First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
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10-02-2014, 03:57 PM
First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
I recently finished reading Peter Boghossian's book "A Manual for Creating Atheists".

In the book, he proposes using a non-confrontational strategy or trying to get the person you are talking to to exhibit doxastic openness using the Socratic method. The gist is to not throw a bunch of evidence and facts in their face, and instead introduce doubt and critical thinking about their position. I tried this for the first time today with an old Army Buddy(AB) who I consider, for the most part a pretty reasonable dude, who genuinely wants to be right, but is a Christian and borderline YEC.

He told me that he knows god is real because he can personally communicate with him. The conversation unfolded like this:

AB: I know God is real because I can speak to him and hear him.

Me: How do you know you hear God? Is it like you physically hear a strange voice? I am just trying to better understand what you are saying.

AB: It's not exactly like that. But it' like I feel I am hearing him, it is really hard to explain.

Me: Ok, I think I get what you're saying. So how can you be sure you are hearing him. How do you know you are not delusional? Not saying you are, just curious how you can claim to know.

AB: I just know it's true.

Me: Okay, but people think they know and hear things all the time, but sometimes they are delusional. Sometimes people are delusional right?

AB: Yeah, but I don't think I am.

Me: You might not be. The reason I ask is, because there are people all over the world that believe in different versions of God than you, and many of these people make the same claim as you that they speak to and hear their god. Is it possible that some of these people are delusional?

AB: Yeah, that's possible, maybe some are, some aren't.

Me: True, maybe. However, since you all believe in a separate version of god, you can't all be correct can you? Someone has to be hearing the wrong God, thus, they are delusional.

AB: Maybe everybody is correct.

Me: I don't know. If you are having a conversation with Jesus, and you are hearing confirmation that he is the son of God and the Christian God is the one true God, and somebody in Iran is having this same conversation with Muhammad, only one of you can be correct on who is talking to the one the true real God right?

AB: Yeah, that's true.

Me: So at maximum, only one group of people talking to their God can be the correct group, and even though the rest may be sincere in thinking they are talking to God, the rest have to be delusional right?

AB: Yeah.

Me: But just because not all groups talking to their God can't be correct, doesn't mean they aren't all incorrect does it?

AB: I guess not. But that is highly improbable.

Me: Why is that highly improbable?

AB: Because that would mean that most of the world is delusional.

Me: True. But it has happened before. There is no truth in numbers. If I tell you that there is an alien craft in my backyard, even though that is clearly not true, but I convince you to believe there is, so now two people truly believe there is an alien craft in my backyard, that doesn't make it any more truthful does it?

AB: Hmmmmmmm

AB: I need to think

(End of conversation)

This was my first time trying this, so I know I can do better, but Peter Boghossian would consider this a successful intervention. What say you TTA?
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10-02-2014, 05:12 PM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
You got him to start thinking. That's step one. I'd call it a success so far, keep us posted. Thumbsup

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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10-02-2014, 05:18 PM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
I think you handled that extremely well. The mere fact that there was no visceral reaction and emotions stayed in check was a victory in and of itself. Like evenheathen said keep us posted.

Are you rehearsing the next step?

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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10-02-2014, 05:47 PM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
(10-02-2014 05:12 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  You got him to start thinking. That's step one. I'd call it a success so far, keep us posted. Thumbsup

Yup, and that is the whole point of the book. You don't have to convert everyone the instance you talk to them, just try to make them start thinking with reason.




(10-02-2014 05:18 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I think you handled that extremely well. The mere fact that there was no visceral reaction and emotions stayed in check was a victory in and of itself. Like evenheathen said keep us posted.

Are you rehearsing the next step?

Yeah, I was pleased. I think that is why the book really wants you to focus on asking questions and the Socratic Method, otherwise the person might feel threatened and shut down reasonable dialogue. I am trying to figure out what I will say next time we talk. I will attempt to keep you posted.
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11-02-2014, 11:12 PM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
Good work. I just got the audio version today. I like his strategy of not attacking a person's religion but their epistemology. Its the difference between pruning the limbs or hacking at the root. Destroy the root and the rest of the tree will follow. I like it.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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11-02-2014, 11:36 PM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
Good job.

I have bought it but not started reading it yet. I think I apply the method already but have had a few slips so I'm hoping to fine-tune.

Thanks for the nudge.

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12-02-2014, 10:39 AM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
It is certainly an interesting way of trying to get through to a believer. Overall I was pleased when I tried it. I have not had time for a follow up conversation yet, or much time to be on the forum the last couple of days because I am getting ready for my move to Europe so time is money right now. I will make sure to update this when I do have a follow up conversation with him.

I will say, one reason this book appealed to me was, whenever I have presented a religious person evidence, like evolution, they immediately shut down. It's not that they lack the ability to understand evolution, it's that they don't WANT to understand it. Going after their foundation by asking questions designed to get them to think seems like a good first step, evidence can possibly come later.
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03-03-2014, 05:48 AM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
If I had been the other person in the conversation, it might have gone like this:

BeccaBoo: I know God is real because I can speak to him and hear him.

You: How do you know you hear God? Is it like you physically hear a strange voice? I am just trying to better understand what you are saying.

BeccaBoo: It's not exactly like that. But it' like I feel I am hearing Him, and I have had experiences where I feel I have seen Him, such that lead me to a clearer understanding of the world and of my life.

...

What would you say next?
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03-03-2014, 06:00 AM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2014 09:20 AM by DLJ.)
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
(03-03-2014 05:48 AM)BeccaBoo Wrote:  ...
What would you say next?

I'd probably nod and smile and start backing slowly away from the bar and start flirting with someone else instead or

I'd say...

DLJ: If it's a feeling of a voice rather than an actual voice, how do know it's a 'he' and how do you ascertain that it's a benign, and not a malevolent, source?

Huh

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03-03-2014, 06:11 AM
RE: First Attempt at a Peter Boghossian Intervention
(03-03-2014 06:00 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(03-03-2014 05:48 AM)BeccaBoo Wrote:  ...
What would you say next?

I'd probably nod and smile and start backing slowly away from the bar and start flirting with someone else instead or

I'd say...

DLJ: If it's a feeling of a voice rather than an actual voice, how do know it's a 'he' and how to you ascertain that it's a benign, and not a malevolent, source?

Huh

I wouldn't be at the bar, so no worries for you!

I judge the results of the message. Like when I was 19 and in a really crappy, destructive relationship, and I was praying, and for the first time I could see everything at once from the past two years, and also possibilities of the future. For me that was a moment when I received more information than I previously could see.
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