Otherwise known as a human Theory of Everything.
Let it not be said that I have ever been accused of false humility 🙂
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In this paper I hope to explain Why & How People, including those who are mentally gifted, become St00pid, stop learning & thus inflict unnecessary pain on themselves and others
I will also offer some ideas about how people might apply some easy to use mental tricks to stop being St00pid
Number of Unique Visitors: 930
Sneak Preview: Those photos at the top. That is the Space Shuttle Challenger. That event was caused by st00pid. I elaborate below
Last Updated on August 31, 2012
This paper is about 37000 words. That is the size of a small book, which I hope that this will become. I hope that you will stay with this because as the greeting says “May This Site Lead You to Greater Happiness”. I think that this may be possible for many of you for many reasons that I will mention below. Perhaps the most fundamental reason is that the Buddha was correct. Desire is the source of all of our sorrows. Of course there few biological organisms short of saints and some people who have had neurological damage to certain parts of their brains that do not have desires. Most of us find it hard to ignore the desires for food, water, an environment that is minimally comfortable, as well as some human companionship. When we do not get these things we are faced with the problem of how to get them.
Sun Tzu, in his treatise, “The Art of War” addressed the problem of getting what you want in the following way
Verses from the book occur in modern daily Chinese idioms and phrases, such as the last verse of Chapter 3:
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
This has been more tersely interpreted and condensed into the modern proverb:
If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can win numerous (literally, “a hundred”) battles without jeopardy.
For those of you not fighting a battle in the sense in which Sun Tzu was referring, this can be re-interpreted as
1. Know yourself, and 2. Know the nature of the problem.
Consider this example: Imagine that you are a very religious conservative gay man. There are numerous ways to address this situation and almost every one of them, almost all the time, results in you being miserable. The one way that gives the most happiness to the greatest number of people in this situation, by far, is the following. Kill yourself. If that does not appeal to you, and you think that you should be happy even if a large number of religious bigots believe that their view of gods world is the only possible one, than realize that nature made you gay. By the way, below, I put forth the premise, espoused by Spinoza, that god and nature are the same. Being gay is not “bad”, even though some people do not like it. Being gay just is.
The problem here is not that you are gay. Nature, just made you that way. On the assumption that nature is the work of god, if not god herself, than god made you that way. To the extent that there is a problem, it is that some people who do not like gay people, but do not wish to take responsibility for their own likes and dislikes, wish to make you feel bad, and so they call you “bad” or “immoral” or some equivalent word. If you take the time to look up this word(s), and all the words used to describe this word(s) you end up with some version of “I do not like it”. People do not like what they labeled “bad” or “immoral”. Bad and immoral are ideas and thoughts that exist in humans. They are not attached to things in the physical world like red or 300 lbs are attached to such things. Bad an immoral are human concepts. The physical world, the world made by god if you will, just is.
But surely, you say, there are some things that really are, at all times, bad. Maybe. But I do not know of any. It was less than 150 years ago, that killing certain kinds of people was considered, by a large number of people in this country, a good thing. As in, “The only good indian is a dead indian”. So let me repeat myself. Good and bad are opinions that humans have. It is ok to have opinions, just do not confuse an opinion with a description of the physical world. “She is good” is an opinion. She is slender (could be considered a description of a physical property, as in having a BMI of about 15), is a statement about some aspect of the physical world.
Now that you know yourself, understand that the problem is that a clique of people, probably with strong psychopathic controlling tendencies, or blindly obedient to authority, are wrong, and you do not have to change, lie about it, hide who you are, or anything else. All you have to do to achieve happiness is to accept yourself, and find and enjoy the company of others who accept you as you are. If your family or “church” will not do this then, until and unless they do, you need to find a substitute or replacement for them, because you can not fool nature. You can not be something that you are not. As Richard Feynman said: “Nature can not be fooled”, and each person is a construct of nature complete in all her variety.
This paper is not only about fixing personal problems. Consider another example, the global economy. If you accept the premise that nature can not be fooled then it becomes clear that paper currencies or anything like them can not, in the long term, work. Here is a long argument on that. Of course economists with other points of view present counter arguments. I will show later that only one point of view, that view in which currencies have some form of commodity backing, is not an attempt to fool nature.
There is very little new information here, in the sense of some new research about how humans behave, or how our brains work, or new information about human history, or any new moral insights. All that I have done is to try and understand what words mean, and to explain all existing relevant information that has not been shown to be devoid of meaning, or shown to be false. For example, as I explain below, I do not believe in the existence of truth in the physical world. Thus, I did not say that I am explaining information that has been shown to be true, but rather I am explaining information that has not been shown to be false. There is a presumption here that if I am working with it, than I think it is likely true, but as Stephen Hawking said, when dealing with the physical world, we can not know truth.
I did not use the phrase “truth in the real world” because it is not without reason that one can question what is the “real world” You can explore the concept of reality by reading on the nature of information, the holographic universe, the nature of quantum mechanics the “physics of information” and related topics. In general I will not refer to what is real, but to what can be measured. Secondarily I will reference what can be felt, or liked, or disliked or experienced emotionally.
If you think of a problem as a kind of battle with the environment, then you must know the the nature of the environment in general, and the specific problem in particular or else you are in danger of not solving the problem, that is, of losing the battle. Understanding the nature of the problem will also tell you if you wish to fight it. In the example above, you may be able to change your family, or parts of it. After all Dick Cheney, one of the countries more psychopathic religious conservative cases, did not abandon his daughter because she is as queer as a three dollar bill. It is unlikely that you can change your church if they hate gays, so you may need to find a new one that is more accepting of all gods creatures. There are several very moral Christian Sects that accept any person who lives by the golden rule. You may wish to check out, for example, the Quakers. They were one of the very few Christian groups in the south who did not condone slavery.
I hope that this paper will enable you to understand yourself, along with the shortcomings that we, —and I DO MEAN WE, because lord knows that I am not exempt— share, and to be able to understand the problems that the environment and other people present. If the paper does that, then it will greatly reduce your negative experiences, and perhaps enable you to achieve happiness. If you already have happiness, then it may help you get more, or perhaps to avoid needless sorrows.
The above may be wishful thinking. It is an idea, a hypothesis if you will. I am not sure of its validity. I am, however, fairly certain of one thing. My research has taught me that different people think about things and other people in different ways. A significant number of people, psychopaths, most politicians, many salesmen, leaders of various sorts and many managers, think about people as some combination of problems to be solved, things to be manipulated, or enemies/victims/food to be defeated/destroyed/consumed. They have a great ability to fake a kind of charm. That is, they can make people think that they care about them. As Clinton would say, that “they feel your pain”. In fact, they feel little if anything other than a desire for power and some primal physical pleasures along with frustration and anger. They are driven by the three primary drives that motivate all animals.
- Is it food? That is, can I control/consume it
- Does it want to eat me? That is, should I fear it
- Can I have sex with it.
Essentially, the primary, if not only drives of these people are fear, power and sex. You will see politicians almost always appealing to these messaging pathways of most people, and seldom if ever, to their intellect.
Emotionally, outside of hatred, anger, fear, lust, and a desire for power, they have the depth of a plate. I am fairly certain that if you read this paper and follow some of the suggestions, which are fairly easy, that you will reduce the chances of falling victim to such people.
Before I go any farther, I need to create a new word that is a variant of a commonly used word. The commonly used word is stupid, and indicates that one is unable to learn new things because they lack intellectual abilities. The word that I am coining is st00pid, and it indicates that a person or group of people is/are unable or unwilling to learn new things even if they are, by almost measures, very smart. My admittedly brief search on the internet almost always connected inability to learn, also known as stupidity, with a lack of thinking ability. I found no word to describe people who have well developed mental skills, are good at abstract thought, and by almost any measure are smart, and yet seem unable to learn from the environment or experience.
Two excellent examples are the people who ran the NASA shuttle program. In two cases the people in charge ignored abundant evidence from the physical world, as well as advise and information from highly trained experts and technical people, and went ahead with actions that caused billions of dollars in damage and killed seven highly trained people. I doubt that you can find a single instance of an adverse event that caused millions of dollars in damage and or killed more than a dozen people that did not involve very smart people doing things a moderately intelligent 5th grader could have told them was stupid. Like trying to launch into orbit a very complex system in temperatures outside of the design parameters.
So, since there is no word to describe these people, I hereby create st00pid. I use zeros to spell the word in order to call attention to its more inclusive implication of not learning new things. This inability to learn new things is not global. That is, if the new item does not conflict to much with a persons per-conceived notions, and/or if the new information comes from an accepted authority figure, than a person can learn the new material. The problem comes if the new material is in conflict with a persons existing world view, and its source is not an accepted authority. Often this source is the physical world. That is, people will defer to authority as opposed to their own experience with the physical world.
Sometimes, people will just be to locked into a paradigm to change. Scientists, even the most brilliant, can be like this.
You can go here to see the entire quote and others by Max Planck but: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” This mind set is true for most scientists, most of the time, and for almost all scientists some of the time. Even the greatest, such as Einstein, can fall victim to this. Do a search on Einstein, Quantum mechanics, uncertainty to see how he refused to accept one of the key ideas of twentieth century physics. An idea that he helped to discover. St00pidity is almost universal. Be aware of that.
After I lay out my case, I will offer some suggestions on how most people can, by following a few simple rules, with some relatively simple mental exercises, change their innate tendency to become st00pid and possibly avoid being victims of the st00pidity of others and avoid being victims of psychopaths.
This is a work in progress, and I am aware of a need for editing, redundancies etc. I will be updating this on a quasi regular basis. Feel free to use the comments section on the bottom to offer suggestions, or refute any of my logic or evidence. Consider this as part I, theory. Part II will be applying this theory to various problems.
You will see links in this paper that seem to not quite fit in the location where they are. They are there now to be expanded upon later.
As much as possible I will base all my writings in this article on irrefutable axioms or observations, for example “The universe exists”, or “Nature can not be fooled” Often I will discuss the axiom, for example, what exactly does it mean to try and fool nature? An approximate order of the ideas covered in this paper — and you can take it as a very rough index:
Part 0. Introduction
Part I Foundations / beginnings / god
Part II. On Trying to Fool nature
Part III. Words, Language and the Nature of Humans.
Part IV. Activity in the Brain. But probably NOT thinking
Part V. Possible ways of addressing problems.
Part 0, Introduction
In writing this paper (book?) I have discovered that when one begins to comment on foundations, or at least when I began to, that I never seemed to get to the bottom or the origins. I kept going farther down. I think that I am there now, or at least close, but perhaps one of you reading this will disabuse me of that notion.
This paper is about the physical tangible world, the problems that exist in it, and some possible solutions. This paper is not about reality, truth, god or values. This is because, as I will explain below, I do not think that humans can actually have accurate information about any of the first three as they pertain to the physical world in which we humans find themselves, and because I see that people use “values” as just a highfalutin word for opinion.
However, as I will explain later, nature has wired the vast majority of people think that the problems that humans have, and the solutions to those problems involve reality, truth, god and values. Because of this, the first part of this paper will be devoted to explaining why I think this belief is false and an illusion. As a degreed scientist with an actual BS in mathematics I am well aware that my theory / hypothesis could be wrong. Because the foundations are the foundations, I will attempt to show that regardless of the nature of god or his existence, my naturalistic approach to these problems is valid and will be more likely to produce results that most people want than other approaches. To do this I shall rely on the ideas of Baruch Spinoza who appears to have been way smarter than I am, and some early Christian thinkers. With regard to Spinoza I confess that I have trouble following his work in its original form. Seriously, when the first sentence is:
I. BY THAT which is SELF-CAUSED, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.http://users.erols.com/nbeach/spinoza.html You know that you will be lucky to stay awake beyond the first page.
I have read more than one synopsis of his work and agree with what I understand his point of view to be. He is considered to be a founder of contemporary western philosophy. For example, consider this from Hegel: said of all contemporary philosophers, “You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”
His writings attracted much attention. In addition to getting on a list of books prohibited by the Catholic Church, he managed the rare feat of getting excommunicated by the Jewish community: On July 27, 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem (Hebrew: ???, a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication) against the 23 year old Spinoza.
While I doubt that this was a unique event, I have not been able to find another person so “honored” by Jewish religious authorities.
Spinoza earned these rewards from the authorities by writing a paper on ethics and the nature of god. He wrote that what is, is and what is is god. I think, and you may agree, that this is an argument against free will. An argument against free will, is also a kind of Christian argument against judging others.
While familiarity with Spinoza is not necessary to understand what I write below, you may wish to take a few minutes to go to the link above on Spinoza and to read a bit of the commentary about his writings. Like him, I accept the fact that we finite humans can not understand the infinite, and can only understand what we can perceive. Unlike him, I attempt to keep things really simple since I really do have a simple mind, at least one unable to understand many of his writings as he wrote them.
There is a greatly simplified version of his works here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Spinoza
where, among other things is this: Spinoza viewed God and Nature as two names for the same reality, namely the single substance (meaning “that which stands beneath” rather than “matter”) that is the basis of the universe and of which all lesser “entities” are actually modes or modifications, that all things are determined by Nature to exist and cause effects, and that the complex chain of cause and effect is understood only in part. His identification of God with nature was more fully explained in his posthumously published Ethics. That humans presume themselves to have free will, he argues, is a result of their awareness of appetites while being unable to understand the reasons why they want and act as they do. Spinoza has been described by one writer as an “Epicurean materialist.”
If you wish a slightly different point of view of the nature of humans in the world, this one gives the view of Buddha on thinking and truth.
This paper is really an attempt to get to basics of what is causing most of the problems in our culture. By problems, I mean all those things that almost all people do not like. That would be things like so many people not being able to find work, or work that they like, at a wage that would enable a person working 40 hours a week to support a mate and two children. Other things that most people consider problems are our high rates of crime and incarceration compared to the rest of the world, the high cost and poor outcomes of health care compared to the rest of the world, and other similar things. As people think about our problems, many may see as problems the fact that we spend almost as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, and have as many aircraft battle carrier groups as the rest of the world combined and have twice as many ballistic missile submarines as the rest of the world combined. And remember, I am including our allies in this. These submarines at a cost of four billion each with two 165 man crews are not exactly cheap to operate. I see most of the debates that go on in the areas of economics or morality or law, as nothing more than people who are not nearly as smart as they think that they are, and paid way to much money, emitting sounds at each other that most of them do not really understand.
Look at it this way. No one would claim that an economist or federal judge is any smarter than a Nobel prize winner in physics or chemistry. But those scientists manage to settle their disagreements and move on to explore new areas of the physical world. They may not agree on the nature of gravity on a universal wide scale, or the nature of life, but they have enough of an understanding of physics to manipulate the physical environment to a degree that our great grandparents seldom dreamed of.
For those interested in some current arguments on gravity:
However, our legal scholars, economists, and moralists never cease talking about the same things over and over again, and if you look at their discussions, it is often little more than name calling. For much of what they say, there is abundant evidence that their pronunciations, if they have meaning, are flat out wrong. Consider the recent example from Mitt Romney speaking about the “filth” of pornography. http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/02/15/426391/romney-anti-porn-pledge-ignores-contribution-pornographer/
Without exception, every single study of which I am aware says that the less knowledge people have about sex, the more likely they are to end up pregnant, or with an STD. And if pornography is such a problem, then why did rape rates peak just as the internet started to be widely used http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm ? Peaking at 43 per 100,000 in 1992 and going down almost every year since then until in 2010 it was less than 27 per 100,000. One would think that if people were swimming in such dangerous water http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/mitt-romney-porn_n_1446654.html?ref=elections-2012 that it would have had a negative impact on their behavior. On the contrary, all statistics indicate that what Mr. Romney calls filth causes people to behave better.
With almost all of our leaders, what seems to matter in obtaining leadership is not what they say, but how loudly they emit sounds, and how long they do it. I call this the mike affect named after this chimpanzee described here: http://www.janegoodall.org/janes-story. Of course many of you will react to this story by thinking that humans are smarter than chimps. Do not bet to much on that: http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/02/leaders-emerge-by-talking-first-and.php The key bit of information that you want to take away from this bit of research is this: In reality the leaders did not always make the best contribution to the task, but their voices were usually heard first and most often. And … their suggestions to the group were no better, or even worse than others.
I hope that this paper sheds some light on these subjects, and that you will stick with it, and perhaps learn something. Or, even better, tell me where I am way wrong 🙂 If you can supply evidence that I am wrong, than I will learn something.
A primary target of this paper is anybody under the age of 25, or those who are not in a religion that claims to be the TRUE faith. Those in the first category are still capable of changing their minds, and those in the TRUE faith category form a group that I am unable to reach, and in most cases would choose death over the possibility of being wrong.
Since the times of Spinoza we humans have learned much more about the physical world, and ourselves. We can actually see brains working, including the brains of psychopaths. We have developed entirely new ways of looking at our physical world and of thinking about it, the methods described as science.
What I hope will set my work apart from others is that it not only introduces ways of seeing and dealing with the physical world, including what many see as intractable problems, but these ways can be tested, and are based on testable / measurable observations about the physical world, not just beliefs. In addition, the solutions that I propose will come from first principles grounded, not in opinion, or some imaginary absolute values, but in the physical world and how it works.
For example when I put forth the idea that bigger government produces worse results for populations than smaller governments, and that regulation, over the long term always produces worse results for the populace than responsibility, I will do this by, among other things, eliminating almost all ambiguity in the terms that I use, and by moving in very few logical steps from universally agreed upon first principles, to conclusions.
