Polite Conversation vs Bigoted Beliefs

There was a study that purported to show this, but the data turned out to be faked. I am wondering if there is any real evidence that this tactic works. Personally I’ve never had this work for me (at least not with homo/transphobia), but maybe I just suck at polite conversation.

Sarah Bowman

Sarah Bowman, Secular Humanist, atheist, studied theology, social work, some philosophy, anthropology

Maybe I suck at polite conversation, too, because I tend to have similar results but first let’s be sure we’re on the same page regarding the meaning of the word “bigot.” I define a bigot as someone who thinks they’ve got all the answers, are better than others, and won’t consider  another point of view.

Here is Merriam-Webster on bigot:

: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Vocabulary.com. on origin of the word bigot:

A bigot can also be someone who refuses to accept other ideas, as in politics. This word was borrowed from Middle French, but the French word is of uncertain origin. In Old French bigot was a term of abuse for Normans, and possibly related to the oath bi got “by God.” In English and French, a bigot was originally a hypocrite, a person who claims to have certain moral beliefs but whose behavior doesn’t match those beliefs. Abigot was specifically a hypocritical professor of religion, but the connection with the current sense of bigot is not clear.

Obviously today bigoted views, while still including religion, extend far beyond to race, politics, and pretty much everything and anything else one can have an opinion on. In my opinion, hatred and intolerance are strong words, but when I look at the behaviour of so many people I know…

A nephew of mine who is a solid political conservative ended the conversation about the legitimacy of Social Assistance when I challenged the finer details of his argument that “anyone who wants to work can find work.” In another Facebook conversation with my friends he (a fundamentalist Christian with only eight grades of formal education) butted in with his know-it-all voice echoing my brother’s and father’s voices (his father and grandfather) telling us in no uncertain terms how the world works. When I informed him of the weakness of his position (something women don’t tell the men of my family) he unfriended me, doubtlessly with an unchanged opinion of his own correct position.

That, in my opinion, is the epitome of the arrogant bigoted view and accompanying behaviour. Neither the soft touch, nor tough love, had a positive constructive effect.

Another example is my sister. She does not believe in evolution so I showed her a DVD with a Christian biology professor’s presentation to high school students explaining the basics of how evolution works. She silently watched it from beginning to end. I assumed she was taking in the obvious demonstrations and explanations. They are so clear and logical. At the end she said in a sarcastic voice, “He’s got a lot of education to know all that.” Education, apparently, is a bad thing.

Recently I read a Christian’s simple testimony of why she believed absolutely in the truth of the Bible. I think it was a post on Quora. It went something like this: If I anticipated the thought that there might be contradictions in the Bible, my faith would fall apart and all of Christianity would be proved false.” She went on to explain that therefore the Bible was true and her faith well-placed. I can’t find that post but here is an example from the post of Justin Dobbs, written on Quora, Dec. 2, 2012 that may serve to show how people manage to stick to their beliefs regardless of polite conversation across centuries:

But the question here is, if this is God’s word, why do these errors exist? Why would God allow these errors at all? God hasn’t revealed why He would allow errors in the copying of the Scriptures, but “the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 40:8). God has ever been the champion of free will and has often allowed a lie to be heard by those unwilling to believe the truth. See 1 Kings 22 for an example. It may be that God allows enough evidence for the one intent on disbelieving to find excuse for disbelief. For those who find the truth in God’s word, the manuscript variants ought to be recognized and not dismissed. However, believing in Christ, we already realize the perfection of God performed through imperfect man (Rom 11:30-36).


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