February 16, 2019

WHY YOUR UNCLE IS STILL WAITING FOR HILLARY TO BE INDICTED:

Why radicals can't recognize when they're wrong: It's not just ostriches who stick their head in the sand. (MATT DAVIS, 15 February, 2019, Big Think)

If you find yourself in an argument about politics, climate change, religion, or any number of conversation topics that are taboo at the Thanksgiving table, you've probably silent screamed to yourself, "Why won't this jerk change their mind? It seems so obvious!" Not only that, but it seems like the crazier position the other side has, the more obstinate they are that you're wrong, not them.

New research published in Current Biology on December 18, 2018, confirms this feeling: people with radical beliefs actually think differently than those without. Specifically, radicals have less metacognitive sensitivity than moderates.

Metacognition refers to the ability to be aware of and analyze one's own thinking. Metacognitive sensitivity is similar, but more specific: it refers to the ability to distinguish between one's correct and incorrect judgements. The new paper, titled "Metacognitive Failure as a Feature of Holding Radical Beliefs," shows that radicals have measurably less metacognitive sensitivity than moderates. [...]

Can we become better at metacognition?

"In times of increasing political polarization and entrenchment of opinion, the ability to reflect on our viewpoints may be crucial for a fruitful discourse," said Max Rollwage -- the lead researcher on the study -- in an interview with Tonic. "It is not yet clear whether reduced metacognition is the cause or consequence (or both) of radicalization, nevertheless it is easy to imagine that deficits in metacognition will contribute to the consolidation of radical beliefs."

Fortunately, metacognition is not fixed. It can be exercised like a muscle. In fact, a significant amount of research in education theory deals with how best to teach metacognition to students, as it can improve learning outcomes. It seems that simply being aware of the concept of metacognition can improve one's metacognitive ability. Meditation, too, has been shown to increase metacognition. If we can improve our ability to reflect on how we think, we might incidentally improve our national and global discussions about politics and policy, become better at recognizing when we're wrong, and -- at the very least -- improve conversation over the Thanksgiving table.



Posted by at February 16, 2019 8:26 AM

  

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