John Loftus: Misdirection All Over Again

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In a post titled, “Christian Apologists Dishonestly Discuss Peter Boghossian’s Method,” John Loftus has published a video criticizing two talks Tim McGrew and I have given on Peter Boghossian-style “Street Epistemology.” His attacks return upon himself.

Inference and Rebuttal: Misdirection In Action

The video’s first clips imply that Tim and I believe “Fragenblitzen” is something like a universal Street Epistemologist (SE) tactic: “Street Epistemologists ask rapid questions to confuse.” We didn’t say that. It counters that supposed belief with two clips totaling 78 seconds.

Loftus should know better. Anthony Magnabasco made the video; Loftus is responsible to the extent that he’s publicizing it. They’re both engaging in a tactic of misdirection here by cherry-picking one fragment out of our conversations, making us look bad by groundlessly that we believe every SE encounter includes Fragenblitzen.

Where’s the dishonesty there?

Then Magnabasco tries to rebut it by presenting a couple SE encounters that don’t include Fragenblitzen. Where’s the critical thinking there? Two instances of no-Fragenblitzen do not demonstrate never-Fragenblitzen. Any logical thinker knows that.

The video with its (very helpfully labeled) “respectful pause” shows the SE in a positive emotional light, however. It’s personally compelling. It’s also entirely irrelevant to the question we raised concerning the possible use of Fragenblitzen by SEs.

View it again and see what I mean. What are your feelings toward the SEs? Positive, I’m sure. There’s some effective feelings-based persuasion going on here.

Does the video demonstrate, though, that we made the error they claim we made? No. Does it prove that SEs never use Fragenblitzen? No. In other words, has it proved us wrong or foolish in anything we’ve said? No.

But it has effectively shown us to seem less respectful than SEs, and to have completely misunderstood them. I’ll grant that fact, but I’ll also point out how heavily edited this video is. Your view is directed toward what the editor wants you to see.

Misdirection Explained

If you took the time to see the entire talks from which these clips were taken, you’d hear me describing the way magicians fool others through directing their attention away from one thing and onto another. My son has been a professional magician. Some of his tricks are completely obvious from a distance, where the viewer can easily take in the whole scene. But the person he’s doing the trick on is close in, where Jonathan can easily direct his attention away from what’s really going on. He’s totally fooled.

Magicians call this misdirection. Video editors can accomplish the same thing by presenting short clips, and letting viewers assume they’re accurate representations of the whole.

Discerning viewers know better. Loftus should know better. Probably he does. Magicians know what they’re doing, when they’re fooling people through misdirection. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same were true of Loftus. (And Magnabasco.)

Misdirection In Action

This becomes especially relevant at about 5:50 in the video, where we hear Tim McGrew saying, “It’s not a strategy of critical thinking, it’s a strategy of clever misdirection.” The video’s response here is classic. There’s no presentation of the argument leading up to this statement. There’s no indication of what “It” refers to in this sentence.

Instead the video proceeds to turn the viewer away from our reasoning, and toward an out-of-context clip that shows the SE interacting “respectully” (as it once again helpfully informs us)—while providing no information whatever on how the SE actually conducted his discussion.

This is misdirection being used to show that there’s no misdirection being used!

Loftus and Magnabasco should both know better.

They probably do. And yet they accuse us of being dishonest.

There so much more I could say, but I’m not sure it’s worth the time. I’d rather you view one of the presentations this video drew from. Don’t draw conclusions out of context. Listen to the whole thing before you decide what we mean by what we say. (The video from New Orleans was formerly available for a nominal charge, at a web address I can’t find right now.)

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62 Responses to “ John Loftus: Misdirection All Over Again ”

  1. When you have to resort to cute and clever tricks it does little more than betray the weaknesses in your own thinking. I can defend my worldview with straight up logical reasoning. Why can’t Loftus defend his that way? Does he even have a worldview?

  2. It sounds to me that loftus and boghossian are running scared so they have to make it up that you guys are supposedly misrepresenting things . If that isn’t a straw man argument I don’t know what is . I’ve been following loftus recently and I have to say that his crying and craving for attention at the present time is really quite remarkable . The quest to win others over is failing miserably in my view thus the resort to more extreme measures to get the message across . Don’t be fooled Tom . I think you and McGrew are quite a formidable team actually . So keep it up . Battles are being won .

  3. My reply in one of their comboxes (“pRinzler”), still under moderation:

    Epistemological knots are easy to create in 20 minutes or less. None of the dialogues of the SE go on for an hour or more of one on one face time. Ontological clarifications and linguistic assumptions take that kind of time to unpack in a manner which affords two parties meaningful agreement on terms and presuppositions. Hence the SE project simply doesn’t house the needed substrate to do the *work* it claims it is doing. Anyone with a little experience in philosophical regressions gets the failure there. However, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and, hence, the SE is *benefiting* someone, even if not achieving its (claimed) goal of mutual insight. Take the term “God”. Right there two people will likely need a generous dose of metaphysical unpacking. As D. Hart notes, so much of our Atheist’s friends are merely lamenting Non-Christian truth claims as their (the Atheist’s) premises display a lack of even a basic understanding of that which is not (say) “a being” but rather “Being Itself”. And that’s just the *first* word in a very long “question” posed by our SE friends. In online threads it’s always impressive how many back and forth comments it takes *just* to be sure each party’s epistemological constructions are actually referencing the same concept. “By X do you mean so and so?” “Well, not quite, given that X also entails such and such.” And so on. Mutual insight. Unfortunately it is painfully obvious that the goal of dialogue and mutual insight can’t take place in the SE model as we’re simply missing two ingredients which these SE items simply haven’t demonstrated: philosophical work and investment of time.

  4. Using media editing techniques to show your opponent unfair or stupid is so juvenile and desperate. It’s so obviously not an argument but a hit piece. And these are geniuses in the atheist community?

  5. Revised a bit and posted there under the main / general heading, awaiting moderation:

    Epistemological knots are easy to create in 20 minutes or less. None of the dialogues of the SE go on for an hour or more of one on one face time.

    Also, the premise that advanced calculus (or what have you) must be false on the grounds that, say, a 14 year old (or what have you) can’t construct the grounds thereof is itself a silly premise, a silly way to challenge said teen’s intention to go on learning “math” (or what have you), much less can such a premise serve to challenge “math” itself (or what have you).

    Ontological clarifications and linguistic assumptions take that kind of time to unpack in a manner which affords two parties meaningful agreement on terms and presuppositions. Hence the SE project is, from the get-go, illegitimate as its model simply doesn’t house the needed substrate to do the *work* it claims it is doing. Anyone with a little experience in philosophical regressions gets the failure there. However, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and, hence, the SE is *benefiting* someone, even if not achieving its (claimed) goal of mutual insight.

    Take the term “God”.

    Right there two people will likely need a generous dose of metaphysical unpacking. As D. Hart notes, so much of our Atheist friends are merely lamenting, challenging, Non-Christian truth claims as their (the Atheist’s) premises display a lack of even a basic understanding of that which is not (say) “a being” but rather “Being Itself”, and so on. And that’s just the *first* word in a very long “question” posed by our SE friends. On charity we have to grant that the SE has a compelling reason that his own terms of necessity, or of brute fact, or what have you, are oddly missing in the SE’s concessions of their own presuppositions, their own explanatory terminus.

    In online threads it’s always impressive how many back and forth comments it takes *just* to be sure each party’s epistemological constructions are actually referencing the same concept. Question: “By X do you mean so and so?” Reply: “Well, not quite, given that X also entails such and such.” And so on. Mutual insight. Unfortunately it is (it seems to be, at least, from what we have been shown) painfully obvious that the goal of dialogue and mutual insight can’t take place in the SE model as it is, undeniably, missing two ingredients which simply haven’t been demonstrated: the cost of real, and mutual, philosophical work, and, that costly investment of time to do said work. An hour doesn’t make the grade as, again, any platform can be tied into epistemological knots in such an oddly constrained “Model Of Dialogue”. Investing time in one another, particularly in those we disagree with, isn’t easy, and affording charity to all comers is equally difficult. The personal cost of charity towards each other is high, and time consuming, and painful, but only by such means can the ends we hope for begin to actualize.

  6. @Michael Babbitt:

    And these are geniuses in the atheist community?

    We are talking about John Loftus and P. Boghossian here, intellectual mediocrities.

  7. “Ephemerol” asked a question of Tom Etc.

    My reply is in moderation and is as follows:

    Ephemerol,

    Your question is a good one where you ask,

    Please, do us all the favor of explaining how anyone can “know something truly and reliably without knowing how they know it.” I mean, if nothing else, if nobody can say you know, how can anyone say how true or reliable it is? Pretty please? And I guess I’ll need to say up front, without employing logical fallacies left and right! If Gilson/McGrew are not too embarrassed to reply at all, then this is gonna be good…..

    Again, your question about knowing X without knowing how we know X is a good question and it is philosophically *rich* given the nature of perception, of mind, of knowledge. Realism and anti-realism emerge and, if the game is to push and push and push until what you claim you “know” runs up against this or that ontological seam, well then, the Theist and the Naturalist have their own sets of means and ends, only, such requires a very different model of dialogue than either you or I are afforded by the SE Model Of Dialogue.

    The average person knows quite a lot about this and that, but, as to how it is that he or she knows this and that, well, it’s pretty easy to take any reply and turn it into epistemological knots. A brief quote from E. Feser gives us a glimpse on just how bumpy said topography can be given that all one must do is roll one’s eyes at whatever “layer” of “knowing” the reply rests upon and proceed to peel it back just one more layer and, thereby, reveal the “blind spot” in this or that, in almost any, reply:

    Begin quote:

    “At Aeon, philosopher Elijah Millgram comments on metaphysics and the contemporary analytic philosopher’s penchant for appealing to intuitions. Give it a read — it‘s very short. Millgram uses an anecdote to illustrate the point that what intuitively seems to be an objective fact can sometimes reflect merely contingent “policies we’ve adopted,” where “the sense of indelible rightness and wrongness comes from having gotten so very used to those policies.” And of course, such policies can be bad ones. Hence the dubiousness of grounding metaphysical arguments in intuition.

    As longtime readers know, I agree completely. But contrary to what some critics of metaphysics seem to think, the dubiousness of this method of doing metaphysics doesn’t entail that metaphysics itself is dubious. All it entails, of course, is that that particular method is dubious. Millgram himself is aware that this is all that follows — he says that he doesn’t think metaphysics has to make dubious appeals to intuition, only that “a lot of it does” in fact do so. And that is certainly true of contemporary metaphysics.

    Which is odd, since it most definitely is not true of Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) metaphysics, or of a lot of other traditional approaches in metaphysics. So why on earth do many contemporary philosophers — whether they are sympathetic to metaphysics as a discipline or suspicious of it — think that the resort to intuitions is essential to it?

    The reason, I think, is that it is commonly supposed these days that the only thing for philosophy to be, if it is not some kind of natural science, is “conceptual analysis” — identifying the constituent parts of a concept, explicating its relations to other concepts, and so forth. And “conceptual analysis” is understood as the investigation of the way we happen to “carve up” the world conceptually and linguistically.

    To be sure, for the early modern rationalist, how we so “carve up” the world necessarily corresponds to the world as it is in itself, at least where our most fundamental concepts (substance, causality, etc.) are concerned. For the Kantian, while these concepts do not correspond to the world as it is in itself, the mind nevertheless has to “carve it up” in just the ways it does. For early analytic philosophy in its various forms (Russell’s logical atomism, Wittgenstein’s early and later philosophies, logical positivism, and so forth) the analysis of language could determine the boundaries of intelligible discourse, and decisively show certain ideas, arguments, and problems to be meaningless, confused, or in some other way conceptually unsalvageable.

    But contemporary philosophy has abandoned anything as ambitious as all that. For many contemporary philosophers, “conceptual analysis” can at best reveal the way our minds have been contingently molded to “carve up” the world – by evolutionary forces, say, or by the surrounding culture, or what have you. On this view, “conceptual analysis” can reveal the deepest assumptions that underlie the way thought and language “carve up” reality, the ones abandonment of which we would have the most difficult time making sense of or adjusting to, because such abandonment would have such wide-ranging repercussions. These are the “intuitive” elements of our conceptual scheme.

    Precisely because they are so fundamental and widely shared, the contemporary metaphysician thinks these “intuitions” well worth investigating, and something which can yield powerful premises for philosophical argument. But because they are also widely taken to be contingent — perhaps reflecting only the molding forces of evolution, history, culture, etc. rather than objective reality — and thus in principle revisable, critics of contemporary metaphysics understandably question the significance of conceptual analysis. They judge that any metaphysics worthy of our attention can only be that which is implicit in natural science.

    Now this bifurcation between conceptual analysis and natural science is essentially a riff on Hume’s Fork, which divides respectable propositions into “relations of ideas” and “matters of fact.” And the two bifurcations face similar problems. Hume’s Fork itself is neither true by virtue of the relations of the ideas expressed in it, nor by virtue of the empirically ascertainable facts. Hence it presupposes precisely the sort of third perspective it purportedly rules out.

    And the same thing is true of the distinction between conceptual analysis and natural science. This bifurcation is not itself something arrived at via conceptual analysis, nor (unless we frontload some question-begging premises) is it something confirmed by any findings of natural science. Hence the very attempt to maintain that philosophy can only be either a kind of natural science or an exercise in conceptual analysis itself presupposes that there is a third kind of thing for it to be.

    This third kind of enterprise is what A-T philosophers and other traditional metaphysicians take metaphysics to be. The failure to see this leads to persistent misunderstanding. For example, Ladyman and Ross, in their influential book Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized, dismiss contemporary “conceptual analysis”-oriented metaphysics as “neo-scholastic.” But the epithet is inept and ill-informed, since mere “conceptual analysis” is precisely what A-T and other Scholastic writers claim not to be doing. Consider also the difficulty (usefully discussed by Gaven Kerr in chapter 3 of his fine book Aquinas’s Way to God: The Proof in De Ente et Essentia) of comparing Thomist and analytic conceptions of existence, since for the Thomist the issue is irreducibly metaphysical whereas the analytic tradition has, by contrast, tended to approach it from the point of view of semantics and formal logic — thereby in effect confining discussion, question-beggingly, to the “conceptual analysis” or “relations of ideas” side of the post-Humean divide. The analytic critic of Thomism thus tends to talk past, rather than directly address, the Thomist’s arguments.

    That the very attempt to wedge metaphysics into the Procrustean “either natural science or conceptual analysis” bed presupposes that there is something outside that bed suffices to show that metaphysics need not rest on intuition-cum-conceptual-analysis. But there are other considerations that show the same thing. We can see this both from a consideration of the things to which we apply the concepts the conceptual analyst analyzes, and from a consideration of the minds which do the analyzing. In both cases, the “policies” and “habits” referred to by Millgram presuppose that which is not a product of mere policy or habit……”

    End quote.

    How do we know mathematics conforms to the “actual” shape of reality? Well, conformational holism fails us, and moves towards symmetry are more appealing, but, either way, the realist in us must commit to some ontological seam somewhere. Math? Reality? Axiomatic? Useful fiction?

    The elementary constitutions of calculus vis-à-vis actuality may, at the end of the day, should you try to assert knowledge therein, leave us all wondering why in the world you think you know what you claim to know.

    Anyone who has done the hard work of reasoning, of following logic’s relentless demand for lucidity “through and through” will have a bit more humility than is found demonstrable in your reply, and, also, will have a metaphysically robust answer on this or that truth claim upon reality, to explanatory termini at least as coherent as yours (and so on).

    And that’s the problem – how – on charity – as real human beings dialoguing with real human beings – to get to those termini. The SE just doesn’t come to the table with the right “Model Of Dialogue” to get us to that point.

    Not even close.

    The premise that advanced calculus (or what have you) must be false on the grounds that, say, a 14 year old (or what have you) can’t construct the grounds thereof there on the street in 59 minutes or less is itself a silly premise, a silly way to challenge said teen’s intention to push ahead with it anyway, to go on learning “math” (or what have you), much less can such a premise serve to challenge math *itself*. And so on.

