OpinionWhen ordinary people get their (scientific) information from varying sources, they come to wildly different conclusions regarding what they believe to be true or in doubt - the so atheist ideal of thinking for yourself doesn't lead to consensus.
      – Lee J Haywood, 2009-03-07 at 12:08:10   (11 comments)

On 2009-03-07 at 12:13:50, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Yesterday I was discussing belief in climate change with someone who gets their 'facts' from newspapers. I get mine from New Scientist. Both have their own biases - the former presents 'both sides' and the latter presents an overwhelming body of hugely convincing evidence. I then tried to contrast the fact of evolution (meaning the process) with the theory of evolution (meaning the explanation for the observed processes) and failed to get my point across because 'evolution is unproven'. As I've read previously, a person's current beliefs stem from their initial beliefs - it's almost impossible to change their minds because we all filter based on our preconceptions. Worse, it's almost impossible to convince someone based on the evidence you know you have because there's never sufficient time or interest to get all your points across.
On 2009-03-07 at 18:43:07, Thelevellers wrote...
I see your point, it's quite fun to read various sources takes on the same story, as it often varies wildly (from tabloid to broadsheet to subject specific magazine etc). I find it shocking often just how badly twisted a story can get, while still supplying all the facts... It's also applicable to social issues: I have a similar problem with the guy I'm staying with at the moment, he is generally very smart and we agree on most stuff. However, he has decided that the whole Israel-Palestine issue is entirely the Palestinians fault, and they deserve everything they get. I try and avoid the subject entirely as he is very block headed about it...
On 2009-03-07 at 19:02:40, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Right, that was my point - we're actually all 'block headed' about everything, yet we don't want to admit it. As far as we're concerned, we're the ones with all the facts (even though, in truth, no-one really knows enough to be sure of anything) and it's hugely difficult to explain exactly why you know something to be true.
On 2009-03-08 at 01:40:51, BorgClown wrote...
Do you think it all stems from our instinct to follow authority? If we could suppress that instinct since birth, I think we would have some awesomely cool kids. Maybe a little creeping too.
On 2009-03-08 at 10:23:39, Lee J Haywood wrote...
No, the problem is that there's no objective way to decide when evidence is 'good enough' to modify an initial belief. I don't think the fault is a human one, it's because you form an initial belief more or less randomly - based on the information you're exposed to - and are then forced to accept information that bolsters your belief whilst rejecting that which seems in conflict with it. So the question is, is it likely that your core beliefs might be fixed when they shouldn't be or is it that you just have more knowledge than everyone else who disagrees with you?
On 2009-03-08 at 10:34:18, BorgClown wrote...
I really don't know, but I agree with you that there's more than authority following. It appears that people hold dear to their beliefs because the give them security. Watching one of your beliefs crumble and being forced to rebuild it is not nice.
On 2009-03-08 at 12:32:14, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I think there's a tendency to think that it's mostly religious people that cling to beliefs that lack evidence, since that's an extreme example. But I often think that people like me must either share my beliefs or would be easily be persuaded by me - it's a shock to discover that this isn't the case, and you'd literally have to spend all day with someone for weeks to begin to change their minds.
On 2009-03-08 at 22:24:51, BorgClown wrote...
Viewed as that, religion is a form of organized clinging.
On 2009-03-09 at 22:46:36, Thelevellers wrote...
That is a glorious statement right there Borg...
On 2009-03-10 at 03:07:25, BorgClown wrote...
Probably too obscure without the context. Maybe if I said "wishful clinging" it would be clearer, although it reads a lot like "faith". Oh no, I'm over-thinking it!
On 2009-03-10 at 11:20:10, Lee J Haywood wrote...
A god/Jesus provide unconditional love, and we all want to be loved. Some people like to cling to the love of their imaginary friends.