Weekly Update: to

by | January 28, 2017

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Photo of Noreen Campbell smiling and petting a horse.]

Noreen Campbell

  • [] “What is True?: Sam Harris”(Audio: 2:15:54)

    Jordan B. Peterson is the U of T professor infamous for his “principled” refusal to address people by their preferred gender pronouns, because it violates his freedom of speech due to something something something. But this discussion with Sam Harris not about that; it’s about Peterson’s extreme Pragmatist view of “truth”. Sam Harris himself admits that even after two hours of talking, he couldn’t grok it… if you have have two hours to spare want to take a punt at it, go for it.

    h/t Derek Gray

  • [] It’s time to drain the swamp at CBC News

    Our public broadcaster was arguably exploited by Kevin O’Leary as a tool to build his own private brand, which he is now cashing in on. But does that represent a pattern of “rot” at the CBC that needs to be cleaned out?

  • [] MyDemocracy.ca — Online digital consultation and engagement platform

    The results of the Government’s vague and unfocused survey are in, and to no one’s surprise, they are… vague and unfocused.

  • [] Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case allegedly targeted 2nd Canadian child

    Aydin Coban, the man accused of harassing and bullying Amanda Todd, driving her to suicide, has started his trial in the Netherlands for charges of bullying 39 other victims (not including Todd), which apparently includes at least one other Canadian child. The RCMP is looking to extradite Coban to Canada to stand trial for bullying Todd. Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, ran a crowd-funding campaign to finance a trip to the Netherlands, and is following the trial.

  • [] “Atheists: you’re not as rational as you think”(Video: 1:56)

    Don’t fly off the handle due to the flame-bait title; this two-minute video reminds that being purely rational is not only probably beyond the reach of humans, it might not even be a good thing in practice.

  • [] Our tribute to British Columbia’s Noreen Campbell

    Noreen Campbell was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and on she took advantage of her right to medical assistance in dying, and passed peacefully in her home. Although she satisfied the draconian requirements to be eligible for assisted dying, she spent her last weeks helping Dying With Dignity Canada, recording a series of video messages that DWDC will start releasing .

  • [] Alberta’s right doubtless dismayed as The Economist boots the U.S.A. off its list of ‘full democracies’

    According to The Economist’s reckoning, the US is now a “flawed democracy”. Canada remains a “full democracy”, ranked 6th most “free” in the world, our score rising quite a bit since the Harper era.

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6 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Tim Undewrwood

    Andrew Mitrovicia is hilarious, in a good way.

    Yes, Rex is a Roman Catholic propagandist.
    Yes, Ayn Rand advocated foolish economics.

    They both are entertaining and thought-provoking.

    O’Leary? I never, ever, listened to anything he said so I can only make assumptions. Is he another pro-Church supporter of Ayn Rand’s atheistic individualism? These people are highly deluded.

    Did I mention that I enjoyed Ayn Rand’s extraordinary praise of human males. She certainly had the “hots” for men.

    My prediction is this: Climate Change will render all these testosterone fueled economic growth pimps irrelevant. Rex and his soul companion, Ralph Goodale, will continues to advocate for the Vatican’s involvement in Canadian education and health care with public funding.

    1. Indi Post author

      > O’Leary? I never, ever, listened to anything he said so I can only make assumptions. Is he another pro-Church supporter of Ayn Rand’s atheistic individualism?

      I am not aware of O’Leary saying anything relating to religion, though I seriously doubt he is religious, in the normal sense.

      However, he has said *tons* of things that are anti-science, and anti-reason in general. The character he played – if it was a character – was religious in the sense that he worshipped the free market, to the point of absurdity. He was clearly trying to be a caricature of a neo-liberal. He would say stupid things like that we should leave the global warming issue to the free market (“buy all the polar bears life jackets”) – without any carbon tax, of course – and things like that wealth/income inequality was a positive thing (“3 billion people live in poverty? fantastic!”). He’s shouted down environmentalists and people pushing for social justice, calling them names on the air (he actually got into trouble with CBC’s standards for that a couple times). He also famously proposed selling Senate seats to the highest bidder.

      Obviously he was mugging for the camera, but the issue is that we now have no clue how much of his acting really was acting, and how much was actually in line with what he really believes. Because even when he was off-camera, there is no indication that he *disagrees* with anything he ever said on-camera. Quite the opposite, in fact: while his on-camera persona may have been mouthier, it seems perfectly in line with his real, personal beliefs. We’ve learned this lesson with Trump: everyone who said “he was just acting; he was just shooting his mouth off; when he takes power he won’t be *that* crazy, he’ll be intelligent, reasonable, and thoughtful” is now quietly hiding in shame at how wrong they were, as the man *literally* banned immigration from Muslim countries – and less literally but quite true in effect, banned Muslims specifically – mere days after taking power… exactly as he said he’d do as far back as 2015.

