Behavioural psychologist Dan Ariely’s interesting website has a question about why we seem to care so much about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, when we don’t seem to care as much about other big environmental disasters such as the ongoing destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. Some good points are raised, including some fairly obvious … Continue reading BP Oil Spill – why we care
It’s OK if you don’t know everything
"We rarely know an explicit formula that tells us what to do in a complex situation. We have to work out what to do by thinking through the possibilities in ways that are simultaneously imaginative and realistic, and not less imaginative when more realistic. Knowledge, far from limiting imagination, enables it to serve its central … Continue reading It’s OK if you don’t know everything
Is God a blank slate?
Dan Ariely, behavioural psychologist, reports on research that concludes that we select our view of God’s opinions to fit with our own. It seems that as our own opinions change so does our description of God’s opinions. The conclusion then is that God is a blank slate, onto which we project our opinions. “Overall these … Continue reading Is God a blank slate?
Which of my identities takes precedence?
Mort recently asked the following: Where does cultural cognition reside?Is it within the individual or their cultural environ – the social assumptions and influences that we are surrounded by? Which of my identities takes precedence, me the autonomous decision maker, or me the social role? Thanks for reading and for your encouragement Mort. I think … Continue reading Which of my identities takes precedence?
Do genes drive culture? New developments in culture-gene coevolutionary theory
A recently published research paper lends support to the idea that genes and culture influence one another mutually, effectively co-evolving. A link has been proposed between the collectivism-individualism scale of national cultures and a gene that affects the supply of seratonin to the body, the seratonin transporter gene 5-HTTLPR. A media-friendly summary of the research … Continue reading Do genes drive culture? New developments in culture-gene coevolutionary theory
The beetroot lesson – the politics of disgust
Martha Nussbaum has recently written a second book on the connections between visceral feelings of disgust and more abstract responses of indignation. As one commentator put it: ‘disgust can’t be reasoned with. Logical arguments do not make spoiled milk smell better.’ [Image: Darwin Bell] I think this is precisely wrong. As a child I hated … Continue reading The beetroot lesson – the politics of disgust
Two kinds of tales, one true and one false
More on truth and lies: 'There are two kinds of tales, one true and one false,' Socrates claims in Plato's Republic (trans A.D. Lindsay, 1935, London: Dent, p. 376). ‘The depth of consciousness created by the exercise of the arts of deception is the first arena for the practice of that dissimulation proper to the … Continue reading Two kinds of tales, one true and one false
Truth and Lies
Research such as this, exposing just how much we lie, surely calls into question Jurgen Habermas's idea that speech is fundamentally oriented towards truth- telling. Habermas seems to claim that truth precedes falsehood in the sense that lying can only take place against a background assumption of truth. In other words, we only lie with … Continue reading Truth and Lies
Chaos theory and fourcultures
More on Chaos theory, evolution and fourcultures. Meika recently posted a piece about brain research, bias and chaos theory. And DK asked: How does chaos complicate or enrich evolutionary theory in biology? How does the nonlinearity that chaos features interact with mutation/drift/natural selection? Is there a canonical text (or at least something authoritative & comprehensive) … Continue reading Chaos theory and fourcultures
East meets West: are there just two cultures?
New Scientist has an article by Ed Yong on the dichotomy between eastern and western thought. But there are more than two alternatives (western/individualist/analytic vs eastern/collective/holistic)... Grid-group cultural theory, developed by anthropologist Mary Douglas and others, suggests there are four universal cultural biases, Individualist, Hierachist, Egalitarian and Fatalist. Researchers using this methodology have conducted numerous … Continue reading East meets West: are there just two cultures?