It was with great boredom and no small sense of anticipation that I signed on to Atheist Nexus today. After setting up my account over a year ago (I think), I hadn't touched it.
After accepting the single friend request from a stranger, I began to browse about. I was eventually drawn to the chat feature.
The discussion was hot and heavy between two individuals. The topic was smoking, its health impact for those near it, and the possible rules and regulations that should mitigate any on the negative side of the spectrum (which admittedly, is nearly the entirety of the result of smoking).
After reading the ensuing exchange for a few minutes, my confusion and disenchantment grew. This was the Atheist Nexus, a bastion for at least reasonably well-thinking folk. Yet, here before me, were obvious logical fallacies, unsound argumentative constructs and a general lack of valid reason.
On one side, a young lady declared she had a "hate" for any and all smokers, including her sister. Suspected hyperbole soon faded from my mind as her tirade continued.
Opposing her was a gentleman who apparently had no better response than to call anti-smokers "intolerant" - something that seems a bit infantile in the face of a health issue.
After jumping in and attempting to inject some semblance of my own meager understanding of effective discussion, and the piling on of one other fellow, the discussion soon degenerated into appeals for sympathy, anecdotal evidence, and statements of absolutism.
When asked, the young lady declared that she was 100% certain that her position was correct. She was also 100% certain that 100% of smokers would never be unable to quit through psychological and physical addictions or anomalies. I attempted to express to her that in her certitude, she had precluded any chance for a meaningful exchange; that her unwillingness to be swayed was tantamount to close-minded faith.
The responses were equally ridiculous and depressing.
Within any community, outliers will be present that cannot fully account for the demeanor of the whole. However, these issues in the frame of the discussion are fundamental and quite easy to recognize and understand. What does it say for us that people like these are active in our community, when the very tenets that bring us here are misunderstood or misapplied? At what price is our raising of consciousness achieved?