Caledonian doesn't want to say he's never met a person who had not at some time held a daft belief. I'll venture further on his behalf: he most likely respects some of the people who occasionally hold these daft beliefs, if, on balance, their beliefs end up being good ones and if these people have mechanisms in place to weed out the bad beliefs.
If that's so, then his position is actually quite sensible: it rewards good beliefs, holds people to high standards, and it expresses optimism about possibility of change in those committed to and skilled at it.
There's nothing offensive about the post. I just wish it were funnier and less predictable. I'm with LemmusLemmus on this: it's too bad that the fifteen-year-old's tone of provocative discovery ends up distracting from Eliezer's obviously valid point -- that, yes, the story of the virgin birth is pretty wacky as stories go.
Eliezer, your pointer for dealing with the TypeKey bug seems to naturally belong either in that "[New readers start here]" section or in some separate tech help section. Unfortunately TypeKey didn't offer your insight when I got in touch with them so I had to figure it on my own after a few frustrating attempts at posting. Having suggestions about common bugs in some prominent section on the site would also keep comments about tech issues from clogging up the Recent Comments section.
Psy-Kosh, having that some-people-that-disagree dynamic is clearly preferable to having that-one-crazy-guy-you-don't-want-to-be-like setup, but I'd expect that many such dynamics tend to start with having just one strong dissenter, don't you think?
Also, I can imagine another difficulty for that Known Contrary Guy: his input may unfortunately be less well received by others not just because of the clash of the views but also, and I fear even more so, because of ad-hominem-type dismissals by the rest of the group.
An unrelated but creepy thought: my first reaction to type in some sort of full-fledged assent was immediately dampened by a queasy post-Patriot-Act thought (of, admittedly, a very IT-illiterate person), "If I openly write something like this, will They know and will They care and will I ever come to regret it?" Or maybe it's not such an unrelated thought -- the not always irrational fear of Big Brother did, after all, turn out to be a significant part of the more-than-ten-times-worse assessment of things to come.
Eliezer, your post appears to at least in part be animated by a frustration with people who are incapable/unwilling/don't make a serious enough effort to both pursue interesting tangents that could later be developed into other full-length conversations and stay on topic overall. Granted, this probably describes a vast majority of people. Nevertheless, presuming the straying from topic though tangent acknowledgment to be an affliction of conversation with all people unfortunately leads you imply a necessary trade-off between the values of rigorous word d... (read more)
I think a better way to use Kuhn's idea to interpret the process and effects of the skeptics leaving is through an ontological reflection on the group's essence: We can say that the group or discipline really started existing in a relevant sense (living out its core beliefs, "getting any real work done") only after the original skeptics were gone. Perhaps the discipline's increasingly inhospitable environment to internal dissenters is a more relevant place to draw the line of exactly when that discipline "[abandoned] the requirement of out... (read more)