[extropy-chat] Rational Irrationality (2)

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Fri Dec 8 12:51:25 UTC 2006

At 07:27 PM 12/7/2006 -0800, Lee wrote:
>Keith writes


> > Off hand there is little more irrational than blowing yourself up as a
> > suicide bomber.  I don't know how anyone could set this cost at zero.
>First, why didn't you demur when a number of us agreed that suicide
>bombing is not necessarily irrational.

I did, the post on rational depending on viewpoint.  I don't know if the 
post got through, the (N) on my postings is how many times I had to 
submit.  I might not always get them through the badly configured mailing 
list software.

>If your value system values your
>own life much less than it does The Cause, it is perfectly rational to

You might note that 20 years ago I coined the word to describe such people 
and have written extensively on how this trait evolved.

> > At least experiments like the Ultimatum game and finding the actual brain
> > structures active when people refuse an offer they should (if rational)
> > take is starting to inform economics with a bit of evolutionary psychology.
>Again, I disagree.  "Declining" in the Ultimatum Game is a form of
>altruistic punishment.  I'm sure you're familiar with the concept,

Very familiar.  Also that people play the game differently (more of the way 
a economist would say is "rational") when part of their brain is disrupted 
with transcranial magnetic stimulation or if they think they are playing 
against a computer.

>but google for it if not.  Again, it may be that in my private value system,
>really sticking it to the cheap sonavabitch is worth more to me than

An economist is likely to say this behavior is not rational.  (You can also 
bet that he, being human, would play the game the same way everyone else does.)

> > The *one* thing for sure is that over evolutionary time genes are rational
> > (The implied goal for genes is to "be there" in future generations.)
>That's for dead sure.
> >  If you look under human irrationality, you find rational reasons for
> > the genes to induced such behavior, or at least there were such reasons
> > when people lived in small related hunter gatherer bands.
>But allele frequencies have been changing a lot in *historical* times.
>For example, today those of us with genes that succumb to the cultural
>fashion of having few children, will obviously be far fewer in the future.
>And so will those genes.

Unless there is unghodly pressure, genes just don't change that fast.  I 
have cited examples where they did change in historical times in lot of 
previous posts here, try lactose as a key word.

Take the trait behind capture bonding (Stockholm syndrome).  Why should 
that go away?


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