The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

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horizon
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The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby horizon » 14 Sep 2013, 11:43am

I came up with this phrase a few days ago to characterise the helmet versus no helmet debate. Since then I've been feeling rather pleased with myself for having devised such a succinct, catchy and dare I say clever way of describing the argument. :) Now is the time however for the public verdict: does it really summarise the debate?

And if so, are there any comparable debates going on where the obviously sensible is challenged by the thoughtfully sceptical?
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby snibgo » 14 Sep 2013, 12:03pm

Perhaps creationism versus evolution, more in the USA than UK, qualifies.

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby bovlomov » 14 Sep 2013, 12:13pm

I'll give your slogan more thought, but at first glance it seems pretty good.

As for comparable debates...

It's not much of a debate - yet: the campaign against electric socket protectors; http://www.fatallyflawed.org.uk/ (that used to be advertised below the messages of [XAP]Bob). It's obvious that a socket with a cover is safer than one without. Only it isn't - but try explaining that to an anxious parent!

Boxing gloves and head protectors. While reducing skin abrasions, cuts and bruises, these two "safety" items may combine to increase brain injury.

Gloves...
http://www.neatorama.com/2010/07/04/bar ... ng-gloves/
The Marquess of Queensberry rules took off not because society viewed the new sport as more civilised than the old, but because fights conducted under the new guidelines attracted more spectators. Audiences wanted to see repeated blows to the head and dramatic knockouts.

By contrast, the last bare-knuckle heavyweight contest in the US in 1897 dragged on into the 75th round. Since gloves spread the impact of a blow, the recipient of a punch is less likely to be blinded, have their teeth knocked out or their jaw broken. However, gloves do not lessen the force applied to the brain as it rattles inside the skull from a heavy blow. In fact, they make matters worse by adding 10oz to the weight of the fist.


And headgear...
Protective headgear has been banned in male amateur boxing by the International Boxing Association (AIBA)
Wall Street Journal [Paywall]
Removing the use of helmets or headgear has been discussed as a counterintuitive way to decrease brain injuries, with the idea being that athletes wouldn’t use their heads as weapons or hit as hard if they didn’t feel as protected. In boxing, there also is the belief that headgear makes it harder to see to the side to avoid blows, and makes the head a bigger target.

There has been limited research to support this change, but fresh data, still unpublished, suggests the removal of headgear in elite, male amateur boxing reduces the incidence of concussion, according to the chairman of the AIBA medical commission, Charles Butler, a retired cardiac surgeon and ringside doctor, who spearheaded the study that served as part of the basis for the recommendation.

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby BeeKeeper » 14 Sep 2013, 2:48pm

Variable rate speed limits, and specifically why in periods of congestion, journey times are quicker when the speed limits are actually reduced, which I would say is counter-intuitive The self-evident argument is faster cars make shorter journeys but not when it is busy. Slowing down the vehicles means you get more on the road as they are closer together and the lanes run more freely with less concertina-ing.

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby bovlomov » 14 Sep 2013, 3:08pm

We might find examples under the heading: the Law of Unintended Consequences.

How building coastal defences can increase erosion along the coast; how hard cement mortar pointing causes more damage to brickwork than lime mortar; how CIA funding for the Afghan Mujahadeen, against the Soviets, sowed the seeds of al Qa'ida.

Improvements founded on incomplete understanding often make things worse. That's something our lawmakers should always be alert to, and rendered in Latin it makes a good motto for parliament.

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby bovlomov » 14 Sep 2013, 3:33pm

BeeKeeper wrote:Variable rate speed limits, and specifically why in periods of congestion, journey times are quicker when the speed limits are actually reduced, which I would say is counter-intuitive The self-evident argument is faster cars make shorter journeys but not when it is busy. Slowing down the vehicles means you get more on the road as they are closer together and the lanes run more freely with less concertina-ing.


"Festina Lente!", as they say in the Highways Department.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festina_lente
Festina lente or σπεῦδε βραδέως (speûde bradéōs) is a classical adage and oxymoron meaning "make haste slowly" or "more haste, less speed".

