Why you think you’re right — even if you’re wrong

Motivated Reasoning aka soldier mindset:

This phenomenon in which our unconscious motivations (our desires and fears) shape the way we interpret information. So some information and ideas feel like our allies and we want them to win. We want to defend them. And other information and ideas are the enemy. We want to shoot them down.

Scout mindset shows curious, open to ideas, grounded. Willing to change one’s mind based on new information. We need to proud of having changed our mind when new data shows us to have been wrong.

If the above video does not work, then try¬†Julia Galef: Why you think you’re right — even if you’re wrong.

Argumentative Theory of Reasoning

I posted a web comic poking fun at the irrational fear of the ocean. My carefulness last weekend maybe kept me from getting stung by jellyfish and definitely from stepping on a stingray or skate. There were no sharks that I saw. But then, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” ūüôā

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Dr. Jonathan Haidt, NYU — Bob Howard, Village Square

After some comments, I eventually deleted the post because I was tired of the arguing whether fear is rational or irrational. (It is both which is why I thought the comic funny and posted it, but obviously this was not the correct audience.) I keep to myself more these days to keep from arguing about politics. There has been a temptation to leave Facebook altogether in order to get away from the madness. Something I will not tolerate is that kind of thing on my own posts. I tell people to stop and if anyone eggs it on, then I delete the post.

In Jonathan Haidt‘s Edge talk¬†A New Science of Morality (Part 1), he alerts us to:

According to Mercier and Sperber reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That’s why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. [1]

My own Confirmation Bias screams that this absolutely must be the most true thing I have read this decade. Several posts on this blog demonstrate my fascination with people trusting their ideology over the facts. But this makes sense in an environment where people are mainly looking to prove themselves correct. Someone can be completely reasonable, but if the other has made up their mind there is no changing it. The flow of information only serves to eventually serve up something that supports their view which they will seize upon.

As Behavioral Economics fanboy, I very much am all about humans are not extremely imperfect reasoners. To label anyone, even Neil deGrasse Tyson, as very rational strikes me as irrational. It will be difficult to refrain from not using reasonable as pejorative to mean someone who has stopped thinking beyond only supporting their own view.

TED Talk: David Brooks: The social animal

Some quotes I liked from this talk.

“Emotions are not separate from reason. They are the foundation of reason as they show us what to value.”

“The first gift or talent is Mindsight: the ability to enter into other people’s minds and learn what they have to offer…. Babies are born to¬†interpenetrate¬†into Mom’s mind and download what they find.”

“We are overconfidence machines [1]. Ninety-five percent of our professors say they are above average teachers. Ninety-six percent of college students say they have above average social skills. Time magazine asked Americans if they are in the top 1% of earners. Nineteen percent of Americans [say they] are in the top 1% of earners.”

Other abilities are Medis, picking out patterns to arrive gists, and Sympathy, work within groups, and Blending, synthesizing concepts, and Limerence, drive or motivation for moments of transcendence.

[1] In Why We Make Mistakes is a confidence test. The idea of the test is to give answers in a range where you are 90% confident the answer will be. The less certain, the wider the range. With ten questions, one can only get one wrong to pass. Managers given this test in their field got most

Tapping into the findings of his latest book, NYTimes columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences — insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can’t hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness.