How to Find Friends! Transcript

Introduction and Warm-up

[0:00] Good morning, everybody. Hope you're doing well. It's Der Stefanovich, and it's only February the 4th, just a little bit before the 11 o'clock show.
I wanted to do a little bit of voice warm-up and also answer some questions.
So here they are from freedomain.locals.com. How would you define cerebral, and how is cerebral different from intellectual?
The question is, how would you define cerebral and how is cerebral different from intellectual so this is interesting so when i was a younger man a young man i would play a game like i did a lot of manual labor and, i'd need something to intellectualize something to occupy my mind so what i would do is i would say well here are two words that are that seem like synonyms why are there two different words words, right?
I mean, it was an interesting game for me to sort of slice and dice language and figure out why there are two different words.
So initially I was like, who cares? This is a ridiculous question.
It's so unimportant. But then I thought, okay, well, this is actually similar to the game I used to play when I was younger about taking two different words and, figuring out, or two similar words and figuring out why we had to have two different words.
But so there is cerebral and there is intellectual.

[1:22] So cerebral, of course, refers to actions of the brain.
And it generally tends to be, I think, refers more to platonic stuff that's within the brain, imagination and reflections, ruminations, memories, insights, and so on. So it goes on within the brain.

[1:39] Intellectual tends to be interacting with other people's brains.
So, intellectual reads books on philosophy and psychology and history and so on.
So, cerebral, I think, has to do with self-reflection, interacting with your own brain.
And intellectual usually has to do with interacting with other people's brains, for better or for worse.
So, I think that's why there are...

Navigating Relationships with Irrational and Immoral Norms

[2:01] So, okay, let's see here. How do you arbitrate? Asks someone.
I would, for example, consider it humiliating and depressing to marry a statist.
But if I take the same attitude with every relationship, I will have no relationships.
How do you navigate making friends, co-workers, dates, and foo relationships with people when the norm is irrational and immoral?
Well, is that the norm? Is that the norm? Irrational and immoral?
I don't think so. I don't think so.
If you find everyone around you irrational and immoral, well, you just might need to change your social circle up a little bit.
There are plenty of decent people out in the world. Now, most people, of course, because universally preferable behavior, the rational proof of secular ethics, it's kind of a new thing, right, because it's kind of a new thing.
Most people aren't moral because they have a sort of deep understanding of objective rational ethics or anything like that, but that doesn't mean that it's impossible for them to be moral, right?

[2:56] So, let's sort of take an example, right? This is a silly example, but just use it to illustrate a point.
So, let's say that there is an ancient culture that says, if you don't commune with the sun god, you're likely to be sad, because you are not communing with the sun god, right?
And they say, go commune with the sun god, make it a daily practice, and your life will be better and happier, right? Okay.

[3:21] So, communing with the sun god, I assume, means kneeling in the sunshine or spreading your arms wide in the sunshine or something like that, right?
So this belief, commune with the sun god, it will cure your unhappiness, it will make you happier and healthier.
The sun god bestows his blessings when you expose yourself to the sun.
Well, of course, that gives you vitamin D and all these other kinds of things.
And there's lots of good, I mean, I sort of read articles, I don't know whether it's true or not, of course, but I've read articles about how we've been kind of scared away from the sun, sun, whereas a healthy amount of sun exposure is actually quite good for us.
And isn't there SAD, seasonal affective disorder, when people who get sad, if they don't get any sun exposure over the winter months and so on.
So if we were to go to this culture, would we say, oh, this culture is crazy.
They don't have any sense of medicine or health. They don't have any discipline.
But they have evolved over time to notice that if you spend time.

[4:19] I mean, they They call it commuting with the sun god, whatever they call it.
If you spend time out in sunshine, that's good.
That's good, right? Now, they've noticed this. They've made it a superstition.
But, I mean, this is the question between progressivism and conservatism, right?
Which is, the progressives would say, the secularists would say, right?
Skeptic would say, well, there is no such thing as a sun god.
So there's no such thing as communing with the sun god, and therefore to go outside to commune with the sun god is ridiculous because the sun god is not conferring his infinite, immortal blessing upon you, and therefore...

[5:05] Going outside to commune with the sun god is ridiculous, so don't do it, right? And then they end up depressed.
So that's the big challenge, right? So beliefs over a long period of time tend to have evolved for some kind of purpose.
I mean, there must be productivity, particularly in widespread beliefs, otherwise they wouldn't be widespread. It must be something. It must be something.

[5:25] So that's the big question with morality, is that morality has evolved over tens of thousands of years, and the general don't murder, don't steal, don't rape.
You know, I mean, certainly in many, many cultures that has evolved as kind of a norm.
In many cultures it hasn't for various reasons, but certainly in the West that's been a norm for a very long time.
So is it possible to say, let's say you're surrounded by people who believe in communing with the sun god, is it possible to say these are irrational people people who are very superstitious and have no idea about health.
They have no scientific backing for communing with the sun god, and therefore I won't learn anything from them, I'll have nothing to do with them, and I won't follow their silly practices.
Okay, well, then you stay in, you don't get your vitamin D, you don't get your sunshine, you don't get your fresh air, at least based upon a daily ritual or whatever, right?
You know, there are people who meditate, and maybe they believe some pretty mystical things, Like you're communing with some larger spirit, you're, you know, I don't know, astral travel at the extremes and so on.

[6:40] But those who do meditate are often happier and calmer and so on, right?
So, I mean, this is a phrase that I learned pretty early on.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?
Which is, well, the bathwater is used. You've got a baby in the bathtub and you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. And so you don't throw the wisdom out with the irrational beliefs, right?
You don't throw the wisdom out with the irrational beliefs.

[7:10] You don't get rid of something until and unless you know how it evolved, why it evolved, why it spread, why it's prevalent, right?
I mentioned this before, but there's sort of two examples. One is just a general principle, which says, if you find a small piece of fencing in the middle of a field.

[7:30] And you say, well, this fence doesn't connect to anything. It must just be some weird leftover.
And you just tear it out without trying to figure out why it was there.
Looking into the history, what's the purpose of it?
Maybe there's some crazy bull in that field that you need a fence to hide behind.
And it doesn't need to be wide because it's just to protect you from the bull's charge. Whatever you could. Maybe it's to mark up a spot of buried treasure.
It could be any number of things, right?
Maybe it's a marker for where somebody died.
Very sentimental. and it could be it could be any number of things right maybe it was the last piece of fencing that a guy's beloved grandfather was working on and it was left up there as testament.

[8:09] Before he died he was working on this piece of fence so there could be until you know why the little piece of fencing is out there in the field you don't just rip it up you gotta know, what it was the progressive thing as well this this fence makes no sense and right now of course if you don't care about this guy's grandfather you bought the land or something think it maybe it makes sense to you know it might say you're not going to have a ball in that field yeah but you need to know what it was there for and the other i remember sort of very vividly was it was some microsoft manager at microsoft talking about managing the code in word this is sort of i don't know 30 years ago whatever right and he said you know there's some scrap of code you can't figure out what it's for it doesn't really seem to make any sense and you're like well we gotta You've got to clean up the code. We've got to pull the code.
And then you find out that the code is to store the file in memory if it's being written to a floppy disk and someone pulls out the floppy disk halfway through.

Repurposing code and the question of purpose

[9:08] And so until you know what the purpose of the code is, now you would repurpose it for a USB drive. I mean, there still are floppy disks.
You can actually get floppy disks that go in through the USB port or whatever.
I guess to access your old floppy disks.
But the question is, you don't toast it until you know what it's for, and you don't assume irrationality of effect just because there's irrationality of explanation.
Hear me out on this, it's really, really important. You don't assume irrationality of effect if there is irrationality in explanation.
So if you have some healers who are trained to, I don't know, pull bits of whatever bad stuff got into someone's skin or it's a wound or something and pull out an arrowhead.
You've got healers, and the healers say that I must purify my hands with soap in homage to the God that we worship.
I must purify my hands with soap so that I don't transfer my sins to the other person.

The evolution of irrational beliefs and their pragmatic outcomes

[10:24] Why would something evolve in that kind of way? Well, because throughout most of our history, our intellect would be considered akin to a child's.
Now, when I was a kid, I was told to brush my teeth because if I didn't, dancing sugar fairies would roam around my tooth, cracking my enamel, whatever stuff I was told about.

[10:43] Because children remember things in sort of story-ish format.
And so what happened was some guy just happened to wash his hands and everyone noticed that the infections went down. if he washed his hands before dealing with somebody's wound, and people noticed the infections went down.
Now, they couldn't explain this, even though germ theory until the 19th century, so they couldn't explain this, but they knew that the practice had to continue, even though they couldn't understand the practice, right? Do you follow?
They knew that the hand washing had to continue, even though they had no way of understanding the biological mechanics of the hand washing.
And so they had to translate it into something that could be explained and enforced and so they would say well clearly the god we worship values washing your hands and confers the blessing of non-infection on the wounded if you wash your hands so it's a blessing it's obsequious to the a god, it is, right?

The battle between rational and superstitious explanations

[11:43] All this kind of stuff, right?
And this way, the practice, while not understood in, obviously, reason, and impossible to understand in reason, you can't see germs, right? You need the microscope and all.
So, the practice, which is beneficial, continues because it has pragmatic, positive outcomes.

[12:02] Even though the explanation is not rational, right?
There is no local tribal god who confers the blessings of non-infection on the bodies of those who wash their hands, right?
You just wash your hands, you get rid of your own germs, and then especially if you wash your hands afterwards, right? It's just, obviously, you know, it's better, right?

[12:24] So what you're doing, if you feel that you're surrounded by people who don't have rational beliefs, beliefs, what you're doing is you are mistaking the explanation for the wisdom.

[12:36] You're mistaking the explanation for the wisdom. So, of course, again, there's sort of modern secularists, a lot of atheists and so on, they come forward and they say, well, you know, there's no such thing as a God that confers the blessing of non-infection because of this silly ritual, so we don't need to do this ritual anymore, right?
Rather than say, well, why is there this ritual?
Or, you know, if they really are, I guess, secular, rational, scientific atheists or whatever, they would say, well, okay, this practice has been around for a long time, and we really should try and figure this out.
Let's try not washing, like we can try an experiment. Let's try not washing our hands, and then washing our hands.
And then they would very quickly see that the people who didn't wash their hands infected their patients much more, or the patients, and we We would say that the patients of those who didn't wash their hands got far greater infections.
Now, then they would be resentful because they can't explain it.
I mean, let's say this is sort of pre-germ theory. They can't explain it, but it seems to work.
So then they get into a battle with the religious people, right?
The superstitious people who believe in the local God.
And the superstitious people would say, Aha, you see, this is proof that our God confers a blessing on the ritual of hand purification.
And the atheists would say, well, that's crazy. crazy.

[13:54] But they can't explain it. And it challenges their worldview.
People get into all these kinds of battles all the time.

[14:02] Now, of course, let's say that you prefer, quote, reasonable person to an unreasonable person.
You prefer a materialist to somebody who's superstitious, right?
And let's say that you are in this tribe and you get accidentally shot with an arrow and you have a pretty bad wound.
And do you want to be treated by the healer who has the irrational belief in hand purification, at least in the reason for the hand purification?

[14:32] Do you want to be treated by the healer who washes his hands because he believes in the superstitious purification ritual?
Or do you want to be treated by the healer who doesn't wash his hands because he scorns all manner of superstition? You see what I'm saying?
Do you want people who've abandoned positive outcomes based on irrational thinking?

The dilemma of rationality vs. positive outcomes

[14:57] Or do you want people who abandon those positive outcomes because those positive outcomes are based on irrational thinking? Right?
If you go to, say, a religious therapist, and the religious therapist says that what you need to do is to pray for guidance and surrender yourself to a higher power.
Vow now of course i made this whole argument in against the gods that to to pray let's say just from the secular standpoint right to pray to a god is to commune with your unconscious you're sort of perceived and received instincts and wisdom from four billion years of evolution to surrender yourself to a higher power to surrender yourself to your instincts to you know all all of the challenging dreams where our unconscious is trying to warn us and protect and help us and guide us and so on, right?

[15:49] And let's say that when you commune with your unconscious, or you commune with the higher power, that you get good advice and good results and good instincts, and you make better decisions and so on, right?
Or you have an atheist therapist who doesn't tell you to do that, and says that you need to overcome your own internal bigotries and whatever, like just basically puts you through a struggle session or something like that, right?
Okay, so who's better for you?

The value of good people for the right reasons

[16:19] The right action for the wrong reason or the wrong action through rejection of the wrong reason, right so this is i think pretty pretty foundational to your life so in general i mean of course if you're looking for people who are purely rational from the ground up and and perfectly understand upb and enact it in all circumstances well i mean that ain't even me if that's any consolation i I gave up with the theory, right? That ain't even me.
So, or if you do, if you say, okay, well, I want people who are good, and given that UPB is still in its infancy, I mean, in sort of the history of philosophy terms, you want people who are good and committed to virtue and committed to universalism and are willing to make sacrifices for their virtues and values.
Well, that in general is Christians.
I mean, I shouldn't say right, like that's some sort of proof, but that's certainly been my experience.

[17:18] So, I mean, this is the whole question of the vaccine and the question of a sort of wide variety of other things in modern culture.

[17:26] Where the Christians, we can say, made the right decisions for reasons that wouldn't pass 100% rational and empirical philosophical muster.
Whereas all of the people who were devoted to quote reason and evidence and science and so on made the wrong decisions in many ways right or certainly didn't have good foundations for making the decisions that they made if you have the purity test you will be isolated whereas if you have the good people for whatever reason right there are no there are looking for people who who are good for all the right reasons, is like needle in a haystack.

High standards as a form of vanity display

[18:13] It's that whole song, mirror in the bathroom, please talk free.
Needle in a haystack. So you want to look for good people and accept the wisdom that they have.
But if you're going to throw everyone out because they don't have fully fleshed rational and empirical reasons for their beliefs, you're going to be isolated.
And it's also vain, right, in my view.
It's vain because everyone who has high standards automatically, I mean, axiomatically assumes that they pass those standards, right?

[18:47] Everybody who has high standards, like having high standards is a form of vanity display, right?
So having high standards, and listen, I'm not saying don't have high standards.
I'm just saying that some high standards can be a form of vanity display, right?
I mean, everybody's seen these sort of memes of, you know, the moment he's like, I got two kids by two different dads, but I need a guy who's, you know, 6'6", 6'6", 6'0 tall, 6-pack, 6-figure income.
He's got to take care of my kids, got to have 200 grand in the bank, got to have a house with four to five bedrooms, got all this, right? Right?
So, having those kinds of high standards is just a vanity display.
So, having these super high standards is a form of feeling superior.

The Complexity of Human Nature and Constant Change

[19:28] I'm not perfectly rational. My gosh, I wouldn't even know what that would mean.
I mean, I certainly, you know, I strive towards reason. I used to, I strive towards empiricism. I strive towards self-knowledge.
But, you know, I mean, people are very complex. I'm very complex.
You're very complex. Life is changing.
Circumstances are altering and society is doing its various upgrades and downgrades and the economy is this and COVID was that and what we learned about people through that process was that, right? So, I mean, this thing's constantly changing.
It's like parenting, right? I mean, parenting someone who's in their mid-teens is very different from parenting someone who's 10 or 5.
So, and you know, You age, and parents get sick, and there's lots of things that happen that are a real challenge, and life is a constant kaleidoscope of new information and new circumstances and accumulated wisdom and both the gathering of new wisdom and the casting off of wisdom that's no longer relevant due to aging and also the casting off of wisdom that you thought was wisdom that turns out to be unwise.

Adjusting Perspectives and Accepting Empirical Information

[20:34] I mean, we're kind of in a constant flux, So I don't even know what perfectly rational would even mean, but certainly I strive for it and aim for it and all of that.

[20:44] I've certainly aged out and I think reasoned out of some of the punchiness that I had when I was younger, which I don't regret or anything, but for me, the acceptance and I was more punchy when I was younger because I thought people would just listen to reason and if they didn't, it would be annoying.
But now I sort of accept that people don't listen so much to reason and I have to be an empiricist, right?
So there's no point getting mad at people for things that they don't do as a I mean, you can, but it's empirical.
Empirical information is very interesting. So I adjust as I go forward.
So if you're saying, well, everyone around me has to be perfectly rational.
I'm not saying that's what you're saying, but you're saying, well, there are all these people who don't believe these super rational things and so on. And yeah, I accept that.
And again, I would be one of them from time to time and maybe even more from time to time. But if you're saying no one's up to scratch, you're saying that you are superior.
Nobody meets my lofty standards. Nobody passes the high bar of my faction.
And so you can have that splendid isolation of being the only perfect person in the known universe.

[21:58] Wouldn't take that approach myself because we are social beings right we're social beings we need a community in general tends to be healthy we need people to watch our backs and help keep us rational because in isolation we generally go crazy like in isolation we generally go crazy because we we have offloaded our reality processing i mean it's why we have such a vivid inner life as we we've offloaded some portion of our reality processing to those around us, and in the same way we have eyes in the front of our head because we don't generally hunt solo.

[22:31] Right i mean if you're hunting and any kind of pack animal the fear is that, as you focus on the guy ahead of you they're going to gang up behind you right and i maybe there are people who there of course there are tribes i'm sure that hunt solo but i think a lot of it is is a group hunter gatherers hunters gatherers anyway and so we've been able to focus so much and this is generally true of predator species right we've been able to focus so much on what's ahead of us because we've had people watching what's behind us right back to back, back to back they faced each other drew their swords and shot each other there was some nonsense, poem when i was a kid sorry total tangent but and and we've been able to be so introspective which has been great for our creativity and imagination, because we've offloaded some of our reality processing to other people.
And so alone, we tend to fall into ourselves and become solipsistic and self-referential, and we lose our capacity to relate to others, and we, to some degree, lose our capacity to process reality.
We are not isolated reality processors.
We are social reality processors.

The Importance of Social Interaction for Rationality

[23:39] And certainly when it comes to reading, I mean, even reading books is a form of that, though it's not quite as good as conversation.
So if you say, well, I'm the most rational, and I'm super great that way, then you will have a lofty standard which will exclude others, but excluding others will harm your capacity to be rational, because they can't, I mean, people who care about you, who think deeply, who will give you feedback, and so on, so they tend to not work at all.
I'm a rock, I'm an island, no man is an island, I'm involved in all all mankind.
I mean, there's some real truth in that. We are social animals, that we know, right?
So the life of splendid isolation tends to be a form of reality decay, because you don't have other people.
Like, I mean, you can go hunting on your own, and then eventually some wolf is going to take you down from behind, because you can't see that way.
So I hope that helps, and I really, really appreciate these great, great questions.
It's a wonderful way for me to start my day, and I guess I'll see you soon when it comes to the 11 o'clock show. show. All right.
Lots of love from up here, freedemand.com slash donate to help out the show.
I'd really appreciate that. And I'll talk to you soon. Bye.

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