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Old 4th May 2012, 03:17 PM   #1
Bodhi Dharma Zen
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World views, paradigms and cognitive stubbornness

I would argue that the several known bias and logical fallacies that permeate our cultures are responsible for the “Argumentum ad populum”, as it is easier and cognitively more economical to ascribe “absolute reality” to the general consensus of our group of choice than to have to continually re-evaluate our stance.

Now, it is interesting to find that every group, no matter if it is a religious group, a political party, new age practitioners or believers in direct realism, share more or less the same core assumptions, like that there are enough “facts” (understood as indisputable "objective truths") to confirm their central views, or that if any external individual approaches and intelligently use logic and common sense, it would reach the same conclusions they have.

For a working hypothesis, I would claim that this is because we are biologically biased to believe that our particular World View is, essentially, correct, and thus it serves as a platform to act in the world. In this scenario, anyone who doesn’t believe what we do is potentially a threat, and I believe we are biologically driven to exert pressure on such “anomalous cases”, we must “convert them” in order to restore the feeling of our group as “the only one which is right”, otherwise we feel the obligation to “kill” the outsiders, as they are a threat to our group.

Of course, the kill part is almost a relic from the past, but it was more widely used (and accepted) in past cultures like, for example, the Inquisition. Unfortunately, it is still with us, as this is still happening nowadays, but the main belief behind the behavior is elaborated as a form of patriotism, with the resulting wars. Anyway, the instinct (to call it someway) is still there, that's why you find so groups of "avengers" who like to call idiots to anyone who doesn't believe what they believe.

Where can we fit?

I know what you are thinking… YOUR view is definitely superior to any other view. You and your group are CORRECT. Your views represent FACTS no vague ideas, your views can be taken as TRUE, no further questions. Anyone with a mediocre intelligence and some education would have to reach the same conclusions you have.

Thing is, as I initially stated, every group will claim exactly the same (fact that I find rather interesting BTW).

It is my belief that if we become aware of this fact, and if we are honest, a question arises in our head; How can I get out from this “cognitive stubbornness” (assuming for a moment that it is possible at least theoretically), that my group is not correct, and reach a “real truth”?

For the present text, this “higher truth” would be a better paradigm or world view, which is able to describe a broader set of observations. But what is a “World View”?, is a set of theoretical models that work in conjunction to form a fairly coherent stand from where one can interpret facts and act in the world, either making predictions or being causative in the environment.

FACT: what is that?

Most of the misunderstandings among believers can be traced to this word. A religious person will claim as “fact” something that a naïve materialist would claim is a mere anecdotal account, void of any value. This is because they give a different meaning to the word, and without noticing, they disqualify each other’s arguments without realizing they are talking about different things.

A naïve materialist will claim that the world is composed by objects, measurable energy fields and forces with certain properties, and that science is how we find about the universe and establish universal laws, which can be considered the pillars where objective knowledge is raised. What he believes is true. Period. But of course, problems arise from this position too, and it is as questionable as any other belief. Because, like them, is based on beliefs, on concepts, on assumptions.

For the purpose of having a well-defined meaning for this key concept (fact), I would choose the best definition we currently have. Note: it comes from science (not philosophy):

"Fact is a verifiable observation."

Some argue that if something is a fact, then is true, but that scenario opens more problems than what it solves, as it requires an ontology and any ontology can be labeled as naïve. Ontologies are a way to see the world, we have to take for granted that the stuff around us is really stuff, and the constancy of some percepts makes it obvious that we are dealing with something that can be labeled, as “real”.

What is missing in that account is that our bodies present us such continuity, our senses are designed to give the organism survival abilities, and so we can only perceive things that give us survival advantages. Radio waves, infrared light and other aspects of what we now call reality were found recently, as some instruments were able to provide us more information than the one we can attain with our senses. Still, the results from those instruments (the facts) are verifiable observations. In other words, radiowaves have to be transformed from what they “are” to what we can perceive, in order for us to establish them as facts.

