[ExI] Meta question

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Fri Aug 19 04:49:57 UTC 2016

 On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 8:47 PM, rex <rex at nosyntax.net> wrote:

>> Keith wrote: (I hope the attribution is correct -- it's diffult to sort out.)
>>>      In the past, at times where humans had run into the ecological limit,
>>>      it was rational from _the viewpoint of human genes_ for humans to act
>>>      irrationally and from the evidence of history, stupidly. Even from
>>>      the gene's viewpoint, getting humans to act irrationally is not a good
>>>      strategy most of the time.  Acting irrationally or stupidly and
>>>      following irrational leaders is a *conditional* behavior, turned on by
>>>      anticipation of a bleak future.
> When the viewpoint is changed the utility function changes and a formerly
> irrational behavior (irrational because it did not maximize utility) may
> become rational (maximize utility).

It's not just the viewpoint that changes, but the situation itself.
Like ducks that fly north or south depending on the season, humans
have a wired in response to perceived conditions.  If the ecosystem is
flush with game and berries, people swap women with neighbors and get
on with the business of "be fruitful and multiply."  When there is
populating growth beyond the limit of the ecosystem to feed them
and/or a glitch in the weather, the future looks bleak,  xenophobic
memes circulate that demonize the neighbors and work the warriors up
to a do or die attack.

Or at least this was the program back in the stone age.  We still live
with conditional behavioral  mechanisms that were selected over the
2-3 million years our ancestors lived that way.  Why there is a
substantial advantage for genes has to with the quirk in human
behavior to take the young women of a defeated tribe (and their genes)
as booty.

>>>      Unfortunately, a substantial fraction of the people in the word
>>>      anticipate a bleak future.
>>>      Sadly, irrational, even stupid behavior, is what we can expect.
> Irrational from your POV, but perhaps rational from another POV. How do
> you know your POV is True?

My personal point of view is at a meta level, I even appreciate the
POV of human genes.  But think about it.  A high fraction of the US
population sees the future as bleak.  Do we see anything irrational
going on?  Do we see people trying to follow an irrational "leader"?
Has this happened before in similar circumstances?  Where else in the
world are we seeing problems?  What are the conditions there?


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