[FoRK] Smart People Believe Weird Things
sdw at lig.net
Sat Oct 31 21:25:18 PDT 2009
Nice juxtaposition in my reading today. We've made the point of the
first article before.
> Smart People Believe Weird Things ( Preview )
> Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe
> By Michael Shermer
> In April 1999, when I was on a lecture tour for my book Why People
> Believe Weird Things, the psychologist Robert Sternberg attended my
> presentation at Yale University. His response to the lecture was both
> enlightening and troubling. It is certainly entertaining to hear about
> other people's weird beliefs, Sternberg reflected, because we are
> confident that we would never be so foolish. But why do smart people
> fall for such things? Sternberg's challenge led to a second edition of
> my book, with a new chapter expounding on my answer to his question:
> Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at
> defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.
> Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro
> and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation,
> regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the
> time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do
> with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables
> as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence,
> peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape
> the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social
> and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through
> the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already
> believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not.
> Steven F. Hayward wrote: "The single largest defect of modern
> conservatism, in my mind, is its insufficient ability to challenge
> liberalism at the intellectual level. . . ."
> The single largest defect of modern conservatism is that it has ruined
> the nation.
> Conservatives do not have ideas; they have interests.
> Conservatives are not "thinkers"; they are rationalizers who give an
> intellectual gloss to their belief that an alliance of predatory
> businesspeople and religious extremists should rule the rest of us.
> The wreckage caused by modern conservatism lies all around us, and
> speaks for itself: If conservatism isn't dead, it should be.
> DANIEL ROSEN
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