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Jag Bhalla

Science Writer, Blogger, and Essayist

Jag Bhalla is a writer and entrepreneur. Current projects include this "Thought Fix" blog series for Big Think. And NanoSalad a zero-prep way to zap veggie gaps (by BodZoo LLC, a future-friendly, basic-by-design business, see for further details). Prior projects include "Errors We Live By," a series of short exoteric essays exposing errors in the big ideas running our lives. And I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears, a surreptitious science gift book from National Geographic Books, which explains his twitter handle @hangingnoodles.

The word “rational” needs to be rescued. Tom Stoppard’s new play shows that a major rational parable, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, is widely misinterpreted. Seeing why “rationalists” do worse than Christians can help us avoid losing in evolution’s “negative telos” games.   
Nature invented software billions of years before we did. “The origin of life is really the origin of software,” says Gregory Chaitin (inventor of mathematical metabiology). Life requires what software does. It is fundamentally algorithmic. And its complexity needs better thinking tools.
Something like social contracts likely run deep in our nature. As does the “economic justice” they need. The largest database we have on hunter-gatherer cultures suggests our ancestors had rigidly egalitarian tendencies 10,000 generations ago. 
Is ruthless selfishness natural and rational? The idea that this is just how “selfish genes” and evolution work is unnaturally selective. Without certain kinds of cooperation, no gene can survive (that’s using the term cooperative in a similar metaphoric way that genes can be described as “selfish”). 
Reason is larger than science. And much can be logically true without seeking “the numbers.” Too many now forget that mathematics is a subset of logic. Here’s how logic dictates we need the humanities…
Comparing “astronaut” to “cowboy” ethics can show that Locke’s limits on liberty need to be revised. We once could see that pitting self-interest against collective self-preservation wasn’t rational. Me-opic and logically unworkable ideas that economics sometimes encourage have made that harder to see.   
New word tools can sometimes avoid old confusions. Let’s use “praxotype,” “cognotype,” and “technomorphic” to see human nature more accurately. Especially to see that we’re the least genetically constrained species ever.
Moral sciences are back. Natural laws of ethics, envisioned early in the Enlightenment, can now be objectively studied. Game Theory is reteaching scientists and “rationalists” old wisdoms, while suggesting a “Golden Punishment Rule,” and a Naturalistic Fallacy reform (via “negative telos”).
Romance and reason are becoming estranged bedfellows (too bad—they were a cute couple). Does love’s logic now add up? Or is love like “happiness,” a low-resolution word (unhelpful in seeing key distinctions). Food for thought on love’s unrequited logic…