Another way of saying this is that, for the most part, our founding fathers had really great ideas, but that these ideas were mostly the opinions of very smart men backed up by some history and experience. I have the advantage of many decades of scientific research and tests, by thousands of skilled men and women trained and educated in various areas of science, and an abundance of empirical evidence. Almost all this information shows that their theories were right and in fact, had a high degree of correspondence to the physical world, of which humans are a part. That is, you can take a statement like that of Benjamin Franklin
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” and show that it is true in the sense that it has never seldom been falsified over a period of 100 years. That is, some security can be TEMPORARILY purchased by some freedom, but that eventually, both will be lost.
In the end I expect to show that the culture that, by almost all measures that anyone can make, that gives the greatest good to the greatest number is one where there is the least possible regulation, the greatest freedom of individual behavior, the most communication, the least privacy, the fewest laws. It is a culture that many would consider immoral. However, this “immoral” vies exists because almost all moral positions, other than the obvious ones that are almost universally agreed upon such as do not steal, do not initiate the use of force, do not lie in business dealings, etc., are nothing more than the personal preferences of people with very authoritarian tendencies and dressed up as unquestionable sacred rules. My position here is not new or unique. I suspect that much of it was first stated almost 2600 years ago by Lao Tzu.
if you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
The Master doesn’t try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.
The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.
The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.
Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.
Part I Foundations / beginnings / god
I am an agnostic. Even if there is a god, I do not pretend to be able to understand it. It is my obligation to make my ideas as acceptable as possible to the widest possible audience. For those who believe in a supernatural being I present the following argument that, even if you disagree with my view of the world, I think that it should be given some serious consideration.
Let us assume that there is some kind of supernatural creature who created the natural world. How would we come to know this creature? I can see only two ways, both of which contain sets of assumptions. One way is that this creature, and from now I will call this creature god, and it will be male, could have interacted with us directly. He could have revealed himself directly to some people directly to their mind (I believe that this is called revealed truth) or he could have left written documents (the gold tablets of the Mormons come to mind) or he could have spoken to one or more individuals; think the burning bush and Moses.
Now a basic assumption in the above is that we are creatures who were created by god in his image. You can see the relevant verbiage starting at Genesis 1:25. That of course raises the question of, what exactly does the phrase “in his image” mean? What makes us, in some ways, different from all the other creatures that this god created? It is not our morals, for almost all social animals have morals that, as measured by most people in most ways, are at least as “good” as ours.
There are in fact, few things that set us apart from all other animals. Two of these things are the ability to use fire, and to manipulate abstract symbols, that is to read and write. These two qualities enabled us to study and manipulate the physical world in ways that no other animal can do. What makes us “in gods image” is not our physical body but our mental abilities. This leads me to:
The second way that we can know this creature, as opposed to divine revelation, is that we can study his works directly. That is, we can study the physical world that god created according to his principles and the he called good. We humans inhabit it. This, of course, if true, would make scientists and engineers the true disciples of god. Consider for example: http://bible.cc/matthew/17-20.htm. Have any of you ever seen a man of god move a mountain? Ever? Even just a little bit?
Now consider some engineers who have the problem of diverting a river, or building a dam, or gaining access to minerals. They need to, quite literally, move a mountain. And the do it. You will note that Jesus did not say that the mountain would move instantly. What he said was “ ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Engineers do those things on a daily basis all over the world. So, I claim that those who study the actual physical works of god, are more in tune with the mind of god than those who study the words of men written on paper.
Which is most likely the best way of coming to know god? Is there any evidence or logic that supports one way over the other? And, at this point, I am going to introduce an assumption, The God Assumption, TGA, and that assumption is that god is one who prefers peace to war, harmony to strife, and that his creatures maximize their potential by making the best use of the one thing that most differentiates them from all other creatures, to wit: their brains/minds. It is a humans ability to think that gives her free will, assuming that free will exists. God really does prefer that humans not kill each other. Call the second way the observed way. We come to know god, whatever that may be, by observing his works. As I will show later, our powers of observation are weak, so we can not ever know the truth about the physical world. At best we can build models or theories about it. Stephen Hawking discusses this at length in his book, The Grand Design.
There are many Christians who share my view: http://www.christian-history.org/bible-interpretation.html and
God Himself Rejects Literal Bible Interpretation
As you can see, the early churches charged the Holy Spirit himself with purposely introducing things that would stir us to search for deeper truths. Truths that would be hidden to the lazy and complacent but revealed to those who diligently sought for them.
They give numerous examples. We know that the Bible says that no food is unclean (Mark 7:18-19; Acts 10:14-15; 1 Tim. 4:3-4; etc.). Yet the Law makes it clear that some animals are unclean, and there are even Christian denominations, like the Seventh Day Adventists, that ignore the New Testament and forbid the eating of unclean meats.
So, we have two models of god, one from revealed truth, and one an observational model. Obviously, we must ask ourselves which is more likely lead humans to the most accurate understanding of the nature of god?
Well, if we look at those who follow the revealed way, we see very many different descriptions of who god is and what he wants. We see, for at least two thousand years, that the followers of the revealed way are in a state of almost continuous intellectual, and often physical warfare. We see them acting in ways that are directly contrary to their own words. We see, in how followers of this way act, no harmony and little agreement on what god wants from humans. We, in fact, do not see peace, but war and strife, torture and all forms of sexual abuse of children and women. Most of all, we see that the proclaimed representatives of god do not encourage humans to use their god given talents and to think for themselves, but to follow in blind obedience. Of course this is called obedience to god, and faith, but unless someone has heard god directly, (and we often lock these people up, after they have killed a few people) it is really obedience to someone who claims to speak for god. Obedience is also abandonment of free will.
What I think is an interesting comment on “free will”: As an agnostic and one who thinks of himself as a scientist, I do not believe in free will. But, surely if such a thing existed, then it would be most realized by people thinking on their own and following what their own investigations of the physical world told them was the best path, and NOT simply being obedient to others simply because those others occupied positions of authority. If free will does exist, then being obedient to authority is giving up that free will. My son does not obey me because I am his father, but because experience, my rational presentation of information and logic and his own use of his own mind lead him to agree that my way is probably the best way. But he makes the decision, he does not obey out of faith or some dangerous notion of obedience.
Back to the best view of god. How do we know that someone speaks for god? We do not. Some claim that they speak for god and as evidence they claim to perform miracles in his name. Those are magic tricks. A miracle would be when someone lays on their hands and causes a limb to regrow.
There is another bit of information regarding those who proclaim themselves to be godly. Select any measure of religiosity in a geographic area. It may be self proclaimed belief in god, frequency of church attendance, number of churches, or any other similar measure. Now select some measure of quality of life or morality. This could be level of education, per capita income, sexual diseases, out of wedlock childbirth, divorce, crime, addiction, homicide, infant mortality, life expectancy. Anything that measures quality of life and/or morality. In almost all instances you will find that the more godly a given area, the less the quality of life, the less moral, and the more inclined to criminal activity. It is almost as if, if there is a god, that said god punishes faith.
Here is another point. If there were a god, and if he were going to communicate with us, would he not use a language that is universal, and almost devoid of ambiguity. Something that essentially eliminated the possibility of mistranslation? Well, there is such a language: Galileo Galilei is reported to have said, “Mathematics is the language with which God wrote the universe.” You can read more about this language here
Of course, if we follow this logic, then the true representatives of god here on earth, the ones best able to comprehend him through is actual works as manifested in nature are not priests but scientists. Ask yourselves, who are less inclined to being involved in scandal, politics and violence? Priests or scientists?
I am preparing a comprehensive table with listed sources, but this comprises a typical source god belief vs quality of life. You are welcome to find other sources by simply searching the terms religiosity and “quality of life”. All studies for large numbers of people show the same thing. The more there is a belief in god as defined by a book, the less the quality of life. The only possible exception is among people suffering severe illness.
Given the above information, I am going to go with the second model, the observational model. If you wish to hold a view that error prone humans reading words in books (various forms of the bible) that were written by error prone humans, originally in a language that you do not speak, can tell you what truth is then you are unlikely to see anything of value in what I write below. On the other hand, if you think that humans can understand the world by investigating it, or can come to know something about god by carefully examining his works, including humans, and that the best models, the ones that make the most consistent and accurate predictions, are built by smart people using their god-given brains, then continue reading. Unlike those who claim to obtain a knowledge of god from books, scientists have never committed violence, including torture and killing, against each other because of disagreements over their theories about gods works or how god/nature works. When there is disagreement, which there often is, the scientists put their disagreement before the ultimate judge, nature/god and let it render its verdict.
Because I am going with the scientific view that does not mean that I do not believe in god. As I said, I do not know. And while few scientists today, especially world class scientists are believers, it turns out, that without exception, the founders of modern scientific thought, especially physics, were all strong believers. In fact, it was their belief that there was a god who wrote the rules of nature that led them to develop the laws of physics http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/04/06/how-the-modern-physics-was-invented-in-the-17th-century-part-1-the-needham-question/?WT_mc_id=SA_WR_20120411 . Those who are believers in God, and those who are just curious, in fact almost everyone except the true believing atheist, will probably find the above link to be an enjoyable and informative read. Be sure to click the link to part II where you will read this:
“The Genesis of the Concept of Physical Law” (1942), where he showed that the expressions “Physical Law” and “Law of Nature” emerged in the 17th century within Biblical worldview by transforming an idea of the Universe governed by laws decreed by God into a basic notion of scientific discourse. 
By way of ending this discussion of foundations and the nature of / existence of god, here is a summation of my position. I am unsure of the nature or existence of god. For those of you whose life centers on such a concept, the following, based in part on Spinoza, is my view of this matter. I think that most believers in god will not find it unacceptable.
- The world exists
- Any work in which man has had a hand is likely to contain errors
- If there is a god, then the world is his work
- What makes humans unique is their abilities to investigate the world and construct testable intellectual models of it. This is known as science. The uniqueness of humans does not come from any morality that sets us apart from the other animals since most social animals have a morality very similar to ours. What sets us apart are the following: Humans can use fire and can read — that is process abstract symbols. These two abilities underly our greatest ability, a creation that could be credited to Issac Newton and his contemporaries, and that is science. If we are, indeed, created in the image of god, than that would mean that our unique brain is in his image.
- If we are to know god it will be by studying his works directly, that is the physical world, not books which are, after all, the works of men who are fallible.
Now that I have explained my view of a possible god, what about those other concepts: reality, truth, and values? Outside of formal logic and mathematics the concept of truth has no meaning. Another way of saying this is that I subscribe to the minimalist theory of truth. Fact is a word similar to truth as are the worLoberts ds proof, real or reality. You will note that I rarely use these words and their associated concepts. I much prefer concepts like evidence and information. As I said above, Stephen Hawking discusses these concepts in his book, A Grand Design.
As a side note, there are current theories that state that information is the foundation of the universe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_information. Those who wish to use a god interpretation of this concept can refer to this statement: In the beginning was the word: If that works for you, it works for me.
Everything that I have read has lead me to the conclusion that mens minds are simply not up to the task of accurately observing and reporting what their owners think that they saw. Almost every single study on the subject provides evidence that humans have a tendency to not accurately see what is in front of them, to not see some things at all, to see things that are not there, and to not accurately remember what they think that they saw or experienced.
For that, and similar reasons, I use a concept of model dependent realism. That is, in our minds, and based on experience, we construct models of what we think the world is like. We then lead our lives in a way that corresponds to these models. But these models are not reality, which is why our actions so often generate unexpected results
To summarize: I am not a man of faith. Almost everything I believe is subject to modification in light of new evidence and logical argument. If you are a person of deep abiding unshakable faith who believes that you should follow authority as opposed to what your own experience and mind tells you, the you can stop reading now, as you will get no benefit from my ideas. I put forth the above discussion because I will often reference the idea that man is as he is by virtue of evolution. Those who preceded us who had the best traits for the environments in which they lived were our ancestors. Those whose traits were not such a good fit, did not pass on those traits to the offspring that they did not have. Unfortunately, many of the traits that were a good fit for widely dispersed agricultural or hunter gatherer tribes, or farmers in relatively simple agricultural societies may not be so good for large nations of individuals where the only social units exerting any influence on people are governmental or corporations, or maybe the occasional church. The tribe no longer exists, and the family has relatively little power because of its small size.
For those who are open to something other than blind obedience to authority, I felt that the above would enable you to be more accepting of such ideas.
Part II. On Trying to Fool Nature
One of the few things of which I am certain, other than I exist, is that Nature can not be fooled. I first came across this statement by Richard Feynman at the end of his minority report on the Challenger explosion. Of course this raises the question of what, exactly, does it mean to try and fool nature.
In the instance of the Challenger Failure, it is fairly clear that what the management at NASA was doing was lying. If you read the minority report you will see that on many occasions that when they came across a problem, rather than fix it, they defined it away. Dr. Feynman points this out in the above link. Here are a few quotes from that report. It is east to see how NASA management tried to fool nature by lying:
But, if the real probability is not so small, flights would show troubles, near failures, and possible actual failures with a reasonable number of trials. and standard statistical methods could give a reasonable estimate. In fact, previous NASA experience had shown, on occasion, just such difficulties, near accidents, and accidents, all giving warning that the probability of flight failure was not so very small (1 in 100,000)
But erosion and blow-by are not what the design expected. They are warnings that something is wrong. The equipment is not operating as expected, and therefore there is a danger that it can operate with even wider deviations in this unexpected and not thoroughly understood way. The fact that this danger did not lead to a catastrophe before is no guarantee that it will not the next time, unless it is completely understood. When playing Russian roulette the fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next.
The O-rings of the Solid Rocket Boosters were not designed to erode. Erosion was a clue that something was wrong. Erosion was not something from which safety can be inferred.
This report is very important because it shows how incredibly the entire management structure of NASA is. They refused to learn. They were st00pid. Go here, or just just read this quote: Aug. 27–The causes of the Columbia tragedy were foreshadowed 17 years ago in a report by the presidential panel that investigated the Challenger explosion.
People on the commission who investigated the explosion and those familiar with its report said Tuesday they were struck by similarities in the Columbia report, which included a chapter drawing parallels between the two. It even quoted former NASA astronaut Sally Ride saying there were “echoes of Challenger in Columbia.”
“Why would I read it?” asked Don Kutyna, a retired Air Force general and member of the panel that investigated the Challenger disaster. “It’s just a Xerox copy …”
To a great extent, the causes referred to are not in the body of the Rogers/Challenger report, but in Feynmans minority report.
A more common form of trying to fool nature is to assume that she does not respond to our behavior, but of course she always does. We may not see the response, but that does not mean that the response is not there. For example we can raise the atmospheric levels of CO2 to levels not seen in over a half million years, and pretend that this will have no affect on the climate or the acidity of the ocean. The fact that we choose to ignore the evidence that every species on the planet that can move to cooler climates, including plants, is doing so does not mean that they are not doing so or that the world is not getting warmer.
We can put all kinds of chemicals into our environment, in particular anti-biotics, and plastics / endocrine disrupting chemicals, and assume that nature will not react in the form of the creation of organisms that are immune to the affects of those drugs, or that, for some reason, our bodies will not react to exposure to these chemicals. Of course that is, as we now see, foolish. The environment reacts to our actions. Just because we do not immediately die, or break out in oozing sores upon exposure to hundreds of toxic chemicals in small doses, does not mean that the affects on our bodies are benign or non existent. You are attempting to fool nature when you act and do not accept the fact that nature will react. The best that you can do is to try and understand what the reaction of nature will be. I will say more about this later.
It may seem obvious that we can not fool nature, yet both failures of the space shuttles were nothing more than the results of arrogant people thinking that it could be done. There are some who would claim, and I am one of them, that humans engaging in trade are part of nature, and that when a trade happens there is an exchange of things of value. In fact, this idea of exchanging items of value is not limited to humans. Do a search on the terms primates food sex exchange. If this is true, that the concept of value is part of nature, then one should give weight to my hypothesis that our entire banking system is doomed to failure because it is based on exchanging things that have no real value (paper) for things that do. I am not saying that a contract or a promissory note has no value, I am saying that the banking system using dollars, or euros or any other such paper is doomed to failure because these pieces of paper represent nothing. Later I hope to explore the idea that a financial system that is not based, in some sense, on some actual physical commodity is an attempt to fool nature on a global scale and, like the shuttle, will eventually fail, and will do so catastrophically.
Nature is what she is. You can learn about her by paying attention and not attempting to impose your preconceived notions one her, but rather accepting what she says as the only truth that there is. You can test your understanding of this truth by using it to make predictions. You can sometimes nudge her in a preferred direction, for example by giving vaccinations thereby imitating nature, or by creating a reduced oxygen environment thus increasing the number of red blood cells in your body. But using fake food, or created artificial drugs, or similar things may fix a short term problem. As a long term solution for anything it will probably fail.
Part III. Words and Language and the Nature of Humans.
Much of what I have to say deals with language, words, meaning and related subjects. I wish to be completely clear on how I am using certain words, and I wish that the way in which I use them is clear. In other words I want to avoid, as much as possible, the use of Humpty Dumpty speak a common enough form of speech in middle and upper management and and almost the only language spoken in politics. I include the nature of humans in this section because written language is one of the few things about humans that is unique in the animal world.
If an alien race wanted to essentially exterminate us, all that they would have to do is to make us illiterate. Among other things this paper will show that a large number of our problems come from language and its (mis)use. Let me give an example from the current front runner for the republican nomination for the presidency, Mitt Romney.
The American economy is fueled by freedom. Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in lifting people out of poverty. It is the only principle that has ever created sustained prosperity.
But, over the last three years, this administration has been engaged in an assault on our freedom.
This is the first substantive statement that I came across in this speech
which was the first speech that turned up in a search using these words: economic freedom Romney:
I chose these words because economics and freedom are often used in political discourse, and at the time of this writing Romney is making the most speeches.
So, before three years ago, this country was just peachy, with banks failing, major industries crashing, the stock market falling over 40% in 15 months, and the average person seeing much if not all of their wealth disappearing? According to Romney, getting us back to where we are now is an assault on freedom, but all of those things that happened before Obama took office was “sustained prosperity, lifting the people out of poverty”. Well possibly, but when people are unemployed bankrupt, and hungry, with few if any jobs available, what exactly does that sentence mean?
And then of course there is the politicians idea of freedom. In general, it is no more than “those industrialists who give me the most money have the freedom to do whatever they want, backed by the state, and their victims have little if any recourse.” You would be hard pressed to find a counter-example.
I am going to do what Issac Newton and his contemporaries did over 300 years ago for science. I will attempt to use words with unambiguous meanings and in a consistent way.
I will start with some irrefutable axioms, specify the problem, and offer some solutions. I will lay out the axioms in as little a space as possible, hopefully, a page or less. Everything else will be evidence or commentary. I do it this way because I think that, if a description of the physical world and a way of addressing problems one has with said world has validity, than it can be delivered in a brief amount of verbiage. If it takes a lot of words to lay out the fundamentals of a problem and solution, than the author probably does not understand what he is saying, or is saying BS. Consider the following examples.
- Newtons Laws of motion
- Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism
- The Schordinger Equation : This drives all, or almost all, of quantum mechanics
- The speed of light is constant. This is the observation that drives all of special and general relativity. Everything else is mathematical proof and commentary.
Below I will put forth five axioms, and some additional rules and observations that, I think, explain almost all of human behavior. If I am correct, then what follows after that, ideas about how to make our current environment less problematical will also, hopefully, be accurate. Humans, being much more complex, fuzzy, and even more messy than the physical world — and yes, I am aware that humans are physical — my axioms and observations are a bit more verbose than the ones above which all pertain to physics. Still, I did manage to get them all on one page.
As you can see, only axiom five may be mine. In a way, they are all related. Their authors /sources are from the recent past to 2500 years ago, and from all over the globe. I use the term source to indicate that this idea is a derivative of someone else’s thoughts
My Five Axioms
- Nature can not be fooled Richard Feynman
- If you wish to fix a problem, you must first understand what the problem is. Derived from Sun Tzu
- By definition the world is logical. The world follows the laws of nature. From Spinoza. Thus when referring to the physical world, and that includes humans and their actions, the statement “that makes no sense” can not be true. The true statement is “I do not understand that”. People can still say things that do not make sense. They often do.
- The physical world, including humans is dynamic. By definition, evolution exists and works. From Darwin.Some commentary here: One key to understanding human nature is understanding how evolution works, and what survival of the fittest means. Survival of the fittest describes how complex organic species of self replicating systems in dynamic environments change over time along with their environments. Rather than systems evolving in an environment think of everything evolving / changing together. This change almost always happens in a direction of greater complexity. Evolution works by selecting that which best fits the existing environment. Again, this is the definition. Thus, in a rapidly changing environment, such as the ones that humans have created, evolution will will not begin to fail, since by definition it can not fail, but it will work differently. That is to say, adaptations that worked in the past will no longer work as well or at all. In the case of humans, brains that were designed to work by doing what worked before, that is to learn from and be obedient to authority, will now be at a selection disadvantage compared with brains that give priority to direct experience. That is just beginning to happen. Now, most brains are designed to defer to authority. That is, they were selected for stupid.
- This is my contribution: There are two different kinds of thoughts that we can have, or ways that we can think. One way, the first and oldest, is about feelings, emotions, likes/dislikes etc. Even today, this occupies 99% of our higher mental processes. The other way is about sensible things. These are things that have two properties. They can be sensed by our five senses, and can, in some way, be measured and thus quantified. By thinking about sensible things I mean solving problems, especially new ones. So eating, traveling, even when driving, do not qualify. A dog hunting prey is not thinking. When you drive your car, you are likely thinking less about that process then when a monkey or wolf finds his way through the woods. Thinking is not the automated processes that animals, including humans use on a day to day process. Thinking is the stuff of stories, morals, discoveries, technical manuals etc. It is the higher mental processes, and I will especially address the 1 percent that is sensible thinking.
In addition to these axioms I have made or come across (as in others observed and wrote about them) the following observations. I believe that none of them can be falsified.
- Humans are pattern recognition systems. Nature / evolution has biased our pattern recognition process to error on the side of false positives. We more often see things that are not there, than not see things that are there. There is a reason for this in terms of evolution. An ancestor with a tendency to see a lion in the grass when it was the wind was a lot less likely to be eaten than the ancestor who upon seeing the moving grass always assumed that it was not a lion. Almost all human pattern recognition is not the result of thinking as I used the term in axiom 5, but an automatic process done at the level of emotions. It is fast and efficient, and in new environments is often wrong, and thus can lead to unwanted outcomes.
- Almost everything pertaining to biological systems that can be measured will be found to have whatever is measured distributed along a normal distribution. A number of these things, probably most undiscovered and not described, go to make up the human personality. While we do not know what these attributes are, we do classify people who have high measures of some of these in certain ways. For example we have people who are entertainers, competitors, aspergers, bi-polar, creative, retarded, savant, Williams Syndrome, psychopaths, charismatic, brilliant, leaders, gay, trans-sexual, etc. One measure of the in-exactness of our measures is that the characteristics listed above, along with others, often overlap, and except for a few with known genetic causes, are not clearly delineated. Even things that we tend to think of as either or such as male/female are really comprised of many traits distributed in each of us along normal distributions. In a case like MF the standard deviations tend to be quite small. That is, the vast majority of people are either typically male or female with a relatively small number, including those who are gay, not falling into that category.
- Very few humans are rational, and very few have accurate views of their environment. Despite certainty, humans memories can be, at best, considered, maybe 95% accurate, and that accuracy drops off dramatically if the subject being remembered is emotionally charged or for many other reasons. The accuracy of most individuals memories also drops off with time.
- The peter principle is an accurate description of how human made systems work. In large organizations it often runs from bottom to top. It isolates the decision makers from the physical world, and leads, almost always, to the collapse of the organization / hierarchy.
- Humans, by nature, are authoritarian
- Systems are fragile and fail, and when they fail, they tend to do so catastrophically. Networks are flexible and if they fail, fail in a flexible manner. See this, and this
- Nature has no values or goals. Nature Just is.
- Evil / psychopathy avoids publicity and seeks secrecy. Conversely, good seeks publicity, and avoids secrecy. This is a generalization and there are some exceptions.
Put this all together and you can explain why and how our culture is in the mess that it is in. Understanding the problem makes it possible to suggest solutions. In the following pages I will offer evidence to support all the above statements and possible fixes to the problems we as humans face.
Brief Elaborations on the Above
Axiom 1: Nature can not be fooled: I discussed just one aspect of this above, that is explicitly trying to violate laws of nature. You can not do this. Aircraft do not violate the laws of gravity. Drugs, like aspirin, seldom make you healthy, they just mask symptoms so you continue to get sicker. Nature is much more complex than humans think that she is, and humans have been designed, via evolution, to work and process information in the short term, in a relative simple way. And nature does not care. She just keeps throwing the dice and selecting the survivors. There is no goal, and if you look at the history, more than one culture has been so successful that it has killed itself.
There are many ways in which humans attempt to violate the laws of nature, and I will touch on some of them below. Let me mention a general large area here. Differences in size can not be ignored. A sufficiently large change in quantity, will cause a change in quality or type. That is why the legs of a Rhinoceros (river horse), are so much different from the legs of a regular horse. Of particular interest to most people should be the idea that what works in small groups may fail in large groups. In particular bureaucracies have limits beyond which they simply can not work. Unfortunately, their failure to work is not noticed because the inertia of the large system keeps going long after its bureaucracy has become a cancer. Think the failure of GM, or all empires. I do not think that this can be fixed. That is, I think that above a certain size, an organization structured along hierarchical principles will fail. There are reasons for this that I will discuss below.
A village can dump its waste on the ground or in the stream and nature will process this waste and recycle it. People will not die from diseases created by their waste. This does not work for a city of a million people. While our biomass is still just a small fraction of the biomass of the planet, we produce a lot more waste and use a lot more resources than the rest of the planet, including, but not limited to phosphorous and water. To think that we can somehow ignore this, and continue to dump waste gases, notably CO2 into the environment without unpredictable, and quite possibly unpleasant consequences, is to attempt to fool nature and to attempt to ignore her laws by refusing to acknowledge the problems of scale. Individual humans, and even large groups of humans can be fooled. But eventually, any system which goes against the nature of humans will fail.
Axiom 3: By definition the world is logical. The world follows the laws of nature. From Spinoza
A person may act in a manner that is self destructive, but if you understand the situation that includes this person, then you will understand this persons actions. A person may say something that is not logical, but a person can not be not logical. Thus the statement “that does not make sense” when applied to the physical world as opposed to a statement made by a person, is never true. What is true when referring to something in the physical world is “I do not understand that”. This is, essentially, my understanding of the ideas of Spinoza. It could also be a variant of axiom 1.
A slight digression here for another view of Spinoza with which I am not altogether unsympathetic. This is from Richard Feynman.
“My son is taking a course in philosophy, and last night we were looking at something by Spinoza and there was the most childish reasoning! There were all these attributes, and Substances, and all this meaningless chewing around, and we started to laugh. Now how could we do that? Here’s this great Dutch philosopher, and we’re laughing at him. It’s because there’s no excuse for it! In the same period there was Newton, there was Harvey studying the circulation of the blood, there were people with methods of analysis by which progress was being made! You can take every one of Spinoza’s propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and look at the world and you can’t tell which is right.”
And here is still another view of the importance of philosophy in the current world.
I take the view that it is not weather philosophy has anything to offer or not, but when and how should we we give serious consideration to questions about things that we can not measure. The fact that we can not yet measure what happens inside a black hole, or at the planck length, or do not know the implications of quantum theory, or what if anything is beyond the observable universe does not mean that we should not think about these things. This is where philosophy comes in.
I take the view that it is not weather philosophy has anything to offer or not, but when and how should we we give serious consideration to questions about things that we can not measure. The fact that we can not yet measure what happens inside a black hole, or at the planck length, or do not know the implications of quantum theory, or what if anything is beyond the observable universe does not mean that we should not think about these things. This is where philosophy comes in.
This is yet another example: The writers here discuss the idea that the underlying cause of everything is information, or as the authors said in their book on Gravitation in 1975, formal logic.
Clearly there is no way to measure anything yet, but I doubt that it would be a good idea to just ignore all of these ideas.
As a practical example consider a problem in physics. Is light a wave or a particle, which is related to the idea of how can a wave move through emptiness? After all, there has to be some medium for the wave to disturb. This apparent inconsistency is the result of humans taking concepts from everyday experience and attempting to force them onto nature, as opposed to accepting nature as it is. Nature is not shaped by our perceptions. Our perceptions are shaped by nature, and we should not take our perceptions from one level and attempt to force them onto another level.
Axiom 4: You can claim that drug addicted, and here I include alcohol, welfare mothers having 5 children by six different men are not fit. All that this demonstrates is that you do not understand the concept of survival of the fittest. By definition such a woman is very fit for her environment. One could say that she is five times more fit than a Nobel prize winning Olympian who only had one child since she passed on here genes five times more than the superwoman. If you do not like what you see, you may wish to change the environment. Darwinian “fitness” is not measured by any human standards, but by how many genes a person propagates. Sperm donors could be considered the most fit of all people.
Thus if a character trait exists and is wide spread in human populations then either it has had survival benefits for individuals and/or the tribes of which they were members, or like, for example, homosexuality and other forms of sexuality that do not lend themselves to reproduction, it is an “error in construction”, but it is the kind of error that happens relatively easily, is not fatal to the organism to whom it happens, and does not pose a threat to other members of the tribe.
Environments change, and traits that were once beneficial may become, in new environments, either neutral or hostile to survival. A hypothesis of this paper is that the way nature has wired our brains is now, in our current complex and technological environment, detrimental to our long term survival. At one time a very strong survival characteristic of humans was to be authoritarian in nature, and to have good skills in relating to other members of your tribe. Because we had little control or impact on the physical world in which we lived, it was better for individuals to be able to “schmooze” with our fellow tribe members than to say, abstain from pooping in the stream.
But the tribe grew to the size of a city, and pooping in the city caused Typhus. You probably think that this would not happen today. But it does. You think it better to be nice, and “give everyone access to unlimited medical care”, so you, on a daily basis, grow ever more sick as evidenced by the medicines that you take, and pay little if any attention to the food that you eat and exercise hardly at all. This you do while snarfing down foods that were scarce, but are now toxic, to wit, huge amounts of sugar and fat.
You want “cheap energy” so you burn all the coal that you can and as a result ambient mercury levels are about five times higher than they were after WWII, and that does not count the affects of magnification as Hg moves up the food chain.
A large number of behaviors that served us well in an age of scarcity and small tribes is not killing us.
This might be the single original concept that I introduce here. I claimed that there are two ways that humans think about things, sensible and non-sensible. I wish to elaborate on that. I have concluded that among the many ways that the things that we think about can be sliced, diced, categorized and described, that there are two that can be easily described and can prove to be very useful. Those two ways each lie on their own dimension which are kind of parallel to each other. One dimension I call sensible, and the other I call spiritual. And yes, I am well aware that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who think that things can be divided into two two groups, and those who think that more than two groups are required – or that things can not be divided at all. That is, there are people who think that dividing any group or thing into two is not a good idea and should be avoided. If you believe that any self replicating system that follows darwinian selection rules then this position is clearly not valid since a pattern recognition system has to classify events as part of a pattern or not part of a pattern.
This could be considered the heart of the paper, and this part, words and Language and the Nature of Humans is where it is proper to examine it.
While researching this paper I came across many interesting and not obviously connected bits of information. You can feel free to do information searches on the internet to confirm these yourself:
- Lamarck was not entirely wrong. Via a process called epigenetics, the environment can have affects on genes that are inherited. It is not that the genotype is changed, but rather how the gene is expressed is changed, and this is something that can be inherited.
- The Flynn effect. The average IQ of first world populations increase by, three points a decade. This is most pronounced in the middle and lower ranges, and has been observed over all of the world for the past 100 years, but seems to be reaching a limit, and in some areas is decreasing.
- There appears to be an abundance of evidence that in becoming alphabetically literate a society becomes more logical / left brain, masculine, and misogynistic. In fact alphabetic literacy re-wires the brain. The definitive source on this, and one that I have yet to see refuted, is the book “The Alphabet and the Goddess”. Here is a discussion with the author
- If 1, 2 and three are correct, we would expect that the ability of people to do well on written tests would be a function of how long that culture / race / ethnic group has had alphabetic literacy. You would be correct, and a search of the internet using the terms like IQ, race, country etc will produce evidence that supports this. There are those who claim that IQ does not take into account culture. This is not true except as noted here. IQ tests have been developed that are culture free. What IQ measures is ACH thinking, or being able to think in abstractions, categories and hypotheticals. Not being able to do this does not make one stupid. For example if you look at this paper it makes the claim that the IQ of those in Australia is about 60. Read in detail and you find that this is for the indigenous population. But in any real world situation someone with an IQ of 60 could not survive in an environment as demanding as the Australian Outback. IQ tests only test for ACH thinking. Living in the outback does not require this. It requires comprehensive specific knowledge of the environment. Dropped in the middle of Australia and asked to choose a person to help you stay alive for a month, I would much prefer a native with “an IQ of 65” than someone with an IQ of 130 who had a PhD in Australian ecology.
Literacy in general, and alphabetic literacy in particular was part I of of the remaking of humans. It took us from from small hunter-gatherer societies through cultures like the Romans, Chinese, and Mayans. That is large centrally ruled agricultural societies with a small elite, and a large lower class where 90% of the effort was put into growing food, and with occasional small wars. If you question my use of the word small, consider that the greatest size of the roman army was less than ½ million in an empire of 65 million in 200AD. Now consider that in 1865 the union army was almost 1 million men in a nation of 22 million citizens.
The next leap came with the creation of organized scientific thought. While large societies had been making discoveries like metal working, or gunpowder or planetary motions for thousands of years, the investigation of nature was never organized. There was no systematic exploration of our world until Galileo, who was born in 1564, about 115 years after the invention of movable type. That is about 8 generations after alphabetic reading became relatively inexpensive and about the time of Shakespeare. What is science. You can look that up. But whereas it took about three thousand years to go from horse pulled vehicles to the first steam vehicles. But by using the principles of science we were able to go, in only two hundred years from steam to nuclear power, and landing on the moon, among other things.
While I can not tell you exactly what scientific thinking is, I can assert some of its properties and mention how it differs from regular thinking. I will also mention why humans are so bad at it. However before that I am going to describe what I believe are the fairly well accepted beginnings of human thought and communication. We can see these as they exist even now in both primates and in pre-literate societies.
Let us back up even further: Nature is prolific, not wasteful, and not teleological. That is, if something is more beneficial for an organisms than its costs then it will be kept. But beneficial is measured within a generation or two which is what I meant by nature not being teleological. If the costs exceed the benefits, then the critters having this new mutation are less likely to have offspring than others that do not have the mutation. A human brain is VERY expensive. It makes up 2% of a humans weight, and consumes 20% of its calories. Birthing parturition for humans is always risky, and raising a child from birth to self sufficiency is more costly for humans in terms of timer and resources than for any other animal. So, what is the benefit?
Other animals get by with a lot less computational power. Really, it does not take a whole lot of smarts to eat grass, or find and eat another animal. What is required is speed, strength, and that you be a little smarter than the nearby animals. But in all cases, except for humans, smarter is more costly than the benefits. What benefit on a generation to generation basis does the costly brain give to its owners. The only known answer of which I am aware in evolutionary terms, is that if my tribe is smarter than your tribe then in combat we will win. The evidence for this is not hard to come by. While there are papers that claim that no such evidence for a primate / human tendency to violence exists, or that it can be explained away, I find the following four papers compelling:
You can do your own research. I used the words: historical evidence of human violence bones.
Unless presented with other evidence, and/or a better theory, I am going with the theory that a violent lethal human co-evolved with an ever larger brain. But clearly this brain was not used to explore the subtleties of nature or the physical world. It was used to interact with with other brains like its own, both in co-operative and competitive ways. The males with the best communication skills in terms of making the girls like them, and the other males to agree with them were the most successful in passing these skills onto their descendants. Primate research has shown that the alpha male is, quite often, not the strongest, but the one who plays the best with others, or appears to do so.
So, the beginnings of human thought and communication were all about interacting with others of our tribe in a way that enhanced the chances of our passing our genes on. What may have been some of the parts of this set of communication skills? I have no idea beyond what I have already mentioned, namely ways of communicating that got others to like you and do your biding. In the dynamics of the group, the occasional display of outrageous behavior that got benefits for the group was probably rewarded with higher status. Something like picking up a burning branch, or using a club to hit an opponent. But those rare demonstrations of interacting in new ways with the physical world were just that, rare. And they were easily copied, and new only once. Thus, for millenia, what was important was, not new knowledge of the physical world, but better and better ways of interacting with ones troop / tribe mates. So, that was what our brains developed to do.
This worked fairly well until about 5500 to 7500 years ago when humans first started to write things down. Our communication skills were even sufficient to support simple agriculture without writing for a couple of millenia. With writing societies could become larger and more complex. Complex directions could be given with with no risk of mis-remembering. So, despite the concerns of Plato that writing would render a teachers students “in consequence, they’ll entertain the delusion that they have wide knowledge, while they are, in fact, for the most part incapable of real judgment.” Most people would conclude that, for the most part, writing was a good thing. And our ancestors plodded along creating cultures like Egypt using pictographs. Then the alphabet was invented
possibly by someone with a speech defect who wanted a better way to communicate.
And more info here: http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/drucker.htm#EarlyAlphabet
Now, what is very special here is that, as Dr. Shlain says in the above interview, and in his book, the Alphabet and the Goddess, in all instances when a culture becomes alphabetically literate is becomes psychotic and misogynistic. One of the most recent examples is when China adapted a simplified alphabet in 1956 It was just ten years later that China launched the cultural revolution. And while women were not hunted as witches, they had their femininity destroyed in another way. They were made equal by being turned, as much as possible, into men.
As Dr. Shlain states, changing to an alphabetic communication system makes a culture more logical, masculine and hostile to female values. It is not a co-incidence that as the west has moved to a TV – internet system and away from reading, that the position of women has advanced considerably with respect to men.
But being able to read or write does not change what type of information exchange is the most valuable. It is the ability to interact well with others, even if the information that is the basis of those interactions are lies. Conveying information that makes someone else feel good is almost always better for a persons place in a society than conveying important accurate information. Faking sincerity was one of the best attributes a man could have. The consequences of lying were seldom great, or severe, and if they were, well then the few victims of the lie were dead, so it did not matter.
Ten to hundreds of thousands of years of verbalizations followed by about three to four thousand years of symbolic writing, followed by another 2500 years of alphabetic writing. Twenty five hundred years is about 150 generations, during which time the brain, in what we call literate cultures, is now immersed in a very linear, masculine, logic environment. Evolution is working on this three pounds of goo both via selection and epigenetics. Another step is made, quite possibly at least as significant as the one when humans started using an alphabet. Starting with Galileo, humans created the concept of science.
As I said earlier, discoveries about the real world had been being made, but they were random. There are likely a number of reasons that the systemic exploration of the physical world was developed in Europe, and I suspect that there will never be a consensus. Two theories that I like are that the Europeans had a belief that there was a god governing the world, and that he had laws for this that they could be discovered and understood by humans. The other is that the alphabetic language, and English French and German cultures in particular had a more “responsible active” view of the world. That is when something bad happened, one was more likely to say that “John broke the base” rather than “The vase got broken”
For purposes of this paper all of this history is not so important, though I thought that you would find it informative. What is important is that about four hundred years ago, in 1600 give or take 50 years, a new way of looking at the world came into being along with a different language to deal with this way. Science was born
Some would push that date back to Roger Bacon 350 years earlier, but if anything I would say that he started the process, conceived the method so to speak.
Science is about two things, formal logic / mathematics and the physical world. The physical world is about things that we can consistently measure that are not states of mind like opinions. And yes, you can not measure an opinion. You can count how many people have a given opinion, and how strongly they feel about it, but you can not measure it like you can measure electric charge. And at this point, I will elaborate on the way humans actively think about the physical world.
I distinguish between thinking about the physical world and experiencing it. Clearly every person experiences the physical world every day. Few people think about it, and fewer still think about it in a rational scientific way. As I said above, there are two ways that we can think about things. Experiencing a sensible thing is little different than experiencing an emotion. When we experience a sensible thing like a tree we either like or dislike it, or possibly ignore it. When we think about it, we consider if we would like one like it, or perhaps try and decide if it needs trimming, or watering etc. A great deal of our experiencing the physical world is, with the possible exception of art, at the same level that animals experience it. We see, hear, touch simply as a means to stay alive and reproduce. If we are a craftsman, than we might think about that part of the physical world that concerns our craft. But, for 99.9 percent of the human race, our brainpower is devoted to the problem of “what is the best way to interact with our fellow troop members, and other troops, since it takes no more intellect to cook a meal than it does to stab a bush baby, and maybe even less. I would suggest that even something as complicated at driving a car, once learned, requires less brainpower, in terms of percentage available, than navigating a jungle trail.
Craftsmen, and I will include farmers here, were the first people to actually think about the physical world, and to devote a large percentage of day to day mental effort to thinking about their physical world. Then as Dr Shlain says, our brains, because of how they were used, started to become more linear and logical. Curiosity and our newly enhanced logical brains started to systematically explore the physical world. Some people pondered how this could best be done and the discipline of modern science was born.
A brief digression into fuzz
This is probably a really poor analogy, but it will have to do until I, or someone else thinks of something better. As I said in axiom 5 we humans have two different ways of thinking. Unfortunately we often use them inappropriately, that is we use the old way to think about sensible things, and the new scientific way to address things that are not sensible. In addition, we do not really understand very much about the sensible world, or rather we think that we understand more than we do. Let me give some data points that support this assertion:
We know less about emotions than we to about comprehensive theories of the universe. Try finding a theory of emotions. If you do not believe me, then do a search on the string “theory of emotions”. There are very few things that one can definitely say about emotions. One is that there are several, about 5, that are universal in that images expressing these emotions are recognized by almost every human on the planet in the same way. Another is that the are fast and most people do not think that they require thought. We emote before we think.
Now for the poor analogy. The world is complex, and to understand it we often must make simplifying assumptions. This works if you are dealing with piles of ridged stuff. If you are dealing with something that resembles a bowl of cooked spaghetti then simplification is a bit more difficult. This should be born in mind when I make simplifications about humans and their behavior. Any time I mention a human trait, as I said above, it is not either, or. Rather, it reflects at least one, and more likely several traits each distributed along along a normal distribution, and bundled, not always accurately, into a box that some humans think appropriate. Just to name two, psychopathy and autism are both collections of more basic mental processes, and any given individual can be anywhere from very normal to definitely extremely autistic or psychopathic. In addition, autism and psychopathy come in a multitude of, shall we call them, flavors.
We are at a point in describing humans and their behavior that the first scientists were when Galileo and Newton and their contemporaries set about exploring the physical world in an orderly manner. We have the advantage of having a lot of probably accurate information, and powerful tools and techniques to use. We have the disadvantage of thinking that we know a lot more than we do, and have more abilities than we have.
So remember that anything I write here about humans is, unlike other things in the physical world, has error bars that are often large ones, associated with it. And when I say large, I mean ten to twenty percent of the measured value as opposed to a claim of accuracy of one part per million when measuring the speed of light. Of even more importance is the fact that sometimes what we are speaking of is not all that well defined, with some things being not clearly differentiated from others. What exactly is the difference between feeling, thinking and emotion. To get some idea of how fuzzy these concepts are, search the terms on the internet. Depending on how you count, there are at least a half dozen different theories on what an emotion is.
END OF DIGRESSION INTO FUZZ
Getting to Axiom 5. I am going to make what some may claim to be a preposterous claim. There is little evidence that what we call thinking is, for 99% of humans, little different than what primates do. Almost all of our mental activity is given to taking care of bodily needs, and interacting with others. Almost all of our learning is watching what others do or trial and error. Our brains started to change when we started to use the alphabet. Let us date that at 800 bc. Consider some important discoveries that came after that:
Greece & China
Some important discoveries, like steel, and agriculture, were made in multiple locations and happened before man started to write. In any case, it is easy to see that until the scientific method was created in the 17th century, technology progressed in fits and starts. This treatise is considered to be the formal birth of the scientific method. Once that method was formulated, humans were able to manipulate the physical world at an ever increasing rate. In addition to what is described in the treatise by Descartes, the other parents of the scientific method, Newton and his contemporaries, changed how we use language. Henceforth, any science would rely on words that had clear and unambiguous meanings and those meanings would seldom, if ever, change. If they did chance, the changes would be small and technical in nature. For example a second, was originally a part of a day, then, in 1956 redefined as part of a year, and in 1977 redefined as the number of vibrations of a cesium atom in a particular state. Even this definition has been modified at least twice since then. However, unlike the words awful, or dollar, a second means pretty much the same now as it did at the time of Newton. You could probably not tell me how impulse differs from momentum or how energy from power. Neither could almost any person living at the time of Issac Newton. Newton and his contemporaries changed all that.
When I am speaking of thinking of sensible things I am referring to thinking as a scientist does. When a primate fashions a tool, it is probably not because of high level thinking similar to what humans are capable of
I divide sensible into two parts, Rsensible, and Tsensible, for Remote sensible and touch sensible. The other part is nonsensible and has a close relative, spiritual. Something that is nonsensible is not able to be sensed by the five basic senses. When we think about things that are Rsensible, they are almost all subject to measurement, either directly or indirectly. Generally, these measurements are accurate and reproducible to within parts per million if not greater accuracy and involve the remote senses of sight and sound. By remote I mean not sensed by direct contact. Rsensible things are the subject of science, and I will discuss science later. Tsensible things are subject to some degree of measurement, though there is often some disagreement. Tensible things directly affect our bodies in that the physical things that we are sensing actually make contact with our bodies. Another way of looking at this is that things that are remote sensible can, and often are sensed from distances of a few feet (though it could be less) to light years away. Things that are Tsensible, must be in actual contact with our bodies, or possibly up to several feet away for smell.
Finally there is the Nsensible things. These can not be sensed by our five basic senses and are complex, fuzzy, and not well defined. As far as I have been able to tell to date, these Nsensible things all involve either relationships and titles such as John is the CEO, or living things, or things that some people may be, in some sense, alive. An example of the later are various spirits, and yes, this would include the souls of the dead, angles etc. Other Nsensible concepts are consciousness, various states of mind, intelligence, free will, greed, autism, sanity, pain, happiness etc. things like values, likes and dislikes, concepts having to do with consciousness or spirituality, a lot of the things that have to do with humans interacting with each other.
The spiritual dimension perhaps can be thought of as kind of like consciousness. But consciousness is actually a field of scientific study, and I do not wish to make that strong a claim for this dimension. Douglas Hofstadter visited the concept of consciousness in his book “I am a Strange Loop”, and you may wish to read that book. I am going to discuss the different ways that humans think about things without spirits, and those with spirits and how this idea of spirits shapes how we process information. When I refer to spirits, I am including the concepts of essence, soul, consciousness. Some version of something that you would interact with or name. Something that if you were to say “Hey spirit”, you would not be surprised to get a response.
The concept of spirit is not the exactly same for all peoples at all times. At different times and in different places, people have seen the world as comprised of nothing but spirits. Nothing was inanimate in the sense that a scientist of today thinks of a block of metal. Perhaps at the other end is the extreme psychopath who thinks that everything, including all humans, are just other forms of stuff in the world that he inhabits. Starting out in an arbitrary fashion, let us say that an atom has a level of spirit of zero, you have a level of spirit of 8, and that various heavenly entities have spirit values of 10+
By a spirit of zero, I mean completely incapable of any actions at all. Not able to act on the environment. Later I will suggest that this view may not be entirely accurate, but let us start there.
There is the environment and there are agents in the environment. Agents are things that, for want of a better term, are alive and interact with the environment. At one end we have prions, and at the other end we have us, and maybe some heavenly spirits. For purposes of simplification, I want to confine myself to discussing how things of this world behave since I have no first hand knowledge and no measurable way of discussing how things of the heavenly world behave.
I have started with this spectrum of spirit in this topic of thinking because humans think about different things in different ways. In particular we think about and of non spiritual things very differently than we think of spiritual things. Most of us, who have a car that is becoming “to expensive” will think about junking it, or throwing it away or trading it in. Most of us will not think that way about a pet, and hardly any of us will think about trading in or junking a child or a parent. This attitude that most humans have is innate, and does not exist just because of our legal structures. The attachment to a member of the group has been shown to exist in animals as diverse as most primates, cows, and elephants. It is how we are wired.
Most people, when thinking of humans, do so in a way that is different than the way that they think about things. That thinking can, as we know, be changed, and it can be changed in either direction. I am sure that many of you know of people who treat their cars like people. People also treat other people like things. Almost all forms of marketing involve reducing large numbers of people to things. The first thing that happens in a military campaign is to dehuminize the enemy. They are now targets.
One does not kill a man, he takes out a target, or neutralizes it.
If we lay these two dimensions next to each other
no spirit ———————— a lot of spiritually
Rsensible ————- Tsensible —————— Nsensible
most people will think that the things that I see and hear tend to be associated with the left end of the spirit scale. That is we can see and hear a persons body, but not their essence or spirit. On the other hand when considering nsensible things like values and likes and dislikes, those will be associated with the right hand of the spirit scale. That is we may like or value someones essence or a painting, but are not going to have much in terms of like or dislike about 100 grams of metal, and if we do, it is not because of the hundred grams, but because other people also “value” it, like gold. This association, Rsensible with less spirit, and Nsensible with a lot of spirit is clearly there, but it has some exceptions, and is, at best, somewhat fuzzy and inexact. There is one more way of dividing mental activity and that is our source of information or from where humans learn things. Humans can learn either in two ways. One is from direct experience or some form of written reports where those reports are of a form that, if one were so inclined, and had the resources, one could reproduce the first hand experience on which the report is based. The other way is from others who are part of our community. Usually, these are older people who teach us. More generally they, in some way, repersent authority. One learns because some authority figure teaches.
In terms of the above two one dimensional lines of mental activity, I think that most people would agree that learning from direct experience will be placed to the left, and learning from authority will go to the right. There are of course exceptions. There almost always are exceptions when dealing with generalizations about something as complex as humans and their mental processes. The greatest exception that comes to mind is that some people have direct first hand experience with spiritual things.
But when we discuss the things of the spirit, that is values, likes, dislikes, these either come from or are strongly influenced by those in positions of authority.
“The result is a profound difference in navigational ability and spatial knowledge between speakers of languages that rely primarily on absolute reference frames (like when you think of survival of the fittest, you should not just think of survival of an individual. Competition occurs on many levels at the same time. Think, for example, of a cancer cell. What helps a cancer cell to survive, may not be so good for the body in which the cell resides. The principals of Darwin operate at the genetic, cellular, individual, and community/tribal level. Sometimes things like good nutrition work for the benefit of all those entities. Sometimes, like what libertarians call the evil of altruism, work against an individual, but work for the tribe. If that concept goes against your grain, think the individual soldier vs the platoon) and languages that rely on relative reference frames (like English).2 Simply put, speakers of languages like Kuuk Thaayorre are much better than English speakers at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes or inside unfamiliar buildings. What enables them ? in fact, forces them ? to do this is their language.”
excellent paper 1. Humans are by nature authoritarians on language and science
The point of these links and my brief excerpt is to show that our language and our culture shape our thinking, often in surprising ways.
One of the things that I will propose is that such tools be brought to bear on what I call the non-sensible world.
Words and language are the principle tools that we use to deal with the world. How easy would it be to work on a car if from week to week a wrench you used changed its size? What if its very function changed? But that is how the tools that we use in dealing with each other, values and opinions behave.
George Orwell, in his book 1984 described a world in which Big Brother controlled how we thought by limiting how people thought by limiting their vocabulary. No longer was there good, better, best, and bad. Now there was good, plus good, and double plus ungood. Most people saw that as an impoverishment of language. But something written in that language is not likely to be misunderstood 200 years later. Read something from 300 years ago that is described as awful, and you would not be likely to think of it as commanding respect as in full of awe. But Newtons use of Energy has changed little in that time.
Now if we have a child who is “special” we do not know if they are gifted or retarded. Those who manipulate others for their own pathological benefit are masters as using language in a way that can best be described as Humpty Dumpty speak. It is easier to be st00pid if the tools that you use to think, words, can change their meaning from time to time. In fact, I will show later, how that corruption of meaning of important words can destroy an economy, as words, and concepts that once spoke of physical things come to represent nothing more than an opinion.
I believe that it is possible to avoid the impoverishment of language that George Orwell feared while changing how we use it in such a way as to make our communications more accurate, and making it more difficult for the psychopaths among us to use the tool of language as a weapon. I think that this can be done by viewing language as a kind of swiss army knife of communication. Yes, it is possible to use the knife blade of a swiss army knife to fasten a screw, but it is so much better to use one of the screw driver blades.
In a similar way, we can use the appropriate words for the appropriate things. That is we can use poetry for poetry, and similes for art. We can reserve forms of the verb to be when speaking of the physical world, and we can use words that express opinion when we are expressing our likes and dislikes. We can avoid speaking in the deity voice with such pronouncements as Mary is good, or John is a thief.
There exists a boundary concept or area that has caused a great deal of trouble for humans. It is a boundary between physical measurable things, and values which are hard to measure. Really, how does one measure “like”, or how much one likes something. Well one way is, of course, money. And at the time that our country was founded, within fifty years of Newtons death, when the standards and language of science were still being created and formed, our founding fathers realized that this measure should be fixed and well defined. They were correct.
If I say that in 1790 Melvin Patriot traveled 150 miles from his home directly south to a convention in Virginia, and that it took him two days to do it, you would have a pretty good idea as to where he lived. A mile now is the same as a mile was back then. If I told you that his expenses for lodging an food and for boarding his house were about a dollar you would have no idea what that means. Because today, a dollar is not the same thing as it was in 1790.
Why is this? Why are all other words that measure physical things in the physical world well established and unchanging, but the word that measures how we value physical things as been cut loose from all connection with physical things. What are the consequences of this detachment? I will explore this later.
For almost the entire time that humans have been on the planet thinking and communicating about sensible things was a very minor part of human mental activity. There are several reasons for this. For one, all of us did sensible mental activity pretty much the same way, and what we did had little impact on our environment. Also, it is hard to engage in mental activity involving measurement when your ability to count stops at three. The mental skills needed to survive all involved dealing with other members of the tribe or clan. Since almost all the members of the clan thought about the physical world in very similar ways there was no way that was better than any other.
This began to change with agriculture, but even then the differences in thinking about sensible things were not very great from one person to another. There was hardly any thing that a person did in the physical world that could not be easily and quickly taught to almost any member of the tribe. Granted that some were a bit faster or more skilled than others, but if even a person with the best skill in something died, the tribe did not suffer much hardship. A person might be recognized for his skill in weapon making, but such craftsmen were not accorded the status of a Paul Allen. To achieve high status you pretty much needed to be someone who could manipulate and lead men.
This is shifting. The question is, is it shifting fast enough to keep us from killing ourselves. Now, if we do not learn how to think correctly about the physical world, and I include economics in this, we run the risk of changing how the environment works in ways that do not bode well for the health of most humans. (Note how I avoided value words like good, and bad. The nearest I came to that was referencing the health of humans, and most agree what good health is.)
If you listen to discussions about politics or “values” or economics or anything that people discuss whose subject is not of a technical nature you soon observe that none of the ideas are discussed in a way that can be measured. All of the discussions reflect thinking that are about emotions and preferences. The only thing that is a possible exception to this is when the discussions are about economics, but even here, I have not found any falsifiable statements about how humans behave outside of the laboratory. That is, theories are proposed and tested in controlled environments involving small numbers of people. But there is nothing that is done on the scale of a city, let alone a country. There are two reasons for this. One is that there are a great number of variables in a society the size of a city, and the other is that our ignorance exceeds our knowledge.
Let me give you an example of how really bad economists are: In 1997 a Nobel Prize was awarded to two men for developing a model to price options on stocks. The two men used their model to start an investment company, which was quite successful, earning 40% annual returns. Until it failed. It failed in such a grand way that the Federal Reserve stepped in to contain the effects of the failure from spreading to other financial institutions. You will learn something from reading the failed link. Perhaps you will learn more than the st00pid yahoos at Merill Lynch who wrote this: “Merrill Lynch observed that mathematical risk models “may provide a greater sense of security than warranted; therefore, reliance on these models should be limited.””
It was, you may recall, computer models that were at the heart of the recent economic crisis that among other things caused Merrill Lynch to loose almost 20 Billion dollars in a year, and be sold to Bank of America. That sale was the result of “An offer they could not refuse”, made by the the US government.
Let me put it another way. Some people, who by almost any measure, were intellectually competent, were not able to see what was obvious, or what they did not want to see. To wit: that computer models are based on assumptions, and that all computer models of human behavior are approximations. THEY ARE MODELS. To think that a model is the same as the physical world is an attempt to fool nature. To quote the Merrill Lynch executive: “RELIANCE ON THESE MODELS SHOULD BE LIMITED”
Language is an integral part of how we think, and some words have more significance in our language than others. I have mentioned few of those words, and how they will be used in this paper, or perhaps not used at all. I feel that this is important because unlike the discipline of science where words have well defined meanings and little if any ambiguity, the language of every day use, of feelings and values is exceedingly plastic. This paper will show that this plasticity of language is one of several causes / symptoms of our current set of problems. I have already discussed truth.
The next word is better: I will use it here, but like almost all words used to express values such as good, bad, fair, etc., what this really means is that I like something more than other things. It may also mean that, in general, by whatever metric most people choose, if option A is better than option B, then according to the chosen metric, say life expectancy, option A will generally result in a preferred value of that metric. For example, most people think that cultures with lower infant mortality rates are better than cultures with higher infant mortality rates. Thus, if one were to demonstrate that cultures where women have more power as indicated, for example, by the fact that more of them are in positions of power, have lower infant mortality rates, we would say that cultures where women have more power are better.
Unfortunately few people specify a metric when they use the word better. So you get meaningless statements like America is better than North Korea. This is probably true, but without a metric, it is not possible to say. Suppose I said that France is better than Germany, or how about wood is better than fruit, or tall is better than short. Unless a metric is specified, none of these statements has any meaning other than the person making the statement is saying I like A better than B, but does not have the intellectual courage to make the statement as a personal preference. Instead they act a little gods who think that their saying something makes it so.
Let me now examine a common enough word as an example of words having little if any meaning, and being used in ways that convey little if any meaning, or are used to manipulate people. Take the word good for example. If you look up this word in a dictionary you get several synonyms, and if you looked up each of those you will get more synonyms until after, in my example, good ? righteous ? moral ? right ? you get back to good. In reality all that good and these synonyms mean is is that when a person says “that was a good meal”, is I liked the food.
There are few ways that a person can use the word good in a way that means anything other than “I like it”. In fact, I can think of only two ways. The first is a variant of what I said above about there existing some metric that is commonly known so that if you say “You did a good job …” then most people will know what that means and will have some sort of scale in their head. For example if you were to use the phrase, “he had a good time in the mile”, that would probably be some time between five and seven minutes. If the person referred to were 85 years old, then a good time might be between 10 and 15 minutes.
The second way that good can be used is when there is a very well established cultural norm. Sometimes that cultural norm has a biological basis, for example “She as a good voice.” probably means that by most standards the sound the person makes are the opposite of a nail on glass. Sometimes the the cultural norm is a random crap shoot. A fan of Stalin will have a very different idea of a “good person” than a fan of Gandhi.
Almost all of the time the word good is no more than an expression of opinion, or is used as a weapon, as for example when a divorce lawyer says “Mr. Jones is a good husband”, and conveniently leaves off the phrase, “he did not mean to it his wife, he was drunk” What I am getting at here is that almost all words that express what people like to call “values” are, unless money is involved, nothing more than personal opinions or expressions of likes and dislikes.
If you wish to be honest with yourself and with others, and more importantly, if you wish to avoid being manipulated by others who use these words a weapons, and not to convey any useful information, then simply say I like, or I dislike, when you are discussing things that involve your opinion, and stay away from value words. For example, “The paint job cost $500.00” and “I did not like the paint job” are both valid statements in the paradigm that I develop below. “That was a bad paint job.”, is not valid in my paradigm since there is no common metric for bad, though in some extreme cases, most people would agree, but in that case, the contractor would probably not have been paid.
I now state my grand theory, supported by the page of observations and axioms above, and elaborated on below.
Almost every human problem in this world has its roots in St00pidity
egregious example http://www.tnreport.com/2011/12/disorder-in-the-court/ The reason that this is an example of st00pidity is that people were not learning from experience.
Why, you ask, would someone refuse to learn new things? Well, it turns out that our brains are wired that way. If you are unfamiliar with the numerous studies that support this claim, I will describe some of them below, with links, and I will include numerous examples. It turns out that having a brain that, while young, learns directly from the physical world, but then switches over to an authoritarian based learning system when older has a survival advantage over other types of lifelong learning. Again, I will present detailed arguments for this below. Not being one to just complain about problems, I will also set forth some ideas as to how we may work around this built in tendency to be st00pid, thus, perhaps, pointing a way to avoiding what appears to be our current path towards collective self destruction.
I claim that switching from learning via direct experience to learning from authority has a survival advantage. I am sure that some of you will claim that this is not obvious, and may be false. As my quote from Richard Feynman says, nature can not be fooled.
In this case, any widespread behavior in humans has, or at least had at one time, survival value. Because survival always means survival within a given environment, it is clear that a characteristic or behavior that had survival value at one time may now no longer have any such value, and may even be contrary to survival. One of the things that I will hope to demonstrate in this paper, is that bureaucracies are one of those things. Hierarchical / bureaucratic organizations may work on a small scale and may help small groups survive in conflict with each other, but on a large scale they always crash the system. Bureaucracies do not scale well.
Think about the nature of a bureaucracy. Here is one definition “Weber’s ideal bureaucracy is characterized by hierarchical organization, delineated lines of authority in a fixed area of activity, action taken on the basis of and recorded in written rules, bureaucratic officials need expert training, rules are implemented by neutral officials, career advancement depends on technical qualifications judged by organization, not individuals.” from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureaucracy. Of course this man may as well be describing a perfectly round gasoline powered tree, viz. something that does not exist and logically can not exist in the physical world as we know it.
How does one get neutral officials? What does neutral mean, given that everyone brings their own set of ideas to any complex situation? What kind of “technical qualifications” does one need to be a manager? Judging is a human activity, so how does an organization “judge”? When you think of the brilliant managers of todays billion dollar corporations, few of them had college degrees let alone “technical qualifications”. Sam Walton, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Michael Dell, the late Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Mr. Buffett being one of the few such businessmen to actually graduate from college, let along get “technical qualifications.
The fact is, that until decisions about promotions in a bureaucracy are made by a machine similar to IBM’s Watson computer, it is individuals who will make those decisions. And no matter how hard they try, and most of them do not try that hard, their decisions will be made on subjective grounds that come down to “how much do I like the people that are in line for this next promotion”. The only factors that can be considered “objective” in these situations are physical factors from the physical world. But as a bureaucracy grows, by its very nature, it isolates those making decisions from those factors. The information that a person makes in selecting someone often depends on how much he “likes” that person, and on how well he thinks that his superiors will look upon his decision. The only people who do not get promoted are those who are demonstrably incompetent. And has long as their incompetence is not to severe, they will be left where they are, as a demotion will be an admission that the previous promotion was a failure.
As far as action being taken on the basis of written rules. That is only possible if one has a history of things from which the written rules were derived. That is, those rules based on the past, have a limited value as a guide for new situations. Almost be definition, you can not have written rules telling you what to do in new situations. That is why Apple Computer was almost bankrupt then Steve Jobs came back to it. In a dynamic rapidly changing environment, operating by written rules is almost a guarantee of failure. I believe that when examining the history of any failed company, that it would be easy to see that management, unless it was dishonest, was very “safely” following some well established set of rules that they had always used.
Do not confuse learning from authority with learning from a teacher. A teacher takes you into the world and shows you how to learn from the world. You apprentice to a teacher. What a teacher tells you can be verified by direct experience with the physical world. They may have authoritarian methods and personalities which may well hamper your learning in the future, but they are giving you information that you could get directly yourself, or even falsify. Authorities on the other hand give you information that can not be verified in the physical world. Their subjects are religion, politics, most of economics values, ethics, the law etc. In some cases, what they say may be able to be shown to correspond in some way to the physical world, but one should not count on this. More often than not, of what they say falls under the classification of “not even wrong”
When you think of survival of the fittest, you should not just think of survival of an individual. Competition occurs on many levels at the same time. Think, for example, of a cancer cell. What helps a cancer cell to survive, may not be so good for the body in which the cell resides. The principals of Darwin operate at the genetic, cellular, individual, and community/tribal level. Sometimes things like good nutrition work for the benefit of all those entities. Sometimes, like what libertarians call the evil of altruism, work against an individual, but work for the tribe. If that concept goes against your grain, think the individual soldier vs the platoon.
When I say that nature will not be fooled, and that nature makes us st00pid, and that this has a survival advantage, I am speaking of an advantage for the tribe. A tribe organized along a hierarchy of obedient people who will defer to elders even when it is contrary to their own experience, has a better chance of surviving in competition against a tribe of people, all of whom want to think for themselves. Think how confusing that would be when going into battle against a tribe of of obedient warriors lead by a clever warlord.
Some of you may claim that this is not relevant since we lived in a harmonious non hierarchical feminine culture like the bonobo chimps. Alas, recent research does not support that premise. In fact, the current theory is that given the incredible cost that a brain the size of humans imposes on our bodies, it must offer a concurrent survival advantage. The question then arises of what could that advantage be. After all, all other animals that have ever existed, managed to survive without such an expensive bit of hardware as our large brain. What exactly does this large brain do? Why is it necessary?
Apparently, it competes with other similar bits of hardware for resources. In other words, it engages in actual combat. The better and more clever the brain, the more lightly to survive in war.
The point is that our brains are designed by nature, via evolution, to make us st00pid and obedient to authority. That gave tribes made up of such members a distinct survival advantage. The evidence of that is us. This belief is supported by a great deal of evidence in the book Sex and War by Hayden and Potts. It is my belief that because of the changes that we have wrought in our environment, that the methodology of hierarchical authoritarianism, though having served us well for millennial is now a detriment to our survival, and that we need to develop ways of acting and thinking in ways that are no longer st00pid.
I have written earlier on this topic, and you can see that by going here: http://factotum666.livejournal.com/829.html. If you forget this link, I have copied it to xfoolnature.org, and you can probably find it as the first result of a search for the two words orwells boot.
The rhetorical trick, of spelling stupid as st00pid, using zeros instead of o’s will, hopefully, remind you that even smart people can avoid learning new information that conflicts with their world view and thus cause great harm. This harm comes from the fact, stated by Richard Feynman in his closing remarks in his minority report on the failure of the Challenger Shuttle, that “nature can not be fooled”.
The most dangerous people in the world are those who have a high IQ and are unwilling to learn new things or change their view of the world in light of new evidence or information. In other words, clever people who are st00pid. They are dangerous because their high IQ enables them to convince less intelligent people that their view of the world, based on s00pid, is a valid view of the world. They are good at clever arguments and what I call division by zero. I use this concept because when someone makes some sort of convoluted and complex argument and comes to a conclusion that is clearly not logical, such as God does/does not exist, you can be sure that there was some logical fallacy and one of the best is a well hidden division by zero. Politicians and their associates are very good at this. I now re-state my premise:
The root cause of almost all the problems in the world is human st00pidity.
In this paper I will offer evidence that
1. Almost all of humanities major problems are caused by st00pidity, that nature or god wired us to be st00pid.
2. That we are wired to be obedient to authority, which is just another way of saying that we are designed to ignore the evidence that the physical world presents to us, and to listen to our elders instead.
3. That until the last 200 or so years, that this had a very strong survival value for tribes and individuals
4. That with some effort that we can begin to stop being st00pid, and thereby reduce the number and magnitude of problems that we as individuals and as cultures face. I will make some very specific suggestions as to how we may do this.
First I feel it wise to say a little about myself. I do this because I believe that one should know the source of the ideas that one is seeing for the first time, and I am fairly sure that most of the ideas that are presented in this paper are original. To the degree that they are not original, the way that they are combined is original. If you were reading a paper that was funded by Altria group, and whose researchers worked for that group, and the paper was presenting evidence about the health affects of tobacco, you would probably view that paper differently once you found out that Altria is one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, formerly known as Philip Morris. In fact, if you were like me, you would probably stop once you found out that bit of information.
So, a little about myself. It is unlikely that I am like you. Let me list the ways. Let me also say that no value judgments are implied here. For example, I know that some really smart competent people, including many high level managers and “C” level executives along with politicians of various stripes love professional sports. I find them almost all boring. I simply do not understand why people like to watch other people engage in a form of stylized combat. Even stranger is the entire phenomena of being a fan. But that is one of many ways that I am different from you. I also find almost all comedies on TV to be not funny, and almost all “dramas” to be boring. I do not dislike them, I just find them slightly more interesting than watching paint dry, and less interesting than watching grass grow.
For me food is fuel and not something to fuss over. Likewise, clothes are to keep me comfortable and not to make a statement about “who I am”. It is hard for me to imagine what I spend less time on than the clothes that I wear. I am strange enough that most people find my mere presence to be uncomfortable for them.
