The curse of knowledge

I learned about another cognitive bias this morning – the curse of knowledge. Wikipedia explains.

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties. The effect was first described in print by the economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein and Martin Weber, though they give original credit for suggesting the term to Robin Hogarth.

…researchers have linked the curse of knowledge bias with false-belief reasoning in both children and adults, as well as theory of mind development difficulties in children. The curse of knowledge bias reportedly decreases in degree for adults versus children, who experience exaggerated effects; however, it was also found that for adults: “knowledge becomes a more potent curse when it can be combined with a rationale (even if only an implicit one) for inflating one’s estimates of what others know”.

This has a lot of applications.

Born in moral stupidity, taking the world as an udder to feed our supreme selves

The last paragraph of chapter XXI of George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

We are all of us born in moral stupidity, taking the world as an udder to feed our supreme selves: Dorothea had early begun to emerge from that stupidity, but yet it had been easier to her to imagine how she would devote herself to Mr. Casaubon, and become wise and strong in his strength and wisdom, than to conceive with that distinctness which is no longer reflection but feeling—an idea wrought back to the directness of sense, like the solidity of objects—that he had an equivalent centre of self, whence the lights and shadows must always fall with a certain difference.

Morality requires educated feeling. It’s never a finished product. We never get good enough at understanding other people’s equivalent centre of self. Reason and logic by themselves are hopeless at the task.

Simon and David

Simon Davis talks to David Futrelle of Confused Cats Against Feminism and We Hunted the Mammoth (formerly Manboobz).

There’s a catharsis in saying “You know what? Your argument is based on ignorance. We’ve tried to explain this. We’re just gonna respond with a picture of a cat.” When you get into these discussions with these guys online, it becomes just like quicksand. Because you feel like you’ve fallen into this realm of “Wait a minute. The sky is blue, right?” It’s also just sort of nice to present something that I think the opponents of feminism just don’t know how to handle or don’t know how to react to. So when they see the cat pics, they can’t go into another regular one of their little rants because it’s a cat, and what’s being said is probably absurd. It sets them up for once.

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Tap that latent brainpower

So, cool idea for a movie – if we used 100% of our brains we could eat a mountain for breakfast, and memorize The Tale of Genji while brushing our teeth, and get from Seattle to Stockholm in a single bound. Except that we couldn’t, because we already do, and we can’t.

The fact is, people use all of their brains. Brain imaging research techniques such as PET (positron emission tomography) scans and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie unused. Although certain activities may use only a small part of the brain at a time (for example, watching reality TV shows), any sufficiently complex set of activities will use many parts of the brain.

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Guest post: Stop the ”Witch Slapping” Bishop Oyedepo from Preaching in London

Guest post by Leo Igwe

UK authorities should take measures to stop controversial Nigerian pastor, David Oyedepo, from bringing his witch hunting ministry to Europe. Oyedepo with his Pentecostal church the Winners Chapel and his own fleet of private jets is reputedly the richest pastor in Nigeria. Oyedepo is scheduled to preach at the European Winners Convention to be held in London in August. There are numerous reasons why the UK authorities should not allow him to feature at this event. Here are just a few.

Not too long ago, Bishop Oyedepo assaulted a girl at one of his ministration events in Nigeria. He accused the girl of being a witch. But the girl denied this saying she was a ‘witch for Jesus’. And in reaction, Bishop Oyedepo slapped her. Oyedepo is not alone in the business of witch hunting and child abuse. Many branches of his Winners Chapel are involved in this violent campaign.

In August last year, a branch of Winners Chapel was one of the Pentecostal churches which the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, ordered to have closed down due to ‘criminal practices’. According to a CNN report, a 9 year old girl collapsed and died during a prayer session at the Winners Chapel branch in Bamenda, Cameroon. The pastor accused the girl of being possessed by numerous demons and whilst he was ‘casting out’ the demons the girl fainted and died.

Pentecostal pastors like David Oyedepo are engaged in an effort to spread their ministry to Europe. They are re-exporting an Africanized Christianity with an emphasis on demon possession, exorcism and witch hunting. They are targeting African immigrant communities. Some of these churches already have established branches in many European countries. The harmful effects of their violent brand of Christianity are already being seen in many parts of Europe. European authorities must not allow the situation to worsen .

There is strong evidence of the links between cases of witchcraft related abuse of children and the activities of Pentecostal churches in Black communities in the UK. It is most distressing that Pentecostal churches have been allowed to spread this gospel of hate and incitement in Britain.

It has to stop

Preventing ‘witch slapping’ Bishop Oyedepo from preaching at the European Winners Convention is not, as some may claim, an act of racism. It is not an infringement on his right to freedom of religion but an essential step in combatting abuse in the name of religion and to helping bring an end to witch hunting in Africa and in the black communities world wide.

I urge the UK authorities to deny entry to ”child-assaulting” Bishop Oyedepo. He must not be granted an entry visa. He must not minister at the European Winners Convention in August. By denying him entry, the British government will be sending a very strong message to all African witch hunting pastors and churches, that they are not welcome in this country. It will help to shine a light on the dangers of these violent campaigns in Africa and within the European black communities. [Read more…]

The Great Cause

Christina Hoff Sommers seems to have only one thing to say. (She’s a hedgehog not a fox.) That thing is: feminism sucks!!

A sample from her Twitter output.

Christina H. Sommers @CHSommers · Jul 29
It’s not the patriarchy, but third-wave feminism, that undermines young women’s freedom. Great read by @ashtenthinks [Read more…]

Secular Woman introduces

Secular Woman has a new project: meet Secular Woman Salon.

Secular Woman is incredibly pleased and excited to announce the start of a new project that will add to the growing number of incredible voices writing on issues of concern to secular women, and that project is the Secular Woman Salon! The Salon is a new outlet on our website for the latest in opinion, think pieces, and news for secular women, as well as anyone interested in advancing the cause of social justice with a secular lens.

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