How can people be so different?
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06-02-2013, 04:31 PM
How can people be so different?
In the evolutionary sense we have the same computer hardware in our heads. The programming however is vastly different. Yet, you would expect, at least in the same cultural/geographical/linguistic context, to find a large overlap: convictions that people share and agree about.

Yet, based on my 12 years experience of posting on forums, people are vastly different from each other: holding diametrically opposite views with hardly any agreement at all. Critical issues like social organization (Socialism or Capitalism), Justice (death penalty or not), foreign policy (policeman of the world versus international bully), sexual orientation (perversion versus natural), religion (final truth versus delusion) etc., etc, have
champions proposing fundamentally contradicting attitudes.

In science, it is very rare that responsible scientists would COMPLETELY disagree with each other. Usually they have a large overlap: the established bulk of science -- they would disagree with each other concerning some details or some new ideas not verified yet.

Ordinary (non-scientist) people however like extreme and antagonistic positions and don't seek out common ground with each other.

I wonder if anyone could explain it to me why?

After all, we are all people - scientists and laymen alike?
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06-02-2013, 04:42 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
It's complicated, but I think that is fundamentally because scientists have a set of thinking rules that prevent them from disagreeing about proven things (scientific method), on the other hand, we laymen don't have to follow this rules so we don't have guidelines for thinking so we're like in a dark room trying to find an exit, we end up colliding with each other

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06-02-2013, 04:45 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:42 PM)nach_in Wrote:  we laymen don't have to follow this rules so we don't have guidelines for thinking
Maybe it is the fault of the education system.

These 'rules' of thinking should be on the top of curriculum from the kindergarten on.

I call it the rules of "Critical Thinking".

It is all about asking the right questions and insisting on answers.

- how do you define it?
- is your definition based on reliable observation and logic?
- how do you know?
- what have you observed?
- how reliable are your sources?
- are there contradictions between these concepts?
- between a concept and your observations?
- what is the cause-and-effect chain?
- what happened before that?
- what happened after?
- is that the simplest explanation (Ockham's Razor)?
- What probability do you assign to it?
- What other reasonable explanation can you imagine?
- Is there a limit to human understanding?
- Are we mentally equipped to observe and understand ALL of reality?
- How small are we compared to infinite space and infinite time?
- How many times have we been lied to before by authorities in politics and in religion?

If you are in the habit of asking these questions, then you are less likely to hold simplistic, extreme views.
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06-02-2013, 04:50 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:31 PM)Zat Wrote:  In the evolutionary sense we have the same computer hardware in our heads. The programming however is vastly different. Yet, you would expect, at least in the same cultural/geographical/linguistic context, to find a large overlap: convictions that people share and agree about.

Yet, based on my 12 years experience of posting on forums, people are vastly different from each other: holding diametrically opposite views with hardly any agreement at all. Critical issues like social organization (Socialism or Capitalism), Justice (death penalty or not), foreign policy (policeman of the world versus international bully), sexual orientation (perversion versus natural), religion (final truth versus delusion) etc., etc, have
champions proposing fundamentally contradicting attitudes.

In science, it is very rare that responsible scientists would COMPLETELY disagree with each other. Usually they have a large overlap: the established bulk of science -- they would disagree with each other concerning some details or some new ideas not verified yet.

Ordinary (non-scientist) people however like extreme and antagonistic positions and don't seek out common ground with each other.

I wonder if anyone could explain it to me why?

After all, we are all people - scientists and laymen alike?
I think you really need to distinguish between the hard and the soft sciences.

I don't know that non science people are quite as you seem to suggest.

Some philosophers are heavy into maths and logic while others look more to history, linguistics, and metaphysics.

It is a shame that our feelings and empathies seem all over the place.
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06-02-2013, 04:54 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:45 PM)Zat Wrote:  
(06-02-2013 04:42 PM)nach_in Wrote:  we laymen don't have to follow this rules so we don't have guidelines for thinking
Maybe it is the fault of the education system.

These 'rules' of thinking should be on the top of curriculum from the kindergarten on.

I call it the rules of "Critical Thinking".

It is all about asking the right questions and insisting on answers.

- how do you define it?
- is your definition based on reliable observation and logic?
- how do you know?
- what have you observed?
- how reliable are your sources?
- are there contradictions between these concepts?
- between a concept and your observations?
- what is the cause-and-effect chain?
- what happened before that?
- what happened after?
- is that the simplest explanation (Ockham's Razor)?
- What probability do you assign to it?
- What other reasonable explanation can you imagine?
- Is there a limit to human understanding?
- Are we mentally equipped to observe and understand ALL of reality?
- How small are we compared to infinite space and infinite time?
- How many times have we been lied to before by authorities in politics and in religion?

If you are in the habit of asking these questions, then you are less likely to hold simplistic, extreme views.
I agree with that, but I think it's not enough. Those things usually work really well with simple things, that's why science advances slowly, one simple question at a time, and with time it ends up explaining a lot.
But there're complex things that can't be easily approached like that, why does crime exist? what causes people to discriminate? how can we make a good economic system that solves all our material problems?
Those things are so complex that can't be solved with simple questions, some of those things even change when we find an answer (like crime for instance, it adapts constantly).

So for that we need different ways of thinking, of course critical thinking is a basic pillar to make any kind of improvement, but I doubt it's enough.

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06-02-2013, 04:55 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:50 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  I think you really need to distinguish between the hard and the soft sciences.

I don't know that non science people are quite as you seem to suggest.
Yet, at the bottom line, we are all human beings, with our limited lifespan on this planet, most of us wanting to survive.

What I don't understand is: why people don't have that desire, that irresistable compulsion, to make sure that they know the truth?

I had had that compulsion from my earliest years I remember, long before I became a scientist.

That is why I became a scientist.

Don't people want to make sure that they are right in their opinion?

Their life my depend on it some day.

That is what I don't understand.
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06-02-2013, 04:58 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:54 PM)nach_in Wrote:  But there're complex things that can't be easily approached like that, why does crime exist? what causes people to discriminate? how can we make a good economic system that solves all our material problems? Those things are so complex that can't be solved with simple questions...
That is where I disagree.

Solutions to social problems are simple and obvious.

You just have to get outside the box, stop trying to tweak existing systems and build solutions up from facts, basic principles and solid logic.
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06-02-2013, 05:56 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:58 PM)Zat Wrote:  
(06-02-2013 04:54 PM)nach_in Wrote:  But there're complex things that can't be easily approached like that, why does crime exist? what causes people to discriminate? how can we make a good economic system that solves all our material problems? Those things are so complex that can't be solved with simple questions...
That is where I disagree.

Solutions to social problems are simple and obvious.

You just have to get outside the box, stop trying to tweak existing systems and build solutions up from facts, basic principles and solid logic.
If you have to think outside the box maybe it's not that simple and obvious.
I'm not saying it must be a complex answer, I'm saying there're not simple questions for those problems. A solution might be simple, but it has to take into account a lot of elements and relations, and basic principles and logic doesn't always solve every problem.
Take neuroscience for example. We know and understand basically how the brain works, but we don't have solutions for a vast set of diseases, maybe the cure for those things are simple pills, but we can't know that for sure right now.

With social stuff is very similar, logic can help us of course, but it can't solve everything, there's a creative element in the process to find a way to know what is the best course of action and how to take it, and in that point people start to disagree.

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06-02-2013, 06:14 PM
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 04:31 PM)Zat Wrote:  Yet, based on my 12 years experience of posting on forums, people are vastly different from each other: holding diametrically opposite views with hardly any agreement at all. Critical issues like social organization (Socialism or Capitalism), Justice (death penalty or not), foreign policy (policeman of the world versus international bully), sexual orientation (perversion versus natural), religion (final truth versus delusion) etc., etc, have
champions proposing fundamentally contradicting attitudes.
As for laymen, you seems to be leaving out the smaller social groups within a larger culture, which may be at least somewhat more homogenous. Then you have to figure in the exact environment they were raised in, what they were exposed to, what things and ideas they value, and so on.
Quote: What I don't understand is: why people don't have that desire, that
irresistable compulsion, to make sure that they know the truth?
This bugged me forever, too. What I have concluded is they don't give a flying shit about truth. I figure that, in an evolutionary sense, truth (and logical thinking) didn't matter much most of the time, and that social status and approval, us/them, ingroup/outgroup, was more important. And for many, it is still. People don't like to give up their sense of belonging for a search for objective truth most of the time, IMO. (That is, if the truth the find contradicts with the group's ideas, they will lose status/acceptance/belonging).
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06-02-2013, 06:53 PM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2013 09:20 PM by Zat.)
RE: How can people be so different?
(06-02-2013 05:56 PM)nach_in Wrote:  With social stuff is very similar, logic can help us of course, but it can't solve everything, there's a creative element in the process to find a way to know what is the best course of action and how to take it, and in that point people start to disagree.
We have to differentiate between two things:

a./ knowing the truth
b./ finding "the best course of action"

I was talking about a./ -- people's professed convictions about how they think things are.

And, to this area, the list of critical thinking questions I listed earlier does apply.

Except most people never think of applying them and they don't seem to be bothered by harboring glaring contradictions in their own heads, conveniently obscured by compartmentalization (like religion and science in the same head). Another example: many conservatives preach the sanctity of life, try to prevent abortion and euthanasia, while supporting the death penalty and sending young people abroad, by the hundreds of thousands, to kill and be killed. And they don't seem to think that their heads are full of contradictions.
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