Monday, June 18, 2012

Reality Matters

     Oftentimes, women and men will hear something that feels like the truth. Too often they immediately believe what they hear and mistake it for truth simply because it appeals to them. Men and women are constantly mistaking appealing statements for true statements. People have numerous personal desires, not the least of which is the desire for meaning and understanding about the world around them. When people mistake desired truth for real truth, this is, (like fools gold) a fools truth.

     It is always painful to be disabused of fools truth, because a person needs it to be true, and especially devastating when the fools truth we believe is religion. This form of belief is found everywhere and dominates in fields like politics and faith where abstract thinking is required and concrete realities are lacking for direct analysis with our senses. There are many reasons for this. One is too much information, or information overload, because when a person is confronted with an excess of data that they have no way of processing, they generally resort to rational ignorance.

     There is also the problem of poverty of evidence — a person has limited information to make a decision; when the conscious mind cannot provide an answer, or the adaptive unconscious mind cannot provide a probability in the form of intuition, a person will fill in the details with the answer they desire to be true. Examples of this would be wishful thinking when a person is ignorant of the difficulty ahead, underestimation of how difficult something is, or belief in a political or religious ideology that appeals to the basic character of the individual, because they do not have enough information to make a rational decision. This idea is closely related to the concept of rational ignorance, but where rational ignorance describes a rational decision, poverty of evidence describes an irrational impulsive behavior where a person fills in a lack of information with their personality and desires. This idea should not to be confused with Chomsky's concept of poverty of the stimulus.

     Next, the Frame Problem. In cognitive science and artificial intelligence this is a problem with cognition that can be said to exist with people to a much lesser degree than with machines. In robotics the frame problem means that a machine can be programmed to pay attention to too much information. That is, in a world of near infinite data, the mind of a person or machine must be trained to focus on only that information that is relevant to solving problems and regulating tasks, since the mind cannot both contemplate all information it is given, and contemplate decisions at the same time given limited thinking capabilities or processing resources. This is of lesser relevance to human beings, but only to say that a person can get overly bogged down with irrelevant trivialities and fail to see the more important information that affects life. Simply put, one cannot both think about everything and make decisions at the same time. At some point thinking must give way to action.

     Rational Ignorance: a concept in economics which says that a person confronted with an overwhelm of information will choose ignorance over sorting through all the data. It has been found that the typical voter would need to study many millions of pages of documents per week to make intelligent and fully informed political decisions. Economists have found that people simply prefer to think less about the problems of the world and this is what they call it.

     Last, it is evolutionary built-in, convenient, and until man started living in cities, harmless to believe superstitions that are not true. The human mind is basically a pattern recognition engine: it is designed to spot that predator in the field against a backdrop, and to pick out patterns and define them. This is why coincidences are seen as miracles, why Jesus can appear on a piece of toasted bread, etc. It is evolutionary ingrained to believe these things. Until the modern age, man could not blow himself up with nuclear weapons and their was no real evolutionary pressure to grow up.  It can also be advantageous for a people to believe false things because it gives them meaning. A tribe that had a strong religious faith would not be as afraid of death as one with a less worldview-altering belief. Notice that the most violent peoples in the world are also the most religious — communism is no exception. A belief in an afterlife allows a group of people to endure hardship in this life, conquer their neighbors, raping and pillaging as they go. Religion can have a Darwinian component as a result, since evolution does not care how long you live as long as you reproduce. Believing in any superstition is evolutionary advantageous, especially in the past, with its extreme suffering. It motivated conquest in an era when the standard form of warfare was extermination of the peaceful and less superstitious (destroying their genes), and rape-conquest of other tribes (spreading your genes). Obviously this system was always immoral, but now with the development of atomic weapons, it is also endangering humanities future.

     As people have moved off the farm and out of the tribe, the world and its work are increasingly based on abstract concepts, with the human brain not suited to the job of interpreting it. People must begin basing their view on reality if social problems are to be addressed, since it is the cultural phenomenon of ignoring offensive realities and unpopular truths, that cause cultural, social, and economic problems. People need quick, condensed philosophy compiled by experts who have a comprehensive and moral view of the world. The philosophy needs to be devoid of bias pushing and since reality should matter to the expert, pushing a bias is equivalent to ignoring part of what is real rather than portraying all of it. It actually does not make sense to omit data unflattering to your position, and if you need to do this, your opinion is wrong or incomplete, and if so, you need to adjust that position. Do not be an idiot, conform your mind to the facts, not the facts to your mind.

     When false myths become socially accepted they do harm, individually they may be seen as harmless, but when socially accepted by a large group of people the become very destructive.

     Social problems are conspiracies of mutual antagonistic ignorant reaction. It is a conspiracy of fools reacting against each other without realizing it. The rule is this; that all social problems are caused by two or more agents unwittingly reacting against each other because of human nature or financial motive to perpetuate the problem, (and usually without realizing it). Social problems are basically social tragedies of the commons, and are far more numerous than economic tragedies of the commons. This is another way of saying that they are vicious cycles. A conspiracy of fools, a tragedy of the commons, vicious cycle, and cycle of antagonism are all ways of describing their structure. They all involve people reacting against each other in a never ending cycle. They are a conspiracy whose members do not know they are part of it. They function like a conspiracy, but have no central command function.

     The problem with the truth and the reason that it matters, is found in the fact that truth is needed to solve any problem, avoid any suffering, or deal with any obstacle. Truth is physical reality. Before a person can overcome the potential for suffering in reality, before they can prevent suffering of a very real nature in the real, they must internalize it in the mind. This is because confronting necessary but offensive truth is emotionally painful, but if one can do it, one can overcome and prevent the real physical suffering of pain that would come later as a result of ignoring reality. To know the difficulty is to avoid the difficulty. For example; the eighteen seconds that it would take you to put on a condom can save you eighteen years of child support. Be responsible now; avoid responsibility later.

     The truth which is worth saying is offensive by nature. Not all statements that are offensive are true, in fact a great many offensive statements are not true, but almost all true statements worth saying are offensive. This is because of the nature of human communication. It goes as follows; things that are true and not offensive are already said out loud and therefore generally widely known, things that are false and not offensive are also frequently said as a method of covering up motives and true intentions. This is the source of social lies that are widespread in a culture and corrupt its family and social life. Things that are offensive and false are said as insults. But things that are offensive and true are never said, since the speaker would be punished for stating something that helps others, and why would he help you if you are going to punish him for it? There is no incentive to say offensive truths. But if one has the motive, there is plenty of incentive in saying offensive lies, inoffensive lies, or inoffensive truths.

     As a result, a person is actually less likely to say something offensive and true than to say something offensive and false.

     To repeat: men and women refrain from saying offensive truths because they carry a liability to the speaker — the liability of being despised. Since people are selfish they refuse to say such things and selfishly overlook the benefit to the group; and it is lies that harm society. As a result, the most common statements are those which are non-offensive and true, non-offensive and false (doing great social harm), and offensive and false (serving the purpose of insults and cruelty).

     To be blunt; our feelings and desires are the method by which we pathologically avoid the harsh realities of life. This avoidance of reality causes yourself and society hardship by blocking your ability to think rationally and therefore solve problems. This avoidance of all things offensive harms your survival. Reality is indifferent to your feelings. More that that — reality is indifferent to being indifferent, because it is not alive and is not capable of knowing it should care.

     Now there are three types of knowledge, and these categories matter because confusing them clouds a persons thought process. They are; facts, natural laws, and what I call apparent natural laws. All facts are temporary in nature, but some are more so than others. The kind of car I have is a very temporary fact, the fact that the sky is blue is true and will probably be true for many millions of years into the future. This matters, because when you hear someone say that a statistic from nineteen sixty proves such and such or an assertion that a way of living is relevant to today because it was relevant a thousand years ago you have to ask, is it really? While a value system may still be relevant, can any fact still be after all those years? You need to evaluate for yourself. Many facts age and become obsolete. One of the first things you should ask yourself about information is; does it matter today? Is it still relevant?  Facts have a shelf life depending on the information. So the first type of knowledge are facts.

     The second type is natural law. This is the best type of information, and never let it be said that a natural law is a fact. Natural laws are essentially eternal truths.

     The third type of information is apparent natural law. There are rare situations where something appears to follow a pattern but the pattern is misinterpreted, such as the four causes belief of the ancients.  In other cases a series of events may be interpreted as a natural law or phenomenon but are really not, (such as the equity premium puzzle in economics). These two types of situations are examples of apparent natural law. Apparent natural laws are false.

     Lastly, truth is really just the accurate reporting of physical reality, and it is unreasonable to expect anyone to accept any other way of thinking. Even if God or other higher truths exist, they are not of this world or of this dimension in space-time. It is tyrannical to expect anyone to believe something he or she cannot detect with their senses or measure indirectly with equipment. Only physical knowledge can be a basis for social engagement. Any other expectation depends on force and on the violation of peoples rights. Truth is simply the human understanding of physical reality, and any sufficiently accurate and complete reporting of the truth is indistinguishable from an account of the real world and it operations and principles in the eyes of any non-superstitious person. Truth is proof, and no person can be expected to believe otherwise.

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