Emily Believes, Do You Believe, Too?

Rocking your World since 1884

In this day and age of political correctness and word games, the hottest topics are those revolving around:

FAKE NEWS

The amount of confusion as to whether or not any news is true or false would be amusing, if it weren’t for the serious implications involved.

Emily was probably thinking along the same lines, although in a different context.  After all, asking someone “to believe” without convincing them completely has been going on since before there was language.

Consider this scenario.  A cave dwelling, some thousand centuries ago.  A young family huddles together.  Perhaps even several families, a tribe.  They may even huddle around a newly found discovery, fire.

The fire burns bright, but a young lad is curiously drawn to the darkness outside.  The moon is full, the stars are burning bright.  Mother dear, can I go outside tonight?

Absolutely not, she insists in no uncertain terms.  She doesn’t have the language to describe sabre-toothed tigers, giant pythons, and many other horrors of the dark.  But she can tell her son that he must remain.

Why?  But Why?

Because, she says.  The ultimate answer for any parent, before, and since.  You must believe me.  You must trust me.  Accept this as fact, as truth.

And this is what Emily touches upon.  Whether it is a religion, something hiding in the night, or whether Russians want to undermine American democracy, there comes a time when you must accept what someone tells you.  Whether you go beyond that in order to make up your own mind, well, that’s another story.

I never saw a Moor–
I never saw the Sea–
Yet know I how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.
I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in Heaven–
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the Checks were given–

 

Shivanomics

The time has come, as it must for all things weak and unproductive.

The old tree becomes dry, hollow, and falls to the ground, fertilizing the next generation of flowers.

Taking out the old, bringing in the new.

The old man leaves his home feet first, enabling a young couple to move in.

Who is at the bottom of all this change?

The pantheon of Hinduism has a great character for this, the god Shiva…

the destroyer.

For you must destroy in order to create anew.  Get rid of the old, bring in the young.

The time has come for that to happen to one of the oldest behavioral studies we have:

Economics.

Economists have failed us in so many ways that it’s difficult to describe.  In simplest form, consider these damning accusations:

  1. No economic model has any predictive value.
  2. After so many years and dollars of investment, there is yet to be a single (actual) statement that can be considered a LAW of economics.  Not one.

It’s best if we leave this simple.  And here’s the simple solution.

Shiva.

Yes, the destroyer must come and eliminate all things economic.  All tenured positions, all funded chairs, all areas of grant funding.

Shiva must visit the Nobel committee and get them to rescind the award, saving it for something more meaningful.

Shiva must erase every professional in government, banking, and finance house that carries the title of economist.  Shiva must come with her large eraser and make every journalist, every commentator, and every column that refers to economics go away.

That is what must happen for the situation to improve.  For now we spend so much time, energy, and money asking experts for their insights, and they have none.  For this they are never punished.

And for that, we must plead to Shiva.

It’s time to study Shivanomics.

 

 

Questions versus Answers

Some years ago…  alright, many years ago, I was in public school taking chemistry.  The star quarterback was in my class, and he wasn’t liking chemistry as much as I did.  But he had one of those new calculators, and I didn’t.  The teacher was a nice guy and let us share.

Guess what?  Yup.It's not what you know, it's how you know it.

I would do the problem and leave the answer on the calculator.  The quarterback would have the answer, and then hand the calculator back to me.  He passed the class.

Except one of us learned chemistry.

So, which would you rather have?

A) Answers, or …

B) Questions teaching you how to get your own answers?

That’s right, the correct answer is “B.”

And here’s the reason why.

If someone gives you an answer, how do you know it’s right?

If something changes later on, and you need a new answer, can you get it for yourself?

Best yet, if you understand the process of getting that answer, maybe you can apply it to another problem.  Right?

Right.

So, if someone offers you an answer, try saying “no thank you.”  Instead, ask them to show you how to get the answer yourself.  You’ll thank them someday.

 

Space isn’t big enough for: Soft Science

You’d think that living in infinite space with only a few other people on the entire surface of the moon meant you could do whatever you wanted, believe whatever you wished, and have no restrictions because there’s nothing around.

The further we look, the more galaxies we find.Here’s the rub.  There’s no room for mistakes, no room for wishy washy, no room for fuzzy and no room for ambiguity.

Am I making myself clear?

So, for all you wannabee spacers, think about what you’re going to take up there in terms of knowledge.  Because you want to be useful, what?

What are the soft sciences?  Anything that has to do behavior.  Economics comes to mind.  Psychology, sociology, even law and religion.  Go ahead, you can name a few.

What? you say.  How can you make such crazy outlandish claim?

