It would be fun to coin a single word that describes Mark’s condition. Ignorance can be a temporary condition that can quickly be overcome with a little education. Stupidity can be organic or physical in nature. So, what shall we call it when you encounter a human who seems to have enough cognitive ability to function in society and even seemingly pass for having reasonable intelligence and yet beneath it all engages in the grossest forms of cognitive dissonance, and worse, willful ignorance? I don’t want to call it Markism because it would be too easily confused with Marxism, even though Marxism seems to be the logical reductio ad absurdum result of Markism.
I know the basics of why this happens from the neurological side of things. Pathways in the brain that are repeatedly stimulated are turned into “information superhighways”. Nerve conduction can speed up by as much as a factor of 200 over those pathways that are seldom used. This applies to all pathways. As this happens less and less thought is required to arrive at the end result. This is why you can walk without thinking about it. You don’t need to think about every single muscle movement in order to take a single step without falling over. When you learn to ride a bike, form a habit, accept a religion, fall in love, or memorize the multiplication tables you are building those frequently used pathways. It becomes very, very difficult to deviate from those “superhighways”. You “just know” without having to think about it.
That other people don’t “know the obvious” or “accept the truth” is difficult to understand because it is comes so naturally, easily, and transparently to the speaker. The don’t understand themselves why they think that. “It just is”.
This is why I sometimes ask, “How do you determine truth from falsity?” It should, but frequently doesn’t, put up a road block on that “superhighway” encouraging them to carefully walk that same path examining every single step for legitimacy. Your thoughts are not limited by reality. You can believe things that are not true. You can believe things that are not even possible. You can believe things that are not even internally consistent. You can believe things that don’t even make sense (a square circle). If those pathways are sufficiently traversed the person will believe it without reservation.
I think it is a little unfair to put this burden all on Mark or to ridicule him excessively. I know people, including myself, on my side of the political debate have similar pathways formed. It is only by careful examination, frequently stimulated by spirited debate from those opposed to my belief system, that the pathways are formed over a solid foundation in reality. The real question is, “What is the best way to put up a ‘roadblock’ such that the leaps from realities are examined and rejected?” I don’t know the answer to that question beyond asking “How do you determine truth from falsity?” If that doesn’t work then there isn’t much that can be done other than, as Kevin is doing, using them as an example for others.
As a side note, I would like to point out that it has been almost a month since I asked ubu52 that question. Still no answer.
Update: ubu52 has a broken elbow and has to type one-handed. I’m giving her a two month pass.–Joe]