Category Archives: skepticism

Real or Not?


It is really easy to dismiss anything we cannot see. It’s something we as humans do often, whether we realise it or not. As an atheist, one of my biggest reasons for not believing in any gods is that I can’t see them. But that alone isn’t enough. I also can’t sense them in any other way. No piece of equipment will allow me to sense a god. But what about the things we can sense with the help of technology? Mental illnesses and developmental disabilities are often dismissed because we can’t see them. At least, we can’t see them without the help of technology or other processes. Those of us who live with the issues notice them. We can see them in the way that others respond to things that are so normal to most people yet so strange to us. But the average person seems blind to the things that are so obvious to me.

Take ADHD for example: so many people argue that ADHD isn’t real. That it’s just adults not letting kids be kids. This is probably true in some cases. Many adults do seem to be under the impression that children are to be sen and not heard. But that doesn’t mean that ADHD doesn’t exist. I wasn’t even diagnosed until shortly after my 27th birthday. But I can see, and have always seen, how my hyper-activity level is higher than most. Anybody who has seen someone with ADHD knows how their behaviour is different from most. The problem is, the average person doesn’t know what they are seeing. I’m hyper-active, but not all people with ADHD are. For those who are interested in learning more about ADHD, here is a great link that lists the common symptoms: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-symptoms.

For me, I’m pretty stereotypical as far as ADHD goes. Like I said, I’m hyper-active. I struggle to sit still for long periods of time, I like to move, heck, I still like to climb things. I pretty much have the activity level of the average 10 year old rather than someone who is nearly middle age. I also struggle to pay attention and often lose focus and daydream. Basically, the “Squirrel!” joke is aimed at people with my type of ADHD. But I still didn’t even consider ADHD as a possibility until about a year ago. I knew three boys with different types and degrees of ADHD. Two of them were a lot like me. But they were boys. I may be genderqueer, but most people still read me as a girl (or a woman depending on how proper they want to be). To most people, that means I can’t have ADHD, or, at least, I have a low chance of having it. It didn’t matter that my teacher saw how I behaved next to the kid that already had the ADHD diagnosis. It didn’t matter that I struggled to sit still and pay attention. It didn’t matter that all of my books were covered in doodles and I spent more time looking out the window than at the board. I was a girl. Girls can’t have ADHD. So I never considered it for myself. After all, if I had ADHD, wouldn’t somebody have noticed?

But people don’t notice. I had to be the one to pay attention, because I was the one who was struggling. I had to notice that my anxiety didn’t seem to fit the patterns of anxiety of those around me. I’m socially awkward, but don’t have the symptoms of social anxiety. I had to be the one who thought that may mean autism. Even my doctor and therapist thought I must “just” have social anxiety. It didn’t matter that my “social anxiety” didn’t fit with how social anxiety tends to work. I don’t like being surrounded by people, I get uncomfortable, but I don’t seem to feel the need to socialize that people with social anxiety tend to feel. I don’t desire human company very often. In fact, I rarely ever think about it. But nobody took notice of that. They labelled me as shy without noticing my lack of interest. They also tend not to notice the actual symptoms of my anxiety. They don’t notice when I shut down. They don’t notice when the noise gets too much. They assume I’m just quiet or disinterested, they assume I’m being rude. In short, they ignored the symptoms in order to see what they wanted to see. And that makes it so much easier to deny the existence of something a person doesn’t experience themself. They can just say I’m rude or lazy, or simply shy, rather than accepting what I struggle with.

All of the things that nobody saw drive me towards wanting to teach. It is so difficult for kids to describe what is bothering them. They throw fits because they don’t necessarily have the words to describe how they feel. But adults often just assume that the fits are a result of a lack of discipline or from the child being spoiled. They tend not to consider other factors. I don’t know how good a teacher I’ll be. I certainly don’t fit the type of person who goes into teaching. But I want to see what others won’t bother looking for. I want to prevent kids from falling through the cracks like I did. Because life is much easier when you can identify the things you struggle with. Once you can identify those things, it becomes possible to find ways to cope, however that tends to look for that person.


How to Homeschool While Secular


One thing I’ve noticed since becoming interested in Homeschooling is that there really aren’t a lot of options available for non-Christian Homeschoolers. The pre-set curricula is all very Christian focused. Most science curricula are written by Creationists, the logic and philosophy that’s offered has an obvious Christian bias. History is from a Christian perspective. Even math is Christian! But what about the rest of us? English is easy: read books that fit your own lifestyle best. It’s also possible to buy workbooks that fit state/provincial standards. But that means fitting your child’s curriculum with the government curriculum. This doesn’t work for everyone.

This issue has given me two questions for everyone out their:

  1. For those secular homeschoolers out there, how have you dealt with this issue?
  2. We lack a child to homeschool now, but is there any interest in Withteeth and I doing a How-to series in secular homeschooling as we homeschool?

Local Poltics in Alberta Canada: A responce to a post on Bill 6.


This is a response directed at natashamintram that I’ve put together for the benefit of a friend and besides it caught my interest.

natashamintram’s full article can be found here.

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“Their roots go deep. It is so sad to see what’s happening to Alberta’s agricultural history: a major part of our thriving economy. Historically, the government has used the divide between urban and rural Alberta to its advantage by “pleasing” either one or the other. This isn’t right: the government must work with both to bring unity, not division.”

Alright I go a clear idea on where the author stands on this issue, but one question. Which Government are you talking about? people reading this article are likely going to assume you mean the current Alberta NDP, however you haven’t actually been clear enough for me to say one way or another.

“Bill 6 is a combined bill, which means it amends more than one bill. It will affect the Workers’ Compensation Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code for the Agricultural industry.”

Yes and it sound like you’d need to make adjustment in all those area to affect the work place protections that the current government has said they want to do.

“This bill infringes upon the rights and freedoms of farmers and ranchers to work their land. As Bill 6 is written, it will remove most farming and ranching activities from their current exempted status.”

Without a lot context this sound less like “rights” and more like “privileges” but yes if your take away someone’s exempt status they are probably going to argue they will lose their right to something, but that alone it’s terribly concerning. Not too long ago men lost the right to beat and rape their wives and people complained about that too, the question I have is? Are these privileges ones we ought to fight for as a society, or at they simply protecting a few while allowing for some sort of exploitation.

(by the way thank you for using citation I do appreciate it)

For your second citation it doesn’t seem that you’ve really offer much proof that the government hasn’t been contacting experts, or farmers, but I will take your word for it on the farmer at least. That’s problematic is the NDP are not following through on their promise I agree.

“As the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act are currently written, these measures will both take effect on January 1st, 2016. This is an inadequate amount of time to prepare for such drastic changes.”

Fair enough hopefully a good deal of leeway will be given over the next year or two, so that this will not be an issue.

“What about the farms and ranches that hire seasonal workers who aren’t family members? Now, due to that fact alone, Occupational Health and Safety will have complete jurisdiction over their operations, and they will have to make some serious decisions.”

 

“These farms and ranches will have to be brought up to OH&S standards, a process costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, which will be nearly impossible for small farms and ranches to afford.”

Really a small ranch or farm? can’t afford hundred or even thousands of dollars? No I understand that your typical farmer is not rolling in money, but if the costs are really only in the range of hundrends or thousands of dollars then there are likely enough financing options to pay for those changes. Now if the costs are a good deal higher then I have a question. does that make safety standards overkill, or does that mean that farms are ramshackle death traps? I’ve been to my fair share of farms over the years and some look like they won’t have an issue meeting most standards while others are in fact ramshackle deathtraps.

“Many times they have small profit margins and sometimes no profit at all.”

Yep and if that’s the case they like most business that teeter on a fine edge will eventually fail, this could be the catalyst for some that’s unfortunate, but that’s the capitalistic society we live in. Now I’m all for arguing if this is wrong on some moral level, but given how our society function do these small barely profitable farms and ranches actually bring significant value to society? Will the these changes causer enough fallout to warrant legitimate concern? I don’t know, but maybe you do and I’d like to hear what you have to say if you do.

“Currently, as the law is written, an OH&S Officer can enter the premises without notice or a warrant to search and seize anything that they deem in violation of the regulations, at any time of the day. This includes farmers’ and ranchers’ homes because they have their office inside which would be considered a worksite. If a farmer or rancher is non-compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, they’re subject to many penalties, and fines up to $500,000 or imprisonment.”

Yep regulation sucks, but if they can’t search business spaces then some farmers will undoubtedly hide questionable or illegal activates in their homes to prevent detection. Not all farmers by any means, but business is business and anyone who has lived in a rural community in Alberta knows there is no shortage of people who will go to great length if they think “they can screw the man.” It probably means in the long run there be more out building on farms, or extensions to preexisting homes, and for the first while there will be inconveniences. Though for routine inspection I doubt most OHS officers are not going to abuse their powers or try to make enemies with farmers, I’m such some will, but they will in turn end up suffering for it.

“WCB is being forced on farmers and ranchers, taking away their freedom of choice when most already have their own 24/7 private insurance with superior rates and benefits. Don’t you think they should have a few options to choose from when it comes to workplace insurance? To ensure the companies stay competitive so they can choose the best coverage possible? WCB will have complete control over how they provide coverage to the Agricultural Industry, without any competition. How would you like to have one sole provider of health insurance, auto insurance or home insurance?”

This is interesting do you have any more information on exactly what kinds of options farmers will and will not have?

 

“Farmers and ranchers already take safety precautions on their farms. The problem is that this bill moves way beyond “enhancing safety”4.”

Explain?

“Any person at any job can refuse unsafe work. We are free to choose where we work, who we work for and say no to something that could put us in a dangerous situation.”

Sadly the real world is not that simple, sometime people cannot refuse work because they can’t afford to be fired, and some time people won’t recognize the extent of the danger they might face. They reson why we have worker protections is to help counter balance for the imbalances of power that can occur which typically favor the employer.

“If it had truly only ever been about improving farm and ranch worker’s safety, there would never have been these major pieces of legislation. The appropriate way for the government to have addressed this would have been to document consultations, prepare proposals to farmers and ranchers, and begin improving safety programs through the farm safety programs that are already available.5

None of that really follows from what you’ve presented thus far. Farmer are people, some a good some a bad, and that means some farmer will ignore safety program and mistreat employees (to various levels) if they are able to. If you rules don’t have teeth they are only guideline and can’t be enforced. And if you can’t enforce there’s a risk that undue harm can be done with no recourse available to those harmed.

“There never would have been such a huge uproar like what you’ve seen in the media, or in person these past few weeks.”

Uproar can be manufactured or misplaced and often is, I’m interested in the facts as they are currently available not in how people feel about it as that is already quite clear.

“This didn’t happen over “safety precautions,” it happened because this bill threatens their entire livelihood. This is not an exaggeration.”

I happen to question both of those sentences, so far you haven’t really given a compelling case that peoples likely hood are a risk, only that people won’t like the changes. Which in all fairness is certainly true. People don’t like change, and people really don’t like change if has a chance of affecting the bottom line negatively. Though so far you have not offer a proper case for this risk, but have only asserted it.

I want to understand your real concerns what prevision are going to cause things to really hurt for farms. The only one so far that seem to have merit is the issue surrounding enforced WCB. And even then how is that actually going affect farmers how much will they have to put into those programs? And why should they be except in the first place?

” Here is a great analogy that was shared on the Facebook group: “I asked how my urban friends, many of whom live in beautiful but older houses, would feel if the Government passed legislation requiring all homeowners to have their houses brought up to 2016 Building Codes by January 1, 2016, or risk fines of up to $500,000?”

Okay so again lets clear this up does the government actually expect farmers to meet all the requirement by Jan 1st? I highly doubt it, and I and quite sure they couldn’t enforce it even if they where insane enough to try. In addition companies typically get warnings long before any fines are handed out so why would we expect the Albertan government to hand out fines starting Jan 1st? I don’t think we would, analogies can be useful, but I think here you’re leaping to the worse possible scenario without giving any reason too. I don’t think further fear mongering is useful in already tense situation, and weather you indented it or not I think that’s what happening in this paragraph.

That said I do think there will be adjustment period and that means some people with have to change how they are doing things, but I remain unconvinced that many even older farmers will be hurt by this. That said however I am still happy to be swayed if you can convince me that harm is a real possibility.

” Farmers and ranchers didn’t give the government a blank cheque to sign – the government did it themselves, and robbed the former of their entire livelihood.”

Uhmm that is quite the leap. It is not like the government has taken away farmers property rights or something equally crazy. Also do remember this is a democracy you do have some say, and if the NDP do royal mess this up then you, me, and everyone else will have to vote a new party in, but I honestly do not buy the constant fear monger that the NDP are going to destroy the province, they really isn’t evidence for it. The only real problem the NDP have is that people only like to vote them in when shit has already hit the fan and they need someone new to clean up the mess, and people get upset that they can’t magically fix everything over night. And do political parties NDP included make mistakes, yep, but as humans what do you expect?

Again fear mongering, a good tactic for getting people riled up, but it isn’t going to convince me that your right, only that you’re afraid or at least want other to be afraid.

” Farmers, ranchers and workers aren’t benefiting from these new legislation – the government is. It’s not that Alberta was the last province to have “safety and basic protection rights” for farm and ranch workers, it was the last province that the government didn’t control.”

really to me is should like it’s going to cost both money, and time, I think the legislation is there to help unrelated employees and give them protections already afforded to employees in other industries. You continued to talk about how this will affect famers, but so far you’ve paid next to no attention to paid employees. That’s why I I think you’ve allowed your biases to blind you to the third party in all this.

” How is that creating job growth? Not to mention all the oil field workers who have been laid off.”

That has literally nothing to do with Notley fun fast the middle east controls the price of oil and Saudi Arabia is paying for a war at the moment and is selling oil cheap to pay for it. That and the oilfield are a boom and bust to begin with that just the reality of having an economy base on oil, and they only people who can be blamed for that are the PC’s.

——

 

The rest of the article is made of excepts about concerns and fear from other farmers and ranchers, I think there are some legitimate concerns in there, but I don’t not have any expertise in many complex issues which, so in conclusion it may be very true that this legislation is being pulled through the house far too quickly, and I’m sure that the full extent of the bill has yet to be determined. I think I will discuss this topic with my local MP and see what he has to say about it, but otherwise I think I don’t enough working though the issues I have with this article and why I think we still have way more question then answers.

Thanks to natashamintram for taking the time to write there article and I hope they don’t take this as any sort of personal attack, and it is intended only as a critique. additionally I do not expect a response, but would be happy to receive one if that ever where to suit natashamintram‘s fancy.

 


Logical Fallacies: Some links to help use overcome our greatest obstacle. Ourselves.


While Hessian continues to write posts on a variety of different arguments she comes across it’s imporant to once again remind everyone about those terrors of logic we all must contend with. Logical Fallicies.

Humans are not naturally include to be rational. We mostly make use of heuristics in our thinking rather then pure logical rationals. A heuristic, in the sense I’m using it here, is a cognitive short cut use to solve problems. These can take forms of, rules of thumb, educated guesses, a “common” sense statement or rule. Heuristics have there place due to them often be relatively accurate compared to guessing at random, but exceedingly fast when compared to a formal system of logic. This optimization towards speed is where the problem lies. When using heuristics we are bound to make mistakes, and while we might generally be able to use heuristic effectively, when we get into difficult cases they often send us spiraling into logical dead ends or mistakenly lead on a wild goose chases. This dependance and affinity towards heuristics is largely why we make logical fallacies, and why understanding them, and logic in general, is so important.

I shall focus on a couple key fallacies which I have been seeing regularly in the comments, as well posting links to useful sources to learn more about fallacies.

The Argument from ignorance: This has been the fallacy I’ve been noticing on this blog lately so I think it is the one fallacy that need to be addressed. The basics of this fallacious argument goes as follow. I don’t know what x is, or how x works, because of that it must be y, or is being done by z. This is exemplified when someone claims an unidentified object in the sky must have been a alien craft, when in fact they have no idea what the UFO was.

The most common form I’ve seen of the argument from ignorance in general is the argument for a deity due to the complexity of life. That argument can usually be condensed as follows.

I look at this flower or at the movements of this majestic animal, and I just know (my) God must exist. Now this can break down in to the following formal argument*.

P1: Living organisms are extremely complex.

P2: The Extreme complexity of life can not be explained by natural means.

P3: The only thing which can bring about things unnaturally is my deity.

C: Living organism were brought about by my deity.

*To be clear this does not represent all arguments of this type, there are others, and some are stronger, but as I will mention later on. This is the formalized version of arguments I have regularly encountered.

Funny enough this has several of the fallacies I wish to discuss. Like you might imagine is this an argument from ignorance because the second premise generally come from ideas such as. “I couldn’t imagine such complexity with out it coming from god,” or “It make no sense for complexity to come from “nothing”.” Because they do not know the answer they assume that their deity (and not some other deity) must have done it. Even though they have no idea why life is as complex as it is they appeal to their ignorance and just assume it must have been their god. Which bring us to the second fallacy.

Begging the question: Begging the question is when you assume the conclusion in to the premises instead of deriving, or in the case of induction, supporting the conclusion with premises.

In the example above the argument just assume that this person’s god exists and it could only be their god that did it. This may seem like I’m making a strawman of my opponent, but I have illegitimately ran into this argument dozens of times, over and over again. They have sew the success for there argument into the premises in a way which is whole unsupported. So while if you grant the premises the argument works, but why would you grant this premises to anyone? Would you let a person of a different faith claim it was their god(s) who made all life and that their god(s) exists? If not, and your trying to use this argument, then your making the fallacy of special pleading.

Though in simplest terms begging the question is a kind of circular reasoning where in you guarantee the conclusion with out adequately justifying those premises which give that guarantee.

Black and white fallacy: Also know as a false dilemma. This goes hand in hand with what I’ve already be writing.  This is where you argue that there are only two options when in fact there are many. The above argument does not technically make a black and while fallacy, but it is an easy fallacy to explain. “Your with us or against us!” A common use of the black and white fallacy. People often try to limit the options to them verse us, good verse bad. Except it’s rare where you a trapped with a true dichotomy. In the common case of “Your with us or against us!” it is often the case that a person is neither. I could be with you or against you, but I could be against both parties, or have a mix of positions from both, or only like some of the argument from one! Suddenly I tuned a situation from 2 limited options to 5 much open positions.

This reminds me of a joke I some times tell amongst other feminist “All Dichotomies are false Dichotomies! Even this one!”

