Shower thoughts of the day.
On net, patriotism seems to be an irrational state of mind unless you narrowly define it as "after careful deliberation I've decided that this country best serves the needs of the most people"...but I don't think thats what most people really mean when they're talking about patriotism.
Patriotism seems to usually be used to mean something like one of these:
1. Do not criticize anything about the country I enjoy living in.
2. USA #1, USA #1! (insert whatever country for USA)
Even for more nuanced takes of patriotism, taking the concept of "patriot" as part of your identity seems like it ends up forcing support for ideas and values upon you that you might not have supported if you came at them from a more objective standpoint.
To a first-order approximation, it seems like a mindset that would be a better (by better, I mean more well-being, more happiness, more accurate) substitute for patriotism would be a mindset that:
1. Acknowledges that for various desired outcomes various countries and systems of government place somewhere on a scale for each desired outcome, while...
2. also acknowledging that different people will have their own preferences for each outcome.
I mean, maybe some people have this sort of mindset in mind when they're talking about patriotism, but from my standpoint it certainly doesn't seem like thats how its actually practiced.
I'm going to talk about subjective confidence.
A person has some degree of confidence in their knowledge and beliefs called subjective confidence. It's subjective, in part, because people don't have introspective access to the way their mind has formed it's beliefs.
I find myself thinking about this subjective confidence pretty often as I offer advice or take actions...which is a good thing I think.
I might say "I'm 75% confident about my thoughts on patriotism" and what someone might think I'm meaning is that I'm not as confident about that as I am confident that I'm actually in the shower when I'm in the shower but I'm a lot more confident than I would be that I'll get heads when I flip this coin.
But...that's not quite right, even though that might be what I intend to convey when I offer the confidence figure. As I mentioned before, I don't have introspective access to the algorithms of my mind, so it seems as if I can't really place my confidence-on-patriotism-thoughts effectively on the scale between confidence-I'm-in-the-shower and confidence-I'm-flipping-heads which I can pin down fairly objectively.
Perhaps when I say I'm 75% confident in my thoughts about patriotism, I'm describing a feeling, which is a little worrying, but it's the best I can do.
Maybe "it's the best I can do" is not good enough.
Sometimes, in what might be my most lucid and introspective moments, I feel like I'm not very confident about many of my more complex beliefs. During these times my confidence about subjects as simple as is-in-shower or even some more complex beliefs like value-of-rational-thought, don't seem to change, but my confidence in my beliefs about patriotism seem as if they're in a mirage and there's a good argument on the tip of my mind just waiting to destroy what I believe.
During these most lucid and introspective times, what it really seems like is that most of the time when I'm feeling 75% confident about my patriotism beliefs, what I've actually done is taken a relative confidence and made it feel like an absolute confidence.
The weird thing is that, during the majority of the time, even knowing what I really think about that 75% number and how shaky most of my beliefs are...the 75% number still feels right. I'm perfectly aware of the fact that what I really feel is that there's a good probability of there being a good argument out there just ready to sweep my legs out from under me, and yet the 75% number just feels like the right answer to the question "What's your subjective confidence in your thoughts about patriotism?"