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Posts posted by OGHoosier

  1. I've strongly considered joining the Masonic fraternity - at least ever since I watched National Treasure as a elementary school kid lol. That was even before I knew how significant Masonry was to my own faith and heritage. 

    4 hours ago, poptart said:

    I'll be honest, if I had an elder/Bishop etc. with a ring on his finger knock on my door?  He'd instantly get a + 25% credibility bonus, enhanced +3 if it was a mortality ring like this.

    Straight out of RPGs. What other items should I equip to max out my buffs when talking with you? I think my Persuasion stat isn't too low but the items can always help 😜

    @Calm When I was serving a couple years ago, a Mason ring would certainly not have been allowed. However, the handbook has been updated since then and I haven't kept up to speed with it. It would surprise me, however, if any mission president let their elders wear Masonic rings no matter the official handbook statements, just for the sake of the image alone. 

  2. 15 hours ago, rodheadlee said:

    My eyes were opened by reading the novel Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. It describes taking two generations to build a cathedral. Building all these Catholic cathedrals kept a lot of people busy for a long time. I believe they also led to some new important structural designs.

    Oh absolutely, Western aesthetics were carried in the womb of the cathedrals for centuries. They were far and away the most beautiful buildings in Europe for ages, particularly since even the palaces of nobility and royalty were built with practical defense in mind. Churches were the only buildings built explicitly to be beautiful, to be the Bibles of the poor, and we owe a great deal of our knowledge of architecture and engineering to the practice of cathedral construction. 

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  3. 8 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

    I agree. I will fully defend the cost of building beautiful cathedrals and chapels.

    Not gonna lie, it was actually going to Rome that helped me recognize this. I've grown up as an American low-churcher, fully buying into the whole "4-bare-walls-and-a-sermon" shtick which we have in our cookie-cutter meetinghouses. I fully bought into the narrative that the Catholic church had done wrong in spending so much money on churches. Ironically enough I didn't have the same response to Gilded Age robber baron mansions, with which I saw nothing wrong as a teenager. I guess that goes to show how much I had bought into that star-spangled American paradigm of Protestant-flavored capitalist humanism. By now things have entirely changed though. I wasn't prepared for the astonishing beauty of Italian churches and by the end of it I was compelled to admit that I didn't think it was a bad thing that such buildings and works of art were made. I couldn't. I had to acknowledge that they were good things. That led to a reformation in my nascent understanding of aesthetics and my convictions regarding the relationship of the society and the individual. 

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  4. 10 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

    LOL...you're being pedantic even with the use of the word pedantic...Oh my goodness, this is classic

    What can I say, I enjoy the classics ;)

    Careful though, I'm told some of those classical writers can be a bit pedantic. A greater crime against language or the mind can hardly be imagined. 

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  5. 1 hour ago, Fair Dinkum said:

    Oh Brother. 🙄 Now you've become pedantic.  Read the article and acknowledge what has actually taken place since President Nelson's address. The use of the word Mormon as a descriptor of ones membership in the church has shriveled and died since that day when he declared that the use of Mormon was forboden.    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/10/the-correct-name-of-the-church?lang=eng


    The appellation "pedantic" means nothing to me. 

    My argument is that the decline of the use of the word "Mormon" after President Nelson's talk does not mean that the use of the word is itself a victory for Satan, which you directly used as a point of ridicule. 

    Then again, I don't think it would it matter if it did.   

  6. 18 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

    Semantics, the proof is in the pudding.

    I'm generally fond of Wittgenstein, the curt dismissal of "semantics" won't work on me. 

    President Nelson understands that a multitude of small actions constitute a larger movement, and thus deemphasizing the name "Mormon" advances the general cause to which we ought to be dedicated. You've decided to make a reductio ad absurdum out of it, which requires you to connect two principles more closely together than they are for the punch line to hit home. @Scott Lloyd's point stands. 

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  7. I'm not going to discuss the relative merits or demerits of a Universal Basic Income because I think that strays too far towards politics for Nemesis' liking. 

