African skeptic needs our help!

By Phil Plait | January 8, 2010 12:30 pm

Leo Igwe is a skeptic in Africa who has tirelessly and heroically fought the forces of unreason. He is director of the Centre for Inquiry in Nigeria and executive director of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, and has battled against female genital mutilation, the oppression of women in Africa, witch hunters, and all manners of religious-based (generally Sharia law) woe in that continent.

But he’s in trouble. Igwe accused a man of raping a ten-year-old girl in Nigeria. This man has turned around and accused Igwe and his father of murdering another person — an apparently false charge, since the man was examined and found to have died due to an HIV/AIDS related illness. Igwe was arrested, temporarily imprisoned, and then let out on bail. But the pressure is on, and the Nigerian government is not doing a whole lot to help.

Please note all this is alleged, but is coming from multiple sources. You can find more information on on the Think Humanism forum. Also, Kylie Sturgess has been on this since it started, and has more information on this case with updates and what can be done to help.

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Comments (63)

  1. No need to send bank account information or anything. 😉

    I see that Kylie has an address for the UK, anyone have the address to the representative in the US, or even direct to Nigeria? I would google it, but I am at work behind a firewall.

  2. jasonB

    I am a Nigerian prince who stands to inherit $100,000,000. It is currently in a bank account that I can’t access. If you would send me your account and routing numbers I will be able to use use them to access your/my account and will be happy to send you $100,000 for the use of your identity.

  3. Sam

    Oh Jason, I wonder if you know my friend, he is also a Nigerian Prince – we email back and forth quite a bit. Crazy thing is he just found me one day by randomly picking my email address!!

  4. T.E.L.

    There’s a Center For Inquiry here in the town where I live. I walk past it often when I’m out getting my exercise. But I’m reluctant to go into the place. Through the front window I can see that guests are greeted by a gallery, a veritable avenue of of high-quality headshots of celebrity role models (e.g., Carl Sagan, Katherine Hepburn, Albert Einstein, and more). I have to ask: why does a place that ostensibly preaches free thinking need to resort to flashing famous cherry-picked personalities as hooks to grab the interest of passersby? Jump-on-the-celebrity-bandwagon is a tasteless, indefensible recruiting tactic.

  5. Have to love the automatically generated ads; I’m seeing one now for AfroIntroductions.com.

    Phil, why don’t you set up a SkepticIntroductions.com so that all those skeptics can find that
    perfect skepchick? (Maybe you wouldn’t get many customers because they would be skeptical
    as to whether it would work?) Seriously; it might be a good idea.

  6. gopher65

    Phillip Helbig: I know you’re probably joking, but the primary qualification that I require a woman to have before I even consider a (long term) relationship with her is that she be a generally skeptical person (in a thoughtful way, not in an ideological motivated incredulous way — or, as I refer to it “Penne&Teller skepticism”).

    So that’s probably not all that bad of an idea.

  7. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and for those seriously considering helping Leo Igwe, the following contact numbers for the Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta are presented:

    Consular
    (770)-394-6261
    (770) 394-6237
    Immigration
    (770)-394-5233
    (678) 720-0021
    Mission’s Switchboard
    (770)-394-5245
    Mailing Address
    Consul General of Nigeria, Atlanta
    8060 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga. 30350
    Email Address
    email:info@nigeria-consulate-atl.org

    Gary 7

    PS: I’ll be calling them tomorrow. Be polite but note that this situation is of interest to the international community.

  8. In all seriousness folks, please follow those links and consider writing the appropriate authorities. These kind of online activities/outside pressure *do* sometimes make a difference. This guy is in real trouble for trying to do the right thing. He deserves our support.

  9. Michael Swanson

    What is wrong with you guys? Phil writes about a man who is likely in serious trouble, and you post tired jokes about old email scams? That’s just tactless and heartless.

  10. ellie5334

    @Michael Swanson: DITTO! I expect that on Fark, but no so much here. Thanks, Phil, for this information. I will check out all those links and take any actions I can to help.

  11. fred edison

    There’s a false belief where if an AIDS stricken person has intercourse with a virgin they’ll magically transfer their AIDS to the virgin and be free of the disease. Has the man/men accused of rape been tested for AIDS? It may be one possible motive for the rape of the young girl and worth investigation. Whoever says that all personal beliefs are harmless is dead wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV_and_AIDS_misconceptions#Sexual_intercourse_with_a_virgin_will_cure_AIDS

  12. David_R

    Yea come on, its not really a laughing matter. I often think about how lucky i am to live in a country where skeptics arent in mortal danger for speaking out about the woo all around them.

  13. T.E.L.

    Jayne Said:

    “In all seriousness folks, please follow those links and consider writing the appropriate authorities. These kind of online activities/outside pressure *do* sometimes make a difference. This guy is in real trouble for trying to do the right thing. He deserves our support.”

    Very interesting. How do we know that the guy deserves our help? What do we really know about the case? Do real skeptics just reflexively defend other skeptics uncritically?

  14. M B

    Firstly what does any of this matter? We’re all just a bunch of random mutations and morals are a societal construct. Who cares what happens in this situation and if so-and-so did rape a girl or someone else murdered someone? That’s what animals do. What basis does any party have for claiming the “immorality” of one act or another in this case? Yes, by all means, rush to the aid of this poor fellow. Acknowledge however that you do so by borrowing a moral standard from another philosophy.

  15. Does anyone else want to bother pointing out to M B (#14) why he’s posted something so utterly ridiculous, or do y’all think he’s just a troll and not worth bothering over?

    Or maybe I’m suffering from a borrowed moral standard.

  16. T.E.L.

    M B,

    People’s sensibilities are bound to be caused by something. Calling morality a societal construct, or some other emergence, doesn’t change that people still live by those moral codes. If I were you I’d be more grateful that people have such constraints on their behaviors. Or would you rather just be an extra-large bacterium?

  17. A Christian apologist, methinks, trying to suggest that non-Christians that base their worldview on science are devoid of morals because morals can only come from Jeebus. Sigh. Obvious troll is obvious. (And oblivious.)

  18. As someone whose initials are M.B., I’m taking a step backwards away from that other guy while muttering, “Ew.” Phil, even if he’s not just a troll (he comes across as a creationist’s ill-informed stereotype of an atheist), he’s still not worth bothering over.

  19. M B: Likely you’re a troll. But, let me share this with you — I have a moral standard that causes me to treat any human being as worthy of respect and dignity — until they prove to me by words or actions that they don’t deserve such respect. I guess you’ve just shown me (us) what you’re made of.

  20. You know what, folks? I was not going to comment further on what M B (#14) said, because I don’t like to mix it up too much with my commenters, preferring instead to maintain a forum where people can (politely) speak their minds.

    But M B, what you said was so ignorant, so awful, so plain ugly that it needs to be called out.

    At first I wasn’t sure what you meant, M B. I wondered if you were you advocating that humans are animals, and therefore it’s OK to rape and murder?

    To get some context for your comment, I searched on other comments you’ve made. It’s clear from them — this is an excellent example — that what you are saying is that skeptics — and, I assume in your mind you equate that with atheists — have no morals other than what they have borrowed from religion, and again I assume your religion. That is patently untrue. If you actually did a little reading, you might find that humans evolved moral behavior, and codified them long before organized religion came along.

    The idea that without religion people would act as they pleased — stealing, raping, murdering, whatever — is one of the most offensive, narrow-minded and ridiculous arguments I have heard from people defending religious intrusion into laws and the classroom. Do people who believe this really think that before their religion existed, everyone acted that way? Do you really think we’d have survived as a species?

    It’s attitudes like this — assuming I’ve interpreted it correctly, and please correct me if I’m wrong — that inspire me to redouble my efforts to fight religious intolerance.

  21. Religious people need the nonreligious to be amoral, evil people. That way they have an excuse to impose their laws on us.

    Let us continue to be a terrible disappointment to them.

  22. Alan in Upstate NY

    Religion is hardly a requirement for being a responsible, moral person.

    There are certainly people who claim to embrace religion yet have either forgotten or decided to ignore “Love your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Clear skies, Alan

  23. Kat

    Jason, please don’t call the troll a Christian apologist. I know sane & reasonable, scientifically-minded Christians are thin on the ground on the Internet, but we try really hard to both explain why we believe what we do and to maintain civil discourse around those who give all Christians a bad name. A real apologist uses logic and reason to try to explain what they believe and why, rather than abusing others with their supposed moral superiority. The way MB is behaving is rude and essentially un-Christian.

  24. Lyontamer73
  25. Well put, CC!
    Well put, Phil!
    I second the motion to redouble our efforts against ignorance!

  26. @M B,

    How on earth does this have anything to do with Astronomy? Shouldn’t you be trolling on Pharyngula or Unreasonable Faith like the previous goons who were “lying for Jesus”?

    I suppose that wolves and baboons are also “borrowing a moral standard from another philosophy” when they prefer eating non-kin (most of the time).

    I also suppose that had termites or ants not read your respective religious text we would never find two distinct colonies cohabitating and working together.

