“Signaling” our way out of an ethical dilemma

Old ethnic Hancock MI church

I have asserted in earlier posts about “Why good people disagree” that the human inter-brain “moral conversation” is likely one of biochemical probability evaluation. It is the end result of hundreds of thousands of “moral evaluator” brain neurons, representing the “rules” parts of the brain, the “good ends” parts of the brain, the “empathy” parts of the brain and the… Read more »

Your moral probability

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When encountering an in-your-face moral dilemma, say the imprisoning of refugee children apart from their parents at the southern U.S. border, you can likely predict which classic ethical justification certain people are going to throw out first. Some people will first speak of the damage done to the children, letting their “empathy flag” fly high. Others will shout, “But the… Read more »

Constantine, Putin, Trump and the co-opting of religion

The Australian kangaroo and the American white-tailed deer are said to have evolved to dominate a very similar ecological niche. Both comprise the greatest number of large, undomesticated, plant-eating mammals on their respective continents, and both are amazingly adaptable to the pressures of human appropriation of the land. They are both, however, less adaptable to the threat of the automobile…. Read more »

Update: The gun violence lottery

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The most-viewed post in the short history of this blog was a February post entitled “The gun violence lottery”. In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting, I posited a rather cold math question: What if there is no single “cause” of mass shootings in the U.S. beyond “an unsecured gun was available, and we have millions of unsecured guns… Read more »

A moral conversation about immigration

The debate about immigration and asylum, especially on the southern border of the United States, has reached a fever pitch, and is even on the cusp of civil disturbance. In the language of a previous post, the moral conversation is NOT happening here, either between people or even, I would argue, inside the heads of most people. In that post… Read more »

The moral conversation

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I have been writing a continuing series about morality and ethics, which I summarize as being about “Why good people disagree,” since March, beginning with this post about the “first ethical dilemma,” as encountered very early in homo sapiens’ existence as a species. My basic position is that our theological and philosophical languages have evolved, over the centuries, as words for… Read more »

The math of changing your mind – part 2

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A recent post looked at the concept of Markov chains to help us see the process by which people change allegiance from one restaurant to another, or one political position to another. This post follows up with some of the math behind Markov chains and gives you access to a spreadsheet to let you experiment with the concept. If any… Read more »

Faith, hope, charity and Roy Rogers

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One of my earliest memories as a small child in the 1950s is listening to a favorite 78 RPM record. On this little piece of yellow vinyl, husband-and-wife cowboy stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang: Have faith, hope and charity, That’s the way to live successfully. How do I know? The Bible tells me so! Faith, hope and charity… Read more »

The math of changing your mind – part 1

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Markov Change

In a recent post I explored the idea of collective delusion, where our self-concept of things like our susceptibility to advertising or the under-estimates of our gambling losses are betrayed by the total size of the advertising and gambling markets. In this post, I will look at how collective delusion can extend to our most fervently-held political convictions and the… Read more »