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Choice Blindness and Inconsistent Beliefs

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Unlike the thinking machines of science fiction, human beings can easily believe inconsistent (even contradictory) claims. I am confident I have many inconsistent beliefs and know that I have many false beliefs. This is because I have turned up such beliefs over the years—one of the benefits (or occupational hazards) of being a professional philosopher. I thus infer I have many left in my mind. I do not know which ones are false—if I knew, I would (I hope) stop believing them. Writing out my ideas, like this, is a help—other people can see my claims and subject them to critical assessment. If someone can honestly show that two of my beliefs are inconsistent (or contradictory) I consider that a gift—they are helping me weed the garden of my mind. But not everyone is grateful for this sort of help—although, to be fair, this can often be done from cruelty rather than honest concern. While most people do not write extensively about their beliefs, many people present their professed beliefs on social media, such as Facebook. Being a philosopher, I have the annoying trait of noting these claims and then assessing whether they can all be true. That is, I automatically check for logical inconsistency and contradictions. Two claims are inconsistent if they both cannot be true at the same time; but they could both be false. If two claims are contradictory, one must be false and the other true. As would be suspected, the political beliefs people profess are often inconsistent or even contradictory. I have, and perhaps so have you, seen relatively short Facebook posts putting forth sets of political claims that are inconsistent. As noted in my previous essay, the professed beliefs of Trump supporters about the pandemic often form such sets. It is a bit jarring to see a single post mock people who take the pandemic “hoax” seriously, assert that the “China Virus” is a dangerous bioweapon, and then finish things off with praise for Trump’s great handling of the pandemic and how. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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