Tim O’Neill, “How History Is Done” (11.29.22), historyforatheists.com:
We atheists and freethinkers regularly deride believers for their irrational thinking, lack of critical analysis and tendency to cling to ideas out of faith even when confronted by contrary evidence. Unfortunately, it is a lot easier to talk about being rational, and criticise others for not being so, than it is to practice what we preach. Everyone has their biases and “confirmation bias” – the tendency to favour information that confirms our prior beliefs – is an innate psychological propensity that is hard to counter, even when we are aware of it. This means that atheists can, in many cases, be as bad as believers in accepting appealing ideas without checking their facts, holding to common misconceptions in the face of contrary evidence and liking neat, simple stories over messy, complex and more detailed alternatives that happen to be more solidly supported by the evidence.
2 thoughts on “Tim O’Neill: Atheists Can Be Duped Too”
Aye. And my sense is that the problem is exacerbated by the pressures of the Internet to produce provocative and confident content in quantity, rather than nuanced and circumspect content all in good time. Whether we’re talking about blog posts or comments, the psychological incentives can nudge us to score points in our own heads with appealing assertions and arguments we’re often disinclined to subject to the scrutiny they warrant. (And by “we,” of course I mean atheists and theists alike.) Deferring the dopamine fix of likes and pwning takes time, self-discipline, and–horror of horrors–a willingness to confront our own errors.
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