“Motivated ignorance” is ruining our political discourse

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NorthReport
“Motivated ignorance” is ruining our political discourse

“Motivated ignorance” is ruining our political discourse

Talking with a political opponent is almost as unpleasant as getting a tooth pulled.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/15/15585176/motivated-igno...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

The problem with "motivated ignorance" is that it doesn't specify who's the ignorant one.

And I'm glad it doesn't.  But we don't need to know that there are ignorant people out there -- we know this -- we need to know that we're not them.

If some news site could just reassure us that it's everyone else who's wrong, I predict many very enthusiastic followers for them.  We must stand shoulder to shoulder with those who show solidarity with us.

Pondering

It seemed pretty facile to me. He discovered something everyone already knows because he tested topics that aren't just partisan but are major battles that often hinge on ideology or belief not pure fact.

For example take Martin and the oil topics. He clearly places a lot of significance on the economics of oil pipelines and has greater deference to authority.

Most of us place far greater significance on climate change and have done a lot of reading on renewables. The argument "everybody else is doing it" doesn't wash. The environmental movement has had to chip away at the industry for decades. We know "everybody else is doing it".  We are still not going to throw more gas on the fire.

Martin believes that if a pipeline isn't built it will wound Alberta and Canada's economy. We believe that long term it will benefit Canada's economy because we won't be stuck with the clean up costs and renewables are the future so we need to give up the horse and buggy.

On both sides the argument depends on projections and which experts you believe.

Gun laws, marriage laws, racism, these are all topics that people are not going to change their minds on and discussion can get angry.I was dating a man and discovered he had racist views. There was nothing to discuss.

But, the Conservative mayor (in Manitoba I think) was convinced to try minimum income and wholehardedly supported it based on the results.

Many arguments on the left can be won based purely on economics. I'm not against 3Ps because that is the leftist viewpoint. I'm against them because they cost more money and are less effective.

The best argument for "free" transit is economic. We should stop calling it that. It's not free it's collective like medicare.

We aren't against trade deals we support them. We just want them to be transparent and democratic. Openly debated in parliament. We don't want additional flowery language we want worker rights.

Many people on the right don't want corporations to have the right to sue governments either.

So yeah, sure, on some hot topics we won't be listening much but that doesn't mean we can't collaborate on common causes.

As to who is right just because both sides think they are doesn't mean they are equal. Those of us who understand human rights know that they must apply equally to everyone.  Those of us who understand that Bill 51 went way to far are right. Some things are debatable, others are a matter of degree of enlightenment.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

The problem with "motivated ignorance" is that it doesn't specify who's the ignorant one.

And I'm glad it doesn't.  But we don't need to know that there are ignorant people out there -- we know this -- we need to know that we're not them.

If some news site could just reassure us that it's everyone else who's wrong, I predict many very enthusiastic followers for them.  We must stand shoulder to shoulder with those who show solidarity with us.

But of course this is exactly what is happening -- for both sides. Each has their confirming news source.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

It seemed pretty facile to me. He discovered something everyone already knows because he tested topics that aren't just partisan but are major battles that often hinge on ideology or belief not pure fact.

For example take Martin and the oil topics. He clearly places a lot of significance on the economics of oil pipelines and has greater deference to authority.

Most of us place far greater significance on climate change and have done a lot of reading on renewables. The argument "everybody else is doing it" doesn't wash. The environmental movement has had to chip away at the industry for decades. We know "everybody else is doing it".  We are still not going to throw more gas on the fire.

Martin believes that if a pipeline isn't built it will wound Alberta and Canada's economy. We believe that long term it will benefit Canada's economy because we won't be stuck with the clean up costs and renewables are the future so we need to give up the horse and buggy.

On both sides the argument depends on projections and which experts you believe.

Gun laws, marriage laws, racism, these are all topics that people are not going to change their minds on and discussion can get angry.I was dating a man and discovered he had racist views. There was nothing to discuss.

But, the Conservative mayor (in Manitoba I think) was convinced to try minimum income and wholehardedly supported it based on the results.

Many arguments on the left can be won based purely on economics. I'm not against 3Ps because that is the leftist viewpoint. I'm against them because they cost more money and are less effective.

The best argument for "free" transit is economic. We should stop calling it that. It's not free it's collective like medicare.

We aren't against trade deals we support them. We just want them to be transparent and democratic. Openly debated in parliament. We don't want additional flowery language we want worker rights.

Many people on the right don't want corporations to have the right to sue governments either.

So yeah, sure, on some hot topics we won't be listening much but that doesn't mean we can't collaborate on common causes.

As to who is right just because both sides think they are doesn't mean they are equal. Those of us who understand human rights know that they must apply equally to everyone.  Those of us who understand that Bill 51 went way to far are right. Some things are debatable, others are a matter of degree of enlightenment.

While you make some very good points here, I think the article does as well. Some of them include the fact that people are often not well informed about the things they oppose. The act of opposing something is a recognition of importance and opposition should not limit knowledge, but the article suggests it does. Sometimes that opposition comes with a high level of confidence that our opinions shall never change. Such as on the issue of racism. Like you, I do not need to hear more arguments from racists -- they are not worth the unpleasantness nor are theya valuable use of time, given that my world view will not be modified. This is not a bad thing we have only so many minutes in our lives and we have to think about how we spend them. Our responsibility when it comes to being right is ourselves (how we demonstrate that conclusion may be another matter).

However, there are also things that we feel strongly about that may have new information that could change our opinions.

The article suggests that people are seeking to confirm opinion rather than take in new information that could result in an evolution of opinion. That is a more serious issue. I think part of the antidote may be in personal pride in being open to changing your mind and a strong realization that opinions are not you but things you create and changing them is not a loss of self.

The second thing the article addresses is the fact that if you make your position more pleasant for others to experience, more may be open to it. Our anger at opposing opinions, while natural and the most common response on foundational issues, is actually in the way of winning others over.

This is an important point. We are in ideological battles but the sides are not equal. The side favoured by capital often learns the best ways to convince people. Railing at them in the wrong way does not serve your cause. The very fact that there is a bias against unpleasant information is important.

Now of course the article does not define what is unpleasant. That is like taste. Some people like to experience bitter for example. It is not just a question of what you find bitter but if you like the experience of it. Some people like engaging in knowledge about the things they dislike, find horrific, or disagree with. Others avoid such things. Those who have the taste to experience and learn about what they disagree with also have the advantage of greater knowledge by which they can modify their opinions.

In my experience when it comes to politics, those on the left seem to have more interest in learning about the right than visa versa. Perhaps this is due to the power the right has. On this point I think (without objective proof) that opinions on the left tend to be more informed.

Then there is the role of religion, which seems to go more to the right than the left. To me religion is about accepting a quantity of beliefs without questioning each one. It is efficient in the sense that if you take the package, you do not have to consider each individual belief. When it comes to morality, the hard questions are often avoided -- the religion answers. I prefer that an individual is their highest moral account -- that they consider each question and evaluate each fact. But this is why I am not religious -- I do not want package deals for information, values , conclusions or beliefs. Religion seeks a committment not to accept anything contrary to the package. So another form of resistence.

The article's advice is to make your contribution in providing an alternate opinion to another person as pleasant an experience as you can for them and you may more likely succeed. It is difficult advice for most of us on the things we care about but worth consdieration.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
But of course this is exactly what is happening -- for both sides. Each has their confirming news source.

Well, I'm not exactly disagreeing, other than to suggest that (in theory, at least) there's only one "news" -- the factual account of what happened today in the world.  The rest, and the part that people want to glom onto is analysis of the news.

For example, today it appears that ISIS fighters bombed a Sufi mosque in Egypt, and also fired on worshippers from armed vehicles.  Unless we believe this to be a fabrication then it's news.

Whether the ISIS fighters had reason to do this, whether the U.S. tacitly supports this, whether this was or wasn't an act of "terrorism", whether this means that countries must commit troops to fighting ISIS, whether this was a false flag operation, whether it's about religion or self-government and whether Sufi Muslims brought this on themselves somehow is all analysis.  I think it's the analysis, mistaken for "news" that divides people into camps.

Rabble/babble wants to be a news site, but it does seem to me that rabble is more of a news analysis site ("here's what some blogger thinks of this recent event"), and the majority of the links on babble are also news analysis ("here's what some blogger thinks of this recent event").

It would be fascinating (and totally unenforceable, and totally impractical, but fun to imagine) if you could only link to someone else's opinion or analysis if it actually changed your mind.  Can you imagine?  Someone saying "I've always been against the seal hunt, but this blogger put it in a way that made me rethink that"?  Versus the usual "here's someone I found on the intertubes who agrees with me"?

 

6079_Smith_W

But it doesn't always just come down to the facts, Some would certainly take that Egyptian story as evidence about the dogmatic and violent nature of religion, even though the victims were a pacifist and esoteric Muslim sect.

Just as often it is one or more of the parties cherry picking facts and talking across one another, or different concerns, or simply an unwilllingness to listen to other perspectives.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
But it doesn't always just come down to the facts, Some would certainly take that Egyptian story as evidence about the dogmatic and violent nature of religion, even though the victims were a pacifist and esoteric Muslim sect.

