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Why We Want to Believe


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#1 Willow

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:54 AM

Supernatural science: Why we want to believe
Monsters are everywhere these days, and belief in them is as strong as ever





Monsters are everywhere these days, and belief in them is as strong as ever. What's harder to believe is why so many people buy into hazy evidence, shady schemes and downright false reports that perpetuate myths that often have just one ultimate truth: They put money in the pockets of their purveyors.

The bottom line, according to several interviews with people who study these things: People want to believe, and most simply can't help it.

"Many people quite simply just want to believe," said Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University. "The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations."

A related question: Does belief in the paranormal have anything to do with religious belief?

The answer to that question is decidedly nuanced, but studies point to an interesting conclusion: People who practice religion are typically encouraged not to believe in the paranormal, but rather to put their faith in one deity, whereas those who aren't particularly active in religion are more free to believe in Bigfoot or consult a psychic.

"Christians and New Agers, paranormalists, etc. all have one thing in common: a spiritual orientation to the world," said sociology Professor Carson Mencken of Baylor University.

A tale last week by three men who said they have remains of Bigfoot in a freezer was reported by many Web sites as anywhere from final proof of the creature to at least a very compelling case to keep the fantasy ball rolling and cash registers ringing for Bigfoot trinkets and tourism (all three men involved make money off the belief in this creature). Even mainstream media treated a Friday press conference about the "finding" as news.

Reactions by the public ranged from skeptical curiosity to blind faith.

"I believe they do exist but I'm not sure about this," said one reader reacting to a story on LiveScience that cast doubt the claim. "I guess we will find out ... if this is on the up and up," wrote another. "However, that said, I know they exist."

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#2 Kira

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 05:25 PM

I read this article the other day online and found it very interesting. What was most fascinating to me was how college students' beliefs in the supernatural increase as their education increases. Could that be because they are away from the influences of their parents and their religion? I know in college was when I began to discover who I really was without having to rely on what my parents expected of me all the time. There's a lot more interesting information regarding beliefs in the paranormal and religion. Great article, I'm glad you posted the link to it.
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#3 canuck

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:10 PM

Seems to me that this issue relates to the many discussions we have had on previous threads regarding belief, and its persistence despite contrary evidence.

I have previously made the observations that “science” has a large belief based component, and some belief based theories persevere in “science” despite evidence to the contrary.

The current belief in climate change induced by human generated carbon dioxide is a case in point.

It is significant that this is a belief that is perpetuated by a number of “scientists”, despite the fact that the science does not support this hypothesis. Those who dispute this belief are vilified.

So, on the one hand we have “scientists” that believe in the carbon dioxide theory; these same “scientists” dismiss the idea of the supernatural.

In both cases, the “scientists” dismiss the available evidence that contradicts their belief.

People will believe what they want to believe, regardless of the facts; this general characteristic of humanity seems to be true regardless of the education or background of the individual involved.

#4 MoonChild

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 12:20 PM

In both cases, the “scientists” dismiss the available evidence that contradicts their belief.

What an irony, isn't it? As I mentioned atleast on two different occasions, I still say, a believer collects information that supports their view, and a cynic collects information that will support their. There is no common point here.
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