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Unreasonable

For most people, reason flows from feeling and then tricks us into thinking it’s the other way around.

We are so great at finding ways to convince ourselves that we are being logical and reasoned, which would be fine if we were only a little bit more aware that this is what’s going on.

Instead, we spend so much time on reason, building more and more intricate logical palaces based on ultimately pretty flimsy grounds.

I’ve saved myself a ton of grief and effort by just making myself more aware that a lot of what I reason for is based on how I feel rather than the other way around. I don’t need a Wittgenstein-level syllabus to reason my way into being cool with gay people or thinking that killing people is bad or being scared that the planet will die. I just feel it.

If you don’t use emotions you’re only using half your brain. They’re awesome.

Now, I’m neither saying that emotions are always right, nor am I saying that people shouldn’t change their minds. Things can be right or wrong.

If I am wrong, I’d rather learn and change my mind than stay wrong, and I hope that goes for you, too.

I’m also not saying that science and evidence and proof are worse than emotions. However, scientists could benefit from becoming aware of their emotional biases.

What I am saying, though, is that it’s often kind of fruitless to try to reason my way out of a value or opinion.

Some examples where I changed my mind

I used to be a real li’l miss Goody Two-Shoes for copyright. Refusing to let my friends copy my game disk or VHS tapes. I was awful.

But the value emotion that motivated that was that I want to do right by other people.

Getting hip to how copyright is artificial scarcity and as such very destructive, depriving, and wasteful cued in to another set of emotions also built around the same underlying value emotion, and I became the sweet bitter enemy of copyright you see before you today.

Blockchain

I used to think the blockchain was really nifty. Growing up in the free MP3 era, of course decentralization seemed great. After all, the more centralized our MP3s were, the easier bad old RIAA could shut us down.

I was frustrated by centralized payment systems like Flattr, Kickstarter and Paypal, and cryptocurrency seemed like a great solution to that (as viewed from outside—I never bought in).

NFT made it easy to hate. “Non-fungible? But I love fungible!” Artificial scarcity was already the enemy. This made it easy to unflinchingly look up the numbers on the horrible impact of proof-of-work.

Prepped vs improvised roleplaying

I used to believe that prepping was basically impossible. Unless you railroaded, you’d have to prep every grain of sand on the planet.

So I improvised, even fudged, for years, but that always felt bad, flimsy, chafing. When I finally figured out ways to prep open-endedly but solidy, I was happy and that felt great.

Executive and emotional awareness

My own mind is pretty messed up as you can probably see from this and my other posts. That obviously always felt pretty bad, and, a lot of ways to manage it (“you love routine”, they’d tell me. Hell no, I hate that boring stuff!). Seven habits failed, time tracking failed, todo lists failed, habit tracking failed, scheduling failed, GTD… was awesome?! Feel like it really saved my life there.

(I took a break from writing here, just weeping over how my life sucked before GTD.)

And then for emotions spending some years on the zafu pillow and in the therapy couch sorting things out.

The truth and the light

In all of those cases, emotion is what led me to my new position, not reason.

Of course, people who have changed their minds about something can get kind of zealous. Sorta like how ex-smokers can be. For me, that’s true in all four of the above cases. I feel like I learned something that was a really difficult and hard-earned lesson, and I wanna pass it on.

This is also why I never got into animal rights. I became vegan so young and never had any meat-goggles on.

Convincing people

Now, don’t misunderstand me: The way to convince people isn’t by saying that they’re emotional and therefore wrong.

Yesterday on Fedi someone (do not go look them up or harass them, please) took issue with me complaining about proof-of-work mining and went on and on with ad hominem attacks. Saying I was illogical, close-minded, uncurious, that I was saying unthinkable things.

Basically that I was all feels over reals.

But, it’s because I have a connection to my emotions that things like “Some mining is done on fossil fuel” and “Mining can make electricity more expensive” are thinkable, and not unthinkable, for me.

There’s no intrinsic value to convincing others or “winning” arguments.

I wanna learn the truth to the best of my knowledge, and I wanna lay it out on the table clearly and straight-forwardly.

The facts are the facts, but we engage with them, sort them, order them with both emotion and reason.

It’s just so easy to trip ourselves up and get all cart-before-horse about this kind of stuff. When we learn new things, we sort them in with all the old things we know and feel.

For people who love the blockchain, or the carnivore diet, or copyright, all discussion of their costs gets tempered by the “it’s worth it, it’s worth it” filter.

As I’ve tried to show in this text, I know that I’m not immune from this either. All I can do is try to learn things and pass on what I learn.

I maintain this collection of essays for two reasons. One, if I find myself wanting to refer to the same standard rant again and again, I want one single place to point to. Two, I wanna document for myself what I learn. I don’t need Zettelkasten, I just grep my blog.♥