sarahmichigan: (Default)
I know that even as skeptical as I am about a number of issues and beliefs (alternative medicine, the supernatural, and so on), that I am not immune to believing things without having good proof for them, or believing them for emotional reasons. I think this article does a good job of explaining how someone can be very skeptical and logical in one area of life while being a bit of a sucker in other areas-- think Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the eminently logical Sherlock Holmes, and yet who was also scammed by little girls who faked a fairy sighting.

There is the issue of "confirmation bias", to be sure. We tend to remember and emphasize evidence that bolsters what we already believe and disregard evidence that would disprove our belief.

Also relevant is the issue of "argument by emotion"- we often believe things because of some strong emotion we have about a subject rather than because the facts.

However, something I've thought about before but hadn't really put into words is that we don't have the time or expertise to be able to be skeptical about everything. It's sort of a time-saving shortcut to believe the conventional wisdom on a variety of things because nobody has the time to skeptically investigate every claim, every belief. And I don't have expertise on every area of life to know whether a claim is reasonable or not- I could be totally scammed about an economic theory, for instance, because it's not an area I've studied much.

Here's an example: I have little boxes of baking soda in my fridge and my freezer. I'd always been told that they keep your fridge and freezer smelling better. But where is the proof? What scientific study has been done? Or is this just propaganda by Arm and Hammer to keep sales up? It hadn't even occurred to me to be skeptical about this claim until I read an article that mentioned in passing the fact that the claim hadn't been tested.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I woke up this morning thinking about monism.

Well, and also Jennifer Coolidge.

But my dream life sounds so much more intellekshual if I only mention the monism part, right?

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