Irrational others (was: RE: Cryonics/Nanotech Skepticism)

Damien Broderick (
Sat, 15 Aug 1998 11:23:00 +0000

At 12:49 PM 8/14/98 -0700, Hal wrote:

>What if people hold the contrary belief, that there are significant
>numbers of other people who are stubbornly irrational? It would seem
>that we might have a stable outcome similar to what we actually see:
>people collecting into subgroups with shared opinions, where they believe
>other members of their group are rational (at least on this issue!).
>However the existence of significant groups with other opinions does
>not lead them to change their ideas because they simply assume that the
>others are irrational.

Well, that there are significant numbers of other people who are stubbornly irrational *in a certain domain*.

Presumably this is the means whereby people in a (fairly) peaceful pluralist society treat the religious and (mainstream variant) political views of their neighbors. The polite rule against discussing politics and religion at the dinner table (or whatever it is) acknowledges this working assumption. It has the convenient side effect that people with novel approaches to the world actually can get on and try them out, up to a point, which sometimes leads to fresh science, art, technology...

Presumably adherence to sporting claques (as non-playing supporters) is a contrived version of this domain-construction, or maybe an adaptation of earlier tribalisms which saw competitors not so much as irrational but as worthy and feared Others, to be belittled by scornful shouts but envied for their prowess and possessions.

Damien Broderick