Lessons on Disagreement from a Psychologist of Human Error

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/09/2018 - 11:58pm in

Lee Ross (Stanford), an influential social psychologist, reflects on his career of studying error and disagreement in a new essay at Perspectives on Psychological Science.

It’s an informative essay that should be of interest to anyone concerned with how to think about the causes and possible resolutions of disagreement and conflict.

Ross discusses his work on the “fundamental attribution error”—our tendency to explain human behavior largely in terms of people’s dispositions or personality, failing to take into account the causal role of the circumstances in which the behavior takes place. He also talks about the actor-observer difference in susceptibility to this error, whereby actors “attend to the specific features of the stimuli or situations to which they are responding and/or have responded in the past” and “observers, by contrast… overlook or… underestimate the relevance of those features, and instead focus their attention on the actor [and the actor’s] underlying traits, abilities, or other dispositions.” (Here’s a brief description of this bias.)

Though he coined the term “fundamental attribution error,” he does think there’s an error in reasoning that’s more accurately deemed “fundamental”: the illusion of personal objectivity.

Under the illusion of personal objectivity, Ross says, one tends to believe:

  1. My own perceptions are realistic and “objective”—and therefore (reasonable) others will (and should) share them. This illusion of objectivity applies not only to my perceptions of objects and events, but also to beliefs, preferences, priorities, and feelings prompted by those perceptions.
  2. I will be able to persuade those who disagree with me, if they are reasonable and open-minded, once I explain what the real facts are and what they really mean.
  3. Those who disagree with me, and especially those who challenge the most important beliefs of my group, are unreasonable and/or irrational. They have succumbed to particular sources of bias and error in reasoning.

Much of the article concerns experiments about, and the implications of, the “objectivity illusion,” with examples ranging from small-scale disputes modeled in lab experiments to attempts to promote dialogue between opposing parties in large-scale geopolitical conflicts.

Applications of lessons learned from the research surveyed to disputes among philosophers, be they over philosophical questions or professional matters, are, alas, left as an exercise for the interested philosopher.

The whole essay is worth a read. Here’s an excerpt:

It is a cliché that when confronting disagreement, one should try on the other side’s lenses or walk in their shoes. Unhelpful eyewear and footwear metaphors aside, the advice to consider the perspective of those with an opposite point of view has obvious merit. In principle, it is difficult to disagree with such a prescription, although in practice the exercise too often becomes an exploration of the sources of the erroneous views of the other…

A personal example: I sympathize with athletes who kneel during the National Anthem. Moreover, I accept their right to define the meaning of that gesture not as an insult to our country or to the veterans who have fought under its colors but as a protest against racial injustice and unfair police practices. However, when it comes to gestures and protests by those whose politics I decry, on issues ranging from access to late-term abortion to the renaming of buildings and removal of monuments that honor Confederate generals, I do not similarly grant the protesters the right to define the meaning of their actions and to stipulate the motivations behind those actions. Can I really defend the notion that the meaning of all political issues and actions should be defined by the groups with whom I personally identify, regardless of whether those individuals are the ones protesting existing policies, those defending the status quo, or those calling for further changes?

The objectivity illusion poses a unique dilemma. One cannot escape the conviction that one’s views capture reality better than some other set of views. Indeed, any departure from that conviction would be tantamount to the adoption of the conviction that one’s new views capture reality. Consider the perceptual illusion whereby a straight stick in water seems bent (because of refraction of light). Regardless of one’s efforts, one cannot see the stick as straight as long as it remains submerged. Only removing the stick from water allows one to fully recognize the illusion and use the stick accordingly. Unfortunately, when it comes to the distortions in perception that fuel most conflicts, we have not yet discovered a strategy akin to removing the stick from water.

Nothing can prevent adversaries from seeing their conflict and the possible agreements to end it through the lenses of their own narratives and motivations. However, there are some strategies one can use to counteract the most negative consequences of the objectivity illusion. In working with dialogue participants on opposite sides of the conflict between Unionists and Nationalists in Northern Ireland, my colleagues and I have employed a particular exercise as a prelude to any exchange of proposals for future agreement. This exercise obliges those on the two sides to try to present the other side’s position—and to keep trying until those on the other side agree that they are getting it right. This procedure initially proves difficult for all concerned and inevitably produces false starts. Yet when the two sides finally are satisfied with the efforts of their counterpart, they feel greater empathy for each other, avoid the caricaturing of each other’s views, and are on the road to a more thoughtful and less defensive exploration of future possibilities.

It is rare to see a public figure avoid both the fundamental attribution error and the illusion that his or her own perspective is the most reasonable one. I will close this personal saga not with the results of an experiment or strategic recommendation, but with a truly remarkable passage in a truly remarkable speech. Tom Gilovich and I quoted this passage in The Wisest One in the Room, where we offered a more extensive discussion both of naive realism and, later, of barriers to conflict resolution. Frederick Douglass delivered the speech 10 years after the end of the Civil War, at the dedication of the Freedom Memorial Monument honoring Abraham Lincoln. Douglass offered the following assessment of the martyred president: “Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent”. This assessment was understandable in light of Douglass’s long-standing impatience with the pace of the president’s steps toward the abolition of slavery.

However, he went on to add a further, less idiosyncratic assessment: “Measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined. . . . Taking him for all in all, measuring the tremendous magnitude of the work before him, considering the necessary means to ends, and surveying the end from the beginning, infinite wisdom has seldom sent any man into the world better fitted for his mission than Abraham Lincoln.”

What Douglass did that spring day is something worth contemplating and emulating. He recognized the constraints governing Lincoln’s actions. More remarkably, he acknowledged that his own views and those of his fellow abolitionists reflected a particular vantage point, history, and set of experiences; he also acknowledged that a future, more objective perspective would render a more objective and more charitable assessment. Less famous, and perhaps more provocative, is the answer Douglass gave to fellow abolitionist in defending his willingness to meet with slaveholders, “I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong”.

(via @DegenRolf)

The post Lessons on Disagreement from a Psychologist of Human Error appeared first on Daily Nous.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/06/2018 - 9:23am in

(Embiggenate the cartoon below by clicking the existential angst of any character.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Adorable Furry Robbers.

I’m generally skeptical of technology and firmly believe that too much immersion is bad for the human mind and spirit (if such a thing exists separately) but I do enjoy a few of the conveniences it provides. For instance, in colonial times, people often had to walk several miles with a couple of buckets of fresh milk to pay their cable TV bill in person. Now, through the magic of technology, we can do that with a few clicks of a keyboard. When I move into a new neighborhood, I immediately schedule automatic bank withdrawals with all of the local muggers so I don’t have to mess with it. It makes life so much simpler.

In last week’s blog, I mentioned we have some new Bizarro Secret Symbol enamel pins available in our shop. Since then, they’re selling like crazy and our stock is dwindling fast so if you’re into that kind of thing, now is a good time to grab some for yourself and your favorite imaginary friends. We also released our new Hello Shitty pin, which is quickly gaining ground on the Secret Symbol pins. If you thought Hello Kitty and the Poop Emoji were cute (or disgusting) you’re going to love this mash-up. This one will be a collector’s item because we expect to be shut down by Japanese trademark ninjas any day now. (Also available on a shirt.)

(Secret Bizarro Inside Info: She goes by Hello Shitty on the job, but her close friends call her Howdy Poopy.)

A glance at the clock tower in the town square tells me it is time to see what Wayno was scribbling last week on his eternal roll of butcher paper…

I love this gag but I hasten to point out that pig therapists are extremely rare. Pigs normally choose legal careers because it is a stepping stone to politics, where they can be richly rewarded for being unmitigated. (See “Donald Trump” and the current Republican Congress.)

I can’t even comment on this cartoon without going into a rant about the wreck of a human who is currently imagining he is king of America, so I won’t. If you’re one of those propaganda-blind Americans who still think he’s doing a good job, don’t come running to me when it is your head will be on the chopping block. (Or your kid in a warehouse prison.)

I’ve no doubt that far worse selfies-on-the-job than this one are on the Interwebs already, but please don’t google that and post pictures in the comments section. I’m pretty squeamish.

Scotch, cigarettes and floor pie in the middle of a workday? Who are these animals? Just your average, soulless corporate oligarchs.

For “Throwback Thursdays,” which is a social media thing where people post old stuff, apparently, on my @danpiraro Instagram place, I posted this scribble of my own from 2007. 

Careful not to run into these guys in a dark alley or you might get assigned homework.

When is somebody going to produce a big-budget version of Lancelot Link: Secret Agent with iguanas? That MUST happen!

When I was a kid, the severity of my punishment was proportional to my honesty, so I learned to lie like a decent adult. Among other things, it has saved me quite a bit in taxes.

Thanks for reading this far, Jazz Pickles.  Don’t forget to check out Wayno’s amusing but less verbose blog post about these same cartoons. And please help support our meager humor efforts by clicking the links below. Until my next post, be happy, be smart, be nice, and resist ignorance and fascism.

Wayno: Weekly blogTwitterInstagramWaynoVision

Piraro: Bizarro shop (enamel pins, a Hello Shitty shirt and more!) … Bizarro tip jar Signed, numbered, limited edition prints and original cartoon art …Piraro Instagram  Piraro Twitter … Piraro coloring book

Inequality breeds stress and anxiety. No wonder so many Britons are suffering | Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/06/2018 - 12:56am in

In equal societies, citizens trust each other and contribute to their community. This goes into reverse in countries like ours

The gap between image and reality yawns ever wider. Our rich society is full of people presenting happy smiling faces both in person and online, but when the Mental Health Foundation commissioned a large survey last year, it found that 74% of adults were so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Almost a third had had suicidal thoughts and 16% had self-harmed at some time in their lives. The figures were higher for women than men, and substantially higher for young adults than for older age groups. And rather than getting better, the long-term trends in anxiety and mental illness are upwards.

For a society that believes happiness is a product of high incomes and consumption, these figures are baffling. However, studies of people who are most into our consumerist culture have found that they are the least happy, the most insecure and often suffer poor mental health.

Related: The psychological effects of inequality – Science Weekly podcast

Related: Rising inequality linked to drop in union membership

Continue reading...

The Ideology of Fossil Fuels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/05/2018 - 5:00pm in

Imagining a low-carbon world means revisiting our conception of freedom itself.

Frightened May Holds Out Possibility of Undoing Tory Reforms of NHS

For all the repeated smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party as a nest of vicious anti-Semites and Trotskyites, the Labour leader clearly has the Tories worried. Last week Tweezer made a couple of pronouncements about the NHS, which showed more than a hint of desperation in one, and a fair amount of the usual Tory deceit and double standards in the other.

According to the I, Tweezer had made a speech in which she discussed the possibility of trying to improve the NHS by going back and repealing some of the Tories’ own recent legislation. The article, which I think was published in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper, but I could be wrong, stated that she was specifically considering repealing part of the 2012 Social Care Act. This is a nasty piece of legislation, which actually needs to be repealed. It was passed when Andrew Lansley was Dave Cameron’s Health Secretary. The verbiage within the Act is long and confused, and deliberately so. Critics of the Act, like Raymond Tallis, one of the authors of the book NHS SOS, have pointed out that the Act no longer makes the Health Secretary responsible for ensuring that everyone has access to NHS healthcare. The Act gives the responsibility for providing healthcare to the Care Commissioning Groups, but these are only required to provide healthcare for those enrolled with them, not for the people in a given area generally. It has been one of the major steps in the Tories’ ongoing programme of privatising the NHS. For more information on this, see Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis, NHS SOS (OneWorld 2013).

The fact that Tweezer was prepared to hold out the possibility of repealing, even partly, her predecessors’ NHS legislation suggests to me that Corbyn’s promise to renationalise the NHS has got her and her party seriously rattled. It shows that this policy, like much else in the Labour programme, is actually extremely popular. And so Tweezer is doing what she had done elsewhere with dangerously popular Labour policies in the past. She’s going to try to make it look as if the Tories are going to do something similar. Like when Labour talks about renationalising part of the electricity grid, the Tories immediately start going on about how they’ll cap energy prices.

Actually, I doubt very much that Tweezer has any intention of revising Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act, or about restoring the NHS to proper public ownership. The Tories have been trying to sell off the NHS and support private medicine since Maggie Thatcher back in the 1980s. But if Tweezer did repeal part of the 2012 Act, my guess is that it would only be to make it much worse. In the same way that Cameron announced he was going to clean up the lobbying industry and make it more transparent, and then passed legislation that actually made it far less so. This gave more power to the big lobbying firms, while making the kind of lobbying done by small groups like charities much more difficult. You can see something similar being done by the Tories with their proposed NHS legislation.

And then there was the report last week, which stated very clearly that due to the terrible underfunding of the past nine years or so, the NHS would need an extra tax of £2,000 to be paid by everyone in the UK. Or so Tweezer and the Tories claimed. Mike dealt with that projection in a post yesterday, where he noted that the Tories have been reducing the tax burden on the rich. He went on to quote Peter Stefanovic, a blogger deeply concerned with the crisis in NHS care and funding created by the Tories. Stefanovic said

“Or alternatively the Government could tax those earning over £80,000 a little more, scrap tax breaks for the very rich, stop PFI deals bleeding the NHS dry & companies like Boots accused of charging NHS over £3,000 for a £93 cancer pain-relieving mouthwash.”

Mike makes the point that with the increasing privatisation of the NHS, the call for more taxes to be spent on it is in fact a demand for more to be given to private healthcare providers, who are delivering less.

Mike concluded with the words:

These people are trying to make fools of us. They are to be challenged. Let them explain why they think the poor should be taxed more when we all have less, thanks to Tory policies.

I also wondered if there also wasn’t a piece of subtle, ‘Nudge Unit’ type psychology also at work in the statement that we’d all have to stump anything from £1,200 to £2,000. This is a lot of money for those on very low incomes. And the Tories see themselves very much as the party of low taxation. Hence their attacks on ‘high spending’ Labour and claims that their tax reforms allow working people to keep more of their money. Though even this is a lie. The Tories have actually moved the tax burden from the rich on to the poor, and made the poor very much poorer through removing vital parts of the welfare safety net. My guess is that they’re hoping that some people at least will see that figure, and vote against increasing spending for the NHS on the grounds that they won’t be able to afford it. It also seems to me that they’ll probably try asserting that Labour will increase everyone’s tax burden by that amount when the Labour party starts fighting on the platform of NHS reform.

And with frightened working class voters rejecting an increase in taxation to pay for the NHS, they’ll go on to claim that the NHS, as a state-funded institution, is simply unaffordable and so needs further privatisation. Or to be sold off altogether.

This is how nasty, duplicitous and deceitful the Tories are. And I can remember when the Tories under Thatcher were similarly claiming that the NHS was unaffordable in the 1980s. Just like the Tory right claimed it was unaffordable back in the 1950s.

In fact, a report published in 1979 made it very clear that the NHS could very easily continue to be funded by increased taxation. And that taxation should be levelled on the rich, not the poor. But this is exactly what the Tories don’t want. They don’t want people to have access to free healthcare, and they really don’t want the rich taxed. And so they’re going to do everything they can to run down the NHS and tell the rest of us that it’s too expensive. Even though this country’s expenditure on healthcare is lower than that of many other countries in Europe, and far lower than the American’s expenditure on their massively inefficient and grossly unjust private healthcare system.

If we want to save the NHS, we have to reject May’s lies, and vote in Corbyn and a proper Labour government.

Refuting Anti-Semitism Smears with the Reasonableness Test: Part Two

The claims that some of the comments made by critics of Israel are anti-Semitic because of their imagery and language used also reminds me very strongly of the claims made by some of the paranoid conspiracy theorists themselves. For example, Israel has constructed a wall around itself designed to keep the Palestinians out. This is very controversial, and the great British caricaturist, Gerald Scarfe, drew a cartoon of the Israelis building it using the blood of the Palestinians as mortar. The picture was published either in the Independent, or the I. The Israeli ambassador, an odious creep called Mark Regev, immediately declared that the cartoon was anti-Semitic. The inclusion of blood in the picture was a reference to the Blood Libel, the murderous lie that Jews kill Christians and use their blood in the matzo bread at Passover.

In fact, the cartoon contained no reference to this vile libel. There were no references to either the Passover, matzo bread or ritual murder. It was purely about the wall, and the Israelis’ butchery of the Palestinians. But the accusation had the intended effect. The I or Independent caved in and made an apology. But blood and its imagery is a very common image used to portray the brutality of oppressive, violent regimes and groups of all types around the world. It is certainly not confined to Jews. Regev was, of course, making the accusation of anti-Semitism to close down a graphic portrayal of the Israeli state’s brutality, as the Israel lobby has been doing to its critics since the 1980s. But his accusation bears less relation to objective fact than to some of the really paranoid theories that have circulated around America about secret cabals of Satanists plotting to destroy American society from within.

One of these, which surfaced c. 1982, concerned Proctor and Gamble and their logo, as shown below.

As you can see, this shows a ‘Man in the Moon’ surrounded by thirteen stars. According to the rumour, which was boosted through its inclusion by several Southern fundamentalist Christian preachers in their sermons, the imagery reveals that the company is run by Satanists. The thirteen stars represent the thirteen members of a witches’ coven, and the ‘Man in the Moon’ is really Satan himself. Especially as the curls of the figures hair is supposed to show the number 666, the number of the Beast, the Antichrist, in the Book of Revelations. See the illustration below, where I’ve circled where I think these ‘Satanic’ curls are.

Now if you applied the rule adopted by the lawyers for the Israel lobby to the imagery here, you could argue that it is fair to accuse Proctor and Gamble of Satanism, because that’s how its logo and its imagery has struck thousands of Americans. But you be ill-advised to do so, because the company vehemently denies any Satanic connections. It’s actually a patriotic symbol, with the thirteen stars representing the thirteen founding colonies of the USA. The company has also redesigned the logo to iron out those curls, so that they no longer appear to show 666, and engaged the services of other right-wing fundamentalist preachers, like Jerry Falwell, to show that the company is not run by Satanists. They also have a very aggressive legal policy, so that if you do claim that they’re a bunch of Satanists, they will sue. And I very much doubt that the court will be impressed by claims that the company must be Satanic, ’cause somebody can think that looking at their logo.

This is real, Alex Jones, tin-foil hat stuff. And stupid rumours of Satanic conspiracies have real consequences for ordinary people, just like the smears of anti-Semitism have been used to damage the lives and reputations of decent people. We have seen people falsely accused of child sacrifices and abuse, based on no more than fake recovered memories, in scenes that could have come out of the Salem witch hunt back in the 17th century. Some of them have even gone to prison. This is why it is absolutely important that people are always considered innocent until proven guilty, and that accusations of Satanic ritual abuse, and anti-Semitism, should always be held to objective, not subjective standards. The rule that such accusations must be believed, because somebody may think that a person is a Satanist or racist, simply on the way a comment subjectively strikes them, only leads to terrible injustice.

The Israel lobby here are showing the same paranoid psychology that permeates the racist, anti-Semitic extreme right. The type of people, who search the newspapers and other texts looking for proofs that the Illuminati really do run the world. Or that the Zionist Occupation Government really has taken over America and the West, and is attempting to destroy the White race through racial intermixing. Or that Communists have burrowed into the American government.

One of the proofs of this last conspiracy theory was the tiny lettering on the Roosevelt dime. Just below FDR’s neck and extremely small, were the letters ‘JS’. According to the rumour, the letters stood for ‘Joe Stalin’. This rumour first appeared in the Cold War, in 1948, when the scare about ‘Reds under the bed’ was just beginning. But it’s completely false. Oh, the letters are there, but they don’t stand for Stalin. They’re the initials of the coin’s designer, John Sinnock. You can claim all you want that the claim is subjectively true, because liberalism and the welfare state = Communism, or some such similar right-wing bilge. But it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.

And some Christian fundamentalists in America have also seen in the colours used by state roads signs evidence of a conspiracy to put them in concentration camps. Back in the 1990s there was a rumour panic going around about the colours used in spots adorning the highway signs in Pennsylvania. These were supposed to show the location of the concentration camps, in which true Christians would be incarcerated when the Communists or one world Satanic conspiracy came to power. In fact they showed no such thing. The state’s highway department used the dots as a colour code to mark the year the sign was first painted. This was to show how old the sign was, and so indicate when it should be repainted.

Continued in Part Three.

Bacon in the Sun

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/05/2018 - 8:46am in


(To begin the embiggenation you crave, click any pig’s butt.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by No One Is Immune To Internet Ratings.

At first, this seems like a very dangerous situation for Señor Cerdo, because there are a lot of humans who cannot resist the smell of cooking pig. But fear not; Señor Cerdo is nobody’s fool––he and his esposa patronize exclusively swine-only beaches and they always make it back home with their bacon bits intact.

And what the hell was Wayno up to last week, you may ask. Let’s find out…

I’ve been to a handful of therapists of different sorts over the years and received a lot of benefit from it. One thing I’ve learned about the sort of name-calling that the shrink in this cartoon has resorted to is that sticks and stones may break your bones, but invisible clients will steal your unicorn. (No, you’re delusional.)

Over on Wayno’s weekly blog, he posts a couple of sketches of completely different scenarios that this gag went through before we arrived at the final version you see above. The URL for his blog is at the end of this post, so don’t miss it!

On a related note, if you type “gumball” in Mac Mail, it will autocorrect to “gumboil”. How is “gumball” not officially a single word but “gumboil” is? On the bright side, gumboils are not sold in grocery store vending machines.

As a surrealist myself, I can say that my beer often resides only in the reflection of the bar. At least, that’s the way it looks from behind the floating fruit that blocks most of my vision.

Not that you asked, but you can view my surrealist art, much of it in various stages of progress, on Instagram here: @diegopiraro

I was on a jury once in a civil case in Texas. Six of us were asked to decide if a person in a car accident should be awarded money from the driver of the other car involved. After a short trial of a couple of hours, the facts were clear; the person who instigated the suit was lying. Neither car was damaged and no doctor appeared to testify on behalf of the plaintiff’s claims that his neck was injured from whiplash. He did, however, testify that another car tapped his car from behind in bumper-to-bumper morning rush hour traffic; he had a brief conversation with the other driver; they exchanged contact info and he drove on to work. Later that morning, he called his wife and told her about the accident. She told him to call a lawyer immediately. He did and the lawyer told him to call a clinic called “Whiplash Chiropractic” and get examined. The chiropractor from this auspiciously-named business was his only witness and admitted upon questioning that he had worked with the plaintiff’s lawyer dozens of times.

In the deliberation room, a quick conversation revealed that all six of us saw it the same way; there was nothing wrong with the man or his car, he just wanted some free money. However, four of the six of us wanted to find for the plaintiff and award him that money! I was not among them.

Their explanations of why they wanted to award money to a liar were slightly different but in the end, they were all imagining that a payday like this would come to them someday. I remember one of them saying, “When you make a mistake, you’ve got to pay.” 

The one other juror who did not want to award him any money and I spent nearly four hours convincing them that this kind of fraud (and attitude) is one of the things that makes insurance rates (of many kinds) so high in the U.S. and causes who-knows-how-many other social and legal problems. Plus, we then have to live in the community that we have been encouraging as jurors to be institutionally dishonest. Some agreed quickly, others held out until they were just tired and wanted to go home and they gave in.  People who don’t stand for much tend not to stand for long. We eventually awarded the man nothing.

That’s my jury story. It makes me a little sick every time I tell it.

Remember the old days? Well, that’s where this 2007 cartoon of mine is from!

One good thing about Donutman is that he is a positive role model for folks with big bellies. He’s also a roll model for anyone wanting to make rolls that look like donuts for some reason.

I picked up a woman in a bar once who had a snake in an unexpected place, but it was anything but charming. And for those of you whose minds are in the gutter right now, the unexpected snake was not idiomatic and was in her purse.

Little-known Godzilla trivia: After he decided he was atheist, he insisted on being called Nothingzilla. Rodan took up sculpture and changed his name to Rodin. Mothra gave birth and changed her name to Mothar. (I don’t know the names of any other Japanese movie monsters.)

That’s the story this week, Jazz Pickles. Please have a grand and groovy week after a quick glance at the links below, some of which help us keep the campfires burning at Rancho Bizarro. 

Until my next post, be happy, be smart, be nice, and resist ignorance and fascism.

Wayno: Weekly blogTwitterInstagramWaynoVision

Piraro: Bizarro shop (enamel pins, a Hello Shitty shirt and more!)  … Bizarro tip jar  …Signed, numbered, limited edition prints and original cartoon art  …Bizarro Cartoons on Instagram  …Piraro Fine Art on Instagram Piraro Twitter … Piraro coloring book

Experimental Philosophy and the Replication Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/05/2018 - 2:40am in

The replication crisis in psychology and other fields, in which researchers have found it difficult or impossible to replicate the results of many earlier experiments (see the Reproducibility Project) is now being addressed by those working in experimental philosophy (x-phi), a subfield of philosophy that borrows surveying and experimental methods from psychology, whose work may suffer from similar problems.

The X-Phi Replicability Project enlisted 20 teams across 8 countries—over 40 researchers—to conduct replications of a “representative sample” of 40 x-phi studies, and has recently released its results. They found that x-phi studies “successfully replicated about 70% of the time.”

By way of comparison, the Reproducibility Project was able to replicate findings in only around 35% of a representative sample of psychology studies.

What explains the relatively high replication rate? The authors consider a number of explanations:

  • the effect sizes in x-phi, especially early on, were large, and it has been found that effect sizes are a good predictor of a study’s replicability
  • because x-phi studies are less costly to run and re-run, there is less of a downside to getting results that are not interesting enough  to publish, and so there is less motivation to engage in “questionable research practices”
  • the effects studied in x-phi are generally “less subtle” than those studied in psychology and more likely to be affected by factors under the control of the researchers
  • the academic culture of philosophy encourages researchers to be “more sensitive to certain methodological questions, such as what counts as strong evidence for a given claim,” or have “a greater tolerance for negative or null results.” More generally, for a few reasons, philosophers may be less susceptible than psychologists to the pressure of “publish or perish” when it comes to empirical studies.

You can read more about the results here.

(via Florian Cova)

Vivian Maier, “Infinite Reflection”


The post Experimental Philosophy and the Replication Crisis appeared first on Daily Nous.

Esther McVie and the Rape Clause: Adding Lies and Insults to Traumatic Assault

I really can’t let this go without comment. In one of the history books I’ve got here at home, there’s an observation that you can tell how civilised a culture is by how high the status of women is. I think it’s in part of the book discussing the ancient Egyptians, where the status of women was very high for the ancient world. If that’s the case, then Esther McVile and the Tories are dragging us back into real barbarism.

McVile was before the Scots parliament this week to give her testimony regarding child benefit, and the infamous ‘rape clause’. You can only receive child benefit for two children, but it is available for rape victims, provided they can show that their third child was conceived through rape. This in itself is immensely controversial, and Ruth Davidson, the head of the Tories in Scotland, briefly earned herself the soubriquet ‘Rape Clause Ruth’ after she got up on her hind legs to justify the rape clause. That was repulsive enough. Now the Tories have gone even lower and got Esther McVie to try to defend the indefensible.

And what did the Wicked Witch of the Wirral say? That the rape clause offered victims the chance to talk about their assault, and offered them ‘double support’.

It does no such thing. Everything about the modern Job Centre interview is design to humiliate, bully and degrade the prospective claimant. It’s all part of Thatcher’s sacred Victorian values. She followed the ‘less eligibility’ ideology of the workhouse, in which claiming benefits was to be made so harsh and degrading that only the very desperate would willingly go on them.

