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Reason Seen More As a Weapon Than a Path To Truth 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-the-internet dept.
mdsolar writes with this excerpt from the NY Times: "For centuries thinkers have assumed that the uniquely human capacity for reasoning has existed to let people reach beyond mere perception and reflex in the search for truth. Rationality allowed a solitary thinker to blaze a path to philosophical, moral and scientific enlightenment. Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments. Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we'll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena."
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Reason Seen More As a Weapon Than a Path To Truth

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  • So now that we have the internet and the evolutionary push for reasoning and rationality is gone - what do you think will happen?
  • I dare you to tell Hiro that Reason [wikipedia.org] is not a weapon... :)

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:29AM (#36448594)
    Certainly one of the evolutionary benefits of reasoning could be to win debates. On the other hand problem solving certainly plays part. I can picture a cave-man saying "remember when we hunted those mammoths near the cliffs and one fell down. It was an easy kill, and nobody got hurt. Lets drive the mammoths towards the cliff again"! As the article says, the "winning debate" comes to the fore more in larger groups - and people started off in small hunter-gatherer tribes. Also there are two types of debate - the academic debate where people knowledgable in the field evaluate arguments and the sort of debate that two politicians have on TV. In the first case reason is very important. In the second case dissembling - not answering questions - and implying things that they know are wrong are more important. A slick presentation of a lie would easily convince most of the viewing population over a rigorous, boring argument for the truth.
    • This is kind a classic distinction, rhetoric is the art of persuasion by charm and other means while reason is supposed to have truth standards. But it becomes a little circular when one needs reason to figure out how many repetitions of a phrase in a speech will win over the crowd.
      • by Nikkos (544004)
        Rhetoric is the faculty of observing in any given situation all available means of persuasion. (Aristotle)

        This theory (and you) seem to be suffering from a failure to understand what rhetoric is vs what reason is. Reason is the application of knowledge/experience to current or future actions or thoughts - it's cause->effect relationship awareness. You don't reach into the oven and grab a pot because you know it's hot - that's reasoning. Higher-level reasoning would be the use of a pot-holder or other
        • by Xaedalus (1192463)
          And you would be smarter than those decorated, experienced, educated doctors who support this theory HOW????
          • by Nikkos (544004)
            What you are referring to is "ethos" or character. It also refers to "experts" and how we are more accepting of the opinions of those who are considered "experts" in their field. For some reason you may think that I have a less valid opinion because you do not know what type or number of degrees I hold. You could be right - my opinion may not have any validity - but using ethos and a socially-constructed definition of the education level required for an "expert" is a questionable basis for decision-making,
            • by 2names (531755)
              Narrator: "It was at this point the crowd of bumbling idiots decided Nikkos' argument sounded pompous and faggy and began taunting him with barely intelligible grunts and attacks on his heterosexuality. The crowd then beat Nikkos to death with several comically large, rubber dildos."
        • Because at no point would you try to communicate what you've reasoned. Good point.
          • by Nikkos (544004)
            But that's after the fact isn't it? Do you tell people everything you've thought of? It takes another decision (and consequently more reasoning) to communicate something. Reasoning does not require communication.
        • by mdsolar (1045926)
          Where is your courage man? Grab that pot! Was the hope drunk, Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since, And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely? From this time Such I account thy honor.
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:09AM (#36449114)
      Also there are two types of debate - the academic debate where people knowledgable in the field evaluate arguments and the sort of debate that two politicians have on TV.

      Philosophy and rhetoric, as the Greeks would have argued. There's rational discourse appealing to facts and sound logic, and irrational discourse appealing to emotions and logic, sound and otherwise. An amazing example of this is the recent John Stewart appearance on the O'Reilly Factor (really, it happened and the universe did not explode). O'Reilly blusters, argues, pontificates loudly, professes outrage, sets up straw men; Stewart calmly cites precedents and takes apart O'Reily's arguments piece by piece. It's hard to really say who won, they're playing such different games. Rhetorically O'Reilly is sort of like a Canadian brutally clubbing a helpless baby harp seal, but logically Stewart is like King Arthur, taking apart the Black Knight piece by piece.

      As for these social scientists, I don't know if I buy their explanation for why rationality evolved but I would agree with these guys about one thing: humans aren't evolved to assess problems rationally. The stuff they teach us in school about the Scientific Method, how we gather evidence, formulate hypotheses and then test them... it's bullshit. The process works; it's amazingly powerful. But in practice that's the opposite of how humans typically arrive at the answer. Humans start with an answer they've arrived at through some quasi-rational means and then collect facts and generate rational arguments to support the answer they've already decided on. Even scientists, most of them, don't really think according to the scientific method, most of the time. I mean, these social scientists, did they actually conduct any science; did they actually test an hypothesis? From the Times article doesn't sound like these "scientists" made any testable predictions or gathered any data, they just started with a thesis ("human rationality evolved to win arguments") and then marshalled evidence and arguments in favor of it. They're debating, not discovering. If that's not an argument against rationality, I don't know what is.

    • by NonSequor (230139)

      I find that explicit reasoning (premises, arguments, conclusions, etc.) constitutes very little of my actual thought process. Much more of it is behavioral conditioned response (mammoths fall of cliff->man that was good eaten') and pattern recognition based inference, both of which are tied into our emotional thinking.

      I find that I tend to react to things at a gut level and that reason is what I use to support (or rationalize) these gut decisions and communicate them to others.

      • A good book to read is "Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction" by Susan Blackmore. She describes the "gut" feeling as your unconscious mind working out logical problems as rationally as possible and then introducing this information into your consciousness for further processing. For example, you mention the "gut" feeling, which is your unconscious mind working out as quickly as possible what it expects possible outcomes to be from a scenario. Often it takes some serious thinking to understand how you ca
    • by Deadplant (212273)

      Indeed.
      What is this nonsense about "seeking truth" or winning arguments?

      Reason is tool that allows a person to make decisions that lead to effective action.
      Effective action leads to surviving and thriving.
      Or to put it another way: Reason evolved to get shit done.
      Reason does not need to be articulated and frankly rarely is articulated well.

      "Rationality allowed a solitary thinker to blaze a path to philosophical, moral and scientific enlightenment"

      dwahahaha
      wow. just. wow.

  • by Camelot (17116) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:29AM (#36448596)

    Rationality ... is nothing more or less than a servant

    No, it isn't.

  • I expected a link to The Onion. Truth is stranger than fic^H^H^H satire.

    You know, I wonder if this is also driving internet trolling, since trolls can vacate a logical "win" at will. Trolls can additionally create false arenas in which people can rack up meaningless "wins".

    Perhaps trolling is just the system balancing itself. There is an overabundance of people who cannot resist the urge to correct another person, which creates a natural predator-prey relationship for trolls.
    • Really? Why is this so strange? This reasoning is an idea I've been playing with for a while that man's large brain evolved not to use tools, but to attract the opposite sex. Larger brains meant you could please the opposite sex better in bed and flirting as part of courtship and seduction were all things that were encouraged by a group of beach/river apes that liked to live in caves where tight communities would have been inevitable. Prowess at sex would surely be a great evolutionary driver once you have

      • This is a backwards way of looking at the evolution of the brain. Consider it this way: Our ability to learn to use tools and reason allowed us to better provide for ourselves and our mates, which in turn caused the offspring of those types to have a higher survival rate. This meant that after some generations, the evolutionarily more viable males were more sexually attractive to females. (read: the females who were attracted to morons didn't make it). Evolution is a retrospective description, not a predict
  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:35AM (#36448684)

    Researchers are blinded by their above average intelligence into thinking that other people respond to "reason".

    Arguments are won by the person(s) with the loudest voices, and failing that - the biggest sticks. This is called "politics", but it also travels under other guises like "religion", "nationalism", "sports fanaticism", etc. If you want evidence you merely have to look at human history, or even current events in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. A lot of "reasoning" is going on there.

    If you want a good insight into how the human brain works and responds to arguments, I suggest reading the first few chapters of Mein Kampf. No, not all the stupid babble about the superior German race and the Jew Hate, but the first few chapters take a powerful, honest and insightful exploration as to what we humans really are and how we "reason".

    • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:49AM (#36448864)

      Researchers are blinded by their above average intelligence into thinking that other people respond to "reason".

      Methinks thou hast missed the point.

      The article is going against the idea that "human reason" is an imperfect realisation of pure logic, but that human reason is flawed by nature. When people are conned into buying things they don't need, it's not lack of reason, it's use of reason.

      I once heard Richard Dawkins decrying alternative medicine. Most alternative medicine is out-and-out quackery, and I would be happy to see an end to it. But Dawkins claimed that people were turning to it do to a lack of critical reasoning (and he incidentally blamed this on organised religion). However, most supporters of alternative therapies do indeed follow a path of reasoning. This path of reasoning includes some valid data (including failure rates of surgical and pharmacological medicine), some invalid data (unreviewed, unproven figures for the success rates of alternative therapies) and a big dose of conspiracy theory ("big pharma is trying to ban the use of splogweed in the treatment of ungweldbiterbal cancer because they can't profit from it" etc), and they reach a conclusion that follows from the premises.

      People do respond to reason, but as the article points out, not in an entirely expected way....

      • by Hatta (162192)

        However, most supporters of alternative therapies do indeed follow a path of reasoning

        Is that so?

        a big dose of conspiracy theory,

        Oh, no it's not. Making things up is not Reason. Richard Dawkins is right to claim there is a lack of critical thinking there.

      • Good point......in those cases the problem is not faulty reason, it's faulty premises.....if you accept as true that A) surgery and pharmacological medicine have high failure rates, and B)that alternative therapies have high success rates, and C) that the medical establishment is out to get you..........why would you not logically choose alternative B? It's an information failure, not a logic failure.
    • Researchers are blinded by their above average intelligence into thinking that other people respond to "reason".

      If you fully believed that, you wouldn't have gone through the effort of making a rational argument for in your posting.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Oh I gave up on the internet for intellectual stimulation a long time ago. Now I just do it for myself - I guess it could be considered a kind of journalling so that I can keep a grip on my own sanity. There are many other smart people out there, but they are usually drowned out by the rest of the bell curve. I figure I've made my contribution to science and humanity in my published work, the rest is trolling for my own personal fun.
    • Researchers are blinded by their above average intelligence into thinking they respond to reason.

      Researchers and academics are just as much victims of our need to win arguments and ideology instead of using reason to seek truth as anyone else.

      Of course you need to trump up one profession as being the true truth seekers who have reason while most people are dimwitted fools is the ultimate non-truth seeking argument.

    • by inviolet (797804)

      Arguments are won by the person(s) with the loudest voices, and failing that - the biggest sticks. This is called "politics" [...]

      According to an article we saw here recently, arguments are often won by the person(s) with the lowest voice. Anything that James Earl Jones says I need, I'll buy. :)

      [Politics] also travels under other guises like "religion", "nationalism", "sports fanaticism", etc. If you want evidence you merely have to look at human history, or even current events in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. A lot of "reasoning" is going on there.

      Actually we are seeing plenty of reasoning there. All humans want exactly four things: Pride, Power (money/land), Play (amusement/novelty), and Partner (sex/reproduction). All involved parties are seeking these things during the Libyan upheaval, and most are being rational about their quest for those things. Don't confuse reason with "the d

  • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:36AM (#36448700)

    "Such is the weakness of our reason; most often it serves only to justify our own beliefs." [from La Gloire de mon Père, my translation]

    Having read that from Pagnol (and it's now my favourite quote), I'm not surprised that it was a French team who came up with this theory -- Pagnol was one of the most important figures in French literature of his era.

    Pagnol's original context is no less relevant today than it was at the time: he was referring to how the local teacher and the local priest where he grew up were both very well educated, very intelligent people, yet their conclusions were almost diametrically opposed. I think the parallel to modern life is clear....

    HAL.

