How to be Rational about Rationality
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
8.5K80

The funny thing about the article is that it’s content defeats it’s purpose. On one hand, the author says this-

“Rationality is not what has conscious verbalistic explanatory factors; it is only what aids survival, avoids ruin”

And on the other he employs rationality to prove it-

“..whose odds of falling on you that particular night are only 1 in 1,000, you’ll be dead within a few years”

To be ignorant is to be superstitious and to be scientific is to be enlightened.

The author, it appears, has limited understanding of history and theology. Take for instance the following statement-

“It is that people who have religion –a certain religion — have survived”

Now I know that Mr. Taleb doesn’t think rationality is scientific thinking, so let’s call it logical reasoning- Mankind (or Homo-sapiens) are known to have existed for anywhere between 200000 to 400000 years, while religion (if we are to take the oldest ones- Zohrashtrianism and Hindusim) can be dated back to 3000–5000 years. Are we to, therefore, imply that the practices and rituals of pre-religious humanity were fantastically rational and hence essential to our existence?

The fact is that we have survived all these centuries is not “because” of religion but “despite” of religion.

To even suggest that superstition and ignorance prescribed and dictated in ancient religious texts are in some macabre way “rational”, at best shows little to no respect to our collective struggle against religious bullying and bigotry, but at worst highlights intellectual dishonesty.

I would request the author to explain the following using whatever rational definition he feels comfortable-

1- Deaths of hundreds and thousands of our fellow African brothers and sisters as a result of Church’s insistence on rejecting birth control

2- Self-immolation and forced burning of windowed Indian women under the Sati-pratha

3- The customary practice of female genital mutilation among the mostly Shia populations in Africa and Asia

I hope the author would edit the article and clarify his position on religious superstition and the importance of scientific enquiry in matters of moral or ethical injunctions as prescribed in the ancient texts.

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