'Monkey Girl' and Religious Tribalism

I’m not sure what you’re saying anymore. It seems that the more I try to analyze and respond to it, you keep claiming that you’re actually saying something else. I’ve attempted to just choose to respond only to the latest iteration of what you’re saying and ignoring what seem to me are clear instances of moving the goalposts. But even that is not working. Perhaps we should just stop talking about this topic and calm down.

Terrorism in no way requires “a series of coordinated actions.” It is simply defined by its intended purpose.

Do YOU think you get a balanced picture of the US if you’ve only lived in the Boston area?

No. But I think I probably have a slightly more accurate picture of life in the US than someone living in Australia.

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I sincerely doubt that.

I understand that you think that. To be honest, I’m not interested in discussing this topic with you.

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I am getting increasing certainty that you never did.

  1. That would force me to reiterate each and every point I have made in each and every post I make. That is unworkable.

  2. The accusation of “moving the goalposts” would appear to be unsubstantiated and thus thoroughly Unpeaceful.

I have consistently stated that such toxic behavior is neither “exclusive” or unique to religion, and have consistently disavowed the opinion (that you have repeatedly imputed to me) that I consider it to be uniquely bad.

This does not however prevent me from considering the behavior to be very bad and comparitively rare in US society.

There are other, less toxic, ways to react to tribal conflicts: lawsuits, police complaints, and public protests for example. Most religious, racial, ethnic, or political groupings are willing to restrict themselves to these lawful means. This means that the few groupings that are willing to repeatedly break the law in order to get their way should be subjected to severe opprobrium from society as a whole, and increased scrutiny from law enforcement.

You may not wish to discuss this with @Mercer, but as the person who suggested that my “perception is biased in paying more attention to the bad things that are happening in the US”, I would suggest that you cannot reasonably avoid having this conversation with me.

I have already covered Murder – where the US rate is more than five times the rate of New Zealand’s or even Australia’s. This legitimately makes the US look like a third-world country from this side of the Pacific.

What other measures of quality of life would you like to put to the test? Infant mortality? Child poverty? Average life expectancy? Income inequality? Wealth inequality? Voter participation rates? Synthetic indices combining these and/or other measures?

To demonstrate that my “perception of the US is biased”, you first need to demonstrate it is inaccurate. You have not done so.

I’m not sure what your point is raising those statistics. Are you arguing that the US is more accurately described as a third world country rather than a developed country?

I also don’t know what these statistics to do with the Dover Trial, which was 15 years ago. Dover Trial may be interesting to many people on this forum, but in the larger scale of things it is not important enough to explain the quality of life in the US as a whole. Certainly I don’t deny that there are many aspects of life in the US which can be improved, and several aspects in which things have been worsening in the last few years.

I’m not trying to “demonstrate” that your perception of the US is biased. I just suggested the possibility, and wanted to encourage an open dialogue over our differing perceptions and how maybe each of us can get some useful input from the other. That is what Peaceful Science is all about - trying to find common ground, instead of constantly trying to win every point against your opponents. I’ve given you several outs in this conversation, by suggesting that maybe we don’t really disagree that much over the issues we discussed, for example my statement above:

However, so far you have rejected these implicit overtures of peace and prefer to treat this as a debate. I don’t think this kind of conversation will be very useful or edifying to either of us if that’s all we’re going to do.

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We are arguing that the US is a first-world country in a precipitous decline. That decline is all but invisible in daily life to those living in enclaves of educated people such as the Boston area’s massive university complex.

I would think it would be blindingly obvious, given the context.

In terms of its murder rate, yes.

If it is irrelevant, then so is your question of bias. In any case, my point was never only about Dover, but about what Dover (and conservative Christianity’s reaction to similar cases) tells us about American society.

It is a symptom, not a cause, as should also be blindingly obvious.

I would suggest that it goes beyond this, and that the US lags behind many other developed countries (and has so for considerable time) on a wide range of indicators.

And I would suggest that this “possibility” existed only in your head. I dismissed it, you would not let it go, so here we are. If we are going to have a “dialogue” it needs to have a factual basis, so pick your indicators. A factually-untethered discussion of “differing perceptions” is of no interest to me. It would devolve into vague hand-waving and anecdotal claims.

In this chart the US ranks 40th on political stability, 23rd on human rights, 52nd on health, and 44th on safety. (It’s overall ranking is considerably improved by its 2nd ranking in ‘popularity’.) This is not “third world”, but certainly not anything to be proud about.

Please tell me @dga471 how basing my opinion on these, and similar rankings and comparisons that I’ve seen reported, leaves me “biased” in my impressions of the US?

