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All Evidence To The Contrary


Guest Davka
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This is an excellent article. Here's a snippet:

 

How is it that people can cling to an opinion or view of a person, event, issue of the world, despite being presented with clear or mounting data that contradicts that position? The easy answer, of course, is simply that people are irrational. But a closer look at some of the particular ways and reasons we're irrational offers some interesting food for thought.

 

In a recently published study, a group of researchers from Northwestern University, UNC Chapel HIll, SUNY Buffalo and Millsaps College found that people often employ an approach the researchers called "motivated reasoning" when sorting through new information or arguments, especially on controversial issues. Motivated reasoning is, as UCLA public policy professor Mark Kleiman put it, the equivalent of policy-driven data, instead of data-driven policy.

 

In other words, if people start with a particular opinion or view on a subject, any counter-evidence can create "cognitive dissonance"--discomfort caused by the presence of two irreconcilable ideas in the mind at once. One way of resolving the dissonance would be to change or alter the originally held opinion. But the researchers found that many people instead choose to change the conflicting evidence--selectively seeking out information or arguments that support their position while arguing around or ignoring any opposing evidence, even if that means using questionable or contorted logic.

 

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"Policy-driven data instead of data-driven policy," brilliant!

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This is an excellent article. Here's a snippet:

....

"In other words, if people start with a particular opinion or view on a subject, any counter-evidence can create "cognitive dissonance"--discomfort caused by the presence of two irreconcilable ideas in the mind at once. One way of resolving the dissonance would be to change or alter the originally held opinion. But the researchers found that many people instead choose to change the conflicting evidence--selectively seeking out information or arguments that support their position while arguing around or ignoring any opposing evidence, even if that means using questionable or contorted logic."

 

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Wow, that nails it. I've wondered how someone could continue arguing for a flat earth; now I understand Christianity even better.

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I'm glad they are studying this to give it more credibility but it's fairly obvious. I recognized this in myself when I was an xian. I determined that I wanted to find the truth about the matter even if it was painful. Hence I determined to study with an open mind even those areas that discounted my beliefs.

 

I think most of us here can relate in one way or another.

 

This leaves me with the opinion that there are only a few possibilities why people choose this self-deceptive route.

 

-they aren't intelligent enough to recognize it

-they are intelligent enough but they are too emotionally immature to deal with reality

 

But religion is the easy one. Where we all have to pay careful attention is related to our political views 'cause it works the same way there. I know I personally have to make a concerted effort to challenge my political views and even then I'm probably still holding onto many irrational positions.

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But religion is the easy one. Where we all have to pay careful attention is related to our political views 'cause it works the same way there. I know I personally have to make a concerted effort to challenge my political views and even then I'm probably still holding onto many irrational positions.

 

For me, my political views shifted hard to the right when I became a Christian, because it was part of the American Evangelical package. As I began to question Christianity, I also began to question conservatism.

 

I think another danger is that no matter where we have landed in our beliefs, we tend to get "stuck" there. I liked the line about only caring whether we are right, not whether we have been right. I have noticed on forums that it is incredibly rare for someone to say "I was wrong, thanks for showing me that" when presented with information that contradicts a previous post. Maybe it will help to remember that whatever I posted 5 minutes ago is about having been right, not about being right.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have noticed on forums that it is incredibly rare for someone to say "I was wrong, thanks for showing me that" when presented with information that contradicts a previous post.

 

I did that once. And the guy gloated about his victory and rubbed it in my face. What an asshole! Made me reluctant to do that again.

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I have noticed on forums that it is incredibly rare for someone to say "I was wrong, thanks for showing me that" when presented with information that contradicts a previous post.

 

I did that once. And the guy gloated about his victory and rubbed it in my face. What an asshole! Made me reluctant to do that again.

 

If that happened on Ex-C, it would not have gone unnoticed. I have been on here long enough to know that our mods do not take kindly to that type of behavior.

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