The term dogmatic stems from the Greek word “dogma,” meaning “belief” or “tenet.” It refers to an unwavering confidence in a conviction or set of beliefs, usually religious or philosophical in nature, without empirical evidence backing it (Church & Samuelson, 2016; Gottschalk, 2018).
Dogmatism is often seen as a negative trait, implying that the person is inflexible and won’t change their views, even when presented with factual, contradictory data.
A dogmatic person is adamant in their assertions, often lacking the willingness to test or adjust their ideas because they’re so set on their worldview that they’re not capable of unbiased or reasonable assessment of facts (Battaly, 2018; Lasonen-Aarnio, 2014).
This is a classic example of dogmatism where individuals staunchly believe that the Universe and life originated from specific acts of divine creation, as described in religious texts such as the Book of Genesis. Despite extensive scientific evidence supporting evolution, creationists reject these explanations, asserting their belief in a literal interpretation of their religious texts.
2. Climate Change Denial
Despite overwhelming consensus within the scientific community that human activity is causing global warming, climate change deniers assert that this is not the case. They often disregard or dispute the scientific evidence, clinging resolutely to their beliefs that changes in the Earth’s climate are natural, ignoring the data that humans contribute significantly to these changes.
3. Flat Earth Belief
Regardless of centuries of scientific proof that the Earth is round, some individuals, known as Flat Earthers, adamantly maintain that the Earth is flat. They dismiss all evidence to the contrary, preferring to believe in an aged conspiracy theory that claims the world’s governments are hiding the “truth.”
4. Anti-Vaccination Movement
Individuals in this group hold a dogmatic belief that vaccines are more harmful than beneficial, asserting they cause conditions like autism in children. Despite countless studies disproving these claims and establishing the vital role of vaccines in preventing deadly diseases, anti-vaxxers persist with their unfounded beliefs.
5. Cultural Superiority Complex
This refers to the dogmatic belief held by some individuals that their culture, nation, or race is superior to others. Despite living in an increasingly globalized world where cultural exchange is common, these individuals dismiss the value of other cultures, often leading to prejudice and discrimination.
6. Market Fundamentalism
This is the staunch belief in the efficiency of unregulated free markets to solve a society’s economic and social problems better than any government intervention could. Despite evidence of market failures and the occasional need for regulation, market fundamentalists stick to their strict beliefs, arguing that the market, left to its own devices, is the best mechanism for resource allocation.
7. Holocaust Denial
Despite overwhelming evidence and testimony verifying the occurrence of the Holocaust during World War II, some individuals and groups dogmatically deny that it ever happened. These deniers often reject, distort, or misinterpret historical records, undermining the reality of an atrocity that claimed millions of Jewish lives.
8. Fundamentalist Atheism
On the other side of religious dogmatism, staunch atheists can also exhibit dogmatism. Some individuals confidently assert that no deities exist with as much certainty as religious believers assert their existence, often dismissing any spiritual experiences or arguments made by theists without considering them.
9. Technological Determinism
This is the unshakeable belief that technology alone determines societal structures and cultural values, without taking into account political, social, or economic factors. Such believers reject any arguments placing technology as a byproduct of historical or cultural contexts.
10. Media Bias Denial
Some individuals deny or disregard the possibility of bias in their preferred news outlets, maintaining a dogmatic belief in the objectivity of their chosen media sources. They tend to reject any criticism or suggestion of partiality, often leading to a skewed understanding of events or issues.
See Also: Media Bias Examples
11. Biological Determinism
This belief asserts that human behavior and characteristics are entirely determined by genetics and biological factors, ignoring the significant role of environment and experiences in shaping an individual. Despite evidence highlighting the complexity and interplay of nature and nurture, biological determinists hold steadfast to their views.
12. Indivisibility of Sovereignty
This refers to the political dogma that the sovereignty of a nation is untouchable and always preserved. It disregards the historical instances of shared sovereignty, secessions, or state dissolutions, maintaining that national sovereignty is an immutable principle.
13. National Exceptionalism
Whether it’s American exceptionalism, British, Chinese, or any other national identity, this dogmatic belief holds that a particular nation is uniquely superior or holds a special role globally. Despite evidence of mistakes, flawed policies, or other nations’ achievements, believers in exceptionalism view their nation as intrinsically different and superior.
This term refers to a social system where power and authority are vested in men, often resulting in limited rights, representation, and opportunities for women. Some individuals firmly maintain that this system is the natural and most efficient family or societal structure. Such beliefs persist despite substantial research demonstrating the value and importance of gender equality and the harmful consequences of patriarchal systems.
A political and economic ideology that advocates for classless societies where all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. Proponents of this ideology can sometimes view it as the only viable and just system, ignoring or downplaying historical instances where attempts at implementing communism have led to significant issues such as human rights abuses, lack of political freedoms, and economic inefficiencies.
16. Complete Rejection of Science
This is not a specific belief but rather an entire framework of thinking in which science and the scientific method are completely disregarded or discredited. Individuals adhering to this dogmatism dismiss scientific findings unanimously, often favoring personal or anecdotal experiences, conspiracy theories, or pseudoscience. This denies the benefits and knowledge that scientific inquiries have brought to society, such as medical advances, technology, and our understanding of the universe.
17. Cult Behaviors
This refers to extreme forms of dogmatism found in rigidly controlled religious or social groups commonly referred to as cults. Within these groups, dogmatic adherence to a particular set of beliefs or instructions from a charismatic leader is expected and even demanded, often to the detriment of members’ well-being. This is seen in many infamous cults’ histories, such as the Heaven’s Gate cult or People’s Temple.
Named after the 19th-century English textile workers who destroyed weaving machinery as a form of protest, Luddites today represent individuals who oppose new technologies. They often believe that technology harms society, the economy, and the environment, dogmatically resisting technological progress without acknowledging its potential benefits. Despite the essential role of technology in societal advancement, these individuals maintain a skeptical stance.
19. Blatant Denial of Systemic Privilege
This belief system holds that levels of privilege and socio-economic disparity in society are purely dictated by individual efforts and merit, completely denying the impact of systemic or institutionalized favoritism related to race, gender, wealth or other factors. Deniers refuse to acknowledge how these systems give certain groups advantages, thereby perpetuating inequality and hindering efforts to achieve social justice. Despite considerable evidence documenting the existence and effects of systemic privilege, these individuals persist in their denial.
20. Extreme Stereotyping
This pertains to rigid, oversimplified, and exaggerated beliefs about particular groups of people. Those who practice extreme stereotyping often hold irrational biases, refusing to see individuals beyond the boundaries of their preconceived notions and beliefs (Men can’t be nurses. Women can’t be successful in technology roles.). Regardless of personal experiences or evidence to the contrary, these individuals cling to their stereotypes, which often fuels prejudice and discrimination.
This term describes a political system in which power is concentrated in the hands of a leader or a small elite that isn’t constitutionally responsible to the body of the people. Those adhering to this dogmatic belief assert the necessity of a single strong authoritative figure or elite, denying the benefits of political freedom, participatory governance, and civil liberties. Despite countless historical examples illustrating the harmful effects of authoritarian regimes on human rights and societal development, preservers of the authoritarian belief will doggedly hold onto their conviction.
Undoubtedly, dogmatism hampers the progression of knowledge and understanding. It stifles open debate and dialogue, hindering the quest for truth (In the 16th century, the highly dogmatic belief system of the Catholic Church led to Galileo’s house arrest for his scientific assertion that the Earth revolved around the Sun).
However, remember that not all dogmatic beliefs have negative consequences. Some can form the bedrock of widely accepted human rights and ethical standards. For instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Despite lack of empirical evidence that we are “born equal,” this is a dogmatic belief we hold as a society because it underpins our understanding of social justice.
Essentially, you would do well to avoid being overly dogmatic. Being open to revising and reevaluating your beliefs in light of factual evidence aids in your personal growth and understanding. It makes you more resilient in a rapidly changing world and can even improve your social interactions (the ability to understand and respect contrasting viewpoints can foster healthier and more meaningful relationships).
Battaly, H. (2018). Closed-mindedness and dogmatism. Episteme, 15(3), 261-282.
Bauer, H. H. (2014). Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers.
Church, I., & Samuelson, P. (2016). Intellectual Humility: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Science. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Friedman, J. P., & Jack, A. I. (2018). What makes you so sure? Dogmatism, fundamentalism, analytic thinking, perspective taking and moral concern in the religious and nonreligious. Journal of Religion and Health, 57, 157-190.
Gottschalk, C. M. C. (2018). Teaching critical thinking: The struggle against dogmatism. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50(5), 469-477. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2016.1168731
Lasonen-Aarnio, M. (2014). The dogmatism puzzle. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 92(3), 417-432. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2013.834949
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]