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'facts don't work'

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'facts don't work'

Post  YSPR on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:30 pm

Interesting article about a book that touches on similar issue within the Bigfoot community, both believer and skeptic.


http://t.co/fkUzAfzU

Exploring the minds of Holocaust deniers and UFO-spotters who deny common sense Journalist Will Storr's new book explores the mindset of a former Holocaust denier, a creationist, and UFO-spotters, and questions why for some people 'facts don't work'.

Will Storr is a man who deals in facts. As a journalist of more than 10 years, undeniable evidence and rational data are his bread and butter. There are groups of people, however, who deny the irrefutable; who see cold, hard facts as mistruths or simply inconvenient. Whether they are Holocaust deniers, creationists, or those who believe in UFOs - there are plenty out there whose view of the world defies centuries of scientific evidence. So why are there intelligent, seemingly rational people like this, who are capable of such unreasonable logic? The question is the subject of Storr's new book, which explores the 'beliefs of non-believers'. Put simply, he wants to know why 'facts don't work'.

He takes a tour of a Nazi death camp, goes on a UFO-spotting trip, and even a fossil excavation with a renowned creationist, all in the name of investigating outlandish belief systems. Storr studies not only the thought process behind conspiracy theories, but also the unwavering rationalism of their opponents. His result, 'The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science', has been described as hilarious and gripping in equal measure, owing to the characters he meets along the way.

Some of the 'heretics' are harmless oddballs, including a woman who says during a UFO-spotting session: "If a UFO lands, you must wait until it's stopped completely before approaching."Only invite the ETs to come closer if it is absolutely safe to do so. If anyone gets zapped, the first-aid kit is in the back of my tent."

On his quest to explore nonsensical logic, he also tours a Nazi death camp with former Holocaust denier David Irving.
Irving proclaims that a gas chamber they visit in Majdanek, Poland, is actually 'a mock-up of a gas chamber'.
Pointing around the room, Irving identifies a door with a handle on the inside, insisting Jews could have got out and that the site did not see any mass murder after all. There is a door with a handle, but it has no opening mechanism and bolts on the other side - facts which are conveniently ignored by Irving.

Earlier on he meets noted creationist preacher John Mackay, who insists that fossils show no record of evolution and that the 9/11 attacks were God 'punishing' a sinful America. Storr, 38, explained to Yahoo! News: "This man went to university and is clearly an intelligent person, so how does he come to these ideas? "He says he is a creationist and can feel God in his body - and the book goes along with that idea. "Despite all the evidence, no matter how convincing it is, he assumes it cannot be right."

Storr admits that some of the beliefs he came across were more offensive than others, but says 'confirmation bias' plays a large role in how we form our views. This means that many people subconsciously only choose evidence which supports their views, while selectively rejecting evidence which goes against them. Confirmation bias, he says, relates to the neurological 'hero maker' that we all share. Storr believes we are all driven by an inner narrative, 'where we are struggling through our days to make better lives for ourselves'.

He adds: "Our brain populates this idea with 'heroes' who support our views and 'villains' in our lives who we demonise - it's a very black and white process. This is the world we live in - the brain is a storyteller." It is not just the likes of UFO-spotters and creationists who are susceptible to confirmation bias, however.

Storr notes that rationalists can be just as inflexible in their judgments as anyone else. He attends a conference of 'sceptics', who insist there is 'no evidence for homeopathy'. When he asks the sceptics what scientific literature on homeopathy they've read to support these claims, many admit they haven't read any. This isn't to say that homeopathy isn't legitimate - merely that many 'rationalists' dismiss it because they don't want to believe it in the first place.

It is the same principle - Storr says we don't base our opinions on evidence, we form opinions first, then seek evidence which backs them up. Stories, Storr says, are a powerful driving force in shaping our beliefs. As most of our thought processes are done unconsciously, this kind of natural irrationality sees us create narratives which shape beliefs. "Stories completely control our understanding of the world," Storr says. "You rarely read news reports based only on facts, you see stories which owe a lot to fiction - many are written around a narrative. "It's mainly a book about stories - the ones these people are telling me, and how our whole lives are imbued with stories."
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Re: 'facts don't work'

Post  CMcMillan on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:52 pm

Yes basically it is the belief that ones truth is from a certain point of View.

