I’m currently on a thinking spree. I think I’ll try catching my thoughts here. Might be interesting for anyone involved.
So, first observation: I think there’s something peculiar about me. I’ve finally become comfortable with seeing myself as higher level rationalist.
I define the level of rationalism as the number of boundary conditions that a rationalist considers when making decisions. The more messy real-life boundary conditions are respected, the higher the level of rationality.
Low level rationalists usually ignore a lot of relevant, but often subtle and hard to formalize, boundary conditions, which may be the reason why low level rationalists haven’t taken over the world, yet :
The funny thing is that high level rationality often looks like normality or irrationality, especially from the point of view of low level rationalists.
So, high level rationalists are like stealth rationalists. They are hard to detect. I suspect that a lot of surprisingly successful people are higher level rationalists, but they don’t communicate their “secret skills” to a wide audience.
Anyway, I’m not claiming that I am an exceptionally good higher level rationalist. Sometimes I catch myself being actually irrational. But it seems I’m slowly getting better.
Also, I need to improve my communications skills. Sometimes when I’m in a conversation I really don’t want to be in, I end up in communicational failure modes. But at least I am aware of that.
Problem detection and analysis are perhaps the most important parts of solving problems. Once you’ve properly found and analysed a problem, you can apply all tricks in any book on it. Before that phase, you are blindly stumbling in the forest, at night, in a snowstorm, naked, … you get the picture.
Empiricism has for me proven to be empirically superior to any other trick in the book.
Theories are useful, but in reality empiricism beats the hell out of any theory.
That’s also why I am not easily convinced by arguments that sound rational, logical, or reasonable. Such arguments are so lower level rationality.
Of course the best of all worlds is fully understanding something and having all empirical evidence in your favour. But we are rarely in that best of worlds.
Anyway, I guess I have discovered a potential pattern of how system transitions in the history of human civilization happen.
First there is a knowledge revolution, then there is an economic revolution, then there is a societal revolution.
First System transition: Neolithic revolution:
A. Knowledge revolution: Find out how growing crops works
B. Economic revolution: Become sedentary and do agriculture and animal husbandry.
C. Societal revolution: Big fat hierarchical societies with a king on top and some “aristocracy” below which sometimes does useful thinking and enables progress. Messy, but at that early stage this setup seemed to have worked best.
Second System transition: Industrial revolution:
A. Knowledge revolution: Printing press allows for wide dissemination of knowledge.
B. Economic revolution: Steam power and subsequent enhanced energy generation techniques enabling modern centralised capitalism
C: Societal revolution: Democracy and modern nation states. Also bureaucracy. Less rule by crazy monarchs.
Third system transition: Network revolution:
A. Knowledge revolution: Internet, world wide web, wikipedia (done)
B. Economic revolution: solar power; cryptocurrencies; decentralised autonomic organisations; reputation economy enabling digital abundance (in progress); nanotech; AI;
C: Societal revolution: More flexible and voluntary governance; democracy 2.0; swarm intelligence; neurocracy (governance working on the principles of how the human brain works).
If you try to do the revolutions in the wrong order, it doesn’t seem to work, because the requirements for the next step aren’t there, yet.
So, we need to focus on the economic revolution at the moment. Because that’s the stage we are currently in, and which requires foundational work to be done, before we can succeed at a deep societal revolution.