EXPERT KNOWLEDGE AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING ARE UNDER SIEGE

By | Book reviews for the press, Cognitive Science, Geopolitics | No Comments

A social Issue of New Scientist, dated 1 April 2017, was devoted to the question ‘What is Knowledge?’ The sub-title was ‘The Biggest Questions about Facts, Truth, Lies and Belief’. It was clearly not intended as an April Fool’s Day joke, but there would be plenty of scope for a spoof which had done just that, given the bizarre beliefs and attitudes to truth held by altogether too many human beings. As Carl Sagan expressed it some thirty years ago, we have created a scientific civilization, but have allowed a situation to develop in which the vast majority of people…

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UNDOING THE CONFUSIONS OF THE INTUITIVE BRAIN

By | Book reviews for the press, Cognitive Science, Psychology | No Comments

  Michael Lewis writes good books. They tend to be concise, highly readable, immensely lucid and concerned with fascinating matters of human confusion and how to find one’s way through it. He also tends to be highly interested in thinkers who operate outside the range or authority of both popular prejudice and conventional intellectual wisdom. His first book, Liar’s Poker (1989), was about his strange experience in a Wall Street bank’s bond trading department. Since then, he has written a string of best sellers. Perhaps the most famous of them have been Moneyball (2003) and The Big Short (2010). His…

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REASON IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION

By | Cognitive Science, Critical Essays, Psychology, Western Civilisation | No Comments

Or what it means to be a rationalist in our time For years now, I have heard people speak sceptically, even dismissively, about ‘Western logic’ or ‘Cartesian rationalism’, as if the ills of the modern world are largely to be blamed on an excess of reason in Western civilization. I feel pretty much at home in the Rationalist Society because I believe such notions are fundamentally erroneous. In writing this for readers of The Australian Rationalist, I am, in all probability, preaching to the converted, but even among members of the Rationalist Society of Australia there is, I suspect, quite…

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