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A fallacy folly

  1. Jul 10, 2012 #1
    Food for thought.

    5 logical fallacies that make you wrong more than you think.


    Now how does a scientist overcome his this desire to win while seeking the truth?
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  3. Jul 10, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    It takes discipline and humility.
    In fact - it is a fundamental humility in the scientific perspective.
    We don't always succeed. One of the tricks is to try to make winning the same as getting a simpler and more general model. Which is the closest we get to finding "the truth".
  4. Jul 10, 2012 #3


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    Hey Andre.

    I think the best way is to realize that failure is a part of discovery and growth as a human being regardless of the context. The minute people realize this, the whole idea of having to win all the time won't be as much of a focus as it was before.

    It's not that winning is bad, it's just that when it becomes the sole focus over everything else that it's bad. One can show examples of how pride brings down all sorts of people including those that should have known better but didn't.

    The real scientist will get over this pretty soon when things don't go quite as expected. I can't imagine anything better that does this for anyone whether its a scientist, athlete, entrepreneur or anyone for that matter involved in some kind of uncertainty/hard endeavor/other unknown attribute situation.
  5. Jul 10, 2012 #4


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  6. Jul 10, 2012 #5

    Simon Bridge

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  7. Jul 10, 2012 #6


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    Which would be failing to be hard-wired to have a double standard? :rofl:

    I'd say the article is mostly garbage, but that would only prove that facts don't change our mind. There's no way to win.

    There is some truth to the five facts they list, but the article is still entertainment that provides little real insight to any of those underlying facts. (I'm sick, sick, sick! Even when I try to be open minded, I just can't accept the truth of the facts in the article without some kind of hedge to diminish them!)
  8. Jul 10, 2012 #7
    I have not even stated anything so how can a question be a logical fallacy?
  9. Jul 10, 2012 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    Andre, you've been grinding the same old axe for quite a while here. So "I have not even stated anything" can only be read as "I have not even stated anything in this particular thread, despite having gone on and on about this in the past".
  10. Jul 17, 2012 #9
    Russ Waters, Vanadium 50,

    What is the point of PF, if you cannot discuss things?

    The link is an interesting one, with valid points for discussion.

    #5. We're Not Programmed to Seek "Truth," We're Programmed to "Win"

    #4. Our Brains Don't Understand Probability

    #3. We Think Everyone's Out to Get Us

    #2. We're Hard-Wired to Have a Double Standard

    #1. Facts Don't Change Our Minds

    with elaborations on each heading.

    I can address #1. If you come up with a new hypothesis that upsets a lifetime of work by another scientist or scientists, is it likely that they will welcome it? Ideally yes, but realistically, probably not. People have emotional attachments to their hypotheses.

    Please try to be more positive, and allow discussion to take place.
  11. Jul 17, 2012 #10

    Simon Bridge

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    These points have been discussed - what don't you understand?

    eg. In #1. sure people have their favorites ... however, as a discipline, we default to skepticism: especially when a result confirms our favorite ideas. The very framework for research is ideologically built on disproving our favorite ideas. Even so, we don't trust ourselves to be objective and do our work as part of a broader community of skeptics who challenge our ideas at every turn. In this way we can leverage the community to make up for any perceived human failings that may tempt us.

    It should be difficult to overthrow established science; facts, by themselves, shouldn't change our minds. Even so - established science has repeatedly been overthrown through history. It works.

    So you see - insofar as the list can be considered as valid - knowing about these problems means that we can come up with mechanisms to overcome them.
  12. Jul 17, 2012 #11
    Simon, my point is, the lack of openness to discussion if someone wants to discuss these points. You are not telling me anything I don't know, as I am PhD student in a scientific field. In practice, as a scientist, if you engage in controversial research, you are likely to be blacklisted, and may not be able to continue working in science. Clovis First is one of those hypotheses that you could not challenge. Now it has been overturned. So, there is plenty of room for discussion. It's not all cut and dried.
  13. Jul 17, 2012 #12
    Scientists don't have to overcome their desire to win while seeking the truth. The truth is great, but it's always taken a backseat to winning and always will. That's why we have bureaucracies with traditions like peer review and demands for empirical evidence so the scientists can focus on what is important: Winning. At one time that meant being able to prove the earth was flat so that's what scientists did.
  14. Jul 17, 2012 #13
    From Andre's link:

    There is a link in the first paragraph to a NY Times article about the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning, but if you click on it, it turns out you have to create an account and log in to read it. Not wanting to bother with that, I looked elsewhere.

    Googling, I found a separate site about The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning.


    It turns out the article Andre linked to completely misrepresents this theory. It does not assert we are hardwired to win at all costs to bully others, only that individuals are hardwired to produce arguments from confirmation bias. This, it turns out, is a good thing. In group reasoning the various confirmation biases function as a division of cognitive labor:

    The paper does not assert that people stick to their guns in order to win at all costs!

    Instead it asserts that argumentation often does produce change:

    Individuals reasoning alone unchecked by alternate possible views are the most likely to err in their reasoning, as are groups in which there's too much a priori agreement (groupthink). Exposure to alternate and opposing views is a good thing:

    It's not about winning, but testing for reliability. We are hardwired to test sources of information for reliability. All the confirmation biases people bring to the table are a test for the information source to overcome.

    From Andre's link:

    That's a completely corrupted interpretation of what the theory asserts. The theory asserts pretty much the opposite in fact, that reasoning and argumentation developed to protect us from being abused by lying and deception.
  15. Jul 17, 2012 #14


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    The honest answer is that the compulsion to win is not completely eliminated from academia. In fact, you get a lot of people who simply like to stand up in front of an audience and toot their horn. There's actually quite a bit of ego involved in academia, especially in the more prestigious schools.

    Of course, winning in academia, is being right so a false positive will only get you so far before it comes back to bite you in the arse, because everyone else you're competing with is going to call you out on it as soon as they discover the true positive.

    What's really interesting is when you have a controversy, and two different labs vying for their side of their story. It's kind of sad really, to see what goes on sometimes... confirmation bias, I think, is the big one.
  16. Jul 17, 2012 #15
    It's Cracked magazine, perhaps the name of the magazine will give you some clue as to its purpose.
  17. Jul 17, 2012 #16


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    I was wondering when someone would realize it's a spoof, like The Onion.
  18. Jul 17, 2012 #17


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  19. Jul 17, 2012 #18
    According to the National Science Foundation one in five Americans still believes the sun revolves around the earth. The whole point of Cracked magazine is to do spoofs like this and get them published in major news outlets and journals. To mock the whole system just as Conan O'brien has done twice now by simply recording an endless stream of news casters all spouting the exact same drivel and political rhetoric.
  20. Jul 17, 2012 #19


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  21. Jul 17, 2012 #20
    The intent is sardonic humor but not by spoof. The Onion outright invents humorous studies. Cracked mines real science for proof people are stupid, hypocritical, etc, not unlike the way you post news articles about people doing ridiculous things.

    In the case of The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning, the writer flat out read the theory all wrong. That is not the case with the other four 'logical fallacies' listed. If you click on the links you'll see Cracked did not grossly misrepresent them, just digested them to suit the message that 'people are idiots'.
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