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« Boy Are We Stupid The RantsSkeptics' Circle #41 »

These Are the People Dumbing Down the United States
2006.08.16 (Wed) 13:23

Previously, on the Two Percent Company's Rants: we discussed a recent study that showed that the United States ranked second to last among polled countries when it came to accepting the fact of evolutionary theory. We've had plenty of personal experience with the particular brand of holier-than-thou asshats who are responsible for this dismal showing, but we're still continually amazed and frustrated by their dimwitted worldviews.

And now, case in point: about a week ago, religious nutbag Joe Carter of the Evangelical Outpost ran a three part series entitled "10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design." From the title alone, we knew it would be a metric ton of the typical creationist bullshit, and Joe didn't disappoint. We've written about Joe's asinine arguments once before and, quite frankly, we didn't care to address his lunacy any further. Yes, every one of his arguments was easily refuted, but we just didn't have the stomach to wade through it this time. So it was lucky for us that our favorite evolutionary biologist, PZ Myers, did the deed for us. For all of us. Thanks, PZ.

You can read Joe's original posts (parts I, II, and III), but quite honestly, you don't really need to. His arguments are simply a mishmash of the usual creationist ignorance, mixed with a heaping portion of ignorance and dishonesty. Nothing new there. In fact, his entire series might just as well have been boiled down to thirty-six point, bold, italicized red text exploding with the common and stupid refrain of "Why are there still monkeys?" — his argument would have remained equally convincing.

Much more palatable — and all you really need to read — is PZ's effortless fisking of Carter's nonsense. We can only imagine that PZ, being more deeply involved in "debating" idiots like Carter, is feeling ten times the bored frustration that we are, but he soldiers on nonetheless. Of course, Joe "rebuts" PZ's piece in typical creationist style — by falsely and smugly claiming that PZ has only proven his point. It's truly painful to read these posts by Joe as they showcase not only his extraordinary ignorance of the topics he's discussing, but also his penchant for rampant dishonesty and his complete failure to utilize or even recognize simple reason and logic. It just plain hurts our heads to read this kind of incoherent and pointless bullshit.

We've had more than our share of exchanges with people like Joe as well. Messages from the "true believers" sometimes wash ashore in waves rivaling the tides of spam, as idiots the world over attempt to convert us to their particular brand of idiocy.

As an example, we were recently contacted by one "Greg," who agreed with us that Allison DuBois was a bullshit artist, but who vehemently affirmed his equally dubious belief in Jesus. His initial message outright stated that he expected us to ridicule him as a result of our intolerance and closed-mindedness, but as his message was polite, we did no such thing. After a few exchanges in which we remained polite, it became clear that Greg was just like all the other religious nutbags: laughing at evolution while displaying quite clearly his own complete ignorance of both evolution and science in general; quoting scripture to "prove" his scientific and historical arguments; and failing completely to construct as much as one single logical defense of his positions. And through it all, Greg continued to triumphantly claim victory on each point, by way of his own irrational rationale. By his last message, even though we remained polite throughout, his true colors had shone through as he painted us as the "evil atheists" he knew we must be:

You smirk at the thought of dead Christians at a traffic accident (and your part in making that happen), you don't respect anything about others' right to hold beliefs and will do everything you can to let them know that, etc. etc.

In his defense, Greg is a complete idiot, who was unable to correctly parse our statement to him that:

We have no problem with people displaying their beliefs on their cars (or on their clothing), and we never claimed otherwise. We have yet to ram another car head-on just because it proudly displays a Jesus fish on its rear bumper (though we do chuckle somewhat upon seeing it).

So while we politely — though firmly — disagreed with Greg's beliefs (all the while, we might add, supporting his right to hold those beliefs — including sticking that stupid fish on the back of his car) we were characterized as evil, murderous atheists. Why? Simply because Greg sees the world through Jesus-colored glasses that make anyone who doesn't worship his bearded hero an evil, murderous heathen. So, while Greg's inability to parse an English sentence certainly contributed to his false characterization of us, without his own twisted, preconceived notions of what it means to be an atheist, we find it hard to imagine that he would have jumped to such an extreme and violent conclusion. Imagine the deep-seated, all-encompassing hatred that Greg must feel toward atheists in order for him to believe the utterly insane accusation that we smirk at the thought of dead Christians that we've rammed with our cars in order to exterminate them. It isn't hard to see which party proved to be intolerant and closed-minded in this scenario, and as usual, it wasn't the atheists.

