Friday, June 29, 2012

Please do not feed the animals

A friend posted this on his Facebook page which some people commented agreeingly with and others energetically against.

Of course the point of the post is to make the comparison between the dependency of animals on the humans that feed them and the dependency of humans on the government that feeds them (though the intent is probably to attack government dependence in general and not just the food stamp program).

The question is whether such a comparison is reasonable? This is where I think most people fall prey to the cognitive bias known as the false dilemma (black & white thinking). They believe that the comparison has to be either all true or not true at all. From there, throw in a little confirmation bias to see what we want to see and voila, we have a one sided way of looking at a situation.

Of course some people will become dependent on government programs to their own detriment. Others will not. Of course some people really are in desperate need of help while others only lazily take advantage of such programs. Unless you have restricted yourself to knowing only a small social, ethnic, economic portion of the population you will have met people of differing levels of motivation, intelligence, creativity, morality, etc. My point is simply this. Humans are complicated creatures and usually our overly simplistic heuristics are not suited to answer deep questions about such things.

No comments:

Post a Comment