Implausibility of Objectivity


Jonathan Haidt is creating new waves in the blogosphere. In his public provocative talk he suggested that social psychology is politically biased against conservatives. Despite of the fact that the claim has created some emotional consequences among both liberal and conservative camps, it does not seem to be far from reality. The main objections concern the reasons and mechanisms.  SelfAwarePatterns refers to a great article by Maria Konnikova, giving even more examples of science being politically-, institutionally- and even gender-biased. Good to have some more examples for the implausibility of objectivity and tribal nature of convictions that we’ve highlighted in some of our own articles. Social psychology is not more biased than any other science.

Split-brain and the Unnecessity of Consciousness for “Conscious” Behaviour

In this article we will discuss the observations done in some experiments with split-brain patients. Specifically we will consider two kinds of neurological experiments and their impact on our understanding of consciousness. The first experiment you can see here:

People who have had their corpus callosum cut are said to have a split-brain. The corpus callosum is the part of the brain which allows the two hemispheres of the brain, the left and the right, to communicate; to send signals to each other. Thus, when the corpus callosum is cut, the two hemispheres cannot communicate – meaning that the left does not “know” what the right does and vice versa. Continue reading

What is wrong with religion?

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It is often claimed that people are religious because they fear death and/or the idea of eternal bliss and salvation sounds so tempting. If one is religious only because it puts oneself in a much better position (one imagines), why believe in a religion that puts so many restrictions on one’s own and others’ life? Why believe in a religion that condemns others? In particular, why believe in a religion that makes one not only feel guilt for one’s thoughts and actions, but also fear that either oneself or those one is close will be condemned by God? If religions are made for personal justification and comfort, then they are quite poorly constructed. If humans believe largely for personal reasons, then why does most religions say so much about everyone else?

A Defence of Philosophy

Today’s philosophy deserves to be criticized, ascience-and-religionnd good that it is. The problem is that when criticizing philosophy one usually defends science or religion. The same holds for the other parts of science-religion-philosophy triangle. Nice to see that someone finally seems to criticize all three of them.

Although it would be interesting to listen to the arguments why the platonic ethical intuitions are less consistent than the Bertrand Russell’s atheism.

A Philosopher's Take

There is a very nice article/interview in the Observer with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein about her latest book Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, in which philosophy is defended very well. I particularly like the characterization of philosophy as `increasing coherence.’  I would very much like to see what people have to say about this, so I will try to keep up with the comments.

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Facts (and Minds) are Stubborn Things

Our brain is a brilliant lier: A nice bunch of examples illustrating the gap between our opinions and our consciousness.

See the original article!

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Above the Market

When making his defense of some British soldiers during the Boston Massacre trials in December of 1770, John Adams (later the second President of the United States) offered a famous insight. “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Legal Papers of John Adams, 3:269. In a similar vein, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that “[e]veryone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

I have often warned about our proclivity to and preference for stories to the exclusion of data (for example, here, here and here). Because stories are so powerful, we want the facts to be neatly packaged into a compelling narrative. Take a look at John Boswell‘s delightful send-up of this technique in the TED context below.

We crave “wonder, insight [and] ideas.” Facts?

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Today is our anniversary!


One year ago we started to post our QUIZ which contained 31 simple and naïve, sensible and absolutely senseless questions.

Back then we thought that wisdom lies somewhere on the way between question and answer. And we still think so.

We invite our readers to solve the quiz and remind that the best replies, comments and discussions will be published on the main page with the names of their authors.

Thank you for all your comments that are made and are still to be made!


Do not Imagine All the People…

Our studies and discussions of humanity and all that is related – our societies, cultures, beliefs – are full of assumptions. When the mathematician states “assuming X is true, then Y holds”  he, or perhaps I should say she in our age, is very aware that “X” is not necessarily true, and if it is not then one cannot guarantee the statement. However, when we speak about each other and our societies the assumptions are left unstated and take the form of convictions.

Continue reading