Belief and Reason (was Guns...)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 27 May 1999 19:36:09 -0700 (PDT)

> The interesting thing for me is how, for some people, issues like
> this become religious, by which I mean a person will take a conclusion
> (however arrived at) and keep it safe from any evidence or reasoning
> that would tend to discredit it.

It is an interesting cognitive malfunction, present in many, including creationists, legislators, and poker players. Humans tend to believe what they would like to believe, regardless of the evidence. Some can even know what the rational conclusion is and /still/ cling to what they want to believe. There are many trained doctors who tout worthless herbs or homepathic crap despite years of education in how to properly evaluate a drug. Many a poker player can tell you that ey is precisely an 11-to-1 underdog to fill that straight, but ey will call the bet anyway because of a hunch ("I can feel it coming"). I paid my rent by exploiting them, and they kept coming back to the table despite the mounds of cash they spent chasing those hunches.

Dawkins makes an interesting argument that credulity is an advantage for children, and to some extent it may have been for adults as well during most of our evolutionary history. I haven't found a cure yet, but I have seem people make the transition so I know it can be done. I wonder how you would go about measuring it?

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
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