Some People Believe
Only The Unbelievable
From an E-List Dispatch:
One final treat: I'm sure you heard about the alleged photo of the man standing atop the World Trade Center while, unbeknownst to him, a jet closes in below. I am happy to inform you that this morbid photo is as much of a hoax as the one of the giant cat that was floating around a few months ago.
I know you're busy so I'll be quick. How do we attack the photo of the so called "Devil" in the dirt smoke as one of the WTC buildings fell? They claim it's real and not doctored. If there is no god then the devil, too, is a myth. I know it wasn't the devil but believers have delighted at showing the photo world wide. It seems the only thing people believe is the unbelievable.
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Dau Teing"
Subject: Re: Proud of the Message Y'all Sent To USA Today! -- Thanks!!
Date: October 05, 2001 9:09 PM
It seems the only thing people believe is the unbelievable.
I've come to the conclusion that all believers are atheists in disguise. All of them are just pulling your leg to see if you'll catch on to what they're doing -- the Pope, Billy Graham, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Ayatollah, Pat Robertson, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, Paramahansa Yogananda, the Wicked Witch of the West -- all of them. It's a big sociology experiment to study humans' reactions to being told far out and ludicrous lies: Will they believe if you keep a straight face? Will they believe if you're willing to die defending this lie? How early do you have to start working on them as kids before you hook them, that is, before it reaches a point where no amount of reasoning with them as adults will even touch the lie? If you fashion the lie so that it features threats of punishment in an afterlife, does this affect whether or not people are moral? These are all the questions that dirty, no good atheists -- disguised as theists -- have been conducting on us throughout recorded history.
Actually, what it is, is that in order to join the club, you gotta believe the creed. Now, if the creed were realistic, such as, the Moon orbits the Earth, then just anybody might stumble upon the formula and then people would be in the club without having submitted to the club's authority. So, to maintain the integrity of the club's authority, they come up with the most cockamamie, whacked out idea they can think of -- something you'd never come up with on your own, something that nobody in their right mind would even tell people they believe (much less actually believe). Then nobody will accidentally come into the club without having submitted to the club's authority, and then, having been told by the club's leadership to believe this and that, they grit their teeth and reluctantly obey simply because that's the only way into the club. And since the club's leadership is the only way you'd expect for somebody to come across this far out would be from the club, this is usually a sufficient indication of loyalty to the club: the person believes the club's very strange, patently unbelievable "litmus test" dogma.
Truth is, you don't need to attack diddly squat! All you gotta do is sit there and listen. Then, when they ask you if you believe, just politely say, "No." You know full well that it's not a real face but just an image, a hallucination, of sorts). It's not the devil but just some people's imaginations. You know that! I know it, too! If people want to think it's the devil, so what? You don't have to believe them unless they come up with a compelling reason why you should. This is the burden of proof.
Also, which one? There are three different images that I saw, so which one is the "real" devil? the one with big horns or the one with short horns or the one with the flat nose? Three different looking faces, all of them the devil!
(And how do you know what the devil looks like in the first place, to make a comparison?)
But these folks are always so sure of themselves: "There's nothing else that it could be" says 17-year-old Brad Witt of Merrill. "I don't see a way it could be just sheer coincidence," he said. "I believe in God above and heaven and hell. It wasn't God's work at hand here." So, since it's not a picture of God (How does he know?), it must be -- No! It couldn't be! The devil? You think so!?
"Satan's power is very real, so it's certainly within the realm of possibility," said the Rev. Mark Brandt, pastor of Frankenmuth's St. Lorenz Lutheran Church. "Satan is a real entity, and a lot of people today don't believe that. A lot of people would chalk up a picture like that to the power of suggestion."
I. J. Kranats, president of the International Association of Arson investigators based in Bridgeton, Missouri, in a classic oxymoronic explanation, told reporters that it's not unusual for people to see unusual images in smoke clouds. As a fire generates heat, it draws in cold air while unburned debris swirls through the smoke, causing the clouds to look thinner in some areas and thicker in others, he said. Natural wind currents can contribute to the effect, he said.
Gerald L. Peterson, Saginaw Valley State University psychology professor and co-founder of the Tri-City Skeptics, a group that searches for scientific explanations for apparently paranormal events, said the image likely is "a trick of the brain" similar to the way people can spot pleasant pictures in clouds. "The human brain tends to seek some kind of pattern," he said. "It tends to look for figures in random or ambiguous stimuli."
Have you seen the so-called face on Mars? Do you think that's a real face? This drew so much attention that they made a special fly-by to see what this thing was, and it's just a mesa, a plateau. You get a good look at it and it doesn't look anything like what they said it was. But I swear I saw a face in it!
The human brain has an entire section devoted specifically to recognizing faces. There is one part that if you damage it, you won't be able to identify chairs, coffee cups, and other tools. There's another part that if you damage it, you won't be able to identify trees, mountains, birds, and other natural things. A horse, for example, would be categorized as useful to a farmer's kid but as a natural thing by a city slicker.
But there is one section that if you damage it, you won't be able to recognize people's faces. You'll even have trouble with identifying the eyes as eyes and the nose as a nose, this section is so specialized for recognizing only the human face. Doesn't it make sense that it's so utterly common to see faces in randomly generated patterns?
I see them. You see them. Others see them. They must be real, right?
Like I said, you don't have to believe that it's a face, and if you think it's a face, who's to say it's the devil?
And let's suppose that it really is the devil? Now what? What does it mean?
Here are two different explanations given of the "devil face" in the smoke:
Both, here, were trying to explain the "devil faces" in the photos, but both of their explanations cannot be simultaneously correct, because one has the devil doing it and the other has the devil being the victim of it (a judgement against him). But both explainers were so sure as to what's up with the devil, right? Yup!
You see, even if it were real it wouldn't mean anything. But this is not real, it's just very weird entertainment for people who take their religion so seriously that they do without television, the cinema, dancing, and the like. What's left but to get into weird religion, blabbering in "unknown tongues" and falling down in the sawdust and writhing around on the floor of a tent meeting revival.
Bottom line: It's not doctored, as far as I can tell. But there are three different images -- vastly different images. You tell me! However, they need to show that it is what they say it is. To do this, they need to eliminate all the other explanations as being so exceedingly more unlikely than the one they offer, so that we are forced to go with their explanation. As the old Medieval skeptic said, "it is easier for me to believe that two men would lie than to believe that a witch would fly up the chimney on her broom."
Here's what I think of the whole thing:
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