An amusing discussion at work over the “Zeitgeist” movie.

Every morning at work we gather in the cafeteria of one of the buildings to check-in with the boss and find out what most of us will be doing that day. For me it’s the same thing, I run tickets, which I hate, but which I’m overly competent at so all the RC’s ask that I be put on tickets. Depending on what’s going on this little session can take an hour or so to play out and as we’re waiting we make small talk and bullshit with each other. This morning one of the guys, I’ll call him “Mark” for the purposes of this entry, starts talking about this amazing film he watched on the Internet last night and it’s clear he’s quite excited about it. Turns out it’s the Zeitgeist conspiracy documentary that not only tries to show that Christianity is false by using the Jesus is a copy of Horus argument which we’ve talked about here before, but also goes on to try and claim that 9/11 is a conspiracy on the part of the U.S. Government. When this movie was first making the rounds on the blogs I had a lot of folks send me the link and I watched it and was very unimpressed with it. I intended to write something about it, but so many other people have debunked it already that I didn’t see the point.

What I found really amusing about the discussion itself was the way “Mark” started it up. He began by saying that he thought the first third of the movie—the part that claims Christianity is made up of a lot of other older religions—is pure and utter bullshit while the rest of the movie was one hundred percent factual and dead on the mark. His argument was basically that you can’t prove religion true or false because it’s all based on faith so the “religion bashing” is bullshit, but all that other stuff was totally factual. I actually had to laugh at the fact that he was claiming that the filmmakers didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to religion, but that he trusted them implicitly about 9/11 and the whole Bankers Are Out To Screw Us conspiracy. My laughter was not well received and he challenged me to disprove the claims on 9/11 as he apparently thought that’s what I found so funny. I tossed him a couple of softball questions and then let it drop because at least one other co-worker was nodding along with him and agreeing that it was all one big conspiracy and the last thing I needed to do was start a big argument first thing in the morning.

If nothing else it was an excellent example of confirmation bias at work. Because “Mark” doesn’t agree with the first third of the movie he writes it off as bullshit, but because the rest lines up with what he already believes he accepts it as factual and fails to see the irony in holding these two opposing views on the same documentary. Maybe I’ll point this out to him later when it’s less likely to result in a huge scene, but considering how evident it was that he bought into the conspiracy theory hook, line, and sinker it’ll probably be a waste of time.

12 thoughts on “An amusing discussion at work over the “Zeitgeist” movie.

  1. Whenever I hear this kind of thing at work I just roll my eyes and take a deep breath.  I know that I’ll never convince anyone based on my counter argument so now I don’t even try.  I wasn’t always like that though but over the years I’ve learned that starting an argument at work isn’t always conducive to productivity.  I mean, I do have to work with these people after all wink  Some people take this shit way too personally.

  2. but over the years I’ve learned that starting an argument at work isn’t always conducive to productivity.  I mean, I do have to work with these people after all wink Some people take this shit way too personally.

    Words of wisdom.

  3. I’ve learned that, generally speaking, counter-argument is not for most people. The best you can hope to do is guide them down an avenue of discussion that confirms what they already believe but offers alternative explanations as to why it is true – preferably, ones that are a lot more sound and easy to believe. Then they might be inclined to expect more of themselves, because their shit won’t sound nearly as good by comparison.

    I don’t know that I buy the “gov’t caused 9/11” side of things, although there are definitely motives. I personally believe there was government complicity in the matter. But, if you want other examples of the “nobody gives a shit about the people” point of view, you have the entire administration’s record – particularly, Cheney’s public remarks that show a callous disregard for human beings in general, much less public opinion.

    If there’s something you believe because of 9/11, chances are you already believed it, and there’s plenty of reason to continue to believe it after-the-fact.

  4. Agree with Kevin. The only way you can have such a conversation with someone at work is if they are a very close friend or very close coworker.

    Les: What you might want to do is invite the coworker to respond here on this post. I guess this could still lead to disaster, but if a meltdown happened, it wouldn’t take place at work.

  5. What you might want to do is invite the coworker to respond here on this post.

    I would never, ever ask a co-worker to visit a personal blog of mine. If they find it by themselves, fine.

  6. Bit of a long comment here.

      First off, let me say that I agree with Les completely.  Though I do wonder why there is such a difference in the types of bias, depending on the subject. 
      It seems that religion is always off-limits to most people, even many non-believers, and few folks really feel like tackling such ancient and mystical(read:bullshit)ideas wholesale.  Various sects and individuals may have issues with small points of doctrine or certain historical claims, but few folks can take a really impartial look at the whole enchilada of any religious belief.  Perhaps because of our religion and superstition soaked society, it takes courage, work, and honesty to even have a strong opinion on such matters at all; at least one that is somewhat informed and not founded on only faith and ignorance.

    Conversely, most people can be made to believe anything about the non-spiritual evils of his fellow man.  Tell a white person that illiteracy rates among hispanics and blacks are a hundred times higher than among whites, and they will probably believe it without question.  Tell a non-rich person that the banks are all working to make us slaves under their single government, and they will often give you at least some benefit of the doubt.  For all the talking about morality, faith and trust that the religious do, it only comes through in the abstract.  In practice, they are just as distrustful as humans have ever been.

    I do have a great deal of sympathy for(not agreement with) 9/11 conspiracy theorists.  I don’t think that the theories are so much a way to rationalize the tragedy, but are instead an inevitable result of at least two factors.
     
    One factor is the simple powerlessness of any individual in our society.  Even the rich and famous have a hard time getting people to take them seriously.  A middle-class or lower individual has almost no chance of affecting anything at all on any scale outside of their immediate community; and even that can be incredibly difficult, no matter how focused, intelligent or hardworking they may be.  Perhaps supporting such theories provides a villian, a pressure release, that helps keep frustration in the individual from building into crippling apathy or anti-social violence. 

    The second factor is where my sympathy really lies; it is a simple fact that our government is as corrupt as almost any other in the world.  Money and power are the sole motivators for our leaders.  Under the current two-party, winner-takes-all system, only the rich and the socially conservative have any real voice in government whatsoever.  Our “liberals” haven’t been liberal for almost forty years(and they’ve NEVER been radicals), and our “free-market conservatives”  only want a free enough market to keep rich people rich and privileged.  Our leaders, particularly conservatives, lie to the public, flout the constitution, take away freedoms on a whim, murder a million foreigners for oil, and sell arms to our enemies.  In short, they commit crimes on a daily basis for which they should be executed in public by an angry mob, yet come out smelling like roses and millions or billions of dollars richer. 

    My point: Is it really such a big step from the real news to conspiracy theories?  What is the testimony of a few experts when a political party has already shown that they can do anything and get away with it?

    For the record-I do not believe that 9/11 was an inside job.  I just don’t think that Bush and Co. are that creative, and our politics are still somewhat transparent, making it difficult to get away with such a crime.  It takes a lot of fear and a lot of faith to keep such a thing quiet. 
    But that doesn’t affect my opinions about politicians much, really.  It is plainly obvious that the lives of regular Americans mean less than nothing to our politicians.  I also think it is plainly obvious that our politicians, particularly Republicans, purposefully allow our infrastructure and institutions to decay, and then reap the political benefits of the fear and confusuion sown. 
    Most conservatives can’t stand to hear words like these.  It shakes their irrational toady faith in their republican bully leaders.  It blows my mind when I hear people say that the same people who will murder millions for a profit are too moral to kill a few thousand citizens for a sweeping political goal.  Call this paranoid if you like, but I think it would be naive in the extreme to assume that my life, or any random American’s life, means anything more to a politician than that of any other non-partisan infidel.  If George Bush wanted or needed me to be dead and defamed, then I would be dead and defamed; and good, Jesus-loving American Taliban soldiers would do it with God in their hearts and smiles on their faces.

  7. Perhaps I’m in a very small minority, but I genuinely believe that most of our politicians get involved out of a sincere desire to serve their country and do what they believe to be the right thing.

    Not that I don’t think they’re often (usually) wrong, on both sides of the fence. And not that I don’t believe that the system eventually corrupts most of them to one degree or another.

    But I do believe that, in general, they are each doing what they believe is best for their country.

    There are, of course, exceptions, but that’s a topic for another time…..

  8. I’ve sat down through a segment of zietgeist, and their efforts to reveal christianity for the third rate spiritual shoplifting that it is are beyond commendable.  Insofar as the 9/11 incident being a conspiracy, I’m not saying that it is, but I wouldn’t put it past a government to engage a ploy to add some proverbial steroids, especially one as distant and powerdrunken as our own.  For the bankers conspiracy, well in all truth, thats a new one on me.

  9. I agree,

    It’s quite bothersome when your living your life nice and dandy. 
    Going to work every day, doing a good job, then coming home to relax before going to bed and doing it all over again then next day.

    Who has the time to “DEBUNK” anything?  Give me a brake right?
    Maybe the weekends I can do something fun and forget about work since I lie to myself and say I like it. 

    But when I spent my free time, hours and hours and hours of my free time trying to debunk this Zeitgeist bull crap movie.

    Days trying to debunk this movie.
    Has it really been a year now?

    I broke down and cried….

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    I’m Catholic.  I still go to church.  I don’t want to change who I am. 

    .
    .
    .
    When you dig into history… And see real facts that you did not know where even there.

    .
    .
    .
    Truth is stranger then fiction. 
    .
    .
    .
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    I can’t debunk this movie.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Isis the virgin mother or Horus

    Who was also known as Amen Ra

    And the homeland old God that represented the planet Saturn was named “El”

    Isis
    Ra
    El

    Israel

    .
    .
    .

    I’m still Catholic, I still go to Church…

    .

    I’m just praying that everything I learned was and is all Bull Crap…

    .
    So why did I research to begin with? 
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    I don’t like being Had, do you?
    .
    I just had to be sure that It was bull crap and we are fine.

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    So if you like to be a victim or you don’t care about your children, then do nothing and do not attempt to “DEBUNK” anything. 

    .
    If you do care.  Do your own research. 
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    I’ve never seen it debunked.
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    The debunked videos go something like this.
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    I love God, Zeitgeist is stupid because creation was real.

    Movie Debunked.
    .
    Ok, I believe in creation and evolution to a point.  But we need a better “Debunk” argument then that.  Or…

    “My Country would never do that!  Fire brought down building seven!”  Well, no, thats not right either, so something else needs to be explained.  Thats not a debunk either.
    .
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    The movie was only meant to have you think a bit differently so you would do your own research and find out for yourself.  Thats it. 
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    I want this movie to be debunked.
    I enjoy my religion and I do not want to think what if about our awesome Country.
    .
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    Thank you for reading this,  God Bless You….

    .
    Please pray for me because I am very confused. 
    And I do love God and Jesus. 
    And I will never give them up, or my faith…

    Amen

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