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Is Conspiracy Theorising Irrational? Neil Levy – Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective
"Conspiratorial ideation—as I will call the disposition to be accepting of unwarranted conspiracy theories—is widely regarded as a product of irrationality or epistemic vice. I argue that it is not: the dispositions that underlie it are not rationally criticisable. Some of the dispositions underlying such ideation is the product of mistrust and heightened vigilance, and these dispositions are warranted as responses to (usually real) inequality and exploitation. Other dispositions are warranted as adaptations for filtering testimony. While those who accept unwarranted conspiracy theories are being led astray epistemically, the solution to this problem is not to alter their dispositions but instead to change the conditions that make their mistrust appropriate."
conspiracy  epistemology  rationality 
5 weeks ago by tsuomela
Book Review: The Secret Of Our Success | Slate Star Codex
"“Culture is the secret of humanity’s success” sounds like the most vapid possible thesis. The Secret Of Our Success by anthropologist Joseph Henrich manages to be an amazing book anyway."
book  review  culture  evolution  rationality  rationalism 
june 2019 by tsuomela
Modernitys Spell - The New Atlantis
"Credulity: A Cultural History of U.S. Mesmerism By Emily Ogden"
book  review  intellectual  history  credulity  belief  rationality  18c  19c 
april 2019 by tsuomela
The Danger of Making Science Political - Puneet Opal - The Atlantic
I'm torn between the appeal of this and its astounding ignorance. "In other words, threats to scientific thinking can come from any quarter. What must be preserved is the pursuit of science away from irrational dogma. In that sense scientists should be completely nonpartisan. After all, the universe is what it is. The hurricanes, the flu epidemics, indeed all of reality does not really care about our political affiliations, but we distance ourselves from scientific thinking at our own peril."
science  science-wars  politicizing  republican  democrats  bipartisanship  rationality  public-understanding 
january 2013 by tsuomela
Wheaton College, C.S. Lewis
"When someone defensively prefers the nightmare to the evidence, then we know — we know — that he enjoys the nightmare. We know that it serves some emotional or political need for him — a need so great that reality itself cannot stop him from trying to meet it." Annotated link
evangelical  religion  critique  belief  evil  other  evidence  rationality  fear 
july 2012 by tsuomela
UnderstandingSociety: Neil Gross's pragmatist sociology
"What makes this set of assumptions a "pragmatist" approach? Fundamentally, because it understands the actor as situated within a field of assumptions, modes of behavior, ways of perceiving
action  agents  structure  norms  sociology  explanation  philosophy  pragmatism  theory  social-theory  rationality 
april 2012 by tsuomela
Tree Lobsters!: #365 Accomplishment
"Astrologists didn't discover the cosmic microwave background radiation...ufologists didn't discover extrasolar planets...cryptozoologists didn't find these insects...just a friendly reminder of who's doing all the damn work."
humor  science  comic  accomplishments  rhetoric  work  rationality 
april 2012 by tsuomela
James March on Education, Leadership, and Don Quixote: Introduction and Interview « 茫茫戈壁
"Starting off in political science and then moving through several disciplinary domains such as management theory, psychology, sociology, economics, organization and institutional theory, March’s academic career has been focused on understanding and analyzing human decision making and behavior. The basic thesis that he has pursued is that human action is neither optimal (or unboundedly rational) nor random, but nevertheless reasonably comprehensible (March, 1978, 1994, 1999). The ideas that were developed to understand human behavior in organizations in March’s early work in the analysis of how people deal with an uncertain and ambiguous world included, among other things, the concepts of bounded rationality and satisficing "
organizations  rationality  boundaries  limits  institutions  business  management  decision-making 
april 2012 by tsuomela
Economics now = Freudian psychology in the 1950s: More on the incoherence of “economics exceptionalism” « Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
"I love this quote for its twisted logic. It’s Russell’s paradox all over again. Economists are different from everybody else, because . . . economists “assume everyone is fundamentally alike”! But if everyone is fundamentally alike, how is it that economists are different “from almost anyone else in society”? All we can say for sure is that it’s “circumstances, not culture.” It’s certainly not “differences in how entire groups of people think and act”—er, unless these groups are economists, anthropologists, etc."
economics  exceptionalism  academic  rhetoric  rationality 
march 2012 by tsuomela
What We Assume When We Assume Rationality « A (Budding) Sociologist’s Commonplace Book
"And that’s a big part of why I’m not an economist. And I think it’s a really helpful scope condition – in cases where it makes the most sense to think of an individual (or, importantly, a firm) as a unified actor with stable preferences, economics has a lot of insight. But I think it can also lead to either frustration (why are these people so irrational?!) or prescriptive rather than descriptive findings (here’s how they should be rational!). In other words, economists, and economic thought, try to make the world more like the one they assume it to be by helping individuals be true to themselves, and by ignoring how much individuals usually aren’t. "
economics  sociology  individual  rationality  assumptions 
october 2011 by tsuomela
“One of the easiest ways to differentiate an economist from almost anyone else in society” « Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
I’m not saying that arguments based on rationality are necessarily wrong in particular cases. (I can’t very well say that, given that I wrote an article on why it can be rational to vote.) I’m just trying to understand how pop-economics can so rapidly swing back and forth between opposing positions. And I think it’s coming from the comforting presence of rationality and efficiency in both formulations. It’s ok to distinguish economists from ordinary people (economists are rational and think the unthinkable, ordinary people don’t) and it’s also ok to distinguish economists from other social scientists (economists think ordinary people are rational, other social scientists believe in “culture”). You just have to be careful not to make both arguments in the same paragraph.
economics  rationality  academic  boundaries  boundary-policing  argument  form  genre 
august 2011 by tsuomela
Stumbling and Mumbling: Consistency
"One thing that has often irked me is the criticism politicians get for making U-turns. What’s wrong with changing your mind if new information comes to light?
A new paper by Armin Falk and Florian Zimmermann of the University of Bonn sheds light on my puzzlement. People, they say, value consistency in themselves and in others as a way of signalling intellectual strength.
And this value is an intrinsic one. We don’t just like consistency because it is a means to better decision-making. We value it even if it gets in the way of rational decisions."
psychology  consistency  signals  bias  rationality  decision-making 
july 2011 by tsuomela
The Argumentative Theory | Conversation | Edge
""The article,” Haidt said, "is a review of a puzzle that has bedeviled researchers in cognitive psychology and social cognition for a long time. The puzzle is, why are humans so amazingly bad at reasoning in some contexts, and so amazingly good in others?"

"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. So, as they put it, "The evidence reviewed here shows not only that reasoning falls quite short of reliably delivering rational beliefs and rational decisions. It may even be, in a variety of cases, detrimental to rationality. Reasoning can lead to poor outcomes, not because humans are bad at it, but because they systematically strive for arguments that justify their beliefs or their actions. This explains the confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, and reason-based choice, among other things.""
cognition  psychology  bias  decision-making  argument  evolution  rationality  reasoning  theory  confirmation-bias  belief  justification 
may 2011 by tsuomela
U.S. Intellectual History: After Ideology
"Political beliefs, like religious beliefs, are usually based on very weak, and selective, evidence. People tend to have the same political orientation as their parents, which may result from environment, i.e. growing up in their parents’ household, or a genetic predisposition to a particular political orientation, as recent studies have indicated."
politics  belief  rationality  bias  psychology 
april 2011 by tsuomela
Overcoming Bias : Beware Commitment
"Speechifiers through the ages, including policy makers today, usually talk as if they want decisions to be made in far mode. We should try to live up to our ideals, they preach, at least regarding far-away decisions. But our reluctance to use contracts to enable more far mode control over our actions suggests that while we tend to talk as if we want more far mode control, we usually act to achieve more near mode control. "
psychology  choice  rationality  rational  decision-making  perspective  near-far 
january 2011 by tsuomela
Updating, part 1: When can you change your mind? The binary model - Less Wrong
To find out, I built a model of updating in response to the opinions of others.  It did, eventually, show that Bayesians improve their collective opinions by updating in response to the opinions of other Bayesians.  But this turns out not to depend on them satisfying the conditions of Aumann's theorem, or on doing Bayesian updating.  It depends only on a very simple condition, established at the start of the simulation.  Can you guess what it is?
bayes  model  agent-based-model  rationality 
september 2010 by tsuomela
Paul Weirich - Collective Rationality: Equilibrium in Cooperative Games - Reviewed by Martin Peterson, Eindhoven University of Technology - Philosophical Reviews - University of Notre Dame
In Collective Rationality, Paul Weirich presents a very precise account of what collective rationality amounts to, proposes a new generalised equilibrium concept that he argues is more plausible than Nash's, and briefly discusses the implications of his views for other philosophical topics.
philosophy  game-theory  rationality  collective  collective-intelligence  group  decision-making 
july 2010 by tsuomela
Decision-making: Risk school : Nature News
Can the general public learn to evaluate risks accurately, or do authorities need to steer it towards correct decisions? Michael Bond talks to the two opposing camps.
perception  risk  rationality  learning  psychology  numeracy  statistics  education  complexity 
june 2010 by tsuomela
George Lakoff: Why "Rational Reason" Doesn't Work in Contemporary Politics |
Lakoff adds to his theory the distinction between real and false reason. "Real reason is embodied in two ways. It is physical, in our brain circuitry. And it is based on our bodies as the function in the everyday world, using thought that arises from embodied metaphors. And it is mostly unconscious. False reason sees reason as fully conscious, as literal, disembodied, yet somehow fitting the world directly, and working not via frame-based, metaphorical, narrative and emotional logic, but via the logic of logicians alone."
metaphor  politics  distributed  cognition  embodiment  physical  neuroscience  conservatism  enlightenment  reasoning  rationality  reason 
march 2010 by tsuomela
Black And White | The New Republic
Adam Kirsch reviews The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition by Zeev Sternhell
book  review  philosophy  enlightenment  history  anti-intellectual  rationality 
february 2010 by tsuomela
Stumbling and Mumbling: Economists, stories & mechanisms
First, I fear Anthony has too much confidence in economists’ ability to build useful scenarios. The problem is that extreme events are often not captured by scenarios. For example, back in 2007 loads of economists had a disaster scenario. But these revolved around an unwinding of consumer debt, or a meltdown of hedge funds, or a dollar collapse triggered by global imbalances. Very few indeed had a remotely accurate credit crunch scenario.
economics  prediction  finance  rationality  sociology  decision-making  scenario-planning  story-telling  wages  minimum-wage 
september 2009 by tsuomela
Stumbling and Mumbling: Keynes & irrationality
You can’t open a newspaper these days without seeing some article about how people behave irrationally. What much of this writing misses, however, is that - for many practical purposes - it’s just impossible to behave rationally. The distinction between actually-existing irrational people and the desiccated calculating machine of economic theory is a false one - because the latter cannot exist.
economics  rationality  decision-making  limits  boundaries  about(JohnMaynardKeynes) 
september 2009 by tsuomela
Growthology: Three Cheers for Ignorance
Bill Maher says Americans are stupid, Tim Kane responds with some Bryan Caplan "Myth of the Rational Voter" style analysis.
ignorance  democracy  rationality  voting  america 
august 2009 by tsuomela
Andy McKenzie: The Blog: Building a Relationship With Your Future Selves
People in their 20s wished they had saved for travel, people in their 30s wished they had saved for a house, and people in their 40s wished they had saved for retirement. His implicit suggestion is that younger people should use this data and get "ahead" of the curve by aligning their current savings patterns with what they probably will want to have done in 20 years.
philosophy  future  self  prediction  rationality 
july 2009 by tsuomela
Conspiracy theory: Nachschlag | Psychology Today
How do conspiracy theories differ from theories that can claim scientific status? In my post, I suggested three criteria. Theories are scientific to the extent that they can make testable predictions regarding future events, specify lawful mechanisms connecting observed data, and favor probable explanations over improbable ones. Grand conspiracy theories (to wit, presumed schemes of world domination by a hidden elite) fail with regard to these explicit criteria.
psychology  conspiracy  science  rationality 
july 2009 by tsuomela
Just-world phenomenon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The just-world phenomenon, also called the just-world theory, just-world fallacy, just-world effect, or just-world hypothesis, refers to the tendency for people to want to believe that the world is "just" so strongly that when they witness an otherwise inexplicable injustice they will rationalize it by searching for things that the victim might have done to deserve it. This deflects their anxiety, and lets them continue to believe the world is a just place, but at the expense of blaming victims for things that were not, objectively, their fault.
ethics  justice  perception  bias  explanation  rationality  philosophy  psychology 
june 2009 by tsuomela
Gunnar Olsson: Abysmal - a Critique of Cartographic Reason
People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, renowned geographer Gunnar Olsson offers in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of the way human thought and action have become deeply immersed in the rhetoric of cartography and how this cartographic reasoning allows the powerful to map out other people’s lives.
book  philosophy  mapping  cartography  reason  reasoning  rationality  metaphor  psychology 
june 2009 by tsuomela
Fouling Up Is Fundamental | Psychology Today Blogs
The problem lies so deep in the fabric of our perception that it has earned an impressively general label: the Fundamental Attribution Error. Originally identified through the work of Ned Jones and Lee Ross in the 1960s, this quirk of human assumption appears robustly in study after study. In outline, it works like this: we assume that other people behave as they do because that is their nature
fundamental-attribution-error  psychology  bias  rationality  mental-process  other  perception 
may 2009 by tsuomela
[cs/0406061] The Complexity of Agreement
A celebrated 1976 theorem of Aumann asserts that honest, rational Bayesian agents with common priors will never "agree to disagree": if their opinions about any topic are common knowledge, then those opinions must be equal. Economists have written numerous papers examining the assumptions behind this theorem. But two key questions went unaddressed: first, can the agents reach agreement after a conversation of reasonable length? Second, can the computations needed for that conversation be performed efficiently? This paper answers both questions in the affirmative, thereby strengthening Aumann's original conclusion.
reasoning  rationality  bayes  probability  philosophy  agreement  disagreement 
may 2009 by tsuomela
Stumbling and Mumbling: Irrelevant rationality
However - and here Bunting is right and the new atheists mistaken - irrationality is a ubiquitous and in some ways desirable aspect of life.
religion  atheism  faith  action  activism  rationality  irrationality  value  philosophy 
april 2009 by tsuomela
Overcoming Bias: Who Loves Truth Most?
Truth loving is similar. Most folks say they prefer truth, but the folks most vocal about loving "truth" are usually selling something... The people who just want to know things because they need to make important decisions, in contrast, usually say little about their love of truth
attitude  truth  rationality 
april 2009 by tsuomela
Given "Expert" Advice, Brains Shut Down | Wired Science from
A brain-scanning study of people making financial choices suggests that when given expert advice, the decision-making parts of our brains often shut down.
neuroimaging  brain-imaging  brain  economics  decision-making  rationality  finance  science  expertise 
april 2009 by tsuomela
Less Wrong: Cached Selves
“commitment and consistency effects”, whereby any random thing you say or do in the absence of obvious outside pressure, can hijack your self-concept for the medium- to long-term future.
psychology  bias  rationality 
march 2009 by tsuomela
Less Wrong: When Truth Isn't Enough
Analyze these sentences:
I am intelligent. You are clever. He's an egghead.
I am proud. You are arrogant. He's full of himself.
rationality  discussion  language  definition  connotation  denotation  meaning  metaphor 
march 2009 by tsuomela
Less Wrong: Rational Me or We?
I'm much more interested in how we can can join together to believe truth, and it actually seems easier to design institutions which achieve this end than to design institutions to test individual isolated general tendencies to discern truth.
rationality  institutions  organization  individual 
march 2009 by tsuomela
Overcoming Bias: Guardians of Ayn Rand
Rand wrote about "rationality", yet failed to familiarize herself with the modern research in heuristics and biases. How can anyone claim to be a master rationalist, yet know nothing of such elementary subjects?
philosophy  rationality  objectivism  about(AynRand) 
march 2009 by tsuomela
Less Wrong: Raising the Sanity Waterline
Consider this thought experiment - what could you teach people that is not directly about religion, which is true and useful as a general method of rationality, which would cause them to lose their religions?
religion  atheism  argument  rationality 
march 2009 by tsuomela
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