Has UD Reached its Best Before Date?

Uncommon Descent still has some interesting topics, but the authors of the OPs simply do not tolerate any comments that do not validate their opinions.

Worse than this, they label any commenter who disagrees with any of their opinions as a Darwinist/atheist/subjectivist/materialist/communist/progressive. The two most flagrant abusers are Barry Arrington, the moderator, and Gordon Mullings, who posts as KairosFocus.

Kairosfocus’ most recent rants have been about objective moral truths and his charity of the day, self-evident first duties. It has been pointed out to him on numerous occasions that his objective moral truths are nothing more than human behaviours that most people have subjectively determined to be in their best interest if they want to continue to thrive in a social setting.

Rather than address the arguments raised against his views, he repeatedly erects strawman versions of his opponents’ views, and then argues from consequence.

The issue worth discussing here, is whether KF has a valid point.

108 thoughts on “Has UD Reached its Best Before Date?

  1. Yes is my answer to the OP title. The killer moment for me was when Barry Arrington bet with a poster regarding the virulence of COVID. His figure of 60,000 looks ridiculous now, as does his weasel notpology after banning the poster and ensuring subsequent discussion was suppressed by being closed to comments.

  2. We shouldn’t be outing KF. Though mentioning it once, I think you got away with it. Cockerels and dung heaps come to mind. I still glance in regularly to excercise my scroll finger. Still think Jerry is a sleeper troll.

    Oh and hi, JoeG!

  3. Sometimes I wonder, if I were ideologically locked into something whacko and indefensible, how would I continue to present it? Perhaps I would be limited to repeating flagrant falsehoods and banning disagreement, just like Barry. The real challenge would be feeling righteous while I did so.

  4. Neil Rickert:
    I have long since stopped reading any post by KF.

    Probably a very wise choice. I am ashamed to admit that I often try to read his inane ramblings. Much like the guilt you feel by going to a freak show.

    During his latest rant he has posted hundreds of thousands of words, most of them just copy and pasta from earlier comments.

  5. The site’s best before was probably over as soon as Dembski abandoned it – and also Dembski did not manage to do anything meaningful later. Barry and KF are no better than the average commentators there, just with admin powers. KF started to be repetitive to me in some months after the first encounter and his irrelevance ceased to be amusing.

    Acartia: The issue worth discussing here, is whether KF has a valid point.

    Objective morality can have valid arguments for it, but KF deserves zero validation.

  6. The issue worth discussing here, is whether KF has a valid point.

    With regard to epistemic duties, KF is quite correct. But I don’t think that this fact has the implications that KF wants it to have. His long-winded and curiously repetitive polemics involve quite a few leaps in logic in order to get from basic epistemic duties to whatever weird version of conservative Christianity he’s trying to promote.

    Erik: Objective morality can have valid arguments for it, but KF deserves zero validation.

    I’d agree with that.

  7. I dunno. Conflation of objective with consensus, or in KF’s case conflation of objective and absolute, usually result in confusion, in my subjective view.

  8. I think where KF has it wrong is how he is defining objective. For example, I don’t think we will have any arguments that his “first duties” are a good and proven strategy for people to follow if they want to thrive in a social environment. If that is what he means by objective, I would agree with him. But he is arguing that his first duties exist independent of the individual or individuals in the social group. It seems to me that they exist BECAUSE of the individuals in society.

    Then there is his nonsense algebraic proof of the existence of objective moral truth. And, finally, his argument that claiming that objective moral values don’t exist is an objective moral truth claim and, therefore, self-referential.

  9. Acartia: ..his argument that claiming that objective moral values don’t exist is an objective moral truth claim and, therefore, self-referential.

    It’s a while since I’ve bothered to read anything by KF. But that works both ways. There is no objective definition of “objective”.

  10. Intelligent Design is a phenomenon that never grew into its catchy title. Some might say, I might be one, that it was still-born. However the long and fruitless argument over whether ID had any philosophical or scientific merit has occupied a small* percentage of my internet activity since I first got hooked in 2005.

    I’m getting on a bit, my memory isn’t what it was, but I’ve been mulling over stuff I do remember. One thing, a fair number of active participants in the debate have died. Mark Perakh, Richard B Hoppe, Gil Dodgen, Phillip Johnson just happen to spring to mind. I had interaction with Skip Evans, Ed Brayton and Robert Shapiro while tracking “peer reviewers” for Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box. All three are now gone.

    Bill Demski’s career is an object lesson in how not to fail upwards. From the heady days of his flagship ID website ISCID** and his “personal playground” of Uncommon Descent to obscurity in fifteen years. I recall as a neophyte ID-curious internaut, trying to post a comment at UD back in 2005. It was along the lines of “congratulations on your new site, Dr Dembski, would you be able for those of us new to the idea, to give us a definition of “Intelligent Design”. I must have spent half a day, trying to register and post the comment before concluding the glitches were not technical but designed.

    I was toying with posting this as an OP but really I was just wondering if others have memories, fond or otherwise, of their own experience of the “Intelligent Design” movement and the characters associated with and opposed to it.

    ETA: How could I forget the late, unique and entertaining Professor Emeritus John A. Davison. We had some laughs, didn’t we John? RIP.

    *less than half, perhaps?

    **On searching for that link, I was reminded of Micah Sparacio, who I also interacted with at ISCID (and back-channel) who was always civil and straightforward. I wonder what he is doing now?

  11. Attracting Talent. Are we continually attracting new talent to intelligent design’s scientific research program? Does that talent include intellects of the highest caliber? Is that talent distributed across the disciplines or confined only to certain disciplines? Are under-represented disciplines getting filled? What about talent that’s been with the movement in the past? Is it staying with the movement or becoming disillusioned and aligning itself elsewhere? Do the same names associated with intelligent design keep coming up in print or are we constantly adding new names? Are we fun to be around? Do we have a colorful assortment of characters? Other things being equal, would you rather party with a design theorist or a Darwinist?

    Well, they have a colorful assortment of characters at any rate, so it’s not all bad!

  12. OMagain: Well, they have a colorful assortment of characters at any rate, so it’s not all bad!

    Barry Arrington, Gordon Mullings, Phillip Cunningham, Joe Gallien, etc. Yup, they are certainly colourful. And each has their own pathology.

  13. Alan Fox: I was toying with posting this as an OP but really I was just wondering if others have memories, fond or otherwise, of their own experience of the “Intelligent Design” movement and the characters associated with and opposed to it.

    I was active on Uncommon Descent for several years and have no fond memories of having done so. Every day was a renewed exercise in frustration.

  14. Kantian Naturalist: I was active on Uncommon Descent for several years and have no fond memories of having done so. Every day was a renewed exercise in frustration.

    Have you ever wondered why we do it? I sometimes think (and my wife is certain, though she is on many issues) it is just a form of addiction. Recognizing it and moving on is the first step to recovery.

    Er…

  15. Alan Fox: Have you ever wondered why we do it? I sometimes think (and my wife is certain, though she is on many issues) it is just a form of addiction. Recognizing it and moving on is the first step to recovery.

    I read it for the same reason I read National Review and The Federalist: one needs to understand what right-wing nutjobs are thinking and saying in order to fight them effectively.

  16. Kantian Naturalist: I read it for the same reason I read National Review and The Federalist: one needs to understand what right-wing nutjobs are thinking and saying in order to fight them effectively.

    Yup, know your enemy. Right now it is interesting to note the timepoints when Republican pundits turn anti-Trump.

  17. KF is unbelievably arrogant, self-righteous, thinks of himself as the utmost authority on proper behaviour, addresses behaviours, or, rather, points fingers at behaviours and tones, instead of responding to the arguments, behaves insultingly towards those who disagree with him, in ways he condemns on others, and a long etc. So, I doubt KF ever has a point. Otherwise he’d present arguments, rather than admonitions.

  18. Entropy:
    KF is unbelievably arrogant, self-righteous, thinks of himself as the utmost authority on proper behaviour, addresses behaviours, or, rather, points fingers at behaviours and tones, instead of responding to the arguments, behaves insultingly towards those who disagree with him, in ways he condemns on others, and a long etc. So, I doubt KF ever has a point. Otherwise he’d present arguments, rather than admonitions.

