Comment Policy

Climate Denialists and Conspiracy trolls, take note:

BSJ will quickly delete any comments with words to the effect of “climate change is a scam,” “AGW is just an attempt by the elite to implement new taxes.” “You are a member of the Al Gore cult,” etc. Also deleted without apology will be any reference to the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job,” “false flag attack” any references to Alex Jones or any other execrable conspiracy theories. If you think or write along these lines, you need to have your grey matter checked for serious damage.


Submissions:

Black Sun Journal accepts submissions about atheism, science, critical thought, religion, religious violence, cult survival stories, religious de-conversion, the energy transition, and just about anything else which promotes a scientific or humanistic world view. If you have something to say that’s too long for a comment (more than, say, 700 words), please submit your article to sean at seanprophet dot com.

Black Sun Journal moderates comments, subject to the following criteria:

Black Sun Journal makes no pretense of being a completely free and open forum. It is a site for rational inquiry based on materialist realism and evidence. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you should ask yourself “What the hell are you doing here?” We respect facts over feelings, and consider that personal opinions are only valid if they are supportable. You may at this point want to trot out Nietzsche about “facts and interpretations.” Fine and dandy. But some interpretations are better than others–in that they correspond more closely to reality. If “objective reality” is unattainable, we’re trying to get as close as we can, and we see no harm in making the effort.

We unapologetically offer commentary and philosophy on the human condition, and the inevitable transition toward greater reason and away from superstition. Our methods to end belief are focused on critical thought, introspection, political action, persuasion, and when all else fails–a healthy dose of ridicule. We eagerly anticipate the maturing of the human species out of its childhood of religion and violence toward an adult culture of ever-increasing knowledge. We encourage and welcome intelligent discussion and reader feedback on our posts. (Which means before commenting, you should take the time to read more than just the latest post to gain some background, have some knowledge of critical thought, and be able to avoid the worst of the logical fallacies.) We unabashedly promote science as the only coherent world view.

This is obviously not a site for religious apology or new-age psychobabble. Ending these destructive beliefs and superstitions is our stated goal, (though it should go without saying any such goal rejects violence or coercion). If your faith can’t endure the harsh light of reason and/or mockery, maybe you should get rid of it. If you aren’t willing to ruthlessly question your premises, if you’re looking to have your beliefs ‘respected,’ please close your browser window and never come back. Thanks.

BASIC RULES:

  1. Comments must be substantive and relevant to the post.
  2. No religious apology.
  3. Comments must be in your own words. Short citations or blockquotes are acceptable. Lengthy cut-and-paste articles in the comment section may be deleted. If you would like to reference an article, please use a link.
  4. Ad Hominem attacks on authors or other commenters will not be accepted.
  5. Pick a simple clear user name and stick with it. Letters and numbers are acceptable. No punctuation or symbols. If I find someone using multiple names or handles with a bunch of symbols, they will be instantly banned.
  6. Did I mention no religious apology?
  7. Comments with large numbers of links may be held up in the spam queue.

There are only so many hours in the day. We’d like to spend ours furthering the cause of human freedom, learning about new ideas and philosophies, asking interesting questions, and gaining interesting perspectives. What we won’t do is rehash old arguments and spend still more time on things that most of us have already spent years sorting out. We would like to help you to find reason, but we’re not going to nursemaid or spoon-feed you. You’ve got to do your own homework. We are open-minded, but not so much that our brains are falling out. Therefore, here is a list of topics that will get you banned faster than we can hit the “delete comment” button:

COMMENTS THAT WE’VE HEARD TOO MANY TIMES BEFORE, AND WILL GET YOU BANNED:

