0006 - Dysevidentia Links and Responses

https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/dysevidentia-links-and-responses - Sqeaky has a rant about Pascal's wager, and with Mako they discuss Pop-Psychology diagnoses, Antivax links to white nationalism (and other bullshit), and we discuss responses to the gun myth episode.

The Full Rant Text [1:55] -

After the Gun myth’s episode I got into more arguments on social media than I normally do. Understandably most were about guns, which me and Mako discuss later this episode.

I find it noteworthy how often these arguments turned to racism or religion with no prompting by me. Some people get so worked up when one thing  doesn’t make sense in their life, then they lash out wildly. I never brought up race or religion first, because they aren’t needed to hammer home the points the numbers make in the guns argument.

Maybe people made guns a core part of their identity and lashed out in defense any way they could. Maybe they stereotyped me as someone who would call them racist, I wonder how they developed that mental reflex.

Somehow Pascal’s wager came up several times. These people kept trying to convince me, the godless heathen, using this tired argument. For those not familiar the basic idea goes like this: believing in god costs nothing if you are wrong and not believing in god dooms you to hell if you are wrong. So one should believe in god because there are possible gains and nothing to lose.

Let’s ignore the real harm that comes with religion, we will tackle that plenty with the Anti-vax connections later this episode, and we can ignore the general anti-science sentiment we discuss that a lot. We can also ignore that evidence based reasoning flies us to the moon and the religious based reasoning that flies planes into buildings.

This argument is often put forward by religious types in an attempt to convince us atheists as though we had never heard this before. People advancing this idea act like it is so powerful an argument that it is irrefutable ignoring that a dim child might have the wits to make it crumble on first inspection.

Such a dim child might point out that they have a classmate with a different religion who could use the wager on their religion. They might even point out religions they heard of but know nothing about except that they exist and have different gods. So which god do you wager with?

Someone, but probably not that dim child, versed in history might point out that Pascal didn’t use the wager to push belief in god, but rather to show the idea as unfalsifiable. For those not familiar unfalsifiable means that it cannot be rationally inspected or checked with evidence, and such ideas are generally best to discard. Pascal still wanted to make believers, rather he took a different more nuanced stance.

His wager also crumbles under the details of many beliefs. If you claim to believe but don’t believe in your heart or fail to say some magic words some versions of god will still condemn you to hell.

All of these are great reasons to ignore this shitpile of an argument.

I think the best reason to ignore it is that when asked no one ever claims Pascal’s wager is what made them start or stop believing in god. Ok, there will be that one contrarian oddball claiming that, but I am not ignoring the larger body of evidence I have seen in countless online debates and in active recruiting efforts.

When asked, a huge number of people who converted to some belief picked it up when they were at their most vulnerable, like in a 12-step program around the part where they acknowledge a higher power or after some horrible disease took a loved one and some preacher directed them to a church instead of a therapist.

On the flip side, most converting to nothing just got hammered repeatedly by logic and saw failings in their previous theology. I am relying on personal experience for that one rather than sources, I have only seen it dozens of times firsthand.

Pascal’s wager is something a person reaches to shore up their belief as a matter of cherry picking or motivated reasoning, it isn’t the lynchpin of any proselyzer’s belief. I put some links for further reading on the wager in the show notes, don’t take my word for it. I think I might be stepping too close to one of Noah Lugeon’s diatribes, but I can’t find right now so I will include his book in the links. I doubt he will mind, he understand that there is only so much that can be said to refute a centuries old argument that only gets dragged out by those who have no clue how their beliefs spread.


Wikipedia on Pascal’s wager - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

RationalWiki on Pascal’s wager - https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

Books on Pascal’s wager - https://amzn.to/3gkajO5

Good Books Sqeaky has read

Buy all of these, they are all great and Sqeaky has read all of them. These are all fantastic and we wholeheartedly recommend them all for skeptics and people suffering dysevidentia alike.


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