[ExI] Prisoner of bad philosophy: Carl Sagan couldn’t allow himself to hope

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Aug 4 18:48:25 UTC 2018

On Sun, 5 Aug 2018 at 3:36 am, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com>

> Interestingly, part of the definition of a delusion in psychiatry (e.g. in
> the DSM) is that the belief is not held by people from the same culture. If
> this  criterion were not included then religious beliefs and other beliefs
> held in the absence of evidence would be classed as delusional.
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
> *Which just goes to show you that you should not let psychiatrists be in
> charge of anything important (especially things like involuntary
> incarceration).  Do you know how things get into and out of (like
> homosexuality) the DSM?  Voted on at conventions - by some who are lit up
> like a supernova.  Realize that the DSM is a political and cultural thing,
> not a scientific categorization.  For the worst case of this, look at
> Russia and China and see who they regard as abnormal.*

Syndromes and diagnoses in psychiatry change all the time, but symptoms are
consistent across time and across cultures, and can generally be recognised
by laypeople. So a problem arises if someone comes up with a clearly crazy
belief but it seems objectively no more crazy than many widely held
religious beliefs: what is it that distinguishes the two types of belief?
It is telling that a special exception needs to be made for religion, and
the basic difference is that if you come up with the belief on your own you
are delusional, while if you received the same belief from your parents you
are not.

A further criterion distinguishing religious belief from delusion is that
in the case of delusion the belief leads to dysfunction within the society
where the delusional personal lives; but how is this criterion to be
applied when, for example, people blow themselves up to honour their god?

> --
Stathis Papaioannou
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