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Q: What's the most important leg of a three-legged stool? A: The one that isn't there. - traditional joke-riddle
A specific neurological lesion can sometimes damage or impair specific neurological functions without touching others. In the condition famously known as "Ondine's Curse", for example, automatic control of breathing is destroyed while conscious control remains, so that without modern medical intervention nerve-damaged patients can survive only as long as they can remain awake. Such conditions are nevertheless unusual exceptions to the more general principle that complex, recently-developed, and 'meta'-functions (those that monitor and control others) are first to be impaired and lost when the nervous system is stressed, damaged, or altered.
Which weighs more: a pound of feathers, or a pound of gold?
Close consideration of this riddle - and the conditions under which people tend to get it wrong - is helpful in understanding the limits of human rationality. It is a specific example which leads us to general principles of rationality failure.
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