On Thunderf00t, Correlation, Causation, and the Stifling of Freethought (or Lack Thereof)

A lot of people have been talking about Thunderf00t being kicked off of Freethought Blogs lately, and one comment keeps cropping up.

“Oh, it’s so ironic that a place called Freethought Blogs has kicked someone out for a differing opinion.”

I’m going to keep this brief, because it’s simple and should be obvious (and I have coding to do): kicking out someone with a different opinion than you is not necessarily close-mindedness. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. The question is this: was the differing opinion the reason he was kicked off? The thing is, having a differing opinion doesn’t make your opinion intelligent or informed. You can have a differing opinion, and your opinion can still not be valuable.

Take, as a hypothetical, a discussion on atheism and religion. It’s safe to assume that Francis Collins, Pat Robertson, and Fred Phelps all disagree with Richard Dawkins on a few finer points. Does anyone think that Francis Collins, Pat Robertson, and Fred Phelps’ contributions to such a discussion would all be equally valuable?

If you don’t, then we’re agreed: having a differing opinion doesn’t say anything about whether or not your opinion is useful or intelligent. It doesn’t mean that you’re contributing. You can have a differing opinion, and still be kicked out of a forum for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not you agree with the prevailing opinion.

Here, I mangled a Punnett square to illustrate:

If you want to argue that Thunderf00t was kicked off of Freethought Blogs for having a differing opinion, fine. Knock yourself out (please). But you don’t get to say, “Look, he had a differing opinion and he was kicked off, therefore FTB is anti-freethought!”

You know why, because correlation doesn’t prove causation, motherfuckers. Go prove causation and get back to me. Show me it wasn’t because we was arguing like an ignorant dick, and get back to me. Until then, the correlation you’ve identified doesn’t mean shit.

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