    Yes, KF certainly isn’t interested in an open and honest discussion. He only tolerates comments that validate his own opinions, and categorizes those who disagree as Darwinist/atheist/materialists and, therefore, worthy of disdain.

    From what I have seen, the only ones attempting to have an open and honest discussion are those arguing against KF’s views. Barry, LCD and ET limit their arguments to insults or loaded questions. Jerry, EDTA VB and StephenB have their tolerable moments.

    Although, when I used to comment at UD, I hate to admit that I would veer off into subjects that I knew would irritate KF. Things like abortion, homosexuality and same sex marriage. It was entertaining to see him blow his top.

    More recently KF has been arguing with a few people over objective moral values and objective self-evident duties. He was failing so badly that he has recently posted 13 OPs on the subject with comments turned off.

  19. Acartia:
    More recently KF has been arguing with a few people over objective moral values and objective self-evident duties. He was failing so badly that he has recently posted 13 OPs on the subject with comments turned off.

    He must be rehearsing William Lame Craig’s arguments.

  20. Acartia,

    I took a look and the first thing I saw was this heavily ironic piece:

    BioLogos hopes to calm the fears of ignorant Christians about “evolution”

    With this introoductory paragraph:

    What some of us find curious is that Christian evolutionists so seldom want to grasp the fact that the problem for most Christians is Darwinism, which is an explicitly materialist and naturalist theory of everything. The problem is not “evolution” as in antibiotics.

    Ha! They used the term “ignorant” as sarcasm, only to then lead with such an ignorant assertion! I never knew Darwin proposed a wholesale theory of everything. Holy crap! That was smart. And in a book title on the origin of species! Shit, Darwin fooled everybody to think he meant species, when he meant everything. How clever.

    But that’s not enough, the comment at the top claims that antibiotic resistance is an immunological bacterial response, and that the concept of immunity is officially crimethink.

    Crap! Why didn’t you tell me it was forbidden to talk about immunity? I have been explaining vaccines to people, and it’s all about immunity! I might end up in jail.

    Does that amazingly ignorant commenter really think that antibiotic resistance works using some kind of bacterial immunoglobulins, or is she using the term metaphorically?

    Hoooooooly crap!

  21. Entropy:
    Acartia,

    But that’s not enough, the comment at the top claims that antibiotic resistance is an immunological bacterial response, and that the concept of immunity is officially crimethink.

    Crap! Why didn’t you tell me it was forbidden to talk about immunity? I have been explaining vaccines to people, and it’s all about immunity! I might end up in jail.

    Oh yah. Did I forget to mention that these same geniuses are anti-mask, anti-vax, pro hydroxychloroquin and pro-ivermectin?

  22. Entropy: I never knew Darwin proposed a wholesale theory of everything. Holy crap! That was smart. And in a book title on the origin of species! Shit, Darwin fooled everybody to think he meant species, when he meant everything. How clever.

    The entire ID movement, as represented by the UD regulars, consists of the following steps:

    1. Conflate Darwinism as theory of macroevolutionary changes with materialist metaphysics.
    2. Conflate atheism (as denial that God exists) with materialist metaphysics.
    3. Strawman materialist metaphysics to the point that no half-way intelligent person could possibly endorse it.
    4. Denounce materialists for being stupid, irrational, and/or ignorant
    5. Berate and silence anyone who disagrees with (1), (2), and (3).

  23. And don’t forget the preaching.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/materialists-know-what-they-say-is-false-they-say-it-anyway/#comment-745563.

    Atheists hate God comes up. Catholic bigot, StephenB joins in but the best is William J Murray making the usual suspects into complete idiots. He’s turned into (or maybe always was) a live-and-let-liver. Good on you, William. See you in oblivion.

    Scroll over KF, and there’s some entertainment. Even JoeG manages a coherent comment. (It doesn’t last.)

  24. Entropy:
    Do those people really think they’re in a position to discuss morality?

    Why not? Believing that same-sex-marriage should be banned is a moral opinion. Believing that the birth control pill and the IUD should be banned because they prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum is a moral opinion. Believing that transgendered should not be allowed to use the bathroom of their gender identity is a moral opinion. Believing that businesses should be allowed to deny services to same sex couples is a moral opinion. Believing that a valedictorian should be prevented from giving the valedictory address because he is gay is a moral opinion. I think that the fact that these are all immoral opinions puts them in an excellent position to discuss morality. If for no other reason than to shed light on the absurdity of their position.

    Remember, we are talking about people who believe that because Comet Pizza used a stylized triangle as there logo is proof that they were the front for a pedophile ring. Because, no pizza joint in their right mind would use something that looks like a slice of pizza as a logo.

  25. Entropy:
    Acartia,

    I wouldn’t call that a position to discuss morality, more of a position to display their moral bankruptcy.

    I think that moral bankruptcy is their moral position.

  26. Acartia: What does it mean to you? You seem to be angry about it.

    Phooodoo has a tendency not to answer questions. It does have the advantage that, if you don’t declare a position, you don’t have to defend it.

  27. phoodoo: What does immorality mean to a materialist?

    Give me ‘materialist immorality’ to whatever you are espousing any day of the week.

    phoodoo: You have no idea what you are even talking about. All Uighurs aren’t in jail for crying out loud. The people who are jailed are suspected of conspiring to do terrorist harm. They don’t jail people because they are Uighurs or Muslims.

  28. Acartia,

    Wow, I really touched a soft spot for you, huh? Don’t blow a top, I can see you are fuming, chill man. Why does talking about morality make you so angry? Weird.

    Morality for the less material of us isn’t a big problem. Most is spelled out in various religious texts, to be interpreted according to your beliefs. So there’s that.

    So what’s immoral to a person who thinks life arose through random meaningless chance? Any idea of purpose is clearly an illusion.

    Stay calm, try to control yourself.

  29. phoodoo: So what’s immoral to a person who thinks life arose through random meaningless chance?

    Locking innocent people in cages is moral for you. You’ve no problem with that.

    So who gives a shit about your questions about immorality?

    You have already said all that needs to be said about your moral values – they are easily paid for.

  30. phoodoo: Stay calm, try to control yourself.

    Need a new bulb for your projector? There’s only one person here who writes as if they are literally frothing at the mouth and it’s you.

  31. phoodoo to Acartia,
    Wow, I really touched a soft spot for you, huh? Don’t blow a top, I can see you are fuming, chill man. Why does talking about morality make you so angry?Weird.

    This from someone who’s critique of atheism consists on angry rants and misrepresentations.

    phoodoo to Acartia,
    Morality for the less material of us isn’t a big problem.

    In my experience, even discussing morality make it evident that creationists might not think it’s a problem for them, yet show profound moral bankruptcy. That’s the problem of leaving these issues to an imaginary being.

    phoodoo to Acartia,
    Most is spelled out in various religious texts, to be interpreted according to your beliefs. So there’s that.

    I suppose interpreting “according to your beliefs” makes it a piece of cake. Obviously.

    phoodoo to Acartia,
    So what’s immoral to a person who thinks life arose through random meaningless chance? Any idea of purpose is clearly an illusion.

    You’d have to ask someone who believes that. My position is that morality is about our relationships with each other, and that those relationships are independent on how life arose. For example, that atoms have no feelings doesn’t mean that we have no feelings, regardless of how those atoms came to be part of us, by the devising of a magical being in the sky, or by the way nature works. So there’s that.

    No. I’m not saying that morality is a piece of cake, I’m saying it’s problematic to anybody, and that founding it on the words of some religious text is, besides nonsensical, not straightforward, and often conflicts with reality in ways that make that “foundation” most obviously flawed.

  32. phoodoo:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    Materialist metaphysics?Does that even make sense as a term? What does it even mean?

    It’s the same as what the folks at UD call “materialism”, only making explicit that it’s a metaphysical view. It’s the position that only material things exist, and nothing exists that isn’t somehow composed of matter or explained in terms of matter and its properties.

  33. phoodoo:
    Acartia,

    Wow, I really touched a soft spot for you, huh?Don’t blow a top, I can see you are fuming, chill man.Why does talking about morality make you so angry?Weird.

