The Science Of Why We Don’t Believe Science

scopeWondering how evolution developed us into creatures who don’t believe in evolution? Mother Jones explains why large numbers of people tend to believe things that make no sense, and why the human brain is averse to evidence and reasoning:

An array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called “motivated reasoning” helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, “death panels,” the birthplace and religion of the president (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.

The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call “affect”). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we’re aware of it. That shouldn’t be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It’s a “basic human survival skill,” explains political scientist Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.

When we think we’re reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we’re being scientists, but we’re actually being lawyers (PDF). Our “reasoning” is a means to a predetermined end—winning our “case”—and is shot through with biases. They include “confirmation bias,” in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and “disconfirmation bias,” in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.

Read More: Mother Jones

123 Comments on "The Science Of Why We Don’t Believe Science"

  1. Jackedu317 | May 9, 2011 at 6:31 pm |

    at least this website lives up to it’s name… what a bunch of manipulative crap…

  2. Jackedu317 | May 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    at least this website lives up to it’s name… what a bunch of manipulative crap…

    • Tuna Ghost | May 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

      care to elaborate how?

    • Simiantongue | May 9, 2011 at 11:52 pm |

      I would disagree. I’ve only discovered Disinfo maybe six months ago. What I like about it is that there doesn’t seem to be any particular line that you are being handed. It’s a combination of many different things. If you don’t like something then pipe up and say why. If you agree then again say why. The comment and posting restrictions are not at all restrictive. Just keep it civil. Fair enough. As far as the content, I am not afraid to read about things that challenge my worldview at all. I welcome it. Change my mind if you can, I say. Think about all the multitude of sites out there that will spoon feed you exactly what you want to hear. A narrow acceptable perspective. If that is what you want then Disinfo is not for you.

      Your comment, given the subject of the article, pretty much broke my irony meter too. You owe me a new one.

    • does that differ significantly from your *trusted* news sources?

  3. Rex Vestri | May 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm |

    “This tendency toward so-called “motivated reasoning” helps explain why
    we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so
    unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, “death panels,” the birthplace
    and religion of the president (PDF), and much else.”

    I’d say that it has nothing to do with “motivated reasoning”, but instead the false propaganda continuously spewed at them by FOX “News” and the like.

  4. Rex Vestri | May 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    “This tendency toward so-called “motivated reasoning” helps explain why
    we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so
    unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, “death panels,” the birthplace
    and religion of the president (PDF), and much else.”

    I’d say that it has nothing to do with “motivated reasoning”, but instead the false propaganda continuously spewed at them by FOX “News” and the like.

    • A nice sentiment, but the article cites research that stated the conclusions you quoted years before Fox News became the cancer on the idiot box that we all love to hate.

  5. Liquidself2004 | May 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm |

    Motivated reasoning must apply to the scientists (and scientific community) who completed this study as well – perhaps they were highly motivated to view non-scientists as non-objective?

  6. Liquidself2004 | May 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |

    Motivated reasoning must apply to the scientists (and scientific community) who completed this study as well – perhaps they were highly motivated to view non-scientists as non-objective?

    • razzlebathbone | May 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

      No doubt. But the facts remain. Reason (or rationalize) with that as you would.

      • Liquidself2004 | May 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm |

        The “fact” remains that the scientific community itself is the best and possibly the most documented example of “motivated reasoning” – Mr. Thomas Kuhn I believe had something to say on the subject.

        • razzlebathbone | May 11, 2011 at 3:15 am |

          All right, then. By that reasoning, you should go on with your life confident in the assumption that you are a rational being whose perceptions and judgment are not affected by preconception or prejudice. You can also confidently assert that advertising and peer pressure don’t affect you at all. I’m sure this all feels very nice for you. Very comforting.

          Best of luck to you.

  7. Tuna Ghost | May 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm |

    care to elaborate how?

  8. Ricky Jazzercise | May 9, 2011 at 8:06 pm |

    This is incredibly important research and it blows my mind that people are so unaware of the field of psychology and barely ever take a minute to think about how they think.

    On that note though, let’s just not acknowledge that Science has been just as corrupted by corporate, military, and religious interests than anyone. Don’t believe me? Think about the entire field of psychiatry. Basically the most potentially beneficial chemicals i.e. psychedelic compounds have been essentially taken off the table as an area of research for incredibly dubious political reasoning i.e. the hyper-corrupt drug war. Instead, we encourage people to take selective seretonin reuptake inhibitors (and a whole slew of other bullshit) intead. These chemicals have been repeatedly shown to have almost no more effect than basic talk therapy in treating anything other than severe depression.

    This is obviously has to do with profit margins and politics rather than science, and yet we tend to just sit back and think, wow, “scientists sure do know they’re talking about.” I just find this funny, because the article raises the question: how do we combat this, and then it talks about changing the way we communicate, yet fails to mention (obviously) that the best way to shock and reconfigure cultural imprinting is with, you guessed it, psychedelic drugs. The transpersonal experiences they engender are the most potent way of making people question the things they believe in and reconfigure them.

    I find this type of research the article is referencing particularly fascinating as it so far has only really been applied to things like “climate gate”, “birthers”, and “crazy conspiracy theorists” Why not apply it to the more important aspect of human spirituality where it obviously effects us the most? Watching debates between religious types and “atheists” is retarded. The idea that the entire breadth of human visionary experience, either lost importance 2000 years ago or can all be summed up as “insane” and therefore promptly ignored is the underlying premise fueling the entire debate. The fact that religion is based on these things (rather indirectly) and that scientifically we can induce them quite easily but refuse to conduct this research due to its controversial nature is kind of astounding. Those are “facts” that are conveniently edited out of the dialogue because neither side is willing to entertain them.

  9. Ricky Jazzercise | May 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm |

    This is incredibly important research and it blows my mind that people are so unaware of the field of psychology and barely ever take a minute to think about how they think.

    On that note though, let’s just not acknowledge that Science has been just as corrupted by corporate, military, and religious interests than anyone. Don’t believe me? Think about the entire field of psychiatry. Basically the most potentially beneficial chemicals i.e. psychedelic compounds have been essentially taken off the table as an area of research for incredibly dubious political reasoning i.e. the hyper-corrupt drug war. Instead, we encourage people to take selective seretonin reuptake inhibitors (and a whole slew of other bullshit) intead. These chemicals have been repeatedly shown to have almost no more effect than basic talk therapy in treating anything other than severe depression.

    This is obviously has to do with profit margins and politics rather than science, and yet we tend to just sit back and think, wow, “scientists sure do know they’re talking about.” I just find this funny, because the article raises the question: how do we combat this, and then it talks about changing the way we communicate, yet fails to mention (obviously) that the best way to shock and reconfigure cultural imprinting is with, you guessed it, psychedelic drugs. The transpersonal experiences they engender are the most potent way of making people question the things they believe in and reconfigure them.

    I find this type of research the article is referencing particularly fascinating as it so far has only really been applied to things like “climate gate”, “birthers”, and “crazy conspiracy theorists” Why not apply it to the more important aspect of human spirituality where it obviously effects us the most? Watching debates between religious types and “atheists” is retarded. The idea that the entire breadth of human visionary experience, either lost importance 2000 years ago or can all be summed up as “insane” and therefore promptly ignored is the underlying premise fueling the entire debate. The fact that religion is based on these things (rather indirectly) and that scientifically we can induce them quite easily but refuse to conduct this research due to its controversial nature is kind of astounding. Those are “facts” that are conveniently edited out of the dialogue because neither side is willing to entertain them.

  10. So would this explain why liberals are prone to believe in Vengeful Momma Gaia and the excuses of convicted cop killers?

  11. So would this explain why liberals are prone to believe in Vengeful Momma Gaia and the excuses of convicted cop killers?

    • Liberals, conservatives, all kinds of folks believe in stupid things.

      • My point exactly. This article purports to say something new about the phenomenon. What would that be, I wonder? It seems to me just another one of those “studies show…” items that, on examination, turn out to be merely another statement of the obvious.

        • Talk about having an article completely go over your head. The point of studies like these, that state the “obvious” as you say, is one person’s obvious is a set of falsehoods to another. Without doing these studies, with scientific rigor, there is no way to provide repeatable, convincing arguments supported by actual evidence that isn’t anecdotal, which your whole “statement of the obvious” is.

          Unfortunately you are one who this article is speaking about, yet when even confronted with facts, that can be reproduced with science you resort to calling it all “obvious”. Plenty of “obvious” things people have observed through history have been proven false with time or true scientific study.

          • Obviously you need the obvious explained to you by obvious scientific posers whose biases are obvious to all but the totally oblivious such as yourself, Chris.

          • razzlebathbone | May 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

            And you know that they’re posers because they disagree with you.

          • No, I know they’re posers because I can see their biases through all the smoke and mirrors of objectivity they wish to be seen to cultivate.

          •  Ah you can see through it all….that is objectivity or your superior skills and knowledge speaking.

          • superfluous | May 17, 2011 at 12:03 am |

            seems obvious to me, too

        • Mindy, you sound like an arrogant person.

        •  If its stating the obvious, why are so many people arguing….hmmmm does it violate their personal belief system, even though it is an ‘obvious’ truth.  Science at least tries to find truths, they can be wrong.  Other groups are never wrong, even when the truths prove it….

  12. Science has been politicized like everything else connected to money in this world. That’s why people have become skeptical of science. Science itself is often handcuffed by its own practices. We see numerous photos and videos of unexplained aerial vehicles but since ‘scientists’ have not physically analyzed one of them they simply do not exist. It’s absurd. The liberals love their man made global warming scenario and fall right in with the carbon tax that will solve the problem. It’s all based on sound science in which CO2, representing 0.035% of atmospheric gases is the driving force behind climate change and the sun, which supplies 99.99% of the energy coming to this planet, has nothing to do with it. It’s an example of politically driven science and this is why people not longer have the faith in science they used to have.

  13. Science has been politicized like everything else connected to money in this world. That’s why people have become skeptical of science. Science itself is often handcuffed by its own practices. We see numerous photos and videos of unexplained aerial vehicles but since ‘scientists’ have not physically analyzed one of them they simply do not exist. It’s absurd. The liberals love their man made global warming scenario and fall right in with the carbon tax that will solve the problem. It’s all based on sound science in which CO2, representing 0.035% of atmospheric gases is the driving force behind climate change and the sun, which supplies 99.99% of the energy coming to this planet, has nothing to do with it. It’s an example of politically driven science and this is why people not longer have the faith in science they used to have.

  14. Hadrian999 | May 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    the greatest weakness of science is that it provides no absolute answers. People would much rather be given an absolutely certain answer(even if it is false) than live with uncertainty.

  15. Hadrian999 | May 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    the greatest weakness of science is that it provides no absolute answers. People would much rather be given an absolutely certain answer(even if it is false) than live with uncertainty.

  16. ” We see numerous photos and videos of unexplained aerial vehicles”
    Why have non of thise photos and vidios never been publiced ? The ones we see are corny ore easily explained.

  17. ” We see numerous photos and videos of unexplained aerial vehicles”
    Why have non of thise photos and vidios never been publiced ? The ones we see are corny ore easily explained.

  18. Liberals, conservatives, all kinds of folks believe in stupid things.

  19. My point exactly. This article purports to say something new about the phenomenon. What would that be, I wonder? It seems to me just another one of those “studies show…” items that, on examination, turn out to be merely another statement of the obvious.

  20. I would say that just because our genetics has programmed our emotional reactions to act in certain ways in specific situations in a matter of milliseconds does not make those emotions or otherwise logical reasonable either. We are, after all, humans. Our emotions let us down all the time. The most genuine of our emotional responses or reasonings come after the fact. When we have all the details. Within those milliseconds, it’s impossible to gain the entirety of information that is necessary to make a decision. If everyone were to make a decision off of their evolutionarily developed, ‘motivated responses’ there would probably be few people left on Earth for us to be having this discussion. Thank logic and detailed rationalization. Speaking of logic, you can’t come to a logical conclusion enough to make a true decision about something or a situation if you don’t have enough details.

  21. I would say that just because our genetics has programmed our emotional reactions to act in certain ways in specific situations in a matter of milliseconds does not make those emotions or otherwise logical reasonable either. We are, after all, humans. Our emotions let us down all the time. The most genuine of our emotional responses or reasonings come after the fact. When we have all the details. Within those milliseconds, it’s impossible to gain the entirety of information that is necessary to make a decision. If everyone were to make a decision off of their evolutionarily developed, ‘motivated responses’ there would probably be few people left on Earth for us to be having this discussion. Thank logic and detailed rationalization. Speaking of logic, you can’t come to a logical conclusion enough to make a true decision about something or a situation if you don’t have enough details.


    • our genetics has programmed our emotional reactions to act in certain ways in specific situations in a matter of milliseconds”

      By saying that, you completely disregard the human experience. By choosing to assume all that happens to us is only genetic, you are just as extreme and closed off to information as anyone else who chooses to believe what they want to hear. Our emotions are not just programmed into our brain just waiting for situations to come up in which they can reveal themselves. How we react to things is nurture, how we perceive what is happening around us has everything to do with how we have each learned to believe things are in the world.

      I think the article sums itself up pretty well at the end:
      “Okay, so people gravitate toward information that confirms what they believe, and they select sources that deliver it.”

      I don’t think you can blame sources of misinformation for the fact that people choose to believe it, when people don’t choose to see what is right in front of their face. If you’re looking to confirm your believes, there is always someone willing to sell you what you want to hear. It is ignorance by choice.


  22. our genetics has programmed our emotional reactions to act in certain ways in specific situations in a matter of milliseconds”

    By saying that, you completely disregard the human experience. By choosing to assume all that happens to us is only genetic, you are just as extreme and closed off to information as anyone else who chooses to believe what they want to hear. Our emotions are not just programmed into our brain just waiting for situations to come up in which they can reveal themselves. How we react to things is nurture, how we perceive what is happening around us has everything to do with how we have each learned to believe things are in the world.

