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Old 08-01-2019, 09:42   #31
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Hi, Mike,
You bring up some good points. Firstly, the "social sciences"-- psychology, sociology, economics, as you mentioned, are not "hard sciences" since there are always multiple answers for any questions/responses and they morph from generation to generation depending on many societal factors. ...
Agreed. Humanity (us/we/me) is notoriously difficult to research and understand with the rigour applied to hard science. It’s good to see these social sciences striving, and in some areas, actually living up to their “science” name.

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Secondly, a "lie", from an evolutionary perspective is a survival tactic and the reason lies are so prevalent is that, by and large, they are so successful. ...
Yes … there’s a whole range of evolutionary traits which are being sussed out of quality social science research now. I’m finding areas like evolutionary psychology and behavioural economics to be fascinating in their findings, and in their quality of research. For example, as as you just said, the “lie” has emerged out of evolution (both biological and now cultural). Common perception is to deride the practice, yet quality social science research is now showing how ubiquitous it is. As the book says, we all lie.

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Finally, as far as this subject being "political," the suggestion is patently absurd. Why is it whenever someone poses an intelligent, provocative post it is perceived by some as "political?" This is not a Democratic, Republican or Socialist issue but a human issue unrelated to politics for people with a thinking brain. Good post, Gord. Rognvald
Sadly these days, verifiable truths ARE political — at least in some jurisdictions. Politicians have always danced with the truth. Indeed, we all do. But some current politicians have taken this to a whole new level.

This development is, in itself, rather fascinating. Consider that today it is easier than ever for most of us to verify a statement of fact. You’d think this would would promote honest discourse on verifiable facts. The opposite appears to be happening. THIS is a fascinating human development that deserves study.

BTW, I appreciate Rumsfeld’s expression of the concept of unknown-unknowns, but it is certainly not original to him.
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Old 08-01-2019, 11:17   #32
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Skewed analysis. People mainly write or comment when they think (rightly or wrongly) they have something to contribute. The majority of the "I don't know" people don't bother to say so on the internet.
Not sure how the analysis could be skewed. I didn't say that X% of people won't admit that they don't know, or that they were wrong. Only that there are a HUGE number of such people out there. Which there are. I have personally seen enough postings by such people for it to qualify as HUGE in my opinion.


(And since "huge" is a completely subjective term, I get to define what I mean when I use the word. )
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Old 08-01-2019, 11:31   #33
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Not sure how the analysis could be skewed.

You said:
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Sadly, of course, when you look around the internet, you see that there are a HUGE number of people in our world who seem to be completely unable to utter either of those phrases.

When you "look around the Internet", you're seeing just the people who think they have something to say. Those who "don't know" or haven't formed an opinion.... don't post or comment, right?
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Old 08-01-2019, 11:48   #34
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Consider that today it is easier than ever for most of us to verify a statement of fact. You’d think this would would promote honest discourse on verifiable facts. The opposite appears to be happening. THIS is a fascinating human development that deserves study.
I have been gobsmacked by this phenomenon. It is a truly fascinating area of study. Based on many examples of past significant policy issues, I have become convinced that societal change takes 50 years (+/-) to become established norm. Extrapolate that to our future with something like Search engines, which were created in the early 90s (Excite in 1993; Google and Ask Jeeves in 1998), then this means that some time in the 2040s we are likely to have a populace with the knowledge, skills and experience to properly check facts themselves. I gave a talk to colleagues in 2003 about understanding risks and public misconceptions. I said the internet is a great thing because it will allow the masses to become more environmentally and scientifically astute in risk-based thinking, which will also allow them to become more politically involved than ever before. It certainly has become that, but I see now that it's going to be a messier transition than expected. Based on where we were in the past, when only a few in power made all the decisions, we'll get there, and this chaos, too, will pass...

The link below is to an article in the Washington Post on the Dunning-Kruger effect, which helps explains the current phenomenon a bit -- that people with the least knowledge of a subject will self-report as being more competent than others. So yes, "it is political" as Dr. Dunning points out.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/scien...=.710b71336de7
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:17   #35
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

The internet has enabled learning the truth much more easily, but that takes work.

Turns out most people are very lazy (Shock, who knew?) and would rather feel securely embedded in and accepted by their chosen "identity paradigm / zeitgeist tribe" than participate in a consensual reality based on evidence.

Therefore taking advantage of the ability to embed yourself in a Bubble where you're never challenged by ideas contrary to the dogma of that tribe.

The idea of "what is Real" now becomes secondary to loyalty to that tribe, and twisted as a weapon to steer politics to serve the leaders of your faction.

War mongering to boost national interests and armaments sales, wordly power held by organized religion, have been ever thus,

while in the past century, the tobacco, automobile/energy, sugar / big ag / chemicals / pharma and banking industries have become masters for commercial reasons,

and those holding onto the historical legacies of patriarchy, colonialism and slavery,

in the end, it really all comes down to Propaganda in service to Capital.

We now have few trusted institutional gatekeepers of a shared POV, so the lazier / more ignorant segments of the population are all the more easily brainwashed.
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:21   #36
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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In general, it seems to me, that the more a person knows, the more a person is aware of how much more there is to know. Only people who know very little, really think they know it all.
Exactly. How can you ever know it all (although some people are, nevertheless, quite sure that they do). I was in essentially the same field of work my entire life and I was still learning new things the hour before I walked out the door for retirement.

The things I didn't learn there in forty years, made me realize that there are probably no subjects that I know all there is to know about (or ever will).

And, it also has made me very suspicious of anyone who insists that everything that can be known on a subject is already known (by them, of course) and especially anyone who insists on shutting off debate on any subject on that basis.
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Old 08-01-2019, 14:08   #37
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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This development is, in itself, rather fascinating. Consider that today it is easier than ever for most of us to verify a statement of fact. You’d think this would would promote honest discourse on verifiable facts. The opposite appears to be happening. THIS is a fascinating human development that deserves study.

.

I'd only have to slightly agree with the above. Large in part to the internet, we can search vast gigabytes of information related to a specific target. However, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's correct. Very few articles on the internet are peer reviewed much less have a way to challenge the validity and even less likely a mechanism for removal.

Even in the published literature thing have become skewed over the years toward what I call soft back infomercials. As a multi degreed licensed profession that still practices, I get all these professional publications which have technical articles that are written by vendors that are mostly advertisements. Technical classes which I have to take yearly to keep my license are the same way.

It is possible to do due diligence and determine how reliable the source is, but most people just don't do it.

This also ushered in the era of Fake News and Click Bait articles where the sole purpose of the piece is to generate traffic and resulting in revenue. It's a new business model that isn't going away, only getting worse.

Couple the above with people whose salary or tenure is tied to published papers, and the incentive for junk research and publication is incentivized.

One of the chapters in the previously cited "Skeptics' Guide to the Universe" details how data mining of net base articles can lead to dramatically different results. A search of articles relating to (I won't name it) propertied that 96% of the people believe X. However, if you remove variants of the same base study and only include the peer reviewed articles, the result was much lower at 45%. Both are correct, but one is more relevant and accurate as to why they are trying to imply. Basic data manipulation.

My thoughts nowadays, assume it's wrong unless you can prove it true.

One final thing back to the OP subject on being wrong and that's OK. I believe Ben Franklin said it "I don't mind learning a lesson, I just don't like be taught a lesson" and that's how I abide.
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Old 08-01-2019, 14:18   #38
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

Fun discussion folks. Thanks .

gamayun: Interesting concept of uptake. I’m sure there’s something to that. Curious how you picked 50 as the period though. Off the cuff I’d think generational period might be a more obvious demarcation of this kind of change.

But I don’t see a slow shift towards adoption of these increasingly available and powerful information tools. I see exactly the opposite trend. It seems that ignorance is growing, not shrinking. And worse, in too many areas it seems to be intentional, rather than accidental ignorance.

As you are saying John, tribalism is baked into our genes. It’s a key part of who we all are. It’s always been used and abused by power. It is also critical to most of the positive developments of our civilization (a true double-edged sword). I suspect this trend towards active ignorance has something to do with the nature and power of today’s Internet. In short, it magnifies our tribal tendancies.

I see today’s Internet as the perfect tool for fostering in, and out group bias. This is especially true of the “social media” aspects (which in true Orwellian speak, has little to do with being social). It allows all of us to create and control our own space far more effectively than the recent modern past. I suspect you’d have to go back to days where travel was virtually impossible for the masses, to see the same kind of cultural isolation today’s Internet fosters.

To bring this back to cruising, and to offer an example, we’ve seen a spate of threads asking where young cruisers can find their kind. In the recent one I mused that we never see other generational groups asking this question. I speculated that this had something to do with the fact that millennials are the first generation to grow up with the Internet, so they are used to defining their own “social” space far more than previous ones. It seems to be shade of this bigger isolationism issue we now see reflected in our politics, and in life in general.
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Old 08-01-2019, 15:18   #39
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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tribalism is baked into our genes. It’s a key part of who we all are. It’s always been used and abused by power. It is also critical to most of the positive developments of our civilization (a true double-edged sword)
One side of the sword much harder and sharper and more skillfully wielded.

I don't see many of "civilization's" developments to have been positive, except to a tiny fraction of humanity, and likely not much longer.

And certainly not to all the rest of God's creatures with which we share the body of our Mother Earth. We've become a viral pathogen gone out of control, and her immune reaction is building up, getting stronger.

