A lovely, thoughtful woman that I admire was recently victimized by one such bully. Her account of what was, in essence, a personal attack should be required reading for people who believe in God but who are made uncomfortable by another's lack of belief. Read this, and ask yourself how you would feel if this happened to you.

Thought bullies are everywhere, especially in cyberspace, where a bit of anonymity goes a long way. It's an interesting fact that, if you let a person interact with others without showing their real identity, they then seem a lot more likely to let another mask drop and reveal their true self.
This doesn't happen in 'reality' so much. People are much less willing to say what they really think about others face-to-face, where they might be recognized and identified---especially the people whose lives are studies in hatred: hatred of themselves, hatred of their own situation, hatred of their own families and friends, hidden under masks with labels like rationalization, scapegoating, projection, etc. There's a terrifying core of emptiness and fury in such people, and regular people don't see that too often.

But ask people in law enforcement, or those who provide counseling, and they'll tell you more than you want to know about what they've seen from the outside looking in. Even more telling, think about Kristine's experience and realize that, in effect, by unloading on Kristine, her victimizer was essentially declaring his conviction that she did not deserve to be treated as a human being. I think that's scary, and I think that most believers fail to appreciate how atheists are routinely victimized by aggressive theists.


Well, I am shocked, stunned, appalled. Who would ever think that the state that brought us Connie Morris and John Calvert would ever do this...? The mind boggles.


Incredibly, the situation at my school site continues. I have posted about this previously here, here, here and here. We still do not have any chemicals, which were incorrectly confiscated from our site by non-science people during Christmas break. The district has still failed to replace these chemicals, which they pledged that they would do back on January 14th. It is now February, and my students are still getting a curriculum that is not college prep, and which will not satisfy the UC's laboratory science requirement.

So what's the latest word? One bureaucrat (the previously-mentioned JV) claimed on the phone (he never responds to our emails or otherwise puts anything in writing) that it had been difficult to get a purchase order from the district, but that an order was put in around the end of January. Attempts to confirm this with other people in the district went nowhere: they either aren't able or are unwilling to tell us when purchase orders were first filed, giving any potentially negligent district employees a certain amount of cover. The entire thing is Orwellian.

However, here's a fact to ponder: my colleague Mr. Fisher saw the handwriting on the wall weeks ago and ordered a few chemicals from our preferred vendor (Flinn) at the end of January, and he had his order in less than a week. Why is it taking my district four times as long (and counting) to do the same thing?

I'm done playing patty-cake with these people. I don't care if I have to go it alone, I am going to release the hounds. My parents and students are going to be formally urged to complain.

YOUR HOST: Towards Intuition, With Misgivings

Stan wrote a lot of interesting things in the last post in an attempt to make sure that he is not misunderstood. I apologize for taking so long to reply, but it was challenging for me to read. I'll try to make my observations brief, because he clearly wants to get on with a project in reasoning that takes the validity of intuition as a means of probing the 'non-physical' as given (more on that later!)...

Stan does not deny the effectiveness of science as practiced in its domain, which he covers with the gloss 'empiricism.' In fact, he is at pains to make sure that he is not painted as 'anti-science.'

I agree. Science does seem to be the best means of investigating the natural world.

Stan invokes both Popper and Einstein in defense of the use of intuition in science.

I agree that scientists use intuitions to guide their investigations and reasoning process all the time, and that it is not necessary to shoehorn investigation of intuitions into the research program in order to call it scientific. The problem of where the hypothesis comes from (abduction) is interesting, but not critical to science as generally practiced. I don't care if a hypothesis comes from an astrology column! All I care about is whether it makes a claim that can be tested, and thus in principle falsified. For this reason, however, I do deny that intuitions can be formally invoked as part of the hypothesis/theory/model etc. under consideration.

Stan then goes on:

"Maybe more pointedly, “can evidence via intuition ever point to the validity of an intangible existence?” Or maybe, “can evidence via intuition provide enough certainty to support belief in an intangible existence?”

You see, I believe that it can, and I believe that, in spite of having no tangible empirical data to back me up."

OK, well, I believe that, too. I do think that what Stan defines as 'internal experiential evidence' exists, and that it might be valid for the system that it describes: that is, it might correspond with truth at least as well as any type of evidence. However, I also believe that the potential validity of that description is confined to the system in which the experience takes place, and that could present a severe limitation.

Stan concludes:

"This path, then, is non-empirical; I wonder if you wish to take off and leave the land of the tangible, for the possible existence beyond tangible? Can we accept the existence of intuition as a tool for acquiring evidence? Can we see that there are things that can be accepted as true or valid, without tangible physical evidence? If not, then I suggest that the philosophy being held to is metaphysical naturalism, which is a lock-down situation. I know that you denied that, but then you also seem to absolutely require physical test results for non-physical entities; so one of those must be an error, possibly my error of interpretation.

Can we move on into the arena of intuition?"

Obviously, if we don't accept this as a condition for further investigation, Stan feels the discussion grinds to a halt. It's been too good a discussion, too thoughtful, for me not to want to see where Stan's line of reasoning ends. So, by all means, Stan, continue. All I ask is that you keep in mind that neither of us has presented any justification for widening the sphere in which our private intuitions could be said to be generally valid. I expect that in order to do that, you will have to appeal to what you call 'intuitive evidence' based upon the First Principles. I look forward to your next post.



I'm afraid my blog will be on hiatus until at least Saturday evening due to a backlog of work and obligations, among them a funeral. All is well with me personally and I hope my readers won't forsake me, but I have to take a break from blogging...!



There was an increasingly ugly exchange last month over at PZ's place (and his daughter's place, which I'm not going to link to) in which said daughter (17 years old) verbally jousted with (presumably) an adult known as 'For the Kids', whose blog is here. Ftk, as she is usually known, is a self-described ID enthusiast from Kansas who was eventually thrown into PZ's dungeon when the interplay between her and PZ's daughter devolved into a discussion of the merits of zoophilia, which was picked up on as a talking point by Sal Cordova, of whom the less said, the better.

As I remarked at PZ's site:

This falls under the category of looking after the young'uns, plain and simple. It is the height of creepiness that someone whose monicker is 'For the kids' would appear to deliberately target the 17-year-old daughter of an intellectual nemesis.....Please take my advice. Retire your name and persona and hope that your true identity doesn't ever come out in a public debate on evolution/ID, because if this excuse for a Christian happens to be there, I will give any spectators present the goodies on this little episode. You should be ashamed to be even associated with Sal.

Well, there was more to the story than meets the eye, as it turned out. Though Cordova's cooption of the exchange was loathsome, Ftk was quick to stand on ceremony and point out in this comment (on an unrelated topic) on my site that PZ's daughter had essentially 'started it' by leaving comments on Ftk's blog. I'm sorry to say that I just recently noticed this comment and hesitated to reply until I could, as they say, 'fact-check' things out.

Having done so, I think I should admit that it was unfair of me to describe 'Ftk' as targeting the young woman in question based on this episode alone. Based on the evidence that's available to me now, it seems more charitable to think that Ftk was simply guilty of poor judgement in having this sort of exchange with a minor female; whatever her intent (and Ftk certainly has asserted her innocence of any implied wrongdoing), this probably falls under the heading of 'lawful but not profitable.' I've replied as much privately, but given that Ftk's reputation has already taken a beating, I thought the stand-up thing to do here was to own up to the rhetorical overkill.

I still think Ftk acted unwisely in repeatedly fencing with PZ's daughter, mind, and I reject her attempts to put a positive spin on Cordova's remarks. I can't shed too many tears for her ending up in PZ's dungeon, either: it's his place, not mine. But I also think that my ideological sparring partners are human beings, and human beings who make mistakes should be treated like human beings, and not notches in a gun. I didn't look at Ftk's initial claims as dispassionately as I should, and I spoke out of turn. I made a mistake, and I want to apologize.


Hello, my name is Darth Kitty. I live on Tatooine with my parents and my twin sister, Mimmy. We have lots of friends at school with whom we share many fun adventures. My hobbies include traveling, music, reading, eating the YUMMY cookies that Mimmy bakes and periodically torturing rebel scum with the CUTE side of the Force. As Hello Kitty says, you can never have too many friends.


The ranks of Florida counties going officially on record against the inclusion of evolution as understood by the scientific community continues to grow. Again, the counties shown on pale orange on the map have made it official, the ones in yellow have superintendents and/or trustees publicly suggesting that perhaps they should. If this concerns you, please consider signing this petition.