Our brain evolved to win arguments, not to find the truth. In Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory,
Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber defend the argumentative theory of reasoning. They argue that human logic reasoning evolved to win arguments, not to discover the truth.
People Argue Just to Win, Scholars Assert.
Hugo Mercier is among the researchers now asserting that reason evolved to win arguments, not seek truth. [...]
Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we’ll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena. According to this view, bias, lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another. Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth. [...]
“Reasoning doesn’t have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions,” said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us.” Truth and accuracy were beside the point.
Indeed, Mr. Sperber, a member of the Jean-Nicod research institute in Paris, first developed a version of the theory in 2000 to explain why evolution did not make the manifold flaws in reasoning go the way of the prehensile tail and the four-legged stride. Looking at a large body of psychological research, Mr. Sperber wanted to figure out why people persisted in picking out evidence that supported their views and ignored the rest — what is known as confirmation bias — leading them to hold on to a belief doggedly in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth | NY Times
Relevance for real world issues
Human-Stupidity shares the frustrations of many activists, that logical reasoning and unassailable scientific proof are not enough to convert the believers in issues like men’s rights, race and iq, *evolution, political correctness, and drug war.
We are awe-struck how manipulative language successfully distorts words like *consent, *child, *rape, distorts facts about prostitution. Feminists and religious zealots thus managed to take over the United Nations and enforce world wide law changes based on voodoo theories and forged science, like sex trafficking and one in four myths. Harvard President Larry Summers was persecuted for questioning some feminist victimization theories. Human-Stupidity posits that women have evolved especially acute language manipulation skills to make up for their physical and economic disadvantages in the EEA. As a result, peer reviewed sound scientific studies get condemned by both the US senate and the US congress by unanimous vote (Rind Study).
Nobel prize winner James Watson had his reputation ruined for well-meaningly stating scientific truths, the same truth that earned renowned scientist J. Philippe Rushton constant persecution. *Discrimination is the explanation for every gender and race difference. We are awe struck how people in high academic positions can get away with drivel like race does not exist.
Don’t miss Robert Kurzban‘s book on the evolution of hypocrisy and meddling in other people’s sex life. Which explains, partially, why lying about a blow job (Bill Clinton) seems to be a worse transgression then starting a trillion dollar war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction (Bush)..
Original scholarly article
Mercier, Hugo and Sperber, Dan, Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory (June 26, 2010). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 57-74, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1698090