October 21, 2013

On the importance of evaluating truth claims

Coert Visser, 2013

Cognitive scientists, such as Keith Stanovich, distinguish two basic forms of rationality: 1) epistemic rationality, making our beliefs correspond with the actual structure of the world, and 2) instrumental rationality, behaving in such a way that you achieve what you want. Instrumental rationality is about doing what works and epistemic rationality is about finding truth. My view is that it is dangerous to overlook any of these two types of rationality. Only focusing on what is true but forgetting to do what works may lead to neglecting to do things that help you to survive and remain connected to other people. In extreme cases this may lead to a situation in which your questioning dominant false beliefs may threaten governing institutions so much that they may want to isolate you or worse (for example Copernicus and Socrates). Only focusing on doing what works but neglecting the 'what is true' question may lead to you moving efficiently through a web of falsity distancing you more and more from reality. In extreme cases it may lead to such pragmatism that individuals may gradually go along with and adapt to situations which systematically undermine human thriving of themselves or others.

October 18, 2013

Dominant view of intelligence falsified

Scott Barry Kaufman writes in Scientific American that a dominant view by psychologists of intelligence has been seriously challenged by research by Kees-Jan Kan (photo) and his colleagues. According to this dominant view the heritability of crystallized intelligence (≈ acquired knowledge) is expected to be lower than the heritability of fluid intelligence (≈ 'raw' intellectual ability). Kan et al's research, however, has shown that this is not the case. First, they determined the cultural load of intelligence test which is the degree to which tests had to be adjusted for it to be used in different countries. They found that the cultural load of tests was correlated positively both with 1) general intelligence (the g-factor) and with 2) the heritability of the test.


October 17, 2013

Misinformation and Its Correction

Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing
By Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert, Norbert Schwarz, & John Cook

Summary: The widespread prevalence and persistence of misinformation in contemporary societies, such as the false belief that there is a link between childhood vaccinations and autism, is a matter of public concern. For example, the myths surrounding vaccinations, which prompted some parents to withhold immunization from their children, have led to a marked increase in vaccine-preventable disease, as well as unnecessary public expenditure on research and public-information campaigns aimed at rectifying the situation.

October 10, 2013

10 misconceptions about mindset

The work of Carol Dweck and her colleagues about mindsets is getting more well-known. Mindset is about the important effects of what people believe about the malleability of their characteristics and abilities (read more in my interview with Carol Dweck). As is the case with many things, what the concept of mindset means and implies can easily be misunderstood. Here are 10 misconceptions about mindset which I have encountered.

Click here to read more »

October 8, 2013

11 Effective learning strategies

We know that, for learning and growth, beliefs about our ability to learn and putting in effort both matter a lot. There is a third factor that also matters a lot which is using effective learning strategies. On Annie Murphy Paul’s website I learned about some interesting research on this topic. While students differ a lot in the degree to which they know about and apply effective learning strategies (low achieving students know and apply them much less than high achieving students) little attention is paid in schools to teaching students how to learn effectively. Here is a list of such effective learning strategies:

Read more

October 7, 2013

We must make mistakes! (?)

Recently, I have been hearing people say that making mistakes is a good thing and that we must make mistakes. For example, this week, I came across a Dutch booklet which argues that we must make mistakes.

The argument goes as follows: We have learned, and tend to try to avoid, making mistakes. By trying to avoid mistakes we try to avoid rejection, shame and negative consequences for our self esteem. But this focus on avoiding mistakes can lead to paralysis and keep us from learning and growing. Therefore, so goes the argument, we must embrace making mistakes. Mistakes are necessary and good! We must make mistakes!

October 5, 2013

Dogmatism in positive psychology and in the solution-focused approach?

New post on my other blog: Dogmatism in positive psychology and in the solution-focused approach?

After recent discoveries of mistakes in research by Barbara Fredrickson (see here and here) some people have criticized positive psychology. James Coyne, a professor and clinical psychologist working in Groningen and Pennsylvania, is one of its fiercest critics. He not only argues that positive psychology’s message is too simple (see here) but, as his tweets show, he also thinks 1) that positive psychology is dogmatic (and that the whole idea behind PP is based on a unjustified contrast with the rest of (negative?) psychology, 2) that positive psychology has a guru culture (in which, as he implies, Martin Seligman is the pope of positive psychology), and 3) that positive psychology is too much driven by commercial motives (many scientists within positive psychology would be more interested in selling books and training programs than in science). Coyne says: Positive psychology is applied ideology, not science (source).

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October 2, 2013

Why practice at age 90?

Some time ago, I asked this question: Can we keep on making progress into old age? So, perhaps, you can understand why I smiled when I came across this in my twitter timeline, today:
Thanks for tweeting it, @BartHeuvingh!

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