17th August 2010

“William Clifford [the 19th Century philosopher] advanced a principle known as 'the ethics of belief', according to which we are morally entitled to hold a belief only if we are also logically entitled to hold it. We are logically entitled to hold a belief – about what is true as well as what is right – only when it satisfies appropriate standards of logic and evidence, which are objective in their application. In this case, every suitable investigator, confronted with the same range of alternative hypotheses, the same body of evidence, and the same rules of reasoning, would arrive at the same conclusions as to which beliefs should be accepted, rejected, or left in suspense. Beliefs about souls and gods would be left in suspense, since there is no way to determine their truth or falsity objectively.”

Jim Fetzer

28 Responses to “17th August 2010”

  1. teddy Says:

    way to go, william clifford

  2. solomon Says:

    I’am refuting these silly ethics. Then what about gravity? Would it be in the suspense category too, since there is no way to determine their truth or falsity objectively.
    Don’t mention the “can be measured stuffs”.

  3. Dan Says:

    Solomon is obviously trolling. Maybe some commenters here would have fun mocking him, but that’s probably not worth our time. Can the moderator simply ban him instead?

  4. YourSkepticalGuy Says:

    Dan – I agree with your assessment and sentiment all around. I readily admit that I may be missing something, but it does not appear to me that the current state of technology of this site permits banning.

    This site could be so much better without Solomon and Tech and I support any effort at encouraging them to go away.


  5. solomon Says:

    Dan & YSG,
    What realy make you want me out of this site. Are you out of arguments to counter my comments. Am I being understood that you all are the ‘honest knowledgeable’ lots.

  6. Dan Says:

    You have a wordpress-based blog, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to ban a person. Email me and I’ll reply with you screenshots of where to find it in a wordpress menu.

  7. Dan Says:

    Or a quicker way: go to the wp-admin screen, and go down the menu on the left sidebar to Settings:Discussion. In that tab, you’ll have options that allow you to ban individuals by a selection of criteria.

  8. Wat Duino Says:

    Before you get banned from this site, please explain to me your assertion that gravity cannot be proven true or false. As I said before, I am ignorant of many things. But I have always been pretty sure about gravity (does 32 ft/sec/sec ring any bells?)

  9. Margaret Says:

    If we could ever master space exploration and find habitable planets on which to establish new colonies, berhaps we could have a fresh start, a society built on Mr. Fetzer’s ideas, and then only if we could start the colony with people who value rationality over fairy tales. This Earth is so religion-poisoned, we are stuck with lunacy for the foreseeable future.
    By the way, gravity IS measurable, and its effects are observable.
    I have intentionally said things that would likely offend S & T, and all I get back are lame proclamations of !!HELL!! and “god will not be mocked”. Because I used to be a believer, I appreciate there may neglected minds choked back by the mind virus, if only they may be reached. When they start yelling at us their empty threats, then we know we have won the argument, because they have nothing to answer us back with other than their irrational fears. Eventually, this will become dissatisfactory to them, and they will have to go away. Or wake up, the best option of all.
    I come here to enjoy the fellowship of atheists, because so few of them are around me in my hometown. I cannot understand why believers would invade this site, because they would be more comfortable on a theist discussion board, repeating the mantras like a flock of parrots. If a religion-free colony could ever be established, I would be interested in re-locating.

  10. Long Time Lurker Says:

    I’ve been stuck between amusement at Sol’s “arguments” (if you can call them that) and disappointment that a human in the year 2010 could be so ignorant/deluded. Perhaps he’s a closet atheist that hangs out here because he’s torn up with conflicting doubts.

    Dunno about a ban though. All he does is make himself look like an idiot (not hard to do).

  11. solomon Says:

    Wat Duino,

    I did’nt say gravity cannot be proven true or false as you put it. I only say there is NO WAY that it can be proven true or false….and this statement is only used on the context as a comparison with existence of soul & god raised up by todays quote.
    Anybody and I too believe gravity exists by its effect felt upon us.
    And some other points to ponder, the “(does 32 ft/sec/sec ring any bells?)” stuffs is just a value that man put on gravity to describe it. It is merely the effect of gravity to a certain object that is measured. It does not explain the essence of gravity itself.

