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Author Topic:   Honest Debate: how do you read?
RAZD
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Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 1 of 49 (541439)
01-03-2010 4:28 PM


There are a number of forum guidelines for posting behavior. Basically they deal with being honest: honest in who you are, honest is what you say is your content, and honest in your portrayal of what people being quoted are actually saying (whether forum members or other people).

8. Avoid any form of misrepresentation.

The best way to pursue this that I can see is to try to understand what is being quoted before making the quote.

This topic started forming in my mind during debate with Kaicos_Man in the Adding information to the genome. thread (see subthread in Peanut Gallery starting with Message 182 and my message Message 189 in this regard).

What I proposed at the time, was that Kaichos_Man was not reading to understand the evolution position, but to be able to refute it, poke holes in, find inconsistencies, etc. His lack of understanding led him to see what he considered big problems with evolution in the material he was quoting.

From my personal observations on this and other forums, he is not alone in this type of behavior, and it is fairly common in creationist posts to see vast misrepresentations of evolution presented as common knowledge, but I have also seen this behavior in non-creationists. The issue crops up whenever someone says "you've misunderstood\misquoted\misrepresented what I said" -- and this should be a big red flag to anyone who considers themselves an honest poster.

So do you read for understanding (as best you can)?
Or do you read to find and pick out points to base a refutation on?

I think it is easy to get caught up in this last behavior in the heat of a debate, but this doesn't excuse not back-checking when the red flag is raised.

In One's Own Theory by Bluejay we see a similar concern:

We, as evolutionists, are constantly fighting strawmen on this forum. It seems, in fact, that creationists are not even making any effort to understand at all.
...
Some questions to ask:

Does belief always come before understanding? Should it?
How large is the role of confirmation bias in our learning process?
...

I'm starting a new thread because (a) I did not want to tie up someone else's thread with my argument/s, (b) I wanted to expand on reasons for lack of understanding rather than focus on the rest of Bluejay's questions, and (c) because I didn't want to focus on evo vs creo, but on general human behavior.

Let me answer these questions here to start the ball rolling on this thread:

Does belief always come before understanding?

Yes. Evidence shows that the human mind makes a decision to believe or disbelieve a new concept, and then looks for reasons to justify that decision. (Sorry, I had a reference for this but I've lost it - anyone who can point to it, please do. I believe is was a psychology paper).

This ties in to my argument regarding worldview/s: that any concept that fits with the worldview is easily accepted, and any concept that is contrary to, or contradicts, the worldview is not accepted.

Concept fits: dig up worldview evidence for why it fits.
Concept doesn't fit: dig up worldview evidence for why it doesn't fit.

Should it?

No, but the fact is that it does, so we should learn to accept this and try to recognize when it occurs to avoid making decisions to believe or disbelieve that are not supported by empirical evidence, and are more likely the result of opinion and personal bias/es.

How large is the role of confirmation bias in our learning process?

Huge, as almost everyone on that thread acknowledges. However the companion behavior, cognitive dissonance, is also a major player, imho, where people (or their subconscious minds) actually fight against new information because it is contrary to, or contradicts, a worldview.

See CosmicChimp (not to pick on anyone, just a good example because he recognized what was going on) in Peanut Gallery, Message 191:

I sort of 'nod-off' often while reading YEC explanations so I know exactly what you are describing above.

In other words, by the time you reach the end of the argument, your mind has already rejected the beginning, and you are left with a vague "what did they say?" feeling. Even going back and rereading the section doesn't necessarily result in any increased understanding, the concept is too foreign to the worldview.

Personally, I believe this is most applicable when one has an "idée fixe that is being contested, even when one is not aware themselves of the fixation.

So when this happens with a poster, do you ask for more explanation, or do you blunder on, using your rapier wit to dispose of your perceived goblins, confident in the belief that if you don't understand it, that it must be wrong?

Honest Debate: how do you read?
So do you read for understanding (as best you can)?
Or do you read to find and pick out points to base a refutation on?

Failure to understand the position you are supposedly replying to inevitably means that you are talking about something else, and when you build later conclusions on these false understandings, all you are doing is erecting a house of cards based on straw men, in the end accomplishing nothing.

Bottom line, you cannot understand what a person means more than the person themselves. If they are confused, all you can do is show that you are confused by their post/s and ask for clarification. If they say you have missed the point in any way, you can be sure that you have.

An example here would be Bolder-dash and his thread Has natural selection really been tested and verified? where the whole thread was tied up by his complaining that he was not understood, and his inability at the time to explain what he meant in greater detail: an exercise in frustration for both sides of that debate.

Enjoy.

Glossary:

1. Worldview (Wikipedia, 2009)
A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is a term calqued from the German word Weltanschauung (De-Weltanschauung.ogg) Welt is the German word for "world", and Anschauung is the German word for "view" or "outlook." It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it.

A worldview describes a consistent (to a varying degree) and integral sense of existence and provides a framework for generating, sustaining, and applying knowledge.

A worldview can be considered as comprising a number of basic beliefs which are philosophically equivalent to the axioms of the worldview considered as a logical theory. These basic beliefs cannot, by definition, be proven (in the logical sense) within the worldview precisely because they are axioms, and are typically argued from rather than argued for[16]. However their coherence can be explored philosophically and logically, and if two different worldviews have sufficient common beliefs it may be possible to have a constructive dialogue between them[17]

2. Confirmation Bias (Wikipedia, 2009)
In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs. It is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference, or as a form of selection bias toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study or disconfirmation of an alternative hypothesis.

Confirmation bias is of interest in the teaching of critical thinking, as the skill is misused if rigorous critical scrutiny is applied only to evidence challenging a preconceived idea but not to evidence supporting it.[1]

3. Cognitive dissonance(Wikipedia, 2009)
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The "ideas" or "cognitions" in question may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.[1] Cognitive dissonance theory is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

A powerful cause of dissonance is when an idea conflicts with a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as "I am a good person" or "I made the right decision." This can lead to rationalization when a person is presented with evidence of a bad choice. It can also lead to confirmation bias, the denial of disconfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms.

4. i·dée fixe –n (American Heritage Dictionary, 2009)
A fixed idea; an obsession.

5. de·lu·sion -noun (American Heritage Dictionary 2009)

  1. ... a. The act or process of deluding.
    ... b. The state of being deluded.
  2. A false belief or opinion: labored under the delusion that success was at hand.
  3. Psychiatry A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness: delusions of persecution.


Confirmation Bias, Cognitive Dissonance and i·dée fixes, are not the tools of an open-mind or an honest skeptic, and continued belief in the face of contradictory evidence (should it exist) is de·lu·sion.

Edited by Admin, : Odd bug, reprocess dBCodes.

Edited by RAZD, : spling

Edited by RAZD, : correct cosmic chimp thread link

Edited by RAZD, : color for fun


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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Admin
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Message 2 of 49 (541448)
01-03-2010 5:18 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Honest Debate: how do you read? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19732
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 3 of 49 (541459)
01-03-2010 6:46 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Admin
01-03-2010 5:18 PM


Re: Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thanks, I was going to suggest a different forum from bluejay's thread, and this will do nicely.

Note I also do not want this to devolve into an atheist vs deist debate, and I will try to keep above that.

The topic simply stated is

Honest Debate: how do you read?
Do you read for understanding (as best you can)?
Or do you read to find and pick out points to base a refutation on?

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 742 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 4 of 49 (541462)
01-03-2010 7:00 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
01-03-2010 4:28 PM


For the Record
Hi, RAZD.

For the record, I think you've framed the ideas I wanted to get at in a much better way than I did. My thread isn't going anywhere, anyway, so I wouldn't have minded if you had continued there.

Still, I think this is a better start to the discussion than what I offered, so my recommendation would be to continue the discussion here.

-----

Incidentally, you and I don't often end up on the same side of debates here. I somehow manage to take exception to virtually everything you say, but appearances suggest that this might be an exception.

I've always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the evolutionist of the debate (including, perhaps most of all, myself) is not run by as much logic and evidence as we think, but is in fact run by as much confirmation bias and bandwagonism as the other.

I certainly don't feel like "my side" of the debate is being particularly open-minded. We, in fact, sometimes act rather conspiratorial in our blatant disregard for the errors made by members of "our own side." Mr Jack comes to mind as one of the few from either side who consistently points out errors made by his own side of the debate.

-----

As yet another wave of "kinds" threads washes past us, I am once again left with the feeling that nothing of value has been communicated, that no evolutionist on the board really understands what a creationist "kind" is, and that I am a particularly horrible person for getting sucked into it all again.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 5 of 49 (541465)
01-03-2010 7:08 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by RAZD
01-03-2010 6:46 PM


On reading
Honest Debate: how do you read?
Do you read for understanding (as best you can)?
Or do you read to find and pick out points to base a refutation on?

When I read new material I read for understanding.

When I do research I look for bits and pieces of evidence, generally in books or articles I have already read or at least scanned. (Yes, I have a very large research library.) But if the evidence doesn't support my idea, that idea must be dropped, or at least put aside until evidence which does support it can be found.

And, as Heinlein noted:

Belief gets in the way of learning.

Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love, 1973


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 742 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 6 of 49 (541466)
01-03-2010 7:10 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by RAZD
01-03-2010 6:46 PM


Re: Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Hi, RAZD.

RAZD writes:

Honest Debate: how do you read?
Do you read for understanding (as best you can)?
Or do you read to find and pick out points to base a refutation on?

Obviously, I read to frame a refutation.

I am a deliberate enough poster that I end up trying hard to understand the post I'm rebutting in the process of rebuttal, but I still don't ever get far enough to achieve an actual understanding of the entire point made, and, my post rate is low enough that I quickly get swamped out by more dominating personalities who attract more attention from the likes of Peg or ICANT.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19732
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 7 of 49 (541472)
01-03-2010 7:38 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Blue Jay
01-03-2010 7:00 PM


Re: For the Record
Thanks Blujay,

Mr Jack comes to mind as one of the few from either side who consistently points out errors made by his own side of the debate.

Yes, and I'm happy to acknowledge that he has corrected me a couple of times.

Incidentally, you and I don't often end up on the same side of debates here. I somehow manage to take exception to virtually everything you say, but appearances suggest that this might be an exception.

And yet there are frequent occurrences where I find your post sufficient so I don't need to make a reply.

Enjoy.


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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5607
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


Message 8 of 49 (541477)
01-03-2010 8:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
01-03-2010 4:28 PM


Creationists are often extremely bad with confirmation bias because they need anything to reaffirm such a weak theory. And the only reason they defend it tooth and nail is because it is directly linked to their religion. Their religion serves as such a massive piece of their overall worldview that it is nearly impossible to extricate them out of irrational belief without causing tremendous cognitive dissonance in the process.

What's worse, evolutionists are made out to be Satan's little helpers, albeit through trickery. That creationists are confronted with physical evidence and empirical data often only serves to confirm for them what their pastors and their apologetic websites informed them -- that it can't be trusted and don't be enticed by it.

But this shouldn't only point the finger at creationists in all fairness. It is human nature to hold a bias to some degree. The idea is to look at all things objectively and not dismiss inconvenient evidences but to detatch oneself until a fair and final verdict can be made.


"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." --John Adams
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RAZD
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Posts: 19732
From: the other end of the sidewalk
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Message 9 of 49 (541615)
01-04-2010 6:30 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Coyote
01-03-2010 7:08 PM


Re: On reading
Hi Coyote,

When I read new material I read for understanding.

When I do research I look for bits and pieces of evidence, generally in books or articles I have already read or at least scanned. ...

I believe most people do this for things they want to learn, so reading for comprehension is part of the mix. Of course in school where reading is assigned this can be a problem for people not interested in learning (a concept I have difficulty with).

I'm thinking mostly in terms of the posts in forums like this,and whether you read them for understanding or just to pick out items that you can refute.

But if the evidence doesn't support my idea, that idea must be dropped, or at least put aside until evidence which does support it can be found.

Yes, I've had to give up some ideas I've had in the course of some of my researched replies.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 10 of 49 (541619)
01-04-2010 6:38 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by RAZD
01-04-2010 6:30 PM


Re: On reading
Ah, if it is posts here you are talking about reading...

I tend not to read the extremely long ones at all. If there are twenty or so quotes and responses I just pass right on by. That is way too long for this format.

I might pick a single point, or maybe two, to discuss, but that's about all.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19732
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 11 of 49 (541624)
01-04-2010 6:53 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Hyroglyphx
01-03-2010 8:39 PM


Hi Hyroglyphx of the ever evolving icon, thanks.

