[FoRK] Virtuoso believers

Jeff Bone < jbone at place.org > on > Mon Dec 4 12:18:15 PST 2006

As this thread unwound over the last week or so, I found myself  
flipping through the dog-eared pages of various books, most notably  
several by Dawkins.  I came across a term of his that struck a  
chord:  "virtuoso believers" --- i.e., those with an advanced  
capacity to believe things despite lack of evidence or even  

Some of you may recall my own run-in earlier this year with a  
"virtuoso believer" --- an ex-employee, now a psychotic serial cyber- 
stalker infected with the worst possible melange of bizarre sci-fi  
religious memes --- I mean, really, beyond imagining.  (And I've  
never been known to have a deficit of imagination, so that's saying  
something. ;-)  That experience was, hands-down, the scariest thing  
I've ever personally and directly experienced, and it underscored for  
me in a very, very significant way just HOW pathogenic religious  
memes can be, just how quickly they act to subvert reason and ruin  
human life for their hosts, and just how dangerous they can make  
their human hosts towards other humans.

That scary experience changed me forever, changed the way I see the  
world, and in particular changed the way I see religion and its  
threats, both globally and personally.  It was the final phase  
transition for me from a childhood of lukewarm but still traumatic  
Christianity to evangelistic anti-theist.  I'd been by default a  
mostly-quiet, sometimes-deferential, possibly slightly embarrassed  
atheist for the last decade or so --- but that was it, game over, no  
more tacit acceptance of ANY of that nonsense from me.  Between that,  
the Islamists, and the American Taliban --- I've had enough.

When you stop insisting on reason --- when you take that leap of  
faith --- it's an open door to all sorts of bizarre stuff.  Bizarre,  
not-good, infectious stuff.  I've seen it transform a talented if  
lazy engineer whose UI design talents I respected into a raving,  
dangerous lunatic in just a few short years.

It reminds me of that old joke:  "Ordinarily, I'd never share a  
needle with a hemophiliac prostitute...  but then I thought, when's  
the next time I'm going to be in Haiti?"

Practice safe thinking.  Just say no to faith.



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