Most people who meet me would, I think, consider that I'm a fairly easy-going chap, not prone to outbursts of vitriolic invective or uncompromising rage.
I'm usually prepared to accommodate people's foibles and make allowances for mild idiosyncrasies. This makes for a quite life, without avoidable friction. And it's fine as far as it goes. It's fine if others are prepared to be included in the give and take. But being easy-going doesn't mean you need to be a doormat. There comes a time when easy-going ceases to be a beneficial strategy. When others won't play by the rules, and take advantage of someone's attitude of tolerance, that's when the normally meek and mild need to take a firm stand.
Nowhere is this more important in today's multicultural world than in matters of belief — especially unsubstantiated belief. That's why, in the matter of the current belief/non-belief/accommodationist debate, I'm firmly on the side of Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers.
"Accommodationism" is all very fine and dandy, but it doesn't work. Giving leave to those who proclaim unsubstantiated belief to have sway over matters that are capable of objective substantiation simply opens the gate to mysticism and woo. Whether it's "alternative" medicine being endorsed by the National Health Service, or the validity of moral edicts derived from ancient scripture, those of us who base our lives on what is objectively true have a duty to point out unsubstantiated assertion, especially if someone is attempting to influence decisions that will affect other people. It's no good attempting to excuse behaviour of this sort with words of conciliation. Unsupported, dangerous nonsense should be stamped on, forthwith.
Believers in woo can be left to wallow in their fantasies, but the moment they become purveyors of woo they implicitly open themselves to public scrutiny, and we should not be shy in calling them on anything that appears to fail the evidential test. Assertions not grounded in evidence should be brought into the light of rational analysis, even to the extent of naming and shaming. The purveyors of woo, be they magical thinkers or faith-based dogmatists, should be made to account for their claims or else withdraw them. Those who refuse should be publicly shunned.
"But your reality isn't the only one," they say. "What's real for you, isn't necessarily real for us." OK, fine. Show me your "reality". Show me, in particular, what makes you think it's real. Show me the evidence. If you won't, then don't expect me or anyone else to give it credence.
There is a line to be drawn, and it's here. I'm an easy-going chap, most of the time. Rant over.
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