Saturday, 4 December 2021

Why Do Creationists Choose to Remain Ignorant of Science? A New Study Offers An Explanation.

Whether people inform themselves or remain ignorant is due to three factors | UCL News - UCL – University College London.

One thing about Creationists and religious fundamentalist, that most rationalists and scientifically minded people find infuriating and almost incomprehensible is why they appear to be so well-informed about their chosen beliefs but remain so ignorant of anything that might contradict them.

For example, some Creationists and/or religious apologists will be well versed in the fallacies and disinformation that pass for arguments for their beliefs, yet, despite being told ad nauseum that that is not what scientists claim, or a patient
Vast amounts of information are now available to individuals. This includes everything from information about your genetic make-up to information about social issues and the economy. We wanted to find out: how do people decide what they want to know? And why do some people actively seek out information, for example about COVID vaccines, financial inequality and climate change, and others don’t?

The information people decide to expose themselves to has important consequences for their health, finance and relationships. By better understanding why people choose to get informed, we could develop ways to convince people to educate themselves.

explanation of how that particular apologetic can be easily refuted, they display complete ignorance of those counter arguments and of the facts they depend on.

It's frustratingly as though they hit the reset button at the start of every debate.

Ignorance appears to be a matter of pride, proudly displayed in the social media as some sort of achievement, to the extent that answers to the questions they purport to want answers to remain ignored or dismissed with the wave of a hand and a quick change of subject, often accompanied by abuse and/or an attempt to make the person who answered it feel guilty for supplying them with an answer they didn't want.

But how do they know in advance what arguments to reject and which evidence to ignore, or even which information sources to avoid?

A paper by researchers at University College, London, UK, (UCL) sheds some light on the thinking behind this decision to remain ignorant. Although not intended to explain Creationists' and fundamentalists' wilful ignorance, it nevertheless helps to explain their desire to maintain it and how they go about doing so.

They found that:
People choose whether to seek or avoid information about their health, finances and personal traits based on how they think it will make them feel, how useful it is, and if it relates to things they think about often.
Their open access research paper was published yesterday in Nature Communications.

According to information provided by UCL News:
The researchers conducted five experiments with 543 research participants, to gauge what factors influence information-seeking.

In one of the experiments, participants were asked how much they would like to know about health information, such as whether they had an Alzheimer’s risk gene or a gene conferring a strong immune system. In another experiment, they were asked whether they wanted to see financial information, such as exchange rates or what income percentile they fall into, and in another one, whether they would have liked to learn how their family and friends rated them on traits such as intelligence and laziness.

Later, participants were asked how useful they thought the information would be, how they expected it would make them feel, and how often they thought about each subject matter in question.
The researchers found that three factors control whether people seek information:
  1. Expected utility,
  2. Emotional impact,
  3. Relevance to things they thought of often.
In the abstract to their published paper in Nature Communications, the authors say:
Abstract
Vast amounts of personalized information are now available to individuals. A vital research challenge is to establish how people decide what information they wish to obtain. Here, over five studies examining information-seeking in different domains we show that information-seeking is associated with three diverse motives. Specifically, we find that participants assess whether information is useful in directing action, how it will make them feel, and whether it relates to concepts they think of often. We demonstrate that participants integrate these assessments into a calculation of the value of information that explains information seeking or its avoidance. Different individuals assign different weights to these three factors when seeking information. Using a longitudinal approach, we find that the relative weights assigned to these information-seeking motives within an individual show stability over time, and are related to mental health as assessed using a battery of psychopathology questionnaires.

Kelly, C.A., Sharot, T.
Individual differences in information-seeking.
Nat Commun 12, 7062 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27046-5

Copyright: © 2021 The authors. Published by Springer Nature Ltd.
Open access
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license (CC BY 4.0)
By understanding people's motivations to seek information, policy makers may be able to increase the likelihood that people will engage with and benefit from vital information. For example, if policy makers highlight the potential usefulness of their message and the positive feelings that it may elicit, they may improve the effectiveness of their message.

The research can also help policy makers decide whether information, for instance on food labels, needs to be disclosed, by describing how to fully assess the impact of information on welfare. At the moment policy-makers overlook the impact of information on people’s emotions or ability to understand the world around them, and focus only on whether information can guide decisions.

In effect, ignorance is maintained to avoid the unpleasant feeling of cognitive dissonance which comes from a conflict between the real world and what the person would like to believe the real world is like. Just as those who seek to deny climate change because the prospects are too awful to contemplate, so Creationists will generally avoid learning anything which might cause them to wonder if perhaps they could be wrong (and so wrong about so much else of their faith-based belief system such as a protective invisible friend and the guarantee of a happy afterlife if they remain 'faithful' and compliant and allow their cult leaders to think for them).

Where is the utility value in learning what the scientific definition of biological evolution is, or the details of the processes by which biologist have shown it occurs, when doing so might cause them to question the notion of special creation? What would be the emotional impact of the realisation that they are wrong when they might well have invested a great deal of time and built up a reputation as a Creationist, admired by other Creationists and belonging to Creationist groups and churches? And what is the relevance of a research paper or online article which doesn't support their desired view of the world?

In short, these findings explain why ignorance is almost always the chosen modus operandum of a Creationist/Religious fundamentalist. Their problem is that they inhabit a world where the facts as revealed by science contradict what they want to believe and fail to support their Creationist view of the world, and the conclusions they would like to draw from the facts if only the facts were different.

There is no alternative but to pretend they know better than the experts, based on the arrogant idea that if the experts don't agree with them the experts must be wrong because somehow their ignorance is a shortcut to a level of expertise that is not achievable by years of diligent study and research. Wilful mental self-enslavement and an afront to the human capacity to learn and reason, motivated partly by the morbid theophobia that religious parents often inculcate their unfortunate children with.

Thank you for sharing!









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