Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Mind


What evidence or argument would convince you that consciousness is epistemically or ontologically subjective?

We can be sure that consciousness is ontologically subjective because it is epistemically subjective, or vice-versa. Or, can I indeed safely say that any theory of objective cause and effect can have consciousness elided from its elements without loss of predictive power?

  1. Objectivity and subjectivity
  2. Existence of subjectivity
  3. Objectivity of physics
  4. Immediate conclusions
  5. The consciousness device
  6. Speculation


Imagine a beautiful mountain.

The fact under consideration is that you find the mountain beautiful. This is not a property of the mountain, it is a property of your perception of the mountain - though we might wish that is it a function of the properties of the mountain. We commonly call this perception subjective. Is it truly subjective? Is that actually different from being objective?

Yes. Moreover, ontology impinges on epistemology and vice-versa. 

The perception has the property of total certainty. You cannot be mistaken about finding the mountain beautiful, as that would mean you saw something you find beautiful, and found it ugly, a straight-up contradiction. This is ontological subjectivity. The facts of the matter are determined by how they are perceived - the ontology is determined by epistemology. If you change your mind about the mountain being beautiful, it makes the mountain not-beautiful. If you forget the mountain, it becomes neither beautiful nor ugly, as no one is perceiving it.

This is fundamentally the opposite of ontological and epistemic objectivity. Objective epistemology is determined by ontology. When the observer of an objective fact makes a mistake, they're simply wrong.

When the observer stops observing an objective fact, the fact remains true, as can be verified by later observers noting its history of ongoing effects on the world. 

Objective facts are observable by multiple observers. It is impossible for two subjects to perceive a single subjective fact, as to be unmistakeable both subjects would have to have full control over the fact, which means one mind changing automatically changes the other - there is no distinction of mind, at least on this point. Telepathy is impossible, though I can't rule out hive-mind with this alone.

What would it mean to objectively observe an ontologically subjective fact? It would mean combining the property of being mistakable with that of being determined by observer, another direct contradiction.

What would it mean to subjectively observe an objective fact? This would be clairvoyance, the combination of unmistakableness and observable by others. How would the fact know to be unmistakable to you but not everyone else? By definition, objective facts are observer-independent - it would have to be unmistakable to everyone, another direct contradiction.

(These combined have the curious consequence that your subjective facts are, relative to me, objective facts.)


Can subjectivity not exist? Perhaps I'm mistaken about that. Let's assume I am.

Can I be mistaken about my mistake? Can I think that I think subjectivity exists, but be wrong? If I'm not actually thinking subjectivity exists, then nothing is thinking it. Which would mean I'm not writing this article, which means nobody is, which means it isn't being written, which means you're not reading this.

Even if I assume away all supposed subjective entities, some must immediately re-appear. 


The entire field of physics is objective.

A supposed physical object which others cannot observe is said to not exist.
First, no experiment on such an object would be replicable, and so it would be entirely non-predictive, and no devices could depend upon it. Going the other direction, no theory would fail an experimental test for not taking it into account.

A supposed objective entity which cannot be observed by someone, even in principle, cannot be observed by anyone. 


Subjectivity exists.
Subjectivity does not physically exist.

Therefore, physicalism, secularism, and/or materialism are false.

Naturalism is more or less okay, as they've reduced the meaning of 'natural' to simply 'existent.' Any naturalist who is fine with expanding the set of concrete natural things can remain a naturalist.

Whether dualism is true depends on how you feel like defining 'substance.' I've found that using the idea of substance misleads me, at this level.


For consciousness to meaningfully coexist with physics, they must somehow interact. If I have my logic right, this is also certain. The only alternative is epiphenomenalism, which means physics affects consciousness but not vice-versa, which means physics would be breaking Newton's third.

Therefore, there must be some entity which is both subjective and objective. Objectively, it will look like an open causal network. There will be some object which cannot determine its own state, but does so anyway. If we had a systematic description of consciousness, we could find a complementary loophole to this loophole in physics. Concretely we should be able to construct a consciousness device, and locate functional equivalents in human brains.

The device will have absolute, not relative, data signals. The device converts physical events into conscious events, and without 1 to 1 correspondance, it would violate causality. The signal that indicates a mountain must be identical, in some sense, across all such devices, or the consciousness would not know, or have any way to learn, what the signals were supposed to mean.

Having identified the devices, it will be possible to decode the signals by watching one function, and then feeding a signal into your own brain and seeing what it is. It will then be possible to objectively determine not only that a life-form is conscious, but what they are conscious of.


One application of the theory: colours are the same for everyone. If you think you're seeing green, you can't be mistaken. Imagine two people seeing a green ball. They are both seeing green, they are both not mistaken. To say they're perceiving different things is to say they're exactly identical in every respect except the fundamental existence in question.
This should be separated from calling a thing green - it is easy to get disagreement on whether a ball should be called green or blue, but that's a connection between two facts, not a direct perception. Similarly, eyes vary somewhat, which means similar photons get decoded into slightly different experiences.

Most likely, only information can cross the objective/subjective barrier, as otherwise we have an energy conservation problem. 

If folk wisdom has indeed been mainly vindicated, it means consciousness is qualitative, in opposition to physics, which is quantitative.

The self is simply the set of all subjective entities. Other is straightforwardly all objective entities.

Subjectivity must run on different rules than physics, which means the set of cheap computations are different, which has direct adaptive benefits. There's no grandmother neurons - no single point which can distinguish between grandmother and grandfather, which means the brain as a whole can only distinguish these implicitly, which means it can't properly understand either. It isn't necessary, because the mind can distinguish them easily and then tell the brain. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Salt vs. Consciousness

You've heard that variation within populations is larger than variation between populations. One consequence is that the right amount of salt for you in particular is say 80% likely to be far from the average. If your sodium regulation system cannot tell the voluntary muscle system how much salt to eat, then you cannot eat the right amount of salt, because nobody else knows how much it is. This also goes for how your internal signals manifest.

It seemed odd to me that some signals are labelled and some aren't until I went to write this sentence. For all the signals to be labelled, the genes would have to recognize everything in the environment, and would be helpless against chemical novelties. 

 Blarg. (Via.)
"I experienced no cravings even when my sodium intake was too low. I can’t just “listen to my body”."
As per standard evo/paleo principles, what would a hunter on the savanna have to guide them toward eating the right things? Moreover, absent puritanical, secular anti-consciousness, or authoritarian self-abnegation campaigns, they would have been listening to and thus learning about their internal signals since infancy.

It turns out that if you don't do something your entire life, and then suddenly try it once, you do it wrong. You might do this because you feel the need to disprove others, who are also doing it wrong but the other way around. (Hence scare quotes.) However, it is not then safe to conclude it is impossible.

I probably mis-estimate how difficult this question is, because I already know the answer. I don't get salt cravings until months into salt restriction, whereupon I start thinking fondly of Pringles, which I learned not on purpose and self-consciously, but by accident. For me, the salt signal is the taste of salt. If I'm low it is delicious, even straight. This reverses within about half a teaspoon, becoming bitter and terrible. You might think this is a palate interaction, but the amount I can have before it's gross doesn't reset the next day, or even that week.

I'm also like this with water. My thirst seems a little miscalibrated, I don't feel anything for low to moderate thirst until I pick up a glass and start drinking.
"Likewise, while the salt loading phase was difficult for the first two or three days, my taste rapidly adjusted to the added salt."
First he ate less salt than tasted good, then more. What would have happened if he had tried just right? It is hard for me to see this as accidental. How does it fail to occur to someone that the primary conscious impression of a thing is relevant to how you should behave toward it?

One of the things I learned through years of practicing it is that the signals are complex and sometimes the subtle notes are more important. The ache of a bruise is different from the ache of a used muscle is it not? Calling both 'pain' is hopelessly crude. Likewise, saying cookies taste 'good' to me is hopelessly crude. They have a characteristic burning sensation, and they sit poorly. There is 'good,' but it is shallow and reminds me of plastic for some reason. The burning sensation means I don't have to ask if restaurant meals have added sugar, because it shows up there too.

By contrast, for me, the right amount of salt is a symphony of good. I've also experienced adaptation to too much salt, but it acquires bad notes. Once I can stop I prefer no salt for some weeks. The thing to watch for here is psychosomatic influences, but psychosomatics have trouble surprising the mind in question.

"I would not necessarily call these “discoveries” but they are important observations that should be reported."
I can guarantee that he did not report the majority of his observations. If I were to go by his account, he either has almost no consciousness, or it did not react to these events. It did not apparently feel like much to eat different amounts of salt.

That said, this account corroborates my own experiences.

For comparison, I also get vegetable cravings, but only, again, after months of no vegetables at all. Ever looked at a raw broccoli and starting thinking impure thoughts?

I'm told unused neural connections are pruned in early adulthood. I wonder what happens to biofeedback circuits if they're being ignored.
"1. Salt restriction caused impaired thermoregulation."
Sea salt has iodine, and modern mined salt is iodized. Thermoregulation is partly the thyroid's job, and thyroid impairment is a symptom of iodine deficiency. I should stop forgetting to test this with some seaweed. I think I'll go fix this right now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Juxtaposition VII: Narcissism, But Also Tribes and Epistemology

I get uncomfortable when a labelled tribe and I agree about everything, because then I can't tell the difference between reaching conclusions because they're true and reaching conclusions so as to acquire social rewards. Though come to think, shared premises are more important, and if I'm reaching conforming conclusions, I've probably flinched away from questioning the premises enough.

It looks like self-labelled anarchists do not recognize me as anarchist, and moreover for reasons I see as consistent with other anarchists. Excellent.

I took anarchist theory and then kept going. I often do this first, as a way of checking for contradictions. Here I was able to fix the contradictions, but it turned out that a true anarchy, in the Greek sense, could easily look like the status quo, because contracts aren't inflexible. I just have serious doubts that anyone would sign the necessary contracts - I certainly wouldn't.

And because I'm addicted to snarking, I'll add that if anyone seriously believed the 'consent of the governed' nonsense, shouldn't they conclude that getting those contracts signed would be easy? Shouldn't they think that my system would exactly reduce to their system?

Ideologies and reality differ in characteristic ways, but sadly I don't know how to describe them, I just recognize the intuitive readouts that correspond to the difference. Though if you want you can watch me grope towards a rational understanding. I could try to supply examples, but I think the mind-feel is definitive: reality does not feel human and familiar, or even human and creepy; it does neither what you want nor what you fear; it feels alien.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Civic Theory vs. a Startup Idea

How can you tell that politics isn't what it you've been told it is, without leaving the armchair?
"Mancur Olson, in his book The Logic Of Collective Action, highlighted the central problem of politics in a democracy. The benefits of political market-rigging can be concentrated to benefit particular special interest groups, while the costs (in higher taxes, slower economic growth, and many other second-order effects) are diffused through the entire population."
This, unfortunately, cannot possibly the whole story or even a large part of it.

Here's my startup idea: political insurance. It would charge some incredulously low amount, like $4 a year, and promise to stick it to special interest groups. The basic product would end up being political stability. It would profit on a percentage of the difference between the costs of special interests and the bribes the special interests are willing to pay. These are guaranteed to be very different, thermo #2 itself says that the interests cannot efficiently extract their benefits. It defeats the rational ignorance problem, as the costs of research can be centralized, the results cheaply distributed, and is robust against cheating due to spot checks by individual customers. It is entirely legal, it is simply the anti-special-interest special interest.

This idea is ludicrous. It makes betting on snowballs in hell look like a rewarding hobby. I know it, you know it, it can't possibly work.

Okay, but why not? We know it instinctively, not rationally.

Here's a non-reason: there's a user bootstrapping issue. To charge the really low numbers, it would need a really large number of subscribers. This, however, is just a marketing problem. Marketing problems get solved all the time. Worst case scenario, the idea needs a few goes in different guises before it lucks out and takes off.

Imagine that instead of this sentence, I bored you with several other apparent obstacles that just aren't all that.

So, would special interests not manage to get countered by a firm dedicated solely to efficiently converting their deadweight costs into profits? If so, how?

Or, are special interests just yet another scapegoat? If so, for whom?

Perhaps the whole political system would rise up in an orgy of corruption and make it illegal? How do you convince politicians to outlaw the business model of bribing them more?

I think I've exceeded a lifetime quota; patience with intellectuals who don't take the consequences of their own theories seriously. (E.g, so you won't admit you think it is ludicrous? So...when's your appointment with the venture capitalist? This is easily a multi-billion dollar market.)

If only this were the only part of civic theory with that flaw...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Perception and the Parrot

I found a thing about being about a parrot. I have finally figured out what it is. It's what non-narcissism looks like.

"She did not look like she was gathering up courage to pet it or imagining it in the role of a chase-able dog or cat. She was just looking at it."
The author of the piece appears as a character, but it is not about the author. The other people and the other objects and creatures not defined by their relationship to the author, or indeed by their relationship to anyone else. They're allowed to exist in themselves, as themselves.

"The little girl presented a clearer display of authentic engagement of the parrot than all the adults."
What's authentic is the reaction to the parrot. Everyone else reacts to what the parrot symbolizes. "Parrot flits too quickly [past] the face to be noticed, and is replaced by more normal cognitions." In the case of Ithaca, the symbolism is about what the parrot means about their relationship with other things and other people.

"Their carefully layered oversized sports clothes and reversed baseball hats demanded attention. I suppose spectacles, be they man-parrots or a group of swaggering young black men, do not supply attention, but demand it."
They don't wear clothes as clothes. They wear clothes only because of how others' relationship to them is mediated through the clothes. They're not wearing clothes, they're trying to wear an idea or a relationship or a role. The problem is that ultimately, they're wearing clothes. The problem is that ultimately, a relationship involves someone else. They're trying to demand a particular relationship, which means they'd have to demand a particular person. Are you like that person? I'm not.

"But you cannot really compete with a parrot. The parrot is entirely unaware that it is competing."
The competition is in the minds of the observers, it is not a real thing out there. You can't compete with the parrot because the parrot is not in a competition. To put it in competition, the minds have to create the competition through physical action.

"To my list of profundities, I will add the following: a free mind is one which the parrot can occupy easily, and stay in as long as it chooses."
Narcissism, like the obsession with symbols and meaning, shackles the mind. I'll add that obsession with 'should' excludes appreciation of 'is.'

"Now, the little black children engaged the parrot as completely as the little white girl. So if the little kids are born free and demonstrably remain free until at least age six, as demonstrated by the parrot"
I don't think any of my age peers in school survived the trip from adulthood. Though, instead of them being removed from the world, they removed the world from themselves. Rather, had it forcibly removed. Since I went to the same school, and have to spend a lot of my time resisting the habit.

I could go on, but in any case I really like The Parrot.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

True Elites are Not Upper Class; Instead Top-Out-of-Sight

Nydwracu mentioned that a high school, with great accolades, is dysfunctional. My reply:

"Which school? I want to compare it to my theory that actual elite schools don't show up on these kinds of lists."

More generally, real elites are smart enough not to show up in the news, or answer surveys, or much of anything similar. If you're lucky, they show up in tax receipts.

Eleanor Roosevelt High School is famous, lauded, and not even close to deserving it. I used John Taylor Gatto as a reference for schools to compare.

Philips Andover, Episcopal, and St. Albans.

They have 'notable alumni' sections. Eleanor graduates athletes, entertainers, and Sergey Brin, who is clearly an outlier. So do the others, but Gatto's information is accurate - they also have congressmen, law professors, CEOs, activists, chief editors for the Atlantic, and several other influential professions.

St. Albans is famous.
"A 2004 article in the Wall Street Journal found that among U.S. schools, St. Albans had the 11th-highest success rate in placing graduates at 10 selective universities. [...] The school opened its new Upper School building - Marriott Hall - in 2009–2010. The firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLP, designed the new building, which has been the subject of articles in numerous publications,"
However, only Eleanor's article reports any awards at all.
"Roosevelt has received numerous prestigious academic awards throughout its thirty-four year history. The school is a rare two-time awarded National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for 1991 and 1998; a 1991 and 1998 Maryland Blue Ribbon School; a 1999 New American High School; a recipient of the 2002–2003 national Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement; and was named a 2002 National School of Character by the Character Education Partnership. Eleanor Roosevelt is regarded as one of the most academically challenging high schools in the nation, and for years has consistently ranked as the highest performing school in Prince George's County, averaging the highest combined SAT score in the county of 1570 out of 2400. Roosevelt also has more students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses---with more students receiving a passing score of three or higher---than any other high school in the county. Roosevelt was recently named #382 on America's Top 1,500 Public High Schools list for 2009, by Newsweek Magazine and was also recognized as a Silver Medal School by U.S. News & World Report, in 2008."

This been-in-the-news standard predicts that St. Albans is the least elite of the three examples. Phillips, which hides its 'notable alumni' section behind a link, is the most elite. To check - indeed, it graduated an actual President, both Bushes. Its history section specifically mentions it is geared toward Yale and Harvard. Episcopal should be in the middle, and indeed it had a bit appear in Time Magazine - over seventy years ago. Andover is mentioned in a recent article, but only in passing, there is no detailed account.

I'm surprised they have wiki pages beyond a stub.

One of the consequences is that if you've heard of someone, they're probably not that influential. Conversely, you did your own research, but if you can find someone to discuss them with, they're not that influential. Being blamed by a journalist and being responsible for the screw-up are mutually exclusive, generally. Net result is that everyone, even the upper classes, are obsessed with nobodies.

For example, Sergey Brin seems decently influential. It's easy to go one better - who were Google's venture capitalists? Who picked Brin as a winner? And who invested with that capital firm? Do the names Michael Moritz or John Doerr mean anything to you? More importantly, do you know whose money Moritz and Doerr represent, and thus who has effective hire-and-fire over them?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Democratic Experiments

I thought it was unlikely that anyone would forgo having a president, but then Belgium did it. Again, thanks Belgians.

The next check on the disconnection of voting mechanism and ruling mechanisms is to suspend voting entirely in one of the G20. I predict no noticeable difference in governance, and only token resistance from the population - little in tax protests, for example.

If governance does anything more than skip a beat, or the former voters do something beyond nuisance, I will have something to explain.

Utopianism? Hypothesis: Broken Discourse

That voters are ignorant comes as no surprise to anyone who isn't themselves ignorant.

Hypothesis: most discourse is broken, not just layhuman discourse. I expect any working discourses to work by accident, not by design.

Test: let's have a discussion about utopianism and revolution. My general impression is that anti-utopianism is opposition to legitimately broken political philosophy by way of strawmen. It supposes that utopian philosophers suggest a flawless, suffering-less society is possible, and in the process tend to be not anti-Progressive, but anti-progress. (Agree that proggies are probably utopian...we'll see, as below.)

Can I get a summary of how I might recognize a utopian system, and why I can be sure that these features predict that the political philosophy is self-defeating?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Juxtaposition VI: How Broken is the Public Discourse?

Health insurance is not insurance. Most of the stuff you can buy is like food insurance.

What are the odds that someone could convince voters to stop calling it insurance? That, unless you choose a policy according to a plan of never making a claim against it, you only manage to pay extra for routine stuff?

On the other side of the fence,
"Interesting that yet again, the wise [via] of the world are foolish, while this guy, surely representing the dregs of humanity, sees through the charade."
Dailymail should probably have never allowed comments.
"I know I shouldn't I HOWLED instead.......poor police, imagine calling that in on the radio ( assuming it still worked) "unable to pursue suspect......all cars crushed" ....a bit like their pride I should imagine :-)" (Rated +710, Via.)

"You see this more and more. This is what progressive government will bring in America. You can't take away people's life long liberties one at a time, and tax them more and more, and expect that they are going to tolerate it. America needs to turn away from this path or it will be a civil war again." (+210.)

If it were a random pattern of insight and foolishness, I wouldn't worry about it. I suspect even the insight is dominated by foolishness. Would that third quoted guy actually pick up a weapon without social pressure? Or: why isn't there already racial civil war in South Africa? Does #2 think voting will fix things, and can anything convince them otherwise?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Juxtaposition V: Reality vs. Presentation.

One hundred tons. (Via.)

Fifteen hundred tons

Winner: one hundred tons.

To me, the distinction between reality and presentation is unmistakable. The presentation edits out more information than they leave in. The main character is the narrator. The second character is the Navy, the third, Communism. Indeed it seems like the physical events they're supposedly describing are only included grudgingly, as an excuse, because they're not allowed to go full-blown narcissist.

Net result: presentations are boring, as they're all almost identical. Aside from the comparison, there's no need to watch that second video, a couple sentences of description covers everything that isn't copypasta. (See also: nearly everything on the BBC. They even have one decrying the style while still using following it exactly.)

The narrator spends a lot of time telling you how you should feel about the events. I mean, you do have your own opinion, right? Your reaction to the first movie is not, "Okay, but what does this mean?" is it?

Yet, the market consistently rewards presentation over reality. I wouldn't begrudge them that if they didn't begrudge me my reality. Are layhumans really that fascinated by stories they already know? To the point where networks deliberately edit out anything unfamiliar?

In the direct representation of reality, three quarters of the video is dedicated solely to the event. It is allowed to be itself. At least, it is allowed to speak whatever it wants to the available measurement instruments.

For me, this is well symbolized by the movie-ricochet noises. Whenever I see a detail like that, I begin to think it might not have been massaged to within an inch of its life. Which detail, amusingly, I've never heard in a movie after an explosion. Real things don't conform to the rules of drama, do not support clean political narratives, and have unexpected details. Every real event is a little surprising, every new object just a little different. It asymptotes toward zero with familiarity, but even my cream cartons are never exactly as I expect them to be.

In retrospect, I never believe in movie explosions. Before now I didn't have enough reference material to notice that's what I was feeling, but now I recognize the pattern. Movie; "There was an explosion!" Me: "No there wasn't, you're lying." Why? Because they're exactly what I'm expecting.

I wonder if 'inhuman' would be a good summary.
All real events - even real artifacts and e.g. bureaucracies - are a little alien. A little unintuitive perhaps? They don't neatly slot into instinctive concepts or causal relations. Perhaps best illustrated by the exceptions, things like one-on-one sociology. The instinctive categories work perfectly for figuring out how another human will categorize, and therefore understand, an event. Similarly, the explosion is exactly what I was expecting, which means it is exactly how I would portray an explosion - if I weren't aware of this alienness principle.

Another exception: rocks, trees, and water. (I find this especially disappointing because they could be interesting, but almost never are.) Or perhaps not; when mining or growing trees, you'll find them doing many unexpected things.

I think the key thing is the category thing. New events never fit neatly into old categories, even in combination. Real events are mind-expanding. Events I have no built familiarity with should not seem familiar. I don't usually encounter explosions, that goes double for military instead of controlled, and therefore I shouldn't find depictions of them familiar.

This is one of the reasons I think I have a solid grasp of logic. It is, by now, rare that I see an argument that doesn't fit neatly into my existing experience.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Kitchen Test of Science

My default reaction to scientific papers is, "Sure, pull the other one." It's because things like this keep happening. (Via.)
"[The authors] find that consumers are overconfident in their ability to learn to use skill-based products before trying them out. As soon as they gain experience with the product, however, they flip to the opposite extreme and become under-confident in their ability to use the new product with the consequence that they often quit using it."
For me? The opposite.

Just spent a day and a bit learning NetLogo. Before I started, I thought it would be longer. Now I've spent several hours asking questions of a simple evolutionary model, and haven't yet run into anything I wanted to tell it to do but didn't know how to do. (Syntax not included, as it takes seconds to look up.) My opinion of the effort required has gone down monotonically.

Two possibilities. One, their study is just broken. Two, it doesn't apply to me. Perhaps I'm not a consumer. I can at least be sure that the opposite of their conclusions are true in my kitchen.

Their epistemology is broken. Since they use the same epistemology to measure the effect of e.g. salt, I can be sure they're fooling themselves there, too. Maybe salt is bad for the general populace. Or not. I can't re-run the experiment in general, only on myself, so I can't check how good are studies in general. But their study is simply not evidence one way or the other about whether it's bad for me.

I like them as sources of things to check. How much does the average study cost in grants and wages? Does anyone know? In any case, it is an impressively inefficient hypothesis-generation engine.

As for anyone who doesn't have the necessary time or discipline to check? Worthless at best.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Immigration Data Audit

I thought more about immigrants and I worked out that the studies showing immigrants make the country richer cannot possibly be correct.

Tribal affiliation warning: I still maintain immigration is none of your business until an immigrant imposes externalities on your property, and then you should have the right to sue. It is the immigrant's sponsor's responsibility to make sure they impose no externalities, or to pay in advance for indulgences.

