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USA Isn’t Religiously Diverse

Religious-Diversity.

It is part of the American mythos that we are amazingly diverse religiously and culturally. Whether that’s true depends on how one measures.

Pew Research Center (“U.S. doesn’t rank high in religious diversity“):

The United States has often been described as a religiously diverse country, an image celebrated in forums ranging from scholarly work to a popular bumper sticker and even a recent Coca-Cola commercial during the Super Bowl. But, from a global perspective, the United States really is not all that religiously diverse, according to a new Pew Research Center study. In fact, 95% of the U.S. population is either Christian or religiously unaffiliated, while all other religions combined account for just 5% of Americans. As a result, the U.S. ranks 68th out of 232 countries and territories on our Religious Diversity Index.

The new study treats all Christians as members of the same religion. The U.S. has an enormous variety of Christian denominations, and if diversity within the world’s largest faith were taken into account, the United States likely would rank higher. But the study treats Christianity no differently than Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Judaism – all of which also have a lot of internal diversity, yet are considered as single religions in the study.

[...]

The U.S. is classified as “moderate” in terms of religious diversity. While adherents of many world religions live in the United States – the world’s third most populous country – most of those religions each represent less than 2% of the U.S. population. That includes people who identify their religion in surveys as Judaism (1.8%), Buddhism (1.2%), Islam (0.9%), Hinduism (0.6%) and folk or traditional religions (0.2%).

This is a perfectly reasonable methodology, but certainly not the only one. It really depends on what you’re trying to get at with the rankings.

The sense in which America is religiously diverse is the sheer multitude of religions represented here. And the report acknowledges that fact:

While adherents of many world religions live in the United States – the world’s third most populous country – most of those religions each represent less than 2% of the U.S. population. That includes people who identify their religion in surveys as Judaism (1.8%), Buddhism (1.2%), Islam (0.9%), Hinduism (0.6%) and folk or traditional religions (0.2%).

But grouping all Christians into a single category, which again is perfectly reasonable depending on what one is trying to measure, points to the fact that, despite nominal diversity, we’re essentially a Christian nation. We non-believers are more numerous than any non-Christian religion–indeed, all of them put together. Outside of a handful of urban areas, then, Americans will rarely encounter people who aren’t either a Christian, a Jew, or non-religious.

The Pew folks do throw a bone to the American exceptionalists:

There’s an important distinction between religious diversity and religious freedom, which this report does not measure. (We’ve studied global restrictions on religion, both in the form of government restrictions and social hostilities, in a separate series of reports.) TheFirst Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, of course, guarantees the right to “free exercise” of religion, which has been celebrated by figures ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Norman Rockwell.

But even as Tocqueville (in the late 1830s) wrote that the “sects that exist in the United States are innumerable,” he also observed that all those sects “are comprised within the great unity of Christianity.” The country has certainly changed over the centuries, but it remains a nation with an overwhelming Christian majority.

But, while we may have been pioneers in enshrining religious freedom in our founding documents, we’re hardly alone in practicing it at this point.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    hmm.
    Its kinda like the line from the Blues Brothers….

    “We listen to both kinds of music. Country AND Western.’

    so I guess the logical question at this point would be ‘to whose advantage is it to claim a large diversity which doesnt exist?”.

    I suppose the answer lies somewhere behind the question of who is pushing this non-existant diversity, looking at their political position on traditional western culture, the Judeo-Christian ethos, etc and proceeding logically from there.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    I think it is somewhat misleading to consider all “Christian” sects as one religion. Probably as misleading as considering all Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) religions as one religion. In addition it has been my observation that many in the US go to church for social rather than religious reasons. As an atheist I have been guilty of this myself during emotionally trying times.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    To get a fair picture of religious diversity in different countries I think it’s helpful to factor in the size and nature of the country. Singapore is, essentially, a trading post. As such in the middle of competing cultures it’s not entirely surprising it has a good deal of religious diversity.

    My offhand guess is that the larger the country, the less religious diversity is typical. When you compare apples to apples, I think the picture changes somewhat. The U. S. is moderately diverse, as the survey suggests. However, for a country of its size it’s very diverse, just as France is for a country of its size.

    Is there really a bright line distinction between religious freedom and religious diversity? Japan would have more Christians if it hadn’t killed so many off in the 17th century. Many European countries would be more diverse if they hadn’t organized massive pogroms to kill off their Jews every couple of generations. Many countries in MENA that are overwhelmingly Muslim had sizeable Jewish and Christian populations until, just in the last century, they murdered or ejected them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  4. DrDaveT says:

    @Ron Beasley: Two good points here.

    While doctrinally Catholicism and Lutheranism are extremely close in the grand scheme of things, they are culturally much more distant — and that’s before you even get to the Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists and Free Will Baptists and Pentecostals and whatnot. Since diversity is about (I assert without proof) the degree to which you interact routinely with The Other, heterogeneity within Christianity (or Islam, or Judaism) should count.

    Perhaps even more importantly, religious diversity (or the lack thereof) is only relevant among the religious. Looking at the chart in the original article, it’s simply not true that France is 63% Christian, if you’re talking about religious beliefs. Every poll I’ve seen shows a strong atheist/agnostic majority among non-immigrant Frenchmen. (The immigrants are Muslims.)

    The U.S. has a large population of Christians who not only identify socially and historically with a particular religious group, but also really believe. Among such countries, the U.S. is among the most diverse within Christianity — most countries with a lot of ardent Christians are overwhelmingly Catholic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. Tyrell says:

    @Ron Beasley: Even more confusing can be the church “membership” numbers by denominations. Each has its own rules and criteria, and this can even vary from church to church. Some independent churches do not even keep numbers. Then you have the sub category “active” membership which can mean attending twice a year and making a contribution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. PJ says:

    Hmm… All those Scandinavian atheist soc.list god hating countries have higher Christian percentages than the US? And isn’t Europe being overrun by Muslims? The Netherlands – 6%. Belgium – 5.9%. Germany – 5.8%. Eurabia indeed!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    @DrDaveT: Yes indeed, I grew up in the Lutheran church and they used to say they were more Catholic than the Catholics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: Yes, Eric, like everything else in the universe, this is a conspiracy to oppress conservatives.

    Yawn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  9. stonetools says:

    My choice for most religiously diverse country: India. Majority Hindu country, but with substantial Muslim minority ( one of the biggest Muslim populations in the world). Also birthplace of Buddhism, with significant Christian, Parsi, Jewish, and animist minorities.
    You could almost write a history of the world religions and not leave the Indian subcontinent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  10. michael reynolds says:

    And yet Christians never stop trying to play victim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    @stonetools: Don’t forget the Zoroastrians who migrated there from Iran after being driven out by the Muslims.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: So true!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Motopilot says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I think it is somewhat misleading to consider all “Christian” sects as one religion.

    Reminds me of this skit by Emo Philips. (Go to 2:39 mark if you don’t want to listen to the whole clip.)

    http://youtu.be/ZBKIyCbppfs

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @michael reynolds:

    For a few grins:

    Help! I’m being oppressed!

    http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/newshounds/legacy_url/21073/oppressedchristians.gif?1321495441

    Then there is the “WAR ON CHRISTAINITY” !!!

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xjq0YIl7JGQ/UVRg7rIEfpI/AAAAAAAADk8/uobYsdGMGaY/s1600/christian_oppression_comic.jpeg

    But in all seriousness, there is the idea of Christian Privilege :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_privilege

    As an atheist, I can say that you likely have NO idea how prevalent and pervasive Christianity is in the USA.

    And, if you are of a Christian sect and say, “nuh-uh…not it’s not”, realize that (as an analogy): fish aren’t aware of water.

    I listen to these people who would say that they are not in any way superstitious, but then beg an imaginary character to give them a reward.

    Oh well. Mass Hysteria is a thing, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I grew up in the Lutheran church and they used to say they were more Catholic than the Catholics.

    That said, even within the Lutheran Church, there’s a pretty wide expression of faith. Missouri Synod tends to be “Catholicism – Pope, Feast Days, & Incense.” However the Evangelical branches of the Lutheran Church, are, well, a lot more Evangelical.

    Needless to say, folks in the Missouri Synod are deeply suspicious of those *other Lutherans.*

    @Eric Florack:

    Judeo-Christian ethos

    It occurs to me that most of the people I’ve ever heard invoke phrases like “Judeo-Christian Ethos” tend to be Christians. I’m numerous conversations with Jew and Jewish Scholars, I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard them use that phrase. I tend to suspect that while they buy into the general idea of a “Judeo” ethic, they don’t see the entire “Christian” thing particularly reflected within their culture.

    Further, I tend to think that most of the people who use the phrase “Judeo-Christian Ethos” really mean the “Protestant Ethos” as described by Max Weber. In Weber’s day, (as evidenced by a number of his works, in particular “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”) the “Catholic Ethos” was seen as entirely different than the “Protestant Ethos” — the prior typically being seen as far more collectivist, often lazy, and hierarchically drone link. BTW, this largely remains true to this day (see the outrage that usually happens when any Pope starts to venture into the dreaded area of “Social Justice.”).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  16. grewgills says:

    Re: the diversity of Christian sects in the US
    I was struck by this when living in the Netherlands. We visited many of the old churches. In a few of the non-Catholic Christian churches I asked what sect of Christian they were. The each simply answered Protestant. When I pressed and asked, yes but what type of Protestant, they looked at me like I was from the moon. I found out later that pretty much every Protestant there is Dutch Reform. They only have two flavors of Christians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @grewgills:

    They only have two flavors of Christians.

    Correct. In much the same way, in German you are most likely either Catholic or Lutheran.

    We should remember that the English Calvinists/Puritans left the Netherlands for North American due to concerns that the would end up going native (Dutch reform).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Matt Bernius says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I listen to these people who would say that they are not in any way superstitious, but then beg an imaginary character to give them a reward.

    Dear God, Earth Spirit, Buddah, Insert-deity-of-choice-here,

    Please save us from the “loving” condescension of evangelical atheists who always know better.

    Amen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. Moosebreath says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    ” I tend to suspect that while they buy into the general idea of a “Judeo” ethic, they don’t see the entire “Christian” thing particularly reflected within their culture.”

    Actually many Jews don’t accept the idea of a single Judeo ethic, which covers everyone from the Lubavitchers who follow every one of the 613 laws in the Old Testament without exception to the cultural Jews who are effectively agnostic and follow whichever laws they feel are meaningful to them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. Tyrell says:

    I am somewhat surprised it is 78%. It shows the Christian church has a lot of work ahead. Some churches are sending mission workers to areas in this country instead of over seas. There have been several revivals around here in the past few months. We live in the Bible belt so the number here would be in the high 90% area.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. john personna says:

    Another example of where national statistics can be true, and local experience can vary greatly.

    I am in Encino this weekend, and so I saw orthodox Jews walking “everywhere.”

    Of course I would not argue that therefore the whole country is orthodox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. anjin-san says:

    I keep wondering why millions of people who have rejected the teaching of Jesus continue to be regarded as Christians.

    I’m sorry, you cannot despise the poor and actively work to make their lot in life harder and accurately describe yourself as a Christian. I think Jimmy Cater is absolutely right about this.

    I am not making any blanket condemnations, my wife’s church puts serving the poor above everything else, in fact she is at her church feeding homeless people as I type this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  23. john personna says:

    @anjin-san:

    Matt Grossmann and Dave Hopkins have an interesting claim in their recent paper PDF.

    They say the electorate is symbolically conservative but operationally liberal. Since state aid for the poor is “operation” it can only come from one side.

    The right, more concerned with ideological purity, will have no concrete plan, ever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  24. Motopilot says:

    @anjin-san:

    I keep wondering why millions of people who have rejected the teaching of Jesus continue to be regarded as Christians.

    Apparently the teachings of Jesus are open to interpretation, hence all the denominations. (Christian diversity) Which, essentially, really makes a farce of it all in the big picture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. Matt Bernius says:

    @Motopilot:

    Apparently the teachings of Jesus are open to interpretation, hence all the denominations. (Christian diversity) Which, essentially, really makes a farce of it all in the big picture.

    The same can be said of any philosophical movement. The fact is that *everything* is, generally speaking, open to interpretation.

    Generally speaking, it’s farcical for any modern Christian denomination to claim that they have TEH REALZ XSTANITIZ! But honestly the same would be true of anyone who claimed TEH REALZ LIBRULISM or CONZERVATIZSM.

    Or for that matter Buddhism or Marxism. Heck the same would be true about cooking as well (what’s the REALZ PIZZA?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  26. anjin-san says:

    I just can’t fathom the mental gymnastics necessary to parse Jesus’ message into “shit on the poor, it’s cool”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  27. DrDaveT says:

    @anjin-san: Jesus himself anticipated this particular problem:

    41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
    46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  28. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    That said, even within the Lutheran Church, there’s a pretty wide expression of faith. Missouri Synod tends to be “Catholicism – Pope, Feast Days, & Incense.” However the Evangelical branches of the Lutheran Church, are, well, a lot more Evangelical.

    How interesting. And yet at my church in Korea, it was the Missouri Synod pastor who came after the ELCA pastor (both groups shared jurisdiction alternating 5-year terms) who threw out the liturgy and installed a “worship band” in the style of Pentacostal/non-denominational/Evangelical churches.

    Not that I disagree with your analysis, particularly–provided that by “Catholic” you mean legalistically authoritarian.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Lounsbury says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The cultural Xian, and specifiably Catholic, component of French identity and subsequent policy development is quite strong. It rather strong contributes to their awkward relationship with their non-Catholic minorities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The cultural Xian, and specifiably Catholic, component of French identity and subsequent policy development is quite strong.

    I didn’t say it wasn’t — but the key word there is cultural. As in Northern Ireland, the division is cultural/historical; it is not driven by actual religious beliefs.

    The French aversion to their Muslim immigrant population has nothing to do with Catholic doctrine, just as the long war between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland has nothing to do with the fine distinctions between Catholic and Anglican Christianity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  31. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    The 78% figure for the U.S. is in decline. It used to be higher. The younger you are, the less likely it is you identify with organized religion of any kind.

    Also, lumping all “christians” into a single pile never works, as it only annoys the fundamentalists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Please save us from the “loving” condescension of evangelical atheists who always know better.

    Hey, believe what you wish. We have a country and constitution that has created a situation where any “belief” is tolerated (and becomes a tax deduction as well).

    It just strikes me odd that when one of the minority speaks up (that less than 16% number above), suddenly I’m condescending. (and if I do speak up, then I am “evangelical” as well, no doubt by expressing an opinion.)

    From the religious: “Help! I’m being oppressed!”, eh ?

    If you need to have a god, well, good for you.

    And if you wish to explain to me that you believe what you do and act as you do without planning for some eternal, clearly supernatural reward… well, I’m all ears.

    And, while at it, explain the physics for me of these ethereal realms as well. Again, I’m open to how this all works.

    I just haven’t seen any successful augments that get past the “because it is” stage.

    So: from this “evangelical’s” perspective, please remember that your gods and the proposed undeniable beliefs that a religion demands, end at your arms length.

    Either that, or cuddle up to the demands of the annihilation of the unbelievers that most religions seem to embrace.

    And, yes, it is a dichotomy… there is either tolerance or faith. if you believe there is a middle ground, then you neither have faith (as religion is an all-in system) OR tolerance (as your beliefs cause you to question / limit the freedom and choices of others).

    (Taoist & some Buddhists may get a pass on this. Taoism is pretty darned accepting of what “is”.)

    For a real world example, just look at the GOP and their embrace of Christian focused religious “issues”. Greater and greater demands of political purity, most based on religious tenets. ( How’s that going? )

    So, if my speaking up is condescending, it is likely the same perceived annoyance as the child that pointed out that the emperor has no clothes.

    Sorry if I should dare question the structural framework on which many have built their lies lives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  33. Lounsbury says:

    @DrDaveT:

    That’s absolute bollocks. Underlying Catholic informed identity politics has everything to do with it, and popular understanding of religion.

    Theologians doctrine, possibly not, but then one can write that about just about every bloody religious conflict, whether Xian or Muslim, Shia or Sunni. Rarely is it ever about doctrine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  34. matt bernius says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    So: from this “evangelical’s” perspective, please remember that your gods and the proposed undeniable beliefs that a religion demands, end at your arms length.

    At what point did any post I make here suggest otherwise.

    So far the only person who seems not to be following this concept is you, considering that in both your posts on this thread you’ve essentially been schooling us that anyone who follows a religious faith based is at best a fool.

    Not to mention *you* deciding which religious faith based systems are “more acceptable.”

    As I hinted, I’m having a hard time seeing how your behavior is any different than the folks you are decrying. Especially the entire sense of “I’m a victim because strawman-you doesn’t respect my beliefs, therefore I’ll aggressive attack what you believe.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. Kari Q says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    And, yes, it is a dichotomy… there is either tolerance or faith. if you believe there is a middle ground, then you neither have faith (as religion is an all-in system) OR tolerance (as your beliefs cause you to question / limit the freedom and choices of others).

    (Taoist & some Buddhists may get a pass on this. Taoism is pretty darned accepting of what “is”.)

    On the other hand, Taoism doesn’t believe in duality, so they may reject your idea of dichotomy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. Eric Florack says:

    @wr: Hey, man, you said it. I didn’t.

    @john personna: (and @anjin-san: )
    Not bad, but it does tend to go a bit deeper than that. There’s a report I saw recently… (and sorry, I’m afraid I don’t remember where) that suggested upwards of 60% of those who consider themselves to be culturally jewish, don’t believe in God, nor do they attend services regularly. Please understand… This is by no means to attend a bad connotation on these, but to point out that about every religious group is but a subset of a larger cultural grouping.

    @Matt Bernius: Since the majority of Americans (If we accept this report, which for argument’s sake, I will) are Christian, the majority of the people you meet using that phrase also being at least culturally Christian seems a low hurdle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Rarely is it ever about doctrine.

    You keep violently agreeing with me, even while claiming I’m wrong.

    Yes, exactly. It’s almost never about doctrine — which is to say, it’s almost never about religion. It’s about culture, and group identity, and ruling elites protecting their turf, and all of the other usual trappings that would be just as applicable if we were talking about gangs or nations or football rivalries, rather than religious affiliations.

    Of course, humans being humans, even when it starts out being about doctrine, it usually devolves pretty quickly into mere Us versus Them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  38. Tillman says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Generally speaking, it’s farcical for any modern Christian denomination to claim that they have TEH REALZ XSTANITIZ! But honestly the same would be true of anyone who claimed TEH REALZ LIBRULISM or CONZERVATIZSM.

    Or for that matter Buddhism or Marxism. Heck the same would be true about cooking as well (what’s the REALZ PIZZA?)

    Right on.

    There were people on Internet fora, on news shows on national television, weighing in on which one is better: Chicago-style or New York-style pizza? There was real passion, if a bit tongue-in-cheek, put into this debate. Magnify that by thousands of years and change the subject matter to something incredibly serious, and welcome to religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Grewgills says:

    @matt bernius:
    Firstly, evangelical should be reserved for people actively trying to spread their religion or philosophy rather than people simply critical of another religion or philosophy.

    Not specifically you, but society as a whole is rather strongly set against the views of atheists. They are less likely to vote for atheists than any religious group, less likely to vote for atheists than any race, less likely to vote for atheists than homosexuals, etc. My wife has to be very careful about who she tells she is an atheist and when it does come out is usually asked inane things like, ‘how can you have any morals without religious faith?” So he does have a point.

    Not to mention *you* deciding which religious faith based systems are “more acceptable.”

    Certainly some faith groups are more tolerant of other faith or non-faith groups.I don’t think anyone really believes that fundamentalists and Unitarians are equally tolerant of difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. Tillman says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    It just strikes me odd that when one of the minority speaks up (that less than 16% number above), suddenly I’m condescending.

    Sorry if I should dare question the structural framework on which many have built their lies lives.

    No, that’s not condescending at all. I mean, I am a Christian, it’s pretty damn obvious all my beliefs are lies out to gull the foolish. You hit the nail right on the head there.

    And just to infuriate you, I shall quote from my Book of Lies at you:

    Matthew 7:4-5 – “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Or “culturally Christian”?

    If so, how do you reconcile that with your political views, which despise/deamonize the poor and strive to increase their suffering?

    Jesus, as we saw above, made his views on the subject crystal clear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  42. Tillman says:

    @Grewgills:

    Firstly, evangelical should be reserved for people actively trying to spread their religion or philosophy rather than people simply critical of another religion or philosophy.

    I use “evangelical” to mean anyone speaking about their faith or beliefs in a way meant to impress or persuade. Criticizing another faith is part and parcel to persuading others to the rightness of your views. Hell, it might even be the foundation. Especially for the Open Atheist in America, who as you said has to contend with a cultural majority.

    Also, I think the usage of “evangelical” in this context is centered more around the condescension for others’ beliefs. Evangelical Christians think anyone who isn’t one of them is going to hell, which is pretty damn condescending if you ask me. There’s a taint of the superior speaking to the inferior in “evangelical” used this way. Liberal Capitalist is right that just expressing your atheism can make you seem evangelical in some contexts, but the way he’s doing it in this thread is condescending. Then again, this is just semantics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. anjin-san says:

    A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. “Christian” derives from the Koine Greek word Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach.

    The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos), meaning “follower of Christ”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. mattbernius says:

    @Grewgills:

    Firstly, evangelical should be reserved for people actively trying to spread their religion or philosophy rather than people simply critical of another religion or philosophy.

