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Monbiot.com: The Values of Everything
Progressives, he shows, have been suckers for a myth of human cognition he labels the Enlightenment model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires.

A host of psychological experiments demonstrates that it doesn't work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept information which confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change.

Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance. Those who have a strong set of intrinsic values are not dependent on praise or rewards from other people. They have beliefs which transcend their self-interest.

Does this mean that all politics is identity politics?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 11:40:18 AM EST
Or all politics is irrational.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 11:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite, quite.

Humans have emotions as Millman has already observed.  And it is clear removing emotions from the "cognitive equation" affects the ability of humans to cognate - see Damasio Descarte's Error, & etc.  Predisposition to over weigh, relative to objective valuation, one's education and the results of that education plus past experience and data plus emotional commitment to such leads to 'thinking dysfunction' as as the link shows with additional evidence from Taleb in his book Black Swan.  Now toss in Altemeyer's work on Right Wing Authoritarians and his analysis of their basic episto-psychology.

And it we begin to get a glimpse that human decision making isn't "irrational," per se, but, rather, a complex melange of rationality (Critical Thinking) as embedded in the mesolimbic and mesocortical pathways, among others.  

Aristotle got it wrong.  Humans aren't "the rational animal." We are animals capable, subject to a galumphing horde of limitations, of choosing to be rational.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 02:46:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It means humans have emotions.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 01:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Pascal put it, the heart has reasons that reason doesn't know about.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 02:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Research shows 85 times out of 100 there is a 60% chance Probability Theorists will quote each other.

:-)


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 02:48:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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