Usually I refrain from pouncing on superstitious or irrational beliefs for entirely selfish reason. If a woman mentions an interest in astrology, I’m more than likely to tone down or censor entirely any strident protests along the lines of “You what? ” unless I have no superficial manly interest in her at all. For the record, it would take a brick wall in a dress before I stopped wanting to make with the penis.
My experience thus far is that a woman invested in astrology – for example – is perfectly capable of using it to inform decisions concerning whether or not she wants to continue speaking to me based on my birthdate. So a tactful modicum of outright lies and grit-toothed hypocricy is required for me to continue in any sort of relationship. Admittedly my last girlfriend went from being Catholic to atheist within a year, although that was probably because I knew I didn’t have to lie in order for her to go out with me.
If a man mentions astrology or another irrational belief, I’m again likely to refrain if this seems to be the course of action most likely to benefit myself. So, the menial lackey I worked with at Vodafone who mentioned God got a whole faceful of rebuttal; the music producer who mentioned astrology got merely a quietly tactful smile. I am not especially altruistic, and my failure to offer intellectual refutation is entirely selfish in nature. Of course, there are or have been people with whom I was happy to argue without fear of losing their respect/ladygap, but generally I play safe.
So my motivation is what best serves me, almost entirely. If I decide not to tangle with someone’s beliefs you can be assured that it’s not out of any kind of respect or desire to leave them in peace.
However, very recently one of my work colleagues mentioned how his tattoo reminded him of his Grandfather and how he’ll “see him again.” I opened my mouth, and then shut it again. The cynical among you might read a selfish urge into this, of course, because trying to convince someone that they’ll never see a dead relative again is a thankless and often messy task. However, what was foremost in my mind was the knowledge that I had to leave this one alone, however much I might want to hack the belief to pieces. Because I knew he cared and he needed his horribly misguided delusion. Could it be that I tasted altruism? A desire to leave someone alone with their comfort? Unthinkable!
Still, I was tempted.