June 22, 2011

Secularists: When Talking With A Believer Take The High Road, The Low Road Is Gridlocked By Both Sides

The following linked article discusses the history of approaches taken by skeptics (and secularists) in their discussions with religious, supernatural and paranormal believers over the past 172 years.  Micheal Shermer's recommendation is:  "If you start off a conversation with people by telling them that their most cherished and committed beliefs are utter nonsense and bullshit you have just ended the conversation before it even began—and shut the door to any further communication about the virtues of skepticism."

Psychologist Ray Hyman recommended the following approach:  "If we envision ourselves as the champions of rationality, science, and objectivity, then we ought to display these very same qualities in our criticism. Just by trying to speak and write in the spirit of precision, science, logic, and rationality…we would raise the quality of our critiques by at least one order of magnitude."

The thrust of the article is a recommendation of restraint - let the arguments of reason and facts of science speak for themselves.  Don't miss the last quote in the article from 1838....

A Prehistory of DBAD (Don't Be A Dick):  1838-2010 by Daniel Loxton, eSkeptic, June 22, 2011
A.C. Grayling:  "How can you be a militant atheist?  It's like sleeping furiously," The Guardian, April 3, 2011
What's So Great About Kant?  A Critique of Dinesh D'Souza's Attack on Reason by Michael Dahlen, Skeptic, August 17, 2011

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