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Ideological assumptions are beliefs that often serve as the basis for particular disciplines which go unquestioned within that discipline or as justifications for the actions of a particular society. These assumptions have historically existed in the sciences, including the social sciences, and many argue that they are an implicit part of any society's belief system and continue to exist today. A lack of adherence to a society's or field's ideological assumptions is often grounds for the dismissal of a theory outright before it has been fully considered. Somewhat ironically the term itself is often used to dismiss a particular statement before it has been considered, as in, "there you go again with your ideological assumptions!"
Social scientists especially have been criticized by feminists, queer theorists, and race theorists for maintaining unspoken racist, sexist, imperialistic, homophobic, or otherwise unjustifiably normalizing axioms inherited from previous centuries. Specifically, psychology has frequently been censured for what have proven to be incorrect, and unquestioned, assumptions about the human mind, especially after the fairly recent phenomenon of recovered memories involving Satanic ritual abuse.
Some common ideological assumptions, both historical and modern, include:
- America was discovered by Columbus in 1492 CE
- Intelligent life does not exist elsewhere in the universe.
- Modern Western scientific method is the superior means of inquiry.
- Homosexual men are the environmental product of a strong, overbearing mother and a weak, distant father.
- Modern science proves that the universe progresses according to deterministic principles.
- God does exist, or, God does not exist.
- The alleged superiority of a civilization justifies colonialism and imperialism.
- All group differences in IQ are due to environmental and historical factors.