xPrae: How I defeated you so soundly (Part 6: the whining hyper-scepticism of facts you don’t like)

This post is going to catharticly address the hypocrisy of the blogger, xPrae, on the topic of facts evidence, as well as give a short introduction into when sources and evidence are useful. I don’t know why I do this, xPrae has so few followers as to be irrelevant. However, his pseudo-conversation was fun at first and then became a worryingly explicit performance of some of the faulty thinking that surrounds quite literally every subject he cares to pronounce on. His idea of evidence is ‘I just know’ or to claim he is actually familiar with the person you’re talking about, and so literally has secret access to knowledge you can’t have.

You may recall my previous posts on xPrae, the strange interlocutor who eschews sources in favour of things he feels knows are correct. He’s one of the people arguing that all the genocide of the Western world in the 20th Century was down to atheism. He pointed to the assertion that Hitler, Mao, Stalin, the Kims and some others have committed genocide, and are atheists. That’s a painfully obvious case of selection bias, making a false correlation. (For starters, if the Kims and Mao are part of the “West”, surely the Ottomans, Pinochet, Batista, and Théodore Sindikubwabo who ordered the Rwandan genocide are also all the “West”).

He then explained the carefully selected correlation by claiming that atheism offers no prohibition to heinous deeds. I responded by claiming atheists at large are not bad people, that this is reflected in prison population breakdowns or by looking at other atheists in politics. More importantly, I argued that understanding what these people really did believe is what really mattered: as Hitchens would (probably) have argued, the problem with the named tyrants is that what they believed acted so much like a religion.

Now that you’re up to speed, I want to explore xPrae’s response to John Zande’s argument that Hitler was not an atheist, but a Christian. This would be a significant change to xPrae’s argument, because xPrae had been arguing that the genocide of the West in the 20th century was exclusively atheism-driven (and, when you say it that way, it’s absurdity jumps off the page at you). Up to this point, I had not challenged xPrae on whether these individuals actually were atheists, because he admitted to hating facts sources. But actually confronting xPrae with facts revealed the overwhelming hypocrisy of how he was establishing his content.

Zande offered so many quotes from Hitler talking about reverence for God and scorning atheists, and of Church leaders endorsing Hitler that it’s barely worth sharing them all. You can trawl through the comments in your own time if you want to see some of what was said. xPrae’s response, for quite some time, was ‘nu uh! me no likey!’ to simply deny they’re relevant. He was pressed for sources. He presented none. He was pressed again, and he complained about sources and talked about sources being atheism’s Holy Writ. I found this ironic, as at least Zande and I were outsourcing our Holy Writ; xPrae’s Holy Writ was his own unfounded opinion.

Eventually xPrae changed tact and implored us to do his research for him. (A typical deflection used by homoeopaths, naturopaths and anti-vaxxers the world over.) Having believed only a few days earlier that Hitler was, in fact, an atheist (and having my mind changed rather rapidly in the comments section here), I took the bait and did the research. I came up pretty empty handed in terms of sources I actually trusted, but I shared a Wikipedia page on the issue and moved on. The page I shared was sympathetic to xPrae’s view, but admitted the topic was “a matter of interest and debate”. xPrae took one quote from one person, without evidence, from the page and ran with it. And that is the context for the conversation that followed.

xPrae showed a hyper-scepticism of the quotes Zande shared. It apparently did not matter to xPrae what Hitler said, so far as xPrae was concerned, Hitler could not be a Christian because Hitler was so heinous. xPrae had taken his own interpretation of Christianity and decided that he could mandate not only the beliefs that define Christianity, but the actions too. Regardless of beliefs, one’s actions could exclude someone from being a Christian. I took issue with that, because Christianity is a belief system, under which there are thousands of denominations, some of which are horrid. The definition is not about behaviour at all.

Not only that, but Hitler’s behaviour didn’t convince the Church leaders at the time that Hitler was not a Christian. Zande had also shared quotes to show Church leaders were not changing their mind based on the actions of Hitler. xPrae was claiming to be more knowledgeable of Christianity than Church leaders. This is very possible, but he didn’t evidence it. He just asserted it, over and over.

This is where the hypocrisy and hyper-scepticism became apparent. To reject the idea that Hitler was a Christian, xPrae had to doubt whether we could ever know someone’s mind. He started talking of “proof”, and me requesting a demonstration of what it is someone thought made me the “King of the Absurd”. He took the hardline that Hitler’s Christianity was a pragmatic theatre for the German people, but provided no evidence. (I’m not saying no evidence exists, I’m saying he wouldn’t present it.) I pointed out that you could do the same things to me: claim that I am actually a Christian and my entire blog is a ruse because I’m concerned about Christian persecutions. You can throw in baseless claims like that. You can always offer an unreasonable objection.

But, hang on, what about the atheists? How did we actually know Stalin was an atheist. Well, he said it, didn’t he? As did Mao and Pot. Case closed? That’s the very evidence Zande had for Hitler’s Christianity, and that wasn’t good enough. When xPrae called me the King of the Absurd, it was in response to me asking him to demonstrate that Stalin was an atheist. And yes, xPrae believes Stalin is an atheist. But, getting evidence of such a thing is absurd?

Essentially, xPrae had decided the facts he likes, and was simply believing them. And he likes facts not based on evidence, but the extent to which they support his narrative. He’s hyper-sceptical of evidence of Hitler’s Christianity, fully in support of one source claiming Hitler was a materialist, and fully in support of evidence of Stalin’s atheism, although the presented evidence accounts for only a fraction of the evidence in favour of Hitler’s Christianity. xPrae is sceptical of facts he doesn’t like (and you can always offer an unreasonable objection). And that’s simply not a conversation.

There was a lesson to be learned about sources, though. xPrae didn’t like sources, and his reason turned out to be because he didn’t know how to use them. So, here’s some lessons on how to use them: sources are best used when they present an argument or data. Simply quoting someone’s concluding remarks is entirely irrelevant, no matter how clever or renowned they are. You may rely on their subject expertise to guide validated ways of interpreting evidence, although that introduces a bit of uncertainty. The reason you can’t just quote someone’s concluding remarks is because you don’t know the person saying that: are they biased? Do they have an agenda? Do they use all the facts? Are they citing their own incredulity or awe as evidence? Are there concluding remarks about an anecdote informing an hypothesis, or meant as conclusive remarks about how something is? What assumptions have they made? Is this their area of expertise? Is it an exercise it Socratic Seminar?

Sourced concluding remarks are useless. What you want is the data and the methodology. Again, someone else may help you interpret that, that’s not an awful thing. But you don’t want just the conclusion

So, when xPrae was citing one person to say Hitler was a materialist with no belief in God or conscience, he was abusing the idea of sources. xPrae was right about sources, used the way he used them: that really is a pointless exercise in pitting one lot of opinions against another, with a disregard for the evidence. And that is a strange position to take for someone who, on their own blog, offers: “Unusually Insightful and Literate Commentary on the World Around Us”.

Zande used sources properly. The question was what Hitler believes. And Zande took long, explanatory quotes from Hitler’s writing and speeches. Admittedly, translated (and there’s a source of doubt). But still, that’s the actual data on what someone believes. Sure, a polygraph test would have been great, and the guest list in Heaven would be even better. But in terms of what evidence we can expect for what a person believes, Zande did just fine.

If xPrae wanted to defend his source of doubt―the idea that Hitler was an opportunistic pragmatist, and that’s all his pronouncements of Christianity were―we would expect to find such claims in Hitler’s personal writing, or for Hitler’s closest confidants to have quoted such things. I’m still open to such things, but a cursory look at the evidence has Hitler’s confidants simply expressing doubts, speculations and personalised definitions of Christianity―concluding remarks without the supporting evidence. (Not that xPrae presented any of this.)

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17 thoughts on “xPrae: How I defeated you so soundly (Part 6: the whining hyper-scepticism of facts you don’t like)”

  1. Lol! A bit peevish here, Allallt! Since you’ve now obsessed over me and my contributions to the point of, now, posting six jeremiads against my positions, one is led to conclude that just maybe it is not I who have the problem.

    One thing I’ve noticed. Sophists with feeble arguments are like you are always keen to leap to accuse someone who disagrees with them of being “crazy” and “disturbing.”

    They also take evidence presented to them (Alan Bullock, for example) dismiss it as illegitimate, then insist that someone has not presented “evidence.” It’s a completely dishonest, but unsurprising, way of “debating.” And then you wonder why I don’t play “dueling sources” with you.

    For example,I flooded you with evidence that Hitler was, obviously, not a Christian, all of which you dismissed as illegitimate, and then you feel that you can write:

    Zande offered so many quotes from Hitler talking about reverence for God and scorning atheists, and of Church leaders endorsing Hitler that it’s barely worth sharing them all. You can trawl through the comments in your own time if you want to see some of what was said. xPrae’s response, for quite some time, was ‘nu uh! me no likey!’ to simply deny they’re relevant. He was pressed for sources. He presented none. He was pressed again, and he complained about sources and talked about sources being atheism’s Holy Writ. I found this ironic, as at least Zande and I were outsourcing our Holy Writ; xPrae’s Holy Writ was his own unfounded opinion.

    Heck, I even quoted Allat’s own Wikipedia source within which were the Alan Bullock references! You then labeled that source as illegitimate. And, of course, you then insisted, as you did above, that I hadn’t presented any sources; that I had merely asserted things.

    And you say, I’m crazy!

    You said also:

    You may recall my previous posts on xPrae, the strange interlocutor who eschews sources in favour of things he feels knows are correct. He’s one of the people arguing that all the genocide of the Western world in the 20th Century was down to atheism. He pointed to the assertion that Hitler, Mao, Stalin, the Kims and some others have committed genocide, and are atheists. That’s a painfully obvious case of selection bias, making a false correlation. (For starters, if the Kims and Mao are part of the “West”, surely the Ottomans, Pinochet, Batista, and Théodore Sindikubwabo who ordered the Rwandan genocide are also all the “West”).

    As far as selection bias is concerned, do you mean all the régimes for which militant atheism was a major component? The problem: there were no overtly atheist régimes in the 20th Century that did not engage in mass murder. The régimes in question were (and some still are): Stalinist Soviet Union, Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, the Kim’s North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Not all engaged in out-and-out genocide, but all were régimes of mass oppression and murder. And all were ()some still are militantly atheistic régimes.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I never said that Mao, the Kims, Ho, etc are “of the west.” If I did, I was obviously not expressing myself clearly, as it’s plain that they are not of the west. I did say they were atheists. That much also is pretty plain. Oh, one can’t engage in selection bias, if the entire sample confirms what I’ve been saying all along. 🙂

    And, of course, you start with the strawmen. To fix some of your silliness: The Ottomans were not “of the west.” Pinochet and Batista did not engage in genocide. Though they did murder and oppress. (By Allallt’s definition, apparently, Charlie Manson is guilty of “genocide.”) Théodore Sindikubwabo would not be of the west.

    And on and on and on and on… the inaccuracies, distortions, misconceptions, sloppinesses, sillinesses and just plain falsenesses in Allallt’s above post are too numerous to cover here. See how hard I tried to avoid the word “lie?” I do believe that Allallt actually believes all the flapdoodle he posted above.

    In posting that steaming pile of hogwash above, Allallt shows himself to be guilty of the charge he levels against me in the title. He’s also guilty of hyper-sensitivity to the obvious conclusion that he has some really weak argumentation, and gets all splenetic, and hyper-defensive when challenged on it.

    Best,

    — x

    1. Yes, 6 posts all about you. Don’t let it go to your head, now.
      Now, my position on everything you just ejaculated out into a comment there are covered somewhere in the previous 6 posts regarding you, which allows me to address you (and any reader who thinks you have a points and cares) with the following: please note previous discussion.

    1. Steve,

      The Hitler genocide ruthlessly extinguished 12,000,000 innocent people, 6,000,000 of whom where Jews.

      Guess what other group got mass murdered?

      Yes, the Catholics whom Hitler snuffed with such gusto were included with the mentally ill, the physically defective, the gypsies, etc.

      You know, the little people who didn’t have slaughter houses like Treblinka dedicated to their extermination.

  2. “[Adolf Hitler is] the tool of God, called upon to overcome Judaism” (Father Senn, writing in a Catholic publication, May 15, 1934)

    One can doubt all they like the wall of Hitler quotes professing his Christian faith, but it becomes impossible to not accept this fact when we have third-party church leaders (Cardinals, Bishops, and priests) praising Hitler for his faith.

    The simple fact is this: Hitler believed himself to be a good Christian, and so too did others.

    1. John,

      Did you know that the greatest, juiciest heresies in Christian history were instigated by Catholic priests?

      And here in my urbane, ethnically diverse city all Catholics who want to serve the Church in any capacity must undergo sensitivity training and background checks because a few pervert priests had the jollies for young men and boys.

      So any comments from the fascist priests of the Hitler’s Germany must be taken with a grain of salt.

  3. I’ve been around this block with you all before. Zande pretends he can read Hitler’s mind. Bullock said that he could read Hitler’s mind. We’re all in the effort at making our best guesses. I used Alan Bullock, about whom we read this in Wikipedia (Allallt’s and Zande’s source):

    According to Alan Bullock, Hitler was a rationalist and materialist “who believed neither in God nor in conscience”. Nonetheless, Hitler opportunistically employed the language of “divine providence” in defence of his own myth. When young, Hitler was baptised and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church and raised by an anti-clerical father and practising Catholic mother. In adulthood, he became disdainful of Christianity, but retained some respect for the organisational power of the Church.

    In other words, Hitler pretended to be a Christian as I’ve been saying right along, but really — says the foremost historian on Hitler — he “became disdainful of Christianity.”

    I don’t believe that closes the book on Hitler’s non-Christianity, but it sure covers the “Hitler called himself a Christian” canard. And, Zande, that Hitler — an obviously, extremely persuasive man to start — might have persuaded Roman Catholics of the day that he was a Christian, should not be all that surprising. I believe I mentioned that several times as well.

    Oh, that’s right — you immediately tried to delegitimize the source (which was really your source anyway!) thereby neatly proving my point about the futility of playing dueling sources.

    Plainly there are only two possible conclusions: (1) You guys don’t read what I lovingly craft for your consumption (at a pace of 140 words per minute) or (2) you have rocks in your heads.

    There is a third point about Hitler as well, of which, apparently you all are far too blinkered to see: Hitler was deluded in a lot of ways — many (myself included) have called him out-in-la-la-land crazy. That Hitler might delude himself into believing he was a Christian is not out of the realm of possibility.

    My brother the psychologist has a patient who believes that he’s from Saturn. He’s not. My brother also has a patient who believes himself to be the President of the United States and insists that my brother address him as “Mr. President,” or he will not cooperate in therapy sessions. Both patients seem sincere in their beliefs, and neither actually is what he insists he is. Not the first time that has happened either.

    Hitler was, obviously, not a Christian. The foremost historian on Hitler says he was an atheist. I mentioned all this as well in our past exchanges. Both the “not reading” and “rocks in your heads” possibilities remain strong possibilities.

    There is yet a fourth possibility that your tunnel-vision prevents you from seeing. Christians have behaved and do behave badly. That indicts only the Christians who have behaved badly, not, though, the doctrine — Christianity — that forbids them from behaving badly.

