Re: Drooling Creationists?

Anders Sandberg (
07 Jul 1998 11:43:35 +0200 writes:

> In a message dated 98-07-06 14:06:14 EDT, you write:
> << He was a creationist, but the committee decided that his religous
> beliefs didn't effect his work, which was excellent. >>
> Through what method? Tea leaves? Chicken entrails? Sorry, I shouldn't be
> sarcastic, but the idea that someone can "partition" their beliefs in such a
> manner seems specious. Ones beliefs affect anything one does, wether or not
> one is consciously aware of this.

Yes. But this still doesn't prevent people for having utterly contradictory beliefs and insisting that they make complete sense.

People suffering from anosognosia have paralysis on the left side of the body, but doesn't know they are sick; when presented with evidence that they are paralysed they instead think that there is somebody else who is sick or that they were paralysed in the past but not now. OK, anosognosia is a biological error (I don't believe fundamentalistm is, despite the attraction of the idea ;-) but shows that it is possible to be otherwise entirely rational and have utterly contradictory thoughts.

A fundamentalist geologist can simply decide that all the talk about geological age, fossils and plate tektonics is a convenient shorthand for various geological phenomena that *really* are due to the deluge, but since they form a consistent system and enable him to deal with his colleauges he can "play along" when it comes to practical matters.

It is all a questions of cognitive schemas and how we assimilate information into them, and more rarely accomodate the schemas to fit new information. Since the later is hard and requires effort, we tend to assimilate information that fits, force stuff that doesn't fit into the schemas anyway, or even ignore contradictory information. The partitioning just means one avoid accomodation by having very broad schemas where contradictions doesn't matter. Awful? At least to people like me who want to think rationally, but it is really used by people.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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