[ExI] The Rationality of Belief is Relative

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu May 21 07:51:14 UTC 2009

Olga Bourlin wrote:

> From: "Lee Corbin" <lcorbin at rawbw.com>
> To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
>> Okay, a conjecture: those merely listening
>> will devote more emotional processing time
>> to what is heard (or images seen, for that
>> matter), than those reading. Of course,
>> that's pretty easy to say: I refer people
>> to one of P.J. Manney's posts a year or two
>> back in which she described the great chapter
>> entitled "Typographic America" in the book
>> "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman.
>> The thesis is that by watching [and] listening,
>> educated Americans now are in effect a lot
>> dumber and less rational than were educated
>> Americans a century ago when print was king,
>> although Postman reserves most of his scorn
>> for images (TV) as opposed to audio (radio).
> Oh, balderdash!
> It was "educated" Americans in the PAST who were not as smart and a lot 
> less rational than they are now.
> A century ago women still could not vote.  Was this smart and rational?

The things you're bringing up have everything
to do with cultural development, and nothing
whatever to do with modes of thinking, e.g.

> A century ago gays were in the closet, and being homosexual was 
> considered abnormal by psychologists and psychiatrists.  Was this smart 
> and rational?

Doesn't apply! What many followers of Mohammad
did in the 7th century was very smart and rational,
even though they held some very bizarre beliefs
and even thought that the Prophet had ridden to
heaven on a horse.

But these very people could then turn around,
and without any lapse in beliefs that we would
laugh at, execute advances in science and art
that were (and are) breathtaking, and cannot be
accomplished by people who have not attained
a great capacity for systematic, rational thought.

Newton wrote more on theology than on science,
and his opinions and calculations concerning
the age of man (he disagreed vehemetly with
Bishop Ussher's calculation) probably strike
you as irrational. But you are quite wrong.
I think you confuse content with method.

Slavery seemed perfectly natural to Aristotle
and Cicero. You consider this a rational lapse
on their parts?


> Many public school classrooms allowed teachers to conduct prayers with 
> their students.  Was this smart and rational?
> A century ago discrimination of all kinds (in jobs, schools and housing 
> against Jews, other ethnic groups, and even going so far as de jure 
> discrimination and segregation against American citizens who were 
> "black") was not just common, but the order of the day.  Was this smart 
> and rational?
> And television?  A bad influence on these smart and rational people in 
> the past?  Fiddlesticks.
> The link below is an essay by my husband - just a few thoughts:
> http://home.sprynet.com/~inniss/coldwar.htm
> Olga

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