordaddy? Who here, other than you, is arguing that we know nothing of what constitutes human life? You think if you can disprove that notion, you can prove…what, exactly, I'm not sure, since your argument from there rapidly decays into unintelligibility.

But more to the point, you have once again claimed that science presents no evidence for defining the start of human life.  Yet, you will claim to be human life.  How did you come to this conclusion when you know nothing of your conception?  You just assume your humaneness based on what, exactly?

I've said no such thing. I've told you about a million times that life is a continuum, and to pick any particular point and state that that's the "beginning" is essentially arbitrary. You don't like that conclusion, so you ignore it. As Flint pointed out above, you've been told the exact same thing about 50 times by half the people posting to this thread, but you persist in ignoring it.


What needs to be cleared up is this;

If YOUR human life did not start at YOUR conception then when did it start?

Are you going to keep asking the same question over and over again in the hopes that at some point I'm going to give you a different answer? Because I'm not.

If science cannot tell you then how can it tell you anything else?

And again, the same stupidity. If science can't answer one particular question, it can't answer any questions? How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you say things like that?

And if you want to talk about pathetic "defenses" for abortion, how about pathetic arguments against it? You're the one who seems to believe that a zygote has consciousness and a newborn infant lacks it. If that's not pathetic, I don't know what is. But it's further evidence that the anti-abortion crowd believes that life begins at conception and ends at birth.

Date: 2006/04/05 06:55:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Here you go, Bill:

"For that matter, it is possible to model a wholly geocentric view of the universe -- but it is so complicated to include the retrograde movements of planets and so devoid of coherence and mathematical elegance that no one with any sense would insist on using that model. We'd much rather use Kepler's laws than have to deal with the innumerable and pointless complexities that would result from a geocentric model."

—from Talk Reason

Are you you there, Bill? Rev. Paley? Anyone home?

Date: 2006/04/05 07:19:27, Link
Author: ericmurphy
More from Science and Non-Science: An Epistemological Conflict:

"Frenkel-Brunswik (1948) argued that intolerance of ambiguity constituted a general personality variable that related positively to prejudice as well as to more general social and cognitive variables. As she put it, individuals who are intolerant of ambiguity "are significantly more often given to dichotomous conceptions of the sex roles, of the parent-child relationship, and of interpersonal relationships in general. They are less permissive and lean toward rigid categorization of social norms. "Power-weakness, cleanliness-dirtiness, morality-immorality, conformance-divergence are the dimensions through which people are seen. . . . There is sensitivity against qualified as contrasted with unqualified statements and against perceptual ambiguity; a disinclination to think in terms of probability; a comparative inability to abandon mental sets in intellectual tasks, such as solving mathematical problems, after they have lost their appropriateness. Relations to home discipline and to the ensuing attitude toward authority will likewise be demonstrated quantitatively. (Frenkel-Brunswick, 1948, p. 268)"

Is Frenkel-Brunswik talking about our own Thordaddy?

Date: 2006/04/05 08:12:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
…and, until two days ago, Tom Delay thought he was the future, too.

Bill, it's really getting to be time to put your money where your mouth is. The weeks have long since stretched into months, and the months will soon enough become years.

Date: 2006/04/05 10:56:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy, your disingenuousness seems to know no upper bound.

Quote (thordaddy @ April 05 2006,15:39)

If you define yourself by consciousness then clearly you were not a human being at birth because there is NO DIRECT EVIDENCE of a conscious newborn.  One that declares, "I am conscious."

Aren't you the same Thordaddy who imputes consciousness to a zygote?

Your claim that the "egg/sperm argument" is bunk, is in fact bunk. You can't present any evidence that an unfertilized egg a) isn't alive, and/or b) isn't human. Your choice of conception as the beginning of human life is just as arbitrary now, six pages later, as it was at the beginning of this thread. You've never gotten past that fundamental error, and it was clear 20 posts ago that you never will.

I say it's ideology trumping truth.

You said it, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/04/05 13:04:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 05 2006,17:48)
What's a few years to an evo?  ;)

Well, I'd like to see at least an outline before I grow old and die.

After all, even the universe probably isn't eternal...

Date: 2006/04/05 15:35:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[quote=thordaddy,April 05 2006,18:33][/quote]
Actually, I said there is no evidence to suggest that consciousness emerges anywhere other than at conception.  If you have evidence to the contrary, please present it.

This statement implies that you have evidence that consciousness emerges at conception. Of course, you have no such evidence. If there's one place between conception and the age of six that consciousness definitely does not emerge, it's at conception.

Secondly, I have no problem stating that an egg and sperm are "alive."  I do disagree that they represent a human life.  I have seen no evidence of either an individual sperm or individual egg individually transitioning to a zygote and then an embryo to a baby.  Have you seen such transformation?

And for the millionth time, I will reiterate that you're making a distinction without a difference. There's nothing particularly special about conception even from a scientific perspective; there are other developments in the process from meiosis to birth that are vastly more significant. There is absolutely no significance to conception from a legal perspective, which in the context of the abortion debate is the only relevant perspective.

So if the sperm and egg represent your beginning then you must continue back into the past because each sperm and egg were actual products of other sperm and eggs.  You are claiming to be an mere individuated outgrowth of one very large and very old single entity.  Is that what the science tells you?

Yep, pretty much. I am indeed part of one very large and very old entity, just as you are. The technical term for such an entity is a "universe."

From a scientific standpoint, my view is at least as valid as yours, and from a legal standpoint, neither view is of the slightest import.

Either you had a beginning or you didn't.  

If you didn't have a beginning then you are either an eternal being or YOU sprang from nonlife.  

If you had a beginning it was either before conception, at conception or after conception.

What did the quote I posted above have to say about this sort of worldview? But for about the two millionth time, I will say once again that the answer to any of these questions is entirely meaningless within the context of the abortion debate, something that no matter how many times you're told, fails to sink in.

At conception means I have presupposed for lack of any credible evidence to say otherwise.

The truth is, Thordaddy, that you're going to believe whatever you want to believe, no matter what the evidence says.

Date: 2006/04/05 15:56:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Spike @ April 05 2006,19:14)
Isn't it great how you can find any kind of quote to support any kind of point of view you want to hold?

You're missing the point of the quote, Spike. She's saying that there's a particular grouping of personality traits, that generally goes along with an authoritarian nature, which has difficulty with ambiguity and anything other than a dualistic view of reality. It's got nothing to do with keeping hypotheses simple.

Not all of life comes down to yes/no answers. How do you answer the question, "Are you still beating your wife?" Can you give a yes/no answer to that question?

Date: 2006/04/05 18:26:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Spike @ April 05 2006,22:29)

"Not all of life comes down to yes/no answers." Is that statement true or untrue? If true, is it always true? Yes or no?

Yes, it's true. It's always true. Not all questions have yes/no answers. Here's another one: what's your favorite color? Does that question have a yes/no answer? The converse, "All questions have yes/no answers," is clearly false. This is elementary logic.

"Have you stopped beating your wife?" has no answer because it is meaningless. Just because you can assemble words into a sentence doesn't make the sentence meaningful.

It has an answer, and it has meaning, if you do in fact beat your wife. The sentence definitely has meaning in some circumstances. Asking what's north of most points on the globe has meaning, except at one point: the north pole.

Science is founded on yes/no questions.

Nope. The vast majority of scientific questions do not have yes/no answers. What's the speed of light? The temperature of the CMB? The mass of the electron. I could go on forever.

All moral tests are a choice between good and bad. Yes or no.

Wrong again. An action can be wrong in some circumstances, and right in others. Normally it's wrong to kill your dog. Is it wrong to put your dog to sleep if he's got incurable cancer? You don't have to be a moral relativist to understand that there are plenty of things (one might even say most things) that are not right under all circumstances, or wrong under all circumstances.

Further, some moral questions are a matter of less bad, or more good. Plenty of moral issues are points on a curve. Most people (most rational people, that is) would deny that disposing of a freshly-fertilized ovum is "murder," but hardly anyone would deny that terminating a pregnancy three minutes before birth is murder.

Again, life is not a matter of moral absolutes. It's intellectual laziness to think otherwise.

Date: 2006/04/05 20:18:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 05 2006,23:39)
All of life's question do "come down" to a yes/no question.  If it is life then it may proceed to ask questions.  If it is not life then it stays eternally silent. Is it life, yes or no?

Thordaddy, what's your birthday?

It's a yes or no question, dude.

Give me a break.

No wonder this whole thread feels so utterly pointless. I do have to say, though, that I often find the inanity kind of fascinating, in a pathological kind of way.

Date: 2006/04/05 20:29:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
If one more anti-choicer says "life begins at conception" my stupidity meter is going to blow up. Is an unfertilized cell not "alive," Thordaddy? Is a sperm cell not "alive"? Is an epithelial cell lining your lower intestine not "alive"?

This whole "life begins at conception" argument has got to be the dumbest argument the religious right has ever come up with. Using the same logic, I could argue that scraping your tongue with your toothbrush in the morning is murder, because of all the living cells you're killing.

Give me a @#$%!ing break.

I said this about 170 posts ago, and strangely enough, it's just as true now as when I said it the first time.

Date: 2006/04/05 21:18:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
normdoering opines,

Her cerebral cortex was liquified -- that's not a functioning brain. That's why it was deemed okay to pull her plug.

You said "functioning brain" and now you are saying functioning cerebral cortex.  Clearly, the brain was functioning is some respect.

Her brain was functioning enough to run her heart and lungs, and little else. She couldn't even digest solid food. Every competent doctor who examined her stated that her brain was incapable of supporting conscious thought.

In other words, she didn't have a functioning brain.

If the car radio works, but the engine won't start, there are no headlights, windshield, steering wheel, the wheels are off, and the gas tank's missing, do we have a functioning car?



Does YOUR birthdate reflect your true age?  I say it doesn't.

I asked you a simple question, Thordaddy: what is your birthday? Your answer doesn't sound like a yes or a no.

Do you still maintain that all questions have yes or no answers?

Date: 2006/04/06 06:08:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 06 2006,00<!--emo&:0)

You must first answer whether defining human life is within the realm of science.  Yes or no?

As usual, Thordaddy, you're asking the wrong question. Can science define human life? Sure, as we've pointed out a million times already.

The question you should be asking is, "Can science define human life for me in a way I will find acceptable?"

The answer to that question is definitely no.

Date: 2006/04/06 09:13:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (C.J.O'Brien @ April 06 2006,14:11)
The real question here is one of the validity of absolutism.

If there's one thing Thordaddy has made absolutely clear through all his posts, it's this: he simply cannot abide ambiguity.

Unfortunately for him, most of the universe is pretty ambiguous.

Date: 2006/04/06 15:33:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Spike @ April 06 2006,18:56)

Just 'cause it's so fun to draw you along, I'll keep going, even though you feel compelled to throw in ad homimens. Why do you do that? To make yourself feel better about your inability to develop a coherent argument?

Spike, I've never used an ad hominem argument here. I've used plenty of ad arguendum arguments, which is an entirely different thing. Oh, and I've several times accused Thordaddy of not listening. If you consider that an ad hominem argument, well…that can't be helped.

Have you never conducted a scientific experiment? Have you never formulated a scientific hypothesis?

The first question underlying the investigation into the speed of light is: “Does light have speed? Yes or no?”

If we say, “Yes, speed is a quality of light,” then the next question is, "Can we detect it? Yes or no?"

Then, after we've answered the fundamental yes/no questions, can we ask the How?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and Who? questions.

It applies to the question of my favorite color as well. First you have to ask the yes/no question: “Do you have a favorite color?” You may not do so explicitly, but it is implicit in asking what that favorite color is.

But again, you're misconstruing what I'm saying. Do some questions have yes/no answers? Of course. But you're claiming that all questions have yes/no answers, a proposition that is clearly false.

Why did you quote mine me?

I'm not quote mining you, because I don't have to. You continue to insist that all questions have yes/no answers. Adding that having more information might change your answer doesn't change the fundamental falsity of your position. And again, in case you missed it: the fact that some questions have yes/no answers does not change something I should have thought was self-evident: that not all questions have yes/no answers.

Do we need to go through this again, or are we clear now?

Date: 2006/04/06 17:30:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 06 2006,22<!--emo&:0)

I think the question has to "come down to" whether I had a birth... yes or no?

Thordaddy, you're making the same mistake in logic Spike is making. You seem to think that because you can show me that some question, somewhere, has a yes/no answer, therefore all questions have yes/no answers.

Your question--did you have a birthday?--has a yes/no answer. My question--what's your birthday?--does not. You can't just change the question completely and think you've somehow proved your point.

You and Spike can come up with a zillion questions that can be answered with a yes or a no, and you still won't have proved your point. I only need to come up with one question without a yes/no answer to have proved mine.

And, of course, I've already done so. Multiple times.

I have to admit that I'm dumbfounded I need to explain this kind of thing. I guess when I expressed hope I wouldn't have to pound this particular point into the ground, I was being optimistic. Given the general weakness of the arguments favoring a complete ban on abortion, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Date: 2006/04/06 19:25:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 06 2006,23<!--emo&:0)

You seem to have missed that all questions about life "come down to" a yes/no answer.

Literally, is it life... yes/no?  That's what all questions about life "come down to."

You have to throw up your hands when we talk about human life.  You don't know.  So why should we look to you for answers?

I missed no such thing, Thordaddy. Try to concentrate.

Can we stay on topic for a few seconds? My point, which I feel like I'm beating to death with a spade here, is that you, personally, have a hard time understanding that not everything in life comes down to a black-white, wrong-write, up-down, strange/charmed, yes-no dichotomy. I specifically stated that not all questions are answerable by either yes or no. You're proving my point for me by insisting, against reason, logic, and common sense, that all questions can be answered yes or no. I've given you a handful of questions that clearly cannot be answered with either a yes or a no, and believe me, I could go on for fifty posts with them. For the sake of the sanity of the other readers here, I'll refrain from doing so.

But the funny thing is, you're not even right about the question of whether something is alive or not. Is a virus alive, or not? Do you know? Because no one else does. A pretty good example of a question not answerable with a yes or no, right? How about an encapsulated bacterial spore. Is it alive? No one's exactly sure. What about a prion? Now there's a poser. Care to answer that one with either a yes or a no? How about this one? Is a photon a particle, or a wave? Oh, wait, that one can be answered with a yes and a no!

And you're also wrong about me and human life. I'm pretty sure that human life is, in fact, alive. I don't think I've ever expressed any doubts about that.

Just when I didn't think you could get any more wrong, you go ahead and prove me wrong.

Date: 2006/04/07 07:06:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
And now, having been told that science cannot necessarily decide a legal issue, Thordaddy has got it in his head that science has no definition for human life. Where he got that idea is anyone's guess.

It strikes me as faintly outrageous that anyone would have doubts as to the definition of a human being, but what do I know? I'm from San Francisco.

Date: 2006/04/07 10:46:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Nice try, Thordaddy.


ericmurphy says, "Of course we can define human life but we can't say when I began."

You have, as usual, completely misconstrued what I said. What I did say is that the question is meaningless in the context of the abortion debate. Saying that a human life begins at conception is just as arbitrary as saying it begins at birth, or at age 18, or age 21, or whenever you want to say it begins. Some people say life begins at 40, for crying out loud.

Here's another Thordaddy gem:

Flint claims that abortion HAS NOTHING TO DO with science.  It's a purely legal issue.  Does this means that science plays no role in legal issues?

Can you get any more vacuous? Thordaddy, I'm going to say this very slowly, and I want you to repeat it back to me when I'm done: "The Fact That Science Has No Bearing On Some Legal Issues Does Not Mean It Has No Bearing On Any Legal Issues."

Are we clear on this yet? Will we ever be clear on this?

I know I'm wasting my time trying to point things like this out to you, but I have to admit, I think it's kind of fun anyway.

Date: 2006/04/07 11:02:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy, do honestly believe anyone would actually choose to be gay? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be gay in America? If being homosexual were some sort of "choice," no one in his or her right mind would "choose" to be homosexual.

I actually live in a region of the country where a significant fraction of the population is gay. And if you think that gay people suffer by comparison to straight people in any significant moral or ethical way, you're not just wrong, you're ignorant. I generally find gay people more intelligent, more engaging, more compassionate, more considerate, and generally more admirable than straight people. And I'm straight myself, if you think that I might in some way be prejudiced against straight people.

Are there gay people who are jerks? Of course. On the other hand, gay jerks are massively outnumbered by straight jerks.

And if you think defining the "beginning of life" is hard, try defining "normal."

As usual, you're trying to find some way to get science to support your bigotries and prejudices. It ain't gonna work.

Date: 2006/04/07 11:56:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Spike @ April 07 2006,16:32)

Well, you've changed what you are saying in our conversation.

The initial discussion is if life comes down to yes/no questions.

Fundamental questions. Underlying questions. Not ALL questions.

That's the only thing I was talking about.

No wonder you can't make coherent arguments. You keep changing what you're talking about.

You are not worth the effort of continuing a conversation with.

Excuse me?

When have I ever said anything about "fundamental" questions here? If anyone's changing the terms of the debate, Spike, you are.

My original point, which you can read at the top of the previous page if you've forgotten it, is that there's a certain kind of person, who seems to be very similar to our own Thordaddy, who simply cannot abide ambiguity, and sees everything in yes/no, black/white, on/off binary terms.

You jumped in with some statement, which I never really understood, about finding quotes to support a particular point of view (is this supposed to be surprising? That's why we quote stuff). After pointing out that you had misconstrued my point, I said, and this is a direct quote:

Not all of life comes down to yes/no answers.

I can't imagine a less controversial assertion to make. Nevertheless, you and Thordaddy both begged to differ. I then spent a few hundred words explaining as patiently as I could that your claim that some questions can be answered with a yes or a no does absolutely nothing to sustain your more general (and more astonishing) claim that all questions have yes-or-no answers.

How we got from there to only "fundamental" questions having yes-no answers is anyone's guess.

If you wanted to talk about something else, or change the subject of the debate, that's fine. But don't pretend to be replying to something I said, completely change my meaning, and then accuse me of switching horses mid-stream once you find out your horse can't swim.

And you're wrong anyway. Asking whether a virus is alive or not is pretty fundamental, but you can't answer it with a yes or a no, because your answer is going to differ based on your definition of "life" (a term that so far is not very rigorously defined). But what would be a more "fundamental" question? Does a virus "exist"? I guess that's a yes/no kind of question, but it's beyond fundamental, it's just kind of pointless to ask in the first place. Most of your examples of "fundamental" questions (does light have a speed?) are pretty pointless, and generally go without saying.

But at this point I can only assume you're conceding the point. Any other pointless arguments you'd like to have?

Date: 2006/04/07 14:44:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Spike @ April 07 2006,17:58)
I admit, I do sometimes suffer from that affliction known as "needing to have the last word." But, after this post, em can have the last words:

"Not all of life comes down to yes/no answers."

=/ "All questions have yes/no answers."

You won't even read your own posts.

I also like the way you've brushed off the entire human endeavor known as Ontology with this statement:

But what would be a more "fundamental" question? Does a virus "exist"? I guess that's a yes/no kind of question, but it's beyond fundamental, it's just kind of pointless to ask in the first place. Most of your examples of "fundamental" questions (does light have a speed?) are pretty pointless, and generally go without saying.

Well, that certainly was nonsensical.

But if I can figure out what you're driving at, you're claiming a disjunct between saying "not all of life comes down to yes/no answers" and saying "not all questions have yes/no answers." (Your notation actually says "Not all of life comes down to yes/no answers" is not equal to "All questions have yes/no answers," and if that's what you meant, you won't get an argument from me.)

If that's what you're trying to say, then you're doing what the French call "couper les cheveux en quatre," which takes the splitting hair thing a bit further than we Anglos do. If I didn't make myself clear that when I said "Not all of life comes down to yes/no answers," I meant "Not all of experience comes down to yes/no answers," all I can say is that I assumed (possibly incorrectly) that English is your first language. Maybe it's not?

But if your point is, "all questions about life have yes or no answers," or even "all questions about whether something is alive" have yes or no answers, you're still wrong. See above.

In the meantime, as far as your ontology point goes: since you brought up the subject of fundamental questions as distinct from the other kind of questions, I don't see where it gets you anywhere. If you think it's more important to ask whether viruses exist than it is to ask whether they're alive, well, I guess you're entitled to your opinion. But I think the rest of the scientific community is kind of past your question.

Date: 2006/04/07 14:47:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 07 2006,18:22)

When did your life begin if not at conception"

How's that for a non-yes/no question?

Very good, Thordaddy! I see you've finally come to your senses and realized that life isn't entirely black or white.

Here's another non-yes/no question that's just as meaningful as your question: What's north of the north pole?

Date: 2006/04/07 16:02:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (avocationist @ April 07 2006,20:54)

And why do you say conception is hard to pinpoint? Sure the very moment goes unnoticed, but it can be suspected within days.

I'm not saying conception is hard to pinpoint (in principle—in practice, pinpointing the exact instant of conception is pretty much impossible outside of the lab). That's not my point. My point is that to claim, as Thordaddy has about a million times, that "life begins at conception" is as arbitrary as saying it begins at birth, or age 18, or age 40.

I said Thor has emotional reasons that are unconsciously managed. That is why some of his replies are so disconcerting. Apparently, when he said "me" he meant that he was an example of human life. It is odd not to make that distinction.

Thordaddy's responses often do seem to indicate some sort of cognitive dissonance, or possibly some developmental difficulties. But I'm not interested in addressing Thordaddy's state of mind; I'm interested in addressing his arguments. Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel, if the barrel was filled entirely with fish and no water.

Date: 2006/04/07 16:33:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 07 2006,21<!--emo&:0)

Except you need one to get to the other.  In fact, you need to one to get to ALL other milestones.  I think that alone gives it sufficient primacy.

Except you need an unfertilized egg to get to a fertilized egg. And to get an unfertilized egg, you need to go back to your mom's ovaries before she was even born. And of course, to get to your mom's ovaries, you'd need to go back further, to the fertilized egg that eventually produced your mom's ovaries. Etc. Etc. Etc. It's your classic chicken/egg problem, Thordaddy. Except maybe this time it's a human/egg problem.

If you want to believe that you are a mere individuated outgrowth of one very large and very old entity and your death represents nothing more than this entity clipping his toenails, believe it.

How is this belief any more arbitrary than your own belief that you are somehow distinct from all the other life on the planet, Thordaddy? Let's face it: your own inevitable death is a lot more important to you than it is to the rest of the universe. By universe standards, your death is way, way less important than even a routine toenail-clipping.

Yep. The truth hurts.

Date: 2006/04/07 19:34:23, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 07 2006,22:21)
So your life began billions of years ago...?  Tell me how random mutations and natural selection decided to choose you?

Why do you keep asking me the same questions, Thordaddy, when I've already answered them a dozen or so times? Could it be because…you don't listen?

But on a side note: evolution didn't "decide to choose" me. A statement like that indicates a complete, utter, dumbfounding cluelessness about what "natural selection" means that would be difficult to top.

Yet, this is the whole point.  You're existentially agnostic and I am not nor am I for anyone I know.  I actually care.  Call me selfish if you like.

"Agnostic" means I don't claim to know. (Not sure what this has to do with the relative importance of your or my death, but never mind.) If you don't consider yourself to be agnostic, that means you think you do know.

Believe me. You don't.

Date: 2006/04/07 19:43:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (avocationist @ April 08 2006,00<!--emo&:0)
Conception is a unique and funamental milestone without which you could not have your specific set of genetics, and it is the event which starts a body to forming out of the potential contained in the sperm and the egg. Your 18th birthday is a day that follows other days and it could pass unnoticed. I'm not sure why you would think there's no difference between conception and turning 40.

If your point is to say that some events are more important than others, you won't get an argument from me. But they're all points on a continuum. There isn't one point that's head-and-shoulders more important than any other one, although many people would probably argue that the two most important ones are birth, and death. But I guess Thordaddy would say "conception, and death." His position is at least as arbitrary as anyone else's.

I don't understand where the consciousness thing fits in with your arguments. but I think it is because most people agree infanticide is wrong, and you hope to persuade people that a newborn isn't conscious, yet it's wrong to kill it.

Which, of course, is about the silliest thing Thordaddy has said so far. Aside from his claim that a zygote is conscious, and an infant isn't.

I don't think you'll ever live that one down, Thordaddy. But I'm not sure you even understand how comical such a position is. I can see you sitting there, saying, "What?!"

Date: 2006/04/07 21:15:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 07 2006,22:31)

But this question assumes you answered "yes" to the question, "are you alive?"

At the expense of prolonging the agony, Mr. Thordaddy, I'm going to point out that the question, "Are you alive?" does not have a yes-or-no answer.

It can only be answered one way: "Yes."

Think about it.

Date: 2006/04/07 21:20:37, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 07 2006,22:31)

My stance is very simple,  There is no evidence that would have me conclude that MY LIFE started anywhere other than AT MY CONCEPTION.  Is this really that controversial?  If so, why?

Right, Thordaddy. No evidence at all.


Don't you ever get tired of repeating the same stupidity over and over again?

Date: 2006/04/08 15:58:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 08 2006,17:30)
I can't make it any clearer and until we get a definitive response to this specific question we can't proceed.

We already assume your are alive and human.

Gentlemen, your answers, please?

Proceed with what, Thordaddy?

Do you honestly think it's worth my time to actually have a discussion with you when you ignore everything I say that you don't like?

If you want to know why I think it's stupid to think your life begins with conception, I suggest you re-read the threads you've asked the question in, because I sure am not going to re-type it all over again so you can ignore it for the tenth or fifteenth time.

Date: 2006/04/08 16:41:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (avocationist @ April 08 2006,19:31)
Eric I think you contrdict yourself. You agree that some milestones are more important than others, but not very much so. Yet in that case it is hard not to back off from the idea that one's 18th birthday is as important as the one moment in which the genes that are required to form the unique individual that you are came together so that the process of forming your body could start. I also disagree with giving birth an equal status. Or perhaps it is just a very different status.

I'm not sure how arguing that some milestones are more important than others contradicts a statement that some milestones are more important than others…but regardless. I think I've established, at this point, that there are many essentially arbitrary points where one can say a human life begins, conception being one of them (and probably the hardest one to pintpoint).  

But I think even arguing that conception is the most important one isn't so easy. At the moment of conception, I was indistinguishable from billions of other zygotes using anything other than DNA analysis. At birth, I probably looked and behaved like millions of other babies. In my own life, I can point to innumerable occurrences that are vastly more significant to who I am now than anything that happened at the moment of conception.

You could argue that none of that could have happened without my conception. Sure, but I could argue that my conception couldn't have happened unless a) my parents met in the first place (which in my case was a pretty unlikely occurrence); b) they decided they liked each other (which didn't look likely at first); c) they decided to get married, and d) they decided to have children. All of those things had to happen (and what were the odds?) before conception could even happen. So what makes the conception so significant? I frankly don't see it. In my own life, virtually everything has been more important.

As usual, Thordaddy is asking for a digital solution to an analog problem. He seems to believe that there is one instant in time, from the beginning of life on earth until an individual's death, that is so much more important than all the others that he can draw a line in the sand (or, more literally, in a woman's womb) on one side of which everything changes. Everything changes all the time. There's probably more difference in who I am between now and ten years ago than there was between conception and birth. As a person, as opposed to some meaningless abstraction, there's simply no comparison.

The question Thor is asking is, what is the most important event in the causal chain that allowed your unique self to be manufactured? It is difficult not to answer, conception. At your birth, you were already formed

What Thordaddy is asking is way less important than why he's asking it. The answer to Thordaddy's question is essentially irrelevant, except that if he can make it as long before birth as possible, he can make the case that any abortion, for whatever reason (even to save the life of the mother) is wrong (you should have heard him expressing admiration for the woman who gives her own life to save the life of her unborn child, heedless of the very real possibility that the death of the mother will cause the death of the fetus).

Why do you think Thordaddy has been beating this issue to death over four threads? Do you think he's really that interested in hearing our opinions about when human life begins? He wants to get science to prove for him that any abortion, for any reason, is tantamount to murder, and should therefore be forbidden. Given that Thordaddy will never be pregnant, will never have to carry a fetus to term, will never be forced to have a child he neither wants nor can care for, I think his opinion on the issue is pretty irrelevant (his apparent belief that women who have abortions don't think it's any more significant than, say, taking a couple of aspirin, gives you some idea of what his opinion on the subject is worth).

If Thordaddy doesn't like abortions, he can not get one. How difficult do you think that will be for him?

Date: 2006/04/08 20:50:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Nike @ April 09 2006,00:39)
Since there is no universally accepted definition, it comes down to semantics.

This is about the twentieth or thirtieth time you've been advised that the question is not one science can answer, Thordaddy.

Are you ready to accept that yet, or do you need to be told another hundred or so times?

Date: 2006/04/10 12:04:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy: the Leonard Shelby of AtBC.

Thordaddy thinks that anything he's arguing is still in issue. It's been explained to him again and again that this stupid project of trying to draw a line at the "beginning" of life is a pointless waste of time. It's of absolutely no interest to anyone other than an anti-abortionist. He's been shown again and again why pointing to conception as the "beginning" of life is just as arbitrary as any other point in development.

But does he listen?

Arguing with Thordaddy is like arguing with a re-run of "Three's Company."

Date: 2006/04/10 13:06:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[quote=thordaddy,April 10 2006,17:49][/quote]
I grew up in an America where science is lauded and religion is ridiculed.  

This explains a lot. Obviously, Thordaddy is from another dimension.

Date: 2006/04/10 14:38:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 10 2006,18<!--emo&:0)

The more you pontificate the more you expose your motivations.


1. How can anything you just said not equally apply to you?

2. Isn't your motivation for declaring the "meaninglessness" of this conversation the whole strategy of the abortion lobby?

3. Are you the example of the guy that get through the door just to shut closed on the one behind you?

The difference between your motivations and my motivations is I'm not trying to impose my belief system on anyone else (and before you disagree, tell me how my belief system is going to force anyone to get an abortion who doesn't want one).

4. If you can't define human life then how do you know you are human life?  Do you even know?

Where did you ever get the idea that I can't define human life? You keep saying this over and over as if it were true. It's a complete fabrication of your own inability to understand standard written English.

If "conception" is arbitrary then why is it called "conception?"  It represents a specific point in time.  It represents the creation of UNIQUE DNA.  Some would call that a beginning.

Again, a complete inability to understand English. I never said conception was arbitrary; I said it was an arbitrary location for the beginning of life. Please read what I write, not what you think I write.

Date: 2006/04/11 11:04:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 11 2006,15:48)
Are you serious?  Arguing about definitions for human life is meaningless?  Even when that wallowing in meaninglessness presents a life/death conundrum?  I asked if YOU could define human life.  I didn't ask if others could?  So since human life "can" be defined, give us YOUR definition.

I'm frankly wondering why I'm replying to someone who neither reads nor understands what others are writing, but here goes:

We don't legally define (and the legal definition is the only one that matters here) the beginning of human life as conception for several reasons. The most obvious reason is because you can't define something as a "beginning" when you can't readily determine when that "something" happens. Who knows at what instant in time they were conceived? Most women don't even know they're pregnant until several weeks after conception. Outside of the lab, it's impossible to determine conception much more accurately than that. This is one of the reasons why we don't have funerals for fertilized eggs that fail to implant in the uterine lining.

Everyone knows when they were born. That's an easily-determined, readily-apparent moment in time, that can easily be determined within a few minutes either way. It's also uncontroversial. As Thordaddy has amply demonstrated, you can argue for hundreds of thousands of words whether life begins at conception or at some time before or after that; one can argue whether a specific genotype is more important than a central nervous system, whether consciousness begins at conception and ends at birth, etc.

Legal issues are complex enough, Thordaddy, without interjecting definitional elements that can't even be determined without a great deal of expense and inconvenience to all concerned.

Yes, I know you're not persuaded by arguments that cannot be boiled down to a yes-no answer. But fortunately for millions of women nationwide, your opinions don't carry legal authority. As much as you insist otherwise, the abortion issue is fraught with nuance and ambiguity, a weighing of rights and responsibilities, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution that will satisfy everyone. This is exactly why the decision about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy should be a private matter between a woman and her doctor, and possibly (but not necesarily) involving the father, depending on circumstance.

If you think you can collapse all of that ambiguity down into a simple yes-or-no (and we already know what your answer to that question is) solution, you're quite simply wrong. As in mistaken, not knowing what you're talking about, and of an opinion that simply isn't supportable. Can we possibly put a fork in this one?

Date: 2006/04/11 12:02:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 11 2006,16:29)

Is that really the legal argument for why we don't define human life starting at conception?  I thought the legal argument was that women had privacy rights over their own bodies.  This "right to privacy" translated into a right to abortion.  This is the legal argument.  A weak one indeed.

Here we go again. We're barely a paragraph into your response, and already you've fundamentally misinterpreted what I said. I didn't give a legal argument for not defining the beginning of life as conception; I gave a practical argument. Do you understand the distinction?  

Conception is conception.  It needs no further clarification.  It represents the beginning of a unique human life and everyone who has ever lived has experienced conception (a beginning).  Your attempt is to create ambiguity.  This represents the antithesis of science.  It's asking us to remain in a state of ignorance.

You're acting as if I'm saying the moment of conception is ambiguous. As usual, you simply cannot follow a simple argument. What I am saying is that it's impractical to define life as beginning at conception because the moment of conception is difficult to pinpoint. If you disagree, then I'd like you to outline a procedure by which a woman could determine the exact moment of conception. Is this something she should do continuously for, say, 48 hours after sex? Does that seem a workable solution to you?

Actually, being born just represents when a child is no longer a part of a woman's body.  That's it.  But then we have those cases of partial-birth abortion and the severing of umbilical cords.  Birth is certainly not the beginning of life if conception isn't.

Here we are, a few thousand words later, and you still don't get it. You'll never get it. You are constitutionally incapable of getting it.

What's so controversial about saying if you get pregnant you must accept the responsibility to bring your child into this world to raise it or give up for adoption?  What is controversial about that societal notion?

Gee, Thordaddy, what's so controversial about the idea that if you're raped, you shouldn't be saddled with the consequences of someone else's crime?

This would be a legitimate concern if it weren't for the fact that an innocent human life is being killed based on the whim of another individual.  It's mother of all people, too!  We aren't talking about balancing rights and responsibilities, but rather whether one human being may kill another based on personal choice and the legal power to do so?

As usual, you fail to make the distinction between a "human life" and a "person." As has been pointed out to you no fewer than twenty times, this is an important legal distinction. Your failure to understand the difference pretty much disqualifies you from even having an opinion on the subject.

Quote innocent human life is being killed based on the whim of another individual.

Here's another reason why you're simply not equipped emotionally to discuss this issue, Thordaddy. Women do not get an abortion on a "whim." Obviously you've never seen, or known, a woman who has had to get an abortion, and seen them anguish over their choice. Your dismissal of their emotional pain shows just how clueless you are about the entire subject, and who manifestly unfit you are to try to argue about it.

You may stay in a state of ambiguity.  Isn't doesn't bother me.  It will bother you though.

I'm not the one who's in a state of ambiguity. Life and experience are fraught with ambiguity, and your inability to understand that causes you to trip over your own shoelaces over and over again. You persist in your belief that life is black and white, and it's not. It's life's very ambiguity that makes you burn up a few hundred thousand words in trying unsuccessfully to argue that science proves that abortion, any abortion, for any reason, is murder and should be forbidden. And, if you're wondering who's bothered by this ambiguity, I should point out that you're the one who's been spouting your anguish over an issue that doesn't even actually concern you, unless you're thinking of having an abortion yourself. Why does this issue trouble you so, Thordaddy?

Date: 2006/04/11 12:24:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (jeannot @ April 11 2006,17<!--emo&:0)
Since you obviously cannot make the difference between life and consciousness, faith and facts, science and religion... how could you understand any answer from us?

Thordaddy cannot understand the difference between an adult person and a 20-minute old zygote. There's no way he could possibly understand a complex ethical argument.

I think this now makes the fifth thread Thordaddy has started on this topic. Is this a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, I wonder?

Date: 2006/04/11 13:29:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 11 2006,18<!--emo&:0)
LOL!  You are all over the place.  I attempt to define the beginning of human life and you pooh-pooh such attempts at clarity.  

Thordaddy, you mistake consistency for clarity. You consistently fail to make distinctions that everyone else here makes as a matter of course, and then wonder why everyone thinks you're not listening.

For absolutely the last time, trying to define the beginning of life is an absolute waste of time. It's a legal nullity, and in the context of the abortion debate, the only important definitions are legal definitions. As Nike pointed out to you, the U.S. Supreme Court has defined personhood unambiguously, which has nothing to do with when human life begins. You don't like this definition, so you try to come up with another entirely irrelevant definition for something that has no legal significance.

Then you boldly claim the difference between an "adult person and a 20-minute old zygote."  But what's the difference between a specific zygote and the person it becomes, is the real question?

No, that's not the real question. There is no real question here, except why is Thordaddy incapable of making simple distinctions.

Again, your argument relies on ignorance.  "Eugenics" is fine for "human life" that we remain ambiguous about, but "eugenics" for other human "beings" that we have  arbitrarily defined is off-limits.

How does my argument rely on ignorance? My argument relies on meaningful distinctions as opposed to meaningless distinctions. The real ignorance here is yours. You simply cannot distinguish between a scientific argument and a legal argument, a religious argument and an ethical argument.

I want to know how you create this differentiation?

What, between an adult an a zygote? If you can't make that distinction without me pointing it out to you, you truly are a lost cause. If you cannot make a distinction beween killing an adult and killing a zygote, I fail to understand why you think you're qualified to discuss an issue as complex as abortion.

Date: 2006/04/11 13:50:56, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, I've had enough. The mind-numbing repetition has worn out even my patience. Can you go argue this on an anti-abortion site rather than an evolution site, Thordaddy? You're the most unbelievable waste of bandwidth I've ever seen on an evolution website.

Date: 2006/04/11 15:03:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (sir_toejam @ April 11 2006,18:59)
gees, eric, stop already, would ya?

i beginning to wonder exactly who has the obsessive-compulsive disorder;

the troll, or the respondents?

Good point. I'm done. :-)

Date: 2006/04/14 07:39:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (steve_h @ April 14 2006,08:47)
In which case we have one zygote which began at conception which becomes two which began at the time of the split. We had one "person" and now we have two, so one is slightly older than the other, even though they both began at the same time(s). :)

One of the reasons I stated, back about a month ago, that the whole "life begins at conception" argument is one of the stupidest arguments the right wing has ever come up with.

Date: 2006/04/14 09:59:32, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Just a short note here on some of my (admittedly somewhat out of date) research into AIDS statistics nationally and internationally.

First, there is no AIDS epidemic. An epidemic is usually defined as an exponential increase in infections over time. HIV infections in the U.S. have remained steady for 20 years now at about a hundred thousand new infections a year. Seroconversion rates have also remained steady or declined over the last ten years, with minor spikes here and there which are probably due to sampling error more than to any actual differences in infection rates.

Second, HIV infections have, by and large, confined themselves to the original at-risk groups: promiscuous gay and bisexual men, prostitutes, and HIV drug users. There's precious little evidence that HIV is moving out of these risk groups, which is anomalous behavior for a sexually-transmitted disease. (Living in downtown San Francisco, I think I have a pretty good handle on the spread of HIV infection in the US -- I know no one who is neither a gay male nor an IV drug user who is HIV positive).

Third, the epidemiology of HIV infections in Africa is so radically different from what it is in the U.S. that it's difficult to believe it's the same disease with the same cause.

Fourth, the WHO no longer seems to track global AIDS statistics in any detail. At least, accurate breakdowns by country of AIDS cases is no longer available in the Weekly Epidemiological Record. But the last figures I saw, which date from around 2002, show some rather anomalous figures. At that time, world totals for AIDS cases, not deaths, cumulative, since 1981 or so, were 2,822,111, (for comparison, the number in 1996 was 1,544,067). At the same time, WHO was claiming a total number of AIDS cases worldwide of 24 million.

There's an obvious discrepancy here (and yes, both figures are coming from the WER). It would appear that WHO is extrapolating from less than three million reported cases to 24 million estimated cases. In other words, WHO is assuming that about one case in eight is actually reported. This may in fact be true, but I'm wondering what kind of methodology the WHO is using.

So, before we start assuming that gay men in the U.S. (which, according the WHO figures had a total of 806,157 AIDS cases, or about the total who die from cigarette smoking in two years) are some sort of massive health risk, we might want to look at what those risks really are to those of us who are not gay—or even those of us who are.

Date: 2006/04/14 11:44:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
One other point: if the purpose of discriminating against gays is to prevent risky behavior (and not for reasons that could be lumped together under the rubric of "homophobia"), then perhaps it's time to start discriminating more actively against, say, smokers.

Smoking is statistically much more risky than homosexuality per se, and kills way more people. Arguably being a smoker is much more of a "choice" than being gay is (the addictive properties of nicotine notwithstanding), and therefore easier to deal with via statute.

Perhaps the social consequences are not serious enough to serve as sufficient behavior modification. Perhaps smokers should not be allowed to marry? That would provide Darwinian selection against smokers (assuming an affinity for nicotine is genetic), especially if the penalties (lynching? public hanging?) are severe enough.

Strange the people who consider themselves conservatives would resort to social engineering to correct perceived risky behavior. How many conservatives are in favor of, e.g., seatbelt laws or helmet laws?

Date: 2006/04/14 12:12:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ April 14 2006,16:55)

Earlier, IV drug users were identified as a population probably even more prone to AIDS than homosexuals. Interestingly, I've seen no suggestion even implied indirectly that these people (IF they are heterosexual) should be discriminated against, or denied civil rights unrelated to their drug practices.

Well, I'm not sure IV drug users aren't being discriminated against (they seem to have lost a lot of constitutional rights, anyway), but that's definitely a subject for another thread. :-)

So this thread continues an elaborate dance, with most of us trying to get Ghost to understand that he STARTS with ordinary homophobia, and constructs a superstructure of "evidence-based" but inconsistent and irrelevant rationalizations for why his dislikes should be institutionalized by society.

It does seem like an after-the-fact rationalization to me. My own position is this: I don't care if gays are more promiscuous than straights; I don't care if their behavior is more likely to cause disease; and I don't care if what they do in the privacy of their own homes/bars/bath-houses strikes straights as rather icky. None of that is remotely grounds for any sort of discrimination. Unless and until someone can show statistics that gay people are actively going around raping straight people and giving them diseases, I frankly don't want to hear statistically-based rationalizations for why they should be discriminated against.

Does the aphorism "lies, damned lies, and statistics" mean anything to anyone here?

Date: 2006/04/14 18:17:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Ooh, this is going to be a long post, I can tell.

Quote (thordaddy @ April 14 2006,17:43)
One side takes the extreme position that NO discrimination is justified as it pertains to gayness and male homosexuality in particular.  PERIOD!  NO QUESTIONS ASKED!  THINK HOW YOUR TOLD TO THINK, BOY!

Would you care to explain, Thordaddy, why it's a radical and extreme position to state that there's no rational basis for discrimination against gay people? How is discriminating against gay people any different from discriminating against African-American people? And before you say that "gay people cause diseases," I would retort that even if that were true, they wouldn't be causing diseases for non-gay people.

My side has been that there are JUSTIFIED reasons for discriminating against gayness in general and homosexuality (gay male sex) in particular especially in the areas of public and individual health and social and family cohesion.

Nope. Wrong as usual, Thordaddy. Gay people present no health risk at all to straight people, and the idea that gay people somehow put "social cohesiveness" at risk is utterly preposterous. There have been gay people as long as there have been people, and the idea that somehow gay people are bad for society is utterly laughable.

So when the public schools TEACH (for you Russell) that individuals, students or citizens CANNOT and SHOULD NOT discriminate against "sexual orientation" there is little doubt that they are putting young impressionable children in harm's way.  Isn't discriminating critical for survival?

Right. Telling elementary school children that there's nothing wrong with being gay puts them in harm's way in some way that, say, telling them they should fight in wars doesn't? If you're saying there are risks involved with being gay, I won't argue the point, but almost all of those risks are directly attributable to the kind of discrimination against gay people you claim is justified.

WHY, I ask?  Gay sex and homosexuality (gay male sex) in particular have very real consequences for those that engage in these activities BEYOND and out of PROPORTION to their numbers.

Again, see above, and again, those risks do not affect non-gay members of society.

eiricmurphy brought up the analogy to smoking.  I think this is the perfect analogy because no one would suggest that we can't discriminate against those smokers and all the associative health risks that go with this habit.  And no one would suggest a "non-discrimination" policy against "toxic orientations" in the public school system.

Good analogy for my point, horrible analogy for your point. Discrimination against people who are smoking (as opposed to people who smoke, a distinction that is as far beyond Thordaddy as quantum physics is beyond a housecat) is justifiable on the grounds that smoking affects people who don't smoke. Gay sex presents no risks whatsoever to people who don't have sex with gay people. 

To say we can't discriminate against "homosexuality" given all the evidence is tantamount to saying we must bow to liberal orthodoxy.

Given what conservative orthodoxy has done to this country, I can't believe you'd make a point against your own self-interest, but you said it, not I. In the meantime, saying we can't discriminate against "homosexuality" is exactly analogous to saying we can't discriminate against "African-American ancestry." No distinction.


Yes, but it's beside the point. EVEN IF homosexuals "are actively going around raping straight people and giving them diseases", this is STILL no reason to discriminate against homosexuality. It's an excellent reason to prosecute those who commit actual crimes, which is something entirely different. Rapists should be punished. Sexual orientation is irrelevant.

Good point; I agree 100%. People should be punished for crimes they themselves commit, not for crimes people like themselves commit. Some Muslims believe it's justifiable to murder non-Muslims, and in fact have done so. Should we convict all Muslims of murder?


Since when can't "homosexuals" marry in the US?  You're confusing being able to marry (which gays can at a Church that will marry them) and being sanctioned by the state.

Being sanctioned by the state is exactly what gays want. 90% of gay men and women couldn't give a crap about being married by a minister. They want the same legal rights in civil union, in things like Social Security survivors' rights, insurance coverage, financial non-discrimination, etc. Obviously, no one can force any church to marry people it doesn't want to marry. You can't force an Orthodox Jewish rabbi to marry a Jew to a Gentile.

If anyone's confused here, Thordaddy, guess who it is?

You don't see the manipulation.  Gays want both the government to get out of their business AND also help in advancing their agenda.  They want to have their cake and eat it too.

Do you know what the "gay agenda" is, Thordaddy? The "gay agenda" is the subversive idea that gay people should be treated exactly the same as straight people. They don't want to be discriminated against, beaten, or killed for who they are. Yeah, that sure is a radical agenda.

What gay people mostly want, more than anything else, is to be ignored. If straight people treated gay people exactly the way they treated themselves, they'd be perfectly happy. Even talking about a "gay agenda" reeks of homophobia, which is exactly what you have, Thordaddy. Not that that's news to anyone here.

Exactly, this ISN'T about getting "married."  This is about DEMANDING recognition from state and mainstreaming homosexuality.  Homosexual activists are turning the meaning of marriage on its head to get what they want.  Go to the liberal pastor and exchange vows if they want to get married.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Gay people are "demanding" exactly what you've taken for granted all your life, Thordaddy. Did you have the slightest concern about not being able to marry your wife? Are you worried that if your wife is in an auto accident, you might not be able to visit her in the hospital? Are you concerned that if your wife gets cancer and can't work, your insurance won't cover her hospital bills?

That's what gay people are "demanding," Thordaddy. They're "demanding" what you don't even have to worry about having.

What of adult incestual marriages?  What of bigamy and polygamy?  Is society equally required to stay mute in these matters, to.

This is my favorite stupid homophobic argument. "God, if we let gay people marry, soon people will be marrying their sisters, or their dogs, or maybe their vibrators! Heavens!"

You know what, Thordaddy? A guy could want to marry his microwave oven, and that would affect me how, exactly? And before you go off on some tirade about how gay marriage undermines the sanctity of marriage, I have two words for you: "Britney," and "Spears."

Straight people have been doing a great job of destroying the institution all by themselves. I don't think there's anything gay people can do to make things worse.

If a clean homosexual (gay male) discriminates against another homosexual he finds an attraction to because of an unknown HIV status, is this wrong?  You are claiming that discrimination is wrong and therefore guilting this homosexual to play dice with his life.

Here's another distinction Thordaddy doesn't have a prayer of understanding: there's a difference between discriminating between, say, chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream, and legal discrimination in lending practices between gay couples and straight couples. Please, for the love of god, tell me I don't have to belabor this distinction again over twenty posts.

If homosexuality doesn't cause social cohesion concerns then why are we having this discussion?

Because homophobes like you think it causes social cohesion concerns. That's the only reason it's even an issue. If homophobic jerks didn't bring the subject up, how do you think it would come up in the first place?

The enemy is the BEHAVIOR.  The BEHAVIOR is what puts the "homosexual" (gay male) in great risk of AIDS, STDs and early mortality.

If this were so, then why don't we discriminate against sexually-promiscuous straight people, Thordaddy? Would you care to estimate how many straight people have infected each other with Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes, and other STDs over the past few hundred years? As usual, you're trying to make science support your own bigotry, and as usual, you don't have a prayer of succeeding.

And, if the science points to a genetically-based predisposition that is manifested by an encouraging environment, then why are we teaching young children the "normalcy" of gayness and homosexuality in particular?  Why are we playing dice with some children's lives?

Well, first of all, because it's the truth, and second of all, if young people understood that being gay was a normal part of being human, 99% of the bad parts of being gay would be gone, and gay people could just go about the business of being human beings, a state that you, Thordaddy, claim is particularly precious. Need I mention the hypocrisy of such overweening concern over the well-being of a couple of dozen cells, and such lack of concern over the well-being of several hundred million adult human beings?

Oh, by the way—I thought I'd leave you with this little observation, Thordaddy: in my experience, the more homophobic someone is, the less secure he is about his own sexuality. Are you trying to tell us something here?

Date: 2006/04/14 21:10:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ April 14 2006,23:53)
eric murphy:

Steve - Thanks. :-)

Date: 2006/04/15 10:46:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 15 2006,15:31)
And yes, I think that many gays would campaign for affirmative action regardless of the circumstances - it's just human nature. And this is one step to ensuring that yet another group gets jobs and university seats that it doesn't deserve. And once A.A. is established, it never goes away. Ever.

Sorry, Bill, I just don't see it.

The main thing gay people seem to be looking for is to be treated just like everyone else. They're not looking for "special" rights; they're looking for the same rights as everyone else.

Marriage, in the sense of a religious ceremony where two become one in the eyes of one supernatural being or other, don't seem to be very high on the list. And besides, it's not a right they'll ever have anyway, because straight people don't have the right either (straight people can't force a particular church or synagog or mosque to marry them).

The main "right" gay people are looking for that they don't already have is the same right to civil union under the law straight people have. Right now, if you're gay, you have no inheritance rights under the law. Your lover dies, and instead of you inheriting the state, a gaggle of squabbling relatives who excommunicated your lover three decades ago gets everything.

This is wrong, and should be addressed in the law. (In fact, if the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment had meaning for human beings, as opposed to corporate beings, it would already have been addressed.) There's no "affirmative action" here.

Also, as I said to BlockheadDaddy, the argument that gay marriage would somehow destroy the institution is dead on arrival. Marriage, despite the best efforts of heterosexuals everywhere, is going strong, with no signs of going away any time soon.

Date: 2006/04/15 13:01:57, Link
Author: ericmurphy
[quote=thordaddy,April 15 2006,17:27]
Secondly, civil rights apply to individuals and not couples or groups of people.  This is the American way.

Wrong. Slavery applied to an entire race, not individuals. The 14th Amendment was crafted to free slaves, not individuals. Do a little research, will you.

Thirdly, "homosexuals" can marry and be recognized by the state , but MUST abide by the same RULES as the rest of us.

Is this another of your non-sequitors? What gay person is asking for additional rights, or asks to be excused from abiding rules the rest of us our bound to?

I can no more marry a man than a homosexual can.  How is this inequality?

The fact that you can't marry someone you don't want to marry anyway has nothing to do with the fact that gay people can't marry someone they do want to marry.

But I'm sure this is exactly the kind of fine distinction you're congenitally incapable of understanding, so it's pointless to argue with you on this topic as it is on any other.

The claim is that "homosexuals" deserve equal rights.  This translates into "homosexuals" can redefine marriage for the whole of society.

And how, exactly, would this affect you, or any other straight person, even if it were true? Oh, wait; I'm repeating myself. Given who I'm addressing, you can imagine my surprise.

Any "homosexual" couple can write up the required contracts concerning property, wills, etc. to serve their personal interests.

Nope. Time and again state law has trumped such contracts. Again and again a will has been successfully contested in probate, leaving a gay person's partner with nothing and estranged relatives with everything.

"Homosexuals" AREN'T victims, they're in large part bullies looking to mold society in their image and the heck with the consequences.

Tell that to Matthew Sheppard, Thordaddy. Oh, wait, you can't—he's dead.

But what does this have to do with manifesting dangerous behaviors in young school children that could lead to deadly diseases and early death through teaching the "normalcy" of such behavior?

Do read anything anyone else says? Why do you keep repeating the same questions over and over that have been answered to death by others? Are you aware of the fact that other people exist besides you?

Could you please take your narrow-minded bigotry elsewhere?

Date: 2006/04/15 14:32:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Since every post he does provides further evidence of how much of a waste of time it is even to respond to Thordaddy, this will be my last post directed at his diatribes.

Quote (thordaddy @ April 15 2006,18:13)
This is fact.  "Homosexuals" can marry and be recognized like the rest of individuals in our society and we must ALL follow the requirements of that privilege.  This is equality, my friend.

Only a complete, utter idiot would think that gay people have the same rights to marriage as straight people. Other than in Massachusetts, gay people have no marriage rights at all, unless they want to marry someone of the opposite sex. Thordaddy, no one has a "right" to be married in a religious ceremony. We're talking the right to a legally-recognized union, a right straight people have and gay people do not. Why do you think gay people are arguing the issue, Thordaddy? Do you think they're pining after a right they already have? If you think there's an equality of rights between gay people and straight people, you're hallucinating.

It's hard to believe anyone could be this obtuse.

Oh, I thought you were opining on equality under the law and not people's personal choices codified into law.

I am talking about equality under the law. Two married gay people do not have the same rights as two married straight people. You can deny this all you want, but your denial is comically wrong.

It need not affect me if it affects society at large in a negative fashion.  We've already established that "marriage" is not the agenda for "homosexuals."

But it doesn't affect society at large in a negative fashion. You're posing a pointless hypothetical, and as usual, have completely failed to address my charge that there's nothing gay people could do to the institution of marriage that straight people haven't already done, in spades. What is Elizabeth Taylor's affect on the institution of marriage?

Thordaddy, there is no "gay agenda." You, along with the rest of the religious right, have fabricated it out of the febrile depths of your own imagination.

Well, that's were the law needs to be changed and I think we can all agree on this while keeping the traditional definition of marriage intact since "marriage" is not the agenda anyway.  Accruing benefits is the agenda.

So you're now saying you have no problem with civil unions between gay people that have the exact same rights and responsibilities as such unions between straight people? Then why are we even having this argument? If you merely want to keep gay people from being married in church (a war you've already lost), but have no problem with gay legal rights in civil unions, then I fail to see why you even care about this issue.

Do some research on gay male and gay female domestic violence.  You'll see a lot of bullying going on.

Another non-sequitor. Gay people don't batter each other because they're gay. Matthew Sheppard was killed because he was gay.

Then who would tear the paperbag of your head?

Thodaddy, if you think your arguments are giving me anything to think about, you're flattering yourself. If you think you're exposing me to the "reality about how dangerous gay people are to society," you're delusional. All you're really showing me is how much of a bigot you are.

Date: 2006/04/16 15:25:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 15 2006,17:47)
Tom Ames,

Why can't you just put it in your own words and help facilitate an understanding?

I'll save him the time. What happens is—nothing.

Date: 2006/04/17 07:43:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 17 2006,04:49)
Anyone that worships at the alter of equality, non-discrimination and tolerance will always have a hard time understanding other's arguments for he has thrown away all the necessary tools required for discernment.

As someone who evidently cannot distinguish between a fertilized ovum and an infant (and who believes a zygote is conscious but a newborn isn't), you're the last person who should be talking about "discernment."

Which is one reason I'm not addressing any of your arguments. The other reasons are 1) they're laugable; and 2) you don't listen to counter-arguments anyway.

One other comment: evidently you do not believe in the importance of "equality, non-discrimination and tolerance." Not surprising, given that you consistently argue for inequality, discrimination, and intolerance.

Date: 2006/04/17 10:15:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 17 2006,13:56)
Hey Eric, how far would you compromise to make gay marriage come about? If I had any control over the matter, I wouldn't mind allowing full equality for gay couples provided I got something in return (we'll ignore real-world considerations here). Would you be willing to bend a little to my immigration model for example? Or chuck affirmative action (forcing a strict constructionist reading of the 1964 Civil Rights Act). Or allowing a full restoration of free association rights within U.S. borders? Which compromise would you be willing to make? Anybody else is welcome to participate.

Well, being straight, technically I don't have a dog in this fight, but I think from the beginning I should object to the premise of your question: in the current context, we're not talking a zero-sum game. In other words, straight people don't have to give up anything in order for gay people to be allowed civil union, and gay people shouldn't have to give up anything in exchange for something that, if they weren't gay, they would already have.

And why do you think you should be entitled to anything in return for granting full rights to gay people, Bill? First, those rights aren't yours to give: they're inherent rights. In my way of looking at things; these aren't rights you're giving, they're inherent rights you're blocking (an analogy would be damming up a river, and then charging downstream users for the use of water they'd have for free if it weren't for your dam). Second, as I said, you're not giving anything up by allowing full rights to gay people, so why should you get something for nothing?

But in any event, I'll play by the rules currently in force. I think if I had to compromise on any of the three, I'd probably go with affirmative action. However, I think I'd have to give you only half of affirmative action, in the sense that I would want to strengthen anti-discrimination laws so that it becomes more difficult to discrimate in housing, lending, employment, etc. against minorities, whether they be African Americans, Hispanics, homosexuals, witches, etc.

But I can't help asking this question: why is gay marriage even an issue for anyone who isn't gay? Why do straight people even have an opinion on the subject? I simply cannot imagine how my life, or the life of any non-gay person, could possibly be affected by allowing gay people to marry the person of their choice. (This is where Thordaddy is comically wrong in saying his rights are equivalent to a gay person's rights when he points out that he can't marry someone he doesn't want to marry anyway, because a gay person can't mary someone he or she does want to marry.)  I can't imagine how my life, or anyone else's life, would be affected if a guy was allowed to marry his horse if he wanted to.

Date: 2006/04/17 12:26:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 17 2006,16:20)
If no social harm ensues by "normalizing" gay relationships. And assuming this doesn't lead to quotas, set-asides, and other entitlements down the road. I will concede that gay people are extremely competitive, and wouldn't have an immediate need for such things. Just call me a cynic where human nature's involved.

No social harm is going to ensue by allowing gay people the same rights as straight people. It's just not going to happen. Sure, some right-wing crazies are going to pitch a fit and burn down some houses, etc., but that's a problem with the crazies, not with gay marriage.

And I simply don't see any "quotas, set-asides, or entitlements" coming out of the right to marry whomever one wants. What "entitlements," even in principle, would gay people want? Jobs? Got that. Educational opportunities? Got that. I'd be the first to admit that while gay people may not have all the rights that straight people have, they're not exactly a down-trodden minority. At least, not in those areas of the country where they don't have to worry about getting murdered because of their sexuality. But how do you solve that particular problem with an "entitlement"?

Part of it involves religion, of course. I suspect that "traditional" Americans view all sex acts with suspicion, but are willing to tolerate sex that serves a critical function (reproduction).

Again, this is not something that gay people cause. It's not their fault a solid majority of Americans are uptight about sex.

Date: 2006/04/17 13:29:56, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (BWE @ April 17 2006,18:15)
Mmmmm. Bacon.

No, that's pancetta. "Promiscuos" is cured ham. Sort of.

Date: 2006/04/17 13:59:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 17 2006,18:43)

   It also goes back to the level of distrust between liberals and conservatives. That's one reason I'm discussing compromise: compromise forces people to re-evaluate their priorities, adopt the other guy's POV, and codify their underlying assumptions. So which gov. regulations would each of you surrender to make gay marriage a reality?

No problem: I'd surrender all government regulations on abortion. :-)

I'd also surrender the government regulations that prevent winegrowers from listing the health benefits of drinking wine.

And while we're at it, I'd surrender all the government regulations on controlled substances, i.e., illegal drugs.

Seems like that would be a trade worth making. :-)

Date: 2006/04/18 12:24:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ April 18 2006,16:50)
I doubt I am that unusual.

Hmm…within a few days of birth? How would you know? Couldn't they just as easily be within a year of birth? I don't know about you, but not much changed in my immediate surroundings (e.g., where I lived, where my bedroom was, etc.) in the first year of my life.

I know I have memories dating to before my third birthday, because I have specific visual memories of the house I lived in at the time. But these are memories dating back to when I could understand at least some English. Are you saying you have memories going back to before you understood any language? I'd guess that makes you part of a vanishingly small minority.

Most people I know can't remember anything before first grade.

Date: 2006/04/18 13:31:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 18 2006,17:54)
I've been devising my "slippery-slope" theory.  

What, you think this "slippery slope" argument is your development? I got news for you, Thordaddy.

We must slide down the "slippery-slope" much more rapidly so as to show the absurdity of the arguments for "gay" marriage.

Actually, your absurd examples show how absurd your argument is.

Would you care to explain exactly how your marrying all five of your brothers (and having nightly orgies together) would have the slightest effect on my, or anyone else's, life?

Now, if you show up at my apartment at two in the morning demanding to have an orgy with your five brothers in my living room, that's going to have an affect on me.

If you're going to have an orgy with your five brothers in your own living room, I frankly couldn't care less. So unless you can show me how allowing gay people to marry the individuals of their choice is going to end up, at the end of some slippery slope, with you and your five brothers having an orgy in my living room, your argument crashes and burns.

Date: 2006/04/18 13:54:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
This is a question specifically for Bill o' the Paley clan (note I didn't spell it with a "K" :-) ), but anyone else can feel free to jump in.

I don't consider myself a libertarian, but I suspect that you, Bill, would feel reasonably comfortable being referred to as a libertarian (maybe not so accurately as a cultural conservative, but bear with me for now). My understanding of the libertarian legal philosophy is (loosely speaking): the bare minimum laws restricting individual freedom that suffice to keep society functioning. Is that close enough for a working definition?

This is what I would add: the bare minimum laws restricting individual freedom while also restricting infringing on the rights and freedoms of others.

In other words, you're free to to do whatever you want, provided you don't infringe on the rights of others. Does that seem a pretty reasonable way to run a society?

Okay, assuming (if I haven't made an ass out of u and me) we're in agreement so far, shouldn't we allow gay people to marry individuals of the same sex unless we can show that doing so would infringe on the rights of others? What other justification would there be? And again, even Thordaddy seems dimly aware (except in this context) that you shouldn't hold individuals responsible for the actions of others who in some way resemble them. As Flint pointed out, even if lots of gay people did go around raping and murdering straight people, you couldn't justify imprisoning all gay people, on the off chance that they might rape and murder straight people if given half a chance.

Normally, pre-crime doesn't work in this country, Phillip K. Dick notwithstanding.

Date: 2006/04/18 15:51:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 18 2006,19:53)
ericmurphy said:
This is a question specifically for Bill o' the Paley clan (note I didn't spell it with a "K" :-) ), but anyone else can feel free to jump in.

Hey T-Daddy, do you know how to tell if you're winning a debate with a liberal?

Answer: They bring up the Klan.

Just kidding! Sheesh… :-)

Date: 2006/04/18 16:13:38, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 18 2006,19:53)
Tell you what, Eric. How about this. We allow gay marriage and drugs:

1) You allow us the freedom of association (the real kind: absolute freedom to hire, serve, and live wherever one wants), and
2) No laws favoring any race, gender, creed, or nationality. No affirmative action, no Jim Crow, no government looking over your shoulder.

So far, I haven't heard a peep from any liberal on this (including your vaguely worded "compromise"). Why is that? I thought liberals were all for civil liberties, and here I am offering freedom for everyone. seems that some people are more equal than others after all.

See, here's the problem I have with this kind of deal, Bill: you're giving rights to one group (which they're arguably already entitled to under the 14th Amendment), and taking rights away from another group (which is probably unconstitutional under the same Amendment).

What? you say. Where am I taking rights away?

But you are.

If you want pure, unadulterated free association, you're taking rights away from people who would otherwise be able to do whatever it is you don't want them to do: live in your neighborhood, teach in your schools, gain employment in your businesses, etc. This goes against my earlier principle that individual rights and freedoms shouldn't infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. Sure, it's great that you can live in the kind of burbclave you want to live in, but you're infringing on the rights and freedoms of others who might want to live in the same burbclave.

As to the Jim Crow laws, affirmative action, etc.: I am in general not opposed to giving up such laws, but the problem is, in order to prevent discrimination on the basis of, e.g., gender, race, religion, etc., it seems you have to bend over backwards in the opposite direction. My personal belief is that such laws are a necessary evil in society as it is currently constituted, because people are more than willing to bend the rules in the opposite direction. In a perfect world, there would be no need for such laws, but today, here, in the U.S., I think you can make a compelling argument that without such laws, various forms of institutionalized discrimination will persist to the detriment of the protected classes who are the subject of those laws.

So, at least in principle, I would be willing to trade giving gay people the same rights and freedoms as straight people in exchange for an exactly level playing field for everyone (i.e., no anti-discrimination laws), provided that no de facto discrimination actually takes place. But I'm afraid free association isn't part of the deal, because as I said before, it's definitely trading giving back rights to one group in exchange for reduced rights for another group. It's a devil's bargain, in that gay people should have the rights you're willing to "give" them in the first place.

Date: 2006/04/18 16:37:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 18 2006,21<!--emo&:0)
Yes, Ghost of Paley, the liberal arguments aren't what they seem.

Maybe, but on the other hand, Thordaddy's arguments don't exist.

Arguing with Thordaddy is only slightly more productive than arguing with the umpire in a televised rebroadcast of a baseball game. If you challenge him, he simply ignores you. An example:

The slippery-slope has already seen the absurd with a woman "marrying" a dolphin.

You seem to have entirely missed the point here, Thordaddy (imagine my astonishment). I'll ask you for the third time: this affects you how? Sure, it's amusing to think of a woman "marrying" a dolphin (personally I think it's kinda hot), but it's no more absurd than someone bungee jumping, or gambling at a casino, or believing in Intelligent Design. And it affects me, and you, just about as much. You're going to make something illegal on the grounds that it's ridiculous? I'd be careful before I went anywhere with that argument.

If someone insisted that I marry a dolphin, I'd probably have a problem with that, but since no one is, or is even thinking about it, what exactly is the problem with it?

Until you answer that question, Thordaddy, you can assume that your "slippery slope" argument has been refuted.

Gays are not unequal under the law as they may marry with state sanction someone of the opposite sex.

Ignoring other peoples' arguments and saying the same thing over and over doesn't really mean you've won the argument, dude.

Gays want state sanction for their "marriage" and are using the courts to redefine traditional marriage.

And what's the problem with this? Straight people certainly want state sanction for their marriage, and does the argument that straights get marriage and gays don't boil down to the fact that straights got there first?

The arguments put forth by gays to bolster their claims are the usual suspects, namely, equality and non-discrimination.

Thanks for pointing this out to us, Thordaddy. Everyone knows how bad equality and non-discrimination are, so I'm glad you pointed out the nefarious motives of these individuals.

These arguments can be readily used by ANY adult seeking state sanction (benefit) for his/her consenting "union."

Yep. Your point?

Actually, tell you what: take away all the special privileges that married people currently get, and I'll bet you gay people completely lose interest in state-sanctioned marriage.

These "liberal" arguments consist of nothing more than, "I don't see anything wrong with it?"

And your "bigoted" argument consists of nothing more than "I see something wrong with it." The difference is, you can't tell us exactly what that wrong thing is.

Date: 2006/04/18 16:56:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Here's another thought, Bill.

Presumably you're opposed to gay marriage for health reasons. In other words, you believe that if gay people could marry (I guess for the sake of Thordaddy I should specify that I'm talking about marrying someone of the same sex), the incidence of HIV and other STDs would increase. But is this really a rational position to take?

Let's assume arguendo that gay people can already marry, and that the incidence of HIV and other STDs in the gay population is the same as it currently is. Would it make sense to ban gay marriage, in the hopes that STD levels would go down? After all, it's not like forbidding people from marrying forbids them from having sex. Au contraire, I would argue.

Imagine it's the middle 19th century and a wave of syphilis and gonorrhea is sweeping through the country. Would banning marriage be part of the solution? Seems unlikely.

Obviously no one can say for sure if providing that gay people can marry will reduce the level of sexual promiscuity in that community. But I think it's virtually impossible to argue that it would increase it.

So, if that's not the argument for banning gay marriage, what is?

Date: 2006/04/18 21:11:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 18 2006,23:24)

Can gays get married in a liberal church by a liberal pastor and form marriage convenants?

Yes or No

Yes. What's your point? I could probably convince some liberal pastor somewhere to marry me and my spider plant. Will I get a tax break for being married? Will my spider plant's medical bills be covered? Do you have a clue?

Can straights marry people of the same sex?

Yes or No

Do they want to marry people of the same sex? Because if they do, they're not exactly straight, are they, Thordaddy? Do you ever come up with new arguments after your old arguments are shredded?

The only inequality and discrimination that will spring forward will be that of "homosexuals" slamming the door shut on other adult consenting "unions."  Typical narcissists.

