Penn & Teller On the Placebo Effect

Look, we know most people will believe most any tale if it's told by a sincere person whom they respect. WE KNOW THIS! And we also know that once people believe something to be true they will seek to confirm it and they will discount contrary evidence. WE KNOW THIS! One example of this is the Placebo effect (see video below). So once again, what exactly is wrong with being skeptical about that which we were taught to believe? Christian, don't say that I must also be skeptical of that which I affirm, because I am. That's why I describe myself as an agnostic atheist. You need to deal with this question and not deflect it back to me. You need to be skeptical about that which you were taught to believe.

13 comments:

feeno said...

John

Have you been to a Mall lately? If I walked into one of our local malls and the first 3 people to pass me was an old lady in a magnet hat, a guy in a trench coat with weights on his rubber boots and some freak with snails on his face, I'd be thinking what a slow day it is and how do I find that Auntie Anne pretzel place.

I can't believe how gullible we are to make those 2 dofusses (do-fuss-is) rich and famous. So we can blame Christians and Atheist for that.

I gotta go, I just got a message on my computer that I just $1,000,000.00. woohoo.

Peace Out, feeno

Gandolf said...

Hi Feeno hows it going :) i agree people are often gullible

What it you went into a mall and spied a man in a white trench coat holding a bible with a funny hat on his head handing out water crackers telling you eating these wee biscuit's would save ya and that money put in his pocket would put right all the things you had done wrong ?

Kinda a bit of a do-fuss-is too! isnt it ?

feeno said...

W'dup big G

Nice to hear from you again, was the Pope at the mall somewhere?

I know there was a message behind your question, but me taking communion and tithing has nothing to do with my sins being forgiven.

The oil that anoints, isn't what heals us, it is the Faith in what the oil represents.

To enjoy a relationship with God we need to overlook the acts of men. We haven't been perfected yet.

Thanks for the response, until you commented, I felt like the (do-fuss)

Shalomie Homie, feeno

Gandolf said...

Same feeno, always nice hearing from you too! :).

Maybe people have faith in magnets too though,but its maybe not the magnets that make them better is it?.

Some people who believe in yoga feel better too,but its the types of meditation thats actually whats helping and/but they actually acknowledge it.

Seems kinda strange you know feeno there are so many gods thought of on this earth,and those that follow them all believe belief in their god helps.Some folks have a number of gods and these gods all help for some strange reason too.

However one thing i notice all these people have in (common) is they are all using a type of positive thinking,and even a blue sky can change the way people feel.

You and i might have very different beliefs feeno,but i can tell you are a good guy and your heart is in the right place :)

All the best wishes friend !

feeno said...

G

My bro. in law once read a book on far eastern religions, and he told me the same thing about the power in positive thinking/meditation and thought control over physical problems.(and even over poisons.) So you point is well taken. But I was just using that as an analogy of "the eating of the cracker", can some how help me.(?)

But even saying that there is probably so much we don't understand of the human Psyche, who really knows.

thanks for the props, I feel the same way. Peace, feeno

Kevin H said...

Ironically, I think the Placebo Effect applies to a naturalistic account of morality.

If moral values and duties are nothing more than herd instinct, societal convention, or local mores, then it leaves the question as to why one ought to adhere to them.

If morals and duties are products of evolutionary survival instincts, then indeed they are placebos placating human behavior to ensure survival (what L.D. Rue called "The Noble Lie").

Problem is, the more one knows something is a placebo, the less effective it is.

K

Philip R Kreyche said...

"If moral values and duties are nothing more than herd instinct, societal convention, or local mores, then it leaves the question as to why one ought to adhere to them."

Because it benefits each individual to act in a way that is harmonious with the surrounding society.

Is this not enough?

John W. Loftus said...

Kevin, I believe morality is a social construct and yet I'm a good person. In fact, most everyone who accepts this about morality are still good people. You'd have to make an argument that knowing this about morality undercuts the effectiveness of the moral codes we've established. After all, "we" established them because they produce a society where we can live in peace with each other.

