Theory of Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins

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Theory of Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Philosophy and God » The Worldview of Naturalism (& Atheism): Matter Only

The Worldview of Naturalism (& Atheism): Matter Only

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Historical Background

In the year 1610, the French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) wanted to find a good starting point to argue for the existence of the human spirit and, therefore, also of God and his power over material things. Descartes figured that the reality of everything he sensed, could be doubted, except the fact that he was doubting. His conclusion, "I think, therefore I am," was basically a religious affirmation. This demonstrated the existence of the human spirit, and from there he went on to affirm God's existence. From Descartes perspective, spiritual things are in essence separate from matter, and matter is completely "passive", with no rationality or creative powers, which are fundamentally attributes of God. Years later in the Enlightenment period, ironically, people forgot the main point of Descartes' philosophy, but instead emphasized that human reasoning had become the foundation of knowing, and that the universe was a vast and impersonal mechanism of matter operating by fixed laws, without the possibility of miracles.

Similarly, the great physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was a Christian who felt that nature and universe was a finely tuned "contrivance" or mechanism which operated passively according to mathematically precise laws and principles established by God, however, he also felt that there were supramechanical or "active" principles constantly operative in nature, which were produced by the intentional activity of spirits ---especially God. Newton felt that some of those active principles included magnetism and gravity, which seemed to be God acting on matter at a distance without physical contact between the masses. So, gravity served Newton as an argument for the governing work of God in the universe, and the presence of orderly structure in nature and the solar system were evidence of intelligent design. But again, as with Descartes, the main goal of Newton's apologetic was forgotten by most people, and eventually matter was thought of as having all the forces inherent in itself, existing independent of God. Ironically, a mechanistic, materialistic philosophy such as Newton had actually tried to refute, had come to be known as the "Newtonian" world view. This world view gave objective, real existence only to mass, weight and the three dimensions, but not to mind or spirit. The popularization of this "Newtonian" world view was accomplished, not by scientists, but by literary writers and philosophers such as Fontanelle and Voltaire.

The ideas of Descartes and Newton, distorted by people in time, became the core of a new philosophy of the "Enlightenment" period, which said that the power of human "Reason" was the foundation of all knowledge. In addition, all human sensations and thoughts were a mechanistic result of the atoms in the brain. --- J.O. de La Mettrie asserted, "Let us conclude boldly then, that man is a machine," and further, that "the existence of a supreme being a theoretic truth with little practical value." With the growth Enlightenment philosophy, naturalism emerged.

The Basic Propositions of Naturalism - (see the six worldview questions on our Home Page)

1. The Prime Reality: Matter/Energy is all there is for eternity, and no supernatural God really exists.
To the naturalist, reality does not include any "spirit" beings or supernatural God "above nature", ...but the basic reality is only the material cosmos (possibly in the form of energy) with all its forces, functioning according to unalterable "laws" of physics and chemistry. Naturalism is actually Atheism.

2. The universe is a closed system which functions only by cause and effect.
Seeing the universe a "closed" system, means that it is never changed or acted upon by anything from the "outside". So, to the naturalist, there is no such thing as a transcendent being, or "God", above or outside the cosmos ----there is no "supernatural"---- nor does man transcend the material/energy universe in any way, but he exists totally within the realm and reality of that universe of matter.

3. Man is a "machine", whose personality and thinking are only a result of matter's properties.
Man does not "transcend" the material cosmos by possessing a "spirit"; rather, all that man is, comes from the properties and forces of matter, evidently organized by the processes of natural evolution. Man is basically a highly evolved animal.

4. Human death is merely the ceasing of biological life, including the extinction of personality.
In this view, no human spirit, personality or mind continues beyond the death of the body. At death, human existence ends totally, except perhaps figuratively in the memory of others, and in genes passed down to offspring.

5. Ethics and morality ---any sense of right and wrong--- are only inventions of man's thinking.
All values are self-determined by man, and only exist in the mind of man. There is no natural moral law, and no absolute standard of right and wrong. Instead, as the Humanist Manifesto II states: "Ethics isautonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest." Perhaps human survival defines what is "good".

6. History is an unrepeated line of events related by cause and effect, without a real purpose.
Exactly how or if the universe came to be, is unknown, ...and it will apparently go on forever. There is no overall purpose or meaning to the course of history, and no goal to which it is heading. History and human events only have whatever meaning humans may give to them.

Evaluation of Naturalism

It's Success:
Many people feel that naturalism seems to be very rational and objective, not gullibly assuming any god or spirit beings to explain the unknown, and not assuming there is any life after death. Many think that naturalism is quite logical, in view of solid, empirical facts.

It's Failure:
Although many people are content with the worldview of Naturalism, many others have concluded that it is self-contradictory and inconsistent, it does not fit many facts of science and human experience, and it is not lived out by those who hold it. In several ways it fails the (Truth-Tests.) we've outlined.

The first proposition we've listed for naturalism states that "Matter/Energy is all there is for eternity,..." and if this is true, then the totality of man is only matter. If there is some degree of consciousness and thought in the brain of man, that thinking is still only a result of matter's properties. Why would these "thoughts" produced by matter (the chemical brain of man) correspond to the truth of reality? Matter has no known interest in truth. Why should chemicals be able to distinguish illusion from reality, since there is no rational and purposive cause for the existence of man or his mind,? ...Of course, naturalists may appeal to scientific inquiry and the laws of logical thought. But this begs the question, because it is the chemical brain which is "thinking" and using the scientific method and the laws of thought ...all of which might still be an illusion, and not reality. C.S.Lewis quotes Prof. Haldane as saying, "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true . . . and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms" ("Miracles", p.18). This may be like the motion of atoms to create "thoughts" in a computer ...what is to determine whether those computer "thoughts" are true or not? If naturalism is right, and matter is all there is, then even our "thoughts" about thinking and the brain and everything else may be nothing but illusion.

Epistemology is the study of the basis and validity of knowledge, ---and it is because of its inability to know anything for sure, that the worldview of naturalism is self-contradictory, and fails the first truth test. Naturalism logically creates an epistemological vacuum, in which man can never know anything for sure. Informed and consistent naturalism results in epistemological nihilism.

The philosophical naturalist (who is consistent) cannot know anything for sure, and yet the first proposition of naturalism makes statements as if they know that "matter is all there is" and that "no supernatural God exists". So, even though the philosophical naturalist does not know that his thinking bears any relationship to reality, still he often audaciously declares that he knows so much that he can categorically rule out the existence of something spiritual. The inconsistency and illogic in such assertions are obvious.

The second "Truth-Test" we've established for Worldviews, states that "an adequate worldview must fit virtually all the relevant facts and data of reality and human experience." In this regard, naturalism also has major problems. For example, there is excellent evidence for "intelligent design" in living things, which is skillfully brought out by Dr. Michael Behe of Lehigh University, in his book "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution." This evidence of intelligent design in nature, indicates beyond a reasonable doubt that there is some sort of super-human intelligence which has engineered at least some sophisticated molecular machines on the cellular level, such as cilia, flagella, DNA, many proteins, etc. The evidence shows that the material universe is actually not a "closed" system unto itself, but rather, it has been acted on from the outside. Naturalism has no good answer for these things, because Darwinist evolution has totally failed to explain how such molecular mechanisms could have developed gradually by any naturalistic evolutionary mechanisms. Even worse, is the naturalistic attempts to explain the origin of the first form of life, as Behe says, "a choking complexity strangles all such attempts" (p.177). In this regard, naturalism is a dismal failure.

In addition, naturalism has no adequate explanation for the fact of a large number of fulfilled prophetic predictions in the Bible, which clearly indicate the "knowledge" and "management" of the course of history by a super-intelligence. Also, there is the life of Jesus Christ, along with all the claims that he made, as well as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which was seen by more than 500 people who lived to verify it for 40 years, and it was reported in writing by more than six individuals who recorded the history independently of each other.

With regard to the third "Truth-Test" concerning the "livability" of a worldview, if the universe is a "closed" system, being only governed from within, then every event and everything else is caused as a necessary result and effect of what came before. Though we may be incapable of predicting what will happen in the future, the future is absolutely certain, and totally determined by the present state of matter in the universe. Man may "think" he is an agent of free choice, but any notion of free agency is actually a self-deception. There cannot actually be any meaningful sort of "free will" in the worldview of naturalism. As a result, there is no logic to thinking that man could possibly be responisble for his actions. Man is basically a highly evolved "bacteria," in essence, and it is nonsense to say that a bacteria "ought" to do one thing as opposed to something else. But people don't live their lives this way, since everyone, including naturalists, has expectations of how people ought to live and treat one another. In addition, man in naturalism also could not do or be anything which is significant, valuable or meaningful. What is there to convey that significance or value? If no spiritual part of man survives his physical body, he will not care or be aware of anything done in life, whether "good" or "bad", which are meaningless terms in the naturalist worldview. But this is not how people, including naturalists, live their lives. They reveal that naturalism fails the third "Truth-Test".

What is the final outcome then? If a person is consistently a naturalist, he proceeds into nihilism. Nihilism says that no one can know anything for sure, so no statement can be valid ...and nothing has any value, meaning or significance, good or bad. Regarding this, Dr. James W. Sire writes, "One of the awfulest consequences of taking epistemological nihilism seriously is that it has led some to question the very facticity of the universe. To some, nothing is real, not even themselves. When a person reaches this state, he is in deep trouble, for he can no longer function as a human being. Or, as we often say, he can't cope. ---We usually do not recognize this situation as metaphysical or epistemological nihilism. Rather, we call it schizophrenia, hallucination, fantasizing, daydreaming or living in a dream world. And we "treat" the person as a "case," the problem as a "disease." (Ref. "The Universe Next Door", J. Sire, Inter-Varsity, Downers Grove, p.87). So, some people who take their naturalism absolutely seriously and to its logical conclusion, have proceeded into mental and emotional breakdown.

Although most people with the worldview of naturalism do not take it to its logical end, obviously, they still prefer to remain in that failed philosophical system because they are uncomfortable with another alternative ...especially the option of considering God. However, it is the hope of this web page to challenge people to reconsider.

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Is true science Methodological Naturalism?

The following is a typical comment one hears from materialists when defining science:

If we think they originated as s supernatural event, outside the purview of science, then we cannot study the phenomenon. However, if we think they originated as the result of natural events,: chemistry, physics, and contingency, then we can study the matter and learn things in the process, even if we are wrong in our basic assumption.

This is bad reasoning based on either ignorance, mere incredulity or both.  It also precludes all  phenomena deemed as supra-natural from the “purview of science” a priori.
The 1st phrase implies that Newton, Pascal, Maxwell, and several 100s of other historically acclaimed scientists, that founded so-called “modern” science, could not have founded modern science! This is of course pure prejudice at work.
They were nevertheless virtually ALL staunch creationists who clearly believed the “originated as a supernatural event” view of life and the universe.
Bishop Robert Grosseteste, a reform-minded cleric of the 13th century, is the first man known to have explicitly spelled out the scientific method. His methodology was made world-famous by his pupil, the friar Roger Bacon. Both predicted that application of their methods would result in the systematic acquisition of knowledge–a result which followed.  Bacon especially enumerated the results, which included submarines and flying machines.
So the greatest scientists in past history, all creationists of some sort, did not believe the materialist definition of science!
How then can the atheists claim, as they ubiquitously do, that creationism or even mere intelligent design (which leaves the question of God and holy books out of the issues) will lead to the ruin of science when in fact all the great scientists that led us to where we are today were themselves creationists?! Utterly ridiculous.
I smell a rotten egg in the materialist mindset.
All across the world today we see fanatical Darwinian fundamentalist running around screaming that creationism would kill “real” science. Yet they never stop to explain how that would be possible given that the majority of historical scientists, including the inventors of the scientific method, were all creationists. Worse, the populations subjected to such fanaticism seem to be too dull to see through such an inane and perfectly illogical claim!
Therefore, how utterly ridiculous is any statement that implies they were in fact unscientific! Yet atheists do this all the time and the worst is that they often succeed in convincing others through the use of sophistry and a slight-of-hand conflating and equivocating of terms and definitions, as they do, to confuse those who do not want to think for themselves.
This is just another distortion promulgated in the new atheist propaganda, ubiquitous in the halls of academia these days and now forced as an a  priori qualification of all science!! So who gave them the right to define science anyway? No one.
The truth is that the origin of any phenomenon can be conceived of and therefore examined in some way -no matter what the perceived nature of that origin.
To say it cannot be is simply to claim that we do not have the right tools -yet, or worse, that we’re already assuming no such tools will ever exist.
Thus the materialist view assumes both too much and too little:
Too much of whatever “super-nature” really means.
Too little of how such could eventually be studied.
It lacks both imagination and realism, not to mention humility.
“Outside the purview of science”?
By this the atheist means outside of Methodological Naturalism. That much is clear, yet that much is also mere bias based on metaphysical assumptions about the universe and not on any factual necessity and that, to continue, is mere religion.
One can only laugh or cry that “science” has been defined in such a way as to deliberately interdict anything we don’t really understand yet! But that in itself is anti-science!
What is the purview of science, really?
Within this context let’s test the matter with the following question:
Suppose life really was designed by a or many intelligent being(s)?
Q: Could you, under your definition of  science, detect this?
A: If it cannot (as you claim) then it is lame, inefficient, insufficient and can never lead to the facts!
If “life, the  universe and everything” really was planned, designed and created, and your definition of science prohibits all but matter and energy then your science can never discover the truth that it was in fact designed!
In such a case your science is indefensibly and indeed irrationally exclusionary.
If your idea of science thus, a priori, excludes all possibility of any extra-, hyper- or supra- “natural” (as we understand natural) existences, then you’re applying a irrational limitation to your ability to understand origins – i.e. you’ve already shot yourself in the head and can never discover the fact.
In most cases materialists, that use this biased and indeed twisted version of science,  think they’ve shot their opponents in the head. In fact, they’ve merely debilitated their own prejudiced view of  science irrationally.  In not limiting the abilities of research to nothing but matter and energy, the true scientist, open to teleology,  has also left all possibilities open to discovery rather than forcing all discovery into a small box of materialist metaphysical dogma. The latter which purely religious and not scientific at all.
This methodological naturalism is a crippled  and prejudiced view of the “purview of science” as all the founders of modern science and indeed the scientific method (1st elaborated by creationists)
Here I cite Thaxton on the scientific method:

Method of Abductive Inference
Reasoning from experience and linking cause to effect developed over several centuries and became a recognized scientific method of causal inference. It has been a part of science since the Scientific Revolution, which culminated in the great synthesis of Isaac Newton in the seventeenth century. Over the course of the development of modern experimental science, Western culture learned to rely on sensory experience to gain knowledge about natural phenomena. By following experience scientists learned to infer causes from effects, i.e., to work backward from the character of the effects to the cause.
A cause is that necessary and sufficient condition that alone can give rise to the occurrence of a given event. And it does not matter if the cause is natural or intelligent. In the words of David Hume, who gave a formal analysis of this approach, “From causes which appear similar we expect similar effects.” (Emphasis his.) Later in the same book he added, “the same rule holds, whether the cause assigned be brute unconscious matter, or a rational intelligent being.”
The inferential methods we usually learn in school are deductive, i.e., inference from the general to the particular, and inductive, i.e., inference from the particular to the general. There has always been a third method of inference, though not clearly described and formally analyzed until the 1870s, this being abductive, i.e., inference from experience. The method of abductive inference is particularly important in the historical sciences, reasoning backward from phenomena to the cause.

This description of the scientific method is just and open and using such will allow scientists to discover and reason without the straitjacket restraints with which the materialist masters would enslave all scientific research.
It is in fact the abductive method that allows science to discover intelligent causes in any domain and not merely the domains of forensics.
I conclude with a quote from Werner Von Braun,

“While the admission of a design for the universe ultimately raises the question of a Designer (a subject outside of science), the scientific method does not allow us to exclude data which lead to the conclusion that the universe, life and man are based on design. To be forced to believe only one conclusion–that everything in the universe happened by chance –would violate the very objectivity of science itself.”
“The inconceivability of some ultimate issue (which will always lie outside scientific resolution) should not be allowed to rule out any theory that explains the interrelationship of observed data and is useful for prediction.” “It is in that same sense of scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom.” -Werner Von Braun, Ph.D., the father of the NASA space Program, in an open letter to the California State Board of Education on September 14, 1972.

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3 Are Scientists Biased by Their Worldviews? on Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:24 am


Are Scientists Biased by Their Worldviews?

Just what is a worldview? A worldview, or world-and-life view, is often defined as a belief system that a person uses to answer the big questions of life. These questions include the origin of the universe and of humanity, the purpose of human existence, the existence of God, and how one should relate to God. In this context, atheism is not the absence of religion. Rather it is a belief system that answers these questions differently than a God-centered belief system.

We’ve seen repeatedly that scientists with very different worldviews can work together comfortably on a professional level. They collaborate on experiments, share theories, listen to each other, and reach agreement on scientific results. How can scientists who have such fundamentally different worldviews so often come to the same scientific conclusion?

Some people have suggested that science, by its very nature, is independent of worldview. Good scientists, they say, are simply objective; when they enter the lab, they set aside all prejudice and beliefs. But the history of science shows that worldview beliefs frequently do influence scientific choices. Besides, the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth is, in itself, a worldview belief.

Worldview Beliefs Necessary for Science

All scientists, regardless of their particular worldview, hold certain philosophical beliefs foundational for doing science. Some of these are listed in the left-hand column on the chart below. These fundamental beliefs cannot be proved from science itself. The fact that science actually works lends support to these beliefs, but the beliefs themselves come from outside of science, perhaps from culture, or religion, or simply the scientist’s personal choice. Today these beliefs may seem obvious, but for most of human history, people did not hold to all of them. Animists, who believe that gods inhabit many aspects of the physical world, would have very different views of cause and effect and the regularity of nature. Plato and Aristotle developed logical and beautiful theories about the workings of the natural world, but they got some answers very wrong because they did not place enough priority on doing experimental tests. Even today, people who follow astrology or new age beliefs would disagree with some of the beliefs listed in the left-hand column.

Consider some Christian theological beliefs that come from biblical teachings about God and the world. We’ve listed several in the right-hand column on the chart. Notice how each Christian belief on the right naturally gives rise to the worldview belief on the left. For a Christian, biblical teachings about God and the natural world provide ample support and motivation for doing science and a basis for understanding why science is so successful. Christians doing science are not acting as if God doesn’t exist. Rather, they are acting on their belief that there is a God—not a capricious God, but the God of the Bible who made an orderly world and who still governs it in an orderly fashion.

This also helps us understand why Christians who are professional scientists usually come to the same scientific conclusions as scientists with other worldviews. Although scientists with other worldviews do not share with Christians the beliefs about God and the meaning of human life listed in the right-hand column of the chart, they do share the beliefs in the left-hand column. Sharing that common subset of beliefs with Christians means they can work together as professional scientists and reach consensus. This would not have surprised John Calvin, a theologian and church reformer from the 1500’s, who wrote, “All truth is from God, and consequently if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it, for it has come from God” (Calvin’s Commentaries on Titus 1:12).

Worldviews and Science Influence Each Other

Worldviews and science can also interact in less healthy ways. One unhealthy interaction happens when someone rejects a scientific conclusion without examining the data carefully because that conclusion seems to conflict with his or her worldview. Alternately, someone might believe a model not because scientific data actually support it but because it matches his or her worldview beliefs. For instance, some practitioners passionately believe that certain kinds of alternative medicine therapies are effective in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. They want the therapies to work because of their worldview beliefs, in some cases even claiming that their therapies are scientific when the scientific data are against them.

