[Warning: this post is LONG.] On first glance the homo hypocritus hypothesis, that humans had huge heads to subtly evade social norms while pretending to enforce them, seems supported by our love of privacy. The argument “Why oppose transparency unless you have something to hide?” suggests we are private to evade norm enforcement. To explore this issue, I pondered Thomas Nagel’s famous ’98
I agree with this; I value my privacy extremely highly not because I would punish/ostracize them if I caught someone else doing them, but because other people may be, from my perspective, completely unreasonable, and I don't want to risk them punishing-ostracizing me for the crime of being perfectly decent. It's the same reason one approaches religion and politics delicately in polite conversation.
That's because it fosters too much instability. But if you have an implicit hypocrisy (usually not entirely a conscious one) where everyone is on roughly the same page, then it can be quite stable - just like flattering someone without any intention that they should beleive you mean it.
First, Robin, thanks for the link on falsification vs. other criteria.
Second, your stage discussion made me think of Julian Jaynes's bicameral mind conjecture. As I read it your stages were:
1. Social strategies, but no social norms2. Innovation! Social norms effective.3. Brains evolve to undercut some social norm effectivness.
Seems like (2) would be a very alien looking society. Do you know of any animals or human cultures that are in the (2) stage?
Robin should have done Jess Riedel's rephrasing and applied it to his theory rather than just making a point about the extreme Popperian view of falsifiability. Alleged is probably not a philosopher wedded to some view of epistemology but picked up on Popper because it sounded like common sense or the school-taught version of the scientific method.
Robin stated his allegiance to Quine on justifying one's beliefs here.
Jess Riedel, the best version of the world-where-hypothesis-is-true argument I've heard is Eliezer Yudkowsky's Make Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences).
Since you're explaining how academia does things, you should also share, if only for consistency, academics' universal revulsion for Wikipedia I've been unpersuaded by the argument that Wikipedia will inevitably get treated as authoritative, and in the end do more damage than good, but perhaps I should reconsider. Wikipedia is decidedly not an authority capable of resolving a disagreement about how scientists and philosophers of science explain induction!
If you follow the footnote, moreover, you'll see that the "paraphrased" language divides philosophers of science into three groups: at one extreme the Bayesians, in the middle philosophers who say we really don't understand induction, and finally, those who say induction can't deliver what it promises. The final position describes Popperian falsificationists. I have no idea where the Wikipedia author gets "probabilistic induction," which in fact everyone rejects since Goodman shattered it with his grue paradox. It's true almost everyone rejects Popper, but decidedly not because of any belief that potential falsification is necessary for a scientific theory. Only the Bayesian minority thinks that, and their position has been definitively shown incapable of accounting for induction. The reason everyone rejects Popper, I repeat, is not that he regards potential falsification as a necessary condition; everyone does if you broaden the concept to accommodate the Bayesians (as one poster immediately proposed). The reason everyone rejects Popper is he denies the possibility of verification. Essentially, everyone thinks falsifiability (or at least impugnability to accommodate Bayesians) is a necessary condition for a scientific theory. Where they differ is whether surviving falsification attempts verifies the theory.
You just read the theory, did you not? You are aware of its content. At this point, presumably you should be able to judge for yourself whether it is falsifiable.
As to whether there exists any information that would cause RHanson to reject this theory - what does that matter? He's delivered the content to you. You have it now. RHanson's psychological quirks, whatever they might be, such as what he would or would not accept as contrary evidence, are not of any special relevance to the theory he has communicated. Why not ask yourself if there exists any information that would cause you to reject the theory?
Privacy is different from the usual Homo hypocritus model. Usually you're using the hypocritus model for situations where there is active deception (either of self or other). Privacy is a social convention where everybody pretty much knows what is going on but chooses to ignore it or at least not to investigate. Often the issues are "open secrets" where lots of people know but nobody wants to do anything. It's more a matter of what actions to take on information than access to the information itself.
I think the desire for privacy is motivated as a means of dealing with inadequate or inappropriate social norms, especially with complicated situations. Take sexual monogamy as an example. Most people accept there are some situations where formal infidelity is tolerable or at least not deserving of extreme sanctions. At the same time, most people value fidelity and want to enforce it.
Trying to come up with rules to separate out the situations where infidelity is OK and when it is not is very complicated. Open relationships often have very elaborate rules for outside sex. Worse, they tend to be very idiosyncratic, so revising social rules would be exponentially more complex.
Privacy allows everybody to deal with situations where rules are needed but creating near-perfect rules is impractical. When the rules seem inappropriate, involved parties just keep things private and nobody has to figure out how to modify or apply rules. Someone who thinks the rules should be applied can always publicize, but the public may punish the tattler as well if dealing with the transgression is too complex or costly.
"Alleged, falsification just isn’t how most of academia works, nor should it be."
The misguidedness of Popperian falsificationism doesn't excuse avoiding considering any evidence that might, in fact, refute one's theory.
Consider why odious regimes have always encouraged, even compelled, citizens to report others, including their parents and siblings, not to speak of neighbors. One reason we acknowledge privacy rights is most of us don't want a society where people are constantly reporting each other to the authorities. I live in a county where people are constantly calling the cops on their neighbor; it's not a pretty picture.
So it is the survival of the sneakiest? I read about the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalists( right wing) lied repeatedly to obtain surrender of opponents,then murdered them all. The Republicans eventually were controlled by Stalin's agents who were big time liars and manipulators. These low trust regimes are now no longer here. Pure dirty dealing does not always pay.
Robert: From what I can tell, he's making pretty straightforward cause-and-effect claims. It's not a template for understanding, it's "the primary reason humans developed large brains is because of X". As in, if X were nullified, they would not have developed such brains.
I'm not a philosophy of science expert, but my understanding is that falsifiability, while an imperfect description of science, still get's at the heart of the matter; you need to be able to distinguish worlds where your hypothesis is true, and worlds where it is false. A great friend of mine put it this way: If you could control the truth of your hypothesis with a light switch, would you see anything change by flicking the light switch on and off?
(Sorry that this got way out on a tangent.)
I may be off-base, but it seems to me that Robin's point in citing the above Wikipedia link may be that even if the homo-hypocritus hypothesis may not be strictly falsifiable, it can still be a useful template for understanding and/or discussing our evolution.
I'll rephrase for Alleged: what possible, new, feasible experiments are there which would find evidence for or against your theory? If there are none, can your really assign much confidence at all that you are correct based on the already-collected data and given the very large space of theories which are of roughly the same complexity as yours?
"Among the professional philosophers of science, the Popperian view has never been seriously preferred to probabilistic induction, which is the mainstream account of scientific reasoning" (more)
I think Robin meant Bayesian.
if your theory on homo hyprocritus is scientific then there should be a set of possibilities that, if true, would disprove the theory. otherwise it's closer to a faith-based religion. example: a precambrian rabbit would destroy the theory of evolution