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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have touched several times on these concepts in recent threads.

There seems to be a belief amongst some that personal experience, anecdote and belief trumps scientific analysis, testing and knowledge, that if you believe something to be true, that is good enough and no-one should try to contradict or challenge this belief.

I spotted this article in The Guardian today that pinpoints nicely the dangers associated with this kind of thinking.

Mary has been using an alternative method: she hasn't been using any contraception at all.

Instead, she has worked out a formula that she calls "amazing" and I call "voodoo". It involves a combination of relying on various smartphone apps with names like Period Tracker and relying on the guy she is sleeping with (she is not in a long-term relationship) to "behave" – in other words, pull out in the nick of time. That she has not become pregnant since switching to her voodoo system proves, she says, that it works, "although there have been a few plan B [morning-after pill] moments". Mary is not crazy. She is not even stupid. In fact, she is increasingly typical of her generation.
The fact that she 'believes' that her regime is stopping her getting pregnant means absolutely zilch, nada. She has just been lucky.

Such reliance on belief and personal experience should have no place in a thinking persons reasoning and decision making.
 

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We have touched several times on these concepts in recent threads.

There seems to be a belief amongst some that personal experience, anecdote and belief trumps scientific analysis, testing and knowledge, that if you believe something to be true, that is good enough and no-one should try to contradict or challenge this belief.

I spotted this article in The Guardian today that pinpoints nicely the dangers associated with this kind of thinking.



The fact that she 'believes' that her regime is stopping her getting pregnant means absolutely zilch, nada. She has just been lucky.

Such reliance on belief and personal experience should have no place in a thinking persons reasoning and decision making.
But, do you count this person as a "thinking person", because I certainly wouldn't. She doesn't believe in what's she's doing anyway. If she did she wouldn't take the morning after pill, would she? Personally I'd call her irresponsible and immature, but not somebody who actually reasons, thinks and makes decisions based on these thought processes
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
But, do you count this person as a "thinking person", because I certainly wouldn't. She doesn't believe in what's she's doing anyway. If she did she wouldn't take the morning after pill, would she? Personally I'd call her irresponsible and immature, but not somebody who actually reasons, thinks and makes decisions based on these thought processes
I agree with you - she is not a good thinker.

This...

That she has not become pregnant since switching to her voodoo system proves, she says, that it works,
... shows that she has fallen foul of a very common misconception that that reinforces a lot of 'alternative' thinking - that a result is a consequence of an action, in this case not becoming pregnant, is a consequence of her rituals.

It is the same with many users of alternative therapies. Someone uses a therapy and the condition improves. It is tempting to believe that the two are linked and of course they may be or they may not, you can't tell, but many people don't recognise that.
 

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Sometimes people's faith is so strong that they continue with the treatment even when it HASN'T worked.

A woman I know, very intelligent and with a high-powered job, started using some expensive Chinese concoctions four years ago for a relatively minor condition which didn't respond to conventional medicines. She still has the condition, but she still pays a fortune for the TCM products and has to find a fridge every time she travels in order to store them.

Her husband says she admits privately they have had no effect on her health at all, but gets defensive when he asksshy she still uses them.

The only explanation I can think of is that there is some deep-down human need to have faith in things that have no rational basis. I used to try and "convert" people to rational thinking, but the more they are challenged the more entrenched their beliefs become, so there really isn't any point.

IMO it's more sensible to tackle the source of the misinformation and challenge the industries that are peddling these Woo products.
 

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This is what "Faith Healers" depend on and so do their followers.

It would seem true that many conditions (mostly psychological and psychosomatic ones) are influenced by a state of mind but, to my knowledge that are no proven cases where thinking or believing oneself to be cured or even better has any effect. It is true, that one can feel better but clinically, there is little or no improvement.
 

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There is so much that we dont know, so we have to be open and receptive to all ideas, beliefs, evidence, knowledge etc. We then have to decide what influences were present and if, in the end they apply to our way of thinking and lives. There are many things that we believe that may or may not be true and right, but in the end the word "faith" is the decision maker for our own thoughts and beliefs!


