“Damien, For a writer and claimed atheist you really are not very logical.” – Challenger
“I have no beliefs”, is a nonsense statement I hear some atheists say that is not just inaccurate, it is a harmful confusion hindering the value of accurate beliefs over inaccurate, misleading beliefs or false beliefs.
So here is a conversation with an atheist that to me clearly demonstrates this thinking error that “I have no beliefs.”
- Challenger, “Believe” is not the correct word for showing support in evolution. Belief is a word that should be reserved for things that people hold to be true without evidence or despite evidence to the contrary. When debating creationists we must choose our words carefully so that they don’t say “you believe what you believe, and I believe what I believe” as if it’s on a scale with equal weights.
My response, here are my blogs on this topic:
“Critical or Analytical Thinking and Suspension of Judgment, Disbelief or Belief” http://damienmarieathope.com/2016/03/24/critical-or-analytical-thinking-and-suspension-of-judgment-disbelief-or-belief/
“Addressing The Ethics of Belief” http://damienmarieathope.com/2016/02/29/addressing-the-ethics-of-belief/
“Yes, We All Have Beliefs; But What Does That Mean” http://damienmarieathope.com/2015/12/23/yes-we-all-have-beliefs-but-what-does-that-mean/
- Challenger, I hold NO beliefs. I have reasonable expectations based on evidence.
My response, so you disagree with cognitive/neurological science, psychology and philosophy, ok…
- Challenger, I gave my own perspective.
My response, yes and its empirically wrong
- Challenger, give me an example of a belief you think I hold and I’ll tell you why I don’t.
My response, what is belief? (philosophy):
“belief” to refer to the attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true. To believe something, in this sense, needn’t involve actively reflecting on it it seems so evident we just take it as so as such there are a vast number of things ordinary adults believe. Many of the things we all believe, in the relevant sense, are quite mundane: that there is a sun, that a there is a planet we call earth, that it revolves round that sun and that there is some intelligent life on it; albeit sometimes this intelligent life believes unintelligent things. Forming beliefs is thus one of the most basic and important features of the mind, and the concept of belief plays a crucial role in both philosophy of mind and epistemology. Forming beliefs is thus one of the most basic and important features of the mind, and the concept of belief plays a crucial role in both philosophy of mind and epistemology. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/belief/ “In this work synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist, historian of science, and the world’s best-known skeptic Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. From sensory data flowing in through the senses, the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning. Our brains connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen, and these patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop of belief confirmation. Shermer outlines the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/0805091254/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=44759816505&hvpos=1t1&hvexid&hvnetw=g&hvrand=970579239464584288&hvpone=20.60&hvptwo&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_1est9y1jcd_b
- Challenger, that isn’t what I asked for.
My response, I am showing what is true.
What is belief? (Psychology):
Simply, a belief defines an idea or principle which we judge to be true. When we stop to think about it, functionally this is no small thing: lives are routinely sacrificed and saved based simply on what people believe. Yet I routinely encounter people who believe things that remain not just unproven, but which have been definitively shown to be false. In fact, I so commonly hear people profess complete certainty in the truth of ideas with insufficient evidence to support them that the alarm it used to trigger in me no longer goes off. I’ll challenge a false belief when, in my judgment, it poses a risk to a patient’s life or limb, but I let far more unjustified beliefs pass me by than I stop to confront. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have time to talk about anything else. What exactly is going on here? Why are we all (myself included) so apparently predisposed to believe false propositions? The answer lies in neuropsychology’s growing recognition of just how irrational our rational thinking can be, according to an article in Mother Jones by Chris Mooney. We now know that our intellectual value judgments—that is, the degree to which we believe or disbelieve an idea—are powerfully influenced by our brains’ proclivity for attachment. Our brains are attachment machines, attaching not just to people and places, but to ideas. And not just in a coldly rational manner. Our brains become intimately emotionally entangled with ideas we come to believe are true (however we came to that conclusion) and emotionally allergic to ideas we believe to be false. This emotional dimension to our rational judgment explains a gamut of measurable biases that show just how unlike computers our minds are: Confirmation bias, which causes us to pay more attention and assign greater credence to ideas that support our current beliefs. That is, we cherry pick the evidence that supports a contention we already believe and ignore evidence that argues against it. Disconfirmation bias, which causes us to expend disproportionate energy trying to disprove ideas that contradict our current beliefs. Accuracy of belief isn’t our only cognitive goal. Our other goal is to validate our pre-existing beliefs, beliefs that we’ve been building block by block into a cohesive whole our entire lives. In the fight to accomplish the latter, confirmation bias and disconfirmation bias represent two of the most powerful weapons at our disposal, but simultaneously compromise our ability to judge ideas on their merits and the evidence for or against them. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201104/the-two-kinds-belief
- Challenger, Yes. This may be true of other people by your definition. It does not apply to me.