  12. Long Time Lurker Says:

    Jump off a building. That would seem to prove gravity or some such force exists…

  13. YourSkepticalGuy Says:

    Even a moderatly high building should produce sufficient “terminal” velocity…

  14. YourSkepticalGuy Says:

    Even a moderatly high building should produce sufficient “terminal” velocity…


  15. YourSkepticalGuy Says:

    So sorry for that.

    Thanks for the info Dan about securing this site, but I am not the Admin. I understand that the wordpress could be adjusted and it is not all that difficult, but that is a trade-off for the owner. My comment was only that, as is, no banning is possible. My comment was overbroad in suggesting that the tech could not be implemented…

    While I do my best to try and ignore Sol/Tech posts because they have no substance, and I try to withhold mockery, they are a distraction and a turn-off because s/he/it are just trolling without any apparent effort to engage in a substantive way.


  16. captainzero1969 Says:

    Before we go too far down the ban r(sol) route, we might all consider how frustratingly entertaining she has been on the site. It’s not every day you come across someone so (apparently) divorced from objective reality. Some of Sol’s pronouncements are so stunningly, willfully, ignorant that it’s hard to believe such a person can actually turn on a computer let alone post. The cognitive dissonance of an anti-science god-head using a PC is a mind bender.

    I know some of us have strong doubts of her authenticity. If she is for real, it’s been an interesting opportunity to see the bizarre and frightening power of religious indoctrination in action. If anything she probably reinforces our belief in the damaging aspects of faith.

    My attitude is ignore Sol’s posts when you’re not in the mood but read ’em when you need a laugh. If she’s for real, maybe, just maybe, she’ll learn something that will give her a bit of hesitation when it comes time for her to strap on the homicide vest.

    Plus, if banned she’ll just come back as another user that the moderator will have to police. Let’s not make work for our host!

  17. Dan Says:

    YSG – no worries.

    And those who get more of a kick out of sol than I do, I won’t stand in the way of your fun. I mean, you have a point – just from the standpoint of Poe’s Law he is at least a bit amusing. For a little. And anyway, I don’t usually venture into the comments – I’m just here for the quotes most of the time. 😉

    Great quotes, btw. Rarely a bad one to speak of.

  18. captainzero1969 Says:

    Best thing I’ve heard today:

    “There is a difference between what you can do and what you should do. For instance, you can build a Catholic church next to a playground. Should you?” – John Oliver (Daily Show) on the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy.


  19. captainzero1969 Says:

    LMAO – oops!

  20. solomon Says:

    “Ground Zero Mosque”
    I second to that.
    Obama’s brain child strategy.
    To ensure no 2’nd Sept 11 tragedy.

  21. Long Time Lurker Says:

    s/he/it …


  22. Braathwaat Says:

    I wonder how Islam would feel about building a synagogue next to mecca?

  23. Joe Says:

    Jim Fetzer is a loon. He should take this statment into consideration with some of his other theories.

  24. Greg Says:

    Joe, fortunately the substance of the quote is not attributed to Jim Fetzer directly – he is simply paraphrasing William Clifford’s principle.

    I have to agree with you, however, that Jim Fetzer himself is a wing-nut. Not much of a skeptical thinker, IMHO. Anyone who believes that 9/11 was a government conspiracy is a bit of a moron, especially when the evidence CLEARLY does not support the “controlled demolition” of the twin towers, which is the lynch pin of the entire “theory”.

    Anyway, that’s another topic….

  25. Margaret Says:

    I was also responding to the William Clifford principle as well. I was not aware Mr. Fetzer was a conspiracy theorist until I researched Joe’s objections. I learned something today. Nevertheless, my agreement with Mr. Clifford’s ethics of beliefs stands. Mr. Fetzer was merely an indirect messenger of the principle.

  26. solomon Says:

    “I wonder how Islam would feel about building a synagogue next to mecca?”

    A…ahh..bad idea…
    Theres no necessity…

  27. Wat Duino Says:


    But there is a necessity to build a mosque near Ground Zero? Please explain your logic.

  28. Greg Says:

    I think a pork sausage factory should be built beside Mecca. We just know how crazy those Muslims are for pork!