[FoRK] Re: "Thanks for the Facts. Now Sell Them."

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Tue Apr 17 14:17:20 PDT 2007

On Apr 17, 2007, at 12:31 PM, Bill Stoddard wrote:

>> The scientific method is the ONLY reliable means we have of  
>> achieving a consensus understanding of the reality we all  
>> *actually* live in --- i
> Sure, I completely agree, but....  A robust solution (if there is  
> such a thing) must account for the fact that humans are emotional

I think this is a sort of meaningless, tautological statement.  What  
"problem" are we solving?  What characteristics make a "solution" to  
this "problem" "robust"?  What other qualities does a solution  
require?  Meaningless hot air.

I repeatedly observe that humans are emotional, irrational, etc.   
Problem "solved" --- my mental model of humanness built on this  
observation now allows me to predict lots of things about human  
behavior.  Or --- perhaps more to the point --- allows me to  
comprehend and rely on the inherent unpredictability,  
incomprehensibility, and unreliability of humans. ;-)

> Should we all strive to be Spock like?

Pat answer:  only if you want to be.

> Should we engineer the gene pool to get us there?

That's a question of values --- a value judgment.  As such has  
nothing to do with science.  Why is it that so many people think  
science ought to provide value judgments?  Similarly, that it's  
meaningless if it fails to provide such value judgments?  That kind  
of brokenthink's symptomatic of the disease...

> Emotions are  what make life really fun, ne?  People believe what  
> makes them happy.  If we cure the disease, we kill the essence of  
> what makes us human.  Best we can do is manage the disease,  
> discourage irrational beliefs that are inherently damaging to other  
> people. However, one size does not fit all.

You want value judgments, then here's the most meta- sort of value  
judgment I can admit in this...

Emotion per se is not a problem, nor even irrationality --- cf.  
"Irrationality of Gustibus" in yesterday's Overcoming Bias:


The problem is when people make irrational decisions that are against  
their own best interests.  The disease itself is an epidemic of  
virulent bad ideas that repeatedly encourages people to make  
irrational decisions adverse to their own interests.  And it becomes  
a grave threat when all those individual bad decisions eventually  
accumulate, interfere destructively with each other, and ultimately  
imperil the species.

So, should we all strive to be Spock?  Not necessarily.  But a little  
more Spock and a lot less Bin Laden / James Dobson / etc. would  
benefit everybody.


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