Ideology > Facts

JillSwift
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Ideology > Facts

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Does ideology trump facts? Studies say it often does.

By Jonathan M. Gitlin | Published: September 24, 2008 - 07:30PM CT

We like to think that people will be well informed before making important decisions, such as who to vote for, but the truth is that's not always the case. Being uninformed is one thing, but having a population that's actively misinformed presents problems when it comes to participating in the national debate, or the democratic process. If the findings of some political scientists are right, attempting to correct misinformation might do nothing more than reinforce the false belief.

Full story.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:Quote: Does

JillSwift wrote:

Quote:

Does ideology trump facts? Studies say it often does.

By Jonathan M. Gitlin | Published: September 24, 2008 - 07:30PM CT

We like to think that people will be well informed before making important decisions, such as who to vote for, but the truth is that's not always the case. Being uninformed is one thing, but having a population that's actively misinformed presents problems when it comes to participating in the national debate, or the democratic process. If the findings of some political scientists are right, attempting to correct misinformation might do nothing more than reinforce the false belief.

Full story.

The article overstates the research. It's not that the correction of misinformation positively *reinforced* the misinformation, it's just that the correction didn't correct nearly as much as the misinformation biased the person. The article even contradicts itself:

Quote:
Over half (56 percent) of Democratic subjects disapproved of Roberts before the misinformation. That rose to 80 percent afterward, but even after correcting the misinformation, 72 percent of Democratic subjects still had a negative opinion.

So, the misinformation biased the people by 24 percent, and the correction only corrected 8 percent. The correction didn't actually further bias the people.

The real conclusion here is something we already know: People tend to believe ideas that reinforce their stereotypes and filter out information that contradict their stereotypes.

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In a democracy the

In a democracy the percentage of people who make decisions based on rationally analysing the political views, plans and history of the candidates is tiny, and I mean tiny a few % at best.

They vote on 'does the person seem nice', is he/she a good speaker, what did my parents vote for, how good at their marketing campaigns, what are my friends voting for, do I have any training in economics/politics, am I religious?

Democracy is really really really shit, the only reason we put up with it is just about everything else is worse. (Personally the world would be better if we had just 1 % of the educated elite being allowed to vote BUT who would choose that elite Smiling

 

 


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mrjonno wrote:In a democracy

mrjonno wrote:

In a democracy the percentage of people who make decisions based on rationally analysing the political views, plans and history of the candidates is tiny, and I mean tiny a few % at best.

They vote on 'does the person seem nice', is he/she a good speaker, what did my parents vote for, how good at their marketing campaigns, what are my friends voting for, do I have any training in economics/politics, am I religious?

 

Exactly!

And this is why simpletons and morons can be highly electable.

Both of the major political parties in America fully understand this now.

I would add to your, "seems nice"...   does the person look nice.


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The ignorant bible belt

The ignorant bible belt votes for personalities, not the better capable educated, and they fuck themselves and all of us. Fix education , sue the FCC etc .... what a sad sick joke this day .... "EAT the RICH" ....


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Humans are designed to trust

Humans are designed to trust one another.  That is, when someone is in our "in group," we tend to believe them without requiring definitive proof.  This is elementary, if you think about our evolutionary environment.  If somebody in the tribe says, "Tiger!!  Run!!" it's a good idea to just trust him and start running.  If he's lying, nobody loses, except for a little embarrassment and a few calories.  If he's right, instinctive trust turns out to be very valuable.

This can easily be seen at churches and political rallies.  Those people are all peers, and they have an innate tendency to trust one another.  Unfortunately, this can be viewed as a poor utilization of an advantageous adaptation.  It's great for avoiding tigers, but not so good for making well informed, reasoned decisions about long term policy.

Again, some simple extrapolation can tell us much.  Early humans, that is to say almost all of our evolutionary ancestors, lived in situations where there simply were no long term predictions to make.  Life was day to day, and survival minute to minute.  It makes perfect sense that our instincts lean heavily towards snap decisions instead of reasoned thought.

 

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Hopefully current pressures

Hopefully current pressures will force our evolution in the other direction in the future.

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Quote:Hopefully current

Quote:
Hopefully current pressures will force our evolution in the other direction in the future.

Another direction other than acting in our own benefit?  Bloody unlikely.  It's possible that we will fuck up the earth so badly that it becomes beneficial to us to steward our resources much more efficiently, but that will not be because our nature changed.  It will be because the environment changed.

Remember, humans don't instinctively plan beyond their own forseeable future.  It's kind of a foreign language for all of us.  (The future of our children is arguably within our own forseeable future, and fits the model of reciprocal altruism being a function of R, or degree of relation, but this is quibbling.)

Vastet, I feel as if you haven't read The Selfish Gene.  If you have, maybe reading The Origins of Virtue would help.  It's a good follow up book.  If you've read either or both of those books, I think you're missing something really important in them.  Humans are not here for humans.  We're here for our genes.  Genes do not think.  They just adapt to the current environment.  That's very important for you to understand.  No matter how much any organism evolves, it will still be a gene survival machine, and its nature will be to concern itself with its own current survival and reproduction.

This isn't to say that humans are completely incapable of getting together in large groups and doing things against their nature.  It's just bloody unlikely because each one of the people in a large group is an individual who is dominated by his own nature and concerned with his own survival.

Take my town as an example.  For years now, I and other outspoken members of the community have been encouraging people to leave their cars in the garage as often as possible, and walk, bike, or use public transport instead.  You can guess how much success I've had.  Curiously, now that there's been no gas in any of the gas stations for the last week and a half, I've noticed the number of cyclists increasing by the day, and the buses seem significantly more crowded than normal.  All of a sudden, people are taking the oil economy seriously.

Of course, it's not because we're "rising above our nature" or evolving into something better.  It's because it's disadvantageous to us at this time to rely on gas.  If somebody finds an oil reserve the size of Saudi Arabia underneath the cornfields in the Midwest, you can bet your bottom dollar that bikes will go out of style again.

 

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Hambydammit wrote:All of a

Hambydammit wrote:
All of a sudden, people are taking the oil economy seriously.
Hehehe. Sure. Eye-wink


Hambydammit wrote:
Of course, it's not because we're "rising above our nature" or evolving into something better.  It's because it's disadvantageous to us at this time to rely on gas.  If somebody finds an oil reserve the size of Saudi Arabia underneath the cornfields in the Midwest, you can bet your bottom dollar that bikes will go out of style again.
Yus.

Another factor in this: Among us complex macroorganisms there is the tendancy to conserve personal energy until nessesary to expend it. The two prime motives to expend energy: Getting more food to replenish your reserves, and preventing yourself from becoming someone else's reserves. This is why herds will stay on one feeding area until there's nothing left to eat, rather than keep moving to evade predators. It's why the predators will find low-energy methods of discovering prey, and why prides of Lions have perfected the art of lounging in the shade. It's why I'm typing this post rather than using my exercize machine. Eye-wink

In the context of outside energy expendature, the thing that makes cars (and horses) attractive to us is they allow us to remain in our energy-conserving state. They also allow us to minimize personal energy expendature in getting food.

It isn't until the costs of operating the car significantly impact one's ability to keep accessing resources for yourself that those costs are even noticed. The car is too benificial to personal survival, noticed on an insinctive level.

An individual life is a giant line of cost-benifit analysys at a personal level. Costs are minimized, sometimes at the cost of others because others ern't the point of survival. Benifits are maximized sometimes to the benifit of others because they may not be the point in survival they sure can help.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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Thanks for that,

Thanks for that, JillSwift.  Really well put.  While we're at it, it's really important to understand what nonzero sum reciprocal altruism is good for and what it's not.

As an illustration, I'm going to use birds -- I think I'm thinking of red grouse, but if I'm not, rest assured that there's a bird that fits my description.  I'm just conserving energy by not looking it up at this time.

