William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Atheists More Religiously Tolerant Than Christians: It’s Science!

From the article.

From the article.

I meant this to go out on Saturday morning, but I pressed the wrong button and it went out late Friday afternoon. Apologies to those who receive this post twice.

Is there in these once United States any publication producing content as risible as Salon? Perhaps a contest is in order. It will be touch because competitors will have to sink below such offerings as “Evangelicals put to shame: Atheists tend to be more religiously tolerant than Christians” by Darren Sherkat.

Sure, it’s a “click-bait” title, designed to draw eyes searching for quick hit. But in this case, the author is also in earnest.

He’s also in a state of confusion. Before analyzing his “new research”, let’s see how he sets it up.

Tolerance is a hallmark of Western democracies. A core tenet of democratic societies is the freedom of religious and political expression, and even the most obnoxious and ridiculous views must be tolerated. Bad ideas are best conquered with good ideas rather than with repression.

By “tolerated” he means tarred and feathered and run out of town, proved by expressions like “Bake the cake!” and “Fire him!” Tolerance is one of those words that everybody uses but nobody believes. Skip it.

Sherkat says Christians and even some skeptics claim “radical Islam is best countered through jailing imams, preventing incendiary preaching, limiting access to radical Islamic literature and media, and discriminating against potentially radical Muslims.” He may be right about this. I’m all for discriminating against radical Muslims, and even radical Hindoos (to use the older spelling). Come to that, if I saw a Buddhist running amok with a hatchet, I’d be for discriminating against her, too. Or him. Only sexists think just men run amok. Skip that, too.

Anyway, Sherkat buzzed through the 2008-2014 General Social Surveys, which, like many sociology questionnaires, attempts to quantifies the unquantifiable. Let that pass. He looked at questions about “whether (1) Muslim clergy preaching hatred of the United States should be allowed to speak, (2) whether anti-American Muslim clergy should be allowed to teach in college, and (3) whether anti-American Muslim books should be allowed in the library.” He didn’t mention analyzing questions about suicide.

Now these questions were asked of norteamericanos below the 49th parallel only, and for us some words mean different things than for other English speakers. For instance atheist, for us, roughly means “strongly anti-Christian with anything from a vague dislike to a warm feeling for other religions.” Atheists here also tend to be “progressive” (attention Mr Orwell), and progressives are strongly prone to the (really quite silly) fallacy that Muslims are a race, and progressives love discovering new forms of “racism.” Thus, many atheists are anti-anti-Islam on the grounds of advertising their anti-racism. Many others are anti-anti-Islam because of their vehement anti-Christianity.

The plot at the top is Sherkat’s. That “tolerance” “scale” is the result of his cobbling together the questions listed above. The numbers themselves don’t mean much, except that they give some indication atheists are more pro-radical-Muslim—in the sense used in the questions listed—than are theists.

He also discovered Unitarians (defined as atheists who want somewhere to go Sundays) had higher scores than e.g. Mormons, Catholics, and Baptists.

In other words, not much, or really nothing, was learned. Sherkat could have asked any reader here about what to expect and saved himself the effort. Though we could have rewritten the title to “Atheists tend to be more welcoming of intolerant Muslims than Christians”.

Sherkat ends by suggesting that if “we accept and embrace even radical Islamists as part of our societies, welcoming refugees and respecting their rights” those accepted will become harmless. He says “Radical Islamists will be like the goofy street preachers carrying crosses on my college campus—they don’t convert anyone, they just look ridiculous.”

This is a charming view, utterly at variance with observational evidence. That some Muslims have and will move towards secularism is true, but it’s also been our experience that many will embrace more rigorous forms of Islam. This isn’t a problem for secularists like Sherkat, because you’re a racist. Or something.

No, I’m kidding. I have no idea why this isn’t a problem for Skerkat. I’m guessing he’d say that the Muslims who have on American soil turned murderous have done so because Baptists, Catholics, and Mormons, folks who share many similar cultural beliefs as Muslims, have expressed intolerance of radical Islamic beliefs, and that this intolerance on the part of Christians caused the intolerance of the misbehaving Muslims.

Psychologists surely have a name for this. Sherkat, and the Sherkat in other atheists, are absolutely blind to the idea that it is their own secularism that is problematic. Yet since that question hasn’t been asked, it can’t be “studied” by sociologists. What a strange position we’re in.

75 Comments

  1. First error in article—Tolerance is NOT and never was the hallmark of Western democracies. A completely fabricated nonsensical statement that ignores history and reality.

