Why Do People Hate Skeptics?

Randi answers a listener question about why atheists and skeptics are hated by so many and posits some theories on what we can do about it.

One Response to “Why Do People Hate Skeptics?”

  1. erikh says:

    Hi Mr. Randi,

    I listened to your podcast excited to hear a new take on this position, and while I do find your answers well-moderated, I must admit these aren’t new things.

    I would like to propose an alternate theory to this problem, which is just human nature at its best…

    Belief of this nature is so personal that it’s impossible to dictate it with logic or reason. You can advocate it, but that’s part of the problem; advocating a personal choice to people like it’s the only logical option flies in the face of, well, a personal choice.

    In this way atheism (and to a lesser degree, raw skepticism) is a religion in that it intends to prove that its core belief is the only belief; and while that may be founded in logic and reason, it’s not any less annoying to hear than someone who knocks on your door and tells you that their belief is any better.. And this goes much farther than religion.. For example, in the last few weeks I have met no less than 3 politicians running in my area trying to get my vote, and while being very polite about the whole subject, went to great lengths to sway my personal choice.

    I guess what I think you missed ultimately is the fact that you can tell people what atheism is, but when you start telling them that its the only real choice is when they hate it. We see this play out in religion all the time at grander scales, because religion has holy treasures that are often fiercely fought over; hell, the American Revolutionary War is a great example, even if it wasn’t (in spirit) for a specific sect.

    Greater society typically ostracizes and protests (or worse) against political leaders who use religion as the foundation of their leadership; I would hope I don’t have to name names here, but the point is hopefully clear… people like having this personal choice, it defines their moral compass, it defines (yes, even for atheists) who they are.

    Being able to logically define the origin or existence of something less personal is considerably detached in comparison. I also believe that the traditionally religious tend to view a faith as having morality and those who don’t have a faith as amoral. Perhaps that is what you should be addressing — this misconception — instead of attempting to convince people that god doesn’t exist. Ultimately people are judged on their behavior, but as I’m sure you know, first impressions count for a lot.

    I hope this is not too long, and I’m glad that a friend sent me over here, as I really enjoy what I’ve heard so far. Thank you for your organization and show!

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