Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Future of Rationality

It occurred to me I haven't bothered you with my random thoughts for a while. Not that I had lack thereof, they just possibly were a little too random to make it into written word.

I wrote this sentence with my toes, just to amuse you.

So here's a thought I've been pushing around for a while. Are we on the path towards more or less rationality? The last several hundred years were marked by increased rationality: the rise and success of the scientific method, the Age of Enlightenment, the decline of religion and superstition, and so on. But you look around these days it seems that increasingly more people seem to be scared by the prospect. If you extrapolate that trend where will it lead us? Maybe there are just things we don't want to know. (See also The Right Not to Know).

It seems to me there's a sentiment in the air that we need more "spirituality," more "magic," more "wonders" in our increasingly technological world based on mechanical engineering and computer algorithms. Some people want to "reinvent the sacred," others emphazise "emotional intelligence" or "the power of thinking without thinking." Blink.

While I think some of these arguments aren't very insightful, there are two aspects I'm sympathetic to.

For one, I think there is at any one time a limit to what humans can possibly know, possibly even a limit to what we can ever know and we should be more aware of that. That means for example instead of being scared by gaps in our knowledge it or discarding them as a failure of scientists we should recognize the relevance of acknowledging and dealing with uncertainty, incomplete knowledge and 'unknown unknowns,' as well as be vary of The Illusion of Knowledge.

But besides that putting an emphasis on rationality neglects other cognitive abilities we have. For example, many of us have on some occasion met somebody who, through their experience, have developed a strong intuition for what might or might not work. Even though they might not be able to come up with any precise "rational" argument, they have a feeling for what seems right or doesn't. Granted, they might be mistaken, but more often then not you'll benefit from listening to them. One of the most important gifts, so I believe, of the human mind is to make what Plato called on some occasion at this blog an 'intuitive leap' into the unknown. Without such leaps our space of discoveries would be strongly limited. Rationality isn't always the path towards progress. (While not many insightful points were raised in the aftermath of the publication of Lee's book, I found it very interesting what Joe Polchinski had to say on the role of rigor in physics.)

Now let me step away from the human brain and consider instead of a system of neurons the systems that govern our every day lives, like for example our political systems. They have some "rational" processes to deal with input and to decide on actions. They also have some emergency shortcuts resembling unconscious reactions. If somebody throws a pillow at you, you'll raise your arms and close your eyes without a long deliberation of whether or not that's a good thing to do. If somebody throws a bomb on your territory you don't want to get stuck in endless discussions about what to do.

But what about intuitions and emotions? Where is the space for them?

Let us take as an example the credit crisis. It was not that people who were actively involved in building up the problem were completely unconcerned. They just had no way to channel their uncanny feelings. From a transcript of a radio broadcast "This American Life" (audio, pdf transcript, via):

    mortgage broker: ...it was unbelievable... my boss was in the business for 25 years. He hated those loans. He hated them and used to rant and say, “It makes me sick to my stomach the kind of loans that we do.”

    Wall St. banker: ...No income no asset loans. That's a liar's loan. We are telling you to lie to us. We're hoping you don't lie. Tell us what you make, tell us what you have in the bank, but we won't verify? We’re setting you up to lie. Something about that feels very wrong. It felt wrong way back when and I wish we had never done it. Unfortunately, what happened ... we did it because everyone else was doing it.

Italics added. My favourite part though was this
    Mike Garner: Yeah, and loan officers would have an accountant they could call up and say “Can you write a statement saying a truck driver can make this much money?” Then the next one, came along, and it was no income, verified assets. So you don't have to tell the people what you do for a living. You don’t have to tell the people what you do for work. All you have to do is state you have a certain amount of money in your bank account. And then, the next one, is just no income, no asset. You don't have to state anything. Just have to have a credit score and a pulse.

    Alex Blumberg: Actually that pulse thing. Also optional. Like the case in Ohio where 23 dead people were approved for mortgages.

Well, so much about rationality. The point is it's not that people didn't feel there was something wrong. It was just that the system itself had no way to address that feeling. The negative feedback it could have provided went nowhere. 

Or take the academic system, one of my pet topics as you know. It's not that people think it's all well and great. In fact, they can tell you all kinds of things that don't work well and some can complain seeming endlessly. But the system itself has no way to address these concerns. The only way to improve it is external intervention, which however usually only takes place once things go really wrong.

It's like you go out with a guy and even though you don't know exactly what's wrong, he makes you feel really awkward. But instead of just stop dating him you'd go see a shrink who looks up in a book what you're supposed to do. That's about what's wrong with our political systems.

So what's the future of rationality? I think we'll need to find its proper place.

Aside: I believe that many of the arguments we have about rationality are based on a lacking definition. For example if I intend to buy a new gadget I will typically look at the first few offers and pick the one I like best, finito. Sure, if I had looked a little harder or a little longer I might have saved some bucks. But frankly I'd rather pay more than spending an infinite amount of time with customer reviews. I think this is perfectly rational. Others might disagree. (And now encode that in your utility function.) That is to exemplify that rationality might not easily be objectively quantifiable.

34 comments:

Arun said...

Dear Bee,

The reason I believe people bring in spirituality and so on is because so-called rational people argue from very limited premises.

For instance, most economic discourse takes as an unstated premise that greed is good, and so for instance, a progressive income tax, which makes one's greed for more and more income less and less effective as one's income rises, is obviously a bad thing, leading to distortions in the market.

Because most people are not equipped to examine the premises underlying the dominant discourses, but sense that something is missing, they bring in spirituality and such. That is their way to give some weight to other values.

Best,
-Arun

Michael F. Martin said...

It's like you go out with a guy and even though you don't know exactly what's wrong, he makes you feel really awkward. But instead of just stop dating him you'd go see a shrink who looks up in a book what you're supposed to do. . . . So what's the future of rationality? I think we'll need to find its proper place.Get married! Sort of kidding and sort of not.

Bee said...

Sort of kidding, sort of not?

Giotis said...

Bee it's only natural that spirituality and mysticism persists in human societies even in these modern times we live.
Rationality is connected in people's mind to reality and reality is cruel and bitter. The more they understand it the more they want to escape from it.

Enriq said...

Hi,

Giotis has a point. But in that respect, I think scientists could do a better job in marketing rationality (and reality) in a more appealing way. Instead of just giving cold and bare facts, we could try to convey the idea that the rational picture of our world is deeper and richer than any spiritual trend. Take for instance the happy thought that our dead relatives smile to us from heaven, and that we will reunite with them soon. To me, that's a very childish concept. But people have always been afraid of death and need to cope with that. Maybe if instead of saying that when you die, everything is utterly over for good; we go along with what Richard Dawkins says about the how lucky we are of having won the lottery of birth because out of the infinitely large number of possible DNA combinations it is ours the one that has come to be, etc. (I'm paraphrasing one of his public lectures). My point is that maybe if we say it in the right way, rationality could win the crowd. We just need scientists with a poetic vein! ;-)

Bee said...

Giotis, Enriq: I never said it's not natural, and certainly didn't mean to say that. I was trying to say that it's natural for a good reason so we should learn something from it. If emotions and intuitions have been beneficial during the evolution of mankind we shouldn't dismiss them when we're struggling with the functionality of social systems.

Giotis said...

Yes I agree. Only mysticism could help us understand the economy these days.

If you could told someone in the 80s that the time will come that GM will be owned by the American state and OPEL by Russian private banks he would certainly thought that you are some kind of a wacko fortuneteller:-)

Bee said...

:-) I understand that as a joke but it's far from what I was saying. Humans are not entirely rational as a fact. Any system that we interact in that only works with rationality is bound to fail. What I'm saying is that therefore non-rationality should have its place, if only in the form to voice concerns of the sort: look, there's something wrong here, I don't know what but watch out. It's a feedback channel that is completely missing.

Uncle Al said...

1) Social advocacy
2) State-mandated charity
3) Religious politics
4) Enviro-whinerism
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/sunshine.jpg
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/analysis.jpg
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/god.jpg
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/reality.png

We lack rigorous characterization of the topology and function of cluelessness - the congenitally inconsequential.

Giotis said...

Bee you are scaring me:-)

But seriously, yes I see what you mean but even if you are right, I'm not sure how this could be practically implemented in the large scale of social structures.

Bee said...

Me neither. That's why it runs under random thoughts :-)

Arun said...

On the specific example - of Wall Street firms selling bad loans - "the negative feedback it could have provided went nowhere" - it could have gone somewhere, and that is by going short on the shares of those firms. Problem is perhaps it is difficult for the average person to do.