    Aggressive expression of atheistic belief — i.e. that what another believes is mindless superstition — is indistinguishable from an active attempt to spread a philosophy. I’m sorry, but there’s no way around that. Especially when it’s laden with an inherent value judgement (see above).

    I have no doubt that, currently, atheists have barriers. American politics without a doubt is one area. In other spheres, I’d argue that they have made rapid bounds in the last century. From my experiences in both academics and the high tech sector, it seems to me that atheism tends to be the norm.

    That isn’t to argue that there is bias against people of faith in those locations. Or that there isn’t Christian privilege in this country.

    Certainly some faith groups are more tolerant of other faith or non-faith groups.I don’t think anyone really believes that fundamentalists and Unitarians are equally tolerant of difference.

    No doubt. However, anyone who knows the history of Buddhism for example (one of the religions that Liberal Capitalist was giving a pass as “better”) knows that it’s not necessarily been tolerant of other religions. Or rather, Buddism spread through it’s ability to conquer and absorb other village religions.

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  45. mattbernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Since the majority of Americans (If we accept this report, which for argument’s sake, I will) are Christian, the majority of the people you meet using [judeo-christian] also being at least culturally Christian seems a low hurdle.

    The point is that saying “judeo-christian”, instead of simply “christian”, tends to lop *Jews* and *Christians* into the same cultural group. The fact that Christians tend to do this, and Jews, in my experience, don’t might suggest something.

    Also, you have managed to miss the broader points, thoughtfully articulated by a bunch of folks on this thread, with loping all Christians in to a single body or suggesting that they have the same “ethos.”

    And perhaps you’d be willing to define exactly what you mean by “Judeo-Christian Ethos.” It’s a great academicy sounding phrase, but it doesn’t really convey much meaning beyond a grounding in Abrahamic Law
    .

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  46. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    Aggressive expression of atheistic belief — i.e. that what another believes is mindless superstition — is indistinguishable from an active attempt to spread a philosophy. I’m sorry, but there’s no way around that. Especially when it’s laden with an inherent value judgement (see above).

    To make sure that I’m consistent, the same would be true of any religious expression that fundamentally attacks/critiques the root of another’s faith.

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  47. Tillman says:

    @anjin-san:

    I keep wondering why millions of people who have rejected the teaching of Jesus continue to be regarded as Christians.

    “Christ died for our sins. Dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them?” – Jules Feiffer

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  48. john personna says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I heard a (reform) rabbi speak recently on “why be jewish.” It was a bit of surprise for someone raised in a danish lutheran (yet another flavor) tradition. It was _all_ about identity, social service, and making the world a better place.

    Making (or keeping) oneself right with god, the central christian theme, was completely absent.

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  49. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    I don’t agree with LC’s whole position but I understand his(?) need to fully state his dissent, in order to explain how it plays out in broad US culture.

    Leaving aside genuine militant atheists, can a mild atheist even express a personal belief that religion is superstition?

    Or are you suggesting essentially that honesty is extremism?

    That might prove his point.

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  50. wr says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA: “Also, lumping all “christians” into a single pile never works, as it only annoys the fundamentalists.”

    Sounds like a reason to do it!

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  51. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Tillman:

    Nice!

    Is this where I put forth all the wonderful contradictions in that how to book?

    http://infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    You may notice that the log is not in my eye.

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  52. mattbernius says:

    @john personna
    I have no issue with anyone stating a personal doctrine of faith – which includes faith in the belief that there are no higher powers.

    But go back to LC’s original statement:

    I listen to these people who would say that they are not in any way superstitious, but then beg an imaginary character to give them a reward.

    Oh well. Mass Hysteria is a thing, right?

    Using terms like “superstition”, “imaginary character”, and “mass hysteria” move beyond the statement of personal doctrine and into an attack on another belief set (i.e. extending one’s belief past their own nose to quote his later post). Let alone getting into the entire “reward thing.”

    It’s setting up a strawman. If Eric was writing the same thing but directing it at Liberals, everyone would call foul.

    The fact the entire thing was also delivered in an “unholier-than-thou” tone move is towards a confrontational sort of evangelism of a rabid born-again guy accosting one in the street and asking “Are you saved.”

    To be clear, dissent is welcome. I had no issue with the post until it turned from discussing dissent (again, I agree about Christian Privilege) into an attack on people who practice a religion.

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  53. Kari Q says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    @Tillman:

    Boys, boys, let’s settle this. You’re both intolerant and judgmental, or at least consider yourselves members of groups that are known to be so.

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  54. Kari Q says:

    @mattbernius:

    I have no issue with anyone stating a personal doctrine of faith – which includes faith in the belief that there are no higher powers.

    Now I must object to this. I am not an atheist but to say that atheists have “faith” that there is no higher power is completely inappropriate. Atheism is not founded on faith as religions are. I don’t consider that a selling point of atheism, nor that faith is a strength for religious belief, but they are categorically not the same thing.

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  55. mattbernius says:

    @Kari Q wins the thread!

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  56. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Kari Q:

    On the other hand, Taoism doesn’t believe in duality, so they may reject your idea of dichotomy.

    That’s why I said they get a pass. Taoist realize that life is not the challenge… they themselves and their perception are.

    @ Matt

    Not to mention *you* deciding which religious faith based systems are “more acceptable.”

    I didn’t say any religion was more acceptable than others. Not at all. I said Taoist and some Buddists get a pass… but they are more a philosophy than a religion.

    Taoists do not seek a reward in some future life, nor do they fear a god and seek favor by acts fulfilling requirements.

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  57. Grewgills says:

    @mattbernius:
    Re: Buddhism
    Certainly the Buddhism that people in America think they know is a rather different animal than historical Buddhism. Asoka and others spread their faith by the sword. The version most Americans are familiar with is as much new age invention as actual Buddhist philosophy.
    Buddhism, like Christianity, is considerably more tolerant and easy to live along side when you stick to red letter.

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  58. mattbernius says:

    @Kari Q:
    I intended to use faith as an academic/sociological/religious studies term here. And as an inescapable part of the human condition.

    Belief, admittedly, might have been a more accurate term.

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  59. Grewgills says:

    @mattbernius:

    Aggressive expression of atheistic belief — i.e. that what another believes is mindless superstition — is indistinguishable from an active attempt to spread a philosophy.

    I can see that they share some characters, annoying condescension for one, but I still think they are different in kind. Most people today, including the religious, think that believing in superstitions like worrying about crossing a black cat’s path or worrying about the 13th floor of a building are mindless superstition; that doesn’t make the people expressing that belief evangelical.

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  60. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @mattbernius:

    No doubt. However, anyone who knows the history of Buddhism for example (one of the religions that Liberal Capitalist was giving a pass as “better”) knows that it’s not necessarily been tolerant of other religions. Or rather, Buddism spread through it’s ability to conquer and absorb other village religions.

    As does Christianity. Christianity was not the first monotheism, and it’s Holy Days are mostly adopted from pagans.

    All successful religions tend to do this.

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  61. Grewgills says:

    @mattbernius:

    which includes faith in the belief that there are no higher powers

    For most atheists I am aware of and all of the big atheist evangelicals (Dawkins et al) that is not an appropriate formulation. They do not have faith in the belief that there are no higher powers. The only thing you could really accuse them of faith in, so far as their written word and public appearances go, is faith that shared perceptions and reason (particularly the scientific method) are the best tools we have to get towards a better understanding the universe we (believe) we live in. In the absence of evidence for the existence of supernatural entities they believe the most logical position is that they in all likelihood do not exist. We pretty much all feel that way about the previous religions that we now call myth (Odin, Zeus, etc). That may not seem like an important distinction to the religious, but it is fundamental to atheism. Simply labeling lack of belief a belief does not make it so.

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  62. mattbernius says:

    @Grewgills:

    Most people today, including the religious, think that believing in superstitions like worrying about crossing a black cat’s path or worrying about the 13th floor of a building are mindless superstition; that doesn’t make the people expressing that belief evangelical.

    But this gets back to the substance of the comment — which was stating that religious belief is the same as superstitious belief. The entire point was to attack perceived hypocrisy.

    Without going down the rat hole of religion versus superstition, the entire comment still was a good example of a Sam Harris/Richard Dawkins evangelical Atheism approach (which usual starts with “look at how crazy/hipocritical what you are thinking/doing is” and goes on from there).

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    As does Christianity. Christianity was not the first monotheism, and it’s Holy Days are mostly adopted from pagans.

    I didn’t say it was. Though Pagans were historically not monotheistic. You are correct about the holy days (not to mention other traditions). However, Buddhism was somewhat unique in that in its spread, Buddhism didn’t necessarily suppress other beliefs. It just installed the Buddha above the local god(s). In that respect it spread in a very different way.

    However in recent years, there have also been some pretty bloody conflicts against groups that Buddhists did not absorb. And in some cases these have been primarily led by Buddhist monks again religious minorities.

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  63. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    If you are a formal muslim it necessarily follows that non-muslim are infidels. If you are a formal christian it necessarily follows that non-christians are unsaved. If you are a formal atheist it necessarily follows that faithful are blinded by superstition.

    I think any strong belief, merely stated, is going to offend any other strong belief.

    You have to be somewhat near the agnostic boundary to make no such claims.

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  64. mattbernius says:

    @Grewgills:
    I appreciate your point — and I admit that my formulation was lacking in subtlety — but I’d argue that at the core of most religions is a similar statement of faith that then leads to a logical conclusions within that system of faith. Just look at the scads of work done to attempt to make a logical argument for faith.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t significant things grounding atheists beliefs. But if you do any reading of religious texts (i.e. Luther’s Catechisms for example) you’ll see similar work. Not the same mind you, but similar.

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  65. anjin-san says:

    Just found a religious pamphlet tucked under the doormat. It has a drawing of Jesus. In the drawing, he looks like a handsome, 35 year old white American man you might see at an upscale mall (minus the robes, of course) Perfect, well styled hair, a neatly trimmed beard, perfect teeth, perfect skin. A bit like Glen Campbell in his prime.

    Not really relevant to this discussion, but it’s interesting that he is represented more as an idealized American male, looking probably nothing at all like the historic Jesus actually looked.

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  66. mattbernius says:

    @john personna:
    I would humbly suggest that withing any group there is a continuum that runs from “Conservative/Reactionary” to “Progressive.”

    If by “formal” you mean “conservative”, I agree. However, I tend to think most people project the reactionary category onto most other groups (and it seems to me that this discussion thread is bearing this out).

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  67. mattbernius says:

    @anjin-san:

    Not really relevant to this discussion, but it’s interesting that he is represented more as an idealized American male, looking probably nothing at all like the historic Jesus actually looked.

    The socio/cultural semiotics of representations of christ is a really fascinating subject.

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  68. DrDaveT says:

    @Kari Q:

    Atheism is not founded on faith as religions are.

    Huh? Of course it is. Its basic tenets — e.g. that the physical is all there is — are not subject to empirical verification or falsification. There is no conceivable experiment whose outcome is inconsistent with the axioms of atheism. That puts it in exactly the same epistemological boat as Christianity, Hinduism, Shintoism, Vodun, radical solipsism, or any other religion you care to name.

    That’s not to say that Occam’s Razor doesn’t favor atheism. But one should never mistake that for any kind of empirical basis for atheism.

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  69. mattbernius says:

    @DrDaveT:

    That’s not to say that Occam’s Razor doesn’t favor atheism. But one should never mistake that for any kind of empirical basis for atheism.

    This.

    Readings on the philosophy of science helps better articulate this point.

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  70. Kari Q says:

    @mattbernius:

    Fair enough.

    @DrDaveT:

    Atheism is refusing to believe in the existence of God because it cannot be proven. It does not take faith to believe that there is no objective proof of the existence of God; many Christians accept this. Believing in that which cannot be proven is faith. Not believing in that which is not proven is not faith. Hence my objection to saying atheism is a faith.

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  71. mattbernius says:

    @Kari Q:

    Believing in that which cannot be proven is faith. Not believing in that which is not proven is not faith.

    @DrDaveT’s point is that underlying that “not belief” is faith within a specific framework for “knowing things.” To your point, most people of faith also believe in that same underling cosmology. But the point is that is still a belief.

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  72. DrDaveT says:

    @Kari Q:

    Atheism is refusing to believe in the existence of God because it cannot be proven.

    No, that’s agnosticism. Its credo is “I don’t know.” I have a tremendous respect for agnostics, given the usual social pressures to assert a belief in some particular thing.

    Atheism is the assertion of the nonexistence of any God or gods. It’s a statement of certainty. It’s a perfectly consistent and understandable position — but as with religious beliefs, it is also a case of “believing in that which is not proven”, as you put it. Or, in this case, disbelieving in that which is not disproven.

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  73. Kari Q says:

    @mattbernius:

    I actually did get his point and am probably expressing myself poorly. I don’t object to what either of you have said, which seems entirely fair. I was reacting on a more visceral level to the typical construction I see from some Christians on the topic, which was clearly not what either of you have in mind.

    My main point, though, is that the atheists I know do not believe in God because there is no reason to. That is not a faith, except to the extent that not believing in unicorns is a faith.

    I make no claim to atheism being rational or superior, nor to faith being rational or superior. I see the charms of both, and think both are probably necessary and the tension between them irresolvable.

    (Does my philosophic Taoism show?)

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  74. Kari Q says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Ah, but you are defining atheism as excluding agnosticism. Atheism can be the belief that there is no higher power. It can also be the absence of belief that there is a higher power. The first may not include agnostics, but the second does.

    Besides which, you would require an atheist to prove a negative under that construction, which doesn’t seem quite cricket to me.

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  75. Grewgills says:

    @DrDaveT:
    That is not atheism according to most atheists. Neither Dawkins, nor Harris, nor any of the other evangelical atheists I am aware of say that there definitively is not a supernatural. What they say is that there is no evidence for the supernatural and in the absence of evidence it doesn’t make sense to believe in the supernatural and less sense to believe in any one of the particular choices of supernatural. You will not find them saying with 100% certainty that there is no supernatural.
    Christians will positively assert that there is no Zeus or Odin. Atheists will simply put Christians and other religious in the same boat as worshipers of Zeus or Odin and say there is no evidence for their existence and so it doesn’t make sense to believe in them.
    Again, if atheists have faith in anything it is that shared sensory experience and logic are our best tools for understanding the universe we live in. Our current state of science and technology seems to support that faith.

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  76. DrDaveT says:

    @Kari Q: Not to belabor the point (especially given your very polite and reasonable response to @mattbernius above), but the meaning of some words isn’t that flexible. ‘Atheism’ means just what its Greek roots suggest — it is the belief that there are no gods. All of the dictionaries I have to hand, from the OED to the oh-so-descriptivist Merriam-Webster agree on this. (M-W goes so far as to define it as “the doctrine that there is no deity”, which I find amusing given our prior discussion.) I say this partly so that you can put my earlier comments in context, and partly so that you will understand why people might react unexpectedly if you continue to use the word as if it included agnosticism as a subset.

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  77. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    I chose a word that didn’t map to politics for a reason. With “formal” I was going for someone who accepts the (formal) doctrine.

    This is quite independent of how public or private someone is about that doctrine.

    “Evangelical atheists” was a fine construction for very public proponents, but someone might explain their beliefs without being a proponent

    I took LC’s main point to be that merely stating atheist belief was to invite conflict in a majority christian culture.

    For sure, we know an atheist might run for president in many countries, but not in the US. A mormon was a stretch.

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  78. DrDaveT says:

    @Grewgills:

    Neither Dawkins, nor Harris, nor any of the other evangelical atheists I am aware of say that there definitively is not a supernatural.

    Dawkins is an interesting case; he goes back and forth. There was his famous comment to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he considers himself agnostic, and is “6.9 out of 7″ certain that there is no god. Then again, he also said:

    It is often said [...] that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal’s wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies.

    That seems pretty dismissive of agnosticism, wouldn’t you say?

    At any rate, it’s not really about Dawkins or anyone else, it’s about what the words mean. ‘Atheism’ has always meant (since it entered English in the 17th century) a denial of the existence of any deity. Even Dawkins recognizes that distinction, between atheism and agnosticism — regardless of which side of the line he finds himself on at the moment.

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  79. Grewgills says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Atheism, at least in its current usage by most atheists including all of the big names, is not a positive belief that there is no supernatural, but a lack of belief in the supernatural.
    The OED actually differentiates strong and weak atheism. Strong atheism is a positive assertion that there is no supernatural, whereas weak atheism is simply a lack of belief in the supernatural. All of the big atheist evangelicals are weak atheists in this formulation. Many theists tend to lump weak atheists, strong atheists, and anti-theists into one group.

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  80. Kari Q says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Perhaps the definition of some words isn’t flexible, but atheism isn’t among them:

    For example
    1.the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2.disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    You are insisting on only definiton 1 and ignoring definition 2.

    or (inconveniently reversed) Merriam Webster
    a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
    b : the doctrine that there is no deity

    Both definitions are valid.

    or perhaps I should just say @Grewgills:

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  81. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san:

    Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Or “culturally Christian”?

    Both.

    If so, how do you reconcile that with your political views, which despise/deamonize the poor and strive to increase their suffering?

    In the words of Charles Barclay, “…poor folks have been voting Democrat for generations. THey’re still poor.”

    Jesus, as we saw above, made his views on the subject crystal clear.

    That he did.

    “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God, that which is God’s.”
    Charity was not seen as a function of government, but of individuals helping individuals. Not government imposing a solution. Real charity is a personal involvement.

    And as an bonus, I hold with James Madison, (By any measure, a Christian) who said...” Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.””

    Anything else I can help you with?

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  82. Kari Q says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I will further say that I think we’re quibbling about a pretty minor point, here. I know that in general usage, people assume that atheist means “one who denies the existence of god or gods” and would be surprised to be told that someone meant it to mean “one who does not believe in god(s)” but does not insist that there is no God. However, it seemed that we had strayed from the general usage so I felt free to make my quibbles.

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  83. DrDaveT says:

    @Kari Q:

    a disbelief in the existence of deity

    I’m missing your point here. I saw those definitions, and as far as I can tell they match what I said.

    If you disbelieve something, that doesn’t merely mean that you do not claim to believe it and are leaving open the possibility that it’s true. It means that you actively reject the claim that it’s true. If I say I disbelieve in the existence of the Tooth Fairy, I’m not just saying I’m not positive that there is a Tooth Fairy.

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  84. john personna says:

    @Eric Florack:

    That goes very much back to the PDF I reference above. You center on pure definitions of what government and charity should do. A pragmatist must back the liberals, who will go beyond that, to something that actually works.

    For instance, with purely private medicine people died who could not afford treatment. Charity was not universally available and ready.

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  85. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    poor folks have been voting Democrat for generations. THey’re still poor.

    Not sure what you point is. Jesus himself told us the poor would always be with us. As a Christian, you should know and accept this. Instead you look to blame Democrats for a component of the human condition that has existed forever.

    Have you ever traveled in the third world? If you had, you would know there is poor, and then there is poor, the kind that is brutal, every day killer. As a Democrat, I don’t think we will end poverty. What we can do is mitigate it. We can say “We don’t want Americans to live in dire poverty. In the greatest country in the world, we can do better”

    “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God, that which is God’s.”
    Charity was not seen as a function of government, but of individuals helping individuals. Not government imposing a solution.

    Really? Ancient Rome had a dole. It certainly existed in the time of Jesus and that of Julius Caesar (who applied means testing to it)

    Really dude, you should read some history books beyond what can be found in Rush’s Book Club. Flaunting your ignorance publicly like this is kind of sad.

    I hold with James Madison

    Really? Since we are talking about the founding fathers now, have you figure out who wrote the Constitution yet?

    Anything else I can help you with?

    Sure. You claim to be a Christian. You also say charity is a “personal involvement”. Can you tell us some of the things you have done to help poor folks in the last week or two?

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  86. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Since you are conceded about poverty, I remind you that before Medicare, roughly a third of our senior citizens lived in poverty. Now it’s about 14%. So well we have not been able to end poverty with government programs, we have been able to put significant dents in it.

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  87. Eric Florack says:

    @john personna:
    A little more than I have time to respond to, or the fingers for given I’m hitting this from the cell phone. So, I apologize in advance.

    Really? Ancient Rome had a dole. It certainly existed in the time of Jesus and that of Julius Caesar (who applied means testing to it)

    Howd that work out for them?

    That goes very much back to the PDF I reference above. You center on pure definitions of what government and charity should do. A pragmatist must back the liberals, who will go beyond that, to something that actually works.

    Obamacare, as an example?

    Hmmm.
    Sorry. Actually, that comes off a bit more snippy than I intend, but it does raise questions about the logical ends of pragmatism, and governmental involvement where charity is concerned. You worry, in your pragmatism about people not being able to afford healthcare. The concern does you credit. But let’s consider the facts most liberals skip.

    From 1900 or so till today, we had what was unquestionably the world leadership in the healthcare field. The world beat a path to our door for our expertise and our charity in the feild of healthcare. When, then, did affordability start becoming a greater issue?

    In 1965, incidental to LBJ’s “Great Society” and Medicare, which distorted the medical marketplace to the point where nobody can afford healthcare. And spare me the obligitory bleating about who the technology has changed.A valid comparison would be that computer technology has changed since 1965 as well. If government were distorting the marketplace in computers as they have been in the medical field, we’d all be paying $200-$300 for a computer to have this conversation, it would have the power of the XT and take p an entire room.

    (For some added detail you may find of interest, I commend this to your reading… )http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2012/03/01/why-are-u-s-health-care-costs-so-high/

    @anjin-san: And put ourselves 17 trillion in the hole, doing it. That seems a short term solution at best, and will ultimatly put us ALL in the poorhouse. Which I suppose wouldn’t bother you a bit.