Absolutely.  You may think this, or I may think this.  But if either of us thinks this, then posts a link to some blogger who also thinks this and calls it "news", that's what I'm talking about.  We should all have opinions -- hopefully plastic and susceptible to change, or else why? -- but I guess I'm thinking that people who tune in to Fox News don't do so because Fox's factual account is more factual.  They tune in because Fox's analysis supports their beliefs.  Same with the other side of the political spectrum.

Cody87

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

statement #1:

In my experience when it comes to politics, those on the left seem to have more interest in learning about the right than visa versa. Perhaps this is due to the power the right has. On this point I think (without objective proof) that opinions on the left tend to be more informed.

statement #2:

Then there is the role of religion, which seems to go more to the right than the left. To me religion is about accepting a quantity of beliefs without questioning each one. It is efficient in the sense that if you take the package, you do not have to consider each individual belief. When it comes to morality, the hard questions are often avoided -- the religion answers. I prefer that an individual is their highest moral account -- that they consider each question and evaluate each fact. But this is why I am not religious -- I do not want package deals for information, values , conclusions or beliefs. Religion seeks a committment not to accept anything contrary to the package. So another form of resistence.

So the atheists on the right have this fun little argument now that essentially goes like this:

"When you strip a group of people of their religion, the presumption was that instead of having a bunch of irrational religious people (say religious Christians, but it applies to any religion), you would have a bunch of rational atheists. But instead, what actually happens is you replace a bunch of irrational religious people with irrational quasi-religious atheists, who just replace a time-tested irrational belief system (religion) with a new irrational belief system (insert right-wing perjorative buzzwords here, communism, feminism, etc)."

You probably already knew that, because of statement #1, but just in case someone reading this hasn't heard that argument, there it is.

The funny thing is you followed that immediately up with statement #2. I actually agree 100% with absolutely everything in statement number #2 except the "more than right than left" part, and even that I agree with in the strictest literal definition in which you mean it. But, with the context of the argument I paraphrased above, I think it would be quite easy to take certain left wing positions and map them precisely on to your statement #2.

Take climate science. The typical climate change argument consists of the following beliefs:

#1 -the climate is changing

#2 -mankind is predominantly responsible for the change

#3 -the changes that are currently happening will result in specific, predictable catastrophic outcomes, such as rising sea levels or compounding runaway global temperature increases

#4 -mankind can act now before it's "too late", but won't have that opportunity later

#5 -the cost of acting now is less than the cost of acting later

Now the thing is, those beliefs are a package deal. If someone believes #1 and #2, but not #3, #4, and #5, then they are a "climate denier." If someone believes #1, #3, #4, and #5, then they are a "climate denier." If somone believes #1, #2, and #3, but doesn't believe #4 and #5, they're a "climate denier." And god help them if they believe #1, but not the rest, which is what most right wingers believe at a minimum. Very few deny #1. "Climate science" is essentially a religious belief. If you don't take the whole package, you're a heretic.

Can someone be a feminist if they don't believe in the wage gap? Can someone be an ally to POC if they think "all lives matter" or "it's okay to be white" are legitimate political statements? Can someone be an ally to the LGB community if they disagree with gender reassignment surgery as beneficial for those who are transgender?

I believe many on the left would answer the above questions with "no" in each case. I'm not advocating those positions, but I'm sure you've seen as well as I have cases where broadly left-leaning people have been alienated and ostracised by the left because they disagree on one specific piece of dogma in one specific branch of progressivism. This has been happening to a lot of (self described) trans-exclusionary radical feminists due to contradictions between feminism and the trans orthodoxy. It has also been happening to many in the gay community who voice concerns about a certain major religion that the left supports.

So yeah. I'd love to be able to take a nuanced position on, say, men's rights, an issue near and dear to my heart. But my choices are the right, which take it too far (especially the fking slimeballs at MGTOW), and the left, who views any sympathy towards men or boys as just closet hatred of women. So I disagree that the left is any better than the right about rejecting package deals of beliefs. Just because there's no belief in god, doesn't mean there's no religious belief.

@NorthReport: I really liked the article BTW

Cody87

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
But it doesn't always just come down to the facts, Some would certainly take that Egyptian story as evidence about the dogmatic and violent nature of religion, even though the victims were a pacifist and esoteric Muslim sect.

Absolutely.  You may think this, or I may think this.  But if either of us thinks this, then posts a link to some blogger who also thinks this and calls it "news", that's what I'm talking about.  We should all have opinions -- hopefully plastic and susceptible to change, or else why? -- but I guess I'm thinking that people who tune in to Fox News don't do so because Fox's factual account is more factual.  They tune in because Fox's analysis supports their beliefs.  Same with the other side of the political spectrum.