Well, I can continue but I believe there is enough here to start a discussion. Please, save your time if you want to read in any of this that I will somehow introduce anything "supernatural", if you believe you have intelligent arguments against what I say, I would be delighted to try to tackle them and, if I can't, to learn from you.
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Old 4th May 2012, 03:31 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
...
I know what you are thinking… YOUR view is definitely superior to any other view. You and your group are CORRECT. Your views represent FACTS no vague ideas, your views can be taken as TRUE, no further questions. Anyone with a mediocre intelligence and some education would have to reach the same conclusions you have.

Thing is, as I initially stated, every group will claim exactly the same (fact that I find rather interesting BTW)....
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
... this key concept (fact), I would choose the best definition we currently have. Note: it comes from science (not philosophy):

"Fact is a verifiable observation." ...
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Could you point to data with which we can verify your fact?
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Old 4th May 2012, 04:30 PM   #3
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I admit to being unable to concentrate on your long OP at the moment. But I would say to you what I would say to anyone who is contemplating why people perceive the world the way they do and why we don't all perceive reality the same: Trying to think it out with logic and philosophical pondering is out of date.

I suggest if you want to know why people believe, that you look first at the biology of the brain before you try to assign genetic survival selection pressures or other ideas of how we got the way we are or why we are the way we are.

It helps to first understand the actual mechanisms (which we are only now beginning to study in any kind of meaningful way so the science has a long way to go) before you ask, why did evolution result in that? Or, what is the benefit to us of having those beliefs?

You start to go there with this:
Originally Posted by Bodhi
For a working hypothesis, I would claim that this is because we are biologically biased to believe that our particular World View is, essentially, correct, and thus it serves as a platform to act in the world. In this scenario, anyone who doesn’t believe what we do is potentially a threat, and I believe we are biologically driven to exert pressure on such “anomalous cases”, we must “convert them” in order to restore the feeling of our group as “the only one which is right”, otherwise we feel the obligation to “kill” the outsiders, as they are a threat to our group.
But then you miss the key word in your own thoughts, "biologically biased". People who don't believe as we do are a threat? You went from A to beta when it would have made more sense to go from A to B. In other words there is no 'ergo' in there that I can discern.

I'm pretty sure the group survival traits of humans are a bit more complex than you are describing. For example, trading with an outside group has a benefit.
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Old 4th May 2012, 04:54 PM   #4
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No surprises in the OP. I'd submit that there is a value in trying to overcome one's innate bias and this can be trained through education. The overriding motivation isn't then to promote a group's agenda. Rather, it is to seek ground to explore in the hopes of coming up with a new (to me) idea.

Filtering isn't necessarily bias and I'll argue that participation is at least as important to the trained person as coming up with the "right" answer. In most things, the standard will be, "If I do this and this, then that happens," a kind of checking against nature. Where this isn't possible, the doors are wide open to conjecture and exploring other takes.

Bias, as I am proposing it, implies some stance going in -- so patriotism is a good example (which you used). Still, using previous conclusions to build on isn't necessarily bias so much as not duplicating your work. And finally, truth is provisional. I am delighted to find out where I've made a misstep -- that's a wonderful feeling. But it has to be shown, it can't just be stipulated.

Built into all this is a willingness to remain undecided.

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Old 4th May 2012, 05:02 PM   #5
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Old 4th May 2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
Could you point to data with which we can verify your fact?
Now, now. Be nice. He is suggesting that we accept a definition. And definitions don' need no steenking data.
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Old 4th May 2012, 07:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
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Could you point to data with which we can verify your fact?
Err, 2 things. 1) I already stated what a fact is and 2) did you notice the bracket?
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Old 4th May 2012, 08:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I admit to being unable to concentrate on your long OP at the moment. But I would say to you what I would say to anyone who is contemplating why people perceive the world the way they do and why we don't all perceive reality the same: Trying to think it out with logic and philosophical pondering is out of date.

I suggest if you want to know why people believe, that you look first at the biology of the brain before you try to assign genetic survival selection pressures or other ideas of how we got the way we are or why we are the way we are.

It helps to first understand the actual mechanisms (which we are only now beginning to study in any kind of meaningful way so the science has a long way to go) before you ask, why did evolution result in that? Or, what is the benefit to us of having those beliefs?

You start to go there with this:But then you miss the key word in your own thoughts, "biologically biased". People who don't believe as we do are a threat? You went from A to beta when it would have made more sense to go from A to B. In other words there is no 'ergo' in there that I can discern.

I'm pretty sure the group survival traits of humans are a bit more complex than you are describing. For example, trading with an outside group has a benefit.
Agreed, we need better answers and the study of biology and the brain are a good start. Now, regarding your point, it is a way of saying it, I can't trace it to a survival.
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Old 4th May 2012, 09:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Filtering isn't necessarily bias and I'll argue that participation is at least as important to the trained person as coming up with the "right" answer. In most things, the standard will be, "If I do this and this, then that happens," a kind of checking against nature. Where this isn't possible, the doors are wide open to conjecture and exploring other takes.
I like this, I believe it is the right attitude. But on the other hand, I see that what is normal is people holding to their beliefs (generally speaking of course) and reacting strongly when a confronting idea is raised.

I wonder if this could be traced biologically, I mean, maybe some type of people is more gullible, or will defend more their beliefs than others?
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Old 4th May 2012, 09:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
I wonder if this could be traced biologically, I mean, maybe some type of people is more gullible, or will defend more their beliefs than others?
Sounds like something you could test. Which probably means someone has. I'm not sure what search terms would get at it though.

I think of it as "toxic clarity," at least if I read your OP right. It's the idea that having a firm answer is sometimes more important emotionally than having a well supported or "correct" answer. I find it most often in these forums when philosophy comes up. To outsiders (me included), philosophy seems like a confusing mishmash where anything can be successfully argued -- and often is. Rather than grasp for mist, it's easier to throw up your hands and declare, "Nonsense!"

I feel tempted to pull the toxic clarity card in the physics discussions. Usually it's when free energy or other radical idea is put forward and I can't understand either the argument or the counter argument. I get frustrated and my default is to go with someone whose nick I recognize and who I respect. But I really don't have the physics background to judge, it just feels uncomfortable because the conclusions offered are so whacky.

On the upside, I think a good remedy is catching yourself at it.
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Old 4th May 2012, 10:08 PM   #11
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People "make an emotional investment" in something, entrenching themselves deeper and deeper. This is a well-studied phenomenon.

Also, the feeling of certitude you have is an emotion. You may be able to prove 2+2=4, but your certainty buttressing that logic that you feel is exactly that, a feeling, and your brain will happily apply it to something with considerably...less...validity. "If it works in your brain, transparently it is also true out in reality," or so you think, i.e. feel.
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Old 4th May 2012, 11:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Sounds like something you could test. Which probably means someone has. I'm not sure what search terms would get at it though.

I think of it as "toxic clarity," at least if I read your OP right. It's the idea that having a firm answer is sometimes more important emotionally than having a well supported or "correct" answer. I find it most often in these forums when philosophy comes up. To outsiders (me included), philosophy seems like a confusing mishmash where anything can be successfully argued -- and often is. Rather than grasp for mist, it's easier to throw up your hands and declare, "Nonsense!"

I feel tempted to pull the toxic clarity card in the physics discussions. Usually it's when free energy or other radical idea is put forward and I can't understand either the argument or the counter argument. I get frustrated and my default is to go with someone whose nick I recognize and who I respect. But I really don't have the physics background to judge, it just feels uncomfortable because the conclusions offered are so whacky.

On the upside, I think a good remedy is catching yourself at it.
Maybe this could be of interest (pdf): Why do humans reason? The argumentative theory of reasoning.

Or Mercier’s short summary here (website). (Edge bio here.)
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Old 4th May 2012, 11:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Now, regarding your point, it is a way of saying it, I can't trace it to a survival.
You're going about it backwards. You can't atomize an organism into its component characters and evaluate the evolutionary pressure on each character, particularly not when the species went through as bad a bottleneck as humans did (no, not the Flood--there's evidence that Homo sapiens went through a rather remarkable reduction in our numbers in the past, though). The issue is that a perfectly viable answer for the question "Why does this happen?" is "random chance". Or it could be because that trait is tied to another trait, and the other trait is controlling survivorship.

Let's say that the way the brain is wired both leads us to be rather entrenched in our views, and is involved in predicting future events. It's not an unreasonable prediction, after all--the whole of science is built on the concept that the more often an idea is demonstrated to be correct the more likely it is to be correct. The fact that we by and large become entrenched into ideas that are arrived at via irrational means could be a byproduct of the fact that predictions assist in hunting.

Of course, this is biology--it can get much weirder than that. It's entirely conceivable that the way the brain is wired is associated with, say, a gene for endurance for some reason (and there are a number of them). Humans that have more endurance will eat better and survive more often--and would tend become entrenched in their ideas more easily.

The bottleneck just makes it worse. It's entirely plausible that natural selection actually works AGAINST cognitive entrenchment, but due to genetic drift during the bottleneck the entrenchment allele reached fixation. Doesn't matter how hard the environment pushes against that trait, if there's no variation there's no selection.

My point is, we simply don't have enough data to speculate in any meaningful way about the biology or evolutionary history of this trait, and doing so with as little data as we have runs the risk of creating Just So Stories. We're talking cognitive entrenchment here--the danger here is obvious.
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Old 5th May 2012, 01:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by WhatRoughBeast View Post
Now, now. Be nice. He is suggesting that we accept a definition. And definitions don' need no steenking data.
My question implies acceptance of that definition. I am not asking for data to support the definition, I am asking for data to support (verify) the purported fact that every group will claim exactly the same, as per the description given.
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Old 5th May 2012, 01:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
Err, 2 things. 1) I already stated what a fact is and 2) did you notice the bracket?
See above.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:01 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
Agreed, we need better answers and the study of biology and the brain are a good start. Now, regarding your point, it is a way of saying it, I can't trace it to a survival.
Not exactly. What I was saying was that unless you understand the underlying mechanism you will be tracing the wrong thing. I had a hard time trying to explain myself in my post but maybe this will make it more clear.

There was an excellent (though news format short) debate this morning on MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes". Chris Mooney who wrote, "The Republican War on Science" was on with Jonathan Haidt who has recently written, "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion."

What they both agree on is, we form our beliefs first then seek out confirming facts. Given that, which we know the brain does whether we like it or not, then you'd want to know why that trait was naturally selected. You are looking at why the outcome of such a trait was selected. But the trait results in such disparate outcomes the best way to categorize those outcomes is to look for their root. I find it more likely to be productive to look at why the root was selected first, then you can better categorize the leaves which in this metaphor are not all the same.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:07 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
No surprises in the OP. I'd submit that there is a value in trying to overcome one's innate bias and this can be trained through education. The overriding motivation isn't then to promote a group's agenda. Rather, it is to seek ground to explore in the hopes of coming up with a new (to me) idea.

Filtering isn't necessarily bias and I'll argue that participation is at least as important to the trained person as coming up with the "right" answer. In most things, the standard will be, "If I do this and this, then that happens," a kind of checking against nature. Where this isn't possible, the doors are wide open to conjecture and exploring other takes.

Bias, as I am proposing it, implies some stance going in -- so patriotism is a good example (which you used). Still, using previous conclusions to build on isn't necessarily bias so much as not duplicating your work. And finally, truth is provisional. I am delighted to find out where I've made a misstep -- that's a wonderful feeling. But it has to be shown, it can't just be stipulated.

