Jave D wrote:Yet could you say with honesty that such personal narratives have no relevance to your decision-making processes? Are you truly like a computer who only behaves according to logical results derived purely from empirical data?
I wouldn't say that at all! In fact, narrative-lead decision making is quite common, and quite a useful too in my daily life.
The thing is that I don't trust
it. I don't, if you will, have faith in it. For example: I think I was happy as a child. But a large part of that is because it fits well into the narrative of my life, and the transition between a rambunctious, arrogant and blissfully ignorant little brat into the wiser, more aware, yet less energetic and resilient adult I have become. It "makes sense" to me, it feels right -- and yet, I can think of a number of times I was rather unhappy, and could argue that my childhood was characterized by temper and frustration. But I don't have good data on it, and my perspective could well be warped by time and narrative-lead thinking -- thus, my conclusion is tentative, and I'm more than willing to defer my vague feeling to any competing conclusion that's more empirically sound.
The personal narrative is immensely powerful, and immensely persuasive -- but it's also inherently untrustworthy. We as human beings rely on it for much of our decision-making...but we shouldn't
. The personal narrative is a silly thing to ignore: like the rest of our emotions, it's a very real thing that has a very real effect on our behavior. But it's a just as silly a thing to trust, and while it may be understandable it is not justifiable
to compare it equally to documented empiricism.
. . .
That's the powerful thing about narratives: we respond to them on an emotional level, and we tend to consult our emotions before our logic when we make decisions. It is quite a thing to have an emotional investment in a belief, and is a hard thing to shake . . . and why would you want to, when the empirical truth, stripped of its emotional content, is so much less satisfying? When you hold a belief it feels like far more than just a wish: it feels like something you know
, something that makes sense to you, something that is incontrovertibly true for reasons you can't quite articulate.
...except we have a word for that, and it's called "bias." The very foundation of the scientific method is that just because something seems to make sense, just because it feels
true, doesn't mean that it is. And time and time again, science has demonstrated the effect of bias in distorting the actual narrative of an event, by warping it into something that makes for a better story or justifies previously-held beliefs. It is a thing we do! It is a human thing we do, perhaps an inescapable thing. But it's not a good thing; it's a thing that disguises the truth of the world, and leads to us discarding the observations that don't fit our narrative while keeping the ones that do. Beer Goggles for the intellect, if you will.
This is the reason empirical tests are well documented -- so we don't have to rely on our faulty memories. It's why they're double-blind, or use placebos, or whatever, because what we believe to be true and what is actually
true are often strikingly different.
. . .
The Great Hippo wrote:Perhaps better put: What evidence outside of empiricism itself is there for empiricism being the better prediction tool? Prove to me that empiricism is better using non-empirical evidence.
How do you even begin to make sense of a request like that? Where would you even start?
The reason this seems so weird is that without empiricism -- which judges things based on their predictive usefulness -- you don't have an obvious definition of "better." Empiricism itself isn't even a method, per-se; there are good practices that help produce better empirical results, but at its core what science is is a standard for judging beliefs, which amounts to "the model that is better at reliably producing accurate predictions is better."
Narrativism, on the other hand, uses the standard of "the model that is most emotionally satisfying is better." Empirically sound observations are such because they are more accurate to the world around us, while narratively sound observations "ring true" internally.
You're mentioned the 'empirical narrative' a couple times, and that's an interesting point, because it means that you can evaluate empiricism narratively! Here's what you get:
Empiricism: A brave, untiring pursuit of the truth, even at the cost of personal satisfaction, characterized by a refusal to settle for 'easy answers.'
Narrativism: A lying, sneaky, distorting specter that is fickle in its manipulations, sometimes compelling humans to greatness but just as often driving them to ignorance and hate and pointless self-destruction.
So, it would seem that even by narrative standards, empiricism is awesome and noble while narrativism is scary and dangerous. Am I distorting the narrative here? Probably. Narrative, by its nature, is basically nothing but
distortion: even if everything you include is accurate, you have to discard a lot of 'footage' to make a good story. A complete and comprehensive documentary is extremely boring; to make it narratively compelling you have to pick and choose what you show, to pick only the moments that contribute to the story you want to tell.
Which means that while the resulting story may be compelling, it's also inherently untrustworthy.