  2. Randy

    “something something something”

    Yes, we know you decided not to think about this, because he has a legitimate point, and that frightens you. It means you might be wrong.

    As for truth, this was a philosophical discussion on epistemology. Jordan’s position seems rational, based on the idea that we know we cannot know “truth” if there is such a thing, but we can learn things which prove useful to us over time, and which may approximate real “truth”.

    Sam appears to believe that there are real, fixed “truths”, AND that the word “truth” represents this thing. Apparently in a short few thousand years, we’ve learned some “truth”. Despite the seeming unlikelihood of this, it’s not even verifiable.

    1. Indi Post author

      > Yes, we know you decided not to think about this, because he has a legitimate point, and that frightens you. It means you might be wrong.

      If you believe he actually has a legitimate point for refusing to acknowledge peoples’ – paying clients’ – identities while on the job, surely you can articulate what it is. Don’t tell me that I’m too afraid to hear the point, tell me the point… unless you’re too afraid to spell out it because you think you might be wrong.

      Go ahead, frighten me, if you think you’re so terrifying.

      > As for truth, this was a philosophical discussion on epistemology. Peterson’s position seems rational, based on the idea that we know we cannot know “truth” if there is such a thing, but we can learn things which prove useful to us over time, and which may approximate real “truth”.

      That much he and Harris – and any modern thinker, really – agree on. Where Harris and Jordan disagree is whether we should call facts “true” if they are useful, rather than based on our confidence of how well they approximate reality.

      Despite what you seem to think, Peterson also agrees there are real, fixed, objective facts – things that are, by our current use of the word, true – regardless of their utility to us. He just says those are not what we should consider “truths”. He and Harris were pretty much talking across each other, because Harris kept trying to apply “true” to physical facts – which, of course, Peterson couldn’t give a coherent response to – while Peterson kept trying to apply them to “moral facts” or “practical facts” (while Harris kept saying “yes, but” to his moral and pragmatic conclusions to go back to facts about objective reality). For example, Peterson never challenged Harris’s claims that the disease was virulent whether or not the researchers knew it, or whether or not they let it get out of control. He only asserted that “experimenting with the disease was a good idea” was “true” depending on whether a cure was developed or it got loose and caused an outbreak.

      Another way you could look at it is that Harris wants to apply “true” to things we’re not *sure* are actually objectively true as a tentative stamp of confidence in its alignment with objective reality, while Peterson wants to apply “true” based on its post-hoc impact to humanity. But that’s why I think Peterson’s position is incoherent: he rejects Harris’s definition of truth because it’s just a guess… but his own definition of truth involved just as much guessing; the only difference between them that I see is that Harris’s “truths” can only be proven true if we become omniscient, which is impossible so it will never happen; while Peterson’s “truths” can be proven true if someone or something outlasts humanity and looks back. So technically, Peterson’s “truths” *can* be known… just never to the people they’re actually “true/false” for. Which makes his definition, ironically, useless. We have to speculate on what is true either way: with Harris’s model we speculate based on our estimates of how well it approximates objective reality, and with Peterson’s based on how useful we *think* it might be for us. Peterson’s might seem more “rational” because, well, it’s more pragmatic… but it falls apart if you stretch the thinking just a bit. For example, suppose humans come up with a body of “truths” (in the Peterson sense) that are useful to them… and then meet another intelligent species with a whole different set of “truths” that are useful to *them*… and now as the two species merge into a single unified cultural, social, and political entity, both have to rewrite their “truths” to a *new* set of “truths” that are useful to the combination of species. Peterson would argue, I imagine, that any “truths” we have to discard or modify simply weren’t “truths” – we were just wrong to think they were. But how is that any different from situations were Harris-style “truths” have to be modified when we learn new science? Peterson’s definition of truth “fixes” nothing, in practice.

      Ultimately, if Peterson gets his way and we start using “truth” to talk about “facts that are useful”, then we’d have to create another word to mean “facts that we are confident approximate reality”. Because there is no way to square the two definitions; the two were talking about completely different things.

  3. Randy

    “drain the swamp”?

    It’s time the close the bank account. CBC makes money from ads, cable fees, and taxation.

    And instead of encouraging full participation, and reflecting the full views of Canadians proportionately, CBC is authoritarian, and chooses which views may be included, and which are unacceptable. If that’s what people want, they can pay for it themselves, Nobody should be taxed for a service that permanently excludes them from the discussion, except to demean them.

    1. Tim Underwood

      Unimaginable. Canada without CBC radio.
      CBC is coming along. Commercial radio is much further behind. We have to assume the leadership role until the CBC catches up. They are suffering, to some extent, from religion induced dementia. All delusions are experiential. Quite a few Canadians continue to accept delusions as actual external evidence.

      This new therapy going around, called Street Epistemology, is really psychotherapy specifically designed for those afflicted by fake knowledge that was acquired by practicing acts of intense stubbornness.


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