Quick Hits (part II)

1) It’s been 60 years since the Russian dog, Laika, went into space.

2) Trendiest parenting fears of 2017.

3) This interview on “why we pretend to know things” is really, really good.

Sean Illing
I’m trying to think about all of this in terms of our political circumstances. Most of us don’t understand as much as we think, and yet we’re all cocksure about a range of issues. So when we are arguing about politics, what are we really arguing about? Is it about getting it right or is it about preserving our sense of rightness?

Steven Sloman
I’m not sure there’s a sharp distinction between wanting to get it right and wanting to preserve our sense of rightness. In the political domain, like most domains in which we don’t just hear or see what’s true, we rely on social consensus. So argument is about trying to convince others while we’re trying to convince ourselves. Getting it right essentially means we’re convinced.

Of course, we’re biased to preserve our sense of rightness, but we have to be. If we weren’t, we’d be starting again each time we approached an issue; our previous arguments would be for naught.

Nevertheless, people differ on this. Everyone has a compulsion to be right, meaning that they want the people around them to think they’re right, and this is easily achieved by mouthing the things that the people around you say. And people who are more capable tend to be better at finding ways to interpret new facts in line with their community’s preconceptions.

But some people do try to rise above the crowd: to verify claims independently, to give fair hearing to others’ claims, and to follow the data where it actually leads. In fact, many people are trained to do that: scientists, judges, forensic investigators, physicians, etc. That doesn’t mean they always do (and they don’t always), just that they’re supposed to try. [I’m going to assume he means social scientists in that, too]

I like to live in communities that put a premium on getting things right even when they fly in the face of social norms. This means living with constant tension, but it’s worth it.

4) Wonkette with my favorite take on the Donna Brazile “rigged” election silliness.  On the bright side, when liberals whine about the “rigged” election, that’s a great shortcut to know I need not take them intellectually seriously.

5) HB2 continues to haunt NC.

6) When mean videos make it past the YouTube filters for kids.

7) How Fox News covered the Manafort indictment.  Surprise– not well.

8) So, we know vaccines don’t cause autism, but we still don’t really know what does other than “it’s complicated.”  Oh, yeah, and Fragile X and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

9) Britain’s National Health Service trying to incentive losing weight and quitting smoking before access to routine surgery.

10) The college kids taking on the twitter bots.

11) An Iowa teenager scapegoated for the problems with the ACA marketplace and what really caused the problems.

12) Nice profile of John Kasich.

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