What gives you that idea? I'm not even gay, and I could give a crap if someone wants to marry her vibrator. What makes you think gay people (who are way more like me than they are like you) would feel any different?

Remember, you have no dog in this fight, but you discriminate in favor of "homosexuals" nonetheless.  The question is how that makes you any more moral than those trying to preserve traditional marriage because we recognize its fundamental uniqueness to our civilization.

Really? I discriminate in favor of homosexuals and against whom, exactly? I can't discriminate in favor of one group without discriminating against another group. And so far, you haven't told me whom I'm discriminating against. You lose again. Don't you get tired of it?

Meanwhile, when are you going to get around to answering my question: how does a woman marrying a dolphin affect you? You keep saying gay marriage is "unacceptable," but so far the only reason you've given for that is your own naked homophobia. And, as I pointed out a few posts ago, I can't help wondering why, exactly, you're so homophobic, Thordaddy. Have you given any thought to that particular question? No?

Date: 2006/04/19 07:31:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 19 2006,02:53)

The point is that this isn't about "gay" marriage, but financial incentive.  This is about personal benefits procured by a radical minority and if it requires a trashing and redefining of traditional marriage "then so be it," says the "progressive."

No it's not. It's about equal protection under the law, Thordaddy. As I said, if you're willing to give up the special privileges you get as a married person, gay people will suddenly lose interest in gay marriage.

And, it's about more than financial incentive. If your wife ends up in the hospital, are you worried about getting to see her? If a lesbian's girlfriend ends up in the hospital, she may not even get to see her. After all, she's not related to her.

But even if it were strictly about financial incentive, that would still leave your argument without merit. Why should gay people be denied financial incentives straight people are entitled to?

Well, if they could get tax breaks and financial incentives, they may decide to "marry" and what would be your arguments against such arrangements?  You don't have to have sexual relations to love someone and give them a commitment, do you?

I don't have an argument against such arrangements, because I don't need one. Pay attention, Thordaddy. I'm not opposed to marriages between two people of the same sex, whether they're gay or not. I'm not opposed to marriage between any two people for any reason, so long as they're both able to give consent to the arrangement.

Exactly... there are no consensual adult relationships that you could possibly argue against.  The government must sanction and incentivize ALL such arrangements.  You are calling for the radical transformation of our traditional society based on your "I could give a crap" analysis.  LOL!

Actually, there's an easier way around this. Simply give up all the special privileges you get from being married, and you won't have anything to worry about from weirdos down the street being in marriages you personally don't approve of. Deal?

You discriminate against traditional marriage and those that value it for its fundamentally unique position in civilized society.  By elevating "gay" marriage, you necessarily devalue traditional marriage.  Why is your discrimination more legitimate than the next guy, bigot?

This is a garbage argument, totally without merit. Calling it an "argument" is being way too generous.The idea that wanting to allow gay people to marry somehow discriminates against married straight people has got to be the biggest howler you've ever told, Thordaddy. And believe me, in your case, the competition is pretty fierce.

Additionally, the idea that allowing gay marriages somehow "devalues" straight marriage has as an inevitable assumption the idea that gay people are somehow less valuable than straight people. Which, of course, is exactly what you believe.

But this is a new experience for me. I've never been called a "bigot" for being in favor of granting rights to someone.

If homosexuals die of AIDS, how does that affect me?

It doesn't. Unless you're homosexual. But in any event, it's a non-sequitor. You act as if gay marriage somehow causes AIDS. Another completely meritless idea.

If Catholic school boys are molested by homosexual pedophiles, how does that affect me?

It doesn't. Unless you're a Catholic school boy. But again, you're acting as if gay marriage causes priests to molest schooboys. Your argument is not only meritless; it actually hurts your premise.

And, it doesn't sound like you're arguing against gay marriage (since gay marriage would potentially ameliorate some of these problems, and certainly wouldn't make any of them worse). You're actually arguing, whether you realize it or not, against the existence of gay people. It's just a tiny step from there to making gay sex illegal, along with gay marriage. Are you sure you want to go there, Thordaddy?

Is this really the basis for your argument... the "It doesn't affect ericmurphy," argument?

No, it's the "it doesn't affect anyone" argument. You have failed to show how gay marriage will affect anyone at all, other than the gay people who will benefit. Until you've done that, your entire argument collapses.

And what exactly is homophobia?  Is that an evolutionary instinct that manifests an aversion to intimacy between similar sexes?

No, Thordaddy. Homophobia isn't an aversion to homosexual sex. It's an aversion to homosexual people. No one, including gay people, is going to think the less of you if you're not interested in sex with other men. What makes you an insufferable bigot is that you're averse to gay people themselves. That's what basically excludes you from polite society.

If so, yes, I am homophobic

Yep, you sure are. By the real definition as well as your own broken definition.

but then homosexuals would seem to be heterophobic as they have an unnatural aversion to the opposite sex.  Is that the case?  Or, do you lack this natural aversion to intimacy between men?

Actually, quite a few homosexual men and women have no particular aversion to sex with people of the opposite gender. But even if they don't, that doesn't make them "heterophobic." They'd only be "heterophobic" if they didn't like straight people as well as straight sex, and sought to restrict the rights of heterosexuals to be less than the rights that they themselves enjoy. Such creatures are just as mythical as Rush Limbaughs "feminazis" who want to make sure everyone has as many abortions as possible.

And to answer your question: no, I have no aversion to intimacy between men, so long as neither one of them is me. You, on the other hand, have an aversion to intimacy between men, even if neither one of them is you. That's what makes you a bigot, Thordaddy. As well as an insufferable busybody.

Date: 2006/04/19 09:07:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 19 2006,11<!--emo&:0)
For the rest of you: ahhh, I see the interracial trump card has finally been played. I'm only surprised it took so long. Never fear, I plan on addressing this argument as soon as possible.

I'm surprised, too. After all, I fail to see the distinction between discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on race. If you see a distinction, what is that distinction?

Date: 2006/04/19 12:26:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Bill, I think your opposition to gay marriage is not only illogical and irrational (based on your stated grounds), but actually accomplishes the opposite of what you want it to accomplish.

From your posts, it seems that your main complaint with gay people is that they're "promiscuous." I could spend some time pinning you down to what exactly what you mean by that term, and why promiscuity is inherently a bad thing, but it's unnecessary to do so to defeat your argument.

Let's assume, arguendo, that a) promiscuity is a bad thing, and b) that steps should be taken to reduce it. Given those two assumptions, does it make any sense to ban gay marriage?

At worst, it's difficult to imagine how allowing gay people to marry other gay people could possibly lead to increased promiscuity. For one thing, if two gay people are married, and one of them cheats, the aggrieved party can sue for damages (at least in some states), something that party currently has no standing to do. Further, the expense and difficulty of getting a divorce (yes, even today it can be difficult and expensive) is a disincentive to cheating (if you don't think it is for gay people, then you must not think it is for straight people, which leads me to wonder what your argument in favor of straight marriage is).

Let's imagine that gay people already had the right to marry. Would revoking that right lead to decreased promiscuity? If you think so, I'd like to hear your reasons.

Or, maybe you think gay people should be punished for their promiscuity by being denied that right to marry. Well, what about straight people? Their record for fidelity isn't so hot either (I once dated a straight woman who'd had sex with over 150 partners; I kinda wish she'd told me that before we started having sex). Shouldn't they be punished for their promiscuity too?

Or maybe you think only extreme promiscuity should be punished. But even if you do think so, what's the argument for making those who are not promiscuous pay for the transgressions of those who are? (Wouldn't you agree that those most desirous of getting married are the same ones least likely to be promiscuous?) Doesn't sound like a very conservative/libertarian position to me.

You've implied several times that "mainstreaming" homosexuality would lead to increased promiscuity, but I'm having difficulty imagining why this would be. I think a much stronger argument can be made that promiscuity in the gay community would decrease if homosexuality were much less of a big deal than it is now, and if being a married gay couple were completely unexceptional. I'm not sure it's valid to say that there's something specific about gay people that makes them promiscuous, other than the marginalization they're subject to.

In any event, you're taking a drastic solution now (denying basic rights to an entire class of people) to solve what is at best a potential problem. And as Flint just pointed out, these potential problems have a habit of never actually arising in the real world.

Date: 2006/04/19 16:35:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
God, Bill, you sound so reasonable.

If I were Malcolm Reynolds, I'd definitely suspect a trap.

Therefore, any person who shares core American values yet seeks to abridge a particular group's liberties must possess an ulterior motive for doing so.

I'm not sure I necessarily agree with this point. For example, I suspect one can have a principled objection to the legalization of, say, heroin. But having a principled objection doesn't necessarily mean your objection is justified.

Other than that, and a certain sneaking suspicion, I think we're at least on the same page, if not in the same paragraph.

Date: 2006/04/20 06:44:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 20 2006,04:53)
There is no equivalency between traditional marriage and gay "marriage" and society isn't required to bend to the will of a radical minority that will use judicial fiat to accomplish their goal.

Their goal being what, exactly? To be treated like everyone else?

God, Thordaddy, your agenda couldn't be any clearer. Are you hoping this kind of bigotry will grease the skids on your way to heaven?

Date: 2006/04/20 08:54:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Another thought, Bill, with respect to your trade of gay marriage for free association.

If I give you free association, aren't you getting something for nothing? Because free association would effectively mean that gay people only got marriage at the suffrance of straight people anyway. If some community doesn't want gay people to marry (or even live) there, I guess they're (the guy people, that is) out of luck, right?

I had the feeling this was a sucker's bargain. But let me know if I'm misinterpreting.

Date: 2006/04/20 10:41:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 20 2006,15:25)
Chris Hyland,

Why stop with homosexual couples?

Why can't my 5 brothers and I get "married" so we can further our financial and business interests and use the equal protection clause as the basis for our argument?

No reason I can think of, Thordaddy. So why don't you inform us all why you think it's a bad idea.

And when are you going to start answering any of the questions that have been posed to you?

Here's a quick list so you don't have to go back over the last 50 posts of questions you haven't answered:

a) what bad things will happen if gay people can get a marriage that is sanctioned by the state?

b) why should straight people have privileges that gay people do not have?

c) in what way does a marriage between two gay men affect you, or anyone else for that matter?

d) how is advocating for state-sanctioned gay marriage "discrimination" against straight people?

e) what privileges are gay people trying to get that straight people don't already have?

f) how will state-sanctioned gay marriages increase the incidence of AIDS or the incidence of sexual molestation by Catholic priests?

g) why do you think that straight married couples should enjoy privileges that others (including straight single people) are not entitled to?

h) why are you so afraid of gay people? Are you afraid that you might secretly gay?

Date: 2006/04/20 11:35:05, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 20 2006,16<!--emo&:0)
Because one man and one woman is the foundation of society.  If we simply recognize any ADULT UNION as legitimate and equal to all others then we are necessarily stating that one man and one woman is/was a foolish and antiquated notion.  Such arrogance.

No it's not. Otherwise, you're saying single people like me are just as much second-class citizens as gay people who want to get married. On what grounds do you establish married couples as the "foundation of society"? On what grounds should married couples be entitled to their exalted status (along with all their financial and social privileges) denied to everyone else? Coffee grounds?

Our society will falsely come to believe that the foundation of a civilized society (one man, one woman) is/was a mere illusion.

What do you mean "falsely"? Marriage isn't the foundation of our society. If anything, the rule of law is the foundation of society, not the institution of marriage. So you're wrong on this one, too.

I have no privileges unless I get married and then society recognizes my unique relationship and wishes to encourage and promote it.  I see no restrictions or inequalities in the law that forbid "homosexual" from enjoying the same "privileges" as anyone who wishes to get married.  Both I and homosexuals are bound by the exact same laws.

Wrong again. You have all kinds of privileges once you're married, and you're denying those privileges to those who either are not or cannot become married. The fact that you can't see those inequalities or restrictions (not surprising given your selective blindness) doesn't mean they're not there.

And what's unique about being married? That's the same question you assume is already answered, and it isn't.

It need not "affect" me.  If a homosexual dies of AIDS, how does that affect me?  If my next door neighbor gets murdered, how does that affect me?  But clearly, these things AFFECT society at large.  2 gay men getting "married" would effectively denigrate and devalue the foundation of any civilized society, namely, one man and one woman.

No, not clearly at all. You assume there's a (bad) effect on society, but I'm not going to let you get away with that assumption. Until you can clearly and unambiguously demonstrate that gay marriage has a negative effect on society, you're wrong on this one too. You can't just assume what you're trying to prove, Thordaddy.

It's discrimination against traditional marriage and those that see its unique societal value.  And advocating through the courts and using judicial fiat to get what you want is plain unAmerican.

Your saying something is discrimination because it's discrimination. You're getting exactly nowhere in your argument. Meanwhile, you're saying that marriage is unique because it's unique. You're piling one circular definition on top of another.

Believe it or not, something doesn't become true because you say it's true.

No straight person has a privilege denied to gays.  Both gays and straights can choose to get a traditional marriage and benefit from union.  Until they make that commitment then the "rights" of gay and straights are rather indistinguishable.

Every straight person has a privilege denied to gays. Every straight person is entitled to a straight marriage to another straight person which is sanctioned by the state. No gay person can marry any gay person of the same gender and have that marriage sanctioned by the state. You're not too blind to see this. You're too bigoted to admit it.

Because the act that is most associated with male gayness (anal sex) will be normalized.  If murder were legalised, would we have less incidences of murder?  Look at abortion as the prime example of that which we speak.

Wrong, wrong wrong. The issue isn't, "if we legalized giving AIDS to people, the incidence of AIDS would increase." Marriage, including gay marriage, does not "cause" AIDS. Anal sex does not "cause" AIDS (you seem to be under the erroneous impression that anal sex all by itself causes AIDS). Gay marriage does not "cause" anal sex. Yet another completely wrong argument. So far, you're batting zero, Thordaddy.

Because most reasonable people recognize the inherent value of encouraging and promoting the basic foundation of a civilized society (one man, one woman).  Except for you, of course.

No, most bigots recognize that their comfort level will be increased if they don't have to see, or deal with, or acknowledge the existence of gay people. If gay people can get married, and their existence is acknowledged by the state, bigots cannot be comfortable in their ignorance and cannot pretend that gay people don't exist. Saying over and over again that heterosexual marriage is the foundation of a civilized society doen't make it true.

I don't fear gays, gays fear heterosexuality.  I have a natural evolutionary aversion to any sexual intimacy between men.  I can't help.  And I suppose you don't have this same aversion?  Wouldn't this scenario more likely cast you as the one with homosexual tendencies?

Gays don't fear heterosexuals. They fear heterosexual bigots who do not believe gay people should have the same rights as straight people. Can you blame them?

Do you ever read and understand anyone else's posts, Thordaddy? I already explained to you that I have no aversion to sex between two men, so long as neither one of them is me. You have an aversion to sex between two men no matter who those two men are.

And if you think you're insulting me by implying I might have homosexual tendencies, you're even more clueless than you think I think you are.

BTW, here's another question you've never answered: what is your obsession with anal sex? And, why do you think anal sex is the exclusive province of gay men?

Date: 2006/04/20 11:41:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 20 2006,16<!--emo&:0)
Because most reasonable people recognize the inherent value of encouraging and promoting the basic foundation of a civilized society (one man, one woman).  Except for you, of course.

Funny, I always assumed the foundation of a civilized society was one man, one vote.

So every man gets a woman? Is that how it works? And where do the children fit into all this? Or is it really one man, one woman, and a litter of squalling brats?

Date: 2006/04/20 11:48:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ April 20 2006,16:16)

You expected rational answers? Bad is bad, evil is evil, my opinions are infallible, gays are bad. No right-thinking person would disagree with me, therefore I'm right.

At least it's simple.

Of course not. But I thought I'd try showing other, less cement-headed individuals just how empty these so-called "arguments" are.

Date: 2006/04/20 13:09:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 20 2006,17:21)
Well, one reason might be that eating and sex are completely unrelated acts (Hey you in the back row! Stop giggling!;)). So a law prohibiting marriage would have zero chance of suppressing an unnaturally large appetite.

But Bill, surely you don't believe that a lack of matrimony prevents sex, do you? I'd guess it's actually the other way around. :-)

In addition, nobody would have to change the definition of marriage in order to marry two fatties, as they would with homosexual couples.

I find this argument pretty unpersuasive. Here's the huge, upheaving-of-society, civilization-collapsing change to the definition of marriage we need:

(Before) a union between one man and one woman.

(after) a union between one person and one person.

That's what I might call a de minimus change.

Once again, you hold me to an unusually high burden of proof: If I can't prove that homosexual marriage by itself would cause a societal collapse, I have no case.

I think you're overstating things, Bill. Flint is saying that unless you can prove (or even show that it's likely) that homosexual marriage by itself would cause significant negative effects to society, you have no case. And I think that's an eminently reasonable position to take. What other reason would there be to deny homosexual marriage? So Thordaddy doesn't have to risk being grossed out by his Big Gay Neighbors?

But the real issue, as Flint pointed out, is where's the benefit to society in denying to gay people the very real rights and privileges married heterosexuals receive merely by virtue of being married?

Why should we assume that marriage is an unalienable right like speech or religion?

We shouldn't assume any such thing, because it's undeniably a false assumption. Do I have a "right" to be married? Not unless I can find someone who wants to marry me. But if we're going to allow some people to be married, we should allow all people to be married.

And, as a single person, gay or not, I object to the idea that married people, merely by virtue of being married, are somehow entitled to tax breaks, inheritance rights, etc. If marriage is, as Thordaddy claims, the "foundation of society," then why do we have to bribe people to get married?

But that's all sideshow. The real question is, what social good is served by denying rights and privileges to gay people that straight people take for granted? So far, that's been the great unanswerable, both by you and by Mr. T. At least you seem to agree that limiting rights should only be done with a compelling reason. Thordaddy seems to either think that a) there are no rights being limited, which frankly is absurd, or b) that they should be merely because he thinks they should be.

Date: 2006/04/20 13:31:00, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 20 2006,17:40)
But you're assuming that allowing gay marriage won't have a positive impact on infection rates. But assume that marriage encourages much more homosexual behavior, and that this behavior leads to more disease.

Bill, Bill, Bill.

(When you say "positive" effect on infection rates, I assume you mean "bad" effect on infection rates).

What other assumption would I make? Infection rates are a function of the number of sexual partners, not the kind of sex. Unless you can show that gay marriage would increase, not decrease, sexual promiscuity, the only reasonable assumption is that gay marriage would reduce infection rates.

Again, I know you know this, but it bears repeating: gay sex doesn't cause AIDS. A monogamous married gay couple who have sex together five times a day doesn't increase infection rates. An unmarried gay man who has sex once a month with a different sex partner every time does.

Wouldn't a ban be effective then? And we know that gay behavior is dramatically more common in societies which normalize it (Ancient Greece and Rome, to give two historical examples, or prisons, for a contemporary one). Do we really want another bubonic plague on our hands?

It would only be effective if you believe that a ban on gay marriage equates to a ban on gay sex, and I know you don't believe that. Again (one more time for the hearing-impaired, and I don't mean you, Bill), gay behavior, in and of itself, does not spread infection. Multiple sex partners can spread infection, and how does gay marriage promote multiple sexual partners? Doesn't it have the opposite effect?

Also, why the worry about some sort of pandemic? HIV infection rates have been constant (i.e., not increasing) for twenty years now, with no reason to think gay marriage will change that, and there's no sign, after 20 years, that AIDS is going to "break out" of its current at-risk population. Everyone thought, 20 years ago, that it was only a matter of time before AIDS would burn its way through the het population, but it hasn't happened; it hasn't even burned its way through the gay population.

(Africa's another story, but I don't think anyone has a real grasp of what AIDS infection rates really are in Africa, nor does anyone have a plausible explanation for why the epidemiology is totally different in Africa.)

But in any event, I think it's a really tough row to hoe if you want to show that gay marriage will somehow increase promiscuity, since it's the promiscuity, and not "gay behavior" that increases infection rates.

Date: 2006/04/20 13:40:27, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Occam's Aftershave @ April 20 2006,18:24)


There's no need to be a redundant mouthy bigoted holier-than-thou prick.

Thanks, OA. You just saved me twenty minutes of typing.

Date: 2006/04/20 17:15:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 20 2006,19:11)
Eric and Flint, obviously I'm trying to understand your position. In fact I think I do. …

Look: sex is necessary for reproduction. However, unbridled sex is not only unnecessary, it's downright dangerous. Marriage ties the joy of sex to the responsibility of parenthood without causing an undue burden on unwilling participants. It bribes, yes bribes, people into behaving responsibly. But in order to understand its virtues, you must first recognize it for the compromise it is.
  Also: If my arguments about disease, the social compact, etc are just rationalizations for a visceral dislike for gay sex, then why did I offer a compromise? Why am I the only one who's trying to support his case with facts? Why am I working so hard to understand your point of view? None of my actions can be explained by your model.

Frankly, Bill, I'm not that interested in your motivations. You may be opposed to gay marriage because you genuinely believe it would have a negative effect on society, or you might be a rabid homophobe who's merely casting about for support, any support, for your febrile imaginings. I don't need to figure out your motivations, because they're really not that important to me.

But it seems strange to me that a conservative/libertarian would advocate using regulation to protect people from themselves. Seems to sort of go against the whole ethos, as it were.

My feeling is, everyone knows (or should know; it's not like the information is being hidden) that "unbridled sex" can be dangerous. So can bungee jumping, smoking, or driving your car. I trust the people can make informed decisions about what risks they're willing to take, and given that the behavior you're so worried about, i.e., promiscuous homosexual sex, is pretty easily avoided by those who wish to avoid it, I simply cannot see why the state has a vested interest in trying to protect people from themselves, especially given that your proposed fix, banning gay marriage, is unlikely to make the situation better, and in fact probably makes it worse.

If you think that forcing people to have children if they're going to have sex is going to reduce how much sex they have, I can point to almost 200,000 years of high fertility, and a current world population in excess of 6 billion, as pretty compelling evidence that you're wrong. Like most attempts at prohibition, trying to make people not have sex is doomed to failure. Never has worked, never will work.

On the other hand, allowing gay people to marry, and thereby enjoying the various rights and responsibilities appertaining thereunto, will at a minimum provide some additional incentive, however small, to engage in long-term, monogamous relationships, and isn't that actually the goal you claim to seek? I just cannot see legalizing gay marriage working any other way. Gay men will continue to have sex with each other, marriage or not, but preventing gay marriage is likely having the opposite effect you would like it to have.

I think it really is as simple as that.

Date: 2006/04/20 21:27:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 20 2006,22:44)

Are you really arguing that "homosexuals" are advocating for "marriage" so they will blah blah blah…

Thordaddy—[thinking better of it] never mind.

Date: 2006/04/21 07:25:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ April 21 2006,10:24)

Since Ghost doesn't seem to be around right now, I'll play devil's advocate and guess in his stead, probably wildly wrong…


I'm impressed. I could be wrong here (and I'm sure Bill will point it out to me if I am), but I think you've really articulated Mr. Paley's arguments better than he himself has.

But to play your anti-devil's advocate: as you said yourself, these dire predictions about immense social upheavals (ending slavery, women's suffrage, ending anti-miscegination laws) have a history of never coming true. Bill has never tried to hide his resentment of affirmative action laws, but he's also never really come up with evidence that they've been terribly destructive.

Sure, sometimes affirmative action laws go awry, and sometimes unqualified people end up in positions they're not competent enough to execute (on the other hand, one look at the White House is enough to show that plenty of incompetents end up in positions of responsibility with no help from affirmative action laws). But personally I think the whole anti-A.A. argument is making a mountain range out of a mole hill. Obviously, I think the same is true of the anti-gay marriage argument.

Date: 2006/04/21 09:21:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy

Just guessing, I'd say that majority of people posting to this thread, for one reason or another, are opposed to affirmative action. I agree that a pretty good case can be made that it's not a very good solution to the problem of historical lack of opportunity for some groups of people.

However, despite all its warts, I think affirmative action is pretty far down the list of significant social issues that needs to be remedied. Let's admit, for the sake of argument, that affirmative action results in some qualified people from majority populations losing economic opportunities they wouldn't have lost in a perfect world, and some unqualified people undeservedly getting economic advantages they would not have gotten in a perfect world.

So what? How much past injustice have these groups suffered? Okay, so a few white males have been passed over in favor of less-qualifed minorites. Looking at the current economic opportunities available to a European-American male in San Francisco, compared to the economic opportunities available to, say an African-American female, it's hard for me to generate much sympathy for the white dude. And I am a white dude.

If you want to argue that affirmative action doesn't help minorities, okay, that's a legitimate argument, and I think it's possible to take a principled stance on either side of that fence. But whining about poor, oppressed white people  suffering at the hands of state-sponsored discimination just doesn't resonate with me.

Date: 2006/04/21 09:31:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, Thordaddy, despite the fact that I've answered this question at least half a dozen times, I'll answer it once more in case you missed it (pardon me while I fail to show astonishment), and never again:
Quote (thordaddy @ April 21 2006,14:18)
Are the "gay" advocates really claiming that ALL ADULT UNIONS are equal to each other and the ONE MAN/ONE WOMAN has no inherent value above and beyond the infinite number of other potential adult unions.

Yep. That's what we're claiming.

Now, for the question I guarantee you'll never answer, because you don't have a clue how to answer it, other than to say, "well, it's obvious, isn't it!":

Why does the one man/one woman union have inherent value above and beyond all other potential adult unions?

Until you've answered this question, I request you stop posting to this thread, because until you do answer it, you've got nothing further to argue.

And I don't want to hear "because a one man/one woman union is the foundation of all society," because a) we've all heard you say that about a million times before, and b) it assumes what you're trying to prove.

Date: 2006/04/21 10:05:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ April 21 2006,14:38)

I don't think that's really the complaint here. What I'm reading is a kind of chain-reaction where affirmative action will serve to insert gays into society pervasively enough to make them hard to avoid, while simultaneously encouraging them to spread disease more effectively, thus exposing us normal people unnecessarily.

Agreed, that's not the specific issue here. I was making a more general comment about A.A. in general.

And it's always interesting how problems like proverty, lack of immunization programs for children, etc. get short shrift, but AIDS looms as a civilization killer in the minds of many. Let's face it: if you're straight, the chances of contracting AIDS are slightly higher than the chances of being struck by a meteor.

Date: 2006/04/21 10:23:52, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I just did a little research on the  Centers for Disease Control's website, and I came across some statistics for deaths per 100,000 in the U.S. from various causes for 2003 (the most recent year available). Of the 17 listed causes, HIV/AIDS comes in dead last, at 4.7/100,000, behind homicide (6.0), chronic liver disease (9.3), and influenza (22.0). And, in response to Bill's fears of a new plague, that number is less than half the figure for 1990 (10.2). Sure doesn't look like any kind of epidemic to me. Generally, with an epidemic, you'd expect to see the numbers increasing, but in fact they've been declining every single year.

The good Rev has yet to describe a mechanism by which a social institution that promotes sexual monogamy will actually result in increased sexual promiscuity, other than the rather slippery hypothesis that "mainstreaming" gays will somehow make them more promiscuous as a group than they already are. But let's face it: in order to make HIV/AIDS any kind of a healthcare crisis, even on the level of, e.g. diabetes, all those party-boys would really have to get busy.

Date: 2006/04/21 10:51:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
You know, Thordaddy, I can only imagine how appallingly badly you did on your reading comprehension tests in school.

Exhibit A:

Quote (thordaddy @ April 21 2006,15:22)
Flint and Eric,

If one man/one woman has "no inherent value" then certainly one man/one man has no inherent value either and yet both of you are debating vigoriously for its sanctioning.  Why?

Where did anyone say there's "no inherent value" to a one man/one woman union? No one has ever said that. If you'd slow down and actually read the entire sentence, you'd be able to contribute meaningfully to this discussion.

What people are actually saying is that a one man/one woman union has no inherent value over and above all other types of union. How many times are we going to have to admonish you to read what's actually written, and not just a fragement of what's actually written?

And why are you against ADULT CONSENTING UNIONS outside of one man/one man or one woman/one woman?  Bigotry, intolerance, discrimination?

Thordaddy, are you having a bad day today, or what? Where have I ever said that I'm against any kind of union between or among consenting adults? Whatever kind of crazed misreading of anyone's posts here led you to the conclusion that anyone is opposed to heterosexual marriage?

Neither of you seem to take your stance to its logical conclusion which is to dismantle traditional marriage and its underlying foundation for civilized society.

I'm not going to let you get away with this, Thordaddy. I've asked you half a dozen times to justify your claim that one man/one woman unions are the foundation for civilized society, and so far I've come up empty-handed. You seem to think that this claim is so self-evident that it needs no justification. You couldn't be more wrong.

You're also wrong that allowing gay marrige would "dismantle traditional marriage," and haven't given any argument why you think this is the case. Do you believe that if gay people started getting married, straight people would stop getting married? As I said a few pages ago, this is about the stupidest argument against gay marriage it's possible to make.

You both are rendering ANY and ALL UNIONS meaningless by destroying the standard-bearer, namely, one man/one woman.  Neither you have any positive argument for "gay" marriage other than you think it's only "fair."

One more time, you've failed to explain how letting gay people marry will stop straight people from marrying, or indeed how gay marriage would have any effect whatsoever on straight marriage, let alone "destroy" it.

And what do you mean we haven't given any positive argument in favor of gay marriage? Oh, wait—I forgot; you don't really read other people's posts. So you didn't see that several people have argued that allowing gay marriage is likely to reduce promiscuity in the gay population, thereby reducing the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Or maybe you don't think that's a positive argument?

I asked you stop posting to this thread until you could answer the question I posed: why do you think that a one man/one woman union is inherently of greater value than any other sort of union. Since you have so far failed to answer that question, my request stands.

P.S. Before anyone upbraids me for wasting my time responding to Thordaddy's rants, let me reiterate that my responses are not for Thordaddy's benefit.

Date: 2006/04/21 11:59:04, Link
Author: ericmurphy

I'm not going to spend too much time on the subject of affirmative action because it's not a subject near and dear to my heart. But heavens, I think I might have caught you (presumably unwittingly) making an ugly racist remark:

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ April 21 2006,16:25)
Now imagine in ten years time after this policy has been ongoing, your child is ill. Something life threatening. You have a choice of 2 doctors. 1 black 1 white. You would go for the white 1 every single time if that is all you know about them. After all, you know the white guy has to be far more qualified to achieve the same position.

(which is not to be construed to mean that I think you personally are an ugly racist. You may just not have thought through the implications of what you're saying).

I definitely do not know that just because a black doctor was hired in an affirmative action regime, he must necessarily be less qualified than a white doctor. There's nothing in affirmative action that would deny employment to a minority who is qualified for the job. I think in an ideal world, here's the way A.A. would work: two candidates for a position, both equally qualified (equally, not one better than the other). One's European-American, one's African-American. Because 70% of the people in this occupation are European-American, the job goes to the African-American.

Yes, I'm aware that A.A. does not, and probably never could, work exactly this way.

But here's another scenario. Ten years from now, Thordaddy's child has a serious illness. He has a choice of two doctors, one black, one white. Because Thordaddy believes that white people are more intelligent than black people because they score better on standardized tests, Thordaddy chooses the white doctor. Unfortunately for Thordaddy's child, the black doctor is the Nobel candidate in medicine, and the white doctor has been previously censured for malpractice.

It's a books/covers kind of thing, I think.

Date: 2006/04/21 15:42:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 21 2006,17:52)
Again, you are stating that traditional marriage is equal to "gay" marriage.  But you are also stating that "gay" marriage is equal to adult incestual "marriage."  You are also stating that "gay" marriage is equal to a grandmother marrying her adult granddaughterblahblahblahblahblahblah—

Thordaddy, we've been over and over this ground again and again while you come up with more and more outlandish examples. "What if a transgendered biological male now living as a female lesbian wanted to marry her Winnebago…"

—oh, never mind. This is long past tedious.

Date: 2006/04/21 15:54:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ April 21 2006,17:20)
No Eric my remark was not racist. Under the A.A. scheme the white guy would have to be more qualified to atain the same position. Now it might be the case where the black Dr. was more qualified, but that would be unusual.

Well, I never claimed that A.A. was perfect—or even close. But I frankly just can't get that excited about it one way or another. It just doesn't strike me as a monstrous injustice compared to the many, many other monstrous injustices out there. Okay, so there are a few African American doctors out there who aren't quite as qualified as the European-American doctors whose jobs they stole. Compared to the vast numbers of underprivileged black people out there who are denied opportunities based largely on their accent and their skin color, I just can't work up any crocodile tears.

At least the intent of A.A. is noble (and yes, I know what road to where is paved with those). There are other windmills to tilt at, as far as I'm concerned.

Date: 2006/04/21 17:39:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 21 2006,22:27)

You're a staunch evolutionist and you can't tell me why one man/ one woman has any inherent value? 1 etc. 2 etc. 3 etc.

Given that I've already answered this question on at least four separate occasions, Thordaddy, and you have yet to answer my question—namely, what is it about one man/one woman unions that makes them special—well, you know what to do. Go ahead and do it, man. And yes, I am going to force you to go back and re-read this thread to find my answer. It will be good practice for you.

Date: 2006/04/21 18:16:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Oops, I missed this the first time:

Quote (thordaddy @ April 21 2006,22:27)

You're a staunch evolutionist and you can't tell me why one man/ one woman has any inherent value?

Didn't I just get finished telling you that no one is denying that a heterosexual union has inherent value? No one. If we were conducting this discussion in person I'd have an overwhelming urge to rap the side of your skull to see if there's any grey matter in there, or if it's solid bone all the way to the center.

Date: 2006/04/22 05:26:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 22 2006,09:16)
Let me try to clarify some of my cultural arguments. Why do I think that changing the definition of marriage will lead to such disastrous consequences?

Here's the flaw in your reasoning, Bill.

Will gay marriage change straight marriages? No. Nothing will change about the definition of straight marriages. Straight people will not be discouraged from marrying (nor will they be encouraged to marry).

It's probably a bad idea to get gay people into straight marriages. What are the usual results of closeted gay people in straight marriages? Depression, suicide, emotional stress, broken homes, divorce.

So is it better to have gay people in casual, informal, short-lived, non-monogamous relationships, or is it better to have them in stable, long-lived, monogamous relationships? Kind of an automatic self-answering question, don't you think? As Flint has pointed out more than once, allowing gay people to marry makes almost no difference in the definition of marriage, nor does it as a practical matter change what marriage means to most people (Thordaddy's increasingly surreal rants about greasy slopes notwithstanding).

Allowing gay people to marry is an extremely minor "fiddling" with the definition of a marriage, and a fiddling that happens to have at least the potential to solve some problems for society in the meantime. In the context of your scale-free networks, the net effect of gay marriages is merely to increase the number of nodes. It certainly wouldn't decrease them, and certainly doesn't operate to "radically change them."

Date: 2006/04/22 11:48:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 22 2006,15:46)
Well, strictly speaking, people bearing children out of wedlock doesn't directly affect my marriage either, but the consequence of their actions - the creation of violent, mentally disturbed children - hurts society, which finally boomerangs on me in the form of increased taxes, higher crime rates, etc.

Good point. Problem is, it helps my case and hurts yours (and yes, I'm aware that you're only using it as an analogy; you just happened to have picked one that works well for my argument). Allowing gay people to marry definitely will not increase the number of children living in single-parent homes, and it probably will decrease the number.

This is because each action taken against a central hub ripples throughout society as it damages node connections, etc. This is why the Law of Unintended Consequences looms over every policy decision: what are the downstream effects of my actions? If you limit a policy move to a secondary hub, or better yet, construct a new one, the changes will be minor or even beneficial.

Again, your point hurts your argument and helps mine. Allowing gay marriage isn't "damaging" any pre-existing nodes, because it doesn't affect straight marriage at all. In fact, it may repair previously damaged modes, if closeted gay people in straight marriages get out of a damaged marriage and into a working (gay) marriage. And, it's doing what you think is "better yet": it's adding hubs to your network.

Tamper with the central hub, however, and the results are almost always disastrous. There are just too many interrelationships. Now, technology may build a hub by increasing the complexity of social interactions; but revisiting failed strategies invariably shuts the system down.

This would be a compelling argument if we were talking about dismantling marriages. Thordaddy's hysterical claims aside, that's not what's happening here. In fact, we're adding nodes to the network that would otherwise just be broken connections leading nowhere—or, at least nowhere good (if we grant your argument, which I'm not necessarily willing to do, that all gay men are by nature dangerously promiscuous).

Please remember that this is a widespread phenomenon that applies to many biological/social systems that evolve through the joint processes of networking and historical accretion. Also note that the model applies to the spread of epidemics, especially those caused by individuals with a very active sexual history. In other words, a sexually right-skewed distribution like we see in the gay community.

Right. But as I've said, we're not substantially changing the nature of our network. What we're really doing is adding additional nodes, and in at least in some cases are replacing defective nodes with more robust ones. If you analogize single, promiscuous gay men to, say, open relays through which e-mail borne viruses can spread, then gay marriages would analogize to mail servers with relaying turned off.

Central hubs are sensitive to very small perturbations. And if you choose unwisely........

But again, we're not changing hubs. All the hubs that were there before our experiment are still there, functioning exactly as they always have. All we're doing is adding additional hubs with slightly different functionality.

Date: 2006/04/22 13:26:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 22 2006,17:34)

Are you going to answer which model you prefer?

It seems to me that you have 3 choices (If you see other choices then please elaborate).

Thodaddy, you're like write-only memory. I can tell you what my opinion is, but since you can't read it (or refuse to read it), the whole exercise becomes rather pointless.

I just told you I'd already answered this question, on several occasions. Everyone else on this thread seems to know how I feel about it, except for you. Now go back like a good little homophobe and read what I've said on this topic, and then you can come back and answer my question: what makes you think that heterosexual unions are so special, so unique, compared to any other kind of union, that they're deserving of state sanction to the exclusion of any other form of union?

At least Mr. Bill can read, for crying out loud.

Date: 2006/04/22 13:37:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 22 2006,16:52)
But we're changing the nature of marriage.

No we're not. Marriages will still be exactly the same as they've always been. As Flint has mentioned several times, of all the thousands of regulations involving marriage, you wouldn't have to change any of them to accommodate gay marriage. Straight marriages won't change one whit; either the ones that pre-existed gay marriages or the new ones that come into being after gay marriages do.

All we're doing is expanding the franchise. This has happened many times throughout history, whether we're talking who is allowed to vote, who's allowed to own property, or who is allowed to have human rights. Through all those changes, civilization has failed to collapse. Or at least, when it has collapsed, it's collapsed for entirely different reasons.

Date: 2006/04/22 13:57:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ April 22 2006,18:42)
Question for Eric Murphy, Steven Elliot, and Occam's Aftershave. When Thor and GoP say these ridiculous things about STD rates and Scale Free Networks and what have you, does it cause you to think they're being dishonest? Do any of you three believe that Thor and GoP are motivated by a careful study of health statistics or graph theory?

Here's what I think about the good Rev. I believe that Bill has an emotional distaste for gay people that he may not even be aware he has, or may not be willing to admit to himself that he has it. I think he's trying very hard to come up with a rational justification for his bias, but it's becoming clear to me that he's currently casting about for a persuasive argument to support a conclusion he's already made.

But. I'm not persuaded that Bill is necessarily being dishonest with us. I think it's just as likely that he's being dishonest with himself. But what do I know; I can't psychoanalyze people from their posts online. And I kind of like Bill (online, at least; not having ever met him in person), so my opinion might be shaded by that.

Thordaddy, on the other hand, doesn't even try to hide his homophobia. I don't think I've ever seen anyone online so icked out by anal sex. Or if he is trying, he's botching it so horribly that I can't even see evidence of his efforts.

Date: 2006/04/22 15:57:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Russell @ April 22 2006,20:32)
Ghosty - I don't know about him. His spelling seems to indicate a British (or Australian or something) origin - not American - so if he does reside here in the USofA, he's probably dismissed by those with a brain as a crank, and by those who might be open to his message as a "dam# furriner".

Well, he lives outside Atlanta, and I think the diction might be an affectation, given his chosen moniker. Seems like a Southern gent, but that might be an affectation, too.

God, Bill, I hope you don't mind that we're talking about you behind your back. :-)

Date: 2006/04/23 12:41:05, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 23 2006,15<!--emo&:0)
I see. So you consider gay marriage to be analogous to a gene duplication rather than a mutation.

Yeah, I guess that would be a reasonable analogy. But seriously, Bill: what do you think allowing gay marriage would change? I'm assuming you can do better than Thordaddy's plaintive "But the foundations of society will crumble!" Something a little more specific. Based on your previous responses, I'm assuming you think gay marriage will legitimize homosexual relationships (which it probably will) and thereby increase the spread of communicable diseases (which it won't; in fact, the only reasonable expectation is that it will decrease it).

Once again, civil rights can only be enjoyed if the public assumes the responsibilities that come with those rights. Liberty does not exist in a vacuum. You can't toss Western culture overboard and still keep the goodies that flow from it. Western rights have no meaning outside of Western society.

This is the part I really don't get. Why would you suppose that gay people would take marriage less seriously than straight people, especially after having fought long and hard for the privilege? And besides, I think it would take some concerted effort for gay people to take marriage less seriously than straight people do anyway!

How does allowing gay marriage amount to jettisoning Western society? If Western society crumbles as a result of something as inconsequential as allowing gay people to marry each other, Western society is a lot more fragile than I ever imagined it was.

Date: 2006/04/24 05:54:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 24 2006,09:39)
1) Eric, I haven't had time to study your CDC research, but has the CDC accounted for the fact that some of the declines in the HIV rate from 1990 -  2003 are probably due to a high die-off rate in that community? Seems like a plausible factor.

Yes. The figures from 1990 to 2003 include deaths due to AIDS, and deaths due to AIDS  don't even make it into the top 10 causes of death in any community other than African-American males, where it just squeaks in. Most of the high mortality rates from AIDS were in the early-to-mid 80s, when the nature of the disease was not well understood (well, even more poorly understood than it is now), and when gay men had not had time to adjust their behavior to accommodate a different situation.

But the fact remains, Bill, that HIV infection rates and AIDS deaths have been declining for more than ten years, and in an epidemic, infection rates and deaths never decline. Otherwise, you don't have an epidemic. And remember, as of 2002 (the most recent year for which the WHO publishes the figures) total AIDS cases in the U.S., including HIV infections and deaths, from the time the disease was first characterized in 1981, is 806,157, or about two years' worth of death from smoking. Given that AIDS deaths are currently running around 7,500 a year, you can see that deaths have been steadily declining for some years.

Date: 2006/04/24 09:42:04, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 24 2006,11:16)
Thanks for the clarification. I'll look into this. Just one thing, however: even though the absolute number of deaths is small, these deaths are occuring in a relatively small community. So this underestimates the negative impact of the disease. But let me study this a bit before saying anything else...

Well, sure, the raw numbers radically underestimate the impact of AIDS on the gay community, espcially in the early-to-mid eighties. But how does this help the argument that gays should not be allowed to marry each other? If anything, the prevalence of AIDS in the gay male community, a community notorious for sexual promiscuity, strengthens the argument for gay marriage, in the same way the prevalence of syphilis in the 19th century amongst heterosexuals would have strengthened the argument for straight marriage at the time.

For example, in the 1970s, sexually transmitted diseases became a more serious problem due at least partially to a climate of more open sexuality. Would the solution at that time have been to restrict heterosexual access to marriage, perhaps by preventing non-virgins from marrying?

Date: 2006/04/24 10:02:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 24 2006,11:48)
One more thing: I know a lot of you are skeptical about my model. But let's review the reasons why a model is necessary in the first place:

1) Fact: When progressives try to tinker with the social fabric (single parenthood, free love, etc.), very bad consequences often ensue. etc. etc. etc.

I'm going to make a somewhat inflammatory analogy here, so I'm going to preface this by saying I'm not accusing Bill of racism or homophobia, appearances notwithstanding. Anyway, here goes:

Bill, as a principled conservative (in the classic sense of the term), could have used the exact same arguments to oppose abolition in, say, 1859. If Bill had been born 80 years later, say, in 1823, he could be making the same arguments about freeing the slaves, not because he was a racist, but because he thought it was a bad idea to a) tinker with the social fabric, leading to b) unanticipated consequences, especially with institutions like slavery, which obviously are massively resistance to change (witness the Civil War), and which are deeply embedded within the society that seeks to eliminate them, etc. I'm sure many opponents of abolition who were personally entirely free of the taint of racism used substantially the same arguments as Bill is using today to oppose gay marriage. Similar arguments were no doubt made in favor of anti-miscegenation laws, in favor of keeping women out of the universities, and in favor of almost any exclusionary practice you'd care to name.

This is a standard conservative objection to any social change, however small. Bill's right; often such changes do result in unintended consequences. But, in the fullness of time, extending the franchise of almost any "right," whether fundamental or not, usually confers a net benefit on the society that extends it.

And considering how minor extending the franchise of marriage to gay people (and let's not forget, Bill: your STD objection fails completely for lesbians), it's hard to imagine what those unintended consequences would be. Wouuld straight people stop marrying? Doubtful. Would they take marriage less seriously? Unlikely even to be possible. Would the government go bankrupt by forgoing the tax revenues from married gays? Certainly not to the extent it's already going bankrupt between the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars.

In my opinion, it's simply not justifiable to deny a civil right to a class of people based merely on the supposition that granting that right could conceivably result in unanticipated social consequences, without even a plausible analysis of what those consequences could be.

Date: 2006/04/24 10:24:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ April 24 2006,14:54)

I also despair of ever getting the point across that rewarding the undesired behavior and penalizing the desired behavior does NOT achieve the target goals, but in fact works directly against them. George Orwell would have felt right at home. I'm coming to the conclusion that thordaddy is taking the high road of honesty here, and Ghost is trying to *trick* himself into thinking he's outsmarted his own training.

Yes, this is the part I find most mystifying. Obviously, no one can guarantee that allowing gay people to marry each other will lead to reduced infection rates of STDs, but it's difficult to imagine how it could possibly increase those rates. So far, to my knowledge, this is the only concrete prediction Bill has made as to the consequences of legalizing gay marriage. And his argument seems to have it exactly backwards. Nevertheless, I don't see much movement away from this argument on the Reverend's part.


However, I think the time is rapidly approaching when yet another group will be granted equal rights.

It does appear that way. But I do find it interesting that the major GOP (the political party, not the nom de 'net) talking points for the 2006 election appear to be gay marriage, abortion, and immigration. All three of these points involve restricting rights of some, ostensibly to preserve the rights of others. I'm hoping that the moderate core of the country gets this.

Date: 2006/04/24 13:26:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 24 2006,18<!--emo&:0), to allow businessmen more economic freedom, and all neighborhoods the freedom of association. And remember, a wise man once said that restoring freedom isn't a zero sum game.
and so on will erode away.

.....that are eroding away. You did read my post, didn't you?

But Bill, you still haven't connected any of these eventualities to the legalization of gay marriage. Unless, that is, you're claiming that if we give gay people rights that they do not now enjoy (specifically the right to marry), they'll want to demand additional rights they do not now enjoy. Even if that were the case, it doesn't really support your argument. If you want to argue that gay people are not entitled to additional rights, you can argue that. But you can't say "this class of person is not entitled to right A, which they would otherwise be entitled to, specifically because giving them right A will encourage them to demand right B as well."

Well, okay, you can say that, but it's not going to carry much weight as an argument.

You still have not come up with a plausible "consequence" of legalizing gay marriage that would make me wonder whether it is a good idea or not.

And just by way of comparison, which do you think is more likely to infringe on your rights: allowing gay people to marry, or keeping the USA PATRIOT Act on the books?

Date: 2006/04/24 15:46:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Ahh, yes, the liberal shell game in action:

Liberal: I demand that you outline your position, in fifteen words or less!
Conservative: Well, if A, then B, if B, then C. Therefore...

L: What? Where's the detail? What do you mean by A? By B? By C?
C: According to Webster's...etc. etc. etc.

Yes, but the truth of the matter, Bill, is you could switch the "C"s and the "L"s, and "liberals" and the "conservatives," and you'd still have a realistic dialog. :-) All you have to do is watch a little Fox News, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

Alternatively, you could replace the "L" with "IDist," and "C" with "evo." I've seen it happen a million times…

Date: 2006/04/24 17:48:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
At risk of pulling this thread even further off topic than it already is, but before anyone spends three evenings rebutting the good rev's "equal outcomes" argument, I want to point out that "equal outcomes" is not, and never has been, a liberal goal. Equal opportunity is the actual goal; increasingly equal outcomes, to the extent that ever happens, would be at best an indicator of how equal those opportunities are becoming.

Here's an example: let's take the Fortune 500. There are 500 CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies. African Americans make up approximately 12% of the population (the actual figure isn't that important). If African Americans had the same opportunity as European-Americans, we would expect to see about 60 African American CEOs in the Fortune 500. If we saw, say, 20, or alternatively, 100 African American CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, we could reasonably assume that there is no systemic racial bias in American society that is preventing African Americans from succeeding in the business world.

But what if we see two, or zero, African American CEOs in the Fortune 500? What inferences could we draw from that? We could infer that there is, in fact, systemic racial bias in American society that serves as a barrier to the advancement of African Americans in the business world. (Or, alternatively, we could assume if we wanted to that African Americans lack the innate ability to compete in the business world, but we'd hard-pressed to come up with data to support that contention; on the other hand, there's plenty of evidence of racial bias in American culture.)

At that point, noting the dearth of successful African Americans in the business world, we could try to come up with a solution. Affirmative Action was one attempt to solve the problem. But there are those who simply refuse to admit that there is a problem. Which, of course, means it will never be solved.

But the whole "equal outcomes" position is a straw man; a canard. Given a large enough data set, you might end up with an average of equal outcomes, but it's not really something you can ever actually hope to achieve. Approaching more equal (or equivalently less unequal) outcomes is a signal that you're approaching your aim of eliminating racial bias in society.

Date: 2006/04/25 09:42:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 25 2006,14:29)
OK, so let's look at some crimes with a racial bias:

So, what, Bill, does any of this have to do with gay marriage?

If your point is that there's a liberal bias to the mainstream media, I suppose if I thought it were germane to the matter at hand, I could present you with a book's worth (and several million dollars in special prosecutors investigations' worth) of examples of conservative bias in the media. For that matter, I could show you an entire cable news network's worth of examples.

But what did you say your objections to gay marriage were?

Date: 2006/04/25 12:06:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 25 2006,15:54)
You have fallen for their argument because you self-admittingly practice tolerance and non-discrimination towards this self-proclaimed victim group.

Thordaddy, what planet are you from?

Date: 2006/04/25 13:45:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
And if it's a thread the reverend is posting to, it usually comes down to some sort of rant about how liberal ideas like tolerance for people who are not white, Christian, and English-speaking are causing the whole nation to circle the drain.

Frankly, I think there are more serious issues currently threatening the future of America and the rest of the planet.

Date: 2006/04/25 14:40:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (MidnightVoice @ April 25 2006,10:50)
Or are the objectors secretly turned on by gay women??  Or are they men repressing their own homosexual instincts???

I saw this t-shirt once that said, "I'm only in favor of gay marriage if the chicks are hot."

I wonder what Bill would make of that.

Probable more evidence evidence, if any were needed, of the moral corruption of multiculturalism.

Date: 2006/04/25 16:06:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ April 25 2006,20:55)
Still no model.

Still no connection to gay marriage, either. Maybe we should rename this thread to, "Will a perceived liberal bias in the media refute evolution?"

Date: 2006/04/25 17:00:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ April 25 2006,21:16)
Who's 'Bill'?

The Reverend William Paley, obviously. Or, his immortal soul, at any rate, damned to wander the earth for all time, for god knows what reason, but I have a few suspicions...

Date: 2006/04/25 18:35:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ April 25 2006,22:24)

Ah, so that's who that weird guy was who kept bugging me last Christmas eve, showing me all this icky stuff from my past and getting on my case about having being 'selfish' all my life!

I thought maybe you meant the Alcoholics Anonymous 'Bill'.

Shade o' Paley showed up at your place last Christmas? He was supposed to be working on his geocentric cosmological model, dammit!

Date: 2006/04/25 21:52:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 26 2006,02:28)

Anyone reading your rants would have a hard time comprehending how you could be on the side of "good and decency" unless we now define such things in terms of profanity and juvenile language.

Only what you deserve, Thordaddy.

The rest of us ain't sayin' it, but rest assured, we're thinkin' it.

Date: 2006/04/26 05:37:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 26 2006,02:53)

For someone who preaches non-discrimination like Occam, his practice is all we need to witness to see how hypocritical he is.  

One is either tolerant and non-discriminatory in all situations or he/she is not.

Occam is just as bigoted and hateful as anyone and he has the posts to prove it.  The only difference being his bigotry is directed towards the benefit of a very small, but radically-powerful minority.

A big question in liberal circles, Thordaddy, has been how tolerant need one be of intolerance. The general consensus these days is, not very. Therefore, you shouldn't be surprised at the vitriol directed at you. After all, you're kinda asking for it.

Date: 2006/04/26 06:39:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 26 2006,11:19)
Russell, I'll have to deal with your pathetic rebuttal later, but just two questions….

Bill, I'm wondering where you're going with this. If you're trying to demonstrate a systemic liberal bias to the media, you've already lost that argument. While it's easy to find whatever kind of bias you're looking for in some media outlets or other, at this stage of the game it's pretty hard to deny that the loudest, most pervasive media outlets have a pronounced rightward tilt, and while the so-called liberal media may have a leftward tilt, right-leaning voices are hardly shut out. Compare the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal editorial pages or the Weekly Standard.

Flint makes a good point. Sure, you have stories you'd like to see reported more in the news. But I have plenty of stories I'd like to see more of in the news as well. Let's compare the coverage of the multiple scandals in this White House with coverage of the so-called scandals in the previous White House, the two biggest of which were both broken by the New York Times, and then see if you still think there's a pervasive liberal slant in the media.

We liberals have been hearing this conservative cant for the past 40 years, and it's getting less true every year.

Date: 2006/04/26 09:05:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 26 2006,13:29)
Flint and Eric:

Please stop lying about my views. It's bad enough I have to take Russell over my knee and give him the spanking his Daddy never did, but I expect more from the two of you.

Which view of yours have I lied about?

Date: 2006/04/26 12:32:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
God, Thordaddy, your complete, utter inability to parse standard written English never ceases to astonish me.

Quote (thordaddy @ April 26 2006,16:48)
Under what intolerant and discriminatory basis have you limited the definition of marriage to one person and one person?

If you want to marry your pet goat and your favorite preserved cucumber from last year's harvest, I honestly don't have any objections to that. So where, exactly, did you get this idea that I have any intolerant and discriminatory ideas about what constitutes a "marriage"?

Date: 2006/04/26 12:45:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 26 2006,15:24)
Don't have time to find the quotes right now, but both of you keep implying (and sometimes saying) that I want a White, Christian America, that I seek to deprive Muslims of their religious freedom, etc. Not true, and I explained the reasons above. Gotta run....

Well, I'm not sure I've ever stated that you want a White, Christian America, but I've probably implied that it seems like that's what you want. But I think we're talking about a distinction without a difference.

If I understand properly what your position is (and please clarify if I don't), it sounds like you're fine with Americans of whatever race, ethnicity, religion, or philosophical background, so long as they are willing to assmiliate with the dominant (i.e., White, Christian) culture. Is that a fair assessment of your position?

I personally wonder how much diversity any culture can tolerate while still laying claim to being  a "culture." But whether or not America has reached that point is an issue so far below my personal radar that I have difficulty understanding why this is such a big deal to you. Are you concerned that you may not be able to be understood when attempting to order breakfast at the local Denny's? Well, I have that concern, too. But it's not exactly the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night, and considering how many of the threads you post to seem to head in the direction of that particular strange attractor, I can't help wondering what your real motivations are.

But given that gay Americans are among the most thoroughly assimilated subcultures in contemporary America (in many ways, they define culture in contemporary America), this particular thread seems an odd place to be voicing such concerns.

Date: 2006/04/26 15:32:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 26 2006,19:0)
Yes! Finally! Although I think it's a mistake to call the culture White, since N. East Asians and Indians have also played a large role in creating Western Civilisation. But that's just nitpicking: this definition works for me. So let's keep it in mind, eh?  <!--emo&;)

Okay, keeping that in mind, do you think it would be wise to move this discussion to a new thread so as not to further dilute the discussion about  the rights of certain Americans that are currently the subject of some controversy? I don't think Wesley will charge us extra for an additional thread…

Date: 2006/04/26 19:10:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 26 2006,22:43)
Is this ericmurphy's new radical definition for marriage...

Marriage: (n) Any and all consensual adult union unlimited in number and requiring no standard, but given full sanction by the state?

That's your "progressive" idea?

Go ahead... give it a shot, eric!  Give us the new "progressive" definition for "marriage?"

Actually, dude, you're the one who seems to want to marry your brothers. Am I right in assuming that sex will be involved? Or are you just marrying for the tax benefits? In which case you might want to see an estate planning attorney, which would save you the trouble of single-handedly ending Western Civilization.

In the meantime, can you please come up with something original? Maybe it could involve silicon-based space aliens marrying incestuously-homosexual vampires?

PS Occam knows how bigoted and racist the lilly "liberals" in SF are... That's why the blacks are being expelled from the Bay area like NO WHERE ELSE, right?

Dude, if you'd actually read the article you linked to, you'd realize that the cost of living is going through the roof out here (I should know; I have to pay these rents). If you think that somehow the economy itself is "racist," well, all I can say is you're not raising my estimate of your intelligence.

In short, I don't think I've ever seen anyone more vapid online. And believe me, the competition is stiff.

Date: 2006/04/26 20:10:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 27 2006,00:27)
As for SF and its rising rents, why aren't all the lilly-white "liberals" not leaving in droves?

Um, could it be…because they're not as poor as most African American people? Do you think that could have something to do with it? Are African Americans less affluent than European Americans because the people of the San Francisco Bay Area are racist?

I tell ya, Thordaddy—you ain't getting any smarter.

Date: 2006/04/26 20:59:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 27 2006,01:32)

Once again you failed to produce any hateful quotes or your new definition for marriage.  I'll wait patiently.

Long wait for a train don't come, Thordaddy.

If you think you're entitled to engage me in any sort of intelligent debate, you've long since disqualified yourself from that contest.

Date: 2006/04/27 05:48:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 27 2006,02<!--emo&:0)
You probably say the same haughty thing to those blacks being expelled from SF?

"If you think your entitled... don't let the door hit you in your black butt."  Racist pig!

I didn't think you would provide a "progressive" definition for marriage because the "progressive" goal is to render marriage meaningless.  This is the goal of gay "marriage" and your obfuscation is just the evidence I've been looking for.

Has it ever occurred to you, Thordaddy, that I might not need to give you a definition of marriage because I don't give a crap who marries whom? Or is that just too radical a position for your pea-brain to process?

Also, I'd like you to explain how likely it is that the "goal" of gay marriage is to render marriage "meaningless." Seems a little strange that a group of people would fight long and hard for a right just so they could obliterate that right. Is that the best you can come up with for an "argument"?

And as for "obfuscation": as I pointed out to you about four pages ago, I'd already answered your stupid question at least four times (this would be the fifth time), but you hadn't the wit to realize that. Somehow I'm not surprised that someone of your brilliance would see that as "obfuscation." I should also take this opportunity to point out that you have still failed to answer the question, one that you'd think would be on the tip of your tongue, what exactly is it about the one man/one woman union that you think is so extra-super-special that it deserves special consideration to the exclusion of all other unions. I'm sure it hasn't escaped anyone else's notice that you simply cannot come up with the answer to that question.

And if somehow it's "racist" to not be able to solve socio-economic inequalities single-handedly, then I'd have to say every single person on this planet is a "racist pig," to use your nomenclature.

Talk about rendering a term meaningless.

And here I was, just trying to make the rent every month. Who knew that made me a racist?

On the other hand, your claim that tests prove African Americans are less intelligent that European Americans strikes me as a more classically racist position.

Is it any wonder I don't bother debating this cretin?

Date: 2006/04/27 06:08:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 27 2006,09:30)

1) Jews have been harshly discriminated against for millenia: True or False?
2) Jews, taken as a group, have been extraordinarily productive and civilised relative to Gentiles: True or False?
3) If you answer "True" for both of the above: How is this possible under the liberal "discrimination" model?

I have a better one:

1) Gays have been harshly discriminated against for millenia: True or False?
2) Gays, taken as a group, have been extraordinarily productive and civilised relative to straights: True or False?
3) If you answer "True" (or even if you answer "False") for both of the above: How is it possible to justify denying gays the right to marry under the conservative "discrimination" model?

Date: 2006/04/27 08:43:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
This is a hypothesis of what, exactly? That explains what, exactly? Does it, for example, explain the hierarchy problem in particle physics? Does it explain the number of dimensions, or the values of any physical constants, or the differences in mass of the various families of subatomic particles? Does it explain the chronological stratification of taxa in sediments? Does it proffer an alternative explanation for radiological data supporting currently-accepted figures for the age of the earth? Does it explain common descent with modification? Does it have anything to say about which came first, the enzyme or the DNA that codes for it?

Regardless of "evidence," I don't see where or how AFDave's "hypothesis" "explains" anything at all. It just seems like a random string of statements that are evidently assumed to be true, but I don't get what explanatory power they're supposed to have.

I guess if Dave's hypothesis shows anything, it's that you don't need to understand the scientific method to become an engineer, or to fly supersonic jets. I guess I'm not supposed to criticise Dave's hypothesis before I see the evidence to support it, if his hypothesis has no explanatory power to begin with, then what's the point of even looking at the supporting evidence?

And, just out of curiosity: where did Cain's and Abel's wives come from?

Date: 2006/04/27 09:20:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 27 2006,13:56)
I plan on answering your questions in this thread. Would you mind answering my questions in the new thread? I'm interested in your response.

Are you talking about the thread Russell started? I didn't see any questions from you there. Was there a particular question you wanted me to answer?

Date: 2006/04/27 10:21:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stephenWells @ April 27 2006,15:16)
Thordaddy's opinions are not important.

They are pretty comical, though. :-)

Date: 2006/04/27 11:09:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 27 2006,15:30)
Does this mean you don't have a definition for marriage or that your definition renders such term meaningless?

And if you "don't give a crap who marries whom" then why are you so vociferous in the fight for gays to get state-sanctioned marriages?

Thordaddy, the problem with your posts is their own utter illogic. Nothing you say really makes sense. This is why a) it's so pointless to argue with you, but b) why it's entertaining to respond to your goofiness.

Why do I advocate strongly for gay marriage when I don't think marriage is all that important? Could it be because the gay people who want to get married do think it's important? Why is my opinion about the importance of marriage of such critical concern either to you or to people who want to get married? Whether I think marriage is an important social institution is unimportant, because that's not what's at issue here. What is at issue here is whether the danger of homosexual marrige (and let's not forget that neither you nor anyone else has been able to demonstrate that homosexual marriage presents any danger of any sort to anyone) outweighs the social benefits of greater tolerance and equality. You've completely lost the argument on that point, which is really the only point there is here.

Eric, you're own answer should help highlight exactly what I've been saying throughout this thread.  You see nothing special about one man/one woman so much so that ANY ADULT UNION is equally credible.  Even one man/ one sheep seems to get your blessing and one would be hard pressed to figure out what arguments you would have against such a union and its ability to get state-sanctioned.  But I digress, you've already said time and again that any Adult union deserves state- sanction and do seem to see how ridiculously untenable that is.

Actually, Thordaddy, you've got it exactly backwards (imagine my surprise). As half the people who have posted to this thread have observed, you've presented no evidence or reasoning why the one man/one woman variety of union is so special, so unique, that no other form of union should be allowed.

My position, again (I guess it's fruitless to hope that you'll actually go back and read my posts on the thread), is that I'm not in favor of preferential treatment of any particular kind of union, but if you think heterosexual unions are deserving of such preferences, I frankly cannot understand why you're opposed to homosexual unions' receiving the same preferences (unless you're nakedly homophobic, as you have admitted to being). How arguing that gay people should have the same rights and responsibilities as straight people becomes an argument in favor of marriages to sheep, or space aliens, or more than one person is something I've never understood.

As to my personal beliefs: if all the members of my high school graduating class want to join together in some sort of 400-strong uber-marriage, I have absolutely no problem with that, provided I'm not coerced into joining the love-in. Why this sets you off into fits of apoplexy is a matter better dealt with between you and your therapist, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/04/27 11:36:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Flint @ April 27 2006,16:26)
OK, in that case you will have to argue with me as well, because I DO have at least a potential problem there.

No, not really. I'm not saying that marriages among 400 people should have state sanction (in fact, I'm on record as saying I'm not really in favor of any particular union getting preferential treatment). I'm merely saying that if such marriages did have state sanction, I wouldn't be up in arms about it. Which is an entirely different thing. That's why I said that's my personal opinion.

Obviously, allowing such arrangements would be unwieldy in the context of something resembling a "marriage." Fortunately, such an arrangement is unnecessary, because other legal entities such as corporations, limited partnerships, homeowners' associations, etc. serve the same purpose.

My point is that Thordaddy is trying to get me to admit that his wilder fantasies, e.g., his marrying all his brothers, are an argument against allowing gay marriages. Of course, they're nothing of the sort, and they merely point up the absurdity of Thordaddy's argument, which no matter how he tries to dress it up, always boils down to the same slippery-slope argument he's been advancing, and watching it get shot down, over and over again.

Date: 2006/04/27 12:13:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
One other point. Thordaddy is on record as being opposed to any sort of civil union outside of the one man, one woman paradigm. But then he turns around and claims that those of us who are willing to expand that definition to include same-sex couples, but think it would be a bad idea to expand the franchise further, to e.g. sheep, multiple partners, etc., must be mouth-breathing, knuckle dragging bigots. Am I the only one who finds that argument just a little irrational?

This is the same sort of incomprehensible rant that makes me out to be a racist bigot because I live in a city where the net loss of African American residents is higher than in other cities. Presumably Thordaddy thinks I live in San Francisco because I don't like African Americans, even though African Americans make up a larger portion of the population here than they do in most areas of the country. I guess if I'd really been smart, I would have moved to Wyoming.

Date: 2006/04/27 17:14:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ April 26 2006,10:58)
OK, fine, Faid, put the chimps at the top of the heap ... or the mosquitos for all I care ...

The logic works anyway ...

Dave, there is no top of the heap.

This is one of the many places where Creationists just go completely off the rails.

Date: 2006/04/27 17:30:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 27 2006,20:37)
But then why did the New York Times deign to cover the Cronulla riots? They obviously didn't give a toss about the systematic Muslim intimidation etc. etc. etc.

Okay, Bill, you've loaded up this thread with a lot of cool quotes. But what do they prove? Obviously they can't prove the media doesn't report any stories of minority-on-majority violence, or you'd have no evidence to speak of. Presumably you think the media doesn't report enough min-on-maj violence, but I'm not sure how you'd go about proving your point. Do you have a Lexis-Nexis account? Because if not, you're not going to convince anyone of the amount of reporting on the issue just by doing Google Searches, because Google searches by their very nature aren't an accurate presentation of how many stories are actually out there.

But even if you could prove that the media underreport min-on-maj violence, where would that get you? That the media is biased in one direction or another? That's hardly news. Is there some greater point you'd like to make here? That there's more minority-instigated violence than people think there is? What should people do with that knowledge? Be more afraid of minorities than they already are?

I'm not sure you've put your finger on a massive social problem here, Bill.

Date: 2006/04/28 05:28:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Faid @ April 28 2006,06:10)
Eric, care to follow me in my "chimps for public office" campaign?

I don't know; the last chimp we elected didn't work out so well…

Date: 2006/04/28 05:39:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Without getting into detail, this looks to me like AFDave looked around at a few natural phenomena, and then came up with some facet of his "hypothesis" that would supposedly "predict" that phenomenon.

Looks pretty ad hoc to me.

The one about time dilation seems particularly strained to me. I think Einstein did a better job of explaining it than AFDave does. Again, how does AFDave's hypothesis "explain" time dilation?

Date: 2006/04/28 05:47:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Faid @ April 28 2006,06:41)
If you want to demonstrate a bias in the media, showing any number of supposedly neglected incidents is not enough- shouldn't you compare incidents of equal severity? Shouldn't you, for example, prove that a white kid hitting a black one with a newspaper would get more publicity than a black kid doing the same to a white one?

Here's something else to think about, Bill. Of the news stories over the last 15 years involving the abduction of photogenic young women (Polly Klass, Chandra Levi), how many were about non-white women? Can you think of any? Some of these stories were headline news for months.

Are non-white women abducted, raped, and murdered so frequently that the stories about it aren't newsworthy? If that's so, what does that say about the relative levels of violence against Caucasians as compared to non-Caucasians?

Date: 2006/04/28 07:18:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Here's another "retrodiction" that I don't think stands up to scrutiny:
Quote (afdave @ April 28 2006,09:43)

(d) We would expect that IF there were such a thing as a Supernatural Being like  my "God" persona, we would expect there to be many claims that people have received Written Messages from Him.  Can we test this prediction?  Again, yes.  There are many ... the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran to name a few.

Sorry, Dave. I don't follow this. Why would "we" expect that the existence of God that people would result in people claiming to having received "Written Messages"? As Mr. Aftershave pointed out, this neither confirms nor excludes your hypothesis. It's entirely plausible that people would claim to have received Words From On High whether God exists or not.

Also, how well does your hypothesis survive this test: if the various religious texts are indeed the Word of God, wouldn't we expect them to largely agree with each other? Many of them don't seem even to be internally consistent. I think the existence of many, mutually contradictory religious texts better supports the notion that there are many creator beings than the notion that there is one creator being.

And besides, you might make such a prediction, but I certainly would not. Given the size of the cosmos, and by comparison the utter insignificance of a) the Milky Way, b) the solar system, c) the earth, and d) any particular human being, I would be greatly surprised if some sort of Supreme Being favored some random human with its thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. I'd be surprised if such a Supreme Being even noticed the existence of humans, or cared one way or another whether they existed.

If I were creating a hypothesis about how the universe came to exist, the last thing I would predict would be personal greeting cards from its creator to individual humans.

Date: 2006/04/28 07:24:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ April 28 2006,11:43)
Eric Murphy--  My hypothesis does not purport to EXPLAIN Time Dilation ... others more competent than I have done that.  If you'll notice, it only PREDICTS THE EXISTENCE of such a phenomenon.

Thanks for the comments!

No, it doesn't predict it either. Isaac Newton absolutely believed in a Supreme Being, and he predicted that as a consequence, time would be absolute, unchanging, and the same anywhere.

When two different people reach two different conclusions starting with the same premise, it's pretty clear that the premise does not "predict" the conclusion.

Date: 2006/04/28 07:28:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ April 28 2006,12:12)
You're right ... Clinton was a disaster ...

I said the "last chimp," not the second-to-last chimp.

Given the relative state of the union in both administrations, I'm flabberghasted that you'd confuse the two.

Date: 2006/04/28 07:47:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 28 2006,12:32)
Just three questions and I'll leave this side issue alone:
1) Jews have been harshly discriminated against for millenia: True or False?
2) Jews, taken as a group, have been extraordinarily productive and civilised relative to Gentiles: True or False?
3) If you answer "True" for both of the above: How is this possible under the liberal "discrimination" model?

Hey Eric, why haven't you answered these questions yet?

I thought I already had.

As I pointed out, gay people have also suffered discrimination, and have also made major contributions to civilization.

Are you trying to argue that peoples suffering from discrimination shouldn't be able to make contributions to society? Because that's clearly not true anyway, and a straw man argument. I don't think even you would argue that African Americans have never suffered discrimination, and yet they have managed to make substantial contributions to civilization nevertheless.

Maybe you're not making your point clearly here, because I'm having a hard time figuring out what your argument is.

Date: 2006/04/28 09:47:56, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 28 2006,14:42)
Because the media lied about the percentage of white serial killers, and this, combined with the usual coverups, led to inefficient police work.

Paley's tune.

And this is important why? Does the police department look to the media to tell them which sorts of crimes should be solved, and which shouldn't?

Date: 2006/04/28 11:34:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy is laboring under the paranoid delusion that saying two men who want to marry each other should have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a man and a woman marrying each other is equivalent to saying that two rocks should be able to get married and have same the rights and responsibilities as a man and a woman marrying each other.

This is the same stupid slippery slope argument that's been used forever to oppose gay marriage, and it's just as irredeemably feeble-minded now as it was when I first criticized it on the first page of this thread.

Do you think you'll ever be able to come up with a new argument, Thordaddy? Because you've persuaded exactly no one by repeating this dud over and over again.

Date: 2006/04/28 11:42:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 28 2006,15:24)
Look, DC is a majority-black district. Given that blacks are overrepresented among serial killers, not underrepresented as the media would have it, the police were irrational to assume a white killer. Gotta run.

Wait a minute. The article says 15% of serial killers are black. But D.C. is majority (i.e., > 50%) black, how does that make blacks over-represented among serial killers?

Date: 2006/04/28 11:54:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,15:53)
This makes those "liberals" that claim a conservative media bias look even more ridiculous.

Let's see: which newspaper broke Whitewater?

(The New York Times)

Which newspaper reporter was Ken Starr leaking to?

(Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post)

Chalabi was leaking information to which journalist?

(Judith Miller of the New York Times)

Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, George Will, William Safire (all columnists for the New York Times or the Washington Post) are liberal or conservative?

How many liberal columnists, cumulatively, are there for National Review, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page?


How many times has Ann Coulter been on Hardball with Christ Matthews?

(eight times)

How many times has Michael Moore been on Hardball with Chris Matthews?

(zero times)

Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage are the number one, two, and three most popular radio talk show hosts. How many of these gentlemen can be described as "liberal"?

Still think there's a liberal bias in the media, Thordaddy?

Date: 2006/04/28 12:08:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,16:54)

Our society, by your "liberal" arguments, will either have to elevate any and all adults unions to equal status or recognize (sanction) NONE of them.  Or,  we will redefine marriage so as to inlcude "homosexual" couples and the rest of those loving unions will have to be denied their human rights and simple justice based on your irrational intolerance and discrimination.

Q: Should we allow people to turn right on red lights?

A: No.

Q: Why ever not?

B: Because you can't redefine SOME laws without redefining ALL laws. You can't argue that people should be able to turn right on red without allowing them to turn left on red, or go straight on red, or back up on red, or drive up onto the sidewalk on red.

If you're going to say that you can turn right on red, how do you justify discriminating against ANY OTHER KIND OF TURN ON RED?  To do so would be bigoted and racist. In fact, if you allow people to turn right on red, how do you justify making ANYTHING illegal? Since making people stop at red lights is part of the foundation of civilization, if you allow people to turn right on red, you have to assume that all laws are equally meaningless.

This is the kind of illogical absurdity that results when everything comes down to some sort of stupid all or nothing duality. Thordaddy has been guilty of this sort of logical fallacy over and over again, and he never learns. No matter how often I point it out to him, it goes right over his head. It's like trying to teach quantum physics to a dog.

Date: 2006/04/28 12:11:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,16:57)

Now that you've mentioned it...

What would be your argument againt a rock marrying a rock if they really loved each other?

Well, let's see: if they're able to enter into a binding contract under the law, and can pass the blood test…I can't see any reason why not.

That should give you all the clues you need, dude.

Date: 2006/04/28 12:54:51, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,17:30)

What is this about red lights?

I'm willing to bet that you're the only one on this thread who doesn't understand what the business with the red lights is, Thordaddy.

You're arguments, similar to Occam's and Wells', is that gay "marriage" is a matter of tolerance, equal rights and non-discrimination.

That's IT!

Does it need to be something else? I would have thought that would be more than sufficient. Is there some requirement that I need to have multiple reasons for favoring gay marriage? I'd think one good reason would be plenty.

The only reason I'm aware of for your opposition to gay marriage is that, for reasons you've never explained, you think it will cause the collapse of society. But even if you had more reasons than I do, does that make you right?

What is your argument against ANY and ALL Adult unions getting state sanction (tax incentives) that wouldn't VIOLATE your righteousness above?


How many times do I have to repeat that I don't need any such argument. You're the one who needs an argument here, not me.

Either way, gay "marriage" presents the final assault against traditional marriage.  It's a free-for-all and you readily admit such.

I've admitted no such thing, and I've said time and again that your slippery slope argument is utterly meritless. It's your bad, wrong idea that allowing gay marriage must necessarily allow any sort of marriage whatsoever. It's the same thing as saying if you change one law, you have to change all laws. Is the thing about the red lights coming any clearer now?

Our society can't provide tax incentives for ANY and ALL adult unions seeking state sanction so it must necessarily get out of the business of marriage all together or continue to discriminate against some of its citizens.

First, no one is saying it should provide tax incentives for any and all (oops, I meant to say) ANY and ALL adult unions, so there's absolutely no reason why it would have to get out of the business of marriage altogether (even if I think it should get out of the marriage business altogether). If you think forbidding marriages between humans and sheep, or between two rocks, or between a man and his TV remote is somehow discriminatory, all I can say is you're a raving, drooling lunatic. You've never been able to substantiate your claim that expanding the marriage franchise to include gay people necessarily demands it be expanded to include any conceivable union between or among any conceivable assemblage of objects, animate or not. As Flint has pointed out to you over and over ad nauseum, virtually nothing in the law would change by allowing gays to marry.

God you're repetitive, and it's no more persuasive the 20th or 30th time than it was the first time.

Your argument sways either towards abandoning traditional marriage altogether (saying that society sees no inherent value in traditional marriage) or merely extending the discriminatory privilege of marriage to ONLY gay couples.  

What garbage. So either no one gets married or only gay couples get married? What crazed misreading of anyone's posts gives you that idea?

How about this? Any two adults who can give consent, can enter into a contract, and can pass the blood test get to marry. Is there some reason why such an arragement either makes marriage meaningless or allows two rocks to get married?

Do you drool on the keyboard while you type, Thordaddy?

Date: 2006/04/28 13:00:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,17<!--emo&:0)

No... I think that 70+% of those self-identified "liberal" journalists are really objective just like all you "scientists."  LOL!

What about all those self-described conservative opinion columnists? Are they "objective" too? Because I guarantee you that Bill O'Reilly has more influence over public opinion than any 200 AP stringers, no matter how "liberal" they claim to be.

The evidence of conservative bias in the media is mountainous, and it doesn't matter how many journalists describe themselves as "liberal."

Are News Corporation, General Electric, or Disney "liberal" corporations? Because they're huge media players, and control at least 70% of the news Americans get.

Date: 2006/04/28 13:38:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,18:21)

You will readily admit to having no idea what potential negative consequences gay "marriage" may have on society?

What kind of stupidity is this? I know, as much as I know the sun will rise tomorrow, that gay marriage poses no negative consequences for society.

You're the one who has no idea what potential negative consequences gay marriage has. You've been asked time and again, by virtually everyone else posting to this thread, to tell us what you think those negative consequences are, and so far you've come up with nothing. Other than to say, "Well, civilization will collapse!" You have as much evidence for that as I would have for saying "If gays can't marry, civilization will collapse!"

You think because you are fighting for "tolerance, equal rights and non-discrimination" then your fight is righteous?

Um, yeah. That's what I think. i take it you disagree.

But your fight is hollow because without some kind of standard how exactly do you fight for "tolerance, equal rights and non-discrimination?"

You mean my "standard" that everyone should have the same rights and responsibilities regardless of sexual orientation isn't a "standard"? What's your "standard," Thordaddy? That everyone was created equal, so long as they're not gay?

What is marriage BY YOUR STANDARD?  What does it mean?  How are we to recognize it in society?  What makes a marriage a marriage in your eyes?

If you'd read my very last post on this thread, you'd know the answer to this question.

You can't DEFINE marriage because the very act of defining is discriminatory and so you play this game and act like you can't see the illogic of your position.

You say this, despite the fact that I just gave you a perfectly adequate definition of marriage.

You still seem to be of the opinion that if I think some things (like, for example, two infants, or maybe a raccoon and a squirrel) can't get married, I must be some sort of hateful bigot. But somehow you're not a bigot for thinking gay people shouldn't have the same rights and responsibilities as straight people. This reminds me of your claim that you could tell the difference between your daugher now and your daughter at birth, but you couldn't tell the difference between your daughter now and at the instant she was conceived.

No wonder everyone here thinks you're an idiot.

By defining marriage in such a way as to only include gay "couples" you are guilty of the very same things you accuse those who define marriage by the standard one man/ one woman.  Or, you must include it all.  Can society sanction ANY and ALL adult unions?  Should it?

No matter how many times I tell you this is the dumbest idea you've ever come up with, you persist in coming up with it. The endless repetition is getting on my nerves. So, from now on, I will simply refuse to respond to any more claims that allowing gay marriage must necessarily allow marriage between or among any conceivable entities. I simply cannot impress upon you how vacuous such a claim is.

Date: 2006/04/28 13:49:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,18:34)

Didn't you make the claim that if the vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs were white then that is evidence of racism?

Why doesn't the same thing apply to the media?


Just because someone claims to be liberal does not mean he or she is biased. Do you think that someone can be conservative and unbiased? Or should only people who have absolutely no opinion on cultural or political issues be allowed to be journalists?

Date: 2006/04/28 13:53:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,18:45)

Why just 2?  What does "pass a blood test" mean?

What did I just say about arguments like this, Thordaddy? Are you deef?

And in the meantime, would anyone care to explain what I mean by "passing the blood test" in the context of marriage?

Date: 2006/04/28 14:02:23, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,18:58)
I have shown that by relying on the argument of "equal rights" and "tolerance" for gay "marriage" that you are effectively destroying traditional marriage as a societal institution.

You've "shown" this? Are you high? You've stated it. Over and over again, you've stated it. You haven't "shown" it, by any stretch of the imagination.

Get over yourself, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/04/28 16:35:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Henry J @ April 28 2006,21:25)
Re "Any two adults who can give consent, can enter into a contract, and can pass the blood test get to marry."

Would a blood test apply to a gay marriage?


No, but since straight people have to get one and would probably whine if gay people didn't, I thought it would be a small price to pay to have gay people get them, too.

It wouldn't be the first irrational rule to be passed by the legislature.

Date: 2006/04/28 17:46:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,22:17)

Why is your criteria (2 people, blood test) ANY LESS discriminatory than the criteria of 2 people, blood test and opposing genders?

Thordaddy, what did I tell you about raising this same stupid argument with me again? We've been through this about a million times already.

By the way, it occurred to me that I can make a stronger argument for forcing you to get married than you can for preventing gay people from getting married.

Date: 2006/04/29 12:30:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
For those keeping score at home, I thought I'd come up with a list of Thordaddy's assertions for which he has yet to come up with proof, any evidence, or even a decent argument. He has merely stated these things as fact, as if they're so self-evident they don't even need an argument:

• Traditional, heterosexual marriage is the foundation of society.

• Any change to heterosexual marriage will eventually cause the collapse of society.

• Traditional heterosexual marriage is unique among all forms of human interactions, to such an extent that no other forms of union between human beings, no matter how similar to heterosexual marriage, should be recognized by the state.

• Allowing gay people to marry will undermine the very foundations of traditional heterosexual marriage, to the extent that civilization will collapse.

• If you argue that gay people should be allowed to marry, it is impossible for you to argue against any form of union whatsoever, including marriages among three or more people, between humans and animals, or between humans and inanimate objects.

• Restricting marriage to two adult humans who are competent to give consent and can be bound by a legal contract is more discriminatory than restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

• Wanting to restrict marriage to one man and one woman is not bigoted.

• Allowing gay marriage but not allowing, e.g., marriage to your five brothers, marriage to your pet goat, marriage to your toothbrush is bigoted.

Most of these assertions are well into the realm of the absurd. But in any event, Thordaddy has never even troubled himself to provide any evidence to support any of them, nor has he even tried to construct a logical argument for any of them. He has merely stated them as proven assertions, and then claims to have "shown" them to be true.

Has he persuaded anyone yet?

Date: 2006/04/29 13:12:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, you've decided to take the YEC position—that the earth is some thousands of years old—which is the hardest position imaginable to defend. For scientists, refuting YEC isn't like shooting fish in a barrel, it's like shooting a barrel full of nothing but fish.

But since you've decided to take this position, let me give you a homework assignment. As UnMark just pointed out, there is a mountain—no, a mountain range—no, a whole tectonic plate full of mountains—of evidence that the earth is billions of years old. This evidence is radiometric, geological, cosmological, quantum physical, paleontological…I could go on for hours.

So: if you want people on this site (some of whom have advanced degrees in applicable fields) to buy your argument that the Bible is inerrant and that the earth is some thousands of years old, you're going to have to construct a detailed, comprehensive, compelling argument that essentially all of that evidence is wrong. You'd probably have to prove that 90% or more of it is wrong, since the remaining 10% would probably be enough to close the case that the earth is billions of years old. And keep in mind that reference to scripture is going to get you exactly nowhere. If you can't find holes in the reasoning and/or methodology of the scientific evidence, you're doomed. I wouldn't bother with sites like AiG either, since the "science" there is laughable.

I'm afraid this particular assignment could take decades to complete, because most of the relevant fields are extremely complex and technical, and not something you could master in a semester, let alone a day or two. You might want to start with the astronomical data, because that's probably the easiest to master, but once you get tangled in the weeds of biology, paleontology, chemistry, and quantum physics, you probably won't be emerging for some time.

But think about what you're up against. You've got multiple lines of evidence from dozens of different scientific disciplines, and all that evidence converges on one value, within much less than an order of magnitude. You'd have to defeat virtually all of it to have a prayer of persuading most of the people posting to this site. I don't expect you to do it less than one lifetime, so it's a good thing you're still relatively young. I hope you're also relatively healthy.

And in case it doesn't go without saying: if you can't get over this hurdle, there's no point in even discussing any other "evidence" you might have, since without some way to make the earth a few thousand years old, the rest of your arguments are non-starters.

Date: 2006/04/29 13:15:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
So—did he convince anyone?

Date: 2006/04/29 13:44:57, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Bill, even if your thesis—that the press tends to over-report majority-on-minority violence and under-report minority-on-majority violence…well, what would your point be? I've asked this question before, and evidently you've answered with more evidence to support your premise.

But until you explain exactly why I should be concerned should your premise turn out to be true, I'm not sure I care. The press is guilty of far more serious transgressions, and pretty much everyone, on both the left and right of the political spectrum, acknowledges that the press in the United States is a bad joke.

I still don't really know what you're trying to prove here.

Date: 2006/04/29 15:33:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ April 29 2006,10:27)
My BIG IDEA is that the USA is the most successful nation ever in the history of the planet precisely BECAUSE it was founded squarely upon a literal interpretation of by far the best, most accurate (scientifically and historically) and valuable collection of writings ever written--the Christian Scriptures.

Read a little history, Dave. Egypt's civilization lasted for thousands of years; the U.S. has been in existence for barely two hundred years. Evidence of Egypt's greatness is still visible thousands of years after it ended; there might be nothing left two thousand years from now that showed the U.S. ever existed.

And what about China? Four thousand years of civilization? And you think the U.S. is successful…

Date: 2006/04/29 18:53:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ April 29 2006,21:50)
I actually believe what I have written (yes, I know ... ladies are fainting and men are shaking their heads), but I would be glad to believe what you believe if I could be convinced of it by sound arguments ...

Dave, the reason you can't be "convinced" by "sound arguments" (aside from your own unwillingness to give up your beliefs) is because you haven't the training to understand the arguments in the first place.

You can't just come in and expect to understand, e.g., the paleontological arguments supporting an earth of billions of years old without understanding anything about paleontology or comparative anatomy. Nor can you understand the radiometric evidence without understanding nuclear physics.

You say you're trained as an engineer. Do you suppose that equips you to understand evidence from the field of genetics? I submit that it does not. You have several choices here: you can accept the sound judgment of people who actually do have the expertise to evaluate the evidence; you can spend years if not decades developing the expertise yourself; or you can simply ignore the evidence because it's just too hard to understand, and go on believing whatever you want to believe.

But don't claim you find arguments unpersuasive when you cannot understand the arguments in the first place. That would be like me claiming I don't believe the evidence supporting position/momentum complementarity without learning anything about quantum physics.

Life is complicated. Science is complicated and difficult to understand. This has nothing to do with the "arrogance" or "condescension" of the scientific community. These guys have devoted their lives to figuring out how the world works. You haven't devoted your life to it; what makes you think you're entitled to dismiss their efforts?

Date: 2006/04/30 05:49:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Faid @ April 30 2006,05:53)
So, I might break my promise and discuss with you directly, if you manage to explain, with reasonable arguments, why "distinct differences between male and female" need to be "incentivized for the betterment of our society as a whole". And, of course, why legalizing gay marriage would lead to the collapse of society.

However, seeing how you've failed to do that with every other position you took in this forum, I think I need to get a seat.

As I pointed out, Thordaddy has managed to support none of his contentions. Oh, he thinks he has. But he's wrong.

The two biggies, of course, are his contention that heterosexual marriage is somehow the foundation of civilization; and that allowing gay people to marry will somehow cause civilization to collapse. The rest of his contentions are merely silly, but without demonstrating the truth of these two, his whole position on gay marriage dries up and blows away.

By the way, Thordaddy, pointing out that heterosexual marriage has existed "for hundreds of years" does nothing to advance your argument. Slavery has existed for thousands of years; that doesn't make it the foundation of civilization.

Date: 2006/04/30 12:45:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Bill, so far you have demonstrated—at best—a bias in the media that could be ascribed to liberal motives, in a very restricted area of news coverage. Looking at the sum total of news coverage—local, national, and international—it's virtually impossible to demonstrate a consistent liberal bias, especially in political coverage.

Nevertheless, let's say I grant your thesis in its narrowest form: that there is a "liberal" bias to coverage of violent crime involving minorities (for the sake of this argument, "liberal" is defined as an emphasis on reporting majority-on-minority crime rather than vice versa). But you've still failed to answer a question I've posed three times now: why should I care? Should I think minority cultures in this country are inferior to the majority culture? Should I think they're more dangerous? Should I think minorities should not be allowed into the country? What should I think? I already think the media in this country is a miserable, pathetic joke, so I hope your point is deeper than that.

Your premise is lacking a conclusion, Bill.

Date: 2006/04/30 13:18:10, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 30 2006,16:58)
By the way, has anyone ever established a philosophical basis for the contention that marriage is a fundamental right? Because if it isn't, then it seems that the burden of evidence shifts to the gay marriage advocate.

No, but they don't need to, and I don't see how failing to define marriage as a fundamental right shifts the burden of proof anywhere. Driving a car isn't a fundamental right either, but we don't deny the right to drive a car based on race, sex, or sexual orientation, do we?

Given the general belief that equal rights are, absent compelling reasons otherwise, an ideal to be aspired to, the burden of proof resides right where it always has. Opponents of gay marriage have to demonstrate some compelling reason why it's a bad idea, and so far they haven't come up with arguments much better than Thordaddy's rants.

So let's see: gay marriage will not make heterosexual marriage meaningless; it won't cause society to collapse; it won't hasten the spread of STDs. So what, exactly, are the reasons it should be banned, again? Because gay sex is icky?

Date: 2006/04/30 13:25:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ April 30 2006,17:23)
Oh yes, one more thing: once we establish the right to marriage-with-equal benefits, I'm afraid that we'll end up with, say, adoption-with-unequal benefits. Since straights will soon be demonised as "homophobes" who can only "hurt" a child's development

Bill, you've got to be joking. Are you really afraid that if gay couples can get married, straight people won't be able to adopt?? Or will somehow be discriminated against in adoptions?

Sorry, Bill. That's about the silliest concern about gay marriage I've ever heard from you.

The second silliest idea is that if gay people can get married, all straight people will be considered "homophobes." That seems about as bloody likely.

What is it about conservatives? As soon as some marginalized group gets some new right or privilege, conservatives are all afraid they're going to lose their rights.

Date: 2006/04/30 14:06:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Still no answer to my question, Bill? I'm beginning to think you're ducking me…

Date: 2006/04/30 19:13:20, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, Dave. Can you explain to me why the earth is only a few thousand years old, when every scrap of evidence available makes it quite clear that it is in fact billions of years old?

Doesn't take any logic to do that. All it takes is a demonstration that all that evidence is wrong.

Take your time, Dave. Your refutation of radiometric dating alone should take you a few decades to develop. And remember; some of the people who post here are experts in that particular field, so I don't think you'll be slipping anything by them.

Date: 2006/04/30 21:08:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,00<!--emo&:0)
Dave, how do you explain away the mountains of radiometric datings that prove the earth is some 4.5 billion years old?

This is really easy ... your assumptions are wrong (long answer later in the proper sequence)

By the way, Dave—this is the first question to be answered in sequence, because unless you can answer it, the entire rest of your argument—all of it—dies.

Date: 2006/05/01 05:40:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,09<!--emo&:0)
I agree completely ... I plan on going to great lengths to show exactly that.  My Ice Age info will show that it was not a million (did I get that about right from ToE?) year Ice Age, but that it was relatively short, occurred right after the Great Flood, and helps to explain dinosaur extinction.

Dave, where did you get the idea that there was just one long ice age? The history of the earth is peppered with ice ages, including one, about 600 million years ago, where the entire surface of the earth froze solid.

You're going to need to come up with more than one ice age in your chronology, and that's just one of your easier assignments.

Date: 2006/05/01 05:44:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,10:23)
Again, I am saying that I am not using Deductive Reasoning ... I am using Abductive Reasoning and drawing an Inference to the Best Explanation.

In other words, you're not using science.

How far do you think you're going to get with the people on this website, many of whom are professional scientists?

Date: 2006/05/01 06:08:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, your "abductive reasoning" is a science-killer.

A quick example:

A volcano is a "strange, weird thing."

But if God exists, volcanoes would exist as a matter of course.

Using that kind of reasoning, how far do you think we would have gotten using our belief in God to explain natural phenomena? What would we know about volcanism?

BTW, when you say things like, "I see a lot of error in scientists' work, which I mean to correct for the honest folk on this discussion board," you do realize you obliterate any credibility you might have had, right?

Date: 2006/05/01 07:31:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 01 2006,08:58)
Ok, let's turn the question around: suppose you uncovered evidence that the media was suppressing hate crimes against gays, blacks, or other minorities. Would you be concerned? Why or why not?

Well, yeah, I would, Bill. But here's the reason: historically, oppressed minorities in this country have suffered terribly at the hands of the majority. The converse, i.e., majorities suffering terribly at the hands of minorities, has generally not happened. Have whites been systematically been abused by blacks? Have straights been systematically abused by gays?

That's why we call them "oppressed minorities," Bill. Do you, a white Christian male, feel like an oppressed minority? If so, why is that?

If, somehow, the tables were turned, and white people were being enslaved by black people on a regular basis, or straight people were being beaten and killed because of their sexuality by gay people, maybe your indignation would make some sort of sense to me. But that's not happening, so it doesn't make any sense to me.

Date: 2006/05/01 07:50:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,12<!--emo&:0)
Now we laymen are reasonable people and we will forgive scientists if they admit their errors and fix them, but if all we ever get is stonewalling and "you're not even fit to make an argument" and "you're just a religious nut", you can be sure that the people will do everything in their power to rise up and fix it themselves.

Dave, this is exactly the kind of arrogant crap that gets you into trouble with scientists. You think you're being magnanimous by being willing to forgive scientists their errors if they admit them and fix them? You think you're qualified to even find errors in scientists' work? Who do you think you are?

Some guy goes through 12 years of public school, four years of undergraduate training, another six years of postgraduate studies, a few more years of fellowships, spends the next twenty years of his life doing research into invertebrate physiology, and then you think you're entitled to read a few articles on AiG and then tell him he's wrong? What kind of a blockhead are you?

I'd say no offense, but given the offensiveness of your position, I'd be lying if I said so.

If you think the last 150 years of evolutionary biology is wrong, then I suggest you go out there, get your postgraduate degree in the relevant fields, and then go out and do some research. If you think you're remotely qualified to critique these guys' work, you're delusional.

Oh, and by the way: how are you doing with your detailed, comprehensive rebuttal of all the evidence demonstrating that the earth is billions of years old? You might want to stop criticizing scientists' research and start doing some research of your own.

Date: 2006/05/01 09:36:41, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,14:13)
I just have to laugh ... "only a few  ... mmm ... like Dawkins, for example ... he's not very influential... not many others ..." OK.  Whatever.

More misdirection, Dave. Dawkins has often said that he personally does not believe in God, and points out that there is no solid evidence that God exists. He has never claimed that science can, or has, proved that God does not exist.

These claims may work with your not-well-informed layman friends, but they will not work with people who actually read about science.

As for me, I'm going to get back on topic ...

Dave, you're avoiding "the topic" like the plague. The "topic" is, what evidence does Dave have for his claim that the Bible is inerrant and is the best available explanation for experience. So far, you're batting zero on that topic.

We (at least I and Norm and a few others) are debating the validity of my structure for debating Origins, the Nature of Life and related topics, collectively referred to as my Creator God Hypothesis.

I have given you my preferred approach ... are there any more substantive objections?

I'm pretty sure the objections you've already heard have not only demolished your hypothesis; they've demolished your method for even arriving at a hypothesis. Your proposed method takes you way outside the bounds of science. You're not talking science; you're talking theology. I don't think I can get any clearer than that.

Date: 2006/05/01 09:52:26, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 01 2006,02:50)
Once again we see the "liberals" failing to address the critical point.

ericmurphy thinks he has a solid argument because "conservatives" can't predict the future before it happens.  He wants to know the effects before the cause.

No, I think I have a solid argument because you're trying to deny a right to a minority based on exactly nothing. You've never presented any remotely plausible reasons why gay people should be denied the right to marriage, and no amount of bleating about sheep or whining about brotherly circle-jerks will change that.

The question is how the argument for gay "marriage," which renders gender meaningless, DOES NOT render all criteria for marriage meaningless?

Oh, a new argument you've pulled out of your butt. You couldn't demonstrate how gay marriage renders marriage meaningless, so now you're claiming it renders gender meaningless. So allowing two guys to marry makes me unsure about whether I'm a guy or not? It might have that effect on you, but it certainly doesn't have that effect on me.

Let's say that the right to gay "marriage" becomes law.

What will the gay advocates SAY when 3 gay brothers petition the State for marriage recognition?

We say, sure, fine. Go find a few thousand other groups of brothers who want to get married, and we'll revisit the issue. Until then, you can get lost. And I'm sure now Thordaddy will inform us, for about the hundredth time, that makes us more bigoted than he is, when he wants to restrict marriage more than we do. I simply cannot convey to you, Thordaddy, how utterly moronic such a position is.

By rendering gender meaningless, marriage is meaningless because any other criteria for marriage MUST be arbitrary and discriminatory.

This is the argument that ericmurphy, Occam and crew wish to avoid at all costs.

No, Thordaddy, it's not the argument we've been avoiding at all costs. We've demolished this argument over and over again, from every possible perspective, but you're too clueless to notice. This idiotic idea you have that removing one criteria for something removes all criteria for something isn't a mistake a reasonably bright two year old would make.

You know, Thordaddy, you've been going on about this obsession of yours for a month now, and you haven't said anything new or persuasive yet. It's been the same old arguments, the same old moaning, for 25 pages now. You really do need to find something else to get obsessive about. Maybe you should think about maybe some heterosexual marriage. Does the mother of your child have any thoughts on the subject?

Date: 2006/05/01 10:26:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 01 2006,15:12), I'd suffer de facto inferiority. For example:

1) There's a (small) danger that I would be pushed to the back of the adoption list
2) The media will not cover crimes committed against me, or at the very least will try to downplay them etc. etc. etc.

How are any of these discriminatory practices different from what actual minorities have had to put up with, are putting up with, will continue to put up with?

Which isn't to say discrimination is okay. But frankly, Bill, I have to say I find it amusing to find a member of the top 1% of the heap (a group I also find myself a member of) complaining about how he's so put upon, and how life is so unfair. The victimization act is pretty unseemly when you're better off than 99% of the people on the planet.

I think my advice to you could be summed up like this: get over yourself, dude.

Date: 2006/05/01 11:09:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,15:47)
[Guess what!  You won't find a SHRED of evidence for either one and you will display to all who come here that it is the Evolution Dogmatists who are doing Voodoo Science!  That's the difference between my Hypothesis and the two of yours.  

Yours have no evidence.  Mine does.

No, Dave, you don't. You haven't presented anything remotely resembling "evidence" for any of your claims. To say that something "could have happened this way," or "probably happened this way," simply doesn't amount to evidence.

Face it, Dave. "Hardened skeptics" are the people you have to reach. All practicing scientists are "hardened skeptics," and they won't be persuaded by half-assed guesses unsupported by any reference to actual evidence.

Now—where's your evidence that the earth is only 6,000 years old?

Date: 2006/05/01 11:53:59, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,10:11)

Here's my logic ...
1) We hypothesize a Super-Intelligent Creator ... we can only imagine Him somewhat like a human mind because that is what we are familiar with, but much more intelligent ... this is my "B"
2) We observe a Surprising Fact that all over the world, people claim to have received messages--written and oral from some 'god' character ... this is my "A"
3) LOGIC:  If B were true, then A would follow naturally based on our own experience with Intelligent Agents (i.e. they communicate verbally and in writing)
4)  CONCLUSION:  There is reason to suspect that B is true...

Now how is this "junk" logic?

Simple. It's assuming what you're trying to prove.

You guess there's an all-powerful being who, by definition can do anything.

You see something. It doesn't even have to be surprising; it can be anything at all. But if it is surprising, it makes your "logic" more fun.

Therefore, because you've seen something, there must be an all-powerful being.

It's basically "junk logic," Dave.

And "suspecting something is true" is a meaningless concept. Given the number of half-eaten cookies scattered all over America every December 25th, I have "reason" to suspect that Santa Claus exists.

These kinds of "arguments" are weak to the point of non-existence. They might work great at your Sunday afternoon church meeting, but they're going to get blown away in no time in front of a sophisticated audience, which is what you have here.

Date: 2006/05/01 11:58:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,10:48)

I understand that you have the opposite suspicion, and I believe that you also could try to make Inferences to the Best Explanation for YOUR suspicion.  And this is where I think my evidence ... "cosmic fine tuning, the anthropic principle, etc." as I will elaborate on soon lead to a Super-Intelligent 'god-like' character as a better explanation than other alternatives.

Before you waste our time with your "cosmic fine tuning," and "anthropic principle" rant, you should probably know that many if not most of the people here are familar with "The Privilged Planet," and are unimpressed.

If that's where you're going, save yourself the trouble. We've been there, read that, laughed.

Date: 2006/05/01 12:17:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I'm trying to think how proving either position would work, even in principle. I'm thinking it would have to work this way:

Bill presents a figure for the total number of news reports of minority-on-majority violence (which he presumably thinks is a smaller number than vice versa);

Faid presents a figure for the total number of news reports of majority-on-minority violence (which he presumably also thinks is a smaller number than vice versa).

Let's say one number is 60% (or 100%, or 200%) bigger. Does that prove anything? No. Because without a handle on the actual number of reportable incidents, how can either side say they've won?

So what you really need is four numbers: 1) the number of maj-on-min crimes; 2) the number of reported maj-on-min crimes; 3) the number of min-on-maj crimes; and 4) the number of reported min-on-maj crimes.

That's just a minimum. After that, you need a detailed analysis of things that are inherently difficult to quantify, e.g., the weight given to the circumstances of interest (was the racial element of the crime of central, or only peripheral, importance to the story?). You might want to look at the prominence of the story (front page, below the fold front page, in the back of the "local" pages, filler at the end of a paragraph, etc.)

In other words, in order to make a reasonably compelling argument, Bill, you're going to need to write a doctoral dissertation. Of course, you could cite someone else's doctoral dissertation, but I'll bet Faid can do the exact same thing. We could go on like this for hundreds of posts, and you still wouldn't really be able to draw a line from your premise to your conclusion...whatever that conclusion turns out to be.

If your conclusion is, the media needs to be less biased, you can stop now. We all think that anyway.

Date: 2006/05/01 12:23:27, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (tacitus @ May 01 2006,17<!--emo&:0)
If anything this thread reminds me of any number of threads on boards like Bad Astronomy where a rank amateur posts a series of half-assed assertions and claims he's just about to overturn everything we thought we knew about the laws of physics.

When challenged to produce evidence to back up his assertions all he can do is: ignore, dismiss, change the subject, mock, etc. etc.  Classic pseudoscientist reactions.

For arguments like this, you don't even have to go that far to find one. Find the "LUCA Thread" on this very site. See how far the Ghost of Paley has progressed in his battle to overturn the last 500 years of astronomy and astrophysics.

Last I saw, he was still struggling with a geocentric explanation of non-cosmological redshift.

Date: 2006/05/01 16:01:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 01 2006,20:0)
Admit it, you and Eric were embarrassed that I could provide the very piece of evidence you demanded. It's OK, we all get clobbered sometimes. Try not to be such a crybaby about it in the future. <!--emo&:p

Embarrassed, Bill? Embarrassed by what? That you could show bias in the media? That's not exactly news, and not exactly embarrassing. I've never denied that there's plenty of bias in the media (the difference between us appears to be that I acknowledge the bias goes both ways).

Funny, I don't feel particularly clobbered, Bill. I still don't think you've demonstrated there's a consistent liberal slant to the media, even when it comes to racial issues, and you certainly haven't shown me why a media bias in favor of majority-on-minority violence is something to get all up in arms about anyway.

And I think Faid's analysis of the article you linked to is much more of an embarrassment to you than it is to either Faid or me. While the authors' data might agree with your claim, their conclusions certainly don't.

Date: 2006/05/01 16:19:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 01 2006,20:53)
OK, but how long will that argument hold water? I mean, the Nazis tried to wipe the Jews off the face of the planet 50 years ago.....

It'll hold water forever, Bill. Violence and oppression perpetrated by the dominant culture against a minority underclass will always be more newsworthy in a free society. If, 200 years from now, you read the papers (the Internet will be back on papers by then), you'll find that violence perpetrated by the Spanish-speaking Hispanic majority against the minority (say, 15% of the population?) white Christian culture is more  newsworthy than vice versa.

And Oops! You did it again! you teen idol you. You provided an example that proves my point for me.

Nazi oppression of Jews was (or should have been) more newsworthy in the 1930s than Jewish violence against Germans. Today, violence and oppression perpetrated by Israelis (the dominant culture) against Palestinians (the minority underclass) is more newsworthy than vice versa. Or, maybe not. After all, it's not like Palestinian violence against Israelis exactly goes unreported in the U.S. media. Hmm...maybe there are quite a few problems with your thesis, Bill...

Date: 2006/05/01 18:43:27, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 01 2006,23:17)
Nothing...?  What does traditional mean in traditional marriage?

So in other words you're all concerned about protecting traditional marriage's traditional? Good going, Thordaddy. That's a great reason.

You keep asking what is inherently valuable in traditional marriage while simultaneously advocating for gay "marriage."  WHY is the question?

No, that's not my question. My question to you is, what's so valuable about traditional marriage that you can justify banning gay marriage. You still can't answer that. You'll never be able to answer it, because you don't have a clue.

Your argument is based on "equal rights" and tolerance.  What is your argument against bigamy, polygamy, incestual or bestial unions being state sanctioned as long as they are adult oriented and consensual?

I've told you half a dozen times I'm not going to entertain argument on this incredibly inane, stupifyingly moronic question. You've asked a million times already, and you're never satisfied with the answer.

Meanwhile, I've pointed out the astounding stupidity of claiming if you change anything about marriage, you have to change everything about it.

Again, you claim that one man/one woman is the equal to one man/one man or one woman/one woman.  You can only make this claim if you see gender as a meaningless concept to society's recognition of marriage.

It is a meaningless concept in the context of society's recognition of marriage, because the distinction serves no useful purpose. That doesn't render the concept of gender meaningless, which is what you claimed.

If gender is meaningless in society's determination of what will be state sanctioned marriage then what criteria could possibly be legitimate?  You cannot limit state sanctioned marriage to just straight and gay couples based on the notion that only unions between 2 people that are unrelated qualify.

And why not? You say this over and over again as if it's self-evident, but you've never stopped to come up with an explanation of why you think it's so. In fact, it is not so, and repeating it over and over will not make it so.

How does this PASS the "equal rights" and tolerance argument?  Your EXCLUSIONARY criteria just makes you a liberal bigot.

One more time, for the intellectually-challenged. How can I be bigoted and you not be bigoted, if your restrictions on marriage are more restrictive than mine, Thordaddy? What kind of a cementhead are you?

I only want traditional marriage to persist.  You want to redefine it to benefit a VERY SMALL but radical minority.

What's radical about being gay? Humans have been gay for tens of thousands of years. There are almost as many gay Americans as there are African Americans. And yet somehow advocating gay marriage makes me a bigot, but wanting to deny it doesn't make you bigoted. Do you have any conception of how asinine that is?

Then your "equal rights" and tolerance argument is nothing but a farce.  You only seek to extend your tolerance a little bit and then slamming the door shut on those that don't qualify under your new and arbitrary definition of marriage.  How does this not make you a bigot towards practicing bigamists, polygamists, incestual and bestial unions?

You've lost this argument every single time you've brought it up, Thordaddy, everyone knows it except for you, and saying it over and over again merely demonstrates for everyone here how low your IQ is.

Again, you show yourself as merely an ideologue who's tolerance and non-discrimination only run as far as accomplishing the next goal in redefining our traditions.

But guess what, Thordaddy? You're an ideologue whose tolerance and non-discrimination run only as far as people exactly like you (except, of course, that they've bothered to get married, which is more than you can say). I simply cannot get over my astonishment that you think my wanting to extend rights to people who don't currently have them is somehow more bigoted than your desire to deny them that very same right! I mean, come on…how can you be that dumb and remain breathing?

Date: 2006/05/01 20:35:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
You know what, Thordaddy? You've convinced me. I don't know what I was thinking. Reading over your posts, I can see I was wrong all along. I gave your arguments a second chance, and now that I think about it, I can see your point. Why, if we let gay people marry, what will stop anyone from marrying anyone, or any thing, for that matter?

I mean, if we follow your logic to its conclusion, society will clearly collapse totally! And then where will we be?

Date: 2006/05/01 20:40:44, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Or…not, actually.

The truth is, Thordaddy, homosexual marriage is an inevitability. Homophobes like you will fight it off for a few more years, but the tide is running against you. Not too many years from now, Ted will be marrying Jeffrey, and Margot will be marrying Jennifer. And you know what will happen?


So get over it, will you? There must be something more intelligent you can vent your spleen over. Coke v. Pepsi? PC v. Mac? McDonald's v. Burger King?

Date: 2006/05/01 20:51:58, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Why are you still discussing this, Thordaddy? As I've pointed out, you've already lost. The homosexuals are coming, so if I were you, I'd strap on my chastity belt and flee the country.

Date: 2006/05/01 21:28:04, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,02<!--emo&:0)
Again, you show remedial [sic] knowledge of this particular debate.  It's because you have no real passion for this debate.

You're right, Thordaddy. I have no particular passion for this debate, because it's a stupid debate. You're the one who's terrified that civilization will grind to a standstill if gay people can get married. You've been broadcasting your fear of this epochal event for 26 pages now.

You've been making the same asinine assertions over and over again, as if repeating them over and over will make them true.

Your fear is palpable, Thordaddy. You stink of it. Whatever will you do when your worst fears are realized?

Date: 2006/05/02 05:36:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,01:48)
I only lose this argument if the "progressives" are naive enough to believe YOU that the bigamists, polygamists, incestual and bestial unions won't seek state recognition with the acceptance of gay "marriage."  In fact, it's already underway.  And what do you say...?  

"Oh no, you can't do that because there is too many in your union and some of its members are related..."

What arbitrary and discriminatory criteria, eric the bigot!

Wait a minute. I'm bigoted because I don't carry who marries whom (or what)? In what way does that make me a bigot? I guess you could say I'm bigoted against sheep, goats, goldfish, etc., but you'd be wrong. I don't think you should be marrying three year olds, either, and for the same reason: they're not competent to give consent.

I'm willing to restrict marriage to two adult humans who are competent to give consent and can enter into a contract as an accommodation to your bigotry, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/05/02 05:45:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 02 2006,06)
You suspect right!  And there is a very good reason which we will get into.  So are you telling me that I'm a different YECer than you've encountered before?  I hope so, because then if nothing else, reading my stuff will be some new entertainment for you :-)

No, Dave, you're the same kind of YECer we've seen a million times before. The same lack of logic or debating skills ("absolutely unsupportable assertion here. More later."—but then the "more" fails ever to arrive).

Your assertions are entertaining purely for their utter inanity, nothing more.

Date: 2006/05/02 05:45:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 02 2006,06)
You suspect right!  And there is a very good reason which we will get into.  So are you telling me that I'm a different YECer than you've encountered before?  I hope so, because then if nothing else, reading my stuff will be some new entertainment for you :-)

No, Dave, you're the same kind of YECer we've seen a million times before. The same lack of logic or debating skills ("absolutely unsupportable assertion here. More later."—but then the "more" fails ever to arrive).

Your assertions are entertaining purely for their utter inanity, nothing more.

Date: 2006/05/02 06:12:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, if you're going to present evidence for the existence of God, you're kind of wasting your time. Many of the people here already believe that God exists, and most others, like me, who don't believe God exists, concede that the question is essentially unprovable either way. Most theologians seem to be of the opinion that trying to use physical evidence to prove the existence of God is at best futile and at worst blasphemous.

Your really contentious claim is that the Bible is inerrant. Given the difficulty of that task, I really think you should concentrate your efforts there.

Date: 2006/05/02 06:49:15, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Also, I'd like to get some clarification here:

Quote (afdave @ May 02 2006,10:47)
Dave, before I answer in any more of your arguments, I want to make this perfectly clear: Have we agreed that we are NOT discussing in scientific terms? Yes or no?
Answer is YES.  I do not practice 'religion' (whoa ... there's a shocker that I will have to explain separately no doubt) and I do not engage in wild speculation.  I have the mind of an engineer and a scientist.  I, like you, am a healthy skeptic.

What you've said here is that you agree that we are NOT discussing in scientific terms. Is that what you meant to say? If it is, I'm not sure this is a proper venue for you to be discussing these matters, since your conjectures, hypotheses, proposals, arguments, etc., are going to be dealt with from within the constraints of science. If you're not going to be talking in terms of science, you're going to be going at it at cross-purposes to everyone else here.

Possibly this isn't what you meant to say. But we need to know one way or another.

Date: 2006/05/02 07:44:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Occam's Toothbrush @ May 02 2006,12:16)
I "like" how everyone keeps encouraging him by endlessly responding to him, regardless of his demonstrated inability to offer or even understand anything constituting reasoned arguments or evidence, thereby continually pushing his moronic threads to the top of the board and creating the impression (for anyone who doesn't already know better) that he might actually be sustaining his side of a debate.  Of course, when I say "like," I really mean hate.

Don't feed the moron.

It's just entertainment, Mr. Toothbrush. None of us is having to do this for a living, we're not getting paid for it, and surely we don't want a site where we're just standing around agreeing with each other, like those other sites.

Dave is charmingly naive, and it's kind of fun watching him get his ass handed to him over and over again. And after all, no one is forcing you to read his threads, right?

Date: 2006/05/02 07:50:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 02 2006,12:29)
Meyer observes ... "Physicists have discovered some seventy separate
physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to
produce a life-sustaining universe (Barrow & Tipler 1986; Gribbin & Rees 1991;
Ross in Dembski 1998)."

Let me ask you something, Dave: would it surprise you to find yourself living in a universe that cannot sustain life? I know it would surprise me.

So let's just say that your fine-tuning argument, aside from being hardly original, is a less than compelling argument for the existence of God. At best, it's an argument for good luck. Assuming you think being blessed with existence is actually good luck.

BTW, I think we all get your "method" for deriving "conclusions" from "evidence." Endless repetition is only going to annoy people.

Date: 2006/05/02 09:03:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 02 2006,13:15)
Will you, Russell, and Eric clearly concede that the media underreport minority-on-majority violence? I realise that some of you think you have already admitted this, but humor me. Just a short statement like, "I agree that the media underreport minority-on-majority crimes, and part of this is due to race." If, on the other hand, you still contest this, please point out with which part of the statement you disagree. Please be brief and clear.

Here's the problem with such a concession, Bill. If I conceded that the media under-report min-on-maj crime, I'd have to know that there is min-on-maj crime out there that is actually not reported. How would I know that? Even if it's true that there are more stories of maj-on-min crime than vice versa, couldn't it be the case that there simply is less min-on-maj crime to report in the first place?

Look: it may be true that the media under-report min-on-maj crime. You certainly haven't established that, but even if you had, I'd still maintain that the reasons for that may have nothing to do with racial discrimination (remember the Nazi-Jew/Israeli-Palestinian thing?) It's almost certainly true that the media emphasize maj-on-min crime, but the reasons for that seem to be good and proper to me. That the reasons may be "due to race" seems irrelevant, unless you equate being aware of the existence of race with being racist. I mean, I don't think anyone's contending that race doesn't exist.

And I still don't know exactly what your point is here, Bill. Even if it's true that the media under-report min-on-maj crime, what do you think should be done about that, other than that the media should report more min-on-maj crime. What social ill would that fix?

Date: 2006/05/02 09:46:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 02 2006,14:0)
And that's one of the problems I have with gay marriage. Remember the ultimate rationale for all those regulations surrounding marriage: society values marriage because it often leads to families, and families are the backbone of any healthy society. Now, it's true that one doesn't need marriage to raise children, but society recognises that it provides a good incentive for men to nuture both wife and children, and without this contract, fathers often behave irresponsibly. And plenty of research shows how well children fare without a father in their lives (hint: check out your local prison or graveyard).
  So what's the problem? Well, when it comes to raising children, gay couples are like a one-legged man in a marathon. Chidren come in both genders, and each sex needs a parental role model. Furthermore, homosexual relationships bring out the worst tendencies in each sex: rampant promiscuity and violence on the male side,  drifting and soft-headedness on the feminine. In the hetero nuclear family, one weakness balances another: the father provides discipline and guidance, while the mother tends to the child's emotional needs (of course this is only broadly true, but that doesn't obscure the fact that it is true).

Well, aside from piling generalization on top of stereotype on top of caricature (do you actually know any gay people, Bill?), at least you're coming up with something a little more sophisticated (if ultimately just as wrong-headed) as Thordaddy. But if that isn't damning with faint praise...

Anyway. Nothing you've said here functions as a reason to ban gay marriage, and here's why. Stopping gay people from marrying within their own gender is not going to make them marry straight people, so you haven't solved any problems by banning gay marriage. All you've done is continued the enforced and unjustifiable unhappiness of a significant segment of the population. Preventing gay people from marrying certainly isn't preventing them from being gay.

Further, your claim that homosexuality brings out the worst in people, aside from being unforgivably homophobic, is simply not born out by the facts. (Male homosexuality brings out violence? Give me a break! ) History is peppered with homosexual people of unique gifts who have made substantial contributions to civilization. Are our prisons full of homosexuals? No. Sure, a lot of homosexual sex happens in prison, but that's obligate homosexuality (what other sex is available?).

I'd like to see your studies, Bill (fire up your search engine! ) that demonstrate that homosexual relationships are more dysfunctional than straight relationships for reasons that have nothing to do with the social stigma gay people are forced to endure. Many straight relationships are already so famously dysfunctional that it's hard to imagine how gay relationships could best them in that particular category.

And let me ask you this, Bill: which do you think is more harmful to a child's development: being raised by a single mom who has to work two jobs to get the rent paid and food on the table, spending a good part of each day with no parental presence at all; or being raised by two loving men who both make a good living and as a result can work their schedules around their parenting responsibilities?

Worse yet, now society is left to deal with the consequences: the increased homosexual experimenting (with the concomitant diseases), the emotional instability and confusion ("Hmmmmm....what does it mean to be a man.....well, MTV teaches me that being a man is about joining a gang and hittin' 'hos. Sounds good to me!" "Hey Timmy, can I be your skank? Tiger Beat says that's the kewl trend nowadays!"), the increased disruption in general.

Gee, Bill, I don't know where you're getting your information about gay society, but what you're talking about here is all elements of straight society. I don't think you're going to find too many gay men or women prividing Tiger Beat to their kids for social instruction, for God's sake! And where do you get the idea that children raised by homosexual parents are more "disruptive" than those raised by straight parents?

And one more time: homosexuality in and of itself does not cause diseases. Are lesbians more disease-ridden than straight women? Sure, gay male sex carries with it a higher risk of disease than heterosexual sex, but heterosexual sex carries a greater risk of disease than lesbian sex. All forms of sex carry a higher risk than abstinence. Should we just be done with it and ban sex altogether?

Worse yet, society can't remedy these problems, because that might involve bigotry.

What problems? You're imagining problems where none exist. Granted, given the miniscule numbers of children raised in gay households, the data one way or another are sparse, but again, you're justifying sexual discrimination in marriage rights based on highly speculative grounds.

And again, none of these problems will be made better (or worse) by banning gay marriage.

Sorry, Bill. It still sounds like homophobia to me.

Date: 2006/05/02 09:55:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, Bill. One more time: what are the social consequences of the racially-biased "liberal" media's failure to give equal time to minority-on-majority crime? We know what the remedy would be, but the question is, what is it a remedy for?

After we get an answer to that, perhaps we could move onto a really important topic, say, how the conservative bias of the media leads to things like aggressive war, which kills tens of thousands of people; what the social consequences of that bias are; and what should be done about it?

Date: 2006/05/02 10:04:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,14:54)
You know you're fighting an uphill battle when the "liberals" maintain no media bias even though upwards of 70% of American journalists self-identify as "liberals."

Thordaddy, you're an idiot.

No liberal (or conservative, for that matter) is saying there's no bias in the media. Where did you get that ridiculous idea?

And if you think you can prove there's a "liberal" bias in the media, you're going to have to get around the inconvenient fact that by March of 2003, almost 85% of Americans thought some or all of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqis (you wouldn't be part of that 85%, would you?).

Do you suppose that erroneous belief can be ascribed to liberal bias in the media?

Anyone care to bet on how many times Thordaddy whips out his irrelevant "70%" statistic, over and over again, as if saying it actually means something?

Date: 2006/05/02 10:29:34, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,15:10)
ericmurphy asks,

Do you suppose that erroneous belief can be ascribed to liberal bias in the media?

Yes... the "liberal" media has shown the utmost reluctance to describe who it is exactly that we are at war with, namely, Muslim fanatics.

So the "liberal" media is responsible for getting the American public to back a war of aggression against a country that posed no threat to the U.S. or its allies, based on false allegations of involvement with the September 11 attacks, and false allegations of WMDs, including nuclear weapons?

Well, the "media" sure is. But the "liberal" media? What are you, smoking crack?

Did we start a war with Iraq because Iraq was a hotbed of "Muslim fanatics"? Funny, I haven't seen any hesitation on the part of the "liberal" media to reinforce the notion that all Muslims are "fanatics."

Thordaddy, do you have a different definition of "liberal" from the one the rest of us have?

As usual, your posts are reinforcing my impression of your vacuity.

Date: 2006/05/02 10:42:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,15:26)
First, gay "marriage" isn't banned and that's why you say that we won't stop gays from getting married.  Gays can get married and do get married in liberal churches across the country.

You've said this about a million times already. That doesn't make it any more relevant. Can you please stop making irrelevant rants? You know exactly why it's irrelevant. Are you purposely trying to irritate people?
You start from the false assumption that traditional marriage exists to discriminate against gays when you claim...

Where does that idea come from? God, Thordaddy, try to improve your reading comprehension. No one is making any such ridiculously idiotic assumption.
Is 1-2% a "significant segment" of our society?  And if traditional marriage is an illegitimate institution as it enforces an "unjustifiable unhappiness" on gays then on what foundation does gay "marriage" reside?

Where's your 1-2% figure coming from, Thordaddy? Did you pull it out of your butt? The accepted figure is more like 10%.
And who's claiming traditional marriage is an "illegitimate institution"? Are you suffering from Tourette's syndrome or something?
It is you that has a weak argument for equating gay "marriage" to traditional marriage.  What's equal?  How are they the same?

How are they different, Thordaddy? You've never been able to explain what the difference is, or why it matters. After twenty-seven stupid pages of this crap, you still haven't come up with a reason why gay marriage should be banned. And don't repeat your asinine tripe about "getting married in a liberal church." That only demonstrates your intellectual dishonesty.
Are they equally valuable or are they equally trivial?  Why is sanctioning gay "marriage" important to our society when the very tradition it relies upon (traditional marriage) is seen as irrelevant at best and downright discriminatory and illegitimate at its worst?

God, Thordaddy, you've got cement for brains. No one has ever claimed that traditional marriage is "irrelevant" or "discriminatory." Denying marriage rights to gay people is what's discriminatory.
If you actually knew where you stood on this issue, we may be able to come to a better understanding of your position.

I, and everyone else who's read this crap, knows exactly where I stand on this issue. I've only repeated it about a hundred times. If you don't know where I stand on this issue, it's because you haven't the wit to figure it out.

Date: 2006/05/02 11:10:56, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,15:47)

My definition of a "liberal" is you.  Everything you've said has been the mantra of the international "liberal" media for some 3 years now.  "No WMDs," and "No ties to Al Qaida" are the "liberal" talking points that we have heard endlessly for years.

Except when we heard, "lots of WMDs, lots of ties to al Qaeda, lots of flowers for our troops when we invade their country and occupy their cities."

Where did we hear that, Thordaddy? We heard it from the media. The "liberal" media.

I, personally, was saying there were no WMDs (or at least no evidence of their existence) and no ties to al Qaeda long before it was showing up in the media, "liberal" or otherwise.

We're hearing the same thing now from the media, Thordaddy, because it's true. You can call that a "mantra" if you want, but presumably you expect the media to report the truth, even if the truth is "liberal," don't you?

You could claim that I personally am liberal, and you'd be right. (You could also admit that I was right when I said those things, and you'd be right to admit it).

But you'd be wrong to say there's a consistent, systemic "liberal" bias to the media, because it ain't there.

Date: 2006/05/02 11:20:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
They're coming, Thordaddy. They're coming for you.

Once we liberals force you to allow gay people to get married, they'll be in your neighborhood, they'll be your neighbors. You'll be forced to watch them perform their perverted sex acts. Right on their front lawn. Maybe on your front lawn.

Next, they'll kidnap you, and force you to marry some guy named Steve. Then they'll abduct the mother of your child, and force her to marry some diesel dyke who can snap your spine like a twig. When you try to object, they'll force a burlap sack over your head, bludgeon you with silicone dildos, and when you wake up, you'll be cold and naked in a  jail cell surround by giant African American gentlemen whose intentions towards you are far from honorable.

That's the future you have to look forward to, Thordaddy, so I hope you're getting ready for it.

In the meantime, could you re-read my prevoius post and see that every single one of your questions, the ones you've asked about a million times, have already been answered? And will you see that all your whining and moaning will not stop the inevitable?

Date: 2006/05/02 11:41:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,16:33)

I commend you for at least a smidgeon of honesty.  No one can actually argue that a 70-plus % of journalists self-identifying as "liberals" is evidence of "nothing" in the media.

At risk of ignoring salutory advice, I'm going to respond to Thordaddy anyway, in hopes that I won't hear this stupid 70% statistic repeated over and over again.

Thordaddy, are you of the opinion that any journalist who says he or she is either liberal or conservative is incapable of objective reporting? I asked this question days ago, and you failed to respond.  Merely stating that 70% of the journalists out there self-report themselves as liberal does not equate to 70% of the reporting being liberally-biased.

There's no connection between the proportion of journalists who claim to be "liberal" and the African-American representation among Fortune 500 companies, unless you assume that a journalist is incapable of objective reporting.

I've been over this with you before, but of course that didn't matter. You act like I never said anything about it. Imagine my surprise.

Date: 2006/05/02 11:56:28, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 02 2006,16:53)
Once we liberals force you to allow gay people to get married, they'll be in your neighborhood, they'll be your neighbors. You'll be forced to watch them perform their perverted sex acts. Right on their front lawn. Maybe on your front lawn.

Again, this is a pathethic appeal.  It has no basis in reality.  But you have used the right word when you say "we liberals" will "FORCE" the rest of us to equate gay "marriage" with traditional marriage.  It's just more evidence of the bullying nature of the radical homosexuals and their useful idiots.

I see, Thordaddy, that not only are you impervious to logic, reason, and common sense; you're also impervious to irony.

God, what a pompous ass.

Date: 2006/05/02 13:20:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 02 2006,18<!--emo&:0)
What failure? According to your response.....
.....there is no failure (oh, except for a wee little overemphasis now and again).

And people wonder why conservatives are so angry......

What's so hard about this question, Bill: If you're right, and there is a "multicultural" bias in the media, which leads to under-reporting of minority-on-majority crime, why is this something we should be concerned about? Why does this particular fault of the media need to be remedied, when so many other vastly more destructive shortcomings evidently don't?

Are you saying you can't tell me why you think this problem is serious until I admit there's a problem?

I have no particular problem with accepting that the media may over-emphasize majority-on-minority crime, and I've already given you a reason why this would be so. But you still haven't told me why this is so important to you.

Okay, I guess the only way I'm going to get an answer to my question is this way: "Okay, Bill. I accept your claim that the media under-reports minority-on-majority crime, and the reason is 'due to race' (whatever that means)."

Now, will you mind telling me why I should be alarmed by this development?

Date: 2006/05/02 13:44:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ May 02 2006,18:24)
Can't say I agree with that particular point.

Iraq had used WMDs several times in the past. Chemical weapons were used by Iraq in the war with Iran and against Iraqi uprisings both in the north and south of Iraq.

UNSCOM was met with repeated non-cooperation in doing it's job.

Long before 2002 (when the Bush administration started really pushing the idea of invading Iraq) or even early 2001 (when the Bush administration started exploring the possibility of invading Iraq), there were no appreciable amounts of WMDs in Iraq. According to Scott Ritter, who was actually in Iraq, who worked with UNSCOM in verifying Iraq's disarmament, 90% or more of Iraq's unconventional weapons capability had been destroyed by 1995. Kamel Hussein had also informed the CIA that he had personally ordered the destruction of Iraq's unconventional weapons capability in 1995.

No one denies that Iraq once possessed WMDs. No one denied that Iraq was interested in obtaining WMDs. But that's not what the administration was arguing. The administration was arguing that Iraq was in actual possession, in 2003, of not just unconventional weapons, but of nuclear weapons, and the "liberal" media not only did not contradict this position, but actively supported it, via reporters like Judith Miller who, lest it be forgot, worked for the New York Times.

In 2003, George Bush claimed, to universal astonishment, that Saddam Hussein had refused to allow UNMOVIC inspectors into the country in late 2002. Walter Pincus, of the Washington Post, noted that this statement "appeared to be contradicted" by the fact that UNMOVIC inspectors had entered Iraq in 2002, and were still there in March 2003, when the Bush administration advised them to evacuate in anticipation of the onset of armed hostilities.

Does that sound like liberal bias in the media to you?

Date: 2006/05/02 15:44:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 02 2006,20<!--emo&:0)
Well little evos, you've bought yourself another day; my heaviest hitter is still in the basement. But I couldn't resist leaving you with a parting shot. Enjoy.

Okay, Bill. I'm batting zero with my question here. But maybe I'll try to phrase it somewhat differently:

"What do you suppose the media are trying to accomplish by stifling stories of minority-on-majority crime, and emphasizing majority-on-minority crime?"

In other words, what's the motivation?

You've got the media in the stock here, accused of racial bias. Now: presumably you've got a motive in mind. Would you care to share that motive with us? Perhaps the media are trying to precipitate a race war? Well, that would certainly be good for business. But since the majority of the owners and shareholders of large media companies are white, it seems strange they'd want to start a race war with themselves on the losing end of it. Maybe they're counting on numerical superiority to assure an annihilation of the bad guys they don't like to report about?

I've gotta admit: I'm kind of stymied here, wondering what you think the motivation is. Faid's theory makes sense. I guess I won't know whether your theory makes sense until I hear it.

Also, what does any of this have to do with evolution? I can see you having a bone to pick with "liberals," but I'm not sure where evolutionary biologists fit into the picture…

Date: 2006/05/02 16:37:04, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 02 2006,18:53)
Just for Mr. Murphy :)
[edit: my last source puts this figure at a super-low 17%. I, for one, am deeply relieved.]

Hmm…I'm trying to figure out what this has to do with gay marriage…I didn't see anything in here that says gay students are more violent than straight students, nor did I see anything that says students raised by gay couples were more violent than those raised by straight couples. I did see mention of a correlation between the number of male students and the level of serious violence, but unless you're equating "males" with "gay males," I'm afraid your point escapes me.

The link you posted for Faid stands most likely for the proposition that the jury is out on whether children of homosexual couples fare better or worse than children of heterosexual couples. Given what I said earlier about the very small sample size, this is hardly surprising. You'll notice that the anti-gay-adoption position seems to be mainly a criticism of the methodology of the pro-gay-adoption position, rather than contrary research results.

Date: 2006/05/03 05:39:35, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 03 2006,10:28)
Eric Murphy said ...
Let me ask you something, Dave: would it surprise you to find yourself living in a universe that cannot sustain life? I know it would surprise me.
If you read what I have written, you will notice that I said I am content to discard the term 'Surprising Fact' and simply use 'Phenomenon.'
So let's just say that your fine-tuning argument, aside from being hardly original, is a less than compelling argument for the existence of God. At best, it's an argument for good luck. Assuming you think being blessed with existence is actually good luck.
I didn't say it was original ... 'my hypothesis' means to me a conglomerate of existing ones plus some of my own thoughts presented in my own way. Everyone does this.  Why is it less than compelling? Have you ever experienced or read about a system that was 'finely tuned' that was NOT finely tuned by an engineer (or team of them)?

You're missing the point, Dave. I'm not talking about whether a given phenomenon is "surprising" or not.

My point is (and this is known as the "weak anthropic principle") we would be surprised to find ourselves living in a universe that was not finely tuned for life. Obviously, Dave, we could not live in a universe that was inimical to life, unless a creator god made it possible for us to live there nevertheless. Since we are, in fact, alive, it should come as no surprise at all to us that we inhabit a universe that can sustain life.

What would be truly surprising, and what would be evidence for the existence of God, would be if we inhabited a universe that could not sustain life.

Date: 2006/05/03 05:53:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 03 2006,10:28)
From Corkscrew ...
- Hypothesis: humans evolved from the same lineage as modern apes
- Observation: the modern apes that are most physiologically similar to humans have 24 chromosomes per haploid
- Observation: humans have 23 chromosomes per haploid
- Conclusion: either humans have lost a chromosome or the other apes have all gained a chromosome
- By application of parsimony: humans have lost a chromosome
- Observation: chromosomes are generally "lost" by merging with another chromosome, as destruction of a chromosome's worth of genetic information is generally fatal
- Conclusion: at some point in our ancestry, two human chromosomes merged
- Prediction: one human chromosome will closely resemble two ape chromosomes merged together.
This prediction was subsequently confirmed. I can present other instances of confirmed predictions if you like.

Corkscrew continues to be the most logical sounding, non-emotional advocate of the general Theory of Evolution that I have heard over here at PT.  Right behind him is Faid, who is at least polite and does not engage in polemics, and Norm who sounds intelligent.  I keep throwing this bone out to ToE advocates that you will further your cause if you adopt the rational, non-emotional 'Corkscrew' approach.  Adopting the 'Aftershave' approach or the 'Mr_Christopher' approach will only harm your cause.  This hypothesis is very interesting to me and I want to hear more.  I will copy it into my "AF Dave wants you to prove Evolution" thread, then I would like to do some Google searching and get back to you on this as soon as I can.

Dave, this is an extremely well-known and well-publicised example of a prediction made by neodarwinian evolution. Any general text on evolution (and certainly any website like talkorigins) would have mentioned this example. That it is evidently news to you does not bode well for how much research you have done into evolution. If this is indeed the first time you've come across this example, it's pretty strong evidence that you have done very little research into the evidence in support of evolution, but rather have spent most of your time looking for evidence to refute evolution.

If it's true that this is your first exposure to the human-chimp chromosome number prediction, this seriously undercuts your claim that no one has ever shown you, e.g., evidence of evolution from dinosaurs to birds.

I said earlier that I do not believe you are qualified to hold a credible opinion on the subject of evolution. This most recent post only reinforces that notion.

Oh, and by the way—evolution is not a "cause." It's "science."

Date: 2006/05/03 06:52:01, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Glen Davidson @ May 03 2006,11:42)
This is all good, of course.  But what might be worth wondering about is why this universe, which is so poorly equipped to produce and to sustain life, is considered to be miraculously created to do just that.

I should probably strengthen a point I made in my previous post:

If we found ourselves living a universe in which life could not possibly exist, that would be evidence for the existence of god (and it would be pretty surprising, too).

That we live in a universe which seems in some ways to be "finely tuned" to permit life, but in which life seems extremely rare (at least, as far as we can tell so far) strikes me as extremely weak evidence for the existence of god.

Date: 2006/05/03 06:58:24, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 03 2006,11:31)
Kids, liberalism rots the brain.....Exhibit A: Posters on Panda's Thumb.

I consider myself to be liberal, Dave. Do you consider my brain to be "rotten"?

Does the media emphasize majority-on-minority crime, and de-emphasize minority-on-majority crime? Just yes or no, please.

Yes or no. Then we'll talk motive.

Actually, you mean "Yes. Then we'll talk about motive." If we don't admit your premise, we can't even discuss your conclusion.

My point is, even if your premise is valid, it's hard to picture what your conclusion would be.

Date: 2006/05/03 08:35:39, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 03 2006,12:37)
I consider myself to be liberal, Dave.

OK, you out-zinged me. Who's Dave?????
Do you consider my brain to be "rotten"?

Naaah, yer one of the lads, Eric. And to your credit, you have conceded the basic facts, although you disagree with me over how to interpret them, or even whether they're even worth interpreting.

Oops, been reading too much AFDave, I guess. I meant "Bill,"  of course.

Also, I wouldn't agree that I have in general conceded the "basic facts." I've conceded them arguendo, because it's the only way I see of moving the discussion forward.

Date: 2006/05/03 08:59:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Same for science classes.  We shouldn't be telling kids 'God created the world' in science class and we shouldn't be telling the world that 'Evolution created the world' in science class.  We should be telling them 'Most scientists believe some form of Darwin's Theory of Evolution to explain the appearance of life.  Many non-scientists and a minority of scientists believe in some form of supernatural cause for the appearance of life.  Creationism and Intelligent Design Theory are two of these views.'

This is incorrect. The Theory of Evolution says nothing about the appearance of life. Origins of Life ("abiogenisis") theories are entirely separate from the Theory of Evolution. Nor does the Theory of Evolution have anything to say about the origin of the earth or the origin of the universe. Entirely separate theories deal with those issues. It's common among creationists to assume that the Theory of Evolution is an all-embracing origins theory.

Again, Dave, this reinforces my impression that you've done next to no reading about what evolution actually says, as opposed to what creationists think it says.

Date: 2006/05/03 09:08:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, I asked you very early on in this thread to explain why you think the earth is only thousands of years old, not billions of years old. So far, the only thing you've come up with, after several very long posts, is that the evidence for an earth billions of years old is based on "flawed assumptions." The evidence isn't based on "flawed assumptions"; it's based on a detailed understanding of nuclear decay and geophysical processes, among other things. No one "assumed" the earth was billions of years old; the evidence showed that it was.

You're going to have to explain what those "flawed assumptions" are pretty quickly if you're going to maintain whatever shreds of credibility you have left. And believe me, this isn't a side issue: it's critical to your claim that the Bible is inerrant. If the Bible is off by six orders of magnitude on an fact as basic as the age of the earth, that doesn't leave it much credibility on other matters.

Date: 2006/05/03 11:52:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 03 2006,16<!--emo&:0)
In other words, this contention is beyond dispute for the remainder of the thread. Anyone who wishes to argue against this claim must start a new thread. Eric, do you agree? Yes or no, please. Also, Faid, do you agree?


Yeah, I'm okay with that. I'd never do it if I were arguing a case to a judge, but since this is supposedly entertainment...

So, given arguendo that Bill's theory about media bias is correct, what are the ramifications of that bias, what should be done about it, and what social ill would be remedied by correcting that bias?

Date: 2006/05/03 12:32:16, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Here's something else to think about, Dave.

You're really in the position of someone claiming heavier-than-air flight is impossible. The evidence for an ancient earth, and for the fact of evolution (as opposed to the Theory of Evolution), is absolutely overwhelming and ironclad. Those of us who are familiar with this evidence know this (you have demonstrated conclusively that you are not aware of this evidence).

Therefore, the only things you can say that will be of interest to the rest of us is why you think the earth is less than 10,000 years old and macroevolution doesn't happen. In other words, you need to show in detail why the vast body of evidence supporting these two contentions is incorrect. N.B.: you can't just show that a few pieces of evidence here and there are incorrect, because the evidence is cumulative. You'd have to refute virtually all of it.

But nothing else you can say on the subject is really of interest. Your methods, sources, life history, etc. aren't really advancing your argument. Nor are analogies to watches, airplanes, or other machines. Either presenting evidence that the earth is young, or demonstrating that the evidence of its antiquity is incorrect; or evidence not only that evolution is impossible, but that the Bible's account of the origin of species is correct, are really the only things that are going to get you anywhere here.

Date: 2006/05/03 13:55:48, Link
Author: ericmurphy
At the risk of inciting more hysterical ranting, I'd like to ask Thordaddy a question: "What, in your opinion, is the 'radical homosexual agenda'?"

I'm trying to imagine what it is that gay people want in terms of rights and responsibilities that has Thordaddy's panties in a bunch.

Not, of course, that there's anything wrong with a guy wearing women's panties...

Date: 2006/05/03 14:02:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Just as a point of clarification, Bill: have you already presented your model? Because if you did, I missed it.

I'm hoping I'm not that dim-witted, but presumably your "explanation" for the "fact" (which one, exactly?) is synonymous with your "model"?

Date: 2006/05/03 15:25:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Okay, I'll bite.


Curiosity/cat etc.

Date: 2006/05/03 17:14:10, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (PuckSR @ May 03 2006,20<!--emo&:0)
The "radical homosexual agenda" would seem to be:
[1.] End all discrimination due to sexual orientation
[2.] End all derogatory remarks towards/about homosexuals
[3.] Allow any two people who love each other to marry
[4.] Allow any persons who wish to adopt the right to adopt
[5.] Guarantee that homophobia is wiped away

I think this "radical homosexual agenda" is largely an invention of heterosexuals, in the same sense that "feminazis" are largely an invention of the radical right.

Of the five "rights" you enumerate above, rights 1 and 3 are (or should be) relatively uncontroversial, 4 is unlikely to be part of anyone's agenda (should we allow the mentally ill to adopt?), and 2 and 5 are impossible in principle to achieve in any event (except that 2 is probably achievable at least in public venues like the workplace, where women, at least, are already entitled to such consideration under the law presently). I doubt any mainstream gay/lesbian organization seriously advocates 2 or 5 as anything other than an ideal to be aspired to.

Are there some gay people, somewhere, who are seeking these "rights"? Sure. But any group has its extremists. Personally, I think the idea that advocating for gay marriage is in any way "radical" is pretty indefensible. Thordaddy's idea of advocating state sanction for inter-species or multiple-partner unions is, of course, pretty indefensible, but again, no one is really advocating any such thing anyway. Except, evidently, Thordaddy himself.

Date: 2006/05/03 17:22:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Well, sure enough, I incited an hysterical rant.

Why are you asking me questions? Are they supposed to be in some way an answer to my question? At least PuckSR can respond rationally to my post, rather than just foaming at the mouth.

Quote (thordaddy @ May 03 2006,22)
Are you claiming no agenda?  What does the AIDS scandal, the Boy Scout assault, Disney Gay Week and the Catholic Church rapes have in common?  What does speech codes, hate crime laws and gay "marriage" have in common?  You're a scientist and you don't gather ANYTHING from the empirical evidence around you?

What does any of this have to do with a purported "radical gay agenda"? Are you saying that Catholic Church rapes are part of the "radical gay agenda"? Are gay pride parades somehow "radical"? Are "hate crime laws" part of the "radical gay agenda" even when those laws are used to protect ethnic minorities?

Instead of ranting, Thordaddy, why don't you answer the question I actually asked?

And P.S., whatever gave you the idea that I'm a scientist?

Date: 2006/05/03 18:38:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy, you're not just an idiot. You're also a clown.
Quote (thordaddy @ May 03 2006,22:35)

Are you expecting a Mission statement from the "RGA?"  I bet you thought that evidence of OBL and Hussein colluding was going to come in the form of a love letter, too?

I already know there is no "radical homosexual agenda." My question was, what does Thordaddy imagine this "radical homosexual agenda" to be? Didn't seem that hard of an intellectual challenge, but I managed to overestimate him again.

(Not this has anything to do with gay rights, but I wonder what Thordaddy thinks the "evidence" of collusion between OBL and Saddam is…)

Did you ever ask yourself why so many homosexuals found themselves in such a discriminatory organization like the Catholic Church?

I can think of lots of reasons why there are gay priests, but none of them have to do with any sort of "radical homosexual agenda."

Did you every wonder why gay adults would choose Disneyland, a child's playground, to hold a "Gay Week?"

Well, I always assumed it was so that average Americans could see for themselves that gay people are also average Americans (okay, so maybe many of them are above average). I'm guessing Thordaddy assumes they were cruising for children to molest, since in his fevered imagination the "evidence" proves most child molesters are gay.

Did it ever occur to you that the full out assault on the Boy Scouts, that organization that changes boys into men, followed the rejection of a homosexual scout leader?

Actually, it occurred to me that the problem gay people have with the BSA has something to do with the rampant homophobia of that organization. You don't see the connection, I take it?

Did you ever ask yourself why in such a homophobic society, the Matthew Sheppard story has been repeated ad nauseum for 8 years?

I've never said that all of society is homophobic. Just the homophobic jerks there are tend to be irrational jerks like Thordaddy.

But of course nothing Thordaddy has said yet gives any clue as to what he thinks the "radical homosexual agenda" is, so I'm going to withdraw the question, given that he hasn't the wit to answer it.

Date: 2006/05/03 18:41:48, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 03 2006,22:24)
How about they are discriminated against because most people are naturally heterosexual?  How about they are discriminated against because most people instinctually feel the inferiority of such an orientation and gay sympathizers will readily admit that, "no one would choose to be this way?"  How about this discrimination being a natural and normal discrimination?  Wouldn't evolution say as much?

Well, looks to me like Thordaddy has investigated, indicted, tried, convicted, and hanged himself here. Any need to further debate this clown?

Date: 2006/05/03 21:20:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (PuckSR @ May 04 2006,00:44)
Thordaddy's idea of advocating state sanction for inter-species or multiple-partner unions is, of course, pretty indefensible, but again, no one is really advocating any such thing anyway. Except, evidently, Thordaddy himself.

Actually your wrong.
Several religions consider it their religious right to be married to multiple partners.  In the case of the polygamist their actually banned from this practice by a law that is strictly enforced.  

No I'm not. Show me: a) the high-profile groups advocating state-sanctioned polyamourous relationships; and b) proposed state constitutional amendments prohibiting such relationships.

Date: 2006/05/04 05:48:25, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, this is exactly what happens when amateurs get in over their heads. Here you are, talking about a very esoteric field of human knowledge (genetics), citing 25-year-old research that's completely out of date and has been completely supplanted by newer research in a rapidly-advancing field.

No offense, Dave, but you're an electrical engineer. Do you really believe you're qualified to go head-to-head with research geneticists with decades in the field? Did you honestly think you were going to find errors in their work? That would be like me expecting to find errors in Stephen Hawking's math.

And, let's not forget, you still have not presented any evidence for a young earth, or for any of your other assertions, for that matter. To take an example, your "explanation" for Cain's and Abel's wives didn't present any "evidence" whatsoever. Claiming that Cain and Abel must have married their sisters, without even any reference to Biblical passages (which wouldn't have been evidence anyway), shows how little you understand about the way science works.

In the same vein, citing outdated research to attempt to disprove one tiny piece of evidence in favor of evolution doesn't even get you one baby-step closer to proving your claims.

Date: 2006/05/04 06:06:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 04 2006,03:49)
You've found me guilty for being heterosexual...  I confess my guilt, ole' wise one.  

No, Thordaddy, you're guilty of claiming that one sort of human is "inferior" to another sort of human. That's dangerously close to claiming that gay people are "subhuman."

There's a word for people like you, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/05/04 08:09:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, you've posted another great big long post on defintions, methods, etc., when what everyone here really wants to see is evidence. I cannot fail to point out that you have not yet presented any evidence for the following claims:

1. The Bible is inerrant;
2. The earth (and presumably the rest of the universe) is less than 10,000 years old; and
3. Evolution cannot account for the origin of species (and higher-level taxa).

You've been admonished several times that you'll wear out everyone's patience if you don't get down to supporting these three assertions.

Quote (afdave @ May 04 2006,11:58)
This is incorrect. The Theory of Evolution says nothing about the appearance of life. Origins of Life ("abiogenisis") theories are entirely separate from the Theory of Evolution. Nor does the Theory of Evolution have anything to say about the origin of the earth or the origin of the universe. Entirely separate theories deal with those issues. It's common among creationists to assume that the Theory of Evolution is an all-embracing origins theory.
OK.  Maybe someone should come up with one.  Isn't there something called a GUT? (Grand Unifying Theory).  That's sort of what mine attempts to be.

In some sense, Dave, all of experience comes down to quantum mechanics. But if you think you're going to come up with a theory that explains the hierarchy problem in particle physics and how birds evolved from dinosaurs, you'd better get cracking. The "GUTs" (Grand Unified Theories) of particle physics attempt, with indifferent success, to unify three of the four known forces of nature (gravity excluded). They don't even begin to be as ambitious as to attempt to explain the origin of the universe, the origin of the earth, and the origin of life, and have nothing whatsoever to say about the evolution of life.

I have to get past Demarcation Arguments and Point 1, then we will look at it.

No you don't. Demarkation arguments aren't going to help you. We want to see evidence to support your assertions, and you're not going to get any peace until you present such assertions. Quibbling about "demarkation arguments" is a waste of time.

Date: 2006/05/04 11:13:19, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I think one of the mistakes Bill's making is that he assumes there's something about homosexuality that is intrinsically promiscuous. Given that gay women don't seem to be any more promiscuous than straight women (and possibly less promiscuous than straight men), I doubt this is the case. That female homosexuality is significantly more socially acceptable than the male variety adds strength to this supposition.

My suspicion is that the cultural ghettoization of gay men, i.e., the social unacceptability of male homosexuality, is more responsible for male homosexual promiscuity than anything about male homosexuality itself. I believe that if male homosexuality were as socially-acceptable as heterosexuality, there would be no significant difference in promiscuity between male homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Date: 2006/05/04 11:44:45, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Actually, not really. Since you haven't actually presented any "evidence" yet, all we've really been able to do is ask you to present it.

Granted, it was slightly fun to watch you pull up 30-year-old research to attempt to refute one piece of evidence in support of evolution, only to have it get torn to shreds, but we see this kind of thing all the time from creationists.

What we really want to see is your evidence supporting your assertions. We haven't seen that yet.

Creationists spend about 95% of their time trying to critique scientific research they don't have the competence to critique, and another 5% in lobbying efforts aimed at the non-scientific community. That leaves what percent for actual research?

Date: 2006/05/04 15:27:13, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I feel like I'm wasting my time here...

Quote (thordaddy @ May 04 2006,16:53)
But thordaddy actually ASKED,

…How about they are discriminated against because most people instinctually feel the inferiority of such an orientation

Forgetting, for now, the canard about the evolutionary aspects of homosexuality, which have already beaten into the ground (along with most of Thordaddy's other opinions), you're saying a "homosexual orientation" is "inferior" to a heterosexual orientation, but somehow being homosexual isn't inferior to being heterosexual? If there's a distinction there, I don't see it. And where do you get off thinking that homosexuality is somehow "inferior" to heterosexuality?

 In fact, look at what you have said and it is CLEAR that you see homosexuals as "one sort of human."  Man, I thought we were all equal?

Redheads are one sort of person; blondes are another sort of person. What does this have to do with equality? You're the one who has consistently stated that homosexual unions are "inferior" to heterosexual unions, and by implication homosexuals are "inferior" to heterosexuals.

Your reading and comprehension is poor, but I'm most perplexed how you can equate a heterosexual orientation to a homosexual one?  They are clearly different and only the most foolish anti-evolutionary fundie would claim that homosexuality was the superior orientation to heterosexuality.  But then again, according to you, homosexuals are "one sort of human."

God, Thordaddy, you keep exceeding yourself when it comes to blatant, dumbfounding inability to reason. Who is saying that there's no "difference" between gay sex and straight sex? What kind of idiot misreading of anyone's post gave you that idea? And who said gay sex was "superior" to straight sex? Is saying gay sex is not inferior to straight sex the same thing as saying it's superior to straight sex?

Man, you never cease to astound me with your breathtaking vapidity.

I will state unequivocally that a heterosexual orientation is superior to a homosexual orientation and is probably a major contributor to discrimination against the practitioners of homosexuality.  Blame evolution, man!

I rest my case.

Also, Thordaddy, do believe in the Theory of Evolution or not? Given that you consistently denigrate homosexuality on evolutionary grounds (despite the stupidity of such an argument), I'm assuming you wouldn't make such and argument if you didn't evolution happens. On the other hand, given your irrationality…

Date: 2006/05/04 19:14:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 04 2006,21:43)
I'm looking for any liberal that will clearly articulate their advocating for gay "marriage?"

Why is gay "marriage" necessary and needed in our society?

What are the liberal arguments, exactly?

PuckSR have some guts?
Come on, Occam?
EricMurphy, what's your argument?

So now the standard is "necessity"?

Come off it, Thordaddy. Let's put the onus where it belongs: why is it necessary to ban gay marriage?

And please, for the love of god, don't go off on your usual rant about collapsing civilizations and traditions stripped of meaning. Or inferior sexual practices, whatever that means.

Date: 2006/05/04 19:29:55, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 04 2006,22:30)
There is really one really big thing I resent.  And that is the idea that humans are nothing more than highly evolved animals.  This to me first of all has never been proven but many scientists speak as if it has, and secondly, history has shown what this type of belief can do in a society if it is believed by the leadership.

Why do you resent the idea that you're an animal, Dave? (Would you prefer to be a plant?)

The evidence that human beings are animals (as opposed to, say, amniosperms, fungi, viruses, or archaebacteria) is so utterly overwhelming as to leave the suspicion that doubters aren't fully in possession of their senses. Not only can we tell that humans are animals, but we can tell how closely or how distantly they are related to other primates, other mammals, other amniotes, other vertebrates, other animals, other eukaryotes, etc. I'm sorry this makes you feel resentful, but I suppose that can't be helped.

I guess if it makes you feel better to believe that humans were specially created by God and bear no closer relationship to other animals than they do to, say, the color blue or the number 3.4747907, I don't really have a problem with that. But if you think you're going to persuade the rest of us that none of us are actually animals, I suggest you try a less challenging hobby. Like, for example, building suspension bridges using the two smallest toes on your left foot and items found around the office.

Oh, and if you're worried about the political ramifications of a belief that humans are animals—look around you and observe the political ramifications of a belief that they are not.

Date: 2006/05/05 05:42:27, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,01:45)
Look at the liberals rage... LOL!

The only thing worth noting was ericmurphy's question.

EricMurphy asked,

Come off it, Thordaddy. Let's put the onus where it belongs: why is it necessary to ban gay marriage?

First, let's clarify that gays can get married in many liberal churches blahblahblahblahrantrantrant...

Not until you come up with something new to say, Thordaddy. You've been making the same unsupported assertions for 30 pages now, and I cannot begin to describe to you how boring it's all becoming. You're a broken record, repeating the same fatuous inanities over and over and over again until, if we were at a bar, the bartender would have kicked you out a long time ago.

Date: 2006/05/05 06:54:49, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 05 2006,06:19)
I understand that our BODIES are very much like other animals ... VERY, VERY much like chimps as we are seeing on the other thread (I've got a lot more for that thread by the way), but I will be showing you that there are many fundamental differences between a chimp and a human--differences so great that when you see them, you realize it is not sensible to call a human an animal any more.  He should be called a human.

Actually, Dave, the differences between humans and chimps, compared to e.g. the differences between humans and bacteria, are practically invisible. Humans are basically taller, balder, weaker, and smarter chimps. I fail to understand why this presents a problem for you.

If you want to say there are spiritual differences between a human and chimp that amount to some sort of unbridgeable gulf, that's fine, but you're not talking about science anymore (to the extent you ever were).

Date: 2006/05/05 06:58:42, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 05 2006,06:23)
Dave, are you going to read up on the Vitamin C thing or not? If so, check some other sources too, not just AiG BS.
Sure.  What is it exactly that I am looking for?

Vitamin C is a useful therapy in the treatment of Creationism, Dave. Strange but true.

Date: 2006/05/05 07:17:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 05 2006,08:59)
OK, back to my evidence ...

I have already given evidence for the existence of an Intelligent Entity of some sort.  The two lines of evidence given so far are (1) Cosmic Fine Tuning and (2) Biological Machines.  To me this says loud and clear ... "Someone purposely set the 'dials' in the 'universe control room'" and "Someone is a fantastically brilliant Engineer."  Obviously, that's ALL these two lines of evidence suggest.  They say nothing about the Bible or genetics or morality or any of the other myriad issues that I am interested in.  But to me they do speak very loudly to the two statements above.  Some here say that this is not evidence and I would have to ask specifically WHY is this not evidence?

Dave, you have not given evidence for a cosmic "Intelligent Entity" through the "cosmic fine tuning" and "biological machines argument." You're still unclear on the meaning of the term "evidence." At best, "cosmic fine tuning" and "biological machines" are conjectures, or arguments. They're certainly not "evidence," and both conjectures have been reviewed here and you've been shown why they're not persuasive.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that you've "established" anything by presenting "cosmic fine tuning" or "biological machines" "evidence."

If you'd shown some physical parameters that are indeed finely tuned (the cosmological constant, to pick an obvious example), that would be one thing, but you haven't done that, and even if you had, we've already shown you why that argument is unpersuasive.

Thank you Richard Dawkins.  Case closed.  It's been great debating all of you.

Dave, this same quote-mining was used over a century ago with Charles Darwin. Darwin made the same point (that biological organisms are awe-inspiring in their complexity), and then went on to explain exactly how that complexity could have come about through unguided processes. Dawkins is saying exactly the same thing here, and you're making the same mistake of misinterpreting where Dawkins is going with this.

Alberts notes that molecular machines strongly resemble machines designed by human engineers, although as an orthodox neo-Darwinist he denies any role for actual, as opposed to apparent, design in the origin of these systems.

Dave, this is argument by analogy. It's not evidence of anything. Behe made the statement at Dover and in "Darwin's Black Box" that life looks designed, therefore it was designed. I'm sure you can see how weak this argument really is.

Say what you want about Behe and his wisdom in court (and I probably agree), but in my opinion, Behe has done an excellent job of pointing out the complete absence of any gradualistic explanations for the origin of the systems and motors he discusses.

No he hasn't. Every single example Behe used (the flagellum, the clotting sequence, the complementary immune system) has been shown over and over again to be evolvable. This area of biological research is extremely fertile, Dave, and if you don't read the current research, you're always going to be way behind. "Darwin's Black Box" was written ten years ago.

Date: 2006/05/05 09:46:31, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Dave, here's the problem. You're not equipped to understand biology well enough to understand why AiG's arguments are without merit. The writers at AiG are counting on their other readers having the same problem.

Unfortunately, unless you're willing to take the time and effort to at least take a few undergraduate biology classes, you're never going to be equipped to understand why these arguments are incorrect.

So what should you do? Well, you should do what the rest of us non-specialists do: you should place credence in the work of people who actually do have the competence to understand this stuff. In other words, the scientists who are doing the work. You should basically stay away from sites like AiG, because those guys most emphatically are not doing any actual research. They either honestly don't know what they're doing, and are leading you astray, or they do know what they're doing and are counting on you not knowing what they're doing, and leading you astray.

If the AiG guys really were doing any research, they'd be publishing it (and I mean in peer-reviewed scientific journals, not on some website intended for naive non-specialists).

In science, dishonest research is always eventually uncovered. The history of science is littered with examples, and there's even an annual prize awarded—the IgNobel Prize—for the most ludicrously wrong research (awarded by the Journal of Irreproducible Results).

On the other hand, bad, wrong, dishonest, deceitful claims are never retracted by groups like AiG. Dembski's another example. His work has been refuted again and again and again, and yet somehow he never issues retractions.

Date: 2006/05/05 11:08:29, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,15:40)

Why do I need to come up with something "new" when you keep providing the SAME OLD tired argument for gay "marriage?"

Here's the difference, Thordaddy. My argument is simple, makes sense, and is relatively uncontroversial (other than to those who wish to prevent gay people from marrying): that people should be able to marry whoever they want to marry.

Your arguments, on the other hand, despite the fact that they've all been demolished, over and over again, have nothing new to say about the subject that hasn't been said a million times before: collapsing civilizations, sheep weddings, pedophile priests,  and anal sex.

And please, for the love of god, don't repeat them. We've heard them all until we're sick to death of them. They have no more merit the tenth, or fiftieth, or hundredth time you said them than they did the first time around.

Date: 2006/05/05 11:39:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,16:17)
First, you FALSELY claim ONCE AGAIN blahblahblahblahblahblahblah

Didn't I tell you to stop repeating your inanities?

What part of "stop" is giving you trouble?

Date: 2006/05/05 12:15:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,16:50)
Perhaps, you could put a positive argument forward for gay "marriage" that doesn't consist of ericmurphy's argument that gays want it and therefore they should get it.

Can you do that or are you secure in demolishing straw-men?

Why should Steve have to come up with an argument in favor of gay marriage when you've never put up any kind of  argument to oppose it, Thordaddy?

Normally, you have to put up your own strawman arguments to knock down, but Thordaddy puts up our strawman arguments for us.

Date: 2006/05/05 15:09:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,18:45)

I put up 6 rationales for opposing the state sanctioning of gay "marriages" and only Eldin had the cajones to respond to each one even though his responses, no doubt, left him more puzzled than before about his own belief system.

Thordaddy, go back and read this thread. Every single one of your "rationales" for opposing gay marriage has been demolished. And yet you continue to advance them.

Normally, even if someone doesn't retract a demolished argument, they stop mentioning it. But not you. You keep bringing it up, as if the sheer volume of repetition will somehow nullify its destruction.

Given that all of your rationales opposing gay marriage have been obliterated, what difference does it make if there are no arguments in favor of it? The default position would still be to favor it.

Date: 2006/05/05 15:21:08, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,20:13)

Could you provide those demolishing arguments as opposed to just asserting them and assuming we could end it there?

What is your demolishing argument...?

RTFT, Thordaddy.

I'm not going to repeat the same endlessly-repeated demolitions of your same tired old arguments when it's already been done a million times on this thread. Why do you think everyone is so exasperated with you? You've been beaten to death with a shovel, and you don't even realize it.

Read The Fucking Thread, Thordaddy.

Date: 2006/05/05 16:01:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,20:28)

And you still can't even provide ONE demolishing argument instead of JUST ASSERTING these phantom demolishing arguments over and over again.

Thordaddy, I'm not going to go back and cut and paste all the obliterations of your arguments that have already been posted. And besides, what would be the point? You didn't get them the first time around; there's essentially no chance you'd get them this time.

Answer me this,

If gender is an illegitimate criteria for defining marriage, HOW are the numbers within a union or the relatedness within that union (the ONLY standing criteria left if gay "marriage" is sanctioned) LEGITIMATE criteria for defining marriage [b]under the "equal rights" and tolerance argument?

We've already been over this a million times before, and I'm sick of replying to this stupidity, especially when every time you bring it up, you act like it's for the first time. What are you, Leonard Shelby?

Why would I waste my time reposting the same rejoinder the same stupid argument I begged you to stop bringing up about 50 posts ago? It didn't penetrate your rock-like skull then, so why would I assume it would penetrate your rock-like skull now? If you would go back and actually read this thread, you'd see this same stupid question has been answered at least a dozen times.

Date: 2006/05/05 16:45:22, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,21:06)
I asked,

If gender is an illegitimate criteria for defining marriage, HOW are the numbers within a union or the relatedness within that union (the ONLY standing criteria left if gay "marriage" is sanctioned) LEGITIMATE criteria for defining marriage under the "equal rights" and tolerance argument?

Give it up, Thordaddy. You can either go back and read the countless times this very same question has been answered, over and over again…or you can keep asking it. But you've gotten all the answers you're getting.

Date: 2006/05/05 17:28:06, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,22:22)

What's the answer?

Just type it out in your next response INSTEAD of typing how the answer is obvious and YOU REFUSE to tell me what the answer is?

I told you where to look. The answer is there. If you're too lazy to look, then the answer can't be too important to you.

And by the way, how is an argument against more than two people being married an argument against two people getting married?

Just curious.

Date: 2006/05/05 18:50:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 05 2006,22:37)
But, an argument against more than two people getting state-sanction for their "marriage" is either discriminatory and intolerant or an appeal to tradition.

Which argument DO YOU STAND BY?

The question wasn't for you, Thordaddy. I already know you don't have an answer.

Date: 2006/05/05 19:04:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 05 2006,23:18)
I'm not asking anyone to teach me to BE a molecular biologist.  I'm just trying to find the truth about certain biological realities by relying on supposed experts on both sides of the controversy.

But therein lies the rub, Dave. In order to evaluate the evidence in favor of evolution, if you're not going to take the word of the scientists doing the research, you need to be a molecular biologist.

Or, you could do some research into the backgrounds of the people making the claims. If you're looking at, e.g., DNA evidence connecting humans and chimps, you're going to want to read stuff written by people who work in the relevant field. Especially people who have left a long paper trail of peer-reviewed articles in their field of expertise. One thing you'll quickly find is that the people with AiG and the Discovery Institute have not left such a paper trail, at least not in the relevant fields. A prime example would be William Dembski. Demski has a graduate degree in mathematics (which is the only remotely relevant field; his other degrees are in philosophy and religion), but he's published virtually no peer-reviewed articles in mathematics, and none in the field in which he is supposedly an expert: information theory. Dembski has absolutely no formal training in biology, which is why little he says about the field has much credibility.

Granted, there's more to science than credentials. But when you have one person, e.g., Michael Behe, who has published virtually nothing of note in peer-reviewed articles on the topic of "irreducible complexity" contradicted by people who publish a dozen or more papers a year in the relevant fields, it should be obvious who has more credibility.

 I think people on both sides are necessarily a little biased toward their own viewpoint, but I trust that each strives for the truth as best they know how.

I doubt it. Members of the DI and AiG have been caught again and again in flagrant misrepresentations of the research of others, while at the same time performing virtually no research of their own. You can't simply do a "he said, she said" balance between the statements of evolutionary biologists and ID/Creationists.

Date: 2006/05/06 14:18:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I'd also like to add, Dave (not to make you feel persecuted or anything) that you started this thread with the claim that you would provide evidence for (at minimum) three contentions:

1. The Bible is literally inerrant;
2. The earth is not billions of years old, but only thousands of years old; and
3. Evolution cannot explain the origin of species.

So far, I can only point out the obvious: you have presented no, as in none, as in nada, as in the big goose egg, evidence to support any of these contentions. You've presented several thousand words arguing that the evidence showing that none of your contentions is true is not credible, but your arguments haven't held water. So it looks to me like you've set out trying to run a marathon with your shoes tied together. You haven't presented any evidence supporting even one of your contentions, let alone proving any one of them.

So. With all that in mind, would you like to start out with an easy one? Can you present evidence that the earth is only thousands of years old?

Date: 2006/05/06 14:22:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
I hereby nominate this for the post of the week award:

Quote (Faid @ May 06 2006,07:40)
Great... After asking his opponents to explain their arguments to him again and again and again, thordeaf now asks them to also explain each other's arguments.

Congrats all around, Faid. Buy that man a beer…

Date: 2006/05/06 17:06:43, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 06 2006,21:27)
Eric--  Have you even read this thread at all?  Here's the first thing I said I would discuss ...

A. There is a God -- My hypothesis proposes that there is a Super Intelligent, Incredibly Powerful Being -- I choose to call him God -- who has knowledge of scientific laws far more advanced than anything ever discovered by 21st Century humans.  These scientific laws are so powerful that this Being can literally "speak" material things into existence and destroy things with a simple command.  This Being lives "outside of time" and can view what we call "the future" and "the past" with equal ease.

Dave, I said a long time ago that if you are trying to convince people that there is a god, you're wasting your time. Half the people here (or more) probably already believe that there is a god. Everyone here probably thinks that it is outside the realm of science to either prove or disprove there is a god.

If you're planning on proving that God exists before you move onto any of the other assertions in your hypothesis, I suggest you've got it exactly backwards, and element "A" of your hypothesis should be the last thing you attempt to prove. Otherwise, you're assuming what you're attempting to prove.

I don't think I even touch on the things you mention anywhere in my Hypothesis, correct me please if I am wrong.

You're wrong. Your hypothesis has 16 elements, labeled "A" through "P." The inerrancy of the Bible is implied or assumed by elements C, D, E, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, O, and P. The young age of the earth is implied or assumed by elements C, D, H, I, K, M, and P. While none of the elements of your hypothesis directly touch on attempting to disprove the reality of evolution, most of your posts so far have, which leads me to wonder what you mean when you say you're not planning on addressing the issue.

I do believe those things, but they are not covered in what I said I was going to address.  Maybe I will cover them after this project.

This statement leads me to wonder if you've read this thread.

Do you have any refutation of my evidence for Point 1? [sic]

Positing an all-powerful creator god ab initio is not a "hypothesis." It's an assumption. If you think anyone here is going to try to "prove" there is no god, you're mistaken. I doubt it's possible even in principle to "prove" there is no god.

If you're not going to try to prove (or at least provide evidence for) the three propositions I've listed, everyone is going to lose interest in this thread very quickly.

Also, I pointed out many posts ago that you claimed you had evidence to support these three assertions, and you did not object. Have you since changed your mind?

Date: 2006/05/06 17:17:00, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (PuckSR @ May 06 2006,21:15)
But as i stated previously...the arguments for the difficulty of implementation can also be made for gay marriage....
The complication of something shouldnt be considered when disputing the merit of it from a civil liberties perspective.

Puck, one thing you need to keep in mind here is Thordaddy's seemingly principal objection to gay marriage, which if I untie the knots in his reasoning seems to be that if we allow gay people to marry, we have to allow everyone and everything to marry, from Thordaddy and his five brothers to Thordaddy and his pet sheep to Thordaddy and his pet rocks.

Stephen's (and, I believe, Flint's) point is that if gay people were allowed to marry (I'm picturing Thordaddy popping an aneurysm as he screams, "but gay people already can marry!!!!!"), virtually nothing would have to change in the statutes and regulations regarding marriage as they are currently constituted. While I personally have no real objections to virtually any sort of civil arrangements between individuals capable of giving consent and being bound by a contract, restricting civil marriage to couples seems a reasonable compromise for the short term, at least until people almost as irrational as Thordaddy have gotten over themselves.

Date: 2006/05/07 05:47:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 07 2006,05:27)
Oh... I see... gay "marriage" should be sanctioned because it really wouldn't add any new layers to the bureaucracy.

And I thought gay "marriage" should be sanctioned because it was a matter of "equal rights," tolerance and our progressive moralism?

You guys are either disingenuous or clueless?

Thordaddy, do you read anything before you start typing?

Your ability to ask the same questions, over and over again, after they've been answered over and over again, is truly impressive. I used to think your head was made of cement, but now I realize it must be made of a far denser substance.

Neutronium, perhaps? (Look it up, Thordaddy.)

Date: 2006/05/08 07:54:40, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 08 2006,10:59)
Out of answers and energy, perhaps?  I'm starting to make sense and you are frustrated?  Maybe evolutionary explanations are not so great as they once seemed to you?  But you still want to hang onto them because you have your life invested in them?

Hmmmm ....

Dave, the reason people are becoming frustrated with you is because most of the questions you have, which you seem to view as huge problems for evolutionary biology, are in fact a result of your limited understanding of evolutionary biology. Many if not most of the questions you are asking are things that would be answered if you simply had a better understanding of the topic at hand.

Wouldn't you be a little frustrated teaching someone how to fly if they kept asking how it was possible for planes to fly when planes weigh more than air does? After a while, wouldn't you just tell them to go out and buy a few textbooks on physics, or a biography on Bournoulli?

Date: 2006/05/08 09:35:33, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 08 2006,13:36)
None of this discussion here changes the simple FACT that ...


and ...



Dave, we're as sure that humans and apes have a common ancestor as we're as sure of anything. The evidence of common ancestry is ironclad.

The fact that we don't have a perfect, mutation-by-mutation account of how and when humans and apes diverged from a common ancestor is due to two things: not all organisms leave fossils; and DNA doesn't fossilize.

No one will ever be able to prove whether common descent is as a result of natural laws which happened by accident of by the will of God, but such questions are beyond the realm of science.

That you don't believe the evidence is conclusive is largely due to your ignorance of the science, not due to the weakness of that science. If you were to take a course in evolutionary biology, and were honest enough to set aside your religious objections to the idea of humans and other apes sharing a common ancestor, you would have no doubts about its reality.

Now ... my BIG problem is this ...

Why are we standing up in science classes and teaching kids that Ape to Human Evolution is a FACT?

Because it is a fact, Dave (well, except  that you're stating it wrong: it's not "ape to human evolution," it's "humans share a common ancestry with other apes") No one who actually has the training to evaluate the evidence doubts that. Do you honestly believe that all paleontologists who work in the field are deluded? What makes you think you are a better judge of the evidence than the people who have devoted their lives to studying it?

This is dishonest and potentially damaging to society for any number of debatable reasons.  What we SHOULD be doing is telling them BOTH THEORIES--DESIGN and NO DESIGN and clearly let them know they are UNPROVEN THEORIES and it is up to YOU and YOUR PARENTS to decide.

