Friday, November 23, 2012

The New Atheists and the Dunning-Kruger effect

Here. Oh, I forgot. It's just believers who suffer from cognitive pathologies.

75 comments:

Tony Hoffman said...

Huh? I would think that the natural reaction to finding out about the Dunning Kruger effect would be to recognize instances of it in others' behaviors, but to more importantly investigate how one is personally susceptible to it in one's own self assessments. And to then take steps to better recognize it in in one's own thinking, and to possibly take steps to mitigate it's effect. But maybe that's just me.

This reaction to it seems profoundly anti-intellectual, and kind of juvenile. And your comment makes me wonder if you even undersand what it is the field of psychology studies.

Papalinton said...

I wouldn't put too much store in what Phillip Jensen says. He is a largely inconsequential figure in the Australian landscape.

See HERE

In part, "Australia's Anglican church is trying to distance itself from an extraordinary speech made by one of its senior figures, who's condemned the liberal values of the world leader of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, ...." You can read the rest yourself.

Dan Gillson said...

No, Dr Reppert: 'Beliebers' suffer cognitive pathologies, not 'believers'. Get it straight! ;)

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, given this propensity of ours and the number of religions in the world compared with the number of settled results from science, what is YOUR proposal for overcoming this malaise? That is the question. My solution is to trust the results of science. What's yours, faith? No seriously, what is your solution?

ozero91 said...

Are One Directioners the new Beliebers?

Crude said...

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average.

From the Wikipedia.

Tony, John, I gotta say... of all the atheists who'd like to sling around reference to Dunning-Kruger, you two guys are the absolute last ones who should. Remember your 'I know Dawkins' writing so well I can tell this is fake, and even if I'm wrong I bet I can BS convincingly about it' schtick, Tony? To say nothing of your other greatest hits?

And John, c'mon. Remember how you've done in debates? Remember your last faith discussion? Remember... basically every conversation you've gotten into with Randal Rauser, Victor, David Marshall, and even your meltdown with me? Your track record on all things intellectual, compared to your confidence in your abilities, makes it so... well, let's just put it this way. You angst over getting an entry for yourself in the wikipedia. Here's a great way: submit your photo to the Dunning-Kruger article with the caption 'living example'.

I'd say 'physicians, heal thyselves' to you guys, but really - you'd just hurt yourselves.

As to the OP itself, Victor's simply making the point that you can argue - with ease - that it applies to the Cult of Gnu generally. Psychoanalyzing people you're discussing things with is rarely, contra Tony, 'intellectual'. In fact the moment you engage in it is generally a good indication that the conversation's now clearly at the level of shit-talking and cheerleading. Which can be fun, but a supremely intellectual activity, it ain't.

Dan Gillson said...

Yeah, Loftus is definitely the poster boy for the Dunning-Kruger effect. I don't think that "trust[ing] the results of science" will help you get over that, John. Try maturing emotionally instead.

Victor Reppert said...

The sciences get results within a certain framework of operation. So even if we decide to trust science, how are we nonscientists supposed to figure out what is really well-established by science and what is not?

At the very least we have to be skeptical when something shows up with scientific packaging on it. People have been taken by all sorts of things they thought were supported by science when the y really weren't.

There's no safety in uncritically "following science." That is not a substitute for thinking.

Atheism doesn't provide immunity from either the congnitive ills or the moral ills of the human race. If you think it does, then you just bought some oceanfront property in Arizona, not to mention bridges in the states of California and New York. You can say you're from Missouri, but you're still gullible.

Papalinton said...

"The sciences get results within a certain framework of operation. So even if we decide to trust science, how are we nonscientists supposed to figure out what is really well-established by science and what is not? "
And religion does that? Hardly.

"At the very least we have to be skeptical when something shows up with scientific packaging on it."
And you think science does not have mechanisms to mitigate these circumstances? Tell me Victor, is it science or religion that relies heaviest on absolutism? Tell me a science event or action that is not provisional? It is unfortunate your call for skepticism falls short at 'physical bodily levitation into the blue beyond', 'or the revivification of a three-day old putrescent corpse', or the veracity of 'origin sin'.

"Atheism doesn't provide immunity from either the congnitive ills or the moral ills of the human race. "

We know that it doesn't. Nor does it pretend to. Yet christian theism repeatedly claims, 'have faith in god and all will be revealed', 'believe and you shall be saved'. Selective skepticism in practice here. The D-K effect in action.

Victor Reppert said...

Depends on what part of the scientific community you're talking about, and whether these people, speaking in the name of "science" are demanding absolute adherence to certain claims or not.

My claim is not "trust religion." It is that we have to put ideas to the test, as opposed to the wholesale acceptance of anything that has scientific packaging on it.

In psychology, back when I was an undergraduate, we were consistently told that to have a truly scientific view of human though had to embrace behaviorism. Now Skinner and friends have been moved to the Olde Curiosity Shoppe of discarded ideas.

Now, any doubts about orthodox Darwinian biology are sufficient to get yourself condemened as a "creationist" (the scientific equivalent of "heretic).

Dan Gillson said...

