“Just works” skepticism

I have an almost reflex-like skepticism to anything that is advertised along the lines of “just plug it in, and it works; no tweaking or understanding is required”. Here’s why:

In 9 out of 10 cases, the main difference between something that “just works” and something that has to be configured to work, is that when the thing that “just works” stops working, it’s impossible to tweak it to make it work again.

This is why I’m skeptical to Apple products (please note that skepticism does not mean I don’t believe it could work just perfectly), religion, and generally anything that does not come with an options/configuration/settings menu that has enough entries for every person in the world.

And yes, I know I’m paraphrasing Douglas Adams.


~ by Shadowbird on 2008-10-15.

4 Responses to ““Just works” skepticism”

  1. Does atheism have a configuration option?

  2. Atheism is nothing but a set of configuration options. As is all science, on which atheism is based. If a specific combination of the settings (a theory, an interpreation of facts) stops working (new facts invalidate it) you can adjust the theory, or come up with another one (in most cases — a better one) altogether, and you’ve got a working one again.

    Religion is supposed to “just work” (you just believe in it, without any reason or justification). So, when it clashes with opposing facts, you’re screwed. Unless you actively choose to completely ignore parts of reality (like pretending that religious discussions are outside the realms of reason, logic & science), there’s nothing you can (or are allowed to, mostly!) do to make religion work (i.e., tweak and improve it to fit the facts).

  3. You are equating atheism with scientific worldview, but i doubt that it is the same. This equation suggests that atheists are people whose logic in most cases is based in science, but don’t you think that their logic could be as “emotional” as those that are religious? Religious followers says they believe in God, and they don’t need any scientific proof that God exists. Atheists can oppose to the idea of God, and they also don’t need any hard evidence about that: it is enough that the world “just works” without a supernatural intervention. It is enough that they believe that the God does not exist.

    As I understand it, atheists don’t share a common ideology of worldview. of course, part of them are those who uses scientific knowledge to form their understanding a about the world. But some can just rely on subjective feeling, using the same approach as religious people.

  4. OK, “atheism” and “atheist” covers so many variants and levels of semi- and non-belief that it’s hard to meaningfully discuss it as a single belief system. However, you were the one who brought the term in this discussion, and I replied to what I personally consider the “true” atheism. I think most other non-beliefs (i.e. not based on scientific evidence) are actually agnosticism (probably exists/probably doesn’t/don’t know/don’t care).

    I find it very weird, if not awkward, to talk about “subjective feeling” as the basis for not believing something without proof. If one man told another man that invisible animal is following him around, waiting for the right moment to attack and eat him, we can safely assume that the 2nd man wouldn’t believe the first. And I would consider that logical reasoning (since he was given no real proof for such a creature’s existence), but you would call it just a possible “subjective feeling, religious approach” and imply that both beliefs could be just subjective faith…? I find it weird and, frankly, wrong. Not believing in something that has no proof is objective and logical; only when you refuse to believe in face of hard evidence, does it turn into a subjective faith. Meaning, a real bright (that is, what I consider a true atheist) would stop being a bright as soon as God was proved beyond doubt.

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