Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ignorance Entrenched

stubborn-muleAn utterly fascinating and insightful article in the Pacific Standard about how people respond to political arguments. Clear ramifications for Facebook and probably theology.

People tend to interpret information in ways that confirm their existing beliefs, and when confronted with arguments to the contrary, they may dig in even deeper. Why? It’s all about self-image. If they accept information showing that one of their cherished views is wrong–information showing that global warming is man-caused, that abortion is wrong, that Obama’s birth certificate is valid, that affirmative action is detrimental, that torture is immoral, that gun crime is decreasing–then how many other things are they wrong about?

To preserve their sense of self-worth, people evaluate information to avoid having to admit that a view is wrong. Only very secure people can accept a view contrary to what they have previously espoused, without damaging their self-worth.

One study found that when people are presented with information which contradicts their ideology, those who most strongly identify with the ideology actually intensify their incorrect beliefs. For example, when shown that the Bush tax cuts didn’t increase government revenue, conservatives who held that view became more entrenched in believing that the tax cuts DID increase revenue. That’s one example.

I’m thinking about how this plays out on Facebook. When I present what I think is a killer argument about a certain political view, it just makes people who hold that view cling more stubbornly to that view. Unless they have a strong enough self-image to objectively evaluate the new information. Such people are refreshing to be around, yet sadly rare.

I’m guessing the same thing happens with people regarding theological views and other church-related views. You lay out clearly why the King James Version is outdated and inaccurate, and I’ll cling even more strongly to the KJV as the only valid version.

Then I must ask myself: So, Steve, how’s your sense of self-worth? Are you willing to change your views based on the weight of evidence or argument?

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Our Annual Pilgrimage

My annual cherry ice cream cone.

My annual cherry ice cream cone.

For the record: Pam and I went to the Van Wert County Fair on Sunday, September 1, 2013.

As best we can figure, it’s the 27th or 28th straight year for us. We’ve been married 24 years. While dating, we discovered that we’d both grown up (at least during my first 9 years when I lived in Indiana) attending the Van Wert fair. So it made a logical date for us.

Yesterday, we left right after church. It was a hazy, humid day that threatened rain. The place seemed like a relative ghost town when we arrived. We always start at the same place: Rager’s (not run by the Optimist club). A sausage sandwich and a ham and cheese sandwich for me (because I was hungry), and only the latter for Pam. Followed quickly by a funnel cake.

I texted my cousin Mike to let him know we were at the fair. He said he and his two kids had a beef show in 10 minutes. So we headed over to the show barn and watched Austin and Whitney show their steers. This was a first for me. There was a lot of bellowing from not-totally-happy steers.

Then we walked through the commercial building (nobody at the Merkle Electric booth), and then got another funnel cake. Time to leave. I headed for the roasted pecans and walnuts (one medium bag of each) while Pam went to the cotton candy trailer, where she was delighted to find that they not offered a Monster cotton candy bag. Which she bought, of course.

And then our last stop: the cherry ice cream truck. A $2 cone for each of us.

Everything is always in the same place, year after a year. In a world that’s constantly in flux, it’s nice to come to a place anchored in time.

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Deferred Punishment

“Hello, President Assad? Yes, this is Barack Obama calling. We’re really upset about you using chemical weapons to kill hundreds of women an children. Really tacky leadership, in my book, and you crossed my Red Line and all. As you probably heard, I want to attack you, but not right away. I want Congress to agree to this, and they’re on vacation right now and won’t be back for another week. But when they return, they’ll start debating the idea. You can watch it on C-Span. They’ll probably speculate about what an attack will look like–specific targets, weapons we’ll use, how long it’ll last, stuff like that. Then, if the House and Senate pass bills authorizing me to attack you, it’ll come to me for signing. By the way, I’ll be glad to send you one of the pens I use. Anyway, an attack is coming. If you could act surprised when it happens, that would be great. These things always look better when it’s a surprise.”

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