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Beliefs Conform To Cultural Identities

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the I-know-what-I-know dept.

Science 629

DallasMay writes "This article describes an experiment that demonstrates that people don't put as much weight on facts as they do their own belief about how the world is supposed to work. From the article: 'In one experiment, Braman queried subjects about something unfamiliar to them: nanotechnology — new research into tiny, molecule-sized objects that could lead to novel products. "These two groups start to polarize as soon as you start to describe some of the potential benefits and harms," Braman says. The individualists tended to like nanotechnology. The communitarians generally viewed it as dangerous. Both groups made their decisions based on the same information. "It doesn't matter whether you show them negative or positive information, they reject the information that is contrary to what they would like to believe, and they glom onto the positive information," Braman says.'"

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A partial solution: (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268398)

The summary:

"This article describes an experiment that demonstrates that people don't put as much weight on facts as they do their own belief about how the world is supposed to work.

Which is why religion and all other straight-faced magical thinking should be abolished. That would reveal a big chunk of the world's assholes who can no longer point to the cross or to the Qur'an as justification for their actions.

The articles wisely cite valid questions concerning real-life phenominae. That's healthy debate, and it's a sign that hummanity is capable of "moving on". But there still a large number of "my god is better than your god" nyah-nyahs whose idea of healthy debate is killing others who don't agree with them rather than thinking.

Abolishment of religion won't solve all problems, but it has the highest ratio of simplicty-of-suggestion to worldwide-problems-solved.

Re:A partial solution: (4, Insightful)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268440)

Worked out great for the Soviets.

Re:A partial solution: (4, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268698)

Worked out great for the Soviets.

Wow, you're the first right-wing-nutjob I've met who can openly admit that. I'm impressed! You're SO going on my friends list!

Re:A partial solution: (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268446)

>Which is why religion and all other straight-faced magical thinking should be abolished

As if religion is the only place this occurs or the only reason why people think what they think.

I put it to you that some fringes of environmentalism are *exactly* like religions.

--
BMO

Re:A partial solution: (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268510)

The fringes of any *ism are dogmatic, that's why they're on the fringes.

Re:A partial solution: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268956)

i ismed on your girlfriends fringe.

Re:A partial solution: (5, Insightful)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268694)

As if religion is the only place this occurs or the only reason why people think what they think.

You start well, but you don't go far enough. It's not just "fringe environmentalism" and other fringes where this is a problem. It's a pervasive problem throughout human thinking generally, and it is just as likely to impact mainstream science as it is the fringes. To compound the problem, humans are notoriously blind to their own biases, tending to think that their evaluation of matters is rather objective and well-founded, and that any reasonable person should come to the same conclusions. This is why people are inclined to label those with radically different views as either mentally incompetent or maliciously deceptive. These two factors intertwine: most people want to believe they are right, and so selectively see the evidence supporting the hypothesis that they are.

The grandparent post used the term "magical thinking" -- a term that I associate with Dr Wallace Breen from Half Life 2. I submit that "magical thinking" is just a rationalist pejorative applied to the thought processes of those with whom they disagree. In other words, "magical thinking" is what those people do: the people who hold fast to some ridiculous theory. After all, thinks the rationalist, I used evidence and reasoning and came to a totally different conclusion, so their methods must consist of woolly thinking at best.

So long as everyone is just arrogant enough to assume that their own reasoning is pretty darn reliable, this problem will persist. Maybe we should all practice a little more recreational sophistry in the hope that it will teach us to take our own straight-faced in-earnest theories a little less seriously.

Re:A partial solution: (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268760)

To compound the problem, humans are notoriously blind to their own biases, tending to think that their evaluation of matters is rather objective and well-founded, and that any reasonable person should come to the same conclusions.

Or, to put it more briefly, most people have the problem of thinking that "I came to my world view logically and it makes perfect, logical sense to me. Therefore, it must be true and anyone who disagrees is illogical." It's very frustrating to deal with people like that.

Re:A partial solution: (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268822)

So long as everyone is just arrogant enough to assume that their own reasoning is pretty darn reliable, this problem will persist...

I just added rightwingnutjob as a friend because the rest of his comments made sense to me, even if I don't always agree with him. Same with Moryath and a few others.

Maybe we should all practice a little more recreational sophistry in the hope that it will teach us to take our own straight-faced in-earnest theories a little less seriously.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
-- Aristotle

It's all cute when we're on slashdot and we can mentally masturbate all night long. But while there are people knocking on my door tryng to get me to turn to Jesus, people in congress voting for stem-cell research bans, legislators in my country asking to give creationism and "intelligent" design* as much face-time as evolution in science as opposed to philosophy classes, then I can say with a straight face that religion is a problem more than it is a romantic set of ideas; even if its idealogues aren't bombing my busses.

* My nipples, for example.

Re:A partial solution: (3, Insightful)

pengin9 (1595865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268906)

But while there are people knocking on my door tryng to get me to turn to Jesus, people in congress voting for stem-cell research bans, legislators in my country asking to give creationism and "intelligent" design* as much face-time as evolution in science as opposed to philosophy classes, then I can say with a straight face that religion is a problem more than it is a romantic set of ideas; even if its idealogues aren't bombing my busses.

I'd say you've proven the point of this article, your religious beliefs prevent you from accepting alternate arguments based more on your beliefs than actual facts. remember the great song lyrics, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. really I believe there is no way to be completely impartial towards an idea, but if we at least try to view both sides of the argument as fairly as we can, we can at least come to a better and firmer grasp of why we have beliefs in the first place, or hopefully admit our failures and change our beliefs.

Re:A partial solution: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268972)

but if we at least try to view both sides of the argument as fairly as we can

Good, I'll behead your entire family, then I'll convince your kids that I shat the whole world out of my ass so they will grow up to behead somebody else's family. But you can understand, right? Just put yourself in my shoes, hombre. Physics is a tool of the devil. Rush sings the Satanic Verses. Rush, Rushdie, who cares. All tools of the devil.