    And if the qualifier for Knowing How You Know is just that sort of robust answer which carries all layers to the Nth degree – well then neither you nor the Christian has had the proper format afforded them (here in the SE’s Model) to convince anyone that either you or he knows anything at all.

    You certainly haven’t done so – not by the above standard. And one can always push any reply you give just one more step outward – such that – perhaps – you may not know anything “real” at all. In other words, you may not know anything at all and even your truth claim of knowing (Etc.) “2 + 2” is consumed atop the altar of eliminative materialism (or what have you).

    Hard Stop.

    But all of that would require a “Model Of Dialogue” very, very different than what we’ve been afforded in the current Model (SE) under review.

    If you doubt any of these means and ends as to “knowing” and as to “real”, then I’m afraid you *may* have problems with your claims about knowing in that you may in fact be claiming to know things about knowing all the while you cannot show us, here, now, in 59 minutes or less, HOW it is that you “know” said things about “knowing”. And if you need an hour, or more, to connect the intellectual and metaphysical dots for us, well then, you’ll have be disqualified from the get-go per the nuances of the “SE Model Of Dialogue” currently under review. Feser’s quote is only a brief excerpt, and this entire comment is all very, very elementary and fundamental, so much so that anyone with a bit of “knowledge about knowledge” comes to such a thorny table with some degree of humility, and any seeming lack of said humility would be revealing to say the least. The nature of knowledge, of mind, of perception, of “how do you know that” does, eventually, end up in a landscape ripe with ontological seams and contours (as I’m sure you know).

    What a pity that folks of differing explanatory termini (and so on) can’t actually dialogue in a format that is actually conducive to mutual insight. There are formats for doing just that, only, the current “Model” under review fails on all counts to qualify for said status.

  8. FWIW:

    (Long reply by Ephemerol….)

    Ephemerol,

    You claim the 12 year old would be believing correctly, though he can’t explain why, can’t get past the most elementary claims with his own explanatory skills.

    So you agree with Tom’s premise about knowledge.

    ~~~~~~

    Don’t worry Tom – there’s no play by play ensuing…. just throwing that last one into the mix…..

  9. You guys specialize in straw men or what?

    And after your nearly 2,000 word comment, you call my 600 word comment “lengthy”?

  10. Welcome, ephemerol. Scbrownlhrm is well known in these parts for his lengthy comments. We’ve had that conversation here before.

    As for straw men, no, we don’t specialize in that here. But honestly, when scbrownlhrm mentioned an exchange with you, I didn’t bother going to look it up. I figured if there was a conversation going on somewhere else, it could go on somewhere else. I’d just as soon have us not worry about that one so we can have ours here, which you’re more than welcome to take part in.

  11. Thanks Tom.

    Just a blurb. Not looking to ditto a play-by-play, carry on an off-topic conversation, or troll (with even 600 word comments) either.

  12. Ephemerol,

    Instead of your own (seemingly) uncharitable reading of this exchange by TM/TG, perhaps you’d like for them to actually tell you what they meant by these words:

    TG: Can you know something truly and reliably without knowing how you know it?

    TM: Yes.

    TG: Of course.

    TM: And I got to say that as an epistemologist.

    You asked:

    “Please, do us all the favor of explaining how anyone can “know something truly and reliably without knowing how they know it.” I mean, if nothing else, if nobody can say you know, how can anyone say how true or reliable it is? Pretty please? And I guess I’ll need to say up front, without employing logical fallacies left and right! If Gilson/McGrew are not too embarrassed to reply at all, then this is gonna be good…..”

    Perhaps you can obtain an answer to your question by, as one human being, merely asking another human being for a clarification rather than pouring yourself into what seems to be an uncharitable read of someone else’s statement.

    It’s just a suggestion.

    It’s perfectly on topic – especially given that it helps unpack this main driving point about the SE Model of one human being interfacing with another human being:

    On charity we find that what may appear, after 20 minutes, or even after an hour, to be confusion in fact is nothing more than a demonstration of the fact that mutual insight takes the duo of two parties doing some hard work, and, paying charity’s costly price-tag of investing time in and with the person sitting across from you. The SE Model just doesn’t afford that level of interaction and, hence, it is not up to doing the task which it claims it is seeking to do.

  13. Hi Tom, the part of the video that quotes you two guys is as I say it is.

    I’ll watch the full video and comment on it later. Thanks for that since I hadn’t seen it.

  14. Scbrownlhrm is well known in these parts for his lengthy comments.

    Actually, I’m not convinced that it actually is Scbrownlhrm posting in #4/#6 – I understood it on first reading!

  15. The ‘how’ is in the proof. A ‘proof’ that is approximately consistent with a tolerable level of margin of error. Success in life depends on finding ‘reliable’ and not ‘right’ answers to critical questions. The reliability of your answers is what will inspire you to get up and move and stay the course inspite of challenges.

  16. Hi, John, thanks for looking into this more closely.

    The part of the video that quotes us is not what you say it is. You say it’s what we “claim he’s doing compared with what he’s actually doing.” In fact it’s neither, as I’ve explained above.

    Now, if you want to focus on just a part of the video, you could have said, “The part that quotes you two guys permits one to extrapolate toward the inferences I reached.” That might have been accurate.

    The intellectually responsible next sentence then would have been, “There’s no good way to know, however, whether such an extrapolation is correct without viewing the whole thing.”

    Or in other words, “There’s no way to know what these two guys are actually saying without viewing it all in context.”

  17. Where in “A Manual for Creating Atheists” does Peter Boghossian prescribe or even suggest using Fragenblitzen (whether by that name or otherwise) as a tactic to help people abandon faith?

  18. The video with Tom Gilson and Tim McGrew talks about street atheists using Fragenblitzen. Are there examples of street atheists doing this?

  19. Philmonomer, let’s suppose for the sake of argument that there are no such videos. It’s probably true.

    What evidence-based conclusion would you draw from that?

    Obviously that we were wrong about something. What else?

    (Note that the talk we gave that mentioned Fragenblitzen was well over a year ago. That information might help you assess what conclusions are appropriate.)

  20. Tom,

    First, when I asked my question (as to whether there were some examples), I honestly didn’t know the answer. I was interested in watching them–I thought there probably were such videos(based on what little I saw of your discussion with Tim McGrew.)

    Second, I haven’t been able to watch the whole video yet of your discussion (it’s unclear I will ever have such time)–so I don’t have anything to say in that regard.

    It sounds like you are admitting you made a mistake. Great. It happens.

  21. My Atheist professor(s) in college tried it on me.

    Several times.

    In public.

    As soon as I started showing intentions to walk their stated premise / conclusion through something far more rigorous than a mere 20 minutes would permit they, in every case, hid behind the “need” (suddenly) to go on with “class”.

    The videos do this – they ask questions without affording either party the wherewithal to do actual philosophical work, nor the needed t-i-m-e to do said work.

    It’s comical.

    And sophomoric.

    In my opinion this is far, far *worse* than Fragenblitzen.

    Why?

    Because the former (the Atheist professor) is more subtle, more dishonest, a hidden intent to hit and run – publicly

    Whereas the later (Frag/blitz) is right there, obvious, an overt question fired rapidly to stump. It’s more honest “in that” it’s easier to detect.

    On a pure percentage analysis, Atheists interlocutors by far are more often guilty of the former, while less often quilty of the later.

    Some Atheists selectively allow posts and comments favoring their view through to their webpages, even those with the F-Bomb, while Christian comments taking a “closer look” and challenging their premise don’t seem to make it through a “filter”. Such reminds me of my Atheist college professor(s) and, as such, is far, far *worse* than the Frag/blitz thing.

  22. Tom,

    I think the word “dishonest” is a difficult word, that is probably used too freely (see comment #24). Furthermore, it can be used for a variety of reasons, with a variety of meanings.

    Assessing whether or not I think it was used appropriately here would involve watching the whole video(s), and reading all that’s been written. While I LOVE to procrastinate, I’ve got things to do. 🙂

    [On a tangential note, I’ve been thinking lately that every (honest) disagreement–in which both sides believe they know the Truth and are trying to convince the other–probably ultimately (has to??? Is that right?? must?) end with each side thinking the other side is being “dishonest.” Why? Because, at the end of the disagreement, if you’ve failed to convince the other side of what you know to be True–there can be no other reason for your failure to convince them then their failure to see/understand/perceive the Truth. In essence, the other side is being “intellectually dishonest”–by wrongly discounting some piece of evidence, failing to see a logical conclusion, etc. that you’ve tried to point out to them. It pretty much has to end badly (although, at best, one can hope that the other person is “honestly” deluded.) —Ugh. See, now I’ve procrastinated, by spending too much time on this.]

  23. I admit that I have not seen John’s video yet or any of yours so I would like to ask a couple of questions.

    1. Is the video that you claim to be edited to make you look bad, is that from one video or is it a mashup of several videos? The reason I ask is because if it is all from a single video perhaps you can get an unedited copy of it and post that so we can all see how it was manipulated.

    2. Is the second video you have in your post, is that the video John’s video was edited from? If not, then posting that video doesn’t really show that John’s video was heavily edited to make you look bad. You could look great in your video and still have done what John’s video purports to happen. Look at it this way – if you were in court for jaywalking on Friday and the police showed a video of you jaywalking. You could claim that their video was manipulated to make it seem like you were jaywalking but then presenting a second video made days earlier on Monday showing you to cross the street legally is not proof that you didn’t jaywalk on Friday.

    I’m just saying that it would strengthen your case if you were to present the uncut, unedited video from which John’s video was derived from.

  24. Philmonomer

    Given that what the SE videos *do* employ is far, far worse than Frag/blitz, your point is not only minor, but, it actually ends up as a completely unnecessary bit of data with regards to the intellectual claims being made against the (fallacious) means/ends of these videos. It really is a pity that the Socratic means and ends were not employed in this (gigantic) waste of energy by our eager SE friends as such would actually have been, well, useful.

  25. it actually ends up as a completely unnecessary bit of data with regards to the intellectual claims being made against the (fallacious) means/ends of these videos.

    If the “it” you are referring to here is my tangential note, then we agree. (yay!)

  26. Patrick, your first question was answered in the OP. If you haven’t read that or viewed either of the videos, please do so before asking questions. Thanks.

  27. Philmonomer,

    Actually, the points about “the presence or absence of Frag/blitz” are the completely unnecessary bits of data with regard to the intellectual claims being made against the (fallacious) means/ends of these videos.

    Comment #24 (here) alludes (in part) to some (not all) of those fallacious items. There’s some more descriptives in another thread – that being comment #8 in the “Boghossians Street Epistemology: Not The Socratic Method” thread (which I addressed to John Loftus).

    It really is a pity that the Socratic means and ends were not employed in this (gigantic) waste of energy by our eager SE friends as such would actually have been, well, useful.

  28. Tom, do you have access to the original video so we can see what was actually said by you?

    Is the second video a different one from the one that John is showing?

  29. Patrick, the first video isn’t very carefully hidden. Do you see a video frame in the OP? That’s it. There’s a series that begins there, and you can find it by clicking on the video to play it in its YouTube location.

    Do you see what I wrote just above that about the second one?

    (The video from New Orleans was formerly available for a nominal charge, at a web address I can’t find right now.)

    That’s not very well hidden in the OP either.

    The second video, to answer your question more specifically, is different from the one John is showing: it’s longer. A lot. It actually includes the context.

  30. scbrownlhrm

    What are the fallacies embedded in the SE approach you allude to in #31? I read your comment in #24 but it mentions no fallacies intrinsic in the approach. You only say both parties are not allowed the time to do philosophy.

    That’s not much of an objection. If an SE did approach an A-T say, who was somewhat philosophically minded (and maybe reads Feser’s blog avidly), and was happy to engage in discussion, I am sure they could give some brief response outline. Even if they were to refer the SE to other references that articulates their position (like one of Feser’s books). What is the problem with that? Time is always a practical issue. There are ways to deal with the time poor.

    And if an SE did approach a non philosophically minded theist or non AT, that person would provide other justifications for their beliefs (if they consented do so). So? No harm there.

    I can see that this may be distasteful to you, but that is another matter. But where is the fallacy?

  31. GrahamH,

    The fallacies are housed within a matter of premise(s) / conclusion(s).

    I addressed it somewhat with John Loftus, which I’ll re-post here. I also posted it at his webpage but it seems to have not made it through a “filter”. The Non-Socratic milieu of Time is only a part of the issue. Another part of the issue is the Non-Socratic, even fallacious, issue of premise / conclusion regarding what is True / False based on what happens within that time. Another part is the Non-Socratic (and fallacious) issue of the 14 year old and the epistemological knots which I can tie him up into , or which I can tie Mr. Loftus up into, or which someone can tie me up into, and, then, the premise(s) / conclusion(s) taking place based on the actualization of said knots within dialogue. The unachieved goal of mutual insight and what Tom refers to as coming across one’s own psychological belief state come into the mix as well, and again find a fallacious premise / conclusion taking place.

    I’ll re-post it next, but the descriptives are in another thread – that being comment #8 in the “Boghossians Street Epistemology: Not The Socratic Method” thread (which I addressed to John Loftus).

  32. John Loftus,

    The question isn’t hard. It’s simply this: Is what we find on these videos the “Socratic Method”?

    So far you have not demonstrated any justification for an assertion that the SE method rises to the occasion. Mutual insight takes the duo of two parties doing some hard philosophical work with one another, and, paying charity’s costly price-tag of investing time in and with the person sitting across from you. The SE Model just doesn’t afford that level of interaction and, hence, it is not up to doing the task which it claims it is seeking to do.

    Goals are fine, but if the methodology is all wrong, one has no claim to said goals.

    You’ve not demonstrated any evidence to a justified claim of said goals. As Tom notes, pressing a human being to a point of seeing in himself this or that psychological belief state is neither the Socratic method nor the Socratic goal. In effect the premise/conclusion you’re asserting here amounts to a non sequitur.

    In a comment still lost in your moderator box I pointed out to someone that he had thus far used many more words than many of the folks in the videos and yet he was still all over the epistemological map – still coming across as confused as to what it is to know correctly what one knows while telling us *how* one knows all of this. Now, is that because he knows something but doesn’t know how he knows it, or, is that because he is confused? Not at all. Does it show that he has NO GOOD REASON for his own PSR’s? Not at all. Rather, that only demonstrates that in that particular example of “59 minutes or less” (and so on) it is the case that more clarification needs to take place, that mutual insight takes the duo of two parties doing some hard philosophical work with one another, and, that paying charity’s costly price-tag of investing time in and with the person sitting across from you isn’t “optional”. The SE Model just doesn’t afford that level of interaction and, hence, it is not up to doing the task which it claims it is seeking to do.

    Instead of seeking to discover, the Atheist simply proceeds with his own (seemingly) uncharitable reading of this exchange by TM/TG, when in fact he should have asked for clarification *if* the goal is discovery. The Atheist quotes TM/TG:

    TG: Can you know something truly and reliably without knowing how you know it?
    TM: Yes.
    TG: Of course.
    TM: And I got to say that as an epistemologist

    The typical SE method then ensues, and so, rather than discovery, the Atheist proceeds with the most uncharitable read one can possibly come up with of another’s statement and, so, states the following:

    Please, do us all the favor of explaining how anyone can “know something truly and reliably without knowing how they know it.” I mean, if nothing else, if nobody can say you know, how can anyone say how true or reliable it is? Pretty please? And I guess I’ll need to say up front, without employing logical fallacies left and right! If Gilson/McGrew are not too embarrassed to reply at all, then this is gonna be good…..”

    The SE method claims that a sentence has “arrived on scene” for which the person who spoke it can have “NO GOOD REASON” to believe, and so on.

    Discovery would, on charity, seek clarification by one human being simply asking another human being for a clarification rather than pouring oneself into what seems to be an uncharitable read of someone else’s statement. TM/TG’s obvious theme of correct knowledge amid our own incompletely articulated PSR’s combined with our own blind-spots seems self-explanatory in the context at hand, but, so goes the Non-Charity of the Non-Socratic “method” known these days as the “SE” method.

    All of this demonstrates the following point about the SE Model of one human being “interfacing” with another human being:

    On charity we find that what may appear, after 20 minutes, or even after an hour, to be confusion in fact is nothing more than a demonstration of the fact that mutual insight takes the duo of two parties doing some hard philosophical work with one another, and, that paying charity’s costly price-tag of investing time in and with the person sitting across from you is not “optional”. The SE Model just doesn’t afford that level of interaction and, hence, it is not up to doing the task which it claims it is seeking to do.

    In response to the TM/TG exchange quoted by the Atheist, the Atheist proceeded to claim that even a 12 year old knows “why” they believe something and so he (the Atheist) is just astounded that TM/TG claim that we can believe something and have no idea why or how we believe it. He gives his own example to show that even 12 year olds know WHY they believe something, such as, say, cell phones work and lots and lots of people rely on them, so, as a 12 year old, that is the “why I believe in Physics”, and so on.

    The Atheist then fails on your own terms to articulate any good reason for his conclusions about 12 year olds and their beliefs other than lots and lots of people experiencing this or that “X”. That approach is of course his own attempt to stick to his own uncharitable read of the TM/TG exchange, and so we’re just taking here, going along with it here, as he presents it. On your terms there he thus fails to articulate any good philosophical understanding about where that “lands” as it in fact lands on a PSR which the SE would reject, would label as insufficient. Repeatable experiences which lots and lots of people “rely on” can justify Platonism, or Idealism, or what have you – and thus we have a “wide open door out of Atheism” inside of his own psychological belief state, inside of his own thinking.

    So what can we conclude given such conflicting ontological directions found so easily within the Atheist’s appeals? Is the Atheist in need of abandoning his own Atheism given “that”? Of course not. Is the Atheist deluded given “that”? Of course not. Is the Atheist, having failed to articulate a robust metaphysical regression there clearly void of reason, clearly believing in his own Atheism despite having NO GOOD REASON to thusly believe – given “that”? Of course not. Not given “that”.

    However, on your terms the answer here must be “yes”, and, on the SE’s terms (from what we’ve seen at least), again – “yes”, but on the Socratic terms, the answer is, quite naturally, not at all given the obvious reality that what may appear, after 20 minutes, or even after an hour, to be confusion in fact is nothing more than a demonstration of the fact that mutual insight takes the duo of two parties doing some hard philosophical work with one another, and, that paying charity’s costly price-tag of investing time in and with the person sitting across from you isn’t “optional”. The SE Model just doesn’t afford that level of interaction and, hence, it is not up to doing the task which it claims it is seeking to do.

    The premise that advanced, say, “calculus” (or any other topic, any other X) must be FALSE on the grounds that, say, a 14 year old can’t verbally construct the grounds thereof on the street, on the fly, with the SE, in 59 minutes or less, is a silly (as in fallacious) premise, a silly (as in fallacious) way to challenge said teen’s intention to push ahead with “calculus / X” anyway, a silly way to challenge the teen’s intention to go on learning “calculus / X” anyway, much less can such a premise serve to challenge “calculus / X” itself. And so on.

    John that is all you’ve managed to show us – that (fallacious) premise(s) / conclusion(s) combo of that 14 year old.

    And that has nothing to do with the Socratic philosophy of discovery.

    You’ve simply failed to show us anything demonstrable which contradicts our justified conclusion that the SE Method fails to measure up to the Socratic Method, that the SE method in fact moves people further into mutual mis-understanding and away from the worthy goal of mutual insight.

    I sincerely doubt that you truly believe my ability to take that 14 year old, or you on some topic of which I happen to know “lots more than you”, and tie him or you up into epistemological knots in an hour or less actually amounts to any good reason for that 14 year old, or you, to doubt his X or you your X.

    On charity I conclude that you do not believe those silly/fallacious premise/conclusion combos, and, I conclude, on charity, that you’ve merely gotten your presentations here all wrong, that what you are meaning to say here you’ve just not managed to find any coherent way to say and that, given more time for discovery, surely the nature of these videos and of your verbalized PSR’s on said premise/conclusion combos will manage to amount to more than their current anti-intellectual summations.

    Now, my charitable offers may end up being wrong in that it may eventually “be the case” that at some point you really have gotten your premise/conclusion combo all wrong, that you are wrong about the SE method, but, on the limited exchanges we’ve had so far I’m not justified in making that call – especially since I’ve not bothered to sit down with you and seek clarification. And, even further, even *if* that one “specific” premise/conclusion of yours does turn out to be all wrong, can I then take the unjustified liberty to just splash some wide brushstrokes across your entire belief system, or, across your entire capacity to reason? On the Socratic principle – of course not.

    In online threads it’s always impressive how many back and forth comments it takes *just* to be sure each party’s epistemological constructions are actually referencing the same concept. Question: “By X do you mean so and so?” Reply: “Well, not quite, given that X also entails such and such.” And so on. Mutual insight. Unfortunately it is (it seems to be, at least, from what we have been shown) painfully obvious that the goal of dialogue and mutual insight can’t take place in the SE model as it is, undeniably, missing two ingredients which simply haven’t been demonstrated: the cost of real, and mutual, philosophical work, and, that costly investment of time to do said work. An hour doesn’t make the grade as, again, any platform can be tied into epistemological knots in such an oddly constrained “Model Of Dialogue”. Investing time in one another, particularly in those we disagree with, isn’t easy, and affording charity to all comers is equally difficult. The personal cost of charity towards each other is high, and time consuming, and painful, but only by such means can the ends we hope for begin to actualize.

  33. GrahamH,

    Several of my exchanges at Mr. Loftus’ page have failed to draw out from the Atheist his own (the Atheist’s own) justification for his own body of explanatory termini, and, several have also gotten censured by a “filter”, the post above being an example. Now, that is all very reminiscent of what we find taking place in the SE Model. It’s all a bit lop-sided, one-sided, as it were, as the SE is never held accountable for his own body of PSR’s, and, also, there seems to be (perhaps) a bit of filtering going on regarding challenges in a *bi*directional display. Further, should I succeed in tying up so-and-so into epistemological knots, would the Atheist then feel compelled to abandon his own body of PSR’s? Should he feel thusly? Well, neither you nor I make those sort of fundamental decisions based on such an occurrence – and for good reason.

    If I play the role of the SE, then the 14 year old will lose. And several adults will lose. And I’ll lose several based on who I’m interacting with. None of “that” gives me or you, or anyone, any good reason to doubt our “Calculus”, our “X”, nor does any of “that” give me or you, or anyone, any good reason to drop our intention to push ahead with further study of our “Calculus”, our “X”. And “that” is all the “STREET Epistemologist” can muster. It’s a one-hit affair.

    Epistemological knots.

    But neither you nor I, nor anybody, cares about such a one-hit affair when it comes to the larger, more life-long body of intellectual and existential PSR’s which constitute our “whole”, as it were. Said knots of said one-hit affairs just don’t have the wherewithal to compete with that far, far wider canopy that is each person’s “whole”.

    Would the Atheist then feel compelled to abandon his own body of PSR’s if I tie him up into said epistemological knots? The one-hit-affair? Should he feel thusly? Well, neither you nor I make those sort of fundamental decisions based on such an occurrence – and for good reason. We’ve a solid PSR informing us *not* to abandon this or that X “based on that kind of occurrence”.

    “Look! See how confused the 14 year old is when we drill him on Advanced Mathematics! Now THAT is good evidence that he’s no good reason to believe what he believes about Calculus, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that Calculus is FALSE, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that his intention to go to college and CONTINUE his studies of Mathematics, and even of Calculus, is fueled by cognitive dissonance!”

    The fallacies abound.

    I think it was JAD (I think?) who said something about Francis Schaeffer having his discussions with those of other views over a period of days and even weeks, with them as guests in his own home.

    Life, real life, is like that.

    That is the sort of wider canopy constituting our own body of intellectual and existential “whole” wherein, and by which, our own interior True/False body of premises/conclusions begins to emerge.

    The SE one-hit-wonder is mere comedy.

  34. scbrownlhrm

    I don’t see the fuss. If SE is as feeble as you say it is, I would expect your response would be to roar with laughter and tell the SE’s they are welcome to fill their boots. “Off you go and do your SE, we don’t care…it is no match for the firm convictions and robust rationale required of those within the body of Christ”, is kind of what I imagine.

