There is a wonderful aphorism credited to Albert Einstein – ‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’. He didn’t necessarily say it, but it’s something he could have said. And it sums up one of … More Failing to escape the tyranny of twentieth century thinking – the junk science of psychology
There is an old adage about letting things go; if you deserve them, they’ll come back. It’s been duly satirised. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it’. To me that’s insightful about the human condition as the original. And the message is simple – … More The most powerful emotion humans have is…
The idea that humans are, in truth, psychotic apes who would brutally smash each other were it not for the thin trappings of culture has long been a sci-fi staple, and with reason. What would happen if, say, culture was suddenly stripped from a group of kids? To William Golding the answer was simple; the … More Are we just psychotic apes, or are we human?
A commenter on one of my older – but relentlessly popular – technical posts about battleship design got a bit exercised the other week when I suggested a particular naval source book was ‘partisan’. He was determined to assert his absolute view over what he supposed mine to be – finally informing me I was … More The key to human understanding is abstraction
I posted a while back on the fact that ‘psychology’ isn’t proper science, still less a valid way of understanding the human condition. To me, the problem is summed up by where ‘psychology’ was taken by one of its pioneers, Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957). Reich, like his teacher Sigsmund Freud, thought everybody was psychologically defective – it was only a matter of degree … More How Wilhelm Reich showed that ‘psychology’ is scientific woo woo
It always intrigues me how humans tend to imagine matters of opinion to be empirically true – as if matters of fact – even when they are not. It’s a cognitive issue, one that I suspect is linked to the way some people validate themselves. And it leads to a logical disconnect, a favourite of … More When the conclusion doesn’t follow the premise it’s called – stupidity?
I need to tell you about a cognitive bias that keeps cropping up. It’s a very human thing. And – as a species – we keep tripping over it. What I’m on about is a form of attribution bias, as applied to groups: the supposition that the behaviour or attitudes of a few reflects the … More One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel, does it