but how did ‘skeptic’ come to mean ‘so-called-‘rational’ atheist who feverently defends beliefs even when they’re contradicted by reason just as much as fundamentalist Christians do’
it’s not even close to the actual meaning
most of the people I’ve met who could be described as actual…
Ras we had this conversation but I can’t remember how it went.
Well, there are two relevant conversations. The first one went something like this:
Ideologies are dangerous. I’m pretty sure that the way it works for a lot of people is that they have a bunch of ideas, and they find a community of people with similar ideas and, in fact, a much better developed structure that accounts for things you didn’t consider, most of which you agree with. So you join that group; you start calling yourself a skeptic (or a communist or a yoan or whatever; let’s stick with ‘skeptic’ for the purpose of this text), because that’s a fitting description.
Besides, you need friends. Because your system is better, right? I mean, you wouldn’t be calling yourself a skeptic if you didn’t believe the scientific method was in some way superior to the alternatives. Unfortunately, a lot of people are doing it wrong. Not only are they wrong, some of them are dangerously wrong. Corporate shills denying global climate change, cults brainwashing kids, desperate cancer patients pissing away their lives and savings to be fed lies by quacks. They’re hurting people. They’re killing people. So of course you fight them.
But the more you fight, the more you see the kind of bullshit those people do, and it makes you angrier and angrier. Pretty soon, they’re not just people who are wrong - they become the enemy. I mean, you can only hear “if people evolved from monkeys, how are there still monkeys? lol got you see I proved all fags deserve to die” so many times before “I think believing in the divine is scientifically unsound” turns into “FUCK YOU AND YOUR SUPERSTITIOUS BRONZE AGE HORSESHIT!”
You lose sight. You drown in very human irrationality - your genuine quest for truth turns into “us vs. them.”
That’s what happened to me, anyway.
I got over it.
The second conversations is also relevant, and it went like so:
In my experience, people don’t pick a core ideology and then extrapolate the rest of their beliefs from that. Instead, they take the sum of their pre-existing beliefs and then choose to identify with an ideology that they see as appropriate or just.
This usually involves crowbaring all your biases under the heading of that ideology. Religious racist? God says black people are inferior. Secular racist? Science says black people are inferior. Either will cherry-pick and creatively interpret sources to support their position.
It’s just human nature, honestly. We’re really bad at changing our minds. Think about it; the first time someone tells you something, you usually accept it at face value unless you have specific reason to doubt. But when someone contradicts that something, you immediately assume the contradiction is false unless they can provide evidence - something you didn’t even ask for the first time.
I think skeptics are extra vulnerable because we have a nasty tendency of thinking we’re “above” base human instinct, effectively becoming blind to our own irrationality.
tl;dr: humans are stupid pack animals and those who think they’ve moved on from that end up as just another pack
Look at otherkin article on Rational Wiki.
“Although Otherkin beliefs deviate from the definition of religion, they share the primary interest in the unprovable.”
“The otherkin subculture”
Assumptions that that being Otherkin is an intellectual position comparable to religious belief.
Belittling on the basis of implied (mental) health problems. (lol u hav rabiers)
The classical “people cannot be wrong for any other reason than being CRAZY AND STUPID” (note ableism)
Assuming you can just choose to be or not be… well, anything.
This is some 19th century bullshit, guys. I thought we were done with belittling and “correcting” the neurodivergent. Even if otherkin do have “a serious mental problem” like some of you seem to think, you can’t argue them out of it. Even if it’s an acquired trait, you can’t argue them out of it. There isn’t even much reason to try. It’s not exactly crippling. You can’t dismiss the entire friggin’ condition on the account that it’s linked to some unscientific ideas. These are (biologically) human beings we’re talking about, here. We’re more complicated than that.
This is why nobody likes us.
I think the most depressing thing I’ve noticed about the way humans function is that we’re shit at empathy and rationality. Take politics. Consider who makes up the right wing: rich, priviledged people. Old, white men who want to maintain the status quo because it benefits them. Egotistical fucks, rights?
But then look at the left wing. Who do we have here? Workers, poor people, people of colour. The downtrodden and disenfranchized. They support an ideology that preaches equality for all because they support justice and utilitarianism, right? Wrong. They want to upset the status quo by moving wealth from rich people to less priviledged sectors of society, because that would benefit them.
And look at any marginalized group. Rich queers are still classist. Bronies, whose entire schtick is not conforming to popular gender roles, have alarming racist and sexist tendencies. When the allies finally learned of the nazi concentration camps, they immediately freed all the jews. When they found out there’d been homosexuals in there, they put them back in. Most activists aren’t upset because injustice has been done; they’re upset because they got the short end of the stick. Put the exact same person on the opposite end of the priviledge spectrum and I can almost guarantee you their rhetoric would do a 180 along with them.
This is the problem with the social justice movement as a whole. And the anti-social justice movement. Any movement, really. Instead of taking a sound, utilitarian moral code (“As many people as possible should be as content with their lives as possible”) and then deducing the particulars (“Homophobia is stupid and unwarranted,” “Free speech ought to be a human right,” “Universal healthcare is beneficial to the nation”) through facts and logic, they jump straight to whatever cause is relevant to them and start screeching and preaching.
It’s also why I don’t go to protests and rallies. I hate slogans and catchphrases, because they’re clear signs that you’ve given up on arguing and have defaulted to propaganda and groupthink. I hate arguments from emotion, because they’re not valid, only manipulative. I hate any call to unity, because you are telling me to put aside the power of reason in favor of power in numbers.
The worst part is that it has to be this way, specifically because humans are not rational creatures. A show of force in the form of ten thousand protesters shouting slogans does a lot more to change the minds of people than the most carefully thought out rational argument. The disenfranchized need group identity and emotional validation to effect real change.
I just wish it didn’t have to be that way. So please, just think about your underlying moral principles. Think about why you have certain opinions. If you start really reasoning with yourself (and listening to others), I think you’ll find that a lot of the things you think, you think for really dumb reasons. And don’t let yourself be fooled because your opinions and theories happen to be correct; if you believe the right thing for the wrong reasons, you are still wrong.
Way too much stupidity exists because people fail to analyze their own motives.