If you understand motivated reasoning, then you understand that high levels of knowledge, education, and sophistication are no defense against wrongheaded views like climate change denial and anti-evolutionism. What I’ll call “sophistication” may even make these phenomena worse, at least among those with deeply ideological or religious views.There is also the considerable problem of “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. ”For some of the large groups that deal with this issue, such as the Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis and Creation Research Ministries, they get things so obviously wrong that blowing the arguments out of the sky is a comparatively easy task. Other groups, however, such as Reasons to Believe and The Discovery Institute use arguments that are subtle and require a considerable amount of knowledge in a given field to determine where they go off the rails. Just ask Steve Matheson and Todd Wood. Given the Discovery Institute's active role in trying to influence anti-evolution legislation, it becomes increasingly important to alert people to these errors, since your average legislator won't be able to spot them.
The reason is that when we “reason” in areas where we have strong beliefs, our emotions come first and then we rationalize our pre-existing views. And those better at generating self-affirming arguments will be better rationalizers, will fall in love with their own seemingly brilliant arguments, and their minds will become harder to change (but they’ll love to argue).
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