Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

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Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#1

Post by jimhabegger » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:03 am

I was pondering some things that have always intrigued me about the atheist and skeptical fellowships I've seen on the Internet, and suddenly it dawned on me that people use "atheism" and "skepticism" to excuse and camouflage their anti-religious prejudices and animosities.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#2

Post by d4m10n » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:13 am

After 15 years of grassroots atheist activism, I've noticed that our groups have plenty of people who have good personal reasons to hold some degree of animus towards organized religion. People from abusive, controlling, even cultish religious groups and/or families. My experience (a loving family who didn't disown or otherwise sanction me over loss of faith) may actually be atypical.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#3

Post by jimhabegger » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:39 am

d4m10n wrote:... I've noticed that our groups have plenty of people who have good personal reasons to hold some degree of animus towards organized religion. People from abusive, controlling, even cultish religious groups and/or families.
Agreed.

I want to learn to use "some" and "sometimes" more often. I think that atheism and skepticism are sometimes used to excuse and camouflage anti-religious prejudices and animosities.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#4

Post by jimhabegger » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:49 pm

d4m10n wrote:... I've noticed that our groups have plenty of people who have good personal reasons to hold some degree of animus towards organized religion. People from abusive, controlling, even cultish religious groups and/or families.
- for example. There might be any number of other reasons for resentment and animosity towards religions and their followers.

I've sometimes seen atheists trying to explain to themselves why there is so much irrationality, gullibility, oppression, and repression in atheist and skeptic circles, and it has puzzled me too. I think I understand it better now. What brings people together in the name of atheism is not skepticism, sound reasoning, free thinking, and free speech. Those are just excuses and camouflage for what attracts people the most to atheist circles: animosity towards religions and their followers. That's the litmus test for acceptance in atheist fellowships. Anyone who displays animosity towards religions and their followers is accepted as a fellow atheist, no matter how irrational or gullible they might be. That makes widespread irrationality and gullibility inevitable in atheist circles.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#5

Post by jimhabegger » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:18 pm

- and emotionalism and drama. If displays of animosity towards religions and their followers are a necessary and sufficient condition, not in theory but in practice, for being counted as an atheist in atheist circles, then atheist circles are breeding grounds for emotionalism and drama.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#6

Post by jimhabegger » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:40 pm

I don't think it's always been this way. In the beginning, atheist fellowships might have revolved more around practical ways of working to reduce and counteract religious oppression. It might have been the growth and spread of atheist circles online, that led to atheism and skepticism being used so much as excuses and camouflage for anti-religious prejudices and animosities.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#7

Post by d4m10n » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:23 am

Without specific examples, Jim, it's difficult to judge whether any given complaint or criticism does indeed spring from prejudice or animosity.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#8

Post by jimhabegger » Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:26 pm

d4m10n wrote:Without specific examples, Jim, it's difficult to judge whether any given complaint or criticism does indeed spring from prejudice or animosity.
I agree, but I don't see what your point could be or how that's relevant to what I've said. You're welcome to tell me if you'd like to.

Are you considering whether there might be any truth in what I'm saying, and asking for examples of what experiences and observations it's based on?

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#9

Post by deLurch » Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:56 am

d4m10n wrote:After 15 years of grassroots atheist activism, I've noticed that our groups have plenty of people who have good personal reasons to hold some degree of animus towards organized religion. People from abusive, controlling, even cultish religious groups and/or families. My experience (a loving family who didn't disown or otherwise sanction me over loss of faith) may actually be atypical.
Or perhaps the people you tend to meet in atheist groups will tend to have had a bad experience with their religious upbringing. So you are (perhaps) being exposed to a biased sample. My perspective has always been one of questioning why we should bother meeting up as atheists any way. I mean, once you agree that god does not exist, there isn't a hell of a lot more to talk about. And how long can you talk about god not existing before it gets old? 1, 2 minutes tops? Other activities tend to offer more enjoyment & fulfillment.

As far as Jim's issue, I have tended to have a live & let live attitude about religion. What other people do is no skin off my back. Of course I will take exception for either bad acts, or egregious bad actors in the case of religion. I think the money grubbing prosperity gospel televangelists are scam artists who need to be exposed. I think that Scientology within their official church is especially vicious to their membership. The past decade or two with Islam has made me start to question them. Previously, I just didn't care about them.

I think in general living a lie is a bad idea, but recognize people tend to be stuck in their ways. So I don't go out of my way to try and convince them their religion is wrong.

