Making Fun of Stupid People


Eventually you get to a point where reasoning with someone doesn’t work, and then you’ve got this weird situation where you either realize the other person is not being honest, or they’re so incredibly far from you in terms of world-view that it’s impossible to reconcile their reality with yours.

Or maybe they’re just so dumb your house-plants could outmaneuver them in a battle of wits.

This is not the houseplant I mean [source]

This is not the houseplant I mean [source]

In which case, you can’t blame the house-plants: it’s a natural inequality. Per Rousseau, society should attempt to support them and help them live fulfilled, productive lives. Not by handicapping the house-plants Harrison Bergeron-style[1], but by educating and otherwise assisting the people that are chasing them.

But on this one, I’ve got to root for the house-plants:[rs]

A Tennessee woman who backs President Donald Trump credits God and the Republican health care bill — which hasn’t been voted into law — for her family’s dramatically lower insurance costs.

Charla McComic’s son recently lost his job, and his health-insurance premium dropped from $567 per month to $88, which she described as “a blessing from God” and a gift from the new president, reported the Washington Post.

“So far, everything’s been positive, from what I can tell,” she told the newspaper. “I just hope that more and more people and children get covered under this new health-care plan.”

This reminds me of the story about the guy who jumped from an airplane without a parachute. The whole way down he kept his sense of optimism by enjoying the view. “So far, everything’s been positive, from what I can tell.

The sad thing is that, per Rousseau, things like the Affordable Care Act and insurance in general are society’s way of supporting and helping its weaker members. It is this very desire to help nurture that is under attack – what’s amazing is that the propaganda is so powerful, pervasive, and effective, that it’s getting its targets to believe the opposite of apparent reality. I would go a step farther and say that, when the state lies to the people so boldly, it acknowledges that it has abrogated the social contract when it does so.

We are living in a “failed state” without political legitimacy.

Last year, standing in line at the post office, I was behind a couple of guys who were talking about “welfare mammies.” Quite loudly, so I caught one of their eye and when he nodded to me, I said, “I couldn’t help hear what you were saying and I just thought I ought to remind you that by far the majority of welfare recipients in Clearfield county are white folks. I’ve seen how people on welfare live and it’s not great, you shouldn’t begrudge them anything.” I can’t be sure what was going on in their heads, but they appear to have absorbed a mental picture that is not real – pure marketing in other words. And we can see how these propagandistic messages are marketed when we hear things like:[rs]

State Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami), who chairs the budget committee, told lawmakers he’d seen people shopping in grocery stores with “a Mercedes key chain and their SNAP card.”

Must have been Michael Chertoff, a lobbyist, or a defense contractor.

Seriously, though, the image that these people manage to convey is that there are people driving expensive cars and living on welfare? Florida doesn’t elect anyone who can’t out-think a houseplant: we know this because they were able to out-think the Florida electorate. This is cynical propaganda of the worst sort. It’s why I loathe marketing – it’s part of the process that has helped perfect and weaponize propaganda so effectively.

dividerI left a thought half-formed: there is one school of thought which can be described as “never give a sucker an even break” and that is, I believe, the school of thought that dominates American politics today. That’s useful to recognize because it allows us to bypass a search for truth in the words of politicians: they have no interest in the truth, they never did, stop wasting our time trying to hold them accountable for their words. This is the end-game of when advertising completes its leveraged buyout of politics.

Making fun of stupid people: bad. I do not advocate it.

Comments

  1. says

    For every person who thinks it’s an exaggeration that we are moving further and further in fascism:

    McComic, who campaigned for Trump with some relatives by forming a motorcade and driving through their hometown shouting his name, said she’s never trusted a president as much as the real estate developer and former reality TV star.

    “We said: ‘Who else would we do this for, besides Trump?’” McComic said. “We agreed on the Lord. We would stand here for the Lord, but that’s about it.”

    Yeah. It isn’t just the willful ignorance, which could possibly be corrected. It’s the fanaticism attached to it.

  2. says

    Caine@#1:
    Yes, I agree with you.
    The fanaticism is what powers the fascist/totalitarian state. It is belief and certainty, in place of thought and doubt.

    My initial temptation is to dismiss McComic as a fool, or a patsy. But then I think she’s a victim betrayed by those that she believed in. And then I think “… but only a fool would believe.” Round and round we go! As a Trump supporter, I think she deserves a certain amount of finger-pointing and jeering but it hasn’t even sunk in enough, yet. It’s like the accounts you read of doomsday cultists who confront the obviousness of their leaders’ lies by shrugging and letting them come up with a new bunch of lies. Because it’s easier to do that than to figure out “where do we go from here?”

  3. says

    Language and feelings. it’s inherently irrational and based on manipulating social objects in front of in-group and out-group members.
    State Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami), who chairs the budget committee, told lawmakers he’d seen people shopping in grocery stores with “a [Mercedes] key chain and their [SNAP card].”

    All he had to do was put them in proximity in a short story. Like image macro memes it can be broken into little manipulable elements. We can take this from them, they fear (and other emotions) what the SNAP card is attached to. I’m convinced we can. I’m just anxious about weaponizing language without careful thought. That always gets snapped up by the rest of the monkeys after some cultural dispersal time.

    That woman thinks a symbolic parental figure* gave her a reduced health care bill. Gave it via the non-existent health care bill from the political party that wants to delete the law that creates the system that she currently gets health care from. That’s staggering levels of vulnerability when it comes to detecting actual social threats around her. And she thinks she is a good person doing the right thing. That can be dismantled and converted into general patterns of human behavior. There has to be a way to do that without it blowing up in our faces in another 10-20 years.

    *Two if you count Tdump.

  4. militantagnostic says

    State Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami), who chairs the budget committee, told lawmakers he’d seen people shopping in grocery stores with “a Mercedes key chain and their SNAP card.”

    Things may be different in Trumpistan but in Canada you are not required to provide of proof of ownership a make of car before buying a key fob with a logo of that marque.

    It’s like the accounts you read of doomsday cultists who confront the obviousness of their leaders’ lies by shrugging and letting them come up with a new bunch of lies. Because it’s easier to do that than to figure out “where do we go from here?

    Or it is easier to shrug and make excuses for the leader than admit they have been conned.

  5. jrkrideau says

    That film about Bearnaise (same as the sauce?) suggests that he was one heck of a con man or intuitive marketer since Freud’s theories are about as valid as that of any other shaman’s.

    There is a reason psychologists don’t consider him a psychologist.

    On the other hand, Freud’s grandson,Clement, was a chef, a politician and a broadcaster.

  6. Jessie Harban says

    Things may be different in Trumpistan but in Canada you are not required to provide of proof of ownership a make of car before buying a key fog with a logo of that marque.

    “Keychain with our logo on it” is one of the things companies habitually give out for free.

  7. Some Old Programmer says

    jrkrideau@6, SNAP is the US Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, possibly better known as Food Stamps. I believe it’s currently administered electronically with a debit-like card. It’s monetary assistance (some, not a lot) for poor people (i.e. those with a demonstrated need) to buy some classes of food and beverage (restrictions apply, e.g. no alcohol, prepared foods, household supplies). NB: this is off-the-cuff; those with an interest should do their own research.

  8. says

    This illustrates a useful point. If you think you are going to sway The People with reason, you’re the chump, not them.

    If the left wants to win, it needs better stories. You and I are swayed by stories, although we struggle against it.

    In the end, practically everything we believe is because of a story. I don’t have the time to get a degree in climate science, so I’m trusting one bunch of people over another on that one. I have reasons to trust my bunch. Reasons which are, in the end, stories.

    The only stuff I believe in that’s actually rational at its root has to do with compactifications of topological spaces. The rest is just a story, a web of trust based as much on my childhood as anything else.

    Honestly, selling socialism to bible thumpers should be the easiest job on earth. That Jesus guy was way in to it. But we’re too prissy, too clever, and whole regions of the USA slip away from us. But it’s OK because they’re deplorables, right?

  9. John Morales says

    Andrew:

    This illustrates a useful point. If you think you are going to sway The People with reason, you’re the chump, not them.

    Always?

    If the left wants to win, it needs better stories. You and I are swayed by stories, although we struggle against it.

    I’m swayed by some stories, but that doesn’t mean either that all stories sway me or that if something sways me it’s therefore a story.

    (And individuals are not The People; your justification fails due to a category error)

    In the end, practically everything we believe is because of a story.

    Depends on your definition of “a story”*.