Built into all this is a willingness to remain undecided.
You seem to be conflating bias with error. I see no reason bias can't go either way. I know from past learning that there are no scientific problems with evolution theory. When I see 'Intelligent Design', I have no qualms filtering that out. It's still a filter and a bias, just not one that is baseless.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:15 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
...
I wonder if this could be traced biologically, I mean, maybe some type of people is more gullible, or will defend more their beliefs than others?
A scientist might defend her/his beliefs just as devoutly as a theist but it might appear that one differs because the beliefs are dogmatic vs changeable.

I'm dogmatic that the Universe can best be understood through evidence. Even if I update my conclusions I still hold the same belief.

Theists update their beliefs. Sometimes we forget to notice that given the underlying belief is that they have a single source of knowledge, the teachings of their gods.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:21 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
....
The bottleneck just makes it worse. It's entirely plausible that natural selection actually works AGAINST cognitive entrenchment, but due to genetic drift during the bottleneck the entrenchment allele reached fixation. Doesn't matter how hard the environment pushes against that trait, if there's no variation there's no selection. ...
I know this is off topic but I need a clarification here. I get it about the fixation but it bothered me and now I think I know the problem. You are assuming a new mutation cannot arise and that isn't true.

The way I see it is a fixed allele just means another version went extinct. But how could it possibly mean a new effective mutation on an allele will never arise to be selected?
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:24 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by lupus_in_fabula View Post
Maybe this could be of interest (pdf): Why do humans reason? The argumentative theory of reasoning.
Or Mercier’s short summary here (website). (Edge bio here.)
Interesting your last link mentions Haidt who I just referred to.

Quote:
Last July, opening the Edge Seminar, "The New Science of Morality", Jonathan Haidt digressed to talk about two recently-published papers in Behavioral and Brain Sciences which he believed were "so important that the abstracts from them should be posted in psychology departments all over the country."

One of the papers "Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory," published by Behavioral and Brain Sciences, was by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber.

"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?"
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:32 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
You seem to be conflating bias with error. I see no reason bias can't go either way. I know from past learning that there are no scientific problems with evolution theory. When I see 'Intelligent Design', I have no qualms filtering that out. It's still a filter and a bias, just not one that is baseless.
You're right. I was thinking of it as error, when it's really simply an unjustified conclusion. The conclusion may be right or may be wrong, but it's based on emotion rather than honest investigation. So I wouldn't say your agreement with evolution should count as bias but rather a recognition you've already covered this ground.

I understand that may not be how "bias" is sometimes used but I think it clarifies.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:43 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
You're right. I was thinking of it as error, when it's really simply an unjustified conclusion. The conclusion may be right or may be wrong, but it's based on emotion rather than honest investigation. So I wouldn't say your agreement with evolution should count as bias but rather a recognition you've already covered this ground.

I understand that may not be how "bias" is sometimes used but I think it clarifies.
But that already covered ground does not exempt a person from a true or false application of the bias.

You are still saying that an interpretation of evidence isn't a bias. I'm saying while there are many things about scientific process evidence interpretation that makes it more likely to be right, the underlying confirmation bias might differ less than you think.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:54 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
But that already covered ground does not exempt a person from a true or false application of the bias.

You are still saying that an interpretation of evidence isn't a bias. I'm saying while there are many things about scientific process evidence interpretation that makes it more likely to be right, the underlying confirmation bias might differ less than you think.
OK, I think I got the nuance this time. Good point.

Does recognizing this help prevent it? I think that's probably the best we can do.
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:56 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger
You are assuming a new mutation cannot arise and that isn't true.
For the sole purpose of that particular hypothetical, yes. I had considered discussing new mutations arising later, but realized it was really beside my point--which was that the mere fact that a trait exists isn't sufficient to prove that the trait is evolutionarily preferred. I agree with you 100%--a new mutation can certainly arise, particularly given how many generations it's been since our species' last bottleneck. It's just that that fact is one of a number of issues that would only have clouded my point, so I left it out.

Quote:
But how could it possibly mean a new effective mutation on an allele will never arise to be selected?
It doesn't. However, it also isn't necessarily true that a new allele WILL arise. It's dependent upon chance. So my main point still stands.