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Si
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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby Si » 14 Sep 2013, 3:52pm

I think that there are examples closer to home, for instance the debate about where in the lane to ride: the self-evident might suggest 'as far from the cars as possible, right in the gutter' whereas the counter intuitive would say 'out in secondary or primary where the cars will see you and won't try to squeeze past'.

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby TonyR » 14 Sep 2013, 5:19pm

Jevons' Paradox. The more efficiently you consume a resource, the more of it you consume.

Gyroscopes. They move at right angles to the direction you push them.

The Mpemba effect whereby a hot glass of water will freeze quicker than a cold glass of water if you put them in a freezer together.

The earth is flat and the stars revolve around it.

Segregated cycle tracks

Risk compensation.

Etc, etc

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horizon
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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby horizon » 14 Sep 2013, 5:55pm

This one is for TonyR :wink:

Building roads and rail links leads to economic growth.

See HS2 thread. :D
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby bovlomov » 14 Sep 2013, 6:05pm

There is a god v There is no god
and
There is no god v There is a god

TonyR
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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby TonyR » 14 Sep 2013, 6:09pm

horizon wrote:This one is for TonyR :wink:

Building roads and rail links leads to economic growth.

See HS2 thread. :D


Your characterisation though is wrong. Its not one of the self evident against the counter-intuitive. Its beliefs against the evidence. Hence why the example given of creationists v evolutionists is such a good one.

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horizon
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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby horizon » 14 Sep 2013, 6:09pm

A cure for the common cold.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Mick F
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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby Mick F » 14 Sep 2013, 6:24pm

Si wrote:I think that there are examples closer to home, for instance the debate about where in the lane to ride: the self-evident might suggest 'as far from the cars as possible, right in the gutter' whereas the counter intuitive would say 'out in secondary or primary where the cars will see you and won't try to squeeze past'.
Yep.
That works for me.

Today in Tavistock, we drove through and there were a couple of cyclists. They were oblivious to the traffic around them and TBH got in the way. I squeezed past them, and Mrs Mick F suggested they were very bad examples of cyclists and gave cyclists a bad name.

I had no problem squeezing past. They probably had no problem with me squeezing past. Perhaps they thought that all traffic always squeezed past all cyclists. They seemed fully accepting of the situation and were content to be squeezed. Good job I was in control and understanding the situation!

Had it been me cycling, I'd have been in control of the traffic, out in primary, holding my own. Someone like me in a car wouldn't have been able to squeeze past.

Great thread Horizon!
Good analogy and a good slogan too.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby Geriatrix » 14 Sep 2013, 7:31pm

horizon wrote:And if so, are there any comparable debates going on where the obviously sensible is challenged by the thoughtfully sceptical?

In 2003 Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, won the Nobel prize in economics for describing how we make decisions. Most importantly, why we make wrong decisions.
He published his concepts in a popular science book Thinking, fast and slow, which is what you described as self-evident versus counter-intuitive.
Fast thinking is the intuitive thinking we do. Essential for most of our decision making but can lead to wrong decisions (like deciding the earth is flat because that's the way it looks).
Slow thinking requires the brain to work. It's the type of thinking we do when we do maths, or critical thinking.

It's a brilliant book and gives a good description of why mobile phone use and driving doesn't mix. Also appropriate to the helmet debate.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

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Re: The self-evident versus the counter-intuitive

Postby Geriatrix » 14 Sep 2013, 7:46pm

bovlomov wrote:And headgear...
Protective headgear has been banned in male amateur boxing by the International Boxing Association (AIBA)

I would love to see a study how cricket has changed pre/post helmet era. In particular how it has affected casualties, both to the head and to the body of the batsman.
The use of helmets in cricket could provide a plausible explanation for Ian Walkers helmets & passing distance study. In cricket the bowler takes risks on behalf of the batsman because he is protected by a helmet. In cycling the driver...
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman