Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Circuit Board Of Mental Excellence


Minds are perhaps best thought of like circuit boards - and a coherent, consistent, accurate worldview is represented by a set of small lights that all stay illuminated in conjunction with truth and facts. Information, in the form of propositions, is like enlarging the circuit board, and increasing the assembly of data circuits and the copper that delivers electricity to illuminate the lights.

The size of the light display depends on the dimensions of the worldview, which itself primarily depends on the time, effort and intellectual rigour put in to the process of building a larger and larger circuit board that can facilitate an ever-increasing light display. A genius polymath may have a light display about the size of a football field; a highly intelligent polymath may have one about the size of a tennis court; and an average person may have one about the size of a small back garden.

Now here's the key thing. You can increase the dimensions of the light display by learning more, and by increasing the connectivity of your mental artillery - and to some extent, most people do this on their life journey. But what they don't do enough is stand back and check the light display to see how many of the bulbs have gone out. Nor do they step back and observe clusters of light patterns that have gaps because the additional bulbs required to illuminate the pattern more comprehensively are missing.

A large, light display with all the bulbs illuminated is extremely rare - but it ought to be the primary objective for anyone who strives for truth, facts, proficiency of reasoning and excellence of mind. The beauty of the light display is that its consistency of illumination is exhibition to the fact that one's ideas, thoughts, views and propositions fit nicely into the rest of the circuit board of experience. If you keep getting things right, the new beliefs operate consistently with the structural workings of the circuit board, not disrupting the electricity to other items on the board. But if you get things wrong, and introduce faulty viewpoints into the equation, you disrupt the electricity flow, both to local illumination clusters, but also to isolated bulbs elsewhere in the display.

Naturally, given the complexity of the mind, and the complexity of everything there is to know, and the near infinite ways to perceive reality, this is a really epistemologically intractable model of analysis. But it isn't that difficult to identify practical examples of how the malfunctioning of the circuit board may occur, as most people host mutually contradictory or incongruent ideas, especially due to identity-based dispositions, cognitive biases, emotional self-preservation and propensities for over-simplicity.

For example, suppose you're a Christian with a fairly comprehensive understanding of scripture, but because of your upbringing you've been infected with the cultural virus of young earth creationism, with a limited recourse for correctives. The cluster of lights pertaining to Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics is going to be affected as the connection between the conductors supplying the electrical power will be shorted. The high current flow of falsity will put out some of the theological lights, and prevent other bulbs from being added to the cluster. This will mean others see you as a Christian with inadequacies in several areas of discourse - especially when it comes to Biblical interpretation of text and other related areas of science and how the edifice operates and functions - which will have a corollary effect on the consistency of your worldview, and on the impression and influence you have on the world as a Christian.

Here's another example. Suppose you're quite economically and politically astute, but you become duped into believing that there is a systematically unfair gender pay gap in the UK, or that price controls on housing might alleviate the shortage. As with the first example, your circuit board will be negatively impacted, lights will go out in various areas across the display, and there will be patches in the clusters that never get the bulbs required for a full illumination of the pattern. You might start believing that price controls in other areas of the economy will start to do some further good; or you might start over-exaggerating the extent to which climate change alarmism is fruitful; or you might take your eye of the principles behind the law of least effort; or you might develop too much a victim-mentality, and so forth.

I could offer loads more examples, but I think the gist of this is crystal clear: there is always a price to pay for bad ideas, false beliefs and inadequate reasoning - and these things infect; first at the individual level, then at the familial level, then at the community level, and then more widely across societies and even nations as falsehoods spread memetically.

By equal measure, though, there are always rewards for building a prodigious circuit board that provides the power to a fully illuminated light display that consistently, coherently, factually and truthfully supports the ideas, views and beliefs associated with all the major and minor subjects, and the interconnectedness between them all. In fact, I'll take it further: there is no better way to live, and no more rewarding and no more necessary and no more morally and intellectually compelled pursuits for any human being.
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