God knows where they got that idea from.

Discussion (29)¬

  1. MarkyWarky says:

    Hmm, so why does confirmation bias work to strengthen our atheism as well, if we let it?

    I’m not convinced boys

  2. MarkyWarky says:

    P.S. Scary moment – turned my phone on to look something up for a Muslim colleague, and had the boys still on screen.

    Entirely unconnected – is having a fatwa on your head as bad as people claim? Asking for a friend 🙂

  3. Jesus F Iscariot says:

    NEWSFLASH: Warlord camel jockey diagnoses barmaid’s theophobia. PBUH fer sure.

  4. Son of Glenner says:

    I always look forward to the new J&M weekly strip, expecting it to be witty, cutting-edge and hard-hitting. And, amazingly, what do I always find?


  5. Rebecca says:

    Son of Glenner, it’s almost miraculous, isn’t it?

  6. MarkyWarky, I’m sure my confirmation bias strengthens my atheism every time so religious person thanks god for something, so, yes. Most probably.
    Just dropping in to wish all my mates at the C&B a very happy New Year and all the best in 2021.
    Author, once again, congratulations on keeping it fresh. I’m still considering the layers of meaning in your punch line this time.

  7. Darwin Harmless says:

    Testing just to see if I can get my avatar back. It’s been too long.

  8. Author says:

    Good to see you, DH. Happy New Year to you, too. I hope you are well.

  9. Oozoid says:

    MarkyWarky, I sense a fatwa on my head – from my ‘liberal’ ‘socialist’ ‘atheist’ ‘friends’ – for simply expressing a preference for Brexit! Confirmation bias is alive and well, especially in the Woke world.

  10. Donn says:

    For atheism? I don’t think so. Assuming we mean by that, “absence of theism”, then the support for that is an absence of information that would make a compelling case for some deity. Instead of confirmation bias here, we have a tendency to suppose that events have natural causes, whether we understand what those causes are or not, and I think that isn’t the same thing.

  11. Someone says:

    Speaking of masks, shouldn’t those dopes be wearing one?
    Or are they going to pull the “God will protect me” card?

  12. Laripu says:

    Welcome back, Darwin Harmless.

    Happy New Year. Actually, happy arbitrary demarcation of time!

  13. MarkyWarky says:

    @Donn, oh I think it’s very dangerous to think that your beliefs, or lack of them, are not subject to confirmation bias.

    The level of bias may well, as you suggest, depend on your take on atheism. Mine isn’t just based on a lack of evidence for, it’s also based on a massive amount of evidence against, which is, if I let it be, subject to confirmation bias. Oddly, many atheist claim to be simple “not convinced because no one’s shown me good evidence” types, while at the same time frequently offering evidence against.

    Kind of “you say the sky’s yellow, but I don’t believe you because I’ve never seen the sky”, vs “you say the sky’s yellow, but I don’t believe you because I’ve seen it and it’s blue”.

    Even if it were only a lack of evidence for though, confirmation bias could also lead you to reject some evidence for – your “compelling” may not be the same as the next person’s. You may judge and in turn reject all of the available evidence for gods in the light of your own bias.

    The best tools to protect oneself against one’s own confirmation bias have to be one’s awareness of it, and the use of critical thinking skills. The minute you think your own beliefs are not subject to it, you’ve failed to think critically.

  14. M27Holts says:

    Think I have a fatwa on me TBH…see y’alll

  15. Donn says:

    We’ve been here before of course. For me, there isn’t any meaning in “god doesn’t exist” without a definition of god, so what is it? Well, I’m willing to say with some confidence that the most preposterous ideas about it are false, but as the religious have been pressed on this ground over the millennia they get more creative. Who cares. I lack any positive belief that god exists, which is sufficient for my purposes. I arrive at that by default, simply having no compelling reason to believe. I’ve already suggested that miracles are not such a reason because of a lack of confirmation bias; I also believe that my failure to heed the voice of god in my head, is similarly due to a simplest-explanation belief that to the extent I might perceive voices in my head, they originate from inside my head. It’s true that such assumptions explain everything about our conclusions, but confirmation bias implies to me that something is confirmed, and we’re talking here about a “bias” if you must that confirms nothing.

  16. postdoggerel says:

    Confirmation bias came a bit late for Alfred Wegener’s theories.
    Continents moved like ships on an ocean?
    Surely, Alfred, you can not be serious.

  17. MarkyWarky says:

    I get where you’re coming from @Donn, but I don’t think there’s any need to get bogged down in the “we need a definition before we can say it doesn’t exist” thing. The gods that I believe do not exist are every god ever proposed to me as such by an established religion. And the evidence against doesn’t need to be complex, it simply needs to be that the model proposed doesn’t fit the reality I see about me. And that is where CB can come in if I’m not careful, because I could potentially see “no god” in what’s around me, simply because that’s what fits with my internal self, when in fact the simplest explanation, or at least a reasonable one, might be “god” (the very definition of CB).

    Where the definition of god does become important is when someone simply renames a natural phenomenon as “god”, the classic ones being “I see god in all of nature/all of us”, and “evolution is gods tool for creation”. Well, OK, if you want to just use a different name for what’s real, so you can say there is a “god”, go knock yourself out, that’s really no concern of mine; you are at least accepting the reality, even if by a different name.

    Applies too to those who say there are things science can’t explain (which is true), so therefore god. That’s just a placeholder for future knowledge, and I’m happy to let them use it.

