Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Another Goddamned Podcast #29:
August 28, 2008


THIS WEEK - Atheist Woo?

Original audio source


Do non-theists believe their own sets of weird things? The Herd says "yes," but you don't have to take our word on faith; just listen. First of all: Does Evil exist? Chappy falls into Ex's evil trap. SI says it's just an adjective, but Evo isn't willing to go even that far. Wasn't Hitler evil? Find out why Evo would answer "no". (00:00)

How do conspiracy theories fit into our question? Are some conspiracies worth being agnostic about, while others are clearly fantastic? We learn from Chappy why people might either believe in a god, or some other form of woo — but not both. What is it about the human mind that makes even us rationalists seem to need some sort of woo? Ex tries to put words in SI's mouth, but SI spits them up and demands a break. (13:55)

SI believes that we're hardwired to believe something. Was he the subject of an anal probe? Ex hears many faith-based statements — and not necessarily the ones that mention "faith" or "God" — at the political conventions. Chappy sees that kind of "faith" as just wanting to be with the winning team. One of us fulminates about the irrationality of sports fans. [Hint: It's not Philly.] Does Jesus have anything on Roger Maris? (29:08)

Ex reveals that we had no correct answers to Another Goddamned Puzzle. Evo says there was a similarly empty email bag on the Science Quiz. Even the poll results were closer than normal. SI thanks god for sunshine, while Evo thanks a listener for a plug. Only one of them gets a "you're welcome," though. Can you guess which one it is? (45:02)

Opening Music [00:00]: excerpt from "Another Goddamned Draft"
Bridge Music [12:45]: excerpt from "Child of the 80's"
Bridge Music [28:31]: excerpt from "Middle Earth Shortened"
Bridge Music [44:21]: excerpt from "
Highway 45"
Bridge and Closing Music [59:04]: excerpt from "
As Jazzy as I Get"
(All music: copyright 2008 by Rachel Murie)


This Week's Goddamned Links
Live Science Article: "Monsters, Ghosts and Gods"
Yeti and Bigfoot: a Genuine Photo
Roger Maris's Record Explained
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Anal Probes
What Problem of Evil?

Puzzling Listeners

Another Goddamned Puzzle:
No one

Evo's Science Quiz:
No one

45 comments:

Thorum said...

OK, before I give a listen to this weeks gin-soaked Podcast, I must ask 2 a questions to the Herd. I am just trying to get an idea of who you are, where you're coming from and where you are at now. I know these may be a bit intrusive and personal, but suck up your courage and spit out your pride and let's get some honest answers. 1) Do you know what a Gatling bowl is? 2) Who is Fat Freddy's cat? Think of this as a service to your loyal listeners...............

PhillyChief said...

Gin? Blech!
Is the Gatling bowl anything like the Rose bowl, only with a parade of floats made with guns instead of flowers?
Who is Fat Freddy?

The Exterminator said...

Thorum:

No idea what either a Gatling Bowl or Fat Freddy's Cat is. Are either of those relevant to anything? Or are you just trotting out a few trivial facts you know to try to win yourself an AGP Secret Decoder Ring?

PhillyChief said...

I think we need a Thorum Secret Decoder Ring. In fact, I think that's what distinguishes a gin Martini from a Thorum. You garnish a Thorum with a Thorum Secret Decoder Ring instead of an olive.

Thorum said...

I won't comment more. My gut instinct though, is that Evo may be the one with an idea. Let's let him weigh in. I'll let you all know the answer tomorrow morning (EST). Yes, I do want a AGP Decoder Ring but would not accept one for this exercise. My woo wouldn't allow it. (This is killing you all, I know. Who the hell is Thorum? Idiot? Muslim? Tiny Tim's gay son? The inventor of Absinthe? A nothing turd?)

Thorum said...

I should have mentioned that you can probably Google one answer but doubtful on the other. Enjoy kids!!

Derek said...

I've been struck with the dumb :p I was the only one to answer either of the quizzes last week ... Alas ...

John Evo said...

@ Derek - notice we didn't call you out?! There was a reason for that. We admire you being the only one willing to take a shot and willing to be wrong. Hell, you admitted as much to me in your email.

@ Thorum - A gatling bowl sounds like drug paraphernalia to me (but if I'm right, don't assume anything from that). Don't know the "Fat Freddy" reference and don't even have a educated guess.

John Evo said...

OK, I just found out about Fat Freddy's Cat. and it makes me suspect I could be right about the gatling bowl!

Derek said...

Thanks, Evo, I do appreciate it! Also, I think you're completely right about both of thorum's questions. dun dun DUN

PhillyChief said...

Btw, I noticed Ex had some fun in my absence poking at sports as woo. Not very sporting, but then what do you expect from the kid always picked last at recess for games? He's a grumpy ol' owl who harbors grudges forever, you know. That of course is part of his charm here. ;)

Two main reasons, imo, sport is popular:
1) Cathartic
2) Appreciation of human ability

The rooting for a team is part of #1. The joy of watching your team clobber another is therapeutic. Of course you don't have to pick a team, but simply enjoy watching a sport or specific players play because there's something special about them and before Ex can ruffle his feathers and hoot at how ridiculous it is to think it special that someone can do some physical act better than another and would bother to watch that, how about watching dancers or singers? Hell, since we're all physical, even intellectual feats are physical expressions, so observing a good debate is simply enjoying sport as well. I see no woo here.

John Evo said...

It is said awe of science is just another form of religion. We say, shit. If respect for the wonders of science is religion then you have diluted the definition of religion so much as to make it meaningless. I think you could say the same here. If sports is woo, then woo becomes a meaningless word.

The Exterminator said...

I think there's a big difference between enjoying sports on the same level that one enjoys other entertainments versus getting so invested in one's team that a loss or a win is mood-altering. That's the woo part.

John Evo said...

I see there is one vote on our poll for "Aliens probed SI". I think that was more of a confession than a vote.

PhillyChief said...

What if I'm invested in the outcome of a Supreme Court case, so much so that the outcome can alter my mood. Is that woo, too?

Let's stick with entertainment. What if I'm so excited to go to a stage production and it sucks. If my mood is subsequently soured, is that woo, too?

I fail to see how having a vested interest in something, so much so that my mood can be altered by it, is woo.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:

You're thinking emotionally here rather than rationally. The results of a Supreme Court case can actually affect you, and they definitely have ramifications in the government.

If you go to a show or concert that sucks and it affects your mood, I guess I can understand that. But the likelihood is, you wouldn't continue to pay money to see the same artist again and again. Maybe you'd give him or her a second, even a third, chance. But at some point, you're going to say, "Oh, fuck Barry Manilow."

So, yeah, I can understand your mood being affected if you go to a game -- for entertainment -- and you don't enjoy it. But if you become so invested in a team that its results affect your mood over and over and over again, whether or not you've actually been entertained by its games (many people get emotional over their teams' results even when they don't watch the games), then you're not making rational entertainment decisions.

Your devotion, to me, is a kind of woo.

PhillyChief said...

I anticipated your first response, which is why I added the entertainment element. Here's perhaps a better comparison to being a fan of a team than being a fan of Barry Manilow - being a fan of an orchestra, theater group or dance troupe. Members come and go, just like players on a team. Conductors and directors come and go, each with their own visions for how things should be done, just like coaches. The pieces chosen to perform are not unlike a teams play calling strategy or perhaps a schedule of opponents. As a fan, you can weather these changes, be invested in these changes, and have the results of those changes affect your mood as a result of their affects on the performances. Maybe enough bad moves and performances make you give up on continuing to invest interest in either, or perhaps you just continue to hope that eventually, with the right members, leadership and so forth, your team, orchestra, theater group or dance troupe come through and succeed. I don't see that as woo, but if it be, then it's certainly not limited to sports.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I think that was more of a confession than a vote.

Rumbled again.

It's the only explanation for these damn hemorrhoids.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:

Although you've skirted around this point, without saying it directly, I definitely agree with you: Sports love is nowhere in the same category of woo (whether it actually is woo or isn't) as god belief.

And my neighbor's devotion to a team doesn't infringe on my rights at all -- except when federal tax dollars are spent on the Olympics or local tax dollars are spent on building a stadium or otherwise supporting home-team rah-rah.

(FYI: I'm against government aid to the Arts as well, so don't bother to contrast them with sports to try to counter my argument about tax dollars. In general, I oppose public funds being given as gifts to businesses of any kind.)

PhillyChief said...

So what, now you're saying you're not sure whether interest in sports is woo? And how does government funding play a role in determining whether something is woo or not?

Perhaps you can define woo for me. I'm getting the feeling that for you, woo = whatever you don't like.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

WOO

Wacky Otherworldly Organisms

Wayward Obnoxious Orthodoxy

Watchful Omnipresent Omniscience

The Exterminator said...

Philly:

Well, aren't you coy today?

The answer to your question is: No, I'm still saying that sports devotion is woo, but I thought you were arguing that it isn't. In any case, I said -- if you read my comment -- I agree that sports woo is generally not as bad as god woo.

Except in some instances, like when it results in the government robbing me. In that case, sports woo is on a par with god woo, since they both steal my money. I'll cede the point that, so far, no one seems to have flown planes into buildings because of sports devotion. But there have been some pretty nasty riots "justified" by sports woo.

See, my point is (and I think you'll agree): Woo, in and of itself, doesn't matter. It's only when woo, of whatever kind, infringes on my (or others') rights that it becomes a problem. When sports nuts break the windows of a store because their team lost -- or worse, because it won! -- I think that's a problem. When, as I said before, the government uses my money to pay for sports-related activities, that's a problem. When team-spirit mentality morphs into nationalism so that we attack countries "pre-emptively," that's a problem.

So, once again, yes, I do think that sports devotion is woo.

And my definition of woo? Unreasonable belief or devotion to an idea, thing, place, and/or person, particularly when that belief or devotion influences one's actions.

Ordinary Girl said...

Weird Overjoyed Obeisance?

PhillyChief said...

Who decides this unreasonableness? Oh let me guess, you, right? So you're coyly providing the basis for what you don't like = woo, without having to actually say it. Cute. :)

John Evo said...

I have one to add to Exterminator's list - barbecue. You know how some people get all revved up for cooking red meat with all kinds of "secret sauces", their mouths are watering, they can't wait, they get DEEPLY disappointed if they have to delay it or don't have the proper cooking facilities, are profoundly satisfied after cooking and eating, etc?

Come on. It's just MEAT. Really, we shouldn't even have this woo craving for meat. Let alone making this huge process out of it. It's woo; pure and simple.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
I encourage you to explain to me exactly how being devoted to a sports team is reasonable. C'mon. You might make a convert. Go Mets.

Evo:
I'm not sure that biological imperatives can fall under the category of woo. Despite what vegans say, I do think we're built for meat. And, if we're gonna have to eat that stuff anyway, Philly's barbecue sounds a whole lot more appealing than a Big Mac (I don't think we're built for sawdust).

PhillyChief said...

I thank you for acknowledging that you feel what you don't like = woo. I'm not interested however in changing your personal likes and dislikes. I was simply interested in challenging the assertion that enjoying sports or a particular sports team is woo.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
Fail. Not proven. I've offered many reasons why sports devotion is woo. So now the onus is on you to show why it's reasonable. Not "popular," mind you. Reasonable.

As Epicurus said:
Are sports fans willing to be reasonable, but not able? Then they are not mentally competent.
Are sports fans able to to be reasonable, but not willing? Then they are purposely ignorant.
Are sports fans both willing and able? Then whence cometh their unreasonableness.
Are they neither willing nor able? Then why call them sports fans?


Please don't quote the bible to answer Epicurus.

PhillyChief said...

Catharsis and appreciation of human ability are reasonable. Simply because you don't like sports does not make them unreasonable, despite what you want to believe.

As far as your so-called reasons, all you've given is being emotionally moved by something you decide to care about is woo, which I suppose for you would be woo, since caring for anyone or anything beyond yourself seems, for you, to be unreasonable. For those of us who are not self professed selfish pricks, such caring is quite reasonable, and common.

The Exterminator said...

Yeah, I'm far too much of a selfish prick to share my affections with a whole sports team. What did any of them ever do for me?

But since you're all about the love, I can imagine you and the Chiefs sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and singing "Kumbaya."

Someone's losing my lord, Kumbaya.

PhillyChief said...

"Yeah, I'm far too much of a selfish prick to share my affections with a whole sports team..."

or theater group, orchestra, dance troupe, or any organization which doesn't directly serve your needs, which things you don't like can't, thus rendering them woo.

Seriously, you don't need to keep agreeing with me. I know for you woo = anything you don't like. Can we move on now? Perhaps someone else would like to comment on woo, sports, or anything else?

Thorum said...

Ok, I had a feeling (D)Evo would get the answers to the 2 questions. Derek a close second but PhillyChief, in a woo way, could be considered the winner as she didn't research but just answered straight up. Yes kids, a "Gatling Bowl" is drug paraphernalia if you want to consider a plant, a "drug". Actually, it is a 5 hit bowl made up of five individual one hits on a rotating wood disk. It sits on the stem of the old "US" acrylic type bongs of the classic era. For me classic is the late 70's. Have had no luck on the internet of dredging up any info on it. I assume it only exists in my mind these barren days. And Fat Freddy's Cat is the infamous pet cat of Fat Freddy Freekowtski of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. Absolutely hilarous. Even more funny when.....Oh, forget it. More info: http://www.freaknet.org.uk/pages01/p02/gl06.html
I am not a freak.

Thorum said...

Almost forgot:

http://www.grassrootsthemovie.com/

Glasmann said...

As I meandered through the atheist/freethought podcasts and blogs, I found AGP recently. You are quite different than other sites, virtually all of which are very well done, thoughtful, and serious. AGP is also very well done, thoughtful, and serious, but you have an edge that I love. You take no prisoners. We need the likes of AGP and Pat Condell to smack us upside the head sometimes. I became an atheist because of my iPod - not a good market slogan for Apple, however, but true for me.

Concerning #29:
A related issue to belief that I never hear anyone mention is:

Does belief in a diety, scripture, and a bipolar (good vs. evil) interpretation of morality overflow and contaminate other areas of belief? Does belief in a diety translate into unconditional belief in other authority figures e.g. Bush/Cheney? Does belief in the words of the authority translate into belief in Iraq WMD and rationalizations of why it is necessary to send the children of others to war? Do black and white interpretations of morality lead to - 'since you are not rabidly opposed to all abortion as I am, therefore you are pro-abortion and want women to go to a drive-through for their monthly abortion'. Needless to say, there are many legitimate, caring, albeit difficult stances between these extremes.

I think that I know the answer - yes, but this connection between the religious and supernational beliefs, and the political, scientific, family consequences of such rigidity seems never to be discussed. Maybe it is so obvious that everyone on our side just says, 'well yah, of course, we know that!!'.

Keep up the good work.

The Exterminator said...

Glasmann:

Thanks for the compliment, and we're delighted that you enjoy the podcast. You're right: we take no prisoners, even among ourselves. We pride ourselves on being a pretty confrontational bunch.

I agree with you about the propensity of theists to see all kinds of issues, even those non-related to religion, as black-and-white. Unfortunately, I have to say that even some atheists tend to see things as black and white.

Either you'll agree with me or you won't.

PhillyChief said...

Where would we put the prisoners? We don't have a Gitmo. I feel like we have touched on what you're talking about, Glasmann. I could be wrong, things start to blur after awhile.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Speaking of Gitmo. Has anyone seen the new Harold and Kumar movie?

John Evo said...

I think Philly saw it, but I'll let him answer. I've been meaning to but, per usual, I'll probably end up seeing it on video. Pretty funny, I hear?

PhillyChief said...

H&K2 was fucking hysterical.

Targetta said...

I have had a 5 star rating for AGP for months and no mention what so ever! But I think I know the problem now since when I go into I-tunes it still shows mine as the only comment regarding your show. I think I-Tunes has different servers for differnt regions and mine is on the NZ or Australasian server. It is a positive for your show though - as Evo the statistician will know - that gives you a perfect 5 star average in this region of the planet!

John Evo said...

Targetta - thanks for making us the huge success story we've become in Southeast Asia! Listen in the week after next and we'll give you the huge props you deserve. I'm taking your word on this...

PhillyChief said...

I had no idea iTunes was set up like that. That's stupid. Thanks for the stars and the heads up

Targetta said...

No need for the props guys I just wanted you to know you may be missing feedback (though I am sure most comes from the USA anyway). The i-tunes thing is stupid - I see why they set the store up for regions (eg top 10 lists etc)but the feedback should be global. To check other regions go to the bottom of the itunes store home page and change the my store country. Who knows your biggest fan may be in Uzbekistan?!

phoo said...

Certain types of woo are very seductive because they have evidence. However the evidence may be necessary, but not sufficient. For example, there is empirical evidence for the existence of karma, but there are alternate, rational explanations for the same evidence. Believing the empirical evidence is a logical fallacy known as "affirming the consequent". Something I've thought about a lot during my Ph.D. research in AI and cognition.

PhillyChief said...

What exactly is this empirical evidence for karma, seeing bad things happen to shitty people or good things happen to nice people? Anecdotal maybe, but empirical?