Critical Thinking

An Example of How NOT to Communicate Effectively

So as a follow-up to my post yesterday regarding, open, honest and clear communication, I wanted to share this response from Barry today about a question on another post (Well that’s a shame…) I made back in May.  I don’t think the timing could have been more perfect.  I’m not sure what took so long for him to answer and why I had to moderate his comment and allow it on my site even though I have already approved his commenting on here, but that doesn’t matter.  All that matter is that I have an answer.

NOTE:  It’s been edited for space considerations.  This is the complete answer to my question, but the part of the complete reply that has been removed, deals with another debate regarding quakerism and is not relevant to this question.  If you wish to see the response in its entirety, go to the Well that’s a Shame… post on this blog and you’ll see this comment at the end of the reply chain.

Anyways, if you want you have a fantastic idea of what it is like to converse with a person who can’t say what he means and mean what he says, who has to talk in endless, meaningless, useless, pointless caveats, then here it is, in all its glory.

QUESTION:  So I guess I will ask the question then Barry.  Do you believe in God(s) (of any kind)?  Yes or No?

ANSWER:
Ashley, that’s like demanding a Yes or No answer to the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?“. Sometimes it’s not possible to give a simple yes or no.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll answer the question as if you’d asked “Do you believe in the existence of god(s) in a literal sense?“. No. If I was asked “Which is more likely: We find evidence that proves the existence of god(s) or we find evidence that proves giant moa still roam the Fiordland rainforests“, then I would choose the latter. I see as much evidence for god(s) as I do for flying pigs. Where am I giving myself wriggle room that you repeatedly claim I give myself? How many more times do I have to repeat this?

To summarise: (a) I do not believe in the existence of deities (or gods). (b) I live life based on the belief that there is that of God in everyone. I don’t believe either statement is in conflict with atheism or Quakerism. If the two statements cause you a problem, ponder what I might mean by “of God” (Hint: it’s not literal).

I love the comment about asking me where he is giving himself the wiggle room that I claim he gives himself after a) inserting the useless “literal sense” caveat into my original question and b)answers another question I didn’t even ask.

But seriously though, is there a point in me critiquing this nonsensical gibberish?

NEW DEVELOPMENT:

It gets even better!

Why is it so hard to answer the question “Do you believe in god(s) – Yes or No?  Because this!:  Barry’s answer: No doubt that’s true for you, but for me to answer it, I need to make assumptions about what you mean by “believe in” and “god(s)”.

 

 

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13 thoughts on “An Example of How NOT to Communicate Effectively

  1. I have explained why I added “literal sense” on the original post (a problem of differentiating between literal and figurative).

    The comments regarding the moa and flying pigs are there for emphasis. Yes, they are redundant but I wanted to make abundantly clear that I don’t believe in deities.

    Finally, the summary was just that. Neither (a) nor (b) were direct replies to specific questions. If you wanted me to not respond to your comments, but reply to your question on gods and nothing else, you should have said so.

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    • Yes, I guess we can all have trouble differentiating between our literal and our figurative gods (the ones you say you don’t believe in – at least the literal ones anyways). I mean there’s so many to keep track of, who knows which ones you’re talking about unless you specify right?
      Good f*&king grief.
      Oh and thanks for the “that of God” video in my other post (the one that I told you not to bother responding to because I’m not going to read or answer it, but you did anyways). That’s some pretty profound shit right there buddy.
      Apparently “That of God” means:
      – Everyone brings something different to this world.
      – Every situation that each individual comes to, you bring your “portion”, your “connection”, your “that of god”, your “light” into that situation. (bonus points for this persons use of the very phrase she’s trying to explain, in her explanation of it – fantastic stuff).
      – If you’re religious, you have some type of god in you, that will always be there no matter what.
      – There’s something spiritually alive in every human being and you may not know it or feel it right away.
      – You have to treat everyone with respect and view everyone as your equal.
      – Everyone has access to “The Truth” but what’s interesting to the interviewee is that the truth might be different to different people.
      – An inner light that’s in us that’s our core and our inner self.
      – God resides in the heart of men, so instead of having faith in religion and some omnipotent being, you should have faith in yourself.
      – It makes me (the interviewee) kind of change how I think about people I don’t like or that I think are bad but they’re not completely bad because everyone has a little bit of god in them.
      – Not everyone is perfect (not even god).
      – Every human being on earth has some inherent dignity. There’s some goodness inside of every person. And maybe even divinity or god-like nature in them.
      – It’s our responsibility to do “his” will and support “him” and try to be like “him” in any way we can.
      – Everyone has a god or some essence in them and if we’re quiet and listen to our inner voice, we can “tune in” to him or this essence and we would know “in which direction to go” or “what to do”
      – Good people, bad people, god is with them all the time.
      – There’s kindness in everyone.
      – There’s a lot of god in us and we can be perfect if we try.
      – There is something that goes beyond entirely rational understanding about a persons character that is within them and manifests itself in the way they act and think. It comes from a place that can be considered divine.

      Wow! That really cleared that up didn’t it! Runs the whole gambit from “people are good” to spiritual mumbo-jumbo to divine command theory and everything in between.
      I am very glad that you posted that video Barry. If this idiotic nonsense makes sense to you, then I submit that you have absolutely no capacity whatsoever for critical thought. That video is nothing more than vacuous, mind-numbing, useless, idiotic gibberish. It explains nothing. There’s not even a scintilla of consensus among any of the answers. Aside from the vacuous “there’s good in everybody” or “everybody is different” statements, there’s no way any of these people could know any of the things that they claim to know. There’s no way they could prove it. It’s all conjecture and MADE UP BULLSHIT.
      That that video appeals to you, and you’d post that as an explanation for saying why you believe that there is “that of god” in everyone, tells me everything I need to know about how you think.

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      • What is there to prove? Those statements are simply how various individuals apply the concept of “that of God” in their lives – how they view relationships with others. If someone were to say to you that they believe all people are valuable and have equal worth and should be treated accordingly, would you demand that they prove it? Would you say that that it’s made up bullshit? When the sum of those comments are taken as a whole, they do make a statement that all people should be valued, and treated with dignity. Yet because of the way they are expressed you see it as idiotic gibberish. And why shouldn’t each person express it differently? There is no definition of what “that of God” means. There’s no creed to learn for Quakers to recite when asked for a meaning. It’s up to each person to form their own understanding in the light of their own experiences.

        The video doesn’t explain why I believe there is “that of God” in everyone. It doesn’t and can’t prove anything about what I believe. How is it possible to prove how I believe I should treat other people other than how I go about my daily life? What the video does do is give voice to how some Quakers understand the meaning of “that of God”.

        If you add them all up they express a theme which goes something like like this:
        All people have worth.
        All people have equal worth, but each of us is different.
        We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
        Men do not have authority over women.
        Men and women have equal worth.
        Humankind is not “fallen”: we are not born into sin.
        We are all capable of good and evil, but if we try to reach the good in others they are less likely to return evil.
        Don’t ignore the suffering in others.
        Act to reduce the causes of violence and wars.
        “God’s kingdom” is in the here and now – it’s up to us as to whether it becomes a “heaven” or a “hell”.
        Don’t lie or deceive others.
        Respect and value differences in people.
        I could go on, but hopefully you’ll get my drift. Personally, I find it easier and quicker to say “that of God in everyone” than recite a long list of objectives. You can call it mumbo jumbo if you wish, but it doesn’t lessen it’s value as a basis for how I live.

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        • “What’s there to prove?”

          “If you’re religious, you have some type of god in you” – HOW DOES THIS PERSON KNOW THIS?
          “There’s something spiritually alive in every human being and you may not know it or feel it right away.” WHAT IS THIS “SOMETHING SPIRITUALLY ALIVE” THIS PERSON IS REFERRING TO? HOW DOES THIS PERSON KNOW THIS? HOW DOES SHE KNOW THAT “YOU MAY OR MAY NOT FEEL IT RIGHT AWAY”?
          “Everyone has access to “The Truth” …but truth might be different to different people.” WHAT IS THIS “TRUTH” THAT THIS PERSON SPEAKS OF? HOW DOES HE KNOW EVERYONE HAS “ACCESS TO IT”? HOW DOES HE KNOW IT’S DIFFERENT FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE?
          “An inner light that’s in us that’s our core and our inner self.” WHAT IS THIS “INNER LIGHT” THAT THIS PERSON SPEAKS OF? HOW DOES HE KNOW IT’S “IN US”? “There is something that goes beyond entirely rational understanding about a persons character….It comes from a place that can be considered divine.” WHAT IS THIS “SOMETHING” THAT THIS PERSON SPEAKS OF? HOW DOES THIS PERSON KNOW THIS? HOW DOES HE KNOW IT COMES FROM A “DIVINE PLACE”?
          What’s there to prove? Oh nothing Barry. Nothing at all.

          Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you think all people have worth, then say that. If you think everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, then say that. If you don’t think we should ignore the suffering in others, then say that. There’s no need for the “that of god” or any other cryptic pseudo-profound rambling gibberish. You might find it easier to spout that kind of nonsense, but for those of us who are committed to rational thinking and understanding, it creates more questions than it answers.
          You know what I learned from that video Barry? Nothing I already didn’t know. That people, instead of trying to learn about the world around them rationally, using critical thinking skills, relying on evidence-adduced explanations and admitting that when they don’t know or they don’t understands something, they make up or believe whatever geographically related nonsense appeals to them to compensate for the profound ignorance that they won’t or can’t admit they harbour. People the world over believe the most ridiculous stuff its possible to believe in. From gods to UFOs to spirits to mystical energies and lights, to big foots….the list goes on and on and on. They can speak in whatever cryptic language they want. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s all MADE UP BULLSHIT.

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    • I had a fairly long conversation with Barry on his blog regarding Quakerism and what he believes and doesn’t believe. The way it was left was in a state of utter confusion on my part. The further along the conversation went, the worse it got. Explanations that directly contradicted earlier statements, meaningless gibberish and when all else failed, he simply called whatever previous statement he made a “metaphor”.
      Nothing he said made any sense. Nothing he said explained anything. Quite the contrary actually. It was just made up nonsense as he went along. It was absolutely brutal.

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  2. Yes it certainly sounded like that’s what he tried to describe Quakerism as – as having no creed. Which sounded an awful lot like anyone can literally believe anything they like and call themselves a Quaker.
    However, his whole schpiel on testimonies, how he considers them fundamental principals and how you can’t have beliefs contrary to those testimonies threw that that whole idea out the window.
    Just when you think it’s a rather loose and non committal religious view, bam, it’s not. He’s doing everything he can to have his cake and eat it too.
    I’m to the point now that all I can do is merely point out how flawed his thinking is rather than try to understand it. He routinely changes the meaning of words on the fly to suit his needs. Whenever there is a statement that needs further explanation, or it is pointed out that it contradicts an earlier statement, it always turns out to be some kind of metaphor.
    Now I understand that he has aspergers and that this impairs his ability to communicate. How much of this is due to his condition and how much is due to his religiosity, I don’t know. In any event, communication with him is next to impossible.

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