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A Tactful Approach

 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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Slow Nerve Action
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27 May 2009 18:02
 

After reading bad rabbit’s call to treat the faithful with “zero tolerance so we can destroy this self-destructive meme with extreme prejudice.”
I thought I’d ofter a different spin.  Bad rabbit and I agree in spirit and we agree that harris’ suggested “conversational intolerance” needs revision but I think it needs revision in the opposite way.  I think bad rabbit has exactly the wrong approach and that’s not bc of some moral distaste I have for treating people with prejudice, lol.  I think this is exactly the wrong approach because of how terribly ineffective it is.

I’ve found that the easiest way NOT to convince someone of something is to begin arguing with them.  Even if you’re logic is perfect, most of the time people don’t care.  If you don’t make them feel good they will NEVER listen to you.  Might i remind you guys of the Dunning-Kruger effect.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyOHJa5Vj5Y

What we really need to do is stop assuming we know what the best approach is and actually do a study of the human as an animal so we can try to discover what the best approach is to fertilize critical thinking.  We evolutionists love to go on about how we’re just animals but we seem to fail to realize this fact when arguing with other humans.

Conversational intolerance won’t work, I’ve tried it.  Furthermore I doubt any holocaust deniers we’re ever convinced that the holocaust was true simply because their beliefs weren’t taken seriously.

What we really fail to realize is that other people just don’t value concepts the way that we do.  The reason people aren’t critically minded is because they don’t really care and no amount of intolerance is going to make them care.

I believe that many religions, as ridiculous as their ideas may be, actually have skills in domains many skeptics seem to be oblivious to.  When the mormons convert people to mormonism they don’t do it by knocking on your door and arguing with you about how everything you think is wrong.  They do something much wiser and much more manipulative.  They become very friendly with you.  They invite you to their little get togethers where no one really talks about religion at all.  Not until you feel like they’re part of your tribe do they begin to lay down their crazy ideas.  I believe that a person’s willingness to accept these ideas is principally based on the feeling that the ideas are apart of the person’s “tribe.”  Adults are still children in more ways than we may think.

This is a powerful lesson I think we really must learn, even if…  no… especially if it means that we must swallow our pride.

[ Edited: 27 May 2009 18:09 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
eudemonia
 
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27 May 2009 19:04
 

Education is the only way to win the war. We can’t kill’em all so….

Young people in America today are more secular-humanist atheist than traditional. We are winning albeit slowly. Scientific discovery and education about such things along with training in skepticism and reason and critical thinking will win out eventually, if we don’t let some rapture ready blockheads destroy the planet first. Thats the really big question…is there enough time for education to work? We need increased funding continuously for education and science if we are to have a chance at eventually erradicating religion. It will probably never go away entirely but if we can make it a distinct minority, we have won., for we can keep superstition in check.

If McCain-Palin had won the election…...I would be petrified right now!

 
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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27 May 2009 19:09
 

I do agree with you totally McCreason but can you also see how that’s kind of a faith based notion.  Afterall there are many PhD scientists who are very religious as well.  I think the internet is helping tremendously tho.

 
Argo
 
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27 May 2009 20:41
 

I don’t think there is a single right approach, but there are wrong approaches for certain people/groups. A lot of people fail to read their comments without bias when they could easily read over objectively and control for things that turn off the people they are trying to convince. Also, look at a show like South Park. The creators are hardly tactful, but I would call this show successful in eroding bigotry and dogma while raising awareness of human rights.

I do agree that anyone trying to make an effort to do good here needs to be highly critical of their methods. Too many people get a rise from the fact that they are the enlightened ones and they are fighting the ignorant masses. I hope we all grow out of this, because we all have this in us to a degree. I know this sounds dumb, but if most people would don “What would Sam Harris do?” as a mantra we’d be a lot more successful for purely aesthetic reasons.

 
Josh
 
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28 May 2009 01:46
 
Argo - 27 May 2009 06:41 PM

A lot of people fail to read their comments without bias when they could easily read over objectively and control for things that turn off the people they are trying to convince.

They could…..but they don’t. At the end of the day, they are more likely to be more receptive to a guy like me, than a guy like B. Rabbit…..if for no other reason than this: I don’t suggest that we treat them like the Ebola virus, and B. Rabbit does.

Also, look at a show like South Park. The creators are hardly tactful, but I would call this show successful in eroding bigotry and dogma while raising awareness of human rights.

Okay, so if B. Rabbit was a cute, lovable, two-dimensional cartoon bunny with his own show on Comedy Central, then perhaps his paucity of tact would work to our advantage. But he’s not.

I know this sounds dumb, but if most people would don “What would Sam Harris do?” as a mantra we’d be a lot more successful for purely aesthetic reasons.

As soon as some WWSHD bracelets are made, someone will need to send the first one straight to B. Rabbit’s trailer in a hurry! He apparently needs it the most at this time.

 
Sara
 
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28 May 2009 02:07
 

Hmmm. The tribe effect is an interesting point, but I think it seems more plausible if someone feels like they are lacking something that the “tribe” offers to provide. Otherwise they will feel attacked, even if approached lightly.

I’ve experienced this on another site with a tolerant, but mixed bunch. When the atheists try to reason with a Christian about anything regarding their faith that they hold dear, even in the most tolerant and respectful ways they can put forth; the Christians feel under attack. Some of that probably has to do with being told never to question “God”, as well. So the tribe effect can be intimidating in that way, to them.

A lot of us use the word “education” in regards to this topic, but I think a better word for it is “exposure”. It is terribly hard to remain ignorant when your are exposed to more information than just the faith you’ve been conditioned to believe. I’m not familiar with Sam’s use of “Conversational intolerance”, but I can assume it boils down to defensive arguing. I agree this doesn’t work quickly, or right out of the chute, but it does get through more than you’d think. And the inundation of the same from other atheists or humanists keeps planting the seeds of things they don’t understand. Even the more closed minded of us have curiosity. When our curiosity is peaked… we tend to fulfill it eventually.

I think the best approach, for most, would be something that successfully (and inoffensively) melds curiosity with exposure, exposure, exposure.

[ Edited: 28 May 2009 02:16 by Sara]
 
 
SkepticX
 
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28 May 2009 14:00
 

The conversational accountability schtick seems to be catching on, and according to the last stats I saw somewhere around 25 or so percent of younger types are non-believers or at least unorthodox believers (lots of freethinkers in there). I think we certainly need to ramp up the accountability when religiostupidification (and other forms of The Crazy) threatens or produces large scale harm of some kind, but aside from that it seems to me that the success of the fundagelical theo-cons is proving to have been their undoing.

It’s not really much of a surprise, is it? With such public success comes public exposure, and there’s not a much more ugly beastie than fudagelical theo-conservatism.

Byron

 
 
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28 May 2009 15:26
 

Slow Nerve Action,
I agree with you that “intolerance” seems to do little good.  However, I do not think that “wooing” them out of their beliefs is a good idea…on principle.  If we are “wooing” them, we are no better than they, and are re-victimizing them with more brainwashing.  I don’t want to “indoctrinate” anyone.  I want them to start thinking for themselves, reviewing the evidence, and making logical conclusions without interference of dogma, superstition, and coercion.  That’s what we should stand for…and I feel that’s what we do stand for.  While I agree we must find a method that works and we should study and breakdown this behavior to find the cause and “cure”, I do not think that manipulation of any type, whether it be aggressive or gentle, should be encouraged. 
I could be wrong in this line of thinking, or I could have misunderstood you altogether.  Please feel free to correct me.

 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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28 May 2009 16:03
 
Sara - 28 May 2009 12:07 AM

I think the best approach, for most, would be something that successfully (and inoffensively) melds curiosity with exposure, exposure, exposure.

excellent point, exposure is surely the key!

Sara - 28 May 2009 12:07 AM

Hmmm. The tribe effect is an interesting point, but I think it seems more plausible if someone feels like they are lacking something that the “tribe” offers to provide. Otherwise they will feel attacked, even if approached lightly.

I’ve experienced this on another site with a tolerant, but mixed bunch. When the atheists try to reason with a Christian about anything regarding their faith that they hold dear, even in the most tolerant and respectful ways they can put forth; the Christians feel under attack. Some of that probably has to do with being told never to question “God”, as well. So the tribe effect can be intimidating in that way, to them.

Point well taken, first of all atheists don’t really have a “tribe” so i wasn’t suggesting that we copy the mormons and do exactly what they’re doing.  I’m just saying that there is a lesson to learn here, that’s all  

but the crux of my tribal comment was that you shouldn’t questions their beliefs at all… not even a little bit ....  that is until they feel like they’re totally a part of your “tribe”.  Instead, you simply build friendship and connect deeply around other topics.  If their belief comes up, you don’t start questioning it.  You simply offer your opinion and move on to the next subject.  Only after the person feels a deep connection to your “tribe” do you begin to go into detail about why you believe what you do and why you don’t believe other things.  The whole modality of questioning is largely ineffective with most people imho.  Its effective with us because we value judging concepts very highly, but other people don’t.    We have to remember we’re dealing with mutated mice and that’s it.  Their not going to go through the maze unless there’s some cheese at the end.  I don’t mean this in any pejorative sense, we’re all mutated mice and we need to remember that. 


but yes the exposure thing is absolutely key. 

                                                                                                                              ___
       
It’s been a while since i read sam’s book but if I remember correctly his idea of conversational intolerance proposes that we treat people who believe in god the same way we treat people who believe Elvis is still alive.  You diminish their credibility and stop taking them seriously.  I don’t think this is an effective approach personally.  I can’t imagine that its ever convinced Elvis believers that they we’re wrong.  And if the majority of the world believed in Elvis it would surely do nothing.