Jo xxx
 

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There is so much that we dont know, so we have to be open and receptive to all ideas, beliefs, evidence, knowledge etc. We then have to decide what influences were present and if, in the end they apply to our way of thinking and lives. There are many things that we believe that may or may not be true and right, but in the end the word "faith" is the decision maker for our own thoughts and beliefs!


Jo xxx
Which is why we humans have made such a mess of things! Faith in itself is worthless...it depends on the object of the faith. Many Germans had faith in Hitler.
Until medical knowledge progressed people had faith in leeches and lobotomies as cures.
Some people have what I would see as a misplaced faith in reason and science. By that I don't mean that we shouldn't use our faculties of reason in everyday life. But to me a belief in **** sapiens as a supremely rational being is just that, a belief, a faith.
Emotion, culture and downright irrationality are more important influences on most people's actions, as history shows us.
There are often situations where there may be two or more equally reasonable courses of action presented. In such situations our choices are based on subjective preferences for one course as against the others.
 

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Which is why we humans have made such a mess of things! Faith in itself is worthless...it depends on the object of the faith. Many Germans had faith in Hitler.
Until medical knowledge progressed people had faith in leeches and lobotomies as cures.
Some people have what I would see as a misplaced faith in reason and science. By that I don't mean that we shouldn't use our faculties of reason in everyday life. But to me a belief in **** sapiens as a supremely rational being is just that, a belief, a faith.
Emotion, culture and downright irrationality are more important influences on most people's actions, as history shows us.
There are often situations where there may be two or more equally reasonable courses of action presented. In such situations our choices are based on subjective preferences for one course as against the others.
Very true. My comments were more about "the unknown" - religion, faith healing, spiritualism, mind over matter - that kind of thing. It interests me that intelligent and educated people can have faith in things that seem impossible and even crazy

Jo xxx
 

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Very true. My comments were more about "the unknown" - religion, faith healing, spiritualism, mind over matter - that kind of thing. It interests me that intelligent and educated people can have faith in things that seem impossible and even crazy

Jo xxx
I think that Alcalaina was right when she said that humans need something to believe in. That is very true. Life is chaotic, unpredictable..sometimes even apparently senseless.
People need to make some sort of sense out of all this in order to have some meaning or purpose in life or just to stay sane.
Some turn to transcendental religions such as Christianity etc. whilst others turn to secular religions...socialism, humanism, fascism and so on. I envy those who have either kind of faith.
As we can never know everything and all knowledge is provisional, I am suspicious of any creed that pretends to be THE only truth. This is dangerous thinking as if I am right and you disagree with me you are a heretic, a fomenter of false beliefs and must be silenced. Hence the Inquisition, the burning of religious dissidents in Tudor England, the death penalty for infidels in militant Islam and the repression and cruelty which follows all revolutions, from the French to the Russian to the many and various Latin-american revolutions of both Left and Right.
But all that doesn't mean tht we should conduct our everyday affairs in a random manner or that scientific method shouldn't be applied wherever appropriate.
I don't have faith in science per se but I do accept scientific method and procedures as an essential tool for furthering our knowledge of the universe.
 

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Very true. My comments were more about "the unknown" - religion, faith healing, spiritualism, mind over matter - that kind of thing. It interests me that intelligent and educated people can have faith in things that seem impossible and even crazy

Jo xxx
For me, your list of 'unknowns' simply is a list of things about which we will never 'know' anything as there is nothing to know about them. They are all symptomatic of, as Alcalaina said, a number of people's desire to have a faith in something. I guess I am lucky as I don't have such a need although I have many friends who do. Rather curiously, I have never met a religious person who I could describe as happy. This is probably a horrible overstatement as I don't really bother with religious people and therefore have never known them very deeply. When I know somebody is religious (because they said they were) I remain polite. When they try to convert me (why do the do that?) I simply explain, 'Don't bring your problems to me.' But to defend my statement, in my life I have never met anyone whom I could honestly say was really happy and who followed a faith driven belief system. My Father was a Mormon and so too were/are most of his extended family. And this is one family who are clearly not happy, wrestling as they have to with their church's rules and their own desires. Ah well. Makes life interesting, doesn't it?
 

