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We can create various types of arguments that will work on various types of people[1], but we will never have a "complete victory". These people are like the "bluepills" in the Matrix. Their brains simply cannot handle the fact that everything they've dedicated their lives to is wrong, so they will deny it until they die.
 1. Note that humans are individuals, so no argument will ever have a 100% success rate, regardless of how good it is.

Sure, they can believe whatever ridiculous things they want, just like the New Agers and the UFO cultists and the 2012 apocalypse/sudden planetary enlightenment believers and the New World Order/Illuminati conspiracy theorists and all the rest.  And their stubbornly-held ridiculous ideas should be marginalized when it comes to anything to do with how society should be run, just like all the rest.  Notice that there is no "complete victory" over any of those things.  Skeptical Inquirer has not worked itself out of a job and there is no indication that it will in the foreseeable future.

No one here expects that mockery or any other tactic will result in a "complete victory" where everyone becomes a Bayesian Master.  You're arguing against a straw man.

Shame can come without ridicule.

Sure it can.  It can also come with ridicule.

Imagine this:
You are a theist. You and an atheist start talking. He finds out you're a theist and yells "Hey, your beliefs are fucking retarded, man! Seriously? We all came from a rib-woman and a dust-man? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Here, have some rational arguments against that."
How would you react?

I would have to overcome embarrassment, especially if there was an audience, and the mockery was even a little bit more clever than that.  Then, I would feel a need to try to explain why Young Earth Creationism is actually sensible and scientific.  This need to overcome the "giggle factor" would impede my ability to evangelize, or get Creationism taught in the schools.  On the other hand, if I could be a Republican candidate for President of the United States, and raise my hand along with most of my competitors when we're asked if we reject evolution, and I'm still a condendah after the end of the next news cycle, then I'm already on third base.

I know what I'd do. After the first sentence, I'd have ignored him.

Yeah, and the kind of hardcore believers you're talking about never ignore brilliantly argued, fully-referenced logical and evidential arguments against religion.  All through this thread you've been emphasizing that the theists will never, never, NEVERNEVERNEVER change their minds because they [Jack Nicholson]CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH![/Jack Nicholson].  And then you hold up, as a bugaboo, that they might ignore us if we mock them?

Yes, fact-proof faith-heads won't change their minds.  We. Get. It.  Really.  This is precisely why mockery should be in our tool-set.  You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into to begin with.  They hold their beliefs for non-rational "reasons," such as childhood indoctrination, fear of death, and group conformity.  Mockery (among other things, like passionately expressed moral outrage) is effective at changing beliefs and actions in non-rational people because it works on the non-rational levels where their minds function.  One of the primary non-rational factors shaping what people believe and do is the perceived beliefs of their fellow humans.  See: The Asch Conformity Experiments.  Collective mockery of a belief sends a powerful signal: "This Belief Is Ridiculous."  For people who willfully shelter their beliefs from rational scrutiny, such non-rational signals are the only way to get through.  If the person wants to guard their belief from ridicule and social opprobrium, they will be more likely to hide it, except in the presence of others who share it, i.e. in church.  Which means: they'll be a lot less likely to be running around proclaiming that society ought to be run on the basis of that belief. 

At the very least, they will feel a need to come up with a rational fig-leaf to advance as their reason for the policy.  Example: anti-abortionists who argue that abortions cause breast cancer or long-term depression, instead of "it makes baby Jesus cry."  As soon as they try to enter the arena of reason, they're on our turf and we crush them with the facts.

Right after 9-11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson both got on national TV and blamed it on the liberals, gays, and atheists causing Yahweh to "remove his hand of protection" from America.  This brought a shitstorm of criticism down on their heads, because Americans weren't in the mood to hang their heads and say, "Yes, we deserved it, because Britney Spears is too sexy.  Please forgive us, Al Qaida!"  And you know what happened?  Falwell and Robertson backed right the fuck down.  Did they change their minds and become critical-thinking Rationalists?  No.  But, we didn't have fundamentalist lynch mobs hunting down gays, lesbians, and Democrats because they got Yahweh pissed off at us, either.  Their viewpoint was marginalized.  And it was a good thing.

After the death of Jerry Falwell, Christopher Hitchens was all over the talk shows puncturing the halo of sanctimonious eulogy being erected around him and reminding the world that Falwell was a disgusting man promoting disgusting ideas, with (in addition to an unimpeachable factual case) brilliantly-executed wit and mockery.  And it was a good thing.

Now imagine this:
You are a theist. You and an atheist start talking. He finds out you're a theist. You have a debate about the existence of god, he refutes your every argument with his superior knowledge of the Bible, logic and analogies.
How would you react?

Like this.

Sorry, that's not what I meant at all. If you read the part I quoted from kcrady, you'll see that he asked me to give examples. I did. I'm not saying "let's not ridicule them because they might be right". They're not.

I'm saying "let's not ridicule them because some bad shit might happen". We all know how fundies good christians are; they're not above killing anyone cleansing the United States of America God, and they would probably be prayed for if they did it.
Hell, given the fundies' good christians' usual state of mind, I'm surprised they haven't tried to exterminate all of us convert us using the power of the holy ghost because of the billboards.

OK, set aside mockery for a moment.  What about moral outrage?  Can we use that?  As in an attitude of: "You people sanction genocide.  You have no moral high ground to stand on.  You have no morality at all, because you confuse morality with chust followink ordersss.  That didn't work at Nuremberg, and it won't work now.  So, no, you have no right to talk about morality or values or ethics at all, much less exhibit the unmitigated gall to act as if you've got the patent and trademark!" 

Or should we limit ourselves to "Here are some logical arguments you can safely ignore.  Please don't hurt us!"
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Traveler well said, as usual. November 29, 2011, 10:57:17 AM