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Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe

 
PACNWguy
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Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Smart People Believe Weird Things

Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe

By Michael Shermer

In April 1999, when I was on a lecture tour for my book Why People Believe Weird Things, the psychologist Robert Sternberg attended my presentation at Yale University. His response to the lecture was both enlightening and troubling. It is certainly entertaining to hear about other people's weird beliefs, Sternberg reflected, because we are confident that we would never be so foolish. But why do smart people fall for such things? Sternberg's challenge led to a second edition of my book, with a new chapter expounding on my answer to his question: Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.

Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not.

This phenomenon, called the confirmation bias, helps to explain the findings published in the National Science Foundation's biennial report (April 2002) on the state of science understanding: 30 percent of adult Americans believe that UFOs are space vehicles from other civilizations; 60 percent believe in ESP; 40 percent think that astrology is scientific; 32 percent believe in lucky numbers; 70 percent accept magnetic therapy as scientific; and 88 percent accept alternative medicine.

Education by itself is no paranormal prophylactic. Although belief in ESP decreased from 65 percent among high school graduates to 60 percent among college graduates, and belief in magnetic therapy dropped from 71 percent among high school graduates to 55 percent among college graduates, that still leaves more than half fully endorsing such claims! And for embracing alternative medicine, the percentages actually increase, from 89 percent for high school grads to 92 percent for college grads.

We can glean a deeper cause of this problem in another statistic: 70 percent of Americans still do not understand the scientific process, defined in the study as comprehending probability, the experimental method and hypothesis testing. One solution is more and better science education, as indicated by the fact that 53 percent of Americans with a high level of science education (nine or more high school and college science/math courses) understand the scientific process, compared with 38 percent of those with a middle-level science education (six to eight such courses) and 17 percent with a low level (five or fewer courses).

The key here is teaching how science works, not just what science has discovered. We recently published an article in Skeptic (Vol. 9, No. 3) revealing the results of a study that found no correlation between science knowledge (facts about the world) and paranormal beliefs. The authors, W. Richard Walker, Steven J. Hoekstra and Rodney J. Vogl, concluded: "Students that scored well on these [science knowledge] tests were no more or less skeptical of pseudoscientific claims than students that scored very poorly. Apparently, the students were not able to apply their scientific knowledge to evaluate these pseudoscientific claims. We suggest that this inability stems in part from the way that science is traditionally presented to students: Students are taught what to think but not how to think."

To attenuate these paranormal belief statistics, we need to teach that science is not a database of unconnected factoids but a set of methods designed to describe and interpret phenomena, past or present, aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation.

For those lacking a fundamental comprehension of how science works, the siren song of pseudoscience becomes too alluring to resist, no matter how smart you are.



-------------------------------------------------------------​-------------------
Michael Shermer is publisher of Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com) and author of In Darwin's Shadow and Why People Believe Weird Things, just reissued.
OBAMA - THE FASTEST FAILED PRESIDENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY

"I inherated and I am Great!"
great fan
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02/13/2007 08:11 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
hey pacnw,

can't we assume most glp posters are college educated, have some training in scientific method, use the board appropriately and research the leads they might find, overlook the crap, and just appreciate the free format?

i am big fan of skeptic society, secular humanism, scientific method, etc. that doesn't stop me from getting leads at glp.

are you really in pacnw? i used to live there and miss it much.
PACNWguy (OP)

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02/13/2007 08:13 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
hey pacnw,

can't we assume most glp posters are college educated, have some training in scientific method, use the board appropriately and research the leads they might find, overlook the crap, and just appreciate the free format?

i am big fan of skeptic society, secular humanism, scientific method, etc. that doesn't stop me from getting leads at glp.

are you really in pacnw? i used to live there and miss it much.
 Quoting: great fan 146563



Yep,,Oregon.

College Educated? Few,,,,very few. Many here dont even have GEDs.
OBAMA - THE FASTEST FAILED PRESIDENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY

"I inherated and I am Great!"
Daniel

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02/13/2007 08:13 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
The smiley below says it ALL!!!

Besides I let GLPers Decide.

Daniel


cure
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:14 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
While we're on the subject....

After a careful examination of all the facts, having weighed those facts, both pro and con, and after having choosen the most logical and rational explanation......

What is your position on the existance, or non-existance, of the Jewish "god", and what is your view on Jewish claims that this "god" somehow "chose" these people as his very own, and then decided to grant them lawful title over vast swaths of land in the Middle East?

Let's review your best fact based argument on this matter, for our mutual education and enlightenment.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:14 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
The name's PACMAN and don't forget it
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:15 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Kinda like the OP, who only cuts, pastes, and insults anyone that doesn't argee with the cut and pasted stuff..
PACNWguy (OP)

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02/13/2007 08:16 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
This article explains why there are so many educated liberals. What they believe is bankrupt and illogical with no merit whatsoever but still they endorse their
cause.

:liberals:
OBAMA - THE FASTEST FAILED PRESIDENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY

"I inherated and I am Great!"
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:20 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Flowers
It almost goes without saying that a well-placed bouquet or profusion of roses does the Valentine's Day trick. Never underestimate the power of flowers.
icey ice
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02/13/2007 08:23 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Pacman,

enjoy a thought experiment which may lead to cognitive dissonance:

apply a mirror to your intended target so that you may cast you and "your kind" in this light.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:24 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
While we're on the subject....

After a careful examination of all the facts, having weighed those facts, both pro and con, and after having choosen the most logical and rational explanation......

What is your position on the existance, or non-existance, of the Jewish "god", and what is your view on Jewish claims that this "god" somehow "chose" these people as his very own, and then decided to grant them lawful title over vast swaths of land in the Middle East?

Let's review your best fact based argument on this matter, for our mutual education and enlightenment.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 124911


Why does the Christian god speak to Pat Robertson and George Bush, yet all the Muslims hear Allah? Why doesn't Allah talk to Pat Robertson, when he clearly needs it? Why do almost all religions claim that said religion is proven (via personal experience or science) and all others are false? Critical thinking shows that people know much less than they think they know.
Faaip de oaid

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02/13/2007 08:27 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
I've learned not to believe 'wierd' things or concepts that most have a hard time grasping. As for subjects that do not have a foundation for understanding or a way to prove it is fact one must weigh and consider from different perspectives while using one's inate critical thinking skills. Belief is theories whereas understanding is supreme formless light.

FACT: truth is often stranger than fiction
think for yourself, question authority.. - Dr. Timothy Leary ... Life!.. it's just a ride! - Bill Hicks
The possession of anything begins in the mind - Bruce Lee

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.... - ALBERT EINSTEIN
~ * ~
opposing zealousness at roots ultimately suffer
Though our 'creators'(..'in our image' - Genesis) may have given us life. Bighting the hand that feeds you has never been such a wise phrase.
[link to www.godlikeproductions.com]
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:34 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
While we're on the subject....

After a careful examination of all the facts, having weighed those facts, both pro and con, and after having choosen the most logical and rational explanation......

What is your position on the existance, or non-existance, of the Jewish "god", and what is your view on Jewish claims that this "god" somehow "chose" these people as his very own, and then decided to grant them lawful title over vast swaths of land in the Middle East?

Let's review your best fact based argument on this matter, for our mutual education and enlightenment.


Why does the Christian god speak to Pat Robertson and George Bush, yet all the Muslims hear Allah? Why doesn't Allah talk to Pat Robertson, when he clearly needs it? Why do almost all religions claim that said religion is proven (via personal experience or science) and all others are false? Critical thinking shows that people know much less than they think they know.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 170275


Why don't you try to use some fact based logic, and rationally answer the question I posed about the Jewish "god" first, and then we can use your rationally developed arguments to explore these other issues?

After all, we're here to learn.

Help us do that.
SpectrumBlue

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02/13/2007 08:34 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
College Educated? Few,,,,very few. Many here dont even have GEDs.
 Quoting: PACNWguy


Aw, I'm college educated. I majored in philosophy and art. Probably explains what I'm doing here.
Dreams will begin as they fade into chaos.
ac
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02/13/2007 08:37 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
I see you have some kind of distorted image of liberal minded people. Having said that, if you get your so called facts from the mainstream media you are a sheep. Listenting to any side of the isle is a grave mistake.IMO
Why don't you try being an American before you pick which side of the isle you want to align with? Maybe you will find the rhetoric doesn't match the deeds.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:39 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
PACNWguy,
All it takes is the erosion of one belief to begin the erosion of all the established beliefs that have been forced upon us from the time we were born. You begin to question everything you're told is fact.

My own experience: I spent many years with horrendous headaches. I put them down to stress, as I was an energetic and ambitious workaholic. Eventually, I went to a doctor (general practice) who sent me to an eye doctor, who sent me to some other specialist, who sent me to yet another specialist. I eventually ended up at a cancer specialist who told me that I have tumors growing behind my eyes and that they were the cause of my headaches. He went on to tell me that I had several options for treatment. They could laser the tumors out, cut them out, or I could undergo chemo/radiation therapy. Laser and radiation would almost certainly blind me, and there was a good chance that chemo and surgery would as well. If I didn't opt for removal, he said, the tumors themselves would blind me in a matter of 6-9 months.

That was not acceptable. I researched on the internet (lotsa woo-woo places out there), found leads here at GLP for other places. I started several regimines of alternative therapy. Some didn't appear to do anything. But I eventually found something that worked... I don't know if it's a combination of things I'm now doing, or simply a placebo effect kind of thing... and I don't really care. I no longer have the headaches, my eyesight has stabilized at 20/30R, 20/40L and arthritis I had in my hip since a car accident when I was 17 no longer troubles me.

It has been almost 2 years since that doctor told me I only had 6-9 months of sight left.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:39 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
This article explains why there are so many educated liberals. What they believe is bankrupt and illogical with no merit whatsoever but still they endorse their
cause.

:liberals:
 Quoting: PACNWguy

Admit it PRATTguy. You were braindamaged in the war. Its not your fault...or maybe it is?
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:41 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Pacman,

enjoy a thought experiment which may lead to cognitive dissonance:

apply a mirror to your intended target so that you may cast you and "your kind" in this light.
 Quoting: icey ice 170446

That is far too difficult a concept for him to grasp. Might as well as a chimp to write Shakespeare plays!
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:43 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
College Educated? Few,,,,very few. Many here dont even have GEDs.


Aw, I'm college educated. I majored in philosophy and art. Probably explains what I'm doing here.
 Quoting: SpectrumBlue

Excellent! I majored in Philosophy and Psychology.
tonggrv

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02/13/2007 08:43 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
This crazyness started in 1999 when the Demoratz knew Gore couldn't be elected...
They ran the ABB bottons (anybody but Bush)...
They grasped at straws .. Drunk driver--hell even I thought it was current till....

They knew a Republican would take us into the war that Clinton was afraid of...
Thats why The Clinton Gang hid info and had S Burglar later steal doc'ts...

The Republicans Had balls and Clinton was too busy gettin his licked...


So now its "Get on the M Mooron" bandwagon and "no blood for oil", "peace at any cost" Nutz....
The search for conspiracy only increases the elements of morbidity and paranoia and fantasy in this country. It romanticizes crimes that are terrible because of their lack of purpose. It obscures our necessary understanding, all of us, that in this life there is often tragedy without reason....
Anthony Lewis
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02/13/2007 08:44 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
While we're on the subject....

After a careful examination of all the facts, having weighed those facts, both pro and con, and after having choosen the most logical and rational explanation......

What is your position on the existance, or non-existance, of the Jewish "god", and what is your view on Jewish claims that this "god" somehow "chose" these people as his very own, and then decided to grant them lawful title over vast swaths of land in the Middle East?

Let's review your best fact based argument on this matter, for our mutual education and enlightenment.


Why does the Christian god speak to Pat Robertson and George Bush, yet all the Muslims hear Allah? Why doesn't Allah talk to Pat Robertson, when he clearly needs it? Why do almost all religions claim that said religion is proven (via personal experience or science) and all others are false? Critical thinking shows that people know much less than they think they know.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 170275

Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in one God...the Creator. There is only one God and he is known by many names. The Arabic word Allah is the most common divine
name in the Islamic scriptures and has unique sanctity
not just for Muslims but also for Arabic-speaking
Jews and Christians, who have used “Allah” for
God from time immemorial. For Muslims, Allah is
the most inclusive of God’s names, embracing all
his other names and attributes. In accordance with
conventional Arabic usage, Allah can be applied only
to the Creator and cannot be assigned to any other
being, angelic, human, animate or inanimate, real or
imaginary.

[link to www.nawawi.org]
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:46 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
College Educated? Few,,,,very few. Many here dont even have GEDs.


