The Perspective Test

Christina here…

Here is a method one might employ to determine whether some argument you or someone else is making seems reasonable. This is best applied when thinking about your own perspective or when talking to people who tend to scoff at more logical arguments. It’s what I call The Perspective Test, or the What-if-someone-did-that-to-you? test, but can easily be used on yourself, I.E. What-if-I-did-that-to-someone-else?

Take whatever act is happening (whether it be acts of supposed oppression, arguments, etc) and pretend someone with a religious preference/political position/etc in opposition to yours is doing the same thing, and then see if you feel the same way about the line of reasoning. Or, pretend someone is doing the act to you, rather than you doing it to someone else.  This works especially well for civil rights issues, political issues or religious disagreements. It’s also a good way to gauge how convincing your argument or statement might sound to someone who holds a view in opposition to your own. Here are ten examples of how the Perspective Test might be employed.

1. Christian teachers are being  denied their free speech rights by not being allowed to lead classrooms of children in prayer during school hours.

Apply the Perspective Test:

 If a Muslim teacher wants to lead classrooms of children in prayer during school hours, are they being denied their free speech rights when they are not allowed?

If an atheist teachers wants to lead classrooms of children in recitations of an atheist mantra with the words “There are no gods, and Christianity is a myth” during school hours, are they being denied their free speech rights when they are not allowed?

Does it Still sound reasonable?

2. We are already treated equal; neither I nor queer people can marry someone of the same sex. Same-sex marriage is a right that no one has. EQUALITY.

Apply the Perspective Test:

We are already treated equal: neither I nor Christian people can marry someone of the same religion. Same-religion marriage is a right that no one has. EQUALITY.

We are already treated equal: neither I nor interracial couples can marry someone who isn’t the same race. Interracial marriage is a right that no one has. EQUALITY.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

3. Muslims should not be allowed to build a Mosque so close to the Twin Towers.

Apply the Perspective Test:

Christians should not be allowed to build churches near areas in which a U.S. plane bombed a village in the central province of Uruzgan.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

 4. Christians are being oppressed because a Ten Commandments monument is being removed from a public U.S.  courthouse building.

 

Apply the Perspective Test:

Muslims are being oppressed because a monument with verses from the Koran are being removed from a public U.S. courthouse building.

Atheists are being oppressed because a monument stating, “There are no gods” is being removed from a public U.S. courthouse building.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

5. Feminists shouldn’t have blogs or message boards that dissallow men, so as to be a “safe space” for discussions.

Apply the Perspective Test:

Atheists/LGBTQ people/ex-muslims shouldn’t have blogs or message boards that dissallow Christians(or some other majority oppressive group), so as to be a “safe space” for discussions.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

6. We shouldn’t even bother to respond to bad arguments made by theists. When we do, we’re giving them too much credit.

Apply the Perspective Test:

We should’t even respond to bad arguments made by atheists. When we do, we’re giving them too much credit.

We shouldn’t even respond to bad arguments made by Men’s Rights Activists, when we do, we’re giving them too much credit.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

 7. If my son or daughter decided to leave our christian faith and become an atheist, I’ll disown them.

Apply the Perspective Test:

If my son or daughter decided to stop being an atheist and becomes a Christian, I’ll disown them.

If my son or daughter decided to leave our Buddhist faith and become an Muslim, I’ll disown them.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

 8. Religion is just a way of controlling people.

Apply the Perspective Test:

Science is just a way of controlling people.

Atheism is just a way of controlling people.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

(Update: People don’t seem to like this example and I agree; this is a bad example. If someone comes up with a suitable replacement, I’ll put it here instead. Like maybe, “Religious people are just brainwashed”?)

 9. Atheists shouldn’t be allowed to put up billboards advertising their worldview.

Apply the Perspective Test:

Christians shouldn’t be allowed to put up billboards advertising their worldview.

Republicans shouldn’t be allowed to put up billboards advertising their worldview.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

 10. People who are pro-life just want to control women and take away all of their rights.* 

Apply the Perspective Test:

People who are pro-gun control just want to control everybody and take away all of their rights.

Does it Still sound reasonable?

 

A good way to apply the Perspective test when talking to other people is to ask, “Would you feel the same way if X?” or “Would you think the same way if Y?” or “Would it be reasonable to say Z?”

I bet you can think of more examples. Tell me about them in the comments!

*I can see why the analogy between pro-life and pro gun-control is not totally analogous since a larger proportion of pro-life people want abortion made entirely illegal whereas only a small proportion of gun control advocates want guns made entirely illegal, but you get the idea at least. My point: “pro-life people just want to control women” doesn’t sound very convincing to a pro-life person, just like “pro-gun control people just want to control everybody” doesn’t sound convincing to a pro gun control person, but let me know what you think.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

About christinastephens
  • Glodson

    It is a great list. But there’s a fatal flaw, the people in dire need of this test often have a blackbelt in Special Pleadings.

    • busterggi

      As well as being 8th degree Confirmation Biastrists.

  • wfenza

    I like the test. I often try to think that way when I’m having arguments with anyone about behavior, most notably in my personal life. “What if they were doing this to me?” is a powerful and useful question in any kind of disagreement where I think my behavior is right and someone else’s is wrong.

    However, I don’t think #8 really fits. “Religion is just a way of controlling people” is pretty clearly a factually inaccurate (or at the very least, lazy) statement. But I don’t think it works with the perspective test, because it’s not describing something that could be done to me or that I could do to someone else. It’s not an opinion or a way of behaving, it’s a factual statement.

    Furthermore, I think your examples create a false equivalence between religion, science, and atheism. For instance, I could say “Fascism is an authoritarian system” – which is true! Even though “democracy is an authoritarian system” doesn’t sound quite as reasonable (although my anarchist friends would probably disagree).

    By contrast, I think #10 DOES work quite nicely. I think it’s important for both advocates of gun control and advocates of abortion restrictions to recognize that they are, in fact, trying to control people.

  • http://www.dougberger.net Doug B.

    You lost me on number 8: Religion is used to control people. Anti-abortion laws, blue laws, blasphemy laws… and so on….

    • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

      Those laws are used to control people, and a lot of religious practices are used to control people… but not all religions do.

      • http://www.dougberger.net Doug B.

        For example???

  • baal

    Somewhat OT of me:

    Atheists are being oppressed because a monument stating, “There are no
    gods” is being removed from a public U.S. courthouse building.

    I sort of cannot imagine atheists going that far out of their way to indoctrinate. There are easier and more effective ways to get folks out of religions. Like good civil governance.

    @#5, heh, you’ve done it now. Your doom is upon you.

    @#8, aside from the mind control beams from HAARP (enhanced by fluoride, look it up people, this wasn’t approved by the secret cabal of lizardmen who run the show), science (or atheism) cannot control folks. Religion on the other hand, can be used effectively to support otherwise authoritarian social and political systems. So while the bolded part is simplistic, the test has a logical mis-sense.

  • sparkyb

    I like the test in general, but in some of the examples you used the perspective actually makes it seem more reasonable, some it just makes confusing, and some I don’t think are fair comparisons. For instance, #10, I see your point that when about gun control it is easy to see that people pro-gun control don’t want to control everyone, they just want to prevent unnecessary gun deaths, and so I should view people pro-life as not wanting to control women but just wanting to prevent fetal deaths. However, when you’re talking about motives, similar statements doesn’t necessarily require similar reasoning. And for that matter, it isn’t all or nothing. So yes, you shouldn’t assume that all pro-like people just want to control women, but I feel like it is still more likely that some do than that some gun control supports just want to control everyone. The other one I really don’t understand is #5. I’m less likely to support a female-only feminist community when you compare it to an LGBT community excluding Christians.

    • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

      #5 was actually an example of where I think a position still sounds reasonable when you apply the perspective test ^.^

  • Matthew Ostergren

    Thank you for this. It’s a really great tool for comparison.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    I think truth should matter too, though. And truthfully, when you dig down into pro-life arguments, a lot of them come down to “punish the woman who couldn’t keep her legs shut with an unwanted pregnancy and child”. That IS about controlling women and stripping them of (some, not all) rights. Thus I do not like that comparison, because while a lot of pro-lifers might not think that’s what they’re saying, it is.

    And yes, gun control laws control people. All laws control people. The reason we have laws is that, on some level, people need to be controlled or have external, socially mandated consequences to their actions. As a society, we weigh rights- life, liberty, free speech, bodily autonomy, gun ownership, control over personal property, privacy, freedom of conscience, food, housing, education, safety, etc, and decide in a very imperfect way which ones outweigh which other ones, which ones can be restricted, and when. It’s like a 300 million person LD debate with no judges and no time limits. Ranking of rights is important- which rights are more important than other rights? I am also firmly in favor of being consistent in applying rights to everyone across as many circumstances as possible, and find that if one has to say “except for X people”, it’s likely someone’s rights are being violated.

    To tie this all together, while saying a pro-lifer only wants to control women may not be an effective argument, it’s probably a true argument. The question of note is rather why that is a problem; we all clearly see it as one, but must convince the pro-lifer that forcibly controlling another’s body is more unethical than killing a (maybe-)person.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      And if anyone is curious, my personal view is that personal bodily autonomy is almost sacrosanct. Everyone has the right to control their own body. Thus, no one may situate hirself in anyone’s body nor take their organs, blood, or tissue without their permission. Everyone has the right to not be shot. I also put the “right to bear arms” at a much lower priority than personal autonomy. Thus, we have the right to restrict firearms to those unlikely to shoot people. Everyone has the right not to be poisoned. Thus, environmental regulations, food safety regulations, and so forth are required from an ethical society.

      This is, of course, incomplete and simplified. And I’m sure there are lots of edge cases and corner cases in which I’d come to a conclusion at odds with my stated philosophy. However, in general, this is how I approach the world. It seems like it’d lead to a world I want to live in and that others want to live in.

      • baal

        It’s hard to conceive of a free society* that doesn’t put a right to bodily autonomy up towards the front of the list. I’d also include a right not to be tracked and monitored as a primary freedom.

        *by any reasonable defn of free

        • invivoMark

          But how far does “bodily autonomy” go? Should we fluoridate water? Should we regulate drugs (prescription or recreational)? How do you feel about transhumanism? Should parents vaccinate their unconsenting children? Should we force parents to have their children vaccinated? Should the mentally unfit have equal rights to bodily autonomy? Does bodily autonomy continue after death, or should organ donation be mandatory?

          I think on many, if not most of these issues, I would actually lean away from the bodily autonomy side. I’m strongly pro-vaccination, I’m pro-fluoridation, and I’d like to see mandatory organ donation.

          • baal

            I’m making a strategic argument of the form, black letter rule & exceptions. The point of doing this is to make it easier to argue with folks for a humanist outcome. I don’t hold to the idea that the best way to argue is to take an extreme position and flog that position to death (like too many activists and pretty much all marketing people do).

            My agreement / assertion is that you start at the proposition that bodily autonomy is the best thing ever and then have to support deviations with facts and argument.

            The other option (end of the range of options) is to start with the default that the government can use your body for any social good it imagines. The eugenics movement in the early 1900 in the us and continuing much later steralized low IQ folks and minorities. There was the abhorrent and shameful Tuskeegee Airmen Sysphillus case. In China, there are endless rumors of prisoners body parts being sold w/o consent or with coerced consent. Saddly, I could go on for a very long time.

            I agree with your exceptions and further assert they are empiracally proveable goods. I’m pro-vaccination but it’s incumbant on the pro-vax people (as folks deviating from the rule) to remind folks of the diseases (maybe just small pox, polio is maybe soon since the Gates foundation is after it) that are gone now and the collective rights of parents to not have their kids die from whooping cough, measles etc. Fluoride is similarly supportable. Mandatory organ donation has an ‘ick’ factor working against it but the primary resistance arguments are religiously based. I support it too but that’s a long argument ill skip here.

            For me, the point is what’s the basic morally and ethically rule to pound on and then burden the deviations with proving up their exceptions. The problem I see with the marketing approach is that it overlooks the harms of taking a predominately good position too far and tends to presuppose conclusions into the foundation of their arguments.

            —-
            side note – the example of atheism activism.
            Ever notice that even anti-theist atheists tend to argue for secularism and not for governmental suppression of religion? I think this is awesome and follows the strategic argument model I posit above. The general rule is that you get to have your religion but so do I. Since we have equal rights as one citizen vs another, the government should bugger off and not be used to support either of us. We do then further argue that deviations are ok but it’s up to the group wanting the exception to prove up the deviation they want. Notice the christians pretty much always assume that they are good and their wants are a good for everyone (including non-christians). We make fun of them for that and often point out those assumptions as examples of christian privilege. It’s a bad way to argue.

            You may also note if you read my endless blathering enough that I try to hold eveyone to this same standard and push for folks to assert rules that could at least is theory by carried out by everyone and burden the deviants to make their points. As a corollary, you can test a neutral theory by asking “what would this rule do to society if we applied it without exception and dogmatically”.

            I tend to run on but here’s an example of how to tell what’s a neutral rule or not. Take a ‘neutral rule’ for marriage. You get to marry one person you want to marry. I like slightly better this rule “You get to marry anyone who can provide legal consent.” Other varients are less neutral – the christians like, “you get to marry one person of the opposite sex” This isn’t all that neutral since it demands opposite sex. Racists like, “you get to marry one person opposite sex and only same race.” Clearly more restrictive and less neutral. You can make minor variations on the base rule to tease out what’s neutral and what is not. )

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Pretty much what Baal said. Anything taken to extremes is going to be pretty bad, and so empirical goods and evidence of harm/help mitigate any tendency towards extremes.

            So maybe I should put empirical evidence and rationality as ‘values’ I hold even over personal bodily autonomy? I haven’t actually charted/mapped out how I feel about everything, just thought about it a lot. I’m a firm proponent of real-world implications- if it sounds great and is philosophically consistent, and actually hurts people, don’t do it!

          • invivoMark

            I think we pretty much agree, and I didn’t think I was proving anyone wrong by pointing out instances where bodily autonomy oughtn’t be paramount.

            When discussing ethics, I personally tend to avoid weighing “values” (bodily autonomy, freedom, safety, etc.), because those things mean different things to different people, and in different situations, and none of them really outweighs all the others. I think they can be useful placeholders to stand for the “good” that comes of taking a course of action (legal abortion => bodily autonomy => a good thing), but if we end up discussing that action with someone who interprets those values differently, they can also be a distraction (making people say things such as… well, all that crap I said in my other post ;-) ).

            I don’t rank rationality or bodily autonomy as universal values. Fluoridating public water makes people healthier, therefore happier. Legal abortion saves women’s lives, and lets them have families when and how they want to, and therefore makes people happier.

            But again, I don’t think I’m saying anything profound here, or anything either of you don’t already know.

    • Christopher Stephens

      When I argue with pro-lifers, not one out of a hundred of them will actually say that abortion should not be an option because having sex was wrong, or that a child is the natural and just punishment for sex, etc. I totally agree that some pro-life arguments entail that premise, but it’s almost never a conscious position held by pro-lifers.

      When I argue with an anti-abortionist, one of the first things I’ll ask is whether they’re against birth control. If they are, you bet I’ll explain how more birth control obviously reduces abortion, and so these two positions of theirs are clearly contradictory … unless their goal is actually to punish women for having sex.

      But there’s huge swaths of folks that are against abortion on the completely honest (if grossly mistaken) basis that they believe that an embryo is a person, and thus killing it is equivalent to murder. Unless we have other evidence that a person has attitudes, whether consciously or unconsciously, that are judgmental of women’s sexuality, we’re not going to get anywhere arguing against that premise when the pro-lifer in question really just thinks that abortion is killing a baby.

  • disqus_ggvdslgvY6

    There are some rather obvious problems with these comparisons.

    For example, #6 very specifically says that we shouldn’t respond to *BAD* arguments made by theists, thus giving them too much credit, yet the “perspectives” below remove the word “bad” from arguments made by atheists or men’s rights advocates. When someone makes a bad argument–employing logical fallacies, flouting well-established laws of physics in favor of magic and the supernatural, etc–yes, you’re giving them far too much credit by responding to them. But if they actually put forward a thought-out and reasoned argument, that’s another story entirely.

    Or #8: “Religion is just a way of controlling people.”

    The comparisons are that science or atheism are just ways of controlling people. Well, given that most religions have dogma built into them that is clearly meant to govern peoples’ behavior, while atheism and science don’t, I’d say that this comparison is a pretty terrible one, frankly.

    This notion of checking to see whether the same argument would sound reasonable if it were applied to you sounds more like checking to see how you’d react emotionally, and not whether the logic or the evidence is sound.

    • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

      I fixed #6! Whoops.

      I see your point about #8, maybe I can come up with a better example.

      As far as checking to see how you’d react emotionally, that was sort of my point, which is why I said, “This is best applied when thinking about your own perspective or when talking to people who tend to scoff at more logical arguments.”

  • invivoMark

    Your Perspective Test only works when the different perspectives are actually equivalent and interchangeable in the aspect that you are using for the comparison.

    In this way, your test on #8 is invalid. Science is not, in any way shape or form, equivalent to religion, and certainly not in the sociological way that your comparison implies. That’s an extremely dishonest comparison.

    Likewise, atheism is not a religion. It isn’t even a philosophy. It isn’t a thing that mandates certain behaviors, it isn’t a thing that people base their lives around, with a set of rules that they must follow.

    • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

      Well yeah, but a lot of people THINK science and atheism are equivalent to religion, which is why I put that one in there.

      • invivoMark

        But then your test is still invalid, because, as others have pointed out, religion does control people’s lives, and science and atheism obviously don’t.

        Well, science controls my life, but I’m a grad student. It’s supposed to.

        • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

          Okay, #8 sucks. I can’t think of a better one though that isn’t almost identical to another one, so maybe someone will come up with a better one for me.

  • kagekiri

    8 seems off; the “just” is the only part that’s wrong, as it makes it a ridiculously over-broad statement. To say religions do try to control people is obviously true, and they demand this as a right of their religion. And the reciprocal you give sounds an awful lot like the ridiculous “atheism is just another religion” or “science is just another faith” crap.

    And the 10th, about pro-life people: that’s not accurate either. They think women ought to be regulated and not allowed to legally do things, which is a form of control. Hell, that’s a religious example of attempted control right there.

    I mean, all the “just”‘s are basically used to say there are no other factors/components, but that’s trivially false. Take out the absolutes, and you still have the problem of attempted control of others rights where the reciprocals don’t really match up.

    Irrespective of whether they claim or personally believe that control is their ultimate goal, it has the same result.

    I get your point of empathy; even when I believed in God as a Fundie, I strived to understand and even make excuses for worshipers of other gods and atheists. “Oh they’re just brainwashed.” “Oh, I could see how I was blessed to end up raised Christian, or I might have been just as proud and rejected God”.

    Now, as an atheist and anti-theist, I obviously know the other foot: I WAS the other foot, as far opposite on the scale from anti-theist to theist scale that you can be.

    So to say religion controls people is trivially true. To say pro-life people want to control women is trivially true. To say homophobes don’t all hate gay people is trivially true.

    The perspective argument is unfortunately useless in some cases like rights, because even though I empathized with gay people who were bullied and not allowed to marry, with women stuck with rape pregnancies or teen pregnancies they didn’t want to carry to term, or with non-Christian people who didn’t want Christianity’s morality enforced on them, it didn’t change the way I voted. I knew they’d have good reason to hate me by their standards, but that didn’t matter, because God’s ways were absolute. Relative standards of hypocrisy have little effect on this too-common “true believer”, besides making them more defensive.

    This is handy for us to apply as secularists, to stop us from making bad arguments that malign all opponents unfairly and to stop lazy blanket statements, but it doesn’t help when you’ve got absolutists you’re trying to convince, whose empathy is ignored as standard practice.

    • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

      I’m thinking about replacing #8 with “Christians are just brainwashed”. Whatcha think?

      • kagekiri

        I don’t know; it gets a bit relative and subjective, and the reciprocal fails for me personally.

        I actually do think Christians are mostly brainwashed and tricked by their biased interpretations of reality. They help brainwash themselves in most cases.

        Even when I was Christian, I was humbled at how lucky I was to be born Christian so that I’d be trained to listen to God. I was pretty much thinking I’d gotten the *right* brain-washing. “Train the child in the way he should go” and all that.

        I read lots of apologetics, but avoided atheist writing like it was a plague, so I only ever heard one side of the conversation in depth. Reading AIG and the Bible took greater precedence over listening to the evidence for evolution. I took the example of Joseph and “ran” from “temptation”, avoiding anything that would exacerbate my doubts.

        On the flip side, Christians who know me quite obviously think I’ve now been brainwashed as an atheist. My parents have said that I must have been demon-possessed to explain my deconversion, but that’s basically Christian for brain-washed.

        But my reasons for atheism were obviously not what I was raised with, and I knew zero “anti-theist” atheists prior to my conversion (okay, maybe one teacher, but I didn’t like him), and a few apatheists who I didn’t really understand nor talk theology or morality with.

        I deconverted after college, so not even liberal professors could’ve brainwashed me. And as my reasons for no longer believing have survived my desperate attempts to salvage my faith, my intense desire to keep believing. I threw everything I had at my doubts from 20 years of being raised as a fundie from the crib, and the atheism stuck despite my best efforts and begging God for guidance.

        So I’d have a defense/explanation/deflection either way, but the Christian defense sounds a lot more like straight brain-washed to me.

        I guess for me, the example is just too personal? I’d rarely go with the blanket statement.

        More close to what some atheists say and want to believe is that “Christians are idiots” or “All religious people have stupid beliefs, so they are stupid, too”.

        I always cringe at that, because I was one, and I know successful, intelligent people who remain devoutly Christian at the same time. And though it hurts me to see them wasting parts of their mental and moral potential in religion, it makes it impossible for me to dismiss them wholesale as imbeciles without lying to myself.

        I can’t just say that Christians just haven’t thought it through; I know the barriers put in place via shame and guilt that make them fight doubts that I know for a fact they experience, because I was once the voice telling them to fight those doubts and providing rationalizations to stave off disbelief. I know the bewildering compartmentalization that makes faith-based facts immune to counter-evidence, I learned biology well without ever feeling particularly conflicted by creationism.

        And the reciprocal, where atheists are said to be evil or just trying to sin or just too stupid/proud/arrogant to see God as real? I know some Christians obviously believe it. And obviously, it’s not true, and I think most atheists are counter-examples.

        So that’d be a better, more applicable example of anti-religious/religious bigotry that goes both ways and is mostly false both ways.

      • Azkyroth

        But “some people think” all those other things you’re using as “does it still sound reasonable” examples? Why the special pleading on these particular bits of stupid?

  • Joe

    #5 and #6 still sound reasonable to me. What does that prove?

    • http://twitter.com/Ziztur Christina Stephens

      #5 is supposed to still sound reasonable.

      #6 well.. I think we should respond to bad arguments because if we don’t, it gives the arguer the impression that the argument is good.

  • Azkyroth

    8. Religion is just a way of controlling people.

    Apply the Perspective Test:

    Science is just a way of controlling people.

    Atheism is just a way of controlling people.

    Does it Still sound reasonable?

    (Update: People don’t seem to like this example and I agree; this is a bad example. If someone comes up with a suitable replacement, I’ll put it here instead. Like maybe, “Religious people are just brainwashed”?)

    The problem with this is deeper: you’re comparing apples with orangutans here. The other two things are unlike the first in important ways that you’re glossing over…I assume because the “both sides” equivocation is so deeply entrenched in our culture that it even passingly infects ordinarily reasonable people.

  • Azkyroth

    10. People who are pro-life just want to control women and take away all of their rights.*

    Apply the Perspective Test:

    People who are pro-gun control just want to control everybody and take away all of their rights.

    Does it Still sound reasonable?

    Same problem. People who are anti-choice may not want to take away ALL of women’s rights (though some do), but they want to control their sexuality and punish them for having sex, whereas this is not true of the majority of sane gun policy advocates.

    I can see why the analogy between pro-life and pro gun-control is not totally analogous since a larger proportion of pro-life people want abortion made entirely illegal whereas only a small proportion of gun control advocates want guns made entirely illegal, but you get the idea at least.

    And even of those who do, I’ve yet to hear of one who advocates policies that are blatantly inconsistent with their rhetorical aims but highly consistent with the competing hypothesis.

    My point: “pro-life people just want to control women” doesn’t sound very convincing to a pro-life person, just like “pro-gun control people just want to control everybody” doesn’t sound convincing to a pro gun control person, but let me know what you think.

    I think you’re a hypocrite. Money equals power. Power equals camel. Camel equals five celery sticks. Five. Quid Pro Quo.

  • Epinephrine

    #2 is not great. In #1 you are subbing a belief for other beliefs, that works. In #2 you are swapping sex for race and gender. Not really the same. I prefer Anatole France’s comment that “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well
    as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
    This points out that the real issue is that there is no need for the rich to sleep under bridges or beg in the streets, much as there is no need for straight people to marry those of the same sex.
    Laws that unfairly prescribe behaviours only practiced by some should be examined.

  • Christopher Stephens

    Seems to me that the point of #8 is not that religion and atheism and/or science are equivalent, but that some people will simply assert that science’s purpose is to control people, or force god out of people’s lives, etc., but to a scientist hearing that nonsense, he or she’ll just think, “Um, what? No one studies science to control people’s lives, we study science to find out about the world …”

    In the same way, a religious person hears an atheist simply asserting that the purpose of religion is to control people, and thinks, “Um, what? You think I believe in and support a religion just to control people? That’s REALLY stupid; I believe in my religion because it comforts me immensely/gives meaning to my life/ensures my eternal life/etc., etc., etc.”

    The point is that we can argue that an opposing ideology has a sinister effect, or even, unconsciously, a sinister motivation, but we have to argue that point, instead of simply asserting it.

  • Jacob Schmidt

    My point: “pro-life people just want to control women” doesn’t sound very convincing to a pro-life person, just like “pro-gun control people just want to control everybody” doesn’t sound convincing to a pro gun control person, but let me know what you think.

    Except prolife arguments sometimes do hinge on literally making decisions for women, i.e. “We can’t let women have abortions; they might change their mind later.”
    “Just” want to control women is certainly a false idea, but too many anti-abortion people make arguments based on just that. Also, I don’t think that “they just want to control women” is meant to be a convincing argument; I think it’s meant to be a damning description (accurate or not). I see it as more of a counter claim to the “fundementalist christians are loving and caring” claim, not as part of the abortion debate proper.

    • baal

      :) see my long comment below. I agree thatthe “pro-lifers want to control women” is a conclusion and not an argument. I don’t object to stating conclusions (labeled as conclusions) as a kind of ‘fair warning’ to opponents that I’ll be arguing to that goal. Turns out that after you run through the pro-life, anti-birth control, and anti sex-ed arguments, it’s a pretty inescapable conclusion to come to. Libby Anne did a masterful job of it recently.


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