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Dualism, Fuzzy Theories, Fuzzy Evidence, and the Psychology of Belief--jk



From an instructive lesson to insights on how many dualists view the world


Dualism opens a pandora's jar of conclusions, such as homeopathy--jk




How can people believe in treatments that do not have a demonstrated physiological system to account for its claimed successes?  Such people believe in the duality of the world.  Thus molecules, the body, and the mind all partake in both a physical and spiritual modalities.  To show that there is no physical system in molecules by which the one molecule of a substance can affect the nature of water misses their point.  For homeopathy, they believe the spiritual dimension of the water is affected and in this dimension it can interact with the human bodies’ spiritual dimension of the human body to produce curative results.   Thus that a homeopathic product can produce no measurable physical response is irrelevant, for they believe it has produced changes in the spiritual dimension of matter and also of the person taking this water. 


This of course invites question about the spiritual dimension:  its existence, its modus operandi, and knowledge of this interaction.  It is not for the materialist to show that there is no spiritual dimension, for this would be a fool’s errand, but rather for the dualist to present their case.  In response they claim to observe 1) that Kirilian photography reveal the psychic seeing auras of things, 2) that quantum mechanics proves that there are spiritual forces, and 3) that they can at times actually feel (tune into) changes made by the spiritual upon the physical.  Moreover, like with science based medications and treatments, they list numerous case histories of success.


These claims do not stand up to investigation by medical scientists skeptical of such treatments:  they are no more effective than those produced through the placebo effect.  However, this does not change beliefs, for those into alternative medicine rely upon its own body of theories and studies, and the believer has self-observations and observed in others the success and effects of alternative medicines and treatments.  They hold that the critical results of medical scientists investigating homeopathy are flawed, and they insinuate that financial interests are its ultimate cause.    


The Parallels

What occurs with alternative medicine also occurs with religious miracles, with creationism, with parapsychology, with remote viewings, with Freudian psychiatry, and with theological and religious claims among others.  It starts with a dualistic belief about the nature of things coupled with a claim of knowledge thereof.  A theory (which has dualistic elements) in support of the phenomena is developed.  The standards of evidence are lowered for to include observations that conform to the results predicted by the theory.  A many facet body of verbal behavior develops in support of miracles, creationism, parapsychology, Freudian psychiatric, etc.  What has been develops in science, also develops in pseudoscience, both for the same reasons. 


A similar development occurs for themes which lack a dualistic hypothesis, such as the claim that there were Negro pharos and that the Greeks wisdom was taken from Egypt, that the Jewish holocaust never happened, that spinal adjustments can fix assorted illnesses, that aliens crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, to name a few current examples.  In these cases it is the evidential foundation that is adjusted to fit the beliefs.   When experts in the field dispute the claims of these fringes, they are accused of having a hidden agenda such as not wanting to scare the public over aliens, glorify Caucasians at the expense of the Negro race, and create sympathy for the Jews. 


          There are hundreds of examples of beliefs (quack beliefs) contrary to a well-developed and supported body of evidence exist.  Many of these quack beliefs involve a contradiction to extraordinarily robust theories of science, such as evolution and that the fact the brain produces all human behavior.  Many others are troubled by the numerous variations.  How many gods are there and true religions?   Which psychiatric theory of the mind is best?   Whic combination of herbs best treats menstrual cramps?  Why do people adopt a quack beliefs over a sound alternative?  Something is amiss.  


The Behavioral Foundation

The ultimate answer as to why people believe weird things is not in the nature of the beliefs, but rather in the nature of man. Man is an animal with verbal behavior.  Conditioning patterns result in people for the sake of reinforcers becoming part of groups that exhibit weird beliefs.  They then learn the verbal behavior--through peer conditioning--of the group, and also when dealing with those not part of their group.  Thus in the group they talk about the uses of various homeopathic preparations, and outside the group they explain how the small amount of a substance imparts special properties to the water.  Verbal behavior is part of what accompanies a quack belief.  There is also the purchase and use of homeopathic “drugs”, the use of a dousing rod, and like.  Unlike the cat, we can talk about the drug and the rod.  Humans are capable of many foolish things.  . 


The brain processes which causes a person to drive to the mall, is also in kind the same which causes him go to a herbalist.  And the behavioral process which permits prudent business decisions is like in kind that which results in imprudent treatment choices.  Quack belief is an accompanying part of the imprudent behavior.  Behavior and belief, their causes are found in the long and complex history of reinforcements of each individual.  Since in a society, or subgroup thereof, there are similar patterns of reinforcement and history, it is--as to be expected—that individual whose parents are part of a group have a large percentage of their progeny become part of the group.  Behavior is connected to each person’s history of reinforcements. 


Believing in weird things is only the verbal dressing upon doing weird things.  Thus the obese person verbally dresses his weight by talking of stress, and the person who takes homeopathic medicines dresses his with talk of duality and case examples of successful treatment.    Thoughts and discourse of course play an important role in the process of a given type of behavior, sometimes even coming before physical acts.  However, they are not what drives the engine of behavior, for if they were, where do they come from (the infinite regress objection)?  Rather the complex selection process which produces all our behavior produces all our thoughts.  This process is grounded in the nature of man and operant conditioning.  There is a complex, multi-regional brain process which produces all behaviors. 


Beliefs conform through conditioning to logical analysis.  Schooling and peer conditioning reinforces the analytic process. Rigorousness varies.  Individual circumstances reinforce varying degrees of rigor in the analytic process for different types of behavior, such as those governing religion, medicine, drug usage, etc.  Some people get a greater does of rigorous analysis and with fewer instances where its application has been modified.   


Can beliefs come first?  Sure, for beliefs are thoughts, and thoughts are silent whispers.  Moreover, they have their own realm, and they can grow one upon another.  Mechanical skills, for example, can grow from changing a starter to rebuilding an engine.  Thus a story of a trip to Mexico can grow into a novel about Mexico, the learning of Calculus can develop into application of calculus solving problems in engineer, and thoughts about the ethereal realm can develop into a belief in homeopathic medicine and the Catholic consubstantiation. 


The temporal order of thoughts, associations with believers, television programming and such in the development of beliefs quack beliefs misses the point.  Something is going on in the brain which gets one to the mall to buy a homeopathic preparation, associate with those into alternative medicine, and to learn the verbal behavior concerning homeopathic treatments.  In kind it is like the process which causes that same person to believe in naturalistic causes for weather and to play tennis once a week.  What produces driving the car today, this process produces all types of behavior.  What occurs, results from the genetic design, and in particular the pleasure and pain centers in the brain play a fundamental role in this selection process.   These centers being beyond detailed analysis, psychologist have developed an operational definitions for the interaction of environment and behavior.  This they label operant and respondent conditioning, satiation, shaping, and such.  The brain is the engine which drives behavior, and conditioning produces both the weird beliefs and the solidly supported beliefs.     


Features of Homeopathic Belief


1)  duality of matter


2)  spiritual modality can effect the physical


3)  the physical can effect the spiritual modality


4)  there are people who can tune into this modality and observe these changes, just as they can observe peoples’ auras


5)  there are numerous published papers (in their own journals) on the successes of alternative medicine



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