How do you feel about irrationality?
Some people feel that anything which is irrational must be wrong. Others just see it as a symptom of how far logic has to come before it really lines up with reality. Still others think of irrationality as good exercise for the mind, but not something that, perhaps, we should be building public policy on.
I’m in some version of the third camp. I think that rational intellect isn’t even remotely enough to get by on in this world, and that a lot of valuable things aren’t logical in their natures — man’s love for his housecats, for instance, or the need to spend time appreciating nature, or to create art. (That’s not to say those things don’t have rational components, but taken as a whole they, and other things too, just aren’t "rational". They don’t originate with, or follow the rules of, the logical mind.)
However, when people act in a group, rationality is the best thing we have to keep us from that deadliest of stupidities, the Mob Mentality. If we want to be more than just bloodthirsty animals, we must insist that our public actions follow the rules of logic, and that the arguments we use to support those actions are valid. Of course, step one in maintaining a valid argument is that it must be routinely questioned and poked at and searched for holes, and there, I think, is where we tend to fall short.
So if nobody minds terribly, I’d like to do a little Irrationality Worship on this site now and again — And I mean two types of Irrationality Worship, really. One is worship of the good things which are irrational (and maybe we can look into why they’re not seen as making logical sense, and if perhaps that is a deficiency of logic in that case). And the other is to show up some obviously irrational things that are going on in the world, in places where there is no good place for irrationality, like in law and public policy. Even if some or all of those are things that I personally can’t do anything about, it’ll be nice to catalog the examples and have them at hand, for, I dunno, later. You never know. ;)
With regard to Bad Irrationality, I’ve almost always found that the best cases can be stated simply. It may take more explication to cover every way in which they’re logically fallacious (gah, don’t you love that word? I do!), but usually it only takes a second to see the actual hole in the thinking.
I’ve been meaning to make this post for a while, but it took me finding this great example to really kick it off with. Commentary welcome as always, but certainly not required. And happy Sunday, all!