project WORLDVIEW worldview theme info         copyright 2009                Home         

Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #2A: The True Believer   Worldview Theme #2B:

          I Know What's Best For You

Contrast Worldview Themes #2A and #1B --    these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!        

adopting healthy beliefs -- where the evidence for or against buying into a particular belief is not persuasive one way or the other, deciding whether to adopt the belief based on the extent to which it will promote your health and the health of the society you live in. Example: Consider whether to believe in the idea that human beings are all connected to each other in an unseen way. Whereas clearly in the three dimensional world perceived by our ordinary senses human beings are separate, unconnected entities, the possibility exists that humans could be linked in other ways: in higher spatial dimensions, in a spiritual realm, by each being connected to God, etc. Suppose after investigating pro and con evidence related to this belief you are still undecided as to its ultimate truth, but do become convinced that if in fact this were true, and everyone believed it, the world would be a better place -- or at least if you believe it your psychological health will be enhanced (you won’t feel so alone, so alienated, etc.) So you weave this belief and others into your worldview because they have psychological advantages and make you a healthier, more together person and, if others believed them, could make the world a better place -- not because you are unequivocally convinced that they are part of the ultimate, true description of Reality. Similarly you do not buy into other beliefs, not because you’re convinced they are untrue, because you see that they could potentially be unhealthy to you or to society. Example: a young boy decides not to believe that if he behaves badly he will burn in hell because burning in hell scares him and gives him nightmares.  He decides to behave (for other reasons) but not believe in hell and this choice seems healthy.

attitude--a characteristic evaluative orientation and / or response tendency toward something previously experienced or encountered.  The associated evaluation can be positive (like), negative (dislike), or neutral  (no opinion.)  Beyond this evaluation--which may or may not be directly communicated--observing the particular response allows more about the underlying attitude to be inferred. Attitudes form based on inputs from three domains: 1) cognitive (thoughts, beliefs), 2) affective (emotions, feelings), and 3) conative (volition, action tendency or disposition).

beliefs and the brain -- according to the computational theory of the mind, particular beliefs and desires have a physical presence as information stored in the brain given their representation as configurations of links between neurons

cognitive dissonance--refers to the inner tension or perceived incompatibility that one feels from holding conflicting beliefs or behaving in a way that compromises one's deeply held beliefs or values

computational theory of the mind -- asserts that the mind arises from the activity of the brain: responding to input from sensors, inscribing information into memory, processing information, doing computation / running programs, sending signals initiating action, etc. Encoding of information / data patterns and employing the logic needed for computation involve the brain’s one trillion or so neurons (each of which may be connected to up to 1000 other such cells). The brain activates links (synapses) between neurons. If each activation is equated with executing a digital instruction, the brain can execute about a ten million billion such instructions every second. This theory connects the mental world of perceptions, beliefs, desires, thinking, feeling, intending to do something, etc. with the brain and thus provides a solution to the mind--body problem. In emphasizing the role that natural selection played in the mind’s development, it provides insight into why the human mind is what it is and how it got that way.

conversion--refers to a relatively sudden and drastic change in attitude or beliefs, especially religious beliefs

credulous -- refers to a person who is ready to believe, often on slight or uncertain evidence. Thus incredulous refers to one who is not credulous -- that is someone who is skeptical.

dialectic method—testing beliefs, searching for truth or the right way through discussion / dialogue.  Socrates used the approach, emphasizing expressing doubt / questioning.  Hegel emphasized a struggle of opposing forces / demands / viewpoints (idealistic vs.  practical) and sought to explain history in terms of synthesis / compromise between extreme positions.

dogmatic belief -- a belief that is firmly held based on the authority of others, but is actually incompatible with existing facts or based on faulty premises or reasoning . In his book Shadows in the Cave, G. D. Martin distinguishes between dogmatic ‘true believers’ and ‘real believers’. He writes, “According to dogma, the final truth is is therefore finite...Real Belief is being open to change and movement, and to the infinite possibilities of the universe...True believers are orthodox. Real believers are inquiring heretics. True believers feel awe at the grandeur of their own thoughts. Real believers feel awe at the immensity of the unknown... Dogma is credulous. [Real] Belief is skeptical, but forever open-minded.”

epistemology--the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge, its nature, where it comes from, the methods used to obtain it, and the limits faced by humans as they attempt to broaden knowledge.    

faith -- firm belief, complete confidence and trust in something for which there is no proof, often associated with religion and typically linked more to the one's  feelings / emotions  than one's rational / analytical side. Some give this concept a deeper meaning.  Christian  philosopher Paul Tillich connected it with "ultimate concern" as in what should be the ultimate concern to which one's life should be devoted.  In his book Stages of Faith, James Fowler views finding faith as ultimately finding "an overarching, integrating and grounding trust in a center of value and power sufficiently worthy to give our lives unity and meaning."  

judgment -- the process and / or result of forming an opinion or drawing a conclusion based on consideration of the available evidence or knowledge

justification of belief -- This involves 1) believing that according to some standard or by some criterion a statement is actually true, 2) having evidence or data to support the above conclusion, and 3) evaluating the certainty with which the belief is established. In this latter regard, if the evidence or data is complete and fully applicable or relevant to the standard or criterion, the belief can be accepted with certainty; if the evidence is only partially complete and / or not fully applicable or relevant, some doubt should accompany accepting the belief, if it is accepted at all. And, of course, the standard or criterion used should be subjected to similar scrutiny, or at least identified when promoting the belief.

sectarian--beholden to a particular sect (e.g. religion, political party, faction, etc) and thus typically narrow and limited in character or scope, often bigoted.

seekers vs. believers--In his book The Seekers, Daniel Boorstin makes the distinction as follows. "...we are all Seekers.  We all want to know why.  Man is the asking animal. And while the finding, the belief that we have found the Answer, can separate us and make us forget our humanity, it is the seeking that continues to bring us together..."    

superstition -- a position or belief, often with roots in cultural or religious tradition, held despite what could be characterized (by someone not holding the belief) as lack of supporting justification or evidence

value judgment -- comparing either something concrete (person, object, etc) or something abstract (quality, principle, etc) to some idealized standard. A value judgment is what bridges the gap between “what is” and “what ought to be”. Closely related is the act of valuing, which can be thought of as choosing (from alternatives) and taking appropriate action to acquire something (concrete or abstract) or hold onto it.

values -- abstract qualities, principles, beliefs, or aspects of behavior that a person or a whole society holds in high regard after making value judgments.

values articulation -- clarifying values and both 1) affirming them in terms meaningful to others, and 2) exploring the implications of practicing and applying them -- and being able to do both of these in relation to different cultural traditions or within the framework of various diverse belief systems / worldviews.

values clarification, steps in the process of valuing -- 1) privately prizing and cherishing; 2) publicly affirming beliefs and choosing one’s behavior (when appropriate); 3) choosing from alternatives;4) choosing after consideration of consequences; 5) acting on one’s beliefs; 6) acting with a patter, consistency and repetition

wishful thinking--involves interpreting events / actions of others, decision-making and forming beliefs based on what one desires to be true (rather than what is true) or what is  pleasing to imagine (rather than facing the (perhaps grim?) reality behind a situation).   A related orientation--involving deluding oneself and similarly lacking in rational analysis / real world grounding--is "wishing makes it so." This simplistic, fairy tale, magical, childhood fantasy way of dealing with problems is to be contrasted with the planning / hard work / repeated trials before success that adults solving real problems more typically are faced with.  


  Contrast Worldview Themes #2B and #1A --    these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!        

attitude change, factors in--generally people's attitudes change for various reasons, including 1) as a result of  learning, 2) in response to reasoned persuasion directed at them, 3) in response to an emotional appeal directed at them, and 4) to relieve tension by reducing or eliminating a perceived inconsistency or cognitive dissonance.  A corollary of this is that attitude change is less likely to occur when such consistency is already present.

brainwashing -- a forcible indoctrination to persuade someone to give up certain beliefs, attitudes and practices in favor of those espoused by whomever is behind the brainwashing

cult -- those who believe in the dogma and practice the rituals set forth by a charismatic founder or promulgator of something that is supposedly worth believing in.

ethnocentrism -- adopting the social standards of one’s own culture or ethnic group as the basis for evaluating the social practices, customs, beliefs, etc. of another culture -- and doing so because you believe your society’s values and way of living are superior to those of other cultures.

evangelism -- involving a militant or crusading zeal, for example, evangelical Christians efforts to convert others to Christianity. According to Rick Warren, that was one of God's purposes in creating human life.

evangelicalism, new--a Christian activist movement that broadens evangelicalism beyond its past focus on converting others to Christianity, pro-life and other issues important to the religious right, to also include pro-poor, pro-social justice issues important to the left. This "new social gospel" brings with it a global perspective

humility and tolerance--starting from the idea that humility involves limiting the "space" one takes up and leaving room for others, one can extend this to include leaving room for others to hold beliefs that differ from one's own, i.e. tolerance.  Those who feel this way may also value the notion that no one has the right to impose their beliefs on others.  

interpersonal communication effectiveness, behavioral model--according to this model the effective communicator 1) has social confidence, 2) creates a sense of togetherness, 3) controls and monitors the interaction so that both speaker and listener(s) are satisfied, 4) expresses a feeling of genuine involvement, and 5) is attentive to, listens, elicits, adapts to and is concerned with the needs and feelings of the audience.

interpersonal communication effectiveness, humanistic model-- according to this model the effective communicator possesses these qualities: 1) openness--besides disclosing his or her thoughts and feelings, this includes taking responsibility for them and reacting honestly to feedback others provide,  2) empathy, 3) supportiveness--includes being tentative rather than certain, and accepting or descriptive rather than judgmental, 4) positiveness--both in one's own attitude but also in providing others with positive reinforcement, and 5) the ability to communicate as an equal and to give others "unconditional positive regard" (as humanistic psychology founder Carl Rogers put it.)

interpersonal communication, relevance of--effective communication can enhance one's ability to engage in intimate relationships, parenting, counseling, teaching, coaching or mentoring, mediating or resolving conflicts, managing workers, persuading others, selling something, etc. 

intervention philosophy--the rationale or ideological justification guiding imperialistic conquest, colonialism, or missionary activity.  

leadership--the capacity to lead, influence, and affect the behavior of others.  Charismatic leaders motivate and inspire others to accomplish (sometimes extraordinary) things that they otherwise wouldn't do.  Such leaders communicate their vision and attract followers by infusing them with energy and eagerness for undertaking a particular mission.

lobbyist--a person paid to act on behalf of a particular corporation, union, organization, etc. in aggressively promoting their agenda to elected representatives or those in positions of power in governments.  In some  democracies (like the United States), lobbyists help funnel campaign contributions to politicians--which often subvert the will of the people critics charge.

micromanaging -- refers to the inability of a person in charge to delegate decision-making to others but instead to intervene with them in a way that involves controlling or directing in a detailed, sometimes nit-picking, usually  meddlesome manner. On the plus side, such behavior lets subordinates know that "the boss" cares about how things are done and is there to help when needed, and such intervention can help in coaching or mentoring employees. On the downside, micromanaging can lead to unmotivated, discouraged employees who feel their abilities are not being respected, and can foster a climate of distrust. Perhaps more importantly, in attempting to do other people's jobs and paying too much attention to small details, "the boss" can spread himself or herself too thin and miss bigger, more important things elsewhere.

persuasive communication techniques--with respect to the nature of what is communicated, a Yale University research study found that 1) messages should not appear to be designed to persuade; 2) both sides of arguments should be presented, with the "wrong" argument being refuted; 3) if two people are to speak, one immediately following the other, going first is preferred (based on the primacy effect from psychology);  4) if two people are to speak, with a time delay in between, going last is preferred (based on the recency effect from psychology).

practice what you preach -- a proverbial admonition that urges you to do yourself what you advise others to do, or more generally to behave according to your otherwise enunciated beliefs and values.  If the gulf between the reality of your behavior and your ideals is great then you may be criticized (by yourself or others) for being a hypocrite, and  your self esteem and / or effectiveness at motivating others may suffer. 

propaganda -- broadly speaking, information that is designed and disseminated as part of a concerted effort to influence what individuals believe or want, and manipulate public opinion and desires.

prophet--an inspired person who supposedly speaks the word of God or communicates divine revelation

pusher --a derogatory term referring to someone who consciously makes an effort to hook someone on an addictive product or behavior -- including a consumerist lifestyle. With respect to this latter possibility, one can argue that the most massive pusher effort in history involves the nearly impossible to escape advertising messages of multinational corporations trying to hook individuals on wanting and continually spending money on things that they don’t really need.

reason vs. faith—essentially the distinction here is between belief supported by facts and concepts, ultimately linked to observation and experience, which fit together in a coherent way as part of a useful, logical framework, and belief for which there is no such basis, but instead only one’s unshaken feeling of confidence, trust, and willingness to believe.  When one’s knowledge and experience is limited, belief can be extended based on trusting the authority of someone else, rather than doing one’s own investigation into the rational basis for belief.  Sometimes, there is no way to rationally or scientifically decide and anyone holding such belief holds it through faith.  In this way faith can be connected with belonging.  Some see faith as a valid basis for knowledge, others say it provides no such basis.  Some see reason as threatening faith--meaning as one increasingly relies on it, one’s reliance on faith diminishes.

scientism--an ideology that asserts that 1) the methods of the natural sciences should be used in all areas of investigation including philosophy, humanities, and the social sciences, and 2) only these methods can fruitfully be used in the quest for knowledge.  

sectarianism--involving the asserting of rigid sectarian dogmatism and inflexibility--which often leads to conflict between sects (e.g. religions, political parties, factions, etc)

stroking--rather than being indifferent to another, this generally refers to positively acknowledging the person by complimenting, recognizing, and other verbal or non-verbal communication chosen to make that person feel good.

task oriented -- used to describe a person who focuses attention and personal energy on completing a particular task. Often such a person is goal driven and may care more about the cognitive aspects and mechanics of completing tasks than about related emotional or esthetic concerns that others might find important

unsolicited advice—telling someone what they should do without their asking for your opinion or help.  If you have legitimate authority over the person  getting the advice (e.g. you’re his or her boss, teacher, doctor, etc) then your communication may be viewed as instructive, helpful, or supplying guidance (Although even then, carried to extreme it can be micromanaging.)  Otherwise this behavior may be thought of as meddlesome and may be fended off with a “Mind your own business!” admonition.



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