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Point of Inquiry podcast - RD Extra: Deceived Into ThinkingDid Reason Evolve For Arguing? - Hugo Mercier


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This episode features the lecture "Deceived Into Thinking: Teaching Students to Think Critically Through The Study of Deception" presented by Jeremy Beahan to CFI Michigan on May 11th, 2011Description:After trying (unsuccessfully) to get young students excited about learning informal logic, Jeremy Beahan began flirting with a different strategy. Perhaps a better way to convey the value of fair-minded/ critical thinking would be through the study of its intellectual opposite

Host: Chris Mooney

Why are human beings simultaneously capable of reasoning, and yet so bad at it? Why do we have such faulty mechanisms as the "confirmation bias" embedded in our brains, and yet at the same time, find ourselves capable of brilliant rhetoric and complex mathematical calculations?

According to Hugo Mercier, we've been reasoning about reason all wrong. Reasoning is very good at what it probably evolved to let us do—argue in favor of what we believe and try to convince others that we're right.

In a recent and much discussed paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Research, Mercier and his colleague Dan Sperber proposed what they call an "argumentative theory of reason." "A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis," they write.

Given the discussion this proposal has prompted, Point of Inquiry wanted to hear from Mercier to get more elaboration on his ideas.

Hugo Mercier is a postdoc in the Philosophy, Policy, and Economics program at the University of Pennsylvania. He blogs for Psychology Today.

 

http://pointofinquiry.libsyn.com/did-reason-evolve-for-arguing-hugo-mercier

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