Re:A partial solution: (4, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268480)

You're right, we must crush the intolerant! If people aren't willing to open their minds to new ideas, we'll open their skulls for them, instead!

</sarcasm>

Re:A partial solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268914)

</sarcasm>

We already know where it ends.

Re:A partial solution: (1)

pengin9 (1595865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268938)

I choose to be intolerant of people who are intolerant of my intolerance. I feel this is the best way to live.

Re:A partial solution: (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268622)

Which is why religion and all other straight-faced magical thinking should be abolished.
My counter-proposition is that if religion is abolished, large tracts of population would disappear. Religion/dogma seems to be the only thing that keeps some people going.
Faced with an alternative of continuing living and committing suicide, what are the options ?
1) Realize that life is as likely to be good as bad, decide to die
2) Hope that life is on average good and continue living.
3) Believe that "god" or "gods" or whatever made will give you good times in future/heaven in return for bad things you suffer and then continue living.
*Buddhism might be an oddity- It seems to believe that life is on average sad, but a "middle path" can lead to happiness
Some preliminary evidence http://www.gallup.com/poll/108625/more-religious-countries-lower-suicide-rates.aspx [gallup.com] http://www.springerlink.com/content/rg63kp2jfw8k7e5d/ [springerlink.com]

Re:A partial solution: (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268666)

Buddhism isn't about the middle path. That's a different religion.

Buddhism is a simple "religion" that postulates simple metaphysics wherein you are a monkey that has to eat, sleep, have sex, and so on. Denial of these needs causes suffering. Suffering is inescapable as long as people have these desires. That does not mean people need to try to abandon them, so much as transcend them by living virtuously. Think Greek, and you would be much closer than your crap Taoist comparison.

Re:A partial solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268710)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_way [wikipedia.org] I can read Pali, so I don't think I am wrong here. There is more than one variant of Buddhism. On the other hand what you said is actually closer to Hinduism -specifically Bhagvat Gita's description of "duty". Do your duty with devotion and you'll attain god/Nirvana.

Re:A partial solution: (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268830)

Which can be more accurately summed up as "Obey the people who claim to be superior to you, don't try to improve your situation, don't disagree with anyone who has more money/power than you, and maybe after you die you'll come back as one of them".

Re:A partial solution: (4, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268878)

My counter-proposition is that if religion is abolished, large tracts of population would disappear. Religion/dogma seems to be the only thing that keeps some people going.

You know, I keep hearing that argument, and it's just mind-boggling to me that any intelligent individual could say something so stupid. It's like claiming that abolishing cocaine would cause large tracts of the population to disappear, since cocaine is the the only thing that keeps them going.

Yeah, if you depend on a substance or an ideology, breaking with it is going to be hard. That doesn't mean that you need it to live, or to be happy. It just means you're an addict. If you ditch your addiction, things can only get better.

Re:A partial solution: (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268806)

Abolishment of religion won't solve all problems, but it has the highest ratio of simplicty-of-suggestion to worldwide-problems-solved.

Because, as we all know, the simplest solution is to be preferred, even when it is way to simple to account for the facts. Obvious Troll is Obvious.

Hurr. (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268408)

>Both groups made their decisions based on the same information.

No they didn't.

They based their decisions on information gathered from outside the experiment - their own life experiences, and applied those experiences to their arguments.

This is surprising?

--
BMO

Re:Hurr. (3, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268468)

Here here.

Scientists see results in their studies that they are looking for. Not accounting for, sometimes painfully obvious, faults in their conclusions, or reasoning.

Like the studies that link accidents and cellphones. Not accounting for the possibility that neglectful and distracted drivers that will get into accidents will probably now use cellphones as well as drink, eat, and read a book or put on makeup. It's outside their scope of the experiment so it isn't a possible contributing factor.

This study is pretty bad though. They don't even try and take into account the reason that people would describe themselves as one group or another. Seems to me that they would have had some exposure to different ideas and evidence growing up to convince them that that way of thinking is correct. All cultures justify their own beliefs. These scientists ignore this part and just think of them as having brown or green eyes as they go into the tests.

Re:Hurr. (5, Funny)

KenMcM (1293074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268530)

Here here.

Where!?

Re:Hurr. (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268562)

Scientists see results in their studies that they are looking for. Not accounting for, sometimes painfully obvious, faults in their conclusions, or reasoning.

Like the studies that link accidents and cellphones. Not accounting for the possibility that neglectful and distracted drivers that will get into accidents will probably now use cellphones as well as drink, eat, and read a book or put on makeup. It's outside their scope of the experiment so it isn't a possible contributing factor.

If you think scientists don't know what "confounding factors" are, or don't try to account for them in their analyses, then you don't know enough about how science is done to have an informed opinion on the subject.

Re:Hurr. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268688)

The "don't try to account for them" bit is purely a matter of being cynical and not having a lot of faith in someone they don't really know anything about.

Sure. I could just have "faith" that the cardinal with the white coat did everything right. Although that would probably be a mistake.

Re:Hurr. (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268824)

"Sure. I could just have "faith" that the cardinal with the white coat did everything right. Although that would probably be a mistake."

Yes it would be a mistake because it's arguing from authority, ie: not science.

Science does not ask for trust, nor does it ask for BLIND faith, it asks YOU to use critical thinking [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Hurr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268902)

Who needs faith? Read the paper. They usually have a section called "methods," where they explain how the results were obtained.

Surely you're not purposely confusing the organization that coined "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" (and enforced it with capital punishment) with people who submit their work to peer-reviewed journals, and don't burn you on the stake when you disagree with it?

Sure. I could just have "faith" that the cardinal with the white coat did everything right.

Yeah, there it is.

(Science is a short way of saying, "put up or shut up." We all have ideas. But can you show evidence for them? How much? And how did you gather it? I suppose it'd be too much to ask that people can agree that those basic things are necessary for learning objective things about the world around us. Or that we don't oh-so-cleverly call methods founded in skepticism, "faith.")

Re:Hurr. (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268848)

If you think scientists don't know what "confounding factors" are, or don't try to account for them in their analyses, then you don't know enough about how science is done to have an informed opinion on the subject.

That's probably the most ignorant statement I've heard all week.

Try this on for size:
"If you think a person in a any position doesn't do their job perfectly in all cases you don't know enough about their job to have an informed opinion on the subject."

Sound a bit crazy to you now?

I'll restate it so you can get the idea you missed in the first place:

I think that in the varied fields of study and research into the reasoning behind human decision making some scientists don't account for a wide enough field of contributing factors to possibly attribute to their conclusions of causality. Sometimes after arriving at their conclusions they may find that they have not been as thorough as another study in their methodology and have arrived at an erroneous deduction through faulty assumptions. This is the driving force behind the peer review process as a single study has very little weight unless it can be replicated in an opposing scientists control with the same, or with statistically insignificant variance from the original, outcome. How many studies have been refuted after publication due to improper methodology in the testing or because of a flaw in their sampling process that introduced a bias that wasn't accounted for. As a growing exploration of the unknown there must be some unexpected influences that cannot be foreseen, hence the need for the experiment in the first place. If all experiments were always done without error then there would not be the halting controversy and mistrust that exists in most every specialized field in human studies. And that's not even getting into the process of publishing the findings in a matter that factually states the reasoning behind the conclusions and the logic that necessitates the link between the supposed corollary. Which was the original issue I was taking with the article and the And the base implication that they weren't addressed by the audaciously false statement that "Both groups made their decisions based on the same information."

Re:Hurr. (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268934)

What you say in your reply post is entirely reasonable. But casting it as a "restatement" is disingenuous at best. Your original post was a broadside against scientific practice; now that you've been called on it, you're retreating and saying "well, what I really meant was ..." when you're actually saying something quite different and much more limited.

Did you actually read the study? (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268638)

We conducted a study of the nanotechnology risk- benefit perceptions of a diverse sample of 1,600 americans. The subjects’ worldviews had been previously measured using scales developed for the study of the cultural cognition of risk (Kahan, Slovic, Braman, Gastil & Mertz 2007; Kahan et al. in press). Those scales characterize individuals’ values along two dimensions: “hierarchy-egali- tarianism,” which measures how much subject’s value equality versus clearly delineated forms of social authority; and “individualism-communi- tarianism,” which measures how much they value individual interests versus collective ones.

They framed the questions in what looked like a newspaper article, which I thought was pretty ingenious. The headlines were: "Scientists Call for More Research on Nanotechnology Consumer Goods", "Scientists Call for More Research on Use of Nanotechnology in Government Regulation of Air Pollution", "Scientists Call for More Research on Market Potential of Nanotechnology for Cleaning Environment", and "Scientists Call for More Research on Potential Use of Nanotechnology to Fight Enemies at Home and Abroad"

Then there's a little inset containing the exact same information about Nanotechnology, and the outcomes based on their profiles remained accurate. This is sort of confirmation on the importance of framing questions to get the desired response, but I wouldn't call it a crap study. It shows that we are still a long way from the enlightenment dream of basing our reasoning on hard facts instead of bias and anecdotes. And you can bet your ass that the marketing companies that run the country are all too glad of this fact.

http://www.culturalcognition.net/storage/nano_090225_research_brief_kahan_nl1.pdf [culturalcognition.net]

Yes he did actually read the study? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268942)

Yes he read the study and he came to the conclusion that the study was wrong because it conflicted with his belief. Regardless of what the study actually says, because the GP believes there is no danger from being detracted by a mobile phone.

This is the reason the story is tagged "confirmation bias" [wikipedia.org]

Thanks for link to original PDF study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268950)

There seems to be a high noise to signal ratio in their results [culturalcognition.net] ! Makes me very pleased I don't have to deal with soft sciences..

Re:Hurr. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268794)

Scientists see results in their studies that they are looking for. Not accounting for, sometimes painfully obvious, faults in their conclusions, or reasoning.

Their beliefs conform to their cultural identities?

Re:Hurr. (1)

pengin9 (1595865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268960)

off topic, but

or put on makeup.

'or farding'. would be an acceptable and more fluid entry. Just some fun little vocab, and it sounds like fart :-)

More to the point... (4, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268606)

From TFA, one of the group is defined by:"Some embrace new technology, authority and free enterprise. They are labeled the 'individualistic' group."

Shock horror, the people who embrace new technology were more likely to embrace a new piece of technology...

This is almost a zero-information experiment. The definitions classified the results that were then analysed against the classifications. In other news, when we classified coin tosses into a "heads" group and a "tails" group, we found that the "heads" group contained 100% heads results, no matter how many times the coin was tossed ... we conclude therefore that randomness is an illusion.

The participants were not presented with "facts", they were presented with "claimed facts" which they had to both interpret and assess. (A process called "reading" and "understanding".) That the participants were able ahead-of-time to describe the foibles of their assessment strategies (that one group was able to say it was more amenable to new technology) merely shows that the participants were pretty good at reflecting on their own decision strategies.

Next...

Re:More to the point... (5, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268630)

People who embrace authority are "individualistic"? Who came up with that definition?

Re:More to the point... (3, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268732)

That's what I've been trying to wrap my head around. The article says:

Participants in these experiments are asked to describe their cultural beliefs. Some embrace new technology, authority and free enterprise. They are labeled the "individualistic" group. Others are suspicious of authority or of commerce and industry. Braman calls them "communitarians."

So where does someone who embraces new technology and free enterprise, but is suspicious of authority fit in?

Re:More to the point... (1)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268772)

So where does someone who embraces new technology and free enterprise, but is suspicious of authority fit in?

Outliers...

Re:More to the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268836)

"not brainwashed"

Re:More to the point... (1)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268918)

I fit in pretty well in north dallas.

Re:Hurr. (4, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268648)

Nobody reads Heisenberg anymore, I see....