Among these birds, there's only one way for a male to mate, and that is to build a nest.  Unfortunately, there are not enough nesting areas to support the average male population.  Some males go nest-less, and therefore do not get to mate.  If we assume that survival of the genes is the ultimate goal of genes (it is), then we might predict that the homeless birds would mercilessly attack birds with nests, hoping to defeat them in battle, kill them, or otherwise extract them from their nests, thus ensuring them a chance to mate.

Curiously, this is not what happens.  The homeless birds hover at the edge of the territory, apparently resigned to their fate.  The nested males are left unmolested.  Proponents of group selection have suggested that this is an example of individuals sacrificing themselves for the good of the group, but it is most certainly not.  It is actually selfish behavior.

Each bird that got a nest acquired it through force.  That is, he beat another male at combat or intimidated him into backing off.  In many cases, he did this repeatedly.  The bottom line is, he's a bad motherfucker.  Having lost one battle already, it stands to reason that the loser, should he attack again, will lose again.  This will mean that he has reduced his capacity to fight again later.  The more times he repeats this, the less capable he will be of defending his own nest should he acquire one.  If he dies in the attempt, his chances of mating drop to zero.

The nested males are not guaranteed reproductive success, though.  There are these things called foxes that love to eat birds sitting on nests.  When a fox comes out of the woods, what makes more sense?  For him to pursue the homeless bird that can take to the air and forget all about where he was, or to pursue the bird that will stay and doggedly defend its nest?  Obviously, the nested males are more vulnerable.  So, the outsiders are not resigned to their fate, nor are they sacrificing for the group.  They're conserving their energy so that when a fox comes along and eats a nested male, they will have as much strength as possible to fight the other homeless birds off and win the nest.

From this example, we can see that seemingly altruistic behaviors are not really "for the good of the group."  While they may have the added benefit of being good for the group, the bottom line is that they are good for the individual.  It works the same way in human societies.  We don't pay taxes because it's good for the group.  We pay taxes because it's good for us, on many levels.  There isn't a human alive that can manufacture a computer completely from raw materials to finished product.  We need other humans to have higher living standards.  This is the nature of nonzero-sum reciprocal altruism.  When it is generally to the advantage of an individual to defer to others, or to sacrifice part of his resources, he will.

This is why the poor are not constantly revolting all over the world.  They're not sacrificing for the group.  They're doing the best they can with what they have in the hopes of being able to get something better in the future.

What does this mean for the environment?  It means that until and unless it becomes more of a burden to exploit the environment than protect it, we will not, as a group, protect it in any meaningful way.  Same for any current political question.  Things happen when the perception is that it is to our individual benefit to do so.  If you don't believe this, think about something really altruistic in government, like socialized medicine.  This may seem like the ultimate in self sacrifice, but it's obviously not.  If medical care is free to everybody, and I have to pay for it out of my check every week, I know that no matter what happens, even if I don't have a job, or any money, I will get the benefit of socialized medicine in the future.  Furthermore, it's obvious that societies with extreme poverty are not good to live in, even for the well to do.  There are huge swaths of territory where it's generally undesirable and unsafe to go, and uprisings are much more common when there is a huge disparity in wealth.  If healthcare is an expense that threatens to drive millions of people into poverty, then it makes sense even for wealthy individuals to give up some of their resources to keep the poor happy enough that they won't ruin society for the wealthy.

Obviously, I'm not saying you can predict an election based on game theory.  People do things that don't make sense, and we vote for things that are not good for us individually in the broad scheme of things.  That's just what we're talking about, though.  People may get it wrong, but their motivation is always self interest.  This is where ideology finds victims.  It tells people that such and such will be good for them, and then counts on their selfish motivations to fuel the ideology.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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 Yeah Hamby ... as in

 Yeah Hamby ... as in Religion, like politics, as you say,

"It tells people that such and such will be good for them, and then counts on their selfish motivations to fuel the ideology."~~~

   Umm, songs, The Who comes to mind. "Won't Get Fooled Again" ... "I can See For Miles" ..... ( my funnest longest formed band played fast moving medleys from the most popular guitar bands. Not a dull moment .... We rocked 'em good !

