When someone believes something even though all evidence is contrary to that belief, does this mean they are stupid or crazy?

Instead of using religion as an example, I will use this one: some people still believe the earth is flat. Are they stupid people or crazy people?

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I find it hard to believe that any literate person authentically believes the earth is flat - but I get what you are asking.

I believe that magical thought is addictive.  I define 'magical thought' as jumping to conclusions in order to get that positive feeling of having an 'aha' moment.  When my school teachers asked a question and I knew the answer, I got a real rush to answer - I wanted to be the one that got it right.  I got a similar feeling when I worked out the answer to some big problem.  When I was programming I would sometimes spend hours working out an elegant solution to a problem and the feeling of fulfillment was wonderful.

The trouble with working through a difficult problem to get the rush of finally solving it is that, well, it's a lot of work.  Sure the payback felt great, but it's kind of like the difference between running 5 miles to get that runner's high or just kicking back and drinking a beer to get that warm feeling in your face.

Those addicted to magical thinking are like philosophical alcoholics.  They go for the easy, although limited reward of the quick fix over the long drawn out process required for a more fulfilling reward - and then try to make up the difference by volume.  This is where convoluted conspiracy theories come into play.  The more dots you can connect, however weakly, the more little rushes one gets from finding the answer.  Watching a group of such people 'work through' a conspiracy can be very entertaining - very much like Evangelicals discerning the mind of their god.  Negative feedback is not allowed, all suggestions are equally valid and praised, and wilder and wilder assertions build upon each other.

I think such people are neither crazy nor stupid - just intellectually lazy and addicted to the rush of filling in their ignorance with trash solutions.

That is a very illuminating comparison.

** Many millions never allowed to develop beyond "adolescent egocentrism"

Research on human psychological development demarcates stages through which infants and children may pass -- but they can not do this unless aided by persons who themselves have passed beyond "primitive" stages.

Specifically, millions of so-called adults remain stuck in adolescent egocentrism which "...involves attention getting behavior, and personal fable which involves an adolescent's sense of personal uniqueness and invincibility."

Obviously, religious indoctrination invests heavily in maintaining believers in the stage of adolescent egocentrism -- witness adolescent angst and acting out common among believers in the so-called great monotheisms: "conversion" experiences (ego-inflation), "spiritual" enthusiasms (pep rallies), cults of sin and repentance (blame games), submission to the will of "God" (authoritarianism), ritualized theatrics (self-display) and worst, primacy of the death impulse, rejection of the world (science), hatred of unbelievers (cliques), martyrdom (suicide).

God-proxies: family members, institutional "authority" figures, state level functionaries prey on children to reinforce sexualized guilt about natural human impulses, the personal inadequacy of each potential believer, and invincibility promised for obedient solidarity.

Perpetual adolescence, perpetual dependence on vacuous 'religious authorities' in institutions given over to secular power seeking, makes for highly successful Ponzi schemes raking in billions -- to fund extremist ideologies like those in Iran and in the US among catholics and other fundies -- true devotees of the Lord of the Flies.

I don't think your example is a good one. I try to give the benefit of the doubt, but that's so widely accepted, that I think everyone accepts it..

If not, I really think they're trolling, or really bad off...

It depends on how many Flat Earthers are in the room at the same time.

Sadly, I suspect you'll always ahve to come back to religion to play this game..

But, ignoring that....  Stupid or crazy.   I think there have been too many geniuses.  Have to go with crazy..  I mean, if you insist on hearing voices...... 

I expect that if you promote a belief based upon self interest, you would be corrupt.

If you deeply believe in something based upon incomplete evidence, and poor sampling, your are stupid.

If you deeply believe in something because it is 'fun' to do so, or your guardian angel said so, you are crazy.

If you deeply believe in something that is only based upon one authority, one bad sample, incorrect logic, bad experimental design, or during some drug influenced insight, you are crazy.

One can prevent 'stupid', just learn how to reserve judgement, mention details, try duplication of results, and curb your enthusiasm. The interesting 'thing', could be crap, or something very interesting, if you are lucky! 


I would have to say that people who TRULY believe these things must be either stupid or crazy.  At the very least, they are deluded.

By logical inference, that means Christians are stupid, doesn't it?  But most of the Christians I've known, including some pastors, didn't REALLY believe that stuff, deep down, despite their claims to the contrary.  Their motivations for maintaining that fiction escape me.  I attended church regularly for several years when I was young; but I was up front about my reasons: girls, sports, and friends.  And I made sure that they all knew I didn't believe in the nonsense that Dr. Allen was dishing out every Sunday and Wednesday.  I'm not so sure Dr. Allen did, either.

I recently connected with a friend from those days, over 50 years ago, and he says he never believed it, either.  His reasons for attending church were the same as mine.  The difference is that he played his role to the hilt, portraying himself as a devout Christian.  

The point is that I suspect there are a lot more non-believers in the pews, so to speak, than most people realize.  That's what makes it hard to judge the intelligence of any particular "Christian."  It does say something about his hypocrisy, though, doesn't it.

I would have to go with 'desperate'.

Like many evangelical atheists, I often make sport of attempting to convince religious believers to renounce their faith, and so often have long conversations with believers about why they believe whatever fairytale they believe, and this has led me to conclude that most are not stupid or crazy, just desperate for their lives to mean more, desperate for love and attention, and desperate for guidance.

For us atheists, the universe is a vastly wonderful place, full of unfathomable mysteries waiting to be discovered. For us humanity's journey of knowledge and understanding is an exciting road filled with new discoveries about the nature of our own existence. For theists, however, the universe without their deity is cold, empty and chaotic. By choosing superstition over knowledge, they see themselves as having put meaning into their lives, their gods give them the false conjecture that they are individuals whose existence is important, planned and guided - it makes them feel special. The times people (theist, atheist and agnostic alike) are most likely to convert to a new religion are when they are most emotionally isolated - starting a new job, moving to a new city or after a bad break up - because religion gives them a sense that they are not alone (and lets not forget that according to the big 3 monotheistic religions, the entire, infinite universe was created in six days just so we could have our own little rock to play on - egotism plays a part).

Also, it really is very comforting to some people to 'know' that they have all the answers, even if they are the wrong answers

Does it make a difference?  They are wrong!

Perhaps they are both or neither. They could just be stubborn. 

I left Christianity 40 years ago. I still have many friends from my past who are still very devout Christians. I don't think that any of them has ever had defend their faith. I have questioned a few of them about their beliefs. When I do, they are shocked that I, or anyone, has objections to what they believe. Their dogma is so deeply ingrained in their being that it is absolutely unfathomable for them to comprehend that there is even the smallest possibility that what they believe is not true.


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