But I will admit that there are *some* atheists who are severally holding a grudge against their former religion. Some for good reason. And some extend that anger towards all religions. As far as I am concerned, that is their freedom of choice too. Most of their acts boil down to an effectiveness of blowing off steam.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#10

Post by deLurch » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:00 am

As a side note, I don't find anything wrong with Anti-theism any more than I find anything wrong with coin collecting. Everyone has to have their hobby.

But I might take issue if they behave horribly in pursuit of their hobby.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#11

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:48 am

deLurch, I agree with most or all of what you said.
deLurch wrote:My perspective has always been one of questioning why we should bother meeting up as atheists any way. I mean, once you agree that god does not exist, there isn't a hell of a lot more to talk about.
That's my whole point. It isn't their atheism, in itself, that brings people together under the banner of atheism, in blogs and forums. Skepticism, sound reasoning, free and critical thinking, science, freedom of speech, even less. For most of what happens in online atheism, that's just window-dressing, ribbons and bows, for animosity towards religions and their followers. What brings people together under the banner of atheism, online, is mostly their animosity towards religions and their followers.

That's my explanation of why there is just as much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression in online atheism, as there is in the rest of society.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#12

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:59 am

"I mean, once you agree that god does not exist your beliefs don't include any belief in any god or gods ..."
-- FTFY

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#13

Post by deLurch » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:28 am

jimhabegger wrote:"I mean, once you agree that god does not exist your beliefs don't include any belief in any god or gods ..."
-- FTFY
If that works better for you, more power to you. But my original statement fits how I feel on the subject.

And just to play my own devil's advocate,
* Some people yearn to find others like themselves. And I can understand that for some people who live in more isolated communities in the deep south or bible belt.
* One guy wants to make it all about doing community service. So an adopt-a-highway program, staffing a Planned Parenthood fundraising call center. Pitching in volunteers here and there.
* Some people make it all about just meeting together for dinner, a picnic or drinks once a week.
* Some people make it about listening to various speakers on all sorts of subjects.
* Some people (like Mr. Detroit) made it all about replicating the congregation feel by doing the Sunday Assembly (speaker, singing songs, fellowship).
* Some people gather to find some other set of life rules to follow like Unitarians, or Humanists, or Free Thinkers.
* Some people view it as a recruiting ground for their personal ideology

So despite my feelings on the subject, many people find many differ reasons to get involved.

My own personal reason for getting involved, back when I did was the thought that often I am too much of a stick in the mud and I should just give them a try, especially since there is so few of us.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#14

Post by Mr. X, Indeed » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:46 am

jimhabegger wrote:deLurch, I agree with most or all of what you said.
deLurch wrote:My perspective has always been one of questioning why we should bother meeting up as atheists any way. I mean, once you agree that god does not exist, there isn't a hell of a lot more to talk about.
That's my whole point. It isn't their atheism, in itself, that brings people together under the banner of atheism, in blogs and forums. Skepticism, sound reasoning, free and critical thinking, science, freedom of speech, even less. For most of what happens in online atheism, that's just window-dressing, ribbons and bows, for animosity towards religions and their followers. What brings people together under the banner of atheism, online, is mostly their animosity towards religions and their followers.

That's my explanation of why there is just as much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression in online atheism, as there is in the rest of society.
So atheists are just as bad as theists because of anti-theism? Then why are theists just as bad as atheists? The explanation that there is something apart from metaphysics or attitude towards religion causing that is simpler. If the subset of non-believers have the same traits as the overall population then the best we can say is that non-belief seems to have nothing to do with those traits.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#15

Post by d4m10n » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:38 am

deLurch wrote:And just to play my own devil's advocate...


Well played, sir. [emoji49][emoji49][emoji49]

Basically anything that a church/synagogue/mosque or other faith-based community provides, an atheist community can provide as well. When my Dad died, for example, they provided emotional support and loads of covered dishes. For a more uplifting example, I've seen several people pair off and get married. I've seen young people learning critical thinking at Camp Quest (about the only place they can go around here where they aren't routinely proselytized) which functions something like a youth group for children of freethinkers. But mostly my local community functions as a social group for people who have more in common with each other than with those they tend to meet elsewhere.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#16