    What I actually hold a negative belief in (believe there is not), is gods of the types that the organised religions describe, together with all the unknowable detail they claim as truth.

  18. Son of Glenner says:

    Happy New Year to all regulars at the old Cock & Bull pub.

    And let us pray that 2021 will be better than 2020. If it is better, that will prove that prayer works. And if it is worse, or at least no better, that will prove that we were not praying hard enough.


  19. Donn says:

    By tossing that out as “a different name for what’s real”, you’re kind of reducing the dimensions of religion to suit your narrative.

    But I have to admit I got suckered into a conceptual error in the whole concept here, starting at the cartoon. Confirmation bias is at best marginally relevant to religion, because the whole point is to take it on faith. Acceptance of observable fact is not religion, whether it conforms to a religious belief or not. If I observed Jehovah lurking in the clouds and concluded that after all there is such a thing as a deity, that would not per se make me religious. We aren’t ever presented with this dilemma, because after all there isn’t any Jehovah, so it’s kind of hypothetical what would happen, but I think it would be sort of disastrous for religion as we know it, to have their gods become perceptibly real. The whole business revolves around faith.

  20. Deimos says:

    Happy new unit of time to you all.
    The only positive thing that came out of this year is the redefining of “2020 vision” instead of clear vision it now means “seeing things through a broken pair of cheap excrement coated goggles”.

    May this year be less of a borisup than 2020, have a positive year my fellow denizens of this rare, gentle, kind place.

  21. MarkyWarky says:

    Hi again @Donn :).

    I don’t think I’m reducing the dimensions of religion to suit my narrative, I think I’m adjusting my narrative to suit the religion I see! When people say they “see god in all of us”, that doesn’t bother me, as it is, in the context I’m thinking of, the same as me saying I see good in all of us. It’s just semantics, and I’m not bothered by semantics.

    But when my sister-in-law says she prays every time she gets to work, and as a result always finds a parking space, and therefore there absolutely IS a god in all the detail that her religion describes, that’s when I have a problem with both her beliefs and the confirmation bias she’s allowing to block any critical thinking, and to bolster the faith you talk about.

    I’d welcome it if the religious WERE honest enough to agree their beliefs are just blind faith, at odds with observable fact, but they never do. Instead they claim to KNOW, and if challenged (and I suspect internally too), use confirmation bias to support that “knowledge”.

  22. Donn says:

    See, that’s the thing, the whole vehicle is powered by faith, from which they “know.” The answers to prayer and stuff are just gravy, and if you look at the literature on the subject, I think you’ll find that you’re a better believer if all proofs have been denied to you. It’s what I’m saying: confirmation is no help at all, it’s rather at odds with real faith.

    Anyway, while I still think you’re dodging the God question with your interpretation of it as semantics, but anyway it isn’t a real question until clearly defined.

    What I think is clearly enough defined, and apparently universal to religions, is a “soul” that persists after end of life. Clear enough to disbelieve, as I do, and it’s so central to religion as we know it, that I think it’s a fair test of atheist vs. agnostic vs. religious.

  23. Rrr says:

    Donn, 5:01pm — “The whole business revolves around faith.”
    Prexzacly! Obsessed with mythstery, the struggle is to believe six impossible things before breakfast every day. And that is why it is so important to catch’em young — because it takes a lifetime to achieve. Also explains the vehemence some will exhibit in extinguishing any glimmer of doubt.

  24. Donal Feran says:

    To everyone hanging out in this here pub:


  25. Troubleshooter says:

    Confirmation bias is not a problem, but rather a god-given interpretive filter for strengthening faith.

    Of course it is … and it accomplishes this goal by rejecting FACTS.

  26. Jim Baerg says:

    I tend to see ‘faith’ as dialing confirmation bias up to 11 & pretending that is a good thing

  27. jb says:

    I don’t think it is at all correct to say that the “whole point” of religion is that you take it on faith. Religious apologetics are full of “proofs” of the existence of God and the truth of particular religions, and those proofs are intended to be taken seriously. While Christianity from the beginning has valorized pure faith, to a large degree the current emphasis on faith is simply a fallback position that has been forced on Christianity as it has become more and more clear to more and more people that the proofs just don’t hold water.

  28. Donn says:

    Well, sure. If you’ve been persuaded that the facts point to a soul for each, and a deity out there herding them, if you aren’t automatically religious by my definition, you’d certainly be more susceptible to it. But as you imply, that’s a sort of dark ages proposition where people accept all kinds of magic. I suppose the old religious experience must have been in some ways more potent, since there isn’t any conundrum at the root of it.

    But our modern world isn’t like that, and religious faith lingers on. Faith in the preposterous turns out to have considerable power to hold people, and for me that reveals the fundamental basis for religion.

    If I for example explain that the sun is awesome and serves as the fundamental source in our world and document a whole set of rituals and songs to celebrate that, I’m not talking religion until I introduce some belief that is clearly counterfactual. And to the extent this faith requires confirmation from real world sources, it’s a weak faith and thus a weak religiosity.

  29. Laripu says:

    Paul Simon wrote:

    Faith is an island in the setting sun
    But proof, yes
    Proof is the bottom line for everyone

    My background is in mathematics. I’m all about proof… or at least evidence.

    Paul Simon is part of what I call the Jewish trinity: Bob Dylan is the father, Paul Simon is the son, and sadly, Leonard Cohen is the holy ghost.


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