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Do gut feelings hurt science decisions?

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From R. Kelly Garrett at Phys.org:

Where people differ is in how often they do so. A 2016 survey that my colleague Brian Weeks and I conducted found that 50.3 percent of all Americans agreed with the statement “I trust my gut to tell me what’s true and what’s not.” Some of those polled felt quite strongly about it: About one in seven (14.6 percent) strongly agreed, while one in 10 (10.2 percent) strongly disagreed.

Gut feelings tell many of us not to trust anything in social sciences except the Sokal hoaxes played on its practitioners. But now and then, we learn something that reminds us vaguely of the world we live in:

Another study found that people with the strongest reasoning skills and the highest science literacy also tend to be more biased in their interpretation of new information. Even asking people to “think carefully” can lead to more biased answers.

In this context, our results are surprising. There are many individual qualities that seem like they should promote accuracy, but don’t.

Valuing evidence, however, appears to be an exception. The bigger the role evidence plays in shaping a person’s beliefs, the more accurate that person tends to be. More.

Most of the article sounds like an effort to reassure us that if we believe whatever the establishment tells us, despite all the scandals, we are doing the right thing. It would have been much stronger if it addressed some of the many instances where the establishment has just been wrong or off base about something for decades, as in many nutrition issues.

See also: What? Questioning evolution is not science denial?

Steve Fuller: Brexit, the repudiation of experts, and intelligent design

and

Study: More education leads to more doubt of science “consensus”

14 Replies to “Do gut feelings hurt science decisions?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Trusting your gut means checking new input against the set of theories your brain has formed from many years of direct experimentation.

    That’s science BY DEFINITION.

    Paid scientists trust their grant instead of trusting their gut.

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    Increasingly, I note an air of conspiracy in NEWS’s posts.

    The idea of trusting one’s ‘gut’, over one’s brain is perhaps the most insidious form of modern tom foolery ever perpetrated.

    I don’t trust politicians who have ‘gut’ feelings on policy. (I have a, ‘gut’ Heh:), feeling they have alterior motives for policy.) I don’t trust business people with a ‘gut’ feeling on what the customer wants. All of religion is based upon ‘gut’ feeling, and look where that insightful thought process brought us. (It is my ‘gut’ feeling to be sceptical of the overtly religious, they often fall flat.)

    The only people I trust to follow their ‘gut’ are artists, writers and muscians, and of course they are also letting their right hemisphere take over, the ‘gut’ is nowhere to be seen.

    There is one field of human endeavour where, if you explained to your colleagues, you had a ‘gut’ feeling about something, you would be laughed out of existance; science.

    No, ID can keep its ‘gut’, I’ll stick with the evidence, and people who interpret that evidence, who don’t use their, ‘gut!’

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:

    polistra,

    ‘Trusting your gut means…’

    This means trusting your decision making upon an organ which is evolved for digestion.

    I’m well aware of the folksy metaphor, that your misgivings about something are worthwhile and deserve consideration. This is wise, and many errors have been avoided by people second guessing other people. But in each and every instance it is the evolved brain, evolved behaviour, and learned behaviour which has caused disaster to be avoided.

    Evolution beautifully explains the childish reference to our, ‘gut feelings’. They are the feelings that nature has bestowed to avoid unknown, but possible danger.

    So, do ‘gut’ feelings harm science? Without doubt, yes! They also probably harm you, be careful of your, ‘gut’.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    rvb8:

    I’ll stick with the evidence, and people who interpret that evidence, who don’t use their, ‘gut!’

    But there isn’t any evidence that supports the claims of your position and yet you still accept its claims. That tells us that all you have is your gut.

  5. 5
    rvb8 says:

    Evidence?:)

    The geological time scale.
    The fossil record.
    DNA analysis, comparison, similarities, junk.
    Vestigial organs.
    Biogeography.
    Very, very, poor Design.
    Embryonic comparison, development, similarities.
    Observation.
    Bacterial resistance.
    All the good scientists, universities, private companies accept it, and use it.
    More shoddy design, the eye, the knee, the back, appendix, wisdom teeth, tail bone (tail bone, Heh???? many, many, other bodily stupidities, explainable by one fact only; evolution.
    Monkeys look like us.
    Animals share similar evolved organs.
    Why do we have 46 pairs of chromosomes, and God’s lower great apes, Chimps, Gorillas, Orangs, have 48? Are they higher in God’s creation order, and therefore more complicated?
    Homology: anthropology, biology, chemistry.
    The Grand Canyon.
    Many things I have missed!

    Ooooh, “and my ‘gut’, heh:)”

    ID evidence: “Looks complicated, therefore God, Heh:)”

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    rvb8: ID evidence: “Looks complicated, therefore God, Heh:)”

    Hi Troll!

  7. 7
    Origenes says:

    rvb8 looks at an iPhone and thinks to himself: “Looks complicated, therefore it must be designed”. And then he starts laughing uncontrollably …

  8. 8
    ET says:

    rvb8- Yours doesn’t have a mechanism capable of getting beyond populations of prokaryotes and that is starting with populations of prokaryotes. And that means the fossil record isn’t evidence for it. True it is evidence just not for blind watchmaker evolution. DNA? You have to be given DNA-based organisms to start.

    Common design explains the similarities just fine. What Common Descent cannot do, let alone Common Descent via blind and mindless processes, is account for all of the anatomical and physiological DIFFERENCES observed between two allegedly related species like humans and chimps. With only an alleged 1-2% genetic difference linking those differences should be easy-peasy and yet no one can. It’s as if there isn’t any link and the only relation is in the feeble minds of materialists.

    Bacterial resistance to anti-biotics falls well within YEC’s version of “variation within a Kind”. Vestigial organs is a case of the assumption interpreting the evidence. Homology is the more of the same.

    Again, what you lack is a mechanism capable of producing the biodiversity observed, along with the ability to understand that simple fact.

  9. 9
    rvb8 says:

    ET @8,

    “Common design explains the similarities just fine.”

    I’ve heard this from creationists before.

    But that common design, and silly complexity argument (we are the height of creation), falls sompletely down when we look at DNA.

    You will say, ‘look four nucleobases make all DNA, more common design!’

    The only problem with the silly, ‘common design’ argument is numbers. That is God gave us 46 pairs, and gave the potato, hare, deer mouse, and beavor 48? They need more, “information”, Heh:)

    He gave the strawberry, and capuchin monkey 54, and humans a measily 46?

    He gave guinea pig, and horse 64 pairs, but man, God’s pinnacle a meagre 46?

    The grape fern gets 90 pairs, field horsetail 216 pairs? So much information; perhaps some is junk?

    Mulberry gets 308 pairs and the Atlas Blue butterfly a whopping 452pairs.

    This Designer of yours was rather spend thrift with His information, and it appears more ‘information’ is in no way related to complexity.

    Evolution explanes these genetic anomalies beautifully.

    Mung @6,

    Hi:)

  10. 10
    Origenes says:

    rvb8 @5

    Very, very, poor Design. …. More shoddy design, the eye, the knee, the back, appendix, wisdom teeth, tail bone …

    Granville Sewell once wrote about the bad design argument: “To a purely logical person, this is not a valid objection because bad design is still design.” He is obviously right of course. Moreover, ID does not make any claims about the intelligent designer(s) of life.

    However, the following question is still an interesting one: are there any unequivocal examples of bad design? If so, perhaps rvb8 can let us know.

    I have Jonathan Wells’ ‘Zombie Science’ right at hand. Rvb8 mentions the eye, perhaps he would like to be informed about e.g. the advantages of the inverted retina. ‘Vestigial organs’, such as the ‘tail bone’, appendix and so forth, it’s all covered in this excellent book.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    rvb8:

    But that common design, and silly complexity argument (we are the height of creation), falls sompletely down when we look at DNA.

    LoL! Your position can’t even explain the existence of DNA

    Evolution explanes these genetic anomalies beautifully.

    Blind watchmaker evolution doesn’t explain anything beyond diseases and deformities. It cannot explain chromosomes so you lose, as usual.

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    Origenes,

    Mr Wells’s excellent book is known to scientists in the field and researchers to be at the cutting edge of evolutionary study.

    It is amazing how this rigorous text is constantly referred to in the academic community, and more amazing still, how it has blown the silly idea of bad design (i.e. wisdom teeth) to smithereens.

    That Mr Wells has achieved, in one brilliant treatise, what 150 years of creationist apologetics has failed to do, will be a lasting testament to this man’s genius.

    Also, if you got to ‘evolutionnews.com’, you can find an excellent article written by the staunch defender of ID David Klinghoffer. It notes rather whimsically, how Behe’s idea of Irreducible Complexity, has now been recognised by the scientific community as being as significant as Darwin’s description of Natural Selection.

    It appears Wells and Behe will soon be resting next to Darwin in Westminster Abbey.

  13. 13
    Origenes says:

    rvb8

    rvb8: Mr Wells’s excellent book is known to scientists in the field and researchers to be at the cutting edge of evolutionary study.

    It is rather surprising to learn that you are aware of these matters. To be frank, I held you for someone who is completely out of touch with anything related to science.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    It appears Wells and Behe will soon be resting next to Darwin in Westminster Abbey.

    Why would they want to be buried next to someone who abandoned science?

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