Thursday, November 05, 2009

Your own truth might be wrong

I often hear people telling me that they stutter because X or Y. If I do not agree, they reply: How do you dare! How can you know myself better than I know myself. I know my own truth. It is a logical fallacy. It is clear that I cannot deny someone's experiences as a person who stutter: how he felt, what people told him, when he stutters more or less, and so on. And, I will never be able to completely understand them all. However, an interpretation of these experiences weaved into a theory on why they stutter is a completely different story. They glue the pieces of experiences together, but so can anyone else and they might come up with a different interpretation. We humans are easily fooled. A smile can stick as a pleasant experience in one's mind as a sign of sympathy from the stranger, but your friend's interpretation is that of a smile of embarrassment that you are stuttering.

It is very important to separate experience from interpretation of experience. You are the owner of your experiences, but not of the interpretation of your experiences for you could be wrong.


Ora said...

The whole issue of belief - why do people believe the things they do - is fascinating and broad.

I'd be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this.

You often debunk people's beliefs with facts or science or logic - and I thoroughly agree with you on this. And I think this is probably your principal interest: to identify truth and deny falsity. But this does not really get to the question of why people believe the things they do, which are sometimes false and sometimes true.

So instead of your usual approach - to argue, typically convincingly, that such-and-such a belief is wrong, it would an interesting intellectual exercise to suspend skepticism, to temporarily put aside the negativity which comes from your conviction that that what they believe is false, and - simply for the sake of discussion and inquiry - to adopt an initially sympathetic view of people's beliefs.

Then ask the question: how did they come to this belief? What's the "belief system" or system of thought and reasoning which supports such a belief? Why do people hold certain beliefs in view of factual evidence to the contrary? Why are people susceptible to non-rational or even irrational claims? What are the psychological or emotional reasons why people hold too illogical beliefs?

An unfounded belief is not "merely" crazy - i.e., inexplicable and not worth taking 2 second to think about; rather, a person holds a belief is for a reason(s). What are those reasons?

To be clear - I'm not suggesting backing off from your rational and scientific approach, nor am I suggesting that you be open-minded about the possibility of unsupportable claims. I definitely agree with your rationalist approach. I'm rather suggesting an inquiry into the human mind: why do people believe the things they do, what types of unfounded beliefs are attractive to people and why, and most interestingly, why do people believe false things, and unfounded (unproven) things. Why are people attracted to "alternative medicine" and the like? Why do certain ideas/beliefs/claims gain currency, become popular, even in the absence of evidence.

It may be that you're not much interested in this topic - the workings of the human mind.. But if you are, I'm certain that you'd have some insightful and interesting things to say, and I'd like to hear them.

Ora said...

TOM - I had a browser problem and might have posted that message twice. Something funny happened the first time, and I didnt' want to lose it so I posted it again. If you see two, they're both the same and you can delete one.


Anonymous said...

My "belief system" is not in any way like "the stuttering brain"... "The stuttering brain" most often is insultive to my way of thinking and attempts to bully and embarass others when there is disagreement with"the stuttering brain". Reeks of a totally arrogant person, when in the end, "the stuttering brain" is just another of us who stutters.

When it comes to processing what the "the stuttering brain" blogs about and attempts to bully people who stutter into what is "truth" to him as being the only way to look at it, I am quite sure - at least to me - that Ora has hit the ball out of the park - is right on - regarding suggesting the skill set "the stuttering brain" should attempt - and needs desperately - to develop to be legit.

I wish I possessed Ora's tactfulness in conveying the very idea that he so gracefully did.

Tom Weidig said...

To Anomyous:

I know the type of brain you have. They come up with a belief system based on fallacious thinking, lack of scientific understanding and cognitive biases, and then get upset when someone tells them that they are simply wrong.

And then they get insulted. Why? Because their ideas and beliefs are part of who they are. No serious professional scientist or philosopher ever get insulted, but they are HAPPY to hear a different point of view. They might not agree and they are happy to drop wrong ideas.

Whatever the PC people tells you, you are not entitled to have your beliefs if they are factually wrong, or inconsistent with science.

Science is not about diplomacy.


Tom Weidig said...

To Ora,

>> It may be that you're not much interested in this topic

I have a finite amount of time and resources. And I am not that interested.

My blog is just about my ideas.

If you wanne write something about the topic, let me know and I post it.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

"Science is not about diplomacy"

Being Human is...

to anonymous said...

Being Human doesn't cure anyone. Science does.

Jemma said...

I've got to agree that sometimes it's not just the message that causes offence, it's the delivery.

Science itself may not be about diplomacy, but the implementation of valuable scientific findings most certainly is linked to diplomacy and good manners cost nothing.

Good medicine is intrinsically linked with good communication. A good bedside manner can make the world of difference to a patient's response to treatment.

On one hand a scientist can insist that a patient should be less emotional about things and get on with things. On the other hand, a wise scientist will accept that they are dealing with people, and not machines, and that normal people will react emotionally. A wise scientist will consider this and take this into account.

Csaba said...

everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, just not their own facts...which reminds me, I saw an awesome T-shirt the other day

"everyone is entitled to my opinion"