Where there’s smoke …

16 Feb

Freezing is Hazardous to Your Health:  The Irrationalism of Reason without Sensibility

This is an interesting essay by Sam Harris; just one problem with it.  It points out the ludicrousness of a rationalism that’s devoid of reasonableness.  What do I mean? Mainly this … It’s true smoke (and woodsmoke) is bad for you from a medical and health-related point of view.  But so is freezing to death.  Try to stay warm by our modern amenities when they’re scarce or unavailable and you begin to see the problem with this argument. Anything will do when it comes to saying alive versus freezingeven that dirty, unhealthy wood fire … Oh, and natural gas is not so good for you either.

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http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-fireplace-delusion

The Fireplace Delusion

It seems to me that many nonbelievers have forgotten—or never knew—what it is like to suffer an unhappy collision with scientific rationality. We are open to good evidence and sound argument as a matter of principle, and are generally willing to follow wherever they may lead.

However, I recently stumbled upon an example of secular intransigence that may give readers a sense of how religious people feel when their beliefs are criticized. It’s not a perfect analogy, as you will see, but the rigorous research I’ve conducted at dinner parties suggests that it is worth thinking about. We can call the phenomenon “the fireplace delusion.”

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