Style (SE)

Atheists make ham-handed, blundering tactical errors when they talk to people. They make people defensive (which makes people more sure about their beliefs (see the Backfire Effect). They are motivated skeptics, often criticizing beliefs and believers for things which are not obviously bad (when there’s so much you COULD criticize, too). They present themselves as unpleasant people, which encourages people (many people) who don’t believe in God to avoid calling themselves atheists anyway, because they’re not “that kind of person.”

A google search for “Why are atheists so” fills in the last word with “angry.”

Atheists need to be nice. Niceness is underrated by atheists, who often place a high value on truth (even when it’s not nice). But we really shouldn’t take it so far as to make things harder than they have to be on people. We may pride ourselves on offering medicine to a sick world, but a spoonful of sugar (etc etc etc).

Street Epistemology is a way of talking with people about their beliefs. We’re so used to discussions between people who disagree being tense and defensive that it’s incredibly relaxing and refreshing to be able to help people see their mistakes without things getting too emotional. It’s uplifting to see people think. SE really can do that. It’s amazing how much more rational people are when they’re not defensive (when you’re not attacking them).

Here’s the idea:

And here’s the effect: