Social Question

iamthemob's avatar

When do you think mocking a belief is warranted?

Asked by iamthemob (17147points) September 15th, 2010

All answers appreciated…but please be thoughtful as much as possible. I am also curious what people consider to be “criticism” of a belief and not mocking. Specific examples would be extremely helpful (but please, no one assume that one person’s specific examples are either their own beliefs or an across-the-board rule unless they say it is).

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91 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

We mock that which we do not understand or have the patience to even try.

TexasDude's avatar

I avoid mocking beliefs as much as possible, no matter how absurd they are. I will mock beliefs that are almost universally accepted as wrong, though, like the Klan, or whatever.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When the alternative is homicidal action due to righteous indignation and anger upon being faced with discrimination (because of someone’s hurtful belief).

fundevogel's avatar

I’ll mock just about person or organization that makes their idiocy public. As far as I’m concerned if they make their beliefs public they are fair game for criticism and mockery. Whether or not they are worth criticizing and mocking ultimately comes down to the the level of merit and absurdity of their actions or views.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think mocking is acceptable when you’re making light of a situation or parodying a particularly ridiculous aspect of a belief. For example, Schroedinger’s Cat is a thought experiment designed to mock the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. I think it is perfectly acceptable, since Schroedinger thought the Copenhagen interpretation was particularly ridiculous.

Mocking is not acceptable when it is designed to hurt, disparage or otherwise negatively impact people. People should be allowed to use whatever linguistic tools they like to attack a belief or belief system, but as soon as it is directed at people or formed in a way designed to antagonise people, it becomes unacceptable.

Seek's avatar

When a “belief” system demands one set aside rational thought and blindly accept something that every shred of evidence denies, that system becomes deserving of mockery.

For example, it is abundantly apparent that the earth is far older than the 6,000 years the Judeo-Christian texts claim it is. Bats are not birds, whales are not fish, the sky is not a solid dome holding up an ocean, and rain does not fall from the “windows of heaven”. Man cannot live for three days in the belly of a fish, nor can he fly to heaven in a flaming chariot. The sun does not revolve around the earth, and all of the faith in the world is not going to make a mountain “get thee hence”.

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart
—H.L. Mencken

Society bends over backward to be accommodating to religious sensibilities but not to other kinds of sensibilities. If I say something offensive to religious people, I’ll be universally censured, including by many atheists. But if I say something insulting about Democrats or Republicans or the Green Party, one is allowed to get away with that. Hiding behind the smoke screen of untouchability is something religions have been allowed to get away with for too long.
—Richard Dawkins

My last vestige of “hands off religion” respect disappeared in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th 2001, followed by the “National Day of Prayer,” when prelates and pastors did their tremulous Martin Luther King impersonations and urged people of mutually incompatible faiths to hold hands, united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place.
—Richard Dawkins

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

I’ll mock just about person or organization that makes their idiocy public

I don’t disagree with you there…I wonder if you could clarify what beliefs you would mock in these situations – because the person or organization could share some beliefs with a wide group of people, and be expressing or acting on them in an idiotic way. So what would you really be mocking here?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Before one jumps to mock, one should consider there may be more than meets the mocking eye.

”...it is abundantly apparent that the earth is far older than the 6,000 years the Judeo-Christian texts claim it is”

An apologetic from Hugh Ross…
Q: But the Genesis 1 story says the earth is 6000 years old and everyone knows it doesn’t agree with anything in physics, astronomy or geology.

A: The word “day” in Genesis is the Hebrew word “Yom” which means “period of time” and has multiple meanings in the Genesis text. 24 hour days are not defined as such until “day” four (when the sun and moon become visible through the cloud cover of the earth), and there is no specified period of time between Genesis 1:1 (the big bang) and 1:2 (the formation of the earth).

If we read Genesis 1 with two assumptions: (1) “Day” is a period of time and (2) the story is told from an earthly point of view (i.e. not from outer space) then the Genesis account matches modern cosmology and the fossil record tit for tat

Q: But the Genesis story doesn’t sound like any science book I’ve ever read.

A: Let’s take the sequence of events in Genesis step by step:

Genesis 1:1 Creation of the universe
1:2 Earth is covered with water; story is told from the earth
1:3–5 Light becomes visible; day and night
1:6–8 Clouds and water cycle
1:9–10 Ocean and dry land
1:11–13 Plants
1:14–19 Sun and moon become visible in the sky
1:20–23 Fish and Birds
1:24–25 Animals
1:26 Man

Dr. Ross, my question is about the order of creation described in Genesis, which seems to teach a geocentric view of the universe in that the Earth is created and then the lights are created, the lesser lights, and the greater light, the Sun. Could you talk about that?

Hugh: Genesis One follows the scientific method, in that it doesn’t begin to describe the sequence of creation events until it first identifies the point of view in the initial conditions. That’s not strange because that’s where the scientific method came from, so of course the Bible follows the scientific method.

We see in the second verse of Genesis, chapter one, that the spirit of God was brooding on the surface of the waters. We’re told the account of creation from the point of view of the observer at the surface of the waters, below the clouds, not above the clouds. That’s makes all the difference in how you interpret the text.

If you put the point of view up in the heavens, almost everything you get in Genesis One is wrong, compared to the record of nature. If you place it on the surface of the ocean, below the cloud layer, then everything is a perfect fit.

