Speak Your Mind

Speak Your Mind: Fallacious Friends

This week’s Speak Your Mind comes from my real life. What do you do when your friends and family won’t listen to reason? Or worse yet, actively avoid reason?

I am someone who tries to argue in the most rational and logical way possible. Regardless, I am constantly getting into conversations with people who freely engage in logical fallacies, even after said fallacies are pointed out. Topics include everything from alternative medicine to the recent debt ceiling debates here in the U.S.

What is so frustrating is not that I have friends and family who disagree with me. (I live in Kansas and am an agnostic/atheist and a bleeding-heart liberal, so I’m quite used to that.) What bothers me is that it seems more important to people to win the argument and maintain their preconceived notions than to learn and grow as a person. Cutting these people out of my life seems extreme, but sometimes I’m pushed to my wits’ end.

Have you ever run into this situation? What do you do? Do you continue to argue, even though it does little or no good? If possible, do you cut these illogical people out of your life? Or do you give up and save your emotional well-being?

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Mindy is an attorney and Managing Editor of Teen Skepchick. She hates the law and loves stars. You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


  1. July 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm —

    When i do “dare” to point any thing out, i am mostly (in best cases) ignored or faced with hostility towards me, just because i disagree. This intolerance of any contradictions make me feel very censored, and i wish i could say that it is only at home, but no. In my previous school (i was sick of it so i transferred, thought to an also catholic, catholic part not optional) there was an active agenda to indoctrinate, an example was when the country (Dominican republic.) was debating over abortion they actually made all 6-12 students participate in “pro-life” marchs, At the time i didn’t even know correctly what abortion was, and imagined the pro-life thing was something to do with no dieing or assassinations , and naively was glad that they took us out by surprise, as if it where a field trip.

    When i think back about it, it makes me very mad, and latter for many reasons hated my school; it did not give us an option, of not going, did not even present us at the moment reason to support it, was not open to try at least view it from different perspective.The same style was applied towards homosexuality, and evolution, (this one is given a 1 sentence definition, followed by this is just evil-scientist BS and of course god created universe.) To see how my “friends react (towards my view the very few times i shared them) is scary, my family is anti-science (thought not medicine thats thanks to god and not actual evil-scientist results) reject everything they don’t understand and mostly give no effort to atleast listen to it.

    Every single answer is god; Not working on your behalf? Lack of faith. Diseases, and earthquakes… ect ? Gods plan. Why do the exist? sin. Stop questioning god end of discussion. I hate this.

    I completely forgot where i was going but it felt very good to rant.

    • July 28, 2011 at 1:56 am —

      Good rant!

    • July 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm —

      That was a good rant! I went to a Catholic school, as well. While we rarely touched on any of the hot-button social issues, it was hard to express any differing point of view. In short, I feel your pain.

  2. July 28, 2011 at 1:56 am —

    Story of my life right now.

    One of my Christian friends has recently realised I am an Atheist, and has taken it upon herself to ‘save my soul’ or somesuch. I almost feel sorry for her that her religion has so messed with her that she thinks I’m deserving of eternal punishment for not believing what she believes, but mostly I am just angry.

    In the last week alone I have been accused of:
    -trying to disprove god (can’t prove a negative, guys!)
    -infecting my mind by reading angry blogs (probably true, I’ll grant her that. But not without reason)
    -Being angry at god (‘Are you angry at the tooth fairy?’)
    -Trying to tear her from her faith (Uh, yea coz me saying ‘And what evidence do you have for that?’ repeatedly is totally doing that. Plus there is still the incredibly demeaning and arrogant assumption that her worldview is inherently better than mine. And the fact that I’m not the one initiating the conversation)

    I was also told that the devil plants false evidence to troll scientists. “What evidence do you have for this?” I asked. “I just know” She says.

    Any argument I try to present just bounces off her. UGH.

    What bothers me is that it seems more important to people to win the argument and maintain their preconceived notions than to learn and grow as a person.

    This is exactly right– I don’t really mind the discussion. I welcome it in some ways, to be fair. But when I am saying “Okay, yes I will read the Gospels and okay yes I will read some apologetics book your pastor gave you” etc. etc. to humour her, and so I can prove that I haven’t ‘Closed my heart to God’, and just because I’m plain interested, I’m not receiving the same attitude back. Any time I try to recommend, say, Sophie’s World (Jostein Gaarder) or Demon Haunted World (Carl Sagan), I don’t really get any response. *SO* frustrating. It’s not even like they’re explicitly atheistic. They’re just books about *thinking*. I don’t really care what someone believes as long as they are thinking about it.

    At this particular point cutting her out is impossible, and it would only confirm her extreme persecution complex. At the end of this year I will probably be severing ties, though.

    • July 28, 2011 at 1:58 am —

      Ugh, bad italicising. Sorry.

    • July 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm —

      OMFSM I KNOW! People assume that you don’t believe in God because you just don’t *know* about God. That is incredibly frustrating. And then when they find out that, actually, you know quite a lot (probably more than they do) about their religion, they won’t make any effort to learn about the counterarguments. Of course, when you *know* the absolute truth, why bother learning anything else?

  3. July 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm —

    🙂 “Closed heart to god” that is golden.
    I have only told 2 people im an atheist, (1 has shun me completely and in her universe i simply dont exist, and the other also has tried to “save” me but now just make half-jokes about me going to hell, she believes eventually i will repent. (dont hold your breath on it) Thought no matter im grateful that both has kept my atheism to themselves even thought i cant say we are as close as we use to. Im pretty sure my mom has to know it, she notice i dont communion anymore, and has stop making me pray the rosemary (it use to be EVERYDAY, everyone 7pm no matter what) but none of us really have the guts to start that conversation, it would really break some relatives heart if they knew and has hinted something about as long as you live here…..) I cant wait till im independent, so, you know, it might be ok to think for myself. (Big dreams)

    But you know, being a closet atheist here has its perks, its hysterical (mostly when visiting family, which is almost every week) they might start talking about how a ghost, has (once) help them out or conversed with (adults). There is also a HUGE belief that dreams really somehow indicate future, and/or have solutions for problems. 😀

    But atheism here, thought very stigmatized, is improving(very slowly) Since 2008
    (we officially exist!!!) with ateodom, (even meets every week! I obviously have never gone, some day) which aims to separate state and church and spread the the unholy-ness. That would be amazing, i know i probably wont live to see that, but taking part of it will atleast be fun.

    You know this site is awesome. Thanks for writing.

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