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To tell you the truth...

This post on Broad Sunlit Uplands poses an interesting question:
"The irrational certitudes of ideological or religious belief are strangely
and readily accepted and empirical evidence is not even acknowledged. I wonder
what it is in people, which would make them want to believe something to be true
when it is demonstrably false?"

I started thinking about this quite a bit, and recalled some past discussions with Christian acquaintances and friends. (My circle of friends these days seems to lack adequate Christian representation. Oh well.) There a few reasons that I think cause people to believe something that has been proven false.

  1. They have not been exposed to facts that might disprove their beliefs. The lack of exposure may be due to limited availability of resources (unlikely), or refusal to pursue the facts (more likely).
  2. Dismissal of the facts available and presented as "propaganda".
  3. Acceptance/analysis of facts might cause a person to rethink their beliefs, which can be difficult for many people. It is not easy to leave one's comfort zone.
  4. Pride. Changing one's stance typically means that the previous stance was flawed, and it is hard for many to endure such a pride-swallowing experience.
  5. Facts can be twisted to support virtually any point of view.

The preceeding reasons are actually all interrelated and can be condensed to stubbornness, ignorance, or both.

In order to keep this post from getting out of hand, I'll avoid getting into a discussion of subjectivity vs. objectivity. I do, however, acknowledge that one person's disaster can be another's "hard road to success". We'll leave it at that.


  1. FEAR, i think, is the predominant reason. This could be fear of thinking(as you pointed out), fear of being different, fear of being scolded or scofffed at, fear of reprisal as implanted in childhood. To question a widely held [religious] belief may be regarded as weird, antisocial, heretical, satanic, atheistic, socialistic, communistic, etc. People are afraid of being called one of those horrible names(ignorance) or afraid of being ostracized by their fellows.

  2. That's correct. I think I was starting to head in that direction with my third point above, but didn't quite make it there. Fear, in fact, is probably at the root of the first four points.


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