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Is belief without proof ever justified?

personperson Don't believe everything you thinkthe liminal space Veteran

From Crash Course philosophy against it

and some pragmatic arguments on the pro side

Vastmind
«1

Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I don't feel a need to justify what I believe to anyone, ever. But, I also do not use my beliefs to make decisions on behalf of others by restricting their lives due to my beliefs. I truly don't talk about them much, especially in daily life. But what is belief anyhow? I think a lot of things, but I don't know that I'd say they are hard set beliefs. If my beliefs are always in motion based on what I experience and learn, are they really beliefs? Or is unwavering faith required?

    When it comes to making choices (like vaccinations) we all have to do the best we can with our beliefs and with proof. Some choose to leave proof off completely. But there are also times where I feel something is off despite current scientific proof. Because science isn't always right especially considering our health and how different things affect each of us. And later, it changes and we find out "science" was wrong and the scientists lied or skewed their results and the consequences are far-reaching. Like the autism study or the study that said low fat diets will decrease heart disease. So for my own personal decisions, I go with what feels like the right thing for me to do. Sometimes science supports it, sometimes not. It's harder when I am making choices for my kids, because I have to do so on their behalf and it probably isn't going to work out that what I choose for myself is going to be best for my kids.

    When I am in doubt and it comes to being vocal or making decisions (such as voting) I usually put aside my personal feelings and go with what current proof is. But there are a lot of government resources and studies that I flat out don't trust so despite what their so-called proof is, I will make different choices in my own life. I just don't use those feelings to make choices in the lives of others because I don't know what is best for them.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited May 2016

    Also, belief in itself is quite fascinating. There are studies starting to come out that believing something changes our body's reaction to various things. That's really interesting and puts things like placebos in a totally new light. If we can, for example, experience less pain just by believing we are experiencing less pain, then the implications for that are pretty vast. A study I read recently (I will see if i can find it) suggested that even what we believe about what we eat impacts how our body reacts to that food. If you eat a big piece of cheesecake and are negative in thinking how bad it is for you, feeling guilty for eating it etc the effect it has on your body is different than you if you enjoy the cheesecake and don't engage in that negative talk about how bad it is for you.

    Edit found an article about one of the studies, I believe there was another this year that came out
    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/04/14/299179468/mind-over-milkshake-how-your-thoughts-fool-your-stomach

    Bunkspersonlobster
  • GuiGui Veteran

    Belief is only required when proof is not found.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    Justified belief is faith.

    Something I reserve for the tangible like having faith that someone can turn their life around or in the most extreme case, the whole of mankind.

    Some will say that we all have beliefs whether we admit it or not but I don't.

    The argument usually goes way of making odd claims such as I believe or have faith that the light will turn on when I flip the switch. Of course that's incorrect as I know for a fact that the light will either turn on or it won't.

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having faith in things like the afterlife or whatever but it isn't for me.

    It seems so limiting.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Gui said:
    Belief is only required when proof is not found.

    @David said:
    Justified belief is faith.

    Something I reserve for the tangible like having faith that someone can turn their life around or in the most extreme case, the whole of mankind.

    Some will say that we all have beliefs whether we admit it or not but I don't.

    The argument usually goes way of making odd claims such as I believe or have faith that the light will turn on when I flip the switch. Of course that's incorrect as I know for a fact that the light will either turn on or it won't.

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having faith in things like the afterlife or whatever but it isn't for me.

    It seems so limiting.

    I understand your points but I define belief as any idea that one accepts as being true. So if you think God is real that is something you believe, likewise if you think that the earth orbits the sun that is also something you believe.

    The term belief is often synonymous with blind faith but the definition I'm using for the purposes of the thread is the one that follows.

    Full Definition of belief

    1
    a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
    2
    something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
    3
    conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited May 2016

    TL;DW version of the OP
    Are we only responsible for our actions or are we also responsible for the beliefs we hold?
    If you hold a false belief and it causes harm most would agree that you are responsible for the harm, but are you also morally responsible for holding a false belief if no harm is caused? The example is believing a decrepit ship is safe to sail and it somehow manages to make its trip safely.

    On the opposite side of the argument, William James thinks an unproven belief is justified if it meets 3 criteria, that it is 'live' or something you can imagine being possible for you to believe, that it is 'forced' in that you can't opt out, and that it is 'momentous' and not trivial.

    Blaise Pascal takes the betting man's stance that its better safe than sorry.

    Soren Kierkegaard says that religious belief can't be obtained through reason or proof, that what makes it great is the trusting leaping nature of it.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    what does 'justified' mean in the question if belief without proof? Buddhism says you will always be criticized no matter what you do.

    herberto
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @person said:

    @Gui said:
    Belief is only required when proof is not found.

    @David said:
    Justified belief is faith.

    Something I reserve for the tangible like having faith that someone can turn their life around or in the most extreme case, the whole of mankind.

    Some will say that we all have beliefs whether we admit it or not but I don't.

    The argument usually goes way of making odd claims such as I believe or have faith that the light will turn on when I flip the switch. Of course that's incorrect as I know for a fact that the light will either turn on or it won't.

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having faith in things like the afterlife or whatever but it isn't for me.

    It seems so limiting.

    I understand your points but I define belief as any idea that one accepts as being true. So if you think God is real that is something you believe, likewise if you think that the earth orbits the sun that is also something you believe.

    I admit that's a little tough for me. Thinking God is real could mean so many different things but to give the Bibles creation story as much credence as an observable fact leaves me dry.

    The term belief is often synonymous with blind faith but the definition I'm using for the purposes of the thread is the one that follows.

    >Full Definition of belief
    1
    a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
    2
    something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
    3
    conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
    >
    > http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

    Ok, I'll try to keep up.

    herberto
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    what does 'justified' mean in the question if belief without proof? Buddhism says you will always be criticized no matter what you do.

    That's why I think it's best not to take a solid stance on anything that hasn't been proven within reason.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    what does 'justified' mean in the question if belief without proof? Buddhism says you will always be criticized no matter what you do.

    There is something in philosophy called epistemic or intellectual responsibility. Justified just means that we have good reasons, so I guess I'm asking if there are other good reasons besides solid scientific proof.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @David said:

    @person said:

    @Gui said:
    Belief is only required when proof is not found.

    @David said:
    Justified belief is faith.

    Something I reserve for the tangible like having faith that someone can turn their life around or in the most extreme case, the whole of mankind.

    Some will say that we all have beliefs whether we admit it or not but I don't.

    The argument usually goes way of making odd claims such as I believe or have faith that the light will turn on when I flip the switch. Of course that's incorrect as I know for a fact that the light will either turn on or it won't.

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having faith in things like the afterlife or whatever but it isn't for me.

    It seems so limiting.

    I understand your points but I define belief as any idea that one accepts as being true. So if you think God is real that is something you believe, likewise if you think that the earth orbits the sun that is also something you believe.

    I admit that's a little tough for me. Thinking God is real could mean so many different things but to give the Bibles creation story as much credence as an observable fact leaves me dry.

    The term belief is often synonymous with blind faith but the definition I'm using for the purposes of the thread is the one that follows.

    >Full Definition of belief
    1
    a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
    2
    something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
    3
    conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
    >
    > http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief

    Ok, I'll try to keep up.

    Basically I think just try to take how likely something is completely out of the definition. Its only about an individual's relationship to the idea.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @person said:
    TL;DW version of the OP
    Are we only responsible for our actions or are we also responsible for the beliefs we hold?
    If you hold a false belief and it causes harm most would agree that you are responsible for the harm, but are you also morally responsible for holding a false belief if no harm is caused? The example is believing a decrepit ship is safe to sail and it somehow manages to make its trip safely.

    If it happened to me, I would find fault with my actions because someone could have drown and I didn't take the proper precautions. Luck shouldn't be taken for liberty. If it was someone else I may find excuses.

    Morality is such a subjective thing and it's best to remove the beam yadda, yadda, yadda.

    On the opposite side of the argument, William James thinks an unproven belief is justified if it meets 3 criteria, that it is 'live' or reasonable to believe, that it is 'forced' in that you can't opt out, and that it is 'momentous' and not trivial.

