# John Edwards: An overall positive or negative?

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## Main Question or Discussion Point

Over in the Skepticism and Debunking forum, good ole John has suffered several rounds of debunking. If we assume that we have correctly debunked Mr. Edwards, and not to say that all persons would agree that we have, I still have to wonder: Is he really doing more harm than good? If millions of people are helped in their time of grief, which could potentially be the result of so many true believers, could that be worth the price paid for this illusion? If all of this afterlife stuff is boloney and when we die that's it - the big nada - who cares if John’s duping so many true believers? What is preferable about the alternative for the grieving? Maybe a majority of people can best cope with life if allow for some illusion. This is a question about human nature and is not one of ethics or morals; though clearly these consideration do weigh in.

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Zero
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Over in the Skepticism and Debunking forum, good ole John has suffered several rounds of debunking. If we assume that we have correctly debunked Mr. Edwards, and not to say that all persons would agree that we have, I still have to wonder: Is he really doing more harm than good? If millions of people are helped in their time of grief, which could potentially be the result of so many true believers, could that be worth the price paid for this illusion? If all of this afterlife stuff is boloney and when we die that's it - the big nada - who cares if John’s duping so many true believers? What is preferable about the alternative for the grieving? Maybe a majority of people can best cope with life if allow for some illusion. This is a question about human nature and is not one of ethics or morals; though clearly these consideration do weigh in.
He is lying to people...isn't that harm enough?

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Originally posted by Zero
He is lying to people...isn't that harm enough?
What harm?

Zero

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
What harm?
The harm is in conditioning people to embrace happy lies...the damage can be seen in our culture today, and extends far beyond the 'supernatural' beliefs that people have. Medicine, politics, whatever, people need to accept truth, no matter how painful.

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Originally posted by Zero
The harm is in conditioning people to embrace happy lies...the damage can be seen in our culture today, and extends far beyond the 'supernatural' beliefs that people have. Medicine, politics, whatever, people need to accept truth, no matter how painful.
you Orwellian.

What if, as an example, we assume that all religious beliefs are false, but that people are happier and they live longer if they believe in spiritual fantasies?

Two particular groups that can lay claim to unique longevity are the Mormons and the Adventists. One can argue that this results from lifestyle, but from what comes the lifestyle? Also, stress and happiness are significant factor in longevity.

Perhaps it is just a matter of having the right fantasy. Also, you are proposing that politics is anything but a fiction now?

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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
you Orwellian.

What if, as an example, we assume that all religious beliefs are false, but that people are happier and they live longer if they believe in spiritual fantasies?

Two particular groups that can lay claim to unique longevity are the Mormons and the Adventists. One can argue that this results from lifestyle, but from what comes the lifestyle? Also, stress and happiness are significant factor in longevity.

Perhaps it is just a matter of having the right fantasy. Also, you are proposing that politics is anything but a fiction now?
It's true that in the short run it may help the individual, but more importantly, it hurts the society. Look how much money and time is going into simple myths.

While they may live longer, they're doing much less good with their time. In the end, IMHO, it's a negative effect.

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Originally posted by Beren
it hurts the society. Look how much money and time is going into simple myths.
How. I keep hearing the claim, but I don't see the evidence.

While they may live longer, they're doing much less good with their time.
So they would be better off gambling down at the bar while watching the football game? What good do people do who don't have religion; as opposed to the good done by the religious. Many if not most of the worlds charitable organizations are sponsored by churches. I think it becomes easy to argue that the religious do more good that the non-religious...by a long shot!

In the end, IMHO, it's a negative effect.
Again, why?

How. I keep hearing the claim, but I don't see the evidence
John Edwards makes a ridiculous amount of money, and his seminars cost not a small amount, either. Think of what benefit we would have if that money went into research or a science program.

As for religion doing any good, at all, that's simply nonsense. (well, I'm two-sided on this account, but I'll get to that). First off, the amount of money poored into religion is astronomical. For an example, I went to church today, with a good friend. While listening to the preacher (who, among other things, screamed of the evils of homosexuality and modern progress) I discerned that the church within the past two years had made in excess of $120,000. Think of what that money could have done for research, for teaching, for children. But what are they doing with it? They're using it to build a larger church. It's sickening. Another thing that struck me was how eager the people soaked up his biased and hateful opinions. There was a woman behind me, around 50 years old by sight, who repeated "Amen" and "Godbless" after every sentence. If we were anywhere but church, she would have been instantly diagnosed with a mental disorder. Think of how many people that applies to. John Edwards is an extension of this (as most people seem to think that he communicates with "Heaven"). While churches do "Good" in bringing help to some, they bring misery and segregation (and have for many a year) to an equal amount of the populace. The ways that they impede progress and the sanity of human race are, in no other terms, appalling. Now for the other side, I have (at times) a very low view of the human race, and religion continues to remind me that it keeps the brainwashed barbarians out of my way for at least a portion of the week. However, I would gladly give up that moment of un-madness for the sanity of my species. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Originally posted by Beren John Edwards makes a ridiculous amount of money, and his seminars cost not a small amount, either. Think of what benefit we would have if that money went into research or a science program. I understand the objection. For me, the same objection lies also with many, many other examples e.g. athletes, rock stars, TV stars, movie stars, Vegas magic acts, many CEOs, car salesmen, some lawyers, psychologists, VIDEO GAMES, etc. I can argue that he is no different than any other entertainer in this regard. ... As for religion doing any good, at all, that's simply nonsense. (well, I'm two-sided on this account, but I'll get to that). First off, the amount of money poored into religion is astronomical. For an example, I went to church today, with a good friend. While listening to the preacher (who, among other things, screamed of the evils of homosexuality and modern progress) I discerned that the church within the past two years had made in excess of$120,000. Think of what that money could have done for research, for teaching, for children. But what are they doing with it? They're using it to build a larger church. It's sickening.
First, $120,000 for an institution like a church is not much money. This depends of course on the size of the congregation, but these terms, these are not big bucks by any means. Next, why is building a bigger church any more sickening than building the Astrodome, or Disneyland, or a theater? Finally, I agree, stay away from the fundamentalist if you expect tolerance. Don’t even get me started on hypocrisy. Enough said. Another thing that struck me was how eager the people soaked up his biased and hateful opinions. There was a woman behind me, around 50 years old by sight, who repeated "Amen" and "Godbless" after every sentence. If we were anywhere but church, she would have been instantly diagnosed with a mental disorder. Think of how many people that applies to. John Edwards is an extension of this (as most people seem to think that he communicates with "Heaven"). While churches do "Good" in bringing help to some, they bring misery and segregation (and have for many a year) to an equal amount of the populace. The ways that they impede progress and the sanity of human race are, in no other terms, appalling. Strictly speaking, this is about Edwards and not religion in general. Though clearly a part of the discussion, religion plays no direct role in what Edwards does. He is in fact considered evil by some religious views. This is really about whether the truth is more important than happiness...in a social context of course. Now for the other side, I have (at times) a very low view of the human race, and religion continues to remind me that it keeps the brainwashed barbarians out of my way for at least a portion of the week. However, I would gladly give up that moment of un-madness for the sanity of my species. IMO, regarding your most basic objections [aside from money], it is not implicitly atheism or religion that is the problem, it is intolerance. Last edited: IMO, regarding your most basic objections [aside from money], it is not implicitly atheism or religion that is the problem, it is intolerance. My intolerance? Not at all. I've kept an open mind, but I'm a humanitist. I whole-heartedily believe the only way to continue our species is to throw out the mythology. Strictly speaking, this is about Edwards and not religion in general. Though clearly a part of the discussion, religion plays no direct role in what Edwards does. He is in fact considered evil by some religious views. This is really about whether the truth is more important than happiness...in a social context of course. By some religious views, yes, but he's a metaphorical "Saint" to others. And to even ask whether or not truth is more important than happiness is one of the sickest things I've ever heard. Living your life in mass-delusia may be comforting, but it's also detrimental to the species. It's coming to the point where the most intelligent people are those that don't believe in God, and they therefore mate with other intelligent people of the same persuasion. The Stupid get more so just as the intelligent stay intelligent. First,$120,000 for an institution like a church is not much money. This depends of course on the size of the congregation, but these terms, these are not big bucks by any means.
For one small church in the relative middle of nowhere? Imagine the income of the papacy. It adds up very, very quicky, trust me.

Next, why is building a bigger church any more sickening than building the Astrodome, or Disneyland, or a theater? Finally, I agree, stay away from the fundamentalist if you expect tolerance. Don’t even get me started on hypocrisy. Enough said.
An Astrodome promotes public entertainment and physical development of athletes, plus the fact that athletics puts many many kids through school wouldn't otherwise have the chance. A Theatre is the new media for creative expression. If you're an artless person, say what you will, but it must be a terrible way to live. And Disneyland, well..honestly, everyone needs a vacation.

I understand the objection. For me, the same objection lies also with many, many other examples e.g. athletes, rock stars, TV stars, movie stars, Vegas magic acts, many CEOs, car salesmen, some lawyers, psychologists, VIDEO GAMES, etc. I can argue that he is no different than any other entertainer in this regard.
The exception is quite obvious. Those people give a liable service to humanity, where Jogn Edwards promotes only ridiculous psuedosciences with no basis in anything proven. He's just another example of duping the american populace into another manipulation of delusia.

Don't even get me started on the 700 club.

Zero
I think true, lasting happiness comes from accepting the truth...telling lies is ultimately harmful to those sorry people who believe in it.

Well said.

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Originally posted by Beren
My intolerance?

Not at all. I've kept an open mind, but I'm a humanitist. I whole-heartedily believe the only way to continue our species is to throw out the mythology.
Therefore this is the truth. If someone disagrees? Shown later.

By some religious views, yes, but he's a metaphorical "Saint" to others. And to even ask whether or not truth is more important than happiness is one of the sickest things I've ever heard.
Then you have led a very sheltered life.

Living your life in mass-delusia may be comforting, but it's also detrimental to the species.
It got us this far didn't it? Who can say?

It's coming to the point where the most intelligent people are those that don't believe in God, and they therefore mate with other intelligent people of the same persuasion. The Stupid get more so just as the intelligent stay intelligent.
Now we see your religion - I'm right. I'm smarter.

For one small church in the relative middle of nowhere? Imagine the income of the papacy. It adds up very, very quicky, trust me.
I grew up in a Catholic church. We knew where all the money went and it wasn't to Rome.

An Astrodome promotes public entertainment and physical development of athletes, plus the fact that athletics puts many many kids through school wouldn't otherwise have the chance. A Theatre is the new media for creative expression. If you're an artless person, say what you will, but it must be a terrible way to live. And Disneyland, well..honestly, everyone needs a vacation.
So since these things have value to you they're OK. Let me write this down. Helping a hopelessly grieving mother is bad. Disneyland is good. Got it.

The exception is quite obvious. Those people give a liable service to humanity, where Jogn Edwards promotes only ridiculous psuedosciences with no basis in anything proven. He's just another example of duping the american populace into another manipulation of delusia.

Don't even get me started on the 700 club.
But drinking and gambling and video games that make our kids fat and lazy are OK? Oh yes, how many lives are ruined by extreme sports? Also, should we open the topic of athletes as role models. How about if we start with basketball?. Many woman will tell you that sports keep dads from spending time with their kids.

And don't get me started on the crud that the entertainment industry does to pollute the minds of kids. What are the lyrics for latest gang-rap cr*p.

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Originally posted by Zero
I think true, lasting happiness comes from accepting the truth...telling lies is ultimately harmful to those sorry people who believe in it.
Even if true for you, what is your evidence that this is true for everyone?

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You are both ignoring the fact that many people never do recover from devestating loss. Sometimes, "we just can't handle the truth".

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Originally posted by Beren
Now for the other side, I have (at times) a very low view of the human race, and religion continues to remind me that it keeps the brainwashed barbarians out of my way for at least a portion of the week. However, I would gladly give up that moment of un-madness for the sanity of my species.
I'm assuming that, since you have no problem referring to people who attend church as 'brainwashed barbarians', you would have no problem to them addressing you as 'brainless moron'?

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Zero
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
You are both ignoring the fact that many people never do recover from devestating loss. Sometimes, "we just can't handle the truth".
they need therapy, not false hope!

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Originally posted by Zero
they need therapy, not false hope!
It is for closure, not false hope. Also, this does not exclude therapy. In fact, perhaps this mdeium stuff is really an excellent way to resolve the psychological trauma of loss...like roll playing. Don't psychologists use games to trick the mind into resolution or recognition? How is this different? We pay the shrink big bucks, why not Edwards? If it works, it works! Maybe Edwards can help more than psychologists can because people really believe in Edwards. They know that psychology is rational.

It's not like people go around talking with their dead relatives all the time just becuase they saw Edwards once. Edwards may simply act as a catalyst that aids the grieving process.

Look, in reality, this guy turns my stomach. I can hardly stand to watch him for more than a few minutes. I am only following the logic.

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It is for closure, not false hope.
I thought funerals were for closure!
Also, this does not exclude therapy. In fact, perhaps this mdeium stuff is really an excellent way to resolve the psychological trauma of loss...like roll playing. Don't psychologists use games to trick the mind into resolution or recognition? How is this different? We pay the shrink big bucks, why not Edwards? If it works, it works! Maybe Edwards can help more than psychologists can because people really believe in Edwards. They know that psychology is rational.
I had an idea; Mr. Edwards should be given an honorary PhD and allowed to practice. He can set up shop next to Dr. Phil…

Edwards may simply act as a catalyst that aids the grieving process.
That’s assuming those people were grieving in the first place, which I’m unsure of. If someone in the audience had attended merely out of curiosity to see his performance and Mr. Edwards convinced them they had a relative existing in a state of horrible torment, burning away in Hell for example, he might be accused of opening old wounds rather than healing present ones. Oh yeah, but I forgot; Mr. Edwards only brings good tidings, which means 'healing' is the only thing he can be accused of...
I hope this actually means I will live happily ever after provided enough people still living are made to believe that I am.

Look, in reality, this guy turns my stomach. I can hardly stand to watch him for more than a few minutes. I am only following the logic.
It’s an individual choice whether to believe what we want to believe or to face uncertainty. In this respect I view Mr. Edwards as being but little different from a theologian, and people have the right to attend the service of their choice. It may be good for many, but it is not good for me, and ultimately society will consist of us all, born of the freedom to make these types of decisions for ourselves.

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I thought funerals were for closure!
You and I know it doesn't always work this way; especially when it comes to children. From what I have seen, the true believers do find solace through Edwards.

I had an idea; Mr. Edwards should be given an honorary PhD and allowed to practice. He can set up shop next to Dr. Phil…
Two peas in a pod?

It’s an individual choice whether to believe what we want to believe or to face uncertainty. In this respect I view Mr. Edwards as being but little different from a theologian, and people have the right to attend the service of their choice. It may be good for many, but it is not good for me, and ultimately society will consist of us all, born of the freedom to make these types of decisions for ourselves.
Compared to the snake handling, cyanide drinking fundamentalists that still practice in some states like Alabama, IMO Edwards is pretty harmless. What I see is people who seem find closure in unresolved issues. It seems clear to me that many of these people are greatly moved by Edwards: perhaps to the point of catharsis.

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It would be interesting to survey true believers that have suffered a terrible loss, that have been "read" by Edwards. I wonder how they feel about the experience a year or two later.

You and I know it doesn't always work this way; especially when it comes to children. From what I have seen, the true believers do find solace through Edwards.
I haven't seen Mr. Edwards work his magic with any children yet, though I admit neither have I been watching his show. I suppose it could be argued that adults are nothing but big kids, but the true believers are going to find solace whether Mr. Edwards is around or not, imo.