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For me, your list of 'unknowns' simply is a list of things about which we will never 'know' anything as there is nothing to know about them. They are all symptomatic of, as Alcalaina said, a number of people's desire to have a faith in something. I guess I am lucky as I don't have such a need although I have many friends who do. Rather curiously, I have never met a religious person who I could describe as happy. This is probably a horrible overstatement as I don't really bother with religious people and therefore have never known them very deeply. When I know somebody is religious (because they said they were) I remain polite. When they try to convert me (why do the do that?) I simply explain, 'Don't bring your problems to me.' But to defend my statement, in my life I have never met anyone whom I could honestly say was really happy and who followed a faith driven belief system. My Father was a Mormon and so too were/are most of his extended family. And this is one family who are clearly not happy, wrestling as they have to with their church's rules and their own desires. Ah well. Makes life interesting, doesn't it?

While, I dont "do" religion either, I do know many who take great comfort from their "faith" and are happy - well content?! There is a place for it and it gives lots of people a sense of belonging and guidance. I'm just not into all the "correct procedures"or having a church hierarchy telling me what god wants and thinks, especially when it conflicts with an equally committed elder from another religion. But thats another story. I still find it fascinating that people - even some doctors, scientists, accountants etc do have a genuine belief and faith.

Jo xxx
 

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I have only ever come across one scientist who was also religious. And even more curiously he was my physics guru, one of the world's greatest quantum physicists. Towards the end of my studies I just had to ask him how he dealt with quantum physics and believing in a god. I should add that not only was he a wonderful tutor and physicist he was also a lay preacher. His reply was, 'Please, don't make me go there. I know, fundamentally that a god system simply cannot exist. Quantum physics doesn't just tell us this, it proves it conclusively; but the other part of my brain, the very bit I cannot understand, tells me otherwise and that I must have this faith. It is the very downfall of my life but I have to co-exist with it. Thank you so much for not understanding.' I shall never forget those words. They were laced with anguish and laughter, all at the same time. And I shall never forget him. He is still alive btw...
 

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For me, your list of 'unknowns' simply is a list of things about which we will never 'know' anything as there is nothing to know about them. They are all symptomatic of, as Alcalaina said, a number of people's desire to have a faith in something. I guess I am lucky as I don't have such a need although I have many friends who do. Rather curiously, I have never met a religious person who I could describe as happy. This is probably a horrible overstatement as I don't really bother with religious people and therefore have never known them very deeply. When I know somebody is religious (because they said they were) I remain polite. When they try to convert me (why do the do that?) I simply explain, 'Don't bring your problems to me.' But to defend my statement, in my life I have never met anyone whom I could honestly say was really happy and who followed a faith driven belief system. My Father was a Mormon and so too were/are most of his extended family. And this is one family who are clearly not happy, wrestling as they have to with their church's rules and their own desires. Ah well. Makes life interesting, doesn't it?
I don't know many religious people now..in fact I don't know any, thinking about it, but I did years ago as I was a regular Mass- goer and even did the readings and prayers. Everyone I knew was happy with their faith. Ours was a rather left-wing parish with a strong Peace and Justice group. I shared anti- nuclear platforms with Monsignor
Bruce Kent, as he then was and we demonstrated outside USAAF bases...When I asked our priest what would be his attitude to the fact that Sandra and I were a couple he replied that God had more things to worry about than what two mature ladies got up to at Number Two Acacia Gardens.

John Gray describes religion as a 'useful myth', valuable as a means of promoting social cohesion, mutuality and reciprocity as well as giving meaning and structure to life. Whilst agreeing with that in general, the problem for me is that some religions are just plain nasty.

