Turns Out, Spock Is Kinda Bad at Logic

Julia Galef, host of the Rationally Speaking podcast and co-founder of the Middle for Utilized Rationality, will not be impressed with the hyper-rational Vulcans on Star Trek.

“Spock is held up as this exemplar of logic and motive and rationality, however he’s arrange, for my part, as nearly a weak caricature—a straw man—of motive and rationality, as a result of he retains making all these dumb errors,” Galef says in Episode 462 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “That’s the present’s approach of proving that, ‘Aha! Logic and motive and rationality aren’t truly all that nice.’”

Within the franchise, Spock makes assured predictions based mostly on his superior Vulcan thoughts. Galef was curious to see precisely how usually these predictions pan out. “I went by the entire Star Trek episodes and films—the entire transcripts that I may discover—and looked for any occasion by which Spock is utilizing the phrases ‘odds,’ ‘likelihood,’ ‘probability,’ ‘undoubtedly,’ ‘in all probability,’ and so forth.,” she says. “I catalogued all cases by which Spock made a prediction and that prediction both got here true or didn’t.”

The outcomes, which seem in Galef’s new e-book The Scout Mindset, are devastating. Not solely does Spock have a horrible observe document—occasions he describes as “not possible” occur 83 % of the time—however his confidence degree is definitely anti-correlated with actuality. “The extra assured he says he’s that one thing will occur—that the ship will crash, or that they may discover survivors—the much less seemingly it’s to occur, and the much less assured he’s in one thing, the extra seemingly it’s to occur,” Galef says.

Spock’s largest weak point is his failure to know that different individuals don’t at all times behave “logically.” He additionally makes no try and replace his method, even when his errors get his crewmates killed.

“He’s not a spring hen,” Galef says. “He’s interacted with non-Vulcans earlier than, and so presumably he’s had a lot of alternatives to see that, truly, a lot of individuals don’t behave the best way he thinks they—rationally —ought to behave. And but he fails to be taught from these cases of missed predictions as a result of as an alternative he simply shrugs and says, ‘Effectively, the world didn’t behave the best way it ought to have.’”

Take heed to the whole interview with Julia Galef in Episode 462 of Geek’s Information to the Galaxy (above). And take a look at some highlights from the dialogue under.

Julia Galef on epistemic confidence vs. social confidence:

“We are likely to conflate two various things that we imply by the phrase ‘confidence.’ One among them I name ‘epistemic confidence,’ and that’s how a lot certainty you will have in your beliefs. Are you one hundred pc sure your organization goes to succeed or are you solely 30 % sure? … After which the opposite kind of confidence is what I name ‘social confidence,’ and that’s about how confident you’re. Do you will have good posture? Do you converse in a assured tone of voice? Do you exit and take cost and make issues occur? Are you snug talking in entrance of teams and placing your concepts on the market? And what I realized—each from wanting at the few educational research that I truly thought had been first rate, after which additionally wanting at real-life case research, like Jeff Bezos—is that social confidence is what issues for profitable individuals over and getting them to look as much as you and observe you.”

Julia Galef on established order bias:

“Some individuals will argue, ‘No, it’s good that the human lifespan is simply about 85 years. Even when we may discover a strategy to lengthen that, we shouldn’t.’ They usually have numerous causes for why that may be unhealthy. ‘If we lived longer, we might get bored’ or ‘If we lived longer, the tempo of change in society can be too gradual, as a result of social mores and new improvements change by older generations dying out and new generations attending to take their place in society.’ … To check to see whether or not your motivation to defend the present lifespan is partly the results of established order bias, you may think about that an 85-year lifespan was not the established order, and that as an alternative the established order was 170 years. Would you then really feel prefer it was a great factor if that lifespan was minimize in half—all the way down to 85—by some genetic mutation? Would you say, ‘Sure! Now society will begin to change quicker’? Or would you say, ‘No, that is such a tragedy that we used to get to reside 170 years and now we’re solely residing 85 years’? So I believe flipping that round can actually change your intuitions about which lifespan is preferable.”

Julia Galef on the outsider check:

“The thought experiment is to think about an alien simply teleported into your physique—into your place—and is now discovering themselves in your life, confronted with these choices, however with out the entire emotional baggage that you’ve from the truth that you’ve been doing this for years. So the alien is simply asking themselves, ‘Right here I’m. I’m confronted with the choice now of two extra years of grad faculty in trade for this diploma, or doing one thing else. Which appears higher to me?’ Imagining how this alien in your place would select—or how the selection would appear to them—I believe is usually a good strategy to strip away all of that baggage and see what looks like the very best factor to do within the state of affairs, setting apart the truth that it’s me.”

Julia Galef on the Batman TV present:

“I used to be a 17-year-old, and I assumed that this was what individuals within the ’60s thought-about a severe journey present, a severe drama. So I simply felt very superior to them—’I can see how tacky that is, as a result of I’m subtle, however these individuals within the ’60s had been too unsophisticated to know the way dumb this all is.’ And I believe I mentioned as a lot to some individuals—I referenced how unsophisticated individuals within the ’60s had been—and at some level somebody mentioned to me, ‘, Julia, it was at all times supposed as camp. Everybody watching within the ’60s noticed it in the identical cheeseball approach as you noticed it.’ … And after they defined that, it was apparent to me, and I used to be sort of shaken that I had assumed that individuals within the ’60s might be so silly, and that that didn’t appear stunning to me, and I didn’t query it.”

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