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Adaptive Thinking: Rationality in the Real World (Evolution by Gerd Gigerenzer

By Gerd Gigerenzer

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Extra info for Adaptive Thinking: Rationality in the Real World (Evolution and Cognition Series)

Sample text

Women ultimately staffed the "bureaux de calculs" in major astronomical and statistical projects (despite their earlier being accused of vivid imaginations and mental restlessness; see Daston, 1992). Talent and genius ceased to be virtuoso combinatorics and permutations and turned into romantic, unanalyzable creations. Thereby, the stage became set for the neoromanticism in twentieth-century philosophy of science that declared creativity as mystical and the context of 27 28 WHERE DO NEW IDEAS COME FROM?

His most prominent example is Einstein's special theory of relativity, which was and still is celebrated as an empirical generalization from Michelson's experimental data by such eminent figures as R. A. Millikan and H. Reichenbach, as well as by the textbook writers. As Holton demonstrated with firsthand documents, the role of Michelson's data in the discovery of Einstein's theory was slight, a conclusion shared by Einstein himself. Similarly, with respect to more modest discoveries, I argue that a group of recent cognitive theories did not originate from new data, but in fact often created new kinds of data.

Thought was a combinatorial calculus, and great thinkers were proficient calculators. In the eulogies of great mathematicians, for instance, prodigious mental reckoning was a favorite topic—Gauss's brilliant arithmetic was perhaps the last of these stock legends. Calculation was the essence of moral sentiment, too. Even self-interest and greed (as opposed to dangerous passions), by their nature of being calculations, were at least predictable and thereby thought to reinforce the orderliness of society (Daston, 1988, 1994).

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