Monday, July 11, 2005

Where do You Draw the Line?

This is my question to all the true believers out there:

Where do you draw the line? Why do you believe in some silly things and not others?
To quote the Two Percent Company:

"First of all, just about anything is possible. It is possible that there is a god, it is possible that there is an afterlife, and it is possible that some people can communicate with those in the afterlife. It is also possible that small gnomes live in our asses — hey, absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence. From our perspective, all of these things are about equally likely. In addition, they are all supported by equal amounts of proof — i.e., none. For our part, we choose to believe in none of them, since we require proof in order to believe in something. Which of these do you choose to believe in? If not all of them, why do you draw the line where you do? Please elaborate."

Where do you draw the line? Why does one believe ghosts walk among us even though there is not a shred of evidence, but scoff at the idea of Ass Gnomes? Why do you believe the creation account written in the Bible, but laugh when Tom Cruise points out the history of the world according to Scientology? Please tell me, I'm dying to know. You can e-mail me, call me, send smoke signals, whatever.

Just like the folks at 2%, I choose not to believe in these things. It is stupid to say "I know for a fact there is no god". Conversely, I can say "I do not believe there is a god because there is no proof and Occam's Razor suggests he/she/invisible pink unicorn is not necessary."

Do you think you can make the same statement regarding Ass Gnomes? I'm sure you do. Why are other paranormal claims any different?


Lenoxus said...

I've wondered this myself a lot. Sometimes a woo-ist will give a defense of their beliefs that, if applied logically, means that they believe absolutely every claim they encounter.

Here's what I think the real answer is: People believe what they hear from sources they trust, like parents and peers. From then on, it's a first-come-first-serve situation. So a Christian will believe that Paul was inspired but Muhammad was not, not because there's any describable test that the one passes and the other fails, but her acceptance of the former, as inspired by parents or friends or missionaries, precludes the acceptance of the latter.

This notion of mine is affirmed by the way in which people do tend to reject rival religions, but are more accepting of alternative pseudosciences — the conflicts are less apparent, so it can be all true, mannn, and you get crank magnetism.

Ryan W. said...

BD, what is the record for necromancy here? 5 1/2 years has to be close to the record.

Bronze Dog said...

For a while, I would still see drive-by trolling in your very first post about Sylvia Browne, though at the time it wasn't 5 1/2 years old.

I'm happy Lenoxus had some sensible things to say in his necromancy. And yes, I agree the temporal component probably plays a lot into it: If you're taught a piece of nonsense in childhood, contradicting/rival nonsense encountered later will not root so easily.

Ryan W. said...

I love the old articles; they are so effing terrible.

And Lenoxus definitely has a point. And official "Necromancer" status.