Do some argumentative people call themselves atheists just to maintain a contrarian persona even though they aren’t really atheists?

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Are you asking if there are 'trolls'? Sure. There are definitely 'secret theists' who just want to create discord in groups like this. But be careful about wishing that all the 'contrarians' would go away.

I come here to test ideas. I am an theist because religion doesn't stand up to testing very well at all. In fact, anything that says: "No testing" on the package has already failed. I enjoy discourse and can get 'passionate' about it. But I try not to get persoanl and rarely take anything that way. After all, this is an elctronic communication forum of total anonymous strangers. How personal can it be?

I think some people are sometimes overly passionate about certain arenas based on their experiences (for example an intelligent, undercompensated woman who has been raped - not a very rare but very real experience in our society). These people can seem rather contrarian because, based on their overall experience (and perception of those experiences), they have developed a reactionary stance that verges on paranoia and, certainly, creates a propensity for them to overemphasize certain interpretations of things people say.

I remember, back in the 80's in Seattle a certain event that happened more than once that flabergasted me. If I reach a door before someone else who is on my 'heels' - I hold the door for them. It doesn't matter who it is. Never has. Yet, more than once, when the person was a 'progressive woman' (which usually meant, among other things, atheist) I was confronted with something along the lines of; "What? You think I need a man to open a door for me?"

Look - I am not trying to generalize. There are some people who definitely fit this 'profile', however. If they have experienced a good deal of ongoing abuse that they have only noticed happen to people they can identify with (and much of this may be very real and pervasive) it can lead to a reactionary pathology. It can further lead to a proactive reactionary pathology that takes the form of crusade of sorts where they lash out at all the 'unfairness of things.'

I'm not sure, however, that any of these people are 'secret theists.'
After all, this is an elctronic communication forum of total anonymous strangers. How personal can it be?

Have you seen the documentary Tallhotblond?
Well - I've heard that people who are strangely even more gullible than gullible respond to those Nigerian emails by going in person because they 'don't quite trust' the situation and get kidnapped and killed.

I guess I assumed that atheism was a kind of 'gullibility filter' and, for the most part, none of us here lack the proscribed 'grain of salt' that would protect us from actually getting so caught up as to getting personally involved.

But - you're right - that is probably a pretty big assumption on my part.
So far in the last couple of months of being on A|N I have encountered all sorts of ninny dimwittery. This includes a huge group of homeopaths, theist apologists, ufo believers, maya doomsday followers, 911 conspiracy theorists - the list goes on quite a while.
The list goes on forever. Including every spectrum from the radical right to the radical left.
People on the internet aren't always who they say they are.

I think it's a good idea to point this out once in a while.
People - in general - are not who they say they are. It takes a pretty self-possessed person to KNOW who they are in the first place. But I see your point.
Because it is the internets, it isn't always a good idea to be who you say you are, either.

That's a point never brought enough in an electronic medium.
I am both truly atheist and argumentative to the point of just contrary at times. I like to argue and get to the root of ideas even if this means arguing against my own point-of-view at times. However, I do try to avoid doing this on-line, there is not enough feedback to let me know if I may have gone too far (voice, face, etc) or not far enough.
Trolling is 'bad' because it is all about baiting, however, no one has to take the bait. (I can even see at least two sides to the tolling debate) This does not make all argument or even a tenancy to argue a bad thing. I'm more concerned when no one argues, this makes me question the honesty, interest, or validity of responses.
It appears I should have clarified. I would not generally bother debating things like water is wet, but technically it could be argued that water is a liquid and wet is an interpretation of a sensation. Language is always symbolic by its very nature.
That being said, I was apparently being too general.
Honesty, some people are just agreeable sorts who will not argue with others, but also will not point out what they feel or what actually is incorrect.
Interest some people just are not interested in a particular idea enough to argue about it which means I'm probably not asking the right way or it I've missed all of the other information out there on a topic.
Validity, this can speak to both honesty and interest because I could have an invalid starting point or the responses could be the previously mentioned tangents.
One of my favorite people in the world has called me just to get someone to argue with her, generally about language usage. She knows I'm feeling ready when I bring out the "Well technically"
I call the 'lack of information' you speak of 'textual vaccum'. I guess I feel that I cannot be held responsible if someone takes something wrong - unless they express some clue that they did and I 'check back'. I usually will attempt to clarify how I actually meant something.
You can't see a gap if someone doesn't mention it. I don't know if someone just decides I'm a 'troll' when I attempt to test an argument from a different perspective, or use terminology others may find offensive (for reasons of 'sensibility' or whatnot.)

I have noticed people going off on a tangent that seems to indicate they have entirely missed what I was trying to say. I try to catch these and clarify them as well. But silence caused by misinterpretation cannot be 'caught' in a forum like this. And, there is the lack of body language, tone, facial expression and other clues.
To add to your comment: I tend to want to write sarcasm. When I do it often backfires.

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