Creationists are often extremely bad with confirmation bias because they need anything to reaffirm such a weak theory.

I'd rather say that uneducated people are often bad with confirmation bias, because they have been taught by ads and society to accept such things as valid and they have not been taught reasons to be skeptical.

I'd rather say that gullible people are often bad with confirmation bias, because they willingly accept such "evidence" from others.

Just look at politics and the things politicians get away with.

But this doesn't include all the cases of confirmation bias.

And the only reason they defend it tooth and nail is because it is directly linked to their religion.

This is their idee fixe and it can lead to delusion when the specific idea is contradicted by empirical objective evidence - such as the age of the earth.

And once again, I don't find this the exclusive arena of creationists or fundamentalists, etc, but to anyone with a fixed idea.

I think we will see very fundamentalist type behavior from our new member OLEGDEI, and it will be interesting to try to understand his rather extreme view/s. He gets off the sort bus (24 hr suspension for bad behavior) in 30 minutes.

That creationists are confronted with physical evidence and empirical data often only serves to confirm for them what their pastors and their apologetic websites informed them -- that it can't be trusted and don't be enticed by it.

Yes, any website that only provides a part of the tested information involved, or only selects supporting evidence, cannot be considered reliable.

But this shouldn't only point the finger at creationists in all fairness. It is human nature to hold a bias to some degree.

Agreed, except that again I would point to education and gullibility. We see a clear trend with higher education in avoiding poor thinking habits.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.5


Message 12 of 49 (541625)
01-04-2010 6:57 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by RAZD
01-04-2010 6:53 PM


Religiosity?
Agreed, except that again I would point to education and gullibility. We see a clear trend with higher education in avoiding poor thinking habits.

Are you thinking here in terms of religiosity? Or more generally?

If more generally what did you have in mind?


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 Message 11 by RAZD, posted 01-04-2010 6:53 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19732
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 13 of 49 (541626)
01-04-2010 7:03 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Coyote
01-04-2010 6:38 PM


Re: On reading
Thanks, Coyote,

I tend not to read the extremely long ones at all.

Ah yes, one of my back monkeys... Sometimes it seems (to me) unavoidable. However, I also see no reason to cater to a short attention span, and would rather have a well thought out reply covering a post than a series of "pot-shots" and only some of the points without any relation between them.

If someone is taking one specific point and replying to that while ignoring how it fits into the overall argument, then it seems to me that they are not reading to understand, but are picking out "gotcha" points to reply to.

I might pick a single point, or maybe two, to discuss, but that's about all.

If the context of the single point within the whole argument is maintained, and the rest of the argument is inconsequential, then this can be done to enhance understanding - say you have one sticking point in the other argument and want it clarified.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 14 of 49 (541628)
01-04-2010 7:15 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by RAZD
01-04-2010 7:03 PM


Re: On reading
If someone is taking one specific point and replying to that while ignoring how it fits into the overall argument, then it seems to me that they are not reading to understand, but are picking out "gotcha" points to reply to.

Working with the key points in an overall argument is fine, but far too many of these posts attempt to respond to all arguments, consequential or not. Often at some length. The responses to those posts can be even worse.

This is not the best format for such a debate style.

I prefer to stick to the main points and ignore the side trails where possible.

This may seem like selecting "gotcha" points but it is actually being more selective and focused.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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jasonlang
Member (Idle past 1447 days)
Posts: 51
From: Australia
Joined: 07-14-2005


Message 15 of 49 (541631)
01-04-2010 7:50 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
01-03-2010 4:28 PM


I thought I'd just mention incidents i've encountered in a recent thread to highlight a couple points not covered in the list which make the listed issues seem pretty minor. Both were initiated by the same poster.

- Ad Hominem attacks (another poster was described as a form of (Message 82)feces-inhabiting vermin for pointing out the invalidity of yet another ad-hominem attack)

- Claiming to have linkable specific evidence but giving the run-around when asked to actually cite the source (not sure if there's a specific name for this other than talking-out-yer-ass). When I found a source (no help from the poster), it pretty much contradicted the nature of the claim being made.

Edited by jasonlang, : No reason given.


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