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The power of faith tipped Gladwell

by Greg Krehbiel on 9 October 2013

Here’s an interesting interview with Malcolm Gladwell.

He says that his studies have shown him how powerful faith can be in people’s lives. This has led him to re-evaluate his own faith.

The skeptic in me gives the logical reply. “That faith has a good influence on people does not mean that the subject of faith is true.”

Yes, that’s so. My inner skeptic usually knows what he’s talking about. But let’s be fair. People’s reasons for rejecting faith (“there are so many hypocrites,” “what about the heathen in Africa?,” “how could a loving God allow __ to happen?”) aren’t logical either.

Just yesterday I was listening to a “The Partially Examined Life” podcast on Jung. One of the themes was also about how faith (or at least ritual, or symbol) can make a very important difference in a person’s life. Jung seemed to believe that an attempt to explain the world in “purely rational” terms results in various neuroses and other problems.

I’m not sure that any of us have a good idea why we believe or disbelieve things. I suspect that a lot of it is pre-conscious, and our conscious “reasons” are mostly post hoc gibberish.

-- 2013-10-09  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 8

  1. pentamom pentamom
    9 October 2013 @ 6:05 pm

    “I’m not sure that any of us have a good idea why we believe or disbelieve things. I suspect that a lot of it is pre-conscious, and our conscious “reasons” are mostly post hoc gibberish.”

    Which, as you probably know, is the insight that put Gladwell on the map. So there’s a consistency here.

  2. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    10 October 2013 @ 8:39 am

    I did not know that Gladwell was associated with that idea. I think the only thing I’ve read from him is The Tipping Point, and I don’t recall if it covered that theme or not.

  3. Robin R.
    10 October 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Pascal is of course famous for saying, ?The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.? That being said, I still think it is best to try to be rational.

  4. Robin R.
    10 October 2013 @ 8:51 am

    Those question marks were supposed to be quotation marks. I am not used to Czech keyboard I have in my office.

  5. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    10 October 2013 @ 10:06 am

    I agree that it’s best to try to be rational, but I think we have to realize that we aren’t. The problem — in my experience — is that the more people try to be rational, the more they buy into their own deceptions and think they are rational.

    About the keyboard, perhaps you have to have a class of pilsner or Becherovka to be able to use it properly. :-)

  6. pentamom pentamom
    10 October 2013 @ 10:26 am

    Well, I didn’t say Gladwell came up with it, but his book, “blink,” which was really the breakout (I think “The Tipping Point” only hit the tipping point after “blink” got popular) is basically all about that — the word refers to how we come to conclusions in the blink of an eye, sometimes in line with our conscious reasons, and sometimes the conscious reasoning is purely post hoc. He popularized it for our generation and applied it to things familiar to us. That’s why it “put him on the map,” not because it was a wholly original thought.

  7. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    10 October 2013 @ 10:38 am

    That actually ties a few things together. I remember when Blink came out. I lost interest in reading it after reading a really scathing review from some science blogger guy — which fits my pattern. He was so sure he was rational that he hated the suggestion that maybe he wasn’t. :-)

  8. pentamom pentamom
    11 October 2013 @ 11:22 am

    FWIW, not capitalizing “blink” was not a typo.