Rationalisation as Compression

Been reading Pinker, Dennett, Rousseau and Rawls in the break. Forming a view of rationalisation as compression (after simple equals powerful idea). Pinker refers to the entire left side (?) of the brain as the “baloney generator” designed to produce convincing sounding “arguments” in difficult situations. Humans have an innate comfort with the “rational” and dislike of the “irrational”, needing rationale to explain experience. Often the rationale may be a gross simplification, simple near-term logic, basic correlation, even an analogy, with little or no true causal connection with the real situation – almost certainly also a mechanism for recording, recalling and reconstructing knowledge in ways that minimise the mental resources needed to do so (Keep it Simple Stupid). Shared (innate) intuitions of folk physics and folk psychology, mean that this is an important mechanism not only for recording and recalling knowledge, but also for sharing and communicating knowledge (with other humans). However important to communication, such rationale must not be confused with scientific reasoning concerning the truth of underlying cause and effect. True for all (apparent, human) “intents and purposes”, but false in any scientific sense of fact.

Still can’t get out of my head the significance of the fact that the evolution of the human brain – optimisation of physical wiring patterns – is way behind the evolution of knowedge in the last 100’s and 1000’s of years and the explosion in information and communication in the last 10’s and 100’s – exactly as one would expect given timescales of genetic evolution reinforced, against alternate mutations, over many generations. Rationalisation is the best (evolved) strategy our little brains currently have (may ever have) for dealing intuitively with an overload of information and mounting complexity of known, potentially true, relationships.

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