    Can you tell us some of the things you have done to help poor folks in the last week or two?

    Heh….You mean besides the charity food runs I’ve been doing, bringing food to the needy by the truckload to NYC lately?

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  88. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san:

    As a Christian, you should know and accept this. Instead you look to blame Democrats for a component of the human condition that has existed forever.

    Actually, no.
    I blame them for making the problem worse for their own gain.

    I’ve said for decades now that the worst thing you can do to a democrat is provide him with an actual solution to an issue… because in the doing, you stop him from demagoging the issue for his own gain.

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  89. Dave Schuler says:

    @stonetools:

    My choice for most religiously diverse country: India.

    ?

    India is Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1%. That’s quite similar to the U. S. in terms of diversity, a little less diverse if anything.

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  90. anjin-san says:

    And put ourselves 17 trillion in the hole, doing it

    Ah, so things like the half trillion we have spent (so far) for the Joint Strike Fighter, and the multi-trillion dollar Iraq disaster have nothing to do with the deficit? The Reagan tax cuts + defense buildup? Personally, I would rather spend the money helping fellow Americans than making defense contractors richer and killing people who do not threaten us.

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  91. anjin-san says:

    Howd that work out for them?

    Well, they had the most advanced, powerful, influential, and richest society in the world. And the poor people did not rip the rich people to shreds. So the answer is, it worked out OK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  92. anjin-san says:

    bringing food to the needy by the truckload to NYC lately?

    Good for you. Provide more details, I am sure some of us will send checks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  93. anjin-san says:

    If government were distorting the marketplace in computers as they have been in the medical field, we’d all be paying $200-$300 for a computer to have this conversation, it would have the power of the XT and take p an entire roo

    Made up facts. Cool!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  94. john personna says:

    @Eric Florack:

    To back up, it is wrong-footed to say there has been no progress when “poor” doesn’t mean what it used to in the US.

    I watched a black and white movie a little while back, just set in the 40’s. The poor (white) part of town was a genuine slum, with no running water, and no indoor toilets. That was poor. To say that the liberals left that alone while enriching themselves is preposterous.

    More generally, the whole world is very much better off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  95. anjin-san says:

    put us ALL in the poorhouse. Which I suppose wouldn’t bother you a bit.

    What do you base that on? I live a very comfortable lifestyle in one of the most desirable places in the world. I like money, and am pretty attached to my comforts comforts. (You would shit if you heard my stereo)

    You keep trying to make me out as some sort of socialist/communist, which is pretty funny – looking at my calendar, I see I have meetings with two CEOs tomorrow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  96. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: history tells us clearly Rome was (heres that word again) Unsustainable.

    @john personna: To a large degree, this is a point Walter Williams makes… Poverty aint what it used to be. But that by no means is of itself indicative that governmental largess is responsible for that improvement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  97. Tillman says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    You may notice that the log is not in my eye.

    You obviously missed the point.

    Excellent work in pointing out what is essentially an anthology of works written by scholars justifying oral traditions handed down by nomads might have contradictions in the various narratives it presents. The word “Christian” does not equal “believes the Bible was literally written by God.”

    You don’t think describing the whole of my beliefs as just lies is in any way condescending? How do you define condescension?

    @Kari Q: Oh please, all of humanity is intolerant and judgmental. You should’ve gone with “part of groups known to contain copious amounts of narcissistic assholes.” That’s closer to the mark for Christians and atheists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  98. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    I took LC’s main point to be that merely stating atheist belief was to invite conflict in a majority christian culture.

    And as I said, it depends in what context the atheist states his disbelief. Yes, it does sometimes invite conflict with diehards, but most people I’ve met would just shrug, maybe ask a few questions, and then move on.

    Also, I would discern between “stating disbelief” and “stating that the religion you follow is mostly lies.” Those are not equivalent, and one is bound to be taken more as a confrontation than an innocuous self-description. The problem I have is that some atheists (not a majority, but a vocal minority) conflate the two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  99. Tillman says:

    @DrDaveT: It might be better put that most atheists (none in the vocal minority I mentioned earlier) are technically apatheist: if there are gods or not, they don’t care as it doesn’t affect their lives. You couldn’t say an apatheist has an active disbelief since the apatheist doesn’t have an active belief at all. There’s no utility in it either way since there’s no evidence either way, and he goes on doing whatever the hell he’s doing.

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  100. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    history tells us clearly Rome was (heres that word again) Unsustainable.

    Earlier in this their you showed that you were not aware that government charity was widespread in the most important society in the world in Jesus’ time (Rome). Suddenly you are an expert?

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  101. wr says:

    @mattbernius: If that was an “attack” that upset you so much you needed to respond multiple times in this more-in-sorrow-than-anger tone, I really urge you to toughen up a bit before you have to defend your doctoral dissertation.

    It’s like JP and his constant tizzies over someone downvoting him — how do you all find the time to get so upset over something so completely inconsequential?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  102. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “history tells us clearly Rome was (heres that word again) Unsustainable.”

    Absolutely — to the extent that history tells us that ALL civilizations are, if you give them enough time, unsustainable. But the Roman Republic lasted 500 years and the Roman Empire another 500. So I really think blaming their decline and fall on helping the poor is a pretty poor argument. Or as we call it around here, a “Bithead.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  103. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “But that by no means is of itself indicative that governmental largess is responsible for that improvement.”

    Right. All those electric wires sprouted magically and grew across the South on their own volition. There was never such a thing as the Rural Electrification Project.

    Or maybe little churches each put in a nickel or two and bought three inches of power lines.

    Or maybe you’d like to argue that having electricity in the south did nothing to alleviate poverty there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  104. john personna says:

    @wr:

    It is down voting facts that gets me.

    See the lead essay today at vox (link), about how and why politics makes us stupid.

    The ONLY defense against that is to respect the data.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  105. wr says:

    @Tillman: ” The problem I have is that some atheists (not a majority, but a vocal minority) conflate the two.”

    And some believers (not a majority, but a vocal minority) believe that those who don’t follow their religions should be put to death.

    So what?

    Why do Christians have to whine so much when someone disrespects their religion? You’ve got the majority on your side; you’ve got the government on your side; basically you own the culture. But let one comedian make a joke about the silliness of religion, or one blog commenter say something without the appropriate reverence, and it’s like you took the cookies away from an entire nursery school.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  106. wr says:

    @john personna: You are such an intelligent person, and yet you are completely unable to see that if you fly into a tizzy whenever anyone downvotes you, they are always going to downvote you just to see you fly into a tizzy.

    It’s like little kids in black and white movies knocking top hats off rich guys with snowballs.

    You want to lessen the number of downvotes? Stop acting like it’s a big deal every time you get downvoted. Because it’s a lot of reaction for very little action — what troll will resist that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  107. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

    No doubt after I made him aware that the greatest civilization of Jesus’ time practiced government charity on a large scale, bighead went to the Googles and found something from the Cato Institute telling him that welfare cased the Roman Empire to fall.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  108. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: If you actually had the situation accurately, you’d have a point. But since you skip several pertanant facts…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  109. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: I showed nothing of the sort.
    But since you insist, where specifically did I do that? And, yes, you’re being called out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  110. Eric Florack says:

    @wr: So, you’re suggesting government was the only tool that would or could ever have gotten power into those places? (Chuckle) Sure.,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  111. Matt Bernius says:

    @wr:

    It’s like JP and his constant tizzies over someone downvoting him — how do you all find the time to get so upset over something so completely inconsequential?

    Gosh, and here I was thinking that this was a discussion thread. ;-)

    Do I occasionally respond too much? Sure. Admittedly, that usually corresponds to when I’m avoiding some other form of work.

    And, if the tone of my responses was “sorrowful,” that wasn’t intended. I had been aiming for thoughful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  112. john personna says:

    @wr:

    Doesn’t my link, with actual peer reviewed studies, show this is bigger than just a few prodding down votes on my … er, links to studies?

    There’s a simple theory underlying much of American politics. It sits hopefully at the base of almost every speech, every op-ed, every article, and every panel discussion. It courses through the Constitution and is a constant in President Obama’s most stirring addresses. It’s what we might call the More Information Hypothesis: the belief that many of our most bitter political battles are mere misunderstandings. The cause of these misunderstandings? Too little information — be it about climate change, or taxes, or Iraq, or the budget deficit. If only the citizenry were more informed, the thinking goes, then there wouldn’t be all this fighting.

    It’s a seductive model. It suggests our fellow countrymen aren’t wrong so much as they’re misguided, or ignorant, or — most appealingly — misled by scoundrels from the other party. It holds that our debates are tractable and that the answers to our toughest problems aren’t very controversial at all. The theory is particularly prevalent in Washington, where partisans devote enormous amounts of energy to persuading each other that there’s really a right answer to the difficult questions in American politics — and that they have it.

    But the More Information Hypothesis isn’t just wrong. It’s backwards. Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become.

    If that’s true, it is a big human problem.

    And an explanation for recurring “discussions” at places like OTB which show such slow movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  113. john personna says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Name one nation in the world that fully electrified without government involvement?

    We are back to ideology versus pragmatism: in theory private enterprise might electrify a nation, in practice public-private partnerships do(*)

    * – and commies

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  114. Tillman says:

    @wr: Was I whining?

    No, seriously, did I come off that way? I know plenty others do with protests over a “War on Christmas” (idiotic) or “Those darn atheists reserved our Nativity spot before we did, damn their eyes” (vainglorious) or ” We just want to build a monument to the Ten Commandments in front of our courthouse.” (foolish)

    I thought I was just responding to a dude who stated my belief system was a form of mass hysteria. I figure, if you described a set of political beliefs that way around here, no way would responding to it be considered “whining.” Eh, but what do I know?

    And some believers (not a majority, but a vocal minority) believe that those who don’t follow their religions should be put to death.

    So what?

    In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the vocal minority that tends to become the representatives of the group as a whole in the minds of others. Many of my friends thought I was an atheist because I never spoke up about being a Christian. They just presumed that since I was a reasonably intelligent guy that I didn’t buy into all the hogwash. Then they started presuming I was a Biblical literalist who thought evolution was a hoax, that Noah saved a bunch of animals on a giant wooden ship from an overblown natural disaster, and that I was cool with David bringing back a sack of two hundred Philistine foreskins. I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend my beliefs against the stained perception put forth by a vocal minority of idiots.

    I don’t think vocal minorities should dictate what the culture thinks of anything. That seems unfair to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  115. Tillman says:

    @wr:

    But let one comedian make a joke about the silliness of religion

    Also, I love Louis C.K. and thought his SNL monologue was hilarious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  116. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become.

    So all that’s necessary for agreement is for people to remain ignorant?

    Who knew it would be so easy? Ignorance = Bliss!

    Of course, I’m joking. The problem isn’t too much information, it’s that people filter the information they get in whatever ways reinforce their self-selected political identities. Cognitive dissonance is a painful thing, and motivated reasoning a wonderful analgesic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  117. Matt Bernius says:

    @Grewgills:

    Many theists tend to lump weak atheists, strong atheists, and anti-theists into one group.

    This is the most important lesson of this thread: that members of a given group are often more likely to be *very* aware and careful to represent the many divisions/shades of gray within their own group, and often less careful in representing the shades of gray and divisions in other groups.

    In part that’s human nature. But it tends to lead to expecting others to handle your interests with care, while at the same time, not realizing when you are extending that courtesy to other groups.

    BTW, @JP, the entire Strong/Weak formulation was what I was reaching for when you brought up term “Formal” earlier.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  118. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    I think the useful thing to learn, is to spot when we’re in “one of those discussions,” and to call out when reason is not making headway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  119. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    I think the useful thing to learn, is to spot when we’re in “one of those discussions,”

    There are times I despair that the answer to “are we in one of those discussions” should default to “Yes…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  120. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: I’m sure Martians could have come down and electrified the South. But they didn’t. Neither did libertarians. Neither did the glorious free market. Neither did churches. It was only the government that did.

    And for you to say “well, it’s possible that some other entity might have even though there was no one around then who would” just proves that you have no interest in reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  121. wr says:

    @john personna: I just don’t see a connection between these societal problems and someone having fun by poking you with the downvote stick. Most people don’t take the upvote/downvote seriously and you do, which makes tweaking you tremendously easy at zero cost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  122. john personna says:

    @wr:

    You are kidding, right? Even if someone is only poking a stick by down voting fact (as opposed to a YMMV opinion) that is certainly on the opposite side of the spectrum from acknowledging fact, and offering different opinion.

    Even worse, such down votes do follow tribal lines. Pinky can make a not so bad point and be down by 10, because he’s Pinky.

    As opposed to “that wasn’t such a bad point, but …”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  123. john personna says:

    I think that I racked up a lot of tribal down votes by suggesting that structural unemployment was a thing (something strongly supported by data and reason), without even claiming that it was the only source of unemployment.

    Why? It has been an important (sub)tribal belief that there is no structural unemployment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  124. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    You are kidding, right? Even if someone is only poking a stick by down voting fact (as opposed to a YMMV opinion) that is certainly on the opposite side of the spectrum from acknowledging fact, and offering different opinion.

    But they’re just poking a stick, john. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Yes, Pinky is the victim of tribal downvotes, but you really are the victim of stick-poking. Consider that there might be a tribe devoted solely to aggravating you with the least effort possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  125. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

    I’m sure Martians could have come down and electrified the South

    Everyone knows it was Hank Rearden…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  126. john personna says:

    @this:

    A perfect example, either way.

    To defend the down vote is to defend one form of irrational behavior or another.

    “Relax john, our goal at OTB is not rational.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  127. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Pinky can make a not so bad point and be down by 10, because he’s Pinky.

    I’m sure some people reflexively down vote Pinky, because of his perceived overall stance rather than what he is specifically saying at the moment. As others have pointed out, with your posts people aren’t down voting facts, they are downvoting you to get under your skin. Stop reacting and it will stop happening so damn much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  128. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    To defend the down vote is to defend one form of irrational behavior or another.

    Dude, I’ve downvoted you for perfectly good reasons. I’ve also downvoted you just to provoke one of these little tirades about how the OTB voters are irrational because they downvote your screeds on reason and data.

    They downvote you because it annoys you, not because they’re being irrational. They’re being perfectly rational in exploiting your (vanity? self-righteousness?) for entertainment. That you fall for it and keep commenting on it just reinforces how rationally they’re acting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  129. grumpy realist says:

    @Eric Florack: “Jewish identity” is a weird beast, since it’s a mixture of religion and culture (mainly due to historical shunning.)

    One of the major problems Reform Jews have is the high percentage of intermarriage and a high percentage of their kids deciding that they’re not “practicing Jews.” Once you rip Jewish religious belief out of “Jewish identity”, “Jewish culture” dwindles to a bunch of holidays, tacky Hallmark cards, and matzo ball soup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  130. grumpy realist says:

    @Tillman: What about those of us who firmly believe that the gods exist and the last thing a sensible person would want to do is attract their attention?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  131. Tillman says:

    @grumpy realist: Uhh, misotheism? You might have to coin a new -theism for that one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  132. Eric Florack says:

    @grumpy realist: Quite so. And I suggest that happens to any culture once the religious foundation is removed.History is replete with examples.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  133. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    What about those of us who firmly believe that the gods exist and the last thing a sensible person would want to do is attract their attention?

    Then you’re a fan of Charles Stross’s “Laundry” novels.

    But not an atheist. :^)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  134. Grewgills says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Cthulu?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  135. Grewgills says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Once you rip Jewish religious belief out of “Jewish identity”, “Jewish culture” dwindles to a bunch of holidays, tacky Hallmark cards, and matzo ball soup.

    That is not the way any of my Jewish friends see it. Most of them are atheist or agnostic, not kosher, and don’t see the holidays as much more than family gatherings (good and bad), but most have a very strong affinity for the Jewish culture. I haven’t challenged them on what that means, but near half go to temple at least somewhat regularly for the community. Of course YMMV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  136. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Since the majority of Americans (If we accept this report, which for argument’s sake, I will) are Christian, the majority of the people you meet using that phrase also being at least culturally Christian seems a low hurdle.

    I would hazard a guess that a considerable number that self identify as Christian for polling are more culturally Christian than practicing Christians. I would like to see some good polling on how many Christians in the US believe in the version of God promoted in their Church.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  137. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  138. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    If you “down vote for perfectly good reason” but with no answer, is that must because you know you actually have now answering argument.

    That does annoy me, and makes you a coward or an idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  139. john personna says:

    @this:

    I mean, WTF, you actually used these words:

    I’ve also downvoted you just to provoke one of these little tirades about how the OTB voters are irrational because they downvote your screeds on reason and data.

    In other words, “I love irrationality.”

    That is not Overcoming Bias, which should be the goal of every thinking adult.

    It should be a life goal, actually.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  140. john personna says:

    God, could I meta-win this argument in a sadder way?

    My opponent (to 2 up votes) says he isn’t trying to be rational, isn’t trying to understand the data.

    That isn’t even a goal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  141. Tillman says:

    @john personna: I hope you realize how incredibly vain it is to turn someone poking a stick at you to annoy you into “THIS PERSON IS ATTACKING RATIONALITY!”

    Because you are always rational, right john? Spending time to respond to people trolling you for kicks?

    @john personna:

    That isn’t even a goal.

    Brother, it’s a goal they hit over and over and over again. You are the gift that keeps on giving.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  142. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    This is a political discussion forum, right?

    Do you think such a forum should aspire to rational solutions, and overcoming the biases each and every one of us has?

    Make a list. Everyone who does not believe that, sign below, and I’ll just skip their posts from now on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  143. john personna says:

    (You simply can’t have it both ways. You can’t be here for rational discourse AND down vote random people for kicks. In case it isn’t obvious, a down vote to a link to a reputable study is a signal that you are NOT here for rational discourse. You are here to cloud, deflect, confuse.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  144. grumpy realist says:

    @Grewgills: I guess what I’m saying is that the Venn diagram of Jewish religion and Jewish culture overlaps more than “Christian religion” and “Christian culture.” Mainly because there weren’t as many competing influences dragging everything which way. “Christian culture” was originally based off the Bible, but there’s all of the last bits of Rome and the very heavy influence of Roman law, all the holidays which the Christians swiped from everyone else, Arabic influence, the struggle for the balance of power between the Hohenzollerans and the popes, the influence of Germanic and Saxon law, the continued dialog between canon law and Roman law, etc., etc. and so-forth. And we haven’t even started on all the heresies which split off and established themselves as different variants. So we’ve ended up with a nest of different Christian religions and something we now call “Western Culture.”

    If Jewish people are able to find and maintain a non-religious sense of tradition and community without incorporating Jewish religion, the more power to them. I just hesitate as to how long as their children and grand-children will continue to identify as “Jewish.” Ethnic groups seems to manage to avoid assimilation better if they have their own particular religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  145. john personna says:

    @this:

    That’s pretty funny, I have to admit. Some idiot down-votes a call for reason, anonymously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  146. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    This is a political discussion forum, right?

    It’s an Internet forum devoted to political discussion. “Internet forum” takes precedence.* All Internet forums have trolls, and even people who aren’t primarily trolls do engage in trollish behavior from time to time.

    That you can’t understand this, and repeatedly refuse to understand this, makes me doubt how rational you are.

    * And that’s its primary but not only devotion, since we get posts about how cost-effective the Empire constructing Death Stars is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  147. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    So, you are actually arguing with me, defending the irrationality?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  148. john personna says:

    Really some of you should work to spot the higher ground in a discussion a little earlier.

    Think about how much stronger your position would be now, if 50 comments earlier, you had said “I agree, we should be aspiring to rational discourse.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  149. john personna says:

    Step back, and also think who is really inured by down votes on an express call for reason.

    Any “non-member” of the tribe is going to look at this forum and say “what a bunch of nuts!”

    They want to blather on about religious diversity in America, while hating on calls for reason.

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  150. john personna says:

    So, have you got anything at this point?

    Do you have a reason, a rational argument for down voting a call for reason?

    This is high comedy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  151. Tillman says:

    @john personna: I’m ridiculing you for fueling the exact thing you keep decrying. Your behavior is irrational, because you [irrationally] believe downvotes are meaningful in small doses, because you [irrationally] equate your positions with Rationality itself, and because you [irrationally and idiotically] presume that an Internet forum doesn’t have people on it that want to piss you off for entertainment.

    I’m trying to help you! Honestly, your comments are usually thoughtful and insightful. But sometimes you get caught in this mental trap of thinking you’ve overcome all bias and anyone who disagrees with you or, heaven forbid, votes down your post is an Agent of Irrationality out to destroy Civilization!

    @john personna: And now you’re playing Internet Tough Guy? How old are you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  152. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Have you down voted any calls for reason?

    Do you really think anyone makes the world a better place when they do?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  153. john personna says:

    I guess the really odd thing here, which a good observer would note, is that I “escaped to the high ground” in my comments.

    I said “who can down vote reason?” and then people did.

    It is pretty lacking in self-awareness for anyone to think they can get “me” with that, while not rejecting reason itself.

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  154. john personna says:

    With high art and skill, I won by losing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  155. Tillman says:

    …sure.

    You all saw me; I tried.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  156. john personna says:

    Well, what’s your position, folks?

    “We are rational people, but we down voted a call for rationality, because it was from you.”

    That is actually a fail. A big fat fail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  157. john personna says:

    Maybe I should just say thank you.