I rather like the new Pope..I might be tempted back into the fold..
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Very true. My comments were more about "the unknown" - religion, faith healing, spiritualism, mind over matter - that kind of thing. It interests me that intelligent and educated people can have faith in things that seem impossible and even crazy

Jo xxx
Some things are indeed unknowable - the existence of gods being one. It is not a matter science can address as there is nothing to test - the concept is too tenuous.

Faith healing though can be tested and has been.

A Cochrane review of intercessory prayer[47] found conflicting evidence for claims of a positive effect, but there was a conclusion that "evidence presented so far is interesting enough to justify further study." A recent study not included in the review found that intercessory prayer had no effect on complication-free recovery from heart surgery, but curiously the group certain of receiving intercessory prayer experienced higher rates of complications
More here

The third party studies discussed here have all been performed using Christian prayers. Some have reported null results, some have reported correlations between prayer and health, and some have reported contradictory results in which beneficiaries of prayer had worsened health outcomes. The parameters used within the study designs have varied, for instance, daily or weekly prayers, whether to provide patient photographs, with full or partial names, measuring levels of belief in prayer, and whether patients underwent surgery.
Nevertheless some still have faith in the power of prayer and as with much involving faith (belief in the absence of evidence) there are dangers.

What's the harm in believing in faith healing?

Faith healing is the belief that religious faith alone can cure medical illnesses. Read more about faith healing

Here are 34 people who were harmed by someone not thinking critically.
 

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I spoke to a friend yesterday who told me that a week or so ago he went to see a spiritulist/faith healer. This person, whom he'd never set eyes on before, told him things about his daughter that only he,his wife and the daughter knew. He was also told that he had the power to heal. A few days later while driving along, his wife, in the passenger seat, suddenly complained of severe chest pains. My friend put his hand in front of her chest and the pains disappeared but leaving him with a grossly distended arm. What was that all about??? He is totally mystified as well.
 

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I spoke to a friend yesterday who told me that a week or so ago he went to see a spiritulist/faith healer. This person, whom he'd never set eyes on before, told him things about his daughter that only he,his wife and the daughter knew. He was also told that he had the power to heal. A few days later while driving along, his wife, in the passenger seat, suddenly complained of severe chest pains. My friend put his hand in front of her chest and the pains disappeared but leaving him with a grossly distended arm. What was that all about??? He is totally mystified as well.

Its interesting isnt it. Stuff happens that we dont understand, and dont have the technology (maybe technology is the problem??) or abstract thinking to enable us to - science as it is at the moment isnt able to analyse it because of predetermined scientific laws.

I'm not really into faith healing, spiritualism or mediums, I never understand why the cryptic comments and mystery - surely if the dead wanted to make contact they'd just say "I'm Jo's dad, tell her hi...." All of them like to surround themselves in enigmatic mystery and trances, but I love to know more and do try to understand it

Jo xxx
 

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Its interesting isnt it. Stuff happens that we dont understand, and dont have the technology (maybe technology is the problem??) or abstract thinking to enable us to - science as it is at the moment isnt able to analyse it because of predetermined scientific laws.

I'm not really into faith healing, spiritualism or mediums, I never understand why the cryptic comments and mystery - surely if the dead wanted to make contact they'd just say "I'm Jo's dad, tell her hi...." All of them like to surround themselves in enigmatic mystery and trances, but I love to know more and do try to understand it

Jo xxx
In a confused and emotional state at my mother's funeral I asked my Aunt Edith if she thought the dead could speak to us.
"No" came the firm reply, followed by "and I'm not sure I'd want them to".

That Dorset common sense just about sums it up.
 

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In a confused and emotional state at my mother's funeral I asked my Aunt Edith if she thought the dead could speak to us.
"No" came the firm reply, followed by "and I'm not sure I'd want them to".

That Dorset common sense just about sums it up.
A good few murders would be solved a lot easier if they did tho!!!

Jo xxx
 
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