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How My B.S. Detector Works

If there’s something you really want to believe, that’s what you should question the most. 

My bullshit detector works first of all, if there’s something you really want to believe, that’s what you should question the most. I don’t question bad news very much. I don’t question things that go against what I believe very much. But boy, the stuff that I really want to believe, I really question a lot.


I grew up as a Christian. I suppose at some level I wanted to believe someone was watching over me. But when I want to believe something, that’s when I want to question it the most.  That’s when I have to be the most careful. And I feel a little bit disingenuous with that answer because I don’t think I any longer want to believe in God. I mean, my friend, who I miss very much, Christopher Hitchens, said that wanting there to be a god was like wanting to live in North Korea, to give away all of your freedom. And for someone who loves freedom and loves people, I don’t think you should hope for God at all.  

So I guess my detector on God is that whenever someone uses what they feel as evidence instead of what they think as evidence, or what they can prove as evidence I’m very, very skeptical. The most important thing is to "feel" about things you should feel about, and "think" about things you should think about. You should not feel about the speed of light or evolution and you should not think about love. You should feel “I love you,” and you should think about reality.  

When someone says they feel that the universe was created by a God, that’s nonsense. Just like saying, you know, I’ve thought about it and maybe I should love you. Don’t mix those two. And a lot of people seem to think that feeling cheapens science, that if you feel something it cheapens it. And there’s not enough said about how it cheapens emotion. You know, if you’re spending your time feeling that the Earth was created by intelligent design, you should be spending your time feeling love, feeling compassion, feeling generosity and loyalty and all the stuff you should feel in your heart. Even anger, even disappointment – but that doesn’t change the world. You should think about the world and feel about your heart.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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