It's often argued that guns don't kill people; people kill people—and in the absence of access to firearms, criminals and killers will simply switch to other tools to get the job done. While yes, guns don't take it upon themselves to go out and kill, they to make it much easier to kill to a degree that other weapons don't compare to. While many miscellaneous objects can be used as a weapon, it wouldn't make sense to ban them because they have beneficial primary functions. Pointing to killers making the switch from guns to knives undermines the argument that gun control would be ineffective.
After a mass shooting, conservatives will argue that more good guys with guns are needed to prevent such events from occurring in the future. They also claim that over 90% of mass shootings take place in gun-free zones. Here I explain the many problems with these arguments.
Conservatives argue that within the United States, gun control has been ineffective and counter-productive, citing Washington D.C. and Chicago as their key examples. Their portrayal of the data on this question is very misleading and inaccurate, and as I show here, nationwide data on the subject makes very clear that the stricter a state's gun laws, the lower its rate of gun homicides, gun suicides, and mass shootings.
Conservatives incorrectly argue that more guns do not lead to more deaths; some go so far as to claim that there's an inverse correlation. The graphs and data they use to support this view are flawed in several important ways.
Countries and states with higher levels of gun ownership have more gun homicides, suicides and accidental killings. People with guns in the home are much more likely to die from guns than those without—and you're much more likely to use your gun to commit homicide or suicide than to use it in a defensive, justified killing. An overall cost-benefit analysis of the question shows that people are much more likely to be harmed by guns than they are to benefit from them.
Conservatives endlessly praise the Reagan tax cuts, claiming that they stimulated economic growth while reducing unemployment and growing personal income. In reality, many different factors contributed to the growth under Reagan, including a lowering of interest rates, a post-recession recovery, and stimulative government spending. Rarely mentioned are the many tax *increases* passed by Reagan. When presenting statistics to glorify the Reagan tax cuts, right-wingers often use very misleading tactics.
Republicans often talk about the scourge of left-wing violence—yet as I show here, right-wing violence is actually much more prevalent, both recently and historically. They also *pretend* as if Democratic politicians are calling for violence when really, they do nothing of the sort. Finally, their arguments on this subject are fraught with double standards and contradictions.
Libertarians argue that taxation is theft and that we should abolish the income tax. Here I argue that the comparison with theft is ridiculous because the taxpayer benefits from government programs and also gets to vote on what the tax rates are and what programs we do or don't fund. Among other things, I also point out that government force is only used to punish tax evaders as a last resort, and opting out of paying taxes or making it voluntary wouldn't be fair and would cause the overall quality of society to decline in many key areas.
Contrary to what drug warriors argue, drug decriminalization in Portugal has been an outstanding success. Since the policy change, problem drug-usage rates have actually declined, as has the number of intravenous HIV/AIDS transmissions and drug-related deaths. Here, I run through the data in these areas while also debunking some of the arguments made by critics of Portugal's decriminalization.
Charlie Kirk's debate performance at Politicon 2018 was a right-wing talking-point extravaganza. Here, I debunk his flawed arguments on subjects like corruption, socialism, government programs, and the impact of Democratic policies.
While many do come to the U.S. for healthcare, a much larger number of people leave the U.S. for care. Medical tourism takes place to and from many different countries for many different reasons, and the complex reality of the situation is nothing like the crude, one-sided picture that conservatives paint for us. There's also no good evidence to support the claim that the U.S. has the world's best doctors and medical facilities.
Conservatives argue that healthcare quality in the United States is superior to that of other countries with more progressive systems. An actual examination of objection healthcare outcomes, however, demonstrates that U.S. healthcare quality can only be described as average.
Conservatives argue that the U.S. healthcare system is responsible for a uniquely high amount of medical innovation. They also argue that higher U.S. healthcare costs supply the medical industry with the necessary income to fund their R&D—which the rest of the world benefits from. As I show here, these, and other related arguments, are not supported by the appropriate data and don't stand up to scrutiny.
Here, I compare wait times among various healthcare systems, assessing how single- or mixed-payer systems stack up against the private system of the United States. I also examine the question of rationing in healthcare as well as debunk a variety of flawed right-wing arguments that I come across.
In a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, Dave Rubin made a series of ridiculous and unjustified arguments on deregulation, the role of government, and the net effect of the Trump administration. Here, I refute and explain the folly of these viewpoints.
Steven Crowder's criticisms of Bernie Sanders and the social democracies of Europe are inaccurate and misguided. Here, I examine how these countries compare to the United States in a variety of ways, and I also break down and refute some of Crowder's arguments on subjects like health care, education, taxation, and the best way to structure our government.
Hillary Clinton's recent book contains many faulty arguments regarding her Wall Street donations, Bernie Sanders, and the 2016 presidential election.
Here, I refute flawed arguments and false claims made about health care by Ben Shapiro. Topics include why U.S. health care is so expensive and how it compares to the rest of the developed world.
In this post, I break down some inaccurate views on statues of Confederate leaders, the causes of the Civil War, and the left compared to the right.
Here, I debunk some of the flawed arguments and falsehoods put forth by Dave Rubin in a recent David Pakman interview. Topics include the left vs. the right, the Trump administration, and gay marriage.
Donald Trump argued that transgenders in the military were a considerable financial burden. Here, I show, in a number of different ways, that this is plainly untrue.
We're told that the quantity of jobs created by a president or initiative is the vital statistic to focus upon. Why? Why not the quality of jobs? Are there also not more important considerations than jobs?
Allowing governments or social media sites to censor "fake news" would lead to very troubling, Orwellian outcomes. There are much better ways to deal with false or misleading information.
Contrary to popular dogma, the United States does not have fair elections, in part because of the influence of big money on politics and the bias of the mainstream media.
I'm no fan of Donald Trump, but the recent accusations of anti-Semitism based upon his re-Tweeting of a post that contained a vaguely Star-of-David-like image are ridiculous and unjustified.
Superdelegates biased the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton, both directly and indirectly. They are fundamentally undemocratic.
Some argue that legalizing prostitution would be degrading to women. Is this true? And if so, would this justify criminalizing paid sexual encounters between consenting adults?
Creationists are simply wrong when they claim that genetic mutations are never beneficial. Many such mutations have been observed that provide new enzymatic functions, protection against predators, and immunity against disease. Beneficial mutations are also much more commonplace than creationists make them out to be, with studies finding that 1 to 6% of mutations are advantageous. The statistics used by creationists to support an astronomically lower number come from deeply flawed analyses. Contrary to what they claim, beneficial mutations can and do increase overall fitness—in the wild and the laboratory—and such mutations accumulate over time via this little thing called "natural selection."
William Lane Craig argues that objective reality cannot exist without God. As I argue here, this isn't evidence that a God exists; it's merely an appeal to undesirable consequences. The many horrific godly actions described in the Bible also make clear that such a God's moral viewpoints wouldn't be worth following even if he did exist, and such atrocities don't match up with Craig's description of God as "perfectly good, loving and kind."
You can't describe religious morality as "objective" if it allows for Christians to disagree with each other on every single moral question while also citing scripture to support their viewpoints. Finally, without God, people can still use reason and empathy to decide right from wrong, and despite this process being imperfect, moral progress *is* made over time.
Creationists mistakenly claim that no transitional fossils exist. There are actually many such examples, illustrating evolutionary change taking place in organisms ranging from whales to turtles to fish to horses to dinosaurs. Creationists also have many misconceptions about the fossil record and apply a double standard to evolution vs their religious beliefs. Here, I also address the idea of "the missing link" in human evolution and debunk many creationist arguments made in this area.
Creationists often argue that "life can't come from non-life." The scientific research actually shows that every step of the process is quite plausible. In addition to examining the research in this area, I also debunk a variety of arguments made by creationists to support their position.
Creationists falsely claim that evolution has never been seen happening in real-time by human observers. Here, I show many such documented examples of evolution & speciation. I also pick apart creationist arguments in this area and explain where they go wrong, pointing out that they shift the goalposts, misuse scientific terminology, and set impossibly high standards for the changes we should be able to observe.
Radiometric dating methods are very accurate and very trustworthy. Creationist arguments to the contrary are riddled with flaws, as is the scientific research used by them to support their position.
Young-earth creationists believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted less than 6,000 years ago. Supporting evidence for this position includes the Bible, archaeological evidence, cultural evidence, and fossil evidence—none of which stand up to scrutiny.
Creationists sometimes argue that mutation and evolution can't increase the amount of information in the genome—and thus, can't explain how life became more complex over time. Not only is this claim an outright falsehood that can be disproven by many examples, but arguments of this kind are riddled with many flaws.
During his debate against Matt Dillahunty, the presuppositional apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate made a variety of unjustified and ridiculous arguments. Presuppositional apologetics is a branch of theological argumentation that appears confusing and perhaps even convincing at first glance, but it does not withstand a close inspection, as I show here.
Life without god is NOT meaningless. The atheist, much moreso than the religious person, has every reason to live life to the fullest. And the purpose that comes from religion is bankrupt.
Here, I examine the claim that, after some disaster, God left us a sign in the wreckage that he still cares for us. Furthermore, I dissect some religious views on free will and the problem of human and natural evil.
Morality is not mere obedience to God's commands. In fact, such a moral system is incredibly immoral and nonsensical.
Some argue that the evidence for evolution is actually a test of our faith in creationism by God. This argument is laughably flawed in several different ways.
In their style of argumentation, many religious believers take for granted that disproving evolution would prove creationism. This is not true.
The claim that God exists outside of space and time is problematic for many different reasons. It also gives birth to some troubling conclusions for the religious believer.
Some argue that because the conclusions of science have changed throughout history, perhaps we shouldn't trust its current conclusions, especially when they contradict religious beliefs. Is this a good argument?
The precise conditions of our universe allow human life to exist. Does this justify believing that our universe was designed by a God who wanted to bring about human life?
When we don't have a good scientific explanation for something, is it reasonable to conclude that the cause is supernatural?
Climate change deniers make many false claims about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These include the idea that CO2 has a limited or negligible impact on global warming—or even has the net effect of cooling our planet. Some also claim that the greenhouse effect would violate the laws of physics. Others make the assertion that the small quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere couldn't possibly cause significant worldwide temperature changes. As I show here, every single one of these arguments are incorrect.
Climate-change deniers are mistaken when they claim that factors other than our greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming, whether they point to Milankovitch cycles, the Sun or volcanic eruptions. The data clearly shows that the predominant cause of current warming trends are manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change deniers are wrong when they claim that the predictions made by climate models are unreliable. As I show here, most of them are very accurate—and where they get it wrong, they're more likely to *underestimate* the warming (or associated consequences) than overestimate it. The most inaccurate predictions are actually those made by climate change "skeptics." I also show some of the problems in the data and graphs used to support this viewpoint, and I debunk a variety of related arguments, including one made by Jordan Peterson about whether can measure the impact of our climate-related actions.
Candace Owens recently appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience, making a series of faulty and absurd arguments on climate change which I debunk in this video. To put it bluntly, she has absolutely no idea what she's talking about when it comes to global warming.
Global warming deniers claim that there was an 18-year pause in global warming which started in 1998. As I show here, this apparent hiatus was actually the product of biases in the data. Once these are corrected for, the pause evaporates. I also make some points about how to properly examine data, and I respond to the idea that these temperature corrections are part of a scientific conspiracy.
Climate-change deniers argue that there actually is not a 97% manmade global-warming consensus among scientists and climatologists. They claim the true statistic is anywhere from 52% to a laughable 1%. Here, in addition to debunking their arguments, I take a very close look at the studies and surveys on these questions and provide accurate statistics on the percentage of climate change publications that reject AGW, and also the percentage of scientists, climatologists, and top-publishing climatologists that believe in AGW and believe that it's dangerous.
Some argue that global warming is actually going to be GOOD—both for humans and for the environment. Although there are a few potential benefits from climate change, these are far outweighed by the many harms that will result. Furthermore, many of the benefits are not as straightforward as they're made out to be, and they, in fact, come with many qualifications.
Contrary to what climate-change deniers will tell you, record-setting cold or snowy days do NOT disprove global warming. In addition to explaining here what's wrong with these arguments, I also point out how global warming can actually exacerbate certain cold-weather events, and I also break down and refute some arguments made by a climate-change denier on subjects like Arctic Sea ice, Al Gore, and so forth.
Usage of homeopathy is widespread, yet, as I argue here, the theoretical foundation of homeopathy is unjustified nonsense, and the scientific evidence makes clear that homeopathy is not effective. I also respond to several counter-arguments made against my position by defenders of homeopathy.
In my final piece on the ClimateGate e-mails, I examine the claims that data and e-mails were deleted by the CRU, and I also take a look at whether or not FOIA requests were appropriately complied with, asking what impact, if any, these things would have on the validity of climate science.
The CRU scientists did NOT suppress research not supportive of global warming, nor did they subvert the peer review process or pressure into resigning journal editors who allowed publications which went against the global warming consensus, as climate change deniers allege.
Contrary to what climate change deniers claim, the ClimateGate e-mails actually do NOT discuss the destruction or hiding of data, and they certainly don't call into question or prove as a hoax global warming in general.
There is no good reason to believe that "ghost hunters" encounter or detect anything paranormal. Their equipment can be triggered by many different things in the environment including power lines, cell phones, or radio towers. Their audio recordings often sound nothing like what they claim to hear, and saying you feel spooky sensations proves nothing to the person at home. Ghost-hunters go into their investigations biased—expecting to encounter ghosts—and their entertainment-driven shows are incentivized to exaggerate or outright lie to viewers. Many characteristics of "haunted houses" in fact have very straightforward, naturalistic explanations.
Contrary to popular belief, there's actually nothing dangerous about The Bermuda Triangle. Proposed paranormal explanations for why planes and ships go missing here don't stand up to scrutiny, and a variety of ordinary, naturalistic events can account for the Bermuda Triangle disappearances—even the ones held up as proof of the mysterious nature of the Triangle.
The paranormal belief in the existence of ghosts is unjustified because the evidence provided is unconvincing and ample alternative explanations exist. Here, in addition to making my case, I also examine some ghost stories to see if they're impressive enough to warrant belief, and finally, I point out the flaws in arguments made by people who believe in ghosts.
There is no good reason to believe that the molten material seen dripping on 9/11 and found in the debris piles was melted steel generated in thermitic reactions during a controlled demolition. Aluminum from the airplanes and buildings makes much more sense, as it can glow bright orange at the temperatures present in building fires.
No testing ever confirmed the presence of molten steel, and the WTC "meteorites" contain visible chunks of still-solid steel. Building fires are more than capable of deforming steel beams, whereas neither thermite nor explosives would act in this way. Finally, high surface temperatures can't be used to infer the presence of below-ground pools of molten steel, and the shifting nature of these hot-spots indicates that fires were responsible.
9/11 truthers argue that during the collapse of the Twin Towers, explosive squibs were seen—proof of a controlled demolition. They also claim that the lateral ejection of heavy debris must have been caused by explosions. Here I carefully examine and debunk their arguments in these areas.
A widely-believed conspiracy theory is that there's a secret government plot to spray chemtrails into the atmosphere. In reality, there is no good reason to believe that what we see in the sky are anything more than ordinary contrails. The arguments made by chemtrailers are deeply flawed and illogical, and their position is fundamentally unsupported by evidence.
Inhabiting echochambers—and thus, not being exposed to opposing viewpoints presented in their most convincing form—is common, yet intellectually damaging.
Having productive exchanges is made difficult when people inaccurately generalize about groups and use imprecise language. Clarity and accuracy is the solution.
Misrepresentation of opposing viewpoints is a frequent occurrence, and we should try our best to honestly and accurately grapple with the arguments before us.
The Socratic method—incisively questioning your opponent's viewpoints—is valuable and worthwhile for many different reasons.
Circumcision advocates argue that performing this procedure on children and infants is justified because of its medical, hygienic, and aesthetic benefits. Here, I point out the many problems in all of these different arguments, ultimately concluding that circumcising children without their consent is deeply immoral and unjustified.
Some claim that an infamous passage from Sam Harris' book The End of Faith calls for a nuclear first-strike against the Muslim world. Is this true?
Here, I examine a number of Reza Aslan's toothless criticisms of Sam Harris, including his inadequate educational credentials and his lack of "expertise" or "sophistication."
Some argue that philosophy is an unproductive waste of our time, especially when compared with science. I disagree.
The belief that the full moon influences human behavior is widely held. Is there any merit to this viewpoint?
As far as we know, our planet hasn't yet been visited by advanced extraterrestrial life. Is this a good reason to conclude that such alien life doesn't exist?