Christopher Hitchens and Scientific Thinking

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Chapter one, the discussion of the principles of scientific thinking, logical fallacies, and the discussion of other biases that get in the way of logical thinking will stick with me. Christopher Hitchens, who is my favorite outspoken atheist, implicitly uses these concepts when he debates about religion. I have a video of him making many of these arguments which is definitively worth watching. Watch! Hitchens had a beautiful mind!

Occam's Razor: Christopher Hitchens talks about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. He says, demonstrating the principle of parsimony: What is more likely? That all natural order is suspended, or that a Jewish mink should tell a lie? Watch: 1:30-1:50
The next segment of this video Hitchens asks about the spread of Christianity, he asks what is more likely: That Christianity spread because the innate truth of the Bible, or because Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Watch: 1:50-2:15

Extraordinary Claims: Hitchens talks about how the extraordinary claims the Bible make don't hold up to extraordinary evidence. He says how the claims come from "the less literate parts of the middle east. Don't appear to the Chinese where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let's go to the dessert and have another revelation there. Watch: 2:20-3:05

Principle of Falsifiability & Ad hoc immunizing hypothesis (escape hatch that defenders of a theory use to protect their theory from falsification) Hitchens says that all of science and world history could be part of god's plan and there is no way an atheist can disprove that. Essentially intelligent design as science can't be science because it is unfalsifiable. Watch: 3:05-3:25

Terror Management Theory (theory proposing that our awareness of our death leaves us with an underlying sense of terror with which we cope by adopting reassuring cultural worldviews): Hitchens explains the view of death he holds as an atheist. He explains the view of deaths theists have and why they use an afterlife as a comfort. Watch: 8:22-10:30


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Great examples of applying scientific thinking, I'm a fan of Hitches as well. It seems religion is one of the most psychology-related topics out there, in that the ideas of good and evil, a soul, and divine intervention are essentially retreats from the objective world into one's own mind, except these psychological mechanisms are treated as if they are objective in the world around us. Scientific thinking can clear up what's real from what's purely mental.

Hitchens is the best! I read his book Hitch last year and really enjoyed it. What a life. Wouldn't be wonderful to be in his circle of friends.

Very sad that he is gone. A real loss to the radical intellectual community.

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This page contains a single entry by alle0518 published on April 29, 2012 10:02 PM.

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