BLATANTLY Contradictory Beliefs Held By the Same People

First, I’ll make one (almost certainly vain) request: stick to examples that actually fit the topic, and not cases of mere inconsistency or ordinary hypocrisy.

Some may think it’s contradictory to support abortion while opposing capital punishment (or vice versa), but that’s not the kind of thing that interests me here. A fetus and an adult murderer are NOT exactly the same thing, so it’s not blatantly contradictory to have more compassion for one than for the other (I won’t get into which one deserves that compassion more).

Nor do I really care about contradictions that lie beneath the surface, that only become clear after people give them a great deal of thought (more thought than most of us tend to give to our principles).

Rather, what interests me is how people are able to believe passionately in two things that are utterly and OBVIOUSLY contradictory.

Mindboggling real-life example: all over the Middle East, Muslims will tell you simultaneously that

  1. Osama Bin Laden is a hero for striking at the Great Satan on 9/11

  2. Osama is innocent, and was framed by the Jews/the CIA/whoever.

Now, I happen to think the former argument is disgusting and the latter absurd… but individually, each argument may seem plausible to some. But no sane, intelligent person can possibly believe BOTH that Osama didn’t mastermind the WTC attacks AND that he’s a hero for doing it.

So, a few questions for your consideration…

  1. Do Muslims who make these contradictory assertions genuinely believe what they’re saying?

  2. If they don’t, how can they bring themselves to make such contradictory assertions at the same time?

  3. What comparable examples can you think of in other parts of the world?

It is perfectly possible to hold any number of contradictory beliefs, either or both being totally irrational.

There are geologists - actual working trained qualified geologists - who as biblical literalists believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old, yet produce work every day that relies absolutely on the earth being over 4 billion years old.

The USA as a whole appears to believe that all Americans should go armed at all times, but Iraqis and Afghans should be disarmed as far as possible, despite them living in an environment hugely, vastly, more dangerous than Americans believe they do (let alone actually do).

Even more so, people uneducated in any form of rational thinking, logic, or any form of systematic enquiry, have no problem with this at all. If I had to guess on the specific issue you mention above, I’d say that basically anything that feels like it reinforces their self-esteem and detracts from the humiliation of being near the bottom of the “world-heap” (if you see what I mean) as Muslims will be enthusiastically endorsed.

Are these two statements that you yourself have heard the same person say, or just something that ‘everyone knows that Muslims all over the middle east are saying’?

Because if the latter, then questions #1 and #2 can’t really be answered until we answer question #0: Who’s saying them both?

On a recent 20/20 about the polarization of America, a focus group was asked to come to consensus on gay marriage, but it degenerated into a bunch of anti-gay grousing. One guy made the argument that “It’s a known fact that gays have many more partners” than straights. I guess he didn’t realize that he just made an argument for gay marriage.

I remember an oddball on this board who insisted that NASA faked the moon landing, while insisting that the close-up photos of the lunar dust indicated signs of life. He was asked repeatedly how we could have gotten close-up photos of the surface of the moon without actually going there, but was unable to explain this seeming inconsistency in his thinking. (here’s the thread)

I think creationism has pretty much cornered the market on self-contradiction and/or cognitive dissonance (and I say this from personal experience of being a creationist).
Notable examples:

-Evolution is impossible because order cannot arise spontaneously from chaos; that would be like a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a 747.
-The apparent order of organisms within the fossil record does not indicate their relative ages and therefore a chain of descent cannot be reliably inferred; they were sorted into their present order by hydrodynamic processes during the Great Flood.


-There is no evidence that the earth/universe is older than 6000 years; all of the evidence, when properly analysed, resoundingly supports the biblical model of a young earth/universe.
-God created Adam as a mature adult in order to be functional; the Earth and universe also were created with the appearance of great age.

You don’t really believe this, do you?

As someone that will never own or possess a gun of any type and socializes with others with the same feelings, there is no way this can be true.

1 Eye for an Eye etc.

2 Love your Enemy

People who preach about the sacredness of marriage and how gays shouldn’t be married because they are all so promiscuous, yet they themselves are married and divorced several times.

And I wish I could dig up the thread about abortion protestors who have had abortions (Other people have abortions cause they sleep around. I had mine because the condem broke). It was scary.

Huh? I apologize in advance for hijack, and I don’t want to get into the pro gay marriage/anti-gay threads that spring up like weeds on this board, but how does the statement that “It is a known fact that gays have more partners than straights” equate to being an argument FOR gay marriage? Baraqiyal’s statement seems like a nonseqitor to me.

It would seem to me that the statement “It’s a known fact…more partners” is a poorly worded and tenuous argument against gay marriage and not in any way a statement in favor of gay marriage. I say that because it seems to argue that that since gays have more partners straights, then if we allow them to marry each other then each time they breakup then they’ll have to get a legal divorce which will further tie up and bog down our already clogged court system. In other words, they change partners so often that marriage and divorce would just slow them down. Hence, it is a statement against gay marriage. Saying it is an inadvertent statement in support of gay marriage strikes me as being incorrect and just a bit disingenuous.

Now as to whether factually gays have more partners than straights and as to whether that supports or detracts from gay marriage, frankly, I don’t know and I don’t care. Like I said, I don’t want to rehash all those agruments for the umpteenth time here.

Erm, who says both of them at the same time? Cetainly not Jesus.

A very large number of evangelicals (IME) espouse 1.

2 is (as you rightly point out) is a central pillar of the teachings of Jesus

An interesting one i’ve seen from a few anti-gay marriage spokespeople;

1 - Gay people want to get married (which is bad, disrespectful, etc).
2 - Gay people are trying to avoid responsibility.

Gay marriage brings up a lot of them:

  1. Gays shouldn’t get married because marriage is for having children and gay people can’t.
  2. The ability to have children should not be a marraige requirement for straight intfertile people.

And, as someone that most certainly does own guns, and socializes with others that do, I’ve never heard “all Americans should go armed at all times” nor that “Iraqis and Afghans should be disarmed as far as possible”. Heck, I know dozens of Americans that I am thankful do not go armed.
Here’s one for the OP -

I am a staunch Atheist.
But I’m also a polytheist (I don’t believe in the Sidhe, but I know they’re there)

Well, there’s this nation, the United States of America by name, which advances the idea that a nation that develops nuclear-weapons capacity is doing a Wrong Thing and should be stopped. (The US has nukes, had them first, and used them once in conflict).
The above, which appears pretty damn contradictory and indefensible to me, is nevertheless defended by reference to belligerent behaviors: that the world is at grave risk if belligerent and potentially hostile nations like Iran or North Korea develop nuclear capacity, whereas the US is benign and friendly and doesn’t go around attacking other nations and would only resort to military force to defend itself or its allies. Umm, or to pre-emptively conquer and occupy a country that they claim to think they have some reason to believe might be on the verge of developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Which makes them belligerent and in need of being conquered and occupied. By the United States, which has nuclear weapons but isn’t a belligerent nation or anything…


You auto-hijack when you start a thread with a “let’s not go there” and then embed an unsubtle spin in it like that! I myself am not opposed to the death penalty per se (although I’m sufficiently disturbed by its unequal implementations to think we should end the practice), but I shall not hide behind that. I’m pro-choice and it pisses me off to no end that pro-life (and other) people keep altercasting us as all being pro-choice due to insufficient concern for the welfare of the fetus, e.g., that we don’t think the fetus is alive, or that it is human, or that it is a person…or that we’re ethically calloused and therefore don’t care! I assure you that my pro-choice sentiments are motivated by a fervent concern for the moral state of the society and what is best, fairest, and just overall, and I will have it out with you or anyone else who wants to pursue it (yet again).

I’ll say no more here about it though. If you (or anyone else) does want to go into that, kindly start a new thread and pop a link to it in here, and I’ll join you there.


Yeah, I’ve always wondered how committed Bush can really be to the sanctity of marriage by preventing gay marriages, when he could obviously protect marriage more by preventing divorces.

He believes that gays are promiscuous, yet the fact that so many gays want to enter a monogamous relationship seems to contradict that.

The Patriot Act protects our freedoms.

People who claim that gays shouldn’t have/adopt children because " children need a mother and a father," but would be horrified about taking a child away from a parent whose opposite sex spouse had died.