    I think the article sums itself up pretty well at the end:
    “Okay, so people gravitate toward information that confirms what they believe, and they select sources that deliver it.”

    I don’t think you can blame sources of misinformation for the fact that people choose to believe it, when people don’t choose to see what is right in front of their face. If you’re looking to confirm your believes, there is always someone willing to sell you what you want to hear. It is ignorance by choice.

  23. superfluous | May 10, 2011 at 3:42 am |

    circular argumentation

  24. superfluous | May 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm |

    circular argumentation

  25. Simiantongue | May 10, 2011 at 3:52 am |

    I would disagree. I’ve only discovered Disinfo maybe six months ago. What I like about it is that there doesn’t seem to be any particular line that you are being handed. It’s a combination of many different things. If you don’t like something then pipe up and say why. If you agree then again say why. The comment and posting restrictions are not at all restrictive. Just keep it civil. Fair enough. As far as the content, I am not afraid to read about things that challenge my worldview at all. I welcome it. Change my mind if you can, I say. Think about all the multitude of sites out there that will spoon feed you exactly what you want to hear. A narrow acceptable perspective. If that is what you want then Disinfo is not for you.

    Your comment, given the subject of the article, pretty much broke my irony meter too. You owe me a new one.

  26. Talk about having an article completely go over your head. The point of studies like these, that state the “obvious” as you say, is one person’s obvious is a set of falsehoods to another. Without doing these studies, with scientific rigor, there is no way to provide repeatable, convincing arguments supported by actual evidence that isn’t anecdotal, which your whole “statement of the obvious” is.

    Unfortunately you are one who this article is speaking about, yet when even confronted with facts, that can be reproduced with science you resort to calling it all “obvious”. Plenty of “obvious” things people have observed through history have been proven false with time or true scientific study.

  27. Obviously you need the obvious explained to you by obvious scientific posers whose biases are obvious to all but the totally oblivious such as yourself, Chris.

  28. Robert Anton Wilson’s “The New Inquisition” is a real eye opener… Proof positive that skepticism is bullshit- just like blind faith, or unquestioned acceptance. Who would’ve guessed that you have to actually investigate shit to know anything?

  29. Robert Anton Wilson’s “The New Inquisition” is a real eye opener… Proof positive that skepticism is bullshit- just like blind faith, or unquestioned acceptance. Who would’ve guessed that you have to actually investigate shit to know anything?

  30. does that differ significantly from your *trusted* news sources?

  31. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    No doubt. But the facts remain. Reason (or rationalize) with that as you would.

  32. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    And you know that they’re posers because they disagree with you.

  33. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm |

    This challenge is the single most difficult, most vital struggle the human race has ever faced.

    Our brains are wired for tribal loyalty, not objective truth. When we are exposed to documented facts and clear evidence that contradicts our beliefs, it doesn’t make us change our minds. Rather, it makes us cling even more tightly to those falsehoods, and it makes us feel very upset when this is pointed out to us.

    There was a time when we could behave this way and it would simply be a stupid quirk. But now that we have the power to render our planet uninhabitable to our species, an aspect of our own minds has become a clear and present danger to our survival. If we don’t learn to reconfigure ourselves to value facts over factions, we’re not going to make it.

  34. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm |

    This challenge is the single most difficult, most vital struggle the human race has ever faced.

    Our brains are wired for tribal loyalty, not objective truth. When we are exposed to documented facts and clear evidence that contradicts our beliefs, it doesn’t make us change our minds. Rather, it makes us cling even more tightly to those falsehoods, and it makes us feel very upset when this is pointed out to us.

    There was a time when we could behave this way and it would simply be a stupid quirk. But now that we have the power to render our planet uninhabitable to our species, an aspect of our own minds has become a clear and present danger to our survival. If we don’t learn to reconfigure ourselves to value facts over factions, we’re not going to make it.

  35. razzlebathbone | May 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm |

    This challenge is the single most difficult, most vital struggle the human race has ever faced.

    Our brains are wired for tribal loyalty, not objective truth. When we are exposed to documented facts and clear evidence that contradicts our beliefs, it doesn’t make us change our minds. Rather, it makes us cling even more tightly to those falsehoods, and it makes us feel very upset when this is pointed out to us.

    There was a time when we could behave this way and it would simply be a stupid quirk. But now that we have the power to render our planet uninhabitable to our species, an aspect of our own minds has become a clear and present danger to our survival. If we don’t learn to reconfigure ourselves to value facts over factions, we’re not going to make it.

    • Chuck_Black | May 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

      Near as I can tell, our brains are wired for survival, which normally demands a high level of acceptance of the objective truth. Clinging together with the loyal tribe will occur, only as long as the loyal tribe provides provides something objectively useful.

      There was never a time when we could behave against our better interests and it would simply be a stupid quirk. We’d always suffer objectively and sometimes die if we did this.

      Geez razzlebathbone. Do you still live in your parents basement?

      • razzlebathbone | May 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

        Our brains are wired for survival as nomadic, tribal hunter-gatherers. They are maladapted for our present global, technological situation.

        Our brains are very good at detecting changes, but very poor at measuring objective values. For example, if I play a musical note, such as A (440 Hz), you will hear it at first, but gradually you will stop hearing it. Once you become accustomed to it, you will only notice if it changes in volume or pitch.

        Our preconceptions have an enormous effect on what we perceive and believe. This is because cognition takes too long to be practical for a hunter-gatherer surrounded by constant danger and the threat of scarcity.

        These are only a few examples of our tendency not to evaluate things objectively. Without advanced technology, they may have sometimes made our lives unpleasant, but they didn’t threaten the existence of our species. Now they do.

        Cognitive science indicates that these facts will do nothing to sway anyone’s opinion. If anything, they will make people cling even more tightly to their comfortable, counter-factual beliefs, and see me as a threat, an “other” who must be attacked and destroyed. But what the hell, this is the internet. And there’s always the possibility of exceptions to the rule.

        • Chuck_Black | May 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

          Mmm…

          How about I accept that our brains are very good at detecting changes and very poor at measuring objective values but add the caveat that knowledge and skills improve as we learn about life and train ourselves to detect changes and measure objective values.

          Some of this lack of reason that the article seems to find among the general populace might just have something to do with people simply not learning about what goes into independent reasoning, critical thinking and developing sound judgements and how these skills relate to the development of scientific theories or the process of peer review.

          For example, I’m personally a little bit skeptical about this “theory of motivated reasoning” which, according to the article, builds on a key insight of modern “neuroscience (PDF)” that “reasoning is actually suffused with emotion.”

          So is reading, if you’ve never been taught the alphabet (it’s hard and we get emotional doing hard things).

          But reading is certainly much easier, and a less emotional activity to perform after receiving the appropriate training. So is walking, driving a car, dressing ourselves, calculating our bills and pretty much everything else we’ve ever done.

          And while “cognitive science” might indicate that opinions will never be swayed by facts, it’s also a statistically valid fact that people learn from their initial mistakes and improve their performance in all cognitive areas with time, practice and the appropriate training.

          And that last statement is certainly no exception to the rule. Are you an exception to the rule, razzlebathbone?

          • razzlebathbone | May 11, 2011 at 2:59 am |

            I’m sure we’d all like to believe that we are rational beings who change our minds when we are presented with facts that contradict our beliefs, but for most humans it simply isn’t so.

            http://articles.boston.com/2010-07-11/bostonglobe/29324096_1_facts-misinformation-beliefs

            The urge to reject facts that make us feel uncomfortable is not insurmountable, but it is very strong. This discussion is a prime example. Do you think it makes me happy to know that I probably dismiss things on a regular basis simply because they contradict my preconceptions? I do try to be aware of such dissonance, and perhaps such awareness can help people to be more rational. But plugging our ears and singing “LA LA LA I AM REALLY RATIONAL DESPITE EVIDENCE THAT I’M PROBABLY NOT” won’t help. The first step in overcoming our limitations lies in understanding them. The problem is that most people are unwilling to go even that far. And again, this discussion provides a fine demonstration of this.

          • Chuck_Black | May 11, 2011 at 8:03 am |

            Well razzlebathbone.

            You did say “the urge to reject facts that make us feel uncomfortable is not insurmountable, but it is very strong.” I agree with you.

            Life is hard. Worthwhile things are hard to accomplish. Being rational is hard to do and requires effort.

            As for the Boston Globe article you cited, Thomas Jefferson certainly did write that “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” However the Globe article seems to have left out much of the context for that statement as it relates to Jefferson’s ideas on education.

            In essence, Jefferson had faith in the “common man” and his ability to elect wise and virtuous leaders but only if that common man received the proper education and training. Check out http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/ideas/edhistory.html and http://www.newfoundations.com/GALLERY/Jefferson.html to learn more.

            So Jefferson also thought that being rational is hard and required the appropriate education and training in critical thinking.

            Smart man, that Jefferson. We could learn a lot from him.

            I also couldn’t help but notice that neither the article cited above or the Boston Globe article you cited makes any statements about the education of the people being studied or about their ability to independently verify statements made by the research team for accuracy

            This seems to me to be akin to studying driving habits without differentiating between people who possess a valid driving license and those who don’t. The Boston Globe study does make several statements about the economic class of the various study test subjects in the various studies it discussed which might provide a sense of the study biases and methodology to those capable of looking closely.

            The appropriate differentiation between dependent and independent variables in scientific experiments is always a useful clue to the experiments true validity and we’re not given enough information in either the test cited above or in the Boston Globe cited studies to be able to make a true determination as to the validity of these experiments.

            But let’s assume the tests are valid for the moment. After all, I’m sure that the scientists would prefer to be judging us instead of having us judging them.

            The Boston Globe article states that researchers have found that, if you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to listen to opposing viewpoints but if you feel insecure or threatened, you’re less likely to do so and suggests that this can be improved with the appropriate training.

            So at least one of the Boston Globe cited studies also seems to agree with you, me and Jefferson that, while difficult to learn, the ability to accept facts that make us feel uncomfortable is not an impossible or insurmountable skill to acquire.

            So tell me razzlebathbone, are you going to just sit there feeling uncomfortable now that these additional facts have been pointed out to to you? Are you going to dismiss what you yourself have stated is possible?

            Or are you going to take the steps needed to learn and grow? You just gotta know the direction I’m leaning towards.

          • GodisNonsense | May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |

            It seems to me the ongoing debate here can be summarized by the definitions of the words “optimist” and “pessimist”, as they apply to humanist intellectuals. 

          • Chuck_Black | May 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm |

            No subjective terms are required here.

            It is a known fact that people can learn to be rational, in much the same way as they can learn to read, calculate mathematics problems, talk, walk, dress, tie their own shoe laces or do any of the other items that adults do during the course of a typical day.

            For the cited studies to note that some people (their “test subjects”) aren’t rational without telling us a little more about the people being tested and then to make the broad assumption that no one (or only a few because it’s “difficult”) will ever be able to be rational is akin to noting that small children can’t walk and talk and concluding from this that humans will therefore never be able to do so even when they get older, simply because the test subjects (the small children) can’t do so now.

            And then concluding that no one will ever be able to walk or talk because the test subjects can’t and are assumed never to be able to do so.

            By the way, what’s “humanist intellectuals” got to do with this? I’m more of a hard science, empirical type of guy (just in case you couldn’t tell).

            Do you think that mistaking “humanist intellectuals” for people who do real science is part of the reason why no one believes people who call themselves scientists when they make subjective pronouncements?

    • @razzlebathbone:disqus

      If “making it” involves being ruled by pious twerps like you, I’d prefer we didn’t make it.

      • razzlebathbone | May 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

        What I wrote carried no threat, and yet you perceived in it a desire to “rule” you and presumably everyone else.

        I can think of no better illustration for my point, but I can take no joy in your confirming it.

        • @razzlebathbone:disqus

          Oh, I perceive no threat from you in particular. But if you think “humanity” is going to reach a “consensus” on how to manage the planet according to ecological best practices based on the ideas of (say) Bill McKibben, well, all I can say is you haven’t lived as long as I have and you definitely don’t know history. The only way big changes like the ones the “deep ecologists” and the “true-costers” are proposing can be made is by means of forced marches and reeducation camps à la Mao and the Great Leap Forward, and frankly I’d rather we all just topped ourselves with CO2 than go through all that shit again.

          • razzlebathbone | May 11, 2011 at 2:48 am |

            A society built on facts rather than tribal loyalties doesn’t necessarily entail brutal dictatorship. But there are many people out there like yourself who conflate the two, and would therefore prefer extinction to living in harmony with other human beings. It’s the main reason I’m not optimistic about our chances.

          • @razzlebathbone:disqus

            The main reason I’m not optimistic about our chances is that good people like you will always end up committing or excusing atrocities in the name of “a society built on facts”. Read Dostoevsky and get back to me.

          • Atrocities unlike those committed by, say, societies built atop beliefs that members of which refuse to question? Or discuss without treating the dialogue as if the participants were discussing the prospect of genocide over tea, for that matter?

          • If you tell me which languages you ran that through on “Google Translate”, I might have a better chance of understanding your point. I doubt it, but it’s worth a shot.

          • Eightamps | May 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

             I understood his point perfectly. Perhaps you should elevate your reading level above, say, 6th grade? Then you might understand what people mean when they use words with more than 2 syllables.

          • GodisNonsense | May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |

            You are absolutely bitter and disillusioned with human potential to overcome obsticles, for the right reasons. How sad. 

          • GodisNonsense | May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |

            obstacles (no edit button, and I’m quick to push buttons.)  

  36. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm |

    Some of this lack of reason that the article seems to find among the general populace might have something to do with people simply not learning about what goes into independent reasoning, critical thinking and developing sound judgements and how these skills relate to the development of scientific theories.

    For example, I’m a little bit skeptical about this “theory of motivated reasoning” which, according to the article, builds on a key insight of modern “neuroscience (PDF)” that “reasoning is actually suffused with emotion.”

    So is reading, if you’ve never been taught the alphabet.

  37. Chuck_Black | May 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    Some of this lack of reason that the article seems to find among the general populace might have something to do with people simply not learning about what goes into independent reasoning, critical thinking and developing sound judgements and how these skills relate to the development of scientific theories or the process of peer review.

    For example, I’m a little bit skeptical about this “theory of motivated reasoning” which, according to the article, builds on a key insight of modern “neuroscience (PDF)” that “reasoning is actually suffused with emotion.”

    So is reading, if you’ve never been taught the alphabet.

  38. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm |

    Near as I can tell, our brains are wired for survival, which normally demands a high level of acceptance of the objective truth. Clinging together with the loyal tribe will occur, only as long as the loyal tribe provides provides something objectively useful.

    There was never a time when we could behave against our better interests and it would simply be a stupid quirk. We’d always suffer objectively and sometimes die if we did this.

    Geez razzlebathbone. Do you still live in your parents basement?

  39. @razzlebathbone:disqus

    If “making it” involves being ruled by pious twerps like you, I’d prefer we didn’t make it.

  40. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    What I wrote carried no threat, and yet you perceived in it a desire to “rule” you and presumably everyone else.

    I can think of no better illustration for my point, but I can take no joy in your confirming it.

  41. Anonymous | May 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    Our brains are wired for survival as nomadic, tribal hunter-gatherers. They are maladapted for our present global, technological situation.

    Our brains are very good at detecting changes, but very poor at measuring objective values. For example, if I play a musical note, such as A (440 Hz), you will hear it at first, but gradually you will stop hearing it. Once you become accustomed to it, you will only notice if it changes in volume or pitch.

    Our preconceptions have an enormous effect on what we perceive and believe. This is because cognition takes too long to be practical for a hunter-gatherer surrounded by constant danger and the threat of scarcity.

    These are only a few examples of our tendency not to evaluate things objectively. Without advanced technology, they may have sometimes made our lives unpleasant, but they didn’t threaten the existence of our species. Now they do.

    Cognitive science indicates that these facts will do nothing to sway anyone’s opinion. If anything, they will make people cling even more tightly to their comfortable, counter-factual beliefs, and see me as a threat, an “other” who must be attacked and destroyed. But what the hell, this is the internet. And there’s always the possibility of exceptions to the rule.

  42. @razzlebathbone:disqus

    Oh, I perceive no threat from you in particular. But if you think “humanity” is going to reach a “consensus” on how to manage the planet according to ecological best practices based on the ideas of (say) Bill McKibben, well, all I can say is you haven’t lived as long as I have and you definitely don’t know history. The only way big changes like the ones the “deep ecologists” and the “true-costers” are proposing can be made is by means of forced marches and reeducation camps à la Mao and the Great Leap Forward, and frankly I’d rather we all just topped ourselves with CO2 than go through all that shit again.

  43. Anonymous | May 11, 2011 at 12:01 am |

    Mmm…

    How about I accept that our brains are very good at detecting changes and very poor at measuring objective values but add the caveat that knowledge and skills improve as we learn about life and train ourselves to detect changes and measure objective values.

    Some of this lack of reason that the article seems to find among the general populace might just have something to do with people simply not learning about what goes into independent reasoning, critical thinking and developing sound judgements and how these skills relate to the development of scientific theories or the process of peer review.

    For example, I’m personally a little bit skeptical about this “theory of motivated reasoning” which, according to the article, builds on a key insight of modern “neuroscience (PDF)” that “reasoning is actually suffused with emotion.”

    So is reading, if you’ve never been taught the alphabet (it’s hard and we get emotional doing hard things).

    But reading is certainly much easier, and a less emotional activity to perform after receiving the appropriate training. So is walking, driving a car, dressing ourselves, calculating our bills and pretty much everything else we’ve ever done.

    And while “cognitive science” might indicate that opinions will never be swayed by facts, it’s also a statistically valid fact that people learn from their initial mistakes and improve their performance in all cognitive areas with time, practice and the appropriate training.

    And that last statement is certainly no exception to the rule. Are you an exception to the rule, razzlebathbone?

  44. No, I know they’re posers because I can see their biases through all the smoke and mirrors of objectivity they wish to be seen to cultivate.

  45. Liquidself2004 | May 11, 2011 at 1:27 am |

    The “fact” remains that the scientific community itself is the best and possibly the most documented example of “motivated reasoning” – Mr. Thomas Kuhn I believe had something to say on the subject.

  46. Anonymous | May 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |

    A society built on facts rather than tribal loyalties doesn’t necessarily entail brutal dictatorship. But there are many people out there like yourself who conflate the two, and would therefore prefer extinction to living in harmony with other human beings. It’s the main reason I’m not optimistic about our chances.

  47. Anonymous | May 11, 2011 at 6:59 am |

    I’m sure we’d all like to believe that we are rational beings who change our minds when we are presented with facts that contradict our beliefs, but for most humans it simply isn’t so.

    http://articles.boston.com/2010-07-11/bostonglobe/29324096_1_facts-misinformation-beliefs

    The urge to reject facts that make us feel uncomfortable is not insurmountable, but it is very strong. This discussion is a prime example. Do you think it makes me happy to know that I probably dismiss things on a regular basis simply because they contradict my preconceptions? I do try to be aware of such dissonance, and perhaps such awareness can help people to be more rational. But plugging our ears and singing “LA LA LA I AM REALLY RATIONAL DESPITE EVIDENCE THAT I’M PROBABLY NOT” won’t help. The first step in overcoming our limitations lies in understanding them. The problem is that most people are unwilling to go even that far. And again, this discussion provides a fine demonstration of this.

  48. Anonymous | May 11, 2011 at 7:15 am |

    All right, then. By that reasoning, you should go on with your life confident in the assumption that you are a rational being whose perceptions and judgment are not affected by preconception or prejudice. You can also confidently assert that advertising and peer pressure don’t affect you at all. I’m sure this all feels very nice for you. Very comforting.

    Best of luck to you.

  49. @razzlebathbone:disqus

    The main reason I’m not optimistic about our chances is that good people like you will always end up committing or excusing atrocities in the name of “a society built on facts”. Read Dostoevsky and get back to me.

  50. Anonymous | May 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    Well razzlebathbone.

    You did say “the urge to reject facts that make us feel uncomfortable is not insurmountable, but it is very strong.” I agree with you.

    Life is hard. Worthwhile things are hard to accomplish. Being rational is hard to do and requires effort.

    As for the Boston Globe article you cited, Thomas Jefferson certainly did write that “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” However the Globe article seems to have left out much of the context for that statement surrounding Jefferson’s ideas on education.

