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Old 12-19-2019, 03:20 PM
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Selective ignorance


Most of the people I hang out with are atheists. The question of religion rarely comes up. But, I have friends who think man never walked on the moon. Or that climate change is not real.Not much I can do about the moon, but the climate change thing really gets to me.
I reference the scientists, but no, can't believe it. It's not a religion! It's fact! But oh no, the earth has gone through cold-warm cycles before. So I say well, we know that because of scientists, but you refuse to accept the same scientists when they tell you climate change now is man made.
So, i called them ignorant by choice. That's the way I see it, they choose to be ignorant.
But I was told I was being rude. I didn't say idiot or stupid or even ignorant. I said selective ignorant. How is this bad? It is exactly what they are> Am I wrong here? Was I out of line?
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Old 12-19-2019, 03:37 PM
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I don't think "ignorance" is the right word, even if you qualify it with "selective." It doesn't sound to me like their problem is a lack of information or awareness.
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Old 12-19-2019, 03:52 PM
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They are, as much as religious fundamentalists, willfully ignorant, and yes, ignorant is the right word to use here. If they are presented with the facts, evidence, absolute proof by peer reviewed scientists, then they are being willfully ignorant. We walked on the moon, climate change is real, evolution is a fact, the earth is not flat, and if you disagree with those facts, then you are ignorant, willfully or otherwise.
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Old 12-19-2019, 03:58 PM
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Am I wrong here? Was I out of line?
...And you call yourself a Nice Guy, Jack?
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Old 12-19-2019, 05:10 PM
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My aunt is like this. She is highly educated, great at math, understands real estate and business very sharply............and is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Flat-Earther. Her logic is basically: If she can point out one flaw in your case, you're done, but no matter how many flaws there are in her case, her argument remains intact.

It is a cherry-picking buffet of information and selective ignorance, as the OP says.
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Old 12-19-2019, 05:30 PM
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Unfortunately climate change (and many other aspects of science) are not easy to understand. As an example, I studied biology and got really good at some aspects (such as genetics) but would have a hard time explaining evolution to someone who has no scientific knowledge. It would be even harder if they have a vested interested in not believing in evolution (eg they belong to some religions).

Climate change is even harder. It's become incredibly politicized and the green movement has been really bad at talking about it. If you believe in it, you are expected to change your lifestyle, likely to be less enjoyable... so there's another reason not to believe in it. It's hard to get people to think about the future. It's even harder to get people to perceive the risks. Headlines that we soon will be unable to stop temperature increases of 2 degrees Celsius don't provoke outrage and aren't viewed as credible. (They should also use the term Fahrenheit if the intent is to convince Americans.) According to Peter Sandman, a risk communication specialist, "the most important truth in risk communication is the exceedingly low correlation between whether a risk is dangerous, and whether it's upsetting". This applies to climate change, vaccines, and many other issues.

Many of the political solutions are unpopular, or worse, are grafted on to other more political issues, such as a carbon tax linked to an income tax cut. Who would benefit? (Cue one party, at least, not agreeing with the plan.) When revenue drops due to the use of less carbon, are you now going to raise taxes to make up the shortfall? Which taxes, and if you're raising income taxes, who are you going to raise those taxes on? Does anyone ever believe a politician who utters the words "revenue neutral"?

(Personally I'd like to see a carbon tax act like a "sin tax", which is not pretending to be revenue neutral. Charge it to polluters, not the consumers. The consumers would, of course, pay higher prices because the costs will be passed on to them, but it won't be in their face. Consumers would either pay higher prices (with that money going toward fighting for the environment) or they'll move toward more sustainable and cheaper options. However that would make things more expensive, so it's probably not popular enough to be politically possible.)

Last edited by Kimera757; 12-19-2019 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 12-19-2019, 06:13 PM
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Unfortunately climate change (and many other aspects of science) are not easy to understand.
Oh? It's never struck me a difficult concept. Yes, the Earth has undergone cooling and warming cycles many times, but human industrial activity promises to cause a warming cycle much much faster than any previous cycle, on the order of a few centuries instead of over several thousand years.

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As an example, I studied biology and got really good at some aspects (such as genetics) but would have a hard time explaining evolution to someone who has no scientific knowledge. It would be even harder if they have a vested interested in not believing in evolution (eg they belong to some religions).
I'm not sure about this, either. If the person is open to the concept and doesn't have some religious or religious-like anti-evolution preconceptions, I don't think it would be hard to describe how not all babies are alike; that some babies have a very tiny advantage that gives them a slightly better chance of living long enough to have babies of their own, and if you spin this out over a few thousand generations, you'll see the tiny traits that gave the original babies their slight advantage becoming more and more reinforced in their descendants to the point where the descendants might look significantly different from the original babies. You don't have to invoke genetics or mutation right away, just point out that while a baby inherits traits from its mother and father, it doesn't get them to exactly the same degree as its mother or father - some traits will be more pronounced or less pronounced, and this mix can offer a tiny advantage or a tiny disadvantage. If the tiny-disadvantage baby has babies of their own and passes on this tiny disadvantage, eventually luck will catch up to them and that branch of the family will reach a generation that doesn't have successful babies and will come to an end. Meanwhile, the original baby's sibling who by luck got a tiny advantage and managed to pass it on is more likely to have his or her branch of the family continue, all of whom have inherited the tiny advantage. Within that branch, the babies who randomly get more of the tiny advantage have an even better chance at survival and a hundred generations later, the tiny advantage is on full display and it might become difficult to picture how a baby could survive without it. Until the environment suddenly changes and the advantage is now a liability, and if all the members of that family have come to depend on their advantage and now it's a problem, that family quickly goes extinct. "Look at me, I'm a bird on an island from a whole family of birds who get by just fine and don't waste energy on running away from things because there's nothing to run away from. Wait a sec, somebody brought a cat to the island, I wonder how this will play out...."

A reasonably bright eight year-old who understands babies are not brought by storks (or some similar magical origin) could probably grasp this, assuming there isn't some adult in their lives who is simultaneously telling them contrary nonsense.
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Old 12-19-2019, 10:50 PM
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Oh? It's never struck me a difficult concept. Yes, the Earth has undergone cooling and warming cycles many times, but human industrial activity promises to cause a warming cycle much much faster than any previous cycle, on the order of a few centuries instead of over several thousand years.
I think this is hard to understand for many people, since it requires an understanding of statistics, or that many species will not be able to adapt to these fast changes, or what an average of a 2 degree Celsius increase means.
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Old 12-20-2019, 07:44 AM
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I don't think climate change should be difficult to understand. Start with the greenhouse effect. Does earth become as cold as the vacuum of space at night? No. OK, so we agree that the atmosphere can hold energy as heat. Does sunlight cease to exist when it hits the earth? No. Nothing ceases to exist, visible light becomes infrared light, and radiates heat into its surroundings. What color is carbon dioxide? Infrared, so it reflects infrared light.

Etc.

It's not general relativity. It's the water cycle. My 10 year-old gets it.
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:18 AM
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Perhaps instead of ignorance, "irrational" might be perceived as less offensive.

Works WRT religion as well. Why do such folk choose to be irrational WRT this ONE specific supernatural phenomenon, but purport to be rational and evidence-based in most/all other aspects of their lives?
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:34 AM
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I think everyone has an irrational blind spot, some might be atheists but still believe in ghosts, some may not believe in heaven but believe in reincarnation, some may hold to conspiracy theories. No one is 100% rational all the time.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:15 AM
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Perhaps instead of ignorance, "irrational" might be perceived as less offensive.

Works WRT religion as well. Why do such folk choose to be irrational WRT this ONE specific supernatural phenomenon, but purport to be rational and evidence-based in most/all other aspects of their lives?
I assume you've mever heard the reaction of a theist when told that their believing in something with no evidence - or believing in something against evidence - is not a rational belief. It is not pretty. They say that you are accusing them of being irrational.
I think we've seen instances of this right here, but I'm not going to search for them.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:18 AM
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Most of the people I hang out with are atheists. The question of religion rarely comes up. But, I have friends who think man never walked on the moon. Or that climate change is not real.Not much I can do about the moon, but the climate change thing really gets to me.
I reference the scientists, but no, can't believe it. It's not a religion! It's fact! But oh no, the earth has gone through cold-warm cycles before. So I say well, we know that because of scientists, but you refuse to accept the same scientists when they tell you climate change now is man made.
So, i called them ignorant by choice. That's the way I see it, they choose to be ignorant.
But I was told I was being rude. I didn't say idiot or stupid or even ignorant. I said selective ignorant. How is this bad? It is exactly what they are> Am I wrong here? Was I out of line?
Calling them ignorant is polite. Nastier things to call them would be stupid, liars, or irrational, or too stubborn to see the truth given the evidence.

Maybe you could ask them what they would call a Flat Earther. Saying that the moon landing is a hoax is about as bad as that.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:26 AM
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I assume you've mever heard the reaction of a theist when told that their believing in something with no evidence - or believing in something against evidence - is not a rational belief. It is not pretty. They say that you are accusing them of being irrational.
I think we've seen instances of this right here, but I'm not going to search for them.
Right. Then you can inform them that they are ignorant of the definition of that term.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:35 AM
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My aunt is like this. She is highly educated, great at math, understands real estate and business very sharply............and is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Flat-Earther.
I too have an aunt like this: she was a scientist, a PhD microbiologist for like 50 some years at NIH, but in her retirement she constantly puts up crap on Facebook like the idiotic "moneybags" thing ("There are 5 Saturdays this month. This only occurs every 823 years..."). Basic arithmetic should tell you this is patently ludicrous. It doesn't even remotely pass the sniff test. I usually correct her as politely as I can, but honestly its making me lose respect for her.

She's in her early 80s but she's not suffering any sort of neurological degeneration; she's still just as sharp as ever. I suppose it could be chalked up to just clicking the "share" button mindlessly, but still.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:27 PM
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I think that what you are talking about is confirmation bias. Rather than collecting evidence and then accepting or reject a conclusion depending on whether it is supported by the evidence, they start with a conclusion and then accept and reject evidence based on whether it supports the their per-determined conclusion. It is irrational and non-scientific but it is very very human.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 12-20-2019 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:43 PM
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I think that what you are talking about is confirmation bias. Rather than collecting evidence and then accepting or reject a conclusion depending on whether it is supported by the evidence, they start with a conclusion and then accept and reject evidence based on whether it supports the their per-determined conclusion. It is irrational and non-scientific but it is very very human.
I think where the OP is coming from is stronger than confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is unconscious whereas selective ignorance is completely intentional. Flat-Earth is a perfect example of this. It not just that they don't see counter evidence. The actively say "Round Earthers have never shown X" even after they are repeatedly show science has proven X. Or they do an experiment that a) is counter to their hypothesis and b) shows a round Earth but then deliberately try to explain it away in a way that make less sense.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:15 PM
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Calling them ignorant is polite. Nastier things to call them would be stupid, liars, or irrational,...
I guess I'm sensitive to this word choice, because I generally consider the term "rational Humanist" to be the best description of my personal philosophy/worldview. Allows me to "define" myself differently from identifying one specific supernatural concept that I reject.

Also, in my experience, people are AT LEAST as likely to be offended by being called ignorant, not realizing it solely refers to a lack of knowledge, as opposed to "stupidity."

There is essentially no chance of communicating w/ someone on anything more complex than the current weather, if the parties are not able to agree upon the definition of the terms they use.
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:04 PM
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The difference between science and religion is that science is knowable.

