Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pavlovian pseudo-skepticism

Most self-professing skeptics are merely biased against a particular point of view and don't truly believe in their ideology.

They have a tendency to pre-dismiss anything that they perceive as contrary to their point of view. Sometimes they reject every statement coming from an alternate school without listening to its argument. This may be, in part, due to the conditioning by association of falseness with a certain school, altogether. I call it Pavlovian pseudo-skepticism. An example would be a left-winger rejecting, without applying thought, a claim from a right-winger of antiquity of an archaeological site.

On other times, they may reject every statement that appears to contradict what they know already. This is due to an extreme case of narcissism without realising that their knowledge is bounded. One such instance was a recent refusal by my friend (who happens to be well-read) to accept that infinite sets can have different cardinalities. Even after I cited cantor's diagonal argument, he didn't agree, thinking either that I'm appealing to authority without comprehension or that he has limited the scope of Cantor's implication. It is alright not to have known or read about Cantor's argument or aleph number, but rejecting it right away was irritating.

I'm no exception to the above and more fallacies. But, I'm trying to correct myself after experiencing such instances.

Update: As the friend cited in the post has no way to defend his case, this post shall be deemed a one-sided account. However, the issues mentioned in the post are independent of any specific examples.


Blogger Anthroponym said...

If it hadn't been for the example I was damn sure you are talking about the bunch of clowns we have in Indian politics. They call themselves the Left parties.
Maybe they should call themselves 'Left way behind' parties.

March 09, 2006 6:33 PM  
Blogger Sundar said...

Not just the left, but this happens with anyone who's strong ideological preferences.

March 10, 2006 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and with those who are strong about not having "strong ideological preferences" too. They outperform the former :)

March 13, 2006 10:43 AM  
Blogger Sundar said...


But, some of them remain genuinely committed to ( or dogmatic about;) ) open-mindedness!

March 13, 2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger sri said...

i wish the day would soon dawn when we can just talk and debate: without any -ians, -isms, dogmas and catmas.. ;)

the problem with the -ians and -isms is that nobody even listens to the content to see whether they make sense. the moment someone speaks, people simply execute a pattern recognition algorithm to look for semantic patterns and classify the speaker into one of many boxes. in its worst form, there are only two boxes: the "good" box where i belong and the "bad" box where everybody else who don't agree with me belongs.

March 13, 2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger Sundar said...

Very true.

March 13, 2006 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Sanket said...

the problem with the -ians and -isms is that nobody even listens to the content to see whether they make sense...

And hence argumentation crisis. Period. ;)

(Sorry! Couldn't resist :D)

March 13, 2006 11:54 PM  
Blogger Sundar said...

@sanket: :-)

March 14, 2006 6:17 PM  

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