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Professional skeptic Michael Shermer on convincing others when facts fail

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Pot. Kettle. Rusty. From Michael Shermer at Scientific American:

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data.

Creationists, for example, dispute the evidence for evolution in fossils and DNA because they are concerned about secular forces encroaching on religious faith. Anti-vaxxers distrust big pharma and think that money corrupts medicine, which leads them to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the inconvenient truth that the one and only study claiming such a link was retracted and its lead author accused of fraud. The 9/11 truthers focus on minutiae like the melting point of steel in the World Trade Center buildings that caused their collapse because they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations to create a New World Order. Climate deniers study tree rings, ice cores and the ppm of greenhouse gases because they are passionate about freedom, especially that of markets and industries to operate unencumbered by restrictive government regulations. More.

Michael Shermer should have look in his own rummage room. He might find more evidence there. As noted earlier elsewhere,

Fudging Truth for the Cause

One wonders why the “skeptic” Michael Shermer isn’t embarrassed by his praise of peer review in Scientific American, “The Believing Brain: Why Science Is the Only Way Out of Belief-Dependent Realism” (2011).27 He sounds so astonishingly naive. As is so often the case when a troubled currency’s value is diminishing, the underlying crisis is philosophical.

Why does he need to believe in this stuff? Recently, he got as far as realizing that the social sciences he relies on are in large part replication desert, fraud squad files, and party pep rally.

At any rate, if Shermer gets the time, he’ll find plenty of material there for his next column on what to do when facts fail. The only people who even pretend to take the discipline seriously now are those who intend using it to shove unpopular policies down voters’ throats. It doesn’t always work.

See also: Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

Coffee!! Urban legends still alive and well in social psychology But as long as students pay without protest, it’s hard to see how anything will change. Except that, gradually, schools may just start de-emphasizing or dumping social sciences.

and

Seven myths of social psychology

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2 Replies to “Professional skeptic Michael Shermer on convincing others when facts fail

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    “When Facts Fail”: Oh The Irony – Cornelius Hunter
    Excerpt: Fossils and DNA
    Because when an evolutionist, such as Michael Shermer in this case, warns readers that people don’t change their minds even when presented with the facts, the irony should be savored:,,,
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....irony.html

  2. 2

    This is just stupid. Shermer knows better…or at least he should. Intellectually embarrassing.

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