Welcome back, republic of internet, to the 43rd most obscure blog on the internet!
I remember saying I was going to write about how people justify their beliefs the other day, something that I did four different blogs after instead. But the more I think about it, the more I suspect I’m not really qualified to talk about something so psychological. So be warned that in this blog post I am talking about my experiences, which in all fairness, is a small data set.
As much as I would love to be friends with all of the faithful in the world and be able to talk about this with all of their justifications in mind… well, that’s just not very feasible.
Unfortunately, certain things hold you back from that. Language barriers, travel prices, carbon footprints, oversensitivity, laziness, they all play a role.
From what I have witnessed over the years however, including myself as a prime example, people quite often fall upon beliefs that tend to be seen as irrational because they have been convinced by some piece of evidence that they do not have the baloney detection kit (as Carl Sagan so eloquently put it); to realise it isn’t as strong a piece of evidence for the phenomena than they originally suspect.
If you have never taken an interest in how the brain can deceive itself it’s easy to assume a far greater validity to eyewitness testimony than it actually deserves (and I suppose also if you watch a lot of law shows), it’s hard to justify without that knowledge how so many people could lie about a phenomena, when the truth may be that the many people are not lying at all, but have convinced themselves of a falsehood, rendering their testimony that they saw, for example, objects in the sky, a truth.
It may be true that people fall into irrational beliefs for irrational reasons, but rather more often that many of us may think, the reasons for believing something may be simply rational to an uninformed mind.
This does not mean for an instant that there is any less intelligence there, sometimes those with the strangest beliefs are incredibly intelligent people, but that there is a piece of the logical puzzle that they are missing, and having missed those pieces for many years, it did feel like finally completing a complicated puzzle when alternative viewpoints (which the media had unfortunately never pressed into me, unlike its enthusiasm for the supernatural explanations for these phenomena) were explained and their knowledge seeped into my thick skull.