This comic based on this review of Not Born Yesterday by Hugo Mercier. It’s on my reading list.

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Discussion (23)¬

  1. Smee says:

    We might be naturally sceptical, but an awful lot of us seem incapable of the next step analysing the evidence!

  2. Oozoid says:

    Good old Mo. My kind of meta-sceptic.

  3. jb says:

    I haven’t read Not Born Yesterday, but if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat I can strongly recommend The Enigma of Reason, by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. It argues that, contrary to what philosophers have believed for centuries, the fundamental purpose of the human faculty of reason is not to understand the world through logical analysis of facts (something we are actually quite bad at), but to win arguments with other people. I found it a difficult book that required sustained focus to follow, not because there is anything wrong with the prose (which is admirably clear), but because the book puts forward new ideas on a subject that is intrinsically difficult. It was worth it though, and I came away feeling that I had a better understanding of what is going on in people’s heads (my own included).

  4. Laripu says:

    Near the end of the review it says:

    ‘ The social scientist Toshio Yamagishi ran experiments and found that “the most trustful of their participants — those more likely to think that other people can be trusted were also the best at ascertaining who should be trusted”. ‘

    Conversely, the least trustful people are those who are worst at ascertaining who should be trusted. That’s a cognitive bias that makes them more likely to believe those who tell them that authorities (like scientists or doctors) should not be trusted.

    It’s why dim people fall for DT’s “only I can fix it”. He says all the authorities are wrong. He says all the smart people are stupid. He plays to the distrusting nature of those who can’t determine who is trustworthy.

  5. Roo BOOKAROO says:

    Laripu says “It’s why dim people fall for DT’s “only I can fix it”. He says all the authorities are wrong. He says all the smart people are stupid. He plays to the distrusting nature of those who can’t determine who is trustworthy.”
    I don’t believe this description a bit. It’s a caricature. A lot of people, including myself, have been following the saga of young Trump ever since he he came on the scene in Manhattan in 1978. We know he is essentially a showman, eager to inflate his role in public, and exaggerate the value of anything he does. He knows how to manipulate people, and that people manipulation is an art, not learnt easily, but honed in practicing it, as he put it in his book “The Art of the Deal”.But he has enough basic common sense to guide his own boat skillfully to avoid capsizing and disaster. You fall back on the cartoonish image of “dim people” to characterize millions of Americans who voted for him. It’s like the “deplorables” of Hillary Clinton. In fact, as the book review and the present cartoon hints at, people are less “dim” than you claim.

  6. M27Holts says:

    Bookaroo, I worked in the states in the early noughties. To finish off the contract I toured the southern states with a friend…the level of general knowledge in the people we encountered was ridiculously sparse…what percentage of the usa populace believe in the biblical creation story and think that evolution isnt true? More than 50% I should think…

  7. Anonymous says:

    M27Holts – You’re not far off. On this website from a poll done in July 2018

    it says

    ”Forty percent of U.S. adults ascribe to a strictly creationist view of human origins, believing that God created them in their present form within roughly the past 10,000 years. However, more Americans continue to think that humans evolved over millions of years — either with God’s guidance (33%) or, increasingly, without God’s involvement at all (22%).”

  8. Laripu says:

    Bookaroo – Hillary Clinton wasn’t wrong about deplorables. The level of reaction she got from it showed how sensitive people are too it. In fact, most people are stupid. And many people are racist. About 35%, I’d estimate, are both stupid and racist. If you want to visualize the stupid, look at the entire left side of the normal curve… and even a bit on the right side.

    Moreover, even people who aren’t stupid do stupid things occasionally, from inattention or habit.

    The converse I cited is true: “the least trustful people are those who are worst at ascertaining who should be trusted”.

  9. I love that last panel, it’s a kind of infinite spiral. I got a bit dizzy staring at it.

  10. hotrats says:

    Bookaroo: ‘dim people’ is being generous. What sort of statesman continues to hold rallies after being elected, when they should be working? (Hint: they are all right-wing despots). And what sort of person would attend a rally like that, to cheer on his incoherent ramblings? (Hint: they are all white, and old, with nothing better to do).

    Trump adopts the persona of the guy who is ‘too smart’ to believe the experts, and will even contradict them on live TV. He makes a virtue of his manifest ignorance and amateurism. So far from being a canny operator, he is doing all that he has the capacity for; in diplomacy, administration and economics, he is out of his depth. He has made the USA an international laughing stock; at summit meetings, nobody wants to talk to him, or listen to him.

    He is quite clearly leading the untrusting underclass of the American body politic from the front. An awful lot of his tweets amount to warnings not to trust anyone he disagrees with, or from whom he perceives a threat, or slight. I find it entirely plausible that he and his audience have equally poor judgement in knowing who to trust. Being a habitual liar and braggart, he clearly has neither the capacity for trust, or the integrity to be trustworthy. Being a manipulative showman, which you give him credit for, is a qualification for running a circus, not a country.

    Anyone who still supports him after his belated and inadequate response to Covid-19 – recklessly downplaying the risks, having no planned response, and boasting about the ratings for his misleading press conferences – may not be exactly deplorable, but boy, are they dim.

  11. Deimos says:

    Saying dim people and Americans is pretty much redundant, most of them believe that “Hamilton” is historical fact.

    For an even better example have a look at the “George Washington and his dentures” story on the oatmeal’s website.

    Add in the fact that for many previous generations most mens first trip overseas was for invasion purposes.

    I like Americans but they are almost as bonkers as my English brethren.

  12. M27Holts says:

    Deimos, In my local, I would probably fail to find anybody who could not name several American states, or give good geographical info about most of the continents…but my colleague and I convinced an entire alabama bar, that we didn’t have wednesdays in Europe….we went from tuesday to thursday…they believed it hook, line and sinker…

  13. Alfred Etheredge says:

    M27Holts, I do not doubt your story but an Alabama bar? You weren’t fishing in the deep end of the lake.

  14. Son of Glenner says:

    M27Holts: Did none of the Alabamians ask how the Europeans got their weekly fix of J&M if there were no Wednesdays?

  15. jveeds says:

    hotrats: very well said. I especially liked the part about holding rallies. It seemed to me, back to the very days of the presidency in 2017, that Trump was holding clearly divisive rallies–a victory lap if you will–that served no purpose except to rev up his supporters. In effect, these were the start of his re-election campaign…before he even got down to business of failing to get Mexico to pay for a fictional wall. In fact, I believe Trump registered his re-election campaign that very January.

  16. M27Holts says:

    SOG. Once we realised, after the half an hour it took us to convince them that north west of england is not Scotland, Ireland or London…and that our weird accents were normal for manchester….we devised the ruse to see if any of the locals had any cognitive skills….I wasn’t going to let them know I was an atheist….that would have been folly…

  17. OtterBe says:

    You gotta be very circumspect when talking to the denizens of the Deep South! Eight years after being involuntarily transplanted to the South, I worked in Montgomery Alabama one week. I >thought< I had learned not to flaunt my liberal roots, but I guess I wasn’t careful enough. The security guard who watched us for the day we worked inside the building told my buddy, “Y’all best keep that boy FAH away from ‘Bama: mouthy boys with ideas disappeah down heah!”

  18. Laripu says:

    Ah, those Alabamans. Little did they know that the time saved by not having Wednesday is used for the spaghetti harvest.

  19. jb says:

    If you are interested in the American South, V. S. Naipal’s A Turn in the South is a wonderful introduction. The South has many, many different classes of people (castes even!) beyond just whites and blacks. If Google Books delivers for you, here’s an interesting anecdote about a particularly dangerous class of whites. The book refers to them as “crackers”, and I’ve seen them discussed elsewhere as “rednecks”. These days the word “redneck” become a generic — even proud — term for “good ol’ white boy,” but in the past (and maybe even today in the South) it had a much more specific meaning. Not people you want to mess with.

    BTW, my brother-in-law is from the South, and I have a bit of a sense of what people there are like. Most are very decent. But definitely kind of different from where I grew up.

  20. M27Holts says:

    The deep south was a different world from the west coast and Boston, where I worked for three months…We visited a baptist church the first sunday we had in Alabama. We were invited for a meal after the mass…As a guest I had to say grace…My mate always ribs me for my “May almighty God bless this food and all who are about to eat it…”..mind you the Apple pie was possibly the best I have ever tasted…haha

  21. Someone says:

    Laripu, I can picture that crazy hag running down the street, wailing those words like a banshee. Not sure whether it would be funnier if she was actually covered in some form of red liquid.

  22. postdoggerel says:

    Is it true that Baptists have mass?
    How is it that that came to pass?
    They have Catholics for cousins
    and they aren’t gauge bosons
    oh! their windows are made of lead glass.


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