Tag: belief

In Defense of Disbelief

“Vierge Marie”by leo.jeje is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How appropriate that right after Laird’s post, On Spiritual Matters, I should come across this Scientific American article discussing belief and disbelief. The author explains how he was initially indoctrinated to believe in a particular theology, found it wanting, explored other avenues and eventually concluded that, rather than finding something he could believe in, he should accept that disbelief is just as valid. Interestingly, at least for me, he included science in the avenues he explored in his search for the answers to his existential questions.

So where does this leave me, in terms of my search for answers? I’ve given up hope that science can give us a single, objectively true solution to the mind-body problem, one true for everyone. Disbelief, I’ve decided, is the only rational stance to take toward alleged solutions, whether religious or scientific.

He understands how this can be unsettling for some people.

Those who yearn for certainty about who we really are might find disbelief unsatisfying, even frightening. You have no ground on which to stand, no assurance that God or science will take care of us, that everything is going to be okay.

But it’s right for him and he thinks it could be right for others as well. It’s a good article. I recommend reading it if these questions have ever occurred to you.

via In Defense of Disbelief: An Anti-Creed – Scientific American Blog Network

rjb

Profoundly Shallow Cosmic Debris

There are a few telling things people who see profundity in nonsense tend to have in common.

Source: Why people think total nonsense is really deep – The Washington Post

I have wondered how people could continue to believe unlikely things, even after they’ve been clearly demonstrated to be false. There must be something about the believer’s mind that makes it, first, susceptible to deception and, second, prone to self-deception. This study, as unflinchingly cruel as it appears, seems to offer at least the beginning of an answer.

Words can be inspiring, even when they’re arranged into vague, fancy-sounding sequences that seem deep but say nothing.

You can try this out for yourself at the New Age Bullshit Generator. Simply click the “Reionize Electrons” button and you will be given a page of computer-generated, but inspiring, bullshit. I tried it and got this headline: “You and I are entities of the multiverse.” The sub-head said: “Potentiality requires exploration. Inspiration is the driver of being.” Then comes the instruction and enlightenment: “Although you may not realize it, you are karmic. Child, look within and awaken yourself. It can be difficult to know where to begin.”

There appear to be a few traits that the credulous have in common.

Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions [beliefs in things for which there is no empirical evidence (i.e. that prayers have the ability to heal)] and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.

Ouch. Sorry.

Go read the Washington Post article. Try out the Bullshit Generator. And don’t be too hard on those believers. We probably all have something that we’re a little too ready to believe.

rjb

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