    If your goal was to leave me walking around the house, laughing, you did it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  158. Mikey says:

    @john personna: Dude, you are taking yourself entirely too seriously..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  159. Tillman says:

    @Mikey: No, let’s just…no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  160. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Actually, I think I separated myself from my position, and then tested to see who else could.

    Sadly, a few people spent most of the morning arguing (and voting) that the “like/dislike” system at OTB was NOT there to encourage rational and fact based discussion.

    They actually fell into the position that was there for their purpose, to annoy and aggravate other commentators.

    I don’t really know how they can dig out now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  161. john personna says:

    I mean, that’s been the theme throughout this.

    For me, it isn’t about me, but for many of you it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  162. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Here’s a key question:

    Who besides me asked that like/dislike be used to improve discourse?

    Think how bad it is for OTB itself that the majority position is that it should not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  163. john personna says:

    lol, the gifts (down votes) keep on coming.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  164. john personna says:

    This is fun.

    I love truth and justice, who’s with me?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  165. john personna says:

    @this:

    Boy, that down vote was like the rat hitting a heroin feed. You just can’t stop, even if it destroys you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  166. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    If it wasn’t about you for both you and them it wouldn’t be continuing. Up/down votes are just about registering agreement or disagreement for virtually all commenters. You have differentiated yourself from the herd by your reaction to them. Now that you have done that, you continue to get the standard “I disagree with you” down votes and get the “I want to poke JP and make him go on another one of his tirades” down votes. Stop reacting to them and the conversation will return to it’s (mostly) rational norm.
    Hell, I’m tempted to down-vote you now for sport.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  167. Mikey says:

    @john personna: I spend a lot of time–probably too much–on Reddit. I have learned that the upvote/downvote system there is so utterly counterproductive to the improvement of discourse that I almost completely ignore it. And there, unlike here at OTB, the upvote/downvote system is fundamentally central to determining what posts and comments get seen (or not).

    Given the like/dislike buttons here do little more than mark something “highly” or “poorly” rated, I don’t expect they contribute much of anything to the discussion and I generally ignore them. Florack’s posts are -27? That tells me nothing I didn’t already know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  168. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    I think you have to admit, that I got them to demonstrate something.

    The voting system is at OTB is badly abused, and I am not the one doing it.

    I mean, are you really saying “stop making sense,” as if that is the way to stop down votes on “I love truth and justice, who’s with me?”

    Maybe, someone should step up with an up vote, to demonstrate that OTB is not totally broken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  169. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    That is a reasonable answer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  170. Mikey says:

    @grewgills:

    Now that you have done that, you continue to get the standard “I disagree with you” down votes and get the “I want to poke JP and make him go on another one of his tirades” down votes. Stop reacting to them and the conversation will return to it’s (mostly) rational norm.

    Years ago, very early in my Air Force career, I worked with a staff sergeant whose mission in life, it seemed, was “Make Airman Mikey flip out.” He could figure out what buttons to push in about five seconds, and once he did, he pushed them mercilessly. Holy crap, I’d be spinning around the room with my hair on fire.

    Then, one day, it dawned on me: Laugh. Just laugh. Learn to quit taking myself so damned seriously and laugh along with the bastard. And I figured out he wasn’t really a bastard–he was actually pretty funny–and it was his way of “loosening up” a young airman who was really wound up too tightly.

    Life has been much easier and lower in stress since then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  171. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Except, again, tie it back to the VOX essay:

    How politics makes us stupid

    Remember, this did start with something not just about me, but something big, something VOX thought should be the headliner of their new education/news site.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  172. john personna says:

    This really is, leaving me aside, why progress is not made.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  173. Eric Florack says:

    @john personna: Not really.
    First, because the US, at least initially was founded on the idea of a minimal government. FDR came along with the TVA and as such the free market was never given much of a chance. Put another way, once the government steps in there is no way to prove the free market would work because youll never ever ever get rid of the government entity. in this case, we notice the TVA still exists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  174. Mikey says:

    @john personna: I think the difference now is people aren’t hitting the downvote to express disagreement with your argument, they’re doing it because when they do you post 15 comments bemoaning the death of rational discourse on OTB.

    “Hey, look, see what I can make JP do? LOLOLOLOL…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  175. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Even if I take that at face value, it sounds like an indictment:

    “people aren’t hitting the downvote to express disagreement with your argument, they’re doing it because when they do you post 15 comments bemoaning the death of rational discourse on OTB.”

    You are suggesting that they too seek rational discourse, and that they demonstrate it by down voting calls for rational discourse.

    Wouldn’t that be a good working definition of irrationality?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  176. Eric Florack says:

    @Mikey: I regard that as so much=h stable carpet, anyway. All it tells us in reality is that the place is dominated by what laughingly passes as liberals, these days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  177. john personna says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, given a choice between rural electrification and pure government, you’d take pure government?

    That was rather my point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  178. Mikey says:

    @john personna: I’m pretty sure when someone is poking you with a stick, they’re not seeking rational discourse. More likely they think the upvote/downvote system here is as irrelevant as I do and are just trying to get a rise out of you. And succeeding.

    This is still the internet, you know–potentially the greatest tool for interconnection, discussion, and knowledge transfer ever created, but actually it’s mostly porn and pictures of cats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  179. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Did you read the Vox essay?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  180. john personna says:

    Here’s what I think:

    Rational thought and discussion require constant self-policing. Sure, we may have impulse to reject data or an argument we don’t like, but giving in is giving up on the whole enterprise.

    We actually have to force ourselves to read carefully and critically, to see if some belief we hold must be overturned.

    When you down vote this comment, in microcosm, you embrace the forces of darkness, the macrocosm of irrational and data-less shouting that makes up the worst of our world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  181. grumpy realist says:

    @Eric Florack: Well, things change. I think the biggest is a standing army. Once you create that, you automatically get higher taxes etc.

    I don’t know why you’re so much against the interstate system and the Rural Electrification project. We’re not living in 1800 any longer with the much smaller population the US used to have. We don’t live off subsidiary farming.

    As soon as you have industry and the need to ship stuff from point A to point B, you gotta have roads. The government stepped in to build the interstates because the states certainly weren’t doing the job.

    The fact that the government ends up taking over in sections is because the Free Market has already shown it does a lousy job of self-regulating in certain areas. The FDA was created out of some great conspiracy. It was created because of all the sleazy useless “medicines” that were being peddled. I’m sure waiting until after your daughter has died from antifreeze in her cough syrup so that now you can sue the manufacture is MUCH more libertarian and satisfying, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  182. Tillman says:

    @john personna: Your exaltation of careful and critical reading is highly amusing. The mental jujitsu you use to convince yourself that the up/down vote system of a political blog in any way acts as an expression of the constant Manichean battle between the Light of Rationality and the Darkness of Irrationality is honestly depressing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  183. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    So what are you suggesting? Are you saying we should all just down vote people we don’t like?

    Or are you ready to say that the like/dislike system should be used to improve discourse?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  184. Tillman says:

    @john personna: I’m saying the like/dislike system is what it is: a poll without a specified question. It isn’t there to improve discourse. The rules for its usage don’t specify that it has the function of promoting rational conversations. And even if they did, there’s no enforcement mechanism. Plenty of people make great points and get downvoted for expressing something someone else doesn’t like (Pinky was brought up earlier).

    I say take it for what it is, and don’t try to read too much into it. Don’t project onto it grand notions of what it should be, either. Otherwise you get people downvoting “I love truth and justice, who’s with me?” just to mess with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  185. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Would you now like to ask OTB to remove it?

    Because, you realize, that is where your argument goes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  186. Tillman says:

    @john personna: If you’re committing slippery slope fallacies, sure that’s where it goes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  187. john personna says:

    Seriously, when you tilt 3:0 or 4:0 in favor of “poking” and against “reason,” there is no reason to keep it, is there?

    It only serves (as some of you say) a distraction.

    Of course, I think it is more than that, it is an irrationality tally. It demonstrates the Vox argument in the microcosm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  188. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Fallacy? You just told me that you put no value in the vote, and that it showed you nothing, didn’t you?

    I’m saying the like/dislike system is what it is: a poll without a specified question. It isn’t there to improve discourse. The rules for its usage don’t specify that it has the function of promoting rational conversations. And even if they did, there’s no enforcement mechanism. Plenty of people make great points and get downvoted for expressing something someone else doesn’t like (Pinky was brought up earlier).

    If you believe that, why would you want to keep it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  189. Tillman says:

    @john personna: Quote me where I said I put no value in the vote.

    I said “don’t read too much into it.” That implies that I read something into it, i.e. value it to some extent.

    Remember how you exalted careful and critical reading?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  190. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    I am quite certain that my reading of that paragraph holds up, in particular:

    “It isn’t there to improve discourse.”

    If it isn’t for that, what is it for?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  191. Tillman says:

    @john personna: Just glancing at it, I’d imagine it’s for expressing if you like or dislike someone’s comment. But it’s not always used that way, much like dynamite wasn’t used the way Alfred Nobel intended for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  192. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Well, again we have the pattern described in the Vox article. When you aren’t “liking” good argument or data, but going with something more visceral, what are you doing?

    But Kahan and his team had an alternative hypothesis. Perhaps people aren’t held back by a lack of knowledge. After all, they don’t typically doubt the findings of oceanographers or the existence of other galaxies. Perhaps there are some kinds of debates where people don’t want to find the right answer so much as they want to win the argument. Perhaps humans reason for purposes other than finding the truth — purposes like increasing their standing in their community, or ensuring they don’t piss off the leaders of their tribe. If this hypothesis proved true, then a smarter, better-educated citizenry wouldn’t put an end to these disagreements. It would just mean the participants are better equipped to argue for their own side.

    In other words, a down vote on things that “don’t piss off the [members] of their tribe” or down votes which you hope do “piss off the members of the other tribe” [are] part of a bigger and wider problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  193. john personna says:

    If you want to be the solution, you do not down vote ideas, or people, you just don’t like.

    That is part of the bigger, wider, problem.

    The alternative is what, to get off on being part of the problem, to be a spoiler?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  194. john personna says:

    Oh, also from that article:

    In another experiment Kahan and his coauthors gave out sample biographies of highly accomplished scientists alongside a summary of the results of their research. Then they asked whether the scientist was indeed an expert on the issue. It turned out that people’s actual definition of “expert” is “a credentialed person who agrees with me.” For instance, when the researcher’s results underscored the dangers of climate change, people who tended to worry about climate change were 72 percentage points more likely to agree that the researcher was a bona fide expert. When the same researcher with the same credentials was attached to results that cast doubt on the dangers of global warming, people who tended to dismiss climate change were 54 percentage points more likely to see the researcher as an expert.

    It is a bias to be aware of, not liking, and not trusting, people who have discomforting data.

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  195. john personna says:

    @this:

    Note that my comment above, introducing the Vox article.

    This comment:

    It is down voting facts that gets me.

    See the lead essay today at vox (link), about how and why politics makes us stupid.

