Even skeptics have blind spots when arguments agree with their beliefs? (On an argument stating that addiction is a disease.)

Well, this sucks. I shared to disagree with this bad argument the other day, only to find that some of my friends, who are atheists and skeptics, agreed with it.

ChoiceStrawman

Now consider this:

People who think Jesus is not God

You’re simply incorrect. It is not an opinion or debate because Jesus has been known to be god since about 50AD. The facts have disagreed with you for nearly two thousand years. You are not a priest and your Facebook rants have no merit because the theological community views Jesus as the True God. Pick up the Bible and Jesus will be there. It is a theological FACT that Jesus is God. Believing otherwise is literally delusional.

It is irrelevant whether or not addiction is a disease, although I believe it isn’t a disease and I’ll make my case further on for interest. The point I want to get across today though, is that this is a poor argument.

  1. Nobody claims addiction is a choice. That’s a straw man. I chose to use meth, not to be an addict. Addiction is a bunch of things, including being chemically dependent on a drug, being psychologically dependent and convincing yourself that it being difficult to stop means you can’t (hence falling for the “you were powerless” claim of 12 step programs is easy), and the behaviours associated with the effects of the drug on your brain, including denial of having a problem.
  2. How long something has been believed doesn’t make the claim true.
  3. Not all doctors, psychologists, or neuroscientists accept that addiction is a disease. Cherry picking only literature that agrees with you is an example of selection bias. The lines are blurred… I can’t do an online search and easily find where the dogmatic NA/AA info ends and real science begins, or determine how much bias there is in science that presupposes 50 years of 12-step type dogma to be right. There are published papers that support both conclusions and I am not qualified to read most of them. (But keep point one in mind – nobody is claiming that addiction is a choice and real arguments against it being a disease are more nuanced than this meme will have you believe.)
  4. Asserting that those who disagree with you are delusional while not even considering what their actual arguments may be, but instead arguing against the “addiction is a choice” straw man argument, is a great way of dismissing contrary views without knowing what they are. It’s also ad hominem. (You are delusional if you don’t agree with me… Seriously?)

I found it shocking that some of my fellow atheists and skeptics could agree with such a terrible argument. I’m disappointed.

Whether or not addiction is a disease is not the point today, but just to clarify my views…

I chose to use drugs. Then I became dependent on those drugs, chemically and psychologically. My behaviour and brain chemistry was altered by the drugs, but not in any way that wasn’t expected. My argument is simply that every effect fell within the expected and predictable neuroscientific effects of methamphetamine on my brain. So addiction is nothing more than a name for a bunch of symptoms and behaviors around something that is quite normal, a brain responding to adverse conditions. Stop the drugs for long enough and all those symptoms disappear. So if this is a disease, it is one that can be treated effectively by doing nothing at all, which has worked very well for me by the way. Next month I’ll be clean for five years.

Furthermore, the standard way of treating addiction via 12 step programs is nothing more than a placebo. I don’t care whether or not you believe in god or a higher power. I don’t, but even if we were to assume that this god exists, the “relationship” that you have with it is one-sided. It’s all in your head. And so is the way treating addiction works. As I see it, addiction treatment is all about bullshitting yourselves into thinking you are actually doing something about your addiction, even though you are not. In reality, you are doing nothing, just like me, but thanks to the placebo effect, you think you are actually working on your addiction. Bullshit baffles brains.

Thanks for reading.

15 thoughts on “Even skeptics have blind spots when arguments agree with their beliefs? (On an argument stating that addiction is a disease.)

  1. I’m still not sure whether or not I believe that addiction is a disease. I’ve read arguments for and against it, and there are neuroscientists who believe both sides.

    An article by one my favourite skeptical writers doesn’t make it any clearer: https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-problem-of-addiction/

    In the end, maybe it doesn’t matter?

    However, since the treatment of addiction does not seem to be based on the treatment of any disease, and since abstinence works, I am leaning towards addiction not being a disease. And as noted in my post, summarized here without the sarcasm, the most widely accepted way of dealing with addiction, is by talking and attending meetings, working 12 steps, and so on. In other words, doing lots of structured activities such that you bullshit yourself out of using. And that does not work with real diseases.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you define drug addiction as having developed a severe physical and pscyhological dependence on drugs, then you should be able to gain important knowledge of addiction by looking into an addict’s brain for unnormal activities and neural connections.

    If you do that, you can often find details thar are more common in an addictive brain than in a “healthy” non-addictive brain. Details that may explain the compulsion to use drugs despite the knowledge of detrimental consequences.

    Here are two examples:

    1) https://scienceblog.com/502321/childhood-hardship-primes-immune-system-for-addiction/ : How exposure to psychosocial stress early in life seems to alter the structure of immune cells and inflammatory signals, and that in turn may lead to an increased vulnerability and proneness to drug-seeking behavior.

    2) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180804100134.htm : How a protein called BDNF seems to affect the risk of relapse. This is of great interest because drug-dependent individuals usually have low serum BDNF levels compared to non-addicts, (In this study the nucleus accumbens was selected as the focal point for BDNF administration since it is a central component of the brain reward circuit.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting, especially the second one.

      But honestly I’m at a point in my life where my observations and musings are close to the comments made by people who are called “ignorant” by the 12 step crowd, which seems somewhat ironic, no?

      I’m at a point where I struggle to comprehend why relapse is even a thing. I mean, I look at it like this: I decided back in 2013 that I would never use meth again. It was a simple decision and one that took all the effort out of “trying” to stay clean. No effort is needed if I decide upfront that this is the way it is and I will stick to the decision no matter what. It’s like, if I decided that I will never shop again at Abdul’s Corner Shop because Abdul is a dishonest bastard who sells counterfeit shit, then I simply never go there, even though it is inconvenient at first because Abdul’s shop is so close to my house. The subject of using meth ever again is like that for me… Having made the decision years ago, it was a tiny bit difficult to stick to it at the beginning because using meth day and night is what I was accustomed to, but five years down the line, I am hard pressed to imagine why using all the time seemed so important.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I consider you being a paragon, Jerome, i.e. a very good example of a person being able to stay/remain clean all by your own. In fact, I find it amazing! And fantastic. Congratulations!

    But even if it worked for you, Jerome, please remember it doesn’t mean that it also works for all other persons who also want to stop using drugs.

    I think every individual abusing drug(s) has an optimal way of getting rid of the bad habit. That’s why I’m against using the same therapy models on all patients (like the 12 step program). It’s better to try to find out what’s optimal for just you.

    I’m so glad to read that you found your optimal way, Jerome. Soon five years clean! And you don’t even need to praise Gawd and thank that bastard for being so successful.

    That must be very good news for your self-confidence and self-reliance. And you don’t even need to pay a tithe. Neither do you need wasting your time attending church services on Sundays listening to pure bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, it is soooo easy to project one’s own experience on everybody. Doing that makes me as bad as the 12-steppers who tried that on me. It’s not always easy to remember this lesson.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I dare say that your blog is one of the best atheist blogs on the web. You teach me and other followers a lot. And you do it i a logical way.

    Also your English is a pleasure to read. Since English is NOT my native tongue, I need good English “teachers”. And you are one of the best, Jerome!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. BTW, Jerome, are you interested in evolution?

    Have you, for example, heard of the Asian giant hornet?

    This hornet is not only ferocious, but also voracious. Created by the Abrahamic benevolent and loving God.

    These hornets, big as a human thumlb, often try to raid the nests of social bees (like the European honeybee).

    While doing so, the hornets use to decapitate the heads of the honeybees. They are able to kill up to 40 bees a minute, so the battle is usually over in a few hours. Then the whole beehive is in ruins.

    Now my question to you. Do you think these Asian giant hornets are also members of the Muslim ISIS organization, Jerome? Or they are Christians (think of the European Catholic Inquisition)?

    What’s your guess?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am interested in evolution but don’t know that much about it except for a layman’s understanding. OK, maybe a little more than a layman’s understanding based on what I’ve seen online.

      I tend to avoid the subject here though, because when it comes to debates involving atheism vs theism, the religious nuts tend to stick to straw man misconceptions of evolution as well as other science, and have this pathetic habit of assuming that debunking a straw man leaves only their preferred magical explanation for everything as the only alternative. I’ve explained this to them online and honestly it’s like talking to a wall. Some of them are so incredibly ignorant that it just isn’t worth going there.
      Recall I wrote about his back in 2016: https://skepticalexaddict.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/even-if-you-could-disprove-evolution-it-would-not-prove-that-your-god-exists/

      That is a scary looking insect. So large, it looks almost like some kind of “demonic” child’s toy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Agree! The religionists tend to conclude, erroneously, that divine/supernatural creation and natural evolution often seem to contradict each other, but that doesn’t matter because creationism and evolutionism at the same time belong to two different magisteria/paradigms and therefore are able to coexist, even if they sometimes contradict each other.