Two peas in a pod?
I don't know, but doesn’t Mr. Phil actually have some professional credentials as well as having a sense of humor? You suggested there was a connection between methods Mr. Edwards uses and those of a schooled professional, but I have a more difficult time picturing a trained professional using tactics they didn’t believe in, and/or in fact thought fraudulent, to help a patient. Of course, I am also making an assumption here that Mr. Edwards knows he is a fake, which I believe is the case.

Ultimately what I am saying is that it is ok with me if people need to resort to this in order to get through with their lives. But, I’d add that even if Mr. Edwards can help more people that psychologists can I still think he belongs on the side of the line with religion, not psychology.

It is for closure, not false hope
But it is false hope, no matter if that's what it's for or not. He's point-blank lieing to them.

It's not like people go around talking to dead relatives...
No, they talk God, which is the exact same. Either way they're talking to nothing. That's generally referred to as schizophrenia.

On another note, Edwards has a lot of entertainment value (just as religion has a fair amount of literary value). I used to watch him every day last year in the one hour I had after coming home (more for the reason that it was background noise that I didn't have to pay much attention to, he has a very calming voice). But it still boils down to the fact that he's lieing to them, and they believe it.

The question is still whether or not truth is more important than happiness. Isn't living simply the search for truth? Religion is a search for truth, athiesm is that same search, just as philosophy. The search for truth (along for survival) is the single most important purpose of man.

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I haven't seen Mr. Edwards work his magic with any children yet, though I admit neither have I been watching his show. I suppose it could be argued that adults are nothing but big kids, but the true believers are going to find solace whether Mr. Edwards is around or not, imo.

I don't know, but doesn’t Mr. Phil actually have some professional credentials as well as having a sense of humor? You suggested there was a connection between methods Mr. Edwards uses and those of a schooled professional, but I have a more difficult time picturing a trained professional using tactics they didn’t believe in, and/or in fact thought fraudulent, to help a patient. Of course, I am also making an assumption here that Mr. Edwards knows he is a fake, which I believe is the case.

Ultimately what I am saying is that it is ok with me if people need to resort to this in order to get through with their lives. But, I’d add that even if Mr. Edwards can help more people that psychologists can I still think he belongs on the side of the line with religion, not psychology.
[/QUOTE

Whoooooaaaaa, I went right and you went left.

I mean parents that are grieving over lost children. I have never seen him "read" a child.

Next, I was only asking if you were putting Dr. Phil in this light. I would say that Dr. Phill is quite the entertainer; and his TV diagnoses are probably viewed negatively by many of his peers - just guessing - but I recognize that he is a professional. I meant no comparison in this sense.

I assumed from the start that Edwards is a complete fraud. No other interpretation of him personally is intended.

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Originally posted by Beren
But it is false hope, no matter if that's what it's for or not. He's point-blank lieing to them.
I completely agree. However, yours is is an ethical objection based on a moral premise. If we can put our own interpretations of good and evil aside, I am trying to consider what effect Edwards actually has on people. It is possible that people leave feeling better; having come to better terms with guilt, or perhaps a sense of unfinished business, or simply to feel that this lost person may somehow may still exist...let's say as the personification of fond memories. This may be a normal mechanism for healing.

No, they talk God, which is the exact same. Either way they're talking to nothing. That's generally referred to as schizophrenia.
...or as the expression of hidden feelings and emotions? If we assume that God does not exist, that the advent of spiritualism may have happened even in parallel with our species, could well imply that this is a necessary component of mental health. How can we rule out that brains have evolved in a way such that most or many people need spiritualism in order to be happy? If not, then why has this been a constant in human history; across cultures and geographical boundaries...unless of course there is really something to it?

But it still boils down to the fact that he's lieing to them, and they believe it.
But this is an pbjection based on biblical interpretations of morality. I would like to keep religion out of this.

The question is still whether or not truth is more important than happiness. Isn't living simply the search for truth? Religion is a search for truth, athiesm is that same search, just as philosophy. The search for truth (along for survival) is the single most important purpose of man.
These are philosophical questions and points of view. Mine is a sociological and psychological question. What impact does Edwards have on his believers.