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Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours

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Peter Grant
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« on: August 03, 2010, 18:51:47 PM »

Watched this great TED talk at work today, evolutionary psychology is so interesting:

Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours

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Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.


Not only is Laurie Santos fun to watch, the monkeys are cute too. Grin

You can download it here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/download/video/9712/talk/927
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Peter Grant
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 21:47:13 PM »

One of the most fascinating things about skepticism is the woo. I admit it, I'm a woo-aholic. I'm addicted to all the different creative forms irrationality can take, but strangely there is less diversity than one would think. There should me infinitely more ways to get things wrong than there are to get things right but most connoisseurs of woo will acknowledge that it all seems to follow a similar pattern. After a while you can spot it almost instinctively, all woo feels similar. It seems probable then that all woo is based on similar mistakes in thinking which can be traced back to our evolutionary past, that's why I found this lecture so interesting.

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cyghost
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 09:35:28 AM »

For me it is religion and faith that I find both fascinating and horrifying. Other woo bores me to tears and I have no energy to argue against conspiracy theories for instance. But I must agree that I notice woo far easier these days but ascribed that to being older.

Certainly interesting to think that it all has the same undertones. Are we saying one prescribing to a particular brand of woo is more susceptible to other woo?
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Peter Grant
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 13:00:58 PM »

For me it is religion and faith that I find both fascinating and horrifying. Other woo bores me to tears and I have no energy to argue against conspiracy theories for instance. But I must agree that I notice woo far easier these days but ascribed that to being older.

Religion is a bit too formalised these days, I find the more obscure religions and the relatively recent cults which have sprung up more interesting.

Certainly interesting to think that it all has the same undertones. Are we saying one prescribing to a particular brand of woo is more susceptible to other woo?

It does seem likely, though it depends on how many different types of mistakes in our thinking can be traced back to our evolutionary past. Since woo is so popular it also seems likely that there is a genetic component to the predisposition to believe it.
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