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Are people the best judges of their own interests?

bigfield

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?
 

ronburgundy

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

Beyond the rather vague notion of wanting to be happy, what exactly will help one achieve that is based on sets of assumptions that are usually wrong and typically based in a combo of inaccurate knowledge and conditioned associations that people aren't even aware they have and much of which does come from "propaganda".

So, I'd say Chomsky is mostly correct in what he said.
 

fromderinside

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The problem of all this philosophizing on the social science thread is it contradicts existing scientific evidence. Humans are designed to trust their inclinations first, usually last, and often always. Its those damn mirror cells. ....and being so evolved we seem to be thriving .......
 

ronburgundy

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The problem of all this philosophizing on the social science thread is it contradicts existing scientific evidence. Humans are designed to trust their inclinations first, usually last, and often always. Its those damn mirror cells. ....and being so evolved we seem to be thriving .......

That's some rather invalid abuse of "science". The fact that the human species is "thriving" overall says absolutely nothing about whether most individual humans are making choices that optimize their well being. First all, happiness and most aspects of "well being" have almost nothing to do with how we evolved or how we are biologically "thriving". We did not evolve to optimize our happiness, and despite our species "thriving" a huge % of humans are not very happy and almost all of them are far from optimal happiness.

If you want to limit human "interests" only to those which are neccessary for maintaining bodily functions long enough to procreate, then sure we are doing just well enough at satisfying those interests to achieve those functions of life. But most people acknowledge that we have interests well beyond that and that in fact many people's interests don't even include procreating at all.
 

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I'd say mostly accurate. During our formative eons there was no need for long term planning or consideration of complex ramifications. Our brains are not wired for it.

ronburgundy said:
That's some rather invalid abuse of "science". The fact that the human species is "thriving" overall says absolutely nothing about whether most individual humans are making choices that optimize their well being. First all, happiness and most aspects of "well being" have almost nothing to do with how we evolved or how we are biologically "thriving". We did not evolve to optimize our happiness, and despite our species "thriving" a huge % of humans are not very happy and almost all of them are far from optimal happiness.

If you want to limit human "interests" only to those which are neccessary for maintaining bodily functions long enough to procreate, then sure we are doing just well enough at satisfying those interests to achieve those functions of life. But most people acknowledge that we have interests well beyond that and that in fact many people's interests don't even include procreating at all.
In what way are we "thriving?"
We're not integrated into the ecosystem and our current lifestyles aren't sustainable. We're thriving as plague bacilli can be said to thrive -- just before they kill their host.
 

Loren Pechtel

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

I don't think it's so much that they don't know what their interests are, but that they don't know what will accomplish that.

Thus, for example, a lot of Trump voters who wanted the good things he promised without understanding that those promises are impossible.
 

untermensche

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

It is not that people don't know what is best.

Everybody knows it is best that all people have health insurance.

What the elites do is pit people against each other.

So instead of people looking at taxes to fund a universal health system as a great thing, they look at it as a system where they are paying for freeloaders.

When in a country of hundreds of millions that probably amounts to a few dollars a year.

A delusion, huge costs on me to pay for freeloaders, has replaced the reality, health care costs go down because everybody is covered.
 

Loren Pechtel

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

It is not that people don't know what is best.

Everybody knows it is best that all people have health insurance.

What the elites do is pit people against each other.

So instead of people looking at taxes to fund a universal health system as a great thing, they look at it as a system where they are paying for freeloaders.

When in a country of hundreds of millions that probably amounts to a few dollars a year.

A delusion, huge costs on me to pay for freeloaders, has replaced the reality, health care costs go down because everybody is covered.

No. Some people only care about themselves, they aren't interesting in paying something that provides more benefit to others than to them.
 

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

In normal times, the vast majority are kept brainwashed but are prosperous enough not to have any notion what their interests are, or care. In time of crisis they are encouraged heavily to become active in working against their best interest, as with the trumpite fartsmen, but as the crisis grows deeper, a sizeable minority begin to grasp the truth, which is when things get interesting.
 

bigfield

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

I don't think it's so much that they don't know what their interests are, but that they don't know what will accomplish that.

Thus, for example, a lot of Trump voters who wanted the good things he promised without understanding that those promises are impossible.

Good point. Perhaps it's better to say that people don't know what's in their best interests rather than saying they don't know what their best interests are.
 

rousseau

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

Beyond the rather vague notion of wanting to be happy, what exactly will help one achieve that is based on sets of assumptions that are usually wrong and typically based in a combo of inaccurate knowledge and conditioned associations that people aren't even aware they have and much of which does come from "propaganda".

So, I'd say Chomsky is mostly correct in what he said.

Good summation.

People's reasoning ability only extends so far, and is constrained by the amount of knowledge they have. So it's not a given that those two variables will always land on the best decision.

This is why phenomena like 'lying' exists. Some people want to infect others with incorrect knowledge for the very purpose of forcing them into the wrong decision.
 

Loren Pechtel

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I don't think it's so much that they don't know what their interests are, but that they don't know what will accomplish that.

