Banner
    What Do You Believe?
    By Gerhard Adam | February 17th 2010 02:20 PM | 71 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Gerhard

    I'm not big on writing things about myself so a friend on this site (Brian Taylor) opted to put a few sentences together: Hopefully I'll be able...

    View Gerhard's Profile
    Usually when the word "belief" comes up, the first thought is religion, but the general occurrence of beliefs is actually a much broader concept.

    Beliefs may be religious, supernatural, philosophical, etc.  In short, we all have beliefs that define how we think the world works and how we should interact with it.  Beliefs bridge the gap between what we "know" and what we "assume" in order to function in the world and make decisions.    

    An important point that needs to be understood is that our individual beliefs don't necessarily reflect what we know to be true.  In other words, we may believe many things, personally, that are impossible to prove scientifically, or even that we know are unlikely to be true and yet we continue to believe them anyway.

    In some cases, this may be little more than a psychological mechanism to cope with a seemingly random or dangerous world.  In addition there are many instances where we are faced with huge obstacles or problems for which we might be analytically paralyzed if we only considered what we "know to be true1".  

    Many people will use varying degrees of assessing information and adjust their "beliefs" accordingly, probably because they "believe" that it is a better philosophical position to be in.  As a result, we expect people that are more scientific to formulate their personal beliefs around scientific knowledge, while religious people will formulate their personal beliefs around their religion.  

    It becomes clear that conflict is inevitable when one set of beliefs is used to suggest that another set is untrue.  Note that this doesn't have to change the underlying "facts" or "truth" of a situation, but merely our interpretation of those "facts".

    So what's the point?

    Humans present a unique problem since they are capable of evaluating abstract information and drawing conclusions giving rise to rational thought. Specifically, humans do not need to directly experience something to be capable of contemplating it.  Whether such a capability exists in other animals is open to interpretation, but it is fair to say that, at the least, humans possess a fairly unique form of rationality.  Ultimately this has given rise to philosophy and the scientific method and the means by which we can measure, assess, and interpret the world around us in a reasonably accurate manner and develop conclusions that allow us to predict future events.  However, for all that science has achieved, it is fundamentally impractical as a means of actually living and surviving in the world.  Many decisions must be made with incomplete knowledge and often our experiences must be capable of drawing conclusions from a single data point.  In short, we must formulate a belief in how things work whether or not they are true.  In other words, our beliefs are what helps the world "make sense" to use at some level.

    One could certainly construct an evolutionary scenario where the beliefs that an individual held might directly affect their fitness.  Similarly one could envision how the sharing of such beliefs might give rise to culture and other social bonds.  However, these views may be impossible to prove, but it seems reasonable to conclude that it is likely true that the beliefs held by an individual would be shaped by whether they had consequences to the believer.

    This gives rise to an interesting exercise in considering what people believe versus what they profess to believe. In many cases, this can be quite striking because one is forced to reconcile beliefs with "real-world" results.

    For example, we tend to "believe" in the laws of gravity.  Even with the most cursory scientific understanding, we all follow those laws because at some fundamental level we appreciate the consequences of violating them.  Therefore we can argue about details regarding gravitation from the scientific perspective, but we are all cautious in elevated places because we "know" what gravity can do.  In short, there are consequences that govern our "belief".  In effect, our belief is unnecessary, but regardless of the facts, we must integrate this knowledge into our belief system as a necessary condition to understanding how the world works.

    If we consider other beliefs we may find that there is a wide difference between what an individual professes and their actions.  In this case, we can conclude that such a violation of beliefs is possible because they don't really think that there are consequences.  There may be a rationalization that there are, but at a fundamental psychological level, that viewpoint simply doesn't exist.  Once again, using a simple example.  If an individual believes that cursing or using profanity is wrong, but they periodically engage in it anyway then they are rationalizing a belief.  In other words, they don't actually believe that it is wrong, because in the final analysis they don't believe there are real consequences to it.  While many may argue that this view is unnecessarily restrictive, it illustrates the point.  One would not expect an individual to walk off the roof of a building and then claim that they didn't mean to do that or that they were sorry.  The understanding of what the effects of gravity are clearly permeate the belief system so that the consequences of ignoring it are real.  In the latter case, such consequences are less clear and as a result, the belief isn't nearly as strongly ingrained.

    In this latter case, we can find many instances of claiming a particular belief while an individual's actions clearly indicate otherwise.

    There is also a third possibility that bears consideration; where a particular belief does bear consequences, even if it isn't as strict as a scientific principle might be. This falls squarely into the domain of culture, where a persistent set of beliefs results in consequences (or protection from consequences) because of the actions of others.  In such cases, it becomes clear that beliefs cannot be changed unless there are consequences associated with the actions perpetrated by those beliefs.  Individuals that are shielded from the consequences of their beliefs can never change them.

    If a group of people believe that it is wrong to carry any debt, so they save up money to pay for everything in full.  However, their ability to do so is explicitly dependent on having others that are willing to carry debt (businesses, etc.), so that they can maintain their cash flows, etc in providing the jobs needed.  In this case, one belief is possible only because the majority doesn't share the same view.  Unlike our example of gravity, belief costs nothing and therefore can span many possibilities. In effect, a cultural form of natural selection has been stopped. Consider that it is easy to be a pacifist when one is protected by a well-equipped military. It is easy to oppose vaccines, as long as the majority of people still get them.

    So where does that leave us?

    As a society, one of the major problems that have to be dealt with is the unrelenting diversity of ideas that people profess to believe.  Whether these ideas are political, religious, sociological, etc., the point is that these will continue to escalate until people have to face the consequences of their choices.  It would seem that one of the most important things we can do as a society is to define, specifically, what we do believe.  In the U.S., some of this occurs with rituals like the Pledge of Allegiance where the intend is to profess a set of "beliefs" regarding the nation similar to what many religions do when they recite their respective creeds.

    It is from this perspective of recitation or articulated creeds that we can condense a particular belief system down to its core elements against which all members of the group are expected to adhere.  There is generally nothing in such a creed that defines behaviors, but rather it is used to define the minimal set of tenets to create a unifying belief system.

    As a result, it is important to understand that no amount of factual information or scientific data will ever sway someone from their beliefs until such information can be integrated into the existing belief system.  It doesn't matter whether something is true, it only matters whether people believe it to be true.  

    So, what do you believe?

    1I am being somewhat liberal in my use of the word "true" to signify something that would be considered scientifically accurate or correct, but even in this sense, we can't assume that "truth" is actually so precisely evaluated at an individual level.

    Comments

    Well written - some nice distinctions there!

    Richard King
    Everything is belief, until you reach the level where you know.
    logicman
    A very well written article, Gerhard.

    Your continuing theme of what you call 'the luxury of belief' has, I think, application to modern economics.  Specifically, people either do not consider the global impacts of their consumer choices or they do not know of them.  It matters not if people believe that food comes from shops or from farms if they are isolated from the consequences of their dependence on society at large for their food.

    In the UK we have long since passed the point of being self-sufficient in food production.  In both world wars the UK was almost brought to its knees as imports of foods dwindled.  Even at the height of shortages and rationing, many people just did not realise that food comes from farms, not factories.

    The consequence of the division of labor across geographical boundaries is that consumers are multiply isolated from producers.  In effect, city dwellers - from the luxury of isolation - enjoy the luxury of ignorance, an ignorance of all the financial and societal costs of bringing food, consumer goods, utilities and services to their locality.
    Gerhard Adam
    Thank you Patrick.

    Actually from our earlier discussion, I'm inclined to think that such ignorance as your describing is an expected consequence of our increasing specialization (or division of labor) within our society.  Effectively we don't have the time to acquire the knowledge to ensure our own survival, so we give up that control to "someone else out there" to deal with it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    we don't have the time to acquire the knowledge to ensure our own survival
    Can you imagine the average city dweller forced to perform such a simple task as getting warmth from fire?  I picture a burning of toxic materials in a plastic imitation fireplace with no ventilation in the room.  Cynic?  Moi?
    Gerhard Adam
    Of course.  Even more telling is our perpetual use of the term "survival" when describing a wilderness experience.  This term invariably implies a return to "normalcy" after some period of "surviving".  It rarely occurs to anyone that it is possible to "live" in the wilderness.
    Mundus vult decipi
    kerrjac
    On the subject of the UK and belief, The Economist has been harping about discrepancies between the growing domestic belief that Britain is a "broken society", and the actual stats, which show that, overall, it's not that bad. Any thoughts?
    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15452811

    logicman
    The English language and economics:

    1910: broken = repairable.

    2010: broken = landfill.

    My 2 cents.
    Aitch
    kerr jac
    As an Englishman, I am well aware of the malady that pervades English society.
    It is not just a belief, it is encouraged by the 'leadership' because a destroyed humanity is easier to control, and control is very strong at the moment, especially in UK. One only needs to look back a few years to civil unrest and peaceful protests. People, myself included, felt we could create a new awareness, and bring about change.
    The result was even heavier handed policing and of course the 'engineered' 7/7 and 9/11 'terrorist disasters'
    They simply stole the agenda. The focus. The belief!
    My instincts tell me we've been set up!!
    My instincts tell me to not trust any of it.
    However, I appear to be a lone voice in the wilderness of acceptance of social slavery.....
    Do you wonder, when the very media reporting the story, is a tool of the control philosophy spreading despair
    There is an agenda for global control. At the moment we can talk reasonably freely on the web....but for how much longer?.....if there isn't a backlash soon, to strengthen what freedom we do have in our hearts, which cannot be imprisoned?

    I urge people to watch videos like this...which will no doubt get pulled and replaced, like so many others.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P772Eb63qIY

    Knowledge is power!

    Slavery is a belief, but enforced with money and guns, it becomes a prison, or worse, death

    I do normally try to encourage people, but you asked.....

    Aitch
    You see, this is why I am a misanthropic recluse....more commomly known as a hermit. LOL

    Good article, Gerhard. : )
    Gerhard Adam
    Thanks Eric

    ...misanthropic recluse...
    It does make you wonder how other species view themselves, doesn't it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    briantaylor
    I don't usually comment just to say "nice work" or "well done."
    You know me Gerhard, I like to get in there and see what's cookin'...
    But sometimes there's really nothing to add. I even looked through a couple books, to see if, or instance, Uncle Bertrand had any thoughts on it, he does, but they too add nothing to your fine report.
    I also liked the tone of the piece.
    I've noticed that the "Philosophy dept." of this fantastic website has a very subtle theme developing. I think it has only very recently become self aware.
    It's not exactly a secret, this invisible elephant in the room.
    Evaluation of belief is a healthy projection of reason in an unreasonable world.
    Anything anyone does to promote philosophy as a verb is doing good work.
    I've noticed that you have no bio, I thought perhaps you wouldn't mind if I wrote it for you...

    Prolific contributor to scientificblogging.com, Gerhard Adam, the man in the white hat, philosophizes from his ranch on life, thought and the luxury of belief. His blog is a seemingly never ending supply of thought provoking, educational explorations into the world of the mind.

    I think this sums it up well enough, but I guess you'll not use any of this...
    Probably just blush and go milk a cow or something.


    logicman
    Prolific contributor to scientificblogging.com, Gerhard Adam, the man in the white hat, philosophizes from his ranch on life, thought and the luxury of belief. His blog is a seemingly never ending supply of thought provoking, educational explorations into the world of the mind.

    So, I take it you like Gerhard's style then Brian. :)

    btw, I gladly second your words.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, if you have no objection (and I would definitely credit you) ... I will use this as my bio.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Probably just blush and go milk a cow or something.
    Wait ... you can milk a cow too???
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually I've never kept dairy cows, but when they were younger my daughters used to milk goats.  :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    briantaylor
    I couldn't possibly object.
    briantaylor
    Well, let's not get carried away...
    Mark Changizi
    I couldn't fit this into my own framework, so am ignoring.  ;)  (Nice piece.) -Mark
    kerrjac
    Cool post, great ideas and I like where you're going with them.
    A few thoughts.
    If an individual believes that cursing or using profanity is wrong, but they periodically engage in it anyway then they are rationalizing a belief.  In other words, they don't actually believe that it is wrong, because in the final analysis they don't believe there are real consequences to it.
    There are a few ways to go about the 'rationalism' of beliefs. Similar to an equation, one method is to assume that all beliefs are true, and then to use that to inform the situation. For example, the person may believe that concepts such as wrong do not apply to him. Or, more realistic, he may believe that, from time to time, his actions are wrong. 

    Certainly rational beliefs should be dealt with - and perhaps tested - rationally. But few things that people do are built from rational premises, we use words, for instance, without being able to define them. I guess that's sometimes forgotten, but it's not a bad thing. One thing that this gets to is the value of science - which cannot be quantified. This is the big "so what?" that you need to answer, say, when applying for a grant, and it is an important question, but not a scientific one. A corollary being that art for art's sake makes sense, but science for science's sake doesn't.  

    When you have a dream and something in it seems incredibly important, its emotional salience is often more true to you than the truth of any cold fact in the outside world. I take this as a metaphor for approaching things in the real world - GK Chesterton likens it to a fairy tale, such as the one "about a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law", where the importance of, say, rescuing the princess from the dragon is self-evident and not of question.

    As a result, it is important to understand that no amount of factual information or scientific data will ever sway someone from their beliefs until such information can be integrated into the existing belief system.  It doesn't matter whether something is true, it only matters whether people believe it to be true.  
    There's a sort of soft or fuzzy logic to beliefs, which make them funny to deal with rationally. They relate to each other in an odd way that Hofstatder might call a strange loop.
    Gerhard Adam
    Thanks for the comments.  In my view the point is that beliefs are what shape our approach and understanding of the world around us.  If they are based on rational principles or science, then at some point we will have synthesized that information and integrated it into our belief system. 

    This is one reason why it is impossible to believe something based solely on factual information.  It must become integrated into our worldview so that we explicitly see that connection.  This is one of the big difficulties in learning science, because at some level it must be understood thoroughly enough to be integrated in such a fashion.  If not, you run into a weird situation where you believe one thing, but your "factual" or "logical" view of the world exists independent of yourself.  That sort of contradiction doesn't hold and actually touches on your first point about rationalizing beliefs.

    In many cases, the rationalizing of beliefs is initiated when there is a perception that many others share such a belief, so it is important to be considered part of such a group.  This is clearly seen when politicians pander to certain groups by professing beliefs that they obviously do not really have.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fred Pauser
    Gerhard,



    I agree, it's a very good article. However, you have barely touched upon one aspect concerning beliefs that I think deserves more emphasis…

    but it seems reasonable to conclude that it is likely true that the beliefs held by an individual would be shaped by whether they had consequences to the believer.

    […]

    Individuals that are shielded from the consequences of their beliefs can never change them.




    Indeed, and what is the nature of said consequences? ->

    Many people will use varying degrees of assessing information and adjust their "beliefs" accordingly, probably because they "believe" that it is a better philosophical position to be in. As a result, we expect people that are more scientific to formulate their personal beliefs around scientific knowledge, while religious people will formulate their personal beliefs around their religion.


    (The emphasis on the word "better," is mine.) As Epicurus, Einstein, and many others have stated (paraphrased): Every decision humans make is based upon the desire to decrease pain or increase satisfaction (pleasure/pain principle). That includes decisions pertaining to the development of our beliefs.



    Fundamentalist Christians gain considerable comfort by buying into church groups of individuals who share a set of supposedly indisputable beliefs such as the literal word of the Bible, and a God who helps and watches over them. That means rejecting conflicting views such as the scientific evolution of life. Their Creationist speakers rationalize away unwanted views of science. Bottom line: Their religion makes them FEEL BETTER than alternative beliefs.



    Fans if Scientific Blogging tend to believe according to what the best tested, most logical, most reality-based evidence indicates to be true. Somewhere along the line we have decided that is the best way to minimize pain and maximize satisfaction in the long run.



    But when we get into the details of individual beliefs, no two people's beliefs are identical. Yet the pleasure/pain principle underlies all beliefs (I believe). Nature -- our individual genetics -- primarily determines what causes each of us pain or pleasure. Secondarily, and in conjunction with that, each person's experiences further shape what causes pain or pleasure. From that, beliefs develop, and are tested as to whether they "work" -- that is, do they alleviate pain or increase pleasure? To the extent we are not satisfied, we may look for "better" beliefs.
    Gerhard Adam
    Fred;

    While I understand your perspective, I would also partially disagree.  The reason it's only partial, because you could interpret my point of view as being part of the pain/pleasure process.

    It would seem that the primary objective that most humans share is wanting to have control over their environment and circumstances.  Therefore, the beliefs they are most inclined to embrace are those that satisfy that need.  In the case of science, it is the comfort in having cause/effect kinds of relationships and the belief that everything ultimately has an explanation.  In the case of religion, it may be that there is a more powerful form of justice and control in the world that is looking out for their interests.

    In both cases, the issue is control and who has it. 

    Therefore, the consequences of a faulty belief is having that control challenged or even blatantly contradicted.  If that occurs, in most cases an individual's beliefs will be badly shaken if not destroyed.  At that point, an individual will no longer trust their belief and be amenable to accepting an alternate perspective. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fred Pauser
    …you could interpret my point of view as being part of the pain/pleasure process.




    Agreed, and I quoted where you hint of the underlying pleasure/pain (P/P) process. My point is that P/P is so fundamentally intertwined with beliefs that it deserves more than hints. But perhaps I'm being unfair in that a blog article is not intended to be a comprehensive treatise.



    It would seem that the primary objective that most humans share is wanting to have control over their environment and circumstances.


    We know that absolute control over our circumstances is impossible, but certainly we want some sense of control toward satisfying our various needs -- needs which again involve P/P. And when we feel in control in a given situation, that in itself is comforting.



    People who become "born again" fundamentalist Christians often do so because they are frustrated, suffering anxiety, unhappy. They "let go and let God." It's initially about alleviating pain. Afterward, they know they still must earn a living, make decisions, etc., but they may "feel guided," less personally burdened -- although such relief may be purely psychological.



    If that occurs, in most cases an individual's beliefs will be badly shaken if not destroyed. At that point, an individual will no longer trust their belief and be amenable to accepting an alternate perspective.




    Yes -- if a particular belief leads to pain instead of satisfaction, hopefully the person can accept the error and amend beliefs according to what the data may suggest.



    At the following website a philosopher discusses beliefs in conjunction with P/P:

    http://www.whyhuman.com/basics3.html


    Gerhard Adam
    Fred;

    You're absolutely right and it does deserve a more comprehensive discussion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "In this latter case, we can find many instances of claiming a particular belief while an individual's actions clearly indicate otherwise."

    I would not fully agree with that, or rather, the examples.
    Everyone knows a bullet tends to kill or hurt you, yet so many play with guns.
    People have a tendency to do things if they "believe" that there will not be immediate and horrific consequences.
    (and even then, there is no cure for stupidity)

    I would put your examples of swearing in the same category.
    They believe that swearing is wrong, but since no one is wacking them with a big stick when they swear, they do it, even though they believe it is wrong.

    And then you end up with a "guilty conscience"
    But then, you get hypocrites as well...
    ;)

    Gerhard Adam
    They believe that swearing is wrong, but since no one is wacking them with a big stick when they swear, they do it, even though they believe it is wrong.
    Which is precisely my point.  There are no consequences and therefore their belief is a rationalized one and not one that they've integrated into their behavior.  As I mentioned previously, I don't need someone to remind me of the consequences of ignoring gravity. 

    Even in your example of bullets and guns, there is an interesting perspective that most people will have since an injury from playing with guns is often viewed as being careless (and therefore the individual's own fault).  There are many cases of where we believe we can get away with something or that the rules don't apply to us.  Once again, all of these are rationalized beliefs because we don't think there are any consequences attached to our actions (or at the very least we think that we can beat the odds).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard
    On another forum, I use this as a sig, below posts
    "On observance: Place banana in your ear.
    Observe that there are no alligators around.
    Conclude: Bananas placed in ears keep alligators away :)"

    It could just as well be applied to beliefs as observance

    The thread was far too serious, IMO

    Aitch

    rychardemanne
    I think I was born without a belief-chip! The world was a source of confusion as I couldn't understand what people were doing with their lives. It seemed to me that beliefs were a shorthand way of not having to think too deeply.

    But we are neurological beings and it seems as if at some level knowledge and beliefs are equivalent. I find this disturbing. So-called reality-checking is rarely done by comparing ideas with reality but rather comparing those ideas with previous ideas, which just compounds the propagation of fluff.

    In the sciences there is external reality-checking. We can reference all kinds of information and check if they agree with our beliefs. There are philosophical problems with how theories relate to experimental data so there are times when multiple theories may be held. In religions, our western culture has assumed there are no equivalent measures to test reality; faith is assumed to be the stepping stone from naturalism to supernaturalism. But eastern philosophies take an altogether different road. If it can be put into one method, it is to destroy all beliefs until there is nothing left - then see what the human experience feels like. It is little different to science continually testing the boundaries of knowledge.

    But as research seems to confirm, testing oneself is psychologically painful and people avoid it. That does not mean we should accept those beliefs as equivalent.

    In this context, the end of the nihilist road is not self-destruction but clarity.
    Gerhard Adam
    It seemed to me that beliefs were a shorthand way of not having to think too deeply.
    Precisely which is both a benefit and a liability.  It can obviously be a liability if it is used to promote lazy thinking.  It is beneficial when one encounters something that is unknown, since it immediately places boundary conditions on what we may analyze something to be.

    As an example I've used before, if you hear a noise at night, you're not obligated to consider every possible cause (i.e. supernatural, etc.).  Instead our belief system frames the nature of our inquiry into what the origin of the noise might be.  Similarly this is precisely what drives the scientific method, in that when an unknown phenomenon is encountered, we immediately recognize that there must be a cause.  Other beliefs may also have other avenues of exploration, but invariably it will always "frame" the possible options.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think that the consequence of swearing depends on who you swear in front of. Reactions will range from indifference to offense to just quietly thinking that you're vulgar - and most of the time, you won't be aware of the consequences. I find swearing to be a great stress reliever.

    respect the right to belief, not the belief
    http://ntrygg.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/respect-the-right-to-but-not-the-...

    how the left and right aren't really different
    http://ntrygg.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/the-right-and-left-are-closer-tha...

    purpose of life
    http://ntrygg.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/purpose-of-capitol-l-life/

    Gerhard Adam
    I think that the consequence of swearing depends on who you swear in front of. Reactions will range from indifference to offense to just quietly thinking that you're vulgar - and most of the time, you won't be aware of the consequences.
    Sorry if I wasn't more clear, but my example was intended to address the issue of the Ten Commandments and the prohibition of taking the Lord's name in vain.  This is the type of example, that illustrates my point because you are absolutely correct in pointing out the general attitude towards swearing and the fact that the majority of people don't consider it to have much consequence.  However, if their belief were truly based on the Ten Commandments, then they would feel much more strongly about such a violation.

    Therefore my conclusion is that while one may profess a strongly religious belief in the Ten Commandments.  A violation of this commandment clearly suggests that the "consequences" are not being taken seriously and normal social behaviors would take precedence.  After all, a believer in the Ten Commandments needs to consider that they were not assigned any particular priority, so therefore "taking the Lord's name in vain" is every bit as serious as stealing and murder.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    Gerhard: some thoughts from a semi-atheist with spiritual leanings - or is that vice versa?


    Many centuries after Moses, a carpenter from Nazareth suggested that the ten rules to live by could be condensed to two: 'love God' and 'love mankind'.

    It is exceedingly difficult for an atheist to comply with the first of those two, but compliance with the second can be a source of great joy.  Who knows?  Perhaps if there is a kindly, benevolent and merciful God, then He may well allow that a genuine love of His creation may be weighed in the balance.
    ----------------

    Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw, within the moonlight of his room,
    Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
    An angel writing in a book of gold:-

    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
    And to the presence in the room he said,
    'What writest thou?' - The vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord,
    Answered 'The names of those who love the Lord.'

    'And is mine one?' said Abou. 'Nay, not so,'
    Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerly still; and said 'I pray thee then,
    Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.'

    The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
    It came again with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names who love of God had blessed,
    And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

    James Henry Leigh Hunt
    (1784–1859)
    taken as a whole, the 10 commandments can be prioritized into 2 groups

    1. blind worship of authority - which is most of them - worshiping god, parents, being obeident, etc

    2 interacting with others - not envying or stealing or killing

    interesting, assault, rape and slave owning is just fine

    the priority of the commandments is worshipping authority unquestioningly, which would include not taking the name in vain

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I have to agree with you random. I'm surprised that there is no mention of 'indoctrination' in this blog, especially as so many false beliefs stem from being indoctrinated at a very young age by people in positions of authority. Like many religions, cults and sects the jesuits exploited this to the full with their maxim  'give me a child until the age of seven and I will give you the man'.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm surprised that there is no mention of 'indoctrination' in this blog
    Helen, all teaching is ultimately "indoctrination".  The negative connotation only occurs when it comes from a source you disapprove of. 

    While you can certainly state that indoctrination isn't an appropriate description of anything that involves critical thinking, that isn't the case when it comes to belief systems.  The point here is that one cannot verify all sources of information and therefore one accepts certain information depending on the perceived trustworthiness of the source. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Gerhard, all teaching is not ultimately indoctrination. See http://www.thefreedictionary.com/indoctrinate

    indoctrinate
    1. to teach (a person or group of people) systematically to accept doctrines, esp uncritically
    2. Rare to impart learning to; instruct
    indoctrination n
    indoctrinator n

    From Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    Thesaurus Legend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
    Verb
    1.indoctrinate - teach doctrines to; teach uncritically; "The Moonies indoctrinate their disciples"
    revolutionise, revolutionize, inspire - fill with revolutionary ideas
    brainwash - submit to brainwashing; indoctrinate forcibly, instruct, teach, learn - impart skills or knowledge to; "I taught them French"; "He instructed me in building a boat"

    From WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2008 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.

    indoctrinate
    verb brainwash, school, train, teach, drill, initiate, instruct, imbue
    They have been completely indoctrinated.

    See Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Except for the role of critical thinking, of course indoctrination is teaching.  That's precisely what parents and everyone engages in.  If you want to call it "brainwashing" go ahead, because it's equally true.

    The only time indoctrination doesn't occur is when we introduce subjects to which we expect the individual to critically evaluate arguments and establish "facts".  However, within the context of belief systems, we have to recognize that "facts" are not matters of belief since they have been independently and objectively verified.  Therefore belief systems are formed (utilizing some of this information) by what we are told by others.  In other words, what we have been told to believe.

    When you taught your kids to be polite, or to take baths, or to share with others.... where you asking them to critically evaluate these ideas or were you "brainwashing" them to do these unconditionally?  If you taught your kids values regarding how to behave and treat others, were these subject to critical thinking or did you simply wish to instill them (i.e. brainwashing)?

    The point is that we don't mind engaging in "critical thinking" discussions when our kids become teenagers, but I have yet to meet the parent that is willing to debate these points with a 6 year old.  Everything being taught is "brainwashing" or indoctrination, precisely because we don't want any argument about what we consider important.

    Even in other areas, do you think it isn't indoctrination when you learn your multiplication tables?  government classes?  even science classes (before university-level)? 

    As I said, I can appreciate that you don't like some of the indoctrination that is occurring from unapproved authority figures, but it is all one in the same thing.  Even the definitions you listed do not clearly differentiate indoctrination from teaching, drilling, and training.  I can also appreciate that indoctrination has a negative connotation, but (like it or not) that's precisely how belief systems are acquired. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    The point is that we don't mind engaging in "critical thinking" discussions when our kids become teenagers, but I have yet to meet the parent that is willing to debate these points with a 6 year old. Everything being taught is "brainwashing" or indoctrination, precisely because we don't want any argument about what we consider important.
    Well now you've met that parent, its me. I've debated everything with my children since they could talk. I believe in teaching by example but also by explaining to them and allowing them to experience to some extent some of the negative consequences that result from their own actions. I'm a great believer in allowing children to discuss and question anything and everything they want. I have rarely said to them 'do this just because i say so or else', I also never smacked them.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    When there was a point you wanted your kids to learn ... how many times did you back down and let them draw their own conclusions?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I'm not sure what you mean? I wasn't really very organised at teaching them points but whenever I wanted them to do something healthy or not do something dangerous I usually simply argued my case, I don't remember ever saying 'you will do that because I say so' or 'you can't do that because I say so', they normally listened to reason but sometimes they did the wrong things, I couldn't stop them. However, I still think that if you treat children with respect they then usually behave much more responsibly than children who are just ordered around and told this is the way it is, do as your told, eat this, don't eat that, don't contradict etc.

    For example they wouldn't wear their crash helmets riding their bikes to school and back and they wouldn't walk down the long, steep drive to our farm, so occasionally they crashed and got hurt. If I asked their father to back me up his attitude was 'they're boys, they'll learn the hard way'. Going to bed was another battle, not playing too many computer games, doing their homework, all battles that I often lost really, but we certainly discussed and debated them a lot and often they gave in just so that they didn't have to listen to me any more. A bit like you do sometimes. :)

    The end result is that now they sleep, exercise and eat more healthily than me and discuss and debate everything a lot and have a strong sense of justice, though they have been known to resort to fist fights with each other when words and discussion get them nowhere, but at least they didn't learn that from me. I think that smacking and forcing a kid to do things gives a clear message that a bigger stronger person can make a smaller weaker person do what they want by forcing or being violent towards them, which is not a good message, as it is the same message that is behind wife beating and all other uncivilized and violent human behavior.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I think you're confusing method with results.  In addition, you're completely ignoring the influences that shape a child's belief system.  Crash helmets and going to bed aren't belief system issues and I will readily bet that these weren't discussions you had with them when they were 1, 2, or 3 years old. 

    In the first place, your using trivial examples instead of examining the overall set of values and core attitudes that are created simply by being a role model.
    I don't remember ever saying 'you will do that because I say so' or 'you can't do that because I say so', they normally listened to reason but sometimes they did the wrong things, I couldn't stop them.
    So was this your attitude if your kids wanted to destroy something that belonged to a neighbor?  If they wanted to steal?  If they wanted to bully or abuse other children?  If they decided to set a fire in your living room?  Could they simply abuse animals at will?  Did they ever have chores to do that you simply let them decided if they performed them or not?  They were simply allowed to talk back to you and your husband, and curse you if desired?  You had no problem with them lying or being deceitful?  You had no problem if they didn't respect women?  You never taught them to not be belligerent and talk back to teachers?  If your children simply threw a temper tantrum because they wanted something and you wouldn't provide it ... your attitude was that you "couldn't stop them"?

    This is what I'm referring to as core values.  I'm not talking about matters of opinion or the normal kinds of experiential events that a child learns from (although even that is a part of the process as well).  After all, suggesting that someone will learn something "the hard way" is the same thing, except that you're expecting that their direct experience will produce the desired results. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So was this your attitude if your kids wanted to destroy something that belonged to a neighbor?  If they wanted to steal?  If they wanted to bully or abuse other children?  If they decided to set a fire in your living room?  Could they simply abuse animals at will?  Did they ever have chores to do that you simply let them decided if they performed them or not?  They were simply allowed to talk back to you and your husband, and curse you if desired?  You had no problem with them lying or being deceitful?  You had no problem if they didn't respect women?  You never taught them to not be belligerent and talk back to teachers?  If your children simply threw a temper tantrum because they wanted something and you wouldn't provide it ... your attitude was that you "couldn't stop them"?
    Gerhard, they never did any of those things except for the temper tantrums occasionally when they couldn't have something they wanted. No one has ever told me that they have ever done these things and I have absolutely no evidence of them ever destroying things, stealing, bullying or abusing other children, setting fire to anything, abusing animals, lying or being deceitful ever.

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    OK, then where did they learn it?  ... and don't say they analyzed these types of social situations when they were 2 and 3 years old.  As you well know, you're viewing indoctrination as a specific action that you consider to be negative.  However, you're failing to consider the "indoctrination" that occurs to children simply because you're their parent.  They observe and they copy.  They pick up huge numbers of things, and I would willingly bet that your children learned about all those behaviors from you, your husband, their teachers, or others in the family.  I don't for a minute believe that your children raised themselves and acquired their values by "critical thinking".

    I'll go a step further and guess that if I were to actually ask your boys, they would tell me all kinds of things that sent them the message that such behavior was "off-limits".  It doesn't mean that you specifically read them the riot act, but there's little doubt that they picked up on what the family values were and acted accordingly. 

