Contrary to what clear thinking people believe, FreeThoughtBlogs is not named inappropriately. Because you see, “free thought”, when it comes to FreeThoughtBlogs means letting the thoughts in your brain fly around with gay abandon, freeing them from logic and common sense, continuously mixing them with the irrational fuel of feelings and emotions until they reach an escape velocity sufficient to overcome all the pulls of reason and are hurled out into the the FreeThoughtBlogs zoo where hundreds of eager “freethinkers” trapped in cages with invisible walls anxiously await more food for generating outrage.

While most of FreeThoughtBlogs is quite mediocre, to truly find the the stuff that would crash a reason-o-meter, you have to visit the very appropriately named LousyCanuck. Here is his latest post :

Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

Now for some “free” thinking from there.

 The hyper-privileged folks nearest the top of our movement have pretty uniformly fallen on one side of this divide — the side that would rather not skeptically examine ideas like social conventions, consent, harassment policies and protecting the underprivileged.

How on earth do you examine “skeptically” the “idea of social conventions”? Let’s take an example – a social convention is to hold the door open if someone is right behind you. So now let’s be skeptical about it and let’s think freely. This leads us to a fascinating array of possibilities like:

1) What if I don’t hold the door open?

2) What if I slam the door into the person’s face?

3) What if it’s a feminist and she kicks me for being patriarchal?

4) Wait, is this the correct door, or is it a fire exit?



And so you can see how the power of truly “thinking freely” can give you a lot more things to be skeptical about. Now this wouldn’t be so bad if you could also use such “free thinking” against them. But express skepticism that elevators are not that dangerous and you will find that you are not actually allowed to think that. Because? BECAUSE THEY SAID SO!

You cannot “skeptically” examine social etiquette, personal styles, and their interpretations because these are subjective matters. The FTB bloggers like to throw around words like reason, skepticism, rational, free-thought much like the way politicians throw around words like pride, greatest, Jesus, god, honour etc. And they have just as much credibility.

They are also not averse to lying or as I like to call it “thinking freely about facts”.

So it’s absolutely no surprise to me that Dawkins has, again, sided against Skepchick — this time, instead of writing a “Dear Muslima” comment at Rebecca Watson (telling her that the sexism she encounters isn’t nearly as bad as female genital mutilation, so she should grow up or get a thicker skin)

Except that he didn’t say that it wasn’t nearly as bad. He said it was ZERO bad.

But my point is that the ‘slightly bad thing’ suffered by Rebecca was not even slightly bad, it was zero bad.

Another frequent hobby of the FTB bloggers is to pretend they are great warriors for social justice, bravely weathering the harsh comments of Internet posters who criticize them, courageously typing out blog posts attacking those who do not see the world through the one lens of social justice to cover them all, steadfast in their resolution to let no opportunity for generating outrage go by. You would find it a hard task indeed to find this level of arrogance even at the Fox News Network.

It is so far beneath Dawkins that it serves only to undercut his image as a rationalist in my eyes — not that I was any longer under any delusion that he is a pure rationalist.

Alert the presses! Richard Dawkins has gone down as a rationalist in the estimation of a blogger on the Internet who makes universally quantified statements like

It is an emotive argument about the morality of expecting consent before actions are taken involving other people,

If you are about to be hit by a car, expect this guy to ask for your consent to push you out of the way. Because that would be the moral thing to do. Or if a bug is about to walk on to your dinner plate or down your shirt, expect this guy to ask for your consent to flick it off – because hey, who knows? Some people might prefer eating bugs and would rather have it moving around inside them rather than be finger-flickeded.

Of course, it’s not all bad. You will find some real gems of free-thought which you would most likely would not have thought of, such as:

Offering hugs as a reward for vaccination is a nice idea

Now lest you think that is not that mind-blowing, he adds a caveat:

but at the same time, it’s well within the rights of the person who gets a vaccine to forgo the hug.

These are truly words of wisdom that the Internet cannot do without. The rights of women to wear burqas in France? The rights of people to draw cartoons of Mo? Meh! But wait, there’s more!

And in fact, some people are even bothered by the very offer of a hug, so those people must needs make that apparent before they partake in the free vaccination services offered, because the whole event is predicated on something that might be to them a trigger, if not a simple preference.

Sometimes the writing gets freed from the grammar as well. But even after trying various combinations of grammatical fixes, I’m not quite sure what he means. Maybe it means that organizers should make it clear that the vaccines can be had without the hugs. Because “free thinkers” might think that you cannot get a vaccine without a hug!

There is a whole lot more of “hugs etiquette” that I will not bother going through. I will save my energy for what will probably be the next blog post on FTB – A Formalized Skeptical, Rational, Social Justice based Social Etiquette policy that takes into account everyone’s objective level of privilege , feelings, and emotions.

In closing, I think the most apt word for most of the FTB bloggers is, I think, “infantile”. You know how some parents tell kids that there are hungry people in the world so you should not waste your food and you should eat your spinach because it’s good for you? FTB bloggers were the kids who said “Just because other people are dying of hunger does not mean I should eat spinach even if it makes me stronger. I DON’T LIKE IT! I WANT ICE-CREAM ONLY AND NOTHING ELSE. WAH! WAH! WAH!”

I’ve always been proud of the fact that I developed a rational, atheistic, naturalistic worldview by the time I was 16 even though I did not know a single atheist and even though I had not read anything related to skepticism or atheism. I just have a very good fraud detector.

While technically, guilt by association is not something you need to defend against, I do wish to distance myself as much as I can from the religious groupthink that is FreeThoughtBlogs (FTB). To state it with as much restraint as I can muster, not all of us atheists/skeptics/freethinkers are petty, nasty, juvenile, immature, arrogant, narcissistic people.

Through the conflation of muddy subjective feelings / political points of view with the clarity of objective reality, they have dumped so much dirt in the clear waters of free thought, that it has flowed all the way upstream and too close to the rest of who were still exploring the beautiful clear waters which hide so many things wondrous, beautiful, and new.

In a way it was inevitable when too many non-scientifically trained minds got a platform to blather about their feelings, emotions, and political agendas, free from criticism in an area which relies very heavily on clear, logical, and scientific thought.

Their attitude wouldn’t be so disgusting, so repulsive, so loathsome, if they were at least honest enough to admit that they don’t give a damn about real issues of social justice. Stereotyping is bad, but I can’t help but say that these are your typical bunch of over-privileged (Haha. See what I did there?), morally bankrupt westerners who pat themselves on the back for saving the world everyday by commenting on the Internet, driving a Prius, flying around the country (Presumably to save electricity by not using the Internet) giving speeches at conferences and sending $20 to Africa once a year while voting for a black man to show how non-racist they are, who by the way, is no different from the previous white guy when it comes to dropping bombs and killing and torturing innocent people around the world. If FTB is your sample space then the hypothesis of “morality as only a status display” is well and truly a solid theory.

I hope these people do not come to represent skepticism/atheism. If they do, I will have to stop calling myself an atheist and start saying I am an agnostic.

See these for examples of above mentioned behaviour:


Stupid Drama


Subjective Reality

Attention seeking

Pompous Prickery

Uncivilized Barbaric Behaviour

and too many more to list.

1) Record your weight everyday after waking up.
2) Eat
3) The next day you are only allowed to eat when your weight equals your previous day’s (weight – 0.1)

Continue the cycle until you reach your desired goal. Then send me money.

Try at your own risk. I am not responsible if you die or something.

My progress:
05/30: 70.0 kgs.
06/16: 68.4 kgs.

06/17: 68.3 kgs.

06/18: 68.2 kgs.

06/19: 68.1 kgs.

06/20: 68.0 kgs.

06/21: 67.9 kgs.

06/22: 67.8 kgs

06/23: 67.7 kgs

06/24: 67.6 kgs

06/25: 67.5 kgs

06/26: 67.4 kgs

06/27: 67.3 kgs

And I’m done for now as this is close to where I need to be.

Note that these aren’t actual weights recorded. If I need to be 67.8 on Monday, I might be 67.1, but I record it as 67.8. The point is to not eat until you’ve recorded less than or equal to 67.8.

Contrary to popular belief and despite their claims, atheists’ lack of belief in God is not a result of rational and logical clear-thinking. The sad fact is that they suffer from a number of diseases, which, working in concert, contribute towards making them unable to accept the simple fact of God’s existence. As loving, caring, and extremely moral people, it is important that we try to understand these causes, so that we can treat them as diseased human beings first, and immoral heathens second.

The most serious of the diseases that afflict atheists and also one that seems to make them vulnerable to most of the other diseases is called Consistentitis. A religious brain is a marvelous feat of engineering that only God can achieve. It can do what a brain affected by Consistentitis cannot. It can hold two or more contradicting facts without causing any unwanted reactions like throwing out some of the facts until the brain is internally consistent. This disease is caused by a virus called Honestus Toselfus. This virus is responsible for eating away the cells in the brain that grow to form walls that compartmentalize the brain and allow us to hold a huge variety of different ideas.

Then, there is Incredulitis. This disease prevents atheists from easily accepting miracles. A normal religious brain is quite open, absorbing as many things as it can, and without any interference from the brain, and sending them all unquestioningly directly to the facts store. However, with Incredulitis, the brain starts filtering facts. Just like a water-filter straining out the bigger particles, Incredulitis causes the bigger facts like the elephant God, and the virgin birth, which we call miracles,  to be filtered out. This lack of facts causes their Evidentitis to flare up, leading them to start demanding the very facts that their brain rejects. Evidentitis is a condition that makes atheists distrustful, skeptical, and cynical human beings. They start demanding evidence for every little thing. It makes them so distrustful of their fellow human beings that they do not even accept the facts written down by God himself in our holy book. This leads to a vicious circle, where the constant rejection of facts again causes their Incredulitis to worsen. In the end, this vicious cycle ends with the atheist brain throwing out all belief in God, and labeling God and religions as nonsense.

The virus causing Incredulitis and Evidentitis is called CommonusSensus,which when combined with exposure to an even more deadly virus called Sciencus, seems to make everything a whole lot worse.

However, all is not lost. We can prevent this disease among our children by thoroughly moulding their brain in a way that it does not get infected by these viruses. Common symptoms and suggested treatments follow. If you notice any of these in your child, act immediately.

  • Child displays an OCD with reality – The most common symptoms of this are trying to relate the world of miracles with the natural world and expecting to see them happen in the  natural world as well. For example, when a child is unable to see miracles happening in the real world and is unable to see any signs of God, he becomes vulnerable to Incredulitis. The suggested treatment is to point out the miracles that have indeed happened in his life. Like the time he topped his school or the time he found $20 on the road. In case he still displays doubts, keep telling him over and over again about other miracles happening all over the world, like Bush being elected President twice.
  • Child asks a lot of questions – This is a very noticeable development early on in a child’s life. This excessive curiosity must not be allowed to develop into anything serious. Symptoms include silly questions like – Why doesn’t God punish the bad people? Why did God let that aeroplane crash? If there is only one God, why are there so many religions? These are very simple questions, but as we know, the answers to these are quite complex and philosophically complicated which a child’s undeveloped mind cannot as yet grasp. So, the best way to deal with questions that you feel your child may not understand is to use answers like “Because I said so” and “When you grow up, you will understand”, and “Go and read the holy book and you will understand”. If you are successful, the child will stop asking questions and start accepting everything you say as the truth, which is great because it means the child’s brain will not be strained by too much thinking.
  • Child displays lack of self-confidence – We know that our God is the correct one. However, when a young child sees the existence of other “religions” and “gods”, she may wonder why her religion is the true one. This erosion of confidence in our faith must be stopped before it develops into a serious case of asking too many questions. The suggested treatment is to point out all the logical flaws and contradictions in other unsophisticated religions that cannot obviously be interpreted in any way that makes any sense whatsoever.

If you follow the above advise, you should end up raising a child that has the ability to hold complex thoughts that appear contradictory to the simple mind, a child that is so full of confidence in her own faith that she will loudly proclaim the truth of our faith to everyone and tell members of all other “faiths” how wrong they are, and finally, a child whose mind does not ask questions, but provides simple answers to those who ask hard questions.

This is probably the funniest thesis you will get to read. I marked it up with some comments and criticisms of my own.

Kent Hovind’s thesis

It is almost universally accepted in the new atheist movement that religious fundamentalists are synonymous with irrationality, and that the moderately religious are relatively more grounded in reality, and more rational. This perception is mainly based on the level of acceptance of scientific theories by these two groups. In general, you are likely to find more rejection of scientific theories amongst the fundamentalists than among the moderately religious. For instance, fundamentalists will not accept that evolution is true, or that the earth is more than 10,000 years old.

An interesting question is – how much more irrational is the fundamentalist position as compared to the moderate one? There is no denying that the moderate position is much more desirable than the fundamentalist one. But is that true because the moderate position is more rational? It certainly is more in touch with reality. But is this closeness to reality a product of sound reasoning? Of rationality?

An important factor in a scientific theory is the number of assumptions required to support it. An assumption is something taken for granted, or something that has not been proven yet. Obviously, the fewer the assumptions in a theory, the more it is grounded in evidence, and lesser the chances of the theory being falsified in the future.

Another important foundation of reason and science is consistency. A scientific theory may be supported by a hundred different observations or facts, and may make numerous correct predictions, and yet, if one new fact comes to light that contradicts this theory, or if a single observation goes against its predictions, the theory is in trouble. This is the beauty of the scientific method – consistency. And this consistency is why we can safely say that the scientific method is the closest we can get to truths in any meaningful way.

And finally, we have the outcomes or predictions of a theory. Given a set of inputs, a good scientific theory should predict precise outcomes. A theory which says the answer is precisely A is more useful than one that says the answer is either A or B, which in turn is still far more useful than one that says the answer lies between A and Z.

Since the moderates are far more rational than the fundamentalists, we can expect them to outscore them in the above criteria. Let’s examine these in turn.


The assumption that there is a god is one common to both groups. But what is the basis for this assumption? In the case of the fundamentalist, there is one basic assumption, from which everything follows. And that is, that his holy book, whether it is the Bible or the Koran, or something else, is a book of facts, or the word of god. Without going into too many details of what these books contain, how rational is it to believe this? To believe this, you must accept that none of the people who contributed to this book were lying. Without examining the details of the book, there is really no way to determine this. But we can say that there is a possibility that the book might  be true. That the collective words of numerous authors over the centuries confer some credibility on its truth value. We can say there is some basis for making this assumption. Now consider the moderate stance. The moderate does not believe the holy books to be true literally. Or, in the moderate’s stance, the holy book is unreliable. So what is the basis for the god assumption? In most cases, it is nothing more than a feeling, or something like “I believe because I want to believe”. A famous example (or infamous if you’re a rational person) of such a feeling is that expressed by Francis Collins, the current head of the NIH in the US. Collins saw a frozen waterfall which somehow convinced him not only that god exists, but that the god is a Christian god. As a scientist Collins probably realized he would have to justify his belief in a Christian god as opposed to one of the numerous other ones competing for his gullibility. So he pointed out that the frozen waterfall had 3 streams, which corresponds to the concept of trinity in Christianity. You would expect a bit more solid reasoning from a scientist, but let’s assume for a moment that beauty in nature somehow symbolizes, and also is, evidence of god. Then, as a skeptic, we could ask why the 3 streams represent the trinity of Christianity, and not the Trimurti of Hinduism?

So while we can pin down the number of assumptions of the fundamentalist to 1, which is simply that the historic holy book is a true eye witness account of people over the centuries, what can we say about the assumptions of the moderates? One of them assumes that a frozen waterfall comprising of 3 streams shows that there is a Christian god. Some other moderates assume that our morality is a sign of god. And still some others assume that god is talking to them through intermediaries like the pope and other religious leaders. And let us not forget those who simple assert the existence of god because they can feel the love of god. If you visited an alien planet, half of whose inhabitants claimed that they were created by powerful beings as an experiment in galactic civilizations because of an old historic document passed down the generations, while the other half claimed to be created by the same powerful beings for tens of different reasons, who would you be more inclined to believe?


For me, the truly great thing about the scientific method is consistency. The consistency of the theory of gravity means I have no doubt falling off the cliff of the Himalayas will result in the same end as falling off the 20th floor of a building. Not very pleasant results, but unquestionably, consistent ones. Consistency means that an airplane that flies me from Bombay to New York will also be able to fly me back from New York to Bombay. Consistency rocks.

Since fundamentalists tend to follow their holy books literally, they are as consistent as their books allow them to be. There are of course, some creative interpretations of what the book really means when it comes to passages that advise stoning of people and other such stone age practices. But by and large, the fundamentalist stays true to the book. Adultery is immoral, as is homosexuality, and anyone who doesn’t follow their version of the holy book, is condemned to hell in the mind of the fundamentalist. A Christian fundamentalist will not say agree that the earth is more than a few thousand years old because it would contradict the bible. He will also not accept evolution because the bible says that god created all the species within a week. The fundamentalist is consistent, even if dead wrong.

On the other hand, the moderate has no trouble accepting line 34 on page 76 of his holy book with the same ease that she rejects line 68 on page 234. On what basis does she determine which parts are correct and which are not? At worst we may put it down to her whims, and at best, we can say that she follows the science where the evidence is overwhelming, and follows her book elsewhere wherever it is convenient for her. If the science shows that the earth is around 4 billion years old, the moderate is happy to assume that one day used by god actually stands for hundreds of millions of years. But in some other chapter, the day is again interpreted as 24 hours because otherwise it just wouldn’t make any sense that Moses stayed in the mountains for millions of years. So consistency and the moderate go together like water and fire, one of them invariably disappearing in a noisy confusion of smoke when they come in contact.


Given that the only thing the fundamentalist believes in as a source of truth is his holy book, we can have an honest debate with him, We can point out the errors and inaccuracies in the holy books. We can falsify the claims of the fundamentalist. If the holy books says the earth is a few thousand years old and science says it is a few billion years old, we have a precise point of disagreement. As rationalists, we choose science and the fundamentalist chooses the book, again both being consistent in their positions. Where does the moderate fit in? Somewhere in between. While reason and logic tell us that a virgin cannot give birth and that wine cannot be turned into water, and that even the most circus trained snake has only been trained to say “his”, the moderate does not think these beliefs are unrealistic. But before you dismiss the moderate as being irrational, out he comes with his strong belief in science and evolution! But there is a catch here too. The moderate says that the process of evolution was started by god. We can accept this as a somewhat plausible explanation on the behalf of someone handicapped by a belief in god. But wait, that is not all. Not only does the moderate somehow know that god started evolution, he also knows that once god started it, he never interfered in it. Creationists are ridiculed for believing something written in a book. On the other hand, moderates who make incredible, unverifiable claims like the one above are given a free pass, and even respected, simply because the effects of such claims means that science can be kept free of religion. How on earth can one claim to know that there is a god, that that god is all powerful, all knowing, and by the way, doesn’t ever influence the process of evolution, lest religion be introduced in a science class? This moderate position is really far more arrogant and irrational than anything the fundamentalist can dream of. Not only does the moderate know that there is a god, he knows through his own mind what exactly god does and does not do. He knows the mind of god. Maybe he thinks he is god.

Levels and Effects of Irrationality

There is no denying that for rational people, the religious moderates who accept the above scientific theories are far more desirable to have around than the fundamentalists. Because in this day and age of  nuclear bombs, we want as few people as possible believing that the end times are near and that it is their holy duty to bring them upon us. We would also prefer not having around people who think adultery should be punishable by death and that homosexuality is immoral. And surely, none of us want to have more of those who want to replace the entire chapter on evolution with 3 words – God did it. There is pretty much a consensus on this.

In the rational community, there is little or no respect for the fundamentalist position, and it is frequently mocked, looked down upon, and dismissed as irrational. Using reason, evidence, and logic, we can disprove the claim that the earth is a few thousand years old. We cannot disprove the claim that god started evolution and then never interfered in it. While the fundamentalist is dead wrong about a lot of things, at least he comes from an intellectually honest position, a more or less consistent position, and certainly a testable position. On the other hand, the moderate is only wrong about the things science cannot absolutely disprove. The moderate dances with both the fundamentalist and the rationalists as and when it benefits him. It is not an intellectually honest position, but one of convenience.

How can we measure irrationality? If we simply consider being wrong as being irrational then it is easy to say that the fundamentalists are the more irrational ones. But I like to look at it a bit differently. We know that belief in god is irrational. Especially an all powerful, all knowing one. But both the fundamentalist and the moderate believe in this god. At this point we can say that the level of irrationality of both is pretty much the same. This is the basis of all further irrational positions held by both. The belief in god. However, if you do accept god, then is it irrational to accept that god created all the species? If god is all powerful, why couldn’t god have created the millions of different species? If you accept that an all powerful and knowing god created the earth, then is it not possible that his tweaking of various parameters led to the changes in the laws of physics leading to incorrect assumptions in the scientific methods used for determining the age of the earth?

A world without god is a very restricted one. Once you put god in this world, anything is possible. In a world with god it is only as irrational to believe that god definitely does not interfere in evolution as it is to believe that god changed the laws of physics a few thousand years ago. A world with god is a world of infinite possibilities. It is the fundamentalist who actually makes this world a saner one by restricting it to the parameters established by his holy book.

And so while we may agree that the effect of the irrationalities of the moderates are far more desirable than the effect of the irrationalities of the fundamentalist, there is a strong case to be made for the argument that the level of rationality of a moderate is not much higher than the level of rationality of the fundamentalist, if at all.

I just wanted to write down a thought about morality that I had recently, since a lot of people liked it.

Picking morals from religion is like picking out food from the trash. Sure, you’ll find something edible, and maybe even tasty, but it’ll be tainted with the horrid smell of the rest of the junk. Why not just get your food fresh from nature where it came from in the first place.

Also, see this nice image by a fellow poster on RichardDawkins.net.