Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Baby Is Not The Bathwater; The Guilty Are Not The Victims

The guy being interviewed in the following video, at the bottom of this post, says god is a maniac and worse.

So, is that blasphemy or rather is it intellectual honesty?

The origin of evil in this world is a controversial subject (like immigration, taxes, religion, accountability, and climate change).

The notion of the origin of evil, in the sense of social power, has been discussed in terms of scientific research and religion on the Toxins of Power blog in times past (A Religious Doctrine For Toxins of Power, 2/3/10; Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? - 3, 1/17/15).

That governments of civilizations could be evil enough to destroy themselves, along with their own citizenry, is unthinkable in many academic persuasions even though when we look around, today, to examine what is supposedly the most advanced state that human civilization has ever reached, we see two threats to the very survival of human civilization: climate change and nuclear war (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5).

These realities today are not out of step with the history of societies of the past:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History,  by Arnold J. Toynbee). Nevertheless, these observations of history are not believed by some people who are called "deniers."

One chief among them, in terms of climate change denial, is Senator Inhofe.

He bases his denial on his perception of god and human civilization:
In 2012, Inhofe's The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future was published by WorldNetDaily Books, presenting his global warming conspiracy theory. He said that, because "God's still up there", the "arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
(Wikipedia, Jim Inhofe, emphasis added). He evidently thinks that all things climate constitute "what He [God] is doing in the climate" unabated and unassisted by human civilization.

Someone taught that to Senator Inhofe, because, as seen by philosophers, "knowledge" is at its fundamental roots, in essence a belief and trust in what other people tell us:
I find myself believing all sorts of things for which I do not possess evidence: that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, that my car keeps stalling because the carburetor needs to be rebuild, that mass media threaten democracy, that slums cause emotional disorders, that my irregular heart beat is premature ventricular contraction, that students' grades are not correlated with success in the nonacademic world, that nuclear power plants are not safe (enough) ...

The list of things I believe, though I have no evidence for the truth of them, is, if not infinite, virtually endless. And I am finite. Though I can readily imagine what I would have to do to obtain the evidence that would support any one of my beliefs, I cannot imagine being able to do this for all of my beliefs. I believe too much; there is too much relevant evidence (much of it available only after extensive, specialized training); intellect is too small and life too short.

What are we as epistemologists to say about all these beliefs? If I, without the available evidence, nevertheless believe a proposition, are my belief and I in that belief necessarily irrational or non-rational? Is my belief then mere belief (Plato's right opinion)? If not, why not? Are there other good reasons for believing propositions, reasons which do not reduce to having evidence for the truth of those propositions? What would these reasons look like?

In this paper I want to consider the idea of intellectual authority, particularly that of experts. I want to explore the "logic" or epistemic structure of an appeal to intellectual authority and the way in which such an appeal constitutes justification for believing and knowing.
(The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?). Thus, this belief or trust essence of "knowledge" is something that is not limited to religion.

The Bible, which Inhofe says he uses to derive his beliefs, essentially implies the same thing that Stephen Fry implies, but it seems contrary to Inhofe.

"THE GOD OF THIS AGE has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4, emphasis added)

"Again, THE DEVIL took him to a very high mountain and showed him ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD and their splendor. “ALL THIS I WILL GIVE YOU,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9, emphasis added)

"For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive ..." - Jesus Christ (Matt. 24, emphasis added)
So, who is "the god" of this deadly Anthropocene scene, the Sixth Mass Extinction (Your God Wears Combat Boots, Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 4)?

Who controls the weather, and thus by implication, originated climate change (scientists say Petroleum Civilization, Inhofe says it's his God)?

One implication set forth in the scriptures above is that an evil power is the god of "this age", but specifies no exact time frame, except to imply the epoch when a human face is found on human-government bodies.

Inhofe's implication also focuses on a non-human epigovernment of "God," working with individual human governments, to change the climate of the Earth, evidently with "righteous, natural, God made" fossil fuels (Oilah Akbar! Oilah Akbar!; Message of Science & Religion - Western - 2).