I’m not.  I’m repeating something Richard Feynman once said.  He was a truly smart guy who thought about a lot of things.

Here’s what he said about understanding living things.  He came to this conclusion after spending hours watching paramecia under the microscope.  He decided its behavior was far more complicated than anybody recognized.  How then can we ever hope to understand humans if we cant even understand the behavior of such a simple animal.

Here’s a quote from his book, “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman”

So my impression of these animals is that their behavior is much too simplified in the books. It is not so utterly mechanical or one-dimensional as they say.  They should describe the behavior of these simple animals correctly.  Until we see how many dimensions of behavior even a one-celled animal has, we wont be able to fully understand the behavior of more complicated animals.

So, if you plan to head for the great beyond, plan accordingly, pack light, and for heaven’s sake, take only hard science.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

Hawking’s Intelligent T-Shirt

Image

My brother-in-law got me a fun T-shirt displaying this text:

1N73LL1G3NC3
15 7H3
4B1L17Y
70 4D4P7 70
CH4NG3
573PH3N H4WK1NG

I’ll let you wrestle through it, as that’s part of the fun.

There’s a little problem, however.

It’s wrong. Now, I don’t know if the late great Hawking said this, I haven’t checked as yet.  However, the definition itself is wrong.

Fundamentally, there are many things that can’t adapt to change.  In fact, I know quite a few people, generally ex-employees, that do their best to resist change.  That’s partly why they are “ex” employees.

Despite their resistance to change, despite their inability to adapt to change, I wouldn’t call them unintelligent.

That’s part of the problem with not having a good definition.

So, with all due (possible) respect to Stephen H., here’s my hat in the ring.

Intelligence is the reflection of the environment within our defined life form.

Let me break this down.  It starts off with “Intelligence is…”  So that part is easy.  Since it doesn’t have to deal with change, it’s directly related to something else.  So measurement should be easier.  Not easy.  Easier.

Next, it’s a reflection.  This makes our job easier, because that means there is going to be a “source” and a “target.”  Every reflection requires some form of mirror, and the mirror reflects light from some object (the source) to a mind, making an impression (the target).

What’s the source?  It’s the environment.  Buckminster Fuller said it best: Environment is everything but me.

Here’s the fun part.  Where’s the target?  It’s going to be “inside” something.

What is that “something?”

That’s OUR defined life form.  This is the trickiest part, because most of the time no one takes the time to define who has the intelligence.  If we all agree we’re evaluating the intelligence of a mouse, then there it is.  If it’s the entire mouse species, that’s different.  If it’s going to be you, that’s one thing.  But if it’s going to be a whole bunch of us, that’s very different.

No single image summarizes our dread of Artificial Intelligence more than this.

Ever heard of group intelligence?  Some feel that groups are not quite as swift as individuals.  Now we can test for that.  What is the reflection of the environment within the group?  The group may have a great reflection, but if they can’t communicate it within themselves very well, then it doesn’t do them much good.  They would still be considered “intelligent” by my definition, but as many people have argued through the years, intelligence doesn’t always mean you’re smart.

There you have it.  This doesn’t quite answer a lot of the tough questions that are still out there.  Check out the post from 6 August 2018.  In the meantime, be careful out there.

Be intelligent.  Be smart!

 

Unnatural Selection

31 years old and full of fire.

It’s been a while since Darwin published his books about living things. I can’t think of anyone who should hold the title of the world first, and most famous, behavioral scientist.

There is a problem, however. And it’s built into both of his most famous books: Origin and Descent.

He must have known he was doing it.  But as I’ve noted before, taking on GOD did not seem like the best method for influencing the course of human history.  He made the right choice.  But it also means he left us a flawed work.

The flaw is the term “Natural Selection.”

This term appears 247 times in Origin and 155 times in Descent.

Why is it a flaw?

Because it means there are forms of selection that are not natural.

What can be “not natural?”

For one, it was a popular notion that anything people did back in those days was somehow different from what the birds and bees could do.  People can talk to each other and use tools.  Birds and bees couldn’t do those things… or did they?

Of course they could.  Only people didn’t know enough to know that.

People could also choose to cross-breed trees or flowers in ways no one had ever seen before.  These ways were also deemed to be “not natural.”

We had a term for that.  We called it “synthetic.”  So you could have natural selection, and then you could have synthetic selection.

There’s another problem.

People were also considered to be extremely special in the universe.  We had a direct wireless connection to the greatest server of all time, GOD.

So not only was our behavior beyond the natural, it was SUPER-natural.

Here’s where the problem surfaces today.

By limiting his ideas to what is considered natural, Darwin left the door open to those who want to believe that everything people do is somehow above and beyond the rest of nature.

And that’s the real problem.  Because being able to use the established tools of conventional science has been good enough to understand life from bugs to butterflies.

The same tools should be good enough to understand Beyonce and Bulgaria as well.

But we don’t allow it, because we feel that somehow, they are beyond our understanding.

We shouldn’t.  Nothing is beyond our ability to imagine.

Anything less?

Well.  That would simply be, unnatural.

 

 

Aum Versus Om

Little word with a big sound.Is it possible to turn my yoga class into a battlefield?

Sure!  Why not?  After all, as a writer, we have absolute power.  Don’t let it go to your head, however.

So, what’s the story?

The story is one of Aum.  Or Om, depending on who you listen to.

I’ve been doing this long enough to notice that some people like saying “Oh-mmm” as if it were two sounds.

Then there’s the peeps who enjoy saying it as if it were more sounds.  At least three.  Maybe five.  Maybe ten.

According to the guy at the bottom of this post, you should try and say every possible vowel sound.  Sweet.

According to many of the masters, including BKS, you should hear three.

Then again, according to my teacher, it’s alright to stick the “AU” together into an “O” sound.

Who’s right?

Everyone is “right” in the sense that each person is doing it the way THEY want.  If there was some great social cause in which the sound of AUM made a difference, then we could have a more logical discussion.  Since there are no external, quantifiable objectives, then this becomes a discussion about BEHAVIOR.

Part of the issue is that people like changing things, sometimes simply to have fun or be different.  This lends itself to something linguists call linquistic drift.

Let’s check out history.  Let’s look at videos of the old people saying it.  Let’s visit all around the world and compare.  Collect lots of data, find out that it is said many different ways.  And then what?

Look at the impact of what it DOES.  Are there bona fide physical implications about this “word” and how it’s pronounced?  (Disclaimer, there are, but that’s another column.)

How does it impact the preferences of the person arguing the issue?  Fact is, if it’s important to them, no matter what the reason (for now) then that’s a factor.

Finally, how does this impact every possible combination of people?  Starting with that one person, to that person’s partner and family, to that person’s neighborhood, to their country, and to humanity as a whole.  How does this behavior impact each of those different configurations of “peopleness?”

There you have it.  A way to answer OM versus AUM.  Personally I’m going for what this guy says below.  But getting the “right” answer to the question?  It’s the same process for AUM as it would be for capital punishment, or trading off democracy for autocracy.

That’s what science is all about.  Consistency of methods in understanding the universe around us.  And that concludes today’s practice.

AaaaaUuuuuuMmmmmm…..

 

 

This excerpt from Bill Moyers site  (bottom of that page)
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, that’s what people are doing all over the place. That’s what people are doing all over the place, dying for metaphors. And when you really realize the sound Aum, the sound of the mystery of the Word everywhere, then you don’t have to go out and die for anything, because it’s right there all around, and just sit still and see it and experience it and know it.
BILL MOYERS: Explain “Aum.” That’s the first time you’ve used that.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, “Aum” is a word that, what can I say, represents to our ears that sound of the energy of the universe, of which all things are manifestations. And “Aum”, it’s a wonderful word, it’s written A-U-M. You start in the back of the mouth, Ah, and then, Ooh, you fill the mouth, and M-m-m, closes it, the mouth. And when you have pronounced this properly, all vowel sounds are in that pronunciation: “Aum”. And consonants are regarded simply as interruptions of “Aum”, and all words are thus fragments of “Aum”, as all images are fragments of the form of forms, of which all things are just reflections. And so “Aum” is a symbol, a symbolic sound, that puts you in touch with that throbbing being that is the universe.
And when you hear some of these Tibetan monks that are over here from the Rgyud Stod monastery outside of Lhasa, when they sing the “Aum,” you know what it means, all right That’s the zoom of being in the world. And to be in touch with that and to get the sense of that, that is the peak experience of all. “Ab-ooh-mm.” The birth, the coming into being, and the solution to the cycle of that. And it’s just called the four-element syllable. What is the fourth element? “Ah-ooh-mm,” and the silence out of which it comes, back into which it goes, and which underlies it.
Now, my life is the “Ah-ooh-mm,” but there is a silence that underlies it, and that is what we would call the immortal. This is the mortal, and that’s the immortal, and there wouldn’t be this if there weren’t that.
BILL MOYERS: The meaning is essentially wordless.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes. Well, words are always qualifications and limitations.
BILL MOYERS: And yet, Joe, all we puny human beings are left with is this miserable language, beautiful though it is, that falls short of trying to describe…
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: That’s right And that’s why it’s a peak experience to break past all that every now and then, to realize “oh, ah,” I think so.

 

Where There’s Smoke

They always seem to go together.It’s no coincidence that if you see smoke, there’s fire somewhere inside.

If you live inside a house, you’re taught from an early age to save your life by GETTING OUT.

Drop.  Roll.  Know your escape route to safety.

That’s the easy way to save your life.

What if the smoke you are seeing isn’t from inside your home?

What if the smoke is coming from your society?  What if the news is full of tragic stories?  What if your family and friends are touched by random violence?

What if your planet is being harassed by unthinking newly arrived inhabitants, who litter, obliterate, and violate huge portions of its landscape?  What if the Amazon is cut down?  What if we fill the atmosphere with CO2 and methane?  Why does it matter if we drive so many species to extinction?

These are all variations of seeing the smoke inside your home.  Many people see the smoke, and are crying out as loud as they can: FIRE!

My question is this.  Why can’t more people see the smoke?  How many more cries will it take to move the majority of people?  What will it take to get governments to act?  Even more critically, what will it take to make all governments act in unison?

If you are studying any social discipline, including philosophy, these questions should be at the top of your syllabus.  Your “discipline” should have a methodology, a basis of axioms and reference in which you can answer this question.  Better yet, if your discipline is mature enough, it may even suggest an optimal route of making our world a better place.

If not, then, all I can say is…

Drop.

Roll.

And …

 

 

Greatest Tool in the Hardware Store

There is one tool that is more important than all others.  And you can find it in any hardware store.

and gave us fire.

I’m lucky in that my hardware store dates from the mid-1800s.  It should be a national historic landmark.  One of these days it will be, if it doesn’t turn into a restaurant first.

Back to the tool.

This tool wasn’t so much invented.  It was discovered.

As you move among the many things you can get in our hardware store, you’ll probably miss the boxes of matches.

That’s the tool.

The tool is fire.  Not just any fire, but fire on command.

If you’re putting a tool box together for yourself, or for a friend going off to college, make sure you include matches.

Powerful stuff.

Fire on Command gave us the ability to cook food, ward off the night, and ward off predators.

Fire on Command gave us the incentive to create families.

Families started learning to cook, store food for long periods, live off the local land, and finally how to farm.

Fire on Command gave those families a reason to start forming tribes.

Not just any tribes, but tribes that would stay together for generations.  Tribes that would work together to gather metal ores, fashion them into better tools, and work together to keep their enemies away.  Those tribes also started customs they followed to make living together easier.

Fire on Command gave those tribes a reason to start forming a nation.  The nation created armies that defended all the tribes.  The customs became laws.  The smelting of ores became chemistry and physics.  The nations improved to have internal combustion, nuclear power, rocket ships and mobile phones.

Thanks to Fire, Fire on Command.

So, the next time you wander the hardware store, pay your respects to the fire.  It’s the reason everything else exists.

Goodbye Soft Science

Makes as much sense as most soft science.What’s in a word?

Quite a bit, in fact.

There’s this “news” organization that calls itself “X News.”  Because it says “news” everyone gives it the same credibility as other organizations that deliver true news.

What is news?  We’ll talk about that some other day.

The fact of the matter is that when you are trying to sell something, and that something is not worth much, it’s to your benefit to disguise it.  Ask any fast-talking salesman.

So if your program is a bunch of talking heads talking nonsense, call it “news” so it has more credibility.

What about if your academic discipline is rather “funny” in itself?  What if your discipline has failed to advance our knowledge of its purported subject by any measurable amount during its entire existence?

Simple.  Call it a science.

If you’re a “real” scientist, like in chemistry, or physics, you’re not going to enjoy eating at the same table as an sociologist, or economist.

So you call yourself a “hard” scientist.  Your facts are hard.  Your experiments are hard.  Your conclusions stand the test of time and replication.  They are also hard.

What are the other guys?

So far we’ve been calling them “soft” scientists.

I suggest an improvement.

It’s time to give them a label that gives us a better idea as to what they truly are in the great scheme of things.

Squishy.

They are quite squishy.

You push them, and they move out of the way.

You can pinch, pull, stretch and fold them as much as you want, and they come back exactly the same.

That’s what economics, sociology, and a whole host of other such “sciences” can do.

So it’s time we call an ultra conservative talk show what it is.

And it’s time we call squishy sciences exactly what they are.

Squishy.

Now we need to drop the whole “science” bit from them.  But one step at a time.