The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

You are not so smart

You’d think from the title that it might be curmudgeonly; in fact, You Are Not So Smart is quite big-hearted. Latest post: The Just-World Fallacy.

I officially request posts on selection bias and survivor bias. I swear these rear their heads every single day, in journalism and in life.

(Via Kottke.)

One comment

Saheli says…

I hope you don’t mind my putting on the theological hat briefly: IMHO, the traditional, religious conception of Karma includes in it the complete inability of anyone inside the system to truly understand its connections and timings; someone may seem utterly punished but may well be on their last stop before liberation, someone else may seem to be enjoying greatly but may be on the last drops of their good karma reserves, headed for tremendous suffering. To think that one has grasped the threads of the cosmic narrative of justice without divine intervention is considered a tremendous hubris with terrible implications. Moreover, the religious notion of karma is completely entangled with the notion of reincarnation; without considering the previous and future lives of a person, their karma makes no sense. Therefore, using the concept of karma as an excuse to lack compassion is missing the point completely; the idea is that we all have such tremendous reserves of bad karma (and some of us, good karma) dragging behind us that there is absolutely no point in considering the extent to a which a person, today, deserves their ill fortune if its not immediately apparent why.

If you believe in karma and reincarnation as a religious concept then, it serves four main purposes: a) to give one the ability to pursue justice as a duty but not an all-consuming obsession, being detached from the results of one’s dutiful pursuits with the reassurance that if one’s best efforts fail, justice will still, eventually, be dispensed b) to chide oneself out of paralysing self-pity and anger in times of great suffering in a satisfyingly vague way (‘at some level I deserve this, but there’s no point in eating myself up with regret, so onwards and upwards’), c) as self-motivation for doing good deeds and not doing bad ones d) to further motivate compassion for suffering people and creatures with the constant reminder that we too may have this coming to us, somehow.

Additionally, since in the long view of karma and reincarnation the view of a single lifetime or even a single universe is just a random sample of a very large and fluctuating pattern, then yes, of course there’s no pattern to see or justification to watching someone suffer. This allows someone to harmonize the positive, motivating benefits of believing in karma with the rational and social benefits of recognizing the empirical reality that life often sucks and people often suffer and we should have compassion for them.

Theological hat off, scientific and secular hat back on, yes, observationally and logically this makes perfect sense and is a great post and reminder. I just wanted to put in a good word for the idea of karma, though.

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