Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nickel Creek's "Twenty-first of May" to my #AtheistEar

If last week was an example of a great song with disturbing overtones, this week's song takes a tongue in cheek look at those overtones.

Nickel Creek included this song poking a bit of fun at the followers Harold Camping, who believed that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011, on their 2014 album, A Dotted Line:

While it may seem a bit cruel - not to mention shooting fish in a barrel easy - to poke fun at people like the late Mr. Camping, it's worth remembering that there is such a thing as Being Wrong. 

Too many people throw dumb ideas around that are painfully, obviously, and predictably wrong; and yet, they somehow defend themselves from criticism by claiming that you can't prove them wrong. Their sincerely held beliefs trump all of the facts, evidence, and rational reasoning you might bring to bear. Sometimes they wrap themselves in "different ways of knowing" or cast doubt on your credibility, ignoring everything - even previous errors of their own - for the sake of insisting that they have some mystical foreknowledge that you don't have.

Well, I've never been so sure
And I've never led no one astray
'Cept in the fall of '94
But Hallelujah, the 21st of May

They laughed while Noah built his boat
Then cried when came the rain
They mock me now but I will float on the 21st of May
They mock me now but I will float on the 21st of May

It's all harmless enough when they are just selling pamphlets and putting up billboards, but there are deeper, more insidious ways that people are wrong. They ignore evidence to cast doubt on the safety of vaccines, they ignore the body of science on global warming, and insist that economic austerity is necessary to "fix" our economy - all subjects on which the vast, overwhelming body of study contradicts them.

Still, people like me have a responsibility to remain civil. We can't force people to see reason; we can only explain it, sometimes repeatedly, and hope it sinks in. And yes, sometimes, we poke a bit too much fun at them, making them hunker down in their miserable wrongness and ignore us even harder.

Still, there remains the undeniable fact that the only appropriate response to ridiculous ideas is to ridicule them.

(If you haven't seen this, by the way, you owe yourself 20 minutes to see them perform four songs on their NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert - 21st of May is the 3rd song.)

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