This lopsidedness, according to Mercier and Sperber, reflects the task that reason evolved to perform, which is to prevent us from getting screwed by the other members of our group. Living in small bands of hunter-gatherers, our ancestors were primarily concerned with their social standing, and with making sure that they weren’t the ones risking their lives on the hunt while others loafed around in the cave. There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments.
Among the many, many issues our forebears didn’t worry about were the deterrent effects of capital punishment and the ideal attributes of a firefighter. Nor did they have to contend with fabricated studies, or fake news, or Twitter. It’s no wonder, then, that today reason often seems to fail us. As Mercier and Sperber write, “This is one of many cases in which the environment changed too quickly for natural selection to catch up.”
Extrait tiré de l’article du New Yorker « Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds« , à propos du livre « The Enigma of Reason » de Mercier et Sperber dans lequel les auteurs se demandent « if reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? « . À lire si vous vous intéressez au fonctionnement du raisonnement humain.
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