Re: virus: Rationality

Dave Pape (
Wed, 26 Feb 1997 23:16:34 GMT

At 00:19 25/02/97 -0700, David MacFadz wrote:

>> Those animals, /those animals' nervous systems/, aren't rational. Their
>> behaviour LOOKS rational, looks reasoned, looks as though it could have been
>> logically decided on. But I don't think it is.
>Exactly. That's why I distinguished that type with a different label:
>pre-rational, i.e. rational (behaviour) without awareness of rationality.
>As an aside, I don't think the question of whether a given behaviour
>is rational or not is merely in the eye of the beholder, but rather
>is an objective fact, at least to the extent that a background set
>of assumptions can be agreed upon.

Agreed upon... by observers, surely?

>I can't think of any examples
>irrational behaviour from the animal kingdom offhand, which comes as
>a bit of surprise.

Because they have an evolutionary basis, and thus "irrational" behaviours
(by your definition, basically "disadvantageous" behaviours) are constantly
weeded out (tendency-wise) because animals with genes for "rational"
behaviour will do better.

>Even seemingly stupid suicidal behaviours like
>standing on hind legs and squeaking when a predator is spotted turn
>out to have rational explanations from the selfish gene's perspective.

Is reet, man.

>So I'll take an example from human behaviour: assuming that one doesn't
>set out to become disliked, I would contend that it is an objectively
>irrational behaviour to insult, demean, taunt, and otherwise derogate
>one's (formerly friendly) peers in a public forum.

I wouldn't. I reckon that's a big over-simplification. Could be that people
that do this are gambling that they'll be able to use their behaviour to
change their peers' minds to a state where everyone can agree, on the
aggressor's terms. Mind you, if the peers all get angry together, that's
unlikely to pay off. One of the more likely outcomes might be that peers may
stop attending to the aggressor's communications, some perhaps going so far
as to stop reading them altogether, discovering that other communications on
offer are much more interesting and fun.

Dave Pape
Limit the Fun. Prescribe the Fun. DESTROY THE FUN!
-(Southport & Formby Round Table Association slogan, 1994-1995)

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