Dan Melson: March 2015 Archives


Last week, I followed the Facebook page of an author I once used to respect.

After three days where literally every post - roughly 10-12 - had lengthy screeds against those of differing political persuasion, I dropped him.

If he'd been using facts, or talking about the science of the matter, that would have been one thing. Instead, what he wrote was about how the other side was evil for disagreeing with him. Not simply wrong, evil. He also committed every single one of the basic logical fallacies at least once, some of them in literally every single post. (There are roughly thirty major fallacies, but only about ten are basic. The others are special cases of the basic fallacies)

That's not arguing science. That's preaching religion. And I will have none of it.

I fully realize that there are evil people in the world. It's fine to call them out, and make accusations - as individuals, where there is evidence.

But to presume that anyone who disagrees with you must therefore be evil is the mark of a religious extremist. An intolerant religious extremist. Furthermore, it definitely is not the act of a rational human. Rational humans realize that there are reasons why other people - people of sound moral character, rational mind, and fully informed on the issue - might well disagree. Might well disagree without being evil. Might even be closer to the objective truth than you or me.

There is only one kind of person who cannot concede that: A religious fanatic. Someone who is convinced that anyone who does not agree with their dogma must therefore be evil.

Let me let you in on another secret, as well. Someone making the argument of a religious fanatic is not arguing in good faith. Argument by sermon may be a perfectly valid argument within the faith - but it doesn't work for anyone not of your faith and it definitely is neither a rational nor a scientific argument. These arguments are profoundly anti-science and anti-rational. In conversing with those not of your faith, they are worthy of nothing but contempt. Certainly not my time or that of anyone else who is arguing in good conscience on the facts of the matter.

That includes those who conduct argument by sarcasm or belittlement or insult. Some humor is fine - but if you cannot or will not shift to making a real argument on the basis of facts and logic, you are preaching religion, and a religion of intolerance at that.

Yes, people are human. They get tired of the same arguments. It's human to slip. But if you have slipped into preaching religion and you will not return to objective facts and logic when it's pointed out, that's no different than the most adamant preacher of whatever religion you care to name calling for the subjugation of the infidel.

It simply is not relevant if you've gone over the arguments before. It doesn't even matter if you've gone over the arguments before with that person and they don't agree. If you want another person to do something you want them to do, the onus is on you to demonstrate why that other person should do so in their own judgment. Anything else is quite simply the moral equivalent of holding them at gunpoint, and in the case we are considering, it puts you on the same moral plane as burners of witches and those who committed the massacre at Beziers.

Many of those making such arguments proclaim they despise Christians - but Christianity left such things behind in 1648. I'm not Christian, but I realize that while the use of force may be necessary in a very few instances, it is not an argument of science or of rational thought.

Can your religion say the same?

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Dan Melson in March 2015.

Dan Melson: February 2015 is the previous archive.

Dan Melson: January 2016 is the next archive.

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