    You should stop looking in the mirror.

    Morality for the less material of us isn’t a big problem.Most is spelled out in various religious texts, to be interpreted according to your beliefs.So there’s that.

    You mean like the killing of homosexuals, the killing of women who do not bleed on their wedding night, or eternal suffering for all those who don’t worship God, regardless of how they have led their lives? Thank you, but I will stick to my subjectively derived morality.

    So what’s immoral to a person who thinks life arose through random meaningless chance?

    It’s immoral to deny homosexuals the right to marry. It’s immoral to force transgendered to use bathrooms of their biological sex, greatly increasing the risk to their health. It is immoral to deny services and employment opportunities to homosexuals that are available to everyone else. It was immoral for the church to cover up sexual abuse by priests. It was immoral for the church to force their beliefs on indigenous peoples.

    Any idea of purpose is clearly an illusion.

    I have enough intelligence and character to bring meaning and purpose to my life. Don’t you?

  34. Acartia: I have enough intelligence and character to bring meaning and purpose to my life. Don’t you?

    Phoodoo’s point, insofar as I understand it, is that entirely chaotic processes could not generate the kind of complex dynamical structures with the sufficient stability and regularity required in order to even have the capacity to create purposes of one’s own.

  35. Kantian Naturalist: Phoodoo’s point, insofar as I understand it, is that entirely chaotic processes could not generate the kind of complex dynamical structures with the sufficient stability and regularity required in order to even have the capacity to create purposes of one’s own.

    Then I guess it is a good thing that nobody has hypothesized that these were the result of an entirely chaotic process

  36. Acartia: Then I guess it is a good thing that nobody has hypothesized that these were the result of an entirely chaotic process

    Agreed, phoodoo’s arguments rely on a one-dimensional (and frankly silly) caricaturization of evolutionary biology and its implications for epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. I used to recommend other things for him to read, in the hopes that doing so would have a salutary effect. I don’t bother anymore.

  37. Kantian Naturalist: Agreed, phoodoo’s arguments rely on a one-dimensional (and frankly silly) caricaturization of evolutionary biology …

    Backwards, I think. His arguments don’t rely on this caricaturization of evolutionary biology, but rather that both the caricaturization and his arguments are entailed by his religious convictions. If you are required by faith to deny reality, you really have little choice but to flagrantly misrepresent any useful, even accurate, description of reality. You aren’t even allowed to realize that these ARE misrepresentations.

  38. OMagain quoting some ID text:
    “Other things being equal, would you rather party with a design theorist or a Darwinist?”

    Their minds won’t allow them to see but two “options.”

  39. Flint: You aren’t even allowed to realize that these ARE misrepresentations.

    The funny thing is that phoodoo sometimes writes and interacts like a normal human being.

    For example, his views on Trump seem rational in isolation. But some topics he can only be on the attack with. But then we get to the areas he’s obviously been programmed with from an early age (refusal to understand how fitness is actually defined and used) and it’s a solid wall of text full of quotes that nobody actually said and fury.

    Sad really.

  40. The most recent entry at UD is about evolving lizards. Seems to be a rehearse of something posted a few years ago. The entry has a quote from Science, and pretty much nothing else. Their comment reduces to “I don’t believe it.”

    After that, some Bob said they made genetic analyses, followed by ET saying that so mutations aren’t random to respect to fitness, meaning ET didn’t understand the role of selection, followed by some Martin, also saying he doesn’t believe it, Bod tells ET that maybe this is the wrong thread, finishing with some Johnny saying that the part about the genetic component was really vague, and a link to the article (thanks for that Johnny), where we can see that the authors performed some analyses to try and figure out which mutations might have been under selection, with some stats and such, and, since this is not straightforward to understand by the non-pop-gen, non-stats-inclined, being “vague about the genetic component” might translate into “I didn’t get it.”

    Ironically enough, those stats and pop-gen anayses are necessary because mutations are, as far as the data shows, blind to fitness, and, therefore, distinguishing noise from signal is not straightforward.

    It was fun though. So, thanks again, Johnny, for posting that link.

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