Oct. 23rd, 2009

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
Today's Atheist Meme of the Day:

Our minds are wired by evolution to see intention and patterns, even where none exists. So we have to be careful about assuming that a pattern or intention is really there, just because it seems like it. And that holds for God and religion as much anything else. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across
.

I'm particularly at risk for this, it seems.  So I have to remind myself, I have to write things down, I have to double check, and I have to ask for outside opinions to make sure that the pattern I'm seeing really is a pattern and not pareidolia creeping in to a random happenstance (especially for a small sample size or a short time frame, etc.) and that I'm not falling victim to confirmation bias.

But this seems to be the very basis of supernatural belief.  I dreamt it and it came true, therefore I'm psychic.  I prayed and it happened, therefore god intervened.  

Read "How We Believe" by Michael Shermer, "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, & "How We Know What Isn't So" by Thomas Gilovich (and pretty much any other book on the Skeptic's Reading Guide over at The Skeptical Pervert).
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
Today's Atheist Meme of the Day:

Atheism doesn't mean having a closed mind. Atheism simply means concluding that God probably doesn't exist. It means we've considered the idea of God and rejected it as implausible, but will reconsider if we see new evidence. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across
.

I've gone on about this at length in my post about Atheist vs. Agnostic, so I won't rant about it again today.  But I was listening to some back episodes of skeptical podcasts today, and some interview with someone (I forget which podcast and I forget who was interviewed) pointed out that those who believe in the supernatural and accuse skeptics of being close-minded are actually the close-minded ones themselves.  Because they've concluded that there is, absolutely, 100% certain, that there is whatever paranormal entity is being discussed, and the possibility that there isn't is rejected.  They have closed their minds to this option.

Note, it's not the conclusion that "there is no god" that is rejected, it's the *possibility* that the non-god hypothesis is true that is rejected.  As opposed to atheists, who have rejected the conclusion that there is a god, but not the possibility that the god-hypothesis could be true if enough evidence is presented.

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