    Also, I take it your demand for extended philosophical discourse, patience and the Socratic method applies equally to those discussions aimed at getting someone to join the faith, as well as questioning it. You would no doubt disprove of theists using crude techniques such as arguments from authority, circular arguments (the bible is true because it says so) and coercions (threat of hell, inducement of heaven), etc.. Equal effort is put into stamping out these “mere comedies” as well?

  35. GrahamH.,

    That you count an intellectual exploration of premises amid conclusions as “fuss” is a bit surprising.

    Though, actually, the SE’s don’t care for such intellectual explorations either.

    So you’ve that in common with them it seems.

    As noted: The mere comedy of the one-hit-wonder.

  36. scbrownlhrm

    That you count an intellectual exploration of premises amid conclusions as “fuss” is a bit surprising.

    No, that’s not the fuss. Explorations of premises is what I understand SE are doing – asking people for the justification of their faith; or, what are the faithful’s premises to back their conclusion of faith. The fuss is why you and other theists see this simple questioning as objectionable. Granted, SE should get the person’s consent for the discussion, not be pushy, be polite etc. Like I said earlier, if it is just polite questions; what is the big deal?

    I notice also you ignored my question on the apparent hypocrisy in the last paragraph of #38.

  37. Also, I have to admit I don’t know an awful lot about SE apart from what I have read here and looking at the links in the various forums spread out from this OP. So happy to be corrected on anything, but I saw a youtube video by Socrates Jones on SE here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnolOQ2DoHE and has Tom in it as well. At the end she states the apparent objective of SE:

    “Let’s keep talking about how we justify our core beliefs and explore whether or not these methods are reliable ways of knowing what is true.”

    What is there to quarrel with that? Beats me.

  38. GrahamH.,

    The comedy of the SE Model ensues vis-à-vis you.

    Regarding #41:

    The goal of mutual insight cannot occur in the time afforded by the SE Model, so it’s a no-go from the get-go. You first state that Time is not an important objection (you *did* tell me that), and then you appeal to something which requires *time* to actualize. How very reminiscent of the one-hit-wonder of the SE’s own comedy.

    Regarding #40:

    The comedy of the SE Model again ensues vis-à-vis you.

    You ask the Christian for his explanation of his claims of fallacies intrinsic to the SE Model of dialogue, and, when answered, you simply mock.

    Why all the….fuss…” is your reply to an answer to a question you asked me to explore.

    You go on to tell me that I should be laughing instead of answering a question which you asked me to answer and instead of thinking about the SE Model’s possible merits and dis-merits in the first place.

    What a surprising response by you after you asked me to explain various fallacious tie-ins.

    Did you even want an answer to your question?

    Do you make it a habit to, first, ask the Christian to explain X and then, after he explains it, you, then, tell him that he should just be laughing instead of answering your question, instead of thinking about, exploring, said X’s possible merits and dis-merits in the first place?

    You then try to change our disagreements with the SE Model to what they aren’t, you try to change them to this straw man:

    The fuss is why you and other theists see this simple questioning as objectionable…”

    That’s a common (fallacious) move of the SE as well. So you’re in good company.

    Our actual complaint is, rather, housed within the many contours which we can extricate from the following, which was noted in the answer. Granted, I should have been laughing instead of taking your question seriously, instead of thinking about the SE Model’s possible merits and dis-merits, but, our *real* objection (not your straw man) was there:

    “Look! See how confused the 14 year old is when we drill him on Advanced Mathematics! Now THAT is good evidence that he’s no good reason to believe what he believes about Calculus, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that Calculus is FALSE, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that his intention to go to college and CONTINUE his studies of Mathematics, and even of Calculus, is fueled by cognitive dissonance!”

    Now, there’s more there on that particular topic, but, since you call the Christian’s intellectual inquiry “fuss”, and since you think I should be laughing instead of thinking, instead of answering questions, instead of thinking about the SE Model’s possible merits and dis-merits, well, we need not bother. That’s a common (fallacious) move of the SE as well. So you’re in good company.

    You then try to change the Christian truth predicates regarding the human experience of knowledge, of change, of the experience of God, and so on, into what they aren’t, you try to change them to this straw man:

    I notice also you ignored my question on the apparent hypocrisy in the last paragraph of #38….” which referenced this: “……arguments from authority, circular arguments (the bible is true because it says so) and coercions (threat of hell, inducement of heaven), etc….”.

    That’s a common (fallacious) move of the SE as well. So you’re in good company.

    Granted, I should have been laughing instead of taking your question seriously, instead of thinking about the SE Model’s possible merits and dis-merits, but, our actual model of such a journey was given to you, with this:

    “I think it was JAD (I think?) who said something about Francis Schaeffer having his discussions with those of other views over a period of days and even weeks, with them as guests in his own home.

    Life, real life, is like that.

    That is the sort of wider canopy constituting our own body of intellectual and existential “whole” wherein, and by which, our own interior True/False body of premises/conclusions begins to emerge.”

    Now, there’s more there on that particular topic, but, since you call the Christian’s intellectual inquiry “fuss”, and since you think I should be laughing instead of thinking, instead of answering questions, instead of thinking about the SE Model’s possible merits and dis-merits, well, we need not bother. That’s a common (fallacious) move of the SE as well. So you’re in good company.

  39. scbrownlhrm re#42

    Time is not an important objection because the parties consent to discuss. If it is such an issue, the recipient of the question can simply say “sorry, I don’t have the time to explain it to you. Have a nice day.” If they choose to answer the question, they are obviously comfortable they have the time to do so. The power of declining a discussion based on time lies with the individuals. If you were on the receiving end of SE, you can say “no thank you” for any reason, time constraints or otherwise.

    You then go on with what seems to me some incoherent assertions and lost me. But you chastise me for making a strawman argument, before going on to make a strawman argument. I never said “Christian enquiry” was a “fuss”. I clearly was referring to your reaction to this SE enterprise. If you are arguing genuinely, I feel you would agree. Anyway….

    On the basis that the SE simply wishes to engage in the spirit of “Let’s keep talking about how we justify our core beliefs and explore whether or not these methods are reliable ways of knowing what is true.”…what is the problem with that? I still see no clear objection if that is what the SE is stating.

    Why do I think your reaction is a fuss? Well if the stated aim of SE is as per above, I would have though theists were fine to explain why they believe what they do. They would be cheerful and be happy to answer the SE. Is that not consistent with 1 Peter 3:15 as well? Or if the theist derided the SE enterprise, like you do perhaps, then yes you are free to laugh confidently at what you yourself describe as a “mere comedy”.

    I see no coherent objection.

  40. GrahamH.,

    My choosing to answer a question “on the street”, or, “on the fly”, you know – the SE thing – assumes some charitable things about the questioner. I assume that it should be safe to assume the questioner will be intellectually satisfied with a 30-second blurb from me. He does see that I am on my way to some other task, after all. Right? But, clearly, the SE folks take such a low-level answer, you know, the 30-second blurb, to be a sign of some sort of confusion in the person answering the question (me).

    You say this:

    “I never said “Christian enquiry” was a “fuss”. I clearly was referring to your reaction to this SE enterprise. If you are arguing genuinely, I feel you would agree.”

    That’s the second time you’ve mischaracterized the nature of our disagreements with the SE Model. I’ll repeat a bit of it as you’ve now done this twice:

    Our actual complaint is…. not your straw man of the Christian’s “supposedly” (per your straw man) disagreeing with good old fashioned philosophizing together, but, rather, our actual disagreement with the SE Model is, in part, found in the Time-Problem intrinsic to the SE Model (which you *did* discount), and, also, found housed within the many contours which we can extricate from the following, which was noted in the two previous answers thusly: ““Look! See how confused the 14 year old is when we drill him on Advanced Mathematics! Now THAT is good evidence that he’s no good reason to believe what he believes about Calculus, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that Calculus is FALSE, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that his intention to go to college and CONTINUE his studies of Mathematics, and even of Calculus, is fueled by cognitive dissonance!” Now, there’s more there on that particular topic, but, since you call the Christian’s intellectual inquiry “fuss”, and since you think I should be laughing instead of thinking, well, we need not bother. That’s a common (fallacious) move of the SE as well. So you’re in good company.”

    It’s very odd, odd indeed, that the 30-second blurb “on the fly” somehow fails to intellectually satisfy the SE.

    Then you repeat the mischaracterization of the nature of our disagreements with the SE Model a third time when you say this:

    “On the basis that the SE simply wishes to engage in the spirit of “Let’s keep talking about how we justify our core beliefs and explore whether or not these methods are reliable ways of knowing what is true.”…what is the problem with that? I still see no clear objection if that is what the SE is stating.”

    Then you repeat the mischaracterization of the nature of our disagreements with the SE Model a fourth time when you say this:

    “Why do I think your reaction is a fuss? Well if the stated aim of SE is as per above, I would have though theists were fine to explain why they believe what they do…”

    If you can’t employ the nature of the disagreements with the SE Model described in #35, #36, and #37, then, really, you need not expect anything other than the standard copy/paste of the above pointing out your mischaracterizations.

  41. Tom, you admit (in #22) that “it’s probably true” that there are no videos of SE’s engaging in Fragenblitzen.

    Do you often accuse others of dishonest tactics of argumentation, when you are aware of no evidence that they use such tactics? What led you to do so in this case? Where did you get this idea about SE Fragenblitzen, if you have no evidence of it?

    And of what relevance is the date of such an accusation? Did you only become aware later that you had no examples of SE’s doing what you accused them of?

  42. scbrownlhrm

    It’s a shame you assume bad intent without adequate justification. What is your evidence that I am deliberately mischaracterizing you; as opposed to not understanding, or you being inarticulate?

    In any case, I think your objections are very weak and lame.

    Re: the “time” objection – I am not familiar with an agreed social custom that makes simply asking a question rude on the presupposition that the response is intrinsically lengthy. Yours may be lengthy, others not so. Also, I don’t see it as part of the SE method to press people under the duress of time. That’s a non-objection.

    Also, your 14yo analogy is a clear strawman from what I have seen from SE. I don’t see them bamboozling people with high philosophy and then ridiculing them like your analogy charges. That’s nonsense.

    If SE is politely asking people the basis for their beliefs, I see no problem at all.

  43. Eli, your questions has all been answeret already. I’ve explained how the Fragenblitizen example took a tiny percentage of our dicussion, and how that came to be. We did not accuse Boghossian of dishonesty for Fragenblitzen alone but for a whole panoply of reasons. Our mistake was an honest one and our conclusions do not hang on it.

  44. GrahamH.,

    You stated:

    What is your evidence that I am deliberately mischaracterizing you; as opposed to not understanding, or you being inarticulate?

    What’s wrong? Do we need more *time* to understand one another? You stated that time is not a big player here. I’ve stated several times that I think time is a big player in the Socratic Model. Well? Which is it? Should we try this on the street, on the fly? Wow! Just think how “meaningfully unfruitful” that would be. Also, since I’ve stated our actual objections and you have, three or four times, tweeked them into something they are not, the label of a mischaracterization stands justified. Unless we both need more *time*.

    It’s a shame you assume bad intent without adequate justification

    See above. Also, see 1-8 below, and, see what we oh-so-obviously can and cannot conclude from the conversation below between the SE and the Passerby on his way to an appointment.

    …. Time… I am not familiar with an agreed social custom that makes simply asking a question rude on the presupposition that the response is intrinsically lengthy

    No one here is saying that any of that is rude, or that dialoging is a problem. Do we need more *time* to clarify that a fourth or fifth time?

    I don’t see it as part of the SE method to press people under the duress of time

    No one here is saying the SE presses under duress, rather, that premises and conclusions are made, drawn, inferred, based on the results of an insufficient amount of time and on other “disqualifying variables” vis-à-vis a very Non-Socratic Model. See 1-8 below, and, see what we oh-so-obviously can and cannot conclude from the conversation below between the SE and the Passerby on his way to an appointment. Unfortunately for you there is no “pressing” there. Rather, there is merely what our objections have been all along – in the premise / conclusion arena.

    If SE is politely asking people the basis for their beliefs, I see no problem at all

    We completely agree. Odd that you think we don’t.

    your 14yo analogy is a clear strawman from what I have seen from SE. I don’t see them bamboozling people with high philosophy and then ridiculing them like your analogy charges. That’s nonsense

    High philosophy? Another misdirection from our actual complaint. Ridiculing? Never said that either. Rather, it’s all about premises and conclusions. I’ve said “premise / conclusion” about five or six times so far in this thread. Do we need more *time* than just a few blurbs to make it a seventh or eighth? You said we don’t need more time so I take it that you stand by that.

    High philosophy has nothing to do with it.

    The problem intrinsic to the SE Model vis-à-vis the Atheist here is one of premises / conclusions being, firstly, inferred by the SE, and, secondly, being (by the SE) asked from the people answering the questions to also infer about their own beliefs. Those premise / conclusion inferences emerge as follows:

    1) what is true/false about reality, and about

    2) the PSR’s which currently exist behind any given topic, and about

    3) the 5 minute sound bite qualifying as evidence, and about

    4) the fact that it’s all being derived from the “grade” that the person answering “achieves” vis-à-vis his answer in the format afforded by the SE Model rather than the Socratic Model, and about

    5) the SE himself is not required to justify the premises required for his own questions – as in our ability to declare reality intelligible in the first place (and so on, and so on), (very Un-Socratic) and about

    6) the time needed in this post is proof that terms and concepts take quite a while to clarify, and the time which the SE Model affords automatically disqualifies the Model’s ability to be Socratic, and, automatically disqualifies the Model’s claim to be able to deliver that which is intellectually satisfying, and about

    7) intellectual satisfaction is something the SE expects the SE Model to be able to rightfully deliver on all 8 of these counts assuming the person answering the question has a valid belief system, and about

    8) the 10 minute sound bite qualifying as evidence in all of the above.

    The age of 14 is chosen to reveal the obviously Non-Socratic disqualifiers in play here, to reveal that an inability to articulate well, and cleanly, and robustly, on the fly, in a minute or two, or three, or four, and so on in, you know – the SE thing – really has nothing to do with any of the inferences which the SE himself is making nor with any of the inferences which the SE is asking the person answering to make about those same premises / conclusions (number 1-8 above).

    Whereas, it (the inability to articulate well, five minute sound-bite, and so on, and so on) has everything to do with the acquired verbal skills of the person answering, and with that person’s exposure, and with one’s psychological belief state, and with the afforded time, and, very often, few of us are that well adept at such verbal dancing. Intellectual satisfaction, should either party fail to experience such, tells us *nothing* about any of the premises / conclusions.

    Casual conversation:

    SE: Do you believe in biochemistry occurring in food digestion?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Yes.

    SE: Why?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, I heard of something called a stomach.

    SE: And what is that?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, I don’t know really.

    SE: What does it do?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, I don’t’ really know.

    SE: It seems like you’re a bit unsure what digestion is, or if the “stomach” is even involved. How about the biochemistry part?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, I’m not really sure, but I heard that a stomach does something in all of that.

    SE: You heard about it? Is that enough for you?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, I plan to learn more at some point.

    SE: So you’re not really sure about several parts of this?
    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, I know it exists, but how it all works I can’t say right now.

    SE: Are you going to spend your college time and money learning about something that may not even be important in the overall picture of digestion?

    Passerby on his way to an appointment: Well, it seems like an important topic, so I thought I might.

    Premise/Conclusion:

    “Now, let’s break this down. Do you see how simple, and even a bit confused, and even a bit unintellectually satisfying the 30 year old is when we ask him about his beliefs in biochemistry / food digestion? He answered, “Well, I heard of something called a “stomach””. Now THAT is good evidence that he, within himself, really has no good reason to believe what he believes about food digestion , and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that his unsophisticated “it exists” is in fact FALSE, and, then, THAT is (then) good evidence that his intention to go to college and CONTINUE his studies of this topic is fueled by cognitive dissonance, because, clearly, he really couldn’t give us a good justification for his belief that “it exists”, and, so, since he can’t do that, and yet still believes in biochemistry and food digestion, then his belief, not being based on reason, must be based on some level of delusion, or on some level of cognitive dissonance. All of this is evidence which sways toward favoring that we’ve been accurate all along about the 30 year old and about the Non-Existence of that particular X. Now, all of this helps us realize some of the falsehoods intrinsically necessary to sustain most 30 year old’s belief in the existence of said X”.

    Whereas, the Christian states the following:

    In online threads it’s always impressive how many back and forth comments it takes *just* to be sure each party’s epistemological constructions are actually referencing the same concept. Question: “By X do you mean so and so?” Reply: “Well, not quite, given that X also entails such and such.” And so on. Mutual insight. Unfortunately it is (it seems to be, at least, from what we have been shown) painfully obvious that the Socratic goal of dialogue and mutual insight can’t take place in the SE Model as it is, undeniably, missing two ingredients which simply haven’t been demonstrated: the cost of real, and mutual, philosophical work, and, that costly investment of time to do said work. An hour doesn’t make the grade as, again, any platform can be tied into epistemological knots in such an oddly constrained “Model Of Dialogue”. Investing time in one another, particularly in those we disagree with, isn’t easy, and affording charity to all comers is equally difficult. The personal cost of charity towards each other is high, and time consuming, and painful, but only by such means can the ends we hope for begin to actualize. This very thread is a lesson in the making, is proof positive that the Socratic Model works, and the SE Model fails. GrahamH and myself have all the time in the world to think through and re-read, and so on, and still it is the business of, Question: “By X do you mean so and so?” Reply: “Well, not quite, given that X also entails such and such.”

    Case closed.

    SE Model No – Socratic Model Yes.

  45. Typo:

    There should have been a paragraph break:

    …….only by such means can the ends we hope for begin to actualize. 

    This very thread is a lesson in the making, is proof positive that the Socratic Model works, and the SE Model fails. GrahamH and myself have all the time in the world to think through and re-read, and so on, and [we’re still immersed, “hours” later, in] the business of, Question: “By X do you mean so and so?” Reply: “Well, not quite, given that X also entails such and such.”

    Case closed.

    SE Model No – Socratic Model Yes.

  46. To say that SE doesn’t inspire ciritcal thinking is completely dishonest. Many follow up videos show people that took the time to research the position they hold. The expectation of holding a complete philosophical dialogue is unrealistic. The expectation of every believer understanding the apologetic position is unrealistic.

    Where is the evidence that the current SE model doesn’t inspire critical thinking? If a person comes after studing apologetics to defend their position, does that mean they didn’t critically think about their position?

    If someone came to you after a SE encounter and asked for your advice, would you say it didn’t help them to get a better understanding?

    I’m sure that SE doesn’t work in regards to asking peoples positions on quantum mechanics or how they justifiy that a multiverse doesn’t exist. I’m not sure many people would have much knowledge or understanding within those topics. If a person does believe in a multiverse they should be able to have a small conversation on how they came to that conclusion.

  47. I have to agree with CV’s points – they are essential to what is in-play here.

    You make great points CV (IMO).

    “To say that SE doesn’t inspire critical thinking is completely dishonest”

    Fully agree, and, fortunately, no one here is asserting the clearly false premise that SE does not inspire critical thinking. Of course it inspires thinking and that is great!

    “The expectation of holding a complete philosophical dialogue is unrealistic..”

    Fully agree, and, it’s nice that someone can actually agree with our stated notion of the actual means and ends that are in-play in the SE’s “on the fly” approach.

    “If a person does believe in a multiverse they should be able to have a small conversation on how they came to that conclusion.”

    Fully agree, as of course we can. Dialogue is great!.

    Great points all around. Fortunately, no one here is asserting that such discussions are unhelpful.

  48. CV, calm down with the “completely dishonest” accusation, okay? Is it honest to call someone dishonest for saying something when they haven’t said it?

    I do not disagree at all that SE could inspire critical thinking, and I never said it couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some people went back to the library or the Internet to try to learn more about their faith after an SE experience. Tim and I use SE examples to inspire critical thinking when we lecture on it.

    But although SE could certainly inspire critical thinking, it shouldn’t (as you have also said) be confused with being an example or instance of it.

    Neither should most of Boghossian’s writings or Internet-available lectures. See here for more on that.

  49. But although SE could certainly inspire critical thinking, it shouldn’t (as you have also said) be confused with being an example or instance of it.”

    Well stated.

  50. Tom, you began your response with the excuse that you never said that Fragenblitzen is a “universal tactic”, or that “every” SE encounter includes it, but of course a few brief video clips don’t prove that it never happens. This line of defense continues for several paragraphs, literally half the response.

    It’s not until the comments, when someone requests examples of SE Fragenblitzen, that you admit a mistake. Wouldn’t it have been more forthcoming to clarify that upfront in your response, as opposed to evading a direct admission of error, and repeatedly implying that some SE encounters do look exactly as you described?

    “Does it prove that SEs never use Fragenblitzen? No. In other words, has it proved us wrong or foolish in anything we’ve said? No.”

    Is this a response of humble contrition for an (arguably) insignificant mistake? Does this response demonstrate charity, kindness, or generosity? It may be that you exhibit such values in every other aspect of your life, but the evidence-based conclusion I must draw in this particular instance, is that your response does not demonstrate those fruitful qualities.

  51. Eli,

    Fragenblitzen, that you admit a mistake. Wouldn’t it have been more forthcoming to clarify that upfront in your response, as opposed to evading a direct admission of error, and repeatedly implying that some SE encounters do look exactly as you described?

    It would have been more forthcoming to have admitted it was a mistake in the OP if I had realized it was when I wrote it. What I wrote in the OP was an honest statement of my beliefs regarding the situation at the time, and was therefore completely forthcoming. I learned some things through the comment interaction, and I was forthcoming about what I learned. At that time I owned up to the mistake.

    I do not consider the process of learning, and then owning up to a public mistake, to be morally blameworthy, but unless this perspective gives you reason to change your mind, apparently you do. That would place you in an ethical minority.

    Meanwhile, since you seem to think it important that people acknowledge their mistakes, I remind you of this that I wrote:

    CV, calm down with the “completely dishonest” accusation, okay? Is it honest to call someone dishonest for saying something when they haven’t said it?

    Recall that you accused me of saying something, and being dishonest for saying it, when I didn’t say it and wouldn’t say it.

    Do you apply your own ethical standards to your own interactions? Or do you have different standards for some people than for others?

  52. Eli Carlyle,

    You really need to focus your aim on what Tom has stated about Boghossian’s book specifically or about Loftus’ words specifically. I say that only because I’ve the joy of living in a university town and, hence, the SE thing as crossed paths with me. On average it was very mellow. I’ve had one, well two really, that were all over the map – and clearly tried to trip me up on my own words. The zeal of the 20-something year old college student is to be commended, and a bit of patience and margin can be extended to such an age group in their path of growing. But Frag/Blitz is alive and well.

    I don’t know what your aim is, if it’s at SE’s and what they are doing, or, if, instead, it’s at specific statements about Boghossian’s book (or perhaps about Loftus?) made by Tom?

    If it’s about experiences with SE and Frag/blitz, then I hate to disappoint you.

    In other words, the statement:

    “Does it prove that SEs never use Fragenblitzen? No. In other words, has it proved us wrong or foolish in anything we’ve said? No.”

    ….is a valid statement as far as the SE goes – at least in my experience, but not as far as, say, Boghossian own words or Loftus’ own words go for all I know. I’ve not read their books, so I don’t know.

    Of course, as time goes on an entire bell curve will evolve of SE’s all over the behavioral map on these interactions.

    That’s natural.

    I’d be surprised if you expected otherwise.

    So on that point, take it from me – as far as the SE goes, they *use* Frag/Blitz.

    Christian apologists ought not do so, but you’ll never catch me saying something like “Christians Never Employ Improper Tactic X”.

    There’s a bell curve there too and to expect otherwise would just be bizarre.

  53. Eli Carlyle,

    Let me add one note.

    Some of the most abrasive and rapid-fire, trip-you-up, cut-you-off encounters I’ve had have been with (not SE’s I’m fairly certain) Atheists at the work place and in the class room. It’s astounding. On the positive side, it gives me an opportunity to die a little to my own self, to die a little to my own ego – never easy – and to move down that road consciously, intentionally. Love is hard. But if you continue to assert that Frag/Blitz is some sort of imaginary cartoon – well – then I’m certain that you are the only one here who is dreaming.