    Morality, whether it be our highly refined version or the incredibly simple versions we find all over the animal kingdom, is a necessary tool for social animals. To think that any sort of superior morality came from any of the prominent religious texts (or their respective skyhooks) is not only incredibly stupid, it is also amazingly small minded.

  27. Lyontamer73

    I’m kinda tired of this argument. Almost as tired as I am of nigerian email scams.

    “How do we know that the guy deserves our help? What do we really know about the case? Do real skeptics just reflexively defend other skeptics uncritically?”

    You go right on ahead and sit there on your butt and think critically, while the rest of us take a chance at being wrong, in order to take an even greater chance of being right and saving a fellow human being’s life.

    Science and life both often work like that. Chance. I am not going to deny a man the help he needs just because he lives where he lives. *That’s* skepticism.

  28. TagWire

    Taking a stance on Trolling.

    “Religious people need the nonreligious to be amoral, evil people. That way they have an excuse to impose their laws on us.” -MarkHB

    MarkHB is ignoring the definition of amoral and redefining it to sell a failed argument.

    Amoral

    –adjective
    1. not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral.
    2. having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong: a completely amoral person.

    from (Dictionary.com Random House)

  29. Aaron

    There is a crucial distinction to be made between religion and morality.

    Religion is for making it into the afterlife by pleasing your deity.

    Morality is for living on Earth.

    Disagree with me? Notice how religion tends to command that you do things that are inimical towards human life while morality tells you what you should and shouldn’t do based on the assumption that, if you do something you shouldn’t do, you’ll hurt others and/or yourself, and if you do what you should do, you increase your chances of living a longer and more enjoyable life.

    Some religions tell you to not eat certain foods. Some tell you to maim your genitalia, kill others that don’t believe in the same religion that you do, or slaughter people that have sexual practices that do not produce more children that can be indoctrinated. This will clash with morality on many occasions, yet the religious types keep attempting to blur the crucial distinction that I pointed out. Why? Because they want more people to make it to the same afterlife that they believe in–they’re not interested in living on Earth.

  30. The irony is, “M B”, that the further away we move from the Bible’s idea of morality, the more moral we become. Or perhaps you are an advocate of infanticide, genocide, stonings, rape, human sacrifice, slavery, genital mutilation and the like? You may want to borrow some morality from us. G’head. You need it.

  31. Sir Cake

    Ignorance may be bliss (it really isn’t), but willful ignorance is just sticking your head in the sand. MB’s ignorance is willfully and defiantly displayed in every post. You’ll never change his mind, but you might influence people sitting on the fence.

    Phil, I think your decision to stay out of the debates in your comments is a good one. But sometimes… sometimes, you just gotta.

    Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration.

  32. Greg the Goofy Antiscience Guy

    Here’s hoping that Phil is also willing to reply to other statements that are “so ignorant, so awful, so plain ugly” as to deserve it…

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/533-following-up.html

  33. quasidog

    M B sounds like a typical ‘smart’ kid with absolutely ‘no clue’. I mean, we might be animals, but we are animals with MEGA brains, including reasoning, wisdom, etc. Comparing Humans to animals is stupid.

    Sound to me like a typical ill thought out ‘off the cuff’ comment. No matter how you work it, he/she is wrong.

    Anything is true is you leave out enough facts, and man, MB sure is leaving out a few facts.

  34. I’m disgusted with MB’s comment.

    The amazing thing about humankind is that we care. We care about the injustice served to others. It makes us unique and amazing. We may not be able to take on the tragedies of the whole world, but it genuinely matters to most of us when others are suffering…especially when, like with this man, it’s an unfair accusation to someone who has actually done something about the suffering of others.

    You don’t have to subscribe to a certain diety to be a good person, or to be concerned with the issues of others. In fact, many people who do subscribe to a certain religion use it as an excuse to not concern themselves with certain issues, or even to perpetrate injustice in God’s name. Which is sad and sick.

    Thankfully, not everyone who believes in a higher power is that way. But I’d be willing to wager that MB might be.

  35. quasidog

    … by facts I mean, facts of life, not facts regarding this article.

  36. T.E.L.

    Lyontamer73 Said:

    “You go right on ahead and sit there on your butt and think critically, while the rest of us take a chance at being wrong, in order to take an even greater chance of being right and saving a fellow human being’s life.”

    What chance? What in the HELL do you know about any of this? Do you always go off half-cocked? The United States is mired in two wars right now because we went off half-cocked. Sure, there was a chance it was the right thing to do…

    Hear this: I don’t know that guy. Phil doesn’t know that guy. For all I know, the guy really might be guilty. If all you want to do is preach about chance, then you must take THAT chance into account as well. And really: there are about a billion people in much worse shape than he is right now; people who dig through garbage each day to scrounge up just enough food to stay alive to do it all again tomorrow. So why aren’t you rallying to those people’s aid? Huh? Why? They need help, too. So what are you doing complaining to me instead of doing something yourself? Why aren’t you flying to Nigeria at this exact moment to testify as a character witness? Just because someone labeled the guy “skeptic” doesn’t tell me one damn’ thing about this case one way or the other.

    Personally I’d be really ashamed if a letter-writing campaign made the difference in the outcome of the case. Are we ruled by law or by popularity contest?

    “Science and life both often work like that. Chance.”

    Science is NOT just a crapfest, you faker. Serendipity is probabilistic; but science does not equal serendipity. Science is rational, strategic. Do you suppose that CERN gets funding for its multi-billion dollar machine because the scientists just tossed some dice? How about medical research? My wife happens to be in medical research, and there’s nothing random about it. Science is method, not madness. It can be the same with life itself.

  37. Gary Ansorge

    23. Kat

    Excellant point!

    Ethical behavior exists as a survival adaptation to living in interdependent groups. True, some humans have practiced cannibalism but it is almost invariably as a RELIGIOUS ritual, like eating the heart of a great warrior to gain his power.

    One famous scientist claimed that baboons were so aggressive compared to humans that if THEY had developed nukes, Earth wouldn’t have lasted a week. 99 % of the humans I have known(anecdotal evidence, anyone) have been generous, joyful, compassionate beings, independent of their religion or lack there of. 1 % are just jerks. I wonder in which category M.B. falls? It IS a personal choice, to be one or the other. Even sociopaths know that what they do is inconsistent with living in a productive relationship with others. Some even make the better, logical choice to live as an ethical being, even though they really don’t empathize with other people. It just makes life so much easier for all concerned and, one might note, logic does not require religion.

    GAry 7

  38. Gary Ansorge

    Ohil:

    I just noticed: in the address bar for this page, it indicates # comment 238443. Is that a count of the number of comments that have been entered on this blog?

    Gary 7
    PS Just saw that counter bump to 238,444, so I guess that answered my question.

    Never mind.

  39. Justin

    M B, if your philosopy is the only thing keeping you from becoming a rapist or murderer, please continue to believe in your philosopy. If it isn’t, then you have demonstrated that your argument is false.

  40. Pareidolius

    Well, what about showing up again MB? Well? . . . I thought so.

  41. Flying sardines

    @ 13. & 36. T.E.L. Says:

    Very interesting. How do we know that the guy deserves our help? What do we really know about the case? Do real skeptics just reflexively defend other skeptics uncritically? Hear this: I don’t know that guy. Phil doesn’t know that guy. … … & .. For all I know, the guy really might be guilty.

    Might I suggest that this illustrates the difference between skepticism and cynicism?

    Skepticism is asking questions and trying to understand things better based on logical thinking.

    Cynicism is assuming the worst of everyone.

    Yes, I guess there’s a slight, remote possibility that Leo Igwe is guilty – but what T.E.L. would do, or so it seems to me, is either assume that he is guilty or not care whether or not he is & not allow for the likelihood that he is innocent.

    There are some sources of information which are – usually – reliable & Dr Phil Plait is one of them. The BA (like me & you) does not know this man personally but he has investigated and considered the matter well before blogging about it & he’s given us all extra sources of information we can use to research for ourselves :

    ” Please note all this is alleged, but is coming from multiple sources. You can find more information on the Think Humanism forum. Also, Kylie Sturgess has been on this since it started, and has more information on this case with updates and what can be done to help.”

    So if multiple sources – many skeptical and intelligent individuals – say this guy is legitimate then why do you automatically discount that & jump to the opposite conclusion?

    What research have done and what evidence have you got to support your assertion that Leo Igwe, a man you admit you don’t know, is *guilty* when what evidence we do have strongly indicates this man is innocent? Well?

    You do know what the “golden rule” of Western style legal justice (US, UK, Aust., etc ..) don’t you? It’s the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    Its not the other way around T.E.L. – & so I’ll presume you’re just having a bad day, heck we all have those! 😉

    Oh & that “other people” line :

    “really: there are about a billion people in much worse shape than he is right now”

    is a non-sequiteur – it may be true but its not what we’re talking about and not relevant to this specific case. Try to help others? Sure, good idea. Use them as an excuse not to care about this man & his case? No way.

  42. Drekab

    Are we ruled by law or by popularity contest?

    Do you really need someone to answer that for you, where do you think letter writing campaigns come from? And what’s this ‘we’ you’re talking about anyway, most folks here don’t hail from Nigeria, and no, humanity as a whole is not ruled by a single body of laws.

  43. Flying sardines

    @ 14. M B (the troll) Says:

    Firstly what does any of this matter? We’re all just a bunch of random mutations and morals are a societal construct.

    Bzzzt! Wrong. “Morals” are also intrinsic in the higher lifeforms such as elephants, whales, even dogs … but not trolls it seems. 😛

    Plus natural selection is NOT random – we evolved because certain genes confer certain advantages under particular environmental conditions. (In our case the genes for intelligence, bipedalism, good social skills, etc .. ) Your ignorance is showing & I suggest you do some research to rectify that problem of yours.

    Who cares what happens in this situation and if so-and-so did rape a girl or someone else murdered someone?

    Most normal humans care. Me for one but also clearly the Bad Astronomer, Kylie Sturgess and many others if you’d like specific examples. Which seeing as you’re just trolling I guess you wouldn’t but tough! 😉

    That’s what animals do.

    Humans *are* animals – we are just a hairless ape species with all the wonders & pains of our biological faunal nature & I’m not ashamed to say so. There are even many non-human animals whose company I’d prefer to some human company! 😉

    What basis does any party have for claiming the “immorality” of one act or another in this case?

    An ethical one based on common human values and inalienable human rights as well as empathy for others.

    Yes, by all means, rush to the aid of this poor fellow. Acknowledge however that you do so by borrowing a moral standard from another philosophy.

    Which philosophy did you have in mind I wonder – Buddhism? Jainism? Judaism? Bahai? Islam? Pastafarianism? Zoroastrianism? Or something else? 😉

    Sorry, I don’t think we need to acknowledge any specific philosophy when we act at such a basic level of right and wrong as this.

  44. Flying sardines

    @34. Star Says:

    I’m disgusted with MB’s comment.

    The amazing thing about humankind is that we care. We care about the injustice served to others. It makes us unique and amazing. We may not be able to take on the tragedies of the whole world, but it genuinely matters to most of us when others are suffering…especially when, like with this man, it’s an unfair accusation to someone who has actually done something about the suffering of others.

    You don’t have to subscribe to a certain diety to be a good person, or to be concerned with the issues of others. In fact, many people who do subscribe to a certain religion use it as an excuse to not concern themselves with certain issues, or even to perpetrate injustice in God’s name. Which is sad and sick.

    Thankfully, not everyone who believes in a higher power is that way. But I’d be willing to wager that MB might be.

    * applause*

    I couldn’t agree more. Well said. :-)

  45. bassmanpete

    Gary @ 37 said

    99 % of the humans I have known(anecdotal evidence, anyone) have been generous, joyful, compassionate beings, independent of their religion or lack there of. 1 % are just jerks.

    Gary, you’ve obviously never lived in Far North Queensland!

  46. T.E.L.

    Flying sardines,

    Exactly what conclusion do you think I’ve jumped to? I never said I think the guy is guilty. I never assumed the worst about him. You, on the other hand, have done exactly that in my case. You’ve misinterpreted my thesis, which is that I don’t know enough about the case to warrant giving it any special interest. I never even knew he existed before yesterday, and I’m not about to put the man on trial from across the internet.

    In my estimation, this thread is less a model of healthy skepticism, and more a demonstration of the ugliness of Groupthink. I don’t think several of you know the meaning of skepticism. You’re just looking for acceptance.

  47. sbh

    I’m puzzled by certain comments in this thread–those that assume the writer’s ignorance (I would say abysmal ignorance personally) should influence others in their thinking about Leo Igwe.

    I don’t claim to be particularly well-informed about the skeptical movement in Africa, but, yeah, even I’ve heard of him. He’s one of Africa’s best-known skeptics. I’ve read his articles. I’ve blogged about him. He’s recently been under attack by religious zealots intent on putting an end to skepticism as an organized movement in Africa and I strongly suspect that the current charges are simply more of the same. I could be wrong of course. I don’t live anywhere near Nigeria and every movement has its scumbags–but I have absolutely no reason to believe that Leo Igwe is one of them, or that these these particular charges are any different from the other attacks against him.

    And for somebody to offer his personal ignorance as an example of healthy skepticism is, well, absolutely ludicrous.

  48. Sadly, I must agree with T.E.L. Just because someone is labeled as a skeptic, you cannot automatically assume anything. I would like to think that skeptics are generally good people but I do not know them all and therefore could not venture an opinion.