    If you think about, it would be unusual for a child to NOT be indoctrinated by their parents.  It happens with virtually every animal that has a "higher" functioning brain, so there's little reason to expect something different from humans.  In fact, given the large number of people that don't engage in critical thinking as adults, it makes it a safe assumption that they didn't engage in it much as children either.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I don't for a minute believe that your children raised themselves and acquired their values by "critical thinking".
    Why not? Even animals are capable of critical thinking at times, at least my dogs and horses are. Children and animals can be taught to think critically or alternatively they can be bullied and indoctrinated with fear and punishment.
    I'll go a step further and guess that if I were to actually ask your boys, they would tell me all kinds of things that sent them the message that such behavior was "off-limits".  It doesn't mean that you specifically read them the riot act, but there's little doubt that they picked up on what the family values were and acted accordingly.
    Yes, I don't disagree that my boys would probably tell you that all kinds of things sent them the message that such behaviors were off limits, but these were not indoctrinating messages they would have been learning by example messages or by reasoned logic, which is different to authoritarian rule or threats of hell and damnation and physical and mental punishment, if they don't obey my rules unquestioningly

    In psychology it was generally agreed a few decades ago that there were three basic types of parenting styles, the authoritative, the democratic and the permissive, though for some bizarre reason psychologists have more recently muddied the waters by introducing the authoritative style (probably an evil plan by authoritarian psychologists). Anyway, there are plenty of studies which show that the authoritarian and the permissive (the latter means that kids can more or less do anything without any explanation as to why it might be right or wrong) cause the most internal distress, self-harming and/or antisocial behavior in these kids in later life as adolescents and adults than the democratic sttyle. See this article by Grey and Steinberg (1999) entitled ‘Unpacking authoritative parenting: reassessing a multidimensional construct’.


    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Your simply splitting hairs about the method of indoctrination.  You're automatically assuming that indoctrination must be forceful, and fear inspiring.  You're simply playing fast and loose with the definition.

    In any case, I think you're being silly.  In effect, if you didn't do anything to teach your children values and convey to them what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior, then you must be the only parent on the planet that is suggesting that they didn't have to do any parenting.  If you tell me that you never set any boundaries, you never had to correct your children, everything in your household was strictly logical reasoning, and critical thinking ... well .. I have to call bullshit.  I doubt that even Spock from Star Trek would suggest that he was raised in that fashion.

    For some reason you have this weird notion that indoctrination is synonymous with "authoritarian rule or threats of hell and damnation and physical and mental punishment, if they don't obey my rules unquestioningly".  Why do you think that?  You admitted that there are at least three psychological models of indoctrination; authoritarian, democratic, and permissive. 

    If you want to insist that you contributed nothing to setting your children's values then so be it.  You keep mentioning "critical thinking" and "logic", but why would you think that values such as sharing, showing respect, etc. are items of critical thought?  Do you really mean to believe that if your children had said, the hell with you, I'm going to do what I want, that you would've had no boundaries?  Because what you're describing essentially says that you only relied on reasoning and that means you were either lucky, or you're leaving something out of the story.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Your simply splitting hairs about the method of indoctrination.  You're automatically assuming that indoctrination must be forceful, and fear inspiring.  You're simply playing fast and loose with the definition.
    Yes, this is what I'm doing, I'm drawing a distinction between black and white indoctrination and shades of gray teaching. That is what this discussion was about. In the meantime you have gone off at a tangent, saying that I am claiming all sorts of other ridiculous things that I have never said and this is beginning to become a habit of yours. Let me give you an example.

    Gerhard, why do  you repeatedly keep claiming that you had to indoctrinate your kids because otherwise they would be destroying your neighbor's property, stealing, setting fire to things in your house, abusing other kids and animals and being rude to their teachers? Now, how does that feel? Pretty annoying isn't it? So please stop doing this to me. The following is a perfect example of what you are doing to me by completely misrepresenting what I have said :-
    In any case, I think you're being silly.  In effect, if you didn't do anything to teach your children values and convey to them what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior, then you must be the only parent on the planet that is suggesting that they didn't have to do any parenting.  If you tell me that you never set any boundaries, you never had to correct your children, everything in your household was strictly logical reasoning, and critical thinking ... well .. I have to call bullshit.  I doubt that even Spock from Star Trek would suggest that he was raised in that fashion.

    I haven't said any of this anywhere in this blog, so why say that I have?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    You want to argue semantics and trivial distinctions.  You seem to think that setting boundaries by providing a reason is substantively different than declaring it by edict.  The means doesn't matter .... only the result.  You can argue about the effectiveness of various methods, but in the end, it comes down to teaching children a specific set of values for which there is NO compromise.

    So however you think you achieved it, the end result is the same.  There are more than enough examples from peer groups and other sources so that a parent that hasn't set clear boundaries will routinely be overridden by these other influences.  Perhaps you didn't experience them ... that's good for you, but it also isn't very realistic for the millions that live in cities.  However, this isn't about raising children, it's about the indoctrination necessary to build the fundamentals of a belief system.  You don't think it occurs, and I say it does.

    You want to argue method and I'm arguing about results.  In the end, your children have a belief system and however they acquired it, it is as solidly rooted in them as anything anyone else has.  Whether you want to call it indoctrination or some gray method of teaching is irrelevant. 

    You simply don't want to believe that your approach to "teaching" is indoctrination.  You want to believe that your children had the option to accept your teaching or discard it (which in most cases they didn't), but it makes you feel better to think that you gave them a reason instead of an order.  The point remains, in that you're only arguing over method.  I specifically said that indoctrination does not have to invoke fear, nor does it have to be authoritarian.  It simply has to be a method by which values are conveyed without compromise.  Certainly they may question the values and even challenge them, but it certainly isn't going to change what is being presented.  Therefore the point is to achieve indoctrination and not compromise.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well maybe you need to rewrite the dictionary definition of indoctrination while you're at it? Anyway, I agree with most of this last comment you have made and it least for the first time for a while you haven't completely misrepresented what I have said. I'm afraid that I still don't understand your last statement though, as I think there is always some room for compromise.
    Therefore the point is to achieve indoctrination and not compromise.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    You show me a fundamental value that you're willing to compromise on, and I'll show you that it isn't a fundamental value.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    From Merriam-Webster dictionary:
    transitive verb
    1: to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : teach
    2: to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indoctrination
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Ha ha, sorry Gerhard but this is from your own link :-
    Examples of INDOCTRINATE 1. The goal should be to teach politics, rather than to indoctrinate students in a narrow set of political beliefs.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    What's your point?  That's simply an example of how the word indoctrinate can be used.  It doesn't change the definition.

    More specifically it is an example using the 2nd definition provided, regarding partisan or sectarian teaching.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Ha ha, you should have been a politician Gerhard.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I will resist the temptation to bring up the "free will" argument, but how can one be taught to "systematically accept doctrines, especially uncritically"? 

    In other words, you cannot indoctrinate an unwilling participant.  However, if your point is that 6 years olds are incapable of applying sufficient "critical thinking" to what they are taught, then I would submit that EVERYTHING they are taught is by indoctrination then. 

    So, either everything is indoctrination because the individual is incapable of critical thought, or they are willful participants in being indoctrinated.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I will resist the temptation to bring up the "free will" argument, but how can one be taught to "systematically accept doctrines, especially uncritically"? 
    Well, I for one have experienced quite a bit of negativity at school, work, university and even here when I have been critical and refused to just accept certain generally accepted doctrines and belief systems. Just a few examples are the invasion of Iraq for possessing WMD and Saddam Hussein being responsible for 9/11 which I never agreed with, Hawking's Radiation meaning that any mini black holes accidentally created at the LHC will evaporate without a problem, 'missing energy' from nuclear reactors and particle collidors and oscillating neutrinos beamed through hundreds of kilometres of rock from the Sendai K2K neutrino experiment, (coincidentally the major town closest to the Japanese earthquake epicentre) have had no unknown ill effects and mercury containing CFL light bulbs are environmentally friendly and harmless and so on.
    In other words, you cannot indoctrinate an unwilling participant.  However, if your point is that 6 years olds are incapable of applying sufficient "critical thinking" to what they are taught, then I would submit that EVERYTHING they are taught is by indoctrination then. 
    You can indoctrinate an unwilling participant if you scare the crap out of them and punish them again and again. Telling little kids that they will rot in hell and suffer eternal damnation if they are naughty for example is indoctrination. Telling the same kids that some people believe that there is a hell but some people don't and that so far there is no evidence of a hell is teaching.
    So, either everything is indoctrination because the individual is incapable of critical thought, or they are willful participants in being indoctrinated.
    Sorry Gerhard, you are back to your black and white mentality again, when there should only really be shades of grey. Black and white represents indoctrination and shades of grey are more representative of teaching in my mind.

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but you're making excuses.  If you want to let fear dominate your thinking, then you're allowing that to occur.  It isn't something you can't control, unless you're arguing that fear somehow prevents you from evaluating information critically.

    Your examples are all based on being an adult and specifically address the idea that you were NOT a willing participant in indoctrination.  How does that make it a gray area?  No one ever suggested that resistance to a popular belief was without negative feelings, but you can hardly claim that as a basis for making indoctrination work.
    Telling the same kids that some people believe that there is a hell but some people don't and that so far there is no evidence of a hell is teaching.
    I know you aren't that naive.  You only tell them that if you don't believe in it yourself and want to maintain some degree of "political correctness".  If you believed that there really was a hell and that it was a real threat to your children's soul, then you'd be grossly irresponsible to not convey that to them. 

    I'm equally sure you didn't teach your kids that some strangers might be bad and do harm to your children.  You probably taught them to not trust or go with ANY strangers.  This isn't the kind of topic you debate with children.  You indoctrinate, not negotiate.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Sorry, but you're making excuses.  If you want to let fear dominate your thinking, then you're allowing that to occur.  It isn't something you can't control, unless you're arguing that fear somehow prevents you from evaluating information critically.
    I'm not making excuses, fear doesn't dominate my thinking at all because i have never been successfully indoctrinated. I'm saying that children all over the world are being forcibly and often violently indoctrinated in schools, religious institutions, workplaces and in their own homes by adults who think that they know what's best for them. Then after years of this indoctrination, many of these children then become adults who are almost completely conditioned to conform and often too scared or lose the will and inclination to think critically for themselves and question anything outside their normal 'groupthink' mentality, belief systems and societal norms.
    Your examples are all based on being an adult and specifically address the idea that you were NOT a willing participant in indoctrination.  How does that make it a gray area?.....Telling the same kids that some people believe that there is a hell but some people don't and that so far there is no evidence of a hell is teaching.
    Well Gerhard, you are contradicting yourself here, how can my examples be all based on being an adult when I gave an example of kids being indoctrinated about hell and damnation? One was a black and white example of indoctrination of kids which says that all naughty kids go to hell and the other was learning through shades of gray teaching that there is more than one opinion about the existence of hell and who if anyone will go there.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    i have never been successfully indoctrinated.
    Of course you have.  Your simply picking and choosing what you consider to be part of your belief system, rather than examining the system as a whole.  I don't believe that you're an individual that has absolutely no values, morals, or direction and simply determine everything as a process of "critical thinking" as you encounter events in the world.

    That's simply absurd and you know better.  Just reading some of your posts argues that you have very specific values and beliefs which suggests strong indoctrination (whether by others or yourself), but it certainly isn't a part of "critical thinking".  In fact, it often appears to be the exact opposite.  Instead of remaining agnostic about a topic because the data is incomplete, you tend to gravitate to the underdog argument, if not bordering on conspiracies.  So you have a very specific set of beliefs that were formed around those ideas.

    However, you also possess a core set of values (i.e. what is right or wrong) which certainly wasn't arrived at by "critical thinking".  It was taught to you over the years and you learned it from positive or negative examples, but you certainly learned it.

    For some reason you seem to want to wear this "rebel" badge as some type of uniqueness, instead of recognizing that such a position is just as artificial as any other.  We all have things that we accept as part of our belief system because it is impossible to validate the information and the core elements are always part of indoctrination. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm saying that children all over the world are being forcibly and often violently indoctrinated in schools, religious institutions, workplaces and in their own homes by adults who think that they know what's best for them. Then after years of this indoctrination, many of these children then become adults who are almost completely conditioned to conform and often too scared or lose the will and inclination to think critically for themselves and question anything outside their normal 'groupthink' mentality, belief systems and societal norms.
    This is a perfect example of your belief system and set of values.  Are you suggesting that this is occurring because parents and teachers are being intentionally cruel and abusive to children?  The point here is that this occurs because parents and teachers believe their approach just as strongly as you oppose that approach in your beliefs.  There's nothing objective about it, because it's associated with your own value system of what you think is right or wrong, good or bad.

    What is the basis of your believing this?  What makes you think it's a bad thing?  Examine those answers and you'll begin to see how your own belief system was formed.
    ...fear doesn't dominate my thinking at all because i have never been successfully indoctrinated.
    I have to disagree since many of your posts and articles speak directly to fear especially when it comes to the environment and science.  You may call it a concern, but in the end it comes down to something that you believe to be an issue and consequently you're motivated by what you believe is an issue.  Your entire argument against AGW was based on the writings of a particular individual, so in that case you have decided that he represents sufficient authority and "truth" that you incorporated that view into your belief system.  This doesn't mean that you might not change your mind, but it is something that you currently accept and therefore any change will require significantly more information than the original did.  For some reason, this appealed to your existing belief system because you probably felt that it had the "ring of truth" to it and it fit into your existing worldview.

