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Unread June 29th, 2006, 10:54 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Default Re: The Political Brain - More Evidence of Evolved Psychology

Hi Tom, I don't want to overstate my case. It's just that we live in a society where left brain science is considered the only valid path to enlightenment. I see that view as a serious impediment. It's not that I don't appreciate the objective layers of reality that can become available through scientific pursuit. It's just that we don't understand how seriously un-objective that path actually is.

We are first of all, compelled to pursue scientific truth for emotional reasons - usually to do with identity. And that's good when the identity image we choose is actually to be an objective pursuer of truth - wherever it may lead. For many young scientists I'm sure that's the ideal.

The problem is that eventually scientists become even more strongly attached to some idea or concept that they then champion. Their fame and fortune becomes a product of the success of that idea - and they can no longer be the objective scientist they claimed to be - or imagined themselves to be.

Just like the political partisans in that study, they seek the emotional rewards of charting new territory by using their intellect to confirm (justify) their position. It becomes the window through which they see the world.

For JimB it seems to be the emergent network stuff - which seems a useful window - though I don't fully understand it. For me, it is seeing behavior as the result of the emotion-mediated process that I have described. (Although, I certainly don't consider myself a scientist, as JimB is.)

But, scientist or not, I believe that this is simply a result of being human. We are driven by emotion to do what we do. And we are driven to seek an emotional payoff for it. Our brains and our grasp of objective reality are tools for that purpose - nothing more. Our ability to uncover reality depends on how much our identity remains attached to that thankless ideal - a pursuit that must produce its own self-contained rewards.

Because it is so difficult for humans to achive that idealistic state, we fortunately have a peer review system that serves to correct the inherent errors our emotionally driven intellects are certain to produce. That and the nature of funding for research means that science is largely a competitive ego-saturated pursuit. Perhaps it's the best system that can be realized, based on human emotion, as it is.

But, just knowing that one's biases are sure to be quickly and ignobly exposed is a force for the better. If anything, scientific progress is much more the result of the design and healthy operation of that system, it seems, than to any particular scientist's intellect.

Just some thoughts.

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