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Irrationality 9,10,11: Drive and Emotion, Ignoring the Evidence, Distorting the Evidence

01/22/2013

Chapter 9: Drive and Emotion

Roughly speaking, emotion is a disposition to act and think in a particular way, combined with certain feelings (1703).

In fact, reward does facilitate performance on very easy tasks but impairs it on more difficult ones (1729).

moral
1. Don’t take important decisions when under stress or strong emotion.
2. If you are a teacher, don’t set multiple choice questions; encourage the formation of general principles in your pupils. 3. Remember that every time you subdue an impulse it becomes easier to do so again.
4. If bored, restrain your impulse for excitement, particularly if you are piloting an aircraft.
5. Ask yourself whether the benefits of jogging and low-fat yogurt are really worth the misery (1873).

Chapter 10: Ignoring the Evidence

I’ll bet this is one of the more important things to keep in mind for anyone trying to figure out the truth. I’d wager that almost everyone reads mostly things they agree with (liberal atheists are always sharing from HuffPo. . . and of course there’s Fox News). Such is the importance of the UTSC, and being able to point to exactly what would falsify one’s beliefs, and actively looking for it. Does it need to be half and half though? At some point, it would be nice to sit comfortably with a high degree of certainty in your rightness. How much young earth creationism do we need to read before we can dismiss it as almost certainly false?

Anyone who has made a decision is usually extremely reluctant to change it, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is wrong (1883).

Both of these ingenious experiments suggest that people tend to seek confirmation of their current hypothesis, whereas they should be trying to disconfirm it: although it is impossible ever to prove a rule with certainty, a single discrepant observation refutes it (1989).

moral
1. Search for evidence against your own beliefs.
2. Try to entertain hypotheses that are antagonistic to one another.
3. Be particularly careful to take into account anything that conflicts with your beliefs.
4. Remember nobody is always right, though some people are always wrong (2048).

Chapter 11: Distorting the Evidence

moral 1.
Don’t distort new evidence: consider carefully whether it could be interpreted as disconfirming your beliefs rather than supporting them.
2.   Be wary of your memory: you are likely to recall whatever fits with your current views.
3.   Remember that changing your mind in the light of new evidence is a sign of strength not weakness.
4.   Beware of being influenced by any explanations you may have concocted in support of your own beliefs.
5.   Don’t adopt the Greek system of ignoring bad tidings by killing the messenger – or sending him on sick leave (2205).

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