And that's the kind of person that rational folks are up against. People like Joe Carter and Greg, who are so fucking rockheaded about their beliefs that they plug their ears and scream at anything that seems to contradict their own tenuous worldview. Logic means nothing to them. Taking the time to parse and understand views other than their own means nothing. Honesty means nothing. Reality means nothing. And they aren't even content to wallow quietly in their own stupidity — they have to flaunt it arrogantly, and cram it down the throats of anyone who dares to engage their brains and see through their flimsy nonsense.

What can we do about people like this?

We can't ignore them, as Joe Carter (arguing "for us" from the other side) would have us do. As much as we might want to ignore them, not engaging these morons in the public arena will just signal to the public that they "have a point." (Qui tacet consentit.) It would be lovely to be able to assume that an informed public would see through their nonsense, but put bluntly, it's quite evident that we don't have anything even close to an informed public. So we're stuck. We have to engage them, and we're forced to take part in the same inane discussions, over and over and over again. And we're forced to point out the same ignorance and dishonesty over and over and over again. And we're forced to follow this pattern of futility ad infinitum even though we know from incalculable past experiences that talking to these people is the equivalent of whispering soft nothings into a jet engine. And we're forced to sit by, palms planted firmly on foreheads, as these morons incorrectly tally up a win for their side every time we point out that they are completely ignorant of the topics they are laughing at. "Aha!" they shout. "You have resorted to an ad hominem attack!" (Or just as frequently, an ad homonym, as some of these dolts love to say). "Therefore you have proven our point that evolution is dogma and creationism is true!" But they're missing the point entirely: if your head is actually covered in excrement, and we call you a shithead, that isn't an ad hominem attack — it's a valid, factual observation.

The thing is that even when you hold the discussion on their terms, the religious nuts still lose. Another case in point: Ed Darrell's letter to Joe. Ed's letter, written from one Christian to another, makes some very good points, including:

We have a duty to other people to stick to the truth. We have a duty to the integrity of the church not to advocate untruth in the church's name. We have a duty to God to get the facts right. Pay attention when Myers' calls the pursuit dishonest — he's right, and we need to fix it.

There are plenty of good Christians out there — we know; we've met and befriended more than a few. But this breed of fire-and-brimstone, evangelical, "the bible is literal truth" idiots are, we're sorry to say, well past the edge of insanity. Quite literally. Their grasp of reality is so poor that any conversation with them is pointless and aggravating to the point of wanting to gnaw off our own arms. Yet we have to engage them, at least until we die of frustration.

And perhaps that's their plan after all: to wear us down until we all die from fits of apoplexy or actual embolisms, so when we're all dead from the sheer stress of defending reality and human progress from a bunch of atavistic cultural Luddites who either are intent on turning the clock back at least a few centuries, or, just as likely, are completely hypocritical assholes, they'll have this country — or perhaps the whole planet — all to themselves...until the next generation, when a new crop of intelligent skeptics may well pop up to carry on the fight, at first through sheer teenage rebellion, and then (after the James Deanian rebels-for-rebellion's-sake are weeded out) out of a realization of how wonderfully a reality-based understanding of the universe prepares one for a life of achievement and happiness.

Only those who can successfully parse the one-sentence paragraph above need apply.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Creationism  % Religion  ]

Comments (5)

Darthcynic, 2006.08.16 (Wed) 19:52 [Link] »

I frequent a science and tech related forum where many varied topics including Evolution. One fine day a new member arrived and his first topic was id and its plausability. The lad was welcomed and treated most politely and many contributed with all the arguments against id and eventually that it was in fact creationism with bells and whistles on. The colours of a "true believer" soon came to the fore though as the poor bastard became increasingly condescending and hostile whilst he ignored any questions or arguments that he deemed beneath him. Logic washed over him, his inability to comprehend simple english was astounding to say the least and like all his ilk the same tired word games got trotted out.

Predictably his post eventually petered but that did not deter our enlightened friend and he started three more threads, all regarding his favourite hobbyhorse. All which saw him become enraged against us, calling us flukists, claiming victory etc. Now apart from the whole banging ones head against stone experience what really bothered me was that this asshole came looking for us!. Alighted on our forum to rail against our heathen ways and try to convert us to the only reasonable theory as far as he was concerned. Thankfully he eventually pissed off whining about us all as he went, but twice more we have been visited by his obtuse kind though they are quickly shot down now.

So it seems that you don't even have to go out of your way to challenge these mental minnows, they flock to us like moths to the flame. Our free thinking, logical thought is an affront to them and their extremely illogical beliefs and an impediment to the goal of imposing their ways on us all. Keep up the sterling work lads :).

Les, 2006.08.17 (Thu) 13:29 [Link] »

I agree, but sometimes it's so apparent that engaging them wouldn't provide anything useful that the only resort is to let their statements stand for themselves. I just posted the first email I've ever gotten from a Flat Earther over on SEB and, really, there was no point in trying to debunk it.

The Two Percent Company, 2006.08.18 (Fri) 10:28 [Link] »

Darthcynic: Yep. How many atheist/skeptic/critical thinker trolls have you ever come across? Not many, we're sure. For our part, we seldom bother to comment on sites run by fundies or Newage believers. On the rare occasions that we have done so, we've been polite and lucid, we've documented our points, and we've been brief. Then, without exception, we've been informed that any type of disagreement — be it rational or otherwise — is not welcome. But these idiots seek us out, and when they do, they are anything but polite, lucid and brief. They come to our site or send us e-mail, attacking our views, and when we defend our views using reason and logic, they fall back on references to the bible and threats of damnation. Frankly, these people are so diabolically stupid that we're surprised that they manage to cross the street or shave themselves without being killed.

Les: Wow. All we can say is...wow. You are completely correct that there is absolutely no need to engage someone like your Flat Earth troll — anyone who believes what this guy claims to believe is clearly destined for a life of being ridiculed, even by our "informed" public. But seriously...alla Bananas? Huh. That's a new one. Perhaps that's the god of Muslim chimpanzees. Who think the earth is flat. All of which actually makes more sense than what that guy rambled on about on your site. Wow.

euclidschild, 2006.08.19 (Sat) 19:18 [Link] »

We can no longer "support the right to hold irrational beliefs". As much as we want to allow discourse from both sides, and keep an open mind, we cant allow insanity. If you allow me just a couple of bull shit axioms, i can prove 1+1 = 3. I am open to discussion, but I refuse to buy into any religious myths.
keep up the good work..

The Two Percent Company, 2006.09.21 (Thu) 11:58 [Link] »

Believe us, euclidschild, we certainly understand the temptation to can the whole "believe what you want to believe" deal when we see the clear and present danger that many beliefs pose to the condition and forward progress of humanity (and even individual humans). What stops us is that one nagging problem: if you take away one person's (or group's) rights, you can take away any person's (or group's) rights. For the benefit of humankind — or purely through self-interest, take your pick — it is imperative that we support people's rights to be complete idiots, because otherwise we are, in effect, undercutting our own right to do what we want to do.

Of course, you're also absolutely right that discussion is okay, but religious myths cannot be allowed to shape policy — public discourse, sure, but not the laws and regulations that carefully hoist our world just about toe-deep in the waters of utter chaos and insanity. Other than "believe what you want to believe" (and its corollary, "no beliefs are above mockery, derision or criticism"), one of our other basic tenets is: when fantasy and reality collide, reality wins, no matter what. What this means is that anyone's silly beliefs can only be permitted to be held and expressed, and they can only be used to make real-world decisions that solely impact the person who holds that silly belief. The moment those beliefs impact anyone else, they can't be allowed to be used to make real-world decisions about real-world issues, if for no other reason than because they aren't based on real-world facts in the first place. Our answer to those who think this approach is unfair: when people ground their beliefs in reality, then they can start contributing opinions and decisions about the real world.

One of our favorite mathematical "proofs" is a simple but effective one that "proves" that any number is equal to any other number. Obviously, there's a catch, and it comes down to one simple rule of math — but without that practical, clear-cut rule, based on observation and experimental calculations, numbers would be completely meaningless. Similarly, allowing fanciful beliefs to override the practical, clear-cut facts based on observation and experience would render all of human history and accomplishment utterly meaningless. We don't plan to sit idly by and let that kind of shit happen. While we have little problem with people believing whatever they like in their own little lives, reality trumps belief — every time.

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