What happens on the first day of creation is not the creation of light, but the appearance of light. It says, “Let there be light”, and uses the Hebrew verb meaning “to be”. It doesn’t say God created the light. The light was created in the beginning. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.

The Hebrew word for heavens & Earth refers to the entire physical cosmos, the stars, galaxies, matter, energy, space and time. Light was created in the beginning. It was dark on the surface of the waters because Earth had an atmosphere that was opaque to the passage of light at that time.

There was an intense interplanetary debris cloud and the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere itself combined with that debris cloud to prevent the passage of sunlight to the surface of the Earth.

On the fourth day of creation, we again see the Hebrew verb meaning, “let there be”, the sun, moon and stars. The observer on the surface of the waters, for the first time, sees the objects that are responsible for the light that came through in the first stage of the fourth day.

It was not until the fourth day of creation that the Earth’s atmosphere became transparent. Before the first day, it was opaque. From the first day to the fourth day, it was translucent, permanently overcast, and on the fourth day the clouds broke and the observer could now see the objects responsible for the light.

The problem is the 16th verse, which says, “So God made the sun, moon and stars.” The Hebrew verb for “made” means to manufacture or fabricate. What the English reader often doesn’t pick up on is that the Hebrew language does not have verb tenses. They have strange forms which mean the action is either complete or has not yet been completed.

The 16th verse has the verb in its “completed” form, meaning the action was completed at some time in the past. It could have been completed on the fourth day, the third day, the second day, the first day, or in the beginning.

That sentence itself doesn’t tell us which of those five options we should choose. We think, wouldn’t it be nice if Moses told us? Well, he did. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth,” and that [Hebrew word for heavens and Earth] would include the sun, moon and stars. They were made in the beginning, but the observer doesn’t see them until the fourth day.

What’s fascinating is that the fifth and sixth days of creation, for the first time, mention species of life that require the visibility of the sun, moon and stars to regulate their biological clocks.

http://www.reasons.org/

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – How do you determine when a belief system demands you set aside rational thought? And is there a benefit to mocking the system thereafter?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think the references above are to the overly literal beliefs of young earth creationists, not to the Bible itself. (Correct me if I am wrong in this assumption).
I will address the flaws in Hugh Ross’ arguments on another thread when I get the time.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr made no reference to young earth creationists. She referenced the Bible itself:
“the earth is far older than the 6,000 years the Judeo-Christian texts claim it is”

Ross provides an adequate apologetic for that statement.

MissA's avatar

As I began to type a comment, I noticed a bird outside my window. Wouldn’t you know it…beautiful songs.

It would never be acceptable to kill a mockingbird.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob things I find uniformly deserving of mockery and criticism

1. any number of ideas based on logical fallacies, particularly the argument from nature or ignorance
2. mysticism & magical thinking religious & otherwise
3. thinly veiled or not so veiled bigotry, especially when justified with bullshit arguments
4. pseudo science & woo science
5. misappropriation of history, revisionist history or nostalgic longing for good ‘ol days that never were
6. characters in slasher films

MissA's avatar

@fundevogel

What positive things might you do with yourself if you didn’t have these things to mock or criticize?

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

1. any number of ideas based on logical fallacies, particularly the argument from nature or ignorance
2. mysticism & magical thinking religious & otherwise
4. pseudo science & woo science
5. misappropriation of history, revisionist history or nostalgic longing for good ‘ol days that never were

Criticism okay – that’s a process. But mockery?

MissA's avatar

@fundevogel

Do you believe that a bigot
considers himself to be a bigot?

weeveeship's avatar

I don’t think that we should mock anyone’s beliefs. By mock, I mean to insult the beliefs themselves. An example:

It is one thing to say “I dont believe that Santa Claus exists.” Sure, a bunch of kids would be sad (as well as some Santa fans) but you are not saying that believing in Santa Claus is necessarily bad. It is just something you do not believe in personally. You could even introduce evidence like “Santa Claus must not exist because I have never seen him.”

It is another thing entirely to say that “Santa Claus is stupid” or “Only stupid kids believe in Santa Claus.” That, to me, insults the belief and by extension the holder of that belief. Then, you would have a bunch of irate kids yelling and screaming at you. This is not conducive to dialogue and nobody really learns anything. You get perhaps some fleeting satisfaction and some people might be really ticked off at you now and want to get into an argument to “defend their cause.”

@fundevogel
1. What logic rules do you base your criticism on? There is an entire branch of philosophy called epistemology that is a study on logic. To empiricists, for example, things that cannot be sensed (via 5 senses) are false, but does that then, mean there is not intuitive or a priori knowledge. Not according to Kant. But is Kant entirely right? And are the empiricists entirely wrong? Who really knows?

2. Just because you do not belive in something does not mean others do not. There is no need to belittle or insult others for their beliefs. Of course, you can make a personal choice not to believe in something.

3. I don’t like bigotry but I find that mocking bigotry often begets more bigotry. If anything, it infuriates the bigot. You can, however, disagree with the bigot as in “I don’t think X race people are dumb.”

4. ??? I’m not sure what is considered pseudo science and woo science. There are lot of things that are unexplained though, like Ball Lightning. Also, some things that are considered to be almost pseudo science many years ago (e.g. chemistry used to be lumped with alchemy) is now widely accepted today.

5. History is written by the victors. Who knows the whole truth of what really happened? If you are talking about Nazi propaganda, then I would say that you could criticize that but to mock it would not be a very good idea. Just refer to number 3, the one on the bigots for why I think this.

6. :) Slasher films. LOL

I do think though, that criticism can be good as it often reveals the flaws of a certain belief or position and makes those who believe in that idea to reconsider the validity of their thinking. For instance, I think that the Socratic method of learning is pretty good. Person says X. Another says not X. Sometimes, the truth is really somewhere in the middle.

Oftentimes though, mocking people just makes them defensive, making dialogue that much more difficult.

@MissA See, that’s my point. Bigots might not see themselves as bigots and mocking them would only cause them to cling on to their beliefs even more. It sure creates this “us vs them” dichotomy in their minds, which could lead them to do all sorts of crazy things.

fundevogel's avatar

@MissA “What positive things might you do with yourself if you didn’t have these things to mock or criticize?”

I think criticism and mockery can be positive and frankly I think my brain might turn to sludge if I didn’t address matters deserving criticism. It exercises my critical thinking skills, my writing skills and gives contributes to the development of my political and philosophical thoughts by forcing me to draw on them in my criticism and to explain them to others.

Complacency is a terrible thing. One need to be challenged and challenge others if they want to stay sharp and improve themselves. I’m a afraid abstaining from criticism and mockery would make me a worse person, not a better one.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “Criticism okay – that’s a process. But mockery?”

I don’t do mean spirited mockery. But I do believe that mockery is a valuable tool. And if you have any appreciation for satire or the razor ship wit of thinkers like Mark Twain you do too. The fact is some ideas are ridiculous, but sometimes it takes someone else pointing it out for people to notice. No idea, belief, system or work is sacred. When we use mockery to point out absurdity we rob those who hold it sacred of the assumption that their special absurdity deserves special treatment.

fundevogel's avatar

@MissA “Do you believe that a bigot considers himself to be a bigot?”

Of course not. But that’s exactly the reason he shouldn’t go unchallenged or even mocked. I can’t very well give up on people as hopeless bigots when for all I know no one has ever confronted them with why their ideas are BS. He may reassess his position and change when presented with the problems in his worldview. And even if it is only a slight change it’s still a good thing.

MissA's avatar

@fundevogel

I wouldn’t mock or criticize anything of what you’ve explained. I understand completely.

Not long ago, my character was somewhat congruent with yours. Things have happened in recent months to shift my priorities fiercely.

However, an exception could arise at any moment!

Mark Twain would certainly have a lot of fodder.

Note: Thanks for clarifying the “non mean spirited mockery.”

ratboy's avatar

I believe that any time is the right time for mocking beliefs. As a method for changing other people’s beliefs, mockery and derision are at least as effective as rational discourse, but much more fun. It endows the mocker with a sense of superiority while relieving him of the need to understand the the views he attacks. Additionally, it’s almost always appropriate as people’s ideas and opinions are seldom worth the hot air it takes to waft them from their empty heads.

Jeez! Do I believe this absurd shit? What a moronic dunce I must be—even my dog isn’t nearly that fuckin’ credulous!

fundevogel's avatar

@weeveeship

1. What logic rules do you base your criticism on? There is an entire branch of philosophy called epistemology that is a study on logic. To empiricists, for example, things that cannot be sensed (via 5 senses) are false, but does that then, mean there is not intuitive or a priori knowledge. Not according to Kant. But is Kant entirely right? And are the empiricists entirely wrong? Who really knows?

I’m in the Bertrand Russell school of reason. I expect claims to be supported by evidence and free of logical fallacy. If a claim is not supported by corroborating evidence or if it employs faulty arguments then I have run into a position that deserves criticism, and possibly mockery.

2. Just because you do not belive in something does not mean others do not. There is no need to belittle or insult others for their beliefs. Of course, you can make a personal choice not to believe in something.

First off I don’t insult people, I criticize positions. Ok I might insult someone if they were a real jackwagon, but I prefer to let them make themselves took like tossers. It’s more satisfying.

Secondly it just isn’t true that you can choose what you believe and don’t believe. I can’t make myself believe in the easter bunny. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, it’s never going to happen. I can’t just make myself stop believing in things either. There’s a reason I believe that when I jump up in the air I’m going to come back down. Beliefs are the net product of the information we have and they are only as good as that information. When I criticize a belief it’s because it appears to me to be based on faulty, incomplete or misinterpreted data. My intent is not to make them feel bad, but to alert them that their beliefs appeared flawed and that they should reassess them. Assuming that people prefer accurate beliefs to fallacious ones everyone should embrace sincere criticism as a means for checking verifying and improving their understanding of the world.

3. I don’t like bigotry but I find that mocking bigotry often begets more bigotry. If anything, it infuriates the bigot. You can, however, disagree with the bigot as in “I don’t think X race people are dumb.”

It think that depends on the bigot. Some people have little black bigoted hearts and you can’t do anything about them. However mocking them (from a safe distance) can demonstrate to others just why they’re wrong and a lot of bigotry isn’t actually mean spirited, just ignorant. If you can eliminate ignorance with or without mocking you will have diffused bigotry and made the world a happier place. I rotated my roommate’s opinion on Park 51 180 degrees in less than 5 minutes by explaining why insisting a mosque be moved was stupid because it was based on a non existent “right to never be offended” but undermined the vital right to the free practice of religion. She had just never thought about it that way.

4. ??? I’m not sure what is considered pseudo science and woo science. There are lot of things that are unexplained though, like Ball Lightning. Also, some things that are considered to be almost pseudo science many years ago (e.g. chemistry used to be lumped with alchemy) is now widely accepted today.

I’m not concerned with which is which either. The main point is that they use fallacious arguments and sciency sounding words to give otherwise non credible conjecture the air of legitimacy. They suffer from serious confirmation bias, meaning, the evidence is invariably scrutinized in such a way that things which seem to support the conjecture are highlighted while contradictory evidence is ignored.

5. History is written by the victors. Who knows the whole truth of what really happened? If you are talking about Nazi propaganda, then I would say that you could criticize that but to mock it would not be a very good idea. Just refer to number 3, the one on the bigots for why I think this.

The fact that we can’t know everything is no reason to throw out what we do know. I suspect you find holocaust deniers as repugnant and wrong as I. But the thing is, you have to think history we do have is credible to do so. If history is so vulnerable to rewrites than you really have no basis to think that belief that the holocaust never happen is any less plausible than the possibility that it did. Yes there is wiggle room in history, more the further you go back. But historians do a very good job of sorting things out, at least for the few thousands years men have been self absorbed enough to leave records of their goings on.

6. :) Slasher films. LOL

We agree!

I do think though, that criticism can be good as it often reveals the flaws of a certain belief or position and makes those who believe in that idea to reconsider the validity of their thinking. For instance, I think that the Socratic method of learning is pretty good. Person says X. Another says not X. Sometimes, the truth is really somewhere in the middle.

I don’t think we’re really on different sides of the issue here. Perhaps the only real difference is that I flat out reject the the idea that any idea is sacred and deserving of special handling.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

When we use mockery to point out absurdity we rob those who hold it sacred of the assumption that their special absurdity deserves special treatment.

I’m a big believer in humor as a basis to start talking about some important concepts…as long as it comes from a place of honesty and not one of defense. But I fear people resort to it too quickly, and with a self-righteousness that ends up closing off the conversation when, potentially, it can be opened up. When beliefs are held as sacred, and deeply so, what good is mockery in the end? It gives the person holding the belief the sense that you think they’re ignorant – which will lead them to lock down much more than open up.

They suffer from serious confirmation bias, meaning, the evidence is invariably scrutinized in such a way that things which seem to support the conjecture are highlighted while contradictory evidence is ignored.

My concern is that this goes both ways. I always wonder, when it comes to the point of mockery, whether people (I have mocked myself more than once) recognize their own confirmation biases – but more along the lines of stating that certain facts are evidence leading to a certain conclusion, when the facts can be ambiguous in their interpretation. Further, a lot of times, it is at that point where people start saying “Prove this” in response to the other saying “I’m attempting to show the possible, not the proven.”

But I agree with @MissA when she said Note: Thanks for clarifying the “non mean spirited mockery.”

Thank you so much…that was a series of very thoughtful responses.

Seek's avatar

For one – I find apologetics to be a study in bullshit. Anyone can twist words around to mean whatever they like. They are still beginning with a conclusion (The Bible is the word of god and infallible) and working back to defend the data that doesn’t support their claim. An apologetic’s job is easy – They say something, someone refutes it, and they simply have to say “Oh, no, what I really meant was…” and then say the opposite. And we, the logical, rational humans, are supposed to accept that.

Even if they were right about the “day” means “era”, it doesn’t matter; there will still be people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old because “the bible says so”. There are people who actually believe Adam walked with dinosaurs and the Devil placed layers of sediment over them during the Flood to confuse scientists.

All of the apologetics arguments in the world will still not provide a single shred of evidence that a god exists, and that that god is Biblegod. In fact, Biblegod is the easiest to disprove, if one uses the assumption that the Bible is the word of god and infallible. All we have to do is pray for something and really, really want it. And then when we don’t get it (whatever “it” is), Biblegod is disproven.

12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John chapter 14

24Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark chapter 11

You’ll notice there are no “will of God” clauses on either of those. Which could easily bring up another topic – the fact that “omniscient” and “omnipotent” are mutually exclusive.

Seek's avatar

Was my post somehow unclear?

iamthemob's avatar

Yes. This is the “they” I’m wondering about: They are still beginning with a conclusion (The Bible is the word of god and infallible) and working back to defend the data that doesn’t support their claim.

Seek's avatar

Try the sentences before and after that one, in which I mention the apologists.

Reading comprehension FTW.

Blackberry's avatar

When it impedes on other’s rights and causes death.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Technically, you mentioned “apologetics,” which is not of course a group of people but rather a technique defending a position using reason.

It seems, indeed, that you don’t like apologetics at all. FTW

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr “I find apologetics to be a study in bullshit. Anyone can twist words around to mean whatever they like.”

Are you denying Ross’ apologetic? Is he lying? Does the word “Yom” not have the meaning he claims it does?

“An apologetic’s job is easy – They say something, someone refutes it, and they simply have to say “Oh, no, what I really meant was…” and then say the opposite.”

That is not apologetics. Ross didn’t make a claim to cover his tracks. Ross apologetic addresses your claim. To refute Ross, you must have a different definition of “Yom”, or insist upon Genesis account being told from celestial position rather than an earthbound position. Choose your position, and debate him in reason. Tossing about global assertions doesn’t address the meaning of his apologetic. It only seeks to label him as foolish. I assure you, Ross is no fool. You may disagree with him. But your attitude seems more bent on killing the messenger before considering the message.

It’s difficult to have any intelligent discussion when one party automatically considers the other as just plain stupid.

Does Theist = Stupidity @Seek_Kolinahr?

Seek's avatar

The point I’m making is that it doesn’t matter what the text means. What matters is how people use it. Currently, there is a group of people who do believe that the earth is 6000 years old that want to remove textbooks that state otherwise from the public schools my son will be attending in a few years.

And for what? To make some god happy? Where is that god?

If you want me to come right out and say it, yes theism is stupid.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Have you considered then that your personal stake here has prevented you from divorcing the arguments from the group you (rightfully, as far as I’m concerned) disagree with?

Because…after the above, this seems more like stupid people than stupid ideas.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

”..there is a group of people who do believe that the earth is 6000 years old…”

“yes theism is stupid.”

Is it any smarter to believe that all Theists believe the earth is 6000 years old?

I certainly don’t, and I’m a Theist… of which I’m sure you are aware

Am I stupid @Seek_Kolinahr?

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

The purpose of the arguments is to make the religion seem less absurd, and more accurate with what we know in modern times to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. Can we agree on that?

Again I state, if the ultimate answer is “Goddidit”, we’re never going to agree, unless there is some verifiable evidence to support that notion.

Theism is stupid. There are a great many otherwise intelligent people who happen to be deluded by theism. That makes me sad.

and if you could just lay aside the straw men for a while, @realeyes, I’d appreciate it. I never said all theists are YECs

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

”...more accurate with what we know in modern times to be true…”

But that’s exactly what Ross gave you. Is it invalid because it came from Ross?

@Seek_Kolinahr I understand your frustration with Fundamentalists, Extremists, and Zealots. We share those frustrations. But your insistence that Theism is in and of itself stupid is a bit unwarranted. I find you to be intelligent and reasonable. That’s why I hopefully understand that your comments are mired in personal experience and frustration with ignorance.

I have many of the same feelings about my son’s school district. In frustration, I may claim that the school board is stupid. I soon realize that my statement is invalid, for those people have very high educations and I must believe they have the best interest for every child at hand, even if I differ with their methodologies.

Seek's avatar

Here’s the difference: Like theists, your son’s school board has a governing party they answer to. Unlike theists, their governing party exists in reality.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You can make that statement, and I fully appreciate how one could. I also appreciate that such absolute claims often cause the one making them to become a parody of that which they would otherwise mock.

I have sufficient scientific evidence to disagree with your statement. It satisfies the scientific method, and so I shall accept the evidence for what it actually demonstrates. Such stupidity should be encouraged.

weeveeship's avatar

@fundevogel I think we essentially agree. The only issue is a definitional one.

Your definition of mock is simply “to criticize.” I agree that it is ok to criticize a position, because it leads to dialogue, which would hopefully lead to better understanding.

My definition of mock though would be to insult an idea or a person holding that idea. I don’t think you are advocating this though.

So, for you to say that you agree or disagree with Park 51 is ok. However, to say that someone who strongly believes or disbelieves in Park 51 is stupid is not.

iamthemob's avatar

@weeveeship I would go a step further and say that to say it’s stupid to strongly believe or disbelieve in Park51 is also not ok.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “When beliefs are held as sacred, and deeply so, what good is mockery in the end? It gives the person holding the belief the sense that you think they’re ignorant – which will lead them to lock down much more than open up.”

I never said mockery is always the right course of action, merely that there no idea may be excused from it. Not all mockery is well employed, sometimes because the basis of it is flawed and sometimes because it’s the wrong tool for the job. The fact that one sometimes needs to use a chisel doesn’t mean sledgehammers are worthless.

What I take exception to is the idea that I can’t mock certain ideologies, not because of their merit, but because they have been granted what amounts to diplomatic immunity. It pisses me off when politicians get away with shit because they’re politicians and pisses me off when ideologies like religions aren’t challenged because somehow, unlike any other position a person can hold, this one you aren’t suppose to scrutinize and criticize. That’s special treatment. You don’t always need to use mockery to deny an ideology this special treatment, but if you categorically withhold mockery when addressing people’s sacred cows you are giving them special treatment.

They suffer from serious confirmation bias, meaning, the evidence is invariably scrutinized in such a way that things which seem to support the conjecture are highlighted while contradictory evidence is ignored.

My concern is that this goes both ways. I always wonder, when it comes to the point of mockery, whether people (I have mocked myself more than once) recognize their own confirmation biases – but more along the lines of stating that certain facts are evidence leading to a certain conclusion, when the facts can be ambiguous in their interpretation. Further, a lot of times, it is at that point where people start saying “Prove this” in response to the other saying “I’m attempting to show the possible, not the proven.”

