« Tax credits: journalists' failure | Main | Failing conventionally »

October 28, 2015



Well, obviously.

The perfect example of this is religious belief, especially Fundamentalism.

What is more likely - that someone who finds evolution difficult to believe adopts Creationism, and as a result accepts misogynistic and homophobic beliefs (even if they don't want to) - or that people inclined towards misogyny and homophobia find Creationism a highly convenient way of validating their beliefs in a way that cannot be argued with (because religion ).

This is a major problem for New Atheists - an inability to identify as anything other than irrationally what is really expressive rationality.

Luis Enrique

I was thinking something along these lines when I saw people pointing to Corbyn's A-levels and asking if he's smart enough. Smart is great if you happen to be smart and right, but there's plenty of smart and wrong about and these people could be worse than not-so-smart and more malleable.

also I am not really seeing the distinction between a cognitive bias and habits of thought aimed at protecting our status and (self) image

Dave Timoney

@Luis, a cognitive bias is an error of judgement; expressive rationality is a matter of affinity. This (I think) is what Chris means by a category error.

Luis Enrique

sounds confirmation bias to me, just adding idea that confirmation bias is self-serving.


“Professor Kahan says this is not necessarily irrational”

Irrationality explicable as non-consciously motivated irrationality is still irrationality in my book.

Anyway, although I expect the “protecting self-integrity” explanation is often the correct one, as Jaynes has pointed out¹, such phenomena aren't necessarily inconsistent with (valid) Bayesian reasoning.

¹ http://www-biba.inrialpes.fr/Jaynes/cc05e.pdf


It is difficult to advocate listening to feelings or understanding emotion in a society that prizes the rational man above all other things. The problem with over-rational thinking is that it fosters blinkered thoughts.

In order to think, you have to be prepared to let in your feelings. After all, even Descartes stated "I doubt, I think therefore I am" (interesting that that line is often misquoted in line with our rational thinking is the only way of thinking project)

Steven Clarke

You're missing a whopper - religion. A person's religious beliefs are hard to criticize because they are so wrapped up in a person's sense of identity and purpose.

Of course this is not the whole deal with conflicts between religion and empirical validity - by its very nature it prizes revelation and faith over proof - but it's a big part.

Joseph Hertzlinger

Ideologues frequently assume that anybody who does not agree with them is an ideologue on the Other Side. If an ideologue on the Other Side shows you an inconclusive study, it's plausible that such a study was the best he could do and that, in turn, implies that the Other Side has no conclusive studies.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad