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What is the non-believers story?
Posted: 04 February 2014 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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[ Edited: 04 February 2014 02:31 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Lois,

If you had read my post a little more carefully you’d have concluded that it was a general statement, based loosely on PLaClair’s post #30.

As a European I have enough trouble expressing myself without having to consider what words “our adversaries” use. I use the dictionary for almost every post in an effort to be precise.

In view of the thread’s Title, I believe it was an appropriate comment and, as I believe that you are also an atheist, I believe that your gratuitous comment about my behavior is misplaced in this particular instance.

Strange, being that I find myself in agreement with your posts most of the time.

p.s. if, on occasion, I sound juvenile, it probably is from early onset dementia…...301.gif

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Posted: 04 February 2014 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Write4U - 04 February 2014 11:28 AM

Lois,

If you had read my post a little more carefully you’d have concluded that it was a general statement, based loosely on PLaClair’s post #30.

As a European I have enough trouble expressing myself without having to consider what words “our adversaries” use. I use the dictionary for almost every post in an effort to be precise.

In view of the thread’s Title, I believe it was an appropriate comment and, as I believe that you are also an atheist, I believe that your gratuitous comment about my behavior is misplaced in this particular instance.

Strange, being that I find myself in agreement with your posts most of the time.

p.s. if, on occasion, I sound juvenile, it probably is from early onset dementia…...301.gif

Sorry if I overreacted. It’s juat that when I see a defensive reaction to something as benign as a suggestion, fireworks go off. Yes, We do agree on most issues. I did not check to see who I was responding to or I wouldn’t have been so aggressive. Just caught me at a bad time.

Lois

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Posted: 04 February 2014 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Write4U - 04 February 2014 11:28 AM

Lois,

If you had read my post a little more carefully you’d have concluded that it was a general statement, based loosely on PLaClair’s post #30.

As a European I have enough trouble expressing myself without having to consider what words “our adversaries” use. I use the dictionary for almost every post in an effort to be precise.

In view of the thread’s Title, I believe it was an appropriate comment and, as I believe that you are also an atheist, I believe that your gratuitous comment about my behavior is misplaced in this particular instance.

Strange, being that I find myself in agreement with your posts most of the time.

p.s. if, on occasion, I sound juvenile, it probably is from early onset dementia…...301.gif

Because I overreacted in my post, I have removed it the only way CFI Forums allows me to remove it, by erasing it and reposting a blank page.

Lois

[ Edited: 08 February 2014 11:39 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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No harm done…... Laie_23.gif

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Posted: 04 February 2014 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Lois, I don’t agree with you on much. I see you as an absolutist. But you removed a post because you recognized that it wasn’t sound. That takes character, and so I applaud you.

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Posted: 08 February 2014 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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PLaClair - 04 February 2014 06:05 AM
Theflyingsorcerer - 03 February 2014 09:47 PM

“Belief” has too much of an association with religion and superstition (which are, I suspect much the same thing) for any intelligent person to use it as a basis for living, it seems to me.

Right, exactly as I told you. Our adversaries use the word, so we can’t. There’s nothing rational about that, it’s just a reaction. Not to mention the way you’re mixing the word with the res: a word is not a basis for living.

You’re not going to see this until you can stop reacting. Meanwhile, I’ll just ask you to think about the cultural dynamics of language, and the way theists as a group try to gain control. Once they realize that they can control your language by using your words, they can push you where they want you to go.

Hi PLaClair.

My first impulse was simply to ignore this post of yours, and your previous ones, as simply too ridiculous for words, but being told ““you’re not going to see this until you can stop reacting” made me think; however, it seems to me that you’ve got it just 100% dead wrong. I’m not the one who’s reacting and not seeing, it seems to me.

And nowhere have I said “our adversaries use the word, so we can’t.” All I’m saying is that, if we use a word, we should be very conscious of precisely what we mean by it, and try to avoid ambiguity and any potential for misunderstanding. “Belief” is one of those loaded words that means very different things to different people. And how you imagine that the theists are going to take control because I’m proposing that we use words carefully seems, to me, entirely mysterious and illogical.

It’s mostly a semantic problem. The English language is an unwieldy contraption roughly bolted together from bits and pieces of dozens of European and Asian source languages; it’s beautiful - most of the world’s greatest poets wrote in English (and before anyone starts screaming, I know all about Dante and Goethe and the rest) - but it tends to lack precision, and as a scientist and an engineer this causes me concern. It’s beautiful, but messy, with the result that we have a plethora of synonyms but also, for historical reasons, we tend to attach several wildly different meanings to a single word, and to understand we have to look for context. For example, it’s obvious that to say “I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour” means something very different than to say “I believe I’ll have another beer”; the meanings are obvious from the context, and, granted, these are extremes, but in between is a vast grey area of ambiguity where misunderstandings can too easily arise, as can obfuscation and deliberate misrepresentation.

Here’s an example from this very forum. Some years ago there was a discussion about sightings of lake monsters, and there was a suggestion originally given by Bob Shaeffer, I think it was, that sightings of a herd (flock? school? - whatever) of otters, swimming in line-ahead formation with only the leader’s head out of the water, and all the rest with their heads underwater and backs humped, could be mistaken for a serpentine monster.  I replied that I had seen plenty of otters, and they simply don’t behave that way. I went on to say (quoting from memory) “I could more easily believe that a large, hitherto unknown creature inhabits Okanagan Lake than that a herd of otters would swim for any length of time as Shaeffer suggests.” And sure enough, didn’t someone pipe up, “There, you see, you easily believe while Shaeffer looks for evidence!” I mean, was this deliberate misrepresentation, or was the guy just terminally stupid? Shaeffer’s suggestion was supposed to be evidence?

Your proposal to follow me around for a day was actually quite funny, and I can just imagine how it might have gone; “Aha! You stopped at that red light! That’s because you believe that a red light means stop!” “No, actually it’s because I know damned well  a red light means stop, and I’ve witnessed the consequences of people ignoring it, many times. Belief has nothing to do with it.” But, really, are you so desperate to prove yourself right that you could seriously suggest such a thing? Are you really that unsure of yourself? I’ve described it as funny, which it is, but it also seems to me to border on the pathological.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be back here. I came to this forum several years ago expecting intelligent and rational discussion of ideas; instead, it seems that whenever anyone suggests something slightly at odds with the generally accepted status quo, they’re subjected to a barrage of ridicule, sneering, pointless jokes, misquotation, misrepresentation and personal insults. I’ve had more rational discussions on a Witchcraft site I sometimes post to (there, I’ve given you more stuff for you to misunderstand and throw back at me).

I described a UFO sighting I’d had, some years previously, on this CFI forum without any suggestion that it might have been an alien spacecraft; just something a bit unusual that I’d witnessed. Immediately all the other posters to that thread closed ranks; the consensus was that such things don’t exist, therefore I hadn’t seen anything. Period. Despite the fact, of course, that none of them was there whereas I was; they obviously knew better.

This attitude seems to me to be supremely unscientific. Was it not Isaac Asimov, or Martin Gardner, or one of those guys, who said something to the effect that “All real science begins with someone noticeing something and thinking “That’s odd…...”

There’s an online site that claims to describe how to recognise a pseudoscientist; one major characteristic, apparently, is that pseudoscientists start with the desired conclusion and work backwards to the evidence. This gave me a chuckle, I can tell you; isn’t that precisely what a great many people who call themselves skeptics do? “Alien spacecraft/lake monsters/ghosts don’t exist, therefore what you say you witnessed didn’t happen…..”

Allright, this has been a bit of a diatribe - or even a rant, maybe; but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and you guys just happen to be here so you get the earful intended for perhaps 90% of those who post to this forum.

I’ll stop now.

TFS.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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TFS, what about a person who is diagnosed with a potentially fatal cancer, development of treatments is in flux, and his doctor offers him several alternatives? He chooses the one that he believes is best for him. What’s the problem?

A colleague and friend in my law office has a son who suffers from a progressive neurological disease, which has been fatal in most victims. A new drug is in the process of testing, and the boy has been accepted into the test group. If my friend says “I pushed to get my son into this program because I believe it offers him his best chance to survive,” is he being unreasonable? Irrational? Unintelligent? After all, the benefits of the drug haven’t been proved yet, and - who knows - there may be significant side effects that aren’t appreciated yet. What’s wrong with using the word, and for that matter with imagining that his son may survive, as long as he maintains his grounding in reality?

Consider the specific examples in the posts from another topic, which I referenced a week or two ago, in which virtually every leading humanist and non-theist uses the dreaded B-word seamlessly, clearly and to excellent effect. Are they all stupid too?. If you can’t find the quotations, I’ll tell you where you can.

A statement that no intelligent person relies on belief, and that every intelligent person avoids that word, is dogmatic and demonstrably untrue. You’re obviously reacting, it’s obvious from how you’re writing. Believe me or don’t, but you will be well-advised to employ caution in making categorical statements about so many highly intelligent and accomplished people.

[ Edited: 09 February 2014 09:47 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 09 February 2014 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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PLaClair - 09 February 2014 09:43 AM

TFS, what about a person who is diagnosed with a potentially fatal cancer, development of treatments is in flux, and his doctor offers him several alternatives? He chooses the one that he believes is best for him. What’s the problem?

A colleague and friend in my law office has a son who suffers from a progressive neurological disease, which has been fatal in most victims. A new drug is in the process of testing, and the boy has been accepted into the test group. If my friend says “I pushed to get my son into this program because I believe it offers him his best chance to survive,” is he being unreasonable? Irrational? Unintelligent? After all, the benefits of the drug haven’t been proved yet, and - who knows - there may be significant side effects that aren’t appreciated yet. What’s wrong with using the word, and for that matter with imagining that his son may survive, as long as he maintains his grounding in reality?

Consider the specific examples in the posts from another topic, which I referenced a week or two ago, in which virtually every leading humanist and non-theist uses the dreaded B-word seamlessly, clearly and to excellent effect. Are they all stupid too?. If you can’t find the quotations, I’ll tell you where you can.

A statement that no intelligent person relies on belief, and that every intelligent person avoids that word, is dogmatic and demonstrably untrue. You’re obviously reacting, it’s obvious from how you’re writing. Believe me or don’t, but you will be well-advised to employ caution in making categorical statements about so many highly intelligent and accomplished people.

So much depends on how you define the word “belief”. It can mean a closely held opinion that can’t be changed no matter what kind of evidence is provided to the contrary, or it can be a temporary acceptance of an idea until further information is presented. That’s one reason I don’t like to use the word. Belief is a garbage-can word. It can mean anything anyone wants it to mean. It can mean something fervently held despite evidence to the contrary or it can be a passing whim. Long ago I stopped using the word for myself. I do use it when discussing belief with a believer because it can’t be avoided. But I am very comfortable saying I don’t believe in anything that has no objective evidence that it exists or works the way someone claims it works without evidence.  Now in the case of a loved one who is suffering from an incurable disease, I might be persuaded to try a new treatment that has not been scientifically proven to work on the off chance that it might improve my loved one’s condition and there is no objective evidence that it does not work or does harm.  That is not belief. It is more like hope. Even a person who gives up on belief can hope.  As a pragmatist I would not use such an experimental medicine on someone who wasn’t likely to die anyway or who was not in intractable pain. But not using the concept of belief does not affect whether I will try something unproven but which has practical applications in the hope that it might have a positive effect. That is not belief. It is experiment and hope. That so many people cannot bring themselves to understand the difference is why I don’t use the word “belief.” It means nothing that can’t be better described in other words.

[ Edited: 09 February 2014 11:03 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 09 February 2014 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Think about what been said in this thread.

People trying to come to some agreement on the meanings of words and how these words relate to their interest of thought.  Words related in subject or context to “belief” seems to be the topic.

PLaClair - 09 February 2014 09:43 AM

A statement that no intelligent person relies on belief, and that every intelligent person avoids that word, is dogmatic and demonstrably untrue.

Example this statement can go any direction, depending on which end of the scale of thought you are at.

Used in subject of this thread for some people the statement is very true and for others it is false.

Example, if your friend was Neurological Doctor and not a lawyer, then his thoughts could be looked upon as rational. Same for the people’s thoughts on “gravity”, we know its effect, but we do not know the inner workings of what makes it work. Once gravity is all figured out then all logical thinking about gravity will be rational. All thinking of ill rational thought will be placed in the “belief” basket.

When one hears the word “belief” one can assume there is missing “knowledge” or untested knowledge or knowledge that is unaccepted by the masses or people of authority on the subject.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Lois - 09 February 2014 10:59 AM

So much depends on how you define the word “belief”. It can mean a closely held opinion that can’t be changed no matter what kind of evidence is provided to the contrary, or it can be a temporary acceptance of an idea until further information is presented.

I would call that an approach or response to belief. Let’s open another topic and argue about that, too.

Lois - 09 February 2014 10:59 AM

Now in the case of a loved one who is suffering from an incurable disease, I might be persuaded to try a new treatment that has not been scientifically proven to work on the off chance that it might improve my loved one’s condition and there is no objective evidence that it does not work or does harm.  That is not belief. It is more like hope.

No, it’s more than mere hope. Drugs don’t make it into clinical trials until they’ve demonstrated a likelihood of success. For the researchers, mere hope is not enough to start doing double-blind trials on patients who are sick. For the patient or his family, awareness of that likelihood of success makes the assessment a belief, i.e., an acceptance of a proposition as having a significant or high likelihood of being true.

Lois - 09 February 2014 10:59 AM

Belief is a garbage-can word. It can mean anything anyone wants it to mean.

Yeah, like high, low, hot, cold, liberal, conservative. Let’s throw those out of our vocabulary, too. I’m sorry to be so blunt but this is ridiculous. You’re reacting, and you’re not going to see this clearly until you stop doing that.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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PLaClair - 09 February 2014 11:14 AM
Lois - 09 February 2014 10:59 AM

So much depends on how you define the word “belief”. It can mean a closely held opinion that can’t be changed no matter what kind of evidence is provided to the contrary, or it can be a temporary acceptance of an idea until further information is presented.

I would call that an approach or response to belief. Let’s open another topic and argue about that, too.

Lois - 09 February 2014 10:59 AM

Now in the case of a loved one who is suffering from an incurable disease, I might be persuaded to try a new treatment that has not been scientifically proven to work on the off chance that it might improve my loved one’s condition and there is no objective evidence that it does not work or does harm.  That is not belief. It is more like hope.

No, it’s more than mere hope. Drugs don’t make it into clinical trials until they’ve demonstrated a likelihood of success. For the researchers, mere hope is not enough to start doing double-blind trials on patients who are sick. For the patient or his family, awareness of that likelihood of success makes the assessment a belief, i.e., an acceptance of a proposition as having a significant or high likelihood of being true.

Lois - 09 February 2014 10:59 AM

Belief is a garbage-can word. It can mean anything anyone wants it to mean.

Yeah, like high, low, hot, cold, liberal, conservative. Let’s throw those out of our vocabulary, too. I’m sorry to be so blunt but this is ridiculous. You’re reacting, and you’re not going to see this clearly until you stop doing that.

You are also reacting and you are not going to see this clearly until you stop doing that. You are using the oldest trick in the book—claiming that your opponent is reacting through emotion while you are thinking everything through with intellectual dispassion.

You are just as likely to react emotionally as anyone. And I am just as likely to think things through with intellectual dispassion. Accusing your opponent of emotional reaction does not make it so. It is simply a device to put down your opponent in order to make your own argument look good. It doesn’t work with people who have been around the block a few times.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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PLaClair - 09 February 2014 09:43 AM

Consider the specific examples in the posts from another topic, which I referenced a week or two ago, in which virtually every leading humanist and non-theist uses the dreaded B-word seamlessly, clearly and to excellent effect. Are they all stupid too?. If you can’t find the quotations, I’ll tell you where you can.

A statement that no intelligent person relies on belief, and that every intelligent person avoids that word, is dogmatic and demonstrably untrue. You’re obviously reacting, it’s obvious from how you’re writing. Believe me or don’t, but you will be well-advised to employ caution in making categorical statements about so many highly intelligent and accomplished people.

The fact that other people who are supposedly highly intelligent and accomplished are sloppy in their use of language is part of the problem. I’ll have more to say on this topic but I have to be somewhere else in 10 minutes, so talk to you later.

TFS

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Posted: 09 February 2014 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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What is going on here, this incessant argument that borders on word-policing, has nothing to do with clarity. I could easily go through the posts of everyone here, including my own, and pick out words that are ambiguous. Take the very words that define this forum: “Religion and Secularism.” They are both highly ambiguous, yet curiously, we see no objection, no big argument about it.

And this is why: This ridiculous argument over certain words, which we see repeated over and over in non-theistic groups, incessantly. has to do with the fact that some people associate certain words with religion, and more specifically with theism. Those are the only words that draw this fire, and Lois, whether you like me saying it or not, you’re doing it. I’m not and most of the other people who post here aren’t doing it either. There are some people who react to anything they associate with and identify as being part of the dreaded R-thing, religion.

Seth McFarlane did three or four episodes in one of his TV shows about a future in which atheists had taken over the world. But instead of achieving John Lennon’s utopia, the whole world was at war because the atheists couldn’t agree what to call themselves. You don’t think you’re reacting? Like hell you’re not. And that all this is or ever has been about.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Shouldn’t the first step be to teach people to think for themselves, then they can create their own stories from the vast amount of genuine material out there from the Big Bang to Evolution. Critical thinking skills are essential, without them people have no way to separate myths from the real thing.

Some good sources to build a basic understanding in science include shows like NOVA and radio programs like CBC’s Quirks and Quarks. We should all be encouraging much more support for the sciences in school starting at as early a level as possible.

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