Rejection theory, or "How not to get along"

From: Tim <>
Date: Sun Aug 07 2005 - 10:25:03 EDT

David Siemens wrote in "Re: Stereotype and reputations":
> I see a simple problem here. I cannot hold 'there is a
> God' and 'there is no God' in the same system. Plantinga,
> holding the former, says materialism is irrational within
> his commitment. Those holding the latter say that they
> don't need Plantinga's requirement to justify thought. This
> fits their view. Plantinga thinks he's shown those
> irrational rascals, who respond that he is irrelevant.
> Different presuppositions produce different consequences.

Good eye! That's how I see this too.

I have been toying with an idea called "rejection theory". It's not a
theory as such but a collection of the more common rationalizations
people make to explain why what appears so obvious and reasonable to
themselves is not true for others. My idea is that these
rationalizations are strictly necessary (a philosophically "necessary"
requirement?) for a person to maintain the self image that they are
rational, logical and correct. I do not think the subject actually
matters and that is why one can collect these 'universal' just-so
explanations for another's position (in a ranked order):

0) That is perfectly within the norm of subjective experience. The other
person could have good reasons that in their own experience leads them
to conclude otherwise.
1) The other person lacks relevant information.
2) The other person doesn't understand the argument or the important
3) The other person has a different worldview that doesn't permit them
the flexibility to see things properly.
4) The other person is not rational.

My hypothesis is that metrics of emotional and social maturity for an
individual are inversely correlated to the numeric rank of the most
consistently employed explanation one uses to account for another's
position, particularly in situations where one doesn't have enough
experience with the other person or group to reach any legitimate
conclusion. A refinement would be to first normalize the explanation
rank to the population average. Another hypothesis is that the
fruitfulness of a dialog is also inversely proportional to this numeric

I have to say that in experience, many Quakers operate in the 0-1 range,
  but I'm definitely biased.

I don't think for a minute that I've ever had a truely novel idea: There
must be a significant amount of literature about this in psychology and

BTW - I have another theory about brontosauruses in which they start off
thin at the head, get wider in the middle and then go thin again at
their tails.

Ann Elk, master of the obvious
(It's the internet. By law, Monty Python references are required every
200 posts).

PS - A just came a across a story about a researcher who wanted to
investigate whether "recovered memories" could be manufactured and
whether there were any hallmarks for manufactured memories. She needed a
control group of people with memories of events they could not have
experienced. She chose people who 'recovered' their memories of
abductions by aliens and found that there were striking similarities
between these false memories of alien abduction and some other recovered
memories for which the original event was unverified. When she reported
her results, some of the rebuttal comments included: "How can you be
sure these people weren't abducted by aliens?"
Received on Sun Aug 7 10:28:29 2005

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