Originally Posted by marplots
I was thinking of it as error, when it's really simply an unjustified conclusion.
It's not just an unjustified conclusion. In the fossil record there's a noted tendency for biodiversity to rise as you approach the present. This is due in part to increased exploration of more recent sediments (they're at the top, usually), and in part because people simply like wooly mammoths more than they like the Vendian fauna so more money gets poured into more recent research. This biases the data set we have to work with, well before we get to any conclusions. There's also biases in how tests are run--for example, I could really, really want a hypothesis to be true, so I stop testing once I get statistically significant positive results, even though further testing would show that it was just a fluke.

Basically, a bias is anything that alters one bit of information and not the others in a study (if it alters everything it's irrelevant).
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Old 5th May 2012, 08:58 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by marplots
Does recognizing this help prevent it? I think that's probably the best we can do.
We can do much better than that: we can use biases as a tool. Let's say I'm biased--for some reason, any reason--against a conclusion you draw, but I'm an essentially rational person willing to honestly examine the data. If you can convince ME that you're right, you can be pretty darn sure that you're right. Similarly, if you realize that you favor one hypothesis over another, you can subject that hypothesis to even more rigorous testing than the other, doing everything you can to disprove your pet hypothesis. If you still fail, it's probably because you're right. In both cases, the bias actually contributes to ensuring that your conclusion is correct.
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Old 5th May 2012, 09:40 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
People "make an emotional investment" in something, entrenching themselves deeper and deeper. This is a well-studied phenomenon.
According to last nights show on Sci channel, psychopaths don't feel emotions.
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Old 5th May 2012, 01:58 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
According to last nights show on Sci channel, psychopaths don't feel emotions.
No, you misunderstand. They don't have empathy. But that is only one of several emotions.
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Old 5th May 2012, 02:09 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
For the sole purpose of that particular hypothetical, yes. I had considered discussing new mutations arising later, but realized it was really beside my point--which was that the mere fact that a trait exists isn't sufficient to prove that the trait is evolutionarily preferred. I agree with you 100%--a new mutation can certainly arise, particularly given how many generations it's been since our species' last bottleneck. It's just that that fact is one of a number of issues that would only have clouded my point, so I left it out.

It doesn't. However, it also isn't necessarily true that a new allele WILL arise. It's dependent upon chance. So my main point still stands.

It's not just an unjustified conclusion. In the fossil record there's a noted tendency for biodiversity to rise as you approach the present. This is due in part to increased exploration of more recent sediments (they're at the top, usually), and in part because people simply like wooly mammoths more than they like the Vendian fauna so more money gets poured into more recent research. This biases the data set we have to work with, well before we get to any conclusions. There's also biases in how tests are run--for example, I could really, really want a hypothesis to be true, so I stop testing once I get statistically significant positive results, even though further testing would show that it was just a fluke.

Basically, a bias is anything that alters one bit of information and not the others in a study (if it alters everything it's irrelevant).
OK, back to the thread.
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Old 5th May 2012, 02:10 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
...

Does recognizing this help prevent it?....
I'm not sure if this qualifies as a Catch 22 but I believe it helps. Of course I could just be fooling myself.
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Old 5th May 2012, 03:37 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
We can do much better than that: we can use biases as a tool. Let's say I'm biased--for some reason, any reason--against a conclusion you draw, but I'm an essentially rational person willing to honestly examine the data. If you can convince ME that you're right, you can be pretty darn sure that you're right. Similarly, if you realize that you favor one hypothesis over another, you can subject that hypothesis to even more rigorous testing than the other, doing everything you can to disprove your pet hypothesis. If you still fail, it's probably because you're right. In both cases, the bias actually contributes to ensuring that your conclusion is correct.
Very nice.
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Old 5th May 2012, 10:30 PM   #31
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It seems ignoring probability in the case of what might be true is more stubborn than simply relying on what seems probable to be true, doesn't it?

Even if things exist which make absolutely no sense through our ability to perceive through any means that is detectable, why would you suspect that these states are available to people at all? The idea that philosophy and religion are somehow able to offer insight into something that is beyond the material realm, beyond psychology, seems like a petty game of tag where you hide in the out of bounds zone and consider your self somehow more open minded.

I don't consider materialism a superior view in that it's the finest view of all, it's just the best we can do given the fact we are forever limited by certain realities. I don't consider this the finest and best position of all positions, but more an unfortunate result of our possible limitations. Why does this make a materialist naive? You have nothing to suggest anything should be considered to the contrary but for the abstract notion that we might not ever be able to know everything.
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Old 8th May 2012, 03:23 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I think of it as "toxic clarity," at least if I read your OP right. It's the idea that having a firm answer is sometimes more important emotionally than having a well supported or "correct" answer. I find it most often in these forums when philosophy comes up. To outsiders (me included), philosophy seems like a confusing mishmash where anything can be successfully argued -- and often is. Rather than grasp for mist, it's easier to throw up your hands and declare, "Nonsense!"
It is emotionally important, yes, and maybe to a point (and for many people) that it is an "emotionally correct" answer is much more important than having a "correct" answer.. for many reason, among them; they don't feel intelligent enough, or they believe only experts can know, authorities can know, etc. As for your last sentence, I couldn't agree more! for many people, it is way easier to shout "nonsense!" than to invest time researching the field... even if it is as absurd as possible for the World View of the person in question (for instance "ghosts" for a materialist, or "hormones" for a believer in absolute "good and evil" in the universe.

Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I feel tempted to pull the toxic clarity card in the physics discussions. Usually it's when free energy or other radical idea is put forward and I can't understand either the argument or the counter argument. I get frustrated and my default is to go with someone whose nick I recognize and who I respect. But I really don't have the physics background to judge, it just feels uncomfortable because the conclusions offered are so whacky.
I believe all of us do things like this all the time. From reasons that, often, are not reasonable at all. In a way, we are all trapped in our "internal chatting" which allows us to function in the world, but also, prevent us from seeing things from novel perspectives. Now, sure, many many times, that new perspective requires years of studying, so is not that easy.

Originally Posted by marplots View Post
On the upside, I think a good remedy is catching yourself at it.
Indeed! Learn how to think is way more important than memorizing things that others believe.
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Old 8th May 2012, 03:25 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
People "make an emotional investment" in something, entrenching themselves deeper and deeper. This is a well-studied phenomenon.

Also, the feeling of certitude you have is an emotion. You may be able to prove 2+2=4, but your certainty buttressing that logic that you feel is exactly that, a feeling, and your brain will happily apply it to something with considerably...less...validity. "If it works in your brain, transparently it is also true out in reality," or so you think, i.e. feel.
Exactly! Problem is that one can justify almost every belief with that... and so it is important to know how to "think critically"... which is something many believe they do.. but it is only sort of confirmation bias.
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Old 8th May 2012, 04:34 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by lupus_in_fabula View Post
Maybe this could be of interest (pdf): Why do humans reason? The argumentative theory of reasoning.

Or Mercier’s short summary here (website). (Edge bio here.)
thats a great reading, thanks for sharing
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Old 8th May 2012, 08:09 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
You're going about it backwards. You can't atomize an organism into its component characters and evaluate the evolutionary pressure on each character, particularly not when the species went through as bad a bottleneck as humans did (no, not the Flood--there's evidence that Homo sapiens went through a rather remarkable reduction in our numbers in the past, though). The issue is that a perfectly viable answer for the question "Why does this happen?" is "random chance". Or it could be because that trait is tied to another trait, and the other trait is controlling survivorship.

Let's say that the way the brain is wired both leads us to be rather entrenched in our views, and is involved in predicting future events. It's not an unreasonable prediction, after all--the whole of science is built on the concept that the more often an idea is demonstrated to be correct the more likely it is to be correct. The fact that we by and large become entrenched into ideas that are arrived at via irrational means could be a byproduct of the fact that predictions assist in hunting.

Of course, this is biology--it can get much weirder than that. It's entirely conceivable that the way the brain is wired is associated with, say, a gene for endurance for some reason (and there are a number of them). Humans that have more endurance will eat better and survive more often--and would tend become entrenched in their ideas more easily.

The bottleneck just makes it worse. It's entirely plausible that natural selection actually works AGAINST cognitive entrenchment, but due to genetic drift during the bottleneck the entrenchment allele reached fixation. Doesn't matter how hard the environment pushes against that trait, if there's no variation there's no selection.

My point is, we simply don't have enough data to speculate in any meaningful way about the biology or evolutionary history of this trait, and doing so with as little data as we have runs the risk of creating Just So Stories. We're talking cognitive entrenchment here--the danger here is obvious.
Good points. I would say that the mechanism that "instigates us" to believe, goes way back to whatever humans where millions of years ago.. it must be shared with our cousins (even when they have not developed complex abstract language). But ultimately you are correct, there is not enough data to speculate... well, maybe biologists would disagree.
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Old 8th May 2012, 08:12 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
My question implies acceptance of that definition. I am not asking for data to support the definition, I am asking for data to support (verify) the purported fact that every group will claim exactly the same, as per the description given.
You want scientific proof? Come on.. I'm sharing some ideas here, nothing more. That said, I would say its common sense. Humans believe. Fact. Groups of humans have a set of beliefs in common that, defines them. Another fact. Historically, people have kill each others because they believe different. Yet another fact.
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Old 8th May 2012, 08:18 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
What they both agree on is, we form our beliefs first then seek out confirming facts. Given that, which we know the brain does whether we like it or not, then you'd want to know why that trait was naturally selected. You are looking at why the outcome of such a trait was selected. But the trait results in such disparate outcomes the best way to categorize those outcomes is to look for their root. I find it more likely to be productive to look at why the root was selected first, then you can better categorize the leaves which in this metaphor are not all the same.
Got it, good ideas, thanks. I find it rather interesting that about believing first and seeking facts later... I think belief systems are almost always inherited, from our parents, family, friends, culture, etc. Sometimes, a belief will be shared because it makes someone to feel part of a group (say a political party) and the strength of the group is much more valued than the belief per se.
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Old 8th May 2012, 08:22 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
A scientist might defend her/his beliefs just as devoutly as a theist but it might appear that one differs because the beliefs are dogmatic vs changeable.

I'm dogmatic that the Universe can best be understood through evidence. Even if I update my conclusions I still hold the same belief.

Theists update their beliefs. Sometimes we forget to notice that given the underlying belief is that they have a single source of knowledge, the teachings of their gods.
I see your point. I believe it is a category problem, the source of "truthness" for the theist is their god of choice (ok, not choice but the one they "adopted" to call it someway) as a figure of "ultimate authority". In your case, "truthness" would be only possible if the evidence matches... what?
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Old 8th May 2012, 09:32 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
Got it, good ideas, thanks. I find it rather interesting that about believing first and seeking facts later... I think belief systems are almost always inherited, from our parents, family, friends, culture, etc. Sometimes, a belief will be shared because it makes someone to feel part of a group (say a political party) and the strength of the group is much more valued than the belief per se.
I have 2 brothers. We couldn't be more opposite. I'm an atheist skeptic, Progressive liberal, and convinced evidence is what matters.

One of my brothers is a church going theist, Republican Party enthusiast (including working on the payroll for some state level candidate), who bought an Ionic Breeze, a classic woo product and can't understand why I said it was fake because after all he can see the dust on the collector.

The other brother is more neutral politically and I have no clue if he does or does not believe in god but he fell for the lie that Obama was a socialist and insisted I not bother trying to convince him otherwise.

So tell me, just which belief system did we inherit?
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Old 8th May 2012, 09:35 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Bodhi Dharma Zen View Post
...In your case, "truthness" would be only possible if the evidence matches... what?
If the evidence matches reality as confirmed by the success of the scientific process.
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