    It makes sense atheists would be more proradical muslim—they seem to lack even the slimmest of morals in many cases. And religion makes governmental dominancy so much harder. Government is a great religion to follow while saying one does not believe in god. Of course, they do believe in god, just not the Christian one.

    You know, I bet Sherkat wanted a rattlesnake and grizzly bear for pets as a child and his nasty parents wouldn’t let him have them.

  2. And male gay marriages are more stable than christian marriages.

  3. Briggs

    April 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Hans,

    Since there is no such thing as “male gay marriage”, this cannot be so.

  4. Hans: Even if there were such a thing as “gay marriage”, society has not pretended it exists for a sufficient amount of time to know if the rates are comparable, higher or lower. Thirteen years is insufficient to make such a statement. Come back in fifty years and try again. (Unless your statistics exclude all marriages prior to 2001.)

  5. Be brave. Put some color on the graph.

  6. Sheri and Briggs, you both just have again confirmed that atheists are even in general more tolerant than christians. 🙂

  7. acricketchirps

    April 9, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Hans, you mean atheists are more tolerant of people atheists agree with than Christians are of people Christians disagree with.

  8. acricketchirps

    April 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    My own marriage doesn’t have a gender, male or female (it does have sex–at least twice as little J and H attest) but it certainly IS as gay as we can possibly make it!

  9. acricketchirps

    April 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I mean to say forsooth, there’s such a thing as it.

  10. Hans Erren: Sure, but you’re assuming tolerance is a virtue. It is not.

  11. Hans & Cricket,
    It also may mean that they are bigger liars. Swearing on the Bible worked at one time, when belief was strong and widespread. Why anyone takes pencil and paper surveys seriously is beyond me.

  12. acricketchirps–many thanks and kudos for using “gay” in the sense for which God and John Meant meant it. Do you think the time will come when that meaning will prevail again (“light-hearted and carefree”–Oxford Dictionary)? And an apropos quote (from an old Bartlett’s–Google search gives only quotes with a homosexual connotation):
    “But who is this, what thing of sea or land–
    Female of sex, it seems–
    That so bedeck’d, ornate and gay,
    Comes this way sailing
    Like a stately ship…”
    John Milton, Samson Agonistes, Line 710
    Or maybe Milton did have the current meaning in mind.

  13. proofread, darn it… “Meant” —> “Milton”

  14. Briggs,

    The summum of hypocrisy:

    Yesterday you complain about not being able to use your money as you see fit. And today you complain that a baker as to bake a cake for something that you claim doesn’t exist, and preventing other people the right of spending their money as they see fit.

    Tolerance doesn’t mean letting intolerant bigot like you and most of your reader go unchallenged.

    People are free to complain to company about individual bigot that they put in highly visible position. The company has the right to choose if they want their business affected by that intolerant moron or not. If the moron doesn’t want to face the consequences of his speech than he is better keep silent.

    Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequences.. Donald Trump is starting to see the consequences of is speech among republican. And the republican are about to face the consequence of not giving him the nomination by having a third party presidential candidate that will divide their vote and lose them both chamber in congress and the presidential election. And a much more liberal judges than the one presently proposed.

    You retweeted someone complaining about PayPal decision in Georgia or Nothing Carolina state while doing business in other countries. While you were stupid enough to not realize that PayPal wasn’t boycotting doing business in the state. They decided to create job in a state where the elected politicians are not bigoted intolerant that legalize discrimination. Again this is a consequence of freedom of speech.

    When you ask a boycott no one care and no one loses business. When Disney, Marvel, Apple, PayPal and other stand up against intolerance they gain customers and don’t mind losing yours.

  15. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 9, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Apparently, having misgivings about boys using girls bathrooms in the schools is now “bigotry.” Defining deviancy down, indeed, as Prof. Moynihan once warned us.

  16. I may not be a statistician, but I detect a significant correlation between Sylvain’s logic and that used by schizophrenics.

  17. Scotian: Possibly, but I really do think more atheists than Christians think–without any lying–that it’s possible for two people of the same sex to {giggle} marry one another which is what Hans was going on about before Sheri and Briggs pointed out the difficulty.

  18. I like to give Sylvain the Ben o’ th Doubt since English is not his first language. He can correct me if I’m wrong–Sylvain, isn’t that why you sometimes come across as schizo?

  19. Thanks, Bob. Meant is one of my top ten favorite Protestant poets.

  20. YOS,

    “Apparently, having misgivings about boys using girls bathrooms in the schools is now “bigotry.” Defining deviancy down, indeed, as Prof. Moynihan once warned us.”

    What do you think happens in girls bathroom?

    All stalls are devided by walls. There iare no known cases of women attacked by a transgender in a women bathroom, yet there are thousands of cases were men attacked women in bathroom (it never incited the creation of new laws). There are also hundreds of incident where transgender (male to female) were attacked in male bathroom. Such laws just makes sure that more people will get raped or assaulted.

  21. acricketchirps,

    In the past year, and with the help of Briggs and Sheri, I lost much respect for the majority of people reading this and writing this blog.

    Extremist must be confronted.

  22. John: Sylvain will undoubtedly call you a “bigot” for that one. Of course, “bigot” now means “anything the Left wants to trample into the dirt” and changes in meaning minute by minute.

    acricketchirps: I agree. I think atheists are by nature “tolerant”. However, tolerance is not a virtue—it’s a way to behave badly and condemn anyone who dares say you are a bad or evil person. The goal is anarchy. Always was. Everyone can do whatever they wish with impunity as long as no rule is applied. You can even refuse to bake a cake as long as you just didn’t feel like it that day. No rule, no problem (honesty involved rules, so dishonesty is rewarded—religion is rules, so no religion allowed).

  23. My sister’s middle name is gay.

  24. @Sylvain:

    “Tolerance doesn’t mean letting intolerant bigot like you and most of your reader go unchallenged.”

    Given that Mr. Briggs not only tolerates your rudeness (I am from an old, bygone era, where it was considered rude and ill-mannered to insult the owner of the house, in his own house), but also your ill-thought, ill-written idiotic little rants, it follows he is *exceedingly* tolerant.

  25. “However, tolerance is not a virtue—it’s a way to behave badly and condemn anyone who dares say you are a bad or evil person.”
    Sheri it is not for you to condemn anyone.
    How many evil people do you know?
    You must go to the same places as Sylvain where all men are rapists.

  26. Thanks, Bob. Meant is one of my top ten favorite Protestant poets.

  27. Jimani Cricket:
    “Meant is one of my top ten favorite Protestant poets.”!
    What?

  28. Joy—
    a typo in my post, when I quoted Milton
    “which God and John Meant meant “–>”which God and John Milton meant”
    referring to the quote at the end of my comment.

  29. Bob,
    Just don’t let it happen again, I’m holding no prisoners today.

  30. Another example of the traduction of the English language see
    http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/102220.html
    for what “gay” used to mean and what the nasty connotation it has now.

  31. Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequences.

    Whatever that means. I’m a libertarian. I remain convinced that the bad guy an any situation is the one who first resorts to force.

  32. Joy: And a fine name “Gay” is.

    I know a few evil people. As for condemnation, I am mostly referring to behaviour, though behaviour and the person are pretty much one in the same. Interesting that you do not consider Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Little Kim, Lenin, Moa, etc as evil. You would call them just ordinary guys? Seriously?

    Your line of thought is why Hilter took over Europe in the past and Europe is being pillaged by Muslims today. The lack of condemnation of evil is giving approval to evil. If you don’t condemn it, you approve of it.

    (I’m taking no prisoners either.)

  33. Never heard of Vastenavond. Only Shrove Tuesday.
    Pancakes with lemon and sugar.
    My sister used to collect chocolate in a tin under her bed and say she was giving it up for lent. So she’d end up consuming far more chocolate than any other time of year.

    It is a shame about the word gay but the urban dictionary which uncle Bernie taught me about has almost everything listed and it’s always disgusting.
    YOS gave a good demonstration of this recently. I have held entire conversations not realising what the word really meant. Now I’m paranoid about it. Just don’t look anything up.
    I fear a few ‘bloggers’ on here have imbibed rather too much of it and think everybody else is speaking the same language. They’d be wrong.

  34. “I remain convinced that the bad guy an any situation is the one who first resorts to force.”

    This is often a very difficult thing to determine. Also the word force is poorly defined in this sentence.

  35. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 10, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    What do you think happens in girls bathroom?

    In the hypothesized situation, adolescent males get to gawk at lady parts. It saves them the trouble of drilling a hole through the wall into the girls locker room. Speak to some high school teachers who are under the gun. See below.

    There iare no known cases of women attacked by a transgender in a women bathroom

    All that is required in the new world order is that a man declare that he “feels” like a woman. Nothing requires him actually to undergo any surgery, nor can he be compelled to do so. (There have been a few cases here and there of a boy making such a declaration and then joining the girls sports team. There are no cases of assault largely because there have hitherto been few such individuals. It’s like driving under the influence of pot vs. driving under the influence of alcohol. There are few of the former because it hasn’t been legal until recently in a few jurisdictions. Those who do not think ahead, or suppose society made up of Vulcans, do not consider how things might go from here, given the folks who actually inhabit the real world. After all, even as recently as the 60s the idea that widely available birth control devices would eventually entail abortions was ridiculed — even by the NOW!

    It is not clear what you mean by “a transgender.” I had thought the latter to be an adjective. Are you denying their essential humanity by avoiding a noun? , And gender is a grammatical classification of nouns, no? As in “der Löffel, die Gabel, das Messer”: the spoon (m), the fork (f), the knife (n). Or the Latin, agrigola: farmer (f).

  36. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 10, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    the bad guy an any situation is the one who first resorts to force.

    Billy Budd

  37. YOS, Briggs’ enemies have turned on you. Apparently they don’t like latin farmers.

  38. “Interesting that you do not consider Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Little Kim, Lenin, Moa, etc as evil. You would call them just ordinary guys? Seriously?”

    I always know there’s a really bad argument coming after one of your “interesting”s.
    Next time you feel the urge to use the word interesting think again about what you are about to say because it’s probably untrue and usually a straw man.
    It is what Sylvain does. It is exaggeration, false, and intended as an insult.

  39. This is often a very difficult thing to determine.

    Pray tell.

    Also the word force is poorly defined in this sentence.

    That’s what dictionaries are for. I was thinking of the third sense reported by the folks at Merriam-Webster:
    “violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing”

  40. Or the Latin, agrigola: farmer (f).

    I think the correct spelling is agricola.

  41. And gender is a grammatical classification of nouns, no?

    I was always amused that Mädchen and Fräulein were neuter. Why? Because, in German, a diminutive is neuter.

  42. Joy: It’s not a straw man. Not at all. You’re avoiding answering by making up a fallacy so you don’t have to answer.

    “Sheri it is not for you to condemn anyone.
    How many evil people do you know?”

    Unless you are saying some can condemn away all day and yet I have to be silent, you did say no one can call Hitler or anyone else evil and condemn them. If you meant only some people can condemn, you’ll need to be more clear in that next time.

    So answer. Or admit you can’t and are just skirting around the issue in the hopes I won’t realize you’re being a hypocrite. If you don’t like my answer, maybe you shouldn’t use the word anyone since all the people I mentioned are included in that word.

  43. Geezer,

    You own a wood lot and someone drives up and starts cutting down and hauling away trees. What do you do without resorting to your dictionary definition of force, either you or the police? Your simplistic aphorism must be heavily interpreted to fit individual cases, that is, the word force is poorly defined. The legal code attempts, albeit imperfectly, to deal with these cases.

  44. You own a wood lot ….

    Is the trespasser resorting to force? What does the law say?

  45. Geezer,

    To ask the question is to concede that your one sentence aphorism is of limited use. The Billy Budd example of YOS was excellent as well.

  46. Scotian,

    You were the one who first said “The legal code.”

    I asked whether the trespasser was resorting to force and what The legal code has to say about that question.

  47. Geezer: If we eliminate “violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing”, your options are to politely ask the person to leave and if they do not, you can watch them haul off your wood.

  48. constraint exerted upon or against a … thing … your options are …

    No, ma’am. If the trespasser is the first to resort to force, I get to shoot him. Seem extreme? He better stay off my property. If a guy like me is on my jury (assuming I get charged) the verdict is “not guilty.”

  49. If the trespasser is the first to resort to force …

    And until that time, your options are what Sheri said, namely, you can ask them to leave or simply watch them chop away. So, why would they see a need to resort to force? You can’t do much of anything to stop them without you becoming the one in the wrong.

  50. YOS,

    “All that is required in the new world order is that a man declare that he “feels” like a woman.”

    It’s a lot more complicated than that. People just don’t go and becomes transgender. The process involves hundreds of hours of psychotherapy before the person moves ahead with his or her sex change.

    The same goes with the XY XX. Usually attributed to male and female doesn’t prevent female with XY chromosome and male with XX chromosome. It happens at a rate of about 5/100000.

