Julia Galef, host of the Rationally Talking podcast and co-founder of the Heart for Utilized Rationality, shouldn’t be impressed with the hyper-rational Vulcans on Star Trek.
“Spock is held up as this exemplar of logic and cause and rationality, however he’s arrange, for my part, as nearly a weak caricature—a straw man—of cause and rationality, as a result of he retains making all these dumb errors,” Galef says in Episode 462 of the Geek’s Information to the Galaxy podcast. “That’s the present’s manner of proving that, ‘Aha! Logic and cause and rationality aren’t really all that nice.’”
Within the franchise, Spock makes assured predictions primarily based on his superior Vulcan thoughts. Galef was curious to see precisely how usually these predictions pan out. “I went by means of all the Star Trek episodes and flicks—all the transcripts that I might discover—and looked for any occasion by which Spock is utilizing the phrases ‘odds,’ ‘likelihood,’ ‘likelihood,’ ‘positively,’ ‘in all probability,’ and so forth.,” she says. “I catalogued all situations by which Spock made a prediction and that prediction both got here true or didn’t.”
The outcomes, which seem in Galef’s new e-book The Scout Mindset, are devastating. Not solely does Spock have a horrible observe document—occasions he describes as “inconceivable” occur 83 % of the time—however his confidence stage is definitely anti-correlated with actuality. “The extra assured he says he’s that one thing will occur—that the ship will crash, or that they are going to discover survivors—the much less possible it’s to occur, and the much less assured he’s in one thing, the extra possible it’s to occur,” Galef says.
Spock’s greatest weak spot is his failure to know that different folks don’t at all times behave “logically.” He additionally makes no try and replace his strategy, even when his errors get his crewmates killed.
“He’s not a spring rooster,” Galef says. “He’s interacted with non-Vulcans earlier than, and so presumably he’s had numerous alternatives to see that, really, numerous folks don’t behave the way in which he thinks they—rationally —ought to behave. And but he fails to study from these situations of missed predictions as a result of as an alternative he simply shrugs and says, ‘Nicely, the world didn’t behave the way in which it ought to have.’”
Hearken to the whole interview with Julia Galef in Episode 462 of Geek’s Information to the Galaxy (above). And take a look at some highlights from the dialogue under.
Julia Galef on epistemic confidence vs. social confidence:
“We are likely to conflate two various things that we imply by the phrase ‘confidence.’ One in all them I name ‘epistemic confidence,’ and that’s how a lot certainty you might have in your beliefs. Are you one hundred pc sure your organization goes to succeed or are you solely 30 % sure? … After which the opposite kind of confidence is what I name ‘social confidence,’ and that’s about how confident you might be. Do you might have good posture? Do you communicate in a assured tone of voice? Do you exit and take cost and make issues occur? Are you comfy talking in entrance of teams and placing your concepts on the market? And what I realized—each from trying on the few educational research that I really thought had been respectable, after which additionally real-life case research, like Jeff Bezos—is that social confidence is what issues for profitable folks over and getting them to look as much as you and comply with you.”
Julia Galef on established order bias:
“Some folks will argue, ‘No, it’s good that the human lifespan is just about 85 years. Even when we might discover a approach to lengthen that, we shouldn’t.’ And so they have varied causes for why that may be dangerous. ‘If we lived longer, we might get bored’ or ‘If we lived longer, the tempo of change in society can be too sluggish, as a result of social mores and new improvements change by older generations dying out and new generations attending to take their place in society.’ … To check to see whether or not your motivation to defend the present lifespan is partly the results of established order bias, you possibly can think about that an 85-year lifespan was not the established order, and that as an alternative the established order was 170 years. Would you then really feel prefer it was a great factor if that lifespan was minimize in half—all the way down to 85—by some genetic mutation? Would you say, ‘Sure! Now society will begin to change sooner’? Or would you say, ‘No, that is such a tragedy that we used to get to dwell 170 years and now we’re solely dwelling 85 years’? So I believe flipping that round can actually change your intuitions about which lifespan is preferable.”
Julia Galef on the outsider take a look at:
“The thought experiment is to think about an alien simply teleported into your physique—into your place—and is now discovering themselves in your life, confronted with these selections, however with out all the emotional baggage that you’ve got from the truth that you’ve been doing this for years. So the alien is simply asking themselves, ‘Right here I’m. I’m confronted with the choice now of two extra years of grad faculty in trade for this diploma, or doing one thing else. Which appears higher to me?’ Imagining how this alien in your place would select—or how the selection would appear to them—I believe generally is a good approach to strip away all of that baggage and see what looks like the perfect factor to do within the scenario, setting apart the truth that it’s me.”
Julia Galef on the Batman TV present:
“I used to be a 17-year-old, and I believed that this was what folks within the ’60s thought-about a critical journey present, a critical drama. So I simply felt very superior to them—’I can see how tacky that is, as a result of I’m refined, however these folks within the ’60s had been too unsophisticated to know the way dumb this all is.’ And I believe I mentioned as a lot to some folks—I referenced how unsophisticated folks within the ’60s had been—and sooner or later somebody mentioned to me, ‘You understand, Julia, it was at all times supposed as camp. Everybody watching within the ’60s noticed it in the identical cheeseball manner as you noticed it.’ … And after they defined that, it was apparent to me, and I used to be form of shaken that I had assumed that individuals within the ’60s could possibly be so silly, and that that didn’t appear shocking to me, and I didn’t query it.”