decided to write a blog post
titled, Atheists: when disbelief does not equal logic or critical thinking
. Perhaps a more concise title would have been, If you're not Vegan, you're stupid
Her post starts off reasonably enough. For some reason, she states, she had been under the misapprehension that atheists are generally more intelligent people than theists. This is an easy trap to fall into, and I am sure I have fallen victim to it in the past. After all, it is natural for the human ego to want to feel superior to other people. Just take a look, for example, at the comments section of any post on Pharyngula
. Your smug-o-meter will go off the scale.
Fortunately, that illusion was shattered one sunny day, when she realised that not all atheists have the same opinions as her on a variety of issues. In Heathers own words, it was "A phenomenon that burst my smug little atheist bubble".
What happened next will probably sound familiar to a lot of people. It is reminiscent of the emails received by various sceptic podcasts which begin, "I love your show, BUT... ". I think it can be best explained in terms of something called the "Maddox effect".
The Maddox effect is named for George "Maddox" Ouzounian
, author of the deliberately offensive satirical (and modestly named) web-site, The Best Page in the Universe
: potentially NSFW). The synopsis of the effect is that an individual, who had previously been a devoted fan of Ouzounian's work, will suddenly lose their sense of humour and become incredibly hostile when an article is posted deriding their particular sacred cow. I believe poor Heather is suffering from a variant of this rationality-imparing effect.
In Heather's case, exposure to viewpoints opposed to her own led her, not to introspection or enquiry, but to simply conclude that these pesky individuals must not be as intelligent as her.
What was that she said about smug?
The issue in question is, of course, Vegan-ism.
Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with Vegan-ism, per se
. If someone feels better about themselves - or heck, even better than other people - because they choose not to eat certain types of
food, then all power to them. You do what you like. As long as it doesn't affect me in any way, then frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Of course, a lot of Vegans can't seem leave it there. Instead, like missionaries embarking on their first voyage to Africa, they feel the overwhelming urge to share the Good News with everyone they can. They insist that their arbitrary ethical system is, in fact, superior and should be adopted by all. How is eating an cow, they ask, any different from eating a human? It's all life!
How then, I might respond, is red any different from green? After all, it's all colours! And where does that leave poor old yellow?
As was explained so eloquently (as usual) by Matt Dillahunty
& co. on episode 8.8 of The Non Prophets
, the value
we attach to various different forms of life is not governed but the sole property of it being
life. I value human life more than I value ant life. I value my life more than I value yours. In fact, I probably value my sisters dog's life more than yours. No offence - it's nothing personal - he's just a really great dog.
Anyway, far be it from me to try to summarise the thoughts presented by the Non-Prophets
crew, so I'll leave it to interested parties to listen to the episode itself
. The discussion in question begins at 49:07. I will, however, finish with a quote from my favourite Non-Prophet
, from that very episode:
"Where are all the Vegans volunteering for Chemotherapy to destroy their immune system and preserve the bacteria growing within them?"