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"There's simply no polite way to tell people they've dedicated their lives to an illusion" Dennet on Religion


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In reply to an earlier post on 10 May 2013 11:40:36 BDT
Bellatori says:
What was missing from my last post was

My apologies...

I wonder how many times I can write crap without being deleted?!

In reply to an earlier post on 10 May 2013 11:56:40 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 15:54:53 BDT
O.Binladen says:
I guess even WDB can one right occasionally.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 17:40:38 BDT
Bellatori says:
You commented on this before having accused me of being part of the forum mafia yet, ironically, it was my post that got deleted!!

Posted on 18 May 2013 20:40:56 BDT
J. McGregor says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 20:54:03 BDT
Norm Deplume says:
" Take for example the news about Angelina Jolie and her breasts being removed because of a 50 percent chance of getting breast cancer. "

The figures I saw were a 50% chance of ovarian cancer and an 87% chance of breast cancer (now reduced to 5%).

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 21:35:04 BDT
Henry James says:
Goodness, McGregor,
what an incoherent and sloppily reasoned post.

First, try breaking your "thoughts" into short paragraphs. It *might* help your attempts at some sort of linear logic.

Angelina was operating on probabilities - more lik3 *87%* given her genetic profile.

If I had an 87% chance of dying by doing/not doing a particular action, I would make the same decision she did. Any rational human would. Would you?

There is NO evidence for a god or any kind. There is loads of evidence that Jolie's genetic profile is correlated with breast cancer.
Illusion? That's the god part.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 21:42:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 May 2013 21:44:57 BDT
TomC says:
How would you like a game of Russian roulette, with 5 chambers loaded and one empty? That shouldn't be a problem for you - after all, the supposed "danger" is only an illusion, until the hammer drops onto a live cartridge.

Being rather vacuous myself, I would prefer not to play. Not because I "believe" I will die, but because I have made a rational assessment of the relative odds of death and survival, as Ms Jolie has done. (Her chances of cancer, incidentally, were actually worse than 5 in 6.)

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 22:31:10 BDT
J. McGregor says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 22:44:10 BDT
J. McGregor says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 23:14:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 May 2013 23:23:29 BDT
TomC says:
Where do you imagine the statistics come from? They are simply a summation of what has already happened to people who had the condition. That is not illusion; it is fact. To argue that 87% of people with a given condition will develop a disease - because they already have - but that an individual can make themselves an exception, by the power of prayer and wishful thinking, is quite simply nonsense.

And thanks for the anecdote; the plural of anecdote is not, however, evidence. People are very fond of trotting out stories of "neighbours", or "friends of friends" who smoked 60 a day and lived until they were ninety. They conveniently forget about the vast majority who died early in an oxygen tent coughing their lungs out.

Incidentally, professional gamblers enjoy playing with people who believe themselves to be mysteriously immune from the odds which govern the outcome of a game for everyone else. You should go to a casino; say your prayers beforehand, of course. You'll meet lots of new friends.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 23:19:30 BDT
Henry James says:
McGregor, my friend,
you are in much worse trouble than I thought from the evidence of your first foray into this discussion.
Your best move, with the highest *probability* of success, is to realize that you know less than nothing about this subject and throw yourself at the mercy of those who have some wisdom in it.
"This subject" being BOTH statistics and The Nature of Belief.

In other words, instead of proposing answers, see if you can frame JUST ONE good question on these subjects.
That would at least be a start.
Love
Henry

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 23:21:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 May 2013 23:22:50 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'J. McGregor says:

Thanks Norm Deplume for the correction on the percentages. So she had her breasts removed and there's still a chance of cancer in the chest area? Let's hope she decides not to have her ribcage removed next! I like Angelina Jolie a lot, great ambassador for UNHCR, but I believe she made the wrong choice because she didn't have enough faith. Yet, it's always ok to exercise faith in genetic and scientific studies because these area have no illusion apparently.'

Faith in what dear boy? I am a Christian, it sounds like you are, but sometimes bad things happen to people, and the opposite is true too, good things happen to people, and this is besides whether they have faith or not. Unpleasant and cruel people sometimes become rich and powerful and sleep soundly in their beds and live to a ripe old age, and decent respectful people are exploited and suffer all kinds of injustices; of such is life.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 23:44:35 BDT
J. McGregor says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2013 23:58:36 BDT
K. Hoyles says:
J.Mc - 'The point was that Angelina Jolie was living under an illusion....'

You've chosen a bad example, considering her mother died young from breast cancer and Jolie has inherited the same rare and faulty gene. She did the right thing in order to prolong her life, and under similar circumstances so would you. 1% of women inherit this gene.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 00:20:16 BDT
Henry James says:
M McG
It has been pointed out to you 5 or 6 times that you are misusing the word "illusion" to describe Ms. Jolie's actions.
She is acting "probalistically," based on verified facts, and she knows it.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 00:27:44 BDT
J. McGregor says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 01:08:16 BDT
J. McGregor says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 09:54:48 BDT
Bellatori says:
Well, J McG.... I would guess that you have a rather weak grasp on the nature of risk. We all make ad hoc assessments of risk all the time based on information that we receive one way or another.

I chose to go out for a walk in spite of the fact that there is a risk (statistical probability) that I will be hit by a meteor/plane detritus/etc... Why did I go if I were at risk. Because my assessment of the risk was that it was sufficiently low to be ignored... of course I could be very unlucky!?

Now consider crossing the A184 and Westgate road from the Japanese restaurant Hanahanah to go to the Science Museum in Newcastle at 15:30 today. The road will be very busy (Newcastle United v Arsenal home game starts at 16:00). If I jay walk there is a high chance that I could be struck by a car crossing the A184 or Westgate road. Whilst I guess most drivers will try and avoid me, should I walk across without looking right or left, I am placing myself at extreme risk. The sensible solution is to walk to the traffic lights at the intersection and wait for the little green man. I might still be a victim of a hit and run or a stupid mistake but the odds (risk) is very much lower.

Do you see the connection to Anjelina Jolie? I hope so. I do not know that I will be killed should I jay walk but knowing the risk why would I want to take the chance? The gene that AJ has is equivalent to jay walking - you might get lucky and get across - but the risk is high that you won't (actually for this example I would guess that jay walking is safer!). For me the safe and sensible alternative is to go to the traffic lights and cross when the pedestrian sign says OK to go. For her the safe option is radical mastectomy.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 10:02:21 BDT
O.Binladen says:
"J. McGregor says:
Tom C, I think that all rational judgements have an element of belief:"

Sigh, evidence please.

FYI denying odds doesn't change the odds or the maths behind them. Every week people defy huge odds to win the lottery, that doesn't change the fact that the odds were 1 in many billions that they would win.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 10:03:14 BDT
O.Binladen says:
Absurd nonsense, faith doesn't cure cancer, medical science does.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 10:05:50 BDT
O.Binladen says:
"J. McGregor says:
No one has pointed out to me yet that I am misusing the word "illusion" except you, Henry James. "

Then let me point it out as well.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 10:21:56 BDT
Drew Jones says:
"No one has pointed out to me yet that I am misusing the word "illusion" except you, Henry James."
I'll go further and point out you are using the common but still false dictomy whereby you asse there is either absolute certainty or blind guesswork. This is a false premise causing problems for all appeals made after it.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 10:49:31 BDT
Pendragon says:
JM

"the full content of my first post has not been fully engaged with" - really?

Your essential point was "There's always some belief of some sort and some of these "other beliefs" are just as vacuous as religious belief". You then proceeded to castigate AJ on the basis that her decision is an example of such an "other belief".

It is not. You have been rightly castigated. No doubt AJ believed the advice she was given. Her belief was based on rationally presented information substantiated by carefully assembled evidence. As already pointed out by others, she then took a (very brave imho) decision based upon her resultant understanding.

So, your example having been comprehensively disposed of, my only remaining comment is: bring on the next example, if you have one, please.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2013 10:54:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 May 2013 10:56:03 BDT
O.Binladen says:
I've learned from past and painful experience to substitute the word belief with the phrase confidence in. As in I don't believe in evolution, I have confidence in the scientific process that validates it, based on the empirical evidence of sciences many successes and the rigorous and robust process it subjects all evidence to. If you use the word belief, the theists leap on it, and use it out of context, sad, but true.
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Discussion in:  religion discussion forum
Participants:  44
Total posts:  415
Initial post:  30 Apr 2013
Latest post:  28 May 2013

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