Bang on. Same events, different interpretations.

6079_Smith_W

Plus many people seem to like their analysis neat and tidy, with clear heroes and villains. That is true from one end of the spectrum to the other.

 

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
  While you make some very good points here, I think the article does as well.

I like what you wrote better. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
I think part of the antidote may be in personal pride in being open to changing your mind and a strong realization that opinions are not you but things you create and changing them is not a loss of self.

I think most people do think of themselves as open minded and do believe they have come to conclusions logically based on the information they have evaluated. Reporters like to stump people on the spot by asking them why they support a particular politician or hold a particular opinion but that has often come from information that is not at hand in the moment and can't be condensed into a neat soundbite. I can't list all the oil spills I've read about nor all the alternative energy options and the various countries using them and every other detail that brought me to my conclusion I just know that I have read enough and listened enough to know I am 100% against Energy East. A reporter could easily make me look stupid and uninformed and reporters did do that to Trump supporters. They were being held up to ridicule. 

I think arguments and analysis are the worst way possible to try to change someone's mind politically once their views are developed. Once my views are developed it usually takes new information to change them or personal development over years.  

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
This is an important point. We are in ideological battles but the sides are not equal. The side favoured by capital often learns the best ways to convince people. Railing at them in the wrong way does not serve your cause. The very fact that there is a bias against unpleasant information is important.

Yes you are right about that. It's one of my pet peeves. Neoliberalism wins because they have learned how to sell their ideas whereas the left focuses on proving they are righteous. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
In my experience when it comes to politics, those on the left seem to have more interest in learning about the right than visa versa. Perhaps this is due to the power the right has. On this point I think (without objective proof) that opinions on the left tend to be more informed.

I believe I have read that as educational levels go up people are more likely to be on the left. There is a lot of emphasis on critical analysis, on checking sources, on deconstructing arguments and distilling the important facts from readings in both college and university as well as an emphasis on working collaboratively with people you have only met as classmates. I suppose my bias is exposed here but I am convinced that neoliberalism is terribly damaging. The more educated a person is the more likely they will be able to sift through the bullshit. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
Then there is the role of religion, which seems to go more to the right than the left. 

So far yes, but that is because the neoliberal right has cultivated them on hot button topics turning "the left" into the godless therefore immoral enemy. It doesn't have to be that way. Religious people do want to do good they've just been convinced that churches are the best way to deliver aid because the government is corrupt and wastes money. They are insufficiently aware of the facts that prove despite those problems government is the best means of correcting damaging income inequality. It is dawning on them that they will never get anything more than lip service from the Conservatives on abortion and gay marriage and sex education will be taught in schools. In my opinion with tnose topics out of the way they are ripe for conversion. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
To me religion is about accepting a quantity of beliefs without questioning each one. It is efficient in the sense that if you take the package, you do not have to consider each individual belief. When it comes to morality, the hard questions are often avoided -- the religion answers. I prefer that an individual is their highest moral account -- that they consider each question and evaluate each fact. But this is why I am not religious -- I do not want package deals for information, values , conclusions or beliefs. Religion seeks a comittment not to accept anything contrary to the package. So another form of resistance.

That is why many people don't want to identify with a particular political party. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
The article's advice is to make your contribution in providing an alternate opinion to another person as pleasant an experience as you can for them and you may more likely succeed. It is difficult advice for most of us on the things we care about but worth consideration.

I think we need a different approach. I think we need to present facts without commentary that lead to obvious conclusions. 

For example, I read the estimate of lost taxes due to offshore havens is equivalent to the annual deficit. I don't need a complex argument to be mad about that. Maybe that is why I am on the left. I have a lifetime of reading about the corruption of government by the wealthy. This "fact" lands on a stack of "facts" I can't remember individually.

The right has used the argument that governments are corrupt therefore taxes should be kept as low as possible. Private enterprise is more efficient therefore privatization is wise. You deserve to keep the money you earn (also applies to CEOs). If you give people money they lose the motivation to work. People should be responsible for themselves. On the face of it those statements make sense. 

In my view countering those statements with counter arguments is unlikely to make a dent. People need to know the facts the left knows without the sales job. 

Sean in Ottawa

@ Cody

the problem with your packaging science views that go together is that these are part of a narrative and related set of facts peer reviewed and part of the package only becuase of scientific conclusion. Any element in that is open to debate and has been. The reason someone would be questionned picking part of the scientific consensus is that this already has been subject to debate and science.

Religion is another matter. The only things keeping those beliefs together are religion. The package is not subject to inquiry but proudly stated as an article of faith. There is no peer review to religion that is accepted.

Sean in Ottawa

@ Pondering -- lots here.

I think the there is a fundamental rather than practical difference  when it comes to church aid vs government aid. That is the belief in a public good, responsibility, and entitlement to certain minimum standards. The left is in favour of this. The right is not and instead prefers the idea of charity and gift. Think about the difference -- a right to something and a public good focus on the thing and the person getting it. The charity is focussed on the good feelings and character of the giver. In the first you should take care of everyone. In the second everyone who gives should give enough to feel good and be of good character -- it does not really matter if they have taken care of the problem. The first is voluntary at the will of the giver. The second is based on an expectation or right from the receiver -- and of the character of society as a whole. The charity is individual and libertarian, the second collective. For these reasons I disagree that a loss of religion would have them turn to government. The right would just turn to secular charity as many do.

I do not think the facts alone are the answer to the issue of questions of privatization -- again becuase the problem is conceptual. Radical individualism, which is an extreme of capitalism, is about denying the existence of collective good. It is not becuase they think government is corrupt that the right turn away from government action. they use that argument when they can but that is not the reason. It is becuase they do not believe this to be the domain of government. They woudl not be happy to see efficiency in government -- that would only make their task of opposing it more difficult. The issue again is the denial of collective good. They support the concepts only of private property and individual freedoms to contract. They do not support the idea that we are in a community and the community can make the kinds of decisions we are speaking about.

At some point this is a concept and it has to be engaged as such.

I agree you can't beat someone over the head with an idea but you should not fail to present it and in the best way possible make a case for it. People use both facts and ideas to persuade and both are legitimate and essential. When it comes to world views like this we are talking more about interpretation than facts so ideas matter as well as raw factual information.

It is also important that you recognize that this is not entirely an "us" and "them" thing. People are all along the spectrum. You may not be able to engage the extreme with an argument for an idea but those along the way can be reached and often are. This is in part what we do here. This place is not one where people are not moved -- it happens gradually but they can be. And people are not starting here from the same points when it comes to ideology. Much of the discussion that allows us to understand the world is interpretive and about ideas rather than events. Much of it is about creating narratives. This is what civilization is about: that is thinking in concepts and symbols so that the learning we make on one set of facts can infomr us on another. This is the foundation of what makes us human -- the ability to create art for the sake of art. It is important becuase it means abstract thinking, symbolic thinking and expression (allows use of language) and most of all it results in the portability of ideas. All of this means that argument as well as facts are very important.

You just lose people if the argument is too far, too strident and too unpleasant. But definitely you have to be able to link things into concepts as well as a list of facts. People learn their interpretation skills from others and apply the interpretations based on others such that we do not have to start from scratch each time we look at something slightly different.

 

I agree with much of what you ahve to say here but on these couple points I see it differently.

While I do not want to get into it much now, I also think that the issue of desire for association with political parties is not quite in the frame you suggest. I also think that a lot of people, a majority actually, of those who have developed an ideology do associate politicaly as a practical matter. Others who do not want to construct such opinions for themselves avoid it and some whose world view does not fit with a party may as well. However, many will find a party close enough to associate with, even if they are not entirely happy with them or the fit is not perfect.

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I think most people do think of themselves as open minded and do believe they have come to conclusions logically based on the information they have evaluated.

But of course they've measured the thing using their own ruler, and assuming that their ruler is the same as everyone else's.  That's the problem.  We wonder how someone could measure the same thing and have different results.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
I think most people do think of themselves as open minded and do believe they have come to conclusions logically based on the information they have evaluated.

But of course they've measured the thing using their own ruler, and assuming that their ruler is the same as everyone else's.  That's the problem.  We wonder how someone could measure the same thing and have different results.

The problem is that these rulers are often not matters of opinion. The equivalency that is so popular today is a problem. It is thought of as reasonable given that the other popular opinion, to scream at the other side is not working. I do not think either are certain to work. But, this is in part a reflection that there may be nothing other than experience of disaster that will change people's minds. It is a pity that the coming disaster is not recoverable. So there we are.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The problem is that these rulers are often not matters of opinion.

I'm not certain what you mean by this?  If you mean that sometimes one side's ruler measures science and proofs and numbers and the other side's ruler doesn't, I sort of get that, and in some contexts it should be clear (even if it isn't).

But let's use the example of "pipelines".  Some people's rulers measure in units of "jobs and prosperity" and some people's rulers measure in units of "environmental damage and local autonomy".  So two people can look at pipelines, feel that they're applying rational and objective measures, and still come out with irreconcileably different answers.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The problem is that these rulers are often not matters of opinion.

I'm not certain what you mean by this?  If you mean that sometimes one side's ruler measures science and proofs and numbers and the other side's ruler doesn't, I sort of get that, and in some contexts it should be clear (even if it isn't).

But let's use the example of "pipelines".  Some people's rulers measure in units of "jobs and prosperity" and some people's rulers measure in units of "environmental damage and local autonomy".  So two people can look at pipelines, feel that they're applying rational and objective measures, and still come out with irreconcileably different answers.

And some rulers are not even close in equivalency -- like what the bible suggests and what science proves.

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The problem is that these rulers are often not matters of opinion.

I'm not certain what you mean by this?  If you mean that sometimes one side's ruler measures science and proofs and numbers and the other side's ruler doesn't, I sort of get that, and in some contexts it should be clear (even if it isn't).

But let's use the example of "pipelines".  Some people's rulers measure in units of "jobs and prosperity" and some people's rulers measure in units of "environmental damage and local autonomy".  So two people can look at pipelines, feel that they're applying rational and objective measures, and still come out with irreconcileably different answers.

And some rulers are not even close in equivalency -- like what the bible suggests and what science proves.

The Bible is one example but does anyone here really think the Bible is winning the argument?  Sure there exists a fringe element that doesn't believe evolution but they are not standing in the way of progress in Canada.

The war we are losing is the economic one. That is the one in which facts can disprove neoliberal philosophy as common wisdom.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The problem is that these rulers are often not matters of opinion.

I'm not certain what you mean by this?  If you mean that sometimes one side's ruler measures science and proofs and numbers and the other side's ruler doesn't, I sort of get that, and in some contexts it should be clear (even if it isn't).

But let's use the example of "pipelines".  Some people's rulers measure in units of "jobs and prosperity" and some people's rulers measure in units of "environmental damage and local autonomy".  So two people can look at pipelines, feel that they're applying rational and objective measures, and still come out with irreconcileably different answers.

And some rulers are not even close in equivalency -- like what the bible suggests and what science proves.

The Bible is one example but does anyone here really think the Bible is winning the argument?  Sure there exists a fringe element that doesn't believe evolution but they are not standing in the way of progress in Canada.

The war we are losing is the economic one. That is the one in which facts can disprove neoliberal philosophy as common wisdom.

Sure -- the only point here is that the rulers are in some cases different and of similar legitimacy but in many cases they are not at all equivalent.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The Bible is one example but does anyone here really think the Bible is winning the argument?

In what ways is it losing?

Sure, in terms of the number of followers maybe.  But in the US at least, the Bible gets its wishes granted in various legislatures all the time, even in the 21st century.

From a logic and science standpoint, they brought a slingshot to a gun fight, but strangely they're still holding their own after 2000 years.  And some other non-Bible religions are actually growing.

Cody87

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

@ Cody

the problem with your packaging science views that go together is that these are part of a narrative and related set of facts peer reviewed and part of the package only becuase of scientific conclusion. Any element in that is open to debate and has been. The reason someone would be questionned picking part of the scientific consensus is that this already has been subject to debate and science.

Religion is another matter. The only things keeping those beliefs together are religion. The package is not subject to inquiry but proudly stated as an article of faith. There is no peer review to religion that is accepted.

Is it really science if there's no null hypothesis?

Like, the problem with Christianity or religion in general as a descriptive philosophy is that there is no way to "prove" that the claims are false. Any attempt to use reason to "prove" to a "believer" that God doesn't exist (or Allah, etc), or that Jesus wasn't the son of God (or Muhammad the last prophet of Allah, etc), will be flatly ignored because according to their set of rules that "proof of non-existence" (fossils, evolution, incorrect statements in the bible/quran) could be created by God/Allah as a "test of faith." There is no null hypothesis.

So, going back to climate science as a package deal analogous to religion, what's the null hypothesis? Ask yourself what evidence it would take for you to say "oh, actually, CO2 emissions aren't a big deal." If there's no possible evidence that you could be presented with that would evoke that response, it's not a scientific conclusion because there's no null hypothesis. This criticism can be applied to many beliefs of the right, but it can also be applied to many beliefs of the left.

As I mentioned before, I know you've seen clashes of different left-wing belief systems - which you seem to call science -  because Rabble is a relatively small community that I visit infrequently and even I have seen it even here. If two sets of belief systems have contradictory beliefs, at least one of them is definitely incorrect in the area which they disagree on.

There are groups on the left (pretty much everyone, really) who believe that the second amendment should be repealed in the U.S. and guns should only be possessed by the government (ie. military and police). Many on the left also believe that cops in the U.S. are murderous racists who look for any opportunity to shoot black suspects execution-style like what happened to Michael Brown..."Hands up don't shoot." I mean, really? You think Trump is literally the second coming of Hitler, you believe cops are muderous racists, and there is ample evidence of the U.S. military perpetuating human rights abuses the world over - and you want the government to disarm the population? How is that a rational or "scientific" position? "Please disarm me Hitler, I don't need a gun, the racist quasi-Nazi cops will protect me!"

Now, as a disclaimer because it sounds like I'm mocking gun control, I do support the repeal of the second amendment, BUT I only support it because I don't believe Trump is Hitler and I don't believe cops are any more racist than anyone else in the western world(and of the few people who are racist, most are not sigificantly so).

And, to be fair, the right is equally stupid about this as they are about most things. Just put the arguments in reverse. The right believes that cops are heros, real American patriots, and the same with those who serve in the military. They also believe they need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. If those who serve in the police and military are such great guys, surely they would never bow to the wishes of a tyrannical government and subjugate a disarmed population unable to defend themselves?

So anyway, as far as I'm concerned, if there's no null hypothesis, it's just belief, not science. I know what I need to (attempt to) do to disprove gravity, if for some reason I wanted to try to do that - just provide an instance where something moves away from a centre of mass. I know what I need to (attempt to) do to prove the world is flat, or not - just find the edge of the Earth, or end up at the same spot I started at without turning around. But what can one do to disprove computer models that show temperatures rising by 3C-5C by 2100? What can one do to disprove the Christian belief that Jesus is the son of God? What can one do to disprove the feminist belief that gender is a social construct? What can one do to disprove the common religious belief that homosexuality is a character flaw? Sweet fuck all. Doesn't automatically make them wrong (the religious ones are for sure - that's not the point), but it's not science if you can't disprove it. It's just part of a package of beliefs.

Cody87

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The Bible is one example but does anyone here really think the Bible is winning the argument?

In what ways is it losing?

(-snip-)

From a logic and science standpoint, they brought a slingshot to a gun fight, but strangely they're still holding their own after 2000 years.  And some other non-Bible religions are actually growing.

As an atheist, this is something that took me a long, long time to understand - how is religion still a thing? I was particularly perplexed whenever I'd come across very intelligent religious people. I finally figured it out after investing why Jordan Peterson's religious talks are so popular with atheists.  Ironically, your ruler analogy works perfectly to explain it.

Some people look at religion as a descriptive philosophy of the world. Those people are atheists. Those atheists are generally confused why, at this point, there is anyone left who is not an atheist. These people measure the value of religion by it's scientific accuracy, where religion sorely lacks.

Other people look at religion as a prescriptive philosophy of how to behave in the world. Those people are generally religious. For these people, what is objectively true is only important insofar as it helps them to live well (however that is subjectively defined). These people measure the value of religion by the value it provides to their life, which in many cases is non-trivial.

That understanding doesn't really change my opinion on the validity of religion as a belief system, mind you, but I find the concept valuable and in a short time it's already helped me immensely when dealing with religious people.

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Sure, in terms of the number of followers maybe.  But in the US at least, the Bible gets its wishes granted in various legislatures all the time, even in the 21st century.

I'm not sure that's entirely fair. Like it or not, Christianity is a major foundation of western culture and western law. So, sure, you could say that a lot of major laws (eg. murder, theft) are "the Bible's wishes," but the fact is that those are things that are according to basically everyone's wishes, religious or not. Where the bible disagrees with public opinion, such as on the topic of gay marriage for example, the bible quite rightly gets squashed. Even the non-religious agree with the vast majority of the laws that are in keeping with the bible - and that's the only reason those laws exist. If and when majority public opinion dissents, those laws will be modified or repealed.

Rev Pesky

From Cody87:

But what can one do to disprove computer models that show temperatures rising by 3C-5C by 2100? What can one do to disprove the Christian belief that Jesus is the son of God?

You've gone a bit off the rails here. Where do the computer models come from? The models are models, it's true, but they are based on something. That is, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. We also have evidence from past ages when the Artic, for instance, was close to tropical. This evidence gives us an idea of what sort of temperatures we might experience given CO2 levels that are a high as they were back when.

So are these models correct? Yes and no. Like most scientific measurement, the results get better as more evidence is gathered. Which might explain the relatively large temperature variation coming from the models.

But whatever the evidence for the climate temperature models, there is no such thing for the belief that Christ (if he even existed) is the Son of God. That belief comes out of thin air, and there is no investigation one could make to confirm or deny the truth of it. 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

The way I look at it is that Christians are to Jesus as trekkies are to Captain Kirk. They are both parts of social organizations that are based on fandom of fictional characters. The fact that the focus of attention is a counter factual story is no problem for a true fan. If the Christians would only admit this obvious fact, all would be well.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

Political ideals are based on preconceptions and beliefs, i.e. "The lion eats the gazelle, get over it" vs. "fairness". You can't persuade a believer in one to believe in the other, unless something happens to them which makes them change their mind. In my own hypocritical way, the poorer I am, the more left-wing I am, and the richer I am, the more right-wing I am.

God exists in the mind of the believer, even if God does not exist in your mind. Hence the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved. Ironically, saying condescending things about religion only makes religious faith grow stronger.

Belief has nothing to do with facts. They should not be confused. Albert Einstein said while objecting to quantum theory that "God does not play dice with the universe" which may lead one to believe that Einstein, a brilliant scientist, also believed in God.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

progressive17 wrote:

Political ideals are based on preconceptions and beliefs, i.e. "The lion eats the gazelle, get over it" vs. "fairness". You can't persuade a believer in one to believe in the other, unless something happens to them which makes them change their mind.

Well, this is generally the case for most individuals. However, there are generally a few dissenters, and it is possible for these dissenters to change other people's minds. Examples abound. Abolition of slavery, women's rights, LGBT rights have all gone from from fringe ideas to being almost universally accepted. The last 2 actually happened in my lifetime, and I can personally remember the bad old days. People do change their beliefs.

progressive17 wrote:

God exists in the mind of the believer, even if God does not exist in your mind. Hence the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved.

Yes but the question is, does God exist anywhere other than the believer's mind? If you ask any believer, they will say that of course God is not merely in their minds, but is part of the external, objective world. That is what I disagree with.

progressive17 wrote:

Belief has nothing to do with facts. They should not be confused. Albert Einstein said while objecting to quantum theory that "God does not play dice with the universe" which may lead one to believe that Einstein, a brilliant scientist, also believed in God.

It depends what you mean by belief. I believe that the sun will rise in the southeast tomorrow morning here in Hamilton, at around 7:34 EST. This belief is not separate from facts, it is based on a mountain of evidence. Belief in things for which there is no evidence is a different matter. As to the Einstein quote, based on a bit of reading about his life, I suspect he used "God" poetically, as many non believers do.

cco

progressive17 wrote:

Ironically, saying condescending things about religion only makes religious faith grow stronger.

If this were true, you'd expect the most religious places in the world to be those where religion had been most harshly mocked. Also, you'd see religious believers encourage condescension, as it'd only strengthen their position. Instead, there's a pretty good correlation between strength of religious belief and criminalization or other suppression of criticism of religion. The Mohammed cartoons weren't eagerly greeted in the Middle East as the greatest tool for the promotion of Islam.

Rev Pesky

From progressive17:

...Albert Einstein said while objecting to quantum theory that "God does not play dice with the universe" which may lead one to believe that Einstein, a brilliant scientist, also believed in God.

And if you held that belief you'd be wrong.  Einstein did not believe in God, and said so on numerous occasions. In the quote in question, he was using God as a synonym for the natural workings of the universe.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
God exists in the mind of the believer, even if God does not exist in your mind. Hence the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved.

It's a shame we also can't prove that God only exists in the minds of believers (like, say, leprechauns, poltergeists, unicorns, and all of the other Gods that a particular believer doesn't believe in).

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Ironically, saying condescending things about religion only makes religious faith grow stronger.

Thanks for the tip.  What makes it grow weaker?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Rev Pesky wrote:

From progressive17:

...Albert Einstein said while objecting to quantum theory that "God does not play dice with the universe" which may lead one to believe that Einstein, a brilliant scientist, also believed in God.

And if you held that belief you'd be wrong.  Einstein did not believe in God, and said so on numerous occasions. In the quote in question, he was using God as a synonym for the natural workings of the universe.

There are examples of Christians who were scientists in Einstein's league, such as Georges Lemaître. This does not, however, provide actual evidence of God's existence.

Rev Pesky

From Michael Moriarity:

There are examples of Christians who were scientists in Einstein's league...

Einstein's name is used because he was most familiar to the general public.

Speaking of which, there really weren't any scientists in his league. There were (and are, of course) many extremely brilliant scientists, such as Georges Lemaître, but it was Einstein who proposed the revolutionary idea that time is not constant. 

In my opinion, that particular bit of insight, so completely contrary to normal human experience, puts Einstein on a pedestal all by himself.