On Being Rational

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

This sentiment has long been echoed by authors of poetry and prose alike, but this particular source is culturally relevant these days. Bravery is not the state of never feeling fear; this would be reckless foolishness. Rather, bravery is experiencing and mastering your fear enough to act in spite of it.

Brave people overcome their fears. This is also the way of rationality. Rational people overcome their fallacies. Even the most powerful logician experiences moments of imperfect reasoning. The key is not to aim for inerrancy—that’d be setting yourself up for failure from the start—but rather to correct bias and logical errors when they arise.

The analogy of a muscle springs to mind. An infant cannot deadlift a 300 kg weight, nor can most normal adults, but if you dedicate yourself to the task, if you work  to progressively build up your muscles, it’s an attainable goal. Trying to do this without sufficient training will just leave you with a hernia. So too with attempts to be free of illogic.

Once you have the basic foundations of rationality, understanding of logic and cognitive bias, you can start pruning away errors. Eventually, deadlifting doesn’t seem quite so intimidating.

… And anyone who thinks they never make these mistakes is lying to themselves (and, in keeping with my own little tradition, an asshole).

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One response to “On Being Rational

  1. I agree with this though it should be pointed out that humans are
    unfortunately imperfect so there will always be irrationality
    irrespective of how much one strives to eradicate it

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