RE: virus: Thinking clearly about faith

Deron Stewart (
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 18:10:02 -0800

The Prisoner's Dilemma reference was a bit of a teaser...maybe a topic for another thread since it (and related problems in game theory) are so interesting.

What did you think about the rest of the post -- any common ground at all?



btw, I was flattered until I realized you probably meant "ingenuous" :-)

-----Original Message-----

From:	carlw []
Sent:	Tuesday, February 16, 1999 4:32 PM
Subject:	RE: virus: Thinking clearly about faith


The "prisoner's dilema" is an early artefact of rational thought. If rational thought did not exist, the problem could not have been invented. Using reason and logic in an attempt to undermine it is neither rational nor
reasonable. To pretend that reason and rationality must fail because of complexity is to demonstrate a lack of undestanding of the process of applying reason and rationality. Note, that while they are tools, not ends, they are also the only tools we have to achieve a communicable understanding. So your attempt to toss the tools out of the cot, and then continue discussion, seems more than a little ingenious. Note also that we can predict group social behaviour within fairly tight boundaries (even in "irrational environments") and genetic algorithms are improving this ability
on a continual basis. Note also that the "prisoner's dilema" has, for many years, been a perfect demonstration area of the ability to use game theory to develop an optimal solution in an environment where only incomplete information is available. Demonstrating your faith in unreason is far less productive than doing a search in a good search engine and reading up on the
topic prior to posting. May I suggest that a study of history might provide "reasonable" explanations for all of the "complex" environments you raised.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf
> Of Deron Stewart
> Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 5:15 PM
> To: ''
> Subject: RE: virus: Thinking clearly about faith
> Deron Stewart:
> >>The complex feedback and
> >>feedforward of social dynamics...extremely hard to fit into
> the tiny
> boxes
> >>of a "rational" world view
> David McFadzean:
> >I don't understand this statement. The "tiny boxes" of a
> rational world
> view
> >are being expanded and added to adapt to describing complex phenomena
> >because the rational world view is itself a complex adaptive system.
> The rational world view is great -- unequalled even -- in
> dealing with
> things that are simple enough to understand: General
> Relativity, heart
> transplants, human cloning, logic, selfish genes, Mars explorers,
> astrophysics...that kind of stuff. These are some of the
> little boxes I
> referred to.
> But what about the tough stuff? Gang warfare, human
> relationships, finding
> meaning, addiction, the Middle East, dealing with tragedy, ..
> stuff like
> that. Science has little or nothing to say about this, nor does the
> "rational" world view (by itself).
> The "Church of Reason"[1] is just as comforting as any other
> church to its
> adherents, and for basically the same reason: it provides
> intelligible
> answers in a complex universe. Such comfort doesn't come
> without a price
> tag of requires one to close one's eyes to
> whatever doesn't fit
> in the boxes.
> It can be a bit of a straight jacket after a while as the
> justifications
> have to get more and more strident and convoluted to avoid giving
> ground...but then again until it reaches that point for a
> person, maybe
> it's serving them ok.
> We are surprised that more christians don't change their
> creed to accept
> Darwin, but how many "rational" people changed their tune when the
> Prisoner's Dilemma was discovered? (And this is a much
> greater challenge to
> the Church of Reason than Darwin ever was to christianity).
> Cheers,
> Deron
> [1] I think this term is fairly self-evident but read _Zen
> and the Art of
> Motorcycle Maintenance_ for more description.