Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Rationally Held View of Humans

I borrowed this quote from here.
It appears, therefore, that a swarm's scout bees do something sharply different from what humans do to reach a full agreement in a debate.  Both bees and humans need a group's members to avoid stubbornly supporting their first view, but whereas we humans will usually (and sensibly) give up on a position only after we have learned of a better one, the bees will stop supporting a position automatically.
I do not think that is true at all. Humans rarely give up on their positions*, and are frequently selectively skeptical or easily convinced by data that either confronts or confirms their stubbornly supported first view. 

This is a good short survey pointing to a couple studies of how humans really behave that includes a great quote on this subject by Bertrand Russell:

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.
My own favorite quote on this is from Max Planck:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

You can just feel the ire.

* Positions, such as this human's view of how humans behave regarding their positions.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to link to this: