Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maybe irrationality's a good thing

Even before I was an economist I was a big fan of rationality. My friend from Singapore spoke with pride about how another economist friend of hers noted "it's like they've given my people (economists) a country, and they did good! I didn't hear an irrational comment all week," something I noted myself when I was there 8 years ago (wow time flies).

But now, my reaction was, well maybe a little irrationality is good.

To explain, let me just cite Wachowski (2003)
"The first matrix I designed was quite naturally perfect. It was a work of art. Flawless. Sublime. A triumph only equaled by its monumental failure. "

"As I was saying, she stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly ninety-nine percent of the test subjects accepted the program provided they were given a choice - even if they were only aware of it at a near-unconscious level. While this solution worked, it was fundamentally flawed, creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly, that, if left unchecked, might threaten the system itself. Ergo, those who refused the program, while a minority, would constitute an escalating probability of disaster."

"Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here. "

Or consider Huxley's Brave New World for a more literary citation.

Rationality is all fine and good and probably great for 99 percent of the people. But maybe you need irrationality for beauty, or for innovation, for disruptive change, for paradigm shifts, for freedom (whatever that means; I took a class on defining freedom and still don't know what it means), and all that. For magic too.

(And I bet you thought watching that movie was a waste of your time...)

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