Luke: Obi-Wan? Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.
Obi-Wan: Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.
Luke: "A certain point of view"?
Obi-Wan: Luke, you will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.
— Return of the Jedi
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Re: 'facts don't work'

Post  YSPR on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:56 pm

Sheldon Cooper logic, I’m good with that.
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Re: 'facts don't work'

Post  Green911 on Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:32 am

One also gets their beliefs from how they are raised and who they are raised by. So others point of view would affect out point of view also.

Good info, thanks. elephant
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Re: 'facts don't work'

Post  paul830 on Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:51 am

That's a great goal. To be free and live without bias. It isn't at all possible to do really. The only thing you can do is try and recognize the biases that already exist in yourself and throw off the new ones that form.

To think clearly you need as few biases as possible. Too often in my life I've encountered situations where what was assumed was not at all the reality. Sometimes what was true was actually the opposite from what I'd assumed. A paradigm shift in thinking.

Having a strong opinion can make you more entrenched to defend that position in the face of all evidence to the contrary. People are stubborn and will defend themselves when they are told that they're wrong. Say you're wrong to someone and they often will get worse. You see it on this forum all the time.

I was fortunate to be raised in a family that had very few biases. My parents were people who observed and sought to understand without judgement. I adopted this trait early on but over the years managed to form quite a few biases on my own. I began to recognize that ignorance creates bias. When I recognize my own I get rid of it. Then I create another bias. The brain is a bias machine.

We are living in a culture that throws bias at us on a constant basis. The media is a great bias machine. It only has one or two sides and those that are propagated aren't helping anyone. They are keeping people at odds. It's inherent in the system. So is 'picking sides fast'. This is great for everyone to 'fight-fight-fight'. Bad learned trait. It seems to be encouraged and taught everywhere.

I remember a story about bias and paradigm shifts I read years ago.

A man was sitting on a subway trying to read the paper and there were several kids that were running around making a racket not allowing him to do this. He was tired after working all day and just wanted to relax for 5 minutes. He looked over at these kid's Father who was just sitting there reading a paper himself. Just oblivious to it all. The 1st man thought ' He's just one of these people who don't care about others. Can't or won't control his children, in his own blissful world of ignorance. That's the problem with the world today. It's all me, me. me. I'm first, who cares about other people? '
As one of the kids bumped into him he decides ' That's it, this guy's going to be straightened out on how to have some care and consideration for others! ' He steps up to the man and says ' Excuse me sir '. The father looks at him and he can tell that the man looked very sad, confused and surprised. Man 1 asks ' Are these your children? ' The 2nd man replies ' Yes, they are '. The 1st man says ' Well do you not notice that they are running around and disturbing people? ' The father replies ' I'm very sorry, you see my wife died suddenly a couple of days ago and I've taken a few days off work. I'm taking them to my sister's place to stay temporarily while I make arrangements for her funeral. My wife could always manage the kids better than I can. I'm just glad to see that they can find a moment to be happy in all of this but you're right, I don't want to annoy people. I'll call them over and get them to sit down. I'm sorry.' The 1st man replied ' You don't have to be. I am sorry. ' This is a paradigm shift based on understanding the full scope of the situation. An extreme about-face took place, based on knowing more than what was known.

Now, this story may be viewed as possibly melodramatic but this is an example of a situation that could happen. Many people have experiences that we know nothing about. Even when we think we might know something, we really don't know much at all. Our biases keep us locked behind our own illusion and constantly defending our ignorance. Combine it with a strong will and it just gets worse.

The narratives we create define who we are but we don't really need defining, we need true observation. The 'Tabula rasa' as near as we can get. It can't happen but the benefits from trying, I believe, allow you an occasional glimpse of what is possible as much as what isn't.

A paradigm shift in science or a scientific revolution often occurs and throws the whole thing upside down. It's occasionally necessary.

You might be asking what side of the fence am I on exactly? Neither I hope. Hopefully there's be a paradigm shift in this piece of writing.

Great post, very interesting.
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Re: 'facts don't work'

Post  CoolStoryDude on Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:20 pm

I seem to "misremember" a quote from Charles Fort, and until I document it further I will make it my own. Wink
"In order to have any opinion at all, one must ignore something".

So True Believers invest in ungodly amounts of energy in ignoring evidence to the contrary. Their imaginary worlds are far more interesting than most people's, I am sure.

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