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Re: [evol-psych] Misuse of the word 'belief'

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  • Jay R. Feierman
    Beliefs can be viewed as culturally implanted, cognitive or perceptual, units of information (that which is necessary to make decisions). Under natural
    Message 1 of 47 , Sep 3, 2006
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      Beliefs can be viewed as culturally implanted, cognitive or perceptual, units of information (that which is necessary to make decisions). Under natural conditions beliefs are more likely than not to adaptively bias perceptual proclivities and behavior. Humans are more vulnerable to certain general categories of beliefs than others, most likely based on species-characteristic, innate perceptual and behavioral needs. Holding certain beliefs facilitates the execution of certain perceptual proclivities and behaviors. As a result, the behavior (voting, praying/giving, buying) of believing individuals can be manipulated by politicians, religionists and other marketers by implanting need-fulfilling beliefs. Biology generates the general need and then each society (culture) generates a specific content to fulfill the general need. Because most culturally acquired, specific beliefs, which are fulfilling general needs, make one feel better, beliefs can adaptively bias perceptual proclivities and behavior, even in the absence of credible evidence that the belief is true, forming the basis for the old adage, "people would rather believe than know." People do what makes them feel better and they "believe" what makes them feel better so it can adaptively bias their behavior. The usefulness of information is rarely a measure of its truth in Biology in general and human Biology in particular, except if one is a mathematician or scientist. In the case of beliefs, if doing or believing what makes one feel better leads to the adaptive modification of perceptual proclivities and behavior, then the neural structures which allow beliefs to be acquired and which hold them will evolve by natural selection. "More likely than not" and "most", which are the underlined words above, are enough to allow the mechanism by which beliefs are acquired and held to have evolved by natural selection.
       
      Regards,
      Jay R. Feierman
       
       
       
       
    • Rick O'Gorman
      Isn t it amazing how any mention of IQ/race spins off into the same old debate? Anyway, back from a week s respite from all of this, I just wanted to say I am
      Message 47 of 47 , Sep 8, 2006
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        Isn't it amazing how any mention of IQ/race spins off into the same old debate?

        Anyway, back from a week's respite from all of this, I just wanted to
        say I am quite happy to use "race realist" as a label for those who
        argue that there are IQ differences in races due to genetics.
        "Racialist" was a tad shorter but I think debates go better when the
        labels for different camps are not pejorative.

        I disagree with Irwin's suggestion for no labels: Firstly, there are
        usually certain core positions in debates that can be captured with a
        label for that position. The trouble starts when the labels for each
        camp are invented by the opposing camp and then misrepresent what each is arguing. I realise that none of us like to be pigeon-holed on these matters, because we all are likely to have more nuanced positions that differ from the cores. However, and this is my second reason for disagreeing, I remain as yet (despite flirtations to change) a two-fingered keyboard pecker. Anything to shorten repetitive clauses is welcome. ;)

        --
        Rick O'Gorman, PhD
        Research Associate
        Department of Psychology
        Keynes College
        University of Kent
        Canterbury CT2 7NP
        UK

        Phone: 01227 827374
        Fax: 01227 827030

        http://www.kent.ac.uk/psychology/department/people/o%27gormanr/

        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
        --Juvenal

        J.K. Niemelä wrote:
        > Dear all,
        >
        > What seems to be the case here is the same old "good guys" versus "the
        > bad guys". Ever since Arthur R. Jensen's 1969 Harvard Educational
        > Review article "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Aptitude?"
        > those who have accepted the possibility of a genetic component in the
        > population differences in IQ have been slandered and sometimes even
        > physically attacked (e.g. Eysenck and Jensen). So there's nothing
        > surprising whatsoever in the euphemisms for "racist". To be labeled as
        > "racialist", "racial bigot", "far-right conservative" etc., all you
        > have to do is to accept the between-group heritability of IQ and the
        > existence of human races. BTW, "race realists" (sorry, Joao!) in turn
        > call the ever-ad-hoc-oriented critique of their realism as
        > "PC-fascism".
        >
        > Finally, I think Irwin has a very good point. As Irwin says, I don't
        > think calling names is the answer.
        >
        > Best Wishes,
        > Jussi
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