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Chatter / Re: Experimenting with penal reform in N. Dakota
« Last post by One Above All on Today at 03:07:10 AM »
So they're finally doing it right? Congrats!
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Chatter / Re: Community
« Last post by Emma286 on Today at 02:13:43 AM »
Regarding community, I think it's a huge shame that some communities so largely depend on believing in imaginary deities to function. :-(

Bullying/abuse is also something that hugely disrupts communities - online and offline. Seems to me, all too often (in work communities) not enough that's actually effective is done about it. Instead targets end up being a scapegoat and all too often are forced to leave their jobs.

I don't think enough, that needs to be done, is always done about this kind of thing in online communities either, going by my personal experience of them.

Thanks for your share, Velkyn, by the way. Can appreciate why those things are needed to help make a community work.

Edit: Bullying also disrupts school communities too. Back in my days of having to attend school, steps taken by staff to tackle this kind of thing were often ineffectual. Admittedly, I don't have any up-to-date knowledge on the kinds of things which are typically done now in schools to tackle this problem. Still, wouldn't be surprised if not a whole lot there has changed.
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Chatter / Re: Community
« Last post by Emma286 on Today at 01:40:45 AM »
Have you ever been a member of a church for an extended period of time?

No I haven't. I've volunteered part time for a church before and currently volunteer part time for a religious charity (who are based office wise within a church) but that's the closest I've got.

Edit: Well, unless you count the occasional times I'd sit through church services/attend Sunday school when one of my grandmothers used to encourage me to go as a kid.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by kaziglu bey on Yesterday at 10:29:12 PM »


I disagree about not worrying too much about goofy ridiculousness like Himalayan Salt Lamps.  Certainly one would put this lower on this list of worried priorities than, say, a bonafide hate group or what not.  But I dislike underestimating the danger of stuff like this.  Bullshit begets bullshit...or, rather, continuing to allow peddlers of bullshit to profit and be handsomely rewarded for bullshit (via both financial gain and gain in influence over others) only continues to promote the normalization of, frankly, bullshit thinking which I feel is much more root cause than religion and the like.
I would agree, we should fight all forms of woo and magical thinking and credulity. Absolutely. I just find religion to be, overwhelmingly, the most egregious offender.

I should point out that I actually like things like Reiki and ASMR. I have some anxiety issues and I find that this stuff honestly helps to calm me down. But I have no unrealistic ideas about it. I don't think that it works because there are actually auras and crap. I just find it relaxing. There is no delusion involved. However, if I actually believed that people had areas and that you could draw energy out of them to improve their moods, THAT would be insane. I fully understand that it is a placebo and it is one that works well for me.

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I agree that beliefs exist on a continuum regarding potential for benefit or detriment.  Very difficult to divide into discrete buckets...
...like mentally ill.  Or delusional.  Which I guess is ultimately my point I suppose - if we agree this is some kind of smooth and broad continuum, I would argue on the grounds that 'being religious' encompasses far too broad of a span of that continuum where it is simply unfair to imply 'being religious' is synonymous with 'delusional'.
Can you name a religion that is free of any elements of delusional or rational ideas?

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I agree that the consequences of beliefs matter.
Excellent.

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I recognize that you're not trying to do that but I am suggesting that creating a distinction between 'religious belief' and 'belief', and helping to promote the existence of that distinction, could inadvertently convince someone else to be able to compartmentalize some subset of their beliefs as free from scrutiny by appeal to that distinction.  Like, I'm not saying that's logically correct or anything like that I'm just saying I feel like the brain kinda works like that.  It is a machine that excels at categorization - after all, that is a process that is essentially a form of pattern recognition.
Just because there will be people who misconstrue an idea, that doesn't mean that the idea shouldn't be known.

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I think I have some refining to do with my initial position.  I don't think artificial distinction accurately captures what's going on in my noggin'.  Subsets of a set certainly have a distinguishing characteristic from it's parent set by virtue of it being a specific subset.  Religious belief qualifies for that I think.  But I still feel that just because religious doesn't necessarily translate well to delusional.  Maybe it is fair to say that a religious person is delusional with respect to a particular feature of reality or somesuch (e.g. talking to their ineffable imaginary friend that seems to be no different from talking to one's self yet still contending that it is a separate and independent entity).
This last part seems pretty consistent with what I am saying. You are still basically calling the person irrational.
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I dunno.  I'm kind of liking One Above All's distinction talking about socially acceptable insanity, though I would lean more towards a wording like 'socially acceptable bullshit'.  Perhaps there is value in calling out, specifically, 'socially acceptable bullshit' but I would contend that would then extend beyond the bounds of just 'religion'.  And maybe there is utility at times to specifically call out those beliefs as being religious in nature.  Though I think there is some exploration to be done regarding the relationship between 'socially acceptable' and 'mentally ill'.  I'm still not sold on establishing a generalized relationship between 'religious' and 'mentally ill'.  I think that continuum you speak of does allow for regions of 'not mentally ill but not devoid of silly beliefs'.  I think you kind of recognize that already based you not outright labeling Gwenyth Paltrow to be delusional.
Oh I would be happy to say she is delusional.

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I'm also with jaimehlers on the more pragmatic aspect of the discussion - does framing a discussion in a manner equating 'religion' with 'mental illness' help at all in the discussion? 
I think it would if it were the truth, which is what I am proposing to investigate. And I would reverse the question and ask what could it would do to refuse to talk honestly about ideas that can have deadly consequences?
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Taking into account the imperfection that is the human cognition engine, perhaps that approach is at least practically a conversational dead-end?  Well...maybe you can find some way to make that work.  I dunno.  If you do though I suspect it would be similar to how One Above All, approaching very specific examples or manifestations of belief, pressing into more details on the underlying core beliefs where those other beliefs stem from.  But I think it's valuable to be cautious about overgeneralizing.
Again though, how to change ideas without challenging them? And to the initial question, how do we distinguish the two? you seem willing to admit that there are irrational components to religion as well as some mental illness, and there certainly is some crossover, so again, what is the difference? Should we not call the mentally ill the mentally ill because it might hurt their feelings?
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Chatter / Experimenting with penal reform in N. Dakota
« Last post by wright on Yesterday at 10:12:56 PM »
A ray of hope in a red state. Some prison administrators in North Dakota are trying a decidedly different approach to prison reform and overcrowding... http://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

From the link:
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The Norway sojourn was the brainchild of Donald Specter, executive director of the Prison Law Office, a California public-interest law firm. In 2011, while visiting European prisons with a group of Maryland college students, Specter was struck by how profoundly the experience altered their views on incarceration. He decided to use some of the legal fees his office had won in its lawsuits against California prisons to bring state corrections chiefs, judges, and lawmakers on similar journeys...

Along the highways of North Dakota, drivers are greeted by billboards advising people to “Be Nice” or “Be Kind.” Fittingly, the state’s incarceration rate of 240 prisoners per 100,000 residents is among the lowest in America, where the national average is 670. (Norway’s rate is 75.) And North Dakota’s prison population of about 1,821 is less than half that of its neighbor to the south. But the “be nice” ethos has come under strain in recent years as rising crime associated with the state’s fracking boom has provoked a new wave of tough-on-crime measures by the Legislature. The number of inmates in North Dakota prisons has increased by 28 percent since the end of 2011. A new 430-bed penitentiary complex built in 2013 was filled to capacity in six months.

By 2015, Bertsch was ready to ship excess prisoners to a private facility in Colorado. In Norway, though, she learned that the farther a prisoner is removed from his home community, the less likely he is to have visitors. And that’s a problem, because multiple studies suggest that inmates who have regular visitors are less likely to reoffend later. So instead of sending prisoners away, Bertsch seized on a suggestion from one of her maintenance employees and leased a ready-made “man camp”—the same portable modular units used to house roughnecks in the Bakken oil fields. The accommodations weren’t nearly as charming as the inmate cottages she and Jackson had toured at Norway’s Bastøy prison, a minimum-security facility located on a picturesque island. But they were a cheap way to ease overcrowding and give the men a dose of self-sufficiency.

