Posts filed under ‘rationality’

Sustained Incoherence

From the wikipedia entry for David Bohm

In Bohm’s view:

…the general tacit assumption in thought is that it’s just telling you the way things are and that it’s not doing anything – that ‘you’ are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don’t decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us. Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally. This is another major feature of thought: Thought doesn’t know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it is doing. It doesn’t want to know that it is doing it. And thought struggles against the results, trying to avoid those unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of thinking. That is what I call “sustained incoherence”.

March 2, 2011 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Cool Ben Franklin quote!

“So convenient a thing is it to be a rational creature, since it enables us to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to.”
Ben Franklin

As De Bono says, it’s the intelligent people who have to watch out, because they can use their smarts to construct plausible (to them and others) stories of their motives and actions. Rationalisation!

February 20, 2011 at 6:59 am Leave a comment

Test Five: Not sure I’m rational. Let me just roll these dice to find out

So, a 50 item questionnaire, with a six point scale from “totally agree” to “totally disagree” as devised by Dr Howard Kassinove.
You end up, after a little reverse scoring, with subscales for awfulizing, self-directed shoulds, other-directed shoulds, low-frustration tolerance and self-worth. (Usual disclaimers apply).

Hmm, a bunch of the questions were, to me, ambiguous and really hard to answer. Maybe I am thinking about this too much?
Turns out that – assuming I got the scoring right;
I am 85% percentile as an awfuliser (that’s just awful!!)
Slap bang in the middle for self-directed shoulds (which aren’t really explained enough, IMHO)
Off the scale for other directed shoulds (so much for my image of myself as laissez faire)
Off the scale for low-tolerance (so much for my image as chillaxed – how does that gel with my anxiety?)
Off the scale for Self-worth (huh)?

If I could be bothered to look into it, I’d do a little more digging. Generally, I don’t do horoscopes, I try to see inside other viewpoints (hermeneutics and all that). Sure, we all have our hinky blindspots. But I don’t see how this test is so ‘rational’…? Or am I missing something?

January 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

The rationality project

AJ Jacobs blurb about his book “My Life as an Experiment” includes this

The Rationality Project:
I tried to retrain my brain to be something more than an ad hoc collection of half-assed solutions that have built up over millions of years of evolution. I attempted to eliminate every irrational bias using the insights of behavioral economics. And in doing so, I permanently changed the way I make every decision, from the simplest (what toothpaste to buy) to the biggest (how to raise the kids).

Should be fun!!

January 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

Saving your own skin is a middle-class affectation?

Help me out here.

Cycling along in the dark (lights on, hi-vis jacket, helmet) I see three pedestrians step out onto a fairly busy road without looking.

Me, approaching “You’re not even looking, are you?”

One of them “We don’t need to look; we’re not that posh.”

Huh?  Since when was taking steps to not be roadkill something only the class enemy does?  No wonder the proles are losing, eh?   Is this some deep comment about alienated anomie and the fact that poor people’s lives count for less?  Is this the reckless bravado of your nineteenth century Irish labourer on the railways – well-paid but likely to die?

Or is this just laziness and complacency bred of a welfare state gone rancid?

Ideas?

January 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

God, what a species

We are not that bright. Someday soon I’m gonna find out the name of the clown who labelled us “homo sapiens sapiens” and build a time machine and go back and bitch-slap him.  And it was a him, of that you can be sure.

Anyhow, this wordpress site, one of far too many I have created, is gonna be devoted to readings on the fallibility (at best) of human reasoning.  With a garnish of what to do about it.
Have read Stuart Sutherland’s “Irrationality” (very good) and Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” (excellent) and have others on the list.

Primarily – at the moment- interested in

a) the whys of how we are built to screw it up (evolutionary palimpsests etc)

b) the hows of how we screw it up (kinds of cognitive biases and how they show up in everyday and unusual circumstances)

c) what to do about b) since short of the whole Extropian guff, we are stuck with what we got.  As the guy said “We are like sailors who must rebuild the ship on the open sea, never able to dismantle it in dry-dock and to reconstruct it there out of the best materials.”

January 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment


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