It Must Be True Because I Made It Up (reality tunnel blindness)

the lurgy that felled Josie Long hovers over me, as this piece of writing may suggest. 

Surprisingly, it was almost two hours after my piece on religious advantage versus equality went online before someone said, “now write that about Muslims!”. This is a go to response of many who wish to take umbrage. “oh yeah, have a go at the soft targets like the poorly, frail and weeping Christians, you never have a go at a muscular pumped up Imam with a crossbow do you?”

It only takes a modicum of imagination or perception to realise that my article was about all religions, its Christian bent was by dint of it being a riposte to someone who had written an article predominantly focusing on Christian “oppression”. I thought plenty of sentences were clearly pointing at a smorgasbord of godly faiths, obviously not enough.

When I wrote –

“Evolution has supplied humans with minds that, with some effort, allow us to think for ourselves and to rise above the unquestionable, rigid dogma of a few prophets.”

That was not just Christian prophets, that was Jewish prophets and Muslim prophets too (though obviously there is hefty overlap with Abrahamic religion and their prophets).

When I wrote –

“the presumed superiority of morality cherry-picked from ancient books”

You could pop The Koran or The Talmud into that list in your imagination too, that was my intention. It is not to say there might not be interesting and useful ethical ideas in any of those books, but I believe a modern society can take the risk of a bit of freethinking when attempting morality, and not only justify oppression or violence by saying it was written down by some long dead desert scribe and so it is right.

“Someone wrote it down precisely so I don’t have to waste time thinking for myself, now let me point this cockerel in the right direction before I slit its throat”.

I am increasingly aware of how the reality of our world is infused by how we believe the world is or how we wish it to be; those reality tunnels of Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary again.

The correspondent who decried the lack of Islamic critiquing had been unable to read the article as intended because he has a world picture that sees “lucky, lucky Muslims” and “poor, poor downtrodden Christians”. Those lucky Muslims, they’ve got it all.

Under the long form version, the chaos of words that I had to spew out to clear my mind to write the concise version, I was pitied for believing all Christians were the same as Christian Concern and Cristina Odone, when many are kind and caring. This is despite numerous sentences such as –

“I find that amongst liberal atheists and liberal believers, there is a lot of common ground on many issues, those of poverty, health, equality. i even find this amongst some of the less liberal…”


“Many (Christians) are tired of so much of the media face of the religious being one of petty mindedness and judgement on others who may not live as certain excerpts of their texts insist they should.”

These were not hidden away, they were in the first two paragraphs, but the reader had decided to read this piece as the work of one of those angry Atheists that Richard Dawkins keeps in his ornate music box, so his reading eyes were blind to those sentences.

It is something to be wary of at all times, but the trick of our minds that means that most of us colour what we read with our biases. It is useful when creating that self justifying ire that can keep us babbling.

I haven’t risked reading too far down the comments section under the article yet, though I was pleased to see a Methodist minister or two in agreement with the basic gist of the piece. As I have said before, this is not an argument between the godly and the godless, it is an argument fired up by a subsection of the godly who wish to speak for all and tell them how to live too.

What some of those agitators depend upon is to stir up the faithful to believe they are under attack, even if there is no evidence for it. If they can bend and shape the reality they believe they are experiencing, then they’ll leave their more liberal positions for fear that without being hardline, their chapels and communion wafers will be rent asunder and turned to ash.

I do not believe we can be truly objective, but I do think we can sharpen the understanding of the biases we possess and occasionally catch ourselves out and notice those moments when we may be more preposterous than we realised. There is nothing wrong with realising you are a silly fucker sometimes, even though it does dent that certainty on your self that some wear as armour, even if it does make a deafening, rusty squeak that they are oblivious to.

This might be a FOOTNOTE or it may not be, frankly, it might have less to do with the above words than I imagined.

When I was in Horsham, I started to think about ghosts. Most of you reading this have probably seen a ghost. Some of you, after the initial heart mumble and bug-eyed jog trot through the cemetery you wish you hadn’t used as a short cut, have thought on it further.

You have thought of your pattern seeking mind, of the your raised fears when making a solitary, midnight journey, you have looked at the shapes of the tombs, and you have surmised that you have played a trick on yourself. You confront the image of the deceased and see that a gnarled branch and a ribbon were, for a split second, the angry dead come to suck the soul out of your nose. But if you come from a background that believes in ghosts, and you have not been drawn to reading about the nature of the human mind and the illusions awaiting you, you have just seen a ghost and that is that. No one is needed to persuade you it is not a ghost, because they are part of your world. To hell with the sceptics, they’ll never understand. So do you want to live in a world of ghosts, or did you want to do the reading and experiments that confront them and dismiss them? Or do you do the reading and then decide believing ghosts are just a mixture of figments of imagination and patterns is exactly what the evil dead want you to believe so they can get away with their evil plans?

Earlier I tweeted “Embarrassment in UKIP as councillor’s declaration on same sex marriage causing floods means he believes climate change IS caused by humans.” Then I received a tweet saying that this was ridiculous as it still suggested that climate change was caused by God not man and anyway that still didn’t mean AGW was true. Damn, meaning just seems to get harder and harder, and I don’t know of the tweeter saying that has misunderstood or whether he is reeling me in too.

I am off to Edinburgh, Falmouth, Eastbourne, Uckfield, Sheffield, Bristol, Cardiff and, HEY, a town near you, very soon. All details of that, DVDs etc HERE

The Cosmic Genome App with the likes of Dawkins, Cox, Goldacre, Roberts, Czerski and many more is HERE

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9 Responses to It Must Be True Because I Made It Up (reality tunnel blindness)

  1. René Peters says:

    Hi Robin,

    Are tickets still available for The Infinite Monkey Cage or have they been recorded already?

    Am based in London so any info would be great…

    Big fan!

    Cheers René

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. lanceleuven says:

    That tweet was excellent! The fact it was so misunderstood makes it even funnier (to me anyhows). 🙂

    As an aside, I thought your recent article in the New Stateman (Christians aren’t being driven out of public life – they’re just losing their unfair advantages) was excellent. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Dave says:

    “It is something to be wary of at all times, but the trick of our minds that means that most of us colour what we read with our biases. It is useful when creating that self justifying ire that can keep us babbling.”

    What use is the tainted babbling? Wouldn’t it be more useful to minimise the bias as much as possible and speak with a clearer mind?

    • robinince says:

      yes, I think it would be, but some people prefer self justified ire and being “right” than confronting the possibility that evidence may counter their opinion.

      • Scurra says:

        Which is why we have had governments refusing to legislate on simple things like plain cigarette packaging or minimum alcohol pricing without extensive consultation and evidence-based research, but those same governments are willing to completely restructure the entire health, education and social security systems merely on the basis that they “believe” it will be a good thing…
        Anyone who says that religious believers are closed minded really need to look at politicians to see how it’s done properly.

      • Dave says:

        On reflection I believe the ‘babbling’ may have a usefulness in creating new ideas, maybe a two stage process, first a total free rein from suppression of bias in creating an idea, second a critical evaluation of the idea accounting for biases. Which presupposes that we are aware when we are ‘babbling’, which I think was your original point.

  4. mraemiller says:

    “now write that about Muslims!”

    Someone said that to me recently and after abour a day I suddenly thought …but I’ve got 13 pages on our website sending up Sunni / Shia sectarian problems and differences in Iraq following the invasion … and only one poking fun at Christianity …Doesnt matter … I still get members of the EDL/UKIP accusing me of political correctness.
    People do indeed see only what they want to see.
    What do I have to do to get accused of Islamophobica ………….?

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