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Daily Archives: February 13, 2019

What’s the most insanely misguided belief you’ve heard from someone who claims it’s 100% fact?

All of the misguided beliefs I’ve heard share one thing in common: These people are trying to use moral, ethical, or political frameworks to try to model and predict the world. It just doesn’t work that way.

Flat earthers think the world governments are trying to pull a fast one over everybody for nefarious reasons. This means that believing in a flat earth is a moral position; taken in opposition to evil hegemonic powers.

Anti-vaxxers think that Big Pharma is evil. This means that being an anti-vaxxer is a moral position; taken in opposition to evil hegemonic powers.

Chemtrail believers… again, believing in chemtrails is a moral position; taken in opposition to evil hegemonic powers.

9/11 Truthers… again, believing in 9/11 truth is a moral position; taken in opposition to evil hegemonic powers.

Moon landing hoaxers… again, believing in the moon landing hoax is a moral position; taken in opposition to evil hegemonic powers.

That’s why I consider them “misguided”. Moral theories are prescriptions for how people should behave, not descriptions of the world. Chances are, if you’re using a moral theory to try to predict how the world works, you will not only be wrong, but you will refuse any evidence that doesn’t fit in your moral framework because allowing this evidence to change your mind is “immoral”.

Indeed, all of these are oppressor vs. the oppressed narratives. When used to model the world, they will lead to delusion, since any evidence or model that doesn’t fit into the oppressor/oppressed narrative necessarily undermines it… which gives power to the oppressor and therefore this evidence or model is immoral.

Evolutionary biology? Things like dinosaur bones were put in the Earth by Satan (i.e., an evil hegemon) to turn you into an atheist (i.e., being an atheist is immoral). Psychology and psychiatry? A ploy by body Thetans to keep you in bondage to Xenu’s hegemony. Barack Obama birthism? A ploy by evil democrats (i.e., an evil hegemony) to put a Muslim (an immoral religion) in the White House. Evolutionary psychology? A ruse created by white heteropatriarchy (an evil hegemony) to keep women, non-straight, trans, and people of color down.

Using your morals to inform empirical reality is the root of almost all human cognitive biases. Moral intuitions come first, strategic reasoning comes after[1][2][3]. The biggest clashes between morality and empirical reality result in the most tenaciously held yet misguided beliefs, and will almost always be the cases where the scientific method is used to study and uncover the nature of humanity.

I don’t have to tell you that quite a few people — secular or religious — who use their personal moral intuitions (quite literally just another way to say “their cognitive biases”) to model the world think that the scientific method is immoral.

Footnotes

[1] Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind: Robert Kurzban: 9780691154398: Amazon.com: Books

[2] The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion: Jonathan Haidt: 9780307455772: Amazon.com: Books

[3] The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life 1, Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson – Amazon.com

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Posted by on February 13, 2019 in cognitive science, morality, Quora answers, religion

 
 
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