Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I'm probably projecting my own experiences onto your wife, but I always get annoyed with people who hear something like "be dispassionate and try to be as logical as possible" and immediately discount it- primarily because I notice they've never tried it.

I used to make a lot of emotional decisions based on my gut feelings and intuition, and it took me a great deal of work to get over that and to start thinking about the "optimal course of action" whenever I had important decisions to make. My life has drastically improved, and all of my relationships are more stable and my goals have proved to be more attainable.

But when I try to preach this to people, a lot of them give the same reaction your wife did- and I get annoyed, because I observe them constantly having their feelings hurt, getting frustrated, missing their goals, and feeling stressed out, because they're operating off of anything but "optimal course of action reasoning".

I think the reason why this type of attitude gets mocked is that it seems robotic and condescending to emotion, as if emotion is not a real, legitimate source of information. It shouldn't be the only source of information (and maybe that's what you're getting at). But the idea that once emotion enters the picture, the discussion is no longer "rational" is stupid to me. Maybe that is a straw man.

Well, I think that emotion isn't really a legitimate source of information, primarily because it's so subjective. How many relationships dissolve because one party is connecting their experience of an emotion to the actions of the other party, but it's all a complete misunderstanding?

Emotion serves as an indicator, but not as justifiable evidence or information. I still get angry, fearful, heartbroken, elated, etc. but I now spend a great deal of energy trying to make sure that I don't attach my experience of an emotion to a belief that the emotion gives me real, trustworthy information about the true state of the world.

I thought a great deal about this while I was reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, which I highly recommend.

I don't see why we should go from "emotion shouldn't be considered an infallible source of info about the world outside our consciousness", to "emotion isn't a legitimate source of information." There are many situations in life that aren't accessible by pure reason, such as basically all aspects of social life.

Yeah. It's just another tool. Emotion works quickly over large and/or vague sources of information using heuristics. Sometimes this is useful, and sometimes it isn't.

Some emotion is a tool for sensing the world, but other emotion is the process of our actual being. It is truth in itself. If something makes me feel bad, that's a fact. Maybe it can change, maybe it can't. It's not a heuristic, it's not judging or discerning anything, it just is in itself the essence and existence of my being.

isn't emotion basically system1 in thinking fast and slow? optimized for making snap decisions yes but far from being an illegitimate source of information. there are a lot of examples where system1 gives you the wrong answer, but IIRC there are also plenty of examples where system1 is exactly right especially when there is time pressure. the book "Blink" is basically its antithesis offering examples where trusting system1 leads to better outcomes than overthinking it with system2.

Emotion is not a real legitimate source of information, it's an inspiration to tell the brain to pay more attention to something and then work it out logically (like when you have a bad feeling about something), but to make any non trivial decision entirely out of emotion is simply foolish.

Emotion is not a real legitimate source of information, it's an inspiration to tell the brain to pay more attention to something and then work it out logically

Technically that is information! Like, what if instead of feelings, there was this little light and slot on your chest, and at the appropriate time, the light would flash and a little slip of paper came out saying, "It's time to pay more attention to something and then work it out logically!" Wouldn't that be information?

About this I'm right. Technically right. The best kind of right! (Irony left to he reader. Please interpret in the cheeriest possible fashion.)

I specifically did not advocate making decisions entirely out of emotion

Very recognizable. Still, I think the annoyed reactions have more to do with people in general not liking being preached to. In my experience many people take offence with advice. They want to find out for themselves, even if that means getting hurt in the process.

Point in case, I have a floundering friend who won't take business advice from me or that of a mutual friend of ours, despite the fact that we both founded and operated successful businesses. Frustrating.

That's a good point. Considering I only really ever bring this topic up when there's something to get emotional about, it probably comes off as maddeningly condescending.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact