The mind abhors a vacuum

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 22.53.53Dalrymple writes that the nearest he has ever come to changing his beliefs in pure accordance with the evidence was

when I read the papers in the Lancet that proved that peptic ulceration was caused in the majority of cases by infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

Until then,

all sorts of theories of causation had been proposed, generally a mishmash of dietary, physiological, and psychological factors.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 23.00.22Helicobacter

swept them all away, like last year’s bestsellers, and I was converted without an inner struggle.

Dalrymple says the ease with which he was converted

was attributable to the fact that I had previously held no other theory of causation of peptic ulceration of my own, strongly or even weakly. I had no belief at all to defend, and therefore was unusually open to the evidence. The mind abhors a vacuum, and Helicobacter encountered no difficulty in filling it.

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