The Interpreter Foundation

Discussions toward a better understanding of LDS doctrine, history, and culture. Discussion of Christianity, religion, and faith in general is welcome.
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Hagoth
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The Interpreter Foundation

Post by Hagoth » Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:46 pm

Anybody familiar with The Interpreter Foundation? I don't remember seeing the name before, but it appears to be Daniel Petersen and his buddies from FARMS.

The latest FAIR newlsetter has an opening statement by Steve Densley, the Executive Vice President of the foundation. In it he talks about how difficult it is to change peoples' minds because of confirmation bias and boomerang effect (aka backfire effect).

He concludes:

"Despite all this, people sometimes do change their opinions. So how does this happen? Shalot (author if a book that discusses the two effects mentioned above) found that in order to facilitate a change in beliefs, we must start by building on common beliefs. She writes, “to shift opinions we need to first consider the other person’s mind. What are their pre-established notions? What are their motivations?” Once we are standing on common ground, we can focus on information that is close to the heart of the person we seek to persuade. As we provide evidence that fits a person’s preexisting beliefs, they are more likely to pay attention and begin to shift in their views.

So, as we counter critics of the Church and provide evidence to support belief, we would do well to start on common ground, especially in ways that address shared motives, fears, hopes and desires."

I think this is excellent advice and I totally agree with Steve. The problem is finding common ground in a situation where all of one person's starting points are faith-based and the other person rejects unsupported beliefs. It would be fascinating to have a discussion with a believer who is willing to start from a position of evidence and falsifiability, and who is willing to give the former-believer's evidence equal weight to their own, in other words to stick to empirical/objective evidence rather than resorting to personal emotion and conviction, or to statements of authority figures.

The gotcha seems to be that the believer is incapable of fully putting himself/herself into the mind of the former-believer, but the former-believer can fully understand and empathize with the mental environment of the believer.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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moksha
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by moksha » Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:58 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:46 pm
Anybody familiar with The Interpreter Foundation? I don't remember seeing the name before, but it appears to be Daniel Petersen and his buddies from FARMS.
The Interpreter was founded by Dr. Peterson when his association with BYU's Maxwell Institute ended.

Here is a link to Dr. Peterson's blog. The blog articles all come with a discussion thread.
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Hagoth
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by Hagoth » Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:03 pm

moksha wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:58 pm
The blog articles all come with a discussion thread.
Is that as dreadful as it sounds?
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

Reuben
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by Reuben » Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:44 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:46 pm
The gotcha seems to be that the believer is incapable of fully putting himself/herself into the mind of the former-believer, but the former-believer can fully understand and empathize with the mental environment of the believer.
I think that's partly true.

Have you ever had difficulty empathizing with yourself of two days ago? Maybe you had been angry and had acted in supposed self-defense, but couldn't anymore remember why it felt like a life-or-death situation. I'll go out on a limb and say that's happened to you. It's really common.

Now, if we sometimes have such difficulty empathizing with ourselves, just because we're feeling different emotions, I don't think we're on solid ground supposing that we can easily empathize with someone who feels the same way about the church as we used to.

I remember feeling a warm glow when listening to General Conference. I remember feeling threatened when people brought up uncomfortable facts about Joseph Smith. I remember thinking how obvious it was that the church is true. The thing I can't do easily now is summon the feelings and chains of reasoning that used to follow, because remembering isn't the same as being. So I have to use the same tools I use with everyone else: compassion, listening, substitution tricks, and regular old difficult cognitive empathy.

I think I get some advantages from having been wired up to the collective, but because I've been disconnected for a while, they're only starting points and collections of facts.
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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moksha
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by moksha » Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:34 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:03 pm
moksha wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 4:58 pm
The blog articles all come with a discussion thread.
Is that as dreadful as it sounds?
As long as you can put up with the harsh and aggressive side of Mormonism it can be okay. The defense of the gospel can be a rough and tumble business at the hands of apologists so one needs to gird their loins with the mercy of Jesus, before entering.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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alas
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by alas » Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:39 pm

Reuben wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:44 pm
Hagoth wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:46 pm
The gotcha seems to be that the believer is incapable of fully putting himself/herself into the mind of the former-believer, but the former-believer can fully understand and empathize with the mental environment of the believer.
I think that's partly true.

Have you ever had difficulty empathizing with yourself of two days ago? Maybe you had been angry and had acted in supposed self-defense, but couldn't anymore remember why it felt like a life-or-death situation. I'll go out on a limb and say that's happened to you. It's really common.

Now, if we sometimes have such difficulty empathizing with ourselves, just because we're feeling different emotions, I don't think we're on solid ground supposing that we can easily empathize with someone who feels the same way about the church as we used to.

I remember feeling a warm glow when listening to General Conference. I remember feeling threatened when people brought up uncomfortable facts about Joseph Smith. I remember thinking how obvious it was that the church is true. The thing I can't do easily now is summon the feelings and chains of reasoning that used to follow, because remembering isn't the same as being. So I have to use the same tools I use with everyone else: compassion, listening, substitution tricks, and regular old difficult cognitive empathy.

I think I get some advantages from having been wired up to the collective, but because I've been disconnected for a while, they're only starting points and collections of facts.
This is good.

I thought of it in terms of fear. Remembering being afraid is not the same as being afraid. Fear has an irrational element. I can remember being afraid that my belief in God could be undermined. But now that it has happened, I see how silly the fear really is. My life is actually better now that I have accepted that I don’t know. So, my reaction to the people who are still afraid is like a tired parent at 2 am with a child who is afraid of the monster under the bed. “Oh good grief, don’t be stupid.” And that is no way to deal with someone who is afraid. Fear is really quite irrational and a person cannot be “logicked” out of it. But you can remember feeling the fear, but you just cannot empathize with the irrationality of it. Once you regain rationality, the fear dissipates.