    I don’t have the time to get a degree in climate science, so I’m trusting one bunch of people over another on that one. I have reasons to trust my bunch.

    You have reasons, eh? Swaying reasons.

    Reasons which are, in the end, stories.

    * You’re equivocating.

    The only stuff I believe in that’s actually rational at its root has to do with compactifications of topological spaces. The rest is just a story, a web of trust based as much on my childhood as anything else.

    Pretty esoteric! (What about the rest of math?)

    So, you seriously claim that you don’t (say) rationally believe that if you cease eating food, you will die? You only take that on trust, based on stories?

    Honestly, selling socialism to bible thumpers should be the easiest job on earth.

    “selling socialism”, eh? 🙂

  10. says

    jrkrideau@#5:
    That film about Bearnaise (same as the sauce?) suggests that he was one heck of a con man or intuitive marketer since Freud’s theories are about as valid as that of any other shaman’s.
    There is a reason psychologists don’t consider him a psychologist.

    Bernays

    I agree with you about Freud’s theories. They are a bunch of stuff he pulled out of his butt one fine afternoon, of the same quality of work as chiropractic, homeopathy, or scientology. Yet, because it allowed the early psychology community to establish a self-referential belief system supported by circular reasoning, it has had a tremendous life-span. I’m amazed to smell the fecal reek of freudianism still in the social sciences.

    When you say “there is a reason psychologists don’t consider him a psychologist” I can’t think of anything but a bunch of homeopaths laughing at an acupuncturist for being a bullshit artist. The progress is that many (most?) psychologists nowadays don’t appear to consider Freud to be a psychologist, either.

  11. says

    militantagnostic@#4, Jessie Harban@#7:
    “Keychain with our logo on it” is one of the things companies habitually give out for free.

    Let’s not get distracted by the degree to which what he said was wrong: the message he was trying to promote is that there are people scamming food stamps, driving around in very expensive cars. I.e.: he was accusing the poor (collectively) of fraud based on his imagined population of fraudsters.
    1) I suspect he was lying
    2) He used the plural, indicating he’d seen more than one

    Somewhere, there is a nice mercedes bumper that would look better decorated with that asshole’s face.

  12. says

    Brony@#3:
    All he had to do was put them in proximity in a short story. Like image macro memes it can be broken into little manipulable elements. We can take this from them, they fear (and other emotions) what the SNAP card is attached to. I’m convinced we can. I’m just anxious about weaponizing language without careful thought. That always gets snapped up by the rest of the monkeys after some cultural dispersal time.

    You’re right – it’s like the “dog whistle” – you throw these little bits of distraction into your story to trigger an emotional response, and you don’t need to actually back it up. The damage is done.

    That was why I mentioned marketing. The tossing in of subliminal bits of information to trigger emotional associations: that’s the method of action of a great deal of advertising.

  13. says

    Andrew Molitor@#9:
    In the end, practically everything we believe is because of a story. I don’t have the time to get a degree in climate science, so I’m trusting one bunch of people over another on that one. I have reasons to trust my bunch. Reasons which are, in the end, stories.

    If it appears to you now that all is stories, you may be becoming a pyrrhonian skeptic.

    “Don’t go there”!

  14. says

    Well, kinda. I think we can do pretty well, and obviously I think I have a pretty good handle on the truth despite having it all through heresay and so on. If I thought there was a better path, I’d take that one instead, right?

    Still, I retain always a reserve of doubt. I “know” climate change is almost certainly a big problem. Because the majority of reputable scientists say so. Or, more accurately, the media repeats the claim that the media has determined that the majority of whoever the reputable scientists are say so.

    But we all know every step of the chain lies, pretty often. And we all know that, occasionally, such apparent scientific consensus falls apart at some late date. String theory. DDT. Psychology. Thalidomide. Not being in a position to check it myself, I rely on second hand information, test it as a best-available working hypothesis, and try to stay sharp for change.

    That probably makes me a pyrhonnian, but I try to stay practical. Gotta get three squares a day on the table and Google ain’t disrupted my damn laundry and don’t look to be any time soon.

    Anyways. The dumbass in flyover country has her own system of understanding knowledge which probably isn’t much crazier than mine, when you inspect it closely. Hers fails in different ways than mine, sure. But mine fails spectacularly too sometimes.

