Posts Tagged “beliefs”

Veracicat has checked your facts and is not impressed with your lies. (PsiCop, based on original from I blogged a little while ago, we now live in a post-truth world. Facts no longer matter, and no one gives a flying fuck about veracity. Worse than merely dismissing the need for reliance on fact, many people now openly express contempt for veracity. Wild speculation and antic sanctimony are what rules them, and anything contrary is viewed as an existential threat to their persons.

This view of veracity not being merely unimportant, but antithetical to one’s own existence, can lead to some very real dangers. I have two examples of this extreme for your consideration.

The first is “pizzagate,” the utterly absurd Right-wing political trope that got so far out of control that a man showed up at a Washington pizzeria and fired a gun there, supposedly in an effort to “investigate” the controversy. The Washington Post has a story on how this asinine foolishness started, how it escalated to gunplay, and — worst of all — how it will never go away — in spite of the fact that there’s not one stitch of evidence to support any of its contentions (WebCite cached article).

The whole “pizzagate” ridiculousness is only a month old … but my other example today has been brewing for years, and doesn’t appear to be letting up. That involves the so-called “Sandy Hook hoax.” The “hoax” here, of course, is that the Sandy Hook shootings are — sadly — not a “hoax” at all. The “hoax” comes from those who keep calling it a “hoax.” This is something we’ve dealt with, here in my home state of Connecticut, since those shootings occurred 4 years ago. USA Today reports on just the latest example of the dangers that keep spinning out of the “Sandy Hook truther” movement (cached):

A Florida woman who believes the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting was a hoax was arrested Monday on charges she threatened the parent of a child killed in the 2012 school shooting.

Lucy Richards, 57, of Tampa, Fla., was indicted on four counts of transmitting threats, according to a statement from the United States Attorney Southern District of Florida.…

According to authorities, Richards made a series of death threats against the parent of a child who was killed in the shooting.

Death threats aren’t new to survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting, unfortunately. Truthers have gone after them repeatedly, and no doubt will continue to do so … forever.

Lies such as “pizzagate” and the Sandy hook “truther” movement have power, because those who hold onto them resist correction. No amount of debunking will work. If you ask them, this is because (as they see it) the mass media are debunking it, and the media are not to be trusted. The media lie, you see. All the time. Every time! Without letup. And they can even point to things that — they think — support that view, such as the fact that no chemical weapons were found after the US invaded Iraq on the pretense that chemical weapons were there. (This very example was mentioned in the WaPo article I cited above.)

So in their minds, they’re free to cling desperately, and sanctimoniously, to any laughable, counter-factual trope they want to.

There are many problems with this view. First, just because the media have sometimes been wrong, doesn’t make them “always-wrong.” It just doesn’t work that way. Second, the example of Iraq and chemical weapons is a false one, since it wasn’t the mass media themselves who claimed chemical weapons were there; it was the G.W. Bush administration, and the media simply reported that claim. (And contrary to popular belief, many outlets were skeptical … but without any ability to dig around freely in Iraq themselves, the media’s ability to verify this was limited.) Third, the notion that the mass media are arrayed “against” the folk who cling to their lies is a known psychological phenomenon, the hostile media effect. It is this, coupled with another psychological phenomenon known as the backfire effect, which prevents people from giving up the lies they love.

But really, I’m no longer interested in anyone’s excuses for clinging to lies. I really don’t fucking care that distrust of the Clintons and their minions is what ultimately led to “pizzagate.” I mean, I don’t trust them myself … but that doesn’t mean I’m going to buy into that phony trope. I also don’t fucking care that it’s mainly gun fanatics who’re convinced Sandy Hook was a hoax, and they’re concerned someone might take their firearms away. None of that matters to me. All I care about are facts and veracity. I will continue to care about them for as long as I live. If that makes me some kind of hateful, intellectual, elitist ogre, then I guess that’s what I am.

Photo credit: PsiCop, based on original from

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New Yorker cartoon cover w/ObamasHere’s yet another news item of the “water is wet” variety. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Republicans in the deep south remain convinced President Barack Obama is a Muslim (WebCite cached article):

After years of battling false claims and viral emails alleging that he is a Muslim, President Obama hasn’t gotten far among Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi – about half still believe he is Muslim and about 1 in 4 believes his parents’ interracial marriage should have been illegal, a new poll shows. …

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Recalling his childhood, Obama has said his family did not go to church every week, but said his faith grew as he got older and that his Christian beliefs have guided his career in public service.

People retain this irrational belief — in spite of the fact that both Obama himself, and politicians of both parties, have all said that he’s a Christian — because of something known as the “backfire effect.” This is a psychological phenomenon in which people retain untrue notions despite having their falsehood demonstrated, and in fact, they become even more intractably attached to the incorrect belief. I’ve blogged on this effect before. None of the researchers who’ve noted this phenomenon have offered any explanation for how it happens. My guess is, it results from the emotional attachment people have to their irrational beliefs; when faced with compelling evidence they’re false, they simply retrench and continue to tell themselves it’s true, because they can’t handle the emotional pain that would follow from letting go of the (false) belief. They really and truly prefer to lie to themselves, and others, rather than just admit they were wrong.

It’s like when a child plugs his ears, clamps his or her eyes shut, and yammers, so that s/he doesn’t have to hear something s/he’d rather not have to hear. In other words … it’s childish. Yes, folks, this means the Republican party in the deep south is populated mainly by little children who need to fucking grow the hell up for once and get over it already.

As for the legality of interracial marriage, that was established decades ago, by the US Supreme Court, in its decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967). I suppose people can believe anything they want to about it, including that it should be illegal, but it is legal nevertheless and it will remain legal indefinitely, in spite of their belief. Mature adults would just accept that fact and move on with their lives … but the GOP in the deep south is far too juvenile to do that, apparently.

Hat tip: Lordrag at Pulling to the Left on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: New Yorker cover courtesy of scriptingnews, via Flickr.

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Sky viewAbout 9 years ago, on a lark, I wrote what I consider to be a humorous essay on Christian theology, for the AntiBible Project forum on Delphi forums. I’d been a frequent contributor there for some time, back then, and remain one even all these years later. My goal had been to illustrate a few things about Christian theology which are difficult, if not impossible, to convey directly.

This essay has been posted there ever since, but right about then was the zenith of Delphi Forums’ popularity. People tend to venture to other Internet venues now. So I thought it was time to extract this essay from the forum archives and post it here for a larger audience to read.

At any rate, I hope you will read and enjoy the essay, which I call “Divine Psychotherapy” … even though it might seem long and rambling. Thank you.

Photo credit: therapyme.

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Sistine Chapel ceiling, VaticanIf you search the Internet for the phrase “spiritual but not religious,” you’ll get thousands of hits. (Try it on Bing, Yahoo, and Google, if you want.) Here is but one example of many I might offer, from the Louisville Courier-Journal:

About a dozen people huddled at a Poplar Level Road coffeehouse on a recent evening, drawn by the discussion topic, “I’m Not Religious … I’m Spiritual.”

They spoke of their alienation from clergy, creeds, congregations and sermons of condemnation.

They spoke of connection to the divine through laughter and nature, of mystic connections with deceased love ones, of the awe of a newborn baby or the Milky Way on a clear winter night.

People widely assume this phrase has some meaning … but in reality, it’s a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing as “spiritual but not religious.”

This may appear an extreme statement, but it’s not. I base it on standard dictionary definitions of the word “religious.” Have a look at the following such definitions:

Source Definition


a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Encarta Dictionary

people’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life

American Heritage Dictionary

Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe


a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices (with religious meaning “relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity”)

Compact Oxford English Dictionary

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods

All of these definitions of “religion” — along with others that I might offer — also cover the meaning of the term “spiritual.” Ultimately, everything “spiritual” is also — again, according to the above definitions — “religious.”

I understand there are folks who object to the trappings of “organized religion.” The Courier-Journal article I cited makes that clear. The truth, however, is that “religion” need not be “organized” in order to be “religion.” Three of these definitions explicitly state that “religion” can be either “personal” or “institutional” — meaning that “organization” is specifically not a criterion for “religion.” It is, therefore, quite possible to have a “non-organized religion” in addition to an “organized religion.”

It’s time for believers in non-institutional or non-standard religious notions — including all the varieties of “New Agers,” neopagans, adherents of Wicca, witchcraft, even Buddhism and other metaphysical philosophies, etc. — to stop misrepresenting themselves and admit what they are: Religious. Honest, it won’t hurt you to ‘fess up to the truth. You might not want to connect yourself to the negative connotations that are usually associated with the word “religion”; but the metaphorical shoe fits, so wear it. If other “religious” folk are making you look bad, then do something about it, instead of trying to divest yourself from them.

Note: I now have a static page which goes over this in a little more detail.

Photo credit: Richard Carter, via Flickr.

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