Recently on a collaborative podcast, I used the phrase “factose intolerant” to describe a condition faced by many human beings. This is not a condition specific to those who subscribe to any particular set of beliefs; I’ve seen this condition afflicting people of all beliefs.
We all have a tendency to ignore the facts that don’t conveniently mesh with our existing beliefs in a straightforward way, and we have a tendency to emphasize the facts that do conveniently mesh with our existing beliefs. This is our default cognitive setting, if you will.
In order to reduce the problem of being unwilling to face the facts that aren’t easy to fit into our worldviews, we have to gradually build a habit of putting facts ahead of our ideologies and incorporating them into our worldviews in a way that may change our beliefs and behaviors. Some of us are in the process of building that habit.
On the other hand, many people are not interested in adapting so as to be able to digest facts and integrate evidence into their worldviews in a coherent way. We can put facts on the menu all we want, but they will not eat at the Big Evidence Buffet. And what’s worse, those who are factose intolerant will insist that the facts aren’t facts at all and can be safely left on the table.
They will subsist instead on an easy-but-unhealthy diet of ideological dogmas which are the comfort food of the mind. This is understandable, because a diet of facts requires a fair amount of chewing on data in order to make it digestible. And who has the time and energy for that? For this reason, I don’t expect that factose intolerance is going to become any less common as more facts become available to us.
Hopefully we can find a treatment for factose intolerance and help people digest more facts so that they can have a more nourished and substantial mind. But I won’t be holding my breath while I wait for the cure.