Showing posts with label "Cognitive Bias". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Cognitive Bias". Show all posts

A terrifying new theory: Fake news, conspiracy theories [and religions] as an evolutionary strategy

Hat Tip to Robert Conner for this news item. Here are a few snippets:

"Human beings have an evolutionary history, and deception is commonplace in the animal world because it confers evolutionary advantage. There's good reason to believe we're not so different, other than the fact that humans are ultra-social creatures. In ancestral and evolutionary terms, being part of a successful social group was every bit as essential as food and water. So deception among humans evolved from group conflicts."

"So what we're trying to understand is, why people believe things that must be false. The traditional narrative is, 'Well if you believe false things, then you must be stupid. It must be because you haven't really made an effort to actually figure out what is going on." But over the last few decades, more and more research has accumulated that suggests that's not the case. In fact the people who are responsible for spreading misinformation are not those who know the least about politics. They actually know quite a lot about politics. In that sense, knowledge doesn't guard against believing things that are false."

"But because we humans are exceptionally complex, another way to signal our loyalty is through the beliefs that we hold. We can signal loyalty to a group by having a certain set of beliefs, and then the question is, "Well, what is the type of belief through which we can signal that we belong?" First of all, it should be a belief that other people are not likely to have, because if everyone has this belief, then it's not a very good signal of group loyalty. It needs to be something that other people in other groups do not have. The basic logic at work here is that anyone can believe the truth, but only loyal members of the group can believe something that is blatantly false." LINK.

People Don’t Know When They’re Lying to Themselves

I've said these kinds of things before but I need to say them again and again and again, this time in reference to two notorious people in the headlines. The lesson of Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen is that they're lying to themselves and don't know it. They've convinced themselves they are right. But then, this is what we as human do, most all of us. It takes a special kind of skepticism to stop ourselves from doing this. And this applies equally when it comes to our religious debates. My claim is that Christians are delusional. They simply believe despite the overwhelming evidence against their faith. They are in denial just like Gaddafi and Sheen. We can see it plainly in others. What we cannot do is see the same thing in ourselves. So I'm against faith-based reasoning, which is best defined as "belief in search of data." Gaddafi and Sheen have a belief in themselves so they have found the relevant data and convinced themselves they are in the right. You cannot convince them otherwise. That makes skepticism, an adult attitude, a virtue. So I won't believe anything for which there isn't good solid evidence for it. And I won't believe anything for which there are no reasonable answers to basic questions. What's not to understand about this?

A Listing of Cognitive Biases

Cognitive bias is a general term that is used to describe many distortions in the human mind that are difficult to eliminate and that lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, or illogical interpretation. Link
Why do I keep writing about this? Because we know humans are prone to these biases. We know this. So we should all become skeptics. We should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true. We should adopt a science-based reasoning rather than a faith-based reasoning. Dr. James Alcock defined faith-based reasoning as "belief in search of data." Given the cognitive biases this is simply a wrong-headed approach if we want to know the truth.

A Visual Study Guide to COGNITIVE BIASES

This visual guide is excellent. Believers ought to study up on these biases and apply them to their faith. It is a great antidote to faith based reasoning. Follow this link. At the bottom there are arrows to turn the page. You might want to click on "Full Screen" icon too. I think a study of each one of them could be helpful to see how pervasive they are with people who claim to be rational and why the best bet we have for escaping these biases are the sciences.

The Implications of the Book Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

From the description of the book we read:
Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made but Not by Me offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.
I read it and loved it. Fascinating stuff here about cognitive dissonance and how we deceive ourselves to resolve it. The implications of this book are that we should all be skeptics and trust the sciences. Let me briefly explain.