The Science of Why we Don’t believe in Science tagged: , ,

The Science of Why we Don’t believe in Science

Posted by in Intriguing




My gchat last weekend was something along the lines of “According to ABC World News, 42% of Americans, and 67% of Republicans, don’t believe Obama was born in the US.  Are you kidding me?!?”  I was even more astonished by the fact that despite Obama publicly posting his long-version birth certficate, many STILL didn’t believe the facts.  And these people aren’t just dumb people, but powerful and influential people like Donald Trump (even though he is kind of an idiot, too).

In response to my status, my buddy, a neuroscientist who studies behaviors, sent me one of the best articles I’ve read all year…”The Science of Why we Don’t Believe in Science.”  The article compiles a whole history of scientific experiments that relates to our pre-conceived beliefs, and how we will respond to new factual information. Of course they provide a lot of flowery Malcom Gladwell-esque commentary, but it does add an element that makes this such a great article.

The most interesting conclusion that was reached is that when people are given scientifically indisputable evidence that contradicts their previous beliefs, they will actually believe MORE in their previous notions.  They will make retroactive justifications to allow this information to fit their belief, or completely dispell the new fact as false.  Unbelievable, right?

I’ve written previous articles about “what is your belief?” and my proposal that everyone should read the bible, so clearly I have an interest in religion in an academic sense.  I’ve always been so intrigued because I LOVE to talk to people about what they personally believe.  Actually, I’m more interested to understand WHY they believe what they believe.  In my intellectual crusade, I have found that when you really start to question ANYONE about ANY belief they hold as one of their core beliefs, they react as if their back is against the wall, and rather than giving a logical response, they universally respond with “well that’s just what I believe.” I always HATED that response, because it shows to me that you haven’t thought enough about even your strongest of convictions.  I want to hear your logical reasoning.  It’s just a conversation killer.

Unfortunately, this article seems to imply my crusade is a moot point.  Those people are right when they say “well, that’s just what I believe,” and no matter how much logical discussions I can have with them, it’s almost impossible to change their core beliefs.

I would say that I still believe it is possible to sway anyone with logical reasoning, but then again I would only be supporting to conclusion of the piece, right?  Talk about a Catch-22.  Guess I’ll continuing believing what I believe, and you can do the same!