Articulation, belief, and intuition

     Recently this video was brought to my attention.  It found it helpful to hear the narrator think through the issues he discusses because it shows another person's thinking process as he approaches the issues of the present time.  One insight in particular that I thought was good is that he mentioned that you do not have to know in detail how all the algorithms of Twitter work to know that it is a net negative for many people that use it.  

    And of course this goes far beyond Twitter.  I haven't been able to locate this quote, but in either one of his books or on his blog, Edward Feser mentioned Richard Dawkins's famous statement in his book The God Delusion that Dawkins hoped his book would convert any religious person who read it to atheism.  Feser made the point that in general, that isn't the way people change their beliefs.  It is rare to have a single, definitive experience or argument that changes one's beliefs (Saint Paul would be one of the classics examples).  Rather, over a period of time, lots of little things add up and after a while, one realizes one has changed their beliefs.  C.S. Lewis writes about this in his autobiography Surprised by Joy.  He mentions the process of becoming a Christian and writes the following about the moment of conversion, while traveling to the Whipsnade zoo with his brother: 

    "I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken.  I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning.  When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.  Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought.  Nor in great emotion.  Emotional is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events.  It was more like when a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake."

    And what this means is that, frequently, when asked about why one believes or disbelieves something, one can give one reason or a few reasons, but none of them will be convincing to the questioner.  Partly because no reason was convincing by itself and partly also because one cannot present the experience of a process of months or years in minutes.  Another reason is that different people find different reasons convincing.  

    The important thing is that it is possible to know that one has good reasons for a belief but to not be able to articulate them or convince with them for a variety of reasons.  

    And this has particular relevance to the present time.  The System has all kinds of easily articulable reasons for everything.  They have statistics, canned responses, supposed experts, etc.  And so, it is easy for someone to give a reason for why they believe the System point of view.  In terms of validity, the reason may be completely worthless, and it may even just be for someone to convince themself, but the psychological effect of having ready answers for everything can be very powerful.  

    Also, because there is so much that it is difficult to know for sure about various issues (because we don't have personal experience of them), it isn't always easy to give a reason why we view something as good or bad.  

    And this particularly relates to the peck.  I believe that in some people minds, the connection of the peck to cloned fetal cells functioned in this way.  It is true that it shows the extraordinary level of corruption within medical research, but because this is a specific, articulable reason for opposition to the peck, many people both for and against wrote as if it was the only reason.  That if this reason could be refuted, then there would be no more grounds for opposition to the peck.  But, not only is this not the only reason for opposition to the peck, opposition goes beyond merely a list of reasons.  

    It really comes down to intuition and discernment.  One can know that the peck is wrong and can have reasons to believe it, but the opposition really comes from the understanding that comes from and goes beyond those specific enumeration of reasons.  

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