Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

Being polite

July 13th, 2008 Posted in General, Paranormal

Yes, I’m British and as such I’m supposed to be infuriatingly polite to pretty much everyone, often to my own detriment. And I think I probably am, except for that seething resentment that pretty much all British people retain quietly under their skin for the sort of things that people from other countries just complain about openly.

Are we too polite to people with crazy claims?  I know that several noted skeptics, most obviously James Randi, are well renowned for having very little patience for people claiming paranormal abilities, but is that the most effective way to deal with them? Other skeptics insist on a policy of tolerance, polite analysis and then calm, logical debate.  But I’m not sure that works. Is this a case of ‘you’ve got to be cruel to be kind’?

There’s a very well known parable about the sun and the wind both competing to see who can get a passing stranger to remove his coat the quickest.  The wind blows as hard as he can and all the man does is to tighten his coat every time; then the sun takes over, shines brightly, and the man takes off his coat by his own choice. That’s an effective analogy for the advantages of careful, reasoned argument against bitch fights. But does a reasoned argument in one ear work against people who are, in the other ear, being indoctrinated with extreme emotive propaganda?

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