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Science or just common sense?

When it’s really hard to tell, you have to know there is a problem.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG

One problem with social psychology’s claim to be a science is that the “edgy” findings so often turn out to be suspect. No surprise there because if they defy normal experience, they probably are suspect.

Put another way, it is easier to tell mature people something about particle physics that truly surprises them (but is true) than it is to tell them something about human nature that truly surprises them (and is also true).

Many people are genuinely surprised to discover that the elementary particles of our universe are non-local. They can be in two places at once. But never mind; that is not something most of us usually deal with in ordinary life. But when social psychologist Diederik Stapel claimed to demonstrate that untidy environments cause more racism, the public was in a better position to judge.

But there is a reverse problem too:  The results are unsurprising, but it is hard to say what contribution they would make to science if they are true, as they undoubtedly are. The paper described in “Why Do Haters Have to Hate? Newly Identified Personality Trait Holds Clues” seems to jump right into it:

New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality — a dimension that researchers have coined “dispositional attitude.”

People with a positive dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to like things, whereas people with a negative dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to dislike things, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Throughout the studies the researchers found that people with generally positive dispositional attitudes are more open than people with generally negative dispositional attitudes. In day-to-day practice, this means that people with positive dispositional attitudes may be more prone to actually buy new products, get vaccine shots, follow regular positive actions (recycling, driving carefully, etc.)

This surprising and novel discovery expands attitude theory …

Actually, it is not surprising or novel and doesn’t expand anything. We’ve all dealt with both types of people.

There is even popular lore on the subject: Give a new proposal to some of each of these two types of people, and you will most swiftly and conveniently learn what is good and bad about it.

But how did this good-enough conventional wisdom become science? Thoughts?

Paper: Justin Hepler, Dolores Albarracín. Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013; 104 (6): 1060 DOI: 10.1037/a0032282

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6 Responses to Science or just common sense?

  1. The wages of sin is, indeed, death, but the wages of scientism is imbecility. It’s a natural regression. Why, it even gives fuel to the insults of the loony-toons, Pinkerton, or whatever his name is. By the way, he looks, perhaps, fittingly, more like a successful conjuror than anything, doesn’t he?

    It is so half-baked, I wonder if it isn’t an Onion skit. They can seem very authentic. For example, predicting Bush’s political programme to a tee:

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....-pros,464/

    … and politicians musing on how they might create and another economic ‘bubble’.

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....inve,2486/

    It is not so different from a young lad wearing the football strip of his favourite team, hoping some of the glamour will attach to it. Though there’s a delicious humour in the thought of glamour attaching to scientism (perhaps with P J Myers or Coyne, as its charismatic poster-boy).

  2. HISTORIAN and sociologist H. G. Wells, born in 1866, exerted a powerful influence on 20th-century thinking. Through his writings, he expounded his conviction that the millennium would coincide with the onward march of science. Thus, Collier’s Encyclopedia recalls Wells’ “boundless optimism” as he worked unceasingly to advance his cause. But it also notes that his optimism was shattered when World War II erupted.

    As Wells came to the realization that “science could work for evil as well as for good, his faith deserted him, and he declined into pessimism,” states Chambers’s Biographical Dictionary. Why did this happen?

    Wells’ faith and optimism were based solely on human achievements. When he realized that mankind was incapable of attaining his Utopia, he had nowhere else to turn. Desperation quickly turned into pessimism.

    Today, many people have the same experience for the same reason. They are bubbling with optimism when they are young but fall into sullen pessimism as they get older. There are even young ones who give up on the so-called normal way of life and indulge in drug abuse, promiscuity, and other destructive life-styles.

    There is only one true basis for optimism today. That is the Book most people are too busy to read, God’s Word, the Bible.

  3. Since this is an article on quantum non-locality and racism, I think this quote from Martin Luther King would be very fitting:

    “The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.”
    - Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

    That objective moral values exist is readily apparent to most people with common sense, save for the most die hard atheists who are willing to deny anything and everything rather than ever admit there is evidence for God:

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    But do we have actual empirical evidence for ‘moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws’ as Dr. King held? I think we have very good tentative evidence that moral laws are just as abiding as physical laws. In this following study it is found that,,,

    Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows – November 29, 2012
    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....brain.html

    Which is pretty good, especially considering the fact that neo-Darwinists cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable, unchanging, cause for objective morality;

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc;

    And although a split second reaction to hateful actions is pretty good, non-locality of morals (i.e. morals that arise outside of space and time and are grounded in God’s nature) demands a more ‘spooky action at a distance’ proof. And due to seemingly miraculous advances in science we now even have evidence to this ‘non-local’ level:

    Quantum Consciousness – Time Flies Backwards? – Stuart Hameroff MD
    Excerpt: Dean Radin and Dick Bierman have performed a number of experiments of emotional response in human subjects. The subjects view a computer screen on which appear (at randomly varying intervals) a series of images, some of which are emotionally neutral, and some of which are highly emotional (violent, sexual….). In Radin and Bierman’s early studies, skin conductance of a finger was used to measure physiological response They found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared! Recently Professor Bierman (University of Amsterdam) repeated these experiments with subjects in an fMRI brain imager and found emotional responses in brain activity up to 4 seconds before the stimuli. Moreover he looked at raw data from other laboratories and found similar emotional responses before stimuli appeared.
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....Flies.html

    Thus we actually have very good evidence supporting Dr. King’s observation that ‘that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws’. In fact, since the emotional reactions in fact happen before the images are viewed, one could be somewhat justified in holding the view that morality may abide at a deeper level of the universe than the physical laws themselves do.

    Supplemental note:

    Stephen Meyer – Morality Presupposes Theism (1 of 4) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpdh1b0X_M

    Music and verse:

    Beautiful Day – Jamie Grace
    http://myktis.com/songs/beautiful-day/

    Mark 10:18
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

  4. Very enlightening, Philip, though I’m not surprised. I expect new chocolate flavours(!), and I’m sure I’ve experienced pre-cognitions of that kind of relatively trivial order.

  5. Somehow, it seems as if, with these egregiously vain attempts at subjecting the mind to the prosaic and pedantic discipline of empirical testing, they have finally managed to bring even common sense, the last frontier ‘avant Le Deluge, into disrepute. Our atheist friends have truly excelled themselves.

  6. Thanks Axel, Hammeroff has been giving atheists fits for years.

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