By Peyton Dracco.
Today, I once again come to you in an attempt to ventilate about what I think are some of the worst offenses to truth and reason; I do it not in a specific effort to offend anyone, though that possibility seems inescapable when opining on such topics as the paranormal and the supernatural, amongst other human miscalculations. Anger eventually arises from my own inability to lower my intellectual standards and embrace the ideas of mediumship or psychic powers, or more pertinent to this post, the inherent human ability to communicate with other, yet unseen and unverifiable existences. I must also admit, and solemnly, if I may implore your forgiveness for this superfluous declaration, that the human capacity for accepting the irrational (without any evidence, some aspects of reality are irrational and counter-intuitive but evidence tell us that they are true) has always touched on the better part of my nature – that of a deliberately harsh and overtly contemptuous individual – one who sees those who accept their own self-deceit as a viable form of truth as not only of sub-par intelligence, but undeserving of my time and respect. This attitudinal positioning, and at times very firm posturing has invariably made me less persuasive than I could have been when arguing with a believer of such pestilent ideas like intuitive healing; it is something I have managed to control with some effort, but is also something that I have come to appreciate more than diplomacy. Today, I still get angry and annoyed at flower-fairy-new age-hippies who peddle nonsense as something of feasibility, yet I realise that my anger and forthcoming disapproval (often perceived as condescension) is not the appropriate tool to break them out of their psychopathology. I understand that the persuasion I mentioned earlier is of great benefit to all involved in important discourse. I clarify then, that I still get angry and remain disgusted at people’s inability to conceive basic logic, more so, I am appalled by those who lack respect for scientific methodology, but I now know how to put the energy this hate provides towards changing the mind of anyone debating me. Dialectic is, after all, about changing minds and worldviews. I would fully support a system in which all ideas and beliefs are treated with scepticism, and subjected to philosophical or scientific scrutiny. I would support a system in which nonsensical doctrines are labeled for what they are: errors of human cognition resulting from unmitigated emotion.
I can write about my feelings about such attitudes for as long as there are pages in this text editor, however, it seems more important to begin sharing the reason for this post; before this, and mainly as an attempt to elucidate my judgments differently, I will defer to a better thinker and writer than I. Bertrand Russell, in The Will to Doubt said put forward the following proposition:
I wish to propose a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. I must, of course, admit that if such an opinion became common it would completely transform our social life and our political system; since both are at present faultless, this must weigh against it. I am also aware (what is more serious) that it would tend to diminish the incomes of clairvoyants, bookmakers, bishops, and others who live on the irrational hopes of those who have done nothing to deserve good fortune here or hereafter.
My detestation of unfalsifiable belief-systems arises from two aspects of the behaviour that is both required to maintain them and that which results from their observance. First, it is imperative for the believer to willingly block or dismiss information that negates their specific doctrine and to only allow the data that support it in order to maintain said beliefs. Second, the believer’s disposition to ignore important information because it contradicts his or her ideals sets the base for accepting other irrational notions in different domains of knowledge and understanding.