Stranger than Fiction

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, maybe some of our recent visitors have an opinion. I have a few friends that are into all sorts of universal consciousness, mind expansion, all that, and some just plain old belief in God. What I’ve been thinking is, it must seem unfair to them that I judge them based on what others have done. From the extremes, the abusive Popes of the past, up the more recent cults, and just good ol’ grandma telling a kid they are going to hell. I put all of them on the same scale of psychological abuse, and how it leads to physical abuse.

It may not be fair, but I don’t know how else to approach someone who brings something with no evidence and lots of promises. If I’m not wary of that, where do I draw the line? I’m not going to hand my wallet over to the wallet inspector, so why would I give my time to someone’s ungrounded scheme.

That is one of my favorite points. You’re telling me that I’m going to get immortality AFTER I die and you expect me to buy that sight unseen?

And while we do need to judge each person on their individual merits those who share like beliefs also are likely to share a similar psychology in at least some aspects as it relates to the beliefs and what mechanisms and changes have to occur in their minds to make those beliefs possible. To hold any belief our minds have to be ready to accept that belief. When that belief is magical in nature in a world that we accept to be otherwise nonmagical in nature some changes in the way the mind works are going to be necessary. It is reasonable to assume those changes are going to hold some commonalities across the entirety of the group holding the belief.

I suggest everyone who is sentient has a religion. Religion is one’s philosophy (one’s approach) for living one’s life. It may be strictly codified; it may be believing that one has no philosophy; it may be somewhere in between these. Claiming no philosophy is a philosophy.

I tried doing this from memory, but Richard does it so much better. He gets to the point in the first 17 minutes, so you don’t have to watch the whole thing.

Science is just philosophy with better data. Or, Philosophy is science with less data.
In other words, you don't get to ditch the methods of determining how to know if something is true, just because you label it philosophy. If what you are saying is based on nothing but you're own personal feelings, or ignores established facts, or on ancient scripture, then it's not philosophy, it's pseudo-science. And I'm using the nice word here since I'm a moderator.

The problem I’m trying to discuss here is, if you don’t know all the facts, someone who does can fool you. No one knows all the facts, so all of us are vulnerable to this. A person who is good at manipulating will use as much truth as they can without saying something that goes counter to whatever they are selling. I usually sniff them out at the point where they start making claims I know are unlikely, basically the “if it’s too good to be true” test. At that point, although I might not know all the information I need to argue with everything they say, I still retain my right to not believe them based on my a priori knowledge of the odds of them knowing what they say they know.


Oh, you have no idea how much I hate that argument. Every atheist who has ever honestly answered the question “What religion are you?” has dealt with the argument “Atheism is just another religion, no different than mine.” when stating, “I have no religion”.

And I would like to point out that you just chastised me the other day for coming to conclusions about your beliefs in another thread and now you’re doing a very similar thing to pretty much everyone, everywhere, in all time. This isn’t a “gotcha” thing. I’m not “calling you” on something. We all do look at things differently depending on whether we agree or disagree with the concepts involved. I just thought I should point it out.

Widdershins, on the other hand, seems to prefer to add words and conclusions I did not post and then to posit...
When that belief is magical in nature in a world that we accept to be otherwise nonmagical in nature some changes in the way the mind works are going to be necessary. It is reasonable to assume those changes are going to hold some commonalities across the entirety of the group holding the belief.
This is backed up by data. People who believe UFOs are real are more likely to believe the earth is flat or vaccines are more harmful than the diseases they prevent. In practice though, that's part of the unfairness. It's a fallacy to assume something about an individual because they are part of a group where that that something occurs in a statistically significant way. It's the technical definition of prejudice. However, we're not talking about skin color here, we're talking about knowledge, which is something you can choose to pursue.

That friend I mentioned elsewhere, I saw him slide. It started with the fake moon landing. He said he was just having fun. Before too long he was talking about pizzagate. The whole time and up to now, he gets more angry about being called a conspiracy theorists, and claims he’s just asking questions. I’ve explained epistemology to him and he says he just doesn’t understand it, but of course he uses evidence just like everyone else. He’s just a harmless troll, but we can see how powerful people under-fund our educational system and question science to play on this natural human frailty.

South Park did a bit on the “just asking questions” thing. It’s the newest craze, apparently, to act like you’re on Jeopardy and express your wild, unfounded claim in the form of a question.

I suspect that for some, perhaps many who “professionally” tout this type of crap there has been some research involved about exactly what to say and how to say it to get people’s brains to work the way you want them to. The more conservative someone is the more likely they are to relate Democrats with pure evil, for example. I have no evidence to support this, but I truly believe that there are those out there doing this intentionally, with research to tell them how to do it. It’s working so well for conservatives that they are actually driving people crazy. For decades we’ve dealt with political terrorism. Abortion clinic bombers, the MADA bomber, the MAGA shooter, etc. And on the other side we have eco-terrorists, animal rights terrorists and the baseball game shooter. But on one side it’s pretty rare while on the other side it’s multiple instances a year. So, while anyone with an unbalanced passion could potentially commit an act of violence, one side certainly appears to be actively working to foster unbalanced passion to such an extent that a greater number on their side are prone to acts of violence.

And it’s not just violence. Especially if you look, not just at the right, but specifically at the religious right. I don’t remember the specifics now, but a few years ago there was a 16 year old girl who got a prayer banner removed from her school. Of course, she got death threats. But she also got rape threats. That doesn’t happen to men. It doesn’t happen to old ladies. It doesn’t happen to unattractive women. Something in their heads tells them that it’s okay to threaten to rape a 16 year old, attractive girl because the law sided with her and you don’t like it. She’s 16 and that’s where your mind goes? That has a lot to do, I think, with years of being told that the eternal torture of people you disagree with is “justice”, so what’s a little rape here and there?

Lausten did start this topic by asking for opinions, not facts.

I suggest that we should expect personal subjects, such as how to live one’s life, to be approached by children (innocents) on the basis of wants, feelings, fears and emotions which are pretty much universal. We expect adults to have learned society’s shared philosophy of conduct not only from personal experience, but also from others, and we hold them accountable for their actions.

I think we should expect those who believe they know something wonderful to want to share it with others, especially those close to themselves. I think we can’t fault them for that. If we agree that what they want to share is wonderful we will probably support their efforts. If we don’t agree with their belief we may see it as a problem.

I suggest our best course as individuals is to oppose indoctrination and support education. Railing against individuals for accepting what they have been taught is not good. Pounding the table telling people that the people they respect and possibly love have taught them lies is not good. I think it would be better if we could adjust our response to an individual’s beliefs and behavior based on our perception of the capacity of that individual to avoid wants, feelings, fears and emotions and apply logic to his or her philosophy of living life. I think it would be much better if we could do that without feeling superior.

You’re making more sense in this last post. If you read my other posts (it’s a lot I know), I think you’ll find I’m all about meeting people where they are at and not “pounding the table”. I think when you start explaining the scientific method people take it as if you think you are “superior”. As I’ve pointed out however, the scientific method is based on how our minds actually work. It differs from religious/beliefy methods in that it also recognizes the mind is not always accurate, it uses shortcuts to get through the day. Science interrupts those shortcuts and makes you do the work. It makes you examine what you were told and check if it is true. A mind values people it trusts and also values reason and evidence. When those are in conflict, reason and evidence are the higher standard. If someone I trust won’t use reason, I lower my trust of them.