keane

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Scope Insensitivity

I suppose in a world where people have limited time and have other priorities, we often glaze over the numbers and don't think about what they really mean in terms of magnitude. I also think desensitization due to the mass media has something to do with it -- we are shown statistics and huge numbers all them time for scenarios much worse (war deaths, crimes, disease deaths), so a number as large as 200,000 birds saved wouldn't make anyone bat an eye -- it just becomes another number in the book.

Scope Insensitivity

 Encouraging students to think again prompted them to be less generous to Rokia, but not more generous to everyone else in Mali.

 Interesting study. What was the reason given for the warned students not giving more money to everyone in Mali?

Preface

I like this. A good reminder that we can say "oops" and that being able to say admit mistakes doesn't mean you're terrible, but rather that you've improved along the way. Reminds me of when I read my writing from years ago. It made me cringe, but it's refreshing to know that I can see how much I've been able to improve.

No, Really, I've Deceived Myself

So although she does not receive any benefit of believing in God—because she doesn't—

I would disagree. She does receive a benefit—by the Bible, faith in God would save her from Hell. My guess is that she deceives herself into believing in God because she wants to go to heaven in case God actually does exist. 

I personally do this, and it seems consistent with what you described in this post. As you pointed out, she doesn't seem to ACTUALLY believe in God, only acts as if she does. I do the same. I pray sometimes, I tell myself that I believe in God, but I have never said, "There is a God." I don't think I truly believe in Him. Yet, I still "believe in God" just in case the Bible is right. 

Now that I've admitted this, I'm curious to know if this is just me being a terrible person or if this is something others have considered before.

How to Not Lose an Argument

Definitely a great point offered up here and a well-thought out technique that I'd like to try in subsequent debates. Though I think it would be nice to see an example of how leaving a line of retreat would play out. For the example given:

"Let's say you approach a theist (let's call him Theo) and say "How can you, a grown man, still believe in something stupid like talking snakes and magic sky kings? Don't you know you people are responsible for the Crusades and the Thirty Years' War and the Spanish Inquisition? You should be ashamed of yourself!"

This suggests the following dichotomy in Theo's mind: EITHER God exists, OR I am an idiot who believes in stupid childish  things and am in some way partly responsible for millions of deaths and I should have lower status and this arrogant person who's just accosted me and whom I already hate should have higher status at my expense."

What's the best strategy to employ so that Theo is able to retreat? In other debates, what's the best way to come up with such strategies?