virus: Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God and Level-3)

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 22:42:33 -0500 (EST)

This post is addressed to the Tony, David M., Dave P., Richard B.
and everyone else following the "true beliefs vs. positive beliefs"

Aren't we discussing a sort of placebo effect? It seems reasonable
based upon medical evidence that positive thinking does cause
some illnesses (especially psycogenic ones) to remit, pain to
disappear, and acomplishments to be acheived despite apparent

I don't think David is arguing against "positive thinking". He's
arguing against intentional "self-deceit".

I wish I had a copy of Sagan's "Demon-haunted World" (it's at
home). The intro to one of his chapter quotes a story that goes like

Say you are the owner of an ship filled with emigrants to the New
World. It's an old ship, and you know it's had many problems and
undergone numerous overhauls. It takes on water and the bilge-
pumps have failed on occasion. You there might not be enough
life boats and that whole ship might not be seaworthy.

On the other hand, you need the money. Repairing the ship would
be a great expense. Despite your fears you decide to let her sail.
She has gone out and returned before, right? You trust Providence
and BELIEVE that ship will safely arrive at her destination.

She sinks.

The one thing you can conclude is that you were morally responsible
for those people's deaths. You might have earnestly believed that
ship would make it, you might have had unshakeable faith.

But you believed DESPITE significant evidence to the contrary.
You decieved yourself willfully in order to accomplish your goal
(in this case, to remain solvent). That willful false belief, or
intentional self-deceit is what, I believe David is arguing against

I think this is what he means when he says "Beliefs might effect
reality, but they do not determine it". No matter how much
faith you have in that ship IT WASN'T SEAWORTHY. Your
faith or lack thereof is irrelevant, except that the false belief in
it's soundness has lead to many deaths.

Well, you ask, how do we know if our beliefs are true or false,
maybe based upon the balance of evidence I decided that ship
was sound. These are the kinds of questions that lead to endless
litigation over negligence. This is the question raised in the
Challenger disaster. Were the persons in charge of the launch
at NASA negligent? Maybe, maybe not.

If a Christian Scientist believes praying over their child will
cure dysentery, is this a belief we should advocate? More
that a belief in antibiotic medicine?


Reed Konsler