Thus, for example, a lot of Trump voters who wanted the good things he promised without understanding that those promises are impossible.

Good point. Perhaps it's better to say that people don't know what's in their best interests rather than saying they don't know what their best interests are.

I'll agree with that way of putting it.
 

ronburgundy

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Good point. Perhaps it's better to say that people don't know what's in their best interests rather than saying they don't know what their best interests are.

I'll agree with that way of putting it.

Yeah, but they only know what their interests are in the most vague and general sense like a cat "knows what its interests are". People know they prefer pleasure to pain, and food to starvation. But they know little beyond that. The difference between and interest and how one pursues that interest can get rather fuzzy and is largely a relative concept. Ask most people to list their core interests and almost everything they list will really be things they assume with help the most basic interest of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance.
 

fromderinside

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The problem of all this philosophizing on the social science thread is it contradicts existing scientific evidence. Humans are designed to trust their inclinations first, usually last, and often always. Its those damn mirror cells. ....and being so evolved we seem to be thriving .......

That's some rather invalid abuse of "science". The fact that the human species is "thriving" overall says absolutely nothing about whether most individual humans are making choices that optimize their well being. First all, happiness and most aspects of "well being" have almost nothing to do with how we evolved or how we are biologically "thriving". We did not evolve to optimize our happiness, and despite our species "thriving" a huge % of humans are not very happy and almost all of them are far from optimal happiness.

If you want to limit human "interests" only to those which are neccessary for maintaining bodily functions long enough to procreate, then sure we are doing just well enough at satisfying those interests to achieve those functions of life. But most people acknowledge that we have interests well beyond that and that in fact many people's interests don't even include procreating at all.

When one changes the basis for analysis as you did from basis for surviving to basis for having a good life, I argue you are changing the the discussion from science to social history or, ugh, philosophy.
 

ronburgundy

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That's some rather invalid abuse of "science". The fact that the human species is "thriving" overall says absolutely nothing about whether most individual humans are making choices that optimize their well being. First all, happiness and most aspects of "well being" have almost nothing to do with how we evolved or how we are biologically "thriving". We did not evolve to optimize our happiness, and despite our species "thriving" a huge % of humans are not very happy and almost all of them are far from optimal happiness.

If you want to limit human "interests" only to those which are neccessary for maintaining bodily functions long enough to procreate, then sure we are doing just well enough at satisfying those interests to achieve those functions of life. But most people acknowledge that we have interests well beyond that and that in fact many people's interests don't even include procreating at all.

When one changes the basis for analysis as you did from basis for surviving to basis for having a good life, I argue you are changing the the discussion from science to social history or, ugh, philosophy.

I didn't change anything, you did. The OP is referring to "interests" that relate to all of human desires and goals, which go way beyond the extremely narrow notion of an interest in mere survival. Pretending that the science of biological survival has anything meaningful to say about the realities of human interests more broadly is both bad science and bad philosophy.

In the modern world, survival and procreation are as easy as falling down the stairs. People have to go out their way to try to kill themselves in order to not survive, and the people who have the least knowledge and skills they would need to survive on their own are the ones "thriving" the most in terms of reproducing. Thus, what it takes to survive has almost no relevance to what most humans do today or why they do it, or how good they are at ensuring that what they do optimizes the emotional states that most motivate them to continue surviving as a mere means to the end of living a life they enjoy.
 

Tom Sawyer

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People suck at judging what's in their best interests. One of the few things that we as a species are worse at than that is judging what's in the best interests of other people, so things don't improve if you let someone else judge what's in your best interest for you.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?
Yes. But nothing nefarious is going on. It's just that we're an odd species in that we like to pretend. We go as far as to pay professional pretenders to pretend things for us that we like to have pretended, and we pay them hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to do that. We pretend so much that we think it's real when it's not because we want it to be real. No wonder we're so easily misled.
 

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To paraphrase Chomsky: people vote against their best interests because they don't know what their best interests are, and because society's elites tell people what their interests are via propaganda.

Is this an accurate description?

While true it's still the best way to come close to what is in their best interest. It's a dilemma.
 

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People suck at judging what's in their best interests. One of the few things that we as a species are worse at than that is judging what's in the best interests of other people, so things don't improve if you let someone else judge what's in your best interest for you.

Spot on. People are the best judges of their own interest, even if they are mistaken a lot of the time.

On a side note, when people say that others vote against their own interests, it seems to me that they mean they are voting against their own financial interests. But those same people are generally also the kind to bemoan people who only, or primarily, care about money. Maybe people who vote against their own financial interest are voting for reasons other than what will benefit them financially.
 

bigfield

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On a side note, when people say that others vote against their own interests, it seems to me that they mean they are voting against their own financial interests.

No, it's not limited to financial interests. For example, people will sacrifice personal liberty for the sake of security theatre.
 

fromderinside

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When one changes the basis for analysis as you did from basis for surviving to basis for having a good life, I argue you are changing the the discussion from science to social history or, ugh, philosophy.