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I am not in fact making that argument, at least not principally. I would argue that the US has lagged for some time on a wide range of indicators. The only area that it seems to be in “precipitous decline” would be political stability (with democratic values/political responsiveness suffering a longer-term decline).

If we want to have a discussion it should be clear what we are discussing. Are you trying to argue that religious tribalism in the US is the major causal factor for 1) increased murder rates, 2) human rights violations, 3) worse health outcomes, and 4) worse safety?

If not, then what are you trying to argue, exactly?

Neither is it of interest to me. But numerical scores from random websites are not the only possible form of “factual data” about a country.

When was the last time the US did not lag behind other developed countries? Why do you think it lags now compared to then?

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Fair enough.

I would argue that the lagging is accelerating.

There’s also public health and prescription drug addiction, just off the top of my head.

I’m saying this as someone who grew up in a working-class city in the Midwest, lived in several very nice places in the US that are nothing like my hometown, then spent 5 years in India (visiting the US several times per year opened my eyes to our decline), and traveled around the country before settling in a nice university town.

I think you’re being too kind to the US.

Well put. It’s important to ascertain what is the thesis on the table for discussion.

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I would not disagree that prescription drug addiction is a major problem.

As far as public health goes, @dga471 does not seem to like worlddata.info, so I turned to OECD’s far more scattergun info here.

In both Life Expectancy and Infant & Maternal Mortality (which I took to be the key indicators), the US has been improving over the last couple of decades, but at a slower rate than the rest of the OECD, meaning that its ranking has slowly been declining (at no point in this time period was it in the top half of the 38 OECD countries on either statistic).

It is already clear what we are discussing:

Why are you AVOIDING the question @dga471?

It is an issue you raised.

As a follow up question, were you aware that the US does so poorly on this, or similar, surveys?

I am not currently making that argument – and have made no suggestion that I was doing so. I probably could make such an argument, but would be willing to do so only on a new thread.

Then suggest some other form of “factual data” that you consider more reliable or more relevant. (I’ve already also brought up murder rates, and levels of voter participation.) I’ve invited you to do so, but have heard nothing back from you.

What part of “and has so for considerable time” did you fail to comprehend?

It seems @dga471 that you aren’t even replying to my arguments, but to rather what some imaginery, less nuanced, more absolutist debater, that exists only in your head, would argue based upon the facts I present.

As that debater lives only in your head, I would ask you to keep your replies to him likewise only in your own head, and either respond to the arguments I actually make, or hold your peace.

My arguments have throughout eschewed, and often explicitly disavowed, that I consider the behavior, originally under discussion, to be “ubiquitous”, “exclusive” or “unique”. It is frankly offensive to me to see my arguments caricatured in this way. It is deeply disrespectful.

I don’t know for sure if your impression of the US is biased, because I’m not completely sure what that “impression” is. Again, it’s unclear what you’re trying to argue in this thread. It’s hard to know for sure because you treat almost everything like an adversarial statement, instead of one of open inquiry.

If your “impression” is just “US has rank X in criterion Y according to organization Z”, then of course I wouldn’t have any quarrel with that. That’s a simple fact. There’s no bias in that. But without any other context or discussion, these facts are no different than trivia. I don’t see how they are connected to the main topic of this thread, which was about the things which happened in the Dover Trial. You earlier said they are a “symptom” of the bad quality of life in the US as expressed in several statistical indicators. Is that the main point that you want to defend by bringing these up?

Yes, of course. Notice that I never claimed that the murder rates in the US are better than other countries. I also never claimed that the quality of life in the US is better than other developed countries. In fact, I have often complained about the healthcare system here, as well as the worsening political polarization in the last decade. That is why I’m unclear about the purpose of bringing up these statistics, because I never meant to argue against them.

Then clarify what is the wider point that you’re trying to argue by bringing up murder statistics, instead of saying that it’s “obvious”.

From the phrase “has so for a considerable time”, I deduce that “considerable time” refers to a long but finite amount of time, let’s say X amount of years. Thus, there must have been a time 2020-X when the US was not lagging behind these other developed countries on this “wide range of indicators”. What objections do you have against this reasoning?

Discussing online with people often requires rounds of clarification, rephrasing, and being misunderstood. Sometimes it is indeed very frustrating if people don’t understand your point or seem to mischaracterize your arguments. That has happened to me several times here too. However, I don’t mean any disrespect. If someone feels greatly offended and disrespected due to being misunderstood online, then I would advise them to step away until they are ready to continue, or simply stop. You have no obligation to continue discussing with me here, especially if it is not benefitting you at all.

In addition, @Tim, I would like to state that the tone of your own posts has been needlessly adversarial and hostile in this thread, and that is not the first time that this has happened in this forum. I think in general you should learn to not treat replies to your posts as trying to attack you or disprove your point.