Yeah, why not. Let’s do this.

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Discussion (35)¬

  1. BillR says:

    Good one.

  2. Mockingbird says:

    Oh, I just LOVE this one. Well done all.

  3. Laripu says:

    Author, thanks for the download of “Ha ha!”

    About the idea in the cartoon:

    Of course there are stupid people who believe in god and also stupid people who don’t believe in god.

    But I’ve known some very intelligent people, who are aware of the scientific and archeological evidence that contradicts the bible, and yet who nevertheless profess a literal belief in it.

    There are certainly many other very intelligent people who also profess a belief in a benevolent Judeo-Christian deity, albeit not a literal belief. Maybe they have doubts about the creation and flood myths, but they’re pretty much ok with everything else.

    What that tells me is that (at least among intelligent people) belief isn’t a matter of information or intelligence, but rather a psychological tendency, perhaps fear of death and a yearning for safety. Who wouldn’t yearn for safety in this life, which always ends with suffering and personal annihilation?

    Maybe the psychological difference is that some will not yield to that yearning, while others are powerless against it. I can’t judge them for the yearning or the belief, but I oppose them if they use legal measures or violence to abridge my human rights.

  4. M27Holts says:

    Laripu, just reading about gravitational waves, one senior physicist had a mormon upbringing and although he was himself an atheist, he didn’t see conflict between theology and science and had colleagues who were devout believers. I think his consession is purely political as he cannot possibly think (personally) that his colleagues can commit honestly to ideas that have no possible testable hypothesis…

  5. Forteatwo says:

    Sorry Barmaid, I cannot agree. Stupidity is defined as behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgement. Are J & M not the poster boys for such behavior, at least some of the time.
    Me thinks our lovely barmaid is taking care not to marginalize or insult them through use of the term, to which one can agree.

  6. DC Toronto says:

    Laripu – there are 2 issues with your statement that the people you know are intelligent.

    First would be that you have not defined intelligence. Does it refer to a good memory? Knowledge of a subject? Emotional intelligence?

    Second, I would argue that intelligence in one or more area does not qualify as intelligence overall. Your friends may have significant knowledge and insight into some things, but overall they are not intelligent enough to reject a thesis with virtually no proof whatsoever. That is not the mark of intellgience.

  7. paradoctor says:

    I call it the ‘crook-or-fool dilemma’; namely, is the guy saying those stupid things a fool, believing the nonsense, or a crook, peddling nonsense to fools? My answer is that it doesn’t matter. Everyone lies to a crook, so they become fools; and fools lie to themselves, and so they become crooks. Crook and fool meet in the middle.

  8. Smee says:

    Laripu and DCToronto. The main problem that has plagued our human endeavours since the early seventies, is ideological and cultural relativism! The idea that all ideas carry equal weight! This ideological cancer was created in American academia in the early seventies and has metastised throughout academia worldwide! To the point where it is now almost impossible to call out backward and dangerous ideologies for what they are!

  9. Uncle Roger says:

    @Laripu — Yes, there are otherwise intelligent (and even educated) people who believe in silly stuff.

    The point of the comic is that, if you’re going to believe silly stuff that makes no sense without question, whether or not you actually are stupid, you might as well be stupid.

    That is, if you’re not going to use your intelligence, you might as well not have it at all.

    Sure, a Land Rover is the best 4×4 by far, but if all you’re ever going to do is to drive down the road to the local pub, you might as well have a cheap Toyota instead.

  10. Mockingbird says:

    @Uncle Roger – well put. I know a well educated woman who parades around in a burka. As I tell her, she might just as well be stupid.

  11. Prfesser says:

    A concerted effort should be made by the nonreligious community to avoid the term “believe” which suggests faith, and use “think” instead.

    Not “I do not believe in a supreme creator” but “I don’t think there is a supreme creator”.

    Theists consider that faith is a virtue. Non-theists need to speak as though it is not.

  12. hotrats says:

    I can’t subscribe to any definition of intelligence that does not include intellectual honesty, or that does include intellectual hypocrisy. To hold as emotionally true that which you know intellectually to be false, requires watertight bulkheads in the mind. Or to put it another way, being intelligent, but also functionally schizophrenic.

  13. Living Example says:

    @hotrats and others, I agree wholeheartedly with the analysis. I think the specific term for holding conflicting views is “cognitive dissonance”. And while I don’t disagree that there is significant mental work required to hold conflicting intellectual and emotional viewpoints, I would like to offer up an example with a different conflict. This is intended to maybe offer insight into how this works, but in a different context.

    Having depression following from child abuse, I have studied psychology and psychiatry, I have done therapy for 30 years (not continuously). I have friends and family that love me. I intellectually *KNOW*, without a doubt, that when I have thoughts of worthlessness and futility, that is all they are and I don’t have to believe them. Despite that, I struggle daily with catching myself repeating to myself what I was taught as a child, which is that I’m a worthless unlovable disgusting wretch. I understand why that is wrong. I know what exercises to do to stop the thoughts and try to redirect my thinking and feeling. Regardless, everytime I have those thoughts, I really feel like I should just check out because they’re right. Knowing and understanding that those thoughts are wrong and why, even after 30 years, still doesn’t stop me from feeling and believing the abuse. If I can’t stop doing something so horrible to myself, I can certainly understand how it could be even harder to convince the brain to let go of the pretty promises of faith.

