Friday, July 19, 2013

Lack of "attribution criticism"

I don't know if there exists an actual term for this, so I decided to term it "attribution criticism." Most people lack the capacity of doing it with certain things.

Many people automatically attribute certain phenomena to certain causes, with no corroborating evidence or testing. For example, alleged miracles are automatically attributed to a god. Even if miracles did happen, on what basis can they be attributed to a god?

Likewise, for instance, many believers will tell you things like "ask God to reveal himself to you, and he will." Again, even if you did that, and even if you strongly felt something, on what basis can you attribute that feeling to the doings of a god? Couldn't it just as well (and in fact more probably) be something a lot more mundane?

Most people simply lack a healthy attribution criticism. They seem incapable of asking themselves the question "how exactly do I know that this phenomenon comes from that alleged source, and not something else entirely?" The alternative source doesn't necessarily even have to be a natural cause. Even a hypothetical supernatural cause, but completely different from the alleged one, is always a possibility (no matter how unlikely, compared to a natural cause.)

At its core, spuriously attributing a phenomenon to a source without any kind of corroborating evidence is just an argument from ignorance.

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