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?

Views: 2

Tags: atheist, atheists, community, freethinking, irrational, of, state


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Comment by Joey on July 25, 2009 at 10:48pm
@Catana: Ah. Well. Bugger.
I apologize, then.
I should've caught the word "some" in there.
I spent 2 hours today arguing with someone that basically thought admitting to atheism was trying to force it on others. I should've waited to calm down a bit from that.
Comment by Joey on July 25, 2009 at 8:56pm
@sean: I've never used the chat feature, so I'm not sure what goes on there. We have the random troll, woo peddler, and conspiracy theorist turn up in blogs and discussions, but they're usually blown to pieces fairly quickly.
It's pretty rare a person can be 100% rational 100% of the time.
Sometimes we all need someone to tell us we're being irrational when we've gotten too worked up. (Thought I'm not sure "You're being irrational." is the best way to put it. I'd use something about "calming down a bit".)

Here's a tip: People that dislike religion aren't always irrational. Not even hating religion is irrational.
The definition of rational isn't "Agrees with me".

Of course, it is far easier to lump behavior you dislike into a group and call it irrational. No TRUE atheist would be mean to religious people, after all.
Comment by Karla on July 25, 2009 at 5:51pm
things sure did stray off the subject here, lol, but that's part of the fun in this site, participation and plenty of chat, wherever it goes. I always thought people turned to Atheism because none of the answers they were getting made any true sense, that's why I made the move. My family still doesn't get it, if you don't have answers, don't pretend to have them!!!
Comment by sean hogge on July 25, 2009 at 5:14pm
K Walker: I turned to atheism for other reasons. Did you turn to atheism out of fear or retribution?

Jay: I don't hate it. I just don't want to use it.
Comment by K. Walker on July 25, 2009 at 5:10pm
Catana: you know people that have turned to Atheism for other reasons? I don't know of such people, tell me more. Private Email me if you wish, this sounds interesting.
Comment by Jay on July 25, 2009 at 5:09pm
Sometimes you have to ruffle a few feathers to cause change imo. But why hate on the water vapor one despite its price. Practically every smoker I know that has tried it out loved it. I agree that some of the restrictions on smoking are ridiculous. When I used to smoke, I went to this Irish pub once and one of the workers there said i couldnt smoke inside. At first i went like "wtf?" but i took my cig and drink outside (fake IDs are a win). They had tables set up outside. Before I could try to smoke, a waitress walks up to me and tells me I can't smoke. I look up at her and say "Are freaking kidding me? Lady, do you realize that we are right next to a fucking bus stop and the fumes coming from the buses are in this spot too." She said "I know but it's the rule here at this pub." She then points to an area nearby, just like 2 or 3 feet away from where I was sitting. So every time i wanted to smoke, I had to get up. Every time I went for my drink, i had to sit down. over and over again. So I understand the frustration of smokers over these type of rules and policies. Some of them are ridiculous. Some of them are not despite my objections. (Hence why I love the water vapor cigs, they easily bypass these rules and they are good imo). I don't advocate for the removal of all the rules regarding cigs but rather I advocate sensible ones. Not ones that a fear-induced public advocates.
Comment by sean hogge on July 25, 2009 at 4:48pm
Catana: That all seems spot-on from what I can tell. I should clarify that I don't think this encounter was representative of the Atheist Nexus community as a whole, as I tried to less directly state in the post.

I am not shocked at people like those I described or those that you described exist. What I find unnerving is that those people seem to be incapable of learning the folly of such systems. I myself claimed atheism long before I truly had reason to, and the lessons prior were no less harsh than those that followed.

I suppose I simply resent that the hypocrisy of claiming rationality in an irrational manner is possible within our community. I don't wish to discount those that do apply their most logical and unforgiving criticisms to their own thought, but I maintain that we shouldn't be the minority. Should I truly expect the lowest denominator to be the lowest common denominator?

Jay: I disagree with that assessment, but it has merit. I personally tend to scoff at the water vapor cigarette. If enough smokers could be convinced, then I would be all for it, despite my personal dismissal.

Cliff: Informal evidence indicates that most smokers are at least a little caring, but that they generally become confrontational at provocation - sometimes justified, sometimes not. That's all a discussion for another day.

Antoyne: That's one of the thornier issues, and resolution doesn't seem straight-forward.
Comment by Karla on July 25, 2009 at 4:36pm
Social smoker here, only when out with friends occasionally. Sean, sounds like you take all this much too seriously guy. We're not all the hateful woman from the blog you speak of, judge the Atheist Nexus with compassion and read around to find less depressing chats maybe.
Comment by Jay on July 25, 2009 at 4:12pm
I was in that convo early on and pointed out that if water vapor cigs were cheaper we probably wouldnt be having such intolerance on each side. (Reduced nicotine intake by the smoker and water vapor is expelled instead of harmful smoke).

But I don't think u should really judge a site's community based on the chat feature. It's sort of an inherent rule that those conversations are more about speed and mud slinging than actual debate. Just my 2 cents.
Comment by sean hogge on July 25, 2009 at 4:00pm
I can't say that what you said makes much more sense than what they did. As a smoker, I can say that I don't wish to "destroy the air [you] breath (sic)." I wish to exercise my right in such a manner that I'm not unduly put out while also not negatively affecting others around me.

Also, how does one "mentally take action?" Do you thought-riot? Is it a brain-in? I don't know.

And lastly, none of that addresses the main point.

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