  1. Religious Apology, proselytizing or witnessing. It doesn’t matter if you believe it, saw it, or felt it. Sorry, one person’s reported experience is less than meaningless without strict corroboration under scientifically valid conditions. Bring us the evidence. With regard to morality, it is obvious that religious organizations do good in the world. While atheists and humanists are quick to acknowledge this truth, it seems believers are loath to accept religion’s pitfalls. Here are a couple of stunningly stupid comments along those lines to show you the kind of morally and intellectually bankrupt religious apology we’re really sick of:
    • In response to a review of Fall from Grace, a film about Fred Phelps hateful Westboro Baptist Church, the “no true Scotsman” fallacy: “A bunch of religious zealots that do not speak for christians nor is there anything in the bible to support their thinking and actions only rebuke.” Wrong. Phelps and his gang claim to be Christian, and they referred to the actual bible quotes (Romans 1, to be exact) to support their hatred and harassment campaign.
    • In response to the story about Christian Sponsored Nigerian Witch Hunts, the commenter claimed: “Christians should never take the word of men only, we have a duty and responsibility to pray, read, study and discern for ourselves his scriptures making absolutely sure our “minister” is on the right track” Brilliant. Then what’s the point of religion? If people are supposed to figure it out for themselves, what’s the point of having scripture or leaders? How is a believer supposed to know which parts of scripture to follow with all the cherry-picking going on? What good is a text that contradicts itself and requires constant interpretation? What is to be said about a moral system that empowers leaders with ‘divine authority,’ but then holds followers responsible for ‘discerning’ when the leaders go astray?
    • In the story about the murder of Rudy Boa by a creationist over an argument about evolution: “Sounds like two men with a heated argument that went overboard, it happens all the time for the most asinine reasons. You can’t blame an ideology for one man’s stupidity because the same can done to yours and trust me evolutionist / atheist have been just as responsible, so don’t get on your high horse.” Again, this commenter is taking none of the blame when religious beliefs lead people to do evil things. “No true Scotsman” once again, then he throws in the “tu quoque” fallacy for good measure.
    • In a story about a father in Canada who strangled his 16-year-old daughter who refused to wear her hijab, the commenter cited cultural relativist justifications and once again tried to let the religion off the hook. “This deals more with culture than religion. People from that region (Pakistani, East Indian, Middle Eastern etc…) believe the father is a highly respected figure head therefore must be obeyed.” So it’s OK for Pakistani, East Indian, and Middle Eastern fathers to kill their daughters. Sick. Just sick.
  2. Circular arguments referencing scripture to support belief in scripture.
  3. Relativism, “tu quoque” fallacy: Comments bearing the tu quoque fallacy will be deleted. (In other words, stating that atheism and religion are both equally bad, two sides of the same coin, both guilty of us/them thinking, atheism is a ‘belief system,’ etc.). If that’s what you think, this site is not for you. We assert that religion is a coercive phenomenon involving scripture, group psychology, and social control. Atheism has no scripture or foundational text, and supports individual inquiry and freedom of thought, tempered by empirical observation and reason.
  4. Mysticism, espousal of spirit-matter dualism and critiques of “reductionism” or “naive realism.” This includes new-age interpretations of quantum theory.
  5. Equating atheism with the crimes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot or Mao. This is a red-herring. Read your history (or the Hitchens book). Totalitarian states were and are personality cults and were and are in every way state-religions. When it has suited them, they have co-opted existing religions, and at other times, they have brutally suppressed them. Dictatorships, communist or otherwise, are an extension into the modern world of the “divine right of kings.” As an alternative to these coercive systems, we advocate humanism, which is neither the enforcement nor the eradication of religion, but a redirection of the religious impulse into the private sphere, and a focus on the prolonging of human life and the elimination of human suffering.
  6. ‘Positivism is dead’ or the ‘Enlightenment has failed.’ Please don’t tell us that Popper had it wrong or quote Godel’s incompleteness theorem to prove that knowledge is inherently inconsistent and therefore “nothing can be known.” We may never be able to effectively answer conundrums like the problem of induction, or come up with a fully consistent mathematics. Nor are we likely to ever find out the origin of the universe. But it’s not necessary to know everything to know something.
  7. Faith in science. Debunked here.
  8. Conspiracies. ‘Nuff said.

LEGAL: Black Sun Journal reserves the right to use your comments at its discretion. By commenting, you release interest in and grant license to use all content posted here, including but not limited to the “promotion” of the comments and use in future postings. Black Sun Journal does not have a duty to modify or withdraw any posts. If there’s a problem or factual error you want corrected, send an email request, and we’ll most likely honor it. By commenting, you agree to hold Sean Prophet and Black Sun Journal harmless from any liability which may arise from statements you make.

Also, for your enjoyment and perusal, here are the comment guidelines from Skeptico. You can consider that all of these guidelines also apply here. Or you can just go by the short rule: Don’t be a dick (or a bitch).

Skeptico’s Comment Guidelines:

I recently turned on comment moderation due to the actions of a small number of commenters – actions I felt would drive away people genuinely interested in exploring the issues discussed on this blog. I hope at some time be able to remove comment moderation, but whether I do or not you should read these commenting guidelines.Comments are for people to explore the issues raised by the posts in more detail – to add additional information or references, and to cover things you think I missed or got wrong in my original post. Clearly this means many people will post disagreeing with what I have written, and will often disagree vigorously, and this is OK. Sometimes people may even be a little insulting or will use some bad language. This is understandable and OK to a point. But where the comments are just insulting without any content, and/or if the bad language is just gratuitous or excessively vulgar, the tone can be such that other people are discouraged from reading this blog. This is what I want to avoid. With this in mind, please note the following list of things that will get your posts deleted and possibly get you banned from commenting. Where reasonable I will give warnings to violators before deleting posts and/or banning people.

