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Doubt, a status between belief and disbelief, involves uncertainty or distrust of a fact, an action, a motive, or a decision. It brings into question some notion of a perceived "reality", and may involve delaying relevant action out of concerns for mistakes or faults.

The term "to doubt" can also mean "to question one's circumstances and life-experience".

Impact on society

Doubt sometimes tends to call on reason. It may cause people to hesitate before acting, and/or to apply more rigorous methods. Doubt may have particular importance as leading towards disbelief.

Politics, ethics and law, faced with important decisions that often determine the course of individual life, place great importance on doubt, and often foster elaborate adversarial processes to carefully sort through all the evidence to come to a decision.

One view regards the scientific method, and to a degree all of science, as entirely motivated by doubt: rather than accepting existing theories, scientists experiment to test (and optimally disprove) them. Some commentators Template:Who? see technology as simply the expansion of the experiments to a wider user-base, which takes real risks[How to reference and link to summary or text] with it. Users may no longer doubt the applicability of the theory in play, but there remain doubts about how it interacts with the real world. The process of technology-transfer stages exploitation of science to ensure the minimization of doubt and danger.

Psychology

PsychoanalystsTemplate:Who? often attribute doubt, which they may interpret as a symptom of a phobia emanating from the ego, to the earlier stages of life, when the ego develops: i.e., childhood. Childhood experiences, these traditions maintain, can plant doubt about one's abilities and even about one's very identity. The influence of parents and other influential figures often carries heavy connotations onto the resultant self-image of the child/ego, with doubts often included in such self-portrayals.[How to reference and link to summary or text]Cognitive mental as well as more spiritual approaches abound in response to the wide variety of potential causes for doubt — sometimes seen as a "Bad Thing". Behavioral therapy, in which a person systematically asks his own mind if the doubt has any real basis, uses rational, Socratic methods. Behavioral therapists claim that any constant confirmation leads to emotional detachment from the original doubt.[How to reference and link to summary or text] This method contrasts to those of say, the Buddhist faith, which involve a more esoteric approach to doubt and inaction. Buddhism sees all[How to reference and link to summary or text] doubt as a negative attachment to one's perceived past and future. To let go of the personal history of one's life and to affirm this release every day in meditation plays a central role in releasing the doubts — developed in and attached to — that history. Through much spiritual exertion, one can (if desired) dispel doubt, and live "only in the present".[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Psychopathology

Many peopleTemplate:Who? associate "excessive" doubt with obsessive-compulsive disorder, sometimes nicknamed a "disease of doubt".((fact}}

Philosophy

Anything that is questionable or causes doubt, especially an argument or a claim.

Branches of philosophy like logic devote much effort to distinguish the dubious, the probable and the certain. Much of illogic rests on dubious assumptions, dubious data or dubious conclusions, with rhetoric, whitewashing, and deception playing their accustomed roles.

Religion

Doubt that god(s) exist forms the basis of agnosticism, as distinct from atheism, the steadfast belief that god(s) do not exist. By extension, doubt as to the existence or intentions of the Christian God applies to the Christian Bible as well, bringing into question its alleged status as the word of God, and propounding alternative explanations (such as a work of mythology like Homer's ancient Greek epics the Iliad and the Odyssey). Doubt of a religion itself brings into question the truth of its set of beliefs.

ChristiansTemplate:Who? often debate doubt in the contexts of salvation and eventual redemption in an afterlife. This issue has become particularly important in the Protestant version of the Christian faith, which requires only acceptance of Jesus as saviour and intermediary with God for a positive outcome. The debate appears less important in most other religions and ethical traditions.

Spirituality

In the context of spirituality, peopleTemplate:Who? can see doubt is the opposite of faith. If faith represents a compulsion to follow a path, doubt blocks the path.[How to reference and link to summary or text] People use doubts and faith everyday to choose the life path that they follow; for example: “I doubt that laziness will help me achieve my goals.”

Faith can serve to create individual illusions to shield the vision of an unpleasant outcome. “I doubt anyone will catch me if I rob this store.” Depending upon the energy put into the doubt, when used in this way, doubt itself has little impact on events and merely blocks the individual from seeing possibilities.

References

Hein, David (Winter 2006). "Faith and Doubt in Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond". Anglican Theological Review 88 (1): 47-68. ISSN 0003-3286.

Further reading

Doubt: A History, a 2003 book by Jennifer Michael Hecht, traces the role of doubt throughout time, all over the world, particularly regarding religion.

See also

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Bibliography

Hein, David (Winter 2006). "Faith and Doubt in Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond". Anglican Theological Review 88 (1): 47-68. ISSN 0003-3286.

Further reading

Doubt: A History, a 2003 book by Jennifer Michael Hecht, traces the role of doubt throughout time, all over the world, particularly regarding religion.




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