Skill: The accurate and timely assessment of basic probability ie: determining a person's likely response in any given conversation, determining odds of common occurrences, etc. The benefit to communication and the time-saving possibilities of such a skill are such that I feel any aspiring rationalist should pay specific attention to the development of basic probabilistic abilities.
The one thing that caught my eye in your scenario is the stipulation that, in the case of your actual brother, there are no other people present. Is this because you would be made somehow to feel guilt if there were witnesses or because the presence of others who also failed to save your brother somehow mitigates the guilt? It is an interesting situation given the dynamic between your brother and yourself but the witness factor is what intrigues me.
Is there a law that states that all simple problems have complex, hard to understand answers? Moravec's paradox sort of covers it but it seems that principle should have its own label.
I don't think I'll be making the trek out to those parts of the world anytime soon but College Station may be do-able. It is good to know that the UU has survived in Waco, I generally make it a point to stop by there whenever I'm in town (if only to annoy my extremely southern Baptist family). But anyway, keep fighting the good fight and keep Texan rationalism alive (or at least not picked over by the vultures and other scavengers).
As a citizen of Houston, I am positively terrified of Waco, although your presence there seems to indicate that there may be some sort of underground vein of rationalism in the area...
I imagine it is from one of his books but I came across it in the introduction to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Oddly enough the Hitchhiker series is absolutely full of satirical quotes which can be applied to rationality.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
This quote defines my approach to science and philosophy; a phenomenon can be wondrous on its own merit, it need not be magical or extraordinary to have value.
So for you guilt is less of a signal in and of itself but the origin of your modified-behavior signal? Several others have raised the point of guilt as an evolutionary facilitator and it makes sense to me that individuals who self-corrected due to a guilt response would be the most socially accepted and thus most likely to procreate. The shoulder-angel doesn't need to be there if the behavior remains the same as if it had been.
I have to admit, I was skeptical about the existence of those without visual imagination, but after reading your post it seems that that skepticism was derived from a lack of understanding. I couldn't comprehend the vehicle by which thoughts would be transmitted without a visual component, but your description has gone a long way towards clearing that up. Thank you for your excellent contribution.
That's the basic vein I was referring to; that kind of quick calculation can be applied to debate, conversation and other interpersonal contact in much the same way as it is when observing a coin.