Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reason for idiocy

Ah, finally I have figured out why I think people are so often idiots.
It's not an inherent stupidity, per se, it's an unwillingness to embrace reason as a basis for reality.

"They believe in an evidence-based world, something called rationalism. But it's a tiny group. Not so influential."


Peter T said...

> They believe in an evidence-based world, something called rationalism.

I don't think that evidence-based and rationalism go together naturally. The forefather of (western) rationalism was Descartes and was very supicious of all evidence, every sensing should be doubted, but the own thinking (cogito ergo sum). Prior to Descartes, we probably should call Aristoteles and other philosphers rationalist, as they trusted their logic to guide them to more and more knowledge. I would also count the Jewish Talmudist under the rationalists as they took their bible and tried to deduce everything and its opposite from it by logical discussions. Christianity is an emotional outburst compared to them.

I would see rationalism as a kind of thought who first takes many sources of knowledge into account but then sieves them with a sharp eye for contradictions and, if a contradiction cannot be solved within one's own position, with a willingness to change the position.

"Evidence-based" is more than that, to accept as starting point no tradition and conjecture but to discard all knowledge if it isn't repeated observation or can be logically deduced from such observation, in other words, it is natural science.

ccyager said...

There was an article in the Star Tribune last Sunday that I brought with me to Stammtisch last Thursday. It's sort of like "The Idiot's Guide to being an Idiot," -- describing how Wall Street wants to do with life insurance policies what they did to mortgages. To top it off, it seems the payout diminishes the longer an insured person lives. And Sarah Palin accused Obama of suggesting the creation of "death panels"? How is Wall Street going to make money on this new scheme if the payouts diminish with time? I'm certain they'll have to know whose policies are in each bundle in order to get a payout.... Geez. Maybe we should collaborate on the above mentioned book.... (laughing)

Gopher MPH said...

I believe Treadeau's point was that the groups in question are neither rational nor evidence based.

purely rational thinking fails when people fail to consider anything after "hey, that one point is logical!" and stop. This ignores that other things conclusions can be logically deduced from the same starting point.

Natural science is my preferred method for analyzing the world. (yes, really) This is limited by the sample size available. While there are millions of idiots in the country, there is no scientifically valid surrogate for the "idiot" variable.

Christianity is, I believe, an emotional outburst. It relies on one's emotional response to Jesus' role as the messiah. There is a complete leap of faith behind quite a lot of it. Including all of the faith-based beliefs, like the intercession of the saints.

I don't expect natural science to explain God. I'm perfectly willing to accept the existence of something which cannot be proven. Of course, I think if science could explain God, it wouldn't damage my faith.

Joachim said...

Intresting thread... And somehow I am reminded of the fundamental phenomenology discussion between the Bomb and a crew member in John Carpenter's movie "Dark Star"...

Here's a link: