Bigots, whimps, and you…

Posted on November 15, 2010




Professor Wiggly: “As we’ve already noted we start with the idea that there are two kinds of belief: 1)  beliefs about simple here and now events, like ‘the president’s speech lasted 37 minutes’, a belief about which both Republicans and Democrats can agree, and 2) beliefs about what he said, for instance whether he was right or wrong on his plan for fixing the economy and creating more jobs. It’s the second kind of beliefs, ones about complex problems, and particularly about the future, that cause the trouble. We can’t make rational decisions because the information we need is lacking, or incomplete or conflicting. So our decisions are made on the basis of unproven assumptions, biases, hopes and fears.”

Peter: “ That’s why 50% of marriages end in divorce – too little reliable information about our mate and the future so we’re flying blind. If it works it’s dumb luck.”

Jenny: “That’s why they say love is blind.”

Professor Wiggly: “ But notice, it may be blind but it’s strong and confident. That’s the fascinating thing, even though we lack reliable information about the future we have to no choice but to go there, many of us march right into it with high confidence – we really believe we ‘know’ what we’re doing!”

Penny: “OK, we know about bigots. They’re blind, completely confident and sometimes their lucky, sometimes ‘they get it right’. There are right wing bigots and left wing bigots making all kinds of predictions so, by chance, some of them are bound to get it ‘right’. The future happens to unfold the way they said it would and they take the credit.  And when they get it ‘wrong’ (the market crashes, or the world doesn’t come to an end,) if they’re skillful bigots, they swing into damage control – they come up with excuses to reassure themselves and their followers that it’s not their fault, that they’re still to be trusted.”

Peter:  OK, so we know about bigots who have complete confidence, and we know about people who can’t make up their mind – too little confidence – who procrastinate, or buy false confidence – booze or pills, or blindly follow the leader. So tell us professor, what’s the right amount of confidence to have when you’re traveling into the always-uncertain future?


Posted in: Sciencing, Yer Thing