UFO Conjecture(s)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

UFO Group Think? (Of course)


A piece in the June 25th 2012 New Yorker (pictured above) by Ezra Klein, Unpopular Mandate: Why do politicians reverse their positions [Page 30 ff.] has material that is applicable to ufology and many who comment at this blog and especially elsewhere (UFO UpDates and Kevin Randle’s blog).

The material I’m referring to is psychological in nature, and caught my attention with this paragraph on Page 31:

“Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at New York University’s business school, argues, in a new book, “The Righteous Mind,” that to understand human beings, and their politics, you need to understand that we are descended from ancestors who would not have survived if they hadn’t been very good at belonging to groups…our minds contain a variety of mental mechanisms that make us adept at promoting our group’s interests, in competition with other groups…

One of those mechanisms is figuring out how to believe what the group believes…

once group loyalties are engaged, you can’t change people’s minds by utterly refuting their arguments [italics mine]. Thinking is mostly just rationalization, mostly just a search for supporting evidence.

Psychologists have a term for this: “motivated reasoning” which Dan Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale, defines as “when a person is conforming [italics mine] their assessments of information to some interest or goal that is independent of accuracy [italics mine, again].”

Writing about political parties, which I’m applying to UFO groups, Klein says this [Page 32]:

“…parties, though based on a set of principles, aren’t disinterested teachers of truth. They’re organized groups looking to increase their power [me again]. Or, as the psychologists would put it, their reasoning may be motivated by something other than accuracy [yep, italics mine].

Finally (from Page 33) “…we’re increasingly able to choose our information sources based on their tendency to back up whatever we already believe, we don’t even have to hear the arguments from the other side, much less give them serious attention [italics mine, of course].”

Thought-bias among ufologists and UFO mavens is palpable to most, but that bias need not be endemic to the discussion of the UFO phenomenon.

That group-think remains the so strong in the UFO community is distressing, but not unexpected, as the UFO topic has the tendency to attract a large segment of society that doesn’t have any intellectual acumen.

If we can, here, keep our comments (and postings) free of group think or “motivated reasoning,” we’ll be more than pleased with our small effort to upscale UFO thought and hypothetical thinking.

RR