Excessive Profanities: I realize that sometimes only a well placed F word will express how you really feel – just don’t go overboard. Where I consider profanities to be gratuitous or excessive, or where the noise to signal ratio is too high, I will delete posts.

Off Topic: Please stick to the topic of the original post. Comments that are wildly off-topic may be deleted.

Posting Names and Sock Puppets: Please use a name in the “Name” box. It doesn’t have to be your real name but please use the same name each time you post a comment. Anyone I find using sock puppets – posting different comments under different names – will be instantly banned. You don’t have to validate with an email address.

Copy and Paste: Please do not copy and paste massive amounts of screed, and especially don’t do this implying it is your own work. Copy a few paragraphs if you want with a link to the full article.

Signal to Noise Ratio: I understand that sometimes you wish to post insults about another commenter – just make sure please that the majority of what you post is reasoned argument, reasonable questions to another commenter, citations, answers to questions etc. If people read paragraph after paragraph of just personal insults they will likely be driven away.

Please note, I will be extremely flexible and easy going in applying these rules. I don’t want to put people off commenting and I especially don’t want dissenters or non-skeptics to feel they can’t post exactly how they feel. But only post comments please if you are actually interested in reasoned debate, or in imparting some valid information about the subject in hand. The overriding rule is simple – don’t be a jerk. If you honestly follow that rule there will be no problem.

Fallacies: While the above might be considered “rules”?, there follows a summary of fallacious arguments we have all heard before - arguments that you might like to avoid using. Please read the following summary of fallacious arguments – read the more detailed explanations at the links – and unless you can explain why these are not fallacies, expect to be ridiculed if you use any of these arguments. Up to you of course.

In no particular order, you should try avoiding the following:

The appeal to be open-minded

The really lame fallback of the non-skeptic. An open mind is open to all ideas, but it must be open to the possibility that the idea could be true or false. It is not closed-minded to reject claims that make no sense, but if you can’t accept the possibility that an idea might be false, then you are the closed minded one.

The appeal to other ways of knowing

An example of this would be to claim that alternative medicine can’t be tested by science. Science has proved to be the most reliable method we know for evaluating claims and figuring out how the universe works. If the you claim there is a better method, it is up to you to describe that better method and explain why it is better.

The appeal to “science doesn’t know everything”

This would include, for example, pointing out that that for hundreds of years nobody could prove the presence of atoms, electricity or radio waves, or that people used to think the Earth was flat. Of course, these things are true and science doesn’t know everything, but the corollary is not that any idea you like the sound of, that cannot be proven false, is worthy of consideration. Something is only worthy of consideration if there is a reason to suppose it is true. So please provide one.

The appeal to “science was wrong before”

This argument will be to point out previous errors in science, as if that justified your claim. Of course science is sometimes wrong, but science has proven the most reliable method we know for evaluating claims and figuring out how the universe works. This argument is just a smoke screen to disguise the fact that the you have no evidence for your claim.

Ad Hominem

Not a mere insult, as most people think. It means attacking the motives or qualifications of the person making the claim, rather than the evidence they present for their claim. Examples would be to call someone a “Pharma Shill” to indicate they were perhaps being paid by the pharmaceutical companies to write what they are writing. The motives of the person making the argument are irrelevant; only the data are important. You need to show exactly what is wrong with the actual data.

Equivocation

This is when you use the same word in different meanings in an argument, implying that the word means the same each time. For example, someone asserts that I have “faith” in science, and then implies this is the same as religious faith. Obviously they are different.

Appeals to Quantum Mechanics

Please don’t bother telling us that if only we understood quantum mechanics we’d know that your brand of woo is real. First, several people who comment here regularly understand QM fairly well and will quickly expose your ignorance. Second, and more importantly, you will need to explain exactly how QM proves your point. And citing What The Bleep Do We Know as a reference will not cut it.

Also, please see this list or this list of additional fallacious arguments to avoid, as well as this list of Doggerel to avoid. Trust me, we have heard and debunked all these arguments more times than we like to remember. So unless you can explain why these arguments are not fallacious, you might want to avoid using them and embarrassing yourself.