Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

Good article.

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

January 1, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Why bullshit is no laughing matter

In this era of fake news all around us, detecting is a major concern, and it looks like we are not very good at it.  I like the definition:

“…bullshit is something that is constructed absent of any concern for the truth.”

As the article explains below,

“Bullshit is much harder to detect when we want to agree with it.”

Why bullshit is no laughing matter

Gordon Pennycook |06 January, 2016 | aeon Continue reading

January 1, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Yes, I’d lie to you

Scary. Really scary. A must-read.

Yes, I’d lie to you

Dishonesty in politics is nothing new; but the manner in which some politicians now lie, and the havoc they may wreak by doing so, are worrying

The Economist | Sep 10th 2016

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October 9, 2016 Posted by | information, politics, sociology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Science Isn’t Broken

Wonderful article explaining why we can’t take each scientific study as “truth”, yet science is still providing us with the best answers.  Make sure you read it at the origin, so you can play with the interactive graph.

The Scientific Method: Science Isn’t Broken

It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for.

By Christie Aschwanden | Aug 19, 2015 | FiveThirtyEight

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August 25, 2015 Posted by | statistics | , , , | Leave a comment

Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth

I can’t seem to find the origin of this, but it seems to be going viral. Is it by http://www.bewareofimages.com?  Seems to fit…

“Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth, consider that…

… you can see less that 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 kilometers per second across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you”. The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colours you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

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May 28, 2012 Posted by | philosophy | , | 2 Comments

In search of Truth

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality,
they are not certain; and as far as they are certain,
they do not refer to reality. — Albert Einstein

Humans have a strong urge to find the “truth”. I think that’s an evolutionary trait helpful in gaining control — the “truth” allows for better predictions hence you have more control over your situation and have a better chance of survival/reproductive success. But due to our limited knowledge and limited perceptions there is no way we can find the ultimate, actual truth about anything. What we do is form a model that fits within our limited knowledge, and use it as the ultimate truth. A better approach would be to use the model as a predictor, and watch for a superior predictor to replace it, knowing that neither is likely to be the real truth. Einstein’s quote above puts this idea succinctly.

It sounds like scientists would all have this approach, but human nature intervenes — most believe their models (theories) are the truth and will argue vigourously to defend it as such. I’d much rather they’d argue to defend their theories as being the best predictors they know of. The difference in approach should give one an open mind to improvements.

Those whose beliefs of “truth” comes from a book (such as creationists) would benefit the most from this approach, as models in such books are not useful for prediction. Their vigourous arguments to defend their truth rests solely on discrediting other models. By not being able to predict properly with their useless models, they give up control over their lives.

March 13, 2008 Posted by | behaviour, imho, religion | , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t get duped

Scientific American Mind – January 31, 2008

Getting Duped: How the Media Messes with Your Mind

Statements made in the media can surreptitiously plant distortions in the minds of millions. Learning to recognize two commonly used fallacies can help you separate fact from fiction

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February 5, 2008 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, news | , , , , , | Leave a comment