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Old 09-01-2006, 02:45 AM
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equus's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: uk
Posts: 3,054
Skepticism.... a neurological need!

Well perhaps not need in terms of life and limb! But in terms of being able to make best use of all evidence available it surely is a need and there's a neurological reason why. By skepticism I mean not just for another's viewpoint but for our own.

Have you ever pondered how the brain physically reacts to beliefs? What the brain does while we weigh up evidence? Have you ever noticed the preference each person has for their own beliefs and the seemingly stubborn way in which we all have a tendency to 'only' find information to support what we already believe? Have you ever felt discomfort when faced with a piece of evidence that doesn't fit with a strong personal belief, maybe anger, maybe fear? The answer of yes to many of those question would make you human - but ever wondered why it is that way?

If these questions interest you then you would enjoy reading this:
RATS!!! Their server is down so I can't get the link - I will return with it!

The above when it arrives is an investigation into brain activity and confirmation bias (our tendency to attend to information which supports our own view). The results show a complex system of both attention and startling lack of it! The way it involves our emotional systems means we get a heavy reward for finding info to support what we already believe. Bias is inbuilt in us as humans.

The final conclusion of the article is that skepticism is the antidote for bias.

In order to keep growing up - something I aim to do, I recognise a need for a belief pattern that is reflexive and utilises all information relevant rather than all information supporting my current view.

This article demonstrates to me the need to accept myself as human, to know I carry in that bias, and to practice skepticism as a means to increasing what I attend to.

I WILL come back with the full article - in the mean time it was from last months's Scientific American entitled The Political Brain.
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