No we should not. Creationism is not a "theory" because it has no explicative power (saying "goddidit" doesn't explain anything), makes no testable predictions, and is unfalsifiable in principle. It's not a matter of "he said, she said." The only "parents" who are qualified to decide between the two are those who have the technical expertise to evaluate the evidence. You may think that's elitist, but it's the way of the world. How many parents do you think are competent to evaluate the evidence supporting superstring theory and that supporting loop quantum gravity?

My tax dollars are funding this education system just like yours are and I have a different opinion on something that is an unprovable fact in either direction.  Why is my opinion shut out and vilified?  Is this country supposed to be a representative democracy or is it not?  Last time I checked IT WAS.

Dave, neither superstring theory nor loop quantum gravity are "provable." Do you object to one being taught over the other at state-funded universities? No? Could that be because neither one impinges on your religious beliefs the way evolution does?

Your objections to evolutionary theory have everything to do with your relgious beliefs and nothing whatsoever to do with the strength of the evidence. That has become abundantly plain throughout every thread you've started.

Speaking of which, how are you doing with supporting your three assertions? Despite the fact that you stated you're not prepared to address the impossibility of evolution, you're spending most of your energy trying to support that very assertion. It's plain at this point that your biggest objection to evolution is that evolution plainly implies that your ancestors at one point were ape-like? Would you care to explain exactly why that is?

Date: 2006/05/08 12:36:18, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Eldin @ May 08 2006,15<!--emo&:0)

What refutation?  I still haven't seen a positive argument for gay "marriage" outside of the mantra...

If they WANT it, they should get it!

No, that's not it. What is being said here is "If they want it, if no one is the worse of if they got it, they should get it." You have tried unsuccesfully to overthrow the 'no one is the worse of concern' but have not given any arguments.

Eldin, I'd just like to point out that we've all been through these points with Thordaddy a million times, with precious little to show for it. Thordaddy is seemingly incapable of understanding that his arguments have been obliterated again and again, and is reduced to simply bringing up the same points over and over, no matter how many times they've been shown to be without merit. We're all frankly becoming exhausted by the repitition.

At this point we've all pretty much taken to just making fun of Thordaddy's inanity, because responding to his "arguments" is no more fruitful than arguing with the umpire in a re-run of a baseball game on the TV.

Date: 2006/05/09 05:52:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 09 2006,10:21)
And why shouldn't it be if evolution is true?  It seems that the ToE would actually PREDICT continual brain sophistication (oops ... there's one of those evil "directional" words) ... er, shall we say, er ... I'm at a loss ... anyway ... ToE should predict continual brain sophistication so that at some point there may actually be some kind of Super Homo Sapiens species who might be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, play 100 simultaneous chess games, memorize large books in minutes, etc, etc.

As an engineer, Dave, you should know this isn't true. Living organisms, like anything else that uses energy, are a result of trade-offs. The human brain already uses such a large percentage of the body's resources that it's unlikely to ever get much bigger than it is.

As a bicyclist, I know first-hand the trade-offs involved in building muscle mass. It is very expensive to maintain greater muscle mass than needed. If I take two weeks off from riding, I can see the atrophy of muscles, and it takes a lot of hard work to get back where I was.

The abilities you're talking about (leaping tall buildings—come on Dave; as an engineer you should know the type of development that would be required) would be selected against because the benefits would be vastly outweighed by disadvantages of devoting the immense resources required to achieve them.

Dave, sometimes your understanding of evolution seems very cartoonish. I really, really think you should read a few good books on evolutionary topics aimed at a general readership. You keep making elementary mistakes in thinking about evolution that take thousands of words on our part to correct. You could save us all a lot of time if you did so.

Date: 2006/05/09 06:04:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 09 2006,10:21)
How can you hope to find any flaws in something of which you have no understanding?

My 1st grader can easily grasp the truth that Apes are Apes and Humans are Humans and that they probably HAVE ALWAYS BEEN just that, and probably WILL ALWAYS BE just that.  It doesn't take very much understanding of biology.  The reason you don't grasp this is beyond me.  Maybe too much ToE indocrination in higher education?

This is the part I don't get, Dave, and makes me wonder how intellectually honest you're being here.

We show you compelling evidence that humans and chimps share a common ancestor. You first dispute the evidence by reference to 30-year old studies, but eventually concede the point when we show you that your objections are meritless. You appear to accept the fact that humans have one chromosome less than chimps due to chromosomal fusion, and that identical errors in human and chimp genes are strong evidence of common ancestry.

But here we are, a few days later, and now you're back to insisting that humans aren't even related to apes (despite the fact that humans are apes). Are we now going to have to assume that points you conceded a week ago are no longer conceded? Does this mean we're going to have to go over the same ground again and again with you, à la Thordaddy? Because that will get old very quickly.

Date: 2006/05/09 07:43:54, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 09 2006,10:21)
(1) Humans are Humans
(2) Apes are Apes
(3) No one has observed Apelike ancestors becoming Humans in their lifetimes and no one ever will.
(4) Fossil evidence is dicey at best
(5) Genetic similarities are striking, but can just as easily be explained by Common Design (probably better when we really get into it) as by Common Descent
(6) Creos and Evos have strong and opposite opinions about something which cannot be proven because NO ONE CAN OBSERVE IT HAPPENING.  Contrast this with Gravity, etc.
(7) Evos are the "rulers" in academia right now and they like to call the Creos "non-scientific"
(8) There's hope for academia in spite of this thanks to courageous people like Morris, Dembski, Meyer, Denton, Behe and apparently a growing number of good scientists (over 500 signatories so far on a Darwin Dissent Document)

I need to get back to my main Creator God Hypothesis today if I can.  So do me a favor and just agree with me quickly so we can get on with it, would you?   :-)

Let's see what Dave would have learned if he hadn't been blinded by ideology:

(1) Humans are apes
(2) Apes are, well, apes too
(3) No one will ever observe anything evolving into humans a) because evolution doesn't work that way, and b) evolution is not observable on the timescale of an individual life
(4) Fossil evidence is as solid as any other type of physical evidence
(5) Common design has no explicative power, because either a) without knowing the capabilities of the designer it's impossible to know what the designer can or cannot design; or b) if a designer's capabilties are infinite, there is no way to know whether something was designed or only appears that way
(6) science is not in the business of "proving" anything. "Proof" is the province of mathematics, not science. On the other hand, the theory of evolution is equally as established within the scientific community as general relativity or quantum physics. The only "controversy" regarding the theory of evolution is outside of the scientific community.
(7) Creationists are not "scientists" because they do not practice science, they practice religion.
(8) The works of people like Morris, Dembski, Meyer, Denton, and Behe have been thoroughly and comprehensively discredited in the scientific community.
(9) There are more scientists named "Steve" who believe in the accuracy of evolutionary theory than there are signatories of the Darwin Dissent Document.

Yes, Dave, you really do need to get back to the Creator God Hypothesis. So far you have come up with zero evidence to support it.

Date: 2006/05/09 07:56:02, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 09 2006,10:21)
Speaking of which, how are you doing with supporting your three assertions? Eric is referring to these ...
1. The Bible is literally inerrant;
2. The earth is not billions of years old, but only thousands of years old; and
3. Evolution cannot explain the origin of species.

FIRST, these are not assertions that I made in my Creator God Hypothesis although I heartily agree with them all and they all have mountains of evidence to support them which I hope we can get into.  The reason I did not make them in my Hypothesis is that there are more important things to show evidence for first.   :-)

Dave, I don't understand why you keep claiming you did not make these assertions in your Creator God Hypothesis. You most certainly did, as anyone who reads your first post on that thread can see.

You claim you have mountains of evidence to support these assertions, and you've been saying that for weeks now, but so far you have not provided a single smidgen of evidence to support any assertion you have made. You've spent most of your time unsuccessfully trying to rebut evidence in support of the Theory of Evolution, and at this rate I wonder if we'll ever see any of your purported "evidence." You're beginning to remind me not just of Thordaddy but also of Mr. Paley.

Date: 2006/05/09 08:05:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
As a side note, Dave, I'm curious as to why you have all this heartburn about the Theory of Evolution, about which you appear to know almost nothing, but you don't seem to have any problems with, say, Quantum Theory, about which I'm guessing you also know almost nothing.

The predictions that quantum theory makes are vastly more absurd, incomprehensible, and counterintuitive than anything in the Theory of Evolution. Why do you not have similar problems with quantum theory? Could it be that quantum theory does not challenge your religious beliefs in the same direct way as you obviously think the Theory of Evolution does?

After reading your posts for a couple of weeks, it's become clear to me that essentially all your objections to the Theory of Evolution have nothing to do with the strength of the evidence supporting it. Rather, your objections to it are based entirely on the fact that numerous elements of evolutionary theory directly contradict what you have read in the Bible.

I know you'll deny this, but I think the other readers of your threads can draw their own conclusions on the matter.

Date: 2006/05/09 08:35:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Seven Popes @ May 09 2006,13:10)
Eric, all his quotes are from AIG.  He doesn't even want to read an opposing view.  He comes barreling in here, hyperventilating with excitement, ready to tell off all 'dem science folks.  And got blasted.  AND WENT RIGHT BACK TO AIG.  Wacky! ???

Yeah, I have the feeling that eventually AFDave's threads will degenerate to where they're indistinguishable from Thordaddy's threads. He'll keep repeating the same tired arguments over and over again, while we'll wearily repeat the same devastating rebuttals of them over and over again.

Gets tedious after a while.

Date: 2006/05/09 09:29:23, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (jeannot @ May 09 2006,14:14)
How do Vitamin C falsify common design?
I'm not aware about this case, do you have a link?

The busted Vitamin C gene that humans and chimps does not, of course, "falsify" common design (since common design is, after all, unfalsifiable), but it does make it look pretty dubious.

It would be hard to argue that a busted gene would be "designed" into an organism. If God took the basic chimp design, and modified it create humans, wouldn't he take the time to first fix the busted gene? Or is God just congenitally lazy?

For a guy who can create everything from electrons to galactic superclusters, fixing one little transcription error seems like it would have been pretty trivial. Kind of like Windows, where you see the same bugs cropping up in versions of Windows ten years later.

Or maybe Windows programmers' flaws are evidence that God created man in his own image? Who knows?

Date: 2006/05/11 05:23:12, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 09 2006,18:35)
In short, there's absolutely no reason, financial or otherwise, for this case to go unheard. Well, maybe one.....

…because the "liberal" press is hoping whites will remain unafraid of blacks, so blacks can kill all the white people?

Where are you going with this, Bill? You claim to have uncovered a crime. Could you favor us with your interpretation as to motive?

Date: 2006/05/11 05:59:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,09:21)
Now I have read both articles in their entirety, but before Dr. Max even gets into the details of gene "mistakes", there is one very large item jumps out at me. The analogy seems very clever, but there is a huge assumption that is made which I consider to be invalid and to me this destroys the whole analogy.

Nope. You're completely missing the point of the analogy, Dave.

Suppose you've got two samples of text in a language you don't understand. Finnish, say. Both samples are about the same length, say, 20 pages, and have a similar number of paragraphs, sentences, etc. They look like they're probably different versions of the same story. You don't understand the language at all, but you see a lot of the same words, in roughly the same places in various paragraphs. Is one a copy of the other? At this point, you don't know. They could be different versions of the same story, say two newspaper articles about the same event.

Then, you notice a paragraph of about 400 characters that's identical in both samples. It's not in the same place in both texts, but it is absolutely identical down to the individual character. You even note that at the end of the fifth sentence, there's an extra period. You have no idea what any of the text means, but is there any doubt, at this point, that one sample was in fact at least partially copied from the other? Is there any possible doubt that both articles share a common provenance?

You don't need to know anything whatsoever about the language to make this determination, Dave. And it is far from true that biologists know nothing at all about the genetic code. In fact, they may not know what all the "paragraphs" (i.e., genes) in the genetic code mean, but they sure know what the "words" (i.e., codons) mean.

Date: 2006/05/11 06:58:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,11:20)
Then, you notice a paragraph of about 400 characters that's identical in both samples. It's not in the same place in both texts, but it is absolutely identical down to the individual character. You even note that at the end of the fifth sentence, there's an extra period. You have no idea what any of the text means, but is there any doubt, at this point, that one sample was in fact at least partially copied from the other? Is there any possible doubt that both articles share a common provenance?

Are you saying that this is what has been found?  I did not understand that from the findings of the authors below ...

Yeah. Look at the cytochrome c gene.

Date: 2006/05/11 08:20:14, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,12:59)
Have you waded through the supposed scenario for how a flagellum supposedly could have evolved on Talk Origins?

I have and it seems to me to be First Rate Alice in Wonderland!  The author proposes this and that and this and that and goes on and on proposing a myriad of things for which I can see absolutely no basis for believing it could possibly happen except for wishful, hopeful thinking.

Dave, these arguments boil down to what Dawkins calls "arguments from psersonal incredulity." You, Dave, simply cannot believe that something like a bacterial flagellum could have evolved.

Do you think that amounts to "evidence" of anything?

Also, you stated a few posts ago that your hypothesis had nothing to do with the impossibility of evolution. Nevertheless, the bulk of your posts on this and other threads discuss that very topic.

You also claimed that your hypothesis does not argue for biblical inerrancy or a young earth. Given that your actions contradict your statements, when can we expect to see actual evidence for biblical inerrancy or a young earth? Or, for that matter, evidence that evolution is impossible? Because so far, you haven't presented any "evidence" of anything.

Date: 2006/05/11 08:29:38, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,12:18)
Can you really with a straight face rule out the possiblity of an Intelligent Designer (even a super alien or a super computer in space) ??

This seems like a massive logical mistake to me.

Dave, it's not our job to prove that God doesn't exist. I've already stated that it is in all likelihood impossible to prove any such thing.

Your job is to prove to us that God does exist. After all, isn't that what your hypothesis claims?

This is exactly how basically all creationists work. They'll make some outlandish claim (e.g., it's impossible for evolution to work), without any evidence whatsoever, and then challenge the scientific community to prove them wrong.

How about you try to persuade us that your hypothesis is correct by providing evidence persuading us that it is correct, rather than just stating it and challenging us to prove that it's wrong? That's not really how science works.

Date: 2006/05/11 08:38:47, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,12:40)
The burden of proof for Common Descent seems to me to be much more difficult that the burden of proof on Common Design.


Do a little research into nested hierarchies, Dave.

Yes, it's true, nested hierarchies don't prove God doesn't exists. Nothing proves God doesn't exist.

Date: 2006/05/11 12:29:03, Link
Author: ericmurphy
This is the only thing in your posts that makes any sense, Thordaddy:

Quote (thordaddy @ May 11 2006,17:16)
I don't get it?

Date: 2006/05/11 12:33:21, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 11 2006,17<!--emo&:0)
If a child is raised in Catholic family, would you say he/she has no more chance of being Catholic than one raised in a Muslim family?

God, thordaddy.

If a male child is raised by a lesbian couple, does he have a greater chance of growing up to be a man, or a woman?

You are, indeed, the king of the non-sequitors.

Date: 2006/05/11 14:06:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,18:49)
OK, Francis ...

(but it looks designed)etc. etc. etc.

So Dave, is this the sum and substance of your argument?

"It looks designed, therefore it was designed."

Aside from being unoriginal (Behe said the same thing at Dover), it barely qualifies as an "argument."

And while we're at it: if we accept your argument, and we want to know how, say, whales appeared on earth, should we bother trying to find out? Is there any point to researching the question?

Or what about anything else about existence? Is there any point in asking how, or why, questions? Isn't the answer always the same?

Date: 2006/05/11 15:08:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Something to think about, Dave.

Let's suppose, for the moment, that life (and, presumably, the rest of the universe) is the way it is because "God Did It." Well, presumably God (or whatever else you wish to call an "intelligent designer") used some sort of methodology, or technique, or praxis, for everything he did. The only other way He could have accomplished the creation of the universe, even in principle, is by basically "willing it into existence" (maybe just by thinking about it really hard?).

If we assume, for the sake of argument, that science isn't a complete waste of time (and, based on its explicative power over the past 500 years, I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue otherwise), then we can exclude "willing it into existence" as a possibility worth studying (at least, for the foreseeable future). Otherwise, there is no explanation, even in principle, for how the universe got to be the way it is, science is a complete waste of time, and scientists should take up needlepoint.

So, even if you assume that God (or, okay, if you want to be pedantic about it, an "intelligent designer"), created life, the universe, and everything through some sort of methodology, a scientist's task (whether that scientist believes in Darwinian Evolution or Intelligent Design) becomes trying to discover a working model of that methodology.  The task remains exactly the same whether the science in question is Darwinian Evolution, or Intelligent Design. And since Darwinian Evolution already has a working theory as to how that methodology works, and Intelligent Design doesn't, the best you can say about Intelligent Design is that it's at least 140 years behind Darwinian Evolution.

If you assume, a priori, that life was not designed—that it evolved as a result of unguided and unpredictable events—then you can inquire into the natural processes by which life originated and subsequently evolved. If, on the other hand, you assume that a) life was "designed," and also b) that the putative designer's methods are at least in principle amenable to scientific inquiry, your job is no easier than the job of an evolutionary biologist who discounts the possibility of design. You've still got to determine the methods by which life's designer managed to implement its designs, which is no different from determining the methods unguided happenstance would use to accomplish the same thing. In essence, you're doing exactly the same thing that scientists who discount the possibility of design are doing, except you don't have even the skeleton of a working hypothesis as to how your putative "designer" implements his (or its) designs. An appeal to intelligent design has accomplished nothing, explained nothing, and not gotten us any closer to figuring out how life evolved on earth. Therefore, Intelligent Design is not a useful avenue for scientific inquiry, or certainly is no more useful than Darwinian Evolution that relies on unguided happenstance for evolution.

And, if you assume a priori an intelligent designer whose methods are in principle unknowable, the inquiry ends. If God designed it, and God's methods are unknowable, then what else is there to say about it? Again, this assumption is not a useful avenue for scientific inquiry. If you maintain that an intelligent designer's methods are not the proper subject of scientific inquiry, then you're not really talking about science, are you? What you're talking about is sounding increasingly less like science and more like religion.

Date: 2006/05/11 15:16:30, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 11 2006,19:16)
Look, can we agree that massive immigration serves the interests of both liberals (gotta overturn the Evil West) and big bidness ("Those furriners sure work cheap, don't they?")? If you grant that, then it becomes clear that the media can't let Joe Sixpack get restless about the potential consequences of massive, uncontrolled immigration, which may include massive, uncontrolled violence against the native population. And since whites are responsible for the sorry state of___(fill in the blank), they make a better target for violence than anyone else. Given enough stories of minority-on-majority violence, even the dullest citizen may begin connecting the dots. And our plutocracy just can't abide that.

Is that really your fear, Bill? Massive immigration will lead to massive, uncontrolled violence against the native population? Is that what this is all about? You're really afraid of the brown hordes killing all us white folk?

Wow. Talk about much ado about nothing…

Date: 2006/05/11 17:10:36, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ May 11 2006,21<!--emo&:0)

that's my impression of eric murphy.

Fortunately, I was able to copy and paste that big long post from a letter I'd written to a different creationist.

It's not like their arguments ever change.

Date: 2006/05/11 17:21:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
No, although I don't discount a massive crime increase, a continued erosion of liberties, and a further decline in core Western values. And yes, a hugely disproportionate number of those victims will be white.

I don't know why you'd expect crime to go up, since it's been going down more or less steadily since the 1980s, during which time illegal immigration certainly hasn't gone down. Seems like hardly something to worry about, let alone get all up in arms about.
But I'm sure you can set those paranoid loonies straight -  right, Eric? ???

All by myself? Doubtful. I can't even persuade you.

Date: 2006/05/12 08:16:23, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (PuckSR @ May 12 2006,12:29)
Is a homosexual someone who does not feel a sexual attraction to the opposite sex?
Is a homosexual someone who does feel a sexual attraction to the same sex?

It is this is a question to everyone....

No. A lot of gender identity comes from how people view themselves, not how they fit into some particular cubbyhole. As usual, Thordaddy sees life as a lot more black and white than it really is.

Living in San Francisco, and having had numerous gay and bisexual friends of both genders, I imagine I have a better grasp of the concept than most Americans. I can say with some authority that there are many gay men, who live an outwardly very gay lifestyle, who identify as gay, and who even an ignoramous like Thordaddy could probably identify from across the street as gay, who nevertheless have some sexual interest in women, and who occasionally have sex with women.

Also, there are many straight-identified men, who live a straight lifestyle, are married with children, and who no one would ever suspect of being gay, who are not above an occasional gay sexual encounter.

You could claim that technically, both groups of people are bisexual. But you'd be wrong. Bisexuality is a fundamentally different orientation.

Also, peoples' sexual orientation can often change over the course of their lives. Whether this is due to societal pressures is of course not known, but I have many women friends who have gone through periods where they are mostly attracted to women and later become more attracted to men, or vice versa. I have noted that it is much more common for notionally bisexual women to eventually become more heterosexual than it is for bisexual men to become more heterosexual. At least based on my experience, bisexual people are more likely eventually to settle on being attracted to men than to women (i.e., bisexual women often move in the direction of heterosexuality, and bisexual men move in the direction of homosexuality).

The point of all this is that, as Kinsey pointed out over half a century ago, human sexuality is vastly more complicated than a male/female/heterosexual/homosexual categorization would imply. Human sexuality isn't just points on a line; it's points on a plane, or maybe even in  higher-dimensional space.

This is not a subject I imagine Thordaddy will be able to relate to.

Date: 2006/05/12 08:52:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (stevestory @ May 12 2006,13:35)
If you're talking about the people within a particular social context it might be useful to use some different definitions, though.

As a practical matter, I think people are who they think they are when it comes to sexual identity. I have known a few women who consider themselves gay, but I've seen them more often in relationships with men than with women. A good friend of mine who is clearly gay (her honey is currently serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. military) spent five years in a relationship with a man; her longest relationship to date.

Does this mean these people are delusional? Or lying? I don't think so. Gender is a complex, multidimensional issue. Should we define a man as "gay" (or bisexual) if he's ever, even once had sex with another man? That doesn't seem useful. Should we describe a woman as "bisexual" only if she's exactly equally attracted to men and to women? That seems a little restrictive, and would leave virtually no bisexual people. On the other hand, if we describe someone as "bisexual" if they have an attraction, however slight, to someone of his or her own sex as well as the opposite sex, then almost everyone becomes bisexual.

The point is, everyone is on a continuum in terms of whom they're attracted to, and the differences between "gay," "bisexual," and "straight" are necessarily arbitrary. I believe that in a perfect society such distinctions would be unnecessary and meaningless, but currently, those definitions will probably change depending on context. Someone could be straight in one context, bisexual in another, and homosexual in a third.

Date: 2006/05/12 10:12:50, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Well, this won't be the first time I've pointed this out, but evidently it bears repeating: AFDave simply is not competent even to engage in discussions on these topics (I think most people here will agree that if someone believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old, he or she is simply not competent to discuss any scientific topic).

But Dave seems to believe that, by dint of a few trips to the AiG website and a few quick Google searches, he can get up to speed. Well (in the immortal words of Malcolm Reynolds), he can't.

I'm not a trained scientist (not by a long shot), but I have read extensively in the sciences on my own over the past 30 years or so, and have at least a layman's understanding of most disciplines (chemistry is probably my biggest weakness). In all that reading, I've come to an understanding of and an appreciation for how scientific evidence from widely disparate scientific disciplines is mutually confirmatory and reinforcing.

For example, let's look at the earth's age. Dave's Bible tells him the earth is 6,000 years old. But there's no evidence from any other area of knowledge that confirms or reinforces that belief. On the other hand, the true age of the earth (4.6 billion years, plus or minus a hundred million or so) is confirmed from almost every branch of science: astronomy, cosmology, geology, chemistry, physics, biology, paleontology. It's not just that there's a mountain of evidence for the earth's age. More important, in fact, is that all that evidence, coming from multiple independent directions (and there's no inherent reason why any of it should converge on any particular value), points to the same value, within a few percent.

I told Dave a while ago that if he wants to disprove, e.g., the earth's > 10^9-year age, he can't just find flaws in a few pieces of evidence here and there. He'd have to comprehensively refute as much as 90% of it, because the remaining 10% is probably enough to clinch the argument. Given Dave's overall scientific ignorance, he doesn't have a prayer of doing that. Which should be obvious, given that the overwhelming scientific consensus (the opinions of people who actually are competent to evaluate the evidence) is that the earth is close to six orders of magnitude older than the Bible says it is.

This is the part Dave doesn't get. That, and the fact that you can't just become an instant expert in some area of science by reading a few articles on the web.

Date: 2006/05/12 10:34:07, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Not with a bang, but with a whimper, Bill.

It seems like this whole thread has basically come down to a pretty weak argument in favor of a peculiar flavor of xenophobia. Peculiar, given that xenophobia seems particularly inapplicable in a country composed almost entirely of immigrant populations.

Given that I live in a city where caucasians are in a distinct minority, and probably well over half of the city is composed of first- or second-generation immigrants, I can say with fair confidence that Bill's fears are poorly-founded. San Francisco doesn't seem to have an unusually-high crime rate for cities of its size, despite its huge immigrant population. I should know; I live smack downtown, the part of the city which in areas of the country where immigrants are far less visible, white flight is at its most obvious.

Could it be that Bill has it exactly backwards?

Also, I still haven't seen a persuasive argument as to why, exactly, the "liberal" mainstream media should be castigated for its perceived failure to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria.

Date: 2006/05/12 11:26:37, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (PuckSR @ May 12 2006,15:51)
im not actually discussing our current conception of "Gayness"...Im asking for a strict definition for arguments sake....

I'm not sure you can come up with a strict definition of "homosexuality" that is at the same time accurate and useful.

For example, could you come up with a strict defintion of "beauty" that is both accurate and useful?

If homosexuality is defined as the attraction to the same sex...then what term is used for someone who is not attracted to the opposite sex?  Also...if the definition of homosexuality is simply attraction to the same the term bisexual truly necessary?

I think you're beginning to see the problem. Very few gay people are exclusively attracted to one sex and at the same time completely uninterested in the opposite sex. If you make your definition too strict, you risk it being inapplicable to anyone.

Date: 2006/05/12 12:13:11, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (BWE @ May 12 2006,16<!--emo&:0)

Now that I go back and read the list I wrote, I am more curious than when I wrote it. Can you answer these questions?

Others here: Can you answer those questions?

(Without a reference)

Okay, I'll give your questions a try (without any research or reference to anything other than the questions themselves). And, before you laugh, keep in mind that I don't have an undergraduate degree in anything:

1) I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. The geology of the area is largely the result of the Pacific plate grinding up against the North American plate along the San Andreas fault. The terrane I live on is largely comprised of the Franciscan melange, mixed in with what appear to be large bits and pieces broken off of the Smartville Block which underlies most of the Central Valley in California. The geology of the San Francisco Bay Area is on the order of five million years old, and is comprised of sediments and metamorphic rocks of widespread provenance spread over much of the pacific rim.

2) Most of the fossils in the immediate area of marine origin, mostly dating from the late cretaceous/early Cenozoic.

3) This question is a bit vague, but often various speciation events are the result of geographical/climatological isolation events. Obviously climatological changes will result in differing habitat ranges. An example would be the northerly drift of many commercially-important fish like cod and salmon, which have drifted north as the climate has warmed up. Also, organisms can become reproductively isolated over longer timespans due to tectonic forces operating on continental landmasses.

4) Again, the question is somewhat vague and has more than one potential answer, but one thing a top-level predator in an ecosystem provides is selection pressure on its prey. Of course, it also provides population control.

5) Ridges and trenches are the result of tectonic activity involving the earth's crust and convection cells in the mantle. Trenches result when one oceanic plate subducts under another, as in the Cayman Trench and the Marianas Trench. The most famous spreading center is undoubtedly the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where upwelling magma creates a spreading center that runs the entire length of the Atlantic. As one moves away from the ridge, one encounters progressively older crustal material. A further observation would be that as the Mid-Antlantic Ridge creates new oceanic crust, the Atlantic Ocean gets larger, while subduction trenches in the Pacific make that ocean smaller.

6) Scientists believe that dinosaurs existed because they see abundant evidence for their existence in the numerous fossils they have discovered, deposited during the ~180 million years that dinosaurs existed (from ~220 mya until ~65 mya).

Estimates for the age of dinosaur fossils result from several converging lines of evidence, principally stratological estimates derived from estimates of sedimentation rates, along with radiological data. Also, estimates of mutation rates along with investigations into primitive and derived characteristics provide additional calibration for the dates of various fossils.

7) In general, the answer to this question probably involves the concept of nested hierarchies. To use an example AFDave should be able to understand: bats and birds seem superficially more similar than bats and chimps. However, cladistically bats nest more readily with chimps than with birds, because bats and chimps diverged more recently than bats and birds. While there are no mammals with feathers (a primitive characteristic), there are indeed mammals with wings (a derived characteristic).

8) The magnetic orientation of the seabed gives us evidence that the polarity of the earth's magnetic field has reversed numerous times over the earth's lifetime, with an irregular period of hundreds of thousands to millions of years. As seabed formed from oceanic spreading centers, the intrinsic magnetism of the rock "froze" in a particular orientation as the magma cooled. The stripes of opposing magnetic orientation in the seafloor moving outwards from spreading centers provides evidence for the creation of new seafloor at spreading centers and for reverses in the earth's magnetic field.

I'm sure there are more than a few errors here, but again, I did no research whatsoever to answer these questions; my answers are literally off the top of my head. So I won't take corrections to this post badly. And any corrections won't present a huge challenge to my world-view, either. After all, if I doubt your criticisms, I can always find out what the scientific consensus is.

Date: 2006/05/12 12:52:53, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (thordaddy @ May 12 2006,17:40)

EricMurphy has put forth the best anecdotal evidence for the nuture argument for homosexuality and has given the best anecdotal against a gay "gene."

Really? What gave you that idea? I haven't said anything whatsoever about sexual orientation being the result of family upbringing.

Nor have I said anything about the genetic basis for sexual preference. Undoubtedly actual sexual orientation is a mixture of environmental and genetic factors, as are most things in life. But if you've interpreted anything I've written as evidence that sexual orientation is in some sense a "lifestyle choice," well, it would hardly be the first time you've radically misinterpreted a post here.

The whole point of the gay agenda is the attempt to equate homoseuxality to heterosexuality based on some false notion that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition and hence "normal."

Setting aside the fiction of any sort of "homosexual agenda," the evidence that homosexuality is at least partially genetic, and is in no sense a matter of choice, is conclusive. Further, the evidence that homosexuality is "normal" (and is present in many species other than humans) is also conclusive.

Thordaddy's claim that homosexuality is somehow "inferior" to heterosexuality is based on nothing other than his own irrational homophobia. Same as it's always been.

So if the genetic basis for homosexuality is scant and EricMurphy readily admits that "homosexuals" change their attraction/aversion throughout their lifetime similar to a behavior then by what rationale can this be given equal weight to the necessary genetic heterosexual orientation?

I can see that Thordaddy's reading comprehension isn't improving with time. Saying that peoples' (of any sexual orientation) sexual preferences can change over time has nothing whatsoever to do with whether that change is voluntary. I used to like vanilla more than chocolate; now the reverse is true. Was that change "voluntary"? Did I "decide" to like chocolate more than vanilla?

If this is what Thordaddy thinks is a "real" debate, I shudder to think what a "fake" debate is like.

Date: 2006/05/12 13:40:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (Steviepinhead @ May 12 2006,17:46)
...if they want to learn more about a REAL scientific controversy...

You know, sometimes I think creationists like AFDave see any kind of scientific controversy (and the evo/ID thing is not a "scientific" controversy) as proof that scientists have no credibility.

Sure, there's lots of controversy in the scientific community about evolutionary biology. There are lots of things about how organisms evolve that are poorly understood. But that doesn't mean there's any controversy over whether organisms evolve. They do. There's no doubt whatsoever about that.

Not among scientists, anyway.

Date: 2006/05/12 14:08:17, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Quote (afdave @ May 12 2006,18:40)
(1)  Get a biology degree
(2)  Become a genetic engineer
(3)  Get an advanced science degree
(4)  Become a biochemical researcher
(5)  Pretend I know more about biology than you
(6)  Become a geologist
(7)  Become an astrophysicist

Dave, you have two choices:

1) you can go out and get a degree in the relevant field (in this case, evolutionary biology and related fields); or

2) you can rely on the opinions of those who already do have degrees in the relevant fields.

3) there is no third choice.

You can complain all you want about how our "worldview" is infected by our "Darwinist indoctrination" (and just for your information, Dave, I never even heard Darwin's name in any science class I ever took in the Bible-belt schools in Massachusetts), but the fact of the matter is that most of the points you dispute are in fact well-settled in the scientific community. Those of us here who are non-specialists in the relevant fields (biology, genetics) at least have the wit to know who has credible opinions on the matters at hand, and who doesn't. Douglas Theobald is credible; AiG is not.

If you persist in getting your information on science from disreputable sources, nothing anyone here can say will help you. It doesn't matter what we think the evidence is; it matters what the scientific community thinks it is.

Look, Dave. You either are open-minded or you're not. If you persist in holding onto discredited beliefs that have been comprehensively refuted, you're going to have a hard time convincing any of us that you're open-minded.

Date: 2006/05/12 14:13:09, Link
Author: ericmurphy
STAGE 4: Frustration ensues, followed by name calling, arrogant and belittling comments, talk of censorship, and the like.

Dave, you're entirely mistaken as to the causes of stage 4. The frustration you note comes not from our inability to support our arugments; it comes from your inability to understand our arguments.

Just out of curiosity: how many of BWE's questions were you able to answer correctly (or even understand) without doing any research?

Date: 2006/05/12 16:35:46, Link
Author: ericmurphy
Thordaddy, your cranial density never ceases to astound me.
Quote (thordaddy @ May 12 2006,18:56)
If someone changes their attraction/aversion to other people in the course of their adult lifetime then how is this not equivalent to a "lifestyle choice?"

Has it occurred to you that the change in someone's attraction to someone else might be involuntary? Do you choose whom you're attracted to? Do you see some random woman on the street and "choose" to be attracted to her?

The fact that someone's sexual orientation changes during the course of his or her lifetime does not imply that he or she "chooses" to change it. Let me give you one other example, since this seems to be such a difficult concept for you: your average seven-year-old girl can't stand boys, has no use for boys, and the idea of actually kissing a boy is enough to make her retch. How does that attitude compare with your average seventeen-year-old girl? Do you suppose girls "decide," at the age of 16 or so, to become attracted to boys?

Where is the evidence for the genetic basis for homosexuality and how do people then change this genetic basis at will?  And if you mean homosexuality is "normal" because it exists then rape, murder, pedophile among everything else that exists is "normal."  You've define "normal" out of any meaningful context.

What gives you the idea that people can change their sexual orientation "at will"? Where's yo