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Old 14th June 2013, 11:53 AM   #6
Penultimate Amazing
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 12,459
Originally Posted by asydhouse View Post
You know dann, you seem to be debating ideas you have about what I said rather than what I actually said. I can't be bothered to correct your misapprehensions. If you were to dispassionately reread what I wrote in order to understand what I was saying instead of creating ducks for you to knock down, you might think a bit more clearly about what I said.
Here come the strawmen ...
To answer your first question, I have heard on the news several times over the years the reports of deaths from exorcisms among African immigrants in Britain.
Yes, so have I. What do you know about them? Were they mostly wealthy immigrants in posh neighborhoods?
You undermine your own thesis that all (!) it takes is an increase in material well-being when you mention that Scandinavia is full (!) of woo. Are you trying to say that only people in the relatively affluent poverty you cite are the believers in that woo? That's not true, though, is it?
And where exactly do you see the alleged thesis? Quotation, please! I know a couple of very wealthy woos, so, no, I wouldn't claim that all rich people are secularized and all poor people are woos. Apparently you never read Zuckerberg - or even listen to his eight minutes on youtube.
All I'm saying is that criticism of superstition is always valid, but can only be "imposed" on a population you are also helping in material terms; and a necessary corollary to material aid is secular education. You seem to focus on only one aspect of interfering at a time. My argument is simply that it's more complicated than that, and a mere increase in physical well-being without a concomitant betterment of educational levels/contents will never succeed in enlightening the culture.
More complicated than what? As you can see in the case of Denmark and Sweden, religion & superstition tend to die out with improved standards of living.
Witness the persistence of religion in affluent America. (Pax Zuckerman, where he says in that video you linked to that the wealthy nation of America has vast gaps between the rich and poor... true, but... some of the richest people are the Mormons, and other evangelical organisations, who are rolling in it, and yet maintain the hardest medieval lines of religiosity in the world!)
In the USA, based as that society is on the market economy, free enterprise and the right to become piss poor, even the relatively wealthy appear to be more afraid of losing their affluence than people in countries with, among other things, free education and health care. Your argument seem to be that because you know examples of rich people who are religious, the argument does not hold true that to overcome religion and superstition people need to have access to good housing, food and health care.
I gues that you probably also know a poor atheist guy, which would furter disprove my alleged thesis that every single religious nut ball would be secularized if he became a millionaire - which it would, of course, but only because it's your own strawman.
Also, in Africa, I'd say your own assumptions that the only (!) victims of witchcraft are those in such (!) dire poverty that they are willing to dump their children on the street... well, that's to assume (!!!) that there are no functioning communities where relatively affluent people have viable economic countries/towns... (No, it isnt'! You're really making it up as you go along, arentīt you? DS) which is sort of almost a racist assumption! (Unconscious, I'm sure, before you get reactionary on me for saying that!)
Why don't you simply stop fabricating the assumption, then?
Belief in witchcraft is rife all over, not just among the most poverty-ridden. All kinds of atrocities go on under the influence of its perversion of undestanding of how the world works: the belief that HIV can be cured by raping a virgin child, is just one of them.
And it makes me very happy that you present such a compelling case for your belief that belief in witchcraft is rife all over.
Aid without education, and a forthright statement that superstition is plain wrong, is just as colonialist as any other interference. IMHO.
Who's advocating aid without education? You seem to suffer from the misapprehension that when I point out that, for instance, access to health care is required for somebody to give up his or her belief in witchdoctors, i.e. it requires a viable alternative to treatments based on superstition for people to give up their superstitions in this field, I somehow imply that people shouldn't be educated.
By the way, I greatly admire your firm belief in the impact that a "forthright statement that superstition is plain wrong" would have! :-)
PS Why didn't you attribute your quote to the guy who wrote it then? Normally when people post a link and then an unattributed quote, it's to share a bit of what's in the link! That was confusing how you did that.
I didn't attribute it to the guy who didn't write it, you did, and I assumed that everybody was familiar with the opium-of-the-people phrase. My bad. It might have been a good idea for you to take a look at the link in the quotation box instead of assuming that the quotation was related to a completely different link.

Poverty fuelling witchcraft hysteria
Poverty and Witch Killing
Witchcraft claims against children in Congo DRC reflect curse of poverty
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 14th June 2013 at 11:55 AM.
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