Sure, you and I might not have the necessary knowledge, so we have to just believe scientists when they tell us about climate change or evolution. But that's just our choice. If we really wanted to know the science, we could go to college, get degrees in the applicable sciences, collect and review the evidence, and prove to ourselves that these things are true. We can prove these things are true if we're willing to do the work.

Religion doesn't work like that. Religions are ultimately about faith. Even if you spend years studying the religion, you're still going to reach a point where your learning will stop and you will confront something you can't know through learning. At that point, you will just have to decide whether or not to believe without any evidence if it's true or false.
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:09 PM
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Also, in my experience, people are AT LEAST as likely to be offended by being called ignorant, not realizing it solely refers to a lack of knowledge, as opposed to "stupidity."
But I feel there's a difference between people who are ignorant through a lack of opportunity to know something and people who are ignorant because they have chosen to not know it even if they easily could have. When people choose to be ignorant, I feel they are stupid to have made that decision.
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:39 PM
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There's a fine line between willfully ignorant and stupid, and if you're trying to have a civil debate, stupid should not be a part of it. Have I used the word stupid? Yes, but this is on YouTube and not what you would consider a civil debate.
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:43 PM
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It's pointless to engage with people like that. They won't change their minds, probably ever, and will just annoy you no end. Cut them out of your life and tell them why.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:29 PM
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There really is a qualitative difference between people who refuse to believe the knowable (science) and people who persist in believing in the unknowable (religion).

Saying something is false when it is demonstrably true is not the same as saying something which cannot be truly demonstrated either way, by its very nature, is either false or true. This is something many atheists don't grasp, and obviously many fundamentalist religious don't either.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:43 PM
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I guess I'm sensitive to this word choice, because I generally consider the term "rational Humanist" to be the best description of my personal philosophy/worldview. Allows me to "define" myself differently from identifying one specific supernatural concept that I reject.
That seems a perfectly reasonable name to me. I suspect you can demonstrate how your belief system is rational.
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Also, in my experience, people are AT LEAST as likely to be offended by being called ignorant, not realizing it solely refers to a lack of knowledge, as opposed to "stupidity."

There is essentially no chance of communicating w/ someone on anything more complex than the current weather, if the parties are not able to agree upon the definition of the terms they use.
If someone objects to being called ignorant about something, you can give them a quiz. I always begin conversations with creationists by asking them to define evolution. Often they have been told by their religious leaders that evolution involved absurdities, like dogs turning into cats.

The fact is, we all do irrational things and believe irrational things. This has been proven through experiment. But believing an irrational thing does not make you irrational. Accusing someone of calling you irrational when they point out you hold an irrational belief is a defense mechanism, since it means you don't have to defend the belief. As I said, I've heard this all the time.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:47 PM
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Saying something is false when it is demonstrably true is not the same as saying something which cannot be truly demonstrated either way, by its very nature, is either false or true. This is something many atheists don't grasp, and obviously many fundamentalist religious don't either.
Excuse me. How dies atheism figure here? Atheism is lacking belief since the existence of any god has not been demonstrated. It does not mean that we know no gods exist.
Perhaps you don't grasp atheism.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:54 PM
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A great example of this phenomena is the "Russia Narrative". Despite a Mueller report that showed no American conspired or "colluded" with the Russians to affect the election people still believe the opposite. They still believe this in light of the things revealed in the IG Report. Many major new organizations bought into this "Russia Narrative" despite the evidence to the contrary being readily available. You have many people on this board with the tag line (Fighting Ignorance Since 1973) still believing that the Steele Dossier was verified and the information contained in it was true despite the IG Report blowing it out of the water.
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Old 12-21-2019, 05:35 AM
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Unfortunately climate change (and many other aspects of science) are not easy to understand.
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Oh? It's never struck me a difficult concept. Yes, the Earth has undergone cooling and warming cycles many times, but human industrial activity promises to cause a warming cycle much much faster than any previous cycle, on the order of a few centuries instead of over several thousand years.
The concept is easy get but it sounds too much like a "just so" story.

