Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Wikipedia entry on Delusion

Maybe this will help us get an idea of what the delusion-rhetoric is all about.

8 comments:

Martin said...

"As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, stupidity, apperception, illusion, or other effects of perception."

Hmmm. Seems like delusion isn't the right word that atheists are looking for, then.

Roffle said...

"Hmmm. Seems like delusion isn't the right word that atheists are looking for, then."

Words have more than one meaning...take a look in a dictionary and you will find an entry for delusion that is simply "a false belief or opinion." The Wikipedia article clearly is addressing solely the psychiatric condition, which Dawkins has already conceded that it is not a delusion in a psychiatric sense, merely because too many people have it. However, he says that if you take someone who thinks they are Napoleon vs. someone who believes Jesus walked on water, will give them everlasting life, etc., then there is no significant difference besides popularity in which to differentiate them.

Blue Devil Knight said...

'Delusion' is polysemous, like most words. I.e., what he said.

Anonymous said...

The Wikipedia article clearly is addressing solely the psychiatric condition, which Dawkins has already conceded that it is not a delusion in a psychiatric sense, merely because too many people have it. However, he says that if you take someone who thinks they are Napoleon vs. someone who believes Jesus walked on water, will give them everlasting life, etc., then there is no significant difference besides popularity in which to differentiate them.

Are you saying that someone who thinks they are Napoleon is not deluded in a psychiatric sense?

And if a delusion is "simply a false belief or opinion", is Dawkins prepared to assert either that A) He has no false beliefs or opinions, or B) That he is very likely a deluded individual?

I think Victor's point is that the "delusion" tag is being thrown around dishonestly here. If I accuse someone of having once engaged in child molestation, and I justify it by saying "They got in a fist fight with a classmate in the fourth grade. Punching is a kind of molestation, and their target was a child," did I really justify it?

Roffle said...

"Are you saying that someone who thinks they are Napoleon is not deluded in a psychiatric sense?"

I don't know why you think this is implied, but the answer is no.

"And if a delusion is "simply a false belief or opinion", is Dawkins prepared to assert either that A) He has no false beliefs or opinions, or B) That he is very likely a deluded individual?"

Under that definition, I would think that he would concede that, but in order to make the point that Vic is making (or at least what you imply his is making), that would need to be the definition that Dawkins is using, that I am not certain of. I only used it to illustrate that words have more than one meaning and that some of those meanings apply to theistic beliefs.

However, I had recently watched an interview in which he denied that he was saying that theists were delusional in a psychiatric sense, so I know that he is not using the medical definition of the word.

If I were to infer at what he means when he says that theists are delusional, I think this would be close: "a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact". Under that definition, I would guess that he would not concede that he is deluded.

Anonymous said...

However, I had recently watched an interview in which he denied that he was saying that theists were delusional in a psychiatric sense, so I know that he is not using the medical definition of the word.

What a surprise. Dawkins is playing fast and loose with words, trying to maximize effect and smuggle in assumptions that he won't back up when he's called on it.

Again: If I accuse someone of having once engaged in child molestation, and I justify it by saying "They got in a fist fight with a classmate in the fourth grade. Punching is a kind of molestation, and their target was a child," did I really justify it? Does Dawkins really justify his use of language when he throws around "delusion" but if you call him on it, he heavily qualifies what he means by "delusion" to make it sound all nice and harmless?

Roffle said...

"What a surprise. Dawkins is playing fast and loose with words, trying to maximize effect and smuggle in assumptions that he won't back up when he's called on it."

Smuggling in assumptions? He isn't smuggling in anything. He has made it clear as to what he means with the term and it coincides with common acceptance of what the term means and he backs that point in his book.

I find it troubling and somewhat hypocritical that you have failed to back up your assertions with anything, which is the same thing that you accuse Dawkins of.

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