I was specifically referring to pseudo science and woo science and explaining why, though it assumes the mantle of science it lacks the rigorous self reflexive scrutiny of the scientific community that gives science its credibility. Does confirmation bias occur in legitimate scientists? Yes of course, but it is less common because in order to maintain their credibility their findings have to be repeatable or they will be shredded by their peers. That’s the key, when a scientist is found to be wrong, it’s always by his peers. And the scientific community will discard the flawed findings. When a practitioner of pseudoscience is found to be wrong he will cry about the unfairness of the scientific community and hem and haw and cling to his flawed findings despite the evidence that his findings or entire premise is invalid.

As far as confirmation bias goes in the general population – Yes, anyone may be guilty of confirmation bias. That’s why I use a rubric to evaluate the validity of claims I run across. Does that mean I catch everything? No, but it does mean that I am far more likely to catch a bad idea than someone that doesn’t use a good rubric. As I said to @weeveeship, the fact that we can’t know everything is no reason to throw out what we do know. Facts are not subject to democracy or wishes, we can establish that some are consistent with the reality we live in, while others are demostrabily at odds with reality.

We don’t do anyone any favors by assuming that all ideas are equally valid. We send our kids to school because we believe that it is better for them to learn and accept ideas that are consistent with history, logic and mathematics rather than accept whatever an unschooled mind might think about the world. Ideas don’t suddenly become equally valid just because you graduate and no one is around to pre-sift the good ideas from the bad for you. If I counter an idea that is based on poor reasoning and is inconsistent with the world you can’t very well tell me my position is no more valid than his when my views are self policed and open to criticism and his is a sacred cow.

Honestly. My fear is that despite my conviction that accurate ideas are preferable to fallacious ones, a lot of people are less concerned with accuracy and tend to protect ideas not because they are good, but because they like the sort of world they imply. It’s like they would rather create an imaginary would where everything can be magically cured by plants or an invisble guy is watching out for them rather than truly embrace the world as it is. Call me a bitch if you want but I think that people cripple themselves when their affection for an idea what the world is gets in the way of them embracing the world as it is.

fundevogel's avatar

@weeveeship “Your definition of mock is simply “to criticize.” I agree that it is ok to criticize a position, because it leads to dialogue, which would hopefully lead to better understanding.”

No it isn’t. Though, I suppose I am hedging myself. People with sacred cows have a tendency to see any criticism as an insult to their convictions. Just because I’m making logical arguments now rather than mocking you doesn’t mean that’s all I do or that it the only way I address ideas I disagree with. Frankly mocking something as abstract as discourse would be difficult and probably not very funny to anyone.

“My definition of mock though would be to insult an idea or a person holding that idea. I don’t think you are advocating this though.”

That is my definition. I don’t advocate its use universally, but I don’t think any idea should be immune to it either. I think situtations where people should be mocked are fewer, but they exist. Don’t you think men like Sun Myung Moon, Aleister Crowley and Joseph Smith are possitively ripe for ridicule? I mean, magic golden tablets. Come on. You know you want to make fun of that.

“So, for you to say that you agree or disagree with Park 51 is ok. However, to say that someone who strongly believes or disbelieves in Park 51 is stupid is not.”

Well that I probably wouldn’t do that, unless I presented them with the reasons that they were wrong and they ignored me and clung to their beliefs without being able to counter my criticism of them. At that point you can’t do anything anyway. However, your earlier statement seems to imply that you don’t think ideas should be called stupid either and that I don’t agree with. See below.

@iamthemob “I would go a step further and say that to say it’s stupid to strongly believe or disbelieve in Park51 is also not ok.”

Stupid is a demonstrable quality and I don’t think there is any merit in universally forbidding acknowledgment of any demonstrable quality. That’s just setting up a taboo and taboos have a way of making things worse, not better.

If an idea is stupid it should be called out for it. That doesn’t mean that holding a stupid idea makes you stupid, but lets not pussyfoot around. The idea that people should give up their right to practice their religion on their own property because it makes other people uncomfortable is an example of either stupidity or hate or both. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re just ignorant, not hateful. Because the idea that they do think that a human being’s rights can and should be surrendered according to public opinion isn’t just stupid, it’s revolting.

There’s a simple cure for ignorance and stupidity but pretending that a stupid idea merits respect or is somehow valid isn’t it. Love him or hate him Olberman knows this.

fundevogel's avatar

It should be obvious, but I don’t think we do anyone any favors by pretending that just because everyone is entitled to their opinion that their opinions are all equally valid.

Neither does Tim Minchkin. Warning, that’s a nine minute beat poem about critical thinking and the lack there of. There is mockery.

eden2eve's avatar

Mockery is employed when the mocker has nothing intelligent to say in discussing that which they perceive to be inferior to their point of view. It’s never necessary, and does nothing to persuade he/she who was mocked to re-assess his/her opinion. The only benefits I perceive to the mocker, are that some, of equally unimaginative mind, may be impressed, or that the mocker is able to cause distress or some other negative reaction from the mockee, thus perhaps feeling more powerful. It’s immature, lazy and, IMHO, not at all to be admired.

fundevogel's avatar

@eden2eve You have just, knowingly or not, decreed satire unnecessary and incapable of persuasion and edification. I will be by tomorrow between 9 and 5 to confiscate your copies of Catch-22, Candide and Animal Farm. The Department for the Prevention of Hypocrisy is still working on a way to block the Colbert Report and Family Guy on your TV and internet so I’m afraid at this time we have to use the honor system. But, God help you, if we catch so much as an Onion article in your browser history there will be consequences.

eden2eve's avatar

No problem, @fundevogel . None of those will be found here. That said, I perceive satire to be different from mockery. But I do not consider either to be edifying, nor do I expect that either is persuasive to that which is being mocked/satirized. I choose a more gentle, intelligent and refined manner of persuasion. So police away, you will be sorely disappointed.

fundevogel's avatar

@eden2eve I’m sorry to hear you’re not a fan of satire. You’re missing out. The Passion! The Humor! The Scathing Political Criticism!

I suppose you think no better of political cartoons either? Because they actually played a pivotal role in exposing the political corruption of Boss Tweed. It may be mudslinging, but it can be pretty effective.

I do love Thomas Nast. Almost as much as Mark Twain.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“The Passion! The Humor! The Scathing Political Criticism!”

Where in this shall we find Answers?

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel – unfortunately, after your done (de)satirizing @eden2eve‘s place, I’m going to have to confiscate your copy of “9 to 5”.

fundevogel's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “Where in this shall we find Answers?”

Ah, Anwsers, with a capital “A”. I don’t believe in those. There are only answers and to find those you have to think for yourself and be willing to evaluate all things with equal rigor. You can’t very well expect it to be spelled out for you. Satire isn’t The Truth (which I also don’t believe in), it’s a communication strategy. You wouldn’t write off, well writing just because it doesn’t always have a point. Writing is still an indispensable means of making a point, as is satire.

@iamthemob “unfortunately, after your done (de)satirizing @eden2eve‘s place, I’m going to have to confiscate your copy of “9 to 5”.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

weeveeship's avatar

@iamthemob I think we are saying the same thing with different syntax.

@fundevogel See, there is indeed a fine line between mockery and criticism. To one person, criticism could be mockery and vice versa.

Bottom line though is that hate often begets more hate. So, if X hates Y and Y hates X and mocks X, this will usually lead to X hating Y even more.

fundevogel's avatar

@weeveeship When did I endorse hate? I was talking about mockery.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Y perceives X as hate when X mocks Y as stupid.

fundevogel's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Hate is not a prerequisite for mockery. I mock a lot more than I hate. I actually have a hard time coming up with things a hate aside from injustice. Maybe curdled milk and Rush Limbaugh. I hate him in the face. Oddly enough though I’m not sure if I’ve ever spent time mocking either of those.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“Hate is not a prerequisite for mockery.”

Agreed. But can you deny that Y perceives X as hateful when X mocks Y as stupid?

fundevogel's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Some times yes, people are very capable of taking things the wrong way. But if you’re going to hold someone accountable for being misunderstood you make us accountable not just for our own acts and speech but for any thought we may elicit in anyone which is ridiculous. Every person is responsible for their own actions, no more, no less.

It simply isn’t possible possible to talk about opposing views without someone at some point taking something the wrong way and getting offended. I understand that. That doesn’t mean we should avoid discussion or even mockery.

On the whole though I think it’s wrong to assume that interpreting mockery as hatred is widespread, let alone the rule. To assume that mockery means “Johnny hates me” is pretty immature and probably doesn’t happen with most adults.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You’re missing the qualifier… that being, “stupid”.

Family Guy mocks James Woods as ultra serious and evil… no one gets offended.

They mock Jesus as apathetic and annoyed… nobody gets offended.

Mock old ladies with blue hair, mock old men who pee in their pants, mock stereotypical angry drill seargents, dancing Gene Kelly’s and lying politicians all you want and nobody gets offended… But mock a Christian or a Homosexual as being stupid for their beliefs or orientation, and it is perceived as hateful, shortsighted, narrow minded, insulting and intolerant.

Y perceives X as hateful when X mocks Y as stupid.

There in lies the answer to the OP.

fundevogel's avatar

Well I almost never call call people stupid so I guess I didn’t see how your protest applied to me.

Calling someone stupid is a a pretty pisspoor example of mockery if you ask me. I guess this is where we draw the line of when mockery is and isn’t valid? Once it is reduced to ad hominem attacks? Makes sense to me.

Trillian's avatar

Well, I guess I’m not so high and mighty after all. I just mocked this guy and I have to say that I snickered and giggled the whole time.
I’m going to go give myself a time out.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Trillian I was just about to link to that. I tried reason first, then careful consideration of his reason, then I decided it was pointless. When it appears there is no hope, I don’t think mockery is necessarily out of place.

fundevogel's avatar

Fluther has spoken.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Probably never, unless it’s harming people, animals, or unless it’s believers don’t know what NO means when you don’t want to hear about why you should believe what they’re believing.
People can believe what they want, subject to the above conditions, and making hurtful statements, or mocking them with the aim of being hurtful, is not warranted.

iamthemob's avatar

@Trillian, @FireMadeFlesh – Ha! I just tried to check it out…and it’s being edited!

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob The asker thought he was god’s prophet sent to judge mankind. The consensus of the jellies that responded was that he was actually higher than a kite. Hilarity ensued. I’m kinda sad it got moderated.

Seek's avatar

@fundevogel Aw, man. I never get to see the good ones.

eden2eve's avatar

So let me get this right… mockery is a good thing if it entertains people, or if the mocker is just too frustrated to continue to treat the mockee respectfully, or if the mockee appears to be high or crazy… do I understand this correctly?

fundevogel's avatar

@eden2eve Don’t forget when the mockee tells me the prerequisite for attaining equality is having a penis.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@eden2eve Mocking is acceptable, and possibly good, when it is directed at a belief or opinion in a way that will not offend the person.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Sorry @eden2eve, but I found your quote on another thread and thought it appropriate for here.

“Mockery is often the result of a poverty of wit.” ~ Jean de la Bruyere

I couldn’t agree more.

Seek's avatar

Funny, I’d think that wit is the soul of successful mockery.

iamthemob's avatar

mock·ery noun \ˈmä-k(ə-)rē, ˈmȯ-\

plural mock·er·ies

Definition of MOCKERY

1: insulting or contemptuous action or speech : derision
2: a subject of laughter, derision, or sport
3 a : a counterfeit appearance : imitation
b : an insincere, contemptible, or impertinent imitation <makes a mockery of justice>
4: something ridiculously or impudently unsuitable

It generally seems that, unfortunately, the soul of successful mockery is the lack of a mature response.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Mockery is one rung up the comic evolutionary ladder from a thoughtless fart joke.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Mockery… rhymes with Gossip.

Seek's avatar

So, could we say that it is acceptable to mock(1) that which is a mockery(2, 4) of logic? Would the “mockery” cancel itself out?

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – if it cancels itself out, then you’re not really saying anything at all.

Why not just be quiet? ;-)

Seek's avatar

And allow the mockery to exist? no, it is my mathematical duty to nullify it.

There.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The more I think about it, I’m convinced that Mockery is actually a form of Gossip. I said it as a half cocked joke last night, but over a few vodka tonics and the wisdom of a pool stick in my hand, it became clear to me that Mockery and Gossip are very close kissing cousins.

The only difference is that Mockery does/or doesn’t do it in the persons face. Gossip is always behind the back. But they are both intended to elevate the Mocker/Gossiper ego at the expense of the one being Mocked or Gossiped about.

flutherother's avatar

An example that comes to mind is a child who believes in Santa Clause. No one is going to mock that child for what he believes though we know it to be false. Other beliefs are potentially dangerous and should be mocked but of course people disagree on what these beliefs are.

Seek's avatar

^ Of course we wouldn’t mock the child. That child is being deceived by his parents.

There are plenty of us that will mock the hell out of the parents, though.

flutherother's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr What! for telling their children about Santa?

Seek's avatar

Absolutely.

It is a lie that begins small and must grow exponentially to keep the child deceived. I do not advocate lying to one’s children – especially when the lie is effectively a thinly veiled threat to get the kid to behave for a month out of the year. It discourages healthy skepticism, promotes materialism, and allows the child to believe it is acceptable to do good for material reward, as opposed to doing what is right because it is the right thing.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I totally agree. Teaching children about Santa just makes them doubt their parents’ word. I’m not sure why the parents can’t be the ones giving the presents – Santa doesn’t love children in the same way a parent does, so why does he get to give the presents?

flutherother's avatar

I totally disagree. I think children (and adults too) need some magic in their lives and I really don’t see how telling children about Santa Claus does any harm whatsoever. Quite the reverse it is a lovely myth to share at Christmas time.

Seek's avatar

If you want magic in their lives, take them to a David Copperfield show, or the circus.

Don’t indoctrinate them with Victorian-era myths that come from the age of “children should be seen and not heard”.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

I’m not against you on the point of active indoctrination…I am not sure that I support the idea of refusing to tell them about Santa altogether. At least for now, it looks like they will inevitable be “exposed” to the Christmas mythology associated with him. I am not certain what I will end up doing, but I feel like if I don’t actively participate in the Santa thing, when my kid almost certainly comes to me to ask about Santa, I don’t see myself taking a negative position…something more along the lines of “If you want to believe that he’s real, he is.”

I understand not giving them “magic,” but I wouldn’t want to take it away from them.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob I am not against storytelling at all. I intend to tell my son all sorts of myths in the years I hope we share telling bed-time stories—everything from Zeus and Odin to Viracocha and Jesus. Santa and leprechauns and the like will probably come up as well, right alongside the Ghost of Christmas Past and Merlin.

Telling a story as a story, and leading them to believe its true are two very different things.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Makes more sense. Then I’m with you there – I thought otherwise as both you and @FireMadeFlesh advocated against the teaching and telling in an absolute fashion, instead of in a factual “Santa is real” sense only.

flutherother's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The stories we tell our children contain truths about life and that is why children find stories so fascinating. When we read a story we ‘willingly suspend our disbelief’ even as adults. I don’t like stories that are told with too obvious a moral purpose and I wouldn’t like Santa if he existed only as a means of getting children to obey their parents.

Seek's avatar

^ The key there is “willingly”. If a child doesn’t know the truth, they have no choice and are not willingly suspending their disbelief.

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