One of the best books I have ever read on scientific epistemology was by him ("Physics and Philosophy" Great book.)

Over and over in that book he writes about how people tend to think that data implies theory, as if there is only one true interpretation of the information before a scientist, but how that is a false assumption. As he puts it (several times), "Data does not imply theory." Instead he suggests that theories can only emerge when scientists put the pieces together based on pre-existing philosophical assumptions.

"Physics and Philosophy" is really one of those books that anyone interested in the sciences really should read. It would help avoid the reactions to studies like this.

Re:Hurr. (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268768)

*sigh* All of philosophy revolves around questioning empirical data. Asking not "what is known?" but "how do we know that we know what is known?" Therefore, any philosopher's arguments for, or even against, science is simply based on semantics. It doesn't make a difference because science doesn't ask "why do we know this?" but "what can we infer from what we observe?" Data DOES imply theory, but not if you decide to question the data based on no evidence at all.

Re:Hurr. (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268778)

So are you saying that Werner Heisenberg was a poor scientist and a great philosopher?

Are you at all uncertain about the value of his uncertainty principle?

A more humerous way to put it (4, Funny)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268820)

I generally consider Heisenberg (author of "Physics and Philosophy") to be one of the finest scientists of the twentieth century. However, I am very much aware of how fast science is moving and so may be slightly unsure of my position on the matter at the moment.....

Seriously, Heisenberg's discussion of the process of formation scientific theory is the clearest work I have ever seen on the subject. The man was a real genius in this regard and certainly comparable to both Einstein and Feynman.

One of the clearest examples he makes in the book is the comparison between Heraclitus's selection of fire as the prima materia and Einstein's equation of E=mc^2. Einstein, Heisenberg tells us, basically took Heraclitus's statement and quantified it, telling us how much of Heraclitus's fire was used to make up the rest of matter.

Re:Hurr. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268790)

You should read Jaynes [wikipedia.org] (if you haven't done so before). There's a free draft of his last book floating around the web.

The interaction between prior information and data interpretation is very well understood within the Bayesian framework. In particular, the divergence of beliefs upon learning the exact same data can be demonstrated mathematically, Jaynes does it in one of the examples in the aforementioned book.

Re:Hurr. (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268832)

Definitely going on my (long) list of books to read. (Sorry, at this rate it will be 2-3 years)

Re:Hurr. (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268862)

Yes, these are important ideas. Mathematicians and philosophers have abstracted them out into "logic". I don't mean to sound condescending. A "theory" (in the sense of logic) is a set of mutually consistent sentences, closed under logical implication. A "model" for the theory is a set of objects which "satisfy" the theory. This is straightforward to explain, but there are some fiddly details that I won't go into. Consider the theory generated by:

Every Blue thing is Strong.
Every Strong thing is Blue.

Models define truth. We can construct a simple model for this theory: The singleton set that contains that blue guy from the Watchmen. We can construct another one: the set that contains the Watchmen guy, and a nicely painted blue steel bar. And so on and so forth. The thing to note is that every object in the model needs to "satisfy" both the sentences. This can happen "vacuously". If we create a "subtheory" by adding a sentence to the theory, say, "Doctor Octagon is a rapper", a model for the new theory would contain Doctor Octagon, in addition to the strong blue stuff. At least, under the assumption that Doctor Octagon is neither blue nor strong. If the "real" Doctor Octagon is either, he must be both, in a model of the theory.

Data doesn't define models. Data defines theories. An observation that some blue things are strong gets generalized, via the scientific method, to the claim that every blue thing is strong. Indeed, the point of the scientific method is that every observation has the "same" status -- assumed to be true, as long as it was recorded properly. In this sense, the "record" is a sort of "unanalyzed" theory. Human brains can (maybe, sometimes) work out generalizations from that data. But, and here's the important part, the model is the real world. But we don't have access to "the model". We're a part of it. All we can do is try to grope for "axioms" from which we can generate a "copy" of the real world, using the "model theoretic" construction I discussed. But we run into undecidability very quickly. If there is ANY models that satisfy an undecidable theory, there are infinitely many (extremely different) models that satisfy that theory. And we can't even distinguish between them using scientific language. (This is a consequence of Godel's theorem, in very vague terms, and using a slight conceptual shift in logic of the last few decades. In particular, if you can prove a sentence in a theory, the sentence is "true" in every model for the theory. If you can't prove a sentence, then it can be true OR false, depending on which model you decide to use to evaluate its truth.)

Superstring theory is an interesting case, given this discussion. Physicists essentially took the "entire record" of physical theory, picked a few important equations, and turned them into logical axioms. This was done without apology. The superstring theorists are doing what I described above, explicitly. It is "unscientific" because it doesn't predict anything new. But, of course, that is because physics before superstring theory was already closed under logical implication (at least in broad strokes). A nice formalization of a theory isn't going to add new proof (or falsifiable experiments) to a poor or disorganized formalization. On the other hand, superstring theory is just as scientific as 100 year old science is now. If an experiment proves Maxwell's equations wrong, it will disprove superstring theory too. If an experiment proves superstring theory wrong, it will be proving some old physical theory wrong.

Re:Hurr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268798)

Exactly. Also, responding differently to the same facts can indicate plenty of things besides rejection of those facts. For example, optimists will respond differently than pessimists. And to use a modern example, libertarians don't think that drugs are entirely safe, or are good ideas, or are not addictive, in contradiction to the facts. On the contrary, all the ones I know believe that drugs are dangerous, addictive, terrible ideas. But they still differ from neoconservatives in the policy that they recommend.

