The problem with ‘isms’ and ‘ists’

Here’s the deal: every ‘ism’ can be broken down into a set of beliefs. From beliefs spring actions and thoughts; therefore, beliefs are the true atomic building blocks of any ideology. Let us consider an ‘ismA with a corresponding set of beliefs beliefs(A) = {a1, a2, … an}. Each belief a1…an in the set can be assigned a truth value True (T) or False (F). It is to be noted that this is an ideal case where everyone agrees on what the original set of beliefs for A are. In the real world this never happens but even with this simplifying assumption, we can quickly see how this can cause massive problems.

Let us consider two people P1 and P2 who call themselves Aists. Person P1 holds beliefs a1, a3, a5… to be true and person P2 holds beliefs a2, a4, a6… to be true. In other words, if we consider their stances on the ism A as sets of truth values for beliefs(A), person P1 assigns truth values T1 = {T, F, T, F…} to the beliefs whereas person P2 assigns truth values T2 = {F, T, F, T…}. Clearly, both of them agree that only 50% of A makes sense but they both believe in two completely disjoint halves of A. However it seems ok (for some reason) in our current world to accept this flimsy definition of being an Aist. What both these people are doing is called cherry picking, i.e. choosing those beliefs of A that suit them and still calling themselves Aists. There are no ground rules for what percentage of beliefs must be held true in order to be called an Aist. Now add persons P3, P4…Pm to the mix, each with their own cherry picked versions of A, and one can see how it becomes impossible to tell who is a “true“ Aist. There can simply be no such definition. This leads to all sorts of problems such as the No True Scotsman fallacy.

In the real world this can cause a lot of problems when dealing with an ‘ism’ because some aspects of it might be downright disagreeable or nasty, yet some percentage of the “followers” of that ‘ism’ consider those beliefs to be true while others consider them to be false. Any time an ism A is blamed for its not so great beliefs or actions taken by ‘radicalized’ followers of A, a vast majority of Aists will say “thats not what A is truly about” whereas the rest of the Aists continue to follow their version of A. Sometimes it is hard to even come to a consensus on what the set beliefs(A) is. To me it only makes communication extremely difficult and provides insulation to all the bad beliefs that come out of A as well as those who believe them and take actions based on them. Anytime an Aist comes across another person holding a bad belief in beliefs(A) to be true, he or she can simply say ‘that’s not what A is about/that’s not relevant to current times/that was added by malicious elements/I choose to ignore that part/that person is not a true Aist’. What then is the point of grouping people by belief systems and calling them followers of an ism? Also it seems that most people are logical when faced with such arguments for a vast majority of isms, but when it comes to a few isms that they hold dear, the logical portion of their brain dozes off for some reason. Humans just seem so incredibly moronic to have not figured this out ages ago.