Monday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That Murray-Hopkins touchdown in the Cards-Bills game.

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  2. Scott says:

    As much as Trump is an idiot, this is wrong.

    Top US official admits lying to Trump on American troop levels in Syria

    America’s top envoy to the multinational military coalition to defeat ISIS claimed in a recent interview that he routinely lied to senior government officials about U.S. troops levels in Syria.

    “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” outgoing diplomat Jim Jeffrey told Defense One reporter Katie Bo Williams in an interview.

    Jeffrey added that the real number of U.S. troops in Syria was “a lot more” than the several hundred Trump planned on leaving behind following his abrupt withdrawal announcement in December 2018.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    Moderna is claiming 94.5 percent effectiveness for their vaccine. Over to you, Kathy.

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  4. Kathy says:

    Moderna claims its vaccine is 94.5% effective.

    The actual number is probably lower. While they seem to have recruited a very diverse group of volunteers, it is still a self-selected group, because they are all volunteers. We can assume, for instance, most take COVID-19 precautions more seriously than the average.

    And there’s the matter of vaccine uptake.

    Let’s assume an 85% actual effectiveness and an uptake in 75% of the population. that gives us actual immunity (still of uncertain duration) in 63.75% of the population. This would reduce the daily caseload considerably, but the virus might still circulate widely. If annual or semiannual vaccinations are required, who knows what the subsequent vaccine uptake will be.

    We still have a ways to go.

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  5. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    That was almost perfect timing.

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  6. Markedman says:

    I’ve been pondering something for the past few days. Whatever vague thoughts I have about religion as a whole, I have absolutely no truck with people who passionately believe in things that are disproven by actual reality. It’s one thing to believe there is a higher power that takes interest in human lives and seeks to understand how that may work, and another to believe that prayer can divert a hurricane and so there is no point in building a sea wall.

    But those true believers are a large and extremely motivated segment of the population. Given that Republicans will say and act upon anything their base wants to hear regardless of the loss of life, while the Democrats are bound by their investment in reality, how do we succeed as a country? Those among us who are reality based are not going to be able to “prove” Hillary Clinton doesn’t drink baby’s blood, or that coronavirus is real, so how do we neutralize or sway the millions that believe if something makes them feel righteous anger it must be true?

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  7. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That was amazing. Reminiscent of the Sea of Hands.

    But the most impressive touchdown I’ve seen comes at around 1 minute into this video

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  8. charon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Bear in mind the Bills had just scored a go-ahead touchdown. The Cards got the ball back with 34 seconds left in the game. 4 plays to go 75 yards, the Cards touchdown play started with 11 seconds left, ended with 2 seconds left.

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  9. sam says:

    Yikes!

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  10. Teve says:
  11. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    Speaking of being detached from reality…

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  12. MarkedMan says:

    The Republicans are actively trying to incite violence in order to rally people to ignore coronavirus safety precautions. Here’s the Trump administration’s senior medical advisor yesterday, encouraging Michiganders to respond violentl to the Governor’s more stringent safety protocols:

    “The only way this stops is if peyple rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp,” Atlas wrote.

    Of course, no pushback from Republican’s in the Senate or House.

    Recently I talked about Klan Governance, and what that meant in practice. This is an example. A Klan government needs the citizenry to be at war with each other. Deaths, whether through riots or lynchings or police murder, are actually a positive. Klan Governance used to be limited to the Deep South, but by embracing this tactic the Republicans are attempting to bring it nationwide.

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  13. Kurtz says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That play was nuts.

    For some reason, Murray rubbed me the wrong way during the draft process. As soon as I watched him playing in the League, I changed my mind. I’m pro-Allen too.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Markedman:
    I’ve been bitching about this for a while. People capable of believing in angels are capable of believing in leprechauns are capable of believing in Q. Religion is a huge built-in software vulnerability, anyone can exploit it. It’s not GIGO, it’s FIGO – Facts In, Garbage Out. These are humans whose analytical capability is so flawed that their brains are useless for a wide variety of tasks – calculators that keep adding 2 + 2 and coming up with = salad dressing.

    In days of yore government was less important and stupidity more easily tolerated. In 2020, in governing a superpower with a 20 trillion dollar economy, and in an environment where everything has been accelerated, the damage done by these people can be very dangerous. See: the last four years. See: 250,000 Americans dead and an economy in shambles.

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  15. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: i’ve commented before that I used to wonder what happened to Germans in the 30s that made them go crazy, and I don’t wonder that anymore.

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  16. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Snow Crash was about that sorta thing.

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  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I agree, but think you are too focused on religion. The truth is that even the non-religious can be sucked into magical thinking and denial of the facts. It can be obvious – “The Power of Positive Thinking” has been a best seller for a century, or so ingrained no one even notices it anymore – for example the widespread use of supplements, including multivitamins, which have no demonstrated benefit absent actual medical deficiencies most commonly found among the starving.

    Crystals, horoscopes, psychics, ghosts, big foot, UFO’s, the list goes on and on. The vast majority of people consume huge amounts of magical thinking. The challenge is how to construct a reality based society despite that fact.

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  18. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: that a human being could throw a ball like that makes me proud of the human race.

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  19. Joe says:

    @MarkedMan:
    This is just – another – anecdotal example of the type of thinking you and Michael are bitching about and lots of us here bitch about all the time. I encountered (and did not participate in) a FB dialogue involving a woman I have known her whole life who seems otherwise fully capable, explaining patiently to her FB friend that the Trump law suits were on their way because of course it would take a lot of time for Trump’s camp to uncover the sort of widespread fraud the Democrats had perpetrated on the election. It was simply unreasonable of her interlocutor to assert that the Trump offensive had repeatedly come up empty and Trump needed to concede and let the country move on. I rolled my eyes and moved on.

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  20. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    People have been engaging in one form or another of magical thinking since…forever. If they abandon traditional religion, they’ll find something else to replace it, as you point out: psychics, crystals, UFOs, etc.

    The Enlightenment was supposed to rid us of magical thinking. Obviously, it didn’t. Sometimes I think we’re hardwired for it.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I accept that what you say is true. I think many people have an overwhelming need to believe they can affect the outcome of their lives, and I would contend that nonsense serves that need just as hard work and planning does. The problem is that nonsense doesn’t work, and all too often actually overwhelms the things that will actually improve people’s lives (hard work and planning).

    We are not going to convince people to give up the nonsense. How do we advance society despite that? It’s possible. It’s why we have modern sewage systems, and universal education, and anti-pollution laws.

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  22. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’m not being entirely facetious when I suggest that perhaps people ought to take to heart that old maxim: “God helps those who help themselves.”

    Pray if you like–but back it up with effort and initiative.

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  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You’re right. And your insight that magical thinking mattered less in a low tech, agrarian society is useful. But I think there’s another aspect that more directly explains our current situation.

    We now have a well funded political party happy to use all we know through modern psychology and sociology and the tools of modern advertising to exploit magical thinking for their own cynical ends. And indifferent to a quarter million dead or the deterioration of our climate.

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  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan: @CSK:
    The difference is that at this point no one has weaponized crystals or horoscopes. People who believe in psychics are idiots, but they aren’t dangerous idiots. Religion takes stupid to new levels, it organizes stupid, enforces stupidity, attacks anyone who objects. I’ve never had a Sagittarius tell me I was going to burn in hell for being a Leo.

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  25. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Religion is a huge built-in software vulnerability, anyone can exploit it. It’s not GIGO, it’s FIGO – Facts In, Garbage Out. These are humans whose analytical capability is so flawed that their brains are useless for a wide variety of tasks – calculators that keep adding 2 + 2 and coming up with = salad dressing.

    Seriously, please stop talking about “Religion” when you mean American Evangelical Christianity.

    The type of thinking you are describing is (a) just as prevalent among non-religious humans, (b) based a child’s view of religion and (c) completely wrong when considered from the perspective of Judaism (not alone among other religions but the one I know best) which has always valued science, logic and reason. Maimonides himself taught that if our understanding of the Torah is contradicted by science, our understanding of the Torah is wrong.

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  26. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And yet here you are – a proudly non-religious individual, doing precisely that – pontificating based on your arrogant ignorance.

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  27. Loviatar says:

    @Markedman:

    how do we neutralize or sway the millions that believe if something makes them feel righteous anger it must be true?

    You Can’t. I’ve been saying for years “I can live with an opponent, but I can’t live with an enemy”. An opponent can be negotiated with and a compromise can be reached. An enemy just wants you dead. These people through their belief system have made enemies of the rest of us, they see no reason to accept compromise.

    My suggestion on how to stop them, give them the personal responsibility they claim to believe in; i.e, pass laws and make rules holding them responsible for their actions/inactions.
    Ex: Coronavirus
    – If in exercising your freedum it is proven through your actions/inactions you have gotten infected with the virus you can be denied healthcare or become a lower priority for treatment.
    – If in exercising your freedum it is proven through your actions/inactions you have gotten others ill, you can be civilly sued and criminally charged appropriate to the severity of the harm caused.

    The only way to deal with an enemy is to hold them accountable and respond appropriately. The fascist of WW2 weren’t stopped with words they were stopped with guns and bullets.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    We now have a well funded political party happy to use all we know through modern psychology and sociology and the tools of modern advertising to exploit magical thinking for their own cynical ends. And indifferent to a quarter million dead or the deterioration of our climate.

    You can’t exploit what isn’t there. The pre-existing condition is lazy, superstitious, magical thinking. That underlying condition is very hard to treat because if, for example, a school district were to start teaching kids how to think rationally, the churches would land on them like a ton of bricks. It’s not pot-throwing, crystal-worshipping hippies who hobble our ability to face reality, it’s religion. There is a great deal of money to be made from lying to people about a supernatural sky daddy. The GOP just adapted an existing business model.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    My ignorance of what? My failure to distinguish between your preferred superstitions and those of some other group?

    The type of thinking you are describing is (a) just as prevalent among non-religious humans,

    Yes, but religion weaponizes that mental weakness. If crystal lovers start causing problems I’ll focus on them.

    completely wrong when considered from the perspective of Judaism (not alone among other religions but the one I know best) which has always valued science, logic and reason. Maimonides himself taught that if our understanding of the Torah is contradicted by science, our understanding of the Torah is wrong.

    A great many Jews (and I am one, ethnically) seem convinced that sky daddy is very, very concerned with hats. Granted, that’s harmless, but let’s not pretend it isn’t crazy. Those same Jews believe men have to have part of their dick cut off, that bacon is bad, and women shouldn’t be allowed to worship alongside men. In Israel many Jews believe they should contribute nothing to national defense, but should be allowed to swagger through Arab neighborhoods with submachine guns.

    Not seeing a lot of science in any of that.

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  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The difference is that at this point no one has weaponized crystals or horoscopes.

    Really? The Germans did a pretty good job of weaponizing a bizarre mish mosh of pseudo-science and ret-conned fables into several genocides and a world war. The Serbs ripped apart a country and murdered and raped their neighbors based on the idolatry of a fictionalized account of something they believed happened on a battlefield centuries before. The Hutu massacre of the Tutsi was based on nonsense beliefs, but not religious ones. Given the number of decisions to go to war in Roman and Greek times based almost entirely on horoscopes you have to wonder if any of Saint Ronny’s military escapades were initiated after Nancy consulted her astrologer.

    You give religion way too much credit. The need for magical thinking latches onto religion, not the other way around. In reality, irrational religion is just one of many modes of magical thinking that drives people.

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  31. Loviatar says:

    @Markedman:

    The following is an interview with a South Dakota nurse. She discusses how even when dying of Covid the true believers refuse to accept the truth. They get angry and rather believe they’re dying of lung cancer than accept its Covid that is killing them.

    They Can’t be reached

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  32. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Your ignorance of religious belief and of the myriad of types of humans that entails. You propose a strawman. You are repeatedly lazy and sloppy, and insulting – everything you accuse religious people of being.

    A great many Jews (and I am one, ethnically) seem convinced that sky daddy is very, very concerned with hats. Granted, that’s harmless, but let’s not pretend it isn’t crazy.

    Nope. 100% wrong. You are completely ignorant and are combining that with arrogance. You are what you disdain. Your insistence on literalism and cartoonish versions of belief is *exactly* what you are complaining about evangelicals doing.

    Do you really think the centuries of extremely intelligent individuals, themselves masters of philosophy, science, medicine have such a childish understanding of the world? You are a fool.

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    You could cite Stalinism and North Korean Kim-worship, too, and I’d agree. I was looking at the present-day US. But yes, other irrational beliefs have been weaponized at various times and places to terrible effect. When those other irrational modalities cause problems here – racism being the obvious example – I object to them as well. It’s like saying that cholera is just as bad as typhoid, and that’s probably true, but we’re having an epidemic of typhoid not cholera.

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  34. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    People capable of believing in angels are capable of believing in leprechauns are capable of believing in Q. Religion is a huge built-in software vulnerability, anyone can exploit it. […]

    In days of yore government was less important and stupidity more easily tolerated.

    This – particularly the second part – is completely wrong.

    History is filled with people who were simultaneously hard-nosed pragmatists and staunch believers. This is something that absolutely cannot be refuted.

    If you go back a couple of centuries, everyone was a believer – this necessarily includes the pragmatists, the cynics, and the irreverent.

    Even nowadays, there are people who are able to combine religiosity with pragmatism.

    However, as religiosity has increasingly become a choice, “the religious” are increasingly self-selecting for credulousness: the more extreme the religion, the more credulous its adherents.

    Thus, @SKI has a point:

    Seriously, please stop talking about “Religion” when you mean American Evangelical Christianity.

    In “days of yore,” the religious were NOT particularly stupid. It’s only nowdays that there is much more of a correlation.

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  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    And yet you don’t actually have anything but rather overheated name-calling, do you? You don’t defend circumcision as rational, you just yell at me. You don’t offer the rational, non-superstitious rationale for special head gear, you just get angry and call me names.

    I’m reasonably familiar with religion. It’s been something I pay attention to. I’ve actually read the Bible, cover to cover. It’s what made me an atheist. And I’ve dipped into other religions as well. But feel free to call me names. It’s what I expect from believers. But understand that what you’re pulling is a version of the No True Scotsman fallacy. Maimonides, indeed, as if 10% of modern Jews would even recognize the name.

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  36. Jay L Gischer says:

    I just watched an “Answers with Joe” about cults. The friend who shared it with me is a lapsed Catholic, and he feels much the same as Michael does – religion represents a vulnerability that is easily exploited.

    Toward the end of the video, Joe goes into how people end up joining a cult, and how the cult improves its grip on it. One of the absolute characteristics of cults is that they attempt to isolate their fathers – you don’t need to talk to anyone but us, or read any other newspapers, etc. In effect, cults exploit a vulnerability, but the vulnerability is loneliness.

    Often the things you hear people say – the beliefs they espouse – are in fact their ticket to group membership. That’s how I understand this, and why I always want to maintain a welcoming stance.

    I’m not so naive to think you won’t have to sometimes shoot people. And even though I might have a welcoming stance, I’m on the alert. Nevertheless, it’s part and parcel to how I approach this, and I’ve had some success. Bear in mind though, that any success comes very slowly. People don’t like change, and don’t often change.

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  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @drj:
    So it is possible to be hard-nosed and pragmatic and evidence-based and simultaneously believe something that is on its face wildly improbable and for which no evidence exists? 2+2=4 but also 2+2=Cheese? We have different definitions of hard-nosed.

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  38. drj says:

    @CSK:

    The Enlightenment was supposed to rid us of magical thinking. Obviously, it didn’t. Sometimes I think we’re hardwired for it.

    Human beings are hardwired to recognize patterns. That’s why if I draw a stick figure, you recognize a human being.

    But too often, we recognize patterns if there aren’t any. For instance: the harvest failed after we cut down this special (thus “sacred”) tree.

    Religion is pattern recognition run amok.

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  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SKI: At heart everybody’s an evangelist for whatever version of the “good news” they prefer. We all want what Joan Didion noted in “Why I Write:”

    Agree with me, see things my way, (I forget the rest of the quote, sorry 🙁 )

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  40. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s silly to ignore centuries of human history, is what I’m saying.

    The historical record trumps your analogy.

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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Loviatar: Yeah, I read that. It’s one of the things that spurred me to write what I posted above.

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  42. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds : I’m not yelling. I’m pointing out that you are the one engaging in “magical” and “childish” thinking. You are in fact ignorant about that which you claim to have knowledge.

    That you insist on maintaining your false beliefs when challenged is both arrogant and exactly what you are complaining about.

    Observant Jews don’t wear kippot because the “sky daddy” will be mad if they don’t. That is flat out wrong. It is a strawman.

    The reality is that you, having grown up in the USA have internalized the conventional American Christian world-views. As an obvious example is your claim to have read the “Bible”. I’m reasonably confident you haven’t actually read the entire Tanach and I’m damn sure you haven’t actually studied it or the Talmud.

    At best you mean you have read the Pentuach and seem to think that Judaism expects that to be read (a) by itself and (b) literally. Neither is true. Your view of what Judaism actually is, and isn’t, is based in ignorance. I’m not calling you a name, I’m describing a reality. You literally don’t know what you don’t know about Judaism. And yet you insist that there is no difference in worldview between Judaism (or any other religion) and the shallow-minded literalism of evangelical Christianity in the USA. You describe a particular mindset but claim it applies to all religions.

    Maimonides is literally the most well known Jewish scholar since Moses. Anyone who actually knows anything about Judaism knows who he is. Are there non-observant Jews who never learned about Judaism? Sure but so what? To pull an analogy from US law, there are lots of Americans who don’t know what Marbury vs Madison was about. That doesn’t change the fact that anyone who knows anything about US law knows about that case and why it is important. And if you don’t know about it, you don’t understand the role of the judicial review.

    When you say that “you are reasonably familiar with religion” what you appear to be claiming is to be familiar with American Christian culture – because that is what you keep describing.

    I don’t care if you are an atheist. I’m mostly agnostic but I am also a somewhat-observant Jew. Judaism is not necessarily about belief in God. There are a LOT of observant Jews who are atheists – and always have been. It isn’t a conflict. That you seem to think it is speaks to your ignorance.

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  43. SKI says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Not sure I follow.

    I don’t care if Michael, or anyone else, believes what I believe. I just want him to stop telling me what I believe and getting it completely wrong.

    Judaism doesn’t believe in biblical literalism. Buddhism doesn’t believe in hell and damnation. Jainism doesn’t believe in a singular god. But to Michael, all religion is the same.

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  44. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:..Agree with me, see things my way,..

    Sounds alot what Rush Limbaugh said in his early days of syndication.

    I’ll tell you what to think!*

    I can only assume he still spouts that mantra.
    Just one of the many reasons that I have not listened to him in 30+ years.

    *I am quoting Rush Limbaugh.

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  45. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Those same Jews believe men have to have part of their dick cut off, that bacon is bad, and women shouldn’t be allowed to worship alongside men.

    women shouldn’t be allowed to worship alongside men.

    Only Orthodox.

    Those same Jews believe men have to have part of their dick

    Which serves as a signal of group identity, even to people who do not worry about sky daddy caring.

    that bacon is bad,

    Reform don’t worry about that.

    We used to be friends with an Israeli couple who kept kosher at home because it helped them feel Jewish – but that was only at their home, not when eating out. Their little boy thought Sunday morning breakfast at our house was a treat, we would have – yes – bacon.

    There are people who do that stuff as a group tradition thing, not from fear of sky daddy.
    ==============
    Another topic: faith.

    Faith is very much a specifically Christian phenomenon, because having faith is ordered by the religion. Christians call other religions “faiths” because they don’t understand that other religions are not just Christianity minus Jesus, what is important to Christians may not matter in other religions.

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  46. ImProPer says:

    @CSK:

    “The Enlightenment was supposed to rid us of magical thinking. Obviously, it didn’t. Sometimes I think we’re hardwired for it.”

    I would like to think that the Enlightenment is still in it’s early stages. Virtually all the past figures were magical thinkers of some sort themselves. If nothing else magical thinking can be a soothing balm that allows us self centered, emotional beings to deal with seemingly cold, uncaring, universal laws, and truths as we uncover them. I unfortunately believe the same about being hardwired, but hope that the science of psychology is still in it’s infancy stages, and will mitigate this.

    @MarkedMan:

    “We are not going to convince people to give up the nonsense.”

    I fear you might be right. The good news is the last four years have provided a lot of lessons if we are interested in trying to change this.

    “How do we advance society despite that?”

    I believe problem solving your first statement is key.

