On our known-terrible ability to know our terrible inabilities, or indeed much else, about ourselves and others.
- Evolutionary psychology is prone to some weirdness here.
David Banks, Podcast Out appealed to me.
[..]liberal infotainment is full of statements that sound like facts–what social media theorist Nathan Jurgenson calls “factiness” – that do nothing more than reinforce and rationalize the listeners’ already formed common sense, rather than transforming it: what you believed to be true before the show started was not wrong, it just lacked the veneer of factiness.
Each show delivers an old anecdote from an economist or a new study from a team of neuroscientists that shows “we may actually be hardwired to do” exactly what we feel comfortable doing. Cue the same word repeated by a dozen whispering voices, or a few bars of a Ratatat rip-off ambient band, and we’re on to a new book that argues organic food is not only good for you, it might make you a better person too. […] NPR’s podcasts depoliticize important issues by recasting them as interesting factoids to be shared over cocktails–stimulating but inherently incomplete. No one can act until we get more data; we must wait until Monday, when we get another round of podcasts.
He’s calling for more social science and deliberative non-positivist analysis, which is reasonable, although I don’t think it’s sufficient or feasibly part of the info-popcorn format of podcasts. I think there is other positivist science that doesn’t get a look-in too, but even with the whole smörgåsbord of science on display and optimally dot-pointed for mansplanation, are we ever going to really get deep understanding of society from such a shallow engagement?
Anyway, it’s more articulate than The Last Psychiatrists’s summary:
if you bring up This American Life I swear to Christ I’m coming over to set your cats on fire. “This week on This American Life, some banal idiocy, set to jazz breaks” – kill me
Nonetheless that one did stick with me.
It’s really common to see claims that some meme is backed by “studies” or “science”. But when I look at the actual studies, it usually turns out that the data are opposed to the claim.
That is oversell. The Dunning Kruger paper, for example, does in fact support its main claim. But the whole story is indeed more nuanced and contingent than the one you might pick up from the 10-word summary.
OTOH there are bady papers out there and bad science communication.
Social psychology is a flamethrower a rhetorically eloquent complaint about the political uses of too-easy theorising that we know waht’s going on.