There is this thing called “value-fact distinction”; it points out to the difference between “what is” and “what ought to be” (in Persian: «باید و نباید» vs. «هست و نیست»).
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1. As a child I was not aware of this distinction. I think it is quite natural (a default setting) to experience the reality based on emotions and values and judge the world based on how it benefits us, as opposed to objective investigation out of mere curiousity.
That is, morality is – wrongfully and as a default mindset – assumed to be as objective as rationality.
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2. As I grew up I started to spot relativity in our ethics and morals. I was convinced that factual statements are objective and can be evaulated as true or false, but ethical statements are subjective and right vs wrong is a matter of taste or perspective.
True/False and Right/Wrong duality may “feel” alike, and we apply both to our decision-makings in life. But we should not mix them while investigating the world: If we set out to inspect the objective reality, we should stick to the facts staying away from the subjectivity of ethics. Mistaking right or wrong for true or false is a trap.
Or facts are objective; values are not.
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3. The weird thing is that the distinction between facts and values is fading again for me. They are coming together like when I was a child, but this time in a different way.
I ask what if facts and values are both a matter of perspective, in a fundamental way. That both rationality and morality are subjective?
Kids may know some things better, prior to their culturally biased upbringing.
So there’s assumed to be this regular, normal and non-altered state of consciousness; a “base” state. you can call it “home”. And then there are these other places that we can go visit sometimes, where reality gets distorted:
None of these states are considered “home”. Home is that “normal” setting, that holy centre of coordinates in what you may call the “mind locus”, the phase space of our human mind states.
But is there really an absolute coordinates for home? Where we perceive the reality as it is, or less distorted? And then getting distant from it the reality starts to look wavy and misrepresent itself? And then consciousness gets “altered”?
Where does that assumption come from?
Is there really a non-altered state of consciousness? Sure, there may be a physiological basis for that so-called “waking beta wave state” where most of us spend most of our times. But who says this is exactly the coordinates where the cosmic telescope to discover reality locates?
We don’t have to hack what we are hard-wired to perceive, but is that “norm” really physiological? Could it be just cultural? Or some of its dimensions at least?
And say there’s a “home”, is it really where we are?
Who says we see reality better when we are sitting sober behind a microscope? Who says we are sober?? That stoned man under the bridge is sober for his own sake, experiencing his own reality. And that well-dressed business man appears high to him. Every conciousness is “altered”. None of their minds are parked at home. There’s no home!
There’s no absolute frame of reference, just a common place. A state where people happen to colonize that phase-space more.
Now right a geometry, a theory of relativity for that space!
You know the two-year-rule for clothes — get rid of apparel that you haven’t worn in two years?
There should be a similar app or program for Facebook friends. After-all people are more influential in our lives than clothes. You know that nice feeling when you open the closet and all items that you page through are proper and wearable! Then why nobody has made an app so next time when you check your social networking closet, it would be a more relevant and appealable showcase?
I tell you why. Because it doesn’t need an app.
Actually there’s no app or program to rid from useless clothes either. Still people manage it.
You haven’t had a strong friendship policy to start with? No like, message, care, friendly vibe or interesting content exposure for a long time? Not a considerable past spent together either?
The “two-year-rule” is there for you! Just find your own time consant.
I claimed this once before and was questioned by a friend, that why I even care who said it first? [Hell, I don’t!]. That what matters most for the message is that it spreads itself afterall, under any brand. And I do agree that we need good salesmen and “insiders” to tune down crazy but crucially good ideas and to make them digestible for certain crowds who control the planet. Important crowds as business-oriented as our politicians, or as constipated and rigid as the mainstream body of the scientific enterprise, in this case for the easily-impressed TED community. So it is still good for those memes to be transmitted under any brand, whether the messenger is carrying an original mutation or not. That’s not the point here.
The point is that a picture of something is rarely as good as the actual deal itself. And if you, for example, would have the chance to meet the predecessors of Dalai Lama you wouldn’t practice Yoga or Zen or whatever mindfulness with a rather successful Yoga teacher in Oslo sentrum! Would you?
You wouldn’t, independent from the revenue that the Yoga school generates or the number of their social media subscribers. They may be clever and passionate enough to understand some of those messages and turn them in to a self-promoting successful carrier, and in good faith even. But I think it leaks out if something is the real deal, or just a useful modification.
So I repeat, if you had been exposed to a good deal of the diverse meterial laid out humbly in the 80s and 90s by a bunch of crazy marginalized visionary thinkers including Terence McKenna (who has a few blunders himself, I agree), then the book Sapiens and similar contents would not have much more value to add to you, let alone impressing you.
The lost treasure I am refering to was largely limited to a tiny audience, a ring of psychedelic substance users and hidden in controversy and censorship, up until lately that it has become digitally accessible. Many of those videos are put up by stoned fans and are thus accompanied by psychedelic music and cheesy fractal images so have the potential to turn you off. But you may as well find yourself motivated enough to search through them for the actual substance.
Well, it is saddening that we live in a double fucked-up eonvironment; where the rational goal-oriented folks are largely brain-washed and the open-minded intuitive people are irrationally stoned, in a metaphorical if not chemmical sense. Too little overlap between practicallity and intuition that marginalizes uncompromising truth-seekers and deprives the world from real wisdom. But that’s the human civilization in the primitive era of the early 21st century. We should accept this is the case. We are living in Trump era if you may like to call it that. I would choose many other names, as Trump is just a tiny little byproduct among millions of other symptoms that we don’t see, as we are used to them.
Anyhow, if I believe in the genuinity of the prizes that this guy has won (including something called the Polonsky Prize for “Creativity and Originality”), at best the jury was largely unaware that these has been said decades ago.
Cleverly copied with modification, or simply redundant, I’d like to promote this dialogue here. We need many more of these guys in troubled times like this. So, thumbs up for more future replications.
Elon Musk amongst others brings some meta-statistical argument to show that we are more likely to be in a simulation than not; that we are most definitely not flesh, but words made flesh.
I don’t know how we can take someone’s word seriously, whose self is just an avatar in a simulation. That someone want to colonize Mars merely does not give more validity to their words, especially when they’re themselves made of words!
So what he is popularizing is given credit to the philosophers Nick Bostrom (2003) and Hans Moravec (1998) earlier. And I have found modern instances as old as Alan Watts (1972) expressing the same argument (here as the first fantasy out of three).
Transcending yourself, your simulators and theirs!
Whoever said it first, what matters is who did it first!
Saying that our bodies are not hardware and is instead of the sort of information/software is probably an unfalsifiable claim. It is like placing an object next to its meta level of existence and yet comparing them as two similar things. It is paradoxical like Russel’s antinomy that deals with a type of whether a set can be a member of itself or not. And in my opinion is as valid as saint Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological argument to prove God, brought a thousand years ago.
But well, if we are in a simulation and we can one day prove it, then we have understood things about those who programmed us. So why not continuing to extrapolate the transcendental cascade to know things about those who programmed them? And may be even hinting our simulators that they may be in a simulation too, and in what kind of simulation even.
Maybe that’s why they simulated us…
How to find out? With a simulation may be. Like program something that could tell us what’s going on beyond us and here’s the catch: beyond our creators and also their simulator!
A cascade of interventionist Gods
Now a deeper philosophical question is not whether we are in a simulation. As it can be interpreted differently based upon the definition of the God/simulator and is an unfalsifiable claim, a matter of faith. The more interesting question is, assuming that we are in a form of a simulation, is our creator an interventionist e onor not! i.e. Whether we are in a supervised simulation that changes sometimes based on how we act (are there miracles?), or alternatively we are just given a bunch of rigid rules and then left alone to compute.
Which itself boils down to whether our simulators are supervised by their intervening God or not.
If our creators are interventionist, how about their Gods? An interventionist God may be beyond us and so appear to us as having free will but for those who made that creature, itself could only be a type of abandoned code left to go down its own path. That cascade logically never ends.
Opening this discussion, there can be follow-up questions:
What kind of simulation are we in? What are its boundaries and limits compared to our regular manmade type of simulations? Are we in a familiar type of simulation; say a huge multithreaded discrete finite algorithm? Or could it be fundamentally more complex than our currently familiar notion of algorithmic computation, a simulating program?
If we are role playing in a discrete and finite type of computation, then a full history of space-time can be given in a humangous binary file or technically a large integer on the tape of a Turing machine. And then we are some chunks of information on it; enumerable combination of finite symbols rendered locally or globally frame by frame, discretely in time (basic notions known in complexity of computation).
And in that scenario, will that universal machine even differs if a tree falls in a forest but no one is around to hear it? Will there be a sound calculated when there’s no ear? Or is it more likely (and efficient) for that simulation to go only as far as the observer goes?
This is a subjective claim so don’t take a positivist approach towards it. So, sometimes lately, while going to sleep or if I meditate I see a simple “mood” dashboard in my head. It’s actually a control panel with few knobs that can control my personality and my approach towards life. And playing with its interface affects my behavior in response to the environment and can tune my character and guide my actions. And it seems like in some boring periods it’s just set to the same setting and is not much in use.
The thing is that I have come to believe that it is possible to adjust this interface on will and to choose a different setting that can totallt change the game. Like picking a new edge on an old Atari cartridge.
Being able to play with some mysterious interface in your head with only soft-thinking in a meditative state or a power-nap may be only a placebo effect, but are we sure that we have actually not eveolved any capability to semiconsciously trigger and adjust some chemical process up there? Like adjusting the neurotransmitters in the brain? To me it is like painting a picture when you have all those colors somewhere in your palette, as these things apparently exist in our body already. I am not knowledgible about these but came across this in a video by my new found sage:
“It’s interesting to me that in the new world, a human group [refers to ayahuasca-using societies in the Amazon rainforests] have re-established a partnership paradise in an environment that quite closely parallels the African situation of 20,000 years ago; a continent covered by forests. And in this extremely floristically rich environment these people have gotten together the ‘fix’. The ‘fix’, so that the humanness feels good. And isn’t it interesting that the fix turns out to be not a drug, but a shifting of the ratios of neurotransmitters already present in the organism, as though we’re just out of tune. We have evolved [culturally] out of tune. There’s an enzyme problem that has caused us to fail to suppress the ego, and this creates a spectrum of cultural effects that drives us all nuts.”
– Terence McKenna
My left shoulder has an available devil position. If you know any hellish villian monster looking for a job please ask them to send in their CVs, particularly the last three shoulders they have been sitting on. Good balance skills are required. We offer a relaxed and non-competitive working environment since the right angel is on sick leave.
PS. Key question: Does the right side of the brain control the left shoulder angel? Or she has autonomy and is controlled by her own brain? In which case which hemisphere of her brain shall be dominant?!
1. Not more stable countries and functioning pieces of the developping world fall in to the destiny of Syria. Not more peaceful cities be subjected to invasion, wars, conflicts, destruction and evacuation.
2. More refuguees go back home safe.
3. Less terrorist operations be observed in the western world.
4. The freedom of expression does not get more limited where it still exists.
5. There will be less policing, unnecessarily harsher law enforcement, survailance and control.
6. Less number of species go extinct during the year to come.
7. Multinational corporates do not come closer to a monopoly over our lives and choices. In particular there will not be more frequent mergers and acquisitions more than 10B dollars value.
8. Rich-poor gap does not get wider worldwide.
9. America becomes a democracy again!
10. The other democracies of the western world do not move to that direction, away from fair distribution of decision making and cashing out the political power.
Looking at the trends, most likely none of these will come true, so I make one last wish hoping less celebrities die in 2017. This one stands a relative chance. Specially because many more people asked for it.
“Science is a random walk of accumulated literature.”
What do I mean by this compact claim is that the scientific code and its instrumentation evolve organically within an ecosystem of ideas and objects.
By scientific code I mean its language, terminologies and formulations, as well as their results and interpretations. And by its instrumentation I refer to the science-making technologies; tools and instruments.
The scientific code in its evolving journey is profoundly sensitive to its initial states as well as randomness along the way. Random elements of all kinds such as mistakes and accidents, cultural bias, geographic self-reinforcement among the scientists, charisma, manipulation by power and even the order of discoveries. All of these factors have potential to deviate scientific claims to drastically different directions.
We are limited beings trapped in a narrow set of interpretations that we call reality and therefore we are not using our imagination as much as we can to realize how things could have been otherwise. More interesting, useful, truthful alternatives do not get the chance to be seen or discussed in the dictatorship of the scientific enterprise. And scientists are behaving very politely with a fear of being abandoned, excluded or fallen in the blacklist of pseudo-sciences determined by the dominant story. And things doesn’t have to be this way.
Now speaking of the chaotic self-organized nature of the scientific random-walk, we would like to believe that there is an objective truth out there that functions as an external field and leads the scientific endeavor to get closer and closer to an “attractor” of the ultimate truth, neutralizing the effect of its random fluctuations.
This is not obvious.
How do we know that we are dealing with a controlled random walk, that there is an attractor? There may be many attractors. There may be none. There may be infinitely many with a different cardinality even. If we are destined to one thing is that we belive in destinty. And we think of science as having a destiny too. This may be an unwritten assumption but widely accepted that there’s a naturally truthful science. It may be randomly deviating people admit, but it is moving towards the attractor of the holy truth. In my experience the common claim is that not only that truth exists, we are also approaching it rather effectively. And so how can you even dare to argue over this when you are wittnessing the fantastic discoveries and the ground breaking achievements of science?
I am not unfamiliar with this world-view and can comprehend their logic, but have a completely different idea. I am saying that the myth of a naturally truthful science should be debated because it undermines the profound chaotic nature of the evolution of the scientific code and its instrumentatlity. It should be questioned because it ignores how fundamentally trapped we are in our cognitive tunnel and left alone with a very narrow and specific set of wide-spread stories that we have made about the reality.
And let’s say that the attractor of reality does exist in a sense, and that we humans are getting there because we have launched an honest journey with a solid plan. Even if so, I think without bringing up discussions like this post, such a goal is unattainable and navigating towards such a truth is impossible. We can not be sure we are on the right path, let alone the only path, if we suppress any effort to overcome our blindspots, simply because we don’t see them.
So this is what I summarize in the compact claim that science is not about the truth. Science is about the instrumental growth of the human ape, developed and expanded collectively and in a deep sense accidentally. Science is developped with the help of the limited capacities of our brain and its selfish interaction with the environment, ultimately for the sake of survival. We are fundamentally trapped in this thinking organ and besides that we do not try to keep in focus what our hard-wired biases are, as much as we should. We don’t even ask simpler questions such as how our cultural biases shape the way we think often enough. The answers can be sometimes really surprising if we dare to digg into this.
While it is still a meaningful topic to question for example how science would look like for some alien intelligent life form, I will not go that far here. I am claiming that even with the very same structure of the human brain, in a parallel version of our – let’s say – post-agricultural civilization, branched out as late as five thousand years ago and formed with a different throws of dice, the scientific code could have looked very very differently. And at this point only imagination can speculate on this important question about “how else” things could have looked like in an alternative human society. Let’s just specualte a bit. This is pure contemplation:
I think we may not have come up with Newtonian mechanics and then two theories of relativity later on, very unlikely. Instead we could have had things in between or completely different models that would still work. For example with a whole new set of definitions angular momentum did not necessarily have to imply rotation and who knows may be not a single scientist of that parallel world would have even heard of the analogy that some particles rotate around others similar to our planetary system. Imagine the possibility that Einstein’s idea of spacetime was thrown earlier than anything like Newtonian mechanics, simply on a different food diet or given another set of conflicts, power shifts and revolutions.
Imagine Which parts of Algebra would look different beyond its symbolic representation. And then to explain our cosmos how would we expect more complex formulations – such as string theory – to have formed similarly out of a completely different context? The whole axiomatization of our mathematics and how it would state its open problems could look different. It stil can. My personal hope is that it could look more fractal, and more transcendental in a sense. Or not. But we may have not had the Euclidean dominance on our early geometries, the following Cartesian coordinates and thus the use of complex numbers in some form of electronics or any technologies that would give us functionalities similar to smartphones or chip implants. Instead remarkably different tools and languages would serve a similar purpose.
