Learning Classics is a bit like putting on a magic pair of 3-D glasses. Once you start delving into the language and the culture, you'll start to see it all around you. This blog is a record of the club's journey through the worlds and language of ancient Rome and Greece... and through modern times, too, searching for the influence of classics all around us. You'll also be able to find vocab, home tasks, links and generally enlightening info here, too.

14 May 2017

Lesson 15: All too human

After a little bit of Latin language work (quick fire verbs, noun endings), we picked up on the serious business of Plato's idea that most humans are not fit for deciding their own government (i.e. democracy). Surely some mistake?

After listening (again!) to the excellent Ken Taylor (see last' week's entry), we considered the ways in which regular people are not always straight-thinking, rational beings. We dug deep into the Card Experiment (thank you, Isaac, for a wonderfully clear explanation!), which shows us that the human mind tends to look for confirmation of what it already believes to be true ('confirmation bias'). "So what?!" you may think. "What does a bunch of cards have to do with how people vote? Well, we then discussed the issue of fake news, and how people tend to look for stories that confirm, rather than challenge, their political beliefs.

We then took a quiz that illustrated some of the other human biases discovered by psychological research: attribution bias (when I do well, it's because I'm awesome, but if I don't it's because my external circumstances were to blame), overconfidence bias (I overestimate my ability to get things right), ingroup bias (favouring people in my group) and primacy/recency bias (remembering the first and last things you heard/saw, but not so much the bit in the middle). If you're interested, you can read more here.

So, bringing it all back to Plato, Ken Taylor ends on a note of optimism. Humans may be biased, but hey, at least we now know it. Maybe now we can try not to be like this and democracy will be a better system. What do you think?...