 


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
Hopefully current pressures will force our evolution in the other direction in the future.

Another direction other than acting in our own benefit?  Bloody unlikely.  It's possible that we will fuck up the earth so badly that it becomes beneficial to us to steward our resources much more efficiently, but that will not be because our nature changed. 

How is acting in such a way in our own benefit today?

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Quote:How is acting in such

Quote:
How is acting in such a way in our own benefit today?

How is acting in what way in our own benefit today?  I don't get the question.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:Quote:How

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
How is acting in such a way in our own benefit today?

How is acting in what way in our own benefit today?  I don't get the question.

 

Sorry, I assumed the train of thought had continued. How is trusting everyone(or most people) in our own benefit today? The way I see it, it is NOT a survival benefit to trust everyone. It has not been for a number of years. The reverse is actually true today. Increasingly, the trusting are victimized and less able to survive and spread their genes. Therefore current pressures suggest a less trusting society in the future, more capable of throwing out ridiculous suggestions like a god, as per natural selection and evolutionary processes.

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Stop using such wide

Stop using such wide brushes.  It's not in our direct benefit to trust everyone all the time.  That's not what game theory says.

Imagine a very simple scenario.    In a computer program, we have units that are randomly moving within a set space.  When they touch, they interact and play one round of "Prisoner's Dilemma."  If you're not familiar with it, google it.  It's pretty simple.  Now, we can program these units with memory, and we can also program them to have a chance of defection when they play.  In other words, they will not always play with the most mutually beneficial strategy.

The way we handle memory determines the success of any strategy.  Suppose we tell each unit, "Trust another unit the first time you play.  If they play fair, continue to trust them.  If they defect, do not play with them again in the future."  You can see that on balance, so long as there are more multiple copies of this strategy in a group, they will tend to proliferate.  The ones that defect will not get to play anymore, and will gain no resources once they've interacted with the rest of the units.  If reproductive success is determined by accumulation of resources, it's easy to see that the strategy of tempered fair play will win.

It turns out, there's an even better strategy.  That is, tempered trust with provisional forgiveness.  If a unit defects, it is sometimes given a "free pass" and allowed to play with the same unit again at a later date.  The defect strategy is still not as evolutionarily stable, but if we include learning in the equation, it becomes much more beneficial to the whole "species."  That is, if units that defect can learn that defection doesn't pay and cooperation does, you can "convert" defectors into fair players.

Ok, now, you must understand Prisoner's dilemma to get this.  If everyone plays PD over a never-ending succession of overlapping generations, the group as a whole as well as individuals make more than they would if they didn't play at all, or if they only defected.  Though the payout for cooperation is less, the benefit of long term cooperation far exceeds the short term gain from defection.

In short, social animals are imbued with something we can call provisional trust with memory.  It gets much more complex in humans, but the principle is roughly the same.  Trust someone until they prove untrustworthy, then shun them.  Forgive them if they ask really nicely, but don't forgive them repeatedly if they keep cheating.

What makes the whole thing work is memory and gossip, or more scientifically, reputation.

*******

You need to be careful to separate types of behavior.  Society functions because of reciprocal altruism.  That's what I was illustrating above.  Credulity is another matter, though.  Credulity is an evolutionary adaptation that furthered reciprocal altruism.  Credulity doesn't make society work.  Instead, it makes reciprocal altruism easier to sustain, which in general will make society work better.

Remember, credulity, as an evolutionary adaptation, is trading expedience for accuracy.  Despite having moved into a society where accuracy is usually more beneficial than expedience, we are still governed by essentially the same instincts, so we are still credulous.  This is central to most of my arguments regarding the future of humanity. 

Now, here's the punchline.  You must remember that humans are here for genes, not the other way around.  Credulity works today just about as well as it did in pre-agricultural days.  It doesn't necessarily work for individuals -- that is to say, believing in gods and lottery tickets doesn't have an immediate benefit for an individual, but you can't tell me that you don't recognize the reproductive power of systems that require mass credulity.  It's about spreading genes, not making society better.

I mentioned in another thread that capitalism is an effect, not a cause.  This is the flip I'm trying to get your brain to make.  Humans don't cause society, and society isn't here for the betterment of mankind.  We are very intelligent, but we are still instinctive social creatures who are largely governed by our instincts.  You can recognize the truth of this by visiting someplace where humans congregate in very large numbers.  We all do the same things.  All of us.  When you remove the piddly things that seem very important to us as individuals, we don't look particularly different from ants.  That's because we are just like ants.  We have a much more complicated system of reproducing, forming societies, and interacting with others of our kind, but at the heart, we just go about in much the same way as any other social animal, and the grand movements are clearly visible from the perspective of a superorganism.

 

 

 

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That is way too much for me

That is way too much for me to be able to get into under the time constraints I am under. I don't want to appear intellectually lazy or deceptive by only touching on one or two points, so I'm simply going to say we must agree to disagree.

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I don't mean to sound harsh,

I don't mean to sound harsh, but I reread this whole thread, searching for things with which you might disagree, and I'm sorry to say that if you disagree with pretty much anything I've said in it, you're just factually wrong.  The stuff about birds from two posts ago isn't conjecture.  It's math.  The stuff about us being gene survival machines is likewise factual.  Credulity is clearly an alternative to accuracy.  Game Theory really does demonstrate the mathematical underpinnings of our culture, and the most sound strategy is conditional trust with provisional forgiveness.

Go back and re-read the thread.  I'm not making exact predictions.  I simply presented facts about human nature and how it functions within large groups.  If you don't like where you think the facts lead, that's an issue to be certain, but if you're going to disagree with any of the premises I've given you, you're going to need to do it in the context of refuting the best scientists in the world.

The only thing I think you might have a legitimate disagreement with is my statement that capitalism is an effect, not a cause.  While you can certainly construct a paradigm within which capitalism is a causal agent, you can't argue against the conclusion that within the bounds of my presentation, capitalism is most certainly an effect, as is any system of government.

Anyway, I understand time constraints, and I won't hold it against you if you don't care to entertain this line of thinking at this time.  I really would encourage you to do some science reading about game theory and sociobiology, though.  If you're going to disagree with the best scientists in the world, you should at least be well versed in their material.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:I don't

Hambydammit wrote:

I don't mean to sound harsh, but I reread this whole thread, searching for things with which you might disagree, and I'm sorry to say that if you disagree with pretty much anything I've said in it, you're just factually wrong.  The stuff about birds from two posts ago isn't conjecture.  It's math.  The stuff about us being gene survival machines is likewise factual.  Credulity is clearly an alternative to accuracy.  Game Theory really does demonstrate the mathematical underpinnings of our culture, and the most sound strategy is conditional trust with provisional forgiveness.

Go back and re-read the thread.  I'm not making exact predictions.  I simply presented facts about human nature and how it functions within large groups.  If you don't like where you think the facts lead, that's an issue to be certain, but if you're going to disagree with any of the premises I've given you, you're going to need to do it in the context of refuting the best scientists in the world.

The only thing I think you might have a legitimate disagreement with is my statement that capitalism is an effect, not a cause.  While you can certainly construct a paradigm within which capitalism is a causal agent, you can't argue against the conclusion that within the bounds of my presentation, capitalism is most certainly an effect, as is any system of government.

Anyway, I understand time constraints, and I won't hold it against you if you don't care to entertain this line of thinking at this time.  I really would encourage you to do some science reading about game theory and sociobiology, though.  If you're going to disagree with the best scientists in the world, you should at least be well versed in their material.

 

 

Whatever man. You're approaching from a perspective that is irrelevant. So you can think whatever you like about what I have in fact and what I don't. You are wrong.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.