Re:Hurr. (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268842)

It is obvious that people let biases influence them. I think a better question to answer is how many people will still hold on to their belief in the face of information. There are a lot of weird beliefs out there that are simply untrue, yet have very devoted followings (anti-vaxxers, 9/11 truthers, the moon landing conspiracy crowd, the anti-GMO guys, homeopaths, astrologers, fluoride is a communist plot, ect. ad nauseum). How many people will still believe in falsehoods when presented with all the correct information they care to look at? Something like this would require a good bit of time as rejection of incorrect yet dearly held ideas is not fun and will not happen overnight. As an ex-young earther, I'd know; you can check out my early /. comments to see it in action (please don't). Heck, I still have a hard time listing creationism in the list of wrong ideas, and I know the facts. Reevaluating and adjusting yourself to fit how things really are instead of how you think they are is difficult. It would be telling to see what percent of people will put a belief over evidence. I'd bet that a lot more would rather hang on to their belief and think themselves some sort of intellectual martyr that go through the effort of empirically evaluating their beliefs.

One needs to look no further than religion (0, Troll)

fpp (614761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268424)

to know that most people don't base their beliefs on facts. Like there is no evidience for Jesus outside of the Bible.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268502)

Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible:

From the Annals of Tacitus, 15.44:
sed non ope humana, non largitionibus principis aut deum placamentis decedebat infamia quin iussum incendium crederetur. ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat. auctor nominis eius Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat; repressaque in praesens exitiabilis superstitio rursum erumpebat, non modo per Iudaeam, originem eius mali, sed per urbem etiam quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque. igitur primum correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens haud proinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti sunt. et pereuntibus addita ludibria, ut ferarum tergis contecti laniatu canum interirent, aut crucibus adfixi aut flammandi, atque ubi defecisset dies in usum nocturni luminis urerentur.

Now, I know it is a mistake to feed the trolls, but I will chance it. If anyone would like, I'd be happy to cite further sources (this is the first that came to mind) and I would also be happy to provide translations for those trolls really intent on making a pretense to knowledge of the early Roman Empire.

That people will jump to conclusions who actually knowledge of the evidence on which such claims may rightfully be based, that is at least as significant as this article.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268564)

ur a moron. who tha fuck can read latin in this day and age besides fucking bible thumpers. go fuck a nun, dooshbag.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268590)

In point of fact, I have very rarely met a Bible thumper who could read Latin. It was my hope that the original troll would admit to pretending to have expertise in a field in which he did not. I did, however, provide a citation for the layman and it is not at all difficult to look up. Nevertheless, here is a link: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0077:book=15:chapter=44 (from the Perseus website, you'll notice the "show" button on the side for English).

Now, as for who can read Latin, people who sit quietly for hours in libraries. For my part, I study the Roman Empire and would be condemned for my views by any Bible thumper worth his salt. I say this knowing full well that "ur a moron" is intended to be nothing more than a provocation but, well, so far I am amused enough to reply. I am sure my amusement can be exhausted, however. At any rate, all the best to you to sir.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (2, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268596)

It's spelled "douche bag". And the answer to your question is any student of the Classics. Learn something.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268740)

who tha fuck can read latin in this day and age besides fucking bible thumpers.

"Bible thumpers" generally only care about early 17th century English. You would be hard pressed to find a bible thumper that knows Latin.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (5, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268598)

That passage is of dubious authenticity and may be mistransliterated. It also includes other historical mistakes.

Personally, I think the arguments over transliterations (Chrestianos vs Christianos) are misguided since some of the PGM use "Chrestos" in clear place of "Christos" ("Christos" is Hebrew "Messiah" translated into Greek while "Chrestos" is Greek for "The Useful One" though Hans Dieter Betz translates as "The Most Excellent" in context).

However, the historical errors by Tacitus suggest he was not working from actual records, but perhaps simply entering a sidebar as to what the Christians said about the founding of their sect. Consequently I am not prepared to use it as evidence of Jesus's existance.

My own view is that Christianity began as a synthetic religion between somewhat Hellenized Jewish sects and Hellenistic mystery cults. I think the Gospels bear the same relationship to Christianity as the Asinus Aureus (as Augustine called it) bore to the Cult of Isis. That doesn't devalue the work as a mythological basis for religion and in fact may strengthen its pedigree. Such an interpretation however flies in the face of literalism.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268660)

No, I certainly agree that the passage is problematic. But the categorical statement, "there is no evidience for Jesus outside of the Bible" is simply false. This is why I offered to provide other citations. I simply cited this text because it was the first one that came to mind, the famous passage from Josephus is even more problematic, and the various gnostic gospels are quite late.

The truth is, though, that the notion that Jesus did not exist has been rejected by scholars since for quite some time, though some tried to establish this through quellenkritik. What Jesus actually said, however, is still certainly debated but this is another issue entirely and does not fall under the statement to which I have objected.

Signed,

Anonymous Coward from above.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (3, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268766)

I am aware that the majority of scholars think Jesus existed. However, this strikes me as evidence of what this thread is about rather than a matter of solid evidence. I think this is for a couple of reasons:

1) Christians of course want to think that Jesus existed.
2) Atheistic approaches tend to assume that it is simpler to assume that Jesus was a great teacher than that everything written about him was pseudopigraphic or mythological in origins.

My reason for saying there is no real reliable evidence however comes from concluding (by studying Hellenistic religions) that basic outline of the story of Christ is probably mythological instead of factual, and that it combines pre-existing threads from a number of other Hellenistic religions. Secondly, there seems to have been a very lively tradition of writing what were essentially novels about religious subjects as a means of religious teaching (Apuleius's Metamorphosis/Asinus Aureus is a good example of that). This sort of thing has been called "pseudopigrapha" when the authorship is falsely attributed.

Furthermore, when you actually look at Paul's epistles, they are all over the place in which Hellenistic religions they incorporate pieces of. His general approach seems to be to incorporate the basic religious terminology and cosmology of whoever he is writing to.

So when we strip all of these things which seem to come from other sources away (the Trinity from Plato, the Archons of the Ages from various Hellenistic Gnostic cults, the Last Supper as possibly having Dionysian origins, the death and resurrection on Easter as the pagan sacrifice of world renewal), we are really left with nothing new under the sun.

