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Thread: The appeal of the illogical?

  1. #1 The appeal of the illogical? 
    Forum Professor scoobydoo1's Avatar
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    Often I've encountered both online and IRL who appear to relish in a state of being illogical, often when ranting, using it as a tool for social bonding in goofing around with absurd ideas and notions, and pushing the boundaries on what they themselves and their audience are willing to accept as "valid" reasoning. Coloring perspectives, and advancing personal agendas, and the manipulation of the ill-informed and ill-prepared, with at times, both the awareness and unawareness of faulty reasoning.

    Is there such a thing? And does the value assignment of being illogical, even after having pointed out that the reasoning utilized are illogical, points towards something deeper in our evolution?


    * Recent events at work regarding vendor selection with their (IMO "failed") products and services has spurred this inquiry if anyone was curious.


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    Anti-Crank AlexG's Avatar
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    It points to stupid.


    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
    Prof Richard Feynman (1979) .....

    Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!"
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    I think people are subject to considerable evolutionary pressure to form into cohesive groups. People with nutty ideas will seek each other out to for validation and mutual support. If those groups become visible and cohesive enough others will gravitate to them just for the feeling of being part of the "in" crowd, even to the point of pretending to believe in nutty stuff they don't really buy into. Yes, its definitely a "thing" now to be as nutty and outrageous as possible. It makes you popular in certain circles, and people like being popular.
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    Forum Professor astromark's Avatar
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    ~ I think 'Scoobyedoo1 has exposed a raw nerve.. that some people are devoid of rational thought to the extent that they will believe almost anything that 'the Group' will suggest., and they have not the facility to question anything presented.. Born to follow. Sad a ?
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Is there such a thing? And does the value assignment of being illogical, even after having pointed out that the reasoning utilized are illogical, points towards something deeper in our evolution?
    I think many people will (claim to) use reason and evidence-based decisions ... as long as they support what they want to do. If not, then they will twist the logic and reinterpret the evidence so it does support the decision they want to make. (Based on my experience of senior management.)
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  7. #6  
    Forum Professor scoobydoo1's Avatar
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    I've read all the replies and I thank you all for the input. I will respond to some posts here and while I may not directly quote some of you here, I have added what you have said here into my responses to others that I have quoted.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
    It points to stupid.
    I'm very tempted to agree as an expression of spite, but the case does not appear to be that clear cut.

    "Some" of the people who exhibit these behaviours and tendencies are capable of logical thought ranging from a rudimentary level to a highly disciplined level for solving and analysing problems. However, having said that, they do not appear to "want" to function on level on a regular basis even if they are capable of doing so; to the extent of reverting to relishing in not functioning logically with purposeful intent in a social setting. Since I do not know if they function in the same manner when they are alone and not in a social setting in quite the same way, I wonder if being illogical has some form of appeal when factoring in a social setting.

    That said, there are instances; especially on the forums here that members have exhibited a near total absence of logical thought in submitting their ideas and casual posts that are either ill-informed and/or ill-thought out, and do not appear to be willing to revisit their position on certain subjects after having pointed out their mistakes to a reasonable degree. In this aspect on the subject of being illogical, the "appeal" of being illogical (to me) appears to be working on a private and individual level without a social factor.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I think many people will (claim to) use reason and evidence-based decisions ... as long as they support what they want to do. If not, then they will twist the logic and reinterpret the evidence so it does support the decision they want to make. (Based on my experience of senior management.)
    So, personal agendas and interests trumps presenting a logical form?

    I do somewhat agree with you, and yet this presents another issue that requires our attention. If there is an awareness that the process utilized isn't conforming with a logical form, and having it pointed out to you/us by others who were able to dissect the argument that we have presented, why not re-adjust our original position and not appear the fool for a longer duration? This is in fact the issue I've faced during the vendor selection meeting with the various stakeholders after myself and others have pointed out the flaws and oversights in their presentations. I doubt that it was a case where they aren't able to reprocess and recalculate their mistakes, but it appears that they weren't willing to even if they are capable of doing so.
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    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    I recently read a bit about culture and psych, so here's a semi-relevant little post. For a number of reasons people are generally inclined to form in-groups - groups that they are a part of that other people are not affiliated with (out-groups). Some in-groups are simply the result of circumstance (Your family), while others are a matter of choice (Being a member of this forum). A need for social support, a need to construct identity... Being a part of groups is an essential part of many peoples' lives.

    There is something called Terror Management Theory, which is all about how people have a desire to live, but realize that death is an inescapable reality. Because death is inevitable, people are inclined to create meaning about life. I imagine that constructing an identity is a major part of creating meaning on the personal level. In-groups and out-groups aren't by necessity associated with TMT, but identity is to a reasonable extent. That said, we do tend to identify ourselves by comparison to others, if we didn't we would have no context for comparison.

    e.g. If you say you are "sociable" that doesn't really mean anything unless you are comparing yourself to some kind of baseline, or "average" level of sociability, and it wouldn't mean anything to me unless I compare that to some baseline level of sociability either.

    So, being a part of an in-group distinguishes person X from person Y - that gives meaning to your identity. The extent varies from culture to culture, but we also tend to have allegiances to the groups we belong to (and we also interact differently with our groups from culture to culture depending on the norms of the cultures). So maybe, to some extent, people with illogical ideas and their like-minded in-group are just more inclined to side with, and tolerate, other members of the in-group than they would with someone from the out-group. So if somebody has an idea about something related to what defines the in-group, and it's illogical, members of the in-group might be more inclined to agree than they would to disagree. And maybe they're a part of those groups because it helps them distinguish how they are different/what makes them unique (identity) from others.
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    Forum Freshman EvolvedAtheist's Avatar
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    If I understand your question at all, I would have to respond harshly stating that illogic is for the ignoramuses and logic is for the reasonable.
    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    So, personal agendas and interests trumps presenting a logical form?
    Yep. The most extreme example I came across recently was on a radio program arguing about the dangers of "bendy" (articulated) buses in London. There were two guests, one of whom was vehemently attacking them for being dangerous. The other presented traffic accident statistics to show they were safer; these were confirmed by the (independent) presenter. At which point, the first guest went into a rant and said, "I don't care about the facts, they are obviously more dangerous."

    A bit like creationists really.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvolvedAtheist View Post
    If I understand your question at all...
    Not quite.

    I'm trying to determine if there is or isn't some form of evolutionary pressure (bias?) for selecting what I'm assuming to be an "appeal of the illogical". Now, I may be entirely mistaken here with this train of thought that there is some form of an appeal involved here, and if I am mistaken, I would like to know; by gathering input from other members here who may have at some point considered it.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    So, personal agendas and interests trumps presenting a logical form?
    Yep. The most extreme example I came across recently was on a radio program arguing about the dangers of "bendy" (articulated) buses in London. There were two guests, one of whom was vehemently attacking them for being dangerous. The other presented traffic accident statistics to show they were safer; these were confirmed by the (independent) presenter. At which point, the first guest went into a rant and said, "I don't care about the facts, they are obviously more dangerous."

    A bit like creationists really.
    If value assignment plays a part in the overall equation, thus allowing emotions to cloud what may have been a possible logical thought and perspective, does this points to the fact(?) that the application of logic (other than the most basic and rudimentary form of it) requires (considerable?) effort on our part, and as such while we are capable of presenting a logical form, it isn't exactly favored; from an evolutionary perspective?
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I guess both instinctive/intuitive and rational ways of thinking have advantages and disadvantages in different circumstances, which is why they have both evolved and survived. If you hear a noise in the undergrowth you need to decide prey or predator very quickly, without (rational) thought. On the other hand, if you are trying to plan the future of your tribe/family it pays to think about it.

    Have you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman? He has done a lot of research on these two modes of thought, and how they influence each other (mainly the fast mode interfering with the slow/rational mode).
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    If value assignment plays a part in the overall equation, thus allowing emotions to cloud what may have been a possible logical thought and perspective, does this points to the fact(?) that the application of logic (other than the most basic and rudimentary form of it) requires (considerable?) effort on our part, and as such while we are capable of presenting a logical form, it isn't exactly favored; from an evolutionary perspective?
    ~ It does seem to me that a greater number of people do not consider the thought at all..
    following the group is of greater importance than forming from information gathered.
    I do not see individual thought even playing a role.. The group opinion rides very high in the frame of the young.
    My considered opinion is that no thought of questioning the group thinking.. takes president over that of the group you are with.
    The ability to question long held doctrine does seem to require a level of education and age and without wanting to seem different.
    The pack mentality comes forward.. Thinking for yourself seem almost foreign..
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I guess both instinctive/intuitive and rational ways of thinking have advantages and disadvantages in different circumstances, which is why they have both evolved and survived. If you hear a noise in the undergrowth you need to decide prey or predator very quickly, without (rational) thought. On the other hand, if you are trying to plan the future of your tribe/family it pays to think about it.
    I had a hunch that the assignment of values played a part in the utilization of logic; in that at our current evolving state there has been and still is a place for both. However, it appears that people (in general) may still favor the illogical over the logical, at least that has been what I've observed so far. It may be situational for either and both, but I'll continue to observe and see if I can figure it out. If you have ever monitored involuntary thought patterns that arises from an emotional catalyst, it would seem that our stream of thought are more often than not illogical and chaotic. That or our "consciousness" hasn't quite figured out how to process and make sense of why involuntary thought patterns arise from our biological processes; often as and when it happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Have you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman? He has done a lot of research on these two modes of thought, and how they influence each other (mainly the fast mode interfering with the slow/rational mode).
    Thank you, I'll look it up.
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  17. #16  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    However, it appears that people (in general) may still favor the illogical over the logical, at least that has been what I've observed so far.
    That is partly because "slow" thinking is hard work. This can be seen in various ways such as increased oxygen consumption, the fact that people get worse at difficult problems over time as they get tired, if you are walking along and ask someone a difficult question they might stop walking while they work it out, etc...

    Also, most people have never been taught that there are other ways of thinking about a problem.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    The pack mentality comes forward.. Thinking for yourself seem almost foreign..
    Hmm, if social cohesiveness (in being part of a collective group) was integral to our survival early in our evolution, it would make a certain amount of sense that herd behaviour being favored and would have played a more important role than disagreeing with the pack even if the direction taken by the pack was "illogical".
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    However, it appears that people (in general) may still favor the illogical over the logical, at least that has been what I've observed so far.
    That is partly because "slow" thinking is hard work. This can be seen in various ways such as increased oxygen consumption...
    So, it is a laborious task even for people who may be conditioned to think "logically".

    Hmm, for some reason, a biological "conservation of energy" comes to mind when thinking about survival and reproduction early on in our evolution. Reverting back to undisciplined thought patterns may be more energy efficient if you see what I'm going with this.
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    An overdose of logical thinking is probably not a healthy thing. We'd realize that the things we care about, and what motivates us, is just a big load of crap. Aren't we all a bit irrational about something?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Aren't we all a bit irrational about something?
    Yes we are.

    The question here is why people (us included) are irrational and illogical about somethings and not so much about other stuff. The base values we assign to that which matters to us often stirs emotions, and I suspect that a large part of that which stirs emotions are biological in nature (such as our reactions to infants faces and the sounds they make), and other values being cultural and ideological ones which are built up to form our individual identity.

    However, the purpose of this inquiry is to determine if there is or isn't a biological component for (what appears to me to be) the "appeal of the illogical", and if there is such a thing. Any thoughts? Am I wrong in suspecting that it is some form of an "appeal" wherein it may be something else entirely?
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by danhanegan View Post
    I think people are subject to considerable evolutionary pressure to form into cohesive groups.
    It is deeper than that. For example, Michael Shermer wrote an article about 20 years ago on how religions and various pseudo science works. IIRC he said that from a variety of standpoints it pays great to be extreme as possible at least on a few ways. Then if the prospective member takes the bait, he has shown characteristics that can be molded to fit the given desire. Mentalists, Illusionists, and Magicians do about the same thing, as well as Nigerian Sting operatives or other scammers. So do lions culling the herd of wildebeasts or snake oil salesmen. Ridding the world of the unfit is one uncomfortable way to look at all.

    Religions especially are an interesting case, having the ability to take marginal, criminal, low IQ, or even the morally unfit and turn them into some kind of much more socially productive creature. But to return to the topic, the more odd the better. As Madonna says, ellicit a response. One relative of mine formed a religious group with some real odd one liners. But if they believe in a flat earth, despite the great difficulty, then that belief is really hard to fake over the long term with all the flack you are perpetually getting from non affected family/friend/colleagues.

    Also try to understand we are mentally geared for live in hunting gathering societies. From watching still existing (Andaman Islands, New Guinea Island, etc.) or recently disappeared ones such as the Bushmen of southern Africa, we note the trends. Not only does evolution apparently rely upon punctuated equilibrium, but also only one in twenty or so homo habilis or above exist today. Since 80,000 years ago or so we have genetically changed little. How much is hardwired is unknown, but it would be understandable that we are not built to adapt to persons who abuse their situations and travel from group to group. (Yes, there was trade tens of thousands of years ago, but traders would have been few in number and closely watched should rogue elements develop.)

    The Siberian experience of about 100 to 200 years ago is telling in the Asian and to some degree across the Urals in the far north. Tribes intemingled. Meeting a person was so unusual that he was instantly absorbed into the group. On rare occasion, there would be Mongoloid, 'Caucasian' and Central Asian individuals form a tribe up. And tribes were constantly disappearing from lack of food, opening up new territory. What this means is gullible statements or beliefs are not an issue. What matters is can he hunt, fish, reproduce or she pick berries, dig roots, reproduce? The reproduction aspect is humorously introduced in the fictional Clan Of The Cave Bear, where the shaman immediately dragoons the newcomer to impregnate women to prevent inbred qualities, IIRC.

    In short, today and yesterday it was not what was 'wrong' with a person that was the issue, but what was right. Besides, it does not matter what color of the cat as long as it catches mice, to quote Deng Xiao Ping. As said above, often believing unusual things oddly _helps_ you.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    An overdose of logical thinking is probably not a healthy thing. We'd realize that the things we care about, and what motivates us, is just a big load of crap. Aren't we all a bit irrational about something?
    Yes.

    Also, for creative thinking it pays to experiment and let the mind run free. We have memories that even in the past ran up to 80 years old (rare in hunting gathering societies, but invaluable advantage as they had seen a large variety of weather, hunting patterns of animals, etc., so almost automatically became leaders of some sort and respected).

    Experiments do not usually work. No scientist, much less a hunter, has the time to gauge everything. But that which is weighed and assessed, tinkered with too, and succeeds, that is able to be passed down or even transferred to other groups -- such as when ideas have sex:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLHh9E5ilZ4

    The odd thing is those who do counter factual history (according to one study I read) seems to make the mind believe it as 'fact' and 'real'. This gullible activity is fundamental in some sort of mental process, it seems. We accept the goofiest ideas and play around with them. That our societies tend to go the massively parallel method (Germanic engineering so to speak) is simple the nature of the beast, perhaps. It could easily be a key part of our success as a species.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    However, it appears that people (in general) may still favor the illogical over the logical, at least that has been what I've observed so far.
    That is partly because "slow" thinking is hard work. This can be seen in various ways such as increased oxygen consumption, the fact that people get worse at difficult problems over time as they get tired, if you are walking along and ask someone a difficult question they might stop walking while they work it out, etc...

    Also, most people have never been taught that there are other ways of thinking about a problem.
    (nods)
    That slow deeper thinking also gets us killed because it stalls reactions allowing the car to crush us, or the cougar to strike (they roam my neighborhood). There's a strong basis in our brains tendency to reach for the simple, often irrational, emotional or automatic decision about how to act based in survival. In my years in the military we often trained soldiers various battle drills so soldiers would just react to something to keep themselves and their unit alive--the rational thinking parts came later when there was hopefully time.

    And it often doesn't have a thing to do with group thinking.
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  25. #24  
    Forum Sophomore Estheria Quintessimo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Often I've encountered both online and IRL who appear to relish in a state of being illogical, often when ranting, using it as a tool for social bonding in goofing around with absurd ideas and notions, and pushing the boundaries on what they themselves and their audience are willing to accept as "valid" reasoning. Coloring perspectives, and advancing personal agendas, and the manipulation of the ill-informed and ill-prepared, with at times, both the awareness and unawareness of faulty reasoning.

    Is there such a thing? And does the value assignment of being illogical, even after having pointed out that the reasoning utilized are illogical, points towards something deeper in our evolution?
    The first thing that sprung up in my mind (as an atheist) is that you are talking about religious people, but did not dare to point the finger because you wanted to keep the topic general. I could be wrong on this and appologize if I am.

    So:
    Is there such a thing? And does the value assignment of being illogical, even after having pointed out that the reasoning utilized are illogical, points towards something deeper in our evolution?
    So is there a NEED (perhaps biologically) to sustain the illogical as being true, even if everything else -like COLD HARD FACTS- points to what is believed is a freaking lie?

    I think it has nothing to do with the illogical.
    I think it has all to do with the Human need to belong,.... to belong to a group of individuals, to sustain a humans own existence with his/her community.

    Regardless of our big brains and thinking our human minds can never be corrupted,... it can be corrupted. history has shown us this numerous times.
    We human are herd animals basically, we follow the leader regardless how free our minds are we stupidly think to be.
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    Lynx_Fox >> In my years in the military we often trained soldiers various battle drills so soldiers

    Yes, the difference between the quick and the dead. Obviously, some situations can be prepared for in a round about way yet only as a rough plan. I do not recall if it was the book _Fast, Slow_ or _Outliers_, and it quoted a General Van Riper on quick thinking and the dangers of group thinking 'correction' of outlier results. But anyway, the source mention was about an art or collectable forgery candidate. The immediate expert gut instinct was correct. His following 2 year investigation came out switched to confirm, yet later to be a proven false positive.

    In short, life is complicated, particularly when having a human brain trying to counter and cover the tracks as in military or criminal operations! Science, too, has some odd areas, such as Mendel being stymied by a critic who tried the genetic theory [later confirmed] of inheritance. Unfortunately, the famed critic used a plant that has unusual genetic patterns (horseradish?) and it failed completely, IIRC and the account was accurate. So we waited about 40 years after being published before the effort really took off. Or the still ongoing 300 year contention of Newton and Hooke whether light is a particle, a wave, or whattheheckisit?


    Quote Originally Posted by Estheria Quintessimo View Post
    Regardless of our big brains and thinking our human minds can never be corrupted,... it can be corrupted. history has shown us this numerous times. We human are herd animals basically, we follow the leader regardless how free our minds are we stupidly think to be.

    True enough, IMO. But there is more than that. Diversity counts, and lies or misdirections can have highly useful purposes. In an extreme case, one mental patient believed himself to be Jesus Christ. The doctor took him aside and said 'I hear you are a carpenter', quickly getting him to do very valuable work around the facility and gradual progress to better emotional health. Almost instantly a delusion became a clear asset through a blatant lie. I guess it was, though he could have been the real McCoy and only humoring the doctor?!?

    Ask any hunter, these animals are smart and want to live. Deception is very useful to defeat this obstacle, as are Machiavillian strategies (e.g. Ingenious Eskimos intentionally shoot to wound a caribou in just the right way when far from the sea kayak, then chase if not shepherd the damaged animal to vessel for easy transportation before the coup de grace shot. This enormously shrinks portage and spoilage issues.)

    Fair to say that group think is extremely over rated in our modern world. Outliers consistently are very important to human advancement, yet usually are vastly underpaid if not tortured for their assistance. In American state of California, I have heard some employers even give tests to see if a prospective is creative, ditching those testing positive. Creative and outlier activity is disruptive, and lock step management is easily identifiable in progress (creativity is normally an intangible). Initial disruption is not tolerated as it can and does get out of hand. Type A behaviors work to get ahead.

    The same is true for this site discussion as well. Fair to say original ideas do not get as many 'likes' as regurgitation pleasantries of group think usually do, from one faction or another. I mean 'original' in other people's ideas, as independent theories and ideas of the poster themselves are possibly forbidden, as in so many forums technically are not allowed by site rules nowadays.


    Control is a two sided issue. Lack of control has great use at specific places and times. 'Plan for perfection, then do' works well for action but not most types of real research.
    Last edited by jjmckane; June 23rd, 2014 at 02:58 AM. Reason: I like to edit?
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