As for the psychological harm rape does, I know very little about it. But I do know that it leaves victims traumatised and mentally scarred. They may irrationally blame themselves, and definitely do not want to relive the experience over and over again. I can remember watching a documentary on Channel 4 about new advances in neuroscience and mental health, which included a piece about doctors in Canada, who were treating a French Canadian lady. This poor woman was still massively depressed and anxious a year or more after her assault. And it goes without saying that there are any number of rape victims like her. They don’t like talking about their experience, and they feel so deeply ashamed that in general they really don’t want other people knowing about it.

And the DWP is not known for its sensitivity. Like when its wretched servants ask depressives why they haven’t committed suicide yet. No depressed person should be asked this question. And no rape victim should be required to describe the event for an unsympathetic bureaucrat, whose only concern is to find some excuse to sanction their benefits.

One of the many great commenters on Mike’s blog, Aunty1960, posted this about their experience of the way the DWP handles rape claims.

I have witness statements on my After Atos feedback survey from rape and child sex survivors who say they have to recount their ordeal up to ten times every time they are called for an assessment as they have to again go through it with GP social worker, psychiartrist, DWP physiotherapist counsellor etc etc in order to get each bit of paper and supportive documentary evidence.

The assessors are not understanding or supportive and can ask really inappropriate and insensitive questions.

One witness statement says that all the work that has been done over the years has been totally undone because of having to go through the assessments and retell it and relive it everytime. No closure and respect for PTSD triggers, just keep opening the wound over and over again.

Some very inappropriate comments by assessor on women and their sexuality and sexual experiences. Even outright disapproval of a woman being a lesbian and inappropriate comments.

A lot of work undone and lost. and that includes physical ailments where interventions have been completely undone and undermined.

I cannot stand most people most of the time and professionals about sexual abuse and social discrimination and prejudice, Same ideas still there. This just reinforce and compounds it 100 times more.

But McVile’s statement is designed to play to that part of the Tory-voting public, who are fortunate never to have stepped into a jobcentre, at least, not recently. The people, who are prepared to take the Tories comments about their welfare reforms at face value, and swallow all the lies about how they’re not cutting benefits, their simply refocusing them to help people better. The lies that workfare isn’t about giving cheap, subsidised forced labour to big business, including the supermarkets, but about helping people into work by giving them new skills and other such specious rubbish. Quite apart from the morons that believes the lies put out by the Scum, the Heil and the Depress that all benefit claimants are really scroungers, no matter how severe their disability. ‘Cause these papers says so, and they saw that character in a wheelchair running about in Little Britain. Oh yes, and single mothers only have babies to claim the child and other benefits.You can read off the standard Tory attitudes of the people, who will believes McVile’s monstrous, platitudinous lies, almost like ticking boxes in a list.

Not the Scots, however. The day after McVile uttered this bilge, they organised a demonstration against her. Bravo! and maximum respect! McVie is truly vile, along with the rest of the squad running the DWP – Damian Green and his predecessor, Ian Duncan Smith. All of them should be cleaned out and charged with crimes against humanity for their role in manipulating the benefits system to cause the victims of their sanctions to starve to death or commit suicide.

Unfortunately, they’re likely to be rewarded instead. Rape Clause Ruth was in today’s papers because Time magazine has named her one of the 20 most influential women, or at least, influential women in Scotland. Which is enough to have millions of Scots voting SNP because of Nicola Sturgeon. Although I’d rather see named as more influential than Davidson the actress, who played Mary Hen, Rab. C. Nesbit’s long-suffering wife.

Apart from being offensive in itself, McVile’s stupid comments are dangerous because they try to justify a system that is causing people harm. And her words themselves are likely to upset victims of sexual assault and their families. One of the things I’ve learned from being made redundant along with others is that it isn’t just an official action that hurts. It’s also the dull platitudes management offer to try and make it more palatable. I used to be a civil servant years ago, and one day a whole group of us were called in individually to be told we were going to be made redundant. One young lad left in tears. Talking to him afterwards, he told me that it wasn’t the redundancy itself, but the nonsense the manager came out with about the possibility of getting jobs elsewhere in offices in the area. The lad knew that there was no hope of that. The redundancy stung, and what made it all the worse was the smooth assurances made by someone from outside the office to make it all seem better. McVie’s comments are like that, but much worse because of the horrific nature of the crime to which these women have been subjected.

McVie deserves her nickname. She really is vile, and so are the rest of her corrupt and mendacious crew. Get them out, and Labour in!

