Two months ago I wrote an article called “What a UFO Taught Me About Faith”* and in that article I wrote the following statement:
…people will believe what they want to believe, they will see evidence to support what they what to believe and they will refuse to accept any contrary evidence no matter how definitive that contrary evidence may be.
I have recently finished reading a book, Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington, about the way UFO related “evidence” has been used as a disinformation tool by the US Military and Security Services. Pilkington makes the point that despite the clear and recognised evidence of this happening, people choose to go on believing far stranger alternative views.
Here are some quotes from the book about this tendency of people to “believe what they want to believe”.Quote one is an epigraph, credited to Louis Pasteur, introducing chapter 11 of the book
The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so
Quote 2 comes towards the end of chapter 11
The believers don’t want to know the truth, they only want to have their pre-existing beliefs confirmed and elaborated upon.
Quote 3 comes from chapter 12
Festinger found that if someone believes something to be true, and all of the evidence suggests that it isn’t true, then, rather than restarting their life with a new set of beliefs, they will often cling more fervently to the old ones, generating new explanations for the conflict in their reality.
Leon Festinger was the author of a 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, about a UFO cult that, through “extra-terrestrial messages” had been led to believe prophecies of a global deluge in December 1954. Pilkington notes that when the destruction “failed to take place, rather than leave the group, many of [the] followers became more dedicated in their beliefs”. Compare to similar responses in the “christian” world demonstrated at the links below **.
** See the following links