A black hole is a pattern of thinking that irrationally defends itself.

I call them black holes because once someone is in this pattern of thinking, it seems nearly hopeless that they will ever be able or willing to escape.

It's normal, in the course of life, to encounter new information. Ideally, a person would, on encountering new information, assimilate it as completely and accurately as they possibly could. In those circumstances where the new information is inconsistent with old information, the person would make a careful, thorough, logical evaluation of what the correct thing is to know, and then carry on in that way.

I think this probably happens less than half the time.

A black hole is a belief that thwarts this process.

Here are some facts which are currently subjected to black holes with alarming frequency:

  1. Sexual orientation is basically unchangeable.
  2. Earth is warming because humans have burned so many fossil fuels.
  3. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
  4. Vaccines do not cause autism.
  5. The Earth is billions of years old, not thousands.
  6. All species on Earth are products of evolution, including humans.
  7. Torture is an ineffective and counterproductive interrogation technique. Also, waterboarding is actually torture.
  8. Cutting taxes does not stimulate the economy in any meaningful way. Growth because of the tax cut is wiped out by the deficit it creates.

Solutions, Please?

:?: I'm wondering if all the black holes could be ascribed to a failure to properly vet trusted sources. Prove or find counterexample?

Here's an idea.

FIXME s/ultimate/distal/

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximate_and_ultimate_causation in the section under 'sociology'.

Japanese acknowledges the distinction– doshite? (how is that so?) and naze? (what reason?)

Thanks to Jahn Curran for giving me that information.

With regard to specific black holes, could we break someone out of them by taking them out of the “proximate reason” conversation and instead having the “ultimate reason” conversation?

  1. Write “Proximate” and “Ultimate” on the board.
  2. Ask why they see things the way they do; write all the proximate reasons under “Proximate.”
  3. Ask for ultimate reasons. Hypothesis: There are only proximate reasons for believing something that isn't true. Ultimate reasons are only available if you're unattached enough to believe what's true.
  4. If there are no proximate reasons left and no ultimate reasons in sight, ask if there's anything at all that would change their mind.

Recent research has shown that confronting people who believe erroneous things with facts tends to actually reinforce their erroneous thinking, rather than have them come to terms with their folly. So the direct approach doesn't work.

I have an idea, that having them be inside the difference between the proximate reason they believe what they do–that is, how they came to believe it, the evidence, the agreement, the perception, all of that–and the ultimate reason they believe what they do–the motivation to continue with the belief as it is–might start to break up the resistance to facts. But it's a very slippery conversation to have, and I've not succeeded thus far; that is, I've not managed to invent technology, or tools, that are effective enough at bringing someone from the domain of proximate reason to the domain of ultimate reason.

I'm sure another big part of the problem is how damn judgmental I am about all this.





tactics/black_holes.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/22 19:48 by naptastic
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