Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Doggerel #43: "You're Just Afraid of the Truth!"

Welcome to a vaguely Halloween edition of Doggerel, where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

One of the favorite accusations woos, especially fundies, like to make about skeptics is that we're "afraid of the truth," even though they haven't demonstrated the "truth" in a convincing manner. It is essentially a subject change intended to turn the focus away from the arguments being made.

Whether or not I'm afraid of a claim turning out to be true is irrelevant to the validity of the claim. In some cases, however, fear is justified. Some fundy gods are very not-nice. For example, the concept of Hell full of everlasting torment is impossible for a moral person to bear, even if he's not going there himself.

Another example of something to be afraid of if it existed, though silly to believe in such, is the idea of a super-secret super-government that controls everyone and everything except you. The world is a big place and controlling it would be an administrative nightmare, also worthy of fear.

In other cases, the fear is nonexistent: I'd be jumping for joy if a psychic passed the Randi Challenge (well, I might wait until after an independent replication. Randi's not perfect). Telekinesis, among other things, would be really nifty. And suddenly worthy of a lot of research grants. I won't let hypothetical niftiness substitute for evidence, though: In such cases, my only fear is sloppiness.

Like many fallacies out there, this one is easily reversed: Atheists can argue that the religious are afraid to deal with a world without a benevolent magical creature in control. Those arguing against conspiracy theorists could say that they're afraid to admit that they can't handle a world where the government can simply screw up or a handful of individuals can perform attrocities without inside help. Those arguing with psychic woos can say that the woos are afraid to admit that they likely got fooled by magic tricks and so forth.

The reversals aren't any less fallacious, but they seem more likely to be (irrelevantly) true, at least to me.

So, go out there, and don't let fear or the accusation of fear distract you from making a point.

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Doggerel Index

5 comments:

bigdumbchimp said...

Bible truth is my favorite. I'll have three and a coke please.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, great Doggerel. The Thimerosal-autism hypothesis backers love to invoke the old "your just afraid of the truth (sic) that your own government has colluded with big-pharma to cover-up their heinous acts" nonsense. Conspiracy mongering at it best.

Nes said...

In other cases, the fear is nonexistent: I'd be jumping for joy if a psychic passed the Randi Challenge [...] Telekinesis, among other things, would be really nifty.

I concur! I love fantasy, and would love for any of the woo-ish things to be true... Flying around with aliens in a UFO, studying the universe... slaying dragons with magic... Real-life X-Men/super heroes... but I can also recognize that, unfortunately, the evidence so far doesn't support any of them.

Bronze Dog said...

Downside of superheroes: Usually end up with supervillains, too.

Then you have to deal with the entire planet being leveled every week in the ensuing fights.

Anonymous said...

In other cases, the fear is nonexistent: I'd be jumping for joy if a psychic passed the Randi Challenge [...] Telekinesis, among other things, would be really nifty.

I always wanted telepathy. When I was growing up, I wanted so bad to know what chicks are thinking so that I could hopefully get lucky.

Unfortunately, it didn't happen. The telepathy, that is. Mind you, as a spotty teenager, I never got lucky, either.