Poorly supported beliefs that lead to actions which adversely affect us all are a serious concern for everyone.
Too often bad beliefs are used to ethically justify subduing or eliminating some basic human rights.
This is especially frustrating for skeptics who state that they will re-evaluate their beliefs when presented with sufficient evidence.
And while secular and skeptical people are also susceptible to poorly reasoned beliefs it is also true that, “We eat our own! Unfortunately this method of correcting bad beliefs is useful only in skeptical and scientific communities.
The first of these is Peter Boghossian, and his book, “A Manual for Creating Atheists“. Boghossian is the Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University who does research in critical thinking, philosophy of education and moral reasoning.
For example, when given the problems with the Cosmological Argument, a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu will too often instead believe that this is an even better argument for Yahweh, Allah, or Vishnu.
This “doubling down” is known as the “Backfire Effect,” a term coined by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler in a study published in the journal in the face of opposing facts.
All too often attempts to persuade people that they should give up a poorly supported belief go nowhere.
Everyone has beliefs, and our beliefs are used to inform our actions. Well supported, or “justified” beliefs tend to be backed with good evidence and reasoning.
Poorly supported beliefs are too often supported with wishful or “magical” thinking, or lack proof altogether.