  • Well, actually, this is kind of obvious. When you realise that all our petty little philosophical differences arise from the fact that we start with different assumptions which we have little or no proof for, you generally come to the conclusion that "reason" is just a tool for us to beat each other over the head with and ignore the fundamental issues in favour of a feeling of elitist superiority.

    But to realise this and agree to disagree is contrary to our evolutionary programming... So, let the games beg

    • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Archtech (159117) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:03AM (#36449044)

      Precisely. But the fact that the ability to reason *evolved* as a way of winning arguments does not mean we cannot use it for more socially useful purposes today. Actually, I would interpret the evolutionary mechanism as being a lot broader than just winning arguments (although technically that is a sufficient description). For instance, winning an argument over whether X will mate with Y rather than Z. Winning an argument over who should be the leader. Or just winning the ongoing popularity contest to be seen as an interesting, attractive person for whom others would like to do favours.

      Alexander Pope summed it up accurately, concisely and poetically in his "Essay on Man", nearly 300 years ago (the 'card' being the compass that shows direction at sea):

      "On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail,
      Reason the card, but passion is the gale".

      We can use logic to reach reliable conclusions only when we agree on the premises and the conditions of argument. In everyday life - which includes business - different people argue from different premises, seeking to persuade other people of the validity of their own conclusions instead of listening to the other people's arguments, which may be just as important if not more so. That's largely because life in our society rewards the selfish individualist far, far more than the unselfish team player. (Although selfish individualists often successfully disguise themselves as unselfish team players).

      That's why geeks, nerds, and suchlike types (a) tend to invent useful stuff and get practical things done reliably; (b) are despised and abused by non-geeks. The geek prefers to use language and logic to accomplish concrete tasks, in cooperation with others of like mind (even if only through the media of books, the Internet, etc.) Whereas non-geeks can only use language in the way they instinctively do: to try and get their own way. They are astonished that geeks are so unselfish, but don't (on the whole) admire them for that.

      • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Informative)

        by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @02:42PM (#36453608) Homepage Journal

        That's why geeks, nerds, and suchlike types (a) tend to invent useful stuff and get practical things done reliably; (b) are despised and abused by non-geeks. The geek prefers to use language and logic to accomplish concrete tasks, in cooperation with others of like mind (even if only through the media of books, the Internet, etc.) Whereas non-geeks can only use language in the way they instinctively do: to try and get their own way. They are astonished that geeks are so unselfish, but don't (on the whole) admire them for that.

        - sounds too contrived to pass the smell test.

        First: who is 'despised' and 'abused' by non-geeks? Are you talking about school children? I don't believe the school children are doing most of 'tend to invent useful stuff and practical things done reliably', and I don't believe that the reason that non-geeks in schools hate geeks for reason, that geeks are unselfish.

        I also don't believe that geeks are unselfish (or at least that all or a large majority of them are).

        There are quite a number of huge assumptions there, not backed up by anything.

    • Religion is equally valid with atheism/naturalism because the only difference it has with (strong)atheism/naturalism lies in its fundamental assumptions. Both rely on unproven or unprovable assumptions.

      How is that a troll? I think any reasonable person can agree that gnostic atheism is indefensible.

      • You're right, actually. Clearly I'm not very good at trolling.... Thus ends my brief sojourn into the art. Probably better this way anyhow.

    • The only justication for our concepts and system of concepts is that they serve to represent the complex of our experiences; beyond this they have no legitimacy. I am convinced that the philosophers have had a harmful effect upon the progress of scientfic thinking in removing certain fundamental concepts from the domain of empiricism, where they are under our control, to the intangible heights of the a priori. For even if it should appear that the universe of ideas cannot be deduced from experience by logic
      • Which is exactly the point. If we forget our assumptions(in this case the nature of time and space), we are doing bad science. A PhD is not a "Doctorate of Philosophy" for nothing. Otherwise, if there was an incorrect assumption holding back science it would never be questioned or discovered. Neither can you escape philosophy if you can acknowledge your assumptions.

        Basically what Einstein is saying as far as I can see, is acknowledge the assumption, and then proceed. Otherwise you get stuck in philosophy a

  • There is nothing divine about humanity. We came from animals and maintain our animal nature in everything we do. There is no reason it should exclude "reasoning." And we have known for quite some time that belief trumps fact. [motherjones.com]

    It shows in nearly everything we do. In fact, "reasoning" has been used to support disinformation, misinformation, lies and misunderstanding for as far back as humans go. Religion and religious organizations are a wonderful example of this. Even the practice of saying "bless you"

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      We came from animals and maintain our animal nature in everything we do. There is no reason it should exclude "reasoning." And we have known for quite some time that belief trumps fact. [motherjones.com]

      But animals don't have beliefs in the first place. Behavior that we recognize as primitive can be still specific to humans, just developed early enough in human history.

  • From TFA:

    “Reasoning doesn’t have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions,” said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us.” Truth and accuracy were beside the point.

    As such, this model also allows for emotional reasoning ('truthiness') and the acceptance of logical fallacy.

    • The trick to winning the argument is to get the person to think along the same lines you do... We really cannot break our emotional and logical thinking up into distinct areas. Some people tend to be more logical, others will be more emotional. But there will be elements of both in it. But if you need to win an argument if you can effect their emotional side you gain and advantage, as agreeing with you will feel good. If you effect their logical side, you may still win but they are not feeling good abou

  • by Danny Rathjens (8471) <slashdot2@rathjen s . org> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:44AM (#36448806)
    I used to think I was clever for being aware of how often an argument can be seen as instinctive urges of people to position themselves higher in the primate dominance hierarchy. e.g. I am better than you; the software I use is better than what you use; ad hominem attacks; speaking louder and longer.
    Then I noticed that by pointing out these dominance hierarchy games that I was really just playing the same instinctual game to show that I am more clever than those people "just" following their instincts. This paper seems to back up my theory that I'm just as much a slave to those instincts as the "me > *" flamebait types. :)
    • Way too meta. I always thought to myself, man, people are just victims to instincts and the chemicals in their heads. I'm going to be different, I'll deviate.

      But of course, in my mind, I thought by trying to deviate from the knee-jerk reactions everybody else seems victim to, all I've accomplished is adding another layer of abstraction between my actions and my happiness, causing me to be just as much a victim to the chemicals in my head. There's no escaping it. Altruism is false! We all just want happines
  • "Reasoning doesnâ(TM)t have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions," said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. "It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us." Truth and accuracy were beside the point.

    That is a fairly damning quote on its own, but I will assume that Dr. Mercier is being misrepresented by omission of context.

    It is not the case that all strategies have the same value. If reason were no more accurate than random choices, then there would be no evolutionary value whatsoever to evaluating the suggestions of others on the basis of reason.

    The "purpose" of claws (if we are ascribing intentionality to natural selection, which is a mistake) may be to help climbing or to grip onto prey, not to be

  • Are we talking here about the evolution of a meme instead of the mankind? The word evolution seem to be used in both contexts in the article, but complex enough language, and probably reasoning as a social weapon came a bit later than the point were we became homo sapiens.

    For some things the reasoning hypotesis is not needed, figuring out a pattern could be more expensive or slower than deciding if something fits on it or that could be something random that should be ignored, so could had been an human (o

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:56AM (#36448944)

    "you're right" = "tu as raison". "This is not right" = "c'est pas juste". I don't know if it's a leftover from the Lumieres, but where English uses terms of right and wrong, French uses reason and justice. Back when I was in the US, I was indeed surprised by how objective reality (or the quest the establish it) seemed to very often take a back seat to feelings and moral / religious aspects.

    Turns out both are just "my way" vs "your way" then ?

  • by wytcld (179112) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:08AM (#36449098) Homepage

    If the purpose of reason is to win arguments, what faculty is in charge of deciding the winner? We can't reason who the winner is, because reason in this account is about arguing for one side, not weighing the arguments fairly and evenly.

    Put it the other way around: This whole argument is presupposing that people can come to reasoned conclusions and by that change their course. But then it is saying the purpose of reason isn't to allow us to come to reasoned conclusions, but rather to undermine the capability of others to come to reasoned conclusions, by allowing us to construct unbalanced and perhaps unfair arguments to virtually force them to come to some conclusion that we, by whatever means, have come to favor.

    This is an argument for being a sociopathic predator, a parasite on reasoning society, and the riches which reason has enabled us to amass. It's sanctioning this predator's attitude by saying "Evolution wants us to be this way." It's making the standard form of argument in "evolutionary psychology," in which "evolution" plays the role formerly played by "God" in constructing an argument along the lines of, "Your maker says: behave thus." They're both arguments against using our own reason. That is to say, they are both perversions of reason, turned against reason itself.

  • I am not even going to click on the TFA's link.

    Was it a scientific article behind subscription I would consider it, yet I would still complain about it not being on an open-access journal.

    I have read enough 'scientific breakthroughs' from clueless journalists to be sufficiently annoyed. Seriously, Slashdot, stop supporting this paywall already.

  • No surprise from the paper that brought us Judith Miller's Iraq reporting [nymag.com], but in this article the New York Times utilizes the same irrationality and deception that the article claims to be describing as controversial.

    The article claims to draw a distinction between rationality (or reasoning) and irrationality in the first paragraph and then proceeds to conflate the two, calling argumentation "reason":

    What is revolutionary about argumentative theory is that it presumes that since reason has a different purp

  • Success in propagating a meme isn't necessarily related to it's truth-value, merely to it's value in engendering behavior in others. But the mechanisms of intelligence are involved even there. Appeals to emotion or other assorted well documented fallacies have been well described (by reason). The problem, perhaps, is in some philosophical jig where the word 'reason' (traditionally the most gloried phenomenon of human thought) somehow takes on multiple meanings. ...So what is reason? Is it logic? The claims
  • Winning arguments used to help you get laid. Of course that was before women learned how to roll their eyes.
  • Reasoning is not a uniquely human trait and to believe so is arrogance. If you study the behavior of animals, they too use reasoning to solve problems and maneuver through their world. Since I have two cats, I'll use them as an example. One is a young, just slightly out of kittenhood and the other is twelve years old. The young one dominates at the food bowl so the older one simply takes her paw to scoop some of the food out of the bowl and onto the floor so that she can eat. If that is not a good exam
  • Look at many thread here and you'll see how many arguments go and how little reason has to do with anything once the trolls get going. Jack London put this style quite well in "The Sea Wolf":

    For the most part, the remaining four hunters leaned on the table or lay in their bunks and left the discussion to the two antagonists. But they were supremely interested, for every little while they ardently took sides, and sometimes all were talking at once, till their voices surged back and forth in waves of sound l

  • ... FTW!

    "Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787)

  • by rlp (11898)

    Having read "Snow Crash", my first reaction was, of course REASON [wikipedia.org] is a weapon.

  • And the complaint is NOT new. [wikipedia.org]

    Sophists are lying sacks of shit and should be fed slowly feet-first into a ham slicer.
    With a pause every ten slices and washdown with vinegar that they may better enjoy the next ten slices.

  • I assure you all my arguments are based in altruism and truly wanting the best for others. Unlike yours which are based in crass self interest.

    Now, be reasonable and do it my way!

  • Oh, oh I'm sorry, but this is abuse.
    You want room 12A, Just along the corridor (Stupid git!).

  • You could say the same thing, or make a more powerful argument for Religion over Reason.

    What single purpose has pitted groups of people to dominate, absorb, convert, other groups in the entire world. Nations perhaps. One could simply look at "government" or nations as the biological extension of the individual will to dominate its neighbors and protect like advantages.

  • "For centuries"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:25AM (#36451056) Homepage

    "Surely you have observed how the first taste of argument provokes lads to misuse it as a kind of sport, that is, they use it competitively. Having been proven wrong in argument, they must go on to prove others wrong. They are like puppies, welcoming all comers to pull and tear at words with them".

    (Plato's Republic, Book VII 539b)

    How new is this notion again?

  • Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we'll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena.

    No it isn't!

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

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