Monday, May 31, 2010

Response to FINIFID

Apparently the author of You Will be Forced to Become Wealthy decided to respond. If you haven't read the review, go do so. It's an absolutely awful book. It's the worst thing I've read since Brother Jed's book. Then read FINIFID's response. Normally, I'd respond in the comments there, but since the response is so long, I can't without chopping it up, so I'll just post it here.

FINIFID: Let me again respond, point-by-point, to your reply -

First off, let me apologize for getting the title wrong. As I've pointed out elsewhere on this blog (which I don't expect you to know), I'm dyslexic. A consequence of this is that I often replace words with others as I put things together in my mind. This was the case here. It's not an excuse, but simply an admission of error and that I will henceforth remedy it.

You're absolutely correct that the apparent time I published the blog post would imply I read almost the entire book (and also wrote my reply) in a matter of hours. As you expect, this would be impossible. And given the rather detailed review I gave, it should be common sense that something is wrong with that implication.

The answer is that I started writing the post a few hours after sending Mark the reply. Blogger works in an odd format that it will retroactively arrange and date posts based on the time they were began. Not when they were actually published to the website. The actual post went up late Monday night/Tuesday morning, a few minutes after which I sent Mark an Email telling him so. The Email was sent @ Tue, May 25, 2010 at 2:00 AM .

Thus, there was actually nearly six days for me to read and write. Thus, using this as a basis to claim I did not read your book is unfounded.

If your target audience was truly theists, you've done a horrible job at targeting the correct audience. The amount of your book dedicated to engaging them is minimal. Yet you market this as an atheist book. I'm not even sure you know who your target audience is.

Yes, studying is about repetition. However, right or wrong, things are ingrained into memory if they are repeated. As my piano teacher used to tell me, “Practice doesn't make perfect; It makes permanent.” If your ideas weren't correct, there's no use in “studying” them any further. I could see they're flagrantly wrong from a first pass.

Like it or not, dividing people into your two groups is arbitrary. Sure you can draw a line, but wealth isn't as split as you'd like to pretend. It's a continuous progression. Thus, where you place your line is meaningless. Sure, it can be useful to have a way to talk about things (we draw lines in science all the time, between species, between planet/asteroid), but getting hung up on where you draw the line as you do is what makes it meaningless. As I said elsewhere in my review, getting caught up in the analogy and losing sight of reality is a logical flaw I see all the time with Creationists. It's a mistake you're committing as well, hence the reason I called it out.

Similarly, your argument against the Big Bang is still flawed. Although you claim to know a lot more than you let on in your book (which I highly doubt since further knowledge would reveal the holes I've pointed out) you still manage to get what the Big Bang says wrong. This now makes your argument into a straw man (yet another logical fallacy!). On top of that, you've now compounded your original logical fallacy and added an argumentum ad infinitum. Let me explain since you apparently have problems with “big words”.

As you point out, there are numerous hypothetical alternatives to the Big Bang. Steady state and plasma cosmology (which has been repeatedly debunked at this blog) are “alternatives” in the sense that they have been proposed, but they are not in the sense that all available evidence contradicts them. Your original argument was that you couldn't understand the evidence. Your new argument is that just because you can propose an alternative (regardless of the actual evidence you've ignored), it is equally valid. To then decide between them, you simply default to the ones you can understand (evidence be damned!).

But you've failed to realize the actual implications of this line of reasoning: It's possible to come up with an infinite number of possibilities, all slight variations on themes. Thus, now you're forced to consider all of them as legitimate. Thus, your “logic” falls apart.

The only true way to determine things between such sets is those that have accumulated evidence vs. those that haven't. The Big Bang and evolution with common descent hold all the cards. No other theories do. So your claim that you “have proven that the Universe is infinite” (at least in age) is simply wrong. The entire argument you used was, and still is, a logical fallacy. This makes it useless.

Your argument against my bringing up Quantum Mechanics is profoundly anti-intellectual as well. The entire book is an attempt to present an argument for how our world and our bodies really are. Thus, it must rely on how things really work. Unfortunately, reality isn't determined by what “regular people” know or want to know. So bringing that up at all is an attempt at distraction. You can't simply ignore it because your audience might not understand it. If it's important to the hypothesis, it's important. It cannot be left out.

Anyway, your quote from a textbook does absolutely nothing to argue against my point. My point was that the energy isn't created. It's already present in the form of chemical bonds which are being broken. You seem to be implying it's magically being created from the matter.

As to your bastardization of the term theory, it's yet another of your logical fallacies. In this case, it's the fallacy of equivocation. A “theory” in layman's terms is not the same as a “theory” in scientific terms. The former means a guess. The latter means “overwhelmingly tested and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Your “theory”, as well as Steady State “theory” and many others your attempt obfuscation with, are the former. The Big Bang and evolution are the latter. Conflating the two to attempt to make the former look equal in importance to the latter is a dirty trick used by Creationists and a personal pet peeve of mine.

I did not “totally miss” chapter 6. It was just pointless to address specifically. It was a grand total of three pages. The first page was a summary of points I'd already addressed and the conclusions were little more than bland restatements from them. Not worth writing about, but if I'd like me to edit that statement into my original review, I'll be more than happy to.

In regards to chapter 7, your new claims are not consistent with what you'd said before. Here, you say that supernovae can trigger new star formation. In your book, you claimed that the material given off directly formed the new stars through “broken off pieces”. These two points are mutually exclusive.

I have read chapter 8. My statement still stands based on what is given in the book. Your numbers are completely without justification.

By the way, thanks for not wanting to “give [me] a course in planetary creation and destruction.” I've already had one.

Your response to what I said about life being complex, well, I don't know what to say. You didn't really offer a response beyond maintaining it is simple, without any actual justification and just saying if I knew more, I'd get it. That's not really an argument. It's an excuse not to provide one. I know quite a lot about Biology. Although I haven't had nearly as much formal training in Biology as I have in the physical sciences, I've been debating Evolution/Creationism for eight years and read numerous books on the topic. I've discussed points with many people in the field. In fact, I know it well enough to teach it. Thus, simply responding “learn more” is not really saying anything.

As far as chapter 12 goes, you did claim that the brain is something life needs to achieve for higher organisms (although you never called it by name). Let me quote you:
When complicated and advanced cells began grouping together and created some simple organisms … the need for some central intelligence of that organism had arisen
You then go on to list functions of this “central intelligence” center, most of which are performed by the brain. Thus, without explicitly naming it, you did claim the brain is necessary. My point stands.

Your next rant is on humans and animals being different. I'm not going to bother going through the evidences (you obviously don't care about such things). If you care to find them, I'd suggest looking at These issues have already been hammered out in detail with Creationists.

Your confidence is unbounded population growth is merit less as well. Sure, kids will have sex and make more babies. But will the rate at which they continue to have kids be consistent as you assume? Will there never again be a great plague that destroys large percentages of the population? Will resources allow for as many people to survive? You assume all of these won't happen and that the case for now will continue forever, but even optimistic population models include such things. This is a staggering oversight on your part.

I am not in any way closed minded. As I pointed out in my closing, there's a difference between having an open mind and having one that gets soggy when it rains. I prefer to think of my mind as “guarded.” You need to have some actual evidence to be accepted in as more than a hypothetical scenario. But apparently, you like to allow things in based on generalizations and logical fallacies aimed at the masses.

On the topic of heredity: Your now claim that your genes “keep you human”. I get the impression you're pretty shaky on the definition of species. How much divergence does there need to be before humans are, well, not human? Until you start using some sort of system by which your distinctions have some meaning, your point can't be taken seriously. Again, this is a tactic Creationists love to hide behind. I have no respect for it.

By the way, I don't believe in astrology. It's not something I've put on my “About-Me” page. It's something that blogger automatically puts there based on my birthday.

I'll agree that chapter 15 is especially important in establishing your hypothesis. It's the grand unveiling. Given how shoddy your base is for the grand conclusion, I've treated it with due respect. As for chapter 1 of part 2 being important, I just reread it (somewhat more carefully this time). I agree with most the points against religion in it, but it isn't necessary for the rest of the thesis. If you really think it's important, then I think you're confusing the side topic (atheism and the lack of god) with the main one (the LAW).