---

As to large scale systems that do not rely on pure rationality - they're all over the place. In one sense Toyota as a corporation differs from Honda for non-rational reasons (or rationality has to justify that there is no one best way to run a car-manufacturing business).

Things ranging from venture capitalism to the entire arts, movie, publishing and music industries don't operate on pure rationality. There is no purely rational way to decide that a particular artistic idea is worth pursuing.

Then of course, there is the Catholic Church (more than a billion strong) and all organized religions. None of them can be said to be operating on pure rationality.

Science cannot explain altruism beyond one's near relatives; and evolution is quite clear also that the individual really has no objective interest in the survival of the species; so even the nearby soup kitchen does not operate on pure rationality.

Anyway, I'm probably overstaying my welcome.

Len Ornstein said...

Bee:

The majority of the sensory inputs upon which we routinely act, are processed automatically, and without internal translation into words – or even conscious awareness. Therefore part of what is valued as expert 'opinion' or 'performance' depends upon the honing of such unspoken 'rationality' nervous networks.

Expert teachers may be especially adept at translating such intuitive understanding into rational discourse.

Non-representational art, music and dance provide other non-verbal fuzzy ways to communicate and share some otherwise personal experiences.

Since scientist communicate mainly with words and symbols, varying amounts of their experience has so far remained personal and largely uncommunicated.

Just recognizing this problem, should begin to help fill the 'rationality gap' (e.g., with functional nMRI studies).

However I doubt that spirituality can contribute much. It mainly seems to derive from the recognition of 'the gap', but with untestable models for its solution.

Altruism and ethics, though interwoven with 'the gap', eventually can probably largely be 'resolved' with rational discourse.

CoffeeCupContrails said...

Bee,

I'm sure you've probably seen these videos, but for the benefit of others here:

1. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html

2. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code.html

And Dan's book: Predictably Irrational (PredictablyIrrational.com)

Very good first references for the subject being discussed here.

Michael F. Martin said...

LOL.

Sort of kidding in the sense that it would be a singularly bad idea for any girl to marry a guy who makes her feel awkward in order to resolve the question of what makes her feel awkward.

Sort of not in the sense that if this were the only guy around worth dating for other reasons, then it might be worth sticking it out. In general, many people seem to believe that their significant other must come preconfigured to meet their own personal needs. Anybody who's been married long knows that a good marriage is about adapting to meet the needs of the other person. That adaption over time should be reciprocal; but during specific periods it is probably not!

Herbert Simon understood that what economic agents do is not "rational," but rather "satisficing." Satisficing means maximizing the fit between goods and preferences subject to the practical constraints of imperfect information, imperfect ability to process information, and imperfect liquidity (due to the low frequency of certain exchanges or distributional inequalities).

One (maybe the only?) way to ameliorate the dislocation between actual and theoretically maximum aggregate welfare is to precommit ourselves to more frequent contact, more open communication, and (the horror, the horror) more redistributions of wealth. When the size of the economy is two, then that prescription could be translated to "get married"!

It is in this sense that we should view globalization of markets at the beginning rather than the end of our future economic growth.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

My view of the world currently is a little different and that being a lot of the anxiety is due to people realizing they live in a time where most of us understand very little of the sum total of what is known. In response many shun rational thinking and logic in favour of unsubstantiated opinion in the hope that if they be shared and accepted widely enough this can somehow compensate for their inability to think and act rationally.

I think if anything good is to come out of the current economic crisis is that it serve to exemplify in future we must approach things more carefully and rationally and not be so easily overwhelmed as to be ruled by our feelings and insecurities, rather they be positive or negative. Like you said yourself this leads to false notions that it was primarily caused and driven by greed or conspiracy and that all that’s required is we eliminate evil in the world. I think the challenges we face will only be meet if more realize they need to be rational and endeavour to develop the skills and tools required in order to make better judgements and be able to effectively act upon them.

As for the intuition aspect I look at this from two different perspective, one being instinct and the other what is gathered from experience. The instinct aspect would apply more to the case of the fellow you felt was wrong for you somehow without being able to put your fingers on a precise reason. In fact over the years it has been determined that more subliminal mechanisms can account for much of this and actually have a basis that can be explained scientifically and act in our better interests.

On the other hand what I would call non instinctive intuition is largely influenced and shaped by not simply what we know, yet rather more importanltly how it is we have come to know it. That is if it be knowledge of memorization or route learning or knowledge born of life experience coupled to a more fundamental approach to learning and understanding.