The final fallacy is one that is rampant through out the internet and that’s the  good old Ad hominium. I won’t spend too much time on this one, but but a common mistake people make is think that an Ad hominium is just an insult. An Ad hominium is when you call into question a trait, action, or belief of a person which has nothing to do with the argument at hand. Then the one making the Ad hominium use that perceived flaw as a counter argument to their claim. Even though that character flaw has not bearing on the argument in question!

What isn’t an Ad hominium is when you call into question a trait which does relate to the argument at hand. Perhaps your arguing against a known lair. When the known lair makes an unsupported claim you can call into question their honesty without committing an Ad hominium. However, if they then substantiate their claim to an acceptable level. Then you can no longer use their dishonesty as an argument, without making the Ad hominium fallacy, until they again make a claim that they could again be reasonably be lying about.

Before we get into the links it is important to reiterate that there a several names for the some fallacies. For example The Black and white Fallacy is the same basic idea as the false dilemma fallacy, and the Argument from ignorance is also called an appeal to ignorance.

The first link I’d like to share is “The Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” It’s cute and that probably why I’m linking to it first. I don’t like all of the examples, but it does the job of running through a good number of logical fallacies in a memorable manner.

https://bookofbadarguments.com/

Next is a link to the poster “thou shalt not commit logical fallacies!” It’s a fun one with an interactive poster on the website. It’s also where I got two of the images for this post.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

And finally for those of you whom are include to watch you tube videos here is a playlist by PBS idea channel about logical fallacies.

I suggest looking into more on logical fallacy if you get through all of those, but the above links are an excellent starting place.

Edit: Here is another link provided by clubschadenfreude

It gives a few more special cases not discussed in the other links as well as more examples.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/


Reply to sirratiocination, a romp through philosophy.


morality-quotes-3

This is a reply to the post made by sirratiocination on his blog who in turn made a response post upon my request to move thing into post format.

http://sirratiocination.wordpress.com/

http://sirratiocination.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/response-to-httpshessianwithteeth-wordpress-com20141210its-time-to-change-something-other-than-the-design-about-ethical-models/

Now for the purposes of keeping things manageable I will not be responding to every point, but focusing on problematic and interesting sections, as well as asking clarifications as needed. All comments and quires will be directed at sirratiocination after this introduction, though the comments are open as always.

I’ll be using his numbering system to reference to his responses (not my own, so if I say in paragraph [10] I’m referring to those paragraphs which focus on [10]) as well as leaving bracketed letter and number [A#] at the beginning of my section to make responses, and following along easier. I invite sirratiocination to join along in this behavior.

Let’s begin.

[A1] So in your first reference to [1] and you later reference in [7] your discussing nihilism for the sake of clarity I’ll define how I use nihilism. In General and without clarification I think of Metaphysical Nihilism, or the belief that no objects need to actually exist. The strong form of that would be no objects exist and the weak form would be that objects do not necessarily have to exist, and it is the case that objects may not exist. I fall in the weak camp. I think objects exist, but I also don’t fully reject the possibility that objects might not exist at all. Though I do think the belief that they don’t exist is a dead and should be rejected unless conclusive evidence can be ascertained that in fact objects, or things like objects are an illusion (I’d classify field theory as fitting in objects class or the object like class). Though I’d also call my belief more a mild metaphysical skepticism, then nihilism, though that is likely do to with the extreme conclusions nihilist have drawn. what you call nihilism I think of as the strong form of nihilism.

I am also use to seeing nihilism used in the terms of epistemological nihilism which is comparable to extreme philosophical skepticism where in all knowledge claims are denied.

In your arguments you seem to be discussing both moral nihilism, and the general idea of nihilism that is the rejection of non-rationalized or unproven assertions. This may change how you view the nature of our discussion to some degree.

[A2] for your paragraphs addressing [2], [3] and [5] I suppose another locus of our differences of opinion is that I remain largely unconcerned with ultimate causes for morality. That I’m not convinced, in the case of morality that there needs to be any ultimate or root cause, at least not a particularly meaningful or useful one, nor am I convinced this problem leads to an infinite chain.

Though that requires explanation so I’ll try to do that right away. Though to do that I will also need to better explain why I don’t think it’s is necessarily the case that a teleological explanation is needed to explain another teleological explanation even in the case of morality.

First and most importantly, teleological explanations only seem particularly useful in explaining and defining the activities of sentient actors, and for this argument sentient just means that creature has that ability to directly influence future of non-immediate events in some sort of intentional manner. This will include a lot of critter we wouldn’t normally consider sentient, but I don’t think we’ll be worse off for that since we don’t need to use that definition outside this argument.

First lets examine the teleological explication for a sword, we are clearly inclined to think about the process of making a sword in a teleological manner. The process of refining ore to ingots, and turning those ingots into a blade before, tempering said blade and attaching it to a hilt. There are many key components which need to come together to form that sword which wouldn’t make much sense outside of a teleological frame work. Whole systems need to be in place to make that sword, from the iron mine, to the smeltery, to the blacksmith and their forge and hammer. For any particular sword the teleological explanation fits the best. Though then what if we talk about sword in general and the form of the sword the teleological explanation begins to lose its luster.

As the form of the particular sword make teleological explanation compelling it makes the teleological explanation for the form itself less compelling and harder to reconcile.

This is the nature of memetic information, that is learned information as opposed to genetic information. We don’t tend to include all the step along the way, but only that which is most relevant. That and there is far more intentionality, far more reiteration of memetic information in a short period of time then genetic information could ever hope to achieve. This isn’t to say memetic information passes on in a purely evolutionary manner, memetic information is passed on by teaching from one sentient critter to another. Unlike genetics there is the ability to completely change key structure and reshuffle orders of thing at will. So it’s much easy to have the history of complex learned information to be hidden, and some time for a variety of reasons people intentionally try to hide such history, but back to swords.

The full history of how sword may have come about is not fully know to me, but the form of the sword, as a relatively strait, large, long, and generally ridged blade likely arose from a handful of different sources but the biggest precursor to the sword is undoubtedly metal knives and daggers, which in turn where inspired from flint daggers, which in turn would have came from simple stone tools.

Where a particular sword had a very clear teleological explanation, the form of the sword, and *the progression* towards the sword has a far more satisfying methodological explanation. One that can probably be drawn all the way back to the most basic tool use, before tool creation. Though I’m no anthropologist so don’t ask me to make that full series of connections competently.

What we have here, and what is important is a whole series of tools made in a teleological manner, who’s change follows and rises from a methodological process, all the way back to a point where there is no longer a teleological explanation (simple tool use), but only methodological ones.

This is the long view argument for why I’d say that morally argument while they might all follow a telos to telos pattern now, that pattern may not go back infinitely. I’d go further to say there is at least so evidence for this because there are clear evolutionary reasons for tool use, and morality to evolve (and seems to have evolved multiple times, looking at the many social animals which exist, and for tool use found in many bird and mammal species, but many other types of animals as well http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool_use_by_animals)

While modern morality might be more complex than a sword it doesn’t start out that way, it takes small children years to learn and understand the basics of morality, it would have took our assertors much longer, but we have millions of years to work with so there’s plenty of time for the basic moral system that would allow for larger human communities to form. This is speculation sure, but I find it a compelling line of thought. Further our morality, and logical system are massively more nuanced and complex then those even just a few thousand years ago when the first codes of law where inscribed. It follows that same general pattern I described with the swords from knifes though since writing is rather recent in human history, and we won’t have stone fragments of morality dating back hundreds of thousands even millions of years.

Though I’ll leave it there for now, I most definitely under sold the point I was trying to make before.

[A3] Also to use the previous line of thinking to address some of your final comments in the paragraph prefaced “In[5]” (the 6th paragraph). When you say you resist the idea that concepts such as logical and morality can develop I am on the other side of the coin saying morality has in several occasions developed, and there’s good reasons for it to develop. More over even logic develops, perhaps there is some logic under laying everything, but this going into an argument like that between math realists and anti-realists. Only with logic.

While I’m not well versed in the math realism argument, when you apply the same logic here it come down to these two sides. The moral realist who would say that there is some sort of moral underpinning to the universe, and the moral anti-realist which would say that morality is a concept created (to some extent) by us humans (and quite possibly other organisms) for a variety of reasons, mostly to achieve certain goals or solve problems.

Though you might have a different sort conception of the problem which I would be interesting in hearing.

[A4] Now I will mention briefly that my moral position is primarily leaning toward consequentialism, not pure consequentialism, and my final verdict is not in yet, but I do think consequences are of the most importance, though not the only facts which should be considered (intentions matter, and actions must themselves be judges by the ripples they send out not just the primary/direct consequences). Though this is a whole can of worms to itself and we can address it later on if we like.

[A5] Now on (or back to?) to the question does our system of morality needs to be objective? Which you bring up in the 7th paragraph of your reply (you reference [14] in the second sentence).

How your using the definitions of necessarily so, and contingently so, for objective and subjective respectively. While I don’t think this is a satisfactory definition for how I think of objective and subjective, I will address your argument directly as I think there are counter arguments which can be made using these definitions.

First I’m not comfortable saying logic and even math are necessarily so. Why? Because there are many types and forms of both which while they map out well in reality, together they are not always compatible. I would say that logic and math (I group them together because math is a sub set of logical systems) are contingent on reality. Why this might make them “necessarily so” I’d argue it doesn’t since there is no single “Logic” Which subsets, but rather a number of logics which are use in relation with one another to solve problem, but are not always compatible with one another, that is they do not condense down into a primary “logic.”

Why this leads me to thinking that logic is is contingent is because how I look at logics as formal concepts, created over the last several thousand years which has slowly progressed in complexity and explanatory power over that time. That is I see logic as a series of models progressing toward eliminating biases in human thought so that we might best understand what is around us and what we want/ought to do.

So unfortunately logic isn’t just contingent on reality and the sort of causal relationships which exist with in our macroscopic environment, but it is also contingent on our limited perceptions and our in built biases. It seems to me at least that logic is a conceptual toolbelt we’ve created to help overcome our natural limitations. The source as I see it comes from our need to understand and determine the truth or correctness of our and other people’s statements and beliefs. Not from some fundamental source of logic, even though logic in part is informed by other fundamental forces.

So in this way I’m logical anti-realist, I think logic only exists as a tool we create, not as some greater existence as a fundamental part of reality, or as I direct representation of any fundamental part of reality.

[A6] also quick note on what is “relative” I do not see relative as not real, but to be relative is to be either independent from some objective, and/or independent source, i.e. having no external basis or justification. As well relative can refer to cases where reality is actually depended on the subjective. Also where (strict) nihilism in a strict sense would say that something does not have value, (strict) relativism would say that no system of values would necessarily be better than another.

Though the proper definition of relative like nihilism is hugely depended on the context you using it in. Is it morals we are talking about, truth, or something else? Each has its own implications and is worthy of its own discussion, and there are sub groups within each kind of relativism, and different degrees which to which we can take the relativistic arguments should we want to go there.

Though this is a side tangent, and not terribly important to the whole of what we are talking about.

[A7] But do my anti-realist views necessarily abandon any hope of moral authority or moral “knowledge?” Well I don’t think so.

Though I do lose access any ultimate/objective authority, but as I don’t have any belief or convincing evidence that such a source exists. Though such a weakness continues to be something that does not bother me in the slightest.

You said in your post. “Morality cannot exist in any way contingently because it is prescriptive. Morality has some sort of authority if you can actually be condemned for doing something wrong.  If morality were contingent, then how could someone be condemned for something if the universe could have existed with a different morality in which that condemned person were lauded for his same action. Morality would hold the same weight as mere preference.  Preferences are based upon human caprices, which are in turn based upon prudential means for certain contingent goals.”

Okay well I think this quote wraps up nicely many of your thoughts, so after a lot of trying to figure out exactly what you mean, I think I have a good idea of what your actually saying.

First for clarity when you say Contingent do you mean “by chance?” The rest of your reply seems to support this, and I have to ask because while this is a definition for contingent I’ve rarely heard it used in this way.

If something is based on chance, does this mean is can have no authority in regard to morality? Well on the face of it that seem correct. If something is purely based on chance then no it doesn’t seem that we can judge it moral or call upon authority to punish said action. It seems to me it should not be moral or immoral to roll a 4 on a die, and rolling a 5 instead of a 3 does not seem to be a punishable action, but does this carry through to all our universe?

Well is our universe all up to chance? I couldn’t say if there are other possible universes which would have different physical forces then ours, but let’s say that there can be, and that those changes could lead to different moralities. Does that then somehow invalidate morality based in our universe? Even those based here on our little planet? Does this lead to moral relativism? Well I think it’s safe to say that you definitely think so, but I’m not so ready to jump on board.

Now on the scale on the multiverse it seems that in this case we are stuck with moral relativism. That is, no moral system or standpoint is uniquely privileged over another. Though I’d argue that we don’t need to address the multiverse, we can’t currently prove the existence of the multiverse, or that the universe could be substantially different, let alone access other such possibilities. So I think it is fair that we limit the discussion down to moralities which are conceivable in our universe.

Though that doesn’t limit things much, but even if we then limit things down to those moralities which are conceivable to us humans, and then down to those which are relevant we are still left with a plethora of moral systems of deal with. It seems as you’ve framed it I can’t deal with this problem of moral relativism.

This leads be with two possible paths to choose, accept your proposition that we need an objective source, or reject this frame work. I am force to choose the latter because here I think we have been lead down into the realm of a false dichotomy. We’ve basically been left with the options either you need some objective source of morality or your stuck with moral relativism, but you made it clear that our human preference those consequences which affect us, how we choose them cannot act as the foundation of morality. This is what I must reject.

[A8] “In [8] you may not think a telos is necessary for an ethical model, but once you follow through on this, you lose all justification for categorizing certain actions as moral actions and not just actions deemed best at achieving survival or flourishing.  You think an objective teleology is not possible therefore, you don’t worry about it.  But, you lose all grounds for calling your system a moral system and not just prudence aimed at fitness.  Yes, we’re born with innate desires, but what forces us to execute these desires apart from that we want to?  If you don’t want to follow these desires, what allows someone else to condemn you for doing so?”

This was the problem I had in understanding your argument, as well as where I’ll need you to step in to propose justification. Why is it that you think the sort of non-teleological explanations I proposed cannot be the foundation for morality (though it is good to know you probably guessed where I was going but I still think it was a good idea to flesh it out in [A2])

Now I’m not saying this kind of explanation is a moral system in and of its self, but it does give an explanation for how moral system can be arrive at from an evolutionary system. Now you seem to be claiming that any moral system arrived at from this sort of evolution can actually be a moral system, but this is what has been confusing me. Why not? Sure such a system is dependent on us humans, but any moral system applicable to us would need to be contingent on our needs, and desires, on our surrounding and or interaction with other things. Such a system is likely to be flawed, but I don’t see how this context determined nature would make is useless or revoke is moral status.

I truly don’t see how human flourishing, or flourishing of the planet, or flourishing of life and knowledge, cannot be the basis of morality.

[A9] Though you have tried to offer a solution with the Christian God acting as an objective source. In the last 8 paragraphs as you dived into theological issues, this is where the greater weaknesses of your positions can be found, as this seems to be what is underpinning the conclusions you where drawing and arguing for in the first half of the post.

In your responses to [9] and [10] you begin the arduous process of defending your claims and this is the place where I have some of the more serious objections.

First you make the following statements that “Without persons involved, I don’t know what it would even mean to say something has moral content.  All moral actions come from moral agents. ”

Well first I largely agree with this, but perhaps it would be best to discuss thing in terms of all moral determinations come from moral agents. Because moral content, say you’ve said requires persons, i.e. moral agents. An action in and of itself it seems to me is not moral in and of itself, but because something determine that action to be moral.

Next you move on to claim that. “…objective morality necessitates God’s character.” This is undeniably a leap, but pointing that out let us see if you substantiate that claim. I say this is a leap because so far in this paragraph you have indicated that because moral action necessitate a moral agent, and that because abstract concepts such as the plutonic forms do not have necessary weight to, and statement you largely glossed over, but I will grant for the time being. Then from that you say that we are left with only god’s character as a suitable option for this objective source. Though this does not for a moment follow and as of this point it appears as though you’ve done little more than shoe horn your conception of God at the end of your otherwise thoughtful argument.

Though as I said we shall see if you better draw out your path to your conclusion and fill in those necessary premises.

[A10] In your response to [10] I found you use a very problematic definition and wish to point it out to you.

You said: “…the Bible would be revelatory source of information.  This means that the information most likely could not have been arrived at through rational discourse.”

Why yes. The bible could not have been arrived at through rational discourse. Indeed it would appear to me is a set of mythical tales thought up over a couple thousand years by a desert dwelling tribe we know as the Israelites. Who where in turn inspired by many other cultures and their mythos’s two major sources being the Babylonians, and the Persian (I think) Zoroastrians. The lovely thing about us humans is we are not rational by nature, or at least not completely so. We are fully capable of irrational discourse. Hence why most of us need significant training and education to carry on discussions like the one we are having.

So when you said: “… someone could not ratiocinate the concept of the trinity without revelatory knowledge.”

I heard. One could not rationally arrive at the concept of the trinity without irrational discourse.

Now I think what you meant was to say that you could not come to the idea of the Trinity without revelation from a deity, but from how you’ve laid it out that simply is not the case. As of now you’ve left a gaping hole in your argument by choosing the definition that you did, so you might wish to take a different tact.

[A11] In your response to [13] You go on to tell me how you understand fear of god to be different, but then go on to describe what amount to fear of a tyrant, or the fear a person might have to a violent offender whom otherwise holds power over them. you move of to describe him then in a sense of fear out of awe and respect, this makes more sense, but this being who you later describe whom primary trait is love is to be feared? Even in awe this seems to be a contradiction in terms, but worse it is clear from what you’ve said and in the bible that the God your referring to threatens, comments and commands mass genocide, condones slavery. If this is love then you’re in quite the abusive relationship. This sure he is punishing the Israelites for wrong doings, but he does so through blood and horrendous curses more often than not.

[A12] Well now is as good a time as any to God’s Character as this remains of high important to your argument and is something I don’t think you can define adequately, or with certainty.

First I will respond to [6] where you asked me to give you some examples. Here is one. http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Biblical_contradictions#God.27s_Character

As well God is constantly described as loving, good, a font of morality, yet the bible particularly the old testament describes him, as jealous, violent, capricious and often making mistakes. And it cannot be over stated the bible condones slavery, at no point throughout it’s entirety does it explicitly condemn slavery, but at many point does it explain how best to do it and even claims that God itself command the taking of slaves.

This is where I think the vast majority of your problems lie. You keep claiming to have this ultimate source for authority, in the form of the Christian god, this is has a threefold problem right at its core before anything else. If you wish to justify your moral claims on the Abrahamic God then. First you must prove there is at least one deity of some sort. Second you must prove that deity is the Yahweh described in the bible. Third you need to show that Yahweh to be an objective source of morals.

You can continue to describe God however you like, and define his character as you like, but then you still must show me why that is the case. So far I have only really read how you need your god to follow these so far poorly define characteristics, so that your arguments for morality work. Which if it is the case they just might, but your working from a place where you’ve mostly assumed the three questions above to be true. I have not, and do not share your convictions.

[A13] Now allow me to address the two links you included to your other posts as they are relevant.

https://sirratiocination.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/argument-from-meticulous-causation/

Well that’s a nifty little paradox you have going there, reminds me of Zeno’s Paradox of Tortoise and Achilles, but like Zeno’s paradox, I don’t think this is really going to be much of an argument either. While this sort of thing is not my expertise, I do have one, I think strong, rebuttal.

Certainly it is true that one cannot navigate an infinite series with finite amount of time, but we have already divided each step up infinitely, and as such each step must be infinitely short. Excellent so now that we’ve traversed infinity we don’t need to worry about mixing god into the equation muddying things up.

[A14]

And then I skimmed the excerpt of your book

https://sirratiocination.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/an-exerpt-from-my-book/

Annnnd that’s a whole can of worms. I skimmed some of it and well, I noted ~5 problems in under 500 words, so if you’d like me to address it I’ll need to do it some other time. I would need to read the whole thing first and I don’t have the time right now.

Moving on.

[A15] Skipping ahead to the second last paragraph this is where thing really start to fall apart for me, as you basically went into a sermon. As though you expect the bible to convince me, Allow be to point you can to [A10] where in you shot yourself in the foot logically speaking. But if you’re going to use the bible as evidence and then claim things like: “According to God’s account of history, people all did believe in him at one time.”

You’re going to have to convince me the bible is God’s account of history, something you will find that the consensus of historians will not agree with, and then you’re going to have to convince me it’s accurate, which is flatly impossible without over turning huge amounts of history, archeological research and scientific research.

[A16] “Just because there is debate about something doesn’t mean there isn’t an absolutely true answer.  Any belief people hold, they hold for a reason.  The argument for this reason might have faulty deduction or false premises, but there is always some argument.”

Just because there might be an absolutely true answer out there do not mean we will ever have access to it, and certainly people generally have reasons for the thing they believe, but I don’t think they always do at least not consciously.

It was a pleasure reading the first half or your article, and you have some genuinely interesting ideas, but once you began trying to justify god you got sloppy, and you fail to really address your own biases and they some of them are obvious. You believe in the Christian God, and thing the bible is the history according to God, and these colour you argument, but they make them weaker, because you haven’t (and I don’t think you can).

You cannot talk about the Christian God is the only valid option in the list of deities which are claimed to exist, throughout this article you don’t ever even pay lip service to the problem that there are other god which are claimed to exist and many could be just a likely to fill the role of Yahweh, the one that comes to mind that you ought to look into more is the Hindi god/concept Brahman.

It was fun responding and I hope you can better explain some of these problems I found. Though if there is one thing I’d like you to address it is [A10].

Withteeth.

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Induction and Deduction, and the Induction problem.


Before I go into the post proper I’d also like to recommend a book Hessian came across and that I’ve been flipping through while writing these posts. “Logic A Graphical Guide” by Dan Cryan, Sharron Shatil and Bill Mayblin. It’s a comic book about Logic and is an excellent use of the media. Using pictures, font and careful placement to make many difficult logical concept easily apparent and readily readable. It introduces many key concepts and great thinkers in a quick and useful way. For those who want to get a general over view of Logic quickly I haven’t found a better source. Though I’m not getting paid for this plug so best be moving on. 😉

Deduction and Induction. These two concepts a pivotal to understanding much of what we talk about in logic. Particularly logic in relation to fields outside philosophy. While induction and deduction certainty don’t end the conversation you really can’t escape them. Especially not induction. Now what is Induction and what is deduction?

Deduction is in many ways an extension of the syllogism, but is no longer limited to three sentences and having full command of logical connectives and assumptions. The conclusion (also know in this cases as the deduction, or what is deduced) is drawn directly by the premises, and when done correctly is guaranteed by those those same premises. Like with syllogism.

Induction on the other hand is less certain the premises do not guarantee the conclusion, but rather They support the conclusion.

To explain the difference I’ll build on an example from Logic A graphical Guide.

To inductively prove that ravens are Black you would formulate your argument like this.

P1. This raven is black.

P2. This other raven is black.

P3. All of the other 318 ravens I have seen have been black.

P4. I have never encountered an instance, be it personal written, or otherwise, of a raven that was not black that was also substantiated.

C. Therefore all ravens are black.

 

A Deductive argument on the other hand would look like this.

P1. (Assumption) All Ravens are black.

P2. That is a raven

C. Then that raven must therefore be black.

 

In the inductive argument we have a certain probability that the conclusion is true. We haven’t guaranteed the truth of the conclusion. Because of that Inductive arguments don’t fit under the valid/soundness categories I talked about in my first post. They simply can’t, and deductive arguments can because they, when done properly guarantee the conclusion. This is the problem of induction, inductive arguments can not be valid in the same way deductive arguments can, but this doesn’t mean induction is worse then deduction.

In my first post on the subject of logic I said it is best to ensure that your argument follows from your premises. Ideally that means your conclusion is guaranteed, but as I’ll show you this can’t always be done. When induction and deduction where being discussed in detail by David Hume (1711-1776) but where also discussed by other philosophers of the time is that the use of induction posed a real problem for the still fledgling sciences since induction can not guarantee truth, so  by that metric could not be justified. So science according to hume and similar thinkers should be limited to deduction.