Let's consider a few more examples of the nature of beliefs, just to extend the context, such as:
Lucifer is just another name for Satan, who as head of the evil world-system is the real, though invisible, power behind the successive rulers of Tyre, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and all of those evil rulers that we have seen come and go in the history of the world. This passage [Isaiah 14:12-14] goes beyond human history and marks the beginning of sin in the universe and the very fall of Satan in the pristine, sinless spheres before the creation of man.
(Story of Lucifer). A contrary or alternate view considers the nature of evil, using a different analysis:
Throughout its history and teachings, religion has preached the merits of good and condemned the temptations of evil. Good and evil are principles conceived by humankind and exist independently of religions and theology. The idea of evil is deeply embedded in human existence. It feeds on bad morals and harmful, injurious behavior. To think that animals have evil intentions is extremely debatable. Animals kill for survival and weed out the weak among them through natural selection. There are no moral issues within the animal kingdom. In the vast expanse of interstellar space and time there is no evil; only energy as it relates to the Universe. There is nothing evil about planets and stars. It seems, rather, that a mind capable of conscious thought, must introduce the possibility of intended evil. Humans are conditioned to learn the difference between good and bad according to how it relates to society’s survival.
(There is no Devil ... no Hell, emphasis added). But one thing is for sure: if evil exists then it came from somewhere, and thus, evil has an origin.

All wrongs have an origin, then a subsequent history (conflating "history" with "origin" is a common mistake; a mistake because they are composed of different dynamics, i.e., they are not exactly the same).

Justice is the identification of the source of a wrong, then applying some perceived remedy (punishment, rehabilitation, etc.) to the source of the wrong, while avoiding blaming or harming the victims of that wrong.

Justice must replace "Just Us."

Anything short of that is unjust, whether done in a religious context, or done in a secular context.

Interview of Stephen Fry, evidently an atheist, making some of the above points:

Canadian Neil Young describes the evil being brought upon The First Nations, and everyone else ultimately, in his beloved country:


  1. Evil is not "bad morals," I do not believe. Evil is an absence of moral substance. It's a lack, a nothing where something should be. This is something that has long been conveyed in myths concerning humans and our earthly existence, and is a core understanding of the nature of evil. It is an absence of Good, an absence that is shackled to other things like feelings, desires, negative emotions, a type of entirely unoriginal intellect, and physical agency.

    When Jesus described Satan as "the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning," he was describing all evil. There is a lie and a murder in it all. Guy has mentioned how people distort his work, and thereby attack him. He is correct. There it is, the lie and the murder, on a psychological level.

    That's what evil does, driven by hunger and emptiness and addiction that is caused by the loss of all the spiritually good things, like life, love, truth, beauty, originality and true creativity, which evil can never quite pull off.

    It is also a mirror opposite of good, intentionally a false surface illusion, a lie.

  2. Natural selection seems to favor evil.

    It is very successful on this planet.

  3. Sociopaths and psychopaths lack empathy, lack a conscience, and completely lack any sense of responsibility for their behaviors. They have the desires, ambitions, goals (even if bad ones) and drives like other people. But their lack of conscience, empathy and responsibility makes them dangerous. As interesting as everything else about them is, it is all related to those core absences. They have a sense of entitlement? It is part and parcel of their lack of conscience toward others.

    I believe that technically, one cannot have bad morals. Morals, by definition are always good, or at least, that used to be a common understanding of the word. One may lack morals, however.

    I have always found it so interesting that the traditional philosophical understanding does fit with the character flaws of the sociopath/psychopath: something is missing.

    It is why they are never "fixed" or "changed." There is nothing there to fix, and that is the problem.

    1. oldgrowthforest,

      Welcome to Dredd Blog.

      Among other things, you made two helpful statements which I wanted to highlight and comment on:

      1) "Sociopaths and psychopaths lack empathy, lack a conscience, and completely lack any sense of responsibility for their behaviors."

      2) "Morals, by definition are always good, or at least, that used to be a common understanding of the word."

      There has also been damage to the meanings of the words "sociopath" and "psychopath" in recent times.

      Earlier, when the nomenclature was sound, there were two distinct usages for those two words, illustrated by the following quote:

      "Therefore, both psychopaths and sociopaths are capable of committing heinous crimes; however, the psychopath would commit crimes against family members or “friends” (as well as strangers) and feel little to no remorse.
      The last main difference between psychopathy and sociopathy is in the presentation. The psychopath is callous, yet charming. He or she will con and manipulate others with charisma and intimidation and can effectively mimic feelings to present as “normal” to society. The psychopath is organized in their criminal thinking and behavior, and can maintain good emotional and physical control, displaying little to no emotional or autonomic arousal, even under situations that most would find threatening or horrifying. The psychopath is keenly aware that what he or she is doing is wrong, but does not care

      (When You Are Governed By Psychopaths - 2, quoting a psychology professional).

      For some reason, at times professionals "lose it" and foul up their nomenclature.

      One large historical example is the "great evolutionary synthesis" ("The modern synthesis solved difficulties and confusions caused by the specialisation and poor communication between biologists in the early years of the 20th century." -quoting from The Uncertain Gene - 2).

    2. The term psychopath was used first. Then anti-social personality disorder came into use to eliminate bias in the diagnosis. Lots of people have perspectives on the distinction between psychopaths and sociopaths. Some say that sociopaths do have a conscience, and that is the difference. Others say there is no difference. I have never heard that the distinction is that psychopaths are willing to kill their family members. "Psychopath" is not a DSM diagnosis, and in the DSM there is only anti-social PD.

      In short, the distinction, if there is one, has been a moving target since "sociopath" was introduced to replace "psychopath" as a diagnosis. Talk to four different psychologists and you'll get four different versions of the difference or non-difference between the two definitions.

      At one time Narcissistic Personality Disorder was separate from Antisocial Personality Disorder, but that has changed also.

    3. "How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath" (Psychology Today)
      "Psychopath vs. Sociopath" (Diffen).
      Video (Dr. Fallon)

    4. "Many forensic psychologists, psychiatrists and criminologists use the terms sociopathy and psychopathy interchangeably. Leading experts disagree on whether there are meaningful differences between the two conditions. "

      There is no such thing as a "psychopath" in the fields of either psychiatry or psychology. The information in your links is too limited to understand this area of knowledge or even understand the discussion.

      Thanks, and take care.

    5. oldgrowthforest,

      You wrote: "There is no such thing as a "psychopath" in the fields of either psychiatry or psychology."

      The link I supplied in my comment just above is a link to Psychology Today which says:

      "The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, lists both sociopathy and psychopathy ..."

      If you comment on Dredd Blog, which is read by many professionals. (Who Reads Dredd Blog), you need to share, not declare.

      It is about sharing information (as in Journals), not dictating it, as it always has been here.

      As editor, I see my job as maximizing the common knowledge and benefit for all, and making sure it is worth reading for all our edification.

  4. Great observation ogf!


  5. Dredd, thanks for another stellar post. Check this out:


    Scientists discover viral 'Enigma machine'


    1. That is the war on viruses mode of interaction, rather than the communication form of interaction. It has the same blow-back dangers that geo-engineering and war have (The Real Dangers With Microbes & Viruses).

      I think the better technique is to rely on communication prevention (How Microbes Communicate In The Tiniest Language). There may be exceptions of course on a case by case basis.

  6. "But for those who submit articles for posting, or who comment, be sure to note that Dredd Blog does not suffer foolishness lightly, so please back up your contrary, or other assertions, with links to evidence which indicates that what you are saying is more than merely unfounded personal opinion (not that it would or would not be accepted for that reason)." (Dredd Blog - About)

  7. ps, I apologize for the multiple submissions. I initially thought something had gone wrong when I submitted the comment, as my own computer did an odd thing.