    See now first he has to define what it takes to be reasonable enough to believe. That's a bit sticky.

    Blaise Pascal takes the betting man's stance that its better safe than sorry.

    Pascals Wager mistakenly posits only two possibilities.

    Soren Kierkegaard says that religious belief can't be obtained through reason or proof, that what makes it great is the trusting leaping nature of it.

    Well, it does mean that no one persons religious belief can trump anothers and that's all fine and good until one is made "official".

    For myself it's ok to believe something if it is an obvious fact like water will freeze when it's cold enough and melt when it gets warm enough. I believe the pictures of a spherical Earth but I still wouldn't bother having faith in it if the possibility arose that it was all a hoax.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @David said:

    @person said:
    TL;DW version of the OP
    Are we only responsible for our actions or are we also responsible for the beliefs we hold?
    If you hold a false belief and it causes harm most would agree that you are responsible for the harm, but are you also morally responsible for holding a false belief if no harm is caused? The example is believing a decrepit ship is safe to sail and it somehow manages to make its trip safely.

    If it happened to me, I would find fault with my actions because someone could have drown and I didn't take the proper precautions. If it was someone else I may find excuses.

    Morality is such a subjective thing and it's best to remove the beam yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Is it though? I get not placing blame but society does make laws based on some sort of common morality.

    On the opposite side of the argument, William James thinks an unproven belief is justified if it meets 3 criteria, that it is 'live' or reasonable to believe, that it is 'forced' in that you can't opt out, and that it is 'momentous' and not trivial.

    See now first he has to define what it takes to be reasonable enough to believe. That's a bit sticky.

    Yeah, I was trying to sum up the point and was off, I went back before you posted and made an edit. I changed it to something one could imagine it possible for them to believe. Like you might think its plausible you could believe in alien life, but not plausible for you to believe aliens are living among us. Possible for the individual not objectively possible.

    Blaise Pascal takes the betting man's stance that its better safe than sorry.

    Pascals Wager mistakenly posits only two possibilities.

    Agreed

    Soren Kierkegaard says that religious belief can't be obtained through reason or proof, that what makes it great is the trusting leaping nature of it.

    Well, it does mean that no one persons religious belief can trump anothers and that's all fine and good until one is made "official".

    Good point.

    So are you in the camp that says that belief isn't justified without proof?

  • IchLiebteIchLiebte US Veteran

    I think if it doesn't hurt anyone, anything is justified.

    That being said, I once knew an evangelical pastor who told me that belief had to be backed up by proof. It was very interesting (read: weird) to hear from someone of that sort of faith.

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran

    @person said:

    Is it though? I get not placing blame but society does make laws based on some sort of common morality.

    I think morality is subjective. Societies change laws. There do seem to be some obvious ethical precepts that most, if not all, societies adhere to (e.g. prohibitions against murder, assault, theft, etc.). But even within these precepts, there are always differing views about how to deal with offenders, what to do about crime committed in certain circumstances, etc. Also, what is accepted as moral or immoral by previous generations can be overturned by later generations.

    person
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Is belief without proof ever justified?

    Justification by whom? Skilful belief is as @karasti mentions able to create quite profound change. People treat 'effect' as 'proof'. So for example belief in Jesus or dharma effects our well being, that proves to us it is real. In fact it only proves that the belief has an effect.

    Only accepting what can be repeatedly and independently verified is sciences justification of its proofs. Very useful, functional and applicable to many areas.

    Personally I use powerful beliefs, knowing they are imaginary, placebo if you will, as a means. For example yidam practice. So my experience justifies my fantastical belief that Manjushri can be thought of as real, despite not existing in any but internally provable ways ...
    http://studybuddhism.com/en/tibetan-buddhism/tantra/buddhist-tantra/what-is-a-mandala

    karastiperson
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited May 2016

    Even saying "proof" can be difficult, as those who are stringent in their belief in God will tell you they have proof that God exists. That is a lot of the reason you cannot have discussions with them having an open mind otherwise. Because they think they have the proof. I think a lot of us find some brand of "proof" in our beliefs because having those kinds of beliefs means we have to defend them. Sometimes anecdotal proof is correct and science can later prove it after enough people share their experiences (such as the effects of meditation). If so many people didn't share their belief (and thus their proof in their own lives) that meditation had benefits, science never would have tested it. So that kind of belief is sometimes necessary in order to gain further proof.

    I don't find belief to be limiting. You can choose to view is as expansive. It is the expectation of result that is limiting. If I believe the light will turn on when I flip the switch, then I am expecting an outcome. But I think that is a part of our brain's learning process that we don't really need to worry about controlling. It is just part of compiled experiences. It doesn't mean one is limited as a result. What limits us is how we view the outcome and how we react to it.

    person
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Also in many cases science is a disaster in some ways. There is little incentive for later people to test if a result was reproducible (unless otherwise there is a reason for later tests) and I have read recently in Science magazine where they did do tests of reproducibility (this is in a particular small small area of science... I can't remember exactly which area but I can try to look it up if anyone interested) and they found like only 35% they could reproduce.

    person
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    In some areas of science reproduceability is poor, but these are the exception rather than the norm. In a lot of areas like physics the ability to reproduce is everything. In social sciences results tend to be a bit more fluid.

    person
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @person said:

    @David said:

    @person said:
    TL;DW version of the OP
    Are we only responsible for our actions or are we also responsible for the beliefs we hold?
    If you hold a false belief and it causes harm most would agree that you are responsible for the harm, but are you also morally responsible for holding a false belief if no harm is caused? The example is believing a decrepit ship is safe to sail and it somehow manages to make its trip safely.

    If it happened to me, I would find fault with my actions because someone could have drown and I didn't take the proper precautions. If it was someone else I may find excuses.

    Morality is such a subjective thing and it's best to remove the beam yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Is it though? I get not placing blame but society does make laws based on some sort of common morality.

    Laws often get broken by people trying to do the right thing.

    On the opposite side of the argument, William James thinks an unproven belief is justified if it meets 3 criteria, that it is 'live' or reasonable to believe, that it is 'forced' in that you can't opt out, and that it is 'momentous' and not trivial.

    See now first he has to define what it takes to be reasonable enough to believe. That's a bit sticky.

    Yeah, I was trying to sum up the point and was off, I went back before you posted and made an edit. I changed it to something one could imagine it possible for them to believe. Like you might think its plausible you could believe in alien life, but not plausible for you to believe aliens are living among us. Possible for the individual not objectively possible.

    Thinking something is plausible or possible is not the same as believing it to be true.

    So are you in the camp that says that belief isn't justified without proof?

    I can only speak for myself but yes. I cannot say what justifies somebody else's belief.

    I've heard it said that the more we believe the less we know but I've also heard it's impossible to know anything for an absolute and unchanging fact.

    Maybe it's somewhere in between.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @IchLiebte said:
    I think if it doesn't hurt anyone, anything is justified.

    Just trying to narrow down a bit, because the example was of a belief that didn't hurt anyone but could have. So if you believe having red hair is a sign you are devil spawn and should be stoned to death but you never in your life run into a red head, would that be justified?

    @David said:

    On the opposite side of the argument, William James thinks an unproven belief is justified if it meets 3 criteria, that it is 'live' or reasonable to believe, that it is 'forced' in that you can't opt out, and that it is 'momentous' and not trivial.

    See now first he has to define what it takes to be reasonable enough to believe. That's a bit sticky.

    Yeah, I was trying to sum up the point and was off, I went back before you posted and made an edit. I changed it to something one could imagine it possible for them to believe. Like you might think its plausible you could believe in alien life, but not plausible for you to believe aliens are living among us. Possible for the individual not objectively possible.

    Thinking something is plausible or possible is not the same as believing it to be true.

    Its just one of his 3 criteria for justification of belief without proof. I'm probably doing a bad job of explaining it, probably just go watch that portion of the first video (I think its about halfway through) or google it.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    How about this one. Say you're a religious teacher and in your bundle of beliefs you teach you have an unproven belief about an immoral behavior. In general you espouse a live and let live, kindness and love towards all belief system. So your belief about the immoral behavior wouldn't cause harm because of the context of your other beliefs.

    Someone could hear that belief about immoral behavior and add it to their beliefs that aren't so kind and inclusive and use it to harm those perpetrators.

    Does the first person have any moral responsibility for their belief that was used by another to do harm?

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I don't think so, no. Because we cannot control anyone else and how they perceive something and how they act on it as a result. People skew their religions all the time and use them to bring about laws and other actions that impact the lives of other people. But they still see no harm in it, even when they are directly faced with someone telling them it has harmed them, because their belief is that they are doing something good even if their target doesn't know better. There is no way to use reason and logic with those types of people.

    While I know it is not the case, I would hope that a religious leader would have an ability to know when something could be harmful when the wrong person gets a hold of it. That is why, in the old days, particular teachings were only a transmission from teacher to student-in part to protect others from themselves. Sometimes people ask me questions about Buddhism and I decline to discuss it with them because I may not have a full grasp of the topic and I do not want my misunderstanding to be the representation of Buddhism in their life.

    Whether we are officially teachers or not, all of us are teachers on some level. And all of us say and do things that harm others. When I was a dumb teenager, I broke up with a boyfriend and was rude about it. Many years later (20 years) he found me on FB and told me it was my fault he joined the military and was injured in Iraq. He blamed me foor his actions because I wasn't very nice when I broke up with him. Are his actions my responsibility and thus his current disability is my fault? Or did he have more responsibility to deal with things in a different manner?

    personlobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    I'm going to try to watch the video later. I'm usually posting on the go and it would have cut into my meditation to do so earlier.

    @person said:
    How about this one. Say you're a religious teacher and in your bundle of beliefs you teach you have an unproven belief about an immoral behavior. In general you espouse a live and let live, kindness and love towards all belief system. So your belief about the immoral behavior wouldn't cause harm because of the context of your other beliefs.

    Someone could hear that belief about immoral behavior and add it to their beliefs that aren't so kind and inclusive and use it to harm those perpetrators.

    Does the first person have any moral responsibility for their belief that was used by another to do harm?

    In a way I think so, yes. Especially if it is taught as fact. I'd put it in there with harmonious speech and harmonious mindfulness.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @genkaku perfect!

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    @karasti said:
    @genkaku perfect!

    Yaaaaaaaaaaas!

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @person said:
    How about this one. Say you're a religious teacher and in your bundle of beliefs you teach you have an unproven belief about an immoral behavior. In general you espouse a live and let live, kindness and love towards all belief system. So your belief about the immoral behavior wouldn't cause harm because of the context of your other beliefs.

    Someone could hear that belief about immoral behavior and add it to their beliefs that aren't so kind and inclusive and use it to harm those perpetrators.

    Does the first person have any moral responsibility for their belief that was used by another to do harm?

    In a similar vein how about Donald Trump? Some of the beliefs he espouses don't directly harm people but others can take his beliefs, add them to their own and use them to harm others.

    Does Donald Trump have any moral responsibility for his beliefs? If so and the first example doesn't what's the distinction between the two?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    El Presidente Chogyam Trumpa is not a real person, moral or anything but an empty head filled with self delusion and self interest ... that of course is my empty belief ...

    However just like Osho, the well known nitrous oxide addict and Rolls Royce collector, we can take their actions and those of their jailed acolytes as having serious if inadvertent teachings ...
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/the-dark-side-of-spirituality-the-guru-papers-unmasks-sacred-cows/

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @lobster said:
    El Presidente Chogyam Trumpa is not a real person, moral or anything but an empty head filled with self delusion and self interest ... that of course is my empty belief ...

