I apologise for what may seem like a clickbate topic and for the stream of consciousness format with which it comes. I failed to sleep last night for various reasons, some of which are medical, and some purely due to my stupidity at turning to YouTube in the whee hours of the morning when nothing else worked. When all else fails often I turn to debunk videos looking at things like flat earth theory and other topics like evolution crop up.
This is all relevant, but probably can’t just be a single post - so here is the conversation opener. One I will hopefully be allowed to flesh out in a separate comment but don’t think i can mentally bring together into something concise. This will eventually link in an odd way to Hilber’s recent book on relevance theory and Genesis
For a long time I have inhabited the world of flat earth theory listening primarily to some interesting and generally polite(ish) debunkers. One of the things that I have often felt watching these videos is some of the same frustration they have with the flat earth proponents when I am discussing young earth creationism with friends (I am not YEC). The same level of talking past each other occurs, with genuine changes of mind seemingly rate, although not unheard of. I identify some of the same attitudes towards scientific consensus and theory amongst the flat earthers as I do some of my YEC friends. That is all well and good. BUT, I also recognise some important biases on my side - one of which was best brought home to me by a wonderful book called the Enigma of Reason written by Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier (The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding: Amazon.co.uk: Sperber, Dan, Mercier, Hugo: 9780241957851: Books)
I read this book on its release as part of a longer interest in relevance theory and its relationship to NT Greek studies. My possibly incorrect recollection of their theory is essentially that cognition came about to help us not to correctly deduce truth, but instead it is a more social vehicle to help us to influence other people’s actions. Please do correct me on misrecollection/representation here, it has been some time and I don’t have the book with me.
So far so good - my cognition isn’t intended to be a purely rationalistic tool to deduce truth, it came about for more social purposes. Well, on to flat earth and that good stuff.
From my recollection, they discussed an inherent cognitive bias we all have to find faults in other people’s arguments more easily than our own.This was demonstrated with some fascinating studies that are worth people reading about. So.we have a bias to find flaws in other people’s arguments more easily than our own. That is well and good - both sides can shout that the other has such a bias, but to learn that it is something that is part of the way we process arguments as arguments was shaking to me. It isn’t that I have to admit now that I have biases, but I have to admit that I am more likely to find flaws in someone else’s argument than my own - that not just because my ideas are good ideas - but something in me pushes me that way.
It gets more disturbing for me though, looking at the way I read and listen to people and the way i critically evaluate their views when they agree with my own. I am cognitively biased to lower my epistemic-vigilence when reading / encountering my in group giving ideas. So, in simpler terms - I stop critically assessing those ideas at the same level as I critically assess those I disagree with.
Hopefully the general gist of where I am heading with this already overly long-winded post is clear, and why it may be relevant here. I will try to construct a follow on to illustrate where I think that things need a shift in the way we think of debate and discussion. I don’t refer to the participants on this group specifically, but it certainly applies to some extent to all of the posts.