Humans: Not Carved from Marble

I didn't down vote but I think its useful to quote from here:

When you believe things that are perceived as crazy and when you can't explain to people why you believe what you believe then the only result is that people will see you as "that crazy guy". They'll wonder, behind your back, why a smart person can have such stupid beliefs. Then they'll conclude that intelligence doesn't protect people against religion either so there's no point in trying to talk about it.

If you fail to conceal your low-status beliefs you'll be punished for it sociall

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I wrote a really long essay in response to your comment, but it became ranty. In that essay I painstakingly signaled my quite detailed understanding of the relevant social psychology and signaling games. Take it on faith that I am not "tone deaf". Nor am I exactly consciously-defecting against local norms of communication; it's more that I don't have the psychological-motivational resources necessary to go along with them despite knowing that they exist and that I am treading on people's toes by not following them. (The marginal external cost for... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘/CTRL+F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

Humans: Not Carved from Marble

by lukeprog 1 min read16th Aug 201114 comments


Michael Vassar has been known to say that humans are not 'corrupted' by heuristics and biases and other elements of modern psychology. Humans just are psychology.

Robert Kurzban puts this rather eloquently in his new book:

Michelangelo is famously quoted as saying, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." Some economists are, in some sense, like this. They start with theories in which agents - people - have some idealized, rational mind minus the stuff that economists carve away - thus we see terms like 'biases', 'heuristics', and 'irrationality'. They document departures from (supposed) perfection - rationality - much as a sculptor chips away marble, hoping that when they are done, human nature is left, like Michelangelo's angel.

I see no reason at all to proceed this way, as though human psychology is perfection minus shortcomings. My view, the modular view is more like clay than marble. Like sculptors who add bits of clay, one after another, until the product is done, natural selection added - and changed - different bits, giving rise to the final product. We'll get done with psychology not by chiseling away at human shortcomings, but by building up a catalog of human capacities working together - or in opposition - in various contexts.