Category Archives: Misc. Science

The privilege of the forum

As anyone in the atheist/skeptical/feminist blogosphere has heard, there is a massive kerfuffle going on about Rebecca Watson’s response to being creepily propositioned in an elevator1. I really don’t have much to say about it because far better writers than I have covered all the bases I can think of. What hasn’t been addressed is the fundamental fuck-upedness of one of the underlying assumptions of Rebecca’s critics: there is such a thing as an appropriate forum.

Continue reading


Can we quit pretending philosophers are deep thinkers now?

I’ve always been annoyed by the idiocy of some philosophers. Not by the idiocy of philosophy, like some scientists I know—without Popperian epistemics, the whole of science would be incapable of any claim to truth beyond a fallacious appeal to consequences—but the incapacity of certain philosophers to consider the implications of empirical science.

I note this because of a discussion I found in Greta Christina’s archives about why atheism doesn’t make sense. Someone asked why Greta didn’t mention the cosmological argument for a creator god. (The cosmological argument basically states that everything in existence has a cause; the universe exists; therefore the universe has a cause; therefore god.) She mentioned the obvious complaint, that positing a god only shifts the question one step back: if everything has a cause, what caused god?

Aside: I’m mildly upset that until this week I’d never read anything by Greta Christina. The woman is a skeptical goddess. </hero worship>

Ahem.

But I think that there’s a more sound response to be made against the cosmological argument. Greta’s response punctures the argument for god, but doesn’t address the hole that the cosmological argument seems to put in naturalistic explanations of the universe: what made everything exist in the first place?

Continue reading