I believe it but I don't pretend to believe it because of the evidence. The causal links are too complicated, even for a scientist, to put together without years of study and understanding. I believe it because thousands of experts tell me that it's true.

If someone doesn't have this same faith in the experts or if they distrust their motives ("they just want to bring down capitalism", "they are faking the evidence for personal gain") then it becomes easier to grab onto evidence to the contrary, however shaky.

This explanation does not work for the people who deny the moon landing those people are just nuts but I think it does explain the people who deny climate change, evolution, the evidence for Trump's impeachment and the damage that Brexit will do to the British economy.

Motivated reasoning is very powerful.
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Old 12-21-2019, 05:41 AM
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A great example of this phenomena is the "Russia Narrative". Despite a Mueller report that showed no American conspired or "colluded" with the Russians to affect the election people still believe the opposite. They still believe this in light of the things revealed in the IG Report. Many major new organizations bought into this "Russia Narrative" despite the evidence to the contrary being readily available. You have many people on this board with the tag line (Fighting Ignorance Since 1973) still believing that the Steele Dossier was verified and the information contained in it was true despite the IG Report blowing it out of the water.
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Old 12-21-2019, 07:11 AM
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The common-sense argument for climate change (assuming that the person you are talking to has any) is:

The earth is warming up - this is as firmly established as any scientific fact about the weather could possibly be. It's possible to argue about the reasons for it, but not about the temperature rise itself.

Human beings have been dumping tens of billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year - year after year and decade after decade. To imagine that this has no effect is unscientific.

It's possible to argue about what the nature of the effect is, or how large it is, but it is not possible to argue that human activity has no effect. If volcanoes spewing out ash can affect world climate, then many decades of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere can affect world climate. Actions have consequences.

Large corporations whose industries produce greenhouse gases have a strong financial interest in preventing any regulation. They are pouring many millions of dollars all the time into funding anti-climate-change organizations, creating anti-climate-change talking points, publicizing them through media organizations which are friendly to large corporations, and lobbying governments. These are also facts.

This means that any argument about climate change has to be very carefully and critically examined, and allowance has to be made for the propaganda effort financed by corporations who don't want to reduce emissions because that would reduce their profits. That is why it is best to accept the consensus of independent scientists.
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Old 12-21-2019, 07:45 AM
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The concept is easy get but it sounds too much like a "just so" story.
I can see why it might if the person has already decided to reject the idea, in which case I'd be wasting my time trying to explain it. Frankly, life's too short to spend chasing someone's mental goalposts.
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Old 12-21-2019, 08:21 AM
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A great example of this phenomena is the "Russia Narrative". Despite a Mueller report that showed no American conspired or "colluded" with the Russians to affect the election people still believe the opposite. They still believe this in light of the things revealed in the IG Report. Many major new organizations bought into this "Russia Narrative" despite the evidence to the contrary being readily available. You have many people on this board with the tag line (Fighting Ignorance Since 1973) still believing that the Steele Dossier was verified and the information contained in it was true despite the IG Report blowing it out of the water.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to offer into evidence Exhibit A.
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Old 12-21-2019, 11:11 AM
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The selectively ignorant exhibit a sly arrogance. They know something you don't. They can refute your argument in an instant:

Person at church - "Obama is going to take our guns"
Me - "That's not true, he's been in office 8 years and it hasn't happened"
Person at church - "See, that proves my point"
Me - "Huh?"

The selectively ignorant are insiders who know secret things others do not. It's the easy way out. They have full knowledge of complex matters without expending any intellectual effort. If I reject Climate Change then I am smarter than the scientists. If I know the Moon Landing was a hoax then I have superior political insight. Ignorance provides a safe pinnacle from which to view the world. To leave it would require great effort.

However, they universally accept the benefits of modern society while rejecting it's underpinnings. On my first day in the military a Sergeant loudly gave us the word on how to get along:

"...if you are sick, you will go on sick call....I know..them doctors is the dumbest people in the world.....but they will get you well....."
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Old 12-21-2019, 02:32 PM
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A great example of this phenomena is the "Russia Narrative". Despite a Mueller report that showed no American conspired or "colluded" with the Russians to affect the election people still believe the opposite. They still believe this in light of the things revealed in the IG Report. Many major new organizations bought into this "Russia Narrative" despite the evidence to the contrary being readily available. You have many people on this board with the tag line (Fighting Ignorance Since 1973) still believing that the Steele Dossier was verified and the information contained in it was true despite the IG Report blowing it out of the water.
Yes, this is a great example of how people can continue to believe something even when the evidence says otherwise.
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Old 12-21-2019, 03:08 PM
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Excuse me. How dies atheism figure here? Atheism is lacking belief since the existence of any god has not been demonstrated. It does not mean that we know no gods exist.
Perhaps you don't grasp atheism.
I always thought that what you describe is agnosticism. I always tell people that by knowledge I am an agnostic, but by belief an atheist, by which I mean that I believe that there is no god.

Frankly I think I would choose not to hang out with such willfully ignorant people.

I want to comment on this quote from Bryan Ekers:
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I'm not sure about this, either. If the person is open to the concept and doesn't have some religious or religious-like anti-evolution preconceptions, I don't think it would be hard to describe how not all babies are alike; that some babies have a very tiny advantage that gives them a slightly better chance of living long enough to have babies of their own, and if you spin this out over a few thousand generations, you'll see the tiny traits that gave the original babies their slight advantage becoming more and more reinforced in their descendants to the point where the descendants might look significantly different from the original babies. You don't have to invoke genetics or mutation right away, just point out that while a baby inherits traits from its mother and father, it doesn't get them to exactly the same degree as its mother or father - some traits will be more pronounced or less pronounced, and this mix can offer a tiny advantage or a tiny disadvantage. If the tiny-disadvantage baby has babies of their own and passes on this tiny disadvantage, eventually luck will catch up to them and that branch of the family will reach a generation that doesn't have successful babies and will come to an end. Meanwhile, the original baby's sibling who by luck got a tiny advantage and managed to pass it on is more likely to have his or her branch of the family continue, all of whom have inherited the tiny advantage. Within that branch, the babies who randomly get more of the tiny advantage have an even better chance at survival and a hundred generations later, the tiny advantage is on full display and it might become difficult to picture how a baby could survive without it. Until the environment suddenly changes and the advantage is now a liability, and if all the members of that family have come to depend on their advantage and now it's a problem, that family quickly goes extinct. "Look at me, I'm a bird on an island from a whole family of birds who get by just fine and don't waste energy on running away from things because there's nothing to run away from. Wait a sec, somebody brought a cat to the island, I wonder how this will play out...."
It is not that the advantageous trait gets intensified down the generations. It is simpler than that. If a trait is advantageous, that is leads to more descendants, then it will gradually spread throughout the populations. And Darwin did not understand the mechanism. Only Mendel's gene theory made this plausible. And the idea of evolution was widespread even before Darwin. One of its proponents was his grandfather Erasmus Darwin. What made evolution plausible was Darwin's natural selection and Mendel's genes.
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Old 12-21-2019, 03:19 PM
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Maybe, but I tried to describe the way that I would try to explain evolution to someone who didn't know anything (or might vaguely believe some wrong things they heard a long time ago from a religious person or saw on the internet once) about Darwin, Mendel and genetics. I'd rather just cast it as babies who inherit traits from their parents with some randomness, and this randomness means the baby's particular combination of traits might give them a very tiny advantage or a very tiny disadvantage affecting their odds of growing up to have babies of their own. If the person I'm talking to can't even grasp that as a concept, then I'd admit defeat right away.
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Old 12-21-2019, 03:36 PM
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Can't or won't grasp that as a concept, I should note. If I get resistance right off the bat to the idea of inheritance with randomness then I can take that as a good indication the whole process will be a struggle and the person wants to not grapple with evolution. Fine, good luck to them, have a good life.
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Old 12-21-2019, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I always thought that what you describe is agnosticism. I always tell people that by knowledge I am an agnostic, but by belief an atheist, by which I mean that I believe that there is no god.

