An intriguing, but not very rigorous, preliminary study on one aspect of "denialism".

"Scientific impotence" has been coined by psychologists to describe a phenomenon where a significant segment of the population rejects validated scientific data due to various pre-existing biases, such as religion (of course), political stance, or plain economics and their hip pocket. What differentiates the "scientific impotent" from common denialists or outright anti-science loons is that they maintain that they themselves are not anti-science and in fact take offense at the suggestion that they are. Article from Arstechnica -

When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent

It's hardly a secret that large segments of the population choose not to accept scientific data because it conflicts with their predefined beliefs: economic, political, religious, or otherwise. But many studies have indicated that these same people aren't happy with viewing themselves as anti-science, which can create a state of cognitive dissonance. That has left psychologists pondering the methods that these people use to rationalize the conflict.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology takes a look at one of these methods, which the authors term "scientific impotence"—the decision that science can't actually address the issue at hand properly. It finds evidence that not only supports the scientific impotence model, but suggests that it could be contagious. Once a subject has decided that a given topic is off limits to science, they tend to start applying the same logic to other issues.

The actual study itself is not hot linkable to to cookie weirdness, but can be found at Wiley
if you search for "123328312". The article is not a
freebie, unless someone has member access -

The Scientific Impotence Excuse:
Discounting Belief-Threatening Scientific Abstracts

Abstract: The scientific impotence discounting hypothesis predicts that people
resist belief-disconfirming scientific evidence by concluding that the
topic of study is not amenable to scientific investigation. In 2
studies, participants read a series of brief abstracts that either
confirmed or disconfirmed their existing beliefs about a stereotype
associated with homosexuality. Relative to those reading
belief-confirming evidence, participants reading belief-disconfirming
evidence indicated more belief that the topic could not be studied
scientifically and more belief that a series of other unrelated topics
could not be studied scientifically. Thus, being presented with
belief-disconfirming scientific evidence may lead to an erosion of
belief in the efficacy of scientific methods.

Tags: antiscience, denialism, loons, scientific impotence

Views: 111

Replies to This Discussion

This could be a new definition for "belief". If you "believe" in something, new data is of no interest to you. I'm finding more and more wisdom in Robert Anton Wilson's statement that "belief is the death of intellect" - he's permutated that in quite a few quotes.
We all have cognitive dissonance to some degree. It may be in regard to something minor/insignificant which makes it easier to not notice it but odds are you have experienced it.
I like to think I don't do this at all but I know I have and probably will again. Personally, I think it is a psychological defense mechanism that has been gradually outliving it's usefulness.
Cognitive dissonance: Would it be okay if someone tortured your pet? No? Then why is it okay if a pig is tortured in order to get bacon on your plate?

This is not at all in an aggressive tone.

I completely agree with your comment above, Mike, and have the same feelings and thoughts about the disconnect.

The majority of the time meat eaters will become defensive, or even aggressive when they find out I'm vegetarian. This is without me saying a word about the fact they are a carnivore. It's quite interesting.
Not at all two different subjects. Take out the emotional equation - okay, pet type animals in general, not specifically yours, or meat type animals. Don't you think we should be eating both (or neither).
Actually, we'd be omnivores. I don't particularly care about the debate over what the best diet for the planet/people. Like everything else each side has pros and cons. All humans can not become vegetarian even if they wanted to. The logistics alone are mind boggling. It is definitely true that current way we produce food whether produce or livestock is not sustainable and is at best ethically questionable. That also includes what can now be labeled "organic." Not sure this is an example of cognitive dissonance but I see how it could be depending on perspective. :)
Cognitive dissonance: Those that nitpick over ethical fine points about animals on plates rarely stop to consider the ethical fine points of dealing with their fellow humans.

That the pure and good ethical eaters keep throwing in this strawman of -

Would it be okay if someone tortured your pet? No? Then why is it okay if a pig is tortured in order to get bacon on your plate?

at every opportunity is tiring, and there is nothing more annoying than when they then whine about hostility and defensiveness of carnivores on top of it. Maybe if you'd stop injecting this irrelevant bullshit everywhere, there wouldn't be a problem. It's like muslims whining about islamophobia.
that's funny, because you (felch) had just sent me this:

which is why it was on my mind.

This has nothing to do with being a "good and ethical eater" this is purely about cognitive dissonance. I'm calmly making a point. I concede that my first version of your dog verses a random pig may not have been the best example. I am not angry, nor am I whining.

Phil, who is discussing veganism? I'm not even a vegan. This is about the world around us, whether you like the subject matter on not. picking out what you choose to follow in the bible and ignoring the other bits, is very much like saying you love animals while eating a hamburger.

oh and felch, I hardly bring this us at every opportunity. I almost never mention it on A|N. And I was not talking about my "fellow humans", there is plenty of cognitive dissonance going on between human interaction as well, but that was not the subject of my response here.

For everyone else, felch and I have love spats here and there, this is one of them. We always make up with virtual angry sex which we look forward to with baited breath.
Also this is a complete de-rail from the topic at hand. I apologise for that. I had a contemplative morning and Phil's original response here caused an almost uncontrollable need to bring up what I did.

Carry on, I'll respond to the OP subject here in a bit.

I apologise for using you as my starting point. It was this:

I've never had this cognitive dissonance (that I'm aware of).

that immediately made me thing of the disconnect in most meat eaters. I usually keep it to myself, but that comment made me want to give you an example. It was not about animal rights, or deriding you for being a meat-eater, or anyone else for that matter, I believe it certainly is cognitive dissonance, but we all have that disability in one form or another, we are human, after all. We (skeptics) are clearly better off than the religious, and the woo-heads, we have superior thinking skills. I apologise for the derail, and I in no way was singling you out, Phil. I'm sorry if it seemed that way.
I don't understand how anyone could possibly think that they do not overlap, be it Stephen J. Gould, or the scientists who are theists.

After I posted the original comment, I went to look and see if you were in the vegetarian group, I thought you were in that group.
The cartoon to me demonstrated the ludicrousness of not eating dog, rather than the ethical evil of eating pig. In any case, the comparison is a non-sequitur. Pigs have been engineered by selective breeding for thousands of years to be of no use for anything other than eating. Not so the non-freak dogs, as can be seen by the success of feral dogs in the wild. Dump a farmed pig in the middle of a forest and will not last very long. This is also an appeal to emotion sweetikins. You really are supposed to be above that.

There is no cognitive dissonance in eating meat and owning pets. There is only fabricated false dichotomy. The only real hard decision about this I face at the moment is whether to fist fuck tonight's chicken with lemon and pine nut stuffing, or dismember it with a cleaver like some Ed Gein wannabe and do a cacciatore.
Not to worry Phil, felch and I are good friends, (we really do have virtual angry sex after these love spats) and I have a very tough hide, but thank you.


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