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Nutbags in my area
RayvenAlandria
We got a call two days ago from one of my husband's workmates. He told us he'd just driven past some protesters in our part of town who had bizarre posters of Obama made up to look like Satan and signs stating that "The Beast" has taken power and other crazy things like that. They had racist and apocalyptic statements on their signs.

I was too sick to drag myself out to get pictures, I wish I could have gotten some. (caught a cold or flu while visiting relatives)

IMO, the majority of the people around here are dangerously insane. It's hard to believe that people still behave this way in *modern* times, but they do. I can't wait to get away from Oklahoma.
Edited by RayvenAlandria on 01/04/2009 11:49
 
General-Pryce
Sounds like the kind of crap the Phelps clan are constantly spouting. These type of people should be laughed at for the idiots they are. There has already been the question as to wether these types of believers are a threat at the tip of the ice berg or not. I tend to go with not- they are numerous, but even the religious right seem to look down on them.

Would have been nice to get a pic though!
 
Bob of QF
RayvenAlandria wrote: I can't wait to get away from Oklahoma.


Got some bad news for ya: it ain't confined to Oklahomer.

You'll find that sort of idiot-think all over the US. Try reading the Pharyngula blog.

The *only* difference between states like OK and other states is the total population figures.

Whenever you increase the population density, you have the appearance of "diluting" the number of radical-idiots, but you don't, really--they are there. It only *seems* like there are fewer, because there are so many more middle-of-the road sorts.

I think you have your cause-and-effects mixed up, here.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
I've got plenty of nutbags around here, and Oklahoma is just Texas del Norte in that respect. The people across the street are very nice except for their Xianity; they put out a sign in their yard stating "He is risen!" during savior-on-a-stick seaon, and go to Billy Graham revivals.

When the population density goes up, the nutbags aren't diluted. The percentages stay the same. There is more of everyone. IMO, it's the same everywhere, at least in the parts of the USA I've been to.
Edited by catman on 01/04/2009 15:01
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Bob of QF
catman wrote:
When the population density goes up, the nutbags aren't diluted. The percentages stay the same. There is more of everyone. IMO, it's the same everywhere, at least in the parts of the USA I've been to.


Yeah, but the number of rational people goes up too.

Thus your chances for interaction with a non-nutbag goes up as well.

*sigh*

I *do* identify with your plight, though: I'm surrounded by nutters myself. But, living in a blue-collar neighborhood has it's perks with respect to political issues. Most folk on my block are Democrats, not Rethuglicans. Yet, nearly everyone owns guns... imagine that.

I actually *like* my neighbors...well most of the time. Sometimes the mexicans up the street like to party outside late into the night, and the noise keeps me awake. Grin

I dunno. I'd probabily enjoy living in NY, but I know I'd hate the crowding, and I'm certain I'd hate paying $5.95 for a Bic Mac sandwich only... no fries, no drink.

I like the cheap cost of living hereabouts most of all.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
I can imagine that: I'm a Democrat, and I own guns!Grin

Actually, your chances of interacting with either a nutbag or non-nutbag stay the same if the population goes up. There are more of both.

I have the same experience with the Latinos (not sure about their country of origin) down the street. They are fine unless they have a big party. Then everyone with a half mile gets to listen to it. But I don't care that much (I'm not next door to them!).

I wouldn't be able to take living in NYC.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Hypatia
RayvenAlandria wrote:
We got a call two days ago from one of my husband's workmates. He told us he'd just driven past some protesters in our part of town who had bizarre posters of Obama made up to look like Satan and signs stating that "The Beast" has taken power and other crazy things like that. They had racist and apocalyptic statements on their signs.

I was too sick to drag myself out to get pictures, I wish I could have gotten some. (caught a cold or flu while visiting relatives)

IMO, the majority of the people around here are dangerously insane. It's hard to believe that people still behave this way in *modern* times, but they do. I can't wait to get away from Oklahoma.


Every once in a great while we'll see something similar to that here, but when we do it's usually either just an individual or an extremely small group of people. It's very, very rare.

What we're more likely to see is the typical individual standing on a corner or in an intersection holding a sign that will read something along the line of 'Jesus Saves', 'Jesus is Lord', 'God Loves You', or 'Repent', etc.

They're all very easy to ignore as they're rarely ever 'protesting' anywhere or anyone with any significance.
 
comfortable
catman wrote:
I've got plenty of nutbags around here, and Oklahoma is just Texas del Norte in that respect. The people across the street are very nice except for their Xianity; they put out a sign in their yard stating "He is risen!" during savior-on-a-stick seaon, and go to Billy Graham revivals.

When the population density goes up, the nutbags aren't diluted. The percentages stay the same. There is more of everyone. IMO, it's the same everywhere, at least in the parts of the USA I've been to.


Q: What's a Texan?
A: Just a Mexican on his way to Oklahoma, (har dee har har)

I don't live in OK...even out here on the Left Coast I'm surrounded.
I work for "God's Company" every day. Our CEO has dedicated our company "to God", which has its good side (incompetents or people with serious health issues never get fired), and its bad side (if you give all the credit to God when sales are good, then how do you formulate effective corrections when sales go bad? - plus - there's that keeping all the incompetents on the payroll thing...)

I've boiled it down to a difference in personality type (me vs 'normal' people).

Tell me what you think of the following piece I wrote this morning
What is the threshold for "truth"? (or, Why I Am a Monist)

All my life, I've sought answers to questions that bothered me. Perhaps 'bothered' is not the right word, but that's the common expression for the feeling we all get when a question, once raised, requires some sort of answer. This requirement for some sort of answer is apparently an attribute of the human mind. We feel a strong need to actively seek an answer to certain types of questions - questions which seem important, while we merely feel 'interested' in the answers to questions we deem less important.

In my youth, I recall asking myself the all-too-common question, "Why was I born?" In my particular family, my parents answered me in the time-honored manner of most parents everywhere: that is, their answer was presented in terms involving a deity, an immortal 'soul', and an afterlife. I also recall that they took me to a house of worship, where the officers and teachers there instructed me that this question was important indeed. In fact, they assured me that it was the single most important question possible, since the answer would not only affect the outcome of my entire life, but would determine the outcome of my next life as well (for eternity!).

I believed all of this. I believed it sincerely and with the utmost conviction. In accepting this 'answer', my human need to resolve my important question was satisfied. I no longer felt the pangs of uncertainty that accompany, must accompany, the contemplation of having an important question with no answer.

As I grew into my teens and attended high school, I was taught many things by various teachers all of which I believed, at first. However I also began to discover that, at least in some subjects, the teachers made mistakes from time to time; presenting facts in the classroom that disagreed with those printed in the textbook! I soon learned that no benefit accrued to me by pointing these errors out to the teacher. (Funny, I thought, you'd think the teacher would have been glad that I'd prevented him from repeating the error in the future.) So I now came to the conclusion that 'facts' presented in the classroom were usually good enough for the tests, but not good enough to satisfy my need for 'the truth' as presented in the textbooks; (that is, if I happened to care about a particular issue and felt the need for 'the truth'; I'd better read the textbook myself and not take the teacher's word for it.)

Then when in college, I made the additional discovery that certain textbooks were in disagreement with other textbooks! Sometimes this was due to the date of printing, and new science had been discovered; but often, it was due to a difference of opinion between authors, editors, or committees!

How to resolve these discrepancies? Well, in some subjects, if I thought the answer was really important, I could do my own research. Consider, if I ever doubted that my math teacher was well informed when declaring that 2 + 2 = 4, it was easy enough to go home, take 2 knives from the drawer, then another 2 knives, lay them all next to each other on a table and count 1, 2, 3, 4 sure enough, there's 4 of them! Furthermore, for 'facts' such as these, I doubt that I could find any textbook or teacher anywhere, in any language, that would disagree with the premise (that 2 + 2 = 4). This is not a practical example, of course, but you get my point. I could confirm some things by my own investigation.

In other subjects, rather than devote my life to learning the discipline required to do my own research (such as quantum mechanics), I had to rely on other methods such as reading several texts and looking for consistency among the writings of those qualified to do the research. The same answer from several independent sources usually satisfies my need for an answer. The beast of doubt is slain, and I can go on to other things.

So it was natural, when I returned to that most basic question from my childhood, the most important question imaginable (so I'd been told), that I felt a strong urge to know 'for certain'. I felt a strong desire to kill my gnawing doubt - doubt kindled by my realization that the 'experts' most certainly did not agree on what constituted 'the truth'. It was not possible to do my own research. Further, it is not possible, even in principle, for the experts to do research either. Thus their disagreements must continue and cannot be resolved by discovering the facts.

In an effort to quell my personal doubt, I studied or joined various religions during my early years. I even took classes in "world religions" and "comparative religion" in college. I purchased many books and interviewed many religious people. I could not find any consistancy, coherence, or agreement anywhere. It was all provincial. No one, author, layman, or priest would even consider that other humans held differing views in equal esteem and sincerity to their own. A most unsatisfying result as far as this author was concerned.

So I've realized that I have a standard for knowledge - a threshold for truth. Apparently a threshold more rigorous than that which satisfies average people. Whenever someone claims to be an 'expert' in their field, it's not what they claim to know that interests me, but how they came to know it - and whether their certainty comes from independent verification or merely 'a feeling'.

When Einstein proposed his Theory of Special Relativity, General Relativity, and explained the photo-electric effect experts the world over performed thousands of experiments and, once an experiment confirmed some part of the theory, any expert anywhere could duplicate the experiment and obtain the exact same result! This is deeply satisfying; to me and to anyone else who wishes an answer one can 'take to the bank'.

Answers to questions which can be confirmed independently by different experts satisfy me.

And yet and yet there are humans walking around today, all over the world, who's doubts have been satisfied by 'experts' (priests and teachers) who:
- cannot agree with one another
- cannot prove their own answers, nor disprove those of others
- cannot conduct, nor even propose, any observations that would confirm their answers

I recognize the deep need for answers that we all feel, but I fail to understand how anyone can accept non-answers, such as provided by the world's religions, as satisfying that need. Such answers suited when I was 8 or 9 years of age, but after high school, after realizing that 'because I say so' is no guarantee of truth, I can no longer take any comfort from them.

Upon discovering Dawkins' and Dennet's expositions on Darwin, and coming to understand and appreciate the power of "Darwinism" or "neo-Darwinism" to provide me with a principle, if not every detail, which has the power to explain all of life, all relationships between people and between animals, dreams, foresight and planning, dread of the unknown, and yes, even explains the neurological basis for religions; and has the further power in that it doesn't contradict itself; (and the icing on the cake is that I can propose experiments myself, make observations, and confirm them)... well, I find that satisfying.

In matters of religion, others are apparently satisfied that they 'know' something they cannot even coherently describe. They 'know' things in spite of the indisputable fact that others 'know', with just as much certainty and equal authority, that they are wrong.

I have a different threshold for acceptance.

I would never purchase a shoe from a salesman that claimed to "know" or "know for certain" that it will fit, merely on his word as a shoe expert. I would expect him to measure my foot first (or at least read the size printed on the label of my old shoe). Having done this minimum amount of invesitigation, I would imagine that he would then recommend the same shoe size as any other shoe salesman in town. If I'd never bought any shoes before, and couldn't measure my feet for myself, but every shoe salesman in town measured me as a 12D, I would then be able to accept that as a useful piece of information.

So I guess I won't be ordering any power crystal pyramids to keep all my razor blades perpetually sharp, anytime soon. I'll have to see the evidence before I plunk down my hard-earned $75.

