Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Agnotology: The Surge - 12

How do we analyse judgment?
Some of the cases in my Agnotology 101 textbook are scenarios that tend to support the hypothesis of long-time geneticist Dr. E.M. McCarthy.

His hypothesis concerns the hybrid lineage originating as a gleam in the eye of LUCA I and LUCA II (not his name for them).

Dr. McCarthy says that we humans evolved from a tryst between the two (The Germ Theory - of Government - 8).

Whether that hypothesis will develop into a theory or not is in question, as his book was put on hold due to "publisher problems" when one of the peer reviewers became offended by his subject matter.

There is no doubt that Dr. McCarthy is an expert in the field of genetics relating to hybrids (ibid), however, even genetic hybrid history is like a movie with both good scenes and bad scenes (the "good" or the "bad" depending on the opinions of the audience watching the movie).

In some states, within the U.S., science and law are not always in sync or even in agreement.

That is a result, in today's case (see short video below), of political judgment or the lack thereof.

Again, depending on who is watching the movie.

When the development of a law, which is heavily involved with matters of science, is left to the political elite without meaningful resort to the scientific community, very strange results can evolve (again, see the video below about a law making it illegal for a woman to be impregnated with an animal embryo and vice versa).

Your future and mine are dependent upon those who make laws and decisions that impact the future.

Therefore, their view of the future is paramount, because it can affect generations of people (The Universal Smedley - 2, Viva Egypt - 2).

The book depicted at the top of today's post makes an attempt to discern the situation by testing opinions with some scientific rigor:
Expert Political Judgment” is not a work of media criticism. Tetlock is a psychologist—he teaches at Berkeley—and his conclusions are based on a long-term study that he began twenty years ago. He picked two hundred and eighty-four people who made their living “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends,” and he started asking them to assess the probability that various things would or would not come to pass, both in the areas of the world in which they specialized and in areas about which they were not expert. Would there be a nonviolent end to apartheid in South Africa? Would Gorbachev be ousted in a coup? Would the United States go to war in the Persian Gulf? Would Canada disintegrate? (Many experts believed that it would, on the ground that Quebec would succeed in seceding.) And so on. By the end of the study, in 2003, the experts had made 82,361 forecasts. Tetlock also asked questions designed to determine how they reached their judgments, how they reacted when their predictions proved to be wrong, how they evaluated new information that did not support their views, and how they assessed the probability that rival theories and predictions were accurate.

Tetlock got a statistical handle on his task by putting most of the forecasting questions into a “three possible futures” form. The respondents were asked to rate the probability of three alternative outcomes: the persistence of the status quo, more of something (political freedom, economic growth), or less of something (repression, recession). And he measured his experts on two dimensions: how good they were at guessing probabilities (did all the things they said had an x per cent chance of happening happen x per cent of the time?), and how accurate they were at predicting specific outcomes. The results were unimpressive. On the first scale, the experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned an equal probability to all three outcomes—if they had given each possible future a thirty-three-per-cent chance of occurring. Human beings who spend their lives studying the state of the world, in other words, are poorer forecasters than dart-throwing monkeys, who would have distributed their picks evenly over the three choices.
(New Yorker, "Everybody’s An Expert"). Politicians more and more tend to view their opinions as being above or better than those of the public.

That even though the growing tendency of politicians in our culture is to develop "knowledge" in the manner of belief and trust (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).

When this type of "personality" develops within a culture, the concept of "knowledge" inevitably suffers:
Here, we investigate one particular aspect of social cognition, namely, what we will call ‘‘political ideology,’’ by which we mean people’s self-placement on a dimension on which persons can be arrayed from left to right. Of course, every subfield in social science seems to have its own use of the word ‘‘ideology’’ (Eagleton, 1991); in following the conventional usage of public opinion research and political science we do not mean to deny the usefulness of other approaches (for some recent examples, see Larson, 2009; Prasad et al., 2009). Rather, we focus on that understanding that is in some ways the ‘‘ur-form’’ of social cognition—our sense of how we stand by others in an implicit social formation whose meaning is totally relational. At the same time, these self-conceptions seem to be of the greatest importance for the development of the polity and of civil society itself. Our question is, when citizens develop such a ‘‘political ideology,’’ what does this mean, and what do they do with it?
(Political Position and Social Knowledge, page 2). In the U.S. the scientific knowledge of more and more young and older people alike is waning.

We fall lower and lower in scientific ability, according to academic tests, compared to other industrial nations.

This is one of the ways that past societies have committed suicide (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3), so it is a matter of concern.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Church & State Hybrid Law:

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