    You may not like the word "indoctrination", but since you haven't gone and actually conducted experiments, verified results, and gained direct "hands on" experience in this area, then you have accepted someone else's data as your own.  You cannot think "critically" about it, since you have nothing except their word for what they found and what they concluded.

    Before you begin jumping up and down saying ... well that happens to everyone in science ... the answer is ... yes it does.  We cannot directly experience everything ourselves, so we are invariably forced to accept someone else's word for events and depending on our belief system, we will determine how likely we think something is to be true or not.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Your entire argument against AGW was based on the writings of a particular individual, so in that case you have decided that he represents sufficient authority and "truth" that you incorporated that view into your belief system.  This doesn't mean that you might not change your mind, but it is something that you currently accept and therefore any change will require significantly more information than the original did.  For some reason, this appealed to your existing belief system because you probably felt that it had the "ring of truth" to it and it fit into your existing worldview.
    Gerhard, I can't believe how little you have understood what I have been saying about climate change! How many times do I have to tell you that I have not yet made up my mind about anthropogenic climate change? Again and again I have to told you this and still you keep telling me that I have already made up my mind! Show me one shred of evidence of me ever saying this!
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Show me one shred of evidence of me ever saying this!
    Sure.  You don't listen ... you argue.  If you were simply gathering information, then you'd accept input without comment and evaluate it.  Instead, you keep arguing and have specifically indicated that you wanted evidence to debunk your statements.  That isn't the mark of someone gathering data, that is simply an argument in which you have already chosen a side.  That's fine, but let's not pretend that you don't have an opinion.

    You cannot effectively take in new information and evaluate it, if you're already busy formulating a defensive reply to your position.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I don't keep arguing as such, I just refuse to accept the anthropogenic climate change position hook, line and sinker just because you and many of the other people here want me to. I am sitting on the fence until something convinces me one way or the other. I refuse to bark up the wrong tree until I'm sure it is the right tree, that's the way I am.

    In the meantime I recycle and live as green and environmentally friendly life-style as possible and I will always support any schemes to lessen environmental degradation and destruction to the planet's endangered people, animals, plants and ecosystems.

    I am way too busy at present to seriously investigate Plimer's claims against what his critics say because I am busy writing university assignments, counselling part-time, looking after my family, a holiday house, 4 horses, and 2 dogs. Still, I feel very guilty that I haven't responded to the information you gave me on the climate change blog and believe me I have tried several times to sit down with Plimer's book over the last couple of weeks but I have too many time constraints at present.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    You cannot effectively take in new information and evaluate it, if you're already busy formulating a defensive reply to your position.
    BTW I think you are talking about yourself here.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm not the one claiming to have no opinion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So once you've made your mind up that's it? Maybe there's no point in discussing topics with someone who's mind is so completely made up they will never change their position? At least I admit to having an open mind that hasn't yet decided one way or another about ACC and even if I eventually have a position I will happily change it if I realize that new information makes me now believe that I was wrong.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    That's fine.  I happen to think that most of the discussion is silly and focuses on irrelevancies.  Too much of it reeks of politics and economics, so it immediately becomes suspect.  I don't believe in worldwide conspiracies, so that also becomes suspect.

    People want to argue about whether these are natural cycles, or whether humans have contributed to the problems, etc.  That's patently ridiculous.  We already have overwhelming evidence about the impact humans have had on this planet, so to suddenly be all shocked and coy about our CO2 emissions is disingenuous.  What most people fail to grasp, is that cycles on Earth occur with minor even miniscule variations that accumulate over years to generate profound effects.  Remember the entire composition of the Earth's early atmosphere was modified by microbes.  What does that suggest?  If you looked at the contribution of one or a few microbes you would think that such a claim was ridiculous.  But given the profusion of microbes and the cumulative effect over time, it modified the atmosphere sufficiently to give rise to other forms of life.

    So, when people question the effect that humans can have, you simply have to ask whether the existence of 7 billion people with their technology and cities could possibly affect the environment, and any reply would have to suggest yes.  I've agreed that we don't know if CO2 emissions are a major cause or only enough to create a tipping point.  However, you can't argue that increasing CO2 emissions with technology and reducing CO2 absorption will not have an effect.  That isn't just intuitively obvious, it would be shocking if evidence suggested that the status quo was still being maintained.

    As I've also said, that none of this means that we have a solution, or whether a solution is even possible.  When you factor in the political/economic dimension and the need for worldwide cooperation .... well, I'm too pessimistic to believe that such is possible.

    So when people tell me that they're not arguing that the planet isn't getting warmer, but only about the specifics ... then I feel they're just wasting my time.  It's either occurring or it isn't.  Whether someone wants to fix blame or not is immaterial, except within the context of solutions, which I've already stated I'm skeptical about.   That's fundamentally as stupid as the phrase in the U.S. ... "Guns don't kill people, people kill people".  As if the individual that is killed gives a damn about the distinction.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Many centuries after Moses, a carpenter from Nazareth suggested that the ten rules to live by could be condensed to two: 'love God' and 'love mankind'.
    Patrick

    I don't have any particular issue with any of those concepts.  My only point is that (especially for those religious beliefs), is that claiming a belief is different from living a belief.  Regardless of what motivates someone to claim a particular belief system or to incorporate various elements into it, the means by which I consider someone's belief to be "real" is the degree to which they seriously live by its claims.  Anything less suggests (to me) that the professed belief isn't actually integrated into someone's base belief system.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    Wouldn't that crossover into a belief which has evolved into a principle, Gerhard?
    I think I know what you mean, but the principle idea is my explanation for adherence to something akin to a belief, since I don't think in terms of beliefs, if possible.....
    The language about beliefs is as multi-faceted as that of language about god, and my experience is that people often have completely different interpretations of both words
    Trying to pin it down seems as futile as it is never-ending, IMO

    Aitch
    Gerhard Adam
    Wouldn't that crossover into a belief which has evolved into a principle...
    Perhaps you could call it that, but I am using the concept of belief to represent our worldview and those things that we use to define it.  In other words, one can't believe something that isn't true (to that individual), but we can certainly think things that aren't true.  That's why I'm trying to distinguish between claiming and rationalizing a belief (acknowledging it intellectually) versus one that is actually a part of an individual's existence (incorporating it intellectually).

    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    Ah,..... I just think of that as a construct - my inner world construct of the external one
    The construct can have multiple versions on trial side by side also, allowing for many possible outcomes simultaneously, as a comparator, rather than a single fixed viewpoint - I find it useful for empathy, for example, to envisage another's point of view
    The beauty of the construct idea is it allows for anyone else having their own construct, and the likelihood of 2 people having the same, is so remote, because of personal experience, etc, that arguments about beliefs dissolve as irrelevant, if you see what I mean.....but if that's what floats your boat, don't let me or my construct slow you down  ;-)

    Aitch