May 24, 2007

Religion, politics and birds

We all tend to think of young children as naive and gullible.
Thus starts the paper The development of cynicism, published in Psychological Science by Candice M. Mills and Frank C. Keil. Mills and Keil conducted experiments that indicate that children recognize that self-interests may affect the validity of people's statements. Younger children identify lies (motivated, intentional errors in statements) and mistakes (simple errors not influenced by intentions) and older children additionally identify biases (motivated but unintentional errors in beliefs) as the mechanisms by which self-interest influences what people say.

I don't believe in the existence of gods or in the benevolence of governments, and tend to think that lies, mistakes and biases underlie statements in their support. I love nature and I am a bird-watcher. Please give money to charities and support political actions that protect wild habitats.

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