Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cognitive biases and science - II   posted by Razib @ 5/26/2007 03:04:00 PM

The Science article, Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science, has now been re-packaged for Edge. I have read Paul Bloom's work before so none of this is surprising, though I would offer that he has the cognitive psychologist's bias, so to speak, of not addressing the impact of the variation of human intelligence on the ability of people to comprehend scientific concepts. Even if you can't reproduce all the findings of a given science, high IQ people often have a large database of facts they can cross-reference, a toolkit of rough & ready heuristics and raw analytic power through which concepts can be filtered. The less intelligent often can't make recourse to these cognitive faculties, so the power of authorities looms large and there must be an extra sensitive focus on their credibility. Interestingly, I've found that google actually makes stupid people even more efficiently stupid, they simply proceed to use the search engine to collect an enormous assemblage of moronic sources to reinforce their beliefs. Of course, there's the reality that smart people are often quite stupid outside of their knowledge domain, though eminence within their own field often results in self-deception as to the source of their beliefs outside of their area of expertise (i.e., they attribute their positions to reasoned analysis when in many cases they are simply expressing the beliefs of their social set).