The Burden of Proof Fallacy

The concept of “the burden of proof” is a matter of interpersonal protocol in debate or discussion. In formal contexts, such as courts of law, one side—in criminal cases in the United States, the prosecution—may hold the burden of proof.  Some formal debates also make use of a burden of proof as part of the rules.

A burden of proof fallacy occurs when someone attempts to invoke or assign a burden of proof outside of any agreement or interpersonal protocol.

In such cases, the concept of “the burden of proof” becomes a rhetorical trope that conceals two informal logical fallacies: special pleading and an argument to ignorance. A fallacy of special pleading occurs when one asks or demands (“pleads”) to be exempted from a rule or criterion to which everyone else is held for no relevant reason (or no reason at all).  An argument to ignorance fallacy has the form “my assertion is true until proven false.”

The burden of proof fallacy takes the form of “My position is the default position. My opponent has the burden of proof!” But in asserting that one’s position is “the default position”, one is making an argument to ignorance: this just is equivalent to saying “My position is true until it is proven false.” And the justification for this argument to ignorance is simply special pleading that one be allowed to use an argument to ignorance as if it were valid.

Both combined have the form “My argument is true until proven false, and although this is an argument to ignorance, I am specially pleading that I be allowed to use it, despite its invalidity.”  This sounds more legitimate when it is phrased as “My position is the default position, and my opponent has the burden of proof,” but the meaning is the same.

To attempt to lay the burden of proof solely on one’s opponent, as if one had some sort of metaphysical, moral, or logical right to do so is logically fallacious, intellectually dishonest, and unethical.  Since the burden of proof exists solely as a matter of interpersonal protocol, it cannot be placed upon someone without their consent.

As my readers know, I do not appreciate attempts to obligate me without my consent.  As my readers also know, I block this move by demanding that anyone who asserts that I have “the burden of proof” PROVE IT.  And he will never be able to do so, since the burden of proof is a matter of interpersonal protocol, and not any sort of metaphysical, logical, or ethical principle.  It is exactly the same as someone unilaterally attempting to say that I am bound by a contract I never agreed to or signed, just because he says I am a party to the contract.  He cannot “prove” I signed a contract I never signed.

Or to make an even more obvious analogy, it is like someone claiming that of two parties, one of them can consent for the other person, whether or not he or she agrees to this. This dynamic has the same structure as an accused rapist arguing to be acquitted of rape charges on the grounds that he consented for his victim and therefore there was consent.

No one in their right mind would accept this kind of argument. Consent precisely does not occur when only one of the two parties involve does the “consenting” for both. And it is not any more sound when it involves nonconsensual attempts to morally obligate someone with specious “burdens.”

“Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma”

“Fuck your trauma.” 

chrishernandezauthor

When I joined the Marines, I met a man who had survived a helicopter crash during a training exercise. The first time I saw him his head and face were covered in burn scars. A balloon filled with saline, that looked like a dinosaur’s crest, was implanted in his scalp to stretch the skin so hair could grow. Something that looked exactly like the checkered buttstock of an M16A2 was imprinted on one side of his head. He greeted me when I checked in to my unit, and totally ignored the shocked expression I must have had when he approached. He shook my hand, asked a few questions, then left with a friendly “See you later, PFC.” His demeanor left me with the absurd thought, Maybe he doesn’t know how strange he looks.

He had been assigned to my reserve unit while undergoing treatment at a nearby military burn unit…

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The Earth Does Not Go Around The Sun

I made this meme some time ago, and I’m rather fond of it, so I’m putting it here to start with, because it makes the point that this post is about.

astronomers

Since the time of the Greeks, it was commonly believed that the earth was stationary at the center of the cosmos, with the sun and other planets orbiting the stationary earth. This belief was not insane. There are actually very many good reasons to think it is true, based on experience and phenomenological evidence.

Incidentally, the fact that the earth was “at the center” DID NOT mean that the ancients thought that this made the earth SUPER-IMPORTANT, and that, somehow, Copernicanism wrecked this idea that the earth and humanity was SUPER-IMPORTANT.  Did you ever read Dante’s Divine Comedy? Or at least the Inferno? Do you remember where Satan was? That’s right, the bottom of Hell, the lowest, meanest, place in the cosmos was … the center.

Back on point. Copernicus proposed a theory or a model that the earth went around the sun instead of the sun going around the earth. It wasn’t a very good model, since it had at least as many ad hoc adjustments as Ptolemy’s model, and was actually less predictively accurate. Nonetheless, although most astronomers regarded it as a mere curiosity, a small number of persons, most notably Galileo Galilei (whose Latin name was thus Galileus Galileus—which Kepler found endlessly amusing) decided, for reasons that are not clear, that Copernicanism was ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and started insisting it was, even when, like Galileo, they couldn’t come up with any compelling evidence.

But largely thanks to the work of scientists like Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler (Galileo actually contributed pretty much NOTHING to the debate, other than to get some people so angry and upset that research was probably retarded in some quarters), the astronomical models were improved.  Ironically, by the time of Galileo’s famous trial in 1633, when he was still choosing to die on the hill of an utterly dogmatic Copernicanism, science had already passed him by: serious astronomers were debating between the Tychonic system and the Keplerian system by them. Copernicus was as dead and done as Ptolemy.

Kepler’s elliptical orbits and laws of planetary motion more or less edged out the Tychonic model between 1630 and 1650.  If we are really generous and pick the 1630 date, then we can rightly say that people believed that the earth orbited the sun between 1630 and 1687, or 57 years.  Not quite as long as the 2000 years of believing the sun went around the earth, nor the 1400 or so years of the Ptolemaic system.

What happened it 1687, you ask? Isaac Newton, natural philosopher, published his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principe Mathematica (the Principia for short), in which he conclusively demonstrated that the earth and the sun orbit ONE ANOTHER, or more specifically, they both orbit their common center of gravity, which is a point actually located inside the sun, given its much greater mass than the earth.

Of course the planetary motions are much more complicated than this, since the other planets also have mass and therefore affect both the sun and the earth, and for that matter, EVERY SINGLE BODY IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE WITH MASS affects both the earth and the sun.  Nevertheless, THE POINT HERE is that NEITHER “the sun orbits the earth” NOR “the earth orbits the sun” is an entirely accurate statement.

STOP SAYING THIS AS IF IT WERE TRUE.  WE’VE KNOWN IT ISN’T SINCE 1687!

You might say, well, Eve, fair enough, it’s not STRICTLY TRUE that the earth orbits the sun, but it’s kind of true, because the effects of the other planets aren’t that great, and the effects of all the other massive bodies are so slight they can be discounted, and the common center of mass of the sun and the earth is inside the sun, which means that the combined effects of everything means that the earth goes around a moving point that is usually or always inside the sun, so isn’t it at least KIND OF TRUE that the earth orbits the sun?

Actually, no.

Newtonian motion, complex as it is, requires there be ABSOLUTE MOTION against the background of ABSOLUTE SPACE and ABSOLUTE TIME.  This was already being highly questioned in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until Einstein’s theories of special and then general relativity were produced that the notion was throughly killed to death.

Motion always occurs RELATIVE TO a given frame of reference.  That is what RELATIVITY means.  And there JUST IS NO ABSOLUTE, ONE TRUE FRAME OF REFERENCE.  You can use any point you like. The choice of an inertial frame of reference really depends on what you are trying to do, and it will be a choice made, by and large, to make your math easier.

If you want to, you can pick the center of mass of the earth as your frame of reference. In which case, within this frame of reference, all motion in the universe DOES, in fact, move around or is relative to the center of the earth, which is stationary.

If you want to you can pick the center of mass of the sun as your frame of reference. In which case, within that frame of reference, all motion in the universe DOES, in fact, move around or is relative to the center of the sun, which is stationary.

Or you can pick the Omphalos at Delphi, thought to be the center of the world by the ancient Greeks.

Or your belly button.

Or my cat.

Or Alpha Centauri.

Or literally ANYWHERE. ANY POINT IN SPACE ANYWHERE.

So, just to put a fricking stake in the heart of the vampire meme: THE EARTH DOES NOT GO AROUND THE SUN IN ANY ABSOLUTE SENSE.  YOU CAN SAY IT DOES, BUT ONLY BY PICKING AN ARBITRARY FRAME OF REFERENCE AND ANYONE ELSE CAN PICK A DIFFERENT FRAME OF REFERENCE AND SAY IT DOESN’T GO AROUND THE SUN AND YOU’LL BOTH BE EQUALLY RIGHT AND WRONG, RELATIVISTICALLY.

