Read this article in The New York Times and if you aren’t left scratching your head in wonderment then you are most likely just scratching your posterior and sniffing your pits. In summary it follows scientific studies that show that when a belief and a fact contradict each other, many are inclined to stick with the belief. So if the car won’t start and you believe the battery is low but your buddy, the mechanic, says it’s not the battery because it’s turning over, it just won’t fire up, do you listen to his advice and look into the ignition, fuel or air system or do you run out and buy a new battery? It is a curious tendency to buy new batteries when they aren’t needed, keep working in the coal mine long after the canary has perished and label the smartest people you know members of the intellectual elite, book smart but with no practical or common sense.
The article, and many others points out an odd contradiction that, if a person truly had any common sense, would spot easily and correct their beliefs to coincide with the facts. There is no bigfoot or yeti. Makes some interesting television what with those numbskulls out there in the woods with their high-tech ghost hunting, ultraviolet cameras yodeling at the moon, but show me one hair, one bone, one gnawed pebble, (they eat rocks, everything else is accounted for) and you might get my attention. The world is not flat. Duh. Dogs are not smart. Duh, and cats are even stupider. Yet we persist in these misconceptions, and push back with even more vigor when challenged.
The research shows that often, the strength of our rejection of factual evidence is based upon theological or political lines. Not to paint one group as wrong and the other as right but perhaps the axiom that we should question authority should come into play. The groups we belong to, political or otherwise are peopled by people we respect, and listen to. They are our fathers and brothers and people we do business with and just as likely to be a bonehead about certain subjects as any stranger. We love em, but really? The Loch Ness monster?
Most importantly, what is to be done when people reject facts and stick with well traveled, storied nonsense. Two garbage can lids applied simultaneously to their craniums won’t work, nor will tweaking the nose, slaps to the back of the head, eye pokes or ear pulling if straight, plain, obvious evidence won’t. Decisions are made every second that affect us all. Will you spend all your time, effort and resources planning for the coming alien invasion or the apocolypse? Or live happily today knowing you stand a good chance of making it to 74 years of age and will pass away comfortably in your sleep at a retirement trailer park in Florida?