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Old 11th November 2012, 04:49 AM   #1
bit_pattern
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Cognitive dissonance: what woo do you do?

I'm interested in how puritan people are when it comes to scepticism. Will anyone admit to having biases that work for them in life but know do not stand up to critical analysis? If so, are you comfortable with the cognitive dissonance?

For example, I tend towards belief in reincarnation, I don't think its a provable hypothesis either way but in my experience of reality (particularly certain altered states) reincarnation just makes dense to me.

Also, I tend to think some supernatural entities may exist, not physically speaking (I'm not looking for Bigfoot for instance) but I think the mind is capable of accessing different levels of reality and, in my experience, they can be inhabited by what appear to be intelligent personalities (again, altered states, I've experienced these sorts of things from certain hallucinogenic tryptamines, been years now but I'm still struck by the depth and power of the experiences). I'm sure this stuff can be rationalised any number of ways, and my conclusions subject yo any number of biases - but I'm still happy to believe what I do.

So do other sceptics happily live with cognitive dissonance, or am I just another woo tragic?
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Old 11th November 2012, 04:55 AM   #2
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There have been occasions where I've been alone in the dark and I've become nervous of the idea of ghosts or malevolent aliens, despite rationally knowing that I was being more than silly. That's about as close as I think I get, certainly when it comes to things like the paranormal. Of course I have the same cognitive biases as everybody else, and I'd be incredibly surprised if I caught them all in myself, but I do try to eliminate them from my thinking as much as possible, and I do hold some opinions where my reason contradicts my gut instincts and so I ignore what my gut tells me.

I also gave prayer a try once when I was a kid, but felt bloody stupid immediately afterwards.
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Old 11th November 2012, 04:57 AM   #3
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Um... well, I collect the Transformers toys and I have a firm belief that if I don't buy one I want when I first see it in a store, I'll never find there again. But given Hasbro's treatment of the UK market, this may be less of a silly superstition and more of a plain statement of fact.
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Old 11th November 2012, 05:41 AM   #4
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I reckon I'm going to regret posting drunk when I wake up tomorrow :sly:
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Old 11th November 2012, 05:43 AM   #5
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I think I can honestly say to not have a single superstition. Becoming a skeptic was a decision for me, and I went all the way. I can say I live a woo-free life.


@Sledge- as a SW collector with many collecting friends from the UK, I hear you...

Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
Um... well, I collect the Transformers toys and I have a firm belief that if I don't buy one I want when I first see it in a store, I'll never find there again. But given Hasbro's treatment of the UK market, this may be less of a silly superstition and more of a plain statement of fact.
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Old 11th November 2012, 06:12 AM   #6
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I don't know if this really addresses your OP, but I wrote this post a while back meant to deal with misuse of the term cognitive dissonance.
The Cognitive Mechanisms of 9/11 Conspiracy Beliefs
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Old 11th November 2012, 06:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Greedo View Post
I think I can honestly say to not have a single superstition. Becoming a skeptic was a decision for me, and I went all the way. I can say I live a woo-free life.


@Sledge- as a SW collector with many collecting friends from the UK, I hear you...
It was a decision for me too. I changed sides fully when I was 16, a couple of years before I met Randi (or had even heard of him) and we became friends, while reading a book about psychic experiments and claims. Specifically, it was reading a chapter in the book about Ted Serios that triggered my mind. I put the book back on the shelf, left the library, considered the entire topic of woo for a few hours, and realized that it was all a delusion.
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Old 11th November 2012, 07:43 AM   #8
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I think personal experience confounds a lot of people.

I have problems with hypnagogic and hypnapompic hallucinations at night, and with lucid dreams, many of them terrifying. Most of them involve some kind of demonic supernatural presence and it sometimes takes me a long time to talk myself down from the belief that something demonic and real just happened. It does mess with my head.
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Old 11th November 2012, 07:52 AM   #9
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:12 AM   #10
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I still say "knock on wood" to avoid bad luck, even though I know knocking on wood or saying the words don't do anything. I did it on Friday, as a matter of fact. Our middle son is battling a kidney infection and my husband called to ask how he was doing and I said "we're past the worst of it, knock on wood".
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by bit_pattern View Post

For example, I tend towards belief in reincarnation, I don't think its a provable hypothesis either way but in my experience of reality (particularly certain altered states) reincarnation just makes dense to me.
Freudian slip?
I'm a screen toucher on video gaming machines. Stupid ineffective mini rituals.
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:40 AM   #12
Squeegee Beckenheim
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Originally Posted by Lisa Simpson View Post
I still say "knock on wood" to avoid bad luck, even though I know knocking on wood or saying the words don't do anything. I did it on Friday, as a matter of fact. Our middle son is battling a kidney infection and my husband called to ask how he was doing and I said "we're past the worst of it, knock on wood".
I do that (well, "touch wood", rather than "knock on") sometimes, but it's only ever been a phrase or behaviour for me. I don't think I even knew that it was supposed to be lucky until many years after I'd been doing it. For me, the sentence you said above translates directly as "we're past the worst of it, I hope". I'll also occasionally say "God willing", despite having been an atheist my entire life.

So, for me at least, it doesn't count as the same thing as in the OP or my earlier post, because there's no superstition attached to it as far as I'm concerned. No more than, say, using the word "Thursday" implies a belief in the Norse pantheon.

And, of course, if there's no wood handy, then my (or someone else's) head will do nicely.
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Old 11th November 2012, 09:14 AM   #13
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I say "touch wood" and "thank god for small favors" but I don't really mean it literally it's a habit.

I have a loathing of supposedly rational thinkers who sit around being critical of woo they don't believe in and then you find out they have their own special woo.

Ex. Agnostics and Buddhists who trash religious beliefs

People who claim there's some sort of order to the universe based on the perspective of human understanding.

This is a huge part of the problem I have with any sort of "scientific research" that requires the results to be interpreted by a person. To me the minute a person interprets it, it's open to bias.

In general no one understands what I mean about that because it's such a prevailing sense of cognitive dissonance.
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Old 11th November 2012, 09:32 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bit_pattern View Post
... but I think the mind is capable of accessing different levels of reality and, in my experience, they can be inhabited by what appear to be intelligent personalities (again, altered states, I've experienced these sorts of things from certain hallucinogenic tryptamines, been years now but I'm still struck by the depth and power of the experiences). I'm sure this stuff can be rationalised any number of ways, and my conclusions subject yo any number of biases - but I'm still happy to believe what I do.

So do other sceptics happily live with cognitive dissonance, or am I just another woo tragic?
.
I'll go for the mind experiencing different levels of reality, but those different levels don't exist except for the brief moment of time they fly through the mind.
The mental experiences can lead to the creation of a physical reality which now includes the thought made solid of what the mind came up with.
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Old 11th November 2012, 10:22 AM   #15
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When I was about eight, I read that putting on your right shoe first would make your journey be better. Fourty-some years later, I still ALWAYS put my right shoe on first. Admittedly, it's more of an OCD thing now.
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Old 11th November 2012, 11:18 AM   #16
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I buy lottery tickets. I'm not aware of any other total woo beliefs I have though I may have some I'm not aware of.
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Old 11th November 2012, 11:19 AM   #17
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I'm a monarchist.

Just don't ask.

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Old 11th November 2012, 11:34 AM   #18
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I think the only thing I have is optimism that the human race WON'T trash this planet and kill themselves off, although available evidence suggests otherwise.
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Old 11th November 2012, 12:00 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
There have been occasions where I've been alone in the dark and I've become nervous of the idea of ghosts or malevolent aliens, despite rationally knowing that I was being more than silly...
Yeah, but that one's based on a rational evolutionarily-beneficial response, that in the dark you can't see what's creeping up on you, so you become extra-wary and nervous. The only comfort is that anything that really means you harm will stalk you silently.

I still cling to the hope that science will come down on the side of glucosamine being beneficial for dogs.
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Old 11th November 2012, 12:04 PM   #20
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I still believe that Sylvester McCoy was an underrated Doctor Who. Despite the evidence offered by actually watching his episodes.
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Old 11th November 2012, 12:22 PM   #21
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When I cut my finger or toenails, I always collect the clippings and bury them in the garden.

This is because I have an extreme fear of what would happen to me, should my wife find one in the bed or the shower.
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Old 11th November 2012, 12:43 PM   #22
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The only cases I can think of myself only involve value judgements which have no absolute right or wrong. As a kid I developed a compulsive aversion to stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, from the saying: "Step on a crack and break your mother's back". After finding it so awkward to try and break myself from it, I finally succeeded by deciding to step on every crack. Still took a little while.
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Old 11th November 2012, 12:43 PM   #23
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More seriously: Saluting Magpies and saying one for sorrow, two for a boy, etc. More because I find it quaint than expecting any result.
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Old 11th November 2012, 01:08 PM   #24
Squeegee Beckenheim
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Originally Posted by Tiktaalik View Post
Yeah, but that one's based on a rational evolutionarily-beneficial response, that in the dark you can't see what's creeping up on you, so you become extra-wary and nervous. The only comfort is that anything that really means you harm will stalk you silently.
Oh, I know that there's a sound biological reason, but the things that I get nervous about in those situations are down to my culture. And it's still irrational nervousness about things that I don't believe exist.
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Old 11th November 2012, 01:09 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
I still believe that Sylvester McCoy was an underrated Doctor Who. Despite the evidence offered by actually watching his episodes.
That's just because you're sensible, though.

I think 6 and 7 are the two most interesting Doctors, and I can't imagine anyone else playing them.
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Old 11th November 2012, 01:18 PM   #26
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The new Dr Who's, in my opinion, are barely worth watching.. anything from 7 on down is pretty awesome.

Superstitions...

I buy lotto tickets every so often. It allows me to dream of being rich so I don't know if it's superstition, wishful thinking or what.

I have a number of tiny rituals, but I don't know if it's belief or being a bit compulsive.

I'm more agnostic than skeptic though.. so I tend to observe and wait to see if there is proof of something. I tend to say that everything is possible, but not everything is equally plausible.
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Old 11th November 2012, 02:11 PM   #27
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I have a high respect for hunches. When I have that vague feeling that something just isn't right I'll try to find out why.
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Old 11th November 2012, 04:19 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Lisa Simpson View Post
I still say "knock on wood" to avoid bad luck, even though I know knocking on wood or saying the words don't do anything. I did it on Friday, as a matter of fact. Our middle son is battling a kidney infection and my husband called to ask how he was doing and I said "we're past the worst of it, knock on wood".
I do that too, and don't really feel comfortable if I can't find any wood to knock on (somebody up above said it's kind of an OCD thing, and that's how it feels to me too.) I also throw a pinch of salt over my left shoulder if I spill some.
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Old 11th November 2012, 04:31 PM   #29
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Being a serious baseball fan I have all manner of goofy superstitions, rally caps, claps...etc that make the team win every single time they win! When they lose, it's the manager's fault!
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Old 11th November 2012, 04:42 PM   #30
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Poltergeist activity- Experienced it on several different occasions with other witnesses present some of those times. It exists but I don't know how or why. I don't immediately jump on the spirit band wagon as an explanation, I simply live with " I don't know" on that one.
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Old 11th November 2012, 04:47 PM   #31
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When I want something good to happen, I cross my fingers. If I really, really want it to happen, I cross fingers on both hands and the little fingers with the ring fingers too for extra strength. Probably it's just a way to dissipate anxiety.
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Old 11th November 2012, 05:22 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
That's just because you're sensible, though.

I think 6 and 7 are the two most interesting Doctors, and I can't imagine anyone else playing them.
6 and 7 - that's about how old I was last time I played Doctors too!
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Old 11th November 2012, 06:17 PM   #33
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I'm terrified of being abducted by aliens. I don't actually believe in aliens or abductions, but I get regular episodes of sleep paralysis, and even the idea of hallucinating an abduction scares me.
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Old 11th November 2012, 07:10 PM   #34
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I belong to a group lottery at work from which I cannot pull myself free.
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I know it. I just do!
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Old 11th November 2012, 07:23 PM   #35
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I still believe in recycling.
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:00 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by bit_pattern View Post
I'm interested in how puritan people are when it comes to scepticism. Will anyone admit to having biases that work for them in life but know do not stand up to critical analysis? If so, are you comfortable with the cognitive dissonance?
I think most people are guilty of cognitive dissonance at times. Certainly I am. If I am annoyed with someone, I might think the worst of them, and believe the worst that is said about them, without troubling myself as to how much of it is really true.
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Old 11th November 2012, 08:25 PM   #37
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I believe that if I state a wish in positive language, and do so with a lot of emotion behind it, the wish will come to pass. (Mind you, I tend to wish for such things as getting a box set of the entire Max Headroom series.)

I've also been known to trace protective runes in the air at the front and back doors before going to bed, especially if the mood outside has been a bit ugly (grumpy people in the shops, road rage, or other forms of aggression or rowdiness).
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Old 11th November 2012, 09:50 PM   #38
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Silly superstitions ,like some folks in a particular Asian country smoking 555 cigarettes , coz it'll bring you LUCK if you smoke 'em......
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Old 11th November 2012, 10:01 PM   #39
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In my culture, it's bad luck to name a baby before it's been born. I've given up all superstitions, but if someone pats their belly and refers to the fetus by name, I grit my teeth in pain.
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Old 11th November 2012, 10:29 PM   #40
bikerdruid
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
I still believe that Sylvester McCoy was an underrated Doctor Who. Despite the evidence offered by actually watching his episodes.
i like sylvester mccoy...and ace is cool.
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