Project 313 – Post No. 119

I recently had a common experience (for me) and coincidentally came across a phrase that describes it to near perfection . . . the phrase is curse of original belief”.

The way the phrase was used closely parallels the concept of cognitive bias. In the case I encountered, it refers to the propensity of denying evidence in favor of imagined knowledge anchored on “things figured out” through one’s own reasoning. Meaning, “I believe so therefore it must be so”.

Typically, in such instances, the thought of admitting error is so damaging to one’s fragile self-image that one adheres to one’s distorted view of reality against all evidence to the contrary.

Most people recognize such propensity in others (for example, religious people, conspiracy theorists, non-socialists, people not you) but can’t imagine it might apply to one’s self.

One might assume they are the victims of the “curse of knowledge” but it’s not the same thing. The curse of knowledge happens when one assumes the other person has the same information one possesses when in fact, they do not. 

The experimental evidence for the curse of knowledge is easy to duplicate for yourself. In fact, I discovered the same fact many years ago (and can reliably duplicate the effect to this day) and it made me realize a few things applicable when debating someone suffering from the curse of original belief

The most important thing is to agree on basic definitions, establish facts both parties can agree on, and agree on the parameters of the claims and counterclaims.  

For example, if I argue what I’m holding in my hand is a coconut because it has the shape, size, and weight of a coconut but the other person maintains it’s a bowling ball because of the three marks that look like the finger holes of a bowling ball . . . well, we’ll never agree until we decide what parameters we should use to identify the object and that’s only after we agree on the full set of characteristics of the object in question.  

This is where the perception of the world around us comes into play. This is one of the reasons as an atheist I have no hope of even having a reasonable conversation with a theist. We don’t begin from the same frame of reference and we certainly don’t have the same definitions. Worse yet, theists themselves seldom agree on the definitions and parameters of what they believe since it’s basically what they “feel” is true for them.  It’s why we have a slew of different christian and islamic sects.

Note, I don’t want to come across as saying I’m always right. But, I will say I follow the data and listen to any reasonable hypothesis. By reasonable, I mean a hypothesis that can be tested and has predictive powers. 

In the case I mentioned in the opening, it was someone too stubborn to consider the idea they don’t know what they are talking about. 

And now, the photo:

Project 313 119

It’s an interesting basket and I couldn’t figure out if the bottom was meant to be a concave mirror or if it was purely decorative. 

Anyway, back to debating things . . . when one has specialized knowledge and one has a difficult time imparting such knowledge onto the person they’re debating, one must be careful to not trigger automatic defense mechanism typical of people feeling threatened. 

One phrase I’ve come to really dislike is “let’s compromise”

I hear it from people holding extreme positions and the reason I dislike it so is because the only way a compromise would work is if I also held an extreme position. 

For example, if on one side is a delusional gun-abolitionist and I maintain I should be able to mount twin .50-cal machine guns on my car, well, then, we could compromise to me owning a revolver. 

But, if my position starts with being able to own a revolver, any compromise would end up me not being able to own any gun. Or, own a gun that didn’t work. 

Compromise is often brought up by people with extreme positions precisely because they know it will make them seem reasonable when, in fact, they are not. 

Let me show you what a compromise might look like when designing roads for a new subdivision . . . Urban Planning Compromise Between Civil Engineers and New Age Road Commission.

Those pretty swooping roads are not practical and are an inefficient use of available space as well as making it a nightmare evacuating during an attack by marauders driving around on cars equipped with twin .50-cal machine guns. Also, I’m going to feel pretty silly standing there with my compromise single shot black powder flintlock pistol. 

Urban Planning Compromise Between Civil Engineers and New Age Road Commission

And . . . that’s it

Some of these posts will likely be longer as the mood hits me, but most will be thus; short, uninteresting, bland, and relentless.

You can read about Project 313 HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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