Comfortable - January 4, 2009

Edited by comfortable on 01/04/2009 20:33
.
The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
.
Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
catman
comfortable: An excellent essay! I (and many others) have doubtless had a nearly identical path as yourself to where we are now in our thinking. There is certainly no universality in the world of the religious, save that each sect states that its take on the matter is obviously the correct one and should be universally believed. And why? Because they said so.Wink
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Bob of QF
Interesting, comfortable.

You and I have much the same philosophy, with one difference: I find that I'm happy enough with "we do not know" as an "answer" to a question that has no answer.

Because, with most questions, there is an implied "yet" at the end.

That is, "we do not know.....yet". I don't find this unsettling in the least.

What I *do* find abhorrent is an outright like as an "answer". My basic honest nature runs so deep, that I cannot stand a lie as an "answer" or worse, to get the questioner to shut the fuck up about a really hard question.

I, myself, have been told lies in order to get me to stop asking those hard questions....this usually happened way back in Sunday School, when I was a child and asked those embarrassing questions, like, "Why did god kill all the babies in the flood, then? Were the babies evil people, too? How can a baby be evil?" Grin (yes, I was a smartass then, same as now... Smile )

As I grow older, I have come to realize that a honest "I don't know" is infinitely preferable to bullshit. With "I don't know", the door is left open for possible knowing in the future. With bullshit? One may wander down a rabbit trail into complete delusion.... not good.

...........

Sometimes I think that being a skeptic goes to the genetic level, and environmental factors in child-rearing be damned. I dunno.

Wonder if anyone has some twin studies on belief and gullibility? Grin
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
I don't think that is a smartass question, Bob. The Sunday school teachers probably think so (or say they do) because it puts them on the spot having to try to defend their loving, compassionate god.

I always get a pleasant glow of feeling with an honest 'we don't know...yet'. That implies that some intelligent people are looking for honest answers to difficult questions, rather than the mythological stupidities that we are introduced to as children and are expected to accept for the rest of our lives.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
comfortable
Thanks for the kind words.

The reason I wrote it is that I often write things out when studying on something. Even at work, with RF signals, firmware, and proposed designs - I write stuff out in prose.

I'm trying to synthesize a coherent worldview to explain to myself why I am different than the muzzy-headed non-thinkers all around me.

Realizing that I have a more-rigorous standard when accepting 'facts' was a bit of an epiphany for me personally. So I thought I'd jot it down.

As to having some questions that make us want to find an answer, I suspect that you do have some, Bob. Maybe not the "Why was I born?" question, but probably some question or other has driven you to seek an answer, yes?

I agree that some questions we do not know ....yet; and I am okay with that. But I put the question "Why was I born?" into a different category. The same nonsensical category as "How high is 'up'?" or "Why is the Moon made entirely of cheese?"

At any rate, I now realize that in all areas of my life, I have always required consistent and demonstrable answers. It's part of my personality, I guess. Given that it is (part of my personality) it would seem that my giving up any belief in the supernatural was inevitable.

Did you look up 'Monist' yet?
.
The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
.
Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
comfortable
Bob of QF wrote:
...As I grow older, I have come to realize that a honest "I don't know" is infinitely preferable to bullshit...


But that's just it, isn't it. You and I would prefer the honest admission of ignorance, but your average citizen abhors such honesty. The average citizen is very eager indeed, to hear a figure of authority tell them what they want to hear. It's the basis of all political offices, up to and including emperors and kings. If there were none, people would invent one (an emperor). They have a hunger and a need - I don't.

One of my favorite movie quotes was uttered by Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven (a western re-make of the Japanese classic "Seven Samurai"). Eli Wallach played Calvera, the leader of the bandits. When an observer asks Calvera if he is afraid of God's judgement (for being an evil bandit) he responds "If God had not wanted them shorn, He would not have made them sheep!" - Precious!

And thus the sheeple abound and are plentiful on the face of the Earth. I seem to have been left out, is all I'm saying.

*********************************

That brings to mind another example of a worldview shift as we got older.

In school, I wanted an 'A' on a report card. I focused on that 'A', not what it signified. I was worried about 'Judgment Day' at my house, when Mom would see my report card. I WOULD HAVE BEEN PERFECTLY HAPPY TO HAVE DONE CRAP WORK IN CLASS, BUT SOMEHOW THE TEACHER GAVE ME AN 'A' ANYHOW.

Compare that to now. Now the value of the 'A' is what it actually represents. I would prefer an honest grade so that I could learn where I was deficient and needed more study. An honest 'D' is preferable to a false 'A' - because what I am looking for is my level of achievement, not something to show off to my Mom.

I suspect most people want that 'A', regardless of their actual performance.

What do you think?
Edited by comfortable on 01/05/2009 12:06
.
The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
.
Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
Bob of QF
comfortable wrote:

I suspect most people want that 'A', regardless of their actual performance.

What do you think?


Oh, I completely agree!

And for evidence, I submit: Christianity! The ultimate do-the-work-of-an-F-student, but get an A.

It takes zero work to claim Christianity. You don't have to change your life. You don't have to drop your evil habits. All you have to do is mumble, on cue, the requisite magical phrases, and you get an automatic "A".

It's so easy, someone with serious brain damage can do it; and often do.

Grin

To me, both your scenario and Christianity are founded on the same stricture: actual bona-fide thinking is hard. Even with practice, it's hard work. (How many overweight mathematicians do you know of? ...no strike that, joke-in-poor-taste)

Seriously, though, thinking *is* hard work. Non-think, sheep-like following of some Statement From Authority? Easy-peasy.

Here's another proof that people would literally rather die, than think. Seat belts. How many people complain about them, and refuse to wear them? Why?

A thinking person would do the research, if she/he felt they were a nuisance: a bit of research will turn up, that wearing one in an accident significantly boosts your survival rate, and reduces your injury rate. More research will show that sooner or later, the odds catch up with everyone, and next thing you know, you're in an accident. A thinking person wears one, even though they suck.

A non-thinking person? Will cling to some pseudo-science myth or other (like, what if you go into water? You'll drown! that's what!) and use that as an excuse to not wear them. It's easier: both to not think about the consequences of not wearing it, and the day-in-and-day-out not having to fasten the damn thing.

.........

It boils down to mental laziness. Which often manifests as physically lazy, too...
Edited by Bob of QF on 01/06/2009 14:40
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
comfortable wrote: I would prefer an honest grade so that I could learn where I was deficient and needed more study. An honest 'D' is preferable to a false 'A' - because what I am looking for is my level of achievement, not something to show off to my Mom.

I'd say that depends on what kind of a Mom you have and how old you are. Wink

But in general, yes, I think most people would rather have the 'A', even if they know they don't deserve it. Unless you are young and afraid of what your parents will do, it depends on your personal integrity.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Sinny
I ask why was I born and my answer is always....because my mother and Father had unprotected sex and Dad didn't believe in abortion.

When I want to answer why I was born the way I was...that's a little more complicated but Dad ususally gets the blame then Mom. It goes on from there for various and obvious to me
reasons.
Edited by Sinny on 01/07/2009 17:46
 
catman
How were you born? Most people are born either the natural way or by C-section.:headscratch:Grin
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Bob of QF
catman wrote:
How were you born? Most people are born either the natural way or by C-section.:headscratch:Grin


Dunno, I was pretty young at the time.....

...but I'm told, my parents had sex while being careless about contraceptives.

As is typical when 20ish couples fuck, and don't pay attention, they become parents...

...so, yeh, I was an accident.

Then again, so were both my siblings, according to my mom....

She eventually figured it out, though. Only the two besides me.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Doubting Thomas
catman wrote:
How were you born? Most people are born either the natural way or by C-section.:headscratch:Grin


I was born by C-section. Now whenever I leave my house I go out through a window.
You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you.
 
catman
DT: Good one!:lol:
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
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