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  47. charon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    One of the absolute characteristics of cults is that they attempt to isolate their fathers – you don’t need to talk to anyone but us, or read any other newspapers, etc.

    That sounds like the Rush Limbaugh/Conservative message about CNN, NYT, WashPo etc. – disregard them.

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  48. SKI says:

    @charon:

    Faith is very much a specifically Christian phenomenon, because having faith is ordered by the religion. Christians call other religions “faiths” because they don’t understand that other religions are not just Christianity minus Jesus, what is important to Christians may not matter in other religions.

    THIS!!!!

    There are people who do that stuff as a group tradition thing, not from fear of sky daddy.

    Also this. Fear of punishment is a CHRISTIAN concept. Judaism approaches commandments very differently.

    And it isn’t just due to “tradition”. The concept of ritual and the benefits it conveys is fundamental to much of Judaism. There are extended discussions among the rabbis and sages about the utter inexplicability of some commandments but also the benefits of doing them nonetheless. And it has nothing to do with punishment and everything to do with mindfulness.

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  49. CSK says:

    @charon:
    I was never a Limbaugh listener, much less a follower, but didn’t he used to tell his fans not to bother tuning into the news on the weekend because he’d explain it all to them on Monday?

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  50. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    You’re underplaying the efforts of some states to reach herd immunity via death and infection. That has to add a few points, let’s estimate immunity at a round 70% 😉

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  51. MarkedMan says:

    A couple of weeks ago I was going on and on (okay, yeah, kind of goes without saying) about the hideous trends in auto design, especially the front end. Here, in all it’s glory, is the new BMW electric vehicle and BMW’s pathetic pro-active attempt to convince people that the emperor does, actually, have clothes and they are natty as hell to boot.

    And while it is true that sometimes tastes change (a lot of people considered the Aeron office chair ridiculous, but two decades later it is considered iconic by the same crew) this is more an example of 1959 when Detroit was putting fins on top of fins and not say, the 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

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  52. Michael Reynolds says:

    And yet you insist that there is no difference in worldview between Judaism (or any other religion) and the shallow-minded literalism of evangelical Christianity in the USA.

    Where did I say any such thing? Dude, I was born a Jew, raised a Lutheran. I know the differences. In fact, I used to know the differences between Missouri Synod Lutherans (my group) and the other two prominent synods (ALC and LCA) whose names have since changed IIRC. And yes, I know the differences between Orthodox and Liberal and Reform Jews. My grandparents were Jews of the Southern California sort who attended synagogue occasionally and enjoyed a nice crisp piece of bacon. My other grandparents were Iowa Southern Baptists.

    I have the honor (?) of being both circumcised by a mohel, and confirmed as a Lutheran. I was even a fill-in altar boy, lighting the candles and making faces at my friends in the pews. Both penis-chopping and ritual blood-drinking.

    So, sorry, but my issues with religion don’t spring from ignorance. I know who Moses Maimonides is. I know Aquinas and Augustine are. In fact I’ll bet you I can go toe to toe with any randomly-chosen Protestant, Catholic or Jew on history, doctrine and practice. It’s fascinating, it’s like talking to gun nuts. You don’t even understand the difference between a clip and a magazine, that’s why etc etc etc. No, it’s precisely because I understand religion that I have issues with it.

    @charon:
    Which serves as a signal of group identity, even to people who do not worry about sky daddy caring.

    A group identifier only visible when nude. Interesting choice.

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  53. Flat earth luddite says:

    @Kathy: well, you had the commercial break in between.

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  54. Jay L Gischer says:

    @charon:

    That sounds like the Rush Limbaugh/Conservative message about CNN, NYT, WashPo etc. – disregard them.

    Indeed it does. It’s one of the aspects of The Conservative Movement that I find most worrisome. In fact, the leadership of Republicans doesn’t ignore those things, they just tell their followers to ignore them as “fake news”.

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  55. Kurtz says:

    @gVOR08:

    But I think there’s another aspect that more directly explains our current situation.

    We now have a well funded political party happy to use all we know through modern psychology and sociology and the tools of modern advertising to exploit magical thinking for their own cynical ends.

    This. Happy to exploit modern science and technology while simultaneously underfunding public education as well as trying to tailor science pedagogy to religious belief.

    Cynical. Immoral from a secular perspective. And disrespectful to those holding deeply held beliefs and to religion itself.

    In my view, on that last point, it is far more disrespectful to sacred beliefs than anything an atheist has ever said.

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  56. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The big grill trend has been going on for several years and I believe that Lexus should be blamed for starting it. Like a lot of late to the party players, BMW went overboard trying to prove they were amongst the cool kids.

    My advice is that if you really need to have a new BMW, get it in black or another very dark color and get the black kidney option, flat black being better than gloss black.

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  57. JohnSF says:

    @Teve:
    Actually sort of relates to a semi-formed idea that’s wandering around in the vast and dreary desert of my skull.

    Has to do with Q-anon.

    Q-anon, as has been pointed out by some game designers, is self-evolving via its adherents, but has a core which is designed, and a infrastructure that involves some serious costs (not multi-millions but in the high tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars).
    Who is paying, and why?
    Proof of concept of designed religio-political mental conditioning?

    Q-anon is so useful: what better than an enemy that will always be there to mobilise the believing base; it can never go away because it never exited in the first place.
    And that fantasy enemy can then be identified with whatever actual opponents you have at any point.

    Also recalls something I once came across re. a difference between fascists and nazis: former were (sometimes) interested in state structures; latter were far more driven by enemies, who were real people, but fantasised into demonic opponents.

    The potential of politically exploiting irrationality looks like it might become a major topic of the 21st century.

    “Nothing is True: Everything is Permissable”

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  58. JohnSF says:

    @Kurtz:
    I’ve mentioned before the view of quite a few Anglicans that the US “political evangelicals” are both heretics and lunatics.

    ReplyReply
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  59. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Where did I say any such thing?

    You described a Christian belief system/mode of interacting with the world and ascribed to “religion” in general.

    You and I probably agree completely about the problems inherent in that worldview but they are specific to that worldview. They don’t describe the worldview of other religions.

    And yes, there are most certainly non-Christians in the USA that have subconsciously become indoctrinated into that view as “normal” or the “default” but that doesn’t make the worldview that of those religions or those religions responsible for that worldview.

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  60. JohnSF says:

    @charon:
    Good point.
    Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc are very often more like legal/social systems of behavior than a “personal” faith. (Caveat: these “religions” have a LOT of internal variation)

    Due to the very different histories.
    But even within Christian societies the US is an extreme case of the personalisation of faith.

    ReplyReply
  61. CSK says:

    @JohnSF:
    I think a lot of U.S. mainstream Protestants, Jews, and Roman Catholics share the view that fundamentalists are lunatics. Episcopalians, in particular, would find them also declasse.

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  62. flat earth luddite says:

    I’ll check in later today, after the religious/irreligious po-ta-toe/po-tah-toe discussion is over. ‘Kay?
    Today is prep day for tomorrow’s tests, so my lurking/trolling will be hit/miss.

