ehowton (ehowton) wrote,


Being a Briggs-Meyers INTJ, I have a long history with `doing unto other's as I would have them do unto me` working against my favor - not everyone wants to be treated like I prefer to be treated. Arguing against the "Golden Rule" with someone on Facebook (yeah, I know) I made the statement, "I've empirically proven ethical reciprocation too subjective to be so liberally applied," the reply to which was, "Where's your peer review?"

Having been told many things about the way things were growing up, I found I actually experienced them much differently - usually far more favorably than I was told to expect. Over time, I realized I must be more optimistic than most if I was able to find so much awe and wonder in experiences others disliked - disliked enough to take the time to so negatively paint it. Often I would return from these ventures filled with wonder, and worked to dispel the rumors others had spread. I was usually able to at least reach common ground with those who had also gone where I had gone or done what I had done, despite our perceptions having been different.

Later in life I met people I learned were referred to as rationalists - having no real world experiences of their own (though usually voracious readers) - who were able to construct entire belief systems around reasonable conjecture and inference. And while I'm a huge fan of reason, I often found their belief about something I had experienced firsthand entirely antithetical to my own. This is one of those situations wherein I thought my *actual* experience would trump their guesswork, and I would be able to educate them. We all perceive the world differently, viewed through our own set of reality-filters, so I get where rationalists might be cautious of, "taking someone's word for it" over their carefully constructed suppositions, but surely a boots-on-the-ground viewpoint could illuminate numerous otherwise unknowable facts? No, not really as it turns out. I was bound and determined to discover why.

As I came to learn about empiricism, I realized that's what I was all about. My critical thinking skills allowed me to recognize and set aside biases temporarily for the sake of perspective, and my personality allowed me the freedom to optimize time through rigorous scenario-running; once I had a theory, I could actually apply it over and over, testing the results each time. I came to trust in my own algorithms for appraising situations based on the outcomes of my past experiences, acknowledging currently-applied filters and limitations, and above all, knowing myself.

But even explaining my methodology wasn't enough to sate the rationalists. "Its all anecdotal," they'd reply and accuse me of confirmation bias. I get accused of confirmation bias a lot, which is funny because as far as I have been able to ascertain, I begin from the standpoint that my logic is somehow flawed - I'm wrong - and I'm trying to approximate a solution. I'm often the most surprised when I discover through careful introspection and precise logical adaptation I was correct all along - of course it looks like confirmation bias!

I trust empiricism because it alone can provide new evidence in which to re-validate my theories. When (if?) rationalists expire their baselines, their conclusions will no doubt remain the same, because they are masters of logic. Masters of logic with no update mechanism in place. I find the Golden Rule's corollary much more effective these days, "Do not treat people in a way you would not wish to be treated yourself."

* Originally posted to

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