    For me, I've lived a happy middle class lifestyle. I've only ever envied the wealthy in one respect...their houses. I am a lover of beautiful architecture. Whether it is Roman cathedrals or stately halls of government, business, or private residence, I've found that I'm very passionate about the construction and preservation of beautiful buildings. One of my favorite places to visit in the US is Newport, Rhode Island. I exult in touring the Gilded Age mansions there and I refuse to be ashamed of that delight, even though the current zeitgeist seems to mandate that nobody can enjoy the fruits of the myriad social evils (as we presently define them) in which the robber barons engaged. I'm with the Aristotelians and the Scruton-esque aestheticists in believing that beauty has its own intrinsic value and a society that does not appreciate it is declining. Some concentration of wealth is required to create beautiful things, as opposed to merely minimalist and functional ones, and I think such things are necessary. Whether that wealth needs to be concentrated in the hands of individuals or rather organizations with stewardships is another question. 

    With regard to the scriptures, I will merely note that the Lord did not object to the Nephites building a temple of fine craftsmanship and precious materials. He commanded the earlier Israelites to do so. Nor did He object, but was rather pleased by, the Saints sacrificing to build edifices of beauty in Kirtland and Nauvoo. I reject the assertion that resources spent on such things are wasted and I unequivocally reject the concept of the simple, unadorned society as the ideal. 

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  8. 32 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

    Really?  I guess that's why the we still have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,  Mormon.org, Mormon Newsroom and F.A.I.R. Mormon and why virtually every active member of the church continues to refer to themselves as a Mormon, oh wait none of that is true.  Mormon has been relegated to the trash heap and become a nasty word except when combined with the Book. Anyone referring to themselves as a Mormon will be quickly corrected.  Yes I've actually had this happen to me, when an elderly sister corrected me recently.  In fact this board is one of the few places that continues to use the term Mormon in its name, and I suspect that too will change as well.

    That's an equivocation. You're referring to the praxis of not referring to ourselves as Mormon and using that praxis as proof that "referring to ourselves as Mormon" is the same thing as "a victory for Satan." Those things aren't equivalent. @Scott Lloyd's point stands. 

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  9. 6 hours ago, california boy said:

    The honest truth is, I don't really trust the Church to treat LGBT fairly and honestly.  It is not like they have a good track record in that department.  

    And my expectation is that you will see exactly whatever you expect to see in this. It seems clear that your judgement is already made. 

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  10. 1 hour ago, Metis_LDS said:

    I am not a conspiracy kind of person.  I had a thought the other day that if you really believe the Book of Mormon you cannot state the following:                    All conspiracy theories are false.

    Sure you can. Once a conspiracy has been exposed, it ceases to be a conspiracy theory and is just a conspiracy. 

    Honestly, believers in plain reality can't really say that either. "The President of the United States is having operatives burgle the HQ of his political rivals" sounds like a super whacky conspiracy theory...until Watergate. 

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  11. 1 hour ago, california boy said:

    Of course not.  Did you think from my post that I did know?

    If you don't know how BYUtv thinks a gay character should be portrayed, how can you already be upset by it?

    And yet you did say:

    2 hours ago, california boy said:

     I am so uncomfortable with how BYUtv thinks a gay person should be portrayed.


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  12. I don't intend to make any grandiose statements as this is definitely beyond my expertise, but the following New York Times article just came up and I thought it would be interesting to participants in this discussion. Make of it what you will. 

    A Tiny Particle’s Wobble Could Upend the Known Laws of Physics: Experiments with particles known as muons suggest that there are forms of matter and energy vital to the nature and evolution of the cosmos that are not yet known to science.

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  13. 3 hours ago, teddyaware said:

    Your calling and election has indeed been made sure, but not in the way you think it has. What’s actually happened is you’ve been chosen by the gods of cyberspace to spend the rest of your life a Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board addict, forever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

    In other words he's damned. 

  14. 36 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

    Also I had a larger than usual helping of Blue Bell ice cream before I went to bed last night. It was the vanilla kind with peaches in it if that is relevant.

    Man, I've gotta get me some of that. 

    In all seriousness, I'm not sure what to say about the validity of the dream...vision...thing. Just keep on keeping on and doing the right thing, I guess. 

  15. 13 hours ago, Islander said:

    Well, all I know is that which is plainly detailed in the scriptures. I am convinced that the Lord always "breaths into" the mind of His prophet what He wants revealed. Now, as a human being, every prophet pours out that revelation with all the cultural and linguistic nuances of the historical and social milieu inhabited by the prophet. But no doubt, the message is clear and the meaning accesible to the intended audience. For us, some 2-3000 years later, it may require spiritual discernment, study and effort to grasp all the contextual elements but rest assured it is accessible to the true seeker. For that is the expressed intent of the Lord. What is evident is that ALL the elements necessary for salvation and godly living are easily grasped from the scriptures by those led by the Spirit to come to Him by the Gospel message.

