Steve, a local author and long-term martial artist (who gets the credits for one of the best insults I've ever heard) picked up on something in the post "Balancing Act" that is worth a look. The meat of it:
"Reason, as I understand the term, is hardly weak. Expecting other folks to act reasonably, in their own best interests, that's a different beast. People do stupid things.But one of the reasons you train is to be able to do the smart thing when necessary, and without a foundation in reason, you can't learn those things."- Steve Perry
Each piece is sensible. It just rarely works.
There is nothing wrong with the _process_ of reason. The scientific method is the best bullshit detector ever discovered. Deductive logic is a powerful tool; inductive logic probably more powerful if also more prone to sampling error.
The problem with martial artists or administrators or politicians trying to apply reason to violence is that reason is based on extrapolating from knowns to unknowns. Very few people have any idea how many of their "knowns" especially in violence, are actually "thunks" as in, "I thunk so...".
Peope try to reason from what they know of human movement and come up with good moves... but people don't move the same way under adrenaline load.
They come up with expectations of effects of impact and pain and damage... none of which are quite the same when the threat is enraged or drugged or psychotic or...
They base their defenses on reasonable attacks, defining a reasonable attack from their own experience, a balance of offense and defense designed to give you the best chance of winning a fight with the least chance of taking injury... and are totally unprepared for the speed, power, surprise or extremely close range of a sudden assault.
Even reason itself, the ability to make good decisions, is severely affected by fear and surprise, leaving the problem that the brain that learned what to do is chemically very different from the brain that has to pull it off.
Steve is right- it's not that reason is weak, not by itself. But the products of reason, the systems put together because they 'should' work fail very consistantly. They work really well when tested in laboratory (or dojo) experiments. They fall apart in chaos.
The problem is that the reasoners not only have no good valid basis for their extrapolation, they are unaware of that fact. Just like some people assume that the worst pain they have felt gives them a touchstone to the worst pain someone else has felt (never tell a mother who just lost her child that you understand because your goldfish died when you were five) they assume that the conflicts they have dealt with (schoolyard fights or boxing matches or family arguments) prepare them for an ambush or a gang stomping or an experienced killer.
It's not the same. A gold medal in fencing will teach you about as much about rape survival as getting raped will teach you about fencing.
In things we consider technical fields, this is obvious. Medics need to learn how physiology works to start guessing at solutions to problems. Reason without background led to medical beliefs like "any red flower must be good for the blood." Pure logic led to the obvious belief that heavy things fall faster than light things- and this is a good analogy, because to disprove that, Galileo had to drop some stuff off the tower of Pisa. Just like finding the holes in a self-defense system, somebody had to go out and try it in the real world.
Violence is special because very few people have enough experience to try to deduce and, for me, the more experience I have the more signifcant the weirdness and luck seem and the less likely I am to say "X is true, Y is false."
Yet every one, it seems, everyone feels that they have some instinctive understanding of it. They act as if the years of daydreaming about fighting the gang to win the girl are actual experience.
I think language is the closest analogy (which brings it back to Steve). Everyone speaks, has done so for most of their lives, and so many assume they can write. People who don't actually speak that well think that they do, and then decide that they can write well and then... they reason out what would be the next sure-fire block buster. How often does that work? How often was a classic written with classic in mind?
Violence and Language. Steve writes, and he writes well (I dimly remember some of his books from the days of yore when I read fiction- that's a high compliment) and it was a combination- he wrote a lot, he practiced and polished his craft BUT (and this is the difference between a best seller and a wannabe) he put it out there, sent it to magazines and publishers. The real world told him which of his bright ideas or clever wordings were actually good, solid or insightful. At this stage he probably doesn't remember how many of his worst early writing habits and assumptions about 'good writing' seemed reasonable and logical all those decades ago.
I've even seen him try to share his experience with budding writers.
Steve, thanks for making me think this out.
To sum up, reason must be based on a set of basic facts. If those basic facts are wrong, the reasoned solution is liable to be ineffective. Most people, dealing with violence are starting from a set of facts that range from myth to nonsense- and what they produce is ...less than optimal.
Old Man Logan - A couple things all happened this last week to inspire this blog. Friday night I took the family to go see the Lego Batman movie. We all loved it. Cle...
1 week ago