It's a decent start, and according to the article multiple states are trying similar alternatives, mostly from a combination of fiscal desperation and finally acknowledging the punishment-first approach just isn't working. Here's hoping such a more reasoned policy in corrections can really get going in this country. It made me think of my favorite Ray Bradbury quote:
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Beyond 2001 we will learn what we should always have known: punishment is not enough.
   Repentance through education might suffice.
   By the gate of each penal school, we will retranslate the Statue of Liberty’s demand: Give me your vacant minds and useless passions, lend me your rootless self-destroyers, let all books be bibles, in monks’ cells where the study of mankind will prevail.
   And when those empty heads are full and those brutal hands can write, let there be tests, and those who at last can read, remember and understand what they read, let the portals open to set them free, punished but replenished, on their feet, not on their knees.
   It’s worth a try.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by kaziglu bey on Yesterday at 10:05:05 PM »

With jdawg, naturally.
Ok. This is cool, I wasn't sure if any of the atheists here would disagree with me.

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Seriously, kaziglu bey, what good will it do to argue that religious belief is the equivalent of mental illness (or a delusion, or insanity)? 
Well, if that were actually the truth, discovering it would be a good place to start.
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What good will it do to try to convince the vast majority of human beings that they are mentally ill (or delusional, or insane)?
Can you show me where I said that we should do this?
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Conflating the two terms will not even convince everyone who is opposed to religion; it has almost no chance of convincing those who are religious themselves.  It is nothing more than attempting to strike a blow against religion for the sake of striking a blow against religion, cheering for atheism and booing theism.
Hardly. There is a highly irrational and delusional aspect of religion, and I think it is relevant to examine its relationship to mental illness. That was what I originally asked wasn't it? How do we distinguish between the two? I have yet to have an answer to this. The fact that this distinction has been avoided is a bit fishy to me. 
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How well does that sort of thing work to convince the members of the other team that they shouldn't support their team?  How well has it ever worked?
People switch teams of all kinds all of the time, usually for reasons that involve self-interest. In other words, survival. But again I never suggested that we were trying to convince people to not support their team. Please show me where I did this.

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This is especially true since the flaws in human cognition - which we all have to cope with - are what are really at fault.  Even if you were correct in what you're saying, you'd still be focusing on a symptom rather than the source.  And worse, treating symptoms won't help here.  Even if religion had never existed in the first place, it wouldn't have made humans one bit less likely to be irrational in the cause of things we believe in.  People can be irrational about science or even rationality itself, fully capable of doing incredibly stupid things based on their beliefs about those things.
I don't see how this supports your side. It seems like you want to admit that religion is in fact irrational, like other forms of belief, but that we just shouldn't call it that, kind of like how some on the left refuse to say things like "Muslim terrorism" because we as a society apparently have agreed that we are not interested in honestly discussing certain ideas because it might hurt someone's feelings.

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If you want to do something about the problem of irrationality, you need to focus on helping people to be more rational, rather than trying to convince them - or anyone else - that it's wrong to be irrational.  Because, sure enough, they'll rationalize their belief so they can dismiss your argument outright, and then where are you?
I agree that it is important to help people be more rational, but I think doing so necessarily requires challenging irrational beliefs. I think that this could be done indirectly in a way by having a person critique and analyze a topic, and notice flaws in the thinking, and things like that until they come to those conclusions on their own. But I'm not sure how much time we have for that. We have  delusional people with strong beliefs who have access to terribly destructive weapons. The time for playing nice is past.
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General Religious Discussion / Re: Problems of being a Social Animal
« Last post by kaziglu bey on Yesterday at 09:36:16 PM »
Questions and random thoughts about the messy problems of trying to achieve fairness or justice for most:

1 - Looking at religious people who are guilty of child abuse or child sexual abuse... it's easy to make fun of the church for covering it up, or to hate Joe Paterno for not doing enough about Jerry Sandusky.   But, if we were in that situation?  Would we do better?    Suppose you are friends with a pastor... you have him over for cookouts... you trust him... you've known him for years... you don't see any signs of weirdness.   Now a kid accuses the pastor of something horrible, and the kid is a troubled kid.  People are uncomfortable but some form of investigation happens and no charges are filed.

Wouldn't you feel like, "Ok, I know that was a crazy accusation, and, the X group investigated (campus police, church elders, therapists, whomever) and no charges were filed so... I guess that means the accusations were false, like I thought they were."
Hah, hell no I wouldn't think that. Having worked for Child Protective Services, and having been married to someone who experienced a lot of horrific abuse, I can tell you that it can be very hard to nail someone for sexually abusing a child. I had a case where there were three intellectually disabled teenage girls living with their (maybe not really) intellectually disabled mother in a rather poor neighborhood. There was a neighbor who was friends with the mom and her husband, who had passed away a few a while ago. When he passed away, this creep starting coming around more often, offering them support in little ways, or bringing gifts for the girls, or taking them out to ice cream. It seemed innocent enough at first, but others started to notice a rather bizarre relationship developing. He would spend extensive amounts of time with these girls, alone. In his house. He, a grown ass man, would have them over for sleepovers. Mom was aware of and approved all of this. She was told by social workers, therapists, psychiatrists, and a lot of people at their church (where he also went)  that this relationship was entirely inappropriate and needed to cease at once. She ignored them for years. Since there was no direct evidence of anything actually happening and there was no disclosure from any of the girls, nothing could be done.

Then, one day, the shit hit the fan. One of the girls, the youngest, was caught filming other girls in the shower and locker room at school with a cell phone camera, a cell phone that he had provided for her to use for this purpose. A state police investigation was opened, and there was an extensive evidence gathering process, all while they were trying to pin the case down as tightly as possible. At this point he had not been arrested yet. Well, one day, I was scheduled to visit this family. I parked just around the corner a bit from their house to organize some of my papers and do a few quick notes as I was like 20 minutes early. Digging through my work bag on my passenger seat I happened to see someone open the door in the house on the opposite side of the street. The perpetrators house. It was the youngest girl. I watched in shock as she walked around the corner to their house. I immediately called their case manager from another agency who was also on her way. We went in and I confronted the girl and the mother, asking where she had been that day. They initially tried saying that she was home all day, but I then mentioned that I saw her leave the perp's house. Mom said that she had told her daughter that she shouldn't go over there. I was able to get those girls out of that house (which was unbelievably disgusting) and the neighborhood and into a foster home together on the other side of the county where they would immediately improve.

What's my point? These kids were being molested and raped by this creep for YEARS all but under plain sight and nothing could be done.

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I'm not trying to excuse this behavior, but, I can think of people in my life that I trust and think highly of... it'd be very hard to believe an accusation like that about them.   False accusations DO happen, and I think it's more often than the statistical 8% you hear about, because some false accusations never get to the point where they are officially filed.
What is the first thing that happens when a serial murderer/rapist/crazy person is exposed? The media finds the neighbor with the least teeth and smallest vocabulary and ask them what the person was like. The response is inevitably "He was a nice guy. He had a tractor and would clear my driveway in the morning after he did his. He had a good job and a college degree. He was always visiting his old mom at the nursing home. Etc. etc." The scariest thing about monsters is that they are just like you and me. Except evil.

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With religious people... they're already conditioned as well to accept weak arguments in defense of something they believe.    Apologetics is a weak defense of faith.   They accept weak defenses, so, a weak defense of a friend or pastor might also be accepted.
Sadly these sheeple are as you say conditioned to accept weak arguments. I would also add that they are generally less educated, more credulous, and more inclined to insulate authority figures from blame.


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2 - Is the religious right something that does a better job than the skeptical left at standing up to extreme right-wing extremism?

I mean...  believers in the military... believers in the Republican party... are more willing to call out the abuses of Islam and ISIS and various farther right-wing groups than it seems many liberals (who are crippled by political-correctness in this double standard) are able to do?
I would actually tend to agree that they happen to recognize right wing Islam as an issue. The problem is that have absolutely ZERO self-contemplation and are thus unaware that their own beliefs are, in many ways, indistinguishable from ISIS. I would agree though that there is a certain faction of the left that has really become kind of a mockery of itself, where we can't talk honestly about ANYTHING without someone throwing a tantrum. I would say that at least a majority of Christian moderates fall on the left, and therein lies the problem. They are all sitting here like "why can't we just all get along?" and we're like "Because Religion" and they are like "OMG you can't attack people's beliefs! Fascist! Racist! Sexist!" because sadly, though our side generally has more intellectuals and intellectualism, we have some people who are on the left in the intelligence bell curve as well.

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If we want Democrats to win elections again against dog-shit Republican candidates, shouldn't it be the party where it's safe to debate and bring up critical points about the Q'uran in the same way that it's safe to do so about the Bible?
Absolutely.

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Additionally... I know, being an atheist, knowing this is my only life... while I'm still brave, and I'd still defend my family...  I'm a lot less likely to participate in anything I can avoid that is going to risk my life for little benefit.   We're also less likely to have big families, we spread our ideals through debate and talking.
I know this is true for me. Not a big risk taker, especially after having been brained on a water slide. I want to have as many years as possible. And we definitely breed less. I think about people on my facebook friends, if you were to separate into religious and atheist and make a ratio of children to adults, the religious side would be like 3 children per adult whereas the atheist side would be like 1 child per three adults. Religious people breed like rabbits and indoctrinate them from birth.

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Are we logical, skeptical thinkers less well equipped to defend our country than those with religious beliefs?    It seems harder for us to grasp and comprehend that some groups simply can not be reasoned with, at all...  their education level is too low and their delusions too great (see ISIS).
I don't think so. While I could certainly never be in the military because I am already a coward with PTSD, there are plenty of atheists in foxholes, and I think that in some ways atheists tend to fight these things on an ideological level rather than an actual "let's go kill the bastards" level, which ultimately is the better battle, as we are really at war with bad ideas, and of course the people who hold them. But if I had to defend myself I would definitely do so. And Pat Tillman was rather famously an out in the open atheist in the military, who, in spite of serving honorably in the badass Army Rangers, opposed the war on ethical grounds, and was seemingly murdered for this and his atheism. General Wesley Clark thinks so. I should point out that Tillman, a non-believer, turned down a multi-million dollar NFL career to serve his country after 9/11. I haven't seen Tim Tebow in fatigues, have you?

---

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3 - When trying to legislate for justice and safety and fairness, how do you avoid taking away personal freedom and motivation?
By keeping religion out of government, and crucifying people like Kim Davis when they thrust it in.

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It seems like people are drawn to government jobs who are completely incapable of using common sense and judgment... and then we're asked to trust the government with providing the most important of services.
This is definitely true at the upper levels. Most people deciding policy have no idea what it is like to be the low level employees implementing that. I think that there are actually a lot of clever people in government, they just happen to be the working class folks who actually know how to tackle problems because they actually have to in their own lives.

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Little girl fined for lemonade stand.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uk-girl-left-tears-shes-fined-selling-lemonade-48769122

Every law designed to promote fairness seems to end up with people finding new and clever ways to abuse that law in their favor (more-so if they are rich and can afford people to help them find loop-holes).
No system will ever be perfect. And particularly in the US, laws and law enforcement are primarily aimed at petty crimes and shit that doesn't really matter: traffic violation, non-violent drug offenses, non-payment of support, retail theft, stuff like that. They come down hard on those folks because they are easily visible and there are lots of them and they can make it look they are being tough on crime, when they are just raking in money while ruining peoples lives for dumb shit. Meanwhile. Hobby Lobby people smuggle a ludicrous amount of valuable, stolen relics into the country, and get a measly fine. Seriously? It's even more pathetic when you consider that they are a self-righteous holier than thou gay hating Jesus company. If corporations are now people why can't we execute them for their crimes? or imprison them? Sure, they put Bernie Madoff away, but only because he scammed OTHER RICH PEOPLE.

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Without using religion and imaginary carrots and imaginary sticks... what is the best way to teach people that it's in their best interests to try to be fair and create a better world for everyone else?   How do you get more people to a higher, more charitable, more giving level of thinking without trying to force it there?
It's honestly not hard. I have taught my son to be fair and honest and generous without religion. It's a matter of teaching kids about empathy, compassion, a sense of responsibility to others, and a drive to exceed. He is on the honor roll. He is a very talented musician. He has the vocabulary and language skills of an adult. he never gets in trouble in school. he helps others without being asked. All that has to be done is to show a child that you should treat other people well in hopes that they will also treat you well. You don't need fairy tales for the golden rule. and its not perfect either, but its very easy to see. Kids can tell when people are being treated unfairly. Hell, animals show evidence of moral behavior. Dolphins and elephants will rescue people and other animals. So will some other primates/monkeys. There are lots of evidence of moral behavior outside of us, and it is because the better we get along and work as a group, the stronger each of us is individually.



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Just some random thoughts...   I'm hoping that smarter folks than I might be able to share some insights.
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Chatter / Re: "What are you listening to now"... take three...
« Last post by jdawg70 on Yesterday at 09:25:57 PM »
I still refer to myself as 'ears with feet' in my head sometimes.  She is the closest thing to a deity that I will recognize.  You should catch up on her output.  American Doll Posse is pretty fantastic.  Abnormally Attracted to Sin was good too.  Night of Hunters is unique but it does not make my regular listening rotation.

Favorite live track (incidentally my favorite released version is indeed this specific live version):

Every single time I see her I hope she plays this in the set.  Batting over 50% so yes she's totally hearing my vibes, which is me totally doing statistics and sciencing right.

Favorite studio track:
<yeah this is unfair for me so I refuse to genuinely answer it but will simply provide a song I'm specifically listening to a lot at this time>
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by jdawg70 on Yesterday at 09:18:18 PM »
I can agree that this is a good point. Beliefs in general, or even the idea of belief, is pretty sketchy. I often make that distinction clear when talking to people, particularly about religion, in that belief is really not very practically valuable and can be very bizarre and unpleasant when it translates into people's behavior. And belief just doesn't really matter. I can't stand when people say "Well I have a right to believe whatever I want" which is basically saying I know that I am wrong and an idiot but I am a  stubborn fool so I don't care. Personally I think that believing what is right is kind of more important than having a right to believe anything. The beliefs of the 9/11 terrorists, the KKK, the Khmer Rouge, and the Catholic Church have far more serious consequences in terms of the human suffering that they cause as opposed to Reiki, or believing that Elvis is still alive, or basically anything Gwyneth Paltrow believes. While some of Paltrow's beliefs could certainly be detrimental to people's health, it's generally not as bad as having a commercial jet crash into the building you are in. So while I would absolutely agree that anything that can be properly classified as a belief could be considered just as irrational as religion and therefore not part of any serious discussion (AKA Hitchens Razor), I don't think that we need to be worrying too much about people who think that Himalayan Salt Lamps are somehow good for you. The latter are typically not organizing into groups that oppress others freedoms (or deny them altogether), or to stone people who don't believe in Himalayan Salt Lamps.
I disagree about not worrying too much about goofy ridiculousness like Himalayan Salt Lamps.  Certainly one would put this lower on this list of worried priorities than, say, a bonafide hate group or what not.  But I dislike underestimating the danger of stuff like this.  Bullshit begets bullshit...or, rather, continuing to allow peddlers of bullshit to profit and be handsomely rewarded for bullshit (via both financial gain and gain in influence over others) only continues to promote the normalization of, frankly, bullshit thinking which I feel is much more root cause than religion and the like.

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Basically what I am saying is that I would see beliefs on a continuum of how harmful they are. Someone who thinks that they can balance their aura by practicing reiki is clearly hold a belief that has no base in reality, but is essentially benign. People who practice reiki aren't typically the group of people who are blowing up abortion clinics. I think then that it is worthwhile to target  religion in this regard, as there are without a doubt plenty of religious people who want to kill us.
I agree that beliefs exist on a continuum regarding potential for benefit or detriment.  Very difficult to divide into discrete buckets...
...like mentally ill.  Or delusional.  Which I guess is ultimately my point I suppose - if we agree this is some kind of smooth and broad continuum, I would argue on the grounds that 'being religious' encompasses far too broad of a span of that continuum where it is simply unfair to imply 'being religious' is synonymous with 'delusional'.

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I would disagree for the reasons that I specified above. The consequences of beliefs matter.
I agree that the consequences of beliefs matter.

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Oh science, this happens all of the time. It drives me nuts. This is not what I am trying to do. I firmly believe that if a person is going to make a claim about the universe, the natural world, history, etc., then even if they are making it from a point of view of “belief”, it is still subject to the same scientific scrutiny and rigor as any other claim. If an idea has no evidence, is not falsifiable,  and is not subject to investigation at all, then it is a worthless idea. Again, Hitchens' Razor.
I recognize that you're not trying to do that but I am suggesting that creating a distinction between 'religious belief' and 'belief', and helping to promote the existence of that distinction, could inadvertently convince someone else to be able to compartmentalize some subset of their beliefs as free from scrutiny by appeal to that distinction.  Like, I'm not saying that's logically correct or anything like that I'm just saying I feel like the brain kinda works like that.  It is a machine that excels at categorization - after all, that is a process that is essentially a form of pattern recognition.

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I will be curious to see if you have changed your mind on the relevance of this distinction. It's not that any irrational belief is more or less or delusional, but what is the body count for that idea. That's what matters.
I think I have some refining to do with my initial position.  I don't think artificial distinction accurately captures what's going on in my noggin'.  Subsets of a set certainly have a distinguishing characteristic from it's parent set by virtue of it being a specific subset.  Religious belief qualifies for that I think.  But I still feel that just because religious doesn't necessarily translate well to delusional.  Maybe it is fair to say that a religious person is delusional with respect to a particular feature of reality or somesuch (e.g. talking to their ineffable imaginary friend that seems to be no different from talking to one's self yet still contending that it is a separate and independent entity).

I dunno.  I'm kind of liking One Above All's distinction talking about socially acceptable insanity, though I would lean more towards a wording like 'socially acceptable bullshit'.  Perhaps there is value in calling out, specifically, 'socially acceptable bullshit' but I would contend that would then extend beyond the bounds of just 'religion'.  And maybe there is utility at times to specifically call out those beliefs as being religious in nature.  Though I think there is some exploration to be done regarding the relationship between 'socially acceptable' and 'mentally ill'.  I'm still not sold on establishing a generalized relationship between 'religious' and 'mentally ill'.  I think that continuum you speak of does allow for regions of 'not mentally ill but not devoid of silly beliefs'.  I think you kind of recognize that already based you not outright labeling Gwenyth Paltrow to be delusional.

I'm also with jaimehlers on the more pragmatic aspect of the discussion - does framing a discussion in a manner equating 'religion' with 'mental illness' help at all in the discussion?  Taking into account the imperfection that is the human cognition engine, perhaps that approach is at least practically a conversational dead-end?  Well...maybe you can find some way to make that work.  I dunno.  If you do though I suspect it would be similar to how One Above All, approaching very specific examples or manifestations of belief, pressing into more details on the underlying core beliefs where those other beliefs stem from.  But I think it's valuable to be cautious about overgeneralizing.
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Religion & Society / Re: Religious Belief vs Mental Illness
« Last post by jaimehlers on Yesterday at 08:57:24 PM »
I'm not quite sure who you are agreeing with?
With jdawg, naturally.

Seriously, kaziglu bey, what good will it do to argue that religious belief is the equivalent of mental illness (or a delusion, or insanity)?  What good will it do to try to convince the vast majority of human beings that they are mentally ill (or delusional, or insane)?  Conflating the two terms will not even convince everyone who is opposed to religion; it has almost no chance of convincing those who are religious themselves.  It is nothing more than attempting to strike a blow against religion for the sake of striking a blow against religion, cheering for atheism and booing theism.  How well does that sort of thing work to convince the members of the other team that they shouldn't support their team?  How well has it ever worked?

This is especially true since the flaws in human cognition - which we all have to cope with - are what are really at fault.  Even if you were correct in what you're saying, you'd still be focusing on a symptom rather than the source.  And worse, treating symptoms won't help here.  Even if religion had never existed in the first place, it wouldn't have made humans one bit less likely to be irrational in the cause of things we believe in.  People can be irrational about science or even rationality itself, fully capable of doing incredibly stupid things based on their beliefs about those things.

If you want to do something about the problem of irrationality, you need to focus on helping people to be more rational, rather than trying to convince them - or anyone else - that it's wrong to be irrational.  Because, sure enough, they'll rationalize their belief so they can dismiss your argument outright, and then where are you?
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