On Accepting and Understanding


“Evolution is almost universally accepted among those who understand it, almost universally rejected by those who don’t.”

– Richard Dawkins

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15 thoughts on “On Accepting and Understanding

  1. People can accept things they understand, and people can refuse to accept things they understand. People can accept things they do not understand, and people can refuse to accept things they do not understand. Particularly in the latter two cases it is interesting to ask whether it is reasonable for them to do so.

  2. I’m sure, Dawkins accepts quantum mechanics, but I doubt he understands it. It may still be called reasonable because he does so based on the authority of other scientists and faith in scientific method. In most cases, people have reasons for unreasonable behavior.

  3. Is it unreasonable to accept something that you do not quite understand, even if that which you accept is based on solid evidence?

  4. I’d say it’s reasonable. But I’d note that what’s acceptable as “solid evidence” is somewhat subjective and depends on the context.

  5. Whether something is accepted as evidence is subjective. Whether evidence is “sufficient” is also a subjective decision. E.g. here is a 64-page report by Bellingcat with lots of evidence that Russian regular army attacked Ukraine in 2014. https://goo.gl/UJDJTl. Here is a list of 154 references showing Russian army in Ukraine. https://goo.gl/rv9eJV Yet, Russia denies the direct involvement of its military in the conflict and claims that “evidence” obtained from the Internet is not valid. Most Russians believe the government. It’s always possible to deny even the most obvious things.

  6. “Whether something is accepted as evidence is subjective.” I agree. But I feel that does not necessarily make evidence itself subjective. Somehow I regard evidence (in its truest sense) as a matter of fact, regardless of people’s interpretations.

  7. I agree. Evidence itself is factual. Decisions and conclusions that people make based on these facts are subjective. The facts also go through the prism of human perception and presented to other people using language or other means: two other sources of distortion. I came across this interesting article just yesterday. https://goo.gl/DzCB38. It’s amazing that 1/3 of people see something in the third video that isn’t actually there.

  8. Richard Feynman once wrote, “Anyone who says they understand quantum mechanics, doesn’t understand quantum mechanics.

  9. Which seems to imply that quantum mechanics is almost universally accepted among those who don’t understand it and supporting the lack of connection between acceptance and understanding.

  10. It’s more nuanced than that I’m sure. For instance, over the years, the more I’ve read of Heidegger the less (I think) I understand him.

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