This is where the self-correcting features of the scientific process can help: scientists of differing worldviews challenge each other, forcing each side to make a stronger scientific case for its models and inspiring each other toward creative thinking. They invent new technologies and new experiments to support or disprove competing models until they reach a new consensus. The competing models and original arguments may have begun, at least in part, because of worldview beliefs, but eventually the experiments and observations push the scientific community toward a consensus shared by scientists of many different worldviews.

A number of Christians today accuse the scientific community of having an atheistic bias on issues of origins withoutfirst carefully examining the evidence that has led the scientific community to its conclusion. This is an invalid accusation for several reasons:

  • First, many scientists are not atheists. When the scientific community really does have a consensus, it represents the professional judgment of people with many different religious views, including many Christians.

  • Second, recall the idea that all truth is God’s truth. Regardless of the worldview beliefs of the person who discovered the scientific truth, if it is true that knowledge is a gift from God.

  • Third, we should not be quick to deny a scientific result simply because it disagrees with what we already believe. An apparent conflict should certainly prompt us to demand a solid explanation of the scientific evidence. But a quick rejection does not give sufficient respect to God’s revelation in nature since it denies that new truths may be learned from it.

Another unhealthy interaction occurs when science is misused to argue for a particular worldview. For example, atheists—both scientists and nonscientists—have a long history of loudly claiming that the results of science prove that atheism is true. When atheists make such claims in their writing and speaking, they are seldom careful to differentiate where the science ends and their worldview claims begin. They tend to thoroughly mix scientific results with their worldview claims so that it is difficult for a non-scientist to tell the difference. This type of writing and speaking has caused the entire scientific community to acquire an atheistic reputation, even though only a few scientists mix atheism with science in this way.

The Haarsmas delve deeper into the intersection between science and worldviews throughout Chapter 2 of Origins. Next week, we’ll look at an excerpt that compares different Christian interpretations of Genesis 1.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources), 2011. Reprinted with permission. To order a copy of this resource please call1-800-333-8300 or visit our website

Want a free copy of Origins?  For a limited time, donations of $50 or more will receive a  copy of the book! Plus, from now through April, your gift will be doubled thanks to a matching grant from a generous donor. You can learn more here.

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The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.

Check any wish list, and you will find people rarely seek books which challenge their notions of how things are or should be. During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Valdis Krebs at analyzed purchasing trends on Amazon. People who already supported Obama were the same people buying books which painted him in a positive light. People who already disliked Obama were the ones buying books painting him in a negative light. Just like with pundits, people weren’t buying books for the information, they were buying them for the confirmation.
Krebs has researched purchasing trends on Amazon and the clustering habits of people on social networks for years, and his research shows what psychological research into confirmation bias predicts: you want to be right about how you see the world, so you seek out information which confirms your beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.
Half-a-century of research has placed confirmation bias among the most dependable of mental stumbling blocks. Journalists looking to tell a certain story must avoid the tendency to ignore evidence to the contrary; scientists looking to prove a hypothesis must avoid designing experiments with little wiggle room for alternate outcomes. Without confirmation bias, conspiracy theories would fall apart. Did we really put a man on the moon? If you are looking for proof we didn’t, you can find it.

“If one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirmation bias would have to be among the candidates for consideration. Many have written about this bias, and it appears to be sufficiently strong and pervasive that one is led to wonder whether the bias, by itself, might account for a significant fraction of the disputes, altercations, and misunderstandings that occur among individuals, groups, and nations.”
– Raymond S. Nickerson

In a 1979 University of Minnesota study by Mark Snyder and Nancy Cantor, people read about a week in the life of an imaginary woman named Jane. Throughout the week, Jane did things which showcased she could be extroverted in some situations and introverted in others. After a few days the subjects were asked to return, and the researchers divided the people into two groups. The scientists asked people in each group to help decide if Jane would be suited for a particular job. One group was asked if she would be a good librarian; the other group was asked if she would be a good real-estate agent. People then searched their memories for examples that might suggest she was right for that position. In the librarian group, people easily remembered all the moments that made her seem like an introvert, ignoring the moments she seemed more extroverted. They then said that she seemed perfect for that career. The real-estate group did the same thing, but upside down, searching the same kind of memories but for different information and coming to the opposite conclusion. After this, when the groups were asked if she would be good at the other profession, most people stuck with their original assessment, saying she wasn’t suited for the other job at all, that she was too introverted or too extroverted, depending on the original question. The study suggests even in your memories you fall prey to confirmation bias, recalling those things which support your beliefs, forgetting those things which debunk them.
An Ohio State study in 2009 showed people spend 36 percent more time reading an essay if that essay aligns with their opinions. Another study at Ohio State in 2009 showed subjects clips of the parody show “The Colbert Report,” and people who considered themselves politically conservative consistently reported “Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said.”

“Thanks to Google, we can instantly seek out support for the most bizarre idea imaginable. If our initial search fails to turn up the results we want, we don’t give it a second thought, rather we just try out a different query and search again.”
– Justin Owings

A popular method for teaching confirmation bias, first introduced by P.C. Wason in 1960, is to show the following numbers to a classroom: 2, 4, 6 
The teacher then asks the classroom to guess why those numbers are in that particular order and to guess the teacher’s secret rule for selecting them in that way. The teacher then shows the number 10, 12, 14, and asks again to imagine what rule might be in play. Then the teacher reveals 22, 24, 26. The students are then tasked with coming up with three numbers of their own using the rule they think is in play. The teacher will then say “yes” or “no” if the order matches the rule. When the student thinks they have it figured out, they say their numbers out loud. Students typically offer sets like 6, 8, 10 or 32, 34, 36. The teacher then says “yes” over and over again, and the majority of people believe that the instructor’s confirmation means they have figured out the rule, but they haven’t. The teacher then reveals that 3, 9, 555 also follows the rule or 1, 2, 3. To figure out the rule, students would have had to offer sets like 2, 2, 2 or 9, 8, 7 – these, the teacher would say, did not fit the rule. With enough guesses playing against what the students think the rule may be focused on disconfirmation instead of confirmation, students finally figure out what the original rule was: any three numbers in ascending order.
The exercise is intended to show how you tend to come up with a hypothesis and then work to prove it right instead of working to prove it wrong. Once satisfied, you stop searching. In psychology they actually call this the “makes sense stopping rule.” When you wonder why something happens or what the truth may be, you stop looking for answers once your presumptions are satisfied.
You seek out safe havens for your ideology, friends and coworkers of like mind and attitude, media outlets guaranteed to play nice. Whenever your opinions or beliefs are so intertwined with your self-image you couldn’t pull them away without damaging your core concepts of self, you avoid situations which may cause harm to those beliefs.

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
– Francis Bacon

Punditry is a whole industry built on confirmation bias. Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck and Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter – these people provide fuel for beliefs, they pre-filter the world to match existing world-views. If their filter is like your filter, you love them. If it isn’t, you hate them.
Whether or not pundits are telling the truth, or vetting their opinions, or thoroughly researching their topics is all beside the point. You watch them not for information, but for confirmation.

“Be careful. People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things…well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that. In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds…Not news but olds, telling people that what they think they already know is true.”
Terry Pratchett through the character Lord Vetinari from his novel, “The Truth: a novel of Discworld

Over time, by never seeking the antithetical, through accumulating subscriptions to magazines, stacks of books and hours of television, you can become so confident in your world-view no one could dissuade you.
Remember, there’s always someone out there willing to sell eyeballs to advertisers by offering a guaranteed audience of people looking for validation. Ask yourself if you are in that audience.
In science, you move closer to the truth by seeking evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the same method should inform your opinions as well.

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