Tank General

general, Thinkingtanks.com

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Are humans irrational? If so, how can we build stronger institutions to compensate for human shortcomings in rationality?

David Ropeik argues that "The brain is only the organ for which we think we think. It's job is not to win noble prizes. And to pass math tests. It's job is to get us tomorrow. Its a survival mechanism.. and it plays a lot of tricks in order to get us to tomorrow. That worked pretty well when the risks were lions and tigers and bears… Its not as good when we need to rationalize and reason and use the facts more with the complicated risks we face in a modern age: climate change, genetically modified food, and unsustainable living on the planet.. That takes a lot more thinking. More cognitive, slow,more effortful thinking. That we are not instinctively built that way must be recognized if we are going to get beyond the risk of not being built that way."


Dan Ariely provides further evidence that humans have irrational cognitive thought in his TedTalk and offers the following, "If we have these predictable, repeatable mistakes in vision, some thing that we are good at, what's the chance that we don't make more mistakes at something we're not as good at? For example financial decision making. Something we don't have an evolutionary reason to do, we don't have a specialized part of the brain, and we don't do that many parts of the day. The argument is that in those cases we make many more mistakes.."

In another TedTalk Dan Ariely provides the following food for thought, "Are we superman or are we Homer Simpson? When it comes to building the physical world we understand our limitations and we build around it. But for some reason when it comes to the mental world when we design things like healthcare, retirement, and the stock market we somehow forget the idea that we are limited. And i think if we understood our cognitive limitations in the same way that we understand our physical limitations we could design a better world."

Do you agree with them? How do we better structure institutions that can compensate for our shortcoming?

  • Nov 14 2012: Human beings are neither irrational nor rational, but they are both. They use rationality to justify their irrational behavior and action.
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      Nov 19 2012: Wait, what? How do you define the word rational?
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    Nov 24 2012: Is it «rational» to believe that there is a way of being and thinking that is rational and one that is not? It is hard to say. Humans, of course, inventend all of these ideas like belief, rationality, emotionality etc. etc. In fact, it would be more inetersting to debate whether the concept of rationality has any significance for anything but humans. It is a human idea that applies (only) to human thinking ... but does it really exist?
    Words like rationalty and irrationality, faith and doubt, objective and subjective, are all, i suppose, simply different positions along a continuum of words and concepts humans use to describe human thinking.
    I think that we as a rule use a word like "rational" to describe resoning that is close to what we think.
    • Nov 25 2012: Hi Steven
      I like what you said and how you said it. It is very interesting an idea to engage with, as to whether or not the concept of rationality has any significance for anything but humans.
      Someone elses "rationality" can almost make me become irrational if it is a topic close to my heart that I feel very strongly about. Which one is really which?
      Does it really exist? is a great question. I cannot answer that or nearly any other question.

      Recent studies and testing have supposedly shown that close in age to newborn babies are able to make and thus, demonstrate, what the testers called "moral decisions".

      They then surmised that babies do have some innate form or source of "morality", an idea of right and wrong in some sense, but they cannot definitively say or prove it.

      I wonder if their merely having an already learned, perceived and strongly held belief of what they think moral is, could in any way, have actually tainted their perceptions and their tests?

      I think that it may have.
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        Nov 25 2012: Hi Random.
        Glad you appreciate my muddled thoughts. I am always mullig around ideas in my head, though not always entriely rationally.
        It is a difficult philosophical challenge. Is there a "higher" way of thinking? If so whose? Is there a higher plane of existence, and if so, is the concept of mentality even a part of it?
        Yes, humans are rational; yes, humans are irrational; yes humans are smart; yes humans are dumb, yes humans are honest, yes humans are dishonest.
        And - just to make it all even more difficult - it is precisely the same hardware and the same software that produces all of the above.
        The one thing we do know, is that all of the hardware, and much (we don't really know how much) of the software is innate. That means babies are naturally capable of any kind of thinking, although it takes them a while to build up a basis for expressing their mentality.
        I can recommend a little animation made by the Royal Society for the Arts on just this subject. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI .
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    Nov 18 2012: We seem to have a mix of rationality and irrationality.
    The former gives weight to evidence and logic.
    The latter may have its roots in intuitive processes that may or may not be accurate but had/have a role in survival, and other primal drives and responses.

    It may be useful from a genetic perspective to be repulsed by someone deformed or sick, but it is not rational in many other respects given we don't intend to mate with everyone, although part of our brain is still switched on this way all the time.

    Raping someone is not rational. But it reflects a primal sex drive. Just like most animals we have instinct and reason.

    So 2points:
    1) It is very rational to consider the irrational instinctual aspects of human nature.
    2) Intuition has its place, but logic and evidence are the best tools for problem solving, for understanding reality etc.
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      Nov 18 2012: Nice! That's very interesting. Would love to dig into the Egyptian findings. Please share your research and sources if you have available.

      Great question. Why don't we have more support for great ideas? Even some of the great ideas that are in TEDTalks or elsewhere online are usually not being discussed in public policy or the news. Sometimes it seems like we have a growing division between an intellectual society that often monetizes these grand visions of the future (which is perfectly fine with me) and the common people. As amazing and popular as TED has grown to be it still seems like a novelty for a niche crowd of intellectuals and aspirants. Wouldn't it be easier and more socially beneficial to have everyone participate in shaping our world? We certainly can't hope to address irrational behavior by ourselves.
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    Nov 14 2012: "The very reason we need logic at all is because most reasoning is not conscious at all." -- Julian Jaynes
    "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions." -- David Hume

    We use reason to justify conclusions we reach subconsciously. There seems to be no way to improve it.

    In matters of fact (as opposed to pure mathematical problems), we can be presented with tons of evidence, but we would believe any of it only if it makes an emotional impression on us.

    Especially, when it comes to moral decisions, reason is useless. Moral decisions are made purely by emotions. "Cost and benefit" are very subjective concepts. Everyone would flip a railroad switch to save 5 abstract people, but killing one abstract person instead. Situation changes dramatically when the one person is a child, and 5 people are known convicted murderers. And when I consider morality of killing 5 thugs who try kill one person (me), numbers don't matter at all.

    I see the way to improve the situation in studying and understanding our own emotions and emotions of others. When more people understand how our words and actions affect others emotionally, this world will be a much happier place.

    And in the meantime, our school system is focused on math and reading scores, and technology creates new ways to communicate in which we don't see each others face or hear each others voice.
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      Nov 18 2012: "We use reason to justify conclusions we reach subconsciously. There seems to be no way to improve it." - I think this is key! Thanks for pointing it out. But can we change this? As i mentioned earlier to TedLover, emotions seem to be based on some level of presupposed deliberation or contemplation a person has done in the past, but my not consider the appropriate level of deliberation necessary for the current setting. Is the solution simply to stop and think longer before we act as David Ropeik suggests? Even with that there seems there would still be some level of subconscious selective bias towards our emotions.
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        Nov 18 2012: I'm not sure how to tell the difference between a thought and an emotion and what follows what. Emotions and thoughts seem to me like same processes, perhaps, taking place in different brain areas. I also do not think that emotions are based on past contemplations or experiences. Some of them are genetically programmed by evolution - e.g. fear.

        I agree with TED Lover that being aware of our emotions gives us control over them. We should not, however, get rid of emotions. Emotions motivate us. Without emotions we would not have any desire to do anything at all. The full quote from Hume is: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

        Another paradox is that being aware of our irrationality makes us more rational, just like awareness of ignorance gives rise to learning.

        I think, we should train our feelings (subconscious reactions) as well as reasoning abilities. Both are skills that can be learned.
  • Nov 13 2012: It is a fallacy to make a connection between the way out brain interprets sight and the way you manage your finances. Although I agree that people make irrational decisions on a regular basis the fact that you see things differently than they are draws a false metaphor.
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      Nov 14 2012: Seeing things differently than they are when you know how they really are is irrational, right?
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      Nov 14 2012: Hi Ean,

      Are you refering to the entire congnitive process of visual perception? or is it a more general statement regarding connecting something a person sees and the way they manage their finances?

      If the second, have you read about the anchoring effect? how would that NOT affect the way somebody manages their finances?

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      Nov 18 2012: I think Dan Ariel's point in drawing the comparison to congnitive process of visual perception was only that our brains can be easily tricked. But feel free to expand on why you disagree.
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    Gail .

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    Nov 13 2012: The way to change our institutions is to change our educational system to include instructions about what a human is. We are a people who call logic something that is very irrational, but this is a learned thing.
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      Nov 18 2012: Fully agree. Education reform is key! And that needs reform on several levels!

      Humanity does need a paradigm shift as to what's accepted as logical. I 'd hope logic is universally objective and we could get this right.
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    Nov 13 2012: Just a suggestion. You should delete the first five words in your headline. Anyone who would argue that humans are predominantly rational is not being rational.
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      Nov 18 2012: Haha while i agree and wanted to primarily focus on the second part of the argument some here have provided seemingly rational arguments as to why humans may be predominately rational.
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        Nov 19 2012: "seemingly" and "may be" are the key words in your observation. If a logical, intelligent, unbiased outsider examined human behaviour, as a species, the liklihood of their conclusion being that humans are predominantly rational is going to be near, or at, zero. We are the only illogical species on Earth.
        • Nov 19 2012: We are also the only sentient being (to the best of my knowledge) that can ask the question, "Are we logical or illogical, rational or irrational, emotional/intuitive or intuitive/rational?"
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    Nov 24 2012: Our logical capabilities are drowned into an ocean of emotions, biases, beliefs, and behaviors inherited by evolution, so there is not doubt that we are massively irrational. Destroying our environment or other members of our specie is not a great indication of rationality.

    Changing things at the individual level by education seems to me better than relying on institutions, as the latter are maybe more subject to change. The idea is interesting, however... Even if identifying our weaknesses and giving away some of our freedom to decide also requires by itself being more rational than we are, and ensuring the institution by itself is not as flawed as we are, as it is created by us...
  • Nov 24 2012: Irrationality differs from perspective, thus should not be dealt with, since we never would all agree on how to do this. That's my perspective at least.
  • Nov 24 2012: Humans are not irrational by nature.
    They are malleable.
    Thus they are prone to being mislead, deceived and fooled into thinking, believing, speaking, doing and opining,
    seemingly soberly, intellectually and rationally, on insane, irrational and psychotic behavior with the aplomb of calmness.

    Our genes don't dictate how we are to act or respond, or even think. They give us options, choices, and these are appraised by our need and want for survival in whatever environment anyone of us finds ourselves in.

    Our rationalizing that irrational behavior is rational, indicates serious illness to me.
    It is serious when the cause, is not what is discussed for the cure and the focus is on those elements which are the results, but not the cause.

    Ridding our world of the causes will always work. Attacking the symptoms never has and never will. To believe such things is to me, extreme irrational thought and behavior.
    That seems obvious as it has been going on for so long and has only failed.
    Just recently I read a report about the failed "war on drugs.' It has been a failure since it first began but that is because there never was any intention of winning it. The only intention was to get rid of the competition, the Mom & Pop dealers or those who were getting too big for their own good.
    This is greed, corruption and crime. Are those irrational? Is that hard to answer? The results seem to hurt and destroy many while only a few benefit. It matters not whether they are legal drugs or not. The manner in which it all takes place, the greed involved in deceiving people still goes on, the lying to others about the repercussions of certain drugs, the selling of tainted drugs to 3rd world countries in order to save and still get a profit out of them, is all irrational done up as rational "business as usual", business that is good for the country and so on.

    We must get rid of the causes to regain healthy, rational thinking and behavior.

    But, we keep the causes and discuss who to kill.
  • Nov 24 2012: I wanted to start a new thread, but adding to this one will do. Today's Washington Post has an editorial piece written by Tom Malinowski titled: " A dangerous future of killer robots." Our killer drones have had a chilling effect on Al Qaeda. Anwar Al-Awlaki knew he was a wanted man and did what he could to avoid detection. Last fall he ran outdoors to a car, hoping his sprint would make his appearance very brief, but that was enough for an overhead drone and he was taken out. The decision to strike was made by human operators, but Mr. Malinowski's piece makes clear that the Pentagon is looking to a future where our killing machines will make the decision to strike on their own. So what is "rationality?" The Pentagon certainly hopes that our future drones and robots will be rational, can distinguish a target from innocents, and restrain itself to avoid collateral damage. Ethics wouldn't be hard to program into a robot because it would be a set of rules. Forgiveness and magnanimity are irrational because self interest is ceded. Some things can't be synthesized.
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    Nov 17 2012: This is the most important question that the human race faces and it is due to become a survival issue for many of us and our children within the next 50 years or less.

    Yes we are 'irrational' in the sense that we are social animals driven mainly by cultural and social instincts. Our thinking and sentient ability is an add-on to our essential nature.

    We have yet to understand the importance of Nature's relentless path in creating us. We are still very much children trying to survive against Natures awesome power - 4 billions years of success.

    I don't believe humans are limited, we are hampered by Nature's quest for survival and are still just pawns. Natures cares not a jot if most of us disappear, Natures course is simply onward and upward and in the process it is very likely that Nature will create improved humans (just a few) that should enhance Nature's chance of continuing her upward path. If not then again Nature's cares not and with infinite patience she will nurture other species with her relentless probability of survival function.


    Can we create improved structures to help with our irrationality? But this is a circular argument - yes if we were able to plan rationally - but the very socio-political structures we now have (across the world) prevent this happening. It does look like things will get very messy before (and if) we finally are forced to adapt culturally.



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    Nov 16 2012: Not to play semantics or anything but what is your notion of rationality?

    From my understanding (as well as cognitive scientist George Lakoff and Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio) emotion is the basis of rationality. You could not have reason without emotion..

    the reason why this is key is because there seems to be a massive shift in what constitutes as reason: the old enlightenment view of reason states that reason is universal and the same for everyone and has its basis outside of the human brain and is absent of emotion...this view would have thought emotion and passion were irrational behavior..this is no longer the case nowadays and this new scientific approach acknowledges that everyone thinks differently.
  • Nov 16 2012: I have to disagree in some extent with him(Dan Ariely) . He see the human brain as an inflexible tool,that can only enjoy its full potencial at the wilderness,while supposing that the ideal "setup" for the brain to survive today is to work like a self-aware computer,thinking fully rationally . But there's a drawback of doing that,which is the problem that,without a emotional motivation,we may never leave the "planning phase" and actually do the shit we want to .

    "How do we better structure institutions that can compensate for our shortcoming?"

    First,there are already some tools for improving institutions,but their use has been restricted to companies,as companies are lot more flexible and have a far straighter objective than a big institution,like governments . Second,only investing in education itself isn't enough . There shall be investiment and researchs about how can we "germinate" and improve free thought on all individuals .
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      Nov 18 2012: Thanks Julian. Good argument. I see your point. There are several things that we still dont know about the brain and why its setup the way that it is.

      Agree that education may not be enough. Particularly for addressing deeply ingrained selective biases. Can you expand on what you mean by germinating and improving free thought on all individuals?
  • Nov 14 2012: "Are humans irrational?"

    Humans were entirely rational in the world as it existed up to 10.000 years ago (except for religion). Since then the world has changed but the human brain hasn't. Our modern world is full of phenomena a prehistoric human would never have encountered, most of these are basically about statistics and logical fallacies.

    "If so, how can we build stronger institutions to compensate for human shortcomings in rationality?"

    Strengthen education in logic, statistics and math in general.
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      Nov 18 2012: Thanks much John. Fully agree. We seem to have not yet fully evolved to our increasingly complex social environment.

      Education in logic! That would be great. I feel like we dont have any of this really until college. Or selective biases have been well formed by then. Why couldn't we have this earlier in child education? Would love to see kids debating philosophy...
  • Nov 14 2012: I fully agree with Dan Ariely's conclusion, that we should test our intuitions. Much of the rest is trivial or irrelevant. Experiments where college students decide on "cheating" when no significant harm is done to anyone is not relevant to the morality of cheating where very significant harm is involved. Experiments with people over the age of 60 might get very different results; they might consider the whole scenario laughable.

    More importantly, I find fault with the whole notion of considering "rational" as always good and "less than rational" as bad. Most human motivations are non-rational. Most of our motivations have evolved as secondary, indirect means to support the primary functions of survival and reproduction. Common behaviors such as children playing are still largely a mystery. The fact that much of our behavior is not rational is not necessarily bad. I suspect that we evolved this way because it was necessary.

    The important lesson is that we must be aware of our irrational tendencies, and take action WHEN APPROPRIATE.

    This has some obvious applications to some of our institutions. If the stories from our prisons contain any truth, we routinely condone crimes committed against criminals, including rape. The medical establishment continues with practices that scientific studies, as well as common sense, indicate are dangerous. Police departments still have difficulty excluding the power hungry. We vote for people who help us feel good.
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      Nov 18 2012: As always Barry thanks much for the great thoughts. I'd agree there could be fallacy in notion the that "rational" is always good and "less than rational" is bad. It wouldn't surprise me at all if some seemingly irrational behavior was still essential to our survival an beneficial for our progression. For the sake of argument let's say we are only focused on irrational behavior that's clearly detrimental to society.

      I think you bring up a second great point. You delineate a higher dimension of what seems like social or institutional irrational behavior that's in many ways much more concerning than our personal irrational actions. These seem to be accepted yet illogical constructions in society. Why do we not take action to correct irrational behavior in institutions? Are we too lazy to handle the complexity of these problems? Does the cost/benefit of addressing the issues not make sense? Or do we just not have the answers? Obviously answers to these would be case by case but wondering if there is an underlying consistent theme here.
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    Gail .

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    Nov 13 2012: I thoroughly enjoyed the videos and thank you for pointing them out. Dan Ariely's TED talks are worth everyone's time. So funny and informative!

    I disagree with the YouTube video. David Ropeik states that thoughts follow emotions, but after a thorough informal study of the matter, I am convinced that emotions follow thought. The thought prompts an emotion. Too many people confuse emotion with thought. They literally believe that they are thinking when they are emoting. This is what causes people to be irrational.

    Some years ago, I was engaged in a political discussion with a very logical friend about one tiny part of the political platform. Over and over he walked me through various scenerios, forcing me to articulate the reason for my position in a rational way. Each time I used emotion as a thought, he asked another question. This went on for nearly four hours.

    Suddenly, he asked a question and the only possible way to walk to the answer was along a completely rational line of thought. It was an AMAZING experience! I felt as if my world had just expanded to the power of near-infinity. I could conceive of so much that had been inconceivable before. I was forever changed. I had experienced my first pure, rational thought of my entire adult life! It felt so clean - which is the only way I can explain it.

    I then began to pay attention to my emotions and the emotions of others. I first allowed myself to feel anger for the purpose of understanding why I can emote it. I allowed myself to experience anger as fully as I could, and just when I thought I couldn't summon up any more, I found another piece of anger, and WHOOSH! It was gone. Then I was angry because I wasn't angry any more, so I did the exercise again and again, the WHOOSH.

    the 2nd time, I was laughing hysterically. Memories came flashing through my mind, and in each case, I saw that I had been judging myself unfairly. I saw my innocence.

    Emotions are a compass. They point out error
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      Nov 13 2012: What an interesting account of your experience.
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      Nov 18 2012: Very interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience and unique standpoint...

      I see where you're coming from. Emotions follow thought because emotions have to be based on some level of presupposed deliberation or contemplation a person has done in the past. That makes sense and seems logical. But could one make the argument that emotions do not follow "conscious" thought? Or said differently, our emotions may not consider the deliberation that's needed during that time and purpose of the emption but rather considers the mental deliberation that we've done in the past. The danger here is that the past deliberation that we are basing our emotions off of may not be appropriate for the current setting around that emotion. Let me know if I'm off base here but it seems to capture the underlying realization in your experience.
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    Nov 12 2012: I agree with Jedrek that the fact that human decisions are not made entirely rationally is well understood and that many institutions within society, as well as habits we are taught, take that into account. The common warning to think before acting impulsively is an everyday example. Further there has been research over many years into the kinds of decisions about which people reason particular poorly, like the risk of very low probability events with high cost if they do occur. Research demonstrates that people tend to over-weight such risks.

    Others of our TED speakers, such as Daniel Kahneman, talk about our tendency to sift through information with a confirmation bias, which is to say that even with excellent information with which to form rational judgments, we will tend to prescreen information in terms of our biases and ignore data which does not confirm our biases and conform to our misconceptions.
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      Nov 18 2012: Thanks for pointing out the TED speaker. Very interesting. I didn't consider the confirmation bias aspect. Really brings into question whether education is the best practical method to encouraging rational behavior. I'd guess that there's at least a level of irrational behavior that's permanently stuck with us until we can evolve out of it..
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        Nov 18 2012: I think education is a practical way of modeling rational thought and giving students experience in critical thinking. I think critical thinking is more common in educational settings than outside of them. In outside settings, many people are too confident in their views to recognize that their ways of thinking are not reasoned.
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    Nov 12 2012: Dan Arley says "if we understood our cognitive limitations in the same way that we understand our physical limitations we could design a better world"

    True as it is indeed, I want to point out that we already do understand it. We understand the limitations of the brain ever since Kant.