    In essence, Jefferson had faith in the “common man” and his ability to elect wise and virtuous leaders but only if that common man received the proper education and training. Check out http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/ideas/edhistory.html and http://www.newfoundations.com/GALLERY/Jefferson.html to learn more.

    Jefferson also thought that being rational is hard and required education.

    I couldn’t help but notice that neither the article cited above or the Boston Globe article you cited makes any statements about the education of the people being studied or about their ability to independently verify statements made by the research team as to accuracy (the Globe study does makes statements about the economic class of the study subjects which might provide a sense of the study biases and methodology to those capable of looking closely).

    The Boston Globe article even states that if you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to listen to opposing viewpoints but if you feel insecure or threatened, you’re less likely to do and suggests that this can be improved with the appropriate training.

    So we both agree with Jefferson and the Boston Globe cited study that, while difficult to learn, the ability to accept facts that make us feel uncomfortable is not impossible or insurmountable.

    So tell me razzlebathbone, are you going to just sit there feeling uncomfortable, or are you going to dismiss what you yourself have stated is possible or are you going to take the steps needed to learn and grow?

    You just gotta know the direction I’m leaning towards.

  51. Are you guys wearing white lab coats when you type your lengthy ponderous profound comments here? Because that makes everything more convincing. And sexy.

  52. Are you guys wearing white lab coats when you type your lengthy ponderous profound comments here? Because that makes everything more convincing. And sexy.

  53. superfluous | May 12, 2011 at 5:20 am |

    the existence of obviously flawed science provides non-scientists with obviously flawed arguments against actually significant scientific achievements. this happens in two different ways:
    a) belief in crap science which is inconsistent with really awesome science leads to rejection of the latter
    b) non-belief in crap science leads to rejection of science in general, with no distinction between crap/awesome

    occasionally, this seems to happen to scientists, as well, which would perhaps not be the case if Science actually was an entity or a thing, rather than an ideal. one of several, i might add..

  54. superfluous | May 12, 2011 at 1:20 am |

    the existence of obviously flawed science provides non-scientists with obviously flawed arguments against actually significant scientific achievements. this happens in two different ways:
    a) belief in crap science which is inconsistent with really awesome science leads to rejection of the latter
    b) non-belief in crap science leads to rejection of science in general, with no distinction between crap/awesome

    occasionally, this seems to happen to scientists, as well, which would perhaps not be the case if Science actually was an entity or a thing, rather than an ideal. one of several, i might add..

  55. Mindy, you sound like an arrogant person.

  56. Anonymous | May 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    A nice sentiment, but the article cites research that stated the conclusions you quoted years before Fox News became the cancer on the idiot box that we all love to hate.

  57. Anonymous | May 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    Atrocities unlike those committed by, say, societies built atop beliefs that members of which refuse to question? Or discuss without treating the dialogue as if the participants were discussing the prospect of genocide over tea, for that matter?

  58. If you tell me which languages you ran that through on “Google Translate”, I might have a better chance of understanding your point. I doubt it, but it’s worth a shot.

  59. Nephilim1958 | May 16, 2011 at 1:30 am |

    Well that’s all nicely put but…

    Oh, you wanted me to continue?  Ok, evolution works for animals, but not for people.  I have heard estimates of as high as a million year jump.  You see, if you follow the time progression, how fast things progress in a natural tempo, then all of a sudden we human primates lept forward in “one day” an inconceivable amount, an unheard of amount, to be honest an unbelievable amount.  What makes it even more difficult is the “fact” that according to Darwin’s theory these changes are supposed to help our survival.  What sort of help would it have bee to primitive man to lose approx. 40% body strength and 80% body hair overnight?

    Now this could only make sense if something out of the ordinary happened, like…  Oh, I don’t know, but look over here in ancient Sumeria.  What’s that tablet say Mr. Sitchin?  Sounds like genetic manipulation and the story is eerily similar to the Adam and Eve story?

    But then…

    David Icke says that Mr. Sitchin is a reptilian shape-shifter and so are the ancient Mesopotamian gods .  But then David does say a lot of stuff

    Welcome to the rabbit hole.  First one to the bottom is supposed to shout, and it’s been only quiet so far.

    Hehe

  60. Nephilim1958 | May 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm |

    Well that’s all nicely put but…

    Oh, you wanted me to continue?  Ok, evolution works for animals, but not for people.  I have heard estimates of as high as a million year jump.  You see, if you follow the time progression, how fast things progress in a natural tempo, then all of a sudden we human primates lept forward in “one day” an inconceivable amount, an unheard of amount, to be honest an unbelievable amount.  What makes it even more difficult is the “fact” that according to Darwin’s theory these changes are supposed to help our survival.  What sort of help would it have bee to primitive man to lose approx. 40% body strength and 80% body hair overnight?

    Now this could only make sense if something out of the ordinary happened, like…  Oh, I don’t know, but look over here in ancient Sumeria.  What’s that tablet say Mr. Sitchin?  Sounds like genetic manipulation and the story is eerily similar to the Adam and Eve story?

    But then…

    David Icke says that Mr. Sitchin is a reptilian shape-shifter and so are the ancient Mesopotamian gods .  But then David does say a lot of stuff

    Welcome to the rabbit hole.  First one to the bottom is supposed to shout, and it’s been only quiet so far.

    Hehe

    • Eightamps | May 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm |

       No, you have the theory of evolution wrong. A lot of people misinterpret the concept of “survival of the fittest” to be “survival of the best”, as in species evolve to make absolute utilitarian use of their surroundings. I.E. early man would not only be homo sapien-level intelligent, but also covered in hair and insanely strong.

      The first problem is that the body has a limited number of resources, and it allots those resources in various ways. Growing hair and excess musculature takes energy, energy that is also needed for the operation of an enormous brain. So adaptations are kind of like a zero sum game; you gain in some areas, you lose in others. If your brain is good enough to figure out things like clothes in lieu of hair, then it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the hair, you will survive long enough to pass on your genes.

      The second problem with your idea is that evolution is not sentient, it doesn’t pick the best adaptations. Organisms survive long enough to produce new organisms that carry their traits, all the good ones and all the bad ones. The ones that are too dysfunctional in their environment to not survive eventually all die out, leaving those that are marginally more ‘fit’ than the extinct ones. But they may still carry bizarre and/or harmful genes along with them as they evolve. I.E. it doesn’t matter if man’s ancestors having hair was in a utilitarian sense the ‘best’ evolutionary choice– the ones without hair and with big brains survived. They were fit ‘enough’.

      I am not sure what is so hard to believe that humans evolved to the point we are at now all that quickly. Of all the species that exist now, only a handful existed in their current form before human beings. There were no pandas or orangutans or dolphins or whales, either. These are arguably all pretty spectacular creatures, yet we regard humans are impossibly special, but without a good argument why.

    • Evolution happens for all life, including humans. In actuality evolution happens at such a steady rate that we can actually track mutation over time. This mutation rate has been observed longitudinally (over a long period of time) and has been proven as a valid observation. These observations, that mutation occurs steadily allows us to apply regression models on dna mutation and all regression models of human dna support our current evolutionary model or ones similar to it.