    Having a black and white stance, especially in the context of Africa is also never a good idea. Things, especially politics are usually a very grey area and very seldom uncomplicated.

    Once you have properly researched this person and are convinced of the facts, you can have an opinion and Phil did provide some links to do this; however, T.E.L. is also right in that the ‘pro’ in this thread feels more like group think that healthy scepticism.

  49. I agree with those who’ve said you can’t assume innocence based on a blog. However, I assume most people here clicked at least the provided links, if not searched further after that. Any time I read a blog where something is presented like this, I try to look into it as fully as I can, especially when it has to do with somewhere like Africa, where things are pretty crazy, to put it mildly. I imagine most people who read a self professed skeptic’s blog do the same.

  50. Peter B

    Shawn said: “Sadly, I must agree with T.E.L. Just because someone is labeled as a skeptic, you cannot automatically assume anything. I would like to think that skeptics are generally good people but I do not know them all and therefore could not venture an opinion.”

    Fair enough. But I’d encourage you to visit the web-site of the Australian Skeptics (www.skeptics.com.au) and read some of the back issues of “the Skeptic” magazine which are posted there. Leo Igwe has written for the magazine a number of articles about issues in Africa of interest to skeptics.

  51. @Peter B Says

    I will do just that, thanks for the link Peter.

  52. John Kwok

    @ Phil –

    You could note that there are Atheists who have written extensively as to why we need to retain ethics and morality in society, especially from a secular, non-religious perspective (Am thinking in particular of philosopher Austin Dacey’s “The Secular Conscience”.), so those who are so blinded by their religious faith – as M. B. most certainly is – need to be reminded that theirs are views not borne out by many non-religious people who do recognize the need to possess a strong sense of ethics and morality.

  53. Asimov Fan

    @ 46. T.E.L. Says:

    Flying sardines, Exactly what conclusion do you think I’ve jumped to? I never said I think the guy is guilty.

    Well saying

    ” Phil doesn’t know that guy. … … & .. For all I know, the guy really might be guilty. “

    When the evidence we ‘ve got contradicts that might not be *exactly* saying that you think Leo Igwe *is* guilty but it does seem to come rather close to it.

    Given the evidence provided here, just why exactly did you write that line if I may ask?

  54. Kat @23 and others that are upset that I use the term “Christian apologist” so lightly, I apologize. That said, every other time I have encountered this exact argument — this “concern troll”, or “wolf in skeptic’s clothing”, it has been a Christian save one, who was a Muslim, attempting to paint skeptics as amoral or immoral beings capable of anything by dint of having no deities they follow (and by dint of not following Yahweh most specifically).

    That said, I’m afraid the only part of my earlier comment that ruffled feathers that I’m willing to retract is the “apologist” part, as there are people capable of trying to reconcile the Christian dogmas with reality by the use of logic and reason, and those people already have the mantle of “Christian apologist”. If I could go back and rewrite the comment I made earlier, I would have called him a Christian fundamentalist. The fact that Christian covers some 33,000 splinter groups means I’m already casting a very wide net, though I could widen it somewhat and remain likely to catch this particular troll in it by calling him a worshipper of the Abrahamic god. It’s still an assumption, but as with my original comment @17, it’s a bet — a “methinks”.

  55. John S.

    @Phil
    “If you actually did a little reading, you might find that humans evolved moral behavior, and codified them long before organized religion came along.”

    The idea of evolved moral behavior has its own Unfortunate Implications. Namely, that it’s random, arbitrary, and therefore ultimately meaningless, just like having five fingers on one hand. There’s no real reason for it, it’s just there because it helped us out-compete the other animals. Morality becomes just a biological urge to perpetuate the species, and the twinge of sorrow that I feel for a suffering fellow human becomes functionally equivalent to the twinge I feel when a hot girl walks by.

  56. T.E.L.

    Azimov Fan,

    1- What part of “I don’t know enough about the case” don’t you understand?

    2- What evidence? All Phil linked is a few pieces of uncontrolled hearsay.

  57. Gary Ansorge

    45. bassmanpete

    Whoa! Dude! You mean you don’t have that 1%??? WAY cool. Now I’ve gotta visit.

    55 John S.

    So you’re saying, because the universe has no a priori meaning, we might just as well commit suicide?? Everything is useless, nobody loves you (for a higher reason). Crap, might as well eat some worms.

    WE give our lives meaning, which is ultimately pertinent to US. Love, compassion, empathy may just be complex neurological responses to adaptive pressures, but dammit, they make me feel GOOD.
    ,,,and I likes feeling good.

    As an aside, I note there are transhumanists involved in trying to ensure that if/when we create a true AI, it is at least a likable one and preferably one that appreciates those very qualities evolution has granted us that we consider admirable from a human perspective. See this link to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and his(Yudkowskys) explanation for what transhumanism is, in simple terms.

    http://yudkowsky.net/singularity/simplified

    Gary 7
    PS: I love stumbling across minds brighter than my own and his is one of those.

  58. Flying sardines

    @ 56. T.E.L. Says:

    1- What part of “I don’t know enough about the case” don’t you understand?

    Well if you just wrote that I wouldn’t have had a problem. But from what you wrote earlier I (& Asimov fan among others too – THX. :-) ) got the distinct impression you consider Leo Igwe is guilty despite what the BA wrote.

    Or, as I noted in comment 41, the impression was that you didn’t care whether he was guilty or innocent & would rather ignore his specific case because there are in your view “millions of others worse off.”

    Perhaps this is a misunderstanding on my part but then perhaps you should look at how you phrased things?

    I for one consider the BA’s word to be reliable not least because of his past performances and his skeptical credentials. Its not that I take everything he says on faith or without questioning or cross-checking but in cases like this my first reaction isn’t to effectively say – as I got the impression you esentially did – “Nah, who cares, he’s probably guilty anyway!” Which strikes me as more cynical & callous than skeptical.

    If you’d simply said “I don’t know enough yet to decide whether he’s guilty or innocent” then that’s one thing which I could kinda agree with at least to begin with although I’d then suggest you research and find out more.

    But instead what you said was:

    ***
    13. T.E.L. Says:
    January 9th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Jayne Said: “In all seriousness folks, please follow those links and consider writing the appropriate authorities. These kind of online activities/outside pressure *do* sometimes make a difference. This guy is in real trouble for trying to do the right thing. He deserves our support.”

    Very interesting. How do we know that the guy deserves our help? What do we really know about the case? Do real skeptics just reflexively defend other skeptics uncritically?

    ****

    Which left me with the condensed and summarised impression of Jayne saying Leo Igwe deserves our help & you disputing it & effectively saying “no he doesn’t!” :-(

    And then you went on further:

    ****
    36. T.E.L. Says:
    January 9th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Lyontamer73 Said: “You go right on ahead and sit there on your butt and think critically, while the rest of us take a chance at being wrong, in order to take an even greater chance of being right and saving a fellow human being’s life.”

    What chance? What in the HELL do you know about any of this?

    We know what the BA’s told us & he has provided further sources and this has been supported by others here who *have* heard of Leo Igwe before (eg. 47 sbh & 50 peter B. )

    So question T.E.L.; are you really meaning to imply that the BA is lying or plain wrong? What basis do *you* have for contradicting what we’ve been told and why are *you* arguing that the BA’s opening piece here is wrong?

    Do you always go off half-cocked? The United States is mired in two wars right now because we went off half-cocked. Sure, there was a chance it was the right thing to do…

    Only a chance? So taking action on what seems to me pretty reliable info on Leo Igwe’s case is like taking a half-cocked gamble? Really? :roll:

    That “US got into two wars half-cocked right now” is, first, an irrelevant non-sequiteur &, second, very debatable to say the least. Is the US really fighting two separate wars or two fronts in the one wider war? Did we start it “half-cocked” or did the other side start it by oh, I dunno, say flying planeloads of innocent people into buildings where innocent civilians were working on 9-11? Didn’t Osama bin laden himself declare war on the US first and haven’t Muslim Jihadists been attacking Americans and Westerners more generally since .. well pretty much since they came into existence?

    When criticising others about “skepticism” and doubt it may not be the best idea to support your position with an irrelevant & highly dubious political personal opinion. :roll:

    Hear this: I don’t know that guy. Phil doesn’t know that guy. For all I know, the guy really might be guilty.

    Why? What precisely do you know that makes you think leo Igwe is guilty? Back up this asertion T.E.L. or just admit you made an error rather than digging your hole ever deeper.

    From all the available evdience which is what skeptics go on it looks very much as though Leo Igwe is onncoent tome and I think most others reading this. Youdin’t say you didn’t know you didn’t say he may be either innocent or guilty you flat out said that bit in bold. Why do you so seem hostile to this particular man & his case especially when you admit you don’t know him? It looks very much from that bit you are being cynical and assuming the worst of him for reasons I frankly cannot fathom.

    If all you want to do is preach about chance, then you must take THAT chance into account as well.

    All chances are not equal. Yes, there is a remote possibility that what we have been told is all wrong, that the BA has been fooled that all the other people who have chimed in have also been fooled, that someone with an obvious grudge and what looks like a ridiculous case is actually right despite all the indications to the contrary. But is it that likely or probable or even plausible? I don’t think so. :roll:

    And really: there are about a billion people in much worse shape than he is right now; people who dig through garbage each day to scrounge up just enough food to stay alive to do it all again tomorrow. So why aren’t you rallying to those people’s aid? Huh? Why? They need help, too. So what are you doing complaining to me instead of doing something yourself? Why aren’t you flying to Nigeria at this exact moment to testify as a character witness? Just because someone labeled the guy “skeptic” doesn’t tell me one damn’ thing about this case one way or the other.

    I’ve already delt witgh that non-sequiteur in my firts comment (41) here.

    Personally I’d be really ashamed if a letter-writing campaign made the difference in the outcome of the case. Are we ruled by law or by popularity contest?

    Nigeria ( the “we” & “law” in question here). is hardly an optimum model of legal freedom and impartial justice. We know it tobe one of the more corrupt and unjust nations in a continent full of many corrupt and unjust third world nations. have you heard about Ken Saro-Wiwa by any chance?

    You’d really be ashamed T.E.L. if pressure from people who give a damn about skepticism and justice and human rights resulted in an almost certainly innocent man being released from false imprisonment? That’s very messed up. :-(

    & finally

    2- What evidence? All Phil linked is a few pieces of uncontrolled hearsay.

    Versus your evidence for Leo Igwe’s guilt which would be … what exactly? :roll:

    Besides I disagree with your asessment there of the sources the BA linked to.

  59. Peter B

    T.E.L. said: “What evidence? All Phil linked is a few pieces of uncontrolled hearsay.”

    Please note what I said at message #50. Mr Igwe has provided numerous articles for the Australian Skeptics’ magazine “the Skeptic” about living a skeptical life in Africa, and you can read many of them if you go to the Australian Skeptics web-site at http://www.skeptics.com.au.

    Okay, that doesn’t provide evidence either way in the specific case, but it establishes Mr Igwe’s credibility and reliability.

    Having read some of those articles, would you now be willing to do something to help him?

  60. T.E.L.

    Peter B,

    I have nothing against Igwe. He may be quite a gentleman. But I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS CASE. There’s something missing from this conversation, which is that no one is speaking on behalf of Igwe’s antagonist. Igwe may be innocent of murder. But what makes you think the other guy is guilty of rape?

  61. T.E.L.

    Flying sardines Said:

    “Well if you just wrote that I wouldn’t have had a problem.”

    I did write that, in #46. So what’s your problem?

    What you and some others are missing is that I NEVER said I think Igwe is guilty of anything. What I did say wasn’t a comment about Igwe; it was a comment about myself. I said “FOR ALL I KNOW…”. If you’d just go buy yourself a small bottle of reading comprehension, you’d see that it’s an admission of ignorance on my part. Not knowing is not knowing, period. Not knowing doesn’t mean I should pretend to know enough to compute the odds of guilt and innocence.

    FURTHERMORE, what you and others are missing is that I don’t know why this particular case is worth more of my effort than any of the other several thousand travesties of justice that happen any day you’d care to pick. Is it because Phil called him a skeptic? What of it? Being a skeptic doesn’t mean he’s more deserving than any the homeless people walking right past my house at this moment. Skeptics aren’t a privileged class in the eyes of the Law.

    Or, is is because, skeptic or not, Phil told you to do it? Phil is a nice guy; but he’s not the Messiah sent here to wash us of our sins. Phil is a mammal who sits on the toilet a couple of times a day just like anyone else. Phil is not a HAL 9000 computer, foolproof and incapable or error. He’s made lots of mistakes.

    And anyway, why are you arguing with me? Do you think I should be conscripted into rallying to this cause? Nothing is stopping you or anyone else from following your conscience. If you think Igwe needs help, then HELP HIM.

  62. mike burkhart

    This sounds like a smerr campan by his critics if you ask me and it disgusting Phil is right to expose it I may disagree with people and them with me but to falsely accuse some one just because we don’t agree with them is worng . Besides faith is about the truth to lie is an offence agaist the truth especily when that lie ruins some one elses repution It sounds like there is no evidence of a murder and no witness if the victm died of AIDs then thats natural causes. One more thing Phil even thro I am Catholic I don’t judge others because when it comes to morals mine have been loose at times I’ll close with this “JUDGE LEST YOU BE JUDGE AND BY THE STANDERDS YOU APPLY”

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