    That a murderer might commit a murder doesn’t suggest that the law against murder is to blame. This is the crux of the whole matter.

    Allallt and Zande — the Rocks In The Heads crowd — keep trying to suggest that Christianity is all about genocide and mass murder and violence and mayhem, all while everyone but Christians — atheists of all stripes, Islamic jihadists and other gibbering baboons — have all been committing genocide, mass murder, violence and mayhem all around the world in this and the past century. Then, Allallt has the brass to pretend (in his headline, above) that I’m engaging in “whining hyper-scepticism of facts [I] don’t like.

    One thing is cetain: Allallt and Zande are depending on the hope that, like them, people aren’t actually reading what others write.

    If it weren’t so ridiculous, it’d be funny.

    Best,

    — x

    1. Never said Christianity is about genocide. Anyone would think you were relying on people not reading what others write.

      It’s all covered in previous conversations.

      1. @Allallt: you and Zande are pretty much the same person, so if Zande says something stupid, as is his propensity, and you don’t disagree, as you never do, then it’s all part of your narrative about Christianity.

        Best,

        — x

        1. I thought 1 did not have to publicly denounce someone to have their own set of views.
          (I also don’t recall Zande saying it, but that’s irrelevant.)

    2. “[Adolf Hitler is] the tool of God, called upon to overcome Judaism”
      – Father Senn, a Catholic priest, writing in a Catholic publication, May 15, 1934

      “What the old parliament and parties did not accomplish in sixty years, your statesmanlike foresight has achieved in six months. For Germany’s prestige in East and West and before the whole world this handshake with the Papacy, the greatest moral power in the history of the world, is a feat of immeasurable blessing. …May God preserve the Reich Chancellor for our people.”
      – Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Bavaria, praising Adolf Hitler for the Concordat, July 24, 1933

      “[I wish to express my church’s] sincere and joyous preparedness to cooperate as best they could with the government now ruling that had set itself that tasks of promoting the Christian education of the people, repelling ungodliness and immorality, developing readiness to make sacrifices for the common good and protecting the rights of the Church.”
      – Cardinal Adolf Bertram, Archbishop of Breslau, letter to Adolf Hitler following the announcement of the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican, July 22, 1933

      “The word “German” is God’s Word! Whosoever understands this is released from all theological conflicts. This is German: return home to Germany and leave behind egoism and your feelings of abandonment. …Christ has come to us through the person of Adolf Hitler. …Hitler has taken root in us; through his strength, through his honesty, his faith and his idealism we have found our way to paradise.”
      – Kirchenrat Julius Leutheuser, addressing German Christians in Saalfeld, August 30, 1933

      “In this way the Catholics will profess again their loyalty to people and Fatherland and their agreement with the farsighted and forceful efforts of the Führer to spare the German people the terror of war and Bolshevism, to secure public order and create work for the unemployed.”
      – Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Bavaria, encouraging German Catholics to vote “yes” in the upcoming plebiscite to re-elect Hitler and support his decision to withdraw from the League of Nations, November 10, 1933

      “You are witnesses for the fact that on all Sundays and holidays at the main service we pray in all churches for the Führer as we have promised in the Concordat. …We will today give an answer, a Christian answer: Catholic men, we will now pray together a paternoster for the life of the Führer. This is our answer.”
      – Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Bavaria, Sermon, responding to newspaper story about a Swiss Catholic asking children to pray for Hitler’s death, July 7, 1936

      I could go on, giving other testimonies from church leaders praising Hitler for his Christian values, but really, what’s the point. As Allalt has already pointed out, you reject reality to the profit of a pantomime.

      1. Aaaaand, I covered these irrelevant strawmen long ago too. I’m figuring the rocks will get in the way of your remembering that, though.

        Best,

        — x

    3. I particularly like this line:

      “Christ has come to us through the person of Adolf Hitler. …Hitler has taken root in us; through his strength, through his honesty, his faith and his idealism we have found our way to paradise.”

      Powerful affirmation, huh?

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