Sunday, December 10, 2006

BA Boycott and Cognitive Disonnance

I've just recently been banned from posting at the BA Boycott forum

A little background first: This site was set up by one Marcus Stafford from Dillington, near Dereham in Norfolk in response to British Airways asking an employee to keep her cross on a chain hidden when at work.

The news story is available here for further details, but I just wanted to muse a while on the actions of this Marcus guy.

One of his arguments is that muslims are allowed to wear the hijab so xians should be allowed to wear a cross. This is clearly wrong for the following reasons:

I posted three quranic verses which amount to religious mandate for women to wear the hijab / cover up completely in public. I asked Marcus to provide the corresponding passages in the buybull which impart similar mandate for xians to wear crosses. He did / could not.

Instead, he deleted at least three of my posts (including the latest one with evidence against his argument) and banned me from the site.

Whilst outwardly petty, he has actually responded to subsequent e-mails and this is what reminded me of two well-known psychological phenomena - cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

Having been presented with evidence which amounts to a truth which is incompatible with someones world view, the resulting dissonance is a psychological feeling of discomfort. One of the two pieces of information need to go / be modified to fall in line with the persons schema of the world.

Here's where confirmation bias can also come into play. People who hold strong beliefs and / or delsions tend to only seek out the evidence which already confirms their view point in their own eyes. They will seek to change, modify or disregard any evidence which amounts to proof that their view is wrong / in need of modification itself.

Religious people continually display such cognitive biases to "confirm" their faith often in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Interestingly so do those suffering with delusional disorders since a delusion by its very definition is "A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness."

Now while the notion of belief in "god/s" being false is a logical non-starter since a negative by definition cannot be "proved" the second half of the definition rings true.

Interestingly Marcus stated in an e-mail that he does not attend church, however, I suspect he is as devout as the next deluded xian however as evidenced by his characteristically religious psychology.

Personally I think as a nation we should take a leaf out of other progressive countries' stances and ban all religious symbols and garb outright and religious practices if they must be done should be confined to a persons home by law. After all there is simply no reason what so ever to bring anything religious to work.

Once we start doing this we can move away from all the PC bollocks and reduce the number of petty-minded deluded bigots like Marcus.