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But will anyone buy it? 
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Post But will anyone buy it?
A question that occured to me in the course of reading the first three chapters is this: Do you think "Breaking the Spell" is well-calculated to reach its intended audience -- that is, an audience not limited to but including religious believers? Do you think that's the right audience for a project of this sort, or should the project have preceeded the attempt to popularize its findings?

Personally, I'd say that Dennett has put a lot of effort into inviting, cajoling, and daring religious believers to join in his discussion, and has likely failed. At times, it almost seems as though he'd feel more vindicated to know that religious believers couldn't bring themselves to take part. At times he plays the good host, but he can just as quickly turn around and insist that the party move according to his terms only. And if you're not willing to play with his assumptions, to hell with you. But even when he's most conciliatory, his tone strikes me as pandering, as though he has to reduce the dialogue to a sixth grade level in order to make it accessible to byour average religious believer. And I think that's as likely to put off intelligent discussion as his more curmudgeony "my way or the highway" digressions.




Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:25 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
Mad, that's a good summation of the mild annoyance I've been feeling reading the first few chapters...I'm finding it far too chatty and full of too many 'Look at me!' moments.

I hope he gets to the meat of his discussion soon.

"All beings are the owners of their deeds, the heirs to their deeds."

Loricat's Book Nook
Celebrating the Absurd




Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:54 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
Mad says:
Quote:
At times he plays the good host, but he can just as quickly turn around and insist that the party move according to his terms only. And if you're not willing to play with his assumptions, to hell with you.


Uh..he is trying to appeal to religious people...this seems like a tactic they would appreciate. Seriously...this is what I as an atheist see from the other side.

Not good for the gander?

I must apologize for dropping off the face of the community..but I am getting a reunion thing going with my old band nad we have a few shows to prepare for. Exciting! I will try to get back into things soon...

Mr. P.

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The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:37 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
misterpessimistic: Uh..he is trying to appeal to religious people...this seems like a tactic they would appreciate. Seriously...this is what I as an atheist see from the other side.

Not good for the gander?


Look at it this way: do religious attempts to persuade you generally work?

I think Dennett tries too hard -- especially in the early chapters -- to appeal to what he apparantly thinks is the lowest common denominator. In later chapters he eases off that stance, but I still think he's striking a very uneasy balance.




Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:49 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
"But will anyone buy it?"

Is that the right question to ask?

I'm sure it'll have a similar effect that most other books have. Some will buy it nearly wholesale, some will probably reject at the first comparison of religion to a parasite. While others may just want to borrow or lease certain parts of it.

The big trick in spreading the ideas he puts forward in his book is making the media circuit and being interviewed and giving lectures at universities.


Mad: "A question that occurred to me in the course of reading the first three chapters is this: Do you think "Breaking the Spell" is well-calculated to reach its intended audience -- that is, an audience not limited to but including religious believers? Do you think that's the right audience for a project of this sort, or should the project have preceeded the attempt to popularize its findings?"

Here's what I think about his "intended audience." I know on a few occasions he seems to be genuinely inviting religious folk to "join this discussion" about religion -- and I think he is. But on the very first page in the preface he states: "I decided I had to express the emphases found here if I was to have any hope of reaching my intended audience: the curious and conscientious citizens of my native land -- as many as possible, not just the academics. (I saw no point in preaching to the choir.)" Now that last part -- "no point in preaching to the choir" -- I think I can say with some certainty that he definitely doesn't want to omit the choir. He needs that choir. He needs that choir to sing. Thats how these memes spread. But he wants as many curious (2 a : marked by desire to investigate and learn b : marked by inquisitive interest in others' concerns) and conscientious (scrupulous, meticulous, careful, upright) citizens as possible. That could be religious people or not.


Mad: "At times, it almost seems as though he'd feel more vindicated to know that religious believers couldn't bring themselves to take part. "

He doesn't strike me that way. I think he wants as many people to be part of this discussion as possible. Whether they disagree with him or not.

"At times he plays the good host, but he can just as quickly turn around and insist that the party move according to his terms only. And if you're not willing to play with his assumptions, to hell with you."

That sounds a bit harsh. He doesn't strike me that way at all. Give me some examples.


Mr P. "Not good for the gander?"

I gotcher gander hangin'.

"I must apologize for dropping off the face of the community..but I am getting a reunion thing going with my old band nad we have a few shows to prepare for. Exciting! I will try to get back into things soon..."

Who's writing the songs? Get 'em to read some of the book. See if any interesting ideas come to mind.

Boy, would I love to be a member of a freethought band.




Sat Sep 02, 2006 1:18 am
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
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Who's writing the songs? Get 'em to read some of the book. See if any interesting ideas come to mind.

Boy, would I love to be a member of a freethought band.


I have thought of writing some freethought lyrics, but the band is just doing our old, youth angst, tunes. Mostly politics and societal decay...

I may do my own thing in the future, now that I picked up the axe again!

Mr. P.

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The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:46 am
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
And get them all to where BookTalk t-shirts on stage. ::204




Tue Sep 05, 2006 12:24 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
Send me one!

:)

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





Tue Sep 05, 2006 12:46 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
Will you wear it at a live show? Give me your size and I'll send one. But you have to wear it and email me a picture so I can post it on BookTalk!




