The Fighting Hand

In taking martial arts, Karate to be specific, a basic skill was how to punch and use a fist. While mere punching away has a strong effect, slight changes in how a person makes a fist can protect the knuckles. Using a solid stance and shifting the hips as you punch also creates and transfers more force.

Some martial arts teach how to extend a knuckle or how to extend the four knuckles so more force is pinpointed. The so-called chop stroke with the blade or the edge of the hand also directs the force in a specific way and allows one to strike something hard with the fleshy part of the hand protecting untrained knuckles from breaking. Go into these techniques deeply enough and one can learn myriad ways of directing and controlling dynamic force with the hand.

Intuitively, the hand is an amazing weapon for fine movements and for transferring force. Any child can learn to punch somewhat effectively without any training whatsoever. With training it becomes too easy, in peaceful ways, to wreck havoc on another’s body. Without training, a person punching the jaw of another will likely break their knuckles as well as the jaw. School yard kids quickly learn how much it hurts to punch the jaw and move to a softer spot the next time.

Explicitly, this has not been researched until recently. An analysis of the hand shows the advantages (force) of a fist to punch effectively doubles. Without training.

The derived proportions of the human hand may provide supportive buttressing that protects the hand from injury when striking with a fist. Flexion of digits 2–5 results in buttressing of the pads of the distal phalanges against the central palm and the palmar pads of the proximal phalanges. Additionally, adduction of the thenar eminence to abut the dorsal surface of the distal phalanges of digits 2 and 3 locks these digits into a solid configuration that may allow a transfer of energy through the thenar eminence to the wrist. To test the hypothesis of a performance advantage, we measured: (1) the forces and rate of change of acceleration (jerk) from maximum effort strikes of subjects striking with a fist and an open hand; (2) the static stiffness of the second metacarpo-phalangeal (MCP) joint in buttressed and unbuttressed fist postures; and (3) static force transfer from digits 2 and 3 to digit 1 also in buttressed and unbuttressed fist postures. We found that peak forces, force impulses and peak jerk did not differ between the closed fist and open palm strikes. However, the structure of the human fist provides buttressing that increases the stiffness of the second MCP joint by fourfold and, as a result of force transfer through the thenar eminence, more than doubles the ability of the proximal phalanges to transmit ‘punching’ force. Thus, the proportions of the human hand provide a performance advantage when striking with a fist. We propose that the derived proportions of hominin hands reflect, in part, sexual selection to improve fighting performance.

While the fist is unique in its ability to transfer force it could have evolved in a variety of ways for effective ability to manipulate.

“… the human hand has also been shaped by the need for manual dexterity. But they say that a number of different hand proportions are compatible with an enhanced ability to manipulate objects.

“There may, however, be only one set of skeletal proportions that allows the hand to function both as a mechanism for precise manipulation and as a club for striking,” the researchers write.

“Ultimately, the evolutionary significance of the human hand may lie in its remarkable ability to serve two seemingly incompatible, but intrinsically human, functions.”

This ability seems unique to humans.

Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos do not generally form fists, and the researchers think they are unable to: when a chimp curls up its fingers it forms a doughnut shape.

It is difficult for us to accept that we may have been so aggressive as an evolving species as to have developed fighting hands.

 Asked whether the idea that aggression may have played a key role in shaping the human body might previously have been unpalatable to researchers, Prof Carrier explained: “I think we’re more in that situation now than we were in the past.

“I think there is a lot of resistance, maybe more so among academics than people in general – resistance to the idea that, at some level humans are by nature aggressive animals. I actually think that attitude, and the people who have tried to make the case that we don’t have a nature – those people have not served us well.

“I think we would be better off if we faced the reality that we have these strong emotions and sometimes they prime us to behave in violent ways. I think if we acknowledged that we’d be better able to prevent violence in future.”

We do get that we compete for mates. Historically, we have hidden women, developed sexual taboos, sanctified coupled relationships, and castigated jealousy. What we don’t want to admit is that humans are naturally aggressive.

Whether it is the Judeo-Christian notion that man was originally perfect in an Eden, the Rousseau followers who believed in a noble savage tainted by modernism (a changing definition), or the New Age idealization of a simple, natural life being free of violence, many desperately wish to believe humans are naturally peaceful until corrupted with pathological ideology, usually the civilization of their time.

Early cultural anthropologists, like Boas and Mead, wished to show aggression was learned, and biased their research to show native peoples were nonaggressive until a culture of power evolved.

For decades anthropologists refused to agree cliff dwellers of the Southwest, Anasazi, built their inaccessible homes for protection from other natives. I often visited these dwellings and it is astounding that so much work could have been invested merely for protection. Surely it was collateral, art, or some sort of nonaggressive reason. Sadly, not. Perhaps like me, others did not want to deal with the concept that we are so aggressive naturally. It makes us feel guilty for our species and it makes us feel less hopeful that we can become peaceful. But of course, what we are naturally capable of we can compensate for with culture, if we recognize the inherent ability first.

Anthropologists also claimed primitive people’s lives were harsh and difficult–brutish, time-consuming existence of scratching out food, shelter, and protection from animals.

Yet, applied anthropologists recreating the material culture of primitive people showed hunter-gatherers spent 2-4 hours a day maintaining their physical lifestyle while we moderns spend 10-12. I participated in some of this and as example 12 people can collect material and build a house for a family in 3 days, they can build a boat in another 2, they can collect enough food for the several weeks in a few days.

A modern metal arrowhead requires tremendous infrastructure and resource but the average Native American can make an obsidian point in 15 minutes; I was able to teach beginners how to make a crude but usable point in 2 hrs. The metal arrowhead lasts longer and production is scalable such that once the infrastructure is in place millions of arrow heads can be made quickly. For a few people massive, industrial infrastructure is not necessary.

Issues of reproduction and production create stress such that it requires more and more time and resource to create what was once more casually available. Unable to control ourselves we soon have to work harder and harder for less and less but for more and more people.

What did primitives do with their time? Talked, gambled, gamed, hung out, and competed for attention, status, and mates. I suppose we could insist that this be included as a resource input requirement but it would be incorrect.

In the movie A Beautiful Mind, the behavioral economist John Nash, rewrites the rules of the game such that males competing for women disperse their efforts. Rather than competing for the most desirous woman they agree to ignore her and woo her friends. More get more women with less resource depleting competition and women don’t feel they need to compete for mate attention. This game replaces fighting.

Long penises, uteral and seminal chemicals, and a host of other tactics all reveal strategies for controlling partner selection. Including a fist. A fist that can both pummel an enemy and fend off others in competition for a mate.

That this offends modern sensibilities is somewhat laudable. Perhaps it will encourage more passivity. But we will still have to deal with increasing population, declining resource, and mate selection.

Jim Newman, bright and well

South Korea Removes Evolution from Textbooks

Post b y Jim Newman


This from NEWSER.

A group opposed to the teaching of evolution has won a major victory in the Deep South—of the Korean peninsula. A creationist group has successfully petitioned South Korean publishers to remove several references to evolution from high school textbooks, Nature reports. The group—set up by the US Institute for Creation Research in the ’80s as Christianity spread across South Korea—says it wants the “error” of evolution removed from textbooks to “correct” students’ view of the world.

Biologists complain that the government did not consult them on the issue, but merely forwarded the group’s petition to publishers. “When something like this comes to fruition, the scientific community can be caught flat-footed,” a director at the National Center for Science Education tells the New York Daily News. “Scientists are not by their nature political.” Polls show that some 40% of South Koreans don’t accept the theory of evolution, about the same proportion as in the US, but much greater than in Canada and in many European countries, io9 notes.

This from Huff

According to, a group called the Society for Textbook Revise mounted an effective petition drive and is claiming credit for the removal of the evolution “error” from student’s textbooks in order to “correct” their understanding of the world.


