The problem of authoritarianism
Posted: 24 December 2004 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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There seems to be a high correlation between the (truly) faithful and authoritarianism. I'm not qualified to go into it much, but I refer readers to "The Authoritarian Specter" by Bob Altemeyer (unfortunately it's a bit pricey).

We have a lot more dead weight to overcome than we may realize in order to "kineticize" the notion that genuine critical thinking is virtuous, much more so that faith is depraved. Reasoning with someone who is only truly compelled by authority sounds like an exercise in futility.

It seems to be a very alien concept to most thinking types that many people place little or no value on the capacity for individual, independent thought. We may berate "them" for being that way, but I think "we" also tend to make an unwarranted presumption that our view on that is the general concensus.

Anyway, I recommend the book. People in here will also probably find "Amazing Conversions" interesting. It's also by Bob Altemeyer, and he's currently working on a book about atheists that I'm looking forward to getting my hands on.

JFYI

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 24 December 2004 03:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226467716/ref=pd_sxp_elt_l1/103-7964478-1006210

JL

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Posted: 24 December 2004 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Lord Byron,

You said:

We have a lot more dead weight to overcome than we may realize in order to “kineticize” the notion that genuine critical thinking is virtuous, much more so that faith is depraved.

I suppose by “kineticize” you mean something like “make tenable” or “bring to the level of conscious apprehension” or, more basically, “popularize?”  I would reluctantly agree.  Doubtless, though, there is a body of work already out there that delimits the chasm between the psychology of the faithbound and the “fresh air” we think we breathe—steps that we can take to make freethought appear attractive and natural (which it is): rhetorical strategies, lines of argument, bribery techniques, etc.

And though you say the free-thinking paradigm is not the norm, I would maintain (without too much opposition, I’d warrant) that freedom of inquiry is essential for a democracy to function, and furthermore, for the human to achieve its utmost.

Just thought I’d state the obvious.

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Posted: 26 December 2004 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“child”]I suppose by “kineticize” you mean something like “make tenable” or “bring to the level of conscious apprehension” or, more basically, “popularize?”

All of the above, basically—yes.

[quote author=“child”]I would reluctantly agree.  Doubtless, though, there is a body of work already out there that delimits the chasm between the psychology of the faithbound and the “fresh air” we think we breathe—steps that we can take to make freethought appear attractive and natural (which it is): rhetorical strategies, lines of argument, bribery techniques, etc.

Again, you’ve confirmed that what I’m trying to say is more or less the same as what you’re interpreting (so we can likely skip a lot of the complex calibration dance in order to get on the same sheet of music—very nice). I just think we have a whole lot more work cut out for us than we realize.

[quote author=“child”]And though you say the free-thinking paradigm is not the norm, I would maintain (without too much opposition, I’d warrant) that freedom of inquiry is essential for a democracy to function, and furthermore, for the human to achieve its utmost.

Just thought I’d state the obvious.


I couldn’t agree more, but a great many don’t agree with us at all, much less see this as obviously true. They may give the notions lip service (maybe not) because they’re supposed to value critical thinking, but when it comes to applied reasoning they’re pretty much unarmed . . . not by ignorance of logic (though that’s also a common problem), but by a worldview that really values what perceived authirites say over any individual (or minority group) reasoning.

You can’t convince someone of truth through logic and reason if they don’t really value such things any more than you’re likely to entice a Budhhist monk with material luxuries. It’s an alien concept to those of us who aren’t authoritarian, and it’s highly disconcerting, but it appears to be the case, which is what “The Authoritarian Specter” is about.

I think it may be that faith is sort of like an enzyme in that it helps people to cognitively digest contradictory and otherwise meritless notions that would create dissonance leading toward intellectual regurgitation (rejection). That’s what allows the whole faith thing to do its black magic. Using faith authoritarians (and others) can compartmentalize their worldview and ideologies even when faced with clear problems, and faith similarly allows those who should recognize the problem to bind their natural cognitive function and give them the “Get Out of Jail Free” card, as Sam talks about in TEoF.

I suspect that without authoritarianism faith is generally pretty innocuous—still a compromise of intellectual integrity, but much like alcohol compromses the integrity of decision-making (i.e. many people do just fine with minor “alcoholic compromises” even if on a very regular basis, while others destroy their lives and those of others).

I think Bob Altemeyer’s work on authoritarianism and Sam Harris’ work on the threat of religious faith, combined, present a much more complete overall picture of the same problem.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 27 December 2004 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I hesitate to conclude that we, the “Enlightened Ones”, are of a different stock than our religious brethren and sistren.  If we have been able to lift our heads up out of the sand, then perhaps it’s not so hard to expect that our faithbound friends can do the same.  Truth and freedom are very alluring, and all the soul must do is get a whiff and then he/she will do the heavy lifting required to escape from the cave.

As far as how to reach them, perhaps the quickest and most non-threatening way to expose the heart of religious irrationality is through humor.  We’ve all laughed at Mel Brooks or Monty Python.  Where are the big-block atheists today?  What the world needs now is a better Meaning of Life.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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One of the reasons that Mel Brooks and Monty Python movies are so entertaining is the great deal of education by the writers - without education, these movies would lack wit and would be tiersome, forgettable B-movies

If the USA would promote education, we would understand more about the world around us

I regard “true believers” as being generally less educated than the average population, mostly because they spend far too much time reading and interpreting the bible, rather than really educating themselves

anyway, I thought “Life of Brian” was one of the best movies ever that questions beliefs and traditions - one of the parts I remember was when John Cleese was one of the “terrorists” trying to get the romans out of jerusalem - he said to his followers in a secret room: “what have the romans done for us?” - to which one person answered: “the aqueducts” - Cleese then said “ok, but what ELSE have they done?” - to which answers came streaming in: education, sanitation, roads, etc. - clearly, todays “christians” treat technology in exactly the same way: they have little regard for math and science education and, instead, bury their heads in the bible to get “answers” - that is why “true believers” are a drain on the US economy and on life all around generally

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