Re: virus: Show and Tell
Fri, 5 Mar 1999 13:55:37 EST

In a message dated 3/5/99 3:22:27 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< Jake wrote:

 >Perhaps you aren't looking at it in the same way.  My experience
 >is that when things don't make sense, people generally want to
 >know why.

I would agree with that. This is why thinking you understand a topic effectively stops your ablity to gain any insights about it.

[Question #1: Do you think you understand what faith is, Jake?]>>

:::Looking at your baited hook.:::

Looks like you have weighted the answer here. But regardless, I will say yes, I do think that I understand what faith is. I fail to see how having a position on a matter effectively stops my ability to gain any insights. I have had many positions on many things throughout my life, and I have had many of those change. This still does not prevent me from taking positions on things and preferring ones that make sense.

>>>Is there something wrong with me talking off the cuff about my general

Not at all. But you recognize the fact that "talking off the cuff" with one side of your mouth while demanding the "rational scrutinizing of assumptions" with the other is, well... (I'll be charitable, I guess) ...*strikingly ironic*, to say the least.

[Question #2: Does "practice what you preach" only apply to the clergy, Jake?]<<

Wwwwweeeeeellllllllll nnnnnooooooowwwwww. I think I will let #2 slide by, and address the "irony" that you cite above. I have no problems trusting my intuitions. I certainly don't take them as articles of faith, I also don't give them mystical immunity from rational criticism. But I also don't try to hide, suppress, or discount them just because I haven't done a dissertation and scientific research on the subject.

The more I think rationally on a conscious level, the more I feel I can trust my brain to subconsciously produce reasonable intuitions. I view it as a training process. However, because the bandwidth of my consciousness is considerably less than the rest of my mental activity, I can intutively arrive at conclusions much more quickly than I would be able to if I discounted my intuitions in favor of only conscious thought. They remain, just like any other assumption, subject to rational criticism.

I certainly don't expect people to accept my intuitions as some mystical gospel, but that doesn't prevent me from sharing them anyway.

>>>If a there is a compelling argument, or conflict that I haven't already
>considered, sure I would want to consider it.

I suspect you will be able to identify and effectively pidgeon-hole any argument I could possibly make to you. You're very intelligent. A bright person can easily distinguish-and-discard every idea that could potentally threaten their statis quo without ever acknowledging to it themselves. (This is one of the disadvantages of being smart, as you well know, we can decieve ourselves in the most creative ways possible.) And it all looks completely rational from inside. Why wouldn't it?<<

Look, at some point in the mental process, we all distinguish and discard. That's the selection component of any evolutionary system. If this isn't done at some point, the system begins to spin out of control, lacking stability. We don't necessarily do this at the drop of the hat, however. If there wasn't some suspension of judgement, there would be no opportunity, for input, for variation, which is an equally important component in any evolutionary system. Without some variation, the system stagnates and settles into rigid orthodoxy. I don't really view somebody as truly intelligent if there aren't both components in their thinking processes. If you think I am rigidly orthodox, I wouldn't call me "intelligent" if I was you.

>>>But anyhow, as I said above, if I were to rationally criticize this
>assumption on my own, it would be just going through motions
>that I already have before. On my own, the returns on such an
>effort are not worth the energy, since the conclusions are forgone.

I'm sorry, Jake, I didn't catch the last part of that. Did you really say: "the returns on such an effort are not worth the energy, since the conclusions are forgone."?!? (You couldn't have, could you?)

In other words: "It's not worth my time to question my assumptions, because I have concluded beforehand that they must be correct."

Is this some sort of irony on your part, Jake? Can't you see how similar that statement is to "I am exempting in principle some this representation from rational criticism becuase the costs of criticising it are too great for me." Or are you actually and truly unaware of this similarity? How could you not see it? If that's the case, why do you think it is that you're so blind to this timber in your own eye, Jake?<<

You do attribute an awful lot of thoughtlessness to me. You say I said >>"the returns on such an effort are not worth the energy, since the conclusions are forgone."?!? (You couldn't have, could you?)<< But if you look up to what I actually said, you will see something more. Don't start dropping context on me.

There is a favorite slogan that I often attribute to people who are either very orthodox or very paranoid (often after making a few X-Files allusions), "Don't just think FOR yourself, think BY yourself too!" I think that intelligent people think FOR themselves, but not BY themselves. Lots of not- igent people cannot make that distinction. There reaches a point in an individual's thinking processes where results on any subject become diminishing without more input.

>>>So if you want to make this genuine, I would need
>input from somebody else.

I'm here for ya', pal. But I learned a long time ago (although it seems I need constant reminding), that it is impossible to teach someone who has no interst in learning.<<

I would hope that the process has more value to you than just some desire for you to teach me something. I cannot accurately predict to you whether I will change my position, or whether you will change yours. I can tell you that I used to have a more benevolent view of faith in others, and it has changed more toward neutrality and viewing faith itself as mind-impairing. Not that people who have it are necessarily morons, but that it is generally something that usually limits their mental potential. Just like my failure to exercise enough, or my tendency to eat fattening foods is bad for my physical health, even though I haven't yet seen real negative consequences for this behavior. I am sure that if I don't change my ways at some point I will. So you can at least see my starting position on the subject.

Even if neither of us changes our minds on this subject, I would think that the process is still beneficial, and of value to each of us.

>>So far I haven't seen any willingness on your part to question your own
assumptions about faith. Right now I'm stuck. Based on the conflict between what you say and what you're willing to do, I'm forced to classify you in the same group as, say, money-grubbing $5000 a plate politicians who half-heartedly call for campaign finance reform while excepting PAC money after the speech, or those ministers that preach the evils of morality from the pulpit while diddling the alter-boys between services. Up to this point, your walk just hasn't matched your talk. But, prove me wrong. Please.<<

I haven't seen any serious engagement. I have seen Reed saying basically "Come on, man, get out and live a little and quit being such a meanie to religious people." and others acting like I am a dogmatic hypocrite without actually engaging the issues. Where I see rhetorical flames, I respond with rhetorical flames. Mostly, I haven't seen anobody making any clear definitions of "faith", before diving into an argument about it. I have put my definition out there clearly. Sometimes Reed uses it that way and acts like he agrees with the definition, and sometimes he uses it in completely different ways.

>>It's time for you to lead by example, Jake. Walk us through it step by
step, asking the class for questions between each and every point in the process. Show us how it's done. I'm not going to buy the product if you can't even get it to work for you in this, a controlled setting, let alone in the chaos of everyday life. If you want to close the deal, it's time to stop pitching and plug the sucker in and see if it works on my carpet with real dirt.

If not, get off my doorstep and stop wasting my time.<<

Oh, well you beat me to it. Now I can only say, "Back at you, man!" But really don't feel obligated or anything. If you think this is going nowhere at any point, don't hesitate to let me know, and we can go back to the flaming rhetoric. I will play either way, but I prefer to know which it is.