Thursday, May 02, 2013

here's the thing about Richard Dawkins

Believing you know your own motivations, preferences, your likes and dislikes, is known as the introspection illusion. This illusion makes you believe you know your 'self'.

Why you are the way you are and based on that how you will act in the future.

But it's an illusion nonetheless.

There's a ton of scientific data and research that proves that introspection is not the act of accessing your reasoning 'self' but in fact much closer to telling oneself a plausible story.

In a sense retrospection is introspection - one looks back at what one did, said, or felt, and you simply make up some sort of believable narrative that 'explains' why.

Most of the time we have no idea why we do wat we do or feel what we feel. It just happens.

The closest thing to 'self' is perhaps the System 2 of Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow.

System 2 - the part of the mind that does the slow, often critical, thinking - is sometimes described as the 'spokesperson' for System 1 - the part that does the fast automatic thinking.

The 'self' has very little control in what System 1 suggests. Other than to just keep a check on things and ensure that we don't go around blurting out everything System 1 proposes.

So in many ways System 1 - the bit that 'we' do not control, the bit that controls us - pretty much runs things.

That's at the nub of my problem with Dawkins, nothing to do with religion.

I would have hated to be one of his kids.

Goldilocks and the 3 bears would have been far too irrational as a bedtime story.

I'm guessing they got Pythagorus's Theorum or something.

Plus, and this will be the bit of non-reason that would annoy him most, I just don't like the look of the guy.

The thing is, this IS EXACTLY HOW WE DECIDE LOTS OF STUFF. NOT BY BEING REASONABLE.

A System 1 driven affect heuristic reminds me of a particularly annoying posh history teacher I one had.

That same smug, know-it-all, ruling class, public school sense of entitlement that Dawkins has got going on.

That sense of entitlement that compels him to be constantly telling other people what they should and shouldn't do.

The final thing, is the slavish reposting and retweeting of his every utterance by the vast legions of supporters for whom the great irony, or delusion - their own introspection illusion - is that they are thinking for themselves.

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