Freethought Project

(Just a holding page for content starting Nov 2023 on establishing
a properly skeptical freethought environment
Note a page, not a post, and no public link yet.)

My (relevant) bio:

      • Born 1956 / raised NE England – Cultural Christian (naïve atheist) from childhood.
      • Humanist from age 22/23 (Humanist wedding aged 25 in 1981, etc.)
      • 45+ years a Systems Engineer (BScAeroEng 1977) in dozens of different countries.
        (Aircraft, process plants, built-environment, business, organisation, management, technology, information, modelling etc.)
      • Masters (1990) – Organisational Change & Culture (with Distinction).
      • 20+ years (ie post 9/11) Epistemological Research and Writing, Cybernetics and (“3rd Generation”) Systems Thinking. The Psybertron blog. Philosophical Activism.
      • Membership – BHA / HUK since 2002
      • Active Member – Cambridge A-Life/AI forum (since 2001), London Humanists (and the rest, since 2011), London SitP, Board Trustee of Rationalist Association & New Humanist Magazine, IAI/HTLGI, Teesside SitP, Dark Skeptics, etc.

Worldview and Values:

    • (Sacred) Naturalism – or something like it – belief in “the natural world” above anything else, there’s nothing supernatural beyond it.
    • Human Rights & Freedoms – Freedom of (and care/respect for) the individual. Freedom of thought and belief (including religious belief). UN Declarations on these. BUT collectively where rights and freedoms conflict, the best form of democracy we can make work is the best we can (actively) aim for. (And a lot more, identity politics, #GoodFences, political moral-compass, etc.)
    • Information Process Metaphysics – fundamental to both physical science and cognitive agency. (How long have you got? – the rest of the blog and writing in progress.)
    • Thought Journey – my actual journey (albeit written for the context of one specific philosopher).
    • Rules of Engagement – enlightened progressive discourse is a lot more than critical thinking, science and logic, data and evidence. (That would be scientism.)

Freethought Agenda:

This is really a 20+ years agenda for me (per above). “Dark Skeptics” took the hint from the Dark Web that reasonable discourse needed a “safe” environment for controversial, or simply complex, topics moderated and insulated from “badly-motivated and/or ill-considered” criticism, in order to make enlightened progress. That’s a good first step.

But in the face of woke cancel culture in recent years there are lessons to be learned from being an active group against something. Outrage at 9/11 created “New Atheism” directed against theistic or supernatural religion, but greatly narrowed the nature of discourse – enough simply to agree with what we’re against, etc. There are emerging heroes from the Dark Web (several names (!) mentioned on 23rd Nov). There are the heroes of New Atheism (the four horsemen and more). There is inevitably an element of (religious) belief in which values we espouse and defend. We must be more than anti-Woke activists we must not become a cult of personalities.

Woke or anti-Woke, a pox on both their houses.

Other recent example posts:


Post Notes:

Already much activity to create the new environment / platform and two points arising:

(a) I have a lot of experience with the platform technology (and alternative technologies), and with content moderation, but am unable to commit significant time to creating and managing it until after personal workload priorities change (Beyond “T” and “P” here.) Until then happy to support with inputs and advice through dialogue – like this post.

(b) Whilst it is technologically possible (and very fashionable) to treat the platform as the environment, we must not lose sight of the “SitP” USP – “in the pub”. Social subjective human interaction is what is missing – actively excluded – from that narrow “scientism” we need to be more than.

Another point arising on DSFB afterwards. As I say above this cannot be anti-Woke vs Woke. Or using Terry’s example can’t be Critical Thinking vs Critical Theory. It’s the caricature binaries based on caricature understanding of the other that’s killing enlightened discourse. Either CT is “evil” if becomes the exclusive or dominant tool in the toolbox.

And another arising in parallel, pragmatism. Some see it as a dirty word. Once we’ve branded one concept / quality / virtue as “paramount” (a word I hate, btw) like say Freedom (above) or Reason, then we need to recognise they get bent or compromised for pragmatic reasons. Democracy is the prime example above the “least worst” form of governance, but pragmatic compromise happens circumstantially at every scale. The “Rules of Engagement” linked above recognise, even rules are there to be broken by the wise and gamed between multiple agents. (My whole thought journey was through the US and other “pragmatists”.)

This Hume quote arose: “Reason is and *ought* only to be the slave of the passions.” This is so important and so little recognised by the orthodox scientists – the scientistic – in my experience. (Ditto McGilchrist Master and Emissary, and Solms “Affect all the way down” in The Hidden Spring, more recently.)