Wednesday, August 02, 2006

more confirmation bias

My post on confirmation bias below was really meant to be about religion, but I lost control which is a pity because I think the issue of confirmation bias is important. Confirmation bias affects everyone and it's a constant struggle not to fall prey to it. One of the ways out of an opinion you have held simply because the people you like hold it is for one of those people to change their minds. It's more likely that Milton Friedman could convince me to renounce capitalism than Karl Marx.

Now despite the fact that Charles Murray is evil I quite like him, he seems reasonable and genuinely concerned for the welfare of the poor and unlucky. He is also influential which is more than can be said for most of my intellectual hero's. However, in a recent interview he was asked which of his beliefs had significantly changed during his life and part of his answer was
I have been an agnostic since my teens. But I am increasingly drawn to the proposition that of all the hypotheses about God, simple atheism is the least probable. That to be a confident atheist is the silliest of intellectual positions. That thinking about spiritual issues, despite all the difficulties, must be part of being a grown-up.
I don't really have a problem with dismissing this. like I said below, "He's a smart guy, but everybody makes mistakes".

If he were less convinced of the silliness of atheism I would have been more interested to read why he changed his mind.

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