    I see now that you've chosen not to publish the comment. So, please do excuse the excess posts. It shan't happen again.

  8. I noticed that psychology is not the subject of the post.

    Religion is, in the sense of asking what religionists think god or God is like personality wise.

    So, to make at least one comment on the focus of the post, "who is the god of the religion of climate change deniers and what is his/her/its personality like"?

    In that vein, note that the president gave a speech that drove deniers over the edge for a while:

    "Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” he told the group, speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

    Some Republicans were outraged

    In the post Senator Inhofe (R-KS) is outraged that people think they can stop god or God from bringing climate change catastrophe to the planet.


    1. Good point.

      One republican, Robert McNamara, indicated as much:

      "Robert McNamara: I was on the island of Guam in his [General Curtis LeMays'] command in March 1945. In that single night, we burned to death one hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Tokyo. Men, women and children.

      Interviewer: Were you aware this was going to happen?

      Robert McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that, in a sense, recommended it. [regarding his and Colonel Curtis LeMay's involvement in the bombing of Japan during World War II] LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he's right. He ... and I'd say I ... were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?
      " (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy - 3).

      The crusades are a stark example of religion gone mad:

      "At one point during this long siege, the crusaders came to realize there were several spies amongst them. To deal with this problem they set an example that would result in all other spies fleeing the crusader’s camps. This example consisted of killing one such spy, roasting him on a spit, eating his flesh, and then threatening a similar fate would befall all those who were discovered to be spies. (Maalouf 29) “These acts may appear to be utterly barbaric by modern standards, but they were a staple feature of medieval warfare and become a consistent theme of the siege of Antioch. Within the context of a holy war, in which the Franks (crusaders) were conditioned to see their enemy as sub-human, Christian piety prompted not clemency but, rather, an atmosphere of extreme brutality and heightened savagery.” (Asbridge 168)
      After spending three years marching from Europe to the Holy City, the crusaders had finally reached their intended destination in the summer of 1099. It took forty days to conquer the city. “After a very great and cruel slaughter of Saracens, of whom 10,000 fell in that same place, they put to the sword great numbers of gentiles who were running about the quarters of the city, fleeing in all direction on account of their fear of death; they were stabbing women who had fled into palaces and dwellings; seizing infants by the soles of their feet from their mothers’ laps or their cradles and dashing them against the walls and breaking their necks; they were slaughtering some with weapons, or striking them down with stones; they were sparing absolutely no gentile of any place or kind.” (Asbridge 317) Those Muslims who sought shelter on the roof of the al-Aqsa mosque were decapitated if they had not flung themselves to the ground first. (Moynahan 239) By July 17th, not a single Muslim was left alive within the city walls. Even the Jews who had gathered in their synagogue had been burned alive inside. “The last survivors were forced to perform the worst tasks: to heave the bodies of their own relatives, to dump them in vacant, unmarked lots, and then to set them alight, before being themselves massacred or sold into slavery.” (Maalouf xiv)
      " (On The Origin of the Crusader Pathogen - 2).

  9. Hi, Dredd! I hope that overall you have found some value in the information I have provided to you on the present subject. I would like to add a couple of things, and I hope you will find some value in these, and it can contribute to your work in some small way.

    My caveat is that my information here is a framework, not a cite, and it may not be exactly perfect, but it is nonetheless an educated and experienced opinion that may be of some benefit.

    In order to understand what people are talking about when they want to distinguish between psychopaths and sociopaths, it is not only necessary to understand the history of the terminology and the overall use of it now, a person also needs familiarity with the old narcissistic personality disorder that was eliminated from the DSM this year.

    Personality disorders have always been viewed as occurring in a spectrum. Previously, when the words psychopath and sociopath were viewed as being synonymous, they were seen as the same core disorder with varying extremes within the category.

    Narcissistic personality disorder was distinct from ASPD, but a lot of experts always considered narcissists a kind of sociopath-lite, and their view has prevailed in the DSM-5 this year. Not as dead internally as the sociopath, possessing abandonment fears and an enduring sense of something missing that the sociopath/psychopath was not burdened with, narcissists are social criminals in the extreme and do a lot of damage. Fewer loners among the narcissists, and more anxiety, is what I've gathered over the years. Obviously, the field of psychology wants this distinction to matter.

    Psychology has always had trouble defining a "psychopath" once people stopped believing such things were exclusively spiritual; how do we define cruelty and the infliction of suffering without a value judgment, is the question.

    The article you provide from Psychology Today addresses this whole conundrum by suggesting that there be two categories for the single narcissist-to-psychopath category that exists now. In effect what is happening is a suggestion to redefine sociopath as something more akin to the previous narcissistic personality disorder, and define psychopath as what was previously the extreme end of sociopathy.

  10. With the current PET scans and other technology that can detect neuronal changes associated with internal experience, like empathy, and that show consistent patterns associated with lying and other behaviors, all of this may change radically, or the world may end first. :O)

    I believe that the framework I have given you may make more sense of the Psychology Today article. That's why he discusses "sociopaths" having anxiety.

    The field is always working toward neutrality, objectivity. It is why "a sense of entitlement," which previously was associated with ASPD, is now framed more in terms of exploitive behavior. One is an internal experience, the other is observable behavior. Psychology wants to get away from saying it can determine internal experience, and as a result the terms are increasingly reductionist. Gee. I'm so surprised.

    So when we read these things, unless we are pretty familiar with the work and have the insight, too, we may not understand how closely associated some ideas are, or that they are, in fact, the same thing addressed through a different lens. One writer may only speak of behaviors, while another, like the writer of the article does, may express more in terms of inner experience, as the previous DSM did. It can make us think the authors are discussing different things, when they are not. Or, it can make us think they are discussing the same thing, when they are not, because we apply an ordinary common-usage understanding to what are legal, clinical, and medical terms.

    The term psychopath has been used more commonly in popular writing by qualified clinicians in the last several years than in previous decades combined. The "sophisticated" and most qualified experts, like academicians and professional clinicians who wanted to keep their jobs, used "sociopath," but in truth, neither are formal clinical terms with a formal definition. But, "sociopath" was considered to represent an official term - antisocial personality disorder, so it was used.

    In addition to the nomenclature difficulties psychopaths have always presented, with the many nuances of sociopathy that ASPD now attempts to group together, there will be continued discussion. Not exactly like, but not entirely different from how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Best regards, keep up the good work, and I wish you well in your future psychology blogs.


  11. oldgrowthforest (ogf),

    On the Dredd Blog quotes page you will find:

    "In a valid nomenclature no two words can have the same meaning." - Dredd

    As I said in previous comments (in this post) and in many other Dredd Blog posts, good nomenclature is not one of the hallmarks of either biology or psychology.

    And I cite to very credible and respected scientists to put solid foundation under that assertion.

    One very loud witness to that reality, as I also mentioned, is the synthesis:

    "The modern synthesis solved difficulties and confusions caused by the specialisation and poor communication between biologists in the early years of the 20th century." (Wikipedia).

    That was a result of dick heads and cunt heads who were legends in their own minds drumming up a cacophony of bullshit without ever cross citing one another to know what was what.

    The simple reality in a valid nomenclature is that sociopath and psychopath cannot mean the same thing.

    Thus, any intelligent discussion will not dwell on who said stupid things when, but rather it will dwell on what is different between the two words.

    Imagine how many wars an army would win if their nomenclature had two words indicating that a tank and a rifle were the same thing (killy thingy).

    "CQ CQ CQ ... there are 14 killy thingy entities approaching.

    Or like having a "W" at every point on a compass (The W Direction = The Perilous Path).

    "To avoid the killy thingy head in the W direction" ...

  12. Good Nomenclature: A Matter of Life and Death has some examples of catastrophe that has resulted from bad nomenclature.