Many of us who have access to various truths that do not have the support of mainstream science have been relentlessly persecuted recently as the more skeptical public clamors ever-louder for sufficient evidence of our claims. This unfortunate state of affairs is largely due to 1) the growing acceptance of the alleged correlation between what is euphemistically called quantitative science, and technological and medical successes, as well as highly coherent explanatory paradigms that have penetrated even the most simple minds, and 2) the reassessment of the virtue of faith. These dark notions are turning the innocent minds that once unquestioningly accepted our unsubstantiated truths into skeptics that will believe only as far as the evidence extends, and thwarts the bald assertions we were once at liberty to make. The virus of rigorous scientific methodology is now thriving, largely due to popular writings of science’s more devious prophets. These prophets have combined their own form of logic with effective rhetoric to make the tools and results of science more accessible. We must stop this epidemic that threatens the virtue of ignorance upon which we base our very livelihood. The following is a list of guidelines that may stay this insidious surge of rationality and science.
- Above all else, stir up the emotions. These include the following.
Humans, fortunately, cannot very accurately assess risks. All it takes is a bit of creative spin to enlarge the dangers in the cognitive rear-view mirrors of your targets. You can achieve this by merely twisting the statistics, but what normally works best is to sear into the imagination the associated horrors so that the improbability of the event cannot be rationally calculated (such as falling from the sky in a airliner) or the logical impossibility of a concept cannot be grasped (such as the notion of “Hell”).
It is a no-brainer to co-opt the innate sense of guilt all humans possess to your advantage. Since your target is predisposed to assume that there is an actual correlate to the emotion (such as “sin”), it is just a simple matter of setting your ideology in front of them, and let the target map this guilt and other emotions onto the ontology of your ideology. Just be certain your ideology provides a form of “redemption” that can offer a conditional reprieve from the guilt. You, of course, set your own conditions to achieve your agenda.
Provide a community that can provide affection and significance to individuals who surrender their own powers of critical thinking to the construct of your ontology. Providing such a community will blur any illogical and convoluted contrivances that your ontology contains.
One of the most difficult things for humans to say is “I don’t know”. In this respect we have a huge advantage over science which, by its very nature, can never provide the definitive answers that the human psyche screams for. Therefore, if we can convince our targets that they must have a ontological plug for every emotional longing, and that in order to make life meaningful, they must go beyond the meager evidence science is limited to and accept unsubstantiated claims, then we can then posit any concept that maps well onto the emotions of that individual.
- Create a private language that strips words of rigorous meaning, and imbues them with abstract warm and fuzzy connotations. Once this language is acquired, it will effectively make unintelligible the arguments of nonbelievers, instill a sense of vested interest that will be difficult to discard, and remove your ideology from intelligible criticism. Instead of “unsubstantiated belief”, use “faith”. Map every emotion to a vague term that you can then manipulate consistent with your agenda. Map guilt to “sin”, a sense of immortality to “soul” or “spirit”, and a sense of agency or empowerment to “chi” or “élan vital ” or “holy spirit”. Just be certain to keep these terms undefined enough to be able to rebuff criticism with a redefinition. If any one objects to this practice by suggesting that it emasculates your ontology, suggest in response that the evocation of emotions is surely sufficient to validate your ideology.
- Co-opt advances in science. As the web of scientific knowledge advances into evermore counter-intuitive domains such as the relativity of time and space, quantum theory, and multi-dimensional universes, we have a goldmine of concepts that we can prop up between ourselves and criticism. Quantum theory can be used to argue for free will1. The notion of an 11 dimension universe leaves open the possibility that angels live between the cracks2. Note that we do not need to understand the actual science behind these concepts ourselves. Nor does our audience need to understand the concept. Nor do the scientists who do understand the concept need to agree with our own armchair interpretation of it. All that is needed is for us to provided enough of a rhetorical spin to allow our targets to lose track of any logical claims against our ideologies, and to return to their disposition to accept what is most emotionally fulfilling. One good example is the big bang. Though it was merely a rapid expansion, and not the explosion as conventionally defined as we claim, using the word “explosion” allows us to then better make claims of causation and agency, though the bulk of cosmologists take issue with both our choice of terms and our ontological extrapolations. And should new scientific discoveries invalidate the theories we are co-opting, we cannot be blamed as we are not scientists, now can we? And there will always be a sufficient number of new complicated concepts in science we can arbitrarily pick and choose from to bolster our assertions.
- Repackage improbable logical possibilities as worthy contenders in the cognitive battle for an acceptable ideology. Take the scrawny notion of miracles which is severely lacking any evidential muscle. Hand it the folding chair of emotions, and send it into the ring while the hulk of substantiated science has his back turned. The emotionally armed underdog will inevitably win the affection of much of the crowd in spite of his dubious tactics, and in spite of having lost every prior battle against a focused and scrutinizing science for thousands of years.
- Never bring into question the capabilities and limitations of the instrument of understanding. The human brain is not well equipped to perceive its own limitations. It is predisposed to believe it can arrive at truth intuitively without training in critical thinking and applying scientific methodology. Use this predisposition to your advantage by disparaging attempts to rigorously and unemotionally define and assess ideologies. Suggest that your ideology cannot be accessed in this manner. Suggest that deeper truth will always be reached intuitively, that it will match the demands of the emotions, that each mind has a direct line to this truth without need for external validation, and that the subsequent conclusions of such a mind should never again be subject to reassessment (once your ideology has been implanted of course). The danger of your targets understanding their own cognitive limitation cannot be underestimated. Distract targets from the realization that the very salient sense of confidence in a belief is constructed by the brain, and that the brain must be included as a component in the epistemological mechanism that must be fully assessed before we can justify our beliefs. Do this by implying that science and its constituents think they have superior minds, thus evoking the defensive ire of your targets. Do this by suggesting that we are born with the innate ability to accurately assess reality rather than needing to invest time and energy into learning critical thinking and scientific methodology.
- Suggest that, while reason is useful, something more is necessary to transcend what is clearly an inferior life of mere skepticism. Suggest that those given to such skepticism are constantly on the verge of suicide. Suggest that an ideology that does not provide objective purpose is not worth living. Use the notion of “common sense” to make the rational side of the fence to seem inferior. Use authorities within your ideology to invert the notion that those with more training in critical thinking generally arrive at superior conclusions3.
- If you are introducing supernatural entities and notions, avoid talking about the precedent of methodological naturalism. Start each discussion as if the science that has applied this heuristic has not had thousands of years of successes while more ephemeral and immaterial approaches to reality have been constantly and consistently invalidated. Take an anecdote of a recovery from cancer and suggest that a miraculous and a natural explanation deserve equal epistemological consideration. Take the surviving of a car accident and suggest that karma could have played more of a role than the seat belt. Be sure to leave the notions of miracles and karma ill-defined so as to avoid the testing and subsequent invalidation of your claims.
- Associate science with as many repulsive concepts as possible. Ben Stein has set a fine example here when he alluded to the Holocaust and said
When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you. .4
The tenuous causal link here is not important. You merely need to make the association and let the uncritical human mind do what it does best.
One can only imagine what kind of world we could be living in should the bulk of humanity forsake their superstitions and turn to the evils of critical thinking and scientific methodology.
- An essay by Chris Crawford “Now, the debate over free will versus determinism took a new turn about 70 years ago with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the introduction of quantum mechanics. The Uncertainty Principle established that the basic behavior of the universe was fundamentally random. That is, the most basic processes that underlie the functioning of the universe are unpredictable. This blows determinism right out of the water.”
- An essay by Richard Aberdeen “Many modern theorists now believe that there may be at least eleven dimensions within our universe alone, even though we are physically aware of only three, again giving credibility to the Biblical insistence that there are unseen beings surrounding us in dimensions outside of our natural physical awareness.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.”
- Ben Stein being interviewed by Paul Crouch, Jr. on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.