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mossy back
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by mossy back » Sun Jun 14, 2020 7:17 am

Apologists drive me crazy. I had no idea what confirmation bias was until I had to detangle myself from Mormonism and now apologists want to claim that I have confirmation bias! Actually, when I really think about it, I still have to be careful of my own confirmation bias and I do have to keep an open mind with confronting my internal ideas of the world. But I am sorry, I cannot stomach reading the church's essays anymore, I just can't. Once I had my 'Aha' moment that the church was false, things made more sense. Life makes more sense.

My older brother and sister in law are the only people in my extended family that know I am not a member anymore. In a discussion about why I left the church, I brought up the rock in the hat. Both my brother and sister in law said they knew about this troubling situation and were okay with it. My internal voice was screaming, 'Are you kidding me!!!! For all of our lives the church failed to acknowledge this fact!!!!!!!!!!! You are okay with that?!?!?!?!'
But I have learned through hard lessons not to rock the boat with my believing family members and religion. If someone chooses to believe, I can respect that and I calmly asked, 'So have you seen any good movies lately?'

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Hagoth
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:10 am

alas wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:39 pm
I thought of it in terms of fear. Remembering being afraid is not the same as being afraid. Fear has an irrational element. I can remember being afraid that my belief in God could be undermined. But now that it has happened, I see how silly the fear really is. My life is actually better now that I have accepted that I don’t know. So, my reaction to the people who are still afraid is like a tired parent at 2 am with a child who is afraid of the monster under the bed. “Oh good grief, don’t be stupid.” And that is no way to deal with someone who is afraid. Fear is really quite irrational and a person cannot be “logicked” out of it. But you can remember feeling the fear, but you just cannot empathize with the irrationality of it. Once you regain rationality, the fear dissipates.
That is a great analogy, Alas.

Whether or not empathy is the best word, we have all walked that faithful path and we know how scary the idea of leaving it is. From that mindset you cannot leave the church in any healthy, positive way; you can only fall from grace through sin or succumb to deception, and ruin your eternal family though your selfishness.

We can all probably remember the anger and pity we felt for friends or loved ones who lost their faith and fell away. That's an emotion that I can still empathize with very strongly.

I can't number the times I have heard members of the church criticizing "apostates" for saying they're happier or that they have found freedom, when really they have just been deceived or fallen into the bondage of sin. After all, there's a big difference between happiness (what apostates feel) and joy (what believing Mormons feel), right?

The idea that your life can get better by not believing that angels follow you around taking notes of every action, that some guy in SLC has unimpeachable authority over you because he talks to God, and that you might actually be better off living by your own moral compass independent of a multi-level hierarchy of moral policing (even though they would never put it in those kinds of terms) is incomprehensible.

Or that the evidence against the church's truth claims is exactly what it appears to be without layer-upon-layer of apologetic spin.

Mormons commonly divide the world into members and non-members. Non-members are wandering in darkness just waiting for us to usher them into the light or save their souls after they die. And then there are former-members who have deliberately turned their back on God and goodness (even though, deep down inside they really KNOW it was true and would admit it if they had the courage), and they are headed for disaster in the long run.

The biggest gap comes into play when they can't understand that you are where you are today, not because you DIDN'T care about truth, but because you probably cared MORE than most of the people around you did. That you needed the gospel to be true so desperately that you were willing to really put it to the test and let it prove its claims. They can't understand that mindblowing parallax shift when you finally find yourself outside of the box looking in, BUT you can remember when you couldn't have understood it either. Not until those little pesky problems of doctrine, history, and logic just kept wearing on you and making you more and more uncomfortable until you had no choice but to gird up your loins chase the rabbit down the hole, damn the torpedoes.

In the end the ones who muster up that kind of courage end up being labelled as the cowards.

That's what I'm talking about.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Red Ryder
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by Red Ryder » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:20 am

This is what happens when you defund the church thought police.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

Apologeticsislying
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by Apologeticsislying » Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:25 pm

Hagoth
The latest FAIR newlsetter has an opening statement by Steve Densley, the Executive Vice President of the foundation. In it he talks about how difficult it is to change peoples' minds because of confirmation bias and boomerang effect (aka backfire effect).
No. The way to change minds, the true way is with actual and viable evidence. I say evidence trumps all else, without it there is no changing minds. The constantly talk all around evidence because they lack any. It is just that simple.
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

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RubinHighlander
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Re: The Interpreter Foundation

Post by RubinHighlander » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:01 pm

Apologeticsislying wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:25 pm
Hagoth
The latest FAIR newlsetter has an opening statement by Steve Densley, the Executive Vice President of the foundation. In it he talks about how difficult it is to change peoples' minds because of confirmation bias and boomerang effect (aka backfire effect).
No. The way to change minds, the true way is with actual and viable evidence. I say evidence trumps all else, without it there is no changing minds. The constantly talk all around evidence because they lack any. It is just that simple.
Evidence helps some minds change, but many it does not. Their own egos or tribalistic view of the world simply filters out the facts. We know this from our own conversations with TBMs. We see lots of evidence of this every day in the news. We see it with groups like the Flat Earth Society, as shown in the Netflix documentary "Behind the Curve". Killing someone's ego for a while with something like magic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants can definitely change minds! Check out Michael Pollan's book "How to Change Your Mind". Set and setting is most important of course, but with that it can have an 80% success rate.
“Sir,' I said to the universe, 'I exist.' 'That,' said the universe, 'creates no sense of obligation in me whatsoever.”
--Douglas Adams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzmYP3PbfXE

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