The Definition of Self-Righteousness

Topic: The Role of Self-righteousness

Jonathan Haidt: Self-righteousness refers to our general tendency to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, combined with our extraordinary ability as reasoning creatures to employ reason only to reach the conclusions we want to reach. That’s the general rule about reasoning. Thinking is for doing. We employ our reasoning to reach the conclusions we want to reach.

So if we’re mad at someone, we very easily find reasons why they’re wrong and we’re right. So this is just part of the nature of who we are.

I think this helps us to understand a lot about our current political situation, about the nastiness of our political divides, and why it is that it’s just so hard for us to see that there is wisdom on both sides of almost any long standing question.

This is the most important lesson I learned in writing “The Happiness Hypothesis”, is that if you’re a liberal, you’re not going to learn much by reading more liberal writing. Pick up some conservative magazines. Pick up some conservative thinkers. There’s revelation after revelation. There’s a lot of good ideas over there and, of course, vice versa.

But my point is we only seek out conclusion. We only seek out evidence that supports the conclusion we want to reach, and therefore we deprive ourselves of most of the interesting ideas in the world.

 

Recorded on May 9, 2008.

 

 

Because thinking is for doing, we search for evidence that supports our opinions, not the other way around.

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The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.

Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv

Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.

The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.

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Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.

The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.

Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.