 Now what’s wild is that liberals bemoan and apologize for colonialism and imperialism and seek multiculturalism while bashing objective measures of morality and culture  but do not complain about international missionary work. Why not stop modern colonialism in the form of missions? I hear well meaning liberals of all ilk provide pious support to parents who say their child is going to do missionary work. What would their reaction be if I said my child was going to bring imperialism to Africa? What if I framed the question correctly? My child is going to pressure indigents to follow Western religion whether they like it or not–oh no I won’t use force but rather psychological support along with material aid. Why is that better than saying we are going to teach children science, math, and psychology?
The current situation in South Korea is because of missionary work in the 1980’s. Not some ancient news of Franciscans or Jesuits but modern era missionary work. We have got to stop this predatorily imposition of religion under the guise of good works and emergency field support. Helping those in aid should not be an excuse to wear flair to convert and then dupe these poor people who are desperate for help by giving them some insane story supporting the religion of the day.
We give way too much latitude to mission work and frankly mission work is the right hand of colonialism. So much so that slaves when they became  free, and then later citizens, clung to the religion of their missionaries like barnacles to wharf wood.
Modern missionary work is nothing more than modern colonialism and western religious imperialism. Multiculturalists who claim desires of neutrality in world cultures display their opposite view when they support the work of missionaries. When you are at soccer, baseball, or football and that mother or dad come up and start to brag about their child going into mission work be sure to state that you hope they are providing the science, math, and social skills necessary to economic and political growth–and not some lame religion that does nothing but sabotage their ability to succeed in the modern world, while emphasizing the supernatural fears of a country by concatenating yet another set of bronze-age, supernatural fears.
That you hope their promulgating religion doesn’t kill that country’s citizens’  ability to participate in the bigger world of international science, technology, and peace.
 Jim Newman, bright and well

Gallop Poll Finds 46% Believe God Did It 10,000 Years Ago

Post by Jim Newman


Gallop has released more depressing news about the antireality view of Americans. If the presidency were chosen based on evolution, Young Earth Creationists would win. I had no idea back in 1970 when I took Jr High School biology and learned about evolution that it was such an issue, and that it would remain such a political issue. Having landed on the moon a short 2 years before, and with Nuclear energy still being tauted as the ultimate source of near free power, and with set theory, game theory, and particle theory racing ahead to practical use it seemed like science had revolutionized the earth like a wild fire. Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, and other Rock Operas seemed to bridge the so called newly named generation gap by combining pop media with traditional values. Beeeeeep, survey says, no. Back to the  middle ages, and beyond, with you! Let’s just get rid of all science and go back to rubbing sticks, chipping flint,brain tanning hides,  and watching the sun circle us!

The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

The following question was asked:

Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,
2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process,
3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.Forty six percent Americans believed in creationism, 32 percent believed in theistic evolution and 15 percent believed in evolution without any divine intervention. As the graph below shows, the percent of Americans who believe in creationism has increased slightly by 2 percent over the last 30 years. The percent of Americans who believe in evolution has also increased by 6 percent over the last 30 years while the percent of Americans who believe in theistic evolution has decreased by 6 percent over the same time period.

What is distressing here is that theistic evolution declined. This choice is the best out for religious people who wish to still embrace god and theology but support science. Instead, there has been a very slight polarizing effect where some have entrenched but, yes, more have said god didn’t do it. 2 % is not a huge difference but it seems like in this Awakening there has been more interest in politicizing religion. But the question is narrow.

Overall, in the last 30 years, there hasn’t been a significant shift in Americans’ belief in creationism or evolution.

Rationality, reason, and science has not had a strong social effect. This country is utterly entrenched in religion. I say we get rid of all of the technology, culture, and social structure enabled by scientific research and shut it down for a week and see how society fares.  I would move but I love the constitution as an international document, my family has strong extended ties, and I am financially advantaged here. Besides someone has to help fix this mess. I was born amidst religious disagreement (parents split because of religion) and I am here to see it through.

Education has an ameliorating effect overall and here at the postgraduate level is where you get the apparently sophisticated argument of theistic evolution–so it takes 8-10 years of advanced education to let god go enough to allow evolution? Good grief evolution should be as interesting as those dinosaurs little kids love to draw.

I watched the Knight’s Tale again for the umpteenth time and while the panacea statement you can change the stars abounds it seems we can’t educate reality. Karl Rove is famous for saying they create reality while we follow it. When his car breaks down I hope the mechanic tells him to create his reality.

