Below are topics that have been discussed on this domain name in sites present and past that are essentially resolved and which have no need for further debate. Or they’re just good arguments I’ve found that essentially render any further debate moot.Consider them this blog’s editorial stances, if you will. If you know of a resource that kills off a contentious argument once and for all, let me know.
Saying something is just your opinion is no defense for making false claims.
If you think Jefferson Starship was a regrettable, novelty second act that, if anything, sullied the reputation of the once transcendent Jefferson Airplane, then that’s your opinion. It’s about taste. And I may of may not agree, though in that case I kind of do. If you spout off about vaccines causing autism or the healing properties of crystals, that 9/11 was “an inside job,” the earth is flat, and the like, then it’s not about anyone agreeing or disagreeing with you, because it’s simply not true. Confused? Jef Rouner separates opinion from fact for you. Sorted!
There is evidence of Russian government backed hacking and propaganda efforts against the Democractic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign before the 2016 presidential election.
There is a load of evidence that the United States wages aggressive hacking campaigns against other governments and their leaders. There is proven cases of the United States using propaganda to alter the course of elections in other countries. There’s also endless evidence of other countries doing all of this against other countries. And yes, there is evidence that, in the run up to the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia engaged in such a campaign against the United States with the purpose of supporting Hillary Clinton’s rival. Yes, Clinton’s IT department practiced weak security with regards to her use of a private email server. Yes, John Podesta did himself no favours by not using 2-factor authentication on his gmail account and checking emails before clicking on things. Yes, not every piece of news against the Clinton campaign, or published by this or that ridiculous website was Russian created (but a few were). Yes, the ODNI report was a complete piece of shit, leaving out the most compelling open source information available and embarking on a 7-page whine about Russia Today that didn’t even get to the meat of what’s actually wrong with that news organisation. But there is plenty of technical analysis of the technology and methods used from other sources to make up for it. If you can’t accept this or engage with the real evidence that exists, then you’re either cherry picking for a partisan reason, or just not able to do so. this has nothing to do with whether you are a Clinton fan (I’m repeatedly on record as not being one), or Trump (fuck no!), or if you genuinely think Putin is a decent bloke (you’re mentally ill). It’s the fact that the context is in the very physical technical logs and in the understanding of how phishing works, and how these sorts of attack campaigns are waged. I make the points myself. Sorted and Sorted!
Causation is not Justification.
As Glenn Greenwald points out, current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is not a terrorist apologist “for recognizing the role played by Western foreign policy in terror attacks.” World events and government actions shape people’s opinions and decisions, and there is no escaping that fact. People are still responsible for their own actions. Governments can be criticized and condemned for policies and behaviours that contribute to more people becoming terrorists, though. Western foreign policy is culpable. Sorted!
Self-identified Western “leftist” (or “progressive or “anti-imperialist”) apologists of Bashar Al-Assad have blood on their hands.
Joey Ayoub explains how some people are using the banner of progressive politics or “anti imperialism” to get away with lies that support the Syrian regime’s campaign of tyranny and mass murder: “The inability of many leftists to see past outdated narratives on Syria has galvanised the rise of reactionary nativism in the West.” All the points are made at middleeasteye.net. Sorted!
There is no scientific case for homeopathy.
Edzard Ernst: Pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies as anything other than placebos are putting their customers’ health at risk. Sorted!
Ethical consumerism will not end sweatshops or bad labour practices.
It’s not that it’s bad to buy ethically sourced things, it’s that doing so doesn’t end bad practice (however, buying from people whose practices you agree with does put a little cash in their pockets). Michael Hobbes explains in this well written and researched study on the topic: “Listening to consumer advocacy campaigns, you’d think our only influence on the developing world was at the cash register. But our real leverage is with our policies, not our purchases. … We are not going to shop ourselves into a better world. Advocating for boring stuff like complaint mechanisms and formalized labor contracts is nowhere near as satisfying as buying a pair of Fair Trade sandals or whatever. But that’s how the hard work of development actually gets done: Not by imploring people to buy better, but by giving them no other option. After all, that naked protest of Old Navy in the ’90s? Behind the 50 demonstrators, a line of 300 customers stretched around the block.” — Sorted!
Homophobia is often associated with homosexual arousal.
“Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli,” found a 1996 study. Sorted!
Steven Pinker is wrong about the decline of violence and war.
“A new orthodoxy, led by Pinker, holds that war and violence in the developed world are declining. The stats are misleading, argues [John] Gray – and the idea of moral progress is wishful thinking and plain wrong.” Gray backs it up with all the evidence. Sorted!
Democracies do wage war on one another.
