Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

Community Reviews
posted by janrinok on Friday June 08 2018, @10:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the smeared-electrons-and-live/dead-cats dept.

Review of a couple of recent publications, in The Boston Review

People are gullible. Humans can be duped by liars and conned by frauds; manipulated by rhetoric and beguiled by self-regard; browbeaten, cajoled, seduced, intimidated, flattered, wheedled, inveigled, and ensnared. In this respect, humans are unique in the animal kingdom.

Aristotle emphasizes another characteristic. Humans alone, he tells us, have logos: reason. Man, according to the Stoics, is zoön logikon, the reasoning animal. But on reflection, the first set of characteristics arises from the second. It is only because we reason and think and use language that we can be hoodwinked.

We'll get to the quantum mechanics in a bit.

The two books under consideration here bring the paradox home, each in its own way. Adam Becker's What Is Real? chronicles the tragic side of a crowning achievement of reason, quantum physics. The documentarian Errol Morris gives us The Ashtray, a semi-autobiographical tale of the supremely influential The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) by Thomas S. Kuhn. Both are spellbinding intellectual adventures into the limits, fragility, and infirmity of human reason. Becker covers the sweep of history, from the 1925 birth of the "new" quantum physics up through the present day.

So, verifiable, experimental, experienced proof?

Not only can people be led astray, most people are. If the devout Christian is right, then committed Hindus and Jews and Buddhists and atheists are wrong. When so many groups disagree, the majority must be mistaken. And if the majority is misguided on just this one topic, then almost everyone must be mistaken on some issues of great importance. This is a hard lesson to learn, because it is paradoxical to accept one's own folly. You cannot at the same time believe something and recognize that you are a mug to believe it. If you sincerely judge that it is raining outside, you cannot at the same time be convinced that you are mistaken in your belief. A sucker may be born every minute, but somehow that sucker is never oneself.


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @10:28PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @10:28PM (#690555)

    Reason and critical thinking are anti-evolution and thus anti-scientific concepts. Like evolution all we need to do is run craploads of AB tests and then communicate the results to each other to take a vote on the best course of action. The most popular option wins.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @10:53PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @10:53PM (#690569)

      This only works when you can run craploads of AB tests. It's not always an option.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:02AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:02AM (#690600) Journal

        And if you can't run craploads of AB tests (and lets face it, you mostly can't) the best the average man in the street can due is nurture a strong skepticism. We should all be from Missouri [mo.gov].

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by requerdanos on Friday June 08 2018, @10:47PM (1 child)

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 08 2018, @10:47PM (#690566) Journal

    Humans alone, he tells us, have logos: reason. Man, according to the Stoics, is zoön logikon, the reasoning animal. But on reflection, the first set of characteristics arises from the second. It is only because we reason and think and use language that we can be hoodwinked.

    It's the other way around--It is because we reason and think that we can hoodwink others.

    We can hoodwink reasoning people, sure.

    But we can also, for example, mix fipronil with peanut butter and hoodwink ants who take the yummy peanut butter home and feed it to the whole anthill, which then dies.

    Because we are reasoning people, we can hoodwink game animals by spraying inanimate objects with "fragrance of female game animal who is interested in you" so that they come out into the open where we can shoot them.

    I don't think Aristotle would argue that game animals are reasoning beings, much less ants.

    Anyone who argues that only reasoning beings can be hoodwinked isn't paying much attention.

    And if they argue that, and then use that egregious error to demonstrate their special knowledge of science, for example, or of religion, you should run. And hold on to your wallet.

    Someone who was mostly very wrong once said:

    it is paradoxical to accept one's own folly.

    Word.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bob_super on Friday June 08 2018, @11:11PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday June 08 2018, @11:11PM (#690573)

      > Humans alone, he tells us, have logos: reason. Man, according to the Stoics, is zoön logikon, the reasoning animal.

      I'm pretty sure that that seagull I saw at lunch today, hanging out next to the kids having fries would disagree. Cars passing by two feet away? Classified as harmless as long as it's close enough to the tables...
      And that's not even talking about tool-making crows and apes, pets, trained animals, dolphins, and the smartest mathematician on the planet, who's happy to be a camel so it can spit on and kick humans.

  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @10:53PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @10:53PM (#690568)

    A sucker may be born every minute, but somehow that sucker is never oneself.

    Vote Democrat? [investors.com]

    • (Score: 2, Troll) by realDonaldTrump on Friday June 08 2018, @11:28PM (3 children)

      by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Friday June 08 2018, @11:28PM (#690579) Homepage Journal

      Look what they just did in High Tax, High Crime California. If you read Breitbart, if you read @FoxNews [twitter.com] you know what I'm going to say. They rigged the election by taking almost 120,000 voters off the list. Off the voter roles. Folks signed up to vote, they got the mail saying "you can vote, absolutely you're good to vote." They went to the polling place, they're not on the list. Like they don't exist, like they never existed. And if they were lucky, maybe the guy at the polling place says, "oh, but you can do the provisional." Trust me, they're not so lucky. Because, very hard for your vote to be counted when you do the provisional. And so many times they just throw those away. DISGRACEFUL! But Republican John Cox and Rep. Kevin McCarthy -- my House Majority Leader -- did amazingly. Because of me, because of my tweets. So did Devin Nunes, a true American Patriot the likes of which we rarely see in our modern day world. I put out a tweet for him too. And Dana Rohrabacher did beautifully. Let me tell you, he's stood by Russia through thick & thin. Great and true friend to Russia. Kevin McCarthy says Putin pays him, so funny! He made a very funny joke about that one. Obviously he's joking. They tried to steal the election. it didn't work, folks!! foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/05/nearly-120000-voters-reportedly-left-off-los-angeles-voter-rolls-on-crucial-primary-day.html [foxnews.com]

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @11:41PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @11:41PM (#690590)

    Con artists are good at what they do because they have experience. If you have a lot of practice conning people about a given subject, you have ready-made answers to any questions or skepticism the victim may have. The scammer may have spent a thousand hours or more thinking about and communicating about Topic X, but the victim may only have given it passing thought. Plus, they share advice with follow cons. Some of their tricks are pretty clever.

    It reminds me of how prisoners have made deadly bows and arrows out of simple materials such as reconstituted newspapers (wet & dried), underwear elastic, and twigs. McGuyver-esque. How are they able to craft such devices? It's because they have plenty of time to ponder, collect, and experiment while sitting in a cell.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:51AM (#690616)

      On top of that most people think they are good at spotting it. *Especially* smart people. Today I got a room full of democrats to defend the electoral college. When 2 weeks earlier they were 100% against it. It is not even hard to do this. Most people have little clue what they are talking about or why they even took a position on anything. But our brains are *very* good at rationalizing any choice and making you think you are the smartest person in the room. If you feed those rationalizations in the right way you can sway someone into an argument they would have taken the opposite position on earlier.

      I am 'ok' at spotting these things. But some (ok, many) slip by me. I spot them because I use these things to troll people. Oh and once someone knows it is a trick and they have been tricked? Oh boy stand back. Depending on how deeply they have convinced themselves they are right you may be in for a full on meltdown. They will pick some item you said and fixate on it. They will not let it go. They will ride it out to a maximal extremist view.

      I find it quite fascinating how people decide to do things. I even catch myself making decisions before I decide. Once you 'see' it you notice it all the time (it is kind of disconcerting). If you can guide someone before they rationalize it you can get them do many different things. Once the rationalization is done though you have to basically 'reset' them in some way. Usually by creating a conflict in their logic. That will not be done with facts and figures. But with emotional responses. Real con men they know exactly how to do these things. They practice and help each other out. Basically the tricks of the trade. Some tricks are naive. Some are actually semi sophisticated with a few layers. With each layer meant to reinforce your emotional biases towards a goal. All the while stroking a particular emotion to provoke a response.

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday June 09 2018, @02:06AM

      by HiThere (866) on Saturday June 09 2018, @02:06AM (#690634) Journal

      That's not the entire story. The other part is that generally the negative payoff for not being successful is less than the positive payoff for being successful.

      It an individual finds that above paragraph isn't true, they go into a different line of work.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by aristarchus on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:02AM (8 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:02AM (#690601) Journal

    This is one where you really need to read the Fine Article.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09 2018, @02:26AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09 2018, @02:26AM (#690644)

      Can you give me the Cliff Notes version of why homosexual men are evil this time?

      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Saturday June 09 2018, @05:33AM (1 child)

        by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday June 09 2018, @05:33AM (#690693) Journal

        OK, I'll give it a shot. You see, men are men, and if men are not men, then there is really nothing for them to be. It is curious that my source for this Fine Article is at the moment caught up in a contentious debate between a trans- (something), and a TERF. But the contested issue is whether or not gender is biologically determined or socially constructed. A bit too much nuance for the average weekend SoylentNews crowd, but I think we can handle it.

        The Fine Article, however, is not about that at all, it is about the Copenhagen interpretation of the quantum physics, with its idea that there is not natural gender, and that phenomena are theory-dependent (contra Einstein), and the Ashtray lobbing Thomas Kuhn, with his idea that science is done in a particular "paradigm", and more importantly that shifts in scientific paradigms are not rational. So the topic of whether gender, and thus orientation, and ultimately Kurenai, are real, are tangentially related.

        I was waiting, and am still waiting, for someone, possibly Gaaark? To read the full article, so we could have one of janrinock's "intellectual discussions". If we ever do, my one comment might be, "What we have here is another naive realist, scared of reason that comprehends itself." But then, I like Hegel. If only he was Greek.

        Let me know if this fell off the Cliff, instead of being Notes.

        • (Score: 1) by fritsd on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:32PM

          by fritsd (4586) on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:32PM (#690764) Journal

          Hegel's writing style is much too longwinded for me to understand properly.

          And I've got a bad cold and it's my weekend.

          But I'll read TFA, on your recommendation.

    • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:57PM

      by fritsd (4586) on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:57PM (#690789) Journal

      About that paragraph about the collapse of the wavefunction:

      OK suppose you jus tdescribe it as a particle in the one-slit experiment. Say, an electron. Easy.

      But there was also another experiment from 1927, the double slit experiment [wikipedia.org], and that gives much more interesting results.

      suppose that the flow of electrons towards the slits is so low, that it is probable that almost all of the time, only one electron reaches a slit. (this wasn't mentioned in the Wiki page).

      Then it diffracts, but WHY does this diffraction pattern look like it is influenced bye the wavefunction of another electron passing the OTHER slit AT THE SAME TIME, which ISN't THERE?

      If you assume they're particles then you can make things extra bright on the measurement detector side, but you can't make things extra dark ("hey now we see where the electrons end up with the one slit on the left open, now I'm going to open the slit on the right, and then there will be LESS electrons landing on some special locations behind the left slit WTF??"), it only functions if the electrons behave like waves part of the time, so their wavefunctions interfere.

      I have no qualms about imagining an orbital (multiplied by its Hermitian adjoint [wikipedia.org]) as a probability density function of where is that electron now? , but I'm glad that chemists did a basis transformation so that the orbital wavefunction is at least constructed from real spherical harmonics [wikipedia.org] and not imaginary numbers, what does that even mean?

      Even if you only have to use the theory, developed by much cleverererer people than you, it helps if occasionally the theory seems understandable.

      Funny that this is maths from 1782. Still doesn't really get taught in schools, though. Probably requires too much background knowledge.

    • (Score: 2) by tfried on Monday June 11 2018, @08:32PM (1 child)

      by tfried (5534) on Monday June 11 2018, @08:32PM (#691587)

      What I find somewhat baffling is how the reviewer

      a) sides with Becker in calling out Bohr and friends for monopolizing the discussion on the interpretation of quantum physics, utilizing unfair tactics, and in spite of the availability of superior counter-arguments
      b) sides with Morris in ridiculing Kuhn for pointing out that science tends to work exactly as in a).

      Ok, actually, Kuhn is more radical in claiming that science cannot work any other way than a), and it's ok to take issue with that. But the combination of a) and b) in one review just strikes me as - remarkable.

      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Tuesday June 12 2018, @12:28AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Tuesday June 12 2018, @12:28AM (#691685) Journal

        Something like "gotcha" history of science? The interpretation of Einstein's objections is the key, I think. The idea, quite acceptable to Phenomenologists and any decent Kantian, that ultimate reality is not accessible to human cognition is what really bothers the reviewer. Then there is no way to apply a correspondence theory of truth to scientific theory, and so we are left with nothing but paradigms, political correctness, or for the Hegelians, integrity and coherence. But it is hardly unusual to see someone criticize a position for its use of irrational means, and then turn right around and use the same means!

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday June 12 2018, @05:15PM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 12 2018, @05:15PM (#692003) Homepage Journal

      it is paradoxical to accept one's own folly

      "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
      F. Scott Fitzgerald

      Some of humanity has progressed since ancient - uhhh - Babylon? Judea? Phonicia? Memphis? WTF did you claim to be from?

      --
      Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Tuesday June 12 2018, @08:00PM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Tuesday June 12 2018, @08:00PM (#692086) Journal

        Some of humanity

        ]
        And some Soylentils have not read the Fine Article! Texarchaena? Ville of Nash? Microlithos? Hope?

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:33AM (3 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday June 09 2018, @12:33AM (#690611)

    In this respect, humans are unique in the animal kingdom.

    Insofar as most humans know. The animal and plant kindgoms are full of guile, deceit, trickery, intimidation and unbalanced partnerships. That the author cannot understand how these "human" relationships such as:

    duped by liars and conned by frauds; manipulated by rhetoric and beguiled by self-regard; browbeaten, cajoled, seduced, intimidated, flattered, wheedled, inveigled, and ensnared.

    are similarly, and even more dramatically, demonstrated in non-human animal to animal relationships is more a testament to the author's simple ignorance than any lack of complexity in the behavior of other animals.

    --
    Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/878601.html Слава Україні 🌻
    • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:32AM (2 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:32AM (#690620) Journal

      So, then, we are not going to get to the quantum physics, are we? And thus never to the underlying philosophical controversy. Read a bit further to find out what the author is claiming is the fraud.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:59AM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:59AM (#690631)

        the underlying philosophical controversy.

        You mean politics and showmanship vs logical proof and verifiable, measurable facts? That goes on in the non-human animal kingdom as well - though I must admit, within our limited understanding, we seem to have built it to a much higher level than anything we have been able to understand of non-human social interactions.

        It's 10pm, and I have 6 hours of things I want to do before I get to sleep at 11, so the rest of the story will wait for me - perhaps forever, but certainly at least until tomorrow.

        --
        Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/878601.html Слава Україні 🌻
      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09 2018, @02:36AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09 2018, @02:36AM (#690646)

        Ah, quantum physics is why homosexual men are evil. Or maybe homosexual men are the reason there aren't any women quantum physicists?

        Or maybe it was incels that made 53% of white women vote for Trump? Must be homosexual incels who have had 8-10 sexual partners who are destroying this country.

        I'll tell you, incels with upwards of 8 sexual partners are a menace. Especially at once. But I think they just call than an anime convention.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:55AM

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 09 2018, @01:55AM (#690630) Journal

    Aristarchus posted something I want to read (when i have time) and maybe have to look into?

    What. is. going. on?

    Thanks, Ari! :)

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday June 09 2018, @11:13AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 09 2018, @11:13AM (#690744) Journal

    You cannot at the same time believe something and recognize that you are a mug to believe it.

    What if you believe I'm a mug to believe just that? Then you certainly can recognize that you are a mug to believe it.

    Proof:

    Either you're right to believe it, or you're wrong to believe it.

    If you're wrong, you're obviously a mug for believing it.

    But if you're right, then again you're a mug for believing it, because, after all, that's what you're right to believe.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
(1)