[ExI] Basis of Belief

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Feb 27 16:04:10 UTC 2008

Henrique writes

> Lee> But ridiculousness lies in the eye of the beholder!  Worse,
>> your formula would invite people to hang out only with
>> those who agree with them.  After all, if you're in a group
>> where you are an extreme minority, you must expect that
>> your views will be ridiculed.
> In this case it's the other way around. I'm talking about a minority (non 
> theists) ridiculing a majority (theists) not the opposite.

On *this* list, the majority are atheists or non-believers.

> Lee> 1. So long as there is humor involved and you are just having fun
>>    please don't worry so long as the targets are out of earshot.
>>    This way they do not feel obligated to respond (which you
>>    don't want anyway---that wasn't the point of your joking around)
> Good rule for life in general. Not for debates.

Ridicule can be funny and entertaining---but it does not constitute argument.
Go ahead and imply that people are very wrong, but not that they're dumb,
two things that ridicule doesn't easily recognize the difference between.

> Lee> 2. If you are lurking on forums where serious discussion is
>>    possible, then don't hesitate to "spoil their fun" if you really
>>    would like to challenge their common mindset.  Serious discussion
>>    forums---no matter how much fun they sometimes have---
>>    rightly represent themselves (above all else!) as open to critical
>>    examination of points of view.
>> 3. If you are engaging in some fun (e.g. ridiculing the French
>>    when no French people are present (or read "Asian", "black",
>>    "atheist", what have you)), that's fine---but out of common courtesy
>>    and basic respect for others, it ought to stop or be greatly toned
>>    down when a "victim" approaches the group and begins to
>>    participate in the discussion.
> I never said we are to ridicule people for what they are. Only for what they 
> think.

Why on earth ridicule people's beliefs?  It's a poor way to try to "win"
arguments.  Fun is fine, and I'm all in favor, but as someone pointed out,
ridicule can embitter, and should stop when your interlocutors---the 
people you are talking to---object.

> I can't show any respect or courtesy to ludicrous opinions and silly 
> viewpoints.

No, of course not. But you have to show some courtesy to the people
who hold them. Ridicule by its nature too often crosses that line.

> Remember we are always talking about opinions here.

Well then *talk* about them. Save the ridicule for another time.

> I'm not advocating crime or violence, like Mr. Miller implied earlier.

Right, you're not so advocating. But---very sad to say---through
excessivly incendiary attacks on people's beliefs one can help foment it,
no matter how much we rightly disapprove and denounce that response.
It also can help create truly irreconcilable differences. You ought to
stop at satire and sarcasm---but even they don't ever have to be
employed by a majority in some forum, only by a minority. 

Put simply, ridicule is fine and highly entertaining.  Until someone


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