Are selves cultural attractors?
I have just finished reading Nick Chater’s The mind is flat: The illusion of mental depth and the improvised mind (Chater 2017), which I think is an intriguing book. In contrast to popular opinion and much of modern psychology, it argues that our minds do not harbour a subconscious or unconscious that forms the source of our ‘true’ beliefs, emotions, motives and so forth. Instead, we spin stories on the spot to account for the way that we think, behave and feel. The coherence that emerges from these strings of justifications does not reveal our personal identity lying hidden in our mental depths. It derives from the fact that when we invent a new story about ourselves, we tend to take the stories that we created previously into account. Furthermore, we adjust our behaviour and thoughts in accordance with these stories, hence further contributing to the impression of coherence. As Chater nicely puts it, we are “shaped by stories” (p. 116), so that each individual constitutes a “tradition” (p. 202)....
Blatant bias and blood libel
Biases are, arguably, experimental psychology’s best export. Many a psychologist has built a successful career exploring, cataloguing, and attempting to explain the myriad biases supposed to plague human cognition (for a taste, see this Wikipedia list).
This is not a healthy development. It has helped spread a reign of error in psychology, fed by ‘gotcha experiments’ suggesting that humans are broadly irrational and quite a bit dumber than, say, rats. On the contrary, human cognition is extraordinarily efficient and adaptive—not to pat ourselves in the back too much, but, cognitively, we’re pretty dope. With a keen sense of irony, Gerg Gigenrenzer, one of the stalwarts of human rationality, has decried a bias bias that mistakes adaptive heuristics for biases....
Two doctoral fellowships for doing interdisciplinary research on cooperation, trust and morality at CEU
Central European University (CEU) invites applications for two new and fully funded interdisciplinary Joint PhD Fellowships starting in the 2019/2020 academic year (programme: SMASH PRO fellowships).
The Joint PhD Fellowship Scheme
The CEU Joint PhD Fellowship Scheme entails co-supervision by faculty members from the Department of Cognitive Science and Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. One Fellow will pursue a PhD in Cognitive Science and the other one a PhD in Sociology and Social Anthropology. The PhD students will follow a curriculum that includes courses from both departments being geared towards their acquiring cross-disciplinary training and expertise....
Blind imitation or a matter of taste?
***[This post was co-written by Hugo Mercier and Olivier Morin]
The space of reasons and the generation of knowledge
In 1644, in disturbing times of civil war and religious fanaticism, the English poet John Milton held a passionate plea for the freedom of the press. He wrote: “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.” With these words, Milton touches upon an idea that other thinkers too have recognized, namely, that if you let people argue freely, each from one’s own perspective, they will tend to come up with pretty good solutions.
It’s been six months since we launched the Color Game App. The project will last for another half year before we make all our hypotheses public. For us, the Color Game is an experiment in cultural evolution: we want to see how communication practices change over the long run. That makes it important to know how our players themselves evolve: are we dealing with a rapidly changing population of fickle players, or do the same happy few come back every day? The answer is to be found in… the Color-Game-O-Scope!
Cultures of academic (dis)agreement
Governments should more frequently publish CO2 emissions data: Leveraging human psychology to fight climate change
Scientific aesthetics, sacred values, and interdisciplinary collaborations
Are routine actions rational?
Reasoning against Faith: When Clerics Intervene in Popular Religion
How Color Game pseudonyms work
Post-doc in Cultural Evolution, Text Mining and Social Cognition in Paris
Post-doctoral position in cultural/cognitive evolution
Beheadings as honest communication devices
How the best color-gamers got there
Can we (please) have science without the scientific journals?
We had science before the journals. We can have science after their demise.
Science could be organized as efficiently as restaurants.
When enterprising individuals plan to open a restaurant, do they submit their food to a Culinary Editor who sends it for peer-review by gustatory experts, before customers are allowed to enter the place and try the food?
No, restaurateurs just rent premises, recruit staff, open doors, serve the meals they want at the price they choose, and hope for the best.
Then the review process starts. A whole army of self-appointed reviewers make it their job to describe and evaluate what is on offer. They include specialized magazines, special sections of newspapers or websites. More importantly, a vast number of unsolicited, unpaid Internet reviewers create what an establishment needs – a reputation.