comment by Dustin ·
2012-04-21T01:06:22.012Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
ETA: Whoa, typing this as a stream of thought didn't help me grasp how long the comment was becoming!
ETA2: To be clear, I recognize the difference between not doing something and not being aware you're doing something.
I missed this thread when it was originally posted, but anyway...
I'm going to try something that has helped me in the past with these sorts of things. I'm going to write my thoughts as they occur. I've found this helps other peek into my mental state a bit.
Of all the examples of rationalization in this thread, I have no recollection of doing any of them or any of the type.
I often do things that I shouldn't if I want to reach my goals, but I don't have any sort of urge to rationalize them. For example, I like soda. I go through cycles where I really try to stop drinking so much, but I have no recollection of trying to rationalize the drinking of soda.
When I do things that I probably shouldn't, I just accept the fact that one part of my brain wants something that I don't want, or will wish that I didn't want. When I say I "accept the fact", that doesn't mean it doesn't have any sort of emotional impact. I'll kick myself for it. I spend a lot of time with this constant low-level background self-kicking emotion.
When I spend too much time on the internet, I can't say I'm even tempted to make an argument to myself that it's a good idea.
I can think of a bunch of examples where I fail to meet whatever standard I wish I could live up to, but I don't.
For what it's worth, I would classify myself as a very rational person...certainly the most rational person amongst those I've met in real life and known well enough to attempt to classify their rationality level. I'm not positive how much that means, since I live in a rural area and off-hand I can't recall knowing a single person who would even be interested in most of what is talked about on LW.
I'm actually really glad to see this posted. I've often thought about how I don't quite understand how the Litany of Tarski would help me. I'm constantly waffling back and forth between thinking that I must not rationalize, or I'm really bad at noticing it.
Now, another thing comes to mind. I assume we're talking about internal rationalization. I will occasionally present a rationalization for bad behavior to others who call me on it. Like if I'm in a phase where I've given up trying to cut out soda drinking, and my wife raises her eyebrow at me buying a 32 oz Dr. Pepper at the gas station, I may spit out some rationalization. I'm completely aware at the time that I'm just using a placation in a (futile) attempt to placate her.
Just now ... reading over the Litany again ... I can see the point of "Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.". I can feel that attachment to various ideas and beliefs. I just can't say with any level of confidence that I've ever tried to fool myself into sticking with one of those ideas longer than I should.
Ooo. I just had another thought. Does timescale come in to play? I think I've offered explanations to myself or to others, that, as I thought/conversed about them more, I decided I didn't believe in that explanation. It's possible those explanations originally came out of whatever part of my mind that rationalizations come out of. I don't know. The reason I started this paragraph off asking about timescales, when I'm thinking about something I'm fairly confident that I hold these "explanations" for very short amounts of time relative to the evidence available, but I can't say whether I hold them longer than I should.
I think rationalizations offered to others are more tricky. Is the Litany supposed to cover efficient argumentation? Like I mentioned in the example about my wife and soda, there's social and emotional reasons that someone would proffer a rationalization for longer than they "should". Sometimes, in an argument, I may stick to a rationalization without even realizing it. That realization always comes to me as soon as the social/emotional aspects of the argument have passed.
I'm not sure how much of that is rationalization, and how much of it is just reasoning myself to a conclusion.
Anyway, hopefully that offered some insight into the mind of someone who doesn't recall rationalizing.