I'm an atheist who never gave science the time of day back when I was in high school and christian. Now that I've discovered skepticism and humanism, I can't believe what a tool I was back then... how could I have ignored something so vital? But then again, science wasn't even tested for the School Certificate here when I did year 10, and I virtually never encountered it in primary school. In retrospect, I'm tremendously relieved that it has been added since then (the year directly after me, in fact). Had I known better, I would have campaigned for it myself.

Anyway, nowadays I figure I owe it to myself to absorb all the awesome science I can. It does get me arguing with my hippie technophobe mum a whole lot, though. Writing this, I got to thinking that it's not at all unlike religion. Some people have religious family members to tiptoe around, I just have one who personifies "confirmation bias". No amount of logic and reason will get her thinking differently, and no amount of explanation can convince her that her "sources" aren't good science. Like the blindly religious, she only seeks out the information that confirms what she wants to believe, and never checks how valid that information is. She gets terribly upset with me because I will "never let [her] win an argument", never considering that maybe she just can't win because she doesn't have the facts behind her (and anyway, isn't letting somebody win an argument, doing them a disservice?).

In any case, I'm going to help myself to another glass of brain-rotting diet soft drink and continue reading things on my death-ray spitting computer monitor... in the mean time, does anybody else want to share experiences with those they love buying into bad science, or just refusing good science? How do you deal with somebody who is "religiously" unscientific - assuming you want to ever talk to them again?

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Somehow I suspect that a lot of atheists know people who have wacky new age/health quackery/etc beliefs. My mom is into acupuncture which, to be fair, is one of the forms of alternative medicine with the most evidence that it works. Of course the evidence also shows that it works because of the placebo effect. I've been treated to such great lines as "Even if it's the placebo effect, it still works" and "You have your evidence, I have mine". I don't think this would work in every family, but we mostly just tease each other about it, sort of like how I've teased friends about religion. The trick is knowing who has a sense of humor about it, and who will just get angry when their beliefs are challenged.

The thing that scares me is not so much the buying into quackery like acupuncture, as much as the hate that doctors and pharmaceuticals get from people in the milieu.
We sure do; my sister is an atheist who believes in astrology, tarot cards, ghosts, and who knows what other total nonsense. And, no, she is not dumb; I like to call her totally deluded in some areas.

IMO, people like to believe that crap so they can think they know more than others, that they have some insight the rest of us lack. And it's a hell of a lot easier to read astrological charts than do real science.
Indeed, that's part of the problem; I know my Mum is a smart woman. That's why it burns me up to see her buy into the things she does. I know she's better than that. In that sense, it's the same as my husband's family; they're extremely religious folks who are, outside of their god-blinders, blisteringly intelligent (his mother and sister are a schoolteachers, and fine ones at that). His father is a perfectly bright man who was heard to comment, at one point, that he doesn't worry about the impact of his love for fast cars and motorbikes because the centre of the earth is still producing oil, from the creatures killed during the great flood.
I mock them thoroughly and try to make them cry.

I prefer specifically to call them crybabies and to accuse them of wanting to call for their mothers.

I perpetrate such perfect douchebaggery as to be a role model.

Either they get so upset that they avoid me forevermore, or I really do make them realize that they're being a total moron. In either case, I personally win.
Senator James Inhof (R: Oklahoma) promotes bad science. He knows very well that it's bad science, or at least poorly done. He has no good reason to believe otherwise. He takes money shamelessly for promoting bad science and misleading voters about everything from evolution to global warming. I'll bet he's also a 'born again' Christian. Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Such a person shouldn't be allowed to remain in public office. I hope he loses his senate seat.
I have so many intensely religious (Fundamentalist and Charismatic) relatives that I have simply adopted the position of keeping my mouth shut and letting them go on about prayer and faith and the goodness of god, and all the proofs of healings, and "clever" comments directed at me to supposedly "help" my non-religious badness. (For instance, coming to my side as I'm watching wildlife or passing boats out the window, and commenting on how "amazing God's creation is, that he so generously created, just for us!")

People who are not open to new ideas will only get angry if you try to point out the fallacies in their faith. Very angry.




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