In “Why We Don’t Believe in Science” (New Yorker, June 7, 2012), Jonah Lehrer reacts to the discovery that we still don’t believe Darwinists by dredging up studies alleged to show that we all have naive beliefs despite science education. Neuroscience hocus pocus is dragged in too.
While this new paper provides a compelling explanation for why Americans are so resistant to particular scientific concepts—the theory of evolution, for instance, contradicts both our naïve intuitions and our religious beliefs—it also builds upon previous research documenting the learning process inside the head. Until we understand why some people believe in science we will never understand why most people don’t.
The mindset (people who don’t agree with me have something wrong with their brains) is not compatible with liberal or social democracy. It is, however, highly compatible with failure to recognize one’s own errors. Indeed, at the top of this very article, we read
Editors’ Note: Portions of this post appeared in similar form in a December, 2009, piece by Jonah Lehrer for Wired magazine. We regret the duplication of material.
We don’t make ourselves judge and jury, except to say this: The issue isn’t “self-plagiarism” as his defenders claim, affecting an arty stance. (Is it really a crime to plagiarize … oneself? Glasses clink in background.)
No. It isn’t. You can repeat yourself till the cows come home. But it’s different when money changes hands. The second hand customer thought he was the first hand customer. He would likely have paid much less if he knew the facts.
It is very difficult for the materialist/Darwinist to believe that people might doubt him for good reasons, so he continues to attribute doubt to some sort of glitch.
Imagine! In an age when climate scientists made an explicit decision to accept “grey papers” and politically correct selection processes for scientists, there are actually studies asking what’s the matter with doubters. Not with accepters, but doubters.
Speaking of “naive assumptions” (a term of art with these people), they show a naive assumption – astonishing in the age of new media – that we don’t know about stuff like the fall of Diedrik Stapel or Marc Hauser. “Polls: Rising number doubt honesty among scientists” still means “brain malfunction” to them instead of wisely placed mistrust.
And who could forget the Darwin mob braying against neurosurgeon Ben Carson? Or the university administration’s irresponsible soothing of their egos? Such incidents signal that the problem will get worse as those people’s sense of entitlement grows.
This won’t change: Obedience may be compelled, but trust must be earned.
See also: Coping with the fact that most Americans still don’t believe Darwin.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose
Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain