THUNK – 121. Teleological Bias

Teleology: explaining things via their intended purpose. Turns out we’ve a tendency to use it *everywhere.*

-Links for the Curious-

“Why Are Rocks Pointy? Children’s Preference for Teleological
Explanations of the Natural World” (Kelemen, 1999) – www.bu.edu/cdl/files/2013/08/1999_Kelemen_PointyRocks.pdf

“Intuitions About Origins: Purpose and Intelligent Design in Children’s Reasoning About Nature” (Kelemen & DiYanni, 2005) – www.bu.edu/cdl/files/2013/08/2005_KelemenDiYanni.pdf

“The Human Function Compunction: Teleological explanation in adults” (Kelemen 2009)

Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics (Clement, 1981) –
www.physics.utoronto.ca/~key/PHY1600/PER%20Papers/Student%20Preconceptions%20-%20Clement.pdf

“Why we evolved the urge to explain,” via the Rationally Speaking Podcast – rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs-186-tania-lombrozo-on-why-we-evolved-the-urge-to-explain.html

“Explanada,” Tania Lombrozo’s Blog- www.psychologytoday.com/blog/explananda

THUNK – 120. Business Networking

Networking is an essential part of career advancement in business today, but should it be?

-Links for the Curious-

Networking, Corruption, and Subversion (Ned Dobos, 2015) – papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2771599

A general summary by Dobos on his paper – www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/just-what-are-you-trying-to-pull-20130928-2ul2m.html

Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians (Goldin & Rouse, 1997) – www.nber.org/papers/w5903

Do informal contacts increase labor market inequality? Social ties, job access and wages for the unemployed (Oesch & von Ow, 2015) – www.lives-nccr.ch/sites/default/files/pdf/publication/38_lives_wp_oesch_informalcontacts_ip4.pdf

The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes (Granovetter, 2005) – web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/_media/pdf/Reference%20Media/Granovetter_2005_Social%20Networks.pdf

Sifting and Sorting: Personal Contacts and Hiring in a Retail Bank (Fernandez & Weinberg, 1997) – www.jstor.org/stable/2657345?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Three quarters of whites don’t have any non-white friends (WSJ, Christopher Ingraham, 2014) – www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/25/three-quarters-of-whites-dont-have-any-non-white-friends/

Manager Race and the Race of New Hires (Giuliano, Levine, & Leonard, 2006) – irle.berkeley.edu/files/2006/Manager-Race-and-the-Race-of-New-Hires.pdf

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity (BLS Reports, 2012) – www.bls.gov/opub/reports/race-and-ethnicity/archive/race_ethnicity_2012.pdf

41 CFR 60-300.5 – Equal opportunity clause (Via Cornell Law School) – www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/41/60-300.5

Structured Interviewing: Avoiding Selection Problems (Pursell, Camplon, & Gaylord, 1980) – www.krannert.purdue.edu/faculty/campionm/Structured_Interviewing_Avoiding.pdf

Summary of Research on the Selection Interview Since 1964 (Wright Jr., 1969) – onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1969.tb00340.x/abstract

How AI Is Changing Your Job Hunt (Fortune, Alsever, 2017) – fortune.com/2017/05/19/ai-changing-jobs-hiring-recruiting/

THUNK – 119. The Limits of Order & Harmony

Un/satisfying gif albums are scratching a very human itch. Where does it come from, & does it mean anything?

-Links for the Curious-

Perception of Symmetry in Infancy, Bornstein et al – www.princeton.edu/~cggross/Dev_Psych_1981.pdf

Bilateral symmetry & sexual selection: a meta-analysis, Møller & Thornhill www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18811416

Sorting preference in children with autism: the dominance of concrete features, Ropar & Peebles – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16897382

The Existential Satisfaction of Things Fitting Perfectly Into Other Things, Julie Beck – www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/08/the-existential-satisfaction-of-things-fitting-perfectly-into-other-things/401213/

The Dollar Auction Game: A Paradox in Noncooperative Behavior & Escalation, Martin Shubik – www.math.toronto.edu/mpugh/Teaching/Sci199_03/dollar_auction_1.pdf

What is Godel’s Theorem?, Melvin Henriksen – www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-godels-theorem/

Pythagorean Tuning – www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehmXCaJ8-Ts

The Square Root of Two, Numberphile – www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sKah3pJnHI

Creepy Out of Tune Piano – www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv2my4a331A

THUNK – 117. SETI & Dyson Spheres

Why are so many smart people interested in finding alien intelligence…and where should we look for them?

*Links for the Curious*

“Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation,” by Freeman Dyson – science.sciencemag.org/content/131/3414/1667

“How Japan Plans to Build an Orbital Solar Farm,” by Susumu Sasaki – spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/solar/how-japan-plans-to-build-an-orbital-solar-farm

The SETI Institute YouTube Channel (Very Highly Recommended!) – www.youtube.com/user/setiinstitute

“Frontiers in Artifact SETI: Waste Heat, Alien Megastructures & Tabbys Star,” by Jason Wright – www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEDR-G2EDRM

THUNK – 116. The War on Science

The so-called “War on Science” isn’t about hostility, it’s a simple case of forgetting how science is different.

-Links for the Curious-

The March for Science Website – www.marchforscience.com/

“The War on Science,” by Shawn Otto, a very thorough analysis of the history & causes of the political & social efforts to deliberately undermine scientific authority – www.amazon.com/War-Science-Waging-Matters-About/dp/1571313532

Scientific American: “Is There Really a War on Science?” – www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-really-a-war-on-science/

Slate: “The war on science is a trap. The science march should step carefully.” – www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/02/the_war_on_science_is_a_trap.html

91. Spanking & Anecdotal Evidence – www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hlGKudCCnc

88. Hume’s Guillotine & Rational Morality – www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwkSA8nqmdI

90. Science vs. Philosophy, an Ancient (Non-)Debate – www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CGQrt_5n60

79. Science, Pseudoscience, & the Demarcation Problem – www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dmOmprI0v4

Some great examples of how bias can cause us to wander away from the scientific method (thanks Your2ndPlanB!):

Gender bias in research: how does it affect evidence based medicine? by Anita Holdcroft – journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/014107680710000102

A framework to analyse gender bias in epidemiological research – jech.bmj.com/content/61/Suppl_2/ii46.short

THUNK – 115. The Motte & Bailey Fallacy

Motte & Bailey Arguments: because defending your actual position is *way* harder than defending a trivial one.

-Links for the Curious-

“The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology,” by Nicholas Shackel – philpapers.org/archive/SHATVO-2.pdf

“Archaeology of Knowledge,” by Michel Foucault, Shackel’s ur-punching bag for Motte-and-Bailey-ing – monoskop.org/images/9/90/Foucault_Michel_Archaeology_of_Knowledge.pdf

“The Social Construction of Reality,” by Berger & Luckmann – perflensburg.se/Berger%20social-construction-of-reality.pdf

“All in All, Another Brick in the Motte,” by Scott Alexander – slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/

“Motte & Baileys Explained,” by Lagan History – www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxANUa0XHkA

THUNK – 114. Shades of Skepticism

Skepticism is an essential tool for rational thought, but knowing when & how to use it is hard…I think???

(NOTE: the form of skepticism described here is sometimes known as “radical skepticism.”)

-Links for the Curious-

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Skepticism – plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/

Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing, Kahan et al, 2017 – onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pops.12396/full

Skepticism on RationalWiki (a resourse of the “skeptic” community, essentially advocates of scientific primacy) – rationalwiki.org/wiki/Skepticism

THUNK 18 – Skepticism & Empiricism (where I cover an alternate version of skepticism called Pyrrhonian skepticism) – www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y78EScMnTsk

THUNK 86 – Cognitive Biases & the Socratic Method – www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO-CGN78gdY

THUNK 58 – The Problem of Induction – www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu6kkLJ58Z0

THUNK – 113. Memetics & Punching Nazis


In the constant struggle between memes, the punching of Nazis barely scratches the surface of the conflict.

CW: Physical assault

-Links for the Curious-

Spencer punched while explaining his Pepe the Frog pin – www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rh1dhur4aI

Dawkins on Memes – www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BVpEoQ4T2M

CGP Grey on Complementary Outrage – www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc

PBS Idea Channel on Pepe the Frog – www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uXYIdvV1CU

Dan Dennett on Dangerous Memes – www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzGjEkp772s

“On Liberty,” by John Stuart Mill, an important building block of our current understanding of free speech & harm – www.gutenberg.org/files/34901/34901-h/34901-h.htm

The SEP’s fantastic summary of the nuances of freedom of speech – plato.stanford.edu/entries/freedom-speech/