I'm using the term "epistemological defeatism" as a label for the view that good epistemology (reasoning based on logic and evidence) is a losing strategy for changing minds.  (usually because of the flawed nature of people's minds, and usually in politics, religion, etc.).

This is unlike Agnosticism, which is the view that, even if our belief formation was perfectly logical, we simply lack the information/data/facts required to answer some question.

But doesn't science say that epistemological defeatism is true?

I don't currently have an exhaustive knowledge of the science on this, but here's some links debunking some of those claims:

Also note: scientific studies often are measuring average human capability.  It is illogical to conclude that, therefore, we can't grow to do better.  As an analogy, imagine a study of average human strength.  If the study found it was low among the general population, would that mean that it was impossible to become stronger?  No, clearly we know from other studies how to become stronger using the right physical exercise methodology.  You could also do comparisons to other skill training, or even methods of curing phobias (since fear can be a cause of bias).  Defeatism is not warranted.

Different versions of Epistemological Defeatism

In some specific cases, some of these might be true. For example, some people really do seem to have strong delusion. But, that probably has to be determined in a case-by-case basis, it hasn't been found to fit any easy general rules.

Strong VS weak (or "possibility" VS "practicality"):

  • reason can't convince
  • reason isn't effective enough as a strategy to convince

1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, etc. ("who" can't be convinced):

  • I'm too irrational to be convinced by reason
  • you are too irrational to be convinced by reason
  • they are too irrational to be convinced by reason

See also:

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