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William of Ockham probably thought of this too.

September 8, 2014

The less effort it takes to process a factual claim, the more accurate it seems.

imageKaty Waldman in Slate writes about The Science of Truthiness. It is a political piece; you don’t need to read the second half of the article. The subtitle of the article is Conservative beliefs make a lot more sense when you’re not paying attention. Just change the word conservative to shroud and for us it makes perfect sense.

Truthiness is “truth that comes from the gut, not books,” Colbert said in 2005. . . . Scientists who study the phenomenon now also use the term. It humorously captures how, as cognitive psychologist Eryn Newman put it, “smart, sophisticated people” can go awry on questions of fact.

Newman, who works out of the University of California–Irvine, recently uncovered an unsettling precondition for truthiness: The less effort it takes to process a factual claim, the more accurate it seems. When we fluidly and frictionlessly absorb a piece of information, one that perhaps snaps neatly onto our existing belief structures, we are filled with a sense of comfort, familiarity, and trust. The information strikes us as credible, and we are more likely to affirm it—whether or not we should.

William of Ockham probably thought of this too. I do read other things that have nothing to do with the shroud. So this is off topic but it seemed to fit anyway.

Picture note: That is a picture of William of Ockham, not Katy Waldman.

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  1. Louis
    September 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    She is right. Belief structures can become uncomfortable when challenged, so generally people prefer to leave things as they are, it is more convenient and also practical perhaps. After all, a lot of what goes on in the world is make believe.

  2. Louis
    September 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    As philosopher Peter Kreeft, who moved from Calvinism to Catholicism, wrote, the problem of evil is the most serious problem in the world. One could add that this is precisely why it does not “snap easily into our belief structures”, it is simply swept under the rug because the “sense of comfort, familiarity, trust” has to prevail.
    The problem is also precisely what led to the break between C. G. Jung and the American Dominican, Father Victor White, at Blackfriars, Oxford. Jung’s hope that White would be his successor disappeared, but the spiritual bond between them was not broken. Needless to say, both had faith. Kreeft’s writings also lead to the understanding of how faith is important and even Jung was glad when he received spiritual help. He was very fond of Father White, who was his closest friend, but the priest had died from injuries after a motorcycle accident. An English nun helped him.
    https://www.academia.edu/7344691/C._G._Jung_Father_Victor_White_and_privatio_boni

  3. Louis
    September 9, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Good things happen from time to time. Here we have another effort to patch up differences, with Anglicans and Catholics together at the reburial of King Richard III:
    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/09/08/cardinal-to-preach-at-anglican-cathedral-before-remains-of-richard-iii/

  4. Louis
    September 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Jackie Kennedy had a big problem with existing belief structure after John F. Kennedy’s assassination but she ultimately regained her faith:
    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/09/08/jackie-kennedys-letters-to-priests-handed-over-to-kennedy-family/

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