Intelligent Emotions

Emotional Intelligence or EI is a concept popularized by Daniel Goleman
as a complement to competence measures like IQ in the emotional
sphere. But EI has the problem that it is not quantitatively defined
with a number and standards like IQ. So it has been criticized by
people like Eysenck:

“exemplifies more clearly than most the fundamental absurdity of the tendency to class almost any type of behavior as an ‘intelligence’.”

Statistics are the quintessential antiemotional tollgate.
The “Little Handbook of Statistical Practice” is one of the deepest and
best guides to statistics I have seen. Here Gerard Dallal asks
Is Statistics Hard?“.
Statistics is not so much hard as counterintuitive: backwards, convoluted and
shades of grey.

The controversial field of evolutionary psychology attempts to explain human feelings and behaviors as consequences of natural selection, Geoffrey Miller in “The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature” describes how these emotions evolved.

In contrast, emotions are qualitative modes of operation, like a modes in a cell phone
and not quantitative competencies.
These states developed to serve a purpose, e.g. with emotions such acquiescence
evloved from the herd instinct as the primal parts of our brain manipulate
the conscious mind to get what it wants,
such as the benefit of herd membership. For this perspective movements like
‘scientific consensus’ look suspiciously like a strategy born in the Savannah to
increase survival. This makes sense of the observation that most
prominent science skeptics are retired people, beyond peak breeding age.

Wisdom is operating not as instinct machines,
but recognizing what emotional state is working for us,
and occasionally stepping back to contemplate how better to gather nuts.
Evolutionary biology identifies self handicapping as one of the most
common ways to conspicuously display fitness and impress the opposite
sex. Consensus decision-making is handicapped both by ethically
malleable leaders, and small self-interested minority groups
with veto power over decisions. What’s more, consensus is not
a proven process in science, e.g. the peer review process in most
scientific journals does not use a consensus based process.

Looked at from this viewpoint the political processes that have grown around
managing climate change and other controversial issues seem to often
be composed of instinctive rather than intelligent responses.
While the herd instinct responds to such statements as ‘scientific consensus’
in statistical terms it only takes one person to takedown a theory by
demonstrating its failings. And the history of commerce, business practice,
and statistics suggests that audits setting out independently and intentionally
find flaws, such as seen in the Whitfield subcommittee enquiry into Global Warming,
is a more rational way to proceed than the consensus approach of the IPCC.

Dr. Edward Wegman, Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics and the Director of the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, said the errors in Mann’s statistical methods were too egregious to overlook.

“I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesnt matter because the answer is correct anyway,” said Wegman.

“The issue of climate change requires open and objective discussion. The issues at hand concern legitimate questions about the rigor of scientific analysis, the results of which ultimately reach policy makers. I hope we can all reach agreement on ways to improve this process,” said Whitfield.


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