Belief is one of those things that people instinctively recognize when they see it, but struggle to describe. The person operating from a deeply held belief may come to the same conclusion as someone working from facts and reason, but that not the purpose. In other words, the believer gets the right answer because it happens to confirm their beliefs, while the rational person gets the right answer, because it’s the right answer.
The true believer is never dissuaded, while the rational can change their mind when presented with new information. No one is a pure logic machine, but the concept is a good way to understand the mind of the believer. Belief operates in the world where confirmation is always the goal. Empiricism operates in the realm where accuracy is the goal. if they are ends of a spectrum, then most people lie somewhere in between.
Dedicated and loyal Catholics, for example, are convinced that each new Pope will revive their church. The pages of National Review, for example, are filled with glowing stories about the new Pope, despite the fact he is probably a communist and wants to take the Catholic Church down the same road as the Protestant faiths. The true believer is always sure that just around the corner, their dreams will come true.
In modern America, the most active religion is Progressivism. We tend not to think of it as a religion or a belief system, but that’s what it is. It is a secular religion that seeks to fill the role of Christianity in the West. It serves to explain natural phenomenon, often by way of supernatural forces. it has a set of moral codes and, most important, it provides a justification for the powerful to impose those moral codes on the rest of us.
The different between secular religions and those reliant on the supernatural is the source of legitimacy and authority. Instead of an omniscient god the Progressive puts his faith in what he determines to be the general will. There’s no written text to spell this out, of course, so the general will is whatever the hive mind of the American Left determines it to be at any given movement. Progressivism is occasionalism.
They are also far out on the fanatical end of the scale. Failure is always greeted by a doubling down, a determination that the only response to disconfirmation is to go even further to the extreme. This is a feature of all radicalism. The radical mind thinks that if a little is good, a lot must be better. On the other hand, if a little is not enough, then the answer is even more. There’s no limiting principle in Progressivism.
A great example is the hilariously incompetent ObamaCare exchanges. Simple math said all along they could never work as promised. Perhaps some people will benefit, but the majority will be screwed. As the evidence pours in showing just how bad this disaster will be, the Left keeps insisting it is a dream come true. Never mind that Sally Kohn is probably a liar. She and her coreligionists will not be swayed by evidence.
It’s is why it is pointless to engage with the Left. It’s not that they are liars or that they don’t argue in good faith. Those things are true, for sure, but the reason it is pointless is they are true believers. That’s what motivates them to lie, dissemble and exaggerate. They really do believe their own nonsense. Trying to convince them to renounce their faith is about as sensible as trying to talk Muslims out of their faith.
Now, there are elements of the Left who are motivated by other things. They wear the skin of true believers like Sally Kohn, because it is good cover. There are opportunists in every religion. There are always subversives who use the cover of social movements to undermine the majority. That’s all true, but the bulk of Progressives, the white ones at least, really do believe this stuff. They are the truest of true believers.