We all do it. In fact, we are generally very good at it. Smart and educated people are better at it.
Rationalizing is a daily practice, part of the “default mode” of human thinking. We make up reasons to justify believing what we want to believe. Often we are only dimly aware of why we want to believe something, the calculus largely occurring in the subconscious depths of our brains.
We defend beliefs because they are pleasing to our egos, because they minimize cognitive dissonance, and just because they are our beliefs. They resonate with our world-view, our internal model of reality.
We have at our disposal a long list of logical fallacies that we can marshal to the defense of our beliefs. Notions that are based on solid evidence and logic do not require such vigorous defense. Those beliefs that cannot be defended by logic and evidence require that bad logic and bad data be invoked to defend them. Luckily we have no problem distorting and cherry picking facts and twisting logic into pretzels.
One very common bit of bad logic is called special pleading. I think it is common because it is so insidious – it creeps up on us unaware. Special pleading is the process of inventing a special reason to explain away inconvenient evidence or the lack of predicted evidence.”
In the dawn days of science fiction, alien invaders would occasionally kidnap a girl in a torn dress and carry her off for intended ravishing, as lovingly depicted on many ancient magazine covers. Oddly enough, the aliens never go after men in torn shirts.
Would a non-humanoid alien, with a different evolutionary history and evolutionary psychology, sexually desire a human female? It seems rather unlikely. To put it mildly.
People don’t make mistakes like that by deliberately reasoning: “All possible minds are likely to be wired pretty much the same way, therefore a bug-eyed monster will find human females attractive.” Probably the artist did not even think to ask whether an alien perceives human females as attractive. Instead, a human female in a torn dress is sexy - inherently so, as an intrinsic property.
They who went astray did not think about the alien’s evolutionary history; they focused on the woman’s torn dress. If the dress were not torn, the woman would be less sexy; the alien monster doesn’t enter into it.
Apparently we instinctively represent Sexiness as a direct attribute of the Woman object, Woman.sexiness, like Woman.height or Woman.weight.
If your brain uses that data structure, or something metaphorically similar to it, then from the inside it feels like sexiness is an inherent property of the woman, not a property of the alien looking at the woman. Since the woman is attractive, the alien monster will be attracted to her - isn’t that logical?”