So in general I like you am in favour of people both trusting their instincts and intuitions if they be of sound foundations. However, I would not extend this to be superior to the scientific method of observational induction filtered through the sieve of deductive reasoning. That is i would like to believe this is where our evolution is taking us and our ultimate strength as a species resides.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Scientists when short of an information to provide an argument then are simply financiers of the mystical or spirituality? They should not voice their opinion further?:)

I do not mean to scare you with any hint of my own "religious or mystical belief" in the "weight these values of things" or "how these objects of focus attach themself to us, by how much we own them.":)

So like Uncle Al ( free as a bird:)there seems to be this topological relation inside/outside with the world?

See, no matter the role you have selected as to what become "self evident" to you, that is your world. The boundaries that come from it, is more or less, what comes into it? Just the way it is.

If you are self depreciation as to what can transpire into your brain/mind, then what use to "measure all those things" to find the limitations and to know where you have to step off from? A Crown is a Crown no use to step up to the King and give your response? "Just say" its all Silver or all Gold, and you will have been true to yourself.

No such thing as change, and the world never progresses. The individual themselves, never progress? Same ole world from day to day.

That is some peoples position on the Future of Rationality whether they like to admit it or not.

Best,

Plato said...

Phil:In fact over the years it has been determined that more subliminal mechanisms can account for much of this and actually have a basis that can be explained scientifically and act in our better interests.

Observation pays off. How wide one's view?

Marc D. Hauser: "

We know that that kind of information is encoded in the signal because people in Denmark have created a robotic honey bee that you can plop in the middle of a colony, programmed to dance in a certain way, and the hive members will actually follow the information precisely to that location. Researchers have been able to understand the information processing system to this level, and consequently, can actually transmit it through the robot to other members of the hive.

....we know relatively little about how the circuitry of the brain represents the consonants and vowels. The chasm between the neurosciences today and understanding representations like language is very wide. It's a delusion that we are going to get close to that any time soon. We've gotten almost nowhere in how the bee's brain represents the simplicity of the dance language. Although any good biologist, after several hours of observation, can predict accurately where the bee is going, we currently have no understanding of how the brain actually performs that computation."
Or better yet, Arun might have some impute on the Bee Economy?

I tend toward how gravity can affect these honey combs:)

While one may speak clearly o the scientific valuation of Pheromones what is it's organizing principal in the human body? What is it's emotive valuation as messages course through one's body? Like a Leaf perhaps?

Best,:)

Bee said...

Hi CoffeeCup,

Thanks! I knew one but not the other. Best,

B.

Don said...

Two points, because the topic is so complex.
1) The reaction against rationality includes Romanticism, and the reaction to Logical Positivism and a Foundation for Science. So, it's been an ongoing battle.
2) Philosophically speaking, I believe that it is rationality that summons the skeptic. Paradoxically, from my point of view, skeptical arguments are much stronger than they used to be.
Defining Rationality has always been a problem.

From a Physicist's point of view, Schrodinger's Cat is a good example. Presumably, Schrodinger meant to show that there was a problem with the Copenhagen View, as I remember it. He meant to point out an obvious deviation from rational thought. I don't that that his argument has worked.

Don the libertarian Democrat

Neil' said...

One thing that worries me a lot is scientific illiteracy among the public. It wouldn't be so bad if they just didn't know much, but it's worse: they ply their misconceptions with great arrogance and disdain for the experts. Furthermore, they often work their fallacies into a political-conspiratorial framework.

Look at the comments at "Obama's green guru calls for white roofs", http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5389278/Obamas-green-guru-calls-for-white-roofs.html. It's about Chu, the new Secretary of Energy, saying that white roofs would help combat global warming. His argument is essentially sound in principle, even if we wonder how significant a relative quantitative impact it would have. Note that cooler roofs require less air-conditioning energy to compensate for, so it's not just the direct reduction of heating of the house that matters.

But the commenters (mostly Americans I think to my dismay) said awfully stupid things like,
This is utter nonsense from an utter moron. As indicated in the article, white colored objects actually reflect heat back into space, therby increasing "global warming".

Not only is the reasoning wrong, but the commenter glibly presumed he could judge a proposal from an expert using the commenter's bare, OTTOTH intuition. (Of the top of the head ....) Many others made the same mistake, that "reflecting the heat back into the atmosphere makes warming worse." They can't even distinguish between "heat" as molecular energy versus radiant energy which won't heat things unless they absorb it. There are dozens and dozens of such comments, and they are as scientifically idiotic as they are querulous and derogatory.

I fear for the future of rationality with a populace like that. (Are Europeans, Japanese, Indians, etc, better?) We need to teach critical thinking skills in schools and not just subjects directly. (Ironically, one of Chu's critics said that lack of such teaching made people vulnerable to those like Chu!)

BTW, if you like interesting "paradoxes" please see my blog, tx.

Bee said...

Hi Neil,

Yes, that's what I refer to as The Illusion of Knowledge. I don't think Europeans are on average better in that regard. They just possibly don't tromp out their ignorance that openly. Best,

B.

Austin said...

(Long-time lurker here)

Something I came across related to this concept - a web site that, while a little millitaristic, presents at least a few arguments for understanding the origins of irrational thought.

http://www.theprotarchia.com/declaration.htm

It's long, and at points overbearing, but some of the concepts seem sound, at least to me. The basic principle (in what's referred to as the primary ideation) seems to be that irrationality evolved as a consequence of human intelligence, which would seem to argue that it would be extremely difficult to eliminate it entirely.

Bee said...

Hi Austin,

Always glad to 'unlurk' somebody :--) However, as I tried to say in my remark above, I think statements like "irrationality evolved as a consequence of human intelligence" are very strongly definition dependent. What is 'intelligence' and what is 'irrationality'? Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

“While one may speak clearly o the scientific valuation of Pheromones what is it's organizing principal in the human body? “

I would say the answer is to be found in the question itself and that is to ask if order is a phenomena which is circumstantial or consequential? For the past eighty years or more physics has been convinced that random is the indicator that all is circumstantial, rather than consequential. There have been a few however that have looked upon random itself as an ultimate limit to order that leads to consequence like for example in calculating the value of PI one can use a method dependant on it, or how when invoked in quantum mechanics it describes the taken path as Feynman demonstrated. Of course this notion is not a new one for more than two thousand years ago Aristotle would proclaim:

“It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe the agent deliberating. Art does not deliberate. If the ship-building art were in the wood, it would produce the same results by nature. If, therefore, purpose is present in art, it is present also in nature. The best illustration is a doctor doctoring himself: nature is like that. It is plain then that nature is a cause, a cause that operates for a purpose.”

The question then is to ask if calling irrational thought as being arbitrary is correct, for even random itself has indicated itself as not being so. For me rational distinguishes what can work and irrational what cannot. I would ask then, if given a way to choose on which would you depend?

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Hi Phil,

Just to back up a bit, and in the case of the "Mandelbrot Set Zoom" some thoughts to consider.

One on "self similarity" in driving perspective down too, and in this reductionist pursuit, what is it that governs the principal of Mandelbrot that can exist down there, that can exist above?

"networks designed without taking self-similarity into account are likely to function in unexpected ways."Self-similaritySo one looks for a "governing principal" and "a place" where direction is the "mind seeing in it's diverse prospects" and for the "body of thought" to follow? A flock of birds or a school of fish as movement in direction?

While there are "gates and signals transferable by the most minute of measure," is it not by the network from neuron to neuron, but then to take a "cloud that covers this procedure" to ignite all neurons? You see?

So what is the governing principal here that you could drive irrationality along side of rationality and in a random thought not consider it as a course of what is viable in all our actions, but then, for a few decisions here and there, to be the one I choose over another?

"The harmony of their colonies has been used as a metaphor. Wilson (2004) states that a community of honeybees often has been employed historically by political theorists as a model of human society:

"This image occurs from ancient to modern times, in Aristotle and Plato; in Virgil and Seneca; in Erasmus and Shakespeare; Tolstoy, as well as by social theorists Bernard Mandeville and Karl Marx.Wilson, B. 2004. The Hive: The Story Of The Honeybee. London, Great Britain: John Murray. ISBN 0719565987
Best,

Plato said...

Neil,

Some people would like to think if we but tap a new process "for robotic cultures" we might be able to make the most perfect society? So perspective is put in reductionist modes and all the things that make thinking irrational, become the idea that the deeper you go, the more irrational a neuron connect can be. What if under a under a guiding principal? A Pheromone? Bee's do it?

Best,

Austin said...

Bee,

How about this?

Intelligence is the ability to observe or infer patterns within the environment or one's experience and use those patterns to accurately predict future outcomes.

Irrationality is when a pattern determined initially by intelligence but deemed predictively useless or, worse, inaccurate is not abandoned or modified; instead the pattern is maintained intact while observations and/or experiences are changed to fit the pattern.

The context, then, would be that irrationality derives from an intelligent being's unwillingness to abandon a perspective, point of view, opinion, idea, or concept in the face of contrary evidence.

Low Math, Meekly Interacting said...

I have a suspicion. You might call it a fear. I have very little science to back it up, but some of what's out there, limited as it is, suggests this apprehension is not without some basis. What scares me is this: Human beings are not generally endowed with the ability to be highly rational creatures, and for a significant fraction, "magical thinking" comes easier. What I suspect is that the Enlightenment and the rise of the scientific method gave the more skeptical humans a viable alternative to the religious narrative they were forced to rely on for lack of something more satisfactory. As information became increasingly accessible, the ranks of the informed skeptics grew.

What I fear is that we are approaching the peak of the growth rate of informed skeptics. Information is now so widely disseminated that a relatively small fraction of the world's population are completely ignorant of the fruits and methods of skeptical inquiry. Eventually, perhaps soon, a new stable equilibrium will be reached, where humans exist on a spectrum of skeptical to magical thinking that remains fairly resistant to redistribution.

This raises the obvious question: What do you do with a subset of humanity for which magical thinking is inherent? What if no amount of education can change that? A human right encoded in the laws of many enlightened societies is the freedom to worship (or not), so long as this freedom does not impinge overmuch on the rights of others. In the proposed post-enlightenment equilibrium, do we rethink that set of values? If the skeptics can see no future worth to propagating religious traditions, or even demonstrate clearly that such traditions are deleterious, what do we do if the spiritual are innately so?

Austin said...

LOMI:

Individually-held irrational beliefs aren't necessarily detrimental to society; issues arise when those beliefs are, somehow, forced on others. This most often comes about through organized religion, but can also happen by a few well-placed individuals who happen to espouse those beliefs.

If society, as a whole, deems the influences of these belief systems as questionable or down-right detrimental, the steps taken to protect itself would likely seem draconian.

In essence, one could change the laws to state that irrational beliefs are a symptom of mental illness and, therefore, individuals who hold or express such beliefs (beyond some threshold) are at least partially non compos mentis. They could be restricted from holding public office, voting, perhaps signing legal contracts, etc.

Now, many people would call this religious persecution. That being said, we prevent people who are determined to be insane from impacting others in society in much of these ways: one could easily argue that believing in a voice in the clouds is no different, psychologically, from listening to the little voices in your head. To many people (probably a portion of those at this site), it's simply a question of degree.

Low Math, Meekly Interacting said...

The source of my fear is the obvious difficulty in contrasting the skeptic and the spiritual, and declaring the former more "sane". My suspicion is those who are innately prone to what might be called sub-clinical magical thinking are somewhat similar to those with synesthesia. There are objective means by which one could demonstrate that the synesthete perceives something that does not exist (music with color, for instance), but they are far from insane. The true spiritualist may sincerely feel the presence of the numinous, and may earnestly perceive some divine signal in disconnected events when there is only noise, and believe that signal to be just as real as any material object. But are they of "unsound mind"? I find a world that would judge them so rather frightening. I find a world where the magical thinkers are fully in charge equally frightening. I see little hope of reconciling the different perceptions of reality, thus ending the conflicts that arise between them.

Quite a dilemma, if true.

bellamy said...

'Rational' isn't hardly a word in my vocabulary. Why? Because, like morality, and emotional conceptions of things, it's arbitrary. I prefer to use the word 'funxional'. Oh, well, ya all've heard some of this before. Been a while, though. In any case, it's a suggestion to transcend one's cultural and genderal identities.

(Incidentally, my 'word verification' this time is "fillit". Fascinating.)

bellamy said...

By the way, folks, it's rather...um, STRIKING....how scientists are as ill-equipped as their religious brethren in dealing with emotional matters.

Plato said...

Irrationality is when a pattern determined initially by intelligence but deemed predictively useless or, worse, inaccurate is not abandoned or modified; instead the pattern is maintained intact while observations and/or experiences are changed to fit the pattern.

How about one's assessment of the rationality had been preceded by a "previous perspective" that allowed them to generate an attribute of the pattern they adopted and saw all this way.

They had then succumbed to their earlier perceptions, or, they have learned something from the experience?:)