They Seem So Smug… August 1, 2010

They Seem So Smug…

These people annoy the hell out of me, too…:

(via XKCD)

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  • Alix

    Someone had to say it.

  • Ben Smith

    Is it just me or are these people most of the time chronic gamers who don’t give a shit about anything in reality except escaping into their virtual lands every free minute that they have?

  • fritzy

    I’ve managed to find a way to be annoyed by just about everyone. Not bad for only 38 years on this earth! And yes, this makes me feel pretty damned superior 😉

  • Alix

    That certainly happens, Ben, but most of the time I find this complaint originating from moderate theists – those who ignore the abuses of faith from fundamentalists and weakly protest, “We’re not all like that…”

  • Freakin’ agnostics… I see you there with your toe in the water… You know you wanna jump in!!!

  • Amelia

    Ha, Stephanie, exactly. It’s like going around saying “well, I’ve never seen a rainbow colored water buffalo dance through clouds, but since other people seem to think this happens, I’m just going to say I don’t know.”

  • Each group has it’s own bell curve.

  • Jason Greenlee

    “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

  • This image is useless without the hovertext Hemant.
    Sometimes the entire joke is in the hovertext at xkcd.

    In this case it is.

    “But you’re using that same tactic to try to feel superior to me, too! Sorry, that accusation expires after one use per conversation.”

  • Stephen
  • Ron S.

    People who always try to position themselves as “moderate” annoy me. I am tired of hearing, “Hey you got your crazies way out there, and the crazies on the other side… Me? I am right in the middle.” It’s the perverse application of “moderation in all things” to all things. I say, “Moderation in all things… in moderation.” Just because you are “in the middle” doesn’t mean you are always right.

  • O_o

    I didn’t realize Agnosticism was considered the timid viewpoint.

    Imho it isn’t that we’re remaining open about the purple water buffalo dancing in the clouds (I flat out & full on reject judeo christianity, the Bible and their God), it’s that we acknowledge that there is no way to know if there is a higher power, consciousness, etc whatever it may be. Doesn’t mean we don’t reject assbackwards faiths that are obvious shenanigans. I reject many a man made faith and yet still remain open to different spiritual concepts.

    In other words, in defense of agnosticism I stick my tongue out at ye :cp lol

  • @Her Idealisticness
    You’re doin’ it all wrong, trying to use logic ‘n’ shit.

    The mindsets referred to as the timid ‘agnostic’ are twofold: From the believer’s POV, its the one who doesn’t tell the believer to his his most cherished beliefs are bullcrap, and whose admittedly logical epistemological objection can be rationalized as a deep-rooted desire for faith and divine companionship that will eventually manifest. He is the quiet unbeliever who won’t make waves.

    The moment you declare that you think anyone’s particular beliefs are wrong, you crossed over into New Atheist territory, despite your own protests.

    From the atheist POV: the “timid” agnostic is the guy who doesn’t believe, who is a functional atheist but cringes at the term. In trying to distance himself from the term, he promotes the stupid canard that “atheists have a certainty that God doesn’t exist, I don’t”. In terms of obnoxiousness they are one step in away from being SE Cupp.

    At least that’s how I’ve observed things overall, present company excluded.

  • R9

    I’d call myself fairly agnostic about super-consciousnesses lurking behind the universe. And I do find that’s different to the atheist stance (I don’t both trying to work out the probability of said super-consciousness for example, because I don’t know how you’d begin to assess that).

    Also XKCD sucks.

  • Wow. I must have missed some memos.

    I’m agnostic. I don’t believe in the God of the bible as described in the Bible or most faiths for that matter. Beyond that personal decision I recognize that there is very little we can prove or disprove about a vast many things and because of this I remain open-minded and highly skeptical at the same time.

    Personally speaking I am a permaculturalist and all I give a shit about is a functioning healthy earth in all it’s mind blowing, life sustaining awesomesauceness to sustain our sorry asses while we’re here, and I am a recovering pentacostal christian (*wretches a little in own mouth*).

    As for peoples personal beliefs, as long as it is not causing human rights violations, infringing on others freedoms or causing flaming bigotry, ignorance, abuses, destruction or what have you I don’t give a good god damn what ANYONES faith is. Sadly, with most faiths, that is rare and thus my distaste for them. But if it doesn’t cause those issues, it’s a personal decision and I fully think being a prick on either side of the spiritual divide is as bad as. If they aren’t violating anyone then it matters naught to me what they do in their prayer closet.

    From your explanation it seems that it pisses both sides off to have someone in the middle thoughtfully considering, deeply skeptical and critically thinking things out without claiming conclusive knowledge either way most of the time. That agnosticism is a cop out.

    I call shenanigans to that all or nothing POV and resist the urge to stick my tongue out again while refusing to join either side of the great divide.


  • Steve

    There is no “these people”. XKCD is a single guy. And he isn’t a gamer per se. The game jokes there are about classic gaming culture mostly, not about new stuff.

    He is a scientist and programmer. That’s why you find so many science- and math-jokes there.

  • Hitch

    Spot on cartoon, sadly. Oh and bell curves are for bell makers.

    I’m not going to defend agnosticism just now because really there are different type of agnostics. I know anti-theistic agnostics for example.

    The whole labeling business is a mess. If I had to pick a label it’d be agnostic, but I fully agree with the criticism many have for people who make agnosticism into a partial win for theism. Huxley would have (and has!) objected.

  • Meh, agnosticism isn’t a middle of the road path between atheism and theism, it is a completely different question.

    Agnostics\gnostics answer the question: “Do you have knowledge about the existence of gods?”.

    Atheists\theists answer the question: “Do you believe in the existence of gods?”.

    Both are binary views. Also anyone who claims sure knowledge about gods is a big, fat liar with inflammable pants or bat shit crazy. At least in my opinion.

    I find the entire concept of gods to be so ill defined and silly that I can not honestly claim any knowledge one way or the other about it. I also don’t believe in them for a number of reasons. Others may claim a belief but no knowledge because they consider the gods to be beyond human understanding.

    Back to XKCD. There is nothing more annoying than a Fundamentalist Christian except perhaps a Fundamentalist Christian in public office.

  • the_brigand

    I watch plenty of Atheists strutting around spreading hate and bigotry, behaving just as bad if not worse then the Fundamentalist Christians they abhor.
    Until someone undeniably proves to me that there is some completely reasonable and logical explanation for/of the creation and existence of the Universe I’ll step off my Agnosticism.

    Until then I remain resolutely unconvinced.

  • Fett101

    The comic forum thread is well worth a read.

  • J Myers
  • Andrew Morgan

    Honestly, agnostics piss me off to no end, which is why I think the comic is dead on.

    Unless you go around saying you’re “agnostic” toward EVERY wacky idea you’ve ever heard — Russell’s teapot, unicorns, gremlins, ghosts, faeries, talking animals, flying pigs, Atlantis, ESP — you’re giving a special designation to religion that it doesn’t deserve.

    You’re no more or less agnostic toward God than I am agnostic toward the invisible dragon in my garage.

  • muggle

    Stephanie, loved that. I stuck my toe in the water for four years before I had the good sense to say there is no god and call myself Atheist.

    Andrew, exactly!!!

    Agnostics tend to be annoying because they do take this attitude that not taking a stance either way somehow makes them more moral than others on either side of the issue. No, it just makes you spineless.

    I was freaking coward when I said don’t know, don’t care. It was a necessary step in escaping my childhood indoctrination but, yes, it was spineless. Okay, spineless may be a bit harsh since it took some spine to stick the toe in the water but it wasn’t gutsy enough to dive in.

  • Doug

    I only dislike agnostics who try to use the word as an alternative to atheist, when as someone else pointed out, they’re referring to completely different questions. I can say I’m an agnostic atheist, or an agnostic theist, but just to say you are an agnostic is to refuse to answer the question. And they perpetuate the myth that atheists in general believe with any certainty that god does not exist, when most would merely say we disbelieve in its existence. Why are they afraid of saying they are atheists? They seem to completely misunderstand the entire point of the movement, which is societal acceptance of non-believers. Such a process demands being forthright in one’s views, and not hiding behind different questions.

  • Rich Wilson

    I find it strange how many people don’t believe in god(s) but don’t call themselves atheists.

    I think a) ‘atheism’ has a bad connotation, and b) people think atheism = 100% certain there is no god

    For the record, I used to call myself an agnostic before I read The God Delusion. My position hasn’t changed, just my self label.

    And there is a “please everyone middle of the road” that does piss me off. I recently saw someone say there were an atheist, but “believe in love not war, nobody is wrong”. Or on male circumcision “There is not right or wrong answer”.

    Just because you’re afraid to take a stance doesn’t mean there is no right or wrong answer. My own personal answer might be wrong, but at least I have one.

  • Erp


    Not too surprising an atheistic person might describe themselves as Buddhists, Humanist, or some other term. Now Catholics or Baptists who don’t believe in God are odd.

    What is even stranger are self described atheists who say they do believe in a personal god (same survey).

  • the_brigand

    Until then I remain resolutely unconvinced.

    If you are unconvinced that gods exist then you have no god belief and are an atheist. If you are unconvinced that gods don’t exist then who cares, that isn’t atheism anyway.

    Also it isn’t really appropriate to judge the veracity of an assertion on the actions of those who agree or disagree with it. That smacks of populism, not honest enquiry.

  • Spurs Fan

    Is the cartoon really referring to agnostics? The “superior” person makes the distinction “fundamentalist Christians”, implying that he (or she-hard to tell with the blank face and all) could very well be a “moderate” Christian or non-fundamentalist believer. Perhaps we’re wrongly focusing on the agnostic?

  • @the_brigand: Some of the worse atrocities in history have been done by men, yet I can’t help being one. I am deeply frustrated by how FUBARed the situation is in Greece, but that doesn’t change me being born Greek. I see plenty of humans going around being bigoted asshats. Doesn’t mean I’m not a human myself.

    If you want to disassociate with the actions of any person or group, that’s your privilege. You don’t get to reject a label that by definition applies to you just because you don’t like the company. Self-determination doesn’t mean you can dismiss reality. If you don’t believe gods exist, you’re an atheist.

  • Aj

    It’s not referring to agnostics in the original sense of the term, those who claim to not have knowledge of gods that seems to include the vast majority of atheists. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion makes the point that “agnosticism” in common parlance often means those who assign an equal probability to the propositions: god exists, god does not exist. These “agnostics” have this kind of attitude portrayed in the comic, as do liberal Christians, atheists who are truth relativists, and other types of scum.

  • Don Rose

    Anyone who is obsessed with any one thing can be very annoying, whether it’s an atheist, theist, or comic book collector.

  • Matt

    When I was younger I always called myself an agnostic. It was a combination of the misconception that atheists were “100% certain”, as well as the social stigma.

    Then I grew up and gained self-confidence.

  • R9

    “You’re no more or less agnostic toward God than I am agnostic toward the invisible dragon in my garage.”

    I’m definitely more agnostic about “a creator of some sort, whatever that is” than some specific fairytale creature.

  • Andrew Morgan


    I’m definitely more agnostic about “a creator of some sort, whatever that is” than some specific fairytale creature.

    That’s only because “a creator of some sort, whatever that is” is a horribly poorly defined concept. But that doesn’t mean it gets a free pass and suddenly becomes more reasonable than a specific fairytale creature.

    If I were to say, “Are you more agnostic toward dragons or oogoobles,” you would rightly say “WTF are oogoobles?” You wouldn’t say “Well, whatever oogoobles are, I guess I’m more likely to believe in them than dragons.”

  • Zeriu

    May I please say that they are right? I am in no way a theist nor an agnostic. It’s just that atheism has become an organized movement and people stop thinking about what they are doing because their actions get the approval of peers. Conforming to anything is dangerous.
    And although the catholic church covered up those priests i believe religion is not entirely bad. It keeps stupid people afraid of something. Kids shouldn’t be brought up as christian kids but neither as atheists. I know for a fact santa made me behave well until i stopped believing in him. And about Camp Quest… Please stop the preaching. Kids are too young to understand free-thinking. I bet the second they’re out of the camp they might be willing to follow some stranger to his van with promises of candy.

  • Zeriu, I think you underestimate children. How old do you have to be to understand freethought? I was an atheist when I was a kid. I may not have known the word, but I always knew that I didn’t believe in any gods and that I thought the supernatural was make-believe.

    Furthermore, how should kids be raised? No one in my family ever mentioned religion, but is that an ideal situation? A more gullible child in that environment is a sitting duck for evangelists. Is it even feasible for parents in heavily religious communities to ignore the issue? I wouldn’t try that in the Bible Belt. It would leave my children vulnerable to every proselytizing Tom, Dick, and Harry that comes their way.

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