Aw, I'm college educated. I majored in philosophy and art. Probably explains what I'm doing here.

Excellent! I majored in Philosophy and Psychology.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 195306

Math and History :Shrugs:
SpectrumBlue

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02/13/2007 08:48 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
College Educated? Few,,,,very few. Many here dont even have GEDs.


Aw, I'm college educated. I majored in philosophy and art. Probably explains what I'm doing here.

Excellent! I majored in Philosophy and Psychology.

Math and History :Shrugs:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 159943


I'm wonderful with history but terrible in math . . . . . >.<
Dreams will begin as they fade into chaos.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 08:51 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
College Educated? Few,,,,very few. Many here dont even have GEDs.


Aw, I'm college educated. I majored in philosophy and art. Probably explains what I'm doing here.

Excellent! I majored in Philosophy and Psychology.

Math and History :Shrugs:


I'm wonderful with history but terrible in math . . . . . >.<
 Quoting: SpectrumBlue

I like em both. Math is whole lot more fun when you get rid of the numbers. History is the same.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 09:00 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Its non of your business what I choose to believe.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 09:00 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in one God...the Creator. There is only one God and he is known by many names. The Arabic word Allah is the most common divine
name in the Islamic scriptures and has unique sanctity
not just for Muslims but also for Arabic-speaking
Jews and Christians, who have used “Allah” for
God from time immemorial. For Muslims, Allah is
the most inclusive of God’s names, embracing all
his other names and attributes. In accordance with
conventional Arabic usage, Allah can be applied only
to the Creator and cannot be assigned to any other
being, angelic, human, animate or inanimate, real or
imaginary.

[link to www.nawawi.org]
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 181620


The original discussion was about fact based rationality.

So let's see some of that.

Not this cut and paste cosmic crappolla.

What is the fact based, rational explanation for the existance, or nonexistance, of the so-called jewish "god", and the jewish claims that this alleged "god" granted them title to vast areas of land in the Middle East?

Lets see some facts, and some rational argument in support of your apparent belief.

Not this worthless cut and paste bullshit.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 09:03 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
drevil

why are you all entertaining this fucktard?


you know hes only here to waste your time and tell you red is green


weirdo
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 09:12 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in one God...the Creator. There is only one God and he is known by many names. The Arabic word Allah is the most common divine
name in the Islamic scriptures and has unique sanctity
not just for Muslims but also for Arabic-speaking
Jews and Christians, who have used “Allah” for
God from time immemorial. For Muslims, Allah is
the most inclusive of God’s names, embracing all
his other names and attributes. In accordance with
conventional Arabic usage, Allah can be applied only
to the Creator and cannot be assigned to any other
being, angelic, human, animate or inanimate, real or
imaginary.

[link to www.nawawi.org]


The original discussion was about fact based rationality.

So let's see some of that.

Not this cut and paste cosmic crappolla.

What is the fact based, rational explanation for the existance, or nonexistance, of the so-called jewish "god", and the jewish claims that this alleged "god" granted them title to vast areas of land in the Middle East?

Lets see some facts, and some rational argument in support of your apparent belief.

Not this worthless cut and paste bullshit.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 124911

First you have to phrase your question correctly. As I said before, Jews believe in God not "god" or "Jewish god".
I don't think anyone should "prove" that God exists. Either you are a believer or a non-believer.
for PACNW
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02/13/2007 09:13 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
A lot of people have posted since you responded to me. I do think you might be understimating the people on the board, in terms of general education. I think it might be above average on this board.

Oregon, eh? That is exactly where I want to know more about. Am considering U of O for my son. What part of the state are you in? Is there a way we can talk about Oregon without the whole boarding being bored? I am not technologically experienced...

Whatever part of Oregon your in, have you checked out the Universalist Church as a very good format for scientific, secular debate?

l
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 09:14 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
drevil

why are you all entertaining this fucktard?


you know hes only here to waste your time and tell you red is green


weirdo
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 194963


We're just going well out of our way to give him the benefit of the doubt, that's all.

Some of us actually thought that he and his supporters might actually take the time to read and understand the garbage they post before they post it.

Obviously, this is not the case.
Anonymous Coward
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02/13/2007 09:16 PM
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Re: Why GLPers believe weird things - Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
believe weird things? Look in the mirror, peanut brain OP.

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