Jim Newman, bright and well and


The Dangerous Bullshit of Depaak Chopra

200px-Deepak_Chopra_MSPACI have long hated Deepak Chopra’s works and perhaps him as he should know better but he is not Benny Hinn or David Barton–perhaps Chopra is just an evil, an evil influence but blameless like a cancer virus, hmmm, nawww. And  no hate is not an all embracing cloud of distaste that colors one’s reason. Hating is the amount of distaste or dislike you have towards someone as a measurement of the harm you believe that person projects onto the world. It does’t mean that everything Deepak says is wrong nor does it mean that I hate him for personal reasons that bleeds into my evaluation of him as a thinker–eg, don’t know or care if he is a philanderer as it relates to his thesis on quantum mechanics. I hate David Barton because Barton lies maliciously and intentionally with malice aforethought–the way Barton misquotes is too intentional to consider it to be misreadings or personal misinterpretations.

Sadly I think Chopra is sincere when he says he caused an earthquake by too intensive meditation. I also think he is sincere when he says consciousness is an entity the brain captures. He is also sincere when he applies quantum mechanics to the human body and thinks Westerners are still caught in Newtonian physics. I also think he is sincere in believing revelation and mystical inspiration are the fountainhead of true knowledge. Frankly, the desire echoes some sentiments of Eastern mysticism that were culturally relevant a thousand or more years ago. They just happen to be a different peak on the epistemological landscape. One we should now abandon.

Here is Chopra with Harris and Shermer.

But as the article, see below, says, these are dangerous dogmas that confound people’s minds. When we embrace that all things are one, we lose the need to study, accept, and appreciate differentiation. While it is helpful socially to love another as if we are all one we still need to treat each other as complex individuals with individual tastes and choices that are protected by rights of diversity, tolerance, and minority protection. Frankly I find the diversity, complexity, and uniqueness of instantiation to be what gives vitality to the world. We also need a way to say something needs to be changed.

I took a Senior Seminar, The Philosophy of Physics, from a visiting professor that highlighted the books the Tao of Physics and the Dancing Wu Li Masters. They try to equate western quantum and relativity physics to human endeavors. I struggled with these books because I thought I was supposed to agree with them. I did not.

Now it is clear that these books perniciously confused people into thinking these systems are opposed or relavent. Euclidean and Riemannian geometry both exist while contradicting one another–or so it seems. The one says the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the other says it is a curved line. What is relavant is Euclidean geometry describes short distances where the line is effectively straight. The other describes vast distances affected by gravity which are always curved. We don’t measure the distance to the outer galaxies in inches or millimeters. We don’t evaluate human activity as if we were particles within atomic structure.

Phil Mole at Eskeptic has written a really fine article, “Depaak’s Dangerous Dogmas.” It is a good read and better explains the Depaak bullshit than I can here, right now.

Chopra, by implying that quantum mechanics is the true face of reality, and by exploiting coincidental parallels with mysticism, leads us into shallow logical waters. It’s one thing to say that a theory or philosophy demonstrates previously unknown features of our existence, it’s quite another to say it is the fundamental truth of our existence, and necessitates a paradigm change.

The most dangerous dogma of Depaak’s is his theory that perception changes reality. No, it only changes your perception of reality. It is still out there. The entire point of consciousness is to help differentiate reality so that we can proceed successfully within it. If we could be mindless blind automotons and survive we would.

The bigger mistake is a moral one. While it is helpful to look at different views, essential even, it does not mean that all views are equally interchangeable. The deconstruction statement that all interpretations are misinterpretations does not mean that we abandon interpreting. Just as because there is little or no free will does’t mean we should give up intending. The entire law/theory of evolution is that it determines what works or not, fitness, regardless of what we think it should or should not do–on a scale we have yet to comprehend sensorially.

Chopra tries to get around this issue by saying perception is what really matters. “You can change your world—including your body—simply by changing your perception (17),” he states in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. He makes this transition in terms—from “observation” to “perception,” quite rapidly, as if they meant the same thing. They don’t. Observation pertains to what we see, and perception pertains to our interpretation of what we see. This is an important distinction, because the results of quantum mechanics experiments bear no relation to our ideas, after the fact, of what happened during the experiment. The wave functions are collapsed by the act of taking a measurement itself. Chopra confuses his terminology further in other parts of his books, talking about perceiving when he seems to really be discussing visualizing. His reliance on the Copenhagen Interpretation has now been completely shattered. If we merely visualize what we think will happen in a quantum mechanics experiment, without taking a measurement, we won’t collapse the wave function, and we will play no role in the experiment at all!

Jim Newman, bright and well and

Richard Dawkins Talks with Daniel Dennett at Oxford

Post by Jim Newman


Richard Dawkins has a conversation with Daniel Dennett, May 9, 2012 before an Oxford audience. Starting with the point that Darwin deserves the big prize for doing the heavy lifting of explaining how all biology, physics, and even culture arise. Natural selection even creates human artifacts. Dennett cites Dawkins as the author of the meme for clarifying it as a theoretical prospect as not just a metaphor.

That a fundamental insight is that just as trees are not designed the same is true with many cultural entities that perpetuate themselves without human purpose or intention. Usually human design is differential replication of more or less mindless mutations.

Some say unlike genes memes seem have poor replication accuracy but rather they in fact do. As an example Dennett mentions canoe building in polynesian cultures where though anthropologists lament the lack of construction standards selection itself is quite a strong quality control agent–poor canoes fail.

Languages also seem more fluid in their accuracy, like the phone conversation game, but this is a ruse of bias (how many times has this game been exaggerated to make the point when doing it as an activity) but languages do show a stability and endurance through use. Language is a great vehicle of communication and comprehension– it even works well when imperfectly understood. You don’t have to get a phrase exactly to get it. For example, we can repeat a structured phrase readily but not gibberish. Language has a built-in proofreading capacity.

Jim Newman, bright and well

David Sloan Wilson Lambasts New Atheists as Exceptionally Activist Scientists (EAS)

Post by Jim Newman


David Sloan Wilson through Huff Post is promoting what he calls a “modern version” or the “new kid on the block” (which is it?) of evolution research, Evolutionary Religious Studies (ERS). Why the acronym? Trademark?

There are several puzzling aspects to his article.

He claims:

“atheism is a disbelief in gods”. And “…new atheists are an exceptionally active group…”.

Atheism is not a disbelief in gods. Atheism is the knowledge, certainty, and trust there are no gods; there is insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that there are gods. By using the term disbelief Sloan poorly defines atheism. Atheism is not just another belief. To quote Cristina Rad, I am as sure there are no gods as I am sure there aren’t invisible elves living up my ass; I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there are no elves there. Atheism is the knowledge, certainty, and trust that, due to lack of sufficient evidence, that there are no gods. Unless you wish to support epistemological relativity (no truth), or subjective idealism (no material reality), you’re going to have to admit atheists have knowledge and not belief as best as science can provide.

The Four Horsemen (FH, or Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens) are not exceptionally activist scientists; in the same activist way Sloan and EO Wilson promote their book, “The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time,” they too wish to apply scholarship to public affairs. Einstein and Dr Partho Sarothi Ray were/are exceptionally activist scientists (EAS). Carl Sagan was an EAS. Galileo was an EAS, succumbing to house arrest for years to support his heretical thesis, though he loved the church. Good company these folks.

Shawn Otto in Scientific American’s, “Good Science Always Has Political Ramifications” notes

“Why? Because a scientifically testable claim can be shown to be either most probably true or false, whether the claim is made by a king or a president, a Pope, a Congressperson, or a common citizen.”

The term activist scientist is used pejoratively by conservative groups to beat up climate scientists, who insist they must speak publically because their research is not being accepted.

Sloan asserts the need for a “new” field of study called Evolutionary Religious Studies.

“Evolutionary Religious Studies (ERS) is the scholarly study of religion from an evolutionary perspective.”

Sloan mentions Pascal Boyer, Scott Atran, and himself as the new kids on the block. Yet, he dismisses Dan Dennett (DD or D squared) who famously said in his book that religion should be studied like any other phenomenon and the fact that it isn’t is the problem. Dan famously insists that religion should be taught in public schools.

“It is high time that we subject religion as a global phenomenon to the most intensive multidisciplinary research we can muster calling on the best minds of the planet.”

Indeed, all of the so called activist atheist scientists (AAS or is that EAS?) have asked, demanded, begged, and cajoled for more research, not less. What they contest are current conclusions based on dogma and an incredible lack of credible evidence. What they contest is some obvious stupidity to which people hold dear for what might be politics, ideology, economics, tradition, or some other cognitive biases. But it’s a democracy, go for the Templeton prize, but expect ridicule.

Sloan lists three steps for justifying his “new” field. The first is to accept a personal god as legitimate to research–as if it hadn’t been already, to death. But hey, find the money, get a grant, and have at it. Go for a Templeton prize. But hey try to stay honest.

“They are alike in their rejection of the “actively intervening god” hypothesis. I am choosing my words carefully here. The concept of supernatural agents that actively intervene in the laws of nature and affairs of people is a perfectly good scientific hypothesis that occupied center stage for centuries.”

A PGH (perfectly good hypothesis) is not the issue. Any assertion worded properly is a PGH, I guess. The “world is flat hypothesis”  (WFH) is a PGH but is long proven false. No one is saying to absolutely stop studying miracles, parapsychology, personal agency, or faith healing. What we are all tired of is having to prove the world is not flat over and over and over again, or that god cured, talked, appeared to them, because religion so imbues our culture they refuse to accept any material evidence. We’re tired of people insisting that we believe their nonsense when we need to solve bigger issues than a fetus is a person, to support antiabortion. Victor Stenger has long shown that miracles are physically impossible. Having a baby is not a miracle, nor the feeling that god is talking to you. Both are parsimoniously explained by biology and neuroscience.

James Randi, Joe Nickell, and Tom Flynn have long investigated these claims and continue to do so—in spite of the extraordinary amount of evidence showing it to be false. Tarsky and Kahneman solidified the field of Behavioral Economics and showed how heuristic biases are prevalent. Leon Festinger, back in 1956, detailed how cognitive dissonance affects critical thinking negatively.

Sloan negates methodological naturalism (material reality). But the choice then is to endorse a kind of subjective idealism (material things do not exist), which though championed by George Berkley and FH Bradley a long time ago doesn’t work. Pyrrhonis and skeptical empiricism (no truth and it’s only experiential) are as dead as the idea of ether being space. Can’t we better spend our money elsewhere? We have populations issues, wars, resource shortages and we’re busy proving if there is a personal god or not and whether it had evolutionary utility or is collateral? Right now, here and now, belief in a personal god is killing us because we can’t agree on an epistemology that produces evidence we can all follow to success.

The reason we need to decide on these issues is because bad science, pseudo-science, and nonscience are causing us to make egregious decisions concerning personal liberty, group governance, and resolutions to real-world problems. If I had a shred of evidence that praying to god would solve a worldly problem I’d be on my knees every damned day all day long. Insisting that prayer works, is valid, prevents people from doing what does work. If it were harmless, left as personal, and made private we wouldn’t care so much. When a president prays to god he or she might as well cut up a chicken and rorschach its guts.

Sloan then asserts:

“As a scholarly discipline, ERS is agnostic about what gets done with the knowledge that is created. The New Atheism is oriented toward action.

All scholarly research and all science tries to be objective in spite of the fact that all people have biases, positions, and ideologies. All science leads to action. Every publication is an action. Every hypothesis is an assertion to action. That is the entire point. To find the truth no matter where it be and then use it to make our lives better. The more activist you are in this the better.

Sloan says in step 3.

“Whenever New Atheists make claims about religion as a human phenomenon, their claims should respect the authority of empirical evidence. Insofar as the new discipline of ERS has added to empirical knowledge of religion, the New Atheists should be paying close attention to ERS.

The New Atheists are the source of your “new” field. They are the ones that said let’s study evolution (LSE). Let’s see why or what makes people believe in a god, think the world is flat, or use god and church to help in impulse control. Hell, there are some still trying to get why there is a current Flat Earth Society (FES). It’s a trite truism noted by damn near everyone the obvious motivational benefit of thinking an all-powerful god is on your side—until you are crushed for your incorrect assumption, your delusional optimism, and your poor lack of planning, because your depression, fear of defeat, caused you to choose a quick but less effective remedy.

Hell, exceptionally activist atheists (EAA) noted the horrors of postmodernists pouring water on EO Wilson’s head and claiming there is no DNA while the idiot SJ Gould pugnaciously accommodated the pernicious dual magisteria theory (PDMT) to gain traction in his accolades and prestige. His punctuated evolution was easy fodder for the religious to assert a nonsensical godly intervention. It makes more sense that aliens embedded bacteria to start life than god did it.

You, and your “new” ERS, stand on the shoulders of your predecessors and then shit.

Dan Dennett has repeatedly recommended that people read Pascal Boyer “Religion Explained”.

“religious concepts and activities hijack our cognitive resources.”

And Boyer has supported DD. DD is on your side and you don’t get it.

Even the “scholar” so loved by apologists, like Jonathan Haidt, Emil Durkheim, noted the benefits conveyed by religion would be better done by secular institutions and had explanations not requiring the supernatural. From wiki

In this definition, Durkheim avoids references to supernatural or God.[68] Durkheim argued that the concept of supernatural is relatively new, tied to the development of science and separation of supernatural—that which cannot be rationally explained—from natural, that which can.[69] Thus, according to Durkheim, for early humans, everything was supernatural.[69] Similarly, he points out that religions which give little importance to the concept of god exist, such as Buddhism, where the Four Noble Truths is much more important than any individual deity.[69] With that, Durkheim argues, we are left with the following three concepts: the sacred (the ideas that cannot be properly explained, inspire awe and are considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion), the beliefs and practices (which create highly emotional state—collective effervescence—and invest symbols with sacred importance), and the moral community (a group of people sharing a common moral philosophy).[38][69][70][71] Out of those three concepts, Durkheim focused on the sacred, noting that it is at the very core of a religion.[69] He defined sacred things as:

…simply collective ideals that have fixed themselves on material objects… they are only collective forces hypostasized, that is to say, moral forces; they are made up of the ideas and sentiments awakened in us by the spectacle of society, and not of sensations coming from the physical world.
This is near synonymous with ideology. It is not a special supernatural sacred. Here sacred doesn’t mean religious, or supernatural, but symbolic attribution. We live by ideologies as convenient means to communicate and gather. Durkheim insists that supernaturalism gives way as societies progress. People like DSW want us to regress and ignore the research of the structuralists 150 years ago, yet claim them as support.

Boyer writes:

 As I have pointed out repeatedly the building of religious concepts requires mental systems and capacities that are there anyway, religious concepts or not. Religious morality uses moral intuitions, religious notions of supernatural agents recruit our intuitions about agency in general, and so on. This is why I said that religious concepts are parasitic upon other mental capacities. Our capacities to play music, paint pictures or even make sense of printed ink-patterns on a page are also parasitic in this sense. This means that we can explain how people play music, paint pictures and learn to read by examining how mental capacities are recruited by these activities. The same goes for religion. Because the concepts require all sorts of specific human capacities (an intuitive psychology, a tendency to attend to some counterintuitive concepts, as well as various social mind adaptations), we can explain religion by describing how these various capacities get recruited, how they contribute to the features of religion that we find in so many different cultures. We do not need to assume that there is a special way of functioning that occurs only when processing religious thoughts.

Sloan effaces himself and says he hasn’t nor is he inclined to review all of the New Atheist literature but looks forward to someone doing it. Perhaps he should do more basic reading then. He spends the next few hundred words claiming that New Atheists aren’t doing legitimate science. This is like claiming Einstein wasn’t a legitimate scientist because he had a hard time accepting Quantum theory as the complete picture (imagine Einstein saying god doesn’t play dice), and that he shouldn’t have pleaded not to use the A bomb because that was too activist.

I had some respect for Sloan and his alliance with EO Wilson and particularly some research into group theory but now I wouldn’t trust him if he told me what time it is. Show me the data. I want to see your watch.

Jim Newman, bright and well and