CONTRARY BRIN: Shall we give up on reason?

Will we genetic-cavemen ever become the logical beings we flatter ourselves into believing we are? Or that Science Fiction says we might become?  Recent research suggests that we have a long slog ahead of us… and yes, even the smartest best-educated folks allow their pre-set beliefs and passions to interfere with basic mental processes, if their close-held biases might be under threat. Indeed we have all seen this tenacity in online arguments, in which cogent – even devastating and fact-rich — rebuttals don’t sway the other guy even an iota. See: Scientists’ depressing new discovery about the brain.
 
We already knew this. The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes. Clearly this is what goes on as know-nothings rage against scientists and other professionals. –David Brin

via CONTRARY BRIN.

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If the Dunning–Kruger effect describes the delusional superiority of unskilled know-nothings, what should we call the brilliant self-delusions hatched by our best and brightest minds? The cognitively biased genius may be a greater threat to the fate of civilization than the self-deluded dumb-ass.

Bertrand-Russell-the-whole-problem-with-the-world-is-that-fools-and-fantatics-are-always-so-certain-of-themselves-wiser-pepole-so-full-of-doubts

Notice that Russell says wiser people are full of doubts–not smarter people or better-educated people.  Is there a consistent correlation between intelligence and wisdom? If my personal experience is any guide, there often seems to be an inverse relation between the two at the high end of the intelligence scale. There never seems to be any shortage of highly-intelligent and well-educated fools. It reminds me of the correlation between income (or wealth) and happiness. Up to a point increasing wealth is positively correlated with increasing happiness and decreasing stress. But at some point there is a diminishing return, and then eventually the relationship becomes inversely proportional. So too with intelligence and wisdom. So too with knowledge and certainty.

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Jane Austen

“I have no talent for certainty.”

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Age of Enlightenment emerges from birth canal

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Image via Wikipedia

The Age of Enlightenment has been in gestation for about 300 years. Recently I saw a video that made me feel like I was in the delivery room watching it finally be born.

If I were stranded on a deserted island, this is the one video would I want everyone else in the world to watch:

Neil deGrasse Tysonfrom the Beyond Belief Conference at the Salk Institute, 2006.

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The strength of our convictions

“You can’t reason people out of something they weren’t reasoned into.”

Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745)

“Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms—such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B.

Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)

Drapier—or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

He is remembered for works such as Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub.”

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