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Old 08-01-2019, 15:55   #40
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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But I don’t see a slow shift towards adoption of these increasingly available and powerful information tools. I see exactly the opposite trend. It seems that ignorance is growing, not shrinking. And worse, in too many areas it seems to be intentional, rather than accidental ignorance.
Interesting thoughts regarding this trend. I keep thinking that SOME sort of force will emerge to help us all manage this increasing information entropy, sort through the chaff and keep the wheat...but there is the paradox. Who can you trust to provide balance and truth? Big data? Big government?
Older generations might remember the phrase "you can't believe everything that you read". It was good advice that was probably coined in the first days of the printing press. There is currently no good phrase that I know of which means the same thing but to many more orders of magnitude. Even the phrase "peer reviewed" has become tainted in places. Who exactly are the peers of a tech blogger, and why do we care what they think? If I surrender my searches to a particular search engine, then I've given up in a way. Instant access to that random diesel fuel injector repair video is still worth all the headaches to me, though. Chaos is a mixed bag...
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Old 08-01-2019, 16:29   #41
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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….My thoughts nowadays, assume it's wrong unless you can prove it true....
Nowadays?? The default mode of good science is (or should be) to assume something's wrong until it can be proved, repeatably, and then to hold that opinion open to change, subject to new data...

A corollary is to not believe anything until one has to believe it...and to hold anything one wants to believe to the highest possible suspicion.
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Old 08-01-2019, 16:29   #42
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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...I don't see many of "civilization's" developments to have been positive, except to a tiny fraction of humanity, and likely not much longer.
Oh, I dunno. I think sliced bread, and all the "Greatest Things" that have come since this ultimate invention, are pretty cool . Figuring out the Bernoulli effect gave us sails that can go to weather. I think fibreglass is pretty nice. As a student of astrophysics I think our understand of the cosmos, both big and small, is wonderful. Oh, and swords; double-edged or not, are pretty useful tools when defending one’s tribe.

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And certainly not to all the rest of God's creatures with which we share the body of our Mother Earth. We've become a viral pathogen gone out of control, and her immune reaction is building up, getting stronger.
All depends on how you measure success. Civilization has allowed homo sapiens to become one of the most successful species this planet has ever spit forth. Since it’s all about passing on, and expanding, one’s genes, civilization has been incredibly successful.

Viruses too are incredibly successful.

You know I agree with your assessment regarding the state of our impact on our biosphere. I too think our species is feeling the beginning of Nature’s reckoning. We will be brought back into balance, one way or another.

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Interesting thoughts regarding this trend. I keep thinking that SOME sort of force will emerge to help us all manage this increasing information entropy, sort through the chaff and keep the wheat...but there is the paradox. Who can you trust to provide balance and truth? Big data? Big government?
Funny… this used to be so obvious. Civilization brought forth expertise and experts. For good, AND for ill, these were the gatekeepers and adjudicators of information.

Information technology has devalued the notion of the expert. There is this sense that we don’t need these people anymore because we can all become experts as we require. Youtube videos on diesel injector repair proves there is some truth to this view. But I think expertise still matters. Finding the new balance is what we’re doing now in society.
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Old 08-01-2019, 17:29   #43
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Interesting thoughts regarding this trend. I keep thinking that SOME sort of force will emerge to help us all manage this increasing information entropy, sort through the chaff and keep the wheat...but there is the paradox. Who can you trust to provide balance and truth? Big data? Big government?

It's not information entropy, it's improper use. The current problem with the abundance of unverified or decontextualized information is that many people simply look for that which provides validation of their own opinion, and then they stop. Notice how much of the arguments made around some contentious subjects are simply attacks on the source or motives of the providers of information supporting the viewpoint they oppose.


There IS a process by which much important information can be tested and judged. It's called the scientific process, and although not perfect, it's still the one system best-equipped to cut through human biases and imperfections. Which is why so many attack it, of course.
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Old 08-01-2019, 18:10   #44
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

It used to be that reference material was mostly full of dry facts. But dry facts won’t get lots of clicks. In the internet age most online material is full of opinions with a few facts that maybe support that opinion. The ease of getting internet “data” means that a whole new generation doesn’t understand the difference between fact and opinion. In reality, it seems most writers don’t know the difference either these days.
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Old 08-01-2019, 18:13   #45
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Re: Intellectual Humility & the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Darn, I wanted to see all the climate change research papers that would be posted.




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This issue has become endemic across all the sciences, driven by the pressure to publish, to get grant money, and for general recognition within the field. Fortunately, a lot of journals are taking a hard look at what they are publishing and working to address how they evaluate submissions.


Hmmm....I think it depends if the science falls in line with the journalist political views, rather than a hard look it turns into a soft glance.
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