The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics

Brother Jed today; SASHAtalk & Meeting tomorrow; confirmation bias

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Hello everyone,

A few quick updates:

The infamous Brother Jed will be preaching on Mizzou’s campus today. We’ll be out doing our Ask an Atheist table and handing out information about our meeting tomorrow. Please stop by Speakers’ Circle, say hello, and show your support!

Brother Jed from last spring, with our Ask an Atheist table in the background

Tomorrow (Wednesday 9/7) at 5:30 PM in the new Mizzou Student Center, room 2213-A, we will have our weekly meeting, including a SASHAtalk by Mizzou law student Maggie Ahrens about the World Trade Center “Cross” lawsuit. Here is the Facebook event. If you need help finding the room or need directions, please feel free to call or text me (Dave) at 573-424-0420 cell.

The other thing I wanted to mention today is confirmation bias. This is something I’m sure you’ve heard of, but just in case, confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.

I had to stop myself today, because I noticed that I displayed quite extreme confirmation bias earlier this morning. I was browsing r/atheism over on Reddit and came across some information that indicated one of my favorite Christian counter-apologetics arguments had some factual errors (the alleged parallels between Egyptian hero-savior mythology and Christian hero-savior mythology). I started to surf on and had to say to myself, “Wait. Stop. Go back to the link. Read this.” My brain seemed to go on autopilot and try to get me to move on to the next link, rather than finding out the details about why my argument was incorrect (and therefore, why I would have to stop using it in debates). This is information that I ought to be happy to find out: I don’t like being incorrect, especially in debates when I’m very likely to be called out on it. I want to offer good information to people and persuade them to see the flaws in their religious arguments without making use of any dishonesty or misinformation. Finding out that I had misinformation in my repertoire seems like something I should be eager to read about, but that’s not what happened. I had to make myself go back and read it.

The argument I’m talking about is this one (clip from Bill Maher’s Religulous, relevant portion starts at 4:00). It turns out, upon closer examination, that a lot of the things he mentions are real reaches so far as Egyptian mythos scholarship would seem to indicate. I’m disappointed because I have long considered this a great argument against the truth claims of Christianity, but at the same time, I’m thrilled to no longer be spreading misinformation in this specific regard. I will have to study this some more.

Here’s an interesting link with more information about the hero pattern:

Signing off for now; see you at Speakers’ Circle today, and at the meeting tomorrow!

– Dave

(573) 424-0420 cell/text

Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, he posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is

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Helpful resources:
Iron Chariots Wiki
Skeptics’ Annotated Bible / Skeptics’ Annotated Qur’an

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Blogs: Greta Christina, PZ Myers, The Friendly Atheist, WWJTD?, Debunking Christianity, SkepChick

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About MU SASHA Administrator

University of Missouri SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics) University of Missouri-Columbia

2 comments on “Brother Jed today; SASHAtalk & Meeting tomorrow; confirmation bias

  1. Jay
    September 6, 2011

    That’s a good point about confirmation bias. I find it’s quite easy for me to fall into it when I’ve been surrounded by a skeptic social bubble where everyone more or less agrees with me. Every piece of evidence, every bit of logic, every debate *appears* to strengthen my worldview, and so the danger grows that I’ll get glib and just surf over any mistakes or factual errors in my thinking or evidence. It’s something we must strive to be vigilant against.

  2. Pingback: Faith « The Official MU SASHA Blog, Updated Daily

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