Monday, November 27, 2017

The vestigial organ fallacy


This little bit of retardation from back in 2015 at the website Slate Star Codex burns me up. As usual, Scott Alexander is a smart but stupid person on every subject. FYI: smart but stupid people (SBSP's) are smart but stupid because they are arrogant, and their arrogance makes them unable to see the value in things they cannot understand easily. Here is an example;

"5. Cultural evolution could have occurred way way back in prehistory. There seem to be about 50,000 years of prehistory, there were many more cultures back then, and maybe cultural generations were shorter – for all anybody knows, clans could have disintegrated and reformed over the space of decades. That provides enough generation time for cultural evolution to work. Question is, can we trust anything that evolved in pre-history – when the pressing social issues of the day were things like “How do we not get eaten by bears?” – to still be relevant?
"There does seem to be the potential for cultural evolution to be interesting, but I’m still not seeing it as a strong argument for preserving particular features of inherited culture absent other arguments suggesting we know why we want those things to be preserved."

I really despise smart people who are unable to see the value in tradition, religion, etc.

Think of it like this. The highest form of reason is not pure reason. Contra Kant, (pronounced "cunt" for a reason), accretive/traditional knowledge is a much higher form of thought than reason could ever be. Reason is prone to countless errors, mistakes, cognitive biases, fallacies, motivated cognition, anchoring, etc. Traditional knowledge, or accretive knowledge, is everywhere, and is the basis of everything that works. DNA is a tradition of adaptation to everything that killed your ancestors. The fact that your body has vestigial features like the appendix does not mean that the body is worthless or invalid. Religions can also have vestigial features, such as a prohibition against eating pork. The fact that this vestigial feature exists does not invalidate the value and usefulness of religion itself, and asserting that something has no value, even implicitly as Scott is doing above, is making a claim, and the burden of proof is on the one making that claim.

Science, contrary to liberal beliefs, comes out of accretive knowledge rather than pure reason. Someone make hundreds of observations about a natural behavior, (the accretion), and then someones develops a theory to explain it. Nothing is ever just invented out of thin air. Reality is always discovered first; not reasoned into knowledge from first principles.

Religion, DNA, law, constitutions, scientific knowledge, engineering principles, building construction standards, food packaging standards, capitalism, etc., is all tradition. Everything that works is a system, and all systems are traditions arrived at through experience with trial and error. The vestigial organ fallacy consists of devaluing an entire system because some part of it is outdated. No atheist would say that law itself is invalid because there are stupid laws on the books. No member of the "rationalist" community would say that vestigial organs invalidate the legitimacy of DNA, and no one should say that outdated religious features invalidate faith itself — no one with humility anyway.

Reason is also lazy since it spares the thinker from having to read anything or do any research. Yes, it might be less lazy than a cognitive miser, but it is lazy for those that can think, since they could do better and actually learn about the subject they are talking about. If you do not understand the reason for something it is your job to find out why, and not anyone's to tell you.




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