      As for mutations supposing to help our survival, that just isn’t so, mutations happen regardless of our ability to survive, sometimes a new mutation allows us to survive better, sometimes it has a negligable effect on survivability, and sometimes a mutation has a negative effect on survivability. When a negative mutation occurs, a species can continue to survive by changing the nitch it occupies (from the trees to the ground so to speak), or a negative mutation can result in the death of the carriers of the mutation, leaving an unmutated population.
      There are so many factors that effect the resiliency of a mutation, factors that we can observe in the world around us. Let’s say a mutation is a weakness in a particular habitat and that habitat is removed/destroyed forcing this creature into another habitat for which this mutation is a strength…just one of many examples.

       
      Side note,  recently researchers have sequenced the DNA of the neanderthal, a hominid, and by dna evidence not human. What this creature did have is what is known as the Fox2 gene as well as other genes used for speech and speech comprehension in human.

    • David Icke is a dumbass who does more harm than good to the Ancient Astronaut theory. Sitchin is a genius, and I believe his work can be taken as gospel.

  61.  If its stating the obvious, why are so many people arguing….hmmmm does it violate their personal belief system, even though it is an ‘obvious’ truth.  Science at least tries to find truths, they can be wrong.  Other groups are never wrong, even when the truths prove it….

  62.  If its stating the obvious, why are so many people arguing….hmmmm does it violate their personal belief system, even though it is an ‘obvious’ truth.  Science at least tries to find truths, they can be wrong.  Other groups are never wrong, even when the truths prove it….

  63.  Ah you can see through it all….that is objectivity or your superior skills and knowledge speaking.

  64.  Ah you can see through it all….that is objectivity or your superior skills and knowledge speaking.

  65. Anonymous | May 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    I would take issue with Hadrian999’s comment and say that the greatest strengh of science is that it doesn’t provide answers. The very idea of needing an answer is culturally new, perhaps arriving post-Christianity. Prior belief systems–especially ancient Egypt—were very happy with ambiguities; e.g., life was first created in Memphis by the god Ptah, speaking & thinking reality into being; or it was first created by the god Atum masturbabing air and mositure, or in Thebes, Hermopolis etc. Each was unique, the oldest and the correct one. And even Louis Carroll found comfort in “Six Imposible Things before Breakfast”. I find great strenght in actively knowing how complex our astounding world is; how it functions and how we must always ask questions; always opening new thoughts. How things fit together is at times overwhelming. BUT THEY DO. And as long as we are aware that we are always biased and always don’t know THE anwer, then perhaps AN anwer is good enough for a while.

  66. KewGardensNYC | May 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    I would take issue with Hadrian999’s comment and say that the greatest strengh of science is that it doesn’t provide answers. The very idea of needing an answer is culturally new, perhaps arriving post-Christianity. Prior belief systems–especially ancient Egypt—were very happy with ambiguities; e.g., life was first created in Memphis by the god Ptah, speaking & thinking reality into being; or it was first created by the god Atum masturbabing air and mositure, or in Thebes, Hermopolis etc. Each was unique, the oldest and the correct one. And even Louis Carroll found comfort in “Six Imposible Things before Breakfast”. I find great strenght in actively knowing how complex our astounding world is; how it functions and how we must always ask questions; always opening new thoughts. How things fit together is at times overwhelming. BUT THEY DO. And as long as we are aware that we are always biased and always don’t know THE anwer, then perhaps AN anwer is good enough for a while.

  67. Stop pissing all over the anti-Evolution crowd, okay?  At least they’re actually doing something to roll humanity back to a pack of dookie-slinging tree monkeys.  The rest of ye are just all talk. 

  68. Stop pissing all over the anti-Evolution crowd, okay?  At least they’re actually doing something to roll humanity back to a pack of dookie-slinging tree monkeys.  The rest of ye are just all talk. 

  69. superfluous | May 17, 2011 at 4:03 am |

    seems obvious to me, too

  70. superfluous | May 17, 2011 at 4:03 am |

    seems obvious to me, too

  71. GodisNonsense | May 18, 2011 at 9:32 pm |

    You are absolutely bitter and disillusioned with human potential to overcome obsticles, for the right reasons. How sad. 

  72. GodisNonsense | May 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm |

    obstacles (no edit button, and I’m quick to push buttons.)  

  73. GodisNonsense | May 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm |

    It seems to me the ongoing debate here can be summarized by the definitions of the words “optimist” and “pessimist”, as they apply to humanist intellectuals. 

  74. Anonymous | May 18, 2011 at 10:26 pm |

    No subjective terms are required here.

    It is a known fact that people can learn to be rational, in much the same way as they can learn to read, calculate mathematics problems, talk, walk, dress, tie their own shoe laces or do any of the other items that adults do during the course of a typical day.

    For the cited studies to note that some people aren’t rational and then assume that no one will ever be so is akin to noting that small children can’t walk and talk and concluding that they will therefore never be able to do so even when they get older, simply because they can’t now.

  75. Eightamps | May 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm |

     No, you have the theory of evolution wrong. A lot of people misinterpret the concept of “survival of the fittest” to be “survival of the best”, as in species evolve to make absolute utilitarian use of their surroundings. I.E. early man would not only be homo sapien-level intelligent, but also covered in hair and insanely strong.

    The first problem is that the body has a limited number of resources, and it allots those resources in various ways. Growing hair and excess musculature takes energy, energy that is also needed for the operation of an enormous brain. So adaptations are kind of like a zero sum game; you gain in some areas, you lose in others. If your brain is good enough to figure out things like clothes in lieu of hair, then it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the hair, you will survive long enough to pass on your genes.

    The second problem with your idea is that evolution is not sentient, it doesn’t pick the best adaptations. Organisms survive long enough to produce new organisms that carry their traits, all the good ones and all the bad ones. The ones that are too dysfunctional in their environment to not survive eventually all die out, leaving those that are marginally more ‘fit’ than the extinct ones. But they may still carry bizarre and/or harmful genes along with them as they evolve. I.E. it doesn’t matter if man’s ancestors having hair was in a utilitarian sense the ‘best’ evolutionary choice– the ones without hair and with big brains survived. They were fit ‘enough’.

    I am not sure what is so hard to believe that humans evolved to the point we are at now all that quickly. Of all the species that exist now, only a handful existed in their current form before human beings. There were no pandas or orangutans or dolphins or whales, either. These are arguably all pretty spectacular creatures, yet we regard humans are impossibly special, but without a good argument why.

  76. Eightamps | May 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm |

     I understood his point perfectly. Perhaps you should elevate your reading level above, say, 6th grade? Then you might understand what people mean when they use words with more than 2 syllables.

  77. Evolution happens for all life, including humans. In actuality evolution happens at such a steady rate that we can actually track mutation over time. This mutation rate has been observed longitudinally (over a long period of time) and has been proven as a valid observation. These observations, that mutation occurs steadily allows us to apply regression models on dna mutation and all regression models of human dna support our current evolutionary model or ones similar to it.

    As for mutations supposing to help our survival, that just isn’t so, mutations happen regardless of our ability to survive, sometimes a new mutation allows us to survive better, sometimes it has a negligable effect on survivability, and sometimes a mutation has a negative effect on survivability. When a negative mutation occurs, a species can continue to survive by changing the nitch it occupies (from the trees to the ground so to speak), or a negative mutation can result in the death of the carriers of the mutation, leaving an unmutated population.
    There are so many factors that effect the resiliency of a mutation, factors that we can observe in the world around us. Let’s say a mutation is a weakness in a particular habitat and that habitat is removed/destroyed forcing this creature into another habitat for which this mutation is a strength…just one of many examples.

     
    Side note,  recently researchers have sequenced the DNA of the neanderthal, a hominid, and by dna evidence not human. What this creature did have is what is known as the Fox2 gene as well as other genes used for speech and speech comprehension in human.

  78. Anonymous | May 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm |

    *** why a ‘persuasion theory’ of reasoning is unpersuasive

    If reasoning about nature or human action were used only to persuade; then, there would only be successful persuasion and unsuccessful persuasion. Not even the authors would want to claim that their theory of rationality was persuasive but untrue.

    To conflate being *persuaded that a statement is true* with *a statement’s being true* is a blatant conceptual mistake. No matter how many persons over the years have been literally indoctrinated by a xian culture to a belief that “Christ rose from the dead” — that statement is factually false.

    Persuading is not a proxy for determining the truth or falsity of a statement. To imagine otherwise plays directly into the unreasonable techniques of xian apologetics.

    *Knowledge can only be a public object.* It is not a psychological (brain) state. No (empirical) statement can be knowledge without publicly available evidence based on legitimate methods for its being true.

    • Religion and morality therefore contain no knowledge. No matter how persuasive their fallacious arguments. There are no experts “on God” — there are no experts on morality. (That’s why the so-called socratic search for wisdom was not wrong factually, but conceptually flawed.)

    Most persons must rely upon information which comes from relevant experts who have made the methodologically appropriate tests. And this need exposes everyone to liars and deliberate falsifiers who debase the hard-earned golden coin of knowledge — like modern evolutionary theory — for their own gain (money and power) and to our collective loss. MET is true no matter how many damned fundies try to persuade us otherwise.

    • The god of theologians bears scant resemblance to the ill-tempered, immoral, misogynist in the canons of the Big-3 Monster Theisms. To emphasize: there are no experts “on God”. No theologian can save “God” from “him”self. No need to waste time on pointless theological gamesmanship. Theology is fifth-rate fan fiction.

    Only religion and mores easily survive in cultures without well-grounded methods for establishing knowledge claims. Science and Law operate successfully using Freud’s ‘reality principle.’ Mores and religion are cultural atavisms given over to indoctrination, paternalist norms, and the principle of ‘wish fulfillment’. Without formal systems of rule-governed method and rule-governed review, Science and Law would disappear.

    • There are no religions, only religious institutions. Manned by self-anointed god proxies who have no rational methods for discerning false from true. Who offer only illogic (apologetics) and make authoritarian demands (theo-fascism). Those who counsel intolerance and hatred, violence and murder as legal and godly acts.

    They would persuade us to believe and to do evil. Damnable liars.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  79. rick_povero | May 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    *** why a ‘persuasion theory’ of reasoning is unpersuasive

    If reasoning about nature or human action were used only to persuade; then, there would only be successful persuasion and unsuccessful persuasion. Not even the authors would want to claim that their theory of rationality was persuasive but untrue.

    To conflate being *persuaded that a statement is true* with *a statement’s being true* is a blatant conceptual mistake. No matter how many persons over the years have been literally indoctrinated by a xian culture to a belief that “Christ rose from the dead” — that statement is factually false.

    Persuading is not a proxy for determining the truth or falsity of a statement. To imagine otherwise plays directly into the unreasonable techniques of xian apologetics.

    *Knowledge can only be a public object.* It is not a psychological (brain) state. No (empirical) statement can be knowledge without publicly available evidence based on legitimate methods for its being true.

    • Religion and morality therefore contain no knowledge. No matter how persuasive their fallacious arguments. There are no experts “on God” — there are no experts on morality. (That’s why the so-called socratic search for wisdom was not wrong factually, but conceptually flawed.)

    Most persons must rely upon information which comes from relevant experts who have made the methodologically appropriate tests. And this need exposes everyone to liars and deliberate falsifiers who debase the hard-earned golden coin of knowledge — like modern evolutionary theory — for their own gain (money and power) and to our collective loss. MET is true no matter how many damned fundies try to persuade us otherwise.

    • The god of theologians bears scant resemblance to the ill-tempered, immoral, misogynist in the canons of the Big-3 Monster Theisms. To emphasize: there are no experts “on God”. No theologian can save “God” from “him”self. No need to waste time on pointless theological gamesmanship. Theology is fifth-rate fan fiction.

    Only religion and mores easily survive in cultures without well-grounded methods for establishing knowledge claims. Science and Law operate successfully using Freud’s ‘reality principle.’ Mores and religion are cultural atavisms given over to indoctrination, paternalist norms, and the principle of ‘wish fulfillment’. Without formal systems of rule-governed method and rule-governed review, Science and Law would disappear.

    • There are no religions, only religious institutions. Manned by self-anointed god proxies who have no rational methods for discerning false from true. Who offer only illogic (apologetics) and make authoritarian demands (theo-fascism). Those who counsel intolerance and hatred, violence and murder as legal and godly acts.

    They would persuade us to believe and to do evil. Damnable liars.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  80. David Icke is a dumbass who does more harm than good to the Ancient Astronaut theory. Sitchin is a genius, and I believe his work can be taken as gospel.

  81. David Icke is a dumbass who does more harm than good to the Ancient Astronaut theory. Sitchin is a genius, and I believe his work can be taken as gospel.

  82. I once had an argument with a girl who claimed to be a “conservative, catholic republican” When I asked her if she believed in the possibility of life outside of our planet, she said “No, because I have a brain.” These people actually BELIEVE that they are smarter than nasa scientists who are 100% sure that there is life out there. They have found fossilized microbial life in meteorites. When I mentioned this, she got ANGRY and refused to continue the conversation. I wish retards like that would just die off so the human race can start making real progress.

  83. I once had an argument with a girl who claimed to be a “conservative, catholic republican” When I asked her if she believed in the possibility of life outside of our planet, she said “No, because I have a brain.” These people actually BELIEVE that they are smarter than nasa scientists who are 100% sure that there is life out there. They have found fossilized microbial life in meteorites. When I mentioned this, she got ANGRY and refused to continue the conversation. I wish retards like that would just die off so the human race can start making real progress.

  84. see kpler is praying:”ya allah! may i straighten my wit unto ya”

  85. see kpler is praying:”ya allah! may i straighten my wit unto ya”

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