  15. John Morales says

    Andrew:

    But we all know every step of the chain lies, pretty often. And we all know that, occasionally, such apparent scientific consensus falls apart at some late date. String theory. DDT. Psychology. Thalidomide. Not being in a position to check it myself, I rely on second hand information, test it as a best-available working hypothesis, and try to stay sharp for change.

    So your consider your data is lies, and the (ahem) “apparent” scientific consensus falls apart eventually, and that you can’t check stuff. And, therefore… you employ reason to form your opinions.

    Whence the significance of the story-telling swaying, then?

    (Again: to speak of yourself as if you were representative of The People is a category error)

    I “know” climate change is almost certainly a big problem. Because the majority of reputable scientists say so. Or, more accurately, the media repeats the claim that the media has determined that the majority of whoever the reputable scientists are say so.

    And you call that being swayed by a story? OK

  16. says

    John, for someone so fond of the word category you seem to have a great deal of trouble distinguishing existential quantifiers from universal ones.

    No, I am not going to address even one of your ‘points’ because they are all stupid, and I am on to your game, which is also stupid.

  17. Brian English says

    When you say “there is a reason psychologists don’t consider him a psychologist” I can’t think of anything but a bunch of homeopaths laughing at an acupuncturist for being a bullshit artist. The progress is that many (most?) psychologists nowadays don’t appear to consider Freud to be a psychologist, either.

    OK, I’m gonna get burned by the nihilist here. I’ve got an undergrad degree in psychology, and so I guess that means I know a little about the field. A little.
    Freud is laughed at by most psychologists, not all, because his ‘theories’ are untestable, are backed by data that he concocted. Psychology, at least the part that pretends* to be a science, did away with emotions, etc, for a long while because the view of science then was it had to be objective, and feelings were felt to not be objective. You can laugh the field of psychology, but the thing is, if you want to make progress in any field of knowledge, you have to start with folk-theories, and test them then refine them. You will get better over time applying data and frameworks to your field. Philosophers and those of a meta view will criticize your justifications for procedures, like Popper did with Freud. Psychology isn’t like homeopathy, at least the parts like CBT that combine cognitive science, with neuroscience and behavioural input. I’m thinking along the lines that Ptolemy wasn’t as correct as Newton and fellows, who weren’t as correct as physicists are now, but that doesn’t mean Ptolemy was wholly wrong either. I see psychology as an infant science, but it’s making progress. OK, if you have poo, fling it now.

    *Pretend as in try.

  18. says

    Brian English@#19:
    Freud is laughed at by most psychologists, not all, because his ‘theories’ are untestable, are backed by data that he concocted. Psychology, at least the part that pretends[as in try] to be a science, did away with emotions, etc, for a long while because the view of science then was it had to be objective, and feelings were felt to not be objective.

    I agree with that. I’d say that the objection to Freud was less that his theories were untestable than that they were just made up out of whole cloth. That they were untestable was a side-effect of their not being rooted in anything but observation and fantasy. I’ll also observe that Freud set the fashion for the field: psychology became a field where you could just make stuff up and publish it as your new theory and off you go: Jung, Maslow, Kraft-Ebbing, etc. There were attempts to haul the field down to reality (Tinbergen, Skinner, Piaget) and you’ll notice that I don’t slag off all of that crew – they were trying to inject a discipline of observe then theorize, which is better than the opposite approach. It is my opinion that early psychology owes a lot of its style to Nietzsche: the grand analysis and vast pronouncements. That was an approach I think psychology would have done well to abandon early on, but it didn’t (because there wasn’t any coordinated central committee of psychology..)

    the thing is, if you want to make progress in any field of knowledge, you have to start with folk-theories, and test them then refine them

    That’s true. And physics and biology took a long time to move past Aristotle.

    Psychology isn’t like homeopathy, at least the parts like CBT that combine cognitive science, with neuroscience and behavioural input.

    Totally agree. Elsewhere I have suggested that psychology would have done well to rename itself “cognitive behaviorism” or something like that, and “neuropsychology” and stop forklifting forward the Freudian mess. Of course psychology can’t do that because there’s no central coordinating group that defines the field.

    I’m thinking along the lines that Ptolemy wasn’t as correct as Newton and fellows, who weren’t as correct as physicists are now, but that doesn’t mean Ptolemy was wholly wrong either.

