You might think you are rational, pro-tip: you aren’t. Most of us couldn’t make a highly rational choice if we wanted to, here’s an example…
Imagine that when you woke up today that instead of where ever you’d normally sleep, you woke up on the floor of a room with a small pedestal in the middle of it and on top of that there was a red button.
A voice explains that you now have a choice, you can either press the button or declare that you won’t and that each choice comes with a specific outcome.
If you press the red button it will result in world peace for 5yrs, all famines and wars will instantly end. Innocent people will no longer die and for a period of time the world will be entirely safe.
There is a downside, if you press the red button both you and and all of your loved ones die. This is the savior dilemma.
So do you press it?
When asking people this I haven’t met anybody who would and yet it is a highly rational choice for the human race, millions of lives would be saved.
A common retort of self interest or that people don’t ever make that choice is common and yet your personal self interest surely extends to everybody to an extent, for instance, if you could press a button and a million children you don’t know would die would you press it, if in return you got five years of total protection for you and your loved ones?
Equally, people do make sacrifices which are selfless all the time for people they don’t know. In many wars young soldiers die fighting to defend or protect their homeland and usually the people who they die for outside of their circle of loved ones don’t know them.
Such a binary choice obviously comes with logical gaps, and the whole thought experiment is based on the false idea that there is any power which could orchestrate this — which if there was would they deign to reduce themselves to such an experiment with people anyway?
What this tells us is something simple — you may spend your day thinking you are rational, but chances are your sense of self-preservation and emotion outweigh the logic many of us think we make decisions with.