I am not dismissing the possibility of Jesus's existence entirely. However, I am saying that it is more fruitful to look at Christianity as an outgrowth of the Hellenistic world in general than the outgrowth of one man's teachings, and that I have no immediate understanding of the exact circumstance of the formation of Christianity in the first place (our records until really near the end of the Hellenistic era are remarkably sparse).

BTW, I would also go further. I think that some of this Roman literature about other Hellenistic religions was formative on Christianity as well. The development of the Blood Libel really seems to have its origins in Roman literature such as that of Lucan, Apuleis, Horace, etc. If Christianity is seen as having its origins in a syncretic, Hellenistic branch of Judaism, then I think more problems are solved than created. The only problem created is a doubt as to whether Christ actually existed.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268882)

My objection was to the simple claim that "there is no evidience for Jesus outside of the Bible", not that the evidence cannot be interpreted variously. I will readily say that just as you are ready to agree that the majority of scholars think that Jesus existed.

My point was that the ready willingness of an individual to accept such a falsehood illustrates the point of the post better even than TFA.

As far as Roman and Hellenistic literature having influence on Christianity, I would readily admit this as well. This is not the issue (nor, for that matter, does it speak to the truth or falsehood of the claims of Christianity). One need but look to Philo to see the degree to which Judaism could be affected by its Hellenistic environment. I do not, however, see how this admission would speak in any way to the claim, "The only problem created is a doubt as to whether Christ actually existed". It does effect how he was, or is to be for that matter, interpreted, not whether he existed. I hope that clarifies matters, however.

A couple asides though. As far as Paul's epistles incorporating Hellenistic elements, I would respond to this, perhaps, by saying that his epistles 'conform' to his 'cultural identity'. As so many who have respond to TFA have noted, this is no great surprise. I would definitely look to Philo, sooner than Plato, if I wanted a source for later Christian understandings of the Trinity. Trinitarian-like conceptions do not really become clear until middle-Platonism. As for the Last Supper, I would say it is no more Dionysiac than any Hellenstic symposium. The oddity here, of course, is the fact that the Passover retains elements of the symposium even unto today.

Signed,

Anonymous Coward from above.

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268872)

Also, forgot to mention that I like to fondle goats.

Signed,

Anonymous Coward from above

Re:One needs to look no further than religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268610)

Tacitus was writing that some 60-80 years after the death of Jesus. Obviously there are lots of written sources on Jesus out there, the issue that the GP poster made (which I don't think is a particularly compelling or relevant issue) is that there are no known contemporary sources written at the time that Jesus was apparently alive or shortly after his crucifixion that mention him. Anyway, it's sort of an irrelevant point - obviously there was some guy who attracted the initial followers, we might as well call him Jesus since that's what Christians call him. Whether he worked miracles and was the son of God is another question.

You need a study for that? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268436)

People thrive on information that reinforces their point of view and reject information that challenge it. How is this news?

That's basically what newspapers and TV stations thrive on.

Re:You need a study for that? (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268522)

Newsflash: science works by subjecting everything to the scientific method. Including things that we think are obvious. Sometimes it confirms the obvious (like here), sometimes it throws everything into complete upheaval (like special relativity).

Next time I hear someone say "Durrr! Everyone knows that!" I'm going to smack them.

Re:You need a study for that? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268568)

I was just amazed that it wasn't established already.

Re:You need a study for that? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268644)

People thrive on information that reinforces their point of view and reject information that challenge it. How is this news?

That's basically what newspapers and TV stations thrive on.

Well if the study found the complete opposite was true, would you be so quick to defend the results as they would in that case conflict with what you already expected? As has been pointed out in previous discussions [slashdot.org] , what seems to be completely obvious must also be tested and the results are not worthless as news just because they confirm what you already suspected.

Culture or pre-conceived notions? (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268442)

I don't think any of these individuals are a clean slate so it's not a surprise that they may have strong pre-conceptions that come into play. It's not that "It doesn't matter whether you show them negative or positive information, they reject the information that is contrary to what they would like to believe". Rather they already have some beliefs they consider true which they apply.

It's also no surprise that people in groups do not behave rationally. Even scientists and medical researchers can be downright stupid about things. I was listening to an interesting podcast this morning: http://www.americanscientist.org/science/pub/everything-is-dangerous-a-controversy [americanscientist.org]

Oh well (2, Insightful)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268452)

Everyone knows facts have a liberal bias anyway.

Re:Oh well (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268580)

Everyone knows facts have a liberal bias anyway.

Depends on who's picking the facts ...

... and how they're presented ...

... and who's doing the presenting ...

Example (poll results below): More people feel that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in the military than homosexuals. Same survey. The only difference between the two questions was the word "homosexual" vs the term "gays and lesbians."

Why do you think that opponents keep saying "homosexual rights" and "homosexual agenda"? It's because "homosexual" is a dirty word because of centuries of religious meddling.

And let's not forget stupidity. These poll results also show that more than 10% of the population (the ones who think it's okay to deny homosexuals rights but not gays and lesbians) depend on someone else to tell them how to think. (FauxNews, the Church, etc).

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/02/dadt_poll.html/print.html [americanprogress.org]

* A February 2010 CBS News/New York Times poll found that 59 percent of Americans favor "homosexuals" serving in the military (up from 42 percent in February 1993), but 70 percent favor "gay men and lesbians" serving in the military.

* The same poll found that 44 percent of Americans favor allowing "homosexuals to serve openly" and that 58 percent favor allowing "gay men and lesbians to serve openly."

Re:Oh well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268738)

I wish I could get you in a room with the door locked with some of my giant friends. We would run a fucking train on your transsexual ass. Us being black folk and all, we all been to the joint and raping a tranny is the closest things we get to real womin. We would duct tape your mouth shut while opening your asshole up all fucking night. BIG TYRONE is definitely a fan and will provide you with 72 hours of joyous pain. Now bend over slut.

Re:Oh well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268856)

And let's not forget stupidity. These poll results also show that more than 10% of the population (the ones who think it's okay to deny homosexuals rights but not gays and lesbians) depend on someone else to tell them how to think. (FauxNews, the Church, etc).

