Thursday, March 19, 2009

Belief Persistence Despite Discredited Evidence

Humans have a pronounced tendency to believe when they shouldn't, disbelieve despite counter-evidence, and sustain beliefs that are unreasonable. One of the ways that this is manifest is as belief persistence. A number of studies, including this one:

Anderson, Lepper, and Ross, “Perseverance of Social Theories: The Role of Explanation in the Persistence of Discredited Information,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1980, Vol. 39, No.6, 1037-1049

have shown that people will go on believing something even after their reasons have been shown to be faulty.

Anderson, Lepper, and Ross presented subjects with some evidence and asked them to theorize about it. Then they told the subjects that the evidence they had been given was completely fabricated and false. But when tested afterwards about the truth of their theory based on that evidence, the subjects still tended to believe. In philosopher speak: For any S who forms belief P on the basis of evidence E, belief in P will tend to persist even after evidence E has been completely discredited to S.

The implications here for religious belief are obvious. Spend a lot of time entertaining fairy tales about Adam and Eve, Noah, and people rising from the dead in Sunday school, and even if you discover that the evidence for those beliefs is suspect, the belief has a way of persisting. Once it's in there, it's very hard to get it out. There's a copy of the study here:

Persistence of Belief After Discredited Evidence

47 comments:

Steve Martin said...

And much of academia persists in believing the earth is warming while the temperatures have been falling.

The latest is that hurricane activity has greatly decreased.

Nope. We will persist in insisting and painting a gloom and doom oicture of global warming against the tide of evidence.

Reginald Selkirk said...

And much of academia persists in believing the earth is warming while the temperatures have been falling.

BZZZZT! Wrong!
Misleading yourself with graphs

Reginald Selkirk said...

Even though "Steve Martin"'s evidence has been discredited, I predict he will continue to believe.

M. Tully said...

OK, There were a couple of sentences from the article had me concerned for a few paragraphs:

"In everyday experience our intuitive theories and beliefs are sometimes based on just such inconclusive data, but challenges to such beliefs and the formative data for those beliefs are rarely as decisive as the discrediting procedures employed in this study."

And

"That subjects will persevere in beliefs with such weak empirical grounding in the face of a complete refutation of the formative evidence for those beliefs seems eloquent testimony to the pervasiveness of our propensity to resist changing our attitudes or beliefs.”

I was at the point of thinking, “Great, you can never win. My grandchildren will have to go to school board meetings to make the case that would prefer that their children be taught biology in biology class and not mythology.”

But, there was finally light at the end of tunnel.

“Such an assumption is consistent with the proposition that people are likely to engage in the cognitive effort required to generate an explanation only when provided with some salient or unexpected event or outcome (Fischhoff, 1977; Kanouse, 1971; Lepper,
lanna, & Abelson, 1970).”

And

“Would such perseverance effects be eliminated or attenuated, for example, if subjects could be led, after debriefing, to consider explicitly the explanations that might be offered to support a contention in opposition to their initial beliefs?”

Let us hope that further research gives good evidence for the above.

Teleprompter said...

Steve Martin,

Global warming or cooling - or whatnot - is a red herring and really has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic being presented in this post.

Like M. Tully, I search for reasons to be optimistic. Someday, I just wish that most of the people in the world would use rational judgment first in everything they did -- even if they were still religious, it would be a great advance for humanity. Rationalism is the way to go - practically every progression we've seen is derived from it.

That is my hope.

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks, Tully. For reading closely and thinking hard about the issue here.

MM

Anonymous said...

Belief persistence is seen in many ideologies like communism, fascism or the alien folks. How can you make a leap and suggest this is a sole problem of religion? This is a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance and is common when folks are invested in a belief and when confronted with contrary evidence try to save face...

You're 50 years behind professor...

Reginald Selkirk said...

How can you make a leap and suggest this is a sole problem of religion?

? This seems to me the precise opposite of what he has done.

Anonymous said...

Reginald,

Why merely reference religious beliefs? Cognitive dissonance is a problem throughout human nature. This would make any argument the professor had incredibly weak with regards to discrediting religion/God etc. This would also suggest confirmation bias.

Matt McCormick said...

Read closely, anon. I'm pointing out one of the implications for religious belief. There is no claim that people aren't guilty of this mistake in any other circumstance. Clearly it's something that we all have to guard against. Sunday school, however, is a clear, obvious, and very common example where people deliberately pump all sorts of silliness that they know isn't true into their heads. They'd never believe in talking snakes, talking bushes, and magical crackers in any other context, but every Sunday morning they pretend anyway.

Steve Martin said...

Teleprompter,

Just trying to make a point about "religion".

Religious people believe things without need for evidence.

Global warming and worship of the earth is also a religion.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Global warming and worship of the earth is also a religion.

Global warming is not a religion, it is a scientific theory based on a large and growing accumulation of evidence. Since you have already demonstrated that you have no interest in seeking out accurate sources of evidence on that topic, you should just STFU about it.

Eric Sotnak said...

Steve Martin's comments regarding Global Warming are instructive, I think, though not for the reasons he thinks, I suspect. He implies that academics hold to belief in Global Warming without, or even against evidence. But it is precisely the tide of evidence favoring Global Warming that has led to that position being embraced by the majority of those who study climate. And if it shoudld turn out that that position is wrong, it will be shown to be wrong, and (eventually) accepted as being wrong, again, by the weight of evidence. That is the scientific outlook at work. That is how things happened with the eventual rejection of the theory of the aether as the medium through which light waves must be propogated, the eventual acceptance of quantum mechanics, the now prevailing view that the universe will continue to expand indefinitely rather than collapsing back again in a 'big crunch' and so on. In contrast, those who continue to defend religious hypotheses in spite of the failure of their views to be supported by evidence are the ones who are being dogmatic. There may be a few troublesome data points that pose trouble for the Global Warming hypothesis, but it is unwise to base one's views on partial evidence. This is why the scientific outlook is one where one's commitments remain open to revision. New evidence calls for new assessment.

(I know this is peripheral, but it seems odd to me that many Global Warming deniers seem to base their view on the alleged extravagance of accepting that human activities could have such a profound impact on the the environment. This seems to me to be the same mindset that would lead one to hold that the oceans are too vast to be significantly polluted by human waste products, or that the earth's forests are so vast that we could never possibly deplete them, or that there are too many bison to be in danger of extinction, etc. Are we to believe that no matter how much gunk we pour into the atmosphere, we could never expect it to make a detectable difference? What's the basis for this sort of attitude?)

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks Prof. Sotnak. And of course, the profound irony here is that many of the same folks who get out the scalpels and magnifying glasses and apply the harshest critical scrutiny to the evidence for global warming are the same ones who happily accept outlandish supernatural claims about magical snakes and people rising from the dead on a slender thread of suspicious evidence.

The question of global warming aside, if someone says that they believe that Jesus really was a magical being and the rest of it, then we have a substantial prima facie reason to suspect the truth of anything else they say--they've just announced themselves as poor critical thinkers and an unreliable source of information generally.

Anonymous said...

I cant see how anyone would deny GWT. It is pretty clear considering these charts:

http://revcom.us/a/030/graphics/global-warming-chart.jpg

It may be that there is both man-made and natural forces at work. That is if you can join folks like Bertrand Russell and think there is multiple causes to an event...

Anonymous said...

I do think the professor is right in suggesting a correlation between the religious right and GWT deniers. There does seem to be a common mind set. Ah confirmation bias...aint she grand!

M. Tully said...

Matt,

When you said, "And of course, the profound irony here is that many of the same folks who get out the scalpels and magnifying glasses and apply the harshest critical scrutiny to the evidence for global warming are the same ones who happily accept outlandish supernatural claims about magical snakes and people rising from the dead on a slender thread of suspicious evidence." I think that statement gets to the real problem here.

What is the salient question to ask to get someone to rethink their epistemology? And, if they find themselves confounded after rethinking, what is the most effective way to present alternatives?

I think those are fascinating problems and I don't have the slightest idea on how to even approach them.

M. Tully said...

Eric,

"I know this is peripheral, but it seems odd to me that many Global Warming deniers seem to base their view on the alleged extravagance of accepting that human activities could have such a profound impact on the the environment."

I've encountered the same argument many times. The questions I always ask are:

Well then, at what level of human activity would it start to effect the environment? How do you measure it? What is the criteria? Certainly there must be some basis for saying that humans can't affect something?

Then I point them the evidence and it's basis.

Can't say I've been effective at getting people to change their understanding, but I have made them significantly less arrogant about their certainty.

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks Tully. How can you get someone to rethink their epistemology, esp. regarding double standards that lower the bar for religious claims? That's a hard question. Some of the people who post here do not appear to be interested in any sort of real exchange of ideas with an openness to possibly changing their minds. I was just reading some psych research that shows that for highly politicized issues, confronting people with evidence contrary to their view just makes them dig in deeper and distort their filtering of the evidence more. So some people will just not be reachable. The consciousness eating mind virus has already devoured them. But others are more receptive and, I tell myself, keeping the arguments alive, presenting them in new ways, and drawing out the clearest analogies and reasons will eventually get through to them. Very few people will just listen to a point and then promptly change their minds, esp. with atheism. But there is a slow drift that happens over years and they come around. I have certainly changed my mind a lot that way.

MM

Anonymous said...

matt,

Were you ever a believer? Perhaps in your undergraduate/graduate work
you went back and forth on the issue of God?

Toby said...

Matt,

You are spot on with this post. However, I do take issue with one statement you made in a follow-up post:

if someone says that they believe that Jesus really was a magical being and the rest of it, then we have a substantial prima facie reason to suspect the truth of anything else they say--they've just announced themselves as poor critical thinkers and an unreliable source of information generally.

All people have at times have demonstrated poor critical thinking skills. Even extremely intelligent adults with excellent reasoning ability make poor decisions (see latest Skeptic magazine article "Ponzi..."). My son's endocrinologist is a church going Christian who professes belief in Christ as his lord and savior. While his religious views are absurd, he is an excellent endocrinologist and I trust him completely in caring for my diabetic son. Of course I wouldn't trust him to guide us spiritually/philosophically, as he is an idiot when it comes to theological and philosophical matters. However, I think that because people have been allowed to so blatantly lie over the years about god that it is reasonable for a highly intelligent person to have no idea that they have been lied to. I was raised a fundamentalist, put in fundamentalist schools, including Bible College and Seminary. Fortunately, I pursued a PhD in Psychology and finally went to a secular school. As an adult (age 25-27) I began to see through the lies, and over time I lost belief in Christianity all together. At this time I had no idea that there were numerous extremely well-thought criticisms of Christianity. I had never heard any real criticisms against Christianity (I was told through Bible College and Seminary by people I trusted that there were no good arguments against Christianity). It wasn't until I told my brother at age 30 that I didn't believe in Christianity that he said, "Oh yeah, I read a book by Richard Dawkins about 10 years ago and became an atheist."

"What you're an atheist?! How come you didn't tell me? How come you let me believe that nonsense for so long?" I asked.

"I didn't want to offend you," he responded.

So I went out and purchased "God Delusion" and after reading it I realized I was an atheist as well. So, was I an idiot for believing? Perhaps, but my belief was based on years of deceit and brainwashing that is not only sanctioned by society, but promoted as healthy. Even though I believed in God and once believed in Jesus as a magical being, my critical reasoning ability wasn't abnormally low or faulty; rather, as a Bible College and Seminary graduate I was simply uneducated or under-educated in these matters (take your pick). Had I been given a book by Bart Ehrman in BC or Seminary I would have dumped Christianity 5-8 years sooner.

Anyways, though we may disagree on this one minor point, I love your blog. I hope you publish a book, as I would love to give it out this Christmas. Or have you published one?

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post and the insights, Toby. I'm working on the book. I'll keep everyone here updated.

All things considered, if I find out someone is an ardent believer like your endocrinologist, that does cast some substantial doubt, in my mind, on their critical thinking capacities. It doesn't demonstrate that he is an idiot, as you suggest, but it does raise a serious question. And that might be enough to tip the balance. Frankly, if I found that out about my doctor, I'd change.

Your defense attempts to diminish the person's culpability in believing because they are brainwashed, or immersed in a believing culture, or they just never knew any better. That all may be true, but those excuses don't demonstrate that the person in question has outstanding critical thinking skills--they show that he's the sort of person who can fall prey to all of that indoctrination. Not being able to see through the brainwashing itself indicates some lack of intellectual insight. You say you saw through it all yourself eventually, but you were perfectly reasonable and rational before you did. I'm not sure you can have it both ways. But we're glad you were liberated. And it's good to know that these ideas do change some people's minds.

MM

Toby said...

Matt,

Perhaps you're right. If people didn't make up such grand and believable lies about faith, I would readily consent to your entire argument. However, I was routinely told of miracles and though I never saw them, they came from people I viewed as honest. So it took me longer to see through it than it should of.

I also think your argument should address age, IQ, and level/type of education. With the my endocrinologist, you are right and your entire critique applies--he should know better. However, 85 percent of the population have IQ's under 115. I would guess given the correlation of reduced religiosity with higher IQ that what your are defining as faulty critical thinking skills are still within normal variance. So, I'm not saying their reasoning abilities aren't faulty, I just think that it is important to note that while the reasoning abilities may be faulty, it is not abnormal. Call that the psychologist in me.

Anonymous said...

Yes every atheist is a lay psychologists. they seem convinced that people who hold religious views are suffering from some mental problems. The problem with this reasoning is its faulty. There is no evidence for it nor can it be articulated above and beyond the inherent ad nausuem it presupposes. this is much like the partisan bickering that democrats and republicans can partake in - dems are emotional and irrational, repubs cruel and senseless. Such partisan bickering is what atheist on this blog seem to do quite often.

Anonymous said...

Review Article


Plato's Quinean Beard: Did Plato ever grow it?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MICHAEL DURRANT



Abstract

Quine may be taken to use the phrase ‘Plato's Beard’ to denote a solution to the following problem: How is it possible to speak of that which does not exist, of non-being or as Read has it, to denote a solution to the problem: ‘How can a sentence with empty names have meaning?’.

Quine writes:

Nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is that there is not? This tangled doctrine might be nicknamed Plato's beard; historically it has proved tough, frequently dulling the edge of Occam's razor.

To expand. If nonbeing in no sense is, then we cannot ever assert that it is not; yet if it in some sense is, then how can it remain nonbeing? Let us fill out with an example (coined from Quine). If Pegasus in no sense exists, then how can we ever assert that Pegasus does not exist?—yet we may clearly want to assert that Pegasus does not exist and affirm the proposition that it is false that Pegasus exists. If, on the other hand, Pegasus in some sense exists, how may we affirm that he does not? We shall be contradicting ourselves or be guilty of equivocation.

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=24925

Toby said...

anon

I actually have a PhD in Psychology and I can state, as all psychologists would, religious people have mental problems... just as every person alive has had or will have mental problems. Now if people of some particular religion had significantly fewer mental problems (disorders) compared to the general population, then that would be something. But as the data goes, religious people have comparable rates of mental illness to the general population. Some religions have higher rates of pathology (some cults, Pentecostals, etc), Christians have higher divorce rates, but people who go to church do live longer than those who don't. You can cherry pick the data, but overall no religious group fairs better than the next, or even non-religious groups for that matter. As an atheist I do not believe that religious views are indicative of a mental illness in and of itself. However, some religious views are unhealthy and are a result of pre-existing pathology.

So where does a psychologist actually draw the line, or when is a religious belief pathological? This is a tough question and will vary from psychologist to psychologist. Personally I don't mess much with people's religious views unless they are ego-dystonic or are causing impairment in the individual's family, social, or occupational life. What do you do with a person who says, "I heard the voice of God and he told me..." It entirely depends upon the message the individual heard and the impact upon the individual. If they have multiple symptoms of schizophrenia and believe God wants them to pluck their eye out because it caused them to sin, then that's clearly a severe mental illness at work. On the other hand, if the individual is mostly well functioning and insists that he heard god say, "Love your neighbor." I'm not going to worry about that much at all. Those are more clear cut examples. The harder ones are more gray, so to speak. Often, many religious views are delusional, hallucinations, or pathological. Sometimes I do have to diagnose the individual with Psychotic Disorder NOS because of a religious belief.

What do you think? Is a Mormon or Pentecostal speaking in tongues a sign of pathology?

M. Tully said...

Toby,

Great comment. And welcome to a great blog. I came upon it on accident while googling something else. It has certainly changed my my views about philosophy in general and about more recent philosophy in particular.

Based on the above, I can definitely appreciate your comment, "All people have at times have demonstrated poor critical thinking skills."

Yes, but isn't great to realize you're wrong about something? Learning to appreciate being wrong is perhaps the best thing I have ever learned.

So again, welcome.

M. Tully said...

Oh, Anon,

"Nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is that there is not?"

Non believing definitely is an is. But, oh my goodness, I just started to read Quine and if your going to cite him as an authority, I must (out of a good conscious) tell you that you are going to get your ...ahem...argument handed to you.

Cherry pick if you must but realize, there are consequences.

Eric Sotnak said...

anonymous cut-and-pasted some things from the internet, apparently being under the impression that Quine would side with him regarding assertions of non-existence. Unfortunately, anonymous has not, obviously, read or understood what Quine goes on to say regarding what he thinks is the appropriate resolution of the difficulties involved in asserting non-existence. As it turns out, Quine would not be friendly to the view anonymous seems to be trying to pin on him.

The article (which everyone should read!) is "On What There Is" Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 2 (1948/1949), pp. 21 - 38.

Anonymous said...

Toby,

Seriously, you should know the difference between an "expert opinion" and an "opinion" in the field of psychology. if a psychologist gives an opinion to a person without their medical records and background then they can only give an opinion and not an expert opinion. Have you the necessary background to assess all religious persons? What you have stated here is clearly an opinion and it is intellectually dishonest to pass one as the other.

Anonymous said...

Eric and tully,

I am fully aware of Quine's work. And never did I say i agreed with him. That is poor reading by both of you. I was trying to get across the problem of Plato's beard.

Quine struggled to get rid of nonexsitence entites. He ended up using a form of free logic to handle the ontological commitments that come with speaking of nonentities.


Remember, Quine is an ontological relativists and such a position can give rise to nonentities given the right era. Hi solution really depends on assuming that nonentities do not exists to begin with.

Quine concluded his "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" as follows:

"As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer . . . For my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing, the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conceptions only as cultural posits".

Toby said...

Anon,

Expert opinion?! Am I testifying before congress or at a trial? Where did I claim to be giving expert opinion? You're the one pretending to be an expert. You tell everyone they are wrong and that you're right. Discussions of mutual interest tend to be more collegial than that. But if you want expert opinion, here's my "expert" opinion: I'm beginning to suspect that you're an idiot who doesn't comprehend or read well.

I base this on what I wrote. Is it this that you have a problem with:

"As an atheist I do not believe that religious views are indicative of a mental illness"

or

"Personally I don't mess much with people's religious views"

Why don't you do me a favor and try to find specific things I wrote and claimed as expert opinion that you disagree with?

Also, this a a blog for crying out loud, not a peer reviewed journal. And register a name to publish under. Matt, I know that most people use pseudonyms anyway, but I think you should block anonymous posts.

Eric Sotnak said...

anonymous wrote:
"I am fully aware of Quine's work. And never did I say i agreed with him. That is poor reading by both of you. I was trying to get across the problem of Plato's beard."

Since you don't agree with Quine's solution to the problem of non-being (or Plato's beard), then where do you think he goes wrong? What do you think is the correct solution?

Anonymous said...

Toby,

You said:

"I actually have a PhD in Psychology and I can state, as all psychologists would, religious people have mental problems..."

You have attributed your own opinion as an expert opinion by claiming "ALL" psychologists" would agree with you> I just need to find one (and I know one) to falsify your claim.

You dont seem to know the difference between an expert opinion and an opinion. I pity you if you really have a PHD in psychology.

Anonymous said...

Eric,

I dont think there is a solution for Plato's beard. The topic delves into a very complicated argument about univerals.

Since I introduced this topic perhaps you would like to respond as to how atheist deal with Plato's beard? That way we keep the discussion to phil of religion and not metaphysics or second order logic...

Toby said...

Anon wrote:

You have attributed your own opinion as an expert opinion by claiming "ALL" psychologists" would agree with you> I just need to find one (and I know one) to falsify your claim.

Ha! You got to be kidding me! Are you trying to intentionally misrepresent my statements? You continue to make up nonsense, though I am having fun with the exchange. Read the statement that you have a problem with more carefully this time:

"...religious people have mental problems... just as every person alive has had or will have mental problems."

Saying a person will have a mental problem at some point in their life is saying nothing more than that they are alive. The problems may be very minor, they may be severe, but no person's life has ever been lived free of mental trouble. Yes, ALL psychologists would agree with this.

You are either intentionally distorting mine and others' statements to get are rise out of us, or you have a problem with reading and comprehension (at least with this blog).

Given my statement above, do you honestly think a person has ever lived a live entirely free of any and all mental problems? Yes, I said ALL psychologists would agree with me on this because I still believe they would. I seriously would love for you to provide us with the psychologist you "know" that disagrees with me on this idea. But you have to present my statement in context to he or she, not chop it like you did in your post to misrepresent me.

As for questioning my credentials, I have probably linked enough information to my blogspot account to verify my identity as it is. So, yes, I do actually have a PhD in Psychology. However, I don't pretend that my degree makes me an expert when it comes to religion. I merely was presenting MY point-of-view as an atheist and as a doctor of psychology. My actual statements are fairly benign, but you are creating controversy in my comments where there is none.

Okay, try again, give me a statement IN CONTEXT that I made where I represented myself as an expert giving "expert" opinions on this blog where the opinions were controversial or inappropriate in some fashion.

Toby said...

Anon,

Another quick thought regarding your post to me. I am still humored at your attacks against my professional qualifications. Please tell us all what your profession is. I am assuming all the opinions you have offered are non-expert in nature. At least they appear to be. Actually (aside from your grammar and punctuation) your skill at twisting words leaves me to believe you might be an attorney or politician. After all, this entire exchange about my revelation of my profession all started from an attack by you were you contemptuously wrote,

Yes every atheist is a lay psychologists. they seem convinced that people who hold religious views are suffering from some mental problems. The problem with this reasoning is its faulty. There is no evidence for it nor can it be articulated above and beyond the inherent ad nausuem it presupposes

For fun, let's review the opinions you've offered on this blog:

This is a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance and is common when folks are invested in a belief and when confronted with contrary evidence try to save face...

Such an opinion! Are you an expert on this area of psychology? You say it with such emphasis, like there is no possibility that you might be mistaken... sounds like "expert" opinion to me!

You continue:

You're 50 years behind professor...

Another attack on professional competency... this time directed at Matt. You're qualified to criticize his competency in this field of philosophy how? Is that your "expert" opinion again?

Later you wrote,
Seriously, you should know the difference between an "expert opinion" and an "opinion" in the field of psychology. if a psychologist gives an opinion to a person without their medical records and background then they can only give an opinion and not an expert opinion. Have you the necessary background to assess all religious persons? What you have stated here is clearly an opinion and it is intellectually dishonest to pass one as the other.

This has nothing to do with anything I said! I gave no inappropriate or controversial claims related to the field of psychology, nor did I make an assessment on any actual person. The best you could come up with is criticizing my use of the phrase "all psychologists." Yes, all is reaching, but this is a blog, and informal exchange of thoughts and ideas, not a forum for "expert opinion" as you keep insisting.

My favorite quote from you:

I pity you if you really have a PHD in psychology.

There you go again attacking professional competency and/or qualifications. Pity would imply some sort of compassion, but you have not demonstrated anything of the sort. You attack, misrepresent, belittle, and distort... you do not show compassion at all. First, you attack Matt's professional competency, then mine; which coming from an "anonymous" poster I find rather cowardly and lowbrow.

Toby said...

Bill Cosby has this great comedy routine. If you are familiar with Cosby's work, you'll know that he rarely ever uses fowl language. In fact, he has even criticized other black comedians for their fowl language. So knowing Cosby's integrity and sensibilities make this joke have greater impact in my opinion. However, you also have to imagine it in Bill Cosby's draw out dramatic/comedic voice to get the full effect:

A lot of people in Hollywood do drugs and I just can't understand it. Some of my friends are actors and actresses, so I asked one of them one, "Whhhhhyyy are allll these PEOPLE around hhheeere doing drugs?!

And you know what he said to me?! He said, "Hey man, its just cocaine, you know. It helps accentuate your personality."
I responded to the guy, but what about when your personality is an asshole like you.


Ha! I love it... perhaps I should go search youtube for link to it, as I probably butchered it and definitely didn't do it justice.
As I was reading and responding to Anon tonight, I was reminded of Bill's routine. On blogs it is easy to misread, misinterpret, and not understand what someone is communicating. I honestly have no idea how Anon intended for his/her comments to come off. I suspect that Anon thinks I'm an asshole (as Cosby would say), but this is only an assumption. So, if I've misread/misinterpreted you tone or position Anon, you have my apology. However, I really do believe that you have misread what I was trying to say OR I communicated poorly.

For the record:

I do NOT think all religious beliefs are pathological (mental disorders or illness). I think many religious beliefs are mostly healthy and normal. However, there are some religious beliefs that are not healthy and not normal. I don't mess with my clients' religious beliefs unless those beliefs are dangerous (ie God told me to kill my wife). I don't believe it is right for me to impose my values onto my clients. I routinely support my clients' religious views, even when I disagree with them because there is research to show that religion and churches can be (though not always) excellent support systems.

Anonymous said...

Toby,

You arguing with yourself?

You said:


"I actually have a PhD in Psychology and I can state, as all psychologists would, religious people have mental problems..."

AND


"I do NOT think all religious beliefs are pathological (mental disorders or illness). I think many religious beliefs are mostly healthy and normal"

Who won?

Toby said...

Anon,

You are being a dishonest person. You are only proving yourself to be a liar through your attempts to deceive.

My quote was, "religious people have mental problems... just as every person alive has had or will have mental problems."

Way to take it out of context, but cutting off the last half of the quote. You continue to create controversy where there is none.

Anonymous said...

You are right Toby. I am a completely dishonest person. I am cowardly and shallow just as you suggest.

;)

Toby said...

Anon,

Well, that was surprising. A little out of character for you considering all the other distortions, cheap shots and half-truths coming from you, but okay.

Eric Sotnak said...

anonymous wrote:
"Since I introduced this topic perhaps you would like to respond as to how atheist deal with Plato's beard? "

I submit that the problem of Plato's Beard is no greater for the atheist than the problem of Jesus' feathers is for the theist.

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みんなの精神年齢を測定できる、メンタル年齢チェッカーで秘められた年齢がズバリわかっちゃう!かわいいあの子も実は精神年齢オバサンということも…合コンや話のネタに一度チャレンジしてみよう

メル友募集 said...

最近仕事ばかりで毎日退屈してます。そろそろ恋人欲しいです☆もう夏だし海とか行きたいな♪ k.c.0720@docomo.ne.jp 連絡待ってるよ☆

家出 said...

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