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:18 pm

jimhabegger wrote:"I mean, once you agree that god does not exist your beliefs don't include any belief in any god or gods ..."
-- FTFY
deLurch wrote:If that works better for you, more power to you. But my original statement fits how I feel on the subject.
Maybe you haven't seen atheists as much as I have, reprimanding people for thinking that "atheism" means believing that god does not exist.
And just to play my own devil's advocate,
* Some people yearn to find others like themselves. And I can understand that for some people who live in more isolated communities in the deep south or bible belt.
* One guy wants to make it all about doing community service. So an adopt-a-highway program, staffing a Planned Parenthood fundraising call center. Pitching in volunteers here and there.
* Some people make it all about just meeting together for dinner, a picnic or drinks once a week.
* Some people make it about listening to various speakers on all sorts of subjects.
* Some people (like Mr. Detroit) made it all about replicating the congregation feel by doing the Sunday Assembly (speaker, singing songs, fellowship).
* Some people gather to find some other set of life rules to follow like Unitarians, or Humanists, or Free Thinkers.
* Some people view it as a recruiting ground for their personal ideology

So despite my feelings on the subject, many people find many differ reasons to get involved.

My own personal reason for getting involved, back when I did was the thought that often I am too much of a stick in the mud and I should just give them a try, especially since there is so few of us.
Bravo, and thank you. I like those examples, and that helps illustrate what I'm saying and show me how it needs to be revised and clarified.

I'll break down what I'm saying into three parts (italics added):

1. "It isn't their atheism, in itself, that brings people together under the banner of atheism, in blogs and forums. Skepticism, sound reasoning, free and critical thinking, science, freedom of speech, even less."

2. "What brings people together under the banner of atheism, online, is mostly their animosity towards religions and their followers."

3. "That's my explanation of why there is just as much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression in online atheism, as there is in the rest of society."

Revisions and clarifications:

1. "It isn't their atheism, in itself, that brings people together under the banner of atheism, in blogs and forums. Skepticism, sound reasoning, free and critical thinking, science, freedom of speech, even less."

That needs to be revised to:

"Atheism, in itself, has very little to do with bringing people together online, under that banner. Skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, even less."

2. "What brings people together under the banner of atheism, online, is mostly their animosity towards religions and their followers."

Note: "under the banner of atheism," "online," and "mostly."

The "mostly" applies only to online atheism. I haven't seen people gathering together offline, under the banner of atheism, enough to see how much it has to do with animosity towards religions and their followers. Offline, it might be mostly for mutual support and joint action in the face of prejudice and discrimination against atheists, with or without animosity towards all religions and all their followers.

Mostly, not only. I see many possible reasons for people to be gathering together, online and offline, under the banner of atheism, including the examples you've listed. Online, it looks to me like it's mostly animosity towards religions and their followers.

I agree, people might gather together for all the reasons you've listed. What I was discussing was why people do it under the banners of atheism, skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech. One reason I see for doing it under the banner of atheism, is to be able to do it without having to deal with prejudice and discrimination against atheists, and more generally, with ignorance and stereotypes about atheism and atheists. The reason for people in atheist gatherings flying the banners of skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, looks to me like it's mostly to excuse and camouflage animosities and hostilities towards all religions and all their followers, and not because of really practicing, or even valuing, any of that.

3. "That's my explanation of why there is just as much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression in online atheism, as there is in the rest of society."

My explanation of why there is just as much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression in online atheism, as there is in the rest of society, is that skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, have little or nothing to do with bringing people together online, under the banner of atheism.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#17

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:47 pm

Mr. X, Indeed wrote:So atheists are just as bad as theists because of anti-theism?
That isn't what I said, or meant.

To put it a different way, my explanation of why skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, are not practiced any better in online atheism than outside of it, is because, however much lip service those principles and practices get in online atheism, where they're used to excuse and camouflage prejudices and animosities, apart from that they actually have little or nothing to do with bringing people together online, under the banner of atheism.

When I first started spending time in atheist blogs and online forums, When I saw all the talk about skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, I made the mistake of thinking that people were actually trying to practice and promote all that. I've made that mistake again and again, when I've seen people discussing social issues on the Internet, and that has led to a lot of disappointment and frustrations for me. So actually, all I've been saying in this thread is just excuses and camouflage for my resentment about that. :oops:

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#18

Post by Kirbmarc » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:54 am

We're all humans, we're complex, trying to separate our good side from our bad side with a neat line is a vain effort. We're all jerks sometimes. Being reasonable, critical, calm, collected and open to reasonable debate takes time, effort and training. And online interaction is even harder than face-to-face interaction, since often you can't see or hear the other person, and a lot of nuance and additional meaning get lost, which can easily exacerbate things.

We're all guilty of that to some degree and trying to be perfect about it is a pipe dream. It's better to acknowledge our limits and move on productively from past mistakes.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#19

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:09 am

Kirbmarc wrote:Being reasonable, critical, calm, collected and open to reasonable debate takes time, effort and training.
Yes to that.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#20

Post by Mr. X, Indeed » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:32 am

jimhabegger wrote:
Mr. X, Indeed wrote:So atheists are just as bad as theists because of anti-theism?
That isn't what I said, or meant.

To put it a different way, my explanation of why skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, are not practiced any better in online atheism than outside of it, is because, however much lip service those principles and practices get in online atheism, where they're used to excuse and camouflage prejudices and animosities, apart from that they actually have little or nothing to do with bringing people together online, under the banner of atheism.

When I first started spending time in atheist blogs and online forums, When I saw all the talk about skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, I made the mistake of thinking that people were actually trying to practice and promote all that. I've made that mistake again and again, when I've seen people discussing social issues on the Internet, and that has led to a lot of disappointment and frustrations for me. So actually, all I've been saying in this thread is just excuses and camouflage for my resentment about that. :oops:
The atheist/skeptical/whatever community had a boom over some separation clause/creationism in schools issues (at least in the US) and became fashionable a number of years ago. As those issues faded in importance there was nothing to hold the community together. I'd argue that it was never a community to begin with. I agree that atheism was tangential to the reasons these groups coalesced for a while.

People will tell you things about themselves that aren't true. Some because they're liars, some because they want to believe it themselves, and some because they are oblivious. If you asked me about myself, I would probably end up sounding wonderful. I'd be right about some things and completely full of shit on others, because of all three reasons I listed above. Aside from hypocrites with real power, this probably isn't worth your resentment or frustration.

Yes, Kirbmarc probably said far more eloquently what I just said.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#21

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:59 am

jimhabegger wrote: To put it a different way, my explanation of why skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, are not practiced any better in online atheism than outside of it, is because, however much lip service those principles and practices get in online atheism, where they're used to excuse and camouflage prejudices and animosities, apart from that they actually have little or nothing to do with bringing people together online, under the banner of atheism.

When I first started spending time in atheist blogs and online forums, When I saw all the talk about skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, and freedom of speech, I made the mistake of thinking that people were actually trying to practice and promote all that. I've made that mistake again and again, when I've seen people discussing social issues on the Internet, and that has led to a lot of disappointment and frustrations for me. So actually, all I've been saying in this thread is just excuses and camouflage for my resentment about that. :oops:
Mr. X, Indeed wrote:The atheist/skeptical/whatever community had a boom over some separation clause/creationism in schools issues (at least in the US) and became fashionable a number of years ago.
I remember seeing a lot about those issues in media stories, but until now I hadn't connected that with the growth and spread of atheist/skeptic alliances.
As those issues faded in importance there was nothing to hold the community together. I'd argue that it was never a community to begin with. I agree that atheism was tangential to the reasons these groups coalesced for a while.

People will tell you things about themselves that aren't true. Some because they're liars, some because they want to believe it themselves, and some because they are oblivious. If you asked me about myself, I would probably end up sounding wonderful. I'd be right about some things and completely full of shit on others, because of all three reasons I listed above. Aside from hypocrites with real power, this probably isn't worth your resentment or frustration.
:lol: Well said. Thank you.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#22

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:55 pm

Mr. X, Indeed wrote:The atheist/skeptical/whatever community had a boom over some separation clause/creationism in schools issues (at least in the US) and became fashionable a number of years ago.
Fashionable, and stigmatized, at the same time. When I read that, my first thought was "Madalyn Murray," and sure enough, the oldest of the atheist alliances that I found in a search is the one that she founded.
For more than 30 years, Madalyn Murray O’Hair lead the fight to normalize atheism in the American cultural landscape. By protesting the use of the government to advance religion in general (and oftentimes Christianity in particular), Madalyn and American Atheists pulled atheism out from the shadows and fought to force the country to examine its “sacred” cultural artifacts.

A frequent guest on The Phil Donahue Show, popular media, and the press, Madalyn did much to shine a critical light on the privileges enjoyed by the religious. By using the courts to protect the wall of separation envisioned by our Founders, American Atheists helped to protect the rights of atheists and the religious alike.

From 1963 until 1986, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the President of American Atheists. In 1986, Jon Garth Murray, her son, became President. From 1986 until 1995, both Madalyn and Jon were tireless advocates for atheism and the absolute separation of religion from government, filing lawuits and building a nationwide atheist community.

