I believe what I believe. Don’t confuse me with the facts


Yale law professor Dan Kahan’s research paper “Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government” is worthy of our consideration. It is an ambitious attempt to scientifically explain why reason and facts rarely prevail in  political debate.  His paper  has been expressed by one science writer in laymen’s terms as “Science confirms politics wrecks your abiltiy to do math.”

The issue posed by Professor Kahan is why do societal conflicts persist in the face of compelling scientific evidence which seemingly should resolve such conflicts? Based on his experiments, the impact of political dogma dramatically affects the ability to think clearly, undermining basic reasoning skills (I would suggest that this also applies to any dogmatic or strongly held belief; e.g those of a religious nature). The professor’s experiments indicate that people who are normally very good at math totally fail to correctly answer a problem that they would otherwise be able to solve easily if giving the correct answer goes against their political (religious?) beliefs.

Do facts matter? Apparently not. The results of this study indicate that when someone is misinformed, giving them more facts only ensures that they will cling to their preconceived beliefs even more tenaciously.

This suggests why political (and religious) debates are generally pointless and why some will deny global warming (climate change) and evolution no matter what facts are presented for their consideration. This study explains why they continue to do so no matter what evidence is presented to them. They would rather drown as the oceans rise and be perceived as  superstitious shaamans rather than adjust their belief system to accommodate overwhelming evidence.

Based on this study and perceptive observation, humans may be more accurately described as  beings who rationalize preconceived beliefs rather than beings who truely reason. The miracle? That our species has advanced as far as it has despite widespread irrationality.

Change of name of second book of Mfecane trilogy


As anyone who follows this blog knows I have been strugging with the decision of whether to change the genre of the Mfecane trilogy (see in this blog ,http://wp.me/p4mtOy-v  “The 35 year odyessey of the novel Mfecane” for an in depth discusion of this struggle) from historical fiction to alternate history. Well, the decision is made. Despite my resistance given the additional work and rewriting involved, Mfecane’s central character Manqoba (“He who conquers when all is lost”) has insisted on the change and I am powerless to resist his indomitable will. Alternate history it will be.
Coupled with this change is a change in the title of book 2 of the trilogy. Heretobefore entitiled “The Outlanders” referring to the English speaking whites who entered South Africa seeking diamonds, gold and empire, the new name will be “Zulu Rising” to reflect the new focus.
I still hope the second book will be published this year but this depends on the new directions of the story.
I will keep you posted on the progress and perhaps post an excerpt soon.