Showing posts with label Shermer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shermer. Show all posts

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thinking About Beliefs.

I think at this point the only thing being achieved with this thread is "people from various backgrounds coming together to tell the OP that their methods are unnecessarily offensive."LDS
The OP got your attention, that is at least progress.
Progress towards what?Jewsha
Progress towards thinking about the prevailing misogyny in religion that spills over into the society dominated by those misogynic religions.

Even the attacks, diversions, and lies, make people "see the smoke" most people will simply rubberneck, a few will figure out there is a fire, one or two will try to do something to put out the fire, and as many if not more will scream "Let it burn!"

But just seeing the smoke makes people think about their belief about the cause of the fire.  And that thinking is inside the conceptual blocks that protect the belief.  Thinking inside the blocks is a disaster for beliefs.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I communicate very clearly and insure that what I write means exactly what I want it to mean.  The fact that what I write cannot get through your conceptual blocks says more about your belief system than my writing. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Human Worth

If you have one, what is your standard for measuring human worth?

How well a person embraces the UU First Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Not every white male; not every Christian (almost an oxymoron, as Christian theology teaches all are sinners;) not every Buddhist; not every civilized person;  but every person.  

Note that this principle does not embrace bad behavior just that the bad behavior is not a result of being a bad person.  That rogue cop, or despot, or exploitive capitalist is not a bad person, hesh has just embraced a bad belief system that leads them to ignore the first principle.  If somehow one could change the belief system the inherent worth would emerge and the conscience (since this is OFS' thread) would repair the bad behavior. 

Changing belief systems is an extremely difficult task.  The brain builds blocks to information contrary to strongly held beliefs, so that contrary data is not even processed by the brain.  Not impossible, Andrew Carnegie and Bill Gates come to mind as examples from the capitalist belief system.  Possibly, it is early yet, but some have even attacked their own belief systems to bring them more in line with the First Principle, Pope Francis and Bishop Spong come to mind

In order to embrace the first principle it is necessary to be aware of and resist the brain's inherent tendency to create beliefs about other people.  That is to generalize from behavior to the person.  Currently, all Muslims are terrorists is a common belief that leads to terms like Islamist which reinforces the belief system to make it for practical purposes unassailable.

Even atheists can fall victim to beliefs based on belief systems: All Christians are bigots.  Theists aren't reasonable. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Critical Thinking in Religion

In some religious traditions, Jews and Jesuits come immediately to mind, critical thinking about religion is encouraged post puberty.  But by that time the belief mental blocks are firmly in place.  Even the critically thinking Jesuits seem to understand this: Give me the child, and I will give you the adult.  OK the quote is boy and man, but it works with girls and women as well. 
As Michael Shermer discusses in The Believing Brain belief blocks even skeptical belief blocks are unassailable.  Contrary information isn't even processed by the brain.  The la, la, la, la, I can't hear you! is real, not metaphorical.   

Outside the belief blocks critical thinking can be encouraged and taught, although it is generally considered dangerous by the more dogmatic religions for fear that it will spill into faith thinking.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Michael Shermer The Moral Ark

Live Blog:  The Moral Arc

Chapter 2
Non-violence is becoming more effective is more effective in effecting social change since the violent elements in modern societies tend to eliminate themselves and fail to achieve the rather small minimum consensus to effect change.  This is not to say violence will be eliminated, we seem to be a violent species especially in small groups, but that it is becoming ineffective in creating social changes. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Beliefs, Bias, and Atheism

Please clarify. Holding a bias in favor of their own positions is a common human trait. Are you claiming that the atheists in this group are extraordinary in their capacity to be fair and objective?

It is commonly recognized that biases are associated with belief.  See Shermer among many others. Scientists are trained to recognize and compensate for biases, especially belief based biases,  and do so relatively well due to the threat of peer review either formal or informal.

Generally atheists reject beliefs in anything, preferring a search for valid knowledge without belief biases.  In addition atheists generally do not generally have positions to support.  As an example I have found that god beliefs are not useful and frequently dysfunctional.  However, if someone would show me a useful god belief, I might consider using it, although it is unlikely that I would adopt it.  I find the panentheistic belief a useful and functional worldview to study and learn from.  However, I need no deity to focus my study. I do very well with the wonder and awesomeness of the world I live on and the Universe which contains it. One might say I take my spirituality unadulterated by imaginary intermediaries.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Belief as Life


I don't think that problem is a matter of 'religion' at all!   There are some individuals, yes, who DO use religion as a substitute for making their own choices based on their own thought.

But then there are people who will NEVER go against their political party's most idiotic 'talking points'.  And people who insist on defining absolutely EVERY situation according to their political rubric. -  LeahOne

Some believers, and believers come in many varieties, religious, political, ethnic, even local sport team fanatics, have no ability to evaluate their beliefs.  This is attributed by scientists studying the phenomenon to an imbalance in risk of countering belief and accepting it unquestioning.  As a result information contrary to the belief system is not even registered in the brain of the believer.  See The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer for an accessable discussion of this science.  It is well documented for those wishing to check his conclusions.  

Simply, the cost of losing ones major social support group due to shunning as a heretic is so high, relative to the value of intellectual integrity, that the brain rejects without recognition any challenge to the beliefs of the social support group.

Or one might ask 'Does a true atheist put so much effort into attacking religion, as opposed to simply explaining - and defending - atheism?' -   LeahOne
The question for atheists is not as unrelated as it might seem.  There is no belief system or social support group associated with "True atheism" that conditions the brain to trigger either confirmation bias or self-justification bias.  While there are some atheist groups that resemble religions, typically the group conformity imperative is very weak.  Atheists even argue about and with their "Four Horsemen" anti-theists. 

Even on a board like this which attracts atheists who like to discuss religion, "attacks" are not on religion in general, but on specific religious or politico-religious beliefs that strongly affect atheists. There are a few exceptions to add a bit of spice to the board, but you will notice that most of the atheists here attack specific beliefs brought up by theists rather than the religion of the theist promoting those beliefs.  Even for those way out there on the belief irrationality scale are challenged on specific beliefs rather than their religion itself. I find it amusing that a specific religion is challenged here more by the theists participating than the atheists. 

One of the problems for atheists in challenging specific strongly held tenets of belief systems is that the challenge is interpreted by the believing brain as a general challenge to the belief system rather than a challenge to a small and perhaps unimportant part of the belief system.  And the believing brain overreacts to protect the belief system as a whole rather than just the specific challenge.  This is a necessary reaction of the believing brain, as any crack in the belief monolith can have disastrous consequences.  

We have on occasion on beliefnet seen the disastrous effects of an "insignificant crack" in a belief system, and may be seeing it in a creationist who has admitted just recently that God's real world creation may be another source of information to supplement the biblical account.  It will bear watching.  She is quite old, but may still have time to let her intrinsic reason and intelligence take over to reject Creationism for a more reasonable version of Christianity.  She seems to be relatively isolated, so the social support group may not be significant.  

Major cracks in the belief system especially life style choices incompatible with the belief system are obvious and traumatic breaks with family and friends in a tight belief circle, but as these frequently take place in a diverse school setting with other social support groups to replace the church family they are normally successful.