[ Edited: 28 May 2009 18:47 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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28 May 2009 16:06
 
Fully Alive - 28 May 2009 01:26 PM

Slow Nerve Action,
I agree with you that “intolerance” seems to do little good.  However, I do not think that “wooing” them out of their beliefs is a good idea…on principle.  If we are “wooing” them, we are no better than they, and are re-victimizing them with more brainwashing.  I don’t want to “indoctrinate” anyone.  I want them to start thinking for themselves, reviewing the evidence, and making logical conclusions without interference of dogma, superstition, and coercion.  That’s what we should stand for…and I feel that’s what we do stand for.  While I agree we must find a method that works and we should study and breakdown this behavior to find the cause and “cure”, I do not think that manipulation of any type, whether it be aggressive or gentle, should be encouraged. 
I could be wrong in this line of thinking, or I could have misunderstood you altogether.  Please feel free to correct me.

good point, i totally agree.

yeah i wasn’t suggesting that we woo them, lol.  I’m just saying that maybe if we became friends first… good friends that is, then we might have a chance at instilling a critical outlook in them.  We don’t need to praise them or anything, just become friends and get close to them and their personal affairs. 

I think our arguments would have alot more punch if we did that.


psychological studies suggest that people don’t remember what other people say, they remember how other people make them feel.  That is the key.  Most people *feel out* ideas, they don’t believe in things because its logical or illogical.  So I don’t see what I’m suggesting as manipulation at all.  Its just a matter of using their medium.  The medium of feelings.  You can’t just assume that they’re going to respond to logic the way we do.  When you confront them with logic they tend to *feel out* this logic instead of assessing it objectively.  And the fact is that we do this as well… but maybe just not as much.  If you’re trying to facilitate a greater reliance upon reason in them you have to begin with the medium they already know how to use. IMO

[ Edited: 28 May 2009 18:48 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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30 May 2009 19:04
 

Simpleton, I’m afraid you’ve completely missed the point.  You’re entire argument is based on a misinterpretation.  I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear so allow me to clarify.

Simpleton - 30 May 2009 03:30 AM

Look, bullshit is bullshit.  No reason to sugarcoat it just because some idiot won’t consider it unless it was sugar coated.  Besides, why replace one form of sugarcoated deceit with another?  That is not even intellectually honest.

 

Indeed bullshit is bullshit.  No one ever suggested that we sugarcoat it or be intellectually dishonest.  What was suggested is that you befriend people before you tell them that what they believe is bullshit.  This is just a suggestion that might be more effective than arguing.  If you find another approach to be more effective, by all means do that.  My only real concern is efficiency.  But I will say that befriending someone is not a form of deceit. 

Case in point: Genesis is bullshit.  It is scientifically in error.  That is the way it should be presented.  Not as “well, Genesis is not meant to be scientific, so would you consider it to be a metaphor, and not literal?”, just so that the deluded is still hanging on to superstition.

again no one suggested that it should be presented like that.

The problem with skeptics and rationalists like myself, and many people here I’m sure, is that many of us don’t know how to have a good time unless we’re arguing.  Our idea of a good time is to hang out with friends and “debate.”  We forget that other people don’t operate like us.  Other people actually enjoy relating to each other.  If you are the kind of person who doesn’t understand how to interact with other people without arguing with them then I can see why you would have misinterpreted my proposal for sugarcoating.  You don’t need to sugarcoat anything because you don’t need to address these issues until the time is right…  and when the time is right, by all means.  Until then however, you do what other people do, you bond with them about their life.  That is the only thing (most) people care about; themselves.  People are mostly religious for selfish reasons.  They just want to know how your ideas will benefit them, and often times they don’t care so much about whether its bullshit or not. 

If these issues do come up before you’ve solidified your friendship with them, them simply state your position without an intention to argue with them, there is no reason to be dishonest. 

- that is what i suggested and i hope that clarifies it for you.  (or are you the kind of person who doesn’t understand how to interact with other people without arguing with them?)         

 

Simpleton - 30 May 2009 03:30 AM

Indeed.  Or so Neville (or was that Richard?) Chamberlain thought when he assuaged Hitler.  Tactfully.

Such an approach may not have worked for Chamberlain but this is not an apt comparison because he wasn’t dealing with 5 billion Hitlers.

I am all for discretion in that you do not not speak or act unless it is appropriate and the opportunity is the right one.  But when you do speak or act, do so truthfully.

totally

 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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01 June 2009 19:40
 
Simpleton - 31 May 2009 04:03 PM

So how would you discuss Genesis, or would you avoid discussing Genesis at all?  If you choose the latter, would you even discuss any parts of the Bible?  Which ones, and why those and not Genesis?

I’m not claiming to know exactly how to do anything.  My only point was that there is a certain lesson to be learned about the art of persuasion.  We are in the same business as these religions—we’re trying to convince people that what we believe is true.  We however, are in a much better place than the religious simply because we have reasons for believing what we do and they don’t.  So if the religious are going to convince anyone they’re going to have to be pretty damn good at convincing people simply because they don’t have anything to work off of.  I think it would be wise for us to consider some of the skills they’ve developed and not simply assume that logically reasoning is always the best approach. 

To answer your question; how would i discuss genesis?  First I would have to ask myself if I really wanted to convince this person.  If someone reads the book of genesis literally its going to be a lot of work to convince them otherwise.  So I may not want to bother wasting my time because these types of people tend to be pretty foul, and arguing rarely ever works.  But, if I decide that I do want to convince them then I’ll have to consider the best approach to take judging by their character.  I know that if I just start arguing with most people no matter how sound my arguments are, they’ll roll right off their backs without a bit of penetration because they simply won’t give these argument the proper, unbiased, consideration they deserve.  ... But…  some people are more susceptible to arguments, especially the young.  So it would largely depend on their character. 
My best guess is that for the most people the most effective approach would be to argue against genesis as you naturally would, but only after you become friends with that person.  You can include all the good-natured ridicule you want as long as you’re also concerned about maintaining your friendship.

But again, that’s only if you actually want to convince this animal… The desire to convince a person is quite different than the desire to express frustration over their stupidity. 

 

 

Simpleton - 30 May 2009 03:30 AM

   
Indeed.  Or so Neville (or was that Richard?) Chamberlain thought when he assuaged Hitler.  Tactfully.

Slow Nerve Action - 30 May 2009 03:30 AM

 
Such an approach may not have worked for Chamberlain but this is not an apt comparison because he wasn’t dealing with 5 billion Hitlers.

Maybe if we realize that such is the only way to prevent having to deal with 6 billion Hitlers

My comment was focused on the fact that the analogy you used was not appropriate because its variables were not properly analogous.  There are more than 5 billion theists world wide.  We are drastically out-numbered so for your chamberlain-hilter analogy to hold, chamberlain would have had to have been just as drastically out numbered.  case and point.. analogously there are already 6 billion hitlers

[ Edited: 01 June 2009 19:54 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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01 June 2009 21:00
 

I got to the point where you mentioned illogical reasoning and realized you’re not actually interested in discussing this issue, you’re just interested in arguing.  How surprising.  You’re not worth my time, good night.


p.s. this may be news to you, but there are ways of interacting that have nothing to do with reasoning at all

[ Edited: 01 June 2009 21:13 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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01 June 2009 21:39
 

It doesn’t seem to me as though you’re interested in what I have to say, I have presented my claims very clearly and you still intend to make stawmen of them.  You didn’t offer a point by point rebuttal, you offerd blatant strawmen, and manipulations that a two year old could detect.  I never proposed we use “illogical reasoning” and the fact that you would make such a claim shows dubious intentions on your part.  My point was simply that you become friends with someone before you start reasoning with them.  Do you know what that’s like simpleton? to make friends?  have you ever had one before?  They’re really quite nice.

Do you also see how your “approach” of argumentation and belittlement has done little to convince me anything? 

you have just proven my point.  Because I have no desire to give your thoughts the time of day, they might otherwise deserve.

People are not computers, they are animals.  And if you want them to listen to you, you must have interpersonal communication skills.

[ Edited: 01 June 2009 21:58 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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01 June 2009 22:03
 

I suggest you ask yourself what you’re doing in your responses.  Are you actually trying to convince me of something?  Or are you just spewing your frustration…  Or more on point, are you just trying to inflate your ego? 

why are you wasting your time here?  typing this, surely there are better things you could be doing… why simpleton? why are you typing responses? why are you constructing the sentences that you’re constructing.. do you think they will convince me of something?  do you think they’ll make me feel bad, and that’ll make you feel better? 

If.. you are actually trying to convince me that I’m wrong then I suggest you assess what your doing, because the approach you are currently using ... is, quite literally irrational.  I am nothing more than a bag of atoms, and you are trying to manipulate these atoms… These atoms are determined to obey certain mechanisms and are manipulated more successfully with some approaches and less successfully with other approaches… 

are you, choosing the best approach to manipulate these atoms?  If your goal is to convince me, are you being rational in your choice of approach?  are you really?
is insulting me going to successfully manipulate them… the whole point of this thread must seem so foreign to you.

[ Edited: 01 June 2009 22:06 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Slow Nerve Action
 
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01 June 2009 22:26
 

I guess you’re just not getting it.  let me spell it out:

- I’m using this very converstation with you to show you how most people will ignore you if you interact with them the way you do.. durr

 
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