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Saturday
Dec242016

Weekend reading list

Hey-- this is just like strategy followed by commenters on this blog!

 

Canadians know a thing or two about cultural conflict so this is probably worth taking a close look at.

 

Are individualist societies doomed? Find out.

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Reader Comments (4)

Dan -

==> Hey-- this is just like strategy followed by commenters on this blog! ==>

Well, I will say that there is a higher good faith quotient on this blog than what I see at most blogs, and in particular most blogs that stray into the world of discussion about climate change. And my speculation is that the higher prevalence of good faith exchange here can be explained by the situation where unlike most blogs, as the protagonist, you presume good faith on the part of the commenters - even those who express disagreement (and even when they are obnoxious in doing so).

In other words, what I see here is consistent with Jean's thesis.

December 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I will add, however, that I'm not sure that a corresponding condition of "trust" exists with those who disagree with many of your theses, despite your presumption of good faith - and in that aspect I think that much of the reaction to your work I've seen, in the blogosohere (more specifically, the "skept-o-sphere") is not consistent with Jean's thesis. Of course, it is always important to give consideration to representativeness sampling in that regard. The blogosohere is, by its very nature, not terrible my representative of the real world, IMO.

December 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Perhaps related?

==> https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161223115757.htm ==>

--snip--

For the study, the neuroscientists recruited 40 people who were self-declared liberals. The scientists then examined through functional MRI how their brains responded when their beliefs were challenged.

During their brain imaging sessions, participants were presented with eight political statements that they had said they believe just as strongly as a set of eight nonpolitical statements. They were then shown five counter-claims that challenged each statement.

Participants rated the strength of their belief in the original statement on a scale of 1-7 after reading each counter-claim. The scientists then studied their brain scans to determine which areas became most engaged during these challenges.

Participants did not change their beliefs much, if at all, when provided with evidence that countered political statements such as, "The laws regulating gun ownership in the United States should be made more restrictive."

But the scientists noticed the strength of their beliefs weakened by one or two points when challenged on nonpolitical topics, such as whether "Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb." The participants were shown counter statements that prompted some feelings of doubt, such as "Nearly 70 years before Edison, Humphrey Davy demonstrated an electric lamp to the Royal Society."

The study found that people who were most resistant to changing their beliefs had more activity in the amygdalae (a pair of almond-shaped areas near the center of the brain) and the insular cortex, compared with people who were more willing to change their minds.

"The activity in these areas, which are important for emotion and decision-making, may relate to how we feel when we encounter evidence against our beliefs," said Kaplan, a co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center at USC.

"The amygdala in particular is known to be especially involved in perceiving threat and anxiety," Kaplan added. "The insular cortex processes feelings from the body, and it is important for detecting the emotional salience of stimuli. That is consistent with the idea that when we feel threatened, anxious or emotional, then we are less likely to change our minds."

--snip--

December 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"That is consistent with the idea that when we feel threatened, anxious or emotional, then we are less likely to change our minds."

It's also consistent with the hypothesis that we're more resistant to changing our minds on things that we trust the evidence for more strongly.

If you read something on the internet last week that you really wanted to believe, you might believe it strongly, but with a more open mind. If it's something that's been the core of your beliefs for decades, that you've previously seen a lot of evidence for, you might be more emotionally conflicted about the contradiction.

For example, tell a scientist that the particle detected by CERN probably wasn't the Higgs boson after all, they'll probably shrug. Tell a scientist that a recent study of astrological charts has enabled the design of a working homeopathic perpetual motion machine, and IT'S REALLY TRUE THIS TIME!!!, they'll blow an emotional gasket. This isn't because they're culturally and emotionally attached to the position that astrology is bunk (although they are), it's because they trust the evidence that astrology is bunk far more than they trust the evidence for the Higgs.

Scientists more inclined to change their minds on homeopathic perpetual motion probably are those who haven't seen so much evidence on the topic. (How many biologists spend a lot of time arguing with perpetual motion machine nuts? How many are familiar with the details of and weight of evidence in physics for the 2nd law?)

Maybe. It's a still unfalsified hypothesis, anyway.

December 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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