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Point of Inquiry

Center for Inquiry

Religion & Spirituality, Science & Medicine, Social Sciences, Society & Culture, Philosophy

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Science & Medicine 41
Social Sciences 8

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.

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Did Reason Evolve For Arguing? - Hugo Mercier

August 15th, 2011

Episode 292 of 544 episodes

Host: Chris Mooney Why are human beings simultaneously capable of reasoning, and yet so bad at it? Why do we have such faulty mechanisms as the "confirmation bias" embedded in our brains, and yet at the same time, find ourselves capable of brilliant rhetoric and complex mathematical calculations? According to Hugo Mercier, we've been reasoning about reason all wrong. Reasoning is very good at what it probably evolved to let us do—argue in favor of what we believe and try to convince others that we're right. In a recent and much discussed paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Research, Mercier and his colleague Dan Sperber proposed what they call an "argumentative theory of reason." "A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis," they write. Given the discussion this proposal has prompted, Point of Inquiry wanted to hear from Mercier to get more elaboration on his ideas. Hugo Mercieris a postdoc in the Philosophy, Policy, and Economics program at the University of Pennsylvania. Heblogsfor Psychology Today.

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