Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to be Sieve-Minded

By: William G. Muir
In my early to mid twenties I decided I was a open-minded person; I was willing to listen to all sides of the argument before I decided which side I was on. Even if I already had a side I would be open to new information to challenge what I believed. I find it is important to always question the things you hold dear more then you do everything else in the world.

I was proud of the fact that I was open-minded, for a few years. That was until I discovered the radio program Coast-to-Coast. They showcase the paranormal, conspiracy theories and other types of woo-woo. At first I thought this show was mostly harmless. I enjoyed listening to it; I thought of it as just entertainment. But as I continued to listen I soon learned that the people on this show were serious about all the nonsense they were talking about.

The guest are given a platform to spew their views on such subjects as ghost, UFOs, big foot, secret societies without any challenge from the host. So they can say whatever they like without anyone expecting them to back up their information. These people never faced having evidence destroy their arguments.

Coast-to-Coast is much like the four Gospels in New Testament of the Bible. One night, for example, they will have a guest 'expert' on ghosts and hauntings. The host will let the guest tell his stories and what he believes in. This “expert” will give all his rules on this topic, and never once does the host question any of this. A week or two or three later (this is important) the topic of ghost and hauntings will be the topic of the night, but this time there is a new “expert”; they will  tell their stories and their rules for this topic. Then some more time passes and another “expert” is on to given their point of view on this subject.

Now while “expert” A says something different than “expert” B and “experts” A and B say something different then “expert” C is saying. Even though all three guest have different views, there are still some points that flow through all their views. These are usually things that date back to earlier times, say the dark ages. If you listen to these shows on the night they are on, you may not notice the differences.

Now here is were the comparison to the Gospels comes into play. If you read the Gospels in a vertical way, you may notice small differences in the stories, but for the most part the Gospel stories seem to all be the same. But if you take and read the Gospels horizontally (side-by-side) you notice that the Gospels may be telling the same story, but they do not agree on that story at all. The same way with the “experts” A, B, C on ghost and hauntings. They all agree that there are ghost and haunting, they just don’t agree on how these things take place.

Worst then the guest and the host are the listeners that call in. They are most credulous group of people that you will ever meet. While the guest may come on spewing nonsense, and the host does not challenge the “experts” the callers take what they have heard and not only believe it, but they take what they have heard and combine it with all other types of woo-woo. The worst of these callers are the ones that take all the things they hear on Coast-to-Coast and give their views on how this all fits in with Christianity. Even the though Church speaks about such nonsense, the callers can find verses that they interpret so they can believe all this stuff.

One of the things you will always hear these people say, that they are open-minded. The amazing thing is that these people are open to every ideal out there except for facts, the truth and science. They will believe anything that someone will tell them, as long as there is no evidence for it, but if you show them something reality based, they will reject it every time.

I soon decided that I was not open-minded after all, or at least not as open-minded as these people are. But I was not closed minded either.

Soon other events in my life keep me from me having time to listening to Coast-to-Coast. I just could not stay up in the middle of the night and listen to nut-jobs, and I was not going to spend money I did not have to be able to listen to the show whenever I wanted to.

What I soon did discover was skeptical podcast. My first podcast was The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. Here I found people that believe in science, evidence and facts, all things that I believed in. Also they would say that you should not believe something just because they said it, they were not experts, that you should look this stuff up for yourself. Something that you never heard on Coast-to-Coast. All the “experts” on Coast-to-Coast claim to be the authorities on what they are talking about, and those people that do not agree with them are part of a conspiracy against them.

The skeptical podcast were a breath of fresh air.

So I am not open-minded, I am not close-minded, but what is it that I do believe in? I come up with an answer, I am Sieve-minded. What does this mean? Sieve-minded means I take in all available knowledge and my mind will keep what makes sense, what is supported by evidence, facts and science, and all else falls straight on through. I believe this describes how I think.

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