Belief Perseverance, by Michael Matthews

Belief Perseverance is when a person believes something, the belief or concept is disproven, and the person continues to believe.  The persistence of believing could result in creating some wild explanations for why the disproving wasn’t valid, or some other stubborn and out-there explanation, which usually makes the believer seem weird.  The example of Jenny McCarthy in class was a great illustration of her efforts to bring parental anecdotes into the realm of scientific inquiry—or in other words, her efforts to invalidate the thing that disproved her belief.

In my own life, I saw an example of belief perseverance in my sister-in-law.  She spends a lot of time on the internet, reading articles, reading books, reading almost anything she can find.  This makes her generally well-informed, and also concerned with having correct information.  She is also studying law here at BYU.  These two factors combine to make her always right, at least, in her mind.  So the other day we were talking about the recent slew of fairy tale spinoffs, movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, and the TV show Once Upon a Time—and my wife and I mentioned that the co-creators of Lost were behind that show.  We had just read that the night before on Wikipedia, but we hadn’t mentioned that yet.

Imagine our surprise when my sister-in-law told us it wasn’t true.  We went back and forth for a few seconds, my wife and I maintaining that it was true because we had read it, and my sister-in-law not believing it.  What more proof did my sister-in-law want?  We read it on Wikipedia—that’s good enough for most people!  My wife and I were quite vexed that she would just flat out disagree with us, even though our information was legitimate and correct.  She persevered in her belief that the co-creators of Lost were not involved in the creation of Once Upon a Time.  Fortunately, her perseverance eventually came to an end, when she accepted the validity of the Wikipedia entry and conceded (painfully, I’m sure) that she was wrong.

The funny thing is, none of us even watch the show or care about it at all.  I actually had to ask a co-worker what the name of the show was, before writing this.

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