Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Enemas and False Belief

I just read a wonderful psychology study on humankind's ability to develop false beliefs. Heaven (there I go again) knows - it seems intrinsically obvious to me that this must be so, based on the number of bullshitters riding around in anything from Mercs to Ferraris, Bentleys etc. I long ago realised that wealth and intelligence have no correlation whatsoever - to the contrary, some of the biggest morons seem to have a limitless supply if it (wealth, that is - not intelligence). And, as the saying goes - fools and their money are soon parted - there's ample evidence of that, these days.

The commentary notes (politely) that cognitive psychology studies have made it clear that humans can be "exceptionally gullible". In other words - there's one born every minute. I would maybe say it a different way - a large proportion of humanity appear to be completely dumb shits (which fits in nicely with the title and theme of this piece) - based on their actions and belief systems.

The study asks the participants to rate certain events, from extremely likely to very unlikely. Then they are exposed to false information that shows that many of the unlikely events occur fairly regularly (e.g. false news articles). Then they rerate the likelihood of these events - at which time many people decide the events are far more likely, and in fact some have happened to them!

In this way demonic possession became more plausible, and even the instance of having received barium enemas as children! I ask you with tears in my eyes - how many times in your life has somebody stuffed a pipe up your backside and injected you with copious quantities of barium, without your knowledge? Would I remember being assaulted with radioactive chemicals? Not to put too fine a point on it "you bet your ass I would."

In short making something seem more likely to happen, sways some people into believing it might have happened to them. The article concludes that people walking around this planet are susceptible to developing false beliefs and nobody except the brainless is exempt. OK - we are forewarned - be careful what you believe. But one is tempted to make a pithy comment to the effect that given the number of evidentially brainless people around, it's hard to understand why so many of them believe shit.

Maybe there's another way of thinking about it : the very act of believing shit is proof that we have brains! Maybe we should have had more enemas when we were kids.....


  1. Derren Brown the master illusionist and someone with the profound reputation of being banned from casino in Europe due to this ability to break the bank each time was interviewed recently. When asked what he attributed this amazing mentalist activity to he simply said "as soon as I find myself holding one belief, then I am in trouble".

  2. Masterful! I have a huge respect for Derren Brown in any event - having seen some of his work on TV. The man is obviously not just a pretty face!