Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Looking past preconceptions

"The single most important kind of intelligence is the ability to see past your own strongly-held preconceptions and your tribe's conventional wisdom and engage reality as it actually is and facts as they actually are." --esr

If this is true, I would say the second-most important kind of intelligence is the same as the first-most, with this difference: "...the ability to see past your ... preconceptions .. and consider reality differently to how you consider it now." We all know that rape is bad, right? What if rape was good? Are you intelligent enough to have a conversation about this, without becoming emotional or using emotion-packed arguments? I am. And at the end of whatever speculation, deduction, or arm-chair philosophizing I participate in, I still think that rape is bad. But I'm willing to seriously consider the alternative. In fact I have, more that once. Is it a form of mental masturbation? Just as much as devil's advocacy is. But it's a nice and easy way to characterize uncivilized peoples (such as those Muslims protesting free speech) as not only wrong, but stupid. They're also ugly too. They can't mentally consider that what they believe is false, and they'll pay the price.

In fact I have considered this before, and this "type of intelligence" is really just part of the aspect of smartness otherwise known as intellectualism, something that is very much lacking in modern middle eastern and east asian cultures. ESR is wrong in characterizing a type of intellectualism as the most important aspect of smartness (and my generalization of "supposing" contradictory realities being second-most important is wrong, too). Intellectualism, while in my opinion very important for human progress, is nevertheless inferior to raw amounts of synthesis, analysis, and memory that combined get a ton of shit done. Intellectualism can easily be at odds with productivity (it certainly is with me, and I have met others who struggle with getting shit done because they want to learn something new but not necessarily in a deep way), and if productivity doesn't factor into your equation for the importance of some aspect of smartness, I have no idea what you're trying to do.

The one thing I like about Edison is his famous perspiration/inspiration quote, but I also dislike reality for appearing to be that way ("no silver bullet solutions") because I grew up disliking and avoiding effort, relying on raw ability--which has its limits. My frustration is compounded by my lust for automation through programming computers, because the initial act of programming an automation no one has automated (publicly) before takes a frustrating amount of effort. (An hour is frustrating, really? Ya rly.) And the more I understand the dizzying complexity that is computing, the more frustrated I get with the fact that it's so complex. Someone who goes by viro said: "All software sucks, be it open-source [or] proprietary. The only question is what can be done with particular instance of suckage, and that's where having the source matters." I'm just becoming increasingly frustrated with how sucky the suckage is. And this little side-rant is totally off-topic.

Posted on 2012-10-16 by Jach

Tags: cognition, personal, rant, thought


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