House Rules Re: [FoRK] The drum beat continues

Stephen D. Williams < sdw at > on > Fri Nov 17 10:19:39 PST 2006

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar wrote:
> Hi Stephen,
> On Nov 16, 2006, at 6:02 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> True enough.  I think that avoiding being based on faith is not just 
>> a tiny difference, but fundamental and pervasive, 
> See, that is where you completely lost me.   As far as I can tell, 
> Dawkins is motivated by "faith in the scientific method" in precisely 
> the same way his adversaries are motivated by "faith in God."  You 
> can't see the scientific method any more than I can see God (perhaps 
> less :-P), but that doesn't mean neither of them are real.
> As a physicist, I have great faith in the scientific method and the 
> power of mathematics to explain the universe, but I am fully aware 
> that this is something I *choose* to believe. And I work extremely 
> hard to ensure my faith in God remains just as theoretically rigorous 
> and empirically sound as my other beliefs (and vice versa).
I think we covered this a couple threads ago.  You can only have "faith 
in the scientific method" if you have seen no proof that it tends to 
work / be true.  After that point, you have a solid, fact-based 
probability estimation.  Faith in God is completely different as you 
never get proof that can be explained only by the existence of God.  If 
you have empirically sound evidence in God, then let's hear it.  I think 
we examined and disposed of what you mentioned earlier.

When you are a child, you follow many rules and beliefs that you can't 
verify.  Santa Claus for instance.  When you mature to a full, thinking, 
sentient being, you should be able to discern fact from fiction.  Modern 
society has a number of cases where lack of critical thinking can allow 
you down the wrong path (advertising, scams, predatory people, cults, 
new age pseudo science/medicine/philosophy).  Religion is just one of 
the most sticky.

Science, logic, and related bodies of knowledge and experience are 
qualitatively different from faith.
>> but on top of that the mechanisms of discourse are pretty much the 
>> same a fair amount of the time.
> Okay, fair enough. Thanks.
>>> Kinda like House. Yeah, sometimes it is what people need. But 
>>> sometimes he uses and abuses people just to satisfy his own ego, 
>>> regardless of "truth" or "right."  And I don't think he always knows 
>>> which is which.
>> Possibly.  It's hard to say.  The writers delight in making it look 
>> that way all the time and then at least part of the time revealing 
>> that he had perfectly good intentions and was not squeamish about 
>> making others uncomfortable and challenged to get there.
> True, but they also delight in giving him his comeuppance at the end 
> of many episodes.  My favorite was the cancer girl whom [SPOILER 
> ALERT] he was sure was only brave because of brain damage. :-)
>> I think that "just to satisfy his own ego" needs to be deconstructed 
>> a lot more.  There is plenty of evidence that House wants and needs 
>> to be right.  There is a lot less that he does so for recognition 
>> (pride, narcissism, etc.).
> Um, I think we're defining "ego" a little differently.  If you mean 
> ego as "needing strokes from other people", then yeah, absolutely, 
> House is not guilty of that. But egocentrism and narcissism are not 
> about external recognition but satisfying the self's need to feel good 
> about itself, regardless of the cost to others.  Heck, if you read 
> your article on narcissism, you should recall that it was about 
> self-worship, not seeking worship from others:
> As far as I can tell, House fits both those articles to a "T" (except 
> for his brief moments of remorse at the end of the episode, while the 
> music's playing :-).  Would you disagree?
Taken at the high level, I might have been swayed.  The Wikipedia page 
on Egocentrism has a reference to this great list.  I fail to see how 
House could have any of the following characteristics and still manage 
to be the best diagnostician.  If you are always right, and see it 
before others, it's not detectably egocentric to operate with those 
statistics in mind.  If others are sometimes right first, which is the 
experience of nearly all of us, you avoid appearing egocentric by 
couching statements with phrases like: "It looks to me as if...", 
"Unless I've made a mistake...", "Did you think of this...?", "This is 
just a guess, but what about...", "I'm sure someone thought of this 
before, but I haven't seen this solution....".

I think it's important to separate lack of interest in social feelings 
management from correctness and correctness estimation.  Someone with 
social graces can avoid appearing egocentric when they actually are and 
someone with no interest and/or skill at the social level can appear 
egocentric when they are not.

It also occurs to me that you can hope to be correct/original without 
actually thinking that it is definite that you are and end up looking 
egocentric.  The determination of actual category seems like it would 
tend to happen at failure instances.  If you don't fail, it all remains 
>     *The Human Mind Is Naturally Prone To the Following Egocentric
>     Tendencies*
> *egocentric memory *(the natural tendency to "forget" evidence and 
> information which does not support our thinking and to "remember" 
> evidence and information which does)
> *egocentric myopia* (the natural tendency to think absolutistically 
> within an overly narrow point of view)
> *egocentric infallibility* (the natural tendency to think that our 
> beliefs are true because we believe them)
> *egocentric righteousness* (the natural tendency to feel superior in 
> the light of our confidence that we are in the possession of THE TRUTH)
> *egocentric hypocrisy* (the natural tendency to ignore flagrant 
> inconsistencies between what we profess to believe and the actual 
> beliefs our behavior imply, or inconsistencies between the standards 
> to which we hold ourselves and those to which we expect others to adhere)
> *egocentric oversimplification* (the natural tendency to ignore real 
> and important complexities in the world in favor of simplistic notions 
> when consideration of those complexities would require us to modify 
> our beliefs or values)
> *egocentric blindness *(the natural tendency not to notice facts or 
> evidence which contradict our favored beliefs or values)
> *egocentric immediacy *(the natural tendency to over-generalize 
> immediate feelings and experiences--so that when one event in our life 
> is highly favorable or unfavorable, all of life seems favorable or 
> unfavorable as well)
> *egocentric absurdity *(the natural tendency to fail to notice 
> thinking which has "absurd" consequences, when noticing them would 
> force us to rethink our position)
> Taken from The Miniature Guide to the Human Mind 
> <>

>>  I interpret his drive as needing to make a positive difference, to 
>> demonstrate his value to himself by being right and saving people, 
>> and making maximum benefit while essentially preventing plaudits.  
> I think the evidence -- including his own statements -- are far more 
> consistent with his *primary* drive being "to the need to be right" 
> (which, speaking from experience, is a drug more powerful that Vicodin 
> :-).  Sure, we're all glad that he's in a profession where that drive 
> usually saves lives, but (as in last year's season finale) I think 
> even he realizes that sometimes his obsession causes a great deal of 
> unnecessary pain.
I'm not sure what you're saying that conflicts with what I said.  Are 
you saying that he would be just as happy to be right even if it didn't 
involve positive life or death benefit?  That the pursuit is shallow for 
him and therefore not commendable?
>> sdw - not humble or meek, but setting tough goals and happily 
>> screwing up and falling short of my own expectations about every 
>> other minute and diligently trying to point out my own faults before 
>> anyone can beat me to it.
> I can point out my own faults faster than you can point out yours. 
> Nyaah! :-P
lol...  My faults have faults.
> -- Ernie "recovering egocentrist" Prabhakar


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