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Cognitive Dissonance

August 28, 2017 Leave a comment

The media recently reported the firing of a Google employee who wrote a document expressing his views on the political correctness that, he believed, permeates the work environment at Google. I began thinking about the political correctness that I see which, among other things, maintains the position that men and women are the same intellectually. This view about gender differences seems to me to be an example of cognitive dissonance, a definition of which from Wikipedia is given below.

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.

So cognitive dissonance refers to the possibility that people hold logically inconsistent positions. Here is why political correctness reveals cognitive dissonance.

The Economist, a well-known news magazine, published an article some years ago reporting the results of a brain study directed by a female physician at Stanford University. The study was designed to measure brain function. Specifically, the work attempted to measure the differences, if any, between men and women in processing verbal information. Interestingly, the director of the study was advised by colleagues, some of whom were no doubt male, that she should not conduct this study since the results from it could offend people. But the project was done anyway despite these cautionary comments. The results of the study were that women process verbal information much more efficiently than men. This may not be the final word on the subject. There may be other research which subsequently challenged these findings but imagine for the moment that this result is correct because it has survived replication efforts. Note what this finding could explain. Read more…

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Preference Revelation

February 27, 2017 2 comments

The late Paul A. Samuelson was the first Nobel laureate in economics and is widely regarded to be the most outstanding American economist to date. He wrote many papers that had a profound influence on the thinking of economists but he wrote one paper that, to me, is a great tool for all of us, not just economists. The paper is entitled “Consumption Theory in Terms of Revealed Preference” and, in a nutshell, here is what it says. If you want to know what another person is up to, watch what they do because you can, from their actions, infer their motives or preferences. Below┬áis an example of how useful it can be to observe people’s actions when matched against what they say. Read more…

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