Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summary and Preview of This Blog 20

We are now flying straight and level at sixty thousand feet on afterburner at Mach 2.3. If you look outside the aircraft, you will see the dull red glow of the wings. Even at this altitude of thin air, the aircraft is moving so fast that the friction of the wings against the air causes them to glow red with heat.

Let's take a time out to look at where we are going and why.

We have just reviewed a group of scientists acting irrationally and unprofessionally in public on public money. I think we can be sure that there are more examples of this kind of behavior. There are at least three reasons why even professionals and specialists arrive at wrong conclusions.

  1. Statistics say that false conclusions are inevitable. See

  1. Peer review guarantees nothing.

”While some believe passing the peer-review process is a certification of validity, those who study that process often hold a far more skeptical view. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of Journal of the American Medical Association is an organizer of the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, which has been held every four years since 1986. We still don't know how well the peer-review process works, he says, although one thing is clear: "There seems to be no study too fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no literature too biased or too egotistical, no design too warped, no methodology too bungled, no presentation of results too inaccurate, too obscure, and too contradictory, no analysis too self-serving, no argument too circular, no conclusions too trifling or too unjustified, and no grammar and syntax too offensive for a paper to end up in print."

– Peer review
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

  1. Cognitive bias, being a natural human tendency to save time and mental energy, is a large, sometimes dominant factor in irrational methodology and conclusions. The most common form of this error may be confirmation bias. Cognitive biases are likely to be defended by invalidation of the questioner as if that person were an accuser. For example, in Tom Nelson's Ivory Bill Skeptic blog, he had to contend with constant attacks on his character and with threats.

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This blog focuses on the third reason that errors occur. Ultimately, Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show will provide us with a model for the forces involved, the proper use of those forces, and the limits imposed by our own mortality. Blog readers are also strongly encouraged to find and watch the DVD of Fritz Lang's 1933 classic movie, “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse.” Pay particular attention to the scene where a ghost leaves one body and enters another. Blog readers are also strongly encouraged to read the Maxims of La Rochefoucauld (Leonard Tancock's translation, available as a Penguin paperback, is preferred and is often regarded as the best translation into English.) Develop your own personal understanding of the Maxim on Amour Propre (Self Love), as this will become a key to understanding the motivation behind cognitive bias, a mystery for which I have an explanation, one that has perhaps never before fully been provided by anyone. In the end of this blog's exposition, a question will be posed, in terms of Barker's framework, about whether or how cognitive biases might be defeated.  I myself want, but do not have, the answer.
We will also discuss how cognitive bias is rotten-ripe in the social sciences and in the political ideologies of both the left and right.  Next in line, though is a hard look at a perniciously dangerous group of cognitive biases, centered around a well known theme, in American business and banking.

I have an irresistible impulse here to warn the blog reader about the "heavy" thinking involved in proceeding with further postings. This is heavy lifting, intellectually and emotionally. I wish the reader to have what I myself have had since childhood, a large bank and mental library of hilarious and amusing anecdotes and stories. Do not hesitate to take a break and spend time with something funny. If you are at a loss to find something in this genre, try this list I created months ago:

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