Odds and Ends, 23Sep13

Scientific American has this Michael Shermer essay about struggling with motivated reasoning–


Give him credit — he struggles with ideological convictions in the light of evidence, and changes his mind. But finds that others at a Libertarian conference are not so flexible.

Here’s a nice essay on Huffington Post by Matthew Hutson, author of a book called The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking. It strikes me as a rather simplified version of the argument in Jesse Bering’s The Belief Instinct, currently the best case I’ve seen for taking the human mind’s reasoning biases as explanations for the basic religious/spiritual inclinations of all human cultures.


I recently re-read Jesse Bering’s book, but will wait to blog about it until I finish David McRaney’s second book — since his psychological cases serve as clinical bases for Bering’s argument.

Andrew Sullivan links to a post about gun control, which quotes Jared Diamond’s Collapse, about why societies persist in irrational policies…

Most of the time, he points out, the simple sunk cost of the irrationality helps it persist: we have always believed this, and to un-believe it is to lose our faith in ourselves.

Which principle applies to say many things about current US policies.

And to unsettle philosophical certainties…


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