I read a post by Ed Yong on shaking some people's beliefs and it backfires-- instead of discouraging them, we are actually encouraging them into becoming stronger advocates of their ideas.
It's easy to find examples of people holding on to their beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Thousands still hold to the idea that all life was created a few thousand years ago, that turning on your mobile phone at petrol kiosks could induce fire, and even that drinking industrial bleach is a good idea. Look at comment threads across the internet and you’ll inevitably find legions of people who boldly support for these ideas in the face of any rational argument.
There was an American cult leader, Dorothy Martin, who convinced her followers that flying saucers would rescue them from an apocalyptic flood. Many believed her, giving up their livelihoods, possessions and loved ones in anticipation of their alien saviours. When the fated moment came and nothing happened, the group decided that their dedication had spared the Earth from destruction. In a reversal of their earlier distaste for publicity, they started to actively evangelize their beliefs. Far from shattering their faith, the absent UFOs had turned them into zealous proselytizers.
Blame it on statistic? Chances?
It's like when you kill a baby girl in ancient China, you wouldn't feel the guilt because everyone was doing it. So why not? It becomes a norm, something so common and simple.
Einstein for example, who wasn't fond of Quantum Mechanics argued that the indeterministic nature of the quantum realm is simply too difficult to comprehend. He battled fiercely against the development of quantum theory, and lost.
|Einstein sucked at playing violin. But he played on. Image: being.publicradio.org|
|If you need it bad enough... you'll find a way. Image: michaelreid.typepad.com|
Defying all odds could mean two things: you are right, and the rest are wrong, OR they are right, and you are wrong. In Einstein's case, he was right about the speed of light, so he has every right to stand firm and snub at others. But he was wrong about quantum theory. In religion, however, we are always wrong, and the gods are always right, which is why we are mere mortals, and we always have to guess what the gods are planning for their next move. Talking about consistency and predictability...