Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence - but Sometimes They Actually Exist

in #philosophy3 years ago

I'm paraphrasing the late Christopher Hitchens when I say that if tomorrow the Pope were to say that he believes in God, I'd pay no attention to it, I'd just think "Oh, the Pope is doing his job again today, it's what he's supposed to do, no big deal". However, if instead, the Pope were to say "You know what, I'm no longer really sure about this whole God thing", he'd have my undivided attention.


Because a conclusion like that would take the Pope enormous effort to come up with.

He'd have to battle against his own beliefs, as well as social pressure - both of which would require strenuous mental exertion from him, among other things.

This would mean that there would have to be a good reason for him to state this new belief. Fighting what you've been taught, and doing so under the risk, or even certainty, of being socially ostracized is hard, and it's never something we do lightly.

This is why I've always felt that the easiest way to spot a boring person is when they never give a chance to someone who makes a claim they find outrageous.

If I were to say democracy is mob rules and a ridiculously flawed governance system, if I'm not given a chance to even explain myself, the other person is usually very dull, and it's unlikely that he or she has any interesting thoughts regarding anything. The person doesn't have to agree with me, but I find it annoying when even a chance isn't being given.

I've always found it interesting when people make such claims because I want to hear their reasons. No, the reasons are not always good, but I'm interested to hear.

Every time someone has to go against the social grain to hold an opinion, it means that holding that opinion takes work and dedication, which means that the person probably has a good reason for holding said opinion.

Sure, it's possible that the person is simply crazy, so this method isn't 100% reliable, so there's that, but I acknowledge it.

I will say even this:

If a libertarian tells me taxation is theft, it's very unlikely I'm interested in listening to that person, because I've heard it so many times and it's such a cliché that it takes someone in libertarian circles little to no effort to come up with the idea that taxation is theft that he probably didn't even come up with it on his own, but instead just parrots what people around him are saying.

Whereas if a libertarian were to tell me that maybe taxation is not theft, per se, after all, that would catch my interest, because there's probably actual thought behind this conclusion. It's taken effort to challenge the grain and think on one's own.

We may have a debate about it, we may disagree, or whatever, but it's a much more interesting discussion than "Taxation is theft!" and "Yeah, it sure is!"

I find it very frustrating whenever trying to express certain unfashionable opinions, and people never even give them a chance. Like in crypto circles when you bring up bitcoin's shortcomings as an actual currency. Because that's what the fucking point was, right? To bring forth a financial revolution, free from the government and banks. It won't, though, because it can't scale for shit, and it's not even mainstream yet.

But good luck trying to have a constructive conversation about that with a bitcoin enthusiast.

The most common "retort" to someone stating an unpopular opinion is that he's just stupid, somehow. Or in some other ways ignorant.

Like as if I haven't heard all the arguments before. As if I haven't been told all the great things accomplished by taxation before, and that's why I'm against them. And now that this smart person enlightens me about stuff like universal health care and whatever else, I will finally realize, for the first time, that we do, indeed, need heavy taxation in our lives.

It never crosses their mind that maybe the person has heard all these things before, and despite that, he still holds these views, so maybe he has a valid, thought out reason, and maybe it's worth hearing him about.

Because perhaps holding these views takes him extra work and effort, and for some reason, he's willing to go the extra mile.

Something to chew on.


I really enjoy people who can try on different ideas, challenge their own thinking and who consider other points of view.

I rarely have much interest in people who, "Totally Agree", with me.

I have noticed that about you also. You like ideas, opinions and some casual debate.

I love how you described the Pope's thought process.

There used to be a walking meme in a Facebook group me and my friend were in, called Cody. His entire contribution to every single discussion was "I completely agree".

That's all.

Well, sometimes he would say: "If it didn't make sense, it wouldn't happen."

He used to drive everyone nuts. It was great.

I disagree with giving people equal credit on certain things. Especially when it comes to religion. Bitcoin is another good example. Facts don't care about your feelings, god doesn't exist and bitcoin is a piece of shit.

"God doesn't exist" is a nonsensical claim.

I should specify that any organized religion with a written style of God does not exist, objectively. I'm open to an abstract style of creator, but to say that Christianity or Islam or whatever is the correct God is stupid and you deserve the utmost ridicule.

You don’t know that. You can assume that. But you don’t know that.

I just hope God exists because I hate atheists so much.

Not all, but the organized religion called ”atheism”.

unfalsifiable hypotheses are useless thought experiments. The Christian God is just as likely to exist as the little leprechaun in my shoes named Chip who loves to talk to me about spaghetti every night, but the catch is only I can see him and he has no physical manifestation that can be tracked.

It useless. Religion existed and continues to exist to control stupid people, plain and simple. The only acceptable religious views are deism or atheism on an agnostic spectrum. Theism is just the definition of cringe.

That said, most prominent atheists are pretty annoying, but I'll take annoying over preaching hatred and factually untrue garbage.

Nah. I'd say the Christian God has a stronger case going for it than a little leprechaun. There's an entire religion and a massive social movement around the idea of the Christian God. Not so much a leprechaun. The movement having started from people's experiences with Jesus.

And on a personal level, I think religion was a great thing to have around, regardless of whether I believe in God or not.

The Fear of God kept people in line. Everything's been degenerating since the rise of secularism.

Fear was a good motivator before the age of information

Or the age of misinformation.


Facts don't care about your feelings

Though facts are being (ab)used to create feelings.

god doesn't exist

But he does. As long as god is a concept in peoples minds and they create consensus about it.

Do you have an example for your first statement not giving equal credit?

god as an abstract concept does not equate to some guy that floods the earth and laughs at cancer

example for what specifically?

You said you disagree with giving people equal credit on certain things. Is that what you mean? That you don't give credit to a concept of god to someone who has it?

What about a concept of freedom? Do you have one? What, if some one elses concept about it is not aligned to yours? How do you create consensus with this person?

Concepts are not the same as definitive statements.

Sure about that?
What lives behind a statement? Does it come out of nowhere?

Yes, I am sure about that. Saying "God exists" as a definitive statement as in "There is a Man in the Sky that Floods the Earth and Laughs At Cancer" is untrue and not on equal footing with "2+2=4"

who does believe that anyway in the sense of a personalized God? Do you know people in person close to you who do so?

Sad that you don't want to connect on Discord.

This is the only post (and it is pretty short) that I enjoyed here on Steem in a whole week.

But I am on Discord. Teemu #4928

But...taxation is theft. At least for me.

And Bitcoin is the first actual shitcoin. I mean...that’s where the term “shitcoin” originated. Funny that maximalists now call everything not Bitcoin a shitcoin.

It is theft, but the statement gets boring at or around the 7,000th time you hear it.

The 'taxation is theft' claim probably has never convinced anyone that didn't believe it in the first palce. I find it a lot more productive lately to say 'well it makes kind of sense to have taxes for this and for that, but hey there are also downsides' and then talk about those and then after some discussions one can come back to question those other areas.

Yeah, that's very well said. That's my point exactly. It's a statement that will never convince anyone. It's just a form of circle jerking. It's said to get a pat on the back from people who already agree with you.

It's boring.

And the truth of it depends on one's definitions of "taxation" and "theft" only, so any discussion will be about said definitions and miss all depth.

It's also a useless statement, because any group of cooperating people will want to do some things collectively and together, because it is necessary or practical. The question then is what ways there are to do that, and which work and which don't.

Taxation being theft or not is completely uninteresting when you step back from doctrine and organise things for a group in the real world that needs to get some things done together.

I do think it is a great slogan for some belief system or other, though.

Cooperation is such an Orwellian word if you ask me.

It is said that if someone did what a rapist, robber, murderer "asked"
them to do under thread of or use of violence, that the victim cooperated.

But can you speak, in such a situation, of a cooperation between the people (in that group)?

I speak of cooperation more as people working together for mutual benefit....without forcing, or threads or violence on each other. But that is of course my opinion which would lead into the territory of definitions so I won't go any further.

Thank you for making my point.

You're welcome. You truly don't like having discussions with people who are not religiously believing in your faith, and you don't want those dogmas challenged. I get that, and respect that.

I completely agree

in fact, if it didn't make sense, it wouldn't happen!

Dude. :D

I couldn't resist haha

Good to read these elementary thoughts here. It's true what you're saying. Abbreviated statements that you've heard a dozen times are boring. Mostly when someone claims that taxes are theft, he says so on an emotional basis and suffers some form of deficiency. This often has nothing to do with taxes. More with the fact that the person who says this feels unfairly treated and misses emotional attention.

Did it happen to you that a fact-based conversation won't be very successful in such a case?

When you're talking to someone, whose job is it to interest you?

You want a witty conversationalist? Ask him witty and open-ended questions, which require a real interest on your part.

How have you experienced it when you still held on to a boring conversation or tried to convince someone?

Or did you experience, for example, that a boring conversation partner, after you asked him serious questions about his interests, could surprise you?

What if, on the other hand, you have met someone who, by asking you questions of interest, has given you a good feeling of inner coherence? What did this person do differently?

It seems you would like to maintain and build up this form of conversation, no? And I think that's good!

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