tisdag 7 oktober 2014

What the super-smart astronomers of the past teaches us

There are many historical examples of astronomers doing things that, according to mainstream psychology, should have been impossible for humans. The most famous ones were Annie Jump Cannon with her instant classification of stellar spectra and Clyde Tombaugh with his analysis of tiny movements and identification of the correct object (i.e. Pluto) among many, many thousands of others. However, they were far from unique: that kind of manual analysis of celestial objects was the standard procedure of astronomy at the time, practised by many thousands of other astronomers. Considering the smaller world population, poorer global communications and lesser social integration with the opportunities for academic careers at the time, there is no way such numbers of them could possibly be explained by "constant population "percentage"-fraction of extraordinary geniuses" biologism (i put "percentage" in quotes to avoid straw men assuming that I was ignorant about psychology's claim that such genius is much rarer than one percent, in fact I am not ignorant about that at all, but it is the basis for this entire blog post). What this means is that the purported "limitations" of human cognition that (mainstream) psychology "observe" is the result of some form of cultural pressure to be stupid, most likely related to the effects of prepublication peer review, and not a fixed "human nature". In other words, it is possible to get really smart science going again, by getting rid of the cultural pressure to be stupid. This gives hope for the future, but something must be done to get it done. It will not happen by itself just by passively waiting for it. Various ideas of what to do will be in future blog posts.

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