    Of course you can find some religionists who say they believe in a theistic sort of evolution, which means they stand, in part, behind BOTH positions/paradigms (which, in turn, means they can’t be wrong).

    So I had hoped, Jerome, that you were so interested in evolution that you could write some blogs in which you show the religionists how they constantly misunderstand and distort evolution.

    And yes, evolution IS easy to misunderstand, especially if your mind is primed by religious bullshit.

    The best blog about evolution (vs. creationism) I follow is Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is true, see https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/a-creationist-makes-the-dumbest-criticism-of-evolution-ever/.

    Of course you can’t compete with professor Coyne, Jerome. But if you start following his blog, you’ll learn a lot about evolution AND you can use some of his blog posts about evolution in order to make your own blog become even more antitheistic and proatheistic.

    Not long ago you asked for advice what to write about on your blog. Look at my new comment as a suggestion to you to broaden your antitheistic “crusade”. You already are a brilliant writer, so logical and so eloquent. And I think your blog would be better off if you sometimes tried to broaden your topics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that it would be great to learn enough to be able to confidently mention evolution when it’s relevant…

      Yah, the god-assisted evolution thing is a crazy belief, in my mind. I think it comes, at least in part, from the fact that evolution has become accepted as fact by all but the most stubborn of science deniers. Thus with no alternative other than alienating most educated people and all youngsters who are not complete idiots, the mainstream religions such as the Catholics really have no choice but to find ways of incorporating evolution into their worldview. Thus they end up with the crazy notion of god initiating evolution, like a wave of a magic wand. Meanwhile in reality, inserting this god magic to explain what is not understood, is quite unnecessary.

      It is simultaneously stupid and brilliant of them, because they no longer have to insist that their god created us in this form, and they don’t have to deny fossil evidence like the Young Earth Creationists, but can still claim that “godidit” by asserting that he set the whole thing in motion.

      Hence the absurd questions in debates such as, “What happened before the big bang?”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The other point I keep forgetting to write is that unlike many other atheists (and I have learned this in atheist groups), I did not become an atheist because of science. Science is cool and interesting… actually fascinating… but I am an atheist simply because of logic and the rejection of claims that have never made sense to me. It’s all about logic and reason for me, and atheism is the position I came to all on my own. Then later I learned that some really smart people have been saying things just like I have.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That explains a lot! I can easily imagine that in South African schools they brainwash the pupils to become believers in God. Here in Sweden schools must not try to persuade pupils to believe in God, absolutely not a specific god.

        But now times have changed even here in Sweden.

        Nowadays it’s OK for private entrepreneurs to start up so-called religious schools in this country. And they often do. It’s so regrettable.

        Muslims who have fled from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa to Sweden often put their children in that type of schools. And then (especially evangelical) Christians begin to feel that they too have to put their children in so-called religious schools. I’m convinced that nothing good can come out of this. The tensions are now growing in Sweden. Teenagers belonging to opposite gangs often try to kill each other, they burn cars, they create no-go zones. When I grew up I could leave my bike unlocked, and nobody stole it.

        I myself didn’t need to get rid of any religious bullshit since I wasn’t brainwashed. So I was a “happy agnostic” when I grew up. And I came closer to atheism relatively early in life, at around 13 or so I began to discover the beauty and logic of genuine science. (But IMO it’s a shame that Swedish universities still today offer courses, free of charge, in theology, the opposite of genuine science.)

        BTW, if you want to have a little fun to start your day with, Jerome, why not be a follower of a creationist site called Creation.com? On that site you can read a lot about what’s wrong with today’s secular/nonreligious/scientific geology, evolution and cosmology. Here’s an example: https://creation.com/cypress-hills-planation-surface . The title of this blog post is Testimony to the Flood. (Yeah, the loving God makes almost all humans and almost all animals get drowned. And the god believers even try to defend God’s acting and do their best to prove that the Flood really occurred. I mean, if I were a Christian, I would do my best to refute the occurrence of a divine Flood.)

        Like

  7. Yes, I should consider recycling some of my older, better posts now and then. I have some good ones and it isn’t always easy to reproduce that kind of quality writing, and I even have some that did not do well but that I enjoyed writing…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s