rationalizing rationality, by el gato malo

Intelligent, rational people can be cowardly sheep. From el gato malo at boriquagato.substack.com:

pressure is a second selector and ability to deal with it is orthogonal to intelligence

there is a funny thing about “smart” and “rational.”

sure, both are good things, but it’s also worth remembering that both can be deeply misleading predictors of how one will perform in a crisis.

each may well be a useful form of assessment and integral to problem solving, but under duress, the question changes dramatically.

“how rational can you remain while being stood on your head and spun around while direct fear impulses are applied to your amygdala?”

this is the test so many “smart” people failed.


“scared witless” is a phrase for a reason.

fear and panic, yours and others, change everything. fear alone is enough to shut down rational faculties. group level panic and the social pressures of herd following behaviors blow this into the stratosphere.

suddenly, no matter how smart you were 5 minutes ago, you’re now a blithering idiot.

suddenly, no matter how independent you thought you were, the lightning flashes, the sky tears open in thunder, and before you know it you’re just another panicked sheep in the herd stampeded by the storm.

all these things you prized about yourself are gone. it’s like one of those nightmare dreams where you remember you have an exam in a class you never read the books for.

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