Papalinton, if we were witnessing the D-K effect in action, we would be 1.) witnessing someone overestimating their skills or abilities; and 2.) witnessing that person being unable to distinguish accuracy from error, i.e., witnessing someone who doesn't know what they are talking about or what they are doing make obvious mistakes regarding those actions or topics.. That's the effect that the Dunning-Kruger paper captured. You clearly haven't read their paper, "Unskilled and Unaware of It".

John W. Loftus said...

THE N.Y. PUBLIC LIBRARY SCI DESK REF 95 (The New York Public Library Series)

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: "My claim is not "trust religion." It is that we have to put ideas to the test, as opposed to the wholesale acceptance of anything that has scientific packaging on it."

You appear to have this inverted; science is the process of "putting things to the test," which is the opposite of wholesale accepting of anything. Scientific thinking is about wholesale testing and contingent acceptance. That's basically it. On the other hand, it is religious claims that are (famously) not testable and that require wholesale accepting without the possibility of testing. What I find so fascinating is that you are certainly smart enough to discern this but something seems to be preventing you from grasping what is a fundamental and obvious distinction.

Dan Gillson said...

I'm going to quibble now with Tony Hoffman.

Firstly, let's start with a correction: science is a process of putting things to the test, not the process. Science, as it is putatively understood, is a form of rational inquiry, not vice versa. All sorts of claims are open to rational inquiry, but not all sorts of claims are open to be examined scientifically. Take, for example, what a wine tastes like: I can get a flavor profile of a wine merely by rationally analyzing it; but how would science tell me that my Sauvignon Blanc exhibits flavors of quince jam, or lemongrass, or grapefruit, or that it has a mineral-y, steel-y finish? Or what does science have to say about the 'right' or 'wrong' thing to do? What is with this blind privileging of science over rational inquiry? In short, I think Dr Reppert's formulation is right, viz., that it is ideas that we put to the test through rational inquiry, including certain scientific ones.

Secondly, which religious claims do you have in mind? That's an awfully equivocal assertion. I can think of many existential claims of religion that are 'testable', e.g., Luther's claim that we are simultaneously sinners and saints, or his claim that humans are rational minds with imaginative hearts. In each of this claims, I can appeal to "mere" human experience for their justification.

Tony Hoffman said...

Dan, not sure what you're quibbling over entirely. I agree that science is "a" (not "the") branch of rational inquiry, etc. Those are quibbles.

As to your wine tasting example, what with quince jam (?) being intersubjectively verifiable, one can certainly test for its presence scientifically. That "test" may be imperfect, using subjects who have refined this sensitivity (but would presumably satisfy the basic criteria of objectivity, reliability, and verifiability), or it may be more precise (involving instruments that can detect those substances particular to quince jam), but in a wide variety of tests I can easily imagine we could test for, scientifically, the presence of quince jam. Morality is, depending on the axioms you might accept, testable scientifically -- if we accept that discouraging rape is a moral good, then we can observe sociological data where certain societal laws and norms are observed, etc. (But I would agree that science does not tell us what axioms we ought to accept, etc.)

"Secondly, which religious claims do you have in mind? That's an awfully equivocal assertion. I can think of many existential claims of religion that are 'testable', e.g., Luther's claim that we are simultaneously sinners and saints, or his claim that humans are rational minds with imaginative hearts. In each of this claims, I can appeal to "mere" human experience for their justification."

Regarding equivocation, I am not sure what you mean by appealing to "mere human experience for their justification." Can you clarify this?

Dan Gillson said...

I say that I'm merely 'quibbling' because I'm not arguing for much, as in, I'm arguing for small potatoes. (To confess: in general, I perceive my contributions here as mere 'quibbles'. I'm really not trying to change anyone's mind here, I'm just arguing for sport.) Having said that . . .

Why, when we are mereologically analyzing my experience of a wine, do we need to test for the 'presence' of an item of my experience in that object? Or, in other words, why does 'quince jam' need to be a part of the wine for me to experience it in the wine? The assumption that my wine-tasting example is meant to challenge is that we need to verify scientifically a strict nomological correspondence between human experience and an object in order for experiences of those objects to obtain. (I actually wonder if such things need to be rationally verified at all, but that's a different topic for a different day.) I know what quince jam tastes like--it's delicious, by the way--and so I know when I taste it in a wine. In no way does my knowledge depend upon 'quince jam' being an actual component of the wine itself. The same holds true if we shift this discussion to morality, mutatis mutandis.

What I mean by 'appealing to mere human experience for their justification' is that, say for example, with the case of being simultaneously sinner and saint, I can point to the fact that people experience themselves as a grab bag of good and bad, i.e., having faults, strengths, having done good or wrong, etc. Sorry that that wasn't clear.

Tony Hoffman said...

Dan, you brought up the quince jam. I never said it "needed to be" in the wine, et al. Regarding quibbles, while I like an exchange of view as much as the next guy, I'm not sure how it is that your comments apply to mine. It just seems like we're having two different conversations.

I have the same problem with your last paragraph. I am just not sure what you are saying, and how it applies to my earlier comments.

Crude said...

I'll add a side-point to Dan's comments.

