[ExI] Meta question

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Aug 18 14:19:15 UTC 2016



From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of William Flynn Wallace
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:02 AM
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Subject: Re: [ExI] Meta question


I still have problems with word definitions:  if 'irrational' behavior works better than 'rational' behavior, then it is rational.  Perhaps we need to define rational as well as irrational.


It simply makes no sense to me to say'it is rational to act irrationally'.  This is oxymoronic.


bill w




BillW, our world is filled with this kind of thing, but admitting that the apparently irrational is really rational is a tacit admission that we don’t know everything.  In chess, some opening sequences look really weird from the viewpoint of well-understood principals, but centuries of experience has shown the irrational-looking move works better, assuming one continues to follow the strange-looking thread.


In controls engineering, we have mathematical tools that few know the scientific reason why they work the way they do; but the engineers aren’t paid to understand the mathematical tools; only use them correctly.  For instance, if a structures engineer can stabilize a vibration mode in a satellite using a Nichols chart and a Bode plot, she might have no clue why those work and why they suggest doing something exactly opposite what a rational engineer would do… shrug.  She still stabilizes the satellite.


When we speak of irrational human behavior, compare it to the game of poker.  We know that some irrationality is advantageous.  We don’t understand all the subtleties of human behavior.  We are not even close: the brain does not understand the brain.  Keith is an example of a person who suffered severe penalties for having insights into human behavior.  Not only do we not understand rational behavior, society doesn’t even want it. 


Given that, we cannot define irrational behavior.



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