Though fortunately there several answers to this problem I will discuss two. Induction being unavoidable, and the induction bypass. First is the ultimate problem is that all knowledge is ultimately based on some level of induction and assumption. We can not for example guarantee that we exist, and that the reality we perceive exists. We can not, at least not currently, deduce reality and ourselves from anything that actually guarantees its truth. We can make assumptions, and we can make deductions from assumptions about reality. We cannot, however, deductively prove that those assumptions are correct. But we can inductively show those assumption to be highly likely. I talk about that in a bit more detail here, but I may devote a post to this in the future as there is a lot to talk about which does not directly relate to this post.

Which brings me to the induction bypass which I believe was coined by John Stewart Mill but don’t quote me on that It may have been Karl Popper. The Bypass is the notion that induction can be carefully set up so that you make what amount to generalization, which over time, experimentation, and repetition can become more and more precise. That is, over time time and repetition of experiments you become more certain of the truth of your argument and you close off other possibilities as improbable or impossible. What is amount to is that while you can’t 100%  guarantee truth with induction you can, with time and effort, effectively guarantee your conclusion to near by not quite 100%. This is actually a large and necessary competent of what we do in science, and basically all science is founded on the principles of induction, which is in turn pretty damn good evidence for the inductive argument ;).

What this means for induction is that it can compete with deduction, and quite effectively because it allow us to have some uncertainty in our claims and still be justified in making those claims. That doesn’t mean we ought forget about deduction. Deduction is still extremely useful if arguments and when you have sets of facts you think are related like in an investigation, or when looking for consistency is another persons worlds or claims. While science as a whole is probably the best example of induction, deduction is best exemplified by is use in structured arguments. When you formulate a good deductive argument then the conclusion must follow from the premises so you need not worry that your argument itself will come under attack. Rather now you and your opponent must tackle your arguments premises and assumption not it general struture (with out making a fool of themselves that it). And closing off one line of attack always makes arguments much easier to handle. Though more on refuting and defending arguments later.

 

Next time I’ll be doing a video review on a logical argument I quite like, pointing out why I like it what I agree with and how you could hypothetically attack it if you disagree with it. It will function as a practical exercise.

Withteeth

 


Logical Arguments. Syllogisms, and Logical Connectives.


As in the previous post, this will once again be an overview. There are many different methodologies and factors to keep in mind and I cannot be conclusive here. I suggest looking into all of these matters further should you be interested in strengthening your skills at argumentation.

There is my process in which a logical argument can be formed. Some are better then others, and some can only be used in specific circumstances. I will state it again: I won’t be covering all of them, instead I’ll be focusing on a few important logical processes: the Syllogism, and logical connectives.

A Syllogism formally is three lines where first you make a universal claim followed by a particular claim which is predicated (based on, directly related too) on the first universal claim. The third sentence is then composed from those first two sentence. As an example, I will use the most famous form of Syllogism posed by Aristotle:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

I hope everyone can see how the third sentence here follows logically from the first two. We know from the first line (for the sake of this argument) that all men are mortal, so when we are also told that Socrates is a man, we know that Socrates must then be mortal.

Going back to my previous post it would be easy to rewrite the format of this argument in premises and conclusions, which I will do below:

P1. All men are mortal.

P2. Socrates is a man.

C. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

This is one of the most basic forms of a logical argument and is based around the definitions of those terms it uses. It’s useful because, when we try to misuse Syllogism, it tends to be quite obvious. This is because the concluding line will not be predicated from the first two lines. For example:

P1. Some Greeks are mortal.

P2. Socrates is a Greek.

C. Therefore, Socrates is immortal.

Again I hope it’s clear why this doesn’t work. In the first premise we see there is room for some Greeks to to be not moral, so for the sake of this argument we could say that it is the case that any given Greek could be mortal or not moral (perhaps immortal perhaps something else, since it is not specified). So when we are told Socrates is a Greek we know there is some possibility he is not mortal, but that’s all we know. We cannot say he is moral or otherwise based on this argument. All we could say is C. Socrates is possibly moral. Nothing more.

These simple syllogisms can be extended into more complex forms, but the take away here is that you should be making sure that your conclusions are predicated on your premises. Otherwise you’ll at best end up making mistakes and at worst end up speaking nothing but gibberish as your conclusions end up lack any cohesion with your premises. It’s best to avoid that if you can.

Next are logical connectives which do not serve a propose in this post more than to lay the ground work for other posts.

I’ll briefly list them going into a bit more detail below. If you want to know a bit more about how they work I’d either Google logical connectives, or go play with red stone logic circus in Minecraft (make a locking door but make sure you look up the wiki: you need at least an and, and or gate, but I like to use xor gate for mine 😉 ).

As to what logical connectives are, they function basically the same way we use them in language: by connecting different statements together, and trying the truth of both statements in a particular way. Technically you can create a system which contains all of the following connectives with only “and” and “or” connectors, but it’s far easier to talk about these logical relationships without trying to tie them altogether:

… and… (&)

The whole statement is only true if both sides of the and connective are true.

… or…

The whole statement is true when at least  one side of the statement is true.

if… then…

“If…then” statements works such that if the “if” statement is true, then the “then” statement must be true for the whole connected statement. If the “if” is false, then the “then” can be true or false to no effect. If x happens, then y happens. The statement remains true even if y happens with out x. The statement is only falsified when x is true, but y doesn’t occur as well.

… if and only if…(iff)

This is like the “If…then” statement, but instead x can only occur if y occurs and vise versa. The statement is false only if one occurs without the other. Iff can also, in some cases, indicated equivalency, but this is not necessarily the case.

… Elusive or… (xor, either)

Opposite to iff, this statement is only true when only one side of the statement is true. You can either have pudding or cake, but not both.

negation… (-, not)

Negation is reversing the meaning of the statement. Where (n) is a cat (-n) is not a cat.

… Equivalency… (=)

When two or more things are the same. They are equivalent. 2+3 = 5 = 1+ 1 + 1 + 1 + 1

I’ve included formal logic terms, short hand, and math symbols above many of which double as grammar. Each of the above can and are regularly used in English. I’m certain if you’re unsure of how to figure any of this out, you can manage it with a Google search or two. The biggest reason to include this early on is to clarify some of the common terminology and expose those reading this to some common ways people talk about these connectives. Besides, all of these connective are used in language and argument, so it is important to understand how we ought to use them within our arguments so that others will understand what we mean.

Hopeful I haven’t bored you all out of your minds. Next time I’ll get to induction and deduction. Which I feel is far more interesting.

Withteeth


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