    Carry on, everyone!

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  63. CSK says:

    @JohnSF:
    Well, England did give us the Plymouth Brethren.

    ReplyReply
  64. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: That is one helluva ugly-ass car.

    Am I the only one who looks at it and is reminded of the Edsel?

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  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, this open forum went south in a hurry. How’s about them Steelers?

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  66. DrDaveT says:

    @CSK:

    The Enlightenment was supposed to rid us of magical thinking. Obviously, it didn’t. Sometimes I think we’re hardwired for it.

    I would have said that the Englightenment was about trying to make liberalism our shared secular religion. In place of commandments imposed by supernatural beings, substitute a shared set of principles and goals derived by reason and empathy — then make them into a religion, so that those not capable of that much reason and/or empathy can nevertheless get on board.

    (Communism took the same approach, later, with a slightly different set of principles and goals.)

    In fact, the myth we tell our kids about the Founding Fathers and the Constitution and such is pretty close to this kind of civic religion. The problem is that it never really supplanted the other kind, or other world views even less pleasant. (Well, ONE of the problems…)

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  67. inhumans99 says:

    To change the subject off of Michael being a hippie puncher (lol) and getting folks to pile on him whenever he brings up religion this Catholic who believes in Heaven and the fact that 1+1 still equals 2 wants to ask a question…did Biden ever start to get his daily Intelligence brief?

    I know some Republican Senators were annoyed that due to the childish shenanigans of the transition office Biden was not being brought up to speed on the daily reporting generated by the Intelligence community so they said they would take matters into their own hands.

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  68. Sleeping Dog says:

    @inhumans99:

    Not that I’m aware of.

    ReplyReply
  69. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s not pot-throwing, crystal-worshipping hippies who hobble our ability to face reality, it’s religion.

    Mm, apparently many of the pot-throwing, crystal-worshipping hippies have been captured by the Qanon phenomenon. And obviously, many of them have been at the forefront of the anti-vax movement (which is why they were ripe for being sucked into Q anon).

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  70. charon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    In fact, the leadership of Republicans doesn’t ignore those things, they just tell their followers to ignore them as “fake news”.

    Not much urging needed, that’s the followers’ natural inclination anyway.

    @Kurtz:

    We now have a well funded political party happy to use all we know through modern psychology and sociology and the tools of modern advertising to exploit magical thinking for their own cynical ends.

    We also have Facebook and its algorithms that customize every individual’s news to fit – and reinforce – that user’s preexisting biases.

    @JohnSF:

    Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc are very often more like legal/social systems of behavior than a “personal” faith.

    I have read that until fairly recently, the Japanese language did not have separate words for “philosophy” and “religion.”

    ReplyReply
  71. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    that bacon is bad

    Well, bacon tastes freaking good. But the process to raise pigs and make bacon is very, very bad.

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  72. charon says:

    @JohnSF:

    Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc are very often more like legal/social systems of behavior than a “personal” faith.

    Confucianism.

    I understand with Eastern religions like Confucianism, Taoism etc. it’s common to subscribe to more than one simultaneously.

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  73. MarkedMan says:

    @Monala: Yep. I am eagerly awaiting the day we grow bacon in slabs at a factory. The Impossible Burger is already better than many restaurant burgers, although not remotely as good as the best.

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  74. flat earth luddite says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    My compliments. They’re doing way better than the Seahawks the last few weeks, for sure!

    ReplyReply
  75. JohnSF says:

    @charon:
    Well, personally I’d hesitate to call Confucianism a religion; I’d argue more a philosphy that sits on top of Chinese traditional folk religion and the religious rituals of the state.
    Same with Taoism for that matter, so Taoism and Confucianism perfectly compatible in that regard.
    More a matter of point of view; Confucianism more a practical way of looking at ethics, duties public activity etc. Whereas Taoism more about personal well-being, in mix of magical/mystical/medical approaches.

    The real odd one out in the Chinese (and Japanese) context is Buddhism; which was based on the general Indian acceptance of reincarnation, which was not a general belief in China.
    And interestingly, Chinese Buddhism evolved to accept thing like “hells” and “heavens” that were pre-extant in china, but alien to Indic Buddhism.

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  76. grumpy realist says:

    @charon: That reminds me of the time I was filling out a survey on my religious beliefs and I had the following discussion with the survey takers:
    “You ask here whether or not I believe in God. What does that mean?”
    “Well, you know, “God”!”
    “Hmmm. Is this God a self-aware god?” (I was going through a Taoist phase at the time)
    (survey taker turns around and yells to his companion.) “Hey, Dave! What do we mean by this question?!”

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  77. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Japan is extremely eclectic in its belief systems. People think it perfectly fine to have a bunch of Shinto ceremonies in childhood, get married in a church, and have a Buddhist funeral.

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  78. JohnSF says:

    @CSK:

    England did give us the Plymouth Brethren

    Unfortunately, we didn’t give you all of them.

    Been in the news recently (not front page headlines but…) re. links to Conservative MPs and the awarding of PPE contracts.

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  79. Joe says:

    Whenever I see Michael Reynolds going off on religion in the morning, I just flick the Forum off for the day. Been here, done this, got the t-shirt. See you all tomorrow.

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  80. KM says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    How’s about them Steelers?

    IDK – fell down the Twitterhole because my feed’s full of people talking about the Bills loss and #BillsMafia tag is almost outpacing Trump mockery ones. Did you know there’s a Bills Vader, cosplay and all? The pics are great!

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  81. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    …grow bacon in slabs at a factory. The Impossible Burger is already better than many restaurant burgers,…

    Don’t worry they’ll be a study out post haste that will show you that it is bad for you and bad for the environment.

    ReplyReply
  82. Mister Bluster says:

    We are as gods and might as well get good at it.*
    Stewart Brand

    *I am quoting Stewart Brand.
    —————–
    Well lookee there! It’s the edit function!

    ReplyReply
  83. Mu Yixiao says:

    @KM:

    Did you know there’s a Bills Vader, cosplay and all?

    No I didn’t. I have, however, seen a Colts Stormtroomper (but not the one that shows up on Google images).

    ReplyReply
  84. Mister Bluster says:

    test…trying to call up EDIT function. Don’t really want to change anything just want to see if I can do it. Like the time in January of 1971 when I hitchhiked from San Francisco to
    Saint Louis. I had the plane fare in my pocket. I just wanted to see if I could do it.
    ————–
    Edit function! Here it is again! Maybe “conjure up” is more appropriate?

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  85. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Don’t worry they’ll be a study out post haste that will show you that it is bad for you

    To give Impossible their due, they make it pretty clear that the fat content, etc of the burgers are about what you get with ground beef. If you are eating it for health rather than an aversion to animal cruelty, you’ve made a bad choice.

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  86. JohnSF says:

    Nevermind Steelers and Bills and such.
    The sports news I bring you is from Saturdays rugby international: Argentina 25, New Zealand 15.
    First time in 30 matches that the Pumas have beaten the All Blacks

    Given rugby union is arguably the national religion of New Zealand, ties in there too…

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  87. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    “I can call the edit function from the vasty deep.”
    “Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will it come, when you do call for it?”

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  88. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnSF:..from the vasty deep.

    I give up.
    Unless it’s something from Sponge Bob

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  89. dazedandconfused says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That Murray-Hopkins touchdown in the Cards-Bills game.

    AKA the “Hail Murray” pass. Act of God or Satan?? Discuss…

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  90. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

    ReplyReply
  91. JohnSF says:

    Very interesting interview of Barack Obama by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic in relation to Obama’s new political memoir A Promised Land
    Obama touches on a topic that’s been mentioned here:

    “If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition our democracy doesn’t work. We are entering into an epistemological crisis.”

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  92. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Shakespeare, as mangled by me.
    Henry IV Part 1; Act 3, Scene 1.
    GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them?

    ReplyReply
  93. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Bill Shakespeare.

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  94. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan: Shakespeare, Henry IV pt 1

    ReplyReply
  95. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    OK, I see what you were saying. Two different things:

    A) Belief in things unproven is an exploitable flaw in reasoning. That is true regardless of specific country, time etc…
    B) The main cause of the problem in this country is white, evangelicals.

    I probably should have made that clear. One is a philosophical question, the other political. I’ve trashed white evangelicals so many times on this site I assumed you assumed which was careless of me.

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  96. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I just watched an “Answers with Joe” about cults. The friend who shared it with me is a lapsed Catholic, and he feels much the same as Michael does – religion represents a vulnerability that is easily exploited.

    I would suggest that the vulnerability is there before the religion came along — and as has been pointed out above, many religions don’t really exploit that vulnerability. If anything, a decent, pragmatic religion plugs that vulnerability before something worse comes along and exploits it — like QAnon.

    If people have a need to believe that everything will work out all right in the end, and I think people in general do, it’s best if everything works out in the end because it’s all part of the mainstream community Sky God’s benevolence rather than because that person is going to go martyr himself for the cause or go shoot up a pizza shop looking for the basement.

    Religion is the opium of the masses, but it keeps them off of meth and PCP. Unfortunately, American Evangelical Christianity has been cutting the product with meth.

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  97. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JohnSF:
    Remember when we had a president who knew what epistemological meant?

    He’s right of course, that is the underlying problem, a lack of epistemological rigor. But you can’t demand epistemological rigor if you don’t practice it yourself. You can’t demand that people stick to provable facts if at the same time you’re talking to invisible sky daddy, or consulting your horoscope, cleansing your aura, or claiming that chopping off foreskin is a rational thing to do.

    If we all stick to our faiths and delusions and cherished bits of nonsense we weaken the force of reason, because then we’re just debating your crazy vs. my crazy. People need to deprogram, de-cathect from their assumptions and rebuild from the ground up. And this has to be an ongoing, lifelong process of unlearning and learning.

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  98. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My brother makes a distinction between black people and ni**ers. He has nothing against black people, so he claims, but he just hates ni*****. It’s about as clear a distinction as your comments about religion.

    My brother is also a barely literate moron. You are not. I expect that you can find a way to target your rants more precisely and actually say what you mean.

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  99. sam says:

    @CSK:

    Bill Shakespeare.

    America’s greatest actor (and I’m deadly serious about this), Mickey Rooney: “There’s only one writer whose words you can’t change, and that’s Billy Shakespeare.”

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  100. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dazedandconfused: Not sure about this one but the Immaculate Reception was definitely the work of the Devil.

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  101. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A) Belief in things unproven is an exploitable flaw in reasoning. That is true regardless of specific country, time etc…

    and @Michael Reynolds:

    If we all stick to our faiths and delusions and cherished bits of nonsense we weaken the force of reason, because then we’re just debating your crazy vs. my crazy. People need to deprogram, de-cathect from their assumptions and rebuild from the ground up. And this has to be an ongoing, lifelong process of unlearning and learning.

    Kinda like how you keep repeating your false beliefs about others’ beliefs?

    Why do you presume that all religions require “belief” at all? Let alone belief in things unproven?

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I probably should have made that clear. One is a philosophical question, the other political. I’ve trashed white evangelicals so many times on this site I assumed you assumed which was careless of me.

    It isn’t just “careless”, it is factually wrong. Just say Christian when you are talking about Christian beliefs. Don’t make Christianity the default and the stand-in for all religions. Other religions aren’t Christianity without Jesus.

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  102. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    Religion is the opium of the masses, but it keeps them off of meth and PCP. Unfortunately, American Evangelical Christianity has been cutting the product with meth.

    Oooh, good quote.

    Life does have a happy ending where every bit of pain you’ve endured or are still enduring stops completely. Every alternative ending is can-kicking and, if followed to its logical end state, is worse than death. Over time the emphasis in Christianity has moved from gruesome threats of hellfire to promises of Porsches in heaven, because life has gotten better. If you were in a 15th century German plague village you needed some pretty harsh threats to keep you on the straight and narrow. In a world where Doordash brings me burritos, Instacart brings me beer and Herb brings me weed, the upside has to be ever more up, while the threats just become ludicrous.

    It’s very much an open question to me at least, whether homo sapiens could get by without the supernatural. I don’t know. Would we be even bigger bastards without a religious structure? OTOH, weren’t most of the guards at Dachau Christians?

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  103. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s very much an open question to me at least, whether homo sapiens could get by without the supernatural. I don’t know. Would we be even bigger bastards without a religious structure?

    Again, many religions do just fine without the supernatural. See, Bhuddism, Jainism, Confucianism.

    ReplyReply
  104. CSK says:

    @sam:
    In his pre-Exorcist days, William Peter Blatty wrote a funny book titled I, Billy Shakespeare, in which the ghost of Shakespeare returns to prove he wrote his own plays. He accomplishes this by dictating into a tape recorder.

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  105. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    I made no false statements about any religion.

    You did make false statements about me, including the accusation that I’m ignorant of religion.

    You know what’s strange to me? I don’t get angry or defensive when people criticize my atheism. Happens all the time. People tell me I’ll burn in hell etc… Doesn’t bother me any more than if you denounced my belief in gravity. But tell a person – of any religion – that you think they’re wrong and we get you being clearly furious.

    In fact, were I to criticize your belief in any true thing – the earth is a sphere, math works, the sun rises in the East – you’d roll your eyes and laugh it off. But when it comes to religion, my goodness, do people get defensive. Why?

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  106. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The contrast is incredible, isn’t it?
    I think that is one political memoir I’ll definitely be reading.

    On provable facts vs usupported assumptions: one of my favourite philosophers, Death, as channeled by Terry Pratchett

    “All right, I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”
    REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
    “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”
    YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
    “So we can believe the big ones?”
    YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
    “They’re not the same at all!”
    YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
    “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”
    MY POINT EXACTLY.”

    Similarly Godel and Tarski; even mathematical logic is not a complete, self-consistent system without assumptions: the standard model of the system cannot be defined within the system.

    Non-empirical judgements are almost unavoidable; constrained by “kickable” objective reality, and by coherent reason, maybe, but a priori just the same.

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  107. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I made no false statements about any religion.

    Yeah, you did.

    You falsely stated, repeatedly, implicitly and explicitly, that religion is about belief and people who are religious believe in “sky daddies”. That is true of Christianity but not other religions.

    You keep talking about “Religion” when you are clearly and obviously describing Christianity. I’d like you to stop.

    I don’t care what your personal beliefs or non-beliefs are. I just want you to stop mis-describing mine (and other non-Christians).

    ReplyReply
  108. EddieInCA says:

    I left the Catholic Church at the age of 8. Never looked back.

    I’m an atheist. My mother, who is a “practicing Catholic” who hasn’t gone to mass in 20 years other than Easter, refuses to accept it. That’s on her. I love my mom, but I have no use for her faith and religion.

    I find all religious beliefs bizarre. But… not my circus, not my monkey.

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  109. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:

    Again, many religions do just fine without the supernatural. See, Bhuddism, Jainism, Confucianism.

    So, we’re cutting foreskins for purely rational, non-superstitious reasons. OK. Likewise never spelling out the word God is not superstition? How about the kabbalah?

    We’re back to No True Scotsman, because, as I’m sure you know, I can find iterations of every religion – and not tiny offshoots – that do in fact rely on superstition. To which you’ll counter that this or that iteration isn’t the true expression of a given religion. So what you’re really arguing is that your specific beliefs, as tailored by you, are not superstitious. To which I would probably agree, because making up your own religion isn’t religion as generally accepted by, well, by religions.

    ReplyReply
  110. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    You’re upset because I used a generalization that only covers 95% of the religions in this country. Yes, I should have carved out an exception for the 5%. Happy?

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  111. JohnSF says:

    @SKI:
    That is true of Christianity but not other religions.
    Perhaps not all other religions would be more accurate?

    As before; many other religions are more an aspect of a whole legal/customary system than a personal internal belief system with a personal god of judgement
    (Though arguably European Christianity was often customary rather than personal; both Protestantism and America are odd, American protestantism very odd, and American Southern Baptist evangelicalism totally out there)

    But quite a few others certainly have a, shall we say, celestial patriarchal aspect to the deity: paging Allah, Ahura Mazda etc of monotheistic/dualistic varieties; also various polytheistic-with-a-boss variants.

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  112. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    In fact, were I to criticize your belief in any true thing – the earth is a sphere, math works, the sun rises in the East – you’d roll your eyes and laugh it off. But when it comes to religion, my goodness, do people get defensive. Why?

    Because there is a long history of killing people because of their religion? Because religious bigotry is as nefarious and divisive as ethnic bigotry, anti-queer bigotry and the rest?

    And while religion fuels some of that bigotry (we had Buddhists killing Muslims in Myanmar this year? Or was that last year?), religion is also used as a distinction for targeting minorities.

    Because as a queer atheist-agnostic-something, I recognize that protecting a pluralistic society is protecting my rights?

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  113. JohnSF says:

    @SKI

    ..fine without the supernatural. See, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism.

    Depends a bit on your definition of supernatural.
    Neither Buddhism and Jainism really make sense absent the base assumption of reincarnation inherited from Hinduism.

    And Confucianism while not superstitious in itself, assumes the acceptance of standard ritual, while not being that interested in it.

    (Just as some Classical philosophers or early modern scientists accepted conventional religion; but didn’t consider it very relevant to their interests)

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  114. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnSF: Should have recognized the Shakespeare trademark of a short, seemingly flip, answer with unexpected depth

    ReplyReply
  115. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I can find iterations of every religion – and not tiny offshoots – that do in fact rely on superstition.

    So superstition can be added to religion. Thus, with a few exceptions, religion and superstition are separable, and what can be added can as easily be separated.

    To which I would probably agree, because making up your own religion isn’t religion as generally accepted by, well, by religions.

    You can not have salvation without an entity to do the saving. So for Christianity, in a Christian context, you are right – you can’t have the Christian religion without superstition.

    in this country

    the 5%

    Even in this country, atheists, agnostics, “nothing in particular,” plus non-theistic religions add up to much more than 5%.

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  116. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Uh… yeah. I was teaching today–for only the second day since the end of last February–and don’t have credentials at the district anymore to log on, so I’ve missed most of the excitement.

    And intend to keep missing it. Good call on the lurking, zeeb.

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  117. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: I was reminded of the “tiger nose” Kia. That was heralded as a dynamic styling idea in the late naughts or early 10s, I don’t remember.

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  118. Michael Cain says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    So it is possible to be hard-nosed and pragmatic and evidence-based and simultaneously believe something that is on its face wildly improbable and for which no evidence exists? 2+2=4 but also 2+2=Cheese?

    Does engineering count as hard-nosed and pragmatic? I have known engineers in multiple sub-disciplines who are also young-Earth creationists. And at least one real-time programmer who is also a believer at revival-style church services.

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  119. dazedandconfused says:

    @Gustopher:
    You touch on a deep issue.

    The Enlightenment was more essentially a rejection of religious rule. This was because it was thought removing religion would end all the killing. Things didn’t work out that way though. People rallied around other things and kept right on killing each other. The intellectual Marxists thought it would end persecution of Jews in Russia, and were quite puzzled when Marxism was fully installed but Russians went right on persecuting Jews anyway.

    People rallied around whatever was handy and whatever worked. Strident nationalism is as ridiculous as any religion when you think about it. Just because people live within certain geographical boundaries they are all suddenly in full agreement and are brothers?? Riiiiiiight….

    We have a long way to go as a species before we are rid of this madness. No easy fixes.

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  120. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You keep insisting that religion and science can’t mix. And yet…

    * Genetics was sussed out by a Catholic monk (Mendel)
    * The theory of the Big Bang was developed by a Catholic priest (Lemaître)
    * Electromagnetic induction was discovered by a devout elder of the Sandemanian Church (Faraday)
    * The most prodigious mathematician (and author of many groundbreaking works) was a Calvinist (Euler)
    * The scientist who unified the forces of electricity and magnetism was an evangelical Protestant (Maxwell)
    * The man who discovered that light acts as both a particle and a wave (and the man who gave us the word “photon”) was a baptist Deacon (Compton)
    * The man who defined evolution by combining the works of Darwin and Mendel was a devout Anglican (Fisher)
    * The inventor of both the laser and the maser was a devout member of the United Church of Christ–he also established that there’s a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way (Townes).

    Would you like me to go on? Give me until Monday and I’ll have a 10-page paper showing how religious people have been some of the greatest scientists in our history. I can include another 10 pages on how religious establishments (e.g., the Catholic Church) have embraced and advanced the cause of science throughout history.

