Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weed killer for the mind

A friend sent me an email recently titled, "This is the biggest problem facing our world.", and provided this link

I mostly agree, and I have a theory on the causation of what the author calls, the causality illusion. Sin perverts human perception. Knowing that we have this broken instrument; we need methods to calibrate, re-calibrate, and validate this broken perception tool regularly. After all, how else can we be sure that what we perceive indeed correlates to reality, and what things deserve our energy for validation? I think the article touches on this, but I would argue that without solving the sin problem, our perception accuracy will only marginally improve.

It also seems that the public largely doesn’t know who to trust anymore, they’ve lost confidence in the Church, now they are losing confidence in the scientific/medical community, and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water…but…things like this make me want to avoid the medical industry as well. Understood, every institution has its share of opportunities for improvement. Even the Church, and for some of the same reasons listed in the referenced article sometimes I want to avoid it too.

I have to remind myself that avoiding these institutions won’t do anything to improve their efficacy.

The article makes a great point here, “An easy way to protect against the causality illusion is to pay attention and count.” and even though the author goes on to say this (about the larger problem of cognitive bias) a few sentences later “There’s no easy fix here.”. I agree that we ought to be engaged in finding objective ways to intentionally measure ourselves, specifically, our beliefs, and our performance. The author is right, as reasonable as humans like to think we are, I am persuaded that even the most numerate make very few decisions based on logic and reason. Which the author seems to assert as well; “even highly numerate people are prone to cognitive traps when the data contradicts the conclusion most congenial to their political values.” Speaking from a purely Christian worldview; we must be married to the truth. We must be diligent to ensure that what we endorse, in word and in deed, are corollary.

And then this! I LITERALLY said this to somebody last night, that the American education system (maybe just the clark county school district) does not, or at least did not teach me how to think critically, I have had to teach myself with much difficulty, and I am still CRAWLING along trying to improve. Here, the article states, "The objective of this second part of the intervention was to teach the teens to think critically about causality.” The article points out that even with just a few moments of instruction the students, “made more accurate assessments of the drug’s efficacy.”  I would like to see the education system put a greater emphasis on teaching us HOW to think rather than WHAT to think.  Maybe through awareness increased through face to face and online dialogues we can generate enough demand that will force the supply.  

Finally, when I read the authors conclusion, “If you want someone to accept information that contradicts what they already know, you have to find a story they can buy into. That requires bridging the narrative they’ve already constructed to a new one that is both true and allows them to remain the kind of person they believe themselves to be.” I immediately thought of Ravi Zacharias, who is a popular Christian philosopher. His team came to Tulsa recently and held a meeting where both Atheists and Christians were invited, and the forum allowed people to come forward with their questions and concerns, it was an interesting meeting where I want to believe some people accepted information that contradicted what they thought they already knew. He seems to embody the spirit of author’s conclusion. (and maybe that just my confirmation bias!)

We need to think hard about what we believe, why we believe it, and if it is true and appropriate, share this information with our neighbors.