Stories for Heretics and Social Ruffians

Common Biases in Science that Slow Progress to a Crawl

A look at some psychological handicaps shared by even the most intelligent scientists, by physicist Sabine Hossenfelder:

Take for example loss aversion. This is more commonly known as “throwing good money after bad”. It means that if we have invested time or money into something, we are reluctant to let go of it and continue to invest in it even if it no longer makes sense, because getting out would mean admitting to ourselves that we made a mistake. Loss aversion is one of the reasons scientists continue to work on research agendas that have long stopped being promising.

But the most problematic cognitive bias in science is social reinforcement, also known as group think. This is what happens in almost closed, likeminded, communities, if you have people reassuring each other that they are doing the right thing. They will develop a common narrative that is overly optimistic about their own research, and they will dismiss opinions from people outside their own community. Group think makes it basically impossible for researchers to identify their own mistakes and therefore stands in the way of the self-correction that is so essential for science.

A bias closely linked to social reinforcement is the shared information bias. This bias has the consequence that we are more likely to pay attention to information that is shared by many people we know, rather than to the information held by only few people. You can see right away how this is problematic for science: That’s because how many people know of a certain fact tells you nothing about whether that fact is correct or not. And whether some information is widely shared should not be a factor for evaluating its correctness. __

In fact, the greater the consensus and the higher the sense of urgency connected to a given hypothesis, the more likely it is to be wrong. Consensus and urgency are the stuff of religions and political crusades. Science is about falsifying claims, beliefs, and hypotheses.

“Renewable Energy” is Not Sustainable

Honest environmentalists are beginning to understand that much of what they thought they knew is a lie.

I think it’s natural that those of us who became active on climate change gravitated toward renewables. They seemed like a way to harmonize human society with the natural world. Collectively, we have been suffering from an appeal-to-nature fallacy no different from the one that leads us to buy products at the supermarket labeled “all natural.” But it’s high time that those of us who appointed ourselves Earth’s guardians should take a second look at the science, and start questioning the impacts of our actions.

Now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we really going to stand by and let them destroy it? __ Time Magazine’s “Hero of the Environment” Michael Schellenberger

What are You Thinking, Feeling, and Blind To?

The point of this profanity filled article is that most people are bumbling around in the dark — and spending most of their time distracting themselves so that they never understand their predicament.

And that sounds about right.

Blaming “Inequality” is Fashionable, But Wrong

Our elite overlords want us to blame all our problems on “inequality.” The next step they want us to take is to give them power over everything, because they say they are the only ones who can fix it. But smart people tend to view power-mongers with a cynical eye, and are reluctant to take opportunistic doomsayers at face value. We need dynamic growth, not the stagnant equality that the socialists want to force on us.

President John F. Kennedy famously quipped that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Obviously, that claim is somewhat hyperbolic; but even if growth cannot lift all boats all the time, it clearly lifts the most, and leaves the fewest stranded or sunk. In today’s context, stronger US growth has tightened the labor market, such that wages for low earners are rising faster than those of any other cohort. Unemployment is at a five-decade low, and at an all-time low for African-Americans and Hispanics. __

But only dynamic systems can give us hope, and dynamic systems always yield inequalities. The solution is to streamline the system to provide greater growth and greater turnover, and learn to live with a dynamic inequality.

Optimism is Out of Fashion, But May be Warranted Nonetheless For Some Things

Prime-age labor force participation rate (age 25 to 55) has been rising since a recent low in 2015. This measure allows young adults to go to college and older adults to retire early.

Employers added 266,000 jobs, the headline unemployment rate fell to 3.5%—the lowest since May 1969—and wages rose 3.1% y/y. The U6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers who haven’t sought jobs recently and those working part-time because they couldn’t find full time work, hit 6.9%, the second-lowest reading in its 25-year history. However you slice it, good news! __

In US, Small Businesses are Dynamic Core of Employment

55% of American workers are employed by small businesses. Brian Wang provides an interesting look at why the small business environment is so important in the US. The US small business picture is so dynamic that it is difficult for most people outside the US to understand how it works. It is even difficult for most leftists inside the US to understand how it works.

Get the Popcorn and Drinks, It’s Impeachment Time!

As soon as the Democratic Party took over the US House of Representatives in 2018, everyone knew that impeachment was coming. What is surprising is that everybody seems to be happy to see this dance move on to the US Senate — especially Donald Trump’s political supporters!

The CNN article below takes a realistic look at why the impeachment crusade is not hurting Donald Trump in the polls.

Donald Trump will be the third president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

And honestly, that’s just fine with Trump’s supporters. What better evidence is there that you’ve shaken Washington to its core when the minders of a system you’ve come to despise are leveling the gravest punishment the system permits against the very President who is doing the shaking up?

We can lawyer this to death, but for many Americans this comes down to a simple observation — Trump said he was going to rattle their cages, and by golly they seem rattled.

Trump’s supporters have known since election night that this day would eventually come. After all, his sworn enemies have been openly promising it since before he was sworn into office! They’ve used words like “resistance,” “coup,” “insurance policy,” and “impeachment” so often that, now that they are actually doing it, the American people — and Republicans especially — are offering a collective yawn.

Rueful analysts stare into television cameras, lamenting and wondering why Republicans aren’t fleeing from the President over the impeachment hearings (he stands at 90% approval among his party in the latest Gallup poll). But there won’t be massive convulsions in public opinion because everyone has known for three years what was going to happen. __

Trump continues to do what he said he would do: Streamline government, drain the swamp, build the wall, appoint constitutionalist judges, hold US trading partners’ feet to the fire, re-evaluate treaties with foreign powers in light of what is beneficial to the US — not by what is fashionable to self-appointed elitist overlords of media, academia, the deep state, and the mega-moneyed classes.

Everything You Believe is a Lie

This might be a good time to review a previous article: “Essential Thinking Skills for Dangerous Children.” Dangerous Children © are dangerous for many reasons, one of which is because they understand myriad ways that their own minds can be misled. And so they learn ways to guard against these common weaknesses.

Dangerous Children © are heretics and may also be social ruffians — unwilling to go along with the crowd just to be going along. If you are going to choose that way of being, you had best try to keep up with things — from an uncommon point of view. If you know too many people who seem to believe the same way that you do, it may be time to change.

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3 Responses to Stories for Heretics and Social Ruffians

  1. RonM says:

    There is one major problem with renewable and that it is a dead end power source. You can’t built the next wind turbine and Solar panel with the energy from Wind and Solar. You need to use, what I call Super Concentrated Solar Power made by Nature (COAL)!

  2. Gray Liddell says:

    Schellenberger’s point about renewables in the Quillette article was they take up too much space to be practical enough to replace the concentrated energy of oil, coal, or gas. He advocated nuclear as the way to go to replace fossil.
    Nuclear is highly concentrated energy and the newer nuke plants are smaller and safer.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Yes, but his point was even stronger than that. Not only are they unworkable and impractical, but they are downright destructive and lend to catastrophic instabilities and losses. It is not merely an economic choice, but it is also a deeply moral one.

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