I’m not nearly as far gone as Robin on the idea that social status is the predominant human motivation, but here is a pretty powerful example from an interview with British journalist Rose George about her new
People care more about opinions and judgments, either their own or other people's, than objective, impersonal reality.
Possibly one of the few things that can induce people to care about reality is other people claiming to care about reality.
That suggests that a good way to get people to be rational is to immerse them in social environments in which irrationality is scorned and rationality praised.
Depressing. If this is true, then it means that media manipulation/mass cultural programming/manufacturing desire are really the powerful tools that they unfortunately seem to be.
"Don't do this because it'll keep you healthy, do it because you can be cooler than you neighbor!!!"
This is not surprising to me at all. Everywhere I look, I see people doing things that they know are not the rational thing to do.
"To us, reality/cause and effect are very real." Are they? Who taught us? How did we learn?
As a teenager I made up analogue electronic circuits for music synthesis and would spend hours soldering operational amplifiers, resistors, diodes and capacitors onto Vero-board and hours more getting the circuits to work. Debugging analogue circuits is a cereberal activity. You cannot see anything. You measure voltages with a meter. You break circuits and measure currents with a meter. You try to deduce what is going on using V=IR. The lawful universe of cause and effect becomes real to the tinkerer through long-duration immersion in the experience.
Looking around at other Western adults I see a political realm. Politicians focus on persuading others of the merits of their policies and seen content with success. I see little awareness that persuasion is only half of the problem; if the policies are wrong they still will not work. There are sophisticated theories for the blindess of politicians to cause and effect.
Well, maybe. I still worry that the modern West is largely pre-scientific because most young people never have the relevant life experiences and never "get it". Kahnemans planning anecdote sticks in my memory both for its exposition of the difference between the inside view and the outside view but also for the suggestion that attempts to teach critical thinking are the grave-yard of dreams.
Roko is absolutely right - the intuitive sense of disgust (and it's opposite, purity) is quite well correlated with disease vectors. It's not at all surprising that appeals to intuition are more effective than bringing up health and sanitation in the abstract.
Kudos to Robin Hanson. I too wasn't quite sold on his "X isn't about Xness" program, but I find this article shocking. Yes, we can be really lazy when the stakes are high; I suppose it's an artifact of our huge reliance on sub-conscious behaviors learned in our EEA. Speaking of which, I should be getting back to work and off the blogsphere...
"Doctors who smoke?" I don't think she's getting deep enough in to their heads.
To us, reality/cause and effect are very real. People's opinions matter, but someone's opinion can not override cause and effect. But this is a post-discovery of science cultural mindset.
Pre-science, did opinions seem more concrete and real to us than cause and effect, which was just so much hot air? Alien way of thinking, hard to imagine. But possible?
Roga: Ugliness and disease are correlated, but large numbers of people target the appearance rather than the actual disease.
To see that this is the case, contemplate why huge numbers of women will go on a diet, but will not do strength training since they don't want to get "too big" (i.e., they want to avoid muscular shoulders and back).
>The technique is to make people stand there and confront it, to not be able >to turn away from the fact that they're shitting in the open, and that >their kids are tramping it back into the village, and that they're all >eating it.
*Insert snappy comment about people who are openly religious.*
Perhaps ugliness and disease are correlated?
> That's pretty damn amazing: the fact that it will keep your kid> from getting sick doesn't convince people, but making a latrine> an aspirational item will.
I'm not surprised: people in USA and Europe try to stay fit not because obesity is correlated with diseases, but mainly because fat people are considered ugly.