Changing your beliefs

The posed the question:

What have you changed your mind about?  And why?

Self-introspection and confessions of change are very useful.  Before listing some of confessions of the great thinkers at The Edge, let me confess some of my own changes of belief over the years:

  • Acupuncture is an amazingly powerful medical treatment –> NOT
  • Homeopathy works –> NOT
  • Christianity is the answer and Jesus is the way –> NOT
  • Marxism is the answer for the world –> NOT
  • Belief is an all or nothing thing –> NOT

If you get a chance below, please tell us what you use to believe but don’t now.

Now for the Greats !  Hopefully some will want to go to the site and read the details:

  • Memory is stored once –> Memory is constantly recreated.
    Joseph LeDoux, neuroscientist
  • Analogies can explain anything –> NOT
    Piet Hut, astrophysics
  • Perception is useful to the extent it is veridical –> Perception is useful because it is NOT veridical
    Donald Hoffman, cognitive scientist
  • Cultural relativist –> NOT
    Timothy Taylor, archaeologist
  • Mathematical Platonist –> NOT
    Keith Devlin, mathematician
  • Newborns are blank slates –> NOT;  Sexual Orientation is natural –> NOT
    David G. Myers, social psychologist
  • Adult brain does not make new neurons –> Does too !
    Robert Sapolshy, neuroscientist
  • The machinery that allows humans to learn language is “special” –> NOT
    —  Gary Marucs, psychologist
  • Quantum reality is timeless –> Time is real
    Lee Smolin, physicist
  • Science guaranteed ethical behavior  –> NOT
    Ken Ford, physicist
  • Sex Differences are socially constructed –> True but biology is huge
    Diane Halpern, Psychologist
  • Laws of physics are immutable –> NOT
    Paul Davies, physicist
  • Rational thinking would eventual eradicate irrational thinking and supernatural beliefs –> NOT
    Marco Iacoboni, neuroscientist
  • Skepticism is primarily an intellectual virtue, whose goal was truth –> Nope, it is used as a weapon
    Rupert Sheldrake, biologist
  • I once trusted in the wisdom of Nature  –> Mother Nature is not our Friend
    Sam Harris, neuroscience
  • Scientific literature is respected and builds  –> New scientific ideas can be smothered with silence
    Robart Shapiro, chemist
  • I should trust the consensus of experts in disciplines outside my area of expertise  –> Much of scientific opinion and even more of medical opinion fall into the murky area circumscribed by a lack of adequate knowledge about the processes at hand.
    Paul Ewald, biologist
  • I use to believe and prove the Paranormal  –> Now I prove it false
    Susan Blackmore, psychologist
  • I used to believe that you could find out what is true by finding the smartest people and finding out what they think.  –> However, the most brilliant people keep turning out to be wrong.
    Randolph Nesse, psychiatrist

Note:  This is only a partial list stripped of their interesting essays. Here is a link to the book version if you don’t like reading on-line.  The Edge has also written on other questions — see here.   My previous post lists samples of answers to the question, “What do I believe that I can not prove?”.


Filed under Critical Thinking, Philosophy & Religion

16 responses to “Changing your beliefs

  1. Cally

    Excellent site. Thank you.

  2. •Acupuncture is an amazingly powerful medical treatment –> NOT(Sabio)

    Im curious, do you feel it is totally non effective then?

  3. I have many amazing stories about acupuncture which I should post sometime. Meanwhile, double-blind testing (hard to do) has not revealed amazing effects for multiple issues. And I personally know it did NOT help balance my Ying and Yang. Smile.

  4. Im not sure that answered my question though. 😉

  5. There is lots of stuff on acupuncture out there for your reading pleasure. Go check Schermer, Pharyngula, Amazing Randi, NIH and PubMed.

  6. I realize that Sabio, I was curious on what your brain thinks about it. Why so coy?

  7. Nick


    Government is good and beneficial and the best way to handle some problems —-> NOT

    Some of the ones you listed are intriguing. Marco Iacoboni’s is a bit depressing. I think I’ll read a few of the essay’s.

  8. I used to believe acupuncture would cure anything. Now I know that it doesn’t cure a thing but…

    It is a very good pain reliever and it doesn’t harm you like pharmaceuticals do.

    So acupuncture won’t cure me of anything, but when the symptoms can be controlled while the body heals naturally, if it will, then it is awesome.

    I used to believe in the power of prayer — Now I believe in the power of the brain.

  9. @ Nick
    I agree with Iaconboni and it is part of the theme of this blog. Bruce Hood’s new book “SuperSense” speaks of the same. Superstitious heuristics are imbedded in the human mind. They are virtually unescapable. The question is, what sort of cultures and educations should we build for these minds.

    @T4T – The acupuncture story is too long to get into on this thread. E-mail me if you have other questions please.

    @ Lorena — I agree. Thanx for stopping in !

  10. So acupuncture won’t cure me of anything, but when the symptoms can be controlled while the body heals naturally, if it will, then it is awesome.(Lorena)

    Interestingly enough, do any therapies actually cure you? I think their main function is to act as catalysts to help the body heal itself. I would imagine that is exactly what most pharmaceuticals main function is too. I work in Health care and I never tell my patients I will fix or cure them, I just tell them I hope I am a good catalyst to help the body help itself.

  11. @ T4T – Yes, some therapies actually cure you.

  12. T4T & Sabio

    The only therapies that have ever helped me are those that use diet and exercise to help me. However, if I go back to eating bad stuff, I get sick again. So it isn’t really a cure. It’s a lifestyle choice.

    Most other cures, like antibiotics & organ removal, get rid of one problem and create another.

  13. @ T4T – Yes, some therapies actually cure you.(Sabio)

    My bad, I erred on the absolute of “Any” therapies. I should have said “do most therapies actually cure you”

  14. At my site Paleo Notes I am taking notes about my experimentation at remaking my body a bit with diet and exercise stuff. This involves new genetic expressions — the “new” field of epigenetics describes this well.
    But often, things go very bad and we need therapies that go very much against the body !

  15. Pingback: Common Sense Atheism » Intro to Logic: Changing Your Mind

  16. Pingback: Memory and Symbolic Thought « Ataraxia and Mental Effluents

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