Saturday, February 02, 2008

Evidence of Cedar Waxwings

At our favorite atheist-theist battleground, Matthew said:

It isn't quite true that the burden of proof lies on individually proving something using our individual senses. If a color blind person were to use the same criteria, you would have a real problem proving to some people red is different from green.
I'm going to answer you, Matthew. For now, I'll assume that we're having a dialogue and not a debate. Maybe you'll learn something about the atheist position if you read what I have to say. I'm not attempting to turn you into an atheist, only to get you to understand what one atheist — me — does and doesn't claim. If you're game to listen and ask honest questions, without trying to score points, I'll try to elucidate my position as best I can. Bear in mind that I speak only for myself.

I don't think I said that the burden of proof always depends on our using our individual senses.

However, even assuming I did, a person afflicted with red-green color-blindness can use his or her senses to detect a real, physical difference between the colors, at least in practical situations. He or she just can't use color vision to make the distinction. But there are many other criteria in addition to pure color, depending upon what red-or-green objects you're referring to. Think of red peppers/green peppers; red traffic lights/green traffic lights; red wine/green wine; red strawberries/green strawberries. If you learned that red meat was good and green meat was rancid, you could perceive the color through your sense of smell and, if it came to that, your sense of taste. You would be able to substitute other senses for the deficiency in your color vision. You wouldn't need to rely on faith.

I'll give you a concrete example of a sensory deprivation that I myself suffer, and how I can still require — and get! — proof. Each year, songbirds called cedar waxwings migrate through my area.

These cheery little creatures travel in small- to medium-sized flocks. While flying, they give a very high call, which is way out of my range of hearing. Mrs. Exterminator, however, can hear that call perfectly. If we're outdoors, she might cry, "cedar waxwings!" and I'll look up in the sky, or at a tree across the street, or over at a bush in someone's backyard, or wherever she's pointing. Sometimes she doesn't even have to point because I'll know that there are some berries nearby that cedar waxwings just can't resist. Anyway, I'll look, and there they'll be. I don't have to hear them, but I can prove to myself that they're there.

If, after enough cases, I decide that whenever Mrs. Ex says "cedar waxwings," there are actually cedar waxwings, I may decide to trust her — trust, not have faith, because I'd be relying on actual past empirical experiences. So maybe I could accept that cedar waxwings are somewhere around even if I can't see them. But, to tell the absolute truth, much as I love and trust my wife, I probably wouldn't believe her, because she has been wrong three or four times. In those instances, her cedar waxwings turned out to be other birds that I either saw or could hear. Or not birds at all.

Sometimes, of course, she might say "cedar waxwings" and they actually would be there, even though I couldn't see them. But she wouldn't have proved their existence to me, because, although I trust her cedar-waxwing-spotting ability, I don't trust it blindly.

And that's all an atheist says. Your bird may be there, but you'll have to prove it. Because 99.9% of the time, there are no cedar waxwings around. Sometimes you're gonna say something is a cedar waxwing that isn't. Sometimes, maybe, you will hear a real cedar waxwing. But if you want me to believe there's a cedar waxwing there, you'll have to give me some evidence. Because, as far as I'm concerned, until you show me otherwise, it's probably just a mosquito.


John Evo said...

If I had to guess the reaction - I'd say "this is extremely rude of you to point this out".

the chaplain said...

Ex - this is a good post. I really like your distinction between "faith" and "trust."

Matthew N. Petersen said...


A couple of thoughts:

First, a Christian doesn't distinguish between "trust" and "faith." They are both more or less the same thing. If I tell someone "I am 26," and they trust me, they have taken my word on faith. I suppose faith has more of a connotation of "trust for my good" "Have faith in Dr. House...he never looses a patient."

When we say "have faith in God" we mean something very much like "have faith in Dr. House...he never looses a patient." Just "Have faith in Mary's Son...He never looses a patient."

You say "but that isn't a proof of the existence of God." Well...yes and no. Yes, it isn't a logical proof. But if Christ tells us that He is the Way the Truth and the Life, and he is trustworthy; if a saint tells us that the way to healing is to trust Christ, the question of whether Christ is our end becomes a subset of the "have faith in Dr. House...he never looses a patient" situation.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Second, your analysis of color-blindness doesn't quite cut it. Yes, they could find correspondence between what people call "red" and certian things; and between what people call "green" and other things. But they could not determine with their senses that red and green are real things. To determine that, they would have to it on faith from someone with normal vision.

The Exterminator said...


I fear you're trying to debate with me, which flies in the face of my rules. But giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that you're interested in having a dialogue rather than a debate, that you have a sincere desire to understand an atheist, that you're trying to expand your ability to empathize with people who don't think as you do, I'll respond to your comments.

Your first comment:
First, a Christian doesn't distinguish between "trust" and "faith."
Well, this is my blog, which isn't a Christian one, so we use atheistic definitions around here. You're welcome to respond to what I've said -- I think I've drawn a very clear distinction between "trust" and "faith." You're not free to redefine words that I've already explicitly defined.

And, of course, your proof of a god's existence is no good here. Surely, you must know it's no good here. You can't use a fictional character's words in an imaginary conversation as proof that the fictional character exists in real life. You can understand my problem with your "proof," right?

Your second comment:
As far as my analysis of color blindness is concerned: There is no such thing as "red" and "green;" those are adjectives, not real things. Maybe they're real if you're a Platonist or a sunbeam. But I'm neither.

Those adjectives are used to describe natural visual phenomena that happen to fall within a particular range of what we've chosen to call the spectrum.
But "red" and "green" are always used in context to describe something. That something might be a fruit, or a flower, or a pair of socks, or a ray of light, or an abstract painting, or a smudge on a computer screen. In many instances, as I've tried to show, a color-blind person will be able to use other sensory data to determine whether he's looking at something that's red or something that's green.

In some cases, however, that data will not be available. But he'll have enough empirical evidence from his past experiences not to doubt that "redness" and "greenness" are qualities that others can see.

That's not like having a blind belief in a god. I have zero empirical evidence from my past experiences that a god exists. I can't see it, I can't hear it, I can't taste it, I can't touch it, and I can't smell it. I experience no manifestation of a god whatsoever.

If I choose to "transcend" my senses and resort to pure reason, I can't find any evidence of a god there either. Because a god isn't a rational concept to me. To tell you the truth, Matthew, I think it's a very stupid idea that overcomplicates simple things and oversimplifies complicated things. And explains nothing.

Lynet said...

Moreover, when it comes to 'red' and 'green', a colour-blind person might know that other people can agree on what is red and what is green without conferring with each other. But when it comes to God, people almost never agree exactly on what God is unless they have some influence in common -- and usually not even then. God doesn't behave like an objective phenomenon. Distinct cultures don't always even agree on how many gods there are.

the chaplain said...

Is it time to issue a Troll Alert? Be on your guard.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Plus, of course, even to a color-blind person, red light and green light will measure differently on spectrum/wave-length analysis.

(((Billy))) said...

If I may point out one more facet of the difference between trust and faith using the colour analogy:

When I trust someone, I remember an old Doonesbury cartoon, wherein Honey (acting as a translatory), is interpreting Mao (I think):

Mao: "We must trust each other."

Honey: "We must trust each other."

Mao: "Trust and verify."

Honey: "Of course, we're not fools."

If I were colourblind within red/green, I could still, with my own senses, verify that the person I trusted was correct in his assessment of colours. Red has a wavelength of 630 to 700 nanometres with a frequency of 480 to 430 terahertz. Green's wavelength is 490 to 560 nm, with a wavelength of 610 to 540 THz. These measurements can be made without actually seeing the colour which means that, though I will trust someone that they are correct about a colour, I can then test that trust if I so desire.

Faith has nothing to do with verifiability. If someone says "I believe god exists, you should too," what replicable means may I use to "trust, but verify?" Is there an absorbtion spectrum 'godometer' out there which I can use?

Faith is just that. Faith. It is not verifiable by any known means. Trust, by my definition and, by extension, (it appears), the Exterminator, is a statement that can be independently verified.

Does that make sense? Its early on a Sunday morning and, well . . .

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I AM colorblind. Red/green colorblind, which is a common form of colorblindness, primarily with males. I believe it would have kept me out of the Army, had I been drafted during Vietnam. As I understand it, though, I can tell the difference between red and green, however, I see those colors, and all others differently than most people. Sometimes blue looks like purple, and vice versa, and green looks like brown, and vice versa. But that's not the point (though it would have been an impediment to me in the jungles during wartime).

The point is the use of the term "faith". In a religious connotation, the word faith should always be preceded with the word "blind" because that's all it is. Religious faith is based strictly on the word of someone else (the anonymous writers of the bible, your pastor, etc.). It is accepted unconditionally, without reliance on anything we normally rely on for trust.

In all other matters, faith is based on something. Senses, history, experiences, past reliability, etc. It's never blind. It may be mistaken, but it's never blind.

The Exterminator said...

Lynet, Ridger, (((Billy))):
Thanks for adding great points to further strengthen the assertion that red/green color-blindness is not analogous in any way to God belief.

I think your point about "faith" in all contexts other than religion is very well taken. As a lawyer, you probably often need to use "faith" in its legal sense. The word even appears in that legal sense in the U.S. Constitution in Article IV, Section 1 (The so-called "Full Faith and Credit" clause): Full Faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.

I actually think you could make a very good argument, based on this clause, that a legal gay marriage in one state would have to be accepted in all others.

Unfortunately, the next sentence in Article IV, Section 1 reads: And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof. I'm not sure that this sentence allows the U. S. Congress to excuse all states from giving full faith etc. to a legally recognized gay marriage, but, read broadly, it may. Which leads to a whole other subject than this post, the Constitutional validity of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In case anyone's interested, there's a pretty interesting Wikipedia article on the Defense of Marriage Act.

In any event, SI, I prefer to use "trust" instead of "faith" in common conversation to make just that distinction between blind (religious) faith and legal "faith."

Is it time to issue a Troll Alert? Be on your guard.
Thanks for the warning, but I know from his actions on other blogs that Matthew loves to act as a troll. I've given him the opportunity here to actually learn something in an environment I promised would be non-abusive as long as he conformed to the rules of polite discourse. I suspect he's not capable of conforming to those rules, so we probably won't see him again. If we do, and he continues to insist on his nonsense without responding directly to what has been said by others, I'll issue my usual plea for others not to engage him.

John Evo said...

I like to think this post is DIRECTED at Matthew, but not really FOR him (unless he happens to want to learn something).

There are others out there lurking around who might actually want to learn.

In fact, I'd like to take this opportunity to say "Hi there!" to all of Ex's lurkers. I usually talk right past you, but please know I do think about you when I'm writing. I know Ex does.

PhillyChief said...

First, a Christian doesn't distinguish between "trust" and "faith."

That's certainly one of the roots to the disconnect between theists and atheists. Different definitions for "theory", for "evidence", for "knowledge", for "religion", for "faith" and of course for each other since I have yet to meet a theist who knows the same definition of "atheist" as atheists.

John Evo said...

SI said: But that's not the point (though it would have been an impediment to me in the jungles during wartime).

I believe the American forces were actually recruiting color-blind during WW2 because they were able to differentiate "jungle" from "camouflage" as spotters in bombers on missions.

The Exterminator said...

Philly, you're so right about different definitions. In fact, I think it was you a while back who pointed out that religionists frequently redirect conversations by dwelling on the various meanings of words; you pinpointed this as a common diversionary tactic.

That's why, folks, at No More Hornets, I'll set the definitions. Some of my definitions may not sit well with theists, or even with other atheists. But if, over and over again, we choose to argue over the precise variations and shades of meaning that individual words can have, we ought to just say "fuck it" and start a lexicographical blog.

So, at least at No More Hornets:
* faith means blind belief unsupported by any testable evidence.
* atheist means one who does not believe in any gods.
* atheism means the absence of, or freedom from, belief in any gods. It's the natural default position, and requires no faith whatsoever.
* troll means any commenter who (1) continually ignores, misinterprets, mischaracterizes, or claims not to understand the clear responses of others or (2)repeatedly attempts to change the subject.
* lurkers means those who read with the honest intention of soaking up ideas, on both sides of an issue, but who choose, for one reason or another, not to participate in the dialogue.

I, personally, tend not to believe in lurkers as I've defined them. But I'd be delighted to be proven wrong. So I urge any lurkers to give evidence of themselves, which would be a pretty simple thing to do. Just pick a nickname (or use your real one, if you'd like) and leave a request for clarification of a point; or a question relevant to either a comment or the post itself; or even a critique of the comment thread: "I think this conversation is interesting," or "I think this conversation is boring" or even "I think this conversation is the stupidest thing I've ever read in my entire life." I'd probably question my disbelief in lurkers if someone left a simple "Hi, there. I'm a lurker."

To clarify further: If no lurker responds, that will NOT be taken by me as proof that they don't exist. But if even a single lurker responds, that will be taken by me as proof that they do exist.

PhillyChief said...

The nice thing about forums over blogs is you can see right away how many views a thread has vs how many posts were made in it. That's a decent way of determining the existence of lurkers.

John Evo said...

To add to Philly - I personally get about 60 page views per comment. Naturally, many of those 60 are people who regularly visit and comment and just had nothing to add to that thread.

But it would defy probabilities to think all 60 of those visits represent that. Especially since I don't have all that many regular visitors.

You know lurkers exist if you accept anecdotal evidence of trusted individuals (like SI) who say they visited blogs when they were going through doubts about religion, just to hear what others had to say without particularly interjecting himself. There's your ONE lurker that confirms that they exist.

Don't forget that part of the problem is that someone can "lurk" for months and you can never confirm it. Then they can start commenting and it's just a new commenter (to you). It's not a "former lurker" unless they identify themselves as such.

Sarge said...

SI, it depended on where you were and what your selective service status was. Also "when" during that time period.

For combat arms and aviation full color acquity was necessary, but I remember some people who had some color insensitvity in other, more administrative fields. Electronics was also a "no" due to the color coding on some of the components

It's odd what the guidance system behind your can/cannot do and how it shapes your life. Start off with dyslexia and a head injury gives you seizures. The same head injury took my sense of smell and taste. Also, I have a mild form of synesthesia, probably not as pronounced as Amy Beach or Mozart, but it comes in devilish handy for a musician sometimes.

In 1971 I had a generator repairman who had been drafted, been given a full A1 rating, but was still inducted, trained, and sent to Viet Nam. All they wanted was the warm bodies, if you could move you were in, like it or not. Also, if he went, someone whose genetic material was too precious to spill in the jungle could be side stepped by his local draft board.

Summer Squirrel, FCD said...

Great post. If theists could remember the difference between the words "trust" and "faith" these conversations wouldn't need to happen.

(((Billy))) said...

John Evo and Exterminator:

I admit I am sometimes a Lurker. I will drift by a blog two or three times a day, but may (or may not (depending upon the subject and the comments made up to that point)) leave a comment only some of the time. Sorry to be messing up your statistics.

The Exterminator said...

I'm not sure that unaccounted-for page views can necessarily be attributed to lurkers. A lot of people pop over here, for instance, but they don't even stop to read a post. I don't consider those folks lurkers in the sense that you and I use the term.

I'm not going to accept any anecdotal evidence right now, particularly coming through a third party, although I'm not dismissing that kind of evidence. But for now, I've asked just one current lurker to identify himself or herself. And just to head off any potential literalist, I think anyone who has ever commented at this blog cannot fairly be considered a lurker.

When you mentioned synesthesia, I'm surprised you didn't immediately point to Scriabin, who's probably the best example of a synesthesia "sufferer" I can think of among composers. I've never heard about Mozart's synesthesia, so can you elaborate?

I'll try to remember to continue making that distinction, even if it's not based on dictionary definitions, between "trust" and "faith." Sorry, SI.

I don't think you're ever a lurker. Maybe sometimes you choose not to take part in a conversation because it doesn't interest you or because everything that you wanted to say has already been said. But if you're sucked in at all, you get busy scattering those parentheses with great gusto.

(((Billy))) said...

Hopefully (and I really mean it), there is more to it then just the parentheses. Otherwise, I could just make a comment like this:

(()),(). (()())((()))(), ().

which would make no sense at all.

The Exterminator said...

Awww, Billy, don't you go all thin-skinned on me. Your comments are always welcome -- and a great pleasure to read. The parentheses are gravy, a little personal quirk that distinguishes yours as a unique voice around here.

In answer to your other question:
(()),(). (()())((()))(), ().

I'd have to say:
()--(()). ()(()()()), (((!)))... ("")! (((?)?)?)

(((Billy))) said...

Um. . . I'd tell you to watch your language, but your not my kid and this isn't my blog.

Speaking of which (and how's that for a smooth transition) I now have my own blog. Its called "The (Parenthetical) Atheist and the address is

I just began it while watching the Patriots lose (I cheer for the Patriots (and the Redskins ) and I expected a close game (but not THAT close)) and hope that it will be a useful addition to the atheospheric community of free-thinkers (that'd be the ACFT, I guess).

Anyway, I don't think I'm thin-skinned. However, (())!

the chaplain said...

Congrats on your blog. I've already added you to my Chapel Choir. I tried to leave a couple of comments but they disappeared into cyberspace somewhere. Do you have comment moderation on?

John Evo said...

I think he has a ton of comments. Better look into that (((Pronto)))!

Sarge said...

Mozart actually experienced colors when he heard music. He discribed the not "A" as a beautiful, deep, red. He also said it was "warm"

Amy Beach is said to have been the same way, but could smell them as well.

A ciuple of years ago I went to a brass clinic and the guest artist told us to try to TASTE the note as you were playing it. Some people thought he was a kook, but a couple of others there knew exactly what he was talking about. Most of us were amature/semi pro/recreational players, and a lot of people have said that advice helped a lot.

I see I needed to elaborate on my generator repairman. Don't know what happened.

This man was mentally very slow. Could read some, could kind of write, but was totally out of his depth and was certainly in the wrong place at the wrong time. I found out later that he had the mental capacity of a six year old, but had a very limited capacity for anything. Did wonders if you stood over him, but if you told him to start, you better have someone around to tell him to stop.
He managed to burn down our shitter, blow up a truck, and a few other things that made our lives interesting. He was alone in our detachment HQ building an some officer came in and tried to get some information out of him. Luckily I got there before two minutes had passed, but I'll never forget the look on this major's face. Sent George off to do something, and the major expressed concern about George, Was he on something? (A couple of other people were in the office by then) and we all said 'no'. The major opined that George must be on mind expanding drugs. We said that with him it could only help.

(((Billy))) said...


What's comment moderation? Seriously. I'm completely new to this.

John: ((((((((((((((((I will)))))))))))))))

(((Billy))) said...

I think I got it.

mike said...

It is actually quite easy to prove to a color-blind person that red and green are different. Give them a red card and a green card (which look identical to the color-blind person), and write "red" and "green" on the backs. The color-blind person flips a coin and picks one of these cards at random (out of your view), checks the back and shows the front to you. You identify the color. Repeat this a bunch of times.

If the cards really are different as you claim, you should be able to get it right every time. If the (fronts of the) cards really are indistinguishable, as they appear to the color-blind person, you get the answer right with 50% chance. With enough repetitions, you will surely get caught with high probability if the cards are the same color.

This is in fact the basic principle behind zero-knowledge proofs in computer science.

Miss Welby said...

hello Exterminator, I've just given you a link from Europe, the same away I'm about to do with the Ordinary Girl and other fine American blogs.

visit me and see if you want to reciprocate. ciao! :)

PhillyChief said...

I forget what it's called Sarge, but there's a word for people who have crossed senses, where they can see or even taste sounds.

The Exterminator said...

OK, you've got it(!)! Now you probably want to learn how to do a couple of other things. You can get the info best from other wordpress users like, in alphabetical order, chappy, Ric, or SI. Here's what I think you'll want to learn:

(1) how to turn off the requirement that people register to leave comments (it's very annoying to have to do that).
(2) how to leave a link back to your blog when you make comments here (and at other blogger blogs). You're still linking to that blogger profile.

Other than those two minor things, you seem to be an expert. I know I speak for everyone when I tell you that you can and should always feel free to email any of us to ask how to do something blog-related. Don't be shy.

Spinach Ingestion said...

As for # 2, I usually default to my Blogger account which always links to the profile page.

With this comment, I'll try the other way of commenting, by clicking the radio button that says "Nickname" then typing in the direct URL to my blog

(still SI)

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Well, that worked well.

theparentheticalatheist said...

Senor Exterminator: I think I've got it this time. (Oh, that trick never works!)

Scotty B said...

If I leave a comment now, do I cease to be a lurker?

I subscribe to your blog in my RSS feeder (Google Reader). I don't read all of your posts, but occasionally something will catch my eye and I'll check it out (in this case it was the Cedar Waxwings; I enjoy watching them eat the berries off the trees outside my windows at work each year).

I may have posted here at some point before, I don't remember, but if I haven't: Hi there. I'm a lurker.

Scotty B

The Exterminator said...

Well beam me up. I now publicly proclaim that I believe in lurkers. See how little it took to shake my alurkism; just one piece of evidence.

By the way, you've now lost your official lurker status. Feel free to comment whenever you have something to say. Actually, I take that back. At this blog, you don't really need to have something to say. You can leave private encoded messages for your girlfriend and/or wife, or instructions to the cat-sitter, or even a "Hi, there. I'm not a lurker any more."

the chaplain said...

Welcome to the Clubhouse, Scott. Mr. Exterminator may not recall this, but it was only a few short months ago that I was a lurker too. Now, he can't get rid of me! That'll learn him!

sacred slut said...

Phillychief - It's called synesthesia. Oliver sacks wrote an interesting book about music recently which had many examples of it.

Exterminator, excellent post. I would just point out that rather than 99.9% of the time there being nothing there, it's 100% of the time. There is, as you pointed out later in the comments, zero evidence for the theistic position.

Of course what they do have is "feelings". This is why theists think atheists are "missing something". Heck, I thought the same thing when I was a theist. Now I realize what we are missing is something like the willingness to imagine our feelings represent an external reality.

theparentheticalatheist said...

I, too, used to be a lurker. Now I am just a drive by commenter. Just goes to show you, if you feed a Lurkerosuchus apostatii*, it will keep coming back.

*Lurkerosuchus apostatii: a crocodylian which lurks beneath the pool (sorry, Lifeguard).

Now, lets see if I got my handle back, or if I will just now go through life as The (Parenthetical) Atheist.

PhillyChief said...

That feelings crap, what I call the christian "magic sense" annoys the hell out of me. Whenever they talk about it I just immediately think of the little lady from Poltergeist (I sense a presence) and everything they say afterwards I hear in her voice.

grumpylion said...

"At this blog, you don't really need to have something to say. You can leave private encoded messages for your girlfriend and/or wife..."

But can we leave coded messages for other people's girlfriends and wives?

(((Billy))) said...

Grumpylion: I'm sorry, I missed it. Apparently my captain Kirk Secret Decoder Ring is messed up. What time are you picking my wife up?

As long as I've got you here, why is it that I can use my GoogleBlogger Identity and it comes out as (((Billy))) (which is who I want to be (or its who Exterminator says I want to be (same thing))), but if I use my Wordpress Identity (which is where my blog is) I end up as "theparentheticalatheist" which is my blog but not my handle. Can someone help me on this?

Sarge said...

I heard the sound, looked out, and there were two robins on the lawn. On another blog I have mentioned that I saw some in deep winter a couple of years ago, my friend who owns the land told me they stayed around all year, didn't migrate. what and how they got to eat I haven't the foggiest.

My wife has a sense of smell which has made me suggest that we use her to hunt for truffles.

One night when we were stationed in Alabama she swore she smelled an electrical fire, made me get out of bed and tried to find it. We weren't alone. There were about six other couples out and about, the women having insisted on finding the source of the smell. I COULDN'T smell, but of the others only one guy smelled anything at all. The women insisted it was very strong, couldn't understand why we couldn't detect it.

Spam Integrater said...

Hey Grumpy. Take MY wife. Please.

(channeling Henny Youngman)

John Evo said...

Slut said: It's called synesthesia. Oliver sacks wrote an interesting book about music recently which had many examples of it.

Of course, VS Ramachandran has made this (along with things like phantom limbs) his life's work. He has a couple of books out on it, but I love listening to him speak (great Indian accent!) and there are many videos out there.

Dysentery said...

Well, since you already had a luker decloak, you don't really need me now do you?

I usually drop by daily to check for updates and I don't think I've posted here before. I really enjoy your writing style as well as some of your pals like Philly and Jon Evo. Sarge also has some good comments.

Babs said...

Hi there. I'm not a lurker anymore.

And here's my coded message to - well, I can't say who it's to. But they'll know.

The blue banana is underneath the squirrel's right foot.

Psychodiva said...

"* lurkers means those who read with the honest intention of soaking up ideas, on both sides of an issue, but who choose, for one reason or another, not to participate in the dialogue."

That's me :)I exist!

I do tend to lurk here rather than join in as by the time I get to reading the posts everything I would have said has already been said- and much more eloquently than i would say it :)

Great post tho- it is an explanation I would like to poach from you to use with my 'debates' with religionists please :)

The Exterminator said...

I know from empirical evidence that you were a lurker just a short time ago, but it's hard to imagine that now. You must have had to tie your hands behind your back AND stick a sock in your own mouth to keep from typing what you wanted to say and/or just shouting it until it could be heard. Have you noticed what a great echo there is here in the Atheosphere?

Now I realize what we are missing is something like the willingness to imagine our feelings represent an external reality.
Everybody knows that atheists are all just a bunch of heartless machines. And how could they be otherwise? They never get that great Jesus-y boost.

I know why you're not a lurker any more. You finally got weighted down by all those unused parentheses that were accumulating in your head. I'm always happy to have some delivered here, so feel free to keep me on your regular UPS (that's United Parenthesis Service) route.

Whenever I hear that word "feelings" I think of that sappy song from the '70s. To hear an extra treacly recording of it by a balalaika orchestra click here.

But can we leave coded messages for other people's girlfriends and wives?
You can. Just remember: the management is not responsible for lost or stolen personal property. So if someone asks for your credit card number, you give it out at your own risk. Please leave your credit card number below.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

What time are you picking my wife up?
Grumpy already picked your wife up. You made not have noticed it, but you've been having dinner with a parenthesis wearing your wife's clothing.

You know, you told that story about the electrical fire smell but you didn't actually deliver the punchline. Was there a fire or not?

Henny Youngman's wife is probably about the right age for grumpy.

The breadth of your reading and video-watching continues to astound me. How do you find the time to do laundry?

I really enjoy your writing style as well as some of your pals like Philly and Jon Evo. Sarge also has some good comments.
All right, I did not add this comment. So Dys must be Philly, Evo, or Sarge.

The blue banana is underneath the squirrel's right foot.
And the purple papaya is sitting on the armadillo's head. Now that we've got that straightened out: Did you realize you were late for your appointment with grumpy?

... by the time I get to reading the posts everything I would have said has already been said ...
I'm not sure that a person who's on Mojoey's Atheist Blogroll counts as a lurker, but I'm flattered to learn that you pop by here now and then. I can't believe that everything you would have said has already been said, though, since these comment threads do seem to meander. If all else fails, you could always leave an old Henny Youngman joke, or a link to a balalaika orchestra, or even just a couple of parentheses.

the chaplain said...

Ex said: Have you noticed what a great echo there is here in the Atheosphere?

Yes. It's even better than singing in the shower.

John Evo said...

Ex said: All right, I did not add this comment. So Dys must be Philly, Evo, or Sarge.

It wasn't me, though that clever spelling of "Jon" is a touch you might expect from me IF I were trying to throw you off. Which I'm not. :)

PhillyChief said...

If it were me, Dys would have spoken more about how great my writing is. ;)

Dysentery said...

Well, I'm actually not one of those guys. I can prove it too real logical-like.

As me a question about each one of them that only you they would know. If I get it wrong, then I can't be them. Right?!??!!

Dysentery said...

Gah. Sentence structure failing.

"you AND they".

If anything proves I'm not one of them, that should do it. Also, sorry about the moniker John.

Sarge said...

Actually, nothing was found. The women all wound up near a telephone pole and said they seemed to smell it most strongly there.

I wondered about some problem with a bare wire, but nothing was eveident even next day when I looked.

Psychodiva said...

I'll stick with the paretheses lol

and who the heck is henny Youngman????? please remember I'm a stiff Brit lol

The Exterminator said...


Henny Youngman was the quintessential one-liner comedian. Bang bang bang, one joke after another, sometimes in seemingly random order. Back when some of us old farts, like SI and I, were kids, Henny Youngman already seemed old-fashioned, and not very funny. His jokes were the kind that needed punctuation by a short drumroll and rimshot. Here are three examples:

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places. Ba-da-bing.

Those two are a fastidious couple. She's fast and he's hideous. Ba-da-bum.

My wife dresses to kill. She cooks the same way. Ba-da-boom.

Psychodiva said...

ROFL- I get it now - I tend towards the Henry Rollins vein of comedy :)