The dissident view

The dissident view is not just another opinion among many. Its task is to contest the ruling ideology and broaden the boundaries of debate. The function of established opinion is just the opposite, to keep the parameters of debate as narrow as possible.

Parenti

The most insidious forms of oppression

“The very efficacy of opinion manipulation rests on the fact that we do not know we are being manipulated. The most insidious forms of oppression are those that so insinuate themselves into our communication universe and the recesses of our minds that we do not even realize they are acting upon us. The most powerful ideologies are not those that prevail against all challengers but those that are never challenged because in their ubiquity they appear as nothing more than the unadorned truth.”

‘Contrary Notions’ by Michael Parenti

Dealing With Science Denialism

Great thoughts on dealing with science denialism from this article in Newsweek about flat earthers. I’ve discussed similar ideas in my recent Bullshit Filter series dealing with antivaxers.

A better way to respond is to stop talking about proof, certainty, and logic, and start talking more about scientific “values.” In my book The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science From Denial, Fraud, And Pseudosience, I defend the idea that what is most distinctive about science is not its method but its “attitude”: the idea that scientists care about evidence and are willing to change their views based on new evidence. This is what truly separates scientists from their deniers and imitators.

The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they hold themselves up as skeptics, but they are actually quite gullible. There is a rampant double standard for evidence: no evidence is good enough to convince them of something they do NOT want to believe, yet only the flimsiest evidence is required to get them to accept something they DO want to believe. Contrast this to the “scientific attitude,” which is a mindset of flexibility toward changing one’s beliefs based on new evidence.

Instead of saying “show me your evidence” (which they were only too happy to do) or “here’s my evidence” (which they wouldn’t believe anyway,) I asked “what would it take to convince you that you were wrong?” They seemed unprepared for this question.

For years I’ve used a similar approach with Christians. “What would it take you to stop believing?” They often say “nothing could stop me”. No amount of evidence? “Nothing.” Which demonstrates that they don’t care about facts, evidence or logic. They believe because they want to believe. But I haven’t tried the same approach with other forms of science denialism yet.

Brahman in all things

“The whole world was seen as the divine activity welling up from the mysterious being of Brahman, which was the inner meaning of all existence. The Upanishads encouraged people to cultivate a sense of Brahman in all things. It was a process of revelation in the literal meaning of the word: it was an unveiling of the hidden ground of all being. Everything that happens became a manifestation of Brahman: true insight lay in the perception of the unity behind the different phenomena.”

‘A History of God: The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam’ by Karen Armstrong

In other words – Brahman = the laws of physics, atoms, whatever you want to call the underlying fabric of the cosmos.

I’m just a jealous god.

It seems quite clear that the Hebrews and Yahweh (or Elohim, actually) both believed there were multiple gods. Monotheism wasn’t their thing – at least not when Exodus was written.

As Karen Armstrong writes in “A History Of God”:

In the final text of Exodus, edited in the fifth century BCE, God is said to have made a covenant with Moses on Mount Sinai (an event which is supposed to have happened around 1200). There has been a scholarly debate about this: some critics believe that the covenant did not become important in Israel until the seventh century BCE. But whatever its date, the idea of the covenant tells us that the Israelites were not yet monotheists, since it only made sense in a polytheistic setting. The Israelites did not believe that Yahweh, the God of Sinai, was the only God but promised, in their covenant, that they would ignore all the other deities and worship him alone. It is very difficult to find a single monotheistic statement in the whole of the Pentateuch. Even the Ten Commandments delivered on Mount Sinai take the existence of other gods for granted: ‘There shall be no strange gods for you before my face.’