    So if physics, which is an exact science, is not 100% accurate than why should the psychologic, which is not an exact science, be more accurate.

  51. Geezer,

    “I asked whether the trespasser was resorting to force and what The legal code has to say about that question.”

    He is committing trespass and theft, which is not covered by your aphorism. You might come up with creative interpretations of force to cover the situation but then that defeats the purpose of your claim to a simple statement of principle. If you try to claim that cutting down trees is violence against trees you enter a looking glass world since this physics definition of force can apply to anything that involves motion (i.e. walking, breathing air).

  52. He is committing trespass and theft, which is not covered by your aphorism.

    Yes it is. The definition of force I quoted included this: “constraint exerted upon or against a … thing.” Trespass is defined as “an unlawful act committed on the person, property, or rights of another; especially : a wrongful entry on real property.” In other words, both trespassing and theft constitute a resort to force. Perhaps the folks at Merriam-Webster inhabit “a looking glass world.” The “physics definition of force” is better described in senses 1a(1) and 4a in the source I cited.

  53. “There are no known cases of women attacked by a transgender in a women bathroom”

    Lol, that’s because if and when a man actually does do this he is/would no longer be considered “transgender”. Transgender changes definition to suit the agenda (like every buzzword used by leftists).

    According to LGBT logic, a person is whatever gender he claims to be at any given moment. If said person’s gender “does not match his sex” (whatever that even means), he is transgender—But why do we use the same words to refer to sex and gender when they are different things? To confuse the public. And why should subjective gender take precedent over objective bio sex in society and law? Because man is his own god and should thus determine reality.— Of course gender can’t be measured or confirmed in any objective manner (that’s the whole point). Despite that LGBTs will be quick to tell you when someone is NOT transgender. And that’s when said person does something that sets back their agenda. A similar logic is used to rationalize the LGBT stance that “gays don’t sexually abuse children” because even in those cases in which men exclusively seek out and sexually abuse boys they are actually “heterosexual”. Likewise absolutely no transgender mtf will take advantage of being in or around private women’s spaces, (even though we’re told “orientation” and “gender identity” are seperate entities.) Transsexuals are apparently super human, like “gay parents” immune to committing those sins of the “evil heterosexuals”. Since this is the only “objective” factor of transsexuals we know that if someone were to take advantage of women/girls in a private women’s space that such a person could not be a “true transexual”. Of course none of this even matters since a transgender bathroom bill would allow ANY man who claimed to be a woman into a women’s space. Unless LGBTs propose some objective standard of determining the “true transexuals” from the imposters that can be used to keep “evil heterosexual males” out of private women’s spaces their point is moot.

  54. “ It’s not a straw man.”
    My argument was very clear. You reframed the argument and then knock it away. This is a straw man.
    It’s cheesy because all straw men are and all references to them are so obvious that I am loathed to even use the phrase. You must be oblivious.

    False dichotomy, your other favourite technique, is the obvious presentation of two possible cases or propositions wherein the opponent is left with a false choice.

    It’s not rocket science, it’s quite plain and simple. You made a rather silly remark which was, it seems now, meant in earnest. Instead of admitting you defend the indefensible.

    “Unless you are saying some can condemn away all day and yet I have to be silent,”
    No, you are again inventing what happened. I said it is not for you to condemn anyone. If you are excusing your condemnation because it’s what you like to do it alters not that I say “it is not for you to condemn anybody.”

    “If you meant only some people can condemn, you’ll need to be more clear in that next time.”
    The point is clear. If it isn’t you only have to ask rather than resulting to obfuscation and prevarication.

    “So answer. Or admit you can’t and are just skirting around the issue in the hopes I won’t realize you’re being a hypocrite. If you don’t like my answer, maybe you shouldn’t use the word anyone since all the people I mentioned are included in that word.”
    That is utterly disingenuous (The above quote).Check the chronology of your pleasant Hitler remarks.

    I Missed this one, too:
    “Your line of thought is why Hilter took over Europe in the past and Europe is being pillaged by Muslims today.”
    This is the most incredibly stupid thing to say. There are no words Sheri. Does this methodology remind you of anyone?
    To bring Hitler up after the fact and then pinned him on me! How funny.

  55. Joy: I am finished responding to your sense ramblings.

  56. There’s nothing like a bit of sense.

  57. Sheri
    I agree. I think atheists are by nature “tolerant”. However, tolerance is not a virtue—it’s a way to behave badly and condemn anyone who dares say you are a bad or evil person.

