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  1. Standard member moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Mar '16 09:01
    Below is a link to an article about some of the psychological mechanisms involved when people continue to believe things against which there is massively coherent counter-evidence:

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160323-why-are-people-so-incredibly-gullible

    The article concerns itself with so-called urban legends (conspiracy theories, etc.), but applies equally well to those who continue to believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old or that evolution didn't really happen or a that human was once born without a male sperm fertilizing an ovum.

    The article confirms what a number of us here at RHP have discovered for ourselves, namely that confronting these people with facts does not change their minds.

    "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." -- Paul Simon.

    I don't contribute to the SF much anymore; it just seems so futile. So I thought I would mention this gem to the science forum instead.
  2. 24 Mar '16 11:23 / 7 edits
    Originally posted by moonbus
    Below is a link to an article about some of the psychological mechanisms involved when people continue to believe things against which there is massively coherent counter-evidence:

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160323-why-are-people-so-incredibly-gullible

    The article concerns itself with so-called urban legends (conspiracy theories, etc.), but appl ...[text shortened]... re; it just seems so futile. So I thought I would mention this gem to the science forum instead.
    I find that link interesting and the flesh-eating bananas myth amusing. Note the link does give some subtle advise on how to persuade irrational minds that their irrational belief is wrong. But it is just so sad that you cannot do this simply by presenting them with the hard evidence, which has the exact opposite effect on them, but have to resort to using psychological trickery to use their own illogical way of thinking against their own beliefs, making me pretty unsure if that is really worth doing. Must we use such ridiculous devious psychological trickery to persuade irrational minds that their irrational beliefs are wrong? -that does to me rather smack of totally giving up on trying to teach them how to think rationally so they don't keep continually forever generating such stupid beliefs in the first place, which I think is the only acceptable long-term solution.
  3. Standard member moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Mar '16 11:44
    Originally posted by humy
    I find that link interesting and the flesh-eating bananas myth amusing. Note the link does give some subtle advise on how to persuade irrational minds that their irrational belief is wrong. But it is just so sad that you cannot do this simply by presenting them with the hard evidence, which has the exact opposite effect on them, but have to resort to using psyc ...[text shortened]... such stupid beliefs in the first place, which I think is the only acceptable long-term solution.
    Spock would not deign to stoop so low. What's a mere human to do? Sigh.
  4. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    24 Mar '16 13:42
    Originally posted by humy
    I find that link interesting and the flesh-eating bananas myth amusing. Note the link does give some subtle advise on how to persuade irrational minds that their irrational belief is wrong. But it is just so sad that you cannot do this simply by presenting them with the hard evidence, which has the exact opposite effect on them, but have to resort to using psyc ...[text shortened]... such stupid beliefs in the first place, which I think is the only acceptable long-term solution.
    It would be good to find the fundamental issue behind ridiculous belief's. Maybe something a parent said that puts in some kind of bias on a child in the development of the brain.

    If that is the case we are fighting an uphill battle if it is an actual brain connection issue.

    Like they say about addictions, you have to want to quit to be able to start on the path to quitting drugs, maybe this is the same.
  5. 24 Mar '16 14:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    It would be good to find the fundamental issue behind ridiculous belief's. Maybe something a parent said that puts in some kind of bias on a child in the development of the brain.

    If that is the case we are fighting an uphill battle if it is an actual brain connection issue.

    Like they say about addictions, you have to want to quit to be able to start on the path to quitting drugs, maybe this is the same.
    I think Dawkins once put forward the suggestion that this persistent gullibility could have an evolutionary basis. I think the idea was that, when you are young, you are generally more likely to survive to maturity if you blindly accept your parent's views on most things in an unquestioning fashion.

    This doesn't explain where the ridiculous beliefs come from, but it could explain why they are so persistent.
  6. 24 Mar '16 15:08 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    I think Dawkins once put forward the suggestion that this persistent gullibility could have an evolutionary basis. I think the idea was that, when you are young, you are generally more likely to survive to maturity if you blindly accept your parent's views on most things in an unquestioning fashion.

    This doesn't explain where the ridiculous beliefs come from, but it could explain why they are so persistent.
    This something else, Dawkins offers, appears to be the concept that children are taught to listen to and trust what their parents tell them. If Mommy or Daddy says something is true, the child believes it.

    The trust and obedience that children tend to naturally have is vital to their survival: it gives the child a chance to think "maybe Daddy is right" before sticking a fork in a light socket or running across a street to chase a wayward ball. But the downside is that with trust comes gullibility—if Daddy tells his young, impressionable child to listen to a man in a robe, and the man in the robe says "playing with yourself is bad, and if you do you'll burn in sulfur and ash", the child is likely to believe it, even if the child doesn't completely understand it.

    These children grow up, procreate, and, having learned from their own parents, continue similar ideas. As discussed earlier, children tend to follow in their parents' footsteps, maintaining similar levels of piety, intelligence, charity, wealth, etc. Or, as computer nerds like to say, "Garbage in, garbage out."
  7. 24 Mar '16 16:00
    Originally posted by moonbus
    I don't contribute to the SF much anymore; it just seems so futile. So I thought I would mention this gem to the science forum instead.
    I believe several people have become atheist through discussions on this site.
    I also know of someone in my personal life who became and atheist in part, he said, through discussions online.
    So it may not be as futile as all that.
    There are certain posters who will almost certainly will never change.
  8. 24 Mar '16 16:02
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    It would be good to find the fundamental issue behind ridiculous belief's. Maybe something a parent said that puts in some kind of bias on a child in the development of the brain.

    If that is the case we are fighting an uphill battle if it is an actual brain connection issue.
    A good education largely cures religion.
  9. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    24 Mar '16 16:54 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    I find that link interesting and the flesh-eating bananas myth amusing. Note the link does give some subtle advise on how to persuade irrational minds that their irrational belief is wrong. But it is just so sad that you cannot do this simply by presenting them with the hard evidence, which has the exact opposite effect on them, but have to resort to using psyc ...[text shortened]... such stupid beliefs in the first place, which I think is the only acceptable long-term solution.
    You have to bear in mind humans aren't machines for computing logic, so simply stating a collection of facts and deductions won't help, a psychologically sound approach shouldn't be dismissed as trickery. What I got from the article is that it is about narratives - if one just says the story is wrong then all that one focuses on is the story, by providing an alternative narrative the myth is undermined. Essentially one has to present the argument in such a way that they work it out for themselves.
  10. 24 Mar '16 22:08 / 5 edits
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    You have to bear in mind humans aren't machines for computing logic, so simply stating a collection of facts and deductions won't help, .
    But I am pretty sure it seems to help me. I have many times been convinced (correctly ) I was wrong about something on this forum after being presented with some facts and deductions I didn't know or hadn't considered before and I was convinced just by them being merely presented to me i.e. without any special physiological approach. Some of the truths I was convinced by were to me uncomfortable truths as well. Surely I am not the exception to the rule? I bet merely stating a collection of facts and deductions (if valid ) would be enough to convince you as well.
  11. Standard member moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Mar '16 22:31
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    You have to bear in mind humans aren't machines for computing logic, so simply stating a collection of facts and deductions won't help, a psychologically sound approach shouldn't be dismissed as trickery. What I got from the article is that it is about narratives - if one just says the story is wrong then all that one focuses on is the story, by providi ...[text shortened]... Essentially one has to present the argument in such a way that they work it out for themselves.
    There is a lot to be said for leading a person who is mired in falsehood to work something out for himself, rather than simply telling him he's wrong. That is the Socratic method, and also the basic tool of psychiatry. Just telling someone he's wrong breeds resistance and hostility. Laying out the facts doesn't always work, however. Both Creationists and non-creationists are looking at the same fossils, but interpreting the evidence according to different 'narrative frameworks'. One has to change someone's whole narrative framework to get him to see some facts differently, and that is awfully hard work.
  12. Standard member moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Mar '16 22:34
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    I think Dawkins once put forward the suggestion that this persistent gullibility could have an evolutionary basis. I think the idea was that, when you are young, you are generally more likely to survive to maturity if you blindly accept your parent's views on most things in an unquestioning fashion.

    This doesn't explain where the ridiculous beliefs come from, but it could explain why they are so persistent.
    There would seem to be an obvious evolutionary advantage in children following their parents, both literally and figuratively (at least until they become self-sufficient). I don't see any obvious evolutionary advantage in believing and propagating absurd ideologies and outright falsehoods. We haven't been around very long, compared to, for example, crocodiles and sponges. As Nietzsche remarked, consciousness may be an evolutionary experiment which ultimately fails.
  13. Standard member moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Mar '16 22:44
    Originally posted by humy
    But I am pretty sure it seems to help me. I have many times been convinced (correctly ) I was wrong about something on this forum after being presented with some facts and deductions I didn't know or hadn't considered before and I was convinced just by them being merely presented to me i.e. without any special physiological approach. Some of the truths I was co ...[text shortened]... tating a collection of facts and deductions (if valid ) would be enough to convince you as well.
    It makes a world of difference whether those uncomfortable truths undermine pillars of a massive ideology, or are merely incidental details. For example, if you get the age of the universe wrong by a few percent, plus or minus, it's not likely to shake your worldview. But if you get the age of the universe wrong by several orders of magnitude and it conflicts with your ardent faith/hope/desire for eternal salvation and there is a whacking great Church which is prepared to burn you at the stake for believing the wrong age, that's another kettle of fish.
  14. Standard member moonbus
    Uber-Nerd
    24 Mar '16 22:53
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    A good education largely cures religion.
    And don't they know it ! "Boko Haram" means literally "education is forbidden".
  15. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    Do ya think?
    24 Mar '16 23:05
    Originally posted by moonbus
    Below is a link to an article about some of the psychological mechanisms involved when people continue to believe things against which there is massively coherent counter-evidence:
    I don't believe you