This, and many other differences, not all of which I will mention, are probably related to the fact that I am mildly autistic with a touch of aspergers and ADD. This may also explain why I am an agnostic. I have no minds eye. This may explain why when I remember a past event no emotion attaches to it. Memories are just historical facts, not experiences to be relived. Thus, I can not live in the past, only in the present and future. I effortlessly live in the moment, but can plan for the future. One more item of note. I have been aware for many years that I have more feminine characteristics than most males. For one thing I an not very competitive. This may have something to do with the implications that my second / index finger is longer than my ring finger. You may wish to check out the 2D 4D ratio.
and the original paper for those so inclined:
I also apparently have a kind of aphasia. From the wikipdeia article on aphasia:
A – pure word deafness (patient can hear but not understand words)
B – alexia (patient can read but not understand words)
I do not know what a great many words used in the english language mean. Unlike almost everybody else in existence however, I have concluded that hardly anybody else does either because most of these words, actually have no meaning. For example I do not know the meanings of the following words, and in fact think that most of them really have no meaning except, in some cases, in very limited areas:
good, pure, love, perfect, bad, elegant, valuable, better, sacred, worse, faith, fair, truth, real, sacred. etc etc.
People may claim to know what they mean, but as an exercise, write down your meaning of one of these words, ask another person to write down their meaning, and show the two definitions to a third person. The rules of this exercise are that you may not use a variant of the word in the definition, nor may you use one of its opposites. Get feedback from the third person. Do they agree with either definition. Do they think that the two definitions are the same?
Now I know what pure water means, but what does pure art or pure love mean? What does love mean?
If I say it is true that 2+2=4, have I really added any meaning to the statement 2+2=4?
How about “that is a perfect horse.” Compared to what? Is it perfect because it can run a mile in 70 seconds, or is it perfect because it can plow a field all day? I have sort of concluded that a large percentage of the words that people use are simply versions of “I like”, or “I do not like”, but rather than simply own their opinions, they use some combination of deity speak, or cowardly speak by saying “it is good”, thus claiming for themselves the power of god to pronounce some value resident in something, or thinking that if they say something is good, that the statement will be accepted, and they will not have to take responsibility for having an opinion on the matter.
I find sacred, and other words of faith to be even more incomprehensible, almost toxic. From what I have read, the real meaning of sacred is “do it my way or I will kill you, or at least I would if I could”. Now I realize that is not the stated definition of the word, but think how the people who use the word react when a person goes against the “sacred” word, or somehow violates a place that is considered “sacred”. Burn your own book, and no one cares. Burn your own copy of a sacred text, and many people want to kill you, and sometimes do.
This political season of 2012 exposes one to a lot of toxic words with no meaning. Hear are a few, with accompanying comments. The words are all used in a political context.
Forward: And exactly what direction is that? Forward to the 1960?s when contraception was hart to get, abortions were illegal, and acting gay could get you sent to prison? This is “forward” according to Rick Santorum.
Leader: Leader of what to where? A leader means that we are going in some particular direction. But how can a country have a direction. As far as I know, all countries that have directions are tyrannies. Perhaps someone can cite me a counter example.
Conservative: Can someone please explain to me how religious conservatives are any different from Nazis except for the fact that instead of sending Jews and Queers to concentration camps, they want to send Queers and atheists? Really, they want an all intrusive government in almost every aspect of our most personal and private lives, limits on freedom of speech, favor torture, and want to invade any country that they do not like. All in the name of “security”
I will explore this more later, but I wanted to give a heads up. This will, perhaps, make my writing style appear to you less weird. What you will see in my writing is a lack, when it comes to certain categories of ideas, of any form of the verb to be. Thus instead of writing “that is bad” I will choose “I do not like that”. This is called writing in E-prime.
By now you may have deduced, correctly, that I really do not have much in the way of interpersonal skills. There are few people who hold my interest. Those who do enjoy intellectual sparring and are not put off by challenges to their world view.
For various reasons I have been pondering why people really do not like freedom and the responsibility that goes with it. I have been wondering why people do what they do, and why our culture is in the situation that it is now in. What follows is my analysis of the situation as described above.
Murray Rothbard rote extensively, among other things, he wrote about freedom. Unfortunately he, like almost all humans, and writers in particular took it as a given that humans were like him in the basics. This is strange since as a writer he should have been aware that most people are not like writers. Writers, among other things, are more responsible, autonomous, and self directed than most people. And if you were not like him you were either evil and should be killed (Robert Heinline) or were broken and could be fixed. It turns out that neither is the case. As I show below, nature selects for human groups to be stupid obedient authoritarians, and allows but a few autonomous self directed individuals.
This quote: ‘While, in short, “it is truly the nature of man to be free and to wish to be so,” yet a person’s character “instinctively follows the tendencies that his training gives him…” La Boétie concludes that “custom becomes the first reason for voluntary servitude.” ‘ will be shown to be false. While people say that they want freedom what they really want is not to much oppression for themselves, and control over everybody else. They certainly want to obey authority.
Or as close as I can get to them
The fundamentals begin with the five axioms with which I started this paper. To those I wish to add a 6th comment.
1. A commentary on observation 7. I spoke to a knowledgeable friend and off the top of his head he gave me these definitions: A network is a collection of node points connected to each other by linear bidirectionally transmissive information conduits, and A system is way of undertaking and completing a multi-stepped process Systems can, and almost always do, fail. They are almost always hierarchical. Information from outside the system gets to the top of the hierarchy only after it has been appropriately massaged to please those at the top. Networks, on the other hand, are just one of the tools that nature has to spread life. Because of this, the more one can incorporate network properties into a system, then the more robust a system will be.
Some commentary on systems and networks :
I went looking again, and found this for system:
Any organized assembly of resources and procedures united and regulated by interaction or interdependence to accomplish a set of specific functions. [JP1] 2. A collection of personnel, equipment, and methods organized to accomplish a set of specific functions. (188)
http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/dir-036/_5255.htm A key part of a system is that it has a purpose. Systems are constructs of humans. Since nature does not have a purpose, nature does not do Systems. She just is. Because of this, ALL SYSTEMS will almost always eventually FAIL!!. They will fail if for no other reason than that the purpose for which they were created no longer exists, but the humans for whom the system has become part of their lives still do exist. They want to keep a system that has no purpose.
Some of you object to this idea that systems are human constructs, pointing, for example, to “ecological systems”. I maintain that that system does not exist in nature. What one calls a system is our human way of organizing what we see in our minds. We see a large area of land and call it an ecological system, and study it. As humans we think that the system upon which we look has a purpose. Maybe to provide an environment for various animals. Maybe to provide a water shed. But without humans, that forest, for example, has no purpose. Because purpose is a human construct, it follows that systems are human constructs, even if we are applying the concept to something that already exists in nature.
Here are some links to articles about systems: They give some ideas as to why systems fail
This one is not so funny, but says the same thing: http://www.draftymanor.com/bart/systems3.htm
and and I think that the author is really smart.
Two other features of systems is that their feedback loops are very large and often have humans involved in them in a way that insulates them from the adverse consequences of their actions.
This paper will present evidence to support the following hypothesis: The root cause of almost all of our problems is human st00pidity. You will note that I have repeated myself. I will do that in this paper on this point. I am doing it on purpose. St00dity, combined with the following demonstrable observations about humans in the physical world:
1. Humans are by nature authoritarians
2. A certain percentage of humans are psychopaths.
3. Hierarchical systems, almost always patriarchal, are bureaucracies and these systems enhance and focus human st00pidity
4. Power attracts psychopaths. Thus larger more powerful systems /bureaucracies attract more clever manipulative psychopaths.
5. The larger a bureaucracy becomes, the more its “leaders” become isolated from the physical world by subordinates whose promotions depend on keeping their superiors happy.
6. It begins to be apparent why governments and large corporations act as they do.
A corollary to 4 is that the aphorism that power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely is false. Rather, power tends to attract corrupt people.
There is a solution, but before I venture to describe it, I want to make a digression into thinking. I want to discuss some ideas that I have about the nature of human thought, what humans think about and how they think. I have not found these ideas discussed in other areas, so there is a chance that I may have some original and useful ideas here.
The Nature of Human Thinking
Human Brain Activity
First of all, few of you are logical analytical thinkers. This is especially true if the topic about which you are “thinking” is a topic that has attached to it moral values. I am aware that many of you think that science is just another kind of opinion no better than any other. For those of you who think that scientists are just like everyone else, you can stop reading now and go back to your 13th century view of the universe. For those of you who are aware that most successful scientists actually do think differently than most people, and agree that science deals with the physical world and informs us of about what it is like, here are some relevant studies that show just how irrational we are.
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases You can be sure that those in power are well aware of all of these, and do their best to exploit them so as to enrich themselves at your expense.
2. HTTP://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2011/09/07/your-brain-on-politics-the-cognitive-neuroscience-of-liberals-and-conservatives As liberals you may think that because you are more logical, and less emotional that you are better. That would be true except that you also have a bit of a god complex, and think that your rational solutions implemented through government can fix any problem. This has been tried. It fails, and will always fail, for several reasons stated above, but repeated here:
1. Systems fail
2. Hierarchies / bureaucracies enhance and focus st00pid.
3. Power attracts psychopaths
4. Almost by definition, hierarchies, especially the larger ones, are made up entirely of st00pid people. They embody the peter principle from top to bottom.
1. A one hour+ read on how our brains are wired for faith: http://pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/How-Our-Brains-are-Wired-for-Belief.aspx#neuroscience
2. If you KNOW that we have free will you may first wish to define it, then read this article: http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html
3. This article is about how we do not have free will: http://www.csun.edu/~hceco001/Researchpapers/FreewillAustrian.pdf
At this point I suspect that many of you will react with some thoughts about how you are sure that you have free will because you know it. You are as certain of this knowledge as you are of the accuracy of your memories. Of course, for most of you, your memories are anything but accurate. Not only that but your memories are easily manipulated. Seriously, if memories were so good, why would there be so many innocent people on death row? Getting back to free will, if it existed, then why does every study of the actual brain show that the neurological processes for movement or actions start before we become conscious that we have decided to act?
Here is an article on the subject that I liked.
Notice that I did not say that it is a good article. Calling it good would be speaking in the deity mode. How is good defined defined or measured? Good for what? I can not answer these questions. I can say that I liked the article. http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200802/magical-thinking
Please note that I, like the article, am not attaching any moral values to the term magical thinking. There may be a god, there may be spirits. I do not know. I do know that, like with almost all of you who are reading this, when I am sick, I go to a doctor, not a minister.
I will now address in depth and detail what I consider to be the two different types of thinking that I believe exist. I believe that this part of this essay is one of the keys to our current problems and to addressing them, so I hope that you, the reader, take the time to read this section carefully and, perhaps, to re-read it. I hope that you will forgive any perceived redundancies. In part these redundancies exist, if they exist, because I wish to be clear, and in part I want to be clear to myself as well as to you. I have never seen a discussion of this before so it is very likely as new to you as it is to me.
A Brief History of Human Thinking
Here I am going to temporarily abandon the term thinking in favor of information processing. For a through discussion of information see the book “The Information”. As much as possible I am trying to avoid words that can not be well defined in this essay. Thinking is one of those words. Life is another. More than one book has been written on the topic of what is thinking and what is life. Above I mentioned spirit. Now I will tie two concepts together in a way that almost everyone will agree is valid. Life and information processing are tightly coupled. Something is alive if it is self contained in its environment, and uses information to process parts of the environment to make more copies of itself. The more information an entity uses, the more spirit it has.
Life and information are tightly coupled. Whatever life is, it does not exist without information processing. And whatever self powered information processing within a given environment is, it is associated with life. Does the term computer virus ring any bells? There can be no life without information processing. The first information processing relied on the equivalent of touch, and the most primitive or least complex forms still rely on that method of acquiring information about their environment. A simple cell touches something and absorbs it if it is food, or moves away if it is not food. As one examines more and more complex forms of life, one will see a growing ability to sense and process information about the environment, and to use that information to make copies of itself.
This association of increasing complexity with increasing information processing can be seen in the development of humans in the womb and after birth. The first senses that a human infant uses are involved with touch. Obviously hearing and sight do not come into play until after birth, and then they play a secondary role to the touching senses.
At some point in the development of life, animals started to develop two distinct ways of processing information and learning about the environment. One was the original way, direct experience with the environment, trial and error. The second way was by being able to absorb information from ones parents and possibly from other members of the pack. One can observe both levels of information processing in everything from birds to animals to us.
Let us focus on humans. And at this point I am going to go back from “processing information” to thinking. While people may disagree over the idea of if any animals think, if they do which ones and how much, I think that most people will agree that humans learn both from authorities of all forms as well as from direct experience with the environment and that they do more than process information, that they engage in something called thinking, whatever that may be.
I think that I have shown the following:
While humans think about many things, almost all of them can be dumped into one of two buckets, the Sensible, and the Nonsensible, and the the first item can be further divided into Resnsible, and Tsensible. In addition, humans acquire information either from direct experience or from authority figures, or from some combination of the two. Further, if information is acquired about Sensible things, then we can assume that, even if it was acquired from some authority, that, because it, in theory, could be verified, that it is the equivalent of acquiring it from direct experience, if the authority was honest. Almost all things that one learns about the non-sensible world can only be learned from authority, although recent studies using children, primates, and various brain scans do provide evidence of that what many consider basic morality, to be hard wired into most humans, primates and many social animals
A Baby is Born — Then What?
Initially, a baby learns by direct interaction from its environment. In fact, as evidence presented below will show, almost all children are natural scientists. They examine the physical world, solve problems, experiment, come up with explanations. To the extent that children learn from their parents, it is by emulating them, not by listening to what they say and being obedient. You do not have to study much psychology to discover that one of the primary causes of mental illness is the foolish belief parents have that they can tell their children to act one way, and then act differently themselves.
Around the time of sexual maturity, the brain changes, and for most people, all new information is weighed against an existing world view. Information that does not fit that world view is tossed out. The exception to that is information that comes from a recognized authority figure. This change in how people learn makes very good sense from the point of view of evolution.
Children are natures throw-aways. The idea that it is unnatural for parents to bury their children is, well… it is st00pid. Up until about 75 years ago, when public sanitation and and later more modern medicine including antibiotics came into common usage, the most common thing in the world was for parents to bury their children. This is still true for most of what we call the third world. Before we had public sanitation and anti-biotics, in any given time frame ½ of all deaths were of children under the age of 18. So let me re-state: Children are natures throw-aways. They explore, they learn new things, they make errors, and quite often, in the past, they died in the process. Check out this article in Scientific American about how children use logic and the scientific method to learn.
By the time that you are ready to reproduce, you have a store of knowledge that is valuable to the tribe/community. For most people, nature turns off learning from direct experience so that you will not kill yourself while discovering new things and deprive the tribe of your bit of knowledge. The only new things that you learn are safe things that did not kill anybody. We know that this knowledge did not kill anybody, because those who have it are still alive. You learn from the elders… The authorities.
I said that children are natures throw-aways. Another commodity that is exceedingly cheap is sperm and their containers. In any tribe, there is a significant percentage of young, usually singles males, who are adrenalin junkies — they are risk takers. They learn from experience. They obtain experiences by exploring and taking chances. In the past this often got them killed. Those who survived often were given access to the most fertile (beautiful) virgins. To give you some idea of how much this association of risk taking is associated with young males consider this: Almost without exception the men (and it is almost always men) who have won nobel prizes in the sciences, or a fields metal in mathematics, did their work for which they won the prize before they reached 30, and usually before they were married. Of the 472 prizes given in sciences, only 16 have been given to women or about 3.5%. I mentioned these academic “risks” because they do not require a young athletic body. Thus one would expect that as one got older and learned more that one would make more discoveries. But discoveries require, more than intellect, the willingness to explore the unknown and take risks, even if the risk is only to ones career and prestige as opposed to ones life and limb. Risk taking is done by the young, not the old and established.
Risk taking, learning from experience, learning from the physical world. What??? the prize winners described above got stupid when they reached their late 20?s? Only in the sense that their brains no longer were as able to take the risks involved in genuine discovery. In fact, I can think of only two people who kept coming up with new discoveries after their thirties, and neither of them had a family with children. Those two men would be Stephen Hawking, and Paul Erdos.
Clearly a newborn can not learn from authority because a newborn does not know what an authority is. An infant learns directly from its environment. While it is wired to bond to the adults in the group, until it has language skills it can not learn from them. Initially an infant will have a monkey see, monkey do way of learning from elders. When it acquires language skills, it will continue to learn mostly by imitation and exploration. It takes years of effort in a public schooling system to kill the natural curiosity of children.
As a child grows it comes to realize that there are big active things in its environment that give it a lot of pleasure, and have a lot of control over it. These parents, if the child is lucky, are a source of pleasure, and sometimes a source of discomfort if not actual pain. These are the childs first authority figures. If the child is lucky it will gradually come to realize that (s)he can learn about the environment without having to go to the effort of exploring. All of this occurs on a level that one would not likely call conscious.
Somewhere along the line, the child comes to discover that there are two different kinds of things in the world, those that, for the most part, are passive and those that react, and that these two kinds of things, alive or dead require the child to act very differently for the child to achieve the results that it wants. If a child is walking through a dark room, and stumbles over a live thing that is asleep, (s)he will want to react differently than if (s)he stumbles over a chair. In general these reactions reflect different kinds of thinking. Is the person thinking about sensible things, or about things that have spirit?
As children grow, most begin to learn that being good at interacting with (manipulating) people brings much more pleasure than being good at interacting with the physical world — that is making and fixing things. Children also find out that while nature can not be fooled that it is very easy to fool most people. As they grow older, the mental skills used to interact with people come to dominate, if not almost replace, those skills that they had as young children where most of their mental abilities and efforts were centered on the physical world.
Go back to my definition of st00pid. Being unable or unwilling to learn new things. I left out a clause there. Well two clauses actually. The complete statement should be. Being st00pid is being unwilling or unable to learn new things from the physical sensible world when that information conflicts with your world view, or unless that information comes from an acceptable authority figure.
Whether it is problems with the economy, or the climate, or pollution, or your health, or just simple family issues, you will be hard pressed to find a problem that does not have, as a major component, your inbuilt st00pidity, often combined with psychopaths all to willing to exploit it.
There exist multiple lines of evidence that almost all humans, and I include YOU, are st00pid: These lines are:
1. Brain Scans and other neurological studies see this: http://www.alisongopnik.com/Papers_Alison/sciam-Gopnik.pdf
The key phrase in this article is “The lack of prefrontal control in young children naturally seems like a huge handicap. But it may actually be tremendously helpful for learning. The prefrontal area inhibits irrelevant thoughts or actions.” End of SA quote. The problem is, that when we become sexually mature, we now have hardwired into most of us an established ground of what is relevant. We become unable to learn new stuff because, before we can even give it serious consideration, our brains say “that is not relevant” See an Article in Wired below.
1. And this: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_accept_defeat/http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_accept_defeat/
3. There are numerous examples of smart individuals, and highly technical institutions refusing to learn. I will describe one of each below. Einstein and NASA.
4. And just in case you think that refusing to learn is rare among scientists: consider this quote from Max Plank: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Max_Planck Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären, sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß ihre Gegner allmählich aussterben und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist.
Translation: A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it
So, if you want a quote from authority, there you have it: Max Planck, (look up Plancks constant), one of the giants of early twentieth century physics said that most scientists resist learning new things. In other words, most scientists are ST00PID. In fact, they are so st00pid that they would rather die than change their world view. WOW! Later I will give an example of this with Einstein.
How st00pid Plays in the World
1. Large powerful institutions got that way because what they do is more often right than wrong. Almost all such institutions operate in a way that assumes that the vast majority of their clients / customers / victims are st00pid. Think of their advertising campaigns and political commercials. Think of how they talk to you when you are threading your way through phone menu hell. “Your call is very important to us, and we will answer it when we damn well feel like it.” They address you as though were a slow child. They would not be treating you like you were st00pid if it did not work. This works and not just for a lot of people, or most people. It works for almost everybody, because as the evidence in 1, and 2 above demonstrates, almost everyone is st00pid.
2. Learning something contrary to your current point of view means that you have been wrong. Most people are very afraid of being wrong, and resist admitting ever being wrong.
3. Having degrees, certification, power etc. does not make people less st00pid. In fact, it may make them more st00pid. In most cases, people move up the corporate ladder because of the peter principle because they know how to please their boss, and because they do not screw up to badly. They do not move up because they can learn new stuff that is very different from the old stuff. Learning new stuff that is different from old stuff is going out of the box, and that is almost always the death of a career.
4. When a business becomes to st00pid it dies. This is not uncommon. Approximately 85% (it depends on how you count mergers and hostile takeovers) of the S&P 500 that started just over 50 years ago, no longer exist. These were the largest businesses in America at the time, and they had a shorter life expectancy than the average human. They died, primarily because of st00pidity. At this point, you are probably aware that government, when it gets st00pid, just gets more st00pid. It does not die. It is like an every growing festering sore. It is like a cancer.
So why are we st00pid? What is the advantage to having a built in refusal to learn new stuff? It turns out that this has a relatively simple answer. Whether you think evolution or a god designed us, the answer is the same. Up until about 150 years ago, being anxious to learn and easily learning new things while young, that is not yet sexually mature, and reluctant to learn from experience or evidence after becoming sexually mature had distinct survival advantages for the group.
Now consider two more things in the mix of human cultures. Social groups can co-operate or compete. If they compete, then the bigger ones will usually win over the smaller ones. How do people rise in such institutions? Not by bringing new ideas in, but by pleasing their superiors. Combine this with that a certain number of people in any society are psychopaths which I write about here: http://factotum666.livejournal.com/829.html#cutid1
and now you have an interesting result: Consider that something that is less st00pid, will probably win out over something that is more st00pid. But that is only if they are about the same size. Since large institutions have more resources, they can be more st00pid than small institutions and still prevail. But the larger an institution, the more of the managers are insulated from its environment by individuals who get promoted or stay employed, not by responding to the environment/customers, but by pleasing their superiors. Not only are there more decision makers like this, but they are more and more isolated from the physical world which is the origine of the information that the organization requires to survive. Combine this with psychopaths in the institution, and what you have is a situation where the greater the size of an institution, the more it will amplify and focus the st00pid that is within it and the more st00pid it will become.
This has an interesting implication for financial institutions and the concept of to big to fail. There is no such thing as to big to fail. The larger the entity, the more st00pid it is likely to become. If one looks at the S&P 500 in 1957 when it was created, and at the time represented about ¾ of the value of american stocks there is no obvious common thread running through the 15% that survive to today.
Do you now begin to understand how big government, big business, and big religion have brought humanity to the place in which it not finds itself? It is not because of any conspiracy. It is not because of systemic evil, though there are more evil people in corporate board rooms and the halls of government power than there are in the average assembly line. Rather it is because the amount of st00pidity, and its power, have been growing faster than the number of humans. Large institutions, and and the psychopaths that gravitate to the power that is there, amplify and focus st00pid. Their inability to learn is stunning in its depth and breadth. This is especially true if such an institution is run by a nameless and faceless bureaucracy rather than its founding family.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Human, All Too Human (1878):
Innocent corruption. In all institutions that do not feel the sharp wind of public criticism (as, for example, in scholarly organizations and senates), an innocent corruption grows up, like a mushroom.
And see it carefully. That is read it. Wait a few days, then read it again!!!
OK … Let us assume that I have correctly assessed the problem. It is not the Jews, or the Muslims, or the Capitalists, or Liberals, or xxx wing nut-cases, or anything else like that. It is broader and much more entrenched. It is wired into our brains as deeply as the need for food and sex. YOU ARE st00pid. Almost all humans, including the ones that think of themselves, and that we think of, as smart, are, actually, also, st00pid. st00pid is wired into us. But you already knew that. Most of you almost always assume that someone who disagrees with you is st00pid Don’t you??
How do we fix that? Well, the article cited above in Wired Magazine cites one way. Rather than associating with like minded people, associate with people who disagree with you and bring a different perspective. Assume that because they disagree with you that they are not automatically st00pid or evil. Make an effort to examine a problem from a different point of view.
There are several other ways to learn to be less st00pid, none of them are especially difficult. I mean if I, whose level of st00pidity lead him to refuse to learn that power tools can be dangerous until I cut off one of my thumbs, can learn to be less st00pid, than you probably can also.
I believe that I have discovered some rules or concepts that, in addition to helping you avoid being st00pid, will also enable you to detect when others are engaging in some kind of verbal behavior that either indicates lying and deception, or that they are attempting to take advantage of humans tendency to be wired to be st00pid. In either case the language is primarily designed to influence you for their benefit, often at your expense.
But Wait!! More evidence of St00pid
You probably think that this is still all interesting theory, but really does not apply to YOU. You think, in spite of “The masters of the Universe” having crashed our economy, and all the evidence that I have presented, that people are not really that st00pid. Hopefully, the following two examples will displell any illusions that you still have about st00pid not being almost universal.
The first example is Albert Einstein, everyones favorite genius. For him, I present three examples of st00pid, one from his area of expertise, physics. For hundreds of years people of wealth, power and influence have managed to figure out how to have sex and not get pregnant. Somehow this alluded the illustrious Herr Dr. Einstein who got his girlfriend pregnant out of wedlock and put the child up for adoption.
Einstein did this while spending almost all of his early life in a country that is one of the most heavily armed on the planet on a per capita basis. Not only is this country heavily armed, but it has somehow managed to stay out of wars since 1815. Yet, in 1950 he said in a recorded interview in 1950 “Striving for peace and preparing for war are incompatible with each other, and in our time more so than ever.” While Hitler was not in Switzerland during WWII, he seems unlikely that he was unaware of the following:
“Things are much more certain about the events of World War II. During that war, Hitler set his eyes on Switzerland’s vast gold reserves. He also saw the small country as a much-needed location for supply and communication lines for his Axis forces in Italy. But after a detailed analysis of Switzerland’s armed citizenry, rugged terrain, fortifications, and civil-defense preparations, German military planners decided to abandon any ideas of invasion.”
There was also the fact that the central government could not surrender. The Swiss to not have an army, they are an army. Our founder knew this when they wrote the constitution.
I urge you to look up the information on Switzerland and the degree to which it is “prepared for war”.
As long as I have mentioned Switzerland, I would like to offer the observation that the Swiss much more closely resemble the model put forth buy our founding fathers in our constitution than we do. There are two points in particular that I wish to point out. The first is that all real power lies in the individual cantons, not in the national government. This was the model proposed by our founding fathers. It seems to work very well. Second, when our government was founded the right to keep and bear arms meant military grade arms. If you do not believe this, then look up the phrase letters of marque.
Now you might think that this refusal to learn from the physical world did not include his area of expertise. That in fact he was not in fact subject to this idea of Max Planck, viz. A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. You would be wrong.
Wolfgang Pauli wrote to Werner Heisenberg that “Einstein has once again expressed himself publicly on quantum mechanics (together with Podolsky and Rosen—no good company, by the way), as is well known, this is a catastrophe every time it happens.” In fact, Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen proposed a thought experiment to demonstrate that there must be some hidden variables, otherwise there would be some kind of action at a distance. This is known as the EPR conjecture. It was finally refuted experimentally in 1972. In other words, because Einstein was wedded to his “common sense” version of the world, he refused to accept the implications of his own early experimental work in quantum mechanics
You may wish to read this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox “Most physicists today believe that quantum mechanics is correct, and that the EPR paradox is a “paradox” only because classical intuitions do not correspond to physical reality.”
brilliance does not guarantee that you can avoid being st00pid, being unwilling to learn new material, especially if it conflicts with your world view.
In this case, being wrong had no significant affect on any persons life, except possibly allowing some researchers in physics to gain notoriety.
Bureaucratic St00pid A Deadly Example
Now I will tell the real life of a tale that cost the lives of seven astronauts (level 1 st00pid), then seven more astronauts (level 2 st00pid, the kind typical of large hierarchical bureaucracies), as well as several billions of dollars of hardware. Here we will see how a large bureaucracy enhances and focuses st00pid.
Examining Nasa and the shuttle program we see a large system composed of smart people and show how they refuse to learn from experience, and thus are st00pid. And in this case, st00pid costs lives and billions of dollars. I am sure that most if not all of you are familiar with the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle failures. You are probably not familiar with Richard Feynman’s minority report on the Challenger failure
Now, if we have a child who is “special” we do not know if they are gifted or retarded. Those who manipulate others for their own pathological benefit are masters as using language in a way that can /pbest be described as Humpty Dumpty speak. It is easier to be st00pid if the tools that you use to think, words, can change their meaning from time to time. In fact, I will show later, how that corruption of meaning of important words can destroy an economy, as words, and concepts that once spoke of physical things come to represent nothing more than an opinion.at after blowing up a billion dollar plus piece of equipment and killing seven people, that the people who run the project would learn something, especially after a Nobel Prize winning physicist had pointed out what the problems were. One would be wrong.
http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/2003_3684260/the-gehman-report-echoes-of-challenger-in-columbia.html Here is a quote from that article: “Why would I read it?” asked Don Kutyna, a retired Air Force general and member of the panel that investigated the Challenger disaster. “It’s just a Xerox copy of our report.”
In fact if you take the report on the failure of the Columbia, replace occurrences of foam with O-ring, you get a pretty good copy of the minority report that Richard Feynman wrote. I could go on showing example after example of our “leaders”, the “best and the brightest”, the “masters of the universe” refusing to learn from the evidence or experience. In other words of being st00pid. I could fill a book. Heck many books have been filled describing in detail the follies of large organizations. And they all seem to follow the same general pattern, that is large hierarchal structures populated almost entirely by people promoted to their levels of incompetence, shielded from the consequences of their actions and who learn from authority rather than from experience. Given that, I think that it is safe to conclude that you are no less st00pid then these people are, and thus are also st00pid.
To compound the incredible st00pidity of NASA management, there had been previous close calls of both types of failure.
This for the O-rings, http://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow.cfm?id=most-dangerous-moments-space-shuttle-station-history#1
and this for the Foam impact on tile failure
http://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow.cfm?id=most-dangerous-moments-space-shuttle-station-history&photo_id=01738F52-B7EA-1398-1260C3E794362C20 Note that this tile event took place 15 years before the Columbia failed.
I wonder if the astronautics were aware of these previous events, and if so what does this say about their tendency to be st00pid and obedient to authority to continue to put their lives on the line, especially after the challenger explosion. I mean that is really scary. Here we have the “best and the brightest”, having seen the results of failing to address a problem, (the Challenger failure) and knowing that there is a possibly fatal problem with foam destroying tiles, taking no steps to address that problem, but just continuing to roll the dice.
But you say, these are atypical examples. Most scientists are not like Einstein (They are, go back and read the comment by Max Planck) and businesses are not like a government bureaucracy. But they are actually. In fact, almost the entire airlines industry is st00pid built on st00pid.
Consider this article on the airline industry. http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/02/2528659/whys-it-so-hard-to-make-money.html. This article includes this st00pid quote: “It’s just a crapshoot,” said Bill Diffenderffer, CEO of Skybus Airlines, which stopped flying on April 5, 2008 after less than a year in business. It was the third airline that week to fail. Such a statement would imply that there are no successful models out there. But there is at least one: At the relatively young age of 35, a Mr. Rollin King started Southwest Airlines.
As a startup, it lost money for the first two years. This is not unusual for a capital intensive business. It has been profitable every year since then, 37 years in a row. It is unionized. It grows. It goes up against larger companies and wins. It is a public company, doing very public things. It has NEVER had a fatal accident, and has had only one injury accident. So, here is a fully functioning working model, that everyone else in the industry is to st00pid to copy, or at least to copy accurately.
Southwest is not the only profitable airline. Virgin Atlantic has been profitable for almost every one of its 25 years of existence.
This is not the only example of private businesses being run by people who are st00pid. Above, I mentioned something called the peter principle with a link. The fact is that bureaucracies are petri dishes for st00pid. By removing feedback from the physical world, they just about guarantee that the chances of failure of a company are directly proportional to the amount that that principle is followed. And most businesses work that way. The way to get ahead is to please your superiors, and the best way to do that is flattery, obedience and other similar BS. If making your superior happy means stealing from the pension funds of school teachers, then by all means do so. (See Goldman Sachs or Lehman Brothers).
Now that you know this, how really st00pid even smart people are, perhaps you can accept your own reluctance to learn new or different information and you can begin to address the problem.
This is not easy. We are not wired to think, we are wired to respond. Consider this article
The results suggest that making the utilitarian choice—killing the baby, tossing the man off the footbridge To save many more people—requires a lot of cognitive override as we effortfully push against our instincts to hold back. Here the phrase effortfully push against our instincts is a synonym for using “the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with cognitive control.” Ie actual thinking and reasoning.
As near as I can tell, almost every person or corporation out there is interested in only one thing. Making things better for themselves any way possible, and let the country and community be damned. They wish to sell you on their ideas, which are often incoherent or inconsistent. They do this because like me they think know that you are st00pid, and they use every trick that they have amassed over the past sixty or so years to play on that st00pidity.
Following are a few examples of how large bureaucracies, corporate, political, public, treat you as though you are complacent st00pid sheep:
Their commercials: Short silly comedies aimed at children using grade school language an concepts. The exception to this are commercials for drugs. Almost every medical add that I have seen is, and I do not recall an exception, a lie on its face according to numerous articles that I have found and read on the internet from multiple sources. And by lie, I do not mean that many of the details are false, but that the story that tell, that taking their medication is the best or even a good way to treat the problem for which their expensive medicine is being advertised. For example,while the correlation between high cholesterol and coronary heart disease is tenuous at best, the best way to lower cholesterol, with virtually no risk is by taking high doses of niacin and lecithin. Both are cheap, and neither will kill you.
Automated answering systems. Companies that pay their executives tens of millions of dollars a year, can not afford to hire a few more operators at $ 50,000 a year including all benefits so that you do not have to wait five, ten or more minutes while they tell you that “your phone call if very important to us”? Of course they could hire more operators, but why bother when they know that most of their customers are dumber than dirt, and will put up with whatever crap they dish out.
Food. Look at what the food – industrial complex makes and sells to you. Spend an hour to watch this. Sugar, the Bitter Truth Chances are that not only are you st00pid, but you are fat. You are fat because the food industrial complex knows that you are to st00pid to pay attention to what you eat, and to read labels. and they market to the st00pid part of you.
Where Are We?
I have shown you by description and examples that we need to change our way of thinking and speaking so that we distinguish between the sensible physical world, and opinion, and that we should use carefully chosen well defined words when speaking of the physical world so that information is accurately transmitted. Hopefully I have also shown you that you must work hard to not be st00pid, and must be always on guard against people who are, for want of a better phrase, farther up the food chain then you, taking advantage of your innate st00pidity.