    So they are intolerant of anyone who dares say you are (one is?) a bad person.
    I think we should agree that toleration of persons and toleration of good things (that happen to annoy us because of our weakness) are virtues, while tolerance of evil and vice is in itself evil and vicious.

    Sylvain:
    Extremist must be confronted.

    Do you also confront and call out extremists way far out on the left wing over at say Daily Kos or the New York Times (you voice-of-calm-reason-albeit-sometimes-coming-across-as-schizo-on-accout-of-the-language-barrier, you)?

  58. acricketchirps: I think I agree with you. Tolerance of evil is not a virtue. Tolerance of differences of opinion is prudent. The trick is to be able to tell the difference.

  59. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    If said person’s gender “does not match his sex”

    A solution suggests itself. Since the proper use of a bathroom is for specific biological functions, the law can simply require that one uses that bathroom that is suited to one’s biological “sex,” regardless of “gender” or “orientation.”

  60. Interlocutors:
    To assert that Evil should not be tolerated is to preach to the choir. It is worse: Atheists and agnostics who believe in the existence of Evil would not need a lesson in why Evil should not be tolerated. That is if they are blessed with common sense.
    Introduction of the side show evil list of dictators is superfluous.

    The post is about religious tolerance and couched in terms that imply that it IS a virtue and that Atheists possess it more than those who believe in God.

    I suggest that you look up virtue as defined by most religions,;philosophers and ancient tradition; Christian gifts of The Holy Spirit and fruits of The Holy Spirit.
    Of all ancient traditions, major religions and philosophies, the following, inter alia, are considered virtues:
    Forbearance,
    Long-suffering,
    Patience

    All require tolerance.
    It is a statement of the obvious to say “tolerance of Evil is not a virtue.”
    Like saying,
    “love of the Devil is not a virtue.”
    The basis of the study, as always, with such studies, is loaded, false and politically motivated. It is riddled with problems, essentially, because it is based upon a false notion so it was doomed to failure.

  61. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I suggest that you look up virtue

    Virtues are “strengths.” [Note the root “vir-“, but women may also be virtuous.]

    They are exercises for strengthening the soul. Those who do not believe in soul may be at a loss and simply play along by rote. They serve the same role for the soul as other exercises do for the body. Mens sana in corpore sano. Thus it is exactly analogous when we say “a lack of exercise is bad for you.”

    Since the rational soul consists of intellect and will, the virtues divide into the intellective and the volitional. The intellect is strengthened by A. The intellectual virtues.
    1. Understanding is the habit of principles;
    2. Knowledge is the habit of proximate causes;
    3. Wisdom is the habit of ultimate causes.

    The root of this triad is understanding, since without a firm grasp of principles, neither science nor wisdom is possible. Wisdom judges both understanding and its principles and also knowledge and its conclusions.

    But it is not enough to think well, we must also act well; that is, act according to reason and not blind impulse or passion. The principle here is not the intellect, but the will, more specifically the end the will seeks. There must be a fourth intellectual virtue:

    4. Prudence, which puts reason into a state to determine the means to that end.(*)

    As prudence is the culmination of the intellectual virtues, so is she the root of the moral ones:

    1. Justice regulates our acts independently of our dispositions as regards what is due or not due to another.

    Two sins against Justice are ‘capitalism’, which is greed rampant, and ‘socialism’, which is envy rampant; although virtuous men may engage in both by controlling their greed and envy. Consumerism, which is opposed to both, is gluttony rampant, and falls into a the next category; namely, our interior dispositions at the moment of acting. These dispositions lead to the other two moral virtues.

    2. If we are drawn by passion toward an act contrary to reason, we must call upon temperance.
    3. If we are impeded by fear or sloth from acting as reason says we ought, we must call upon courage.

    The moral virtues perfect the will just as the intellectual virtues perfect the intellect. No one is blameworthy for being a bad scientist or a bad artist; but very much so for being an extortioner, a drunkard, or a coward. Those who do not believe in the will may find these virtues problematic.

    Virtue [strength] stands in the middle, the ancient Romans were fond of saying. Thus, courage (e.g.) is a middle ground opposed to cowardice on the one side and foolhardiness on the other.

    Each of these seven “cardinal” [primary] virtues can be subdivided by those interested into many more particular ones. Forbearance, for example, is a kind of temperance, and may also be regarded as a form of prudence.* Humor or play is a virtue related to temperance. (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3168.htm)

    (*) a definition of prudence: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape / You don’t spit into the wind / You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger / And you don’t mess around with Jim.”
    https://youtu.be/odkIEDi2x0g

  62. YOS: Great definition of prudence! 🙂

  63. YOS,
    Crushing spirits, or making the attempt in a very overtly constructed way is cruel, unkind, not gentle and I will yield to no one if I see it.
    Forbearance is mercy particularly towards your enemy.
    Prudence is wisdom. That is it’s synonym.
    Prudence is good decisions or actions founded on wisdom.
    Wisdom is intellectual or learned, acquired knowledge about truth. One could just use the OED if we were in any doubt.
    I don’t even know what the above first number 1 means. Understanding? you mean in the sense of interacting with others or with the world? There is a difference. Compassion requires understanding. Intellectual understanding is not entirely sufficient, for loving kindness and compassion. Understanding in the intellectual sense requires rather too much intellect and not enough feeling understanding intellectually falls short. It is necessary but not sufficient in dealing with others who are different.

    Soul? Well, YOS, like Ed Feyser, you’re guessing.
    If it’s all the same to you, I’ll let that deeply be.
    Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom in a woman but never in a man.
    Nearly true not really true.
    I think that’s about it. It is very late.

  64. YOS, normally I respect your reasoning but this, “Two sins against Justice are ‘capitalism’, which is greed rampant …” is nonsense. Capitalism is the realization that you must save (i.e. accumulate capital) before you can increase productivity and the wealth of a society. It is the only means of doing so and the alternative is abject poverty. The vow of poverty may be a virtue for monks but they can only do so through the generosity of others who they hypocritically consider less virtuous. Heinlein said it best:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.This is known as “bad luck.”.” and they use capital.

  65. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 11, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Soul? Well, YOS, like Ed Feyser, you’re guessing.

    It’s much more obvious in Latin or Greek. No guessing: anima (soul) is simply what a living body has that its corpse does not.
    Who is Feyser?

    The analysis from Aristotle and Aquinas on the intellective and moral virtues was intended to build on your comment. You seem to think it was taking issue.

    Colloquial usage is seldom reliable in a technical subject. The main problem is that there are too many different words often overlapping in their meanings.

  66. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 11, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I was using “capitalism” in its historic sense. I added that for men of virtue, capitalism is not a problem. But when they grind the faces of the poor, use the government to restrict competition or to use eminent domain to evict widows for their corporate benefit, and so on, that is not merely the private ownership of the means of production.

    The same is true of socialism and of consumerism.

    Heinlein had some useful insights, but he was not a keen student of history.

  67. YOS, those other problems that you mention are indeed problems, but they are not capitalism. I know that people like to use the term crony capitalism but this is criticism by word association as one could just as easily call it crony socialism. Better is just cronyism or perhaps corporatism. What does capitalism in its historic sense mean? Is it like Roman Catholicism in its historic sense with its association with heretic burning? Or maybe it is the historic meaning of the geometry used for land surveying in its connection to the greed of the highland clearances. Clearly geometry is greed rampant.

  68. ‘capitalism’, which is greed rampant,

    The folks at Merriam-Webster define capitalism as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” They define free market as “an economic market or system in which prices are based on competition among private businesses and not controlled by a government.”

    when they grind the faces of the poor, use the government to restrict competition or to use eminent domain to evict widows for their corporate benefit, and so on, that is not merely the private ownership of the means of production.

    (My emphasis.) That is correct. But “private ownership of the means of production” is only part of the definition of capitalism. The abuses of government power you describe are the antithesis of a free market. See laissez–faire.

  69. “The analysis from Aristotle and Aquinas on the intellective and moral virtues was intended to build on your comment. You seem to think it was taking issue.”

    “Those who do not believe in soul may be at a loss and simply play along by rote.” maybe, who knows. If they are male or female it makes no odds. I understand that at one point Romans believed virtue was only manly. Chivalric virtue or honour was also a male ideal (and the Romaphiles are claiming chivalry too) Virtue, as remarked, are many and varied. Religions, philosophies and traditions all speak of virtue. The point was that patience, forbearance, long-suffering and add temperance entail tolerance.

    To mechanically dissect the soul “A” and “B”.
    I don’t subscribe to that description. However it’s the certainty and high handed writing of Ed, who I made up, that I object to. I’m sure, if he were to exist, he’d be a very nice man indeed but as he doesn’t it’s a counter factual.