"Trusting science" often means "trusting what I think scientists say" or "trusting my interpretation of some given scientific data/experiments" or worse, "trusting what this one guy says is the scientific view". There is no shortage of people who translate "trusting science" to mean belief in ESP, aliens, homeopathy, etc.

That's a point in and of itself, but I also think it works with the point I see Dan making about rational inquiry generally versus science specifically. For most people who 'trust science', the actual 'science' portion of things comes pretty far down in the reasoning chain, if it ultimately factors in at all. And this is before getting into the seriously messy stuff, like demarcation problems and so on.

But "I trust science!" sounds more impressive than "I trust what I've heard some people say about science!", even though the second one is more accurate most of the time.

Papalinton said...

Dan
"Take, for example, what a wine tastes like: I can get a flavor profile of a wine merely by rationally analyzing it; but how would science tell me that my Sauvignon Blanc exhibits flavors of quince jam, or lemongrass, or grapefruit, or that it has a mineral-y, steel-y finish? "

Further to that which Tony commented, Dan, your wine tasting analogy re quince jam is an excellent analogy for christian theism. You taste the wine. You experience the wine. It tastes just like quince jam. But as Tony correctly informs, there is not a scintilla of quince in the wine, but science can test for quince-type taste. Our senses, our taste and olfactory senses have been fooled into thinking the wine embodies this taste of quince, but the quince is not there. This can be distinguished by the sciences but cannot be distinguished by the senses. And just as our senses, our personal experiences can be duped into imagining the presence of quince jam so too are our senses and personal experiences and revelations equally duped by what we imagine is there, such as the presence of a god, but is not.

In terms of quince taste, in science anyone with a modicum of organic chemistry knowledge will understand the role of 'esters', organic compounds that can replicate, mimic the smell and tastes of innumerable fruits, drinks, compounds etc etc. Read HERE, and HERE.

In respect of of your query, science can test for the ester compound that replicates the quince taste. So while your analogy of personally experiencing the quince taste in a wine illustrating the reality of the existence of quince is a poor one, it is a very good one in illustrating how our personal experiences and senses are so easily duped and mislead into thinking what is reality when in all probability it is not. The religious personal experience is as deep as the experience of actual quince in wine, but we now both know is is just an ester.

Papalinton said...

"But "I trust science!" sounds more impressive than "I trust what I've heard some people say about science!", even though the second one is more accurate most of the time."

This is probably true. But doesn't make the proposition of the truth of science any less.

I would imagine most believers, like me, would far prefer trusting, on say-so, a trained doctor performing heart surgery on me than a skilled theologian performing a 'placing of the hands' faith healing for the same condition. What is most disturbing is that in Britain, [there is no data for the USA that I can access] as at 2006 while there has been a trending downwards, 20% of the population still believe in faith healing. 1 in 5 people. See HERE at Point 7.15 Belief in Faith Healing.` This is very worrying. Clearly the K-D effect is almost at pandemic proportion in the UK, and the Brits are by no means anywhere near as religious as US citizens.


Eric said...

"But doesn't make the proposition of the truth of science any less."

Does science provide us with the truth about the world as it is in itself, or does it provide us with models that happen to work, and are true in this sense, whether they actually say anything about the world as it is?

I ask this question because so many of the most vociferous advocates of science seem rarely to have thought about the nature of science itself (in my experience, that is), and then they attack those of us who have thought about these issues for raising them, calling us 'ignorant' of science, or science despisers. In my view, the people who despise science the most are those who would rather blithely fetishize it than take it seriously enough to put in the effort to consider it as it really is.

Crude said...

Eric,

Does science provide us with the truth about the world as it is in itself, or does it provide us with models that happen to work, and are true in this sense, whether they actually say anything about the world as it is?

The funny thing is, the most common praise of science is "it works". Even if it's just some casual, layman defense most of the time, it's popular enough to hedge things towards 'truth has nothing to do with it, practical utility does'. I think Victor now and then gets into that on here.

In my view, the people who despise science the most are those who would rather blithely fetishize it than take it seriously enough to put in the effort to consider it as it really is.

Sounds apt. Some people don't like science, they like a warped, primitive misunderstanding of science.

Dan Gillson said...

Summarize my argument for me, Papalinton. If you do that, I think you'll see how odd I find your response to me.

Crude said...

Summarize my argument for me, Papalinton. If you do that, I think you'll see how odd I find your response to me.

Somewhere in Australia, the following is being put into Google.

"Dan Gillson" "argument summary"

Copy-paste is at the ready.

kilo papa said...

"Perhaps if I hadn't been so bush masterbating to my Sarah Palin pin the Saints wouldn't have fucking lost to the 49ers!!!!
Goddamn me!!!!!"--Jesus H. Christ, your pissed off Savior

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Dan
I encapsulated your wine analogy and demonstrated that your proposition does not hold water. [pardon the pun].

Talking of 'sinners' and 'saints', when Bob Geldoff was asked whether he was a saint or a sinner he said, "As an theist I can't be either."
:o)

B. Prokop said...

"I would imagine most believers, like me, would far prefer trusting, on say-so, a trained doctor performing heart surgery on me than a skilled theologian performing a 'placing of the hands' faith healing for the same condition."

Wow! Papalinton and I actually agree on something. But I suggest that he take the very sensible underlying principle behind his statement and apply it further. Just as I would defer to a doctor on matters of my physical health, I would turn to my faith in matters of spiritual health.

I would no more use one for the other than I would use a hammer for a screw, or a screwdriver for a nail.

Now can we please move on from this tiresome non-issue?

Crude said...

Now can we please move on from this tiresome non-issue?

It's a repeatedly misunderstood issue.

I pointed out that far and away most people - I'd add, even most scientists - don't really "trust science" in practice, much less make us of it. They trust various proxies, or "what some guy says is science" or "what I think is science".

For some people, 'trusting science' means believing what their homeopathic doctor says. For others, it's believing what the doctor who is politically in agreement with them says. And so on, and so on.

When you actually cash out what it means when people say that they "trust science", it starts to get really messy, really fast. Heck, even the question of whether doctors qualify as scientists is controversial.

tl;dr version - many people who can't shut up about their trust in science never do any, and actually have some gross misconceptions about what science even is. What they actually do is trust what they think is expert opinion, and often those experts tend to be selected on the basis of whether the experts are saying things they generally agree with anyway.

And just to throw some fun in - apparently I'm the only guy who remembers this article about medical research. In the current conversation's context, it's pretty damn funny.

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Hoffman said...

Zach, I agree more. Thanks for that.

B. Prokop said...

Zach,

The HUGE difference between Victor and Loftus is in the very conclusion you say is where John has "gone wrong". That conclusion is the gigantic, single point of failure for Loftus's entire Weltanschauung.

In quite literally countless places, Loftus claims that [atheistic] skepticism is (or should be) the default position for every human being. This is of a piece with the common atheistic trope "we are all born atheists". Loftus goes so far as to make this the centerpiece of his so-called Outsider Test for Faith.

The implications of this position are actually quite amusing. Although I don't for an instant agree with the idea, for the sake of argument let us grant him this point for now. If this were indeed the case, it would alone make atheism the greatest failure in the history of Mankind. I recall reading somewhere that there have been in excess of 100 billion human beings alive since the dawn of time. Of that number, I believe I would be safe in saying that 99.9% or more have been theists of one sort or another, with the total number of atheists throughout history amounting to little more than a rounding error.

But how can this be possible? Loftus tells us that we are all born atheists, and that skepticism is our default position. Were this actually true, then the case for theism must be strong indeed for such a magnificent success rate - throughout time and across all cultures, the overwhelming majority of people (by Loftus's own reasoning) must have, starting from a skeptical atheist position, have been won over to belief in God. And not just a majority, but damn near 100% of them!!!

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt DeStefano said...

I dislike the mindless atheists as much as anyone, but Victor is showing how he has gone downhill in his post, with his dig at the end.

It seems that Victor now has much more in common with the peanut gallery in this comment section than he does with any respectable a/theist bloggers that have commented in the past (BDK, Daniel V, etc.). The blog has certainly taken a downward swing. Birds of a feather, and all that.




Victor Reppert said...

My point simply is that the D-K effect is brought up as if it somehow were a problem exclusively for theists, or that atheism can cure it. I claim that it cuts in all directions, and therefore in no direction in particular. "Following science" isn't a cure. So long as the subject fits squarely within the science in question, there are checks and balances, but people trying to get anti-religious results from science, such as Dawkins or Loftus, are extrapolating from the science, and there has been a huge amount of human fallibility when science is extrapolated.

I hate to go back to the child abuse argument, but there's a case in point. There is measurable scientific evidence both concerning how religious upbringing affects children, and how sexual abuse affects them. Researchers have measured both. We can see how each of these things affects the ability of a child to become a successful adult.

Victor Reppert said...

Dawkins ignores this and pontificates based on his ideological views, forgetting the methods he used as a practicing scientist.It's bad enough that he misrepresents the religions he criticizes, he makes claims that are clearly refutable based on the science we have.

BenYachov said...

Zack writes:
>I dislike the mindless atheists as much as anyone, but Victor is showing how he has gone downhill in his post, with his dig at the end.

Victor actually writes:
"Here. Oh, I forgot. It's just believers who suffer from cognitive pathologies.[post link to an article on "The New Atheists and the Dunning-Kruger effect"]

So Victor takes a dig at "mindless atheists" (whom Zack claims he can't stand)but has gone down hill for taking on said "mindless atheists"?

Seriously?

Or is it this statement of Victor's Zack is refering too?

>Atheism doesn't provide immunity from either the congnitive ills or the moral ills of the human race. If you think it does, then you just bought some oceanfront property in Arizona, not to mention bridges in the states of California and New York. You can say you're from Missouri, but you're still gullible.

This is a perfectly reasonable statement only a "mindless atheist"
would disagree with it.

So where is the "downhill"?

Zack writes:
>Where has an atheists ever said they are free of bias? E.g., they might call out believers for being particularly biased, but that is not equivalent.

Nice equivocation. I thought Victor was addressing "mindless Atheists"?

Saying for example "atheism doesn't make you immune from cognitive bias" is not the same as claiming "all atheists including Gnus deny at all times they are bias".

So WTF Zack?

Accusing Victor of a lack of charity? That's comedy.

Matt write:
>seems that Victor now has much more in common with the peanut gallery in this comment section.

Unlikely, thought Matt you at times have shown you have little in common with BDK, Daniel V, etc...

Again WTF?

BenYachov said...

Hey if you Gnus and Gnu wannbes(like Zack) want to take shots at me(or others) go for it.

But don't be dicks and gang up on poor Victor for well.....nothing.

Or are you bullying him because you know he won't bite your heads off like I will in a heartbeat?

BenYachov said...

Is this all a ploy to suck up the oxygen(or has it just worked out that way)?

Dan was giving a friendly critique of Hoffman on DK effect & smacking Paps for being Paps?

I want to see how that plays out so enough of Zack's make believe nonsense toward Victor.

Dan Gillson said...

Well no, paps, you didn't. That's why I asked you to summarize my argument so that you could see . . . You know what? Never mind. You pulled this kind of tripe over at Feser's blog recently. You aren't worth it.

Crude said...

So, let's put the criticism of Victor in perspective here.

A couple atheists on this blog snottily comment about theists and the D-K effect. Victor posts a link to a theist making a claim about the Cult of Gnu and the D-K effect, and in his comments makes it clear that he's criticizing the confidence some people have in their assumptions about bias. This is taken as evidence that the blog has gone downhill and Victor is mean or unfair or the like.

I think what's more likely is that the reaction is evidence of something already well-established: the Cultists of Gnu, despite the general endorsement of mockery and disdain, freak out the moment they experience criticism of themselves. Even relatively minor criticism.

As for science, I'll let my previous comments stand as they are.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: "My point simply is that the D-K effect is brought up as if it somehow were a problem exclusively for theists, or that atheism can cure it."

Citation please.

Eric said...

"I think what's more likely is that the reaction is evidence of something already well-established: the Cultists of Gnu, despite the general endorsement of mockery and disdain, freak out the moment they experience criticism of themselves. Even relatively minor criticism."

Nailed it!

Crude said...

Re: Dunning-Kruger and the presentation of it as if it were a theistic-exclusion problem, or that atheism was its cure: one example.

Some choice quotes:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect, which I had never heard of, was mentioned recently on this site in a comment by Jim Jones. So, I investigated, and found a fascinating scientific insight into the mind of the typical Christian.

[...]

This helps explain why debating religion with the typical Christian generally becomes frustrating very quickly. His knowledge of the Bible and critical thinking skills are usually severely limited. BUT HE FAILS TO RECOGNIZE THIS! And that is the message of the D-K Effect.

[...]

The majority of those leaving Christianity report feelings of increased happiness, and a loss of guilt and fear. A great many of these people report that investigating their doubts, especially with respect to the Bible, was the first step toward a better life. And, as the Dunning-Kruger Effect has demonstrated, their doubts were a sign of their increasing religious competence.

BenYachov said...

@Tony
>Citation please.

Translation: You are guilty till proven innocent Victor because certainly I can't provide an actual citation of my own that justifies my unjust condemnation of you.

Crude said...

Ben,

I think saying 'citation please' is silly when Victor's clearly talking about his anecdotal experience. However, I think the link I provide goes a long way towards showing that D-K gets presented by some of the cult of Gnu as a 'theistic problem'. There was already a link with Cowboy Hat going on about how the cure to bias is skepticism - naturally, skepticism as defined by Cowboy Hat.

Tony Hoffman said...

By "Citation please" I mean "Citation please." I love the irony here in that you both appear so confident in your assessment of my motives.

Of course, Crude's citation, while it does actually discuss the DK effect, does not support Victor's assertion, which I'll repeat again:

VR: ""My point simply is that the D-K effect is brought up as if it somehow were a problem exclusively for theists, or that atheism can cure it."

That's because the article states, among other things, "Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Dunning and Kruger also found the Effect operative in broad tests of logical reasoning skills." Etc.

I am curious where VR encountered this. And that is why I ask.

Crude said...

I love the irony here in that you both appear so confident in your assessment of my motives.

Citation of me assessing your motives, please. All I said with regards to this is that asking for a 'citation' for what's clearly a statement of anecdotal experience is silly.

That's because the article states, among other things, "Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Dunning and Kruger also found the Effect operative in broad tests of logical reasoning skills." Etc.

It also states the portions I quoted, which applies the D-K effect to Christians, to the point of suggesting that people who become atheists are clearly getting over the negative portions of the D-K effect.

If you can't read that linked article and regard it as presenting the D-K effect as if it were a problem exclusive to theists - when the entire thing is about how Christians are victims of the D-K effect, and ex-Christians and atheists are the ones who moved beyond it - the problem is on your end.

Eric said...

"It seems that Victor now has much more in common with the peanut gallery in this comment section than he does with any respectable a/theist bloggers that have commented in the past (BDK, Daniel V, etc.). The blog has certainly taken a downward swing."