My response, What is belief? (neuroscience):
Where belief is born: Scientists have begun to look in a different way at how the brain creates the convictions that mold our relationships and inform our behavior. “Belief has been a most powerful component of human nature that has somewhat been neglected,” says Peter Halligan, a psychologist at Cardiff University. “But it has been capitalised on by marketing agents, politics and religion for the best part of two millennia.” That is changing. Once the preserve of philosophers alone, belief is quickly becoming the subject of choice for many psychologists and neuroscientists. Their goal is to create a neurological model of how beliefs are formed, how they affect people and what can manipulate them. And the latest steps in the research might just help to understand a little more about why the world is so fraught with political and social tension. Matthew Lieberman, a psychologist at the University of California, recently showed how beliefs help people’s brains categorise others and view objects as good or bad, largely unconsciously. He demonstrated that beliefs (in this case prejudice or fear) are most likely to be learned from the prevailing culture. When Lieberman showed a group of people photographs of expressionless black faces, he was surprised to find that the amygdala – the brain’s panic button – was triggered in almost two-thirds of cases. There was no difference in the response between black and white people. The amygdala is responsible for the body’s fight or flight response, setting off a chain of biological changes that prepare the body to respond to danger well before the brain is conscious of any threat. Lieberman suggests that people are likely to pick up on stereotypes, regardless of whether their family or community agrees with them. The work, published last month in Nature Neuroscience, is the latest in a rapidly growing field of research called “social neuroscience”, a wide arena which draws together psychologists, neuroscientists and anthropologists all studying the neural basis for the social interaction between humans. Traditionally, cognitive neuroscientists focused on scanning the brains of people doing specific tasks such as eating or listening to music, while social psychologists and social scientists concentrated on groups of people and the interactions between them. To understand how the brain makes sense of the world, it was inevitable that these two groups would have to get together. “In the West, most of our physical needs are provided for. We have a level of luxury and civilisation that is pretty much unparalleled,” says Kathleen Taylor, a neuroscientist at Oxford University. “That leaves us with a lot more leisure and more space in our heads for thinking.” Beliefs and ideas therefore become our currency, says Taylor. Society is no longer a question of simple survival; it is about choice of companions and views, pressures, ideas, options and preferences. “It is quite an exciting development but for people outside the field, a very obvious one,” says Halligan. Understanding belief is not a trivial task, even for the seemingly simplest of human interactions. Take a conversation between two people. When one talks, the other’s brain is processing information through their auditory system at a phenomenal rate. That person’s beliefs act as filters for the deluge of sensory information and guide the brain’s response. Lieberman’s recent work echoed parts of earlier research by Joel Winston of the University of London’s Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience. Winston found that when he presented people with pictures of faces and asked them to rate the trustworthiness of each, the amygdalae showed a greater response to pictures of people who were specifically chosen to represent untrustworthiness. And it did not matter what each person actually said about the pictured faces. “Even people who believe to their core that they do not have prejudices may still have negative associations that are not conscious,” says Lieberman. Beliefs also provide stability. When a new piece of sensory information comes in, it is assessed against these knowledge units before the brain works out whether or not it should be incorporated. People do it when they test the credibility of a politician or hear about a paranormal event. Physically speaking, then, how does a belief exist in the brain? “My own position is to think of beliefs and memories as very similar,” says Taylor. Memories are formed in the brain as networks of neurons that fire when stimulated by an event. The more times the network is employed, the more it fires and the stronger the memory becomes. Halligan says that belief takes the concept of memory a step further. “A belief is a mental architecture of how we interpret the world,” he says. “We have lots of fluid things moving by – perceptions and so forth – but at the level of who our friends are and so on, those things are consolidated in crystallised knowledge units. If we did not have those, every time we woke up, how would we know who we are?” These knowledge units help to assess threats – via the amygdala – based on experience. Ralph Adolphs, a neurologist at the University of Iowa, found that if the amygdala was damaged, the ability of a person to recognise expressions of fear was impaired. A separate study by Adolphs with Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University showed that amygdala damage had a bigger negative impact on the brain’s ability to recognise social emotions, while more basic emotions seemed unaffected. This work on the amygdala shows it is a key part of the threat-assessment response and, in no small part, in the formation of beliefs. Damage to this alarm bell – and subsequent inability to judge when a situation might be dangerous – can be life-threatening. In hunter-gatherer days, beliefs may have been fundamental to human survival. Neuroscientists have long looked at brains that do not function properly to understand how healthy ones work. Researchers of belief formation do the same thing, albeit with a twist. “You look at people who have delusions,” says Halligan. “The assumption is that a delusion is a false belief. That is saying that the content of it is wrong, but it still has the construct of a belief.” In people suffering from prosopagnosia, for example, parts of the brain are damaged so that the person can no longer recognise faces. In the Cotard delusion, people believe they are dead. Fregoli delusion is the belief that the sufferer is constantly being followed around by people in disguise. Capgras’ delusion, named after its discoverer, the French psychiatrist Jean Marie Joseph Capgras, is a belief that someone emotionally close has been replaced by an identical impostor. Until recently, these conditions were regarded as psychiatric problems. But closer study reveals that, in the case of Capgras’ delusion for example, a significant proportion of sufferers had lesions in their brain, typically in the right hemisphere. “There are studies indicating that some people who have suffered brain damage retain some of their religious or political beliefs,” says Halligan. “That’s interesting because whatever beliefs are, they must be held in memory.” Another route to understanding how beliefs form is to look at how they can be manipulated. In her book on the history of brainwashing, Taylor describes how everyone from the Chinese thought reform camps of the last century to religious cults have used systematic methods to persuade people to change their ideas, sometimes radically. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2005/jun/30/psychology.neuroscience
- Challenger, I asked you to give me an example of what you think I hold as a belief.
My response, “Over the past decades, delusions have become the subject of growing and productive research spanning clinical and cognitive neurosciences. Despite this, the nature of belief, which underpins the construct of delusions, has received little formal investigation. No account of delusions, however, would be complete without a cognitive level analysis of belief per se. One reason for this neglect is the assumption that, unlike more established and accessible modular psychological process (e.g., vision, audition, face-recognition, language-processing, and motor-control systems), beliefs comprise more distributed and therefore less accessible central cognitive processes. In this paper, we suggest some defining characteristics and functions of beliefs. Working back from cognitive accounts of delusions, we consider potential candidate cognitive processes that may be involved in normal belief formation. Finally, we advance a multistage account of the belief process that could provide the basis for a more comprehensive model of belief.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327528/
- Challenger, you are avoiding my question.
My response, it all starts in a belief, you have a believing brain.
- Challenger, others do. I explained that I consciously deny holding beliefs. It’s a choice.
My response, What, give you an example of a belief you hold, I don’t? I think you have a believing brain and I know you and everything that can think has a believing brain.
- Challenger, I’m not the same as others. I consciously never hold anything to be true without evidence to support it. No matter what it is. You’ve dodged the question a 3rd time. I’m done here.
My response, you state “I don’t think it is a belief”, so you are consciously holding this nonbelief in beliefs, as if its “true” even though it contradicts the demonstrable evidence, without evidence to support it. “Give you an example of a belief you hold, I don’t? I think you have a believing brain and I know you and everything that can think has a believing brain.” did you not see this?
- Challenger, I saw that you think that. That’s what I asked you to give an example of 3 times. You saw that? 3 times you did not give an example of something you consider to be a belief that all people hold. I would have explained why I PERSONALLY do not. Any example you can give I’d explain why I don’t hold it as a belief. Even if I have as claimed, a “believing mind” I chose NOT to use my mind in this manner. I don’t have all day for you to dodge the question. If I wanted to do that, I’d debate theists. Which you are starting to sound more and more like.
My response, “We all have all kinds of beliefs” our brains connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen, and these patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop of belief confirmation. Shermer outlines the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0805091254/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=44759816505&hvpos=1t1&hvexid&hvnetw=g&hvrand=970579239464584288&hvpone=20.60&hvptwo&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_1est9y1jcd_b
My response, you give only unsupported opinions that contradict facts you are the one like a theist not me I gave facts upon facts and you can debate me as you have not given anything but your invalid unscientific personal thoughts, give me evidence if you want to show me I am wrong. What you don’t seem to get is there are normal beliefs and abnormal beliefs. We all have normative beliefs: “Normative beliefs refer to the perceived behavioral expectations of such important referent individuals or groups as the person’s spouse, family, friends, and — depending on the population and behavior studied – – teacher, doctor, supervisor, and coworkers. It is assumed that these normative beliefs — in combination with the person’s motivation to comply with the different referents — determine the prevailing subjective norm. Specifically, the motivation to comply with each referent contributes to the subjective norm in direct proportion to the person’s subjective probability that the referent thinks the person should perform the behavior in question (see subjective norm).” http://people.umass.edu/aizen/nb.html A cognitive account of belief: a tentative road map, “In the case of belief, an account of normal belief formation provides a framework to better appreciate delusions in a principled and testable manner.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327528/ I don’t care why you PERSONALLY do not think you have a believing brain like everything that can think, as I want evidence to persuade me.
- Challenger, why do you keep dodging my question and instead keep posting these things that seem to back your position? I asked that you give one example of something you say I “believe”. So I can explain how I’ve trained myself to not. My definition of “believe” is the strict version of it being reserved for people who hold something to be true without or despite evidence. I explained how I never ever do that and asked that you give me an example of how you figure I’m not doing that. As yet I’m waiting for you to give that example. You keep posting, and writing but as of yet not given the example so that I can debate it.
My response, you do know it’s you that has the not even once have any supporting evidence that it is possible for a human to have no beliefs. That is a scientific impossibility. So, you confirm with evidence from science that it is possible and I will start to consider it but until then you are evading not me and I did address your question not that I had to as your unsupported claims are the biggest error in this communication so give evidence please or you admit you have unsupported claims. The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not render that claim valid, nor give it any credence whatsoever. However, it is important to note that we can never be certain of anything, and so we must assign value to any claim based on the available evidence, and to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn’t been proven beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.
- Challenger, I claimed the NEGATIVE of NOT holding any beliefs. That’s why I ASKED YOU to make a claim of SOME specific belief that you say I must hold. So I can make the case for why I don’t hold THAT particular belief. So that I can use burden of proof on a POSITIVE! For a writer and claimed atheist you really are not very logical.
My response, Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief, and Uncertainty:
Objective: The difference between believing and disbelieving a proposition is one of the most potent regulators of human behavior and emotion. When one accepts a statement as true, it becomes the basis for further thought and action; rejected as false, it remains a string of words. The purpose of this study was to differentiate belief, disbelief, and uncertainty at the level of the brain.
Methods: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of 14 adults while they judged written statements to be “true” (belief), “false” (disbelief), or “undecidable” (uncertainty). To characterize belief, disbelief, and uncertainty in a content-independent manner, we included statements from a wide range of categories: autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual.
Results: The states of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty differentially activated distinct regions of the prefrontal and parietal cortices, as well as the basal ganglia.
Interpretation: Belief and disbelief differ from uncertainty in that both provide information that can subsequently inform behavior and emotion. The mechanism underlying this difference appears to involve the anterior cingulate cortex and the caudate. Although many areas of higher cognition are likely involved in assessing the truth-value of linguistic propositions, the final acceptance of a statement as “true” or its rejection as “false” appears to rely on more primitive, hedonic processing in the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula. Truth may be beauty, and beauty truth, in more than a metaphorical sense, and false propositions may actually disgust us. statements to be “true” (belief), “false” (disbelief), or “undecidable” (uncertainty). To characterize belief, disbelief, and uncertainty in a content-independent manner, we included statements from a wide range of categories: autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual. http://www.brainmapping.org/MarkCohen/Papers/Harris_Sheth_Cohen.pdf
- Challenger, again, you have not answered my direct question.
My response, you don’t get it’s you using logical fallacies and not giving the valid or reliable evidence to your claims so you are the one that needs to put up or we are done as you refused to support that you unlike, saying stuff about me to make your lack of evidence and unfounded debunked claim by my evidence offered. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, “Your beliefs about the way you think can shape your life in surprising ways. A spate of recent findings suggest that targeting such metacognition can help relieve mood and anxiety disorders, and it may even reduce symptoms of psychosis.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rethink-your-thoughts-about-thinking/
We accumulate beliefs that we allow to negatively influence our lives often without realizing it. However, it is our willingness to alter skewed beliefs or assertions that impede our balance, which brings about a new caring, connected, and critical awareness.
Yes, We All Have Beliefs; But What Does That Mean?