The old adage is: “a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” Very true, regardless of how true the argument is, which is why those who ‘experience’ events (UFO’s, possession, etc…) are those the hardest to convince that they are in fact wrong. Mass hysteria is a wicked little thing, ain’t it? But, maybe there is scientific reason why people will not give up to logic and reason –
In the annals of denial, it doesn’t get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin’s space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there’s plenty to go around. And since Festinger’s day, 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.
Essentially, it is the ‘theory of motivated reasoning’ which allows us to ‘push threatening information away’ and to ‘pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.’
In other words, because we deem one group of facts and data as untouchable, we will actually fight anything that attempts to do some harm or damage to it because instinctively, when it does damage to that group, we feel that it will damage ourselves.
It is a fascinating article, actually, and helps to understand a wide range of human reactions to science – and faith, for that matter.
It think that it further explains our inability to see gray, as well…
- The Emotional Reasons Behind How We Reason (godlessgirl.com)
- The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science | Mother Jones (amusedartichoke.wordpress.com)
- ‘Motivated reasoning’ and our pre-existing beliefs (cogsciblog.wordpress.com)
- Not just a river (scienceblogs.com)