    I would probably be looking at the physicists a bit oddly if the first semester of physics was spent going over Epicurus’ cosmology, Thales atomism, and Aristotle’s physics, talking about them as important theories worth understanding and remembering. I’m not sure when you did your undergraduate degree (I graduated in 85) and hopefully things have changed. I suspect they have, in fact – there are good signs that psychology is moving toward more scientific grounds, with the more recent DSM and its closer involvement with neuroscience.

    I see psychology as an infant science, but it’s making progress.

    That’s exactly how I see it.

  19. Owlmirror says

    Marcus@#11: Link to Bernays is broken (extra “a rel=” makes it 404).

    Glancing at the actual page for him, I notice a hell of a lot of [citation needed] tags.

  20. says

    Owlmirror@#21:
    Thanks! Our director of quality control has been sacked.

    Yes, there are a lot of [citation needed] – and I would love to see Adam Curtis’ research notes..

    I notice there are several books by Bernays (I just ordered one and will review it here eventually) I don’t see anything like a biography of the man.

  21. jrkrideau says

    @ 8 Some Old Programmer

    Thanks, I was wondering if it was something like that or some fancy credit card I had not heard of.

  22. jrkrideau says

    @ Marcus Ranum

    When you say “there is a reason psychologists don’t consider him a psychologist” I can’t think of anything but a bunch of homeopaths laughing at an acupuncturist for being a bullshit artist.

    I think you may be confusing Hollywood’s depiction of psychology with the real thing And then there is the ridiculous pop psychology one sees in magazines and on bookstore shelves that makes a psychologist cringe.

    There is the occasional crappy social psychology study that does make homoeopathy look good but it functions as good click-bait more than anything. That stuff is sort of the froth on the cafe au lait. No taste, no substance.

    Freudian theory may have had a significant effect on some clinicians even up to the 1950’s or even 60’s but it is one minor area of psychology. What Freud and Jung and a few other fantasists seem to have done did not affect mainstream psychological research, it did seem to affect the medical profession—at one time there were a lot of Freudian psychiatrists out there and there still may be for all I know. And, as far as I am aware, most or all psychiatrists have minimal training in psychology.

    it allowed the early psychology community to establish a self-referential belief system

    No, as far as I am aware, it had no effect at all on mainstream psychology. It allowed a small number of clinical psychologists and a lot of psychiatrists to establish a self-referential belief system perhaps.

    The effect on the total community of psychologists was either infinitesimal or non-existent. For most psychologists Freudian theory was, at best, totally irrelevant to their research interests and a bloody annoyance at parties when one mentioned one was a psychologist. Trying to explain you are a rat-runner and know nothing about psychoanalysis gets boring.

    Many of the main areas of psychology just are not known to the public in any detail. The study of visual perception including visual illusions such as the Müller-Lyer illusion just don’t get the same headlines and they are blasted hard to dramatize in a television show.

    It’s a lot easier to romanticize a study with a bearded therapist heroically saving the patient even that usually has little or no relationship to real life. Well perhaps about as much as that scientist inventing lubber has to real life.

    It is difficult to dramatize a fascinating result about selective attention theory or new insights into language acquisition in 3-year-olds in the UK vs Mongolia.

    Work by people such as Elizabeth Loftus on false memory syndrome, or Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman on decision making that has morphed into behavioural economics are some decent examples of psychological research with real payoff. Or on a different level, Experimental Behavioural Analysis led to Applied Behavioural Analysis. I can assure you Freudian theory had very little effect in the development of Experimental Behavioural Analysis—it is extremely difficult to discuss dreams with a six-month old hooded rat and even the pigeons can be difficult.

    I’m amazed to smell the fecal reek of freudianism still in the social sciences.

    I have not seen it particularly in the social sciences—but I’m not looking– but I encountered it in the humanities. I was talking to a grad student in history a couple of years ago and she was using Freudian theory to analyze something. One could weep.

    Still people are using Maslow’s hierarchy of need still, even in psych I believe, and it is a just a load of bunk. It may even have some truth to it but it’s an unfalsifiable theory.

    The progress is that many (most?) psychologists nowadays don’t appear to consider Freud to be a psychologist, either.

    I think you are missing the point. To most, or all, psychologists he never a psychologist. At the time however the terms were very fluid so there may have been some references in various literature to him being a psychologist. IIRC, even the term as a professional designation was rare until at least the 1930’s and psychologists at a place like Cambridge or Oxford would be a “Natural Philosopher”.

    Elsewhere I have suggested that psychology would have done well to rename itself “cognitive behaviourism” or something like that, and “neurophysiology” and stop forklifting forward the Freudian mess

    Why? We were here first. Wilhelm Wundt established the first experimental psychology lab 1879 at the University of Leipzig. We should change our name as some kind of marketing ploy? Well, unless affects grants, of course.

    A layman may have some problem differentiating between Freud and a psychologist, a psychologist has no problem.

    I don’t think most (almost all?) psychologists have any idea that they are “forklifting forward the Freudian mess”. They are not; there is no mess .

    Freudianism (nice term) is the province of screen-writers, various fiction authors and the occasional misguided social scientist or humanist. I am reminded a bit of CSI shows except the Freudianism had/has less relationship to reality

    Freud, Jung, and so on, are total irrelevancies to psychology. He is some kind of quaint ancient figure like Giordano Bruno as far as they are concerned. Why should we cater to ignorance?

  23. jrkrideau says

    19 Brian English

    Psychology, at least the part that pretends* to be a science, did away with emotions, etc, for a long while because the view of science then was it had to be objective.

    I am not sure but aren’t you confusing Skinnerian behaviourism with the entire field of psychology?

    A lot of the field of psychology never had any interest in “emotions” in the first place. It is hard to see a hard-core perceptionist or an animal-learning researcher caring much about them.

    I would not term psychology an “infant” science but a messy one with extremely uneven development. Some areas such as CBT, as you note, a lot of learning theory, most perception and cognition are well established. So is stuff like cognitive dissonance theory, false memory syndrome and behaviour economics (which is nothing much more than cognitive psych really, as far as I can see).

    Work on Authoritarianism and the emerging work on Conspiracy Theories seem useful and reasonably well grounded. I am not up on the field but a lot of developmental psychology seems fairly sound and useful. Then, of course, there are the off-the-wall research projects (See Bem for one) that do not help the field. A fair number of social psychologists seem to have either gotten lost in the woods or run amuck. Unfortunately, these are usually the ones that get written up in the tabloids or that make the news. Remember the “Chocolate is good for you” study. Absolutely methodologically horrible but it got press from London to New York to Sydney Australia. BTW it was deliberately bad–something of a Sokal and everyone bit.

    Measurement is often hard and typically messy. The blasted organisms, especially humans, do whatever they want and in many areas of psychology the measuring instruments are not all that good. There can be a lot of noise in the system.

    I have always been envious of some of the hard sciences where you can do an experiment in a couple of weeks and a replication even faster. I have seen it take two years just to get all the approvals needed for a study and then you have to do the blasted study.

  24. says

    jrkrideau@#25:
    Work on Authoritarianism and the emerging work on Conspiracy Theories seem useful and reasonably well grounded.

    Funny you say that. I just queued up a bit about Altemeyer for tomorrow.

  25. jrkrideau says

    I will forward to it. I must admit I have not read any of the peer reviewed stuff in years but it is definitely interesting.

  26. Owlmirror says

    there is one school of thought which can be described as “never give a sucker an even break” and that is, I believe, the school of thought that dominates American politics today. That’s useful to recognize because it allows us to bypass a search for truth in the words of politicians: they have no interest in the truth, they never did, stop wasting our time trying to hold them accountable for their words. This is the end-game of when advertising completes its leveraged buyout of politics.

    I think the technical term for this is “late stage capitalism”.

    I was reminded of it by this URL (and also see what it points to).

    https://boingboing.net/2017/03/17/late-stage-capitalism-2.html

  27. Brian English says

    I am not sure but aren’t you confusing Skinnerian behaviourism with the entire field of psychology?

    You’re correct. I was going to have quick tour of psychology from Freud through Skinner and onto to latters, how emotions where out, then in, as a way of showing how people tried to bring objectivity into the study, then I thought, fuck, how does that elucidate a point, and not just make a mess? I cut out a bit from the comment, but didn’t remove the bit about emotions.
    I think it’s infant, in that people have always thought about it, in folk theories, and Hume and the like laid some foundation for cognitive science, when you read his Treatise and do some introductory cognitive science you think the latter is based on the former, at least I did. But really it has only gotten going in the last 100 – 150 years, true, there are more psychologists reasearching now, like there are more philosophers and physicists than ever before, so it should grow rapidly. But that’s my opinion and is worth as much as I charge for it.

  28. says

    jrkrideau@#24:
    I think you may be confusing Hollywood’s depiction of psychology with the real thing And then there is the ridiculous pop psychology one sees in magazines and on bookstore shelves that makes a psychologist cringe.

    Not likely. I’ve kept up with psychology (loosely, mostly out of curiousity) since I got my undergrad degree in the field in 1985. As I’ve tried to make clear elsewhere, I’m not trying to throw the entire field under a bus – but I’m also not dealing with “hollywoodized” pop psychology. This is not a problem of the gap between historical psychology and how it’s currently practiced – for one thing, if there is a gap, it’s small enough that it’s pretty hard to point and say “psychology was crap up until this point.” I think there is some solid and interesting stuff all along for example, Nikko Tinbergen, and Piaget – and the whole school of “observe and think” behaviorists. I’m not willing to dismiss things like the Stanford prison experiment as “pop psychology” – it was “bad science” but it was done seriously and it was and should remain a blot on the history of psychology, if only as an example of “how not to do it.”

    There is the occasional crappy social psychology study that does make homoeopathy look good but it functions as good click-bait more than anything. That stuff is sort of the froth on the cafe au lait. No taste, no substance.

    If only it were the crappy social psychology studies! Then we could peel them off, along with the evolutionary psychologists, and tell them to get lost. But there’s a lot of what appears to be reputable work, which has been promoted widely as revealing significant things about how people function, and which turns out to be questionable bullshit. For example, “ego depletion” was taken as a real thing, because the studies that initially teased it out looked pretty plausible. There is a great big edifice of surveys and studies that are probably click bait quality but have been being taken as proven for decades. Most sciences undergo this, I think – it’s part of the self-correcting nature of the process – “maturity” whatever you want to call it. My opinion is that the current problems psychology and the social sciences are having with replication are a long-overdue step toward the field maturing. But I don’t see what the field is going to mature into because neuroscience is going off in its own direction (which is good, in my opinion) and the social sciences are going to have to find value in all the wreckage. What do I mean by “wreckage”? Well, even if “ego depletion” studies weren’t of doubtful quality, what does “ego depletion” teach us? There’s a lot of listing of cognitive biases but the replication disaster appears to be demonstrating that reality breaks more toward the “nurture” end of the nature/nurture controversy and then, what, we’re scientifically discovering that people tend to behave the way they grow up behaving.

    What Freud and Jung and a few other fantasists seem to have done did not affect mainstream psychological research

    They were no true scotsmen, that’s for sure.

    Trying to explain you are a rat-runner and know nothing about psychoanalysis gets boring.

    It sure does. My undergrad advisor (David Olton) was a rat runner, and (though I quickly became an apostate) I was being slotted toward a life of running rats myself. See, now, there are some interesting parts of the puzzle: Olton’s work helped refine understanding of how the hippocampus worked (J.M. was a Hopkins patient; he lived in my home town..) and that sort of research has been useful and important in helping figure out what parts of the brain do what. I don’t recall any discussion of Freud. That helps set up neuroscience. So, even, did the experiments where they were swabbing lemon scent on female rats’ nipples, so they could see if adult rats that had nursed on lemon scented mother rats would prefer to mate with lemon-scented adults (they do!) There is an element of those experiment that feeds into cognitive neuroscience.

    We should change our name as some kind of marketing ploy?

    Well, it’s already happening. I think that neuroscience is distancing itself from psychology because maybe that means not having to answer questions about psychoanalysis.

  29. says

    Owlmirror@#28:
    I think the technical term for this is “late stage capitalism”.

    As in metastatic “you are going to die with it” capitalism? Ow. I’ve encountered the term before but hadn’t really thought through its implications.

    (I feel awkward mentioning that I have a large polyrubber mold I made for human skulls. I made mine out of white concrete and left them around in some parts of my property to mess with ATVers… They weather beautifully…)

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