Like Button

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Have You Been Brainwashed?

By Dan

Boy: Yea, I see your point; I just haven't seen anything compelling enough to make me believe that there was once nothing and now, after millions of years of evolving, we have ... me.

Girl: Well how else could we have gotten here?

Boy: We were created by God, of course.

Girl: Yea, I thought you'd say that. You're probably hopeless because you've obviously been brainwashed.

Boy: I don't see how I've been brainwashed. Would a person know it if he's brainwashed?

Girl: No, I wouldn't think so.

Boy: Well then how do you know you're not brainwashed?

Girl: Oh, I know I'm not brainwashed. I see things the same way everyone else does.

Boy: What difference does that make? Here, I'll tell you what; I know how we can solve this.

Girl: How?

Boy: You tell me what the non-brainwashed position on everything is, then we can see how that compares with our own viewpoints. Think you can do that?

Girl: Oh, that's easy. The non-brainwashed position is everything I think is true ... today.


Anonymous said...

It’s always a pleasure to come to Stan’s blog site because the writing quality is so much higher here than at a lot of other places. Check out the rotten grammar and spelling in the comments at YouTube for an example of what I am talking about. Stan and Dan and the other regulars here likely could earn a living with their writing.

Dan, if you have time would you comment briefly on any or all of the items below? I am NOT planning on coming back here and challenging you on anything you have to say. I am merely interested in seeing how a particular Christian (you) separates fact from fiction.


alien abductions and flying saucers

9-11 conspiracy theories (“High explosives were placed in the towers prior to September 11,” etc.)

JFK assassination conspiracy theories (“The CIA carried it out,” etc.)

telekinesis (spoon bending, etc.)


ghosts and poltergeists





levitation (willing one’s body to hover above the ground)

crop circles

abiotic oil

Perhaps you could even assign a percentage chance that any particular one of the above is valid. (In my list I am deliberately avoiding beliefs that are overtly religious, such as reincarnation and Joseph Smith’s magic spectacles.)

Some of the reddest heat I have felt from Stan's keyboard came when I suggested the God of the Bible does not talk directly to modern believers. He most certainly does, Stan insisted. Do you agree, Dan? And does that phenomenon very frequently give you the confidence to say that your thoughts on things such as evolution HAVE TO BE correct? “I got it straight from God’s lips, so don’t tell me it’s wrong.”

Stan said...

You asked Dan, and I'm hoping he'll answer. To me, you've essentially demonstrated his post by suggesting "If you don't agree with my worldview, you're obviously (in the terms of the post) brainwashed. People that believe the stuff I don't believe are brainwashed." The suggestion of the question is "People can believe all sorts of unsupported, silly things. What makes you any different?" Oddly, the suggestion that you might be doing the same thing (the point of the post) isn't something you ask yourself.

My basic approach to determining what is true is the following simplified considerations:
1. Internal coherence: Is the concept internally coherent? Does it contradict itself? Does it make sense on its own?
2. External correspondence: Does the concept fit the facts? Does it explain what it claims to explain?
3. Functional adequacy: Does it "work"? Does it do what it claims to do, achieve what it aims to achieve? Does it work in real life? Does it play in Peoria?

Christianity in general and the Bible in particular all meet those tests. Your list doesn't fare quite so well. (I don't even know what some of those things are.)

Dan said...

Ahhh, an epistemological question to an epistemolgical post.

Well, regarding conspiracies I did write on that here:

And, to level the playing field, so to speak, I wrote this some time back:

Other than that, let me say that I've also engaged in this sort of thing because I think that asking questions is one of the best ways to get one to think about the folly of one's own thinking, if, that is, one desires to give honest answers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the two links, Dan. I have now had time to read them. I see we are in agreement that 9-11 was not an “inside job”. A former coworker of mine insisted that President W. Bush took part in planning the attack. Of course, she also said that he was going to fly to family-owned land in South America on the last day of his second term to avoid war-crimes prosecution.

Stan’s three-step plan for separating fact from fiction sounds like good advice for us all to follow.

I came across a discussion on the Net, started by someone who used to think that evolution happens, but then converted to Islam and now rejects evolution. “Evolution far from creating clarity, thrives on misrepresentation,” he says.

One response he got from someone (not me) reads, in part, “Don't you find it at all troubling that you just so happened to adopt the religion of the culture you were born into? I mean, there have been thousands of religions throughout history. You seem oddly convinced that by sheer coincidence, the true faith just happened to be the one whose rituals made you feel better during puberty. Had you been born in a tribe of New Guinea, you would have been introduced to a completely different set of traditions, all designed to provide comfort in times of frustration and bewilderment. In ancient times, a temple to Baal might have given you the inspiration to abandon critical thinking and embrace the warrior's path. Instead, you have taken your narrow, dimly understood conception of evolution from your teenage years and applied it to the whole mystery of reality.”

I copied/pasted that here for whatever it may be worth to you, Dan.

Also of note is something Stan wrote a couple of days ago. He says he doesn't know anybody who thinks that God does not let evolution happen. Dan, are you included in Stan's "anybody"?

Stan said...

Since you've included the comment about adopting the religion of the culture you were born in, I can only imagine that you are unaware of how nonsensical that is. Just examining the history of Christianity, it started out of Judaism without having "a culture", engulfed the Caesar worship of Rome, spread through Europe, Asia, and Africa, transplanted to the Americas ... well, it's worldwide.

Then there are the large numbers of people who reject the religion of their own culture. That's a problem for the "religion from culture" theory.

Conversely, if there actually is a true religion and if a particular culture embraces it, embracing the religion of your culture would then be embracing the true religion, wouldn't it? In other words, "Is it true?" is the important question, not "Is it from my culture?"

Are you sure you'd like to stick with the "culture" concept?

Dan said...

Mr. Anonymous, if I may I'd like to ask you a question. Why did you leave atheism off of your "fact vs. fiction" list?

Anonymous said...

Just now saw Dan's question. "Why did you leave atheism off of your 'fact vs. fiction' list?"

I was trying to see how a Christian processes NON-religious ideas.

Also, for the record, I am technically not an atheist. I call myself "agnostic" or a "skeptic."

Mike said...

Although I do not know the intent of Mr. Anonymous' question, I do like to question some times Can I think through different lenses? Can I still make a rational argument in my brain for or against things other than religion such as space exploration, dinosaurs, and animal adaptation? This is at least my assumption of what he was asking Dan to do.

However, it is clear to me now that any and everything that we think and do goes through the worldview that we take to.

While going through MOST of anonymous' list he uses things that are generally already tied to a worldview. Or at least that can be interpreted different ways when looking through any worldview (even non religious).

Acupuncture - Traditional Chinese Medicine
Astrology - Religious in nature Chinese, Indians, Mayans etc.
Levitating (Non Scientific), Poltergeist (Non Religious), and telekinesis - Human Perspectives or no proven facts.

Most of these examples already use a worldview to view them be it religion, tradition, true belief in something, etc.

My point here is that it doesn't matter the topic (religious in nature or not) we will still be using our worldview or "lenses" to make an argument about that topic. You cannot separate a worldview from a person although it may change in their lifetime.

Stan said...

Ah, the magic of worldviews, eh? Most people have them. Most rarely consider them.