The essence of reasoning is a search for truth. Yet truth isn’t always as simple as we’d like to believe it is.
For as far back as we can imagine, philosophers have debated whether absolute truth exists. Although we’re still waiting for an answer, this doesn’t have to stop us from improving how we think by understanding a little more.
In general, we can consider something to be true if the available evidence seems to verify it. The more evidence we have, the stronger our conclusion can be.
My claim is that religion can provide direct access to this emotional life in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder at the majesty of nature, but there are many forms of human suffering that are beyond the reach of any scientific alleviation. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike previous secular tributes to religion that praise its ethical and civilizing function, I think we need religion because it is a road-tested form of emotional management.
Often, the conversation around gun violence becomes a conversation around political identities and ideologies rather than one about truth and how we arrive at it. This website is interesting in that it focuses on what we know through science. It uses appropriate, often cautious, language to come to its conclusions. The site is worth exploring. The table below summarizes the meta analysis of existing research done by the Rand Corporation. Click through the image to find the appropriate page. You can click in the table to see what research and evidence there is to support conclusions about efficacy.
Here is a link to the main page. Worth exploring for those curious about gun policy but also as an interesting case study on the use of the scientific method to help us understand and evaluate a problem in society.
“How easy is it to change people’s votes in an election?
“The answer, a growing number of studies conclude, is that most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.”
“But it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. Our brain sees the world not by processing every pixel in a scene but by focusing on the unexpected.”
“Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive, wants to improve the national political debate with a treasure trove of facts about government. The post-truth age might not be so receptive.
“It’s an honorable idea. But facts alone are feeble things. Given more information, most people don’t change their minds, even when the new data seems to support the opposite argument. They convince themselves that the information is misleading (“alternative”) or simply wrong (“fake). They tune out stuff that’s uncomfortable to hear and tune in to cable news programs like reliably tell them that their intuition about the world is even more right than they knew. When most apocalyptic cults face irrefutable proof that they miscalculated the end of days, they don’t call it quits and return to their normal pre-doomsday lives.”
Why are people so reluctant to change their minds? This well-researched and well-presented cartoon delves into that very important question. It also helps elucidate the relationship between emotion and reason when our belief system is challenged.
“Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behaviour, and sense of self.”
“Some of the most notable differences revolved around the concepts of “individualism” and “collectivism”; whether you consider yourself to be independent and self-contained, or entwined and interconnected with the other people around you, valuing the group over the individual. Generally speaking – there are many exceptions – people in the West tend to be more individualist, and people from Asian countries like India, Japan or China tend to be more collectivist.”
“This doubling down in the face of conflicting evidence is a way of reducing the discomfort of dissonance, and is part of a set of behaviors known in the psychology literature as “motivated reasoning.” Motivated reasoning is how people convince themselves or remain convinced of what they want to believe—they seek out agreeable information and learn it more easily; and they avoid, ignore, devalue, forget, or argue against information that contradicts their beliefs.”
“There is no scientific evidence that we are hardwired with emotions, says Lisa Feldman Barrett. They develop as we grow.”
“Emotions are thought to be a kind of brute reflex, very often at odds with our rationality. This internal battle between emotion and reason is one of the great narratives of western civilisation. It helps define you as human. Without rationality, you are merely an emotional beast. This view of emotions has been around for millennia. Plato believed a version of it. So did Hippocrates, Aristotle, the Buddha, René Descartes, Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. Today, prominent thinkers such as Steven Pinker, Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama also offer up descriptions of emotions rooted in the classical view.
“And yet there is abundant scientific evidence that this view cannot possibly be true. Research has not revealed a consistent, physical fingerprint for even a single emotion. When scientists attach electrodes to a person’s face and measure muscle movement during an emotion, they find tremendous variety, not uniformity. They find the same variety with the body and brain. You can experience anger with or without a spike in blood pressure. You can experience fear with or without a change in the amygdala, the brain region tagged as the home of fear.”