Goddamnit.

To end, here’s a meme, which explains why atheists shouldn’t even be talking about this:

gaiahelios

Eve Thug Life

It’s my blog, so I’ll do what I wanna! Besides, this was fun to make.

As Ben Shapiro says “I don’t choose the thug life. The thug life chose me.”

evethuglife

Footnotes, for any who care that much:

  1. “Deal with it” digital shades. De rigueur for the thug life.
  2. A fat blunt. Also de rigueur.
  3. An Orthodox cross earring, because I’m an Orthodox Christian.
  4. A pro-Brexit badge, because I was and am very pro-Brexit, even though I’m a Yank.
  5. A puppies badge, because the PC corruption of the Hugo Awards disgusts me, and I totally support Larry Correia’s efforts to reform it and/or Vox Day’s efforts to BURN THE WHOLE CORRUPT HOUSE DOWN TO THE GROUND. I don’t care which puppies win, so long as it’s some puppies.
  6. A GamerGate dualshock controller. Because I’m a gamer and a GamerGater. Remember: “#GamerGate: the hashtag that destroyed feminism.” In all seriousness, I was and am very proud to have taken part in GamerGate, and I honestly think GamerGate may very well have been the point where the historical tide turned against the authoritarian left. I really believe that GamerGate made such things as Brexit and President Trump possible.
  7. A copy of Plato’s Republic.  This may be the best book. Period.  Just the best. Plato set out to overthrow the Greek reliance on Homer as their basic teacher by writing a book that would OUTDO both the Iliad and the Odyssey put together.  AND HE WON! The madman did it! Holy shit, how could you not love this book? I don’t think Christianity would have been possible if Plato hadn’t turned the entire Greek understanding of the world upside down.  Even Nietzsche says as much: “Christianity is Platonism for the People.” [NOTE: I don’t count the Bible as “a book”; it’s actual name is τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια, “the holy books.”  Books, plural. The Bible is a library, not a book.]
  8. A bunch of red pills spilling out all over the place. ‘Cause I’ve had a bunch and, like Morpheus, I’m a red pill pusher.
  9. A can of Tactical Bacon. Because bacon makes everything better, including bacon. Why wouldn’t we weaponize it?
  10. Doritos and Coke, because they are my bread and wine.
  11. The golden apple of Ἔρις:  καλλίστῃeris_by_istarwyn
  12. The golden scroll stands for philosophy.  The two big letters are from Boethius, using an image from Aristotle, which divides philosophy into theoretical philosophy, θεωρία, represented by the Θ, which is placed high, and practical philosophy, πρᾶξις, which is more down to earth, and represented by the π.  The ΦΔ is literally Ph.D., so this is my basically showing you my Ph.D. diploma without doxxing myself.
  13. Icons of Christ and Mary Magdalene. One very traditional and one somewhat untraditional.  Like me. And again, because I’m Orthodox, and I can’t imagine life without icons at this point.
  14. The Fallout symbol with Vault Girl giving a thumbs up.  Because I’m a Fallout girl. The amount of hours I’ve put into Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and now Fallout 4 is sick.

“Where is the Lord?”

Prayer LXXIX of Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich from Prayers by the Lake (partial):

Like a good host, the Lord sets His table and awaits His guests. The Lord listens attentively for knocking, and is quick to open the door to every guest.  Around His table are clustered undreamed-of mansions; at His table are many seats. Whoever strikes His door and knocks, will not be turned away, and yet you say: “Why did the Lord not open when we knocked?” Because you knocked at the door of the Lord with doubt, but at the door of the world with faith.

The Lord stands at the door of your soul with a broom, ready, at your invitation, to clean the horrendous filth out of your soul, to make your newly-cleaned soul fragrant with incense and fragrance, and to adorn her with virginal jewelry—the Lord is standing and waining for your invitation.

At the edge of your heart the Lord is standing with a tall candle that burns without smoking or melting. The Lord is standing and waiting at your invitation, to bring the candle into your heart and enlighten it, to burn up all the fear in your heart, all its selfish passions, and all its ugly desires, and to drive out of your heart all the smoke and foul stench.

At the edge of your mind the Lord is standing with His wisdom and with His tongue, ready, at your invitation, to enter into it and drive out all its foolish thoughts, all its filthy fancies, and all its mistaken notions, and to erase from your mind all nonexistent images—the Lord is standing and waiting introduce His reason, His seals, and His words.

Yet you say: “Where is the Lord?” At the edge of your life. Therefore your life has become hunchbacked. If the Lord were in the center, where He was in the beginning and where His rightful place is, your life would be upright and you would see the Lord, and you not be asking “Where is the Lord?”

You have become bad, therefore you ask: “Where is the Lord?”

The Lord is too good, therefore the bad do not recognize Him.

The Lord is too translucent, therefore the dusty do not see Him.

The Lord is too holy, therefore the unholy do not perceived Him.

If there are not enough people, who will confess the name of the Lord, the Lord will manifest Himself through objects.

If even the stars of heaven forget the name of the Lord, it will not be forgotten by the countless hosts of angels in heaven.

The weaker the confession of the Lord’s name in one realm, the stronger it is in another. Neither can the uttering of the name of God be decreased, nor can it be increased. If one brook dries up, another will begin to rise, and thus—the sea maintains the same level.

The Unbelievers

Prayer LXXXII of Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich from his Prayers by the Lake.

The unbelievers have girded for war against the Lord of heaven and earth—like dry leaves against the mountain wind! As long as the wind is soundless, one hears the rustling of the leaves. But once the wind begins to howl, it will scatter the leaves over the marshes and roadways, and left there, leaf upon leaf, they will perish like rumors and will be blinded with mud.

For an unbeliever feels strong in a crowd and makes noise. In solitude fear and weakness devour him. But when a believer is in a crowd, he shares the weakness of the crowd., while in solitude he shares power with You; therefore, solitude is his strength and his song.

Against whom do you wage war, you lunatics? Is it against the One who kindles suns with His thought, and goads His flocks of suns and stars with His staff? Truly, it would be a less ridiculous war for the willows to declare war on the thunder, or for the loach fish to carry out a war against the awesome condors.

You have forged weapons, with which you crush one another, and so you have risen up to battle against Him with the same weaponry. But behold, He can walk over your swords like soft moss. Nor is He intimidated by your fortresses, any more than He is by your graves.

You have concocted petty words, with which you insult and humiliate one another, and so you think that with your petty words you will humiliate the One who alone knows what a word is and whence it comes? Indeed, He created your vocal cords in your throat, and expanded your lungs beneath these cords, and cut open your mouth and attached your tongue to your mouth. Truly, it would be less ridiculous for a shepherd’s flute in a shop to rebel against its master craftsman, or for the strings on a harp to rebel against the hand that plucks them.

You have declared war not against God but against yourselves, and God watches your suicide with compassion. Dry leaves are declaring war on wheels of iron!

The more seriously you war against Him, the more unimpededly is He drawn out of you.  The Lord withdraws His strength out of you, as well as His beauty, His health, His wisdom, and His blessedness. This is the way the Most High Lord wars with His adversaries.

What remains of you, embattled battlers, once the Lord has drawn out from you what is His? Does anything remain other than weakness, ugliness, sickness, madness and wretchedness? The Lord will not take from you anything of what is yours. And what is yours is weakness. And once He takes away His power, which you are abusing, He will leave you with your own sepulchral weakness, which can be neither used nor abused.

The Lord will pull His health out of you, and your blood will be transformed into sweat, and your odor will be pleasing to worms, an odor that will cause cities to close their gates.

The Lord will return His wisdom to Himself, and in your madness you will run through the groves and quarrel with caves.

The Lord will retract His blessedness and His peace to Himself, and even the springs will be frightened by your anxiety and flee; and the vines in the hills will wither from your wretchedness, and the earth in the fields will return its fertility back to the earth.

This is the way the Most High Lord wars with His adversaries.

Like a child, He is powerless to do evil. He does not return evil for evil, for He is destitute when it comes to evil. Instead He merely gathers His good gifts and walks off with them, away from the one who gnashes his teeth at Him. And the Lord leaves the unbelievers to be by themselves. And they disintegrate like worm-eaten wood, from which the moisture has evaporated and throughout which worms wend their way for food, as through a deserted home.

Thus does it happen with a people, who declares war on the Life-Giver.

I have told my people—remember: such is the victory of the Life-Giver, and such is the defeat of the Godless.