Every echo-chamber needs a positive or negative center of gravity: positive if members of the 'bubble' have something they can love together, negative if they are united in their hatred of some X.
I'll focus on the negative variety in this post.
My experience is that it is more of a hindrance than a help if the inhabitants of such an echo chamber know too much about the object of their hate.
After a few weeks as volunteer on slug.com, the 'dark twin' of agnostic.com, only for pro-gun, anti-abortion ring-wingers, I've learned that the guys over there like to use the catch-all terms "socialism" or "socialist" without really knowing what they are talking about (in their view, I'm a Commie...). They conflate socialism, social democracy and the American version of 'liberalism'. It's more or less all the same to them. And it's the (negative) center of gravity of slug.com.
But what is the center of gravity on agnostic.com? Well, it's of course "religion".
Again we can see the same pattern: a catch-all term which vaguely denotes everything that is wrong or even evil in this world (present and past!). And just as on slug.com, most members like to use this term without really having any reliable knowledge or even a coherent theory of it, based on what one may call 'evidence'.
What experts like Tucker Carlson are to the guys on slug.com are people like George Carlin or Chris Hitchens to the average atheist. Other sources of their 'knowledge' are: their intuition, their mental knee-jerk reactions, a handful of anecdotes they have witnessed, rumours and prejudices they have heard somewhere or found on the internet... etc...
One source is conspicuously absent: evidence based on research, because this not very suitable for bold claims and sweeping statements like "religion poisons everything" or "religion was invented to control the masses".
Evidence of what exactly?
You mention "center of gravity" I think you missed the mark when you said the center of gravity on Agnostic.com is "religion" .... In my humble opinion, the center of gravity here is "evidence" and religion doesn't have any.
I'm amused by your last sentence, especially. How do you do 'research' or collect evidence on the supernatural? "Religion poisons everything", ala Hitchens from "god is not great" was deliberate hyperbole to further his arguments. As far as "religion was invented to to control the masses"...actual research shows more that gods/religion seems to have developed initially to explain the world & phenomenon, such as rain/thunder/lightning, day/night & seasonal cycles, birth/death, etc. & that organized religions came later & quite often was a tool to "control the masses".
I have no experience with slug and after reading your post and the comments from other members who opinions I respect I find I have no interest in checking it out.
I avoid ad hominem attacks and prefer facts over opinion.
I joined this site to find more like minded folks concerning their views on religion. I learned right away it was best to avoid groups like conservative atheists. I joined trump pinada as soon as it was formed, as a way to vent.
I get the echo chamber and try to avoid it by checking into right lending news sources and opinion sites.
Here's what I do not understand - right lending talk radio. I have never heard one solution, only ad hominem and vitriol. My latest read.
No shortage of people wanting to jump in and fill the void left by ol' rush.
I just DO not see the level of violence from the left that I see from the right.
If anyone wants to understand the current use of the word socialist you have to study up on political history. Totally recommend Professor Heather Cox Richardson. You tube, sub stack and or facebook. It all becomes clear when you understand where we came from and how we got here.
The professor has a PhD in history not hatred. The barely educated masses confuse communism and socialism therefore using the term socialism elicits an emotional response. That response is exploited very effectively by Fox, Rush, etc. as it keeps people tuned in through the commercial breaks. It makes it feel as if we have gone back in time to the Cold War.
You're forgetting the somewhat significant percentage of actual AGNOSTICS on this site who are much less virulently anti- "religion." I don't dislike "big A" atheists like I do "big R" religionists, but I don't love them either. Agnostic atheists, much more in my ballpark.
Pretty much right, I’d say, about the centers of gravity. I realize I’m bound to have my fair share of human biases, but my impression says there are some notable differences though. If I were to give the two sites toxicity ratings, Slug would be about 85% toxic, and Agnostic about 35%.
Here on Agnostic, people do talk about other things - their hobbies, politics, news, jokes, music, and so on. The political slant is decidedly toward the left, but it’s not the only topic.
On Slug, those other topics do exist, but it is overwhelmingly hard right, paranoid, racist fearmongering - 24/7.
Most of the more liberal-minded folks, that I know of, who have tried to help balance the views on Slug, have eventually abandoned the effort due to toxicity-fatigue, myself included. Whereas, a conservative faction, albeit relatively small, inhabits a corner of Agnostic more or less comfortably.
But I think your CoG assessment regarding evidence for respective negative claims is right on. Given my particular biases, I expected that on the right, but am continually surprised by the active resistance to evidence (not just passive absence) on the left leaning site. It fuels my growing suspicion that humans are more tribal than much of anything else.
I have had similar experiences online. Recently a former soldier who thought he was a patriot claimed to have been wounded 3 times. He came across as a white supremacist that believed Trump's bullshit. I guess people have been crossing our Southern border for the last 6 years or so. Obama had more of the illegals sent back than anyone. When I said I am also ex military but I believe in equality for all, he told me in a bad way to shove that shit right up my ass. I said politely that I am done. People of this caliber believe that Antifa are the bad actors that did the January 6th insurrection. The real conspiracy comes from the left and the white and right must take over. No one will replace them. Jesus, I would hate to have that much venom in me. It will eat you up.
I have a religious friend who is taking me to the Over The Rhine Festival on Labor Day weekend. I'm not sure what it is: A liberal music fest? A christian Music Fest? I think it is both. I look forward to it and believe it will be a breath of fresh air for me, as these are the type of Christians I respect.
We've exchanged blows on god. She's a liberal anti Trumper, for abortion who truly believes in Jesus.
People for the most part vary by degrees. What amazes is me is how close we all are . Most people come by their views honestly. Extremists usually don't.
WEDGE DRIVERS & HATE MONGERS need not apply.
Leaders are usually psychopaths and religion is an unregulated business full of them
Religious people that you can engage with congenitally are rare, but may be valuable bridges to deescalating the rift.
I feel we have a diversity of agnostic opinions here. I don’t think it’s possible, or healthy, for skeptics to 100% identify with anybody else. I have religious friends and family that I can have rational conversations with. They don’t submit themselves wholly to a religious authority and don’t judge people that reject their world view. While I consider religion excess baggage from the past that hinders my progress, I can’t bring myself to condemn people that want to hold on to nondestructive pieces of their traditions.
I think the expression “the dose makes the poison” would be appropriate here.
Are you merely making a statement based on your first hand observations, or are you inviting discussion and contrary perspectives? Not that you’ll get much dissent from me as I partially concur with what you conclude, although I have no first hand experience of Slug.com..but feel sure what you state will be an accurate account of that site as you see it. I don’t believe however that Agnostic.com is merely an echo-chamber as I’ve encountered many diverse views here, there are Trump supporting conservatives who have formed their own right wing groups, and degrees of disbelief (the Agnostic v Atheist ping-pong matches which flare up from time to time), we have Putin supporters and even one or two Pro-lifers it has just recently been revealed. So quite a diversity of views I’d say, hardly what I’d consider to be an echo chamber.
I do roughly agree though about the fixation with religion on this site, although with the caveat that your conclusions don’t apply universally to all of us here, and so your conclusions probably don’t apply universally to all on Slug either by that token. I for one don’t see religion in the same light as those who have been personally adversely affected or even damaged by it. As someone who has been raised secular from birth, I can actually see that religion has some merits, but believe on balance it’s bad effects outweigh its benefits.
Not a good idea to lump us all together in a sweeping generalisation is my ultimate conclusion…maybe on reflection I don’t actually concur with as much of what you say as I thought I did after all!
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca