Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thesis Comments

OK, everyone, I had a bad night and a worse day. I tried to get off Bentyl yesterday and ended up forced to take a late night dose when my guts refused to cooperate. So I'm going to cheat a little today. Bobby, I'm posting my slightly edited responses to your thesis. It would be clearer with the thesis added, so, if you can, and if you wish, please post a link to it in comments. If you don't want to, no problem! My comments can stand alone, but lack depth. If anyone else is reading this, Bobby's thesis is engaging and well worth reading.

And so:


Notes for Bobby

What I'm going to do, Bobby, is just make recordings here on Dragon as I read your paper. That means it'll be rather chaotic, but consider it an going one-sided conversation.  I'll make comments in the middle or at the end of each page, not reading ahead.

Page 1

On the marketplace of ideas. It seems to me that conservatives frequently refer to the benefits of the marketplace as benefits which accrue because of what is, after all, a form of natural selection! Considering their enmity towards science and most particularly toward the theory of natural selection this is quite remarkable! Indeed, if taken at face level as they themselves present it, this suggests a literal state of anarchy. 
It can only be accurately descrdined as Social Darwinism.  Darwin hated social Darwinism, but the zealots have seized upon it since the days of the Monkey Trial to condemn the unrelated science.  It was Spenser who created the  actual social movement BEFORE Darwin's theory of natural selection was  created.  He simply  coopted the science to support his already declared twisted view of human nature-- a view utilized by William Jeenings Bryan, Hayek, Ayn Rand, the GOP, Reagan, Thatcher, the Tea Party, etc. to attack the unrelated science. So they utterly hate Social Dawinism, but desperately want it adopted as our economic and health care systems. I mist say again, considering their devotion to law and order, to anti Dawinism, and supposedly, to Jesus, this is quite  a strange position for them to take.

Page 2

If we accept market demand as an essential ingredient, it also occurs to me that means that the free market says we should certainly totally legalize drugs as well.  The market demand is there isn't it? 

Page 5

Do individuals really value truth over falsehood? We all say we do, but I seriously to question whether this is in fact.

Page 6

This all reminds me of the theory that everyone acts rationally in the marketplace, therefore you should simply carefully calculate these rational human responses and you will be a great success. The group which practiced this were referred to as quants, or quantifiers,  on Wall Street. They are the people who destroyed our economy with their foolish misunderstanding of human nature. 

Page 7

The independent media? You mean like FOXNews? Rigorous, disinterested; I wonder where you can find things like that? 

The rational public? A very tiny minority. 

The most fundamental problem of the whole free-market concept is that the free market sells what people want to buy. On what basis do all these academics assume that people want to buy facts or accurate information? What people want to buy is  reassurance, comfort. excitement, and emotional highs. They don't want facts. That's the last thing on their agenda.

Page 8

I can't help but make a contrast between the situation in World War II in which FDR was forced to attempt to convince the American people that the danger was real and that keeping our national head in the sand would not make the scary Nazis go away and the Iraq war in which the majority of the American people supported the war which was clearly and obviously going to be a complete disaster. Clearly, the power of the president is at once vast and almost nonexistent depending upon many other circumstances. FDR faced the problem that Americans felt cheated and tricked into World War I and therefore we're about to be tricked again whereas Bush had the advantage of having had 9:11.

The public seeks accurate information? No, they don't. At no point in the process do the great majority of the people seek accurate information. That is simply a baseless concept. You might just as well say that people going to the local drug dealer are seeking a nice safe medication to cure their illnesses. The so-called news media today or more in line with sports events than a history class. People watching football may display concern about facts in regard to statistics but only to support their team.. People watch the news for the same reason they watch the Superbowl -- emotion. They seek excitement and pleasure from watching their team win and the other team lose.

Page 9
At the top of the pager making my point. If we assume the public really wants accurate information than all the rest follows. But of course they don't.

Excellent! I was beginning to get a little bit worried about you. 

Page 11

The psychological disciplines are finally ceasing to be a fantasy of individual researchers and becoming a real science.  NOTE :  I said, beginning to...

Page 12

Perhaps the most primal function of reasoning was to understand other's motives in a complex social group. How do I protect myself? How do I cheat and get away with it? How do I keep others cheating me? 

Page 13

Speaking of mental maps, it is also beneficial to be able to understand the seasons in order to know where to go exploit available resources. Exploiting seafood seasonally makes an excellent example -- Neanderthals in one area did not, modern humans in the same area did.

Page 14

Bottom of the page-and there's the research that nails it. Emotions are fundamental, reasoning is an add on.

PAge 15

S1and S2--Thing one and Thing 2. Not a cat in 
hat in sight!  Excellent idea!  It strikes me, on an intuitive level, that S1correct

But, in terms with which you should be familiar, having listened to me for a few years now, S1 is the cognitive autopilot while S-2 is the copilot whose function is to make certain that the pilot knows what he's doing and where is going. . 

Page 16

In other words thinking is hard work.

Page 17

A pre-constructed mental space--love that.

Page 18

And this makes me think of the individual whose name escapes me, who makes millions of dollars by convincing people to do the wrong thing simply by changing the terms used. The most classic case. of course, this changing the name of the inheritance tax to death tax. Everybody hates taxing death, so what is actually an inheritance tax, aka just an  income tax, becomes a horror show plot.

Page 19

This is interesting in relationship to the problems with patients who have damage to one side of the brain or a severed corpus callosum impeding communication between the two halves of the brain. You're probably familiar with the classic case in which an individual is shown pictures and then asked to choose the tool appropriate to handle the problem shown in the pictures. An individual whose nonverbal side of the brain sees a picture of a snowy driveway picks a snow shovel, even though the other side of his brain sees a picture of a broken window ( not the actual example) But the verbal side of his brain didn't see that picture and so generates elaborate and very confusing rationalizations for choosing a snow shovel.

Page 20

Illusion of objectivity-– and that explains creation science.
Which is a more scientific and documented way of saying what I say quite often-man can reason but most often man rationalizes. A biologist might say man is a faculative reasoner and an obligate rationalizer.

page 21

Rather sanguine indeed . I don't want sound like Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut but I think that's overstating the case and being too generous to us hairless apes. The human brain is always making compromises, taking shortcuts, and constructing a sense of reality. It actually does this surprisingly well, but not as well as that statement would indicate.  Evolution makes do with the raw material it has on hand, human reasoning could be much better designed.

Page 22

This is why it's so important for us to choose carefully with whom we intimately associate. It especially is important for us to choose carefully whom we except as a leader, or former of opinions.

Page 23, 24

In other words, the Greeks' cherished belief, and subsequent Western thought, is mostly wishful thinking in regards to man the rational animal.

Page 26

Well said! Well written.

Page 27

The first paragraph-Obama seems to be finally beginning to realize this.  He was the penultimate rational man.  In an irrational world, he was I'm trouble.  Reminds me of me and the school board...long story

Page 31

Not much to say about the preceding pages. Making the case well, describing the attitudes of others well.  I'm glad to see you moving toward pointing out the flaws of some researchers inherent assumptions. Too many people think far too highly of human capacity and desire to be accurate and factual. Ask anyone in high school, belonging and fitting into the right group are much more important than facts or even reality itself.

Page 32

Interesting point! I hadn't realized the lack of correlation between the WMD deceits and and support for the war.

Page 34

Trusted elite cues, exactly the point. We are a species of followers. If we ceased being that we would cease being human. We're not a flock of sheep as so many writers have suggested-we are a troop of apes. But that doesn't mean we don't follow our leader.

Page 35

A sad, but accurate view of human nature. You're hinting at some hope on the next page. Well I hope so!

Page 40

It sounds good. But I think the likelihood that ever happening is vanishingly small. It was only government regulation, agreed upon by both sides in a bipartisan  manner, that prevented this current state of affairs until Ronald Reagan gutted the regulatory process, allowing the wealthy to poison the news media.  See my quote from Fukuyama on the entrenchment of the rich.

Page 41

But Americans strongly tend not to vote. I think our greatest hope lies in movements like the occupy movement. Unfortunately, such movements arise only at moments of desperation. We let the system go corrupt and practically fall apart, then desperately repair it, only to watch it descend into  corruption all over again. Not a very hopeful view, on the other hand it is a view that allows for the system to continue to survive and function, if poorly.  Still, reforms are hard to  undo.  From Reagan on the Right has attempted to undo FDR's  legacy, and failed.  Blacks are not likely to be reenslaved, etc.

Plurality of outlets. Yes, exactly. But that's what we've lost. We need to reregulate the media.  A guest on Bill Moyers tonight mentioned a book by another author who referred to the free enterprise system as a garden. A garden is not simply allowed grow or die depending whatever happens. It isn't just planted and abandoned.  It is regulated, controlled, watched, watered, weeded, nurtured, et cetera.

An excellent paper. The opening was heavy on data and jargon, unavoidable in the scholarly medium.  Once through that obligatory groundwork, you made your case smoothly and convincingly.  I find your conclusion overly hopeful, but very defensible.

Thanks for sharing!  I enjoyed.


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