See Daniel Gilbert’s article in the New York Times, “I’m Okay, You’re Biased” (thanks to Matt Bertrand for the link). It mentions some studies on self-deception, noting, among other things, that
“By uncritically accepting evidence when it pleases us, and insisting on more when it doesn’t, we subtly tip the scales in our favor.”
No kidding. Those unsympathetic to traditional Christianity have been swallowing Michael Baigent’s (/Dan Brown’s) nonsense with a vengeance (see here), and it’s only going to get worse after the release of The DaVinci Code film. Meanwhile, the enthusiasm — even in scholarly circles — for Tom Wright’s “resurrection evidence” has been no less astounding. We know that lack of precedent has never been an obstacle to religious creativity, yet people continue parroting Wright just the same: “no ancient Jew would have claimed that a messiah was raised before the end, unless he really was”. I’m not saying that Wright is generally comparable to Baigent, but on this particular point he is, and the massive followings garnered by each on the basis of pseudo-evidence or -logic point to the self-deception phenomenon mentioned in Gilbert’s article. We take what’s pleasing to us, however bogus the evidence (Baigent), however greasy the logic (Wright).
I love this part:
“Because the brain cannot see itself fooling itself, the only reliable method for avoiding bias is to avoid the situations that produce it.”