Category Archives: psychology

Moral Realism

Sean Carroll has taken issue with Richard Carrier over the latter’s position on Moral Realism. On reading Carrier  I think that his real point is (or should be) that realism and relativism are not in conflict. Moral values, like the economic … Continue reading

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“The Belief Instinct”

Jesse Bering’s “The Belief Instinct” is described as an exploration of possible sources of religion in cognitive tendencies towards a sense of being observed even when we have no evidence for it. To support this idea he reportedly both cites … Continue reading

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The Chinese Room

Stephen Downes links to this notice about three free Philosophy courses from John Searle who is famous for his Chinese Room thought experiment.  Now Searle may be a great teacher, and the ‘Chinese Room’ may be a useful paedagogical device, … Continue reading

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Selfish Altruism

‘Psychological Altruism’ is just a special case of ‘Biological Altruism’ and the “gene” for either is the most selfish of all. Of course the concept of genes for actual characteristics all being in one-to-one correspondence with discrete sequences of DNA … Continue reading

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Brain Scans as Lie Detectors

BBC News – Brain scans being misused as lie detectors, experts say. And of course those who claim to interpret the scans will also call themselves experts. (Which leads us off to another conversation entirely) I am troubled by the … Continue reading

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Getting Smarter

This article shares some of my own reaction to the “internet is making us dumber” nonsense, as well as commenting on other possible sources of increasing global intelligence.

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Is Mental Causation a Problem?

Stephen Downes points to this review by Sara Worley in NotreDame Philosophical Review of the book ‘Mental Causation’ by Anthony Dardis, and he (Stephen) concludes with this: “The main takeaway? This nice neat picture of ‘A causes B’ is deeply … Continue reading

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I Google, therefore I Don’t Think

My friend Gerry Pareja sent this article by John Naughton from The Observer, responding (I think very well) to Nicholas Carr’s ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?‘ in The Atlantic, but I can’t say that its arrival is what distracted me … Continue reading

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Hedonic Man

Hedonic Man is the title of a review by Alan Wolfe of two books on the “new economics”. Like Wolfe (and probably countless others) I am sure that the science of economics is sorely lacking, but also like him I … Continue reading

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Leaning Tower Illusion

My friend Gerry Pareja forwarded a link to this story from ‘Improbable Research’ about the first prize winner in the Neural Correlate Society’s 2007 Illusion of the Year contest. The image certainly is pretty cool. But to test the explanation … Continue reading

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An Orthogonal Trajectory

Light and Dark These words (used in the previous post) need exploring. We are not nocturnally well adapted so naturally fear the dark. This leads to much weight being attached to the words and makes their metaphorical use a powerful … Continue reading

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The DNA of Religious Faith

David Barash reviews some theories of religion in an article in The Chronicle: 4/20/2007

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Faces Just 6 Pixels Wide

This post by Stephen Downes presents an interesting link, but I don’t agree that it supports his thesis about human reasoning. Pattern recognition at this level is characteristic of many species and devices, and it’s a capability that is probably … Continue reading

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