This is instead a screed against the economist and academic tribes, because their tribal norms enrich them at everyone else's expense. In this case, some random asshole from the internet notices a hole larger than any factor the supposed experts actually accounted for.

In an efficient market immigrants would be good, because labour isn't like other goods. Each immigrant would work hard enough to make their own stuff and then some - society would gain from the excess. However, we know that most immigrants are not high-value workers; they have a small surplus at the best of times.

The government taxes. The government provides benefits. Is there any chance that the government doesn't cost society more per immigrant than the immigrant provides in surplus?

Of course, each immigrant provides votes, and even illegals provide sales tax. In other words, the government - those who by definition have the power to determine immigration - gains money and power cost-free for every immigrant.

Don't forget that sovereign accounting is weird. They essentially don't have to pay for benefits, because it is funded by inflation. However, more taxes means that the individuals involved in government have more to influence and more to skim from.

To check my conclusion, the first search hit seemed sufficient.
"On average, immigrants appear to have a minor positive net fi…scal effect for host countries. Of course, these benefits are not uniformly distributed across the native population and sectors of the economy."
My reading: immigrants cost society benefits, but it's okay because they pay slightly more in taxes.

So, the government taxes or inflates, then provides services with these dollars. Taxes have deadweight costs, and public provision costs 10-100 times as much as a comparable private provision, especially accounted in terms of stuff.

Then, it turns around and taxes immigrants. With more deadweight costs. On the margin, it uses these taxes to hinder pre-existing wealth-creation activities.

These effects are not accounted for in the official studies.

But, I'll in turn check my reading...
"Borjas and Trejo (1991) calculated that the average immigrant family costs $13.5k for the welfare system over the course of their US stay, compared to the $7.9k cost of a native family.

Baker and Benjamin (1995) found the Canadian experience to be somewhat different. Immigrants, apart from refugees, consumed less unemployment benefits, social security, and housing support than natives."
Did you notice the reverse broken window fallacy? They included things easy to calculate, but assumed nothing was spent on the more difficult factors. Even setting aside the natural wealth-destroying properties of government action, they haven't included the cost of public education, wear on public roads, (both the immigrants and the trucks supplying their stuff) subsidized water mains, government provision of electricity...

Haha, oops. They found the conclusion they wanted, then stopped. If they hadn't found it, they would have kept looking, or, Robert Putnam style, not published.

In turn, if there's anything I've missed, kindly let me know. However, the case seems to me overwhelming even in estimate.

Also, real economies aren't very efficient. They're especially slow at redistributing labour. (This is mainly the government's fault too.)
"On the other hand, some more recent studies have found larger effects, and many studies note that the negative effects are concentrated on certain parts of the native population. The parts of the population most typically affected are the less-educated natives"
Fancy that.

"Immigration levels and ‡flows for some Northern European countries have a relative strength on par with traditional destination countries like the US. These …significant economic magnitudes, combined with Europe's ageing population, make immigration a …first-order policy question and research concern. Empirical lessons are drawn from several literature strands."
The effects can be safely assumed to be big.

I don't think academics are stupid. I think they are indeed experts, but not at academics. They're experts at fellating their patron, the state. Even if every fact they propound is true - and I rarely have reason to doubt that - they are liars, because the expertise their authority is supposed to be derived from is a lie. These supposed economists are neither trained nor equipped to understand economics, which is why some random asshole can be better at it than they are.

Their lies are truly exquisite, though. As a representative,
"They also found that immigrants assimilated towards higher benefit incidence with duration of stay, a result that Crossley et al. (2001) later disputed."
Academic dispute, between pro-immigration and anti-immigration! Without any conscious planning by anyone. Except, you can be sure it will come down on the pro side, because this is the only sentence where the disputant is mentioned immediately - the Kerrs is so uncomfortable with stating the con case that it cannot go unanswered. Note also the framing of the pro side as the single instances proves much of anything. But.

Just as the Republicants exist only to give Demobrat voters something to fear, the dispute exists to be refuted.

I would like to see a social graph of the authors cited in this survey, because it beggars my imagination to assume they gained entry solely on merit. (Long, try page 6, number 47. Step 93 on page 10 is also key. Via.) Starting with whether the authors are married. Similarly, it would likely be informative to discover how the con-side dissenters' views changed over time, and whether that was correlated with career.

We will see none of this highly relevant information in any article, academic or jounalistic.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trust of Authority Corrupts Authority

I figured out why I don't like authority, and for once it's rational instead of psychological.

I should make a distinction between authority as coordinator of obedience and moral authority.

Those who trust and value authority per se fight against the questioning of the authority. Their authorities have no incentive to remain authoritative, and sooner or later will lose whatever virtue they first used to claim authority. In particular, trusting moral authority destroys the moral part, leaving only the shell of obedience.

Valuing authority inherently destroys authority.

Whenever someone says authority has moral value, I only hear the distant stomping of jackboots. The truth is the opposite - moral value has authority. The speaker of truth borrows the authority of truth, the words do not gain authority from their speaker.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Think Space is Cool? Scrap NASA

Even not taking into account the disproportionately wealth-destroying effects of tax-style funding, even not taking into account regulation friction, even not taking into account the broken window fallacy and assuming the best probable rocket was the existing Titan rocket...

NASA destroyed nine space missions for every shuttle mission they flew. They could have literally saved money by buying ten Titan rockets and simply exploding nine of them on the launchpad, and then launching the tenth instead of the shuttle. (No development costs, for example.) Saved even more money by simply setting it on fire. (No transport costs.)

Not to mention all the other things I can put after 'even not taking into account.'

Just in case you thought NASA was ever about space, not political egos and horse-trading.

In every case I've examined, it is a strict improvement to set money on fire instead of giving it to a government program. Space exploration missions probably cost less than 1% of what NASA has to spend, because no doubt a similar analysis could be carried out on the Titan rocket itself, if only we could pierce the broken-window veil.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Free Will vs. God of the Gaps

My initial experiment was watching defences of determinism submitted to New Scientist's letters section, which I noticed had to keep retreating.

My ultimate conclusion is that in practical terms, these supposed opposites are indistinguishable. The question has been pushed out of physics entirely. Things like the Newcomb's Box situation, which depend on one or the other, are not only prohibitively expensive, but actually forbidden. In turn it means that things like responsibility and punishment should function indistinguishably under the two possibilities; which I have previously worked out to be true. More generally, you can believe you're deterministic or not at your pleasure.

However, it is the determinist who must alter their beliefs about the world, because the libertarian was correct about the universe being unpredictable. Even though the libertarian case is pending a good definition, the determinist-physicalist position has been pushed off the table entirely.
"Although compatibilism, the view that determinism and free will are not logically incompatible, is the most popular position on free will amongst professional philosophers"
Epistemology is not democracy. There's no reason for libertarians to look for a way to make their views compatible with something that has been proven wrong, especially when the views, properly understood, have no known actionable conclusions that their beliefs could misguide them into.

At the bottom, I investigate the epistemic implications.

At first, supposedly if we knew everything about neurons, human behaviour was supposed to be precisely predictable. This turned out not to be sufficient, so it became cells, which became particles. Particles has since fallen, (via) which incidentally has implications for many-worlds interpretations.

Indeed there appear to be multiple ways to reach this conclusion.
"The point is: predicting the system's behavior requires us to compute the future state more quickly than nature does. For that, we need to build a computer that outpaces nature. If we would attempt building a computer capable of doing so, we would soon discover that this computer collapses and forms a black hole long before it reaches the required size."
Let me put it a third way. Let's say to predict the outcome of your brain requires ten information. However, crossing the boundary of your skull is only six information. To find out the other four would mean investigating the circumstances of your brain's creation, which means gathering, what, like 100? 1000? (No, way more than that.) By which time I need an entirely new ten information, because your brain has moved on. But it is even worse than this, because;
"Key factor in the above argument is that the system needs to be 'sufficiently complex'. In practice this means that he system needs to have a strong tendency of amplifying tiny causes into large effects. A human brain - with eyes and ears connected to it - certainly has that tendency."
I need not just the ten information about your neurons, but all the information in your environment that those neurons may be fed with. To do that, I need the information about the environment's environment, so I can predict the environment, and to do that...well, you see where the black hole comes from.

That said, there must be some shortcuts, because some predictions can be made. The fact that you aren't daily surprised by your confederates disproves this;
"The thing is: given the fundamental laws of physics, for a system of sufficient complexity you can not predict its future. For that to happen you need a shortcut to describe the deterministic evolution of our universe. However, such a shortcut does not exist."
You don't need the universe as a whole because effects diminish with distance. Just as 99% of an electron's probability can be found within a few angstroms, 99% of the contributions to human action can be found on Earth or its immediate surroundings.

There's no physical difference between an unpredictable system and an indeterminate system. Simply put, the prediction computers are part of physics, made of physics; if physics wants to know what it'll do, it's out of luck too. For me to be sure of what you'll do I have to wait for you to do it, and for physics to know what physics will do, it has to go and do it. As an example, imagine two electrons, one of which is unpredictable, the other, random. From any point except the electron in question, can you think of an experiment to tell the difference?

(Hmm, I think I just figured out how to precisely define free will.)

Even if physics is ultimately deterministic in some sense, it is not possible to notice. That said, there may still be a philosophical line of inquiry.

Though these lines of evidence seem independent, since they all point to the exact same conclusion, they must be related. They are likely different facets of some underlying truth.


Given that we now know the two are indistinguishable, was there an easier way we could have found that out?

For free will to exist, it must be causally linked to physics. Let's use the example of going for a walk to buy milk, or not, as the case may be. From the perspective of physics, which is implementing the transaction, is there any way to tell the difference between a chosen cause of a milk run and an unchosen cause? There isn't; there can't be. The thing, whatever it is, must plug the same way into the same socket.

(Just a tad shorter than doing it the hard way.)

That the two were indistinguishable was a conclusion available to Socrates and Aristotle. Charitably, I'm going to say they were busy and that's why they didn't get around to figuring it out. Though modern understandings of physics are certainly a big help; that just means Hume could have figured it out and didn't, and he wasn't as busy as Aristotle. Spent too much time arguing with people and not with reality.

This is also corroboration. The upward and downward conclusions are matching.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Higgs vs. Epistemology

Higgs boson helps me learn about learning. Also I find a connection to hypocrisy in the latter part of the second section, which is primarily about my experiment regarding intuition.

It's hard, so let's give up. (Via.)
"For the rest of us, I suspect, the Higgs belongs in the same category as various other parts of modern physics: It is yet more evidence that the human mind, to the extent that it was designed by natural selection to truly comprehend anything at all, was designed to comprehend the macroscopic world, not the microscopic world."
From earlier,
"Wait, what does that mean? You mean if the Higgs boson disappeared, then the other particles would exist but wouldn't have mass?"
You understand a thing when you can play 'what if' and win. A lay article can therefore be written by simply listing all the answers to the game. So what, was my brain not designed by evolution? I don't seem to suffer from the handicaps I'm supposed to suffer from.

Reading between the lines, it would seem that Wright was told that the Higgs is the reason for energy-mass equivalence. Checking this assumption, and having to do more inference, I found that the Higgs is the reason certain particles have rest mass. (So, falsified.)
"Using the Higgs mechanism they found that the carriers of the weak interaction, the W and Z bosons, have large masses, whereas the corresponding carriers of the electromagnetic force have no mass."
Remembering that Wright disavows that this is correct,
"Higgs is like "molasses" that, by resisting the movement of all those non-Higgs particles, gives them mass."
Backwards. The laws of physics are better understood as a list of things particles cannot do. It transfers to them rest mass, therefore they can't travel at light speed. Everything else can, so it does.

Turns out, further down Wikipedia does explicitly state the scientific conclusion.
"the Higgs field, the proposed origin of all rest mass"
At least this shows they're consistent; though Wright's point may hold for La Wik too.

Returning to my proposal about a game of what-if, I'll state a couple hypotheses. If the Higgs field did not exist, all particles would travel at light speed. As light speed particles ignore time or equivalently see a two-dimensional universe, it would be a boring universe.
More importantly, the electroweak field would have seen no symmetry breaking, which is an even more radical departure from fact, though I can't say what specifically. The W, Z, and photons would all be more similar, with far-reaching consequences.

I will further hypothesize that W and Z bosons are excitations of the weak field, which inevitably also excites the Higgs field at the same place.

Higgs as Experiment Fodder for Intuition

I have previously made predictions about the Higgs.
"You shouldn't need a particle to couple particles to space - it would mean the Higgs either was recursive or has no position."
In other words, one of Wright's points is correct, I wrongly attributed bad science journalism to bad science. That said, I still caught the bad reasoning.

Because I found the causal link, I believe that my beliefs about the Higgs were a result of my beliefs about gravitation and space curvature.

Which means I'm deriving new truths without conscious effort.

This is consistent with my observations of others. I have been able to predict actions based on professed ideology. I have larger implication or inferential distance than average, which means I can consciously appreciate the connection between ideas that many subject cannot - however, they still act consistently with those ideas at these out-of-logical-eyeshot distances.

Which is a problem when the ideas are false.

A note for anyone wanting to replicate the experiment: some beliefs are taken more seriously than others, and only serious beliefs activate the subconscious inferential system.

In other words, there are at least two classes of hypocrisy. There's the kind where it does affect their beliefs and they say it doesn't, and the kind where it doesn't affect their beliefs and they say it does.

For example, you can catch unwary Christians in contradictions of fact about evolution.
If I bring up the evolution without priming them on Christianity, then ask them about Christianity, they'll claim their beliefs about Christianity don't affect their beliefs about evolution. (If I or something else primes them on Christianity and then I ask them about evolution, they'll go all sophistic, following the lead of their favourite politicians and/or preachers, trying to dodge the facts.)

A Christian who is also a paid evolutionary biologist will say their beliefs about evolution are consistent with Christianity, but they'll be different from the unwary Christian above; instead they will have beliefs consistent with their less religious colleagues.

I can only predict actions based on the former hypocrisy. The first is epistemic hypocrisy; they claim to learn and conclude differently than they do. The second is ontological hypocrisy; they claim they believe things they essentially don't. The first says it is raining but that's not why they believe the ground is wet. The second says it is raining but they don't believe the ground is wet.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Juxtaposition IV: Historian Tone and Atmosphere

Real history doesn't tell a clean political narrative.

I think this (via) is great, but it must be incomplete, because it tells a political tale. And frankly, I'm just bored of that kind of the tone.

This is different. Sadly not well compartmentalized - there's some horse shoeing, and some well-founded speculation on the industrial revolution, and to hear it I have to max my volume. But, looking at these next to each other, the difference is surprisingly stark.
I guess pure academics suck at presentation?

Note the main thrust of the first, that which he so strenuously strives to convince you of, is simply taken for granted by the second. Renaissance? The industrial revolution began in part 2000 years ago, when farriers first recognized themselves and plied their trade.

Democracy is the Opposite of Itself

Having written that you can find democracy, or freedom, but never both, I now look for indications I could be wrong.

Alan Macfarlane defines what he means by democracy. (Pathway.)
"Voting is a little bit of it, but it is the end product. [...]
In general it means a freedom to discuss, to talk about what you want to talk about. To act and to participate in running your own life. To form into organizations. And generally to take control of your life."
I must admit, by this definition, we live in a highly democratic society.

You may have noticed it is monotonically becoming less democratic, and has been since about 1830. Possibly since 1651, though I don't have good data about these periods. (Specifically I don't have enough to check for contradictions.) However, Macfarlane himself has furnished me with information showing that the democratic culture in England, as judged by this definition, goes back almost a thousand years. It seems he read Gregory Clark and was even able to extend the thesis.

Predictably, I blame voting. My proof holds - voting makes it legal to change discussion, self-direction, and association to be illegal, and every year more of these things indeed become illegal. Most recently, the freedom of American to associate with medical insurance companies has been outlawed, and they may no longer run this part of their life.

This may not seem to sit well with my belief that voting doesn't do anything. My habit of choosing words carefully saved me here - though I wish I'd remembered it in the article about voting. Voting does nothing for the voters, but it still makes changing the laws legal. Supposedly POTUS can change the healthcare laws because the administration was voted in.

Rest assured, the laws would have been changed anyway, though perhaps not exactly when they were. For example, when were the immigration laws changed? Where was the SCOTUS decision on that? There's a recent, mostly trivial case, decided apparently a couple weeks ago. Mass immigration started in what, the seventies, ramping up in the late nineties? Point is, decades ago.

Find the people who made that decision, and you've found the actual president of USG. They have a names and addresses, though I can all but guarantee no journalist knows them.

"Though only a part is voting for someone who acts as your representative." 
I'd much rather pay for a representative, because then I'd be able to fire them. Notice that I cannot dissolve the position in a democracy. Even though it has become obvious that presidents don't do anything, I cannot vote to not have a president. Who's really in charge here? Moreover, I don't even have a de-facto power to vote him out, because I don't own a voting bloc.

At least with a paid representative, I can withdraw my consent, as signalled by the withdrawal of the cash.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Platonic Calculations and the Business of Giving Assumptions

Given certain assumptions, there are certain logically inevitable conclusions that you can calculate. I realized I should ask myself, where do the axioms of Peano arithmetic come from in the first place? Who's business is it to dole them out?

Page 80. (Via.)
"I also emphasize that, when I insert the Platonic output of a computation as a latent node in a causal diagram, I am not making a philosophical claim about computations having Platonic existence. I am just trying to produce a good approximation of reality that is faithful in its predictions and useful in its advice."
Technically speaking to solve the problem you not only need the givens, but need to assume or be given the rules of logic themselves.

Isn't 678 * 987 equal to 669,186 regardless of how well the calculators are constructed, regardless of electronic glitches or damage in transit?

The normal thing to say is that it is equal to 669,186 regardless of any facts about the physical world. My answer is that logic and arithmetic are facts about the physical world. Arithmetic works because it ultimately describes physics, which means physics described it long before we did.

If the calculator doesn't display 669,186 I can conclude it is broken. There's the calculation it is doing and then the calculation it is (platonically?) supposed to be doing, and they're different.
Imagine I dump 987 piles of sand into one sandbox, each exactly 678 grains. If my subsequent fully vetted count isn't nearly 670,000, then either I'm not creating an analogue of multiplication, or multiplication doesn't work the way I think it does. For the former, my experiment design is broken, because physics doesn't work the way I think it does. For the latter, multiplication doesn't work the way I think it does, which means my understanding of physics is broken. Either way, not the sand's fault.

Thing is, in such a world, would it have ever occurred to me that the answer might be nearly 670,000? I submit: no. Even if it occurs to you that your world might be fundamentally different, it is impossible to work out how.

Verification: try describe a world where A=A is false. A!=A. What does a thing look like when it doesn't look like itself? If that works, maybe you can tell me what multiplication might have looked like if it wasn't what we've got. Or, what an alternate world would have instead of multiplication. If you try to tell me these things are platonically impossible, then I'll ask you how it knows it is supposed to be impossible. What stops it?

Things like this are probably impossible to prove. It questions questioning itself; it tries to verify verification. You need some framework to hang arguments off of, and here I am wondering how to get a grasp of the framework. A hand, trying to grab itself.

Which itself interests me. If I'm trying to make a hand grasp itself, how do I get the answer 'no' at all? Shouldn't my brain just crash?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Juxtaposition III: Elites,. Identity and Values

Pax 1:
"It's immoral to sell things like sugary sodas and tabloid journalism to rubes who are too ignorant to know they shouldn't want it."

Pax 2:
"If you give people what they want, and what they want is frowned upon by elitists who know better, this happens."

"If you grew up on anti-depressants, can you ever know 'the real you'? "

Via Soto:
"Rousseau was also the unwitting founder of the psychology of the Real Me, that is to say of the inner core of each of us that remains immaculate and without sin, however the external person actually behaves."
If I were to write a post about how the 'real you' actually works, would it help? (Error for reference.) Summary: the real you is what you'd do absent having to appear respectable; alternately satisfying your real values. Social restrictions are singled out because they're arbitrary, unlike e.g. physical restrictions like having to eat.

The third includes narcissism.

"While I have normal jealousy, and issues with deception, raising someone else's kid isn't a big deal for me. They don't have my genes, so what? They'll have my ideas. I think this attitude is primarily genetic." There's some responses in the thread.

"No, dear. Liberals don’t come from liberals’ babies. They come from yours."
I freely admit I have a liberal neurology. It is at least helpful for figuring out the deep causes of liberal actions.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Child Morality by Counter-Example

Update: called it.

This post is for anyone who thinks they need to hit their kids to make them behave. Or, less extreme, that they need legal authority over them, or even that they need society to back them up in unilaterally imposing rules on them.

I was punished exactly once by my parents and exactly twice by my school. Both school instances were due to me throwing a snowball at a tree. (Unless you count a stern talking-to, I don't.)

As for the one time being sent to my room, my mother asked me to do something and then I didn't, deliberately provoking her in front of guests. I was hoping she'd punish me and then she did. Later, she conditionally apologized for even that, and I tried to communicate that I'd done it on purpose without actually admitting outright it was essentially a cold calculation. (This is not the only time 'authorities' apologized to me after reacting to my semi-conscious provocation.)

I care deeply about morality. I make a point of not only not lying, but not deceiving, except in self-defence. (Though admittedly this is partly because it's a challenge.) By all means, point out what I'm doing wrong or might be doing wrong, because if it is something I haven't noticed, I'd like to stop.

Verification: was my school lax, or was I considered a good kid? Not using my parents because the situation is complicated and I bet you don't care.

On a few occasions exploited my reputation as one of the good kids to get away with breaking the rules and being tattled on. I specifically chose things I'd seen others get punished for. While amusing, I sadly can't do that anymore due to my no-deception experiment.

Which conclusion do you prefer: I'm some moral genius who doesn't need moral instruction, or are you simply wrong about how children learn morality?

If moral authorities should be able to hit their lessers to make them behave, then apparently I should be able to hit you to make you behave.

I'm okay with either.
I'm tired of the bullshit justifications for having it both ways.

Of note because in the past people always choose exactly the wrong moment to listen to me: once you start hitting your kids, it's hard to stop because the process is self-reinforcing. As I was only ever hit by other kids, I'm not sure exactly why, perhaps they acclimatize to the level of punishment. Though it seems to me that kids are so naturally obedient that if you send the message, "You won't behave unless I hit you; it's for your own good," and then you stop hitting them, they'll obediently stop behaving in support of that notion.

"Once these sacred relations become a society’s moral constitution, as in our “One Nation Under God,” they cannot be undone without risking collapse of the public order that secures personal welfare."
I read this as saying not-God morality isn't impossible, however God morality crowds out other kinds, which means once you have God morality, even if a better alternative is developed, swapping it out isn't a decision to be made lightly. Similarly, swapping out hitting morality isn't to be done lightly. However, if you have a clean slate....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another Anarchist Psychology

I'd really like to find a philosophy or group I can get behind without reservation. Can't. They're all hypocritical, which means self-condemning. That and I just think they're evil. Even standard anarchy needs substantial repair. Were I monarch of America with America's megalomania, I'd end up declaring war on everyone, including every other internal faction.

Priority one is the the search for something I can support, but a very close priority two is figuring out how to live cheek-by-jowl with so much that I think the world would be better off without. Quite aside from the moral aspects, even America's monarch-equivalent doesn't have the power to rid the world of the things they wish to rid it of, and anyway I don't want to find or design a philosophy that only works for the top 0.1% of 0.1% of the powerful. (Not because it might be evil, I just find it lacks aesthetically.)

The key is that all these hypocritical groups most likely think the world would be better off without me. Priority one and two merge. The philosophy I can support is one that suggests I should be left alone, and travelling back through the mirror, that means that I leave everyone else alone, unless they won't let me.

Take this alone and you're already hip-deep in a thick mixture of anarchy, property, and freedom. Making me not an anarchist means showing me how the above plausible alternatives aren't giving back less than their opportunity costs. And aren't just kinda evil.

There's also hearty chunks of physical violence. If there were no other considerations, this would justify unlimited retaliation against anyone who doesn't let me leave them alone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On the Resistance Against Imposed Taxes, and

I found one of my psychological foundations for being an anarchist, as in, not simply anti-schooling. It hit me when I read this, (via, emphasis mine):
"Thus, because in the Reign of Charles the First, resistance to Taxes imposed by the authority of the King alone was justifiable, and the contrary doctrine of having taken the names Passive Obedience and Non–Resistance, those terms became odious; therefore in the Reign of George the Third, resistance to Taxes imposed, by the King, Lords and Commons, upon America while not represented in Parliament, is justifiable also;"
Rulers impose taxes. That is, Hutchinson straight up admits that the subjects are physically forced to obey, entirely at the discretion of [insert ruler]. According to Hutchinson and fellow adherents to his philosophy, the King has his right because his stick is bigger than yours.

What has always bothered me is that Hutchinson thinks the 'Rebellion' is Wrong when it argues back using the same terms the King argues, force of arms.

The Rebellion and similar groups simply wish to put to the test the King's claim to right; does he have the bigger stick? What in fact happens if the Rebellion doesn't simply roll over when he voices his demands? Certainly I can see why King wishes not to have it tested, and thus why the King forwards a moral argument against it, but having put this King's reaction in the same plain terms Hutchinson puts the Rebellion's actions, it becomes plain that neither have the high ground. Sadly, it bothering me is a good indication it bothers basically nobody else.

Moldbug's summary of the period says England should have utterly crushed the colonies, just as America utterly crushed Iraq. However, just as the army was subsequently sabotaged in Iraq, Whig forces in England sabotaged the fight against the colonies.

The King in fact had a bigger stick, but could not impose taxes regardless.

Extrapolating the trend line, soon such a war could be fought and won without killing anyone at all. However, there's still a question of the exact mechanics of Whig sabotage. Just as prewar Hitler could get away with vigilante violence, perhaps Whig sabotage only works if the army is half on their side to begin with, and has no chance against determined opposition.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Linguistic Torture Follow-up and Epiphenomenalism

Epiphenomenalism thinks it is dualistic but it can't possibly be. It is inconsistent. Either it is a species of physicalism or it isn't epiphenomenalism.

(Similarly, selfishness is either egoistic or not selfish.)

I found this out by thinking about the mechanics of an epiphenomenal consciousness. The problem is that our consciousnesses in particular think that they are in control of material objects; to whit, my cellular body. Epiphenomenalism is the hypothesis that this isn't true.

However, how does the epiphenomenal mind know which things to think it is in control of? The only way is if the physical causes it to know; one-way causation. You think of picking up a phone, your cells indeed pick up a phone, which means the physical brain, which decided to pick up the phone, informed your epiphenomenal mind that it was going to do so. Otherwise, you'd immediately notice the fact of epiphenomenalism, because you'd decide to pick up the phone, but you wouldn't actually do it. The mind has no effect on the physics, but the physics happily chains the mind.

This means the mind just is the physics. The mind does whatever the physics tells it to do, and nothing else. The mind is simply another aspect of the physics.

Which means that epiphenomalism cannot be true, as it is self-contradictory. (Just as selfishness cannot be the opposite of altruism, as that would be contradictory.)

Epiphenomenalism is proposing something which is part of the physics but doesn't do anything. If you remove the epiphenomenal mind from your model, the model's predictions do not change, which means if you removed the epiphenomenal mind from a world, the world would not change.

It is trying to tack something onto the physics, but it doesn't work. Its descriptions of the proposed thing all boil down to mean nothing.

For me, this is a longer and parochial proof that existence means interaction. If you can poke it, it can poke you back. If you can't poke it, it cannot exist in any meaningful sense.

Of course you're welcome to be wrong, but if you think epiphenomenalism is coherent, that altruism isn't selfish, or that things can exist yet be immune to experiment, you're simply wrong.

"James (1879), who rejected the view, characterized epiphenomenalists' mental events as not affecting the brain activity that produces them “any more than a shadow reacts upon the steps of the traveller whom it accompanies”."
Shadows affect the traveller. Specifically, it has an effect like a slight pressure. Light has energy, which means mass. By blocking the light, the traveller will feel a small gravitational pull everywhere except from the shadow, which amounts to a slight pressure. More transparent travellers will feel less pressure.

While this pressure is probably below the noise threshold, it is inevitably associated with other events which are not, such as the appearance of the shadow. I claim that James did not simply err in his choice of example, there are no such examples anywhere.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Don't Ride the Pendulum: Power

This is, if you know what to look for, a transparent power grab.
"I don't like the anything-goes liberalism implied in Tylenol's "whatever your normal is." No—get back to a very specific standard of normal!"
Invariably, this means 'impose my standard of normal.'

In rejecting the wrong and bad, it does no good to leap into the arms of a different wrong and bad. Why your normal? Why not impose my normal? If you can prescribe a better culture like a culture doctor, I can too.

There's a specific thing wrong with the proggy anything-goes normal. They don't acknowledge (out loud) that some normals are better than others. What Charles Murray just said, basically.

The people who proggies have in their sway are no more idiotic than the people previously under the sway of monarchy etc. Proggressivism works for them about as well or better than the previous option, or they wouldn't have taken it. (Either that or 'sheeple' is an exact and correct term, meaning the peasants have no will of their own to override. Let me know if you prefer this option.)

What makes a normal better is that it achieves goals better. While most share the same goals, not all do. Using the standard of some normals being better, it depends to some extent on who is using the normal. As with economies, normals are a tool, they should serve the user, not the reverse.

In particular, imposing a specific normal rejects eccentric goals - it alienates elites, the exact fatal mistake the monarchies made.

Guys! Even disregarding that it's mean and selfish, it's not a good idea to work towards an order where the optimal strategy for the very smart is to destroy you!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Juxtaposition: Pattern Hunting

There's a pattern here, so I'm going to start writing and see if that helps me put my finger on it.

Should I be tactful, or should I just call this guy (via) a moron?
"Cooksey first heard from the state board just a few days after he attended a diabetic nutritional seminar at a local church. During the question-and-answer session, he expressed his disagreement with the view of the speaker—the director of diabetic services at a nearby hospital—that diabetics can eat anything they want, but should focus on whole-grain carbs and avoid fat. Someone from the seminar filed a complaint with the state board, charging that Cooksey was acting as an unlicensed dietician."
Heh, 'somebody.' I'm going to have to think real hard to come up with who.

Trusted authority.
Insulted a noble.

How do you get through public school without realizing that the anointed are legally immune to criticism? Sure they talk a fine line, but never, ever mean it. There's any number of posts on this blog that would bring 'the process' down on my head, if they're waved in front of the wrong person's nose. None of them are formally illegal, but Cooksey is a moron for acting like that matters.

Of course I'm also a moron.
"That last link, by the way, is exceptionally data-rich, and well worth bookmarking for reference—if you are among the 0.0000001 percent of us who care about data." (Via. I bookmarked, as suggested.)
There's a lot of commentary regarding proggies and facts. Or logical consistency. Unprincipled exceptions. Hypocrisy.

Only, it is perfectly normal for human being to ignore facts. Conservatives do it all the time, at any rate. Alt-right version. (Via.) For example, the fact that haranguing proggies about facts has never accomplished anything.

Almost everyone claiming to care about facts or science is trying to pull a fast one on you, and the correct response is laughter and ridicule. (Including scientists; "For no reason I know, works of philosophy are compromised by even a typo in the introduction, but in science you can open with a golden shower anecdote and no one notices." Naturally scientists can't keep up with a philosopher's standards. Most philosophers can't either.)

Similarly, I've earned a lot of ridicule for not testing this assumption earlier. Reality's really had to beat me over the head with this one; looking back, I've had many, many previous opportunities to put this together.
"The facts are clear. This cruel austerity experiment has failed."
I'm sorry sir, but I'm not going to take your word as proof that you care about the facts, and I was a fool for ever having done so.

(Link is an utterly predictable propaganda piece. You could write the whole thing yourself given a few disjointed words: SWPL, austerity, Guardian, Greece, facts. But, is it any wonder proggies want to reform Man? That this kind of propaganda is effective certainly makes me want to resign in shame from being human.)

While on the subject of morons, they make gulls (earlier) destructive even without liars.

The ignorant, ignorant of their own deficiency, spout nonsense of various kinds. Gulls believe them. Gulls then vote. The gull's depleted resources are then refilled by skimming the coffers of the responsible and capable. Then we vote again.

You can attack the ignorant for being ignorant, but on average they won't hear about it. However, attack the gullible for being taken in, and they'll likely buy it.

Talking about gulls, how do I know I'm personally gullible? Because I bought the idea that the Enlightenment changed things. Haha, nope. It changed who the nobles were, and changed almost nothing about the lot of the peasants.

Come to think, our rich peasants are credited to science, which is attributed to the Enlightenment. That's probably propaganda. Do I have any evidence it isn't propaganda?
No, instead I have several reasons to believe it is. First, the exponential wealth growth line goes back to at least the Black Death. Second, science clearly worked just fine under monarchy and Christianity. Third, attributing it to the Enlightenment is flattering to the current ruler class.

I agree that science is a prerequisite for more wealth, but the Enlightenment philosophy is not clearly better for science in overall effect. At least, to wring something useful out of it, I had to do serious editing.

I seriously can't think of any anti-propaganda evidence. Weird. I recall forgetting something important here, though.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Notes on Byzantium vs. America

Spandrell reviews a book in at least two parts.

Emphasis mine:
"Byzantium died from suicide, not murder. Infighting between the army and the bureaucracy in Constantinople ended with the victory of the capital and the hollowing out of the Anatolian army, leaving the territory undefended."
Sounds familiar. America? This is your future. In this case, I suspect it will be a suicide cascade. An attempt to bandage one self-inflicted mortal wound will spark the final conflict between State and Pentagon, between Brahmin and Amerikaner, and the Brahmins will win a Pyrrhic victory. If you're lucky, the Pentagon will surrender without shooting too many people first. I suggest having an alternative already lined up. During a crisis, the peasants get open minded.

"Byzantium might have been an autocracy, but there were no clear rules of succession and court intrigue was a staple: [...] because in principle the Roman Emperor was selected by common acclamation of the Senate, the People and the Army."
Good to know America's studied its history. It would sad if I wasn't able to predict how it will fall. Thanks, Americans!

The rest of Candide's quote is facepalm inducing too.

"It was a constant struggle between the Constantinople-based bureaucratic noble families who actually ran the country, and the army leaders from the provinces who ensured there was a country to run."
Surely, America didn't copy all of Byzantium? I'm sure there's a difference somewhere.
"The army tended to win, which means there was a sort of tradition of ambitious generals revolting and seizing the throne for themselves."
Ah, I feel much better. Nowadays it is considered gauche to seize rule by force, so the bureaucracy wins instead.

I wonder how much effect the mass media has? Would the army have stormed Washington already if it wouldn't have been instantly reported to everyone? In Byzantium, lacking telegrams, by the time most the empire learned there had been a coup, the thing would already have been done and over with, all organized resistance wiped out. Or would the modern units simply refuse the command, by common agreement of its illegitimacy?
"They were cowardly and unwarlike and appeared to be unserviceable for anything brave."
Perhaps modern bureaucrats are waiting for the un-braving of the armies to finish before they make any overt moves.

Oh hey, new possible reason for the middle eastern wars. Peacetime training is bad. Without action, your army's skills will atrophy. With bureaucrats incessantly threatening their power base, generals can't afford a badly trained army.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Experiment: One-Article Constitution Corruption

The Constitution of the United States didn't work.

But let's try to fix it. I'm going to design a new one, and I want you to try to corrupt it. If nothing else, it will lead to a better understanding of why the original didn't work, and secondly, you'll never find out if the method is repairable if you don't try to repair it.

Inspired by China's Bad Emperor Problem. (Via.)

Problem: removing bad rulers.
Epistemic technique: turning the tables.
Solution: remove the subjects. Let the ruler stay.

You know, exit.

My proposal:

All taxes and other support from citizens may be freely withheld by citizens at any time and for any reason. The state may not punish, harass, or otherwise aggrieve citizens who exercise this option, directly or through the state's agents or allies, whether in an attempt to change their mind or for any other reason.

Also, unlike the American founders, I would write an addendum pedantically spelling out my interpretation, repeated from multiple angles. Like crime, argument cannot be eliminated - but, like crime, it can be dramatically curtailed. First example, I'd allow the state to withhold services from protesting citizens, but only if also withholding punishments. Another, having higher hospital fees for protester than foreigners is clearly ridiculous, as would be trying to force protesters to use state hospitals, without offering state subsidies.

So first attack, by me: perhaps add an all-or-nothing clause? The state can still do the subsidy/regulation thing in an attempt to woo back the protester, but only wholesale.

Wait, better. If the state wishes to 'provide' incomplete 'service', then the protester must explicitly consent to all 'services' applied.

Necessarily exit has to be protected, either by an implicit or explicit constitution. (Ref Eduardo Saverin, "Although Washington still hits up departing citizens for a tax on any unrealized capital gains—my Cato Institute colleague Dan Mitchell unkindly compared this to the “exit tax” imposed by German Nazis and Soviet Communists on departing Jews"

The implicit constitution does seem to support physical exit, but allow basically every other kind of barrier - social, financial, professional, etc.

Ironically, physical exit is a last-resort exit. It is an extreme reaction, whereas all you need is jurisdictional exit.

As a bonus, this constitution is negative, not positive. It does not grant rights to the state; it simply prohibits one thing, the wholesale outlawing of tax evasion. Which should never have been allowed by the state in the first place.

I should mention that the state is rich and I think therefore it can solve its own problems. For example, say Texas as a whole decides to protest, and as a result the military no longer wants to provide it with nuclear deterrence, but at the same time, knows that fallout from a strike on Texas would harm its interests. The solution? The military has tons of cash and manpower. Right now it can afford to cover practically the entire globe - it better be able to afford a freeloading Texas, if it really can't think of any better solution.

Come to think, the founders should have been able to figure out that real protest can only be a tax/resources protest. Did they not realize, or does this show that they weren't sincere?

Notes on Science's Essence

I see this a lot. (Via liked the Feynmann.) I figured I might as well write down what's wrong with it.

I strongly suspect there's a good reason for these kinds of misunderstandings. The first place I'd look is at the intuition - they sense something weird but are unable to articulate it in any kind of sensible way.

I just wish I didn't have to learn to articulate it for them. Part of it is that anyone who senses the same thing has no need to articulate it either; they recognize the code as the same code they would produce, and can work backward.

"This view is based on an almost sacred belief that the ways of the world are unshakeable, ordered by laws that have no moods, no variance, that what's "Out There" has no mind."

It doesn't matter, I'll show that by example. The law of gravity is normally considered time-independent. But let's say we were wrong about that.

gmm/r^2 ==> (gmm/r^2)(f[t]). There's variance.

Now it can be made obvious that variance isn't variance. At t = 1700AD, f[t] will have a specific, never-changing value. No matter when you do the figuring, gravity will always come out to the same thing during that year. You can also vary across space, and do the same reduction.

This is also how I know gravity has no time dependence, as time is relative. Gravity cannot tell if it is 1700 or not. Every moment seems like t=0, and f[t] where t=0 is a constant function. Any time dependence would either disprove temporal relativity, or simply get rolled into the gravitational constant, g.

Time independence implies itself, and time dependence implies independence.

What about moods? Perhaps random variance? (gmm/r^2)(f[t])(rand[])

While in this case we can't simply calculate out rand[], at any past moment it did have a value, which again, never subsequently changes.
There's a deeper but harder to illustrate problem with this, too. When does physics run rand[]? How often does it change? How does physics know it needs to change it then?

With quantum effects, it runs rand[] during every interaction - essentially, when the Schrodinger wave equation changes, there's variance on what it changes to. But gravity? One of the basic laws that the Schrodinger equation runs on? Perhaps there's a clever way that can work out...but there's certainly no easy way.

Again, if physics can't tell when it should be running rand[], it will either never run or run so fast that it is indistinguishable from a constant.

What about minds?

Sure, let's postulate that physics has a mind, why not. Point: it would be hard to predict.
Counterpoint: psychology is not futile.
The counterpoint looks, to me, like it utterly dominates. Indeed physics would be easier, because minds can learn language and thus you can talk to them. Theoretically, anyway.

"that we are a separate domain, creatures different from the order around us."
We're actually not. The brain is made of physics. I see human beings as the universe waking up and having a look at itself. We're part of the universe, which means the universe is thinking, seeing...having purpose. Through us. The 'world' does have a mind, for example, your mind.

But in any case Feynmann's statement can be re-cast without this inner/outer distinction.

The point of the process is that, at the end, the guess matches what happens, so that in turn, future guesses will match what happens, so that in turn, future actions produce the desired results.

And here's the thing: can physics make a guess? Can physics have desires? Well, close enough. Step one: make a planet. Step two: evolve some life... Thing is, anywhere there's no intelligence, there's no guesses to be matched to outcomes and no desires to be fulfilled. But defining the not-intelligence zones as 'outside' is a lot like defining not-atomic-nuclei zones as 'outside,' because there's no strong forces there.