I didn't change anything, you did. The OP is referring to "interests" that relate to all of human desires and goals, which go way beyond the extremely narrow notion of an interest in mere survival. Pretending that the science of biological survival has anything meaningful to say about the realities of human interests more broadly is both bad science and bad philosophy.

In the modern world, survival and procreation are as easy as falling down the stairs. People have to go out their way to try to kill themselves in order to not survive, and the people who have the least knowledge and skills they would need to survive on their own are the ones "thriving" the most in terms of reproducing. Thus, what it takes to survive has almost no relevance to what most humans do today or why they do it, or how good they are at ensuring that what they do optimizes the emotional states that most motivate them to continue surviving as a mere means to the end of living a life they enjoy.

Obviously we disagree on the boundary between science and philosophy/folk psychology. I say folk psychology because there is no overriding theory of behavior. This is where I mark my territory. There is a working theory of evolution to which there are several social theories including one for man which currently includes desire theory which arouse out of needs theory which arose out of approach withdrawal theory and has become an organizing mechanism for brain research. All of this will be replace in turn by more complete generalizations of the underpinnings of social or operating behavior where all those links to brain, neuron, and gene, will be reassigned

If we are talking science we are not talking about goals like going out of one's way to kill oneself as a basis for anything. We are, on the other hand, participants in on ongoing experiment concerning the continuance of life which we have pretty well founded operational metrics.

Operationally defined metrics based on more fundamental metrics are a building block of any scientific theory science all science is actually physics. With this clearly in mind please reconsider the relation between evolution and desire. So given this is a scientific and not a philosophical/folk psychologic thread I feel I'm on firm ground interpreting what I spent my life on participating in, behavioral science from the perspective of science.

The framework having been laid I feel perfectly adequate in taking my view of the relation between one's personal life and that of the operators in life through such as game theory from expectations arising from applying various fitness hypotheses thank you very much.

Seems to me you could benefit by going from initial conditions according to developed theory to observed consequences rather than inventing goals to explain the data you read.

Yes I can go through the evolution of approach and withdrawal among sexual-social species to current data since I have a fairly complete catalog (about 55 years) upon which to evaluate latest 'finding'. Based on that foundation I'm pretty confident that desires and goals are to be left to the burn bins of our understanding of human social behavior.
 
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bilby

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On a side note, when people say that others vote against their own interests, it seems to me that they mean they are voting against their own financial interests.

No, it's not limited to financial interests. For example, people will sacrifice personal liberty for the sake of security theatre.

The problem is that while most people know what they want to achieve, few know how to achieve it.

Any system that you don't understand is indistinguishable from magic; so poorly educated people (and in a highly technical and specialised society, that's a lot of people, because you needn't have any grasp of politics to be an excellent software engineer) treat solutions as though they were exactly that.

I want to be wealthy, to have my healthcare needs met, and to be safe from those who would harm me. Solving the issues that stand between me and these goals will need a magician. I don't know how the magic works, so I pick the best showman, or the person who says he will do it for the least money.

Some boring civil servant type going on about 'have to raise taxes to buy bigger magic wands' or some shit is not getting my vote. I'm going with the razzle-dazzle of The Stupendous Cheeto!
 

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Nothing is more peculiar than the way in which people's opinions differ according to the way they were brought up. To me, people seem to be endlessly manipulable, and it is obvious that those in power manipulate them, having excellent financial and other reasons to do so. Pretty well everything I've ever experienced has borne this out. Can someone please suggest to me any evidence that I'm wrong?
 

Tom Sawyer

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Who best to judge? How about well-established, morally inclined scientists?

Who establishes whether they are morally inclined, and whether those who financed their early research didn't buy them?

It's probably best to have the people who bought them establish that. That way, we can help ensure they maximize the return on their investment.
 

bilby

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Nothing is more peculiar than the way in which people's opinions differ according to the way they were brought up. To me, people seem to be endlessly manipulable, and it is obvious that those in power manipulate them, having excellent financial and other reasons to do so. Pretty well everything I've ever experienced has borne this out. Can someone please suggest to me any evidence that I'm wrong?

You only think that people are easily manipulated because you were brought up to think that.
 

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It is well known amongst psychologists that people are excellent at identifying and appeasing their immediate desires / interests. Our Id is highly active and a major driver for how we behave.. in the short term.

As for long term goals, planning for the future, and taking immediate losses to achieve longer term gains, people are HORRIBLE at it. If you can't see it hurting you, then it simply isn't there. If it doesn't help you NOW, then it is useless.

Why do people smoke? Why is fast food so popular? Why do so few people (relatively) have the proper insurance, financial investments, and good health habits?

Because we suck at seeing long term gains as valuable. We live in the "now", for the most part.
 

rousseau

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Averaged out, people are incredibly ignorant of how the world actually works. This is because for most people hovering around the poverty line there is no immediate imperative to understand things with only vague effects on survival, what people need is money, food, security. Once that security is achieved people reach actualization and can begin spending energy exploring their environment for esoteric things like culture, books, politics.

So if you want to know why most of the globe is the wild west, it's because the brunt of humans today are living in poverty.
 
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