The rise of disinformation by organizations big and small means the role of experts is even more important. We have seen how people have been manipulated around elections to vote against their interests and even to deny a well-documented global pandemic. The notion that people deny reality isn’t new, we’ve seen it with climate change. So how do we address this knowledge problem?
Making people realize that they don’t know everything is the solution. People are more receptive to the knowledge of experts when they themselves realize they don’t know everything – and opinions aren’t knowledge.
While they usually should, people do not revise their beliefs more to expert (economist) opinion than to lay opinion. The present research sought to better understand the factors that make it more likely for an individual to change their mind when faced with the opinions of expert economists versus the general public. Across five studies we examined the role that overestimation of knowledge plays in this behavior. We replicated the finding that people fail to privilege the opinion of experts over the public across two different (Study 1) and five different (Study 5) economic issues. We further find that undermining an illusion of both topic-relevant (Studies 2–4) and -irrelevant knowledge (Studies 3 and 4) leads to greater normative belief revision in response to expert rather than lay opinion. We suggest one reason that people fail to revise their beliefs more in response to experts is because people think they know more than they really do.
Student groups have long called for their educational institutions to divest from the destructive fossil fuel industry (and ideally reinvest in renewables). This passionate demand from students has seen success at various schools around the world, and their fight in the USA may have gotten easier thanks to a change in law by the Biden administration. Large schools in the states tend to have a charitable arm to give out scholarships and collect donations from wealthy benefactors (who donate to dodge taxes, but that’s a separate issue). Charities in the states are obligated to serve the public interest, and investing in the destruction of the planet is not in the public interest according to the Biden administration. Let’s hope the divestment movement continues to grow!
Like other public charitable institutions, Harvard is legally bound to serve the public interest in exchange for privileges such as tax exemption. Harvard is also required to manage its endowment prudently, in order to further its mission of educating young people and creating a more just world.
People learn when they can experiment with whatever they are working with, be it something physical like carpentry or something mental like philosophy. Teachers can even encourage faster learning by letting students essentially play with what they have and stepping back. Providing too much instruction means students don’t need to create a process for themselves so they learn to cope, instead they learn to follow the instructions. A recent study showed demonstrated that how make choices as learners impacts how quickly we learn.
This observation means the brain is primed to learn with a bias that is pegged to our freely chosen actions. Choice tips the balance of learning: for the same action and outcome, the brain learns differently and more quickly from free choices than forced ones. This skew may seem like a cognitive flaw, but in computer models, Palminteriâ€™s team found that choice-confirmation bias offered an advantage: it produced stabler learning over a wide range of simulated conditions than unbiased learning did. So even if this tendency occasionally results in bad decisions or beliefs, in the long run, choice-confirmation bias may sensitize the brain to learn from the outcomes of chosen actionsâ€”which likely represent what is most important to a given person.
The recent strike by NBA and WNBA players has shown that reactionary and direct labour action can make meaningful change beyond just the workplace. In the WNBA & NBA, the workers (players) refused to play in protest of police bracingly killing non-white people, the strike resulted in basketball arenas being used as a voting station in the coming American election. The media attention the workplace action got can’t be ignored either.
In the world of academia a similar action is happening today. Scholars across North America will put down their work to draw attention to the racial injustice happening on campuses. They won’t stop teaching though, you can attend online session today to learn about the troubles facing radicalized individuals and precarious workers on the front lines of postsecondary education. One such event is embedded above.
Scholars across Canadian universities are outraged at the relentless anti-Black police killings of Black people in the U.S. and in Canada. As athletes have done, so, too, must academics. We will be joining thousands of academics in higher education in a labour action known as Scholar Strike to protest anti-Black, racist and colonial police brutality in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. Scholar Strike for Black Lives in Canada will take place on Sept 9th & 10th, 2020. For these two days, we will pause our teaching and all administrative duties. We will use this time to organize public digital teach-ins on police brutality and violence in our communities from both historical and contemporary perspectives.
The program of public digital teach-ins through Sept 9 & 10 and other relevant resources will be released soon. We have confirmed a key note address by journalist and activist Desmond Cole and cross-campus digital teach-ins that will bring together activists, artists and scholars from York University, University of Toronto, Ryerson University and OCAD University.
A taste of a postsecondary level moral philosophy class can turn you off of tasting meat. It’s been debated for thousands of years if learning moral philosophy actually changes how people live. Does knowing about the complexities of ethics actually make you more ethical? Short answer: yes. In a recent study a team of researchers and philosophers tested out if moral education about meat consumption would change their diet.
And it worked! Not only were students in the meat ethics sections likelier to say they thought eating factory-farmed meat is unethical, analysis of their dining cards â€” basically debit cards issued as part of UC Riversideâ€™s meal plan that students can use to buy meals on campus â€” suggested that they bought less meat too. Fifty-two percent of dining card purchases for both the control and treatment groups were of meat products before the class. After the class, the treatment groupâ€™s percentage fell to 45 percent.
This effect wasnâ€™t driven by a few students becoming vegetarians, but by all students buying slightly less meat. Itâ€™s possible this effect was temporary; the authors only had a few weeks of data. But it at least lasted for several weeks.