Merry Christmas! Now cut it out.
Researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, say a 12-inch Christmas tree caused non-Christians and/or those who don't celebrate the holiday to feel excluded, thereby lowering their sense of self-worth.
(Read the story on MSNBC.com)
Social psychologist Michael Schmitt, who led the study, said non-Christians and non-celebrants felt their sense of self worth lowered after entering the room with the tree, while all but one Christian/celebrant who participated felt their sense of self worth increased by seeing the tree.
He suggests toning down Christmas displays in public places to make non-Christians feel less left out.
But following that line of thought would lead to an entirely different conclusion.
(This is just a thought experiment, so don't get angry -- I'm only making a case full of Schmitt's own reasoning to show it's ridiculousness.)
Argument: Christian (X) and non-Christian (Y) each have a self-worth level of 5. (1 being lowest and 10 highest.) Each walks into the room without a Christmas tree. X and Y both leave the room still at self-worth level 5.
Next, X and Y walk into a room with a 12-inch Christmas tree. Y now feels worse about himself (down to level 3), but X feels better (up to level 8).
Our proposed solution is to remove the tree and leave both X and Y at level 5. This is great for Y, but worse for X. Should X be forced to suffer just so Y's feeling's won't be hurt? Maybe. But wouldn't a better solution be to raise both X and Y to level 8 -- or higher?
Now we need to figure out how to make that happen.
Ricky Gervais from 8 to ∞
In a related item, funnyman Ricky Gervais writes on The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog on how his older brother convinced him within one hour to stop seeing Jesus as his hero at age 8 and become an disbeliever in God altogether.
Gervais says it doesn't bother him if others believe in a god, but there's no science for it, so he doesn't.
It's mostly an intelligent read, but he does pull out the canard that science is superior because, among other things, "It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray."
This argument always gets a bug up my bum because some (not all) scientists are so fond of saying that something isn't true unless it's been proved by science. Gervais himself argues in this very piece that it is impossible to prove God's existence through science, therefore it makes perfectly good sense that he doesn't exist.
By this reasoning, if someone had by happenstance mixed up a batch of penicillin during the Middle Ages it wouldn't have cured anything because there was no scientific research to prove that it would. Leaches would have worked better.
No, I can't prove through scientific methods the existence of anything outside this physical reality; I can prove it through spiritual methods. Anyone who doesn't have -- and doesn't want -- the instruments to measure those things can't see it.
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(Photo: Christmas Tree by Anna Cervova)