Napkins and Skepticism

Let’s consider the mean-spirited note on the napkin allegedly left with a waitress.  If there is one phrase that accurately describes the note it would have to be “over the top.”

The first thing I noticed is the impressive penmanship.  Notice, for example,  the consistency in form when writing the d’s, t’s, and g’s.  It looks like this person is quite practiced at writing and is concerned about detail.   What’s more, as mezimm observed:

Have you ever written on a napkin? It’s not easy. The thin paper material keeps tearing under your pen as you write. Now, have you ever written THAT SMALL on a napkin? Have you ever written THAT MUCH TEXT on a napkin, with the spacing and formatting so perfectly done that you were able to – barely! – fit it all on there?

Indeed.  There doesn’t seem to be single tear on the napkin.  The note was written carefully. And deliberately, since it must have taken a good bit of time to write.

Yet this attention to detail, along with the evidence of being skilled at writing with a pen, is inconsistent with the apparent unconcern with the rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It’s difficult to believe someone with such impressive penmanship doesn’t know how to spell excellent and essentially.  Furthermore, laughable spelling mistakes like this are a common Poe tactic.

TFBW also hits on an important point:

it looks like something a troll would write. Notice the apostrophes. Every single case where an apostrophe should be present, it is missing, and every single case where it is present, it is wrong. It is incorrect with extraordinary precision — so precise that it’s unlikely to be genuine error.

Indeed. Pay special attention to the use of “your” and “you’re.”

There are several places where the writer uses “your” when they should have used “you’re.”  Okay, that’s a common mistake.  But then there are two places where the writer uses “you’re” instead of “your,” even thought they got it right six other times.  Now, using “you’re” when you should use “your” is a much less common mistake, something a hoaxer might have trouble carrying out.   Look closely at those two examples where they pulled off the mistake.

The first one occurs in the second sentence.

…your a good waitress.  Heres your tip. A womans place is in the home. You’re place is in the home.

Compare it to the second place it occurs – the beginning of the second to last line.

cleaning your house and cooking a hot meal for your husband and children, the way you’re husband and God intended.

They get “your husband” right the first time, but not the second time.

Now look closely and compare the first “you’re” to the second one.  The first “you’re” has a space between the u and the r with the apostrophe right in the middle.  The second “you’re” has no such space and thus the apostrophe is placed above the r.

It looks like the second mistaken “you’re” was made as a purposeful afterthought.  With the first “you’re” the writer wrote y, o, u, apostrophe in space, then r and e.  With the second “you’re,” it sure looks like they wrote y, o, u, r, paused and decided they needed one more final mistake, squeezed in the apostrophe above the r, and added the e.

It takes a little effort to purposely make the mistake of writing “you’re” when it should be “your.” The brain of the writer pulls off the first one early enough while they are focused on making mistakes on purpose, but then reverts  back to normal and gets “your” instead of “you’re” right the next 6 times, but then, as the writer nears the end of the note, remembers to throw in another example of that mistake.

On top of the seemingly purposeful mistakes, the arguments themselves so perfectly represent The Stereotype that they come across as a troll trying to impersonate what’s in their imagination:

  1. The couple eating at a restaurant attacks waitress for not being at home cooking a meal. This is supposed to signal Hypocrisy.
  2. The couple claim’s the waitress’s husband is having an affair because she is working and not available. That’s just Mean.
  3. The couple claims the waitress is going to work to look for hand outs. That signals Stupidity (reinforced by all the spelling and punctuation mistakes).

Then, they end the hypocritical, mean, dumb note with a slogan from Trump’s campaign.  That’s when they jump the shark.  It’s then you say to yourself, “Okay, I get it. The note is supposed to represent the Typical Trump Voter.”

To top it all off, they do as Poes do – after writing a horribly mean and insulting note, sign it obliviously as “Love, the Watley’s”

In summary, the note looks awfully contrived to me, more like a smart person trying to play dumb by acting out their stereotypes.  I can’t say that’s the case, but it sure looks that way.

Finally, let’s consider the context.

First, the whole incident entails some rather odd facts.  To start, there does not appear to be any trigger for such a mean-spirited note.  The waitress said the customers were nice and the note says she did a good job.  Given just how well thought out the malice is (see Dhay’s analysis here ) and given the amount of time and effort it took to write that all so carefully on a napkin, the missing trigger is all the more unexplainable.  Furthermore, according to the waitress, the customers came back into the restaurant after their table had been clear for the sole purpose of delivering the note, then quickly ran out the door.  Why was it so important for that waitress to receive the note?  Why go to that extra effort?  Why not just hang on to the note and give it to another waitress the next time they eat out?  Both of these oddities strongly suggest there is more to the story than we have been told.

Second, while it may be true there are many religious people who think “a woman’s place is in the home,” I’m not sure how many in this group also a) display impressive penmanship coupled with horrid spelling, punctuation and grammar, and b)are so determined to deliver this message, in detail and with great malice, to some waitress they don’t know.  It would seem to me that would be a rather small group that is not any larger than the population of pranksters, hoaxers, and actvists (anti-religious, feminist, and/or anti-Trump) that are out there.

Third, and final, is just how unsubstantiated this whole story is.  The waitress and her friend remain anonymous (for rather flimsy reasons).  The friend of the waitress submitted a picture of the napkin to a journalist.  And there is no evidence the journalist made any effort to fact-check or verify the story.  Even the quotes from the waitress seem to have been sent electronically

“They were a couple, mid-50s I would guess,” the server said in a written note that her friend shared with WYFF News 4.

This is all the more important given the recent examples of waitress’s orchestrating similar notes. See Mister Jorge’s links here.

That this story is so vague and unsubstantiated means it should not be taken seriously by anyone who values critical thinking.

