Seminar for paid subscribers
meeting at 8 PM New York time on 11/15
The microphone will be open from 8-9 PM NY time for the guys who applied and got in to the seminar. As we have the last couple of weeks, we will open up the mike at 9 PM to any paid subscriber who attends.
The goal tonight is to tighten up the description of the problem that we are talking about. Try to define the terms “institution” and “rationality” and ask what it means for an institution to be rational. I’ll write down a few of my thoughts. I want to hear yours during the seminar.
I think of institutions as the formal part of culture—the part that is articulated and in which certain people play explicit roles with defined responsibilities. The informal part of culture consists of habits and norms, with no one in charge. Posted speed limits are formal. Actual driving speeds are informal.
In a comment on an earlier post, Handle wrote that “irrationality” does not exactly describe the problem with institutions. Perhaps they have become corrupt. Perhaps they have become evil.
I arrived at “irrationality” by noting that so many books that came out this year speak to the issue of human rationality. And rationality (or lack thereof) is embedded in culture and institutions.
Pinker says that rationality is the use of knowledge to try to obtain a goal. Galef contrasts scout mindset with soldier mindset.
I am tempted to say that the problem I have with key institutions is that they have shifted from scout mindset to soldier mindset. If so, are they being irrational? Or should we call it something else?