Only for statistical dynamics geeks. An experiment I did on a spreadsheet. In the 2nd chart, the selection range for a random number shifted upward only 2%, and only when there was a superior neighbor on the left, yet note that even this modest increase in competitiveness significantly affected overall results. Continue reading
Thirty minutes ago, CNN Breaking News released the following headline.
A now-retracted UK study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud,” a medical journal reports.
It’s hard to think of an issue that is not more emotional than autism. It involves children and parental responsibility. Love, guilt, shame, anger, and fear all played a role in a few parents and doctors taking 2 co-occurring events–the appearance of autism and vaccination–and running the notion past science before science had time to react. The the return to truth has now been much more painful than necessary due to the emotions of so many who hold to this myth. [http://whatstheharm.net/autismdenial.html]
This post is an elaboration of #3 from a list of things I’ve learned late in life.
How do we test the reliability of human knowledge? Don’t we have to first demonstrate what is true, then assess the percentage of the world that disagrees with that truth?
No. All we have to do is to determine the percentage of believers holding a world view that is logically exclusive of other dominant world views. Consider the logically exclusive religions of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Since Christianity has the largest market share of 33%, the percentage of humans who hold a false world view is at least 66%.
The interesting thing about this fact is that Continue reading
If we were simply minds designed to assess truth, life would be easy. We could simply test and adopt the evidential heuristics and algorithms that provide the most predictive successes, apply these tools to the evidence for and against a given proposition, then simply assign a probability to the truthfulness of that proposition. There would be no default position of belief or disbelief. There would be no bivalent conclusion of belief or disbelief. Everything would be comfortably a matter of epistemological probabilities that had no bearing on our survival.
However, we find ourselves active agents in a world in which we are driven to survive and secure happiness for ourselves and those we love. We find ourselves emotional beings that are very much disturbed by uncertainty. We are driven to “know”.
This drive to “know” is what pulls us away from proper probabilistic positions on the truthfulness of claims, and compels us to claim “knowledge” that a proposition is either true or untrue. While this bivalent approach to truth destroys our credibility as effective assessors of epistemological probabilities, it is nonetheless fully human.
We are most fundamentally emotional creatures, and the most fundamental realm of meaning is that of emotion. From the time we are infants, our emotional brains are busy sorting through these needy emotions and attempting to carve out a social identity, a set of things we can call “true”, and a code of behavior. But there is nothing as subjectively real as our emotions.
So we are compelled by these emotions to construct an edifice that can comfortably house our emotions by providing psychological, epistemological and moral frameworks over which we can then drape image, and respectably present ourselves to society.
Because the goal is to cloak our raw and muddled emotions under more presentable walls of definition, this enterprise is inherently illusory, and is most commonly self-delusional. Yet by the time we reach adulthood, we have constructed an elaborate edifice that, if matching the expectations of society, can assure our social well-being.
I’d like to deconstruct the various walls of meaning to expose the raw emotions that we often do not want to admit lie at the foundation of being.
- Identity. This is the most transparent. Many realize that identity is static only where it is thought static. Personhood can change significantly over a lifetime. We say “this is who I am” at our peril. Constructing rigid walls of identity lock us into a self that forfeits a more colorful and fuller life. But, to avoid the swirling and persistent uncertainty and fear, our adolescent minds forge an identity that we often find hard to later modify. We begin to see the image that we have constructed upon our emotions as a rigid entity, and prior to our emotions. This self-delusion serves to maximize predictability and minimize risks, but it often leads to marginal lives. If we can recognize that it is emotions that are the substrate to our identities, and take measures to directly address those emotions rather than merely repainting the peeling facade the same color from time to time, life can become much more dynamic and enriching.
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I‘m taking a break from being grumpy. It’s time to celebrate the human condition. View the clip below. Susan Boyle, a woman who has allegedly never been kissed, gives an incredible vocal performance. But it is not just Susan that moves me. It is everything human about the context; the musicians, the composition of the song, the response of the audience, all the strange traits that make us emotional humans. I often rant against emotions when they form the substrate of an ideology, but I warmly celebrate them here in this singular majestic manifestation of humanness.
Last night I had a discussion with a friend on the possibility of reaching objective truth without it being tainted with subjective emotions. This afternoon, I sparred with another friend on whether an objective assessment of reality is possible. And just an hour ago I received a comment from a gentleman named Dave on this same topic in a response to my post Reasons For My Deconversion.
I responded to Dave’s comment and decided to post both of our comments in this separate post.