Untrüglicher Indikator für „intellectual black holes“ sei das berühmte Shakespeare-Zitat von den Dingen zwischen Himmel und Erde:
When you hear that, alarm bells should go off“,
erklärt Law in einem Interview mit dem New Scientist.
Dort stellt Law sein neues Buch „Believing Bullshit“ vor.
Ein Auszug aus dem Gespräch:
You describe your new book, Believing Bullshit, as a guide to avoid getting sucked into „intellectual black holes“. What are they?
Intellectual black holes are belief systems that draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves of claptrap. Belief in homeopathy, psychic powers, alien abductions – these are examples of intellectual black holes.
As you approach them, you need to be on your guard because if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again.“
You identify some strategies people use to defend black hole beliefs. Tell me about one of them – „playing the mystery card“?
This involves appealing to mystery to get out of intellectual hot water when someone is, say, propounding paranormal beliefs. They might say something like: „Ah, but this is beyond the ability of science and reason to decide.
You, Mr Clever Dick Scientist, are guilty of scientism, of assuming science can answer every question.“ This is often followed by that quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: „There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy“. When you hear that, alarm bells should go off.
In your book you also talk about the „going nuclear“ tactic. What is this?
When someone is cornered in an argument, they may decide to get sceptical about reason. They might say: „Ah, but reason is just another faith position.“ I call this „going nuclear“ because it lays waste to every position. It brings every belief – that milk can make you fly or that George Bush was Elvis Presley in disguise – down to the same level so they all appear equally „reasonable“ or „unreasonable“.
Of course, you can be sure that the moment this person has left the room, they will continue to use reason to support their case if they can, and will even trust their life to reason: trusting that the brakes on their car will work or that a particular drug is going to cure them.“