Yes! Such joy it is to hear the truth at last! We should never let anyone tell us how to think! tomhudson said so! And he is so wise and all-knowing, as he obviously received his way of thinking from himself and from nobody else! Without anyone teaching him or influencing him in any way! Oh, great tomhudson, please tell us more: how do we learn not to depend on someone else to tell us how to think? Tell us, the ignorant, hoodwinked masses who are so beneath your intellectual level!

I knew this already (0, Redundant)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268492)

But then, I'm a cynical gen-x-er.

deez! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268504)

suck n fuck n ruuuubbb deeez nuts!

Really?! (0, Offtopic)

barfy (256323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268508)

There are biases based on culture that appear in "non-biased" representations of unfamiliar information?

I am shocked, I tell you. Shocked that there is gambling in the back room.

Next week a new study showing that sharpened pieces of metal make it easier to cut cheese!

Confirmation Bias Confirmed (5, Insightful)

bazald (886779) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268518)

Thanks for confirming confirmation bias [wikipedia.org] for me. It was pretty much what I expected anyway...

Re:Confirmation Bias Confirmed (1)

AtonalMonk (1737518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268642)

You were probably biased...

Re:Confirmation Bias Confirmed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268696)

I must confirm this...

waiting for the discussion to devolve (0, Offtopic)

FalseModesty (166253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268542)

I'm just sitting here, waiting for this discussion to get sidetracked onto the question of "is AGW true?" like it did on the NPR site.

The Irony (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268548)

Not commenting on the debate, but I think it's interesting that in an article about cognitive biases (particularly group cognitive biases) that they don't ever bother to probe the question of how such biases affect things like "scientific consensus," they only view it from the perspective of how such biases affect the freshly germinated views of the uninitated. You would think scientists, being human beings as well, would be in some way subject the same effects, and as long as questions are being raised about the human proclivity for certain viewpoints, someone might stop to wonder "in what ratio do people who go into the environmental sciences tend to be individualist or communitarian, and how is this likely to affect their judgment of related information?"

Re:The Irony (3, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268682)

We say there is a scientific consensus about anthropogenic global warming because all the scientific papers that reach a conclusion about it reach the same conclusion: AGW is happening. It's not because climatologists "just believe" that AGW is happening due to their personal biases instead of what the facts say. If anyone wants to claim that AGW isn't happening, all they need to do is write up their observations and reasoning in a paper.

The article is much more about whether laypeople (and even scientists from other disciplines) are apt to believe certain scientific conclusions. Whether they do or not has little to do with the evidence.

Re:The Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268722)

Big Business has a billion dollars worth of power to influence the minds of people, but they can not get a publication out to propose an alternative to AGW that holds water.

Unfortunately they still can raise doubt with that money and screw everyone in the process.

From each according to his gullibility to each according to his greed.

America is not experience a shortage of greed, or gullibility.

Re:The Irony (1)

DevStar (943486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268764)

I think that's an orthogonal question, although not an uninteresting one. Although its fundamentally the same thing that Republicans say about elite universities, which is why they tend to discount theories that come out of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, etc as being liberal. I do think the study is more interesting than people give it credit for though. I do think there is this belief in (liberal?) society that with increased education a lot of ideological "problems" disappear. I think this study does push us further down the track that education may not be all that helpful. And coupled with what we spoke of above -- self selection for getting education, our current system may simply exacerbate the perceived gap.

Re:The Irony (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268844)

It's not that simple. While prior bias is highly problematic in the "soft" sciences, that is not much of a problem in experimental sciences.

If you're trying for a theory to predict the evolution of a system, run the experiment, and collect the results. Either the theory fits or it doesn't. Every possible initial bias in beliefs will give the same result. Rince and repeat.

Re:The Irony (2, Insightful)

mathfeel (937008) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268896)

There is a different. Scientists can have all the opinion they want (and many hold quite wacky ones in their own expertise). They can even be very vocal about it. But their results cannot get accepted without reaching certain level of consensus by peer review. People argue that the whole system is bad because the community is conspiring to reject their idea. I call them sore losers. They claim they cannot get their idea published because it challenge the norm and that's a big no no for the community. Bullshit! Scientists thrive on and have their reputation greatly enhanced by making break through that challenges the norms, but ONLY when doing so with good experiment and data and/or well argued theory/hypothesis. I know all the paradigm-changing paper in the history of my fields are always first published in well established journal even though "the man" and "the process" is trying is keep people down. While I can see flaws in this system, I'd say it works out pretty well in average. Remember: an known patent clerk got published in Annalen der Physik when this guy can't even convince his professor to get him a university job. Good scientist don't make claim for the sake of making a claim. My favorite example is cold fusion where those guys held press conference way before they check their experiment and try to redo it at least once. Some people never accept the fact that they are just doing bad science (some probably deliberately) or their data are just not very valuable.

Re:The Irony (-1, Troll)

arminw (717974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268982)

....they don't ever bother to probe the question of how such biases affect things like "scientific consensus,"....

Is there any human being alive whose worldview does not affect how such a person interprets incoming information? Here in our so-called technological, materialistic West, especially here on Slashdot, the "There is no God" and nothing beyond the physical natural dimension exists -- worldview colors everything. This has not always been so, and even today, the majority of the world population believes there are other dimensions beyond what science can deal with. Mankind needs a standard outside of himself. If man is the measure of all things, then anything by definition of the majority is right.

If the majority or those in power decide that the murder of certain classes of human beings is acceptable, then by that definition it IS acceptable. The first step in classifying certain groups as non-human is the beginning of the slippery slope. The Nazis decided that the Jews and others were Untermenschen, subhuman, and therefore it was OK, in fact necessary, to exterminate them. In the USA and in Europe, the unborn are declared to be non-human, mere fetuses, biological tissue. Therefore it is no crime to murder unborn children. That same materialistic reasoning can be applied to other classes of human beings, such as for example the aged and infirm.

If on the other hand, the underlying worldview is that worldview upon which this country was founded, namely that there is a God, who gives inalienable rights but also responsibility, then ALL humans have great value, especially the helpless ones.

So it is no surprise then, that the underlying worldview, their belief system, is foundational to the outcome of this or any other study like this. Is it really necessary to spend a big pile of money on something that everybody knows or at least ought to know?

Da Fuck?1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268552)

SanzunPus, did you swap shit with kdawson?!

I didn't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268628)

I didn't know Captain Obvious had enough money to fund studies!

I'm an Atheist damnit! (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268658)

You Satan worshiping scientists!

Are my tax dollars supporting these "studies"? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268674)

This article just confirms the suspicions I've had about academia all along.

Established Patterns (1)

sharkbiter (266775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268718)

Y'all will probably kill my karma for this, but: Established dogma is more acceptable than a new theory. Hear me out! If it were proven that "god is in the machine" (ex deus machina) to a group of individuals that don't believe in god but rather; a higher belief in an ultimate creator (one who creates and steps back allowing the course of events to fall as they may), then said group would obviously reject any belief, theory or proof that god is alive and well and influences their daily lives. Think about it. If I were to raise you to believe that god exists but not as a deciding factor but rather as an observer of his experiment, would you not reject out of hand any other individual that came along and insisted that the very same guiding hand that created you is determining which way you should/will live your life?

This is what I believe the author of this article is premising. Sorry to ramble. I hope you can see what I'm attempting to hypothesize.

Diamond Age anyone? (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268742)

Wow! They found differences between individualist and collectivist cultures in their acceptance of nanotechnology!

Someone could write a really cool piece of scifi based on this idea.

Oh wait... [wikipedia.org]

Mechanical Thinking. . . (5, Interesting)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268850)

When was the last time you changed your mind about a significant, foundational piece of data in your life?

I'm not talking about an uncertainty being made resolute on one side of the fence or the other.

I'm talking about a belief you once held to be true and around which you based your daily decision-making processes and then after review, realized that you were wrong and then took steps to alter your behavior accordingly.

Now, if you have experienced that, ask yourself the following. . .

Did you change your mind because of your own curiosity, reasoning and data collection OR because your tribe and its associated authority figures changed their minds and you felt compelled to follow suit?

Are you the sort of person who switches back and forth between beliefs easily?

Are you the sort of person who refuses to change belief systems out of fear of appearing or feeling weak-minded?

Do you lie to yourself in order to take the edge off uncomfortable truths?

Are you lying to yourself right now about any of the answers to these questions?

Just asking.

-FL

wrong description (3, Insightful)

readin (838620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268868)

This article describes an experiment that demonstrates that people don't put as much weight on facts as they do their own belief about how the world is supposed to work.

No, the article describes an experiment that shows that people don't necessarily trust scientists to get things right, and the degree of the trust varies by culture. This is hardly surprising. Scientists are people, and one's opinions about people tends to be a result of your interactions with people around you, most of whom are generally from your own culture. Most of what culture is is the result of such interactions. How could your culture not affect what you expect to see from a group of people?

No shit, Sherlock. (0, Troll)

leftie (667677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268894)

Watch a Christian complete phase out and stop processing info when you point out the the many similarities between Jesus and many other similar shepherd gods in other cultures of that same region of the Eastern Med.

Watch a so-called science-focus skeptic phase out the same way when you point out that a recording of Dallas police broadcast has scientifically proven there were more than 3 shots fired in Dealey Plaza.

discouraging research... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31268910)

I do find these kinds of results discouraging. They diminish my optimism that people actually have some measure of free will and therefore could learn to listen to information, think about it, and possibly Do The Right Thing even if it conflicted with their prejudices. More and more, it comes down to neurobiology. You don't think so? - How would you tell if it's really that you CAN'T think so?

We already knew why.... (1)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268916)

So, I was that guy in college who double majored in unrelated subjects. Chemistry and Religion. Then went on to a handful of jobs in unrelated fields. I get bored easily and put a lot of thought into some esoteric things that no one cares about.

As you look very closely at how belief functions in society, it becomes extremely obvious that belief in and of itself is not rational. It's a functional experience. This is true for all people, even scientists (reason is accepted because it's useful way of achieving a goal) Is a set of norms and beliefs useful for the person whom is called to believe? If answer is no, then they won't accept the belief structure or they will chose to be willfully ignorant of the subject. If answer is yes, they will accept it without question in so far as narrative can be used to explain any "apparent contradictions" between the belief and reality. The core idea of something being actually true is completely and 100% irrelevant to the evaluation.

As a side note, it appears the experiment cited in the article is useless for describing the problem. You describe nano tech to some people, then it's uses. They reject the tech, if they don't like the uses. Doesn't mean they don't BELIEVE the tech is possible, they just don't like it.

Well... (1)

Tromad (1741656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268924)

Social psychologists say no shit, thanks for finally hearing about our field.

The Slashbot: Individualist or Communitarian? (-1, Offtopic)

Cruxus (657818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268926)

Let's see:

  • Communitarian: Suspicious of authority, particularly the government's and certain corporations in particular (e.g., Microsoft).
  • Individualist: Detests regulation of industry and commerce, strongly believes in free markets and unrestricted private-property rights.
  • Individualist: Tends to strongly support gun rights.
  • Individualist: Skeptical of the science behind global-warming studies.
  • Individualist: Enthusiastic about technology.
  • Communitarian: Tends to actively support or be sympathetic towards free software.
  • Individualist: Xenophobic and distrustful of immigrants (H1Bs).
  • Individualist: Anti-intellectual (outside the realms of technology and the physical sciences) bent.

Flamebait (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268954)

Tag the summary flamebait and be done with it.

Nothing to see here.

Well duh! (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31268980)

Years ago I was taught there are 3 takes on reality: the way you see it, the way you want it to be, and the way it really is. TFA seems to be covering absoulutely nothing new in the world. That this comes as a surprise to anyone is the only newsworthy aspect of the story. It's how humans operate for the most part.

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