Belief and what drives it

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by arfa brane, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I read an article in New Scientist about belief and why humans have belief systems.

    One thing that stood out was the apparent link between emotions and how we form beliefs; the strongest emotion, in terms of the process of believing something (whether it's right or wrong), is disgust.

    Disgust in other words tends to be an emotion that forms stronger beliefs, if this is true it explains a lot of things; Hitler was disgusted by the Jews, racial discrimination involves disgust, Fox News appears intent on invoking disgust with the current administration.

    What say?
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  3. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Another part of this article covers political beliefs. Conservatives are "more easily disgusted" by bad or rotten smells. "This has been proposed as an explanation for differences of opinion over important issues such as gay marriage and illegal immigration".

    Hitler was a conservative? I guess so, at least his overall military strategy was, I imagine he also found bad smells more than annoying, and he was a private serving on the Western front, so would have seen and smelled a lot of dead bodies. He, as history tells us, accepted without question the belief that the army had been abandoned by a weak German government riddled with Bolshevik apologists and the like.

    "These instinctive responses [of revulsion] are so influential that people . . . literally come to inhabit different realities".
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I'd think the emotion of wanting to belong to a group of people that were similar in thinking as you would be more a way to want to become involved with religion. Another thing would be finding friends to be with could attract many to religions for social events and other outings. Many times religions are the only thing parents have going and force their children to go to their respective religion when they go. Not by physically forcing them but bringing them along with them whenever they go to their religious ceremonies. So the children just become whatever their parents were due to the fact they knew no other religion to be with.
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  7. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Hitler's political views were particularly stinky alright. His signature moustache, originally a handlebar, needed to be shaved that short so that the gas mask could fit more tightly around his nose and mouth. A good many German soldiers who either didn't have time to shave, or failed to shave their moustaches the way he did were apparently killed by loose fitting gas masks.

    Both Hitler and the woman he married shortly before they both suicided were of Jewish descent, the very people he railed against without mercy in the book he wrote while in prison. His book and his belief system roundly ignored the fact that many German Jews were more highly decorated for military service to Germany in WWI than he ever was. Treated as allies instead of subhuman subjects of genocide, Germany might actually have had the brainpower it needed to win the second world war. But Jews were far too wise to be led by an idiot intent on genociding the world based on his vision of a privileged but inbred and conformist society marching to dominate the world in lock step to force his flawed and obsessive dominated agenda everywhere. He may not have been the first to try this, but one would hope he would be the last. One could hope, but one would most likely be disappointed.

    Wars are as stupid a waste of limited resources as anyone could possibly imagine. The sooner armies run out of the petrol and the will to fight them, the better off we all will be. Getting back to basic sticks and stones to fight wars would be a definite improvement for a race as beset by stinky belief systems like his, at any rate. With sticks and stones, wars still stink, but it would get it us back to the basics of putting more variability back in the human gene pool (via plunder and rape) than you get by gassing people to death, burning or blowing them to bits. That's a healthier way to wage war for sure, if your belief system dictates that you must.

    A poor or odorous, OCD belief system or vision is something that will very obvious to anyone who knows better. Fox News viewers are a case in point I have seen with my own eyes. Many of them crave watching it to the point they will stand for watching nothing else. It probably was like that with pre WWII Nazi propaganda as well. FYI, I am Jewish, and I can't stand to watch Fox News at all. I also won't buy a Ford, Mercedes or a Volkswagon even though I know others of my faith (not a race) will. This has nothing to do with quality or else I wouldn't watch their ads either.

    It has also been observed that psychopaths have a decisive survival advantage over people with normal ranges of emotions in war zones. They may appear fearless and more than willing to use lethal strategies on the enemy, sometimes at the expense of the lives of more of their own comrades that would give someone with a normal range of human emotions pause. If we keep fighting wars, that is the way most of the human race will eventually be. Psychopathic by means of natural selection. Does anyone here think THAT would be a great idea, other than psychopaths who have no issue promoting war if it is to their advantage, that is? Possibly this explains Hitler's belief system more easily than the rest of his so-called life. A psychopath would view a richer class of German who did not support his war effort as a means to an end like that. Think about it.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2015
  8. Anew Life isn't a question. Banned

    often being sucked, by someone whom chooses to delude you with technological psychometrics. Did you know, the shitty people that do the shit, actually support War, Cancer, Aids and such means as teamwork they "have fun actually slandering people... "Aids is really the same typology as "cancer and what was referred to as T.B all 'stress from slanderous insults and threats by technological gangs... creating "drama 'neglect and hurt upon people & businesses with their networks,, pushing our place here on this beautifull earth farther and farther from 'value.
  9. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    The random word generator strikes again.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Belief is a psychological state, with a proposition as its object, in which the believer possesses some degree of confidence that the proposition is true. Cognition would be impossible without beliefs.

