ICR: “We’re Not Daft, You Are!”

This creationist adventure begins in an unlikely fashion. There’s an article about some psychology research at the website of Cornell University: People are biased against creative ideas, studies find. It says:

“How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it?” said Jack Goncalo, ILR School assistant professor of organizational behavior and co-author of research to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science. The paper reports on two 2010 experiments at the University of Pennsylvania involving more than 200 people.

What’s the “ILR School”? We had to search a bit before finding this: “ILR was founded in 1945 as the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations.” They seem to have outgrown the name. Anyway, Cornell says these are the paper’s findings, which we repeat without comment:

• Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.

• People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical — tried and true.

• Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.

• Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea.

This appears to be a copy of the published article. It’s an 11-page pdf file. You can see how it might be applicable to the peculiar behavior of creationists, but we’ve never studied psychology so we offer no opinion.

There’s a much more interesting way to approach this: How would a creationist react upon learning about this psychology research? Would he see his own quirky attitudes being described? Well, we have a good example of a creationist response, and it’s quite amusing.

Let us visit the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. There we find this new post about that psychology paper: Study Says People Subconsciously Resist Creative Ideas. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

[P]sychologists recently found that most of the same people who desire creativity are also biased against it, leading them to reject creative ideas before giving them a fair assessment. Could this explain why some also reject the idea of a Creator?

Whoa! Where did that come from? Well … creative, creator … yeah, they sound alike. Let’s read on:

Apparently, people tend to be governed by a deep-seated desire to maintain a sense of certainty. New ideas can trigger discomfort, since they introduce unfamiliar possibilities. The study authors cited research demonstrating that people have “a strong motivation to diminish and avoid” feelings of uncertainty. As a result, many will reject ideas that threaten feelings of certainty, regardless of whether or not those ideas have merit.

Yes, we’ve all noticed how certain people — cough, cough — seem to behave just that way. But as we continue with ICR’s discussion, you will notice that somehow they don’t gain any insight into their own intellectually impoverished lives. No, dear reader, it’s not they who have psychological problems — we do! Get this:

The idea of a Creator is often unwelcome to those who have assumed that God either does not exist or is not responsible for the origin of the world. Many scientists have been expelled from their jobs or research positions due to their willingness to entertain new and creative origins ideas that venture outside the dictates of evolutionary dogma. In light of Goncalo and his colleagues’ research, it could be that those who expelled such scientists feared risk to themselves and/or social rejection if they entertained possibilities outside those sanctioned by their hidebound associates.

You see, dear reader, your rejection of the creative genius of creationists is because you prefer to reject creative ideas. They make you uncomfortable. Instead, you stick to your old outworn science. Here’s how it ends:

Thus, perhaps the idea of a Creator is rejected not because it is a bad idea, but merely because it stirs feelings of uncertainty in the minds of those who have subscribed to evolution (whether or not the evidence supports it).

It kinda makes you want to re-evaluate the whole situation, doesn’t it? Hey, think about it. What are you afraid of?

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “ICR: “We’re Not Daft, You Are!”

  1. The idea of a creator would perhaps have been creative when it was first made up.
    Freudian slip?

  2. I have been reevaluating the situation for years, thanks to some intriguing ideas from a small minority of fellow “Darwinists” (IOW I don’t claim credit as the “creator” of this idea, I’m just one of it’s few champions). What I find fascinating about the psychology of evolution-deniers, is how sometimes what they find most appalling is the rejection of a creator, “forgetting” that many evolution-deniers (e.g. panspermists) also reject a creator . But other times (usually when they’re caught trying to peddle a false dichotomy) what they find most appalling is the “accommodationist” attitude of theistic evolutionists, “forgetting” that even hard-line (heliocentric) YECs are “accommodationists” to geocentrists and flat-earthers. And in increasingly rare moments of candor, what they find most appalling is how fellow fundamentalist evolution-deniers do not endorse their particular pseudoscience, be it YEC or OEC.

    I’m no expert in psychology, but when I hear the word “schizo” that’s the kind of behavior that comes to mind. Though the cynic in me is increasingly convinced that, for most anti-evolution activists, it’s not a mental problem, but a deliberate scam.

  3. “How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it?”

    Many years ago I heard a rock n’roll radio station manager make a similar observation. When radio stations ask listeners what sort of music they want, the answer is always “more variety, more new songs.” But when you track actual listening patterns, it turns out the opposite is true: more people actually tune in when you play music they are familiar with. More pepole tune away when the music is is a new song or a b-side (to use an old turn of phrase) song from a known band.

    I tend to think the same effect may be operative in politics: that one reason people are constantly disappointed is because what they consciously think they want and what makes them happy are different. This leads to frustration regardless of what government does: when they make you happy, you think they aren’t listening to you, and when they listen to you, the result doesn’t seem to make you happy.

  4. @Eric:

    I’m as fascinated with the evolution of music as I am with biological evolution, and I have noticed that same strange phenomenon (claiming to want more variety, but always gravitating to “sameness”) for decades.

  5. @FrankJ: “Though the cynic in me is increasingly convinced that, for most anti-evolution activists, it’s not a mental problem, but a deliberate scam”

    you’re certainly right about the big names like Hambo, the Discoveroids or the convicted felon Dr. Dino, but a fair few really believe what they peddle. Especially those representing national church organizations like the Missouri Synod Lutherans, actually believe and really don’t have a financial incentive to do so. I personally know a few and they really don’t have a financial stake in the sham, but they are passionate about it anyway.

    I think this research is probably right, that most people are just scared of truly creative ideas that challenge their status quo.

  6. don’t know what happened there, but the above comment was mine.

  7. thank you, your Curmudgeonliness.