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What is "Sacred?"

Started this discussion. Last reply by Tom Sarbeck Apr 1, 2013. 11 Replies


Started this discussion. Last reply by The Nerd Sep 29, 2008. 1 Reply


Your feelings are being exploited

My mother told me when I was very young that “mothers know everything you do even if they can’t see you.” I easily assumed this because I was also raised as a Christian and taught that God had this power, so by default I assumed that all adults had this power too.

I still have a fragment of subconsciousness that assumes people know the same things I know. It’s completely untrue, but this delusion fragment is reinforced by rational or irrational feelings of guilt or anxiety.

There was a story on This American Life (#487-488) about a student at Harper High School who described intense feelings of intimidation when people looked at him, as if they were directly judging him.

At that age it’s easy to feel like you are being disrespected or judged by people, even when they are busy thinking about their own lives and don't know anything about you.

The boy in the episode was suffering from the experience of accidentally shooting his fourteen year-old brother. His feelings of guilt ever present made him assume that even people who didn’t know him were judging him.

The intensity of certain emotions heightens one’s feelings of being scrutinized or judged by everyone. This is a very common emotional state that is highly exploitable by despicable self-appointed leaders of every organization or group.

Further research into why people refuse to accept evidence that refutes their belief system.

I found a thumb drive with a bunch of files from my college days. I found this old text file that may be relevant to understanding why directly debating science with the religious may be an exercise in futility.

Felson, Richard B. Aggression as Impression Management; Social Psychology, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Sep., 1978) 205-213

This paper suggests six propositions from impression management theory to account for interpretational aggression where there is no material gain, and reviews evidence supporting these propositions. This approach suggests that initial attacks are often inadvertent and that retaliation may be an attempt to reinstate a fravorable situational identity when on has been attacked. The approach is particularly useful in: (1) explaining why perceived intentional attack elicits aggression; (2) recognizing the importance of role relationship for interpersonal aggression; (3) handling the processual nature of aggressive encounters; and (4) clarifying the relationship between interpersonal conflict and aggression.

In other words, the tendency toward aggression as a display of hierarchical competition within a pack of humans.
Aggression as a reaction to intolerant expression.

Frustration-aggression hypothesis: an aggressive response reaction to oppression.

Social Learning theory: Dissonance is reduced when one decides to no longer compete for the top position and accepts a comfortable medium between humiliation from association to the lower order and oppression from the upper order.

Symbolic Interactionism: behavior performed in private may reflect concern for the reaction of an internalized audience (see Mead, 1934, on the "generalized other").
Persons tend to behave in ways that are consistent with internalized values or identities.

Impression management theory: focuses on external audiences and public behavior.
A person's behavior is a function of the behavior and values of an audience.
A participant has two relevant (external) audiences: the antagonist(s) and third-party onlookers.
The audience may altercast ego into a situational identity or, by revealing its values, may indicate how a favorable situational identity might be achieved.
Public behavior and information revealed to audiences tend to reflect more favorably on self than do provate behavior and information concealed.

Situational Identity Theory ( "Reputation" )

Proposition 1. Altercasting a person into a negative situational identity tends to result in retaliation, when the target perceives the behavior as illegitimate and intentional.

Proposition 2. Conditions or events that negate the sutuational identity imputed by an unanswered attack make retaliation less likely.

Proposition 3. Persons will alter their aggresive behavior in order to be consistent with the perceived values of the third party audience.

Proposition 4. Ego is more likely to retaliate against alter if a third party observes alter's attack on him.

Proposition 5. Ego will tend to conceal evidence of having lost an aggressive encounter and will tend to reveal evidence of having participated or won.
Sermat (1964) found that subjects made more uncooperative, harmful choices in a competitive game when they thought their uncooperative opponents were being informed of their choices.

Proposition 6. The greater a person's concern for identity, the more likely he is to alter his aggressive behavior in order to attain a favorable situational identity or avoid a negative situational identity.