    What is evidently clear, based on the scriptures, is that accuracy, faithfulness and thus total adherence to the revelation given by God was proof of a true prophetic calling and the Lord's commandment. 

    If the message was clear and the meaning accessible to the intended audience, then whence cometh confusion in the churches? Yet the scriptures adamantly attest the existence of such. The human element is unavoidable and it is not merely invoked in matters of style. 

    I'm sorry, but I do not see the simplicity you describe, and it is not for lack of desire to do so. 

    What is plain to one man is viewed through a glass darkly by another. God does the best He can with all of us but that is a reality He either cannot or will not change. 

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  16. 23 hours ago, poptart said:

    It collapsed on just rumors?  What else?

    There was a general run on the bank. I remember that the Joseph Smith Papers videos talked about a prominent local businessman, Grandison Newell, conspiring to collect Safety Society notes and engineer an artificial run on the bank as well. To hear the historians in those videos tell it, Grandison Newell was basically Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life. We have it on record that Newell pressed lawsuits to get the Society shut down. He also charged Joseph Smith with hiring men to assassinate him, which charges were dropped two months after they were brought. Let's just say Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Safety Society were not on good terms with the rich and powerful of Geauga County. It also didn't help that Newell owned many businesses which commanded heavy market share in Geauga County until Saints moved in to compete. 

    I consider Grandison Newell to be up there with Lilburn Boggs and John C. Bennett on the list of Execrable Scumbags of Latter-day Saint History.

    Edit: And while we're talking about It's a Wonderful Life, it's a shame Jimmy Stewart never played Joseph Smith because for some reason I think he'd be good at it. Tall, blonde, conventionally handsome, kind of country-bumpkiny. 

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  17. 55 minutes ago, Islander said:

    According to scripture you are mistaken in that point. If it is TRUE revelation, that prophet is uttering the words of God, the way God intended and no more. There can not be error or misinterpretation. God can not lie neither does He err. Jeremiah 1:9 "Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth." In Isaiah 50:4 "The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught."  Equally in Deut 4:2 "You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you." So, when a prophet spoke, he spoke the words or the Lord, the words that were given to him by the Lord and not his own.

    From the beginning of time, the Lord has raised up prophets to speak for Him and a test of true prophesy was ALWAYS that it was in fact infallible. Why? For the Lord has spoken it! Under the Law of Moses, a false prophet was put to death (Deut 13:1-5). Jeremiah warned against false prophets that speak not the word of the Lord (Jer. 23:16) but out of their own imagination. 

    So, prophetic accuracy; infallibility, was the true test of the prophet, according to the very word of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 18:20-22 we read:  "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him."

    The same admonition by the Lord we find in Jeremiah 23:30-32: "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord."

    So, there. To know with certainty that a prophet is indeed speaking in the name of the Lord is of vital importance for the people of God. Millions of people are deceived every day by false prophets, charlatans and decidedly evil men (and women) because they can not discern whether what is being taught is sound or false doctrine. Again, the Lord our God does not lie nor does He make mistakes or cause His chosen prophet to fall into error when he is speaking for Him.

    In the final analysis, one most discern if indeed the prophet is a true messenger of God or a charlatan, based on what scripture says; God's own word, are the hallmarks of a true prophet. Modern "revelation" (as we commonly call it) is inspiration, illumination by the Spirit. But is primarily procedural and administrative, not doctrinal. There has been no new  true doctrinal revelation in 150 years in the Church. There is no "refining" of doctrine or revelation. Every six months in GC we receive instruction, warning, encouragement and exhortation based on existing revelation/scriptures. There is no new revelation in the biblical sense and that is clear to all.


    You've given me a fair amount to think about. I am considering your distinction between revelation and inspiration; I had not considered such a conceptual schema before, considering revelation and inspiration to be different things. I will have to ponder and study on this, thank you. 

    However, in terms of critique, the scriptures you cite are ambiguous.  How they are interpreted depends on whether or not you view the Lord as direct or a delegator, and I would argue that if we have a distinction between inspiration and revelation then He is definitely a delegator. All of these scriptures use the language of the king and the vizier, a subordinate who speaks with the King's voice but is empowered to speak with his authority. It was a common metaphor in the ancient Near East and predictably appears in the Old Testament, and it does not denote the sort of divine ventriloquism implied by "the words that were given to him by the Lord and not his own."  This is the model of prophecy propounded by the Givens', for instance, and it has much to recommend it. And I have to warn you up front that I am remarkably unsympathetic towards "the plain meaning of the text" arguments because there is no meaning of the text (or of revelation for that matter) independent of interpretation. The biblical model for the administration of the church is that of a council such as the Council of Jerusalem, where the apostles and the leaders of the Church had to decide together how to proceed, even after Peter received his divine manifestation, on a matter which most definitely concerned doctrine as opposed to merely policy. 

    Edit: I don't mean to say that God is incapable of divine ventriloquism, but He doesn't seem to do it for whatever reasons of His own. Though the Lord etched the tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai, He appears to have let all of his revelation since pass through the intermediary of prophets. He didn't provide Jeremiah a new scroll when the king of Judah burnt the first one. He showed Ezekiel visions, but didn't write them down for him. Same thing with Isaiah. He didn't give everyone at the Jerusalem Council the same vision Peter had. Jesus Christ was perfectly capable of editing the erroneous Nephite scriptures Himself (He literally had them in His hands), but instead He instructed Nephi to do it. He did not hand Joseph Smith a translation of the Book of Mormon but had him do it in a process which, if Oliver Cowdery's experience is any indication, was not particularly intuitive. The involvement of the prophet is ALWAYS stressed. If God wants precise word choice, how much harder would it be to just write it down Himself rather than send it through the prophet?  Despite what you've said, the behavior of the Father in the scriptures doesn't indicate that He just takes over and puppeteers whenever it's time for serious revelation to get announced, which means the prophets themselves have a role to play, which means infallibility must not be correct. 

    Also, for what it's worth, scripture certainly must be doctrinal but Joseph Smith felt fine making minor revisions to his D&C revelations and the Book of Mormon, which indicates that he of all people did not view his revelations as divine dictations and himself as a divine stenographer. 

  18. 20 hours ago, Analytics said:

    Its precise nature is still being discovered, sure. But its existence is not in dispute.

    From where I sit, it appears that it is. Here's another paper: Homo Heuristicus: Why Biased Minds Make Better Inferences. It does not directly address confirmation bias, but it does address the general argument that the use of heuristics leads human beings to irrationality. Notably, it defines rational behavior as "leading to better inferences" as opposed to adhering to abstract axioms of rationality and logical probability. More on that here:  Axiomatic rationality and ecological rationality. In fact, in many cases simpler heuristics are not only more economical but also more accurate than more complex rational programs. There exists an inflection point where more information and computation = less accurate assessments. This conclusion is extremely counterintuitive and goes against Carnap's "principle of total information"...but the data supports it anyways. 

    Cognitive biases do come into existence for a reason, and further research has found that a lot of them have purposes which are not elucidated by research programs designed to frame them as "biases". 

    Now for Enron. It's true, the auditors were grossly negligent and did not look at a lot of information.  Confirmation bias and gross neglect are not the same thing. So, I question the applicability of the Enron case. Furthermore, I don't think that this sort of neglect is what President Nelson tells us to do!

    I've already said that he doesn't tell us to hide from these things, but he does tell us to reference faithful sources and not permit critical sources to control the frame and the narrative. He tells us to study and go on a journey of discovery, which are incompatible with the notion that our beliefs are simply to be clung to like the rock of Andromeda. In fact, as I look at it, I don't see any condemnation against interacting with critical sources and arguments! The only thing he tells us to avoid is "rehearsing [our doubts] with other doubters". In other words, don't go in circles with other doubters and incessantly reinforce yourselves in such a manner. 

    20 hours ago, Analytics said:

    The self-serving bias even affects how people remember information. Studies show that people are more likely to recall evidence that supports their point of view than evidence that opposes it. People involved in negotiations tend to remember information that supports their bargaining position more than information that undermines it.

    I'm not sure what to do with this. If ever I disagree with your take, this bias can be invoked to render it illegitimate. That's a remarkably useful rhetorical tool for dismissal, but less so for persuasion. Nevermind that I could just say the same: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Welcome to a regime of Mutually Assured Dismissal. 

    20 hours ago, Analytics said:

    The question is whether we are going to indulge in our own biases or are we going to challenge them to come closer to an objective evaluation of what's really going on. Even people who sincerely endeavor to do the latter often fail--such is the nature of the human brain--but that just means that rational analysis is difficult, not impossible. Studying something with "a desire to believe" is directly indulging in these biases. It is encouraging it. Relying on it. Letting it carry the day. Somebody who is trying to come to the actual truth will in fact do the opposite of this.

    And deleting one's desire from the picture is a form of self-deception and tampers with our mental processes which, as we have learned lately, are tied up in our capacity to process emotion. Such attempts to move to "objectivity" require us to put our fingers on the scales and suppress natural cognitive functions. I don't think I can do that responsibly since our understandings of the brain, its interconnectedness, and the interconnectedness of cognitive features are not yet known. Neither are the adaptive functions for things like confirmation bias, even though it is unlikely that it's entirely maladaptive (since it has, after all, persisted this long.) And indeed, there are already papers reaching the market which purport to demonstrate ways in which even the confirmation bias serves some useful purpose. Take this one, for instance. Or this paper, which argues that one of the chief empirical supports for confirmation bias, the Wason selection task, can in fact be reinterpreted as a rational means of Bayesian hypothesis testing. On balance I think we don't know enough to make prescriptions regarding confirmation bias. 

    This actually leads me into another query. The idea that one can ditch all of one's priors is ridiculous, so any attempt to move towards "more objective" thinking must entail selective suspension of priors and selective maintenance of others. This renders calls to be "more objective" highly problematic as it simply entails another form of selection bias. 

    20 hours ago, Analytics said:

    Like I said. If the objective is to believe, relying on these biases is a great way to achieve that objective.

    I don't have anything in particular to say to this. I thought I had presented objections to this characterization, but naturally you are entitled to your opinion. 

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  19. 9 hours ago, Analytics said:

    Since you asked, a "true" Church should embrace not only the truth, but also the best intellectual tools that best separate truth from error.

    To understand what I'm getting at here, science tells us not only is the human mind not very rational, it is irrational in predictable ways. Perhaps the most important way the brain is predictably irrational is its powerful tendency to engage in confirmation bias. From an article in Psychology Today,

    "Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea or concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views or prejudices one would like to be true. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices."

    I encourage you to read the article in its entirety here: What Is Confirmation Bias? | Psychology Today

    Once you understand confirmation bias, President Nelson's remarks, as quoted above, seem designed to create belief on a foundation of confirmation bias: have a desire to believe. Choose to believe. Try to believe. Think about the evidence that supports belief. Don't think about evidence contradicts belief.

    If your goal is to believe, then doing that is great. But if your objective is to find out what is actually true, a different approach is in order.

    Respectfully, I would like to submit that the settled status of "predictable human irrationality" differs from field to field. Behavioral economics has wholeheartedly adopted the paradigm. In general psychology, however, the dispute is a bit more lively. There have been trenchant critiques written of the "heuristics and biases" paradigm pioneered by Kahneman and Tversky, which posits that the human mind is "irrational in predictable ways."  Here's an article by Gerd Gigerenzer, widely considered to be the most prominent critic of Kahneman and Tversky, discussing the variance in understanding between various consumer disciplines of psychology: https://www.nowpublishers.com/article/OpenAccessDownload/RBE-0092.

    The argument that the human mind is predictably irrational is predicated on the presumption of the homo economicus, which posits that man is effectively a Laplacian demon without constraints on our rational functions like time and energy expenditure. Such a strawman can be easily pilloried by experimental demonstration of mankind's failure to always make correct judgements in laboratory settings, and indeed this sort of experimental verification is the empirical basis for the idea that humans are predictably irrational. However, there exists another way to view the data, which starts by rejecting the homo economicus and the assumption that cognition in laboratory studies (where all the variables are known and controlled) is reflective of the validity of such cognition in the real world. In the real world, cognition is limited by time constraints and the finite energy which we have to devote to any given task. Thus we must rely on shortcuts, simple systems as opposed to fully-fleshed out rational consideration. These systems are generally more reliable when ambiguity is present. The interesting thing is that, at times, simple systems counterintuitively work better at prediction than more complex systems. See here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014829631500154X. This last paper even floats an intriguing proposal that Occam's Razor, long a staple of philosophy of science, is not universally reliable. Heady stuff. 

    Returning to your post more directly, I'd like to comment on your article quotation. It appears to me that your quotation is unnecessarily prejudicial. It imparts agency to what is largely an unconscious process. Confirmation bias, if it indeed exists as presently described, exists as unconscious tendencies rather than conscious decisions, but the language of the article heavily implies agency. This implication of agency confers accusation where none is warranted. 

    Now, I'd like to turn to your interpretation of President Nelson's remarks. I have interpreted them differently than you did, and I would like to present mine as an alternative understanding. I don't see President Nelson encouraging us to, as you put it, "Don't think about evidence contradicts belief." He tells us to study. He tells us to take our questions to the Lord and faithful sources. In my experience, having studied both faithful and unfaithful sources, the faithful sources don't obscure evidence. They engage it. 

    If choosing to approach one's questions from a position of belief is bad, then choosing to approach it from the position of disbelief is just as prejudicial towards one's conclusion, no? Isn't that the point of confirmation bias? You see what you look for? THAT approach is the approach President Nelson is critiquing: "Study with a desire to believe, rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw, in the fabric of a prophet’s life. Or a discrepancy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts, by rehearsing them with other doubters." He is addressing a binary. This is a call to a) avoid being socially conditioned in the direction of disbelief by continual rehearsal of critical narratives, which would trigger the Illusory Truth Effect and thus increase doubts illegitimately, right? It is also a call to b) choose which frame you will approach the questions from. President Nelson assumes that there is no neutral. The scriptures also assume such. And I think it is right. The gospel is such an emotionally charged topic that any pretension to neutrality requires conscious repression of one's own cognitive tendencies, which to me constitutes a form of self-deception. How can such repression be properly calculated so as to be truth-tracking instead of merely chaotic? How can we trust it? It seems better to me to let my cognitive faculties interpret the way they will and let the chips fall where they may, rather than try to put my finger on the scale in a vain pursuit for "neutrality." 

    I turn here to William James. He makes a salient point in his beatdown of W.K. Clifford which deserves repeating. The world is not an abstraction. The decision to believe or not to believe has consequences far beyond academic theories. In such an environment, the burden of proof for a belief is influenced by the consequences of accepting that belief. I think that the burden of proof for potential disproofs of the gospel is such that, if they are true, they should be able to withstand being observed from a faithful lens. If they cannot, then they don't deserve to succeed.  


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  20. 1 hour ago, InCognitus said:

    I agree this accusation works both ways.   Also, I would like to see if personality type or other factors can be taken into consideration with regard to the participants of the Illusory Truth Effect studies.  The mere repetition of a statement simply doesn't make it true in my way of thinking (although I think I've conversed with many people who seem to think if they keep saying the same thing over and over, then it has to be true).  

    That is a good question, I suppose I don't know the extent of the studies on it. And what with the replication crisis in psychology, it may be that we aren't even dealing with anything real here. Furthermore I don't know if the effect implies that people come to actually hold these false beliefs over time, or if they simply seem more plausible. 

    The biases and heuristics literature is rather fraught at the moment, and one must be judicious in the conclusions one draws from it. 

  21. 35 minutes ago, Nofear said:

    I agree that the talk was wonderful. However, somebody shared with me some comments from a private facebook group (nominally to keep individuals attached to the Church). Many were anything but complimentary of Pres. Nelson's talk. Some felt that others would simply use it to bash those who had doubts.

    It is likely that it will be used as such. From many points of view, President Nelson's talk might seem superficial. It could be interpreted as "just ignore your doubts" or "just stop asking questions." 

    In a very real sense, however, the mindset which we take into a question and the company with which we approach it can powerfully influence our ultimate conclusion. We are not truth-finding tabula rasas, and as @Kevin Christensen has pointed out at length, our conclusions are not born as the pure offspring of truth in our heads. Many factors condition us in our conclusions. Spencer Marsh once commented that the call to "explore a question further" is usually code for "let's buy more time to condition you to accept my worldview." How we choose to approach a question is a choice, one for which we are accountable. I believe it is this truth which underlies President Nelsons' comments and the many scriptural injunctions which treat belief as morally charged. We get to choose the frame for our questioning. By extension, we cannot regard our conclusions as things forced upon us. 


    I think the rehearsal part is pure genius -- I think the basically honest in heart, which I think is far more than half of those heading down this path, will reflect on this and all ow the Lord to lead them on a journey of discovery.

    Indeed. Church meetings have been attacked for taking advantage of the Illusory Truth Effect. I don't think such critiques work against the Church because they would require a considerable array of auxiliary hypotheses to explain salient features of the experience of gospel living, and on a whole I thing the whole overwrought framework doesn't hold up. I'm also skeptical of invocations of the Illusory Truth Effect in situations where the proposition in question is unfalsifiable - at that point asserting the Illusory Truth Effect begs the question against the proposition most flagrantly. But if there is any validity to this critique, then communities of critics are just as guilty as churches in pre-rationally conditioning their members to accept propositions. 

    • Upvote 1
  22. 1 hour ago, Risingtide said:

    You've given me a lot to unpack, but I'll try to address some of it.  I agree, it's not wise to defer to the personal conscience of psychopaths. It's not always wise to defer to the healthy in mind. There are millions of God fearing persons with varying beliefs. Beliefs that are in conflict with one another. My guess is that most of those persons believe they are following the ultimate authority. I am not bound by the belief of others. They have the right to follow their conscience, as I do mine. I don't believe that is a dodge. 

    I agree, our conscience is largely formed by the culture around us along with our experience and education, with some biology in the mix. So we develop a conscience from these factors. This doesn't guarantee we arrive at the true paradigm. We get along as best we can, hopefully with some level of humility and acceptance of differences. 

    I wish you a happy Easter.


    I apologize if I have come across as curt or severe. My internal monologue is like that and, though I try to keep it from bleeding into what I actually say, sometimes I'm not as good at tempering my words. 

    • Like 1
  23. 32 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

    This authority of personal opinion is binding on no one but myself.

    In your belief system do people have authority of personal conscience?

    What is the authority of personal conscience but the authority of personal preference, if not reinforced by some external authority? 

    Is the authority of personal preference absolute? 

    If not, then are we truly justified in relying on our personal consciences to pass judgement upon others? 

    I'll lighten up on the Socratic dialectic and cut to the point. 

    "The authority of personal opinion is binding on no one but myself" is a diversion, not an answer. Do you believe that your personal preferences are keyed to something actually true? If not, is somebody who violates them actually doing anything wrong? No. In the absence of any form of external reinforcement, internal ethical systems cannot be used to describe or qualify the actions of other people, except as references to one's own preferences. Which indicates that moral outrage is not based on any variety of truth, but merely of preference. There is no ontological difference, at that point, between my casual dislike of quiche and moral revulsion; the difference is only in the intensity of the feeling. "That person is doing something wrong" is reduced to "I really don't like what that person is doing." Shall I declare mankind a moral monster for making French egg tarts?

    There have been a lot of societies throughout history that have believed moral codes which are roundly condemned as horrid by others. Aztec sacrifice was abhorred by the conquistadors. We Westerners are mortified by the treatment of women in the Middle East. The list is lengthy and the anthropologists continue to add more. Humans tend to have general ethical impulses that are common to all of us; revulsion to murder, the protection of children, etc., but these impulses are not a moral code in and of themselves, they are only impulses. The creation of moral codes, moral rules, linguistic descriptions of what is right and wrong and what we can and cannot do, require us to elaborate upon these impulses and build a framework upon them which is manifestly culture-dependent. And we are all educated in our cultures and derive the values that prop up our personal consciences from those cultures. So, frankly, in my belief system the authority of personal conscience has a pretty big asterisk. We do not defer to the personal conscience of the psychopath, which means that the authority of personal conscience to declare how things "ought to be" is already determined to be less than absolute. And "normal" personal consciences in any particular culture tend to reflect the values of that culture, which implies that our personal consciences are more reflective of what we absorb then declarative of what is actually right or wrong in an objective sense. My conclusion is that, inasmuch as we are part of a culture we might as well follow the values of that culture, but none of those values are sufficiently absolute to outrank God, and in any case we mortals are not in any position to translate those culturally-contingent values into declarations on what God "should" or "can" do. 

  24. 1 minute ago, Risingtide said:

    I was asked my opinion. I've given it. Do I have the authority to have my own opinion? I think so.

    Then you do not truly hold these opinions on no authority. You hold them on your own authority, no? 

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