The Most Depressing Discovery About the Brain, Ever

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TallyMan
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30 Aug 2014, 6:24 am

Forget facts, truth or reality, people will believe whatever they want to believe anyway even when the facts show that belief is wrong! Even worse, providing facts that someone's beliefs are incorrect just entrenches those beliefs even further! This new scientific discovery won't come as a surprise to many of us in the PPR forum; especially those who have attempted to debate with YECs, creationists or those who have exchanged verbal blows over politics.

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say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, media literacy or reason can provide the tools and information that people need in order to make good decisions. It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn?t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we?re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.


http://www.alternet.org/media/most-depressing-discovery-about-brain-ever


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Stannis
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30 Aug 2014, 8:22 am

I would expect that gun advocates would not want to be seen to accept and assimilate data which undermines their position. The anomalous answers could be a strategic effort not to concede political ground. That is, if they even are anomalous.



Last edited by Stannis on 30 Aug 2014, 6:32 pm, edited 8 times in total.

ZenDen
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30 Aug 2014, 8:54 am

This article states:

"say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, media literacy or reason can provide the tools and information that people need in order to make good decisions. It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn?t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we?re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe. "

This seems like a confused statement because of the last sentence in the article: "The power of emotion over reason isn?t a bug in our human operating systems, it?s a feature."

The casual reader might deduce our decisions are beyond the control of the conscious mind and controlled instead by instincts and emotion but a closer reading informs us emotions ONLY influence people. The article also doesn't explain how different people react differently to emotional urges.....a very "cherry picked" story in my estimation.

However I have been in discussion about guns and gun control and can personally testify to other's emotions leading to their blindness to the truth. HaHaHaHA!

Personally I make it a point to watch and listen to FOX news (and others) so I can understand the reasons for their "political opposition" And, oddly enough, sometimes I find views that seem more correct (less biased) than more left leaning sources. But when, on another forum, I proposed this idea to better understand the truth, people became quite upset and challenged me to show ANYTHING that was true on FOX but not on Maddow (sp?). But I feel it's actions like this which can provide a more balanced "mind set." Would you agree?

And if it's true we can maintain a better mental balance through observation, judgment and practice, then this would be the logical way for us to lead our lives, and to avoid the mental/emotional (we good...they bad) traps political parties like to lay for us, as you describe. Thanks for pointing this out to everyone.

I believe the same mental exercise gives us a more balanced approach to the rest of our lives as well. This seems rational to me.



Ectryon
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30 Aug 2014, 9:13 am

Kids need to be taught early on how to make rational judgements. I try to make reason based decisions leaving emotion out of the equation because i've seen and learnt what that leads to. My personal life experience is what has made me challenge my decisions and evaluate my actions for signs of emotionalism. The problem is that the dominant culture is governed by emotion and media outlets propogate this.


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GGPViper
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30 Aug 2014, 9:53 am

Several other researchers have found that one shouldn't have too much faith in people's capacity for reason.

I have found two particular studies to be quite interesting:

In a highly cited article from 2001, psychologist Jonathan Haidt made the claim that the arguments people put forward to defend their positions are often not deeply held; they are simply tools to justify a particular sentiment. If an argument is defeated, people will then often simply shift to another argument in order to defend the same position, rather than actually re-examine their position.

And recently, Mercier & Sperber (2011) introduced the concept of "The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning", arguing that people's reasoning capabilities have evolved for the purpose of winning arguments, not for arriving at the truth.

Sources:
Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: a social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological review, 108(4), 814.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11699120
http://www3.nd.edu/~wcarbona/Haidt%202001.pdf

Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2011). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and brain sciences, 34(02), 57-74.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21447233
http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00 ... reason.pdf

The scientific community has attempted to safeguard itself against such faulty reasoning by advocating suspension of judgement (and more specifically by peer review of scientific findings), but the same faulty reasoning which prevents a lot of people from taking a scientific approach themselves might also drive them to ignore or disregard the scientific findings of others. After all, it is rare that a discussion about a controversial political subject on WP (or anywhere else, for that matter) start out with: "Well, I just reviewed the last 20 years of scientific studies on [X], and taking into account both the findings from the scientific literature and their limitations, I believe that [Y] would be the best course of action."



luanqibazao
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30 Aug 2014, 10:15 am

More crap science.

My opinion on how the economy is doing (say) is not an emotion-based assumption (I dislike Obama, therefore it must be doing badly?) and it certainly isn't based on seeing a single chart or graph. It's based on hundreds of charts, graphs, articles, personal observations, and anecdotal evidence from people I know, over the course of years. So it's not mere emotionalism for me to retain my opinion in the face of a single graph which seems to contradict it. In fact it would be irrational for me to change my mind on the spot like that. Far more likely that a single graph is faked, or slanted, or based on cherry-picked data.

Now, the fact that many people do not reason well is not news. However, that does not justify making generalizations about "how the mind works."



TallyMan
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30 Aug 2014, 10:31 am

luanqibazao wrote:
Now, the fact that many people do not reason well is not news. However, that does not justify making generalizations about "how the mind works."


Didn't you read the bit about how the identical data when used regarding hand cream was treated differently when applied to politics? In the first case people were doing the math correctly and in the second they weren't. They were disregarding the facts in front of them in favour of their emotional response.


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luanqibazao
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30 Aug 2014, 12:23 pm

TallyMan wrote:
Didn't you read the bit about how the identical data when used regarding hand cream was treated differently when applied to politics? In the first case people were doing the math correctly and in the second they weren't. They were disregarding the facts in front of them in favour of their emotional response.


You are missing my point. They had no opinion of the hand cream going in, and could form an opinion de novo. That's quite different from being presented with alleged facts which challenge a firmly-held opinion, an opinion which may be based 100% on reason.

Stage magicians routinely perform feats which I can't explain. I'm certain, though, that these are illusions, and they don't really have the power to make objects disappear and reappear.



0_equals_true
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30 Aug 2014, 2:17 pm

I really can't stand people who constantly bang on about how "logical" they are.

I rarely agree. I find that have "base logic" as in they cannot do multiple/many levels of deduction, and tend to form an opinion very early. All that tell you that they have quite concrete and often absolute views. This I not necessarily a good model of reality.

As a hyper-analytical person, the idea that I am most logical is problematic. Logic is a tool, but even the most brilliant still have to break out of deductive layers to form a conclusions. Strangling neurologically is the type of brain often associated with illogical/subjective/creative thinking that regulates this. The skill is being though enough, and knowing when it ti right time to do it. Being hyper-analytical is sometimes quite neurotic, so I have to keep it in check keep my priorities straight.

Btw I don't really find these findings depressing.



ZenDen
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30 Aug 2014, 3:05 pm

Would anyone else venture a guess that it's more logical to think this particular trait might be more common amongst NTs than aspies?

I'm guessing aspies were not deliberately chosen for this study.

I hope this isn't exhibiting a deeply held prejudice. :D



seaturtleisland
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30 Aug 2014, 3:42 pm

ZenDen wrote:
Would anyone else venture a guess that it's more logical to think this particular trait might be more common amongst NTs than aspies?

I'm guessing aspies were not deliberately chosen for this study.

I hope this isn't exhibiting a deeply held prejudice. :D


That sounds like an Aspie stereotype to me. It could be a common trait that doesn't apply to everyone. AS doesn't make me any more logical than a NT.



Sweetleaf
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30 Aug 2014, 4:15 pm

I don't know I have changed certain views on things due to being presented with evidence I was wrong....or being open minded enough to realize perhaps there is a better idea or way of thinking about something. So not sure this article is true of all people, there are some people that are very stuck in beliefs and will flat out refuse to be convinced otherwise....others not so much.


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naturalplastic
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30 Aug 2014, 4:15 pm

ZenDen wrote:
Would anyone else venture a guess that it's more logical to think this particular trait might be more common amongst NTs than aspies?

I'm guessing aspies were not deliberately chosen for this study.

I hope this isn't exhibiting a deeply held prejudice. :D



Abandon all "hope"!

Lol!



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30 Aug 2014, 5:23 pm

I think Damasio's been writing about this stuff forever.

I think actually scientists are some of the worst about this -- they've got this self-conception that has RATIONAL all over it, but in fact they're trained to apply reason only to some pretty well-defined kinds of problems, and even then they're not always so hot at it. But they see themselves as Eminently Reasonable People and either don't see or can't admit it when they're being kneejerk flakes with ideas from space or lifestyle magazines or whatever. I've also never seen people so ready to shoot from the hip and then claim that they've made extremely reasonable and well-supported arguments. And the thing is they drive each other nuts with this, too, because they don't really listen to each other and then make judgements about each others' work. Crazy stuff.



aghogday
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30 Aug 2014, 10:23 pm

Of course nothing new in the findings here; patients with brain injury leading to little or no emotion cannot even decide what kind of socks to wear for the day when more than one color is presented.

Emotion is the glue of memory, and part of why individuals with greater than average dopamine levels may do better on tests but also suffer from greater anxiety levels, overall.

But one thing I do know is this, the human being has incredible ability to control emotion given enough time spent alone with one's emotions and the nuanced cognitive behavioral self therapy that has little to do with language.

Sorry that's vague, but again the beast is in the issue, and the issue cannot be controlled or fully expressed, with language alone.

There are viewpoints that the advanced Yogi is in effect and affect a psychopath as they have the will and control to turn emotions on and off.

But as long as they do not harm others, it keeps in the mold of the social norm, for the most part and without the potential of diagnosis for the actual sociopathy label as such.

Yes, as part of a medical disorder I did lose much of my emotion, and it was hard to find an oatmeal and an oatmeal bowl in the kitchen cabinet; executive function is yes, severely compromised, when this happens.

But with my emotions back in full swing now, my memory is as good as I ever remember it being; if that can be any objective measure, for off and on emotions in one life.

I think the most depressing news of all, is people who have lost their emotions, have little control over their life, except for self injury for the numbness that can occur in a life with this condition, one of the most horrible of life's challenges.

Alexithymia is measured out in scientific studies among 85% of individuals diagnosed with so called higher functioning Autism, and it is suggested that too much emotion, as would likely be the case for someone that starts out super smart by doing well on tests that require great rote memory, finally shuts down, as the emotional contagion of the world becomes too much for them, which is likely part of the case with me, in my past challenges with emotional affect and effect.

But when one loses their emotions the memories go fast, until emotions come back again; at one point I could not remember what a smile or laugh felt like for almost 5 long years, and now enjoy laughter and smiles everyday.

Life is interesting, but no, not very interesting to me, when emotions do not run strong and free; considering both worlds in one lifetime for me.

For the most part I can control my emotions, but yes I am still only human, and of course they play a role in every decision I make; humans, if not able to use emotions for snap decisions in life or death situations, will not last long, in the real wild of the world.

It's a survival mechanism, plain and simple, and no, no surprise and certainly not a depressing issue for me, as I see the human condition with this obvious gift, overall, farther away from flaw.

And why I always consider the source, when someone makes no sense to me as they let their emotions rule their decisions, in such a way that never affects or effects me; but that is life; live and learn or stay the same, rigid, never growing person; that is up to us, and most people can adjust given time alone with will, focus, and positive intention for change.


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ZenDen
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31 Aug 2014, 1:03 am

Ectryon wrote:
Kids need to be taught early on how to make rational judgements. I try to make reason based decisions leaving emotion out of the equation because i've seen and learnt what that leads to. My personal life experience is what has made me challenge my decisions and evaluate my actions for signs of emotionalism. The problem is that the dominant culture is governed by emotion and media outlets propogate this.


As we used to say: "Totally."

I learned recently (sorry no link) there is a direct correlation between the expression of intelligence and stress factors in children as they grow.

So a child of higher intelligence will not thrive in a culture of high stress.....as though you stripped away IQ points..