Essay:Humanity mistaking fiction for fact

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As an Atheist, it is my believe that the accounts of miracles and a large part of the events described in their religious texts are either heavily misunderstood, or deliberately mislead by perpetrators, if not outright fiction. The same is true for the accounts of observations of pseudoscientific phenomena.

However, I've also come to observe that a lot of adherents of religion, as well as believers in pseudoscience, confuse works which could be unmistakably and invariably labeled as actual events with ramifications and effects for the real world. The following shall be a list of such instances.

Obviously fictional events and works believed to have real world effects[edit]

  • Moral panic about Dungeons and Dragons, e.g. the Chick Tract Dark Dungeons[1]
  • Harry Potter teaching children witchcraft [2]
  • "God Mode" in video games as a tool of satan [3]
  • Superman renouncing his citizenship [4]
  • Comments of christians on anime, specifically Dragonball and Pokemon, at[5]

If you are a reader, feel free to add more examples and references

Chicken or Egg scenario[edit]

Most skeptics would categorize the actual beliefs of the people expressing the complaints above also as fiction. This is also true for people that have own personal beliefs in the supernatural, in cases of supernatural phenomena that they do not belief in. An example would the disagreement among Christians whether or not the events described in the book of mormon are true or not. As such, most people will agree that most beliefs in the supernatural are in error, mistaking fiction for reality.

An important question that should be asked is how the confusion over fiction and reality relates to supernatural beliefs, regardless of whether a person holds supernatural beliefs that he or she thinks are true. As we can see, humans are quite easily fooled into believing fiction is fact. However, do religions and pseudosciences prey upon people who are inherently less capable of discerning fact from fiction; or does religion and pseudoscience weaken the intellectual immune system of people when the people have become involved with these through a different means (e.g. indoctrination), so that it becomes harder for people to get rid of the mind virus that is religion or pseudoscience. The later option would also account for making it easier for adherents to mistake other fiction for reality, though it is most likely that both things are true.


As observed, no person is absolutely immune from confusing fact and fiction. Everybody is capable of harboring a belief that isn't actually true, whether in defiance of evidence to the contrary, or in ignorance of it. Even the belief in things despite absolute lack of evidence, faith as it were, is often pronounced a virtue, rather than a problem.

However, it is a problem because the way we observe the world informs the actions that we take, and those actions will have consequences for us and our surroundings. Misinformed actions will have negative consequences, and thus will be less beneficial for us than correctly informed actions.

As such, universally applied skepticism and the questioning whether our observations and impressions objectively and correctly reflect reality appears to produce the best results, and enables us to make even better observations in the future. This also asks of us personally to routinely examine the beliefs we hold and rigorously put them to the test. Unfortunately, this all too commonly neglected and sheltered in the arrogance and presumption to already hold the truth in our hands.

That’s why we should trust those who seek the truth and doubt those who claim to have it! AronRa[6]


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