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Compartmentalization refers to the practice of acting or thinking one way under one set of circumstances and the exact opposite way at all other times. An example would be a geologist who studies the age of the Earth. At work the geologist must believe that the earth is about 4.55 billion years old in order for the observed evidence to make sense. However, at church the geologist might temporarily shed that belief and accept that the Earth is about 6,000 years old to fit in with his or her fellow worshippers. Obviously one cannot believe in both an old and a young Earth simultaneously, but the geologist does so because the two aspects of his life require the difference in beliefs. Such an inconsistency may be intentional or unconscious.

A related concept is "doublethink", which comes from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where it is defined as:

"...the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them."

For example, the creationist speaker Kent Hovind often states that the geological column is simply the result of the Noachian Flood. Yet he also claims that the geological column is a fiction created by scientists, one which doesn't really exist. The contradiction is obvious: either the geological column exists or it doesn't. Another example is his common statement that no scientist dares to speak out against evolutionary "dogma"; yet he also provides quotes of scientists "admitting" that evolution is wrong.


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