Arnold Kling  

Morning Reading

PRINT
An Answer For Arnold... How Much Cash Is In Your Walle...

The Washington Post reports,


The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

This phenomenon may help explain why large numbers of Americans incorrectly think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in planning the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

This phenomenon may help explain why large numbers of Americans incorrectly think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in planning the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi...the experiments suggest that intelligence reports and other efforts to debunk this account may in fact help keep it alive.


So Bryan's book The Myth of the Rational Voter is likely to result in more people believing that voters are rational!

Roy F. Baumeister says,


culture relies on men to create the large social structures that comprise it. Our society is made up of institutions such as universities, governments, corporations. Most of these were founded and built up by men. Again, this probably had less to do with women being oppressed or whatever and more to do with men being motivated to form large networks of shallow relationships. Men are much more interested than women in forming large groups and working in them and rising to the top in them.

...To maximize reproduction, a culture needs all the wombs it can get, but a few penises can do the job. There is usually a penile surplus. If a group loses half its men, the next generation can still be full-sized. But if it loses half its women, the size of the next generation will be severely curtailed. Hence most cultures keep their women out of harm’s way while using men for risky jobs.


But then why do we see selective abortion of girls, as appears to happen with China's one-child policy?

He concludes:


A few lucky men are at the top of society and enjoy the culture’s best rewards. Others, less fortunate, have their lives chewed up by it. Culture uses both men and women, but most cultures use them in somewhat different ways. Most cultures see individual men as more expendable than individual women, and this difference is probably based on nature, in whose reproductive competition some men are the big losers and other men are the biggest winners. Hence it uses men for the many risky jobs it has.

Men go to extremes more than women, and this fits in well with culture using them to try out lots of different things, rewarding the winners and crushing the losers.


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (10 to date)
Arne B writes:
But then why do we see selective abortion of girls, as appears to happen with China's one-child policy?
Isn't curtailing the size of the next generation (or the overall population, for that matter) the very purpose of the one-child policy?
TGGP writes:

It might benefit the group as a whole to have mostly female children with a few males to create the next generation. However, if a mutation occurred that resulted in more female children, that would increase the average fitness of males (which would be equal to females if there were equal numbers of both) would increase leading to mutations that produce more males, and this results in stability. The government of China introduced a one-child policy, parents selectively killed their daughters because their sons could provide for them. The government has attempted to stop sex-selective abortions, but it has been difficult. It is a clear case of public and private goods conflicting.

8 writes:

Interesting, does that confirm my theory that the reason why people link Saddam to 9.11 is because pundits were on TV arguing against invading Iraq because there was no link between Saddam and 9.11, even though no pro-war advocate ever made such a link?

Karl Smith writes:

I think you have group and individual selection moving in opposite directions.

For a single family more men raises the potential percentage of the next generation that will be descended from that family line.

However, more women raises the size of the next generation.

There is a sort of free rider problem in terms of caring for women, which I think is why it is institutionalized.

Also, I have a running hypothesis that free rider problems are often dealt with through glory or admiration of public good providers. This I believe is why "gentlemen" who sacrifice themselves for women are viewed with such high esteem.

jaim klein writes:

Female infanticide was one of the unintended consequences of the one child policy. The policy has been modified so that parent of a girl can have another try at having a boy.

Women are not sent to war because wars are fought to acquire women from the enemy. It makes no sense for women to fight over the posession of more women. Of course I am not talking about ourselves, G-d forbid, but about "primitive", Amazon jungle peoples.

Mike writes:

If you want to carry this entertaining biological socio-economic analysis out you can also see why women can have multiple orgasms and men are typically capable of only single orgasms. To maximize the likelihood of conception mother nature wants to provide multiple attempts at conception.

To be crude and/or gross, mother nature programmed humans to perform gang-rape to maximize the likelihood of perpetuating humans. I guess we can't escape our biological roots but hopefully our intellect will allow us to get beyond our nature.

Heidi writes:

So the general idea is that men are more expendable than women, which is why men were always sent to war and the women were kept at home to be the caretakes. Yet in today's world women are fighting for more equality and want to be where the men are, keeping the general level men and women equal, depending on who goes down first. But going with the people assume what they hear to be true, you hear "there is no wrath like a woman scorned", so why not send them after those believed to be the cause of Sept 11th? Send the angry mothers, and the people will be found, or confess to get away from them.

Ben Kalafut writes:

While doing my bachelors I invited a prominent Austian economist (yes, yes, a contradiction in terms; you know what I mean...) from a local institution to give a talk to the student libertarians and anyone else who was interested. Somewhere along the way he said that women shouldn't be sent to war because we need women when we start to colonize "other universes".

aaron writes:

8, that sounds plausible. I also would note that people say that it was never directly said, but implied by speaking of the two in the same forums and in close proximation. This was usually induced by questioning.

Having too many males may lead to a run up to war, but also can be a cheap disposable labor force. China seems to want to increase it productivity and decrease it's population growth. It could use a cheap labor force, but I doubt the culture that led to this is recent. More likely, the preference became part of the culture long ago when lots males would be prefered for army and risky labor. The existense of the preference likely resulted in an unintended consequence.

FWilliam writes:

The Washington Post supports accurate reporting? Hmm.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top