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NPR's Marketplace covers the NYC bike lane debate. "one survey shows three-quarters of Brooklynites support that bike lane."

I see the arguments of those against bike lanes as similar to those on the Religious Right who argue in favor of a Christianist agenda.

The argument usually goes something like, "We are overwhelmingly a Christian nation!" Notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of Christians in this country are so by default, and find the Religious Rights arguments and tactics repulsive.

Those who battle against cyclists rights and infrastructure make a similar argument "There are a hundred drivers for every cyclist!" This may be true, but "driver" is a default condition in our society.

Almost every cyclist has a driver's license; most drivers see bike lanes as a benign good; and only the tiniest minority buy into this War on Drivers bullshit.

But of course, the auto-centrists see everyone with a driver's license as an ideological soul-mate.

HE writes:

"The spectacle is counter-intuitive. How does it happen?...

An important quality of collision is mutuality. If I collide with you, then you collide with me. And if I don't collide with you, you don't collide with me. In promoting my interest in avoiding collision with you, I also promote your interest in avoiding collision with me.

The key to social order at the roller rink is this coincidence of interest.I do not intend to promote your interest. I am not necessarily even aware of it. Still, by looking out for myself I am to that extent also looking out for you. My actions promote your interest.

Skating on the floor of the roller rink is an example of what Friedrich Hayek called spontaneous order."


This is classic cognitivist bias: as if the reason extant behavior is because of good reasons. The von Hayek citation is classic!

The issues here are psychological and biological, NOT economic!

The explanation of why there are no crashes on roller rinks is the same reason historical anarchism is most democratic and most responsible form of social organization: it has everything to do with *non*cognitive reasons concerning the nature of of biology as social beings. As an introduction to those reason you can try Gladwell's *Blink.*

The cognitivist/choice-ism bias is also seen in
Shane's comments about the sentencing of Fraser for killing Stan. HOW and WHAT are the messages that are being sent by his sentencing? The effect (or lack of one), of the sentencing is an EMPIRICAL issue -- just like helmet use. In short, neither has been shown to "send a message." I realize it is "counterintuitive" to claim as i do: so much the worse for (cartesian) intuition...which is persuasive would have not allowed scientific progress, as ALL science is counterintuitive...that's why we call it science!

Cognitivism, and it's choice fetish, trades on this issue:

“The very notion of a well-defined, global, and consistent “self-interest” for any human being over any significant length of time makes no sense. It is ruled out by the following considerations:

1. Most of our reasoning is unconscious, so most determination of self-interest in our everyday lives is not done at the level of conscious choice.

2. Our unconscious conceptual systems make use of multiple metaphors and prototypes, especially in the area of metaphors for what is right and what is good, and ought to be pursued. Thus, in most cases, there is not a univocal, self-consistent notion of “the good” or of “the best outcome.”

3. Since our unconscious reasoning about what is a “best outcome” often conflicts with our conscious determination of “best outcome,” there is no single unitary consistent locus of “self-interest.”

In short the nature of human conceptual systems makes it impossible for us to be objective maximizers of a univocal, consistent self-interest.

We can now see that the moral problem of the apparent conflict between selfishness (or “rationality”) and altruism is ill-defined, because the notion of rationality is empirically incorrect: We are not and cannot be rational self-interest maximizers in the traditional sense.”
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh (New York: Basic Books, 1999), p. 559.

Thank God that cyclists are getting more diverse and normal-looking...

"Coincidence of Interest." One of the great things about the internet is finding that there are names for things you've thought about but never put a name to!

I've often wondered if one of the reasons that motorists feel so put-upon by pedestrians and cyclists is the sub-conscious awareness of a lack of coincidence of interest. It's "unfair" that a motorist has so much less to lose in a collision, but still has to put out the effort to avoid colliding.

@contrarian:

Right on. I've always liked the idea of placing day-glo orange cinder-blocks at all unsignaled pedestrian crossings in the city, so that folks can cross the street, and auto traffic will actually yield the ROW.

That way, if drivers refuse to stop, pedestrians can drop the cinder-block on the driver's hood, or toss it through the windshield. Now I have a name for the dynamic!

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