Religion and Ham Radio

300px-International_amateur_radio_symbol.svgWe need to get the religion out of ham radio. No, I am not talking about the HF nets that support missionaries or similar activities. (Those people might actually be doing something good for the world.) I am talking about the religious debates concerning new technology…this technology is better than that technology.

Amateur radio is a technical hobby, one based on technology, hobbyist pursuits and mutual interest. One might think that this means issues are looked at objectively and discussions are based on logic, scientific principles and facts. Of course, this is completely wrong. What often shows up in ham radio are religious debates about technology or operating modes.

Here’s a definition of Religion:

a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

You can tell when you are stuck in a religious debate…the facts quickly fade and statements like “this is the right way to do it” become louder. Underneath this is a fundamental belief trying to come out that the person may not even be aware they have.

A long running example of a religious debate is Linux versus Windows. On the surface, people argue about which one has more defects, which one is more secure and which one ultimately serves their needs better. Underneath the surface is the religious belief: software should be free, Microsoft is evil, etc. Then there are those Mac enthusiasts (you know who you are)….these folks tend to act like a cult as they attempt to convert other people to their group. (Where is the line between enthusiast and cult member?)

The latest one on the ham radio front is the debate over digital technology in the VHF and higher bands: D-STAR versus DMR (and now Fusion). The debate starts out rational with a discussion of the merits of each but soon the deeply-held beliefs come out: D-STAR is bad because ICOM is pushing it, DMR is good because it is the commercial standard, D-STAR is good because it is an amateur radio standard, D-STAR uses a proprietary vocoder chip so it is bad, etc. Then don’t forget the guys that say “all digital is bad, analog FM is good.”

Again, you can tell when the religion kicks in because the facts start to fade and the beliefs rise to the surface. Usually, these arguments can’t be resolved because you can’t really debate beliefs. What you get instead are flame wars on the various email groups.

What other religious debates are out there? Android versus iOS, Open Source Software versus Commercial Software, My favorite rig versus Your favorite rig, … what else?

-73, Bob K0NR

This post is recycled and updated from a 2007 post. Some things never change.

The post Religion and Ham Radio appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Religion and Ham Radio”

  • Paul KG7OWO:

    Very good point in this thread. Opinions are often like armpits everyone has a couple, and without care, they can stink.

  • W3FIS, Paul:

    Well, more gasoline on fire …. how about CW versus most anything….

  • Don N4KC:

    Bob, if you go beyond technical topics, there are plenty more “religious” debates in our hobby:

    – Contesters vs. nets
    – Homebrewers vs. “appliance operators”
    – Ragchewers vs. “59, TNX”
    – QRP vs. QRO
    – DXers vs. just about everybody else

    But I think there is a term–usually associated with religion but not necessarily so when used in its non-capitalized form–that describes what I think our hobby is. That term is “catholic.”

    It is defined as, “broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded.” I get so tired of the “if you don’t like what I like then what you like is garbage” mindset. The hobby–and the technical and non-technical aspects of it–is so broad that everyone should find room for what he or she wants to do with it.

    There is nothing wrong with being evangelical about our hobby. Just recognize that the interests of others may or may not precisely match yours!

    73 and thanks for the post,

    Don Keith N4KC

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    Paul kind of beat me with the CW… My variation goes back to my Novice days of the 1960’s and the Religious fanatics have grown loader as they aged… “If you don’t do CW you are not a real ham operator” Kind of makes everyone who is not a CW operator at 30-40 wpm nothing more then…dare I say it… I will … A Pagan CB’er” You can’t get much worst then that in the ham world.

  • Neil, w0yse, wg2xsv:

    Hilarious comments and a great article. I have to say that you had me sucked in with the word “religion” in the title. I just HAD to read it !! Hi


  • peter kg5wy:

    My religion is Christian. 🙂

  • N5PHT:

    Interesting! I operate mostly CW and have not encountered any debates to speak of. I think Phone allows more of that sort of thing! Remember that ham radio is a huge tent with lots and lots of tables to view and try.

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