“Even if you know about ego depletion effects, the prisoner you encounter after lunch will still seem like a better candidate for parole. Even if you know that implicit bias is likely to affect your assessment of a resume’s quality, you will still experience the candidate with the African-American name as being less qualified than the candidate with the European-American name. And even if you know about Paul Rozin’s disgust work, you will still hesitate to drink Dom Perignon out of a sterile toilet bowl.”—The G.I. Joe Fallacy: Knowing Is NOT Half the Battle
“Evidence suggests that minorities experience contact with the police at rates that far outstrip their share of crime. One study found that the probability that a black male 18 or 19 years of age will be stopped by police in New York City at least once during 2006 is 92 percent. The probability for a Latino male of the same age group is 50 percent. For a young white man, it is 20 percent.”—Is the United States a ‘Racial Democracy’? - NYTimes.com
“The research provides strong evidence for behavioural similarities between the sexes. It provides no evidence that those modest behavioural sex differences are associated with brain connectivity differences. And, it offers no information about the developmental origins of either behavioural or brain differences. Yet, the popular press presents it as evidence that “hardwired” sex differences explain why men are from Mars and women are from Venus.”—New insights into gendered brain wiring, or a perfect case study in neurosexism?
“If somebody asked me what my kidneys are doing right now, I would have no idea. Yet, we really do believe that we pretty much know what goes on in our heads. And that’s because we do have access to a piece of it called the conscious mind, and that wrongly gives us the feeling that we know all of it.”—Mahzarin Banaji in the Harvard Gazette
“If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that doesn’t increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead.”—
Americans have become increasingly obsessed with the supposed desirability of thinness, as thinness has become both a marker for upper-class status and a reflection of beauty ideals that bring a kind of privilege.
In addition, baselessly categorizing at least 130 million Americans — and hundreds of millions in the rest of the world — as people in need of “treatment” for their “condition” serves the economic interests of, among others, the multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry and large pharmaceutical companies, which have invested a great deal of money in winning the good will of those who will determine the regulatory fate of the next generation of diet drugs.
Anyone familiar with history will not be surprised to learn that “facts” have been enlisted before to confirm the legitimacy of a cultural obsessionand to advance the economic interests of those who profit from that obsession.
“[P]hilosophy… creates… minds that can — as Aristotle suggests — entertain a thought without accepting it. … [T]he open-minded study of different philosophies at least opens one up to the possibility that one is wrong. One realizes, like Socrates did, that knowledge is anything but certain, that true wisdom lies in realizing how much one does not know, in understanding that our knowledge of the universe (and therefore of earthly things like politics) is utterly inadequate, perhaps comparable to the area of a pin’s tip against a table. This realization makes one less angry when confronted with opposing views, replacing counterproductive anger with productive curiosity.”—Michael Shammas: For a Better Society, Teach Philosophy in High Schools
"There are skills that you learn by becoming academically skilled at doing historical work and reading and writing philosophy that will help you make arguments about everything from whether you should get your tires rotated, to whether that right person should marry you some day, to whether or not you’re going to get in the door of heaven. And being able to deal with evidence in a rational, substantive way is something that you learn through the study of history and philosophy. And it’s just worth doing in life. …It will make you a more effective person in life."
“Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay. In the modern state there are very few sites where this is possible. The only others that come readily to my mind require belief in an omnipotent creator as a condition for membership. It would seem the most obvious thing in the world to say that the reason why the market is not an efficient solution to libraries is because the market has no use for a library. But it seems we need, right now, to keep re-stating the obvious. There aren’t many institutions left that fit so precisely Keynes’ definition of things that no one else but the state is willing to take on. Nor can the experience of library life be recreated online. It’s not just a matter of free books. A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.”—Zadie Smith, in the New York Review of Books. (via thebronzemedal)
Incentives in academic life create a tension between truth-seeking and professional advancement. Nosek argues that these incentives create a subconscious bias toward making research decisions in favor of novel results that may not be true.
“[P]eople are going to do philosophy one way or another. When a politician argues that a bill unfairly impinges on our freedoms, he’s doing philosophy. When someone expresses a belief in God, she’s doing philosophy. If we stop teaching people how philosophy is done, we’re not going to get less philosophy, we’re going to get shitty philosophy, which leads to shitty, incoherent policies.”—Philosophy Bro: Does Philosophy Matter?
“For me, the biggest change in my life happened when I stopped trying to accomplish everything at once. I realized that I’m actually incredibly lazy—most of what I do has to do with habits and trivial stimuli, rather than deep thoughts. Instead of trying to change every behavior at once, I would pick something incredibly small and simple and focus on it for an entire month. Even that can be difficult, but it meant I could make a change almost habitual before I tried something else.”—