    The ONLY defense against that is to respect the data.

    Went down 0:3 in a weird confirmation of my point and the article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  196. Mikey says:

    @Tillman:

    I’m saying the like/dislike system is what it is: a poll without a specified question. It isn’t there to improve discourse. The rules for its usage don’t specify that it has the function of promoting rational conversations.

    I brought up Reddit before. There, the upvote/downvote system does have recommended rules for it usage, and one of them is specifically to promote rational discourse, and it STILL doesn’t.

    I think JP is entirely well-intentioned, and does actually have a valid point, but he’s asking a hammer to turn a screw. The tool isn’t suited for his purpose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  197. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Thanks. I don’t expect us to turn human nature on its head. I think our best hope is only to be a bit more self-aware, at the margin, and to catch some of our biases as they flow by.

    We wouldn’t want to live in a world where, say, studies on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines simply got down voted, and everyone continued again next week, from the same starting point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  198. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Seriously, when you tilt 3:0 or 4:0 in favor of “poking” and against “reason,” there is no reason to keep it, is there?

    The dislikes are all about poking, nothing to do with the substance. If you didn’t massively overreact to them, they would go back to being approve/disapprove of a particular comment (or sometimes tribe). YOU are making this about YOU, we are just pointing that out to you.
    Now I will give up and I presume you will continue in your current pattern.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  199. john personna says:

    @Grewgills:

    I think critical readers can read the Vox article and understand that this is not just about me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  200. DrDaveT says:

    @john personna:

    Step back, and also think who is really inured by down votes on an express call for reason.

    Um, nobody? Because, like, they’re only downvotes on a web forum? Making them almost, but not quite, entirely unimportant for any practical purpose?

    I have to thank you for that much — it had never occurred to me that there was anyone out there on the Intarwebs, other than total dysfunctional nutjobs, who even cared about downvotes. (I do you the honor here of noting that you are not — or at least, I *thought* you were not — a total dysfunctional nutjob.)

    But then, I’m not a savvy web denizen, so I don’t necessarily grok Local Custom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  201. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    OK then, enjoy your tilting at windmills.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  202. john personna says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Mikey notes above that Reddit [wants] votes to improve discourse. They are hardly alone.

    Here for instance is James Joyner introducing the very feature:

    Like or Dislike: I’m skeptical of this one and it may be short-lived. The idea is that other users can signal when your comment is abusive, trollish, or otherwise unhelpful to the discussion. If it works properly, it’s a more immediate and less harsh feedback mechanism than moderator warnings and bans. The concern, of course, is that people will simply vote for commenters they like on ideological grounds and vote down those they disagree with. We’ll see how it goes.

    How does that fit?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  203. john personna says:

    @Grewgills:

    See, the weird thing is, the side you’ve chosen.

    You aren’t with me and James, are you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  204. Tillman says:

    @john personna: So you pontificating on how we all should be using the system – I can downvote that for being unhelpful?

    That justifies nearly every downvote I’ve given you.

    @john personna: No, it’s entirely about you, and you are stubbornly refusing to see it.

    I haven’t ever been arguing about the [de]merits of up/down vote systems. I’ve been pointing out that what you claim people are downvoting when they do it to you is not at all what they’re doing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  205. john personna says:

    Maybe this is hard for you to admit, at this late [date], but you have to endorse James here, in order to be on the side of the hosts:

    The idea is that other users can signal when your comment is abusive, trollish, or otherwise unhelpful to the discussion. If it works properly, it’s a more immediate and less harsh feedback mechanism than moderator warnings and bans.

    You can’t say “it’s your problem, john, as you ask for James’ dream to be fulfilled.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  206. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Seriously? You say “pontificating” now …

    Hasn’t every one of my comments been in support of James Joyner’s original vision?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  207. john personna says:

    Seriously, all you guys who wanted to justify, to rationalize, your down votes are trapped now.

    You have to admit that you are down voting site policy … in order to piss someone off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  208. Tillman says:

    @john personna: Okay, now I think you’re trolling me. If so, well done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  209. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Shug.

    I look back and see that the “pontificating” post had no real position from me at all.

    It was all James Joyner, with just a hat tip to Mikey and a quick question at the end.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  210. john personna says:

    lol.

    Someone DID down vote James Joyner on how he hoped his like/dislike system would work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  211. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    Nope, they’re still down voting YOU to get a rise out of YOU and it is working. Each time you respond they win and YOU look a bit less rational.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  212. Eric Florack says:

    @john personna: Id like the government to stick to the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  213. DrDaveT says:

    @john personna:

    How does that fit?

    You still don’t get it.

    This isn’t about the function of up- or down-votes on this blog. It isn’t about the content of any of your comments. In 99% of other contexts, those are working the way they are supposed to. You, on the other hand, are doing the internet equivalent of walking around in a Pee Wee Herman costume wearing a huge sign on your butt that says “Kick Me!”.

    If your response to getting kicked in the butt were to yawn, or to raise an eyebrow, or to ferchrissakes remove the sign, this would have been over long ago. But your reaction seems to be to squawk, and double-down on the Pee Wee makeup and accent, and get out a sharpie and make the sign even bigger and harder to miss.

    I have not myself downvoted any of your comments, but it’s not like this isn’t predictable. You are making yourself far too attractive a target to pass over, by reacting the way you have. There is nothing irrational (to use your favorite word) in wanting to be entertained. You may decry what some find entertaining, but that isn’t going to cause them to suddenly prefer to go read Proust and listen to Bach instead of kicking you in the butt, so long as you continue to be entertaining when kicked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  214. john personna says:

    @Grewgills:

    Flip it around. Who showed up after 200 posts, to down vote me, yes, but when I purely quote James?

    God, the capital “YOU”s show that you can’t control yourself, and respect the message.

    You need to get in a few more digs, after 200 posts, rather than simply respect James’ hope.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  215. john personna says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Sadly, when these people down vote calls for reason, or James wishes, they kick themselves pretty hard.

    They stuck around for 200 comments to say they prefer down votes to reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  216. john personna says:

    I mean, surely the stubborn few remaining down voters understand that they can’t respect James message and down vote me for endorsing it.

    The internal contradiction is significant.

    That can’t be passing them by.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  217. Tillman says:

    The rational man. He went from blaming others for irrationality, to blaming others for abusing a voting system, to blaming others for being contrary to the webmaster’s original vision. All along the others kept blaming him, but he refused to listen.

    This has been an excellent lesson in Denial. You’ve really hit superdestroyer levels of denial in this thread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  218. Mikey says:

    @john personna: Downvoting you at this point has absolutely nothing to do with James’ message, and everything to do with how it makes you dance.

    People have your skull open and they’re poking a little red thumb into whatever part of your brain makes your leg twitch. That is the whole of it. It’s as shallow as a tea saucer, but lowbrow comedy is still comedy.

    This from @DrDaveT bears repeating:

    You are making yourself far too attractive a target to pass over, by reacting the way you have. There is nothing irrational (to use your favorite word) in wanting to be entertained. You may decry what some find entertaining, but that isn’t going to cause them to suddenly prefer to go read Proust and listen to Bach instead of kicking you in the butt, so long as you continue to be entertaining when kicked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  219. mantis says:

    Downvote!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  220. Matt Bernius says:

    There’s a powerful lesson in here about how the meaning and function of any piece of technology is always determined by unpredictable users.

    And how even a seemingly clearly marked binary system can have multiple, user-determined meanings and functions.

    Not to mention a reminder that once the cat is out of the bag…

    p.s – For the record, some down votes (and probably some up votes) are accidentally tallied thanks to thick finger tips and small mobile screens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  221. KansasMom says:

    I rarely comment but read this blog and the comments everyday. I see you whine about down votes JP and know that the conversation is over. The rest of the thread is JP arguing with anonymous down voters and one of other regulars (grewgills, Tillman, whoever) about why someone down votes and semantics about what makes one an “independent” voter. This is the best comment section on the political web, period, and trust me I’ve looked. So I down vote you on occasion JP because your particular butt hurt ruins the discussion and in effect down grades the site. I’ve got 4 year olds, I don’t come to OTB to hear more whining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  222. john personna says:

    Anyone who down votes now, rather than simply endorsing James message is showing pretty extreme stubbornness.

    You reject my call to stand for reason, because in this community “butthurt” has more value.

    Noted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  223. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Actually yes, each of those things tie together.

    Rational discussion.

    The voting.

    James wishes for the voting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  224. Tillman says:

    @KansasMom: He’s not whining, ma’am. He’s making a rational observation that manages to completely deflect any possible criticism of his own behavior and casts the blame on those “assaulting reason,” “misusing the vote system,” or “blatantly violating site policy.” john personna can do no wrong, for his is the head that bears the Crown of Reason.

    “The final delusion is the belief that one has lost all delusions.” – Maurice Chapelain

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  225. john personna says:

    It would have been very easy, at any point, for you to say “yes, rational discourse is better, and yes, this is what James hoped the voting system would be used for” rather than to (direct quote) “vote down those they disagree with.”

    Instead you, as a group, have decided to punish me into accepting that punishment is inevitable.

    What moral geniuses you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  226. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Actually I do include myself above when I say “we” need to strive to overcome bias. Several times in fact.

    I can even cop to the fact that I can be short tempered with people.

    Of course, I do, as you can see, have the self control to pull back from that, and make a reasoned defense of … good behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  227. john personna says:

    (And yes, people who down vote each and every polite and reasonable comment demonstrate their lack of self control, and demonstrate that … vendetta or something … is more important to them.)

    (Is that in the bible? You shall punish those who seek truth?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  228. Tillman says:

    @john personna: yes john, my religion commands me to oppress you for seeking truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  229. Grewgills says:

    @john personna: @Tillman:
    Mine too, now I must go and down vote your clarion call for rationality. ugga bugga

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  230. Moosebreath says:

    @john personna:

    “Instead you, as a group, have decided to punish me into accepting that punishment is inevitable.”

    Not that I have downvoted you in this exchange, but if you believe receiving a few downvotes is punishment, then you need to recalibrate your views of punishment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  231. john personna says:

    @Moosebreath:

    It’s minor punishment, sure, but what is the dog that did not bark here?

    A calm call for good behavior is down 0:2.

    No one yet has endorsed good behavior.

    It is a fascinating example of group dynamics, isn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  232. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    So down voting is bad behavior, but threadjacking every comment thread in which you get a down vote is good behavior?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  233. DrDaveT says:

    @john personna:

    Instead you, as a group, have decided to punish me into accepting that punishment is inevitable.

    You weren’t listening. I tried to teach you a simple trick that would allow you to avoid punishment entirely. You clearly prefer martyrdom. At which point, surely the downvoters are merely doing your will, helping you achieve your preferred state. Is it sadism to torment a masochist?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  234. KansasMom says:

    @Grewgills: And with that sir, you win the thread. Sweetbabyjeebus this, a million times this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0