Frankly I think I would choose not to hang out with such willfully ignorant people.
Agnosticism contains knowledge in its name. Atheism contains belief, or lack thereof. Now, I agree that agnosticism has been commonly used by chicken atheists, since it gives theists the hope that the agnostics are on the fence and can be saved, and so shouldn't be beaten up or worse.
As for belief that god doesn't exist, which god? Lacking belief in a god in the absence of evidence for that god should be the default position, which makes atheism in the sense of lack of belief (dare I say) rational. But while I might have good reason to believe that the western god does not exist, how about the god or gods of a civilization on a planet three galaxies over? Believing that god - and all the nearly infinite number of gods I can imagine do not exist also seems irrational to me.
As for what agnosticism really means, I accept that it is impossible to know that no gods exist, but it is certainly possible to know that one does - at least to the level I know that Paris exists, and I've been there. And god worth its mettle will know how to prove itself to me.
That the wumpus hasn't appeared on my lawn doesn't prove that it's shy - it is evidence that it doesn't exist, especially if the wumpus fans tell me it is all around me. If only I had faith I'd imagine I'd see it.
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Old 12-21-2019, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Maybe, but I tried to describe the way that I would try to explain evolution to someone who didn't know anything (or might vaguely believe some wrong things they heard a long time ago from a religious person or saw on the internet once) about Darwin, Mendel and genetics. I'd rather just cast it as babies who inherit traits from their parents with some randomness, and this randomness means the baby's particular combination of traits might give them a very tiny advantage or a very tiny disadvantage affecting their odds of growing up to have babies of their own. If the person I'm talking to can't even grasp that as a concept, then I'd admit defeat right away.
From my reading, your use of advantageous was in the reproductive success sense, and exactly correct.
However, I've heard many creationists say they accept your definition, but that is only "microevolution" and not "macroevolution" which they mutter means microbes to men, ans if this was supposed to happen in two weeks or so. They are a bit iffy about the mechanisms which prevent speciation and further convergence.
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Old 12-21-2019, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
From my reading, your use of advantageous was in the reproductive success sense, and exactly correct.
However, I've heard many creationists say they accept your definition, but that is only "microevolution" and not "macroevolution" which they mutter means microbes to men, ans if this was supposed to happen in two weeks or so. They are a bit iffy about the mechanisms which prevent speciation and further convergence.
Well, that's one of those ignorant-preconception firewalls I alluded to. It wouldn't shock me if they only know the phrases "microevolution" and "macroevolution" in the context of using them to protect themselves from an accurate understanding of evolution, which they've probably been conditioned to believe is sinful in some way. To me, the most obvious follow-up question is to ask how old they think the Earth is, and if I get a number in the thousands and not the billions, then I consider cutting my losses and walking away.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Agnosticism contains knowledge in its name. Atheism contains belief, or lack thereof.
Incorrect. Agnostics just claim not to know if any gods are worth bothering. Theists bother one or more gods. Atheists don't bother with gods. Just as "bald" is not a hair color, so "atheism" is not a belief system.

Back to topic. People believe exactly what they want to believe. Trying to convince a believer is IMHO a waste of energy. My cousin, not a simple person, won't listen to any atheist talk because her dead baby is in Jesus' arms and that gives her great comfort.

As Thomas Kuhn noted, paradigms die out when all their believers do.
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Old 12-24-2019, 02:09 AM
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Trying to convince a believer is IMHO a waste of energy.
Not necessarily. Most atheists were once christians, and a lot of them converted starting with someone showing how god is not real.
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Old 12-27-2019, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by atimnie View Post
"Trying to convince a believer is IMHO a waste of energy."
Not necessarily. Most atheists were once christians, and a lot of them converted starting with someone showing how god is not real.
Okay, I'll bite. Cite?
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Old 12-27-2019, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Okay, I'll bite. Cite?
I'm assuming "most atheists were once Christians" really just means "most atheists were once religious," which--since most people are religious--doesn't seem terribly unlikely.

