Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Sun Aug 25 2002 - 01:35:05 MDT

On Saturday, August 24, 2002, at 08:44 PM, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> latter is the presence or absence of your attention and ability to
> "drive". Perhaps it might also be fair to say that the conscious mind
> is the one we think of most often as "self" and "under my control".
> But it is built from and is utterly dependent on the parts of the mind
> that are not "under my control" or in my awareness. So to disown these
> parts is suicidal. Of course they are not to be worshipped or given
> carte blanche authority. But neither are they rationally to be
> disowned.

Just because some part of your brain is not readily aware to you does
not mean that it is necessarily irrational. When I'm talking about
irrational parts of the brain, I'm referring to the deep parts of your
brain that are responsible for such things as pushing you towards better
reproductive action through the generation of emotions.

>> weaker than others, but connections none the less. You first explore
>> strong connections for new ideas, and if they fail, you try weaker
>> connections. Eventually, you hope to reach some new connection that
>> no one realized before.
> And where does one understanding of or finding or appreciating the
> connections come from? Where do flashes of association between things
> you have never conciously connected at all come from? <blank out> Do
> you consciously leap across an unknown connection to an unknown
> destination?

This is just the way the brain works. Sometimes it makes very weak
connections that look random (I doubt the randomness of the brain).

>>>> I used to daydream a lot. Since pursuing rationality, this has
>>>> stopped. Time spent thinking irrationally is not time worth
>>>> thinking.
>>> Irrational thinking can generate ideas that are later useful in
>>> rational
>>> thinking. This is a subjective impression held by many many people
>>> and
>>> quite thoroughly researched.
>> Sure. And if I play roulette long enough, I'll probably win (of
>> course, there is no statistical guarantee that this will eventually
>> happen). Through directed thinking you can increase your ability to
>> find usable ideas. I'm not saying that random thought doesn't work,
>> but that it's inefficient and there are better ways.
> Not the same thing at all. I am very surprised by a self-proclaimed
> rational thinker apparently not dealing with the point at hand except
> to throw up defenses, bald assertions and very weak obfuscating
> analogies. You write much better at other times so I am confused by
> this difference.

See Eliezer's recent e-mails. He explains much better than I have been
why this insistence on random thought is getting the reaction from me
that it is. It is like you are saying that Bayesian reasoning is
useless and just picking anything at random. If you did that, you'd
think slower than I do! ;-)

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

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