Viewing entries tagged

On the Truth-Value of Techno-Optimism: the Case of US Farmers

The “truth-value” of a belief or proposition is the extent to which it is empirically justified, i.e., at least partly true. The “use-value” of a belief or proposition is the extent to which it serves a need or provides a benefit.

Psychologizing as a Way to Invalidate Other Points of View

Psychology is implicated in everything humans do, think and feel - as in all humans…. But “psychology” is not independent of reality. Things are rarely “in our heads” or “in the world”. Pointing out that a belief serves a psychological need (a “use-value”) says nothing about whether that belief is correct (it’s “truth-value”).

What is Power and Why Does It Feel So Good?

Being at the mercy of another person means feeling one cannot get away from them, because they have something one wants badly and that something is not readily available elsewhere.

Motivating Constructive Behavior: A Matter of Payoff, Markers of Progress, Doability, Consequences, and Less Attractive Alternatives

The program was funded by the city of Chester and had previously been managed by a local non-profit - rather poorly it would seem, given its dismal job placement and dropout rates. My employer - Associates for Research in Behavior - took over the city’s contract with the promise of improving outcomes by applying the principles of motivation to the business of training adult students. The main principles were: …

Connecting the "Is" of Human Nature to the "Ought" of Politics

“With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. ... Individualism will also be unselfish and unaffected.” Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism …“…conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectibility. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster, the conservative says: we are not made for perfect things. All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerable ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. By proper attention to prudent reform, we may preserve and improve this tolerable order.” Russell Kirk, Ten Conservative Principles

Is Moral Indignation a Necessary Emotion?

Of course, some people need to be punished as a way to deter further bad behavior and protect the rest of us. We can still savor the satisfaction of someone getting their “just desserts” without elevating what is essentially a vindictive emotion to a moral principle.

The Feeder Streams of Happiness

The feeder streams of happiness include:

  • Sense of control: you can actually change a situation

  • Sense of purpose: there are things you want to achieve

Personal Initiative and Happiness

Personal initiative is a proactive and goal-oriented mindset, characterized by long-term focus and persistence in the face of obstacles and setbacks.  Such a mindset is action-oriented, planful, and anticipatory: quickly turning goals into actions - with back-up plans ready just in case.

The Dark Side of Empathy

Empathy is also associated with ingroup bias and outgroup antagonism. One is more likely to feel the joys and sorrows of some people more than others, especially if they’re the same ethnicity.

Free Will and Decision-Making Machines

It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the idea of being a machine with free will. It would be easier if we expanded our understanding of machine and shrank our notion of free will.

In The Name of Science: Portraying The Other Side as Driven by Fear

According to this trope, the Fearful Conservative is afraid of change and uncertainty, clinging to the safe harbor of habit and tradition, overly controlled, troubled by bad dreams and distressed by disorder. In so many words: fear makes conservatives stupid. The authors usually bolster their case with a few studies and quotes from “experts”, which can be hard to refute if you don’t know what they’re leaving out - namely, evidence to the contrary.

Behind The Headlines: Are Conservatives Driven by Fear? Part II

One thing the articles and opinion pieces don’t mention is the decades of research on personality and political attitudes, covering tens of thousands of participants. And that research is, well, unequivocal: conservatism is not associated with anxiety or fear - it’s most strongly associated with Conscientiousness.

Behind the Headlines: Are Conservatives Driven by Fear? Part I

Azarian wrote a Psychology Today piece titled, “Fear and Anxiety Drive Conservatives' Political Attitudes” …he supported his claims with evidence from four studies. Luckily I was able to locate most of the original studies to see if his conclusions were reasonable. Here’s what I found…