Quote of the week: PZ Myers

27 05 2008

From Pharyngula:

It is definitely the case that the human mind is not a piece of clockwork logic, and there are certainly irrational interpretations of the world that mesh well with our flawed preconceptions, and it can even make us feel good to give in to comforting myths. But this is not good for us. Put rats on a variable reinforcement schedule in a cage with a button that dispenses electric shocks to the pleasure centers of their brain, and they will push that button with passion and energy and even, as near as we can interpret it, joy … but that is a rat that has thrown away its rattiness and has dedicated its life to a shallow, empty abstraction. It is a rat that has found its god.

Richard Dawkins couldn’t have put it better himself.

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5 responses

29 05 2008
Bruce

I’m not sure I like this quote…

…but that is a rat that has thrown away its rattiness and has dedicated its life to a shallow, empty abstraction.

Seems a lot like “it’s not natural” to me.

29 05 2008
arthurvandelay

Good point.

29 05 2008
Bruce

It actually reminded me of a (silly) Ayn Rand quote about homosexuality that I can’t locate ATM.

29 05 2008
AV

Now that you put it that way, it’s probably a poor choice of words on PZ’s part. I doubt he meant to claim that theism/magical isn’t “natural,” only that it isn’t good for us.

29 05 2008
Bruce

I was just talking about the loss-of-rattiness-to-happy-button part, rattiness being in the rat’s nature and the metaphor’s application to other scenarios (not just religion).

Take for example having an active sex life facilitated by modern contraceptives. I don’t think I’d like someone telling me that I’d forsaken my humanity in lieu of an un-natural lifestyle that (either through aberration from nature or otherwise) wasn’t good for me.

I’m just not so sure that in the case of sex, the rat and in religion, that the “happy button” is actually harmful. At least not necessarily so (obviously there are things like sex addiction, self neglect and religious bigotry).

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