When they don't know enough things to communicate with
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02-10-2013, 03:32 PM (This post was last modified: 02-10-2013 03:45 PM by Raptor Jesus.)
When they don't know enough things to communicate with
I just had this really annoying conversation with my coworker. It, surprisingly, was not about religion this time, so I won’t bother with the details. Though there was an underline, how will this bring about rapture, hidden in it. But even without the details, the reason I bring it up is because it’s this problem that makes communication with some people very difficult, and it seems to effect the extremely religious more, as they need to deny more of reality in order to hold their faith.

I don’t think all religious people are stupid, but often it seems the biblical literalist forcibly make themselves stupid by refusing actual knowledge in order to hold on to their out-of-touch beliefs, and this pattern of thought effects even their non-religious thoughts and ideas, making them appear stupider. Even if they would be really smart otherwise, if it was not for religion. And what’s the difference from an intelligent person who holds and believes stupid things, and appears to be stupid, versus an actually stupid person? Moderates don’t have to worry so much about doing that so on the whole don’t seem to be as bad (stupid).

But the problem I have is this, with talking to some people don’t you feel like some of them just don’t know enough things in order to have a conversation with them? For example, they will make these really stupid points, that if they just knew more things they wouldn’t bother making, because they would know it doesn’t make sense, or is actually a nonsensical question, or what have you.

I find much of my time trying to educate them on the topic so that I can at least go on with answering their question. They often get frustrated that I will not simply answer their question, because in their mind it’s a simple question, but in reality it is anything but, but they don’t know enough things to understand that, and think you are just being evasive when in reality you are thinking more seriously and deeper on their own question than they themselves are.

They think you are answering, or addressing everything but the issue they bring up, but in reality they know so few things that you need to present the necessary information so that they can even began to understand what you are talking about.

And the most frustrating thing is, in the end they think they are smarter than you because you can’t even answer "the simplest of questions".

Just to give you a quick example. My rapture believing friend is always trying to figure out what the phases of the moon “mean” (e.g., what God is trying to communicate through signs in the heavens). Until about a year ago she didn’t even know, until I pointed it out, that the moon can often be seen in the day time sky(...by the way, she is in her 30s). When I first pointed it out to her, that it was in the day time sky, she asked if that was a new thing, and what does that mean that it’s out during the day, and how come since I pointed it out to her she is seeing it in the sky during the day a lot more now when she never noticed it before. And how does that effect the earth to have the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time, does it cause more earthquakes? Are earthquakes worse when the sun and the full moon are both out at the same time?
She’ll perfectly comfortably ask questions like these, but get pissed off that I don’t just give yes or no answers, but actually explain why or why not, or why it’s a meaningless question.

Some of these people we can dismiss, but some of these people we have no choice about. We are forced to interact with them.

...
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02-10-2013, 03:47 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
(02-10-2013 03:32 PM)Raptor Jesus Wrote:  I just had this really annoying conversation with my coworker. It, surprisingly, was not about religion this time, so I won’t bother with the details. Though there was an underline, how will this bring about rapture, hidden in it. But even without the details, the reason I bring it up is because it’s this problem that makes communication with some people very difficult, and it seems to effect the extremely religious more, as they need to deny more of reality in order to hold their faith.

I don’t think all religious people are stupid, but often it seems the biblical literalist forcibly make themselves stupid by refusing actual knowledge in order to hold on to their out-of-touch beliefs, and this pattern of thought effects even their non-religious thoughts and ideas, making them appear stupider. Even if they would be really smart otherwise, if it was not for religion. And what’s the difference from an intelligent person who holds and believes stupid things, and appears to be stupid, versus an actually stupid person? Moderates don’t have to worry so much about doing that so on the whole don’t seem to be as bad (stupid).

But the problem I have is this, with talking to some people don’t you feel like some of them just don’t know enough things in order to have a conversation with them? For example, they will make these really stupid points, that if they just knew more things they wouldn’t bother making, because they would know it doesn’t make sense, or is actually a nonsensical question, or what have you.

I find much of my time trying to educate them on the topic so that I can at least go on with answering their question. They often get frustrated that I will not simply answer their question, because in their mind it’s a simple question, but in reality it is anything but, but they don’t know enough things to understand that, and think you are just being evasive when in reality you are thinking more seriously and deeper on their own question than they themselves are.

They think you are answering, or addressing everything but the issue the bring up, but in reality they know so few things that you need to present the necessary information so that they can even began to understand what you are talking about.

And the most frustrating thing is in the end they think they are smarter than you because you can’t even answer the simplest of questions.

Just to give you a quick example. My rapture believing friend is always trying to figure out what the phases of the moon “mean” (e.g., what God is trying to communicate through signs in the heavens). Until about a year ago she didn’t even know, until I pointed it out, that the moon can often be seen in the day time sky. When I first pointed it out to her, that it was in the day time sky, she asked if that was a new thing, and what does that mean that it’s out during the day, and how come, since I pointed it out to her, she is seeing it in the sky during the day a lot more now when she never noticed it before. And how does that effect the earth to have the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time, does it cause more earthquakes? Are earthquakes worse when the sun and the full moon are both out at the same time?
She’ll perfectly comfortably ask questions like these, but get pissed off that I don’t just give yes or no answers, but actually explain why or why not, or why it’s a meaningless question.

Some of these people we can dismiss, but some of these people we have no choice about. We are forced to interact with them.

I have that kind of experience fairly often. In her case, her underlying model of the universe is flawed. It is very sparse on facts (how the solar system is structured) and her teleological stance (the phase of the moon 'means' something).

I had a brief conversation the other night under the stars with an educated man - a civil engineer who owns and runs an engineering company - who had never heard of, let alone seen, the Hubble Deep Field image. Didn't have a clue as to how many galaxies are in the universe, only a fuzzy idea of what the Milky Way actually is.

OK, sure, I'm a sciencey kind of guy, but seriously? Not to know the moon goes around the Earth, not to even be aware of the Hubble Deep Field?

It's no wonder, really, that woo of all kinds can get a hold on people's minds.
Those minds have a lot of room for it.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-10-2013, 03:47 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
Oops. Double.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-10-2013, 04:25 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
(02-10-2013 03:47 PM)Chas Wrote:  ...OK, sure, I'm a sciencey kind of guy, but seriously?...

Sometimes I stop and question myself about that. I know that I love science and study it for fun. It's amazing to me and so I know a lot. I feel like I know how much everyone should know, but then sometimes have to remind myself that I have actually taken my science education much farther than the average person ever bothers. In that same way I some time wonder, should I really expect this person to know that Chimpanzees are actually apes, not monkeys...just as an example. (I still say, yes they should)

But some things, like that bees are considered animals, you should have to know. That really is an example from a different friend. There are things you just should know.

I actually remember an other conversation with a completely different friend, in which we were discussing whether soy in food is dangerous or not. Regardless of whether by view was right or wrong, (I'm willing to concede if I'm wrong, if the evidence bares it) but I quickly realized she simply did not know enough science or molecular biology to continue the conversation. She just had this belief that she had held for the past however many years, from the time someone told her soy was horrible for her, and it's become part of her "healthy" identity, and she seemed to be personally offended because I was questioning not her belief about soy, but her personally as a person as though she was being attacked. She even got that glazed over expression in the eyes that religious people often get when you make good points that they simply don't want to process.

...
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02-10-2013, 04:28 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
(02-10-2013 03:32 PM)Raptor Jesus Wrote:  She’ll perfectly comfortably ask questions like these, but get pissed off that I don’t just give yes or no answers, but actually explain why or why not, or why it’s a meaningless question.

Well, it's probably not a meaningless question to her.

Her pissed-off-ness is probably misdirected; she has no choice but to kill the messenger because you(messenger) are standing in front of her telling her shit she should have learned earlier in life. She can't take out her frustrations on "the past" or people would think she's crazy, or something. Wink

Start answering those questions with just a "yes" or a "no" and leave it at that. If further conversation is requested, simply advise that you've answered their questions and that further education would be necessary for greater understanding.
***

It's odd that someone in their 30s would not have noticed that the moon is out during the day. It's quite sad to know that someone would feel so helpless about something so commonplace. But, would being more informed make her feel any less helpless? Don't know.

For me, the more I know, the more I feel in control - at least, in control of me. For others... more knowledge could cause anxiety if there is no context for this knowledge.

I try not to help anyone walk in my shoes unless they wear a thick pair of their own socks. It's best for both of us. Dodgy

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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02-10-2013, 04:58 PM (This post was last modified: 02-10-2013 05:12 PM by Raptor Jesus.)
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
(I hope this is written half way well. I wrote it quickly and have no time to proof read or edit...)

In writing my last response I just remembered a great example.
I have this one friend who has three memorable examples to share.

I was one time hanging out at her house and we were watching TV. Someone being interviewed on TV stated that he was a vegan. My friend, Jamie, asked me, “What’s a vegan anyway”? Now I expect people to know this, but maybe everyone doesn’t…I don’t know, so I explained it to her anyway. I tell her that they are like vegetarians but also do not eat animal products like honey because it’s made by bees. She said, that’s stupid because bees aren’t animals. I explained that they are. She did not believe me. I explained that animals include the birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, insects, and so on. She replied, “That’s not true, birds aren’t animals”. When I said that indeed they are, she described what a bird was to me like I’m an idiot. She also disputed turtles. I think maybe she thought the word animals only included furry things, mammals, but I’m not really sure. To this day I think she thinks I’m an idiot who doesn’t even know what animals are.

The second one is, one year I had a living Christmas tree. Yes I celebrate Christmas, because its fun and has nothing to do with Jesus really, and is actually a pagan holiday anyway. So anyway, I have this living Christmas tree at my house, which is a short two foot tall tree in a pot I kept on my end table. Come January I decided to plant it outside. She thought that was a great idea and asked if all she had to do was dig a hole in the backyard and bury the stump and water it a lot. I said no because her tree has no roots. It was a regular cut tree from a lot with no roots, just a sawed off stump. How do you not know that will not work? Really? Wouldn’t we be selling trees that way at Home Depot if that actually worked?

The third thing…we were watching the movie “Angeles and Demons” at her place. I could tell she was lost because it goes very fast and skips a lot of the material in the book. I asked if she knew what was happening, and tactfully explained I know because I read the book and would be lost too if I hadn’t. I actually would have been able to follow fine had I not read the book. I actually asked because I thought there is no way she’ll know the history of the Catholic Church and science. She was relieved that I asked and offered to catch her up. In the process of explaining I told her how scientist demonstrated that the earth orbits around the sun. Shockingly she did not know this, and was incredulous about it. I had to use objects to in the room to model the sun and the earth, explained how a year passes, a day, the seasons based on the tilt of the earth, the moons orbit, solar and lunar eclipses. She, still not quit buying it, asked what makes the earth move. I said gravity and briefly explained. She asked if the other planets moved too, and why don’t they just fly off then if they are moving. She really didn’t seem to buy that part, moving planets that don’t just fly off. I explained that too. Her response after taking it all in was just, “Huh, I guess no one ever taught me that. Must not be too important if no one ever did. Oh well”.

This woman is in her 30s and has two young children.

...
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02-10-2013, 05:02 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
My three yr old pointed out the moon in the sky during daylight just the other day. Laughat

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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02-10-2013, 05:22 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
After reading this page,i facepalmed twice

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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02-10-2013, 07:02 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
(02-10-2013 05:02 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  My three yr old pointed out the moon in the sky during daylight just the other day. Laughat

She had a theory about that. She asked if the moon being out during the day is only a seasonal thing, like during the fall (it was fall at the time). She figured because she had just moved here from another town, a town that she felt was more overcast during the autumn, that maybe that's why she had never seen it, if it only came out during the autumn when it was too cloudy to be seen. And that she can see it now because the sky is clearer at this time of year.

I'm from that very same town she moved from and we both grew up there. And I can tell you there is no significant difference in how overcast it is in the autumn there verses here. Not that that matters. The moon is in the sky during the day just as often as it is at night, no matter what time of year it is.

But she actually thought the moon being visible during the day could be a seasonal thing. If a small kid asked my that, I'd give them a pass, but an adult?

...
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02-10-2013, 09:54 PM
RE: When they don't know enough things to communicate with
(02-10-2013 04:58 PM)Raptor Jesus Wrote:  I was one time hanging out at her house and we were watching TV. Someone being interviewed on TV stated that he was a vegan. My friend, Jamie, asked me, “What’s a vegan anyway”? Now I expect people to know this, but maybe everyone doesn’t…I don’t know, so I explained it to her anyway. I tell her that they are like vegetarians but also do not eat animal products like honey because it’s made by bees. She said, that’s stupid because bees aren’t animals. I explained that they are. She did not believe me. I explained that animals include the birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, insects, and so on. She replied, “That’s not true, birds aren’t animals”. When I said that indeed they are, she described what a bird was to me like I’m an idiot. She also disputed turtles. I think maybe she thought the word animals only included furry things, mammals, but I’m not really sure. To this day I think she thinks I’m an idiot who doesn’t even know what animals are.

I find shit like that can be settled real easy if someone's got a smartphone handy.

"Let's look it up right now" always works. 'Cause then either they have to start refusing actual definitions and examples, or they'll back off because deep down they know they're full of shit and are just bizarrely stubborn about things they don't think they'll be called on.

Also: Dunning-Kruger. Part of being ignorant is not knowing how ignorant you are.

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