I am very careful when I use the word fact. To me the concept of fact, can only be applied to the end of a logical chain of reasoning. Here are two facts: At the end of Feynman’s minority report on the failure of the Challenger he stated “…nature can not be fooled…”. I suspect that there may be some short term instances where this is not entirely true, but I can say that nature will always balance her books. As a practical example there is no such a thing as cheap energy. Energy costs what it costs, and if it appears cheap, then you are stealing it either from someone else in some far off place so you can not see the victims of the theft, or you are stealing it from your descendants who will pay the costs in the form of a severely degraded environment.
The second fact is a paraphrase of Sun Tzu who said that you have a much better chance of winning a battle if you know your enemy, and you know yourself. My paraphrase is that if you do not understand the problem, then you are very unlikely to resolve it in a manner to your liking”You may get lucky, but in general, it is much better to know what the problem is.
If you are a sane person than the only real problems that you can have must be about the physical world. That is, real problems are not about opinions or values. If you are going to discuss a problem you must frame it in words that describe the sensible physical world. To do this you must use words that are about sensible physical things, and their sensible attributes and / or abstractions about them such as greater than, or less than.
Avoid words that imply value or preference, unless you really want to state your value or preference. Then just state that. In other words do not say that A is better than B when what you really mean is that you prefer A to B.
Consider how much more accurate “I liked that hot fudge sundae” is “Than that sundae was really good.” Good as in “all those empty fat laden calories made my body more healthy” ? Not likely. Or how about “that potato salad was good” Not likely unless you think that food poisoning is good. Of course you still liked the potato salad. The point, and I repeat it here, is that good does not reside in a thing. Good is an opinion that resides in you, and is more accurately expressed as the fact that you liked something
To the extent that you follow the above two rules, do not try and fool nature, and do differentiate between things / situations from opinions, then you will convey useful information and have a greater chance of correctly determining if something is a problem, as opposed to an opinion, and then assessing the problem and finding a solution.
For example: There is no “illegal drug problem”, because people taking the kind of drugs that others do not like, or in a way that others do not like is a matter of opinion. Some people do not like it. Making the opinion of some people a matter where we bring to bear the power of the state only creates problems where none existed. This happens, and is almost inevitable, because of a number of things. I have mentioned psychopaths and the nature of bureaucracy and the fact that power attracts psychopaths like honey attracts flies. But there is another factor that I came across in an article by Larken Rose. People who get power are compelled to use it. As Mr. Rose says “What every politician wants to convey is, “I’m important, and great and noble, because look how I use my power for good!” How well would that work for them if they didn’t use the power at all? “Look at me, I’m not doing anything!” Great, but who cares? What prestige, glory and adoration (not to mention wealth) would that bring them?”
********** more on the state, laws etc.
Systems and Networks
Above, I wrote briefly about systems and networks. I explore that more, here. While working on this I came across something interesting. I am not sure that many people have a clear idea about the difference between a network and a system. As evidence of this confusion consider that we have network systems and system networks. Now I grant that it is possible to have a noun and an adjective change places such as an industrial military and a military industry, but it is not the usual case of events.
When I started digging, it got even more confusing. Systems and networks have large areas of intellectual effort dedicated to explaining and studying each of them and how and when they interact, and what that all means. I confess that I found it intimidating and confusing. Yet, just as we have always lived in a world where energy, force and power were important and fundamental to everyday life, even before they were well defined by Newton and his contemporaries, today we live in a world of networks and systems even if it would be hard to get five people to agree on what they are, what their differences are, and how they interact with each other.
I spoke to a knowledgeable friend and off the top of his head he gave me these definitions:
A network is a collection of node points connected to each other by linear bidirectionally transmissive information conduits, and
A system is way of undertaking and completing a multi-stepped process
I went looking again, and found this for system:
1. Any organized assembly of resources and procedures united and regulated by interaction or interdependence to accomplish a set of specific functions. [JP1] 2. A collection of personnel, equipment, and methods organized to accomplish a set of specific functions. (188)
I like these simple definitions. Most people of average intelligence would understand them and could provide examples of each. We can distinguish between networks, which are natural, and systems which are human constructs. Observe that all the definitions of system include human constructs. “Complete a process”, and “accomplish a set…” are human constructs. Nature does not complete or accomplish anything. However, points exist in nature, connections exist in nature, and information moves between these points over connections.
Something else that is fundamentally different between networks and systems is that systems tend to be hierarchical and networks tend to be flat. You may have a hierarchy of networks, but each network is, generally, going to be flat.
Because of this, networks tend to be more robust than systems. Only recently have men begun to build networks. Usually they built systems. Networks may wither and die, but they seldom fail. Think of the US rail network as opposed to the US financial System. Networks are just sort of “there”. If they grow, it is slowly and naturally and by connecting with other networks. There is no real command control. Go back to the links below to see all the inherent problems with systems. I think that you will agree with me that, eventually, almost all systems fail.
A system is nothing more or less than a human abstraction. Nature does not have systems. Nature simply is. Sometimes she has networks. When humans speak of natural systems they are describing a pattern and a purpose that they see in nature. In addition, systems exist to do something, though again, what the system does is a human idea. If you do not believe this, then imagine a system that exists and has no purpose.
Let us stay with systems in nature. There is nature just being nature. It could be a meadow, or the solar system. Whatever the meadow is doing, it is doing it in some context and environment and its purpose is within that environment. Perhaps it is providing food and shelter for numerous animals that live within its boundaries, which are another human concept. But someday there will be drought or flood and that entire system will no longer exist. It will have failed. Eventually the solar system will no longer exist. It to will have failed.
Humans build systems. These systems fail. If they are big, then the adverse consequences are big. Also big systems, like big anything tend to have a lot of momentum and are slower to adapt to changes in the environment. Here are two discussions on systems and how and why they fail. This one is funny: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systemantics
this one is a little more serious: http://www2.ece.ohio-state.edu/~fasiha/systemantics/
and this one is still more serious: http://www.draftymanor.com/bart/systems.htm
Minimizing the Affects of st00pid
The Four Parts
Before I get into how to minimize the affects of st00pid, let me point out that the ways that we have of thinking and speaking are not distinct and isolated things. It is not like something is either sensible or not, or associated with values or not. New knowledge that we acquire does not come from either ONLY the environment, or ONLY an authority. Almost every thing that is associated with a biological entity has a mix of properties and those properties lie on a continuum
For most people in our technological culture, very little mental effort is required to deal with the physical world. Unlike 150 years ago, about 7 generations, the average person in a first world country does not need to know about how to grow or prepare food. They do not need to know, and for the most part can not know, how to make or fix most of the physical things in their world. A few people can and do fix their own food, but only a tiny number actually grow their own food. Because there is so little interaction with the physical world in any meaningful way, people have lost touch with how real the maxim “nature can not be fooled” is.
Even among children there is less interaction with the physical world. Children are either interacting with other children, adults, or through a technological interface that shields them from the consequences of real world behavior. In the real world, when you fall off of your bicycle and get a badly skinned knee, there is no “do over” button. Children pretend to interact with the physical world via video games which includes an undo button. In todays world success is determined almost exclusively by ones interactions with people as opposed to things. Maybe that is why professional sports are so popular. Given how little actual manufacturing where humans actually make physical things, there is in this country, sports are one of the few places where humans can see other humans interacting with the physical world in a real and meaningful, non bullshit, way. Once a child is out of infancy, she spends relatively little of her intellectual efforts dealing with the Rsensible world except for avoiding walking into walls. A child will be mostly concerned with the senses of touch, or with pleasing people, that is to say values. Children today grow up being convinced that nature can, indeed, be fooled, because they have few occasions to learn differently.
********** lies pamela meyer
Because of Axiom II, People must acknowledge their innate tendencies to be st00pid and to be obedient to authority.
1. Recognize that there are two different kinds of thought, that which is about the sensible world, and that which is about other things, one of which is opinion, another is about various feelings and spiritual things. Thoughts and ideas about the physical world can be tested against the physical world. If you learn how to tell the difference between the two areas of mental activity, the sensible, and other, then you can become more easily be able to see when others are lying or otherwise trying to manipulate you.
2. People must start to pay attention to the meaning of words, and to recognize how people in, well let us call them high status positions (HSP), are using words to manipulate other people. Being aware of this will help you to avoid being manipulated.
3. People must stop speaking in deity mode, and learn to recognize when others are doing so which is almost all the time. By deity mode, I mean speaking in the form X is Y. as in The dinner is good. Or Taxes are to High. Politicians almost always speak in deity mode. This idea that if you say something than it is true is called deity mode from the following: From John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
3a. Speaking in non deity mode is called E-prime. In its pure form, E-prime is English without the use of any form of the verb “to be”. I would suggest that you investigate this form of speech. Unfortunately, I, and I suspect most people, will find pure e-prime very unnatural. I see the wall as being red will likely strike most people as pretentious. Physical things have properties, and most people recognize this as a fact. The wall is red. On the other hand, “I liked the dessert” is a more accurate statement than “that was a good dessert”. I think that e-prime should be reserved only for speaking about non-sensible things, and I elaborate on this below.
1. Finally, if a large number of people is required to do something, then that number of people should be organized along the lines of a network rather than a system. Notice that a network is going to have built in feedback loops, and that those loops will be relatively short compared to any loops that may exist in systems. In addition, those loops will be intrinsic to the network and not designed to shield decision makers from the adverse consequences of their decisions.
You can be fairly certain that if someone makes a statement that John is taller than Harry, that everyone will say that John is taller than Harry. But if John says that food 1 is sweeter than food 2, or “that was a good meal”, then you can not be sure what others will say. This lack of a clear difference does not invalidate the idea that there are two different kinds of things about which we think, those that are sensible, and those that are not. All that it means is that it may not be easy to place something like taste in one group or the other. We can still be sure that moral, bad, happy, and faith are not going to be measured by metrics like the meter on which there is universal agreement.
Conclusions and Possible Solutions
Please visit these three sites which, as near as I can tell, describe a company working in the real world along the lines of networks.
Numerous studies including the areas of anthropology, psychology, and brain physiology that involves looking at brains working in real time support the following assessments of humans:
Humans are naturally good and empathetic.
There are humans that to one degree or another see other humans as food. They lack empathy. Technically they are known as psychopaths. As I have said earlier, I would suggest that you use the internet to do reserch on Bob Hare and psychopathy.
As I have discussed above, humans who have reached the age of sexual maturity have become st00pid. That is, they are unwilling or unable to learn from experience or evidence. They will learn from authority. This leads me to the next observation which is that while humans are naturally good, they are also authoritarian and most humans can easily be lead by authorities to do bad things to other humans, and in fact can easily be made to act against their own interests. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.asp
It is very likely that you are part of the set of most people. That is, all other things being equal, you are nice, kind, st00pid, and if someone from “the state” tells you to kill your neighbor, you will probably do so, especially if your neighbor is one of “THEM”. I am sure that this last statement is offensive to you.
As evidence of the accuracy of the above assertion, I suggest that you read about the studies of Stanley Milgram on obedience to authority. It does help to be forewarned. I doubt that any of his subjects thought that they could so easily be made to torture complete strangers. Some people have questioned Mr. Milgrams methodology. It is well to remember that he did his study as an effort to come to terms with what normal people did during WWII, and have done again in several places throughout the world in the past 65 years since WWII ended.
What, if anything useful, can we learn from the above information, and what can we do. Well, we can do two things, both relatively easy.
1. You can use a partial version of E-prime — you could use the strict version, but I find that silly —. You will make every effort to remove forms of the verb “to be” whenever speaking of non sensible things, that is things that can not be measured and are matters of opinion like morals and preferences. Speaking like this will make you sensitive to when people are lying, and will make you more honest.
As a corollary to this, you will become acutely aware of how “leaders” and politicians continually speak in a way that E-prime refers to as deity speak. Think of that as a version of lying
1. Realize that when you think, that you are likely thinking about physical sensible things, or non sensible things, otherwise known as things that involve opinions, and preferences. Use the appropriate tool for the appropriate thing, That is, do not use hammer to drive a screw, or a screwdriver to insert a nail. It can be done, but the results are not the best.
By being aware that nature has wired humans to be st00pid, you will
1. Hopefully be on guard against being st00pid yourself. You will be more open to ideas fromm the physical world that conflict with your world view.
2. Be less likely to believe someone just because they have some official blessing by some institution as an expert. Remember that almost all institutions and bureaucracies are populated from top to bottom by people who have been promoted to their level of incompetence.
3. You will become aware of the psychopaths in our culture, and that successful psychopaths tend to be the ones who are more prevalent at upper management levels and in high political office. Psychopaths see you as food.
4. Realizing that systems fail, and that the problems caused by large systems failing are larger than the problems of small systems failing, you will start working towards making all of our institutions smaller. There is one exception to this. Networks made up of networks can be large. If what you want to do requires a large “system” you may want to re-think what it is you want to do. Perhaps if we had a network of community banks rather than a “financial system” we would not be in the situation in which we currently find ourselves.
5. We need to rethink everything about government. Government is not natural, and is a large infectious cancerous system that has a tendency to corrupt almost everything it touches. I discuss this in my article here http://factotum666.livejournal.com/829.html#cutid1e Government is about systems that are built by men. Sometimes that may be absolutely necessary. There may be no alternative. But I would submit that local, mostly autonomous networks at the most basic level would be much better at delivering education, medicine, and food, then the corporate/government messes that we have now. Please do some research on Switzerland, and how they were a model used by the founding fathers for our country. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/bradley1.html Where government is minimal, in say computers, telecommunications, automobiles, we have great progress. In the other areas we have failure. Well, unless you consider a population comprised of illiterate, uneducated fat sick people to be a mark of success.
6. And speaking of government, if you are a follower of god and believe in the bible you may realize that, at least as far as I can tell, god was more inclined for Israel to have local networked forms of governance than a hierarchical government. Here is Samuel:
Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectioneries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
Until we realize that any unit of measure, even one of values — that is how much a person likes something — is based on the physical world, we will continue to have crises in all aspects of our economies. Attempting to make a unit of measure arbitrary will fail in measuring values as surely as bridges would fail if the measure of an inch were arbitrary, or a building will fail if the measure of cement in concrete were arbitrary.
Humans are part of nature. Their tendency to measure things and to have preferences, to value some things more than others is part of nature. The need to have a consistent standard of measurement is logical, for what does measurement mean if the unit of measure is a variable? Thus, to have a s stem of values that is not in a continual state of crisis requires a fixed standard of measure because as Richard Feynman said (and this is NOT an appeal to authority, but rather giving credit where credit is due) in his minority report on the challenger explosion, Nature can not be fooled!
I think this kind of dictatorship of the future, I think will be very unlike the dictatorships which we’ve been familiar with in the immediate past… That if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in “Brave New World,” partly by these new techniques of propaganda. They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so making him actually love his slavery. I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn’t to be happy.
selling this: Reason can seldom be used to sell an argument or a point of view.
words —governor regulate
the lifespan of a fact http://www.npr.org/2012/03/08/148040132/lifespan-what-are-the-limits-of-literary-license
Corporate whistle blowers. http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/corporate-whistleblowers-get-silent-treatment
obedient to authority
A is B is either a lie or an opinion unless B can be measured.
Most people are married to their point of view and logic and reason will not change that. Almost everyone is an authoritarian. However, most people harbor a certain distrust of “big systems run by experts”. I think that if we are going to move people away from statism and its associated concepts, that we will have to focus on this inherent distrust of big systems run by experts. We should concede that they often are better, and know more than we do but that that does not mean that they can not make errors. And when people running large systems make errors, the consequences are global and severe. So, even if Keynes were correct, which he may be, there will still be errors, and they will be disastrous. As much as possible all systems should have a limited size, and that is especially true for governments.
stupid nobel prize winners
I kid you not! And it wasn’t just “token support.” The local Republican party chairman wrote about him: “I assess his genuineness, integrity, and devotion to duty to rank right alongside of President Abraham Lincoln.” As Hare dryly notes, this dimwit was easily swayed by words, and was blind to deeds.
What kind of psychological weaknesses drive people to prefer lies over truth?
eurozone collapse can not fool nature
In reality the leaders did not always make the best contribution to the task, but their voices were usually heard first and most often. THE MIKE AFFECT ^^^ *** ^^^
germany bambi animal memory authority
The nature of LLC’s & politics & economics
information black hole “planck length” cause emergent
Power Doesn’t Just Attract Mean and Stupid People — It Makes Them That Way
birth of war
on the other side: http://randombio.com/reviews/war.html
large paper for war
7 basic principles
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information black hole “planck length” cause emergent
http://c4ss.org/content/13061 The Regulatory State — Behind the Myth Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.
video boot stomping on a face forever
Science is pretty much unchanging. Perhaps it is why it creates so much progress, as opposed to official unchanging church doctrine which keeps changing, and results in so much sectarian strife.
Lets make a simple table — bearing in mind that the the physical world is the creation of god (if he exists) so those are really his laws
|religion||god||Laws of science|
To live by the laws of the physical is to live by the laws of god. We can discover what they are, we CAN NOT violate them (Nature can not be fooled) Religion is really the laws of man. At best they are what some men think (but without evidence) are the laws of god. In any case they are never validated against gods true work, the physical world, thus must remain suspect.
Is that brilliant or what????
By the way, something can be internally consistent, and still be wrong.
http://onthehuman.org/2010/12/objective-moral-truths/ Moral relativism and problem solving