In conclusion, there are three possible explanations for the origin of the note.

  1. It was written by the waitress herself or someone she knows.
  2. It was written by the customers, who were hoaxers, not Christians.
  3. It was written by Christian customers.

There is no evidence that indicates #3 is the correct explanation.  At the very least, these are three equally plausible explanations.  Yet the internet atheist community is quite sure #3 is the correct explanation clearly demonstrating that “belief without evidence” is a human phenomenon not specific to the religious.

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2 Responses to Napkins and Skepticism

  1. b)are so determined to deliver this message, in detail and with great malice, to some waitress they don’t know.

    This is, to me, the biggest red flag. It’s something I’ve noticed in our increasingly narcassistic age, is that people can’t just “be mean” but they have to be mean to me. Because I am so wonderful and awesome they still have to think about me, even if it’s hate.

    Well the reality is that for truly awful people, it was Tuesday. Once in awhile, MAYBE some bullies take a personal interest in you, but in the general, it’s not personal. It never is.

    Unless the waitress has a personal foe – a nemesis – in this family there’s just no way they would care that much to go through all this trouble. People are busy, we’ve all got shi-uff to do. Unless the family prepares these napkins beforehand and then just hands them out wherever they go, nah. This is a wounded gazelle gambit.

  2. RegualLlegna says:

    The only thing in this story that matters to gnu atheists is the non-evidence based belief that “christians insult a witress” they don’t care for the waitress in this story, is only a confirmation bias constructed story with the sole purpose to that this belief: “A womans place is in the home.” is used to make the believe other people that “A woman place is in the home” is a very important belief in christianity (put feminists againts christians and give confirmation to others gnus that christians = bad people).

    I give some advices to some gnus about how to improve their own anti-religious stance:

    1.- Make good arguments againts the concept of fate. (all religions)
    2.- Make good arguments againts the concept of transcendence. (all religions)
    3.- Make good arguments againts the concept of being. (all religions)
    4.- Make good arguments againts the concept of divinity/what is sacred. (all religions)

    But of course they really don’t want to be anti-religonists (opposition againts ALLL religions), this make them really anti-christians/islamists/jews (not the etnic group), they can be anti-religionists because their arguments don’t work on zoroastrianism (anti-monotheists) and work much less againts polytheistic religions. In fact most of the arguments of the gnu are less pro-atheism and more pro-misotheim (hate the very concept of a god), pro-maltheism (any concept of a god is the evil god concept of god), pro-autotheism (they reduce pandeism usually with the stupid argument:”the logical end of pandeism is that you are god”), pro-eutheism (why they will make a god look evil if they don’t believe that a god need to be good in order to deserve worship?/sarcasm), pro-pandeism (reduced as as if it were synonymous of pandeism), pro-deism (god don’t do anything for you them is non-existant/meaningless, AKA in the gnu mind deism=atheism).

    I think the tipical gnu atheist is not a idiot (lack intelligence) but likes to present himself like a fool (lack wisdom).

    They lack of wisdom make them have a clear proplem with quality (not quantity) in their knowledge: If they have quality in their knowledge about theism they will be good anti-theists, if they have quality in their knowledge about religions they will be good anti-religionists, if they grasp the differences between eutheism, dystheism and maltheism they will be good anti-monotheists (or at least understand why they arguments fail againts a monotheistic religion like zoroastrianism, polytheistic religions and non-theistic religions),if they grasp the differences between fideism, deism, pandeism, pantheism, autotheism, opustheism*, atheism and others they will understand that atheism is actually a subset of theism not a opposition (but. of course, they don’t want to understand other people) and if they understand the differences between a god (ruler, controller, reality, etc), a deity (spirit, essence, heart, etc), a divinity (sacred, holy, importance, etc) and a creator (cause, prime mover, base, etc) they will know that an atheist only not believe in a god (is not a abligation to give the title of god to anything) but can believe in a deity (the gnu have morality, abstract concept, as deity), a divinity (the gnu have science, theoretical not aplicable, as sacred) and a creator (the gnu have luck, as the reason to be alive, as creator).

    In monotheism the main figure need to be a a god, a deity, a divinity and a creator at the same time to make sense, they are synonymous, and in polytheism a god, a deity, a divinity and a creator are not synonymous. Most people don’t make their own self-phylosophy (study their own knowledge) can’t grasp the difference of basics self stances much less if they don’t care in first place.

    Self stances about belief in a god, that i find, compatible with judaism, christianity and islam:
    Monotheism, Polytheism, Fideism, Eutheism, Dystheism, Amaretheism**, Stoictheism***, Misotheism, Opustheism*, Deism, Pandeism, Pantheism, Atheism, Omnism, Others.

    Self stances about belief in a god, that i find, incompatible with judaism, christianity and islam:
    Maltheism, Autotheism, Others.

    Only maltheism and autotheism are irrational for a christian (never will understand the reasons to hold these stances) because any christian will believe that God or any thing with the title of god will be evil and any christian will believe that they are a god or hold the title of god.

    * Opustheism: OPUS= latín word for need and work; theism= greek word for teos/god or deity; stance of “belief in the work of God” or the reasons for believe in a god or deity interference as opposition of deism.

    ** Amaretheism: Amare= latín word for love; theism= greek word for teos/god or deity; stance of “belief in the love for God” or the reasons for love a god or deity as opposition of misotheism.

    *** Stoictheism: Stoic= for the word stoicism; theism= greek word for teos/god or deity; stance of “belief in the neutrality of God” or the reasons for believe in a god or deity from a neutral perspective as opposition of eutheism (good) and maltheism (bad).

    If i take a stance for me about the belief in a god will be deism, and i will never take the stences of maltheism, autotheism, atheism, amaretheism and misotheism.

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