An anonymous reviewer has suggested that persons may differ in the extent to which they are willing to risk negative responses in order to obtain positive ones. (i.e. risking reputation for an extraordinary financial reward)

Proposition 6 has at least two implications:
1. For some persons , performance in aggresive encounters may assume particular significance for selff. Aggression may be more likely to occur and escalate because these persons have more at stake in these encounters. This may partly explain the greater propensity of persons of lower socioeconomic status to engage in violence. Achievement in aggressive encounters may be more important for them since they have fewer activities upon which a positive identity can be based.
2. Self-consciousness in a situation should make the implications of one's behavior for self more salient, and thereby increase the extent to which behavior is consistent with these identities. Studies of the effect of objective self-awareness on aggression shows that the presence of a mirror inhibits the delivery of shock to felames (presumably an inappropriate behavior) but increases shock delivery to makes when it is emphasized that shock is helpful to learning. (Scheier at al., 1974; Carver, 1974). These studies suggest that aggression may also reflect concern for an internalized audience.

Subjects interpret the presence of weapons in an experimenter's office as information about his values, and that this increases subjects aggression when they are concerned with being evaluated. (Page and Scheidt, 1971l; Turner and Simmons, 1974).

At least four types of conditions or events may make retaliation less likely:
(1). The attack lacks credibility due to the situational identity of the aggressor. (If the attacker stumbles over his words, or is a small child, retaliation is less likely.)
(2). The aggressor apologizes for the slight, even if the target questions the aggressor's sincerety.
(3). A third party intervenes and retaliates on one's behalf.
(4). A third party intervenes in the role of mediator.

Much of human behavior is designed to obtain favorable reactions from an audience. Persons are aware that they are being categorized or typified by others in a situation and they seek to make these categorizations or "situational identities" (Weinstein, 1969) favorable.

Aggression that is not attached to material gain, or may even be materially costly.
1. Given that people mayt disapprove of others and their actions, and given that others expect to be treated with respect, an inherent source of conflict is produced. Disapproval, when expressed honestly to others, may be taken as offensive by those others, whether or not the offense is intended.

Perceiving verbal and physical attacks as intentional, rather than experiencing failure at task, leads subjects to harm others.

Research with children in natural settings also suggests that it is hostile actions that elicit aggression.

Studies of homicides and assaults indicate that such encounters are instigated by an insult from one of the participants.

Two reasons why an insult is likely to result in a counterattack:
1. an insult releases the target from the obligation to be polite toward the person who has attacked him.
2. an insult "altercasts" or places the target into an unfavorable situational identity (Weinstein and Deitchberger, 1963) by making the person appear weak, incompetent, and cowardly. A successful counterattack is one effective way of nullifying the imputed negative identity by showing one's strength, competence, and courage.

An attack on on self initiates a conflict in which participants may attempt to harm their opponents in their competition for favorable situational identities.

Counterattack is not the only response to an attack.
If the target perceives the insult as legitimate or justified, another response is to accept the imputed identity and perhaps apologize. (i.e. constructive criticism)

If the target perceives the material costs as too high, he may "back down" and perhaps achieve some satisfaction with a fantasy about retaliation.

Under certain conditions, retaliation may be viewed as vindictive or vengeful, and thus elicit a negative reaction, in which case "playing it cool", or "turning the other cheek" may be effective.

Variations in the Salience of Identity and Aggression:
The importance of identity varies across persons and situations. Persons who are concerned with the audience's reaction because, for example, they are unsure of themselves or are dependent on the audience for rewards (see Jones, 1964, on ingratiation), are more likely to alter their behavior to make it more acceptable to an audience

The goal is to determine the intentions of debate or argument. Are the arguments or debates that take place on television, an extention of a conflict that is based entirely on aggression between two perceived opinion leaders?

Why are some debates such as Abortion and Gay Marriage perceived as more important than the personal well-being of the public? Are these types of debate chosen because

Attempts to fracture the secular movement

I had my suspicions about the "Atheist+" movement and the attempts to discredit atheists as a class by insinuating a culture of sexual harassment because of events at a recent convention.

But now since a Psyops manual was published at The Intercept, the attempts by various groups to fracture the secular community became a little clearer. I couldn't understand why someone thought it necessary to splinter off into another group called Atheist+ when the arguments that allege their outstanding qualities from the rest of us are reasonable and practicable for everyone.

Someone thought they would be clever by using gender differences as an emotional fracture point to splinter the atheists movement, and unfortunately a few saw this coming and immediately jumped on a bandwagon decrying a need for a special atheist feminist movement.

These kinds of tactics shouldn't work on rational critical thinkers. As humans we still make decisions with our emotions and get pulled into debates by trolls from time-to-time, but always remember the evidence or lack thereof for any claim.

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Tom Sarbeck replied to Atheist Insurgency's discussion What is "Sacred?"
"The New Oxford American Dictionary suggests comparing "sacred" and "secular". NOAD defines "secular" as having no religious or spiritual basis, so it warrants criticism as "atheist" does (because it implies…"
Apr 1, 2013
Loren Miller replied to Atheist Insurgency's discussion What is "Sacred?"
""Set apart" is right on the money, as in not subject to scrutiny or critical analysis.  More like "leave your brain at the door, because if you use your brain, you'll see right through the snake oil we're trying to sell…"
Apr 1, 2013
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A lot has changed since I was here last at I finally moved out of the Bible Belt. There were a few atheists in central Illinois, but we were up against religious institutions so deeply entrenched in state and local government that putting forward progressive rational public policy is met with vicious, irrational hatred and bigotry. The state would rather have unquestioning loyal sheep that vote on name recognition alone than to have people who question authority and demand…See More
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Posted on August 25, 2012 at 5:07pm 0 Comments

A lot has changed since I was here last at I finally moved out of the Bible Belt. There were a few atheists in central Illinois, but we were up against religious institutions so deeply entrenched in state and local government that putting forward progressive rational public policy is met with vicious, irrational hatred and bigotry. The state would rather have unquestioning loyal sheep that vote on name recognition alone than to have people who question authority and demand…


Reading book reviews of The God Virus

Posted on January 18, 2011 at 12:42am 1 Comment

I still haven't read Dawkins. I'm getting most my information from posts, comments, my personal experiences, and my Communication education. Most of the ideas I come up with fall in line with Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and others, but I certainly don't mean to plagiarize anyone's work, and I would hate to put a huge effort into a book only to discover that I re-invented the wheel.


I guess I'll just have to start forking over the cash for a whole library of atheist…


Public Education in the United States of America

Posted on January 11, 2011 at 6:17am 0 Comments

It's a crazy conspiracy theory that education is deliberately stifled in the U.S. right? Wrong. First and foremost, I was never taught critical thinking skills in District 186 in Springfield, Illinois. I was never even taught that there was such a think as "critical thinking" until I went to college.

So, what purpose is served by deliberately limiting or suppressing knowlege?

A primary law of economy states that a product's value is inverse to it's available quantity. In… Continue

Muqtada al-Sadr

Posted on January 7, 2011 at 9:19pm 0 Comments

As U.S. Troops were reportedly nearing the city's outskirts, Muqtada al-Sadr was preparing several squads for guardianship of the ancient relics of Iraqi history. He sent troops to guard the museum that contained some of the earliest relics or human activity on the face of the planet. He was there to prevent looting. U.S. troops were totally indifferent to the building and its contents. Was it worth it to piss him off? He wasn't there to defend Saddam. He was perceived as a threat and…


Gender Judgement question

Posted on July 5, 2010 at 10:00am 8 Comments

You might think this is a stupid question, and I would like answers for real so please leave comments:

If you knew that you would never be judged against your gender, never be criticized for not being "manly" or "womanly" what do you imagine your life might be like?

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At 11:47pm on January 3, 2011, Josh Trott said…
Checked out your blog and your website, have you ever thought about publicly debating theists? If not, or even if you have, I'm trying to get a group together here in Springfield to do just that, confront the delusion that is religion. I'm thinking about calling the group "The Logic Squad", but your name and website gave me an idea for a different one if you're in agreement to at least allowing me to use it, the "Atheist Insurgency Debate Squad". The initials aren't coincidence either, I'd like to spread rationality and reason like AIDS.
At 6:53am on January 6, 2010, Rick said…
At 3:43pm on July 24, 2009, Little Name Atheist said…
I've never wished an entire insurgency a happy birthday before.

Happy Birthday!
At 4:09pm on May 28, 2009, Rick said…
Just wanted to say HI
At 1:01pm on May 8, 2009, A Former Member said…
Hey, thanks for the group invite you sent a while back. I didn't mean to just ignore you. I think I'll pass on that for right now. I'm already in 27 groups, and I can't keep up now as it is. Good luck.
At 6:45pm on November 29, 2008, A Former Member said…
I like Prayin' Aint Learnin'.
At 11:36am on November 28, 2008, Atheist Insurgency said…

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