As an aside....

I am almost damned tired of having to argue this thing over and over and over. I will try to come up with some kind of knock down argument to link to from now on. So far this is the best yet. Scroll down on our FAQ sheet to Atheism, Christianity and Morality, and take special note of this link.

For people who have not read them and want to truly understand what an atheist thinks about morality please read these posts before commenting on morality any more...please.

Gandolf said...

feeno said... "G
My bro. in law once read a book on far eastern religions, and he told me the same thing about the power in positive thinking/meditation and thought control over physical problems.(and even over poisons.) So you point is well taken. But I was just using that as an analogy of "the eating of the cracker", can some how help me.(?)"

Hi feeno .I was born into a christian cult faith belief where i was brought up with many people who mostly all believed it was a connection with their personal god when they broke bread on sunday that gave them this feeling you describe regarding how eating the water cracker or breaking the bread "can some how help me".

Being born into faith and being once amongst these people i too admit there were times when i felt kinda high and elated etc also.And my gaining this warm fuzzy feeling of well being and happiness shared amongst a group of people all on the same high and with the feelings of goodwill flowing towards others there,allowed me to feel like this god "can somehow help me".

And i still personally have nothing against this elated (good feeling) that puts people on a high and makes them feel so happy they might want to be kinder to other people etc.

In this part of the chosen meditation i see things i still like and still believe there were in fact many benefits.

But the extremely bad part that i finally had my eyes opened to was the overruling belief structure of (a) God which lacking any good factual evidence was (always) based more on many of mans unproved assumptions.Which is why so many different gods still exist in this world and non have yet been proved to be the actual factual one and only god,or even if maybe there is many gods.A one and only god cannot ever be proved by man if no real evidence ever exists for it,the same goes for the human assumption of many gods as well.

In time i soon realized the meditation part that brought the elated feelings and good thoughts was only related to the (group feeling) of togetherness etc.Matched into this belief system as with many other different belief systems as well was universal learned logical knowledge that had evolved over time through trial and error of humans,such as for instance "treat others as you wish to be treated yourself"or "let he who is perfect throw the first stone"etc.

I soon saw that it was the unfactual belief of the humans (chosen god) that always actually brought about the division and nastiness etc.Without factual evidence it was belief of these assumptions that i suggest in the year 2009 now verge closely through ignorance and stubborn attitudes on being mere lies and propaganda kept going by people who somehow have become blind to the sad outcome it has on humanity.

Because i suggest the fact remains its only the meditation part of the (togetherness of a group) which actually supplies the warm fuzzy feeling,hence any belief system including even a non religious belief system such as yoga can still experience the same benefits.

And its the blind belief of all the (many chosen gods)of humanity that always continually does the damage, as ego and ignorance etc takes over causing bigotry etc.

Which is why im against belief in the many gods etc that lack in any real evidence and proof.

feeno my friend how would we ever expect this meditated group good feeling to work for humanity as a group (as a whole!)bringing the world more together,if separately their is still so many divisions of people blindly each believing that what lacks good evidence and without it in all (honesty)must sooner or later be seen as little more than following a lie.

feeno my friend it would be foolish to discard all written within these faith books as much that is written within surely is from mans past wisdom learned.I suggest one such written wisdom learned is that lies and deceit not often really accounts actually for much good in the end.

As you look around today at divisions and even wars so often carrying undertones of differences of belief and in some cases even maybe suggested divine prophecies against certain particular nations etc.

If without good evidence these God/s really be only made of deceit and lies and assumptions of man,can you really say that the deceit of it all really actually has accounted for much good in the end worldwide?.

I personally no longer can,and whats more the bad that it has caused to me has become more and more plain easy to see everyday.

People do not need god/s to become together in groups to meditate on matters and do good,which is why groups of people maybe might think its right to care about such things as global warming etc.

And many situations where humanity as a group is really needed for resolved of problems we all face,divisions happen and to often the underlying currents that divide them are different belief of faith.

See feeno you might be sitting their saying my personal faith belief hurts no one,my personal group holds many wonderful gatherings where food and the pretzels are free flowing :).And maybe thats all good for those there i admit.

But the group i was personally born into and in many other situations people become converted into was a divisive religious cult that caused all manner of nastiness`es to many many many peoples lives.

Now people step in here and say oh no! but my faith and belief in the bible is the right one etc, you cant connect our personal lovely faith belief to that etc.

But i ask why can i not make some connection here when its still evolved out of reading the same book, and in some cases some cults might even have evolved in the past out divisions from the very same line of christian church group you now follow.

I suggest people of faith to often overlook these things in not wanting to see that just maybe their beliefs could actually be damaging.

Faith beliefs are structured to supposedly have divine knowledge and so supposedly contain (the) truth.Each believing their god is in fact (the one).

By the very nature of that way of thinking i suggest they are naturally sooner or later one way or another divisive in nature.

Every person of faith today in this world i suggest helps to keep faith believers in cults believing in faith as well.

Which is fine if faith is based on good evidence, but i suggest it sucks and stinks to high heaven if its actually not.

Because the group meditation good fuzzy feeling that "can some how help" us ,naturally becomes divided.

feeno said...

Big G, W'dup

Not to sound condescending, this is a sincere question, but do you feel all Christian religions are "cults".

The fact we can't prove that there is a God is about the same as saying we can't prove there isn't a God.

Religion and even or especially the Christian religion does in fact cause problems, wars, hatred, bigotry etc.. But Christ knew he would create division amongst people, even families. Because he is making us make a choice, either to accept or reject him.

However that doesn't mean then, that it's o.k. to create problems, start wars, have any type of hate in our hearts or be bigoted toward anyone who thinks different then we do.

I know my faith automatically makes me divisive. But that divisiveness doesn't have to create all those atrocities.

As far as any "good" evidence is concerned for God, that is a real mystery to me. I wonder how I can look at a beautiful sunset and automatically think what a great God I have, and yet you and some of my other friends just think how cool nature is?

I'm not saying I won't have a bunch of questions for God when I get to heaven, but I also think that there is plenty of evidence to support Him, if we want to believe?

Holla back, peace. feeno

Gandolf said...

Hi feeno my friend ! you said" Big G, W'dup

Not to sound condescending, this is a sincere question, but do you feel all Christian religions are "cults". "

Maybe not, however i personly feel a very fine line divides the two and its from over this line that many cults evolve.Smoking doesnt always cause cancer either,but does that mean that smoking in some cases might be a very good idea ?.

"The fact we can't prove that there is a God is about the same as saying we can't prove there isn't a God."

Do you really think so?,i would think it would be a much more honest position to take to say what we cannot yet prove we should not just believe in only out of faith.Specially with such important things such as faith in religious beliefs,because these faith beliefs have really shown how dangerous they can be and how they really influence peoples lives.There is many new ideas being thought of for medical practices too,should we just try them out on humans without good evidence that they actually work?.Only relying on peoples faith in them?.We dont do this very often,because we know it can be very dangerous to use things without good evidence and proof that its true and good.

"But Christ knew he would create division amongst people, even families. Because he is making us make a choice, either to accept or reject him."

No feeno i suggest only the book you read (says this) .And this book was written by men,and we know from experience that men are not completely dumb and many know exactly what to say and and do to control matters the way they wish too for the benefits they might foresee.And we also know by experience men can often be wrong about benefits they think they see and often their own interests can overrule the honesty of many matters.

By use of what type of judgement do you suggest "But Christ knew he would create division amongst people, even families"? ,is it only by use of whats been written by men or what other folk tell you?.

These men who wrote these books were religious men,how much faith do you put in (religious men?),when even to this very day many religious men are quite often very deceitful .Some today still reap benefits of money for shonky faith healings etc they dont mind bending facts to allow them to reap what they wish for,those who wrote these books reaped fame and the trappings that come with it! that i think you can be quite sure of.As its still happening today.Yet even though this is there for us plain to see and many situations come up so often to remind us it happens, you and many others somehow manage to put great faith in religious men of old and their writings?

In what does you faith lay feeno,in that what has been proved with good evidence and facts, or that what has been written and told by men?.

See feeno im no extra smart cookie by any means.But if i was amongst those who wrote a first edition the first testament of the bible,and saw the trouble it caused and the splits and divides etc.Do you think it would really be that impossible that i could think enough to write in the next edition "Matthew 10:34 - "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword",with mans problem solving type of mind! thinking write this and people will soon believe the division they see was expected.So the people i want to except my written beliefs,by reading this will be tricked into continuing to do so thinking all that is happening is supposed to be.

Really ? this type of deceitful plan would really be just to hard for the mind of man back then to ever come up with ?? .Feeno my friend then why do i see this deceitful planning type of mind of man being used so often in this world still even today?.We must have learned it somewhere.

"As far as any "good" evidence is concerned for God, that is a real mystery to me. I wonder how I can look at a beautiful sunset and automatically think what a great God I have, and yet you and some of my other friends just think how cool nature is?"

Well i once used to think the same way,one day i realized it was only because of what i had been taught by people of faith.I realized though i knew not yet quite why or how a beautiful sunset came to exist,still neither was there any good evidence available that i should honestly believe it was by work of any god/s.What is more honest that i admit i dont yet know,or that i just believe in God/s because of men who have suggested them?.

Feeno we saw our friend in the funny hat with magnets who believed these magnets made him feel better,if you look at a sunset believing it to be work of god how much more fact and evidence do you use?.Is it a book written long ago by men,would this man believing in a hat with magnets seem any more better if he read a old book written long ago by men who suggested magnets were the answer?.

"I'm not saying I won't have a bunch of questions for God when I get to heaven, but I also think that there is plenty of evidence to support Him, if we want to believe?"

Well feeno your questions will only be any good if in fact there is a god and a heaven.Meanwhile as you have already admitted "I know my faith automatically makes me divisive. But that divisiveness doesn't have to create all those atrocities."

That it doesnt have to is really very debatable isnt it ?,because very much evidence suggests that in fact it does.Or would you suggest that these divisions and nasty aspects only exist because of specially nasty divisive men?.

Feeno my friend though i havent seen many of my cult family for a very long time,but i still know them very well.And my family is by no means naturally specially nasty or divisive,they have become this way through what they have read and believed.And to say yes but some people dont translate this book this way,is like saying some people dont die from smoking cigerettes .But yet maybe cigs dont even ruin complete lives, quite as much as religious cults do.

feeno all i can say is i hope you actually do get to this heaven and meet this god,because if you dont and its in fact all bullshit!its then a fact that your and many other people faith beliefs on this earth in many cases has continued to help ruin the one and only life people have on this earth.By the continued belief and use of a book written by men so long ago.

Im not talking about personally being involved in ruining some peoples lives here either,but all those who continue to help further these beliefs and keep them going sooner or later have to take some responsibility for cult religious offshoots that happen.

Even those who all died in the likes of the Jonestown massacre.

feeno said...

Gandy man

I'm not trying to dodge your tough questions, but it's been a long day, and I need to hit the hay. Just wanted to say good night and hopefully get back to you soon.

Later Homie, feeno

Perezoso said...

The Placebo's a classic of P & T. cyber-cynical-chaos.

A great deal of quack medicine and miracle cures come from the religious, or pseudo-religious. Like "chiropractors": started by some religious crank in late 19th century. Chiropractors initially claimed spine problems were like a spiritual disturbance or something.

Chiro-quacks have recently tried to show some connection to modern medicine, but little or no evidence supports the "sublaxion" BS. The supposed therapeutic value of pro-chiro's can also be done by ordinary doctors or nurses.