The cost of intellectual dishonesty

No wonder he decided that some people need killing:

The more I argued with them, the better I came to know their dialectic. First they counted on the stupidity of their adversary, and then, when there was no other way out, they themselves simply played stupid. If all this didn’t help, they pretended not to understand, or, if challenged, they changed the subject in a hurry, quoted platitudes which, if you accepted them, they immediately related to entirely different matters, and then, if again attacked, gave ground and pretended not to know exactly what you were talking about. Whenever you tried to attack one of these apostles, your hand closed on a jelly-like slime which divided up and poured through your fingers, but in the next moment collected again. But if you really struck one of these fellows so telling a blow that, observed by the audience, he couldn’t help but agree, and if you believed that this had taken you at least one step forward, your amazement was great the next day. [He] had not the slightest recollection of the day before, he rattled off his same old nonsense as though nothing at all had happened, and, if indignantly challenged, affected amazement; he couldn’t remember a thing, except that he had proved the correctness of his assertions the previous day.

Sometimes I stood there thunderstruck. I didn’t know what to be more amazed at: the agility of their tongues or their virtuosity at lying.

It’s not often that you feel a sense of sympathy for one of the most infamous mass murderers in history, but it’s interesting to consider how the young Hitler learned to take this petty, individual dishonesty which he found so frustrating and apply it on a much grander scale to such lethal .

I found both sides of this coin to be quite interesting and relevant, Why Religious Believers Don’t Take Intellectuals Seriously and Why Intellectuals Don’t Take Religious Believers Seriously. I think he makes a better case against the intellectuals, – by which he actually means academics – (and I can just hear Renee saying “you would, wouldn’t you”), but then, as an academic himself, he is more privy to the intellectual sins of his peers.

This is not to say that much of his criticism against religious believers is ill-placed, but it tends to apply against the subset of the group that many Christians don’t find intellectually respectable themselves. And the idea that what he characterizes as “ultraconservative” pastors don’t ever preach on Matthew 25: 34-46 and the requirement to provide for the sick, homeless, hungry and imprisoned is simply ignorant, to his credit, however, he appears to be open to the possibility that he’s incorrect on that score.