Re: virus: Show and Tell

Tim Rhodes (
Sat, 6 Mar 1999 10:20:28 -0800


I'll save this post and reply to it after you asnswer my reply to the other one. If you don't care to question your own assumptions I don't see any reason why I would want to continue a discussion with you. If you're laying down rules that you won't even follow for yourself, I have lots of other, more fulfilling games I can be playing with the time I'm spending talking to you.

-Prof. Tim

-----Original Message-----
From: <>
To: <> Date: Friday, March 05, 1999 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: virus: Show and Tell

>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
>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
>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
>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,
>Wwwwweeeeeellllllllll nnnnnooooooowwwwww. I think I will let #2 slide by,
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>some suspension of judgement, there would be no opportunity, for input, for
>variation, which is an equally important component in any evolutionary
>Without some variation, the system stagnates and settles into rigid
>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
>so blind to this timber in your own eye, Jake?<<
>You do attribute an awful lot of thoughtlessness to me. You say I said
>returns on such an effort are not worth the energy, since the conclusions
>forgone."?!? (You couldn't have, could you?)<< But if you look up to what
>actually said, you will see something more. Don't start dropping context
>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
>"Don't just think FOR yourself, think BY yourself too!" I think that
>intelligent people think FOR themselves, but not BY themselves. Lots of
>so-intelligent people cannot make that distinction. There reaches a point
>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
>you to teach me something. I cannot accurately predict to you whether I
>change my position, or whether you will change yours. I can tell you that
>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
>people who have it are necessarily morons, but that it is generally
>that usually limits their mental potential. Just like my failure to
>enough, or my tendency to eat fattening foods is bad for my physical
>even though I haven't yet seen real negative consequences for this
>I am sure that if I don't change my ways at some point I will. So you can
>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.
>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
>rhetorical flames. Mostly, I haven't seen anobody making any clear
>definitions of "faith", before diving into an argument about it. I have
>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
>at any point, don't hesitate to let me know, and we can go back to the
>rhetoric. I will play either way, but I prefer to know which it is.