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Inability to Change

I think I have finally figured out the most annoying attribute of the people I frequently get into serious debates with – in other words the people who are wrong! Before I say what it is (if you haven’t figured it out already from the title) I want to list the type of person who annoys me most (at least from the perspective of their beliefs and opinions – I want to make it clear that I don’t necessarily dislike these individuals as people).

Actually, there was one person yesterday who scored on several of the key areas. He sent me an email supporting a 9/11 conspiracy theory, a dismissal of global warming, and support for a conservative political agenda. All he needed was to send something in support of fundamentalist religion and he would have had a perfect score!

So yes, those are the things I most often debate against: fundamentalist religion, failure to accept reasonable scientific theories, support for conservative politics, and believing conspiracy theories.

None of these beliefs necessarily have to be wrong, but in fact they are wrong, at least they are wrong to the extent that a reasonable person would look at the evidence and say they are almost certainly untrue. But it wasn’t always obvious they were wrong. A few hundred years ago, before modern scientific theories such as evolution were established, believing in the Biblical myths might have been reasonable. Before the incidents which occurred on 9/11 were investigated it wasn’t unreasonable to suspect a conspiracy. Before recent data was released global warming did look doubtful. And before they have been tested and found to not work conservative political theories might have seemed to make sense.

So its not so much that these people believe silly things, its more that they believed things which made a certain amount of sense at some point in the past but failed to realise when they no longer made sense. So they continued believing the idea even after the evidence shifted against it.

Sometimes the idea is hopelessly out of date. For example, evolution has been a virtual certain fact for many years now, maybe for 100 years but certainly for 20 to 50. So there is little excuse for most people to still believe creationism.

Other times its a little bit less obvious. Global warming was very uncertain 10 years ago but the evidence has just gradually got better. I can almost excuse someone for not noticing that what they previously thought (for example if they denied the truth of global warming) no longer makes sense. The same applies to conspiracy theories about recent comparatively events like 9/11.

So everyone should examine their beliefs and establish if they are outdated. Or maybe they should just listen to me and I’ll tell them what’s true!

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