Would you say that atheist blogs like Debunking Christianity are taking a "downward swing" when they post ridiculous things about how believers are deluded, or about how science and belief in god are fundamentally incompatible?

Crude said...

Would you say that atheist blogs like Debunking Christianity are taking a "downward swing" when they post ridiculous things about how believers are deluded, or about how science and belief in god are fundamentally incompatible?

Ha. Ha!

It gets far worse than that. Far worse. Personal insults, Cowboy Hat ranting about how all Christians are deluded and dumb, and more are extraordinarily common there.

The worst comments on this site are on par with many of the actual *posts* at DC.

Matt DeStefano said...

Would you say that atheist blogs like Debunking Christianity are taking a "downward swing" when they post ridiculous things about how believers are deluded, or about how science and belief in god are fundamentally incompatible?

I don't read Loftus's blog very often, especially not since he invited other authors to contribute. I think some of his new writers are utterly ridiculous (i.e. 'Harry McCall'), and I can only stomach so much FTB melodrama.

However, this constant insistence on parity on the part of atheist commenters ('decry your atheist brethen!') to be silly. My comments were pointed at a specific trend on a specific blog. If you think that the comments were unwarranted, then let me know why.

I think it's a mistake to write off "science and belief in god being fundamentally incompatible" as somehow beneath serious discussion. (See Dennett and Plantinga's co-authored book, for example.)

Crude said...

I think it's a mistake to write off "science and belief in god being fundamentally incompatible" as somehow beneath serious discussion. (See Dennett and Plantinga's co-authored book, for example.)

Actually, that's not clear, at least going by David Marshall's estimation of that book: "As others observe, Dennett essentially concedes the purportive issue almost right away: yes, science and religion are compatible, at least on a bare theoretical level. (One reviewer then goes on to suppose that Dennett "won" the supposed fall-back debate on whether theism is probable: but in fact, there is no such fall-back debate, nor does Plantinga begin to address it.)"

B. Prokop said...

"I think it's a mistake to write off "science and belief in God being fundamentally incompatible" as somehow beneath serious discussion."

When one considers for even a nanosecond the absolutely amazing list of prominent scientists who are (or were, if they are dead) also believers (specifically Christians, and usually Catholics), then yes - the topic is indeed too ridiculous to merit any serious discussion whatsoever. The case for their compatibility is made on those grounds alone.

To claim otherwise is no different than, after being shown a verifiable list of red-headed Americans, to continue to insist that being an American is incompatible with having red hair.

Matt DeStefano said...

When one considers for even a nanosecond the absolutely amazing list of prominent scientists who are (or were, if they are dead) also believers (specifically Christians, and usually Catholics), then yes - the topic is indeed too ridiculous to merit any serious discussion whatsoever. The case for their compatibility is made on those grounds alone.

This is like pointing out there are racists who are also Christian and concluding "Racism and Christianity are compatible!"

Human beings have a funny way of embracing (and/or associating themselves with) two seeming opposing ideologies.

Crude said...

Human beings have a funny way of embracing (and/or associating themselves with) two seeming opposing ideologies.

Neither science nor belief in God is an ideology.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude, as is my usual policy I'm going to waste little more time responding to your comments and please interpret any subsequent silence regarding them as my assessment of their worth. However, I did address one of your comment above, so I will respond one more time (and more if you introduce something worth discussing).

Crude: "Citation of me assessing your motives, please."

Crude: "I think saying 'citation please' is silly..." I read your comment as assessing my motives (as silly). Hence, my comment.

Crude: "It also states the portions I quoted, which applies the D-K effect to Christians, to the point of suggesting that people who become atheists are clearly getting over the negative portions of the D-K effect."

Partly true. It also states, "The D-K Effect goes a long way toward explaining why those with the least competence in their religion are the most sure they are right about it."

Crude: "If you can't read that linked article and regard it as presenting the D-K effect as if it were a problem exclusive to theists - when the entire thing is about how Christians are victims of the D-K effect, and ex-Christians and atheists are the ones who moved beyond it - the problem is on your end."

And I think you should look up the word "exclusvie." I do not think it means what you think it means.

BenYachov said...

@Hoffman

>By "Citation please" I mean "Citation please." I love the irony here in that you both appear so confident in your assessment of my motives.

Hey Tony if you are going to fire at a target at least Aim at the right one.
I am the one attacking your motives not Crude. After all it seems the thing to do. You said you agreed with Zack who said in the post previous to yours agreeing with him. Zack said "Victor is showing how he has gone downhill in his post,".

Victor defends himself & instead of taking him at face value(which is what charity would demand) you want "proof" via a citation even thought you failed to show Zack's charge is in any way true with a citation from Victor.

How many citations does the man have to give? Does he have to prove to the N'th degree with documentation he doesn't as a rule condemn all Atheists across the board?

Like I said Victor is guilty till proven innocent from you guys. So it seems.

Also I am not going to bite in your bid to change the subject.

I OTOH did cite Victor's actual words and challenged how can be be accused of attacking all Atheists across the board.

Ya gonna deal with that or try again to change the subject & hope in vain I will not notice?

Tony Hoffman said...

