A few days ago, I went with a friend to a public lecture on global warming at the local university. I sat beside a friend of mine and rolled my neck a bit to stretch it out.

"Eww. Does your neck always do that?" She said, mildly in disgust.

"Do what?" I replied.

"Make that sound?" The sound she was referring to was the sound that my neck has made for years, best demonstrated by a sixteen-wheeler driving over bubble wrap.

"It has for a while now, why do you ask?"

"You should go see someone about that!" As if scripted for a TV commercial or sitcom, she pulls a business card out of her front pocket. It makes me wonder if she keeps a stack of them in her jacket, waiting for the perfect moment to hand one out.

In any case, the card was colorful, with text surrounding a drawing of a turtle and shooting stars. It was for a holistic chiropractor working out of a yoga studio in Sedona, AZ. The man offered a slew of services including acupuncture, spiritual cleansing, and meridian healing. I still have no idea what the hell meridian healing is, but someone offered to perform the service for me remotely, via twitter, for a discounted price.

Northern Arizona, for the uninitiated, seems to me to be the new age capitol of planet Earth. Living here is a blood-pressure-raising experience for anyone who considers themselves a skeptic. I live in an endless ocean of crystal gazers and astrologers, some of which happen to be friends of mine. This is a place where a friend of mine was nearly accosted for accidentally knocking down the center of the universe (not kidding).

I have the sense to know when to keep my mouth shut, but unfortunately, I rarely have the will to do so. My propensity to argue unfounded beliefs has alienated family, friends, and co-workers, but some of their beliefs seem to come from Disney movies or weeklong acid trips.

The point of this rant is thus: when surrounded by people you love, but are delusional (in the strictest sense of the word), where do you draw the line? How do you knock some sense into people, educate them on rational and critical thinking without being condescending?

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Comment by CJoe on February 18, 2009 at 12:24pm
Yeah. Nashville, TN is the BUCKLE of the Bible Belt, so I feel ya on being in a place flooded with ridiculousness. I mean, it seems there are just different brands of the same poo.

Anyway, I just sent a myspace message to my little brother. I admitted I wasn't a Christian and briefly told him why. I asked him a couple of challenging questions, like... "If you found info that disproved God, would you want to know it? Is your belief in God more important than knowing the truth? Are you open to learning?" I didn't go into a lot of detail; I just gave him the opportunity to ask questions if he were curious. I also assured him I knew where he was coming from (since I was HEAVILY devoted to God/Jesus up until a year ago) so he wouldn't feel the need to give me all the details of HIS beliefs.

Well. We'll see how that turns out.
Comment by Dave G on February 18, 2009 at 12:45pm
That's a very good question, Jake. If you find the answer, I'd like to know it, too. Even the most delicate attempts to talk to people about such things tends to be interpreted as an attack. Even among people who are rational about things other than their personal delusion.

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