Open Thread on AETV #755

A bit late, but I know you want to talk about it.

I don’t think Matt and Tracie were aware of this, and some commenters may not be either: Dale, the Australian guy who took up half the show, was not kidding — or if he was, he kids a lot.  He used to be a persistent troll at The Atheist Experience and The Non-Prophets – Fans page on Facebook, before he got himself banned.  The members taunted him to call, and it sounds like they were not disappointed.

Of course, Dale managed to spin this train wreck of a call in an astonishingly dishonest way: he recut the video to only include the last minute where Matt finished up and hung up on him, maybe hoping people wouldn’t realize that they spent a good 20-30 minutes on him first.  He’s got open comments on this video,  so I’m sure that means he would welcome people stopping by and explaining more details about the call, perhaps linking to an uncut version, etc…


  1. says

    I’m really resisting the urge to get sucked into arguing with him in the video’s comments section.

    Yes, his comments are about what you’d expect.

    He’s claiming victory because Matt decided to not answer his 80th “How you do explain THAT?”

  2. says

    Well don’t forget you can’t spell dishonesty without honesty so obviously by calling him dishonest you admit he’s being honest! *joke*

    All in all a good show in a slightly masochistic way. Not sure if its better that he was real or worse. On the one hand at least you were addressing someone who wasn’t just putting on an act but it was so tortured it makes me wish it was an act.

    As to the Hari Krishna’s I wonder if they are like the Mormons of Hinduism 😛

  3. Muzz says

    I’m not one to cry fraud much, but I have to admit, when he pulled that part about “Saying “I don’t believe in god” also has the words for “I believe in god”, so you have to say you believe in god to say you don’t”, I was very much convinced it was a wind up.
    I think the last time I heard that line reasoning it was from a seven year old, and they knew it made no sense.
    I guess he could have been doing that part for the lulz. Actually, I hope he was for the sake of my sanity.

  4. says

    I try to keep in mind that there’s always people on the fence watching. If we can convince more people to look into their beliefs and see if they hold water, that’s a good thing.

  5. Strider says

    I *knew* when Dale asked about posting the Vid that it’d end up being a dishonestly edited hack-job. I have a feeling he’s going to regret it.

  6. says

    I *swear* I thought this guy was fakin’ it and that Matt and Tracie were playing along only because it was April Fool’s day.

    Can calls be limited to one question? It seems like a waste of time to devote so much time going over all these same points with a single person.

  7. says

    Whereas it was super funny, and I spent my morning at work today laughing whilst listening to it, I think I’d rather hear some more calls. The Krsna conversation was just starting to get interesting when it got cut!

  8. Zengaze says

    I’m one of those , who when dale presents himself as the ultimate Poe, pets his little ego about how funny he is will call him for the asshat that he is and then tell him to crawl back into the primordial soup he came from. Though he may actually end up founding a church and never revealing himself. Lot of money to be made in homeopathy, especially if you know it’s just water.

  9. says

    Ha ha ha, had a long discussion with him on the Atheist Group Leaders FB page. Eh, I was bored that day.
    Not a very smart guy and he does keep moving on to the next subject never acknowledging answers to his past questions.
    I am sure I will recognize some of the same questions when I listen to the show.
    My favorite thing was that he kept likeing his own comments so I told him that it was equivalent to FB masturbating.

  10. says

    I was practically screaming for Matt to hang up on Dale about 15 minutes in. I guess he couldn’t hear me.

  11. Felipe says

    I also enjoyed quite much, even though intellectual dishonesty makes me want to puke.

  12. MichaelD says

    I enjoyed it too, course I used to listen to the TAG debate while working on school papers…

  13. michaelbuchheim says

    Please tell me he is a four years old kid with an unusually mature voice. The writing in his description of the video he posted is even scarier. It has no punctuation and spelling mistakes that seem to wild to be authentic. I would have replayed to his video but I find myself pitying the guy and wondering what could I write that he would be able to understand. And is he claiming he is a prophet? If a god chose him for a vessel, it must be because there was plenty of space there to fill.

  14. Bernard says

    As an Australian and a regular viewer of the show, I was convinced that Dale was either winding everyone up or was a nutcase. I tended to believe the former because many people here think that Americans are overly serious and do not know how to laugh at themselves (“Oh, don’t put yourself down”, seems to be a standard reply). I’ve also heard it said that many Americans believe that irony is something that grows on an elephant. I don’t intend to insult anyone by saying this (don’t get too serious). Just letting you know that Aussies who might have been watching would have seen the funny side. It’s a favourite pastime to “take the piss” out of anyone who seems to set themselves up as experts or authorities, including television show hosts. It’s not necessarily mean spirited, just a way of having fun. Having said that, I agree that Dale could just be stupid. As Einstein said, the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

  15. says

    I suspected maybe this guy was a Poe at first, but looking around his youtube channel convinces me otherwise. Either way, he’s definitely a troll. I’d feel bad about ridiculing his intelligence except that he’s clearly has no problem ridiculing Matt and Tracie in his video description. Considering they were nice enough to devote a sizable portion of the show to him, that’s just incredibly disrespectful on his part. The “crazy callers” are often my favorite part of the show, and I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining to listen to in a maddening way, but I hope you guys don’t take another call from him. He doesn’t deserve any more air time; he’s a creep and obviously has no interest in learning anything.

  16. says

    Dale’s posted the rest of the conversation in a separate video, but the hack job is still up as well and neither video links back to TAE.

    I meant to comment on TAE #754, but there was no thread last week: the keyword “disgust” in conjunction with gays is a surefire indicator of Charlie the homophobe, who was among last week’s final callers. He is desperate to justify his own revulsion, but his scripted rationales never gain any purchase on the show.

  17. jacobfromlost says

    Dale actually did post two videos that included the entire discussion–it was just that the second part was only 2 minutes. (For some reason he seemed to post the 2 minute ending first, and then took a time to post the first–and longer–part. I don’t think this was done nefariously as he very likely thinks he did well throughout.)

    I mentioned Dale in the blog a couple week’s back. I corresponded with him for a very long time last summer. I’m convinced he’s a true believer. His behavior may be trollish, but I don’t think he is purposefully “taking the piss” out of anyone (in my experience, his laughter is because he thinks his argument is right). In my very lengthy discussions with him, he really thought the “Unsolved Mysteries” argument was solid–he wasn’t joking. The same goes for his references to medical resurrections, out of body experiences, etc. He thinks these are rock solid points, and he returns to them again and again even after he acknowledges that applying the same logic to other things doesn’t work (just as he did with Tracie).

    I would also caution that people tread lightly in terms of ad hominems, as I think it is clear that Dale is mentally challenged (this is not a joke). In my discussions with him last summer, I learned that he was unemployed and had been kicked out of his church. There used to be a vid on his youtube channel of him standing up during a sermon and arguing with the preacher–behavior that I can only assume is what got him kicked out of his church. (He claimed it was because he disagreed with them about “apostasy”, but I doubted that as he only claimed this after I explained to him what apostasy was. He seemed to just connect the last two things we talked about together–a sort of inverse of disconnecting the logic Tracie summed up with “Don’t do the same thing with god that you wouldn’t do with bigfoot.”)

    And I wouldn’t ban him from the show. Just make it clear to him when he calls that he will only get 5 or 10 minutes, and stick to it. He really doesn’t know when to stop. (I think the way the hosts handled him was extremely respectful, and I would hope they continue to allow him to call…just not every show…or every month.)

  18. Jon B. says

    As always, I wish Tracie got more airtime. We don’t see enough of her, and she always comes up with such insightful points such as this week’s “even if we saw a miracle, how could we attribute it to a god?” or last month’s “We’ve never seen ‘nothing’ so how can we say anything about its properties?” I listen to the rest of her episodes screaming “She’s just undercut everything you can say from here! Why are you still talking?” More Tracie!

  19. Matt says

    Dale’s accent almost sounded like a put on, like an Australian trying to sound Australian, if that makes sense. I’m Australian too, by the way. The whole call was excruciating.

    For what it’s worth, I’m in favour of referring these types of callers to online resources and moving on.