    Once the brain is so thoroughly convinced of an idea from childhood, it takes a phenomenal amount of work to catch it repeating outdated thoughts and squash/correct them every. single. time. It often leaves me wondering if I’d have been able to give up faith for reason had I not be raised without faith. My struggles to give up my depression would indicate otherwise. Certainly I realized long ago that the only way I was going to beat depression would be by dying of something else.

    I can’t fathom what the faith equivalence of that is, but can’t imagine that it is any easier to resolve.

  14. M27Holts says:

    Mockingbird, what if her choice of garment is due to sexual proclivity? I know several men who wear ladies undies for the thrill..! Surely it might be a reasonable hypothesis?

  15. Laripu says:

    DC Toronto, I don’t think I need to define intelligence, because this is an informal chat. But I could have been more specific.

    The people I’m talking about are my colleagues. I’m a software engineer, as are they. They demonstrate the ability to work through complex problems involving logic and mathematics, to model some aspects of reality. The tools they use include fluid dynamics, fast Fourier transforms, computer graphics packages like OpenGL, multiple computer languages (C , C#, Java) in multiple operating systems, among them Windows and Linux. They are also familiar with some special kinds of hardware whose operating parameters must be well understood.

    You can’t even begin to work your way through this level of knowledge without patience and intelligence. And yet, some of these people are church-going Catholics, a turban-wearing Sikh, born-again Baptists, maybe a Hindu, and probably some Asian religions. (It’s not clear about the latter, because the Asians don’t ever mention religion.)

    One guy I knew believed the creation myth literally, that the world was about 6000 years old. He wasn’t just smart, he was also a really nice guy, volunteering for many good activities that help people.

    My point is only that some people seem to need this mode of thinking, belief in fairy tales. If we want to understand it, characterizing it as “stupid” is too blunt a tool. You can’t split an atom with a baseball bat.

    It is important to understand it, not merely deride it, because we would certainly like to head off some of the tragic consequences of belief: Inquisition, Georgetown, Applewhite/Heaven’s Gate, Koresh/Brench Davidian, and the Charlie Hebdo murders, to mention a few. That’s not even counting the thousands who let their children die of preventable disease because they believe praying over them is better than medical help.

    Ok, now that I’ve blurted that out, maybe this is the wrong forum for it. There’s a place for funny stuff too, and J&M are relentlessly funny, week after week. Je suis barmaid. 🙂

  16. theovinus says:

    It seems to me that it makes little sense to apply labels to people, as opposed to ideas and actions. As the preceding posts illustrate, it’s not unusual for persons of clearly demonstrated intelligence to say and do stupid things. In fact it’s probably difficult to find anyone who never, or very rarely, says or does stupid things.

    We can objectively assess the rationality of an assertion or an action, but when we try to carry that over to a person, we probably can’t even agree what that means. What is a smart person, one who never, ever, says or does anything stupid, or just rarely? Or is it just someone who, at some point, said or did something clearly smart? Same with other labels like “honest” or “fair” or anything else that can’t be objectively measured like height or weight.

    Since we have little or no insight into other people’s innermost thoughts, the best we can do is use labels as shorthand for probabilities: if we think it likely that person will exhibit X behavior in any future encounter, we think of them as “X” and then promptly read much more into that label than we have any right to.

  17. M27Holts says:

    Laripu, hope that young earth creationist didn’t have to unit test his work with dates…clearly he has form in such matters and couldn’t be trusted…

  18. two cents' worth says:

    Some of the beliefs* that J&M profess are stupid in and of themselves, but these beliefs have spread successfully for centuries, making the clergy quite powerful, especially in the past. If the goal of J&M (or their followers) has been to get power, they have not been stupid–the beliefs they chose to spread turned out to be popular. However, their power has been declining. They might regain some power by promoting the beliefs that still have some appeal (and remaining silent about the others), but if they keep insisting on the literal truth of their scriptures, there will always be some people who see through them.

    *Not all of their beliefs are stupid. For example, the Golden Rule is a good idea.

  19. Son of Glenner says:

    Perhaps we could recast the old question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” as “Why are bad things believed in by good people?”.

    Only problem: to whom should this question be put?

    Laripu: Moi aussi suis barmaid!

  20. Deimos says:

    I think its a mistake to put J and M, in the same boat (but its excellent to see them cohabitating). Based on the user manuals for followers of both men they really didn’t have much in common.
    Jesus 1.0 – smalltime Jewish preacher who preached for about 3 years in 1st century Roman occupied Judea. Small number of mostly male followers, these included his mother and possibly other family members. Never married or left his own area of the Roman Empire. Executed due to allegedly preaching radical ideas.
    Mo 1.0 – smalltime Arabian preacher of a “new” religion which appeared be an inaccurate blending of several local folk traditions with established religions. Believed that all followers of “the book” shared a common God. Not popular with local authorities but had a moderate following which included several relatives. Married several times in local polygamous tradition. After reaching his target number of followers he was upgraded to.
    Mo 2.0 local warlord and bandit who started a period of violent bloody infighting that has yet to end. War crimes he was accused of include genocide, slavery, mass rape and widespread violence against the innocent. Married many more times including marriage to a child under the ago of ten. Attempts by local governments to rollback to Mo version 1 were unsuccessful.

    Sorry this is so long but I got a bit carried away. Feel free to ignore my rant, probably caused by too much Sky news.

  21. Mockingbird says:

    Deimos – Yep! Religion, faith, belief (ie; all forms of “guesswork”) make strange bedfellows.

  22. jb says:

    Possibly of interest: Unconscious learning underlies belief in God, study suggests

    Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University.

  23. Laripu says:

    M27Holts – that young earth creationist is dead. He made a terrible blunder. He had been learning to pilot an ultralight. His parents were flying from it of town in to visit him, and he wanted his first flight under his belt, presumably so he could show his parents what he’d accomplished. He made some errors, hit electrical wires and was killed. His parents learned this on arrival.

    That was almost exactly 8 years ago. I attended his funeral.

    On the one hand, he was a creationist. On the other hand, he was an intelligent and well-intentioned person, a really sweet guy in many ways.

    The kind of religious people we should worry about aren’t the ones like him, but rather the ones who kill abortion doctors, or kill cartoonists, or pray over their ill children rather than seeking medical help.

    Is there a way to understand the differences in psychology between people whose religion motivates altruistic service to humanity and those whose religion motivates murder, like the Charlie Hebdo killers?

    Maybe it’s unrelated to religion, since some atheists are altruistic and some are murderers.

  24. HaggisForBrains says:

    Thanks for sharing, Living Example. I’m so sorry to hear how bad a childhood you had, but I find your analogy very enlightening. I hope with help and with time you may eventually overcome your feelings of worthlessness and futility. You’re still young enough to have a chance, I hope. Good luck, and take care.


  25. Someone says:

    Religion retards rational thought. It is thus safe to say that piety, cult mentality and/or extremist practices lead to stupidity and ignorance.
    People who don’t believe in such things might be denigrated and deemed conceited when we make our opinions known, but whose time, money, relationships, reputation, etc. has been ultimately wasted in the grand scheme of things?
    The religious can have their insular viewpoints but it won’t save them in the end, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves otherwise.

  26. Donn says:

    It’s a matter of degree, isn’t it? I mean, compartmentalization is an essential skill for all religious people, that allows them to get along in the real world, while on the other side of the partition believing whatever nonsense. Otherwise, you can’t just “follow” Jesus or Mo, you have to be another Jesus or Mo.

    My guess is that it works the best, in terms of outcomes, for those who are able to compartmentalize it the most. They can take their children to the hospital, get along with Sodomites and heathens, masturbate without excessive guilt, and yet they can tap whatever weird benefit you get from an internal God-daddy, which by most accounts is way better than drugs. I would guess that some kinds of intelligence help a lot here.

    Interesting story about implicit pattern learning. Maybe these more proficient people are able to see the hand of God in everything. On the other hand, it’s depressing to me to consider that there’s a faculty here that I may be very weak on, that may if nothing else relate to certain aspects of foreign language acquisition.

  27. Troubleshooter says:

    Hmmm, let’s see: arguing over alleged facts or beliefs, frequently regarding minutiae, virtually 100% of which cannot be substantiated objectively, yet said arguments can give rise to massive crusades or jihads, depending on whose side you’re on. If not on that scale, there can be fatwas which react to something as simple as a book or a drawing or flat-out murder in response to a personal medical procedure which should not in any way impact anyone external to it.

    Yep … starting to sound pretty stupid, guys.

  28. Son of Glenner says:

    I’d like to make some sort of comment on this topic, but I’m too stupid to think of anything worth saying.

  29. Mockingbird says:

    SoG – Sadly, my tomcat has joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. What can I do?

  30. M27Holts says:

    Postdoggerel. That is more likely to lose biden the election. I could be wrong but isn’t 95% of the electorate made up of ignorant relgious buffoons?

  31. postdoggerel says:

    M27Holts I think even they (the religious buffoons) may have effing had it with that clown. But you never effing know. My dad flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force in world war two. As a consequence, I and my brother are entitled to national health care coverage if we should decide to migrate there. I hope they don’t put up a wall before that, to protect themselves from our toxic brethren. Those fascist pigs.

  32. M27Holts says:

    Suppose. But with only 4% being clever enough to identify as atheist I can’t be far wrong…

  33. Mockingbird says:

    Laripu – “US decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace,”

    It will continue to do so for some time as people become better educated. It cannot do otherwise, it is called “evolution”.


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