    A small child can understand that once the body is a corpse it is missing something. No need for ancient translation!

    Only “Two sins against Justice”? I tend to think much more about criminal justice than economics I still wonder why you’d say there are only two sins against justice. Given the topic and an old definition probably, I now understand.
    Perverting the course of justice would be a contemporary example. Or not being “even handed” would be an informal example.

    On capitalism which is the most successful system historically it leaves freedom of choice of the individual which is vital for national stability. Always the willing horse gets the most work, always the usual suspects are in handcuffs and always some go to church and some don’t.

    Virtue cannot be effectively enforced by government in any high degree without failure of the system. Churches haven’t faired that well either. People still have the choice of going to church, as they should, and if the church wants to keep it’s members and congregation it will have to be more creative and more attractive. Telling people off every week won’t do.

    When I was 15 I attended Christchurch Chorleywood. They had services that differed in style rather than in message. I looked them up online the other day and they’ve gone very Happy Clappy now. If more clergymen were able to answer intellectual questions about God, like you YOS, more people of a certain age would go to church but they can’t so people don’t. go. It’s no use being grumpy about it, not that I’m saying you are grumpy but plenty are.

    Douglas Murray made me think about something forgotten by many anti religious who would push ‘tolerance’ by law. In Church, people from the local area of different backgrounds sat together and exchange ‘signs of peace’ and so on. This meant that people subliminally learned tolerance and other virtues without having to be told artificially how to treat people.

    There’s something in the ‘fellowship’ of going to church that is particularly acute when you don’t know the other people. The common thread is apparent and poignant somehow. Humility sneaks in.

  70. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    The abuses of government power you describe are the antithesis of a free market.

    That’s why I specified “history.” That some halcyon folks dedicated to principle may refrain from exploiting the government for their own profits does not mean that the general run as encountered in real life, and uninformed by a second nature founded on the cardinal virtues, will not use whatever means lie at hand to maximize their personal well-being at the expense of their workers (or even of their customers). The love of theory is the root of all evil and the textbook stereotype of capitalism must always be stacked against the real world examples. The same applies to socialism, which can likewise be defined into harmlessness, so long as one disregards historical examples. Socialists will dismiss references to the Soviet Union and elsewhere as “not real socialism” in just the same manner.

    It is the lack of virtue that corrupts both these enterprises to the sorry state in which they are so often found. The same applies to consumerism, which has not been formalized as an economic system; but as John Lukacs took note in (iirc) The Passing of the Modern Age, when capitalism fell it was not to socialism but to consumerism.

  71. Somehow, I am reminded how I would test my younger brother to make sure he could memorize verses in the Three Character Classic and the Analects as if the more he could memorize the better person he would turn out to be.

  72. ‘Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was nice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives mouthes.” Bertrand Russell.
    (I’m guessing that Aristotle had one too many himself, teeth, I mean.)

    JH,
    Yes, knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

  73. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

    The rule in olden times was “one child, one tooth.” Calcium loss during pregnancy led to loss of teeth among women. (http://www.1800dentist.com/study-reveals-link-between-pregnancy-and-tooth-loss/) Since women were marriageable at twelve, virtually every adult woman Aristotle would ever have met would have had few teeth than men. This is in addition to women in whom the wisdom teeth never erupt.

    Here’s what Aristotle actually wrote:

    ”Males have more teeth than females in the case of men, sheep, goats, and swine; in the case of other animals observations have not yet been made.”
    — Aristotle, On the Parts of Animals, Book III.

    So it would appear that Aristotle did not discount observation. He was simply misinformed about the observation or about its interpretation. (No fact is self-explaining,)

    So, Bertrand Russell maintained that Aristotle discounted observation. Although he was literate, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining Aristotle’s writings.

  74. The love of theory is the root of all evil and the textbook stereotype of capitalism must always be stacked against the real world examples.

    What does the word capitalism mean?

    When I wonder what a word might mean, my first resort is to a dictionary. A dictionary is not a textbook of economic theory and does not purport to be one. It simply reports what a word means according to common usage. It does not pass judgment on whether the word is good or bad, harmful or harmless; just the way people use it. Which is why I quoted a dictionary instead of dreaming up my own definition and calling it “history.”

  75. Did someone bring up transgenders and bathrooms?

    A rape survivor has something to say about it:
    http://thefederalist.com/2015/11/23/a-rape-survivor-speaks-out-about-transgender-bathrooms/

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