  20. Bernard says

    OK, I had no knowledge about the caller or his background. It seemed like the kind of elaborate practical joke that got funnier the longer he strung the presenters along. The thought had crossed my mind that he was a nutcase, but I didn’t really give it too much consideration because it seemed like a scripted performance of someone playing dumb. But if he is “mentally challenged” as you suggest then that is very sad. I can’t laugh about it anymore, I just feel sorry for the poor bugger.

  21. Bernard says

    Yes, that seemingly overdone accent was another reason why I suspected it was a prank call.

  22. Mandrellian says


    Dale was allowed to bring up way too many new topics. The hosts obviously can’t control who calls or what they talk about, but they have *complete* control over how long they keep indulging each caller. It’s one thing to give people enough rope to hang themselves, but in Dale’s case he completely ignored Tracie and Matt’s answers and their follow-up questions before launching into new sermons. It became very clear very quickly that Dale wasn’t there to have a conversation or a proper argument, he was there to play stupid semantic games and ask stupid Apologetics 101 rhetorical questions. Regardless, he was indulged until the hosts (and audience) just couldn’t take it any more. Dale was frankly bloody rude and he didn’t deserve half the show’s airtime – and then look what he did with the footage!

    While I wouldn’t suggest imposing arbitrary time limits on people, limiting each caller to two or three points/questions would be very welcome. Why let someone ask a second, third, fourth question if they’ve already ignored the answers to their previous questions? The community radio show I worked on (admittedly 15 years ago) had just such a policy: callers could talk about whatever they wanted, but they generally weren’t allowed to change the subject more than once and call duration was dependent on caller behaviour and the number of callers in the queue. Some nights we only had four callers, but even then we tried to keep each call on topic and under ten minutes. Factor in a couple of advertisements and the intro spiel, we generally only had about fifty minutes of actual air time.

    As an aside, Dale seems to be the real deal. Extra evidence: he’s from Queensland – birthplace of Ken Ham and Australia’s Bible Belt. Maybe, just maybe, we can get Dale to go to the States too and raise the collective IQ of Australia significantly.

  23. wholething says

    The first caller mentioned that the angels can be thrown into Hell, then saved humans might be liable to being sent to Hell, too. If it is possible, then, given eternity, it is statistically impelled that everyone will eventually end up there. Revelation talks about a dragon sweeping a third of the stars out of the sky and down to Earth. Since one star coming to Earth would vaporize it, the interpretation is that it is a metaphor for a third of the angels being swept out of Heaven.

    Christians have told me that the soul is the seat of free will. They also tell me that sin had to be a possibility in the Garden of Eden in order for there to be free will. If this theology were true and souls go to Heaven, then there would have to be the possibility of sin. Matthew reports that Jesus says that thoughts can be sins. Since humans can’t know what their next thought will be and cannot control what they will think next, it is inevitable that they will envy Mother Teresa’s mansion at least once. His Omnipotence will then be forced to either throw that human oul into the Lake of Fire or go through the Resurrection bit ad infinitum.

  24. says

    I used to associate with the Hare Krishnas years back, so I have a fairly decent grasp of their doctrines. I thought a quick run-down might be helpful.

    The Hare Krishnas are indeed hindus. Specifically, they’re in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which is a monotheistic branch following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a saint that lived around 1500 AD (and whom the Hare Krishnas accept as a incarnation of Krishna himself). It’s a bhakti tradition, which means that it has a heavy emphasis on devotion to the deity as a path to salvation.
    The founder was Indian as so the movement is fairly traditional in beliefs and practices. Their relationship with their Indian counterparts is ambiguous, though. Some accept the Hare Krishnas as full hindus, others do not. There have been instances both of contention and cooperation.

    They are monotheistic in much the same way as Christians. They believe in one god, Krishna, but they also believe that this god has multiple expansions and incarnations, which are, in a sense, separate, while still being the same person. It’s complicated and likely to give you a head-ache if you think about it too much.

