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Sam Harris on “Wrestling the Troll”
Posted: 07 August 2012 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I want to take a moment to thank Sam Harris for his blog post titled “Wrestling the Troll”.  I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Sam to not want to respond to every critic, and negative post which intentionally (or otherwise) distorts his writings and his opinions.

Sam is a writer of rare intellect and brilliance, and the subject matter he covers is controversial, so naturally it is subject to the rantings of many religious and political types.

Sam, if you happen to read these words, I’d like to leave you with this request:

Spend at least as much time every day blogging to your audience as you do each day thinking about or addressing your detractors. It’s not likely that anything you can say, or do is going to change a closed mind. Yet you lend tremendous strength and courage to others who want to speak out for reason and morality.

My thinking is that you could take another valuable technique from Seth Godin. I’m quite sure he wouldn’t mind… So begin posting something on your blog every day. A few lines or a few pages, whatever.  The more about your thinking on the nature of our world, the better…

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Posted: 07 August 2012 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I would like to thank CrazySailr for his supportive post concerning ‘Wrestling the Trolls’.  And I certainly want to pass along my support to Sam Harris as well. I am particularly pleased that he has paid some special critical attention to PZ Myers and his ‘odious blog’, as Sam accurately puts it.  Having visited that blog often over the past year or so, I have certainly come away with a definite sour stomach over what passes for ‘intellectual debate’.  It seems to be a mere den of seething, back slapping, hive-minded acolytes of Myers, interspersed with slinging epithets of just about anyone else ( or at least, non-‘regulars’) that may want to point out a different view or approach.  If it doesn’t conform to their narrow criteria of what should be considered debatable, the person’s intelligence or character is ripped on; accusations of racism, sexism, stupidity, and any sundry epithets are leveled. This is NO WAY to conduct and encourage needed debate about serious issues, especially when there is a presumed goal of increasing the influence of reason, critical thinking, and freethought within the society. This sort of blog conduct, and the condoning of it by Myers, is my opinion, irresponsible and unproductive, and with Sam Harris (and hopefully others) speaking out on this, perhaps some negative light can be put on Myers and his enterprise to rethink their approach—I’m NOT holding my breath on that .

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Posted: 07 August 2012 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 02:57 PM

I would like to thank CrazySailr for his supportive post concerning ‘Wrestling the Trolls’.  And I certainly want to pass along my support to Sam Harris as well. I am particularly pleased that he has paid some special critical attention to PZ Myers and his ‘odious blog’, as Sam accurately puts it.  Having visited that blog often over the past year or so, I have certainly come away with a definite sour stomach over what passes for ‘intellectual debate’.  It seems to be a mere den of seething, back slapping, hive-minded acolytes of Myers, interspersed with slinging epithets of just about anyone else ( or at least, non-‘regulars’) that may want to point out a different view or approach.  If it doesn’t conform to their narrow criteria of what should be considered debatable, the person’s intelligence or character is ripped on; accusations of racism, sexism, stupidity, and any sundry epithets are leveled. This is NO WAY to conduct and encourage needed debate about serious issues, especially when there is a presumed goal of increasing the influence of reason, critical thinking, and freethought within the society. This sort of blog conduct, and the condoning of it by Myers, is my opinion, irresponsible and unproductive, and with Sam Harris (and hopefully others) speaking out on this, perhaps some negative light can be put on Myers and his enterprise to rethink their approach—I’m NOT holding my breath on that .


Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

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Posted: 07 August 2012 07:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.

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Posted: 07 August 2012 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 07:01 PM

Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.


I am suggesting that for Sam to take on his detractors by employing logic is akin to yelling at the criminally insane to straighten up.
I suppose that he is not immune to criticism but it surprises that he even contemplates taking on people who are delusional.
And anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion is delusional.

 

 

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Posted: 07 August 2012 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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toombaru - 07 August 2012 07:22 PM
KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 07:01 PM

Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.


I am suggesting that for Sam to take on his detractors by employing logic is akin to yelling at the criminally insane to straighten up.
I suppose that he is not immune to criticism but it surprises that he even contemplates taking on people who are delusional.
And anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion is delusional.

 

Thanks toombaru. I would definitely agree on all you just said. Well put.

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Posted: 08 August 2012 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Meh… Seems like Sam is procrastinating smile

I don’t he does anything more than feeding the trolls with his latest post… Its not like they actually reads what he writes.

They used to call him a racist, torture supporting, neo-con, islamophobic bigot. Now they are probably gonna call him a WHINING, racist, torture supporting, neo-con, islamophobic bigot. :(

I really wish Sam would address all this in a new book and especially set the record straight with islam.

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Posted: 08 August 2012 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Yuri - 08 August 2012 06:31 AM

Meh… Seems like Sam is procrastinating smile

I don’t he does anything more than feeding the trolls with his latest post… Its not like they actually reads what he writes.

They used to call him a racist, torture supporting, neo-con, islamophobic bigot. Now they are probably gonna call him a WHINING, racist, torture supporting, neo-con, islamophobic bigot. :(

I really wish Sam would address all this in a new book and especially set the record straight with islam.

Yuri-

Yes, you’re probably right; many (most pointedly, the ‘Pharyngula’ crowd)  probably don’t read what he writes.  More likely, they simply fall in line behind the talking points of their guru PZ Myers.

They used to call him a racist, torture supporting, neo-con, islamophobic bigot. Now they are probably gonna call him a WHINING, racist, torture supporting, neo-con, islamophobic bigot. :(

  Love this, and I think you’re spot on with it. I think it’s fairly safe to say it’s a virtual guaranteed reaction.


Your suggestion about Sam writing a new book addressing this is an excellent idea, and I would love to see that too. Although it still wouldn’t break up the mental concrete in the minds of the pseudo-intellectual trolls that populate the town of Pharyngulaville.

In the writings of Harris that I’ve read,.. in the debates and interviews of Sam that I have watched, all over the past 7 to 9 years that I’ve been following him, he has certainly does not espouse bigotry, racism, or neo-con positions (at least not as concerns economics).  If he were espousing any of this, one would think it would make him a darling to Republicans/conservatives—I think we could be pretty confident that he is ANYTHING BUT that.

I certainly want to see reason, science and scientific thinking, freethought and open RESPECTFUL debate and discussion permeate the society, and religion to fade away. And I find those like Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Chris Mooney, Dan Dennet, Michael Shermer, Colin McGinn, A.C Grayling, and so many more that I would like to list, have the brains, wisdom and temperament to help move the social thinking ahead.  And as Lawrence Krauss observes, the deepest, long-term changes in thinking need to be finessed and grown organically, and that takes a deft hand, with molding and conditioning through repetition and careful communication to the masses—not by the disrespectful, arrogant and bullying approach of P. Z. Myers, his supporters and others like him.

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Posted: 08 August 2012 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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KreativeKaos - 08 August 2012 08:00 AM

In the writings of Harris that I’ve read,.. in the debates and interviews of Sam that I have watched, all over the past 7 to 9 years that I’ve been following him, he has certainly does not espouse bigotry, racism, or neo-con positions (at least not as concerns economics).  If he were espousing any of this, one would think it would make him a darling to Republicans/conservatives—I think we could be pretty confident that he is ANYTHING BUT that.

I certainly want to see reason, science and scientific thinking, freethought and open RESPECTFUL debate and discussion permeate the society, and religion to fade away. And I find those like Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Chris Mooney, Dan Dennet, Michael Shermer, Colin McGinn, A.C Grayling, and so many more that I would like to list, have the brains, wisdom and temperament to help move the social thinking ahead.  And as Lawrence Krauss observes, the deepest, long-term changes in thinking need to be finessed and grown organically, and that takes a deft hand, with molding and conditioning through repetition and careful communication to the masses—not by the disrespectful, arrogant and bullying approach of P. Z. Myers, his supporters and others like him.

Well spoken, KreativeKaos. I could not agree more with you. I also like your attribution to Lawrence Krause.  It’s sad really, that so many of the ‘masses’ who Sam Harris is attempting to communicate with, seem completely unready to hear him clearly.

Still, I can’t help but think that Sam sometimes spends far to much capital trying to counter critiscms and trying to make certain that everything he writes or says is correctly understood by everyone.

On the other hand, respectful debate - at is core should always be about changing peoples minds.  So I usually find myself applauding Sam for trying to engage with those who don’t agree with him or his world view. For all of his efforts in this regard, Sam Harris is an amazing role model. He is one of the great minds of our age, and it seems to me that the more people who hear him speak or read his writings, the more likely it is that our world may eventually become a more reasonable place to live.

-Crazysailr

[ Edited: 08 August 2012 10:04 AM by CrazySailr]
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Posted: 08 August 2012 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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toombaru - 07 August 2012 07:22 PM
KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 07:01 PM

Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.


I am suggesting that for Sam to take on his detractors by employing logic is akin to yelling at the criminally insane to straighten up.
I suppose that he is not immune to criticism but it surprises that he even contemplates taking on people who are delusional.
And anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion is delusional.

 

toombaru, So what you are saying is that it is completely futile to debate anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion, right?  Fortunately for all of us, not everyone takes this view. I’m sure you don’t really believe this, either. Just as I’m sure that your metaphor about occasionally yelling at the criminally insane to “Straighten Up!!!!!!!” might be perceived as crazy in some circles.

The written word is both a very precise form of communication, but also a easily misunderstood one. To take someone litterlly at their written word can so often cause one to miss the humor and wit of the author. In this case, your original post was quite funny, even though it needed a little clarification after you posted it. But I must take exception to the spirit of your clarification, because if taken literally, it would mean an end to all rational debate about religion.  We need MORE rational and respectful debate about religion, not less, Your post shrugs off this responsibility with a “Why argue with the insane” mentality.

It is my position that this discussion should always be encouraged to come from more people than the Sam Harris’, Lawrence Krauss’, Chris Mooney’s, Dan Dennet’s, Michael Shermer’s, Colin McGinn’s, and A.C Grayling’s of the world. (to use KreativeKaos’ excellent list of free thinkers) In other words, this conversation should come from each of us who honestly questions the judgement and motives of those who claim a belief in their respective religions.  We should never be afraid to ask a religious person to explain why they believe what they believe, and then to attempt to counter their explanation with one that might make more sense to them if they can hear it. I know that may sound crazy, but is it really your position that everyone who believes in god is delusional? Remarkably misinformed by their leaders? Absolutely! Following the heard of their clan? Most assuredly. Looking for answers to the wrong questions? Definitely. But delusional implies mental illness, and thinking of another person in this way tends to shut off the debate pretty quickly.

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Posted: 08 August 2012 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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CrazySailr - 08 August 2012 11:05 AM
toombaru - 07 August 2012 07:22 PM
KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 07:01 PM

Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.


I am suggesting that for Sam to take on his detractors by employing logic is akin to yelling at the criminally insane to straighten up.
I suppose that he is not immune to criticism but it surprises that he even contemplates taking on people who are delusional.
And anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion is delusional.

 

toombaru, So what you are saying is that it is completely futile to debate anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion, right?  Fortunately for all of us, not everyone takes this view. I’m sure you don’t really believe this, either. Just as I’m sure that your metaphor about occasionally yelling at the criminally insane to “Straighten Up!!!!!!!” might be perceived as crazy in some circles.

The written word is both a very precise form of communication, but also a easily misunderstood one. To take someone litterlly at their written word can so often cause one to miss the humor and wit of the author. In this case, your original post was quite funny, even though it needed a little clarification after you posted it. But I must take exception to the spirit of your clarification, because if taken literally, it would mean an end to all rational debate about religion.  We need MORE rational and respectful debate about religion, not less, Your post shrugs off this responsibility with a “Why argue with the insane” mentality.

It is my position that this discussion should always be encouraged to come from more people than the Sam Harris’, Lawrence Krauss’, Chris Mooney’s, Dan Dennet’s, Michael Shermer’s, Colin McGinn’s, and A.C Grayling’s of the world. (to use KreativeKaos’ excellent list of free thinkers) In other words, this conversation should come from each of us who honestly questions the judgement and motives of those who claim a belief in their respective religions.  We should never be afraid to ask a religious person to explain why they believe what they believe, and then to attempt to counter their explanation with one that might make more sense to them if they can hear it. I know that may sound crazy, but is it really your position that everyone who believes in god is delusional? Remarkably misinformed by their leaders? Absolutely! Following the heard of their clan? Most assuredly. Looking for answers to the wrong questions? Definitely. But delusional implies mental illness, and thinking of another person in this way tends to shut off the debate pretty quickly.

 

At a well intentioned debate between atheists and believers everything was going along quite well.
About half way through one of the very well educated non-believers put his head down on the table and yelled:
” I CAN’T BELIEVE WE ARE DISCUSSING THIS SHIT!”
I have reached the point where there is no inclination to debate the reality of imaginary entities.
That includes demons, fairies, unicorns, cyclops, angels, ghosts, space aliens and gods.
We are shocked at the witch burnings that occurred not so long ago but easily accept the fact that most of our neighbors believe in a literal heaven and hell.
Some believe that a cracker and wine actually are the body and blood of a living Christ.
Have you read what the JWs, Mormons, and Scientologists believe?
How can you debate something like that?
It makes as much sense to corner a schizophrenic and debate the reality of the voices in their head.
Belief in things that have no actual reality qualifies as delusion.
It matters not if the belief is the norm.
These days, if the person I am talking to manages to weave into the conversation that they are born again, I will politely look at my watch (I don’t wear a watch) , smile,nod my head and walk away.

I don’t care what they believe,
I don’t want to convert them.
I simply have no time for them.
Rational discourse with the delusional is another delusion.

 

 

[ Edited: 08 August 2012 12:12 PM by toombaru]
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Posted: 08 August 2012 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKqqGX0DEMM

Especially watch the very end

[ Edited: 08 August 2012 02:32 PM by Wreck of M Deare]
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Posted: 08 August 2012 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Well spoken, KreativeKaos. I could not agree more with you. I also like your attribution to Lawrence Krause.  It’s sad really, that so many of the ‘masses’ who Sam Harris is attempting to communicate with, seem completely unready to hear him clearly.

Still, I can’t help but think that Sam sometimes spends far to much capital trying to counter critiscms and trying to make certain that everything he writes or says is correctly understood by everyone.

On the other hand, respectful debate - at is core should always be about changing peoples minds.  So I usually find myself applauding Sam for trying to engage with those who don’t agree with him or his world view. For all of his efforts in this regard, Sam Harris is an amazing role model. He is one of the great minds of our age, and it seems to me that the more people who hear him speak or read his writings, the more likely it is that our world may eventually become a more reasonable place to live.

-Crazysailr

Thanks Crazysalir.  I definitely understand what you’re saying about Sam spending too much time countering criticisms ( now that you mention that, I guess I can relate to that as well, since I tend to always try to bend over backward to make my thoughts clear to others as well; being understood accurately is a thing with me smile  Although, as he had mentioned in his response to the latest criticisms, to some degree, his reputation in on the line, and in this nearly boundry-less electronic cyber world that we live in, I suppose he does need to counter some nasty, mean-spirited accusations.

I agree, Sam is certainly exemplary as role model, or at least as a figure of prominence in the cutting edge discussions and debates at the intersection of science, religion and society. My feeling is that he tends to put his money where his mouth is, and it’s my impression (granted, my impression only) that he tends to have a genuinely open mind about things, otherwise, he would have not openly rethought his position and exchanged ideas with (Bruce Schneirer ????? sorry if I got his name wrong), the terrorist ‘expert’.

One of things about Harris that I can appreciate and respect, is his thoughtful and measured manner and way of speaking, which lends itself, in my opinion, to a deeper and more careful approach to thinking about things. I would love to have him visit the metro Detroit area here in Michigan for a lecture. Last October, Richard Dawkins spoke at one of our Southeast Michigan universities (Oakland University) to promote his book ‘The Magic of Reality’.  It was a treat. Yes, I would love to catch many good speakers along the lines of Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and many more.

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Posted: 08 August 2012 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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toombaru - 08 August 2012 12:10 PM
CrazySailr - 08 August 2012 11:05 AM
toombaru - 07 August 2012 07:22 PM
KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 07:01 PM

Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.


I am suggesting that for Sam to take on his detractors by employing logic is akin to yelling at the criminally insane to straighten up.
I suppose that he is not immune to criticism but it surprises that he even contemplates taking on people who are delusional.
And anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion is delusional.

 

toombaru, So what you are saying is that it is completely futile to debate anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion, right?  Fortunately for all of us, not everyone takes this view. I’m sure you don’t really believe this, either. Just as I’m sure that your metaphor about occasionally yelling at the criminally insane to “Straighten Up!!!!!!!” might be perceived as crazy in some circles.

The written word is both a very precise form of communication, but also a easily misunderstood one. To take someone litterlly at their written word can so often cause one to miss the humor and wit of the author. In this case, your original post was quite funny, even though it needed a little clarification after you posted it. But I must take exception to the spirit of your clarification, because if taken literally, it would mean an end to all rational debate about religion.  We need MORE rational and respectful debate about religion, not less, Your post shrugs off this responsibility with a “Why argue with the insane” mentality.

It is my position that this discussion should always be encouraged to come from more people than the Sam Harris’, Lawrence Krauss’, Chris Mooney’s, Dan Dennet’s, Michael Shermer’s, Colin McGinn’s, and A.C Grayling’s of the world. (to use KreativeKaos’ excellent list of free thinkers) In other words, this conversation should come from each of us who honestly questions the judgement and motives of those who claim a belief in their respective religions.  We should never be afraid to ask a religious person to explain why they believe what they believe, and then to attempt to counter their explanation with one that might make more sense to them if they can hear it. I know that may sound crazy, but is it really your position that everyone who believes in god is delusional? Remarkably misinformed by their leaders? Absolutely! Following the heard of their clan? Most assuredly. Looking for answers to the wrong questions? Definitely. But delusional implies mental illness, and thinking of another person in this way tends to shut off the debate pretty quickly.

 

At a well intentioned debate between atheists and believers everything was going along quite well.
About half way through one of the very well educated non-believers put his head down on the table and yelled:
” I CAN’T BELIEVE WE ARE DISCUSSING THIS SHIT!”
I have reached the point where there is no inclination to debate the reality of imaginary entities.
That includes demons, fairies, unicorns, cyclops, angels, ghosts, space aliens and gods.
We are shocked at the witch burnings that occurred not so long ago but easily accept the fact that most of our neighbors believe in a literal heaven and hell.
Some believe that a cracker and wine actually are the body and blood of a living Christ.
Have you read what the JWs, Mormons, and Scientologists believe?
How can you debate something like that?
It makes as much sense to corner a schizophrenic and debate the reality of the voices in their head.
Belief in things that have no actual reality qualifies as delusion.
It matters not if the belief is the norm.
These days, if the person I am talking to manages to weave into the conversation that they are born again, I will politely look at my watch (I don’t wear a watch) , smile,nod my head and walk away.

I don’t care what they believe,
I don’t want to convert them.
I simply have no time for them.
Rational discourse with the delusional is another delusion.

 

 

Fellow posters Crazysalir, toobaru:

I see what your both saying here.  And, I know it’s crazy, but I’m one of those who can agree with valid points that you are both making here.

I think that it can be pretty situation and personality dependent.  I certainly agree with Crazy that we need to keep the line of communication open and keep sharp on the challenge to religious zealotry, and theism in general. And yet, I can certainly imagine ( and I’m sure there are ample examples) of trying to get certain unambiguous, fact-oriented points across
to someone who is simply so deep in theistic dogma, so compartmentalized in their thinking that they simply can’t or will not accept lines of thought that are, basically, unassailable. At times like this, fruitful discussion is difficult, and tends to frustrate on or both parties. I know where you are both coming from with valid points, and that’s part of what drives many of us up the wall. <sigh>

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Posted: 08 August 2012 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Wrestling the troll is a very difficult topic. I have heard of other authors getting caught up spending too much time on their least receptive readers. This must surely be a bad use of their time if the detractors are neither receptive or important. The problem seems to be how to know whether they are unimportant.

Like spamming being a professional or amateur detractor is too cheap and accessible. I suggest that if other readers want our favorite writers to spend time writing for us we can share the load of addressing the detractors. Of course done poorly that could be worse than doing nothing. Difficult as it is to, a few charitable words to ask the detractor if some point is supported by the context or supported at all might help. Anyone willing to aim for the higher ground in politeness can do some good that way.

 

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Posted: 13 August 2012 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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KreativeKaos - 08 August 2012 03:27 PM
toombaru - 08 August 2012 12:10 PM
CrazySailr - 08 August 2012 11:05 AM
toombaru - 07 August 2012 07:22 PM
KreativeKaos - 07 August 2012 07:01 PM

Just over the hill from where I live, surrounded by an eighteen foot, razor wire topped electric fence, is an institution for the criminally insane.
Sometimes, driving past, I stop my car and see if anyone is within hearing distance.
If there is, I roll my window down and yell as loud as I can:
“WHY IN HELL DON’T YOU PEOPLE STRAIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!”
I like to think that maybe just one of them will get what I am trying to do.

Nice metaphor, but point unclear.


I am suggesting that for Sam to take on his detractors by employing logic is akin to yelling at the criminally insane to straighten up.
I suppose that he is not immune to criticism but it surprises that he even contemplates taking on people who are delusional.
And anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion is delusional.

 

toombaru, So what you are saying is that it is completely futile to debate anyone who attempts to defend any form of religion, right?  Fortunately for all of us, not everyone takes this view. I’m sure you don’t really believe this, either. Just as I’m sure that your metaphor about occasionally yelling at the criminally insane to “Straighten Up!!!!!!!” might be perceived as crazy in some circles.

The written word is both a very precise form of communication, but also a easily misunderstood one. To take someone litterlly at their written word can so often cause one to miss the humor and wit of the author. In this case, your original post was quite funny, even though it needed a little clarification after you posted it. But I must take exception to the spirit of your clarification, because if taken literally, it would mean an end to all rational debate about religion.  We need MORE rational and respectful debate about religion, not less, Your post shrugs off this responsibility with a “Why argue with the insane” mentality.

It is my position that this discussion should always be encouraged to come from more people than the Sam Harris’, Lawrence Krauss’, Chris Mooney’s, Dan Dennet’s, Michael Shermer’s, Colin McGinn’s, and A.C Grayling’s of the world. (to use KreativeKaos’ excellent list of free thinkers) In other words, this conversation should come from each of us who honestly questions the judgement and motives of those who claim a belief in their respective religions.  We should never be afraid to ask a religious person to explain why they believe what they believe, and then to attempt to counter their explanation with one that might make more sense to them if they can hear it. I know that may sound crazy, but is it really your position that everyone who believes in god is delusional? Remarkably misinformed by their leaders? Absolutely! Following the heard of their clan? Most assuredly. Looking for answers to the wrong questions? Definitely. But delusional implies mental illness, and thinking of another person in this way tends to shut off the debate pretty quickly.

 

At a well intentioned debate between atheists and believers everything was going along quite well.
About half way through one of the very well educated non-believers put his head down on the table and yelled:
” I CAN’T BELIEVE WE ARE DISCUSSING THIS SHIT!”
I have reached the point where there is no inclination to debate the reality of imaginary entities.
That includes demons, fairies, unicorns, cyclops, angels, ghosts, space aliens and gods.
We are shocked at the witch burnings that occurred not so long ago but easily accept the fact that most of our neighbors believe in a literal heaven and hell.
Some believe that a cracker and wine actually are the body and blood of a living Christ.
Have you read what the JWs, Mormons, and Scientologists believe?
How can you debate something like that?
It makes as much sense to corner a schizophrenic and debate the reality of the voices in their head.
Belief in things that have no actual reality qualifies as delusion.
It matters not if the belief is the norm.
These days, if the person I am talking to manages to weave into the conversation that they are born again, I will politely look at my watch (I don’t wear a watch) , smile,nod my head and walk away.

I don’t care what they believe,
I don’t want to convert them.
I simply have no time for them.
Rational discourse with the delusional is another delusion.

 

 

Fellow posters Crazysalir, toobaru:

I see what your both saying here.  And, I know it’s crazy, but I’m one of those who can agree with valid points that you are both making here.

I think that it can be pretty situation and personality dependent.  I certainly agree with Crazy that we need to keep the line of communication open and keep sharp on the challenge to religious zealotry, and theism in general. And yet, I can certainly imagine ( and I’m sure there are ample examples) of trying to get certain unambiguous, fact-oriented points across
to someone who is simply so deep in theistic dogma, so compartmentalized in their thinking that they simply can’t or will not accept lines of thought that are, basically, unassailable. At times like this, fruitful discussion is difficult, and tends to frustrate on or both parties. I know where you are both coming from with valid points, and that’s part of what drives many of us up the wall. <sigh>

 

If the net figures say it now takes 10 missionary/years to keep one active Mormon,
how many years do you suppose it would take to strip one active Mormon of their delusion?
I calculate…..................more than I have left.

 

 

 

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