It was a long time ago for me, so I don't remember details. But I've heard people in my circle say the "defining moment" was the observation that the 'obviously true' religion was always the local one. From there, it's a pretty short step to start asking questions about whether or not your religion is the only explanation of the world around you, and then whether it's actually the best supported one.

But taking those steps takes work, and thought, and for many people there are more important things in their life. I'd call it less "willful ignorance" and more "willful lack of prioritization." Especially if you're brought up in a place where questioning it has negative repercussions.

Last edited by TimeWinder; 12-27-2019 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 12-27-2019, 03:24 PM
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Okay, I'll bite. Cite?

Go to YouTube, type in atheist, watch a few videos, see how most of them were once religious. I'll give you a few names to start with. Godless Engineer, Jaclyn Glenn, Mr Atheist. Watch their videos, preferably from the beginning, and they'll say that they were once religious. I was a believer once, until I actually read the bible and saw what... no, that rant belongs in the pit, you can draw your own conclusions on god's true character by reading the bible. Further research led to the inescapable conclusion that god does not, and can not, exist, not the god of the bible, not with all the attributes piled on him contradicted by the bible. Omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, he is none of those things in the bible, he's not even competent. He is a made up, badly written, fictional character, just as fictional as any other mythology, and most atheists once believed in him.
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Old 12-27-2019, 03:32 PM
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Plenty of atheists and Christians, by definition, started out as the opposite position, it's why people talk of "conversion" or "de-conversion."
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Old 12-27-2019, 03:35 PM
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Edit: I am a believing Christian but I don't blame anyone for being atheist or non-Christian - the Christian faith does require one to swallow or accept a lot of things that are extremely difficult or contradictory-sounding. And that's before one has to sift through all the chaff to determine what is of God and what are man-made teachings that try to pass themselves off as God's word.
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Old 12-27-2019, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atimnie View Post
Most atheists were once christians, and a lot of them converted starting with someone showing how god is not real.
I find this a tad unlikely. There could be a billion atheists in China alone, and they didn't start out as Christians. Besides, it's not necessary to demonstrate that God is not real to cause a person to abandon theism (assuming that's where they started). It might be enough to point out that theism has no empirical support; that various mystical traditions are arbitrary and interchangeable.

For me personally, it was watching the movie Ghost.
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Old 12-27-2019, 04:39 PM
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Would you think it more likely if I had said that it was someone pointing them to information on how god is not real? And forget China, we're not talking about that, we're talking about atheists converting from religions where religion, especially the Abrahamic religions, is kind of a big deal. And yes, a lot of atheists became atheists starting with someone showing them information that god wasn't real. That was the first step, and it's not unlikely at all, it happens all the time, someone showing them the information, or stumbling on the information themselves.
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Old 12-27-2019, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by atimnie View Post
Would you think it more likely if I had said that it was someone pointing them to information on how god is not real?
As far as I know, it's not possible to show that God is not real. It's not possible to show Santa Claus is not real, either.

Quote:
And forget China, we're not talking about that, we're talking about atheists converting from religions where religion, especially the Abrahamic religions, is kind of a big deal.
Then don't generalize so sloppily. You said "most atheists", not "most atheists who aren't Chinese".

Quote:
And yes, a lot of atheists became atheists starting with someone showing them information that god wasn't real.
I don't get why you're using this as a foundation premise. It's like saying "atheists believe God isn't real" is functionally identical to saying "atheists don't believe God is real", and it isn't.
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Old 12-27-2019, 09:26 PM
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Also many scientists lack practical knowledge. For example you might have a PHD in plant biology but have no clue how to grow things in a garden.
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