On August 27, 1995, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Jon Garth Murray, and Robin Murray O’Hair (Madalyn’s granddaughter) disappeared from their home. After nearly 6 years, in January 2001, David Waters confessed to the kidnapping, extortion, and murder of the Murray-O’Hair family.

- History of American Atheists

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#23

Post by VickyCaramel » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:24 pm

jimhabegger wrote: I've sometimes seen atheists trying to explain to themselves why there is so much irrationality, gullibility, oppression, and repression in atheist and skeptic circles, and it has puzzled me too. I think I understand it better now. What brings people together in the name of atheism is not skepticism, sound reasoning, free thinking, and free speech. Those are just excuses and camouflage for what attracts people the most to atheist circles: animosity towards religions and their followers. That's the litmus test for acceptance in atheist fellowships. Anyone who displays animosity towards religions and their followers is accepted as a fellow atheist, no matter how irrational or gullible they might be. That makes widespread irrationality and gullibility inevitable in atheist circles.
Noel Plum said some interesting things in his latest video about "what is traditional" as skeptical events.... what goes where...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTGknuztEQs

The first event I ever went to was back in about 1989 and I was invited by one of the organizers who was a Quaker! And Jim is kinda right when he says that Skeptics didn't do religion, one of the reasons was that there was a time when many skeptics were Christians.

Obviously the whole Atheism thing came up and became extremely popular around the time the Neocons got into power in around 2000, and I remember the subject came up then- "Lets not be beastly to the Christians", especially as most of them were secularists and some of them were even biologists who knew a damn site more than we did on subjects like evolution.

So I think the Atheism thing somehow overshadowed the skepticism thing. And it brought in a lot of people who arrived at atheism through politics rather than skepticism. And there were very poor skeptics, but even before that I think most of us are really poor skeptics except when we are applying ourselves to subjects we cared about.

I will admit to you that I am an anti-theist, I hate religion. I think it is exploitative and potentially very dangerous. But I have never really considered myself part of the atheist community, I am not American and it just isn't much of an issue in my day-to-day life now. Certainly when I come here I don't even expect to find much discussion of religion.

If I ask myself why I am really here it is because I am combative. I like drama, I like an argument, I like to pick a side, and wear the white hat. From the moment I first got on the internet, I saw the National Front and British National Party message boards and I was in there taking the piss. Since then I have jumped from one fight to another.

So you might be right in a way... I don't have or need deep seated prejudices, I am quite happy to learn new ones about anybody who I think is in the wrong either through malice or stupidity, especially if i see people getting hurt.

I was away earlier listening to some new opinions on JFK assassination conspiracies, that's what I do when I want to do skepticism. I drop in here to see what other skeptics are moaning about so I can have a moan too. Unfortunately today they are moaning about politics and not everyone agrees. I take the view if there were a right answer to politics we would have done it already and we wouldn't need politicians anymore, but that isn't the way the world works. I tend to believe the people who I disagree with aren't being very skeptical, but THAT isn't because we have suddenly let in a load of people who aren't skeptics.

Where I think you are right is that during that ten years of the Bush Administration when we were fighting hardest against religion and did little else, people came along who hated religion, were prepared to fight religion... and we assumed they arrived at their atheism through skepticism and through unbiased and careful consideration of religious arguments. In hindsight this was obviously not the case for some people.

In fact I think what happened is that many people were convinced by the arguments of gay rights, feminism or even marxism. And once convinced of these arguments, they believed they were on the moral side of the argument. They then find that it is people who are religiously motivated who are in opposition to things like abortion rights and gay marriage, and with a heavy bias they are easy to convince into atheism. We probably could have deconverted them with faulty arguments.
But also, by the time a lot of these people decided to join the "Atheism movement", it was all laid out on a plate for them. You will notice that many of the people on the Slymepit are older, from the mid 40s and up. So when I was a teenager and arguing for hours with the curate or the vicar I had to think up my own questions and learn to think on my feet. I had not listened to dozens of hours of podcasts and debates, I didn't have the benefit of being able to go to Iron Chariots to look up the answers. So a lot of these people know all the answers without every having to had to do the working out. And I suspect that because of this, a lot of them are not used to being wrong or losing the debate!

I think one of the benefits of being a well rounded skeptic is having a nose for bullshit, you often know something isn't right before you even work out why. I think a lot of people lack that. You also have other people who are just skeptical of everything, and throw the baby out with the bathwater in their rush to be the first to "debunk", thats a story for another day.