The most solid pillars of our sciences shake if we think in these terms. Even the idea of evolution itself which is the support story behind this post could be told differently. Darwinism and Lamarckism wouldn’t be exposed as distinct theories with a form of epigenetics as their compromise. Other good functioning legends could be told with a different order of discoveries and their marketing.
Well, and on the other hand some core ideas and theories could have been told similarly. And it is not quite impossible to contemplate and guess which of them. It’s very difficult to place a bet for me here but I think we would still have numbers in a sense, and mathematical constants. We would somehow know the families of π and e. We would have had telecommunication and eventually at some point we would sequence our genes and hack ourselves to the next level.
What would remain intact and what would change? This is an important question for all sciences and we do have the tools and resources to make a move towards some answers these days. It’s not necessarily expensive in terms of research fund nor environmental footprint to get on to this. Imagine we live in a world when a comprehensive digitized copy of our scholarly literature is publicly available with all sorts of accessible algorithms. We can now supervise machines to evaluate a whole body of the scientific literature in a matter of days if not shorter. Machines can now reveal contradictions and fallacies in proofs and arguments, detect and neutralize the marketing bias in scientific work to extract the quality, detect and promote ignored nobel ideas and bring up the missed gems, deconstruct existing notions to come up with new ideas, and simulate the future of the whole science itself in multiparallel versions.
None of rhis is any longer farfetched. For those of you who love brands and abbreviations, I came across SSK and SSI, one in many posssible projects of meta-science in this regard. They stand for sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) and its complementory, sociology of scientific ignorance (SSI). The maturity of these projects were the dream of philosophers such as Fayerabend and Kuhn long before the age of Big Data. That idea didn’t take off and was suppressed by other dominant codes which could make more money and thus stood the selection pressures of the scientific enterprise better, to address its demends.
Fair! They were too vague and not regirous enough. And they were not affordable at the time. Our processing power is now millions of times bigger and the immediate availability of pretty much every important scientific idea that have been created is not a dream anymore. So we can get on to such a project again.
And those of you who love stories about AI take over, would agree that if we don’t do this, at some points machines will go ahead and do it for us; or for themselves. This one is not a new story anymore, since we have probably read a piece of fiction journalism on a similar idea lately. So, crazy ideas don’t seem that farfetched when they are repeated enough or endorsed by the public.
Science is an amazing achievement and the fact that its pioneers have constantly used it to transcend itself with new paradigms, ideas and breakthroughs is simply beautiful.
Science deserves to be better than an idiocracy. While, despite its core values of a truthful struggle, like other human achievements that have become old enough in a rigid framework, it seems attracted in to that direction now. People who rightfully claim that science is white or masculine are only scratching the surface.
If you love science, care about it. Try to see its fundamental limits and so transcend it. You may still call it science and I won’t argue over terms. I think it will still not be about finding the truth; however, it is a neater struggle to serve such a purpose.
P.S. I am not viewing this post as a truthful post, either. This is just a code. It’s a rather unconventional idea in the sphere of ideas out there. Your human brains recieve it; some relate to it and some object. The process of understanding something is a set of biochemical algorithms; Logic and reasoning have that shady characteristic in common with emotions and feelings. This is why there is so much disagreement out there in the world. It’s not that people are almost always wrong. It’s because folks are different and the evolution of their worldviews take totally different pathways and so different things make sense to them based on their previous experience and knowledge. From these many ideas out there some of them get lucky enough to survive, take over and dominate for a period but it is not necessarily an indicator of their truthful. Truth may be non-monotonic in a very deep sense. It is alarming when we realize that even if the external field of reality or the attractor of truth had not existed, we would still assume them. And what I have said here has been said before in different tones and terminologies. The scientific climate has not been so friendly to those ideas and they have not got enough exposure or resources. All instances of similar claims that I managed to find have faded out due to what I think as a form of early exposure. This post is not about the truth either. You can view it as a mutation that I would like to promote. This time around it may take off somewhere around here.