Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Woos and Boredom

Recently, PZ posted a bit about a woman's diatribe about atheists. Plenty of people made comments about her characterization of us as bores and expressed puzzlement that she'd spend so much ink on writing uninformed statements about us if she thought we were boring. I'll leave the specific refutations for that other thread, but I thought I'd go ahead and say one thing I've been meaning to do a post on:

I find woo boring. That's the overall picture. Sure, there's plenty of trolls out there who can get me to chuckle when they engage in obvious contradiction or projection, or occasionally say something so absurd I can't help but laugh, such as 9/11 nuts who believe it was an R-9 Orbital Wave Cannon that brought down the towers. But that sort of thing quickly wears out, and I'll be explaining why.

1. Woo never defies my expectations: I don't mean on level of absurdity or anything like that. I mean things like success rates. They can't perform under well controlled conditions. They only have inherently cherrypicked anecdotes, not meaningful data. They reject simple, known explanations for mundane phenomena and expect me to believe the ordinary isn't ordinary. In short, their evidence is typically so weak and expected that I think "so what?" It's easy for someone to perform magic tricks under questionable circumstances and then lose those abilities when test conditions are designed to render those known tricks are impossible. It's easy to find at least a few people who praise a quackery treatment, have their statement recorded, and have it turn out that they were a very lucky minority, received actual medicine, or died of their condition after making an inaccurate assessment of their health. That's why anecdotes aren't to be trusted. You don't use any one single subject to make a life-altering decision, especially not when you can't get all the circumstantial information you need to know.

2. Woos behave very stereotypically in my experience. That's a big reason for the Doggerel Index: I'm sick of having to refute the same cliches and logical fallacies over and over and over again. I'm sure many of my fellow skeptics feel the same way, which is why I've made it publicly available. I'm sick of woos going in eternal circles based off what the woos from centuries ago made up about their critics, without bothering to look at the world or what their critics really say.

Dealing with the robotic behavior and the same tired old notions with every troll is frustrating. That's boredom's contribution to my passion: I try many ways to break the cycle, and upset the status quo the woos are content with. I want to force them to think when I successfully point out how they're the ones being closed-minded, that they have no idea what skepticism actually means, or whatever.

What it boils down to is that I'm lashing out against stagnation, indifference, and repetition.


MWchase said...

Speaking of level of absurdity, though, I really want to see if we can come up with a plausible-sounding system of homeopastrology.

I'm kind of impressed that the woos, or at least some of them, don't get bored, though. Staying with psychic powers for that long either requires dedication, or a keen and avid disregard for historical fact.

Anonymous said...

All the reasons you give for being bored with woos (especially repetition of the same things over and over and the stereotyping of skepticism) are the reasons that I respond with barely controlled rage now.

I mean seriously, this shit again?!

I honestly wish I could affect boredom instead of anger and disgust.

Bronze Dog said...

Actually the boredom is one of the pillars of my frustration, disgust, and rage. The crushing sameness of woo is like a wall I have to bust through just to get started on fixing the problem.

Valhar2000 said...

True; it's interesting how woos often try to make their ramblings seem modern, originla and daring, when in fact woo is uniformly conservative, repetitious and self-similar. The only innovation (and I use this word in its most euphemistic sense) that ever comes into woo is the result of woos attempting to coopt poorly understodd concepts and buzzwords they hear coming from the scientific community, and even this only manages to apply a layer of glossy paint over the same centuries old concepts, without introducing any genuinely new ideas.

Bronze Dog said...

Well said.

Next post: A frank discussion towards the woos (I won't use that word, of course) about the stereotypes I hold of them and how they can defy them.

Valhar2000 said...

With spiritual awareness, of course, and possible cleansing of auras. I will not be surprised to find exhortations to open our minds and declarations of imposibility, either.