[extropy-chat] Humans--non-rational mode

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Fri Mar 10 03:30:21 UTC 2006

Damien writes

> > >2.  general emotional behavior: anger, love, envy, and so forth
> > >    surely have evolutionary explanations, and moreover, one
> > >    easily sees that the *propensity* to become angry, for
> > >    example, in many situations pays dividends
> Yes.  But does jealousy make you happier, or does it serve the purposes of
> your genes?

I would say that it can easily accomplish both. It
might, for example, help retain a mate by motivating
you to fight for a exclusive relationship with him/her,
and, if you are successful, increase your happiness
that way. You suffer, on the other hand, if either 
the jealousy is too weak to provoke you to take action,
or the action fails.

Now, not surprisingly, culture plays a strong role. I bet
that in some cultures men enjoy being jealous (probably
because the odds of them gaining eventual satisfaction
are so great). In ours, it probably causes more pain
than happiness.

> Does *love* serve your purposes, or those of your genes?
> May that depend on who you find yourself falling in love
> with?

To this question I wouldn't be able to give any more than
the preceding kind of answer.

> What *are* your purposes, when it comes down to it?

I'm sure that I speak for many when I say that my immortal
purposes involve doing away with my genes altogether. So
it doesn't matter what *my* purposes are. The important
question is "Have the human genes made a TERRIFIC mistake,
not only in immolating themselves, but in destroying all
DNA on Earth?"  Most likely answer is "Yes, they have."
Because the odds are very against humanity just simply
puttering along in its present bio-form for much longer.

Thanks especially for your second example below, I hadn't
heard of it. But I am really after examples of "excess"
rationality, i.e., where, objectively speaking, raw
rationality fails.


> 5. The Wason card test, where even people trained in logic have trouble
> giving the right answer to a pretty simple abstract problem, while an
> isomorphic problem in the language of social cheating (detecting underage
> drinkers) is easy for everyone to solve.
> 6. "X and Y add up to $110, Y costs $100 more than X.  How much is X?"
> Reportedly the fast answer even for trained people is "$10", but this effect
> fades if the total is $233 instead of $110, say.  This may not seem to
> serious, but I think it may say something about how fast responses (habit,
> pattern completion) can sideline reasoning.

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