    Emotions do seem to be tied to certain kinds of beliefs, beliefs that are closely tied to an individual's sense of self and to an individual's deepest desires. In those kind of cases, people often will have a tendency to believe what they want to be true and to disbelieve what they don't want to be true.

    But I wouldn't want to extend that observation to belief in general. I believe that Helsinki is the capital of Finland, I think that I have good reasons for believing that, and disgust seems to have nothing to do with it.

    Do we really know that? It sounds like a hypothesis to me.

    Again, do we really know that? My guess is that racial discrimination is more closely associated with one's sense of self, with one's group-identifications, with the 'us/them' distinction.

    Fox News has become a punching bag on Sciforums. That's probably because Sciforums has evolved into being something of a political-left internet social club. And politics, like nationality, race and religion, is closely associated with people's sense of who/what they are, and with whatever their deepest desires might be.

    People, ideas and things that fail to display the qualities that people associate with their own selves are often perceived as threats and accordingly rejected.

    I wouldn't call that disgust necessarily, though disgust might be part of how it's subjectively perceived and expressed. "Humor" is another one. Threats are often dismissed socially with ridicule and sarcasm, so as to make whatever it is seem less threatening to the group. Then tension is released in the form of barking, 'ha ha ha'.

    Perhaps one of the reasons why politics is growing more angry, partisan and divisive in recent years is because it's been made politically incorrect to form one's identity around one's own nation, sex, race and religion. So political identity is about all that's left.
    Last edited: May 16, 2015
  11. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    The strongest faith is in absolutes and things like perfection and pacifism. There is a certain element of grandeur to faith. It wouldn't be up to belief if your subject were natural. You know about the observable world, only when the element becomes invisible must you trust in it to study it.
  12. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    The authors of the article I refer to don't claim that people form beliefs only if they experience disgust or revulsion. Their claim is that those emotions form stronger, even quite irrational or deluded, kinds of belief.

    They don't discuss Hitler or Fox News, I do. I have noticed that Fox News has a pattern of stories about liberals and the Obama administration that are meant to invoke disgust, they talk about terrorists in much the same way--a "doesn't that disgust you? of course it does" way.

    It is an hypothesis, but one based on research. Part of this research involved functional imaging of subject's brain activity. They were asked questions or given statements to read, they found that questions or statements about certain subjects, like religion, gun ownership, politics, invoked stronger responses. The statements were sometimes things that most people would not believe could be true, hence they had to "disbelieve" it, and this takes more effort than believing an untrue or possibly untrue statement. Something like "Hitler loved the Jews, and helped them as much as he could", say, would be an example.

    Well, I'm conjecturing that it did have a lot to do with the likes of the Conquistadores, the Inquisition, Hitler and the Holocaust, slavery in North America, anywhere some racial group is perceived as less deserving or entitled (they're heathens, they're heretics, they're the scourge of German society, they aren't human, . . .). Or maybe not.
  13. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    "Only a Sith deals in absolutes" -- Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Absolutes are fallacies waiting to happen. Absolutes do not exist in nature, only in the minds of mathematicians and perhaps someone as delusional as Hitler was.
  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

    A belief system helps to orientate one to physical and social reality. These provide filters of the mind so one can interpret the data coming from reality. The status quo of beliefs is as a much a means to orientate oneself to physical reality, as it is to position oneself within the social order. Going along with the status quo, provides protection, not giving to those who depart from the status quo. The Emperor's new clothes is about social conformity to belief systems, without thinking it through. People often accept and share beliefs for their social status, while not understanding enough, to see problems.

    Hitler was someone who tried to alter social reality, into the image of his beliefs. He accepted the science of the day and believed in the superior race theory coming from biology. He tried to alter social reality by beating down others, to put them in a hole, so his race could appear to rise above.

    Where emotion come in is, when memory is created, the limbic system adds an emotional stamp to memory. The resultant memory is a composite of emotion and thought. Our strongest memories have the most emotional valance. We can induce this composite memory from either side, with thoughts inducing emotions and emotions inducing thoughts. I can think of my favorite food and feel hungry, or I can get hungry at lunch, and images of food appear in my head.

    Although both paths can induce the memory, the output results are not the same for both paths. The reason is there are only a handful of emotions, but orders of magnitude more thought and sensory data. One direction will narrows the data field and converge on a feeling, while the other direction widens the data field and diverges via a wider data base.

    For example, If I start with the feeling of hunger, this can trigger images of different food and different meals, different times of the day, different days of the week, different seasons of the year, and on different holidays. All these meals thoughts, have the same common feeling, hungry, and all will converge to that feeling.

    The point is emotional thinking is divergent; emotion first, while thinking before emotion is convergent. The emotion of disgust, once triggered, can diverge into endless thoughts, none of which are universal to all people, just like one meal from the year is not good for the entire year. To converge, one would need to reason using thought first, with the conclusion leading to a convergence; emotion of disgust.

    For example, Liberalism believes in diversity which is a divergence. This is expected because liberalism is based on feeling and emotional thinking. The melting pot was a convergent, belief, based on thought placed before emotion. Emotional thinking is relative and can never converge, because that brain path os not design to do that. One has to stop emotions and jus look at the data in logical ways until an emotion converges at the conclusion of the process.

    These discussion forums often degenerate into name calling or the trump card of status quo prestige to induce emotions. This results in divergence, where the center of the original topic is lost. This is the nature of the brain and following the wiring from the core to the cerebral; emotion to thought. If we go from cerebral to core, there a convergence.
    Last edited: May 17, 2015
  15. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Yes. A belief in diversity is based on the feeling that absolute conformity in everything including thinking imposed by totalitarian ideals is a bad thing. It's also unnatural, and a very sad way to live, particularly if it is imposed on you by force.

    If that's what it means to be liberal, I can't be liberal enough.
  16. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I think the message the article is giving is that we should all examine our beliefs and not put as much store in them as we tend to. We should at least ask ourselves why we believe something and how we came to believe it, if we also presume that many of our beliefs come from feelings and emotions, rather than logic and rational examination of facts.

    From the article: "All told, the uncomfortable conclusion is that some if not all of our fundamental beliefs about the world are based not on facts and reason--or even misinformation--but on gut feelings that arise from our evolved psychology, basic biology and culture.
    The world would be a boring place if we all believed the same things. But it would surely be a better one if we all stopped believing in our beliefs so strongly."

    For instance:
    Now that looks like something you believe. Do you also believe that conservatism is not based on feeling and emotional thinking? If you do, then I would say your belief is in fact a delusion. However, me saying that probably isn't going to get you to examine what you posted or ask yourself why you believe it, that's something you should do though.
    Last edited: May 17, 2015
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  17. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Yes to that too. Conservatism seems to be based on the emotion of irrational fear, in actual fact. It's why they hoard firearms, ammo, food, and believe the government is a huge conspiracy to rob them of their guns, civil liberties, etc. Well, those are already eroded, and it is no small thanks to the previous conservative administration that we are currently living in what seems to be both a surveillance and a police state.
  18. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    One thing I thought the article didn't discuss was belief about empirical facts, mathematical or logical truths, or say, quantum mysticism (viz the thread in Pseudo), that is to say, about subjects like dinosaur fossils, although it does touch on the "shibboleth" of climate change, conservatives and liberals with opposing views (i.e. beliefs) about it.

    What did the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs field do to belief systems, conservative or liberal or anywhere in between, would you say? My guess would be it affected a very small group of people whose political and moral views had very little to do with what they now believe is true about the Standard Model. Quantum mechanics is a subject that would affect very few moral decisions even amongst scientists; science is emotional because it's elegant, or symmetric, discoveries about the symmetries in nature evoke joy and congratulations all round amongst the small group of discoverers and theorists, we enjoy such things but most people don't enjoy studying mathematics. Perhaps they develop a sense of disgust, or boredom. Whatever, I would say most of the population has little interest in the mathematical structure of the Standard Model.

    No, our "important" beliefs orbit around notions of self-interest, religion or spirituality, communalism and fairness, according to the authors of the New Scientist article. We entertain both rational and not-rational notions to guide a moral compass, it seems.
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  19. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    I found the answer I was looking for in pseudo. I seem to have fumbled together a variant of De Sitter relativity, from which it is possible to derive GR without Minkowski or any Euclidean space ideas from ancient Greece.

    Great. NO frat boys, and good riddance. Bloody Aristoteleans.
  20. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    More work is needed on our understanding of Higgs and its interactions with matter. It is easily the most important discovery since the photon, the lightest weight boson of the Standard Model. I have been trying to find out since June 2014 why Higgs did not seem to have a larger effect on scientific belief systems. It should have made a huge difference, and it didn't. People are just unwilling to accept ideas that do not fit into their world view. Relativity theory for example has been hybridized and bastardized to a fare thee well, even adopted into sacred texts of certain obtuse religions. It's just the way diverse people deal with information. Any inconsistencies are easily ignored. Like George Carlin once observed: look where average is on the Bell curve. Half of all human beings are dumber than that.
  21. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I am not making a value judgement. I was pointing out how this is an artifact of memory being a thought-feeling composite. One can approach this composite memory, from the thought side or the feeling side, and get two different outcomes. There are only a small set of feelings, but there are orders of magnitude more thoughts and sensory images. I used the example of feeling=hunger and the wide variety of foods and food preparations that have a hunger association. It is like a pyramid with feeling at the top and all the thoughts the base.

    If we go from feeling first, to thinking; feel hungry first, the process begins compact, as a feeling, and then spreads out, subjectivity into a lot of possible options. In the food example, since any of these foods we eat throughout the year can work, for hunger, all these foods appear relative. This is artifact of how the wiring is set up.

    This is not the case, if you go from the thought side to feeling; base of the pyramid to the apex. In the case of all these foods, over a year, some holiday food is only eaten once a year. This is not the same, as the bread and butter foods, like coffee, which you may have each day. Both are connected to hunger, but coffee doesn't wear out very easily. This logically adds to the most used food; converges there. This convergence is expected since it goes reverse current; a peak of a hunger pyramid.

    Diversity goes from feeling to thought. This feeling is induced by a line of thought. There are two pyramids, point to point, with the top one upside down. The logic is this. People are more comfortable and secure with what they know. This is true. Therefore if people can retain culture, they will feel better, compared to having to do something strange that is more uncomfortable. This induces a feeling of what allows security; what is known. This feeling triggers diversity of thought, any culture can do this for some.

    The melting pot was thought to feeling. It makes logical sense, proven by fact, that not all cultures do everything the best. Some make the best food, some have the most fun dances, some have the best art, etc. Why not build a culture, based on the best from each, so we all can share and feel connected with the present and our past? Now the feeling appears of love and peace.
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    People typically are dispassionate about those kind of beliefs. I believe that Helsinki is the capital of Finland, and I'm not aware of any emotion associated with that belief at all.

    Quantum mysticism speaks to the emotions by insisting what the universe is a very different kind of place than most people take it to be, which appeals to people who aren't satisfied with conventional 'classical' reality and who feel somehow oppressed by it.

    Climate change isn't a dispassionate scientific thesis, it's a grand social change cause intended to mobilize the planet. That's obviously going to speak to the emotions of those who dream of grand social changes, many of them former Marxists who sought a new cause after 1990. There's an obvious tone of moral judgement to it, where opponents aren't merely judged to be factually wrong, they are morally evil "deniers" as well. And there's the apocalyptic 'end-times' aspect, which speaks to the emotions just as apocalyptic rhetoric always has.

    Evolution seems to many people to directly subvert their view of mankind's place in the universe, the idea that humans are created in god's image and contain a spark of divinity within them.

    The popular media certainly tried to give it an emotional hook, with all of the "God-particle" talk. But I don't think that the average layperson cared very much.

    It seems to me that physics has lost contact with laypeople over the last century. In the 19th century, laypeople could still gain a pretty good intuitive understanding of classical mechanics, in its Newtonian form (probably not Hamiltonians or Lagrangians). They knew enough thermodynamics to have an intuitive feeling for what was happening in steam engines. That's no longer the case when it comes to pretty much anything after relativity and quantum mechanics. It's isn't intuitive any longer and laypeople can't follow the justifications without the mathematics.

    I don't know what the standard model is. I've read a little about it in the popular media, but I wouldn't call that understanding. (I can't follow all the advanced mathematics of the professional version.) I have no way of knowing what doubtful assumptions are hidden in this exceedingly technical stuff, so I have no way of judging its plausibility for myself. It basically just seems really deep and cosmic and I have little choice but to take it on faith. (I feel a little like a medieval villager visiting a grand Gothic cathedral, hearing the teachings of the saints and theologians from on high.)

    A certain kind of metaphysical interpretation of QM appeals to a certain kind of layperson (and a few scientists as well) because it claims that mind creates reality, so that reality can potentially be whatever we want it to be. I don't think that has very much to do with quantum mechanics as it is used by scientists every day, but the essence of quantum mechanics in the minds of many and perhaps most laypeople is "conventional science has been proven wrong and now anything-goes". Any speculation, no matter how outlandish, can be justified by uttering the magic words 'quantum mechanics'.

    That might not have a lot of direct relevance to morality, but it does speak to how people conceptualize the universe around them and to their deepest hopes and dreams are baked into that.

    I think that oftentimes these super-technical issues are emotional to scientists because they stake their careers on particular theories and approaches being true. It's the difference between being known as a pioneer in an historic break-through, and becoming a mere footnote who wasted his or her best years exploring a blind alley.

    I simply have no talent at it. I kind of like it, intellectually. But I will never have the easy familiarity with it that's needed to be successful in physics.

    I agree.

    The beliefs that we care most about are the beliefs that we care about most. There's usually going to be an emotional aspect to that. Our most passionate beliefs are typically going to be about things that seem to us to support or challenge our deepest hopes, dreams, world-views and sense of self identity.
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  23. danshawen Valued Senior Member


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    …so, there is a belief pyramid of some sort I should know about?

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