Democratic Peace Theory is based the misguided notion that democracies never wage war on one another. Ironically, it is often part of the rationale many Western democracies use when they want to launch violent, doomed regime change campaigns against other countries. Matthew White methodically illustrates that history shows this notion is utterly without merit. Sorted!
Hans Rosling is wrong: There are too many humans for the planet.
I don’t know if that’s legal to say on the internet, but there it is. There are too many people for the planet to tolerate and the number will increase. The internet loves Hans because he uses blocks to talk about data, which a lot of people think is a complicated topic because until blocks, they only saw it in excel spreadsheets or something, and that’s boring. But colourful visuals and and props don’t back up science, and are actually a way of illustrating fuzzy points to make them seem clearer than they really are. Rosling looks at single indicators and is demonstratively ecologically illiterate. He also makes vast assumptions about class issues and doesn’t take into account a number of other factors that impact population growth, or human behaviour. It’s not that there is a population bomb; there was one, and it already went off. Sorted!
Nuclear energy is not a clean, safe, affordable or sustainable option.
Nuclear power’s long-running problem is that there’s little to do with the waste it produces short of burying it and leaving the next thousand years’ of future generations to think about. It’s also not a sustainable solution and doesn’t address the key issues: over consumption and waste. That aside, Public Citizen has authoritatively attacked the lobby on its five main points in a definitive smack down. Sorted!
“Jaywalking” as a crime was invented by the American auto industry.
Once upon a time, people could just walk where they needed to. The U.S. automobile industry wanted more people to invest in cars for that and worked to privatise how large portions public land (roads) could only be accessed with their products, as Joseph Stromberg details. Sorted!
Pirates make economies healthy.
Piracy isn’t costing jobs or killing creativity. Quite the opposite. It’s the bases from which market innovation and even many social improvements originate, though often with little gratitude. Without pirates, you wouldn’t have a free market or independent innovators, just a crony-run state controlled capitalist cabal walled off to the majority. Sorted!
Every website needs to use https.
Maybe some websites have more obvious needs for it, or use data in more ways that scream for it, but there’s no actual reason why a website doesn’t need to have SSL certificates installed and use https by default. Wrote a blog post about it. If the site isn’t using https and shipping everything to you over a network in clear text, then you could be getting served content from someone sitting between your browser and the website. Trust it less… or not at all. Sorted!
The only known way to truly block your digital communications from surveillance is through properly implemented strong encryption. It does work and the likes of the NSA still can’t crack it. Freedom of the Press Foundation lays out the evidence for why, and how to get better at using it. Sorted!
Open Source software is better.
Whenever I’ve ended up with a piece of proprietary software that has an active open source competitor, I’ve always been dissapointed with the result. Open source is a better development model, has a faster cycle of fixing security holes and spurs innovation. Not to mention it puts the emphasis on creator talent instead of rewarding people squatting on patents and launching lawsuits to protect their product instead of investing in innovation. There are numerous essays on this around the interwebnets, but Ben Pfaff and Ken David are pretty thorough. Sorted!
Climate change (global warming) is real and happening and human behaviour plays a significant contribution.
Sceptical Science has an exhaustive archive of what the denialists say and what the science says. Scroll through it or view it according to taxonomy. Sorted!
The actual role of science is to inspire doubt.
The Doubt Factory explains the proper role of science, which is often not understood by science denialists and even many science enthusiasts: “Science’s true purpose is to manufacture doubt, but most of science’s advocates misrepresent science as a source of certainty. Because of the pervasive influence of media and by default, science advocates’ view of science become the public’s view of science. The remedy is obviously an overhaul of education with a renewed emphasis on reason and critical thinking, but that is easier said than done.” The whole page is really an interesting look at the role of science. Sorted!
Many self-proclaimed “Libertarians” are wrong about a lot of things.
Many of these people are simply capitalists, so I’m still not entirely sure what to call this entry. Anyhow, libertarians make a point every now and again on government intrusion on personal lives, but unfortunately they too often use these individual wins as jumping off points to espouse incredibly bad ideas. Mike Huben explains it. Sorted!
Anarchist collective communities can succeed.
Deirdre Hogan’s 1999 essay for the Workers Solidarity No 56 spells out how the social revolution took place in Spain in 1936, a time when people “took power into their own hands and started to construct a completely different society based on anarchist principles.” Something to consider in these times of top-down capitalist economic uncertainty. What I’d classify as authentic libertarians would agree with this. Many self-proclaimed ones don’t. Sorted!
Open borders make sense: closed borders and border control are inhumane.
We live in a post-nationalist reality, and border control is literally killing people and enabling dictators, despots, economic exploitation and a whole host of horrible things. The OpenBorders.info website has all the arguments on why humans need to allow their fellow beings roam where they want to. It’s another item that any authentic libertarian would agree with, but that many self-proclaimed ones caveat. Open borders would also help an increasingly over-populated world. Governments should compete for people, not people for governments. — Sorted!
Atheism is the default setting.
Epicurus sorted this out in 33 AD. Sorted!
Atheist anger is still pretty justified.
Yes, they can be shrill, and a few name brand atheists are simply hateful. But there’s still a lot to gripe about for the vast majority of this growing minority of humans. Greta Christina has a laundry list of items in a single blog post that — more clearly than Sam Harris and his hateful, trollish ilk could ever hope to achieve in all their books and op-ed columns — explains why atheists are vocal about their lack of belief in the divine and what danger an unquestioning religious faith poses to humanity. Anyone questioning or criticizing atheist anger must first account for each of these items. Sorted!
Hitler was not an atheist; Nazi ideology was steeped in religious, creationist dogma.
People often like to allege that Hitler was an atheist, thereby tarring other atheists with the same brush. However, as we can see, he was vocally a very religious person, and thus when a religious person makes this claim, you can quickly turn it around by referencing this page of quotes. Because if Hitler was religious, what does this say about other religious people? Sorted! Resorted! Sorted Again!
The Quran doesn’t forbid depictions the The Prophet (Muhammad).
Christiane Gruber, associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Michigan, points out that there’s no actual declaration banning images or iconography of the prophet, and that history is full of stunning artistic examples of it. Omid Safi concurres in this well-researched essay. In fact, here’s an archive of Islamic depictions of Muhammad. — Sorted! Sorted Again!
America’s religious right emerged as a political movement in support of racism, not to oppose abortion.
See Randall Balmer’s excellent report, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right.” It’s first political manifestation was to protect segregated schools. America’s religious right started with racism. One could argue it hasn’t strayed far from its roots. Sorted!
If Christian values were actually applied to legal marriage, it would be the most evil institution created.
Christian conservatives, usually in the U.S., demand that legal marriage should have a Biblical foundation. That would include: Sexual slavery, coerced marriage of young girls, polygamy (for men) and essentially no rights for women at all. That’s what the Bible tolerates. Valarie Tarico writes, “none of the norms that are endorsed and regulated in the Old Testament law … are revised, reversed, or condemned by Jesus. In fact, the writer of Matthew puts these words in the mouth of Jesus.” See Matthew 5:17-18, for that. In short: The New Testament says the Old Testament is still the play book. “The Law of which Jesus speaks is the Law of Moses, or the Torah, and anyone who claims the Bible as the perfect word of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God should have the decency to read the Torah carefully—and then keep going.” — Sorted!
Regarding Palestine and Israel
Don’t bring your hate here. Using Palestine as a thin cover in some bizarre attempt to justify antisemitic beliefs is an act of racism and hate. Using claims of Antisemitism to deflect against legitimate criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is an act of racism and hate. This is not difficult. Sorted!
Palestinians are forced to live under a military occupation and have the right to resist it.
Phyllis Bennis’ primer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is getting more dated, but remains an incredibly readable and explains the history and current situation in a very conversational manner. A good place to start for anyone who wants to know what the occupation of Palestine is all about. Sorted!
East Jerusalem is Palestine.
Perhaps just one topic from the above entry, but one that many people have very passionate opinions about. Juan Cole takes apart the mythology and explains why Al Quds belongs to the Palestinians. Gideon Biger offers a history lesson and bible study on how Jerusalem isn’t Isn’t the Capital of the Jews. Sorted!
Hamas does not call for the destruction of Israel.
There may be a load of reasons to not be a fan, but this isn’t among them. Hamas removed this plank from its manifesto in 2006, but retained a commitment to armed struggle, legal under international law. Sorted!
There is no biblical justification for the arguments used by Christian Zionists in their messianic support of Israel
I consider the Bible to be unsuitable at best for settling border disputes, but then I’m not a believer. However, even from a Christian perspective, if you have actually read the Good Book, you’d know that the creepy, end-time oriented justifications about Israel made by many Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. have no basis in the actual scripture they claim to be citing. Stephen Sizer has as a very excellent explanation of it. Sorted! (pdf)
Judaism is not Zionism; Not all Jews are Zionists; not all Zionists are Jews; conflating the two is hate speech.
Tom Pessah has created an accessible and clear article on this for those who may forget this simple fact. We need to call people out on mixing the two terms. “Judaism is a religion that has existed for thousands of years. … Zionism is a (recent) colonial movement that has given Jews privileges in Palestine over Muslim and Christian Arabs (and other non-Jews) – especially in terms of immigration and access to land. That’s what makes it racist.” Sorted! (Some Zionist musings)