And I've been thinking about it for a while. Let me do my best to explain it in this limited space in good faith.
There is a book out there called "What we believe but cannot prove." It is a collection of short essays by scientists. In one such essay, on page 51 (you can read the whole thing on Amazon if you search the book for "content independent") Sam Harris asserts that belief is a content independent process.
Basically, beliefs come down to an emotional experience of conviction. The never ending 911 truth argument is a perfect example. Everyone has access to the same information, the same books, videos, evidence, lack of evidence, etc. And in spite of this, there is such a sharp division as to what the "truth" actually is.
Why? Are half the people here wrong? Are half the people here dumb?
Everyone who is left here at the DP arrived here for the same reason: as a Ron Paul supporter. So they're "right" about that, but half of them are wrong about 911? Right about Ron Paul, but wrong about religion?
There are non-truthers who have become truthers. Christians who cross the line into atheism. Libertarians who become 'Conservatives.' There is another set who have become Anarchists.
When I say that people aren't responsible for their beliefs, I am referencing the fact that the morphing of belief is a process. Mostly, what we grow up believing is the result of things we have no control over: The family that we were born into, the neighborhood we live in, the friends we make at school, the city and its image, the country of which we are citizens.
Does the kid in East LA have the same 'factory setting' beliefs as the kid who was born in suburban Boston? How about the kid that was born in North Korea?
We all start out with different beliefs. Then, based on parental influences, school influence, etc - environmental factors - our beliefs begin to morph.
What if you never saw that Ron Paul sign? What if it never registered? What if your friend never told you about him? What if you didn't have access to the internet. What if I never started the DP? What if that guy never made that video that converted you?
This is what I mean. Beliefs are arbitrary. They're changeable. The flow of information that goes into their formation is random.
Was the moment of creation the result of the big bang, or because God said, "Let there be light." For many, the reason for holding whatever belief they do is an accident of birth.
To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.
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