    They believe in the idea of samsara and reincarnation. The basic idea is that the souls (ourselves, as well as all other living things, including various semi-spiritual beings) are caught in the material world due to their rebellious nature. The way out is to accept servitude to the deity and so achieve liberation from birth and death and go to the spiritual world, their version of heaven.
    As such, they are quite ascetic, leading to their view on e.g. sexuality. Their doctrines on this point can be summed up in the four regulating principles: no meat-eating, no intoxication, no gambling, no illicit sex. The only permissible form of sex is between a husband and wife, for the purpose of procreation. Yes, even if you get married, you’re not allowed to get your freak on.

    The whole ascetic attitude comes as a result of their view of this world as fallen and corrupt. The only proper way to engage with the world is to use it for the service of the deity. This ties in with the idea of karma. Any action to which you’re attached, results in karma, which will tie you more strongly to the material world. The only escape is to act only in service to the god.

    Food preparation is indeed very meticulous, as Tracie mentioned. The reason for this is that all food is offered to god before eaten. Obviously, if you’re offering it to god, you have to do your very best.
    The idea is that by offering the food to god, it becomes spiritualized and actually has the power to save. This is also why Hare Krishna temples offer free food to visitors. The idea is that the food itself can help people become closer to god. Food that has been offered is referred to as prasadam, meaning mercy.
    You have to give them that. Eating your way into heaven is a pretty neat trick 🙂

    Likewise with the mantra. Hearing the mantra, even if you don’t believe, has spiritual benefit. That’s also why they do the public chanting and dancing. The doctrine I heard was that the name of god is identical to god. Thus, by chanting the mantra, you’re actually in the presence of god and becoming purified. Obviously, the greater concentration and faith, the greater the benefit.

    The main holy books of the movement are the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam. Both are traditional hindu scriptures. They’ve been translated and commented upon by the founder. Most temples will have regular readings and lectures on these works. Lectures for visitors usually go with the Gita and focus on the basics. The book, with commentary is available online, if anyone’s interested. The commentary often stretches a bit beyond the verses, so it gives a good, broad view of the doctrines.

    If there’s anything else, I’d be happy to answer any question, as far as I can.

  25. says

    Regarding Dale’s accent, foreigners doing it wrong sound just as bad, but different. This guy’s just inarticulate.

  26. says

    I might add that the Hare Krishnas have some unique views on history and cosmology, which has lead to some awful pseudo-scientific writings.
    They believe in a very old universe and, more to the point, in an old humanity. They believe that human beings have existed millions of years into the past. They also often accept a kind of Intelligent Design. Creationist Michael Cremo is a Hare Krishna.

  27. andrewhawkins says

    I also thought he had some sort of mental disability. The way he just wouldn’t seem to acknowledge anything the hosts said made it sound like an autism spectrum disorder.

  28. jacobfromlost says

    Bernard: because it seemed like a scripted performance

    Me: Oh, I think Dale had a script of questions he fell back on, but it wasn’t because he was acting (he believes the stuff in his scripts). In my experience he cuts and pastes long tracts of other people’s writing and inserts it into his debate–even really bad jokes about atheists (he must have sent me a dozen such jokes when he ran out of anything else to say or send).

    He even used to post long narratives in the comments section of atheist vids on youtube that started off something like “I used to be an atheist until…” bla bla bla. He’d start doing this when he was clearly losing the debate, couldn’t keep up, and then seemed to think posting ten or twenty sections of someone else’s essay would fool everyone into thinking A) he wrote it, and B) it connected in some way to what we were talking about.

    What was sad is it DID fool many theists. I had to explain how the copied sections were all coherent and spelled correctly, while Dale’s original material was virtually ALL misspelled and incoherent. Moreover, you could take one sentence of the coherent stuff, google it, and find exactly where it came from in two seconds. But clear, obvious, and easily accessible evidence didn’t mean much to them.

  29. Jubal DiGriz says

    It was an okay show, but I’m another one of the folks who feel Dale got too much time. The woman who had some experiences with Hare Krishna was quite interesting, and I wonder who else was on the line.

    I always appreciate it when Matt or another co-host brings out the “Give me your one best argument” approach. If Dale had just one point and 20 minutes was spent talking in depth about that (as is also done on the show), that would be interesting, and a good chunk of the reason I watch the show is for conversations like that.

    This Gish Gallup routine, not so much. Was it that there weren’t many people identifying as theist callers in the queue, so you wanted to keep him on a while?

  30. nope says

    This must have been the most obvious prank call I’ve ever seen (not even considering the date).

  31. jacobfromlost says

    It may have been obvious, but he wasn’t a prank caller. This is all Dale does–argue with atheists on youtube, facebook, and wherever else he goes…with the very same responses he had here. I’ve been aware of him for months and have seen no indication he is faking.

    If he’s a prankster, he never breaks character or drops his position in public or private. (I had private email discussions with him for many, many weeks last summer. If he isn’t a true believer, he has a religious dedication to very lame pranksterism that would take hundreds of hours of dedication on many websites, and that would only be during the last 8 months.)

  32. says

    As I’ve said before, one of the intellectual tragedies of the introduction of Poe’s Law into internet discourse is that now there is a whole group of people who think any and every idiotic utterance by a religious wacko online has just got to be someone faking it. That there’s this vast armada of goofy pranksters with nothing to do all day but construct elaborately phony fundamentalist personas for the sole purpose of trolling atheist blogs and TV shows, and that in reality, no real person could possibly be so stupid as to believe this stuff.

    It’s a kind of irrationality that’s oddly appealing to rationalists.

  33. LD says

    I try to remain civil and don’t usually do this, but after watching a bunch of Dale’s videos, reading his comments, and of course listening to the conversation on the last AXP episode…

    …I’ve come to the conclusion, based on all the available evidence, that Dale is a nutcase.

  34. MichaelD says

    Well there is a certain amount of wishful thinking in it. Oh he’s not making completely ridiculous argument with some of the most twisted logic I’ve ever seen he’s just trying to pull my leg. Its almost optimistic in a strange little way.

  35. Kazim says

    IMHO, Poe’s Law has caused people to become very bad at assessing the probabilities that they check against Occam’s Razor.

    In a case like this, you have an individual who has a pretty extensive trail of evangelizing atheists on Facebook and recording dozens of awful videos. So the question is, “What’s more likely? That some atheist prankster thought it would be a great joke to devote hundreds of hours of his life to creating a Christian alter ego in order to embarrass Christians and/or The Atheist Experience? Or a fundie evangelist has stupid opinions and argues them badly?”

    For me, the answer is going to fall on Option B in the vast majority of cases, with allowances made for especially suspicious characters. Many of our viewers seem to have convinced themselves that dumb sounding Christians are an incredibly rare commodity, whose existence requires extraordinary evidence.

  36. nope says

    My assessment might be skewed, considering the amount of time I used to spend in the darker parts of the Internet, but Dale wouldn’t really qualify for an exceptionally dedicated troll if he was one. There are lenghts a person can go with trolling that conformist people would not want to imagine for the sake of sanity.

  37. Kazim says

    O RLY, That doesn’t count as “exceptionally dedicated”? Tell me then, what percentile would it put him in? Quantify it for me — do 50% of all trolls record hours of video of themselves preaching to nobody in particular, and devote additional hours to commenting on their own posts? Or maybe is it only 25%? When you argue with someone who puts that much effort into appearing Christian, do they turn out to be atheists 90% of the time? 80%? I’m glad to see that so few Christians actually use the internet and call shows, because I could have sworn that a meager 15% of the United States identifies as nonreligious, let alone atheist. To hear the Poe conspiracists tell it, it would seem that the hilarious atheist trolls with no life vastly outnumber real Christians in the world. What counts as exceptional to you?

  38. Miwanpela says

    I think Dale is a mentally-challenged person who is being used as a mouthpiece for some pathetic coward who is too afraid to call the AE themselves. You can hear somebody prompting Dale in the background on his “Bermuda Triangle” video on Youtube where the call was recorded from his end and so his voice is a lot clearer; the bit where he asks, “where have all the people gone then?”…just before that you can hear somebody giving him that exact line. I also think that he had his questions written down for him by another person or people.

  39. Miwanpela says

    I’m an Aussie from the awesome state of Queensland and I can verify that Dale’s accent is genuine. Like the US, we have regionalized accents and Dale’s is common to the uneducated, trailer trash of outback Australia.

  40. jacobfromlost says

    I followed the link and read Martin’s post.

    The bumper sticker guy! I remember him. What a doofus.

    I take it he no longer holds the same position on bumperstickers? Or did he just switch sides? Is he now in favor of banning Darwin Fish bumper stickers?

    (scratching head)

  41. jacobfromlost says

    I went back and listened. You are right. It is very low, but you can make out a male voice saying “then where have all these people gone missing to then??” at 0:12, and then Dale repeats it word for word. I could hear that voice at other points in the discussion, but it was very low so I didn’t think much of it.

    Whatever it is, I don’t think it is a person in the room with him. It’s either someone on a phone link, or headphones, but he was being prompted. The microphone on his recording device just so happened to be sensitive enough to pick it up.

    Very sad.

  42. Bernard says

    I really hope Dale is not prone to chronic depression. You say that he really believes what he says. If so, and he is mentally disturbed, then noticing so many people mocking his sincere attempt to justify and promote his beliefs may exacerbate his condition, whatever that may be. One could argue that hasn’t stopped him so far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is not affected by what everyone is saying in cyber-space.

    If the hosts knew all about Dale and his pathological condition in advance of his call, then I take my hat off to them for their sensitivity, even if they did let him speak too long. It has been suggested that when next he calls he be referred somewhere else. I generally don’t like the idea of censoring people in advance, but in this case it may be worth considering passing him on for his own benefit. Even though the hosts dealt with him sensitively, they have been the first to admit they are not experts in certain areas. I wonder if there is a confidential forum in which he can express himself, one with perhaps a clinical dimension to it, where he can be heard without the possibility of being mocked and ridiculed by a global viewing audience.

    I recognise that Dale could very well be reading this now. That is a risk I have taken in posting this reply. But if he is reading it, he should know that there are people, among whom are the hosts of the show, who care about his well-being and want the best for him.

    But these are matters that the presenters have probably discussed among themselves at length.

  43. Warp says

    Dale’s arguments are still better than those of William Lane Craig… (Sorry, had to.)

    Seriously though, the major problem with this one-caller-gets-half-the-show is ultimately because of the show having been reduced to 1 hour. If you compare these 1-hour episodes to the old 1.5-hour ones, there were many back then that had equally long calls, yet you didn’t get the feeling that one caller was stealing all the airtime. That additional half hour really makes a huge difference. Even with these half-hour calls they could still get a lot more callers in.

    I sincerely hope that the AXP would be able to return to the 1.5-hour format in the near future somehow.

  44. chaosof99 says

    Since there was no thread for last weeks episode, I’ll post this here: Kevin, the dude who called last week and claimed that if you put various earths into a container with water and shake it it settles into neat little layers, has obviously never actually tried to do it.

  45. nope says

    “What counts as exceptional to you?”

    If I told you I would have to kill you ;-). There are communities on the Internet, similar to i.e. Landover Baptist, that dedicate their time to such seemingly meaningless activities as elaborate trolling. Sometimes for nefarious purposes, most of the time just for laughs. Dale simply struck me as a person fitting very well into my ‘aspiring military grade level troll’ template I developed over the years ;-). If he indeed is genuine it makes the whole situation that much more amusing.

    “O RLY, That doesn’t count as “exceptionally dedicated”? Tell me then, what percentile would it put him in? Quantify it for me — do 50% of all trolls record hours of video of themselves preaching to nobody in particular, and devote additional hours to commenting on their own posts? Or maybe is it only 25%?”

    Non sequitur. Let’s say Dale’s trolling power level is 15. It doesn’t matter if 90% of all trolls have trolling power level of 10 if there exist trolls whose power level is over nine thousand. That would still mean Dale doesn’t exhibit that much dedication.

    I obviously haven’t written a paper on this but from my experience when one encounters a person like Dale it’s much more probable that s/he’s a troll rather than a nutjob.

  46. Kazim says

    Non sequitur. Let’s say Dale’s trolling power level is 15. It doesn’t matter if 90% of all trolls have trolling power level of 10 if there exist trolls whose power level is over nine thousand. That would still mean Dale doesn’t exhibit that much dedication.

    By that logic, somebody whose net worth is $10 million is not unusually rich because Bill Gates exists.

    I obviously haven’t written a paper on this but from my experience when one encounters a person like Dale it’s much more probable that s/he’s a troll rather than a nutjob.

    Oh, okay then. As long as you give me your word that this personal anecdote is true, I guess case closed.

  47. jacobfromlost says

    What has helped me understand people like Dale is that they think/feel the object of their beliefs to be MORE REAL than anything else, and therefore every real thing (including evidence and rationality) must flow from those beliefs because that’s how they feel/think. The only reason they talk about “evidence”, or try to imitate what they think rationality looks like, is because they are talking to US–people who seem to value evidence and rationality.

    But evidence and rationality, to them, is always secondary to the object of their beliefs because that object is MORE REAL than evidence and rationality to them. So they seem to use evidence and rationality to somehow make us see that their beliefs are more real, and hence more important, than evidence and rationality. (Kind of like the way Kirk Cameron once said to argue around people’s intellects.)

    When Dale doesn’t make the connection when Tracie says, “Don’t do the same thing with god that you wouldn’t do with bigfoot,” it’s not because Dale doesn’t understand that simply saying “There is no bigfoot” means “there is a bigfoot”.

    But he doesn’t care, as bigfoot isn’t the focus of his belief, so it’s “not the same” to him. (Although believing in bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, out of body experiences, resurrections, etc, doesn’t hurt the object of his belief, so citing them and trying to use supposed others’ beliefs in them to bolster his main belief doesn’t seem like a losing strategy to him, as even if all of them are demonstrated false, it still doesn’t falsify the main belief and might get others on board in the mean time.)

    It’s similar to when people say, “Well, you can believe that if you want,” as if believing and thinking all come down to how you feel you WANT to believe and think. Dale not only WANTS to believe and think this way, he wants US TO WANT to as well (the fact that we don’t want to is slightly disturbing, as their “thinking” is entirely informed by feeling/wanting, so that is recast in their minds as “you don’t want to accept X”). It’s the irrationist’s correlation to peer review–evangelism. If you can only get the other person to agree with your irrationalism, then that “proves” you are right. Disagreeing based on evidence and reason doesn’t count (to them) because “X” is the source of evidence and reason, so evidence and reason can never contradict “X”…even when it does.

  48. says

    That’s probably why so many people dismiss people like him as a troll or poe.

    It’s like saying that he’s made of antimatter.

    “What? That’s dumb. If he was, he’d have exploded from the surrounding matter. Clearly he’s just delusional.”

  49. Bernard says

    “It seems that once you decide to believe, your faith becomes more precious than truth, more real than reality”. (Heda Margolius Kovaly).

  50. Dorkman says

    If I may make a humble Monday morning quarterback suggestion — when you get one of these guys running off a script, instead of letting them just move on to another question after you’ve taken the time to answer one as thoroughly as you have, you should make them demonstrate that they heard and understand the answer you just gave and can rephrase it in their own words. If they can’t do that, they don’t get to ask another question.

  51. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    they think/feel the object of their beliefs to be MORE REAL than anything else

    I’ve idly speculated something similar (can’t speak from experience)…

    The irony of conditioning someone to devalue everything that exists in favor of something imaginary, is for all practical purposes, winding up with a nihilist.

    Except, like Wile E. Coyote, it subjectively feels safe until there’s a risk of looking and recognizing the one thing that has ever mattered isn’t really there. And terror kicks in to stop thinking.

  52. Marella says

    Yeah, the accent was genuine, and typical of uneducated and not very bright Queenslanders. It was excruciating for me to listen to and I really can’t see what would be gained by continuing to let him on the show.

  53. curiosity says

    Speaking about Poes and whatnot: was Mark from Austin of a 2011 fame one or not?

  54. says

    I can also see how the “Lying for Jesus” thing arises – where it doesn’t matter to them what they do to get you to join the Jesus Fan Club, as long as it works.

    That’s where we get an “ends justifies the means” mentality is a lot of religious folk.

    It doesn’t matter why you believe, as long as you believe.

  55. Kazim says

    Yes, Mark was a fake. Most of that sordid story was laid out in this post, and more of it is revealed when Mark himself participates in the comments.

  56. jacobfromlost says

    Someone compiled all of “Mark’s” calls in a single vid (at least all of them I was aware of, and perhaps one I was not aware of). It’s interesting to me as an exercise to try to determine a faker, as we know Mark was one.


    I think there are clear differences between Mark and Dale, not the least of which is that Dale’s voice doesn’t change from call to call (he’s called other atheists and had “debates”, vids which can be tracked down online). The location Dale claims to live has never changed, and matches his accent. Dale has a very, very long set of internet trails that all lead back to him without any attempt to mask himself. And most importantly, Dale’s arguments don’t change. He makes the very same, very lame arguments everywhere.

    The other thing that strikes be about “Mike/Mark” early on is that his responses to the hosts set up a PATTERN of obvious/logical responses from the hosts. In the moment, that isn’t readily noticable, but it is very rare that it happens from someone who is ostensibly a true believer. Usually it is the hosts imposing the logical pattern, but Mike/Mark seemed to be leaving breadcrumbs in one logical direction, even as the crumbs themselves were illogical. It’s not a fail proof method of discovering poes (I think there were one or two other callers who seemed to be believers who had the same pattern, but those callers seemed to me to be more “fence sitters” than true believers–the guy who said it made him “feel good” and didn’t “hurt anyone” comes to mind as an example).

    One thing is for certain: Dale has NEVER had that logical pattern to his responses. His lines of questioning are just as incoherent as everything else–his illogical bread crumbs form no pattern at all.

  57. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    The other thing that strikes be about “Mike/Mark” early on is that his responses to the hosts set up a PATTERN of obvious/logical responses from the hosts.

    I rather liked that. Standard theism tropes illustrated, promptly answered, and apparently acknowledged… instead of one fallacy repeated ad nauseum for an hour.

    The early naively indoctrinated receptive characters strained belief for being nearly non-existent among call-ins, but the exchanges were better education for onlookers.

    Then he started spamming idiocy for idiocy’s sake.

  58. wholething says

    It doesn’t matter why you tithe, it only matters that you continue to do so.

  59. jacobfromlost says

    Compulsory: but the exchanges were better education for onlookers.

    Me: You must be right. Even in the compilation vid, there are plenty of commenters who think he was a believer–despite his number of names, voices, and feigned personalities all juxtaposed in one place.

    I previously suspected this might hurt our argument, in that it might be seen as a deception by believers. But it may be that believers also suspect/assume he is a true believer…which may make these dialogues MORE effective for our side. Who knows? (I will note that the Austin Stone Church basically said “Mark” was crazy and distanced themselves from him.)

  60. Mary2 says

    Oy. Stop blaming Queensland for this clown. Just because our Far North is like the USA’s Deep South . . . other States have people with intellectual disabilities too you know!

  61. Mary2 says

    Agreed. I don’t think the guy was clever enough to have been joking (even though he was very funny!). Just a sandwich short of a picnic.

  62. Miwanpela says

    I’m from Mount Isa…he sounds like the average every day guy on the street from around here to me. Sad but true.

  63. Rich says

    Yeah – some kind of cap on call length has been needed for a *long* time on this show. Seems like the hosts have no f’ing clue how much time has been taken up by some yammering idiot. I mean, seriously – is the Atheist Experience budget that tight, that they can’t afford a digital timer? Sure, it doesn’t have to be hard and fast – if a call is clearly *terrific*, then by all means, stick with it. But it’s hard to recommend this show to people, knowing that with 40% of the episodes, it’s going to be mostly listening to idiots. And then there’s another 15% or so where we have to listen to a 20 to 25-minute long talk by that one guy (Russell?). A long lecture might have a place on a 2-hour show, but on a one-hour-long *call-in* show, it makes no sense. Make a youtube channel for the lectures, and post them there.

  64. says

    Excellent suggestion. Dale was seemingly running off a poorly-designed “How to Challenge an Atheist” type of script and was only half listening (if that) to the points Tracie and Matt were making.