Re: virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose

Tim Rhodes (
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 23:23:47 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 12 Nov 1997, David McFadzean wrote:

> I don't think I ever said faith doesn't have a use. I've seen
> faith comfort people after a personal loss. Wearing my cynical
> glasses, I see faith memes gathering around events involving death
> and destruction like sharks at a feeding frenzy. Is it necessary
> to believe something that is false in order to find comfort? I
> don't believe it is.

I wish I could agree with you, but my experiences helping others calls
that belief into question.

> >I guess my question is, can you combat an emotional appeal with a strictly
> >intellectual one? Effectively, that is. If so, how is it done?
> Yes it can. You have to appeal to whatever rationality is present
> to make rationality memes more powerful in the belief system, and
> the opposing memes less influential.

How does this work in the short term. Over time you may be right, but
what about today? What about right now?

I'll give you a real f#&king world example: A friend of mine called me
last night. His uncle was just diagnosed with cancer, twelve small tumors
in the brain and two larger ones in his lungs. He called me for comfort.
What is the rational response?

> >Science can't lie to reach its goals, but art is all about useful and
> >purposeful deceptions. If you'd like to help me see the art in science,
> >however, I'm game.
> If scientific theories aren't True with a capital T, then what are they?

That was my point. True, capital T or no, limits you. You may be okay
with that limitation in ever aspect of your life. I am not. Sometimes I
find it useful and rational to behave in a manner that is based on
assumptions I know are not true, beliefs without a rational basis.

An interesting point, clinicly depressed individuals routinely rate
their own personal power and abilities more accurately than non-depressed

Truth is not always power.

-Prof. Tim