On this Rational Pi Day, consider some of our irrational societal behaviors. Begin to take the first steps towards quelling those and taking more rational approaches to the issues that will impact us all.
At this point, I can hear readers of faith saying: "But you can't blame religion for murder. People kill whether they are religious or not!" Certainly, they do. But religion is one the most insidiously lethal accelerators of violence this side of an unfaithful lover.
I'm all for development of superior machine intelligence that can help the world out with its brilliant analytical skills. But programming AI with mammalian ideas, modern-day philosophies, and the fallibilities of the human spirit is dangerous and will possibly lead to total chaos.
While we used to feel inspired by our country, we now feel disenchanted. While we used to hope, now we doubt. And rather than listening to leaders who unite us, too often we pay heed to demagogues like Rush Limbaugh whose sole source of profit comes from division and discord.
Americans may be getting less violent, but we should absolutely not be getting more apathetic and isolationist. The world is a dangerous place with some very violent people in it, as well as some very unfortunate wars between groups that have been set against each other by proxies.
Good problem solvers are good thinkers. They have less drama and problems to begin with and don't get overly emotional when faced with a problem. They usually see problems as challenges and life experiences and try to stand above them, objectively.
The take-home message from this body of research is this: What counts as a fair transaction depends in large part on perceived relative social status -- where the parties stand in their perceived hierarchy and how they believe they got there.
We're continuing to raid, bomb and terrorize Fourth World countries and pointlessly harvest global metadata. We're still "completing our mission" in Afghanistan. We're just phasing out the government functions that have value.
You believe in God or astrology or a purpose in life because you apply ideas about people -- that they have thoughts and intentions -- to the natural world. What has not been clarified is exactly how various cognitive biases interact to produce specific ideas about the supernatural -- until now.
When I say I am not a believer, it doesn't mean I believe nothing. It is that belief is not central to my religious and spiritual life. As a matter of fact, belief holds little importance to me at all.
The brain relies on several instincts to help us survive, and sometimes they conflict. One fear can literally contradict another. That's the case with climate change. The bad news is that at this point, the wrong ones are winning. The good news is, things may be changing.
Although there is considerable disagreement about whether education kills religious faith, people's chances of identifying as religious believers declines with scientific education and education in rational thinking.
Here's the classic economic view of your car-purchasing behavior: You walk into a dealership, choose a car based on brand, color, cylinders, looks and general feel and then start comparing prices among different options.