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I would do it all over again


From a Branch Davidian getting out of prison:
"I'm proud of my friends, and it was a privilege for me to have gone there to study the Bible, regardless of what the world thinks," Fatta said. "If I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing."

I hear this all the time. Even if something turned out horrible people say they would do it all over again the same way. Isn't that stupid? They wouldn't try and change anything to make it better? That's just crazy.
Permalink son of parnas 
April 20th, 2006 3:41pm
But think of the temporal paradoxes if they wouldn't do it all over again!

Or, they were stupid enough to do it the first time, so they are stupid enough to do it infinity.
Permalink Send private email TomIsMyNemesis 
April 20th, 2006 3:48pm
There are certain philosophies that shield their adherents from learning the things that would invalidate those philosophies.

The philosophies do this through re-defining certain words, or providing "definitive" answers to certain questions which discourage alternate answers. 

The problem with this approach is that it can 'drift' further and further away from real reality.  And then you reach a point at which real reality and this 'drifted' view of reality clash.  Things stop working at that point.

And at that point you have a choice.  You can continue to pursue the faulty philosophy, blaming real reality for being defective.  Or you can try to modify, or even throw out, those parts of the philosophy that no longer fit.

Our founding fathers found that "pursuit of what is true" tends to defuse these philosophies, and I believe M. Scott Peck published a book "The Road Less Traveled" based on this idea of pursuing what is true, and trying to get around our tendency to distort the truth.

Apparently, this Branch Davidian has concluded it is reality itself that is defective -- thus he has no regrets, and "would do it all over again".  This is regrettable.
Permalink AllanL5 
April 20th, 2006 4:08pm
A mathematics professor in college told me what life is like for a math professor - you spend years and years and years working on one little conjecture, one little belief (let's be honest: before something becomes a theorem it must first be a yet-to-be-proven belief in someone's head). You look at it from one angle. Then the next. You try to apply Lie algebras to it. You try to apply homotopy theory. Every math article you read, you try to fit to your conjecture. Other math profs call you nuts. Students don't understand you, or follow you blindly.

One day you may bump into a proof as you tend to your tomatoes or watch your daughter's ballet class or run your fingers along the wood grain of your department's banister. Those are five minutes of ecstasy. Then another conjecture -- a better one, of course -- pops into your head.

But if you never find the proof? What then? Do you abandon the belief that has kept you up all night for the last decade?

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to invalidate so many years of one's life. Few people have it. Those who do are heroes.
Permalink Bruno Di Pumadoro 
April 20th, 2006 5:23pm
+1 AllanL5.

>I hear this all the time. Even if something turned out horrible people say they would do it all over again the same way. Isn't that stupid? They wouldn't try and change anything to make it better?

Point 1:
In the US, there is a very strong cultural bias to denying that you've made *any* mistakes. That antipathy to admitting errors predates the "litigation crisis" while the current excuse is along the lines of "if you say you're sorry, you'll pay for it in court." And it comes with a double standard too: bush is "resolute" while you're "stubborn." Admit to wanting to do things differently? That makes you a flip-flopper. It goes along with a "cowboy" mentality. Or the parrot salesman.

In interviews, sometimes you'll be asked what you would do differently with your life, if you got to live it over again. That's a trick question. They're prying to determine if you're a complainer, or an intellectual. Any serious answer (such as to the question "what is your greatest weakness") is the wrong answer: you fail the interview. A reasonable non-answer for the interview-fu is "I'd have brushed my teeth more, so I wouldn't have gotten all those cavities." Admit that you'd have gone to a different school? Chosen a different career path? To most Americans that is equivalent to saying "I wish I was never born." Yes, I'd have done things differently, if I knew then what I know now. I'll never admit it publically.

Point 2:
People suck at self-evaluation.

People also suck at figuring out what went right and what went wrong. Simple techniques you learn in six sigma, tqm or other b-process-fads can and will help, because most of them are aimed at finding out what went right, so you can do more of that. And finding out what went wrong, so you can do less of that.

In the political realm, folks who wanted to understand why 911 happened, so as to prevent other similar events from happening were viciously attacked: "why do you hate America so?" Where the antilogical discourse became a porridge of "no true scotsman" [1] with the "dogmatic fallacy" [2].

[1] samples: no true red-blooded American would ever disagree that spreading democracy is wrong. No true American would ever disagree with gwb.

[2] samples: if you have evidence against iraqi WMD, then you are evil.
If you have evidence against iraqi wmd, then your evidence is false.
If gwb says that anyone who leaked Plame will no longer work in this administration. Libby claims cheney authorized the leak. Cheney is still VP. If you think that the truth applies to gwb, then you forget that truth does not apply to gwb by definition.

Point 3:
There are people still pissed off about the stand-off in Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the government's action. Not everyone in the US thinks McVeigh did wrong for taking revenge on the feds. When that guy stole the A-10 (had 500# bombs and a full load of DU ammo), and flew towards Denver, when/where McVeigh was on trial, was he heading there to free McVeigh, or was he heading there to bomb the courthouse to kill McVeigh? Was flying into the side of the mountain an act of remorse, an act of suicide or a navigational error?

Point 4:
Yes, it is stupid. But it is human nature.
Permalink Peter 
April 20th, 2006 6:12pm
wow. I might have written something like that if I could be fucked to type all those words out. Good stuff though. True about the unwillingness to admit error - though that ain't just America.

I thought M Scott Peck was good. What was the sequel to "Road Less Travelled" called? Where he talks about the existence of the devil?
Permalink $-- 
April 21st, 2006 3:41am
I believe "People of the Lie" was his book on evil.  Not bad, but not as good as TRLT.
Permalink AllanL5 
April 21st, 2006 10:26am

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