Is reason your guide?

Mark Roberts cautions (What To Do If Someone Sins Against You: Jesus Sets Up the Case)

If you’re a person who tends to overreact and accuse others of wrongdoing, you may want to be sure you’re not misusing Matthew 18 by confronting those who haven’t done anything wrong to you. On the contrary, if you’re someone who tends to avoid conflict at all costs – someone like, me, for instance – watch out for your own denial and rationalization.

The same phenomena is seen in health and medicine where an individual can suffer both physically and emotionally. Kathy Kastner notes that Health decisions are not entirely based on evidence based data noting a psychologist and author who rationalizes by asserting that “Science tells us nothing about the individual.” Kastner calls this rationalization “a bunch of hooey” and explains why.

Steven Novella provides another example in the attacks on aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.

If you believe everything you read on the internet, then is seems that a chemical found in thousands of products is causing an epidemic of severe neurological and systemic diseases, like multiple sclerosis and lupus. The FDA, the companies that make the product, and the “medical industrial complex” all know about the dangers of this chemical but are hiding the truth from the public in order to protect corporate profits and avoid the pesky paper work that would accompany the truth being revealed.

As I have noted before – you have to interpret a literature, not a single study. The results of one lab or one study can be erroneous. When decades have produced hundreds of studies on a question, the cherry pickers will always have a lot to choose from. That is why systematic reviews are necessary, and it is also necessary to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each type of research.

A conspiracy to hide the risks of aspartame, however, remains a popular internet urban legend that will likely not disappear anytime soon.

“Watch out for your own denial and rationalization” is good advice. When you assign ideas and actions you don’t like to hidden conspiracies, when you are very selective about what studies you will accept, when you don’t look at your own influence on what you see and believe, intellectual integrity is in question.

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