Here goes nothin

I don’t think that avoiding all people we deem irrational is going to reverse the infiltration of religious thought into our government and public institutions. Irrationality is not a black and white delineation were all people fall on one or the other side of that demarcation point. The majority of people are a mix of both rational and irrational thought. I have met atheists who believe every
conspiracy theory that comes along. I know people who work in science, are highly educated, are atheist, and yet they will not open an umbrella indoors or step on cracks in the sidewalk. I constantly notice numbers in the course of my day that I think mean I’m going to have some good luck or x situation is going to go my way. I don’t believe any of us is immune from some irrationality. I had a friend in Spain who was barking mad in that he believed god talked to him when he wrote and guided his hand as he wrote down what he was certain were inspirational insights into gods plan. We were able to remain friends while he knew I thought he was bonkers on the issue of god etc. I realized after that friendship that I had always carried the irrational idea that interacting with crazy people was dangerous because crazy might be infectious. It’s not. It didn’t cost me anything to be patient with him and explain my point of view about his beliefs. And, I also realized I did not need to change his mind. I just needed him to understand that other people could have other views and those people were not abstractions but real people with valid opinions that deserved his respect.
I am not trying to make my family more rational as much as I want them to see me as a real person with valid ideas and opinions, instead of the version of what and who I am that they will hear about at church and in there cultural cocoons they reside in.
I need to have a relatively rational community like this forum to help me congeal and form a better understanding about all the things I really care about. It only makes sense to me that I will want to take what I find here and try to spread some of it out there. I want people I disagree with get to know on of “them”, instead of what they are told “they” are. We don’t need to change their befiefs, we need to humanize who they are told we are.

There is also another point that can be made. An irrational standpoint is not necessary false, a rational standpoint not necessary true. If we take an accepted definition of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’, then we might ask, justified by whom?
If we are talking science, then it is clear what is meant: experts draw their conclusions, based on empirical evidence and rational criticism by fellow experts of their standpoints. As long as a scientific theory survives, it means there are more good arguments in favour of it as against it. But the tides might turn when new empirical data drop in, or somebody comes with different, and better arguments against a theory. So the theory counts as rational, but it might turn out being not true. For us laypersons, we have to trust the expert circles, and therefore, for us, a belief is rational if we can trust that the experts made their ‘rational job’, even if the subject at hand is much too complicated to be able to justify our belief ourselves.
On the other side, if one is arguing for a viewpoint on which science has nothing to say, or not yet something to say (e.g. on topics of philosophy, ethics, politics), a viewpoint can only count as rational when one is prepared to weigh arguments pro and contra the viewpoint. If one is not prepared to back his or hers viewpoint with arguments, or is not prepared to adapt the viewpoint because of the better argument, ones viewpoint, or opinion might be true, but is irrational.
In such case an opinion is as much worth as the statement that his or her favourite colour is green: a statement about taste. It might be interesting for others who are interested in this person, but has no general value beyond this personal context.

I’m happy you’re here, Handyman, but from your post I think you already have a good grasp on reality and your life. :slight_smile: