Brian Dunning, Is the “Skeptical Thing” Over? |363|

#44
"Is the “Skeptical Thing” Over?"

In the video below, Scott Adams, who is a trained hypnotist and writer on the psychology of persuasion (in addition to being the author of the comic strip Dilbert), says people are 90% irrational and 10% rational. We make decisions based on emotions not facts. He says you can't be a hypnotist if you don't understand that because otherwise nothing about hypnotism would make sense. He also brings up the argument that evolution selects for reproductive success not rationality. Adams says because people are fundamentally not rational, it is normal for different people to have widely different world views. He gives the example of people who are pro and anti Trump, but it seems to me that it is also true of materialists and non-materialists. So I think we can infer the disagreement between materialists and non-materialists is normal and we should not expect reason (evidence) to make it go away.

Personally, I find this notion that the existence of differing world views is normal to be somewhat comforting because it indicates the need for acceptance and tolerance rather than conflict and frustration in questions of philosophy and politics.

I'm pretty sure Adams is a materialist and I think it would be interesting to have him on the podcast to discuss whether he thinks belief in materialism is rational. (I'm pretty sure he will say believe in the paranormal is not rational). Adams says that knowing the techniques of persuasion doesn't necessarily protect you from their effects. He gives the example that pricing things at $9.99 causes more sales than pricing them at $10.00 even though it is obvious to everyone that the price difference is negligible. Adams says even though you can't tell directly if you are suffering from mass hysteria, you can tell indirectly when someone is suffering from it because the signs of cognitive dissonance are inappropriate reactions . He gives the overreaction (name calling, bullying, crying etc) of some anti-Trump voters as an example. According to this logic Adams should also agree that the the name calling and bullying tactics (more here) of pseudo-skeptics are a sign of cognitive dissonance. So I think Adams ought to be willing to acknowledge the possibility that materialism is not rational and might be a form of mass hysteria even if he believes materialism is true.

Adams also discusses global warming and says that even if CO2 is causing an increase in temperature, long range economic models are worthless so predictions of catastrophe are also worthless.

When Facts Don't Matter | Scott Adams and Stefan Molyneux
 
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#45
I can't stand Stefan or his economic beliefs (lie-bertarian) or his weird cult and misogynism so even though that sounds like something I'd be really interested in I can't do it. :(

> He also brings up the argument that evolution selects for reproductive success not rationality.

As much as I hate to admit it, I realized recently that skeptics exist for a reason. Like, they are a tool that the universe uses to achieve a different sort of things than the navel gazing type. They might need to not be distracted with other matters in order to intently focus on a particular problem/idea/thing, like the mating habits of shrews or whatever. They need to really *invest* in material reality, you know? (Hypnosis: I just said the same thing three times.) It's a magical spell like any other, it just binds them to the illusion harder (not to dismiss the illusion, it's still an expression worth having) and if, like minecraft, the rest of the world isn't really fleshed out until you walk toward it, maybe they're just filling in the finer details. I mean, somebody's got to do it.
 
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#48
In the video below, Scott Adams, who is a trained hypnotist and writer on the psychology of persuasion (in addition to being the author of the comic strip Dilbert), says people are 90% irrational and 10% rational. We make decisions based on emotions not facts. He says you can't be a hypnotist if you don't understand that because otherwise nothing about hypnotism would make sense.
I wanted to understand more about this so I looked into some references on persuasion to see how people are influenced by factors other than facts and logic. Adams has a list of recommended books on persuasion and I tried to find information online about what those authors wrote. What I found is that the vast majority of the techniques of persuasion identified by experts are based on psychological or rhetorical "tricks" that have nothing to do with facts and logic. I think that is what Adams means when he says people are not rational.

Here are some excerpts from Adams reading list on persuasion. I did not list all the books, just examples that help convey what a category is about. See the link for the full list. The full list includes books on skepticism including books by authors such as James Randi that show people are poor judges of objective reality. It also includes books by authors such as Sam Harris that support the belief that we are biological robots "moist robots" .
http://blog.dilbert.com/2015/09/24/the-persuasion-reading-list/
I have grouped the reading list by virtual chapters as if this is one meta book.
...
Chapter 1 – Things You Can Stop Believing
The first chapter is designed to make you skeptical about your ability to comprehend reality. If you are already a hardcore skeptic, you can skip this chapter.
  • An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural – by James Randi
...
Chapter 2 – Stretching your Imagination
These books are selected to open your mind for what follows. If you have experience with LSD or mushrooms, you might not need this chapter. (Yes, I am serious.)
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull – by Richard Bach
...

Chapter 3 – The Moist Robot Hypothesis
The Moist Robot Hypothesis first appears in my book that is listed below. The idea is that humans are biological machines, subject to cause and effect. According to this view, free will is an illusion and humans can be programmed once you understand our user interface.

With this chapter I ease you into the notion that humans are mindless robots by showing you how we are influenced by design, habit, emotion, food, and words. Until you accept the Moist Robot view of the world it will be hard to use your tools of persuasion effectively because you will doubt your own effectiveness and people will detect your doubt. Confidence is an important part of the process of influence.
  • Free Will – by Sam Harris
...
Chapter 4 – Active Persuasion
...
  • Trump: The Art of the Deal – Donald J. Trump
...
Here are some of the techniques of persuasion I found discussed by some authors on the list (Blair Warren and Robert Cialdini) and by some authors not on the list (I have a link to web site about NLP but the page I quoted from does not mention the NLP authors on Adams list: Grinder and Bandler - I don't know if the quote does or does not reflect their views.) Notice that these methods of persuasion do not rely on facts and logic, that is what I think Adams means when he says people are not rational. And there is a difference between not using reason and using faulty reasoning. But even when people are not using reason, if you ask them why they did something, they will give reasons. Our experience is that we think we are rational even when we are not using facts and logic ie reasoning. And by "we" I mean materialists, non-materialists, new-agers, and self identified super-rational "skeptics".
  • Blair Warren wrote: "People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies." :http://www.actionplan.com/pdf/BlairWarren.pdf
  • Certain words can influence you to think in ways that will cause your own mind to aid in persuading you. For example, if someone says, "Imagine ...", it causes you to visualize what they want to to believe. "Because" is also a "power" word. When you give a reason, even a weak one, people are more likely to do what you ask. "You" is another "power" word. More of these "power" words and explanations of why they work can be found at these links:
  • Robert Cialdini is a professor of psychology who is a well known author on the subject of persuasion. He has identified several "principles of influence":http://changingminds.org/techniques/general/cialdini/cialdini.htm
    • Reciprocity - We feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us.
    • Consistency and commitment - When we make a promise, we feel obliged to work hard to fulfil that promise. When we make a decision, we like to feel that this is the right decision for us.
    • Social proof - We copy what others do, especially when we are unsure.
    • Liking - If you can make people like you for example by showing them you are like them and or by praising them, they will be easier to persuade.
    • Authority - We defer to people who seem superior.
    • Scarcity - When things become less available, they become more desirable.
    • Click, Whirr - When certain cues are presented to us, we feel an urge to complete actions that have, in the past, been successfully paired with the cue.
    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/282642
    • Unity - Any sense of shared identity such as family, ethnicity, geography, etc. can aid in persuasion.
    .
    You can take an on-line quiz to test your knowledge of these principles at https://www.qzzr.com/.

  • Subliminal Persuasion, Conversational Hypnosis: The web site nlpnation.com explains several techniques of subliminal persuasion or conversational hypnosis.
    If someone tries to influence you directly you might naturally resist them. But there are several techniques that can be used to sneak information past your "resistance filter". The general principle is that instead of making a statement or suggestion directly, it is included in a broader statement so you hear it indirectly while you are focused on something else.
    1. Questions: If someone makes a direct statement, you might doubt it. But if they put the information into a question that assumes what they want you to believe, you may get distracted thinking about the answer to the question rather than whether the premise is true.
    2. "And" and "But": If someone tells you something you don't want to hear you might start to argue with them. But if they give you the bad news first followed by "but" and something good or positive, you are less likely to start arguing. They also might add more positive statements linked by "and".
    3. Because: People are more likely to do what they're asked if given a reason even if the reason is not very compelling. If things seem to make sense people don't look too closely at it and it may slip past their resistance filter.
    4. A means B: This is another way to sneak things through your resistance filter. If you're reading this, it means you are learning important information that will help you avoid being manipulated. That sentance was an example of a means b. Did you notice it?
    5. Awareness patterns: Certain words and phrases cause you to assume what is being said is true rather than question it. For example, "As you know ... ", "Clearly...", "Undoubtedly ...", "I'm sure you realize / notice / see ..."
    6. Agreement Frames: Instead of disagreeing outright someone may say they agree, but then try to convince you of something else. "I agree, and this means ..." or "I agree, and what's more ...". Notice they use the word "and" not "but". They may agree in principle or agree that something about what you said is true without ever directly saying they disagree.
    7. Pacing and Leading: This technique tries to sneak a suggestion past your resistance filter by presenting you with a natural progression of events. You get distracted by the logic of the progression and are more willing to accept the suggestion.
    The article at nlpnation.com has links to pages with example that illustrate these methods.
The subject of persuasion is related to the subject of how internet applications are designed to make you use them compusively which also shows how we are influenced by factors other than facts and logic. In particular we will unconsciously do things that cause the brain to produce chemicals like dopamine that are involved in experiencing pleasure. Here are some links and excerpts on that subject:
Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, said

https://www.axios.com/sean-parker-unloads-on-facebook-2508036343.html


... The thought process that went into building these applications ... was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?' And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you more likes and comments.

It's a social-validation feedback loop it's like exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators - it's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people - understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.
...
God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains.​
I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me.Roger McNamee, Aug. 8, 2017, usatoday.com

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opin...s-made-fortune-but-now-they-menace/543755001/

Facebook and Google get their revenue from advertising, the effectiveness of which depends on gaining and maintaining consumer attention. Borrowing techniques from the gambling industry, Facebook, Google and others exploit human nature, creating addictive behaviors that compel consumers to check for new messages, respond to notifications, and seek validation from technologies whose only goal is to generate profits for their owners.

...

Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term. Users fail to recognize the warning signs of addiction until it is too late.

...

Consider a recent story from Australia, where someone at Facebook told advertisers that they had the ability to target teens who were sad or depressed, which made them more susceptible to advertising.

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In the United States, Facebook once demonstrated its ability to make users happier or sadder by manipulating their news feed.

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The fault lies with advertising business models that drive companies to maximize attention at all costs, leading to ever more aggressive brain hacking.

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The Facebook application has 2 billion active users around the world. Google’s YouTube has 1.5 billion. These numbers are comparable to Christianity and Islam, respectively, giving Facebook and Google influence greater than most First World countries. They are too big and too global to be held accountable. Other attention-based apps — including Instagram, WhatsApp, WeChat, SnapChat and Twitter — also have user bases between 100 million and 1.3 billion. Not all their users have had their brains hacked, but all are on that path. And there are no watchdogs.

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Incentives being what they are, we cannot expect Internet monopolies to police themselves. There is little government regulation and no appetite to change that. If we want to stop brain hacking, consumers will have to force changes at Facebook and Google.​

Nir Eyal is showing software designers how to hook users in four easy steps. Welcome to the new era of habit-forming technology. by Ted Greenwald in technologyreview.com
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/535906/compulsive-behavior-sells/
Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back.​
How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris May 18, 2016
https://journal.thriveglobal.com/ho...ian-and-google-s-design-ethicist-56d62ef5edf3
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” — Unknown.

...

I’m an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities.

...

I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.

...

And this is exactly what product designers do to your mind. They play your psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against you in the race to grab your attention. I want to show you how they do it.

...

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices

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By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones.

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Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets

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If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

...

When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.

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When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.

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When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.

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When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.

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When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.

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Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI)

...

Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”

...

Hijack #4: Social Approval

...

When I get tagged by my friend Marc, I imagine him making a conscious choice to tag me. But I don’t see how a company like Facebook orchestrated his doing that in the first place.

...

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

...

Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts.

...

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay

...

News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave. It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t).

...

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery

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Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox).

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Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons

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For example, when you you want to look up a Facebook event happening tonight (your reason) the Facebook app doesn’t allow you to access it without first landing on the news feed (their reasons), and that’s on purpose. Facebook wants to convert every reason you have for using Facebook, into their reason which is to maximize the time you spend consuming things.

...

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices

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Businesses naturally want to make the choices they want you to make easier, and the choices they don’t want you to make harder.

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For example, NYTimes.com lets you “make a free choice” to cancel your digital subscription. But instead of just doing it when you hit “Cancel Subscription,” they send you an email with information on how to cancel your account by calling a phone number that’s only open at certain times. Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies

...

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies

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Lastly, apps can exploit people’s inability to forecast the consequences of a click.

...

People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click to see which tweet got retweeted”) and escalate from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick.

...

I’ve listed a few techniques but there are literally thousands.​
 
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#51
cross-posting...
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/you-do-not-think-alone/

People overestimate how well they understand how things work. Direct evidence for this comes from the psychological laboratory. The great Yale psychologist Frank Keil and his students first demonstrated the illusion of explanatory depth, what we call the knowledge illusion. He asked people how well they understand how everyday objects (zippers, toilets, ballpoint pens) work. On average, people felt they had a reasonable understanding (at the middle of a 7-point scale). Then Keil asked them to explain how they work. People failed miserably. For the most part, people just can’t articulate the mechanisms that drive even the simplest things.
"Is the “Skeptical Thing” Over?"

In the video below, Scott Adams, who is a trained hypnotist and writer on the psychology of persuasion (in addition to being the author of the comic strip Dilbert), says people are 90% irrational and 10% rational. We make decisions based on emotions not facts. He says you can't be a hypnotist if you don't understand that because otherwise nothing about hypnotism would make sense. He also brings up the argument that evolution selects for reproductive success not rationality.
I wanted to understand more about this so I looked into some references on persuasion to see how people are influenced by factors other than facts and logic. Adams has a list of recommended books on persuasion and I tried to find information online about what those authors wrote. What I found is that the vast majority of the techniques of persuasion identified by experts are based on psychological or rhetorical "tricks" that have nothing to do with facts and logic. I think that is what Adams means when he says people are not rational.
Part of the problem is that groupthink creates an illusion of understanding. People think they believe things because they understand them, but they really believe them only because other people believe them.

https://www.economist.com/news/book...g-knowledge-between-minds-making-people-think

DO YOU know how a toilet works? What about a bicycle, or a zipper? Most people can provide half answers at best. They struggle to explain basic inventions, let alone more complex and abstract ones. Yet somehow, in spite of people’s ignorance, they created and navigate the modern world. A new book, “The Knowledge Illusion” sets out to tackle this apparent paradox: how can human thinking be so powerful, yet so shallow?

...

The authors call this the illusion of understanding, and they demonstrate it with a simple experiment. Subjects are asked to rate their understanding of something, then to write a detailed account of it, and finally to rate their understanding again. The self-assessments almost invariably drop. The authors see this effect everywhere, from toilets and bicycles to complex policy issues.
 
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#54
Its well documented if you care to do the research, that Hypnosis, Reiki, etc are pagan practices
I’ve been under the impression the hypnotism trades on suggestion and expectation, but I’m keen to look into any links you have. Hopefully those links will also define “pagan practices”. :eek:
 
#59
Its well documented if you care to do the research, that Hypnosis, Reiki, etc are pagan practices
They have been and are in some areas, sure. But I thought we were talking specifically about how hypnosis is Poor witchcraft. By the way I'm a trained hypnotist under HMI, so it's interesting you linked my college.
 
#60
I have a friend who is a certified hypnotist got certified in New York by some lady....name is not ringing a bell, hypnosis has been practiced by pagan/witches for a long time

ladies name might be melissa?
 
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