So here is a really cool poster advertising the lecture I’m giving for Cork Skeptics next week:
The poster is by Alan B. (@hybridvigour on Twitter), whose posters for Cork Skeptics are always extremely stylish. Some more information about the overall evening’s events can be found here. The Cork Skeptics website is always well worth a look, and contains a great archive maintained by Colm Ryan and the rest of the Society’s leading lights.
I’ll be blogging about the lecture afterwards, but in the meantime, here is the abstract:
The science of misunderstanding: How our brains are programmed to make mistakes
For centuries it was believed that human reasoning was distinguished by logicality, clarity, and general accuracy. More recently, empirical research in behavioural sciences such as economics and psychology has shown how human reasoning is in fact characterised by systematic biases and errors. A commonly discussed literature in this regard relates to the role of cognitive heuristics, where it is argued that reasoning errors are often side-effects of otherwise useful mental shortcuts that have been erroneously deployed. However, while such concepts help explain why people are susceptible to reasoning errors, they do not quite explain how audiences often find erroneous information to be more attractive than accurate information. Rather than being incidental side-effects of the evolution of cognition (i.e., spandrels), erroneous reasoning strategies may in fact serve protective effects that make them independently adaptive in evolutionary terms. This talk will look at biological, evolutionary, and socio-cultural research on how our tendency to misunderstand can promote both individual and inclusive fitness. We will also look at research which suggests some unexpectedly negative effects of enhanced logical reasoning, on both mental and physical health.
Now! I’d better go and prepare my slides…
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.