In my final months at work, I had many conversations about retirement with friends and colleagues who asked about my plans and preparations and shared their own. I was struck by the wide range of attitudes they expressed. For some, retirement was a concrete reality, something they had visualized and thought about in detail. For others it was more abstract, as if it were going to happen to someone else entirely. You might expect this to correlate straightforwardly with age: the closer to retirement, the more concrete the thinking about it. That didn’t seem to be the case for many people.
This 2015 paper ought to provoke provoke an interesting discussion:
Although bullshit is common in everyday life and has attracted attention from philosophers, its reception (critical or ingenuous) has not, to our knowledge, been subject to empirical investigation. Here we focus on pseudo-profound bullshit, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous. We presented participants with bullshit statements consisting of buzzwords randomly organized into statements with syntactic structure but no discernible meaning (e.g., “Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena”). Across multiple studies, the propensity to judge bullshit statements as profound was associated with a variety of conceptually relevant variables (e.g., intuitive cognitive style, supernatural belief). Parallel associations were less evident among profundity judgments for more conventionally profound (e.g., “A wet person does not fear the rain”) or mundane (e.g., “Newborn babies require constant attention”) statements. These results support the idea that some people are more receptive to this type of bullshit and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims. Our results also suggest that a bias toward accepting statements as true may be an important component of pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity.
I’ve never met an IDer or creationist who could explain this, and it should give pause to theistic evolutionists as well.
An article in Aeon:
A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy
Suzanne Sadedin is an evolutionary biologist who has worked at Monash University, University of Tennessee, Harvard University, and KU Leuven.
Since objective morality is The Topic That Won’t Die here at TSZ, I think we need Yet Another Thread to Discuss It.
A Sam Harris quote to get things rolling (h/t walto):
There are two mistakes I see moral subjectivists making. The first mistake is believing in the fact-value dichotomy. The second mistake is conflating moral philosophy and psychology, suggesting that our psychology ought to be the sole determinant of our beliefs.
Commenter Kantian Naturalist leveled the following charge against TSZ earlier today:
Folks here would rather persist in their confusion over basic issues than risk the realization that they don’t really understand what they assume they understand.
If you haven’t figured out that there’s a fundamentally anti-intellectual bias to TSZ and there’s really nothing you can do to change it, you’re going to have nothing but frustration in your interactions here.
That is an absurdly sweeping statement. Do some people here persist in their confusions, ignoring opposing arguments? Sure. Do some people express anti-intellectual opinions here? Sure, including KN himself on occasion, amusingly enough. Does this mean that TSZ suffers from “a fundamentally anti-intellectual bias” and that those seeking intelligent discussions are doomed to experience “nothing but frustration” here?
No. KN’s charge is ridiculous and way overblown.
A review in the New Yorker of three new books:
The Enigma of Reason, by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber
The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, by Jack and Sara Gorman
Today Mung claimed of TSZ that
I see mocking of Christianity, what I don’t see are arguments that Christianity is false.
As the regulars here (including Mung) know, this is bollocks. There have been many such arguments, and Mung has fled from a number of them.
The ‘problem of evil’ is a perpetual thorn in the side of the omnitheist — that is, someone who believes in an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God. For if God is perfectly good and all-powerful, why does he allow so much evil in the world? He’s powerful enough to eradicate it; and if he’s perfectly good, he should want to eradicate it. So why doesn’t he?
One response, known as the ‘Free Will Defense’, comes from Alvin Plantinga:
Dr. Joshua Swamidass, a theistic evolutionist, joined us recently at TSZ. I think the following comment of his will lead to some interesting and contentious discussion and is worthy of its own thread:
Third, if we drop “Darwinian” to just refer to the current modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, you are right that the scientific account does not find any evidence of direction or planning. I agree with you here and do not dispute this.
So the question becomes, really, is it possible that God could have created a process (like evolution) with a purposeful intent that science could not detect? I think the answer here is obvious. Of course He could. In fact, I would say, unless He wanted us to discern His purpose, we could not.
In my view, then, evolution has a purpose in creating us. Science itself cannot uncover its purpose. I find that out by other means.
Cartesian skepticism has been a hot topic lately at TSZ. I’ve been defending a version of it that I’ve summarized as follows:
Any knowledge claim based on the veridicality of our senses is illegitimate, because we can’t know that our senses are veridical.
This means that even things that seem obvious — that there is a computer monitor in front of me as I write this, for instance — aren’t certain. Besides not being certain, we can’t even claim to know them, and that remains true even when we use a standard of knowledge that allows for some uncertainty. (There’s more — a lot more — on this in earlier threads.)
In explaining to Kantian Naturalist why I am a Cartesian skeptic, I introduced the analogy of the Sentinel Islander: