May 26, 2019

"Reason is an adaptation to the hypersocial niche humans have evolved for themselves," Mercier and Sperber write. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an "intellectualist" point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social "interactionist" perspective.
To summarize, from a socio-evolutionary perspective, the price of going against your tribe tends to be higher than than the price of being wrong on random things.

Sometimes doesn't seem worth advocating for moderate positions (taking the other tribe's presumptions into account) when your loyalty to your tribe may be seen as suspect, and when it's unclear that any potential moderate members of the opposing tribe will return the favor. But that becomes a self-reinforcing tragedy of the commons.

Also, I'm so suspect about psychological lab experiments built under assumptions of economist "rational actor" models. Much like casinos exploit artificially contrived exploits in probability that just didn't occur often to our ancestors, these experiments assume that real world people will take researchers at their word. Taking $50 now instead of $100 3 months from now may or may point a preference for immediate rewards - but also reflects an uncertain world where many, many intervening events can happen in 3 months, even if you basically trust the test operators. (This besides the sketchiness of using undergrads on hand at prestigious American Universities as stand-ins for citizens of anywhere in the damn world.)