Tag Archives: Bill Maher

People Who Enjoy Making Others Feel Crappy About Themselves

Have you ever argued with someone who makes you feel crappy about yourself for the views you espouse? I call these types of people “Admiralbills.” Admiralbill was my old nemesis from the now defunct message board called “Sistertrek.” He had a personality type I have observed in all corners of the internet, talk radio and conservative cable news.

Typical examples of the Admiralbill personality type include Ann Coulter, Michael Voris, Anchormom, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. This personality type is almost always conservative although there are some liberal examples. Bill Maher comes to mind. The liberals tend to be atheists interestingly enough. The conservative ones long for a return to a more virtuous era, blaming change and liberalism for the downfall of civilization.

The reason the Admiralbills of the world make you feel crappy is they make their points by shaming their opponents. They label their opponents weak, lazy, stupid dishonest with the implication that you are possessed by these same qualities if you agree with them. Admiralbills are bullies and try to intimidate their opponents into admitting they are correct or otherwise giving in to their point of view.

Admiralbills are unforgiving. They will use any olive branch their opponents offer against them as evidence of guilt.

Another interesting trait shared by many within this personality type (mostly the conservative ones) is that they talk in clichés. They typically have a snappy, prefabricated phrase always at the ready with which to label their opponents. Perhaps this technique makes it easier for them to remember their arguments. It seems a little intellectually lazy; almost a technique to avoid thinking in an Orwellian sense. Once an opponent is labeled they become that label and cease to be a person deserving respect in the eyes of an Admiralbill.

Admiralbills subscribe to a shame based morality structure. They believe shame is what keeps civilization intact. If someone is not pulling their weight or otherwise acting immoral they deserved to be shamed. What the Admiralbills of the world do not seem to realize is that their motivation to shame other people is not virtuous as they would like to believe but is really only a replaying of the shaming they received when their own morality structure was imposed upon them. They possess a loyalty to this system of shame and often become enraged when this system is challenged. Challenging this system touches the very core of their sense of self and has to be protected at all costs. They view the people who challenge this system as literally trying to destroy their world. This is why there can be no compromising with Admiralbills. Compromise destroys their world and the people who seek to compromise are traitors and terrorists.

This system of shame is passed on to others by shaming them. When a person is shamed they will instinctively want to shame other people because this lessens their own shameful feelings momentarily. It is a primitive, dominating instinct like dogs humping dogs and prisoners humping prisoners. But like an addiction the desire to shame other people can never be fully satiated. In this way shame repeats itself over and over and spreads like a virus from one host to another.

How do I know all this? Because I was once one of them. I was trapped in the shame dynamic. I was miserable but I did not want to see past it because shame had convinced me that to challenge shame is disloyal and treasonous. Breaking out of this dynamic was an eye-opening and liberating experience. It all starts with awareness of the cycle. With awareness the burning desire to pass along shame begins to diminish. There is more to it but that is the start.

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Thoughts On Quotes from Bill Maher and Penn Jillette, Atheism and Religion In General

I heard Bill Maher say this on his show “Real Time” and it got me to thinking.

Explain to me how a book that is written by God, who is perfect, there’s so much–it’s pro-slavery, pro-polygamy, it’s homophobic, God in the Old Testament is a psychotic mass murderer–I mean, there’s so many things in it. I always say to my religious friends, you know, if a pool had even one turd in it, would you jump in? — Bill Maher

First of all, Maher is proposing a straw man argument.  Yes, there is quite a bit of stuff in the bible that is contradictory to modern morality and even to itself at times.  To use that as a strike against the Bible assumes the Bible is supposed to be interpreted literally.  Some people espouse this viewpoint and to them, I assume Maher’s argument is difficult to circumvent.  But certainly all Christians do not agree that the Bible is to be interpreted literally.  So this argument cannot really be used to refute Christianity or (as I suspect Maher is implying) religion in general.

Second this argument is painting religion in a purely intellectual framework.  I would argue that religion makes more sense on the emotional and spiritual levels than it does on the intellectual.  To me, religion seems to come from the limbic system whereas science and logic come from the prefrontal cortex.  That is, religion comes from an emotional, primitive part of the human conscience.  It comes from the place that wants to connect to its source, the infinite unknowable that is reality.  I suspect those inclined towards religion feel an emotional need to connect to this unknowable something.  In this way, faith is a feeling more than an intellectual belief.  Because this something is unknowable, I see religion as a tool created to relate to that something.

This brings me to another quote I ran across recently from Penn Jillette:

If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again. — Penn Jillette

This statement might be true but I would argue religions are products of the culture in which they arose.  We live in a big complicated universe that we don’t understand.  At the same time we feel more comfortable when we understand things so we frame the unknowable according to things we understand and what we understand changes over time and from culture to culture.  That is why Christianity is different from Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and even Scientology.  Religions are different because the infinite unknowable is unknowable.  Science is the same from culture to culture because the material world is knowable.  As such I do not see Penn Jillette’s statement (even if true) to be a particularly effective in terms of undermining the case for religion.

English: Penn Jillette at Rio Las Vegas

English: Penn Jillette at Rio Las Vegas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Really, the only honest position is agnosticism because we cannot know for sure what is the true nature of reality and if there is something more than material existence.  But agnosticism is neither interesting intellectually or satisfying emotionally.  So those inclined towards religion choose religions (usually) connected with the culture they live in.  That does not mean that religion is wrong or untrue.  It means we are trying to have a connection with the infinite unknowable on some level.

The final point I’d like to make is that it is probably impossible for a person inclined towards religion and a person not inclined towards religion to find common ground on an intellectual level.  This is not something that an honest debate can solve in most cases.  This is precisely because religion is emotional at its core.  I suspect atheism is also emotional at its core in the case of Maher and Jillette given how they argue their points of view.  I have respect for anyone’s belief.  It seems that statements like Maher’s and Jillette’s come off a bit snarky and judgmental.  They seem to observe religion from a purely intellectual vantage point and from there it is easy to claim religion is nonsense.  I certainly do not want to say they are wrong for doing this. I guess I would rather they not support their beliefs by attempting to shame those who disagree.

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