    However just like Osho, the well known nitrous oxide addict and Rolls Royce collector, we can take their actions and those of their jailed acolytes as having serious if inadvertent teachings ...
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/the-dark-side-of-spirituality-the-guru-papers-unmasks-sacred-cows/

    In these spiritual scandals, actual harm was done by such gurus. I'm asking if a belief that causes no harm but others latch onto to cause harm poses any moral responsibility for the original believer?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited May 2016

    This is similar to something that plays out in my head once in a while. I both believe we need to practice right speech but I also believe it is my choice to be offended (or whatever) by what someone else says. So, really, shouldn't I be able to give myself permission to say what I want because it's the receiver's responsibility to do what they will and I"m off the hook? In the end, I always arrive at the same conclusion: I should practice Right Speech because I know what it is, and I know how to do it. I likewise can (and usually do) choose not to be offended. However, I cannot expect anyone else to follow that value/moral because they perhaps don't even know about Right Speech or perhaps they are not in a place they can make use of it. But I can.

    I see Trump and other similar examples the same. Would it be nice if they practiced something like Right Speech, knowing they have an ability to influence others and to be very careful in how they use that influence of their beliefs and the words they use to express those beliefs? Yes. But I cannot demand it, nor can or should I hold them responsible for the actions of others. Because I can't take what I know about carrying that responsibility myself and tell everyone else they have to do it, too. Because they aren't all there yet, and they truly do not get it.

    JeffreyVastmindperson
  • Is belief without proof ever justified?

    A child needs someone to trust. When the mother says - Don't smoke or do drugs - the child needs to belief that "mother knows best". When that child grows up, he doesn't need to belief anymore - he knows the truth.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    So it sounds like the general feeling is unproven beliefs are justified if they do no harm and you keep them to yourself?

    Maybe I would add that the internal logic is consistent and borrow from William James, that the belief has a strong impact on your life.

    Realistically I'm guessing social pressure has an impact. Do you really want to be the only one at a barbecue who thinks ketchup is better on a hotdog than mustard?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @person said: Realistically I'm guessing social pressure has an impact.

    Yes, I think that's a big factor, what we believe is initially shaped by our upbringing, and then by our peer group. It can take some courage to examine deeply-held beliefs and assumptions, particularly because they are sometimes rather irrational.

    personkarastilobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @person said:

    @person said:
    How about this one. Say you're a religious teacher and in your bundle of beliefs you teach you have an unproven belief about an immoral behavior. In general you espouse a live and let live, kindness and love towards all belief system. So your belief about the immoral behavior wouldn't cause harm because of the context of your other beliefs.

    Someone could hear that belief about immoral behavior and add it to their beliefs that aren't so kind and inclusive and use it to harm those perpetrators.

    Does the first person have any moral responsibility for their belief that was used by another to do harm?

    In a similar vein how about Donald Trump? Some of the beliefs he espouses don't directly harm people but others can take his beliefs, add them to their own and use them to harm others.

    Does Donald Trump have any moral responsibility for his beliefs? If so and the first example doesn't what's the distinction between the two?

    I would say he doesn't because if he did he wouldn't broadcast them. In fact I would say he has irresponsibility for his beliefs.

    Hurt people hurt people and many wounds are mental.

    @person said:
    So it sounds like the general feeling is unproven beliefs are justified if they do no harm and you keep them to yourself?

    Maybe I would add that the internal logic is consistent and borrow from William James, that the belief has a strong impact on your life.

    Realistically I'm guessing social pressure has an impact. Do you really want to be the only one at a barbecue who thinks ketchup is better on a hotdog than mustard?

    If I worried about that kind of thing I wouldn't even be Buddhist, lol.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Maybe also that a belief can't be disproven. The recently reemerged flat earth movement could fit into at least some of the above categories but it also is proven to be untrue.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @person said:

    @lobster said:
    El Presidente Chogyam Trumpa is not a real person, moral or anything but an empty head filled with self delusion and self interest ... that of course is my empty belief ...

    However just like Osho, the well known nitrous oxide addict and Rolls Royce collector, we can take their actions and those of their jailed acolytes as having serious if inadvertent teachings ...
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/the-dark-side-of-spirituality-the-guru-papers-unmasks-sacred-cows/

    In these spiritual scandals, actual harm was done by such gurus. I'm asking if a belief that causes no harm but others latch onto to cause harm poses any moral responsibility for the original believer?

    Interestingly, Osho often taught the need to think for yourself, to be intelligent and not follow the crowd blindly. Although the scandals around his Oregon time have gotten a lot of publicity, I do think that the net balance of his teachings and legacy is a positive one...

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @person said:
    So it sounds like the general feeling is unproven beliefs are justified if they do no harm and you keep them to yourself?

    I can't entirely agree with that. I feel we have a duty that if a belief cannot be proven and is unbeneficial, to let it go. One only has so much room in one's head, and keeping that list of beliefs uncluttered is quite important. You never know when an old unproven belief is going to come back and bite you in the behind.

    Realistically I'm guessing social pressure has an impact. Do you really want to be the only one at a barbecue who thinks ketchup is better on a hotdog than mustard?

    Its best to resist social pressure. The benefits of conformity are overrated, and rebels and free-thinkers are always the most interesting people.

  • BarahBarah Veteran

    @person said:
    Is belief without proof ever justified?

    Yes. Many scientific discoveries had their beginning in beliefs. Before you can prove something you need be directed to it, and belief seems to be the way.
    But! Belief shouldn't be the goal itself. In such form, it becomes dangerous.

    Fosdick
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    So yes, we shouldn't rest on our beliefs but should continually test and examine them.

    I used to take a daily multivitamin believing it was helpful, then the studies came out saying they don't do anything, so I stopped spending my money.

    Fish oil is good for you so I bought fish oil capsules, then the studies came out saying in capsule form there isn't any benefit. I bought a bunch right before I found out, but I won't be buying any more.

    While it wasn't harmful to my health I spent money that could have been spent elsewhere. So maybe its better to not believe in claims until they are proven?

    But what if I was a smoker in the 50s and I believed the early claims about the harmful effects before it was actually proven? Waiting for scientific consensus until acting on a belief would have been the wrong choice in that situation.

    The question is how to sort out truth claims. There is so much information out there now that claim all kinds of things, often contradictory, that its hard to figure it out. I try to watch out for bias, if a claim only presents arguments and examples from its side then I make sure to get other sources.

    Some sort of combination of continual skepticism and openness seems to be in order.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Interestingly, Osho often taught the need to think for yourself, to be intelligent and not follow the crowd blindly. Although the scandals around his Oregon time have gotten a lot of publicity, I do think that the net balance of his teachings and legacy is a positive one...

    Really? ... this is the Oregon publicity ...
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/justice-story/guru-poison-bioterrorrists-spread-salmonella-oregon-article-1.1373864

    Perhaps Bhagawan/Osho's addiction to Nitrous oxide, the enforced rape of women (to help them let go of their hang ups) is part of the positive legacy?

    How can I put this politely ... time to move on ... but just in case ...
    http://www.enlightened-spirituality.org/rajneesh.html

  • Interesting article emphasizing experience as more relevant to reality than belief due to its unreliability as, well, basically an illusion.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality-2016-5

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @IronRabbit said:
    Interesting article emphasizing experience as more relevant to reality than belief due to its unreliability as, well, basically an illusion.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality-2016-5

    Kind of throws a big metaphysical hand grenade into the whole thread. :confounded:

    silver
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    TL;DR.

    Synopsis? My eyes began to cloud over......

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @federica said:
    TL;DR.

    Synopsis? My eyes began to cloud over......

    From earlier:
    TL;DW version of the OP
    Are we only responsible for our actions or are we also responsible for the beliefs we hold?
    If you hold a false belief and it causes harm most would agree that you are responsible for the harm, but are you also morally responsible for holding a false belief if no harm is caused? The example is believing a decrepit ship is safe to sail and it somehow manages to make its trip safely.

    On the opposite side of the argument, William James thinks an unproven belief is justified if it meets 3 criteria, that it is 'live' or something you can imagine being possible for you to believe, that it is 'forced' in that you can't opt out, and that it is 'momentous' and not trivial.

    Blaise Pascal takes the betting man's stance that its better safe than sorry.

    Soren Kierkegaard says that religious belief can't be obtained through reason or proof, that what makes it great is the trusting leaping nature of it.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    This talks about how even when we overturn one belief on review there can be other pieces of that belief that remain. (my recollection as I saw this a while ago).

