When Your Brain Ruins Your Social Life May 20, 2009

When Your Brain Ruins Your Social Life

I hate it when my brain cockblocks the rest of me.

I meet someone really interesting. Then she does something I’m sure normal people never care about (e.g. misspelling an easy word), and my brain tells me never to have children with them. My brain and I are currently in battle over picky things like this.

Anyway, Debbie experienced something similar when she met a couple new friends at a social gathering. The three women were all talking and one of them mentioned that she didn’t like how religions forced some crazy ideas onto people.

Aha! Another person who wasn’t religious!? Sounded like someone Debbie would click with.

Then, the other women began talking about astrology and how accurate it was…

That’s when Debbie’s brain kicked in:

Girl 1: “…I really miss being in a relationship with Eric. But I’m much more outspoken than he is.”
Host: “That’s because you’re an Aquarius. Both of you (gestures to pair) are Aquariuses.”
(Brain: …Uh oh.)
Girl 2: “Heh, yeah. And he was what, a Sagittarius? Yep, that’s usually trouble.”
Girl 1: “You’re right, I don’t usually get along with them. But our moon signs were compatible, so I thought it might work out. What’s your moon sign?”
Girl 2: “Scorpio, but I’m an Aries mask.”
Girl 1: “That totally makes sense. My moon sign is Gemini, which is really true!”
(Brain: Whaaa…?)
(Me: Shush, Brain. Stop making my face look skeptical! Neutral face, neutral face.)
Girls 1 and 2 turn to me: “What about you?”
(Brain: Tell them you think it’s bunk!)
(Me: Quiet! I’m trying to be social here!)

Oy. That’s frustrating. (One day, I’ll tell you all about my date with a woman who told me over dinner that she was a professional psychic. That was an interesting last date.)

Anyway, has that ever happened to any of you? You try to be social with other people when, all of a sudden, they say something completely irrational… and you have an internal debate over whether to smile and nod or offer a polite rebuttal that could sour the relationship.

(via Center for Inquiry)

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  • Dallas

    I had a one-date wonder with a guy who, after he picked me up, told me he wasn’t going to turn on his car air conditioner. Why? Becuase with air conditioning, “you don’t get to experience the seasons.” But it was July. In Texas! Where it can still be in the 90s at 10 p.m.

    Never again.

  • Something very similar happened to me last week at a social gathering. Unfortunately, after a couple cocktails, I’m way too inclined to actually say what I think. lol.

  • I could care less what irrational stuff people believe as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

  • Somero

    I’m surprised at how many people I’ve met(mostly in high school) that were unaware that there are more than 30 or so countries in the world.

  • Eliza

    A longstanding pet peeve of mine is when people use “girl” to refer to grown women instead of restricting its use to juvenile female humans.

    Hemant – you stop using “girl”, and I promise I’ll stop pretending to be psychic on dates with atheists 😉

  • Eric

    I’m actually less likely to make those comments after a couple cocktails, strangely enough… I’m more focused on having fun and less on the whole being rational thing.

    But seriously… this happens to me all the time. All the freaking time.

  • Jascha

    Random people I can usually ignore (though I, too, set the “breed” flag to “=false”). The one that kills me is when family members do it. Everything will be fine, then out of the blue…BAM. Truck load of woo dumps on the table and I’m forced to either ignore it, or try and educate and deal with all of that drama.

  • I know EXACTLY what you mean. I’m going into the medical field and in my class of about 14, about half of the students (who are mostly in their 20s-40s) hold certain prejudices (and religious beliefs) that they can’t seem to leave out of the classroom during lessons.
    Upon hearing one young woman ask about handling an HIV/AIDS patient in relation to the transmission of the disease by sweat, it took everything I had not to call her out of her name.
    When other people voice prejudicial opinions about patients with HIV/AIDS and their demographics, it takes every ounce of diplomacy in me to TRY telling them what the deal is factually, and without throwing in how assinine their comment was.

    In terms of religious beliefs, when someone starts mentioning how religious they are, while simultaneously holding on to other superstitions, all I can do is look away and stick by head in my book, or look at the other infidel in class to see if he just heard what I thought I heard.

    Not being able to abandon reason and logic in social situations can be a real pain in the ass sometimes.

  • David D.G.

    (One day, I’ll tell you all about my date with a woman who told me over dinner that she was a professional psychic. That was an interesting last date.)

    I met a young lady through OkCupid who seemed to have a lot in common with me and lived nearby, and she promptly asked to meet me. When we met, we weren’t 15 minutes into the date before she mentioned that she did Reiki for a living in addition to regular massage therapy.

    My brain kicked in before I had a chance to shut it up. I tried to point out that the claims of such woo went against all known knowledge of physics, and her response was to accuse me of being “intolerant.” The evening couldn’t end fast enough.

    Anyway, has that ever happened to any of you? You try to be social with other people when, all of a sudden, they say something completely irrational… and you have an internal debate over whether to smile and nod or offer a polite rebuttal that could sour the relationship.

    At a social gathering at a friend’s small apartment, one of his other friends (whom I had never met before) made some sort of crack against evolutionary theory; I forget the wording, but it was something to the effect that Darwin was an idiot and so were his “followers.”

    Since the comment was quickly swallowed up in the general hubbub of conversation (with nobody responding to her remark either positively or negatively), I decided to say nothing on the subject, for fear of igniting an argument at my friend’s party. But it was excruciatingly hard to keep silent, and I’m still not altogether sure I did the right thing.

    ~David D.G.

  • Sarah TX.

    I feel the exact same way when people start talking about the mechanical details of their diet. I know it’s fascinating to some people but to me it’s a complete bore and 95% of the time based on fantasy data published in Men’s Fitness or the like.

    When they start comparing diets… that’s the point I start to consider social suicide.

  • I’m actually really diplomatic about it. I’ve never had trouble expressing my disagreement with someone and explaining [insert subject they’re mistaken about] to them while not offending them. Plus, if I get along well with the person in general, and their irrational beliefs aren’t actually hurting anyone, they can wear a tin hat for all I care.

  • Hemant – you stop using “girl”, and I promise I’ll stop pretending to be psychic on dates with atheists 😉

    I used it? Where did I use it?!

  • Zar

    Ohhh yes. I’ve met some lovely people (not in a romantic setting) who have turned out to be creationists. It makes me sad.

  • Reckless

    My boyfriend of four years is very into New Age stuff and eastern medicine. I think it’s bunk, and it’s a little odd since he’s otherwise an extremely rational, down-to-earth person, but it’s harmless (and it means he gives great back massages!), so I don’t really have a problem with it. I mean, he puts up with a lot of my highly irrational behavior (I have obsessive compulsive disorder) – sometimes it’s better to view these things as quirks rather than flaws. Some people do and say stupid things, but aren’t necessarily stupid because of it. Although, I confess, I have a higher tolerance for irrational things like astrology or a fear of Friday the 13th than I do for the irrationality of, say, believing a floating glowing jewish zombie is going to save your soul.

  • I was this close to going out with a woman I work with until I found out she’s into astrology, homeopathy, naturopathy, and a wide variety of other woo. I tried explaining the whole “homeopathy is just magic water” and “astrology doesn’t make sense since we’ve discovered more celestial bodies” things to her, but she just replies with “I still think there’s something to it.”


  • Arlo

    Yup, run into this all the time and it drives me absolutely crazy.

    Most of the time I just keep quiet for a variety of reasons like having to spend the rest of the evening with the group of people, being vastly outnumbered, knowing that I’ll quickly get dismissed. Usually if it’s people I don’t know very well. People I usually consider real friends are usually grounded enough to discuss these things without getting emotional or taking it personal though. Those are the conversations I find worth it.

    Recently a person I knew in highschool posted a video about Carrey and McCarthy going on about vaccinations and that it was “interesting”. I quickly posted a more reasoned, referenced response, which generated other responses, but he quickly wanted to squash all conversation. Same thing happened when he posted a 9/11 conspiracy video. He wanted to hang onto his beliefs so strongly from an emotional point of view that he wouldn’t even listen to alternate point of view. He even went so far as to tell the rest of us that he wasn’t going to publish any more links like this because he felt that we were laughing at him (we were not).

    Emotion overriding reason. It’ll getcha every time.

  • kirk

    I used to work with a guy. One day, totally out of the blue he says “The one thing you can’t deny is Christ’s resurrection”.

    From that day forward, I never took him seriously, regardless of the topic.

    That might be a little harsh, but I really don’t see any way I could have a good relationship with someone who believed that.

  • Cypress Green

    Years ago, before I had pagan friends, I answered the door to a gal selling magazines. I had on silver and crystal earrings. In the middle of the conersation she suddenly says, “Did you know those earrings are grounding you?” I gave her a really blank look…what was grounding?! I asked,”Is that good?” She said yes and that was the end of it.

    At work, many moons ago I was a tech aide in the machine room where we set up for people’s radiation treatments. The lead tech would make snide comments about the lung cancer patients, that they smoked and now we had to help them. Some compassion.

    But the worst was a day we had a patient with Kaposi’s sarcoma. Most of those patients are guys with AIDS; their lowered immunity and the way it’s passed make them very prone to it. So she was barely civil to him and when I asked what was wrong she said that gays were immoral and disgusting and if they got the cancer they had it coming.

    I just stood there with my mouth hanging open.

  • medussa

    Yes, this happens to me ALL the time. In fact, I was raised with this bunk.

    My mother was into every feminist version of every superstition, whatever was the fad at the time (Mother Goddess, Essential Essences, Auras, Divining, Witchcraft, Laying on of Hands, etc), and when I finally escaped that, I joined the Fire Department, which to this day is Catholic dominated, and superstitious as hell. I’ve been sent from the table for “jinxing” us, Friday the 13th or a Full Moon means we’re going to get our asses handed to us, and of course Darwinism is suspiciously unchristian. I’ve even dealt with creationist Paramedics, which utterly mystifies me, who claim they follow the protocols only because it’s the law, but really it’s god who decided whether you live or die.

    You’d think that after all this experience, I’d have learned how to handle the situation with some diplomacy, instead I have just gotten a reputation of being a bit volatile, as I hold it in as long as I can and then – let loose and rant, and rant hard.

  • Alan E.

    I went on a date with a Pagan (not sure what kind) once. It was a breath of fresh air at first, until I listened to the practices and beliefs and determined that they were just as bunk as christianity. But that’s not my real story…

    I went through Massage Therapy school. Most of it was scientific. I enjoyed the detailed study of anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology. There were real, testable results when muscles are palpated. What was a big struggle was when we would study alternatives “healing” too. Where the struggle lies is whether I would want to learn the “techniques” to be able to perform those tasks if asked (read: more money), or do I stick to my own beliefs and not even pretend that it works.

    Too bad I am studying to go into Sports Therapy now. Sports is perhaps the one area where players’ superstitions could do battle with those of any mega church. At least in this field I can stick to my guns and have proven results.

  • Alan E.

    Medussa, I love the part about the paramedics. It’s too bad that people won’t give themselves credit for their own skills, even when they see and use them every day.

  • New agers are often quite anti-religious. If you’ve ever seen What the Bleep!?, a movie that promotes quantum mysticism, you’d know that they have a section of the movie where they just start criticizing religion. Not particularly good criticism, mind you. It was mostly a bunch of authority figures stating opinions without much support.

    I tend to avoid being confrontational. It’s not because I think confrontation will be ineffective. It’s more because I just don’t like being confrontational. I wouldn’t be particularly good at it anyway.

    However, when it comes to astrology, I have to say something. My canned response is, “Is that before or after you adjust for precession?” If they ask what I mean, I start explaining how the precession of the earth has caused the astrological signs to occur at different times of year than is normally claimed. Also, we have a new astrological sign called Ophiuchus. I get to explain science while subtly and non-confrontationally advancing critical thinking. And they get to learn something new and interesting. Everyone wins.

  • Jonathan Simmons

    I don’t have much of an internal debate anymore, but I’m familiar with the experience. I don’t experience sadness, but relief when I find out that the interesting person I’m talking to is not so interesting. It saves me time. I instantly move them into an appropriate category and move on. I do it politely, not because I’m particularly nice, but because I don’t have the time or the inclination to argue about such things. I’d rather spend my time in pleasant conversation.

    Despite what all the books about argumentation and communication say, most of the time, no matter how charitable, articulate, and self-effacing you are, you WILL offend the person whose beliefs you’re challenging. There are some really good looking and charming men and women that can make disagreement sound agreeable, but they’re few and far between. There are also some reasonable people who are willing to have their beliefs challenged, calmly offering counterarguments and exchanging ideas, but they’re even more unusual. They frequently end up becoming my close friends.

    The way I look at it is that there are enough people out there to pick from for potential friends and romantic partners that we don’t have to ignore that voice telling us to run in the opposite direction. Of course I live like a hermit, so I’m probably wrong. 🙂

  • dfledermaus

    You folks don’t know what’s really bad. It isn’t having your brain turn on during a date. It’s having your brain turn on during sex. Imagine your partner calling out something in the throes of passion that you know is inaccurate and you correct them! Buzzkill to the nth degree! I know because (weep! wail!) I did this once.

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who would decide not to breed with someone based on their spelling skills. It makes it difficult for me to want to breed with my husband sometimes (he’s useless at spelling) but then, he has problems with my inability to perform basic mathematical calculations so I suppose to each his own. 🙂

  • Grimalkin

    Awesome conversation I had at a party just the other day:

    Me: (talking about my brother-in-law) “He just takes homoeopathic drugs” (said with an eye-roll)

    Girl: Those really work, you know.

  • littlejohn

    I’ve been married for 27 years, so the dating problem is a non-sequiter for me. But the in-laws! They’re all right-wing republicans and godbots. I don’t know how my wife wound up so rational.

  • Aj

    If they specifically asked me like that I would have to respond. I guess I’d suggest that people born on the same day don’t have particularly similar attributes or lives. Also I’d tell them to cut out horoscopes without the labels and see if they can tell which ones apply. Then I’d ask them to explain how the position of distant stars from different periods in the past would have any relation to human personality or terrestrial events.

    Astrology seems the most harmless woo. Am I going to meet a tall dark stranger today? OMG OMG I’m totally like that, you can ask all my friends. Yet when you hear it applied to medicine, stock markets, jobs, long term relationships, then like any woo it can have very harmful consequences. If you’re persuasive and can spread a little doubt when its harmless, perhaps you might influence the times when its harmful.

  • I have a very religious neighbor whom I otherwise like very much, plus we have kids who are close in age. I’ve had to learn not to look shocked or laugh when she’ll add a comment in a non-religious conversation, such as (on debating homeschooling her eldest due to some issues at school) “But I don’t feel God is calling me to do it yet” and (on back pain, which we both have) “And then I was watching the 700 Club and put my hand on the TV when they were praying for those in pain and I immediately felt better.” I figure she doesn’t say anything about the gay-thing, so I’ll lay off the god-thing.

    Then my wife has relatives who signed a petition for a referendum in their state that affects the rights of gays and lesbians in issues of custody. Despite their knowing us and our son. Their church told them to sign it. This may be, however, the end of their speaking relationship.

  • Skeptic Coach

    Not a dating situation, but I met someone who I thought would be fun to socialize with — until she told me how her “wonderful” vet was treating her cat’s tennis-ball-sized, oozing skin ulcers with homeopathic remedies. Life is too short to waste on people who don’t use their brains.

  • when she met a couple new friends

    I don’t think you should be too picky about people’s spelling and grammar.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Then she does something I’m sure normal people never care about (e.g. misspelling an easy word)

    That’s a deal-breaker. The same goes for basic math skills. Maybe that’s why I’m still single, though…

    BTW, Tim Minchin has a song [Storm] about the situations we’re discussing.

  • Voodoo Chile

    I live in Portland, Oregon. Almost everyone here is what you would call “unaffiliated.” Unfortunately it’s mostly people who believe in astrology and all that other nonsense. Very few rational people.

    As a single guy, this makes it really difficult to date. A strong part of my self-identity is my pro-science attitude, and I have a very hard time respecting people who believe in stupid things. And nothing kills romantic prospects more than a lack of respect.

  • gmcfly

    Hemant, you did it inside the block quote, calling them “Girl 1” and “Girl 2.” You should have labeled them “Womyn 1” and “Womyn 2.” 🙂

    I really do wish we used a different word other than “girl” to refer to young adult women in casual conversation. Sort of a female equivalent of “guy.”

  • Hang in there and don’t lower your standards. A guy like me ended up with a wife like this.

  • Stand up for your brain. You really don’t want to have children with people who don’t use their brains.

  • Almond

    Alan E:

    Reading your comment about massage therapy reminded me of a Skeptoid episode in which Brian Dunning makes an excellent point about the “Ethics of Peddling the Paranormal.” If you’re interested you can listen here:

  • In my German class, which tends to be pretty chatty, a girl asked me and another classmate if we believed in ghosts. Before I had a chance to answer, she started telling me how she thought her dorm room was haunted, and how her friends used a ouija board to try to contact the spirit. Typically I wouldn’t have said anything, but at the end of her story she tacked on the fact that she was feeling skeptical about the entire situation, but her friends were completely convinced by it and really freaked out. I decided to try to explain how ouija boards work (or don’t work), and suggested she watch the Penn and Teller episode about it. It was very awkward though. No one wants to come off as a pushy know-it-all, but it’s so hard to sit by and watch irrationality perpetuate itself.

  • Hemant, you did it inside the block quote, calling them “Girl 1? and “Girl 2.” You should have labeled them “Womyn 1? and “Womyn 2.” 🙂

    Ahh… I’m just quoting Debbie there.

  • Alx-Nichole

    I went out with a fellow Atheist, then he made fun of me not being able to walk across the large shopping plaza instead of driving because I didn’t have my asthma inhaler. That was the end of that.
    I’m quite picky, too. 😉

  • Vincent

    I’ll show you my pasty white moon sign *bends over*.

    Hasn’t happened to me, but I had a friend tell me about her new job and heard the office crowd chatting about Harry Potter and made some comment about “oh I love the last movie” before discovering they were all evangelicals chatting about how it’s witchcraft and the work of Satan.

  • Kind of off topic, but ever notice how the fundies hate Harry Potter for its use of magic and witchcraft, but LOVE the Chronicles of Narnia? Durr. Cognitive dissonance much?

  • That’s funny as hell. It happens to me all the time. In fact it went to a very large degree until I finally met the one, who thought that I was crazy, but was ready to accept that >:)

  • Eliza

    Hemant, sorry to falsely accuse you here – indeed you were quoting directly from Debbie’s blog.

    You have used “girl” as a term for young adult women in several prior posts so I figured it was your wording again here.

    I don’t have a great alternate term to suggest. (Gal? Not ideal.) I prefer “woman” for a female who has reached biological maturity, but that may reflect my biology & medicine background. You math types – who knows, maybe anything goes!

  • plum grenville

    This happens to me freqently (at least when I actually socialize). I find it frustrating, even infuriating.

    The person I’m talking to starts spouting nonsense and I’m forced to choose between the nodding and smilling routine – which feels like lying – and stating my disagreement which will probably start an argument or at least be perceived as rude.

    95% of the time I don’t want to argue. I don’t like arguments much in the first place, especially at social events, and in my experience, they are rarely effective (i.e., it’s rare for one person to convince the other).

    But not standing up for what I believe feels lousy too. At a minimum it would be nice to educate the person that their views on psychics/The Secret/homeopathy are not so mainstream that they can just take it for granted that they’ll be accorded respect.

    It feels totally unfair that the other person gets to spout their (irrational) position but I can’t even express a polite 1-sentence disagreement without provoking an argument that I don’t want.

    And a polite disagreement typically falls far short of actually expressing what I really think. What I want to say (and what is true) is something like, “That’s hooey.” But that seems rude and confrontational, so I tone it down to something wimpier like, “Well, I see things a little differently.” But that’s usually still not tentative enough to ward off a challenge from my interlocutor (woo believers are usually eager to proselytize).

    I could cut off the discussion at that point with something like, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree”, but that feels dishonest and unsatisfying too, because I haven’t gotten across how wrong I think they are and it accords their nutty belief equivalent legitimacy with my reality-based opinion.

    To me it seems rude to say something to a mere acquaintance that you ought to know is controversial without some kind of acknowledgement that the other person might not agree with you. It’s rude because it forces the other person (if they do disagree with you) into pretend-to-agree vs. start-an-argument dilemma.

    If you admit upfront that not everyone would agree with you on X, that gives the other person permission to disagree openly without it becoming a big deal.

    What do you say when someone asks your sign? I’d like to refuse to say on the grounds that astrology cannot give you valid information about someone. But I’ve never had the nerve to do that, so I answer and try to change the subject as soon as possible (and try to disengage as soon as possible to look better dating/friend prospects).

  • Zombie Girl

    My “friend” and I were talking about horror movies, and she said that she was really freaked out by “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (or something like that) because it was based on a “true story.” I asked her why she thought that, and she said because that’s how the movie was advertised….
    *head smack* I asked her if she HONESTLY thought that people got possessed by the devil, and she told me these exact words:
    “Well why would they lie about it?”

    Uhhhh…advertising? To make the movie seem more scary? Because they can and who the hell is going to stop them? (She responded that they could get sued……..honestly now…who has the time to do all that?) I brought up all those questions, which just confused her even more. And she told me that the girl in the movie floated out her window….or something like that. I asked her if she really thought people could just defy the laws of physics…

    My brain just melted….
    She is in college in a critical thinking English class. She also told me (not too long before the exorcism chat) that she was agnostic about the possibility of a god. Why would she jump straight towards the conclusion that people can actually get possessed by the devil?

  • laterose

    Some of my co-workers believe in personality blood types. I’m not sure what the term is exactly. But they like to speculate over which blood types the students are based on their personalities. When they asked me which blood type I am, I honestly told them I don’t know. They told me which one they think I am, but I’ve forgotten, so I guess I’ll never know if they were right. In general I opt for the smile and nod approach.

    I’ve also sort of been on the other side of the equation. I tend to anthropomorphize computers a lot, and since I teach a computer class, this gives my students lots of opportunities to point out to me that machines can’t “like” or “dislike” things. They either can handle what you’re asking them to do, or they crash.

  • I recently had a conversation with a relative online who tells me that swine flu was created by the government to push through Obama’s national health plan. Sorry, his “Socialist healthcare” plan. I questioned this and ended up upsetting them and was accused of making them feel stupid. Can’t win!

  • You need to align your chakras so your mind and body are in accord. Then just blurt out that it’s bunk (or other appropriate word). I openly mock horoscopes, “bless you” for sneezes, Friday 13th and all that other crap. I usually use the metaphor of cell phone leprechauns.

    The mobile phone network is clearly facilitated by cell phone leprechauns and not by radio signals operating in set frequencies and managed by sophisticated electronic switches. Oh No! Each phone has a magic leprechaun inside who uses his powers to pass messages back and forth between callers. It’s true. Honest.

    I feel that it makes me a better person to explain how things really are. 😉

  • Ashlyn

    I don’t have that problem, mostly because I have no tact. If someone comes out with some sort of crazy woo, I call them on it! I’m sure it has cause a lot of potential friendships to go by the wayside, but I can more easily live with that than trying to contain myself when confronted with The Crazy.

  • Dana

    i used to work at this italian restaurant in indiana, and i thought the girls are my work were pretty nice, albeit shallow. then one day i heard them discussing the popular pseudoscience theory about water crystals forming irrational patterns when people say mean things to them as they are forming……apparently water speaks english, and is easily offended.

  • I’m a glutton for punishment, I tend to ask questions AND offer my skeptical opinion in hopes of finding someone who can argue civilly & enjoys learning.

    However, I made the mistake of rekindling a romance from my 20s with a guy who, in his 40s was a straight-up fundy. He could think & speak rationally about anything other than Jesus. Refused to learn even the history of his chosen sect, much less read scholarly studies like Bart Ehrman’s books. I gave up when he insisted that human beings were absolutely NOT primates. Ugh. Willful ignorance is a deal-breaker!

    My curiosity gets me in confrontations though, because I have a hard time hiding my derision for incredible claims.Ah well….

  • benjdm

    All of this gets solved very easy by being anti-social. Misanthropy FTW!

  • Ubi Dubium

    What do you say when someone asks your sign? I’d like to refuse to say on the grounds that astrology cannot give you valid information about someone.

    That came up for me last New Years. We were having our Renaissance party with friends, and several of them were working on a Yule Log ceremony, and wanted people with the “correct signs” to participate. When I was asked “what’s your sign?” I smiled and said “No Right Turn”

  • Cypress Green

    Ah, guys and women, (he he), don’t be too hard on the ‘uninformed’ and swear you wouldn’t breed with them. When I met my husband, he was leery of the fact that I was an atheistic wiccan and I wasn’t crazy about his christianity, lapsed tho it was. (and former re-born, to boot) But he was getting laid, so even the fear of evil is nothing, right? LOL

    But he loved me and said he was told that I’d be saved since he was saved as we were married (WTF is that all about??!!)

    But over time I moved to just plain atheist, and he’s now agnostic. It’s only a matter of time before I drag him into reality…mwah ha ha!
    People can change.

  • K

    I’ve always lacked interest in that social foible of overlooking stupid. You think I’m abrasive online, I’m much worse in person. I often find the darndest words coming out of my mouth long before my brain engages. So, guffawing at another homeschooler who openly says she doesn’t believe in evolution? Check. Laughing so hard that I bend over and clutch my stomach when my boy schools some adult pushing religion near the statues of catholic deities in the gardening department. Check.
    Broad can’t spell a single syllable word? Who WOULD want to breed with that much stupid? I’d point and laugh and poke fun at her all night, if it was me. Just not dating her again, that’s nothing.

    So who read the astrology part and thought of that little youtube song about the dinner party and the astrology thing?
    “Does the notion that there might not be a supernatural, so blow your hippy noodle, that you rather just stand in the fog of your inability to google?”
    —Tim Minchin
    Wait, found a link (because I can Google): http://podblack.com/?p=1141

  • Tell me why this song is now running through my head?

  • Alan E.

    Once in a college intro English class, a student stormed out because he was offended when the teacher started discussing religious influences on writings of the 12-1600’s. What really made the student upset was when he mentioned that some popes from that era were (paraphrasing) pretty bad guys, and gave us a few facts to support his point. The student was very religious and could not accept that historical facts showed that christian history was not all sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies. He dropped the class and tried to file a complaint against the teacher. Being Berkeley, nothing happened to the teacher because we had the rest of the class supporting him. Besides, he was presenting researchable facts and showing how they influenced the world.

    Almond, thanks for that link. It really helps that other people are in the same predicament that I am.

  • John Larberg

    I honestly think that there could and I stress could be something to a person’s personality that’s related to that day they were born. In science we see similiar things though they are more easily analyzed and measurable than personality. The issue I have with people who follow astrology is the certainty that people have about something no one knows anything about. I have one single argument against astrology and that’s a concept that any astronomy hobbyist could tell you: the stars that you are born under no longer correspond with your supposed “sign”.

    Anyways, when you run into someone saying something silly you should try to find some common ground on any subject whether it’s astrology, religion or superstition (redundant?) or you just end up sounding like a stubborn nay sayer. I have friends that believe in ghosts for example and I explain to them that I can’t believe in something that I’ve never witnessed or have never seen any proof of just like I wouldn’t expect the same for them. I think saying this has gotten them to relax about and accept that they could be wrong just like any good rational scientist.

  • Am

    I myself am an atheist, and don’t like it when people start gabbing about astrology and whatever monotheistic religion they believe in. But people can’t all be the way you want or expect them to be, and if everyone thought alike or shared the same views as oneself it would be a totally homogeneous world filled with nothing but clones. I’ve learned to see that, while I don’t always agree with one particular thing a person says, I may agree with something ELSE they say. It doesn’t mean that, just because we don’t share viewpoints on a certain subject or topic, they have to be condemned forever. If you searched for friends this way, you’re going to be very disappointed. 😉

    If I find that I have nothing MUCH in common with a person, or if their views differ with mine on a particular issue which I deem critical to our being friends, then I simply stop associating myself with them. More often than not these days though, I’ve learned to look at the places we click rather than the places we don’t. =)

  • Only in every social encounter I’ve EVER had. Most of the time I keep my mouth shut, but then it just boils until that one unlucky person says something on the wrong day for me to put up with it and I go for it. You don’t win friends with logic…unfortunately. Sigh.

  • Actual situation where this happened:


    For the record, I frequently talk about being an atheist at work, and no one has ever cared. Come out, fellow atheists, come out!!!

    You can definitely question (astrology, religion, etc.) in a way that starts a conversation rather than ends it. Polite and reasoned disagreement (in a way that takes PART of the other peeople’s assertions into account) often provokes good discussions. “But Ashley, you have (habit/temperament A B and C that flatters Ashley indirectly by talking about her), and so does your mom, and HER birthday is four months from yours. Don’t you think that it has more to do with heredity and environment? You have a great family/had to endure some tough times.” It doesn’t work with everyone on every topic, and some people make up their minds to be offended when they wake up in the morning. But the ones you can get to – that’s one more person that goes home thinking about what you talked about.

    On the dating side, date anyone you want. We benefit from exposing members of hyporational cults like astrology or various theisms to critical thought (even if you’re not going to expose them to it for that long). But just don’t marry a (Catholic, Reformed Jew, Pentecostal, Red Sox fan, etc.) and think that your kids will not also be Catholics or Red Sox fans. When you’re part of a family, it’s a whole different situation. So your theist or astrologer doesn’t have to be Mr. or Ms. Right, just Mr./Ms. Right Now. (I once dated an evangelical and one day came home to find her reading the Selfish Gene on her own. For Christmas that year she bought me a copy of the Bible. I already know what’s in there so I never looked at it. Reason 1, Theism 0.)

  • I don’t shove it in people’s faces, but if someone asks my opinion I don’t have any qualms about giving it to them. There are ways of telling people their worldview is nonsense without being rude. There aren’t may of them… but they’re out there.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Zombie Girl: She is in college in a critical thinking English class.

    Huh? I’m all for critical thinking, but it seems unusual to find it in an English class.

  • Tim

    If your focus is on being right, then you can wash your hands of another person. If your focus is on love, you cannot write people off.

  • Seth C.

    My major party convo killer, which happens to be Bart Ehrman’s as well, is to bring up how Paul didn’t write the Pastoral Epistles or some other subject of philosophy or religion.

    Oh and theodicy…that’s a real killer.

  • Seavee

    It is nice to read all these kindred thoughts. Intelligence is an absolute must for any potential partner.

    My last date gave me a nice long rant about Obama as the antichrist. I was not impressed.

  • Zombie Girl

    uh…obviously I forgot an “and”….

    unless that was supposed to be a joke. I’m terrible at picking up on jokes. ><


  • absent sway

    It strikes me as simplistic and entirely too convenient to dismiss people as stupid just because they disagree with you about something or are weak in one area. If they are weak in many areas and/or disagree with you about many things, then sure, question their judgment and move on. Is there really anyone who can’t relate to believing something stupid or performing poorly and feeling embarrassed about it later?

    To Reginald Selkirk: Yes, there are plenty of opportunities for critical thought in an English class. English majors traipse through all sorts of historical, political, and cultural territory.

  • Seavee

    Absent Sway makes a good point. It would be wrong to dismiss people as stupid simply for disagreeing. That is a trap that is all too easy to fall into. It should be guarded against diligently.

    However, I don’t think that is what people here are doing. What I perceive, from reading these comments, is not an inability to appreciate opposite views but rather intolerance for poorly considered views.

    While it may be politically correct to say that all opinions are equally valid and deserving of respect, I don’t think that is actually true. A well thought out, competently articulated opinion is worth far more than the socially dictated, ill considered ideas espoused by many.

  • EdWest

    I was almost hired to do some graphic design work for a woman whose business card said “Author, Globalist, Shaman”. She was quite effusive about the global tapestry of energies and how certain symbols could be used to heal sick people. These symbols came to her during meditation, and she made sure to copyright them. They also appear on her business card.

    It was an odd brand of New Age Baloney, a spiel I hadn’t heard before. I honestly didn’t know how to react, so I pretty much didn’t. I smiled and nodded while my brain was screaming at me to argue.

    Oh, and my brother recently met James Cromwell, one of my favorite actors. He’s apparently very nice, well spoken, well read, and believes in Atlantis and crystal power. Odd. He was still great in Babe.

  • Michelle

    dfledermaus Says:

    Imagine your partner calling out something in the throes of passion that you know is inaccurate and you correct them! Buzzkill to the nth degree! I know because (weep! wail!) I did this once.

    HA, I can only imagine. Any way you’ll tell us what happened? I’m dying to know!

    As for the “girl” issue, Eliza, I agree with you. I know that it wasn’t Hemant who said it, but it drives me absolutely crazy as well. I’m an adult with something to contribute, I’m well educated, my job is all about providing cognitive services, etc. Being called “girl” makes me feel like exactly what the word implies: a child.

  • Jane

    Most of my friends are atheists, so I don’t have that problem too often. I’ve had it at work more often than I have in “fun” social situations.

    I used to work in a candy store that sold a lot of sugar free candy. It was one of our big sellers. One day, a woman came in asking about the sugar free candy. I pulled some down off of the shelf, and that’s when her crystal on a string came out. She said that if the crystal moved in certain direction, it was dangerous for her to eat. All of our candy was too dangerous for her energy.

    The managers at a build-a-bear I worked at used to go visit psychics reguarly.

  • freemind

    A rather bitter and ironic twist on this topic: I met a brilliant and beautiful woman through my “armchair intellectual” group. She both loved, and with mastery, deployed science like fresh water. A Humanist, Socialist, Atheist and more, she was from my dreams. We became close. Too close. I’m not willing to sacrifice 20 years of marriage for a dream, but the temptation was unbearable. Sometimes life is so confusing. Why now? Damn.

  • beijingrrl

    My next-door neighbor is a creationist. We found out when my husband was telling her about his current project, an IMAX film about prehistoric sea creatures. She told him that not everyone believed in that. He burst out laughing, then realized she was serious. He made vague conciliatory gestures (he hadn’t meant to belittle her) and we still have a very pleasant, neighborly relationship with her.

  • absent sway

    “A well thought out, competently articulated opinion is worth far more than the socially dictated, ill considered ideas espoused by many”

    I agree, Seavee, and you put this well. My comment was broad and inadequate to describe much of what has been shared on here. It’s not my intention to dismiss the legitimate frustrations people have shared, only to urge patience when it comes to judging others.

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