At this point, your response turns ironic. You claim I summarized in chapter 2 in “two words”. I gave it a whole three sentences which outlined the main points without bothering to respond to them in any way. Yet, magically, you've decided that this amounts to “insults”.

But at this point, you're not bothering to respond to anything I said. Instead, you bitch and moan about me hurling insults, then you have an entire list of your own with a dose of silly psychoanalysis. I absolutely do not “spew [my] accumulated poison”. If you'd read the other reviews I've written, I'm very positive where good things can be said. In contrast, I maintain that the proper response to the ridiculous is ridicule. Given that the second half of your book is based on the first half, and the first half was nothing but logical pit holes, the entire second part is ridiculous. Thus, the second half of my review was more geared towards ridicule, but I'm in no way apologetic for such things.

I take great care to keep your sentences in context. If you care to argue how one is out of context, feel free to actually address it (which you've notably not done through all of your response thus far) instead of simply claiming it. Let's see some academic integrity here.

The author/publisher is rather unimportant to the main topic, but I never pretended it was. Notice I left It distinctly as an afterthought, separate from the main review. As far as “trying to dig in the dirty clothes”, you mentioning that shows your hypocrisy given you find it important to dig through my profile on a separate page to complain about the astrological notes that are affixed there without my asking. But hypocrisy is apparently rife with you in closing given you continue spewing poison of your own.

In conclusion, I do understand your book. The overall thought process is shaky, but stable, assuming the foundational statements are accurate. Those foundational statements include (but are not limited to) the infinite age of the universe, the creation of new celestial bodies, and the distinctness of the human species from animals. Given that all of these topics (and the ones I originally brought up and you unsuccessfully defended) you display woeful incompetence on and still have yet to support, your entire foundation crumbles, taking the rest of the structure with it.

Given this fact, there's no point in reading it again. I didn't expect you to be happy in hearing this, but your response has only confirmed what I already suspected: You're not really interested in academic, intellectual, or honest reviews. You want shallow praise from people that don't have enough knowledge to actually subject your claims to any real scrutiny. I cannot respect that. Your insistence that I should, and I should politely overlook the glaring holes in your basic knowledge is asinine.

So thank you for your lack of respect. I have no need of it from you. I'd much rather have it from people whose worldviews are built on logic, rational thinking, and evidence.


Matt Dick said...

My father used to say, "If someone is teaching you something and you don't understand it, either the teacher doesn't understand it, or the teacher doesn't want you to understand it."

I really don't understand what FINIFID is teaching.


W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

As someone who grew up in the southern U.S. and has been exposed to a lot of pseudo-science and pseudo-history (some by choice, some not), I find it interesting how many of them easily fit into a meta-format: Group X is superior to Group Y due to belief/characteristic Z, and they go on from there, with this elaborate construction of how the very operation of the Universe supports their belief. I've seen this in creationist/ID literature, Electric Universe, Plasma cosmology, and literature of a far more contentious nature. FINIFID's tome sounds like it could fit into this meta-format as well.

I'm sure someone has studied this meta-characteristic but I'm not sure what it would be called to learn more about what has been done.

Devin said...

Haha, I just came across this old video in the church my dad works for.
Luckily, someone else loaded it up on here already.

I used to think this was funny, now I want to cry.

I didn't know where to post this, but yeah, it's a good time.

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

As someone who grew up in the southern U.S. and has been exposed to a lot of pseudo-science and pseudo-history (some by choice, some not), I find it interesting how many of them easily fit into a meta-format: Group X is superior to Group Y due to belief/characteristic Z, and they go on from there, with this elaborate construction of how the very operation of the Universe supports their belief. I've seen this in creationist/ID literature, Electric Universe, Plasma cosmology, and literature of a far more contentious nature. FINIFID's tome sounds like it could fit into this meta-format as well.

I'm sure someone has studied this meta-characteristic but I'm not sure what it would be called to learn more about what has been done.