    The author is interested in philosophy and artificial intelligence (AI) both. In this strictly speaking she is thinking about a Bayes net which is one (of many) set ups for AI at least I gather on recollection.

    It is 9 minutes and here is her text intro bit on youtube:
    Published on Mar 1, 2016

    (ETA: Changed the title, since it was misleading!)
    How is rationality like artificial intelligence? One connection is that both fields are interested in how to handle interdependent beliefs. In this video I explain why your brain is not like an AI, and why that means you end up believing contradictory things

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    I like her thinking @Jeffrey, I have to run now but I plan on looking into more of her videos.

    Jeffrey
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Here's another one that I was actually looking for (and finally found) when I was talking about science.

    http://www.nature.com/news/how-scientists-fool-themselves-and-how-they-can-stop-1.18517

    Example of text --->

    Failure to understand our own biases has helped to create a crisis of confidence about the reproducibility of published results, says statistician John Ioannidis, co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The issue goes well beyond cases of fraud. Earlier this year, a large project that attempted to replicate 100 psychology studies managed to reproduce only slightly more than one-third2. In 2012, researchers at biotechnology firm Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California, reported that they could replicate only 6 out of 53 landmark studies in oncology and haematology3. And in 2009, Ioannidis and his colleagues described how they had been able to fully reproduce only 2 out of 18 microarray-based gene-expression studies4.

    and introducing the idea of how our brains our fallible----->

    This is the big problem in science that no one is talking about: even an honest person is a master of self-deception. Our brains evolved long ago on the African savannah, where jumping to plausible conclusions about the location of ripe fruit or the presence of a predator was a matter of survival. But a smart strategy for evading lions does not necessarily translate well to a modern laboratory, where tenure may be riding on the analysis of terabytes of multidimensional data. In today's environment, our talent for jumping to conclusions makes it all too easy to find false patterns in randomness, to ignore alternative explanations for a result or to accept 'reasonable' outcomes without question — that is, to ceaselessly lead ourselves astray without realizing it.

    and historically this has been a problem and we have at times met the challenge. We did not always have the 'double blind' standard of experiment design---->

    “When crises like this issue of reproducibility come along, it's a good opportunity to advance our scientific tools,” says Robert MacCoun, a social scientist at Stanford. That has happened before, when scientists in the mid-twentieth century realized that experimenters and subjects often unconsciously changed their behaviour to match expectations. From that insight, the double-blind standard was born.

    but there are new modern challenges because the types of data we have and software to analyze it are quite different --------->

    Andrew King, a management specialist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, says that the widespread use of point-and-click data-analysis software has made it easy for researchers to sift through massive data sets without fully understanding the methods, and to find small p-values that may not actually mean anything. “I believe we are in the steroids era of social science,” he says. “I've been guilty of using some of these performance-enhancing practices myself. My sense is that most researchers have fallen at least once.”

    Just as in competitive sport, says Hal Pashler, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, this can set up a vicious circle of chasing increasingly better results. When a few studies in behavioural neuroscience started reporting improbably strong correlations of 0.85, Pashler says, researchers who had more moderate (and plausible) results started to worry: “Gee, I just got a 0.4, so maybe I'm not really doing this very well."

    The article continues to explain in more detail 4 types of fallacies and proposed ways to defeat them in the future. They are: hypothesis myopia, Texas sharpshooter, asymmetric attention, and just so storytelling.

    Those fallacies ^^^ above I find relevant not just to science but also maybe meditation (eg storytelling for example) and our understanding of what is happening in our life via our minds and awareness.

    I personally experienced 'asymmetric attention' working as a water testing technician. I was not unethical (ie deliberate fraud) but if I was getting strange data it was reasonable for me to believe that 'something was up' with my set up. So I repeat 'odd results' to see if they are true but do not repeat 'normal' results. This is probably ok for a water technician (i did repeat test to see if normal) but wouldn't be good if I was collecting data for a study.

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Great stuff @Jeffrey, thanks

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Yeah I like that article too. It is a very efficient article to learn a lot without too many words I needed to look up to understand the article. I also feel if you just look intuitively at the 4 fallacies these happen pretty broadly in our thoughts and not just in science.

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