Maoist Rebel News on Alex Jones Cursing Trump for Syrian Airstrikes

This is very interesting, and it made me think slightly better – but only slightly – of Alex Jones, the mad right-wing conspiracy theorist and his wretched internet show, Infowars. In this clip from Maoist Rebel News, host Jason Unruhe comments on a little piece of video which shows Jones screaming and cursing Trump for the airstrikes that hit Syria at the weekend. It was clearly shot before Jones went on air, so I assume the footage must have been leaked by someone.

Jones is one of the tin-foil hat brigade, who tells the world that there is a conspiracy by ‘the globalists’ to establish some kind of one world superstate and destroy all personal freedoms along with nation states. It’s standard right-wing conspiracy theory stuff, of the type that’s been a part of the right-wing paranoid fringe since at least the ’70s. Jones identifies the ‘globalists’ with the international business elites, who are under the control of demons or interdimensional aliens. Also involved in this are liberals, socialists and feminists. As for gay rights, they’re a transhumanist space cult to create a new race of genderless cyborgs and deprive us of our humanity.

Obviously, no-one has actually told the gays that. Or indeed, the producers and writers of Dr. Who. Since Russell T. Davis revived the show about ten years ago, it’s been very gay friendly. Which isn’t surprising, as Davis is not only gay himself, but way back in the ’90s made his name with the gay soap/ drama series, Queer As Folk. It’s also quite feminist, in that it’s been doing its best to break the stereotype of the Doctor’s female companions as just being there to scream and have things explained to them by the Doctor. The Time Lords are shown to change genders as well as appearance when they regenerate. The Master regenerated as a woman, and reappeared as Missy. And the next Doctor is going to be female as well.

But this liberal approach to sexual orientation does not mean a rejection of sexuality. Aside from the deep emotional bond between Rose Tyler and David Tennant’s Doctor, which saw Rose eventually settle on a parallel Earth with a human duplicate of the Doctor, there’s the Cybermen. Part of the horror of these monsters is the fact that not only have they had their humanity stripped away and replaced with steel and plastic, but they’ve also been deprived of their gender. They’re mechanical, neuter creatures, devoid of emotion, and determined to perpetuate themselves by turning humans, if not all humanoids, into themselves. All you have to do to see Jones is wrong about gay rights and transhumanism is simply watch a few episodes of Dr. Who.

Jones was initially a very enthusiastic supporter of Trump. He gave him much airtime when the orange buffoon was campaigning for the presidency. Jones thought that Trump was an outsider, who would defeat the globalists and drain the swamp of corruption engulfing American politics.

He’s been gravely disappointed. Trump has carried on with pretty much the same policies as his Republican and corporatist Democrat predecessors, and has, if anything, been even more corrupt in giving government posts to his friends and family, including positions where they would enjoy an unfair advantage as private businesspeople.

Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against Syria provoked a particularly vehement reaction from Jones. Jones is very much a man of the right, but from here it looks like he belongs to that strain of American Conservativism which states that the country has absolutely no business interfering in other countries’ internal affairs. it’s why some American Conservatives were against the Iraq invasion, including a senior female Pentagon colonel. It’s peculiar, but some Libertarians can be very critical of American foreign policy and its programme of increasing tension with Russia, which can make them seem a bit more left-wing than they actually are.

Of course, Jones doesn’t go the whole way, and wake up to the fact that the reason Trump’s bombing Syria is because of American capitalism and the greed of American multinationals to conquer and exploit yet another middle eastern state, as well as the Neocons to destroy another threat to Israel. Instead he rants about how its all the fault of liberals, Democrats and other members of the left.

Unruhe makes some very valid, pertinent points himself in his comments on Jones’ screams of rage. He states that Marxists realise that the problem isn’t just individual capitalists, but with the system as a whole. But Jones’ anger at Trump shows how profoundly Conservative he is. Jones believes the present system is perfect, and that it’s only gone wrong because of a few individuals. This, Unruhe says, is the psychology behind conspiracy theories, such as those which see the world’s problems as being due to the Illuminati, or, in an anti-Semitic variant, the Jews.

He’s absolutely right on this point. The stupid, malign conspiracy theories which claim that there is a global plot by the Illuminati, the Freemasons, Jews or some other clandestine group, is an attempt to explain the failure of capitalism and laissez-faire economics, without challenging them. They’re seen as perfect, and so if they don’t create the freedom and prosperity their advocates promise, it must be due to some group operating outside the system and trying to pervert and destroy it.

I don’t agree with Unruhe when he says that individual figures aren’t of importance, and that what matters is the system as a whole. There are clearly good and bad employers and some Tories are definitely far worse than others. The present structure of society isn’t perfect, but the extreme right, like the current Tory party and the business people who donate and support it, are making it far worse. They need to be turfed out of office immediately.

In the meantime, here’s the video: