First, a brief description of my strategy: for my Athiest entry, I tried to describe reality as I see it if Atheism is true. I can’t really be upset that most people found it not very compelling- I don’t find it very compelling myself. But I do find it the most internally consistent.
What did surprise me- though I suppose it shouldn’t- is how many people thought I was a Catholic. Certainly I’ve done a fair bit of religious reading over the last several months, so some of the Catholic verbiage has probably entered my vocabulary through Osmosis (references to “Authority” and Chesterton’s “truth-telling thing” ostensibly gave me away as a Catholic sympathizer). But I think my real problem is that I didn’t present Atheism as a compelling framework that anybody would ever want to believe in- and that’s because I legitimately don’t think it is.
I saw inconsistency as the most defining factor of fakes. I felt that if a post was inconsistent in its internal ideas, it was more likely to be fraudulent. For the same reason, when I sought out to write my own entries, I strived for internal consistency. The underlying assumption here is that someone who is an authority/believer of a certain ideology is more likely to do the intellectual legwork to make that position consistent. Whether or not this is true is another story entirely.Read more…
What I find really interesting is the way Matt and Jacob are talking about internal consistency. (I haven’t run the numbers on how consistent and/or compelling people found the entries yet). I agree that, if people really believe something, they usually have at least a few plausible explanations for any seeming inconsistencies in their worldview, but not always. After all, I’ve been dinged repeatedly, on this blog and at debates offline for the admitted gap between my virtue ethics and associated teleology and the materialism implied by most forms of atheism.
I thought it was interesting that Jacob split the question of consistency and compellingness. When we find ourselves drawn to a different philosophy, that is data. Then we have to do the work of checking whether we’re drawn just because of wish fulfillment (I’m pretty drawn to Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, but that hasn’t made it true. Yet.), or if the other philosophy is paying rent on some of our assumptions about the world (e.g. morality isn’t just a cultural construct).
If there’s some kind of data that’s leading you to that metaphysical assumption, then the failure of your current belief to account for it is an inconsistency. It may not be a big enough one to drive you to abandon either your philosophy or your data yet, but you should probably expect to jettison at least one of them (or step up a level and jettison the meta-understanding of both that led you to see them in conflict).