Open thread on AETV 837: Russell and Tracie

Today we discussed “spirituality” in healthcare. Issues like hospitals becoming more religiously affiliated, Nursing standards including praying with patients, and Religious Trauma Syndrome’s development toward becoming a recognized issue.

One surprise I had was a blindside where a Deist, Dale, called in to quote-mine something I’d posted as a comment on an unofficial fan page, causally, several months ago, while I was at home watching Russell and Don host TAE. For the record, the OP of the original thread back in April (posted by the page’s creator and main admin, who is not affiliated with TAE) was this:

Caller Dale in Knoxville, TN. Is looking forward to talking to someone about Deism. Wants to talk to Matt, but Matt’s not on. The caller thinks he’s aligned with atheism, but doesn’t realize that it’s still irrational belief.

And here is my full comment, in that same thread, where I was posting as any other viewer, not as a TAE personality in any official TAE capacity. Dale was clearly trying to say, on the air today, that I was equating Deism with Westboro Baptist Church with respect to harm caused to society, and quoted only the final line of this full comment:

Just to note the phones at TAE call into the studio–not out. So, anyone who calls in, has contacted the show to present/defend their position. If he puts forward Deism, it should be shredded for the woo it is. It wouldn’t matter to me if it were 100% harmless, I’d still shred it based on it being unreasonable. It’s indefensible and illustrates an irrational position. And the person should be laid bare for that unreasonable position if they publicly espouse it. It might not be the thing someone sees as the number 1 enemy of society (short of promoting that believing irrational things is fine–which makes the position no more tenable than the theist position in terms of “is it reasonable?”), but it promotes bad reasoning, is irrational, and should not be protected from being called out as such. Luckily there is no economic pie that stops people from lambasting irrational beliefs that are both more harmful and less harmful, at the same time. I can say that everyone who supports their irrational views as “OK” is promoting shite and doing a disservice to society–and blast the Deist and Westboro Baptist together in one fell swoop.

Again, Dale quoted only the last line, totally ignoring everything above it. He badly wished to portray me as promoting that Deism and WBC are equal in all ways. As I got him to give up more info during the call, trying to jar my memory (I post a lot online and didn’t recall this line specifically), it became clear to me that a context was sorely missing. I then began to see how the line fit into my overall philosophy of “anti-woo.”

So, I tried, painfully, to explain to Dale that one might say “Examples of physical violation to another person might include slapping someone, or even raping them,” without attempting to assert that a rape is the equivalent of a slap. I explained I was saying “woo/unreasonable beliefs run a range of social harm, from things like Deism to things like WBC, but they are all examples of irrational thinking.” And if I were hosting on his original call, I would have approached arguments toward theistic groups and Deists from the same “it’s not reasonable” position, not by assessing whether they harm society (which has zero relevance to assessing their truth values). I believe the quote above cements my assumption during the show about my context, repeatedly, and shows Dale was absolutely not acting in good faith with regard to his presentation of my statement.

In the end, what I observe here is this: Dale called TAE back in April to defend Deism. He then found the fan page and the response to his call, all of which was negative (not just my comment). He was able to recognize my name as someone shredding his call, as well, and knew he could use my identity to confront me on TAE, and try and make me look bad by calling and hitting me with a quote from several months back, out of context, that there would be almost no way I could defend on the fly. In essence, he got butt hurt that he was called “unreasonable,” and decided to try and malign me on the air by misrepresenting my position in a situation where I would have no way to confirm the claims against me in the moment I was accused. I only knew on the phone that I know my philosophy on woo, Deism, and WBC, and I knew I absolutely would not assert that Deism and WBC are “the same” in any regard but “both are unreasonable.” My term “shred” simply refers to “how I would dismantle this if I were sitting in the host’s chair during this call.” Remember this thread was while the call was on TAE live. We’re all commenting in terms of armchair quarterbacking “if I were host on this call.”

After seeing my original quote, in context, I do hold to the context and meaning of my original quote, that all woo falls under the same heading of “unreasonable”—and that surely WBC is a much more harmful brand of woo, something I also acknowledged without hesitation, on the air, and also clearly in the April post.

If Dale was not happy with my assessment of his views on TAE back in April, then he won’t be much happier with my assessment of his personal character today: One positive thing I can say about Deists, in general, in addition to “you do not do the social harm that WBC does,” is that Deists are not, as a rule, as dishonest and unable/unwilling to understand a simple context as Dale. The Deists I’ve encountered would not have behaved so dishonorably.