This content of this blog is adapted from my lecture on Cognitive Bias in Decision Making, for the module Cognition and Emotion. I present this lecture to third year Psychology students at the University of Roehampton, London.

The Structure of an Argument

How to sort good information from bad!

If you catch anyone at the right moment, after having experienced something extraordinarily wonderful, joyful, or blissful, and if you ask them if that was a magical moment, they will agree that it was. Take the birth of a baby - few things compare, and any parent would say that a birthday for them was a magical moment in time.

Suddenly, since the beginning of the Trump administration, there has been a shift, a perceptible shift in the leaking of top secret government intelligence. From the outing of General Flynn, to the publication of President Trump telling the PM of Australia their talk was the worst phone call he had had with a world leader all day - we were not supposed to learn about any of that.

An unbelievable story, breaks your heart, blows your mind, tells the unexpected truth about all of us, and does not need to be relayed by a storyteller, so much as it needs for the storyteller to get out of the way, just to let the story tell itself, and let the people who wove it, speak for themselves.

Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder use 400 percent more emergency room services than peers without it, which puts more strain on an over-burdened health care system and may mean that they need better access to primary care.

Many cannot accept that IQ is largely determined by our genes. They do not trust the research. Pointing to such research is an argument from authority. Moreover, the research does not explain the mechanisms in the social realm well, and so the research can anyway only be supporting evidence, but it is alone not convincing and we do have to ask: Can we trust the science?

But it comes worse!

There is no correct moral theory. All morality is politics. People do not act on the basis of morality. Everybody does everything they do for the most meaningful reason at the time. If an act may be judged as moral, so much the better. But, if an act cannot be judged as moral, and if it is meaningful enough to a person to do it, and if it seems like a good idea at the time, then it will be done. Morality is just political correctness masquerading as the right thing to do – at the time. However, the social psychology of the individual will always weigh the political correctness of an act against the meaningfulness of the act, and proceed accordingly. Yet, the point is none of us do what we do because we want to be moral authorities.

I never meant for it to happen. I had absolutely no idea when I took down my own professional websites nearly a year ago, and when I erased all of my LinkedIn profile, and changed the name on it to Al Smith, 6 months ago, that I was, in fact, executing the conditions for a controlled experiment, which would reveal that LinkedIn sends out fake messages from corporate to its members, in order to manipulate and deceive people into thinking they have been contacted by professional people interested in networking with them.

They say two people can’t see the same mirage. I wonder who the hell started saying that? 

Expectant and new parents are under a great deal of pressure; every action is scrutinized by those around them, and food marketers and activist groups exploit their fear by telling them one food process will lead to higher grades in school while another food process will lead to obesity, cancer, endocrine disruption and anything else environmental fundraisers can dream up.

It takes no time to make such claims and exploit people for money but far longer to do studies to show if the claims are real.