QuestionMost beliefs are rooted in preconceptions, yet some beliefs can be overturned by new evidence. Where is the boundary between beliefs that resist all evidence (by selective filtering) and those which are more easily overturned?
      – Lee J Haywood, 2009-12-03 at 19:21:39   (6 comments)

On 2009-12-03 at 22:26:45, Lee J Haywood wrote...
This seems like a really tough question. Is anyone every really aware of where the divisions are in their beliefs?
On 2009-12-04 at 21:17:53, BorgClown wrote...
Based on personal experience, the most rooted beliefs are the ones you acquire before your analytical capacities are developed, that is, on your early years. Whatever knowledge you come by at that age, be it false or true, becomes almost chiseled on your mind.
On 2009-12-05 at 14:34:28, Thelevellers wrote...
Off the top of my head I can't think of anything that wouldn't be overturned by new evidence in my mind. I'm sure there is something, but with the right evidence all the things I can think of could change. I guess I'm lucky in not having been indoctrinated into anythingat all really, I've been left to make up my own mind about most stuff. There have been influences of course, such as being brought up with Radio 4 in the background, but that's not the same! The only things that wouldn't change for me would be my morals (cheating is bad, killing is bad, helping people is good).
On 2009-12-05 at 16:32:03, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@Thelevellers: That doesn't explain the fact that your beliefs are at odds with those of others, assuming that they also claim that they'd accept evidence. The problem is that what one person considers evidence in support of their existing belief, another will consider flawed and irrelevant - i.e. we all filter information based on our preconceptions. It's actually a fundamental problem with Bayesian reasoning, that even if you allow new evidence to continually update a belief about something, you have to start with some level of initial belief - and that initial belief is almost impossible to overturn. The other problem, of course, is having a belief about something which is known to be uncertain. You can admit that you might be wrong, but you're unlikely to actually allow you belief to flip to the opposing view.
On 2009-12-05 at 17:23:36, Thelevellers wrote...
I see your point(s), though I'm only half convinced... hmm, maybe that should be all convinced, as I am partially ignoring your new evidence? The more I think about it now the more i agree with you though, which is odd, as earlier I couldn't think of any examples, now I can only think of them! Maybe it's the newspaper reading I've done in-between? I dunno.
On 2009-12-05 at 17:30:49, Lee J Haywood wrote...
It's actually easier to give you examples of things that would easily be overturned rather than things that are set in stone, perhaps because I don't exactly know what your beliefs are and because those I can guess are just too obvious. As an obvious one, either you believe in god(s) or you don't. To an atheist it's a bit bizarre that people do believe in gods given the total lack of evidence, but of course they see the universe itself as evidence thanks to their twisted upbringing. For scientific issues, either you have a strong acceptance or science or a deep distrust of it - so perhaps the evidence itself only partly affects your beliefs because you'll either accept what expert scientists tell you (pretty rational!) or you instead accept conspiracy theories because you don't trust the scientists themselves.