La route est dure mais je suis forte
Polemical writing consists of saying the same thing over and over again in as many different ways as you can figure until people finally see your point, which normally takes years.
That, at any rate, was the thing brought to mind by the two big human-science stories of the past few days: the revelation that Stephen Jay Gould was an unscrupulous propagandist, and new publicity about the argumentative theory of reasoning.
Readers of that tremendous book We Are Doomed already knew both things. Pages 143–144:
For the Culturists (i.e. for nurture), the most brilliant strategist was paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. A Chomsky leftist in his politics — though not, he always insisted, a Marxist — Gould was a skillful but unscrupulous propagandist. His 1981 book The Mismeasure of Man is to this day the best-known counter-blast against Biologism in the cognitive sciences. This subtle and clever book managed to plant many false ideas that remain widely current today, e.g. that psychologist H.H. Goddard found early-20th-century Jewish immigrants into the U.S.A. to be of low average intelligence. (Goddard found no such thing.)
Irrationality is evolutionarily adaptive? Page 154:
The overall picture that emerges from the cognitive science researches of the last half century is one of a brain that struggles to cope with reality, and rarely does very well at it.
Worse yet: its not doing very well may be adaptive. That’s a term of art in biology. A trait is adaptive if an organism that possesses this trait gets a reproductive edge thereby over an organism that doesn’t.
Researchers like S. Taylor and J. Brown (Illusion and Well-Being, 1988) have found that a moderate degree of self-deception is normal in mentally healthy people, and is likely adaptive. Contrariwise:
[I]t appears to be not the well-adjusted individual but the individual who experiences subjective distress who is more likely to process self-relevant information in a relatively unbiased and balanced fashion.
To put it slightly differently: up to a point, the more depressed and maladjusted you are, the more likely it is that you are seeing things right, with minimal bias.
Or differently again: For a happy and well-adjusted life, practice self-deception. If it’s the cold, unvarnished truth you want, seek out a melancholy pessimist. (Which, if you are reading this book, is what you have done.)
<Sigh> Just keep banging away at it, Derb. Magna est veritas et praevalebit. That’s my belief, anyway — irrational, no doubt.