Ben, I asked VR for a citation. I am genuinely curious and, among other things, I would be interested to have a dialogue with the kind of people that VR has characterized; I would agree with VR that they were wrong.

The rest of your comment rises to your usual level. I will now return to my policy with your comments (same as with Crude) and respond to them with the attention they deserve.

Cheers.

Crude said...

Crude: "I think saying 'citation please' is silly..." I read your comment as assessing my motives (as silly). Hence, my comment.

Yeah, I think even you can understand how interpreting that as 'assessing your motives' is quite a stretch. Considering I didn't mention your motives at all, and just called request silly given the context.

Partly true. It also states, "The D-K Effect goes a long way toward explaining why those with the least competence in their religion are the most sure they are right about it."

The only thing that illustrates is that the article author can't even comprehend the very statistics or ideas he's grappling with.

And I think you should look up the word "exclusvie." I do not think it means what you think it means.

Again, what Victor said: "My point simply is that the D-K effect is brought up as if it somehow were a problem exclusively for theists, or that atheism can cure it."

I provide an article which overwhelmingly gives the impression that, yes, the D-K effect is a theist problem. When he does mention atheists, he mentions them in the context of believing that their conversion shows they're overcoming the DK effect.

Yes, when someone discusses the D-K effect, talking about how it's a problem that plagues Christians, making no mention of the D-K effect's presence with atheists save for at the end, when it's suggesting that atheism is evidence of overcoming the D-K effect... yeah, that's treating D-K as if it were a problem exclusive to theists. (And pointing out 'well, it vaguely mentioned some areas where the D-K effect can pop up that isn't due to theism' doesn't invalidate that, since the context simply suggests that theists have reasoning problems in other areas too.)

Now, if that article mentioned that atheists, in their atheism, can also be subject to the D-K effect? Then we'd have a more balanced treatment of it. We'd also have an article with the wind knocked out of its sails, and with a sharply different direction.

By the way, do you believe that atheists and naturalists suffer from the D-K effect, with regards to their atheism and naturalism?

BenYachov said...

@Tony

>I asked VR for a citation. I am genuinely curious and, among other things, I would be interested to have a dialogue with the kind of people that VR has characterized; I would agree with VR that they were wrong.

Yet you clearly said you agreed with Zack(whom you now say is wrong?) & you didn't qualify your agreement with him in anyway?

>The rest of your comment rises to your usual level. I will now return to my policy with your comments (same as with Crude) and respond to them with the attention they deserve.

Whatever you need to do to save face at this point dude. You stepped in it.

Eric said...

"I think it's a mistake to write off "science and belief in god being fundamentally incompatible" as somehow beneath serious discussion. (See Dennett and Plantinga's co-authored book, for example.)"

As Crude pointed out, Dennett has conceded many times that they are compatible (though he thinks that this is trivial, since science is also compatible with things like 'Superman-ism'), so I'm not sure what you're saying here.

Now sure, there is some room for serious debate, since there are a number of conceptions of 'science' and a number of conceptions of 'god' or 'religion,' and not all are going to be compatible; but then that wasn't my point (though, admittedly, I didn't make this clear). Rather, the point is that general claims, like "you have to choose between science and god" that do not then go on to clarify these terms (and that seem hostile to the request for clarification) are, well, beneath serious discussion.

"However, this constant insistence on parity on the part of atheist commenters ('decry your atheist brethen!') to be silly. My comments were pointed at a specific trend on a specific blog. If you think that the comments were unwarranted, then let me know why."

Fair enough. But It would help to know why you think they're warranted in the first place; you merely made the claim, you didn't defend it.

BenYachov said...

@Matt
>This is like pointing out there are racists who are also Christian and concluding "Racism and Christianity are compatible!"

Well they are compatible in the loose sense. Just as Atheism and Racism are compatible in the loose sense. H.P. Lovecraft for example was both an Atheist and a Racist. Obviously one can deny the existence of God & affirm their belief in the inferiority of non-White races or lack belief in any gods & affirm the same etc.

So your answer to Bob needs to be qualified.

>Human beings have a funny way of embracing (and/or associating themselves with) two seeming opposing ideologies.

Well I recognize this is a subtle claim on your part Matt that Christianity is opposite to Racism. Thank you for the compliment to Christianity.

Cheers for that.

But OTOH it doesn't logically follow if Christianity(let's say Catholic Christianity whose Dogmas explicitly condemn Racism) is not compatible with Racism that therefore religion is also not compatible with science.

Also if religion is compatible with Science it doesn't logically mean God exists nor does it have anything to do with the other reasons (historical, philosophical etc) one might have for believing in Theism or Christianity.

Just to clarify the specifics.

BenYachov said...

OTOH Bob statement doesn't in itself prove Science is compatible with Religion but it is a superficial answer to superficial critics who claim it doesn't(like Dawkins). Which I think was his intent.

One has to actually make the argument. Also even if we show Science & religion are compatible (which Dennett when pressed seems to concede) that has nothing to do with the actual philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

Which is what we should deal with rather then pussyfooting around on non-issues.

(Hmmmm didn't Bob suggest this before?)

Papalinton said...

PapaL: "Crude. Do you actually believe that a three-day old dead putrescent body revivified?"

Crude: "You betcha."

PapaL: "You do know that there has never been another case of a three day old corpse ever coming back to life, anywhere in history that has been verified?"

Crude: "Yes, but jesus is different."

PapaL: "Why?"

Crude: "Because he was special. It's all in the bible."

PapaL: "Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to the likelihood of a three day old putrescent corpse coming back to life is nil?"

Crude: "Yes."

Dunning-Kruger in action.

---------------------------------------

PapaL: "Ben, You actually know that jesus rose bodily, physically, into the air up to heaven. Right?

Ben: "Absolutely."

PapaL: "There is no possibility of his body, skeleton etc being buried somewhere in Palestine?"

Ben: "No."

PapaL: "Did anyone witness this transcending?"

Ben: "No."

PapaL: "And how do you know this happened?"

Ben: "Because scripture tells us that and the Magisterium has confirmed it."

PapaL: "But how does the Magisterium know this if no one actually witnessed the ascension?"

Ben: "Because the Magisterium has the final say and their word is absolute."

Dunning_Kruger in rampant mode.









Crude said...

Ben,

Well, the problem is what you're asking people to do is get beyond the slogans, cheerleading and the like. Honest to God, that's like 99% of it for some (many? most?) people. The task of actually thinking things through, investigating and discussing? That's not nearly as fun. In fact, it's pretty scary at times.

Again, it ties back into science. Praising science, saying you 'believe science' is one thing. Actually doing science? That can actually be pretty hard. Which is why so many of the guys who talk it up, seem allergic to actually doing any.

BenYachov said...

So Paps now thinks if he just says "Dunning_Kruger" instead of "Jewish Zombie" or "superstition" or whatever tedious bullshit he is prone to say that means what?

It makes him look really smartly?

He think real goodly Joe?

Awesome!

BenYachov said...

>The task of actually thinking things through, investigating and discussing? That's not nearly as fun. In fact, it's pretty scary at times.

I hear ya bro. Reasoning, logic & science are learned skills just because you deny gods doesn't automatically make you rational.

(least anybody accuse me of thinking otherwise just because you believe in God or pray to St Thomas Aquinas doesn't automatically grant you knowledge of Thomism).

Gnus like their religious fundamentalist counterparts act as if the mere denial of gods makes them instantly rational & scientifically competent.

It doesn't. But I might call this phenomena "Cheap Rationalism".

In ode to Bonhoeffer who coined the term "cheap grace" for Christian believers who thought answering some altar call or being baptized made them instantaneously Saints without having to work at it (James 2:24).

There is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity....

B. Prokop said...

To return to the original OP, the key term in considering the DK Effect is overconfidence, and not just confidence, per se.

I am in my 60's, and as Victor knows, have been considering the Big Questions for as long as I can remember. It seems to me that after decades of seeing all the arguments go a particular way, plus having access to 2000+ years of discussion on these same issues by men far more capable than myself, a bit of confidence in one's beliefs is quite justified.

In fact, at this point a show of false humility or feigned uncertainty would be just as great an instance of intellectual arrogance as any "over"confidence.

It's not some display of overconfidence for me to assert a heliocentric solar system, thanks to my accepting the conclusions of the experts on this subject. (After all, I didn't discover it!)

My point is, let's be diligent in distinguishing between justified confidence and overconfidence. You can't just yell, "Dunning-Kruger" everything someone makes an assertion.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob, you may possess some degree of confidence in your skills at arguing for theism, but I am not sure that the DKE could properly be invoked at your conclusions. (I can imagine a board, much like debate judges, scoring one's ability to address certain arguments according to historical standards and based on understanding of the concepts, etc.)

Interestingly, at first I assumed that the DKE should not be properly applied to something like confidence in metaphysical beliefs (as opposed to confidence in how one scores in tests of skill). But now I wonder if it might actually have something to say about the confidence of theists as opposed to atheists (and their metaphysical conclusions), as well as introduce the question of how one might form an objective test for scoring how it is that one arrives at a conclusion of a particular religion or atheism.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

I am quite confident (and most certainly not overly so) that Mr. Loftus has a test in mind for your consideration.

(HINT: It's the same test as described by G.K. Chesterton in his 1925 book The Everlasting Man - though just try and get Loftus to admit this!)

B. Prokop said...

One of my favorite passages from that book:

"[T]he next best thing to being really inside Christendom is to be really outside it. ... [T]he popular critics of Christianity are not really outside it. They are on a debatable ground, in every sense of the term. They are doubtful in their very doubts. Their criticism has taken on a curious tone; as of a random and illiterate heckling. ... Their whole atmosphere is the atmosphere of a reaction: sulks, perversity, petty criticism. They still live in the shadow of the faith and have lost the light of the faith."

Crude said...

As far as the DK effect and atheism/theism goes, I wonder if it could be suggested that it's in play for the following sort of person:

They express supreme confidence in the claim that God does not existence.
They are actually and admittedly ignorant of philosophical and metaphysical arguments for God's existence.
They are committed to atheism in a public way, such that being wrong and admitting their wrong would be a serious public liability.

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