Tue Sep 05, 2006 1:50 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
Man...I served as a mod for a while and have been such a staunch supporter since 2004...yet I have to bribe Chris to send me a shirt?

SHHHEEEESH! :P

I will wear it at a show! Do you still have my address? I wear a "large/medium"...meaning the larger side of medium. Or just a large would do it I guess.

Oh...I could use some bookmarks as well. I am selling on Amazon and Ebay and can include them in my shipments as a bonus gift.

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper


Edited by: misterpessimistic  at: 9/5/06 3:02 pm



Tue Sep 05, 2006 2:02 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
I should have your address in the Mod forum. I'll check now.

Hey, if I send you a BookTalk thong will you wear that on stage too!?




Tue Sep 05, 2006 2:05 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
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Do you think Dennett would agree with Dissident, that participation in a religious tradition should be one of the criteria that we demand before making judgements about that tradition?


I think Dennett sees the blind devotion to religion as a danger and wants to "Break the Spell" a bit. But I also think he sees that religion may have played/still plays an important role in people's lives.

I also think Dennett, and I agree with him, feels that educating people about what religion is, myths with no real basis in reality save for that which comes from the human mind and it's lack of certainty about what is around us, is an important step for humanity to take. For it will lead to a better understanding of reality.

Quote:
but most major traditions are based around claims which you'd look pretty silly trying to contrast with natural explanation.


I just think they are pretty silly and obviously made up stories. If believers would just admit that and not kill or otherwise badger people who do NOT fall for the sham, I would be fine. But people are ostracized, marginalized and killed over religious beliefs. So it has to be scrutinzed IMO. It has to be shown to be the bullshit that it is. Or at least, taken OUT of the political spectrum and kept in the pants!

Quote:
what natural explanation would you give for the claim that prayer brings a person closer to God, regardless of whether or not that prayer results in some material benefit?


The natural explanation that the person is under some delusion.

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:13 am
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
Mad:

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I don't think that's necessarily a bad idea, but it's misguided to think that you can reconcile it to a proposal to the effect that scientific method should be the only means of understanding the worth of religion, which is what Dennett implies in his book.


Did you read the "New Replicators". If you did, I think this phrase by Dennett sums up his position nicely:

"We should also remind ourselves that, just as population genetics is no substitute for ecology...no one should anticipate that a new science of memetics would overturn or replace all the existing models and explanations of cultural phenomena developed by the social sciences.

So Dennett is not as hardlined in the direction of memes as you like to imply. Dennett has been careful to say that he is just proposing ideas that may do good with further investigations. He is not asserting a thing here, save maybe the validity of the meme idea, which as I read more about, becomes a compelling idea indeed.

I know you do not like or accept the idea of memes, and that you also hold religion to be an ultra valuable asset to humanity. I also think you realize that it is generally simple mythology with no supernatural underpinnings...but for those very same reasons, people want to NOT break the spell. You prove to people like me WHY Dennett is on to something here...


Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:53 am
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
misterpessimistic: But people are ostracized, marginalized and killed over religious beliefs. So it has to be scrutinzed IMO.

I agree. I've agreed all along. I'm not trying to shield religion from scrutiny. What I'm trying to say is that the tool Dennett proposes is really only qualified to assess certain parts of religion, certain claims made about religion. In as much as we want or need to subject those particular claims and parts to scrutiny, science is useful. But there are other claims more central to religion that science, for better or worse, simply does not have the apparatus to engage. If you want to show religion up as bullshit (and I think that Dennett wants the same thing, but has diplomatically refrained from saying so), then science is going to disappoint you there.

The natural explanation that the person is under some delusion.

Only if you assume as a matter of course that the claim is false. But I can't see any way for science to actually test the religious claim. That the person is delusional is a conclusion you've drawn because you reject the claim out of hand, not because science has demonstrated it to be false.

Dennett has been careful to say...

Dennett has been careful to say a lot of things. I don't take all of them at face value. The reason for this is that he says a lot of things throughout that seem inconsistent with some of his stated goals in writing the book. In particular, his attitude towards the Christian audience he invites to the discussion seems variable and tenuous at best. And that's a feature of the book's tone that others have, in this thread, recognized as well.

I know you do not like or accept the idea of memes, and that you also hold religion to be an ultra valuable asset to humanity.

Whether or not I like the idea of memes is beside the point. My criticism of the meme model is grounded in the same sort of skepticism and critical reasoning that is routinely applied to religion on this site; I don't think it's out of place here. My concern about the meme model is that it appears to have been conceived in large part to make it possible to level critiques against religion in biological terms -- as such, it's far more politically loaded a term than most in science, and I think it's being used by some writers as a way to levy attacks against something that they dislike on a personal level rather than as a tool of politically disinterested scientific inquiry.

As for religion, my opinion of its social value is more moderate than you'd imagine. If we didn't have religion, we'd have to find something to replace it, but that doesn't necessarily mean we'd be worse off as a society. That said, I think that there are other worthwhile reasons for defending the possibility of religion.

You prove to people like me WHY Dennett is on to something here...

Is it always personal with you?




Mon Sep 18, 2006 7:02 pm
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Post Re: But will anyone buy it?
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Is it always personal with you?


You bet yer bippy it is!

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





Mon Sep 18, 2006 7:15 pm
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