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

A child molester talks about gullibility & church-going folks

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A friend of mine, who is a pediatrician and a pastor at a local church, posted this article today on his Facebook wall with the comment, “Great reminder about pedophiles.” The quotation below comes from that article:

I considered church people easy to fool… they have a trust that comes from being Christians. They tend to be better folks all around and seem to want to believe in the good that exists in people. I think they want to believe in people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.

These words were spoken by a convicted child molester, according to the article, which was quoting clinical psychologist Anna Salter, and author of the book Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders.

SASHA contributing writers Seth Kurtenbach and Brandon Christen have both written about gullibility on this blog before, but I think it’s worth talking about more. In his book The Believing Brain, Michael Shermer talks about our natural tendency to be obedient. There are strong evolutionary fitness advantages to this historically: If your dog wants to run & play in the street, listening to you call him back over could easily save his or her life. Dogs simply don’t understand how dangerous cars can be as well as we humans do, and it’s in their best interest to obey us when it comes to hanging out in the streets we have built.

Similarly, if as a tot, you decide you’re curious about what’s over the edge of that cliff, there’s an obvious fitness advantage to listening to your parents when they yell “No!” while they come running to stop you. Going the other way, there’s a strong fitness advantage to eating vegetables, even if you dislike the taste, and you should listen to your parents when they tell you to do it.

But, parents are not right about everything. Specifically, if your parents tell you that there’s a magical man in the sky who watches everything you do, and who will reward you for doing good or punish you for doing bad — even when your parents aren’t looking — you can, and should, question this. I’m talking, of course, about Santa Claus 😉

Is religious belief rooted in gullibility? Can religious belief be explained simply as a lack of skepticism, if we are naturally selected to believe, and it is easy to hijack that sense of obedience? As someone once put it, “Religion was invented when the first conman met the first fool” (Mark Twain, attributed). And if you’ve never seen the movie The Invention of Lying, you should!

Your thoughts appreciated.

Until next time!

– 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, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is

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About Danielle Muscato

Danielle Muscato is a civil rights activist, writer, and public speaker. She has appeared on or been quoted in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, and on MTV News, VH1, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, "The Real Story" with Gretchen Carlson, The O'Reilly Factor, Huffington Post Live, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Raw Story, CNN, CBS, and Howard Stern Danielle is the former Director of Public Relations for American Atheists. She is also a board member of MU SASHA (University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics). Her website is Follow her on Google+ Follow her on Twitter @daniellemuscato Subscribe to her on YouTube at

One comment on “A child molester talks about gullibility & church-going folks

  1. rocketkirchner
    April 17, 2012

    Gullible thinking or sloppy thinking –is everywhere . no matter weather one is religiuos or secular. There is ”saftey in numbers ”in churches , but also that same illusion of saftey in colleges , universitys , etc.
    it is like saying that religous people start wars. true . but so do Stalins and Maoists. ..and Pol Pots , and Hitlers. the problem is not the secular verses the religuos , but rather when it comes to war –the human heart.
    same goes with gullibility . in this case its the lazy thinker who wont question EVERYTHING . As the war-mongers heart is hard , the gullible mind is soft. when diagnosing a problem it is alwyas good to get to the root of the root of it . and in this case almost everyone is on equal ground when it comes to soft minds , unless they have become a real individual and are not parroting other people from a society that has manufactured consent .

    it is important for us to be reminded that you cant fool Atheists like Neitzche , and you cant fool Christians like Kierkegaard. The rest of us have a long way to go .

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2012 by in Author: Dave Muscato and tagged , , .
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