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The Futility of (Some) Arguments

I regularly take part in Google Hangouts, usually late at night, with an assortment of people from all over the world. Atheists, Christians, deists (well, one deist), you name it. But this weekend I realized after spending two days arguing with the same person that there are some people you just shouldn’t bother debating on a subject, or any subject.

We’ll just refer to this person as SS (not a Nazi reference or anything, it’s the initials of the nickname he uses). He believes in a lot of things, most of them utter nonsense. He’s a young earth creationists, but a very strange one. He thinks evolution does happen, kinda, but that our adaptations to our environment are neo-Lamarckian and that we, and everything else (including bacteria) evolve “consciously” — that we literally will ourselves to mutate and adapt, then pass those adaptations on. It’s really quite bizarre.

He’s also an advocate of alternative medicine of various types and absolutely convinced that the entire medical and scientific establishment is stupid, corrupt and engaged in a massive conspiracy to cover up “natural” cures. Instead of taking antibiotics, we should just eat garlic and honey (garlic, he claims, is “one of the most powerful antibiotics we have”). And if you get cancer, you should just eat broccoli and the tumors will magically disappear. Arguing with him is absolutely futile because he lacks all intellectual integrity and because his beliefs are utterly immune to disproof.

There was a long conversation about cancer, for example. When he declared that cancer is easily reversible if you just eat broccoli and other things, he was asked to provide studies that show this. He then did a Google search and offered a small study (24 people) that showed that those with pre-cancerous lesions are less likely to develop full-blown cancer if they eat more broccoli. From that meager bit of information (information he didn’t even have when he made the original claim) he leapt to the fantastic conclusion that eating broccoli can “reverse” cancer, destroy tumors and make them magically disappear from your body.

He was asked a simple question: If this is true, why don’t oncologists accept it and tell their patients? The answers were predictable: “Because they’re stupid.” Oh, and “the entire scientific establishment is corrupt” and it refuses to do the studies to prove his position correct (despite the fact that he just tried to cite a study, which didn’t actually say what he thought it did — one of his hallmarks is that when he gives you a link to an article, it never says what he thinks or claims it does). And they make so much money off chemotherapy, which he thinks actually causes cancer, that they are engaged in a global conspiracy to hide these real “natural” remedies that rid the body of “toxins” (always unspecified, of course).

He was asked another simple question: What about oncologists who have loved ones — wives, husbands, children, parents — with cancer? Or have it themselves? Are they so “corrupt” that they would let them die in order to continue to hide the truth of these natural remedies from the world? He had no answer, of course. To claim that they would do so is obviously absurd, but in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance he is forced to change the subject.

At one point I said to him that the difference between us is that I’m open to being wrong. Show me the double-blind studies, the clinical trials, that find that cancer is reversible by eating broccoli and I’ll not only change my mind, I’ll do so gleefully. How great would that be in a world ravaged with cancer? Show me the actual studies that show that ingesting garlic or honey is more effective at killing bacterial infections and I’ll be thrilled because I eat enough garlic that I should never get sick. But he can’t. And the reason he can’t is, of course, because it’s all a conspiracy.

Arguing with such a person is futile. Their beliefs are impervious to reason. They have constructed a perfect cocoon of impenetrability around them, a mobius strip of logic turning back on itself eternally. The same is true of any conspiracy theorist, really. As a general rule, I’m a big advocate of using debate to change people’s minds. I know it works because I’ve changed my mind many times as a result of having debated a subject with someone. But it only works on some people. On someone like this, you’re beating your head against a brick wall. And the first rule of brick walls is this: The wall doesn’t feel a thing.

Comments

  1. Dunc says

    So people who eat broccoli never get cancer? Cool! It’s one of my favourite vegetables, so I guess I can take up smoking again.

  2. Matt G says

    I was talking to a friend this weekend, and I had to bite my tongue the entire time. He’s in his 70s, takes good care of himself, is a great person, but has all kinds of New Age beliefs. He has a “detoxifying filter” which he pours liquids through before drinking (including the homebrew I shared with him). This magic device can “restructure” water, and this is so great that you only need to drink half as much water to get the same benefit. Absolute nonsense, but what can I say to him about it? The answer, sadly, is “nothing”.

  3. Larry says

    What you describe, Ed, is not what I’d call a debate, unless you call literally arguing with your brick wall a debate. Life is too short to attempt to change the minds of these kinds of people. You made an attempt to engage him, it failed, move on. Put the guy on your ignore list and resist any further communications, no matter how stupid the provocation. They’ll only serve to frustrate.

  4. Mike Morris says

    My brother has a fool he debates with on Facebook quite often with the initials SS. I’m sure that must mean something…

  5. A Masked Avenger says

    The same is true of any conspiracy theorist, really.

    Is that actually the direction of causality? Or is it the case that conspiracy theories are a go-to method of resolving cognitive dissonance caused by holding to an immovable idea? If you’re utterly convinced that your landlord is an alien, then you’re forced to account for everyone else not seeing it–and the obvious choices are that they’re stupid, or that they DO see it but are pretending not to for some unknown reason. But it doesn’t have to be aliens; it can be anything.

    I’ve seen people in the grip of an idée fixe who didn’t happen to be conspiracy theorists, and they otherwise fit your description above. A lot of them seem to resort instead to assuming anyone who questions their fixation is either stupid, or evil.

    In fact I think practically all of us are guilty of this to a greater or lesser degree. What makes some people stand out is either the oddity of their fixation, or the degree of their obsession. Since most of us don’t spend all our time talking about Lizard Jews, we come off comparatively sane. But we all have topics on which debating us would be an exercise in futility.

  6. says

    I don’t mind arguing with people like that since my focus (in fact, my entire debate style) revolves around breaking through people’s walls, not just winning on having the more defensible position. I might not change their mind immediately, but they make me push myself and learn new approaches that will work on others.

    Maybe I’m just a masochist… :P

  7. D. C. Sessions says

    Arguing with such a person is futile.

    That depends. Are you trying to change his mind, or are you using him as a foil for the audience?

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 20+ years mixing it up with anti-vaccination types on Usenet and on the WWW. I never had any serious expectation of changing their minds, even when I was confronting people like Jay Gordon who have the education and training to deal with the evidence.

    On the other hand, if you handle those encounters well — by keeping calm and civil, letting your opponents make themselves look ridiculous — then you can persuade the lurkers or at least nudge them in a better direction.

  8. Artor says

    Didn’t you have a major health crisis last year, Ed? You just weren’t eating enough garlic & broccoli. More! More! Back the truck up over here guys! *beep* *beep* *beep*

  9. alanb says

    What I find most amazing about conspiracy theorists is not their lack of logic or imperviousness to facts, but their incredibly warped view of human nature. I was doing a Google image search yesterday and came across a site about the “fake” Boston Marathon bombing. Hundreds of people engaging in a conspiracy for reasons that are unclear and nobody lets the secret out. Anybody who graduates from journalism school evidently immediately becomes a member of the mainstream media and tells lies for reasons that are also unclear.

  10. doublereed says

    I generally believe that there is a ‘line’ when arguing. If someone crosses the line, then imo you shouldn’t bother with reasonable discourse and should just focus your efforts on your own amusement (sarcasm and mocking etc).

    Racial/gender slurs cross the line. Conspiracy theories also cross the line. The nature of conspiracy theories, whether they are medical woo, 9/11 truthers, or anti-semetism, is simply immune from criticism. That’s just the way conspiracy theories are. So why bother with reasonable discourse?

    Of course, I also think that people take longer to change their minds than people demand. People always expect others to immediately change their beliefs when presented with evidence, but in my experience, people usually take a bit of time, which is extremely frustrating. With exceptions, of course.

  11. Jordan Genso says

    @8

    Exactly. If there is an audience, then there is reason to engage with this individual.

  12. D. C. Sessions says

    I’ve seen people in the grip of an idée fixe who didn’t happen to be conspiracy theorists, and they otherwise fit your description above. A lot of them seem to resort instead to assuming anyone who questions their fixation is either stupid, or evil.

    There are three stages of Holy Warrior thinking:

    1) You disagree with me, so you haven’t heard The Truth. I will tell it to you.
    2) You disagree with me and have heard The Truth, so you must be too thick to understand it.
    3) You disagree with me and can discuss The Truth in detail, so you understand it. You must therefore be rejecting what is clearly True — you are evil.

    Ignorant, incompetent, or evil. The only three ways you can disagree with a Holy Warrior.

    (And, yeah, I’ve been posting this bit about Holy Warrior Thinking since the mid-90s.)

  13. Sastra says

    I know this attitude well, since my neo-pagan New Age-y friends are firm alt med advocates and conspiracy theorists. In their case, they blame several factors which aid in suppressing the all-natural Truth:

    1.) Evil Pharma bent on money and control
    2.) Most scientists just “going along” with what they’re told and not knowing
    3.) Fear.

    That last one is a big one and much more complicated than it looks on the surface. It isn’t just fear of the minions of the Conspiracy. These are Course in Miracles advocates and according to their world view people deny their spiritual nature because they are “afraid.” Only Consciousness exists — and this scares the folks who have not yet evolved out of Ego (naturalism and the belief that the natural world actually exists.) I don’t “believe in” homeopathy because I am afraid of what it will do to my materialistic atheist world view. Love frightens me — but someday I will come along at my own pace and gradually open my heart. Right. How forgiving of them. And how insular.

    But I’m going to disagree with you regarding whether these folks or SS are “reachable.”

    You can’t know that they aren’t. They may move more than you think they will, at a later date. They may have already moved more than they let on today. There may be one point which takes hold. They may do a complete reversal. THEY may “come along at their own pace.”

    The “brick walls” like SS have one thing going for them and it’s major: they want to debate the other side. My altie friends usually do everything they possibly can to change the topic whenever I challenge their assertions. They’re not “confrontational.” That’s fear.

    But your conspiracy guy IS confrontational. He goes outside the Comfort Zone with the Echo Chamber. As someone who used to go along with you into the IRC debate chatrooms, I can remind you that this takes guts on his part and it’s a huge leap over the people who only look for self-confirming circle-jerks. There is hope, then. Just as there is hope for my friends, who value or think they value “diversity” and “outspoken women” as much as they value Spiritual Means of Knowing.

    The argument may not be futile — and you may never find out that it wasn’t.

  14. Trebuchet says

    But this weekend I realized after spending two days arguing with the same person that there are some people you just shouldn’t bother debating on a subject, or any subject.

    I’m somewhat astounded, Ed, that you’ve managed to reach middle age without figuring that out before. I’m pretty sure I knew it in high school.

  15. Sastra says

    doublereed #11 wrote:

    I generally believe that there is a ‘line’ when arguing. If someone crosses the line, then imo you shouldn’t bother with reasonable discourse and should just focus your efforts on your own amusement (sarcasm and mocking etc).

    That’s a good point. The line I draw is the answer to this question: “Can you conceive of the possibility of being mistaken — and if you are, would you want to change your mind?”

    If they answer “no” and/or “no” — then there is no common ground FOR debate. It’s done.

    Of course, when I think about it, I don’t really accept these answers because when I think about it the other person doesn’t accept these answers either — not really. They don’t really believe they’re infallible. They don’t really view their beliefs as a game-of-pretend. So given those responses I just shift the debate … and they’re on even shakier ground. In other words, it’s not ‘done.’ I double down.

    So never mind. I don’t even draw that line.

    (By the way, where is this ‘Google Hangouts’ you speak of? I drifted off IRC because it became too chit-chatty.)

  16. raven says

    There was a long conversation about cancer, for example. When he declared that cancer is easily reversible if you just eat broccoli and other things, he was asked to provide studies that show this.

    Not good.

    Every once in a while, I see someone with medical problems, including cancer, go alt-med.

    Shortly after, they end up…dead.

    We’ve also been having a sporadic whooping cough perussis epidemic on the west coast, in part due to the anti-vaxxers. A few people have died, mostly infants.

    Some false beliefs are harmless. Some are killers.

  17. Sastra says

    Oh, wait.

    I do not debate anyone I seriously suspect of being either genuinely mentally ill or severely emotionally fragile/vulnerable. And I’m guessing that goes for everyone here. You really can’t reason someone out of schizophrenia… or a firmly entrenched neurosis. Nor does one debate the existence of God at funerals.

    I’d also back off it looked like someone was getting violent, I assume.

    The first situation has happened more than once; never ran into the second.

  18. raven says

    I generally believe that there is a ‘line’ when arguing. If someone crosses the line, then imo you shouldn’t bother with reasonable discourse and should just focus your efforts on your own amusement (sarcasm and mocking etc).

    I draw the line when they start lying, ignoring data, or repeat themselves too many times.

    Which means dialogues with people whose minds are stuck in cement don’t last too long.

  19. A Masked Avenger says

    D. C. Sessions, #13:

    There are three stages of Holy Warrior thinking:

    1) You disagree with me, so you haven’t heard The Truth. I will tell it to you.
    2) You disagree with me and have heard The Truth, so you must be too thick to understand it.
    3) You disagree with me and can discuss The Truth in detail, so you understand it. You must therefore be rejecting what is clearly True — you are evil.

    That is brilliant! I will steal this and use it liberally.

    It applies to more than Holy Warriors, BTW. That sequence is also a perfect reflection of many relationship breakdowns I’ve seen, and some I’ve been responsible for:

    1) You did X which hurt me, so you must not realize it. I will tell you.
    2) You did X again after I told you, so you must be thick.
    3) You clearly understand that X hurts me, and keep doing it. You must therefore hate me, or not give a damn about me, or are just plain evil.

    Meanwhile, the other party thinks it’s stupid to be hurt by X, that you’re a controlling SOB for trying to make them stop doing X, a crybaby for continuing to complain about X for months or years, etc. X is probably a bit of baggage, or a trigger, so it probably IS silly–except to you. It’s pretty analogous to an idée fixe. In fact in my own past failed relationships, I had the pleasure of being painted to third parties as paranoid, and damned if I didn’t look paranoid. Zie keeps doing X! Zie is obviously pushing my buttons on purpose by this point! And none of you see it–what? Are you just on her side? Or are you out to get me too?

    Again, I think all of us are prone to this pattern in some aspect of our lives. Some people are just much more severely afflicted than others, and those people probably gravitate to environments (like religion) that suit their kink.

  20. raven says

    I used to deal every once in a while with HIV/AIDS denialists. Almost never these days.

    1. The ones who were HIV+ have all died. Of AIDS.

    2. With HIV+ now a chronic treatable disease with decades ahead of them at least, there isn’t much incentive for a new group to believe that.

    We see this often. People with strange counterfactual beliefs will die before they will change their minds.

  21. A Masked Avenger says

    I do not debate anyone I seriously suspect of being either genuinely mentally ill or severely emotionally fragile/vulnerable. And I’m guessing that goes for everyone here. You really can’t reason someone out of schizophrenia… or a firmly entrenched neurosis. Nor does one debate the existence of God at funerals.

    Bog bless you! This.

    Although I’m no clinician, I immediately disengage with people who come across as mentally ill, because I’m unqualified to help them and therefore more likely to do harm than good. In public forums I end up watching aghast as others tussle away, knowing that it’s also inappropriate to say, “Hey! Leave them alone! Can’t you see they have genuine mental problems?”

  22. pocketnerd says

    Thus Spake ZaraD. C. Sessions, #8:

    That depends. Are you trying to change his mind, or are you using him as a foil for the audience?

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 20+ years mixing it up with anti-vaccination types on Usenet and on the WWW. I never had any serious expectation of changing their minds, even when I was confronting people like Jay Gordon who have the education and training to deal with the evidence.

    On the other hand, if you handle those encounters well — by keeping calm and civil, letting your opponents make themselves look ridiculous — then you can persuade the lurkers or at least nudge them in a better direction.

    Very true. It has been years since the usenet group talk.origins has had a creationist regular willing to discuss the evidence or retract assertions that turn out to be demonstrably incorrect… but still, the handful of diehard Liars-for-Jesus that frequent the group are a much better demonstration of creationism’s dishonesty and vacuity. An honest reader of AIG’s website might be fooled by the slick polish of Ham and his fellow pious fraudsters, but after flipping through t.o I imagine it would be hard to see creationism as anything other than aggressively anti-science flimflam.

  23. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I actually know some very smart folks who cling to such bizarre beliefs that it is almost as if you are dealing with two different people. One of them is highly analytical, capable of bringing information to bear and troubleshooting complex systems. The other is a true believer who will never be moved by any weight of logic or evidence.

    The thing is that usually the person is most irrational wrt subjects that scare her–disease, death, losing a loved one… They adopt their little solution almost like sympathetic logic: “There I’m eating 40 pounds of broccoli a day, so I’ll never get cancer. No one will be able to stay in the same room with me for longer than 5 minutes, but I’ll never get cancer.”

    Terror Management Theory presents a pretty good model for such folks.

  24. raven says

    I’d also back off it looked like someone was getting violent, I assume.

    The first situation has happened more than once; never ran into the second.

    How could you have missed the Canadian Montrealer with the initial DM? The one picked up by the police.

    Pharyngua Bruno thread
    193.
    UnPoeteMaudit .
    16 March 2014 at 8:02 am (UTC -5)

    Hey, it was OK to set people on fire in 1600!

    Yes, it was moral to burn heretics, as it would be moral to haul your own living carcass to the stake. I’d gladly set the fires myself.

    Or missed this one from a month ago?

    In some xian’s heads, the Dark Ages aren’t over. They are just temporarily suspended.

  25. abb3w says

    @8, D. C. Sessions

    That depends. Are you trying to change his mind, or are you using him as a foil for the audience?

    Indeed; whether or not it is futile depends on your prospective consequences you prefer.

    @13, D. C. Sessions

    There are three stages of Holy Warrior thinking:

    Beware; Ed’s reaction itself resembles category #2.

    There appears to be some more rigorous work on the taxa of responses in the psychology literature.

    @14, Sastra

    But I’m going to disagree with you regarding whether these folks or SS are “reachable.” You can’t know that they aren’t.

    Not with metaphysically absolute p=1 certainty; but one can make a Bayesian inference, based on traits previously noticed to have been strongly correlated in other instances of persuasion failure.

    @14, Sastra

    There is hope, then.

    Well, yes; but hope doesn’t necessarily correspond to reality.

    My own recommendation would be to use such provisionally unreachable folk for alpha-testing unusual variant arguments and persuasion methods. With minimal opportunity cost, you can find out how marginally less unreachable folk are likely to react to resist persuasion, and facilitating refinement for wider use; additionally, unusual variants are more likely to trigger surprise, and in turn trigger the shift from “reflexive” to “reflective” cognition, which in turn facilitates re-evaluation.

    @14, Sastra

    They’re not “confrontational.” That’s fear. But your conspiracy guy IS confrontational.

    Fear seems to underlie Altemeyer’s “Right Wing Authoritarianism”; confrontation seems more suggestive of the apparently contempt-rooted “Social Dominance Orientation” of Sidanius. This assessment seems at least marginally supported by his remarking “they’re stupid” (asserting intellectual superiority) and “the entire scientific establishment is corrupt” (asserting moral superiority).

  26. howardhershey says

    There are three stages of Holy Warrior thinking:

    1) You disagree with me, so you haven’t heard The Truth. I will tell it to you.
    2) You disagree with me and have heard The Truth, so you must be too thick to understand it.
    3) You disagree with me and can discuss The Truth in detail, so you understand it. You must therefore be rejecting what is clearly True — you are evil.

    The goal of such debates is to reach the stage of “evil” as directly as possible.

  27. Sastra says

    D.C Sessions #13 wrote:

    There are three stages of Holy Warrior thinking:

    1) You disagree with me, so you haven’t heard The Truth. I will tell it to you.
    2) You disagree with me and have heard The Truth, so you must be too thick to understand it.
    3) You disagree with me and can discuss The Truth in detail, so you understand it. You must therefore be rejecting what is clearly True — you are evil.

    I’m not terribly enamored with this because it seems to me that it can also apply to a scientist arguing against pseudoscience — or maybe even all arguments in general. Richard Dawkins has famously said that those who reject evolution are either “ignorant or wicked” — and he prefers to assume the first.

    The people who are usually most upset with sincere attempts to persuade are the accomodationists who just want to see everyone accept everyone else’s ‘opinion’ and change the topic.

    @raven #26.

    DM was clearly mentally ill. I never responded to him at all.

    As for the threats of violence where people talk about hell or potential blasphemy penalties, I think I was referring to immediate physical threats like a fist waved in my face. I’m not terribly worried about unlikely hypotheticals in THAT way. I don’t refuse to debate people who believe in damnation, for example.

  28. Sastra says

    abb3w #27 wrote:

    Not with metaphysically absolute p=1 certainty; but one can make a Bayesian inference, based on traits previously noticed to have been strongly correlated in other instances of persuasion failure.

    True. My background information gathered from atheist forums however contains a fair number of atheists who claim they were not only fervent religious believers, but impassioned debaters on the other side. The deeper you get involved in becoming a “better debater,” the more risk you run if you happen to be wrong.

    Proselytizing is not the same as debate. If you’re not just preaching to the converted or to easy marks, then it’s very easy to slip from the first into the second before you know it — especially if you’re intelligent. You need to speak in their language and study their arguments. If yours are bullshit and you keep it up, this is going to get dangerous. You’ll end up arguing with yourself — in the middle of the night.

    Conspiracy mindsets are tough — but not always intractable. If they were really into conspiracies, they’d avoid contaminated forums and stay among the Safe. Because SS is eager to spend so much time with Ed, that’s information which is slightly encouraging.

  29. A Masked Avenger says

    Sastra, #29:

    I’m not terribly enamored with this because it seems to me that it can also apply to a scientist arguing against pseudoscience — or maybe even all arguments in general. Richard Dawkins has famously said that those who reject evolution are either “ignorant or wicked” — and he prefers to assume the first.

    I think the difference is one of degree as much as kind. The pattern Sessions describes is OK, in proportion as (1) you’re careful to make sure you’re right, (2) you’re aware you could be wrong, and (3) you don’t carry it to extremes. It becomes pathological because the Holy Warrior believes without evidence, is unshakably convinced of his rightness, and regards these “ignorant or wicked” people as subhuman and dangerous.

    Like many things, this is an example of something more or less reasonable and adaptive, being distorted into something malignant.

  30. says

    He thinks evolution does happen, kinda, but that our adaptations to our environment are neo-Lamarckian and that we, and everything else (including bacteria) evolve “consciously” — that we literally will ourselves to mutate and adapt, then pass those adaptations on.

    There is a place for something like this in biology, but is does not take the form that your this SS person thinks that it does. If he encounters the concept of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance they will likely link this with what they believe, though that is not entirely unfair except where they use it to prop up things that are clearly not true.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/13-grandmas-experiences-leave-epigenetic-mark-on-your-genes
    Your experiences can alter your germline cells in a way that alters various “presets” with respect to epigenetic regulation. There is evidence that people with PTSD can pass on a predisposition to anxiety disorders to their children. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective in that if one’s environment is dangerous, ones offspring should be prepared for that. But anxiety sucks and one of the reasons that psychology and psychiatry exists is because we are very good at tying strong emotion to things that we don’t actually want to. We are shitty monkeys in a lot of ways.

  31. martinc says

    Really interesting topic. I enjoy tilting at windmills in most public debate forums, but you do get some people where it isn’t worth the bother: the ones who can’t even follow a logical chain of evidence. Here’s one example I call ‘The Goldfish’ … five seconds of memory:

    Idiot: X!
    Me: Refutation of X.
    Idiot: But … X!

    Another fun one is ‘See-saw Logic':

    Idiot: X!
    Me: Refutation of X.
    Idiot: Oh I see. However, Y!
    Me: Refutation of Y.
    Idiot: Oh I see. However, X!

  32. Randydeluxe says

    Freddy Bender: My client is prepared to settle for 50 percent of the marital assets.
    Miles Massey: Why only 50, Freddy? Why not a hundred? While we’re dreaming, why not 150? Are you familiar with “Kershner”?
    Freddy Bender: “Kershner” does not apply.
    Miles Massey: Bring this to trial, we’ll see if “Kershner” applies.
    Freddy Bender: “Kershner” was in Kentucky.
    Miles Massey: “Kershner” was in Kentucky?
    Freddy Bender: “Kershner” was in Kentucky.
    Miles Massey: All right, Freddy, forget “Kershner”. What’s your bottom line?
    Freddy Bender: Primary residence, 30 percent of remaining assets.
    Miles Massey: What, are you nuts? Have you forgotten “Kershner”?

  33. lpetrich says

    As to conspiracy theories, I’ve come across two of them about the origins of Xianity:

    Joseph Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus He proposes that in the late 1st cy. CE, some Roman aristocrats invented Xianity to pacify the Jews, and that they had left lots of clues in the New Testament about their work.

    A certain mountainman / arius / Kookaburra Jack asks Did Constantine Invent Christianity? He proposes that Constantine’s Xianity forgers had not only invented all the pre-Constantine Xian literature, but had also added lots of references to Xianity to various existing documents.

    Richard Carrier has skewered Joseph Atwill’s theory here in FTB, but I don’t know if he will ever want to try to spend any time on mountainman’s theory.

  34. says

    Fuck eating broccoli.

    Just don’t go outside in the hours during which there are overflights of commercial/military jet aircraft within “X miles” of where you are. Contrails. They ARE fucking real and they CAUSE cancer.

    Oh, no, of course I don’t believe that nonsense but I know a couple of young guys who drink too much, get stoned too much and think that “The MAN” is holding them down. They both told me about contrails. I told both of them that the notion is nonsensical and that before they bring it up again, if I’m around the table, to do some reading on meteorology and the efficacy of airborne agents being used against large populations WITHOUT those populations being aware of it.

    There’s enough fucked up shit that is actually going on, like our living with a largely non-representative form of government in a dysfunctional “democracy”. It’s not because the gnomes of Zurich or the Jooos or SATAN. It’s because so many people are gullible and will vote for idiots, charlatans, mountebanks, bigots and conmen–who make unfulfillable promises to them–when they engage in politics at all.

    Arguing with “TROO Bleevers” is difficult. Arguing with liars is impossible. I prefer to simply ignore the former and insult the latter.

  35. says

    I really get frustrated with people like that. There are great health benefits from proper eating. Broccoli and Garlic are in fact very good for you , but a cure no. Because of nutty theories like he made, many hear them and dismiss valid claims.

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