debate fail

It started out innocently enough. Coworker A comes back from session with chiropractor/massage guy, starts telling me funny story about how he did this test where he pressed down on her arm and told her about her past lives. We were sharing a good laugh about 187 past lives (about average for his clients) and I noted how unfair that would be, with a limited number of souls available due to vast population increases, and Coworker B comes trotting over and says, “wait, I hear some faulty logic here”. Oh crap, I’ve not ever debated this form of woo, I don’t even know how they argue it. I mention increases from hundreds of millions to billions and he counters, “How do we know there weren’t billions and billions of people back then?” Oh CRAP. I opened my mouth, took a breath to speak, and then shut it abruptly. This was getting into territory best not gone into at a place of employment, I was already halfway to splodey-headed. “Since there is no evidence there were, that possibility isn’t a valid argument about whether or not I was logically flawed in my scoffing at 187 past lives being average based on population figures,” I did not respond, in spite of wanting to very much. As I stood holding my lips shut by sheer force of will, he continued, “And how do we know these lives are lived sequentially? What if some of them are from the future?” he inquired, and I started feeling dizzy. Then, thankfully, I remembered to breathe.

The conversation continued, with more coworkers trotting over. One offered the observation that he had deja-vu frequently, and finally I spoke up, “that’s easy to explain. The way we store memory, and the reason it’s easy to implant memories, is that the brain tends to store a particular memory but lose the context, like if your aunt told you a story about you in the pool as a child but it was really some other kid, then later you have that memory as if it happened to you — your brain didn’t store the way you got that story, just the story.” There was a little more talk about souls roaming around looking for bodies to inhabit, and I said, jokingly, “around the volcano?” They looked at me funny and I said, “you know, Xenu?” and everyone laughed, nobody believes that crap, right? (I was actually quite relieved to hear that bit.)

I could have done that much better, but I was taken entirely off-guard and admittedly very unprepared. I need to study the various versions of woo more carefully, so that I’m not so easily blindsided by … future lives being lived now? Really? REALLY?

If I had shot that down though, would it have been a good idea, considering I quite like my job, and between me & Coworker B we have over a decade with the company, so it’s hardly a situation that should be made awkward by heated debate.

Still I feel like I was a giant ball of fail, I had a ready audience and if I’d been eloquent and better-informed, I could have … but I didn’t.

I didn’t. I didn’t even make the “reintarnation – when you come back in your next life as a hillbilly” joke. I FAILED.

7 thoughts on “debate fail

  1. Ah, well — it was, as you say, not really the proper venue. In the context of unfocused chatter it's easier to plant an idiotic question like “How do we know there weren't billions of people back then” than it is to make the coherent argument necessary to show that there weren't.

    I always figured they accounted for the number imbalance by claiming that some people are reincarnated from animals (like in Hinduism) or from intelligent beings on other planets. Never heard the one about reincarnation working backwards in time.

    The thing that always strikes me about this is that so many people claim to believe in reincarnation who also claim to be Christians, even though reincarnation is utterly incompatible with Christian doctrine. It illustrates how muddled and shallow many people's beliefs really are. That contradiction might be a good line of attack if the subject of reincarnation comes up again.

    1. You know, I kind of wondered why he didn't bring up the animal thing. It would make as much sense as anything if they claimed monkey souls (and would explain a lot about … everything, you know?)

      I was surprised by how many of my coworkers felt that reincarnation was entirely plausible. I think it's a rather pleasant form of wishful thinking, much more pleasant than actual religion – who doesn't want a do-over?

      1. The idea of a “do-over” would be attractive if it represented a genuine continuity of the same entity. Most claims about reincarnation include (out of necessity) the proviso that in each life you have almost no memory of the previous life.

        If I die and an entity is born which has no memory of being me, then it isn't me.

        No, thanks. I'm staying here.

  2. LOL! Oh, that is hilarious. A population decrease from the roots of Homosapien sapien, instead of an increase (a complete ignorance of archeology and paleontology, to name only two), coupled with the complete obliviousness to the fact that the very notion of that kind of reincarnation is a logical absurdity. Idiot. How can you be reincarnated into a life that's already passed?! Just what kind of a job does this person hold anyway, outside of the custodial arts?

    And I agree with Infidel: transmutation would be like death, as far as I'm concerned.

    1. actually? it's a fairly technical position – which was why I was so surprised. And I've got to be really super-careful, as it turns out, quite a few people there are quite keen on reincarnation. And since I love my job, I will have to continue being quiet.

      Though the last time (the subject came up again, it's like it just won't die), and I had to literally clamp my hand over my mouth.

      1. Wow – THIS IS FUNNY STUFF! Your last comment, that it came up again? You mean like it was reincarnated?
        My thought is simple…reincarnation is more pleasant than the majority opinion of judgement. People are open to ideas other than the christian afterlife. This is a good thing. Of course, most people haven't taken the time to research the truth behind the possible afterlife theories… Sci Fi movies late at night are a great educator. *sigh*

  3. Wow – THIS IS FUNNY STUFF! Your last comment, that it came up again? You mean like it was reincarnated?
    My thought is simple…reincarnation is more pleasant than the majority opinion of judgement. People are open to ideas other than the christian afterlife. This is a good thing. Of course, most people haven't taken the time to research the truth behind the possible afterlife theories… Sci Fi movies late at night are a great educator. *sigh*

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