At the end of the say, it is really easy to be skeptical of things you don't want to believe, and really hard to be skeptical of things you do want to believe. And the smarter you are, the easier it is to reason yourself into believing something crazy. So there will always be irrationality within the rational and skeptic community, and each of us will have our own weaknesses. I don't think mine is my anti-theism.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#24

Post by VickyCaramel » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:42 pm

Another thought that occured to me is that it is possible that my section of the atheism fight are partly to blame for the poor quality of skepticism within the skeptical/atheist community.

There were people who were saying, "Don't be a dick", and people like me were saying, "Fuck it, be a dick, it works and is more entertaining".

Although I believe I am wearing a white hat, I did not shy away from using grey hat tactics and still don't. Taking the piss and making our opponents look stupid was incredibly effective at winning over young people. And even though we were in the right, we were using emotional arguments. I am guilty of the "They would stone gay people to death" type arguments, because I know that people make decisions based on emotion and then reason themselves into it.

A lot of the war on religion was fought with satire, rhetoric and even sophistry rather than rational debate. We turned people into atheists without turning them into skeptics.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#25

Post by Steersman » Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:00 pm

jimhabegger wrote:I was pondering some things that have always intrigued me about the atheist and skeptical fellowships I've seen on the Internet, and suddenly it dawned on me that people use "atheism" and "skepticism" to excuse and camouflage their anti-religious prejudices and animosities.
Not that you're tarring all atheists for the "sins" of the few, or any thing like that ... Or have an axe of your own that you never miss an opportunity to sharpen up while studiously ignoring the generally very much worse ones of your own "tribe" ...
https://twitter.com/AtheistRepublic/sta ... 5885996032
https://twitter.com/afpandavar/status/9 ... 8360980480

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#26

Post by d4m10n » Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:14 pm

No offense Steersman but you're not exactly holding the high ground respecting tarring everyone in a group on account of their shared religious views.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#27

Post by Steersman » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:15 pm

d4m10n wrote:No offense Steersman but you're not exactly holding the high ground respecting tarring everyone in a group on account of their shared religious views.
:-) None taken. However, I don't think your analogy holds all that much water; almost seems like you're a bit too defensive of religion. While I've periodically defended it myself - primarily on the basis of some of it being metaphorical - I've also argued that its dogmatic literalism, at least in many manifestations, is its fatal flaw, its Achilles heel. Hardly the case with atheism, at least in general. You might note Huxley's perspective on that which underlines my point, underlines that fundamental difference:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DG2HTptVYAEQou-.jpg
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DG2HTptVYAEQou-.jpg

But, more importantly or to elaborate, don't think the case of religion - particularly Islam - is at all the same kettle of fish as atheism. In particular, Islam has a manifesto, a "holy book" [ha], that more or less mandates no end of barbarisms and savageries and psychoses:
https://twitter.com/AsYouNotWish/status ... 9278452737

You think that that is at all the case with atheism? No doubt there are many dickheads and twats - and those in between - in that movement. But there's also a much greater effort to call out those problematic behaviours - and they're not underwritten by the supposed existence of "Gawd Himself". Very few within the Muslim community who are willing to do so, although there are notable exceptions:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DE45IibUwAEpuzZ.jpg
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DE45IibUwAEpuzZ.jpg

Seems the concept of collective responsibility has some merit, some justification. If all of a "tribe" - more or less - subscribe to a particular set of values or ideology, and if some in that tribe go out and commit crimes in the name of that ideology, then it seems not unreasonable to hold the entire tribe culpable - to some extent - for those crimes. Again, hardly the case with atheism - or skepticism.

BTW, somewhat amused by Zvan's comments in your signature line. One might wonder whether she's still quite so sure that she's "winning" and having "the initiatives we've [been] pushing for get accepted in more places". He laughs best who laughs last - and all that. :-)

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#28

Post by jimhabegger » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:13 am

Steersman wrote:... tarring all atheists for the "sins" of the few ...
What I've been saying in this thread isn't about atheists, or about "sins." It's about a possible answer I see, to a question I've seen people wondering about sometimes: why there's so much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression under the banners of atheism and skepticism. It's because people's reasons for waving those banners, and for being attracted to them, are not always about skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, or freedom of speech. That does not include all atheists, and it includes some people who are not atheists. Also, I'm not saying that there aren't any good for reasons waving those banners, or being attracted to them. I'm attracted to them, myself.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#29

Post by VickyCaramel » Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:51 am

jimhabegger wrote:
Steersman wrote:... tarring all atheists for the "sins" of the few ...
What I've been saying in this thread isn't about atheists, or about "sins." It's about a possible answer I see, to a question I've seen people wondering about sometimes: why there's so much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression under the banners of atheism and skepticism. It's because people's reasons for waving those banners, and for being attracted to them, are not always about skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, or freedom of speech. That does not include all atheists, and it includes some people who are not atheists. Also, I'm not saying that there aren't any good for reasons waving those banners, or being attracted to them. I'm attracted to them, myself.
You may well be looking at this back to front. The bottom line is that EVERYBODY knows that skepticism, science, logic and reason are the best ways to knowledge, so everybody wants to claim that methodology as their own.

If you take christian apologists and climate change deniers, you will often find that their top tier (William Lane Craig, Lord Monckton) will trash the orthodox science.... and then make an argument of their own which looks like science. You will often see headlines like, "NASA scientists prove god exists".

So even many of the very furthest of our opposition make the claim to be rational and skeptical. The people who claim some post-modernist approach or that science isn't the pathway to the truth are a tiny minority. For everybody else there is a very good reason to claim the banner of skepticism and reason. It is rather like putting on a lab coat to sell you herbal remedies.

And lets not forget the Dunning-Kruger effect. And I am not just accusing others of this... I am guilty of it even this week so I will use myself as an example. I am interested in Revisionist history, especially American History which is contains huge amounts of folklore and political spin, especially things like the Wild West. So I keep revisiting it... I don't want to be an expert but I want the experts to give me the abridged version of what went on, so that I know enough to have an opinion. My approach to this is to soak up everything, listen to as many experts as I can... but I am not going to the archives and researching this for myself!
So over 10 years I have revisited a subject like the Gunfight at the O.K. Coral half a dozen times. In that time I may have spent as much as 20 hours on the subject, but I know I am no expert, but I think I know enough to have an opinion. And yet in the my latest foray into the subject which was little more than watching two fairly low budget documentaries, has given me enough additional context and information for me to change my mind.
I KNOW that I know fuck all, but I thought I knew enough to have an informed opinion on the subject until I found I didn't.
The thing about a subject like Tombstone is that I know I am listening to dozens of different biased sources, each historian has his pet theories and is trying to sell a book, every documentary is trying to be sensational to get viewers. But there is no pressing political motivation to pushing a narrative in one particular direction.

Now compare that to a subject like Brexit or Russian Hacking. I have to admit, that I can't point you to a reliable source of information on either of these subject, instead what I can do is point out the unreliable ones, and the bad ones are in the vast majority. Until you can disregard all the propagandists who are spewing complete trash into your ear, you are going to be misinformed.
With these two subjects, I have formed an opinion... but in many ways that opinion is formed by discovering who is lying to me the most. It is deductive.
It is rather like being an atheist, I am not convinced by the argument for god, but that hasn't suddenly unlocked the secrets to the mysteries of the universe either. Being able to debunk homeopathic medicine doesn't mean I know a cure for cancer. Knowing the other guy is wrong doesn't mean I am right. The problem with skepticism is that even those of us that try hard at it are bouncing from one wrong idea to another, and we only have the time and means to gain a superficial understanding of most subjects which pass our way.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#30

Post by jimhabegger » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:21 pm

Vicky, thanks for posting. I'm enjoying your posts.

Yes, I see that it's popular in all of society, not only in atheism and skepticism circles, for people to try to authenticate their views with the stamp of science.

I don't see all opposition to religion as prejudice. I think some of it is, and some isn't.

Curiously, in the last few days, before I saw what you said about trying to find the truth in a pack of lies, I've been thinking about the growth and spread of counterfeit science, and what we all can do to help reduce it and counteract its adverse effects.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#31

Post by jimhabegger » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:37 pm

Steersman, reading your recent posts again, I was happy to see this:
Steersman wrote:... religion. While I've periodically defended it myself - primarily on the basis of some of it being metaphorical ...

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#32

Post by jimhabegger » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:02 pm

Vicky, on the topic of trying to find the truth in a pack of lies, maybe you'd be interested in what I've been trying to learn about opinion polls. I'll start a thread on it.

Also, about the history of the Wild West in America: I've been interested in that too. Searching for truth in history has been complicated for me by confusion about what it can even mean to say that something really happened, when there's no way to go there and see.

Reviewing what I just wrote, I had a new thought about it. Not being able to go see what happened in history for myself, doesn't make it any different from some other areas of knowledge that I want to learn about. Even searching for truth about the world as it is now, is mostly based on other people's reports of their experience and observations.

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Re: Atheism and Skepticism as camouflage?

#33

Post by Steersman » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:15 pm

VickyCaramel wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:
Steersman wrote:... tarring all atheists for the "sins" of the few ...
What I've been saying in this thread isn't about atheists, or about "sins." It's about a possible answer I see, to a question I've seen people wondering about sometimes: why there's so much irrationally, gullibility, emotionalism, superstition, conformism, oppression, and repression under the banners of atheism and skepticism. It's because people's reasons for waving those banners, and for being attracted to them, are not always about skepticism, free and critical thinking, science and reason, or freedom of speech. That does not include all atheists, and it includes some people who are not atheists. Also, I'm not saying that there aren't any good for reasons waving those banners, or being attracted to them. I'm attracted to them, myself.
You may well be looking at this back to front. The bottom line is that EVERYBODY knows that skepticism, science, logic and reason are the best ways to knowledge, so everybody wants to claim that methodology as their own.
Indeed - "physics envy"; somewhat surprised to see there's even a Wikipedia article on the topic:
The term physics envy is a phrase used to criticize modern writing and research of academics working in areas such as "softer sciences", liberal arts, business studies and humanities. The term argues that writing and working practices in these disciplines have overused confusing jargon and complicated mathematics, in order to seem more 'rigorous' and like mathematics-based subjects like physics. ....
But for instance, there's this paper: Why Feminist Epistemology Isn't (And the Implications for Feminist Jurisprudence) - behind a pay wall, although I did have a PDF at one point.

However, I think part of the problem with such bogus claims is that the claimants don't really understand the nature of science or the principles behind it. So, as you suggest, they wind up with cargo-cult variants where putting on a lab coat is the sum-total of their claim.
VickyCaramel wrote:With these two subjects, I have formed an opinion... but in many ways that opinion is formed by discovering who is lying to me the most. It is deductive.

It is rather like being an atheist, I am not convinced by the argument for god, but that hasn't suddenly unlocked the secrets to the mysteries of the universe either. Being able to debunk homeopathic medicine doesn't mean I know a cure for cancer. Knowing the other guy is wrong doesn't mean I am right. The problem with skepticism is that even those of us that try hard at it are bouncing from one wrong idea to another, and we only have the time and means to gain a superficial understanding of most subjects which pass our way.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.
Science is definitely a tricky process, and it does have its limitations, something that many of its devotees are reluctant to consider. You might check out an old post by Brian Earp (actual descendent of Wyatt) on Can science tell us what’s objectively true?:
Can science tell us what’s objectively true? Or is it merely a clever way to cure doubt – to give us something to believe in, whether it’s true or not? In this essay, I look at the pragmatist account of science expounded by Charles Sanders Peirce in
his 1877 essay, ‘The Fixation of Belief’. Against Peirce, I argue that science does not come naturally to our species, nor does the doubting open-mindedness upon which its practice relies. To the extent that science is successful in ‘curing’ doubt, it’s because it tracks the real state of the world; and I argue that Peirce himself – his pragmatist narrative notwithstanding – is implicitly committed to this view as well.
That's from the ResearchGate article but the link might not work or be readily accessible; he apparently discusses the same issue and in the same words at the Oxford Science Magazine in 4 parts. But I think that "tracks the real state of the world" is key, and is undergirded by the fact that science consists essentially of creating hypotheses and then actually testing them against "reality". Seems rather too many in the humanities, postmodernists in particular, think that any hypothesis is as good as another - which is maybe true as long as one doesn't have to make any predictions based on them, and then stand or fall on the basis of whether those predictions are borne out by tests.

That's partly why I think your "it is deductive" is a bit short of the mark, as it kind of begs the question of where the hypotheses come from in the first place that are the starting point of the deductive process, particularly relative to the so-called "scientific method". And some evidence to think that many of them come from induction, from intuition, from a gestalt that is not at all quantifiable. Not sure if you play Sudoku or not - highly recommended if not, but I've found that it provides a rather remarkable analog to, and a basis for understanding, that entire inductive-deductive process that undergirds not just science, but much of the best of the humanities itself. And even of supposedly more mundane pursuits and professions - Jerry Coyne and Massimo Pigliucci had a somewhat testy exchange several years ago on the issue where Coyne, somewhat surprisingly in a way, argued that a plumber was doing science when he "intuited" a cause for a problem and then proceeded to perform tests to determine whether the results were consistent with the hypothesis:
Coyne wrote:To me it’s not so important what the dictionary says as that there is methodology held in common by plumbers and molecular biologists.
Why I think it's important to consider essences, and not get too distracted by the surfaces - so to speak. :-)

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