"Kahan’s argument about the woman who does not believe in global warming is a surprising and persuasive example of a general principle: if we want to understand others, we can always ask what is making their behaviour ‘rational’ from their point of view. If, on the other hand, we just assume they are irrational, no … Continue reading Bias: it’s not a bug, it’s a feature
When people don't accept the scientific evidence, it may be useless to present them with yet more evidence. They are not stupid. They are simply protecting their cultural identity. Here's the journalism: Science confirms: politics wrecks your ability to do math And here's the original study, Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government Kahan, Dan M., Peters, … Continue reading How cultural commitments damage your ability to reason
"Science Confirms The Obvious: Strict Parents Raise Conservative Kids" - http://pulse.me/s/eC9fb If so, would it be possible to conduct similar experiments to test whether parents with a particularly strong cultural bias raise their children to have a similar bias? So, for example, do Fatalist parents raise Fatalist kids? My guess here is that the social … Continue reading Apparently, “Science Confirms The Obvious: Strict Parents Raise Conservative Kids”
http://www.columbia.edu/~tdp4/recentpub.html Recent Publications from the journal of consumer research. Michel Tuan Phan and colleagues have been writing some interesting articles on the ways in which we use our feelings as information. Interesting not least because I want to ask where those feelings came from in the first place.
Every salesperson has learnt that you don’t sell the sausage, you sell the sizzle. Sizzle: “the desirable, tempting and enticing sounds and aroma that convince you to eat what is basically a dead pig.” Sausages are only the start, of course. Wouldn’t you love more time? This new dishwasher will give you what you want! … Continue reading Selling the Sizzle
Margaret Heffernan has written a book on willful blindness [excerpt] and there's a great article in New Statesman. Here's just one of the telling quotations Heffernan uses to illustrate her case. It comes from the economist Paul Krugmann, speaking of the blind spots in his own economic modelling: "I think there's a pretty good case … Continue reading Willful Blindness
Everyone loves a quiz and Psychology Today magazine has a cultural cognition quiz for you, courtesy of David Ropeik. Roepik is the author of How Risky is it, Really? Why our fears don't always match the facts. His website offers exerpts from the book and -wait for it - more quizzes! While you're here, though, … Continue reading Everyone loves a quiz
Matthew Taylor of the RSA sometimes writes about cultural theory and when he does it's always worth reflecting on. At the very end of 2009 he was looking at the idea of free will: Faced with a social choice we can do what we want or feels right for us (individualistic impulse), do what the … Continue reading Do we have free will?
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
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