The Poor Returns Of Bad Ideological Investments

I’m a big fan of the show Shark Tank. As a entrepreneur, I can relate to the highs and lows that these companies face. I love and appreciate seeing different business models and seeing the Shark’s reactions to them. One common theme on Shark Tank is the Business Owner who invested their life savings into a clearly terrible idea. It’s hard to watch as the Shark’s sink their teeth into the desperate entrepreneur’s baby. Often times the Shark’s plead with the business owner to quit and move on. They explain why putting another dime into this idea will only put them further into debt and make the situation worse. They insist that the business owner should cut his or her losses and move on. But all-too-often the entrepreneurs do not heed their advice. The business owner vows to persevere and push on with their idea. Most are never heard from again.

The problem is that people count their past investment into an idea towards its present and future value. While this may make sense if that past investment has produced an asset that has value on it’s own, its utterly senseless when the present state of that idea has no value after the investment.

People make the same mistake with their ideological investments. The more one has invested into their beliefs, the harder it is for them to part ways with those beliefs and the less open minded they are apt to be when evaluating new ideas. They feel that the past investment they made into an ideology contributes to its current Truth Value.

For example, an Orthodox Rabbi in his 60’s who has raised his entire family based on a core belief system, who makes a living on those beliefs, and who has made every choice in his life for 60 years based on that system, is unlikely to be swayed by any form of new information he may come across about the truth of his religion. In fact, he’s unlikely to even pay them much attention. He has invested his whole life (and the lives of his family members) in one ideology and changing his ideology now would mean accepting 60 years worth of wasted investment. A person in that situation no longer seeks truth but rather seeks to reaffirm what they already believe. However, if we were to present the same exact information to that same person when he was in his teens or twenties, there is a much greater likelihood that he would be swayed.

This is the reason why I think it is so important for people to have the opportunity to evaluate new ideas and information that conflicts their religious doctrine when they are younger. This is when people have made the least ideological investment and they are not as tightly bound by their past investment in any ideology. Sure, there are still exterior pressures that make it harder for people to change their minds (social pressures, family pressures, psychological pressures, etc.), but there is far less pressure from your past ideological investment.

This is also one of the reasons I have far less desire to discuss theology with older people (parents, grandparents, older rabbis, etc.), as they are up against a lifetime of ideological investment that they are not about to abandon. Keep that in mind as you discuss religion or politics with anyone, try and assess the investment they have made to their particular belief system and recognize that it will be a barrier to open-mindedness in proportion to the investment.  

Additionally, this shows how science differs from theology or other forms of ideology. Science places very little (if any) weight in past investment into an idea. Science (at least good science) only evaluates an idea based on it’s present Truth Value, as determined by objective experimentation and results. Ideas that are hundreds of years old can be changed based on new data and results. This is why science is so important to the advancement of society as a whole.

Anonymous asked:

Do you think there are any questions that are simply unanswerable, philosophical or otherwise?

In a sense, your question is unanswerable because even if I could think of such questions now, they would only be unanswerable based on the our capacity for intelligence in the present and imaginable future, which itself is limited by our current capacity for intelligence. That would not make such questions unanswerable, just unanswered.

I think there may be some silly philosophical questions that some might say are not answerable due to the very nature of the question (if a tree falls in the forrest and no one/nothing is there to hear it, does it make a sound?).

A similar trick question is the question “Does God exists?” Of course, it depends on how you define God. The concept of God as a deity that created the universe and exists outside of it and does not interact with it (I.e deism) is unknowable based very nature of the definition of God as being an unknowable being (in they same way i can’t know of there is an invisible, undetectable purple leprechaun that lives in my closet). However, there is no need to posit such an idea because it does not solve any scientific, philosophical, moral, or any other type of explanation for anything in reality. But the question of the existence of a personal god and revelation of any kind can indeed shown to be false or extremely unlikely (especially when weighed against more plausible scenarios). So if you were going to posit that the question of God is unanswerable I would ask you to clarify which version you are referring to.




Thanks for submitting the link. Believe it or not, I was actually at the taping of that Kelemen lecture! And bc that speech and that argument had a profound effect on convincing me judaism was true, I have a special place in my heart for debunking what I now realize is the nonsense of his argument. (I’ve actually been working on and off on a huge ass rebuttal that lecture for a while now! I’ll finish it one of these days! lol)

Anyways, I appreciate your effort and approach, but I think if you want to convince someone the argument is wrong, you have to accept their premises and work from there, or slowly destruct the premises.

Simply saying, “oh, the Sinai narrative is false bc it was written later” may be true, but it won’t sway the believer (esp when you don’t cite sources for your many points - true though they may be!) and doesn’t address the argument which kelemen is making.

So, I appreciate your effort - and I’ve checked out your blog in the past, thanks! - but I think destroying that kelemen lecture is gonna require a lot more.

Which means we’ve got work to do! =]

Spent a good 30 minutes writing something on this last night from my ipad and looks like it didn’t post. Fucking hate when that happens. I should not be posting from my ipad. #fail

Let the Spinoza begin!

I’ve heard so much about Spinoza over the last 2 years since I started my path “off the derech.” It’s amazing how little I ever heard about him in the frum world. All I heard was that it was forbidden to read his works, but that was pretty much it. Little did I know how influential he was to secular thought.

After reading “A Book Forged In Hell” by Stephen Nadler, which is a historical book about Spinoza’s Treatise, I started the real deal this weekend by beginning to read the actual Theological-Political Treatise. And the opening paragraph of the preface didn’t disappoint: 

Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favoured by fortune: but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune’s greedily coveted favours, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity. (2) The human mind is readily swayed this way or that in times of doubt, especially when hope and fear are struggling for the mastery, though usually it is boastful, over—confident, and vain.”

(I actually like the translation in my hard-copy better, but I’m not up for typing it all out so I copied and pasted from a different translation I found online).

You can read more of the preface here.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on Spinoza as I dive deeper.



The Infidel Paradox


Once it becomes clear to the believer that the source of the infidel’s blasphemies are the product of false indoctrination, he should immediately call into question the legitimacy of his own beliefs, which were bestowed upon him by…

You seem to be equating believer and infidel with morally good and bad. While there are elements of morality at play (the believer thinks the infidel is immoral in certain respects), there is far more to it than that. In the simplest terms, dubbing one an infidel means that they are simply practicing a false (or no) religion. That would include all elements of religious practice from worship, to prayer, to rituals, as well as morality. And so it is not merely a matter of good and bad from a moral perspective, it’s a matter of correct and incorrect from the deity’s perspective. The believer may think that God wants a lamb for a sacrifice while the infidel may think god does not want sacrifice, but that is not a question of morality.

Furthermore, while the Judeo-Christian system does claim that one maintains infidelity or servitude through free will, the believer must still acknowledge that the fact that there exists the concept of infidel and that one who is in a current state of infidelity almost certainly arrive there through circumstance (his being born into it, his teaching validating it, and his experiences solidifying it) that there is a possibility that in fact he (the believer) is the true infidel. Free will is irrelevant to that point. I would however that free will does not exist in the way that the Judeo-Chriatian system asserts, but that is an entirely different discussion.



There is no need to get angry or offended because this simply a question. Imagine you read this following passage from the Torah and you just happen to be someone from one of those other nations.

You may wonder why some extremists have this odd claim that God has promised a piece of land to them,…

What you don’t understand is that the Torah is a man-made document redacted by scribes many years after the Israelites settled the land of Israel. The likely purpose of the passage you quoted was to explain how they came to acquire the land they already lived in at the time. It’s possible zealots have misconstrued the original meaning to fit their own ideologies, but the passage itself was not a commandment but rather an explanation that attributed their conquest of the land to divine powers.



Once it becomes clear to the believer that the source of the infidel’s blasphemies are the product of false indoctrination, he should immediately call into question the legitimacy of his own beliefs, which were bestowed upon him by the very same process that the infidel…

My argument says nothing of morality. Morality is irrelevant. To further illustrate my point:

1. Believer recognizes non believer as infidel.
2. Believer can attribute infidel’s false beliefs to the false teachings presented to him by his environment. (There is no other source).
3. Believer knows his own convictions to he true based on his own experiences and correct teachings.
4. This believer accepts that his good fortune to believe in the truth and the infidels misfortune to believe in falsehood must come from the believer’s god.
5. Once believer accepts that a deity could put people in circumstances he MUST acknowledge that it is possible that, in fact, he was placed in the infidel’s camp and the infidel in the righteous camp.
6. And so the very existence of the infidel must call into question the legitimacy of believer’s own ideology.

Therein lies he paradox.

The Infidel Paradox

Once it becomes clear to the believer that the source of the infidel’s blasphemies are the product of false indoctrination, he should immediately call into question the legitimacy of his own beliefs, which were bestowed upon him by the very same process that the infidel acquired his own falsehoods. The infidel’s scriptures, proofs, miracles, prophets, commandments, rituals, and gods, are no less vivid or absolute to him than the believer’s. Once one realizes that the very nature of religious beliefs are solely dependent on the subjective nature of one’s own experience and indoctrination, it becomes clear that no deity could forge a system in which infidels (who make up the majority of humans by any religion’s standard) are expected to accept his divinity. Furthermore, he cannot credit those who worship him due to the fortuitous circumstances he conferred to them. Therefore the infidel is not worthy of punishment and the believer not worthy of reward. This is the paradox that every theist must confront.  


THIS!!!! JA killing it as always. I actually think you took it too easy on this guy. Oh, I went ahead and replaced every Jesus/God reference with Magical Pickle Jar and it makes just as much sense…



First, before I begin addressing your questions, let me be clear I am not trying to convince you of the Magical Pickle Jar’s existence.  I can’t do that. 


As far as sharing my faith and my reasons for doing so, let me direct you to this video where atheist comedian Penn Jillette shares an encounter he had with a Picklian.  Let me know what you think


Furthermore, the Picklian life is best because you can be happiest and healthiest in Pickles . Your life will truly feel complete, even in the midst of hardships. 


Believe me, friend, you can’t know this now.  You don’t see from my perspective.  I pray that one day you will find the peace, hope, and joy I’ve found in the Magical Pickle Jar


The “ex-Picklians” you speak of don’t really exist.  Once a person has accepted the Magical Pickle Jar into their life as Lord and Savior, they can never truly be separated from Him, even if they drift away.  Those people were probably only the Magical Pickle Jar  name only, doing their “religious” thing, but never really having a genuine relationship with It. 


During school, I had to do a project on Darwinian evolution.  I did a follow-up project on Creationism and submitted to my teacher privately for no credit, knowing full well that I was doing extra work and the teacher wouldn’t agree with my perspective.  Nevertheless, I did not feel comfortable only doing a project that goes against my worldview, without giving my perspective. 


I also chose to read alternative novels sometimes if the content of a novel the class was reading was something I wasn’t comfortable with. 


I know that not all atheists are “new atheists” and I know some people who don’t believe in the Magical Pickle Jar, yet are comfortable with others’ beliefs.  As a matter of fact, my family had an agnostic man in our Bible study who was married to a Messianic Jewish woman. He was very comfortable expressing his opinion in the group, and we encouraged it. 

As far as not all Picklians being missionaries:  The Magical Pickle Jar commands His followers to “go out and make disciples of all nations”.  Some Picklians may be afraid to share their faith, and I admit, sometimes I am, but it is necessary to help people find faith in the Magical Pickle Jar


Yes, you can go to a church, but you can’t really experience the love of the Magical Pickle Jar until you see it demonstrated by His followers, not only in word, but in action as well. 


The Magical Pickle Jar helps one endure hardships in several ways.  When tragedy strikes, it is easy to blame theMagical Pickle Jar.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why you choose to disbelieve.


With the Magical Pickle Jar, when you’re facing a terminal illness, loss of a loved one, financial trouble etc. you can have confidence that while the present situation may seem overwhelming and too much to bear, you can place the burden on His shoulders and He can give peace.


Also, recognizing that the Magical Pickle Jar is working the situation out for good in the end, even though it may be unbearable, and it may make you stronger in the end. 


Yes, during a trial people can come alongside you, and they should, but if you’re all alone at some point with no one to call, text, etc. and you’re feeling hopeless, what do you do?  I believe most suicides could be prevented if people could find hope in the Magical Pickle Jar


You may think what I have to say about the the Magical Pickle Juice is absurd, and you are right, at least from your perspective.  I can’t convince you to believe.  The  Magical Pickle Juice is the agent the Magical Pickle Jar uses to allow non-believers to come to a knowledge of the faith. 


You may only build your hope on real things. Ask yourself how those things will help you get through hardships.  If your hope is built on your loved ones, money, possessions, or even good memories, how will that help you get through the most horrendous situations?  Your loved ones will eventually die, your possessions can get destroyed, you can go bankrupt, lose memory, etc.  My hope is built on nothing less than  Magical Pickle Jar’s cucumbers and righteousness.  He can help us endure the most painful obstacles, and give us peace in our situations unlike anything else the world has to offer. 



rationaljew asked:

Do you still look back to your old life and feel dumbfounded by how you could have believed all that ridiculous nonsense? How has your view of friends and family changed? I sometimes can't help thinking of my religious friends and family as archaic crackpots. And I can't figure out for the life of me how I actually believed all that shit. I mean, I know WHY I believed it, but it still surprises me that I did.

jewishatheist answered:

1. Part of me wonders how I could have believed it, but I know it’s bc of indoctrination, misinformation, and poorly developed reasoning skills. But yeah, how the hell did I believe in it?!

2. My group of friends has changed pretty much entirely. I’m not in contact with almost any of my friends from yeshiva (and don’t want to be). My friends now are much more open-minded and tend to be agnostic or atheist. 

As for family, it’s complicated. My parents are obviously unhappy that I’ve “lost my way”, but they’re getting used to it. And, ironically, my relationship with my folks now is better than it’s been in a long time.

And yeah, I know the feeling of thinking that religious folk are kinda crazy. and they kind of are. (but again, indoctrination, misinformation, and poor reasoning and research). but listening to them talk sometimes makes me want to face-palm so hard that I crush my skull. 


What’s funny is I bet all of your old yeshiva friends who heard about you feel sad and talk about you as “the guy who went off the derech” or “oh, I heard he’s not frum anymore!” Etc. you go from being looked at as a person to some sort of failed entity, all because yoi decided to think for yourself. Shame.

Been working far too much and tumbling far too little. Just caught up on jewishatheist. Missed a lot of good stuff!

Going on vacation Monday, but I’ll make an attempt to start opting more frequently. Not gonna be easy between family (new baby, 3 kids) and work (3 companies I’m working on).