    Now the only relevant question that remains is the one Tank General asks, namely: How do we better structure institutions that can compensate for our shortcoming?

    First, we have to understand the difference between the intellectual and emotional order. The first one is a universal system that works over a certain territory with equal intensity, the second one is the compatibility of the most proximate. The examples can be socialism and climate respectively.

    Now, consciously designed institutions have to take into account what is universal in the human being (substance) and what is not (attribute).

    People are obviously not the same everywhere, yet it should be possible to extract certain things all humans no matter where they live, have in common. (Plants for example are extremely varied but they all need CO2 for example).

    Now, only what is universal can be institutionalized in the manner of an intellectual order. Everything else should be subject to local regulation. The attempt to universally institutionalize what is local and in the state of flux is bound to failure.

    So much of the theory. The question of what is essential in the human being is a difficult one, and as we know, there are as many answers as people.
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      Nov 18 2012: Thanks much for your comment. I'm a big fan of emphasizing focus on the intellect. Apologies if i missed the crux of your argument but is the intellectual order symbolic of a type of socialist state? if so, just to play devil's advocate, who determines who is in the "intellectual order" and running the socialist state? I think the history of socialsim has shown that its more dangerous for the general populace to be fully subjected to the potentially misguided or irrational "intellect" of a few. That's w/o even getting into the economic argument about why price controls almost always cause distortions that are detrimental to overal social welfare. I also realize that true socialism has never been implemented properly which brings the question as to whether its an impractical ideology. Interested in hearing your thoughts. Hopefully i captured where you were ultimately going with this.
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        Nov 18 2012: [At first I thought it is great that you are asking me where I was going with this because it would give me the chance to sort it out in my own head.]

        [After wrestling with the answer for some time though, I came to the conclusion that these things are too complicated and that we are simply the victims of the language, where every word has so many meanings right now that it makes the truth simply impossible to uncover.]

        [Here is where I got stuck and frustrated:]

        Generally, I think that humans are ultimately incapable of being put into any sort of an intellectually designed system, be it socialism, communism, or even capitalism (in its current form).
        [ok, so far so good]

        The human nature is simply too complex and varied to be put into any type of frames without causing a significant damage to it.

        [but now check this:]
        What then is the best 'system'? A one that gives people freedom.
        [the meaning of freedom, however, has been dug really deep and I have neither capabilities nor will to uncover it]

        So, then, Tank General, I have to stop my answer here, unable to go on :) maybe one day...
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          Nov 18 2012: Haha great response! It' s huge question and it could be very well that there is no absolute single answer as you pointed out. A system that supports freedom is great start but then we get back to the inefficiencies that could arise if the agents in the system are acting irrationally. It's a loopy problem!
  • Nov 12 2012: Of course, this is scary. Sales pros have long knowm that we make decisions with our emotions. Now I'll explaim why and it will sound rational. Just knowing this is a start.
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      Nov 18 2012: haha isn't advertising just rationally explaining and exploiting irrational consumer behavior? jk.
  • Nov 26 2012: I believe that humans are not rational or irational persay, as the actions the brain carries out are based largerly on survival. Whether that choice is rational or not, it is to benefit the individual or their surrondings. One might say that sacrificing oneself for others is in no way rational, though if it ,means someone who may save others or do greater good does survive, it may be seen as rational. The human brain is not built to be rational or irational, it is built to keep us alive and to protect those around us. As a species, humans try to discover everything and catergorize into little apartments so we can grasp the immense concepts around us. that is not how it works with all things. Some things cant be seen completely without being connected to the right things or arranged certain ways. The rationality level of the brain is like that. It cant be compartamentalized like that, it does what it needs to do to survive, whether that be rational or not.
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    Nov 26 2012: Q1 Are humans irrational?
    Yes, we can be.
    Q2 If so, how can we build stronger institutions to compensate for human shortcomings in rationality?
    I believe that human shortcomings mostly come from being below a certain point on Maslow's Pyramid.
    If everyone had many if not most of their needs met then the level of irrationality of individuals and society as a whole would greatly decrease. I also believe that education on EQ would help in this area. I am sure that we can find ways to productively get the results we want. The issue is proper leadership,funding and asking the right questions.