Steven Pinker explains the cognitive biases we all suffer from and how they can short-circuit rational thinking and lead us into believing stupid things. Skip to 12:15 to bypass the preamble.

  • IninewCrow
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    1 month ago

    In my experience it’s just plain old greed.

    I have a lot of highly educated and very intelligent friends. The kind of people that can tell me a lot about things like art history, politics, science, physics and medicine. And almost all of them are conservative politically with a mindset that frames the world only for themselves.

    They show empathy but only in the immediate circumstance. They will be kind open and caring and honest with someone in person at the moment. But get them to have a conversation about their feelings about wealth inequality and they cringe at the thought of giving up a penny for anyone.

    • acosmichippo@lemmy.worldM
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      1 month ago

      There is that for sure, but “smart people believing stupid things” occurs outside the political/economic realms as well.

      • IninewCrow
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        1 month ago

        I have seen my share of book smart university educated people doing absolutely stupid things.

    • streetlights@lemmy.worldOP
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      1 month ago

      Greed certainly influences a lot of behaviour that we’d otherwise consider…questionable.

      Do you tend to find they believe in conspiracy theories and nonsense that benefit them personally?

      • IninewCrow
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        1 month ago

        That’s the contradictory part … they are intelligent enough to see through the outlandish conspiracy theories and fringe fascist ideas but at the same time, they are the kind of people that wouldn’t mind if a more conservative or even fascist government took over if it meant they could pay less taxes or ‘get rid of the poor’.

        I remember once having a talk with a friend of mine with a great education in physics and science. He works in power generation as a major contractor making him a small millionaire. I talked to him about wealth equality once and he claimed that the work he does, he enjoys and doesn’t really do it for the money but to apply his knowledge and expertise. I suggested the idea of providing a wealth cap to the richest people in the world … to cap off wealth at $100 million and cut the person off from everything after and let them live their life to make way for others. He cringed at the thought and told me ‘but that would remove the incentive for anyone to do anything in any field. Why work all your life only to be stopped by a cultural limit to wealth?’. I reminded him about his comment about not working for the money … and our conversation became an exercise in complicated twisted logic to explain away why no one should be limited with their wealth. It ended by him casually, playfully but not directly referring to me as a communist.

        They represent the third of the population that would causally stand by and watch the world burn if it meant that it wouldn’t affect their wealth or position in life. They would rather watch a fascist third take over with authoritarian government, fight the bottom third … as long as no one bothered them.

        • streetlights@lemmy.worldOP
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          1 month ago

          That is not an unfamiliar experience, unfortunately. I often wonder if a significant portion of the population are just born without the ability to empathise, and they just hide it really well.

          • IninewCrow
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            1 month ago

            It’s partly just human nature. I’m a guilty of it and you are probably just as susceptible as anyone else.

            It’s easy to empathize for someone who needs help right in front of you. Most people would probably help a starving African who was dying of thirst and hunger right in front of them. Most people would give a dollar or two to some poor kid that asked for help in the slums of India if they were right there.

            But if you turn it into a casual conversation where the people involved are not in your immediate area, it’s a lot easier to dismiss, disregard, ignore and simplify the arguments about what should or shouldn’t be done.

            It’s a lot easier to be unsympathetic if the person or people you are talking about are in some far off place that might as well not exist to you.

            Multiply that logic about a billion times and everyone the world over has little to no care about any other individual on the other side of the planet … regardless of how intelligent they are.

            • streetlights@lemmy.worldOP
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              1 month ago

              Perhaps it’s the ability to abstract ‘empathy’ into a hypothetical or scenario that is non-local. For example, I’ve known anti-abortionists who were proud members of the movement until they themselves needed an abortion, and then suddenly, their entire philosophy of life does a one-eighty. Were they unable to imagine what it was like until they were in the middle of it?

              Is there a component of intelligence in being able to imagine yourself in situation you aren’t currently in and thus reason how you should treat someone else who is in that predicament?

              • IninewCrow
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                1 month ago

                Most people I find (and I’m often a victim of it myself) are selfish and isolated.

                Most people see the world and the universe as a place that exists for them … they have a hard time accepting that they are just a small part of the universe. To think of yourself so humbly accepts the fact that you don’t matter that much to the universe and most people don’t like that idea.

                It’s that while modern philosophy of individualism and that you are the creator and manager of your own world.

                  • IninewCrow
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                    1 month ago

                    Time … and I don’t mean waiting a few years for some grand revolutionary way of thinking.

                    I mean evolutionary time scales of hundreds or even thousands of years for our species to evolve away from our cave man prehistoric mentalities.

                    When you graph out the age of our current species, we are closer to our prehistoric ancestors than we like to think. We are still a developing species that is built more for survival and aggression than as a modern technologically advanced society.

                    I have an old friend of mine who puts it more simply as “we are just monkeys driving cars”

                    The answer is time … a lot of time … for us to grow out of our old mentalities. Hopefully we can have that time.