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This Topic Isn't Going to Convince You
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Usagi Miyamoto



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 9:40 am    Post subject: maybe this topic might convince you after all Reply with quote

So has anyone else wondered what evolutionary advantage could possibly be conferred by all of these cognitive biases we seem to have? Wouldn't you think that someone without them would have a survival advantage, being able to reason more clearly and effectively? And then I read a paper like this:

Quote:
Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given humans’ exceptional dependence on communication and vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis.

So, in short, our confirmation bias is there because it helps sharpen our argumentation skills. Perhaps I can dazzle the rest of you into going along with my plan using all of my pointed and one-sided reasons, with cherry-picked evidence, and become more likely to pass on my genes as a result. Yeah, not sure I buy it entirely either. But it's an interesting idea. Skip the paper, and read this interesting write-up in Edge instead.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The obvious issue with evolutionary psychology is it's untestable, but it's a neat theory. I had always figured biases were adaptive because they were so general, that they allowed us to quickly judge new environments and people in order to avoid being killed. In a "natural law" setting it seems less important that you be right about someone than that you recognize signs of potential danger and avoid them, whether those signs are environmental or social. Of course, it's all just conjecture on my part.

I wonder about the adaptability of heuristics, though. I mean, some of them, like anchoring, you could make a case for... but there are some that are weird. Like naive diversification, wherein people asked to make multiple choices now are more diverse than choices made sequentially over time (e.g., asking a child to pick 7 pieces of candy to eat, one per day, for the next week will pick more types of candy than if you ask them each day to pick a piece of candy). Or, that when drawing maps from memory we tend to straighten out lines (a curvy road becomes straight, angles become more square) and have a preference for the cardinal directions (a building to the NW is drawn being due north). That seems maladaptive to me.
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Eiden



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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vox Raucus wrote:
Nietzsche wrote:
Against that positivism which stops before phenomena, saying "there are only farts," I should say: no, it is precisely farts that do not exist, only deniers that supply....
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Usagi Miyamoto



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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kathryn Schultz elaborated a bit on her TED presentation on being wrong in a CNN editorial:

Quote:
At best we regard it as a nuisance, at worst a nightmare, but in either case -- and quite unlike the gleeful little rush of being right -- we experience our errors as deflating and embarrassing.

And it gets worse. In our collective imagination, error is associated not just with shame and stupidity but also with ignorance, indolence, psychopathology, and moral degeneracy.

This set of associations was nicely summed up by the Italian cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, who noted that we err because of (among other things) "inattention, distraction, lack of interest, poor preparation, genuine stupidity, timidity, braggadocio, emotional imbalance, ... ideological, racial, social or chauvinistic prejudices, as well as aggressive or prevaricatory instincts."

In this view -- and it is the common one -- our errors are evidence of our gravest social, intellectual, and moral failings.

Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list. It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition. Far from being a moral flaw, it is inextricable from some of our most humane and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, conviction and courage. And far from being a mark of indifference or intolerance, wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change. Thanks to error, we can revise our understanding of ourselves and amend our ideas about the world.


I could be wrong, but I like it. Being wrong means I can improve. I can get smarter, more insightful, more capable. Not that I will, but you know, the possibility exists.

(I noticed that CNN botched her name in the byline - way to be wrong!)
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Sam



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just re-reading this in preparation of the upcoming END OF THE WORLD MAY 21ST

Quote:
Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the "boys upstairs" (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction." Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!

From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. "Their sense of urgency was enormous," wrote Festinger. The devastation of all they had believed had made them even more certain of their beliefs.

In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin's space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there's plenty to go around. And since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.
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Usagi Miyamoto



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As one recent guide to the Rapture put it, Don't drink the kool-aid.
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:35 am    Post subject: There is no such thing as unequivocal evidence. Reply with quote

Sam wrote:
I'm just re-reading this in preparation of the upcoming END OF THE WORLD MAY 21ST

Quote:
Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the "boys upstairs" (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction." Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!

From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. "Their sense of urgency was enormous," wrote Festinger. The devastation of all they had believed had made them even more certain of their beliefs.

In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin's space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there's plenty to go around. And since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.





If you are going to quote Chris Mooney, would you mind indicating that fact somewhere in your post as a courtesy to those who wish to ignore his subtle sense of schadenfreude over cult victims and victims in general?
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote




Seems to be on topic.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it's sad, and a bit frightening, how much people buy into that. NPR had a story about this, i think last weekend. they were interviewing a young couple (with a child, yet, and expecting a second) - they have totally bought into this, gave up their jobs to spread the word, and they have carefully budgeted all the money they have so they will spend the last of it on the 21st. because they won't need money after that.

one wonders if ol' harold will start paying child support, come the 22nd.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:02 pm    Post subject: Re: There is no such thing as unequivocal evidence. Reply with quote

Thy Brilliance wrote:
If you are going to quote Chris Mooney, would you mind indicating that fact somewhere in your post as a courtesy to those who wish to ignore his subtle sense of schadenfreude over cult victims and victims in general?


um...you are aware that this is from the article that started this whole thread, right?
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:13 pm    Post subject: Also, I posted quite a bit about him if you remember. Reply with quote

mouse wrote:
Thy Brilliance wrote:
If you are going to quote Chris Mooney, would you mind indicating that fact somewhere in your post as a courtesy to those who wish to ignore his subtle sense of schadenfreude over cult victims and victims in general?


um...you are aware that this is from the article that started this whole thread, right?


I'm a stickler for formality, what do you want me to say?
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Mizike



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Oops, I didn't realize." would work great.
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:54 pm    Post subject: Chris Mooney wrote the article, so say that when you quote Reply with quote

Didn't realize what?
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Sam



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 9194

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 11:25 pm    Post subject: Re: There is no such thing as unequivocal evidence. Reply with quote

Thy Brilliance wrote:
If you are going to quote Chris Mooney, would you mind indicating that fact somewhere in your post as a courtesy to those who wish to ignore his subtle sense of schadenfreude over cult victims and victims in general?


Oh my god, no.

Here, here is an 'indicating something somewhere in my post' that you can apply in perpetuity for ALL OF MY POSTS in the future

!!WARNING!!
THIS POST HAS NOT
BEEN CERTIFIED
"THY-SAFE"
THE WRITER OF THIS
POST HAS NOT GIVEN
ANY THOUGHT
OR CONCERN
TO ANY OF THE RANDOM
BULLSHIT THINGS
THAT MIGHT
INEXPLICABLY CAUSE
THY BRILLIANCE TO
OBJECT TO IT FOR
WHATEVER THE FUCK
INCONCEIVABLY OFF THE
WALL REASON HE WILL
HAVE THAT DAY


IT IS ADVISED THAT
IF YOU ARE A THY
BRILLIANCE YOURSELF
YOU SHOULD

NOT READ
THIS POST

UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES


There, now quit complaining about my posts or anyone else who tells you that the warning applies to their posts as well. If you do I'll just remind you that you obviously didn't pay attention to the warning.

thanks~
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geez sam, is it so much to ask for two words worth of content in the quote box?

How is it possible to have such a reaction to a person who has almost the exact same political leanings as you.
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