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proof in the scientific science (sense?) is not enough if you are not in a mythical scientific world

Right, but it's not quite what I meant. Most people in the cultures we live in (and with whom we would wish to communicate) are, to some extent, in a mythical scientific world. They have notions to do with "proof", "facts", "observation", they share a narrative about science's ability to deal with these things (even if the narrative is relatively sketchy). In some cases they may believe in science in a quasi-religious manner. So that kind of narrative may be persuasive.

But I was asking, with the word "proof", about rational discourse that does not demand a leap of faith. The free market ideology offers a belief system: invisible hand, wheels within wheels, immutable laws calling for purity of application to produce magical outcomes. This narrative works, people go along with it. If you tell them, look, reality is complex, there are all kinds of problems with asymmetric information and influence, not to speak of plain power, that skew things so the pure market narrative is inapplicable, you'll be followed by a small number who were probably already thinking that anyway.

So I was wondering, do people really prefer to be asked to believe? Is a leap of faith attractive?

I think I can say from my own experience, having lived part of my life in a very religious setting, that a leap of faith offers relief. People speak of their happiness that a burden has rolled away from their backs. In the Christian narrative, that burden is explained as sin, but I think it's the burden of existence as an individual with the responsibility of making choices; the leap of faith is abandonment to predetermined choices, to a complete explanatory narrative of what you must do each day, to a new belonging to a collective existence (the body of believers). Those who find that hugely satisfying may have psychological weaknesses of the kind exploited by cults... But still, one can see the kind of pleasurable emotions the leap of faith can bring about.

Does an attractive/persuasive narrative (seductive, to use tbg's term), have to offer some or all of these elements, even in an attenuated form?

By asking people to accept a narrative that we call reality or fact-based, are we at risk of producing anxiety?

How far are we willing to think in terms of a new progressive narrative that entails a leap of faith?

Or does any complete narrative, anyway, call for the suspension of disbelief?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 11:47:39 AM EST
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