    I have just shown you–and can show you plenty more–that religion doesn’t not preclude science. Many religions actively embrace science, and leave the religion for the parts we don’t (yet) know. Deists (including a fair number of our Founding Fathers) believe in a “clockwork God” who–at the point of creation (what we call the Big Bang)–created the laws of physics. Their religion is based on understanding the laws of physics that “God wrote”.

    Hells… even the “Jews can’t eat pork” example you gave above runs contrary to your narrative. Kosher/Kashrut rules (as well as several others in Leviticus) are the result of a primitive form of the scientific method. Those with the ability looked at what made people sick, and–based on their limited understanding–created rules based on their observations. Pigs have trichinosis. Seafood (other than fish) spoils quickly. Different crops in one field can cause cross fertilization that results in sterile fruit.

    Even the “two week impure after her period” is a way to encourage sex at the most fertile times.

    That’s all science.

    You have a stick 2×12 up your ass when it comes to religion. You have a devout belief about it that persists even when presented with evidence to the contrary. And it’s your aim to convert everyone to your way of thinking–because you are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Everyone who disagrees with you has either not “seen the light”, or is a “heretic”.

    You, sir, are a devout evangelical.

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  121. Mu Yixiao says:

    It’s time for bed.

    But I leave you all with this:

    We’ll Be Back” written by the playwright of Hamilton, and performed by sitting Texas judges.

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  122. grumpy realist says:

    @dazedandconfused: Basically remember that the Enlightenment came after the 200 years of religious wars that Europe had been having. I’m not so sure that there was a development of a new culture as it was all the people who wanted to kill each other off over religious issues had already died off.

    We had a little breather, and then found a completely different set of reasons to have wars. Has anyone ever figured out why WWI took off? Ask 5 different historians and I’ll swear you’ll get five different answers.

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  123. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF:

    Neither Buddhism and Jainism really make sense absent the base assumption of reincarnation inherited from Hinduism.

    I know nothing about Jainism, but Buddhism makes sense without reincarnation. Honestly, it makes more sense — if you have an immortal anything, than you aren’t impermanent. Buddhism is all about there being no self.

    You are the wave, on the ocean. It hits the shore. When did the wave begin, when did it end, can it ever be said to have ended when it ripples out forever?

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  124. de stijl says:

    As of Friday, I was confirmed.

    Suspected so since Tuesday so I isolated.

    I have slept more in the last week than I ever have in that same time span. Intermittent chills and fever. Major body aches (scapula bone ache was brand new to my experience). Really low to no appetite.

    A friend brought me over Tang and ginger ale to my stoop, bless her soul.

    Very vivid dreams.

    It sucks less than e. Coli on the GI tract, but, bodily, it is not fun and lasts longer.

    0 of 5 stars. Would not recommend.

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  125. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    I’m very sorry to learn this. I’m sure we all are.

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  126. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:
    @Gustopher:

    I don’t believe it, and think it is wishful thinking, but Buddhist concepts are quite appealing conceptually. The cycle. The only way to ascend is to let go.

    My brain is too materialist to accept it, but there is a pull.

    I am of the opinion that monotheistic faith systems got it wrong. There is primal beauty in nature.

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  127. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Thanks! I’m cool. No way near to hospitalization. It is mild to mid. Mostly, I’ve slept with interesting dreams.

    My sleep schedule is so messed up now!

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  128. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    Really sorry to hear that.

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  129. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: I hope it doesn’t get worse, and that you recover completely as quickly as possible. Doesn’t sound fun.

    Folks were worried when you weren’t around this weekend. If you don’t have an SpO2 pulse oximeter, get one — ask our fine hosts to forward along your info and I’ll have Amazon ship you one if you need it.

    Also, some Ensure or something like that is better than tang for replacing meals when you can’t eat, assuming you can hold that down.

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  130. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:
    Jainism and Buddhism are similar. (I’d say very similar, but a Jain or Buddhist might disagree; and Buddhism in particular has a lot of variants)

    Both developed in an Indian belief-culture that accepted reincarnation as one of it’s base concepts in the post-Vedic period (roughly 1000BC onward).

    More modern Hindu belief (NB this is a vast generalisation and over-simplification) largely developed after the temporary ascendancy of Buddhism in India, and inclines to belief that all persons can achieve “divine” status by a variety of paths, and thus escape the pains of worldly life.

    Essentially, Jainism and Buddhism view this as no answer: the person remains “bound to the wheel” and even “divinity” is no escape. All existence involves suffering.
    The old line has it that Buddhists don’t disbelieve in gods: they view them as in need of Enlightenment.
    Simplified, Buddhist seek release from samsara and effectively the end of self-hood. (Jainism is a bit different here; it’s complicated).

    My point is that if the self terminates upon death, then the problem of being “bound to the wheel” goes away.
    Buddhism aims to break the cycle and achieve “no self”; it does not fear death so much as it dreads eternal existence in suffering.
    If you get that by just popping your clogs, then eh, why worry?
    (What most Indic-derived religions regard as weird is the concept of one life, judgement, then an eternal afterlife: the god of such a system would be viewed as sorely in need of Enlightenment)

    OTOH a some Buddhists would insist that as “self” is an illusory concept in the first place, then reincarnation strictly speaking does not occur. To which I’d reply, “who’s doing the suffering then?” (Cheers from the Zen types in the gallery).

    And then Pure Land Buddhism goes and almost drops reincarnation and a-deism and self-enlightenment and sets up a “heaven” achievable by “prayer” and an intervening Boddhisatva who’s pretty close to being a deity, minus the power over the material bit.
    Complicated

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  131. charon says:

    @JohnSF:

    What most Indic-derived religions regard as weird is the concept of one life, judgement, then an eternal afterlife:

    It is difficult to conceive of a Heaven so blissful, so interesting, that it would not become excruciatingly boring and intolerable given enough time. This is a realization that causes Heaven to lose its appeal.

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  132. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Don’t get me started on Isaac Newton’s penchant for mixing unitarian theology, abstruse scriptural interpreatation and alchemical traditions.
    His Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John for a bit of light reading.

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  133. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    If you need to sleep, sleep. I know everyone says it, but hydrate!!! Gustopher’s advice is good.

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  134. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    A book I really like is The Years Of Rice And Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson.

    An alt-history where The Black Death was 99.9% fatal and what then happened in a no Europe world.

    It is great adjacent, but highly recommended because it is damned interesting.

    The same three souls keep getting thrust into new difficult times over and over after briefly convening in the bardo (after dying in interesting ways bound to their character type) for meta-narrative.

    Recommend all his stuff – especially the Mars Trilogy. Almost all explore Buddhism, Islam (especially on Sufism), Hinduism, or Confucianism.

    These are plot-heavy, sciency SF books – a lot of stuff happens – with a spiritual underpinning.

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  135. JohnSF says:

    Thanks for the recommend; another for the “to read” list (which is getting a bit long).
    Read the Mars Trilogy and really liked it.
    Best wishes to you>

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