RE: Question about PETA....

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Mon Feb 19 2001 - 00:10:08 MST

At 12:54pm -0600 2/18/01, Chris Russo wrote:
>At 11:52 -0500 2/18/01, Harvey Newstrom wrote:
>>At 7:49am +0000 2/18/01, zeb haradon wrote:
>>>I think you're assuming that these people think about their
>>>beliefs in a logical way and try to resolve the inconsitencies
>>>they find. That would be an incorrect assumption. A lot of animal
>>>rights people speak favorably of having "animal companions".
>>Actually, you are right. I find that almost all belief systems are
>>totally consistent within themselves. While they may be based on
>>unfounded assumptions or erroneous facts, most people really think
>>consistently. I know this is a minority view, especially on this
>I hope Zeb corrects me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that's quite
>what he's saying. I think that he's saying that PETA can have
>logical inconsistencies because its members don't even attempt to
>resolve them. To assume that they'll alter their belief system in
>order to conform to logic is expecting too much.

Let me clarify. I realize that Zeb and I disagree on this point.
When I said, "Actually, you are right" to Zeb, I was not agreeing
with his position. I was actually agreeing with his assessment of
how our positions differ.

Zeb seems to believe that these people do not think about their
beliefs in a logical way and do not try to resolve the
inconsistencies they find. I believe that these people, and most
people, do think about their beliefs, and they do try to resolve
inconsistencies. I think it is too convenient to dismiss people as
irrational as an excuse not to debate their objections on their terms
using their facts.

Again, I know this is a minority view on this list. However, I have
had a lot of personal experience with Christians, occultists,
creationists, animal-rights advocates, environmentalists, and various
political groups. They all sincerely believe in their goals. They
spend a lot of time researching and supporting their goals. Where
there is counter evidence, they spend a lot of time refuting the
counter evidence. It is too simplistic to assume that they have not
really looked into the issue or thought about it rationally.

For example, PETA believes that animals have rights. This is a very
difficult thing to prove or disprove logically. However, given this
assumption, that animals have rights, most of their other views are
completely consistent. If animals have rights, they should not be
owned or kept locked up. if animals have rights, they should not be
used for medical experiments. If animals have rights, they cannot be
sold or exchanged as property. If animals have rights, they should
not be slaughtered for food. These are perfectly rational beliefs.
Just substitute "human" or "child" in place of "animal" to see what a
consistent set of beliefs would look like.

Now some people will argue that animals are happier as pets than they
would be in the wild. While this is perfectly reasonable, imagine
saying that humans would be happier owned as slaves rather than left
to fend for themselves. Some people will argue that animal
experimentation leads to medical breakthroughs that save more animals
than are killed. While this is perfectly reasonable, imagine saying
that we should experiment on humans without permission because it
will save more humans than would be sacrificed. Although the
animal-rights positions may seem irrational at first glance, they
actually are obvious ramifications of the core belief that animals
have rights. These ideas are logically derived from that core belief
and are not random ideas with no logical structure. Understanding
the core beliefs is key to understanding and predicting any belief

(Note: I am not supporting PETA here. I am merely showing that
their actions and motivations are logically derived from the core
belief that animals have rights.)

I'll say it again, most people on this list try to project their own
beliefs onto opponents. This leads to poor debating techniques,
misrepresentation of the issues, and total failure to accurately
predict opinions and actions of the opponents. If you think your
opponents are acting irrationally, it actually is an indication that
you don't understand their actions. Even hallucinating or insane
people act in predictable ways deriving out of their own set of
erroneous beliefs. When someone dismisses an opponent as being
irrational, what they really mean is that they don't understand and
are not interested in investigating.

Harvey Newstrom <>

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